I’m more and more convinced that 2021 will be a very important year for Wales.
♦ end ♦
The next post will appear early in 2021. I shall sneak it up on you while you’re still suffering with your festive hangovers!
It will be a piece in which I look forward to the Senedd elections in May; but I attempt to link them with the housing and colonisation crisis in our countryside, a problem that increasingly affects our more attractive post-industrial areas.
Because I don’t see much point in independence for a Wales from which the native population has, effectively, been ethnically cleansed, while the more strident elements of this independence movement – alert to injustice everywhere! – remains silent.
♦ end ♦
To begin with, I’m not getting any younger. And yet, despite that, I find myself taking on fresh responsibilities. Things I want to do before the Grim Reaper comes a-calling. So it has become a question of priorities.
But also, having spent some ten years writing this blog and its predecessor I feel there’s a limit to how much can be said of a spectrum that runs from lying politicians and their grant-grabber cronies through to more honest crooks.
My plan is to keep the blog going, with a reduced output, until the Senedd elections in May. When I hope to see signs of our people rejecting the Corruption Bay consensus that’s destroying Wales.
For while I still entertain hope of events external to Wales having influence it would be encouraging to see from within a desire for the radical change this country needs. Something of substance and lasting impact.
But if Welsh people continue voting for Labour and Plaid Cymru, parties with absurd priorities divorced from Wales’ true needs, then Wales will soon be finished as anything other than a tourist destination.
♦ end ♦
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I had planned another piece on May’s Senedd elections, but my plans changed when I learned of a big investment promised for the capital of the Cheshire Riviera . . . which the indigenes insist on calling Abersoch.
To accompany this new story I have a big update on Llanbedr International Airport complemented by reports from Gwynfryn, and Bryn Llys (aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’).
Verily, our cup runneth over!
I’ve written about Llanbedr Airfield a few times before. Try ‘Come fly with me‘, from January.
The Llanbedr site was bought by the Welsh Development Agency 31 March, 2006 from the Ministry of Defence, for £700,000. Here’s the title document. It was then leased, 31 May, 2012, for 125 years, for £887,000 plus VAT, to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP (since renamed Snowdonia Aerospace LLP). Here’s the title document.
Now that might seem like a good bit of business, but it’s not. In fact, it’s one of those deals that makes a mockery of devolution.
Those clowns in Corruption Bay were forced to buy a site they didn’t want, and for which they had no use. They then had to pay for repairs and maintenance, keeping the place spruce until their masters in London produced favoured tenants.
As for the lease, it was paid for by the Ministry of Defence and The Welsh Ministers. Though for some reason only the MoD is shown on the title document. We need to go to the Companies House entry for Snowdonia Aerospace to learn of our generosity.
So we’ve paid twice for a white elephant. But it gets worse!
Snowdonia National Park has approved a by-pass for the village of Llanbedr, which will of course run close to the airfield. We read in this Cambrian News report: “Llanbedr, which lies between Barmouth and Harlech, suffers severe tailbacks during the height of summer with people visiting Shell Island.”
Which means that a great deal of public money is to be spent causing environmental damage in order to encourage more traffic to a foreign-owned campsite! What happened to environmentally conscious Wales?
I’ve got a better idea – let’s get rid of ‘Shell Island’. It caters for campers and caravans, providing everything they need, including a shop and a bar. It contributes little to the wider area other than petrol and diesel fumes.
Alternatively, seeing as the Workman family, owners of ‘Shell Island’, will be the main beneficiaries of this by-pass, shall we ask them to make a financial contribution?
But it’not just ‘Shell Island’. (Correct name, Mochras.) There are also locally-owned caravan sites marring the littoral. Many granted consent in the days of Merioneth County Council, when men of a ‘fraternal’ bent would shake hands and grant each other planning permission.
In this BBC piece we read, “Supporters of the 1.5km (one mile) bypass have claimed it will slash journey times by an hour, and boost investment by improving access to the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, a drone-testing facility at the former RAF Llanbedr airfield.”
The implication has to be that motorists experience one-hour traffic hold-ups in tiny Llanbedr, which is utter bollocks. I suggest the ‘supporters’ saying that may have inhaled too much traffic fumes, or something.
The second part hints at another reason for the by-pass. Though maybe I’m wrong to call it a by-pass, for a recent comment to an earlier piece of mine about Llanbedr airfield says: “And yes the Welsh Government is funding the Llanbedr bypass, which legally can’t be called a bypass as it has to be an access road to the airfield to qualify for grants. And no it doesn’t go to the airfield!”.
Which suggests that a lot of people are being misled, even screwed, over Llanbedr airfield.
This source also wrote (of the blog): “Just come across this article – excellent stuff. No mention though of RAF Brawdy in Pembrokeshire which the same people as at Llanbedr ran for a while before dissolving the company with outstanding charges against the Welsh Government.”
The company was Brawdy Business Park Ltd (Co No 3431529). And again, it took over a redundant military installation, promised lots of jobs, received grants and loans, created few jobs, folded the company and buggered off.
Will the same thing happen at Llanbedr?
Though ‘buggered off’ is not strictly true. For while the company, Brawdy Business Park Ltd, was certainly struck off in April 2013, the presence of those involved lingered on. Indeed, it lingers still.
If we look at the last Annual Return listing shareholders we see that by September 2011 all shares had been transferred to a company named Solutions for Storage Ltd. Which had changed its name in 2010 to Ocean Park Investments Ltd.
And as Brawdy Business Park sank, lead director Lee John Paul transferred to Ocean Park Investments.
The Brawdy site is now owned by Compass Point Estates LLP. Here’s the title document and plan. And guess who we find as Compass Point Estates directors? – Lee John Paul and Ocean Park Investments. Also, Putney Investments of Queensland, Australia, operating out of the Isle of Man.
‘Now you see us, now you don’t – but we’re still here under different names!’
And that’s what we see at Llanbedr. Where we have Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, which you’ll remember received the loan from the ‘Welsh Government’ to, er, take out a lease with the ‘Welsh Government’; and since October 2019 we’ve also had Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP.
And who do we find as directors of the new company? Who else? – Lee John Paul, Ocean Park Investments, and Putney Investments.
Compass Point Estates has made two loans to Snowdonia Aerospace Estates. But why should that be necessary with the same people controlling both? (Because on October 1 Lee John Paul and Putney Investments took control of the two LLPs.)
My concerns are due to the fact that LLPs can be tricky beasts. “Partners in an LLP are not personally liable when the business cannot pay its debts; instead, their liability is limited to the capital they have invested into the LLP.”
So, if there’s no capital left in the LLP to which the loan was made then, when it folds, and everything is claimed by the new LLP, the clowns of Corruption Bay might struggle to get our money back.
Shall we see a repeat of Brawdy Business Park at Llanbedr, where the same people end up owning everything but under different labels?
Watch this space.
THE PHOENIX HOTEL, ABERSOCH
I’ve written about Abersoch more than once. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish it was still the sleepy Llŷn fishing village it once was, but it has been ‘discovered’.
By the ‘Cheshire Set’. Which includes those who’ve made a few bob in Liverpool or Manchester and want to flaunt it with a big house and a Range Rover in the drive in an upmarket Cheshire village. One of those communities where new developments are discouraged to the point of being almost forbidden.
Which in turn results in houses being built in north east Wales and along the A55 to accommodate those who can’t afford the entrance fee to the Cheshire Set.
In Abersoch itself we recently saw a former council property put on the market with an asking price of £385,000. Of course, no local will be able to buy it. A reminder of how tourism is destroying Welsh communities.
But we are going to focus on the site of the former White House Hotel.
This establishment closed in 2004 or 2005, inevitably fell into disrepair, and was eventually demolished in the early part of 2016. In the report I’ve linked to we read, “A 40-bedroom hotel and spa will now be built in its place and is set to open in 2018”.
The owner was named as Broomco, of Surrey. At 31 December, 2019 the unaudited Broomco accounts show that money owed by debtors was exceeded by money owed to creditors to the tune of some £250,000.
Broomco’s major asset would appear to be ‘freehold property’ valued at £1,236,224. Which is presumably the site of the former White House Hotel.
The promised hotel and spa did not materialise, but now other exciting plans have emerged for the site. Well, obviously, I’m not excited, but some people seem to be getting worked up over the proposal. Here’s a report from the Daily Post website.
There’s a lot of information in the report; yet despite that, or maybe because of it, it still raises many questions. Or maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, some dude called Charlie Openshaw has rocked up, and we read: “Mr Openshaw says his firms are both contractors and developers. He says the developer is Providence Gate and the contractor is CL Projects.”
What can we learn of these companies?
Let’s start with Providence Gate. There are five companies of that name, all formed between August and November this year. All with the same three directors; Charles Marshall Openshaw, Anthony John Hayton, and William James Abram. Being so new there’s obviously little information available, though Providence Gate Developments Ltd has already taken out loans with Crowd Property Ltd.
The majority shareholder in Crowd Property is investment guru Simon Zutshi.
Turning to the other company mentioned by Charlie Openshaw, C L Projects Facilities Management Ltd, we see that this company has a long and glorious history, stretching back to its formation in July 2017, when it was known as C L Chorley Ltd.
The name changed in April this year when the three musketeers climbed aboard. Until then it was filing as a dormant company. Openshaw, Hayton and Abram are joined around the mahogany boardroom table by Robert Wood, also recruited in April.
So, to all intents and purposes, C L Projects Facilities Management Ltd is another company formed in 2020.
Which seems straightforward enough – a group of property investors spot an opening and come up with an imaginative plan. But it’s not that simple. Is it ever?
To begin with, and according to the Land Registry, the site is still owned by Broomco. So either Charlie Openshaw and his mates are working with Broomco, or else they are yet to buy the site from that company. Here’s the title document and plan.
We’ve seen that the company named as the developer is Providence Gate Developments. But this, and the other companies sharing the name, Providence Gate Titon Ltd, Providence Gate Stalmine Ltd, and Providence Gate Bretherton Ltd are all owned by Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd.
So who owns Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd, formed just last month? At the risk of confusing you . . .
The shareholders in Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd are shown in the panel below, information that comes from the Confirmation Statement made to Companies House on 30 November. Just days before the big publicity splash.
Clearly, Openshaw and Hayton have other companies, in their own names. While Marbauk Ltd is William Abram’s new company. So it’s the three amigos again.
Just to keep you filled in – or confuse you further – Abram has another new company in WA Construction Consultancy Ltd.
Openshaw Group Holdings Ltd began life April 9 as Lockside Investments Ltd, with Openshaw’s partner Anthony John Hayton as director. Openshaw took over April 14. Hayton obviously relinquished control to set up Hayton Group Holdings Ltd April 15.
Which leaves the final name we see in the panel above, Bahadvr Group Holdings Ltd. This is the company of Ismael Bahadur, formed in August 2018, and it files as a dormant company.
There are a few other ‘Bahadvr’ companies, all recent, a few dissolved.
These new creations of the three principals own all the shares in CLProjectsUK Limited. Which began life in August 2016 as Clifford Lewis Aluminium Limited. The name changed April 28, 2018.
This company is in the business of metal doors and windows.
Let’s recap. We have a host of new companies set up by or taken over by Openshaw, Hayton and Abram. But little or nothing further back than 2016. So what were our bonny boys doing before then?
The winding up process for Rooftop Solutions began in Bolton County Court in July 2012. There were three outstanding charges at the death. The decision to wind up Rooftop Solutions and Consultancy Services Ltd was taken in August 2009, when the company owed £485,922.00.
Other companies Openshaw was involved with around that time, which also went belly-up owing lots of money, were RBC (Manchester) Ltd and Rooftop Group Ltd.
None of these companies seemed to last more than two or three years. And there seems to be a gap of five or six years between these earlier companies and the recent rash of new companies.
A co-director with Charlie Openshaw in these earlier companies was Neil James Collier. Who blamed his bad luck in business for going on the rampage at a Chester hotel a couple of years ago.
To sum up, the ‘saviours’ of the White House Hotel – or at least the site – seem to come from a background of replacement doors and windows, or roofing. More recently, they appear to have aligned with people from a finance background. But do they have what it takes to complete a prestige project in Wilmslow-sur-Mer?
Charles Marshal Openshaw makes it sound so simple – his companies are going to build an ‘international landmark’ hotel on the site of the White House Hotel.
But, for a start, he doesn’t even own the site. And once we start looking into his companies we find other companies behind them . . . and other companies behind the companies behind them . . . and companies behind the companies behind the companies behind . . .
If I was Cyngor Gwynedd, I’d sit Charles Marshall Openshaw down in a comfy chair, give him tea and biccies, pat his knee and say, ‘Now, Charlie, tell us who’s really behind this project’.
And I wouldn’t give planning permission until I had satisfactory answers.
Regular readers will be familiar with that name. It refers to an old gentry mansion near Llanystumdwy, which served a number of purposes after its glory days until, as a hotel, it catched afire in 1982.
This update is in three parts. First, Philip Andrew Bush seems to have been a naughty boy, travelling up to Gwynfryn from Kent during lockdown. Second, the planning application for 25 residential units in what’s left of the mansion has now been submitted. Third, the young developers we met earlier have started a raft of new companies.
Maybe I should explain that until fairly recently Bush owned both the house and the land around, but he sold the ruin to his pal Aaron Hill, who’s also an associate of the Bryn Llys gang, a crew we’ll meet in the next section.
Bush is now pestering neighbours over a non-existent right of way, and making a nuisance of himself. It’s rumoured he wants to make some money by building something in the Bryn Llys grounds.
Access will be a big issue for any project of Hill’s, and for the residential units. Which explains his desire to knock down walls and find another route onto his land. He’s getting desperate, for the clock is ticking . . .
Let’s turn to the planning application. Which is dated 03/12/2020. A passer-by kindly sent me a photo of the public notice affixed to some railings.
Though what I find strange is that the planning application itself is dated 14/02/2020. with a ‘validation’ date of 20/11/2020. Read it for yourself.
There’s something very amateurish about this planning application. To begin with, it keeps referring to “the castle”. Has whoever compiled this document been reading too much Kafka, or has he never seen the building? Because it’s a 19th century house with a bit of crenellation for effect.
I’m sure the natives could get a bit stroppy back then but I’m equally sure the squire didn’t need a castle.
Then, in the Design and Access Statement, Section 6, the writer quotes English Heritage! Has it escaped him that Gwynfryn is in Wales?
Something else that caught my eye was in the planning application document itself (21), where it seems to suggest that there are currently 5 full-time and 3 part-time employees at the Gwynfryn ruin.
Are they including the Bryn Llys gang, who have helped out? Or are they counting the bunny-wunnies?
Gwynfryn is another of those projects where there are many fingers in the pie. And among these digits are those belonging to James Armstrong and Anthony Wilmott.
As I wrote back in October, ” . . . the developers’ in this instance are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong. The latter has a company called Acquérir Ltd; Wilmott has a few companies of his own; but they get together in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd.”
Since I wrote that, Wilmott and Armstrong have launched three more companies. These are: Armstrong Wilmott Developments Ltd, Armstrong Wilmott Holdings Ltd, and Armstrong Wilmott Construction Ltd. All three formed 22 October.
Now doubt it’s only a matter of time before we’re in another maze of companies at Gwynfryn in which council planners will get lost . . . if they even venture in.
BRYN LLYS AKA ‘SNOWDON SUMMIT VIEW’
We left off with the Bryn Llys saga when capo di tutti capi Jon Duggan appeared before the bench in Caernarfon. His dogs had got out – again – and attacked a neighbour’s chickens.
Despite being victimised – the poor man always is – he had to cough up £1,002.00.
As it was given to me: “He complained that he was before the same magistrates who heard the Shane Baker excavator driving, criminal damage case (Baker is one of Duggan’s ‘soldiers’) but was told that this was an entirely separate case. Mr. Duggan likes to imply that he will not get a fair hearing and is picked upon by police, council officials and others. He also accused the neighbours of filming his children, another one of his tactics is making unfounded, malicious allegations about anyone who does not give in to him.”
But he could be facing another court appearance in the near future.
You’ll recall that Duggan and a few associates were in court in August for breaching an enforcement notice. (The poor man being victimised again!)
Here we see Duggan, on the day of the court appearance, with his wife at his side, his half-brother Scott Smith facing him, while the fourth man is Andrew Battye, who we are asked to believe owns Bryn Llys aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’.
Nobody does believe it, and certainly not Battye.
In one of the more bizarre deals I have covered on this blog, Duggan bought land from Aaron Hill (who got a mention just now at Gwynfryn). But because Duggan is supposedly without assets, Hill loaned him the money to buy the land!
After buying the land Duggan laid an unauthorised road, and he was instructed to remove it and undertake remedial work. The deadline for compliance was 20 November. Of course, Duggan has not complied.
Gwynedd planners have been informed of Duggan’s non-compliance. Now it’s up to them to do their job. No more, no less.
♦ end ♦
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
We begin our story at number 13 on Blaenau Ffestiniog High Street, where we find the charity shop, Grandma’s Attic Community Project. Next door at number 14, we see their drop-in centre. While down the road in Porthmadog we find another charity shop and a tea-room.
Grandma’s Attic accepts antiques and bric-a-brac, and it also solicits donations of money. Which it’s said is then used to provide skills, qualifications and employment for those ‘excluded’ by society. All worthy stuff.
But let’s tarry awhile on the website, because there’s always information available.
Starting with the ‘About’ page, where we read: “Launched in February 2018, Grandma’s Attic Community Project is a registered charity (number 1188377).”
Which is not true. It may even be deliberately misleading.
What was registered in February, 2018 was the company Grandma’s Attic Community Project Limited. Which was struck off voluntarily – by its director – in December, 2018.
The charity, Grandma’s Attic Community Project, was not registered with the Charity Commission until 6 March, 2020. What’s more, it’s a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) rather than a traditional charity. I’ll explain the difference in the next section.
There’s another company, Grandma’s Attic Community Project Trading Limited, which was Incorporated 6 September, 2018 as Grandma’s Attic Community Project Blaenau Ffestiniog Limited. The name changed in March this year.
A move that was clearly linked with the registration of the charity.
Also connected with the registration of the charity is the award of £10,000 from the (Lottery) Community Fund for a community transport scheme.
As I know from personal experience, bodies dishing out moolah like to see that you’ve made some effort yourself to raise money, and that’s what Grandma’s Attic did. But even with publicity in the local press the appeal was struggling until it received an anonymous donation of £2,091.
What an odd amount!
Without that donation the figure raised was just £180, and £50 of that came from an earlier anonymous donation. There seems to have been very little local support for this ‘local’ initiative.
Something else worth mentioning is that Grandma’s Attic Community Project Trading Ltd is not a Community Interest Company (CIC). Though it might be trying to give that impression by using ‘Community’ in its name.
Sticking with the website . . .
Awarding qualifications few people have heard of, and may even be worthless, is still big business, there are hundreds if not thousands of companies offering such ‘qualifications’. It’s a racket.
On Grandma’s Attic we find two organisations. ASDAN and SafeCert.
As these outfits go, ASDAN seems kosher. On its website it describes itself as an “awarding organisation”. One of the thousands.
The other logo belongs to ‘SafeCert’, the full name of which is SafeCert Awards Ltd, and it’s based in Omagh, County Tyrone. From where it’s run by Scotsman Paul Horsburgh.
On the home page of the website we read: “We are an Awarding Body through CCEA Accreditation for Northern Ireland, SQA Accreditation that provide a registration and certification service for centres and trainers in Scotland. We await approval through OfQual for England“. (My emphases.)
No mention of Wales, where accreditation would be required from the Credit and Qualifications Framework (CQFW). Which might explain why – unlike ASDAN – SafeCert does not appear on the latest CQFW database of September 2020.
This throws up a disturbing possibility.
If Grandma’s Attic is giving children and young people courses in first aid and other subjects designed by SafeCert Awards Ltd, and issuing certificates from the same source, then these may not be recognised in Wales.
WHAT IS A CHARITABLE INCORPORATED BODY?
Over the years I must have looked at hundreds of charities. The usual arrangement is that the charity complements a company of the same name. With accounts submitted to both Companies House and the Charity Commission.
The company – usually a private limited company – is often the ‘trading arm’ of the charity. And the directors of the company will be the trustees of the charity.
A local example would be the Talyllyn Railway. The company is Talyllyn Holdings Ltd and the charity has the same name. The Charity Commission tells us that Talyllyn Holdings is a ‘charitable company’, and it gives the company number to cross reference with Companies House.
This is the usual way. So why has Grandma’s Attic gone for the recently introduced (2013) Charitable Incorporated Body?
You might find the answer here in, ‘What are the benefits of being a CIO instead of a CIC?’ Or here in, ‘Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO): Is it a Suitable Structure for Your Charity?’
Fundamentally, the Grandma’s Attic charity was set up because a CIO has advantages over a CIC. Not least because charities are more likely to get grants. We’ve already seen how charity status has worked with the £10,000 funding for the community bus.
That grant may have even been conditional on Grandma’s Attic becoming a charity.
As it’s explained in the first of the links provided:
“The charity would be eligible to apply to a lot more trusts and foundations that only give grants to registered charities. From a VAT perspective, certain activities delivered via a charity qualify for concessions, and charities don’t pay stamp duty land tax when purchasing properties or leases.”
On the assumption that the properties in Blaenau and Porthmadog are rented or leased, I take this to mean that cheaper leases can now be entered into. While property purchased in the name of Grandma’s Attic will not need to pay Land Transaction Tax.
We also read:
“You’re also more likely to get 100% rate relief – but at the very least you’ll get 80%.”
If I’ve read that correctly, then the tea-room recently opened in Porthmadog could qualify for rate relief on the grounds that it is part of the charity. Which would give it an advantage over long-established eateries in the town. And go some way to explaining why I’ve received complaints from Porthmadog.
But all charities get these advantages. What gives a CIO the edge over a traditional charity is that it’s easier and quicker to set up, and can be done with no money. And of course it doesn’t need to submit anything to Companies House.
Finally, as we read in the second link:
” . . . if things go wrong, the members and trustees are generally not personally liable for any debts or other liabilities that the CIO incurs that are greater than the charity’s assets.”
That could prove useful.
Now it’s time to meet the cast. Turning to the entry on the Charity Commission website we can dismiss two of the trustees because they’re young locals employed part time by Grandma’s Attic.
For our purposes we need to concentrate on two whose names we’ve already encountered in an image shown above. I mean Samantha Mountford-Tilley and Gary Halford, who I assume are a couple.
But before that, I need to mention a further trustee, one who is neither local nor one of the ‘family’, a larger-than-life figure.
I’m talking here of Lee ‘Wide Load’ Jobber. As you can see, Lee’s a big lad, and he beats the drum for Leicester City Football Club. Though quite how he fits into the Grandma’s Attic set-up is not clear.
He certainly hasn’t moved to Gwynedd.
Is his presence as a trustee viewed as some kind of celebrity endorsement?
To help me make sense of the backgrounds of those involved with Grandma’s Attic, I compiled a table of the companies they’ve been involved with over the past decade. It paints a rather worrying picture.
You’ll find the table below. Links are provided for the more recent companies in the pdf version but the older ones are not accessible through the normal Companies House portal.
After collecting these facts there are a number of concerns.
First, we see a pattern that crops up a lot on this blog – start a company, use the name, fold the company. It’s a tactic used by money launderers and by others, such as the gang at Bryn Llys / ‘Snowdon Summit View’.
The Bryn Llys gang are professional fraudsters. They start companies, open credit accounts with suppliers, place big orders, then flog off the goods delivered; finally, they strike off the company themselves or let creditors do it when they refuse to pay for the goods supplied, or for anything else. (HMRC is a creditor.)
I’m not suggesting that this is what’s happening at Grandma’s Attic. But so many short-lived companies is rarely an encouraging sign.
Though what I find really odd is that, despite having been struck off, some of these companies linked with Granny’s Attic still seem to exist in some ethereal form.
Let’s look at images I’ve plucked from the internet (and there are plenty more) which suggest that the names of companies dead to Companies House are still being used. And that these ‘ghosts’ operate out of Grandma’s Attic.
These are Guildhall Antique Fairs, Guildhall Fairs, and Antiques to Shabby Chic.
Click on any image to enlarge the images in the slideshow. Click on the X in the top right to return to the blog.
Guildhall Fairs and Guildhall Antique Fairs are still running shows since the move from Leicester to Blaenau. So is paperwork being issued in the names of companies that no longer exist?
Or is it cash only?
Another mystery is why Gary Halford is named in a number of the advertisements I found online yet he has never been a director of any of the ‘Guildhall’ companies.
Why did Gary Halford and Samantha Mountford-Tilley leave a relatively prosperous city in England to move to a deprived former slate-quarrying town in Gwynedd?
That move is even more curious, and inconvenient, when we realise that they are still organising fairs and antique sales in eastern England. Obviously, these activities have been curtailed by Covid-19, but there are presumably online sales.
Halford and Mountford-Tilley seem to have been in Blaenau for two years or so before the idea of ‘good works’ occurred to them.
But how much has this charitable activity raised? We know they didn’t raise much themselves towards the community bus.
The table of companies above shows a surplus of £603 on a turnover of £15,785 for Grandma’s Attic Community Project Trading Ltd. With £9,344 going on ‘Administrative expenses’, and another £5,697 on ‘Cost of sales’.
As for ‘Administrative expenses’, shouldn’t Halford and Mountford-Tilley be giving their time free of charge? It was their idea to set up Grandma’s Attic as a ‘Community’ company.
Another worry is that commercial enterprises are operating out of the same premises as a charity collecting donations from the public. There are two issues here.
First, there’s the obvious financial benefit of not having to pay council tax on business premises because those premises are registered as a charity shop. There may be other benefits.
The other worry is that private companies sharing premises with a charity collecting the same things could easily result in mix-ups. A valuable item donated to the charity could end up being sold by one of the ‘ghost’ companies at an antiques fair in England.
Despite the modest figures we have seen declared money must be coming in from somewhere. Gary Halford and Samantha Mountford Tilley have already bought one property in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Admittedly, they only paid £86,000, but they didn’t need a loan or a mortgage to make the purchase.
Sources tell me they now plan to buy a much larger property, one that has appeared on this blog. The Market Hall featured in a round-up in July 2019. Click here and scroll down to the section ‘Blaenau Ffestiniog’.
If the rumours are true, then what will this building be used for?
Everything may be hunky-dory at Grandma’s Attic and it may do exactly what it says on the tin.
But questions certainly need to be asked about the courses and qualifications on offer from Grandma’s Attic.
Grandma’s Attic must not be allowed to threaten the financial viability of tax-paying local establishments through exploiting its charitable status.
The charity Grandma’s Attic and the private business of antiques fairs and other ventures must be kept entirely separate, and run from different premises.
Until there is clarification on these issues, and local people are reassured, it might be best if official bodies, funding agencies, and others, proceed with caution.
♦ end ♦
UPDATE 07.12.2020: Yesterday Grandma’s Attic issued a press release. Read it here.
In it, you’ll read, “From the inception of Grandma’s Attic our charity shop was our source of income to ensure that we were able to make enough money to provide our community-based services.”
Are they saying that a ‘charity shop’ is also a private business and a source of personal income, with no one checking that the two are kept separate? If there is some other interpretation, then I look forward to hearing it.
Also, I read no attempt to address the issue of first aid certificates being awarded in the name of SafeCert, which is not recognised in Wales. Nor was there an attempt to explain why Leicester City super-fan Lee Jobber is a trustee.
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 you’ll find updates on old favourites plus some new faces. Combined they’ll provide a sobering read and a reminder of what a mess Wales is in, due partly to useless, lying politicians down Corruption Bay.
This fine old mansion that I’ve written about so many times in recent years in the Weep for Wales series has been sold. Also, the Seiont Manor.
At one time both were owned by Paul and Rowena Williams, but they ran into problems and soon had ‘partners’ in their hour of need. In the form of Myles Cunliffe and his oppo, the ‘King of Marbella’, Jon Disley, always looking for companies in trouble.
And now they’re all gone.
I look forward to learning the identity of the new owners, but I’m fairly sure that he / she / they will fall into one of the following categories. We can but hope that it’s the third.
TRANSPORT FOR WALES GOES OFF THE RAILS
You’ll remember that the Wales and Borders rail franchise was run for some years by Arriva Trains. There were many critics. So when the franchise came up for renewal a couple of years ago it was awarded to French-Spanish partnership KeolisAmey.
That didn’t work out either, with KeolisAmey being fined £3.2m in January for its poor service, with Covid adding more misery through falling passenger numbers. Now the rail service is being nationalised by the ‘Welsh Government’.
Despite my right of centre views on economic and other matters, I believe that essential services should be run by the state as national assets. With one condition, and that is that these services should be run by people who know what they’re doing.
That will not happen in Wales. The statist majority in Corruption Bay has taken over the railways not to provide a better service but because they’re control freaks. Don’t be surprised if the signalling system is handed over to a third sector body approved by lobbyists Deryn.
Unbeknownst to most of those who drive under Machynlleth’s railway bridge, there is a depot nearby where the trains from the Cambrian Coast and the Aberystwyth-Shrewsbury lines are brought overnight for cleaning, maintenance, and repair.
It’s a major employer in the town. (But perhaps not for much longer, thanks to Transport for Wales. An issue I might return to in a later post.)
Two men have been hanging around Mach’ railway station for a few weeks. For a while, no one knew who they were, or what they were doing. I think I now have the story.
As part of the Covid-19 arrangements extra portakabins were brought in for the staff. Hired from a company called W H Welfare, part of the Kelling Group of Normanton, in West Yorkshire, a few miles south east of Leeds.
The two mystery men are security guards who came with the portakabins. The problem being that the portakabins are inside the compound, behind the security gate, and the portakabin guards do have not have clearance to enter the compound. So they’re stuck outside, and to look useful, or just to while away the time, they seem to turn up to meet the trains.
But Machynlleth ain’t Grand Central Station. So that doesn’t give them much to do.
Now these two security men must be staying locally, which means that their wages and accommodation will be included in the portakabin hire charge.
The incompetence doesn’t end there. The portakabins run on a generator – a petrol generator. There is no petrol on site except in the workers’ cars. Everything else is diesel.
Am I making this up? No. Am I drunk? How dare you!
So, we have two men at a small Welsh railway station, doing sod all, but costing a lot of money. Because of course it’s all being paid for by Transport for Wales. Which means the ‘Welsh Government’. Which means you and me.
It’s reasonable to assume that Machynlleth isn’t the only station or depot for which these portakabins were hired. Plus of course the security men. So how much money is being squandered in this way?
And come to that, is there nowhere in Wales where portakabins could have been sourced? And sourced cheaper? I’m sure there is. Which means that in addition to the incompetence we have the issue of a ‘Welsh Government’ agency sending money out of Wales.
It looks as if someone in Transport for Wales has made a massive cock-up. Or is someone getting a backhander from a firm in West Yorkshire?
Last month I brought you the tale of yet another foreign-owned windfarm being dumped on Wales with the enthusiastic support of the planet-savers in the ‘Welsh Government’ and Plaid Cymru.
You’ll find it here, just scroll down to the section, “Another ‘Community-owned, local benefits’ wind farm. Not”.
As you can see from the link, the website is very basic, perhaps explained by the fact that Companies House tells us Coriolis Energy is almost £100,000 in debt.
It’s difficult to figure out why ESB needs Coriolis. Maybe it’s to fulfil a similar role to that of Invis Energy of County Cork, which has been working on Meenbog wind farm, on the Donegal-Tyrone border.
Where there was recently a massive slippage of peat into the Mourne Beg river, part of the Foyle system. Just watch the trees go sailing by in the video!
The lesson here is that erecting bloody big wind turbines, each one sunk into thousands of tons of concrete, will have consequences when such idiocy is encouraged in sensitive environments.
Such as Irish peat bogs, and Welsh hillsides from which thousands upon thousands of rain-absorbing trees have been cut, and from which acres of equally absorbent peat has been removed.
Another worry for those living close to the proposed development on Mynydd Margam is that the planned turbines will be 750 tall. As any child playing with blocks will tell you, the higher you try to build it, the more difficult it gets to keep it standing.
Which is why I was not surprised to learn from a regular correspondent in northern Sweden – who took time off from herding his reindeer – that a 755 foot turbine in his neck of the woods had recently come crashing down. Here’s a report from ABC News.
I believe a re-think is needed. Not just on this development on Margam Mountain but on all onshore wind developments in Wales. Because . . .
The ‘progressive’ parties have allowed – even encouraged – Wales to be exploited and cheated in this way just so that they could look virtuous to a certain lobby.
When it comes to serving England’s interests, things in Wales are not a lot different in the 21st century to earlier times. Just disguised by the gloss of devolution, and bullshit about ‘Wales saving the planet’.
But it’s the same old exploitation.
Where would a roundup like this be without a trip to Bryn Llys or, more specifically, Caernarfon magistrates court.
The latest of the Duggan gang to appear has been Jon Duggan himself, on November 16. His large dogs got out – again! – and attacked neighbours’ poultry. But of course, in the parallel universe inhabited by these clowns, it was probably the chickens’ fault.
I’m afraid I can’t link to any press report because I can’t find one. But Duggan was fined £300. Then there was compensation of £30, victim surcharge of £32, and CPS costs of £640. Making a grand total of £1,002.00.
I know those are the facts because my source is reliable, and I have even been supplied with a case number.
In related news, Bryn Llys Ltd is threatened with strike-off by Companies House. Though I suppose this company might have already served its purpose.
By which I mean the Duggan gang’s MO is to start a company, open bank accounts, sign up for credit accounts with assorted suppliers and then order goods and equipment, sell it all on, then let the company be struck off, or liquidate it, without paying for anything.
Finally, the deadline for Duggan to comply with the Enforcement Order and remove the unauthorised roadway he has laid on his recently acquired land was Friday, November 20. He has of course made no effort to comply. Cyngor Gwynedd has been informed.
This episode was covered in September, in ‘Bryn Llys, the Liverpool connection‘. That Liverpool connection was solicitor Kathryn Elizabeth Parry. She’d had her own company, Parry and Co Solicitors Limited, since liquidated; and now she’s a partner in a company formed in October last year, Victor Welsh Legal Limited.
A dicky-bird tells me that when Duggan appeared before the bench to answer for the Great Chicken Massacre he was accompanied by a female solicitor from Liverpool.
Over the years I’ve complained about Companies House being toothless, nothing more than a filing system, or a box-ticking exercise. Here’s a recent example that came to my attention in a roundabout sort of way.
Someone got in touch because they were angry at certain new properties in Llanarthne, a village just off the A40, roughly midway between Llandeilo and Carmarthen. These were four- and five-bed ‘executive homes’ in the Mulberry Grove development.
The development’s name, and the prices being asked, suggested that the developer was not anticipating many local buyers.
The company behind it was GS6, formed as recently as May 2018. The project had been funded, in part at least, by Emma Ruth Developments Limited. And it’s when I looked at this company that I got a bit of a shock.
The last accounts filed were for year ending 30 October 2016! And these showed a net book value of just £949.00.
Companies House made the gesture of compulsory strike-off towards the end of 2018, but it was discontinued after an objection. But in 2019 – nothing! And nothing in 2020 until I contacted them. The company is now scheduled for strike-off to begin December 1st.
The response I got a few days ago reads:
“I can advise that the company has already been reminded accordingly to deliver the outstanding accounts in accordance with the Companies Act 2006.
Our records show that accounts for the period ending 30/10/2017, 30/10/2018 and 30/10/2019 and also the confirmation statement for the period ending 14/06/2020 remain overdue and we are currently taking action to remove the company from the register.
In order to proceed with this course of action it is necessary to issue statutory letters to the company leading to a publication in the London Gazette.
Any objections against the proposed dissolution will be considered once the notice of our intention has been published in the London Gazette. All creditors and interested parties should be aware that objection must be in writing and need to be provided with supporting evidence.
Also, if you believe that the company or any of its employees have acted fraudulently then this matter should be reported to Investigation and Enforcement Services. The Company Investigations team within the Insolvency Service has the power to investigate limited companies where information received suggests corporate abuse; this may include serious misconduct, fraud, scams or sharp practice in the way a company operates. They have investigatory powers to look into the affairs of a company where this is evidence of fraud or misfeasance and can be contacted at
I’m not sure if Emma Ruth Developments has acted fraudulently but I’d like to know how a company that shouldn’t even be in existence is allowed to lend money to another company.
I might also ask why Companies House has done sod all for so long . . . but I’d be wasting my time.
Last week we were in Knighton, reading about a bunch of selfless people on a civilising mission. En passant I mentioned the Knighton Hotel, where once Paul Williams was cock o’ the walk . . . or something.
A source informs me that the old pile has been sold. And the new owner is Na’Ím Anís Paymán. A 26-year-old German citizen of German and Iranian Baha’i origins who grew up in Albania and studied at Cambridge. More in this brief autobiography.
In fact, he seems to be quite the self-publicist, with a number of videos online. But he still comes across as a likeable young man.
Paymán has formed a number of companies since 2015 and I have no reason to suspect that he’s anything other than a genuine young entrepreneur looking to make himself rich. An ambition that causes me no sleepless nights.
In the hope that it riles lefties, I’ll say it again: a genuine young entrepreneur looking to make himself rich.
If he does that by providing work for local people, if he uses local companies, tradesmen and suppliers, then all well and good.
If he takes a wrong path, then I’m sure I’ll be writing about him again.
I recently gave you the figures for amounts of Social Housing Grant (SHG) received by our Registered Social Landlords, otherwise known as housing associations. Here’s a link to the table I put together. (Scroll left?)
In the ten years 2010-2011 to 2019-2020 the headline figure for SHG was £966,608,902. Obviously, some RSLs got more than others, and none got more than Labour’s favourite RSL, where the CEO is the wife of a Cardiff Labour councillor.
For Wales & West Housing was handed the princely sum of £99,483,507.
I have since received the figures for RSL funding in addition to SHG, for the period 01.01.2010 to 31.10.2020. The funding covered is: Housing Finance Grant, Affordable Housing Grant, Rent to Own, Physical Adaptation Grant, Innovative Housing Programme (grant and loan), Land for Housing Scheme (loan) and Registered Social Landlord Loans.
Eleven local authorities received a total of £19,969,000. While our RSLs were given £370,738,000. Once again, the big winner was Wales & West, with £39,341,000.
Combining the funding from various pots gives us £1,337,346,982. That is £1.34bn.
Of which Wales & West has received £138,824,507. Just over 10% of all the funding given to some 30 or more active RSLs.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR MILFORD HAVEN?
The Milford Haven Waterway is one of the finest deep-water anchorages on Earth, and has been recognised as such for centuries. In recent times it has attracted oil and gas companies because their huge tankers can be easily accommodated.
The area also attracts its share of con men. Who can forget Admiral Wing Commander of the SAS Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen VC, Croix de Guerre, Iron Cross (1st Class), Purple Heart and the Order of Lenin, who planned to turn Fort Hubberstone in Milford Haven into a home for ex-service personnel.
Hot on the heels of the Camp Valour project at Fort Hubberstone came a group of ‘investors’ looking to buy a different fort, The Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock. I wrote about that in Old Defensible Barracks, and the imaginatively titled sequel, Old Defensible Barracks 2.
Those involved had not yet bought the Barracks when I first wrote about them, or certainly, the Land Registry had not been informed of a change of ownership. This has now been registered and we can see from the title document that the owners are Walker Property Developments Limited.
This company was launched 14.08.2018 as Muniment Yorkshire Ltd. It became Walker Property Developments 06.07.2019, before changing its name again 02.10.2019 to VR 1844 Limited.
I assume that VR stands for Victoria Regina and 1844 tells us that the Old Defensible Barracks was built in that year.
Despite the developers saying they planned to turn the old place into apartments (see the article below, and here in pdf format), I suspected that the real attraction was the closeness to the estuary, connecting with Brexit and the need for space to park lorries. Because there is an extensive piece of land between the Barracks and the water, clearly visible in the image above.
And of course, the Pembroke-Rosslare ferry is almost next door.
This suspicion was strengthened by the Singapore connection found with the directors of Walker Property Developments – including the eponymous Walker, who lives there – and Singaporean connections with another coastal site, in the Six Counties, and again, very close to ferry ports.
Lorry parks may still be the objective, but as I mentioned towards the end of the second article, there is also the possibilty of Milford Haven, or the whole Waterway, becoming a freeport. Which, again, could account for the interest from Singapore, which is perhaps the biggest freeport in the world.
Others have also been buying sections of the Waterway shoreline. With interest coming from equally exotic locations: Cyprus, Jordan . . . Carmarthenshire.
Let’s start in September 2015, with WalesOnline gilding a press release – no questions, no critical analysis. To believe the report, a company nobody’d heard of was going to bring 560 jobs to Milford Haven over the next five years through, “£685 million in a Centre of Renewable Energy Excellence”.
The company named in the fable was, “Cypriot-owned energy company” Egnedol Ltd. We were told it had bought the former Gulf refinery at Waterston and the neighbouring RNAD mine depot at Blackbridge.
The biomass facility planned for Blackbridge was turned down in June 2018.
I hedge my bets because there are caveats attaching to the ownership of both sites.
The Blackbridge site has received loans from Suleiman Al Daoud, of Amman, Jordan. Who in September became a director of Egnedol Wales Limited. So he could be said to now own the site. By the same token, he could also be said to own the oil refinery site.
UPDATE: I got to wondering about Suleiman Al Daoud. The Al Daoud Group is an established company that seems to concentrate on residential properties and retail complexes in Jordan.
I can’t find any evidence of the Group operating outside of Jordan. So what attracted Suleiman Al Daoud to Milford Haven?
Then there is yet another company, Egnedol UK Limited, which uses a Milford Haven address but with directors Dr Robert Prigmore and Steven Whitehouse living in the Ammanford area.
Prigmore and Whitehouse appear in the other Egnedol companies, together with Antonis Andrea Antoniadis, who maintains the Cyprus connection.
And if Cyprus and Jordan weren’t enough overseas involvement, Prigmore and Whitehouse have yet another company, Azolis UK Ltd, formed as recently as September this year, where we find two French directors.
Explained by the fact that this latest company is an offshoot or subsidiary of French renewables company Azolis, which has offices in Fontainebleau and Casablanca.
So, all this overseas interest in Milford Haven Waterway, what does it mean? What does the future hold? The possibilities appear to be:
One thing I guarantee. Whatever happens, it’ll be strangers reaping the benefits, as always. That’s the way Wales is run, and devolution has brought no improvement.
In fairness, the ‘Welsh Government’ may have no influence over what’s happening on the Milford Haven Waterway. It could all be planned at a higher level and those clowns might be told at a later date.
Then again, why bother!
♦ end ♦
One story I was counting on fell through, though I am assured that what will eventually be provided will be worth the wait.
And then, what you see below, the report from Knighton, just grew to the point where it took over and knocked out a couple of other topics I’d planned to cover.
A couple of weeks ago we met Darren Knipe, who starred in Miscellany 03.11.2020. Scroll down to the section ‘A Wandering Shyster I (after Gilbert & Sullivan)’.
More news has come in of Darren and a host of drifters and good-lifers trying to take over the border town of Tref y Clawdd / Knighton in central Powys.
First, let’s pad out Darren’s CV, for since writing the earlier piece I have learnt that he spent time in the City of my Dreams. When I say ‘time’ I do not mean as a resident of Cox’s Farm down on Oystermouth Road.
It seems that Darren first came to Wales to study at Aberystwyth University in 1990. Which reminds us that our universities have a lot to answer for. Having expanded beyond Wales’s needs they had to take in just about anybody to fill the places.
Which gave us the problem today of the areas around Lampeter, Aberystwyth and Bangor being infested with drug-wrecked loafers who forgot to go home.
At Aberystwyth Darren claims to have gained a joint honours degree in Economics, Finance and Accountancy, which resulted in him being offered the chance to become a stockbroker in the City of London. But he turned it down!
Why the hell would anyone study those subjects if they had no intention of going into business, banking or finance? It makes no sense. So what did Darren do next? I’ll let him tell you in his own words . . .
“I became an events promoter, and designed an accredited OCN training course at Pembrokeshire College in Music and Entertainment Technology which came 2nd in Country for the Times Education Award for Widening Participation.”
I ran my own nightclub in Swansea for a few years, called The Palace. Some of you may have jumped on a bus organised by local promoter, Ben, and come to one of his drum n bass nights.
I designed and toured a solar powered cinema/stage around UK festivals, called Star Bar. I then ran a mobile organic bar, called WonderBar, running an operation for up to 80,000 people.
I moved to Chester with my then wife, and helped design and deliver cultural events for an organisation that is now called Storyhouse. It is from doing this for nearly 10 years, that we formed our own company, Dark Olive, which produces and delivers production contracts for local authorities and Arts Council funded cultural organisations.”
The Palace referred to is the old Palace Theatre, a lovely little ‘flat iron’ building just up from High Street station. It’s fallen on hard times and a succession of owners has allowed the building to deteriorate. Instead of lending money to people who have no intention of saving the building, Swansea’s Labour council has finally pulled its finger out.
In June, 2002 a drinks licence was granted to Darren Knipe and the co-directors of their company The Palace Swansea Ltd.
At the time, Darren was living in Pembrokeshire, as were the other directors. Ian Stone could be found at Llawhaden, near Narberth, with Knipe living in the town itself; while the third director, James King, was at Llanfallteg, just outside Whitland. King doubled up as company secretary. Each of them held 500 £1 shares.
As with most if not all of Darren Knipe’s ventures, the night club did not last long, being compulsorily wound up towards the end of 2003 by The Commissioners of Customs and Excise under the Insolvency Act 1996.
Darren Knipe may claim, “I ran my own nightclub in Swansea for a few years”, but the Commissioners of Customs and Excise would disagree. His tenure of the theatre where Charlie Chaplin once trod the boards lasted about a year.
And ended in insolvency. He seems to have left that bit out.
As I told you in the earlier piece, after Pembrokeshire, Darren moved up to Aberystwyth before landing, around 2010, in Llandegla, west of Wrecsam, where a few companies sprang to life.
One was Datcloud Ltd, dissolved in the second half of 2016. Knipe’s partner in this venture was Duncan Charles Ion. Ion was also a member of the community council, which might explain how Knipe got the job as clerk.
I can’t be sure when he took up the job because the online records go back no further than March 2015. But he was definitely in post by then.
Darren Knipe left around the time of an external auditors’ report, but I’m sure there was no connection. He must think he’s still cut out for this kind of work because I hear he’s been angling for the clerk’s job with Knighton town council since he arrived in the area.
Here’s a link to that external auditors’ report. To turn the pages scroll down and use the arrows found at the bottom left.
After his stay in Llandegla Darren Knipe was on the move again and he landed in Llanfair Waterdine, which lies in Y Tiroedd Coll. Where he’s asked to be co-opted onto the community council.
Though his main focus is Knighton, where he has aligned himself with the settler element. Of whom there are quite a few.
Those I’m referring to are members of the English bourgeoisie who’ve imposed themselves on the area. They have plenty of money and too much time on their hands, so they feel they should be ‘doing something’.
Even if it means making nuisances of themselves and getting up people’s noses.
Their local citadel, from whence they sally forth to dispense wisdom, do good, and generally uplift benighted natives, is the Knighton and District Community Centre.
Locals tell me that in a previous era the community centre was like any other in a village or small town, with discos, rugby club dos, wedding receptions, etc.
But about twelve years ago a couple blew in from Hong Kong by the name of Christopher and Karen Plant. Where he had been a teacher for the UK military. Under the reign of the Plants locals were made to feel unwelcome, and so they drifted away.
For where locals had once bopped the night away, drinking pints from the pumps, under the Plants it became Sounds of Soweto and wine only – the beer pumps disappeared!
Someone has described the wine-drinking Plants to me as “sociopaths and bullies”. Which seems a bit strong, until we learn that the Plants had to sling their hook following allegations of . . . bullying.
And the beer pumps returned!
One talent these colons possess is that of being able to secure public funding. Over half a million pounds was handed over a few years back by the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ for a new community centre roof, after the local library moved in. Described to me as “the world’s most expensive box profile tin roof”.
My old mucker Dafydd El was there for the opening. Probably sent up by his boss, Little Kenny Skates, he of the pearly white gnashers.
Though most locals still feel unwelcome, for the bridgehead established by the Plants was soon strengthened. To the point where everyone now involved with the community centre has arrived from over the border.
I’ve even been supplied with a list of names and places of origin:
It’s quite frightening, isn’t it, how a small group can so completely take over the hub of a community that’s not theirs? Almost an invasion. No, it is an invasion.
Of course, the jobs are not full time, more pocket money and status jobs, but then, those we’re talking about don’t need the money, but they revel in the status. The recruitment system was explained thus: “Job descriptions are rigged to suit the person already lined up for the job, qualification is basically being middle class and from England.”
Some will read this and say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter where they come from . . . doing good work, blahdy blah’. Others will claim that it’s anti-English, but it’s not. A takeover so complete would be remarkable if it happened in any part of England.
Can you imagine a situation like this in a small town in Yorkshire, with ‘southerners’ taking over everything – and locals not raising hell! Yet we are supposed to be silent because they’re all English.
And note the ‘jobs’ that are being funded. Basically, to build up networks of people like themselves from which locals can be more effectively excluded.
But this selfless devotion to ‘their’ community don’t come cheap. To hire Knighton community centre for a Saturday evening is £210 – with bar and kitchen extra. In the community centre in Knucklas, about a mile away, run by the community council, hiring the new community centre (2013) on a Saturday night would cost you £75 all in.
But then, when you’re paying one of your friends £15 an hour . . .
The justification for the exorbitant charges at Knighton are that, “It’s cheap by London prices”. Yes, there must be a lot of competition from London venues.
I’ve mentioned the network-building ‘jobs’ but there is already a network in Knighton that extends beyond those we’ve encountered. Though this wider network is made up of the same kind of people, those who never miss an opportunity to put their virtue on public display.
For we are dealing here with do-gooders of the most exhibitionist variety.
Such as Angie Zelter, who we see in the photograph below. She lives in a big house in Knighton with her partner Camilla Saunders, who works in the third sector. (I bet that surprises you!)
For someone like her to protest, in Wales, about apartheid and ethnic cleansing, can only be accounted for by a complete absence of self-awareness.
Angie is also big in Extinction Rebellion, and has the arrest to prove it. She winters in New Zealand, and of course she flies to Aotearoa.
Then there’s Knighton and District Refugee Support Group. Though you have to marvel at the arrogance of people who’ve invited themselves into someone else’s country and then believe they have the right to invite others.
It may have been this crowd that attracted Michael Richer up from southern England a few months ago. Richer wanted to take over the empty Knighton Hotel for a while. If ‘Knighton Hotel’ rings a bell that’s because it was owned by our old friends Paul and Rowena Williams, who went on to Plas Glynllifon. (All covered in my ‘Weep for Wales’ series.)
Although Richer claimed to want the hotel for men and women in abusive relationships it was widely suspected that he intended bringing to Knighton migrants who’d landed on the south coast of England. That may still be the plan.
Housing migrants can be a very lucrative business. And quite easy when there is already a local network of leftists and do-gooders, as we see in Pembrokeshire. Anyone who opposes dozens or hundreds of undocumented young men being brought into a rural area becomes a ‘fascist’.
The fact that Richer’s company, Misan Traders Ltd, was set up only 7 or eight months before he showed up in Powys might suggest that he was looking at other buildings. Perhaps any old building he could hire or lease cheaply for a short period.
On Armistice Day the Knighton and District Refugee Support Group insisted on laying their white poppy wreaths against the war memorial itself, and clambered over the red poppy wreaths to do so.
The white poppy wreaths disappeared overnight.
This caused considerable consternation in the KDRSG, but must also have confirmed the ‘backwardness’ of the indigenous population.
The Councillor Angelique Williams mentioned in one of the images below meets Darren Knipe in Knighton’s Little Black Sheep cafe. Around this time last year Angie Williams left the Independent group on Powys County Council to join another . . . independent, sort of, group.
Whatever your views on poppies, and commemorations, this was yet another example of a small group of outsiders trying to over-ride the feelings of local people. Many of those local people are related to, even descended from, the men named on the war memorial
The same ‘We know best!’ arrogance crops up time after time after time. Another example would be the campaign against local farmers, the Price family, by Sustainable Food Knighton. The spokesperson for this group is Camilla Saunders, partner of jet-setting planet-saver Angie Zelter.
Just look at this report from the County Times. It seems to be the same people, in the same place, just different placards. Maybe they meet regularly and think, ‘What’s the next thing we can do to piss off the locals?’
But it’s not just the Price family they’re trying to put out of business – they want the ‘Welsh Government’ to outlaw what they call ‘intensive farming’. Most of them are of course vegetarians, if not vegans, so we know where this is heading.
Relations between the in-crowd and the town council are strained, due in large part to a curious incident not so long ago. As I’ve mentioned, the town’s library has relocated to the community centre. I’ll let a source take it up:
“Community (centre) ended up housing the library, they did a deal with the community council whereby the council would pay the librarian’s wages, only afterwards they did a deal with Powys (county council) who agreed to pay for the librarian, only they didn’t tell the community council and it was only when Powys threatened to close the library that community council found out that they were being cheated out of the money.”
‘O, what a tangled web . . .’.
But enough of the virtue flaunters and the schemers, the do-gooders and the planet savers, for we are neglecting Darren Knipe.
DARREN FINDS A FRIEND
Knipe claims that – with the help of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action – he will be bringing to Knighton the benefits of the UK government’s Kickstart scheme. Starting in January 2021.
Maybe the WCVA can confirm?
As I reported in my earlier piece, Knipe has threatened, “I can run this anywhere, and currently looking at Newtown and Welshpool as options, which will be Knighton’s loss.”
What he’s really saying is – ‘Give me the empty library building’.
The problem is that others want to use the building, chief among them, Banc Cambria, the new cooperative bank for Wales.
Knipe is telling people that Banc Cambria is not interested in the old library. But I have it on impeccable authority that Banc Cambria is most definitely interested in the building, and them taking it over would bring more long-term benefits to the town than any hare-brained scheme of Darren Knipe.
In addition to the memsahibs Darren has a new best friend in the form of Dr John Goodband, the husband of the vicar. Goodband recently came from Warwickshire when he married the vicar, Miss Beresford Webb, who had arrived in the area earlier.
And it should go without saying that he’s joined those wondering how Knighton managed before they arrived.
In this report from this week’s County Times we read of Goodband and Zelter opposing Banc Cambria and the town council. They even presented a petition with 67 signatures. Wow, 67 signatures!
I bet locals could guess most of the names on that petition!
There seems little doubt that Knighton town council is the next target of this gang.
News soon came from Warwickshire that Goodband was a repeat offender – for he had been attacking the parish council where he’d previously lived! Here’s a link to the Minutes of the Long Lawford Parish Council from February last year.
Goodband seems to be suggesting that Long Lawford Parish Council is part of the Corleone family, with the clerk trousering thousands of pounds!
As we’ve seen, allegations are now flying in Knighton, where his new mate Darren Knipe wants the job of clerk to the town council and the library building. Coincidence?
I’m no psychiatrist, so I don’t know what afflicts John Goodband. Is it just attention seeking, like a child throwing a tantrum? Does he have nothing better to do than accuse people he doesn’t know of things they haven’t done? Does it turn him on, is it a substitute for sex?
I really don’t care. When it comes to people like John Goodband I’m all out of sympathy, too many of them are washing up in Wales. And Knighton has more than its share. More than any small town deserves.
It would be bad enough if what we see in Tref y Clawdd was a one-off, unrepresentative of Wales as a whole, but it’s not.
Everywhere we look we see the same problem of Welsh people being patronised or insulted, and pushed aside by sharp-elbowed and arrogant immigrants. It’s no longer just about holiday homes. It never was.
And this deluge is being encouraged by the leftist consensus in Corruption Bay because our ‘progressives’ identify with these bullying charlatans better than they identify with Welsh people.
From the other side, neither the Conservative and Unionist Party nor any party on the BritNat fringe will object to Wales being colonised and assimilated into England.
♦ end ♦
A few weeks back I wrote Elections, May 2021, which some may have thought was a bit premature. Well, things have hotted up and there’s no doubting it now – the election campaign has definitely started!
THE ‘NATIONAL MOVEMENT’
In this piece I’m going to focus on elements of what is often referred to as ‘the national movement’. Partly because I’ve been part of this movement for over 50 years and partly because that’s where much of the action seems to be at the moment.
Let’s start with Yes Cymru, which has seen phenomenal growth this year, with the trend accelerating in recent weeks. But this growing interest in independence has not resulted in any increase in support for Plaid Cymru
In fact, according to the latest Welsh Political Barometer Poll Plaid Cymru remains in third place for the constituency vote next May (but up by 2%), and in the same position for the regional list vote (down by 1%).
The poll predicts Plaid will win 15 seats, and if Labour only wins the 25 predicted then we’re in for a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition. Five years of virtue signalling, pumping more money into the third sector, being told what to do by lobbyists and civil servants, while blaming every Tom Dick and Boris for Wales’ continuing economic and social woes.
In August, there had been a YouGov poll which suggested that, with Don’t knows removed, 51% of Labour voters would support independence if the option was put to them in a referendum. The same poll suggested that only 45% of those who voted for Plaid Cymru in December 2019 would definitely vote for independence.
Which highlights two problems for Plaid Cymru.
On the one hand, most of those who could be won over to independence do not vote for Plaid Cymru, and never will. While on the other hand, the party has in recent years attracted oddball cliques that see Plaid Cymru as just another mouthpiece for what really matters to them, and these have little or no interest in Wales or in Welsh independence.
This is bad news all round for Plaid Cymru, and yet it’s a problem that often afflicts socialist or ‘progressive’ parties, as this tweet, quoting Irish revolutionary, James Connolly, reminds us.
The message there, and certainly the lesson for Plaid Cymru, is that in Ireland, in the early twentieth century, the socialist movement stayed focused on Ireland, and independence. It did not allow itself to be sidetracked by cranks and dilettantes.
Plaid Cymru not benefiting from the growth in support for Yes Cymru, or from the increasing interest in the option of independence, explains them desperately pushing the idea that anyone leaning in that direction must vote for the party – because there is no alternative.
But when you think about the panel above, if Plaid Cymru was the party it pretends to be then it wouldn’t need people to ‘lend’ it their vote. Anyone wanting or even considering independence would already be a Plaid Cymru voter.
That Plaid’s support remains static, uninfluenced by the rise in support for independence, speaks volumes.
The argument used against these newcomers is that they will ‘split the nationalist vote’, which is laughable. By being unable to win over independence-minded supporters of other parties, and with so few in its own ranks wanting independence, Plaid Cymru is already splitting the nationalist vote.
Or, maybe, it has failed dismally to maximise the nationalist vote.
The truth is that the new parties can only increase the nationalist vote by attracting those who wouldn’t ‘lend’ their vote to Plaid Cymru if the offer came gift-wrapped and with a weekend in Tenby thrown in.
Plaid Cymru will, I’m sure, lose votes to Gwlad. I’m thinking of socially conservative nationalists who’ve stuck with the party despite the lurch to the left and who, more recently, have been alienated by the intolerant advocates of identity politics.
If these traditionalists desert in any substantial number then Plaid Cymru will be even more under the control of the aforementioned cranks and dilettantes. Irrespective of who is paraded as the party ‘leader’.
As for those Labour voters prepared to go for independence if a referendum was held, we know where they live. The great majority of them in the urban south between Burry Port and Blaenavon. And many of them voted for Brexit.
Yet Plaid Cymru has recently said that an independent Wales will be a member of the European Union, no ifs or buts. And with no mention of a referendum!
A political party talking down to those it claims to want as voters deserves to be rejected. But this contempt for the white working class seems to be the norm among socialist parties nowadays.
Though maybe some half-hearted effort will be made to reach out to the anglophone working class.
For Plaid Cymru recently applied to register a new descriptor with the Electoral Commission. That new descriptor is New Wales Party, NWP.
What a coincidence! For earlier last month the WNP applied to register as the Welsh Nation Party, WNP.
After I’d been alerted to it I put out the above tweet last Friday. On Monday, there was an article in Llais y Sais. Now why the hell would something apparently so minor justify such an article?
Though according to the article, the decision to apply to the Electoral Commission for the change was not made by the National Executive Committee of Plaid Cymru. So who was responsible? The cleaner at Tŷ Gwynfor?
Who’s running this show!
Something else that struck me about the article was that the writer, Martin Shipton, seemed to have forgotten that Plaid Cymru already had the English name Party of Wales. Is that to be dropped?
But it didn’t end with the article. There was even an editorial!
So much coverage for Plaid Cymru, insisting the change had been under discussion for yonks! A cynic might suggest it sounds like Plaid Cymru desperately trying to explain itself after being caught out in a spoiling tactic intended to confuse voters.
It also suggests that Martin Shipton might be going soft on Plaid Cymru.
Plaid Cymru’s shortcomings may be exposed to the world but it still has options for promoting itself and attacking rivals. Within Yes Cymru, Plaid Cymru supporters urge members to join the party, and last weekend we saw Plaid use an old subsidiary in the form of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (CyIG), the Welsh Language Society.
At the CyI AGM a motion was passed saying, “the pressure group would refuse to engage with anyone whom in their words: ‘promote and tolerate prejudice against any groups, be they LGBT +, black people, migrants or women’.”
And that included Gwlad!
An interesting choice of words, though. “Tolerate prejudice” rather than being prejudiced is straight from the BLM playbook, where not being racist isn’t enough. And I was struck by the use of “migrants” rather than ‘refugees’. Basically, anyone should be allowed to move anywhere without any checks.
Infantile, open borders, anti-Western drivel.
Though consistent. Because Cymdeithas yr Iaith wants Wales to be open to everybody. Which means that a group trying to keep Welsh alive as a community language seems unaware that the biggest threat to the language is inward migration to the language heartlands.
That motion suggests CyIG’s priority now is playing politics rather than saving the language.
Just like Plaid Cymru Cymdeithas suffers from the problem of grabbing off-the-shelf global positions and being unwilling or unable to modify them for Wales.
Look around Europe at small nations or minority groups, Basques, Corsicans and others. Yes, they have socialist parties or groups, but their socialism is used to benefit their people and promote their cause. Not so in Wales.
Saving the planet means covering Wales in foreign-owned wind turbines that create no jobs and put only crumbs into Welsh communities. While supporting migration makes it ‘racist’ to challenge the colonisation of Wales.
Which makes Wales unique in having ‘socialists’ unwilling to challenge colonialism in their own country!
Yet there’s humour in everything. And while Cymdeithas yr Iaith has clearly been infiltrated by the ‘wokies’ there remains the long and embarrassing shadow of Saunders Lewis.
Saunders Lewis was a founder member of Plaid Cymru, an academic, WWI veteran, a playwright, author, convert to Catholicism, and well to the right of the political centre. His 1962 radio lecture, Tynged yr Iaith (the Future of the Language) was the inspiration for the formation of Cymdeithas yr Iaith.
But the wokies cannot acknowledge Saunders Lewis. He cannot even be named! As we see in the panel below taken from the Society’s website.
It’s surely only a matter of time until the reference to “a leading academic” is also excised. I can see the next version – ‘Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg was formed at a congress of workers, peasants and intellectuals that had gathered to discuss sending volunteers to Cuba to fight US imperialist aggression’. Right on!
Joking aside, there’s little in the short term that Plaid Cymru, Yes Cymru, Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Gwlad or the WNP can do to bring Welsh independence nearer. I say that because factors beyond our control are likely to be much more influential.
I’m thinking now of Scottish independence, and the reaction to that of the Labour Party in Wales. Or perhaps it won’t be the party itself that puts Wales on the path to the final rupture but the party’s voters.
I’m suggesting that those who reject Plaid Cymru could help deliver independence. What irony that would be. So much for Plaid Cymru being ‘the only way’!
In the meantime, the UK state will do what it can to support Plaid Cymru. Because as I never tire of telling you, from London’s perspective Plaid Cymru is the ideal ‘national party’.
In a flattering light Plaid Cymru can pass for a national party, but its true benefit lies in its dog-in-a-manger role, blocking the emergence of genuine nationalist parties. Its leaders are biddable, easily seduced with peerages and other ‘honours’, but the party – and this extends to its subsidiary groups – is no threat whatsoever to the constitutional status quo or the colonisation of Wales.
For what more could Mother England ask?
IN OTHER NEWS . . .
Limbering up for May’s elections has not been confined to the disparate elements of the national movement, and confirmation of this has come from wildly differing directions.
Let’s start with an old favourite on this blog.
You’ll recall that a couple of years back, and by a substantial majority, members of the self-styled Wales Green Party voted against becoming . . . . the Wales Green Party. Thereby and irrevocably confirming that they were naught but the local branch of the Green Party of Englandandwales.
But lo! even these colonialist carpet-baggers have sensed the changing mood and are now in favour of Welsh independence! As reported here in Left Foot Forward. (Of which I am an avid reader.)
“Wales can stand alone”, says Siân Berry . . . but not, apparently, her party’s members in Wales. Driving this inconsistency ad absurdum we could have an independent Wales in which elections are contested by the Green Party of Englandandwales.
At the very least, and if only, for once, to be consistent, the Greens in Wales should now break from England to form a genuine Wales Green Party. To not do so makes them look like opportunists jumping on a bandwagon.
Let me explain what drives this new-found enthusiasm for our national liberation. For it dovetails perfectly with what attracts the oddballs, cranks and dilettantes I mentioned earlier to Plaid Cymru.
Under devolution, and especially with the virtue-signallers managing the show, pressure groups and assorted cranks have realised they can wield influence in Wales to an extent that would not be tolerated in better regulated countries.
This unwelcome phenomenon explains, for example, why we have One Planet Developments. Put simply, Wales is becoming internationally known as a ‘soft touch’.
The thinking therefore runs . . . ‘If we can get all this in a devolved Wales, then we could control an independent Wales’. Elections would be a minor inconvenience, for cohorts of Estuary English-speaking charlatans in Corruption Bay would control the political process and the spending priorities.
The only way out of this nightmare is to stop voting for politicians and political parties manipulated by people who simply want to use our country, and our money, to fulfil their fantasies.
In my earlier piece I told you about a new grouping called the Independent Alliance for Reform.
This has been formed by David Rowlands, who was elected in 2016 as the Ukip AM for South Wales East; Caroline Jones, elected at the same time for Ukip in South Wales West; and Mandy Jones, who took over the North Wales Ukip seat vacated when Nathan Gill resigned in 2018.
This could be a half-way house, and the word to emphasise may be Reform. I say that because the Electoral Commission’s website tells us that an application has recently been received, and is under consideration, to relaunch the Brexit Party as Reform UK.
If I’m right, then this would leave Neil Hamilton as the last man standing of the 7 that made up Ukip’s 2016 intake.
The other player for the Brexit / London-knows-best vote is of course the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. No doubt, some time between now and next May they’ll realise that what they seek to abolish has changed its name.
For the first time in a long time Welsh politics is looking interesting. Partly because of what’s happening in Wales, but mainly because of what’s happening in London, and Scotland, and elsewhere.
For the arrogance, ineptitude and corruption we see from the Conservative government in Westminster has done more to make Welsh independence an attractive proposition than anything happening in Wales.
With the SNP more likely to deliver Welsh independence than Plaid Cymru.
And while Wales voted for Brexit, we did not vote for the looming disaster that will make us even poorer, perhaps turning Holyhead and Fishguard into ghost towns.
All that being so, it really is time for Plaid Cymru to adopt a little humility and accept the realities of modern Wales. Which are:
1/ Plaid Cymru is not the only party or group advocating independence.
2/ Most of those coming around to the idea of independence do not vote for Plaid Cymru and are unlikely to ever vote for Plaid Cymru.
3/ The independence movement contains individuals, groups and political parties with which Plaid Cymru will not see eye to eye. Grow up and accept it!
4/ However, if ideological purity is more important than independence, and if Plaid Cymru continues to align itself with Unionist parties, cranks and others exploiting Wales, then it must expect to be regarded with suspicion.
5/ Ultimately, Plaid Cymru is faced with a simple choice. Either be part of the movement for Welsh independence, or else remain a self-deluding obstacle to achieving independence.
6/ Things are moving in ways that leave Welsh politicians impotent. So look beyond the Corruption Bay bubble, take in the bigger picture, and be ready to seize the opportunities that will surely come our way.
♦ end ♦
JAKE BERRY MP
We start with someone you all know, Ynys Môn landowner and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry.
I’ve written about Berry a number of times. It started when it was reported that, in May, during the first lockdown, he had broken the rules and gone to ground at his holiday home in Rhoscolyn. Yet still travelled regularly to London and his constituency.
More recently, now mindful of the wind direction, and still bitter at being sacked from the cabinet, Berry led a rebellion of sorts by a group of Tory MPs from northern English constituencies.
This did not go down well in No 10 and he was almost certainly reprimanded. (If not debagged and radished.)
So, on Saturday, he appeared in the Times with a ‘good man hard done by’ piece in the hope of gaining sympathy and detracting attention from his perceived treachery. (Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall.)
I have little interest in the machinations of the Conservative and Unionist Party, but in his orgy of self-pity he pointed a finger at those who had criticised his earlier behaviour, and in doing so he made some wild accusations.
The issue was not that he was a ‘newcomer’; the issue was breaking lockdown restrictions and lying about it. Or getting local MP, Virginia Crosbie, to lie for him.
As for the alleged threats to “burn the house down”, who made these threats? Or maybe the question should be – Did anybody make such a threat?
I invite North Wales Police to clarify whether or not they warned Jake Berry that he was a target for arsonists.
But even if he believed he was a target, why would Berry take a pickaxe handle to bed? It would be useless in the event of a fire.
The story took life on Twitter. With what seemed to be mainly anti-abortion Anglo-Catholics jumping in to support Berry, slag off the NHS (for the treatment of Berry’s wife), and of course attack would-be arsonists.
Among them was ‘Petra’. The account looks like a bot, but it still pointed me out as one of the “Ultra-nationalists”. Done in two tweets; or rather, the second seems to be the first re-written.
UPDATE: ‘Petra’ has left the building.
What is going on?
Anyway, on Saturday afternoon Gwlad put out a statement making it clear that neither that party nor I had made any threat against Jake Berry.
If Jake Berry believes his business dealings should remain private, if he thinks Welsh people should be ignorant of his growing property portfolio, if he believes rules are for little people, if he can’t take criticism, then he shouldn’t be an MP.
Saturday afternoon was a bit hectic, what with me trying to take in what Berry was suggesting while also watching the rugby (we lost), keeping up with the Swans score (won 2 – 0), and doing a few other things.
And then, by a strange coincidence, and to complicate matters further, I received unrelated information from a source in Berry’s constituency. To explain . . .
In a previous post I wrote about secret funders to the Conservative Party, The Portcullis Club and The United and Cecil Club. These are unincorporated associations, a legal loophole that allows funding to reach the party without anyone knowing the origin of that money.
The money usually goes to the constituency association, but not always. Sometimes it takes devious routes, such as we read about in this story. (‘Aide to Grant Shapps’! God Almighty! Imagine having to put that on your CV.)
I’ve dealt with similar deceits in my earlier pieces on Berry.
The report says that the £12,000 involved came via Rossendale and Darwen Portcullis Club. Yet the address given for this ‘donor’ is 6 Manitoba Court, London SE16 7AY, the address of Berry’s parliamentary researcher. Scroll down and click on the number in the left hand column.
Other underhand donations came from The Portcullis Club that year but without the name of the constituency. Though using the same London address.
But then, in 2017, The Portcullis Club seems to have found a local base at Whins House, near Clitheroe. The first mention I can find of Whins House in that connection is here (click on left hand column again). Though strangely, it’s just The Portcullis Club, with no mention of Rossendale and Darwen.
So, what do we know about Whins House?
Well, it’s not just The Portcullis Club that can be found there, for it was the original address for Palatine Hill Ltd. The officers / directors of which are Maria Bernadette Duckworth, Ford Bridge Farm Ltd, Duckworth Estate Company Ltd, with Paul Worrall Fitton as secretary.
So who are they?
Maria Bernadette Duckworth lives – or formerly lived – at Whins House, along with hubby Andrew John Duckworth. Ford Bridge Farm Ltd – aka Rhyd y Bont – is the company of Mr and Jake Mrs Berry, with their solicitor Fitton again serving as secretary. Duckworth Estate Company Ltd is, predictably, the Duckworths’ company.
I use the caveat in relation to the occupants of Whins House because it was for sale earlier this year. Probably linked with what I interpret to be the bankruptcy of Andrew John Duckworth, as suggested in B4 of the Land Registry title document. My source directed me to this report by way of explanation.
The linked companies with stakes in each other make it clear the Duckworths and the Berrys are close. With the Duckworths being quite happy to use their home address for the channelling to Jake Berry of funding from God knows where.
I’m sure their local MP will therefore find some way to return the favour in his friends’ hour of need. Perhaps he’ll add Whins House to his property portfolio.
This section takes us back a bit, to the days before Natural Resources Wales, when our woodlands were the responsibility of Forestry Commission Wales. It also takes us back to the time before OPDs were legalised with TAN 6, published in July 2010.
And it brings Objective One funding into the mix, reminding us how most of that EU funding was squandered.
The story seems to start in 1996, when Calon yn Tyfu was formed . . . as a ‘workers co-operative’ at Henparcau farm, near Boncath in north Pembrokeshire. Certainly, the company was Incorporated in March of that year.
The website tells us: “Having run an organic fruit vegetable holding at Henparcau for over 15 years, we decided to give the lands and ourselves a rest in 2010 after a frozen winter where we lost our winter crops we refocused towards the woodland work.”
This change of course was possible thanks to the acquisition of Ffynone and Cilgwyn woodland, part of the old Ffynone estate. Over 300 acres then in the stewardship of Forestry Commission Wales, which was distributing some of the Objective One bonanza under a scheme called Cydcoed.
In this report Nick Powell of ITV Wales quotes someone describing Cydcoed as, ‘one of the most successful Objective One programmes that ran in Wales … it used woodlands to provide new jobs and opportunities, promote healthy recreation, education and conservation’. It boasts that ‘more than 160 community groups across some of the poorest areas of Wales benefited’.
The subsequent criticism hinged on that term, ‘community group’. For Calon yn Tyfu may have called itself a workers co-operative but it was in fact a private company run by a husband and wife and a third person.
These being Robert David McDowell – who seems to have signed all the company documents I’ve found – Kate Maria Moore, and Andrew Peter Lowe, ‘Laird of Camster’. (In much the same way as I am Tsar of All the Russias.)
Calon yn Tyfu obtained the woodland in 2007 . . . with an Objective One (Cydcoed) grant of £502,000 from Forestry Commission Wales! Just think about that – FCW gave public money to a gang of good-lifers so they could buy public property.
We know that Objective One funding was wasted in Wales thanks to the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru being ideologically opposed to enterprise and business, but there can be few examples of such blatant and indefensible waste.
In total, £18m was dished out under the FCW Cydcoed scheme. And what do we have to show for it?
Manordeifi community council was so unimpressed by the deal that it petitioned the Welsh Assembly which referred the matter to the Auditor General for Wales.
She concluded that no rules had been broken. Which might suggest it was no surprise that schemes for distributing Objective One cash wasted money.
The Auditor General also noted that, “Calon yn Tyfu have made a commitment to dedicate the site under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, which should allow public access to the woodland in perpetuity.”
I’ve searched the Calon Tyfu website but I can’t find any reference to such a commitment. Has it been made?
If not, then in 2027, the company will be able to sell off at a very handsome price what it was given for nothing. That said, ownership in all but name now seems to be exercised by Dutch bank Triodos N V.
In April 2015 Calon yn Tyfu went back to Triodos. This time taking out a loan against the Ffynone woodland. The title document tells us that in 2007 Calon yn Tyfu paid £460,000 for this forest (out of the £502,000 grant from Forestry Commission Wales).
I believe that the money borrowed from Triodos was used, later that year, to purchase Hen Parcau – where Calon yn Tyfu had always been based – for £225,000. That’s what the title document suggests. And although the loan was taken out in the name of the company the house is registered in the name of Robert David McDowell.
The third engagement with Triodos begins on 21 April, 2015, the same day as the second, but leads to a hearing at the County Court in Swansea in October, and what is described as a ‘Charles Court order’. (No doubt, someone will explain.)
This would appear to give Triodos a claim against the whole Calon yn Tyfu operation.
Now were that to happen, then McDowell would still have enjoyed the income from almost 20 years of forestry operations. And of course he would also have the dwelling, Hen Parcau, and the land around it. And it won’t have cost him a penny!
For their part, Dutch bank Triodos will be happy because they’ll own over 300 acres of Wales.
So, everybody’s a winner! Not quite, because of course we Welsh have lost out again. Not only have we lost a bit more of our homeland, but those useless bastards down in Corruption Bay paid somebody to take it over!
I’ve referred to Calon yn Tyfu as envirobollocks, and so it is. A pretentious precursor to the One Planet nonsense. How else are we to read:
“We are interested in working towards a sustainable future, survival cooperation is the concept of exploring what might be required to survive in a post-industrial world and exploring the process of cooperation that we can start with now that will lead us towards a sustainable path.”
“Post-industrial world”, be buggered! There are hundreds of thousands of Welsh families living in a post-industrial world of managed decline created by the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru, parties that have fallen over themselves to favour shysters like those we see at Calon yn Tyfu.
Having mentioned OPDs I have to introduce ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson. And provide further proof that she is indeed the mother goddess of the OPD firmament, worshipped by those who toil below filling out grant application forms.
A good source tells me, “She (Davidson) does claim that she wrote OPD into TAN 6 expressly to help Lammas rather than interfere in their planning application directly as a then minister”.
What this means is that we suffer OPDs for no better reason than Jane Davidson wanted to help the eco-colonists at Lammas.
When it was suggested that Planning Policy Wales – which TAN 6 supplements – could be used to help farm succession, Davidson is said to have sneered, “I didn’t write that policy for farmers!”. (With the emphasis on farmers.)
‘Dr’ Davidson became an Assembly Member in 1999. It’s reasonable to assume that she was acquainted with the crew at Calon yn Tyfu. Did she have a hand in this incredible waste of money?
Now we head north to Plas Gwynfryn / Gwynfryn Plas, just outside Lloyd George’s village of Llanystumdwy on Llŷn. I’ve written about it a number of times in recent months so you might want to search for what I’ve written and catch up.
The old mansion ended up as a hotel and is now just a ruin following a fire in 1982. Some suggest the fire was arson.
A curious development has been this advert for 17 acres of woodland on the right-hand side of the drive leading up to the Plas. That is, opposite the gate house.
Because if we refer to the Land Registry title document, and scroll down to the plan, we see something odd. The strip in yellow cuts right across the drive, and as A2 in the title document talks of “a good and substantial stockproof fence” it suggests that the drive is effectively blocked! There is certainly no mention of a gate.
Another curious feature is that no one in the area knows the owners of this 17 acres. They bought it less than a year ago and are selling it for less than they paid.
Glan Gors rang a bell and so I checked, and yes, it is Glan Gors in Harlech; where my old mate, the late Barri Edwards, the busking harpist, used to live. Spent some time there. Got some good memories.
I remember calling one morning, planning to take Barri for a pint, but he was boycotting the local pubs (or possibly he was banned). So we sat there, him unshaven, in his underpants. By midday he was on his third can of Guinness. He looked at me and said, “I don’t understand why I can’t pull the women any more, Jac”.
I was lost for words. I just sat there and nodded. God bless you, Barri.
I have no idea why Varley and his partner bought the woodland in the first place or why they’re selling it. And as for the ‘stockproof’ fence across the driveway . . . your guess is as good as mine. I’m open to suggestions.
But it might have had a knock-on effect. Because reports tell that the owner of the land around the old pile, Philip Andrew Bush, of Kent, has been a busy boy of late. He has been harassing neighbours and threatening to knock down a wall that has been in place since 1948 so that he can open up what he claims is a right of way.
He made no answer when asked why he couldn’t use the driveway.
The truth is of course that even if Bush had access via the driveway it would not be enough for the highways department to agree to the planned 30 residential units in the old Plas. Or perhaps that should read, on the site of the Plas, because it’s in a poor state of repair.
For planning permission to be given for 30 residential units when the only entrance / exit is so close to a junction is not going to happen. (Click here for image.) The council will insist on two entrances, or one entrance and one exit.
Another reason Bush insists on reclaiming his alleged right of way is to gain access to the old laundry, which he says he plans to renovate.
And the best of luck with that. First, because the old laundry has almost collapsed. Second, because it was purpose-built as a laundry, to serve the Plas, and has been used for no other purpose, which means a ‘change of use’ will probably be required.
Regular readers will recall that Bush kept the Gwynfryn land after selling the old pile to his good buddy, Aaron Hill, who we’ve encountered before in connection with the crooks at Bryn Llys – who appear in the next section!
The word is that Hill has sold the chapel he was living in in Bontnewydd and his whereabouts are unknown. Though a dicky bird tells me that Hill and Bush have a project planned in Scotland, and that Hill might have already taken the high road.
I know I have readers in Scotland, so be on your guard for Aaron Hill and Philip Bush, two not-to-be-trusted Sassenachs.
I conclude this section with another curiosity. If you go to the Google map for Llanystumdwy, grab the little yellow man, and try to place him on the road that runs past the woodlands that are now for sale, and you’ll find that the road is somehow closed.
I’m assured by locals that this stretch of road has always been visually ‘accessible’ on Google maps before. How strange!
Never a dull moment with the Bryn Llys gang.
Let’s start with another court appearance, this one by erstwhile rocker Shane Baker, aka ‘ShakingShane’ (or variants thereof) when he wants to comment on newspaper reports.
He was up before the bench in Caernarfon on Monday last week charged with criminal damage caused whilst driving a large excavator from Bryn Llys to the main road where a buyer was collecting it. He might just be a poor driver or, more likely, this was another crude attempt to widen the access to Bryn Llys.
Baker’s fines and costs came to £660.
His boss, professional fraudster Jonathan Duggan, was in attendance. As was a barrister! For people with no money these buggers seem able to afford everything.
Duggan’s attempts to persuade authorities he’s a farmer continue. A source writes:
“Mr. Duggan has brought more animals onto Bryn Llys, cows, pigs and goats – he is probably going to claim that he is a farmer to justify his road. His goats have already broken a fence and escaped onto neighbouring land as there is no grass left at Bryn Llys.
The neighbouring land owner complained to the police that he was intimidated by a group of people from Bryn Llys and its collection of sheds and caravans as he and a helper returned the animals to the Bryn Llys land and repaired the fence.
I understand that a large police officer visited Bryn Llys over the incident and was subjected to a torrent of swearing and abuse by Mr. Duggan who was told that everything was being recorded by the officer’s camera and it would appear on the police log dealing with the Community Protection Notice warning already served on Mr. Duggan.
Bryn Llys has already had a visit from the RSPCA after someone who came to buy a horse was so shocked about conditions that they contacted the RSPCA. The place is overstocked with animals, hardly a blade of grass and the animal sheds are full of human beings.
What looks like a bird hide with windows has been erected by the lake which was recently dug – I expect that Bryn Llys will be claiming to be promoting wildlife after destroying much of the habitat.”
This report reminds us that quite a settlement is developing at Bryn Llys in various sheds and caravans. All crooks from over the border. How long will this be allowed to continue?
Oh, yes . . . the ‘bird hide’ blew down in last weekend’s storm.
But never mind all that, would you like a holiday at Bryn Llys? Or rather, Snowdon Summit View. You – yes, you – can “win a 3 or 4 night stay in our luxury holiday home in North Wales”. Here’s the Facebook page on which you’ll find the details.
So if you want to spend a few days surrounded by criminals, kept awake at night by starving animals, enter the competition.
The blurb says, “set within 30 acres of woodland”. Actually, there is no woodland at all. In fact, there is hardly any grass – that’s why the animals break out onto neighbours’ land looking for something to eat.
Bryn Llys / Snowdon Summit View is a wasteland, a lunar landscape. The nearest trees are in a conifer plantation across the river on someone else’s property. Even the images used on the FB page make it clear there are no trees.
These bastards just can’t stop lying.
Though there is a funny side. Someone set up a phoney competition using the same details. Here’s the link.
I hope GogPlod has its finest detectives working on the case to protect the reputations of Jon Duggan, Shane Baker and the other shy and retiring souls at the Snowdon Summit View Meditation Centre.
A WANDERING SHYSTER I (after Gilbert & Sullivan)
I am indebted to a source in Powys for bringing to my attention a would-be impresario by the name of Darren Knipe. Darren has plans for the old library in Knighton.
For he organises things, events and the like. Every community should have a Darren. In fact, it seems that every community in Wales does have one, and at least one. They appear as if by magic when they sniff funding in the air.
As I say, Darren now has plans for Knighton’s old library. It’s all explained on the Facebook page. So let’s go through what it offers.
Darren plans, “an accredited training centre in Community Event Management”. To be funded by . . . The governments new scheme, kickstart . . . the lost generation of 16-25 yr olds . . . making over £3bn available to pay 6 months salary and training”.
Actually it’s £2bn across the UK, though the ‘Welsh Government’ is participating.
He continues . . . “We will be working with Welsh Council of Voluntary Associations (WCVA) as our gateway partner, and will use a mix of mortgages, loans, and Social Enterprise grants to purchase building and startup costs.”
No, Darren, it’s the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. Though this section does take us to the meat – loans, grants, etc.
This is clearly an opportunity that Knighton cannot miss, and Darren warns, “I can run this anywhere, and currently looking at Newtown and Welshpool as options, which will be Knighton’s loss.”
I don’t know how to break this to you, Darren, but I suspect you wouldn’t be missed if you carried out your threat.
Now the thing about Darren is that he has history in these imaginative schemes. Which means that when Darren talks grant-grabbing bollocks he does so with some authority.
Though his business career has not been a cloudless sky.
Last year there was the attempt at crowdfunding, which raised . . . sod all! The money was wanted to teach people how to party. No doubt he does a sideline teaching cats how to catch mice.
In his favour, Darren does get about, though success is never a travelling companion.
A tool I use is 192.com and when I checked for Darren Knipe I came up with 14 results, 8 of which I suspect are him. His stay in Pembrokeshire ended in bankruptcy in 2003 or 2004.
From there he seems to have moved up to Aberystwyth before operating for a while at Llandegla, just west of Wrecsam. I’m told another bankruptcy or insolvency resulted.
In Llandegla we find Datcloud Ltd, where his partner was a Duncan Charles Ion. The company was formed in August 2014, with Knipe making it to the lifeboat in August 2015 before the good ship Datcloud went down.
Another information technology launch that had them quaking in Silicon Valley was Hootso Ltd. It filed as a dormant company and was eventually put down earlier this year.
Then there’s Dark Olive CIC. (The CIC he refers to on Facebook?) Now, chwarae teg, the latest accounts show a gross profit of £33,985.82, but it was almost all swallowed up in salaries, expenses and other running costs.
The website seems a little ‘threadbare’, as if he had one gig in 2018 and that was it.
The latest venture in which he’s involved, set up in March, is Robins Retreat Ltd, which sees our hero team up with the eponymous Robin Wealleans of Llanybydder. They can rest easy in Silicon Valley and Hollywood because this latest venture is in the holiday business.
Though anyone who thinks there are mountains in Carmarthenshire really should stop taking whatever makes him imagine them. It’s as bad as Duggan’s woodland.
In addition to Robins Retreat Ltd there is also Robins Realm Ltd, but Knipe is not involved in this one. Though I would have expected to see him on board another of Wealleans’ new companies as it could be named for him – My Catastrophe Ltd.
Listen to me, Darren . . . stop fantasising about being Knighton’s (publicly-funded) Jean-Michel Jarre and just get a real bloody job.
Was any country that hadn’t been militarily invaded and taken over ever cursed with so many undesirable outsiders?
But they come, and they keep coming, because we have politicians that encourage some of these buggers and do nothing to stop the others. Worse, they even fund them!
♦ end ♦
THE BIG PICTURE
Obviously, there are different types of housing, from mansions like Jac o’ the North Towers to more modest owner-occupied properties; then we have social rent properties, and properties rented from private landlords.
So let’s start by looking at how types of tenure have changed over the past two decades. (The year up to March 31, 2001 is the earliest I can find on the StatsWales website.)
The table I’ve drawn up is fairly self-explanatory. ‘Registered Social Landlord’ (RSL) is of course the official term for housing associations.
The headline figure is that there are 163,067 more dwellings or housing units in 2020 than there were in 2001. Though in the same period the population rose from 2,910,232 to 3,152,879, while the average household size fell from 2.36 to 2.26.
In fact, if we multiply the total number of housing units by the average household size we arrive at a figure of 3,248,901.42. Almost a hundred thousand more than the population estimate. But of course calculations are complicated by people living in care homes, prisons and other institutions. And then there are holiday homes. And properties that have just been abandoned, where it’s often difficult to track the owner.
So, all things considered – and without taking my socks off to do some really serious figuring! – we have roughly the same availability of housing in relation to demand as we had twenty years ago. Maybe things are worse.
Something else we can extract from the table is that in 2001 19% of Welsh properties were social rents, whereas the figure today is just 16%.
But perhaps the biggest change has been the doubling in the percentage of properties now rented from private landlords.
If current trends continue then very soon more people, more families, will rent from private landlords than from councils and housing associations combined. This of course is what the Conservatives want, but why is it happening in ‘progressive’ Wales?
In 2001 we had 242,853 units of social housing. By 2020 this had fallen to 229,902, a decrease of 12,951. Found in this table.
Partly explained by 34,829 units being sold in this period under the Right to Buy legislation introduced in 1980 by the first Thatcher government, with this later supplemented by Right to Acquire.
Though offset by the building of 21,878 social rented housing units in the same period. Just over 1,000 a year.
Right to Acquire is Englandandwales legislation introduced by the Blair government and in operation from 18 January, 2005. Explained more fully here.
At this point I should tell you that not all sales of social housing are accounted for by Right to Buy and Right to Acquire because this table tells us there have also been sales of “non-social housing”. Though I don’t understand why the figure for this category is only shown from 2013 – 2014. Though there’s certainly been a steady increase since then.
Building just over one thousand social housing units a year must be considered a failure after two decades of socialist administrations in Cardiff Bay. Especially when we remember that in 1979 – 1980 (immediately before Right to Buy was introduced) Welsh local authorities built 3,322 new council homes. (RSLs built a further 377.)
And a thousand a year looks even less impressive when we remember that in the period of devolution a couple of billion pounds in capital grant funding has been given to an ever-expanding galaxy of housing associations.
In the past five years alone, £574 million pounds of Social Housing Grant (SHG) has been paid to housing associations. Wales & West, Labour’s favourite, has seen £61m of it.
SHG is not the only capital grant paid. There’s also the Housing Finance Grant.
I’ve drawn up a table for SHG payments you can view by clicking here. It’s quite a big table, so please have patience.
(I should add that while the bottom line is correct I can’t vouch for every figure in every column. I may have made a mistake or two in transcribing them. So here are the figures I received.)
While the amount paid in SHG from 2015 – 2016 to 2019 – 2020 was 20% more than for the previous five years the stock of social rented housing increased in the same period by less than 2%.
We know that housing association executives like to pay themselves big salaries, and drive fancy company cars . . . shiny new offices are a must . . . and how can they miss out on all the conferences and other jollies, but these could never account for the increasing gulf between funding received and social housing built.
Something else must be going on.
If nothing else, Wales is following England in providing less social rented housing. So much for Rhodri Morgan’s, “clear red water”. So much for, “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”.
The Tories came to power in 2010, and that’s when the decline started. Clearly, the Labour management team in Corruption Bay is following Conservative directives when it comes to social rented housing.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
If we take the period 2014 – 2015 to 2019 – 2020 we see that it covers important changes in the way RSLs are regulated, and also how they operate.
I’m sure most people didn’t notice, but in the past five years Welsh housing associations were originally private bodies, were then made public, before being privatised again.
It was the Office for National Statistics that decided they should be public bodies due to the amount of public funding they were receiving. Plus the political involvement. But making them public bodies transferred their debts to the public ledger and so the parliaments in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff quickly privatised them again.
It’s explained clearly and succinctly in the article below from Inside Housing, just click on it to make it readable. (Here’s a link to the original article.)
I bet you’re thinking . . . ‘If housing associations are now private companies, why are they still getting lashings of public funding?’ Funding that, as we’ve seen, has greatly increased since they were ‘re-privatised’!
The answer is that they’ve branched out into building private housing.
To such an extent that, in addition to the public funding, our housing associations are also taking out private loans with various financial institutions.
And other housing associations have done similar deals with organisations much sharper than them in the ways of the financial world. I do hope they’ve read the small print.
Though I suppose the only real collateral housing associations have is their housing stock. If they default, does this mean that Welsh social housing stock gets taken over by lenders? Or will the ‘Welsh Government’ step in with yet more money?
Talking of the ‘Welsh Government’, if RSLs need money for investment, why can’t they go to the Development Bank of Wales (DBW), which is already lending to other builders, many from over the border?
So let’s recap. Housing associations, now private bodies, still receive increasing amounts of public funding. Yet they also enter into arrangements with financial institutions around the world. And let’s not forget that the other major source of income – perhaps the major source – is rents from the housing stock they own. Most of which came free as stock transfers from local authorities.
Another noteworthy feature in this period is that most if not all of our housing associations have set up subsidiary companies, or companies that are not subsidiaries but still part of the group.
SUBSIDIARIES, PARTNERS, PRIVATE HOUSING
An example would be the relationship between Ateb (formerly Pembrokeshire Housing Association) and Mill Bay Homes Ltd (MBH). The latter, despite being a separate company, is a “wholly controlled subsidiary company of Ateb Group Ltd”.
The arrangement is that MBH builds and sells market properties and the profits go to parent company Ateb to build social housing or ‘affordable homes’. Which might be fine if Mill Bay Homes had its own money . . . but it hasn’t, it relies on loans from Ateb.
Which means that the ‘Welsh Government’ funds a RSL to build social housing but the money in fact goes to a subsidiary to build open market homes (that most locals may not be able to afford) with a fraction of the original money returning to the parent company.
What is the point of such a system?
As we’ve seen with other housing associations, the Ateb Group has also borrowed money recently. Last month from the Principality Building Society. Back in July it was a loan of £18m from bLEND Funding PLC.
Officially, a cash security trust deed.
Eighteen bloody million! How much does a relatively small, rural housing association need? It’s already getting money from the ‘Welsh Government’, and seems to have stopped providing social rented housing.
A visit to the Ateb Group website turns up what you see below. Quite clearly, Ateb is now a private house builder with social rented accommodation an afterthought.
And there seem to be some rum doings between the two.
I am indebted to Wynne Jones in Cardigan for these documents from the Land Registry website (from which I have redacted a few names in the second).
A property on this development in Cilgerran (Ceredigion) was built by MBH, with money borrowed from Ateb, then sold to Ateb for £164,950 in October 2019; the following month Ateb sold a 125-year lease on the property for £57,733.
What business model is this?
Mill Bay Homes makes no secret of the fact that it’s punting for retirees and ‘investors’. The latter category will include Buy-to-Rent landlords, and whaddya know – one of the new Cilgerran properties is already being advertised for rent.
A similar arrangement to that between Ateb and Mill Bay Homes exists in Gwynedd between Adra (formerly Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd), which took over Gwynedd council’s housing stock some ten years ago, and its subsidiary, Medra Cyf.
A few days ago Adra put out this puff about building 1,200 new homes across ‘North Wales’. The “housing crisis” referred to is perhaps the lack of housing for commuters in the A55 corridor.
The subsidiary that will be doing much of the building is Medra . . . with a loan from Adra.
This loan between a Welsh RSL and its subsidiary was arranged by London law firm Trowers & Hamlins. I’ve seen that name in other loans I’ve looked at. Are there no lawyers in Wales?
Of course there are, so who’s directing them to that company?
Also worth highlighting from recent years, in addition to the proliferation of subsidiaries, is the strange partnerships we see being forged.
For an example of this we stay in the north, with Cartrefi Conwy, based in Abergele.
I’ve written about this lot a few times. Below you’ll read what I had to say earlier this year, in Housing Associations, a broken model. The Byzantine network of ‘partners’ also throws up a mystery investor.
“Cartrefi Conwy set up a subsidiary in 2015 called Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company). Then, in May 2018, Creating Enterprise went into partnership with Brenig Developments Ltd to form Calon Homes. (Assets at 31 May 2019 £37,853.)
As I wrote back in November: “There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.”
Another horse out of the Brenig stable is Brenig Construction Ltd. Just another local building firm, run by local people . . . so impeccably local in fact that it could have come from League of Gentlemen.
But then, in December last year, a new director joined, a man who might have been taking his life in his hands if he’d turned up in the Royston Vasey shop.
I’m referring now to Yin Han, a Chinese businessman, presumably bringing a lot of yuan. For when I say Chinese businessman I do not mean that he hails from Hong Kong or Taiwan. Yin Han is a resident and citizen of the People’s Republic of China.
How did Yin Han and Brenig Construction find each other? What do we know about him? I guarantee he did not get involved with Brenig Construction without permission from back home. And that means the Communist Party.
These subsidiaries and partners, together with the loans and investment, are needed to build private housing for sale on the open market.
But housing associations are now private entities, so why do they need subsidiaries and partners to build open market housing? Surely they could do it in their own names?
Of course they could, but that would make it too obvious and probably jeopardise the public funding. So we have this charade of public money for social housing being given to RSLs and then filtered through intermediaries to build private housing.
And the ‘Welsh Government’ is a willing party to this deception.
As a student of history, I’ve always loved Palmerston’s quote: “Only three people have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business – the Prince Consort, who is dead – a German professor, who has gone mad – and I, who have forgotten all about it.”
It comes to mind when I see the term ‘affordable housing’. Because there’s a great deal of confusion as to what it means.
It’s important to get a definition because it’s what RSLs now claim to be building, and what the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ is funding.
When I contacted the ‘Welsh Government’ I was referred to a publication wherein was found . . .
“The concept of affordability is generally defined as the ability of households or potential households to purchase or rent property that satisfies the needs of the household without subsidy (further guidance is provided in the Local Housing Market Assessment Guide) 7 This could be based on an assessment of the ratio of household income or earnings to the price of property to buy or rent available in the open market in the required local housing market area.”
Which is interesting, and for two reasons.
If the concept of affordability is based on what local people on local wages can afford, then why is ‘affordable housing’ not reserved for those same local people? I ask because all the term means in practice is that a few properties in a development are labelled ‘affordable’ – but still put on the open market.
And if a small number of properties in a development are classed as ‘affordable’ then it must follow that the majority of the properties are regarded as unaffordable to most locals. So why are we building so many properties – with public funding! – beyond the reach of most local buyers?
The woolly term ‘affordable housing’ is just a fig leaf for the ‘Welsh Government’ and RSLs to disguise the fact that very little social housing is being delivered.
We are encouraged to believe that ‘affordable housing’ is for local people, or that it means social rented properties. Wrong.
This system, as I’ve argued before, is broken. It is broken because it consumes vast amounts of Welsh public funding for little or no Welsh public benefit.
Another cause for concern is that just as many third sector bodies are agencies of the Labour Party a similar picture emerges with housing associations.
In fact, housing associations and third sector bodies operate hand in glove, with the former housing the disruptive ‘clients’ of the latter, many of whom have been shipped into Wales. It’s collaboration like this that contributes to the problems we’ve looked at in Tyisha, Llanelli.
‘Welsh’ Labour’s little empire; stuffed with cronies and others dependent on political patronage and public handouts.
Take Wales & West, which I’ve referred to as Labour’s favourite. The CEO is Anne Hinchey, whose hubby Graham is a Labour Councillor in Cardiff. This explains why Wales & West has pulled down £100m in Social Housing Grant alone in the past decade.
And yet, let us remember that the reason the Office for National Statistics decided to put housing associations into the public sector was because there was so much governmental control!
As the June 2018 article from Inside Housing I reproduced above put it,
“In a letter to the Welsh Government sent yesterday, the ONS left open the possibility to reclassify individual associations as public should the level of state control increase.”
A strong case could be made for reclassifying a number of Welsh housing associations. Certainly Wales & West.
Where do we go from here?
I suggest that it starts with making it clear we do not want housing associations to build properties for sale to Home Counties retirees in Pembrokeshire, or to Manchester commuters in Denbighshire.
The sole duty of Welsh housing associations must be to deliver homes to Welsh people at sales prices or rents WE can afford.
If they are unable or unwilling to fulfil that role then I believe we should let our local councils provide social rented housing. Ensure they are well enough funded to provide decent accommodation to any and all local people wanting it. And make strong local connections the over-riding consideration in allocating those properties.
Then cut all funding to housing associations, which are, after all, private companies. Let them borrow from private lenders – as they are already doing – and cease being a burden on the public purse.
Whatever is decided, the present system is broken. Changes must be made. Even if you think this doesn’t affect you, just think what we could do with the money saved!
♦ end ♦