Black Mountains College

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

Black Mountains College got a mention in the previous post, since when the Annual Review and Financial Statement has become available on the Companies House website. This new document throws up a number of matters worthy of comment. There are also other issues that need an airing.

IN THE BEGINNING

There are two companies using the Black Mountains College name.

The first, Black Mountains College Ltd, was Incorporated 3 October, 2017, and I suspect it was something of a false start. I say that because it was set up as a private limited company, and it’s now dormant.

Perhaps realising their mistake, the BMC crew soon set up the Black Mountains College Project (without ‘Limited’) as a company limited by guarantee, and a charity of the same name, 7 February, 2018.

The difference being that with the first company the directors would have been fully liable had it gone belly-up, but with the second incarnation the directors can only be made to cough up a maximum of £10 each.

The directors of Black Mountains College Ltd are Dr William Newton-Smith and Ben Rawlence. Newton-Smith is also a director and trustee of the second company, while Rawlence is now CEO.

Potted biographies for the directors/trustees of the Black Mountains College Project can be found on the BMC website. I’ll provide further information as this article develops.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

You can get quite a lot of information from the BMC website. More can be found in this piece by Rawlence from the autumn/winter 2018 issue of The Welsh Agenda, published by the Institute of Welsh Affairs. (The images suggest someone was a little heavy-handed with the Photoshop controls.)

The BMC offers a degree course with a partner university that I can’t find named on the site, but which might be Trinity St David’s of ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson. An institution that has been moving steadily east from Lampeter and Carmarthen so much in recent years that it’s only a matter of time before it crosses the border.

But whichever university it is, it’s not named among ‘Our Partners’.

The BMC also offers, “further education vocational training in future skills. We aim to get you ready for a high-tech, low carbon future with skills such as seasonal catering, organic horticulture, coppicing, coding and regenerative farming.”

‘Seasonal catering’ can only mean tourism. God help us!

Click to enlarge

Let’s turn now to the Rawlence article. Here’s the link again.

In a highlighted block we read: “Powys is facing a ‘catastrophic’ risk of a
collapse in its working age population. The rural economy is facing several
existential threats”.

And yet, Ben Rawlence is right, though I suspect he doesn’t know the reasons.

Powys has been neglected for the whole period of devolution because the Labour Party hates rural areas – where it has little support – and encourages attacks on agriculture, the mainstay of the rural economy, from the eco-warriors and rewilders now rallying to the BMC standard. To complete the picture Powys – like other rural areas of Wales – is filling up with retirees.

Result: A collapse in the working age population of Powys . . . but it doesn’t really matter because there are few jobs! That’s the ‘Welsh Government’s strategy for rural areas – neglect the needs of the indigenous Welsh to facilitate managed economic decline which will be disguised by the indigenes being replaced by a largely non-working population. 

The way to improve the situation is to build up an economy creating jobs for local people. This will not be achieved by attracting basket-weavers and organic radish growers who will never be more than self-employed.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

As I mentioned at the top, what prompts this piece is the availability of the latest Annual Review and Financial Statement. Here’s the link again, to help you follow where I’m going. Maybe keep it open in another window.

Let’s start on page 3, under ‘Financial Review’. You’ll read mention of funding from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. This came from the Authority’s Sustainability Fund and totalled £82,500. This was matched with a further £45,000 from the Ashley Family Foundation.

You’ll also see mention of “The Arwain (Leader) grant”. This is ‘Welsh Government’ funding via Powys County Council.

At the very bottom of the page you’ll read of a “large private donation” of £103,000. Perhaps you’ll agree with me that that seems a rather odd amount. Is it a more rounded figure in some other currency, and if so, which currency might that be?

Scrolling down . . .

Top of page 4 tells of £97,000 over two years from the National Lottery Community Fund, People and Places. Plus “several private donations of 5k”. I shall return to this in a moment.

Page 11 reminds us that last year Black Mountains College received a £45,000 grant from the Community Foundation in Wales. This is a funder I’m unfamiliar with, and even after visiting the website I’m still not clear where its money comes from, or how it operates. All I can tell you is that it’s another Englandandwales outfit. (Scotland and Northern Ireland are not covered.)

Where the money goes. Click to enlarge

There’s obviously money coming in, but I was still surprised to see £122,415 spent on “Legal & professional fees”, compared to just £6,040 the previous year. Though I’m sure very little of this would have gone on legal fees.

Part of this sum (plus match funding) went to employ a Communications Director three days a week. Which means that the greater part went on professional fees.

Under ‘Expenditure’ on page 4 we see the likely beneficiary in The Philanthropy Company. Certainly, Black Mountains College gets a mention as a client of the fund-raising Philanthropy Company.

Though for a fledgling organisation with not a lot of cash that is a big outlay. Some might say extravagant.

On the plus side, staff costs soared from £23,890 in 2019 to £105,979 in 2020.

Images: Black Mountains College. Click to enlarge

Which is what it’s all about, bringing jobs to Powys . . . but not for locals.

LIFE’S A LOTTERY . . . OR MAYBE NOT!

If you’ve been paying attention then you’ll remember that I told you about £97,000 promised by the National Lottery Community Fund, People and Places.

Click to enlarge

The reason I’m returning to this is that the Black Mountains College is unusually well connected when it comes to the National Lottery. In fact, of the seven directors/trustees two have Lottery connections – and I don’t mean selling tickets in a corner shop!

David Isaac, partner at solicitors Pinsent Masons, was a director of the Big Lottery Fund from 2014 to 2018.

Currently serving as a member of the Community Fund board is Elizabeth Passey.

What I find odd about Ms Passey is that nowhere in connection with the Lottery, either in the site I linked to in the previous paragraph, nor in this announcement from the UK Government of her reappointment, is there any mention of her link with the Black Mountains College. Nor, come to that, is there a mention of BMC in this bio from The Entrepreneurs Network.

Which I find odd, considering that she was there at the start of BMC, on September 7, 2018. As was David Isaac.

In fact, seeing as David Isaac served on the Lottery from 2014 to 2018, and Elizabeth Passey was reappointed for a second term in 2018, they would have served together.

Click to enlarge

Equally puzzling is that Ms Passey’s BMC bio (scroll down to ‘Trustees’) does not mention her Lottery role.

Almost as if we’re not allowed to see Lottery and BMC together.

I won’t say too much as I’m already knee-deep in solicitors’ letters, but two out of seven directors/trustees having top jobs with the Lottery, and the Lottery then shelling out £97,000 for BMC, with possibly more to come, is food for thought.

Certainly got me thinking.

UPDATE 30.08.2020: A number of comments have drawn our attention to the fact that David Isaac has done very well for himself, very well indeed. Whereas some are homeless, most of us satisfied with one home, the greedy wanting two, but Dai has got three, maybe more. ‘Champagne socialist’, the Daily Mail called him.

The more we learn about Black Mountains College the more obvious it becomes that they’re a bunch of ‘We know best’ poseurs, charlatans and interlopers.

CONCLUSION

From my executive swivel chair the Black Mountains College looks like a milking machine. A few people, sensing the zeitgeist, have seen a chance to both enhance their reputations in certain circles while also pulling down a bit of moolah.

I certainly don’t believe it started as described by Emma, when, “On a wintry night in 2016, with wind rattling the windows, Ben and his neighbour Owen talked about the frightening future that their young daughters would inherit.”

Makes it sound like they were waiting for Heathcliff and Cathy!

On nights such as that I find the best thing to do is to relax with a glass or twa while listening to Hank Williams singing some particularly soulful numbers, then putting on a good pair of woolly socks and going to bed.

However it started, the Black Mountains College had to be in Wales. After TAN 6 and One Planet Developments, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, and the ‘Welsh Government’ declaring war on farmers, just about every eco-shyster on planet Earth was Googling ‘Wales’.

Click to enlarge

Go to 7:10 in this video to hear some arrogant interloper named Chris Vernon opine: “There is no reason why Wales couldn’t support several tens of thousands of smallholdings in the open countryside”.

How many, exactly, Chris, 30,000, 50,000? Whose country are we talking about, Chris?

And how many Welsh farming families will have to lose their land to accommodate these tens of thousands of smallholdings? Or, if the smallholdings would be on land that is currently unused, how the hell would that be helping the environment?

UPDATE: The saintly Dr Chris Vernon works for the Met Office in Bristol. His wife, Dr Erica Thompson, is a Fellow of the London School of Economics. I doubt that they live full-time on their OPD.

What’s more, with them both pulling down good salaries they certainly don’t need the income from their OPD. Which makes them, at best, hobby farmers; at worst, eco-charlatans.

Despite lauding the self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle they don’t actually live it.

If Black Mountains College takes off then Chris Vernon and his ilk will have their mother church. Somewhere ‘safe’ for their kids to be educated. And BMC will attract more Chris Vernons to Wales.

In another contribution Ben Rawlence urges us to ‘decolonise’ this, that and t’other. But it never occurs to the Ben Rawlences of this world that they can be as guilty of colonialist behaviour, especially in Wales, as those on the political right they are so ready to condemn as “threats to the liberal order”.

(Trans: The Orwellian-sounding “threats to the liberal order” means those who won’t submit to the left liberal climate alarmist agenda. Or those who can think for themselves and won’t be dictated to.)

Let’s finish with another rhetorical flourish from Rawlence’s piece in the IWA publication. A paragraph towards the end begins with, “The college of the future cannot be a college on the hill, an ivory tower divorced from its environment.”

Yet that’s exactly what the cult-like Black Mountains College wants to be. And that’s why it must not be funded from the public purse.

♦ end ♦

 




80 thoughts on “Black Mountains College

  1. Gordon Howe

    What another bloody good bit of work Jac. We do not know half of what is going on in our own countryside do we ? This helps though and carry on the good work. Nodrog

  2. Dafis

    No doubt Wales needs to up its game in most matters relating to education. However that will be done by careful investment into all levels of schooling, colleges and universities to deliver the formative skills and knowledge on the one hand and the life long learning/ continuous improvement modules on the other. Right now there is an excessive amount of frilly bullshit being pumped into people’s heads all portrayed as “learning experiences”. The nation needs to have this stuff dumped or relegated to a shrunk minority activity so that the focus can again be returned to real core skills.

    Of course this may well mean that numerous people who have got away with peddling bullshit for years will have to find something else to do. I don’t mind if they all fuck off to Black Mountain College as long as the Welsh taxpayer doesn’t hand over a clinker to fund this dubious enterprise.

  3. Brychan

    You mention arrogant interloper named Chris Vernon opine: “There is no reason why Wales couldn’t support several tens of thousands of smallholdings in the open countryside”.

    Dr Christopher Leonard Vernon is a director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy (02219673) in Bristol. He is married Erica Lucy Thompson. They set up Rhiw Las Limited (08686077), an OPD enterprise located between Llanboidy and Whitland in Carmarthenshire. Here he tells us of his building of an OPD dwelling on the site.

    https://strawbalebuildinguk.com/dr-chris-vernon-at-bsbg/

    He has his own website which includes his CV, employed by the Met office for south west region and he runs a blog of what he gets up to on weekends.

    http://chrisvernon.co.uk/

    He evidently uses the Rhiw Las encampment as a holiday home as he’s registered to vote at his primary home in Bristol, the photo’s of which he has posted on his blog, along with various recipes, his photos of the Bristol hot air balloon fiesta, a trip to Copenhagen and an early morning cycle ride to Clifton Suspension Bridge. This is despite winning a planning appeal in 2016 at CCC saying he and Erica will be self sufficient for 5 years on the Carmarthenshire smallholding in Carmarthenshire.

      1. Brychan

        Here is the details of Dr Erica Lucy Thompson and her husband Dr Christopher Leonard Vernon with a photo of their eco-house in Carmarthenshire.

        Erica tells the BBC in 2019 that she works as a climate scientist at the LSE and is chairwoman of the One Planet Council.

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-48769569

        Erica is currently working as a fellow at LSE in London, and on her website she tells us of her lecture talks, one to Bangkok, Nov 2019, but the one in London (April 2020) and Leeds (May 2020) were cancelled due to Covid-19, but she is booked for Oxford in September.

        http://www.ericathompson.co.uk/

        If anyone is wondering what the conversation is like between two climate scientists over the dinner table in Carmarthenshire. Here we have a twitter exchange between Dr Vernon and Dr Thompson.

        How romantic. Predictive mathematical models for the spread of SARS-CoV-2, now pass the broccoli darling. I wonder who does the washing up?

        1. Dafis

          Wrong there Brychan. The conversation over dinner will focus on what sort of publicity stunt will we pull off on Twitter or some other medium next. Had they just been concerned about Covid or any other issue they could have shared thoughts on private e-mail. This was just a piece of blatant posturing, showing off, for the “benefit” of those mugs who hang on every word. An audience of sad bastards led up the garden path by a pair of schemers.

          1. Brychan

            It also shows that even the most qualified scientists can make the error of a preposition and then seek out data sets to validate themselves.

            Italy is a landlocked country, the UK is an island. Geography is significant in the close proximity person to person transmission of a virus. For Covid-19 it would be more accurate to compare UK with Japan (social control) or New Zealand (strict lockdown) or Korea (track&trace) or Scandinavia (herd immunity). Countries of similar perturbation boundaries.

            They make the same mistake with climate change.

            Selective data sets to validate a preposition. We know that climate change is a pre-existing reality, and Dr Vernon most of all having a Phd in glaciation and working for the Met office. The real question to ask is how much of climate change is due to man-made activity, what and where is this damage caused, and what action can mitigate the effect.

            https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/world-coal-production-by-area-through-2016-bp.png

            The answer lies in China, not Wales. The idea that cutting down trees to install wind turbines, or building straw bale holiday homes in Carmarthenshire and then flying to Bangkok to deliver lectures on emissions exemplifies the fakery. The OPD concept has no role to play, other than to hand land to proto-colonisers for purpose of self enrichment of a privileged elite at the expense of a native population.

            In the same way as BMC. It’s not science, it’s settlement.

    1. Dafis

      Complete and utter cnut ! and those soppy buggers sitting on Sir Gar Planning and the execs within that function should be smart enough to pick up on this kind of deviance, but they can’t be bothered. They are too lazy, and too pissed from the last free lunch they tucked into.

      1. No, the council refused permission, they appealed, the Planning Inspectorate allowed it – and awarded costs against the council!

        1. Dafis

          That’s a rare event. The County is notorious for letting all sorts of crap fly through – part of the James legacy.

        2. My guess as to how the Planing Inspector allowed it is because he had to follow the WAG Technical Advice Notes on this type of development. Who was responsible for that? It was ‘Dr’ Edna Mitty ‘PhD’ (of the Yurt Bullshit Book fame – don’t buy it) when she was a Minister in WAG supported then to the hilt by Labour and Plaid Cymru Senedd Members. Why vote Plaid when they are Labour’s wokist little stooges who in turn hate everything about rural Wales and its struggling farmers. Will any member of the Senedd put forward a Motion to delete / amend the One Planet Planning Policy TAN? I doubt it. How about Neil McEvoy doing that. There will have to be a vote and that will probably prove Plaid Cymru’s stand on this issue. They support One Planets and Re-Wilding. So let a Senedd vote expose that to prove their position with Labour of wanting to destroy rural Wales and Welsh speaking heartlands.

    2. Mel Morgan

      This kind of skewed planning system, rewarding unviable colonists at the expense of working agriculturalists, is reminiscent of the régime often imposed in some African county. The end result was always that independent farmers were reduced to helotry within a generation. The precedents are not happy.

      1. Dafis

        For Mugabe insert Drakeford. In the case of Zimbabwe it was a fixation with ownership at the expense of competence that wrecked the agri economy. Here in Wales the fixation is with being at the vanguard of some trendy obsession with no visible benefit to any of our natives.

  4. Dafis

    Completely off topic, Several headlines in various MSM rags along lines of :

    Push to get staff back to offices amid warning of UK’s ‘ghost towns’

    wtf – only months ago there was huge wailing about all those commuters spending hours on the road or in crowded rail carriages, buses, wheelbarrows etc particularly those who had to get into London every day. One of the few benefits of Covid is that it accelerated the move towards remote or home working enabling people to be a damn sight more efficient without having to sit or stand next to some smelly bloke for ages twice a day 5 days a week.

    So why the fuss about getting people back to offices ? Apparently there is widespread concern about the future prospects for inner city pubs, vendors of fast food etc These are the fuckers who tend to employ people on minimum wages, zero or short hour contracts and generally not known as places where people spend a lifetime working out of choice. Perhaps the real story lies in the imminent collapse of inner city business property values which will send corporate landlords into a debt laden tizzy. These same creeps often feature on Tory donor lists and continue to be seen bending planning rules while dining with high ranking politicians and officials. Of course Boris &Co would never let their mates sink so we can expect a turning of the screw, fairly benign at first but getting nastier with passing of time.

  5. Gruff Williams

    Off topic, apologies. I see that Bethan is not standing on 2021. Any guesses for who gets the spot?

    1. She won’t be missed as a politician. Her contribution to the Swansea area she supposedly represented was minimal seeing as she was living in Cardiff. No doubt she’ll still be seen flitting about the Bay. We can almost guarantee a new career in lobbying or the third sector because her kind is just unsuited for the real world.

      1. Dafis

        That’s a glowing recommendation from you there Jac. Should trigger a stampede of interest from the worlds of fake enterprise and political skullduggery.

        I suspect she’s read the writing on the wall, that Plaid will get a grade 1 routing at the polls not because Labour are any good at government but simply because Plaid have been so shockingly bad at holding Labour to account. Plaid has been notably poor on matters that affect the people of Wales while wandering off on all sorts of tangents. Their record of pissing over their own, notably McEvoy, will have been noted by the electorate. We the voters are incredibly twp in some ways but we certainly don’t like sanctimonious little creeps who just engage in posturing, talk a big show and do sweet F.A. So if Plaid are left with just enough to fill a phone box I guess they’ll be getting what they deserve. Maybe McEvoy and Gwlad will take up the slack.

      2. Off Topic again – I was privileged over the past decade, and more, to go to a great number of major events in and around Swansea and South Wales West in a capacity of an Office I held. At those events, there was always a turn out of people like Assembly / Senedd Members from all parties and MPs, and others of eminent service, who supported the causes and tributes great and small. One most notable absentee was always Bethan Sayed (nee Jenkins). She was not seen, and attendees would often comment critically of her absence. I put it down to her not being interested in concerts & charity events & funerals & sports & eminent visitors & celebrations & remembrance services to the area of South Wales West and Swansea Bay’s people. Such gatherings were probably not wokist enough for her. Let’s hope her seat in the Senedd is taken up by someone active and supportive of the area – dare I say a Neil McEvoy supporter would be very fitting.
        Anyway readers – let’s get back to discussing the “Black Mountains College”. Jac it’s a good write up that needs pursuit. Is ‘Dr’ Edna Mitty ‘PhD’ involved with this lot?

  6. YBarddCwsc

    So Dr Vernon & Dr Thompson either

    (i) have a second home in Carmarthenshire under then guise of OPD, and live/work elsewhere

    or

    (ii) are living in Carmarthenshire & travelling to London/Bristol for work, so incurring a huge ecological footprint.

    In either case, they have contravened the ostensible aims of the OPDs.

    Brychan found an interesting quote:

    “Erica is currently working as a fellow at LSE in London, and on her website she tells us of her lecture talks, one to Bangkok,”

    So, Eric took a flight to Bangkok to lecture the people of Thailand about climate change!!!

    And what about the carbon footprint of the flight ?

    These people are such hypocrites — like “Dr” Jane, their flights and their travel never counts!

    We can at least make sure this OPD is charged as a second home, if that is what it is.

  7. Dafis

    …and here’s another shower of shit that doesn’t really give a damn about the well being of our country, as reported by IMJ’s site .

    Extinction Rebellion to stage Cardiff protest

    Extinction Rebellion activists are planning a demonstration in Cardiff next Wednesday as part of a campaign to secure political support for a climate emergency bill.

    XR plans to protest over rising sea levels at the Senedd, while other groups will also be staging demonstrations in London and Manchester.

    Organisers say they are encouraging all protesters to maintain social distancing, wear gloves and a mask, and bring hand sanitiser.

    The demonstrations are set to go ahead despite a police warning that organisers of gatherings of more than 30 people could face a £10,000 fine due to breaking coronavirus restrictions.

    1. Gruff Williams

      Everything I read on here I agree with. What should we do about it? Any ideas? BTW, beware agents provocateurs.

        1. Gruff Williams

          I have written two responses to your question and both have been disappeared, if I can get Argentinian.

    2. Brychan

      Thanks for your tip off about XR demo outside the Senedd, Dafis. Last year I saw them in Carmarthen where they had glued themselves to Barclays Bank, causing much disruption to local businesses. One of the leading lights of Carmarthen Extinction Rebellion is Audley Parry Burnett. Here is his Facebook poster.

      Audley is a practicing acupuncturist, who practices his craft from two different locations, The Waverley Stores, 23 Lammas Street, Carmarthen, SA31 3AL and 57 Harley, London, W1G 8QS. Here is his business website.

      https://www.acupuncturewestwales.co.uk/supervision-and-mentoring

      Audley now lives with his ‘rescue hens’ at Dre-Fach, Felindre, near Llandysul. SA44 5JD and is listed on ‘The Peerage’ pages as follows.

      http://www.thepeerage.com/p22969.htm

      Audley George Parry Burnett was born in 1956, son of Lt. Col George Parry Burnett and Natalie Wales Winslow. He married Hon. Nicola Cross, daughter of Assheton Henry Cross, 3rd Viscount Cross and Patricia Mary Hewetson. Educated at Harrow School, Harrow, London, England and Cambridge University, then London School of Economics then the School of Traditional Acupuncture, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

      https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/public-content/public-pr-blog/6614-acupuncture-a-rational-culturally-relevant-and-essential-part-of-china-s-development.html

      When not running around Carmarthen town centre telling everyone they’re damaging the climate, Audley “was fortunate to gain a place on a two-week trip to China recently. The trip, sponsored by the British Acupuncture Council, London’s Confucius Institute and Heilongjiang University in Harbin, north-east China, aimed to help participants widen their knowledge”.

      1. Dafis

        Sounds just like my kind of guy ….. the kind of guy I put on top of the bonfire on 5th Nov to humour local kids !

        1. Brychan

          On his Facebook page Audley Parry Burnett says he rescued some egg laying hens from the cages of a battery farm in 2019. He is featured with one such hen in the photo of the XR poster above. Thing is, hens of this type don’t live much longer than five years, and battery faming of hens became illegal throughout the UK in 2011. So is he fibbing, or in possession of the oldest chicken in Wales?

  8. YBarddCwsc

    Having looked through the Black Mountains College website, I agree with Jac.

    It seems to be at the level of a scam email from Nigeria with the intention to defraud the unwary.

    Under no circumstance should any student enrol for any course here unless they want to be scammed with a worthless qualification.

    The trustees and people connected with the College are remarkable in that they have no experience of rural life (let alone Welsh rural life). They are all affluent journalists, academics, broadcasters, “arts facilitators”, green activists, the Provosts of Oxford Colleges, the Masters of Cambridge Colleges & professors of creativity.

    They are mainly based in London, New York, or other metropolises.

    My guess is that the main connection most of them have with rural life is that they all own second homes in the country — whether the house in Powys or the retreat on Long Island.

    They are the sort of people who can easily sink tens of thousands of pounds into their ‘little project in the country’ while continuing to work in London. They drone on about how they have an intimate relationship with the “healing powers of nature” because they play at living in the country. Like the dissembling Dr Vernon & Dr Thompson, the fact that they have to travel between their real place of work and their second home is of no consequence. Carbon footprint is for the little people.

    There is no discernible education content on the website, there are no facilities or even buildings that could be called a College, there are no courses that would materially advance the job prospects of any student.

    It is a scam.

    As Jac says, it is a perfect match for what the University of Wales, Trinity St Davids has become.

  9. Brychan

    There are two trustees of Black Mountain College. Elizabeth Passey and David Isaac.

    One of the growing sustainable exports of rural Wales is plastic water bottles. The story starts at a farm at Trap, near Llandeilo. The farm was purchased by a much older generation of hippy settlers, originating from Caterham in Surrey. The happy hippies begot a promising young daughter, Susan Virginia Schumacher. The holding was in two parts, Llwyndewi Isaf and Llwyndewi Uchaf.

    In 1978 the family discovered the farm had some natural springs, and set up a diverse enterprise, then called Brecon Waters. This product is now branded as Brecon Carreg, although there is a line called “Waitrose Waters”.

    https://groceries.morrisons.com/productImages/307/307244011_0_640x640.jpg

    Like “Dr” Jane, Virginia, as she prefers to call herself, managed to get a degree in English in this case at the University of East Anglia, before going on to do teacher training at Aberystwyth. This is the same year as Jane.

    Since then Virginia spent time working as a teacher in Stroud, Gloucestershire a post that only lasted 4 months, so like our Jane, Virginia wasn’t cut out to be a teacher. She found gainful employment as a marketing executive for a UK government qualifications assessment centre in Cheltenham before moving on to work at UCAS the University admissions clearing system.

    https://uk.linkedin.com/in/virginia-isaac-b15a1b21

    The opportunity to come back to Wales in 2009, when Virginia Isaac (nee Schumacher) was appointed a Governor at University of Wales Trinity Saint David and from this position was also appointed a Member of the Advisory Panel for Welsh Language Commissioner.

    Jane and Virginia meet again.
    In fact this was when Jane arrived at University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

    In 2015 our Virginia became a founding director of Inspiring Future Careers Limited, based in Surrey, but by 2019 this company went into liquidation. Virginia now posts reviews to Amazon books where she rates “FutureGen – Lessons From a Small Country” by Jane Davidson as “Excellent”.

    I wonder if Virgina Isaac is related to David Isaac a trustee of Black Mountain College?

    1. Brilliant work, Brychan, yet more connections. On a bio I read it said that David Isaac went to King Henry VIII Grammar School in Abergavenny and that he is Jewish. Isaac is an interesting name because, obviously, it can be Jewish, but it can also be Welsh. I feel sure that Virginia will appear in the next piece I write on BMC.

      1. Dafis

        I love reading these “happy family” tales where well connected people repeatedly “bump” into each other, collaborate and do such good work on behalf of wider society. They must love this appreciation website as no one else seems to be aware of their accumulated goodness.

    2. Roger Jones

      Coincidently who was working at UWTSD in 2009 was a Meri Huws – who was then appointed Welsh Language Commisioner and one of her team did get a job in ACC the UK government qualifications assessment centre in Cheltenham !

      Wheels within wheels

    1. Yes, I’ve read it, it’s a good piece, as far as it goes. I say that because the problem isn’t confined to holiday homes.

      As Carrie has pointed out elsewhere, the local problem in Wrecsam is big estates being forced on the area. This was initially justified, in 2010, by the ‘Welsh Government’ predicting a 20% increase in Wrecsam’s population . . . then it was revised to 10%. The latest calculation suggests that the population is going to fall by 1.5% – but all the new housing forced on the area is still ‘needed’.

      When you look at where these developments are located one things becomes very clear. They’re all to the north or east of the town, convenient for Cheshire. Nothing to the south or the west that might suggest local buyers. Here’s another NC piece from Carrie Harper a few weeks back explaining the problem.

      I’m currently working on a piece in which I try to take a more comprehensive look at the reasons why we are becoming strangers in our own country. With suggested remedies.

  10. YBarddCwsc

    David Isaac is gay. Here is his lgbthistory page.

    https://lgbthistoryuk.org/wiki/David_Isaac

    Whoever the spouse of Ms Virginia Isaac is, I think it is unlikely to be David.

    Still, this is an absolutely stellar trajectory for Virginia from failed teacher to running UCAS and governor of UWTSD.

    Here she is, spouting drivel for a minute and a half on youtube

    There is also a 36 minute interview on youtube. But I expect most people’s tolerance will break at a minute and a half.

    ————–

    Curiously, my review of “Dr” Davidson’s book on amazon was removed — presumably after “Dr” Davidson complained.

    Freedom of speech is alive and well — but only if you agree with “Dr” Davidson & her cultural genocide.

    1. Even at just a minute and a half she manages to pack in a remarkable amount of waffle. No wonder it’s had so many views. You’d have to be a masochist to watch 36 minutes of this woman. I’ll pass.

      1. I just came in from working hard outside. I sat down with a coffee and I put on Jac’s Blog. For light but boring entertainment I watched and wasted ninety seconds on Virginia Isaac spouting drivel. What was she saying? How much does she get paid to spout crap? We have all faced an uncertain world, ever since the first evolutionary cells of life split. The issue is many lives are more uncertain than others. Of course people like “Dr” Edna Mitty “PhD” and Ms Virginia Isaac are quite certain they will have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies and a (real) Doctor on hand if they have the need. Also thrown in a freebie Plane Ticket to fly to a “Pseudo Green” Bullshit Conference half way around our planet. Jac can you invite some intelligent masochist to read the bogus “Doctor’s” book and put a serious detailed Review of it on this Blog. Then we can all tell everyone what we guess is bollocks to really be a load of bollocks by quoting from a serious review – especially if Amazon is removing and censoring certain reviews. What is now being done by Amazon is undermining the whole process of reviews on Amazon and discrediting honesty.

        1. Brychan

          Truthseeker. She is saying, on the YouTube channel of UniGlos who are outstanding for awarding degrees to paramedics, that the core subject is not important and a broad spectrum of study is better, including the arts. So if you fall off a ladder over the border, expect the ambulance driver who attends, to treat you through the medium of contemporary dance.

          1. I was thinking along similar lines. If I call a plumber in an emergency I expect him to fix my leak, not sit on the wet floor wanting to discuss Hegel.

    2. Brychan

      Yes. Susan Virginia Isaac is married to Philip Isaac, and they have together set up a company called Alter Via Limited (07344571) a company specialising in management consultancy. The company is registered to an accommodation address in Llandovery, even though they are both on the electoral role as living together in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Of course, Philip Isaac and David Isaac could be related.

        1. Dafis

          Consultants ! Ychafi. Same class of deviant as practitioners of dark arts such as witchcraft. Most of them are verbally fluent, manipulative and more concerned with generating repetitive business rather than devising and delivering lasting solutions to real problems/challenges.

          File under : shysters, spivs, conmen/women, and sub-group : shallow bastards.

  11. YBarddCwsc

    I conjectured that Black Mountains College was Second Homers College, given the enormous wealth & privilege of all those connected with it.

    I was wrong.

    Because David Isaac doesn’t have 2 homes.

    He has 3 homes (at least according to the Daily Mail).

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/columnists/article-3533172/Why-Nicky-Morgan-pickle-appointment-David-Isaac-quango-job.html

    He has a house in Islington, a farm in Herefordshire, and another house in Oxford, And as Provost-Elect of Worcester College, Oxford, he has a grace and favour house waiting for him anyway. So, he is on to his fourth home.

    How do these people square their lifestyles — their travel between all these empty homes — with “sustainability”?

    There is something fundamentally dishonest about the Black Mountains College. It is just wrong to prate about sustainability when your own life is clearly consuming so much more than a fair share of the planet’s resources.

    Clearly, Second Homers College should teach the skills that the Trustees really believe the indigenous Welsh need. As Jac points out, they have made a start with the BTech in “Seasonal Catering”.

    But, second, third & fourth homes don’t look after themselves. There can be B Techs in Second Home Gardening & Empty Property Maintenance.

    And then there is Security — it can be a pain for the second, third & fourth home owner not knowing what is happening to all the empty houses.

    They need a reliable trusty in the neighbourhood — with a Black Mountains College BTech in Sycophancy.

    1. Brychan

      So in reality, these champagne socialists see south Powys as a rural retreat. Previously having been on the payroll of New Labour they now find no further sustenance in England. They seek to hop across the border from their estates in Gloucestershire into the Black Mountains to milk the tit of “Dr” Jane Davidsons rural master plan. A few grants, a tax-free education institution, a flipchart in a converted barn, and their revenue stream being guaranteed from the student loans of the young gullible being robbed for a worthless degree. I think that’s what sums it up.

      1. There’s an interesting mix involved with Rhiw Las Ltd. Also note that under ‘Occupation’ Thompson and Vernon have written ‘None’. We know this is wrong, they both have careers. So it looks like yet another attempt to deceive. Only one of the others gives an occupation. Is Dr Paul Jennings really unemployed?

        The Italian lady, Silvia Michielon, seems to have married Wycliffe Tippins, she is certainly using his name. In May 2018 they started a company, Tygwennol Cyf, perhaps realising they’d got the name wrong the company was dissolved last November. It resurfaced as Ty Gwennol Cyf a week ago.

  12. YBarddCwsc

    A Senior Research Fellow (Dr Thompson) in London probably earns 50 k. Dr Vernon probably earns somewhat more at the Met Office, say 70k.

    So, with a joint salary of circa 120k, Dr V and Dr T are very well-off. Just right for playing at farms.

    They can well afford two cars belching out exhaust gases to travel from Bristol to Carmarthenshire (Dr V) and London to Carmarthenshire (Dr T).

    1. I’ll accept your figures. The point I’d make is that people living on OPDs are supposed to be largely self-sufficient – from the OPD. These two are clearly not. And the others involved with Rhiw Las seem to fall into the same – well-paid professional – category. Which would make Rhiw Las a commune of hobby farmers or a collection of OPD holiday homes.

      1. The examples given here above obviously breach the TAN Planning Guidelines of WAG, which forced the Councils or Appeal Inspectors to approve them as OPDs. If the Councils choose, they may serve a Notice to stop this abuse of the Planning. However, Planning Enforcement is a Legal Minefield and generally only undertaken if it is in the Public Interest as it can cost an enormous amount when dealing with very clever shysters and the local populace don’t care a damn. The locals should care as it is they who will pay the costs.
        The only solution is for WAG itself to amend TAN6 to prevent all future OPDs, and any currently in the pipeline should have strict personal use conditions or be deferred.
        Which Senedd member will step up to move a Motion on this to Amend TAN6 in the Senedd? I cannot see a single one, not even the great Neil McEvoy because, as wonderful he is, he is basically a “towny” with little interest in rural affairs. Both the Labour Party, and their Ishoo Brigade little buddies called Plaid Cymru, now detest or do not care for our countryside and its farmers. The sly Lib Dems are only interested in trying to be greener than the Green Party’s jokers and the true Welsh Tories don’t care as long as their friends in London are happy making more money out of Finance and Land Deals!
        So the stark truth is that the “Dr” Edna Mitty “PhD” brigade are winning their rights to be the slick false undertakers at Wales’ funeral. We have survived our own ancient inter rivalries and the Romans and the Vikings and the Saxons and the Normans and Plagues and Pestilence and the Kinnock types. Do we all have any remaining guts to step up to the line in May 2021 and get rid of the whole ‘fxyzpqrng’ lot that occupy Cardiff Bay?

        1. Dafis

          Truth Seeker – Twice in the last 4 days or so you have included comment about Neil McEvoy’s absence from the “fray” on these issues and dismissed him as a “towny”. See below :

          “Will any member of the Senedd put forward a Motion to delete / amend the One Planet Planning Policy TAN? I doubt it. How about Neil McEvoy doing that.”

          “Which Senedd member will step up to move a Motion on this to Amend TAN6 in the Senedd? I cannot see a single one, not even the great Neil McEvoy because, as wonderful he is, he is basically a “towny” with little interest in rural affairs.”

          I just wish that some of those sitting M.S/A.S/A.C/A.M’s who represent our rural constituencies had taken as much interest in what goes on in their back yards as McEvoy takes in his. He has repeatedly got off his arse and confronted Y Cynulliad/ Senedd and the resident colonialist regime, and also swung into action at local authority level. He is often frustrated by orchestrated campaigns to inhibit his activity but he keeps getting back into action and gives his 100% +.

          Now you tell me which of our lazy fuckwit sitting members can match him or come remotely near for sustained effort. You have answered the question already as you have said :
          “…Both the Labour Party, and their Ishoo Brigade little buddies called Plaid Cymru, now detest or do not care for our countryside and its farmers…”
          The answer lies in ensuring that smart energetic candidates get put up by WNP and Gwlad ( preferably carving the country up tactically) to displace some of the “corpses” that currently inhabit the space.

  13. YBarddCwsc

    Dr V and Dr T are far, far worse than hobbyists.

    They are absolute stinking hypocrites. They are actively undermining any green rationale for OPDs with all their car travel from their multiple places of work to Rhiw Las.

    I note as another bit of subterfuge Dr V and Dr T did not give their doctoral titles on the document — they are just plain old Mr V and Ms T at Rhiw Las Ltd, without any discernible occupation & living the simple, green life. What skulking liars!

    On to Wycliffe Tippins, another liar rolling up at Rhiw Las.

    Wycliffe Tippins was living in Stroud in December 2019.

    I know because he tweeted his MP to howl for proportional representation, and his MP was David Drew (now XMP for Stroud). Wycliffe is a computer games developer. Another useful addition to the rural skillset at Rhiw Las !

    Even though he lived in Stroud in 2015, he was busy lobbying for the Wellness of Future Generations Bill at the National Assembly. He wasn’t in Wales and had no right to do this.

    https://tinyurl.com/y3azo86b

    If you look at Facebook, you can see an “interesting opportunity” from our Wycliffe. It reads:

    “We are looking for a long term volunteer to help design and manage the growing situation of our 5 acre One Planet Development in West Wales.

    We are part of a small eco-village in west Wales. One of four plots on 21 acres of mixed pasture & woodland, all in various stages of building ecological houses and creating land based livelihoods. Our family is Wyc (40) and Silvia (40) with children Willow (5) and River (2).

    We have a touring caravan for guests, with gas cooking and wood burning stove. We live in a static caravan with hot water and shower available. The polytunnel is an additional social area with kitchen and tables. We use a composting toilet. Electricity is solar powered- lights and USB charger in the caravan, laptop charging in the static. Clothes washing is by launderette in the nearby town. We have wireless broadband

    We will provide all food on working days. We would love a volunteer to work with us three days a week developing the site and growing food. ”

    Doesn’t this break Minimum Wage Legislation?

    I mean, there are no wages, you live in a grotty caravan and you do all the hard farm-work for the OPD-ers. And in return, you get nothing except 3 days food. It is Modern Slavery.

    https://www.facebook.com/pg/groundspringnetwork/posts/

    We have got plenty of material on this band of rogues, liars and hypocrites to turf them out of Wales.

  14. YBarddCwsc

    And here is Dr Paul Jennings

    https://www.lowimpact.org/one-planet-development-paul-jennings-part-1/

    There are many interesting quotes in the article — the OPD-ers know exactly what they are doing. They are aiming to destroy rural Wales.

    “Paul paid £8k per acre for their land in West Wales. They paid £40k for their 5-acre plot in a 20-acre development – plus legal fees. Then you have to build something to live in. It’s problematic – and much easier if you’re selling a property in the south of England, or have spent 20 years in a well-paid job. Then West Wales will seem cheap.”

    Note that it seems: “They have to report annually on their progress towards meeting the policy requirements. That continues for 5 years. If those requirements are not met, they could potentially lose their planning permission”

    So, in a years time, we should be able to get hold of the annual report from Rhiw Las.

    Let’s make sure Dr T and Dr V have given up on their plush, well-paid jobs in Bristol and London and are living in filth among the straw bales.

    1. Brychan

      OPD dwellings are automatically given the lowest council tax band of “A” by the Wales Valuation Office, on the basis that the 5 year planning clause determines the dwelling virtually worthless. This is despite some plots changing hands for over £300k due to their ‘country views and setting’.

    2. Brychan

      Also, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) applies in Wales, and it’s a devolved variation of ‘stamp duty’ when buying a property for residential use. It came into force in April 2018. It’s to be paid upon purchasing a residential property. There is no exemption for OPDs.

      The tax kicks in at a property price of £250k yielding 5%, £400k at 7.5%, £750k at 10% and £1.5m at 12%, of the purchase value. However, there are different rates of LTT for second homes. They are 40k yielding 3%, £180k at 6.5%, £250k at 8%, £400k at 10.5%, £750k at 13% and £1.5m at 15%.

      Prior to April 2018, non-devolved stamp duty applied. Again we have a flat duty of 3% for second homes of value below £250k that does not apply if it’s the only or main residence.

      It also applies to new build homes.

      I was wondering when Dr Vernon and Dr Thompson purchased their freehold if they paid the tax in full, as we now know it was for purpose of a second home? Evasion can result in a criminal prosecution by HMRC. The snitch line is 0800 788 887. They will require the land registration details to launch an investigation.

      1. Land Transaction Tax, if used imaginatively, could both raise revenue and deter some from moving here. I was going to mention this in the piece I’m working on. Thanks for the figures. Though it kicks in at £180,000, surely?

        1. Brychan

          Yes. Looks to me like a ‘prevent shocks to the market’ for genuine first time buyers there was a taper period where 0% up to £250k that initially applied. But it’s 0% up to £180k now.

          https://gov.wales/land-transaction-tax-rates-and-bands

          Of course, there’s no 0% for a second home.

          3% LTT in 2020.
          3% LTT April 2018.
          3% Stamp Duty 2016-2018
          0% prior to April 2016.

          If they claim that Rhiw Las was their main residence, it means that their London and/or Bristol properties both become second homes, them being subject to second home stamp duty in England. They are married. When did they buy Rhiw Las? When was the buiding passed?

          1. I’m getting confused it was zero up to £180,000 until July 26. After that it’s zero up to £250,000.

            Rhiw Las Ltd was Incorporated 11 September 2013, which I suspect is when the land was bought. The company had capital of £40,000 (the land) with each of the eight holding one share.

            1. YBarddCwsc

              Do I have the timescales right?

              Dr V and Dr T should have moved into Rhiw Las and have begun supporting themselves by keeping bees in 2016 when the planning appeal was successful.

              This is according to their own 5 year plan here

              https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_Yndt2Yy7aLV3NXZ3ptVnJ4Q1E/view

              It is now 4 years since the planning appeal was granted. Dr V and Dr T are clearly busy with jobs in London & Bristol, and in flagrant breach of the OPD requirements, so the planning permission should be rescinded.

              So, who do we snitch to?

              Should not Carmarthenshire County Council be requesting repayment of the costs of the appeal? Because Dr V and Dr T submitted a document that is a pack of lies.

              1. YBarddCwsc

                The 5 year plan is a laugh.

                I read “Rhiw Las benefits from the presence of a wide range of wild foods, including nettles, dandelions, hedge garlic, hawthorn, elder, blackberries, cleavers, chickweed and many more. Seasonally, wild foods will make an important contribution to the subsistence of Rhiw Las dwellers”

                So Dr V and Dr T actually claimed they would be sitting down to delicious meals of nettles, chickweed and cleavers.

                What kind of simpleton is Alwyn B. Nixon, the Planning Office who believed this shite and granted the appeal?

                1. Unbelievable. They might as well have claimed there was plenty of breathable air around Rhiw Las. Who’s going to report these bastards?

                  1. YBarddCwsc

                    Like a good Stasi, it will be my pleasure to report them.

                    Who needs to know: (i) HMRC, (ii) Carmarthenshire County Council.

                    Anyone else?

            2. Brychan

              Looks like the Finance Minister upped the threshold during the Covid lockdown. This was when scrutiny by the Senedd was suspended.

              These OPDers may have initially assumed that the company, Rhiw Las Ltd being the owner, can be deemed to be trading as an agricultural holding, in which case they’d have to enter into a written share farming agreement. However, any resident in a property within the boundary of the lease would only be exempt from LTT if it passes the ‘HMRC farmer test’. A farmhand with a leased cottage that goes with the job. A genuine OPD resident may qualify.

              Working as a Senior Fellow at a London University (Thompson) or the Met Office in Bristol (Vernon) would not pass this test.

              The OPD planning application was submitted in October 2014.
              http://planning.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/PublicDocuments/53309468.pdf
              It was rejected by the council.

              This was overturned by the planning inspector in May 2016.
              http://planning.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/PublicDocuments/53352808.pdf

              They then applied to discharge some of the conditions in July 2016.
              http://planning.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/PublicDocuments/53358329.pdf
              This related to more caravans and parking on site for the construction phase suggesting that there was no complete residential property on either of the plots at this time.

              This is confirmed when the ‘Big Straw Bale Gathering tells us “Chris and his wife Erica have recently built a two story, roundwood timber frame, straw bale house on their One Planet Development smallholding in Carmarthenshire. This was 2018.
              https://strawbalebuildinguk.com/dr-chris-vernon-at-bsbg/

              I therefore conclude that a minimum of 3% LTT on the value of any property on the site if it is being used as a second home. Unless of course, they have nominated their London and Bristol properties as second homes which, when sold, those then being not the main residence, would be subject to capital gains tax.

              I’m sure HMRC will confirm this.

  15. Evo

    I’m as British as Windsor Davies in ‘it aint half hot mum’ but increasingly find myself nodding in agreament to this blog, one young nationalist I know wants independence so Wales can become a nation of sanctuary, in their mind the Conservatives are more evil than Hitler and independence is about shifting dramatically to the left. I agree devolution has been a disaster for Wales and the only path to change is abolition..

    1. Brychan

      Wales, as well as other nations of the UK, along with all countries in Europe have been a “nation of sanctuary” since 1951.

      The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created in 1950 and ever since then, the 1951 Refugee Convention has applied. That includes Wales. The ‘ishoo’ has nothing to with the EU, nor does the Welsh Government as currently constituted have any power to modify or amend this treaty. An independent Wales would simply sign the treaty in the same way as Solvenia, or Estonia.

      The treaty defines an exclusion. It does not apply to a migrant, a person or persons who just wishes to move state, this remains a matter for the nation state. It does, however, define a refugee. The often abused term ‘asylum seeker’ is someone who has arrived in the state they wish to seek refuge, who then applies for asylum under the treaty.

      “Nation of Sanctuary” is a meaningless virtue signalling soundbite invented by the British Labour Party. Having lost power in the Westminster House and in Scotland, the term was invented as a campaign slogan that could only possibly apply for Labour in Wales. It falsely suggests to those of recent overseas heritage that somehow “Welsh” Labour is protecting their interests. It doesn’t. It’s a vote retaining gambit.

      Here it is.
      https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-03/nation-of-sanctuary-refugee-and-asylum-seeker-plan_0.pdf

      Besides some waffle about powers that don’t currently reside in Wales, there are some racist terms. One of which is “integrate”. What behaviours do the Welsh Government require are these people required to adopt? Stop eating smelly food? Wales is a diverse nation, the idea that somehow there’s an ideal citizen that new arrivals should adhere to and the government should impose is really quite scary. There is another policy that’s disturbing, relating to ‘housing’. Once a person is has successfully obtained asylum they become a citizen. They have the same rights and responsibilities as any other Welsh person, and that applies to access to social housing.

      Outside of Wales the British Labour Party have campaigned to declare “Cities of sanctuary”. These are cities where there are voters of recent overseas heritage where the Labour vote is eroding. Sheffield (where it was originally established), Birmingham, Leicester, Bristol. Most notably, where Labour have a majority and elected mayor, London, has not made such a declaration. Note – There is one ‘City of Sanctuary’ registered as a charity in Wales. It is called the City of Flintshire ?? (1186789).

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