Plaid Cymru, where to now?

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

BOBBY MUGABE LIVES!

Plaid Cymru held its annual conference last Friday and Saturday in the Grand Theatre in Swansea. Very few of those attending would have been familiar with the venue, or even the city.

For Plaid Cymru is invisible in Swansea; not a single councillor, moribund branches, and little or no interest from the Jack-in-the-street. This can be explained by a perception among my ain folk that Plaid Cymru is a party for rural Welsh speakers, leftie extremists and the Cardiff middle class.

That said, YesCymru has a healthy presence in the city, but this is one of the branches mercifully free of Plaid Cymru control. Which probably explains why it flourishes.

But back to the conference, where there was an election for the position of chair, between incumbent Alun Ffred Jones and Dr Dewi Evans. Alun Ffred represented the party establishment while Dr Evans was the outsider, promising to readmit Neil McEvoy AM to the party.

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Alun Ffred won quite handsomely in the end, by 400 votes to 135, which was only to be expected, all things considered. For around 8,500 members were unable to vote.

By which I mean that (and despite their unfamiliarity with Swansea) the venue favoured the Leannistas. This vociferous claque augmented by the party hierarchy plus the lobbyists and third sector meme sahibs found in the Bay Bubble. For the great majority of these live in the south.

In addition, everybody and his uncle who might support Alun Ffred was dragged to the Grand. For example, I’m told that the family of Mr Bethan Sayed was well represented.

‘But, surely’, you interject (almost plaintively), ‘in order to properly gauge the wishes of the members postal votes were allowed?’ Yes, you’d think so . . . but no, for this is Plaid Cymru. In an existential interpretation of the democratic process, if you weren’t there then you didn’t exist.

There is no chance of a Plaid government in 2021, or any other time. Click to enlarge

And even if you were there, there was no guarantee you’d be allowed to vote, certainly not if there was any suspicion you might vote for Dr Evans. I’ve been told of one group from Wrecsam that had reluctantly renewed their memberships, gone down to Swansea – only to be told they had no votes.

It seems there was an arbitrary cut-off point in September for joining the party or renewing memberships, one that few were informed about.

And talking of keeping things within certain circles, Dr Evans was denied access to the membership lists, so he was unable to reach all the members. While some establishment branches refused to let him address their members!

Comment to Nation.Cymru, Saturday evening. Click to enlarge

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. The shade of Bobby Mugabe was playing the Grand on Saturday.

“CARIN’, WE ARE, INNIT”

Apart from the election, what else happened? Well, in a nutshell, Plaid Cymru reminded us that it has lost interest in the great majority of us, the leadership preferring to play gesture politics while riding unicorns.

What do I mean?

For a start, the big thing now is Brexit, or rather, no Brexit . . . or is it no deal Brexit? No, wait! it’s avoiding no deal Brexit. The question is, how.

I quote Cemlyn Davies, BBC Wales political correspondent:

“A few weeks ago senior Plaid Cymru figures were pushing the line that the party would head into a general election with a clear commitment to revoke Article 50 and stop Brexit.

Since then they’ve rowed back slightly: the party’s official position now – backed by conference delegates – is that it favours a second referendum, unless the prospect of a no-deal Brexit remains.

Faced with the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal Plaid would revert to revoke.

In reality, it is hard to see how the prospect of a no-deal Brexit could be taken off the table completely ahead of any general election, and a senior Plaid figure told me it is inevitable therefore the party’s manifesto commitment will be to stop Brexit in its tracks.

How that plays out in the leave-voting areas the party’s targeting for the next assembly elections remains to be seen.”

Got it?

Plaid Cymru is of course in some electoral arrangement with the Liberal Democrats, led by Jo Swinson. The woman who has urged Scots to vote Tory to halt the SNP, and who has said that in the event of a second referendum giving another Leave vote she would refuse to accept it.

There are the other issues, such as her being funded by a fracking company and her hubby receiving EU money. Then there’s her record of voting with the Tories, a party with which Plaid Cymru sees itself in a permanent state of war.

From, ‘They Work For You’. Click to enlarge

How can a socialist party like Plaid Cymru possibly do deals with a party led by this woman? Clearly Brexit clouds the judgement and brings on a severe bout of myopia.

Then, as if to reassert its socialist credentials, Plaid reiterated it’s commitment to giving £35 a week for every child in every low income family in Wales. Which sounds fine, until you realise that there will be no such legislation in England, which will mean that the kind of women who have seven or eight semi-feral children by half a dozen different fathers will view this as an incentive to move to Wales.

Worse, agencies in England, in daily contact with our ‘Welsh’ third sector and social housing bodies, will ensure there is a steady supply of such people.

The developed world has a problem with its ageing population. This problem is exacerbated in Wales by people from England retiring to Wales. And yet, while the problem is universally acknowledged, here in Wales our self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ sees an ageing population as an asset, something be proud of.

Part of a response I received to a FoI to the ‘Welsh Government’. Click to enlarge.

Wales is more attractive to England’s elderly because here they can have £50,000 under the mattress before care home charges kick in, whereas in England – a richer country! – the figure is a measly £23,250.

On this issue Plaid Cymru agrees with ‘Welsh’ Labour (it usually does) and wants to go further, by introducing legislation that will make Wales even more attractive to elderly English people by abolishing care home charges altogether!

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Which means that Plaid Cymru is going for a double-whammy of further Anglicising Wales while simultaneously making us poorer. Some national party!

I say ‘poorer’ because of course Plaid Cymru has no economic strategy, no ideas on how to build a healthy Welsh economy to provide well-paid jobs for our people. A socialist party like Plaid Cymru prefers not to think about ugly things like making money, encouraging economic growth, etc.

So how does Plaid Cymru expect to pay for this generosity, this ‘Caring Wales’?

THE ‘KEPT WOMAN’ SYSTEM OF DEVOLUTION

Let’s get something straight – the upper echelons of Plaid Cymru do not want independence. That the leadership occasionally mentions independence should not be taken seriously, it’s only done to dupe the rank and file.

All this stratum wants is a Wales that creates institutions in which a colonial elite of politicians, professionals and administrators can prosper. We are almost there; with a few more powers devolved to the Assembly, such as justice and policing, this colonial elite might be satisfied.

Let me explain what I mean by a colonial elite.

A ‘kept woman’ is maintained for his pleasure by a wealthy man. She has a place of her own, enjoys the good things of life, is allowed her opinions and foibles . . . but must never forget who pays the bills.

Over the past twenty years we have seen a ‘kept woman’ class emerge in Cardiff Bay. (And not just women of course.) And just like a kept woman this class is expected to ‘repay’ the one picking up the tab.

In Wales, this takes the form of legislation and ‘strategies’ that are usually of more benefit to England. Such as promoting a crass form of tourism that is destroying Wales, but keeps English tourists’ money in the UK. Or ‘saving the planet’, which in practice means allowing English investors to cover Wales with wind and solar farms, or forcing Welsh farmers off their land to make way for ‘rewilders’. Then there’s reducing the threshold for care home payments to less than half that of England to encourage English retirees. Now Plaid Cymru wants to do away with care home fees entirely, while also encouraging an influx of undesirables.

In return, and just like a kept woman, the colonial elite is allowed to indulge its whims and fancies, but must avoid issues that might annoy the London pay-masters.

Made obvious by the truth of contemporary Wales. Our post-industrial areas are in managed decline, our rural areas are being colonised, Clwyd disappears into north west England . . . but while Wales dies Leannista-controlled Plaid Cymru is only concerned with niche issues and minorities.

Regional AM visits Swansea but it’s woke issues and third sector concerns. No interest whatsoever in the people born in the city. Click to enlarge

All because we live under a colonial system from which the only native beneficiaries are the colonial elite and its hangers-on. That’s how it must be.

Made easier by having a civil service operating in Wales that answers to London, and two political parties (Labour and Plaid Cymru) that together know less about economics than I do about the Large Hadron Collider. (And I know sod all.)

Which is why what passes for ‘the Welsh economy’ is increasingly controlled by major English companies, cross-border utilities and others, or else we have spivs arriving with a sackful of promises and pockets stuffed with grant application forms.

SOMETIME, MAYBE, NEVER

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price tells us there will be a referendum on independence before 2030. Mmm. Five years from now Scotland could be independent and Ireland reunified.

Setting a target of 2030 makes it look as if Plaid Cymru isn’t exactly enthusiastic about independence. (Which, as I’ve explained, it isn’t.) And then there’s Brexit.

Image courtesy of BBC Wales News. Click to enlarge

If the UK crashes out of the EU, and if this results in serious shortages of medicines, foodstuffs and other essentials leading to civil disorder, to troops on the streets holding back hungry people at bayonet point, are we seriously expected to wait for a referendum some time ‘before 2030’?

Looking at it from the other side; if Plaid Cymru and other Remainers get their way, and we stay in the EU, there will still be civil unrest, probably far right terrorism and maybe a real coup. So do we accept it all, patiently waiting for a referendum some time ‘before 2030’?

There are troubles ahead whether the UK stays in the EU or not.

So does Plaid Cymru have a contingency plan for a chaotic post-Brexit/no Brexit period and its possible constitutional consequences? At the very least, why not insist that a referendum on Welsh independence be triggered by a Scottish Yes vote?

In fact, does Plaid Cymru have any plan beyond staying in the EU (and the UK) and then having a referendum some time ‘before 2030’?

I’m reminded of the wisdom imparted by great-aunt Fastidia before she went on the lam. She clutched me to her bosom (I can still smell those lavender moth-balls!) and said, ‘Always remember, lovely boy, when the shit hits the fan it’s time to leave the room’.

The time to leave the room is fast approaching. But all Plaid Cymru can offer Wales is the delusion that if we stay in the EU it’ll be daisy-chains and puppy dogs all the way to a nice referendum . . . some time ‘before 2030’.

Wales deserves better than a system of ‘kept woman’ devolution serving only a colonial elite. We deserve a more open, more honest, and more democratic political party, concerned solely with Wales, its people and their problems.

A party that is ready to seize the opportunities that Brexit will present.

♦ end ♦

 

Wales, with us but strangers

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

Hello, boys and girls, it’s Uncle Jac here again, with another tale from colonial Wales; another story of how we Welsh are ripped off. It’s been happening for centuries; but nowadays everybody’s at it, while we have no one to defend us, and so many collaborators.

That’s a hint that there’ll be a bit of history thrown in. And some geography!

Incidentally, you may have heard that some naughty boys and girls have been calling Uncle Jac nasty names. Fortunately Uncle Jac only worries about the opinions of those he respects, and as time passes and people die, that illustrious band grows ever smaller.

This week’s tale takes us into the wild and beautiful country around Rhandirmwyn, north of Llanymddyfri, once the haunt of Twm Siôn Cati (1530 – 1607). In fact what is claimed to be Twm’s cave – where he hid from the Sheriff of Carmarthen’s men – is  nearby. So is Ystrad-ffin, once home to Thomas Rhys Williams, whose widow, Joan, Twm married.

Not only did Joan have the farm and the land around but she also had her own money, being the daughter of Sir John Price of Brecon, the son of Rhys ap Gwilym ap Llywelyn ap Rhys Llwyd ab Adam, descended from Dafydd Gam, who betrayed Glyndŵr and died on the English side at Agincourt.

In fact, Ystrad-ffin, or Ystradffin, is central to our story. So let’s crack on.

BANDIT COUNTRY

This tale came to me from a good source who had been walking in the area and saw things that caused him concern. After he had tipped me off I did some more digging and what I’ve uncovered is quite perplexing, even disturbing.

What my source saw was a Czech firm installing a hydro scheme for an English company on the Tywi, just downstream from the Llyn Brianne reservoir. The Tywi of course runs on to Carmarthen and the sea.

First, let’s get the lie of the land, courtesy of Google Earth.

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We can see that the river runs down from the dam, skirts Rhuddallt, and it’s somewhere here that the hydro scheme is located, above the weir and the fish trap, north west of Ystradffin farm.

This story seems to start in August 2013, explained here by Natural Resources Wales. You’ll see that the original application was rejected. The project seems to have finally been given the all-clear in late June 2017.

The firm behind the project is H2O Power Towy (sic) Ltd, which until last November was known as Hydro Electric Development Ltd. This company is based in Hertfordshire. It’s directors are Ewan William Campbell-Lendrum, who sounds like a Highland laird, and a Czech citizen named Petr Noscak, which explains why the project is being built by a company from his homeland.

(Though does it make economic sense to bring workers and machinery half way across Europe?)

Given the name change, The Llyn Brianne contract might be the only one the company has. The latest accounts (or in this case, balance sheet), up to 31 December 2018, tell us that H2O Power Towy Ltd has a Capital and Reserves figure of -£106,258.

The latest statement of share capital, dated 20 May 2016, shows that there are two shareholders. Wendy Campbell-Lendrum owns 20 shares and the other 80 are held by Renfin Ltd, a company with an office in Prague.

THE RUSSIAN CONNECTION?

Renfin appears in the Offshore Leaks Database, after featuring in the famous Paradise Papers. Renfin is also quoted on the Bermuda stock exchange, from where I was able to access the 2017 Financial Statements (y/e 31 Dec 2017).

And who prepared this statement? Why, it was Ernst & Young LLC . . . of Moscow.

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Renfin may be a Russian company, with a Czech window on the West, from where money is passed through various offshore banking locations, and from there on to ‘investments’ around the world. For if we look at page one of the E & W statement we see addresses in the British Virgin Islands, Caymans, Malta, Cyprus, Bermuda, and of course, Russia.

There is also a Renfin Hydro Ltd, formed last November, which provides another Czech link in the form of sole director, Jan Tosnar. Tosnar seems to have started a number of hydro companies last November. Remember, it was also last November that Hydro Electric Development Ltd morphed into H2O Power Towy Ltd. It’s reasonable to assume these events are connected.

The Czech mates (geddit?) team up in another company I unearthed, this one called Afon Las Hydro Ltd. This company began life at The Studio, Trevissome Park, Truro TR4 8UN, when it was called Mi-Grid Developments Ltd.

In February 2015 Mi-Grid moved to, c/o North Wales Hydro Power, Limited Rural Enterprise Centre, Stafford Drive, Battlefield Enterprise Park, Shrewsbury SY1 3FE. The name was changed in April. With the Shrewsbury address only used for a few months before Afon Las began using the H2O Power Towy address in Hertfordshire.

In the panel below, taken from the latest accounts, note the reference to Renfin, which may be a Russian company, which appears to have loaned money to Afon Las, or may be using Afon Las for some other purpose. Also note ‘Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd’!

For we now have Afon Las Hydro Ltd and Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd (formerly Renfin Ltd). And let’s not forget Renfin Hydro Ltd. With Jan Tosnar as director of all three. Rather confusing, isn’t it? Maybe that’s the whole point.

But where is Afon Las?

Well, there’s an Afon Las that runs into the Mawddach not far from Llanfachreth. But the hydro scheme there is the work of a local farming family, and there is no connection with Afon Las Hydro Ltd or Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd.

The Afon Las we need is near Llanberis. Where we find both Afon Las Hydro Ltd and Czech company Hydropol Project and Management. Hydropol is the company working at Ystradffin, and it has another Welsh project on Afon Claerwen, near Rhayader.

Enough. Afon Las was a bit of a digression, but still interesting. Now let’s head south, back to Twm Siôn Cati country.

FEEDING FRENZY

There are still other companies involved but it’s difficult to understand where they fit.

For example, in this report from the South Wales Guardian of August 2015 we read ” . . . the project has now been taken over by Hydro Electric Power Ltd(?) with support from Ellergreen Hydro Ltd”. So who are Ellergreen Hydro? And what ‘support’ were they giving?

Ellergreen Hydro is based in the English Lake District and seems to be part of a group of companies bearing the name. These are run – in various guises and through assorted holding companies – by the Cropper family, headed by Sir James Anthony Cropper.

Then there’s Environment Systems Ltd (ES), based in Aberystwyth, with a website in English and Spanish. ES seems to be a company of environmental consultants, though its website hasn’t been updated for a while with regard to the Tywi hydro project.

Image courtesy of Environment Systems Ltd.. Click to enlarge.

The directors of Environment Systems Ltd are Graeme Summers and Steven John Keyworth. As is the way in such matters, both are directors of other companies. In this case, the companies are: Everywhichway Ltd, Ecology Matters LtdEcology Matters (Wales) Ltd and, finally, Ursula Agriculture Ltd,

What I suggest we see here is ‘environmentalist consultants’ who’ve flooded in since it became clear that Wales was to be England’s greenwash colony, covered in subsidy-generating wheezes. We can expect a tsunami in future thanks to England’s management team in Corruption Bay setting out its priorities in the recent National Development Framework.

UPDATE: Having been contacted by Steven Keyworth of Environment Systems Ltd I feel confident in stating that he and his business partner, Graeme Summers, have not received loot from exotic locales. Their role was peripheral.

But now events up in rugged north Carmarthenshire take another twist.

THE BIG HOUSE?

I’ve mentioned Ystradffin, the substantial farmhouse and outbuildings close to the hydro scheme below Llyn Brianne, so naturally, I wanted to find out who owns the place.

According to the title documents lodged with the Land Registry, Ystradffin was bought in November 2016 by Edward Augustus Bishop, of Newbury, Berkshire, for £2,210,000 with a loan from Barclays Security Trustee Ltd. That’s a lot of moolah for poor land in a remote area. I assume there’s a considerable acreage involved, but I was unable to check because there was no plan available with the Land Registry.

UPDATE: Someone, perhaps the estate agents, decided to call the property ‘Towy Valley Farm’. More information, including a map is available here. This information makes it clear that the hydro project belongs to Ystradffin.

Yet it all seems kosher enough . . . except that Barclays Security Trustee Ltd, while apparently part of Barclays Bank, is a relatively new company, Incorporated with Companies House 19 June 2017. So how could could it have provided the money for the purchase of Ystradffin in 2016? Obviously the loan must have come after the purchase. Maybe buying the property from Bishop, or at least, reimbursing him.

For now it gets really interesting.

Go back to the title document and scroll down ’til you reach the panel shown below, on the last page.

Click to enlarge

First, you can see (9) that the property is now leased to The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Now this is an England-only department, for its role here is devolved to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

The next paragraph (10) is even more interesting. For now we read that the Beneficiaries of this lease agreement are the SoS just mentioned, plus the Ministry of Justice Estates Directorate. As the name suggests, the MoJ estate is made up of prisons and the like. (‘Zone 4A’ means zone A on the fourth floor of 102 Petty France.)

Prisons are of course not devolved.

So why the hell would the Ministry of Justice Estates Department have an interest in a Welsh farm way off the beaten track, miles from a main road? They surely can’t be thinking of putting a prison there; so is some other kind of institution planned. Maybe a gulag, for malcontents and dissidents!

If so, I demand a well-appointed, south-facing cell with WiFi, 72″ screen TV (subscriptions for all sports channels). And I don’t wish to be woken before 10:30. The coffee had better be good, and don’t skimp on the Malbec!

CONCLUSION

I can hardly believe what I’ve just written. But something strange is going on in Twm’s old stomping ground. First we have a hydro scheme being built by a Czech company that may be using Russian money; and then, not far away, we have the government department responsible for prisons taking an interest in a very remote farmhouse.

And how many companies need to be involved in small hydro schemes – is everybody entitled to a slice of Wales?

The truth is, boys and girls, that we Welsh own less of our land today than at any time in our history. We have less control over our lives than at any time in the past. All we have is a bunch of arseholes and their hangers-on down Corruption Bay putting a gloss on a colonial system.

(Did I say, ‘arseholes’. Where would I have picked up such a naughty word? I am sorry, boys and girls. Forget you heard it.)

While I’ve been writing this I’ve been wondering if the Ministry of Justice Estates Directorate had the courtesy to inform Comrade Drakeford and the bruvvers that they had taken an interest in a remote Welsh farm.

If they did, what was the response from the ‘Welsh Government’? And if they weren’t informed, do Drakeford and his gang have the balls to now ask what the fuck is going on at Ystradffin?

♦ end ♦

UPDATE: If we look again at the final paragraph of the Ystradffin title document, and the mention of The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, there, in brackets, we see, ‘ESMCP Programme Director’. So what is ESMCP?

The short answer is that it stands for Emergency Services Mobile Communication Programme, a new system being rolled out across the UK, for police and other emergency services to have faster and more secure communications. Ystradffin might seem an odd location for such an installation, but not if there is to be a prison or detention centre there.

Someone also sent me a link to planning consent granted in January last year for a two-storey, three-bed house for an agricultural worker at Ystradffin. The application apparently came from the owner, Mr Bishop, with the agent named as the legal firm Carter Jonas. The architects who drew up the plan are also based in Shropshire.

Thanks to the ‘Welsh Government’s decision to save the planet and encourage just about anything ‘Green’ envirospivs from all over Europe are flocking to Wales.

Yet there’s little benefit to Wales and the Welsh.

 

 

Misogyny, bullying? Depends who’s doing it

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

A WEEKEND TO REMEMBER, FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS

For those who don’t know Dr Dilys Davies, she’s a consultant clinical psychologist. This pdf document lists her academic attainments together with some publications. They tell us that on the purely academic level Dr Davies’ record is impressive, but Dilys is a lifelong patriot and supporter of independence.

And she puts her money where her heart is, investing in businesses so that they remain under local control, while also contributing to many good causes.

An example would be Dilys buying Canolfan Tresaith so that kids – many from deprived Valleys’ communities – could continue to enjoy holidays in Ceredigion. This has grown and is now used by other organisations, such as Say Something in Welsh. The Canolfan breaks even.

Most recently, in August, Dr Davies bought the land around the Cofiwch Dryweryn memorial so that it might be safeguarded for the nation.

Dr Davies is also a founder-member of Yes Cymru and a member of the committee.

The famous Cofiwch Dryweryn walls at Llanrhystud. Click to enlarge. Copyright Royston Jones.

So why did Dilys Davies close her Twitter account on Monday following abuse directed at her over the weekend by persons, most of whom project themselves as being totally opposed to misogyny, bullying and a raft of other crimes normally committed by bastards like me?

The answer to that question is that Dilys fell foul of a group of transextremists that I have mentioned on this blog before. She holds the view – like the vast majority of people – that a person in possession of male genitalia is a man. The extremists disagree, violently and vitriolically, arguing that if 20 stone prop Dai Psycho wants to call himself Delyth and shower with the ladies then he must be allowed to do so.

For those I’m talking about, the ladies’ changing room is just as much Dai’s ‘safe space’ as it of genuine women.

It boils down to ‘self-identification’. A form of deception with which every con man, fraudster and politician reading this post will be familiar. It means you ‘are’ whatever you want to be. Which is fine up to a point: if some bloke wants to dress like a woman, then that don’t bother me none; but if he thinks he can play House with my grand-daughters then he’s very much mistaken.

For refusing to accept that Dai in a dress is a woman Dr Davies was branded a transphobe. For these transextremists are zealots, their minds closed to other views. You either agree with them 100% or you’re completely wrong.

It’s also noticeable that they hunt as a pack on social media – once one scents prey the others give voice. As one source put it to me, the way Dilys Davies was treated reminded him of a wounded lioness being attacked by hyenas. Though, personally, I think that’s being unfair on hyenas.

Many of those I’m referring to are of ‘non-binary’ sexual identification themselves, which goes some way to explaining their excitability on this issue. But what gives them strength is that the Dai Psycho lunacy has become an article of faith for some on the left.

Some of the abuse hurled at Dr Davies last weekend was horrendous, and much it was subsequently deleted, but people screen capture shots for me and here we have one of the milder contributions, involving our old friend Aled Gwyn Williams. Russell Elliot is or was in the Labour Party, but seems very comfortable in Plaid Cymru circles. And why not!

Click to enlarge

What a stupid yet revealing thing for Elliott to say. Young Aled – knowing his Twitter account is now closely monitored – doesn’t fall into the trap of agreeing, instead he shows his teeth by bemoaning the fact that Dr Dilys Davies had the money to buy the Tryweryn wall! It’s almost refreshing to read good old-fashioned socialist envy.

And then came the letter . . .

On Monday or Tuesday someone wrote a letter to Siôn Jobbins, chair of YesCymru, asking that Dr Dilys Davies’ position on the YC committee be ‘reviewed’. In other words, that she be removed. The letter was then circulated for signatures. Some of those approached were so angry that they contacted me, which explains why I’m able to produce that letter. (Available here in pdf format.)

Click to enlarge

The letter is a simpering litany of lies from extremists donning the cloak of victimhood. ‘Please, Sir, this nasty woman came on Twitter and refused to agree with us, so we demand that she be vilified, and expelled; her memory expunged from the record of the nation’.

IDENTITY POLITICS

It’s amazing the connections that can be made once you join up the dots. So let’s do it.

I just mentioned Russell Elliott, and he’s a big fan of Llinos Price, because both are in the ‘Hang Neil McEvoy!’ camp. Llinos gets so worked up over McEvoy that she becomes quite irrational at times. It should go without saying that she has links with Deryn Consulting, the poison factory in Corruption Bay so deeply involved in the tragic death of Carl Sargeant.

This Twitter account has been closed down following complaints, which rather confirms John R Vaughan’s view of certain people.

Someone else who closed his Twitter account last weekend after being taken down by the same, slavering pack was Mal Humphreys, better known as ‘Mumph’ the cartoonist. Like Dilys Davies Mal has done a great deal over the years for Wales, fanning the embers of national consciousness with his unique contribution. But that counts for nothing if you don’t agree with the left, the woke and the transextremists.

Dilys Davies tells me that her problems last weekend started with a tweet in which she criticised former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood. This is the tweet referred to in the second paragraph of the letter. What it says is that Leanne Wood has shown little interest in Welsh matters during her time as an AM, or even when party leader. Few in Plaid Cymru, or the wider national movement, would argue with that assessment. It was one of the reasons Leanne Wood was humiliated in last year’s Plaid leadership contest.

Then the onslaught began that resulted in Dilys Davies closing her Twitter account.

Those involved in the online attack were the usual suspects, among them of course Aled Gwyn Williams. Aled’s a big fan of mine. Here’s a wee collage.

Click to enlarge

At the centre we see the Twitter account showing Teifi and his faithful human, then a very recent tweet from Aled’s alter ego, Doreen Ogmore-Pritchard. Does this make Aled a woman?

Working clockwise from top left, we have a tweet put out by him on July 13. Note that to avoid using the dread word ‘nationalists’ Aled comes up with the absurd term ‘self-determinationists’. This tweet was my introduction to the boy, I’d never heard of him before this and I’m still not sure what prompted his outburst. But clearly, if Aled is to be believed, I am one bad bugger; and elsewhere he labelled me a misogynist.

Two weeks later on July 26 Aled is telling some poor woman, ‘Oh fuck off you hateful cow’. But not to worry, for at the Caernarfon independence rally the very next day, Helen Mary Jones, the Plaid Cymru AM for Mid and West Wales – and supposedly a confirmed feminist – gave him her seal of approval!

I include the bottom two images because if I had suggested arson and used a pack of matches to make my point, or joked about monitoring English people, then I would have been attacked by all the colours of the political rainbow.

I suppose what I’m saying here is that when dealing with the woke, and the left, and the transextremists, you quickly learn that they’re hypocrites. For misogyny, bullying, insults of every kind, are just fine – as long as they are dishing it out. They preach ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’ – then demand that individuals be expelled, groups banned, certain views censored.

This hypocrisy was brought home to me earlier this year when Leanne Wood called me ‘an arsehole’, and the party chair, Marc Phillips (Mr Helen Mary Jones), called me ‘a Neanderthal prick’. Covered here in Leanne Wood, my response.

But of course Aled is not alone. For as I’ve said, they hunt as a pack, visible for miles thanks to the glow of self-righteousness they emit.

Though it seems to have dimmed in recent days. Tweets have been deleted, accounts muted or closed down, people blocked. There is clearly a fear among certain pack members that the attack on Dilys Davies went too far.

Though the attack might not have come completely out of the blue. For there was already in existence a Twitter account using the name ‘Dr Dilys’.

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You’ll see that the account was opened in May 2018, obviously by someone who already had a beef with Dr Davies. If I had to guess, I’d say it was connected with her views on transgender issues and self-identification.

The spelling ‘Cymri’ is odd, especially as the account often tweets in Welsh. (More than one person involved?) The account is now closed, and I’m sure this is also a result of the backlash building against those who bullied Dr Davies.

Here’s a July tweet from the ‘Dr Dilys’ account addressed to Neil McEvoy. Does the language and tone have a familiar ring?

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It’s certainly very nasty. Also very, very personal.

ALL ROADS LEAD TO CORRUPTION BAY

What happened to Dilys Davies bears a striking similarity to attempts by roughly the same group – this time fighting ‘fascism’ – to exclude Ein Gwlad (now Gwlad Gwlad) from All Under One Banner Cymru marches.

From my enquiries, and from information supplied by others, I can say without hesitation, that these bullies are encouraged, if not directed, by certain Plaid Cymru AMs. I’m thinking in particular of two female AMs. Given these AMs’ links to Deryn Consulting it is no great stretch of the imagination to see Deryn’s hand in this, especially when so much links up. Not least the Neil McEvoy connection.

Not only that, but the Dilys Davies saga may have started before last weekend, with an attack on her by Chad Rickard, a SpAd working for Bethan Sayed AM, who is of course a former partner of Neil McEvoy.

A strange question in many ways; not least because when Neil McEvoy stands up for poor women, Rickard’s boss, Bethan Sayed, leads the charge to condemn him.

Note that this tweet was put out just after Dilys Davies bought the ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ site. With its mention of “poor women” it seems to be another example of socialist envy, this time of a successful Welsh professional woman who has money!

For socialists are dead set against people making money . . . unless it’s back-stabbing AMs pulling down £80,000 a year plus expenses.

The letter asking for Dilys Davies’ expulsion from Yes Cymru was addressed to Siôn Jobbins, the chairman. Even though I’ve never met Jobbins I’ve formed a positive opinion of a fairly level-headed guy, who has publicly expressed his misgivings with Plaid Cymru’s leftward drift.

Then someone sent me this screen capture of a Twitter exchange from Thursday. It obviously begins with Siôn Jobbins and ends with Aled, or Teifi, but who is Hiraeth Film?

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Hiraeth Film is Charlotte Williams, who is “in a relationship” with Katie Bataille, a native of Jersey now apparently living in Welshpool. Bataille is a pack member who snarls at me from time to time and joined the attack on Dilys Davies and ‘Mumph’ last weekend.

If Siôn Jobbins is in some kind of business relationship with Hiraeth Film (or merely opening doors), and with this obviously approved of by Maesteg’s one-man bulwark against the advance of darkness, then the letter attacking Dr Dilys Davies might have been penned with some expectation of it being favourably received.

I’d like Siôn Jobbins therefore to clarify his relationship with Hiraeth Film, and with Aled Gwyn Williams.

And does the linkage suggest that Aled has ambitions to become a movie mogul? I can see it now: there I sit, popcorn in hand, while up on the silver screen, rolls – 21st Century Collie Productions . . . 

To be fair, SJ did ask for people to calm down. Saying “everyone’s welcome in @yescymru . . . the problem being this was said just a matter of hours before the transextremists asked for Dr Dilys Davies to be thrown out!

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Ifan Morgan Jones of Nation.Cymru chipped in and seemed to suggest that easy-going liberals like me should stop “over-reacting to fringe POV’s”. And I see his point.

But the problem for both Siôn Jobbins and Ifan Morgan Jones is that they can’t be too critical of these ‘fringe points of view’ without criticising Plaid Cymru. For that’s the root of the problem.

At its Swansea conference on the weekend Plaid Cymru may confront the choice of dissipating its meagre resources fighting a succession of meaningless, Guardian issue, skirmishes or forcing the conclusive confrontation with the British state.

But I doubt it.

The conference will, perhaps fittingly, be held in the Grand Theatre, a venue that has seen so much farce and pantomime over the years.

TIME TO MAN UP

The real issue, for both Yes Cymru and All Under One Banner Cymru, is whether they are organisations – as stated by Siôn Jobbins – open to all those supporting Welsh independence.

In fact, this question is fundamental to their very existence, because if they’re nothing more than vehicles wherein a defeated faction can regroup and reassert itself – a bit like Confederate diehards heading for Mexico after Appomattox – then Yes Cymru and AUOB Cymru undermine their own raison d’être.

For that’s how it looks. We seem to be in a situation in which membership of Yes Cymru, and permission to take part in AUOB Cymru marches, is decided by those who think that Dai Psycho wearing lipstick is a woman.

And it won’t be limited to transgender issues. Once the precedent is set the questions then will be whether one agrees that Donald Trump should be impeached. ‘You don’t? – You’re out!’ Or one’s views on climate change, Brexit, French foreign policy, Bluegrass music, anything. For once the pack smells blood . . .

Either Yes Cymru and AUOB Cymru are genuinely open to all believing in independence for Wales or else the screechers and those who manipulate them are in control.

I say ‘independence movement’ but of course what I’m describing is very new, and arose – ironically enough – in response to Plaid Cymru under Leanne Wood losing interest in Wales and independence to focus on issues far more important.

Leanne Wood off on one, again. Click to enlarge

I’m not a member of Yes Cymru and I’ve never been on an independence march. Partly because I have nothing to prove and partly because it was made clear to me by the same extremists who attacked Dilys Davies last weekend that I would not be welcome, and might even be attacked.

Others, as yet uninvolved, might look on the treatment meted out to Dilys Davies, by attackers who were not even rebuked, and decide that Yes Cymru is not something they want to be associated with.

THE AFTERMATH

I have been in e-mail contact with Dr Dilys Davies in recent days and she has given me clearance to use anything from those communications. Much of it is too harrowing to be put out on a blog, but here goes . . .

This is from the most recent e-mail I received:

“Royston – this is beyond dreadful now. I really don’t think I can come back to Wales even if I wanted to. Feeling very, very low. it’s been a privilege to have been able to contribute to my country and language in whatever way I could. Never wanted thanks. But I never expected to be attacked and bullied and left so low that I can do nothing further.

On another matter – These people think poverty is a virtue to be aspired to. How on earth are they going to build a successful Independent country.

Anyway I’m done. The wall is now for sale.

Your support has meant much more than you will ever know Royston

Dilys “.

I hope you little bastards are satisfied. All of you; you fucking hypocrites, forever whining about bullying and misogyny; always preaching about being inclusive and welcoming.

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You left-woke extremists are a bigger threat to Welsh independence than anything else, internal or external. Firstly, because you don’t really care about independence, only in using the current upsurge in support as a bandwagon on which you can jump, your bedroll full of ishoos more likely to alienate than to attract.

And if it’s not the ishoos that turn people away then it’s you, yourselves, with your shrill intolerance and your certitude. The, ‘I know the truth and you must listen to me’ attitude shared by all fanatics.

We’re unlikely to hear apologies from the extremists (they’re never wrong), but it would be nice to hear Yes Cymru publicly defend Dr Davies. How about it, Siôn?

Independence will be difficult enough to achieve if we are united, and impossible if we are divided. The only way to unite everyone in the pursuit of independence is to put to one side all other issues.

Anyone refusing to stand shoulder to shoulder with people they disagree with is not really interested in independence, only with using the independence movement to promote the issues that are important to them.

♦ end ♦

FOOTNOTE/CLARIFICATION: For me, ‘transphobia’ is hostility to a person who has transitioned, via surgical procedures and other means, from male to female, or female to male. Refusing to accept as a woman a man who has not transitioned cannot be transphobia. The clue lies in the element ‘trans’. Maybe we need a new word.

 

Plaid Cymru – Labour’s little helper, again

The piece you’re about to read originated as a press release today from Neil McEvoy AM (though the title above is mine). I thought it deserved the widest possible audience. For while the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru whine about the Tories avoiding debate and subverting democracy in Westminster, they are doing something very similar in Wales!

Hypocrites!

Labour and Plaid Cymru BLOCK Assembly vote on full release of Carl Sargeant leak inquiry

On 24th September in the Business Committee of the National Assembly for Wales, Labour and Plaid Cymru joined forces to block a vote that could have led to the full release of the inquiry into Carl Sargeant’s death.

Independent AM Neil McEvoy introduced a No Named Day Motion on 17th July 2019 calling for use of Section 37 of the Government of Wales Act to force full publication of the leak inquiry report, including all notes and interviews conducted as part of the inquiry, with redactions to ensure anonymity.

Mr McEvoy submitted the motion after the Welsh Government only revealed a closure minute note from the investigation, which was just one page long and contained almost no information on the investigation.

Speculation has been rife about the information collected as part of the report when it was revealed that certain journalists knew of Mr Sargeant’s sacking from government before it had taken place. Mr Sargeant went on to take his own life just days later.

Under pressure, the former Labour First Minister, Carwyn Jones, established an inquiry to report on whether there had been an unauthorised leak of Mr Sargeant’s sacking.

In a further twist, the then leader of the Conservatives alleged that the source of the leak was the controversial lobbying firm Deryn.

This led to stronger calls for the leak inquiry to be published. But not only did the Welsh Government refuse to publish the inquiry, they took the extraordinary step of initiating legal action to try to prevent the National Assembly for Wales voting to force publication. In the event, the vote took place and Labour had enough votes to prevent publication, since several opposition AMs were missing.

In March 2019, Neil McEvoy submitted a second motion to force publication. Days later the new First Minister, Mark Drakeford, agreed to publish the leak inquiry, after the Coroner’s report into Carl Sargeant’s death was concluded. The Business Committee of the National Assembly then agreed not to allow Mr McEvoy’s motion through to a vote, anticipating that the First Minister would release the inquiry.

In a further explosive release, during the inquest into Mr Sargeant’s death the family’s legal firm, Hudgell Solicitors, revealed phone records showed that:

‘According to phone transcripts obtained in evidence, after learning of Carl’s death, the former First Minister [Carwyn Jones] made two short calls to his wife and father, followed immediately by long phone calls to Ms Owens and Jo Kiernan, a senior adviser at [lobbying firm] Deryn.’

The nature and purpose of the lengthy phone calls to the lobbying firm implicated in the leak is still unknown.

The former First Minister was also accused of lying under oath during the inquest into Mr Sargeant’s death.

Following the Coroner’s report concluding the Welsh Government released a closure minute note of the investigation into the leak, falling well short of delivering the full report it had promised.

Mr McEvoy tried for a third time to have the full report released, again submitting a motion to use Section 37 of the Government of Wales Act. When the motion was first considered at the Assembly’s Business Committee the party whips agreed to return to their groups and consult. After that consultation Plaid Cymru decided to vote with Labour to BLOCK the motion and prevent all AMs being allowed a vote on the Assembly floor.

Plaid’s blocking vote came on the same day as they accused the Prime Minister of trying to shut down democracy in Westminster through prorogation of Parliament. The Presiding Officer later confirmed that Labour and Plaid had blocked the motion, while the Conservatives and Brexit Party had voted to support it.

Independent AM Neil McEvoy said:

‘I really am astonished that Plaid has decided to side with Labour and prevent the Assembly having a democratic vote on releasing the Carl Sargeant leak inquiry.

‘On the same day their MPs in London stated that government should not override the voice of parliamentary democracy, their Chief Whip in Wales was working with the government to stop the Welsh parliament from voting on a matter of major public interest. Why are they proroguing releasing the leak inquiry?

‘As for Labour, they have yet again shown that they have no commitment to democracy or transparency. People will now rightly ask what both parties are trying to keep hidden when we really need answers from this very troubling period in Welsh politics.

‘I’m not going to let this go though. I’ll be sending this motion back to Business Committee every week until they agree to let us have a vote. Plaid and Labour can keep explaining to the Sargeant family why they refuse to let them, and the public, know the full details surrounding his death.

Timeline of events for the leak inquiry:

In response to Mr McEvoy’s motion the First Minister agreed to publish the leak inquiry, after publication of the Coroner’s report. As a result Business Committee does not take Mr McEvoy’s motion through to a vote in the Assembly.

  • 11 July 2019, the Welsh Government an investigation closure minute, barely a page long and with no details of the investigation. It stated no unauthorised leak had been discovered.
  • 11 July 2019, The Tory group in the National Assembly describe the closure report as ‘not worth the paper it’s written on’.
  • 17 July 2019, Neil McEvoy launches third attempt to use Section 37 of the Government of Wales Act to force publication of the full leak inquiry, this time through No Named Day Motion NNDM7127, but also including all notes and interviews conducted as part of the inquiry to be released (with redactions for anonymity).
  • 18 July 2019, Sargeant Family solicitors reveal that after learning of Carl Sargeant’s death the former First Minister made two quick phone calls to his mother and father before immediately engaging in long telephone calls with two senior employees at the controversial lobbying firm Deryn.
  • 17 September 2019, the Business Committee first considers the new motion and agrees for groups to discuss whether or not to support the motion and then return a week later for a decision.
  • 24 September 2019, Labour and Plaid Cymru vote against the motion, meaning the motion will go to the floor of the Senedd for a democratic vote of all AMs. The Tory and Brexit Party groups support the motion. Later that day the Presiding Officer confirms that Labour and Plaid have blocked the vote.

Neil McEvoy AM

♦ end ♦

My next post will be out over the weekend. It will, again, highlight the dangers of identity politics, the ‘woke’ warriors, and the damage a few extremists are doing to the independence movement.

After this I hope to move on to more challenging targets.

 

Leanne Wood, my response

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

INTRODUCTION

As you may be aware, Leanne Wood, the Plaid Cymru AM for Rhondda, and former party leader, has been criticised by the Assembly’s Standards Commissioner, Sir Roderick Evans QC, for calling me an “arsehole” in a tweet back in January.

Here’s the WalesOnline report of the decision, and here it is on BBC Wales. I supplied a statement to WalesOnline/Western Mail some of which appeared online but the print version was all Leanne Wood with me unable to get a word in.

UPDATE 21.09.2019: Arseholegate rumbles on. In this piece in today’s Llais y Sais Ruth Mosalski claims I am “no stranger to courting controversy”. A convoluted way of calling me controversial. But nothing I say, of itself, can be controversial; it becomes controversial when I am attacked by those I’m writing about here. So if they ignored me – as they claim they want to – then there’d be no controversy.

Note that the headline in the online (WalesOnline) version reads: ‘The quandary facing AMs as they’re asked to reprimand Leanne Wood for calling Jac o’the North an arsehole’. But the print version carries the headline: ‘The Quandary facing AMs over Leanne Wood’s Twitter outburst’.

The facts are that following the tragic death of Steffan Lewis, the Plaid Regional AM for South Wales East, I made a comment on Twitter about his successor, Delyth Jewell. You can see it here, together with Leanne Wood’s response and my answer to Leanne Wood.

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Why did I say that? Partly because, according to Ms Jewell’s stated interests, she is concerned with ‘women’s right’, which were already well represented in the Assembly, and ‘international development’, for which the Assembly has no remit.

Further, Ms Jewell had a background in the third sector, and as I put it in my post, Delyth Jewell AM: a clarification, ” . . . the Welsh Assembly, and Wales, needs another representative of the third sector like the Uighurs need more concentration camps.” (A reference to China’s oppression of its Uighur minority.)

Let me finish with Delyth Jewell by saying that since she took up her seat I have, on occasions, been pleasantly surprised by her commitment to Wales and the cause of independence. The same can never be said for Leanne Wood, to whom we now turn.

But before we do, I’m sure you won’t mind me finding space for another tweet from the same thread; this contribution by Marc Phillips, Plaid Cymru treasurer, erstwhile candidate, former party chair, and consort to Helen Mary Jones, the AM for Mid and West Wales.

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“Neanderthal prick” is a curious insult, and rather dates him. For it is now agreed by archaeologists, ethnographers and others that we were always wrong to portray Neanderthals as grunting, primitive inferiors to modern humans. They were equally intelligent and culturally developed.

Which allowed the two to interbreed, certainly in Eurasia. Which in turn means that almost everyone reading this has some Neanderthal ancestry. Are we all ‘pricks’? Should we care? Who is Mr Helen Mary Jones anyway?

THE COMPLAINT AND THE RESPONSE

Let me make it clear from the outset that I did not make the complaint, nor did I encourage the person who made the complaint. I became aware of the complaint later in the process.

Here is Sir Roderick Evans’ report to the Assembly containing correspondence between him and Ms Wood, but I’m afraid much of it has been redacted, presumably by Sir Roderick’s staff. I’m going to go through the correspondence and pick out what I consider to be important.

Let’s start with the letter of complaint, which can be found on page 7. Reading it now, I note that it also mentions Marc Phillips, though I’m not clear whether he was also being complained about. Perhaps not, because he’s not an AM. All in all, a clear explanation of what the writer was complaining about.

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Now I want to turn to a few of the things Leanne Wood said in her defence.

Let us turn to page 12, where I am described as, “a persistent, pernicious influence on Welsh politics”. I found this interesting because so many of my critics, a number of them allies of Leanne Wood, tell me things like, “Nobody reads your bullshit, Jac”, or “Nobody cares what you think”, while another favourite is, “You’re a nobody”, yet they keep coming back, time after time, to tell me this . . . after reading something I’ve written!

At the risk of sounding immodest, I suggest the important word in the quote from Ms Wood might be ‘influence’.

The next paragraph refers to an article of mine that has been redacted. But speaking of it Ms Wood writes: “A prime example came during his feverish campaign to “expose” a so-called conspiracy between Plaid Cymru under my leadership and the lobbying firm Deryn (there was no such conspiracy) to oust Neil McEvoy from the party. I believe I have a strong case of defamation against Mr Jones for the blog posts he wrote on this subject.”

Again Leanne Wood gives herself away, this time by mentioning Neil McEvoy, and my support for him. She then tries to deny collusion between her and her close supporters on the one hand and Deryn Consulting on the other to marginalise Neil McEvoy, if not to destroy his political career.

To avoid any doubt, I repeat, there has most definitely been collusion, and it was no one-off meeting.

On to page 15 and the final paragraph of Leanne Wood’s letter of 31 January to Sir Roderick Evans. In which she writes: “I don’t regret using the only type of language that someone like Jones understands.”

Just 14 words, but what a huge sentence that is! It seems to be a good example of something I wrote back in June 2016. Where, in EU Referendum: Why I Want OUT!, I said, ” . . . many on the Left seem to believe they are both intellectually and morally superior to their opponents”.

Though what does she mean with, “someone like Jones”? Do I belong to a sub-species? Am I some kind of untermensch? Forget anything I’m accused of saying, this is the language of intolerant extremism, whether it comes from the left or the right.

With “someone like Jones” I am being ‘othered’. And we all know where that can lead.

CLIQUE AND CLAQUE

From her subsequent statements, it appears that Leanne Wood is refusing to accept the decision against her. Which is worrying, for the principle involved goes well beyond whether she was justified in calling me an ‘arsehole’. And for this reason.

If we allow Leanne Wood, or her collaborators and followers, free rein to decide who or what is misogynistic, or racist, or homophobic, or transphobic, or whatever, then they will abuse that freedom to their advantage; in order to silence critics and stifle political debate.

It follows that if this extreme minority – a small percentage of Plaid Cymru members and an even smaller percentage of the population at large – is allowed to dictate the terms of political discourse then democracy is in peril.

This is why there must be an impartial authority to judge on such matters.

For when a democratic system becomes intimidated by a zealous minority promoting extreme agendas and pursuing personal vendettas it ends in tragedies such as the death of Carl Sargeant, and the ongoing persecution of Neil McEvoy.

It was significant that among the first to leap to Leanne Wood’s defence were Labour politicians and Cathy Owens of Deryn Consulting. As I predicted.

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In pursuit of their objectives these cliques use insults and smears that get taken up and chanted by inhabitants of a world where there is no room for doubt. Where everything is black and white, right and wrong. Agree with them or face their wrath.

There are some in Leanne Wood’s claque of such total certitude, seeking a transcendental level of wokeness, that they have more in common with suicide bombers than with normal political activists.

This is why I challenge them at every opportunity. Someone has to.

FAULT LINES

I suppose on one level #arseholegate – as it has been dubbed by the interesting new ‘site Bubble.Wales – is a local skirmish in a global culture war, along predictable fault lines.

In this wider conflict the left has been getting hammered. There was the victory of Donald Trump; then the Brexit vote; the EU election victories, first for Ukip (2014) and then the Brexit Party (2019); plus populist/nationalist leaders and governments being elected all over the place, from Hungary to Brasil to India . . . and now, to cap it all – BoJo, and with Brexit fast approaching!

These defeats are partly explained by a shift away from the left by the (mainly) white working class in Europe, the USA and elsewhere. This is important, because for centuries middle class liberals and leftists have argued that they speak for those unable to speak for themselves.

This patronising myth is now exploded, leaving some of our erstwhile elite feeling distinctly uncharitable towards ungrateful proles. For those who were considered to be dumb and inarticulate have now found their voices, and they’re not singing the Internationale or the Red Flag.

This leaves the left scrabbling around to recruit, even invent, oppressed minorities. ‘What’s that, Mrs Jones – you’ve got ingrowing toenails! Join us and we’ll defend you against the ingrowingtoenailphobes. That Jac o’ the North is one of ’em. Bastard!’

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I have to say this, and I hope I don’t upset anyone with what needs to be put bluntly. When it comes to sex, as long as it doesn’t involve children, animals, coercion or inflatable dolls of Marge Simpson, I really don’t care what consenting adults get up to in private. (Just don’t make a cause or a career out of it.)

I felt the need to say that because a disproportionate number of my nastiest critics seem to be . . . well . . . let’s say, of non-heterosexual orientations. Attracted to Plaid Cymru by Leanne Wood they now feel bitter that she’s been deposed, and some seem to hold me responsible! So I am a ‘misogynist’, a ‘homophobe’, a ‘transphobe’, etc., etc., etc.

But I am none of those things. And that includes misogynist, despite what Leanne Wood would like people to think. Ask any woman who knows me. And valid criticism of a politician who just happens to be a woman is never misogyny.

To suggest otherwise is censorship. And usually comes from those who move in closed circles, divorced from the concerns of the general population. This too is dangerous.

But it explains why the most virulent attacks on me come from within the Cardiff Bay Bubble, and from those in other parts of Wales stupid enough to still believe that Corruption Bay is a force for good in Welsh life.

♦ end ♦

 

Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the picture darkens

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

Yes, I know I’ve promised Weep for Wales 13, and I’m working on it (there’s just so much to process), but fresh information on Gavin Lee Woodhouse justifies another post on the wonder boy of the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. (The AVAR website is ‘currently under maintenance’.)

WHERE WE LEFT OFF . . .

At the end of last month I published Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’ – you were warned!, with this piece following earlier postings of mine going back to April 2017, and more recent interest from the Guardian and ITV News.

There have been a number of follow-ups by both media outlets, with these being the most recent I can find: Serious Fraud Office assesses Gavin Woodhouse businesses in Thursday’s Guardian; with the same headline used by ITV News.

It is understood by all that Woodhouse operates by selling. or more usually leasing, rooms at hotels he owns. Had he been able to proceed with the Afan Valley Adventure Resort then he would have been selling/leasing more hotel rooms there, plus lodges or cabins. In fact, they were already being advertised, even though nothing’s been built. So have any been sold?

FISHGUARD

In my earlier piece I also said that I was unable to find the title document for the Fishguard Bay Hotel on the Land Registry website. I kept getting a ‘too many titles’ message which I attributed to rooms having been sold.

A recent comment to this blog assured me that the title document could be found, and eventually – by a counter-intuitive method I won’t bore you with by explaining – I did find it.

Fishguard Bay Hotel. Image courtesy of County Echo. Click to enlarge.

It tells us that the Fishguard Bay Hotel (actually in Goodwick) was bought 13 July 2017 for £966,720 by Wyncliffe House Hotel Ltd (formerly Fishguard Bay Hotel Ltd) a company formed 1 May 2016. We see that the company was formed over a year before Woodhouse actually bought the hotel, so presumably he was in negotiations. Or even on site prior to purchase?

If you scroll down on the title document you’ll see that leases for 45 rooms were sold in 2017. All of them 125-year leases, and irrespective of the date of sale all leases started on New Year’s Day.

Now obviously I couldn’t buy the title documents for all the rooms, so I limited myself to five. Which was enough to pique my curiosity. For the titles I bought, the prices range from £45,000 to £70,000.

All bar one were sold between 13 July 2017 and 28 September 2017; with the outrider sold 13 March 2018. Which could suggest impressive sales techniques, or even buyers already lined up.

Of the five, just one hints that it belongs to a genuine, small-time, private investor. This was the title document for an SSAS, which stands for Small Self-administered (pension) Scheme. The other four – certainly, three – looked iffy.

Judge for yourselves with the panel below made up of the relevant details from four of the five room title documents supplied by the Land Registry.

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The top two, one in Slovakia and the other in Poland, are impossible to check. They could be genuine buyers or they could be names plucked out of thin air, or from some database.

The two on the bottom supply UK addresses, but even so, something’s not right. The one on the left gives a Dubai address and ’24 Cheapside, Wakefield’. The one on the right gives a Welsh address, but also uses the Wakefield address. So what do we find at 24 Cheapside?

It’s a commercial building, with a number of tenants, among them the ‘Williams & Co’ mentioned in the document for the Dubai buyer. This is a firm of solicitors and everything seems to be kosher. My one concern being that the website does not give a Companies House number.

And then I stumbled on Williams & Co (Cleckheaton) Ltd, a company formed in January 2018. It’s registered at the address given on the Williams & Co website, with two directors and a further two shareholders.

Also found at 24 Cheapside, Wakefield is Immigration Advice Service (IAS), whose website, some might think, tries to give the impression that IAS is a UK government department, but it is in fact a private company.

Though, curiously, under ‘Nature of business (SIC)’, for IAS Companies House has: “69109 – Activities of patent and copyright agents; other legal activities not elsewhere classified”. What the the hell do patents and copyright have to do with immigration advice?

Immigration Advice Service was also registered as a charity, number 1033192. In fact, the company may be a ‘phoenix’ that grew out the defunct charity.

The cynic in me thinks that a company like IAS would be a great source of names and addresses for potential overseas buyers for hotel room leases . . . or even just names and addresses.

Others may argue that I’m clutching at straws here, but Woodhouse once had a company called MBI Immigration Services Ltd. So at the very least, he would appear to have shown interest in this line of business.

Let us head north now, to the Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy valley.

CAER RHUN

Let’s go straight to the title document, where we see that this hotel was bought for £1,500,000 with a loan from North West Asset Finance Ltd, which has a registered address in Todmorden, Lancashire, hard up to the frontier. I have stood there myself more than once and gazed into Yorkshire.

North West Asset Finance is hardly a rival to the big boys, for it’s a one-man band and the solitary director is Robert Ashley Hall. All the shares are owned by Shays Assets Ltd, another Hall company that takes its name from what I assume to be his home address, Shays Farm, near Skipton.

Caer Rhun. Image courtesy of Hitched. Click to enlarge.

Both companies were formed 11 February 2014, around the time Woodhouse embarked on his hotel-buying spree. While the accounts suggest that the only real asset may be the money loaned to Gavin Woodhouse to buy Caer Rhun.

Which made me wonder whether Hall and Woodhouse are known to each other. Sure enough, they are in business together. In a company called Gramra Ltd, formed by Hall 2 January 2018, which Woodhouse joined 13 June 2018.

When we look at who owns the shares in Gramra we find that at least half are owned by Woodhouse through the company Woodhouse Family Ltd, which has the controlling interest.

Woodhouse Family Ltd, where we find Gavin Woodhouse as sole director since his wife resigned last month when the shit hit the fan. For this company is alleged to have been the ultimate depository of some investors’ money, rather than the companies to which the money was ostensibly paid.

Shareholders in Gramra Ltd. Click to enlarge.

Returning to Caer Rhun, we find that 125-year leases have been sold on 57 rooms. Again, I downloaded the title documents for just five, and in price these range from £75,000 to £170,000. All were sold between July 2016 and August 2017.

The buyers we find in Bristol, Birmingham, and rather more exotic locations. Here are the three beyond these shores. Even if we accept that the one on the left refers to a UK couple living in Spain, that still leaves buyers in Italy and Taiwan.

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To have so many overseas buyers is not in itself cause for alarm, but I can’t believe that someone in Taiwan or Dubai or Slovakia woke up one bright morning and said to himself or herself, ‘I know! – I’ll buy a hotel room in Wales!’ 

We all know about Arab sheikhs and Russian oligarchs paying millions for London mansions, so is a room from which you can watch the Rosslare ferry the fag-end of the market?

Joking aside, maybe the real questions are:

  1. Do these overseas buyers really exist?
  2. If they do, did they really pay any money or are their names being used?
  3. And if they did pay money, where did that money come from?
  4. And where did it go?

BELMONT HOTEL

As far as I can make out, Gavin Lee Woodhouse, through his various companies, owns six hotels in Wales. It’s reasonable to assume that the same business model of selling the leases on individual rooms is found in all of them. That is certainly the case at the Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby (aka Carmarthen Bay Hotel) and the Belmont Hotel in Llandudno.

I want to focus on the Belmont.

From the title document, we see that it was bought in 2015 by MBI Heritage Hotel Ltd (now Belmont Hotel Ltd) for £381,250. Though in the latest accounts it’s valued at £2.62m and shows a profit of £1.55m. Though as the Guardian told us, the increased valuations on other hotels are even more dramatic.

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At the Belmont, leases for 26 rooms were sold, all of them in an impressively short time in 2015, so another gold star for the sales team. I haven’t bought any title documents for these sales because I’ve already splashed out £36 on Woodhouse, and I’m sure the picture will be little different to what we found at Fishguard and Caer Rhun.

But what appears to be different at the Belmont is, first, that Woodhouse does not own the Belmont (I think it’s owned by Mostyn Estates), he only leases it. Which means he’s selling leases in a property he himself leases.

Click to enlarge.

Which raises the question of whether Mostyn Estates Ltd is aware of this interesting development. Or whether it’s even legal.

What also struck me about the Belmont was that there are three charges outstanding. The first, from 2015, is for Mysing Properties Ltd, which changed its name to Mysing Capital Ltd before two further loans in December 2018.

But why would Woodhouse need to take out loans on the Belmont, a property he’s leasing, and for which he’s more than covered his outlay with the sale of the rooms?

Whatever the answer, Mysing is based in Wakefield, on Woodhouse’s patch; where we earlier saw hotel room buyers linked to the Wakefield solicitors, Williams & Co. The latest unaudited abridged accounts for Mysing paint a very healthy picture, with net current assets of £16,501,830 and total net assets of £1,475,344. The difference accounted for by creditors owing £14,977,000. Creditors, presumably, like Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

But from where does Mysing Capital – a company only formed in July 2014 – get that kind of money? ‘Unaudited abridged accounts’ tell us very little. And it’s perfectly legal.

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There’s no question in my mind that the directors of Mysing Capital are known to Woodhouse, and that these ‘loans’ may not be the kind of loans you or I are familiar with.

UPDATE 15.07.2019: Mysing Capital links with a string of Mysing companies, many of which are in the care home business (as of course was Woodhouse). But these other companies seem to have been formed after Mysing Capital.

Which still leaves the question of where the original Mysing Capital money came from.

In addition to the loans and mortgages taken out with Mysing towards the end of last year Woodhouse took out other loans around the same time, these with the equally mysterious Fiduciam Nominees Ltd. Why do I call this lot ‘mysterious’?

Well, after reading this at the foot of their website, how would you describe them?

“The content of this website has not been approved by an authorised person within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Fiduciam does not enter into regulated credit agreements within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001.”

Fiduciam is a lender of last resort. If your bank turns you down you go to a company like Fiduciam. Which, as the Companies House entry tells us is in the business of ‘financial intermediation’.

This means that it finds borrowers for people who have money to lend. We can see who the borrowers are, but who are the lenders? Well, if we go to the latest available accounts, we read at the bottom of page 10:

Click to enlarge

“The directors (of Fiduciam) deem BWCI Pension Trustees to be the ultimate controlling party”. ‘Deem’? Aren’t they sure? Anyway, here’s the website for BWCI Pension Trustees Ltd.

Now don’t get me wrong, what Fiduciam and BWCI do may be perfectly legal (in an offshore kind of way), but – as with Mysing – where does the money originally come from that they loan to people like Woodhouse?

In the case of Fiduciam we’re asked to believe it’s pension funds, but in practice there’ll be few questions asked if a drugs baron, oligarch or member of a third world kleptocracy washes up in the Channel Islands looking for a good investment for his ‘pension pot’.

What we can say for certain is that in December last year, the nearest vehicles Woodhouse has to parent companies, Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd and Giant Hospitality Ltd got themselves heavily indebted to a company that finds desperate borrowers for offshore lenders whose money could come from anywhere.

Why did he need the money? Was it for the Afan Valley venture? If so, then Woodhouse is now well and truly up that narrow waterway known colloquially as Shit, with his business model exposed in the mass media, creditors beating on his door, and the Afan Valley Adventure Resort a fast receding dream.

Though the local council leader in Neath Port Talbot is wailing about the loss as though it’s somebody else’s fault! But then, that’s ‘Welsh’ Labour for you – always somebody else’s fault.

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My response was summed up in a tweet I put out on Saturday to accompany the article: “Listen, Rob, if you and your mates down Corruption Bay had done the basic checks into Gavin Woodhouse and you would have laughed him away and wouldn’t be ‘disappointed’ now. You’ve got no one to blame but your council and .”

EPILOGUE

When I first encountered Gavin Lee Woodhouse I thought he was a bit of a lad who’d over-reached himself. (As opposed to an out-and-out bastard like Paul Williams who ‘succeeded’ him at Plas Glynllifon.) Now I worry that there may be darker elements to his business ventures.

The foreign buyers for so many of his hotel rooms certainly start the alarm bells a-trembling. As does the lack of information about his financial backers.

But then, as I’ve said before, this is business, this is finance – English style. Where the City of London sits at the centre of a web of offshore tax havens and money-laundering centres that welcome anybody’s money. Once it’s in the system, with the origin disguised, that money can be used anywhere.

The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are the oldest, and nearest of these centres.

But this does not excuse the ‘Welsh Government’, which obviously did no due diligence into Woodhouse before giving him £500,000 for Caer Rhun and then welcoming him with open arms when he ventured to the Afan valley.

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Unless of course they were over-ruled from London. (It happens regularly.) Which would make them complaisant rather than gullible. Is that an improvement?

So it’s good-bye Gavin Lee Woodhouse, and hello, . . ?

For you can guarantee that the next Gavin Lee Woodhouse is already here spinning his lies and courting the politicians. And he’s not alone.

In Return Journey Dylan Thomas goes home to a blitzed Swansea searching for the places and people he knew. Eventually he reaches Cwmdonkin Park, where the park keeper responds to his questions about a boy from long ago with, ‘I’ve known him by the thousands’.

I’m beginning to feel like that parkie, due to all the crooks infesting our country. They keep coming because we have thick-as-shit politicians more concerned with shagging and back-stabbing than with making Wales honest, healthy and prosperous.

And a media unworthy of the name.

♦ end ♦

Miscellany 04.06.2019

I haven’t prepared any in-depth or weighty post for this week; instead, I’ve put together a few things I’ve been thinking about, or been sent, that might also be of interest to you. You know me – always trying to please!

COALITIONS

One of the more bizarre responses to the 2016 EU referendum result came from Leanne Wood, then leader of Plaid Cymru – Let’s go into coalition with Labour!‘, she suggested.

Quite what this was supposed to achieve no one seemed to know, but it struck me at the time as a predictable response from Plaid Cymru’s clenched fist and beret tendency. Those who would still regard the Tories as ‘the real enemy’ even if ISIS invaded the Rhondda Fach.

I mention this because even with the Red Queen dethroned Plaid Cymru seems to be thinking along similar lines today. With new leader Adam Price calling for a coalition of Remain-supporting parties for the next UK general election.

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Ideally, of course, Plaid Cymru would like a coalition with Labour, but thanks to Comrade Corbyn’s vacillating that is not possible. So with that hope dashed, Plaid now seeks a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Change UK and the SNP.

(UPDATE: It’s all happening! Now the ‘Welsh Government’ has come out for Remain.)

Let’s consider the SNP first. Things are very different in Scotland, where the SNP will be hoping to win every seat in the next UK general election; so the chances of them doing a deal with other parties, which would almost certainly mean standing down in some seats, is a non-starter.

The SNP could even turn the next general election into a vote on independence and EU membership, especially if Westminster refuses to allow another independence referendum.

Next up is Change UK. If you’re unfamiliar with this lot, then let me explain that they’re a bunch of preening egotists who couldn’t get their own ways in their previous parties. Before the next election comes around clashing egos will have destroyed this collective huff of a party and that’ll be the end of Change UK.

(UPDATE: Within hours of publishing this piece the bust-up happened!)

On to the Greens, aka the Green Party of England, for there is no Wales Green Party. Worse, last year Greens in Wales voted on whether to set up a separate Green party and decided to stay as the Green Party of Englandandwales. Which means that Plaid Cymru wants to work with a party that refuses to recognise Wales as a country!

Note how the BBC reports it, as if common sense prevails against dangerous separatists seeking to sunder a sacred bond. Click to enlarge

Finally, the Liberal Democrats, the party that kept the Tories in power at Westminster between 2010 and 2015, and the party that – with its single AM – helps keep Labour in power down Cardiff docks. A gang of opportunistic and amoral politicos that would sell their grannies for a sniff of power.

Despite decades of trying to promote themselves as the ‘nice’ party I have a deep and abiding contempt for the modern Liberal Democrats. I had time for old Geraint Howells and a few others from the genuinely Welsh Liberal tradition, but the modern party is a venomous thing not to be trusted or handled.

Containing individuals like Callum James Littlemore, who is ‘Diary Manager’ for local party leader Jane Dodds. (She needs a diary manager!) I thought for a minute it was a typo, and he worked on her farm, but apparently it’s true. Anyway, young Callum bears out all I’ve thought about LibDems.

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Though he can’t have been in Wales for long if he thinks Plaid Cymru “support divisive nationalism”. Listen to Uncle Jac: Plaid Cymru is a bunch of evasive, wishy-washy, ishoo-botherers, forever seeking distractions to avoid confronting any specifically Welsh issue. Brexit being the latest such distraction.

Let’s hope we hear little more from Littlemore. (Couldn’t resist it!)

Ruling out the SNP for the reasons I’ve given, these are the parties that Plaid Cymru is ready to co-operate with thanks to Plaid’s fixation with Brexit. What would Plaid get in return – I mean, would these parties campaign for Welsh independence, or even greater devolution? I think not.

It also means that by turning the next election into a single-issue affair Plaid Cymru will ignore the things people care about. Done in order to line up with England’s Brahmin left, thereby alienating thousands upon thousands of people that must be won over if Wales is to escape the humiliation long ago imposed on us by John Bull; a colonial system loyally maintained into the present day by ‘Welsh’ Labour and its rag-bag of hangers-on.

There’ll be a price to pay for this posturing, this self-indulgent myopia. I sincerely hope.

CORRUPTION BAY

This is a term I coined well over twenty years ago as the title of an opus describing the ‘regeneration’ of Cardiff’s docklands. Perhaps the biggest milking of the public purse ever seen in Wales.

Made possible by Secretary of State for Wales (1979 – 1987) Nicholas Edwards, who set up, in April 1987, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC), to be run by his good friend and fellow High Tory, Sir Geoffrey Inkin. The CBDC became the conduit for pumping hundreds of millions of pounds of public money into land owned by Associated British Ports (ABP), of which Edwards was a director.

The CBDC was wound up in 1999 and Edwards – Lord Crickhowell since 1987 – stepped down from the board of Associated British Ports Holdings Ltd 28 April 1999.

Of course, Edwards/Crickhowell didn’t have it all his own way. For example, despite donning his Welsh National Opera tricorn he failed to get a new opera house to the Bay, but learning from that disappointment he made sure that the ‘consolation prize’ of the Notional Assembly building was located on his patch.

And while it was being built he saw to it that ABP continued to coin it by having AMs and staff use Crickhowell House – at £2m+ a year.

Crickhowell House/Tŷ Crughywel/Tŷ Hywel, click to enlarge

Crickhowell House was soon renamed Tŷ Crughywel, and is now Tŷ Hywel, apparently in honour of Hywel Dda. Which looks very much like an attempt to hide the Crickhowell connection, for I’m not aware of Hywel Dda having any local connections.

Despite having moved into the new Senedd building over ten years ago the ‘Welsh Government’ still agreed a series of leases that bind it – and us – to Tŷ Hywel until 2049, or Armageddon, whichever comes sooner. Guaranteed to cost us many more millions of pounds.

I mention this to give the background to what we see today in Cardiff Bay; the squalid and incestuous wheeler-dealing, the lying and the backstabbing, the cronyism, the incompetence, and the waste of public money.

The latest example of the incestuousness comes with Daniel Bryant leaving lobbyists Deryn for Plaid Cymru. This ménage à trois involving Deryn, Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party is not good for democracy or for Wales.

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(Cathy Owens is a director of Deryn. Though I shudder to think what ‘Deryn standards’ might be referring to. Could it be sarcasm?)

But this is what devolution has done. It has given us a class of people, divorced from the real world, who study politics, help out local politicians in their spare time and then, when they finish university, get a job working for a politician, or lobbyists, making contacts, and getting on their party’s list of approved candidates.

They then become politicians and make decisions affecting the lives of people with whom they have little contact and for whom they may have little concern. I say that because politics is no longer about serving the people, it’s a team game of abstractions and all that matters is scoring points against the opposition. (Though in Wales it often seems to be just two ‘teams’ involved.)

This system of musical chairs that begins with teenagers choosing a ‘career’ in politics goes a long way to explaining why Wales is in the mess she’s in today. And also why, alone in western Europe, Wales has no register or regulation of lobbyists – because the lobbyists won’t countenance such legislation!

Speak out in favour of such legislation – as Neil McEvoy has done more than once – and you will be hounded and vilified – by lobbyists, your own party, and anyone else the lobbyists can influence. Is this democracy?

Of course not, but it is Corruption Bay; and those we find lurking there today are worthy successors to the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.

REMOTE CONTROL

For anyone who missed it over on Jacqui Thompson’s blog, soon-to-be-retired Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James plans to stay active with Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd . . . of Brighton. A company formed 23 April 2019.

‘Why Brighton?’ you ask, and the answer is because that’s where his mates are. ‘Mates!’ Yes, you must remember his partners from the Cardiff Bay property business. I wrote about it in Baywatch and Baywatch 2. In particular, Mark Philip Carter, a director with James of Building and Estate Solutions Today Limited.

That company is based in Cardiff, but Carter has other companies based at the same Brighton address – 161-163 Preston Road – where we find Mark James’s new venture. Companies such as Friend-James Accountants LLP, Friend-James Ltd and Opher Ltd.

The two directors of Ffynnon Consultancy are James and his missus. He with 400 shares, she with 100.

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It was always unlikely that when James retires later this month, and surfboards out of county hall on a flood of tears, that he would put on his slippers and take up some innocent pastime like counting his money, or evicting bloggers.

But now, with his own consultancy, his protégée Wendy Walters taking over his job, and Emlyn ‘Two Barns’ Dole keeping the councillors in check, James should be able to run the show by remote control!

For as the old saying has it – You can’t keep a good man down. Or in this case, a vindictive and manipulative megalomaniac, and Private Eye Shit of the Year 2016.

You know he can’t just walk away – for there is a Wellness Village to build!

Talking of which . . . there’s something nagging me, for there is another company with a very similar name to James’s new venture. This being the Ffynnon Consultancy Group Ltd.

What’s interesting about the Ffynnon Consultancy Group is that its entry in the ‘Welsh Government’s Directory of Welsh Businesses tells us: “At the Ffynnon Consultancy Group we identify and establish business connections across a wide platform of business sectors in the UAE and the GCC”.

‘UAE’ is of course the initials of the United Arab Emirates, and ‘GCC’ stands for Gulf Cooperation Council. So why would this obscure little company be operating in the Gulf?

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I ask because I’m sure you’ll remember that it was links with that part of the world that led to suspensions at Swansea University and the halting of city deal funding for the Wellness Village.

The sole director of the Ffynnon Consultancy Group – a one-share company that appears never to have traded or done anything since being formed in June 2016 – was Angela Louise Williams of Llandybie, until she was replaced last Friday by Kevin Williams of New Quay, Ceredigion, with the company’s registered address also transferring to New Quay on 3 June.

Given the Gulf connection, I got to wondering if there might also be a link with Swansea University, the Wellness Village, or with outgoing Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James’s new company Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd?

In the hope of getting answers I e-mailed Ffynnon Consultancy Group and received a reply from Kevin Williams, who expressed surprise that Companies House had allowed registrations from two companies with such similar names.

He assured me that neither he nor Angela Louise Williams had any links to either Carmarthenshire County Council or Swansea University. So that would appear to be that . . . just an amazing coincidence . . .

M4 OR NO M4

As I write this, on Monday evening, the word is that tomorrow the ‘Welsh Government’ will not back the proposed M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks. So, on that assumption, here are a few points that immediately popped into the cavernous Jac cranium.

  • Let us hope that this unexpected decision heralds a new era of development and investment spread across the country, thereby obviating the need for an M4 ‘relief road’.
  • Presumably the announcement will be accompanied by promises to invest in public transport. Again, I urge that thinking goes beyond the Cardiff region, because there is a country out there.
  • Nothing would prove this administration’s commitment to both Wales beyond Cardiff and public transport better than a west coast railway line from Carmarthen to Bangor.
  • Finally, this decision might deter commuters from Bristol and elsewhere moving into Wales for cheaper housing – have you thought about that? Well, have you!

CAPTION COMPETITION

And, finally, this week’s caption competition. I am grateful to the person who supplied this wonderful photograph of Paul and Rowena Williams of Weep for Wales fame. The picture comes from the XscapeNow Facebook page.

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These crooks are former owners of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, The Knighton Hotel, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor Hotel and other establishments from Northumberland to Cornwall.

I can’t help thinking that holding an illustration of criminals being caught by the police might be seen as tempting fate.

♦ end ♦

 

Tit-bits, shysters, liars and tits

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

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

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

COLEG HARLECH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now it might be demolished at public expense!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what might those plans be?

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

Has this plan now moved up the coast to Harlech?

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

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

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

SAVING THE PLANET BY EXPLOITING WALES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TARDIS IN CYDWELI!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

click to enlarge

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

SWANSEA COUNCIL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAWNUS 3A

Just a brief update to Dawnus 3.

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

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

CLEDDAU BRIDGE HOTEL

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

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

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

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

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

‘COFIWCH DRYWERYN’

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

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

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

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

The petition reads,

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

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

Please donate to our cause!

(The drowned village was actually called Capel Celyn.)

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

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

UNBRUVVERLY FLINTSHIRE

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

click to engorge

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

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

♦ END ♦

 

Dawnus 2

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

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

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

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

click to enlarge

MISCELLANEOUS UPDATES

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

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

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

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

TRYING TO FOLLOW THE MONEY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A FLOCK OF PHOENIX!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FLYING THE FLAG?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where’s the evidence?

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

Image courtesy of Getty Images, click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dawnus

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

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

But the interest has been only superficial.

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

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

MORE THAN JUST A COMPANY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHO OWES WHAT, AND TO WHOM?

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

Except that . . .

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

So there are at least three charges.

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

click to enlarge

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALL PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRYING TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER

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

Image courtesy of Imperial War Museum, click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦ end ♦

Poor old Swansea! victim of devolution and Cardiff-centricity

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

THE TOWN I LOVED SO WELL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BALLS, AND PLAYING SILLY BUGGERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEVOLUTION – SHAFTED AGAIN!

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

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

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

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

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

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

And poor old Swansea got shafted, yet again.

NOTHING CHANGES

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

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

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

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

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

Llanelli’s planned Wellness Village, click to enlarge

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

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

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

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AND THEN THERE’S THE WELSH RUGBY UNION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAKING SENSE OF IT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poor old Swansea!

♦ end ♦

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

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Friends old & new: Gavin ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse; James ‘Fforest’ Lynch; Shane Baker, ‘the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo’ and Jonathan Duggan

It’s always nice to meet up with old friends, and here are updates on three characters I’ve written about before, though I suppose it’s stretching it a bit to call them friends. And it also gives me the opportunity to introduce a couple of new faces.

This trip down Memory Lane will take us from Cardigan to Caernarfon and from the Afan Valley up to the Conwy Valley. (But if you want to stop somewhere for a cup of tea and a Welsh cake, that’s OK with me.)

What they have in common is that they have come to live among us and milk the public purse invest in our lovely homeland. We shall meet grant-grabbers and outright crooks all adding to the woof and weave of contemporary Welsh life.

This is another big piece but you don’t have to be greedy because it’s broken up into three distinct parts topped and tailed with this introduction and the conclusion.

GAVIN ‘WYNNBORN’ WOODHOUSE

Gavin Lee Woodhouse first intruded into the collective Welsh consciousness when, through his company MBI Hotels Ltd, he bought Plas Glynllifon near Caernarfon and tried to re-brand it ‘Wynnborn’. (Plas Glynllifon has been spectacularly unlucky in its recent owners, with the latest being Paul and Rowena Williams. Though they might by now have sold out to Myles Cunliffe. Explained in Weep for Wales 11.)

I didn’t write about Woodhouse at the time, but my interest was aroused when I learnt that together with Bore Grylls he was planning a big development behind Port Talbot. I first wrote about it in English tourism in the colony of Wales in April 2017, and followed it up in July with Colonial investments.

As time went on I began to suspect that Woodhouse was being edged out of the project, or being asked to take a back seat, because the front man soon became Peter Moore, “the man who brought Center Parcs to the UK”.

Neuadd Caer Rhun, click to enlarge

Maybe it was realised that Woodhouse, with the ‘Wynnborn’ albatross around his neck, his ‘chequered’ business record, and his tendency to come across as a bit of a wide boy, might not be viewed as a suitable recipient of Welsh public funding.

But you can’t keep him down. Soon after walking away from ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse bought Caer Rhun Hall early in 2016. And he was rewarded last year with a £500,000 wodge from the ‘Welsh Government’. Though a number of people are asking how this was justified, seeing as Woodhouse doesn’t own the hotel in the conventional sense. Let me explain.

Instead of the hotel letting the rooms to short-stay guests the rooms are sold to investors. Here’s a promo from Select Portfolio, and here’s a notice from Thomas Investments of Chester telling us that the rooms are sold out.

This business model was looked at by West Wales News Review in October 2017, for Woodhouse – through a worryingly large portfolio of companies – owns a number of hotels in Wales from Tenby to Llandudno.

Talking of his portfolio, according to Companies House Woodhouse has been involved with 47 different companies, of which 45 are current; while Company Check tells us he’s held 77 directorships altogether.

Either way, I believe that no one starts and closes so many companies in just seven years unless it’s done to confuse people, and to hamper investigation.

Company Check summary. Click to enlarge

In order to maximise his profits Woodhouse also wants to put overpriced sheds in the Caer Rhun gardens and call them ‘villas’. Though locals can’t understand why these nine ‘villas’ are being advertised for sale – they may even have been sold ‘off plan’ – when planning permission was refused on the 11th of January.

And yet, due to the plethora of companies it’s difficult to know which company is involved in which project. To avoid too much confusion let’s just stick with Caer Rhun.

The Daily Post article tells us the hotel was bought by Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd in 2016. Here’s the Companies House entry. And here’s the entry for Northern Powerhouse Developments Adventure Resorts Ltd, and Northern Powerhouse Developments Adventure Resorts Management Ltd, and Northern Powerhouse Developments (Holdings) Ltd, and Northern Powerhouse Developments Hotels Ltd, and Northern Powerhouse Developments Marketing Ltd.

But if we go to this page for Caer Rhun Hall we see it linked with ‘Whisper Hotels’. There is a website for Whisper, but nothing registered with Companies House, so presumably it’s a marketing name, in which case I would expect the website to give the name of the controlling company. Of course it doesn’t.

Maybe Caer Rhun is owned by Woodhouse’s Giant Hospitality Ltd (formerly MBI Hotels Ltd). A company with net liabilities of £265,135 and Woodhouse as sole director. I make this suggestion because until last month Giant Hospitality was based at Caer Rhun before moving to West Yorkshire.

Another point of interest is Woodhouse’s funding. For the many charges against his companies are not with banks that you would recognise . . . or come to that, with any bank.

Woodhouse’s money comes from interesting sources like Fiduciam Nominees Ltd, Assetz Capital Trust Company Ltd and Mysing Capital Ltd.

Fiduciam Nominees of London seems to have little in the way of money, but has 516,000 issued shares, while on its Companies House entry its business is described as “financial intermediation“. Its directors are French, Dutch, Belgian and New Zealand. So your guess is as good as mine as to where the money really comes from.

Turning to Manchester-based Assetz Capital Trust Company Ltd, the latest (unaudited) financial statement declares no assets whatsoever. But as I say, it’s a trust, one of the shadiest of all financial vehicles.

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Unusually, perhaps, Mysing Capital Ltd appears to be a thing of substance. It’s one of a stable of companies using the Mysing name based in Woodhouse’s home patch of West Yorkshire. The latest accounts give total net assets of almost £1.5m . . . that is if you believe ‘unaudited abridged accounts’, the kind of ‘You can trust us, Guv’ submissions favoured by so many of those we meet on this blog.

Gavin Lee Woodhouse is a spiv, a man prepared to cut corners; he’s borrowing money from companies that are nothing more than middle men for ‘investors’ – yet the ‘Welsh Government’ is more than happy to fund this man!

JAMES ‘FFOREST’ LYNCH

Now let’s go back a little further, to July 2015, and Cardigan Castle – Ready to Fall? This was the first in a series of articles on the £12m renovation of the castle, a project that failed to enthuse many locals, who felt that its significance in Welsh history was being downplayed in order to promote the castle as a conference centre, wedding venue, and glorified B & B.

It was further suspected that the wrong direction had been taken due to the project being controlled by four women who seemed impervious to criticism and deaf to advice. These were dealt with in Gang of Four + One. The leader of the group was unquestionably local matriarch Jann Tucker of Aberporth.

Tangentially I mentioned James Lynch, who is married to Tucker’s daughter, Siân. Satisfied that he had no part in what was happening at the castle I took him off the hook and let him swim away. But now people tell me that he has become something of a predator himself in the pond that is Aberteifi.

James Lynch with Lord Elis Thomas. Click to enlarge

For Lynch seems to be branching out hither and yon, being photographed in the company of peers of the realm, which means we can guarantee that grants will follow. These will be in addition to the considerable amounts of lucre he’s already received from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.

And in this recent spurt of expansionism Oor Jimmie has pissed off a great number of people. (Did I not mention that Lynch is one of our northern cousins?)

Before dealing with his current and proposed ventures – and almost as many companies as ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse – let us consider James Lynch’s business background. I warn you, this gets complicated; but as ever, Jac has tried to make things clearer. For I have drawn up a document listing all of Lynch’s companies . . . or at least, all those I can find.

Now I’d better explain the document so that you can make sense of it. It’s here in pdf format. Maybe it would be best for you to open it in another window for easy reference.

You’ll see that there are seven column headings. Most are self-explanatory, ‘Inc’d’ means Incorporated; that is, the date the company was formed. Each company name forms a link, click to open an entry with Companies House or Company Check.

The final column, ‘Financial Health’, also contains a number of links, usually where there are outstanding charges. Where you read ‘N/A’, this refers to companies that Lynch left before they went tits up, or they may still be trading. So neither blame nor credit can be apportioned.

You will also see that some entries are shaded in yellow and others in violet, so let me explain this shading.

I assume that Lynch met Ms Tucker when both were in London, where they married and begat four sons. While there Lynch joined a number of companies where the common denominator seems to have been Ellis Elias, who I originally assumed to be Welsh. But on noticing a mention of Golders Green and a loan from an Israeli bank, I now believe that Elias is Jewish. The companies run by Elias, and an assortment of others, are shaded in yellow. Lynch’s involvement with them seems to have ended in 2003.

The companies that are unshaded – or in white – are usually Lynch companies. As are those in violet, but with this important distinction. The companies in violet have all received loans / debentures from Finance Wales. (Finance Wales has been renamed Development Bank of Wales.) In fact, in some cases it could be this funding that is keeping the companies afloat. These loans / debentures were all signed off by Val Thomas and all delivered on 2 April 2015.

Take the ‘Welsh Government’s Finance Wales out of the equation and Jimmy’s business record is anything but inspiring. Most of his non-FW companies – those unshaded – are dissolved, some with outstanding debts.

Or else, as you see under the ‘Financial Health’ column, the situation is ‘Unknown’, because I can find nothing on the Companies House website and I’m not prepared to pay Company Check for documents that may reveal little.

Then look at the four ‘Loft’ companies Incorporated 26.05.1999 – how do we explain that? Is he trying to confuse people, just like Woodhouse?

Another company that caught my eye was Beachbay Ltd. What I find odd is that Jimbo already had a number of charges against this venture before Finance Wales got involved. What’s more, we’re dealing with a property in London, which Lynch was presumably buying through those mortgages and loans.

click to enlarge

My view is that Finance Wales should have rejected any application from Beachbay Ltd, a London-based company operating property in London. And even though the office address has now – belatedly – moved to Cardigan the business is still in London.

I’m sure someone will make an enquiry about this. It might even be me! (Done!)

But how do we explain Finance Wales’s generosity? Well, it occurs to me that in controlling the regeneration of the castle Jann Tucker would have made many useful contacts in Cardiff. And so I suspect she helped facilitate the largesse bestowed on James Lynch, especially as her daughter is a director of most of the companies involved.

But what’s Jimmie been up to of late? Well we saw the photograph above of him with a veteran revolutionary who’s been valiantly fighting the system from within for nigh on fifty years. And to his credit, El Dafydd has taken the fight into the enemy citadel, where many close their eyes to avoid witnessing the carnage.

(Though nowadays he seems to be little more than Kenny Skates’ gofer.)

That photograph suggests tourism. But rather than re-purposing the places of worship mentioned in that article I linked to, and this one, the issue causing concern for a number of people in the Cardigan area is glamping. For Jimmie wants to erect glamping pods . . . in fact, he has already put up some without planning permission.

click to enlarge

Though the situation now appears to have been ‘regularised’, with permission granted, but with a number of conditions. Planning enforcement officers are still investigating the ones put up without permission!

In the piece I linked to from December you’ll read “Mr Lynch said he now employed around 50 people, most of them local young people”. While in the headline you saw the name ‘Pizzatipi’, so let’s pull these threads together and see what we get.

Pizzatipi is a pretentious fast food joint and bar by the Teifi in the middle of the town run by Lynch’s sons . . . though it’s closed until Easter (suggesting locals don’t use it). Maybe somebody should have asked Lynch how many “local young people” are employed now, in December and January.

click to enlarge

For of course Lynch is a tourism operator, and he may indeed provide dozens of jobs for young people . . . in the summer. Some of these youngsters will be local, others will be on a working holiday. Few will be paid above the minimum wage.

The word on the street is that Lynch has now bought the local mart grounds. He has no interest in livestock so speculation is rife as to his plans for the site. There is also speculation about where he’s getting the money from.

Whatever the exact source I suspect it will have ‘Welsh Government’ stamped on it.

A suspicion heightened by this truly ludicrous Visit Wales publication that has Lynch listed among “Heroic trailblazers: real-life legends of Wales”. In truth, he is a man with a mountain of debts, a trail of failed companies . . . but an influential mother-in-law.

We are entitled to ask the ‘Welsh Government’ why it is putting so much of our money into Lynch’s companies, and the companies of others like him, to build up property portfolios for themselves, but to create only low wage, no skill, seasonal jobs.

Does anyone seriously believe that ventures like Pizzatipi (closed ’til Easter), glamping, and all the other nonsense we’ve looked at will give us a healthy, balanced economy that can provide well-paid jobs for our people, allowing them to remain in their communities and compete in their local property markets?

As ever, answers on a post card, please.

UPDATE 30.01.2019: I am indebted to a source for drawing to my attention yet another of James Lynch’s projects, this one is on the Cardigan quayside. It involves, “Refurbishment, extension and change of use of warehouse, to include mixed-use development comprising of events space (sui generis), enterprise zones providing mixed use at ground floor and hostel and spa treatment room at first floor (sui generis).”

All details may be obtained by visiting the council planning portal, and then scrolling down. In addition to just about everyone within earshot of the proposed ‘events space’ the town council is also objecting, and even Natural Resources Wales has “significant concerns”.

It seems Jimbo is trying to branch out in all directions at once. Maybe the word I’m looking for is ‘overreach’.

UPDATE 31.01.2019: Here’s a reminder from 2017 of how Lynch and too many others operate:

  1. Decide on a plan.
  2. Go through the motions of the planning process.
  3. Irrespective of how that works out push on with your plan.
  4. If planning permission refused, insist on retrospective permission.
  5. Count on council caving in on the grounds of being unable to justify spending public money in pursuing a legal case against you.
  6. You get what you want.

The only way to ensure that Lynch and others can’t get away with it is to make a few, well-publicised examples of pulling down anything put up without authorisation – and making the guilty party pay.

The message would soon sink in.

SHANE BAKER, ‘THE BARGAIN BASEMENT BALDRICK OF NEBO’ AND HIS FRIEND JONATHAN JAMES DUGGAN

We first encountered James Lynch in 2015 and Gavin Woodhouse in 2017, now we’re going to catch up with someone we met much more recently. I’m referring to Shane Baker, who topped the bill in Miscellany 25.11.2018. The first time he’s topped the bill since his gig at Twerton Liberal Club. (You missed it!)

Shane describes himself as a film extra and his social media output makes it clear that he sits on the political far right, where the sun always shines and the favourite mobile ring tone is God Save the Queen.

Shane Baker’s Facebook page, click to enlarge

It would be easy to laugh at Shane Baker, Tommy Robinson’s rocking acolyte, but he mixes with people who treat others with contempt, break the law without a second thought, and flout planning regulations with impunity.

How they met up remains a mystery but Baker seems to act as general fixer for Jonathan James Duggan, formerly of West Yorkshire. In fact, so close are they, that I hear Duggan sometimes uses Baker’s name. Why would he do that, boys and girls?

Perhaps because he’s a crook, and the son of a crook. For Jonathan James Duggan (aka Ripley) is the son of John/Jonathan Joseph Duggan. Duggan père was sent down in 2005 for six years, and described in this report as a “professional fraudster”.

Duggan senior made the news last year when he was arrested in Benllech, taken back to Yorkshire and banged up again.

After his father was imprisoned in 2005 young Duggan took over the family business of ordering goods, selling them off, not paying the original supplier, then liquidating the company involved.

By now, the Huddersfield area in which the Duggans had operated must have become unwelcoming because by 2012 or 2013 we find Duggan junior in Nebo. At Bryn Llys, an unprepossessing property . . . for which there were soon big plans.

These can be seen below. As might be expected, Duggan had no intention of keeping to the planning application that had been approved.

The new property that has been built is now advertised as Snowdon Summit View. When there are guests Duggan moves his wife Emma and seven children into a nearby shed . . . and I mean, shed, with no windows. I’m told the local fire service came to inspect it – and did no more than install fire alarms for free!

I’m also told that Duggan’s wife uses a number of names other than Duggan.

Fire alarms were not all Duggan got for free. For I’m also told that Nest Cymru installed 35 radiators and a biomass system in the new house. Though someone else tells me there’s an issue with water pressure that means the advertised baths and laundry facilities are very much luck of the draw.

Though it’s worth pointing out that Duggan doesn’t actually own Bryn Llys. It’s owned by an Andrew Battye of Huddersfield, a business partner of the Duggans. Not only that, but Battye also owns the land bought to increase the curtilage of Bryn Llys. In fact, according to Company Check, Battye himself is based at ‘Unit 1, Bryn Llys, Caernarfon, LL54 6EH’. Does the council know about this?

Whoever owns Bryn Llys we can be reasonably sure that it was bought, the curtilage doubled, and the house trebled in size, with money from criminal activities. Which might explain the police raid last April. This occurred not long after Duggan declared himself bankrupt 

To take you further in this story it’s best that you have an idea of the lie of the land. So I’ve put together a few maps that will help you locate Bryn Llys.

The map at the top shows the location of the village of Nebo, which is just off the A487 running from Porthmadog to Caernarfon. The map in the centre shows the village and the narrow roads running to and from it, with Bryn Llys the scorched earth in the centre. At the bottom you see a close-up of Bryn Llys.

It didn’t always look like this. But Duggan has cleared away hedges, walls and other features to leave a wasteland with – I’m told – topsoil buried under hardcore! Why would he do this?

Possibly because Duggan plans a large tourist attraction for Bryn Llys, with holiday accommodation. But as you can see on the map, there is only a narrow track from his property to Ffordd Cors y Llyn, the single-track road running into Nebo (and a dead-end in the other direction). This need for a wider access road explains why he has tried to steal land from neighbours, or to intimidate them into selling land.

This campaign involves threats, forged documents, claiming land that is not his, felling trees and knocking down walls. All because a great deal of money has been spent on a property that is very unlikely to receive planning permission for the kind of project Duggan has in mind, even from Gwynedd’s supine planning department.

There’s a lot more I could have written, but this is enough for now. As yet, I don’t think Jonathan James Duggan has received funding from the ‘Welsh Government’. But it’s only a matter of time.

Oh! before I forget, a mate of Duggan’s who is also interested in land outside of Nebo is Aaron Hill, who owns/owned the old courthouse in Caernarfon and who was – according to WalesOnline – victimised by “anti-English racists”. In reality, Cofis objected to him throwing his weight around.

The first reference I can find for Hill is this from October 2011, related to Plas Gwynfryn at Llanystumdwy, the home of Tory MP Ellis-Nanney. Hill is described as an “expert” on bringing derelict buildings back to life.

AARON HILL. Image Robert Parry-Jones, click to enlarge

In the same year he bought St David’s church in Picton Terrace, Carmarthen for £1 making lots of promises. This report from 2017 suggests his ‘expertise’ had deserted him for nothing was ever done to the building and Hill was off-loading it.

In July 2015 he formed a company called Capel Troedyrhiw Ltd, which had an address in Radyr, Cardiff before transferring to Caernarfon and folding. It never traded and was just a shell company.

I can’t find any other company that Hill has been associated with and so I wonder where his money comes from. All information gratefully received.

CONCLUSION

We have a ‘Welsh Government’ with no policy for rural areas beyond letting things happen; which means they have no alternative but to welcome and fund the kinds of spivs and crooks you’ve read about here – and then pretend it’s a ‘strategy’.

Because there is such a good welcome I suspect that much of what the ‘Welsh Government’ would have us believe is ‘investment’ is in fact money laundering. With tourism and the buying of hotels and isolated properties seen as an ideal conduit for dirty money.

This takes place to a backdrop of most locals unable to afford a home, and increasingly denied social housing by the practices of housing associations; and so they either leave or struggle on in communities becoming less familiar year on year. Ethnic cleansing the clever way.

Decent jobs are scarce and there is no investment in anything that will benefit Welsh people . . . yet there is unlimited funding for this invading horde of crooks and shysters who are clearly above the law and beyond any restraint.

I’m no longer sure that politics, or political change, will be enough to save Wales from the engineered extinction that is approaching. Maybe something else is needed.

♦ END ♦