Finding myself at a loose end I did what I often do to ward off ennui – I delved into StatsWales, a site I recommend to anyone with a strong stomach who is free from high blood pressure or problems with their cholesterol levels.
And here’s a link to the Buyer’s Guide. In a nutshell; you need to come up with 5% deposit, 75% mortgage, and then you apply for a 20% equity loan from Help to Buy – Wales to complete the purchase of a new-build home. It’s basically a programme to stimulate the building industry.
Going through the various tables, and making comparisons, certain anomalies began to appear, anomalies which, when I gave them some thought, were rather worrying, for it was difficult to think of an acceptable or innocent explanation for some of the curious data confronting me.
Diving in . . . why have there been 1,339 completions in Newport (population 151,485, 2017 mid-year estimate) but only 326 in Cardiff (362,756, ditto)? Or why should there have been 768 completions in Flintshire (155,155) but only 205 in neighbouring Wrexham (135,571)? Moving to the south west we see that Carmarthenshire (186,452) completed 645 while in neighbouring Pembrokeshire (124,711) it was just 191, while up the road in Ceredigion (73,076) it was a measly 21!
Moving down the list, a table I found very interesting was the one dealing with house prices, which is worth spending some time on because it raises more questions about the workings of the Help to Buy system. Let me explain what I mean.
Earlier we noted that there were many more properties bought with Help to Buy in Carmarthenshire than in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion combined. The table suggests that this may be due to most of the properties sold in Carmarthenshire being under £150,000, which would suggest that there the scheme has been used to help first-time buyers, who reassuringly made up 80% of sales, one of the highest percentages in the country. By comparison, the first-time buyer figure for Torfaen was just 59%.
The figures for Merthyr I find very strange. Without wishing to do the area down, I was surprised to see that 68% of the Help to Buy properties there were priced at over £150,000. For Carmarthenshire – where property values are higher than Merthyr – the figure was just 24%. The figure for Swansea is 25%, and for Blaenau Gwent, the other Heads of the Valleys authority, it’s 22%.
So why are people buying such expensive houses in one of the poorest areas of a poor country?
For most areas – even Merthyr – there is a tailing off as we approach the £300,000 limit, which is to be expected. Yet in the following local authority areas the top price bracket shows an increase in completions over the cheaper band preceding it: Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham, Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Torfaen.
For Flintshire, the figures are striking: 99 completions in the £200,001-£225,000 bracket, 105 in the £225,001-£250,000 band, and then a leap to 150 in the top £250,001-£300,000 band. Which means that 89% of the properties bought in Flintshire using Help to Buy were priced at over £150,000.
According to the Land Registry, the average house price in Flintshire in June 2017 was £162,703 (and has since dropped). For Merthyr the figure was £98,172. The figures for all local authority areas are available here, scroll down.
In the hope of pulling everything together I decided to compile a table of my own. (Available here in pdf format.) The columns show, from the left:
The local authority.
The area’s population from the ONS’ mid-year estimate for 2017.
A breakdown of the prices of properties bought with Help to Buy (split into four bands rather than the eight supplied by StatsWales).
The total number of Help to Buy completions.
The number and percentage of first-time buyers.
The average house price for each area in June 2017, supplied by the Land Registry.
The average price paid for a Help to Buy property.
The difference between 6 and 7.
So in addition to the questions already posed, why have there been so many Help to Buy purchases in some areas and so few in others? As mentioned, the most obvious stand-out is Newport, which with 4.8% of the population accounts for 18.7% of the Help to Buy completions.
Could it be that many, or most, of the Help to Buy purchases in Newport are investments in anticipation of the expected influx of Bristol commuters? Come to that, are many of these properties being bought by Bristol buyers thinking ahead? It’s difficult to explain the Newport anomaly without bringing Bristol into the equation.
But whatever the explanation, isn’t Newport taking up a disproportionate amount of the £170m available? Is there no mechanism to ensure that all parts of the country are treated fairly?
As for Flintshire, we can reasonably assume that many of the buyers there will have come from over the border, which points up another serious shortcoming in Help to Buy.
It would be nice to think that this scheme focuses on first-time buyers, local young people buying their first home. We have the excellent example set by the three south western counties but elsewhere the picture is patchy. With 83% of Help to Buy sales in Wrecsam and Cardiff being made to first-time buyers but just 59% in Torfaen, Newport’s hinterland.
Carmarthenshire also deserves praise for the fact that 76% of the properties sold in the county with Help to Buy were priced at £175,000 or under. Which when coupled with an 80% first-time buyer figure suggests that it’s young locals being helped.
You’ll notice that in three local authorities – Vale of Glamorgan, Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire – the average Help to Buy price is lower than the average sale price for those areas. But Monmouthshire and the Vale have the highest property values in Wales so this is nothing to worry about. While for Pembrokeshire we see that 77% of the Help to Buy properties were £175,000 or less which, when coupled with an 85% first-time buyer rate, suggest that it’s on the same righteous path as next-door Carmarthenshire.
Though I’d like an explanation for why there have been so few Help to Buy sales in Ceredigion. (And I don’t want any Cardi jokes!)
And then there’s Merthyr. I can think of no good reason why most of the properties bought there with Help to Buy were priced over £175,000 when the average house price is £98,172. And why are only 67% of them first-time buyers? Somebody’s taking the piss.
Administered properly Help to Buy could have done a lot of good. If it had been limited to first-time buyers and those who had lived in Wales for a minimum of five years. But because the impetus was to build more houses, and because the more expensive the house the bigger the profit margin, ‘anomalies’ were guaranteed.
When we look at the list of participating builders we see a long list of companies, a list that contains quite a few outfits that I bet have never laid a brick in Wales.
Going back to the ‘Welsh’ Government website, those thinking of using Help to Buy are also advised to find, in addition to a builder and a lender, an approved financial advisor and an accredited conveyancer. Clicking on the links for these brings up the same long list of professionals, and again, many of them are outside of Wales. Bristol and Chester seem popular locations. (List available here in pdf format.)
As I say, properly applied and administered Help to Buy could have helped a lot of our people, and given a boost to Welsh companies, but like most legislation that passes through Cardiff docks and then into the hands of civil servants it is intended that as much as possible of the benefits spread over the border.
And inevitably, there will be some jiggery-pokery, as alliances are forged between builders, solicitors and lenders. Other may be drawn in, such as local government officials and councillors. Also, friends and family of those involved will be ‘helped’ to apply for Help to Buy.
Standing back, looking at the big picture, one thing becomes clear. By and large, the Help to Buy programme seems to have been implemented more sensibly, more fairly, and less wastefully, in those local government areas that are not controlled by the Labour Party.
It’s been a while since I wrote the previous instalment in this saga, August 6th to be precise, and even though I have no earth-shattering revelations for you, it’s clear that we are moving towards a conclusion.
In addition to this latest post being an update on the saga, I shall also use it to give some thought to what this incredible story tells us about the state of modern Wales. Basically, how the hell did Paul and Rowena Williams and their associates get away with so much for so long?
Because irrespective of what now happens to those you’ve been reading about over the past few months there are others who have questions to answer, and I might as well do the asking, because nobody else will.
WHY DID THEY GET A FREE RIDE?
The Daily Post‘s involvement in this saga is quite extraordinary in its willingness to publish any old nonsense. I have drawn up a list of the DP’s articles on Plas Glynllifon and the other Gwynedd properties since Paul and Rowena Williams first became involved.
Starting with this article on 10 June 2016 telling us that the mystery owner of Plas Glynllifon – speaking through property company Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) – said that the renovation would take three years, and would cost an estimated £5m.
The new year brought this piece on 22 February 2017 in which the Daily Post was graciously granted access, to be told by Rowena Williams, “We hope that the project will hold dear to the Prince of Wales, who enjoyed his investiture ball here and also takes a very keen interest in our heritage and historic properties such as Glynllifon. We hope that he will be an asset to the project.”
We were not informed if Carlo had been asked to cough up a few quid towards the “£5.5 to £6.5” needed for the restoration. Maybe it wasn’t needed, for a finance package had been agreed with “Together in Manchester”. And Team Williams was also “in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support”.
On 23 May 2017 we learnt that the owners of Plas Glynllifon had enlisted the help of Lord Newborough (whose family pile Plas Glynllifon had once been), and also helping Paul Williams were “Bangor University, the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates (at Bangor Uni), Gwynedd Archives, and other bodies”. The more the merrier!
There was now a gap until 26 November 2017, and an article headlined, “Take a look at stunning £16m transformation of historic mansion into five star hotel”, which was a bit naughty, because Paul and Rowena Williams have not spent anything approaching £16m at Glynllifon. There was no explanation for how the cost of renovating Plas Glynllifon had increased from £5.5m-£6.5m in May to £16m in November. Brexit, I suppose.
There was yet another video, this one without the Gruesome Twosome but with weird musical accompaniment. Then there were photos, of, er, scaffolding; while inside the building, we saw a bath, an organ, statues and a four-poster bed. This article, like previous ones, drew a number of positive comments, including one from ‘MarkoMarko’, who I suspect may not be local, and may even have been an employee of the Williams gang.
The final plug report of the year was on 4 December 2017. Now the focus switched to the Seiont Manor Hotel , lined up for a £5m expansion. This would involve, ” . . . extending the restaurant with the provision of a new lake view terrace, expansion of the existing leisure facilities to improve the changing and spa facilities and add treatment rooms, a purpose built lake side function suite with bedrooms above and luxury lodges in the grounds”.
The first article in the new year appeared on 7 February 2018 and the focus switched again, this time to a snowy Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, which we were told Paul and Rowena Williams were buying. The obligatory video introduced ageing juvenile lead Rikki Reynolds, general manager of the Seiont Manor Hotel.
This new project included, “a 100 bedroom hotel with a pool, spa, restaurants and bars”. There was to be a seafood restaurant, and holiday cottages, with the Daily Post adding, “They (Paul and Rowena Williams) said the residential parts of the project will help with funding for other parts of this 240 job scheme and the ongoing restoration at Glynllifon and expansion of Seiont Manor in Llanrug, which they also own.”
Two hundred and forty jobs! This is bullshit piled so high that it must have blocked out the sun. But by this stage if Paul Williams had said he was Jesus Christ come to give us all another chance the Daily Post would have reported it without question . . . and of course with a video.
Just three days later, on 10 February 2018, the Daily Post returned to Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, for which, we were told, “project proposals have come and gone”; but things were to be different this time with Paul and Rowena Williams and the boy wonder. Maybe, but the video was the same one we’d seen three days earlier. We also heard of a new player in “Developer Plas Glynllifon Group”, of which no one has seen hide nor hair since.
On 27 April 2018 a fire was reported at Plas Tŷ Coch. ‘Disgraceful’ behaviour according to Paul Williams (a man who knows a thing or two about disgraceful behaviour). The Daily Post took the opportunity to remind us that Plas Tŷ Coch would be restored (sic) into luxury period apartments with low density housing in the grounds of the mansion and the restoration of walled and formal gardens.
I’m losing track now of how many apartments, houses, lodges, are involved with the Williams’ properties. Add them to the hotels, restaurants, pools, spas, bars and God knows what else and it’s getting bloody crowded!
Did it never occur to anyone that this bloke might be a sinister kind of Walter Mitty?
On to 11 May 2018 when we were told that Paul and Rowena Williams intended to part-fund their ambitions in the north through the sale of those properties they owned in Powys and over the border. This was the £10m ‘sale’ to convicted fraudster Keith Partridge, which was about as convincing as a ‘Welsh Labour’ Party manifesto.
The cost of renovating Plas Glynllifon was now £20m, up from £5.5m to £6.5m a year earlier. Inflation on this scale is no problem if you’re fluent in bollocks, pluck figures out of thin air, and are trying to wangle grants . . .
We only had to wait one day, to 12 May 2018, for the next intriguing episode headed, “Take a look inside stunning Plas Glynllifon as restoration continues”. And we were treated to yet another video and more photos of scaffolding and further examples of Victorian interiors at their worst.
Giving us an effect that is quite overwrought and claustrophobic. I can only assume that this bedroom would be the Edgar Allan Poe Suite. Who’s that in the mirror!
The Daily Post went for its hat-trick with three consecutive days’ coverage on 13 May 2018, with the emphasis now shifting to the parkland and pleasure gardens around Plas Glynllifon. For the headline told us “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”.
If this carried on it was only a matter of time before Paul Williams approached Cyngor Gwynedd with an offer they couldn’t refuse to buy the whole bloody county.
The long-awaited news of open days at Plas Glynllifon was brought to us on 6 June 2018. There was yet another video, this one confirming that a number of deliveries had been received from the local garden centre, with photos of the happy couple, scaffolding, and the Edgar Allan Poe Suite.
The cobwebs were blown away when, on 9 June 2018, we were back to the bracing air of Plas Brereton on the Menai Strait, and among fresh proposals for the site was a fishing village! So if we add that to the apartments, houses, lodges and hotels, how much accommodation does that give us? How much extra accommodation does the Caernarfon area need?
We made another slight detour on 16 June 2018 as Paul Williams’ house-trained “expert in land and heritage conservation”, dragged up specially from Cornwall, tut-tutted about the state of Parc Glynllifon and suggested that it was in such a mess it should be handed over to Paul Williams at a knock-down price.
Of the accompanying photos two were of scaffolding. (They can grow on you!)
Maybe my blog was being read at the Daily Post, for the uncritical plugs stopped and the first cloud appeared in the Williams firmament with the report of 11 July 2018headlined, “Welsh Government considering whether grant funding to mansion developers can be recouped after hotels close”, a reference to the closure of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel In Presteigne and the Knighton Hotel in the town of that name.
For all I know there might have been other articles that I’ve missed, but the 18 I’ve listed here tell an alarming tale of a gang of shysters given free access to an important source of local news. For they were allowed to say anything they wanted with nary an awkward question, let alone any journalistic digging to find out who they really were.
But as the local ‘paper the Daily Post is more guilty than others of not doing its homework on these crooks. Indeed, the other news outlets may have been attracted to Glynllifon by the endless plugs they saw in the Daily Post. Seeing as they got it so wrong with Paul and Rowena Williams we have to ask if the Daily Post will identify the next shysters arriving on its patch, or will it be more free and uncritical publicity.
Because I can predict with certainty that the easy ride Paul and Rowena Williams received from the local media, the council and others, will encourage other crooks to chance their arm in Gwynedd.
Of course, I tried to post comments to the endless ‘Aren’t they wonderful!’ stories about Paul and Rowena Williams; trying to warn people, but I’m blocked from the Daily Post and WalesOnline websites.
The question for newspapers and other media outlets before repeating press releases, or running encomiums, must always be – ‘What do we really know about these people?’ And if the answer is ‘Nothing’, or ‘Very little’, then start digging!
THE FAT LADY IS WAITING IN THE WINGS
In the previous episode I told you that Leisure & Development Ltd was in the hands of receivers and the establishments involved locked, with CCTV installed. Since then I’ve heard that Paul Williams was still getting access to some of the buildings, for example, to the Knighton Hotel, either from the flat or ground floor showroom he still owns.
The latest information I have says that an offer has been made for the Radnorshire Arms by some local nobs who hope to start refurbishment work early next year. There is also interest in the Knighton Hotel and the properties in England and Cornwall, all of which might be offered for sale very soon.
In Gwynedd, things are also moving to a conclusion. For example, in the extracts you’ve just read from the Daily Post you’ll see that Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch crop up quite regularly, with ludicrous plans for fishing villages and God knows what else – but Paul and Rowena Williams never owned these properties!
They seem to have put down a deposit but never got around to paying off the balance. The deadline to complete the sale passed on Tuesday 18 September, and so, on the reasonable assumption that the balance was not paid, Paul and Rowena Williams are now left with Plas Glynllifon and the Seiont Manor Hotel, the latter run for them by drug-dependent Rikki Reynolds.
The Daily Post couldn’t forget old habits and tried to put a positive spin on the story, as if the deal would be finalised . . . as if non-completion was a mere oversight . . . nothing to do with the money having dried up . . . the other properties being in the hands of liquidators . . . everything falling apart . . .
STOP PRESS: But, finally, on Wednesday 19 September the Daily Post was forced to submit to reality and admit that the deal had fallen through.
I now visualise Paul Williams holed up in Plas Glynllifon, something like Jean Gabin in Le Jour se Lève, chain-smoking Gauloises and ready to shoot it out with the flics receivers. (God! I must lay off the Malbec!)
But enough of 1930s French movies and the Daily Post, what about other individuals and agencies we’ve encountered in this saga, how do their roles stand up to scrutiny?
UPDATE 21.09.2018:Today the Daily Post reported that Dyfed Powys Police had met with Powys County Council trading standards officers last week to discuss the now closed Powys hotels owned by Paul and Rowena Williams.
Paul Williams was quoted as saying, “We are unaware of any meeting allegedly held between the local authority and the police in Powys. However, we are pleased to hear that they are looking into matters as this will without doubt vindicate Rowena and I.”
The Daily Post‘s reporting was again abysmal. Just two days ago, Owen Hughes, the DP’s Business Correspondent – who has written all the puffs for Paul and Rowena Williams – told us that the deal to buy Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch had fallen through, but today he wants us to believe that they’ve “agreed the purchase” of these properties.
Can’t he remember what he’s written . . . or did somebody else write it?
Not only that, but he sticks to the Williams story about these Powys properties having been sold to convicted fraudster Keith Partridge, when everyone else knows this was just a ploy allowing them to slip away and lay the blame on somebody else.
Plas Glynllifon is a Grade 1 listed building. The Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne and the Knighton Hotel are both Grade II listed buildings. (Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch are also listed.) Which means that they come under the watchful eye of Cadw, or English Heritage (West) as it is more honestly known.
Cadw/EH(W) awards grants to those owning listed properties, and so, given Paul and Rowena Williams’ talent for sniffing out easy money, it would be reasonable to assume that they applied to Cadw/EH(W) for funding. And this is what I’m told happened. I’m further told that grant funding was given.
More specifically, large amounts were given to the Powys properties, enough for Williams to claim that grants had paid for the Knighton Hotel. While in Gwynedd, it’s reported that there was a dispute between Paul and Rowena Williams and Cadw/EH(W) over a grant given to Plas Glynllifon which appeared to have been diverted to the Seiont Manor Hotel.
In the hope of getting the facts I submitted a FoI request to Cadw/EH(W), but if the reply I received is to be believed then the Williams gang haven’t received a penny. Read it for yourself.
Which means that either my informants are mistaken, or else – and I hate to even consider this possibility! – Cadw/EH(W) is telling old Jac porkies!
With Paul and Rowena Williams’ empire now reduced to Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor it’s worth asking what roles have been played by the local council and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai which runs the adjoining Glynllifon Agricultural College.
Cyngor Gwynedd has remained tight-lipped, saying only that Plas Glynllifon is privately owned and has nothing to do with the council. Which I suppose is fair enough up to a point, but the council must have concerns when such a prominent local building is constantly changing hands between dreamers and crooks.
So how far did these talks progress? Were they concluded with an agreement to hand over land to Paul and Rowena Williams? In light of recent developments, how difficult would it be for Cyngor Gwynedd and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai to issue a statement assuring us that no deal was done? I suggest they owe it to us.
A name that has cropped up throughout this case is that of property company Lambert Smith Hampton, and in particular Dudley James Cross, who often seemed to act as a personal advisor to Paul and Rowena Williams, or perhaps even a partner, for at one time he was a director of Leisure & Development Ltd, the company that was ‘sold’ on 1 February to Keith Partridge, but then went tits up.
You’ll notice that on his Linkedin profile Cross is Regional Head of LSH based in Northampton, but when he was director of Leisure & Development Ltd he was apparently resident in Wales, with his address given as Plas Glynllifon.
So what sort of a company is Lambert Smith Hampton that it gets involved with crooks like Williams and Partridge? Where is Cross now? Is his role in all this being investigated?
A LAND READY FOR THE TAKING
The deeper I dig and the more I learn about how modern Wales is run the more I realise how easy it is for crooks like Paul Williams to come waltzing in demanding this that and t’other. And demand that we pay for it!
Just a few miles away, at Nebo, a gang set up in a farm, and a benefit claimant threw up a seven-bedroom mansion! The police eventually raided the place. I understand this is another case from which Gwynedd’s planning department does not emerge with any credit.
All this is happening in Gwynedd, which many outside the area think of as some impregnable fortress of Welshness. The truth is its walls have been breached, and from the inside.
And yet, perversely, when I see how easy it is for people who are obviously greedy and corrupt, but none too bright, to get away with all this, then in a curious way it gives me hope.
For I see that the political machinery is old and broken, with few taking any interest in its running; the social structures that once seemed so permanent are in a state of flux; people are discontented and looking for something new; while the traditional media is discredited and dying before our eyes.
We are at a stage in the history of Wales where enough determined people, with the right message, can generate enough enthusiasm and public support to direct the political and social agenda.
I remember, back in the 1960s, when I was a wild young thing, visiting Owain Williams (of Tryweryn fame) on his farm, Gwynus, and then heading down for a drink at the local hostelry, the Plas Pistyll Hotel. I remember it well because ‘G–‘ and I picked up a couple of girls from Birmingham and took them up the mountain to enjoy the view. (Who says we don’t welcome tourists?)
Ah! happy days.
The old pile, with its uninterrupted views of the sea, fell on hard times and was eventually abandoned to the elements. But even if it was no longer viable as a hotel, the location alone dictated that somebody would some day come along with a plan for the site.
And so it was. . . .
THE PLANNING APPLICATIONS
Let me start by explaining that I have drawn together all the planning references I can find relating to both Plas Pistyll and neighbouring Pistyll farm and caravan site, I’ve done this because as early as 2008 they had become one and the same project.
Here’s the link to the pdf version. Click on the planning reference number in the left-hand column to be taken to the Gwynedd planning site.
Below you’ll see a montage created for Natural Retreats by the Ark Company Landscape Architects of Middlesex, and although things have moved on the image gives the layout of the site.
The obvious place to start is with the three earliest applications, which tell us that both the farm and the Plas are owned by Sustainable Leisure, a company I couldn’t find on the Companies House website.
Even so, I know that the properties were owned by a Bill Gleave of Greater Manchester. I know because by August 2009 he had hit the rocks owing local businesses money. You’ll note that in the Daily Post report I’ve just linked to the Pistyll site is called ‘Nature’s Point’ (A name I’m sure I recall from the Mabinogion.)
This catastrophe was confirmed when the Bolton News reported that Gleave company BGH had gone tits up, with Sustainable Leisure following.
It all went quiet for almost three years until, in August 2011, there was an application from new player Natural Retreats to demolish Plas Pistyll and replace it with 20 self-catering holiday units. These to be complemented with “16 self catering holiday units in lieu of the existing static caravan site” at the farm.
To begin with, I had the same problem with Natural Retreats as I had with Sustainable Leisure – I couldn’t find it on the Companies House website. But I found a Natural Retreats website and eventually unearthed Natural Retreats UK Ltd, which changed its name to The UK Great Travel Company Ltd on 25 October 2017.
Permission was given in August 2012 to demolish Plas Pistyll with the condition that the same individual or family could not live in the new holiday units for more than three months in a year. Natural Retreats appealed against this decision and the appeal was allowed permitting unrestricted holiday use for the whole site.
I understand that the last time the planning committee met was to discuss C11/0661/43/LL, thereafter everything was delegated to planning officers. Some very important decisions were made that many feel should have been referred back to the committee, not least the decision to allow unrestricted holiday use.
Having got the big prize Natural Retreats – usually operating now as Natural Land & Sea – chipped away over the next few years at more of the planning conditions imposed by Gwynedd’s planning committee, to the point where few remained.
For Gwynedd’s planning department seemed to bend over backwards to oblige: “. . . deletion of Conditions 8, 9, 10 (Code for Sustainable Homes) . . . vary the materials proposed for the external wall of the units on the farm site . . . Discharge conditions 20 (slate), 22 (stone) and 24 (external finishes) . . . Discharge condition 2 (agree stone) on planning permission . . . “
Instead of stone and slate cottages in keeping with vernacular styles (including Pistyll farm), using local materials and labour, what are being thrown up now on the Plas Pistyll site are prefabricated units brought in from God knows where – Estonia being one suggestion – with no local benefits whatsoever.
And again, predictably, searching the Companies House website turned up nothing for Natural Land & Sea. Either there is no such company, or it’s registered outside the UK, or it’s the trading name of another entity (in which case we should know the name of that entity). But Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners don’t seem to know or care who they’re dealing with.
It should be standard practice for any elected or public body dealing with a commercial entity to insist on that entity identifying itself with a Companies House, Charity Commission, FSA, etc number or some other form of identification, or else explain why it cannot meet this requirement.
Relevant digression: I’ve been helping a neighbour who’s lived in the village all his life renew his blue parking badge, but he still had to provide his birth certificate and other proof of identity. If he’d rocked up claiming to represent Intergalactic Con Men Inc, and wanting to build 5,000 holiday apartments in tower blocks around Llyn Tegid I suppose Cyngor Gwynedd would have rolled out the red carpet, like they’ve done for Paul Williams, Natural Retreats, and God knows how many others.
I’ve told you that Natural Retreats UK Ltd renamed itself The UK Great Travel Company Ltd on 25 October 2017. On that very same day a company was born named NRML Technology Ltd. The sole director was soon joined by another gentleman from Bobby Lee’s home state of Virginia and in June the company name was changed to Natural Retreats UK Ltd.
Why would Natural Retreats UK Ltd be resurrected under American ownership? We shall consider this in just a minute.
Before that, let’s take a closer look at who’s behind this disaster at Pistyll, on the very site where a young Jac downed pints and chatted up young ladies. (Though I use the most generous application of that epithet.) As we’ve seen, there can easily be confusion about the name of the company involved. Hardly surprising when you read on.
There may be other companies for all I know but the people involved with almost all of those I’ve listed are: Matt Spence, Anthony Wild and Ewan Kearney.
The founder and driving force is Matt Spence, who was born on a Yorkshire sheep farm where – he tells us – it was a struggle to survive, so he and his brothers looked for alternative ways to make money. Spence hit on the idea of high quality accommodation in national parks and other areas of great natural beauty.
A noble ambition that he’s partly met in finding the right locations. But in reality Spence’s business is raising money in the form of investments – the minimum seems to have been £50,000 to join NR Investors LP (check out the document for 16.01.2008) – and whether all the money raised goes on lodges and chalets is a moot point, for he and his associates have their fingers in so many pies.
But whatever the company or partnership the bottom line remains making as much money as possible. And this often seems to mean cutting corners, for I’ve heard from a number of quarters that the ‘Natural’ empire is not always a good neighbour, or employer. Here are reports from the Cairngorms, and Yorkshire.
There are even suggestions that the empire may not be in the best of financial health. But with so many interlinked commercial and financial entities constantly changing addresses and names it’s not easy for anyone to keep track.
I earlier alluded to an intervention from the Commonwealth of Virginia, so maybe it’s time to expand on what I’m sure you found to be a tantalising reference.
Spence is something of an evangelist and so we should not be surprised to learn that he spread the ‘Natural’ gospel to the USA, where they have a hell of a lot more open spaces than us. This bore fruit in Natural Retreats USA. And yet . . .
Those who have raised Natural Retreats UK Ltd from the dead appear to have no connection with Natural Retreats USA. And yet, under its original name of NRML Technology Ltd the company was formed by a Christopher Holden who gave his correspondence address as, ‘Natural Retreats, 675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, 22911’.
Holden works with venture capitalists and investors, Court Square Ventures of Charlottesville, which has no obvious connection with Natural Retreats USA, it’s certainly not listed among CSV’s clients. He was later joined as a director by Douglas Burns. On the CSV website Holden is described as a ‘General Partner’, whereas Burns is ‘Principal & CFO’.
Unless they plucked the Natural Retreats UK Ltd name out of thin air, and found Manchester by sticking a pin in a map, there has to be a connection between Court Square Ventures and Matt Spence and his associates.
But it still doesn’t make sense.
Because if we read the CSV website, and the biographies of the partners, then we see that their backgrounds are in media, technology, communications and the like – not a sasquatch-terrorised log cabin to be seen!
And yet, Court Square Ventures is an investment company, so it’s reasonable to suggest that the boys from Charlottesville come bearing greenbacks, which inclines me towards three options:
They have come to get a slice of the action, at Pistyll and elsewhere, perhaps by investing in one or more of Spence’s many financial vehicles.
They have come to help Spence out of a financial hole.
They have come to take over.
And if you think about, it could be a bit of all three; or maybe options 1 and 2 culminating in option 3.
In the hope of clarifying the situation I e-mailed Natural Retreats USA on Friday with, “There are companies of the same name operating in the UK, in Wales, Scotland and England. I see that Christopher Holden is a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd. What exactly is the connection or relationship between the US and UK companies?”
The reply said, “Thank you for your inquiry into Natural Retreats. I would be happy to offer some more information as to how the different companies are related. You may also view our website for further clarification: https://www.naturalretreats.com/about
Natural Retreats was originally founded in the UK by Matthew Spence, and started with a few luxury lodges in the Yorkshire Dales. Over time, Natural Retreats grew to include destinations in the Eastern and Western United States as well. At this time, the US and UK now operate separately; they only share the name of Natural Retreats. The US main office is located in Charlottesville, VA and the Western Support Office is located in Park City, UT.
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you, again, for your inquiry; we hope you will stay with us at one of our luxury retreats in the near future!”
To which I responded with, “I am grateful for your speedy response. As I mentioned in my original query, I was a little confused seeing Christopher Holden of Charlottesville, Virginia listed as a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd (Co No 11031026). A company formed in October 2017. This would appear to be a UK presence for the US operation, or is there some other interpretation?”
At this point the line went dead!
So we are no nearer to knowing why venture capitalists from Virginia with no obvious expertise in tourism have set up in Manchester using a company name previously used by those building at Plas Pistyll. But it’s surely no coincidence that Rural Retreats USA’s eastern office is in Charlottesville. Which throws up other questions.
I’ll ask again, does Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners really know who they’re dealing with? Not just because of the find-me-if-you-can company names but also because Spence specialises in getting others to invest in his plans, and even though I’m sure he scrupulously screens each and every investor, the fact remains that the money to develop Plas Pistyll could be coming from anywhere.
Court Square Ventures is another company that invests money for third parties.
The properties at Pistyll are now being advertised on Rightmove and other sites. So let’s consider what we’re dealing with, and its implications.
For a start, I note that these properties are being sold leasehold. Yet England’s management team down in Cardiff docks – those clowns that hope to be mistaken for a ‘Welsh Government’ – has turned against leasehold, except, apparently, when it’s used by RSLs or, more secretively, by unregistered private subsidiaries of publicly-funded RSLs. And of course by the likes of the ‘Natural’ empire.
Then again, just imagine Matt Spence and his gang turning up and saying, ‘Oi, Taff, we want to build a new holiday village overlooking the sea. We ain’t gonna use local materials, suppliers or labour. Then we are gonna give it some idiotic English name and there’s fuck all you can do about it’.
There would have been an outcry, even Plaid Cymru might have been roused to mumble something.
But that is exactly what has been achieved incrementally!
This development at Pistyll is only a few miles from Plas Glynllifon where dwells our old friend Paul Williams of Weep for Wales fame. Yet Plas Pistyll and Plas Glynllifon represent for the ‘Welsh’ Government ‘high end’ tourism, which must be unquestioningly encouraged.
For it is all set out in TAN 13: Tourism (1997) . . . which observant readers will have noted was two years before the Assembly first sat. That’s really thinking ahead!
Yet from what I can see, ‘high end’ tourism only attracts the smarter shysters and the outright crooks. Though if we are to attract high end tourism then what is being done to phase out the barrel-scraping tourism represented by mile after mile of ugly coastal caravan parks that can only deter the high rollers?
Because we are expected to believe that in a tiny country like Wales we can have all kinds of tourism and unlimited numbers of tourists without causing catastrophic cultural and environmental damage.
This is because it’s what England wants, due to the fact that a) money spent in Wales will make its way back to England, and b) tourism and the population influx it encourages makes Wales less of a ‘worry’.
As for the aforementioned clowns down Geiger Bay, well they’ll always do what London tells them, and some of them are even stupid enough to believe that a healthy economy can be based on tourism. Not forgetting that many in the Labour Party would be happy to see the death of Welsh identity.
I have written a number of times about One Planet Developments in Wales, and of those taking advantage of this idiocy . . . and of us. (OPD itself will be explained in a mo.)
It would be easy to apply the generic term ‘hippies’ to those I’m going to write about, but this doesn’t convey the full picture, because those we’re dealing with are not all laid-back types, with no interest in material possessions.
No, those I’m going to write about are most definitely interested in owning things, especially that for which we humans have fought and killed each other for millennia – land.
Warning: This is a lengthy read (3200+ words) so make yourself a cuppa or pour yourself a glass and settle down to enjoy it.
ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS EXPLAINED
As far as I can make out OPD was announced to an unsuspecting nation in May 2009, with the document One Wales: One Planet. This document gave retrospective planning permission to a number of illegal settlements and dwellings. The use of that cardinal number was fitting seeing as Wales was then managed on behalf of London by the One Wales coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru.
I have grabbed the illustration below from said document and added names.
‘One Wales: One Planet’ was supplemented in July 2010 with ‘Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6 Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities’. This contains gems such as, “Many economic activities can be sustainably located on farms”. Er, yes, it’s called farming, it’s been going on for thousands of years.
TAN 6 gives the impression that despite it being about the countryside it was written by people who know nothing about real farming. The sentence I’ve quoted suggests that whoever wrote it believes that sheep farmers do nothing but farm sheep, filling their many periods of inactivity by perhaps flying off to the Dalmatian Coast.
Which in a sense makes sense. Because although OPD, TAN 6 and lots of other guff is ostensibly about the rural areas of Wales, it’s not about the Wales we’ve grown up in, it’s about a Welsh countryside of the future, socially engineered to be inhabited by different people. And in some parts, uninhabited.
The agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru in 2007 is set out in the ‘One Wales‘ document, subtitled, ‘A progressive agenda for the government of Wales’. Section 8 (page 30) deals with ‘A Sustainable Environment’ and begins, “Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity”.
Which suggests that for whoever wrote that, war, poverty, starvation, displacement, oppression, exploitation and all the other very real tragedies facing the human race in 2007 were nothing when compared to what might affect us at some time in the future. Making it pretty clear about the interests and motives of the author.
Whoever penned that is eager to employ a hypothetical future catastrophe in order to advance a narrow and self-serving viewpoint that will work to the advantage of those with whom he or she identifies. In other words, bouncing the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition into giving special treatment to those claiming to be saving the planet by moving to Wales.
Further on in Section 8 we read, “We will establish a Climate Change Commission for Wales, which will be chaired by the Minister for Sustainability and Rural Development.” So who was that?
In the picture above you will see, seated on the left, Jane Davidson, she was the Minister for Sustainability and Rural Development in the 2007 – 2011 coalition government.
Though information on the Climate Change Commission for Wales is sparse. It seems to have been set up in 2007 yet for some reason its first annual report didn’t appear until January 2012. Typing the name into the search box of the ‘Welsh’ Government’s website brings up very little, certainly no later annual report.
But who is Jane Davidson?
Given that she cares so frightfully for rural Wales it should go without saying that she is English and middle class, born in Birmingham and educated at what was then Malvern Girls’ College but appears to have since merged with St James’s School to give us Malvern St James Girls’ School.
What else do we know about Jane Davidson?
After Birmingham University she came to Aberystwyth, perhaps to do some post-graduate qualification, but she certainly taught for a few years (1981 – 1984), became development officer for the Youth Hostels Association (1984 – 1987), and by 1987 was a Cardiff councillor, and known as ‘Lady Jane’.
Her political career really took off when she became a researcher for Rhodri Morgan, the MP for Cardiff West in 1991. For some reason she didn’t stand in the council elections of 1995 and ceased to be Rhodri Morgan’s researcher in 1995/6. Giving us a lacuna between 1995/6 and 1999 when she was elected to the new Welsh Assembly, so if anyone can fill it I’d be most grateful.
(For many of those I write about gaps in the CV are often explained by being banged up, but in the case of Jane Davidson I’m sure she was doing something worthy like smuggling prayer wheels made from recycled wood into Tibet.)
As I’ve said, she was elected to the Assembly in May 1999 after being foisted on the bruvvers of Pontypridd and the constituency responded by unenthusiastically electing her with a majority of just 1,575 votes. She was soon made deputy speaker by the unloved and soon departed first minister Alun Michael, a man she is said to have known rather well.
On taking up her post in 2007 she resigned as Welsh vice-president of the Ramblers Association, but became president immediately on leaving office in 2011. We are expected to believe that she had no contact whatsoever with the Ramblers between 2007 and 2011 despite helping push through the Wales Coastal Path, which has caused such disruption, misery and expense for so many Welsh farmers and landowners.
But then, these – like the electors of Ponty – were never people Lady Jane cared about.
According to her Wikipedia entry, which I assume Jane Davidson edited, we read, ” . . . she was responsible for the Welsh Government agreeing to make sustainable development its central organising principle“.
There were no more pressing matters to deal with? Or had devolution now been subverted to a single issue – saving the planet? And were we supposed to believe that a tiny country like Wales could make a difference? This suggests to me that it was the obsessive Davidson who also wrote, in the ‘One Wales’ document, that “Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity”.
Does this myopia explain Wales being the poorest country in Europe? Did Jane Davidson and a few other English environmentalists con our gullible and deferential politicos into opening Wales up for them and their friends to act out their crackpot ideas?
The answer would appear to be yes, for it doesn’t end with OPD and Jane Davidson, perhaps because the English Labour Party in Wales has never been short of gullible and deferential clowns.
Following on from OPD and TAN 6 we saw, in January 2014, Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food, announce that 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy funding was to be transferred from Pillar 1 (farmers) to Pillar 2 (‘rural development projects’).
Another body feeding ‘advice’ to the ‘Welsh’ Government was the Wales Rural Observatory at Aberystwyth University. Made up of academics who knew nothing about Wales until they moved here they were highly qualified to offer such advice. The WRO went out of business 31 March 2014. (I do hope it was something I wrote.)
Independently, we saw a number of organisations like the Agroecology Land Trust spring up, which has blessed us with Red Pig Farm.
Apart from providing yet more jobs for Labour cronies the Future Generations department seeks to brainwash Welsh schoolchildren into accepting that developments like Lammas, complete with its pagan temple, represent the future Wales they should support and aspire to.
We have now reached the point where the One Planet insanity is being lauded outside Wales and promoted as “a ground-breaking Welsh government scheme under which people get to circumvent tight planning rules so long as they build an eco-home in the countryside and go back to working the land on which it sits”.
You can see that the headline reads – ‘Want to save the planet? Move to Wales’. Which exposes the absurdity of the whole idea, because if Wales was populated entirely with hippy ‘farmers’ they’d merely have transferred their footprint from somewhere else, and collectively they wouldn’t cancel out the effect on the environment of a single coal-fired power station in China.
But never mind the facts, for Lady Jane and her friends such publicity must represent victory.
Everything Jane Davidson has done in the field of environmentalism has been done to promote the interests of others like her, those who see Wales as a country of great potential, for them . . . and at our expense. For I cannot think of a single policy or initiative that she and her kind have been involved with that set out to improve the lives of Welsh people.
The footprint these people are really trying to reduce is our footprint, our footprint in our country.
Some of you may be asking why the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru are so supportive of this nonsense.
You have to remember that the Labour Party has little support in rural areas and so inflicting self-idealising ‘peasant farmers’ on areas that don’t vote Labour may be seen as a form of revenge. Certainly Labour has nothing to lose electorally. And then there’s the good publicity gained outside Wales from those who don’t know the truth.
And as the bruvvers have all read their socialist theories and studied the Russian Revolution maybe they view Welsh farmers as kulaks who must be destroyed in order for the peasants – in the form of eco-settlers – to take over. (And those of us of a certain age remember how successful Soviet agriculture was in putting food on Russian tables!)
But why would Plaid Cymru work against the interests and wishes of their core voters in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire? The answer seems to be that Plaid Cymru politicians have either been blackmailed with charges of ‘racism’ or else they’ve fallen for the Green invaders’ self-serving bullshit, and this pre-dates One Planet and One Wales.
Cynog Dafis, the former MP for Ceredigion from 1992 until 2000 and AM for the Mid and West Wales regional seat from 1999 until 2003, was an early supporter of the eco-influx, in fact, he stood for Westminster in 1992 as a Plaid-Green candidate.
Others have been involved with that spiritual home of eco-living the Centre for Alternative Technology in Corris. Among them my Lord Elis Thomas, who was a trustee or some such, as was Ellen ap Gwynn, currently Plaid leader in Ceredigion.
CAT has been in Corris for over 25 years and has drawn a few hundred hippies into the area. To the extent that on still autumn evenings there’s more incense and smoke (from wood-burning stoves and spliffs) hanging over Corris than you’ll find in an Orthodox cathedral at Easter.
Much of what I’ve written thus far might be gleaned from previous scribblings; what I’ve tried to do here is give the timetable for a whole strategy that has resulted in the ‘Welcome’ sign being put up to encourage many odd and not a few undesirable persons into our rural areas.
A strategy that increases Wales’s carbon footprint and therefore exposes that in reality it’s simply a type of colonisation. Supposedly more acceptable because it’s done in the cause of saving the planet.
And you mustn’t think that the problem is confined to the west, for since making contacts in Powys over the Paul and Rowena Williams case I learn of a OPD project at Twiscob Top, near Presteigne involving Paul and Kate Hooper, who had previously tried to inflict themselves on Carmarthenshire, insisting that they be allowed a dwelling near their charcoal business.
Powys planners seem reluctant to do their job partly because the Hoopers are using OPD and partly because of the expense involved in standing up to these bullies and their ‘Welsh’ Government backers. Which probably explains why they think they’ve won.
Now it’s time to move on to a related subject that shares many of the attitudes we’ve already encountered: the sense of entitlement, the belief that Wales would be better without the Welsh.
I’ve mentioned Corris and the Centre for Alternative Technology but the charlatans of environmentalism are not confined to this small area off the A487. They seem to have spread like a plague over the Dyfi valley area. In no small part due to the influence of notorious enviro-propagandist George Monbiot, who lived in the area for a while.
Monbiot’s pet hate is sheep. Those evil, woolly bastards wandering the hills planning human downfall. This article last year in the Grauniad tells us that while cruelty and lack of calories are the ostensible reasons for defending ourselves from the threat, the true motives become clear when we read: ” they (sheep) occupy around 4m hectares of the uplands”. And we are not talking Swansea Uplands here.
But the sheep-free uplands would not be left for Mother Nature to reclaim over time, oh no, they would need to be managed . . . by people . . . well, by people very much like Monbiot, and others we’ve encountered. In other words, we are talking now of engineered re-wilding.
One shadowy re-wilding project about which I and others are having difficulty getting information is ‘Summit to Shore’, covering 10,000 hectares and 20 sq km of sea from “the Pumlumon uplands down to Cantref (sic) Gwaelod”.
Heavily involved, maybe managing the show, is the laughably dysfunctional (or seriously corrupt) Natural Resources Wales where, among other board members, we find Dr Elizabeth Haywood, whose mini bio didn’t allow space to inform us that she is the wife of Peter Hain.
NRW’s master of ceremonies in Summit to Shore is Andy Middleton, “social entrepreneur . . . environmental innovator” and someone who – it is alleged – believes murderers and rapists should be forgiven for acting out crimes motivated by subconscious thoughts.
But the driving force will be Rewilding Britain, an organisation with which George Monbiot is linked, and some of the funding will come from hedge fund managers Artemis. There are other organisations involved – all based outside Wales or else Welsh-based white flight outfits – but no farming unions and no body representing commercial fishermen. In other words – no locals.
What better illustration could there be of the way the Labour Party operates through nepotism and corruption, facilitating the colonialist agenda and treating us Welsh with contempt? Though in fairness, it could be said that Labour has done its bit for re-wilding by reintroducing a species we thought we’d lost – the quango.
The re-wilding may have already started for in the area we’re dealing with Cambrian Wildwood has brought in some alien Konik horses to its land at Bwlch Carog, near Machynlleth. This report from BBC Wales tells us that, “The horses, from a herd in Kent, are descendants of the now extinct European horse, the Tarpan”.
These Konik horses are certainly from Kent, but the donkeys giving rides at Aberdyfi may have a stronger claim to be descended from the Tarpan. Though you have to ask why anyone supposedly concerned with authenticity and restoring land to a previous condition would import a Polish breed – via Holland and England – when we have horses of our own from Gower to the Carneddau.
Is this yet another example of environmentalists’ antipathy to all things Welsh – except our land?
Oh, yes, you’ll never guess who I found when I looked at the ‘Who we are’ page on the Cambrian Wildwood website – there, smiling back at me were George Monbiot and Lady Jane Davidson!
One thing I’ve learnt about environmentalists and re-wilders is that they have trouble with the truth; it’s not just equines, it’s also felines, specifically lynx.
A statement was recently put out by the Lynx Trust UK saying that it had obtained permission from all relevant landowners to release lynx into the Kielder Forest area of north east England. This was a lie, and was quickly countered by the National Sheep Association.
Something I noticed on the Lynx Trust UK website was, “We will work closely with local communities, stakeholders and the general public”, which I’ve read over and over on re-wilding and environmentalist websites, but it’s a lie. The Green invaders prefer to operate secretively through bodies like Natural Resources Wales, get the backing of individuals like Jane Davidson, and then present their plan as a fait accompli to local people and their elected representatives.
We are dealing here with an insidious form of takeover. No longer are greens and environmentalists looking for abandoned smallholdings, they now want to take over large swathes of our country. In this they are helped by the ‘Welsh’ Government and those the Labour Party has placed in strategic bodies to do its bidding.
Yet if those clowns down Cardiff docks were serious about protecting our environment and reducing Wales’s carbon footprint then it could be done quite easily by reducing tourist numbers, especially to seasonally swamped western areas. Further benefits could be obtained by re-instating a west coast railway and feeder lines to reduce road traffic.
But it’s never been about the environment. The English Labour Party in Wales has allowed itself to be hoodwinked by a bunch of well-heeled shysters and obsessives who want control of those parts of Wales that have rejected Labour, and Labour is quite happy to oblige.
THE GREEN PARTY
You may have noticed that I’ve written this without once mentioning the Green Party of England in Wales. What’s that, you thought there was a Wales Green Party? No, no, they voted on it a few weeks back and Green Party members in Wales voted by a substantial majority to remain part of the Green Party of England, rather than become a separate party, as is the case in Scotland.
That tells you a lot about Greens and environmentalists, off-grid dwellers, planet savers and re-wilders, and it betrays their thoroughly colonialist attitude towards us and our country.
Pure, unadulterated colonialism. Encouraged by leftist political parties.
♦ end ♦
P.S. Maybe I should have been more specific with Lady Jane’s role at Lampeter.
She is, in full, ‘Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for External Stakeholder Development and Engagement and Director of INSPIRE at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’. (Try saying that after three bottles of Malbec!) INSPIRE is the Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness.
Also at INSPIRE we find Andy Middleton of Natural Resources Wales. And Peter Davies, who “was previously Wales’ Commissioner for Sustainable Futures and provided advice to the Welsh Government”. Not forgetting Anna Jones, who “is currently involved with the voluntary rollout of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act”.
Isn’t it all so cosy, everybody knowing everybody else, and almost everything traceable back to the ‘Welsh’ Government. Or is the word I’m looking for ‘incestuous’?
I have written about housing associations dozens of times. One of the many things that intrigued me was their legal status – were they public bodies or private companies? For on the one hand they enjoyed the benefit of public funding (and lots of it), yet were exempt from public scrutiny and Freedom of Information legislation, just like private companies.
From my inquiries into housing associations I concluded that they enjoyed the best of both worlds.
This certainly surprised me, and the revelation that housing associations were regarded as private companies also surprised those who had innocently assumed that publicly-funded providers of social housing, owning for the most part stock they had inherited from local authorities, were already public bodies.
In addition to surprising some, the change also annoyed a number of people, not least the man in No 11 Downing Street, because it meant that £60bn of housing association debt would be added to the UK’s public indebtedness. Within the sector there were concerns that reclassification would mean, among other things, that housing associations would now be open to public scrutiny.
But if nothing else, this move by the ONS clarified the status of these mysterious bodies. They had been private, the ONS wanted to make them public, and now the race was on to find a way of reversing the ONS decision.
England led the way and in November 2017 the ONS announced that once the new measures had passed into law housing associations would be reclassified once again as private bodies. Wales followed suit in June this year with the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018. Despite the title, the purpose of this legislation is in fact to deregulate housing associations so that there is no possibility of them being considered public bodies.
Before delving into the Act, let me make a few things clear. It would be easy to think that if housing associations were private bodies that were briefly deemed to be public bodies by the ONS and are now reclassified as private, then surely we’re back where we started? Er, no . . . there have been many changes, significant and worrying changes.
These are encapsulated in ‘About the Bill’ in the ‘Overview’ introduction to the legislation, where it says:
It tells us clearly that to satisfy the Office for National Statistics “The purpose of the Bill is to amend or remove those powers which are deemed by the Office for National Statistics (“ONS”) to demonstrate central and local government control over Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).”
For those who find it difficult to wade through the full legislation (which I guess is some 99% of us) here’s a more manageable ‘Guide’ in which I’ve highlighted certain sections that I shall now focus on in order to discuss what I consider to be a very worrying direction of travel.
Let’s turn to the highlighted document.
Paragraphs 13, 15, 18 and 20 all list circumstances or situations in which housing associations no longer need the consent of ‘Welsh Ministers’. This is not a reference to a conclave of Nonconformist preachers but to the clowns down Cardiff docks who want us to think of them as the ‘Welsh Government’. (In reality they are just England’s management team in Wales.)
In practice, it means that a Registered Social Landlord in Wales is now free to make any change it likes to its rules, merge with another company, transfer its “engagements” (assets?) to another company, or go into liquidation, all without needing the approval of the ‘Welsh Ministers’.
Paragraphs 33 and 34 however gives the ‘Welsh Ministers’ power to both remove and appoint officers of RSLs, even if that housing association is a company. Which strikes me as a little odd, and would appear to contradict the expressed objective of removing the powers of local and central government.
As do paragraphs 40, 42 and 43 which also give or retain powers for the ‘Welsh Ministers’. These include the right to compel a RSL “to transfer management functions to a person specified by them (the ‘Welsh Ministers’)”. They can also appoint a manager and forcibly amalgamate RSLs.
Further paragraphs are in the same vein until we come to 61, which is worth thinking about, for it gives the ‘Welsh Ministers’ the power to show favouritism to certain housing associations at the expense of others.
Paragraph 63 suggests that housing associations are now free to hide “disposal proceeds” in the accounts, proceeds that will almost certainly have been paid for out of public funds. What’s more, ‘Welsh Ministers’ have no say in how the money – public money – is to be used.
Paragraphs 64, 71, 73 and 78 reiterate that local authorities – that is, the democratically elected bodies serving the areas in which housing associations operate – no longer have any influence in the running of RSLs.
WHAT WILL IT MEAN IN PRACTICE?
In a nutshell, Serendipity presented the ‘Welsh’ Government with an opportunity to extend its power in areas where the Labour Party is as popular as Boris Johnson at a Remoaner Wail-in and Carwyn and his gang grabbed the chance with both hands.
Or to look at it from another angle, an allegedly socialist political party has no qualms about privatising bodies holding and managing public assets.
Let’s deal with the power grab first. Despite being the party with the most MPs and AMs, and the party of power in Cardiff docks, Labour controls just twelve of Wales’ twenty-two local authorities. And none in the south west, the north west or the centre.
As I’ve explained on this blog a number of times, Labour overcomes its lack of representation – and consequently influence – through the power of patronage and funding. The third sector being a prime example, controlled via public funding dished out by the Labour management team in Cardiff docks the third sector is stuffed with Labour’s cronies and operates across the country. Whether it’s the Citizens Advice Bureau in Gwynedd or one of the countless ‘homelessness’ charities fighting over rough sleepers Labour uses the third sector to give it influence in areas where it has little electoral support.
The same can be said of housing associations. There are certain RSLs aligned with Labour and these are rewarded with extra funding and encouragement to take over housing associations that are not run by Labour Party supporters. One example I’ve dealt with a number of times was the takeover of Cantref, based in Castell Newydd Emlyn, by Wales and West Housing of Cardiff, run by the wife of a Cardiff Labour councillor. (A woman who insists on appearing in almost every photograph.)
One curb on the excesses of such Labour shenanigans was the involvement of local, non-Labour councillors, in the running of housing associations operating on their patch. But as we’ve seen, the new Act removes that involvement.
But the Act entrenches the power of the ‘Welsh’ Government to interfere of behalf of Labour-connected RSLs. For example, it’s no secret that Wales and West wants to take over Tai Ceredigion. The minister responsible could remove Tai Ceredigion’s CEO, replace him with a Labour stooge, who could then announce that the best option for Tai Ceredigion would be a merger with Wales and West Housing.
I’ve focused on Wales and West but I could have mentioned any number of other housing associations that are obviously Labour in their political orientation but tend to operate in one area, unlike Wales and West, which has a national reach, active in 15 of our 22 local authority areas.
GYPSY JAC GAZES INTO HIS CRYSTAL BALL
With housing associations deregulated, local authority influence removed, and the Labour Party able to control the whole shooting match, Wales could be facing a bleak future.
Let’s take Gwynedd, an area where Labour’s support is largely limited to academics and students around the alien university in Bangor. In the near future Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd (which inherited Gwynedd’s social housing stock) could be taken over by Labour Party appointees, who then sign contracts with English local authorities and RSLs to help them bring down their waiting lists for social housing. Something the new legislation allows RSLs to do.
So Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd goes on a building spree with borrowed money.
But it eventually becomes clear that Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd has bitten off more than it can chew and it goes into voluntary liquidation owing millions of pounds to lenders. So who is now responsible for that debt? Is it the ‘Welsh’ Government – in other words, you and me?
One of the objections to the reclassification as public bodies was that such a move would restrict housing associations’ ability to borrow money. Though Welsh RSLs have in the past borrowed very little from commercial lenders – that wasn’t repaid by the ‘Welsh’ Government – because they don’t need to. They have the guaranteed income from their housing stock, a stock that in most cases was paid for out of public funds, and as we know, this income is supplemented by handouts from the ‘Welsh’ Government.
So what becomes of these handouts now? Will deregulated private housing associations still receive public funding every year?
Another consideration might be that Welsh RSLs are also free to enter into agreements with those London boroughs currently engaged in social cleansing. Which could mean that a Welsh RSL in receipt of your money would be helping move people from London to Wales.
The new Act also allows RSLs to dispose of their ‘engagements’ and land assets. So what redress is there if, for example, Mid Wales Housing sells off land or property to RSLs based in the English West Midlands and these bodies then move many of their less ‘sociable’ tenants into places like Meifod and Llanwrtyd?
Clearly, the temptation is now there for Welsh RSLs to borrow unwisely and to over-extend themselves, which may well serve a certain agenda.
I say that because most people agree that we have too many housing associations. There are ten operating in Neath Port Talbot, six in Conwy, and no less than fifteen in Cardiff.
Obviously, the total number must be reduced, and the new Act makes it easier to undermine RSLs not favoured by Labour – as was done with Cantref – and to force through mergers. Which is what I predict will happen in the coming years, and it will be justified in the name of ‘rationalisation’.
What will be glossed over is the fact that the only housing associations left standing at the end of this process will be those run by Labour Party members and supporters. For make no mistake, the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018 gives the Labour Party more opportunities to extend its malign influence through giving its hangers-on preferential treatment.
But this is how a one-party state operates – supporters are rewarded and non-supporters compromised or intimidated.
LABOUR’S NUCLEAR OPTION
But the starkest and most dangerous reminder of the one-party state could, paradoxically, come when most people think the power of the Labour Party in Wales has finally been broken. A case of the cornered beast.
I can see a situation, maybe as early as the Assembly elections of 2021, that sees Labour without a majority and unable to cobble together a coalition. The ‘Welsh’ Labour Party will then be in opposition down Cardiff docks.
It is at this point that all the scheming and placements, all the bribes and sinecures, bear fruit, and all the favours will be called in. For it will be when Labour is in opposition that we see the benefit of having a bloated third sector, of filling housing associations with its people, of generally building up a network of supporters and funding recipients, everyone from Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s Hedgehog Rescue Service to Côr Meibion Cwmscwt.
For I predict with absolute certainty that when Labour loses control of the Assembly it will not accept defeat gracefully. The party will begin a campaign of guerilla warfare to undermine the new administration. Wrecking Wales will be acceptable collateral damage, because the party comes first.
Labour’s foot-soldiers in this dirty war will be its supporters in the sectors and networks the party has carefully built up over the past twenty years, including the deregulated RSLs, and these will be backed by a media that is either Labour-leaning or else a BritNat propaganda outlet for which Labour – as a Unionist party – is far more acceptable than what may have replaced Labour.
Making it easier for Wales to be made ungovernable through vindictive factionalism could be an important consequence of the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018.
I had planned a fuller article before I take myself off for a few days, but what with grandchildren staying over the weekend, and the football season now underway, I’ve had less time available than I’d hoped, and so I offer instead this little piece in which I consider one of the absurdities of twentieth century Wales.
One of many absurdities of course.
Let’s begin by establishing our parameters.
Most people on the left would argue that colonialism is an unequal relationship between European, Christian or white peoples on the one hand, and other races or cultures on the other, and that support for colonialism exposes a rightist – even racist – outlook. I say no; any relationship in which one country or people is ruled and exploited by another country or people qualifies as colonialism.
For this leftist interpretation often ignores white on white colonialism, and almost always ignores non-white on white colonialism, such as Turkish rule over large areas of Christian Europe from the sixteenth century up until the twentieth.
Cultural Marxism, that creature of the 1960s, is the leftist control of discourse and dialogue to the extent that certain subjects become taboo, certain words are forbidden, and freedom of expression is curtained to the advantage of the left. Often known as political correctness it is a form of censorship. It is dictatorial.
In normal circumstances, and for fairly obvious reasons, colonialism and cultural Marxism find themselves on opposing sides. Yet in Wales they are allies.
That’s because Wales is ruled by England in the interests of England. Anyone who believes otherwise, anyone who thinks we have a devolved form of government acting in the interests of Wales, is a fool. Wales is poorer, less healthy, and our children less well educated, than before devolution. (If those don’t fit, then choose your own criteria.)
Devolution has been an unmitigated disaster for the Welsh people. And for the essential Welshness of Wales.
Instead of devolution we have a management system. Senior civil servants based in Wales receive policy and other directives from their bosses in London then, in their role as advisors or whatever to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, they ensure that these directives become policy initiatives and legislation.
This is made easier because most Welsh people vote for left of centre parties out of self-interest or misplaced patriotism, and these parties are more susceptible to influences from groups and organisations even further to the left that care less about Wales than, paradoxically perhaps, parties of the right which should be more supportive of colonialism.
This helps explain the dominance of cultural Marxism in Welsh public and political life. It is because it fills an ideological vacuum for a whole class of politicians with no ambition beyond getting elected and keeping ‘the other side’ out. And by so doing, by piggy-backing on an ideology-free political class, leftist activists and practitioners of cultural Marxism are able to dominate Welsh political discourse and facilitate colonialism.
Colonialism in Wales is subtle. Apart from the obvious manifestations like dams and reservoirs, colonial exploitation is largely hidden from view.
Yet one of the more obvious shows of colonialism is demographic change. To the extent that it is now quite obvious that Wales, particularly the rural areas (and to some extent the post-industrial areas), are denied an economy that might retain the indigenous population and are instead served up a curious mix of ‘initiatives’ and ‘strategies’ designed solely to attract new residents from outside of Wales.
Take tourism, no longer confined to the rural and coastal areas but now being encouraged in areas like Merthyr and the Afan valley (behind Port Talbot). What virtually all tourism enterprises have in common is that they’re English-owned (but often Welsh funded), with the best jobs going to outsiders while locals pick up the scraps in the form of low wage and seasonal employment.
Tourism in Wales is blatantly colonialist, it rapes and prostitutes our homeland for the benefit of strangers, but the left stays silent.
Then there is the housing market, both private and social. The private sector seeks to build tens of thousands of homes that we do not need and that most of us cannot afford – homes intended for English buyers. This moves us beyond colonialism to colonisation. Which is also what we find in the social housing sector, with housing associations funded with money given to Wales prioritising dysfunctional and often dangerous applicants from outside of Wales.
Again, the left stays silent. Or rather, the left applauds; for importing a problem family from Stoke, or an ex-con from Wolverhampton, shows how ‘caring’ and socialist we are.
One of the causes taken up by cultural Marxism since the 1960s is environmentalism, and this brings me to the most recent, and perhaps the most blatant, form of colonialism we see in Wales today. Indeed, it may be unique to Wales.
I’m referring now to how – so we are told – Wales can save the planet through policies like the One Planet Development.
Which in practice means that in twentieth century Wales we see a return to the crude, almost apartheid, system of pre-Glyndŵr times in which legislators favour those seeking to colonise Wales while discriminating against the indigenous population. But this time it’s being done by a bunch of clowns calling itself the ‘Welsh Government’!
The fundamental idiocy of this policy is that the ‘Welsh’ Government justifies the One Planet nonsense, TAN 6 and other programmes on the grounds that they will reduce Wales’ carbon footprint. But by bringing people into Wales it can only increase Wales’ carbon footprint.
This time the left isn’t just applauding – it’s doing cartwheels!
How do we explain the left in Wales either being silent or supportive when it comes to what is obviously colonialism and colonisation? In a word, because we have no indigenous left in Wales concerned with what’s best for Wales, one divorced from external considerations.
What we have instead is a BritNat-dominated left promoting cultural Marxism from which England and English people benefit, which in turn makes leftism and cultural Marxism in Wales colonialist and self-serving. And its influence is everywhere.
It permeates the political system, the third sector, higher education, and other important elements of Welsh life giving out the same message – ‘To oppose our interpretation of what’s right and what’s wrong; to challenge our application of cultural Marxism, our takeover of your country, makes you an ugly and backward racist’.
And Plaid Cymru has fallen for this! it now takes the side of such people against its own people! Or what were its own people. For Plaid Cymru under Leanne Wood now sees itself as part of something bigger and more important than Wales.
The Anglo-centric or mid-Atlantic left in Wales not only serves its own interests but works against ours. To begin with, and quite obviously, those I’m discussing here do not want an independent Wales. But nor do they want a return to the status quo ante-devolution.
Because devolution serves them perfectly.
For a start, the left in Wales, both English and native, has no idea how to organise a wealth-generating economy, it is ideologically opposed to the capitalist system. Consequently, a system of sham devolution, with the left having a big say in how money handed down from London is disbursed by the ever-accommodating management team in Cardiff suits them perfectly.
Socialism has failed Wales because it sought to ameliorate the effects of capitalism, unwilling to accept that it was in fact confronting colonialism. This was due to socialists viewing Wales and the world through a British and Unionist prism.
This laid the foundations upon which the system we see today was built. A system that keeps Wales poor and underprivileged in order that parasites can demand an ever bigger slice of the cake so that they can help ‘poor Wales’.
The problem facing Wales today is obvious: an entrenched system of colonialism and discrimination reinforced in recent decades – and especially since the advent of devolution – by cultural Marxism and other leftist nonsense that allows parasites to thrive on and further weaken the malnourished body of Wales.
Let’s get rid of it all! Let’s sweep away colonialism and its supporting pillars of cultural Marxism. Let us build an independent and democratic Wales that serves the interests of our people.
Let’s start on a happy note before moving on to discuss the murky world of Paul and Rowena Williams and their interesting ways of doing business.
For on Sunday July 29 there was a garden party at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne. Everybody was invited and a wonderful time was had by all. Here are some photographs from the event.
The jolly get-together was called the Pants on Fire Party, an obvious reference to the countless lies told by Paul and Rowena Williams, plus those in their inner circle. In the poster a shifty-looking Keith Partridge says, ‘Psst!! wanna buy a hotel chain? No, how about a hot Bentley?’
To be honest, I wouldn’t buy a lavatory chain from that man.
As I say, a good time was had by all, though Paul and Rowena Williams didn’t turn up . . . which probably explains why everybody had a good time!
Having some time to myself last week I delved into the history of the oldest of Paul and Rowena Williams’ companies; the one that started life as Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd, then became Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd, before the name was changed again to Polvellan Manor Ltd in March 2016.
The first question that cropped up was, ‘When the company was formed in July 2002 we have a husband and wife running a country pub, so do they really need a private limited company? But even if they do, does that company need 10,000 £1 shares – why not just two shares?
Going through the accounts submitted for Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd we find a heart-rending tale of losses, year on year, suggesting that the Mortimers Cross Inn was spectacularly unsuccessful . . . or else someone was being ‘imaginative’ with the accounts ‘unaudited financial statement’. Heavily indebted every year the sole asset would appear to be the inn itself, valued in the accounts for y/e 31.07.2003 at £479,938 after depreciation.
Turning to the ‘Abbreviated accounts’ for y/e 31.07.2005 we see that the asset is now gone, which accords with perceived wisdom that says the inn was sold around this time to pubco Punch Taverns.
Though the figures for 2005 suggest other fixed assets somewhere, as ‘additions’, amounting to £118,611, giving a book value of £634,407, which reduced to just £8,250 after the sale.
The Abbreviated Accounts for y/e 31.07.2006 give the company tangible assets of just £6,187 and it’s heavily in debt. So where’s the money gone from the sale of the assets in y/e 31.07.2005?
I think that question is answered by the fact that Paul and Rowena Williams were now acquiring the properties we are more familiar with, such as the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel. Even so, they had just over half a million pounds to start with and there are no charges (mortgages or loans) listed against their only company. So where did the rest of the money come from?
Debra Yvonne Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister, became a director of Retreats & Leisure Ltd on 14.03.2007, so did she inject some money? For just a short time after this, in November 2007, Oswald, with her husband and her and Paul Williams’ parents, formed a company in Goa. Where the family still have a hotel, and where Williams père lives.
Whatever the answer, acquisitions there certainly were, for the company address was changed to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel on July 24, 2009, and the ‘Financial Statements’ for 2010 were lodged from the Knighton Hotel. Yet we don’t see these properties appearing in documentation until the ‘Abbreviated (Unaudited) Accounts’ for y/e 31.07.2010 when tangible assets are £863,016, up from £203,00 the following year.
Though the company remains a loser. On a turnover of £322,788 up to July 31, 2010 Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd lost £152,421. One factor being a large loan from Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Ltd, with £155,667 falling due in 2010, though this was down from £209,625 the previous year.
This loan, plus the money received from the sale of the Mortimers Cross Inn, would still not be enough to pay for the ten properties bought in this period, even if most were bought from receivers or at auction, so I ask again, where did the rest of the money come from?
The last ‘Abbreviated (Unaudited) Accounts’ for Retreats & Leisure Ltd before the new companies were set up was for y/e 31.07.2014. They tell us that the ‘total tangible assets’ – the combined worth of the Williams property empire – amounted to just £1,802,623.
Yet in August 2015 the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was bought by the new Williams company Leisure & Development Ltd for £3,487,049. The same company bought the Bird in Hand for £1,279,204. Salutation Inn for £1,049,076. Castle Inn for £1,269,720. The Knighton Hotel for £2,881,599. The Courtyard for £1,920,780.
Those figures come to a total of £11,887,428. And there are other properties they bought from themselves for which I don’t have the prices. Of course, the problem with buying from yourself is that it’s not real money, you aren’t making anything. That comes from the mortgages and loans you can raise against properties given absurd valuations.
(Though given who’re dealing with we should remember that paying over the odds is a good way of getting rid of money you might have difficulty accounting for.)
Something else I did to while away the time was draw up a list of the companies Paul and Rowena Williams have been involved with. Here’s the table I compiled, and it’s here in pdf format with the company number linking with its Companies House website page.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END?
Last week was a busy week. It started on Monday when I popped over to Presteigne and Knighton for a mooch around. (I enjoy a good mooch.) The Knighton Hotel and the Radnorshire Arms look what they are – abandoned, neglected and deteriorating.
Next, I received a flurry of e-mails from Companies House telling me of activity with Williams companies. All dated 10 July but recorded at Companies House July 30.
Third and fourth were two charges against Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Both are against “all the property or undertaking of the company”.
All of which suggests that Together Commercial Finance Ltd may have come to the end of its tether with Paul and Rowena Williams; concluded it’s not going to see its money repaid, and so is tying down property in lieu of the money it’s owed.
The National Westminster Bank seems to have come to the same conclusion, for it pulled the plug on Leisure & Development Ltd last Thursday, obviously concerned about the money it had loaned in 2015. Locks were changed and CCTV cameras installed on a number of properties, including the Radnorshire Arms where locals had so recently enjoyed the the garden party.
And yet, there are still questions.
Just a few months ago, when Paul and Rowena Williams were spinning the line about Keith Partridge taking over their hotels and other businesses, they told staff it was being done through his buy-out – for £10m – of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. Read the letters here.
We now know that the ‘buy-out’ was a fairy tale, and we also know that RRL UK Ltd owns nothing. Which I suppose explains why NatWest is unlikely to pursue the charge it has against this company.
So it appears that both lenders have all options covered and we’re approaching endgame. But I’m convinced that a crook and a liar as ruthless and cunning as Paul Williams still has something up his sleeve.
For as locals in Presteigne and Knighton know, just a day before the case was heard in that Birmingham court Paul Williams visited his properties with some men in a white van, and loaded up all sorts of stuff, even fire extinguishers! They appeared to be genuine – the guys in the van, I mean! – and even gave out a business card, which said they were working for Worcester Pubkit.
Even more bizarrely, at around 3am, just hours before Aztec Asset Assured turned up to change the locks, the alarm at the Radnorshire Arms went off, sounding very briefly before someone pressed the right buttons. Who could that have been, boys and girls, creeping around in the middle of the night?
The Williams Gang is now reduced to its holdings in Gwynedd and Cornwall, which I find rather disturbing for a couple of reasons. One, being pushed back into the western extremities of Britain carries uncomfortable historical resonance, and two, I live in Gwynedd, and so I’m wondering if these crooks are getting any of my money.
Gwynedd is represented by the Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd, while Cernyw comes in the form of Polvellan Manor Ltd. The sole director of the former is Rikki John Reynolds, while his counterpart in Cornwall is Keith Harvey Partridge.
The only reason these companies are still standing is that there are no charges against them. Or should I say, no charges directly against them. But Seiont Manor is owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd and as we’ve seen, Together seems to have that base covered.
Which leaves just Polvellan Manor Ltd, which as you read earlier started life as Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd in 2002. According to the company’s latest ‘Unaudited Financial Statement’ – produced by our old friend John Duggan – the turnover for y/e 31.07.2017 was zero.
That’s zero, as in zilch, nothing, sod all.
But we must introduce the caveat that Mr Duggan does have trouble with figures, to such an extent that he was sent away for a few years to brush up on his accountancy skills. So for all we know, the Polvellan Manor could be raking it . . . high rollers jetting in to the private airfield, top-class cabaret, 50 quid for a shot of Old MacDonald’s single malt . . .
Yes, last week was a good news week, and I’m looking forward to more good news in the not-too-distant future. The fat lady’s not ready to sing just yet, but I feel she’s in her dressing room applying make-up. For the curtain has gone up on the opening scene of the final act.
For you insomniacs out there, here’s some reading matter in the form of the latest version of the information sheet on the gang. Anyone able to suggest amendments or additions is welcome to contact me.
UPDATE 07.08.2018: After making further enquiries I now know that the process which resulted in Leisure & Development Ltd being placed In Administration was initiated by the directors. Which is where it gets interesting, for the two directors are Sukhbinder Singh Heer and Keith Harvey Partdridge (sic). Paul Steven Williams was a director until 21 July 2018.
Also on 21 July, one day after the meeting at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel between Paul and Rowena Williams and Powys County Council and the ‘Welsh’ Government, all 10,000 shares in the company were transferred from Plas Glynllifon Ltd to Keith Harvey Partridge. Though you have to ask why the shares were held by Plas Glynllifon Ltd when Part(d)ridge is supposed to have taken over the company on 1 February.
Whoever the directors are, the charges against this company remain. And I’m assured that once the move was made to, essentially, wind up the company, the creditors – National Westminster Bank Ltd and Together Commercial Finance Ltd – were informed.
As I say, the fat lady is still in her dressing room.
♦ end ♦
P.S. For all of you who’ve sent me information and anecdotes about the gang, particularly Paul Williams, please understand that I can’t use everything. Though I am considering a piece devoted solely to these horror stories.
I am grateful for the co-operation of Ms Clarke in the writing of this article
A long and completely unnecessary ordeal came to an end yesterday at Cardiff Crown Court for Jenny Lee Clarke, who had been accused of theft by Swansea East Labour MP Carolyn Harris. I have reported on this case more than once over recent years, but for latecomers to the story, here’s the background.
Before the 2015 UK general election both Carolyn Harris and Jenny Lee Clarke worked for the Swansea East Labour MP Siân James. Some time in November 2014 Harris humiliated Ms Clarke over her “dyke boots” before attacking her and pulling out clumps of hair. This being just another – if perhaps the worst – in a series of incidents of Harris seeking to insult and humiliate Clarke over her sexuality.
Witnesses to the attack included Labour councillor Paulette Smith (Clydach), who gave evidence at the trial.
Harris asked Clarke to forgive her and perhaps in the hope of confirming her remorse made Clarke her office manager after she became the new MP for Swansea East in May 2015. The rapprochement didn’t last long. Following a grievance raised on January 15 and ignored, and then eight hours spent giving a statement to the police on January 27, Clarke was sacked on January 28.
Her replacement is alleged to have found evidence that Ms Clarke had given herself an unauthorised pay rise and also shortened her working week by forging Carolyn Harris’ signature on a form to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). This was the charge against Jenny Lee Clarke.
Clarke insisted this had been done on the instructions of the new MP, arguing that “She (Harris) never liked paperwork. She left me to do everything.” As for the form ‘discovered’ by the new office manager, Clarke is adamant, “I didn’t sign it – I just wrote her name. Many letters and other forms have my writing on them – I have never attempted to write her signature, not at all.”
Interesting in this context is a document Jenny Lee Clarke compiled from her diary and from where we learn that as early as 2013 Carolyn Harris seems to have bullied her way into control of Siân James’ office, and by April 2014 we can see that Ms Clarke was not happy with being told by Harris to deal with IPSA.
12.04.12 – C.H demanding I do IPSA……..the rates were paid £1693. L.B £862.50. Reconciled Barclay Card
May 2012 – completing database of IPSA claims
06.01.14 – Was going to speak to C.H regarding I.P.S.A I wasn’t comfortable!
(The ‘L.B.’ referred to is Lawrence Bailey, former Swansea mayor and porn addict, PR advisor to Carolyn Harris , and of course columnist for the pro-Labour – to the point of being swivel eyed – Evening Post.)
Ms Clarke informs me she will be contacting IPSA asking that body to re-open its investigation into certain cash withdrawals made by Harris.
Understandably angry with the way she had been treated over many years, culminating now in her dismissal, Jenny Lee Clarke went to the media with the story of the assault she had suffered in November 2014. Most ‘papers went with it. Here are reports from the Telegraph, Daily Mail, Sun, and Pink News.
The story was also covered in Wales, but with an interesting twist. A day later than the London ‘papers WalesOnline ran the story, but now the emphasis had shifted – it was no longer a homophobic attack but a case of fraud. With Carolyn Harris (or the public purse) now the victim.
Which is when it gets a bit curious, and rather disturbing. Martin Shipton told us that police are ‘probing’ the office manager Jenny Lee Clarke, but where did he get that information, and should he have used it in such a blatant attempt to save face for Carolyn Harris, and the Labour Party?
Whatever the source of Shipton’s information, his report was the first Ms Clarke knew of any investigation. Is that any way to find out that the police might soon be knocking on your door? Four months eventually passed before Ms Clarke was arrested on 24 July. Charges were not laid until October.
Yet Gypsy Rose Shipton knows all!
Then followed a series of delays as the case was put off time after time until it eventually came to trial in July 2018. Should it ever have taken so long? Was there interference from the South Wales Police PCC, the former Labour MP, Alun Michael, in this very political prosecution?
Come to that, did Michael have a hand in deciding that Clarke’s complaint of January 2016 was classed as common assault, and therefore – due to the fact that the complaint was made more than six months after the alleged offence of November 2014 – could not be proceeded with? A different offence, with a longer expiry period, could have resulted in Harris being prosecuted.
Though given that the offence being complained of was a homophobic assault, and therefore clearly a hate crime, why didn’t South Wales Police arrest and charge Carolyn Harris?
While Jenny Lee Clarke was sinking into depression, not knowing whether she might end up in prison for a crime she hadn’t committed, the MP for Swansea East was busy preparing for the trial by ingratiating herself with the Gay community.
Now the obvious question is – how many such events did Carolyn Harris attend before she was outed as a homophobe in the London newspapers? Ms Clarke tells me that she cannot recall Harris taking anything other than a hostile interest in Gay matters before the prospect of a trial loomed.
I suppose we could give her the benefit of the doubt and believe that Harris’s persistent and very public homophobic rants were some kind of defence mechanism, her desperately holding the closet doors shut. With the mauling she received at the hands of the London prints triggering the burst of emotional energy that allowed her to emerge.
An alternative, and less charitable view, might be that she’s another scheming politician who went through the motions of befriending gays and others because she thought it would come in useful when she had her moment in the witness box. ‘Homophobic! Moi?’
I understand Jenny Lee Clarke is considering suing Carolyn Harris for unfair dismissal, sexual discrimination and a few other relevant charges. I wonder if Mrs Harris’s new Gay friends will rally to her defence?
If I was Ms Clarke I would also lay a complaint against the police for not properly categorising the offence so clearly described to them in eight hours of questioning at Swansea Central police station on January 27, 2016.
There are just so many questions needing answers. Here are just a few:
Where, how and with whom did the decision to accuse Jenny Lee Clarke begin? (And I mean accuse, not prosecute.)
Will there now be an investigation into whether Carolyn Harris or anyone else knowingly made false accusations?
Should IPSA – and perhaps the police – investigate how Carolyn Harris organises her office and her staff, to establish if she delegates work in ways that make her staff – on her instructions – break the law, or House of Commons rules?
After her complaint made on January 27, 2016, why did South Wales Police not pursue what was clearly a hate crime?
Will Jenny Lee Clarke receive an apology from South Wales Police for putting her through the wringer for over two years for what was clearly an accusation motivated by the desire for revenge?
Will Jenny Lee Clarke receive an apology from the Labour Party?
Did the trade union Unite properly advise Ms Clarke during the period of her dismissal? What Ms Clarke described to me as “shit representation”. Might Unite have been more concerned with protecting the reputation of a Labour MP and the wider party?
Will anyone compensate Jenny Lee Clarke for what she’s endured?
Will Martin Shipton of Labour-supporting Reach (formerly Trinity Mirror) tell us how he learnt that Jenny Lee Clarke was being investigated before she herself knew?
Jenny Lee Clarke lives in the Gower constituency. Will her MP Tonia Antoniazzi stand up for her constituent and condemn the disgraceful treatment Ms Clarke has received over the past two years?
Is Carolyn Harris’ position as Corbyn’s spokesperson for women and equalities any longer tenable?
Is Carolyn Harris’ position as deputy leader of the Labour Party in Wales any longer tenable?
Can Carolyn Harris remain MP for Swansea East?
STOP PRESS! I hear that back in the city of my dreams the book is open on Carolyn Harris’s successor. Front runners are:
Nicola Louise Edwards, 31, who failed to get elected for the Gowerton ward last year but is said to be fiercely ambitious. Being the grand-daughter of the formidable Lillian Hopkins, and daughter of current councillor Dai Hopkins (Townhill), she is not without influence in the now smoke-free rooms.
Also mentioned is council leader Rob Stewart. As it was put to me, “He’s got no job, lives on his own, so why not”. Call me picky, but I might demand better qualifications from my tribune. But then, this is Labour, and this is Swansea East . . . currently represented by Carolyn Harris. What more need I say?
The rank outsider is former Llansamlet ward councillor, former Sunderland North MP, Hero of the Revolution, Bob Clay. During his brief sojourn in Swansea he drew up plans to remove Harris but now faces expulsion himself. Given his vieux compagnon closeness to Corbyn he might yet gallop over the Briton Ferry Bridge at the head of his Trotskyite legion to scatter the hated Harrisites. (Unless the bridge is closed to traffic, as is so often the case.)
Then again, there are widespread fears that Carolyn Harris will take some shifting. Which I can well believe.
The real issue here, as with so many of the other problems in Wales today, is the Labour Party. The old, decrepit and corrupt Labour Party.
Reminiscent of some mangy old predator that can still stand upright and make a bit of noise but is no longer able to fend for itself, surviving only due to the weakness of rivals and their inhibiting memories of the fearsome beast it once was.
But now, as the end approaches, the truth can no longer be hidden. Labour is finished.
This episode is just another footnote to the volume that lists corruption financial and moral, careerism, cronyism, refusal to serve the Welsh national interest, turning Wales into the pauper of Europe, willing participation in the Britification agenda, mismanagement of public funds including the inability to recognise a shyster when he approaches with a flashing neon sign on his head saying – ‘SHYSTER!’
It’s time to put the old beast out of its misery; and with it the fleas, parasites and bloodsuckers that compound and exacerbate its decline and our misery. For it no longer has the power nor the will to serve Wales. We’d be better off without it. As in the wild, he will soon be replaced and forgotten.
P.S. At the time of publication the only article on the WalesOnline website – and in the Western Mail – is the same PA report by Rod Minchin that appeared on the BBC Wales website and elsewhere. No doubt something more forensic and informative by Gypsy Rose Shipton will eventually appear.
♦ end ♦
UPDATE 02.08.2018: There has been no official response from the Labour Party in Wales, there’s certainly nothing on the party’s woefully neglected and rarely updated website. All I’ve been able to find was in a piece in today’s Llais y Sais by Martin Shipton after he’d asked for a comment. It reads:
“We were told (by ‘Welsh’ Labour) there had already been a full and thorough investigation into the allegations against Mrs Harris, that the jury’s verdict was not a verdict or a comment on the veracity of the allegations made during the course of the case, and that Mr (Carwyn) Jones has full confidence in Mrs Harris as his deputy leader”.
What the hell does that mean? They still believe that Carolyn Harris didn’t mount a homophobic attack on Jenny Lee Clarke? And that’s it? A woman has been acquitted by a jury – in just 90 minutes! – of very serious charges made against her by a senior Labour politician. Suggesting that that politician was lying and trying secure the conviction of an innocent woman.
But instead of dealing with the trial and its implications, ‘Welsh’ Labour prefers to focus on an incident that may or may not have happened but is materially unconnected with the trial and the accusations made against Jenny Lee Clarke.
The anguished cry goes up from Cemaes to Chepstow, from Talacre to Tenby – ‘Will this ever end!’
The short answer is, I hope it will; but for me to get back to reporting on local flower shows, and telling you what Sharon’s mother wore at the wedding before she got legless and started stripping, there will need to be action from the police and various levels of government.
And while there are encouraging signs, and a growing mountain of evidence, the Williams-Partridge gang remains at liberty.
Even so, you’re assuming that there must have been some developments otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this latest instalment, and indeed there have. Not least a tearful – if unwilling – return to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel for Paul and Rowena Williams.
And lo, it came to pass that on Friday July 20th Paul and Rowena Williams did return to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne whereto they had been summoned by Powys County Council, and the ‘Welsh’ Government; the former checking on what insults had been inflicted on this listed building and the latter ensuring that the money showered on the Gruesome Twosome for the ‘Rad’ and the Knighton Hotel had been properly spent.
As yet, we don’t know what was said at the meeting (my Russian office is working on it), but things certainly got a bit heated when Paul Williams emerged. There were a few locals waiting for him. He approached one, and demanded, “Who are you, I’ve never seen you in here, have you ever drunk or eaten here, its people like you that forced me to close it down”.
He was clearly not in a good mood. He got particularly belligerent with this one particular local, and ended up belly-bumping him before head-butting him!
The gallery below shows a few scenes from last Friday’s tête-à-tête. Left to right: Paul and Rowena Williams, Paul Williams with the guy he nutted, two suits who arrived at the same time. Assure me they’re not working for the Williams-Partridge gang and I’ll remove them.
From Paul Williams’ demeanour it would be reasonable to assume that the meeting with Powys County Council and the ‘Welsh’ Government did not go well, for him. Good.
Elsewhere, the Mid Wales Journal ran another piece, but the story has now been relegated to page 2. It also carried a reader’s letter pointing out the absurdity of Partridge in last week’s edition attributing the closure of the hotels to the hostility that had built up after their closure. The same arse-backwards logic employed by Paul Williams on Friday.
THE SCAM ADMITTED AND PROBLEMS PILING
Ignoring the distraction of the confrontation Paul Williams’ little outburst is interesting, and revealing, on a number of counts.
First, the man being addressed (and then nutted) was a regular drinker and diner at the Radnorshire Arms, but Paul Williams wouldn’t have known that because he was hardly ever there. I suppose when you’ve got a property empire to oversee, hotels to buy (often from yourself at ludicrous prices), and money to launder, you haven’t got much time to shoot the breeze with locals.
Second, Williams admits that he closed these establishments, so the ‘sale’ to Keith Partridge was a sham, as I always suspected. But maybe it’s worse than that because the more I think about it the more convinced I am that there was no intention to ever reopen the Radnorshire Arms or the Knighton Hotel.
The ‘sale’ to Partridge was a ploy to distract attention from Paul and Rowena Williams. And even without Paul Williams’ outburst last Friday, the evidence has always been there, staring us in the face.
Yet on 1 April the gang (acting through or in the name of Michael Jones) tried to strike off Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. So those letters to the staff should have read: ‘We’re telling you you’re employed by RRL UK Ltd – but we’re liquidating the company. Ha, ha!’
Some might argue that liquidating RRL UK Ltd could be the best option. The Radnorshire, the Knighton and the other properties would then be auctioned off and might be bought by people who want them to be successful.
The flaw in this reasoning is that they might be bought at auction by another Paul Williams. For he himself has bought properties this way; one was the Fronoleu, near Dolgellau, which we looked at in the previous instalment, work started we were told in 2015, and yet it remains an empty shell.
Further evidence that Partridge is simply fronting for Paul and Rowena Williams, is that the letter from heartbroken-to-be-leaving Rowena and ‘new owner’ Partridge were almost certainly written by the same person. The clue is in the bizarre date format “01st February” appearing in both letters.
And of course, with the portfolio including the Radnorshire and the Knighton not being sold to Partridge it means that Team Williams did not receive the £10m Partridge was said to have paid them for those properties.
Yet Paul and Rowena Williams are talking of spending £20m on Plas Glynllifon and £5m or more on Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, so where’s the money coming from?
The truth is they have no intention of completing the restoration of Plas Glynllifon. They’ll spend a little money on cosmetic effects, bring in some antiques and other fixtures, but as with so many of their ventures, from the Scottish border to Cornwall, the prize may be the land adjoining Plas Glynllifon.
So I call on Cyngor Gwynedd and Grwp Llandrillo-Menai to tell us exactly what is being discussed, or has been agreed, with regard to handing over land to Paul and Rowena Williams. I can understand the silence, it’s often difficult to talk with egg on your face, but the people of Gwynedd, Powys, and the rest of Wales are entitled to know the truth.
The other element of the scam will be raising money against the asset of Plas Glynllifon. With a building that size, and the land around it, they could hope to raise many millions of pounds in mortgages and loans. And when they took it over in 2016 – fresh from their triumphs in Powys – they were also expecting a few million pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government and/or Cyngor Gwynedd.
PAUL WILLIAMS, SOME MORE FACTS
Here are some random and often unrelated facts from a number of sources that nevertheless help to fill out the profile of Paul Williams.
In the previous instalment I quoted Paul Williams’ Linkedin profile (here in pdf) and his claim to have worked for eleven years for the Royal Mail, handling their property portfolio. Now I’m told this is yet more bullshit. Which raises the question, ‘What was Paul Williams doing before he emerged circa 2001 at Mortimers Cross Inn?’
I mentioned the Goa connection in Weep for Wales 5, now I hear that Paul Williams’ father has a hotel there, but comes home three or four times a year. I’m also told that if you meet the father you’ll understand why the son is what he is.
The Badminton Club in Ebbw Vale was bought with cash. The attraction being the one-arm bandits and other gambling allowed at a private club. My source says that Paul and Rowena would travel down to Ebbw Vale regularly to empty the machines. (The income from which could be exaggerated?)
The Williams’ faithful lapdog Rikki Reynolds, now ‘running’ the Seiont Manor Hotel near Caernarfon, first worked for Paul and Rowena Williams at Mortimers Cross Inn. Later, either at the Knighton Hotel or the Radnorshire Arms, he was sacked for stealing some of the money that was lying around everywhere. Reinstated he is now part of the gang. Rikki is none too bright, a heavy drinker, a drug user, but loyal.
The Mortimers Cross Inn is also where they made the acquaintance of John Duggan the thieving accountant they have used to hide their crimes for a number of years. Can’t you just imagine the conversations Paul and John might have had of a winter evening around a roaring log fire, with Rikki swaying gently behind the bar!
The ‘Welsh’ Government has stated in a reply to Kirsty Williams AM that the Knighton Hotel received grants totalling £254,200 and Radnorshire Arms £225,000, but a source insists these figures are wildly inaccurate. The source is convinced that the Knighton alone received over one million pounds, and that Paul Williams used to boast that grants had paid for the place. Did the ‘Welsh’ Government focus on a single funding stream in order to mislead us?
For let’s not forget that even though Kirsty Williams is the local Lib Dem AM she also props up the minority Labour regime down Cardiff Bay. So she might not want to embarrass her coalition partners. Also worth remembering is that the reply she received came from Dafydd Elis Thomas, former Plaid Cymru AM, who is also helping keep Carwyn Jones and his gang afloat.
Fronoleu near Dolgellau was bought at auction in 2015 and paid for in cash. Over three hundred thousand pounds. A loan was then taken out against the property in 2018 with Together Commercial Finance Ltd. In the previous instalment I showed you plans that had been drawn up by an architect suggesting that work had started on Fronoleu in 2015. It was a lie, of course. Everything is a lie with Paul Williams. But worse, I’m told that this architect signs off projects funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government, saying that they have been satisfactorily completed. The architect concerned had worked for Paul Williams before Fronoleu, and possibly since.
But they had no intention of re-opening Fronoleu. It was just a way of laundering £300,000+. (And because it’s money laundering they’ll willingly pay over the odds.) This is how to get rid of dirty money and make more money on what you’ve bought. Money laundering also explains buying property from themselves at greatly inflated prices.
There was a delivery of new televisions to the Knighton Hotel one day, and even though hawk-eyed Paul Williams was on the premises – they were all stolen!
Paul Williams dismissed one member of his staff at 11pm on Christmas Eve in a telephone call from an airport where he was about to jet off for three weeks in Egypt!
One of his staff found a payroll file on a computer used by Paul Williams. Instead of names and numbers staff were identified by insulting descriptions of their physical appearance. I find this really weird, and disturbing.
PAUL WILLIAMS, THE MAN
Anecdotes and hard evidence continues to flow in from those who’ve had the misfortune to be involved with or work for Paul and Rowena Williams. (I used just a fraction of it in the previous section.) All of it helping to build up a character profile for Paul Williams.
To begin with, I’m convinced he’s a pathological liar for whom lies come easier than the truth. You just cannot believe a word he says. Often, he might not even realise that he’s telling lies.
When dealing with authority his strategy is to wear down the enemy by not replying to letters, e-mails and phone messages. Worryingly, this often results in the problem going away. Here’s a good example from Cornwall of how Paul Williams operates.
But if he is pinned down then he will agree to a meeting – but not turn up. Or agree to make a payment and not do so until he’s threatened with bailiffs or prosecution. With tradesmen and suppliers to whom he owes money he either ignores them or he threatens them with violence.
A number of people who’ve worked for Paul Williams tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, and attributed his lack of empathy to autism, before realising he’s just a complete cunt.
He likes to go to the limit, he likes to see how much he can get away with. It’s brinkmanship. He’s a gambler, a risk-taker. He might even get a rush from it.
He certainly enjoys cutting corners, cheating, putting one over on people, whether it’s his employees, the UK government, the ‘Welsh’ Government, local authorities, banks, tradesmen, suppliers, even taxi drivers delivering him home drunk.
I introduce the taxi driver because of a story I’ve been told about Paul, Rowena and Rikki Reynolds. A while ago a taxi delivered them to Seiont Manor and the taxi driver had to struggle to get his money because Paul Williams haggled over a £15 taxi fare!
Some might view Paul Williams as a likeable rogue for taking on public officials, banks and others, but when you learn of the little people he has hurt, humiliated and robbed, you realise he’s just a piece of shit.
A number of people over the years have had unhappy experiences with Paul and Rowena Williams. I’m already receiving information from many sources, but I suspect there are others who are no longer in Wales who could also provide information.
So I’d like to hear from Dan Pricop, Phil Higgerson, Mark McNicol and Paul Field. Get in touch with me at email@example.com. But the offer is open to anybody and everybody who will help to get this man and his associates their just desserts.
The montage below shows, in the big picture, Paul Williams’ sister Debra Yvonne Oswald with her husband Stuart. Top right is Keith Partridge. Bottom right Sukhbinder Singh Heer, who is the other director of Leisure & Development Ltd along with Partridge and Williams. Quite what he brings to the party is yet to be established.
You’ll note that Part(d)ridge and Heer became directors of Leisure & Development Ltd on 1 February 2018, which is the date Partridge is supposed to have taken over the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, the Knighton Hotel and other properties. But in both letters we’ve seen, staff are told they still work for Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, of which Partridge and Heer are not directors.
Has somebody slipped up, got confused with similarly named companies?
Which is just paperwork, designed to deceive. For I guarantee that no properties have been transferred from Paul and Rowena Williams to Partridge.
As I say, this is primarily a money laundering operation. The only question is whether Paul Williams is laundering money for others or for himself and his extended family. Maybe it’s a bit of both. We can add mortgage fraud and other crimes to the mix.
Properties are bought at auction, paid for with cash, or people in difficulty with their mortgage are ‘helped’ . . . before being elbowed out. Those properties, and nearby land, are then used to raise loans, sold to Williams companies at absurdly inflated prices, which then means they can take out more loans.
So dirty money is successfully laundered and more money is raised through loans against properties they have no real interest in, but it also means a growing mountain of debt, unless of course Together Commercial Finance Ltd is part of this scam.
Whatever the answer, if I was a business partner of Williams I’d be pissed off with him for attracting a lot of unnecessary attention. All he had to do was keep the Radnorshire Arms and the Knighton Hotel open and I would never have heard of Paul Steven Williams.
But then, I’ve described the sort of ‘fuck-’em-all‘ man he is, and because he thinks he’s smarter than everybody else, he’s become over-confident, and when you’re over-confident you make mistakes.
In what I assume was an attempt at ‘balance’ the Mid Wales Journal followed up its report of 6 July on hotels being abandoned by Paul and Rowena Williams and/or Keith Partridge with the report below a week later.
In this we read Keith Partridge blame the neglect of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel on “foul and abusive notices” being found around these properties. He was also outraged by social media posts and web sites. (Some people, eh!)
These assaults on Partridge’s honesty, and his motives, have caused him and his cohorts, to “rethink our strategy”, with the outcome of the rethink to be given by the end of August.
What a load of bollocks! He shut the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel telling staff these hotels would be closed for a few months for refurbishment and re-branding. When it was seen that nothing was being done people started asking questions about Partridge, and a can of worms was opened.
My gut feeling is that it was never in the plan to re-open these hotels. But with so much evidence about the gang now in the public domain, and with politicians, media and many others asking questions, their plan has been rumbled, and they’re not sure which way to jump.
THE MAN HIMSELF
Companies House tells us that Paul Steven Williams was born 23.02.1969.
His Linkedin profile tells us that before becoming a hotelier and property tycoon he worked for Royal Mail for eleven years as ‘National Facilities Manager’. We are told that his, ” . . . responsibility covered the management, acquisition and refurbishment of the Royal Mails (sic) £5 billion portfolio of UK properties”.
The manner in which the job is described suggests that this is where he learnt about property, how to acquire, exploit and dispose of property, plus all manner of short-cuts and dodges. Doing this job he must have made many useful contacts in the property world.
If you go up towards the top of the Linkedin page you’ll see ‘Paul Williams’ Posts’, ten in all. I was particularly taken by one dated October 2, 2015 and introduced as “Our Next Hotel Project …………..is….” and it turns out to be the Fronoleu Country Hotel near Dolgellau. In case it disappears from the internet, you can read it here.
Upon reading that I thought to myself,‘Well, if this project was already under way in early October 2015 then it must surely be finished by now. So I shall hire me a charabanc and take a party of merry-makers up there!’
But alas, when we got there, this is what we found! It was terrible! The shrieks of the women, the crying of the children, the men cursing – ‘There was football on the telly, you bastard!’
What went wrong? We were told this project was under way in 2015, Paul Williams even showed us the plans on his Linkedin post. Surely he wasn’t lying?
And yet, I can’t find any record of a planning application ever being submitted for this property, and I searched both the Gwynedd council and the National Park websites. To judge by what I saw when I visited, the place was cleaned out some time ago, and that’s all that’s been done. It was bought, gutted, and left to rot.
The only sign of recent human intervention was the cut grass to the left of the hotel, probably cut by whoever lives in the house just out of picture in the same direction. Particularly poignant, I thought, was the state of the three flags, resembling standards on some long forgotten field of combat.
But how did Paul and Rowena Williams come into possession of Fronoleu?
Given the dates we already have in 2015 I suspect it was bought at this auction. The information given is interesting, and amusing. It tells potential buyers, “The more extensive amenities of Caernarfon and Bangor are accessible to the north respectively“ without saying that Caernarfon is over 40 miles away, Bangor further, and that Aberystwyth and Newtown are both nearer.
Obviously penned by someone who knows sod all about the area. Another give-away was calling Tabor a village, which is like describing Dolgellau as a metropolis. And while the former county town of Merioneth is indeed 1½ miles away – if you’ve got black, shiny feathers – it can only be reached from Fronoleu by risking the single-track unlisted road that runs to and from this isolated property.
(Our charabanc scared the shit out of a cyclist who reacted in the manner I suspect greets alien landings. I hope he wasn’t injured diving through that hedge.)
I’m sure Fronoleu serves some purpose lying empty and losing money but don’t be surprised if it catches afire or goes to auction again soon.
UPDATE: I hear from a council source that towards the end of last year council tax debts on Fronoleu had reached such a level that Cyngor Gwynedd threatened to go into Seiont Manor and seize ‘goods to the value’. This was averted only when £10,000 was paid over the phone by card.
GOOD WITH FIGURES
I’ve just mentioned John Duggan, who serves as the gang’s accountant, and works out of a shed in the village of Leintwardine in north Herefordshire.
Leisure and Development Ltd, the company we are asked to believe was sold for £10m to another crook, Keith Partridge, in February, was using Duggan’s shed as the company’s registered office address, but earlier this month the address was changed to the Knighton Hotel.
Can’t you just imagine Keith Partridge sitting down one morning to his kedgeree, switching on his tablet to read Jac o’ the North and exclaiming in a voice resonant of both shock and horror – ‘Well, bless my soul, John Duggan is a crook! Who’d have thought it . . . lovely man . . . such impressive offices at Unit 3 . . . We’ll have to take our business elsewhere . . . ‘
How they’ve been allowed to get away with it I do not know. Let’s stick with Leisure & Development Ltd for a minute. This company was formed 19 January 2015; then, in July 2015, no less than 7 charges were registered, these being loans from the National Westminster Bank. Yet the accounts submitted for that period, up to 31 January 2016 – by Debra Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister – are for a dormant company!
Clearly Leisure & Development Ltd was not a dormant company. And I guarantee that no responsible accountant or lawyer would have signed off that statement, so Paul Williams’ sister had to do it.
Though in fairness, the accounts for 31 January 2017 (or the ‘Unaudited Financial Statement’) were produced by an accountant – John Duggan, of J D Accountancy, Leintwardine.
An unlikely locale in which to find Paul and Rowena Williams, who specialise in country hotels, which then makes the former Badminton Club an even more unlikely purchase. But buy it they did and may have renamed it the Beaufort Sports and Social Club.
I’m not sure when they bought it, or whether it was through an auction – maybe someone in the area can help?
Did Paul and Rowena Williams initially buy the Badminton Club in their own name(s)?
If not, when and from whom did Rural Retreats & Leisure acquire the property?
Did Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd pay a strangely high price for the property?
Was the property then sold at a loss?
Now we turn to the jewel in the crown, the reason given for allegedly selling the other properties to Keith Partridge.
The latest figure given for the Glynllifon project is £20m. Even if we accept that Paul and Rowena Williams received £10m for their other properties from Partridge (which raises the question of where he got the money), that still leaves a shortfall of £10m.
Fortunately, this money-pit is, according to The Caterer, being funded by the other Gwynedd properties.
We’ve already seen that Fronoleu isn’t making any contribution, and the only establishment that is open for business is the Seiont Manor Hotel. Run by Rikki Reynolds who, from the information I’ve received, seems either disinterested or out of his depth.
The figures don’t add up because Plas Glynllifon was taken on in order to raise more money. When everything eventually goes mammaries heavenwards the gang will drive off in brand-new Range Rovers, every glove compartment and other storage area stuffed with readies.
In the meantime, in the hope of persuading people that renovation is under way, Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor serve as repositories for fixtures and fittings looted from elsewhere.
And who’s to say the partnership will even hold? Because I hear of rows between Paul and Rowena Williams, with her often sleeping on an inflatable bed.
Face it, these people are crooks. Before long, as the NatWest Bank, HMRC and the police close in Gwynedd will be back to square one with a massive derelict mansion and a few smaller properties for which no uses can be found and no honest buyers.
UPDATE: Crooks they may be, but I’m sure they don’t have people whacked, which is a possibility that went through my mind when I was told about a ‘director’ who was there at Seiont Manor one day and was gone the next, never to be seen again.
The man I’m talking about is Mark McNicol, who describes himself on his Linkedin profile as ‘Operations Director – Rural Retreats & Leisure’, a job he’s held since April 2016. Which is a bit confusing, for Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd changed its name to Polvellan Manor Ltd in March 2015. (Surely they’d have told him?)
Having mentioned HMRC I suppose I’d better explain why. It’s because Team Williams has a long-standing policy of paying in cash. Staff are paid in cash, suppliers are paid in cash, just about any deal that can be done in cash will be done in cash.
Inevitably, this means imaginative accounting – which is where Duggan of Cell Block B comes in – but documents still need to be produced. As I mentioned in the previous post, staff at Seiont Manor are given pay slips saying one thing (with no deductions for PAYE or NI), while the correct amount is paid by cheque.
I have now been sent some documents by former employees. This first one shows no tax paid while working at Seiont Manor. This individual is now paying extra tax to make up for the non-payment that is the responsibility of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. (A company whose accounts are done by John Duggan.)
In another case, the salary was understated on the P60. In this example we are asked to believe that this person – earning £30,000 a year – was paid just £2,500 between November and April.
I have other documents all pointing in the same direction. Documents I will be happy to make available to HMRC. Those who’ve supplied me with the documents are ready to fully explain how this illegality is perpetrated. And I’m sure they have much more to tell.
This gang is always cutting corners, always lying, always cheating somebody. That’s because they are liars and crooks. There’s a story emerging of the deal Paul Williams struck with a certain drinks company. Of course he’s reneged on that deal, and the thug who runs the Waves Bar for him/Partridge in Cornwall has threatened a representative of the company with violence if he dares ask again for what’s owed.
For as we learnt in Weep for Wales 5, the Waves Bar in Seaton, Cornwall, is run by Stuart Paul Cooper, another crook done for fraud. But Cooper also has a taste for violence, and regularly threatens to burn down people’s homes – with them inside.
That’s three convicted fraudsters – that we know of – working for or with Paul and Rowena Williams: Keith Partridge, who’s supposed to have bought the properties outside Gwynedd, and has known Paul Williams for years. John Duggan, their accountant, who fleeced an old lady out of £700,000. And ‘Burn-’em-alive’ Cooper down in Cornwall.
We are judged by the company we keep, and when you keep company like that . . .
NATWEST AND TOGETHER
Finally, one thing that’s been puzzling me is why any bank or finance company would lend money to these crooks. I suppose the easy answer would be that they’ve got collateral in the form of hotels and the fixtures and fittings they contain. But what if the value of those hotels and other property is greatly inflated?
Seeing as NatWest stopped lending to the companies run by Paul and Rowena Williams early in 2016, I guess warning lights flashed and somebody said – ‘Enough!’. A theory strengthened by news that NatWest in February 2017 was trying to ‘restructure’ the loans. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
The document you’ve just read relates to Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. It’s dated 2 February 2017. On the Companies House website, a day later, the registered office address was changed from Unit 3 in Leintwardine (John Duggan) to Plas Glynllifon. Had NatWest rumbled John Duggan?
Whatever the answer – and as I just mentioned in relation to Mark McNicol – in May this year there was an attempt by the owners to strike off the company, and with it of course the debt to the National Westminster Bank. The procedure was halted by an objection from a public-spirited citizen.
All of which tells me that NatWest is innocent of any shenanigans. It is a victim in this affair. But what of Together Commercial Finance Ltd, the equivalent of a pay day loan company that replaced NatWest? The more I think about the relationship between the gang and Together Commercial Finance Ltd the more I see a partnership. If so, who’s taking the hit?
While you ponder this and more you might care to peruse a sheet I’ve put together that lists the dealings of the Williams-Partridge gang in a timeline determined by the dates of the many charges against their companies interspersed with noteworthy events.
Stay alert out there and don’t swap your cow for any magic beans. You listening!
I’m taking a wee break from the Williams-Partridge gang, but I shall return to them, you can count on it. Weep for Wales 6 is already forming itself in the old Jac noggin.
But as the Walrus said, The time has come to talk of many things . . . but we shall not stray far from my favoured themes of shysters and charlatans, colonialists and their facilitators.
THE GREEN, GREEN PARTY OF HOME (WHICH IS NOT WALES)
There is in Wales a political grouping calling itself the Wales Green Party. Over the years many people – myself included – have pointed out that despite the name it has no legal existence, being merely part of The Green Party (of England). Scotland has a separate party.
This question of whether there is or should be a separate Welsh party has bedevilled the Greens in Wales for some years and so it was recently decided to lance the boil by having a vote on whether to become wholly independent or remain part of the Green Party (of England).
This result does not surprise me. The Greens I’ve met in my area, and others I know of who’ve moved to rural parts of Wales, tend to offer a ‘We know best’ kind of ‘enlightened’ colonialism. No less offensive when delivered by some malodorous little twat with a 2:2 in mycology than when it’s barked by the District Officer wearing shorts with a razor-sharp crease.
What I’m saying is that, in Wales, most Greens are English arrivals (many of them just passing through). This explains why – unlike Scotland – we do not have a separate and native Green Party. This also explains the vote I’ve just reported.
Greens in Wales must now stop the pretence that there is a Wales Green Party. There is not. What we have in Wales is the regional branch of The Green Party of England. Calling it the Green Party of England and Wales is no improvement, especially when we remember the position in Scotland.
Those who want a Welsh Green Party, those who wish to prioritise the Welsh national interest, had better do some hard thinking. A new, genuinely Welsh Green party could resonate with Welsh voters far better than the Green Party of England has done hitherto.
It could hardly do any worse.
WHO WILL BUY MY LOVELY HOUSES? – THE ‘WELSH’ GOVERNMENT OF COURSE!
And so to Pembrokeshire, which attracts a disproportionate number of those malodorous little gits with a 2:2 in mycology. But on a higher plane, far removed from the darkness and the copious amounts of shit, we enter the realm of Sol Invictus.
And it’s there, basking in the wealth he bestows, that we find Dr Glen Peters. Formerly of bean-counters PwC but now ensconced at Rhos y Gilwen mansion near Cilgerran, where he brings culture to this benighted corner of Wales through Menter Rhosygilwen. You can even get married there.
But his real interest is making money through his company Western Solar Ltd. There is a solar farm on his land and when he’s not harvesting all that lovely sunshine on his estate he’s building houses . . . to harvest more life-giving sunshine. His footnote in history being assured with Pentre Solar, an ambitious scheme at Glanrhyd.
But ere it started, the ‘Welsh’ Government bunged Peters £141,000 for a factory in which to manufacture sections for the houses. Since then, the ‘Welsh’ Government has loaned the Ateb Group, formerly Pembrokeshire Housing, £900,000 to buy the six houses from Peters.
Yet according to this account in the Guardian, just four of the properties, ‘have “affordable” rents and are being offered to people on Pembrokeshire county council’s housing register who have lived in the area for five years’.
So how many of these houses are for social housing, six or four?
Either way, Glen Peters has made a tidy wodge from the ‘Welsh’ Government and a factory paid for out of public funds has been added to his property portfolio. Yet his Linkedin profile boasts that he has been “Eco Entrepreneur of the Year”.
An entrepreneur (for which there is no word in Welsh, incidentally) is someone who takes risks with his own money. How the hell can anyone be an entrepreneur when he’s feather-bedded by the public purse?
The Solar Village website makes a big thing of “employing locals”, yet closer inspection reveals that these people are ‘local’ only in the sense that they’ve moved to Wales. Just like so many other schemes in the Welsh countryside, especially where environmentalism is concerned, we see Welsh public money funding social engineering.
As for Glanrhyd, it’s a hamlet on a B road some five kilometres from Cardigan. I’m not sure how good the public transport links are, but even if they’re good Ateb might have had trouble finding tenants. Seeing as the houses are now occupied I’d like to know who lives in them, how many are social tenants, and how local those people are to the area.
Worth asking because the Ateb Group is a curious beast, a Community Benefit Society that includes Mill Bay Homes Ltd. I don’t understand how a private company can shelter under the umbrella of a Community Benefit Society; but then, all sorts of things are permitted, or overlooked, in the strange world of Welsh housing associations.
For example, Mill Bay Homes is no longer a Registered Social Landlord, which is hardly surprising seeing as it builds and sells property on the open market like Wimpey and Redrow; but it has over the years borrowed millions from its publicly-funded parent company Pembrokeshire Housing which now – re-branded Ateb – is buying properties from Mill Bay!
It’s all very complicated. Deliberately so.
Western Solar Power has plans for more villages. Another project lined up is for Coastal Housing in sun-blest Ammanford. Where no doubt the public purse will further enrich Glen Peters and Coastal Housing will have properties that attract positive publicity in obscure publications, but they’ll be expensive to build and might not serve the purpose used to justify the public funding – affordable homes for local people.
Glen Peters is obviously on a good thing. All he has to do is keep pressing the right buttons and the money pours into his bank account. But I can’t help thinking that social housing could be delivered a lot cheaper, in places locals want to live, which is why I’m sceptical of Pentre Solar and similar projects.
Bottom line is, it might be acceptable for Glen Peters to enrich himself playing the enlightened squire, and employing his cronies – but not with our money!
BERYL’S IN PERIL!
No doubt you’re all aware that there’s a by-election campaign under way in Cydweli’s Mynydd-y-Garreg ward. In fact, there are only two wards in Cydweli; Mynydd-y-Garreg and Castle, which might make life easy for some, but for your average punter, having eight or nine community councillors for his or her ward must cause confusion.
Standing for Labour in Mynydd-y-Garreg is Beryl-Ann Williams. I’m told her election literature is in English only, a great disappointment to see this on the home turf of the late Ray Gravell, where 62% of the working age population speaks Welsh . . . but only 21% of retired people. Now I wonder why that is?
Beryl-Ann works in the third sector as an ‘art psychotherapist’. (No, honestly, I did not just make that up.) This psychotherapisting may be done at the Kidwelly Community Hub, which seems to serve as a publicly-funded but unofficial Labour Party clubhouse.
This being the Llanelli constituency, where Plaid Cymru has self-destructed, and Tories have never been thick on the ground, her sole opponent is Independent Ronald Carl Peters-Bond, whose literature is bilingual and has a powerful message:
“Kidwelly Town Council’s focus has been on building a new office costing over £500,000, the overspend on which has now left it in serious financial difficulties. We need to stop the rot.” and “Currently over 80% of the tax you pay to Kidwelly Town Council goes on administration and keeping that shiny building.”
Can you believe that a Labour administration would waste money on such things? And overspend?
I look forward to hearing from distant Cydweli that Grav’s old stomping-ground has rejected a Labour/third sector blagger who seems to have no love for Wales and her heritage.
‘I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT IT . . . MUST BE SOMEBODY ELSE’S GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBLE’
Back in May I wrote about BikePark Wales, yet another example of Welsh assets being handed over to a bunch of strangers in order that they can enrich themselves. In this particular case it was Natural Resources Wales leasing a large area of forested land near Merthyr Tudful to a company with the absurd name of Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd operating as BikePark Wales.
Something that particularly worried me was the fact that this company felt it had the power to fine locals found on the land it was leasing, and that these fines could be collected on the spot by ‘marshalls’ (sic).
A regular reader of this blog tried to get a number of politicians interested in this surely unacceptable behaviour; Labour and Plaid Cymru couldn’t be bothered and the only politician who came through was Mostyn Neil Hamilton, the Ukip AM for the Mid and West Wales Region.
Last week, in Plenary at the Assembly, Hamilton raised the issue with first minister Carwyn Jones, who professed complete ignorance. (Available here at 22:05.) Now put aside any antipathy you may have towards Ukip, or Hamilton, and consider the issue on its merits. And think about Carwyn Jones’ response.
In that irritating I’m-a-tidy-bloke-but-cleverer-than-you manner Carwyn Jones tried to laugh it off and almost seemed to suggest that Hamilton was making it up. But if what Jones said was right, then BikePark Wales is acting illegally. That being so, then surely something has now been done about it?
No. I’ve just checked the BikePark Wales website and it reads the same as it did before. Which suggests that Carwyn Jones and his management team really doesn’t care about such colonialist arrogance.
When strangers take over a country, exploit it for their own ends, when the indigenous population is elbowed aside, and when a collaborationist administration encourages and funds such behaviour, then that, my friend, can not be dressed up as ‘investment’, or disguised as an ‘economic strategy’.
It is colonialism; and to deny it is no different to the Green Party (of England) refusing to accept that Wales is a country in its own right, just an economically underdeveloped region of England or Britain.
By any criteria you care to apply Wales is a colony. What are you going to do about it?
Well, here we are again. And why are we here again? Because there have been further developments, that’s why. Some of them encouraging developments.
In addition, I’ve been doing a bit more thinking. Standing back, as it were, trying to take in the big picture, because what confronts us is designed to mislead and confuse. With companies forming and constantly changing names, addresses and directors. People taking out mortgages to buy property from themselves. Buy-outs that are probably nothing of the kind. And a web of lies designed to hide what’s really happening.
All made easier by the gullibility of politicians and media over a wide area and for a considerable period of time.
There’s little official news but snippets continue to reach my penthouse office at Jac o’ the North Towers about how the Williams Gang operates.
The former head chef at the Seiont Manor Hotel was able to provide me with more information on the curious payment arrangements. In his case, pay slips reading £500 every month but much larger amounts – the agreed salary – actually going into his bank account.
He was also able to give me bank details for the source of the money. I won’t use that information here but any official agency interested in seeing the information is welcome to contact me. The head chef and his team were constructively dismissed in order to provide work for chefs moving up from the now closed Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne and the Castle Inn in Wigmore. Other staff were also elbowed out.
UPDATE 09.07.2018: After discussing it with the man concerned I have decided to release copies of the relevant documents. They’re not perfect pictures but they show payslips for March and May this year, with no PAYE or NI paid, and showing net pay of £500, with the corresponding bank entries for those months showing £1,973.00. Click here.
It seems that the Williams Gang likes to have ‘loyalists’ on the books . . . or should that be ‘off the books’? Whatever, another loyalist is the handyman, a local who’s made comments to my Facebook page, some of which he’s deleted. To believe Noel Jordan of Penygroes Wales couldn’t manage without people like Paul, Rowena, Rikki and the gang because we Welsh are too stupid to do things for ourselves. Speak for yourself, Noel.
Though Noel has stopped defending Team Williams, perhaps because it’s finally penetrated even his thick skull that they’re crooks. Now he attacks me for my FWA connections and my political stance, previously unknown facts he’s gleaned from – Phil Parry at The Eye. Well, laff!!
Something else the former head chef told me was that Rikki Reynolds, running Seiont Manor for Paul and Rowena Williams, doesn’t seem much concerned if the business makes money or not. Which I suggest confirms my theory – what’s important is the buildings and the money that can be raised on them or channelled through them, the businesses in those buildings are dispensable, as are the people working in them.
This explains why businesses in buildings owned by Paul and Rowena Williams just limp along or close.
So unconcerned is Rikki Reynolds about the state of the Seiont Manor Hotel that I’m told old furniture, televisions, fryers, and other junk litters the grounds, and the interior’s not a lot better.
And if anything goes wrong you’d better try to fix it yourself because no local tradesman will answer the call until he gets pad for his previous visits. (Thank God for trusty, forelock-tugging Noel!) Bailiffs and others looking for money are regular visitors to Seiont Manor. Though come to that, they’re regular visitors to every Williams’ property.
Before leaving the north let’s make a quick visit to Plas Glynllifon.
Someone sent me the picture below, which I’m afraid is not perfect, but still . . . it shows the small lake in the grounds of Plas Glynllifon with a sign reading ‘Beware of Sharks’ above a picture of Paul and Rowena Williams. I’m told that the hand behind the sign, reaching up, represents a creditor.
ANOTHER TRIP TO CORNWALL
On our previous visits to Cernyw we have concentrated on Polvellan House or Manor in West Looe, now we’re going to the community of Seaton, a couple of miles along the coast towards Plymouth.
Like a bundle of other properties this is owned by Leisure & Development Ltd, the company we’re told was sold on 1 February this year to Keith Harvey Partridge, though Paul Williams remains a director.
The property owned in Seaton is listed on this Land Registry title document as The Pavilion, though it’s now known as the Waves Bar. Confusingly, it is also known as The Courtyard according to this Charge from 2016 referring to the purchase by Leisure & Development. It’s definitely the same place because it has the same LR title number. So why three names?
Whatever it’s called Leisure & Development paid almost two million pounds for it on 1 February 2016, which sounds rather high. But if it follows the pattern we found elsewhere then Paul and/or Rowena Williams already owned the place and sold it to themselves at an inflated price in order to get the mortgage money.
Another mortgage or loan was taken out 10 May this year with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle, after the alleged sale to Partridge. Which might be taken as evidence of the sale.
Despite having sold the Courtyard/Pavilion/Waves Bar Rowena Williams still has a soft spot for the place, to judge by her Facebook page. Though little else is being posted nowadays.
But the reason we’re in Seaton is because someone assures me that the manager of the Waves Bar, Stuart Cooper, is this Stuart Paul Cooper.
If Cooper the Waves Bar manager is indeed the same man referred to in the article, then that gives us three convicted fraudsters doing business with Paul and Rowena Williams. There’s Keith Partridge, then there’s John Duggan, their accountant, who featured in the previous post, and now Stuart Cooper.
UPDATE: Soon after putting this piece up I was directed to information relating to the Waves Bar. This information tells us that Cooper threatens to burn down people’s houses with them inside. Paul Williams thinks Cooper is a splendid fellow and defended him to the hilt when Devon and Cornwall Police tried to close down the Waves Bar.
If you want insights into the character of Paul Williams, the kind of people he employs, the way he runs his businesses, and his contempt for all authority, then it’s all here. Just scroll down to the section on Waves Bar. It’ll take a while to read it all, but believe me, it’s worth it.
Where it’s hats off to Mid Wales Journal reporter Karen Compton. We seem to have finally found a journalist who isn’t content with being spoon-fed the Williams’ lies. By comparison, the Daily Post has churned out one puff after another that could have been – and probably were – dictated by Paul and Rowena Williams.
Congratulations to Ms Compton also for recognising that the ‘sale’ of the properties to Keith Partridge may be no more than a transfer of shares, just smoke and mirrors.
The Mid Wales Journal report states that the hotels owned by Paul and Rowena Williams – via Leisure & Development Ltd – were sold to “Keith Partridge of Coast 2 Coast Limited”.
Then there’s the Charge taken on against Leisure & Development Ltd, with shady lender Together Commercial Finance Ltd after the Partridge takeover, this is the Charge we looked at in connection with the Waves Bar in Seaton.
If this Charge explains how the purchase was funded then we are asked to believe that Partridge raised ten million pounds to buy these properties, at what must be crippling rates given his criminal record and the reputation of the lender . . . then he leaves a number of them empty!
As I’ve consistently suggested, the alleged sale of these properties to Keith Partridge was a subterfuge; done partly to take the heat off Paul and Rowena Williams, and partly to raise more money. Which explains why the Mid Wales Journal found it so difficult to contact any of them.
The Mid Wales Journal headline reads, ‘Assembly Acts Over Shut Hotels’, which I’m not sure is correct. What the report actually says is that the Assembly is looking into whether any public funding paid to the Knighton Hotel and the Radnorshire Arms Hotel can be recouped. Which to me looks a long way short of action.
We have since learnt from Kirsty Williams AM that under the Tourism Investment Support Scheme the Knighton Hotel received £254,200 and the Radnorshire Arms £170,000. This, remember, is just one funding stream, for it’s suggested that these two establishments received more than the figures just quoted.
What I find most disturbing in this aspect of the affair is the admission by the Minister responsible (a certain Dafydd Elis Thomas), ” . . . the applicant (Mr & Mrs Paul and Rowena Williams) failed to provide final post completion information despite numerous requests to do so”.
So Paul and Rowena Williams trousered £424,200, then refused to confirm that it had been spent properly, or at all; yet the ‘Welsh’ Government couldn’t be bothered to send a pith-helmeted expedition into darkest Powys to check. The conscientious civil servants handling our money just shrugged their shoulders and said, ‘Nah, sod it!’.
As I’ve mentioned, I have a FoI request with the ‘Welsh’ Government asking about grants to the Williams Gang and their properties. I got a reply asking me to stipulate which grants I was enquiring about, presumably in the hope I’d screw up and ask about grants for growing rape seed. But should I need to be so specific?
Are we to believe that there is no central reference for grant funding? That it’s impossible to type ‘Knighton Hotel’ or ‘Paul Steven Williams’ into a shared database and not be told how much grant funding they’ve received? There used to a website called Transparent Wales(?) that provided this information at the click of a mouse, what happened to it?
A PLACE IN THE SUN
We’ve already encountered Paul Williams’ sister Debra Yvonne Oswald, who seems to have jetted about the world a bit, and may occasionally be found in Goa. ‘Goa!’, you cry, ‘Goa!’. Yes indeedy, the former Portuguese colony, now a state of India, destination for hippies and all manner of interesting characters.
But Debs is no hippy, she’s a businesswoman, and she has a company in Goa, Pleasant Time Guest Houses Private Ltd. though it looks like another of those companies that’s never done anything. Formed in November 2007 it held its last AGM 30 September 2014 and is currently lined up for strike off.
The other directors are Debra’s husband, her (and Paul’s) parents, and a Peter d’Souza, probably a local lawyer.
Why would the Williams family want to start a company in a place notorious for being a gangsters’ paradise, where Nigerian, Russian and Israeli gangsters launder their money and do their deals? And with India being a country from which it’s notoriously difficult to extradite anyone to the UK.
TIME TO CLOSE THE TRAP
At the risk of repeating myself . . .
We have here a gang involved in some kind of financial crime. It could be mortgage fraud, it could be money laundering, it could be both. To which can be added a host of lesser offences, among them the non-payment of income tax and national insurance, or damaging a listed building . . .
A combination of sunshine, Argie red and digging into the antics of these crooks is making my brain boil. I’ve written over ten thousand words on these shysters – I need a break. So unless startlingly fresh information comes in I shall hold back on the Williams Gang until I write a more general update.
That said, there is now enough information in the public domain to justify action from the police, HMRC, the ‘Welsh’ Government, and a number of local authorities and other bodies.
I would suggest that this action be taken sooner rather than later. I say that because Paul and Rowena Williams must know the game is up, and so it would be reasonable to assume that they’re looking for a way out. They can’t go back, and there’s no way forward, so they’ve got to slip out through a side door.
They have enough money to go anywhere. So unless they’re pulled in pronto Paul Williams might soon be sunning himself on Calangute Beach in Goa, next to Sergei ‘Skullcrusher’ Ivanov, feared enforcer for the St Petersburg mob.