Cardigan Castle: Facts & Figures

I’m off to Scotland tomorrow and so, as Thursday sees the AGM of the Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust aka the Gang of Four + One, I have decided to put up a few of the many and varied documents that have come my way from all manner of sources (some very surprising!). They might help you better understand how this secretive and subversive grouping operates. A little light reading while I’m away, as it were.

As I possess neither smart phone nor iPad I am almost cut off from the world of the internet when I’m away from home, and my old steam-powered computer, unless, that is, I can get to a library or an internet cafe. So please bear with me if I’m slow to approve comments. (Though I might be able to persuade someone to do it for me).

However, I have arranged for someone to post news here if anything of note happens before, during or after the AGM. As I explained it to my stand-in, “I’m thinking now of some dramatic development like Dame Tucker eloping with Gareth Gregory or Sue ‘English!‘ Lewis announcing that she’s joined the FWA.” (I wonder how the Cambrian News would report that?) That’s enough light-hearted banter.

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The obvious document with which to start is the Articles of Incorporation. There’s not a lot here to excite any suspicion, apart perhaps, from the following:

3 Reminds us of my long-standing question as to why the Trust’s remit covers any building in and around the town of Cardigan. I could understand if it said ‘in and around the castle’, but the way it’s worded suggests that the trustees could take on other projects. A cheering thought!

5.3 Goods and Services. Has any trustee benefited from this? I see no mention of a tendering process.

More generally, I am concerned that the document has been amended. By which I mean, the document is ‘topped’ and ‘tailed’ by the date 21st of March 2000 yet the body of the document has clearly seen changes because there are references to the Charities Act 2011. (Unless of course the trustees were employing a seer back in 2000. And if so, then I hope the vacancy was better advertised than was the job created for Sue Lewis.)

If the document is being updated, as it clearly is, then surely we are entitled to know when, why, and on whose authority those changes were made. As things stand we can see that some changes have been made, but we may be unaware of others.

It would have been clearer if the original document had been kept pristine, and another, working version maintained for updates, with all updates and changes highlighted and explained. This hybrid version we now see is both unsatisfactory and misleading as it is no longer the document that was signed in March 2000 and is, therefore, of questionable status.

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Next up is the Collaboration Agreement between the trustees and Ceredigion County Council dated October 30th 2014. This substantiates the rumours saying that by the autumn of 2014, with the project falling behind schedule and needing to go to the Heritage Lottery Fund for an extra £1.5m, the local councils – both county and town – were becoming a tad concerned with the running of the whole thing. As the owner of the Castle the county council seems to have insisted on greater involvement.

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This ‘collaboration’ is made manifest in the minutes of the meeting of the Joint Project Management Board held on on Wednesday 26th of November 2014 . (Despite this co-operation coming about at the insistence of Ceredigion County Council three of the council’s representatives couldn’t be bothered to turn up). What caught my eye:

6.01.14 Note reference to “staff restructuring”. This is said to have been planned a long time before, but I have yet to see evidence for this. Which raises the suspicion that the ‘restructuring’ was part and parcel of the ploy to create a job for Sue Lewis.

That said, doing away with the post of Education Officer and creating the post of Facilities Officer gives us a clear indication of how the project has now been subverted into something purely and crassly commercial.

6.05.2 “Equinox has been appointed as the marketing company”. There was, presumably, a transparent tendering process before the contract was won by a company run by a friend of Gareth Gregory, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s man on the job.

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The next document is the minutes of the December 2014 trustee meeting. I found these interesting for the following reasons:

12.03 ” . . . the meeting prior to the Full Trustee Meeting . . . “. There have been persistent rumours of the Gang of Four (+ One) holding secret and unminuted meetings, often conducted with Timms on the telephone from Kent. Is this a reference to such a meeting?

20.02 Under Any Other Business, almost as an afterthought, we find reference to the new post of Facilities Officer. This is the job referred to above, created for Sue Lewis by her friends Jann Tucker, Hedydd Jones and Sandra Davies once she ceased working for the Tivy-Side Advertiser. Which probably explains why the three I’ve just named avoid being mentioned in 20.02.

The job was advertised, online only between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.

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Other documents that might interest you are the Minutes of the 2014 AGM. Note 5.01, this links with the aforementioned squeaky bum time in local council chambers regarding over-runs and appeals for more funding.

A little light is shone on this by a letter from the town council. No doubt the town council was happy to put money into a project employing local people, but the council clearly believes the trustees have a cheek coming back asking for more money after sacking five locals. Note in paragraph three the reference to the change from “project to operational phase” which the trustees use, in part, to justify the sacking. The final paragraph is a clear reference to the devious and secretive way in which Lady Tucker and her gang operate.

Here are some figures to get your teeth into from the Project Completion Programme dated December 17th 2014. And some more recent accounts where you will see, under ‘Generated Income’, ‘Car Raffle’. This refers to a car donated by B V Rees of Llandudoch, to be raffled off with all proceeds going to the project. A few weeks ago, totally out of the blue, and from a source I would not have expected, I was told that the Castle had made only very feeble attempts to sell those raffle tickets. The figure shown on this sheet is just £1007 – for a brand new car! What was the final figure?

Finally, here’s the agenda for the AGM to be held on September 10th 2015.

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This project has not gone well. It has taken longer to complete than forecast. It has cost more than predicted. It has failed to provide either contracts for local companies or jobs for local people. There are questions as to whether contracts were properly put out to tender, and whether vacancies were properly advertised. And as if that wasn’t enough, the project has deviated wildly from its original promise of celebrating Welsh history and culture to degenerate into little more than a glorified B & B that holds ‘functions’ . . . at a cost to the public purse of twelve million pounds, and counting.

All this has been achieved by a small clique acting secretively, and by behaving in this manner they have alienated too many within the local population. A small, self-electing and self-serving clique that seems guaranteed to continue due to, among other measures, demanding that anyone wanting to join the Trust, and vote at the AGM, must swear undying loyalty to the clique before being accepted!

As ‘Joff’ Timms of Kent, the clique’s front man, put it to one recent applicant: “In the light of your well publicised criticisms of the trust, the trustees have asked Cllr —— —– and me to try to arrange to meet you to discuss ways in which you would be willing to support the trust in realising its objects. Following this meeting, Cllr —– and I would make a recommendation to the trustees about whether your application should be approved.” What next – brainwashing?

They defend this dictatorial behaviour by arguing that those who criticise the trustees want to wreck the project, when the opposite is true. For it’s quite obvious that the members of the clique are not up to the job, it is they who are wrecking the project. Those who want them removed have only the best interests of the Castle and the town at heart.

It is unlikely that the Gang of Four + One can be removed at a rigged AGM; that being so, then other routes must be pursued to save this project, and return it to its original promise.

34 thoughts on “Cardigan Castle: Facts & Figures

  1. Re the Articles, the “around the town” bit looks to me like a standard lawyer’s catch-all. I would quite probably have added, “… or in such other places as the Trustee may from time to time deem appropriate” to cover all possible future eventualities. I.e. it makes clear the intended focus of the Trust’s endeavours but leaves open other possibilities.

    Enjoy Yr Alban, and give it my love …

    1. Yes, I’ve heard that explanation, and it could be right, but when we remember who we’re dealing with . . .

      I’ll blow Auld Reekie a kiss for you.

  2. Peter Jones

    Well researched and as usual asks very important questions. Also this post is better for avoiding the misogyny that has distracted from the core arguments of earlier posts. However I have yet to read the alternative vision for the castle only criticisms of the current one.

    1. Misogyny! It’s not my fault if the Gang of Four are all women.

      Not sure what you mean by “alternative vision”. I thought it had been spelt out many times both by me and others, it’s the original promise of a project celebrating Welsh history and culture, rather than (as I put in in today’s post) “a glorified B & B that holds ‘functions'” – are you saying that this shows ‘vision’?

  3. Dai Dom Da

    Lots of interesting stuff here. As Jac notes, vanishingly little of the lucrative contracts awarded have gone to local firms, Take catering, for example. The minutes of the board meeting held on 17 December 2014 note that Spiro Borg was actively recruiting a chef and catering assistant, as well as “liaising with prospective brides”.

    Spiro Borg is a Greek-born catering entrepreneur based in Cardiff who does the catering at various venues in and around Cardiff. Given the nature of catering logistics, being based over 100 miles away made Spiro an interesting choice of partner, but clearly nobody closer to home was considered up to the job.

    When the castle finally opened its doors to the public, the first major disaster was the catering, with a tidal wave of complaints from customers about very long waits, poor service and dire food. The chef was fired a week after opening.

    As for those prospective brides being rustled up by Spiro in Cardiff, it is clear from the outset that Lady T and friends had decided that they were not interested in local brides.

    Does anyone know if any weddings have actually taken place at Tucker Towers yet?

    1. A lot of the money for this project came via Cardiff and went straight back to Cardiff, as happens with too many publicly funded projects in Wales.

  4. Ian Perryman

    Regarding the staff restructuring – the Charity Commission make these points:
    http://ogs.charitycommission.gov.uk/g515a009.aspx

    There are several interesting bullet points here but I noted in particular the bullet point “had no involvement in the decision to create the paid position” and wondered if it was relevant in this case.

    If it had been planned ‘a long time before’ (as you say they claim) then surely Sue Lewis, when a trustee, would have been part of the planning for the restructuring?

    If this is so then apparently (if my understanding of the above document is correct) the Charity Commission would have had to approve the appointment.

    So why did the Commission approve advertising the job for a short time, over a holiday period; especially in the light of the reported statement that the change was planned a long time in advance?

  5. Hefin Wyn

    Peter, there was a time when I regularly posted comments on Castell Aberteifi’s facebook suggesting the alternative vision harnessed to the true heritage roots of the enterprise. I even praised the few events which could be deemed in harmony with such a vision. Unfortunately, I was recently blocked from contributing my illuminating thoughts.

    However, all is not lost since Arglwydd Rhys himself recently released the following proclamation – only the second since his death in 1197. Read on. A copy should be distributed to all present at the AGM.

    I, Rhys ap Gruffudd, Ruler of Deheubarth, call upon the people of Aberteifi (and the whole of Deheubarth and Wales for that matter) to adopt a thoroughly Welsh creative imagination at my castle on the banks of the Teifi.

    I welcome Meinir Heulyn’s harp lessons. The old tunes tug at my heart. I appreciate the Welsh lessons given. My appreciation would be much more fervent if everybody employed on site spoke Welsh freely.

    I already feel a healing on hearing that national bard, Ceri Wyn, will coax his apprentices to polish their alliterative skills at my castle? No doubt they will challenge each other with the profundity of their lines? I look forward avidly to the day the castle will be re-possessed by the Welsh in my name.

    I decry that no hall has been built on the pattern of my old meeting place. It would have challenged an inventive architect. ‘Without a hall, without a court, without nothing’, was the adage in my castles if there was no place to assemble together. That is where I would offer welcome, that is where we would dine, that is where the bards and musicians entertained. That is where the wine and mead would flow, that is where the tales of the Mabinogi were told, that is where my guests were at ease, and that is where discussions took place and decisions were made regarding my dynasty. That was the focal point of my lordship. I wish to see the return of those values.

    As I am credited with organising the first ever ‘Eisteddfod’, I insist on a warm welcome to be given to the Archdruid and his gorsedd at all times. Let them hold their courts here. I call upon them to work closely with the castle authorities to ensure a meritorious memory of all that is associated with the festival, in particular the input of the indomitable, Iolo Morgannwg. I would be delighted to sit down for a meal with the genius from the Vale of Glamorgan.

    I was overjoyed to hear that the ode of one of the local bards was adjudged the best ever Eisteddfod winning ode. I look forward to a presentation of ‘Y Cynhaeaf (The Harvest) masterpiece by Dic yr Hendre. I understand he is of the same bardic mettle as Dafydd ap Gwilym who also had close associations. I look forward to seeing an imaginative presentation of his life and work as well.

    As my sisters married princes of Morgannwg, Senghennydd and Gwent I would be pleased to welcome artistes such as Manic Street Preachers, Geraint Jarman and Stereophonics to perform at my castle. As Rhodri ab Owain, from Gwynedd, was my son-in-law, I would welcome Bryn Fôn, in his turn, and especially Arfon Gwilym with his folk orchestra, Y Glêr. That would surely echo down the ages. My cup would overflow.

    Go for it, the inhabitants of Aberteifi. Let us not be colonized no more. It was at Castell Aberteifi, primarily, I sowed the seeds of nationhood. I wish to see those seeds sprouting and flowering anew in the hands of the people of Aberteifi and the vicinity.

    Please establish a Cymdeithas Rhys ap Gruffudd that will be a credit to all and sundry and to which no ambition will be beyond attainment.

    P.S. I was tickled by the song ‘English Heritage Castle’. It should not be so.

    PROCLAMATION (2) Autumn 2015

  6. Anon

    It appears from the documents shown here that the public announcement about a public meeting about what was happening in the Castle was reduced to a private meeting by invitation only, in a document that was circulated in a less than public manner.

    The letter from the Town Council also says the Trust were less than forthcoming in their communications.

    The LHF are supposed to support projects with a strong public involvement, are they happy with the way things have developed?

  7. Brychan

    There is of course a basic flaw in the push for the castle to become up-market tourist accommodation. That flaw is Ms Lewis. Persons of wealth or celebrity seeking a weekend castle retreat require exclusivity and privacy, not a journalist and former newspaper editor in charge as “facilities officer”.

    The facility does not lend itself to such accommodation, anyway. Visit Scotland do promote such venues under the banner “Journey with us, and we will open doors for you that to other people remain closed “. These are castles of cultural heritage specifically refurbished for high-end boutique accommodation. However, that is not the remit of Cadwgan which was publicly funded for open access.

    Cardigan Castle : Who/What’s it for?

  8. Brychan

    The annual accounts for Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust has now been released into the public domain and it throws up a series of questions.

    (a) In March 2014 Cyngor Ceredigion was owed £1,780,901 (creditor, services provided by the council) but by March 2015 this balance was transformed to a sum of £463,954 (debtor). This is a sum now payable, in the short term by the council term, to Cadwgan. This is trading activity. What is this?

    (b) The cash at the bank has plummeted from £256,382 to £58,485 (£42,089 held by the trust and £16,396 held by the trading subsidiary). This is an extraordinary reduction in disposable cash amounting to nearly £200,000, especially considering that the trust employs 5 staff, even after restructuring, running at £131,433 per year.

    (c) The subsidiary company records no sales whatsoever in the year to March 2015, yet managed to spend £2,496 in overheads.

    (d) Only £1500 was spent on gardening, £2200 on educational activities, but a whopping £35,000 was spent on professional fees.

    I was going to provide a link to the annual report and accounts here, but, although it appeared on their website at 13h12 today, it has since been removed as at 14h58. A hard copy is available, in person, from Mr Timms at Oxenturn Road, Wye, Kent.

    There is also a rather worrying exemption statement by the auditors. They were unable to (a) confirm that the annual statement by the trustees is consistent with the financial accounts, (b) confirm that adequate accounting records have been kept, and (c) specifically state that the auditors have not received all the information and explanations required to comply with the Charities Act 2011.

      1. Brychan

        It was a change in the auditors exemption statement. They are no longer ‘unable to confirm’ as above. The document now reads ‘nothing to report’. Perhaps they got some info at the last minute.

    1. Brychan

      I notice a donation from the ‘Ashley Foundation’, which is the charity wing of the Laura Ashley empire, for a ‘sewing group’ established at the castle. I suppose that just about sums up what situation Wales is in. Sack a few hundred workers in the Rhondda doing real work and in return bung a few quid to the a small group out west to string up a few medieval costumes for natives to prance about in to entertain tourists fresh in from blighty. No doubt Lady Tucker will be rolled out as the native tribal elder, only unlike the Masai Mara who had beads and paint, she’ll get a locally woven feathered hat and an assortment of shiny trinkets to cow tow to Charles and Camilla.

      1. Brychan

        Laura Ashley was at Carno (not Rhondda, which was Burberry.) Maybe the Burberry foundation might sponsor next years town jester outfit.

  9. Usually you can skip the first couple of pages of annual reports like this because they are taken up with standard formulaic verbiage, but not with this one.

    Readers are early on given an account of some of the trustees who resigned last year, and it goes to the trouble of giving a reason for each departure apart from that of Jean Jones – presumably to quash any suggestions that they just couldn’t get on with Lady Tucker and friends.

    When we get to Glen Johnson, we read:

    “Glen Johnson, who has supported the restoration of Cardigan Castle for 30 years, was elected as a trustee at the 2014 AGM and has played vital roles in preparing the Cardigan Castle Guide, training tour guides and bringing to life the turbulent history of the site. Although he felt forced to resign with effect from 9 September 2015 because ill-informed and often personal comment on social media was impacting on his wife and children, he will continue his strong support for the castle and the trust as a volunteer.”

    As we know, this claim does not stand up to scrutiny. The “History Man” first announced his resignation before the controversies surrounding the castle really got going.

    Beginning with an obvious falsehood does not bode well for the rest of the report.

    1. Brychan

      You will notice that the report also states that a visit requested by the Gorsedd planned for May 2015 was declined due to the facility not being open in time. It also states, in a diferent section of the report, that the facility actually had an official opening in April 2015 at which Lady Tucker was entertained by Carwyn Jones, the First Minister. Snub or shambles?

  10. Anon

    Interesting annual report, somewhat defensive in tone, addressing indirectly, many of the items covered in this blog, such as the advanced date of the AGM.

    The Trust and everyone associated with it, have worked very hard to achieve this result in attracting funding from various sources. This cannot have been an easy task given the economic situation of recent years.

    The only way to judge whether the Cardigan Castle project has been a success is 5 or 10 years from now. All the financial figures shown here will be end-runs of expenditures from the previous few years of building costs. The real routine of income and outgoings will only be seen once the project has settled down. I think that detailed questioning of these matters at this stage will only produce an even more defensive response. Of course, open answers to such items may be the best solution, but can be hard to deploy in the difficult first year of an enterprise.

    Large sums of money coming this way have always attracted ‘robber barons’ at the side of the road to take their share of the ‘danegeld’. Look at the media and branding specialists from Cardiff, hard at work answering the questions raised locally. It looks as if they had a big hand in moulding this report.

    Any project will have good and bad decisions to work through, choices that maybe in retrospect, they would not have gone with. The wording of the report implies that Trustees take credit where the right decision is made, while staff take the blame if it is the wrong one.

    From the report:
     The telephone/internet system decision was made by staff without reference to trustees
     9Bach/Bellowhead concert decision made by staff without reference to trustees

    This is a curious form of words to use, given that three of the trustees had resigned so as to become paid members of staff. Did they lose any means of communicating with their old colleagues? Or did they think that in their new positions they had the same authority as before? The implication the author of this report gives is that there is a discontinuity between trustees and staff.

    Details of the staff are also curiously absent from the report. Are they all of less value such as cleaners who might not be there in a few months? Or is it because many who are in the head count of staff are actually employed by other service provider companies in the area?

    The decision to bring the AGM forward by two months to elect additional trustees and be quorate to make decisions is odd. What decisions are they expecting to make in the next two months? Advancing the date of the AGM must have caused strains in obtaining reporting information, especially over a very busy first summer, against a background of everything bedding in. The report has far more information than ever presented before and partly answering questions in ‘social media’.

    Why advance it? More likely in a real world situation, it would be delayed or reduced to the absolute minimum. Is this a ploy of some kind?

    1. What are you suggesting here “Details of the staff are also curiously absent from the report. Are they all of less value such as cleaners who might not be there in a few months? Or is it because many who are in the head count of staff are actually employed by other service provider companies in the area?’?

      1. Anon

        I don’t know if the staffing review of 2014 has ever been made public, but many of the irritants in the smooth running of the first year of operations in the Castle seem to run directly from the contents and the way this review was implemented.

        The annual report says 25 local residents have been employed since the castle opened, which is deemed to be a good thing as the business plan said 19.5 FTE. When the Trust first had employees, its’ website gave details of them, along with the trustees. Obviously, some people would rather not have their identities revealed and that’s fine; there will be cleaners and ground staff along with the more headline managers.

        The report here gives no more mention of the staff except three were trustees who became staff and one who left by mutual agreement. There is no breakdown of staff roles or numbers, similar to this, in the notes to the financial statements in the year ended 31 March 2015:
        The average number of staff employed by the charity during the year was as follows:
        Management 1
        Operational 3
        Finance 1

        In order to go from 5 to 25 employees, a reasonable level of staff management skills should be expected. I suspect a large portion of the 25 are short term contracts for specific tasks.

        Not much information can be gleaned anywhere about these staff positions, were they advertised in the local Jobcentre? Two little snippets of information were possible to see via the Trust website over the summer. The first was a need for staff to work in the restaurant. Applications to a catering service agency based in Tresaith who run services in a number of tourist locations in west Wales. The second is that accommodation in the Castle is organised by a west wales holiday accommodation agency.
        The cleaning may be done by a cleaning agency, of which there are several in west Wales. I have no information on that.

        There is no problem in using outside agencies to undertake specific tasks. There are many advantages, such as greater skills, a wide range of contacts and probably, cheaper costs. But how do you work out all the job equivalents that these agencies cover? Half a day here, an hour there for the Castle and then back to some other establishment that needs cover.

        When the original business plan was prepared for the Castle, it was before the recession. We knew little of zero hours contracts and the Polish butchers had only just arrived in Llanybydder (that’s not a dig at EU workers).

        1. I understand. You’re saying that most of the jobs the Castle claims to have created may in fact be done by people employed by agencies.

          The fact that contracts went to local companies is, on the one hand, to be commended; but on the other hand, it must raise the possibility that those running these agencies are known to those running the Castle. Which then takes us down the well-worn path of the tendering process. Were these contracts put out to tender? Were they widely advertised?

          Do you have the name of the agency in Tresaith that filled the cafe vacancies? And given how so many of them are in the ‘hospitality’ business there must be a strong possibility that the “west Wales holiday accommodation agency” is also familiar to members of the Gang of Four.

          The problem with using the ‘equivalent’ of a full-time job is that it’s so easy to get ‘confused’, and end up counting part-time jobs as full-time.

          FTE

          1. Anon

            From Facebook:
            Castell Aberteifi – Cardigan Castle added 2 new photos to the album: Cafe 1176.
            6 July ·
            We are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic supervisor to join our team at Cafe 1176, Cardigan Castle. Knowledge and experience of excellent service and customer care is imperative. For further information please email your C.V to davidcoates@finessecatering.com
            Ni’n edrych am goruchwyliwr profiadol i ymuno gyda tim Caffi 1176, Castell Aberteifi. Mae profiad ymarferol a gwybodaeth am wasanaeth a gofal cwsmer arbennig yn angenrheidiol. Am fwy o wybodaeth neu danfonwch eich C.V at davidcoates@finessecatering.com

            follow this link and click on venues.

            For accommodation, go to the Cadwgan website, make a booking for one of the properties and see where it takes you. Also see who else is letting through this agency.

            This is all a bit unfair, there are only a certain number of businesses in this field in west Wales. I’m not sure that any others would feel they have not had a fair crack at the whip in getting work out of the enterprise. Many of the contracts here would be too low to be registered under a procurement policy. However, there never appears to have been an open process to obtain sub-contractors. Llanelli House held a Jobs Fair for prospective contractors after it won it’s initial Heritage Lottery award.

    2. Dai Dom Da

      Anon makes some valid points. The report does try to address some of the criticism, by which I mean it seeks to defend or excuse the trustees. As with their attempt to spin the resignation of Glen Johnson, a lot of it does not really stand up to scrutiny. The concert fiasco is the most obvious case.

      The Bellowhead bash was advertised everywhere as a “Grand Opening Concert”, and we are being told that this was a mistake made without the trustees’ involvement. Yet the castle employs a PR firm, and they would no doubt have worked closely on promoting the event with Sue Lewis.

      As for the concert held following the visit by Carwyn Jones, that really does seem to have been an afterthought because promotion of that event, now we are told the “real grand opening” was not advertised or promoted until well after tickets for Bellowhead had gone on sale, and the Bellowhead concert took place a month after the Noson Beirdd a Chantorion. Incidentally, most of the work behind the Welsh concert was carried out by Cris Tomos after his return to work, and as we know, the trustees sacked him immediately afterwards.

    1. Colin

      Well word is spreading, I reckon the wonderful Mr Parry’s article and advertisement of this blog awakened more dragons than anticipated. Talking of the said specimen, I wonder if he will be accusing the BBC of being racist for only publishing that article in Cymraeg

  11. Iestyn

    Two thoughts from this article and the recent BBC coverage on Radio Cymru.

    One is the “heritage assets” on the balance sheet. Basically, that’s £7+ million of fresh air. The “asset” as far as I can tell is just the money they’ve spent on restoration. The notes say that because it’s impossible to value the asset (ie the Castle) by any conventional means, they will just value it at the money spent on restoration. I can understand that, and in the “smoke and mirrors” world of accountancy, I’m sure it’s an above board practice.

    But, if you are saying that the value of the castle is £7 milion because that’s what you’ve spent on it, then surely you need to spend £7 million on it. In other words, the increase in value of the castle should be cancelled out by the money spent on restoration.

    Yet, the “Heritage Assets” of the trust have increased by £2 025 025 yet according to their Resources Expended, they only spent £398 636 on Castle renovation. This increase in value appears magival to me – the trustees must be doing an amazing job…

    Although, according to the balance sheet, there has been £2 084 912 of work done. If this was done at a cost of £398 636, then I would like to meet their builders!

    Even more odd to me is the incoming grants this year were £3 414 236. Yet only £398 636 was spent on renovation. Last year, there were grants of £4 604 398, for an expenditure on castle renovation of £294 845. The rest of the grants are sitting in bank accounts.

    The other point is that, on the BBC, there was a trustee (I think) who basically said that if people wanted to ensure that the work was done well, and that the project went along as they wanted it to, then they should join the trust. It was a simple enough statement, more or less that these complainers were just that. People who weren;t willing to put themselves out by joining, but just content to sit on the sidelines and snipe. Yet, how would we join, if one has to pass a Spanish inquisition style court room, something only otherwise seen in the Labour party before the election of a leader that is at odds with the cozy Westminster consensus? (It was Friday’s Post Cyntaf, I think, in case anyone wants to hear it again)

    1. Anon

      I think much more information is needed to understand the accounts than is presented here. I’m not even sure which of the the two trusts are described.

      This is more like the abbreviated accounts shown in the beta version of the Companies House website. Huge amounts of data which could be useful to competitors, but so cut down as to be useless, except in showing that activity is taking place.

  12. Anon

    On 17 August, Joff Timms announced the AGM for the 10th of September.
    On 18 August, the BBC announced the resignation of Glen Johnson.
    In the annual report, the reason for bringing the AGM forward from late November was the resignation of Glen, leading to the need to elect additional trustees.
    Joff must be a very quick and efficient organiser to achieve this, even with some inside knowledge!

    1. One possibility must be that the Gang of Five thought it best – given the recent adverse publicity – to bring forward the AGM lest any more bad news be broadcast. Providing the pretext was the ever-obliging Glen Johnson, doing his Captain Oates act.

  13. Dai Dom Da

    The castle’s PR merchants are becoming a bit more active with a new branded column appearing in last week’s Carmarthen Journal, headlined “Castle is a hive of activity”. Everything is wonderful, of course, but there is some very careful juggling of words.

    “The accommodation came on-line in mid August”, we are told, “and was fully booked for the summer”. By my reckoning, that means it was fully booked for roughly two weeks.

    The accommodation comprises a wing of the main house which is said to be “earning its keep” – whatever that means – while the one bed cottage behind it is fully booked until November – i.e for the next 2 months. As we know, lettings are being handled by an agent, which will typically pocket 20%+ of the takings.

    As for the weddings, the castle is looking forward to its first bookings next year – a year after the place was opened and the hugely expensive marquee went up.

    The column is full of praise for its (unpaid) volunteers, and is seeking more of them, including gardeners. The castle’s gardens comprise a huge swathe of lawn and a kitchen garden, and it employs a full-time gardener and a full-time caretaker who should, you’d have thought, be capable of managing that little lot without any help.

    And finally, there are reports that someone asked at last week’s snap AGM why the castle’s rankings on Tripadvisor were so bad. The members were told that the trustees did not monitor that particular website, which seems odd given that someone from the castle responds to every single comment with a piece which invariably starts “Thank you for your valuable feedback”.

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