Baywatch 2


If you haven’t yet read ‘Baywatch’, my earlier post on this subject, then I suggest you do.

In that first post we established that Mark Vincent James, Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, is in partnership with Stephen James Corner and Warwick Estates Property Management Ltd, (said to be Corner by another name), in three companies, Century Wharf (One) RTM Company LtdCentury Wharf (Two) RTM Company Ltd and Century Wharf (Three) RTM Company Ltd.

Century Wharf

RTM means ‘Right to Manage’, a vehicle by which those owning or leasing apartments in a block may exercise some control over the running of that block. An RTM is a company limited by guarantee having no share capital and with each member usually being liable to a nominal sum such as £1 in the event of it all going belly-up.

That there are three Century Wharf RTMs suggests that each represents a different block on Century Wharf, which covers a considerable area on the east bank of the River Taff, to the north of Clarence Road, the A4119.

It’s worth considering the timeline for these three companies. All were Incorporated 18 October 2012, with Steven James Corner as a founding director, but he resigned from all three on 21 December 2012. He re-joined all three on 27 November 2014, as did Stephen John Kass. James also joined (One) and (Three) on that day, but for some reason he’d joined (Two) five months earlier, on 27 June 2015.

Despite being involved with all three RTMs I have only found one lease in Century Wharf held by James, this being 186 Hansen Court. Which makes it reasonable to conclude that either he has other properties in Century Wharf that we don’t yet know about, or that he’s involved with the RTMs in a ‘professional’ capacity, a possibility I’ll discuss later.

In addition, we know that James owns the leases on two properties near to where the A4232 lands on the west side of the Bay. These are 6 Davaar House and 9 Davaar House. As we learn from White Pages (see below), Patrycja (D) Nowak, the young Polish woman I wrote about in Baywatch, has lived at both 9 Davaar House and 186 Hansen Court.

Ms Nowak living in two different properties leased by Mark Vincent James, Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, was obviously a perfectly proper landlord-tenant relationship, and this blog will not stoop to suggest otherwise.

Ms Nowak, you may recall, is said to be the woman who fell from a seventh-floor flat at Century Wharf. Knowing that Ms Nowak has lived at two addresses leased by Mark Vincent James it’s not unreasonable to assume that her fall might have occurred at another property owned or leased by him.

It’s worth adding that the relationship between James and Corner seems to be strengthening. For in March they formed a company, Building and Estate Solutions Today Ltd, the only other director being a Mark Philip Carter, who seems to be based in Brighton.


Quite obviously, Mark Vincent James doesn’t live in any of the properties he leases in the Bay; he lives, with his devoted and pious wife, in Carmarthen. Which means that the properties in Cardiff Bay are investments, intended to swell the James family fortune beyond even that which Carmarthenshire Council Council and assorted lawyers have thus far achieved.

Which takes us to the heart of the issue, and why so many of James’s neighbours in Cardiff Bay are unhappy with his behaviour, and the company he keeps. It’s because many of those living in the buildings we’ve discussed are permanent residents, and they bought their properties in order to live in them. A number of these permanent residents are retired and elderly.

While on the other hand, we have those, like Mark Vincent James, who own or lease properties in the Bay as investments. And because they’re investments, it follows that their owners wish to maximise the return on those investments.

Some two-bed flats on Century Wharf and elsewhere in the Bay are currently advertised for rent for as little as £650 pcm, which will cover the mortgage and provide a regular income for the holder of the lease. However, much more can be made by renting out flats for short stays.

Because the real money is to be made from holidaymakers, weekend visitors, business visitors, those attending conferences, sporting events, and others in Cardiff for short periods who prefer self-catering accommodation to hotels. Equally clearly, and especially when these short-stay visitors are stag and hen parties, there will be disruption for the permanent residents.

As we read in ‘Baywatch’, one of the companies involved in the rental business in Cardiff Bay is Squarefoot Estate Agents, a company owned by Michael James Corner through another of his companies, Imaginative Property Group Ltd. Squarefoot (or Square Foot, as it’s known to Companies House), also sells properties in Cardiff Bay.

Another company involved in the Cardiff Bay letting business is A Space In The City, and Companies House tells us that Corner is again a director. In fact, this new company, Incorporated as recently as 1 December 2016, is now wholly owned by Corner’s Imaginative Property Group Ltd.

And as we’ve seen, Corner is also the man running the three Century Wharf RTMs. This is achieved by him controlling, by various means, the leases, or the votes of leaseholders, for 80 – 90 properties on Century Wharf. So with anything between 80 and 140 attending the AGM it’s clear that his block vote will trump the individual leaseholders unless there’s a very good turnout and they’re united.

This is further helped by Mark Vincent James serving as chairman at these AGMs, and refusing to allow questions that might embarrass him or his partner(s), while also ensuring that ‘troublemakers’ are not allowed to participate. If this sounds familiar, then of course it’s how James has run Carmarthenshire County Council for too long.

Through A Space in the City, Squarefoot Estate Agents, Warwick Estates and other companies Stephen James Corner controls the leases of many properties in Cardiff Bay. These properties are run to maximise profit and by so doing make life miserable for others, including many retired people. His front man now appears to be Mark Vincent James.

The irony, or tragedy, here is that the three RTMs were set up originally by residents in order to free themselves from one exploitive agent in the form of Peverel OM, the company mentioned in this Guardian article. Instead, they eventually fell into the clutches of Corner, Kass and James. Talk about frying pan and fire!

The deeper problem might be that too many flats have been built in Cardiff Bay. If not too many, then no attempt made to separate those wanting a quiet life and those prepared to rent out their investments to stag parties. When rules and agreements do exist to limit the uses to which these flats can be put, Corner and others like him seem able to waltz around them.


Mark Vincent James is in business with a man, Steven James Corner, who set up a company, Imaginative Property Group Ltd, with a woman, Barbara Kahan, who is accused by the The Sunday Times and others of allowing her name to be used in setting up UK companies that are used by criminals to launder money.

The address now given for the Imaginative Property Group is 98 Davaar House, a building where Mark Vincent James leases two flats. Given Corner’s link with Kahan, and James’s business links with Corner, we’re entitled to ask:

Is Mark Vincent James, Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, the man who wants to make a blogger homeless, Private Eye Shit of the Year 2016, now linked with property companies that might be laundering money for criminals?

click to enlarge

What we know for certain is that Mark Vincent James is involved with companies riding roughshod over residents in certain blocks of flats in Cardiff Bay. Various permissions and lease conditions are breached for the personal benefit of Steven James Corner, Mark Vincent James and Stephen John Kass. These three now control the Right to Manage companies that were set up to defend permanent residents from people like them.

I think the time has come for Mark Vincent James to make a clean breast of his activities in Cardiff Bay. How many properties does he own or lease? Before becoming a director, and then chair, of the RTMs, did James declare to other leaseholders – as he was required to – his pecuniary interest (of which others only became aware when they realised his relationship with Corner and Kass)?

Should the public be concerned that a man embroiled in a shady and little known sector of the property jungle is also the chief executive of a Welsh local authority? Has he declared his property dealings in Cardiff Bay to his employer, Carmarthenshire County Council? (Though seeing as he is chief executive, and controls everything on the council, to whom would he declare it?)

And what is the ‘Welsh’ Government’s view of Mark Vincent James’s dealings in the Cardiff Bay property market, and the disreputable company he keeps? Shouldn’t this be a matter for concern?

The ‘Welsh’ Government might also care to question whether any dealings it has had with Mark Vincent James, or any advice it might have accepted from him, could have profited James and those he is involved with in the Cardiff Bay property racket.


In an attempt to establish the propriety of Mark Vincent James’s excursion into one of the more opaque areas of the property business I have written to the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales. The current holder of that post is Nick Bennett, a former CEO of Community Housing Cymru, and an ‘insider’ to the tips of his shapely and well-manicured fingertips.

I don’t expect Bennett to tell me that James has done anything wrong (even if he has), because one thing that has become clear in recent years is that in the eyes of the ‘Welsh’ Government and others Mark Vincent James is a man without fault. Telling me that either he has his own flock of guardian angels or else he knows where a lot of bodies are buried.

But anyway, I’ll go through the motions. Here’s a copy of my letter to Bennett.

♦ end ♦

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[…] Carmarthen Planning and Jac o’ the North have turned their eyes to Carmarthenshire’s benevolent and not at all tetchy Chief Executive […]

JE Lloyd

Sorry, Jac, I know it’s not relevant to this article, but I thought it would be interesting to exchange views on how the current Tory/DUP impasse could be worked to Wales’s advantage.

Here would be my price for offering the Tories support on a “confidence and supply” basis (a combination of nation-building and bread & butter):-

1. Get rid of the offensive “Henry VIII Clause” from the Wales Act. Why should Westminster reserve the power to overrule Welsh legislation (especially as they didn’t impose this on the Scots).

2. Establish a Welsh jurisdiction. Welsh courts to interpret and adjudicate on disputes regarding Welsh laws.

3. Devolve policing. Welsh law enforcement system answerable to the Welsh parliament for Welsh laws.

4. Fair funding for Wales based on Holtham’s recommendations.

These would be big wins for Wales even if Plaid took a short-term electoral hammering …


Thing is. The Labour Party do deals with the Tories. Labour were in a formal coalition with the Tories on Aberdeenshire council for five years, and such an arrangement in English councils is quite common. Of course, the biggest ever deal between the Tories and Labour was in Scotland with the ‘Better Together’ coalition. Tories and Labour shared party funds, swapped personnel as required, and campaigned on a common platform.

I cannot see why doing a ‘grand coalition’ which includes Tories on Conwy council is a problem for Plaid Cymru HQ. It helps get the bins emptied (which a Labour minority council in Bridgend fails to achive) and allows the council to set a budget and get on with providing services to the council tax payers of the county.

I suggest that, in principle, Plaid Cymru should oppose zero hour contracts, minimum wage for waste and recycling staff, under-staffing of schools, privatisation of leisure centres, and selling off public parks. This would mean that coalitions with Labour councillors should be banned. Alun Ffred and the Cardiff Bay quiche munchers have got it wrong.

Big Gee

That’s right. The perpetual problem within Plaid in latter years has always been that schism.

Voters in the culturally strong, usually Welsh speaking areas have voted Plaid for cultural reasons – not because they support ‘Labourite’ causes projected by Plaid.

In the traditional Labour voting (socialist) areas, they pick up votes from those who like their socialism with a Welsh flavour.

Traditionally Plaid was a Nationalist party with socialist tendencies. For some time now it has been a socialist party with Welsh sympathies. Not quite the same thing.

So prominent has this been that even within the party they segregate their supporters into ‘Cultural Nationalists’ and ‘Socialist Nationalists’. Never the twain shall meet; unless you can educate the socialist element to understand their roots, history and traditional, unique culture. Try and do that and they call you a right wing fascist!

Tip your policies too far one way or the other and the opposite minded members jib. It’s a conundrum, and one that they aren’t very good at squaring. The answer is – as usual – the need for proper education.

Here is a clip from a 1974 plaid Cymru election broadcast – my how things have changed. Progress in the ranks of Plaid? Hardly.


Telling people anything that goes against their beliefs never works. Only way people will ever take that on board is if their Welsh identity is separated from their Socialist beliefs. Gwynfor Evans had the right idea… a quantifiable figurehead for Wales above politics – a symbol of our shared history and identity.

Creating a situation where people need to think whether they are Socialists living in Wales or a Welsh Socialist seems the only logical way forward after that. When they make that choice… those proud Welsh folk will be far more open to being told things they want to know about.

Only problem after that is Republicanism… which has no place in Welsh identity anyway. That and all Republics tend to be born through bloody conflict.

Big Gee

A thoughtful contribution there CambroUiDunlainge.

Gwynfor Evans had the right idea… a quantifiable figurehead for Wales above politics – a symbol of our shared history and identity.

And that’s what’s been missing for a while isn’t it? Although I’m not too convinced that Gwynfor’s (what’s now called) “neoliberalism” and religion based pacifism was a particularly good thing. It spawned a whole generation of candle-lit vigils by people who seemed more concerned about the plight of anyone anywhere in the world with a problem – than us here in Cymru!

Republics on the whole have had a bloody time getting established, but I’d put that more down to elitist, psychopathic, greed inflamed royals, rather than the republicans. Royals will fight tooth and nail to hang on to the vice like grip they have on power over their minions, and the totally unjust and uncaring world they have forged for themselves over the centuries – through military might and their unashamed theft from the poor.

Little wonder they’re all staunch Tory supporters!


Republics on the whole have had a bloody time getting established, but I’d put that more down to elitist, psychopathic, greed inflamed royals, rather than the republicans.

Not sure about that… “English Civil War” had psychopaths to go around – though the religious zeal behind it may account for that. Though not just talking about the transition periods… USA for example was still fighting Britain up as far as 1790’s and had a few rebellions as well (Whiskey and one other) and only gained legitimacy in 1812 when it managed a ropey conflict against British forces.

The French Republic couldn’t wait to start fighting against Britain after they were done feeding Madame Guillotine. Again to gain legitimacy. Did the Soviet Union really gain legitimacy until World War II? It’s the ultimate test of any nation to fight a war and gain a status quo or even a victory to show they have the solidarity and support of their people.

Little wonder they’re all staunch Tory supporters!

Tories represent the problem with Monarchy and Democracy and probably the human condition as a whole… they are those who actively seek out power – and who feel they are entitled too it – who want to be as close as they possibly can. Power corrupts… I think the quest for that power is also corrupting when they stand on others to get there. I’d say there’s a fair few in Labour who are no better mind you.

Big Gee

I’d say there’s a fair few in Labour who are no better mind you.

Amen to that! I believe they’re called BLIARites these days! Pink Tories to you and me


bang on the button there, Brychan. Labour in Bridgend is an excellent example of a dead body taking up valuable space. The carcass should be disposed of sharpish and replaced with people who really want to deliver a service. During the local elections I met a candidate who said that the rubbish problem was nothing to do with the council as it had been privatised. This is a good example of the thick cnuts that seek a seat on our councils.

As for Plaid they need to adopt a small number of genuinely principled positions and get on with delivering results, quit the posturing. I don’t know Gareth Jones any better than I know Jeremy Corbyn but any guy that wants to tackle real local issues and has little time for debating the minutae of political philosophy is worth backing. Probably has more real community spirit than those pontificating pseudo socialists down the Bay anyhow.

John Young

With Swansea nominated to be the Judicial Capital of Wales with all the associated kudos that would bring.

CJ and his cronies would have a coronary. Another reason for doing it.


Sounds like the Secret Handshake Society at work. Wonder who is scratching his back…

Cardiff Bay is NOT interested at all. “It is up to the councils. We do not have the finance or the manpower to police what councils do” That sums it up . Whatever CCC do regardless of law/protocol or procedure they are answerable to nobody .It is a situation that has been allowed to operate for far too long .The majority of the councillors lack ANY backbone to call to account and the VERY few that do are threatened with legal proceedings. No doubt funded by the folks of Carmarthen. There seems to be a long standing culture that having an executive led council is the way it should be. NOT very democratic.Keep up the good work Jac. No doubt James would dearly like to silence you as he has tried in such a vindictive way and continues to do with Jacqui Thompson.


Not entirely surprised by your disclosure though it irritates the hell out of me. I had occasion to attend a social event in Carmarthen and remarked to an old acquaintance, a rebel in his time, that the 2 guys in deep conversation nearby were a right pair of dodgy fuckers. To which he replied, “they are not all that bad they bring money into the area and can be very helpful when you need a council decision quickly” ! The 2 with their heads almost touching were your Mr James and the esteemed Vice P of TrinityStDavids Global Universities Inc (or whatever name it goes by today ! )

Tessa Finch

I was told of something a Nigerian national observed of the UK – he said that there is just as much corruption here as in his own country, it’s just that here it is rather better hidden.


Jac and Dafis – I know nothing about Mark James but in terms of ‘how the fuck does he get away with everything’, I am reminded of Peter Higson, the Chair of the Betsi Board, and Martin Jones, the Director of Workforce of the Betsi, as well as Dr Dafydd Alun Jones, Chair of CAIS. I’m talking criminal activity here of which I have documentary evidence. As for going to Mark Drakeford – don’t even waste your time. Drakeford’s idea of dealing with the crooks at the Betsi was to get around the table and talk to the unions. Furthermore I informed Drakeford of a major research fraud carried out by psychologists at Bangor University. He did not reply to me but a few weeks later took part in a press release promoting the intervention that was the centre of the fraud. He is a complete wanker who put patients in danger. Tawel Fan exploded in his face and it was only then that he placed that bunch of charlatans in special measures. No-one has been disciplined or prosecuted over the abuse in Tawel Fan ward, but the nurse who blew the whistle on it all was suspended, received death threats and now works in England. No action was taken over the criminal activity that I gained evidence of, although there was enough there to justify prison sentences. I took a leaf out of your book Jac and started blogging about at all, naming those responsible. It is it seems all that we can do.


Question 1 to WLGA (Maybe send same to M Drakeford at same time, or a courtesy copy with a view to refering to him later should WLGA prove “unhelpful” )

Question – Please define the scope for undertaking additional roles and securing additional earnings that is specified or implied in the form of contact used to underpin the employment relationship that exists between a County Council and its CEO and and the Heads of Service/Function such as Education, Highways and Engineering/ Infrastructure, or Social Services, that report to that CEO.

Is this formally documented with express inclusions and express exclusions ? Thank you for your assistance in this matter and in anticipation of a detailed reply.
Yours sincerely, grovelling pleb with uppity tendencies.


In the event of the above failing could a resident of Sir Gar ( must have a few of those on here !) write to his/her M.P indicating that all attempts thus far to shed light into a few dark corners have failed. Jonathan Edwards sits for the East constituency while the West is covered by a Tory M.P, and Llanelli by a Labour M.P.

Indeed the responses of all three might be of interest. Do they refer the writer to Cynulliad’s Minister or do they undertake to raise the matter and pursue it ?


PSOW – Sounds like a nice cosy environment for useless folk to pretend they are public “servants”. Ripe for closure due to lack of activity.


Jac I have received similar letters from PSOW on other matters, almost identical in wording. The “copy and paste” function must be widely used in their office.


I agree. However, have you considered submitting a formal complaint to CCC. We are all aware that an internal investigation would be a whitewash as an employee of CCC would obviously be reluctant to investigate the activity of it’s CEO. However, any formal complaint has to be investigated. If you are not satisfied with the outcome you are then entitled to refer the complaint to PSOW as an external complaint as the Council’s internal complaints process has been exhausted. The process can take time {probably 4 to 6 months}but it has the advantage that issues remain in the public arena while we await the outcome of various internal / external investigations. Just my thoughts on the subject for your consideration.


If you go down this channel you should write to the Chair of the Council although given CCC’s evident laxity on these matters he/she is likely to respond with a terse “nothing wrong here, and you are not a council tax payer in this county so F*** off”. If Wynne is correct on procedure you could then complain to PSOW who could easily respond in much the same way – If the Chair says all is well, then who is to argue with his/her authoritative diagnosis. I begin to see PSOW in the light you described earlier an anti- complainant/whistleblower vehicle designed to protect those in power.


Like all Councils their complaints procedure should be available on their website. It is normally a two stage process Stage 1 {informal complaint}. If not resolved Stage 2 {formal internal investigation}. If not resolved the complaint can be referred to PSOW under Stage 3. I shall try and obtain a copy of CCC complaints procedure and forward to you.

Patricia breckman

PSOW role is/was intended to get redress for members of the public who have been failed by their local authority, and who have suffered because of those failures. However it seems to be very much another arm of protection for officers and local authorities to enable them to escape any formal investigation.

Big Gee

They are just concerned with procedures at the early stage Jac. Don’t forget they get complains about everything from the budgie next door being too loud to why the council workmen outside on the road took 20 minutes instead of 10 for their morning tea break. It probably got answered before it even found it’s way to the Ombudsman.

You can’t read too much into the initial response – it’s never thought out, and it doesn’t have a hidden agenda. All they want is for protocols to be observed, and they are pointing that out to you. That means making a formal complaint to the Council, letting it run it’s course there, and then they will pick up the batten as and when they are formally required to do so. There’s nothing sinister in the initial response, it’s just a standard – as you say Wynne – copy ‘n paste job with a few peripheral detail changes to lead the complainant into the process using the correct method.

What you need to do in the first instance Jac is make a strong formal written complaint to the Council. If you’re not satisfied with the way they’ve dealt with it, after it’s run it’s course THEN write to the Ombudsman. The same applies to court procedures, you can’t jump into a court room and demand a judge to make a judgement regarding your grievance there and then unless you’ve followed the correct procedure. You will only be told by the court clerk, and not the judge, to go away and start again using the correct procedural process.

It’s the way things are done, and we have to adhere to them whether we like it or not. It’s just a tad early to start yelling “conspiracy”!


Poor old Mark James, being “investigated” when his only “crime” is to behave within the long established “norms” of Welsh and U.K public life. He has probably gone further than most but that is utterly consistent with a man who always strives to be the best at what he does. The sense of entitlement to fill his boots by any means overrides any other consideration such as duty, integrity, honesty etc.

Carmarthen will probably build a statue for him in his own lifetime with a punch line a la Sinatra – “I did it my way” .


or rule 2 (99 and a half ), which remains open to interpretation – the fine line about what gets defined as too fuckin’ blatant is very fine indeed – ill defined, drawn on sand and prone to shifting with the wind whichever way it blows !

However James gets kitted out in the political version of teflon, nothing sticks to him and he will get bolder.

It makes one wonder what magic does he possess – like knowing where the bodies are. Does he have detailed knowledge of any other as yet unknown dodgy dealings undertaken by as yet unnamed politicians, thus yielding good compromising material which secures support and even silent approval.

Rob Morgan

Do you have the previous article on Owen Smith?

Tessa Finch

Wow! This is really astonishing! I echo your comment/query – how the fuck DOES Vinnie get away with all this?


Jac Very interesting. Please keep us informed of the response from Mr Nick Bennett PSOW.

Jacqui Thompson (@caebrwyn)

Interesting that the key players in this have also refused to provide other RTM Board members or leaseholders with detailed breakdown of expenditure, and that Messrs Corner and James have had board meetings comprising just the two of them. When challenged on this they claimed that it was all above board as they were not discussing Century Wharf….There appears to be a reluctance to provide information, documents and legal advice and anyone that challenges their actions, or asks for documentation, is accused of questioning their integrity. All sounds very familiar…
As for declarations/conflicts of interest by Mr James as chief executive of the council, and as the WAO pointed out, he failed to do this, or even withdraw from the meeting when being personally, and unlawfully bankrolled for the libel indemnity at an Executive Board meeting.

Neil McEvoy

Happy to put any questions to the Welsh Government, which may need asking. Just let me know.

Big Gee

That’s rather a blanket ‘shotgun’ question Jac. I think it would be a good idea for you to formulate a proper well thought out polite and formal question for Neil to get the ball rolling, and then advance from there. People need to be put on the spot, strictly one item at a time – so that they don’t have any wriggle room.


councillors in Carmarthen should be asking what consent if any exists in Mark James’ contract of employment to engage in any venture, business activity or any form of gainful employment outside the scope of his primary role as Chief Exec Carms C.C


Perhaps the WLGA have a policy on this kind of situation. They are very quick to tell us how hard working and ultra committed to their roles these senior executives are. Given that hard working committed ethic it is unlikely that such paragons would have time for the kind of distractions you describe in your article. In the likely event that any correspondence would end up in the WLGA equivalent of the long grass at the far corner of the field, it might be better to take up the matter with Mark Drakeford who looks after Finance and Local Government at Y Cynulliad.


The role of elected councillors is to hold officers {including CEO} to account. It is clear that the current elected leader of Carmarthenshire Council {whoever he or she may be} is not discharging his / her obligation. This is similar to the previous situation at Pembrokeshire where elected councillors were unable, or unwilling, to hold the former CEO to account.

Big Gee

Hmmm – the plot thickens! Make sure that the right people get to read this blog Jac.