This decision that took most of us by surprise needs to be examined and certain ramifications and possibilities considered. For last week’s decision might have significance beyond a single road project.
When Carwyn Jones was First Minister it was understood that the relief road would go ahead. So for a start, the decision announced last week means that things have changed under his successor, Mark Drakeford.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of last week’s decision is that Mark Drakeford, and the ‘Welsh Government’, have gone against the wishes of their superiors in London. It’s impossible to over-stress that what happened last week was a form of insubordination.
Our Secretary of State, Alun Cairns, that most London-loyal of individuals – and, we now learn, a Boris Johnson supporter – was “hugely disappointed” by the decision. It may have come as a bit of a shock to him, for Cairns knew long ago what the inspector’s recommendation was, and he probably expected the new management team in Cardiff docks to follow Compliant Carwyn’s lead and do as the inspector (and London) recommended.
So maybe any consideration of this shock to the system political boils down to two questions:
Why has Drakeford refused to do London’s bidding in this instance?
Is this a one-off act of rebellion or does it herald a fundamental change of course for ‘Welsh’ Labour?
One possible explanation might lie in the fact that despite all the criticism of London-centricity, and the disproportionate amount of infrastructure spending in London and the south east of England, for two decades Wales has followed exactly the same course.
Because a curious feature of devolution is that those areas that voted against devolution in 1997 have been the areas to benefit most since 1999. Maybe this is related to the phenomenon that has seen successive Labour administrations in Cardiff Bay neglect those areas that vote Labour.
So, to be generous, this decision not to proceed with the M4 relief road might mark the beginning of attempts to ‘rebalance’ the Welsh economy.
Even if I’m being too generous there, on a purely financial level, it would have been difficult to justify expenditure of £1.5 bn (at the very least) in a country of just over 3 million people unless the benefits are widely enjoyed. That would obviously not have been the case with the M4 relief road, and further, expenditure on that project would mean fewer infrastructure projects elsewhere in the country.
It’s even being suggested that areas of England – notably Bristol – would have benefited more from an M4 relief road than areas of Wales just twenty or thirty miles away, such as the Heads of the Valleys.
This is how Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, put it in a couple of tweets.
Weighing up cost and benefit, the M4 relief road would have meant the ‘Welsh Government’ borrowing a great deal of money for a project that at best would only benefit one corner of the country, and at worst, might have been of more benefit to adjacent areas of England.
On those grounds alone, no body claiming to be the ‘Welsh Government’, serving the whole of Wales, could have given the go-ahead for the M4 relief road.
But that consideration has never before stopped an administration in Cardiff Bay from pouring investment into the city at the expense of the rest of the country. So there may be other explanations.
THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE FOR ENGLANDANDWALES
Having mentioned the Planning Inspectorate this is a good time to remind you of the malign influence this agency has exerted over Wales.
In this example from March 2014 I wrote about the plan to expand Bodelwyddan and how it linked with the Local Development Plan (LDP) for Denbighshire. In this post we see how the Planning Inspectorate was forcing a Welsh local authority to allow housing greatly in excess of any local need.
And even after census findings made it clear that the county would need less new housing than had previously been anticipated, the Planning Inspector insisted on keeping to the now discredited figures:
“Objects and aspirations” can only mean catering for an influx of new residents from outside of the county, and almost certainly from outside of Wales. Which means that in many cases the LDPs that have been forced on our local authorities by the Planning Inspectorate are ‘local’ only in the sense that they affect areas of Wales.
In Denbighshire, the northern part of the county lies within the A55 corridor, which is being developed as a linear commuter belt for north west England. The ‘Welsh Government’ will never admit this – in fact, it might not even be consulted – but others know, and are planning for it.
What’s being done here could be done without devolution – so what’s the point of having a ‘Welsh Government’ if it doesn’t live up to the name? Is devolution just a chimera, a smokescreen?
Cross-border co-operation is one thing, and desirable, it happens all over the world; but it must be done on a basis of mutual respect with both sides benefiting. The map you see above is Englandandwales in operation. Anyone arguing otherwise would probably describe Tryweryn as a mutually-beneficial project.
Without labouring the point I hope you get the gist – the Planning Inspectorate has done a lot of damage to Wales over the years. Which explains why the agency’s relationship with the ‘Welsh Government’ has always been a source of confusion for Welsh politicians and others.
The truth is that the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales has a desk in Cardiff but takes its orders from London, with the ‘Welsh Government’ allowed to pretend it has some control.
The truth is driven home when we see an inspector adjudicating on a Welsh case one week and being in Yorkshire or Devon the following week. (Though of course, never in Scotland.)
It was no surprise then that the Planning Inspectorate wanted the M4 black route. Because that’s what London wanted.
Though if Mark Drakeford can see the problem with the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales then he must also be aware that this is only the tip of an iceberg. That ‘iceberg’ being the problem of ‘Welsh’ civil servants relaying orders from London.
PLANNING FOR A WELSH FUTURE?
The fact that the ‘Welsh Government’ went against the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, its London masters, and a number of powerful lobby groups (perhaps even . . . whisper it – Deryn!), means that Mark Drakeford has really stuck his scruffy neck out.
Which leads me to suspect, or hope, that this decision might be about more than the explanations we’ve been given on cost and environment damage. There might be things bubbling below the surface that could prove to be more important in the medium term than the M4 decision itself.
First off, I am convinced that the M4 decision links with this announcement from a month ago that Wales will soon have its own planning inspectorate. Let’s look at what the article in The Planner says.
“Currently, the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales is responsible for making decisions and recommendations on planning-related land issues and appeals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Welsh Government fund it.
Based in Cardiff, the inspectorate’s Wales Division manages casework on planning and related applications and appeals, including developments of national significance. It examines local development plans, which set out land use planning policies and form the basis of local planning decisions, using a team of dedicated Welsh inspectors and administrators.
The new planning inspectorate for Wales is expected to be fully operational by the end of the current assembly term, which is May 2021.”
This move was explained by the ‘Welsh Government’ thus: “planning law and policy has diverged and continues to diverge at an accelerating rate from England”. Which makes a certain sense, but if that’s the real reason then policing, broadcasting and many other powers would also be fully devolved.
Though a cynic might suggest that Drakeford is launching the new agency because he’s burned his bridges with the Planning Inspectorate after giving them two fingers over such a high-profile project as the M4 relief road.
Whatever the reason, I’m hoping Drakeford and his cabinet want a separate Welsh planning inspectorate to do things differently in future and for the right reasons. Otherwise, why set up a new and separate agency?
IN CONCLUSION . . .
Does the dropping of the M4 relief road coupled with the announcement of the new planning inspectorate herald a change of direction for the ‘Welsh Government’?
The cynic in me thinks, ‘Nah, this leopard ain’t gonna change its spots, Jac. After twenty years of screwing up on devolution Labour’s only pretending to do things differently now because it’s slipping in the polls. Any change will be purely cosmetic.’
But then, the optimistic side to my nature (long dormant) asserts itself and says, ‘Wait! Maybe from now on they will put the interests of Wales and Welsh people first. Perhaps they’ll realise that there are communities within twenty miles of Corruption Bay approaching third world standards of deprivation. And that our rural areas need more than zip wires and granny farms.
‘Perhaps it’ll mean no more insane legislation to encourage hippies, ‘rewilders’ and other enviroshysters; no more grants showered on multinationals’ branch factories and con men with ludicrous ‘projects’; no more red carpet treatment for exploitive ‘celebs’ such as Bore Grylls; no more funding and other encouragement for the third sector to import England’s problems so as to maintain thousands of unnecessary jobs with our money.
‘Maybe, at long last, Wales will be treated as a country, in which the interests of those who belong here are considered more important than kudos gained from playing to galleries that only seek to exploit and marginalise us. Perhaps our kids will be given a decent education to prepare them for better jobs than scurrying around an Amazon warehouse or desperately waiting for Easter in the hope of some low-wage tourism job.’
I haven’t prepared any in-depth or weighty post for this week; instead, I’ve put together a few things I’ve been thinking about, or been sent, that might also be of interest to you. You know me – always trying to please!
Quite what this was supposed to achieve no one seemed to know, but it struck me at the time as a predictable response from Plaid Cymru’s clenched fist and beret tendency. Those who would still regard the Tories as ‘the real enemy’ even if ISIS invaded the Rhondda Fach.
Ideally, of course, Plaid Cymru would like a coalition with Labour, but thanks to Comrade Corbyn’s vacillating that is not possible. So with that hope dashed, Plaid now seeks a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Change UK and the SNP.
Let’s consider the SNP first. Things are very different in Scotland, where the SNP will be hoping to win every seat in the next UK general election; so the chances of them doing a deal with other parties, which would almost certainly mean standing down in some seats, is a non-starter.
The SNP could even turn the next general election into a vote on independence and EU membership, especially if Westminster refuses to allow another independence referendum.
Next up is Change UK. If you’re unfamiliar with this lot, then let me explain that they’re a bunch of preening egotists who couldn’t get their own ways in their previous parties. Before the next election comes around clashing egos will have destroyed this collective huff of a party and that’ll be the end of Change UK.
On to the Greens, aka the Green Party of England, for there is no Wales Green Party. Worse, last year Greens in Wales voted on whether to set up a separate Green party and decided to stay as the Green Party of Englandandwales. Which means that Plaid Cymru wants to work with a party that refuses to recognise Wales as a country!
Finally, the Liberal Democrats, the party that kept the Tories in power at Westminster between 2010 and 2015, and the party that – with its single AM – helps keep Labour in power down Cardiff docks. A gang of opportunistic and amoral politicos that would sell their grannies for a sniff of power.
Despite decades of trying to promote themselves as the ‘nice’ party I have a deep and abiding contempt for the modern Liberal Democrats. I had time for old Geraint Howells and a few others from the genuinely Welsh Liberal tradition, but the modern party is a venomous thing not to be trusted or handled.
Containing individuals like Callum James Littlemore, who is ‘Diary Manager’ for local party leader Jane Dodds. (She needs a diary manager!) I thought for a minute it was a typo, and he worked on her farm, but apparently it’s true. Anyway, young Callum bears out all I’ve thought about LibDems.
Though he can’t have been in Wales for long if he thinks Plaid Cymru “support divisive nationalism”. Listen to Uncle Jac: Plaid Cymru is a bunch of evasive, wishy-washy, ishoo-botherers, forever seeking distractions to avoid confronting any specifically Welsh issue. Brexit being the latest such distraction.
Let’s hope we hear little more from Littlemore. (Couldn’t resist it!)
Ruling out the SNP for the reasons I’ve given, these are the parties that Plaid Cymru is ready to co-operate with thanks to Plaid’s fixation with Brexit. What would Plaid get in return – I mean, would these parties campaign for Welsh independence, or even greater devolution? I think not.
It also means that by turning the next election into a single-issue affair Plaid Cymru will ignore the things people care about. Done in order to line up with England’s Brahmin left, thereby alienating thousands upon thousands of people that must be won over if Wales is to escape the humiliation long ago imposed on us by John Bull; a colonial system loyally maintained into the present day by ‘Welsh’ Labour and its rag-bag of hangers-on.
There’ll be a price to pay for this posturing, this self-indulgent myopia. I sincerely hope.
Made possible by Secretary of State for Wales (1979 – 1987) Nicholas Edwards, who set up, in April 1987, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC), to be run by his good friend and fellow High Tory, Sir Geoffrey Inkin. The CBDC became the conduit for pumping hundreds of millions of pounds of public money into land owned by Associated British Ports (ABP), of which Edwards was a director.
Of course, Edwards/Crickhowell didn’t have it all his own way. For example, despite donning his Welsh National Opera tricorn he failed to get a new opera house to the Bay, but learning from that disappointment he made sure that the ‘consolation prize’ of the Notional Assembly building was located on his patch.
And while it was being built he saw to it that ABP continued to coin it by having AMs and staff use Crickhowell House – at £2m+ a year.
Crickhowell House was soon renamed Tŷ Crughywel, and is now Tŷ Hywel, apparently in honour of Hywel Dda. Which looks very much like an attempt to hide the Crickhowell connection, for I’m not aware of Hywel Dda having any local connections.
Despite having moved into the new Senedd building over ten years ago the ‘Welsh Government’ still agreed a series of leases that bind it – and us – to Tŷ Hywel until 2049, or Armageddon, whichever comes sooner. Guaranteed to cost us many more millions of pounds.
I mention this to give the background to what we see today in Cardiff Bay; the squalid and incestuous wheeler-dealing, the lying and the backstabbing, the cronyism, the incompetence, and the waste of public money.
The latest example of the incestuousness comes with Daniel Bryant leaving lobbyists Deryn for Plaid Cymru. This ménage à trois involving Deryn, Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party is not good for democracy or for Wales.
But this is what devolution has done. It has given us a class of people, divorced from the real world, who study politics, help out local politicians in their spare time and then, when they finish university, get a job working for a politician, or lobbyists, making contacts, and getting on their party’s list of approved candidates.
They then become politicians and make decisions affecting the lives of people with whom they have little contact and for whom they may have little concern. I say that because politics is no longer about serving the people, it’s a team game of abstractions and all that matters is scoring points against the opposition. (Though in Wales it often seems to be just two ‘teams’ involved.)
This system of musical chairs that begins with teenagers choosing a ‘career’ in politics goes a long way to explaining why Wales is in the mess she’s in today. And also why, alone in western Europe, Wales has no register or regulation of lobbyists – because the lobbyists won’t countenance such legislation!
Speak out in favour of such legislation – as Neil McEvoy has done more than once – and you will be hounded and vilified – by lobbyists, your own party, and anyone else the lobbyists can influence. Is this democracy?
Of course not, but it is Corruption Bay; and those we find lurking there today are worthy successors to the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.
‘Why Brighton?’ you ask, and the answer is because that’s where his mates are. ‘Mates!’ Yes, you must remember his partners from the Cardiff Bay property business. I wrote about it in Baywatch and Baywatch 2. In particular, Mark Philip Carter, a director with James of Building and Estate Solutions Today Limited.
The two directors of Ffynnon Consultancy are James and his missus. He with 400 shares, she with 100.
It was always unlikely that when James retires later this month, and surfboards out of county hall on a flood of tears, that he would put on his slippers and take up some innocent pastime like counting his money, or evicting bloggers.
But now, with his own consultancy, his protégée Wendy Walters taking over his job, and Emlyn ‘Two Barns’ Dole keeping the councillors in check, James should be able to run the show by remote control!
For as the old saying has it – You can’t keep a good man down. Or in this case, a vindictive and manipulative megalomaniac, and Private Eye Shit of the Year 2016.
You know he can’t just walk away – for there is a Wellness Village to build!
Talking of which . . . there’s something nagging me, for there is another company with a very similar name to James’s new venture. This being the Ffynnon Consultancy Group Ltd.
‘UAE’ is of course the initials of the United Arab Emirates, and ‘GCC’ stands for Gulf Cooperation Council. So why would this obscure little company be operating in the Gulf?
I ask because I’m sure you’ll remember that it was links with that part of the world that led to suspensions at Swansea University and the halting of city deal funding for the Wellness Village.
The sole director of the Ffynnon Consultancy Group – a one-share company that appears never to have traded or done anything since being formed in June 2016 – was Angela Louise Williams of Llandybie, until she was replaced last Friday by Kevin Williams of New Quay, Ceredigion, with the company’s registered address also transferring to New Quay on 3 June.
Given the Gulf connection, I got to wondering if there might also be a link with Swansea University, the Wellness Village, or with outgoing Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James’s new company Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd?
In the hope of getting answers I e-mailed Ffynnon Consultancy Group and received a reply from Kevin Williams, who expressed surprise that Companies House had allowed registrations from two companies with such similar names.
He assured me that neither he nor Angela Louise Williams had any links to either Carmarthenshire County Council or Swansea University. So that would appear to be that . . . just an amazing coincidence . . .
M4 OR NO M4
As I write this, on Monday evening, the word is that tomorrow the ‘Welsh Government’ will not back the proposed M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks. So, on that assumption, here are a few points that immediately popped into the cavernous Jac cranium.
Let us hope that this unexpected decision heralds a new era of development and investment spread across the country, thereby obviating the need for an M4 ‘relief road’.
Presumably the announcement will be accompanied by promises to invest in public transport. Again, I urge that thinking goes beyond the Cardiff region, because there is a country out there.
Nothing would prove this administration’s commitment to both Wales beyond Cardiff and public transport better than a west coast railway line from Carmarthen to Bangor.
Finally, this decision might deter commuters from Bristol and elsewhere moving into Wales for cheaper housing – have you thought about that? Well, have you!
And, finally, this week’s caption competition. I am grateful to the person who supplied this wonderful photograph of Paul and Rowena Williams of Weep for Wales fame. The picture comes from the XscapeNow Facebook page.
These crooks are former owners of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, The Knighton Hotel, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor Hotel and other establishments from Northumberland to Cornwall.
I can’t help thinking that holding an illustration of criminals being caught by the police might be seen as tempting fate.
This is in the form of a journal, covering the days leading up to the EU election, the election itself, the results, and of course, it concludes with an erudite analysis.
Yes, it’s another biggie, but broken up into daily sections for easier consumption. Enjoy!
I can barely hear myself think, what with the brass bands playing out in the street, dogs barking, rival party canvassers hurling abuse at one another – look! one of the Change UK crew just punched a Green Party (of England) canvasser who’s dressed as a parsnip! It’s all happening here, I tell you.
I’ve just been to Tywyn for my morning coffee and it’s hectic there, too, a riot of colour; I’ve never seen so many posters up in windows and placards in front gardens and fields. People are intoxicated with excitement and are already queuing outside the polling station, Thermos flasks and sandwich boxes in their backpacks.
In fact, I haven’t seen such excitement since news of the relief of Mafeking came over the telegraph wire.
(Sod it, I can’t keep this up.)
Truth is, you’d never know there was an election happening. I have not seen a single canvasser, poster or placard, just minimalist leaflets delivered by the postie. If democracy is in peril – as the left keeps screeching – then it might be because nobody cares.
I’ve just watched BBC ‘Parliament Live’ and it’s obvious that Theresa May is on her last legs, there is little support for her anywhere in the House. Her legacy might be that through blind stubbornness she will have delivered what few really wanted just a few months ago – a hard Brexit.
Here in Wales, Plaid Cymru is happy because a poll puts them on 19% for tomorrow’s election. But with the two main parties in complete disarray, the not-quite-dead Lib Dems on 10%, the Green Party (of England) on 8%, and a party that didn’t exist a few months ago on 36%, maybe 19% isn’t really that impressive.
Especially as Plaid got 15% in the previous EU election in 2014. And this time around is promoting itself as the last best hope for Remainers.
In Scotland, the same polling company came up with the following figures: SNP 38%, Brexit Party 20%, Green 11%, Labour 10%, Conservatives 10%, Lib Dem 7%, UKIP 2%, Change UK 2%, Other 1%.
It would appear that for this election much of the Unionist-Brexit vote in Scotland is coalescing behind the Brexit Party, and it’s worth bearing in mind that the Green Party in Scotland supports independence. So even though this is a EU vote there could be a majority tomorrow for pro-independence parties.
I’ve got a hell of a cold.
To be continued . . .
THURSDAY, ELECTION DAY
I can’t report ‘fevered activity’ because there isn’t any, certainly not on the EU election front. This election we shouldn’t be having has people thinking of things other than who gets to sit in the EU Parliament.
For most in the Conservative Party the objective now seems to be removing the Prime Minister. Earlier in the week the cabinet agreed on a way to proceed with Brexit, but by the time Mrs May brought it to the House of Commons the agreed plan had changed in ways that most cabinet members couldn’t accept.
This sealed Mrs May’s fate. Another blow was the resignation of Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House. It’s only a matter of time now.
But back to the election where, on Twitter, Plaid Cymru seems to be anticipating a good result. Time will tell.
Despite having a hell of a cold I bravely decided to stay up to watch Newsnight. An interesting panel for the discussion (27:25); people who were there at the end with Margaret Thatcher, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, plus Fraser Nelson of the Spectator.
It was generally agreed that Mrs Thatcher would go after President Trump visits in early June. Fraser Nelson pointing out that in the morning she meets Sir Graham Brady of the 1922 Committee and if she can’t produce an acceptable plan for slinging her hook then he will open the dreaded sealed envelopes and that will be that.
Talk inevitably turned to her successor, and the usually well-informed Fraser Nelson told us that Boris Johnson is “so far ahead with the country” that there might be no contest. In other words, the Tory grassroots want someone who might win a general election, or be able to repel – even align himself with? – the Farage juggernaut.
By 36:55 talk turned to the Union, and a how a ‘no-dealer’ like Boris Johnson might threaten this sacred bond. The view was that, essentially, the harder the Brexit the more likely it is to result in Scottish independence.
The other side of this coin, is of course that staying in the EU – which is what Plaid Cymru wants – is more likely to hold the Union together. Which in turn means that by becoming a Remainer party Plaid Cymru could be seen as turning its back on Wales and independence to play silly, British, games. And not for the first time.
For me, as ever, the priority is independence, and I don’t care if it’s delivered by Old Nick himself.
Elsewhere . . .
The Assembly sat and debated a Conservative motion reading, ‘The Welsh economy has stagnated since devolution’.
The motion was lost because Plaid Cymru supported Labour, as it always does.
Over the years I’ve noticed that Plaid Cymru is quite prepared to mildly criticise Labour . . . until the Conservatives appear. Then it’s socialist solidarity all the way. Labour knows this and can play Plaid Cymru like a violin.
In fact, I think the motion was rather generous. The Welsh economy hasn’t stagnated since devolution – it’s gone backwards. And it’s all due to Labour and Plaid Cymru. Which is why they could hardly admit it.
Still suffering with my cold.
To be continued . . .
My cold is worse. (I knew you’d be worrying.)
Theresa May has finally resigned. It’s almost anti-climactic, it feels like we’ve been here so many times recently. As Fraser Nelson said on Newsnight, “Ever since she lost her general election her card has been marked”.
Reminding us yet again that for the Conservative Party in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century ‘Europe’ has become what Ireland was for the nineteenth century Liberal Party.
In her farewell speech outside No 10 Mrs May mentioned ‘the Union’ a number of times which, with the increasing prospect of Boris Johnson replacing her, comes under greater threat. The prospect of dealing with Johnson may have prompted Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to go straight for the nuts with this tweet.
But of course, the SNP is in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, yes, most Scots voted to Remain. But if the loonies take over the asylum and broadcasters are forced to run Churchill speeches interspersed with musical interludes by Dame Vera Lynn and the Band of the Coldstream Guards then – as I argued in my previous posting – it greatly increases the chances of Scottish independence.
The same applies in Wales. Wanting to be on the side of the angels is all well and good over a skinny latte in Corruption Bay, but when you know that the ‘devils’ are more likely to deliver what you have yearned for all your life then you have to be pragmatic.
I shall definitely have an early night tonight.
To be continued . . .
This cold of mine could be psychosomatic, connected with the lack of football on the telly, but there are three games today. One being the Scottish Cup Final between Hearts and Celtic, then Newport play Tranmere in the League Two play-off final, and finally, this evening, Barcelona play Valencia in the Copa del Rey final.
The games at Hampden and Wembley both kick off at 3pm. How difficult would it have been to move the Newport v Tranmere game to 5pm? What does it say about the Union? Did somebody in the English FA say, ‘Oh sod that game up there, only the Jocks will want to watch it’. Wrong!
One of the best games I’ve seen in recent years was the 2016 Final between Hibernian and Rangers. With the Hibbees winning in injury time, their first triumph in 114 years. This was followed by fans brawling on the pitch and then, after the polis eventually restored order and got the Gers fans out, we were treated to a glorious rendition of Sunshine on Leith.
What other sport offers you all that?
Being Saturday, there’s little happening on the political front. Though my attention was drawn to a piece on Nation.Cymru yesterday entitled This EU Election was a big disappointment by Remain parties, an outcome Ifan Morgan Jones attributes to a lack of preparedness on the part of the Remain parties combined with Liberal Democrat perfidy.
On the sporting front, Celtic beat Hearts 2 – 1, Newport lost in extra time, and the Copa del Rey final wasn’t even bloody televised! What the hell am I paying for? Never mind, I watched Roscommon beat Mayo in the football (Gaelic) from Castlebar. I kept thinking, ‘I’m sure there’s a Rebel song with a reference to chasing “redcoats through old Castlebar”‘.
The cold persists. I have been bringing up impressive amounts of phlegm from the bronchial region and I’m also into the runny nose stage. The Jac nostrils will need to be plugged tonight ere I lay down my aching head.
To be continued . . .
SUNDAY – THE RESULTS!
Before I could settle down and start working myself up into the required frenzy ahead of the results I had a few chores to fulfil. One being to deliver grandchildren home to Tywyn ahead of the local carnival.
After dropping them off and doing some shopping I was driving past the Co-op when I felt a knock and realised that my nearside wing mirror had been pushed in. Obviously a coming together of my wing mirror with that of a parked car. The traffic made it impossible to stop so I drove on intending to pull into the school driveway.
But then I realised that I was being pursued by a gangly youth, soon joined by another youth, also gangly. The first of them ran in front of my car and stood there with hands on my car bonnet. Then he took a photo of my number plate before demanding that I get out. Which I did.
This first youth then ranted about damage to his vehicle and pointed to my still pushed in wing mirror as evidence of collateral damage to my vehicle. (With his erudite mate contributing ‘Yeah’.) So I walked round, pulled the mirror back into position, showed him that the glass was intact, and that what he insisted was ‘damage’ to the outer shell was just dead bugs. This deflated him somewhat.
Unkind words were then exchanged to the merriment of the growing crowd and we parted acrimoniously, with the first youth – the more loquacious of the two – aiming a kick at the rear of the Jacmobile as a parting shot.
Picture the scene, gentle reader: a man who never annoys anyone and who has always supported the tourism industry is accosted on a public thoroughfare by two young persons visiting from Englandland. Oh! the irony, the irony.
(Am I over-egging this?)
Anyway, as insurance, the incident was reported to North Wales Police soon after I got home. A young lady called at 2:09 from a withheld number, and assured me that someone would be in touch in a few days to take further details.
Then I settled down to watch Sunderland lose to Charlton in the last minute of injury time. No luck for these Black Cats.
All other matters aside – but still struggling with my cold – I turned my attentions to the elections, the results of which will be out tonight. Though not all the results from Scotland or Northern Ireland; due to Hebridean Sabbatarians and the complexity of the voting system over the water.
To get us warmed up for the main event Ifan Morgan Jones is doing his now customary routine on Nation.Cymru with his live election blog. Despite bigging up Plaid Cymru IMJ has to concede that both Lib Dems and Greens will do well.
Though other projections only serve to illustrate how lightly people take these EU elections. IWJ reports that Greens are expected to win 23% of the vote in Ireland, up from 1.2% last time. If true, then a jump like that can only attributed to a ‘What the hell? – these elections don’t really matter’ attitude.
I have a bottle of Malbec uncorked and I shall soon settle down for the results programme.
It’s now 1am and I’ve seen enough to tell me that this is an unreal election. I’m not saying that tonight’s results will not have lasting implications, but I am saying they will not be repeated in a ‘real’ election.
I shall conclude this marathon piece tomorrow with a more thorough analysis of the results in Wales and beyond. Perhaps even the Western Isles.
And anyway, there’s no rush. Today is a Bank Holiday, people will have other things to do, places to go. I shall now return to my Malbec.
But before rejoining that most glorious product of Argentina I must comment on this tweet I just picked up.
Why should a football fans’ group, supposedly appealing to fans of all political persuasions, takes sides politically? Do those running this Twitter account seriously believe that all Welsh football fans agree with their sentiments? This is the social media ‘echo chamber’ at its worst.
Are we supposed to believe that people who voted Brexit don’t sing Hen Wlad fy Nhadau? Don’t support the national football team? Aren’t proud to be Welsh?
Remainers are proving to be very divisive in Wales, and in areas where Brexit should not intrude, such as the movement for independence, and now – football!
To be continued . . .
Here are the headlines: The SNP increased its dominance in Scotland, but in Wales and England the clear winner was The Brexit Party, formed less than two months ago. The two ‘main parties’ got hammered everywhere.
If you regard Thursday’s vote as some kind of second referendum on Brexit, then a) you’re probably a Remainer, and b) you really should get a life.
Remainers are claiming victory because, they argue, parties backing a second referendum, or staying in the EU, ‘won’ what was really a party political election. In other words, we must regard Thursday’s vote as another referendum on Brexit! Or maybe a referendum about a referendum?
Which explains why turnout was higher in areas that voted Remain in 2016 than in areas that voted Leave. And this is why I would urge caution in interpreting Thursday’s result. Because if Remainers were more successful in getting their supporters out then that is not necessarily a good indicator of how a second referendum might pan out.
Something else worth remembering is that the turnout on Thursday was just 37.1% in Wales. The UK figure for the 2016 referendum was 72.2%. Which means that there are a lot of Brexit voters out there who gave the polling stations a miss on Thursday.
That’s because those who voted Leave in 2016, and with Brexit now on the horizon, felt no urgency to express their views. As in life, you’re more likely to make a fuss if you feel you’re being ignored, or if you’ve lost.
Now let’s look more closely at the result in Wales. And previous results.
As you read at the top, the winner by a mile was The Brexit Party. Greens and Liberal Democrats were both pleased with their performances. Even though they won the EU elections ten years ago on Thursday the Tories got less than half the Lib Dem vote and only just beat the Green Party of England.
This is obviously due to the disastrous premiership of Theresa May. Which means that with the right replacement the party should recover much of the ground lost.
While the Conservative share of the vote was down to just over a third of what was achieved in 2014, Labour did rather better in slipping from a poll topping 28.15% in 2014 to 15.3%.
But this defeat can also be attributed to the party leader, though unlike the Tories, Labour seems to be stuck with theirs. The nominal leader of Labour in Wales, a Matt Drakewell, responded to the result with uncharacteristic decisiveness and, perhaps even more surprising, he seemed to challenge Comrade Corbyn:
“Faced with the damage of a hard-line, Tory Brexit, Welsh Labour believes that the final decision must be made by the public in a referendum. And, for the avoidance of any doubt, a Welsh Labour government would campaign, in such a vote, for Wales to remain in the EU.”
No doubt that announcement will be welcomed in Corruption Bay, from where so much EU funding has been distributed to cronies, but it’s guaranteed to lose Labour tens of thousands of votes in the heartlands that should have seen that money.
Now let’s turn to Plaid Cymru.
Publicly, Plaid is claiming a great victory because, as leader Adam Price put it, “This result is an historic one for Plaid Cymru, beating Labour in a national election for the first time.” Except that . . .
Many in Plaid Cymru expected to get well above 20%; to be achieved by getting some of the votes that eventually went to the Greens and the Lib Dems. For as I said earlier, Plaid had been assiduously promoting itself as THE Remainer party in this election, but too many voters refused to buy it.
Yes, Plaid’s vote was an improvement on 2014, but ten percentage points below what the party achieved in 1999 under Dafydd Wigley. Then again, maybe Adam Price should be thankful Plaid didn’t do better, otherwise he might have found himself out of a job.
‘Progress’ for Plaid Cymru means ignoring the steps backwards and only remembering the forward steps trying to make up lost ground. Overall, taking the long view, there has been no progress at all for Plaid Cymru in twenty years. Or maybe ninety years.
With Labour tearing itself apart over Brexit Plaid Cymru has never had a better chance to win an election, but it still lost to a party less than two months old, with no manifesto, no policies, no nothing.
My cold is much improved. Nice of you to ask.
Brexit is not going away. It is set to haunt and bedevil the politics of these islands for many years to come.
Which might explain why Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, speaking in Dublin today, promised a second independence referendum in the second half of 2020. She wants out, and believes that enough Scots agree with her to deliver a Yes vote next year.
Plaid Cymru wants a second EU referendum, but what purpose would it serve? If it delivered a Remain victory then those who voted for Brexit in 2016 would argue that they have been cheated. If it reaffirms Brexit then Remainers will still not accept it.
While the SNP wants to leave this mess behind Plaid Cymru wants to get involved in an English civil war. That’s because for Plaid Cymru Brexit is now more important than independence. To the point where many Plaid Remainers regard those who voted for Brexit or the Brexit Party as some form of untermensch.
Here’s one Plaid supporter tonight calling the people of Blaenau Gwent ‘Morlocks‘! These are Welsh people being insulted by a Plaid Cymru supporter for holding different views to him – yet Plaid will soon be asking these people for their votes!
When did Plaid Cymru become such an extreme and intolerant Remain Party? And why has a ‘socialist’ party turned on the working class?
England is on the road to chaos, Brexit simply exposes older and deeper divisions, over class, the north-south divide, anger at London being so rich while former industrial areas are left to rot. This could get nasty.
Which is why I believe that the priority, now more than ever, must be independence. To maximise support for independence we need another political party to reach out to those that Plaid Cymru is not only unable to reach, but is now insulting and alienating.
Those who are not socialists, those who have reservations about the EU, those beyond the echo chambers and the incestuous networks of Corruption Bay. Those that so many in Brahmin left Plaid Cymru now regard as poor, stupid and inferior.
Fortunately we have such a party in Ein Gwlad. A party that will never be flattered or cajoled into lining up with those who don’t give a damn about Wales. A party that knows who Wales’s friends are, and can also identify her enemies.
And I can promise the people of Blaenau Gwent and other parts of Wales that Ein Gwlad will never call desperate Welsh people in abandoned communities ‘Morlocks’.
I’m telling you this in the hope of proving that what follows is both intellectually and on all other levels consistent with what I wrote three years ago. Consistency being in short supply in Welsh politics at the moment.
AS I WAS SAYING . . .
I explained in June 2016, with the six points reproduced below, why I believed Brexit could result in Welsh independence.
We shall lose the EU hand-outs and these will not be replaced by Westminster.
Leaving the EU will result in economic meltdown.
The City of London will be replaced as Europe’s No 1 financial centre.
Brexit is fundamentally English nationalism.
Post Brexit the UK will experience the most repressive and anglocentric government ever known.
Scotland will probably become independent.
Since writing that I have also come to believe that the Brexit shambles, and the possibility of a hard border in Ireland, could well result in a reunified Ireland.
I concluded my pre-referendum piece in June 2016 with, ‘If you care about Wales, and if you want to see Wales survive and prosper as a nation in her own right, then you must vote to leave the European Union as the precondition for leaving the United Kingdom’.
I wrote that because I hoped for the debacle we see now, the confusion of political parties imploding and new ones appearing out of nowhere, with the emergence of an intolerant English nationalism that tries to shout everybody else down. I also wanted economic collapse. Does that make me irresponsible? Maybe, but only in the short term.
After the referendum Plaid Cymru’s leadership should have sat down, held hands, and engaged in an honest discussion in the hope of figuring out why so many Welsh people had gone against its recommendation and voted to leave the EU.
Had they done so they might have realised that many Welsh voters were pissed off with falling standards in health, education, housing and so many other fields; and they were relatively poorer than they’d been ten or twenty years earlier, with their concerns ignored by politicians they felt to be ‘distant’ and out of touch.
So they allowed themselves to be seduced and they took their frustrations out on the EU by voting for Brexit.
An honest inquiry like that should have made Plaid Cymru realise that many Welsh people were pissed off enough to vote for Brexit because devolution had failed them due to the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party being less than useless.
But when presented with the ever-open goal of England’s management team in Cardiff Bay Plaid Cymru always prefers to put the ball over the bar.
Wales voting for Brexit was as much due to Labour’s and Plaid Cymru’s inadequacies as it was to London’s neglect, proven by the situation in Scotland. There the SNP took Labour on in a no-holds-barred struggle – and won. With the result that since the SNP took control in 2007 things have visibly improved across the board for most Scots, and this influenced their vote in the EU referendum.
For by 2016 not only was Scotland doing much better than Wales by every measurable criterion, but the SNP had successfully convinced a majority of Scots that any problems affecting them could be attributed to London, not Brussels.
Plaid Cymru’s failure to emulate the SNP’s success was due to the party spending almost two decades doing no more than a little light sparring with Labour prior to elections. The enemy was always ‘them wicked Tories, innit’, even when the Conservative Party was in opposition in Westminster!
A major reason Wales voted for Brexit in 2016 was Plaid Cymru’s failure to emulate the SNP. Worse, when not cwtching up to Labour the party was pushing a discredited ideology and obsessing over ‘niche issues’ rather than the everyday concerns of real Welsh people.
Plaid Cymru is now repeating past mistakes by linking up with groups like the Green Party that view Brexit, and Wales, through an Englandandwales prism. But it has no alternative because it failed to create a Welsh dimension for Brexit.
RED QUEEN TOPPLED, PAWNS FIGHT ON!
Since the overthrow of the Red Queen it appears that Plaid Cymru has, confusingly, moved further to the left! Not only that, but the party has reneged on its 2017 election promise to secure the best Brexit deal for Wales by recently coming out as a hard-line Remain party.
Both these trends were in evidence a week last Saturday at the All Under One Banner Cymru march in Cardiff. Not only was the event restricted to Plaid Cymru and its offshoots but there was as much if not more talk of socialism and EU membership than of Welsh independence.
One speaker, Sandra Clubb, of Undod – Plaid’s ‘independence-but-only-if-it-means-a-socialist-dystopia’ group – even called for a socialist feminist republic. I bet that would be jolly!
Sandra Clubb is the wife of Gareth Clubb, Plaid Cymru’s CEO.
Consider this: Plaid Cymru was never able to shake off the perception that it’s a party for Welsh speakers. This belief limited the party’s appeal and cost it the votes of otherwise well-disposed, Welsh-identifying anglophones.
Rather than learning from this difficulty Plaid Cymru is now further limiting its appeal by saying, ‘We are the party of independence – but also a socialist party wanting EU membership’. Thereby alienating non-socialists and those none too keen on the EU . . . in a country where the majority voted for Brexit!
This self-destructive positioning can only happen when there is a monumental misjudgement of the public mood brought about by echo-chamber ‘debates’. Social media does indeed have a lot to answer for.
As for the undoubted increase in support for independence, this is due to the same anger as influenced the Brexit vote – but with three more years of it! And there are more who feel this way.
With growing numbers of people increasingly pissed off it’s inevitable that some will look with fresh eyes at Welsh independence. But this has little or nothing to do with anything Plaid Cymru has done.
Yet we see Plaid Cymru trying to ride this wave, and even control it, by presenting itself as the only party offering independence. Which explains why Ein Gwlad was not even informed of the Cardiff march, let alone invited to participate.
One obvious manifestation of this mood has been YesCymru.
A GOOD IDEA BEING SUBVERTED?
I was so glad to see the emergence and growth of this new movement, bringing many new faces into the independence tent by avoiding ideologies and having no links with any political party – as is the case with All Under One Banner in Scotland. But it couldn’t last.
That’s because despite having made little or no contribution Plaid Cymru still wants to both capitalise on and control the growing mood for radical political change within Wales. While also being the local franchise for a UK-wide anti-Brexit movement of the woke and the ‘progressive’.
My understanding of YesCymru is that it’s a loose collective of independent local groups. But to counter centrifugal tendencies it has a Central Committee, and a Constitution. Towards the end of last year, first at an Annual General Meeting, and then at an Emergency General Meeting, both were changed to personnel and rules more attuned to the thinking of Plaid Cymru’s leadership.
To cover all the bases, in January, Plaid Cymru launched Undod, an outright socialist group, which as we’ve seen, is calling for a socialist feminist republic. Now some tell me I’m out of touch, so maybe there are tens of thousands marching for this feminist republic. If so, they have not marched past Château Jacques.
And although YesCymru maintains the pretence of being ‘a non-party political grassroots organisation’, this pretence is wearing a little thin. A couple of recent incidents will explain what I mean, in relation to both the EU and Plaid Cymru.
Last Wednesday, Nigel Farage visited Merthyr, and the local branch of YesCymru was out protesting. More than that, they blocked a road to stop people from attending the Brexit Party rally.
Then on Saturday, when Plaid Cymru was out leafleting in Chepstow, the local YesCymru crew turned up in support.
We’ve seen (in the passage of the Constitution I linked to above) that YesCymru claims to be ‘non-party political’, but what does the Constitution say about the EU?
What it says is (my highlighting):
That reference to ‘the wider European family’ could mean cousin Helmut in Düsseldorf, but I suspect it hints at something else.
If you’re going to write something as soppy and vacuous as what we see in the panel above then why not start with something along the lines of, ‘A new relationship based on mutual respect between the nations of these islands’ before moving on to Europe and the wider world?
Though in fairness, I must say that many YesCymru branches do remain ‘non-party political’, and also avoid the Brexit debate. Using a rule of thumb, the further a YesCymru branch is from the poisonous influences of Cardiff Bay the more likely it is to be true to YesCymru’s espoused principles of neutrality and focus on independence.
WAITING IN THE WINGS
As a student of history, I know that Welsh independence is more likely to emerge from political chaos and economic disaster than from the Tory party anchoring itself on the centre right, Farage’s new party imploding, ‘Welsh’ Labour and its third sector continuing to run Wales (down), the UK remaining in the EU, and Plaid Cymru . . . well, just being Plaid Cymru.
For these, or any combination of them, will keep Wales in the UK.
Which is why I have always believed that leaving the EU acrimoniously and using the resultant shitstorm to our advantage will be the best outcome for Wales in the long run. I say that because this election on Thursday isn’t really about the EU, or Brexit; it’s a preliminary skirmish for an impending conflict to determine who controls the UK.
In Scotland, the SNP is using the 2016 Remain vote to push for a second independence referendum that it might well win. Across the water, la revanche du berceau continues to undermine Unionist supremacy, with the possibility of more moderate non-Catholics preferring unification with a now secular and prosperous South to remaining in a poor, bigot-heavy statelet.
Quite possibly the Brexit Party will cobble together a manifesto and stand in the next general election – which might be called before the year is out – which means we might end up with a coalition of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage.
Of course, such a troika will need to reach out beyond England, but it already has allies north of the border and in the Six Counties in the form of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the DUP, Orange Lodges, Glasgow Rangers fans and assorted Loyalist gangs.
And they’re already on the streets. Saturday saw a little sabre-rattling in Glasgow.
There are dark forces waiting in the wings, using organisations and groups like those in the panel above. These shadowy elements are determined to gain power by one route or another. (And I’m not the only one who sees this.) Which is why nothing must distract us from the bigger picture and the best interests of our people.
Voting for the Brexit Party and encouraging their shadowy friends to show their hand is more likely to draw a response that results in Welsh independence than voting for Plaid Cymru in a meaningless election when the party’s long-term objective seems to be – wait for it! – a return to the status quo ante referendum!
Do you recall those halcyon days, boys and girls? When Wales was a land of milk and honey (or beer if you preferred); those talented and imaginative politicians in Cardiff Bay ruled wisely, making all corners of our land prosperous, and we all danced in the streets shouting, ‘Good old Carwyn, may he reign forever!’
Cos I must have missed it.
♦ end ♦
CLARIFICATION: From the many comments received to my Facebook page it seems that some people think I actually support the Brexit Party. Let me explain . . .
The Brexit Party and their shadowy friends are the means to an end. Socialists will understand this as ‘raising the revolutionary consciousness’ of the masses. Putting it bluntly, Dai Public is more likely to want independence after a kick in the nuts than yet another patronising pat on the head.
Call me cynical, call me an absolute bastard, but I’m a realist, and I know that just drifting along as we have done for 20 years – which is what Plaid Cymru wants – will get us nowhere.
It was neatly summed up in a letter in today’s Western Mail where someone concluded by saying that Brexit would result in “economic collapse and the breakup of the UK”.
Which is exactly what I’m saying. Short-term pain for long-term gain.
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
HOUSE OF THE RISING SON
In an earlier post of assorted items one dealt with the Labour Party in Cydweli. We looked at the party’s safe house in Llys Gwenllian, the abode of the current mayor, Phil Thompson, and – apparently – a number of others who’ve stood for the party in recent elections.
I asked if this was a house of multiple occupation seeing as it has also been given as his address by Arwyn Rhys Williams, a candidate in a recent town council by-election. Though now I learn that young Arwyn is the fruit of Thompson’s loins, but uses his mother’s name.
Despite the claimed address in Cydweli Arwyn’s Facebook page seems to locate him either in Swansea or Tenby. Maybe he should update it.
Something of which I wasn’t aware when I wrote my earlier piece was that when Arwyn’s dad stood for the county council in 2017 his proposer was a Lois Poynting. Who is, as we learn from her Linkedin profile (here in pdf format), one of those ‘butterflies’ that have blown into Wales to flit between the public and third sectors.
Lois probably arrived in Wales when her husband took up employment with Calsonic in Llanelli and seems to be based in Cydweli. (Ignore ‘Swansea’ on the Linkedin profile as Linkedin seems to locate everyone to the nearest city.)
That Linkedin profile also tells us that up to November 2017 Lois worked for Shared Lives Plus, an Englandandwales organisation with its headquarters in Liverpool.
Shared Lives Plus brings people with ‘difficulties’ – and this includes youngsters leaving care – into Wales to live with ‘carers’ who may also have moved from England. These new ‘families’ often live in housing association properties.
This is what Labour candidate Beryl-Ann Williams was alluding to in her election material when she talked of turning Cydweli into “an autism and dementia friendly town”. (But of course it goes beyond autism and dementia.)
This clear reference to the work of Lois Poynting and Shared Lives Plus also highlights again the strong and mutually-beneficial relationship between the Labour Party and the third sector.
A relationship that, on the personal level, has many times become sexual.
Though what I find odd about this Shared Lives Plus project across southern Wales (which then follows the M4 to the source of many of its clients) is the low key approach. I put that down to two things: one, a certain reluctance to inform the public; two, the project has all the money it needs.
Because in different circumstances the third sector is adept at using the media to publicise various causes and then exploiting that publicity to screw money out of the ‘Welsh Government’.
Here are a couple of examples.
VISIBILITY IS EVERYTHING
A few weeks ago Swansea Women’s Aid criticised a police crackdown on prostitution in the city. In fairness, Plod wasn’t dragging the girls off to the cells but offering support, a way out.
Yet it appeared from the criticism of the police action that Women’s Aid wanted the prostitutes out on the streets, in full public view.
And this is certainly the case with the homeless, who are blessed with dozens of organisations to exploit help them, using a fraction of the hundreds of millions of pounds these organisations receive from the ‘Welsh Government’.
In Cardiff, the city council has been trying to assuage public anger over the centre of the city having so many homeless people and beggars. These don’t just sit in doorways but live in tents they’ve been given by well-meaning but misguided charities and other groups.
A few weeks back the article below appeared in Llais y Sais. It tells that in the past three years 144 people have been given one-way tickets home from Cardiff. Some to eastern Europe, one to Bermuda. (Someone left Bermuda to live on the streets of Cardiff!)
This policy – entirely voluntary – clearly angered Shelter Cymru, one of the major players in the homeless racket. The extract below is a statement by Shelter Cymru taken from the article above.
Let me translate: ‘The pressure we in the homeless sector have brought to bear on the ‘Welsh Government’ has resulted in legislation ensuring that all those we can attract to Wales must be looked after. This system also results in us receiving tens of millions of pounds every year, at least 80% of which goes on salaries, pensions, new cars and jollies to conferences and the like’.
The homelessness debate has raged on. Just last week, former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood was persuaded by her friends at the Wallich – another major player in the homeless racket – to speak in the Assembly.
Is this venerable legislation really being enforced by our constabularies (perhaps with mutton-chop side-whiskers complementing stovepipe hats?). Well, actually, no. It looks as if the saintly Leanne was misinformed by the sisters-in-greed at the Wallich.
Proven by the information (above) received by a source in response to Freedom of Information requests to our four police forces. Of course, it could be that our police have developed a sudden fondness for this antediluvian legislation in the past few months, with this not being shown in the FoI responses, but I doubt it.
It’s just the third sector doing what it does best – exaggerating a problem, or importing it, or telling lies to keep the moolah flowing.
Homelessness made the news again on Monday when the BBC reported on a scheme from Finland called Housing First that is being introduced by the ‘Welsh Government’.
An interesting read with – I am informed – a number of important omissions.
One being that Derek ‘Del’ Clarke, quoted and pictured in the story, is a native of Dublin, in Ireland. He was offered a ticket home and a flat was guaranteed by Dublin City Council. He chose to stay on the streets of Cardiff. (One-way tickets is also how the Housing First scheme operates in Finland.)
Homelessness is an undoubted problem, an indictment of any society, but no one should be allowed to make an industry out of it, with hundreds of careers sustained by the public purse.
Yet that is exactly what has happened in Wales.
LOIS GOES WEST
We left Lois Poynting in Cydweli, arranging transfers of people with ‘issues’ into Wales, thereby increasing the burden on our NHS and other services. Now she’s working in Pembrokeshire, and doing very similar work.
If we turn again to her Linkedin profile we read . . .
So what can we learn about Futureworks and Rehab JobFit? There is only a skeletal website for the second of them, perhaps because there is no Rehab JobFit company as such, just a Limited Liability Partnership, that most dubious and opaque of set-ups. Another possibility might be that bad publicity has forced it to either pull out or change its name.
The three partners in the LLP are Interserve Service Futures Ltd of Reading, TGB Learning Ltd of Birmingham, and The Rehab Group, of Dublin. All are interlinked and may be based in Dublin for tax purposes. Strange that this should be allowed by the UK Government for which Rehab JobFit has done so much work.
Let’s now return to the Pembrokeshire County Council website; you should start with ‘Apprenticeships and Training‘ and keep turning the pages. What we read there seems innocuous enough – training youngsters, giving them skills, etc.
If that’s all it is/was, why does it have to involve a company based in England, or Ireland, with ‘Rehab’ in its name, which of course is short for rehabilitation? The suggestion made to me is that young tearaways are brought into Pembrokeshire (and Ceredigion) for ‘rehabilitation’. (Often their families are similarly relocated.)
And this may be what’s explained under ‘Background‘ where we read: ‘Community Task Force on behalf of Groundwork UK – services for young people (18-24 years) who have been unemployed 9 months or longer. Young people developed work related skills through community projects either in the third sector or in-house.’
So who are Groundwork UK, and how do they fit into the picture? And why is the Pembrokeshire council website referencing Groundwork UK when we have Groundwork Wales? In fact, we have a Groundwork Wales and a Groundwork North Wales!
The Charity Commission provides the information in the panel below. Note that Groundwork Wales operates ‘throughout Wales’, but Groundwork North Wales operates ‘throughout England and Wales’. How do we explain this?
Is it the old story of northern Wales being treated as an extension of north west England? And might this cross-border activity explain what is clearly a reference to rehabilitation in the panel above where we read of people changing ‘their own lives for the better’.
This is a relationship that should have been brought to an end by devolution, but if anything, devolution has made it worse. Perhaps because we’ve had twenty years of a Labour government in Cardiff so desperate not to be perceived as ‘nationalist’ that it encourages England to walk all over us. And then dresses up this cowardice as Wales being ‘welcoming’.
Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe there’s some other explanation as to why Groundwork North Wales, covering just a third of the country, has much more money than Groundwork Wales. There may also be a simple explanation for why it operates ‘throughout England and Wales‘.
Perhaps doubling up as ‘Supply Chain Manager – S Wales’.
Poynting and Owens seem to be ships that passed in the night.
With Rehab JobFit, Futureworks, Work Programme, Groundwork and the rest we are in the netherworld where UK Government programmes and private probation companies link with community work orders handed down by local courts to allow more serious offenders – from ‘away’ – to be slipped into the system.
Where the murk also helps obscure individuals moving between the public, the private, and the third sectors, but often doing very similar work. For example, before Lois Poynting was putting up the Welcome signs in Cydweli for Shared Lives Plus she worked for (takes deep breath) Mid and West Wales Health & Social Care Regional Collaborative (MWWHACRC).
This outfit has no online presence of its own, it just crops up in assorted references. Though I was directed to this document which has Lois Poynting signing, on behalf of MWWHACRC, a deal for services to be provided by Capita, one of the UK Government’s favourite ‘delivery agencies’.
(Though Capita’s record is so abysmal that it appears regularly in Private Eye as ‘Crapita’.)
The document to which I’ve linked appears to show a Welsh health agency outsourcing to a private company. Is this the privatisation of Nye Bevan’s National Health Service so dreaded by the bruvvers? Do they even know?
But then, what exactly is the Mid and West Wales Health & Social Care Regional Collaborative? Is it third sector? Is it private sector? Is it part of the Wales NHS? To whom is it answerable?
Answers on the usual dog-eared postcard, please.
UPDATE 17.05.2019: If we look at Gill Owens’ Linkedin Profile we see that she gives her primary occupation as ‘Property Developer and investor at St Michaels Property Development & Investments Ltd’, of Ystrad Mynach.
Yet Companies House tells us that this company has not filed accounts since May 2018 (up to 31.08.2017) and they were for a dormant company with an address in Kent. From the same source we learn that three charges have been taken out in March 2018 and January 2019 for two properties in Leigh, near Wigan.
THE MONSTER IN OUR MIDST
I’ve studied the operations of the third sector for a number of years, and certain things have become clear.
A fundamental problem is that too many ‘Welsh’ third sector bodies do not limit themselves to Welsh needs or interests because by importing many of their clients they can expand their operation thereby boosting their funding and salaries.
This constant importation of clients both distorts the picture for Wales and also means that no problem is ever adequately dealt with because to do so would put many people out of a job.
Third sector operators get away with this deceit because they are shrewd and devious, able to run rings around our politicians at both Assembly and council level.
Third sector operators like to present themselves as principled and moral, but when push comes to shove, and if there’s money to be made, or personal advancement to be secured, they’ll sup with the devil.
All of which results in Wales being burdened with a monster that must be constantly fed in order to sustain thousands of unnecessary jobs sucking up an ever greater proportion of the Welsh public purse.
This monster dictates that the homeless and prostitutes must be left on the streets for all to see; with drug addicts and delinquents perceived as business assets.
The third sector’s most significant contribution to Wales is to make a poor country poorer. How much longer do we tolerate this exploitation?
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
TURNING THE TAPS ON A BIT MORE
Wales has just experienced another Bank Holiday. Even so, I hadn’t intended writing anything relating to it until I read this piece on the BBC Wales website in which Elfyn Jones of the British Mountaineering Council argued for ‘investment’.
According to Elfyn: “It’s great to see tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people enjoying the Welsh countryside – but how can we cope and deal with so many people? . . . Footpaths are being eroded, car parks are overflowing and we don’t have enough facilities for litter or toilets . . . “We need to invest in our infrastructure if we are to maintain this growth in people coming here . . . “It’s also absolute chaos for the locals trying to live amongst it.”
Elfyn sounds a bit confused. Is it really “great” to see hundreds of thousands of people swarming over the Welsh countryside, especially when so many are concentrated in certain locations?
Though in his favour, Elfyn Jones admits that footpaths are being eroded, that there are many other problems, yet rather than promote the obvious remedy – a reduction in tourist numbers – he insists we must accept and cater for the increase.
This is insane, especially as he admits that locals are suffering from the problems brought by the current numbers. For God’s sake, Elfyn, if your bathroom was flooded you wouldn’t turn the taps on a bit more, would you!
As we’ve seen, Elfyn Jones was speaking on behalf of the British Mountaineering Council, an organisation to be found nestling among the intimidating peaks of . . . West Didsbury, in Manchester.
Naturally, I went to the BMC website, and below you’ll a screen capture from that site. I was immediately struck by there being no mention of Scotland, where I’m told there are quite a few mountains.
The absence of the Munros is due to the fact that the ‘British’ Mountaineering Council, like the Green Party, and the Planning Inspectorate, and countless other bodies we have to live with, covers only England and Wales.
Having established that the use of the term ‘Britain’ is misleading I was surprised to read elsewhere on the website that the BMC has a ‘National Council’. How can there be a National Council when there are two countries involved that do not together form a political unit?
Perhaps the answer is that there may be two countries making up the BMC but – with the exceptions of Elfyn Jones and chairman Gareth Pierce – the hierarchy and the membership comes from just one nation.
This is more than mere semantics, for it betrays the BMC as an Englandandwales body. Or to put it another way, English climbers and Welsh mountains. Just more ‘Playground Wales’.
The truth is that we already have too many visitors to Yr Wyddfa, Pen y Fan and other sites. Anyone arguing that bigger car parks and more toilets is the answer either doesn’t understand the problem or else is trying to avoid it.
And this problem I’m referring to is not confined to Wales, it is global: any place attracting large numbers of visitors will pay the price in noise, disruption, strain on local services, traffic gridlock, environmental degradation and cultural erosion.
Even Mount Everest is suffering.
The ‘British’ Mountaineering Council reminds us of the colonial relationship between Wales and England and it also leads on to the wider problem, which is tourism in general, and tourism’s effects on Wales.
Last word: Maybe Elfyn Jones and Gareth Pierce should consider their positions as token Taffs in this English organisation. Why not form a Welsh mountaineering group? Why not reclaim Plas y Brenin? Also ‘Mount Snowdon’?
The subject I’m writing about is of course referred to by journalists and politicians as ‘Welsh tourism’. But to regard it as Welsh in any sense other than the locational would be a mistake.
The companies that own the major tourism enterprises in Wales are almost all owned by outsiders. The same applies to smaller businesses like hotels, pubs, restaurants and shops. This is especially so in those areas and communities that nowadays have no raison d’être other than ‘tourist destination’.
Think about that. You’ve lived in your town or village all your life, it’s where you ran around with your mates when you were young, you met a girl and got married, had children, but to some hack writing in a magazine nobody reads except in a dentist’s waiting room, the place you call home is just a tourist destination.
But it makes sense, because tourism seeks to lessen the claim of indigenes to a city, a region, or a country; and then, in the interests of those who pay hacks to write about ‘tourism destinations’, pretend these places ‘belong to everybody’, and exist solely ‘to be enjoyed’.
So if we Welsh don’t own the businesses making the money, what benefits do we see from tourism? Well of course there’s jobs.
The most recent figures available with StatsWales are for 2015 (don’t ask me why there are none more recent). And they claim that in that year tourism-related industries provided 131,300 jobs. Though I’ve always been concerned about that term ‘tourist-related’, suspecting that it’s somewhat ‘elastic’.
This elasticity might explain why ‘tourism-related industries’ provided 5,700 jobs in Rhondda Cynon Taf but only 4,600 in Denbighshire, despite the northern county having the coastal resorts of Rhyl and Prestatyn plus a number of inland hot spots, the most notable of which would probably be Llangollen, home to the International Musical Eisteddfod. (In which I competed one year.)
I’m not sure what fun spots lie hidden within the borders of Rhondda Cynon Taf to compete with Denbighshire’s attractions.
Maybe the job numbers for RCT are exaggerated, with ‘tourism-related’ giving the game away. Whatever the answer, jobs in tourism are nothing to brag about, tending to be low skill, low pay and seasonal.
Tourism certainly doesn’t provide the kind of employment that enables people to buy a home; certainly not in those areas where property prices are inflated by tourists buying holiday homes, and moving in, or retiring. No local employee in tourism could buy a home in Abersoch, Rhosneigr, Aberdyfi or ‘Sand Banks‘.
Moving on . . .
You’d think that so few positives would be reason enough to discourage saturation tourism, and the picture gets even bleaker when we consider the negatives. One of the downsides would be traffic congestion, resulting in many areas being so overwhelmed with tourists that the quality of life for locals is seriously impaired.
Another consequence of tourism is that many operators drop Welsh names in favour of English. There are so many examples that I can’t list them all, but Happy Donkey Hill is one I’ve written about, then there’s Stallion Valley, not forgetting Wynnborn, and more recently, Slate Mountain.
This is a result of having an English tourism industry in Wales that – despite the desperate marketing of Visit Wales – wants its customers to think they’re in a part of England with nicer scenery, cleaner beaches, higher mountains, etc – so do away with names that when spoken sound as if someone is bringing up phlegm.
Another issue guaranteed to raise emotions is holiday homes. Though I recall (Ifan) Prys Edwards, when he was chairman of the old Wales Tourist Board, and probably during the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign, appearing on television and proclaiming that holiday homes had nothing to do with tourism!
I forget which programme it was, and I can’t recall the ‘interviewer’, but I remember being amazed, and angry, that Edwards was allowed to get away with such a statement. The ‘Welsh media’, eh!
About three years ago, Cyngor Gwynedd was considering raising council tax on holiday homes, leading to a debate in the Cambrian News. Some of the comments from the defenders of holiday homes, and tourism generally, were not only absurd, they were insulting.
Here’s a taste:
“Holiday homes put a lot of money into the local economy”. Response: More than would be put into the local economy if a holiday home was lived in 52 weeks of the year?
“I do worry about a return to the burning of holiday homes by Nationalist extremists”. Response: what special kind of idiot believes that tackling the issue of holiday homes, and reducing their numbers, would result in another arson campaign?
(Increasing council tax on holiday homes) “borders on racism”. Response: There is no sensible or reasonable argument against holiday homes not paying extra council tax, and anyone who has to resort to ‘racism’ is only confirming that.
” . . . coastal towns and villages came into being because of tourism in Victorian times”. Response: This is classic colonialism – ‘They had nothing before we arrived’. In fact, the population of Merioneth was higher in 1841, before the first train arrived, than in 2011, after almost a century and a half of tourism. It’s worth remembering that ‘resorts’ like Barmouth, Aberdyfi and Porthmadog were busy ports and shipbuilding centres in the 19th century.
The arsehole who contributed that last comment, Andrew Currie, lives just up the road from me. In addition to being an arrogant colonialist he’s also a Green. We don’t talk.
To conclude, ‘Welsh’ tourism was never intended to benefit Wales, or the Welsh. We suffer saturation tourism today for three reasons:
CULTURAL: Tourism Anglicises Wales, partly through the regular invasions, but more insidiously through the population movement it encourages. (Though I’m sure Prys Edwards would argue differently.)
ECONOMIC: Tourism serves England economically because money spent by English tourists in Wales will make its way back to England by one route or another. Unlike money spent abroad.
POLITICAL: Tourism encourages a dependency mindset by encouraging us to believe that we’d all starve without English tourists . . . who would still be welcome in an independent Wales that could legislate on numbers and keep the money they’d spend in the country.
THE ‘WELSH GOVERNMENT’
The attitude of the ‘Welsh Government’ is dictated by the tourism industry itself, and can be spelled out as, ‘There’s no such thing as too many tourists (go and wash your mouth out!)’. Wales would need to be gridlocked for a few days, with communities cut off and resorting to cannibalism before anyone in the tourist industry admitted, ‘Well, maybe we do need to manage things a bit better’.
If they won’t reduce numbers then the complacent clowns down Corruption Bay could introduce a tourism tax, so that money raised in the worst affected areas was used to compensate the indigenous population in some way. But no, they listen to the advice of those running the ‘Welsh’ tourism industry, greedy and insensitive bastards who should not be allowed within half a mile of a golden goose.
The sad fact is that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ is more than happy to see scenes like this inflicted regularly on our precious and fragile landscape.
And yet, these politicians I refer to recently made a climate emergency declaration. The same twats who – after promising they wouldn’t – gave over large areas on the outskirts of Cardiff to English house building companies, firms that will bank their profits and leave the mess behind for us sort out. Labour will also cave in and allow the redevelopment of the M4, because it’s what London wants, not what Wales needs.
Even before the climate emergency declaration the ‘Welsh’ Government introduced legislation like the One Planet con and The Well-being of Future Generation Act, all designed – we were told – to bring Wales into closer harmony with Nature and reduce our carbon footprint. But not if it means upsetting the strangers who exploit and despoil our country, who change our ancient names and regard us as some inferior species to be elbowed aside.
When it come to saving the planet, the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government says the right things but is betrayed time after time by its actions in some areas and its lack of action in others. But then, that’s the deceitful, gimmicky shites they are.
All piss and wind, and ever obedient to England’s wishes.
You’ll have noticed that in my playful way I just referred to them as a ‘gang’, but they couldn’t really be a gang because one of them is an an ex-copper, who seems to have bought ‘a place in Wales’ and then got a transfer for the final few years of his service.
In fact, many police officers get pre-retirement transfers to Dyfed Powys and North Wales. To which we can add others who get transfers because they can’t cope with the pressure in England’s towns and cities.
And this phenomenon is not confined to the police service, it’s widespread with cross-border employers, Royal Mail would be another example. I wonder how many jobs we Welsh lose due to transferees filling vacancies in scenically attractive parts of the country?
But I digress, let us hie back to Talyllychau.
WHO ARE THEY AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
In the hope of learning more about Talley Community Amenity Association I turned to documents filed with Companies House. The company was Incorporated 18 July 2002 and gives as its business, ‘Support services to forestry’. The TCAA also registered as a charity – number 1097539 – 15 May 2003, where its ‘Activities’ are listed as ‘Management of local woodland’.
Clearly, TCAA is interested in woodland around Talyllychau, partly explained in a piece by one of the company’s original directors, Stephen Upson. This document also makes clear that TCAA existed in some unspecified form before it became a company and a charity, and that it was in discussions with both Forestry Commission Wales and the Welsh Development Agency to acquire local woodland as a community amenity. (This map might help you better understand the area. The village proper is just visible on the far right centre.)
These negotiations probably explain the need to become registered, for in the first ‘Financial statement’, for 2003, we see that the money is rolling in, and there is now £81,733 in the pot, but no mention of whence it came. Though I couldn’t help noticing that these accounts were prepared by ‘Gray & Associates, Accountancy Services, Talley House, Talley’. This is presumably the Sarah Ellen Gray who became a director of the company on 12 September 2005.
Isn’t this cosy!
The balance sheet for year ending 31 July 2004 shows fixed assets of £64,999, explained as ‘Land sold to the Association by WDA repayable 9 May 2029’. Elsewhere on this filing we read of ‘grant funding’ of £112,021, but again, no clue as to the source of this moolah. But don’t worry, because ‘Grant work completed’ amounts to £111,748, leaving just £273 for tea bags, sugar and biccies.
These second ‘accounts’ – and I use that term loosely – give no indication as to who prepared them, who audited them, who the company’s solicitors are, or its bankers. Talley Community Amenity Association seems to be using every loophole in the Companies Act to give out the bare minimum of information.
I mean, if the land was returned to the ‘Welsh Government’, or the Notional Assembly, then surely the charge held by the WDA would have been satisfied. Or if the happy band at ‘Talley’ had been paid £65,000 – as the title document suggests – then they would have used that money to pay off the WDA, wouldn’t they?
Yet the charge remains and there is no sign of any income – or little activity of any kind – in the accounts after 2008. The Talley Community Amenity Association has just been ticking over with a few thousand in the bank gaining interest.
Am I missing something in the Plas farm land transfers and sales? Or is something being omitted from the minimalist documents submitted to Companies House?
THE CAVALRY ARRIVES – IT’S BOOTS AND SADDLES!
A recent addition to the ‘Talley belongs to us’ crew is Angela Gail Hastilow, who seems to have arrived in 2012, along with husband Ian, from West Sussex. The Hastilows are saddle-makers. The firm seems to be still based in England, for the website tells us ‘Angie runs the office from Wales’.
I’d like to refer you now to a document filed with Companies House 27 July 2018 telling us that Angela Gail Hastilow replaced Peter Graham Knott as a ‘person with significant control’ (PSC), which usually means the person running the show.
Let me quote Companies House, which words it thus: ‘A person with significant control (PSC) is someone who owns or controls your company. They’re sometimes called ‘beneficial owners’.’
What is also strange is that this occurred on the same day as Mrs Hastilow became a director. I’m sure there’s no legislation forbidding someone joining a company and becoming the PSC on the same day, but it’s unusual.
The only times I’ve come across it is when someone buys out a company. But Talley Community Amenity Association is not that kind of company; for example, it has no shares to be bought or transferred, so it’s difficult to see how anyone could take it over. Or why it would be allowed.
Yet that’s what Angela Hastilow appears to have done. Not only is she now PSC but the company’s registered office has moved to her house in Talyllychau. And it’s the same with the TCAA charity. Hers is the address and she is the contact for the charity. It appears to be a clean sweep.
This takeover throws up another conundrum. I’ve told you that Hastilow became a director and the person with significant control on 27 July 2018, and yet there is another document filed with Companies House that suggests otherwise.
According to this other form, Hastilow became a/the person with significant control 02 September 2017 . . . before she even became a director!
Of course, it may be a genuine mistake. But if Angela Hastilow did really take the reins in September 2017 how was this achieved without her having any declared links with TCAA?
This anomaly has been reported to Companies House.
And now Talley Community Amenity Association is lined up for £522,653 of our money; and it also looks as if they’re going to be gifted – or at least given control over – 800 hectares of prime Welsh land. That is, land we own.
Yet who can blame them for this very human acquisitiveness, for Talyllychau is an idyllic location. Its has lakes, a ruined abbey, and is reasonably close to the M4; all features that make it very attractive to well-heeled English folk.
And the area around Talyllychau has great tourism potential.
Despite all the talk of ‘biodiversity’ and ‘community benefits’ it is being suggested to me that more mercenary motives may be at work. So before money or land is given to Talley Community Amenity Association certain things need to be established:
Why are the TCAA accounts so rudimentary and uninformative?
Where did the £81,733 come from that appears in the 2003 accounts?
What is the source of the ‘grant funding’ of £112,021 shown in the 2004 accounts?
For what was this grant funding given and was its spending monitored?
If the TCAA was paid £65,000 in 2007 for the Plas farm land why didn’t it use that money to clear the WDA debt?
And if TCAA was paid £65,000 then what happened to the money?
If the TCAA was not paid £65,000 then by what route did the ‘National Assembly for Wales’ gain the land?
How was it possible for Mrs Angela Gail Hastilow to become the ‘person with significant control’ of TCAA before she’d even become a director?
Does Mrs Angela Gail Hastilow now control TCAA?
If so, how did this come about?
What are the terms under which the 800 hectares mentioned in the newspaper report will be made available to TCAA?
Will the 800 hectares remain in public ownership if this project goes ahead?
Will the directors and trustees of TCAA be allowed to use the land to further their own business interests?
If this project proceeds will the ‘Welsh Government’ require TCAA to produce full and independently audited annual accounts available for public scrutiny?
How representative of the wider community is TCAA?
Why is there so little Welsh involvement in TCAA?
BOTTOM LINE: Why is the ‘Welsh Government’ paying wealthy outsiders to take over publicly-owned Welsh land that they will almost certainly use to make money for themselves?
PART OF A PATTERN
Returning to the article that appeared last week in the South Wales Guardian we read that the scheme delivering the loot and the land is ‘the Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS)’, administered by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme’.
Despite the order coming from London, via its Wales-based civil servants, ‘Welsh’ Labour enthusiastically endorsed this diktat and justified the decision by waffling about ‘biodiversity’, ‘sustainability’, ‘parsnip trees’, etc.
Resistance encouraged by those with designs on our country over-reaching themselves with their Summit to Sea extravaganza, a vast project that has George Monbiot and his playmates hoping to take over 10,000 hectares of land (and even more of sea!)
The Rewilding Britain website tells us that its partner in Summit to Sea is the Woodland Trust. To understand the quintessentially colonialist nature of this project listen to Natalie Buttriss, the Woodland Trust’s Director of Wales, speaking about the project on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’ programme.
Or watch Rebecca Wrigley, Director of Rewilding Britain.
The attitude of these latter-day memsahibs is clear – ‘If the locals don’t like our plans then they can jolly well fuck off’. (From their own country.)
The truth must be faced that we have reached a stage where things done in the name of ‘Wales’ that are antithetical to the interests of the Welsh. Which in turn reveals, among other things, that devolution is nothing more than a confidence trick that allows our masters to filter their colonialist ambitions through their local management team.
This ‘Welsh Government’ is only too willing to comply because ‘Welsh’ Labour hates country people, and especially indigenous country people; with hairy-arsed, Welsh-speaking rustics being the favoured targets down at the Lord Tonypandy Memorial Firing Range. (Garters optional.)
And because it’s a party of very woke and posturing planet-savers Plaid Cymru will support Monbiot and his memsahibs against Welsh farmers and the interest of the nation.
Everywhere we look we see Welsh people being elbowed out of attractive localities like Talyllychau. And as locals are squeezed out they are replaced by white flighters and good-lifers, grant grabbers, retirees and the human detritus of urban England. (This last category brought in by our housing associations.)
With these incomers funded with hundreds of millions of pounds that for some reason was never available for locals.
As we approach the third decade of the twenty-first century there’s a welcome in the hillsides for just about anybody . . . except us. Last year I reminded you of the term coined by Martiniquais poet and political activist Aimé Césaire to describe this phenomenon, it was ‘genocide by substitution’.
This is exactly what we see happening in Wales today – a deliberate and systematic strategy of replacing one people with another. A bloodless form of ethnic cleansing.
Seeing as it’s Easter this weekend don’t expect a posting on Monday. And as I’m sure you all know, a week later our friends in the Orthodox churches will be celebrating their Easter (according to the Julian Calendar).
So I might have two Easters and not post anything until May 6.
If anybody wants to send me a Fabergé egg, or two, then feel free.
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
Here are the updates and the like that I mentioned in the introduction to my previous post on Dawnus, and that I would have given you earlier had it not been for fresh news on Dawnus.
It’s quite a bundle, almost 4,000 words, but broken up for you – as advertisements for pet food are wont to say – into bite-sized chunks. Enjoy!
Forgive me if I get a little nostalgic, perhaps emotional, but I spent two years at Coleg Harlech, two wonderful years; I even managed to fit in the odd lecture. But a lot of time was spent in the Castle Hotel, or the Queens, or the Red Lion, or the St. David’s, where I sank many a ‘sundowner’ while enjoying the view of the golf course and the sea. (Though I detest golf and golfists.)
Yes, many’s the night I spent in the Dai’s getting legless with Dafydd El, holding him back from some impulsive patriotic act that might have jeopardised his career. As Mary Hopkin sang, those were the days. Not that I personally wanted to spend every waking hour in licensed premises, you understand, but I fell in with bad company.
Of course, the pubs were shut on Sunday back then but that’s when we – usually me and Dai Williams, ‘the Beast of Bedwas’, best man at my wedding – used to have some of our most memorable sessions, up in the Castle Hotel run by Ron Hopkins, originally from Aberdâr.
I recall being in the Castle just before the final Sunday Opening vote. Hopkins of course was in favour of opening, and he was arguing with a very left-wing lecturer from the Coleg, an Englishman who intended voting to keep the pubs shut because he believed – correctly – that’s what most locals wanted.
Now Ron had had a few pints that night down the Ship Aground in Talsarnau (another of Ron’s wife’s family’s pubs), and he’d rolled into the Castle well lubricated. Then the argument started. Because this lecturer was a ‘communist’ and in favour of Sunday closing Ron had somehow linked the two to persuade himself that keeping pubs shut on Sunday was a communist conspiracy.
I just leaned on the bar marvelling. Imagining the grizzled old men of the Politburo in Moscow sitting down and saying, ‘Now then, Comrades, the next step in destabilising the West is keeping the pubs shut on Sunday in Merioneth’.
It was one of those insane discussions that take place in Welsh pubs when those participating are opinionated drunks. (I speak as an observer, you understand.)
God bless you, Ron. God bless you, Dai. Thanks for the memories.
Not far from what was the Castle Hotel we encounter the St David’s Hotel, which has lain empty for over a decade. It’s owned by a company based in Gibraltar that probably had no intention of renovating the place, unless someone else was paying. Even then, perhaps, it wouldn’t have been restored, for who knows – like so many such properties in Wales – maybe it was making money just by standing empty.
The hotel is just up the road from the Coleg, which also fell on hard times, was then closed, and finally put up for sale. Now we learn that the Coleg has also been sold, though to someone based rather nearer to Harlech than Gibraltar.
Is he fibbing, or is he one of those wealthy men who buys things on impulse then figures out what to do with them?
Anyway, off I went a-digging. Irvine, or Banks-Irvine, had a company called Anglo-Euro Trade Ltd, originally based in southern England that moved to Talybont (near Bermo), in April 2004, presumably when the man himself moved. It’s stated business, ‘Distilling, rectifying and blending of spirits’. (Not more bloody ‘craft gin’?)
I’m using the past tense because Anglo-Euro Trade Ltd was dissolved in May 2017. From the accounts I’ve looked at it never made enough in any one year to pay for the cat food. But there you go, maybe he didn’t have a cat.
Though a new company was launched 28 January. Apart from the authoritative tones of the man himself the only other voice we hear in the cavernous boardroom of LBI (Wern Fawr) Ltd is that of Tessa Jane Beverly.
The company’s business is, ‘Development of building projects’. Which would suggest that LBI has been set up to carry through whatever plans the eponymous Leslie Banks Irvine has for my alma mater.
And what might those plans be?
Well . . . something I turned up on the Cyngor Gwynedd planning portal might give a clue. Last year Leslie Banks Irvine applied for a change of use for Fairbourne church hall. The application said he wanted to use it to store his – or someone’s – ‘collection of classic motor cars’. The application was refused.
Has this plan now moved up the coast to Harlech?
Of course I have no way of knowing what the plans are for the Coleg, the auditorium and the other buildings, but if I lived in or near Harlech I would be asking Leslie Banks Irvine, and not accepting ‘dunno’ for an answer.
But wherever we live in Wales we should be concerned that another historic and iconic site has been sold off by a public body, to a virtual stranger, probably at a knock-down price, and for an undisclosed purpose.
And there’s a good chance he’s hoping for public funding.
SAVING THE PLANET BY EXPLOITING WALES
Talking of knock-down prices, how about fives acres for £1? Yes, that is five acres of good Welsh land for just 100 pence. For that’s the deal done by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ for Parc Teifi in Cardigan with a bunch of eco-shysters environmentalists.
The leader of this lucky band, one Alpay Torgut, believes the deal was done because, “The Welsh Government was impressed with our work and achievements over the last ten years, in creating and successfully running our previous community forest garden and the Cardigan Eco shop”.
The previous ‘community forest gardens’ were in England and Llandudoch. For it should go without saying that Alpay Torgut is not from aroun’ by ‘ere. He is another who has realised that everything is greener on this side of the Dyke, especially the politicians and the funders.
He mentions the Cardigan Eco Shop “which has been going for nine years now”. Maybe, but the company Naturewise Eco Shop CIC was only Incorporated in January this year, and probably only done to enable Alpay and his gang to qualify for the goodies. Just more box-ticking.
Upon seeing the photo above I mumbled the appropriate incantations and an apparition appeared, who spake in this wise: “Jac!”, it intoned, “Jac!” (repeating itself), “I have the gift of seeing into the future, mush, and I tell you now, this will soon be a commune. And lo! retrospective planning permission will be granted, and many shekels will be shoved the way of these con artists. Mark my words, son!”
And then, with a drawn out wail, the apparition departed.
The commune foretold – and other examples of encouraged colonisation – will be justified by England’s management team in Cardiff docks as ‘reducing Wales’s carbon footprint’.
I’m still waiting for an explanation as to how we reduce our carbon footprint by, a) encouraging people to move into Wales and then, b) letting them exploit land that had previously been causing Mother Earth no problems whatsoever.
UPDATE 17.04.2019: I have now written to the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ asking for my five acres.
The reason I mention this crew at all is because one of them is boasting that our former First Minister, Labour’s Carwyn Jones, has promised to help them secure a licence to grow hemp (cannabis) and that a big pharmaceutical company may be involved. For not only is it now legal to grow cannabis, but from last November doctors can prescribe cannabis products.
The word on the street is that there will be no benefit to Wales because the licence will be used to grow pot that will then be transported to England, where it will be processed and where it will provide jobs.
It may even be possible to use the licence in England. Wales and the ever-obliging Carwyn Jones may simply be used to get the necessary authorisation.
If anyone has more information, then please get in touch.
TARDIS IN CYDWELI!
A curious story reaches me from that source of many a strange tale, Cydweli.
You may recall that the town council’s Mynydd-y-Garreg ward saw a by-election in February won by Labour’s Beryl-Ann Williams, an art psychotherapist, our Beryl-Ann. Now there’s another by-election in the same ward and the Labour candidate this time is Arwyn Rhys Williams.
From the form below you’ll see that young Arwyn gives his address as 27 Llys Gwenllian, an unprepossessing property built by Grwp Gwalia, now merged into the Pobl group. (You might remember that it was Gwalia that housed the gang of London paedophiles.)
Also resident in this property is councillor Philip Thompson, who’s a lawyer, and a QC, yet somehow qualifies for social housing . . . but then, he is Labour, and being a party activist puts you at the top of the waiting list with most housing associations.
Others who have given this as their address in recent years are Siôn Davies, who was Labour candidate for Llangyndeyrn, and Lisa Williams who stood for the party in Trimsaran. I’m told there have been others.
So is this a house of multiple occupation, and if so, is it registered as such? If it’s not a HMO then what’s going on? Could it be that Labour candidates are afraid to tell us where they really live?
Getting back to young Arwyn for a minute, something I found on his Facebook page would not have me queuing outside the polling booth at 7am in the pissing rain to vote for him.
But then, in fairness to the boy, those attributes could apply to so many Labour politicians. His political future is assured!
UPDATE 17.04.2019: I’m now being told that Arwyn Rhys Williams is the son of Cydweli mayor Philip Thompson. He uses his mother’s name of Williams.
So if he is now living with his dad then Arwyn needs to update his Facebook profile, which locates him either in Swansea or Tenby. Alternatively, if the FB information is true, then maybe he’s just living at the Cydweli address until the election is over.
It also suggests he’s still in school. He is 18, is he?
I hope I whetted your appetite in the previous post with my promise of updates on the whereabouts of some of those I’ve written about in the not too distant past.
To set the scene . . . a few years back the Labour Party on Swansea council relied heavily on councillors who were no more than students. They knew nothing about my wonderful city and were just making up the numbers for council leader David ‘Il Duce’ Phillips, another stranger to ‘the ugly lovely town’.
One by one they disappeared. California girl Pearleen Sangha went to Cardiff to work as a regional organiser for ‘Welsh’ Labour. In other words, she left a city she didn’t know in order to ‘organise’ a region she knew even less about.
Then she went home to the States to work for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. She was based in the Carolinas, which might have been as alien to her as Swansea. Perhaps she had some interesting encounters with good ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye . . . and voting Trump.
After a stint back in her home state, working for Mayor Sam Liccardo of San José, she has now returned to these shores as a fully-fledged ‘political consultant’. All set out here in her Linkedin profile.
Then there was John ‘John Boy’ Bayliss, a native of Eastbourne. I understand John is currently working as a press officer for Home Secretary Sajid Javid and LGBT adviser to the Conservative Party. So it could be that John Boy has deserted the bruvvers.
In the collage below you’ll see John Boy luxuriating in the adoration of his canvassers. They too look as if they’ve been recruited from the university.
On the left of the collage you’ll see a bizarre shot of Il Duce in mayoral robes at the foot of the Mansion House stairs, with his eyes shut, and his loyal band behind him. Nothing wrong with a shot like that, when it’s the Kennedy clan on a wide and elegant staircase at Hyannisport . . . but not with that gormless crew bunched up fighting for air.
On the great man’s right hand is his consort Sybil Crouch, another Labour councillor who thought Mumbles was a speech impediment until she washed up in Swansea. Interestingly, Crouch worked at the university.
In the trio on the top right we see, on the left, Nick Bradley, loyal West Bromwich Albion supporter who was given the brief of the Liberty Stadium, the Swans’ home, presumably because somebody thought he might know something about football.
In the middle we see Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Theaker. Gin connoisseur who also took himself off to the Gulf but has now given it all up for life as a globe-trotter. Though the word is that he hopes to return to Swansea and resume his political career.
On the right we see Rene ‘Rocking Rene’ Kinzett, the only Tory in this gay trio, and at one time the youngest of Swansea’s councillors. I predict with certainty that Rene will not be returning to Swansea . . . after he’s released from prison.
I wrote about ‘Rocking Rene’ back in 2013, and someone, in a comment, reminded me that his brother Richard had been sent down for life after attacking an off-duty copper outside the Uplands Tavern while on a visit to Rene. I then received a message from their father, demanding apologies for all sorts of things. I wrote about it here.
I felt sorry for Kinzett senior back then, and I feel even sorrier for him now with two sons banged up. I just hope he has other children to console him.
Just a brief update to Dawnus 3.
There’s no question that French arms manufacturer Thales didn’t stay long at the Stradey Business Park in Llangennech. It left soon after the (official) British withdrawal from Afghanistan, maybe before. So why wasn’t Thales’ departure given the same coverage by the ‘Welsh’ media as its arrival, or indeed any coverage?
The building used by Thales was taken over by Hydro Industries Ltd, as shown in one of the photographs below that I was sent by a local. This explains Carwyn Jones’s visits to the USA in 2013 and 2014 promoting Hydro Industries.
The other photo, from the front gate, leaves no one in any doubt that Robert Lovering’s company European Telecom Solutions has moved in.
(What’s equally clear is that no one cleans the old signage.)
Hydro Industries is ostensibly involved in the harmless and praiseworthy business of bringing clean water to Africa. I suspect it’s involved in rather more than that. And that it wasn’t just the Thales building that it took over.
Hydro replacing Thales explains the sudden attention – and financial input – of the Waterloo Foundation and Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle, who is herself French.
The wife and I like to take ourselves off for short breaks exploring this wonderful country of ours. One such trip about three years ago took us to Pembrokeshire and the Cleddau Bridge Hotel, a superb location on the Milford Haven Waterway and ideally located for walking across the bridge to take in the stunning views.
But there you go, these things happen . . . and often in the sequence I’ve listed here!
One of the big issues on the Welsh Twittersphere over the past few days has been the defacing, then the partial demolition, and finally the rebuilding, of the ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ mural on the A487 just north of Llanrhystud.
First, on Thursday night, it was vandalised by someone painting over the message, then on Friday night the wall itself was partially demolished. These incidents being the latest in a series of attacks, presumably by those objecting to the message.
The recent incidents are covered pretty well in this BBC Wales report. (From which I’ve used the image below.)
Not only has the wall been rebuilt and the message repainted but a petition has been launched to raise £20,000. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve chipped in with my £20 (plus the charge!) but I’m still not sure what exactly I’m contributing towards.
The petition reads,
This Mural is an important landmark in Welsh history which symbolized the hurt and pain that the drowning of the village of Tryweryn caused in the 1960s
After the mural was desecrated numerous times in the last few years, we want to make sure it’s secure and protected for future generations.
Please donate to our cause!
(The drowned village was actually called Capel Celyn.)
But what does this appeal mean? If it means constantly repainting and rebuilding the memorial (for memorial is what it is) after each act of vandalism, then I shall be very disappointed, because I believe there has to be a permanent solution to ensure no further attacks.
Personally, I wouldn’t object to booby traps, but I suppose some would, so what is to be done? For a start, who owns the land on which the wall stands, and the lay-by in front? Can it be bought? And if so, who would own it on behalf of the nation? It obviously can’t be a single political party or group; ownership and custodianship has to be as broadly based as possible.
But it must also be in Welsh hands, which is why I was appalled to read this suggestion from English Heritage (West) that their mates in The English National Trust be involved.
Why the hell would we need to involve a middle class BritNat outfit? And seeing as this is a national memorial the decision can’t be left entirely to the local community council either, a group that might be influenced by Cadw.
Responses I’ve seen to the recent attacks hint at a divide long evident in the national movement. I’m referring now to those ready to turn the other cheek and keep rebuilding the wall after every attack; and those who want to bring those responsible to book, and ensure it never happens again.
A divide exposed by Tryweryn itself, when some felt that the correct response was to sing hymns in the streets of Liverpool, while others wanted to blow up the dam.
We are entering dangerous times, with a confused and angry neighbour that might fall under the sway of demagogues and rabble-rousers who have some very ugly masters. Those seeking martyrdom might get their wish, but it won’t help Wales one bit.
At the risk of getting a reputation for picking on the Labour Party I conclude with a tale of bruvvers at each others’ throats. This story comes from Flintshire, realm of the late Carl Sargeant.
A name we became familiar with in those dark days was Bernie Attridge, apparently a big (in every sense of the word) mate to Sargeant. In fact, in the aftermath of Sargeant’s death, Attridge got quite emotional at times and made no bones about targeting Carwyn Jones.
But then it seemed that the Sargeant death opened a can of worms. For example, it was suggested that Attridge had hinted that Sargeant could have gone to prison for unspecified crimes. Attridge is alleged to have used the colourful phrase, “I bet he’s shitting bricks“. And this was alleged to have been said before Sargeant’s sacking and suspension in November 2017.
These rumours were known to the denizens of the Connah’s Quay Labour Club, and officials of the party. From reading what was being reported it was clear there were divisions within the local Labour Party. But of course this had nothing to do with ideology, for the Labour Party in the north east is very much like the Labour Party we know in the south, in that it’s an ideology-free gravy train.
The main cleavage seemed to be between the council leader, the appropriately named Aaron Shotton, and his deputy, Attridge, plus of course those who took sides. Things seem to have come to a head in the past couple of weeks, first, with Shotton sacking Attridge, and this closely followed by Shotton’s resignation.
It was even suggested that Shotton had chucked it in due to the fear of Attridge supporters taking to the streets. (Flaming torches and pitchforks optional.)
In the BBC report I’ve just linked to, ‘“Cabinet colleague Carolyn Thomas warned earlier that “hatred and animosity” threatened to split the Labour group’.
While this WalesOnline report tells us that the problem goes back to a secret recording made ten years ago of a conversation between Shotton and Attridge that contains ‘expletives’ and ‘defamatory allegations’.
Then last Thursday a piece appeared in the Wasting Mule which seemed to be answered by another piece on Saturday. See what you make of them.
It’s pretty obvious, even from a distance, that the Labour Party has a very unhappy band of bruvvers in Flintshire. If it comes to all-out war it could get nasty, for the Flintshire Labour Party – and indeed the council – has always contained a number of renowned swordsmen.
What makes it even more awkward for Labour is that Shotton and Attridge both represent the Connah’s Quay Central ward. I bet ward meetings are a bundle of laughs. Happy days!
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
This was intended to be a sort of bits and pieces post in which I looked at various topics. Among them the sale of Coleg Harlech and an update on the (ex-)student councillors that used to plague Swansea council, a sort of ‘Where are they now?’
For your information, and titillation, one former Labour councillor ended up working for Tory Home Secretary Javid; another went home to California before returning to promote herself as a ‘political consultant’; a third works as a ‘Director of Sponsor Relations’ for a US company; a fourth worked for that same company before becoming a ‘globetrotter’; while a fifth – the only Tory – got banged up for child pornography.
But all that can wait because cogs have been turning in the old Jac noggin as I tried to make sense of who’s who and what’s what on either side of that great turbulence that cleaves Jack from Turk.
Not a great deal of new information has come to light but I have been pointed in certain directions and the bigger picture is now less opaque as connections are made and things fall into place.
Though I beg you to be patient, because this is one of the most complicated investigations I’ve ever done.
There are a few things to add on Dawnus itself, and the myriad companies that sheltered ‘neath that umbrella. To help you get up to speed I advise you to read Dawnus and Dawnus 2.
The asset stripping and dismemberment of Dawnus may or may not have begun with the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone 2014/15 but it certainly ties in with the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, who now seems to run what’s left of Dawnus.
Though having said that, two new companies have emerged from the ashes. The first, on 22 March, was Dawnus International Group Ltd, which has already changed its name to DIG International Group Ltd. This new entity contains as directors a number of names that have appeared before in connection with the Dawnus group.
Then on 28 March the world saw the birth of Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, based in sunny Porthcawl and with Andrew Kenneth Keay as sole director. Keay has used the Dawnus name previously for his one-man-band companies, though where he fits in the puzzle remains a mystery.
Another unplaced piece of the puzzle is Legsun Ltd, a company that is heavily in debt and whose directors are, since 14 February 2014, Timothy Alun Lowe, who has served as director with many Dawnus companies and also, since 12 March 2018, Dawnus head honcho Nicholas Charles Down.
The early documents for Legsun are not available with Companies House without payment but we know that the company was started in March 1973, and though it now uses a Cardiff address it was previously using an address in the Pontypool area. I am in no doubt that Legsun is linked with the former Royal Ordnance Factory at Glascoed. Today this site is known as BAE Systems Munitions Glascoed.
Legsun is not a commercial company in the sense that you or I understand that term, because no genuine company could sustain losses on the scale of Legsun’s without going bust. How Legsun links with the collapse of Dawnus I’m not entirely sure. But it does, if only because Legsun’s only directors are also directors of Dawnus companies, and previous Legsun directors also had Dawnus links.
Legsun introduces the first connection with the military-industrial complex.
There are charges outstanding against all these companies with the sole exception of Legsun which, despite having massive debts, was somehow able to satisfy three charges on March 14.
At the time of writing the administration documents aren’t available with Companies House. There’s also the possibility that other companies in the Dawnus stable may yet follow those listed above into receivership.
Another connection with the military-industrial complex – and one I neglected to mention in the two previous pieces – is Thales, the French ordnance manufacturer. Thales has a presence at Stradey Park (Business Centre), Llangennech, owned now by Robert Nigel Lovering.
What Paddy French told us was that the redundant Ministry of Defence site at Llangennech was bought in early 2009 by Carmarthenshire County Council (Prop. M. V. James) and immediately sold on to R & A Properties, an unregistered company.
According to this WalesOnline report from early May 2009 the manner of the deal was justified by ‘the council’ (the aforementioned M .V. James) because the MoD would otherwise have auctioned the site.
The title document for Stradey Park is interesting. Lovering is named as the owner but the money to buy the site seems to have come from three funders: Lloyds Bank plc, the Secretary of State for Defence, and Carmarthenshire County Council.
The title is dated 1 April 2009. It also refers to land detached in 2015 from the title and directs us to the title plan for Stradey Park . . . which is not available on the Land Registry website.
The ‘sale’ was handled by Hugh James Solicitors of Cardiff, official solicitors for the ‘Welsh Government’.
There appear to be further loans, including one from Thales UK Limited.
There are also leases; one is for ten years from 1 April 2009 and covered by title number CYM465605, which again, is unavailable with the Land Registry, perhaps because that lease has now expired. Another, for 25 years from 27.03.2012, is with SSE Micro Renewables (Commercial) Ltd for the lease of air space.
But none of this can be checked because everything is in the name of the individual Robert Nigel Lovering. Who must be well thought of in certain quarters.
There was understandable disquiet over the deal. One councillor was quoted, “No information was given about the firm that will be creating the jobs beyond the fact that it was involved in defence procurement. Neither were we told who was behind R & A Properties, except that they were known to some of the officers.”
Pickering was also reported as saying, “I know some people will find it strange that R&A is not a limited committee (sic), but we’ve been advised to do it this way by our professional advisers”.
It may not have been a limited company but the section below from the year ended 31 March 2016 accounts makes reference to R&A Properties LLP (Limited Liability Partnership); but I can find no such company registered with Companies House. Was it not registered, or registered in some other jurisdiction?
One company I did unearth was R & A Secure Services Ltd, described on the Companies House website as a ‘non-trading company’ with Lovering as sole director. This was launched in September 2012, so chronologically it fits, but how?
The capture below is from the Company Check website. Jacobs can be disregarded, he’s a Company Formation Agent, but who or what is Francis Trust? And where’s Pickering?
The report, about a bit of rumpy pumpy (was he shagging two of his staff!), also tells us that Lancehawk was trading as European Telecom Solutions. So I don’t understand why Lancehawk is still in business and a new company called European Telecom Solutions Ltd was formed 15 November 2017.
By November 2009 the BBC was telling us that Thales UK was to equip or modify Warthog all-terrain armoured vehicles at Llangennech for use in Afghanistan. This is the “blue chip” company we were told about, the justification presumably for the curious purchase arrangements.
So it looks as if Lovering (plus Pickering and Preece?) bought the site specifically to accommodate Thales? (Whatever the answer, R & A Properties now seems to have finally done the decent thing and gone legit, forming R and A Properties Cardiff Ltd last month. Why ‘Cardiff’?)
Some would have us believe that Thales has moved out of Stradey Park, but I can find no report of such a departure, certainly not in the Welsh media. Though I did turn this up in the Herald. It suggests that Thales closed its Llangennech operation – or part of it – in late 2012 or early 2013.
Which might link with reports in February 2012 that Cassidian was moving to Llangennech. Cassidian merged with Airbus Military and Astrium in January 2014 to form Airbus Defence and Space, now a division of Airbus.
This would give us a third connection with the military-industrial complex. Though I can find no evidence of the Cassidian move ever materialising.
Though from a distance there is little documentary or other evidence of either Thales or Airbus having been in Llangennech. Come to that, the whole site might as well be a secret, what with it being owned by an unregistered company, or an individual, there being no website, and Google turning up no recent references to either company being at Llangennech.
Though Google Earth came up trumps with what might be a recent shot, suggesting that Thales is still in situ.
Correction: The Google Earth image I’ve used there is from 2011. I am informed that Thales has long since slung its hook. Why was it not reported in the Welsh media?
UPDATE 23:25: The British Army withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014, which would clearly have reduced the demand for the Warthog All-Terrain vehicles assembled by Thales at Llangennech, and this might explain the closure.
It also suggests that despite all the bullshit and backslapping that attended Thales’ arrival in Llangennech it must have been known that the French visitor was never going to stay and put down roots.
However, this forum posting I stumbled upon suggests that other uses were found for Warthogs: “Jane’s military guide has reported that British Warthog vehicles will be transformed to serve as transporter vehicles for Thales Watchkeeper UAV”. ‘UAV’ being unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone. Which would make perfect sense.
I’m convinced that drones out of Aberporth, or possibly Llanbedr, use darkness and cloud cover to fly up the Dysynni Valley along part of the ‘Mach Loop’. The constant noise can last half an hour or more. And recently I’ve had reports of the same issue around Cydweli, Glanyfferi and out over the sea.
Which means that Thales’ presence is still here, with Watchkeeper drones being transported on Warthog vehicles assembled at Llangennech. Overflying our country . . . and often crashing!
HYDRO INDUSTRIES LTD
On 2 January 2013 Lovering and Preece became directors of Hydro Industries Ltd (originally Watertec Solutions Ltd and then Aggrelek Ltd), with Pickering joining them in November.
Watertec was Incorporated 2 September 2010 on the east side of Swansea, at the Ashmount Business Park . . . within spitting distance of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (at the time known as Dawnus Construction Ltd).
Is this propinquity a coincidence? I think not.
The address for Aggrelek Ltd changed to Stradey Park 13 July 2011, and it became Hydro Industries in December of that year. Hydro Industries becomes another Legsun, in that it seems to operate in a parallel financial universe, being heavily in debt but still able to satisfy charges and generally carrying on as if nothing is amiss.
The founders of Hydro Industries, Philip and Janine Morgan of Gorseinon, presumably had some knowledge of the water industry, to judge by other companies with which they’ve been involved, and certain directors of these companies, such as Chris Stretton.
But I don’t know what knowledge of desalination processes, or water purification and disposal in the third world is possessed by Lovering, Pickering and Preece. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
For almost immediately Lovering, Preece and Pickering had their feet under the Hydro Industries boardroom table things started happening for them on a transatlantic level with First Minister Carwyn Jones jetting across the Pond to put in a word.
Now clearly, if Lovering, Preece and Pickering didn’t join Hydro Industries until January 2013 then they didn’t have time to have arranged the contract with T&T Salvage that was announced by Carwyn Jones in February. In fact, Carwyn Jones seems to have taken Hydro Industries Ltd under his wing. How many other small companies received such treatment?
You’ll see that at No 6 in the list is Airbus. Airbus is also mentioned along with Hydro Industries in the blurb for Carwyn Jones’s 2014 visit to the States. And I’ve seen the connection made elsewhere.
As with Thales locating to Llangennech the T&T contract was arranged by someone else, and Lovering and Preece were put into Hydro Industries to front the deal because they were ‘trusted’ . . . by someone. ‘Someone’ who could also pull Carwyn Jones’s strings.
Though as I told you in the previous post, the three amigos have now been joined (displaced?) by some very glitzy company on the board and among the shareholders of Hydro Industries.
Almost immediately Pickering had joined Lovering and Preece on the Hydro board we saw investment from Diane Briere de L’Isle, David Stevens and Heather Stevens.
As I explained in an earlier piece, Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle is the French wife of Henry Englehardt the American founder of Admiral Insurance. So who are David and Heather Stevens?
They, it turns out, are behind the Waterloo Foundation, a name that some may think unfortunate or insensitive given the involvement of Mme. Englehardt. The Waterloo Foundation was begun in 2007 with a donation of Admiral Group plc shares to the (then) value of £99m.
And it all makes sense, for “clean water” is listed among the charity’s ambitions under ‘World Development‘. Which is why I was surprised not to find Hydro Industries listed under ‘Investments‘ and ‘Wales’ because the Foundation has definitely invested in Hydro.
And after the investment came a series of convoluted share reclassifications and allocations. Diane Marguerite Marie Briere De L’isle is named on the Companies House website as the person ‘with significant control’ from 21 August 2017. Preece, Lovering and Pickering cease to have significant control on the same day.
It’s not inconceivable, given Hydro’s links with Thales, that Mme. Englehardt joined Hydro in order to represent France’s interests.
Certainly Mme. Englehardt became a director of Hydro and appointed others to eventually outnumber the three musketeers. Among these newcomers was Guto Harri, Welsh language journalist and former PR guru for Boris Johnson.
The boys are still there, but maybe just for window dressing.
The links with the British establishment just keep coming, and of course Libbey provides another to the military-industrial complex, such as we find throughout this saga.
Which is easily explained. Major powers exert influence through ‘soft power’, which can mean aid to third world countries that just happen to have valuable natural resources or are of strategic importance.
What could be more caring and philanthropic than providing clean drinking water?
Up until the autumn of 2018 everything seemed to be hunky-dory with Dawnus, Hydro Industries, Swansea University, Thales, Legsun, etc, and there were exciting plans in the pipeline.
Here we are, six months later, and it’s all fallen apart. Perhaps some of those involved were strung along, and once they’d outlived their usefulness they became dispensable.
So what are we left with? Well, there’s Hydro, which I believe to be a ‘front’ company for some agency of the UK state; and then there’s the remains of Dawnus, run by someone who is almost certainly co-operating with the same shadowy elements.
If I’m right, then hundreds of Welsh workers, sub-contractors and suppliers were shafted by the UK Government, which either engineered the collapse of Dawnus or else accepted it as collateral damage. But we’re Welsh, we’re used to being shafted and exploited.
What is unforgivable is that this damage was inflicted on Wales with the support of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ and, especially, that of Carwyn Jones.
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
Following on from the previous article, information received justifies a fresh post rather than just an update to the original ‘Dawnus’.
Some of this fresh information gives further support to the theory that much of Dawnus’s tangible assets, in the form of heavy machinery worth millions of pounds, was shipped out to Sierra Leone before Christmas. But it goes much further than that.
Before pushing on let me say that I got something wrong in the previous post (forgiveable, given how many companies and charges are involved). I interpreted this (also below) to be a fresh charge against Dawnus Sierra Leone when in fact it was issued because someone didn’t spell Sierra Leone correctly in the original document!
I’m beginning to realise how busy Dawnus was in different parts of the country. For example, the council on Ynys Môn seems to have relied on Dawnus to a great extent, even for services such as road gritting that we would normally expect to undertaken by the council itself.
So embedded was Dawnus into the council’s structure that last year, when it had already become obvious that Dawnus was in trouble, the council was paying for Dawnus’s supplies as the company’s own accounts were blocked. Despite that, Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn handed Dawnus a two million pound contract to alleviate flooding in Beaumaris. A job that was left unfinished when Dawnus finally collapsed.
The amazing thing perhaps about this whole business is that anyone dealing with Dawnus knew long before the event that the company was in serious financial trouble, so why was Dawnus allowed to limp on?
TRYING TO FOLLOW THE MONEY
This Swansea company that grew from nothing into an international operator with a £200 million annual turnover started to go downhill in 2014/15 after the Ebola outbreak affected its operations in Sierra Leone. At least, that’s the generally accepted theory.
Soon after this Ebola-inspired downturn we see the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, whose Linkedin profile tells us that, “After 30 plus years of working in overseas locations , mainly the Middle East and Canada I am finally returning to work in the UK. Dawnus Construction wish to grow their operations in London and the South East and this represents a new challenge for me.”
He says he joined Dawnus Construction Ltd as director for London and the South East, and his Linkedin profile says this was in October 2015, but Companies House insists Down wasn’t a director of any Dawnus company until 15 April 2016. That was when he joined Dawnus Southern Ltd, Ashbridge Construction Ltd and Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (which had been Dawnus Construction Ltd until 22 October 2013).
Later that year, on 11 November, he became a partner in Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP (resigning 1 October 2018), before joining Dawnus Group Ltd as a director on 15 February 2017.
I don’t know what to make of this discrepancy over his initial involvement because I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t know who they’re working for, or when they started. Though I suppose we have to accept the rest of his Linkedin entry, which tells us he had previously worked for Laing O’Rourke and Carillion.
Linkedin also tells us Down became Dawnus group managing director in January 2018. Before becoming a director of all the other companies in the group 10/12 March 2018. By which time the skids were well and truly greased.
All of which makes Down joining Dawnus a strange career move, unless he was assured that there was a future at Dawnus, maybe a future guaranteed by players keeping a low profile.
Soon after Down took control a Chattel Mortgage was secured from HSBC Bank plc, on 16 March 2018. This was added to seven other charges taken out between August 2017 and February 2018, either with Lloyds Bank or HSBC. These earlier loans were all against land and property owned by the company.
On 28 March two charges were delivered by ‘Welsh Ministers’ against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (DCH). But only one of them appears to have been delivered against other Dawnus companies in the group.
The one specific to DCH being charge number 042305790020, and if we scroll down to page 10, we start a long list of construction site material, much of it heavy and expensive machinery. By the time we get to page 17 we can see that much of this machinery is in Liberia, with some in neighbouring Sierra Leone.
This looks to be exactly the same equipment listed in the HSBC Chattel Mortgage. Which suggests that Dawnus took out a mortgage with HSBC and then, less than two weeks later, the ‘Welsh Ministers’ seemed to ‘cover’ the HSBC loan (or part of it).
This raises a number of issues. To begin with, it might disprove the theory that a great deal of machinery came home from Sierra Leone when Ebola struck in 2014/15. Did it move down the road to Liberia, or was there always equipment in Liberia?
What we know is that more equipment went out from Swansea to west Africa before Christmas. I have now seen photographs and other evidence for these shipments.
And we are talking big money here. Even second-hand machines can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. While a source tells me there’s a thriving export market in second-hand equipment to the land of Uncle Sam, due to the fact that all new machinery sold there must be made in the USA.
The ‘Welsh Government’ is said to have handed over £3.5m, of which two million has been repaid. This was done in early July and the ‘Description of Assets’ would appear to be machines at the Swansea depot, now cleared for export.
But was the ‘Welsh Government’ actually repaid some of the money it was owed, or was it a charade to justify releasing those machines? Perhaps under instructions from a higher authority? Something we’ll consider in a moment.
A FLOCK OF PHOENIX!
In the previous post I told you that since the ‘collapse’ of Dawnus a new company had been formed, called Dawnus International Group Ltd, formed 22 March. Well, it’s already shed the Dawnus name to become DIG International Group Ltd.
I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the original Dawnus Commercial Management folded in June 2015, Keay Cost Value Engineering folded in July, and then Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd was re-born in August.
But that still doesn’t tell us who Keay is, how he fits into the Dawnus picture, and why he uses the name.
Another company I mentioned earlier was Legsun Ltd, where we find Nick Down as director and Timothy Alun Lowe serving as both director and secretary. While not a new company, Legsun had life breathed into a couple of weeks ago when it was able to satisfy three charges with the National Westminster Bank plc.
Quite an achievement for a company that returned a loss of £4,147,000 on turnover of £9,298,000 for year ending 31.12.2017, compared with £1,184,000 and £17,496,000 respectively for the previous year. So how was Legsun able to do it?
These charges were satisfied on the very day it became publicly known that Dawnus had collapsed.
All of which makes it quite obvious that ‘Dawnus’ may have collapsed but certain parts of the group are being hived off to carry on. They may eventually drop the Dawnus name, and will probably be operating overseas.
FLYING THE FLAG?
I am now convinced that the UK government was instrumental in the Dawnus disaster. I believe that Dawnus was propped up – with the help of the ‘Welsh Government’ – for as long as was necessary to prepare things in Africa, then the prop was removed.
Which is a hell of a thing to say, but the evidence is out there. Or rather, as I hope to prove, it’s here, and you’re going to read it.
As I’ve said, everybody knew Dawnus was up Shit Creek, and it’s been known for well over a year, Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn paying Dawnus’ bills is just one example of this. But Dawnus couldn’t be allowed to collapse until things were ready.
The rot had set in some time before that, maybe it was down to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Maybe not. Whatever the truth is, the problems confronting Dawnus, and the company’s resultant vulnerability, probably explain the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down.
Down tells us that he had worked in senior positions overseas for most of his working life, much of it in a sensitive region like the Middle East. He would therefore have had regular contact with the Foreign Office, and perhaps other agencies.
This explains his being sent to Dawnus. The exact manner of his appointment I’m still unsure about, but that doesn’t really matter, what’s important is his background and the timing of his arrival.
For Dawnus was to become a company run at arms-length by the UK government to serve the UK’s strategic interests in another sensitive region, Africa. For while there had been a tendency to ignore sub-Saharan Africa in the post-colonial period recent Chinese investment in the continent had changed all that.
Where’s the evidence?
OK, let’s go back to August last year, when the prime minister Theresa May was in South Africa, and we heard of a ‘Swansea consortium’, involving Dawnus, Swansea University, and Hydro Industries Ltd of Llangennech. (The Uni and Hydro Industries had in fact shacked up in January.)
So who or what is Hydro Industries? Well, it seems to have been a small company, bumping along, under the directorship of David Pickering and a couple of others. That is Dai Pickering formerly of the Welsh Rugby Union, arch-Brit and obsequious royalist.
Pickering, together with Wayne Preece and Robert Lovering, took over the company in January 2013 from its founders. After more than five years of glorious obscurity they were joined on the board in June 2018 by Guto Harri, former BBC journalist and later ‘communications director’ for Boris Johnson.
Why would Tory insider Harri join a small company in Carmarthenshire? What’s more, one in a very poor financial state.
For the most recent accounts for Hydro Industries, up to 31 March 2017, make for grim reading. Yet despite being in such a parlous state the three director still paid themselves £290,489, and also made a political donation of £20,000! (Socialist Workers Party, probably.)
So one minute we have a little company in Carmarthenshire up to its neck in debt, and the next minute it’s attracting rich and influential people, who now control and own the company, with Dai and his mates kept on for appearance’ sake . . . though I’m sure they’re getting well paid for it.
And all this happens at the same time as troubled Dawnus is taken over, hollowed out and asset stripped, with the expensive equipment shipped off to Africa, and once that’s all done Dawnus is allowed to collapse. And we know these events are linked because the prime minister is in RSA pushing a ‘Swansea Consortium’.
Dawnus was kept alive and then put down, throwing Welsh people out of work, leaving Welsh sub-contractors and Welsh suppliers unpaid. Leaving contracts across Wales unfinished, causing misery and disruption to many, many people.
And the ‘Welsh Government’ collaborated enthusiastically in this conspiracy to inflict misery on Welsh people. ‘Welsh’ Labour became a willing party to England’s protection of her post-colonial interests in Africa by doing down, yet again, her first and oldest colony.
This about sums up the Labour Party . . . and devolution . . . and Wales’ relationship with England. When are we going to learn?
♦ end ♦
UPDATE 09:00: Something in the back of my mind told me, ‘Check on Dai Pickering – haven’t you read something somewhere?’ So I did. And I had. Pickering ‘bought’ the Llangennech site where we find Hydro Industries.
Initially Carmarthenshire County Council bought the site from the MoD and sold it on in a ‘no other bidders’ deal to Pickering. Or so it was assumed, but the Land Registry makes clear that the site is actually owned by his partner Robert Lovering.
But Pickering was the perfect door-opener – Oh, Dai Pickering, played for Wales. Tidy boy, mun – what do he wunt?’ And he had debts. But his record as a rugby player and then as a WRU official meant he was perfect for whoever wanted to impress the locals and make use of the Llangennech site.
Among those that took up residence on the Llangennech site was the Prince’s Trust, and wouldn’t you know it – Brigadier Rick Libbey, now Chief Operating Officer of Hydro Industries, “spent four years as the Director of The Prince’s Trust Cymru and Director for South West England”.
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
A story that’s taken up a lot of column inches and air time recently is the collapse of contractors Dawnus; which is sad in so many ways; lost jobs, another blow for my home town, and public money down the Swanee. (Or, in this case, the Tawe.) It’s this final consideration that seems to have exercised the minds of our tribunes and our scribblers.
But the interest has been only superficial.
Here’s a piece from the Wasting Mule that seems satisfied to learn that two million pounds from a ‘Welsh Government’ loan of three and a half million has been returned, with the spokesperson confident that they’d soon see the balance.
From reading that article you might get the impression that there’s a single company called Dawnus which received just one loan. The truth is rather different, and quite confusing.
MORE THAN JUST A COMPANY
There are no less than 10 companies bearing the Dawnus name (with another dissolved). Then there are other companies also operating out of Unit 7 Dyffryn Court, Riverside Business Park, Swansea Vale, SA7 0AP, not far from Junction 45 of the M4.
The full list of Dawnus companies with dates of their formation is:
A number of things struck me when compiling that list. First, the sheer number of companies. Second, the way names seem to switch within the group. Third, Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd, why did it dissolve in June 2015 and resurrect in August, with the same director, Andrew Keay?
Come to that, who is Andrew Keay and why is he using the Dawnus name? All I know at the moment is that he also had his own company, Keay Cost Value Engineering Ltd, and this also went belly-up in July 2015.
Then, last Friday, a new company was formed, Dawnus International Group Limited, with its address given as, ‘c/o Acuity Legal Limited, 3 Assembly Square, Britannia Quay, Cardiff CF10 4PL’.
Acuity Law is well-connected in Cardiff Bay, and also with the higher levels of officialdom in Wales. Which explains why they’re lawyers for Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James. And they’ve done a great job of defending – nay, burnishing! – his reputation. Acuity will in no small part be responsible for the outpouring of communal grief that will accompany James’ retirement in June.
Of course most companies begin life using the address of an accountant or a lawyer before changing to a more permanent address, but I just find it significant that in this case it should be Acuity Law.
Now let us turn to loans made to Dawnus. Yes, there’s more than one.
WHO OWES WHAT, AND TO WHOM?
The newspaper article I reproduced above tells us that the Cardiff Bay management team made a loan of £3.5 million to ‘Dawnus’ of which two million has been repaid. So there shouldn’t be much to worry about. Mmm . . .
Except that . . .
Working our way down the list of Dawnus companies in the order seen in the previous section we find two outstanding charges against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd with ‘the Welsh Ministers’, delivered 28.03.2018, both part-cleared 02.07.2018. (Do these part-cleared charges account for the repaid £2m?)
There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus Ltd delivered 28.03.2018.
There is one outstanding charge against the Dawnus Group Ltd, delivered 28.03.2018.
So there are at least three charges.
But we need to be careful because when querying similar charges – with the Development Bank for Wales – for a number of companies run by the same individual, and asking why a company based in London had received funding, I was initially given the ‘group’ answer.
But in the example I was querying there was no group, just many companies run by the same guy, Jimbo Lynch of Cardigan (for it is he!).
And then I checked with Companies House and wondered why alarm bells didn’t ring in Cardiff when this appeared on the document –
Beachbay is a company that has bought and runs property in London, it should never have received funding from what was then Finance Wales. I’m now waiting for another excuse explanation.
It’s obviously much easier to make the ‘group’ argument with Dawnus, but if so, then which is the parent company? And even if the group explanation holds, there are still at least three outstanding charges; two delivered on 28.03.2018, and one on 06.04.2018 to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd.
Though this last one raises the question of whether the Development Bank for Wales should be funding a company that presumably operates in west Africa.
Newspaper and media reports give the impression there is just one company, yet we know there are many using the Dawnus name. This BBC Wales report only confuses matters further by (at the foot) introducing a company called Dawnus Liberia, which I can’t find anywhere.
Though an internet search for Dawnus Liberia turned up this article which mentions Legsun Building Services. The company is actually called Legsun Ltd, and is based in Cardiff. When I checked the Legsun directors I saw the names Timothy Alun Lowe and Nicholas Charles Down, names I recognised from the Dawnus companies.
Apart from the LLP all the companies have charges against them – or are covered by the group charge – held by ‘the Welsh Ministers’ and delivered 28.03.2018, just two weeks after Down became a director for most of them.
Let us return to Legsun for a moment, where we found both Lowe and Down serving as directors. The accounts to 31.12.2017 record a loss of £4,147,000 on turnover of £9,298,000, compared with £1,184,000 and £17,496,000 respectively for the previous year.
Yet despite apparently being up Shit Creek, Legsun was able to settle three charges on March 14 with the National Westminster Bank, the very day it was announced that Dawnus was in administration. Did the money come from Dawnus Group Ltd, as is suggested in the extract below from the accounts?
And if so, was it simply moving money beyond the reach of creditors, or was there something else going on?
Nicholas Charles Down first appears in April 2016 as a director of three companies – Dawnus Southern, Dawnus Construction Holdings and Ashbridge Construction. In November we find him as one of the original designated members of Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP. He joins Dawnus Group Ltd in February 2017, and finally, as we’ve just seen, he becomes director of a whole raft of companies in March 2018, including Legsun.
So who is Nicholas Charles Down? Well, here’s his Linkedin profile which tells us that before joining Dawnus he was managing director of Laing O’Rourke for three and a half years.
You’ll note that Down’s Linkedin profile says he became a director of ‘Dawnus Construction Ltd’ in October 2015, but that name was not used after October 2013; Companies House tells us he became a director of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd 15.04.2016.
How do we account for this discrepancy? Was he there ‘undercover’ from October 2015 before becoming a registered director in April 2016? It’s possible, because according to his Linkedin profile he left his previous post at Laing O’Rourke in June 2015.
Though I can’t find Down listed as a director for any Laing O’Rourke company.
This work was badly hit by the outbreak of Ebola, which began in January 2014. As a result of which a great deal of heavy machinery was shipped back to Wales and parked up in the Dawnus yard in Clydach.
One source insists that this heavy equipment accounted for a considerable part of the Dawnus group’s assets.
About a week ago someone popped down to the yard and mooched around a bit. It seems there’s a new security firm from Carmarthen on site and so the guard he spoke with couldn’t tell him much. But my mate wandered around, looked through the fence and estimated that the yard had room for a hundred or so sizeable machines, but there were only five there. It was clear that many of the spaces had recently been vacated.
Perhaps the intention always was that this equipment would return to Africa, and that’s what I’m told happened towards the end of last year when almost all the equipment was shipped out again, presumably back to Sierra Leone.
Which means that at a time when everybody – including suppliers, sub-contractors and ‘Welsh Government’ – knew that Dawnus was in deep, deep trouble, big money assets were leaving the country.
But was Peter being robbed to pay Paul? Or to put it bluntly, could the loan in April – that no one seems to talk about – have funded the part-repayment in July?
This almost certainly links to the one constant in the Dawnus media reports, which say UK work has stopped but ‘overseas operations will continue’, or that only group companies operating in the UK are in the hands of the receivers.
But with a Byzantine structure like the Dawnus group of companies who knows what’s what? Does the ‘Welsh Government’ know which companies are in receivership? For nothing is filed yet with Companies House to say that any Dawnus company is in receivership.
TRYING TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
If Sierra Leone and Ebola were the undoing of Dawnus, then the problems started at the beginning of 2014. But in fairness, Dawnus didn’t just cut and run; no, the company stayed and helped fight the outbreak. And the UK Government also sent help, including military personnel.
Let’s put together a little timeline to help us make sense of the events leading up to the Dawnus collapse and subsequent happenings:
Up to 2013 things seem to be going well, at home and in Africa
January 2014, Ebola outbreak begins in Sierra Leone
Heavy equipment is moved from Sierra Leone to Wales
The company’s financial health starts to suffer
Late 2015/early 2016, Nick Down appears
March 2018, the ‘Welsh Ministers’ loan Dawnus £3m
April 2018, there is a further loan specific to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd
From August/September 2018 Dawnus becomes noticeably slower in paying suppliers and sub-contractors
From September 2018, it is reported that heavy equipment is leaving Swansea for Sierra Leone.
March 13/14 2019, it is announced that Dawnus is in the hands of receivers
March 14, 2019, loss-making Legsun satisfies three charges
March 22, Dawnus International Group Ltd registered with Companies House
So what does that tell us? To begin with, it doesn’t tell us how or why – or at whose request? – Nicholas Charles Down got involved with Dawnus. One source is adamant that everything started to go pear-shaped with his arrival. Though I suspect that the writing was on the wall and Down was brought it to sort things out.
Turning to the ‘Welsh Ministers’. It’s obvious that their loan (or loans) is linked with Down taking control of so many companies in March 2018. It’s equally clear that this was never going to be enough to save the Dawnus group, it was just enough money to keep it limping along for a while.
Long enough for Dawnus to be restructured and the heavy equipment moved back to Africa. Though the ‘Welsh Government’ must have been aware of this, for it almost certainly explains the further loan, in April 2018, to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd. Should this loan have ever been made?
Among the known unknowns is new company Dawnus International Group Ltd, for the directors are names previously associated with the Dawnus group. So is the new company challenging the new regime?
Whatever street-fighting may still be going on in the ruins of Dawnus this whole business reflects very badly on the ‘Welsh Government’. For Dawnus was a major Welsh company and serious investment might have saved the group, but the miserably inadequate contribution made only delayed the inevitable. And the ‘Welsh Government’ knew that when it made the loans.
When I think of the money showered on every crook and chancer who crosses the border with a half-baked idea scrawled on the back of a fag packet it makes me angry to see that nothing was done to save a major Welsh company already in business, with good contracts, providing work for hundreds of our people.
Instead, the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ appears to have encouraged, facilitated, and perhaps funded, the demise of Dawnus. The only question remaining is, was this done through malice or incompetence?
At the end of the day, for all those who’ve suffered, does it really matter?