Old Defensible Barracks

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Last week’s offering was a bit of a beast at over 3,000 words so I’m slimming down for this week’s post.

After doing a bit of digging the old Jac whiskers are all a-quiver because I suspect something odd may be going on in Pembroke Dock.

FIELD MARSHAL MITTY

You may remember that last year I wrote about Admiral Wing Commander of the SAS Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen VC, Croix de Guerre, Iron Cross (1st Class), Purple Heart and the Order of Lenin, who laid out his plans for Fort Hubberstone in Milford Haven. His new company Camp Valour CIC promised to turn the old base into a wonderland for ex-service personnel.

As my description of him might suggest, it was all bullshit from a fantasist named Sean Pullen. To catch up with the relevant pieces I wrote on the subject, scroll down to the section, ‘And finally, who am I?’.  Then to, ‘Camp Valour CIC’. Finally, to, ‘Camp Valour’.

But Hubberstone is not the only fort in the area. The Milford Haven Waterway has a number of old fortifications because they defend one of the finest deep-water anchorages on earth. All redundant because Johnny Frog is not going to be sailing with hostile intent up the Haven, and neither is anybody else.

Unlike medieval castles these fortifications from a later era don’t draw tourists, so they just sit there, attracting dreamers and schemers.

UPDATE 10.02.2020: Here’s fresh news received today from the Pembrokeshire Herald.

Click to enlarge

REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVE!

The problem often is that those responsible for these structures are so desperate to get shot of them that they succumb to the wiles of wide boys and worse. Which is what happened at Milford Haven.

According to the Milford Mercury, the site in Pembroke Dock has been bought by a company called VR 1844 Ltd. (‘Victoria Regina‘?) But has it really been bought?

Old Defensible Barracks, Pembroke Dock. Click to enlarge

The title document and plan I downloaded last week from the Land Registry website tells us the site is owned by a local couple. So if VR 1844 Ltd has bought the Old Defensible Barracks it hasn’t been registered.

Returning to the Milford Mercury, we are told that, “New owner, VR 1844 LTD, is a mix of history lovers, town planners and property developers who specialize in restoring historic buildings.” On reading that my first thought was, ‘That’s a strange mix’.

The report continued, “VR 1844 Ltd office manager Tanya McDermott said: ‘VR 1844 believe people never truly own a building but are the buildings guardians for a period of time'”. Which also struck me as odd, because in my experience property developers are pretty hot on things like ownership, and profit. They’re certainly not renowned for getting sentimental over buildings.

But there you go, maybe I’m getting old and cynical.

The Mercury describes Tanya McDermott as ‘office manager’, and she’s presumably the wife of one of VR 1844’s directors, Jonathan McDermott. Another director is Emma Jane Morby. McDermott and Morby are also directors of Raglan Gatehouse Developments Ltd, and Raglan 1857 Ltd. Raglan Gatehouse being a similar project to the Old Defensible Barracks in Plymouth.

With Raglan 1857 we find Tanya McDermott listed as secretary.

Jonathan McDermott seems to be respected in his field and I can’t find any other companies where he’s served as a director.

Turning to Emma Morby though we find seven companies in addition to the two Raglan companies and VR 1844 Ltd. These are:

Which means that of those seven companies the only one still breathing with which Emma Morby is involved is Goa Group Ltd, but as I suggest, it’s near the door. I don’t wish to be harsh on Ms Morby, but that’s not a record that fills me with confidence.

THE RICHES OF THE ORIENT

If we go back to the Companies House entry for VR 1844 Ltd and check under the ‘People’ tab, we find, in addition to McDermott and Morby, Lai Heng Seto and Trevor Iain Walker listed as directors. Both are residents of Singapore.

VR 1844 Ltd started life on 14 August 2018 as Muniment Yorkshire Ltd, before becoming Walker Property Developments Ltd in July 2019, and adopting the current name on 2 October. The final change coinciding with the arrival of McDermott and Morby on 23 October last year.

And if you think that Emma Morby has been involved in a few companies in recent years, then Trev’s record will make you see how a real property hot-shot operates.

For after doing some digging I have found no fewer than 28 companies with which Trevor Iain Walker has been involved, and from what I can see, they’re all property companies. Here’s a list of them in PDF format, so click on the links to get the details.

Singapore. Click to enlarge

What I find surprising about Trevor Walker’s business record is that the earliest entry I can find for him with Companies House is April 2014, when he was approaching his 52nd birthday.

What had he been doing before April 2014?

You’ll see that his early companies all carried the ‘Muniment’ name. (Muniment being a document or title deed proving claim to land or privilege.) Then there’s a two-year gap from December 2014 to December 2016, before Trev comes roaring back with two companies launched on the same day.

Also note that he was not in at the start with the first company, Muniment Ltd. This was Incorporated 12 September 2013, but as we’ve seen, Walker didn’t join until 8 April 2014. His seat was kept warm for him by Lai Heng Seto, who left on the day he arrived.

Ms Seto, you will remember, is also a director of the Pembroke Dock company.

The companies listed on the PDF document I’ve linked to are all companies of which Walker is or has been a director, with one exception, and that exception is Brigstock Campsite Ltd, a company registered in Northern Ireland. It is included because even though Walker was never a director he did control the company through Muniment Ltd owning most of the shares.

In the absence of Trevor Walker and Lai Heng Seto, Singapore was represented by Jody Cheoy Tho Eu and Lee Hung Lim. But it’s the other director I’d like to introduce, Alfred William Buller.

Buller is the son of William Alfred Buller who died in 2007. In the piece I’ve linked to you read of the ‘Sham Fight’ at Scarva – between King Billy and King James, an annual event that attracts as many as 100,000 people. Alfred Buller is, like his father, a prominent member of the Royal Black Institution who hob-nobs with the Unionist elite. (The ‘Blacks’ are an upmarket version of the Orange Order.)

When he’s not fighting popery and a united Ireland, Alfie (as he is known) is a horse  breeder and a businessman. In fact, he’s been a director of almost 200 companies. But he may also be bankrupt, which might put a question mark over his involvement in any company.

From Northamptonshire Telegraph 28.10.2016. Click to enlarge.

Going back to Trevor Walker and looking through his companies’ accounts a few things struck me. Let’s go to the oldest company in the portfolio, Muniment Ltd (current directors: Trevor Iain Walker and Lai Heng Seto), and open the latest accounts.

There you’ll see ‘Fixed assets’ and ‘Current assets’ totalling £9,652,355, which looks impressive, until you work out that 87% of that figure is accounted for by ‘Debtors’ (that is, money owed to the company).

Then, under ‘Creditors’ (money owed by the company), we see the figure £9,409,539.

Take one from the other and we arrive at the ‘Net assets’ figure of £242,816.

Click to enlarge

Page 7 tells us that Walker has been ‘advanced’ £5,197,757! This of course will be re-classified and appear under Debtors, and therefore Assets.

Go to the accounts for the previous year, 2017, where we learn that more than six million pounds has been taken out by Walker and Seto. Ms Seto is not mentioned by name in the 2018 accounts, so is the £3,578,457 she owes included in the Debtors column?

Will Ms Seto the director be asking Ms Seto the loanee to return the money she so generously granted herself? The same question could be posed to Trevor Walker. But then, when it’s your company, with no other shareholders, you can do what you like. Though to see amounts like that being taken out is unusual.

It makes me wonder where the money originates. Does it come from Singapore, go through the system, and then back to Singapore via Walker and Seto?

Click to enlarge

It’s worth mentioning that although I’m referring to ‘accounts’, none of these documents are audited, they’re just unverified ‘financial statements’ submitted to Companies House by the directors. In other words, those who are giving themselves millions of pounds.

One of the many failings of the regulatory system in the UK is that a company handling millions of pounds can submit back-of-an-envelope accounts. Or it can be done online. This may, as claimed, ‘remove red tape’, but it also makes it easier for those so inclined to be naughty.

(N.B. I’m not suggesting criminal behaviour by any of those discussed here.)

A WORD TO THE WISE

As with the case I dealt with last week, Anglesey County Council and the Shire Hall in Llangefni, I’m sure Pembrokeshire County Council would like to see the Old Defensible Barracks taken over and developed into an asset for the town.

But Wales sees rather too many ‘developers’ with over-ambitious or downright dishonest schemes. So before Pembrokeshire County Council, the ‘Welsh Government’, or Cadw goes overboard with red carpets and grant funding, I suggest they make a few enquiries.

  1. Establish who actually owns the Old Defensible Barracks.
  2. Investigate the business credentials of whoever you deal with and be sure where their money comes from. (Also, where it goes.)
  3. Only if these enquiries return satisfactory results should you proceed with any project for the Old Defensible Barracks.

♦ end ♦

 

Wales, colonialism and corruption

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I was hoping to take a break from shysters and con men, shell companies and money-laundering, lying politicians and stupid officials because my head is aching from banging it against a brick wall.

But there’s no escape. And those who manage Wales – applying a veneer of native control – are not only too stupid to recognise a crook in plain sight but they give or sell them public assets, or they throw money at them, and this is then dressed up as ‘investment’, which allows them to crow about jobs created . . . and this deception encourages them to anticipate being re-elected as a reward for these ‘successes’.

The disparate components of this post begin with a bit of a rant, an acceptance that corruption in the UK is institutionalised (and therefore unlikely to ever be done away with). Then I move on to consider the curious case of Llangefni’s Shire Hall, before ending with a quick roundup of other items.

SHIP OF KNAVES

After years of studying its underbelly I now believe the United Kingdom is corrupt to the point where no serious effort is made to tackle ‘financial crime’. The unstated view of officialdom is that money is money, and no matter where it comes from it still buys things in the same way as clean money. And once it’s in circulation, boosting the economy, who can tell the difference? Who cares?

Money being created out of nothing ties in with the general contempt at the highest levels of the UK Establishment for making things, and exporting them. Grubby, ‘pleb’ activities. Which in turn accounts for the North-South divide within England. And explains why the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the advanced world.

And yet, while manufacturing in general is held in contempt there’s still a nostalgic fondness for high-end, prestige goods. Defended with ‘Best of British’ jingoism. For example, volume car production can go to the wall but let’s keep making Bentley, Range Rover and Aston Martin.

A mindset mirrored even in the military, where the UK’s armed forces are probably on a par with Spain’s, but what the hell – ‘We’ve got nuclear weapons and the SAS’. Rule Britannia!

The obsession with money and some twisted view of ‘only the best’ is exemplified in the City of London, through which passes most of the world’s dirty money. The City of London with its web of offshore tax havens that begin in the Irish Sea and the Channel.

Or step outside the Square Mile to see where the oligarchs, the kleptocrats, and the mass murderers live . . . or maybe they just buy the big houses as investments. We recently read that Isabel dos Santos, described as ‘Africa’s richest woman’, said to have ‘ripped off’ her native Angola, owns a number of expensive properties in London.

What honest and self-respecting country would welcome and even celebrate kleptocrats like these? Click to enlarge

Under this system, this mindset, everything is monetised, even education. It’s now easier to gain a degree in the UK than perhaps any other western country. This is due the fact that universities are perceived as being businesses. If you can write your name and remember your address then you’re guaranteed a place at ‘uni’, with further money made from foreign students, who can be charged two or three times the rate for domestic students.

The United Kingdom is a ship crewed by knaves floating on a sea of dirty money. No one with an alternative staring them in the face should want to stay on board.

LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL

Having got that off my chest I’ll turn to a story I first covered back on 6 November. Here it is. In essence, the council on Ynys Môn last year sold the Shire Hall in Llangefni to an English ‘businessman’ named Tristan Scott Haynes.

My piece was prompted by an article I’d seen on NorthWalesLive. I’m returning to it now because the article reappeared in BusinessNewsWales again last Thursday. Repeated word for bloody word.

After reading the BNW article I telephoned Ynys Môn council and spoke with a charming young woman who confirmed that the Shire Hall had indeed been sold 22 August last year. Which made me wonder why there was no media coverage of the sale until November.

Having bought the title document for the Shire Hall when I wrote last November’s piece I was surprised to see that ownership for title CYM716217 was attributed to the council. So I went back to the Land Registry website last week and bought the title document again, assuming that it would now have been updated to show the change of ownership; but as you can see, the council is still listed as owner.

Perplexed by this, I decided to come at the problem from a different angle. You may remember that Tristan Haynes had a couple of companies, one of them was Chief Properties Ltd. There are two charges against Chief Properties and both list title number CYM635210, which is different to the title number I’d bought. (Which I now suspect refers to the new county council offices not far away.)

So it was back to the Land Registry website and the new number I’d unearthed. Here it is, title document and plan. Below you’ll see the Land Registry plan with a capture from Google Maps to give a fuller picture.

Almost a map of Israel (inc West Bank) with Afon Cefni serving as the River Jordan. And the Masonic Lodge on the border. Click to enlarge

The first thing that struck me was the size of this site, sold for £150,000 or less. (You’ll see from the links provided that the indent shaded green is the war memorial.) The title takes in the old town hall, the police station and magistrates court, together with a sizeable car park.

And yet, despite the sale having gone through last August, the title is still in the name of ‘Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn’. So why hasn’t it been transferred to Tristan Scott Haynes or Chief Properties Ltd?

You may have noticed that Haynes borrowed the money to buy the Shire Hall from Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheshire. And if that name sounds familiar it’s because our old friends at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, Paul and Rowena Williams, have outstanding debts with the same company. Together is one of those ‘specialist’ lenders to whom people turn when regular banks respond to loan requests with, ‘You must be joking!’

In the NorthWalesLive article in November (and of course the BusinessNewsWales piece last week) we were told that Haynes is the “managing director of Chief Properties” and “also runs a successful haulage firm”. All designed to impress, yet these are are both one-man bands.

Chief Properties was formed in August 2018 and the first director was Nadine Baldwin, who was joined in September by Haynes. Baldwin left the company in December 2018. I’m assuming there was some connection or relationship between Baldwin and Haynes.

The ‘successful haulage firm’ is Falcon Transportation Ltd. Incorporated 3 July 2015 and seems to have bumped along, doing very little since then. Haynes was the original director but stood down 1 February 2018 to be replaced by Julian Mayne. Haynes made a triumphal return in February 2019 the day after Mayne left.

When he wasn’t directing the haulage fleet in the temporary absence of Tristan Haynes Jools was the mastermind behind Low Cost Bills Ltd. Though when you look into the figures for this company you wonder what Mayne’s day job might have been.

Both of the Haynes companies are based at these imposing offices on Tavistock Street in Bedford. The building is owned by husband and wife David and Michelle Munday, whose company, Orchid National Nursing Supplies Ltd, would appear to use the building as a warehouse.

135 – 137 Tavistock Street, Bedford. Click to enlarge

There was another Haynes company I found, Bullet Strategies Ltd, which lasted about 18 months before being struck off in September 2014. The address given for this company was 8 Howbury Street in Bedford. A terraced house that seems to have been divided into two flats.

Since the November article Tristan Haynes has registered two more companies, both on 4 December. These are, Wasp HQ Ltd and Pine Eels Ltd. Strange names.

Although the company correspondence address for both is the Orchid warehouse on Tavistock Street the address given for Haynes himself is 33A St Peter’s Road, which suggests he might now be living above Bedford Dental Surgery.

On the Companies House website the ‘Nature of business’ (SIC) given for Wasp HQ is, ‘47781 – Retail sale in commercial art galleries; 47782 – Retail sale by opticians;
47789 – Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores (not commercial art galleries and opticians)’.

While for Pine Eels it’s, ‘47789 – Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores (not commercial art galleries and opticians)’.

Which might suggest that Llangefni Shire Hall will be used for art galleries and opticians . . . except when they’re not art galleries and opticians. (Glad we cleared that up.) And yet the article I’ve referred to mentioned a pod hotel and a conference centre. Are they covered by not being art galleries and opticians?

Come to that, why the hell are we talking about opticians?

To recap. The title was bought last August, Tristan Haynes already had his plans for the site, so presumably planning permission has been granted, or at the very least a  planning application or a request for a change of use has been submitted to the council.

Well, no.

The land was sold last August, there was a bit of publicity in November (regurgitated last week) and then, all of a sudden . . . nothing happened! Not even a change of ownership notified to the Land Registry.

After I wrote the original piece last November I was sent information on Tristan Scott Haynes. It obviously came from someone who knows him well. If only a fraction of that information is correct then Haynes is a dangerous and unprincipled manipulator.

I have chosen to withhold that information, for the time being. But I still have questions for Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn:

  • How was contact first made between the council and Tristan Scott Haynes?
  • Were background checks done by the council; checks that, for example, would have unearthed Haynes’ conviction and imprisonment on Malta?
  • Who recommended selling this land to Haynes?
  • Who authorised selling this land to Haynes?
  • Has the council been paid the agreed sale price?
  • Why hasn’t the Land Registry been informed of the sale and the change of ownership that took place over five months ago?
  • Has the sale definitely gone through?
  • What contact does the council now have with Haynes?
  • In the news articles Haynes talks of a ‘pod hotel‘. Does anyone really think that Llangefni needs such a venture?
  • Or is it to be an art galley – competing with the council’s own Oriel Môn just a short distance away.
  • And could the town sustain a ‘conference centre’? (Though I suppose the delegates could all stay in the pod hotel.)
  • Given his ambitious plans isn’t Cyngor Môn concerned by Tristan Haynes’ complete lack of experience in any of the options mentioned?

I know the county council is desperate to off-load this site but elementary checks on potential buyers are easy, cost next to nothing, and can save the vendor both money and embarrassment.

UPDATE 31.12.2020: I received an e-mail yesterday from the young woman I spoke with at Cyngor Môn. She wrote: “The sale was completed on the 22/8/2019. Registration of the Transfer at the Land Registry is a matter for the buyer following completion. We aren’t aware of any planning applications.”

What is going on?

WEEP FOR WALES 16B

Fans of the Plas Glynllifon/Seiont Manor saga (and I know there are many of you out there) will be wondering what happened when Paul and Rowena Williams took their erstwhile buddy and business partner, Myles Cunliffe, before the beak in Manchester a week last Friday.

Here’s the report that appeared in NorthWalesLive.

When I read the suggestion of illegality and fraud I was so shocked I had to reach for the smelling salts. Click to enlarge

Here’s some supplementary information I’ve been sent.

What wasn’t reported first off Paul Williams was actually wearing a suit! with a very bad floral tie 

Basically it was a total failure of a application on the Williams side and the judge was not impressed at all, it should never have got to court……. 

Because of this Williams had to pay Cunliffe his costs of £6,500 and if it has to go to court again Williams has to pay £10,000 up front to the court because of the cock up

Williams also has racked up a bill of £60,000 with his solicitors which the judge questioned how much and if the figure was even valid! 

The Judge agreed to the Companies House stuff to be submitted via Cunliffe because they have said they would do this all along (My guess is the Williams want the codes to do something dodgy) 

I even heard that Cunliffe’s solicitor give a quote to Owen Hughes and nothing is mentioned in Article (Though the person who was there didn’t hear the actual quote) 

I think Williams still has Owen in his pocket! 

Anyway  hope that helps”. 

It looks as if the Gruesome Twosome miscalculated badly, and so I think we can look forward to many more episodes of Weep for Wales.

THE WOODHOUSE MODEL

Another star who has graced this blog in recent years is Gavin Lee Woodhouse. He built up a portfolio of hotels and then went for glory, accompanied by Bore Grylls, with the highly ambitious Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

The ‘Welsh Government’ obviously thought Woodhouse was a great asset to the Welsh economy. Not only was he gifted hundreds of acres of public land for his Afan Valley fantasy but he was also awarded a £500,000 grant for one of his hotels, the Caer Rhun in the Conwy valley.

Click to enlarge

It all came crashing down last year when ITV News and the Guardian exposed his business methods. It was basically a ponzi scheme selling individual rooms in hotels.

The same business method is now being employed in Cardiff by the owner of the Coal Exchange. For obvious reasons investors are getting edgy, as this report from last November tells us. And concerns persist, as this report from last Friday confirms.

And yet, despite selling rooms individually being a discredited business model favoured by crooks, Cardiff council has agreed to give £2m to the Coal Exchange ‘developer’.

I can understand Cardiff council wanting to safeguard a landmark building, but is this the way to do it? If this goes the same way as Woodhouse’s empire can Cardiff council be sure of getting its £2m back?

VROOM VROOM

I’m not for one minute suggesting that those running Aston Martin and TVR are crooks, I’m simply using these companies as examples of the poor judgement and profligacy of the ‘Welsh Government’.

The Aston Martin car company has been enticed to St Athan near Cardiff with the promise of lots of public funding; while TVR is supposedly coming to Ebbw Vale as a consolation prize for the doomed Circuit of Wales.

I have a regular contact who is something of a petrolhead and he passes on items that he picks up in the specialist press. One recent tit-bit drew my attention to ‘Taffy66’. Checking his ‘garage’ i.e. the cars he owns, we find 4 Porsche and a Ferrari. Suggesting that Taffy66 is doing quite well for himself. (Perhaps he earns even more than a third sector CEO!)

Click to enlarge

You’ll see that he describes himself as “a proud Welshman who due to the nature of my business has no choice but to do regular dealings with the WAG”. So why don’t Drakewell and the gang hire him as an adviser. He must know more about business than them and their civil servants. (But come to that, so does my cat!)

The hard news on both Aston Martin and TVR suggests they are struggling financially and are very unlikely to provide the jobs anticipated.

Salvation for Aston Martin might come in the form of Chinese investment, but whether Geely would still go ahead at St Athan is a moot point. As for TVR, the specialist press is very sceptical about the company’s future, with the latest news being that the roof on the Ebbw Vale factory is leaking!

The ‘Welsh Government’ is spending on infrastructure for these companies, and pumping money into them, when it has no real control. A change of ownership and it could be a case of, ‘Wales! Where’s that?

No healthy economy was ever built by desperately bribing foreign firms to move to a country. This is nothing more than a colony funding colonialism. Which of course is how colonialism operates.

WATER

Water has long been an emotive subject in Wales, Cofiwch Dryweryn! and all that. But too many are lulled into silent acceptance, or even support, when the sirens sing of ‘renewable’ and ‘green energy’, seemingly blind to the fact that exploitation and colonialism come in many forms.

Last October in, Wales, with us but strangers, I wrote about the troubling case of the hydro scheme at Ystradffin, near Rhandirmwyn, below the Llyn Brianne reservoir. It’s a fascinating story, I strongly advise you to read it.

The latest news is that the locals are getting angry. For despite originally promising great financial benefits for the community the developer (whoever that might ultimately be) is now offering just £1,000 a year according to this BBC Wales report.

Though the version in Welsh paints an even darker picture. It talks of environmental damage, no local jobs, and of a BBC film crew being ‘challenged’ and then pursued, even though the crew was on public land!

Ystradffin, Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

At Ystradffin we have the involvement of a number of English companies, with a Czech company doing the work. Then there is the possibility of Russian funding, and UK government involvement. Quite a story, with the Welsh involvement being limited to the water.

This is real colonialism, almost medieval. Strangers march into our country and set up a ‘Taffy-keep-out’ zone. The ‘Welsh Government’ probably wasn’t even consulted. (And knows better than to ask.)

♦ end ♦

 

Come fly with me!

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I concluded last week’s offering with a section on Llanbedr Airfield and a promise to return to the subject. Well, here we are, and sooner than expected.

That’s because information has come to light that makes the picture clearer. Clearer but not more reassuring, certainly not for us poor buggers who – through our tribunes and the civil servants who ‘advise’ them – seem to end up funding every con man and shyster who crosses the dyke looking for easy money.

UP UP AND AWAY!

To briefly recap. There has been an airfield at Llanbedr, between Harlech and Barmouth, since WWII, but it was closed or decommissioned in 2004.

The site was bought in August 2006 by the Welsh Development Agency for £700,000. (Title document.) And then, despite having just bought the site, the Welsh Assembly Government sought a taker for a 125-year lease.

Though as the sheet below tells us, in an answer to Tory AM Darren Millar in June 2008, then minister for economy and transport, Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, is adamant that no funding has been offered to ‘sweeten’ the deal.

Click to enlarge

The timing is significant because it was being reported in February 2008 that Welsh Ministers had awarded preferred bidder status to Kemble Airfield Estates Ltd, the operators of Kemble Airport near Cirencester. (Formerly RAF Kemble.)

As anticipated, in December 2008, the ‘Welsh Government’ gave the go-head for Kemble to take over the airfield, subject to Kemble obtaining the “relevant permissions and consents.” Initially, the Snowdonia National Park Authority refused to play ball, but in August 2011 a certificate was granted to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP for use of the airport to test and develop unmanned aerial vehicles.

(Developments and rumours from March 2006 are covered in jargon-laden but still interesting exchanges on this message board.)

In July 2012, Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP finally took on a 125-year lease with the Welsh Ministers for the sum of £887,500 plus VAT. (Title document.) Funded with a loan from The Secretary of State for Defence. This company was set up in March 2008 and changed its name to Snowdonia Aerospace LLP in August 2015.

Click to enlarge

Not only was there a loan from the Secretary of State for Defence but – and despite what Ieuan Wyn Jones had said – the ‘Welsh Government’ also chipped in. Both charges are here. Did Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP pay anything out of its own pocket for the 125-year lease?

PER ARDUA AD ASTRA

You’ve just read mention of RAF Kemble, and as I made enquiries into the leaseholders at Llanbedr it became clear that they and their associates specialise in taking over former RAF bases. Which suggests they’re well-connected.

Two directors of Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP who left Kemble Airfield Estates Ltd in the middle of 2012 were Lee John Paul and Charles John Mondahl. Paul had also served as company secretary.

The sign at the main gate makes no mention of ‘Aerospace’, or ‘new frontiers’, just the rather bland ‘Llanbedr Aviation Centre’. But it does show where the money’s come from – us, again! Click to enlarge

This regular taking over of former RAF bases and the like might point to the UK government and military putting work ‘off-book’ through private companies. Why would this be done? Well, I can think of a number of reasons.

First, it saves the UK government money if some mug can be persuaded to stump up the cash on the pretext of ‘creating jobs’. Mugs like the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd.

Then there’s the advantage of it being more difficult to question the UK government when defence work is done by private companies. With the bonus that private companies don’t have to worry about Freedom of Information requests.

So use a front company, have someone else help fund it, and let it do military work without fear of being bothered by too many tiresome questions.

Click to enlarge

Llanbedr specialises in RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems), drones to you and me. It links with the installation at Aberporth. Though Aberporth is ‘managed’ by military contractor Qinetiq. But whatever the set-up, there is no way that drones are being developed and tested without military involvement.

Of course that doesn’t explain what possessed the WDA or ‘Welsh Government’ to a) buy something we didn’t need and b) then pay someone to lease it. Two outlays of cash Wales could not afford.

Though as I suggest in the introduction, my guess is they were cajoled or bullied into this absurd deal by their masters in London.

FORMATION FLYING

Now it’s all going to get a bit tricky as we try to figure out who owns what and how assorted entities are related. So pay attention at the back there!

As we’ve seen, the title document tells us the Llanbedr site was leased to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP, which is now Snowdonia Aerospace LLP. Then October 2019 saw the creation of Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP.

Snowdonia Aerospace LLP has a number of partners (for this is a Limited Liability Partnership not a company), while the new outfit has just two, these being Lee John Paul of Dorset and Putney Investments Ltd of the Isle of Man.

Both Paul and Putney are also partners in the original outfit, Snowdonia Aerospace, but there Putney Investments Ltd gives an address in Queensland, Australia. As I mentioned in the previous post, there seem to be quite a few companies under the ‘Putney’ umbrella (and we’ll be looking at another one in just a minute).

Click to enlarge

Looking at the Putney Investments registered in Hampshire we see that there are two directors found under the ‘People’ tab, Cromring Ltd and Mike Cole. That’s Mike Cole of Tenerife, or possibly Hampshire.

Though it’s not that simple – is it ever? – because there are three Companies House entries for Cromring Ltd. Here they are, together with who and what’s filed where we would normally expect to find directors listed.

Plus – as a special treat! – who and what’s listed for the entities linked to each of the Cromring entries. Use the links to make better sense of it.

Cromring 1/ Michael Eric Cole (Sec), David William Ward, Michael Cole, Lapcrest Ltd. Lapcrest Ltd: Cromring Ltd. So this one is a closed circle.

Amazingly, Companies House tells us that this Cromring Ltd is a dormant company!

Cromring 2/ Estate Utilities Ltd: Michael Eric Cole (Sec), Lee John Paul, Cromring Ltd: Estate Utilities Ltd. Another closed circle.

Cromring 3/ Ocean Park Investments Ltd Putney Investments Ltd, Lapcrest Ltd. A third closed circle.

There are other companies in this network, but I’ve used Cromring to explain the problems faced by anyone trying to disentangle this web of interlocked individuals and companies.

Maybe a better comparison would be a cave system with dozens of entrances, tunnels and caverns; where money goes into one company or LLP and emerges from some other part of the network many miles away. Or just gets lost.

Here are some of the companies in the network, all cwtched up together in Hampshire. I’m intrigued by Spaceport UK Ltd. Sole director, Michael Cole . . . resident of Australia. Nothing like ambition, eh!

Click to enlarge

An entity not yet mentioned, but with six outstanding charges against it, is Compass Point Estates LLP. The partners here are: Lee Paul, Gillian Paul, Ocean Park Investments Ltd, and Putney Investments Ltd . . . the one in Queensland.

While rooting around I also came across yet another RAF connection. It was reported in April last year that the site of RAF Upwood in Cambridgeshire was to be sold to developers. Ocean Park Investments Ltd controls Upwood Business Park Ltd.

Providing further proof that the links between the MoD and the people who’ve taken over Llanbedr airfield are long and extensive.

FLYING DOWN TO RIO

Seeing as Putney in its various guises can be found from Queensland to the Isle of Man maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to find Putney Capital Management in Latin America.

This article suggests the company deals in areas that some might regard as asset-stripping. Unpalatable as most of us might find this, it pales into insignificance when we consider other possibilities.

Because Putney turned up in the Panama Papers. For those unfamiliar with the Panama Papers they are, “an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca“.

Here’s the link to Putney in Caracas, capital of the socialist paradise of Venezuela, where there must be much to attract asset strippers. (But I’m not here to score cheap political points, you know me.)

Click here to see the Putney Investment ‘node’ that links the Caracas address with a more secretive  address in Panama, and which lists as the ‘intermediary’ a Martin Lustgarten.

Click to enlarge

And here’s the ‘node’ for Martin Lustgarten, an Austrian-Venezuelan, who seems to flit between Caracas, Panama and Miami. Some believe Martin is just a guy who deals in very expensive old watches. Others say he launders money for big drugs cartels.

Whatever the truth of these allegations, the Panama Papers make clear that Martin Lustgarten is involved with Putney in the tax haven of Panama, which doesn’t do Putney’s reputation any favours.

Click to enlarge

And as we know, Putney is heavily involved in Llanbedr airfield. It’s a partner in both the lessee, Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, and also the new LLP set up last October, Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP.

The address Putney Investments Ltd gives to Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP is 8 Mount Pleasant, Douglas, IoM IM1 2PM. This address appears in the Panama Papers.

ON A WING AND A PRAYER

I’m going to end with a few questions for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, Cyngor Gwynedd, and anybody else who might feel inclined to proffer an answer.

  • Why would any Welsh governmental body need to get involved with Llanbedr Airfield when it must have been obvious that the MoD had tenants lined up?
  • In other words, why couldn’t the MoD have leased the place directly to Lee Paul et al?
  • Then, having bought a site it had no use for, why did the ‘Welsh Government’ compound its incompetence by giving money to those mentioned above to lease the site, especially after Ieuan Wyn Jones had stated there would be no such payment?
  • Seeing as a great deal of Welsh money has been donated to those now running Llanbedr Airfield what has been the return in jobs for local people? (And I mean local, not those who many now be living in the area.)
  • Talking of money, how much has been given by the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd to Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, or spent on infrastructure and in other ways to benefit that group?
  •  Given the reports listed in my previous piece on Llanbedr are the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd satisfied with the way the lessees are managing the site?
  • Was the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd informed of the formation of the new LLP in October 2019?
  • What is the purpose of this new LLP?
  • Given that the name Putney crops up regularly in the Llanbedr narrative, and also in the Panama Papers, does the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd know exactly how Putney is structured and who, ultimately, controls it?
  • Given that so much Welsh public money has been invested in Llanbedr Airfield and those leasing it, what input does the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd have in the running of the site and in the planning of its future operations?
  • Given the record of military drones in the Middle East, and the unreliability of the drones operated from Aberporth, why are the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd so supportive of drones at Llanbedr?
  • On page 9, under ‘Future Priorities and Direction for the Zone’ of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021, produced by the ‘Welsh Government’, I read, “To continue to develop a working partnership with the site owners and key stakeholders . . . “. But surely, the ‘Welsh Government’ owns the site? And who are the “key stakeholders”?
  • Seeing as the lessees are a Limited Liability Partnership, and LLPs only need to submit the most skeletal, unaudited accounts to Companies House, do the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd see the full accounts?
  • Given that Llanbedr is no Welsh Cape Canaveral providing jobs and spectacular launches to entertain global television audiences, was it worth the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd investing our money in what remains a UK defence installation?

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 15.01.2020

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

It’s time for a round-up of a few topics that have moved on since I last dealt with them. With one ‘newcomer’.

FOREIGN AID

You may recall that in Miscellany 09.12.2019, and under the section headed ‘Foreign aid’, we looked at a number of interlinked organisations that, collectively, I described as Wales’ foreign aid programme.

These were, the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and Hub Cymru Africa. I looked at how these organisations are funded, and how that money is spent.

It started with someone directing me to a tweet from the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, of which Plaid Cymru AM Helen Mary Jones is sponsor.

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We can also see Labour AMs Vaughan Gething and Baroness Eluned Morgan in the tweet. So the self-styled ‘progressives’ were well represented at this event.

What we see with these organisations is a great deal of Welsh public funding being diverted to an area for which the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has no responsibility. With the bulk of the money then spent on salaries for people who have moved to Wales to get their snouts in the third sector trough.

Which results in millions of pounds of Welsh public money being spent in ways that provide no benefits whatsoever to Wales or to Welsh people.

Last week there was a sequel. In the Senedd. When Neil Hamilton, the regional AM for south and west Wales, raised the issue of Wales’ foreign aid programme.

Click here to see the video clip of his question and the response from Rebecca Evans the minister for finance. (Also note the intemperate cheering that greets the mention of Jac o’ the North!)

I accept that Neil Hamilton is not everyone’s cup of tea, he’s made mistakes. But he’s not evil, as some on the left like to portray anyone who doesn’t meet with their approval. And he’s certainly not lobby fodder, or a self-serving hypocrite, or a swivel-eyed member of the ‘woke’. Categories that cover most of the other AMs.

Neil Hamilton can fairly be described as his own man. And he’s one of my AMs.

Which is important, seeing as my constituency AM is Lord Elis Thomas, elected for Plaid Cymru in 2016 but who quickly defected to become an ‘Independent’ . . . but Labour in all but name. Now he serves as young Kenny Skates’ bag man.

The other regional AMs for mid and west Wales are Labour’s Baroness Eluned Morgan and Joyce Watson, with Plaid’s Helen Mary Jones. None of whom would raise a question about public funding being wasted on gesture politics.

Of course not, Labour AMs are not going to challenge their own management team. And Plaid Cymru only becomes mildly critical of Labour – in a comradely sort of way – during election campaigns.

I want to turn now to Rebecca Evans’ response, which can be found in the image below.

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Note first that Rebecca Evans claims to belong to “a global, internationalist Welsh Government that takes its responsibilities to the planet and to others very seriously”.

Bollocks! She belongs to a devolved administration, with limited powers and responsibility for Wales alone.

Diverting to the home districts of third sector operatives of African origin what little is left after salaries are deducted, glossy reports produced, awards ceremonies and similar bun fights organised, achieves sod all for Wales.

How about this for a snide and supercilious remark, ” . . . it might speak more easily to the Member’s set of values . . . “. After that barb she took flight, Icarus-like, from the sunlit uplands of globalism with nonsense about ‘maintaining peace’, and with fighting the ‘climate crisis’ overseas.

This might be delusional if it was said by a representative of a wealthy, independent country. But when it comes from the management team of an impoverished province then it is positively insulting.

Just stick to the day job. Try thinking about the Welsh for a change. Those poor buggers who brought devolution into existence in 1997 and have been ignored ever since while posturing arseholes down Corruption Bay pretend to save humanity. Oh, yes, and the planet.

WEEP FOR WALES 16A

I hadn’t planned on writing anything about the Plas Glynllifon/Seiont Manor gang(s) but so much has happened since Weep for Wales 16 that I just can’t keep on updating it.

Weep for Wales 16 went out on January 2, and here’s a resumé of what’s happened since then.

1/ On the 4th, the Daily Post reported the ‘temporary’ closure of Seiont Manor.

2/ On the 8th, NorthWalesLive (the online version of the Daily Post) reported that Plas Glynllifon is in the hands of receivers. This is the BBC report.

3/ On the 10th, NorthWalesLive told us that Seiont Manor is also in the hands of receivers.

4/ NorthWalesLive reported that Paul and Rowena Williams, the former owners and now co-owners of both Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, will be topping the bill with co-owner Myles Cunliffe in the High Court’s Business and Property Courts in Manchester on January 17.

Let’s try to make sense of these developments, the claims and counter-claims.

The first report, about the Seiont Manor closing ‘temporarily’, is pure bullshit. Cunliffe knew that the hotel wasn’t opening again.

In number two we read that Duff and Phelps have been appointed receivers for Plas Glynllifon Ltd by Together Commercial Finance Ltd, which has 8 outstanding charges against the company. And even though the ‘Filing history’ gives the date of January 7, the receiver was in fact appointed on December 17.

As explained in this Companies House document. The publication of the news was presumably delayed by the Christmas and New Year holiday. Even so, I have no doubt that both the Williams duo and Cunliffe knew the game was up long before they tucked into their Brussels sprouts.

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In number 3 we read of two companies – Plas Glynllifon Ltd and Rural Retreats & Development Ltd – and three properties, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor and Polvellan House in Cornwall. We’ve just looked at Plas Glynllifon Ltd, while Rural Retreats & Development Ltd is the owner of Seiont Manor and Polvellan House.

The eight outstanding charges against Plas Glynllifon Ltd all refer to the mansion of that name and adjoining land. Whereas the seven outstanding charges against Rural Retreats & Development Ltd found on the Companies House website seem to apply to assorted parcels of land unrelated to Seiont Manor.

Yet the title document for Seiont Manor hotel (below) clearly shows four charges held by Together Commercial Finance Ltd. Page 5 of the document clears up the mystery by explaining that these charges are bundled up with other titles. (The assorted parcels of land referred to in the previous paragraph.)

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It seems fairly obvious that Together Commercial Finance Ltd realises it’s loaned too much money to people and companies unlikely to ever repay, and also perhaps – given recent history – to properties that may have been over-valued. So now it’s called in the receivers to secure what’s left before the vultures strip the carcass and fly away.

The impending court case mentioned in 4 seems unrelated to these developments. So let’s try to figure out what might be discussed in Manchester on Friday.

It seems to have started with a spat over accounts for Plas Glynllifon Ltd not being submitted to Companies House, with this raising the possibility of the company being struck off. Paul Williams insisted he was happy for the accounts to be submitted but said they were being held up by Myles Cunliffe.

As I remarked in Weep for Wales 15, what I found odd was that the accounts in question referred to a period before Cunliffe got involved with Plas Glynllifon, so why would he withhold those accounts? I feel there’s something we’re not being told.

The hearing on Friday has been instigated by Paul and Rowena Williams through their solicitors, Glaisyers of Manchester, who you may remember sent me a ‘Take down everything you’ve ever written (but don’t show this to anybody!)’ letter before Christmas. Here’s my response.

The allegation against Cunliffe is that he changed company documents without permission, and also that he closed Seiont Manor without authorisation.

I can’t comment on the documents charge, but surely, once Together Commercial Finance Ltd called in the receivers on December 17 the game was up? A company in receivership cannot carry on trading as if nothing has happened, not unless it’s agreed with the administrators/receivers, or unless the company is run by or the running is overseen by the administrators/receivers.

So I would ask why the Gruesome Twosome and Cunliffe and associates didn’t come clean before Christmas about receivership, because they must have known.

AND FINALLY . . . Someone interested in buying Plas Glynllifon Ltd before the Williams duo showed up was Gavin Woodhouse of Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd. You may recall that he planned to market the old pile as ‘Wynnborn’. The ‘negative reaction’ to that suggestion made him walk away.

But he didn’t walk far, for Woodhouse built up a portfolio of Welsh hotels, including Caer Rhun in the Conwy valley. But it all came crashing down last year when his business practices were exposed by the Guardian and ITV News. Even so, the ‘Welsh Government’ still offered Woodhouse a £500,000 grant for Caer Rhun.

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Now Caer Rhun has gone the way of all Welsh hotels that fall into the hands of con men and crooks from over the border and been closed by administrators. And yet, the £500,000 grant still appears in literature put out by the ‘Welsh Government’ and Visit Wales!

They must be so proud!

BRYN LLYS

Another gang of crooks from the mystic East (Yorkshire, to you) bought a traditional Welsh property known as Bryn Llys Bach, just outside Nebo, not far from Caernarfon. They then set about doing whatever they liked whether they had planning permission or not. (Usually not.) This went hand in hand with cutting down trees and hedgerows that didn’t belong to them and threatening to beat up neighbours who dared complain.

This behaviour went largely unchecked despite complaints to both Cyngor Gwynedd and North Wales Police. Yes, there was a police raid on the property in April 2018, but this was almost certainly carried out or instigated by an English force and connected with the arrest of John Joseph Duggan in Benllech in May of that year.

For Duggan is the father of Jonathan James Duggan, who lives at Bryn Llys with his wife and numerous progeny, plus other gang members. I suggest you catch up with recent developments by reading this posting.

Bryn Llys, then and now. Click to enlarge

In a nutshell, the old house was demolished, a new one built (without planning permission, of course), and this new monstrosity was advertised for sale at £850,000.

It was withdrawn from sale, perhaps because of legal proceedings promised by Cyngor Gwynedd. But now I hear that ‘Snowdon Summit View’ will be among properties auctioned on February 27 in Chester. (Where else?)

The price has reduced from £850,000 to £650,000.

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The worry is that even if the house sells the gang will still be left with some 20 acres of land nearby. Given how they operate, their contempt for neighbours and all authority, we can expect them to plough ahead with any insane plan they choose.

Given the kind of people we are dealing with, and their contempt for everyone around them, I would have thought that Cyngor Gwynedd could produce a good case for the compulsory purchase of those 20 acres.

LLANBEDR AIRFIELD

Llanbedr is a village lying between Barmouth and Harlech. I got to know it in the summer of ’73. I’d just finished at Coleg Harlech and decided to hang around for a bit longer, so I got a job in Llanbedr’s village pub, the Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria Inn, Llanbedr. Click to enlarge

The regular customers contained a good sprinkling of those working at RAE Llanbedr. These could be further divided into the locals and the ex-service types who had moved to Llanbedr on leaving the forces. As is usual in a colonial context, the locals generally did the unskilled and lower-paid jobs.

Even after leaving the area I managed to maintain some contact with Llanbedr, often by unlikely means. For example, I knew the guy employed to keep the airstrip free of other birds with his hawks.

More recently, the airfield has been used for testing drones and also by a flying school. Bigger plans were thwarted in 2018 when Llanbedr lost out to Sutherland in Scotland as the location for the UK’s main spaceport.

To ease the blow, the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd are pouring in millions of pounds to develop the airfield in some subsidiary role. And Llanbedr is now also part of the split-site Snowdonia Enterprise Zone.

Though the main beneficiary of all this would appear to be Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, which leases the site, or certainly the buildings. Snowdonia Aerospace is based in Dorset. There are some fascinating entries under the ‘People’ tab, where we find those who are or have been involved with this outfit.

Among them Putney Investments Ltd, with an address in Queensland, Australia.

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‘Snowdonia’ Aerospace has received loans from both the ‘Welsh Government’ and the UK government, but both loans were in 2012, long before thoughts of a Welsh Cape Canaveral. So how do we account for this in 2012?

But then, last October, a new outfit appeared on the scene in the form of Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP. It too is based in Dorset, with the partners being Lee John Paul and Putney Investments Ltd. Fancy that!

Putney Investments obviously gets around. There were a number of companies in Australia using the name, then a dormant company in Hampshire, yet the address given for the latest incarnation is on the Isle of Man.

This begins to look rather fishy. Do those clowns down Corruption Bay know who they’re dealing with? Probably not, so why are they dealing with a Limited Liability Partnership, that most opaque and unaccountable of financial constructs?

Despite the favourable treatment, a source tells me things are not well at Llanbedr, corners are being cut, and copious amounts of bullshit are being spread to confuse politicians, funders, and others.

Here are a few of the things I’m being told:

  • Llanbedr airfield is an enterprise zone with no enterprise
  • Despite charging tenants Snowdonia Aerospace is very reluctant to pay its own water and electricity bills
  • The whole site is deteriorating and Snowdonia Aerospace is simply hanging on for a ‘big player’ to take the place off their hands
  • Safety is compromised in all manner of ways
  • Despite all the hype – and money – there are just two employees
  • Half the ‘enterprise zone’ runs on a generator, which rarely works. Result – many angry tenants
  • Contractors shipped in from outside of Wales have been allowed to sleep in the control tower! (Where they smoke Jamaican Woodbines.)
  • Buildings have been knocked down without consent

There seems little doubt that the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd have been bullied by the UK government and the military into coughing up large sums of our money for a project that is producing no benefits for Wales.

In fact, it’s difficult to see who, apart from the partners in Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, are benefiting. Unless of course it’s the partners in Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP, wherever they might be . . . Queensland, Hampshire or the Isle of Man.

I shall be making further enquiries about Llanbedr airfield, and will almost certainly return to this subject in the near future. If anyone reading this has more information, then please get in touch.

♦ end ♦

 

‘Do you know where your child is tonight?’

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I have borrowed the title of this post from a number of campaigns run by police and other agencies trying to either reduce anti-social behaviour or else protect children by getting parents to take more responsibility.

But what happens when the children are no longer with the parents? I’m thinking now of cases where the children are, supposedly, ‘in care’.

One case came to light recently of a child from Cardiff claiming to have been assaulted at a home to which he’d been sent in Swansea. The family took the case to local councillor and AM, Neil McEvoy, who sought answers . . . and, as usual, Cardiff’s Labour council turned it into a case against Neil McEvoy!

It says a lot about Wales and its political culture that, ‘I want a straight answer’ can be twisted into ‘intimidating behaviour’. But that’s where we are with the colonial management team we know as the Labour Party.

GRASSROOTS (CARDIFF) LTD

Registered as both a charity (1110186) and a company, this is a mechanism for Cardiff Labour Party to exert influence in the care sector. Described on the Charity Commission entry thus:

THE PROVISION OF A CITY CENTRE FACILITY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE SUFFERING SOCIO ECONOMIC DEPRIVATION WHO REQUIRE ASSISTANCE TO HELP AND EDUCATE THEM THROUGH LEISURE-TIME ACTIVITIES SO AS TO DEVELOP THEIR PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL CAPACITIES THAT THEY MAY GROW TO FULL MATURITY AS INDIVIDUALS AND MEMBERS OF SOCIETY AND THEIR CONDITIONS OF LIFE MAY BE IMPROVED.

The Charity Commission entry further informs us that, unsurprisingly, Grassroots (Cardiff) Ltd operates only in Cardiff. As it is both a company and a charity company directors serve as charity trustees

The group was launched in February 2004 and since then a number of Labour luminaries have served as directors, none more luminescent than Albert Huish, long-serving Cardiff councillor and Lord Mayor. Huish joined in April 2006, when he was 92. He died in 2009.

One who’s been with Grassroots since the start is Councillor Iona Gordon. Other Labour councillors have served as directors but Labour loyalties are not always easy to discern. Even so, it’s reasonable to view Grassroots as almost a department of Cardiff City Council.

And when you see names like Marco Antonio Gil-Cervantes and Siobhan Corria then you know you’re at the country crossroads where the third sector sold its soul to the Labour Party one dark night.

Someone else who was in at the start was Paul Anthony O’Donnell, stepping down as a director 28 February 2013, by which time he had branched out on his own.

PRIORITY CHILDCARE LTD

Though he was in business for himself when he joined Grassroots. One company was Paul O’Donnell and Associates Consultancy and Training Services Ltd, formed in December 2001 and dissolved 30 June 2015 with an outstanding debt with HSBC. Another O’Donnell company co-existing with Grassroots was Forward Approach Ltd, but I can find no information.

More recently, May 2016, to be exact, he launched Treharne Properties Ltd with his old mate Leonard Charles Drane, this company is filing as a dormant company. Drane was also a director in Paul O’Donnell and Associates, etc.

Of more importance to this article is the company called Priority Childcare Ltd. Here’s the website and here’s the Companies House entry. Priority Childcare was Incorporated 12 October 2009.

For the first few years it seemed to do very little, but when it moved its address from Treharris, just off the A470 south of Merthyr, to Llandarcy, on the Neath side of Swansea, things started to take off.

Going back to the website – where models portray Priority Childcare’s staff and the kids they look after! – we see a page marked ‘Our Homes’ with seven properties listed. Not entirely correct, for Priority Childcare owns more than the seven listed, but not in its own name.

Click to enlarge

For the properties are all owned – with outstanding loans from the Royal Bank of Scotland – by POLD Holdings Ltd. A name made up of the initials of Paul O’Donnell and Leonard Drane. This company was Incorporated 4 January 2010.

So we see that both Priority Childcare and POLD Holdings were formed when O’Donnell was still with Grassroots, and therefore well-connected with those in Cardiff who had responsibility for children and young people in need of care, counselling and accommodation.

Wasn’t that convenient, boys and girls, for someone about to embark on a spree of buying properties for that very purpose!

In fact, the first three properties were bought a couple of weeks before O’Donnell left Grassroots.

SWANSEA, MY SWANSEA!

Back in May a report in WalesOnline told of the sudden increase in the numbers of children’s homes in Swansea that the council seemed to know little about. (Or maybe it was that nobody wanted to talk about them.)

The article was headlined as if it would give the answer, but it didn’t. Click to enlarge

We can account for a number of those unexplained children’s homes with what we now know of Priority Childcare. For it’s pretty obvious that Priority Childcare and POLD Holdings are taking advantage of cheaper property further west to move kids out of Cardiff.

Given O’Donnell’s Grassroots link, and given its close links with City Hall, it’s reasonable to assume that the O’Donnell-Drane companies are working with the Labour-controlled council.

But why is Swansea council so passive and accommodating when Cardiff dumps its problems on them? Swansea council knows what’s happening, and where these kids are coming from. Is Swansea council now subservient to Cardiff council?

The people of Swansea are entitled to know.

And how long has it been going on? For the table above tells us that Priority Childcare bought its first properties in Swansea in 2013. Yet this Care Inspectorate document says that the first home was not registered until May 2018. Were they operating unregistered before that date?

Staying with the website, the panel below, from the home page, is fascinating, and worrying.

Click to enlarge

To begin with, yes, the website shows seven homes, but the Care Inspectorate document mentions ten. So I’m assuming that Clydwr House in Swansea and Ty Aelwyd in Treharris link with the later purchases shown in the table, leaving one of the Swansea properties still unregistered.

Though anyone who thinks that all the homes are in ‘rural or semi-rural locations’, as Priority Childcare claim, must have been born and raised in downtown Tokyo.

More worrying is the reference to ‘Southwest Children’s Residential Commissioning Framework’, which suggests that Priority Childcare is not just bringing kids from Cardiff to Swansea and neighbouring areas, but is also bringing them from south west England!

The Priority Childcare website really is a thing of wonder. For if we scroll down to the ‘Our Partners’ graphic at the bottom of each page labelled we see Swansea council listed . . . but not Cardiff council!

Yet this outfit is almost certainly contracted by Cardiff council to move kids out of the city to homes in cheaper property further west. And exposing this system is one reason that Neil McEvoy is being persecuted, again.

UPDATE: I am indebted to Stan of Neath for directing me to the National Review of Care Homes for Children in Wales 2018-2019, produced by Care Inspectorate Wales.

In the ‘Summary of Key Findings’ (page 8) we read: ‘Better local commissioning arrangement are required to ensure children’s needs are met as close to home as possible. We found a mismatch between the location of care homes for children in Wales and the placing authorities from which children originate.’

LABOUR PARTY ETHICS

For now we come to the case that sees Neil McEvoy before Cardiff council’s Standards and Ethics Committee this very day. Yes, that’s Labour councillors debating and judging on standards and ethics. I don’t know whether to laugh or to puke. (I might do both, but not at the same time.)

Not for the first time, Neil McEvoy has rendered Wales a service. For moving kids around in the way we’ve looked at makes it difficult to keep track of them and to monitor the care they’re getting. Worse, this difficulty might be what makes such a system attractive to unscrupulous operators and callous council officials.

It’s certainly an issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. For not only is it happening within Wales, there’s also the cross-border dimension. For example, in Powys, all the children in private care homes come from outside the county, almost all of them from England.

Children in need need to be helped as near as possible to their homes and their families. We must stop licensing private care homes that see vulnerable children as money-spinners, with those providing these children operating on the principle ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 16

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

How better to start a new year than by catching up with old friends and meeting some new faces. Though as many of us – me included! – are still paying the price for recent over-indulgences this is a ‘shortie’, but still very interesting.

I urge you to pay particular attention to the familiar faces’ foray into luxury kitchens and the strengthened link with England’s oldest ally.

UNCIVIL PARTNERS

Some of you, especially those who read the Daily Post, will be aware of the spat between the former owners of Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, Paul and Rowena Williams, and the new owners, represented by Myles Andrew Cunliffe. (Though the Gruesome Twosome and Cunliffe & Associates may still be partners, for who owns what is not entirely clear.)

As I reported in Weep for Wales 15, the first inkling that all was not well came in this December 2 report on the possibility of Plas Glynllifon Ltd being struck off the Companies House register because accounts were overdue.

Though what I found strange was that even though the accounts covered the period before Cunliffe came on the scene it seems to have been him holding back on submitting them.

The accounts for Plas Glynllifon Ltd, due 31 May, have still not been submitted.

Later, in the run-up to Christmas, came news that staff at Seiont Manor were not being paid (again), or else they were being paid late. Things got so bad that just a week before Christmas itself staff staged a protest outside Seiont Manor.

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We read: “Mr Cunliffe has stated that neither him or Mylo Capital (his company) are responsible for the wages or the running of the hotel. They say that is down to the tenants, with workers saying Seiont Manor Ltd is the company that pays their wages.”

Here’s a letter sent to Seiont Manor staff ‘explaining’ why they haven’t been paid. Though I’m told that certain employees ‘loyal’ to the management were paid, it’s just the majority – 25 in total – that lost out.

Note how the message ends with, effectively – ‘We didn’t start this, but we’re we’re gonna finish it. Oh yeah!’ It seems there are some people who just can’t write anything without it containing a threat, explicit or implied.

And then, when the unpaid staff tried to get their money, their elected spokesman was given the old heave-ho for ‘gross misconduct’! I am delighted to report that this latest attempt at intimidation has backfired gloriously.

An application has been accepted to have the unpaid employees’ case heard at a tribunal, and it’s hoped this will be held in mid-February. Also, Companies House has been informed of the dispute (in case anyone should try to dissolve the company).

UPDATE: BBC Cymru reports that there is to be a hearing in the High Court 17 January. Paul and Rowena Williams allege that Companies House documents have been changed without their permission. This could get interesting.

For the record . . . Staff also went unpaid when the Williams duo was in charge. And to my knowledge, there are still two former members of staff waiting to be paid the damages awarded them by Industrial Tribunals against Paul and Rowena Williams.

So it’s a bit rich for the Gruesome Twosome to now present themselves as model employers.

Here’s the letter of dismissal sent to the workers’ representative. It’s a gem of it’s kind, with a few sparklers worth highlighting.

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First, the addresses. Whoever penned this masterpiece couldn’t spell ‘Llanrug’ in the hotel’s own address or ‘Caernarfon’ in the addressee’s. There is no quotable reference, no telephone number, no e-mail address, no signature, not even a name. Just ‘Seiont Manor Ltd’. The sole director of Seiont Manor is Thomas Jacob Hindle, but I doubt if he wrote this letter.

But anyway, who is Thomas Jacob Hindle?

UPDATE 03.01.2020: Staff have been sent a letter telling them that the hotel is closing. Let’s hope that the ‘Welsh’ media (in English) and local politicians now start taking an interest, because up until now they’ve avoided it like the plague.

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UPDATE 04.01.2020: The Seiont Manor gang made the front page of the Daily Post. Though I cannot understand why people like the Williams duo and Cunliffe draw attention to themselves in this way. Given how they operate you’d think they’d want to stay out of the limelight.

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NEW BOY, TOM

Despite him resigning 18 November, ten days after the appointment of Thomas Jacob Hindle as sole director, I’m told Myles Cunliffe still runs Seiont Manor Ltd on behalf of Jon Disley and perhaps others.

On the same day Cunliffe officially left Seiont Manor Ltd Hindle also replaced him as director of Goldmann PLC. Then on 8 November, Hindle became a director of Glynllifon Mansion Ltd, again ‘replacing’ Myles Cunliffe. (Glynllifon Mansion Ltd recently transmogrified into Waterford Interiors Ltd. Read about it in the next section.)

The only other company I can find with which Hindle is linked is T Hindle Consulting Ltd, a company Incorporated as recently as 10 July 2019.

It is universally agreed that Hindle is nothing more than a dupe. One good source even says Hindle’s almost a decent guy, who may not fully understand who and what he’s got himself involved with.

Is Hindle the ‘tenants’ referred to in the Daily Post article?

WHAT’S COOKING IN THE KITCHEN BUSINESS?

And now we come to a truly bizarre twist in this saga, for on 12 December Glynllifon Mansion Ltd changed its name to Waterford Interiors Ltd, a company specialising in luxury kitchens!

Now I’m used to companies changing their name, and for all sorts of reasons. But this is more than just a change of name, this is shape-shifting. Which at first sight makes no sense . . . unless we do a little digging.

First, let’s look at the Waterford Interiors website.

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It looks glossy . . . but sort of basic. It’s supposed to be a family firm in Bolton that’s been in business for “almost 30 years” and yet there’s none of the intimacy one would expect, no names are mentioned. And the images could have been downloaded from the internet.

If you scroll to the bottom of the home page, where you’d expect to find the name of the website designer with the year it was launched or updated, there’s nothing. As I say, this website is very basic, and perhaps unconvincing.

And there seems to have been no company called Waterford Interiors registered with Companies House before Glynllifon Mansion Ltd changed its name last month.

Certainly, someone has been trading as Waterford Interiors in recent years, there’s evidence in this Lancashire Life article from August 2017. The article even gives us the name, Jon Hubbard. Who crops up again on this site of testimonials.

One that caught my attention mentioned “a customer in Marbella, Spain” and I thought to myself – who do we know in Marbella? And then it came to me – Jon Disley was the ‘King of Marbella’, though he may now have come back to Blighty.

But also resident in Marbella is the ‘other’ Cunliffe, Neil, currently director and CEO of Arden Wealth Ltd, which was Incorporated in June 2018 and threatened with strike-off by Companies House last September. Maybe he was the Marbella resident who bought the upmarket (£50,000+) kitchen.

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Staying on the Waterford Interiors website, click on the ‘Retailers’ tab and you’ll bring up a page listing five other companies or outlets. (Available here in PDF format.) Here’s what I’ve been able to find out about them:

  • Harwood Homes Interiors Ltd (formerly Harwood Holmes!), seems to be the only one listed with Companies House. Though the accounts suggest it might not be in good financial health.
  • Blue Swan Design Ltd was dissolved in September 2019.
  • Greensmith Interiors Ltd was dissolved in November 2018.
  • Luxury London Interiors Ltd was dissolved in May 2019.
  • Which just leaves the Kitchen Company of Uxbridge. There are a number of companies using that name registered with CH, but none of them in Uxbridge. But there is such an outlet, and here’s the website. Even though it says the company was set up in 1985 the website only came online in 2019. 

So we have six linked companies or retail outlets, three of which have recently been dissolved and the other three may not be in the best of financial heath. And yet the Waterford Interiors website looks new, so why does it list three dissolved companies? Though if the website’s not new, why hasn’t it been updated?

Or maybe the real question is – why is Thomas Hindle, fronting for Myles Cunliffe, fronting for Jon Disley, getting involved in luxury kitchens?

UPDATE: Although there was no evidence of a company called Waterford Interiors, I have been told of a kitchen furniture company called Waterford Reproductions Ltd, in Farnworth, Bolton.

Also in Farnworth, there was a company called Waterford Freeman Ltd, until it was voluntarily dissolved 2 April 2019.

The deadline for submission of Waterford Reproductions’ accounts was 31 December, and a cynic might suggest it’s about to go the same way as Waterford Freeman. Which would make it attractive to the kinds of people who appear in this saga.

UPDATE 03.01.2020: As might be expected, Waterford Reproductions is being dissolved. Here’s the notice from The Gazette. So once again we see Myles Andrew Cunliffe getting involved with companies about to go belly-up. Doesn’t anyone wonder why?

OS LUSÍADAS (Canto XI: The arrival of the diamond geezers.)

One of the directors of the now defunct Luxury London Interiors – James Ezra Nasser – lives in Portugal. Another Cunliffe connection with that country was Goldmann & Sons (Portugal) Ltd. And now I know of a third, and more recent connection.

For which I am indebted to a source who drew my attention to GEN5 PLC, set up 18 October. There are just two directors, Myles Cunliffe and Darcy Rebecca Stoker, a resident of Portugal. What’s more, eighteen-year-old Darcy is also the sole director of Stoker Family Investments Ltd, which was set up just three days before GEN5 PLC.

These companies are obviously linked and both give as their correspondence address the offices of RfM Accountants in Leyland, Lancashire. What’s more, I suspect that young Darcy, like Cunliffe, is ‘representing’ others.

So that gives us three Cunliffe connections with Portugal. Coincidence?

And, finally . . . North Wales Police has had a quiet word with Myles Cunliffe regarding his penchant for threatening letters delivered by hand after dark.

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I’ve received two, so far. The first 26 March, and the second 28 August. Plus of course letters from solicitors.

♦ end ♦

 

Bryn Blaen, the wind turbines that never turn

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

While you’re recovering from Christmas, getting your breath back for further excesses at New Year, just take time to read this little piece.

BRYN BLAEN WIND FARM

Just over a year ago, I wrote Corruption in the wind?, which was primarily about the Hendy wind farm, but I also mentioned the linked Bryn Blaen installation. And it’s Bryn Blaen I’m concentrating on here.

The six turbines of the Bryn Blaen wind farm lie to the north of Llangurig, the village you pass by if travelling north-south on the A470, and through which you pass if leaving the A470 to take the A44 down to Aberystwyth.

The ridge above Llangurig upon which Bryn Blaen wind farm now sits. Click to enlarge

Bryn Blaen wind farm is owned – in the first instance – by Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd, which was Incorporated May 18, 2011, though the company was originally known as Development Securities (No 74) Ltd. The project was funded with five loans from Close Leasing Ltd, a Manchester finance company that seems to have a keen interest in renewables.

Hendy wind farm not far away is owned – ditto – by Hendy Wind Farm Ltd, which was also Incorporated May 18, 2011, this time as Development Securities (No 71) Ltd. Thus far there is just one charge with Close Leasing Ltd.

(Development Securities (No 72) Ltd is now Rhoscrowther Wind Farm Ltd. More on Rhoscrowther in a minute.)

The immediate parent company in each case is DS Renewables LLP, which is in turn owned by U and I Group PLC. The U and I Group is a property company focused on London, Manchester and Dublin, but its portfolio extends beyond these cities and is not restricted to commercial and residential property.

Like most of its ilk the U and I Group pretends to be something better than just a property speculator. This clip from the 2019 accounts says it all.

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In fact, at 229 pages, the 2019 annual report and accounts is quite a tome, though much of it is self-promoting bullshit.

Bryn Blaen appears on page 26, where we also find mention of Hendy and Rhoscrowther wind farms. The figures on the left are the ‘Previous target’ column while those on the right are ‘Realised gains/losses’.

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We see that Hendy and Rhoscrowther have realised nothing; this is due to Hendy still being under construction, while Rhoscrowther was denied planning permission for a third time in April 2018 and appears to be dead in the water.

Bryn Blaen on the other hand has made a return of £4.7m, quite remarkable seeing as its turbines have never turned. This was being reported in January 2019 and little has changed, though I should report that some turbines have shaken the dust off recently . . . almost certainly powered by diesel generators, and done for the benefit of an increasingly sceptical local audience.

The reason Bryn Blaen is not generating electricity is hinted at in the image above, where it mentions ” . . . increased costs in connecting to the grid”. This alludes to a major problem. To wit, there isn’t the capacity on the existing local infrastructure to carry anything generated by Bryn Blaen.

All explained in this remarkable letter from concerned locals to Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, on December 18. You must read this letter.

You’ll see that it mentions a figure of £33,245,067. This can be found on page 7 of the 2019 accounts for Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd, as ‘Assets under construction’.

Though a closer look at page 7 of the accounts (shown below) tells us that Bryn Blaen Wind Farm’s true assets are in fact just £2,076. The thirty-three million figure is made up of debts, and page 15 explains that these are £21,410,000 in bank loans and £12,934,555 owed to U and I Group PLC.

(Wow! If debts can be counted as assets then Jac is rolling in it!)

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All of which means that Bryn Blaen wind farm is just a pachyderm of a very pale hue, desecrating the Welsh countryside for no discernible benefit to anyone. And yet . . .

On page 9, paragraph 2.2, of the Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd accounts we read the passage below. The implication is that the debts (certainly the bank loans) will be repaid when Bryn Blaen is disposed of at the end of February 2020.

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Which suggests that someone is going to buy a wind farm that cannot export any electricity it might generate . . . which is why it has generated nothing in the two years of its existence!

This episode raises a number of questions:

  • Why did the Planning Inspectorate overrule Powys County Council to give planning permission in August 2016 to a project that the most cursory investigation would have revealed was utterly useless?
  • Are there other examples like Bryn Blaen?
  • Turbines that have generated nothing for six months can be demolished, so will Lesley Griffiths now do as protesters request and have the Bryn Blaen turbines demolished at developers’ expense?
  • The U and I Group plans to re-submit a planning application for Rhoscrowther wind farm on Milford Haven Waterway; can we therefore assume that Lesley Griffiths will be instructed to approve this application?

The scandal of Bryn Blaen should be a matter of national concern, so don’t just leave it to the locals – you write to Lesley Griffiths, and to your local AM, asking what the hell has happened. Insist on Bryn Blaen being demolished. And demand more stringent checks on local grid capacity and other issues before planning permission is granted for any future wind farms.

WORSE TO COME?

At the risk of being accused of beating a familiar drum I am going to conclude this short piece by looking at the National Development Framework 2020-2040.

For those who may not be familiar with this document, it is the supreme planning guidance for Wales to which plans such as councils’ Local Development Plans (LDPs) and all sub-national strategies must conform. I wrote about it in August.

The NDF is big on renewable energy, as the map below shows. What isn’t given over to wind and solar ‘farms’ is largely accounted for by urban areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the proposed ‘National Forest’, and the vast area north of Aberystwyth promised to the Summit to Sea ‘rewilders’.

But I can’t help wondering what’s planned for that area between the A5 and the A458, east of Dolgellau.

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Though I suppose the really big question is – who is going to benefit from this National Development Framework?

The individual beneficiaries will be landowners (often absentee), property developers like the U and I Group, and other English ‘investors’. Proving yet again that wind power is more about cashing in on the subsidies than with replacing fossil fuels.

But over and above the individual beneficiaries the National Development Framework is for the benefit of England.

Wind and solar farms won’t provide jobs for Welsh people. And we already produce far more electricity than we consume; yet as with water, we are not allowed to make a profit from what we export. (Though ‘our’ water and electricity can be sold back to us at over-the-odds prices.)

The National Development Framework allows Wales to be exploited as never before, but rather than standing up for Wales our current crop of politicians will rhapsodise over it.

Labour, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dems will bleat about Wales ‘making its contribution’ to ‘saving the planet’, etc., when, in reality, they’ll be turning our beautiful homeland into an al fresco power station. What isn’t covered by wind and solar farms will be retirement and recreation areas for England. Zimmer frames and zip wires.

Tory and Brexit parties will of course support anything that makes money for their pals in the financial sector . . . no matter how shady the deal, no matter how heavy the price Wales has to pay.

The Union with England has never worked to Wales’ advantage, but then, that was never the intention. Yet devolution, we were told, would provide ‘Welsh answers for Welsh problems’; but as Bryn Blaen, the National Development Framework, and countless other examples make clear, devolution is just a pitifully transparent veneer of ‘Welshness’ for continuing exploitation.

If we are to survive and progress as a nation it can only be done by prioritising our interests and focusing on independence without any distractions or self-imposed divisions. So let’s continue building momentum in 2020 on the broadest possible front.

♦ end ♦

 

Plaid Cymru, mass resignations

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I had hoped that my previous post on Monday, General Election 2019 would be the last before Christmas, but something has cropped up that needs to be reported and recorded lest it gets lost in the Yuletide whoopee-making.

Not that I shall be indulging, myself, you understand. A small sherry after my frugal Christmas repast will be quite enough of the demon drink until next year’s equally modest festivities.

” . . . WITH 130 OTHERS IN 15 CONSTITUENCIES . . . “ (AND RISING)

There has been a mass resignation of members from Plaid Cymru. It’s all explained in this message from Jonathan Swan, former chair of Cardiff West constituency party, to Gareth Clubb, Plaid Cymru chief executive, sent on Thursday.

You will find the text of his resignation below, transcribed from the original.

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It touches on a number of issues you may be familiar with, certainly they’ve had an airing on this blog.

It would appear that Mr Swan, who I’ve never met or even communicated with, has come to very similar conclusions to me regarding Plaid Cymru’s failings. So let’s go through his letter and briefly consider the points he makes.

To begin with, he will not be leaving alone. He talks of “130 others in 15 constituencies”. And it’s reasonable to assume that there are yet more, beyond Mr Swan and the 130, who will follow in the weeks and months ahead.

The irony exposed in the second paragraph is that Plaid Cymru preaches ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’ when it comes to sexual orientation and self-identification – ‘be whatever you want to be’ – but unless you accept that a man is a woman and vice versa then you are vilified.

However, suggest that Plaid Cymru is too close to the Labour Party, has an unhealthy relationship with Deryn Consulting, or is perhaps too left wing to have mass appeal, and you’ll be guided towards the exit.

In paragraphs 4, 5 and 6, Mr Swan hints at a central office-controlled wrecking crew at work in Cardiff, undoing all the good work done by Neil McEvoy and others. It might do credit to those involved if there was some Machiavellian motivation at work but, alas, it was done out of pure spite.

And worse, the other organisations I’ve just mentioned might have had a hand in it.

Then Mr Swan briefly considers Plaid’s appalling showing in last week’s general election. And it was appalling. Plaid retained the four seats it held, yes – but failed to come second in any other constituency.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Swan concludes by announcing that he and others will now be forming the new political party they feel Wales needs. And who can argue with them?

AT THE RISK OF REPEATING MYSELF . . .

As I’ve made clear over the years – and long before it became blindingly obvious – Plaid Cymru is not the political party it appears to be. Or perhaps I should phrase that, Plaid Cymru is not the political party it wants us to believe it is.

To begin with, Plaid Cymru does not want independence for Wales. Let me explain.

If you want a guiding spirit for Plaid Cymru then go back beyond Saunders Lewis to Sir Owen Edwards (1858-1920). Academic, briefly Liberal MP for Merionethshire, first chief inspector of schools for Wales, and of course father of Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards (1895-1970), who founded Urdd Gobaith Cymru. Sir Ifan’s only daughter, Hâf married Sir David Hughes Parry.

Sir Owen is said to have been influenced by the ‘Welsh Not’ in his native Llanuwchllyn, near Bala, where few could speak English. Which resulted in him – like many at that time – seeking greater respect for Wales, and the language. It was a respect that would be earned by Wales proving her loyalty to the UK and the Empire. For Sir Owen’s nationalism was purely cultural, political nationalism was anathema to him.

Christmas bash in the office of Y Llywydd (Speaker). She herself holds an icon of the young saint they hope will save them from the cold winds of 2021. Click to enlarge

Which explains why, when Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925 (soon after Sir Owen’s Liberal Party had been eclipsed in Wales by the Labour Party), its priority was preserving and enhancing a rural and Welsh-speaking way of life, an idyll that would have as its spokesmen an elite with feet in both camps.

One strand within Plaid Cymru still represents this cultural nationalism, but in more recent decades the party has made attempts to broaden its appeal by throwing the doors open to just about anybody. Which has brought us to the point where Plaid Cymru could be about to implode under the weight of its own contradictions.

Contradictions illustrated by last week’s election, which saw four MPs returned in the socially conservative west for a woke-left party containing many disciples of misandry (unless they’re gay or compliant men) propping up an anti-Semitic Labour Party. For betraying the majority of Welsh people this ‘Party of Wales’ paid the price in Brexit-supporting areas for its ‘You thick bastards!’ message.

And now Plaid Cymru will be paying a further price in mass defections.

Plaid Cymru wants to be the voice of a colonial elite within a system of devolution that provides careers, sinecures, peerages, etc for that elite. Its attempts to disguise this by broadening its base has given Wales that most bizarre of hybrids – an elitist-extremist party.

THE YEARS AHEAD

Despite being of little or no use to Wales Plaid Cymru has served the purpose of  inhibiting the emergence of a genuine nationalist party; by genuine nationalist party I mean a political party concerned with the whole country that is serious about independence.

The emergence of Gwlad, and now whatever is planned by Jonathan Swan and others, will make it increasingly difficult for Plaid Cymru to fulfil its dog in the manger role. This will cause a minor headache in London because a ‘national’ party as unambitious and self-damaging as Plaid Cymru is every colonial power’s dream.

To sum up: we have a Conservative government with a majority that gives it free rein and a Labour Party that has narrowly survived a suicide attempt. As if that wasn’t enough, the UK will be leaving the European Union, there will soon be a Scottish independence referendum, perhaps a border poll in Ireland, yet we see Plaid Cymru imploding before our eyes.

We Welsh who are serious about Wales had better get our act together. For elsewhere positions are being staked out and demands articulated, while we lack a credible voice, and risk being left behind.

♦ end ♦

 

General Election 2019

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Well, what an election that was, for all sorts of reasons. I shall start this analysis with a quick look around the other countries before homing in on Wales.

NORTHERN IRELAND

If we are to believe the BBC then the results were bad for both major parties, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin. Certainly SF lost Foyle (Derry) but it was to the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party. To compensate, the party won North Belfast, where Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane triumphed.

John Finucane was just a lad in 1989 when Loyalist assassins burst into the family home and killed his solicitor father, Pat. Loyalist killers controlled by MI5.

Yes, votes for both Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party were down but it was the DUP that lost (in total) two seats, not SF. The cross-community Alliance Party won North Down, and in addition to Foyle the SDLP won Belfast South.

For someone who remembers the Troubles – and even the time before the Troubles – it’s quite amazing how politics has changed in the Six Counties.

Until the Reverend Dr Ian Paisley formed the DUP in 1971 the Ulster Unionist Party dominated the political scene, and it wasn’t until 2004 that the DUP became the largest Unionist party in terms of seats at Stormont and in Westminster. Now the UUP has no MPs and got just 11.7% of the vote last week, but even that was an improvement of 1.4% on 2017.

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On the other side, the similarly hegemonic SDLP has been eclipsed by a party that until quite recently was dismissed by the British media as the mouthpiece of the IRA. I can recall when we weren’t allowed to actually hear SF spokespersons – we could see them, and see their lips move, but the words had to be spoken by actors!

That was one of the more bizarre episodes in British broadcasting history. If we were allowed to hear what they said but not them say it, then I can only conclude that we were being protected from the harsh Ulster accent.

Northern Ireland, with more Republican/Nationalist MPs than Unionist MPs, plus one MP representing a party that is neutral on the border, and with Brexit thrown into the mix, is probably moving towards a referendum on Irish reunification.

For this debate is no longer framed by tribal loyalties. The old Protestant-Unionist objections to unifying with a poor, ‘priest-ridden’ country to the south are gone. The Republic today is both more liberal and richer than the North. What’s more, it’s in the EU, and Northern Ireland voted to Remain.

In any future referendum it will not just be Republicans and Nationalists voting for reunification, it will also be members of the Protestant middle class, business people and, especially, the young.

SCOTLAND

The headline result is of course that the SNP ‘won’ the election with 48 out of Scotland’s 59 seats. Though as we know, Boris Johnson has already refused to allow a second independence referendum, so how might events unfold?

Some suggest that the Tory government in London should play the SNP like a fish, paying out a little line (concessions), then reeling in (refusal) . . . until its energy is exhausted and it can be ‘landed’ (accepts no referendum).

Basically, faffing about in the kind of way that would suit Johnson perfectly.

An interesting metaphor that ignores too many unavoidable pitfalls and a number of imponderables.

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First, there’s ‘Getting Brexit done’, which served as Johnson’s mantra throughout the recent election campaign. Yet 62% of Scots and every single council area voted against leaving the European Union. That is a fact that cannot be changed – Scotland voted by a large majority to remain in the EU.

Which means that in fulfilling this election pledge he cannot possibly renege on Johnson will further antagonise many Scots. Even some of those who voted Leave but now wish to respect the majority vote.

Then there’s the Scottish parliamentary elections of May 2021. If London proves obstructive and the SNP turns this election into a mandate for independence we could enter a Catalonia-style morass. God knows where that might lead.

Another imponderable is how Labour supporters might vote in a referendum. They’ll be confronted with a choice between independence and Tory rule. Some will choose independence. How many take this option could prove decisive.

Then there are those who voted Leave but want independence, and may have lent their votes to the Tories last week in order to ‘Get Brexit done’. How many of these are there?

Imponderables aside, four fundamental facts are unavoidable:

1/ The SNP has won a massive victory.

2/ Consequently, the Tory government in London has no mandate to rule Scotland.

3/ Scotland voted to remain in the European Union.

4/ Consequently, London has no mandate to take Scotland out of the EU against its will.

Looking beyond the SNP – difficult given how it dominates the scene – we see that once-mighty Labour is reduced to a single seat, Edinburgh South. The Liberal Democrats are holding on to Orkney and Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in the far north, Edinburgh West and Fife North East.

The last of those is interesting because the SNP held this seat by just two votes, the smallest majority in the House of Commons. This time around the anti-SNP vote piled in behind the Lib Dem again and pushed Wendy Chamberlain over the winning line with a majority of 1,316.

Though the Lib Dem’s UK leader, Jo Swinson, she who had talked of becoming prime minister not so long ago, narrowly lost her Dunbartonshire East seat to the SNP.

Elsewhere, the Tories, who had been shaping up to become the natural home for Unionist votes lost seven seats to bring their total down to six. Given that they now hold large, rural constituencies (especially the three along the border) this means that the map gives a somewhat inflated view of Tory support.

Though it should be remembered that in all six Conservative seats the SNP is second, sometimes just a few hundred votes behind.

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Sometimes a party’s share of the vote can tell as much if not more about its overall performance than the number of its MPs. The figures for Scotland make poor reading for Unionists in general and for the new government in London in particular.

‘Getting Brexit done’ may have worked as a slogan in England, and Wales, but it seems to have had the opposite effect in the land that gave us the very word sluagh-ghairm. Which is perfectly understandable given that Scotland voted Remain.

With its separate legal and education systems, with the Kirk, with its banks and different banknotes, Scotland always was a different country. Soon it might be a very different country.

Whatever happens, we can guarantee that the greater the prospect of Scottish independence the dirtier the British state will play. And it certainly played dirty in the 2014 independence referendum campaign. Explained in this remarkable video, London Calling: BBC bias during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

I urge you to set aside an hour of your time over Christmas to watch it. Those you’ll see in the film are not wild-eyed conspiracy theorists, these are people who know the score. On the plus side, the BBC is now so discredited that it could never again play the influential role it played in 2014.

Scotland will soon regain the independence that was surrendered in 1707 by an unrepresentative parliament whose members had been bullied or bribed into supporting the Act of Union.

 As Robert Burns put it: Such A Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation.

ENGLAND

Reporting of the election in England was dominated by words like ‘landslide’ and talk of crumbling ‘red walls’. The reality is rather more nuanced, and disturbing for anyone wanting cultural harmony and social cohesion.

The truth is that in England the Conservative share of the vote increased by just 1.7% on 2017. The real story is the collapse of the Labour vote, down 8.0% on 2017. The Liberal Democrats were up 4.6%, the Brexit Party 2.0%, and the Greens 1.2%.

But if we look behind those bare figures we find where and why the Tories did so well. Those areas of the Midlands and the North that voted Leave in June 2016 saw the Tory vote increase substantially, while Remain areas saw the Tory vote go down.

The problem for Labour was that they lost out in both. That’s what happens to ditherers.

Click to enlarge

The cities remain Labour, especially London; which meant that in the Midlands and the North the cities and conurbations did not collapse with the rest of the ‘red wall’. The West Midlands conurbation remained largely Labour, as did Merseyside, and Manchester, Sheffield, the Leeds-Bradford conurbation, plus Hull, while in the north east – Sedgefield and Blyth Valley not withstanding – Labour holds a swathe of seats from Newcastle upon Tyne North all the way down to Middlesbrough.

It is the smaller towns and cities, the former mining districts, that will be represented by Conservative MPs for the next few years. Without doing an in-depth check it looks to me as if Stoke on Trent was the largest English city to ‘defect’.

Click to enlarge

So why did Manchester and Birmingham stay Labour while Bury, Scunthorpe, Dewsbury, Wakefield and many similar towns go Conservative? Almost certainly because the major cities of the Midlands and the North share certain features with London that make them more challenging for the Tories.

These features are:

1/ A generally younger population, with many students.

2/ Large immigrant populations plus settled ethnic minority communities.

3/ The presence of a ‘progressive’ middle class.

4/ More diversified economies that have coped with recession better than coalfield areas and towns built on a single industry.

5/ They attract more investment.

Which results in the rich and poor of England linking arms and facing off against those in between. Which is a strange thought, because for the greater part of the twentieth century politics in England split along class lines, a division that pitted Tory-voting shires and suburbs against Labour voting cities and industrial regions.

Going further back, to the nineteenth century, it was the new industrialists and others – through the Liberal Party – that represented the interests of the lower orders against the Oxbridge-educated Establishment of aristocracy, landowners, bankers, Church of England, army, civil service.

But last Thursday we entered a new paradigm. When so many people on the minimum wage are prepared to vote Tory then you know something has changed.

Students of politics will immediately recognise the parallels with the USA, where Donald Trump managed to get support from the richest sectors of US society and some of the poorest. Leaving the Democrats with a minority of the white working class supplemented by ethnic minorities, immigrants, and white liberals.

Brexit may have brought these US divisions into sharper focus in the UK but they would be there even without a debate over EU membership. People in the ‘neglected’ areas might have voted Tory last Thursday even without Brexit.

I say that because another reason they voted Conservative was because Labour, the party they once regarded as theirs, has drifted away, hijacked by the hard left, the detested metropolitan elite, and others who look down on them and regard their patriotism with revulsion.

Remember this from the Rochester by-election in 2014? Thornberry is back, and now one of the leading contenders to succeed Corbyn. Click to enlarge

As Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North American editor put it in this article (which is well worth reading): ‘Labour in the UK lost the working class, but gained the woke. And that will give the party sleepless nights over the coming months and years.’

Labour lost the election because it has alienated too many of the patriotic white working class. An as yet unquantifiable percentage of which might be mopped up by whatever party Nigel Farage comes up with next.

WALES

Let’s be brutally frank, there were just two things that saved ‘Welsh’ Labour from a worse kicking last Thursday.

The first was the terror felt by too many in the region twixt Blaenafon and Kidwelly at the prospect of rotating grandparents in the graveyards of Salem, Jerusalem, and yea! even Caersalem.

The second was the absolute fucking uselessness of Plaid Cymru. Because if Jon Sopel is right, about the Labour Party in England, then here in Wales the woke have become Plaid Cymru.

Yes, I know, Plaid held its four seats . . . and failed to come second in any of the other seats it contested. Leaving Plaid Cymru in serious danger of becoming a regional party within a small country, representing a constituency that is rural and largely Welsh speaking in an urbanised and largely anglophone country. Now there’s a party with a future!

Though, in fairness, Plaid Cymru has tried to break away from the ‘rural, Welsh-speaking’ strait-jacket. Unfortunately, rather than appealing to patriotic English speakers in the cities and towns the party allowed (encouraged?) the takeover by socialists who tar any critic with the ‘fascist’ brush, and those who insist that anyone who doesn’t accept a man with a penis as a woman is a ‘transphobe’.

Pick the bones out of that. Click to enlarge

Then, before the election, Plaid’s strategists (don’t laugh!) decided that it would be a splendid idea to go into a Remainer pact in a few seats with the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party of Englandandwales. In a country that voted Leave!!

This is why, last Thursday, when presented with the open goal of a Labour Party in chaos, a Conservative Party made untouchable by the fear of spinning sounds from the local boneyard, and the Lib Dems led by a delusional woman, Plaid Cymru’s vote actually fell, in real and percentage terms!

The only consolation is that Plaid Cymru is probably finished. No party with such limited appeal, making such disastrous decisions, is entitled to any future. What’s worse, in Plaid’s four seats the party’s supporters are social conservatives of the kind despised by those who now control the party. How long can this misalliance last?

Maybe it would be best for Plaid Cymru to drop the pretence that it’s a mainstream party and rebrand itself as the loony left party it has become. This would allow the emergence of another national party on the right to represent the ‘fascists’ and the ‘transphobes’, the patriots and those who’d like to build up an indigenous economy rather than rely on a begging-bowl variant of devolution.

At heart, Plaid Cymru is a Devo Max party securing the maximum number of careers, sinecures, peerages, etc., for those it represents, within the colonial system. Which means having enough power to indulge its lunacies without the responsibility of having to fund any of it.

Here we have a woman whose party has just had a truly dismal election congratulating winning candidates from other parties – just because they’re women! Click to enlarge

But things are not looking too good for this model of devolution at the moment. For a start, Labour is in deep and serious trouble on a UK level and this might extend to the 2021 Assembly elections, with Plaid Cymru in no position to keep the gravy train on the tracks.

Who’s to say the Tories won’t win an outright majority in 2021?

Worse, Plaid Cymru’s obvious weaknesses coupled with Labour’s self-destruction might encourage the new Conservative government to undermine or do away entirely with devolution.

At the very least, London could take more control over funding. An article by Martin Shipton dealt with this possibility in Saturday’s Llais y Sais. Here’s a link to the WalesOnline version, with a clip from it below.

Click to enlarge

Now picture the scene . . . Boris Johnson rocks up in Swansea (or it could be Wrexham, Merthyr, Blaenau Ffestiniog or Pembroke) and says, ‘Now listen chaps, I can see that with this bally devolution most of the moolah stays in Cardiff, and that’s jolly unfair. In future, the Bozmeister will dish out the goodies himself – and I guarantee that it will be fair shares for all!’ 

This will of course result in demonstrations in all corners of the land defending the status quo, demanding that the money be given to the ‘Welsh Government’ . . . for it to divert into the poverty racket (third sector, to you). I foresee hastily-scribbled placards being borne aloft insisting that even spads and lobbyists have to eat.

Yes, I’m joking.

But it won’t be BoJo undermining devolution. Labour and Plaid Cymru, plus their parasite friends down Corruption Bay and elsewhere, have already done the job for him, to the point where few would put up much of a fight if the Tories tried to do away with devolution altogether.

Devolution has been an abysmal failure because nobody wanted to make it work for anyone but themselves. Nobody in London or Cardiff.

CONCLUSION

I have chosen to look at all the countries of the United Kingdom because while the Tories’ campaign was all about getting Brexit done, everyone knows that achieving that objective will jeopardise the unity of the state.

I have argued since the EU referendum in 2016 that Brexit and the chaos it could unleash, the knock-on effects in Scotland and Ireland, would offer great advantages to Wales if we only had the sense and the determination to seize them.

But for Wales to capitalise on these opportunities we need politicians, and political parties or movements that want Wales to be a country that benefits the Welsh, rather than a haven for retirees, refugees, colonists, third sector parasites and ‘investors’ looking for easy money.

But I’m deeply pessimistic; for this election suggests that Wales will be in no position to take advantage of the opportunities coming our way. We shall just drift towards assimilation.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany, 09.12.2019

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

People often say to me, ‘Jac, you’re a miserable old sod, why don’t you give us some good news, eh?’ To which I usually respond, ‘Because this is Wales!’.

In Wales, what passes for ‘good news’ is invariably political propaganda, what the media calls ‘human interest’ stories, or else straightforward bollocks.

If you want to read that the ‘Welsh Government’ is thinking of asking Ferrari to open a factory in Tredegar, or that a Denbighshire farmer’s wife has found the bracelet she lost some years ago (while being pleasured by an itinerant Kiwi sheep-shearer), then you’re in the wrong place.

I don’t make up the stories that appear here. They happen and I report them. If you don’t like them then do something about it – get rid of those responsible.

BRYN LLYS

I have reported on this barely credible story a number of times. If you want to catch up then start here (scroll down), then here (ditto), and here.

In a nutshell, a gang of crooks from England (Yorkshire, if you must know) bought an old farmhouse outside Nebo, near Caernarfon; they’ve done work without planning permission (or exceeded what permission they had), to the point where a monstrous new building has appeared and the old farmhouse has been demolished.

Cyngor Gwynedd has issued planning enforcement orders and a pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Caernarfon in early September. I’m told the gang turned up in court claiming they had no legal representation. So the case was rescheduled for Llandudno in late November. It’s now been put off until March, when Andrew Battye, Jonathan James Duggan, Shane Baker and Aaron Hill will probably demand another adjournment.

And by which time they will have done all the work they plan on doing.

Old and new. Click to enlarge

For the gang has plans that exceed even throwing up the ugliest house in Gwynedd, because there’s talk of glamping, zip wires, and God knows what else. For which of course there is no planning permission. Another difficulty is access, which has resulted in the Bryn Llys gang intimidating neighbours who object to them cutting down trees and demolishing hedges that belong to other people.

In recent weeks, a concrete bridge has been put in place, lorry loads of slate waste have been brought to the site and a road laid to provide a new access to Bryn Llys from the village of Nebo.

I hear from one source that while delivering this material a tipper truck belonging to Gwynedd Skip Hire of Caernarfon touched an overhead power cable. There was one hell of a bang, one or more of the truck’s tyres blew and Nebo, Talysarn and parts of Penygroes suffered a power cut.

Another source reports that the driver’s mate touched the body of the tipper and got “zapped” quite badly, he was said to be “black all over”. This of course was reported and has been taken up by HSE. I’m not sure if the police are involved.

Latest report says all is quiet, and suggests that local contractors may be getting reluctant to be involved with the Bryn Llys gang.

What an absolute shambles! Which doesn’t look like getting better any time soon.

Why is it that honest people are pounced on by planners for making a genuine mistake but crooks like these can brazenly flout the system for years?

What’s more, it’s nothing more than money-laundering in plain sight. What a system! What a country!

ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS

First stop, Parc Teifi on the outskirts of Aberteifi (Cardigan town), when we find a group of planet-savers who were given five acres of land for just £1 by our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’ under its Community Assets Transfer scheme.

The project was to be known as the Naturewise Community Forest Garden, and a company was set up.

When first announced earlier this year there was mention of ” . . . a horticultural large allotment type use, managed by a single body, run by volunteers for the wider benefits of the community”. Project leader Alpay Torgut also enthused about local involvement and “public events to involve as many people as possible”.

The ‘involvement’ desired soon became clear – unpaid volunteers and paying customers to fund what was increasingly obviously a One Planet Development.

The next step has to be getting people to pay to work there. Click to enlarge.

Why do I suggest that it’s a One Planet Development? Well look for yourself at the structures being erected on the site.

The one I show below is being used to house some kind of display, which could obviously be much more at home in a smaller structure. Though the structure we see would be an ideal roundhouse of the type favoured by OPD dwellers.

Note that the photograph – for which I thank Wynne Jones – was taken in July. Things have moved on since then.

Click to enlarge

And now there’s a truly curious twist.

The land was given to the group led by Alpay Torgut under the Community Assets Transfer programme. The project is called the Naturewise Community Forest Garden. And yet the community cannot access the site because of a padlocked gate. (Again, I am indebted to Wynne Jones.)

The ‘Welsh Government’ has the key – but refuses to open the gate!

Click to enlarge

Having consulted my crystal ball I predict that Torgut and his gang will soon be applying – and getting – retrospective planning permission for a OPD.

Next up is the OPD planned for Penybanc, Llandeilo, reference E/39554. On the surface this looks like a straightforward single OPD application, but things might not be that simple.

The OPD is planned for land to the south east of Caergroes farm in the Monordeilo and Salem ward of Carmarthenshire. The first point of interest is that the applicants, Matthew and Claire Denney-Price, don’t actually own the land. The land is owned by a Gwyn Jones of Trimsaran, who bought it last year.

To help you get the lie of the land I’ve compiled the illustration you see below.

The OPD is planned for the field on the right within the red boundary. Click to enlarge

There have been many submissions made to the council for and against the application. Of those in favour most live ‘away’ or just don’t give their locations, while local submissions are almost all opposed to the project. Some of the later go into considerable detail, often arguing that there is no way that the family unit of two adults and four children could sustain themselves on such a small area by sticking to the plan submitted.

Others worry that this application is the first for a settlement on adjoining land.

Someone who contacted me pointed out that the address given by Matthew and Claire Denney-Price on the planning application is 7 Yr Hen Marchnad, Llangadog. (Though I’m told that Claire Denney-Price is the only person on the electoral roll for this address.)

What struck my source was that at 9 Yr Hen Machnad was found Freedom Green Energy Ltd, certainly until the company moved its address to Brecon in March 2018. This company trades as FGE Biomass. My source suspects there may be a connection between this biomass company and the OPD application. Anybody out there know?

Finally, in this little excursion into the world of OPDs, news reaches me that all may not be well at one of the older communes. For I hear that smallholdings at Lammas are on the market. Certainly Berllan Dawel is for sale at £300,000+.

As I’ve reported before, all is not well in paradise. For two main reasons.

One is that the whole premise of OPDs is flawed, and economically unviable. The second reason is that when you put together, in close proximity, so many people absolutely sure that they – and they alone – know the correct way of doing things, then friction is inevitable.

UPDATE 11.12.2019: I’ve been informed of yet another OPD application. This one at Llyn Adain Gwydd, at Llangarthginning, near Meidrim, in north Carmarthenshire. The reference number is W/39846. (Type the number in here.)

The second line in that great song, You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive runs, ‘That’s the place where I trace my bloodline’, and that applies here; for my great-grandfather David Jones left Meidrim for Swansea in the late 1870s.

What’s strange about this application is that it comes from a Neil Moyse, who already lives in a OPD at Tir y Gafel, Glandwr, in Pembrokeshire. So are they now building OPDs to rent?

FOREIGN AID

Let me now lead you into the never-never land of Wales’ foreign aid programme. Or maybe it’s a maze. Though let me start by explaining that this section was prompted by someone sending me a tweet, one that started bells ringing. Here’s the tweet.

Click to enlarge

The bells rang because SSAP is the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel and it’s had a couple of mentions on this blog, first in Wales: Corruption and Poverty and then in Bawso and friends.

The SSAP is both a charity (1159990) and a registered company. The Charity Commission tells us that it operates ‘Throughout England and Wales’ and then lists a number of African countries from Algeria to South Africa. (I haven’t checked the atlas, but it looks most African countries get a mention.)

And there was you thinking our tribunes down Cardiff docks had no international strategy. Shame on you! The ‘Welsh Government’ even has a Minister for Ugandan Affairs, and she’s doing a wonderful job.

Apart from organising self-congratulatory bun fights, such as the one in the tweet above, it’s difficult to know what the SSAP does. But before you get too worried let me put your minds at rest by telling you that funding in year ending 31 March 2019 was a mere £68,638, down from £97,899 the previous year.

Which could prove a bit tricky, because staff costs went up from £52,668 to £73,952 in the same period, when staff numbers increased from 2 to 3. Leaving nothing over to do anything really . . . except organise awards ceremonies and the like. So, basically, this is just another third sector scam providing sinecures for Labour Party hangers-on.

The accounts also tell us that while the main funder is Comic Relief the other major funder is the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA). So who are they? The introductory blurb tells us, ‘We want a worldwide Wales where everyone here contributes to creating a fairer and more peaceful world. We inspire people to learn and act on global issues through three programmes:’ which are then listed as, Global Learning, Global Action, Global partnerships.

All very worthy, no doubt, and vague to the point of vacuousness.

The CEO of the WCIA is Susie Ventris-Field, who’s worked her way up through the third sector – e.g. Chwarae Teg – and also spent time in Africa.

Susie is assisted by Emily who organises festivals such as the Green Man and Glasto. ‘Emily has a beautiful dog’, we’re told! Then there’s Philip, who ‘moved to Wales to join his wife in semi-retirement in 2014’. And Shaela, ‘who previously worked for the University of Leicester’. Amber is another who has come to live among us, and loves cats.

There may be one or two Welsh people hidden away in the cupboards but by and large the ‘Welsh’ Centre for International Affairs is yet another third sector body using Welsh public money to provide jobs for strangers doing ‘work’ of no benefit whatsoever to Wales. But then, isn’t that true philanthropy!

Talking of money, who funds the WCIA?

To answer that let’s start by looking at this clip (below) from the WCIA’s Charity Commission entry, which tells us that since it was registered in April 2014 income has gone up to £1,175,306.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Which is not bad, when you think about it. In a time of economic recession, and with Wales having managed just fine up until then without it, someone decided that what we really needed was the Welsh Council for International Affairs.

So where does that money come from and how is it spent? Here’s the WCIA 2017-2018 Annual Report, which includes the accounts.

Click to enlarge

Taking the second set of figures first we see that just under two-thirds of the income goes on salaries for no less than 23 staff. That will be Susie . . . Emily who has the nice dog . . . Philip who moved to Wales because we needed him so badly . . .

And after paying all their salaries there was still £197,145 ‘cash at bank and in hand’. That’s a lot of readies, suggesting they’re over-funded and looking for ways to spend money they don’t need.

Looking at the income in 2018, £238,156 came from Wales for Peace, but the biggest chunk, £639,893 came from Hub Cymru Africa. So who are they, and where does their money come from? (As if you didn’t know!)

Wales for Peace it seems only existed during the World War One centenary period (which probably explains the WCIA itself being set up in April 2014), and ceased to exist in December 2018. It wasn’t registered with either Companies House or the Charity Commission. From what I can gather on the WCIA website funding  for Wales for Peace came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Now let’s turn to the WCIA’s major funder, Hub Cymru Africa, which contributed £639,893 according to the latest accounts. Page 40 of the accounts tells us that this largesse came from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. In other words, us.

Click to enlarge

Just as we met Susie and her gang at the WCIA, at Hub Cymru Africa we find another galaxy of non-Welsh stars spending Welsh money on non-Welsh issues.

Yet because Hub Cymru Africa produces no accounts and has no official existence we have no way of knowing how much Claire O’Shea and the rest of the team earn, or how many employees there are. Which is wrong, because they use public money and so this information should be readily available.

To recap: We started out with the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel. Funding levels there are not high, and all funding seems to be used paying staff wages.

One of the SSAP’s main funders is the Welsh Centre for International Affairs whose funding comes from Wales for Peace and Hub Cymru Africa. Roughly two-thirds of this funding goes on salaries. The larger funder, HCA, gets its money from the ‘Welsh Government’.

This system is of little use to the needs of Wales and Welsh people. It’s no more than virtue signalling on steroids. Steroids paid for with Welsh public funding. Instead of exposing and condemning this system Plaid Cymru desperately wants to be part of it, as we see with Helen Mary Jones at the SSAP bun fight.

The sting in the tail is that these people attracted to Wales by third sector money are often smarter than our politicians. (Which is not saying much, obviously.) And they exert undue influence in a country they regard as nothing more than a geographical expression.

This results in OPDs and other insanity to ‘save the planet’, or wanting to flood Wales with ‘refugees’ under the ‘Wales – Nation of Sanctuary’ project.

A country with homeless on the streets, where kids go to school hungry, where people die waiting for ambulances, apparently has millions of pounds to spare so that dilettante English activists and useless Welsh politicians can feel better about themselves.

Time to get rid of them all, and the colonial system they represent.

UPDATE 09.01.2020: The subject of foreign aid was raised in the Senedd yesterday’ Here’s a clip of the question, by Neil Hamilton, and the response from Rebecca Evans. Note the loud cheering at the mention of ‘Jac ‘o the North’!

THE CASE OF KEVIN O’NEILL’S PEANUT BUTTER

Someone has reported to me that the Labour Party in Merthyr is full of bullies, and engaging in dirty tricks. Of course, I refused to believe it, but my source was insistent.

I think the best way to tell you this is to copy and paste what I received, with a redaction here and a clarification there. So prepare yourselves, for I’m sure you will be as shocked as I was to read what follows.

“Since the May 2017 Local Elections where Independents took control of the (formerly) Labour-ruled Council, the Independent Councillors of Merthyr Tydfil have faced a barrage of Ombudsman complaints, uncooperative opposition members, false Facebook and Twitter accounts that have used intimidation, abuse and vulgar comments about the Independent Councillors but especially its Leader Kevin O’Neil and female Deputy Leader Lisa Mytton.

Unconfirmed reports from the Labour camp have talked of a split in the party with those who want nothing more than to ‘Disrupt and Destroy’ anything the Independent-led council tries to do for the good of Merthyr Tydfil.

In recent months the false accounts continued but the depths to which they and some of their party members will go unfolded in June 2019 when a whistle blowing member of Council staff couldn’t cope any more and they reported the verbal abuse and disregard for the two senior Cllrs that then culminated in the staff member entering the Cabinet office and kitchen opening the Independent Leaders food (a jar of Peanut Butter) and forcefully spitting in it while others looked on and returned it to the fridge.

A criminal investigation ensued and DNA was found in the jar, the DNA belongs to the wife of (a very prominent Labour councillor). His wife is an employed member of staff at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.

Is this what Labour have become? Is this how they treat those they feel politically threatened by? Is this what our residents and country want?

The Labour Leader must resign surely? The way Kevin O’Neill and other
hae been treated is simply despicable.”

Click to enlarge

To anti-Semitism, support for terrorists, bullying, ballot-rigging, lying and all the other crimes we can lay at Labour’s door we must now add gobbing in the council leader’s peanut butter!

O tempora! o mores!

ANNA THE FIBBER

To the city of my dreams now, and Anna Melita Redfern, who offered her company, Cinema & Co as an address for the local homeless to use so that they could register to vote in this week’s general election.

(There are of course other options for the homeless to register to vote, but these don’t get publicity for Anna Redfern.)

According to Anna she’s been running Cinema & Co in Castle Street for two years, yet Companies House tells us that Cinema & Co Swansea Ltd was only Incorporated 29 April 2019.

Image courtesy of WalesOnline. Click to enlarge

How do we explain this apparent contradiction?

By telling you that Anna had a different company at the same address. This was AR666 Ltd (previously Anna Redfern Ltd), and it traded as Cinema & Co. The company was wound up in July 2019. I’m told AR666 Ltd went under owing £32,496 to HMRC, plus phone bill, water rates, and various amounts to Swansea City Council.

Here’s an entry from The Gazette which suggests Anna may be a naughty girl for using the same name for her new company.

But I suspect Anna has a weak grip on reality, combined with an irresistible urge for self-promotion. A dangerous combination.

Other companies of which Ms Redfern is the sole director are The (Secret) Garden Swansea Ltd and Noah’s Sister Ltd. The name of the second of those hints at her being the sister of Noah Redfern, proprietor of Noah’s Yard a hip watering hole in the student quarter of the Uplands.

Noah Redfern previously owned the Monkey Bar down town and has since bought the Observatory on the seafront, though the bar he planned never materialised after a run-in with the council.

I suppose it should go without saying that Anna Melita Redfern was a finalist in the Welsh Women’s Awards 2019. Cinema & Co – which had just been liquidated – was shortlisted in the Small Business of the Year category. 

Only in colonial Wales!

UPDATE 14.12.2019: Noah Redfern makes the news himself when a planning inspector orders him to take down the ‘overbearing’ extension he’d built to an Uplands house.

I shall of course be publishing an analysis of the general election, and this will probably appear on Monday the 16th. Then, unless something really important happens, that should be it until 2020.

♦ end ♦

P.S. There was an earlier and slightly different version to this post that went out because I’d scheduled it and then lost my internet connection, which meant I could neither amend nor stop it. Take my advice and avoid Sky Broadband.

 

Weep for Wales 15

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I hadn’t planned on writing this, but a few things have cropped up. First, I received a letter from a firm of solicitors demanding that I take down everything I’ve ever written in the Weep for Wales series. Second, there was a news report yesterday that needs to be considered. Third, there’s the continuing confusion as to who owns what at Glynllifon.

But don’t worry, this is a ‘shortie’ . . . though if you have the time, and the patience, you’re welcome to go back to the very first episode. Just type ‘Weep for Wales’ in the search box atop the sidebar.

THE LETTER

I can’t say too much because the writer claims copyright over the letter and insists that I don’t reproduce it. It was a mildly threatening letter which I also found offensive, especially the reference to my wife!

But you know me, boys and girls, I’m a reasonable man. All I ask is that complainants deal with specifics – show me that I’ve got something wrong, or made a mistake, and I’ll take it down or correct it. But it’s unreasonable to expect me to remove perhaps 35,000 words simply because certain people are embarrassed by their misdeeds and associations being made public. It’s an abuse of the law, and it’s also censorship.

The clients for whom Glaisyers of Manchester are acting are said to be Paul and Rowena Williams. That may be true, it may not.

I have replied, and here is that reply, transcribed from an e-mail.

THE NEWS REPORT

The news report in North Wales Live (NWL), told us that overdue accounts for Plas Glynllifon Ltd risk seeing that company struck off the Companies House register. The accounts in question cover the period up to 31 August 2018 and should have been filed with Companies House by 31 May 2019. Which means they are more than six months overdue.

The striking off process can start automatically if a company ceases to file the required documentation. Though the process can be halted with an objection, which is what happened in this case, though the document doesn’t tell us who lodged the objection. One possibility must be Together Commercial Finance Ltd, which has no fewer than eight outstanding charges against this company.

Another possibility is that one of the bickering joint owners lodged the objection. For if we return to the NWL report we read that co-owner Paul Williams claims he wants to submit the accounts to Companies House while the other co-owner, Myles Cunliffe, says he wants his accountant to check the accounts before they’re submitted.

What’s odd is that the accounts cover a period before Cunliffe appeared on the scene, so why should he be so concerned over whether they’re true accounts or not?

What’s also odd is that NWL claims Paul Williams is the co-owner, but he’s not. The latest information with Companies says that Paul Williams ceased to be a director on 10 September.

Click to enlarge

And as we see in the panel below, Paul Williams ceased to be a shareholder 30 November last year, when his shares were transferred to Mylo Capital Ltd, Myles Cunliffe’s company.

It would appear that either Paul Williams is speaking here for his wife – and if that’s the case then it should have been made clear – or else she is director and shareholder in name only.

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It would appear that there has been some kind of a rupture between Paul and Rowena Williams on the one hand and Myles Cunliffe on the other. A possibility further suggested by the recent filing history. This tells us that on the same day, September 10, Paul Williams ceased to be a director of Plas Glynllifon Ltd and the company’s address moved from Manchester to Seiont Manor hotel. A few days later the company’s address was changed again to Llwyn y Brain Lodge.

Seiont Manor hotel is owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, another company that appears to be jointly owned by Rowena Williams and Myles Cunliffe, and also uses the Llwyn y Brain Lodge address. Following the Plas Glynllifon Ltd pattern the accounts are also overdue and there are 7 outstanding charges with Together Commercial Finance Ltd.

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Though what’s different is that although Mylo Capital Ltd and Rowena Williams are shown as the shareholders, with 5,000 shares each, the two directors are Cunliffe and Paul Williams. Again suggesting that Rowena Williams is just a name. Though, admittedly, the statement showing the distribution of the shares is a year old, so things might have changed.

So we have two companies, Plas Glynllifon Ltd and Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, each of which is weighed down with debt, and both of which are reluctant to submit accounts. What can it all mean?

UPDATE: The story made it into the Daily Post this morning.

UPDATE 11.12.2019: Comments made to this blog and information received by other means about staff not being paid at Seiont Manor have apparently been confirmed by this story in today’s Daily Post.

True to form, Myles Cunliffe threatened North Wales Live (the online edition of the Daily Post) with legal action if they published the story. “When asked about this the company did not comment on the wages delay and a statement on behalf of joint owner Myles Cunliffe said legal action would be taken if North Wales Live continued to publish any article.”

WHO OWNS THE PILE?

If you go back to Weep for Wales 14 you’ll see that there is some confusion about the ownership of Plas Glynllifon, the mansion that lies at the heart of the sprawling estate with countless other buildings including those used by Coleg Glynllifon.

In the hope of clarifying things I’ve been in contact with Grwp Llandrillo-Menai, which originally owned the mansion.

The confusion – certainly my confusion – is due to the fact that the title document that mentions the big house, CYM8531, says that the mansion is owned by Grwp Llandrillo Menai. Yet the Grwp insists the mansion was sold in 2003 to Glynllifon Ltd, which went bust, with the mansion being subsequently bought by Plas Glynllifon Ltd in 2016.

Plas Glynllifon. Click to enlarge

And the sale is indeed confirmed by an old title document for CYM127981, which shows that in April 2003 Coleg Meirion Dwyfor (now part of Grwp Llandrillo Menai) sold “Glynllifon Mansion House and surrounding land” to Glynllifon Ltd for £500,000. With CYM127981 being extracted from CYM8531.

But now, the same title number, CYM127981, held by Plas Glynllifon Ltd, only mentions “land adjoining Glynllifon College”. Where’s the mansion gone?

I’m now waiting for Grwp Llandrillo-Menai to get back to me and confirm that things have been sorted out with the Land Registry. Because I’m still confused.

A LITTLE ROUNDUP

Other than what I’ve just told you, not a lot has happened since Weep for Wales 14 was published 21 October. But as we know, there’s always something to report in this saga, so here’s a list, in chronological order:

And that’s it until the next time.

♦ end ♦

 

Devolution, the placebo that no longer works

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I suppose most people reading this know what a placebo is, but for those who aren’t certain . . . a placebo is something given instead of a medicine or treatment and is intended to fool the person receiving it into believing they are taking a medicine or receiving treatment.

In other words, the patient or guinea pig is given something that won’t really do them any good. Understandably, once they realise they’re being given a placebo then its usefulness is gone.

IN THE BEGINNING

Let’s start by reminding ourselves that devolution wasn’t a gift from Heaven, it was not promised in the Labour manifesto of 1997 because those offering it thought it would be good for Scotland and Wales. No, it was offered because it served England’s (perceived) interests.

Also, let’s not forget the Irish dimension; for to support a fragile peace process there was also an imperative to set up a Northern Ireland Assembly. In fact, this desire formed part of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act (1998). For good measure London was also included in the package to make it look like a sincere attempt to devolve power from Westminster.

In reality, Tony Blair’s Labour government gave devolution to London confident that the Assembly would always have a Labour majority, to the Six Counties because of US pressure, and to Scotland and Wales as a placebo to ‘national aspirations’ which was safeguarded, so it was believed, by an electoral system (certainly in Scotland) that made it difficult for any one party to achieve an absolute majority.

LABOUR AND DEVOLUTION

But as we’ve seen, the ‘no majority’ system has failed, and the Scottish National Party has used its majority in the Scottish Parliament to improve standards and conditions in all manner of ways. But what of Wales?

Things are different in Wales for one very obvious reason. While Scotland has a political party and a government determined to improve the country, we have languished for twenty years under successive Labour and Labour-led administrations that have simply masked the old system of neglecting Wales unless she can be exploited.

A very recent and still emerging example would be the National Development Framework (NDF) produced a few months ago by the ‘Welsh Government’. I mention the NDF because it’s a “20-year spatial plan” for the whole country, all other plans are subsidiary to it.

I wrote about the National Development Framework in August, in a post of the same name. In the NDF we read that much of rural Wales outside of the national parks is to be ‘rewilded’, given over to a new ‘national forest’, or else covered in wind turbines and solar complexes.

From the National Development Framework. Click to enlarge

This of course allows the ‘Welsh Government’ to virtue signal madly that ‘Wales’ is making its contribution to saving the planet. In reality, Wales is being lined up for a coat of Greenwash that will be welcomed by the City and others as a money-making wheeze, while Wales provides even more of England’s electricity.

Of course, we’ve suffered wind turbines for a couple of decades, but what’s interesting in the NDF is that it explores new ways to exploit our uplands. The two articles below, one from the Times and the other from Llais y Sais, will help explain what I mean.

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The piece from the Times stresses the carbon-absorbing value of mountains and moorlands while the Western Mail article talks of planting trees on grazing land. Wales of course has plenty of mountains, moorland and grazing land, and if these are to be monetised then we can guarantee that ‘investors’ and others will profit from Welsh land.

All this will be facilitated by the ‘Welsh Government’. Playing the role it adopted with unseemly alacrity when presented with the Summit to Sea scam. For ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers more than perhaps any other sector of the population.

When it hasn’t been punishing rustics for not voting Labour the party has been building up an army of cronies to run the ‘poverty industry’. The third sector capitalises on Welsh deprivation with no intention of bringing relief or remedy because to do so would mean an end to the public funding sustaining thousands of well-paid – but usually unnecessary – jobs.

So we see that ‘Welsh’ Labour is quite happy to serve as London’s management team in Cardiff, and equally content to see Wales decline. Then, even at Assembly elections, Labour can heard bewailing Wales’ deprivation and insisting that voters ‘Send a message to London’.

Though what sending a message to London about the mess Labour has made of Wales is supposed to achieve I’m not sure. Unless it’s a pat on the head for the local Labour bigwigs and the promise of seats in the House of Lords.

PLAID CYMRU AND DEVOLUTION

Anyone looking at Plaid Cymru and thinking they see a party working for Welsh independence really should pop along to the Cloud Cuckoo Land branch of Specsavers.

In truth, the thought of independence terrifies Plaid’s leadership, and others in the upper stratum of the party. For with independence comes responsibility, standing on your own two feet, and delivering measures to improve the lives of the Welsh people – for there’ll be no one else to blame.

What Plaid Cymru wants is the kind of DevoMax system I outlined in Plaid Cymru, where to now? (scroll down when you get there). In a nutshell, institutions in which a native elite of politicians, professionals and administrators can prosper. We are almost there; with a few more powers devolved to the Assembly, such as justice and policing, these desires might be satisfied.

At the moment, Plaid still gets the votes of most of those wanting independence, also those concerned with the Welsh language, nationhood and associated factors. But this constituency is losing faith or simply giving up due to the direction Plaid Cymru is taking.

The hard truth for Plaid Cymru is that no amount of fascist-hunters, or trans lobbyists, or EU zealots, or planet-savers, or any other variety of political exotica will be enough to replace the socially conservative Welsh voters being lost, often alienated by the increasing grip on the party exerted by the aforementioned.

These newer elements promote causes common to a number of political parties and pressure groups, which often means that with Plaid Cymru they’re just hedging their bets. Their interest in Plaid Cymru, and indeed Wales, is often due solely to the attractiveness of a small country with a system of devolution and a malleable political leadership.

For the upcoming general election Plaid Cymru has entered into a disastrous ‘Remainer’ pact with a Liberal Democrat Party led by a woman who loses votes every time she’s exposed to public scrutiny and a Green Party that refuses to even recognise the existence of Wales.

Image courtesy of Sunday Times. Click to enlarge

With Labour and the devolution system it brought into existence discredited there is a golden opportunity to take Wales forward to independence.

But it can’t happen because all we have is Plaid Cymru, another leftist party that would rather be the junior partner in a colonial management structure than the party – like the SNP – guiding a nation towards independence.

Or perhaps I’m being unfair on Plaid Cymru, maybe its ambition extends to being the senior partner in a colonial administration. Now there’s ambition for you!

We have reached the stage where Plaid Cymru has nothing to say on Wales and independence; and few people listen to what it has to say on other issues. The party is surviving as a political force on goodwill accumulated in a previous incarnation.

THE PLACEBO NO LONGER WORKS

As the old saying has it: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

That’s the stage we’re at with devolution and the leftist hegemony in Cardiff Bay. After twenty years of declining standards I believe that a majority of people now realise that devolution isn’t working and that the blame lies in Cardiff not London.

Realising that devolution has failed explains both the increased support for abolishing the Assembly altogether and also why more of us are prepared to consider independence. With correspondingly fewer in the middle willing to defend devolution. For the ‘recognition of nationhood’ and ‘better than nothing’ arguments no longer persuade.

If returned on December 12 it’s possible that the Tories will do away with devolution in the next couple of years, not because they’re ideologically opposed to devolution – they’re not – but because they can also see that the placebo effect is wearing off.

I would probably support the abolition of the Assembly, reasoning that it might be necessary to take a step back before we can move forward. When stuck in a rut it’s often necessary to go back in order to move forward with greater momentum than took you into the rut. And let’s be honest, we walked into devolution with our eyes shut.

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And for those now calling me all sorts of names I put out a simple challenge – defend devolution. (And for God’s sake, don’t insult my intelligence by arguing that things would be better with Plaid Cymru in charge.)

I have argued for a few years that Welsh independence is most likely to come about from an interplay between internal dynamics with external factors, with the latter influencing the former. And that is what we now see happening: Devolution is discredited, as are the parties most closely associated with it; while beyond our borders clouds gather, but these are clouds with silver linings, if we only we realise it.

We now need a Conservative government in London to inflict all the damage its opponents predict it will. Then we must help the Scots in their second independence referendum. Finally, we must make a push for our own independence with a broad-based movement focused solely on Wales and Welsh issues.

Which is why I shall be supporting Welsh independence on December 12 by voting for the Conservative and Unionist Party.

♦ end ♦