Wales 2019: state-subsidised colonisation

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

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You’ll recall that in the post before Easter I reported on ‘Welsh Government’ generosity in Aberteifi. Now another case has been brought to my attention.

This one in Talyllychau, a village not far from Llandeilo, where a gang called Talley Community Amenity Association (TCAA) is lined up for £522,653 from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

You’ll have noticed that in my playful way I just referred to them as a ‘gang’, but they couldn’t really be a gang because one of them is an an ex-copper, who seems to have bought ‘a place in Wales’ and then got a transfer for the final few years of his service.

In fact, many police officers get pre-retirement transfers to Dyfed Powys and North Wales. To which we can add others who get transfers because they can’t cope with the pressure in England’s towns and cities.

And this phenomenon is not confined to the police service, it’s widespread with cross-border employers, Royal Mail would be another example. I wonder how many jobs we Welsh lose due to transferees filling vacancies in scenically attractive parts of the country?

But I digress, let us hie back to Talyllychau.

WHO ARE THEY AND WHAT DO THEY DO?

In the hope of learning more about Talley Community Amenity Association I turned to documents filed with Companies House. The company was Incorporated 18 July 2002 and gives as its business, ‘Support services to forestry’. The TCAA also registered as a charity – number 1097539 – 15 May 2003, where its ‘Activities’ are listed as ‘Management of local woodland’.

Clearly, TCAA is interested in woodland around Talyllychau, partly explained in a piece by one of the company’s original directors, Stephen Upson. This document also makes clear that TCAA existed in some unspecified form before it became a company and a charity, and that it was in discussions with both Forestry Commission Wales and the Welsh Development Agency to acquire local woodland as a community amenity. (This map might help you better understand the area. The village proper is just visible on the far right centre.)

These negotiations probably explain the need to become registered, for in the first ‘Financial statement’, for 2003, we see that the money is rolling in, and there is now £81,733 in the pot, but no mention of whence it came. Though I couldn’t help noticing that these accounts were prepared by ‘Gray & Associates, Accountancy Services, Talley House, Talley’. This is presumably the Sarah Ellen Gray who became a director of the company on 12 September 2005.

Isn’t this cosy!

The balance sheet for year ending 31 July 2004 shows fixed assets of £64,999, explained as ‘Land sold to the Association by WDA repayable 9 May 2029’. Elsewhere on this filing we read of ‘grant funding’ of £112,021, but again, no clue as to the source of this moolah. But don’t worry, because ‘Grant work completed’ amounts to £111,748, leaving just £273 for tea bags, sugar and biccies.

These second ‘accounts’ – and I use that term loosely – give no indication as to who prepared them, who audited them, who the company’s solicitors are, or its bankers. Talley Community Amenity Association seems to be using every loophole in the Companies Act to give out the bare minimum of information.

The newly-acquired asset is further explained by a Welsh Development Agency charge against TCAA for ‘land at Plas farm’. But by the time we reach the 2008 accounts the £65,000 ex-WDA asset has disappeared. Where’d it go?

Well, according to the title document for ‘Land at Plas farm’ the asset passed into the ownership of the ‘National Assembly for Wales’ 28.03.2007. Which throws up a wee conundrum.

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I mean, if the land was returned to the ‘Welsh Government’, or the Notional Assembly, then surely the charge held by the WDA would have been satisfied. Or if the happy band at ‘Talley’ had been paid £65,000 – as the title document suggests – then they would have used that money to pay off the WDA, wouldn’t they?

Yet the charge remains and there is no sign of any income – or little activity of any kind – in the accounts after 2008. The Talley Community Amenity Association has just been ticking over with a few thousand in the bank gaining interest.

Am I missing something in the Plas farm land transfers and sales? Or is something being omitted from the minimalist documents submitted to Companies House?

THE CAVALRY ARRIVES – IT’S BOOTS AND SADDLES!

A recent addition to the ‘Talley belongs to us’ crew is Angela Gail Hastilow, who seems to have arrived in 2012, along with husband Ian, from West Sussex. The Hastilows are saddle-makers. The firm seems to be still based in England, for the website tells us ‘Angie runs the office from Wales’.

I’d like to refer you now to a document filed with Companies House 27 July 2018 telling us that Angela Gail Hastilow replaced Peter Graham Knott as a ‘person with significant control’ (PSC), which usually means the person running the show.

Let me quote Companies House, which words it thus: ‘A person with significant control (PSC) is someone who owns or controls your company. They’re sometimes called ‘beneficial owners’.’

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What is also strange is that this occurred on the same day as Mrs Hastilow became a director. I’m sure there’s no legislation forbidding someone joining a company and becoming the PSC on the same day, but it’s unusual.

The only times I’ve come across it is when someone buys out a company. But Talley Community Amenity Association is not that kind of company; for example, it has no shares to be bought or transferred, so it’s difficult to see how anyone could take it over. Or why it would be allowed.

Yet that’s what Angela Hastilow appears to have done. Not only is she now PSC but the company’s registered office has moved to her house in Talyllychau. And it’s the same with the TCAA charity. Hers is the address and she is the contact for the charity. It appears to be a clean sweep.

This takeover throws up another conundrum. I’ve told you that Hastilow became a director and the person with significant control on 27 July 2018, and yet there is another document filed with Companies House that suggests otherwise.

According to this other form, Hastilow became a/the person with significant control 02 September 2017 . . . before she even became a director!

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Of course, it may be a genuine mistake. But if Angela Hastilow did really take the reins in September 2017 how was this achieved without her having any declared links with TCAA?

This anomaly has been reported to Companies House.

And now Talley Community Amenity Association is lined up for £522,653 of our money; and it also looks as if they’re going to be gifted – or at least given control over – 800 hectares of prime Welsh land. That is, land we own.

Yet who can blame them for this very human acquisitiveness, for Talyllychau is an idyllic location. Its has lakes, a ruined abbey, and is reasonably close to the M4; all features that make it very attractive to well-heeled English folk.

And the area around Talyllychau has great tourism potential.

Despite all the talk of ‘biodiversity’ and ‘community benefits’ it is being suggested to me that more mercenary motives may be at work. So before money or land is given to Talley Community Amenity Association certain things need to be established:

  • Why are the TCAA accounts so rudimentary and uninformative?
  • Where did the £81,733 come from that appears in the 2003 accounts?
  • What is the source of the ‘grant funding’ of £112,021 shown in the 2004 accounts?
  • For what was this grant funding given and was its spending monitored?
  • If the TCAA was paid £65,000 in 2007 for the Plas farm land why didn’t it use that money to clear the WDA debt?
  • And if TCAA was paid £65,000 then what happened to the money?
  • If the TCAA was not paid £65,000 then by what route did the ‘National Assembly for Wales’ gain the land?
  • How was it possible for Mrs Angela Gail Hastilow to become the ‘person with significant control’ of TCAA before she’d even become a director?
  • Does Mrs Angela Gail Hastilow now control TCAA?
  • If so, how did this come about?
  • What are the terms under which the 800 hectares mentioned in the newspaper report will be made available to TCAA?
  • Will the 800 hectares remain in public ownership if this project goes ahead?
  • Will the directors and trustees of TCAA be allowed to use the land to further their own business interests?
  • If this project proceeds will the ‘Welsh Government’ require TCAA to produce full and independently audited annual accounts available for public scrutiny?
  • How representative of the wider community is TCAA?
  • Why is there so little Welsh involvement in TCAA?

BOTTOM LINE: Why is the ‘Welsh Government’ paying wealthy outsiders to take over publicly-owned Welsh land that they will almost certainly use to make money for themselves?

PART OF A PATTERN

Returning to the article that appeared last week in the South Wales Guardian we read that the scheme delivering the loot and the land is ‘the Sustainable Management Scheme (SMS)’, administered by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme’.

Alun Davies reading his lines, click to enlarge

This scheme can be traced back to 2013 when then Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, acting under orders from ‘his’ civil servants, transferred 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding from Pillar 1 (farmers) to Pillar 2 (‘rural development projects’).

Despite the order coming from London, via its Wales-based civil servants, ‘Welsh’ Labour enthusiastically endorsed this diktat and justified the decision by waffling about ‘biodiversity’, ‘sustainability’, ‘parsnip trees’, etc.

For the bruvvers had already been moving in that direction by becoming the first administration on Earth to surrender to a rabble of hippies by implementing the One Planet legislation in 2011. Since when things have snowballed.

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Next came the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 with a Future Generations Commissar. And as I mentioned at the top, before Easter I reported on the ‘Welsh Government’ ‘selling’ five acres of good land on the outskirts of Aberteifi for just £1 to yet another a bunch of ‘Gimme! Gimme!’ Greens.

Though I’m pleased to report that resistance to this invasion is growing. People are angry that the planning regulations they must abide by can be flouted with impunity by people they are funding!

Resistance encouraged by those with designs on our country over-reaching themselves with their Summit to Sea extravaganza, a vast project that has George Monbiot and his playmates hoping to take over 10,000 hectares of land (and even more of sea!)

The Rewilding Britain website tells us that its partner in Summit to Sea is the Woodland Trust. To understand the quintessentially colonialist nature of this project listen to Natalie Buttriss, the Woodland Trust’s Director of Wales, speaking about the project on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’ programme.

Or watch Rebecca Wrigley, Director of Rewilding Britain.

The attitude of these latter-day memsahibs is clear – ‘If the locals don’t like our plans then they can jolly well fuck off’. (From their own country.)

The truth must be faced that we have reached a stage where things done in the name of ‘Wales’ that are antithetical to the interests of the Welsh. Which in turn reveals, among other things, that devolution is nothing more than a confidence trick that allows our masters to filter their colonialist ambitions through their local management team.

This ‘Welsh Government’ is only too willing to comply because ‘Welsh’ Labour hates country people, and especially indigenous country people; with hairy-arsed, Welsh-speaking rustics being the favoured targets down at the Lord Tonypandy Memorial Firing Range. (Garters optional.)

And because it’s a party of very woke and posturing planet-savers Plaid Cymru will support Monbiot and his memsahibs against Welsh farmers and the interest of the nation.

Everywhere we look we see Welsh people being elbowed out of attractive localities like Talyllychau. And as locals are squeezed out they are replaced by white flighters and good-lifers, grant grabbers, retirees and the human detritus of urban England. (This last category brought in by our housing associations.)

With these incomers funded with hundreds of millions of pounds that for some reason was never available for locals.

As we approach the third decade of the twenty-first century there’s a welcome in the hillsides for just about anybody . . . except us. Last year I reminded you of the term coined by Martiniquais poet and political activist Aimé Césaire to describe this phenomenon, it was ‘genocide by substitution’.

This is exactly what we see happening in Wales today – a deliberate and systematic strategy of replacing one people with another. A bloodless form of ethnic cleansing.

♦ end ♦

 

Tit-bits, shysters, liars and tits

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

Here are the updates and the like that I mentioned in the introduction to my previous post on Dawnus, and that I would have given you earlier had it not been for fresh news on Dawnus.

It’s quite a bundle, almost 4,000 words, but broken up for you – as advertisements for pet food are wont to say – into bite-sized chunks. Enjoy!

COLEG HARLECH

Forgive me if I get a little nostalgic, perhaps emotional, but I spent two years at Coleg Harlech, two wonderful years; I even managed to fit in the odd lecture. But a lot of time was spent in the Castle Hotel, or the Queens, or the Red Lion, or the St. David’s, where I sank many a ‘sundowner’ while enjoying the view of the golf course and the sea. (Though I detest golf and golfists.)

Yes, many’s the night I spent in the Dai’s getting legless with Dafydd El, holding him back from some impulsive patriotic act that might have jeopardised his career. As Mary Hopkin sang, those were the days. Not that I personally wanted to spend every waking hour in licensed premises, you understand, but I fell in with bad company.

Of course, the pubs were shut on Sunday back then but that’s when we – usually me and Dai Williams, ‘the Beast of Bedwas’, best man at my wedding – used to have some of our most memorable sessions, up in the Castle Hotel run by Ron Hopkins, originally from Aberdâr.

Coleg Harlech showing offices and auditorium. Image courtesy of Daily Post Wales. Click to enlarge

I recall  being in the Castle just before the final Sunday Opening vote. Hopkins of course was in favour of opening, and he was arguing with a very left-wing lecturer from the Coleg, an Englishman who intended voting to keep the pubs shut because he believed – correctly – that’s what most locals wanted.

Now Ron had had a few pints that night down the Ship Aground in Talsarnau (another of Ron’s wife’s family’s pubs), and he’d rolled into the Castle well lubricated. Then the argument started. Because this lecturer was a ‘communist’ and in favour of Sunday closing Ron had somehow linked the two to persuade himself that keeping pubs shut on Sunday was a communist conspiracy.

I just leaned on the bar marvelling. Imagining the grizzled old men of the Politburo in Moscow sitting down and saying, ‘Now then, Comrades, the next step in destabilising the West is keeping the pubs shut on Sunday in Merioneth’.

It was one of those insane discussions that take place in Welsh pubs when those participating are opinionated drunks. (I speak as an observer, you understand.)

God bless you, Ron. God bless you, Dai. Thanks for the memories.

Not far from what was the Castle Hotel we encounter the St David’s Hotel, which has lain empty for over a decade. It’s owned by a company based in Gibraltar that probably had no intention of renovating the place, unless someone else was paying. Even then, perhaps, it wouldn’t have been restored, for who knows – like so many such properties in Wales – maybe it was making money just by standing empty.

Now it might be demolished at public expense!

A photo I took of the St David’s Hotel, Harlech in January 2011, click to enlarge

The hotel is just up the road from the Coleg, which also fell on hard times, was then closed, and finally put up for sale. Now we learn that the Coleg has also been sold, though to someone based rather nearer to Harlech than Gibraltar.

According to the Cambrian News new owner Leslie Banks Irvine is still “gathering his thoughts” after buying the Coleg itself, Theatr Ardudwy and ancillary buildings. So he’s bought the whole shooting-match but we’re expected to believe he has no idea what he’s going to do with it?

Is he fibbing, or is he one of those wealthy men who buys things on impulse then figures out what to do with them?

Anyway, off I went a-digging. Irvine, or Banks-Irvine, had a company called Anglo-Euro Trade Ltd, originally based in southern England that moved to Talybont (near Bermo), in April 2004, presumably when the man himself moved. It’s stated business, ‘Distilling, rectifying and blending of spirits’. (Not more bloody ‘craft gin’?)

I’m using the past tense because Anglo-Euro Trade Ltd was dissolved in May 2017. From the accounts I’ve looked at it never made enough in any one year to pay for the cat food. But there you go, maybe he didn’t have a cat.

Though a new company was launched 28 January. Apart from the authoritative tones of the man himself the only other voice we hear in the cavernous boardroom of LBI (Wern Fawr) Ltd is that of Tessa Jane Beverly.

The company’s business is, ‘Development of building projects’. Which would suggest that LBI has been set up to carry through whatever plans the eponymous Leslie Banks Irvine has for my alma mater.

And what might those plans be?

Well . . . something I turned up on the Cyngor Gwynedd planning portal might give a clue. Last year Leslie Banks Irvine applied for a change of use for Fairbourne church hall. The application said he wanted to use it to store his – or someone’s – ‘collection of classic motor cars’. The application was refused.

Has this plan now moved up the coast to Harlech?

Of course I have no way of knowing what the plans are for the Coleg, the auditorium and the other buildings, but if I lived in or near Harlech I would be asking Leslie Banks Irvine, and not accepting ‘dunno’ for an answer.

But wherever we live in Wales we should be concerned that another historic and iconic site has been sold off by a public body, to a virtual stranger, probably at a knock-down price, and for an undisclosed purpose.

And there’s a good chance he’s hoping for public funding.

SAVING THE PLANET BY EXPLOITING WALES

Talking of knock-down prices, how about fives acres for £1? Yes, that is five acres of good Welsh land for just 100 pence. For that’s the deal done by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ for Parc Teifi in Cardigan with a bunch of eco-shysters environmentalists.

The leader of this lucky band, one Alpay Torgut, believes the deal was done because, “The Welsh Government was impressed with our work and achievements over the last ten years, in creating and successfully running our previous community forest garden and the Cardigan Eco shop”.

The previous ‘community forest gardens’ were in England and Llandudoch. For it should go without saying that Alpay Torgut is not from aroun’ by ‘ere. He is another who has realised that everything is greener on this side of the Dyke, especially the politicians and the funders.

He mentions the Cardigan Eco Shop “which has been going for nine years now”. Maybe, but the company Naturewise Eco Shop CIC was only Incorporated in January this year, and probably only done to enable Alpay and his gang to qualify for the goodies. Just more box-ticking.

Parc Teifi, image courtesy of Western Telegraph, click to enlarge

Upon seeing the photo above I mumbled the appropriate incantations and an apparition appeared, who spake in this wise: “Jac!”, it intoned, “Jac!” (repeating itself), “I have the gift of seeing into the future, mush, and I tell you now, this will soon be a commune. And lo! retrospective planning permission will be granted, and many shekels will be shoved the way of these con artists. Mark my words, son!”

And then, with a drawn out wail, the apparition departed.

The commune foretold – and other examples of encouraged colonisation – will be justified by England’s management team in Cardiff docks as ‘reducing Wales’s carbon footprint’.

I’m still waiting for an explanation as to how we reduce our carbon footprint by, a) encouraging people to move into Wales and then, b) letting them exploit land that had previously been causing Mother Earth no problems whatsoever.

UPDATE 17.04.2019: I have now written to the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ asking for my five acres.

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Another bunch of such arrivals hoping to milk the system are to be found in the Clever Green Hub Penarth, an offshoot of the Clever Green Group of Brighton. Registered with Companies House as the Clever Green Cardiff Hub Ltd.

The directors of the colonial outpost in Penarth can also be found at The Clever Green Mendip Hub Ltd and The Clever Green Portal Company Ltd. In fact, just looking at the companies linked with one of the leading lights, Simon Paul Egan, throws up a host of them, many using ‘Clever’ in the name. The home base would appear to be Woking in Surrey.

The reason I mention this crew at all is because one of them is boasting that our former First Minister, Labour’s Carwyn Jones, has promised to help them secure a licence to grow hemp (cannabis) and that a big pharmaceutical company may be involved. For not only is it now legal to grow cannabis, but from last November doctors can prescribe cannabis products.

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The word on the street is that there will be no benefit to Wales because the licence will be used to grow pot that will then be transported to England, where it will be processed and where it will provide jobs.

It may even be possible to use the licence in England. Wales and the ever-obliging Carwyn Jones may simply be used to get the necessary authorisation.

If anyone has more information, then please get in touch.

TARDIS IN CYDWELI!

A curious story reaches me from that source of many a strange tale, Cydweli.

You may recall that the town council’s Mynydd-y-Garreg ward saw a by-election in February won by Labour’s Beryl-Ann Williams, an art psychotherapist, our Beryl-Ann. Now there’s another by-election in the same ward and the Labour candidate this time is Arwyn Rhys Williams.

From the form below you’ll see that young Arwyn gives his address as 27 Llys Gwenllian, an unprepossessing property built by Grwp Gwalia, now merged into the Pobl group. (You might remember that it was Gwalia that housed the gang of London paedophiles.)

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Also resident in this property is councillor Philip Thompson, who’s a lawyer, and a QC, yet somehow qualifies for social housing . . . but then, he is Labour, and being a party activist puts you at the top of the waiting list with most housing associations.

Others who have given this as their address in recent years are Siôn Davies, who was Labour candidate for Llangyndeyrn, and Lisa Williams who stood for the party in Trimsaran. I’m told there have been others.

So is this a house of multiple occupation, and if so, is it registered as such? If it’s not a HMO then what’s going on? Could it be that Labour candidates are afraid to tell us where they really live?

Getting back to young Arwyn for a minute, something I found on his Facebook page would not have me queuing outside the polling booth at 7am in the pissing rain to vote for him.

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But then, in fairness to the boy, those attributes could apply to so many Labour politicians. His political future is assured!

UPDATE 17.04.2019: I’m now being told that Arwyn Rhys Williams is the son of Cydweli mayor Philip Thompson. He uses his mother’s name of Williams.

So if he is now living with his dad then Arwyn needs to update his Facebook profile, which locates him either in Swansea or Tenby. Alternatively, if the FB information is true, then maybe he’s just living at the Cydweli address until the election is over.

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It also suggests he’s still in school. He is 18, is he?

SWANSEA COUNCIL

I hope I whetted your appetite in the previous post with my promise of updates on the whereabouts of some of those I’ve written about in the not too distant past.

To set the scene . . . a few years back the Labour Party on Swansea council relied heavily on councillors who were no more than students. They knew nothing about my wonderful city and were just making up the numbers for council leader David ‘Il Duce’ Phillips, another stranger to ‘the ugly lovely town’.

One by one they disappeared. California girl Pearleen Sangha went to Cardiff to work as a regional organiser for ‘Welsh’ Labour. In other words, she left a city she didn’t know in order to ‘organise’ a region she knew even less about.

Then she went home to the States to work for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. She was based in the Carolinas, which might have been as alien to her as Swansea. Perhaps she had some interesting encounters with good ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye . . . and voting Trump.

After a stint back in her home state, working for Mayor Sam Liccardo of San José, she has now returned to these shores as a fully-fledged ‘political consultant’. All set out here in her Linkedin profile.

Then there was John ‘John Boy’ Bayliss, a native of Eastbourne. I understand John is currently working as a press officer for Home Secretary Sajid Javid and LGBT adviser to the Conservative Party. So it could be that John Boy has deserted the bruvvers.

In the collage below you’ll see John Boy luxuriating in the adoration of his canvassers. They too look as if they’ve been recruited from the university.

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On the left of the collage you’ll see a bizarre shot of Il Duce in mayoral robes at the foot of the Mansion House stairs, with his eyes shut, and his loyal band behind him. Nothing wrong with a shot like that, when it’s the Kennedy clan on a wide and elegant staircase at Hyannisport . . . but not with that gormless crew bunched up fighting for air.

On the great man’s right hand is his consort Sybil Crouch, another Labour councillor who thought Mumbles was a speech impediment until she washed up in Swansea. Interestingly, Crouch worked at the university.

In the trio on the top right we see, on the left, Nick Bradley, loyal West Bromwich Albion supporter who was given the brief of the Liberty Stadium, the Swans’ home, presumably because somebody thought he might know something about football.

Bradley went off to Araby recruiting for some English university and he now divides his time between Dubai and Boston, Massachusetts, working as International Sponsor Director for Shorelight Education.

In the middle we see Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Theaker. Gin connoisseur who also took himself off to the Gulf but has now given it all up for life as a globe-trotter. Though the word is that he hopes to return to Swansea and resume his political career.

The once and future Labour councillor Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Theaker? click to enlarge

On the right we see Rene ‘Rocking Rene’ Kinzett, the only Tory in this gay trio, and at one time the youngest of Swansea’s councillors. I predict with certainty that Rene will not be returning to Swansea . . . after he’s released from prison.

I wrote about ‘Rocking Rene’ back in 2013, and someone, in a comment, reminded me that his brother Richard had been sent down for life after attacking an off-duty copper outside the Uplands Tavern while on a visit to Rene. I then received a message from their father, demanding apologies for all sorts of things. I wrote about it here.

I felt sorry for Kinzett senior back then, and I feel even sorrier for him now with two sons banged up. I just hope he has other children to console him.

DAWNUS 3A

Just a brief update to Dawnus 3.

There’s no question that French arms manufacturer Thales didn’t stay long at the Stradey Business Park in Llangennech. It left soon after the (official) British withdrawal from Afghanistan, maybe before. So why wasn’t Thales’ departure given the same coverage by the ‘Welsh’ media as its arrival, or indeed any coverage?

The building used by Thales was taken over by Hydro Industries Ltd, as shown in one of the photographs below that I was sent by a local. This explains Carwyn Jones’s visits to the USA in 2013 and 2014 promoting Hydro Industries.

The other photo, from the front gate, leaves no one in any doubt that Robert Lovering’s company European Telecom Solutions has moved in.

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(What’s equally clear is that no one cleans the old signage.)

Hydro Industries is ostensibly involved in the harmless and praiseworthy business of bringing clean water to Africa. I suspect it’s involved in rather more than that. And that it wasn’t just the Thales building that it took over.

Hydro replacing Thales explains the sudden attention – and financial input – of the Waterloo Foundation and Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle, who is herself French.

UPDATE 18.04.2019: I am grateful to a Spanish source for telling me that Robert Nigel Lovering has a company in Spain, Costa Blanca Luxury Boat Rentals SL. What with Whiteshell Boat Charters Ltd in Swansea as well Lovering is quite the sailor boy. Both companies are one-man bands with no accounts yet filed.

CLEDDAU BRIDGE HOTEL

The wife and I like to take ourselves off for short breaks exploring this wonderful country of ours. One such trip about three years ago took us to Pembrokeshire and the Cleddau Bridge Hotel, a superb location on the Milford Haven Waterway and ideally located for walking across the bridge to take in the stunning views.

Cleddau Bridge, picture by Toby Driver 2007, courtesy of Coflein, click to enlarge

We were disappointed to learn in December 2017 that the hotel was closing. A few months later came news that the owners were heavily in debt. Next we learnt that the hotel was to be converted into a care home. In May 2018 planning permission was granted.

Then last month the cannon that stood outside was stolen. Some bastard obviously slipped it into his pocket and walked off whistling. Finally, at the end of March, it all catched afire.

But there you go, these things happen . . . and often in the sequence I’ve listed here!

‘COFIWCH DRYWERYN’

One of the big issues on the Welsh Twittersphere over the past few days has been the defacing, then the partial demolition, and finally the rebuilding, of the ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ mural on the A487 just north of Llanrhystud.

First, on Thursday night, it was vandalised by someone painting over the message, then on Friday night the wall itself was partially demolished. These incidents being the latest in a series of attacks, presumably by those objecting to the message.

The recent incidents are covered pretty well in this BBC Wales report. (From which I’ve used the image below.)

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Not only has the wall been rebuilt and the message repainted but a petition has been launched to raise £20,000. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve chipped in with my £20 (plus the charge!) but I’m still not sure what exactly I’m contributing towards.

The petition reads,

This Mural is an important landmark in Welsh history which symbolized the hurt and pain that the drowning of the village of Tryweryn caused in the 1960s

After the mural was  desecrated numerous times in the last few years, we want to make sure it’s secure and protected for future generations.

Please donate to our cause!

(The drowned village was actually called Capel Celyn.)

But what does this appeal mean? If it means constantly repainting and rebuilding the memorial (for memorial is what it is) after each act of vandalism, then I shall be very disappointed, because I believe there has to be a permanent solution to ensure no further attacks.

Personally, I wouldn’t object to booby traps, but I suppose some would, so what is to be done? For a start, who owns the land on which the wall stands, and the lay-by in front? Can it be bought? And if so, who would own it on behalf of the nation? It obviously can’t be a single political party or group; ownership and custodianship has to be as broadly based as possible.

But it must also be in Welsh hands, which is why I was appalled to read this suggestion from English Heritage (West) that their mates in The English National Trust be involved.

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Why the hell would we need to involve a middle class BritNat outfit? And seeing as this is a national memorial the decision can’t be left entirely to the local community council either, a group that might be influenced by Cadw.

Responses I’ve seen to the recent attacks hint at a divide long evident in the national movement. I’m referring now to those ready to turn the other cheek and keep rebuilding the wall after every attack; and those who want to bring those responsible to book, and ensure it never happens again.

A divide exposed by Tryweryn itself, when some felt that the correct response was to sing hymns in the streets of Liverpool, while others wanted to blow up the dam.

We are entering dangerous times, with a confused and angry neighbour that might fall under the sway of demagogues and rabble-rousers who have some very ugly masters. Those seeking martyrdom might get their wish, but it won’t help Wales one bit.

UNBRUVVERLY FLINTSHIRE

At the risk of getting a reputation for picking on the Labour Party I conclude with a tale of bruvvers at each others’ throats. This story comes from Flintshire, realm of the late Carl Sargeant.

A name we became familiar with in those dark days was Bernie Attridge, apparently a big (in every sense of the word) mate to Sargeant. In fact, in the aftermath of Sargeant’s death, Attridge got quite emotional at times and made no bones about targeting Carwyn Jones.

But then it seemed that the Sargeant death opened a can of worms. For example, it was suggested that Attridge had hinted that Sargeant could have gone to prison for unspecified crimes. Attridge is alleged to have used the colourful phrase, I bet he’s shitting bricks. And this was alleged to have been said before Sargeant’s sacking and suspension in November 2017.

These rumours were known to the denizens of the Connah’s Quay Labour Club, and officials of the party. From reading what was being reported it was clear there were divisions within the local Labour Party. But of course this had nothing to do with ideology, for the Labour Party in the north east is very much like the Labour Party we know in the south, in that it’s an ideology-free gravy train.

Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

The main cleavage seemed to be between the council leader, the appropriately named Aaron Shotton, and his deputy, Attridge, plus of course those who took sides. Things seem to have come to a head in the past couple of weeks, first, with Shotton sacking Attridge, and this closely followed by Shotton’s resignation.

It was even suggested that Shotton had chucked it in due to the fear of Attridge supporters taking to the streets. (Flaming torches and pitchforks optional.)

In the BBC report I’ve just linked to, ‘“Cabinet colleague Carolyn Thomas warned earlier that “hatred and animosity” threatened to split the Labour group’.

While this WalesOnline report tells us that the problem goes back to a secret recording made ten years ago of a conversation between Shotton and Attridge that contains ‘expletives’ and ‘defamatory allegations’.

Then last Thursday a piece appeared in the Wasting Mule which seemed to be answered by another piece on Saturday. See what you make of them.

click to engorge

It’s pretty obvious, even from a distance, that the Labour Party has a very unhappy band of bruvvers in Flintshire. If it comes to all-out war it could get nasty, for the Flintshire Labour Party – and indeed the council – has always contained a number of renowned swordsmen.

What makes it even more awkward for Labour is that Shotton and Attridge both represent the Connah’s Quay Central ward. I bet ward meetings are a bundle of laughs. Happy days!

♦ END ♦

 

Dawnus 3

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

This was intended to be a sort of bits and pieces post in which I looked at various topics. Among them the sale of Coleg Harlech and an update on the (ex-)student councillors that used to plague Swansea council, a sort of ‘Where are they now?’

For your information, and titillation, one former Labour councillor ended up working for Tory Home Secretary Javid; another went home to California before returning to promote herself as a ‘political consultant’; a third works as a ‘Director of Sponsor Relations’ for a US company; a fourth worked for that same company before becoming a ‘globetrotter’; while a fifth – the only Tory – got banged up for child pornography.

But all that can wait because cogs have been turning in the old Jac noggin as I tried to make sense of who’s who and what’s what on either side of that great turbulence that cleaves Jack from Turk.

Not a great deal of new information has come to light but I have been pointed in certain directions and the bigger picture is now less opaque as connections are made and things fall into place.

Though I beg you to be patient, because this is one of the most complicated investigations I’ve ever done.

DAWNUS

There are a few things to add on Dawnus itself, and the myriad companies that sheltered ‘neath that umbrella. To help you get up to speed I advise you to read Dawnus and Dawnus 2.

The asset stripping and dismemberment of Dawnus may or may not have begun with the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone 2014/15 but it certainly ties in with the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, who now seems to run what’s left of Dawnus.

Though having said that, two new companies have emerged from the ashes. The first, on 22 March, was Dawnus International Group Ltd, which has already changed its name to DIG International Group Ltd. This new entity contains as directors a number of names that have appeared before in connection with the Dawnus group.

Then on 28 March the world saw the birth of Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, based in sunny Porthcawl and with Andrew Kenneth Keay as sole director. Keay has used the Dawnus name previously for his one-man-band companies, though where he fits in the puzzle remains a mystery.

Another unplaced piece of the puzzle is Legsun Ltd, a company that is heavily in debt and whose directors are, since 14 February 2014, Timothy Alun Lowe, who has served as director with many Dawnus companies and also, since 12 March 2018, Dawnus head honcho Nicholas Charles Down.

click to enlarge

The early documents for Legsun are not available with Companies House without payment but we know that the company was started in March 1973, and though it now uses a Cardiff address it was previously using an address in the Pontypool area. I am in no doubt that Legsun is linked with the former Royal Ordnance Factory at Glascoed. Today this site is known as BAE Systems Munitions Glascoed.

Legsun is not a commercial company in the sense that you or I understand that term, because no genuine company could sustain losses on the scale of Legsun’s without going bust. How Legsun links with the collapse of Dawnus I’m not entirely sure. But it does, if only because Legsun’s only directors are also directors of Dawnus companies, and previous Legsun directors also had Dawnus links.

Legsun introduces the first connection with the military-industrial complex.

Late news: the following companies are now officially in receivership: Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd; Churchfield Homes Ltd; Legsun Ltd; Quantum Geotechnical Ltd; Dawnus Group Ltd; Dawnus Southern Ltd; Dawnus Ltd; Dawnus Developments Ltd; Ashridge Construction Ltd.

There are charges outstanding against all these companies with the sole exception of Legsun which, despite having massive debts, was somehow able to satisfy three charges on March 14.

At the time of writing the administration documents aren’t available with Companies House. There’s also the possibility that other companies in the Dawnus stable may yet follow those listed above into receivership.

By my calculations the companies left standing are: Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd and Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, the Keay companies. Then there’s Dawnus Consulting Ltd, with a Manchester address; Dawnus International Ltd; Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd; DIG International Group Ltd; Dawnus Holdings Ltd; Construction Recyclate Management Ltd.

CROSSING OVER AND TOOLING UP

Another connection with the military-industrial complex – and one I neglected to mention in the two previous pieces – is Thales, the French ordnance manufacturer. Thales has a presence at Stradey Park (Business Centre), Llangennech, owned now by Robert Nigel Lovering.

To understand the background I refer you again to a 2014 Rebecca article by Paddy French.

What Paddy French told us was that the redundant Ministry of Defence site at Llangennech was bought in early 2009 by Carmarthenshire County Council (Prop. M. V. James) and immediately sold on to R & A Properties, an unregistered company.

According to this WalesOnline report from early May 2009 the manner of the deal was justified by ‘the council’ (the aforementioned M .V. James) because the MoD would otherwise have auctioned the site.

The title document for Stradey Park is interesting. Lovering is named as the owner but the money to buy the site seems to have come from three funders: Lloyds Bank plc, the Secretary of State for Defence, and Carmarthenshire County Council.

The title is dated 1 April 2009. It also refers to land detached in 2015 from the title and directs us to the title plan for Stradey Park . . . which is not available on the Land Registry website.

The ‘sale’ was handled by Hugh James Solicitors of Cardiff, official solicitors for the ‘Welsh Government’.

There appear to be further loans, including one from Thales UK Limited.

There are also leases; one is for ten years from 1 April 2009 and covered by title number CYM465605, which again, is unavailable with the Land Registry, perhaps because that lease has now expired. Another, for 25 years from 27.03.2012, is with SSE Micro Renewables (Commercial) Ltd for the lease of air space.

But none of this can be checked because everything is in the name of the individual Robert Nigel Lovering. Who must be well thought of in certain quarters.

There was understandable disquiet over the deal. One councillor was quoted, “No information was given about the firm that will be creating the jobs beyond the fact that it was involved in defence procurement. Neither were we told who was behind R & A Properties, except that they were known to some of the officers.”

Just over a week later WalesOnline reported the involvement of then Welsh Rugby Union chairman David Pickering. Pickering was promising the creation of 100 jobs before Christmas by a “blue chip” company understood to be involved in the “defence procurement industry”.

Pickering was also reported as saying, “I know some people will find it strange that R&A is not a limited committee (sic), but we’ve been advised to do it this way by our professional advisers”.

It may not have been a limited company but the section below from the year ended 31 March 2016 accounts makes reference to R&A Properties LLP (Limited Liability Partnership); but I can find no such company registered with Companies House. Was it not registered, or registered in some other jurisdiction?

click to enlarge

One company I did unearth was R & A Secure Services Ltd, described on the Companies House website as a ‘non-trading company’ with Lovering as sole director. This was launched in September 2012, so chronologically it fits, but how?

The capture below is from the Company Check website. Jacobs can be disregarded, he’s a Company Formation Agent, but who or what is Francis Trust? And where’s Pickering?

click to enlarge

One company that Lovering has been involved with for some time is Lancehawk Ltd, of which he became a director in July 1999. And as this report from an Industrial Tribunal tells us, he was in fact managing director.

The report, about a bit of rumpy pumpy (was he shagging two of his staff!), also tells us that Lancehawk was trading as European Telecom Solutions. So I don’t understand why Lancehawk is still in business and a new company called European Telecom Solutions Ltd was formed 15 November 2017.

By November 2009 the BBC was telling us that Thales UK was to equip or modify Warthog all-terrain armoured vehicles at Llangennech for use in Afghanistan. This is the “blue chip” company we were told about, the justification presumably for the curious purchase arrangements.

So it looks as if Lovering (plus Pickering and Preece?) bought the site specifically to accommodate Thales? (Whatever the answer, R & A Properties now seems to have finally done the decent thing and gone legit, forming R and A Properties Cardiff Ltd last month. Why ‘Cardiff’?)

Some would have us believe that Thales has moved out of Stradey Park, but I can find no report of such a departure, certainly not in the Welsh media. Though I did turn this up in the Herald. It suggests that Thales closed its Llangennech operation – or part of it – in late 2012 or early 2013.

Which might link with reports in February 2012 that Cassidian was moving to Llangennech. Cassidian merged with Airbus Military and Astrium in January 2014 to form Airbus Defence and Space, now a division of Airbus.

This would give us a third connection with the military-industrial complex. Though I can find no evidence of the Cassidian move ever materialising.

Though from a distance there is little documentary or other evidence of either Thales or Airbus having been in Llangennech. Come to that, the whole site might as well be a secret, what with it being owned by an unregistered company, or an individual, there being no website, and Google turning up no recent references to either company being at Llangennech.

Though Google Earth came up trumps with what might be a recent shot, suggesting that Thales is still in situ.

Courtesy of Google Earth, click to enlarge

Correction: The Google Earth image I’ve used there is from 2011. I am informed that Thales has long since slung its hook. Why was it not reported in the Welsh media?

UPDATE 23:25: The British Army withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014, which would clearly have reduced the demand for the Warthog All-Terrain vehicles assembled by Thales at Llangennech, and this might explain the closure.

It also suggests that despite all the bullshit and backslapping that attended Thales’ arrival in Llangennech it must have been known that the French visitor was never going to stay and put down roots.

However, this forum posting I stumbled upon suggests that other uses were found for Warthogs: “Jane’s military guide has reported that British Warthog vehicles will be transformed to serve as transporter vehicles for Thales Watchkeeper UAV”. ‘UAV’ being unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone. Which would make perfect sense.

Watchkeeper drones fly out of the base at Aberporth and they are none too reliable, five having crashed in recent years, one of them uncomfortably close to a school.

I’m convinced that drones out of Aberporth, or possibly Llanbedr, use darkness and cloud cover to fly up the Dysynni Valley along part of the ‘Mach Loop’. The constant noise can last half an hour or more. And recently I’ve had reports of the same issue around Cydweli, Glanyfferi and out over the sea.

Which means that Thales’ presence is still here, with Watchkeeper drones being transported on Warthog vehicles assembled at Llangennech. Overflying our country . . . and often crashing!

HYDRO INDUSTRIES LTD

On 2 January 2013 Lovering and Preece became directors of Hydro Industries Ltd (originally Watertec Solutions Ltd and then Aggrelek Ltd), with Pickering joining them in November.

Watertec was Incorporated 2 September 2010 on the east side of Swansea, at the Ashmount Business Park . . . within spitting distance of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (at the time known as Dawnus Construction Ltd).

click to enlarge

Is this propinquity a coincidence? I think not.

The address for Aggrelek Ltd changed to Stradey Park 13 July 2011, and it became Hydro Industries in December of that year. Hydro Industries becomes another Legsun, in that it seems to operate in a parallel financial universe, being heavily in debt but still able to satisfy charges and generally carrying on as if nothing is amiss.

click to enlarge

The founders of Hydro Industries, Philip and Janine Morgan of Gorseinon, presumably had some knowledge of the water industry, to judge by other companies with which they’ve been involved, and certain directors of these companies, such as Chris Stretton.

But I don’t know what knowledge of desalination processes, or water purification and disposal in the third world is possessed by Lovering, Pickering and Preece. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

For almost immediately Lovering, Preece and Pickering had their feet under the Hydro Industries boardroom table things started happening for them on a transatlantic level with First Minister Carwyn Jones jetting across the Pond to put in a word.

As this ITV report from February 2013 tells us. Here’s how the BBC covered it. This, remember, is just one month after the trio became directors. Carwyn Jones was over again in February 2014.

Now clearly, if Lovering, Preece and Pickering didn’t join Hydro Industries until January 2013 then they didn’t have time to have arranged the contract with T&T Salvage that was announced by Carwyn Jones in February. In fact, Carwyn Jones seems to have taken Hydro Industries Ltd under his wing. How many other small companies received such treatment?

Another interesting – and more recent – reference to Hydro Industries I turned up is this one from March 2018 which sees Hydro Industries at No 3 in a list of “The 7 firms at the heart of Wales’ thriving tech and digital sector”.

Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

You’ll see that at No 6 in the list is Airbus. Airbus is also mentioned along with Hydro Industries in the blurb for Carwyn Jones’s 2014 visit to the States. And I’ve seen the connection made elsewhere.

As with Thales locating to Llangennech the T&T contract was arranged by someone else, and Lovering and Preece were put into Hydro Industries to front the deal because they were ‘trusted’ . . . by someone. ‘Someone’ who could also pull Carwyn Jones’s strings.

SWEET CHARITY?

Though as I told you in the previous post, the three amigos have now been joined (displaced?) by some very glitzy company on the board and among the shareholders of Hydro Industries.

Almost immediately Pickering had joined Lovering and Preece on the Hydro board we saw investment from Diane Briere de L’Isle, David Stevens and Heather Stevens.

As I explained in an earlier piece, Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle is the French wife of Henry Englehardt the American founder of Admiral Insurance. So who are David and Heather Stevens?

They, it turns out, are behind the Waterloo Foundation, a name that some may think unfortunate or insensitive given the involvement of Mme. Englehardt. The Waterloo Foundation was begun in 2007 with a donation of Admiral Group plc shares to the (then) value of £99m.

click to enlarge

And it all makes sense, for “clean water” is listed among the charity’s ambitions under ‘World Development‘. Which is why I was surprised not to find Hydro Industries listed under ‘Investments‘ and ‘Wales’ because the Foundation has definitely invested in Hydro.

And after the investment came a series of convoluted share reclassifications and allocations. Diane Marguerite Marie Briere De L’isle is named on the Companies House website as the person ‘with significant control’ from 21 August 2017. Preece, Lovering and Pickering cease to have significant control on the same day.

It’s not inconceivable, given Hydro’s links with Thales, that Mme. Englehardt joined Hydro in order to represent France’s interests.

Certainly Mme. Englehardt became a director of Hydro and appointed others to eventually outnumber the three musketeers. Among these newcomers was Guto Harri, Welsh language journalist and former PR guru for Boris Johnson.

The boys are still there, but maybe just for window dressing.

Predictably, perhaps, the Waterloo Foundation is a Patron of The Prince’s Trust. And why not, for The Prince’s Trust is based at Stradey Park. And wouldn’t you know it, the Chief Operating Officer for Hydro is Brigadier Rick Libbey . . . who used to run the The Prince’s Trust in Wales!

The links with the British establishment just keep coming, and of course Libbey provides another to the military-industrial complex, such as we find throughout this saga.

Which is easily explained. Major powers exert influence through ‘soft power’, which can mean aid to third world countries that just happen to have valuable natural resources or are of strategic importance.

What could be more caring and philanthropic than providing clean drinking water?

SUMMARY 

Up until the autumn of 2018 everything seemed to be hunky-dory with Dawnus, Hydro Industries, Swansea University, Thales, Legsun, etc, and there were exciting plans in the pipeline.

Here we are, six months later, and it’s all fallen apart. Perhaps some of those involved were strung along, and once they’d outlived their usefulness they became dispensable.

So what are we left with? Well, there’s Hydro, which I believe to be a ‘front’ company for some agency of the UK state; and then there’s the remains of Dawnus, run by someone who is almost certainly co-operating with the same shadowy elements.

If I’m right, then hundreds of Welsh workers, sub-contractors and suppliers were shafted by the UK Government, which either engineered the collapse of Dawnus or else accepted it as collateral damage. But we’re Welsh, we’re used to being shafted and exploited.

What is unforgivable is that this damage was inflicted on Wales with the support of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ and, especially, that of Carwyn Jones.

♦ end ♦

 

Dawnus 2

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

Following on from the previous article, information received justifies a fresh post rather than just an update to the original ‘Dawnus’.

Some of this fresh information gives further support to the theory that much of Dawnus’s tangible assets, in the form of heavy machinery worth millions of pounds, was shipped out to Sierra Leone before Christmas. But it goes much further than that.

Before pushing on let me say that I got something wrong in the previous post (forgiveable, given how many companies and charges are involved). I interpreted this (also below) to be a fresh charge against Dawnus Sierra Leone when in fact it was issued because someone didn’t spell Sierra Leone correctly in the original document!

click to enlarge

MISCELLANEOUS UPDATES

I’m beginning to realise how busy Dawnus was in different parts of the country. For example, the council on Ynys Môn seems to have relied on Dawnus to a great extent, even for services such as road gritting that we would normally expect to undertaken by the council itself.

So embedded was Dawnus into the council’s structure that last year, when it had already become obvious that Dawnus was in trouble, the council was paying for Dawnus’s supplies as the company’s own accounts were blocked. Despite that, Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn handed Dawnus a two million pound contract to alleviate flooding in Beaumaris. A job that was left unfinished when Dawnus finally collapsed.

Another contract in the north was with Natural Resources Wales at the Gwydir Forest, where Dawnus was strengthening four reservoirs. And NRW had other contracts with Dawnus. One project I passed regularly was the tree-felling above the A487 a few miles north of Machynlleth.

The amazing thing perhaps about this whole business is that anyone dealing with Dawnus knew long before the event that the company was in serious financial trouble, so why was Dawnus allowed to limp on?

TRYING TO FOLLOW THE MONEY

This Swansea company that grew from nothing into an international operator with a £200 million annual turnover started to go downhill in 2014/15 after the Ebola outbreak affected its operations in Sierra Leone. At least, that’s the generally accepted theory.

Soon after this Ebola-inspired downturn we see the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, whose Linkedin profile tells us that, “After 30 plus years of working in overseas locations , mainly the Middle East and Canada I am finally returning to work in the UK. Dawnus Construction wish to grow their operations in London and the South East and this represents a new challenge for me.”

click to enlarge

He says he joined Dawnus Construction Ltd as director for London and the South East, and his Linkedin profile says this was in October 2015, but Companies House insists Down wasn’t a director of any Dawnus company until 15 April 2016. That was when he joined Dawnus Southern Ltd, Ashbridge Construction Ltd and Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (which had been Dawnus Construction Ltd until 22 October 2013).

Later that year, on 11 November, he became a partner in Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP (resigning 1 October 2018), before joining Dawnus Group Ltd as a director on 15 February 2017.

I don’t know what to make of this discrepancy over his initial involvement because I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t know who they’re working for, or when they started. Though I suppose we have to accept the rest of his Linkedin entry, which tells us he had previously worked for Laing O’Rourke and Carillion.

Linkedin also tells us Down became Dawnus group managing director in January 2018. Before becoming a director of all the other companies in the group 10/12 March 2018. By which time the skids were well and truly greased.

All of which makes Down joining Dawnus a strange career move, unless he was assured that there was a future at Dawnus, maybe a future guaranteed by players keeping a low profile.

Soon after Down took control a Chattel Mortgage was secured from HSBC Bank plc, on 16 March 2018. This was added to seven other charges taken out between August 2017 and February 2018, either with Lloyds Bank or HSBC. These earlier loans were all against land and property owned by the company.

On 28 March two charges were delivered by ‘Welsh Ministers’ against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (DCH). But only one of them appears to have been delivered against other Dawnus companies in the group.

The one specific to DCH being charge number 042305790020, and if we scroll down to page 10, we start a long list of construction site material, much of it heavy and expensive machinery. By the time we get to page 17 we can see that much of this machinery is in Liberia, with some in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Extract from HSBC Chattel Mortgage on Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd, click to enlarge

This looks to be exactly the same equipment listed in the HSBC Chattel Mortgage. Which suggests that Dawnus took out a mortgage with HSBC and then, less than two weeks later, the ‘Welsh Ministers’ seemed to ‘cover’ the HSBC loan (or part of it).

This raises a number of issues. To begin with, it might disprove the theory that a great deal of machinery came home from Sierra Leone when Ebola struck in 2014/15. Did it move down the road to Liberia, or was there always equipment in Liberia?

What we know is that more equipment went out from Swansea to west Africa before Christmas. I have now seen photographs and other evidence for these shipments.

click to enlarge

And we are talking big money here. Even second-hand machines can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. While a source tells me there’s a thriving export market in second-hand equipment to the land of Uncle Sam, due to the fact that all new machinery sold there must be made in the USA.

The ‘Welsh Government’ is said to have handed over £3.5m, of which two million has been repaid. This was done in early July and the ‘Description of Assets’ would appear to be machines at the Swansea depot, now cleared for export.

But was the ‘Welsh Government’ actually repaid some of the money it was owed, or was it a charade to justify releasing those machines? Perhaps under instructions from a higher authority? Something we’ll consider in a moment.

A FLOCK OF PHOENIX!

In the previous post I told you that since the ‘collapse’ of Dawnus a new company had been formed, called Dawnus International Group Ltd, formed 22 March. Well, it’s already shed the Dawnus name to become DIG International Group Ltd.

And now there’s another new company, Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, Incorporated 28 March. The sole director is Andrew Kenneth Keay of Cardiff.

You may recall that we met Keay in the previous post. He was sole director of Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd from its Incorporation 20 February 2013 until its dissolution 9 June 2015. Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd was resurrected 25 August 2015 with Keay again as sole director.

Keay has also been in business using his own name with Keay Cost Value Engineering Ltd, 9 August 2004 until 28 July 2015.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the original Dawnus Commercial Management folded in June 2015, Keay Cost Value Engineering folded in July, and then Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd was re-born in August.

But that still doesn’t tell us who Keay is, how he fits into the Dawnus picture, and why he uses the name.

Another company I mentioned earlier was Legsun Ltd, where we find Nick Down as director and Timothy Alun Lowe serving as both director and secretary. While not a new company, Legsun had life breathed into a couple of weeks ago when it was able to satisfy three charges with the National Westminster Bank plc.

Legsun Ltd accounts for y/e 31.12.2017, click to enlarge

Quite an achievement for a company that returned a loss of £4,147,000 on turnover of £9,298,000 for year ending 31.12.2017, compared with £1,184,000 and £17,496,000 respectively for the previous year. So how was Legsun able to do it?

These charges were satisfied on the very day it became publicly known that Dawnus had collapsed.

All of which makes it quite obvious that ‘Dawnus’ may have collapsed but certain parts of the group are being hived off to carry on. They may eventually drop the Dawnus name, and will probably be operating overseas.

FLYING THE FLAG?

I am now convinced that the UK government was instrumental in the Dawnus disaster. I believe that Dawnus was propped up – with the help of the ‘Welsh Government’ – for as long as was necessary to prepare things in Africa, then the prop was removed.

Which is a hell of a thing to say, but the evidence is out there. Or rather, as I hope to prove, it’s here, and you’re going to read it.

As I’ve said, everybody knew Dawnus was up Shit Creek, and it’s been known for well over a year, Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn paying Dawnus’ bills is just one example of this. But Dawnus couldn’t be allowed to collapse until things were ready.

The rot had set in some time before that, maybe it was down to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Maybe not. Whatever the truth is, the problems confronting Dawnus, and the company’s resultant vulnerability, probably explain the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down.

Down tells us that he had worked in senior positions overseas for most of his working life, much of it in a sensitive region like the Middle East. He would therefore have had regular contact with the Foreign Office, and perhaps other agencies.

This explains his being sent to Dawnus. The exact manner of his appointment I’m still unsure about, but that doesn’t really matter, what’s important is his background and the timing of his arrival.

For Dawnus was to become a company run at arms-length by the UK government to serve the UK’s strategic interests in another sensitive region, Africa. For while there had been a tendency to ignore sub-Saharan Africa in the post-colonial period recent Chinese investment in the continent had changed all that.

Where’s the evidence?

OK, let’s go back to August last year, when the prime minister Theresa May was in South Africa, and we heard of a ‘Swansea consortium’, involving Dawnus, Swansea University, and Hydro Industries Ltd of Llangennech. (The Uni and Hydro Industries had in fact shacked up in January.)

Image courtesy of Getty Images, click to enlarge

So who or what is Hydro Industries? Well, it seems to have been a small company, bumping along, under the directorship of David Pickering and a couple of others. That is Dai Pickering formerly of the Welsh Rugby Union, arch-Brit and obsequious royalist.

Pickering, together with Wayne Preece and Robert Lovering, took over the company in January 2013 from its founders. After more than five years of glorious obscurity they were joined on the board in June 2018 by Guto Harri, former BBC journalist and later ‘communications director’ for Boris Johnson.

Why would Tory insider Harri join a small company in Carmarthenshire? What’s more, one in a very poor financial state.

For the most recent accounts for Hydro Industries, up to 31 March 2017, make for grim reading. Yet despite being in such a parlous state the three director still paid themselves £290,489, and also made a political donation of £20,000! (Socialist Workers Party, probably.)

click to enlarge

Harri was soon followed by other big hitters, check them out for yourself. If you’re wondering who Diane Marguerite Marie Briere De L’isle is I can tell you that she’s the French wife of Henry Englehardt, American founder of Admiral Insurance.

So one minute we have a little company in Carmarthenshire up to its neck in debt, and the next minute it’s attracting rich and influential people, who now control and own the company, with Dai and his mates kept on for appearance’ sake . . . though I’m sure they’re getting well paid for it.

And all this happens at the same time as troubled Dawnus is taken over, hollowed out and asset stripped, with the expensive equipment shipped off to Africa, and once that’s all done Dawnus is allowed to collapse. And we know these events are linked because the prime minister is in RSA pushing a ‘Swansea Consortium’.

Dawnus was kept alive and then put down, throwing Welsh people out of work, leaving Welsh sub-contractors and Welsh suppliers unpaid. Leaving contracts across Wales unfinished, causing misery and disruption to many, many people.

And the ‘Welsh Government’ collaborated enthusiastically in this conspiracy to inflict misery on Welsh people. ‘Welsh’ Labour became a willing party to England’s protection of her post-colonial interests in Africa by doing down, yet again, her first and oldest colony.

This about sums up the Labour Party . . . and devolution . . . and Wales’ relationship with England. When are we going to learn?

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 09:00: Something in the back of my mind told me, ‘Check on Dai Pickering – haven’t you read something somewhere?’ So I did. And I had. Pickering ‘bought’ the Llangennech site where we find Hydro Industries.

Initially Carmarthenshire County Council bought the site from the MoD and sold it on in a ‘no other bidders’ deal to Pickering. Or so it was assumed, but the Land Registry makes clear that the site is actually owned by his partner Robert Lovering.

But Pickering was the perfect door-opener – Oh, Dai Pickering, played for Wales. Tidy boy, mun – what do he wunt?’ And he had debts. But his record as a rugby player and then as a WRU official meant he was perfect for whoever wanted to impress the locals and make use of the Llangennech site.

Among those that took up residence on the Llangennech site was the Prince’s Trust, and wouldn’t you know it – Brigadier Rick Libbey, now Chief Operating Officer of Hydro Industries, “spent four years as the Director of The Prince’s Trust Cymru and Director for South West England”.

I suggest you read Cneifiwr’s article in which he refers to a piece by Paddy French of Rebecca Television. Also worth a read is this Carmarthenshire Planning item from October 2017. These explain the background to the Llangennech deal. And they make clear that certain people have friends in very high places.

Given the involvement of Mark James and Swansea University I do hope the UK government isn’t planning to further rip off the Swansea City deal to serve its interests in Africa.

Dawnus

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

A story that’s taken up a lot of column inches and air time recently is the collapse of contractors Dawnus; which is sad in so many ways; lost jobs, another blow for my home town, and public money down the Swanee. (Or, in this case, the Tawe.) It’s this final consideration that seems to have exercised the minds of our tribunes and our scribblers.

But the interest has been only superficial.

Here’s a piece from the Wasting Mule that seems satisfied to learn that two million pounds from a ‘Welsh Government’ loan of three and a half million has been returned, with the spokesperson confident that they’d soon see the balance.

click to enlarge

From reading that article you might get the impression that there’s a single company called Dawnus which received just one loan. The truth is rather different, and quite confusing.

MORE THAN JUST A COMPANY

There are no less than 10 companies bearing the Dawnus name (with another dissolved). Then there are other companies also operating out of Unit 7 Dyffryn Court, Riverside Business Park, Swansea Vale, SA7 0AP, not far from Junction 45 of the M4.

The full list of Dawnus companies with dates of their formation is:

  1. Dawnus Construction Holdings Limited (Originally Dawnus Construction Ltd) (07.06.2001)
  2. Dawnus Ltd (21.02.2002)
  3. Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd (Originally Dawnus Developments Ltd) (14.01.2003)
  4. Dawnus International Ltd (Originally Dawnus Plant Ltd) (23.01.2003)
  5. Churchfield Homes Ltd (Originally Dawnus Homes Ltd) (06.01.2004)
  6. Dawnus Developments Ltd (Originally Dawnus Holdings Ltd) (20.10.2004)
  7. Construction Recyclate Management Ltd (Originally Dawnus Northern Ltd) (02.08.2005)
  8. Quantum Geotechnical Ltd (Originally Construction Geotechnical Ltd) (22.09.2011)
  9. Dawnus Holdings Ltd
  10. Dawnus Southern Ltd (08.04.2011)
  11. Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd (1) (20.02.2013 – 09.06.2015)
  12. Dawnus Group Ltd (02.09.2013)
  13. Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd (2) (24.08.2015)
  14. Dawnus Consulting Ltd (18.05.2018)
  15. Dawnus International Group Ltd (22.03.2019)

A number of things struck me when compiling that list. First, the sheer number of companies. Second, the way names seem to switch within the group. Third, Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd, why did it dissolve in June 2015 and resurrect in August, with the same director, Andrew Keay?

Come to that, who is Andrew Keay and why is he using the Dawnus name? All I know at the moment is that he also had his own company, Keay Cost Value Engineering Ltd, and this also went belly-up in July 2015.

Then, last Friday, a new company was formed, Dawnus International Group Limited, with its address given as, ‘c/o Acuity Legal Limited, 3 Assembly Square, Britannia Quay, Cardiff CF10 4PL’.

Acuity Law is well-connected in Cardiff Bay, and also with the higher levels of officialdom in Wales. Which explains why they’re lawyers for Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James. And they’ve done a great job of defending – nay, burnishing! – his reputation. Acuity will in no small part be responsible for the outpouring of communal grief that will accompany James’ retirement in June.

Of course most companies begin life using the address of an accountant or a lawyer before changing to a more permanent address, but I just find it significant that in this case it should be Acuity Law.

Now let us turn to loans made to Dawnus. Yes, there’s more than one.

WHO OWES WHAT, AND TO WHOM?

The newspaper article I reproduced above tells us that the Cardiff Bay management team made a loan of £3.5 million to ‘Dawnus’ of which two million has been repaid. So there shouldn’t be much to worry about. Mmm . . .

Except that . . .

  • Working our way down the list of Dawnus companies in the order seen in the previous section we find two outstanding charges against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd with ‘the Welsh Ministers’, delivered 28.03.2018, both part-cleared 02.07.2018. (Do these part-cleared charges account for the repaid £2m?)
  • There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus Ltd delivered 28.03.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd, delivered 06.04.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus International Ltd, delivered 28.08.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Churchfield Homes Ltd, delivered 28.03.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus Developments Ltd, delivered 28.03.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Quantum Geotechnical Ltd, delivered 28.03.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus Southern Ltd, delivered 28.08.2018.
  • There is one outstanding charge against the Dawnus Group Ltd, delivered 28.03.2018.

So there are at least three charges.

But we need to be careful because when querying similar charges – with the Development Bank for Wales – for a number of companies run by the same individual, and asking why a company based in London had received funding, I was initially given the ‘group’ answer.

click to enlarge

But in the example I was querying there was no group, just many companies run by the same guy, Jimbo Lynch of Cardigan (for it is he!).

And then I checked with Companies House and wondered why alarm bells didn’t ring in Cardiff when this appeared on the document –

click to enlarge

Beachbay is a company that has bought and runs property in London, it should never have received funding from what was then Finance Wales. I’m now waiting for another excuse explanation.

It’s obviously much easier to make the ‘group’ argument with Dawnus, but if so, then which is the parent company? And even if the group explanation holds, there are still at least three outstanding charges; two delivered on 28.03.2018, and one on 06.04.2018 to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd.

Though this last one raises the question of whether the Development Bank for Wales should be funding a company that presumably operates in west Africa.

Newspaper and media reports give the impression there is just one company, yet we know there are many using the Dawnus name. This BBC Wales report only confuses matters further by (at the foot) introducing a company called Dawnus Liberia, which I can’t find anywhere.

Though an internet search for Dawnus Liberia turned up this article which mentions Legsun Building Services. The company is actually called Legsun Ltd, and is based in Cardiff. When I checked the Legsun directors I saw the names Timothy Alun Lowe and Nicholas Charles Down, names I recognised from the Dawnus companies.

In fact, Down was appointed to the boards of 12 companies at the Dawnus address on March 10/12 last year. Some of these companies do not carry the Dawnus name but are presumably part of the group. Companies like Ashridge Construction Ltd, Pond Bridge Management Company Ltd, Dyffryn Court Management Ltd and Medrus Plant Hire Ltd (that began life in 2011 as Port Talbot Tyres). To confuse matters, there is also Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP.

Apart from the LLP all the companies have charges against them – or are covered by the group charge – held by ‘the Welsh Ministers’ and delivered 28.03.2018, just two weeks after Down became a director for most of them.

Let us return to Legsun for a moment, where we found both Lowe and Down serving as directors. The accounts to 31.12.2017 record a loss of £4,147,000 on turnover of £9,298,000, compared with £1,184,000 and £17,496,000 respectively for the previous year.

Yet despite apparently being up Shit Creek, Legsun was able to settle three charges on March 14 with the National Westminster Bank, the very day it was announced that Dawnus was in administration. Did the money come from Dawnus Group Ltd, as is suggested in the extract below from the accounts?

click to enlarge

And if so, was it simply moving money beyond the reach of creditors, or was there something else going on?

Nicholas Charles Down first appears in April 2016 as a director of three companies – Dawnus Southern, Dawnus Construction Holdings and Ashbridge Construction. In November we find him as one of the original designated members of Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP. He joins Dawnus Group Ltd in February 2017, and finally, as we’ve just seen, he becomes director of a whole raft of companies in March 2018, including Legsun.

So who is Nicholas Charles Down? Well, here’s his Linkedin profile which tells us that before joining Dawnus he was managing director of Laing O’Rourke for three and a half years.

click to enlarge

You’ll note that Down’s Linkedin profile says he became a director of ‘Dawnus Construction Ltd’ in October 2015, but that name was not used after October 2013; Companies House tells us he became a director of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd 15.04.2016.

How do we account for this discrepancy? Was he there ‘undercover’ from October 2015 before becoming a registered director in April 2016? It’s possible, because according to his Linkedin profile he left his previous post at Laing O’Rourke in June 2015.

Though I can’t find Down listed as a director for any Laing O’Rourke company.

Someone else who got involved around the same time was Albert James Barclay, a Scot, who was director of Carillion Construction (West Indies) Ltd from June 2005 until August 18, 2017. That company was wound up in November 2018, a casualty of the more general collapse of the Carillion group.

Barclay has been, since 12.03.2018, a director of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd and, since 25.08.2017, a designated member of Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP.

ALL PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR?

The reason I decided to write this piece is because someone contacted me with rather disturbing information. As I’ve hinted, Dawnus did a great deal of work in west Africa, principally Sierra Leone.

This work was badly hit by the outbreak of Ebola, which began in January 2014. As a result of which a great deal of heavy machinery was shipped back to Wales and parked up in the Dawnus yard in Clydach.

One source insists that this heavy equipment accounted for a considerable part of the Dawnus group’s assets.

About a week ago someone popped down to the yard and mooched around a bit. It seems there’s a new security firm from Carmarthen on site and so the guard he spoke with couldn’t tell him much. But my mate wandered around, looked through the fence and estimated that the yard had room for a hundred or so sizeable machines, but there were only five there. It was clear that many of the spaces had recently been vacated.

Perhaps the intention always was that this equipment would return to Africa, and that’s what I’m told happened towards the end of last year when almost all the equipment was shipped out again, presumably back to Sierra Leone.

click to enlarge

Which means that at a time when everybody – including suppliers, sub-contractors and ‘Welsh Government’ – knew that Dawnus was in deep, deep trouble, big money assets were leaving the country.

I can’t help but wonder if the numbers given on the part-repayment made by Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd refers to heavy machinery. If so, then the part-repayment might have cleared them to be exported from August or September onwards.

But was Peter being robbed to pay Paul? Or to put it bluntly, could the loan in April – that no one seems to talk about – have funded the part-repayment in July?

This almost certainly links to the one constant in the Dawnus media reports, which say UK work has stopped but ‘overseas operations will continue’, or that only group companies operating in the UK are in the hands of the receivers.

But with a Byzantine structure like the Dawnus group of companies who knows what’s what? Does the ‘Welsh Government’ know which companies are in receivership? For nothing is filed yet with Companies House to say that any Dawnus company is in receivership.

TRYING TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER

If Sierra Leone and Ebola were the undoing of Dawnus, then the problems started at the beginning of 2014. But in fairness, Dawnus didn’t just cut and run; no, the company stayed and helped fight the outbreak. And the UK Government also sent help, including military personnel.

Image courtesy of Imperial War Museum, click to enlarge

Let’s put together a little timeline to help us make sense of the events leading up to the Dawnus collapse and subsequent happenings:

  1. Up to 2013 things seem to be going well, at home and in Africa
  2. January 2014, Ebola outbreak begins in Sierra Leone
  3. Heavy equipment is moved from Sierra Leone to Wales
  4. The company’s financial health starts to suffer
  5. Late 2015/early 2016, Nick Down appears
  6. March 2018, the ‘Welsh Ministers’ loan Dawnus £3m
  7. April 2018, there is a further loan specific to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd
  8. From August/September 2018 Dawnus becomes noticeably slower in paying suppliers and sub-contractors
  9. From September 2018, it is reported that heavy equipment is leaving Swansea for Sierra Leone.
  10. March 13/14 2019, it is announced that Dawnus is in the hands of receivers
  11. March 14, 2019, loss-making Legsun satisfies three charges
  12. March 22, Dawnus International Group Ltd registered with Companies House

So what does that tell us? To begin with, it doesn’t tell us how or why – or at whose request? – Nicholas Charles Down got involved with Dawnus. One source is adamant that everything started to go pear-shaped with his arrival. Though I suspect that the writing was on the wall and Down was brought it to sort things out.

Turning to the ‘Welsh Ministers’. It’s obvious that their loan (or loans) is linked with Down taking control of so many companies in March 2018. It’s equally clear that this was never going to be enough to save the Dawnus group, it was just enough money to keep it limping along for a while.

Long enough for Dawnus to be restructured and the heavy equipment moved back to Africa. Though the ‘Welsh Government’ must have been aware of this, for it almost certainly explains the further loan, in April 2018, to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd. Should this loan have ever been made?

Among the known unknowns is new company Dawnus International Group Ltd, for the directors are names previously associated with the Dawnus group. So is the new company challenging the new regime?

Whatever street-fighting may still be going on in the ruins of Dawnus this whole business reflects very badly on the ‘Welsh Government’. For Dawnus was a major Welsh company and serious investment might have saved the group, but the miserably inadequate contribution made only delayed the inevitable. And the ‘Welsh Government’ knew that when it made the loans.

When I think of the money showered on every crook and chancer who crosses the border with a half-baked idea scrawled on the back of a fag packet it makes me angry to see that nothing was done to save a major Welsh company already in business, with good contracts, providing work for hundreds of our people.

Instead, the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ appears to have encouraged, facilitated, and perhaps funded, the demise of Dawnus. The only question remaining is, was this done through malice or incompetence?

At the end of the day, for all those who’ve suffered, does it really matter?

♦ end ♦

Devolution has failed; Wales either moves forward or we get taken back

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 am a nationalist; all my life I have wanted my country, Wales, and my people, the Welsh, to be independent of Britain/England.

I want independence now more than ever.

THE CASE FOR THE ASSEMBLY

Let me start this section by admitting that this piece was prompted by something I read in yesterday’s Wasting Mule. (See below.)

The thought of those buffoons down Cardiff docks having a self-congratulatory bash  for twenty years of devolution is insulting to every one of us outside of the tiny minority that has benefited from devolution.

The picture shows people celebrating the referendum result in September 1997. I guarantee there will be no such celebrations for the Assembly’s 20th birthday – no matter how much free booze is laid on. Click to enlarge

Even so, let us try to be positive and look on the bright side, let’s try to remember the good things that twenty years of devolution have delivered.

Well, there’s . . . um . . . and then there’s, er . . . and we mustn’t forget, uh, you know . . .

Truth is that in concrete and positive terms – beyond free prescriptions and other gimmicks – there really is nothing. For unless you’re Stan ‘the pies’ Thomas or some other ‘developer’, a third sector parasite who smelled easy money and slithered over the border, or you’re one the shysters with their snout in the grants trough, there really is nothing to celebrate about two decades of devolution.

Away from the banal and the everyday we are told by otherwise intelligent people that devolution is a wonderful thing because Wales is taken more seriously as a country because we have an Assembly. We are now in the realm of the symbolic.

Don’t get me wrong, in my younger days I was a great one for the symbolism myself. It’s why I tried to saw the head off a statue in Aberystwyth prior to the Investiture in 1969. For what could be more symbolic than beheading the statue of a soi-disant ‘Prince of Wales’ to remind our people of the beheading of a true Prince of Wales in 1282?

But symbolism can only take you so far. It don’t put food on the table. So I reject the ‘more of a country’ argument. To those who truly care, Wales has always been a country, with or without devolution.

And if symbolism is the best that defenders of devolution can come up with, then in reality there’s little to be said in favour of the Assembly, and nothing to celebrate.

THE CASE AGAINST THE ASSEMBLY

It is proven by countless surveys and studies that Wales is worse off today than she was in 1999 when the First Assembly sat. Whether it’s the economy we look at, or education, the health service, or any other field, Wales has gone backwards over the past twenty years.

That would be bad enough, but because of devolution, and the absurd symbolism attached to the Assembly, devolution has facilitated damage that would have been difficult if not impossible to inflict directly from London.

What am I taking about? Let’s consider a few examples.

I’ve mentioned the third sector, so let me explain what I mean. I’m talking now of the influx we’ve seen of third sector ‘professionals’ to set up or grow organisations that supplement or replace local and/or central government agencies. This influx has been so great that we now have a much bigger third sector pro rata than either England or Scotland.

And because the driving imperative is securing careers and salaries rather than public service devolution has created a vast superstructure of publicly funded bodies competing with each other and duplicating each other’s work. For as I was informed in the answer to a Freedom of Information request submitted to the ‘Welsh Government’ we have no less than 48 organisations combating homelessness.

click to enlarge

Each and every one of those organisations has a vested interest in NOT solving the problem of homelessness because to do so would mean a loss of funding resulting in many people losing their cushy jobs.

What applies to homelessness can be extended to every other segment of the third sector – duplication, competition, waste of public funding and a financial disincentive to achieving the espoused goal.

Why does this insane system persist? Because a bloated third sector provides benefits for ‘Welsh’ Labour:

  1. ‘Welsh’ Labour can blame the need for such extravagance on the Tories.
  2. A vast third sector needed to combat Tory callousness allows ‘Welsh’ Labour to present itself as ‘caring’.
  3. The third sector provides countless opportunities for ‘Welsh’ Labour to practice the cronyism for which it is rightly famed.
  4. ‘Welsh’ Labour uses the third sector as an auxiliary organisation to the party proper and even as a means to extend the influence of the party in areas of the country where it has little electoral support.

This third sector is a creation of devolution, and would be retained, or even expanded, if Plaid Cymru was in coalition with Labour or replaced Labour.

Now let’s consider ways in which Wales is damaged that would have been far more difficult to achieve were it not for devolution.

Not so long ago I wrote about the despoliation of Powys by wind turbines. Specifically, the Hendy site where, under pressure from her London masters, the wretched Leslie Griffiths over-ruled the planning inspector’s decision and allowed the development to proceed.

Let’s say we had no devolution, and someone in London had said; ‘Now look, you Welsh chappies, we intend desecrating some place called Llan-thingey so that some of our hedge fund chums can capitalise on the generous subsidies’. I suggest there would have been a hostile reaction.

But run it through the ‘Welsh Government’ filter, throw in a load of bollocks about saving the planet, and the only objectors can be dismissed as a bunch of ‘nimbys’.

Staying with environmental bollocks, the ‘Welsh Government’ has signed up to the One Planet scam, which in Wales means encouraging an influx of hippies to take over land and ignore planning and other regulations because it’s good for the environment, innit.

The justification given is that Wales must reduce her carbon footprint . . . so we are expected to believe that this can be achieved by encouraging people into Wales, letting them take over unused land, working that land, driving their vehicles around the countryside, and filling the air with smoke from their wood-burning stoves, their joss sticks, and whatever they’re smoking.

Let the full idiocy of that premiss sink in for a minute.

Emboldened by previous successes these well-to-do enviro-shysters are no longer satisfied with hobbit houses and pig shit, they have now set their eyes on vast swathes of our country – and again, the ‘Welsh Government’ is helping, as we see with the Summit to Sea project, the first of many.

The area claimed by Summit to Sea runs along the coast from Aberdyfi to Aberystwyth then inland, following the A44 up to Llangurig (deviating south to Cwmystwth) and then on to Llanidloes, after which it’s the minor road up to Llanbrynmair, and Glantwymyn, before heading down the Dyfi valley to Aberdyfi. The area of sea claimed begins well north of Aberdyfi near Llanfendigaid. Click to enlarge.

Again I ask you to imagine a spokesperson for the London government announce, ‘We shall clear Welsh farmers and other indigenes from the land so that thousands of acres can be taken over by Mr Monbiot and his friends for their rewilding projects’.

There would have been a national outcry . . . but get the ‘Welsh Government’ to promote this clearance and colonisation programme and it confuses the issue, and makes it much easier to push it through.

What I’m describing here is what I’ve dubbed ‘The Godfather Syndrome’. You’ll recall that in that movie the Mafia had a profitable relationship with the Batista regime. Hardly surprising seeing as US corporations controlled the economic life of Cuba and despite being nominally independent the island was almost a colony of the USA.

Something similar is happening in Wales, with the beneficiaries speaking Estuary English rather than Brooklynese. Some may think I’m going too far with this analogy but the facilitating principle is the same – weak leadership here and a colonial relationship with their home country allows such groups and individuals to benefit from our country, at our expense.

Small countries and ex-colonies being run by remote control is a global phenomenon. For example, the ‘stans’ of Central Asia are of course independent – but still take orders from the Kremlin. The former French colonies in West Africa remain under a loose form of French control and the old colonial power regularly sends in the Legion to safeguard its interests.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that George Monbiot is to be compared with Michael Corleone, Vladimir Putin or the President of France but the truth persists that well-organised lobbies and groups such as those to which Monbiot belongs have looked at Wales and said, ‘Mmm, here is a small country, with a devolved legislature and an Assembly stuffed with third-rate politicians that we can bend to our will’.

And because Monbiot and his ilk have establishment connections they are aided by the fact that so much of our national life is controlled by civil servants that ostensibly serve the ‘Welsh Government’ but in reality answer to London.

But it’s not just Monbiot and his environmentalist friends, there’a whole galaxy of interests able to take advantage of ‘The Godfather Syndrome’ in ways that would be impossible without the chimera of devolution and a ‘Welsh’ Assembly acting as a ‘screen’ for what is – as in pre-Castro Cuba – thinly-disguised colonialism.

Finally, there’s the naked corruption. Cardiff Bay is a cess-pit where politicians and civil servants can be ‘influenced’, to the extent that the ‘Welsh Government’ is unique on this island in refusing to introduce a register of lobbyists . . . at the insistence of the lobbyists!

WHERE DO WE GO NEXT?

You must understand that devolution was never supposed to work for Wales. We were offered devolution, in a package with Scotland, because there were some in the Labour Party that agreed with George Robertson, who thought that devolution would “kill the SNP stone dead”.

Obviously he was wrong about the SNP, but in Wales devolution has worked perfectly because ‘the threat of nationalism’ has been represented by Plaid Cymru. After the initial shock of the first Assembly elections in 1999 Plaid obligingly removed Dafydd Wigley and then went on to bury its head up its arse by becoming obsessed with niche issues.

This is why those who argue that devolution is a ‘stepping-stone’ to independence are wrong. As are those who believe that devolution could work if we only ‘got rid of Labour’.

What devolution has achieved – and what it was designed to achieve – is to create a class of politicians, apparatchiki, third sector operatives and others, who either rely on devolution for their pay cheques or else enjoy having status and prestige without the responsibility that would come with independence.

And for as long as it toes the London line this colonial management class will be defended and supported by its Whitehall masters, for it disguises what is not merely continuing control from London but increased control.

Which leaves Wales stuck in a situation where not only is devolution not delivering for Wales, it is actually making things worse than they would be without devolution.

Which, for me, means the choice has to be moving forward or going back. And I want to move forward, to independence. But one of the biggest, and most bizarre, obstacles is that many of those claiming to want independence rush to the defence of devolution!

Make up your bloody mind – you can’t have both!

Image Jane Barlow PA/AP/File reproduced courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor. Click to enlarge.

The UK is already tearing itself apart over Brexit and this leads to an increasing likelihood of Scottish independence and Irish reunification, and then there’s the rise of the far right in England, all of which mean there has never been a better time to push for independence.

Devolution is thoroughly discredited, so anyone defending devolution is lining up with the colonial management class and their London masters.

We must be bold and push for independence, because defending the indefensible leaves the field open for those who will capitalise on devolution’s manifest failure to take us in the opposite direction and, ultimately, assimilation.

But being asked to ‘celebrate’ twenty years of devolution takes me back to 1969 and the Investiture, when we were asked to commemorate 700 years of subjugation. Now where did I put those hacksaws . . .

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 12

EXPLANATION: This post was originally put up on March 18 and taken down after I received a hand-delivered letter after dark on March 26. Having now given the matter considerable thought I have reinstated this posting and will continue with the Weep for Wales series.

A short explanation was posted in place of Weep for Wales 12, which garnered the comments you’ll see prior to the reposting on August 25.

It was taken down for a second time after another threatening letter from Myles Andrew Cunliffe on August 28, and reposted after a minor revision.

Those who follow soap operas will be familiar with new characters appearing and old favourites being written out. And so it is with this saga that began with Paul and Rowena Williams. For as they (appear to) slip into the wings new figures take to the stage.

As I always say at this stage – and if you have a couple of hours to spare – you might want to catch up with previous instalments: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8, Weep for Wales 9, Weep for Wales 10, Weep for Wales 11 and Weep for Wales 11A (section 2 of a larger post).

PREVIOUSLY . . .

We left the story, at Weep for Wales 11A, having just met the latest addition to the cast in the form of Myles Andrew Cunliffe. So how is Myles settling in, and what have we learnt about him?

On 19 February Companies House was notified that Rowena Williams ceased to be a director of Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, the company that, apparently, owns Plas Glynllifon. This leaves Paul Williams and Myles Cunliffe as directors. Though the 10,000 shares are divided equally between Rowena Williams and Mylo Capital Ltd, which is of course Cunliffe’s company.

Gwesty Seiont Manor Ltd is in the process of being struck off. And as I also reported in Weep for Wales 11A, the registered office address for Seiont Manor Hotel Limited – sole director Rikki Reynolds – has moved from Plas Glynllifon to the office of accountant and convicted fraudster John Duggan in Leintwardine, Craven Arms. And now there is a third company using the Seiont Manor name in the form of Seiont Manor Ltd, which has a Manchester address and Cunliffe as sole director.

We also learnt that staff were not being paid at Seiont Manor. And the news spread within the industry to the point where warnings were being posted on social media.

Click to enlarge

What I may have neglected to mention is that Plas Glynllifon Limited, which owns the mansion and some land around, for which Paul and Rowena Williams ‘paid’ £630,000 in 2016, now has three directors; the gruesome twosome and Cunliffe. The registered office address for this outfit has also moved to the Manchester address used by Cunliffe, but nothing has yet been filed with Companies House to tell us how the shares are allocated.

Also worth noting is that there are no less than eight outstanding charges against Plas Glynllifon Limited, all held by Together Commercial Finance Ltd.

NEW PLOT LINES

You’ll recall that in Weep for Wales 10 I reported on the former member of staff, a disabled man, who’d taken Paul and Rowena Williams to an Industrial Tribunal and been awarded £27,907.42. The details are here.

Well, there’s been another case and this time the award was just under £12,000.

You’ll notice in the report Paul Williams claiming he didn’t turn up in court because he didn’t realise the case was on. The implication being that had he known he would have scampered to the court-house, camped outside overnight, and then exposed this scalawag trying to besmirch his impeccable reputation.

Click to enlarge

This is pure Paul Williams. Whenever he’s called to an ‘awkward’ interview or meeting he avoids attending with some silly excuse – he’s gone down with Yellow Jack, been trampled by a runaway rhino, abducted by aliens . . .

The bloke is such a liar he should try his hand at writing. He could be the next Jeffrey Archer.

It should also go without saying that neither of those former employees awarded money will ever see a penny – for on his way to the bank Paul Williams will be ambushed by Jesse James and his gang!

Another piece of important news is that the Administrator’s progress report for Leisure & Development Limited came out last week. Here it is full. Section 1.1.2 says a lot about Paul and Rowena Williams. As does 1.1.7.

While I’m not holding my breath, 1.2 does offer hope that these bastards will get the comeuppance they deserve.

Click to enlarge

Interesting for its omission was any mention of the eleven million pounds earlier claimed by Paul and Rowena Williams, a sum that made them the biggest creditors. Because, you’ll recall, they said they’d sold Leisure & Development Limited to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge for £11m just before the company went belly-up but never saw the money.

All that’s left of the Williams empire in Gwynedd appears to be poor neglected Fronoleu, near Dolgellau. A Seiont Manor employee still lives in the seven-bedroom house near to the former restaurant, but his dreams of taking over a refurbished Fronoleu – which is what he was promised – have gone up in smoke.

Though maybe I shouldn’t say that, because I’ve had reports of a couple of suspicious fires associated with Paul Williams. One recent report tells of a fire at Plas Glynllifon:

” . . . there was a fire at the Plas on the Saturday before Halloween . . . all the students had left for half term . . . the fire which was in the courtyard at the back of the mansion and . . . that fire would have burnt the whole house down without any doubt . . . it had started in a bin that held aerosols and paint cans . . . I saw a land rover . . . driving . . . right by the fire, he could not have missed it. I presumed he (the driver) would have called the brigade . . . they had not received a call, and when . . . fire brigade arrive the same land rover drove quickly away from the mansion . . . “.

This could be dismissed as an accidental fire witnessed by someone with an over-active imagination, were it not for the timing. For by late October Paul and Rowena Williams knew their canoe was heading not for Goa but Shit Creek.

They were desperate. And that explains why, just a short time after the fire, Myles Andrew Cunliffe appeared on the scene.

Before leaving Gwynedd I should mention an e-mail I received from someone living near Fronoleu. The message said that the writer was distressed at the state of the (even more distressed) building and was prepared to buy it. So could I provide an address for the owners.

Fronoleu. Click to enlarge

All I could tell them was that I had sent my Christmas card (£20 note enclosed) to, ‘Paul and Rowena Williams, c/o Seiont Manor Hotel, etc‘.

Now we’re off to Cornwall, from where I’ve also received a number of interesting reports.

The first suggests that Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge is buying the Garrack Hotel in St Ives and plans to turn it into ‘accommodation’ of some kind. Staff at the Garrack knew nothing of Part(d)ridge until someone did an internet search and came across the Weep for Wales series, now the staff are very worried.

Though the question remains, for whom is Part(d)ridge buying the Garrack? And how unsavoury does the real buyer have to be to use Part(d)ridge as a front man?

Another convicted fraudster who’s done time is Stuart Paul Cooper who leases the Waves Bar from dissolved Leisure & Development Limited. A bit of a lad, Cooper, who likes to threaten people with violence or arson. (Often both.) Even though he runs the bar the drinks licence is obviously not in his name.

Waves Bar, Seaton, Cornwall. Click to enlarge.

The licence was originally held by Rowena Williams, who of course lived a few hundred miles away, so Cornwall County Council put a stop to that and it was transferred to Cooper’s live-in girlfriend Donna Armstrong, or Westmorland, or whatever name she might be using at any given time.

Companies House seem to know her as Armstrong and she was a director of the Waves Bar and Restaurant Limited, a company set up in April 2017 and dissolved in August 2018 without filing anything of note with Companies House. But then, in September 2018, she and co-director Richard Edward Mayfield set up the Waves Restaurant and Bar Limited.

Doesn’t anyone at Companies House think that’s a bit suspicious?

There is a third company, with Anderson as sole director, and this is Waves Resort and Leisure Ltd, Incorporated in September 2018. The other two can be dismissed as shell companies, but this third company has a single £25,000 share, which is intriguing.

(Cooper of course is disqualified from serving as a company director.)

Stuart Paul Cooper, has been imaginatively described to me as a ‘nose hoover’. Rikki Reynolds, who’s been running Seiont Manor, has a similar liking for the white stuff. And that’s not the only similarity, for here’s a story about Reynolds I was sent a while back but agreed to sit on. I’ve now had clearance to use it.

Click to enlarge

Talking of cocaine and similar substances, it is even suggested that the Waves Bar might be an entrepôt for exotic goods from faraway places landing at Looe.

Before leaving Cornwall, and Looe, I should remind you that there is still Polvellan Manor Ltd which presumably owns the property of the same name. Partdridge is the sole director, but the shares are split equally between him and Paul and Rowena Williams.

Also based at Polvellan Manor is Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, which the gruesome twosome tried to dissolve last year. The sole director here is the mysterious Michael Jones.

AND THE LATEST ADDITION TO THE CAST

Now let’s turn to the new star of the show, Myles Andrew Cunliffe, who seems to have taken over both Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, though official paperwork is still scarce.

As I’ve mentioned previously, Cunliffe’s early background is in personal finance and second-hand cars.

As is my wont when looking into the background of someone like Cunliffe I like to draw up a list of the companies with which they’ve been involved. And that’s what I’ve done. Here’s the document in pdf format with the company name acting as a hyper link.

I’m also making the document available in png format. The links don’t work of course but some of you may find it easier to follow. I suggest you keep it open in a different window.

Click to enlarge

If we look at the document – ordered by date of company formation – we see that the early companies were in the personal finance and second-hand car sector I mentioned. But then, from late in 2011, there’s a switch into property and freight. The two are separated by a black line.

Now let me explain the colouring. The ones shaded in blue are Williams companies that Cunliffe has taken over. The ones at the bottom, in pink, are perhaps replacement companies recently formed by Cunliffe. The ones shaded yellow are companies where Cunliffe’s arrival coincided – almost to the day – with the leaving of Baron Alex Bloom. (Of whom more in a minute.)

The unshaded companies are either dissolved, in the process of being dissolved, or else too new to know much about.

Right, so who is Baron Alex Bloom? An internet search throws up any number of stories about this colourful character, starting here in 2003. But after time in jail this millionaire’s son ‘bounced back’ in 2006. And to bring you up to date here he is in 2018 being accused of dishonesty by a judge during divorce proceedings. ‘Shome mishtake, shurely!’ as Lord Gnome would put it.

Picture courtesy of Daily Mail, click to enlarge

I’m not quite sure how this works, but if you check the chronology, you’ll see that Cunliffe very often becomes a director just before a company goes under. He’s almost like a priest called in to administer the last rites.

And that, I strongly suspect, is what’s happening in north Gwynedd. Cunliffe hasn’t been brought in to rescue Paul and Rowena Williams, there’ll be no money invested in Plas Glynllifon or Seiont Manor; he’s there for other reasons.

When you look through the property and freight companies Cunliffe has been involved with you’re immediately struck by the lack of what Woody Guthrie called the ‘Do Re Mi’, the moolah, the greenbacks.

Click to enlarge

It’s interesting that the Daily Mail account of the divorce proceedings makes clear that Mrs Bloom comes from a wealthy Russian family. Which means that for a while at least Baron Alex Bloom had links to serious Russian money. Maybe he still has.

Through Etaireia Investments – of which Bloom was and Cunliffe remains a director – we find links with the Oyston family estate. The name Owen Oyston will be familiar to football fans and to readers of Private Eye. This article from the Guardian will give you a flavour of the man.

This is not so much a dramatis personae as a cavalcade of grotesques.

UPDATE 20.03.2018: A cavalcade that has been joined by Jonathon Disley who, I am reliably informed, has stayed at the Seiont Manor more than once recently.

THE BROTHER WE NEVER SEE ON SCREEN?

What I also found intriguing was that among the directors of Goldmann and Sons PLC we find a Neil George Cunliffe, some ten years older than Myles Andrew Cunliffe. Are they related?

So what do we know of Neil George Cunliffe?

His Linkedin profile takes us back to 1997 when he was a sales director for a timeshare company on Gran Canaria. He still lives in Spain, in Marbella, and is now a Spanish citizen, though his Linkedin profile does not list all the companies with which he’s been involved. I’ll try to fill in the lacunae.

Goldmann and Sons PLC Incorporated 24.07.2015.  (‘Financial intermediation not elsewhere classified. Other business support service activities not elsewhere classified’.) Neil Cunliffe was a director from 03.04.2018 to 06.05.2018. Myles Cunliffe was a director from 16.03.2017 to 19.10.2018.

The Vanguard Group Limited (‘Development of building projects’.) Incorporated 12.01.2017. Neil Cunliffe was a director between 04.04.2018 and 28.07.2018. No accounts ever filed with Companies House. This company was dissolved 05.03.2019.

Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis Capital (Spain) Limited (‘Central banking. Banks. Financial intermediation not elsewhere classified’.) Incorporated 14.03.2018, name changed from Goldmann and Sons (Spain) Limited in January 2019. Neil George Cunliffe was first and sole director until 01.08.2018 when he was replaced by Thomas James Ellis. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.

Vanguard Land Limited (‘Development of building projects’.) Incorporated 17.05.2018. Neil Cunliffe has been one of the two directors since Incorporation. This company was floated with share capital of 1,000,000 £1 shares. Cunliffe holds 499,000 of the shares. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.

Arden Wealth Limited (‘Management consultancy activities other than financial management’.) Incorporated 12.06.2018. Neil Cunliffe was one of the two founding directors and remains a director. This company was formed with share capital of £5,000,000 divided equally between the two directors. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.

Kenlife Consulting Limited (Management consultancy activities other than financial management.) Incorporated 29.10.2018. Cunliffe was the founding and sole director and holder of the single £1 share until 04.03.2019 when he was joined by a Dutch resident with an Arab-sounding name and an Omani. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.

Do you see the pattern here? – short-lived companies . . . forming and folding with no paperwork filed . . . people holding directorships for very short periods . . . foreign investors . . .

In my investigations I unearthed a whole stable of companies carrying the Goldmann label, and all follow the same pattern. They have either been set up very recently, which means it’s too early for accounts, etc, or, if they’re a few years old, then they’ve been dissolved. Either way, we know little or nothing about them.

Here’s a list of the Goldmann companies. You’ll see that a number of them have undergone name changes from Goldmann to Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis.

THE FINALE

Anyone hoping to see Plas Glynllifon become a top class resort hotel, with high-rollers flying in and out of Caernarfon airport; or the Seiont Manor Hotel get mentioned in the Michelin Guide, should wise up and realise that’s not why people buy these properties.

And this doesn’t just apply to the current owners. Or to these properties.

Image courtesy of Caernarfon airport, click to enlarge

For we have a problem in Wales that I have mentioned before. While we may not have many mansions as grand as Plas Glynllifon we still have thousands of buildings for which there is no viable commercial future, so they get bought by the kinds of people we’ve looked at in the Weep for Wales series.

And it’s so easy.

On the one hand we have a self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, and local authorities – both bereft of ideas – desperately promoting tourism; to the extent that any shyster moving in and buying Neuadd Cwmscwt is hailed as the economic salvation of the area. Not only that – but he/she will very likely receive grants!

Then we have the local media. In the whole saga of Plas Glynllifon under Paul and Rowena Williams the Daily Post published one puff after another. To all intents and purposes the ‘paper was acting as a PR outlet for these crooks. I can imagine the DP editor phoning up Plas Glynllifon on a slow news day and begging, ‘Do you have anything you’d like us to publish for you, Mr Williams – anything!’

There are very few journalists left in Wales. Nobody seems to do background checks and ask the pertinent questions.

Finally, our police forces are overstretched and under-resourced, and no matter what they might suspect, they can do nothing. And anyway, sophisticated crimes like those we’re looking at may be out of their league and their jurisdictions.

We are at the stage now where we, as a country, need to make decisions about grand buildings that serve no purpose, have no future, and fall prey to a succession of undesirables who arrive announcing grand plans that never come to anything.

Rather than allowing Wales to become a haven for asset-strippers, mortgage fraudsters, money-launderers, etc., it might be best to compulsorily purchase and then demolish places like Plas Glynllifon.

end ♦

Poor old Swansea! victim of devolution and Cardiff-centricity

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

THE TOWN I LOVED SO WELL

As you’re probably aware, I am a native of Swansea; as it says on my Twitter profile, “A Jack by blood, birth, upbringing and inclination”. Despite having spent most of my life away from the city it remains my home town, it’s where my roots lie, and it’s where my heart will ever be. (Cue violins.)

When I was very young Swansea was still pulling itself together after being knocked about by the Luftwaffe, and despite the disastrous rebuilding of the centre we kids accepted it – ‘modern, see’. Of course, our parents and grandparents missed the old town, Ben Evans department store (‘the Harrods of Wales’) and all the rest.

And as Dylan Thomas reminds us in Return Journey, so much else was gone, including the famous Kardomah cafe, where he had ‘argued the toss’ with Vernon Watkins, Dan Jones, Arthur Janes and the rest of the gang.

A view from pre-war Swansea, courtesy of Swansea Recalled, click to enlarge

On the economic front, the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s were pretty good, you could tell the boss to F— Off on Friday and find a fresh job on Monday.

Despite what Turks and other disbelievers might say, we had the best rugby team in Wales; in summer, Glamorgan could pull 20,000 to St Helen’s, and in football, well, most of the 1958 World Cup team came from Swansea, and if Big John hadn’t been hacked out by the Hungarians in the previous game we would have beaten Brazil and won the competition.

Obviously there was some disappointment when in 1955 Cardiff was named capital, but we soon got over it because what did the title mean in practical terms? So we shrugged and continued to enjoy being the pre-eminent sub-species.

But since the 1980s it’s been noticeably downhill for Swansea in just about every conceivable sphere. And devolution has only made things worse.

BALLS, AND PLAYING SILLY BUGGERS

I’ve mentioned St Helen’s Rugby and Cricket Ground (to give it its full name), which opened in 1873 and held Wales’ first-ever home rugby international in 1882. It hosted rugby internationals until 1954. I suppose some might say that Swansea’s decline began when it lost rugby international games to Cardiff. For Swansea’s loss is invariably Cardiff’s gain.

Glamorgan v West Indies at St Helen’s, August 1950. Courtesy of Casgliad y Werin. Click to enlarge.

Since losing rugby international matches in 1954 St Helen’s has also lost Glamorgan CCC games to the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, where crowds are smaller than they were at St Helen’s. So the move would appear to make no economic sense, but that’s to miss the point, for the Swalec Stadium was built so that Cardiff can host England games. Yes, honestly. This of course brings money into the city, but with collateral damage in the loss of our national cricket team.

A loss the political and business leaders of Cardiff consider a price worth paying. Which tells us a number of things, among them that it’s not simply Swansea that loses out to Cardiff’s insatiable greed and self-aggrandisement.

Of course, some of Swansea’s wounds are self-inflicted. The city centre is a disaster area. The planning of traffic movement, one-way systems, pedestrianisation and the rest could have been handed over to a bunch of ten-year-olds forty years ago and today they could be showing their adult children around the city with pride – because they couldn’t have done a worse job than successive city administrations. Administrations that, with all-too-brief interludes, have been Labour.

The most recent such interlude was from 2004 until 2012 when the Liberal Democrat-led Swansea Administration ran the council in coalition with assorted others. In 2004 Plaid Cymru had five councillors, the group led by Darren Price, but refused to join the coalition, deluding itself it held the balance of power and could therefore dictate things. Which didn’t work out, so towards the end Price was having regular and quite open meetings with David ‘Il Duce‘ Phillips, the Labour leader, and ‘Rocking’ Rene Kinzett, local Tory hetman.

This unholy alliance eventually triumphed and Il Duce was restored to power in 2012, carried aloft by a crowd of thousands marching down the Mumbles Road singing the Red Flag interspersed with throaty renditions of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. (OK, I made that bit up.)

Alas, ‘Rocking’ Rene fell from grace, and his fall was complete when he was caught with child pornography. Il Duce was soon overthrown in a coup and also ended up in court, but for fly-tipping and taking over somebody else’s garage, with the rightful owner describing Phillips as a “nutcase”!

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In the elections of 2008 Plaid Cymru went down to one seat, and since 2012 it has had none. Darren Price crossed over and sold his soul to Beelzebub. (Trans: is a councillor in Carmarthenshire serving His Omnipotence Mark James.) Today Plaid Cymru barely exists in Swansea. Some ‘Party of Wales’, eh?

That said, not all the wounds were self-inflicted, and not when it comes to the state of the city centre. For long before the rise of internet shopping started doing its damage Swansea’s city centre was being undermined by out-of-town shopping, though as I say, this time the council was not entirely to blame.

Certainly not when it came to the Swansea Enterprise Park on the east side of the River Tawe, overlooked by Bonymaen and Llansamlet, the first and largest Enterprise Zone (as it originally was) in the UK, covering some 735 acres. Planned for light manufacturing and warehousing retailing was given the green light by Nicholas Edwards, Secretary of State for Wales under Margaret Thatcher until 1987.

Major stores and other retail outlets locating to the Enterprise Park certainly hurt the city centre, but then, Edwards couldn’t be bothered with that, because he had bigger fish to fry. For Nicholas Edwards was a man with big plans for Cardiff through the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, set up by him to pump public money into land owned by Associated British Ports, of which he just happened to be the leading director.

This, perhaps the biggest single rip-off of public funding in Welsh history, is detailed in Corruption Bay, a document I compiled almost 20 years ago, but the facts, and the interpretations, still hold up.

DEVOLUTION – SHAFTED AGAIN!

Corruption Bay also explains why our Notional Assembly came to be located in Cardiff Bay – for the benefit of Associated British Ports, and as a ‘consolation prize’ for the opera house was that was never built. For among the countless ‘hats’ worn by Nick Edwards were director of the Welsh National Opera and chairman of the Cardiff Bay Opera Trust.

Even though Cardiff Bay eventually won the Assembly Swansea Guildhall was the only site that met the criteria on value for money and availability set out by Secretary of State Ron Davies in the search for a home for the new institution after negotiations over Cardiff City Hall – the assumed location for the Assembly – collapsed. But once again, Swansea was done down by certain influencers in Cardiff. (Explained in Corruption Bay.)

This competition ‘won’ by Swansea seems to have been written out of recent Welsh history; but then, as Churchill said, history is written by the victors, and what passes for the ‘Welsh media’ is the voice of Cardiff. (Fortunately, the subterranean and bomb-proof Jo’tN archives contain a library of newspaper articles from the period.)

After the ‘competition’ was launched, and as the terrifying prospect of the Assembly being housed in Swansea sunk in, the Western Mail and the rest of the ‘Welsh media’ went into hyper-drive, even accusing politicians and civil servants of leaning on Ron Davies to favour Swansea, as this ludicrous article from 3 March 1998 spells out.

click to enlarge

Yes, Rachel Lomax, then top civil servant at the Welsh Office, had been born in Swansea; and yes, there was something odd and unconvincing about her spat with council leader Russell Goodway over leasing Cardiff City Hall; but there was never any danger of the Assembly not being in Cardiff, but it was going to the Bay, for the benefit of Nick Edwards and his mates in Associated British Ports.

Which meant that the real beneficiaries of a National Assembly for Wales were a bunch of Tories who had always opposed devolution. They laughed all the way to their banks. (Which were probably offshore.)

And poor old Swansea got shafted, yet again.

NOTHING CHANGES

In recent years Swansea has received further blows in the form of rail electrification ending at Cardiff thanks to Chris Grayling, the man who never gets anything wrong; and the plug being pulled on the tidal lagoon.

How energetically Swansea’s case was argued by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ is anyone’s guess. If I had to put money on it, I’d say the response was, ‘OK, fair enough, we’ll pass the message on’.

Even after the disappointment of electrification and the tidal lagoon there were still bright spots in the gloom. Among them, the growing reputation of Swansea University, and its increasingly lucrative spin-offs.

Since 1998, when the Times and Sunday Times started publishing their ‘Good University Guide’, Cardiff University had been top in Wales, but by 2016 things were changing in favour of Swansea University. A change confirmed in the 2019 Guide. (Though for some reason WalesOnline thinks the change happened in 2019!)

But lo! out of a clear blue sky, and just before Christmas, came the bombshell that senior figures at Swansea University had been suspended. Apparently this was connected with the University’s links to the Wellness Village in Llanelli, pet project of His Omnipotence Mark James.

Llanelli’s planned Wellness Village, click to enlarge

Now I won’t deny that the Wellness Village project may be the ultimate vanity project; and maybe the University’s involvement should have appeared more institutional than personal; but at the same time, I can imagine certain interests in Cardiff jumping at the opportunity to take Swansea University down a peg or two. And the ‘Welsh Government’ was only too happy to assist.

Vice-Chancellor Richard Davies has been replaced by Paul Boyle, an uninspiring Englishman who is “looking forward to being back by the sea!” – is he going paddling? No doubt Boyle is under instructions to rein in Swansea’s ambition and not get ideas above his University’s ordained station (below Cardiff in any rankings that matter).

UPDATE 13.03.2019: Just one day after I published this post the Western Mail, which used to be known as Llais y Sais (voice of the English), and could more correctly be re-named Llais Caerdydd (voice of Cardiff), published another piece it hoped would reflect badly on Swansea University. The unmistakeable message in the unattributed article is that these donations are ‘irregular’, perhaps dirty money.

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AND THEN THERE’S THE WELSH RUGBY UNION

It’s difficult to know where to start with this section, because rarely, even in the history of Wales, have so many been pissed off by so few. The few in question belong to the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and something called the Professional Rugby Board. Few would have heard of the PRB until last week.

For it was last week we heard that the WRU intended forcing through a merger of the Ospreys (the West Glamorgan region) and the Scarlets, the Llanelli super club. Not only that, but we also learnt that the WRU had previously tried to force through a ‘merger’ of the Ospreys with Cardiff Blues, another club that rejected regional rugby back in 2003.

No matter on which level we consider this, or from which angle we approach it, these proposed ‘mergers’ are insane. The Ospreys are Wales’s most successful rugby outfit yet the WRU wants to do away with them.

And then, how drunk do you have to be to think that Swansea rugby fans, having seen their team killed off, would travel the 40-odd miles to support Cardiff?

And when it comes to the takeover by Llanelli Scarlets, the WRU’s argument is that the Ospreys are broke while the Scarlets are in rude financial health. Llanelli Scarlets were for a long time kept afloat by the WRU, then Carmarthenshire County Council – Mark James again – took over the life-support system and poured in millions of pounds of council taxpayers’ money.

People in the world of rugby are laughing openly at the Welsh Rugby Union. Click to enlarge

Not only that, but all manner of imaginative special arrangements were dreamed up by Mark James to keep Llanelli Scarlets, and their white elephant stadium, afloat. Because Parc y Scarlets has never been financially viable. Whereas the Ospreys have no such worries because they share the Liberty Stadium with the Swans.

Mark James retires in June, and when he’s gone those who have cowered in his shadow this many a year may grow cojones and start questioning some of his decisions. Not least why Carmarthenshire County Council has written off millions of pounds owed to the people of Carmarthenshire by Llanelli Scarlets. And why revenue was lost in ‘concessions’ and all manner of questionable arrangements.

But anyone, in the Welsh Rugby Union, or anywhere else, who thinks that Llanelli Scarlets is a financial success story must be relying on the kind of accountants who appear on this blog . . . and often appear before a judge and jury.

Looking east, the WRU owns Newport Dragons, the least successful of our four ‘regions’. Newport is the same distance from Cardiff as Llanelli is from Swansea, so why not merge Cardiff and Newport into a South East region, and have them play at a new stadium to be built in Pontypridd or Pontypool? For neither Cardiff nor Newport has made any serious attempt to engage with their Valleys’ hinterlands. Making a mockery of ‘regional rugby’.

Another aspect is that these absurd mergers were proposed because the WRU wants a new region in the north. Back in 2003, when regional rugby was being discussed, David Moffett, then group CEO of the Welsh Rugby Union, proposed four regions: North, West (Llanelli, Swansea, Neath and others playing in Swansea), South (Cardiff, Pontypridd, Bridgend and the Central Valleys), and East (Gwent).

click to enlarge

Llanelli, Cardiff and Newport refused to become regions but called themselves regions anyway, and the WRU caved in. Swansea and Neath merged to form the Ospreys, a genuine region, and they are now being rewarded with oblivion.

Whatever the WRU’s grand plan may have been – and I’m being generous in assuming there is, or was, a coherent plan – viewed from Swansea this looks like just another Cardiff-based organisation doing Swansea down.

And if the WRU has its way and destroys the Ospreys then a new rugby entity will almost certainly emerge in Swansea and may have no alternative but to affiliate to the English Rugby Football Union. Is that really what those clowns in the WRU and the PRB want?

MAKING SENSE OF IT

Sticking with the Welsh Rugby Union for a minute, nothing surprises me when it comes to that BritNat-Masonic outfit, forever fawning over English royals, with its ludicrous feathers badge. Other countries have emblems representing the country and its people, Wales has one representing an individual claiming to be ‘Prince of Wales’ who has as much claim to the title as my cat.

Looking back to 1955 and the announcement that Cardiff was the official capital of Wales, maybe the rot set in for Swansea then, for it was obvious that, being more convenient for England, all manner of agencies would base themselves in Cardiff. Since then it’s been a drip-drip effect.

Devolution should have ‘evened things out’, but instead it’s made them worse, and not just for Swansea but for every part of Wales other than Cardiff. It used to be said – I heard it back in the 1970s – that devolution would simply give us ‘Glamorgan County Council on stilts’. Devolution has actually given us Cardiff City Council on steroids.

The reason devolution has failed ninety per cent of Wales economically is that concentrating everything in Cardiff has made it easier for bodies concerned only with Cardiff to influence decisions for Wales. For example, I guarantee that the denizens of the Cardiff and County Club have more influence on the economic life of Swansea than Swansea council and all the politicians the Swansea region sends to Cardiff Bay and Westminster combined. And that influence is malign.

And Swansea has no independent voice to speak up for her. The Evening Post, once Wales’s biggest selling daily ‘paper (it may still be), is now printed in England and censored in Cardiff, and losing readers fast; partly because it refuses to criticise the Labour Party, whether in County Hall or Cardiff Bay.

And all the while, thanks to this combination of Labour ineptitude, the lack of an effective media, and Cardiff pushing to become a major provincial city on a par with Bristol or Leeds, Swansea and the rest of the country must pay the price.

Poor old Swansea!

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 15.03.2019: From today’s Western Mail. BBC Radio Wales is dropping Mal Pope of Swansea from its schedules and it looks as if it’s also closing the historic Alexandra Road studios from where Dylan Thomas broadcast.

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Social cleansing in the Wild West Show

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

This week’s offering keeps to the bits and pieces format that’s popular in certain quarters; but there is a thread in that all the items below show Wales being taken advantage of in one form or another.

Worse, there are some trying to present our passivity and gullibility as virtues, cos we are ‘carin’, innit.

THE WILD WEST SHOW

I remember Paul Flynn, long-serving Labour MP for Newport West who died last month, use the term ‘Wild West Show’ to describe the planning system – or lack thereof – in Ceredigion back in the 1980s and 1990s. Those halcyon days when the council was run by Dai Lloyd Evans and his fraternity of landowner-farmers sitting as ‘Independents’.

No ordinary men these, but seers, with powers that allowed them to predict which land might in future be built upon and therefore increase in value. And so certain were they of their powers that some would buy worthless land that – hey presto! – became valuable through being favoured in local development plans and by other means.

Dai Lloyd Evans himself increased his already considerable wealth by buying a couple of fields outside of his native Tregaron that – as the visions had foretold – became earmarked for ‘development’. The populace marvelled at his prescience.

Those were indeed wondrous times. And the splurge of housebuilding, the detached four-bedroom houses, were defended by Dai and his gang with, ‘Our youngsters must have somewhere to live’.

If you want to know why the Welsh language has retreated so rapidly in Ceredigion then look no further than Dai Lloyd Evans and his gang encouraging the building of thousands of big houses . . . for local youngsters.

All the while Plaid Cymru stood by twiddling its thumbs. Or else, like Cynog Dafis, tried to put a positive gloss on the invasion by snuggling up to the Green element and pretending these colonialist enviro-shysters would be an asset to Wales.

The Wild West show is no longer confined to Ceredigion. It’s playing all over Wales (though Welsh involvement is now minimal). There’s a simple reason for this – it’s because in Wales you can get away with just about anything.

That’s why Wales attracts the leeches of the third sector bleeding the public purse to tackle issues that will never really be tackled because to do so would cut off the leeches’ blood supply.

It also explains why we get all manner of shysters and crooks coming to Wales – because they know they can tap into public funding and get planning permission and other support for just about any ludicrous ‘scheme’.

And even when people get caught out, nothing is done. Auditors, ombudsmen, politicians, media, police, just look the other way, and the Wild West Show rolls on.

CAMP VALOUR

The fun and games – and the lies – continue down in Milford Haven with Camp Valour’s plans for Fort Hubberston.

For those wondering what I’m talking about, let me explain that a bunch of chancers formed a company called Camp Valour CIC and came up with a scheme for a ‘veteran transition centre’ for 250 military veterans at Fort Hubberston, a 19th century fortification on Milford Haven Waterway.

If you want to catch up with the details, then read this post (scroll down to part 3) and this post (ditto). So what’s new?

As I mentioned in an update to my previous post, I had a silly e-mail, purporting to be from a solicitor, demanding that I take down everything I’d written about the gang. It was badly written, came from a Yahoo address, had no company logo or anything else to suggest it was authentic, but whoever wrote it thought they were being clever by using the name of a real solicitor! (That is a special kind of stupid.)

So I got in touch with the genuine solicitor, forwarded the e-mail I’d received, and she’s now following it up.

Most other developments are covered in the report below from last Friday’s Pembrokeshire Herald.

click to enlarge

Though there has been one other development. Last Thursday I received a notification from Companies House that on February 15th – just two days after my first posting on the subject – ‘Major’ Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen resigned as director of Camp Valour CIC.

Which means that Camp Valour is now drifting, rudderless, without a single officer aboard. And for a company to have no officers might invalidate its registration with Companies House. I have reported this state of rudderlessness to Companies House.

This resignation is very strange, or very revealing. His defenders insist that Major Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen is genuine and has not changed his name from Sean Keven Patrick Pullen. (They’re twins!) Also, that he really is a military veteran. Yet at the first sign of hostilities he legs it!

I can also report that the Walter Mitty and Bloaters Hunters Club is looking into Pullen’s history. This group exposes con men pretending to have served in the military. It seems the practice is more widespread than you might think, and the fantasists invariably claim to have served in elite units, rarely the Pay Corps or the Engineers.

The other thing worth mentioning is something that’s been nagging me for a few days now, probably because I don’t know how to interpret it. Let me explain.

The phoney solicitor’s letter arrived at 06:09 last Monday. Given that it was quite a long message (443 words) it suggests that whoever wrote it had risen early, or perhaps been up all night. But before that, at 02:22, I received another e-mail, this one telling me that a message had been sent to my Facebook page. But by the time I got up the FB message was gone, presumably the sender had deleted it.

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Did I get messages from two different people that night, or did one person begin with a Facebook message and go for broke with a phoney solicitor’s letter? Though another possibility would be that someone got access to another person’s Facebook account.

Even more perplexing is the case of the disappeared photograph. In this sequence of photographs from the Remembrance Day parade in Liverpool in 2016 there was a photo of a lad, “ . . . wearing his Dad’s medals and Parachute Regiment Beret”. There was a suspicion that the boy was Pullen/Faversham-Pullen’s son. Someone else who saw it – a former Para – claimed that the medals couldn’t be genuine for operational reasons.

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The picture of that boy has been removed some time in the past few days.

Finally, I cannot understand why the Port of Milford Haven is still taking these people seriously. In fact, I cannot understand why the Port of Milford Haven ever took these buggers seriously.

It would suffer no reputational harm if the Port of Milford Haven was to make a clear public announcement stating it will have no further dealings of any kind with Field Admiral Mitty-Pullen and his cohorts.

UPDATE 23:08: Below you’ll see a slightly redacted Facebook exchange that took place today between Pullen and a genuine ex-Para who knows him. The more I read it the more I realise that you cannot believe a word Pullen says. He even contradicts himself when, in column 2, he says that Camp Valour is finished but then, in column 7, he says he’s pulled out but others are carrying on! Which is it?

There’s an old saying that liars need good memories, and Pullen’s got a terrible memory.

click to enlarge

UPDATE 05.03.2019: I have received a reply from Companies House to my query about the status of Camp Valour CIC, seeing as it no longer has a director. (Click to enlarge.)

HIDDEN COSTS OF BEING ‘CARING’

Someone on Swansea Bay who knows of such things tells of growing concern at the number of individuals being dealt with that clearly have no connections with the area.

One recent case my source became aware of is that of a vulnerable woman from Birmingham now living in Neath . . . when she’s not in the custody suite at Swansea Central police station . . . or getting treatment in hospital . . . or being ferried around by police car or ambulance.

And yet those running the property where this woman lives would argue that she costs us nothing because ‘Birmingham’ pays for her accommodation; which is no doubt true, but ‘Birmingham’ doesn’t pay for police time, or the amount this woman and so many others cost the ambulance service and the Welsh NHS.

In the previous post I looked at the case of staff at a care home in Cwm-twrch Isaf being told not to speak Welsh because the residents were not familiar with the language, proving that the residents aren’t local. So where are they from and why are they in Cwm-twrch Isaf? And why aren’t our politicians and media asking these questions?

Other reports tell me that many of the desperate cases who’ve been housed in Neath and spend their days on the streets are not from the area, and didn’t move to the area of their own volition. So what’s going on?

Another worrying story was brought to my attention last week of someone sent to prison for brandishing a large knife in a Haverfordwest pub. The report tells us this person – who had previously been imprisoned in Scotland – had recently moved to the area. But who moved him? Is anyone asking this question?

Also last week, in the north, a convicted sexual pervert was sent down again, with no one asking how he found his way to the Dolgellau area.

There’s no question that Wales is being taken advantage of by English local authorities, third sector outfits, probation companies, misguided do-gooders, housing associations and other bodies, with this encouraged, and then capitalised on, by the Labour Party.

The Labour Party wants to keep Wales poor so that it can blame ‘London’/the Tories and keep us voting Labour. Which means that Wales will remain poor for as long as we keep voting Labour.

This social cleansing has similarities with the dispersal of refugees, an issue reported on recently by Newsnight, which found that the poorer areas of central and northern England see many more refugees under the UK’s dispersal policy than wealthier parts of southern England with higher property values.

While there are similarities Wales has a much larger, overall social burden, and it’s spread more widely, because in addition to social cleansing and refugees the well-heeled from Surbiton and Solihull do not retire to Stoke or Scunthorpe, nor do they buy holiday homes in such places.

Being taken advantage of is bad enough, but we have celebs defending this colonialist exploitation by encouraging us to engage in an orgy of self-congratulation for being so ‘caring’.

When you start congratulating yourself for being a mug then you’re in real trouble . . . and others will continue to take advantage of you.

REFUSED PLANNING PERMISSION? CHANGE YOUR NAME AND USE A HOUSING ASSOCIATION AS A STALKING HORSE

On the outskirts of Swansea, tucked behind Morriston Hospital, lies the hamlet of Pant-lasau, consisting of around twenty homes. Although in many ways it’s a secluded spot it is of course next to one of Wales’s busiest hospitals and very close to the M4.

So it was no surprise when, in 2015, Edenstone Homes Limited, a company with a Gwent address, applied to build 13 new houses in Pant-lasau. These were substantial properties of types known as ‘Farnham’, ‘Bamford’, ‘Ingleton’ and ‘Ashcombe’, names that gel seamlessly with Pant-lasau, Cwmrhydyceirw, Llangyfelach and Mynydd Gelliwastad.

The application – 2015/1581 – was refused by Swansea city council and the refusal was upheld in April 2016 by Clive Nield of the Planning Inspectorate. Read the decision here.

On November 27th last year another planning application was received for the same parcel of land from Coastal Housing Group, one of the major housing associations in the area. This time for 20 ‘affordable homes’.

So why am I boring you by writing about a small housing association development on the outskirts of Swansea?

Because, good people, Coastal Housing has a ‘partner’ in this project, a fact made clear with this report produced in September 2018. While Swansea council’s website insists that it’s Coastal Housing acting alone.

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So why the reticence to acknowledge the involvement of ‘Ashgrove Partnerships’? Come to that, who are Ashgrove Partnerships? All will be explained in a minute.

At the time of writing this, the Ashgrove website was still under construction, so the obvious conclusion to draw is that it’s a new company. But is it? For if we look to the bottom of the screen capture below we read, ‘Part of the Edenstone Group’, and it was Edenstone Homes that made the original planning application back in 2015.

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The truth is, as Companies House tells us, that Edenstone Partnership Homes Limited changed its name to Ashgrove Partnership Homes Ltd in January this year. (In fact, this company has had six different names since it was Incorporated in February 2004.)

The directors are Stuart James Rodden, Mark Julian Hugo Holden, Jeffrey Stanley Taylor and Martin Jeffrey Taylor. The Taylors are probably father and son with the father, Jeffrey Stanley, involved in what appear to be all of the Edenstone companies and the son branching out beyond Edenstone.

Quite obviously, Edenstone has come back to Pant-lasau for a second attempt using Coastal Housing as a proxy. With the January name change to Ashgrove an attempt to disguise its true identity.

Let Uncle Jac explain what’s going to happen at Pant-lasau.

Planning permission will be given to Coastal Housing for 20 fairly modest properties. Everything will then pass to Edenstone/Ashgrove and changes will be requested to the planning approval. There may be a number of such requests granted to the point where what is finally built is radically different to what originally received planning permission. (As we recently saw at Plas Pistyll in Wilmslow-sur-Mer.)

What’s being done at Pant-lasau is deceitful and Coastal Housing is a willing participant in this deception. But who else is involved? For example, is Swansea council aware that Coastal Housing is fronting for a private developer?

Is the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ aware of this deceit? Or is Pant-lasau an example of the kind of ‘partnerships’ I hear housing associations are being encouraged to enter into?

Sifting through the documents available I was unable to find a title number or any ownership details for the land in question. The only option was a post code search on the Land Registry website. And it worked.

The documents tell us that the owners are David Michael Vernon Thomas and Susan Daphne Thomas of Deepholm Farmhouse, Rockfield, Monmouth. But we also read . . .

“(08.02.2013) RESTRICTION: Until 24 February 2024 no disposition of the part of the registered estate shown edged red on Part 1 of the title plan (other than a charge) by the proprietor of the registered estate, or by the proprietor of any registered charge, not being a charge registered before the entry of this restriction is to be registered without a certificate signed by Edenstone Homes (Western) Limited (Co. Regn. No. 7110699) of Priory House, Priory Street, Usk NP15 1QN”.

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The Company mentioned in the Restriction above, Edenstone Homes (Western) Limited, is a shell company with Rodden and the Taylors as directors. All three give their address as First Floor, Building 102, Wales 1 Business Park, Newport Road, Magor, Caldicot, Wales, NP26 3DG. This address is home to a number of Rodden-Holden-Taylor companies.

The building itself is an ugly, new structure and obviously part of Alun Cairns’ Severnside nightmare.

So even though Edenstone/Ashgrove doesn’t own the land at Pant-lasau it obviously has some arrangement with the owners until 2024. Which again raises the question – why does this project need the involvement of Coastal Housing?

The answer, as I’ve explained, is to get planning permission. So I hope that when Swansea’s planning committee discusses this application on Tuesday the 5th it will reject what is an obvious attempt to get planning permission by deception.

And while they’re at it, Swansea’s planning committee might ask for an explanation from Coastal Housing for its involvement in this squalid ploy.

Or is this the shape of things to come?

P.S. I should add that Swansea’s planners seem to be complicit in this deception because even though the site is unsuitable for social housing the planners say it’s fine.

To begin with, there’s nothing in the way of public transport other than the bus service from Morriston hospital that runs down to Singleton hospital. Swansea’s planners say this constitutes good public transport.

On the issue of local facilities, shops and the like, the planners argue that the outlets in Morriston hospital – Subway, Costa and W H Smith – tick this box.

UPDATE 05.03.2019: To the surprise of absolutely no one Swansea council’s planning committee voted to approve this planning application. The vote was seven (all Labour) in favour, three (non-Labour) against.

DUMPING OF THE NUCLEAR VARIETY

You may be aware that the UK government is looking for suitable locations to dump nuclear waste. It seems the only areas being considered are in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Who’d have guessed!

In an attempt to be seen consulting the public the UK Government, through its agency Radioactive Waste Management, organised two public meeting in Wales, one in Swansea and one in Llandudno. Chosen for the obvious reason that each is central to its region and easy to reach by road and rail.

Well now we learn that the Swansea meeting is cancelled, and will be replaced by an online consultation. At the time of writing the Llandudno meeting is still going ahead on 14 March.

Picture by János Korom (CC BY-SA 2.0) click to enlarge

The self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has volunteered Wales for nuclear dumping, which if nothing else is consistent, seeing as it welcomed the dumping of ‘nuclear mud’ off Cardiff last year. For the Labour Party in Wales will do whatever its London masters – in either of the major parties – tell it to do.

Plaid Cymru seems to be ambivalent. It was reluctant to oppose the Cardiff dumping because of the involvement of suspended AM and enfant terrible Neil McEvoy, and Plaid will dither on underground dumping because the party always shows two faces to nuclear energy.

The Swansea meeting may have been called off due to the hostile reaction locally, from such as Tory Suzy Davies the local regional AM and Lib Dem councillor and former AM Peter Black. The local bruvvers have also mumbled a bit but they’ll fall into line when their bosses in Cardiff and London crack the whip.

Whether it’s paedophiles, drug addicts, wrinklies, wind turbines, problem families, white flight, nuclear waste, Wales is where England looks to do its dumping.

There’s only one way to escape this abusive relationship, and that’s independence. There is only one political party promising independence and that’s Ein Gwlad.

♦ end ♦

 

Pot Pourri 25.02.2019

Another bumper issue, another mixed bag for you to enjoy; bits and pieces from hither and yon, Ynys Môn to New Zealand, and both sides of the Tawe. You can either take them one at a time or you can gorge yourself.

Go on! you know you want to.

SWANSEA, MY SWANSEA!

An old mate back in the city of my dreams, who served for decades as a councillor, once told me a curious tale about Labour councillors having to give up 10% of their allowance (i.e. salary) to the party every month – or else the heavies would be sent round.

He himself learnt this from someone who had broken free from the Labour Party and gone straight.

I’m told this system of ‘dues’ may have been introduced in Swansea a while back, when the boss was that man of destiny, he who enthralled the crowds from the Guildhall balcony – David ‘Il Duce’ Phillips, who I’m sure you’ll all remember.

Now your bog standard Labour councillor in Swansea gets £13,000 a year, but capos and under-bosses get a lot more, while the capo di tutti capi, currently Rob Stewart, is on £53,000.

Then the allowances increase for sitting on various committees, plus there’s travelling allowance, phone bills are paid, etc., etc. The point is that the Labour Party gets a lot of money every year from its own councillors. In Swansea the figure is well over £70,000.

Eventually my mate, Ioan Richard, got in touch with the Wales Audit Office to enquire about this curious method of extortion voluntary donations. The response he received last week said:

“Further to your email of 14 December 2018, I have met with officers of the Council to discuss your concern regarding payments made by Swansea Council to the Labour Party on behalf of some local authority members.

 I can confirm that the practice you refer to is a long-standing one. However, Council officers have informed me that having now given due consideration to this matter,  it is their intention to end the practice of making payments to the Labour Party (or any other political party) on behalf of local authority members with effect from April 2019.

 May I take the time to thank you for taking the time to raise your concern with us.”

A few questions come to mind. Three, I suppose.

  1. Why should officials of the council, employed to serve the city of Swansea in a non-political way, be forced to manage these donations, thereby spending council time doing what is obviously of benefit only to the Labour Party?
  2. If this practice is widespread in Wales then the Labour Party could be getting over one million pounds every year from its councillors. So should the Labour Party be siphoning off money for itself from the public purse?
  3. And if Labour councillors can afford to give up 10% of their allowances then why do we pay them so much?

Another idol of the Jack masses – well, perhaps not – is the MP for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris, of whom I have often written. Harris made the news a few years back when she attacked a co-worker in the constituency office of the then MP for Swansea East Siân James.

She made it into the public prints more recently when the ‘I’ll-get-you-you-cow!’ accusation of theft she had laid against her victim fell apart at Newport Crown Court.

Harris may have her own constituency party tied down but in the neighbouring constituency of Swansea West there was a less than comradely motion discussed recently. It came in three parts.

Carolyn Harris MP, centre, courting the Gay lobby in her attempts to counter the accusation of homophobia ahead of the ‘revenge accusation’ trial. Click to enlarge.

The first part noted that the evidence given at the Newport trial raised questions about Harris’s fitness to hold the position of Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour.

The second part urged support for the elected members of Labour’s Welsh Executive Committee (WEC) who have asked what processes were used by the party to address concerns about Harris.

The third part asked the Swansea West Constituency Labour Party (CLP) to refrain from inviting Carolyn Harris to CLP events until the WEC members had satisfactory explanations.

The first two parts were carried. The third removed by amendment.

On we go to Gower, Swansea’s third constituency, wherein dwells Ioan Richard. His local MP is former rugby international Tonia Antoniazzi.

Now Ioan is the kind of bloke who asks awkward questions, and challenges conventional wisdom, a species with which I identify but one far too rare in Wales. Inevitably, he has asked awkward questions of Ms Antoniazzi – who has blocked him and now ignores him entirely.

I know ‘Welsh’ Labour is very tribal, and sensitive to criticism, but someone should tell Antoniazzi that she represents not just those giving her a clear run to the line but also those wanting to tackle her.

WELSH NOT 2019

A story that recently made the news was of care home staff in Ystradgynlais being told by their employer not to speak Welsh among themselves. That’s because their employer thought ‘it was “unacceptable” for clients to overhear staff speaking in a language they do not understand’.

Now this is Ystradgynlais, or more specifically, Cwm-twrch Isaf, at the top of the Swansea Valley, where almost everyone other than recent arrivals to the area speaks or understands Welsh. So if the residents at the Isfryn care home, owned by the Accomplish Group of Birmingham (formerly Tracs Ltd), are unfamiliar with the Welsh language then they’re obviously not from the area, so where are they from?

reproduced courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

Once my interest was aroused my first stop was the Land Registry website to find out who owns the property. Since December 2018 Isfryn has been owned by Link Corporate Trustees (UK) Ltd. This company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Link Administration Holdings Ltd, of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

There seems to be no leasehold arrangement registered with the Land Registry so I can only assume that Accomplish rents Isfryn from Link Administration Holdings or else manages Isfryn for the Australian company. (If anyone out there is aware of the exact relationship, please get in touch.)

You’ll have noticed that on the title document the property is known as Glynderwen, but I suppose the name changed to Isfryn because there’s another Glynderwen down the valley in Clydach. This would have posed no problem in days gone by, but the Clydach Glynderwen is also a ‘home’ of some kind run by Aston Care Ltd of Reading.

As I said in a recent post: “In our rural areas, and increasingly in our post-industrial areas, (our) poverty is made worse year on year by England shipping in its problem cases via a host of organisations you’ve never heard of.”

To facilitate this social cleansing substantial properties can be snapped up in the Swansea Valley for a third of what they’d cost in the Thames Valley. Properties ideal for small care homes.

Which explains why we have Australian companies, English companies, English care home residents, with Welsh involvement limited to minimum-wage jobs in which staff are banned from speaking Welsh.

And, almost certainly, there’s Welsh public money involved somewhere.

This is how a collaborationist form of socialism manages a colony. It can delude itself that by facilitating such a situation it is both ‘caring’ and creating jobs. This mindset is not limited to the Labour Party.

I wish to God we had politicians asking the right questions about places like Isfryn. Questions such as . . .

  • Where are the residents from?
  • Who’s paying for their care?
  • If they’re from outside of Wales (and being unfamiliar with the Welsh language suggests they are) then is their home local authority making a contribution to the Welsh NHS?
  • Why are we allowing or encouraging such places to be set up in Wales?
  • In 2019 who the fuck has the right to tell Welsh people they mustn’t speak Welsh?

CAMP VALOUR CIC

This is an update to my piece ‘And finally, who am I?’ in Crooks to the left of me, shysters to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle of Wales . . . (just scroll down).

In a nutshell, a company called Camp Valour CIC says it wants to take over 19th century Fort Hubberston in Milford Haven and use it as a rehabilitation centre for ex-service personnel.

The problem is that Camp Valour has been making ludicrous claims and telling outright lies. Many of these lies concern Major Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen, who I – in my ignorance – had assumed was Sean Keven Patrick Pullen, director of failed company Baron Security (UK) Ltd, based in the same building at Hawarden airport as Camp Valour, but no – they’re twins!

That they’re never seen in the same room together is due to the fact that Keven drifted off to Gibraltar at the same time as Lucian appeared on the scene. But it had nothing – absolutely nothing! – to do with Keven deciding to call himself Fabian.

Or at least, that’s the story according to Camp Valour’s Chief Operations Officer, Nicola – ‘Don’t tell him, Pike!’ – Wilcox.

The Major’s military credentials were also called into question, but Nicola explained that his army record couldn’t be checked because he had served under his mother’s name. (Which would have made him the only Cynthia in the Parachute Regiment!) But is that legal? We’re dealing with the British army not the French Foreign Legion.

But now, the major, a hardened 25-year veteran, who (we were told) saw many conflicts, has taken offence at a few reasonable questions and gone into hiding, to be replaced by someone as yet unnamed. Perhaps it’ll be Sebastian, the third of the Pullen triplets, just returned from Syria where he led an all-female unit of Kurdish fighters against ISIS.

The unit led by Sebastian, the third of the Pullen triplets. He’s in the background, in the white pick-up truck. Click to enlarge.

As a spokesperson Nicola does a wonderful job, making everything so clear. For after Ms Wilcox’ ‘clarification’ I am more convinced than ever that we are dealing with shameless shysters of the Walter Mitty variety.

Oh, yes, and I can look forward to another solicitor’s letter to add to my collection . . . if we are to believe Nicola Wilcox. Would you?

As might be expected, the Camp Valour gang has attracted considerable attention in Pembrokeshire. This is what the Western Telegraph had to say (with some interesting comments). While below you can read the report from the Pembrokeshire Herald.

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Pembrokeshire councillor Mike Stoddart was also on good form on his ‘Old Grumpy’ blog.

Pullen’s close associate, both in the Liverpool branch of the Royal British Legion and the D-Day Revisited Society (Charity number 1129753), is Jonathan Phipps. I’m still trying to figure out his role in this fantasy, but in the meantime here’s a link to a remarkable letter signed by ‘Faversham-Pullen’ and presented by Phipps to a young boy battling serious illness.

Someone who knows of such things has told me that the SAS is always referred to as ‘The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment’, and presenting an SAS beret to someone who hadn’t earned it is never done.

Something that obviously puzzled me was the name change to Faversham-Pullen. A common reason is marriage, so had he married a Miss Faversham? I could find no evidence for that, so why Faversham?

Something I turned up made me pause, and wonder if it offers a clue. Read it for yourself. Chronologically, the fit is perfect, but I’m not sure what to make of it.

Naturally I checked with various bodies to see if the gang had secured any moolah.

The county council only became aware of the project from a media report! Though it did receive a copy of the business plan – from Milford Haven town council. This plan mentioned Armed Forces Community Covenant funding; on reading this, Dan Shaw, the council’s Liaison Officer for the Armed Forces, contacted Nicola Wilcox, only to be told that this was a ‘mistake’ and that this funding was not being applied for.

Just another lie that was put in the business plan to impress people, and withdrawn when queried. I cannot see the ‘Major’ and his gang applying for such funding because too many awkward questions would be asked.

I have submitted an FoI to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ and await a reply.

Fort Hubberston is owned by the Port of Milford Haven, so I also wrote to that body. In response I was sent a brief statement issued on February 20th by Claire Stowell, Director of Property, which read: “The Port of Milford Haven has a short term agreement with Camp Valour which allows them to develop full proposals for Hubberston Fort. We will review those arrangements with Camp Valour in due course.”

I have to confess that I cannot get out of my head a suspicion that the copyright for the Fort Hubberston plan may not belong entirely to Phipps and Pullen. For I note some interesting characters among the senior management at PMH, with backgrounds in business and property development.

If I’m right, then this might explain the confusing entry on the Companies House website, where Camp Valour’s ‘nature of business’ reads, “Recreational vehicle parks, trailer parks and camping grounds”.

Somebody may have slipped up and told the truth, for once.

STOP PRESS! A ‘solicitor’s letter’ arrived just before I put out this post. It was signed ‘Alex McCready’, and there is indeed a lawyer of that name, but I’m not convinced she sent this.

To begin with, it came as a personal e-mail, not an e-mail with an attached letter. There was no company logo or contact details and it came from a Yahoo address! There were spelling mistakes and incorrect use or absence of the possessive apostrophe. Finally, I know from experience how solicitors write letters of this kind.

I shall of course be bringing this desperate attempt to silence me to the attention of the real Alex McCready.

UPDATE 10:35: I have now spoken with Alex McCready and confirmed that she did not send the e-mail. At her request the content of the e-mail is no longer available, Ms McCready will be making her own enquiries into what I interpret to be an assault on her reputation.

EMRYS IS ON HIS WAY!

I was in Carmarthen not so long ago to meet a fascinating guy from Swansea (but, then, aren’t all Jacks fascinating?). We talked of this and that, that and this, and he told me of a Welsh exile in New Zealand who had created Emrys the dragon, who will soon be on his way to Wales.

I have paraphrased the information I’ve subsequently been sent.

‘Artist Julia O’Sullivan is from Caehopkin in the Swansea Valley but has lived in Te Aroha, New Zealand for 12 years. 

Emrys was inspired by the Huw Edwards’ BBC series, ‘The Story of Wales’. Emrys honours many Welsh people and includes 960 hand-beaten and enamelled copper scales. Some 750 of them etched with the names of Welsh celebrities.

Emrys is made of metals significant in Welsh history, stands on a Welsh slate base in the shape of Wales, with the legs representing pit-head winding gear. Emrys also contains 29 oil paintings, each telling a story – among them the Rebecca Riots, Aberfan, the Mabinogion, Hywel Dda and Owain Glyndŵr.

Emrys is 2.8m high by 3m wide, weighs 200kg and took 22 months to complete.

A special container has been being built and transportation home has now been arranged. Emrys will depart with a youth choir singing the traditional Maori farewell ‘Po Atarau’. A grand welcome awaits both Emrys and Julia on their arrival in Swansea.’

Is he not handsome? Click to enlarge

Emrys will be en route to Swansea in just over a week, and when he arrives he will take up the offer of temporary accommodation at the university. (Let’s hope he doesn’t get involved with the Wellness Village or he’ll be helping Plod with their enquiries and then it’ll be the next boat back.)

Emrys is seeking a permanent home in Wales, so we’re open to suggestions. No post cards this time, let’s have comments to the blog or responses on social media.

MORE LABOUR-STYLE ‘DEMOCRACY’

As you probably know, Plaid Cymru beat Labour to win the Ely by-election in Cardiff last Thursday. But because Neil McEvoy was highly influential in the campaign the militant feminist and niche politics elements in the party have had trouble bringing themselves to congratulate new councillor Andrea Gibson.

The best that could be extracted from an eco-friendly, gender-fluid Plaid spokesperson wearing a T-shirt reading ‘Save Socialist Venezuela From Capitalist Foreign Aid’ was, ‘Ely! Ely! Isn’t that in Cambridgeshire?’ When it was pointed out that there was a Cardiff neighbourhood of the same name, the spokesperson admitted ‘We really aren’t interested in such places’.

Further west there was better news for Labour in an election that got less publicity than the Ely contest. This was the by-election in the Mynyddygarreg ward of Cydweli town council. Though I did mention Labour candidate Beryl Williams in a recent post.

And Beryl won, but what was so curious and disturbing about the result was that of the 330 votes ‘cast’ 220 were postal or proxy votes. Beryl got 191 votes to her Independent rival’s 139 and the great majority of her votes were proxy and postal votes.

For I’m told that Beryl, following her defeat in a by-election last year, was well prepared this time, and stalked the ward armed with sheaves of postal vote registration forms, which of course she is perfectly entitled to fill in for elderly and other voters to sign.

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And let’s not forget those – and to quote from Beryl’s own election material – who are helping turn Cydweli into “an autism and dementia friendly town”. Achieved by the third sector importing people with autism, dementia and other conditions who are then accommodated by housing associations.

So Beryl was elected thanks to Labour’s control of the third sector and care homes and the kind of extra burden being laid on Wales that we saw at Isfryn in Cwm-twrch Isaf.

I do hope that ‘Welsh’ Labour hasn’t adopted the old Ulster Unionist tactic of personation that exhorted supporters to ‘Vote early, vote often!’ Or perhaps in this case, ‘Don’t bother voting – I’ll do it for you!’

ANGLESEY HOMES LTD

Someone sent me a link to another story about someone trying to create Wilmslow-sur-Mer with yet more holiday homes, this time on Ynys Môn.

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You’ll have read that the company involved is called Anglesey Homes, so I went to the Companies House website to check. First I found an Anglesey Homes Limited which went belly-up in January 2017. But there’s also an Anglesey Homes Ltd, which was Incorporated 16 November 2018.

Someone has been clever and re-used the name. Perfectly legal because the old company was ‘Limited’ and the new one is ‘Ltd’.

Anglesey Homes Ltd has a website that gives information on its projects but nothing about who runs the company, no company number, and not even a postal address. Companies House tells us that Anglesey Homes Ltd is based at Chester Business Park and shares an address with a number of other companies, with the sole director being Emma Elizabeth Scott.

So who is Emma Elizabeth Scott, this major player in the Ynys Môn holiday homes market? She was born in July 1969 and has in the past three years formed a number of companies. Here’s a list I’ve compiled, though it might be incomplete:

At first sight it would appear that we have here a woman in her late forties who suddenly throws herself into a business career with 12 new companies. And she’s the sole director of most of them.

And because they are all so new there’s little or no paperwork to see. This is certainly the case with Anglesey Homes Ltd, the company that claims to be behind the holiday homes at Rhosneigr.

Far more likely is that Emma Elizabeth Scott is fronting for someone. The county council – and indeed anyone else – is therefore entitled to ask Ms Scott who she’s fronting for, and why that person/those persons wish to remain in the shadows.

We are also entitled to ask Ms Scott where the money is coming from.

For as I have made clear on this blog, and explained with examples, a great deal of dirty money from northern England is being ‘washed’ in the property market and the tourism rackets of northern Wales.

I’m not suggesting that Anglesey Homes Ltd is using dirty money, but it’s always nice to be sure.

We’re also entitled to know why Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn laid out the Welcome mat in July 2018 by lending money to Warren Road Rhosneigr Ltd to buy land.

♦ end ♦

 

Wales: nationalism ethnic and civic

INTRODUCTION

I’m suffering from shyster fatigue and so I need a break. Which explains this post, something of a departure from my recent offerings.

Though it’s a topic I’ve meant to tackle for a while, but kept putting off as information about the plague of crooks and shysters preying on Wales kept coming in. But now, I feel the time has come to set out my stall in that global flea market of political theorising.

Where to start? Well, I suppose a good place would be with attempting definitions of the two types of nationalism mentioned in the title. Though I’ve found too many differing definitions to quote them all here, or to even link with them, and it’s quite obvious that all definitions are coloured by the political disposition of the person giving the definition.

So why should I be different?

ETHNIC NATIONALISM

Ethnic nationalism is the belief in a community held together by a shared culture and past (real or imagined). It need not be – as its detractors want us to believe – ‘blood and soil’ nationalism.

It’s fair to say that most nationalisms in the world are ethnic in nature. Though some conflate or link with religion, others with language and all manner of factors. Examples of ethno-nationalism abound, from Finland to the Fertile Crescent, and from Japan to Italy.

For a start, the Finns would not have sought independence from Russia if enough of them had not agreed, ‘We are Finns, not Russians, and the only way to retain our identity in the face of a programme of Russification is to become independent’.

If we look to Ireland we see that the indigenous Irish have always wanted independence from England, while those who have opposed them in the Anglo-Norman period, the Ascendancy era, and today in the north, regard themselves as British, and different, because their ancestors came from Britain.

When the Baltic States went for independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union the Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians were opposed by the ethnic Russians living in those countries because they, quite naturally, wished to remain part of Russia. Just another form of ethnic nationalism.

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Across the Middle East the Kurds, having given up on everybody who ever betrayed them (a long list), are more certain than ever that they must defend themselves, and that the surest guarantee of their future security is an independent Kurdistan.

These – the Finns, the Irish, the Balts (and the Estonians), the Kurds – are the nationalisms with which I identify. National groups that threaten no one but those who would seek to deny them their identity and/or their independence.

This I choose to describe as defensive nationalism.

Of course, when ethnic nationalism is present in larger nations it takes different forms. For if you are convinced that you belong to the herrenvolk, that your ruler is divine and infallible, or that God is an Englishman, then this gives you carte blanche to treat those outside your group with contempt.

This can reasonably be termed aggressive nationalism because it almost always leads to colonialism, and/or war, and oppression underpinned or justified by concepts of superiority and inferiority.

One of the great mysteries of politics is how imperialist powers challenged by defensive nationalism affect to believe that they are confronted by an evil. It’s strange to hear this slander mouthed by practitioners and defenders of aggressive nationalism.

Equally bizarre is hearing the left traduce defensive nationalism with casual use of slurs like ‘racist’ and ‘fascist’. Often done in the hope of silencing, or becoming the sole acceptable voice for, a national movement. As we see today in Wales.

CIVIC NATIONALISM

My understanding is that civic nationalism’s unique selling point is that it’s more ‘inclusive’. Though, personally, I find this questionable, as I shall try to explain.

From my reading and my experience of politics civic nationalism seems to come in two forms. First we have the type promoted in ‘new’ countries, those that have attracted immigrants from a wide variety of backgrounds and origins.

I’m thinking here of the USA, Australia, Brasil and many other states that came into existence following their ‘discovery’ by Europeans in the great age of exploration that followed the Turks taking Constantinople in 1453.

And while we can all be inspired by the US Declaration of Independence the fact remains that these ‘new’ civic societies were built on the dispossession, sometimes enslavement, and often attempted genocide, of indigenous populations.

Throw into the mix the importation of African slaves and civic nationalism begins to look little more than an expedient for blending together immigrants from various backgrounds – as long as they’re white and Christian – into a new kind of ethnicity.

The alternative type of civic nationalism seems to be that practised by established (usually) European states that might previously have been guided – or even been brought into existence – by ethnic nationalism.

The example I shall focus on, a major country famous for its aggressive secularism, is France. Since the abolition of the monarchy and the introduction of the First Republic in 1792 France has been viewed by many as a good example of the state built upon principles of civic nationalism. And yet . . .

Whether as a republic or a monarchy, 19th century France enthusiastically joined the scramble for colonial possessions and was England’s only real rival. While internally, republican values and the promotion of the French language were little more than assaults on minority identities within the state such as Breton, Corsican, Basque, Occitan, Flemish and Alsatian.

More recently, Muslim and other immigrants to France have been condemned for not fully embracing the principles of the Republic – and thereby not ‘integrating’ – due to their religious observances. (A criticism often used to mask other objections.)

In other words, ‘Everyone can be equal, and share in the benefits of the French state, as long as they speak French, abandon all other identities and ostentatious displays of faith and are, preferably, white’. Which is little more than the pursuit of monoculturalism. Almost ethnic nationalism by another name.

While a sense of identity can often lead to the creation of a state, it could be argued that a state can also create a sense of nationhood. For many civic nationalisms create a polity wherein the population is urged to conform to a set of norms which result in a new national identity, a people shaped not by history or by culture but by structures created by man.

I’m sure that at this point many of you reading this will have recalled the failed examples of communist states, built upon ideological foundations, guaranteeing freedoms for all, yet brutally enforcing conformity in attempts to create model citizens. And even though socialism claims to be blind to racial and cultural differences China’s treatment of Uighurs and Tibetans betrays the truth, as did earlier oppression of minorities within the USSR.

Defenders of civic nationalism might argue that in the ideal state built on principles of civic nationalism everyone would be free to follow any religion or no religion, speak any language they choose, and generally do their own thing. Which might sound attractive but would never be tolerated in the real world because it is a recipe for fragmentation and disunity.

My conclusion is that civic nationalism seeks – and will often enforce – conformity more rigorously than a state built upon the foundations of ethnic nationalism if only because the latter has a head-start.

FOCUSING ON WALES

That’s enough examples from around the world, or from history, and it’s certainly enough theorising; this piece is fundamentally about Wales, about independence and how we achieve it.

A future independent Wales built upon the principles of civic nationalism is now espoused by Plaid Cymru, and this can be attributed partly to Plaid Cymru’s move to the left, and partly Plaid Cymru’s refusal to confront the colonisation strategy of recent decades that has seen Welsh people becoming a minority in many parts of the country.

While this colonisation was taking place Plaid Cymru remained silent, even condemned those who spoke out. For example, I recall Dafydd Elis Thomas, when leader of the party, likening poet R S Thomas to Jean-Marie Le Pen for speaking out on colonisation.

Having done nothing to oppose this social engineering I suppose it could be argued that Plaid Cymru has little alternative but to now promote civic nationalism.

But my real objections to civic nationalism as espoused by Plaid Cymru and others on the left is that it treats Wales as a geographical expression, nothing more.

This leftist element – wearing its ‘environmentalist’ wig – also encourages the kind of colonialist arrogance that demands Welsh land, and Welsh public funding, so that people like Rebecca Wrigley, of the Summit to Sea project, can settle here and do their own thing.

Colonialism, 21st century style. Click to enlarge

Or listen to Natalie Buttriss of the Woodland Trust give her support to this colonialist land-grab.

The age of imperialism may be over for most of the world but twenty-first century Wales has a whole new class of district officers and memsahibs. With these upper-class invaders receiving support from the bruvvers and sissters of Labour and Plaid Cymru.

But my fundamental concern with civic nationalism is that it denies the existence of a Welsh nation. In this regard it is little better than the civic nationalisms of ‘new’ countries that marginalise or totally exclude their indigenous populations.

I am a Welshman, pure and simple, and I belong to the Welsh nation. Wales is my homeland. And for many reasons I want independence.

Others promoting independence and using civic nationalism as the bait argue that independence is a logical step from devolution, but why do we have devolution? It’s because in September 1997 enough people voted, out of pride in being Welsh, to set up an assembly.

Check the results. The areas that voted Yes were those areas where most people identify as Welsh. This applied to the Valleys and Swansea Bay as well as to the Welsh-speaking west.

Come to that, why do we even have Wales? Wales is not a natural unit like Ireland and Scotland, or even Brittany. The answer is that the idea of Wales was kept alive by people who believed themselves to be Welsh.

Which is why two thousand years or more of history, and a national identity, cannot be rejected because a few leftists mistakenly think that concepts of nationhood are dangerous or passé.

RECOMMENDATION

I am a Welshman, and my nation is open to new members. It always has been. Throughout the ages we have welcomed people prepared to identify with us and ready to take our side. I look at Neil McEvoy and I see a better Welshman than many in the party trying to destroy him.

There is nothing narrow or exclusive in my sense of nationhood, but I object to being colonised and exploited. And I will never accept that someone has an equal claim to Wales simply because they were able to outbid locals for a house.

And are we supposed to welcome the crooks and shysters I write about? The memsahibs advocating clearances? Assorted BritNats? Or Jacques Protic and legions of anti-Welsh bigots? Get real!

There may be no written test for Welshness . . . but we can all recognise someone who’d pass, and someone who’d fail.

I know my history, and I’ve been roughing it on the fringes of the nationalist movement since the time of Tryweryn. When younger I used to run on pure emotion, but in recent decades, as I’ve come to better appreciate how the system operates, it’s given me even more reasons to want independence.

Those who don’t regard themselves as Welsh, or fail to understand the true ugliness of the present system, will need to be won over by arguing that it would be in the interests of everyone living here if Wales was independent. Here’s where civic nationalism can play its role.

Where the 1997 devolution referendum was won. Click to enlarge.

But at the end of the day, as with the devolution referendum of 1997, and the extra powers referendum of 2011, the bedrock support will need to come from the Welsh-identifying element in the population.

Which means that taking Welsh people for granted, or worse, alienating them by promoting a route to independence that ignores Welsh nationhood, can only damage the chances of independence.

What is also damaging is putting the cart before the horse by trying to lay down the rules for an independent Wales without any consultation and before the objective is realised. This will alienate more people than will be enthused.

We must give as many people as possible reason to believe that their concerns and aspirations can be met with independence. And decide on the kind of new Wales we want after independence is achieved.

This broadest possible appeal is the only way to maximise support, and to achieve independence.

♦ end ♦