My intention was to start winding down this blog, spend more time with my wife, grand-children, books, Malbec . . . but things keep cropping up. That said, it’s very unlikely I shall undertake major new investigations. Diolch yn fawr.
The previous post was a cri de coeur from someone who by chance had learnt that she is to have a wind farm plonked on her doorstep. Which is often how people find out.
Because in the early stages of wind farm projects those pushing them like to tread carefully, and operate in the shadows. Which encourages skulduggery and often results in what can only be described as corruption.
Yes, I know, that will shock and surprise many of you. But it happens, even here, in planet-saving, refugee-welcoming, men-with-cervixes accepting Wales; where self-absorbed nobodies flit about the Bay out-mwahing each other as they await the next ishoo over which to drool and became instantly knowledgeable.
I must begin with a sizeable recap, because if you don’t understand what has gone before then you’ll have difficulty making sense of what’s happening now. And what is likely to happen in the future.
About three years ago I was contacted by people in central Powys who were fighting against the imposition of a wind farm. What resulted from that approach was Corruption in the wind? in November 2018.
The story began with the strange case of Hendy Wind Farm, not far from Llandrindod. To cut a long story short . . .
Planning permission was refused by Powys County Council in April 2017, at a meeting where there occurred an episode worth recounting. (And here I lift a section from my November 2018 offering.)
‘Back in 2017, on April 27 to be exact, there was a curious scene played out at a meeting of Powys County Council’s planning committee. At a point in the meeting after the committee had refused planning permission for Hendy and was about to discuss further conditions for Bryn Blaen, a woman who had been sitting with the developers tried to hand a note to one of the committee members.
The woman had to be forcefully ushered away. She was recognised as a lobbyist, working for Invicta Public Affairs, a company based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne . . .
It was Anna McMorrin, who had been recruited by Invicta in October 2016 for no reason other than she was a Labour Party insider, having joined the party when she was a student, and as a result of her subsequent career she knew exactly who to approach to get things done.
While she was working for Alun Davies they began an affair which resulted in both leaving their long-term partners. They now live together.
In the general election of June 2017 Anna McMorrin was elected Labour MP for Cardiff North.’
When McMorrin became an MP her profile obviously increased, and she could hardly be expected to raise the hopes of elderly councillors by slipping them billets-doux during planning committee meetings.
You’ll note that Griffiths says the justification for her overruling the planning inspector is that Hendy Wind Farm is a Development of National Significance (DNS).
Yet Wales already produces roughly twice as much electricity as we consume, with the extra going to England for no remuneration. So Hendy and all the other developments planned cannot be in the Welsh national interest. Which means they must be in the national interest of England or the UK.
Suggesting that Wales is being lumbered with an unfair and disproportionate number of the UK’s wind farms. Take Scotland out of the calculation and it becomes even more obvious that Wales is suffering an excessive number of wind turbines in order to protect English landscapes.
But it’s OK, because this exploitation is presented as little old Wales saving the planet.
It’s unusual for a minister to overrule the Planning Inspectorate. And because the Planning Inspectorate plays by the same DNS rule-book Griffiths’ decision made a number of people suspect that other factors or influences might have been at play.
And then . . . it was noticed that Labour insider David James Taylor had slipped on to the stage. Was he the replacement for Anna McMorrin?
In this website – put up I assume by objectors – Taylor’s company Moblake is named as working for the developers. Though as I’ll explain in a minute, there are two Moblake companies. And Taylor’s connection to those developers goes beyond Moblake.
‘Back in the early part of 2009 a bright lad in the Labour Party launched a website attacking his party’s political opponents. The site’s name cleverly linking the names of Labour icon Aneurin Bevan and national hero Owain Glyndŵr. As background music it even employed Tom Jones’s Delilah.
How we laughed!
But it all came unstuck and caused the bruvvers considerable embarrassment. First Minister Rhodri Morgan was particularly irked because Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones had been portrayed as a clown. In normal circumstances this wouldn’t have mattered, but Labour was in coalition with Plaid Cymru at the time.
Taylor had worked as a spad for Peter Hain when the Sage of the Serengeti was Secretary of State for Wales, and has also served as head cook and bottlewasher to former Labour Assembly Member Leighton Andrews.
Taylor joined the party while still in nappies and chaired his local constituency association before leaving kindergarten. In short, he is Labour through and through, and is very well connected in the Welsh branch of the UK Labour Party.
Additionally, he’s from the north east, and knows Lesley Griffiths personally.
WHAT A BUTE!
There is something of a changing of the guard in 2017/18. Not only do we see Taylor taking over from McMorrin as the Labour Party / lobbyist presence but those originally behind Hendy wind farm are overshadowed by new players.
The linkage between the new and the old can be found in the company originally named Windward Generation Ltd, then Bute Energy Ltd, and finally, RSCO 3750 Ltd.
The first two directors were Oliver James Millican and Lawson Douglas Steele, both using the address of the Edinburgh Solicitors’ Property Centre at 90a George Street. They were joined 6 days later by Steven John Radford of Hendy Wind Farm Ltd.
Radford left in December 2019 and in the same month Stuart Allan George joined. Millican, Steele, and George will dominate this narrative from now on through a galaxy of companies under the Bute Energy umbrella.
To help you make sense of it I offer this table, with working links, that shows the various companies involved at the outset of the Hendy scenario and how, since they appeared on the scene, Millican, Steele, and George seem to be planning wind farms – now renamed ‘energy parks’ – all over Wales.
Since April 2020 there have been 20 new companies. Most of them location specific. See how many you can identify.
Earlier I mentioned David Taylor’s two companies called Moblake. These are Moblake Ltd (formerly Moblake Wind Ventures Ltd), and Moblake Associates Ltd. Despite the suggestion in the name of the second, Taylor is the sole director of both.
The latest unaudited financial statement for Moblake Ltd (not to be confused with audited accounts) show a healthy balance of £765,000. The ‘Nature of business (SIC)’ says that this company deals in ‘specialised construction activities’.
The Moblake companies were formed a week before Lesley Griffiths wrote to the developers’ solicitor advising that the Hendy Wind Farm was going ahead. What a coincidence!
Which I find curious. For Taylor has neither qualifications nor experience in the field of construction. I’ve read somewhere that he took time out from being a political fixer to study cyber security in the USA.
To further the pretence of Welsh involvement in or benefit from these projects Bute has recruited or appointed a Welsh Advisory Board headed by former Labour MEP Derek Vaughan.
UPDATE 15.10.2021: We now learn from her entry on the Register of Interests that senior Labour MS Jenny Rathbone‘s partner is a member of the Advisory Board. I believe this ‘partner’ to be Derek Vaughan.
Since leaving the Metropolitan Police in 2002 John Uden has been involved in property security. His Linkedin profile says: ‘Six years as an area residential and commercial facilities manager. Two years as a city centre estate manager’.
Why would the Bute Energy crew need his expertise if their projects are just about remote and isolated wind turbines?
Having touched on Taylor’s background, it’s worth adding that Millican, Steele, and George have never driven a digger for Wimpey either. Their expertise is in real estate and equities.
Which raises a number of possibilities.
Until he discovered an interest in wind turbines Millican was a director of companies under the Parabola label. Companies such as Parabola Estate Holdings Ltd, operating out of the same London address as his more recent wind farm ventures.
A director of this and many other companies is 72-year-old Peter John Millican, who I assume to be the father of 40-year-old Oliver Millican.
Given that Millican junior is in ultimate control of all the wind farm companies I can’t help wondering whether he has really branched out on his own or whether he’s still working for daddy. Or perhaps fronting for someone else.
To summarise, we have the three musketeers from Caeredin, and their man on the ground in Wales, David Taylor, none of whom has any obvious background in engineering or renewables. Nor are they believed to be card-carrying members of the Greta Thunberg Fan Club.
Which suggests to me that they’re just in it for the money. With that money assured through being able to influence the ‘Welsh Government’.
All of which leads me to wonder if this lot will erect a single wind turbine.
Because having apparently secured the rights to so many sites all they need do on each is spend a few thousand for a planning application and, once that’s secured, each site becomes worth millions.
And we are talking tens of millions of pounds, possibly nine figures, for a total outlay of less than a million pounds, and without having to do any real work.
Not far from Hendy Wind Farm, nearer to Llangurig, we find Bryn Blaen. A modest affair of 6 turbines with a tip height of 100m and a potential output of just 14.1MW. This too was launched by Steven John Radford, the man behind the Hendy project.
The latest accounts (to 30 September, 2020) show ‘Tangible assets’ of £35,567,344. And this figure has been reduced by the estimated cost of removing the turbines when their days are done, and restoring the site.
Though I predict it will be a hard job getting those responsible to restore wind farm sites. We might see companies locating offshore, as we saw with those seeking to avoid cleaning up opencast coal sites. A famous example being Celtic Energy.
Together, the three for whom I’ve provided links, hold 1,647 directorships, and a hell of a lot of the companies are dissolved.
It might be worth keeping an eye on Bryn Blaen.
IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO DIFFERENT
Consider this: We have a ‘Welsh Government’, and it wants to fight climate change by covering Wales in wind turbines.
The obvious course to have taken would have been to build up a Welsh renewables industry. Welsh companies could have been formed, could have grown and prospered; created jobs, built up local skills, and put wealth into local economies.
Had this been done we could today have Welsh companies erecting wind turbines around the world. Using highly-skilled Welsh technicians and engineers. Bringing money back to Wales.
Instead, our colonial elite behaved like procurers, offering Wales up to foreign investors and companies for them to do with as they wished. The former sometimes based in tax havens, the latter often state owned, such as Sweden’s Vattenfall, which owns our largest wind farm, Pen-y-Cymoedd.
But it will get worse before it gets better. Because in some ways Bute Energy’s plans may represent the last hurrah for increasingly discredited onshore wind.
The next scam is tree planting. Which is why . . .
When independence is seen to approach the first priority must be to seal off Corruption Bay and block all escape routes. Then flood the place. Have gangs of likely lads at each exit to mercilessly deal with anyone trying to get out.
Because . . . can you imagine giving more power, and more money, to those we find in that nest of vermin? The jumped-up councillor politicians, their spads, and other hangers-on; the third sector parasites dreaming up new ‘problems’ they can use to bleed us dry; the (unregistered) lobbyists; the civil servants taking orders from London; the enviroshysters and other ‘influencers’ directing ‘Welsh Government’ policy.
They must all be swept away.
If independence offers nothing but devolution on steroids, then here’s one lifelong nationalist who will reject it. My independence, whilst being free of ideological pre-conditions, demands a fresh start, with a different model, and in a new place.
A new system that works for the Welsh people, not against us.
I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. POSTINGS WILL PROBABLY BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
As is so often the case, this week’s post began life with someone sending me a ‘this might interest you’ snippet. Sure enough, it did. Because once I started digging, all sorts of interesting information came to light.
As you’ll see, the CN report gives the name of no individual so, on the assumption that this ‘conservation retreat’ doesn’t run itself, and isn’t run by the beavers, I started my enquiries.
I soon realised that the story had also appeared in English dailies, and they had no hesitation in naming Sharon Girardi as the woman running Blaeneinion. So why would the local rag be so reticent to name her? Local weeklies survive by naming local people doing this and that. That’s why locals buy them.
Next step was to the Land Registry, to see who owns Blaeneinion. And now it gets really interesting. Here’s the LR title document. I suggest you open it in another tab and keep it open.
You’ll see, on the first page, that the property is owned by Endeavour Ltd, a company registered in Gibraltar. And that it was bought for £595,000. At the foot of page 2 we read that Endeavour Ltd bought Blaeneinion on November 13, 2008.
Next stop, Gibraltar.
Companies House in Gib is quite efficient and helpful, and so I had few problems in buying a company profile for Endeavour Ltd. Though, this being Gibraltar, the paperwork doesn’t tell us much. Here it is anyway.
We learn that Endeavour Ltd was set up April 14, 2008. Some 7 months before the purchase of Blaeneinion. Perhaps created specifically for that purpose. Maybe other properties were bought.
Two thousand shares were issued and they’re all held by Gibraltar International Trust Corporation Ltd (GITCO). An old entity, this; Incorporated in November 1968.
You will not be surprised to learn that GITCO appears in the Panama Papers, where it links with other exotic forms of commercial life such as Cathay Transport Ltd of the Bahamas.
But, thanks to Open Corporates, we also find GITCO linked with a new company nearer home.
Why would Gibraltar International Trust Corporation be named as a director for a small-scale property company operating out of the red brick office in Worcestershire of Hayward Wright Accountancy Group? Especially as this new company seems to be the only one in the UK with which GITCO is officially linked.
This sumptuous accommodation seems to be the base for Alistair Graeme Hayward-Wright, director of Friar Street Properties and many other companies. Though the latest accounts filed suggest that Hayward Wright Accountancy Group is a dormant company.
Back to Sharon Girardi. She’s not named on the LR title document as a leasee, so it’s reasonable to assume she’s the owner. As such, she must be Endeavour Ltd of Gibraltar. If not, then she’s fronting for someone.
The Daily Mail report tells us that, ‘She has previously been backed by the Forestry Commission to plant 34,000 native saplings at her Blaeneinion estate’. But the FC doesn’t operate in Wales, that role here is filled by Natural Resources Wales.
From the Mirror article we learn that Sharon Girardi kept the wolf from her door through Airbnb. Though as a rewilder, shouldn’t she have welcomed Mr Wolf?
The more I think about it, the more bizarre this whole story becomes. I can’t help feeling that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
It starts out with someone buying a remote property for £595,000 without need of a mortgage.
But they claim they can’t make ends meet with organic veg so they go in for Airbnb.
Which means that despite claims about conservation and rewilding, what we see at Blaeneinion is to all intents and purposes a tourism business.
How much has Natural Resources Wales or any other agency of the ‘Welsh Government’ paid to Endeavour Ltd or Sharon Girardi?
Assuming Sharon Girardi is Endeavour Ltd of Gibraltar, what is the ‘Welsh Government’s position on funding companies based in tax havens?
Come to that, why did Sharon Girardi feel the need to buy Blaeneinion by this roundabout route?
Though if she’s not the owner, then who is?
What is the connection between Endeavour Ltd and Friar Street Properties Ltd?
Not far from Blaeneinion there is a similar but larger venture, only this time, instead of beavers, it’s Konik horses . . . at the moment. And while beavers were once native to Wales I’m pretty sure our ancestors never saw these critters.
(It seems Wales has no native horses that could have been used.)
As the BBC report tells us: ‘Cambrian Wildwood wants to extend native woodland from 10 to 100 acres across its land using natural projects. It is looking after a 350 acre site which was acquired by Wales Wild Land Foundation (WWLF) on a 125-year lease from the Woodland Trust, which bought the land.’
On page 13 we read: ‘All other native species, including large herbivores, will be present. Some animals requiring cooperation and agreement across a large area of landscape will be longer term considerations: for example, wild boar, moose, bison and red deer.’
There are some pretty hefty beasts named there, with the potential to cause a great deal of damage. Will a bunch of enviro-dreamers, with no experience of domestic livestock let alone wild animals, really be able to restrict them to the 350 acres they manage?
On the same page we read: ‘For the foreseeable future, it is presumed that the large carnivores (bear, wolf and lynx) will not be present on the site, and it is considered beyond the scope of Cambrian Wildwood to promote these species.’
A confusing sentence, that. It starts off by suggesting that large carnivores might be a long-term ambition, with the concluding phrase hinting that it might be achieved by someone other than Cambrian Wildwood.
So which is it? And if these animals are out of the question, why mention them at all?
Bears strolling into Mach’ for a few pints of a Saturday night, and wolves taking down Mrs Evans on her way to the Co-op, should certainly get the old town rocking.
As I’ve said, Cambrian Wildwood is the operating name for the Wales Wild Land Foundation. So let’s turn our attention away from carnivores stalking the denizens of Machynlleth to a form of parasite to be found a-plenty in the nearby hills.
Which meant taking money from Welsh farmers and transferring it to what were euphemistically called ‘other rural activities’. In other words, those who had lobbied against farmers and expected to profit from the diverted funding.
It may have taken a while to start, but the funding is definitely flowing now. As you’ll see from the table above, ‘Welsh Government’ funding for the WWLF rose from nowt in y/e 31.03.2018 to £349,773 in y/e 31.03.2020.
If it keeps increasing at that rate they’ll soon be grazing thoroughbreds at Bwlch Corog!
And what’s the money for? Well, I suppose a cynic might say it’s for ‘looking after’ land that could just as easily look after itself. But nice work if you can get it.
And when ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson, former ‘Welsh Government’ Minister for Environment and Sustainability (2007 – 2011), is your Patron, then the funding from Corruption Bay tends to flow much more freely.
The long-term ambition seems to be to buy the 350 acres currently leased from the Woodland Trust and fit it into something bigger.
This piece from GlobalGiving talks of, ‘7,000 acres of native woodland, heathland and rivers will be restored. Animals like red squirrel, water vole, wild horse, deer and bison will be living in the wildwood.’
Actually, it’s 7,413 acres, or 3,000 hectares. And it seems to be part of the Dyfi Biosphere project. Explained here.
I wonder how much local people know about these plans.
But then, locals aren’t important. What matters is that those drawing up the plans have the ear of politicians and civil servants in Corruption Bay. And that they are united in wanting to replace farmers and other ‘obstructive’ indigenes in order to free up vast tracts of our country.
How many jobs and business opportunities will the Dyfi Biosphere create for Welsh people? Very few, if any. But I guarantee we’ll be paying for it.
In fact, I’m beginning to wonder how much we’ve already paid. Let me explain.
The land in question can be easily identified from various images supplied in assorted locations.
But before moving on, I just want to set out a bit more information and some more thoughts. See what you make of it all.
The first piece of evidence is the maps locating the land in question. Due to the recognisable outline it was easy enough to find the title documents on the Land Registry map search. Which is where it gets interesting.
Because I suppose the first question is – why did the Woodlands Trust buy land on which there were hardly any trees? The only sensible answer must be that they intended to plant trees.
Clearly, the lease was agreed before the purchase was made; and more than likely, it was that agreement that prompted the purchase. But let’s think about this a little more.
The Woodland Trust bought rough upland pasture, heath and bog. Which it immediately leased to the Wales Wild Land Foundation, for an unspecified amount. Though as we are clearly paying the lease we’re entitled to know much it is.
As the annual report for y/e 31.03.2020 tells us, WWLF expects to be getting a lot of money in future from the ‘Welsh Government’. This explains the increased income we saw in the table above.
Which means that . . .
. . . the ‘Welsh Government’ is giving hundreds of thousands of pounds, maybe millions, to the Wales Wild Land Foundation to improve land that belongs to an English organisation, the Woodland Trust. Unless of course, WWLF itself buys Bwlch Corog.
Either way, where is the benefit to Welsh people from throwing vast amounts of public funding at schemes like this? This kind of spending can only be justified on projects owned by and open to the Welsh public. It should not subside hippy fantasies.
‘Welsh Government’ pays one bunch of strangers to lease land from another bunch of strangers and increase the value of that holding, while simultaneously undermining Welsh farmers so as to free up more land for more strangers.
The overall strategy is pretty obvious.
And as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, this all links with that lebensraum venture, the Summit to Sea rewilding project. But the WWLF gang got cold feet when the public pressure mounted against Summit Sea.
I’ve written about this episode of colonialist arrogance more than once. So just type ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box.
Though from thinking about Blaeneinion, Bwlch Corog and other examples it looks as if Summit to Sea may still be going ahead, incrementally, without much fanfare.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT
The ‘progressive’ consensus in Corruption Bay is so wedded to reducing investment, so addicted to greenwash in all its forms, that what we Welsh need no longer figures in their calculations.
It may even be valid to compare Wales under devolution with post-colonial Africa. Where we see newly-independent countries ruled by crooks who encourage foreign exploitation but dress it up as ‘investment’ or some other bullshit term.
Because when you think about it, someone buying a holiday home is ‘investing’ in Wales.
These lies make leaders look good but work against the interests of the people they claim to represent. That seems to be the situation both in Africa and Wales.
Devolution has been a disaster. Not just by the yardsticks of health, wealth and education. But also because we own less of Wales today than we did in 1999.
That’s a sobering thought; and no amount of airy-fairy gestures and ‘look at us!’ virtue signalling can disguise that we are becoming strangers in our own country.
Corruption Bay, including those we elect, is conspiring in this displacement.
Blaeneinion, Bwlch Corog, OPDs, Summit to Sea, etc., etc., tell us the truth about Wales today; who the system really benefits, and where we Welsh fit in.
I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. POSTINGS WILL PROBABLY BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
This is a follow-up to last week’s post, ‘Corruption Bay and a tale of Cymrophobia‘. You’ll remember that we looked at how Labour Party insiders were paid to produce reports that would guide more ‘inclusive’ policy at the commissioning bodies, the Arts Council of Wales and the National Museum.
One of these submissions, from the mysterious Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, painted a picture of Wales as some kind of Hell on Earth where ‘creatives’ of a non-Caucasian pigmentation are brutally discriminated against.
It was reminiscent of the hysteria I’ve been writing about in connection with YesCymru. Where some of those involved in the failed Woke-Left takeover wanted us to believe that ‘women with penises’ are being butchered on Welsh streets by mobs of transphobes.
What I found revealing was that neither those suggesting rampant transphobia or a whites-only arts scene are prepared to debate. Any dialogue must start from a blind acceptance of their ‘facts’.
A few tit-bits have come to light since the previous post went out. For example, someone drew my attention to the metadata naming authors for the three reports.
Such as the reports being submitted in MS Word or some other format and the Arts Council converting them to PDF.
If that is not the explanation, then what is?
Despite the ‘authorship’, there is no real issue with the Richie Turner Associates’ report because the contributors are named in the report.
It’s the third report, from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, that’s causing concern. Because no individual or contributor is named anywhere.
Anyway, in the hope of helping me make sense of the bigger picture, a few people made suggestions. Pointed me in certain directions. So off I went.
NATURE OF THE BEAST
It’s fair to say that Amgueddfa Cymru was almost a ‘passenger’ in this exercise, so I’m ruling them out to focus on The Arts Council of Wales.
The current Chair is Phil George, who I speculated was a Labour Party supporter. His immediate predecessor in the post, from 2007 – 2016, was David Burton Smith, whose political leanings have never been in doubt.
For Dai Smith – father of unsuccessful challenger to Jeremy Corbyn, Owen Smith – is another creature of the left. One of those historians who, like Neil Kinnock, believes Wales isn’t worthy of study until the Industrial Revolution and the creation of a proletariat.
Smith worked for the BBC in Cardiff, from 1994, as, ‘Head of Broadcast (English Language). He was responsible for commissioning programmes on the arts and in drama and has also presented award-winning documentaries on the people and culture of south Wales’.
Through a socialist prism, of course.
An interesting insight into colonial Wales, this. For while the Labour Party rails against Tory cronyism, Old Boy networks and the rest, the Buttybond practises something very similar in Wales.
And the Tories are more than happy to let them do it. I’ll explain why a bit later.
Phil George has a long history with The National Theatre of Wales (NTW). In fact, he was one of the founding directors on September 9, 2008. He seems to have left NTW in March 2016, around the time he was appointed Chair of the Arts Council.
I’m told the National Theatre of Wales was always well favoured in Cardiff. One source reports: ‘”BBC Wales” used and uses every opportunity to promote this company. Hardly any arts documentaries are done but in its formative years, 2010, it commissioned a 30 minute advertorial dressed up as a documentary on a National Theatre production’.
It was thanks to Phil George and NTW that Abdul Shayek of London got his foot in the Welsh public funding door. For Shayek’s Linkedin page tells us that from April 2011 until April 2013 he was a Creative Associate with NTW.
Shayek then branched out to form FIO, a BAME theatre group. Though apparently reliant on funding from the Welsh public purse this didn’t stop FIO taking plays to India. And Shayek ‘representing’ FIO at symposia and the like in Sri Lanka and Australia.
Nice work if you can get it! And especially if someone else is paying.
Another source tells me FIO got some £400,000 in funding over 3 or 4 three years. (It might have been more.) Which pays for quite a few trips to Oz and old Serendip.
Going back to Shayek’s Linkedin bio we see that he left FIO in August 2020 to join Tara Theatre. No, this has nothing to do with halls and High Kings, it’s yet another ‘ethnically diverse’ theatre group. This time in London.
I’m not sure of the reasons for Shayek’s departure, or where this leaves his creation, FIO. The website suggests it’s still going, and the Charity Commission entry implies he’s still involved.
Whatever the relationship between Abdul Shayek and FIO he still appears to be involved with the arts scene in Wales. And pissing off quite a few people with his involvement in the Wales Culture and Race Taskforce (WCRT).
Which was set up in June 2020 to, ‘challenge the lack of diversity within the arts in Wales and demand systemic change’.
I’m not sure if this was Abdul Shayek’s brainchild or if he just got involved somehow. Certainly, his creation FIO was holding the money donated to WCRT by other arts groups. Said to be £20,000.
You’ll get a flavour of the dispute from the Critically Speaking blog of Jafar Iqbal. (A supporter of Leyton Orient football club.) In particular, read the lengthy comment from ‘pledging organisations’.
If you want to know more about the role envisaged for the Wales Culture and Race Taskforce then you should read this document prepared for the ‘Welsh Government’.
Strangely, in just 452 words this document manages to use the term ‘white-led’ three times. In the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union ‘report’ we encounter the phrase ‘white-led’ 10 times.
When checking the metadata for the document I’ve just linked to, I found the author named as Letty Clarke. So obviously, I wondered who she might be.
You will not be surprised to learn that Letty is also from England, but since January 2020 she has been Curator of Public Programmes at Artes Mundi Prize Ltd. From the Artes Mundi website we learn:
‘Artes Mundi Prize Ltd is a registered non-profit charity that annually relies on support from individuals, corporations, sponsors, trusts and foundations to fund the costs of all our programmes, alongside our core public revenue from Arts Council of Wales and Cardiff City Council’.
The name may sound like a character from a forgotten novel set in 19th century New England, but Letty is of the here and now. And, unfortunately, the ‘here’ is Wales.
As many of you will know, investigations are continuing into the death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, who died some hours after leaving police custody. But Letty Clarke, after being in Wales for a short time, has already made her mind up.
For according to her Hassan was a victim of ‘police brutality’ and ‘state violence in Wales’. What the hell does she mean by ‘state violence’? There is no Welsh state!
Let me explain the relationship to you, Letty . . . Your country robs my country and by way of compensation doles out money to those buffoons down Corruption Bay, who in turn distribute far too much of that cash to people like you and your friends.
Which means that, one way and another, most Welsh people get screwed twice over.
Up to now in this painful trawl through the ‘Welsh’ arts scene I don’t think we’ve met anyone who is actually Welsh, apart from a few cocks atop the dung heap.
Let’s see if we have any more luck in the next section.
THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR THE WELSH ARTS ANTI-RACIST UNION
In December 2019 the Wales Audit Office produced a snappily-entitled report, ‘Well-being of Future Generations Increasing Participation in Areas with Under-developed Reach of the Arts – Arts Council of Wales’. You can read it here.
The Introduction says: ‘This document has been prepared for the internal use of the Arts Council of Wales’. Reminding us that this is an example of the additional public money wasted since the implementation of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, and the creation of the post of Future Generations Commissioner, with of course, a whole new department.
The job of Commissioner was given to Labour time-server Sophie Howe. She had previously worked under Alun Michael, the former Labour MP and now Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.
Under ‘Contents’ we read: ‘In its efforts to increase participation, inclusion and engagement in areas with under-developed reach of the arts, the Arts Council of Wales (Arts Council) is demonstrating commitment to the sustainable development principle but it recognises the need to further embed the five ways of working.’
Clearly, the Audit Office looked into inclusion in the arts, and made recommendations to the Arts Council. So why, just six months later, did the ACW spaff another £50,000 (minimum) doing what looks like exactly the same thing?
(Note that the Sell2Wales notice I link to is from June 2020. Which is when the Wales Culture and Race Taskforce was set up.)
This duplication produced the three reports dealt with in the previous post, including the submission from the mysterious Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union.
This digression takes us nowhere nearer identifying the person or persons behind the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. In fact, it’s difficult to get any handle on the WAARU.
One mention I did find was on what I assume to be a podcast. It seems to be called Mostyn, or Lumin, the latter described as, ‘an artist-run radio and publisher led by Sadia Pineda Hameed and Beau W Beakhouse’.
If you scroll down to the bios of others involved, you’ll see this for the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. But again, no name.
I’d like to be able to tell you that Hameed is from Froncysyllte and Beakhouse from Llangyfelach, but alas . . .
Beau tells us: ‘I’m originally from Bournemouth but moved around . . . I come from a nature & craft background . . . My parents were self-employed gardeners, who then went into woodcraft . . . Eventually, I managed to study English Literature at Cardiff University’.
Hameed: ‘I’m from London. I also came to Cardiff to study English Literature at uni and decided to stay ‒ in part because I didn’t really have the money to pursue the arts back in London, but also because I really liked how open the arts scene in Wales is.’
Yes indeedy; the ‘arts scene’ in Wales is open to just about anybody . . . artistic talent is unnecessary, and knowledge of Wales undesirable.
That we are no nearer fingering who wrote the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union report is understandable, given its reception. But the Arts Council of Wales must know because the WAARU was paid well to insult us.
Which is why I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to the ACW.
But over and above that, this situation of strangers being paid to insult us could only happen in the peculiar circumstances of devolution, which sees politicians and others who superficially oppose each other agree when it comes to Wales, and the Welsh.
UPDATE: Since publishing this piece I have received feedback, including someone drawing my attention to The Future Generations Report 2020. On page 355 we read what you see in the panel:
I have two points to make.
First, ‘learning Welsh on the job’ sounds like a good idea, until you realise it’s often a ruse to give jobs to people most of whom will do no more than go through the motions of taking a few Welsh lessons.
Mark James, former chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, would be a great example of this scam in practise.
Second, The Future Generations Commissioner in her 2020 report is quoting Race Alliance Wales (RAW), a body formally launched on December 19, 2019. How the hell did a newly-constituted body become so influential so quickly?
The answer is that those behind RAW are based almost exclusively in Cardiff and well connected in Corruption Bay.
While organisations elsewhere in Wales, established for far longer, representing many more people, but outside the Bay Bubble, are ignored.
This is not healthy; this is not democratic; this should not be the Wales any of us wants to see.
But it’s the Wales we live in.
FURTHER UPDATE: Someone else has been in touch with an intriguing suggestion. Which is, that when an anonymous Twitter account is launched the author is often to be found among the early followers.
THE BIT AT THE END WHERE COLOMBO PUFFS ON HIS CIGAR AND . . .
Picking up again on the shared motivations, what I’m hinting at is that these otherwise squabbling interests agree that Wales must be carefully ‘managed’.
Which is why what passes for entertainment on television and elsewhere is banal and superficial. Welsh politics, social issues, and other specifically Welsh matters (when dealt with in English) are often quarantined in programmes broadcast at awkward times . . . which results in hardly anyone watching them.
The same applies more widely, in the fields so copiously manured by the Arts Council. For example, there’s not a hope in Hell of Wales having its own Abbey Theatre.
We are at a stage now where if two plays are in competition for funding, one about Welsh villages being destroyed by excessive tourism, the other about the absence of obstetric facilities for low caste birthing persons in Tamil Nadu, then you can predict with certainty which will enjoy an opening night.
Researching this piece I stumbled on an hour-long lecture by former Arts Council Chair Dai Smith, built around writer Raymond Williams. Smith is speaking at a ‘Cultural Democracy Workshop’ in November 2020.
This was of course delivered at a time when the three reports commissioned by the Arts Council were being prepared. Yes, it was all happening around that time.
Smith makes the point that in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, when Williams was at the height of his intellectual and creative powers, his writing was framed by what he saw as a class struggle. But things have moved on.
Most importantly, the political left in Europe and North America has lost the working class. Which is why Marxism is now promoted through race, environmentalism and gender. And the harder the left pushes these the more it alienates the working class.
No one living just thirty years ago could have envisioned the crazy situation we have reached today. And few political activists of the left under the age of 40 can believe that their ideological predecessors idolised those they regard as stupid, racist, transphobic, climate denying Brexiteers.
The sons and grandsons of Marxist miners are fascist white van men!
A hazy understanding of Marxism re-interpreted by Black Lives Matter almost certainly lies behind the report submitted by the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. It also explains the report’s acceptance by the Arts Council.
But why would the Old Etonians in Westminster and their civil servant alumni of lesser schools want to push such drivel? The answer is that they share with the Woke-Left establishment in Corruption Bay a desired outcome.
This explains the funding and other encouragement for people from around the world to come here, take funding that should go to Welsh arts, and then call us racist.
London likes the ‘The Welsh are racist’ message because it explains why we oppose holiday homes, and resent being colonised. (It’s why the Telegraph used the WAARU report.) Corruption Bay modifies it to read, ‘Nationalism is racist’ because that can slander those suggesting there is a better way for Cymru than devolution’s cronyism and exploitation.
Together they tell us why the ‘Welsh’ arts scene today is a revolting mess of talentless dreamers and grant-grabbing shysters. Overwhelmingly alien; with some of those involved positively racist in their attitudes towards us.
I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. POSTINGS WILL PROBABLY BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
This post is about the findings from surveys commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru. The project was entitled, ‘Widening Engagement’.
These reports, or certainly one of them, prompted old Shippo at Llais y Sais to give it something close to the, ‘We Are At War With Germany’ treatment. (Available here in pdf format.)
Front page lead continued on inside page, completed with a full page of grovelling from the white supremacist running-dogs of the patriarchal imperialist-colonialist system.
“At the end of June 2020 Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales advertised a tender to undertake a series of in-depth research conversations. Our aim was to widen engagement with communities we consistently fail to engage in our work. We received 34 submissions and after a detailed selection process and interviews we decided to appoint three organizations to undertake three very different studies.”
The reports from the three successful tenders have been submitted and are now available online. They are from: Re:cognition, Richie Turner Associates, and the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union.
So let’s look at them in that order.
The first problem I have with these people is the name. Let me explain.
There is a company Re:Cognition, with qualified medical people involved in specialist mental health services. And an annual turnover in excess of £10m. But this was not the company employed by Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru.
For as the report tells us, on the very first page, its authors are Jon Luxton and Lu Thomas, two Labour Party stalwarts from Penarth. (Where Luxton was once mayor.) And wouldn’t you know it – Lu Thomas has appeared on this blog! In ‘Plaid Cymru’s enemy within‘ (scroll down a bit).
Lu Thomas is big in Pride Cymru, and something of a trans fanatic, believing that ‘women with penises’ are being persecuted. Everywhere. By everybody.
Here’s her Linkedin profile. Where you’ll see that she claims to be a director of a company called Cognition.
The ‘Cognition’ name was also used by Luxton and Thomas in Cognition Associates. Which produced a website where the latest ‘News’ is from July 2013. Cognition Associates was never registered with Companies House.
And now there’s Re:cognition Wales. Or rather, there’s a website. Note that Thomas and Luxton use a lower case ‘c’, whereas the ‘real’ company spells it ‘Re:Cognition’. But again, this Luxton-Thomas company is not registered with Companies House.
One Lu Thomas company that was registered with Companies House was Pitch Consult Ltd. Incorporated July 15, 2019. Struck off January 5, 2021. No accounts were ever filed.
What I found interesting about Pitch was that the other two directors were Mitchell Theaker and Pearleen Sangha, who you may remember from their appearances on this blog. They were Labour councillors in Swansea; part of the student intake needed to keep up the bruvverly numbers.
Jon Luxton has also been rubbing shoulders with celebrities lately. For listed among the directors in Sound Progression Ltd, along with Luxton, we find Cian Ciaran, of Super Furry Animals, and late of YesCymru. This company was Incorporated June 10, 2019.
Given Luxton’s record its time can not be long.
A glimpse of what Thomas and Luxton do is given in this snippet from the NHS. They work for the Labour Party, in its various forms: ‘Welsh Government’, Cardiff Council, etc.
They also work for bodies reliant on ‘Welsh Government’ funding. Reminiscent of the jobs found for the nephews of made men.
To understand how it operates imagine a phone call from Corruption Bay or City Hall: ‘Oh, hello, Lu, love, how’s it going . . . listen, we want you to do one of your surveys, yeah, here are the findings we want from you’.
And this is why no ‘survey’ conducted by Thomas and Luxton should be given any credence. They are just Labour Party apparatchiks.
The worry should be that these beneficiaries of Labour cronyism get so much work. Work paid for by the public purse. It’s naked corruption.
But it also explains why they were one of the 3 out of 34 applicants chosen by the Arts Council and the Museum to do the ‘research’.
Page 10 of the Thomas and Luxton report tells us (rather clumsily): ‘To note: only one respondent namechecked the Eisteddfod indicating poor reach into this community of mainly English speakers. this lack of Welsh Language art and culture was also demonstrated in the responses to all other relevant questions.’
I wonder if this ‘finding’ will be used in future by the ‘Welsh Government’ to deny or reduce funding to Welsh language organisations, events, and projects, or in other ways be used to undermine the language?
The quote above, from page 12 of the report, about sums up what Thomas and Luxton have to say – ‘Do what our friends in the Welsh Government tell you’.
RICHIE TURNER ASSOCIATES
Whoever these are, they compiled, ‘A research report looking at the reasons why D/deaf, disabled, learning disabled and neurodiverse people do not attend arts events or visit National Museums’ Wales or attend very infrequently’.
While that may have been the ostensible reason for recruiting Richie Turner, his Linkedin profile makes his political leanings very clear. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a colourful Linkedin header.
Or one less relevant to Wales.
Richie Turner is of course another Corruption Bay insider. His jobs and appointments listed on Linkedin suggest someone with strong Labour Party connections. For no one in Wales without Labour Party connections could dream of a CV like that.
So what does the Richie Turner Associates report have to say? Though before you read it, I should say that Richie Turner Associates is not a company or a partnership, just an ad hoc group of his friends and, well, associates.
Richie lives in Hay-on-Wye, which is handy for the books, and the festival.
Those who helped him compile his report, also live in the south east. In fact they all seem to live in Cardiff and Gwent. One of them, Lyndy Cooke, is a former director of the Hay Festival. Nice.
Though the report tells us (page 4): ‘Our research engaged with people across all regions of Wales.’
Possibly. But how well do Richie Turner and his gang know these far-flung ‘regions’?
It might also be asked how well Turner knows his associates. For the woman named throughout the report as ‘Mary Allen’ is surely Mary Allan.
There’s little to take issue with in the Richie Turner Associates report. It’s just a litany of complaints followed by a few recommendations. And concluding with some comic book-style illustrations!
Flicking through it a few things caught my jaundiced eye.
This, for example (page 27): “Arty farty type messaging on advertising, such as Gothic and trendy typefaces also make it hard to read from a few feet away in a wheelchair”.
Who could argue with that?
Whereas I found this a little confusing (page 30): “Some places like museums are too big, with too many people. I need less people to be able to go”.
We obviously can’t have empty museums. Museums that attract no visitors will be closed.
All in all, this contribution from Richie Turner Associates may be regarded as the bland filling between two very unappetising slices of bread.
THE WELSH ARTS ANTI-RACIST UNION (WAARU)
It’s difficult to know what to make of this one. For a start – what or who is the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union?
I found a Twitter account. I think we can assume that it was started in the period of hysteria following the killing of George Floyd, some 5,000 miles away.
In fact, the WAARU Twitter account started up a week or so after the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru decided to launch their ‘research conversations’ at the end of June 2020. What an amazing coincidence!
The first tweet was on July 6, 2020, followed by a flurry of tweets that ended on August 11. There was nothing then until a retweet on Oct 20. A further retweet in November, another in December. Then nothing until April 18 and 19. A final retweet on May 14, attacking Israel, and nothing since.
Why hasn’t the Twitter account rejoiced in WAARU’s participation in this exercise? I find this very odd.
We can reasonably assume that the WAARU leans politically to the left, maybe quite far to the left.
There is no website for the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. Just a Gmail address on the Twitter account. So I wrote on Friday morning. I’m still waiting for a reply.
It suggests that the Welsh language is racist and the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru are both run by white supremacists.
There are ten references in the report to these organisations being ‘white-led’. But in a country that is 95% or more white does the writer expect them to be non-white-led? That would make them grotesquely unrepresentative.
There are also references to Black Lives Matter, reminding us that the report is very much of the post-Floyd era. Summed up perhaps with this paragraph from page 24: ‘One participant asked how Amgueddfa Cymru could see itself as combating poverty, when it’s very purpose involved displaying objects from countries whose wealth had been plundered through colonialism.’
No, that is not its ‘very purpose’. What a stupid and insulting thing to say! If Amgueddfa Cymru has a ‘very purpose’ then it’s to celebrate the history of Wales.
But that is not atypical. For a number of times this report comes across as either ignorant of recent Welsh history, or misinformed, or just mischievous. Here’s another example, from page 18.
There is no ‘Welsh Census’, it’s organised by the Office for National Statistics in London. Not so long ago you couldn’t even describe yourself as Welsh on the census form. That’s why I was one of those protesting before the 2001 census.
But the writer of the WAARU report presents the census as more evidence of structural racism within Wales!
Having mentioned the writer, I ask again – who is it? Because there is no name mentioned anywhere in the report. It is anonymous. So why was it accepted? Or to go back to the beginning, why was the WAARU commissioned to write a report?
Are we to believe that out of the 31 rejected applicants there wasn’t one better qualified!
On page 36 we read this passage: ‘Marginalised artists and art workers should receive support to learn different languages, in addition to Welsh. This additional support is necessary because Welsh language policies in current applications can exclude Black and non-Black people of colour’.
What ‘different languages’ are needed in Wales?
The writer is clearly ignorant of the fact that many ‘Black and non-Black people of colour’ were brought up speaking Welsh, or else have learnt to speak Welsh.
And while there’s solidarity implied with the term ‘Black and non-Black people of colour’ this solidarity is not consistent. Because the Twitter account suggests that non-Black People of Colour might be little better than Uncle Toms.
Finally, most reports end with findings and recommendations. The report from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union ends with ‘Our List of Demands’. It sounds almost threatening. Like a kidnappers’ note.
Whoever wrote this report may have legitimate grievances, but they’ve gone about airing those grievances in entirely the wrong way.
The national institutions of Wales exist to reflect and to serve the culture, history, identity, and people of Wales. The Welsh language is central to Welsh identity, and for many centuries served as the identifier of Welshness.
Maybe the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ can also remember that.
UPDATE 24.08.2021: Checking the metadata of the three published reports gives Jon Luxton as the author of the Re:cognition report, which is what I would expect. Him or Lu Thomas.
But listed as author for the other two reports are Arts Council of Wales employees.
There are a number of possible explanations for this. Maybe the original documents were converted from MS Word to PDF format at the Arts Council. If so, why? Those chosen to produce these reports were well paid to do so. Was this work at the Arts council deducted from their fees?
Or is there another explanation?
The first report we looked at was produced by Labour Party insiders who carry out research for their comrades. The ‘findings’ are often used to justify legislation and other measures that the ‘Welsh Government’ has already decided on.
I wonder if the ‘Welsh Government’ would pay me to do a survey into the third sector, or housing associations, or tourism . . . or even the ‘Welsh Government’?
The second report told us nothing really except that the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru are doing a bad job when it comes to catering for those with disabilities.
Though much of the feedback was about venues, over which the Arts Council may have little or no control. And as for ’empty museums’ . . .
But that will be overlooked because the report gives the ‘Welsh Government’ another stick with which to beat both organisations.
The third report is just a chip-on-the-shoulder, ‘where’s our grants?’ diatribe. To give it credit for being anything more would be to legitimise the anti-Welsh prejudice running through the report.
Whoever commissioned this report must have known in advance the kind of submission they could expect from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. Which means that the WAARU was paid to produce exactly that kind of report.
Let’s remind ourselves who heads the two organisations involved.
Phillip George of the Arts Council was previously,‘ Creative Director of the award-winning production company Green Bay Media which specialised in high-end documentary projects for broadcasters in Wales’.
He left Green Bay on March 31, 2016, when he was appointed to the Arts Council. At that time, Green Bay had 14 outstanding charges (loans, etc) with S4C and Finance Wales.
Phillip George re-joined Green Bay on June 30, 2017, as secretary, though I suppose he could have been acting as a director.
On January 14, 2019, a Declaration of Solvency was made and a liquidator appointed. Green Bay was finally struck off May 19, 2020. With George still listed as secretary.
Were those debts really cleared, or were they written off, or was some other arrangement agreed? And why was Phillip George allowed to re-join Green Bay while serving as Chair of the Arts Council?
I don’t know Phillip George’s politics, but here he is with former Labour MP Kim Howells. Does he share Howells’ attitudes to the Welsh language, devolution / independence?
Prior to taking up the post Amgueddfa Cymru chief Roger Lewis was CEO at that most BritNat and Unionist of organisations, the Welsh Rugby Union.
It’s the third report, from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union that’s getting the media attention, and quite rightly so, so let’s give it a few final thoughts.
Although the report ostensibly deals with the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru, by questioning the role of the Welsh language and perceptions of Welsh identity its impact goes well beyond those two institutions.
Doing it from an ethnic minority perspective is clever, because attacking Welsh identity from a BritNat position invariably generates resistance. It’s much smarter to use the race angle, and maybe get some liberals and socialists onside.
Which makes it difficult to pin down the origin of this survey. Because if someone is trying to introduce Critical Race Theory into Welsh public life, for the disruptive effect it guarantees, then that source could be Marxist left or Unionist right.
Whatever the source, if enough people can be persuaded that defending Welshness is ‘racist’, then this will impact negatively on the growing interest in Welsh independence. The ‘racist’ slander can even be used against those demanding action on holiday homes.
Where does it end?
Maybe campaigning against Tryweryn was ‘racist’. And perhaps it’s ‘racism’ that sustains our national sporting teams. Why not just merge with England and join in singing GSTQ at Wembley and Twickers?
No one should be publicly funded to question a nation’s existence. Both bodies must explain why they chose the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union.
We, who’ve paid for it, are entitled to know who wrote the WAARU report.
Finally, perhaps the real lesson from this fiasco is that Wales must have independence. Not just from England, but also from Cardiff Bay.
I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
I am indebted to a source for this fascinating story of Labour cronyism, concerning individuals who have previously appeared on this august site.
When my source mentioned the name Luke Holland Jac’s aural appendages went all a-quiver. For Holland was one of those named as being implicated in the shameful campaign against Carl Sargeant. A campaign that resulted in Sargeant’s suicide in November, 2017.
“I’m told that following Sargeant’s death, Christina Rees, MP for Neath and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, had to be forced by other Welsh MPs to make a statement of condolence. Because, I’m told, she, or perhaps her political adviser, former Cardiff councillor, Luke Holland, had been briefing against Carl Sargeant, and that the briefings continued against former AM Leighton Andrews, Sargeant’s friend and defender.
There was outrage within the Labour Party over the behaviour of Rees and Holland, which the bruvvers managed to keep within the party (easy given the absence of a Welsh media) but even so, Holland’s position became untenable and he left, or was forced to leave, Ms Rees’ office.”
Carl Sargeant died on November 7; Holland was forced out soon after, and then, on November 30, Holland did what all political insiders in his position do – he formed a PR outfit. This one named Cathod Du Consultancy. (Cathod du being Welsh for ‘black cats’.)
And Holland was soon picking up work from his old boss, Christina Rees. According to TheyWorkForYou Rees has slipped £33,164.95 Holland’s way since he branched out on his own. (Though I may have missed some payments.)
But those ‘accounts’ are dated November 30, 2019, so maybe things have picked up since then. Certainly, that is what’s being suggested.
If we go back to the Cathod Du website, on the Our Clients page we see Learning & Work Cymru. (Though why isn’t Christina Rees MP listed among the clients?) This is the name used by the local manifestation of The National Learning and Work Institute (NLWI), with offices in London and Leicester. The Cardiff office was established in 2016.
The ‘National’ in the name refers of course to England. And even though it now covers two nations, no one saw any need to change it.
Running the Cardiff branch we find Dave Hagendyk. Some readers may recognise the name. For as his Linkedin profile reminds us, Hagendyk is another Labour insider. In fact, from November 2010 until he left to take up his new post with the NLWI in March 2017, Hagendyk was General Secretary of ‘Welsh’ Labour.
The figures I’ve been given – which my source obtained from a Freedom of Information request to the ‘Welsh Government’ – tell that from the time it set up its branch office in Cardiff NLWI started receiving money from the ‘Welsh Government’. Which, if nothing else, tells a lot about devolution in Wales.
Rather than set up a new body suited to Wales, serving Wales, and answerable to Wales, the Labour Party preferred to invite in and fund an English organisation. All it asked in return was that the money given was used to provide sinecures for Labour time-servers. Pure cronyism.
And make no mistake, it is just a branch office in Cardiff. Using ‘Cymru’ in the name is just deception. The website gives Companies House number 02603322, which is the company number for the England-headquartered organisation.
Despite claiming to have a distinct Welsh presence, and despite being in receipt of ‘Welsh Government’ funding, the National Learning and Work Institute maintains no separate accounts for its Welsh operations.
And we are not talking small change here. Between setting up in Wales in 2016 and April 2020 the National Learning and Work Institute received £2,080,035.90. It’s probably closer to three million now.
Thus far, we have established that Holland and Hagendyk are both Labour insiders, Holland’s company Cathod Du Consulting counts Hagendyk’s National Learning and Work Institute as a client, and of course, the NLWI gets oodles and oodles of Welsh public money.
What could better explain both how devolution has been corrupted and also how the Labour Party operates in Wales? But it gets even cosier!
If you compare the two Linkedin profiles you’ll see that when Hagendyk was General Secretary of ‘Welsh’ Labour he had for a while as his Head of Press and Broadcasting none other than Luke Holland.
And then, when Hagendyk left for NLWI, you’ll never guess who replaced him as General Secretary of Welsh Labour – Luke Holland’s wife, Louise Magee!
Magee is yet another of those who came to Wales to study, got involved in student politics, and then stayed to started climbing the greasy Labour pole. A career punctuated by stints helping sister parties in the Antipodes.
Does she know much about Wales? I doubt it. But that may suit the Labour Party perfectly. For the less she knows the less likely she is to question or contradict her political masters.
Where would ‘Welsh’ Labour be without the regular supply of English student careerists from our universities to actually run the party? And of course, the third sector?
So, let’s recap. The ‘Welsh Government’ gives millions to the English National Learning and Work Institute; money which is then used to provide what all concerned hope will be mistaken for real jobs; while also keeping disgraced Luke Holland out of the local food bank.
And to cap it all, and show his gratitude, Holland then sponsored the kit of Hagendyk’s daughter’s football team.
The ones who should really be thanked are us, the Welsh public. For this is just public money being recycled.
Or, to put it another way, what passes for the Welsh economy under Labour.
My source appended questions to the tract, and here they are:
Given the huge sums of public money given by the Welsh Government to Learning and Work Institute (L&W Cymru) – over £2 million over four years, there are questions to be answered about transparency and ‘cronyism’ concerning the relationship between L&W Cymru (Dave Hagendyk) and Cathod Du (Luke Holland).
Cathod Du state on their website that L&W Cymru are their “clients”. How much were Cathod Du paid by L&W Cymru for this work and was this work tendered for – given how much public funding L&W Cymru receive each year?
Is the Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, aware of the close personal relationship that exists between his Director in Wales and his client, Luke Holland’s company, Cathod Du?
Will the Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, disclose how much L&W Cymru paid Cathod Du for their services and whether this work is ongoing?
Given the personal relationship between Hagendyk and Holland, is the Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, aware that his Director in Wales is in receipt of a sponsorship donation to fund his private hobby – a donation from a company that refers to L&W Cymru as one its “clients”?
What guidance and oversight does the Learning and Work Institute give to L&W Cymru in relation to ensuring there is maximum transparency about how it conducts its financial affairs and how its spends its money and there is sufficient separation and no overlap between how its employees conduct themselves professionally and privately? In other words – would Dave Hagendyk have received sponsorship from Cathod Du for a private concern (hobby) had Cathod Du not been clients of L&W Cymru?
Considering the large sums of public money given by the Welsh Labour Government to L&W Cymru (year-on-year), what conditions are imposed by the Welsh Government to recipients of such funding, to ensure there is maximum transparency about how the money is spent – and to avoid any allegations or perception of ‘cronyism’?
What is the view of the Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Compton in relation to this matter? Would he be satisfied there was sufficient transparency about the financial relationship (both private and public) between L&W Cymru and Cathod Du given the huge amounts of public money L&W Cymru receives from the Welsh Government each year?
Call me a cynical old bastard (and many do!) but nothing here surprises me. This is how devolution has operated for 22 years – a vast trough for Labour insiders and hangers-on, regularly topped up with public funding.
Devolution serves the Labour Party but the Labour Party does not serve Wales. The areas that vote Labour are taken for granted, while the areas that don’t vote Labour are ignored or punished.
What have we got to show for devolution?
A third sector so big it can be seen from outer space. Thousands of otherwise unemployable misfits jostling for their hand-outs. An ugly nest of back-stabbers briefing against each other in Corruption Bay.
Wales deserves better.
Devolution has failed. We can either move on to independence or just do away with devolution altogether. Either way, the only real loser will be the Labour Party and the parasitic networks attached to the beast.
Don’t be fooled by talk of ‘home rule’ or ‘federalism’. It doesn’t matter how much lipstick is put on the pig of devolution it will remain a pig.
Pigs and troughs – what an epitaph for devolution!
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I had planned another piece on May’s Senedd elections, but my plans changed when I learned of a big investment promised for the capital of the Cheshire Riviera . . . which the indigenes insist on calling Abersoch.
To accompany this new story I have a big update on Llanbedr International Airport complemented by reports from Gwynfryn, and Bryn Llys (aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’).
Verily, our cup runneth over!
I’ve written about Llanbedr Airfield a few times before. Try ‘Come fly with me‘, from January.
The Llanbedr site was bought by the Welsh Development Agency 31 March, 2006 from the Ministry of Defence, for £700,000. Here’s the title document. It was then leased, 31 May, 2012, for 125 years, for £887,000 plus VAT, to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP (since renamed Snowdonia Aerospace LLP). Here’s the title document.
Now that might seem like a good bit of business, but it’s not. In fact, it’s one of those deals that makes a mockery of devolution.
Those clowns in Corruption Bay were forced to buy a site they didn’t want, and for which they had no use. They then had to pay for repairs and maintenance, keeping the place spruce until their masters in London produced favoured tenants.
As for the lease, it was paid for by the Ministry of Defence and The Welsh Ministers. Though for some reason only the MoD is shown on the title document. We need to go to the Companies House entry for Snowdonia Aerospace to learn of our generosity.
So we’ve paid twice for a white elephant. But it gets worse!
Snowdonia National Park has approved a by-pass for the village of Llanbedr, which will of course run close to the airfield. We read in this Cambrian News report: “Llanbedr, which lies between Barmouth and Harlech, suffers severe tailbacks during the height of summer with people visiting Shell Island.”
Which means that a great deal of public money is to be spent causing environmental damage in order to encourage more traffic to a foreign-owned campsite! What happened to environmentally conscious Wales?
I’ve got a better idea – let’s get rid of ‘Shell Island’. It caters for campers and caravans, providing everything they need, including a shop and a bar. It contributes little to the wider area other than petrol and diesel fumes.
Alternatively, seeing as the Workman family, owners of ‘Shell Island’, will be the main beneficiaries of this by-pass, shall we ask them to make a financial contribution?
But it’not just ‘Shell Island’. (Correct name, Mochras.) There are also locally-owned caravan sites marring the littoral. Many granted consent in the days of Merioneth County Council, when men of a ‘fraternal’ bent would shake hands and grant each other planning permission.
In this BBC piece we read, “Supporters of the 1.5km (one mile) bypass have claimed it will slash journey times by an hour, and boost investment by improving access to the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, a drone-testing facility at the former RAF Llanbedr airfield.”
The implication has to be that motorists experience one-hour traffic hold-ups in tiny Llanbedr, which is utter bollocks. I suggest the ‘supporters’ saying that may have inhaled too much traffic fumes, or something.
The second part hints at another reason for the by-pass. Though maybe I’m wrong to call it a by-pass, for a recent comment to an earlier piece of mine about Llanbedr airfield says: “And yes the Welsh Government is funding the Llanbedr bypass, which legally can’t be called a bypass as it has to be an access road to the airfield to qualify for grants. And no it doesn’t go to the airfield!”.
Which suggests that a lot of people are being misled, even screwed, over Llanbedr airfield.
This source also wrote (of the blog): “Just come across this article – excellent stuff. No mention though of RAF Brawdy in Pembrokeshire which the same people as at Llanbedr ran for a while before dissolving the company with outstanding charges against the Welsh Government.”
The company was Brawdy Business Park Ltd (Co No 3431529). And again, it took over a redundant military installation, promised lots of jobs, received grants and loans, created few jobs, folded the company and buggered off.
Will the same thing happen at Llanbedr?
Though ‘buggered off’ is not strictly true. For while the company, Brawdy Business Park Ltd, was certainly struck off in April 2013, the presence of those involved lingered on. Indeed, it lingers still.
And who do we find as directors of the new company? Who else? – Lee John Paul, Ocean Park Investments, and Putney Investments.
Compass Point Estates has made two loans to Snowdonia Aerospace Estates. But why should that be necessary with the same people controlling both? (Because on October 1 Lee John Paul and Putney Investments took control of the two LLPs.)
My concerns are due to the fact that LLPs can be tricky beasts. “Partners in an LLP are not personally liable when the business cannot pay its debts; instead, their liability is limited to the capital they have invested into the LLP.”
So, if there’s no capital left in the LLP to which the loan was made then, when it folds, and everything is claimed by the new LLP, the clowns of Corruption Bay might struggle to get our money back.
Shall we see a repeat of Brawdy Business Park at Llanbedr, where the same people end up owning everything but under different labels?
Watch this space.
THE PHOENIX HOTEL, ABERSOCH
I’ve written about Abersoch more than once. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish it was still the sleepy Llŷn fishing village it once was, but it has been ‘discovered’.
By the ‘Cheshire Set’. Which includes those who’ve made a few bob in Liverpool or Manchester and want to flaunt it with a big house and a Range Rover in the drive in an upmarket Cheshire village. One of those communities where new developments are discouraged to the point of being almost forbidden.
Which in turn results in houses being built in north east Wales and along the A55 to accommodate those who can’t afford the entrance fee to the Cheshire Set.
But we are going to focus on the site of the former White House Hotel.
This establishment closed in 2004 or 2005, inevitably fell into disrepair, and was eventually demolished in the early part of 2016. In the report I’ve linked to we read, “A 40-bedroom hotel and spa will now be built in its place and is set to open in 2018”.
The owner was named as Broomco, of Surrey. At 31 December, 2019 the unaudited Broomco accounts show that money owed by debtors was exceeded by money owed to creditors to the tune of some £250,000.
Broomco’s major asset would appear to be ‘freehold property’ valued at £1,236,224. Which is presumably the site of the former White House Hotel.
The promised hotel and spa did not materialise, but now other exciting plans have emerged for the site. Well, obviously, I’m not excited, but some people seem to be getting worked up over the proposal. Here’s a report from the Daily Post website.
There’s a lot of information in the report; yet despite that, or maybe because of it, it still raises many questions. Or maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, some dude called Charlie Openshaw has rocked up, and we read: “Mr Openshaw says his firms are both contractors and developers. He says the developer is Providence Gate and the contractor is CL Projects.”
What can we learn of these companies?
Let’s start with Providence Gate. There are five companies of that name, all formed between August and November this year. All with the same three directors; Charles Marshall Openshaw, Anthony John Hayton, and William James Abram. Being so new there’s obviously little information available, though Providence Gate Developments Ltd has already taken out loans with Crowd Property Ltd.
Turning to the other company mentioned by Charlie Openshaw, C L Projects Facilities Management Ltd, we see that this company has a long and glorious history, stretching back to its formation in July 2017, when it was known as C L Chorley Ltd.
The name changed in April this year when the three musketeers climbed aboard. Until then it was filing as a dormant company. Openshaw, Hayton and Abram are joined around the mahogany boardroom table by Robert Wood, also recruited in April.
So, to all intents and purposes, C L Projects Facilities Management Ltd is another company formed in 2020.
Which seems straightforward enough – a group of property investors spot an opening and come up with an imaginative plan. But it’s not that simple. Is it ever?
To begin with, and according to the Land Registry, the site is still owned by Broomco. So either Charlie Openshaw and his mates are working with Broomco, or else they are yet to buy the site from that company. Here’s the title document and plan.
The shareholders in Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd are shown in the panel below, information that comes from the Confirmation Statement made to Companies House on 30 November. Just days before the big publicity splash.
Clearly, Openshaw and Hayton have other companies, in their own names. While Marbauk Ltd is William Abram’s new company. So it’s the three amigos again.
The winding up process for Rooftop Solutions began in Bolton County Court in July 2012. There were three outstanding charges at the death. The decision to wind up Rooftop Solutions and Consultancy Services Ltd was taken in August 2009, when the company owed £485,922.00.
Other companies Openshaw was involved with around that time, which also went belly-up owing lots of money, were RBC (Manchester) Ltd and Rooftop Group Ltd.
None of these companies seemed to last more than two or three years. And there seems to be a gap of five or six years between these earlier companies and the recent rash of new companies.
To sum up, the ‘saviours’ of the White House Hotel – or at least the site – seem to come from a background of replacement doors and windows, or roofing. More recently, they appear to have aligned with people from a finance background. But do they have what it takes to complete a prestige project in Wilmslow-sur-Mer?
Charles Marshal Openshaw makes it sound so simple – his companies are going to build an ‘international landmark’ hotel on the site of the White House Hotel.
But, for a start, he doesn’t even own the site. And once we start looking into his companies we find other companies behind them . . . and other companies behind the companies behind them . . . and companies behind the companies behind the companies behind . . .
If I was Cyngor Gwynedd, I’d sit Charles Marshall Openshaw down in a comfy chair, give him tea and biccies, pat his knee and say, ‘Now, Charlie, tell us who’s really behind this project’.
And I wouldn’t give planning permission until I had satisfactory answers.
Regular readers will be familiar with that name. It refers to an old gentry mansion near Llanystumdwy, which served a number of purposes after its glory days until, as a hotel, it catched afire in 1982.
This update is in three parts. First, Philip Andrew Bush seems to have been a naughty boy, travelling up to Gwynfryn from Kent during lockdown. Second, the planning application for 25 residential units in what’s left of the mansion has now been submitted. Third, the young developers we met earlier have started a raft of new companies.
Maybe I should explain that until fairly recently Bush owned both the house and the land around, but he sold the ruin to his pal Aaron Hill, who’s also an associate of the Bryn Llys gang, a crew we’ll meet in the next section.
Bush is now pestering neighbours over a non-existent right of way, and making a nuisance of himself. It’s rumoured he wants to make some money by building something in the Bryn Llys grounds.
Access will be a big issue for any project of Hill’s, and for the residential units. Which explains his desire to knock down walls and find another route onto his land. He’s getting desperate, for the clock is ticking . . .
Let’s turn to the planning application. Which is dated 03/12/2020. A passer-by kindly sent me a photo of the public notice affixed to some railings.
Though what I find strange is that the planning application itself is dated 14/02/2020. with a ‘validation’ date of 20/11/2020. Read it for yourself.
There’s something very amateurish about this planning application. To begin with, it keeps referring to “the castle”. Has whoever compiled this document been reading too much Kafka, or has he never seen the building? Because it’s a 19th century house with a bit of crenellation for effect.
I’m sure the natives could get a bit stroppy back then but I’m equally sure the squire didn’t need a castle.
Something else that caught my eye was in the planning application document itself (21), where it seems to suggest that there are currently 5 full-time and 3 part-time employees at the Gwynfryn ruin.
Are they including the Bryn Llys gang, who have helped out? Or are they counting the bunny-wunnies?
Gwynfryn is another of those projects where there are many fingers in the pie. And among these digits are those belonging to James Armstrong and Anthony Wilmott.
As I wrote back in October, ” . . . the developers’ in this instance are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong. The latter has a company called Acquérir Ltd; Wilmott has a few companies of his own; but they get together in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd.”
Now doubt it’s only a matter of time before we’re in another maze of companies at Gwynfryn in which council planners will get lost . . . if they even venture in.
BRYN LLYS AKA ‘SNOWDON SUMMIT VIEW’
We left off with the Bryn Llys saga when capo di tutti capi Jon Duggan appeared before the bench in Caernarfon. His dogs had got out – again – and attacked a neighbour’s chickens.
Despite being victimised – the poor man always is – he had to cough up £1,002.00.
As it was given to me: “He complained that he was before the same magistrates who heard the Shane Baker excavator driving, criminal damage case (Baker is one of Duggan’s ‘soldiers’) but was told that this was an entirely separate case. Mr. Duggan likes to imply that he will not get a fair hearing and is picked upon by police, council officials and others. He also accused the neighbours of filming his children, another one of his tactics is making unfounded, malicious allegations about anyone who does not give in to him.”
But he could be facing another court appearance in the near future.
Here we see Duggan, on the day of the court appearance, with his wife at his side, his half-brother Scott Smith facing him, while the fourth man is Andrew Battye, who we are asked to believe owns Bryn Llys aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’.
Nobody does believe it, and certainly not Battye.
In one of the more bizarre deals I have covered on this blog, Duggan bought land from Aaron Hill (who got a mention just now at Gwynfryn). But because Duggan is supposedly without assets, Hill loaned him the money to buy the land!
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
This is the roundup I promised last week before the Knighton piece just grow’d like Topsy and took over.
Here you’ll find updates on old favourites plus some new faces. Combined they’ll provide a sobering read and a reminder of what a mess Wales is in, due partly to useless, lying politicians down Corruption Bay.
This fine old mansion that I’ve written about so many times in recent years in the Weep for Wales series has been sold. Also, the Seiont Manor.
At one time both were owned by Paul and Rowena Williams, but they ran into problems and soon had ‘partners’ in their hour of need. In the form of Myles Cunliffe and his oppo, the ‘King of Marbella’, Jon Disley, always looking for companies in trouble.
And now they’re all gone.
I look forward to learning the identity of the new owners, but I’m fairly sure that he / she / they will fall into one of the following categories. We can but hope that it’s the third.
More crooks looking to use the Plas for nefarious purposes.
Dreamers, with wonderful ideas but neither the ability nor the money to carry them out.
Somebody, or some company, with both the right ideas and the money to realise them.
TRANSPORT FOR WALES GOES OFF THE RAILS
You’ll remember that the Wales and Borders rail franchise was run for some years by Arriva Trains. There were many critics. So when the franchise came up for renewal a couple of years ago it was awarded to French-Spanish partnership KeolisAmey.
Despite my right of centre views on economic and other matters, I believe that essential services should be run by the state as national assets. With one condition, and that is that these services should be run by people who know what they’re doing.
That will not happen in Wales. The statist majority in Corruption Bay has taken over the railways not to provide a better service but because they’re control freaks. Don’t be surprised if the signalling system is handed over to a third sector body approved by lobbyists Deryn.
Unbeknownst to most of those who drive under Machynlleth’s railway bridge, there is a depot nearby where the trains from the Cambrian Coast and the Aberystwyth-Shrewsbury lines are brought overnight for cleaning, maintenance, and repair.
It’s a major employer in the town. (But perhaps not for much longer, thanks to Transport for Wales. An issue I might return to in a later post.)
Two men have been hanging around Mach’ railway station for a few weeks. For a while, no one knew who they were, or what they were doing. I think I now have the story.
As part of the Covid-19 arrangements extra portakabins were brought in for the staff. Hired from a company called W H Welfare, part of the Kelling Group of Normanton, in West Yorkshire, a few miles south east of Leeds.
The two mystery men are security guards who came with the portakabins. The problem being that the portakabins are inside the compound, behind the security gate, and the portakabin guards do have not have clearance to enter the compound. So they’re stuck outside, and to look useful, or just to while away the time, they seem to turn up to meet the trains.
But Machynlleth ain’t Grand Central Station. So that doesn’t give them much to do.
Now these two security men must be staying locally, which means that their wages and accommodation will be included in the portakabin hire charge.
The incompetence doesn’t end there. The portakabins run on a generator – a petrol generator. There is no petrol on site except in the workers’ cars. Everything else is diesel.
Am I making this up? No. Am I drunk? How dare you!
So, we have two men at a small Welsh railway station, doing sod all, but costing a lot of money. Because of course it’s all being paid for by Transport for Wales. Which means the ‘Welsh Government’. Which means you and me.
It’s reasonable to assume that Machynlleth isn’t the only station or depot for which these portakabins were hired. Plus of course the security men. So how much money is being squandered in this way?
And come to that, is there nowhere in Wales where portakabins could have been sourced? And sourced cheaper? I’m sure there is. Which means that in addition to the incompetence we have the issue of a ‘Welsh Government’ agency sending money out of Wales.
It looks as if someone in Transport for Wales has made a massive cock-up. Or is someone getting a backhander from a firm in West Yorkshire?
Last month I brought you the tale of yet another foreign-owned windfarm being dumped on Wales with the enthusiastic support of the planet-savers in the ‘Welsh Government’ and Plaid Cymru.
You’ll find it here, just scroll down to the section, “Another ‘Community-owned, local benefits’ wind farm. Not”.
As I wrote in that earlier piece, “this particular project is a joint English-Irish venture. From Ireland we have state-owned ESB, while from England (possibly Scotland) we have Coriolis Energy Ltd.”
It’s difficult to figure out why ESB needs Coriolis. Maybe it’s to fulfil a similar role to that of Invis Energy of County Cork, which has been working on Meenbog wind farm, on the Donegal-Tyrone border.
Where there was recently a massive slippage of peat into the Mourne Beg river, part of the Foyle system. Just watch the trees go sailing by in the video!
The lesson here is that erecting bloody big wind turbines, each one sunk into thousands of tons of concrete, will have consequences when such idiocy is encouraged in sensitive environments.
Such as Irish peat bogs, and Welsh hillsides from which thousands upon thousands of rain-absorbing trees have been cut, and from which acres of equally absorbent peat has been removed.
Another worry for those living close to the proposed development on Mynydd Margam is that the planned turbines will be 750 tall. As any child playing with blocks will tell you, the higher you try to build it, the more difficult it gets to keep it standing.
Which is why I was not surprised to learn from a regular correspondent in northern Sweden – who took time off from herding his reindeer – that a 755 foot turbine in his neck of the woods had recently come crashing down. Here’s a report from ABC News.
I believe a re-think is needed. Not just on this development on Margam Mountain but on all onshore wind developments in Wales. Because . . .
No permanent jobs have resulted from the dozens of wind farms desecrating our countryside.
No manufacturing has been encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’ so that we can build the turbines here – they’ve all been imported.
First by smoky ships, and then by huge, diesel-powered trucks and trailers, before trees are felled and peat removed to accommodate them in concrete bases the size of football pitches. Making a nonsense of wind turbines’ claimed green credentials.
In fact, before a blade turns, each wind turbine will have caused more damage to the environment than it can make up for in its short and fitful life.
No Welsh companies have emerged to run or own wind turbines other than tiny, ‘hippy’ enterprises reliant on public largesse.
No skills base has been developed that Wales could benefit from and export.
And it’s increasingly likely that wind turbines contribute to flooding.
The ‘progressive’ parties have allowed – even encouraged – Wales to be exploited and cheated in this way just so that they could look virtuous to a certain lobby.
When it comes to serving England’s interests, things in Wales are not a lot different in the 21st century to earlier times. Just disguised by the gloss of devolution, and bullshit about ‘Wales saving the planet’.
But it’s the same old exploitation.
Where would a roundup like this be without a trip to Bryn Llys or, more specifically, Caernarfon magistrates court.
The latest of the Duggan gang to appear has been Jon Duggan himself, on November 16. His large dogs got out – again! – and attacked neighbours’ poultry. But of course, in the parallel universe inhabited by these clowns, it was probably the chickens’ fault.
I’m afraid I can’t link to any press report because I can’t find one. But Duggan was fined £300. Then there was compensation of £30, victim surcharge of £32, and CPS costs of £640. Making a grand total of £1,002.00.
I know those are the facts because my source is reliable, and I have even been supplied with a case number.
In related news, Bryn Llys Ltd is threatened with strike-off by Companies House. Though I suppose this company might have already served its purpose.
By which I mean the Duggan gang’s MO is to start a company, open bank accounts, sign up for credit accounts with assorted suppliers and then order goods and equipment, sell it all on, then let the company be struck off, or liquidate it, without paying for anything.
Finally, the deadline for Duggan to comply with the Enforcement Order and remove the unauthorised roadway he has laid on his recently acquired land was Friday, November 20. He has of course made no effort to comply. Cyngor Gwynedd has been informed.
A dicky-bird tells me that when Duggan appeared before the bench to answer for the Great Chicken Massacre he was accompanied by a female solicitor from Liverpool.
Over the years I’ve complained about Companies House being toothless, nothing more than a filing system, or a box-ticking exercise. Here’s a recent example that came to my attention in a roundabout sort of way.
Someone got in touch because they were angry at certain new properties in Llanarthne, a village just off the A40, roughly midway between Llandeilo and Carmarthen. These were four- and five-bed ‘executive homes’ in the Mulberry Grove development.
The development’s name, and the prices being asked, suggested that the developer was not anticipating many local buyers.
Companies House made the gesture of compulsory strike-off towards the end of 2018, but it was discontinued after an objection. But in 2019 – nothing! And nothing in 2020 until I contacted them. The company is now scheduled for strike-off to begin December 1st.
The response I got a few days ago reads:
“I can advise that the company has already been reminded accordingly to deliver the outstanding accounts in accordance with the Companies Act 2006.
Our records show that accounts for the period ending 30/10/2017, 30/10/2018 and 30/10/2019 and also the confirmation statement for the period ending 14/06/2020 remain overdue and we are currently taking action to remove the company from the register.
In order to proceed with this course of action it is necessary to issue statutory letters to the company leading to a publication in the London Gazette.
Any objections against the proposed dissolution will be considered once the notice of our intention has been published in the London Gazette. All creditors and interested parties should be aware that objection must be in writing and need to be provided with supporting evidence.
Also, if you believe that the company or any of its employees have acted fraudulently then this matter should be reported to Investigation and Enforcement Services. The Company Investigations team within the Insolvency Service has the power to investigate limited companies where information received suggests corporate abuse; this may include serious misconduct, fraud, scams or sharp practice in the way a company operates. They have investigatory powers to look into the affairs of a company where this is evidence of fraud or misfeasance and can be contacted at Intelligence.email@example.com”
I’m not sure if Emma Ruth Developments has acted fraudulently but I’d like to know how a company that shouldn’t even be in existence is allowed to lend money to another company.
I might also ask why Companies House has done sod all for so long . . . but I’d be wasting my time.
Last week we were in Knighton, reading about a bunch of selfless people on a civilising mission. En passant I mentioned the Knighton Hotel, where once Paul Williams was cock o’ the walk . . . or something.
A source informs me that the old pile has been sold. And the new owner is Na’Ím Anís Paymán. A 26-year-old German citizen of German and Iranian Baha’i origins who grew up in Albania and studied at Cambridge. More in this brief autobiography.
In fact, he seems to be quite the self-publicist, with a number of videos online. But he still comes across as a likeable young man.
Paymán has formed a number of companies since 2015 and I have no reason to suspect that he’s anything other than a genuine young entrepreneur looking to make himself rich. An ambition that causes me no sleepless nights.
In the hope that it riles lefties, I’ll say it again: a genuine young entrepreneur looking to make himself rich.
If he does that by providing work for local people, if he uses local companies, tradesmen and suppliers, then all well and good.
If he takes a wrong path, then I’m sure I’ll be writing about him again.
In the ten years 2010-2011 to 2019-2020 the headline figure for SHG was £966,608,902. Obviously, some RSLs got more than others, and none got more than Labour’s favourite RSL, where the CEO is the wife of a Cardiff Labour councillor.
I have since received the figures for RSL funding in addition to SHG, for the period 01.01.2010 to 31.10.2020. The funding covered is: Housing Finance Grant, Affordable Housing Grant, Rent to Own, Physical Adaptation Grant, Innovative Housing Programme (grant and loan), Land for Housing Scheme (loan) and Registered Social Landlord Loans.
Eleven local authorities received a total of £19,969,000. While our RSLs were given £370,738,000. Once again, the big winner was Wales & West, with £39,341,000.
Combining the funding from various pots gives us £1,337,346,982. That is £1.34bn.
Of which Wales & West has received £138,824,507. Just over 10% of all the funding given to some 30 or more active RSLs.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR MILFORD HAVEN?
The Milford Haven Waterway is one of the finest deep-water anchorages on Earth, and has been recognised as such for centuries. In recent times it has attracted oil and gas companies because their huge tankers can be easily accommodated.
The area also attracts its share of con men. Who can forget Admiral Wing Commander of the SAS Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen VC, Croix de Guerre, Iron Cross (1st Class), Purple Heart and the Order of Lenin, who planned to turn Fort Hubberstone in Milford Haven into a home for ex-service personnel.
Hot on the heels of the Camp Valour project at Fort Hubberstone came a group of ‘investors’ looking to buy a different fort, The Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock. I wrote about that in Old Defensible Barracks, and the imaginatively titled sequel, Old Defensible Barracks 2.
Those involved had not yet bought the Barracks when I first wrote about them, or certainly, the Land Registry had not been informed of a change of ownership. This has now been registered and we can see from the title document that the owners are Walker Property Developments Limited.
This company was launched 14.08.2018 as Muniment Yorkshire Ltd. It became Walker Property Developments 06.07.2019, before changing its name again 02.10.2019 to VR 1844 Limited.
I assume that VR stands for Victoria Regina and 1844 tells us that the Old Defensible Barracks was built in that year.
Despite the developers saying they planned to turn the old place into apartments (see the article below, and here in pdf format), I suspected that the real attraction was the closeness to the estuary, connecting with Brexit and the need for space to park lorries. Because there is an extensive piece of land between the Barracks and the water, clearly visible in the image above.
And of course, the Pembroke-Rosslare ferry is almost next door.
This suspicion was strengthened by the Singapore connection found with the directors of Walker Property Developments – including the eponymous Walker, who lives there – and Singaporean connections with another coastal site, in the Six Counties, and again, very close to ferry ports.
Lorry parks may still be the objective, but as I mentioned towards the end of the second article, there is also the possibilty of Milford Haven, or the whole Waterway, becoming a freeport. Which, again, could account for the interest from Singapore, which is perhaps the biggest freeport in the world.
Others have also been buying sections of the Waterway shoreline. With interest coming from equally exotic locations: Cyprus, Jordan . . . Carmarthenshire.
Let’s start in September 2015, with WalesOnline gilding a press release – no questions, no critical analysis. To believe the report, a company nobody’d heard of was going to bring 560 jobs to Milford Haven over the next five years through, “£685 million in a Centre of Renewable Energy Excellence”.
The company named in the fable was, “Cypriot-owned energy company” Egnedol Ltd. We were told it had bought the former Gulf refinery at Waterston and the neighbouring RNAD mine depot at Blackbridge.
I hedge my bets because there are caveats attaching to the ownership of both sites.
The Blackbridge site has received loans from Suleiman Al Daoud, of Amman, Jordan. Who in September became a director of Egnedol Wales Limited. So he could be said to now own the site. By the same token, he could also be said to own the oil refinery site.
UPDATE: I got to wondering about Suleiman Al Daoud. The Al Daoud Group is an established company that seems to concentrate on residential properties and retail complexes in Jordan.
I can’t find any evidence of the Group operating outside of Jordan. So what attracted Suleiman Al Daoud to Milford Haven?
Then there is yet another company, Egnedol UK Limited, which uses a Milford Haven address but with directors Dr Robert Prigmore and Steven Whitehouse living in the Ammanford area.
Prigmore and Whitehouse appear in the other Egnedol companies, together with Antonis Andrea Antoniadis, who maintains the Cyprus connection.
And if Cyprus and Jordan weren’t enough overseas involvement, Prigmore and Whitehouse have yet another company, Azolis UK Ltd, formed as recently as September this year, where we find two French directors.
Explained by the fact that this latest company is an offshoot or subsidiary of French renewables company Azolis, which has offices in Fontainebleau and Casablanca.
So, all this overseas interest in Milford Haven Waterway, what does it mean? What does the future hold? The possibilities appear to be:
Brexit-related, possibly lorry parks.
Hoping to cash in on the Swansea Bay City Deal.
Anticipating a freeport and getting in ahead of the rush.
A home for nuclear subs when Scotland goes independent.
One thing I guarantee. Whatever happens, it’ll be strangers reaping the benefits, as always. That’s the way Wales is run, and devolution has brought no improvement.
In fairness, the ‘Welsh Government’ may have no influence over what’s happening on the Milford Haven Waterway. It could all be planned at a higher level and those clowns might be told at a later date.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
This week’s piece takes us all over the place to meet interesting characters. Most you’ll be familiar with, but there are some new faces.
JAKE BERRY MP
We start with someone you all know, Ynys Môn landowner and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry.
I’ve written about Berry a number of times. It started when it was reported that, in May, during the first lockdown, he had broken the rules and gone to ground at his holiday home in Rhoscolyn. Yet still travelled regularly to London and his constituency.
This did not go down well in No 10 and he was almost certainly reprimanded. (If not debagged and radished.)
So, on Saturday, he appeared in the Times with a ‘good man hard done by’ piece in the hope of gaining sympathy and detracting attention from his perceived treachery. (Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall.)
I have little interest in the machinations of the Conservative and Unionist Party, but in his orgy of self-pity he pointed a finger at those who had criticised his earlier behaviour, and in doing so he made some wild accusations.
The issue was not that he was a ‘newcomer’; the issue was breaking lockdown restrictions and lying about it. Or getting local MP, Virginia Crosbie, to lie for him.
As for the alleged threats to “burn the house down”, who made these threats? Or maybe the question should be – Did anybody make such a threat?
I invite North Wales Police to clarify whether or not they warned Jake Berry that he was a target for arsonists.
But even if he believed he was a target, why would Berry take a pickaxe handle to bed? It would be useless in the event of a fire.
The story took life on Twitter. With what seemed to be mainly anti-abortion Anglo-Catholics jumping in to support Berry, slag off the NHS (for the treatment of Berry’s wife), and of course attack would-be arsonists.
Among them was ‘Petra’. The account looks like a bot, but it still pointed me out as one of the “Ultra-nationalists”. Done in two tweets; or rather, the second seems to be the first re-written.
Anyway, on Saturday afternoon Gwlad put out a statement making it clear that neither that party nor I had made any threat against Jake Berry.
If Jake Berry believes his business dealings should remain private, if he thinks Welsh people should be ignorant of his growing property portfolio, if he believes rules are for little people, if he can’t take criticism, then he shouldn’t be an MP.
Saturday afternoon was a bit hectic, what with me trying to take in what Berry was suggesting while also watching the rugby (we lost), keeping up with the Swans score (won 2 – 0), and doing a few other things.
And then, by a strange coincidence, and to complicate matters further, I received unrelated information from a source in Berry’s constituency. To explain . . .
In a previous post I wrote about secret funders to the Conservative Party, The Portcullis Club and The United and Cecil Club. These are unincorporated associations, a legal loophole that allows funding to reach the party without anyone knowing the origin of that money.
The money usually goes to the constituency association, but not always. Sometimes it takes devious routes, such as we read about in this story. (‘Aide to Grant Shapps’! God Almighty! Imagine having to put that on your CV.)
I’ve dealt with similar deceits in my earlier pieces on Berry.
Other underhand donations came from The Portcullis Club that year but without the name of the constituency. Though using the same London address.
But then, in 2017, The Portcullis Club seems to have found a local base at Whins House, near Clitheroe. The first mention I can find of Whins House in that connection is here (click on left hand column again). Though strangely, it’s just The Portcullis Club, with no mention of Rossendale and Darwen.
So, what do we know about Whins House?
Well, it’s not just The Portcullis Club that can be found there, for it was the original address for Palatine Hill Ltd. The officers / directors of which are Maria Bernadette Duckworth, Ford Bridge Farm Ltd, Duckworth Estate Company Ltd, with Paul Worrall Fitton as secretary.
So who are they?
Maria Bernadette Duckworth lives – or formerly lived – at Whins House, along with hubby Andrew John Duckworth. Ford Bridge Farm Ltd – aka Rhyd y Bont – is the company of Mr and Jake Mrs Berry, with their solicitor Fitton again serving as secretary. Duckworth Estate Company Ltd is, predictably, the Duckworths’ company.
The linked companies with stakes in each other make it clear the Duckworths and the Berrys are close. With the Duckworths being quite happy to use their home address for the channelling to Jake Berry of funding from God knows where.
I’m sure their local MP will therefore find some way to return the favour in his friends’ hour of need. Perhaps he’ll add Whins House to his property portfolio.
This section takes us back a bit, to the days before Natural Resources Wales, when our woodlands were the responsibility of Forestry Commission Wales. It also takes us back to the time before OPDs were legalised with TAN 6, published in July 2010.
And it brings Objective One funding into the mix, reminding us how most of that EU funding was squandered.
The website tells us: “Having run an organic fruit vegetable holding at Henparcau for over 15 years, we decided to give the lands and ourselves a rest in 2010 after a frozen winter where we lost our winter crops we refocused towards the woodland work.”
This change of course was possible thanks to the acquisition of Ffynone and Cilgwyn woodland, part of the old Ffynone estate. Over 300 acres then in the stewardship of Forestry Commission Wales, which was distributing some of the Objective One bonanza under a scheme called Cydcoed.
In this report Nick Powell of ITV Wales quotes someone describing Cydcoed as, ‘one of the most successful Objective One programmes that ran in Wales … it used woodlands to provide new jobs and opportunities, promote healthy recreation, education and conservation’. It boasts that ‘more than 160 community groups across some of the poorest areas of Wales benefited’.
The subsequent criticism hinged on that term, ‘community group’. For Calon yn Tyfu may have called itself a workers co-operative but it was in fact a private company run by a husband and wife and a third person.
These being Robert David McDowell – who seems to have signed all the company documents I’ve found – Kate Maria Moore, and Andrew Peter Lowe, ‘Laird of Camster’. (In much the same way as I am Tsar of All the Russias.)
Calon yn Tyfu obtained the woodland in 2007 . . . with an Objective One (Cydcoed) grant of £502,000 from Forestry Commission Wales! Just think about that – FCW gave public money to a gang of good-lifers so they could buy public property.
We know that Objective One funding was wasted in Wales thanks to the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru being ideologically opposed to enterprise and business, but there can be few examples of such blatant and indefensible waste.
In total, £18m was dished out under the FCW Cydcoed scheme. And what do we have to show for it?
Manordeifi community council was so unimpressed by the deal that it petitioned the Welsh Assembly which referred the matter to the Auditor General for Wales.
She concluded that no rules had been broken. Which might suggest it was no surprise that schemes for distributing Objective One cash wasted money.
The Auditor General also noted that, “Calon yn Tyfu have made a commitment to dedicate the site under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, which should allow public access to the woodland in perpetuity.”
I’ve searched the Calon Tyfu website but I can’t find any reference to such a commitment. Has it been made?
If not, then in 2027, the company will be able to sell off at a very handsome price what it was given for nothing. That said, ownership in all but name now seems to be exercised by Dutch bank Triodos N V.
In April 2015 Calon yn Tyfu went back to Triodos. This time taking out a loan against the Ffynone woodland. The title document tells us that in 2007 Calon yn Tyfu paid £460,000 for this forest (out of the £502,000 grant from Forestry Commission Wales).
I believe that the money borrowed from Triodos was used, later that year, to purchase Hen Parcau – where Calon yn Tyfu had always been based – for £225,000. That’s what the title document suggests. And although the loan was taken out in the name of the company the house is registered in the name of Robert David McDowell.
The third engagement with Triodos begins on 21 April, 2015, the same day as the second, but leads to a hearing at the County Court in Swansea in October, and what is described as a ‘Charles Court order’. (No doubt, someone will explain.)
This would appear to give Triodos a claim against the whole Calon yn Tyfu operation.
Now were that to happen, then McDowell would still have enjoyed the income from almost 20 years of forestry operations. And of course he would also have the dwelling, Hen Parcau, and the land around it. And it won’t have cost him a penny!
For their part, Dutch bank Triodos will be happy because they’ll own over 300 acres of Wales.
So, everybody’s a winner! Not quite, because of course we Welsh have lost out again. Not only have we lost a bit more of our homeland, but those useless bastards down in Corruption Bay paid somebody to take it over!
I’ve referred to Calon yn Tyfu as envirobollocks, and so it is. A pretentious precursor to the One Planet nonsense. How else are we to read:
“We are interested in working towards a sustainable future, survival cooperation is the concept of exploring what might be required to survive in a post-industrial world and exploring the process of cooperation that we can start with now that will lead us towards a sustainable path.”
“Post-industrial world”, be buggered! There are hundreds of thousands of Welsh families living in a post-industrial world of managed decline created by the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru, parties that have fallen over themselves to favour shysters like those we see at Calon yn Tyfu.
Having mentioned OPDs I have to introduce ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson. And provide further proof that she is indeed the mother goddess of the OPD firmament, worshipped by those who toil below filling out grant application forms.
A good source tells me, “She (Davidson) does claim that she wrote OPD into TAN 6 expressly to help Lammas rather than interfere in their planning application directly as a then minister”.
What this means is that we suffer OPDs for no better reason than Jane Davidson wanted to help the eco-colonists at Lammas.
When it was suggested that Planning Policy Wales – which TAN 6 supplements – could be used to help farm succession, Davidson is said to have sneered, “I didn’t write that policy for farmers!”. (With the emphasis on farmers.)
‘Dr’ Davidson became an Assembly Member in 1999. It’s reasonable to assume that she was acquainted with the crew at Calon yn Tyfu. Did she have a hand in this incredible waste of money?
Now we head north to Plas Gwynfryn / Gwynfryn Plas, just outside Lloyd George’s village of Llanystumdwy on Llŷn. I’ve written about it a number of times in recent months so you might want to search for what I’ve written and catch up.
The old mansion ended up as a hotel and is now just a ruin following a fire in 1982. Some suggest the fire was arson.
A curious development has been this advert for 17 acres of woodland on the right-hand side of the drive leading up to the Plas. That is, opposite the gate house.
Because if we refer to the Land Registry title document, and scroll down to the plan, we see something odd. The strip in yellow cuts right across the drive, and as A2 in the title document talks of “a good and substantial stockproof fence” it suggests that the drive is effectively blocked! There is certainly no mention of a gate.
Another curious feature is that no one in the area knows the owners of this 17 acres. They bought it less than a year ago and are selling it for less than they paid.
I remember calling one morning, planning to take Barri for a pint, but he was boycotting the local pubs (or possibly he was banned). So we sat there, him unshaven, in his underpants. By midday he was on his third can of Guinness. He looked at me and said, “I don’t understand why I can’t pull the women any more, Jac”.
I was lost for words. I just sat there and nodded. God bless you, Barri.
I have no idea why Varley and his partner bought the woodland in the first place or why they’re selling it. And as for the ‘stockproof’ fence across the driveway . . . your guess is as good as mine. I’m open to suggestions.
But it might have had a knock-on effect. Because reports tell that the owner of the land around the old pile, Philip Andrew Bush, of Kent, has been a busy boy of late. He has been harassing neighbours and threatening to knock down a wall that has been in place since 1948 so that he can open up what he claims is a right of way.
He made no answer when asked why he couldn’t use the driveway.
The truth is of course that even if Bush had access via the driveway it would not be enough for the highways department to agree to the planned 30 residential units in the old Plas. Or perhaps that should read, on the site of the Plas, because it’s in a poor state of repair.
For planning permission to be given for 30 residential units when the only entrance / exit is so close to a junction is not going to happen. (Click here for image.) The council will insist on two entrances, or one entrance and one exit.
Another reason Bush insists on reclaiming his alleged right of way is to gain access to the old laundry, which he says he plans to renovate.
And the best of luck with that. First, because the old laundry has almost collapsed. Second, because it was purpose-built as a laundry, to serve the Plas, and has been used for no other purpose, which means a ‘change of use’ will probably be required.
Regular readers will recall that Bush kept the Gwynfryn land after selling the old pile to his good buddy, Aaron Hill, who we’ve encountered before in connection with the crooks at Bryn Llys – who appear in the next section!
The word is that Hill has sold the chapel he was living in in Bontnewydd and his whereabouts are unknown. Though a dicky bird tells me that Hill and Bush have a project planned in Scotland, and that Hill might have already taken the high road.
I know I have readers in Scotland, so be on your guard for Aaron Hill and Philip Bush, two not-to-be-trusted Sassenachs.
I conclude this section with another curiosity. If you go to the Google map for Llanystumdwy, grab the little yellow man, and try to place him on the road that runs past the woodlands that are now for sale, and you’ll find that the road is somehow closed.
I’m assured by locals that this stretch of road has always been visually ‘accessible’ on Google maps before. How strange!
Never a dull moment with the Bryn Llys gang.
Let’s start with another court appearance, this one by erstwhile rocker Shane Baker, aka ‘ShakingShane’ (or variants thereof) when he wants to comment on newspaper reports.
He was up before the bench in Caernarfon on Monday last week charged with criminal damage caused whilst driving a large excavator from Bryn Llys to the main road where a buyer was collecting it. He might just be a poor driver or, more likely, this was another crude attempt to widen the access to Bryn Llys.
Baker’s fines and costs came to £660.
His boss, professional fraudster Jonathan Duggan, was in attendance. As was a barrister! For people with no money these buggers seem able to afford everything.
Duggan’s attempts to persuade authorities he’s a farmer continue. A source writes:
“Mr. Duggan has brought more animals onto Bryn Llys, cows, pigs and goats – he is probably going to claim that he is a farmer to justify his road. His goats have already broken a fence and escaped onto neighbouring land as there is no grass left at Bryn Llys.
The neighbouring land owner complained to the police that he was intimidated by a group of people from Bryn Llys and its collection of sheds and caravans as he and a helper returned the animals to the Bryn Llys land and repaired the fence.
I understand that a large police officer visited Bryn Llys over the incident and was subjected to a torrent of swearing and abuse by Mr. Duggan who was told that everything was being recorded by the officer’s camera and it would appear on the police log dealing with the Community Protection Notice warning already served on Mr. Duggan.
Bryn Llys has already had a visit from the RSPCA after someone who came to buy a horse was so shocked about conditions that they contacted the RSPCA. The place is overstocked with animals, hardly a blade of grass and the animal sheds are full of human beings.
What looks like a bird hide with windows has been erected by the lake which was recently dug – I expect that Bryn Llys will be claiming to be promoting wildlife after destroying much of the habitat.”
This report reminds us that quite a settlement is developing at Bryn Llys in various sheds and caravans. All crooks from over the border. How long will this be allowed to continue?
Oh, yes . . . the ‘bird hide’ blew down in last weekend’s storm.
But never mind all that, would you like a holiday at Bryn Llys? Or rather, Snowdon Summit View. You – yes, you – can “win a 3 or 4 night stay in our luxury holiday home in North Wales”. Here’s the Facebook page on which you’ll find the details.
So if you want to spend a few days surrounded by criminals, kept awake at night by starving animals, enter the competition.
The blurb says, “set within 30 acres of woodland”. Actually, there is no woodland at all. In fact, there is hardly any grass – that’s why the animals break out onto neighbours’ land looking for something to eat.
Bryn Llys / Snowdon Summit View is a wasteland, a lunar landscape. The nearest trees are in a conifer plantation across the river on someone else’s property. Even the images used on the FB page make it clear there are no trees.
These bastards just can’t stop lying.
Though there is a funny side. Someone set up a phoney competition using the same details. Here’s the link.
I hope GogPlod has its finest detectives working on the case to protect the reputations of Jon Duggan, Shane Baker and the other shy and retiring souls at the Snowdon Summit View Meditation Centre.
A WANDERING SHYSTER I (after Gilbert & Sullivan)
I am indebted to a source in Powys for bringing to my attention a would-be impresario by the name of Darren Knipe. Darren has plans for the old library in Knighton.
For he organises things, events and the like. Every community should have a Darren. In fact, it seems that every community in Wales does have one, and at least one. They appear as if by magic when they sniff funding in the air.
As I say, Darren now has plans for Knighton’s old library. It’s all explained on the Facebook page. So let’s go through what it offers.
Darren plans, “an accredited training centre in Community Event Management”. To be funded by . . . The governments new scheme, kickstart . . . the lost generation of 16-25 yr olds . . . making over £3bn available to pay 6 months salary and training”.
He continues . . . “We will be working with Welsh Council of Voluntary Associations (WCVA) as our gateway partner, and will use a mix of mortgages, loans, and Social Enterprise grants to purchase building and startup costs.”
This is clearly an opportunity that Knighton cannot miss, and Darren warns, “I can run this anywhere, and currently looking at Newtown and Welshpool as options, which will be Knighton’s loss.”
I don’t know how to break this to you, Darren, but I suspect you wouldn’t be missed if you carried out your threat.
Now the thing about Darren is that he has history in these imaginative schemes. Which means that when Darren talks grant-grabbing bollocks he does so with some authority.
Though his business career has not been a cloudless sky.
Last year there was the attempt at crowdfunding, which raised . . . sod all! The money was wanted to teach people how to party. No doubt he does a sideline teaching cats how to catch mice.
In his favour, Darren does get about, though success is never a travelling companion.
A tool I use is 192.com and when I checked for Darren Knipe I came up with 14 results, 8 of which I suspect are him. His stay in Pembrokeshire ended in bankruptcy in 2003 or 2004.
From there he seems to have moved up to Aberystwyth before operating for a while at Llandegla, just west of Wrecsam. I’m told another bankruptcy or insolvency resulted.
In Llandegla we find Datcloud Ltd, where his partner was a Duncan Charles Ion. The company was formed in August 2014, with Knipe making it to the lifeboat in August 2015 before the good ship Datcloud went down.
Another information technology launch that had them quaking in Silicon Valley was Hootso Ltd. It filed as a dormant company and was eventually put down earlier this year.
Then there’s Dark Olive CIC. (The CIC he refers to on Facebook?) Now, chwarae teg, the latest accounts show a gross profit of £33,985.82, but it was almost all swallowed up in salaries, expenses and other running costs.
The website seems a little ‘threadbare’, as if he had one gig in 2018 and that was it.
The latest venture in which he’s involved, set up in March, is Robins Retreat Ltd, which sees our hero team up with the eponymous Robin Wealleans of Llanybydder. They can rest easy in Silicon Valley and Hollywood because this latest venture is in the holiday business.
Though anyone who thinks there are mountains in Carmarthenshire really should stop taking whatever makes him imagine them. It’s as bad as Duggan’s woodland.
In addition to Robins Retreat Ltd there is also Robins Realm Ltd, but Knipe is not involved in this one. Though I would have expected to see him on board another of Wealleans’ new companies as it could be named for him – My Catastrophe Ltd.
Listen to me, Darren . . . stop fantasising about being Knighton’s (publicly-funded) Jean-Michel Jarre and just get a real bloody job.
Was any country that hadn’t been militarily invaded and taken over ever cursed with so many undesirable outsiders?
But they come, and they keep coming, because we have politicians that encourage some of these buggers and do nothing to stop the others. Worse, they even fund them!
Bush needs accommodation because he may live in Kent, or he may live somewhere more exotic, where vitamin D deficiency is unlikely to trouble the locals. I suggest this possibility because Bush has been associated with a number of companies registered in locations where a very laid back approach is found to keeping records and obeying the law.
We are now asked to believe that this listed building Bush sold to Hill is to be given new life with ’30 residential units’. You can view the rudimentary plans here. The more I learn about this project the less sure I am that much, if anything, of the old building will be re-used.
I say that for a number of reasons.
First, the building has been treated with contempt by Bush and those he has allowed to use it. In the previous posting I mentioned a character named John Day. The pictures below follow his time at Gwynfryn; when Bush allowed Day to use this piece of Welsh history as a scrapyard.
Just click on an image to enlarge it.
You may recall that in an earlier post I referred to plastic chairs from Butlins. One of the images above corrects my mistake.
Then there was the second fire, in 2013. Philip Bush has been so unlucky with fires.
Over and above these mishaps the general condition of the old pile suggests it may be past saving. For it’s not just general and gradual decay. Sometimes things take a dramatic turn with a fall of masonry.
Again, click on an image to enlarge it.
So for a number of reasons I suspect that whoever’s behind this project – and the jury’s still out on this – will incorporate very little if anything of the old building into the new. No matter what is claimed in the planning application.
‘SEND A MESSAGE TO LONDON’
The name Tyisha might be familiar because it’s the area near Llanelli railway station that’s plagued by petty criminals and drug addicts. Tyisha is now the most deprived ward in the whole county of Carmarthenshire. Here’s a report from WalesOnline.
You’ll read one local complain, “I think the area’s used as a place to put undesirables . . . a lot of landlords in the area don’t know what their residents get up to and don’t care – they just care about the money in their pockets . . . so many of the drug abusers they’re not even from the area – loads of them are coming here from England, why are they all being dumped here?”
(Many of the ‘landlords’ will be housing associations.)
People are being dumped in Tyisha because a number of third sector bodies and other agencies have found a location with the necessary criteria: working class urban area (locals can be ignored), near railway station (‘clients’ can be put on a train from anywhere), cheap property (ideal for HMOs).
Of course, once the rot sets in there begins a spiral of decline that only benefits those causing the problem. What I mean is that property prices fall even further because nobody wants to live in Tyisha. Those locals who have not moved out are now stuck in houses worth less than they were worth five years ago.
Although Plaid Cymru is supposed to run the county council, and has even held the Llanelli seat in Corruption Bay, the town councillors are overwhelmingly Labour. And some of them are of the worst sort.
Though Gary Jones in Llangennech is definitely one of the better ones (he’s even sent me photos of Dennis Coslett’s grave). But I’m afraid he’s let himself down by his involvement with Tyisha.
It pains me to say this, but what I see here is a Labour councillor apparently celebrating the misery brought to an area of his town by his party’s cronies in the third sector and housing associations. It supports the widely-held view that Labour keeps Wales poor in order to blame the Tories and keep getting elected.
What the hell were you thinking, Gary? What is that pose?
Last year it was announced that Tyisha may be in line for cosmetic redevelopment to the tune of over £9m. Which means that Tyisha can look forward to those big flower pots on the streets for the drug addicts and the drunks to use as very public lavatories.
Here’s a suggestion for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. Don’t give public funding to your cronies for them to import problems and then we won’t have to spend yet more Welsh public money to remedy those problems. Capiche?
What a way to run a country!
If we had a functioning media then the properties causing the worst problems would be identified, the relevant information obtained from the council and the Land Registry. And then the owners of those properties, and/or those renting or leasing the properties, would be named and shamed.
And then, rather than capitalising on peoples’ misery, the town’s Labour councillors might pull their fingers out and demand an end to it.
Over the years I’ve written a lot about One Planet Developments. I wish there’d be no need to write anything because I wish the insane TAN 6 legislation had never been passed.
But it was passed and, predictably, it is now being abused. For people soon realised that the OPD route offered a way around the ban on new dwellings in open country. That’s because planning permission is guaranteed if you can satisfy planners the dwelling you want qualifies as an OPD.
We’re at the stage now where a ‘Hobbit house’ that cost a few thousand to knock together with straw bales and bits of spare wood is being offered for sale at £475,000. There is some uncertainty in planning circles as to whether such a structure can be demolished and replaced with a conventional bricks and mortar mansion.
That the seller feels they can ask this price suggests they believe such a transformation can now be wrought.
While on the outskirts of Swansea developers have seen a way to build properties in the green belt – with a few acres of land – by calling them ‘farmlets’. Each of them less than two acres.
Now I learn of yet another innovative approach to OPDs from Swansea, this time a plan to house military veterans. And not just one settlement but “a network of ecovillages”.
I have to confess that when I saw the city of my dreams linked with veterans my heart sank. I immediately thought of this crew, the Democrats and Veterans Party, shown here at one of their shindigs.
The two principals are Christopher John Carree, who lives in Ravenhill, and Ross Edwards of Morriston, who is clearly local. With maybe Carree in the driving seat.
And yet, despite the Swansea connections, the Garrison Farm Facebook page suggests the operation is based in Chester. Though the map is fixed on Brittany!
If we are to have OPDs then I’m sure some would prefer Welsh veterans living on them rather than charlatans from over the border doing well-paid day jobs in England and using the OPD as a weekend retreat.
As I’ve hinted, the worry is that too often the term ‘veterans’ links with far right politics. And heading out into the boondocks of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire has echoes of US militias getting away from the federal government.
Maybe Messrs Carree and Edwards can clear things up.
While I was looking into this report I ran across a site that brings together those looking for land in Wales suitable for OPDs. You might want to follow it. If nothing else, reading it will remind you of the threat posed by One Planet Developments.
‘I DON’T WANT TO GROUSE, BUT . . . ‘
Actually, they’re pheasants, but you get my drift. And they’re to be shot on land around Cwmrhaidr, to the south of Machynlleth.
I suppose I first became aware of the issue when I saw a tweet from beaver lover Iolo Williams. Yet another rich person from England has bought a chunk of Wales and proceeded to do whatever he likes.
Iolo Williams calls for Natural Resources Wales to intervene. Touching. He’d have had more chance of a response if he’d called on the Vladivostok fire department.
This new site for game shooting is marketed as, ‘Dyfi Falls’ by Guns on Pegs. It’s said to be “near the village of Machnylleth (sic), in mid Wales”.
A resistance group was set up on September 30th called Arbed Cwmrhaidr a’r Llyfnant (Save Cwmrhaidr and the Llyfnant). The group explains that its concerns are not limited to the unnecessary killing of birds for sport:
“The release of 40,000 gamebirds, most of which seem to be escaping into neighbouring farms and woodlands (including SSSIs), are already causing massive ecological damage. They eat endangered plants and animals, compete with native wildlife for food, and their excrement creates ammonia pollution capable of destroying the rare species that are special to this place.
The bulldozing of trees and new roads is devastating this landscape, a famous beauty spot since Victorian times.
Who benefits? Not local people. The company (Cambrian Birds) is registered in Shropshire. The owner is in Essex. The gamekeepers have been brought in. The clients pay over £2500 per day, but it will be invisible to the local economy.”
I’m not sure I approve of, “famous beauty spot since Victorian times”. Wasn’t the area beautiful before it was ‘discovered’ by visitors from over the border? We’re in Columbus territory here.
As you’ve read, the land was bought by a man from Essex and has been leased to Cambrian Birds. If the protesters know the identity of the buyer they seem reluctant to make it public. Thankfully, the quibble-free proprietor of this blog has no such qualms.
Here’s the title document. It tells us that the land was bought by Thomas William Speakman for £4.75m, without apparently needing a loan or a mortgage. I’m afraid the Land Registry did not offer a plan of the land via website enquiry.
How did we get to this situation?
Certain agencies, including the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, have been so successful in ‘selling’ Wales that many people now see Wales as the new frontier (or maybe the final frontier); a territory just waiting to be ‘opened up’, peopled only by primitive natives who can be brushed aside.
They will continue to believe this until we, the Welsh people, make them realise they’ve got it wrong. And it has to be us because no one else will do it.
To end on a lighter note. Something that occurred to me as I was writing this piece is that these birds are now running wild on land coveted by the rewilders of Summit to Sea.
What do Monbiot and his chorus of memsahibs have to say about this?
AN UNUSUAL SCAM
A good source has been in touch to tell me of a couple in their sixties, husband and wife, man and woman, male and female, who stayed – briefly – in a cottage he owns. They stayed one night, left early the next day and then tried a bit of blackmail.
Which is why they’re appearing here.
They arrived the Friday before last having booked through holidaycottages.co.uk. Within an hour the woman was on the phone complaining that the television didn’t work, the place was filthy, and she had been vacuum cleaning almost since she’d arrived.
When the guests went out for dinner the cleaner checked the place out – everything was fine, and the hoover hadn’t been used.
Early the next morning my source found a scruffy note pushed through his letter-box with a litany of complaints – but the pair had fled! He soon received an e-mail, which read:
“Following our abortive holiday to the above cottage which we left on 3 October 2020 due to dirty condition, missing/not working equipment, we have contacted holidaycottages.co.uk with photographs of the filthy conditions and await their response.
We have given that company 7 days in which to respond to our refund request and advised them that if they do not respond within that timeframe, we will issue county court proceedings (small claims jurisdiction) against them bringing you in as third party defendants.
While we would like to resolve this matter amicably, we shall have no hesitation in publishing our photographs online and commencing said proceedings in the event you or the holiday cottage agent do not strive to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to this matter.
It would appear, thus far, our communications with the company are going unanswered and, hence, court proceedings look inevitable unless you wish to settle this matter yourselves”.
Then the photographs materialised. I’m using just two to make the point. The one on the left is claimed to be from inside the cottage. The one on the right is actually from inside the cottage. Two completely different window frames.
And yet . . . in both images we see the same yard. Someone has gone to the trouble of Photoshopping the image on the left by imposing the phoney window frame onto a genuine picture of the yard below!
There was an exchange of e-mails which resulted in the complainant giving her bank details and demanding an instant refund for the two weeks she and her silent husband had paid for.
As far as my source and the local police can figure it . . . the woman would have quickly cancelled or claimed back the payment made on her credit card, then demanded a refund from holidaycottages.co.uk, plus a refund – or more – from my source using the threat of putting the doctored photographs online.
This was too well practised to be a one-off. So if Mrs Sandra T—–t of W—— M—–, Suffolk, tries to book a holiday in your property tell her you’re hosting the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference and both bedrooms are taken.
My source made light of it eventually, and had a little laugh in his final e-mail to her. Here’s an extract:
“But then was it worth it, such a tawdry little scam – surely you are now old enough to see how pathetic you are. You made so many mistakes . . . the fingerprints and some lovely CCTV shots of you enjoying P———. A word of advice, the trouser suit is not a good look in a woman of your age – especially from behind”.
The fellow’s a cad!
THE BLM DIVIDEND
Ever since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis the world has gone a little bit crazy. But there’s never been a better time for those who can sniff out Welsh public funding from a long way away. From England, in fact.
You must have noticed that any third sector organisation hoping for Welsh money either gives itself a full-on Welsh name or, at the very least, adds ‘Cymru’ to the name of the local branch of an English organisation.
As for diversity, it will ‘represent’ a tiny percentage of the population. In my experience BAME organisations are usually made up of sub-Saharan Africans and those with origins in India or Pakistan. Others, such as the industrious Chinese, seem to be totally absent. And of course, there are white people – usually women – with Labour Party connections, in order to ease the flow of the lucre.
The help such organisations provide to members of the public is debatable, but they serve their primary function, which is to create well-paid sinecures and regular jollies for a class of people, often ‘woke’ to the point of hysteria, who might be unemployable in the real world.
Diverse Cymru made the news recently with this call for more help for BAME people suffering mental health issues under Covid lockdown restrictions. According to Samira Salter of Diverse Cymru, BAME people have been “forgotten about” during the pandemic.
Which is nonsense. George Floyd was killed on May 2, and BAME people have never experienced such solicitous attention as in the period since his death.
The people who have suffered worst under Covid are poor people. And certainly many BAME people fall into that category. But the great majority of poor people in Wales are white. It’s about poverty, not colour.
And if we’re dealing with the mental health issues around Coronavirus and lockdown, then I guarantee that these problems are worse in rural areas, not the cities and towns where BAME populations are largely found.
So who runs Diversity Cymru? A source has given me some information and after reading it I knew what kind of body we are dealing with.
“Lead director is Ms Eunica Aure who’s an economist from the Philippines and was a government Spad there. After a stint in the Asian banking sector she moved to London to work on land evaluation of estates in Afghanistan and now works for WYG the consultants that management consult on overseas aid.
Mr Benjamin Coates. His full time job is Assistant Director & Head of Performance and Effectiveness at Equality and Human Rights Commission, based in London.
Ms Helen Susannah Dodoo. Her daytime job is Assistant General Manager at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which on her Linkedin profile she has located in New South Wales, Australia. She actually lives in Pontcanna, Cardiff.”
What the hell do these people know about Wales? Who appointed them trustees?
I didn’t believe the bit about New South Wales, so I checked. It’s true.
These people, remember, are the trustees of a ‘Welsh’ third sector body that has received millions and millions of pounds of Welsh public funding.
The website tells us, “Diverse Cymru was created in 2010 through a merger between Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People and Awetu” (Swahili for unity).
Diverse Cymru is either a pantomime horse of an organisation or a clever merger suggesting disabled people and BAME populations have a shared experience of discrimination.
Whatever the answer, how many other BAME bodies are operating in Wales? And how many charities and local government services for the disabled? And how many bodies tackling mental health issues?
With Diverse Cymru we find yet more of the duplication, competition and waste of money that we find wherever we look in the third sector.
(And there was me thinking that Finance Wales exists to build up the Welsh economy, to create jobs.)
Down in the south west, local authorities are coughing up lots of money for Diverse Cymru to deliver services to the disabled which elsewhere, and on the national stage, Diverse Cymru seems to have abandoned.
As the latest accounts tell us, the principle source of funding now is now Direct Payments from the three local authorities of the south west. This explains the office in Carmarthen.
For some reason the funding from Pembrokeshire reduced by more than 50% from 2018 to 2019, while the other two authorities increased their payments. What is the explanation for these variations?
Of course, getting paid for delivering services looks a lot better than just getting hand-outs from the ‘Welsh Government’, and this is reflected in the table below.
But I return to what I said earlier about Diverse Cymru being an absurd hybrid trying to deliver two unrelated services. Not only that, but we have also found a geographic split between the Cardiff-based, BAME arm, and the council-funded services for independent living for the disabled organised from Carmarthen.
And so I can’t help wondering if any of that money raised in the south west is funding what are clearly the true priorities of Diverse Cymru.
LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL
It’s time to catch up with another rascal in the manly form of Tristan Scott Haynes who, last year, bought the old Shire Hall in Llangefni, capital of Ynys Môn.
In that final appearance I reported that the Shire Hall was up for sale. That, I thought, was the end of it, unless another ‘interesting’ character took the stage.
But now I learn that the old monstrosity has been withdrawn from sale.
Not only that, but Haynes is touting for investors. Or rather, he has issued a prospectus that says it’s directed at contractors to fulfil his dream in Llangefni, but as you read the document you soon realise he’s looking for money.
The prospectus is issued by his company Chief Properties Ltd, though it doesn’t say whether it came from the Paris office or the Los Angeles office. In truth, it’s probably from the garage he rents in Bedford.
There is no website for Chief Properties, but I did find a very basic YouTube channel. I suppose it has to be basic because the company has no money and is lumbered with two loans from Together Commercial Finance Ltd, another of the ‘specialist lenders’ that we so often find in Manchester.
Read the prospectus for yourself. (I am indebted to a recipient for sending it to me. He assures me he’s ripped open the sofa and is now going through all his trouser pockets in order to cash in on this unmissable offer.)
As such documents go, it’s badly written. I suppose this would serve as an example, “29th May 2020 Executives of the Anglesey County Council suggests and supports the development of SHIRE HALL to residential use.”
In addition, it’s amateurishly compiled with a number of spelling mistakes. One glaring mistake, due to the large print, is the “Ariel view” provided of the building.
And here’s an example of the gibberish I’m referring to. What the hell is it trying to say? How does the council feel about being associated with this? It reads like a very poor translation.
But it’s not all bad, for the prospectus reminds us of Eryri’s claim to fame: “Snowdonia National Park – otherwise known as the adventure capital of the UK”.
The bastion of Welsh resistance to English aggression now reduced to England’s playground. Makes you proud to be Welsh.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I’m kicking off with an update of last week’s piece about the old Gwynfryn mansion near Llanystumdwy. The ‘main course’ will be a fuller account of the crooks behind the Glynllifon project on Ynys Môn. But I’ve also slipped in a couple of tit-bits: news of the latest windfarm, and the curious business career of the guy at the centre of the cladding scandal in Corruption Bay.
To recap: Plas Gwynfryn / Gwynfryn Plas is a 19th century gentry mansion near Llanystumdwy that ended up as a hotel and was badly damaged by fire in 1982. Since when it has lain empty. Deteriorating.
The Gwynfryn ruin itself is owned by Aaron Hill, a self-styled ‘property developer’ who drifted into Gwynedd a decade or more ago. He is an associate of the Duggan family of Bryn Llys, criminals of whom I have written a number of times. Most recently, last month, in ‘Bryn Llys, the Liverpool connection’.
Though the ‘developers’ in this instance are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong. The latter has a company called Acquérir Ltd; Wilmott has a few companies of his own; but they get together in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd.
OK, so what’s new?
Let’s go back to the fire in 1982. I’m having this second-hand, of course, but a member of the fire service told a local that the fire was started in a number of different places. Arson was suspected.
Soon after the fire, the owner of Gwynfryn, Philip Andrew Bush, disappeared, and was not seen again until 1995. Around the same time a John Day appeared, apparently acting for Bush, sometimes posing as a prospective buyer.
Day was in fact a scrap dealer and, “Over the next few years he filled the derelict building and grounds with scrap from various locations in the area including the old Butlins, a wood-yard and chapel and many scrap vehicles. This caused great disturbance to the surrounding neighbours”.
Bush seemed to vanish again around 2001/2. Day too, leaving the accumulated junk at Gwynfryn.
Day moved to Llanwnda where he ran a junk/antique business. On the death of his partner a dispute is reported between Day and his late partner’s children, with them getting access to Gwynfryn. I’m told that £20,000 was realised from the 80 tons of metal and vehicles cleared away.
The plastic chairs and other junk from Butlins and elsewhere was left. And is still there.
In the earlier piece I told you, ” . . . in April 1980 a couple named Hooper sold what remained of the Gwynfryn estate to Global Leisure Ltd. In 1995 it was transferred to Magnet International Holdings Ltd, a Guernsey-registered company. Magnet was compulsorily struck off in 2006.”
I have since learnt that on the passing of Magnet International Holdings ownership transferred to Casablanca Investments Inc of Monrovia, Liberia. There are many companies with the same or similar names but I can’t track down that one.
Also, while Bush may give an address in Switzerland, and perhaps claims to be a tax exile, many believe he lives in England. Kent, to be more exact. And to take exactitude to an even higher lever, the Canterbury-Faversham area.
This Steptoe of the Seven Seas resurfaced again around 2017 and a sale was agreed with Aaron Hill. After which the new owner of Gwynfryn became quite the busy boy, cutting trees, tidying up the drive, and you’ll never guess who helped him – the Bryn Llys gang!
Knowing how altruism weeps from every tattooed and stretched pore I’m sure there was no ulterior motive in them doing this work. Perish the thought!
Then again . . .
To give you some idea of when the latest dynamic duo got involved, Wilmott put out what you see below on his Facebook page 23 April, and Armstrong put out this video a day later.
Which means that Wilmott and Armstrong have been involved for at least six months.
It’s also clear that they’ve been dealing with Gwynedd’s planning department, and they’ve found these discussions encouraging. One of them told neighbours that planners are ‘desperate’ to see something done at Gwynfryn.
I do hope this ‘desperation’ hasn’t beguiled the boys into thinking this is in the bag.
Though they might believe they have an ace in the hole. For one of them has stated that there exists legislation allowing old buildings to be developed without restrictions if costs are too high to restore to the building to its original state.
They may believe this gives them carte blanche to do whatever they like at Gwynfryn.
But there are other issues the developers and investors are probably hoping aren’t raised. Which is why I’m raising them!
For example, there’s the access to Gwynfryn, the only access. Right on a junction. Now this was no problem when the squire was trotting to church of a Sunday in the 1880s; but twenty-first century traffic – especially in the summer months when the ‘residential units’ will be busiest – has to condemn the project to the receptacle marked ‘Trash’.
For I would be surprised, alarmed even, if Cyngor Gwynedd’s Highways Department didn’t have something to say about this accident black spot just waiting to make the front pages of the local weeklies.
Finally, Natural Resources Wales will have to do a bat survey. And although they don’t notice ‘nuclear mud’ when it’s dumped off Cardiff, or iffy timber contracts, they will soon realise that the Gwynfryn ruin is home to many bats.
The bats aren’t alone, for there are owls and other critters to be found in the ruins.
Given the criminals peripheral to this project, and the offshore links, I believe that, to allay the reasonable fears of a number of people, Cyngor Gwynedd must insist that the identity / identities of the investors behind the project be made public.
ANOTHER ‘COMMUNITY OWNED, LOCAL BENEFITS’ WIND FARM. NOT
Do you remember those far-off days when devolution was young, gambolling in the yet empty meadows of Cardiff Bay? When there was hope in the collective Cymric breast as we looked forward to a new era of progress and prosperity?
No, nor me.
Though I do recall that when the ‘Welsh Government’ started implementing the legislation that it insisted was to be our contribution to saving the planet we were promised bounty unlimited in terms of jobs and benefits for hard-pressed rural communities and post-industrial urban areas.
This was the sugar to sweeten the pill of tearing up our forests and peat bogs to plant thousands of wind turbines. And it probably explains Natural Resources Wales, which came into existence, fittingly, on All Fools’ Day 2013.
Since then it’s been a succession of wind farms across the land owned by hedge funds, companies nobody’d heard of ’til they crossed the Dyke, government-owned companies from Germany and Scandinavia, with the only Welsh beneficiaries being hard-pressed – sometimes absentee – landlords.
But perhaps both come under the umbrella of Coriolis Energy Developments LLP. Yes, a Limited Liability Partnership, which itself was only formed in July 2019.
There are other Coriolis companies associated with Murray, but they’re either too new to have filed accounts, or they’re in the red, or, in the case of Coriolis Renewable Energy Ltd – the oldest of the Murray Coriolis companies – it was dissolved in 2015.
There’s not a lot there to inspire confidence. Little experience and less money. So why has Murray got the Margam Mountain gig? Well, boys and girls, I suspect he has connections . . . in London.
Which brings me back to Natural Resources Wales. For NRW has given permission for this new wind farm on land it owns.
If you look at the NRW board, then from the chairman down, you’ll find people who would have had trouble finding Wales on a map. That’s because they’ve been appointed by someone, or some committee, outside of Wales.
If we go back to the origin of the NRW, it’s widely known that the new agency took over the responsibilities of Forestry Commission Wales, The Countryside Council for Wales and Environment Agency Wales. What is less well known is that NRW also took powers from the ‘Welsh Government’ – yet we are asked to believe that NRW answers to the buffoons in Corruption Bay!
No, Natural Resources Wales was set up at the instigation of London to facilitate the kind of developments we’re looking at here. But not only wind turbines.
For once you realise the nature of the beast, other things become clear. Such as the matter I hinted at earlier, why NRW was so easily satisfied that mud being dumped off Cardiff from Hinkley Point nuclear power station is safe.
It’s because the word came down – to both NRW and the ‘Welsh Government’ – that the decision had been made. Accept it!
Why couldn’t the ‘Welsh Government’ have set up a company to design and build wind turbines in Wales? It could have created a few thousand jobs and kept a lot of money in the country. And if we’d been good at it, then that company could have competed for contracts around the world.
I’ll tell you why – because that’s not how a colony is allowed to operate.
More information has been received. Much more. It’s pretty disturbing to realise that creatures like those you’re going to read about are walking around free. Worse, that they can still find ways to invest money they don’t officially possess.
Money they’ve conned out of decent, hard-working people.
The two I’m going to write about are Neil Moir, a native of Cheshire now living on Ynys Môn, and Rhys Wyn Williams, a local.
Let’s deal with Neil Moir first.
As we read in this report from 1999: ‘THE winner of top TV quiz Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is set to lose his fortune – because he is a crook.
Millions saw 51-year-old Neil Muir (sic) land a £64,000 prize this week. But under the programme’s rules he is BANNED from entering.
Muir has convictions for theft, deception and forgery. And Rule 6 says: “You must . . . have no criminal convictions (subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974).” London TV company Celador launched an investigation yesterday.’
Moir is a fundamentally dishonest individual. A career con man.
You’ll see that the purchase was made with loans from one of the many ‘specialist lenders’ in Manchester. This one being Goldcrest Finance Ltd. Remember the name, for we’ll return to it later.
Also worth noting is Moir’s company Impactt Properties Ltd, which changed its name from NE11 Ltd in August 2017. There is significance in the ‘tt’ that will be also become clear.
A few years back Moir got involved with local con man Rhys Williams. I can call him that with certainty. Here’s a report from the Daily Post of Williams’ appearance on Y Byd ar Bedwar, complete with video.
This is a rather complicated story with the potential to overwhelm and confuse, so I’ll try to simplify it.
1/ Rhys Wyn Williams is a fraudster and a con man. He has ripped off many people and owes millions of pounds.
2/ Much of this criminality took place in Spain and the Gulf of Iran. A great deal of the money was channelled though Dubai.
3/ These criminal assets are now being repatriated back to the UK.
4/ Neil Moir acts as front man, helping launder the criminal assets through property deals.
To confirm the Williams-Impactt-Moir link, the three documents below should help. They’re set out in chronological order.
On the left we see an announcement from January 2016 that Rhys Williams was appointed the legal representative of Impactt General Trading Ltd of Dubai. The document signed by Brian Balachander, director and shareholder of Impactt.
In the centre we see a letter(?) from Neil Moir, using his Bodorgan address, and Impactt headed notepaper, telling Czech company Via Aurata Europaea SE that he is ready to receive the “underwriting fee of £150,000.00”. To be sent to the Commercial Bank of Dubai. The UK face of this company is Via Aurata Ltd, but the only director is resident in the Czech Republic.
On the right you’ll see a capture from the Companies House filings for a company called Golden East Limited. This company brings together Moir and Balachander.
A further link comes with this Impactt document signed by Balachander which uses the same font and logo as on the one below used by Moir.
The address for Golden East is Kemp House, 160 City Road, London EC1V 2NX . . . the same address as Moir’s company Glynllifon Ltd. What’s more it was set up 14 June – just 4 days after Glynllifon Ltd. Such coincidences!
Another Moir company at the same address is Helvetia Finvest Ltd. Incorporated in August last year. The other director was Lode Hendrikx, a Belgian, resident in the Netherlands, who I’m told has done bird in Switzerland.
The declared directors of Golden East have been Moir, Balachander and John McKenzie, but when we look at the distribution of the shares we see that a majority is held by Vijay Anandan Somu Rao. So who’s he?
As we’ve seen, Glynllifon Ltd was the vehicle set up to buy the Glynllifon hotel in September last year for a claimed £850,000. I emphasise ‘claimed’ because the building is worth half that. But paying over the odds is a classic money-laundering tactic.
Though the money to make the purchase allegedly came from Goldcrest Finance Ltd of Manchester, run by a family of Indian heritage. The other directors are John Charles McGuire and Steven Mark Gildea.
I’m fairly sure that McGuire and Gildea both live in Manchester, but Gildea might be of interest to Welsh readers.
I’m not for one minute suggested that Gildea is up to no good but he is a director of Goldcrest Finance, and there are certainly questions to be asked of any company getting involved with Neil Moir and Rhys Williams.
Though telling Moir and Williams apart may not always be easy. Because there are those convinced Williams uses Moir’s name. It would make sense, because Williams is a bankrupt twice over, and before hiraeth got the better of him in Marbella he pissed off people it’s unwise to piss off.
However it’s being done, Williams and Moir are trying to launder dirty money through various property deals in north west Wales. Another one is the site of the old Marine Hotel in Caernarfon; on North Road overlooking the Menai.
Now you know me, I love to make enquiries . . .
The Marine Hotel site was bought in July this year by Malaysian Invest Ltd, a company giving an address we’re very familiar with – 160 City Road, London EC1V 2NX. The only director of this company is . . . yes, Neil Moir!
(Brian Balachander, of Golden East, has associates in Malaysia.)
The money to make the purchase supposedly came from Broadoak Private Finance Ltd of Abercynon . . . sorry! Manchester. Another of those ‘specialist lenders’ that seem to account for most of that city’s financial sector.
But Moir and Williams don’t need to borrow money. So taking out loans could mean:
The lender is a distraction to disguise the fact the buyers already have money
The lender will be ripped off (as happened with the loans to those who ended up at Plas Glynllifon. See ‘Weep for Wales’).
There was certainly no need to borrow money in this case. Because if we go back to the title document we see that in 2016 this land (with a couple of adjoining titles) was sold for £300,000. This, I’m told, was a cash purchase by Rhys Williams.
So, either Moir has bought the Marine Hotel site off Rhys Williams or, if Williams is using Moir’s name, then he’s bought it from himself. (Again, echoes of Plas Glynllifon.)
Lies, corruption and money laundering from start to finish. And on an inter-continental scale.
Which is why I insist that, as with Gwynfryn, planners and councillors should demand to know who is ultimately behind every commercial property development. Where is the money coming from?
I wish to thank Adrian Parsons, a victim of Rhys Williams, for his valuable contribution to this report.
If you’ve been following the news then you’ll know that serious concerns have been raised about cladding on blocks of flats in Corruption Bay. And indeed elsewhere in Wales. But as concerns were taken to local MS Neil McEvoy, and given the number of new apartment blocks in Cardiff, that’s been the focus.
Finding the problem was enough of a worry, but now it’s emerged that the certificates saying everything was hunky-dory were faked. This came to light when one of the residents of Century Wharf became suspicious of the signature on the External Wall Fire Review (EWS1).
This concerned resident rang the surveyor – who was horrified to learn that her signature appeared to be on the form, because she had not signed it.
The inspection was undertaken by Specialist Facade Inspections Ltd, a company set up as recently as last October in Newbridge, Gwent; and with just one director, 22-year-old Joshua Tedstone.
Yet the article linked to says: “Paul Tedstone, chief technical officer of Specialist Facade Inspections, founded the company with his son in October last year. The company offers EWS1 certifications, cladding inspections and remedial works like re-cladding.”
Whatever the answer, Tedstone Snr was adamant that he hadn’t forged the signatures either. And I’ve been told he’s probably right.
Even so, I got to wondering about Tedstone, and his background. What I found out makes for interesting reading. Below is a list of the companies Paul Tedstone has been involved with. Many of them have gone belly-up owing a lot of money.
I suppose it could all be bad luck . . . one episode after another of bad luck. But I find it difficult to believe that anybody could be this unlucky.
Paul Tedstone’s business record can be broken into three parts:
1/ From 1996 he was involved in three companies with a Glenn Dunn, all of which failed, one spectacularly, owing over £1.5m.
2/ From 2011 to 2017 he has parted company with Dunn, yet we see more failed companies, setting new records for debt.
3/ From 2018 Tedstone seems to have teamed up with local businessmen running interlinked companies. (The one exception is Alusafe ACM Ltd.)
Here’s the list of companies Paul Tedstone has been involved with in chronological order by his involvement. (And here’s the table in pdf format with working links.)
This story is still being teased out, but few will emerge from it with any credit.
Certainly not the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, which was given some £60m by Westminster for this very purpose . . . but spent it on something else.
HOW DID WE GET INTO THIS MESS?
For socialists like Labour and Plaid Cymru the 18th and 19th centuries were terrible times, ‘the people’ exploited by ‘evil capitalists’. (Leftists love their labels and their cliches!) And yet . . .
Those ‘evil capitalists’ who owned the mines, the slate quarries, the steel and tinplate works, even the great country estates and the big houses – created hundreds of thousands of jobs. Jobs that supported families, and communities, and a nation.
The countryside was dotted with small, family farms. Homes to Welsh families. Each little harbour had its fishing boats.
God! it must have been awful. Marinas and caravan parks and activity centres and holiday homes and OPDs and managed decline are such an improvement.
Today we are expected to welcome crooks and shysters such as you’ve read about here as ‘investors’. We must accept the wind turbines – all foreign owned! – that trash our hills and increase flooding – but create no jobs – because they contribute to saving the planet!
This is little different to 19th century clergymen urging workers and small farmers to accept their lot because there was some intangible reward at some unspecified time in an indeterminate future.
The real message was that there’s sod all for you in this life, Dai. So just accept your lot. It was, ‘Pie in the sky, by and by.’
And it’s the same message today . . . but without the jobs, and without the little fishing fleets, and with the Welsh family farm under concerted attack from socialist politicians in Corruption Bay and their soap-dodging and rewilding friends.
If exploitation was wrong in earlier centuries why is it acceptable now?
Is it because today we are lied to by a ‘Welsh Government’?
A ‘government’ that behaves no different to a third world kleptocracy in the way it allows the country to be exploited, or stands silent rather than confess its impotence. The only difference being that there are (to the best of my knowledge) no offshore accounts, no French chateaux.
That’s because those idiots in the ‘Welsh Government’ are either too stupid to see that they’re running Wales into the grave, or, it’s deliberate, done in order to maintain the system that has served them for a century: Poor Wales – blame the Tories – vote Labour.
That system has certainly served the Labour Party, but it has not served Wales.
Which is why it’s time to get rid of Labour, and their little helpers in Plaid Cymru, and anyone else who believes that socialism serves anyone other than socialist politicians.
Next May’s elections will be your chance to make a change. Use it by voting for Gwlad or the WNP. They’re Wales’ last hope.
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
After my tribulations last week, with computer and internet service, I’m delighted to report that everything is now resolved.
Despite the problems I managed to make a start on the piece you’re about to read. It’s yet another tale of money from north west England – possibly further afield – buying property in northern Wales. And as is so often the case, when you look more closely into what’s happening, and who’s involved, then the more questions arise.
An interesting property, Gwynfryn Plas, aka Plas Gwynfryn, near Llanystumdwy, on the Llŷn peninsula. Due to both forms being used I shall stick with ‘Gwynfryn’.
It was home to Hugh John Ellis-Nanney, scion of an anglicised Welsh gentry family. Educated at Eton and Oxford, and now the owner of a sizeable estate, Ellis-Nanney wanted a house to reflect his status, and so Gwynfryn was completed in 1878.
Persuaded to stand in the 1890 by-election for Caernarvon Boroughs, Conservative Ellis-Nanney was defeated by the Liberal candidate, up and coming local boy, David Lloyd George.
With Ellis-Nanney having no male heir the estate passed to his daughter, and after her death Gwynfryn served a number of purposes, finally a hotel, before being gutted by fire in 1982.
From around 2010 reports appeared in the media bemoaning the fact that the old pile was in such a mess, with no one knowing who owned it. Here’s one report from the BBC in October 2011.
In the report you will have read, “Aaron Hill, who lives near Caernarfon, wants to take over and renovate the property, which was gutted by fire in 1982”. Hang on! – Aaron Hill?
Yes, the very same Aaron Hill who bought 4 Glanrafon Terrace, near Bryn Llys, and then ‘loaned’ fraudster Jonathan Duggan the money to buy the land attached to the house. Done so Duggan could extend his holding and lay an unauthorised access road. (Bryn Llys is now called ‘Snowdon Summit View’.)
The original title document states that in April 1980 a couple named Hooper sold what remained of the Gwynfryn estate to Global Leisure Ltd. In 1995 it was transferred to Magnet International Holdings Ltd, a Guernsey-registered company. Magnet was compulsorily struck off in 2006.
The shareholders are all companies using the name ‘Bachmann’ followed by a different Greek letter. Possibly this Peter John Bachmann.
While the listed directors are ADL One Limited and ADL Two Limited, both linked with a long list of mainly property companies. All of them using PO Box 175 in St Peter Port, Guernsey.
But, strangely, no mention of Philip Bush, who has owned the property throughout this period.
If we carry on reading the title document we see that in June 2018: “Copy filed under CYM745545. 4 (28.06.2018) The land edged . . . has been removed from this title and registered under the title number . . . “ The property description has been altered to reflect the land alone remaining in the original title.
And confirming that the house is now registered under CYM745545, and owned by Aaron Hill. Who is said to have paid £100,000 for the ruin.
Unfortunately, the Land Registry does not offer maps with either title.
A MAN OF THE WORLD
Leaving the land around the house owned by Philip Andrew Bush, using as his address a PO box in Switzerland. Bush may be a successor to Magnet International Holdings.
He seems to be an interesting character, though getting information on him is not easy. Largely because he operates through foreign and offshore companies. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Bush is mentioned in the Paradise Papers.
The address given for Bush Shipping is 77 Walton Street, Chelsea. Since 2008 it has been home to Jak’s Cafe & Deli.
Of perhaps more interest is this Annual Return (to Companies House) from 2006. The other directors appear to be his daughters, but it’s the division of the 10,000 shares I found interesting. For Bush has just one share in his name, the other 9,999 are held by International Nominees SA, with an address in Switzerland.
So, the man who owns the land around Gwynfryn is involved in shipping and a network – or networks – of offshore companies.
We know the house and the land were owned under one title by Philip Andrew Bush, who may or may not have been a successor to the companies that had earlier owned the property, Global Leisure and Magnet International Holdings.
A number of reports from 2018/19 suggested that the house and the land were for sale together. This Facebook page tells us that someone believed this was still the case as late as November 2019.
Yet, as we’ve seen, the house was detached from the original title, and that new title bought by Aaron Hill 12 June 2018. So why did people over a year later think the house and land were still for sale?
And as if that wasn’t enough ducking and weaving, ‘now you see me, now you don’t’, who’s that over in the trees, in camouflage fatigues, watching Gwynfryn through his high powered binoculars? Well, bless me! – it’s Bore Grylls!
Because the address for Bore’s Dragon Raiders Activity Park is ‘Gwynfryn Lodge’. In addition, he owns a tract of woodland that belonged to the original estate.
Grylls is always looking to buy more of Wales so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s interested in buying the Gwynfryn land from Philip Bush. This would be one explanation for why it’s no longer for sale.
Which leaves the house, or what remains of it. Is Grylls also after that?
Because I’m still not clear why Aaron Hill bought Gwynfryn. I’m pretty sure he has neither the expertise nor the money to restore it. In fact, he may have no intention of restoring Gwynfryn.
Though others appear to have plans for Gwynfryn.
SALT AND VINEGAR
For last year Cyngor Gwynedd received a pre-application enquiry to turn the old house into “30 residential units”. The inquiry came from Partington & Associates Ltd of Chorley, Lancashire, on behalf of DM Property Group Ltd.
(What I’m referring to with this ‘enquiry’ is an approach from a developer to gauge the planning authority’s likely response; with the response influencing whether a planning application is submitted.)
Taylor turns up again as a director of DM Property Group. There’s little information available on DM Property because it was only formed in August 2019. Though Companies House can tell us that the other director is Michelle May Sturdy, who shares an address with Taylor.
If we follow the road connecting the Plas with the highway we see that it runs through Cabin Wood and on to the lodge or gatehouse, owned by the maggot-munching man of action.
It could be that given Hill’s links with the Duggan gang at Bryn Llys, and the notoriety they’ve attracted, he might have thought he had more chance of getting planning approval for 30 residential units at Gwynfryn if the application came from someone else.
Another possibility is that a deal has been struck, conditional on planning permission being granted. By which I mean, DM Property will buy Gwynfryn from Hill but only if it gets planning permission.
What other reasons might there be for a company to submit a planning application for a property it doesn’t own? I’m open to suggestions.
Of course, there is the possibility that what’s planned for the old house forms part of a bigger project. Which is why I raised the possibilty of Bore Grylls being involved.
Woodhouse, the self-styled ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’, came to a sticky end when his empire – built on selling rooms in his hotels as ‘investments’, also rooms in care homes that he never bothered building – was exposed last year.
Having been taken in by a con man I suppose we should be thankful Grylls is still with us. For it’s surely a miracle he survived all those SAS missions when instantly recognising and taking out the bad guys is a matter of life or death.
(Big sigh of relief! Touches wood.)
UPDATE 30.09.2020: I regret to inform you that Bore Grylls is no longer involved with Dragon Raiders at Llanystumdwy. Such a pity, as I enjoy writing about him. However . . .
A source tells me that those behind the Gwynfryn project are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong.
A company mentioned was Acquérir, where Armstrong is the sole director according to Companies House. This is a company offering, “Hands-off investing for the foreign investor”.
Where we find find Armstrong and Wilmott together is in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd, a company Incorporated as recently as last September.
My source further suggests that these two whizz-kids may have learnt all they know from motormouth Samuel Leeds. In this video we see Leeds talking with – or to – David Taylor of Partington & Associates and DM Property Group.
It’s said that Wilmott and Armstrong have exchanged contracts with Aaron Hill conditional on Taylor getting planning permission.
The picture at Gwynfryn is not yet high definition but definitely getting clearer. And if Armstrong and Wilmott are offering investment opportunities to foreign investors then, who knows, Gwynfryn could soon be owned by men with fur hats and snow on their boots!
‘Oh what a tangled web we weave . . . ‘.
Cyngor Gwynedd’s planners will no doubt insist that planning law must be adhered to. That’s their job. Though some of them have, in recent years, been far too zealous in accommodating ‘developers’.
So how is it likely to pan out?
The council’s planning officers will probably recommend that the planning committee (made up of councillors) approves the application for 30 residential units at Gwynfryn. I expect the committee to reject the recommendation and refuse planning permission.
The applicant(s) may at that stage appeal. If so, it becomes the responsibility of the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ to appoint an inspector to review the case and come to a decision that may over-rule the council planning committee.
This is where the farce turns into a charade. Because the ‘Welsh Government’ has no authority over the Planning Inspectorate. The Planning Inspectorate is run from London and invariably makes decisions against the Welsh national interest.
The bottom line is that we are helpless in the face of the onslaught represented by planning applications like this turning us into strangers in our own country. Helpless bystanders as Wales becomes England’s playground.
Even so . . .
It must be established who owns Gwynfryn.
What must also be established is the relationship between Aaron Hill, Partington & Associates / DM Property, Samuel Leeds, James Armstrong and Anthony Wilmott, and anyone else who might still be lurking in the shadows.
Also, the ownership of the land formerly linked with the house needs to be clarified, not least because so many offshore owners have been involved in the past. There is also the possibility that the plan for the Plas may be part of something bigger.
Let’s have the truth. Something so often absent from planning applications in Wales.
As I’ve said more than once . . . what passes for the UK economy is whatever best suits the City of London; that island unto itself floating on a cess-pit of corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance.
In Wales we see the ripples from the cess-pit in the form of crooks and shysters turning up looking for something to buy in order to launder money, or an address from which to operate shell companies.
(I’m not talking now of the Gwynfryn application but of countless other stories I’ve brought you over the years.)
Yet if devolution was what it pretends to be, if those in Corruption Bay were what they want us to believe they are, then this application at Llanystumdwy wouldn’t even get past the pre-application enquiry stage.
For the applicants would be told, ‘No, we don’t need this development because it offers nothing to the local area or to Wales other than further colonisation. Consequently, there is no point in you submitting a full planning application. Goodbye’.
It’s because we can’t do this that I don’t want to hear any more nonsense about “Making devolution work”, or that things would be so much better if only there was a different party managing the show.
At the very end of the latest Heritage Great Britain Annual Report & Accounts we read that everything is owned by a Jersey company:
So the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd is owned by Heritage Great Britain PLC which in turn is owned by Cherberry Ltd of Jersey.
And as I found out when writing the earlier piece, Cherberry Ltd of Jersey is in turn owned by Dukla Ltd of Gibraltar, set up August 2015. And Dukla is probably owned by a company based in an even more sun-blest location.
So it’s Snowdonia to Liverpool, Liverpool to Jersey, Jersey to Gibraltar, Gibraltar to God knows where.
Which means that the patriotically named Heritage Great Britain PLC is ultimately owned by an entity based offshore. But why would a company running tourist attractions need such a twisted web of ownership?
His interests are now looked after by his son, Allan James Stuart Leech, who sits as a director on the boards of these companies.
The reason I’m returning to the Snowdon Mountain Railway is because of its new hybrid locos, built by Clayton Equipment of Staffordshire. Word has it that these new locos are not performing as hoped.
As you can read in this piece from the Rail Technology Magazine website, “SMR plan to operate at Llanberis entirely on battery power, operate the generator charging on the uphill journey, turn off the generator on the downhill journey and use the regenerative braking to recharge the battery packs”.
The problem I’m hearing about seems to be two-fold. First, the batteries don’t charge as the loco descends, with the brakes on; and second, the brakes themselves don’t work too well as brakes. And with each battery weighing ten tonne, this is a serious matter.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions these problems have been hidden, but they won’t go away. And with the SMR planning a full switch to electric and hybrid technology they need to be fixed, pronto.
Due to this problematic investment in hybrid locos, and the loss of income from Covid-19, there must be a possibility that the Snowdon Mountain Railway will soon be seeking financial support from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.
The ‘Welsh Government’ should not give a penny to a company that is ultimately owned by persons or companies based in tax havens.
BALA LAKE RAILWAY
One toy train that is definitely seeking ‘Welsh Government’ money is the Bala Lake Railway.
The BLR line currently runs from Llanuwchllyn up the eastern – Llangower – side of Llyn Tegid to Pen-y-Bont station, near to where Afon Dyfyrdwy (Dee) leaves on its journey to the border and the sea.
Last Friday we learnt that the Bala Lake Railway is asking the ‘Welsh Government’ for £2.5m to extend the line to a new station in the town of Bala. And the ‘Welsh Government’ seems keen on giving the money. (Kenny – ‘Flint Ring’ – Skates is already brushing his teeth for the photo op as you read this.)
Then, in a couple of places, I read, as the aim: “To advance enjoyment, education and learning and to promote regional public benefit through the restoration, maintenance and exhibition by operation steam locomotives, rolling stock and other railway artefacts directly associated with the slate industry of north Wales and in particular those regions of Dinorwic and Penrhyn.”
But the Bala Lake Railway runs along a stretch of the old line from Barmouth to Ruabon. It has no connection with the slate industry, and certainly not with Dinorwic or Penrhyn. (Did I say ‘Penrhyn’! That BLM woman will be after me!)
So who runs this show . . . from Shepton Mallet? The six trustees are: Squadron Leader Toby Kenneth Watkins, Steve Valentine, Julian Peter Charles Birley, Roger Hine, Christina Lillian Kennedy, Steve Davies.
Hine was quoted: “I didn’t expect to be cut off in peak season. My next door neighbour runs a guest house and said it was typical in Wales because they are not tourism-orientated.” Useless bloody Welsh! Thank God the English come here to run the tourism industry for us. Did I just say, ‘for us’!
Steve Valentine “owns and runs an award-winning confectionery company in Bala which is also the town’s largest single employer”. This is presumably Gwynedd Confectioners, though the company registered with Companies House is Sweet Valentine Limited, with a Porthmadog address.
I would have expected to see ‘trading as’ somewhere in the Sweet Valentine documents filed with Companies House, but I couldn’t find anything.
Two military officers, someone awarded the British Empire Medal, and the rest suggest a very English establishment outfit. The only thing the Bala Lake Railway seems to want from us is our country and our money.
The question is, boys and girls: Should £2.5m of Welsh public money be used to fund a hobby train, one encouraging the ‘Playground Wales’ tourism that is turning us into strangers in our own country, or should those involved be told to steam off into the sunset?
Answers on the usual post card, please. (And if you’ve run out just send me a message on a post card and I’ll send you some more.)
Another of the ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’ is the Welsh Highland Railway, which runs the 25 miles from Caernarfon to Porthmadog via Beddgelert. At ‘Port’ it links with the Ffestiniog Railway that goes on to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
These lines are for tourists, few locals can afford to use them. I say that because it costs £80 for two to make the 15-mile trip from Caernarfon to Beddgelert in a ‘seating bay’, which I assume to be two, facing bench seats.
Which reminded me of something written by Julian Birley B.E.M. on the BLR Trust website; talking of narrow gauge railways, he said: “Largely based in rural regions, these railways are becoming a lifeline for people in areas of high unemployment and in need of regeneration.”
How true is that?
But I digress.
The reason I’m introducing the Welsh Highland Railway is because one of its directors is David Edward Firth, who happens to live in Beddgelert, so I’m sure he uses the train regularly . . . without having to pay.
Another company of which Firth is a director is Glaslyn Leisure Ltd. I’m sure the name won’t mean anything to you and I only came across it in a story about five holiday homes being sold in Beddgelert. Being sold together as an ‘investment’.
They seem to be in a cul-de-sac off the main A498.
I suppose £1.2m for five holiday homes in a place like Beddgelert is about right, but when I checked the company accounts an anomaly was revealed. For according to the accounts, or rather, the unaudited financial statement, the company’s tangible assets / net book value amount to only £275,524.
Almost a million pounds less than is being asked for the Beddgelert properties. How is this explained? In two words – debts and depreciation.
The creditors are almost certainly the four directors of Glaslyn Leisure and the debt is presumably what it cost them to buy the land and build the six properties.
Perhaps the real anomaly is depreciation. For in the real world, and especially with holiday homes in Wales, values increase every year; but in declarations to Companies House owners are allowed to apply depreciation of 2% a year on freehold property and 20% on fixtures and fittings.
Which means, over a period of time, property that is increasing in value can, on paper, be made to lose value. Clever, no?
To help me make sense of things I drew a table. Starting in 2010 we see that the fixed assets / book value stood at £526,612 which, a decade ago, with property markets still suffering from the financial crisis of 2008, might have represented some two thirds of what the properties would have fetched if they’d been sold.
This sale – the ‘disposal’ mentioned in the financial statement – also explains the reduction in the amount owed to creditors from £519,280 in 2017 to £266,433 in 2018.
I was able to get details of Plas Tegfryn from the Land Registry, but the properties for sale – Sygun, Aran, Y Garn, Hebog, Craig-y-Llan – seem not be registered by name or number. (I got the names from AirBnB.)
And of course we aren’t told how much these properties have earned in the two decades since they were built. So it could be £1.2m clear profit from the sale. Perhaps more. And it will all go to England.
I’ve included this story because it tells us so much about what’s wrong with Wales.
On the one hand we have narrow gauge railways, run by strangers, for the enjoyment of strangers; with hardly any local involvement, but always looking for Welsh public funding by suggesting they provide some public service!
And then we have the kind of tourism-linked property speculation we see in Beddgelert. But not limited to this or any other area.
For as a correspondent from Llandysul wrote a few days ago: “Stories from all directions about ‘selling a shithole house in England and buying three here. One to live in and two to rent out’. I think we’ve had it now.”
This is a decent, caring Welsh person resigned to the death of his nation.
Talking of property speculation reminds me of Jake Berry, the Conservative and Unionist MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire. Berry owns an unknown number of properties on Ynys Môn.
One of those properties is Rhyd-y-Bont, at Rhoscolyn, an area of the island being rapidly cleansed of the Welsh and other undesirables. Berry, or his wife, Alice Molly Radclyffe Berry, bought it last year for £780,000.
The name of this rural retreat translated into English takes us to Ford Bridge Farm Ltd, a company formed in May, that uses the address of an accountant in Bacup, in Berry’s constituency. The directors are Berry and his wife, with said accountant, Paul Fitton, serving as secretary.
There have been some developments worth reporting. I just hope I can explain them.
On the Companies House website, at the top of an entry, all company names are given in upper case, so I was amazed to see, Ford Bridge, FARM LTD. Also, this curiosity has a date of birth! Though December 1983 is also when Jake Berry’s wife was born.
Had she changed her name?
At the second attempt I found another entry for Ford Bridge Farm Limited, with Palatine Hill Limited listed as an appointment. This is in addition to the original entry given above.
Palatine Hill could be a ‘Russian doll’ arrangement for Jake and his missus’ property dealings, set up to deter enquiries – cos there’s some nosy buggers out there! I suppose the next step would be offshore, but that might look bad, even for a Tory MP.
I suggest that because checking the ‘Filing history’ I saw this entry for 31 July, 2020 “Withdrawal of the directors’ residential address register information from the public register”. And if you want a ‘company snapshot’ then you’ll need to cough up £15.
As you all know, the Palatine Hill was one of the seven hills of Ancient Rome. It’s where the toffs were said to live. Which is entirely fitting for upwardly mobile Jake and Alice Berry.
But under no circumstances should it be confused with the Capitoline Hill or any of the other five. And it’s nowhere near Blueberry Hill, of which the late Antoine ‘Fats’ Domino so often sang.
See, you don’t just get informed on this blog, you get bloody well educated as well.
ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS
Towards the end of August I wrote Black Mountains College, in which we looked at this project in Talgarth, Powys that seeks to become a kind of university for eco-warriors.
One of the sidetracks down which comments took us led to the OPD settlement at Rhiw Las, near Whitland in Carmarthenshire. I’d been keeping an eye on this through regular updates from Companies House on Rhiw Las Ltd, a company formed in September 2013.
But of course, filings to Companies House can’t always tell us what’s happening on the ground. And that’s why I’m indebted to those who commented to the blog or contacted me in other ways.
The 21.5 acre Rhiw Las site is made up of four couples living on separate OPDs, each of roughly 5 acres. Planning permission was granted by the Planning Inspectorate in June 2016 after being rejected by Carmarthenshire planning committee.
The stated thinking behind OPDs is to encourage people to live self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyles, in order to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint. The fact that all those choosing to live on OPDs have moved to Wales, thereby increasing Wales’ carbon footprint, is an inconvenient truth and therefore ignored.
As it is set out in the ‘Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note 6 the strategy is about “delivering sustainable rural communities”. And what a welcome innovation this will be, for in the 10,000 years since the retreat of the ice Wales has never known sustainable rural communities.
Soon after releasing into the wild the piece about Black Mountains College news started arriving about the denizens of Rhiw Las. One couple in particular may have been telling porkies about where they live, and what they do.
I’m referring now to Chris Vernon and Erica Thompson. That’s Dr Chris Vernon, who works for the Met Office in Bristol; and Dr Erica Thompson, a Fellow of the London School of Economics.
When she’s not teaching in London, or attending conferences, or at her holiday home OPD, Erica Thompson is chairwoman of the One Planet Council. Which means that she knows the buzz-words, she has the connections, and the buttons she needs to push are invitingly illuminated.
OPDs can look commendable, deserving of support, until you learn more and appreciate the bullshit involved.
Great dollops of which can be found in the Management Plan for Rhiw Las, that accompanied the planning application. It makes a big thing of the availability of wild food. But if you’re going to use wild food to strengthen your case then you might as well say there’ll be lots of air to breathe, and birds singing, and flies flying . . .
One Planet Developments are supposed to be about people doing things for themselves, not relying entirely on Mother Nature . . . plus of course, the Met Office and the LSE.
Then there’s Wycliffe Tippins, another resident of Rhiw Las. It seems Wycliffe lives or works in Gloucestershire. As a comment to the Black Mountains College post told us, “Wycliffe is a computer games developer. Another useful addition to the rural skillset at Rhiw Las !”
What’s more, not so long ago, Wycliffe was advertising for unpaid help to look after his OPD while he was designing computer games in England.
And before he was even using the static caravan on his visits to Wales, and before Rhiw Las was given planning permission, Wycliffe was demanding a strong Well-being of Future Generations Bill! Which would of course be of benefit to him and his friends.
Which meant he was trying to influence Welsh legislation when he wasn’t even pretending to be living here! Arrogant colonialist fucker!
Another member of the Rhiw Las gang who may be working full-time in England is Dr Paul Jennings. But what I found really interesting about him came from this interview with Lowimpact.org in April.
Contrary to what I’m sure most of us believed, according to Paul Jennings, ‘The (OPD) policy is intended to strengthen local, rural economies in Wales – it’s not about self-sufficiency.’ Though in other areas he agrees with us.
Over at Lammas we find Cassandra Lishman, the ‘Woman of the Willows’. Are she and her husband living a self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle? Almost certainly not, for as the article tells us, hubby “Nigel has a ‘conventional’ job as a care support worker.”
To which he drives every day.
“Cassie is at pains to stress that living at Lammas – reliant upon sun, water and wind for power, and running smallholdings in tune with nature – does not preclude having a ‘normal’ life”.
All they really want is a cheap place in the countryside. And it has to be the Welsh countryside because no other country on Earth has been so stupid as to submit to these people by introducing the OPD system.
Once they’ve got their little bit of heaven, built for a few thousand pounds, it can be sold for a premium price as a dwelling in open country.
Clearly, the OPD system is being abused on a massive scale. And yet the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to intervene, leaving local planning authorities helpless. And so the envirocolonists keep coming, in an ever-increasing tide.
Here’s what one local source told me:
“As far as I can tell there in no policing by Pembs CC and given the fear of litigation that Carm CC suffered at the hands OPD lawyers they are reluctant/can’t afford to enforce any of the planning restrictions imposed originally
I foresee many of the properties sold as general housing with a very large garden and a lifestyle
Sure as hell nobody local will be buying these properties as it will be cash buyers only, I somehow doubt that they are mortgageable
Lammas is a shambles and beyond any controls it seems. The latest episode is —– laying down on the track to stop a farmer hedge cutting because he can’t get his hay equipment to fields further up the hill
There are more appearing in the valley and it is divisive. A farmer is buying blocks of land just to prevent more arrivals as he is already surrounded.
They are not going away so sooner or later most will be sold on the open market.
I don’t see the an end to it.
Wealthy incomers, from SE England and Bristol queuing up to buy a toy farm in countryside, working from home and not having the skills abide to OPD planning conditions. What then?
The farms are being fragmented and they will never be able to be reinstated as a viable family farm of the type that has built the indigenous community”.
I know it’s easy to laugh at these people and their pretensions, but they are ambitious, greedy, well connected, and dangerous. Never forget that the clowns in Corruption Bay have already bent over backwards to do their bidding.
The ambition I’m referring to stretches way beyond the few settlements we see today, mainly in the south west. According to Paul/Tau Wimbush, a Lammas guru, Wales could easily accommodate another 115,000 eco-holdings. That’s 414,000 people – all them land-grabbing charlatans, with few living the life they’ll claim to be living.
Chris Vernon agrees that there should be many more faux OPDs. Go to 7:10 in this video to hear him say: “There is no reason why Wales couldn’t support several tens of thousands of smallholdings in the open countryside”.
Glynllifon is a name you’ll be familiar with, but this section has nothing to do with Plas Glynllifon, the old mansion south of Caernarfon that has attracted so many crooks over recent years.
No, this Glynllifon is on Ynys Môn, near Marianglas, with Benllech to the south and Moelfre to the north. Though just like its mainland namesake it also attracts crooks!
As I was informed in a couple of anonymous e-mails earlier this month telling me that certain ‘businessmen’ had a project at Traeth Bychan, Marianglas, and that a company called Glynllifon Ltd was involved.
This company was formed 10 June last year, with Neil Moir as sole director. (The name is sometimes spelt ‘Muir’.) The company soon took out two loans with Goldcrest Finance Ltd to buy the Glynllifon hotel. Goldcrest Finance is yet another “specialist lender based in central Manchester”. How many of them are there?
Here’s the Land Registry title document. I suggest you keep it open in another window. Because before moving on to the latest developments I’d like to concentrate on the title document for a bit.
Going back to 1999 (page 2) it would appear that the Glynllifon Hotel passed from people named Beardsley to a Lesley Karen Boshell. Yet on page 3 we find that, “A Deed dated 17 September 2015 made between (1) Thelma Eileen Beardsley and (2) Ocean and Country Developments Limited contains restrictive covenants.”
Turning to Ocean & Country Developments Ltd we find Ronald Kenneth Boshell of Cheshire as a director. It’s reasonable to assume that he is related to Lesley Karen Boshell.
Ocean & Country Developments is heavily in debt and the debt may be explained by an outstanding charge held by ‘The Santhouse Pensioneer Trustee Company Limited Marc Howard and Avis Howard’ against . . . the Glynllifon Hotel. Marc Howard is the other director, with Boshell, of Ocean & Country Developments.
The Boshells were obviously living on Ynys Mon in January 2005 because this report from the Daily Post tells us that one of the Boshell children was hit by a car on the way to school.
The report also told us that, “Mr Boshell and wife Leslie (sic) said they closed the hotel last year because the road was so dangerous”. The hotel was called the Beauchelles Hotel (geddit?), though closing due to traffic is unlikely.
UPDATE 22.09.2020: My suspicion has been confirmed – the Beauchelles Hotel was Glynllifon. Sources say it went downhill, almost as if it was designed to fail.
One source sent me a photo of Ronnie Boshell, now domiciled in Spain.
“Cllr Durkin said: ‘For years now Benllech and its surrounding areas has seen a number of its prominent hotels and properties purchased by property developers just to be closed down with no work done. (My emphasis.)
‘They have been left dangerously, inadequately secured and are blots on the beautiful landscapes.”
He drew attention to Y Gorlan, on Benllech promenade, which has already been set on fire, has been left open to the elements and has become a magnet for unsuspecting children to get injured or killed.
Some of the eyesores also include the Bay Court Hotel, the Bryntyrion (sic) Hotel and the Beauchelles Hotel, which Cllr Durkin says are letting the village down.'”
It could be that companies were being set up, and property bought, to launder money. Such things happen.
The image below, from Google, was captured in July 2016. It would appear to show some plan to develop the Glynllifon site as apartments and holiday cottages, perhaps by Ocean & Country Developments Ltd.
The Boshells, or Beauchelles, appear to have moved back to north west England.
The empty and semi-derelict Glynllifon Hotel has now been bought by Glynllifon Ltd and Neil Moir. So who exactly is he?
THE winner of top TV quiz Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is set to lose his fortune – because he is a crook.
Millions saw 51-year-old Neil Muir land a £64,000 prize this week. But under the programme’s rules he is BANNED from entering.
Muir has convictions for theft, deception and forgery. And Rule 6 says: “You must… have no criminal convictions (subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974).” London TV company Celador launched an investigation yesterday.
Although his roots seem to be in north west England Moir is, I believe, living on Ynys Môn. In Bodorgan, on the opposite side of the island to Marianglas.
In recent days the Glynllifon Hotel has been in the news because the planned development – if it’s not another money laundering operation! – plans to open under the ‘Traeth Bychan Heights’ label. This has upset many locals angry at so many traditional names being lost.
(Bryn Llys has been renamed ‘Snowdon Summit View’.)
Now what interest would Shane Baker have in the Marianglas / Benllech area? Silly me! – it’s where the police found his boss John Joseph Duggan hiding out. Though given what we now know about the area I can’t help wondering who owned the property in which Duggan was hiding.
I’m sure I’ll return to this story in future posts. If anyone has more information, then get in touch.
Toy trains, ‘investment’ holiday homes, Tory MPs’ property empires, envirocolonists and outright crooks are just the same monster glimpsed in different lights. All elements of a colonial system that no longer simply exploits but also destroys.
Either we start taking back control, from those you’ve read about, and from those who refuse to take action against them, or it will be victory for Shane Baker and those who agree that doing away with everything that makes us Welsh is progress.