I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
I’m using this, another of my infrequent, pre-retirement postings, to put out a letter I sent to the Western Mail that that organ clearly has no intention of publishing. Probably because it’s critical of the Labour Party and Labour’s crony state in Wales.
Late last year it became known that social housing providers had been levying unlawful charges on certain tenants. A curious business in which the Senedd’s lawyers had to explain the law to ‘Welsh Government’ lawyers!
After being informed, the ‘Welsh Government’ hurriedly introduced backdated legislation, which of course covered the collective arse of Labour’s cronies in housing associations and the third sector.
Perhaps more importantly, the legislation avoided having to make refunds to the tenants. And all because somebody in Corruption Bay cocked-up. Given the way this country is run the person responsible will probably be promoted.
Last week, I wrote a letter to the Wasting Mule trying to explain the mess housing is in. Given the matters it addresses – and no matter what the Western Mail may think – I believe the contents of this letter merit an audience.
Here is that letter:
The remarkable case of the Senedd’s lawyers suggesting the Welsh Government’s lawyers have got it wrong over allowing landlords of rented properties to levy service charges brings into focus the status of Registered Social Landlords or housing associations.
For many years RSLs were classed as Provident and Industrial Societies, regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Most in Wales held housing stock that had been transferred from local authorities and received further funding from the Welsh Government to improve those properties and build new.
But in October 2015, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) dropped a bombshell by announcing that RSLs in England would be reclassified from Private Non-Financial Corporations to Public Non-Financial Corporations.
Further announcements were made relating to the devolved authorities.
Which meant that what had always been treated as public bodies would now officially become public bodies. And this threw up problems.
Not least that the debts of Registered Social Landlords would transfer to the UK public sector net debt.
To avoid this unwanted outcome RSLs were privatised. The legislation for Wales was passed in May 2018 and accepted by the ONS a month later.
This privatisation saw Welsh housing associations form subsidiaries, often unregistered and unregulated, which are now building private properties all over the country, many marketed as ‘affordable’ in an attempt to maintain the pretence of being social housing providers.
‘Affordability’ is determined by the price of other properties in the area. In Abersoch, for example, an ‘affordable’ property would be in the region of £330,000. Affordable to the Cheshire Set, maybe, but not to locals.
Privatisation and the rush into private housing means that most housing associations no longer have an interest in building affordable rented housing. This explains why an increasing number of local authorities have started building council houses again.
And yet, despite now being privatised, and being major players in the private housing market (at the expense of social housing), housing associations are still being funded by the Welsh Government.
With much of this funding reaching subsidiaries who use it to build the unaffordable ‘affordable’ housing. Justified by arguing that the profits from the private sales will go back to the parent RSL to build social housing!
Er, why can’t the parent RSL just keep ALL the money and build social housing?
From figures I’ve received from the Welsh Government, the total amount given to RSLs between 2010 and 2020 was in excess of £1.3bn, with the annual amounts increasing since they were privatised in 2018.
Clearly, the Welsh Government still regards housing associations as public bodies. This explains both the continued funding and the current attempt to legislate in favour of these officially privatised companies.
It also tells us that the housing sector is a shambles, and sorting it out should be a priority for the administration that comes in after May’s Senedd elections.
Which could start by clarifying the status of our housing associations, their rapidly multiplying subsidiaries, and the relationship of both with the Welsh Government.
Specific attention should be paid to Welsh Government funding given to RSLs being diverted to subsidiaries for open market housing.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
The title tells you what this week’s article is about. I’m going to look at how the picture has changed in the past few years.
THE BIG PICTURE
Obviously, there are different types of housing, from mansions like Jac o’ the North Towers to more modest owner-occupied properties; then we have social rent properties, and properties rented from private landlords.
So let’s start by looking at how types of tenure have changed over the past two decades. (The year up to March 31, 2001 is the earliest I can find on the StatsWales website.)
The table I’ve drawn up is fairly self-explanatory. ‘Registered Social Landlord’ (RSL) is of course the official term for housing associations.
The headline figure is that there are 163,067 more dwellings or housing units in 2020 than there were in 2001. Though in the same period the population rose from 2,910,232 to 3,152,879, while the average household size fell from 2.36 to 2.26.
In fact, if we multiply the total number of housing units by the average household size we arrive at a figure of 3,248,901.42. Almost a hundred thousand more than the population estimate. But of course calculations are complicated by people living in care homes, prisons and other institutions. And then there are holiday homes. And properties that have just been abandoned, where it’s often difficult to track the owner.
So, all things considered – and without taking my socks off to do some really serious figuring! – we have roughly the same availability of housing in relation to demand as we had twenty years ago. Maybe things are worse.
Something else we can extract from the table is that in 2001 19% of Welsh properties were social rents, whereas the figure today is just 16%.
But perhaps the biggest change has been the doubling in the percentage of properties now rented from private landlords.
If current trends continue then very soon more people, more families, will rent from private landlords than from councils and housing associations combined. This of course is what the Conservatives want, but why is it happening in ‘progressive’ Wales?
In 2001 we had 242,853 units of social housing. By 2020 this had fallen to 229,902, a decrease of 12,951. Found in this table.
Partly explained by 34,829 units being sold in this period under the Right to Buy legislation introduced in 1980 by the first Thatcher government, with this later supplemented by Right to Acquire.
Though offset by the building of 21,878 social rented housing units in the same period. Just over 1,000 a year.
Right to Acquire is Englandandwales legislation introduced by the Blair government and in operation from 18 January, 2005. Explained more fully here.
At this point I should tell you that not all sales of social housing are accounted for by Right to Buy and Right to Acquire because this table tells us there have also been sales of “non-social housing”. Though I don’t understand why the figure for this category is only shown from 2013 – 2014. Though there’s certainly been a steady increase since then.
Building just over one thousand social housing units a year must be considered a failure after two decades of socialist administrations in Cardiff Bay. Especially when we remember that in 1979 – 1980 (immediately before Right to Buy was introduced) Welsh local authorities built 3,322 new council homes. (RSLs built a further 377.)
And a thousand a year looks even less impressive when we remember that in the period of devolution a couple of billion pounds in capital grant funding has been given to an ever-expanding galaxy of housing associations.
In the past five years alone, £574 million pounds of Social Housing Grant (SHG) has been paid to housing associations. Wales & West, Labour’s favourite, has seen £61m of it.
We know that housing association executives like to pay themselves big salaries, and drive fancy company cars . . . shiny new offices are a must . . . and how can they miss out on all the conferences and other jollies, but these could never account for the increasing gulf between funding received and social housing built.
Something else must be going on.
If nothing else, Wales is following England in providing less social rented housing. So much for Rhodri Morgan’s, “clear red water”. So much for, “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”.
The Tories came to power in 2010, and that’s when the decline started. Clearly, the Labour management team in Corruption Bay is following Conservative directives when it comes to social rented housing.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
If we take the period 2014 – 2015 to 2019 – 2020 we see that it covers important changes in the way RSLs are regulated, and also how they operate.
I’m sure most people didn’t notice, but in the past five years Welsh housing associations were originally private bodies, were then made public, before being privatised again.
It was the Office for National Statistics that decided they should be public bodies due to the amount of public funding they were receiving. Plus the political involvement. But making them public bodies transferred their debts to the public ledger and so the parliaments in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff quickly privatised them again.
I bet you’re thinking . . . ‘If housing associations are now private companies, why are they still getting lashings of public funding?’ Funding that, as we’ve seen, has greatly increased since they were ‘re-privatised’!
The answer is that they’ve branched out into building private housing.
To such an extent that, in addition to the public funding, our housing associations are also taking out private loans with various financial institutions.
And other housing associations have done similar deals with organisations much sharper than them in the ways of the financial world. I do hope they’ve read the small print.
Though I suppose the only real collateral housing associations have is their housing stock. If they default, does this mean that Welsh social housing stock gets taken over by lenders? Or will the ‘Welsh Government’ step in with yet more money?
Talking of the ‘Welsh Government’, if RSLs need money for investment, why can’t they go to the Development Bank of Wales (DBW), which is already lending to other builders, many from over the border?
So let’s recap. Housing associations, now private bodies, still receive increasing amounts of public funding. Yet they also enter into arrangements with financial institutions around the world. And let’s not forget that the other major source of income – perhaps the major source – is rents from the housing stock they own. Most of which came free as stock transfers from local authorities.
Another noteworthy feature in this period is that most if not all of our housing associations have set up subsidiary companies, or companies that are not subsidiaries but still part of the group.
SUBSIDIARIES, PARTNERS, PRIVATE HOUSING
An example would be the relationship between Ateb (formerly Pembrokeshire Housing Association) and Mill Bay Homes Ltd (MBH). The latter, despite being a separate company, is a “wholly controlled subsidiary company of Ateb Group Ltd”.
The arrangement is that MBH builds and sells market properties and the profits go to parent company Ateb to build social housing or ‘affordable homes’. Which might be fine if Mill Bay Homes had its own money . . . but it hasn’t, it relies on loans from Ateb.
Which means that the ‘Welsh Government’ funds a RSL to build social housing but the money in fact goes to a subsidiary to build open market homes (that most locals may not be able to afford) with a fraction of the original money returning to the parent company.
Eighteen bloody million! How much does a relatively small, rural housing association need? It’s already getting money from the ‘Welsh Government’, and seems to have stopped providing social rented housing.
A visit to the Ateb Group website turns up what you see below. Quite clearly, Ateb is now a private house builder with social rented accommodation an afterthought.
Mill Bay Homes makes no secret of the fact that it’s punting for retirees and ‘investors’. The latter category will include Buy-to-Rent landlords, and whaddya know – one of the new Cilgerran properties is already being advertised for rent.
A similar arrangement to that between Ateb and Mill Bay Homes exists in Gwynedd between Adra (formerly Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd), which took over Gwynedd council’s housing stock some ten years ago, and its subsidiary, Medra Cyf.
This loan between a Welsh RSL and its subsidiary was arranged by London law firm Trowers & Hamlins. I’ve seen that name in other loans I’ve looked at. Are there no lawyers in Wales?
Of course there are, so who’s directing them to that company?
Also worth highlighting from recent years, in addition to the proliferation of subsidiaries, is the strange partnerships we see being forged.
For an example of this we stay in the north, with Cartrefi Conwy, based in Abergele.
I’ve written about this lot a few times. Below you’ll read what I had to say earlier this year, in Housing Associations, a broken model. The Byzantine network of ‘partners’ also throws up a mystery investor.
“Cartrefi Conwy set up a subsidiary in 2015 called Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company). Then, in May 2018, Creating Enterprise went into partnership with Brenig Developments Ltd to form Calon Homes. (Assets at 31 May 2019 £37,853.)
As I wrote back in November: “There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.”
Another horse out of the Brenig stable is Brenig Construction Ltd. Just another local building firm, run by local people . . . so impeccably local in fact that it could have come from League of Gentlemen.
But then, in December last year, a new director joined, a man who might have been taking his life in his hands if he’d turned up in the Royston Vasey shop.
I’m referring now to Yin Han, a Chinese businessman, presumably bringing a lot of yuan. For when I say Chinese businessman I do not mean that he hails from Hong Kong or Taiwan. Yin Han is a resident and citizen of the People’s Republic of China.
How did Yin Han and Brenig Construction find each other? What do we know about him? I guarantee he did not get involved with Brenig Construction without permission from back home. And that means the Communist Party.
These subsidiaries and partners, together with the loans and investment, are needed to build private housing for sale on the open market.
But housing associations are now private entities, so why do they need subsidiaries and partners to build open market housing? Surely they could do it in their own names?
Of course they could, but that would make it too obvious and probably jeopardise the public funding. So we have this charade of public money for social housing being given to RSLs and then filtered through intermediaries to build private housing.
And the ‘Welsh Government’ is a willing party to this deception.
As a student of history, I’ve always loved Palmerston’s quote: “Only three people have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business – the Prince Consort, who is dead – a German professor, who has gone mad – and I, who have forgotten all about it.”
It comes to mind when I see the term ‘affordable housing’. Because there’s a great deal of confusion as to what it means.
It’s important to get a definition because it’s what RSLs now claim to be building, and what the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ is funding.
When I contacted the ‘Welsh Government’ I was referred to a publication wherein was found . . .
“The concept of affordability is generally defined as the ability of households or potential households to purchase or rent property that satisfies the needs of the household without subsidy (further guidance is provided in the Local Housing Market Assessment Guide) 7 This could be based on an assessment of the ratio of household income or earnings to the price of property to buy or rent available in the open market in the required local housing market area.”
Which is interesting, and for two reasons.
If the concept of affordability is based on what local people on local wages can afford, then why is ‘affordable housing’ not reserved for those same local people? I ask because all the term means in practice is that a few properties in a development are labelled ‘affordable’ – but still put on the open market.
And if a small number of properties in a development are classed as ‘affordable’ then it must follow that the majority of the properties are regarded as unaffordable to most locals. So why are we building so many properties – with public funding! – beyond the reach of most local buyers?
The woolly term ‘affordable housing’ is just a fig leaf for the ‘Welsh Government’ and RSLs to disguise the fact that very little social housing is being delivered.
We are encouraged to believe that ‘affordable housing’ is for local people, or that it means social rented properties. Wrong.
This system, as I’ve argued before, is broken. It is broken because it consumes vast amounts of Welsh public funding for little or no Welsh public benefit.
Another cause for concern is that just as many third sector bodies are agencies of the Labour Party a similar picture emerges with housing associations.
In fact, housing associations and third sector bodies operate hand in glove, with the former housing the disruptive ‘clients’ of the latter, many of whom have been shipped into Wales. It’s collaboration like this that contributes to the problems we’ve looked at in Tyisha, Llanelli.
‘Welsh’ Labour’s little empire; stuffed with cronies and others dependent on political patronage and public handouts.
Take Wales & West, which I’ve referred to as Labour’s favourite. The CEO is Anne Hinchey, whose hubby Graham is a Labour Councillor in Cardiff. This explains why Wales & West has pulled down £100m in Social Housing Grant alone in the past decade.
And yet, let us remember that the reason the Office for National Statistics decided to put housing associations into the public sector was because there was so much governmental control!
As the June 2018 article from Inside Housing I reproduced above put it,
“In a letter to the Welsh Government sent yesterday, the ONS left open the possibility to reclassify individual associations as public should the level of state control increase.”
A strong case could be made for reclassifying a number of Welsh housing associations. Certainly Wales & West.
Where do we go from here?
I suggest that it starts with making it clear we do not want housing associations to build properties for sale to Home Counties retirees in Pembrokeshire, or to Manchester commuters in Denbighshire.
The sole duty of Welsh housing associations must be to deliver homes to Welsh people at sales prices or rents WE can afford.
If they are unable or unwilling to fulfil that role then I believe we should let our local councils provide social rented housing. Ensure they are well enough funded to provide decent accommodation to any and all local people wanting it. And make strong local connections the over-riding consideration in allocating those properties.
Then cut all funding to housing associations, which are, after all, private companies. Let them borrow from private lenders – as they are already doing – and cease being a burden on the public purse.
Whatever is decided, the present system is broken. Changes must be made. Even if you think this doesn’t affect you, just think what we could do with the money saved!
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
We are confronted by a paradox. The stock of housing in Wales is growing, yet less and less of it is accessible to Welsh people.
What I’m describing is a bizarre housing system that works against the native population while promoting the interests of strangers. A system too complex and too consistent in its outcomes to be attributed to incompetence or happenstance.
Once the bigger problem is deconstructed and its component parts exposed, then remedies present themselves. All that’s needed then is the political will to implement those remedies.
In this article I shall explain a problem and then make one or more suggestions for tackling it. I’m sure many of you reading this will have your own ideas – so let’s hear them.
PRICES, TOO HIGH AND TOO LOW
When dealing with house prices we find problems at both ends of the scale. On the one hand, houses are being built in many areas that most locals can’t afford – but that’s OK because they’re not intended for us.
Take Newport, Pembrokeshire, a ‘holiday hotspot’. Locals are being squeezed out of the local housing market and this shortfall is then used to justify building new housing . . . that is also beyond the reach of locals!
Those who profit from trading in undesirables – with the full support and financial backing of the ‘Welsh Government’ – were initially attracted to Ty Isha by low house prices, and they have succeeded in driving property values down even more!
Some of those interviewed in the report are now trapped in houses they have lived in all their married lives but can only sell at a price below what a house such as theirs would fetch in a normal neighbourhood.
Yet in a system that prioritised Welsh needs the small terraced houses of Ty Isha would make ideal starter homes for young people.
SUGGESTIONS: In the case of Newport, Pembs and countless other such developments, the answer is that we simply do not allow the building of new properties that locals either do not wish to buy or cannot afford to buy.
I’ll explain later how we could both achieve this and forecast local need.
To argue that allowing such properties takes the pressure of the existing stock, thereby making many such properties available for local buyers, is absolute bollocks. The numbers wanting to relocate to Wales is limitless, and the demand for holiday homes insatiable.
As for Ty Isha, funding should be withdrawn from any third sector body importing problems from outside of Wales to any part of Wales. The same should apply to housing associations.
I shall also offer suggestions for achieving these objectives.
Those whose properties have been devalued, and their lives affected by the riff-raff dumped around them, should be compensated by the ‘Welsh Government’.
THE NUMBERS GAME
Let’s now focus on the problem of houses being built in numbers greatly in excess of what Wales needs. And, again, at prices most of us can’t afford. This is particularly noticeable in the eastern parts of the country as English commuters look west for cheaper housing and nicer scenery.
Black-spots are along the A55 in the north and the M4 in the south and, since the removal of tolls on the Severn Bridge, increasingly evident in southern Gwent, including the city of Newport. An example would be the 900 dwellings of the ‘urban village’ planned for Mamhilad, north of Pontypool, towards Abergavenny, but close enough to the M4 for Bristol commuters.
Building in Wales to meet a demand from England has also become noticeable around Wrexham in recent years. It begins with the ‘Welsh Government’ producing absurd population projections to justify building an excessive number of new houses.
Then, when the projections are shown to be exaggerated, the Planning Inspectorate insists on sticking with the original number of new houses. This article explains it well.
I looked into this problem back as March 2014 in a piece I wrote about Denbighshire. The council said, “Look, the latest projections suggest a smaller population increase, so we don’t need to build so many new houses”.
The Planning Inspectorate’s response was, “Yes, you’re right about the population projections . . . but we insist on sticking with the original number of new dwellings”.
A response like that sort of gives the game away, doesn’t it?
Back in 2011 the ‘Welsh Government’ was insisting that the population of Wrexham would increase by 20% in the near future, then the projected increase reduced to 10%, and the latest calculation is that the borough’s population will actually fall by 1.5% by 2028! Yet the number of houses ‘needed’ must remain the same as when an increase of 20% was forecast.
As the map above makes clear, the planned developments are all to the north or the east of the town, in other words, convenient for Cheshire. Or rather, convenient for those who aren’t wanted in Cheshire, in order to preserve property values in Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and the other communities of the ‘Golden Triangle’.
What has clearly been happening is that the ‘Welsh Government’ (or others acting in its name) has been producing what it knew to be inflated, contrived, population projections. Done to justify building excessive numbers of new dwellings.
When the population projections were exposed as bogus, and revised downwards, the Planning Inspectorate stuck with the discredited figures in order to push on with building what were now clearly excessive numbers of new houses.
And by so doing the Planning Inspectorate exposed a dishonest system.
SUGGESTIONS: To begin with, calculations to determine how many new homes an area needs must be based on what the people of the area need, not on how many properties developers think they can sell. In fact, I can’t think of any good reason why developers need to be involved in assessing demand.
The Wrecsam area being used to take pressure off Cheshire is part of the wider integration strategy of the Mersey Dee Alliance. A giveaway is estate agents referring to the area as ‘West Cheshire’.
The Planning Inspectorate does not serve Welsh interests, it never has. It must be replaced with a new Welsh body free from political interference and divorced from commercial interests.
Why can’t we have a register of those who think they’ll be looking to buy a new home within an area; something similar to the waiting list for social housing. Once people grasp that contributing to such a database will make it more likely they’ll find the home they need then the more likely they’ll be to participate.
A perennial issue in Wales and the Covid lockdown has highlighted the problem. First, it was people sneaking to their holiday homes for lockdown rather than staying at their usual residence, while more recently it’s been the increased demand for holiday homes.
The latest figures for Gwynedd suggest that 40% of the properties being sold in the county are now bought for use as holiday homes. Take the towns out of the calculation and it’s reasonable to assume that a majority of the properties in villages and in the countryside are being sold as holiday homes.
Gwynedd council is run by Plaid Cymru but it has only imposed a 50% surcharge on holiday homes. Yet another example of Plaid Cymru wringing its hands, “Oooh, isn’t it awful, something should be done”, yet when a roar of defiance was needed Plaid Cymru could only whimper.
This is Plaid Cymru terrified of being called ‘anti-English’. That mauling Glenys Kinnock handed out to Ieuan Wyn Jones on Question Time in February 2001 has left a deep and painful scar.
Compare Gwynedd to Swansea, where the Labour-controlled council has imposed a 100% surcharge, (which also applies to properties left empty for a long period). And in case you think this is only a gesture because the city has few holiday homes, there are many hundreds in the waterfront area, and of course, on Gower.
All the arguments used in defence of holiday homes are self-serving bullshit. “Nobody else wanted the place” . . . “But we put so much money into the local economy!” . . . “An essential part of the tourism industry”, etc, etc.
SUGGESTIONS: One simple change in the law would go a long way to easing the misery of holiday homes.
Legislation stating that only 10% of properties in any electoral ward can be registered as holiday homes, with the figure reducing to 5% in 2030 would have a number of immediate effects.
First, in wards where more than 10% of properties are currently registered as holiday homes such legislation would immediately curtail future demand. Knowledge of the change in 2030 would remove the threat of further properties being bought as holiday homes.
Resulting in more properties, at reduced prices, becoming available for locals.
Severe penalties must be imposed for using a property as a holiday home when it is not registered for that use. And the loophole allowing holiday homes to escape council tax by registering as a business must be closed.
To further reduce the demand for holiday homes and increase their contribution to the local community council tax should be charged at a rate of 200%.
Some may think that a 5% figure is too low, others that it’s unduly generous. My belief is that no area of Wales should suffer more than 5% of its housing stock being used by strangers flaunting their greater wealth.
RETIRING TO WALES
An often overlooked factor in inflating house prices is retired and elderly people moving to Wales. The negatives increase when we remember that the older a person is the more likely they are to need medical care of some kind. This is a universal truth.
Which means that this influx will obviously impact on our NHS and other services.
In fact, it’s difficult to think of any benefit Wales derives from people in the older age brackets moving in. But that doesn’t stop some from trying.
Some three years ago I wrote to the ‘Welsh Government’ with a few questions on this subject. What I received by way of an answer contained a paragraph that has caused either mirth, or head shaking, whenever people read it. (For the full letter, click here.)
On a planet where all other countries view an ageing population as a ‘ticking time-bomb’ Wales alone sees the takeover by alien wrinklies as something positive. Or rather, the ‘Welsh Government’ wants us to believe it does.
This is the sort of nonsense that officialdom spouts when it’s cornered. I say that because while the letter I received makes highfalutin’ references to “liberty of movement” the truth is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has enacted legislation that encourages retired and elderly people to move to Wales.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine that Welsh people going into care can hold on to £50,000, I might benefit from such a provision myself one day. But it also encourages into Wales people who have spent their working lives elsewhere. And the cost of looking after these elderly goes into the debit column of our national accounts and is used to prove that Wales is a financial basket-case.
I see a boy at the back with his hand up, “How big is the problem, Sir?”
Here’s a table I compiled using data from the 2011 Census. You’ll see that in some local authority areas only a minority of the population in the 65+ age bracket was born in Wales.
With the problem not confined to the north, just look at Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. There’s a definite correlation between tourism and the numbers of retired and elderly people moving to an area.
Though Flintshire would appear to buck the trend in that it is not a tourism hotspot, but even so, half of the over 65s were born in England. While this can be partly explained by maternity services being located in Chester I can also suggest another explanation.
Let’s say you’re a likely lad living on the Wirral. Aunt Mabel is going to leave you her money, a nice round figure of £100,000. If she goes into a local care home you might only see £23,350, but take her to Mold or Connah’s Quay and you’re guaranteed at least £50,000. More if you can get the local authority to cough up.
And, anyway, is the old girl going to know where she is!
Finally, let’s not forget the political dimension to this phenomenon. It has been proven time after time that the older an English voter is the more likely that person is to be royalist, patriotically British, pro-Brexit, conservative and Conservative.
From a Welsh perspective, encouraging retired and elderly English people into Wales is both an economic and a political disaster. But it benefits England for the same reasons.
SUGGESTIONS: There’s no need to deny Welsh people the £50,000 limit, but insist on 20 years residency in Wales before anyone qualifies.
And let’s stop building retirement bungalows and flats to be advertised over the border. Many of those who move to such properties may be fit and active when they arrive, but Father Time will soon do his work.
Only a country run by idiots drives out its own young people and replaces them with another country’s elderly.
At one time it was so simple – local authorities built and rented council houses. You put your name down on the list and you waited your turn. Obviously there was favouritism shown in certain allocations, but by and large the system worked to the benefit of Welsh communities.
Then came the housing associations and the transfer of council housing stock.
There’s a general and touching misconception that Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), more commonly known as housing associations, have simply replaced councils, and that social housing is universally available for those who cannot afford to buy a home but would rather not rent from a private landlord.
That was the intention, and that may have been how it started under the new system, but things got much more complicated as years went by. Much more complicated.
There are a number of fundamental problems with the way RSLs now operate.
1/ To begin with, social housing in Wales is locked into an Englandandwales system. This was explained to me in December 2010 in a response I received from Nick Bennett, who was then CEO of Community Housing Cymru, the umbrella organisation for housing associations.
He wrote, “There are over 2 million people on waiting lists for social housing”. This figure cannot be for Wales alone, and yet it was provided by the head of the body supposedly responsible for social housing in Wales. And only in Wales.
Bennett emerged a couple of decades ago from under a lily pad in Cardiff Bay as a fully-formed Spad, before becoming a business partner of Labour’s Alun Davies. He then served as CEO at Community Housing Cymru from 2006 to 2014, and since leaving CHC he has guarded the posterior regions of our politicians and civil servants as the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
Corruption Bay in mortal form.
Who gets a vacant house may be decided by a third sector body, in contact with a sister body in England, which has ‘recommended’ Chardonnay and her six semi-feral children; the little darlings having been chased out of their last home by neighbours fed up with the thieving and the vandalism.
They get priority treatment, “Cos they is homeless, innit. Little kiddies, look”.
It was never explained why this was done. And no politicians asked . . . because they didn’t want to know. ‘Priority cases’ are still being dumped in Wales, every day.
2/ A more recent problem with housing associations – and there are dozens of them, competing with each other – is that they are now privatised, but still in receipt of public funding.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, nearly all of them have subsidiaries, or private companies that are not subsidiaries but still members of the group. And then there are the partners.
This diversification has led to the mis-use of public funding, an almost complete lack of monitoring and accountability, and RSL group members building private housing for open market sale. Sold to retirees (officially ‘downsizers’), buy-to-rent landlords (officially ‘investors’), and even as holiday homes. While also selling shares in leasehold properties, with the agreements poorly explained and many duped into thinking they’re buying a freehold property.
This, remember, is the hated leasehold system that the ‘Welsh Government’ elsewhere opposes. Yet it is funding RSLs who then slip money under the table to subsidiaries, or partners, to con people into buying a share in a leasehold property.
What a system! What a ‘government’! What a country!
SUGGESTIONS: The bottom line is that what Wales needs is social landlords renting decent housing to Welsh tenants. Nothing more.
We don’t need subsidiaries of RSLs using diverted public funding to build and sell buy-to-rents in Pembrokeshire. Nor do we want convoluted arrangements using Chinese money to build more retirement bungalows and flats on the north coast.
Housing associations are past their sell-by date. A root-and-branch reform of the social housing system is needed. Wales must leave behind the mess created by ‘diversification’ and adopt a system closer to the original council housing model.
One big question will be what happens to the housing stock currently held by RSLs. Seeing as almost all of it was either built by local authorities, or built since stock transfer with money from the ‘Welsh Government’, a strong case could be made to bring it back into public ownership.
This twilight zone of private bodies living off the public purse while also taking out commercial loans with banks and behaving like private developers must end.
In the meantime, to avoid the dumping of undesirables, no one should be allocated a social tenancy by a RSL unless that person has been resident in Wales for at least 10 years.
We have a housing sector in Wales that has for years been steadily divorcing itself from the needs of our people. The situation has worsened under devolution.
There is clearly a strategy to settle in Wales as many people as possible who are loyal to the UK or England, in order to ‘secure’ Wales. We can expect this assault on Welsh identity to intensify with Scotland looking more and more likely to choose independence in the next few years.
There is one final weapon in the armoury that can be employed to stem the tide of colonisation. That is the Land Transaction Tax (LTT). It replaced Stamp Duty and it’s already in operation.
Below is a table I’ve compiled showing the current LTT rates with higher rates I’m suggesting as a way to curb the invasion. ‘Existing main residence’ is self-explanatory. Holiday homes are covered by ‘Existing higher residential’.
My suggestions are at the bottom, in yellow. What I’m proposing is higher rates all round for those not already living in Wales. Exceptions could be made for key workers, investors and others deemed necessary for the national good.
I am also suggesting that LTT kicks in lower down the price scale, and there’s a good reason for this. In the Valleys, post-industrial towns, even parts of Swansea, properties sell at prices buyers from prosperous areas of England find irresistible. Many are being bought for the wrong reasons.
Just think back to Ty Isha, Llanelli.
What’s more, most properties bought by retirees will be below the £250,000 threshold, so why should they be free of LTT?
I suppose one response to everything I’ve written will be, “It all depends on the political will”, and clearly that political will is absent. For the following reasons.
Civil servants of the ‘Wales would be better without the Welsh’ mindset ‘advising’ – some shagging! – ‘Welsh Government’ ministers.
A zealously Unionist Labour Party containing too many politicians who can dismiss concern for Welsh identity as ‘ugly and narrow-minded nationalism’. And then of course they have their third sector and housing association cronies to think about.
A Conservative Party (plus a rag-bag of BritNats) who will never object to English people moving to Wales, or the votes they bring. “All British . . . free to move anywhere . . . God Save the Queen.”
A so-called ‘national party’, Plaid Cymru, scared witless of being called anti-English by the anti-Welsh. And anyway, national survival is nowhere near as important as trans rights, BLM, refugees, getting Trump out of the White House . . .
You’ve read that 40% of the properties now sold in Gwynedd are to be used as holiday homes. I’ll bet that another 40% are bought by people moving from England into Gwynedd permanently. And it’s the same in other rural areas.
Thanks to the refusal of successive ‘governments’ in Corruption Bay to build a rural economy, the forced reliance on ‘shit anywhere’ tourism, the neglect of everywhere other than Cardiff . . . Wales, thanks to the ‘progressive’ parties’ refusal to confront the assimilation agenda, is approaching the point of no return.
To refuse to challenge the assimilation agenda is to accept it.
For a few weeks I’ve been promising you more news. Finally – here it is!
WALES AND WEST, CARDIGAN HOSPITAL, MID WALES HOUSING
A speciality of Wales & West is importing criminals, drug addicts and other undesirables. But it’s good business, for local authorities and other agencies over the border will pay well to dump people in Wales.
Of course, it’s not so good for small towns that have to host these people. Lampeter being one that Wales & West has damaged in recent years. For as I was recently told, “Wales and West do not operate local allocation policies”.
And all this has been facilitated with funding from the Welsh public purse. For we pay for Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to import riff-raff and build luxury flats for sale to English retirees.
This public money will invariably be ‘filtered’ through the parent company – which will be a Registered Social Landlord – to a subsidiary, which may or may not be registered as a RSL. And in some cases, not obviously linked to a RSL.
Enfys Developments was founded in 2012 and seems to be the main vehicle for W&W’s new builds. While Castell Homes was formed as recently as January 2018, almost certainly in anticipation of the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018, which effectively privatised RSLs in response to the Office for National Statistics’ threat to reclassify them as public bodies.
As we read below, Castell Homes is, effectively, a private builder, promising to pass on its profits to the parent company for Wales & West to build social housing. It’s up to you whether you believe that.
There are a few other things worth picking out of the clip below from the only accounts thus far filed for Castell Homes.
For example, we read that Castell Homes “was established with the purpose of building and selling homes in communities where a housing need is identified”. The operative word should be ‘demand’, not ‘need’. For this will be private housing, often beyond the financial reach of most locals.
We also read that “Castell Homes has its own board of directors”. Yes and no. Yes, there is a board of directors, but it’s the senior management team of Wales & West. Any pretence that Castell is independent of W&W would be just that, a pretence.
As ‘Dai’ mentions in his contribution, Wales & West is in negotiations with Hywel Dda University Health Board to buy the old Cardigan Hospital site. Though locals are puzzled as to why, if W&W doesn’t own the site, it’s been behaving for months as if it does.
The answer is of course that the deal was done long ago by the Labour Party behind closed doors, looking after its favourite housing association, yet again. Wales & West CEO is Anne Hinchey, wife of Cardiff Labour councillor Graham Hinchey. Mrs Hinchey previously worked for Cardiff Council.
Though I should also mention Keith Davies, housing strategy officer at Ceredigion council, a big friend of Wales & West who has appeared on this blog before. Keith was also very keen for Wales & West to take over the old hospital.
The open day held on February 29 was very well-attended and reported in the Tivy-side Advertiser. Curiously, this imparter of local news saw no contradiction in using ‘community has its say’ in the headline . . . and then quoting only spokespersons for Wales & West!
As I keep saying, Wales & West is very well connected in Corruption Bay and all sorts of deals are being lined up. Among them perhaps the takeover of Mid Wales Housing, and this despite MWH having been in merger talks with Tai Ceredigion for some time. And now might be the ideal time.
For not only has MWH hit a rocky patch in the regulatory sense, having been downgraded on grounds of poor governance and financial management, but other factors are also contributing to a general picture of incompetence and decline.
For a start, Mid Wales paid over the odds for its repair contractor EOM Ltd and turned it from a profit-making SME into a loss-making subsidiary. MWH has also failed to deliver the Cylch Caron extra care facility in Tregaron for the county council, increasing pressure on the council leader following the closure of the Bodlondeb home in Aberystwyth.
And then chief executive Shane Perkins recently stepped down (though he’d been off sick since September). To those who may be wondering, I can tell you he’s not one of the Pembrokeshire Perkins, but comes from Bournemouth, to which he and his good lady wife have now returned.
Filling in until a new CEO is appointed is Charles Brotherton . . . despite being the genius behind the EOM fiasco. Charles joined MWH in 2010 from an English housing association. Chairman of Mid Wales Housing, and Lloyds ‘name’, is Peter Swanson, who is also a “Past chair of Dyfed Powys Health Authority. A Justice of the Peace. Past Chair of Dyfed Powys Health Authority and former Chair of Powys County Council Standards Committee. Private landlord.”
Swanson is an old-fashioned quango man of the type devolution is supposed to have made extinct. But they’re still roaming the land. And thriving. Especially in areas where the Labour Party is weak in terms of local support and prefers to appoint such people rather than give power to non-Labour locals.
This is truly one of the more bizarre manifestations of patronage in the age of devolution.
This is Englandandwales, folks. The only way out of this nightmare is independence.
To conclude, let me hypothesise that these multiple cock-ups at Mid Wales Housing are being allowed in order to justify someone in Corruption Bay deciding – as was done with Tai Cantref – that something must be done, and that ‘something’ means calling in ‘Welsh’ Labour’s elite troops in the form of Wales and West Housing.
CARTREFI CONWY, ASSOCIATES, CHINESE INVESTORS
But you mustn’t think that such machinations are confined to the southern parts of our benighted land. Because the story from the north that I’m about to relate is even more bizarre. Though you won’t be surprised to learn that it also involves Wales & West.
It only begins to look odd when we start joining up the dots.
You’ll see in the news report that the company wanting to build these new houses is Calon Homes LLP. That is, Limited Liability Partnership, an opaque structure of a kind that would not be allowed in many countries. Now it looks as if even BoJo’s government is looking to clean things up a bit.
I particularly liked, “Legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2020 with retrospective and future effect to underline that LLPs are expected to follow the rules”. And about bloody time too!
Calon Homes appeared in an article I wrote in November, when I looked at Cartrefi Conwy Cyf. (I urge you to read it.) But to cut a long story short . . . Cartrefi Conwy set up a subsidiary in 2015 called Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company). Then, in May 2018, Creating Enterprise went into partnership with Brenig Developments Ltd to form Calon Homes. (Assets at 31 May 2019 £37,853.)
As I wrote back in November: “There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.”
I don’t know if Mark Parry is related to Peter John Parry, the chairman of Creating Enterprise CIC, the Cartrefi Conwy subsidiary, it doesn’t really matter.
Peter John Parry seems to have joined Creating Enterprise CIC 31 August 2017. By which time his personal business career was already on the rocks, with a string of dissolved companies in 2017 and 2018. (Listed here.)
Calon Homes, jointly owned by Creating Enterprise CIC/Cartrefi Conwy Cyf and Brenig Developments Ltd, was Incorporated 12 May 2018. But just a month earlier Companies House registered Calon Developments Ltd. Among the directors at Calon Developments we see Mark Parry and Howard Vaughan, of the Brenig companies, and also Andrew Bowden, CEO of Cartrefi Conwy!
It is very unusual for the head honcho of a housing association to go into partnership with a private builder directly. The realisation that this don’t look good might explain why those involved with Calon Developments Ltd now want voluntary strike-off.
As if I haven’t introduced enough subsidiaries and partnerships and companies, I’m now going to introduce another. We’ve had Brenig Developments Ltd and Brenig Homes Ltd, but there’s a third company in the stable, and it’s Brenig Construction Ltd.
The latest (unaudited and abridged) accounts available – y/e 31 October 2018 – tell us that Brenig Construction had assets of £206,806. When we turn to the directors, we find, as expected, Parry and Vaughan . . . but also Yin Han, a citizen and resident of the People’s Republic of China. He joined the company 12 December 2019.
I’m sure that, like me, you’re wondering why a Chinese citizen would join a relatively small building firm in Denbighshire.
Perhaps because Parry and Vaughan have friends in high places within the Cartrefi Conwy group. Which might explain this report from last November that tells that “From a standing start in 2012, Brenig now employs 70 people directly and is turning over £11 million a year, with £21 million of work already secured in future contracts.”
Though I’m having difficulty reconciling the claimed turnover with the figures available at Companies House for the three Brenig companies. Brenig Developments is filing as a dormant company and the other two don’t seem to be challenging Wimpey and Redrow.
But as I’ve found so often, when dealing with interlinked companies and bodies of often obscure construction, figuring out who does what, and where the money comes from, and where it goes, is often very difficult. Which is what makes such arrangements attractive for some.
But it seems we can identify one source of future income for Parry and Vaughan, and that’s our old friends Wales & West! The report comes complete with another pic of the smiling lads in hi viz jackets. With every reason to smile.
If you sense fatigue creeping up due to the number of different companies I’ve already mentioned, I can only urge you to bear with me while I list a few more, because Mark Parry has been a busy boy.
Back in 2010 he and his mate Vaughan formed H & M Construction Solutions Ltd. But this outfit appeared to crash on take-off, because there is nothing filed with Companies House and this is all I can find.
Next up is Tai Beech Ltd, Incorporated 26 April 2013 and compulsorily struck off in November 2018. Parry and Vaughan were there at the start and saw it through.
Then – something of a departure this – there was Applejack Diners Ltd. Formed 28 November 2013 this company went belly-up 7 December 2016.
One Parry-Vaughan company still with us is Seel Plant Hire Ltd, Incorporated 5 August 2014. But as with the others we’ve looked at, the ‘Micro-entity accounts’ available for Seel Plant Hire do not suggest a company taking the world by storm. Perhaps the gentlest of zephyrs.
And yet, Parry and Vaughan are pulling in big contracts, and Chinese investors. What does it all mean?
Possibly, with CEO Andrew Bowden looking to retire, and Wales & West getting in on the act, Cartrefi Conwy may be the next to be swallowed up by ‘Welsh’ Labour’s favourite housing association.
WEAPONS GRADE BOLLOCKS
What we have been looking at here is a dysfunctional system
I say that because most people still believe that housing associations provide good rented accommodation for people who either can’t afford to buy or just prefer to rent. They do, but they are building very few new units of social rented housing, basing their claim to being social landlords on the stock most of them inherited from local authorities.
And yet the pretence is maintained. Perhaps to ensure that they continue receiving public funding from the ‘Welsh Government’.
To help disguise their true business, our housing associations launch subsidiaries and go into partnership with private companies. In many cases to build housing not for any local demand but for pure profit. That is certainly what Wales & West and Cartrefi Conwy are planning along the A55.
Is this really how housing associations are supposed to operate? Is this how we want them to operate?
Andrew Bowden, CEO of Cartrefi Conwy, said recently: “As a group, Cartrefi Conwy are looking to diversify to generate new income streams to further our affordable housing programme.
“Until now, we’ve always been reliant on just rental income but, with the advent of austerity and things like Universal Credit, we had to think outside the box.
“Calon Homes will be building houses for market sale and we will be using our share of the profit for the benefit of local people to create more affordable housing.”
But why not use all the money to build affordable housing, rather than the much smaller amount that comes in the form of profit from open market housing? Though come to that, ‘affordable housing’ is yet another misnomer. It means open market housing, and I’ve seen houses costing £250,000 classed as ‘affordable’.
As for ‘new income streams’, Peter John Parry of Creating Enterprise CIC, has a background in running homes for very disturbed and often dangerous patients. This was one of his establishments. Will he be bringing clients down the A55, to add to the burden on the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, already in special measures? And the police workload?
For RSLs to defend themselves by saying that the open market housing is being built by subsidiaries – wholly-owned subsidiaries! – or partners, is unacceptable.
The system is out of control. It is operating against the Welsh national interest. The time has come to de-register most RSLs because they are private companies building open market housing and managing rented stock that in most cases was built by someone else. Restrict the ‘RSL’ label to groups and bodies building social rented housing for local people. Because that’s what ‘housing association’ is supposed to mean. And it’s what it should mean.
Another clue telling us that the current system is broken is that local authorities have started building council housing again. Swansea and Cardiff are two examples.
Let me end on a lighter note . . . or maybe this will send you over the edge. Last Friday Community Housing Cymru – the umbrella body for RSLs – brought out a report claiming that its members, building 75,000 ‘affordable’ homes (that word again!) will put £23.2bn into the Welsh economy and create 50,000 jobs.
This is ‘think of a number, double it . . . ‘ economics. I’m surprised they didn’t also claim to have found a cure for Covid-19.
And because it was the purest and most unadulterated bullshit it was sad to see Martin Shipton at Llais y Sais write it up as if it was Gospel.
I’m now now wondering for which fiction award I should enter this gem. Because it’s certainly not meant to be taken seriously.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
A bit of a mixed bag this week; the unifying thread being the stupidity of those puffed-up buffoons down Cardiff docks who want to be seen as the ‘Welsh Government’.
SOCIAL HOUSING, OR IS IT?
To kick off, I am indebted to the meticulous and conscientious Wynne Jones, who is a great source for ‘Welsh Government’ wrongdoing and local cock-ups down Cardigan way. For it’s in the fair town of Aberteifi that we start.
With Cardigan Hospital, which was built and long sustained by the donations and goodwill of people in the town and surrounding area. But now it’s deemed surplus to the requirements of Hywel Dda University Health Board and the building is to be handed over to one of Labour’s favourite housing associations, Wales and West.
Though the lack of openness has not gone down well locally. The sale to Wales and West seems to be a done deal, yet the details are vague in the extreme. When Wynne asked for information on the quoted ‘open market valuation’ the response to his FoI said that it, er, hadn’t actually been done . . . but they were working on it, sort of.
Clearly, this is a deal done behind closed doors in the glorious traditions of the Labour Party. And not for the first time; for since taking over Tai Cantref, of Castell Newydd Emlyn, Wales and West has been flexing its muscles in the area.
And while it may be headquartered in Cardiff Wales and West, fittingly, also has an office in Labour’s last remaining Westminster constituency in the north, at Ewloe on Deeside.
The latest news is that a drop-in session has been organised for the end of this month in which, according to the Tivy-side Advertiser, “The people of Cardigan will be asked for their views on how best to use the site of the former Cardigan Hospital”.
According to the article W&W is still in talks with Hywel Dda Health Authority over buying the hospital. So if it still owns the hospital why isn’t Hywel Dda organising the public consultation?
All pretence goes out the window later in the article when Wales and West bigwigs explain what they plan to do . . . with the building they haven’t yet bought!
All joking aside, social housing is now in crisis.
Many will recall the campaigns persuading council house tenants to agree to stock transfers, so that housing associations could take over. Most Welsh councils lost their housing stock in this way to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).
Which gave us dozens of housing associations, spending hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, competing with each other, and swallowing each other up. Having the ear of the Labour Party in this dog-eat-dog environment was always an advantage.
This was bad news all round. For it would have meant that RSLs’ debts would have gone onto the UK Government’s books. Putting them in the public sector might also have resulted in more openness, perhaps making housing associations subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Which resulted in RSLs becoming private bodies, but still in receipt of public funding! If they hadn’t already done so then they set up subsidiaries – unregulated offshoots building homes for sale on the open market, often using public money siphoned from the parent company.
The justification for building houses and flats to be sold in this way was that the money made would be transferred to the parent body for it to build more social housing.
It was a lie.
Just think about. If Tai Cwmscwt has a spare £5m why ‘lend’ it to a subsidiary and get back a percentage when it could have spent the whole £5m on social housing. And if there’s no demand for social housing then obviously Tai Cwmscwt is over-funded.
The truth is that very little of the money made by the subsidiaries of privatised RSLs is used to build social housing. Most of it goes back into building more private housing. In rural and coastal areas this housing isn’t even intended to meet a Welsh demand. It’s simple profiteering, building properties to be used as holiday and retirement homes, or sold to ‘investors’.
All of which results in a shortfall in social housing in many areas. Which is why Swansea council has started building council houses again. In the article I’ve linked to you’ll see that “four registered social housing landlords are planning to build 4,000 affordable homes across the county over the next 10 years”.
This is another lie.
‘Affordable’ is a meaningless term used by politicians and others that can cover properties costing £300,000. And as I’ve explained, the now privatised RSLs will be building open market housing not social housing.
We are obviously at a crossroads in the provision of social housing, by which I mean properties available for local people at rents they can afford.
The biggest asset for many private housing associations, the income from which helps fund the private building spree, is the stock of housing that was transferred from a local authority. (Or in the case of Mid Wales Housing, the Development Board for Rural Wales.)
Should these stock transfers stay with what are now private companies?
Let’s end with a few questions:
What is the future role of the now privatised RSLs?
Will the ‘Welsh Government’ continue to fund private RSLs?
With RSLs concentrating on private developments how does the ‘Welsh Government’ plan to provide an adequate supply of good quality rented social housing at affordable rents?
If the rented social housing role is to revert to local authorities, will the ‘Welsh Government’ arrange to return the housing stock lost in stock transfers?
OLD DEFENSIBLE BARRACKS REVISITED
The week before last I published a couple of pieces looking at the purchase of the Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock, which I believe links to similar sites in England and Northern Ireland that have been bought by the same Singapore-based investors.
My view is that the three sites – all close to ferry ports – have been bought in anticipation of the need, with increased border checks, for large areas where lorries and other vehicles can be parked while waiting for those checks to be done.
Since writing the second of those pieces I’ve updated it, and further information has come to light, hence this third piece.
First, after Old Defensible Barracks 2 went out 5 February the Western Mail ran a full-page spread on the 11th. (Here in pdf format.)
Obviously this article was a press hand-out because when the journalist tried to add a personal touch she located the barracks in Milford Haven not Pembroke Dock.
Since writing those pieces I’ve spoken to one of the previous owners, who had an interesting tale to tell.
The barracks went up for auction last summer with Allsop. A few parties showed interest but no sale resulted. Instead, Allsop themselves produced a mystery buyer. Which perhaps explains the ‘Sold after’ caption you see below.
The vendor had no idea who the buyer was, but the sale went through 22 August and the money was in the bank. You’ll recall that despite the passage of six months since the sale the title document at the Land Registry still showed the previous owners.
Why this reluctance to tell us who now owns this property?
As I’ve said, the theory that I and a few others have, is that the barracks themselves are simply a ‘lever’ to something else, probably land nearby that could serve as a lorry park. But then, last week, another possibility was thrown into the mix – that the Milford Haven Waterway is destined to host one of the promised freeports.
Either option makes sense, and ties in with the Singapore investors at the three sites we looked at in the earlier pieces. For not only is Singapore home to many Asian ferry companies it is also the biggest freeport in the world.
In addition to the investors who are probably native to Singapore we found Trevor Iain Walker, said to be resident there. Whether he is or not is a moot point, Companies House just accepts what it’s told.
In addition to the UK listed companies there are two more, both registered in Florida. Muniment LLC shares its name with a number of Walkers’s UK companies. The other company, Audica Properties LLC, seems to have been started by Walker in 2014 and then, last year, he was joined by Robin Lim Siew Cheong, who could be another Singaporean investor.
The picture in Pembroke Dock isn’t clear yet, but these Singapore investors haven’t rocked up to enjoy the view of Neyland. Something is planned for the Dock and it links with Brexit. I suggest it’s either a lorry park or a freeport. Maybe both.
Watch this space!
THE GREEN ENERGY RIP-OFF
Because of my slant on certain issues some people think I’m opposed to renewable energy, or that I’m a climate change denier. The truth is that I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy – as long as it’s reliable and reasonably cheap; and I’m more of a sceptic than a denier when it comes to climate change.
But I am unequivocal in my hostility to charlatans and shysters, crooks and con men, who come to Wales to rip us off.
I suppose the basic problem is that Wales has many rivers and streams suitable for hydro projects, and countless hills that will attract those who erect wind turbines. Even so, these natural assets need not lead to us being exploited.
The exploitation happens because virtue-signalling politicians are desperate to show the world that little Wales is playing its part in saving the planet.
It is this desperation to get a pat on the head that opens the gates to the shysters.
Our next report takes up the coast from Pembroke Dock to another ferry port, at Holyhead, where a northern source suggests I take a look at a company in receipt of mucho dinero from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.
The company in question is Minesto, a Swedish company hoping to generate electricity from underwater ‘kites’. Here’s the company website.
There we read:
Certainly, the company has a presence in Sweden, because that’s where it’s based. Obviously, I can’t speak for Taiwan.
In Ireland the company’s existence was brief, perhaps no more than a separate listing for the company registered in England and Wales. And yet, according to the Minesto website and other sources the project at Strangford Lough is still running, so how is it being funded?
The sole director of Minesto UK Ltd is Martin Johan Edlund, with Goodwille Ltd serving as secretary. Goodwille takes its name from director George Alexander James Goodwille. The Swedish connection is maintained at Goodwille by director Svante Lennart Stensson Adde.
Before getting into the figures I’d just like to explore the linkages behind Minesto.
Let’s go back to the ‘About us’ panel above. It says that Minesto was founded in 2007 as a spin-off from Saab. That may have been what happened in Sweden, but Minesto UK Ltd was born in June 2008 when Keyrad Ltd, a company formed in 1996, changed its name.
The panel also says, “Main owners are BGA Invest and Midroc New Technology. The Minesto share is listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market in Stockholm.” Telling us that Minesto is wholly owned back in Sweden.
The Midroc link also suggests the underwater kite system belongs to that company.
If we go back to the Minesto website and the Projects tab, there we find Holyhead Deep, the name of Minesto’s Welsh venture. (There’s also a dormant company called Holyhead Deep Ltd, at the same Holyhead address, with the same Martin Edlund as the sole director.)
This website page explains why Minesto came to Wales: “Numerous locations around the UK were considered, but Wales was selected as the preferred option due to the highly suitable environmental conditions and government commitment to marine renewable energy, which offers significant opportunities to attract support and investment into the Holyhead project.”
To cut through the bullshit – the attraction was gullible politicians and easy money. With the panel below making clear that it’s already up to €27.9m.
The extract below from the latest accounts would appear to show that Minesto UK Ltd is entirely dependent on ‘Welsh Government’ funding. I’m surprised there’s no money coming from Sweden. Because I guarantee that – as with Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in the south – any profits will speed their way back to Sweden.
So here’s the question – does this investment provide tangible benefits for Ynys Môn and for Wales, or are our politicians paying, yet again, to have their egos massaged and their planet-saving credentials burnished?
With £23m+ handed over or promised, how many jobs have been created for local, Welsh people?
Given that the owners of Minesto UK Ltd are Swedish, and the patent for the technology is held by a Swedish company, what benefits will accrue to Wales if the technology proves successful?
And if it fails, the Swedes walk away without having lost anything while Wales is £23m+ out of pocket.
Is funding from Wales being diverted to the Minesto project in Northern Ireland?
Are there no better ways to have used £23m+ on Ynys Môn for the benefit of local communities?
UPDATE: My attention has been drawn to one of the logos at the foot of the Minesto website, the one for Horizon 2020, “. . . the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract.”
So where is the ‘private investment’ in Minesto UK Ltd? Is Welsh EU funding being used in place of the private money?
As I said earlier, I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy schemes, but they must be of benefit to Wales. But unfortunately they rarely are. Worse, much of what we experience could be viewed as colonialism for the 21st century.
Think of the massive wind farms such as Pen y Cymoedd (or the hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn) and the pittances offered to locals in compensation. It reminds me of Europeans in Africa or the Americas giving beads to ‘primitives’ in return for their assets or their land. Now we Welsh are the exploited primitives.
Yet we are supposed to welcome it because we’re saving the planet!
Those clowns in Corruption Bay, and their Westminster allies, who sold us short on water, and HS2, who talk Wales down and short-change us at every opportunity, must learn that people get angry when they see money squandered on virtue signalling.
I have a feeling they’ll be getting the message loud and clear in next year’s Assembly elections.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
Social housing is an issue I’ve written about many times over the years, and I make no apologies for returning to the subject again. For the old problems remain and new ones are emerging.
The old problems are:
An ‘arms race’ among housing associations to build more and more properties (often where there is little local need) to deter predators from swallowing them up.
Certain housing associations being very close to the Labour management team in Cardiff docks with this closeness giving them an unfair advantage over competitors.
I say ‘competitors’ because, unlike the old system of the local council being the major or sole provider of social rented housing in a locality, we now have any number of housing associations operating in the same area.
Social tenancy allocations in Wales being made on an Englandandwales basis.
WARNING: This report gets complicated given all the players and different commercial entities. So sit up straight and pay attention!
‘BUILD THEM AND THEY WILL COME’
Cartrefi Conwy Cyf came into existence in 2008 with the transfer of Conwy council’s housing stock. In 2015 it branched out with the creation of a subsidiary, Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company).
Creating Enterprise CIC is now seeking ‘new income streams’ on the north coast, an area where north west England likes to dump its social problems.
What could possibly go wrong?
And Creating Enterprise CIC would appear to have found new sources of income, for the latest accounts tell us that turnover increased by over 700% between 2017 and 2019. That is impressive.
As stated, Creating Enterprise is a subsidiary of Cartrefi Conwy (and many or even most of its ’employees’ may be Cartrefi Conwy tenants) that maintains and upgrades Cartrefi Conwy properties. Nothing unusual in that, many housing associations have in-house maintenance teams.
But there’s not much profit in such an arrangement, it’s just a housing association giving work to a wholly-owned subsidiary. The only way to make money is for the subsidiary to branch out. Which is what has happened with Creating Enterprise CIC.
As you’re read, the other partner in Calon Homes LLP is Brenig Developments Limited. There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.
First question: Why did Cartrefi Conwy Cyf, via Creating Enterprise CIC, go into partnership with a dormant company?
Second question: There is an outstanding charge against Brenig Homes Ltd with Kennah Motor Credit Ltd, of Cheshire, a dissolved company. But why would a building firm seek credit from an auto finance company?
Third question: This report from Wales247 in September tells us that Calon Homes is building 11 houses in Middlewich, Cheshire. Why is a company half-owned by a publicly-funded Welsh housing association building private dwellings in England?
Fourth question: The architects involved with Calon Homes’ 111 Conwy properties mentioned in the Wales247 report are Base Architecture and Design, which is expanding. Does this (from the report I’ve linked to) give the game away, “Conwy is a thriving area with a lot of development and investment going on, particularly along the A55 corridor through to Anglesey,”
Fifth question: Why do we also read of Base Architecture and Design, “Its clients in the region include Brenig Construction, one of North Wales’ leading civil engineering and construction companies”? At 31.10.2018 Brenig Construction Ltd had a net book value of just £84,637.
What we have here is a publicly-funded housing association – whose assets consist primarily of a stock transfer of council housing – playing at being a private company through subsidiaries and partnerships. Cartrefi Conwy justifies building properties for commuters, retirees and others from over the border by arguing that its share of the profits from this work will be used to build social housing.
But is that a sensible model? Let’s say Cartrefi Conwy lends Creating Enterprise CIC one million pounds that in turn is lent to Calon Homes to build in partnership with a private company. And let’s say that the profit on that project is £500,000. After being split with the private developer, and after admin, staff, and other costs are taken out by Creating Enterprise and Calon Homes, Cartrefi Conwy might be lucky to get back £50,000 for social housing. So why not just spend the original £1m on social housing?
The true purpose is building open market housing along the A55 commuter/retirement belt. And when we realise that most of Cartrefi Conwy’s other efforts go into providing care homes, retirement bungalows and flats, it becomes clear that it’s just an agency for the further colonisation of Wales.
OLD AND NEW
In the introduction I listed the established problems with ‘social housing’ in Wales. Having got this far you’ll know that the new problems stem from diversification.
But the problem is not confined to Cartrefi Conwy. Let’s go to the other end of the country and look at Mill Bay Homes in Pembrokeshire, a private company and a subsidiary of Ateb (formerly Pembrokeshire Housing). Despite being a private company Mill Bay has a “revolving credit facility with the parent”, Ateb.
Which in practice means that money held by Ateb that should be used to provide social housing is loaned to Mill Bay to build homes for ‘investors‘, ‘retirees‘ and others, including holiday home buyers. (Check those links.)
Clearly, the system in Pembrokeshire differs from that up north in that instead of entering into a partnership via a subsidiary with a private company, with the subsidiary getting 50% of the profits, Ateb loans money directly to in-house subsidiary MBH, which does the building.
But much of Mill Bay Homes’ profits will be eaten up by its own running costs, for it is after all a separate company with its own staff and overheads. Unless MBH is selling its properties at greatly inflated prices it’s difficult to see how it can ever repay Ateb.
An example of how Mill Bay Homes operates is its St Davids’ development. Due to the demand from England for property in and around St Davids most locals experience great difficulty in finding a place to buy at a price they can afford.
Yes, a small number of properties on the new development are reserved for locals (with a very narrow definition of ‘local’) and a small window in which to apply. Otherwise, it’s “32 executive dwellings . . . 2, 3 and 4 bedroom bungalows.”
Executive homes and retirement bungalows. Just what local first-time buyers are looking for!
Mill Bay claims to be meeting the local need in St Davids but in reality it’s just capitalising on the external demand.
But nobody cares, for there is neither regulation nor oversight of housing associations.
An example would be the ‘Welsh Government’s ‘Shared Ownership Wales’ scheme – a disguised form of leasehold – that should only be offered by Registered Social Landlords (registered with WG); yet it’s available in St Davids and elsewhere through Mill Bay Homes, a private company that is not a RSL.
And all the while we hear politicians complain about the lack of social housing, and how we must build more – so more money is given to housing associations . . . and spent on ‘diversification’.
Let’s face it, we are in the same position with ‘social housing’ as we are with the third sector – keep a problem alive and publicised in order to keep the funding flowing. If housing associations wanted to meet the demand for social housing – i.e. for good quality rented accommodation – then they would not be launching subsidiaries.
Finally, those who think that it’s better to see private housing built by Welsh housing associations than by major English companies should think again. For they don’t challenge Persimmon, Wimpey, and the rest, they complement them by building the smaller developments that the volume builders can’t be bothered with.
The social housing system in Wales is broken, it no longer serves its original purpose. So we need a new system to provide affordable rented accommodation.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
This issue is made up of something old, something new. We start with a brief return to Summit to Sea and end with another hydro project involving Ellergreen. The ‘meat’ in this sandwich is a piece in which I try to unravel who might be involved now and in the past at the Ferodo site in Caernarfon, which is lined up for a major development.
No doubt many of you are looking forward to the infantile grotesquerie of Hallowe’en, while those of a more traditional bent will uncork a bottle for Samhain. For it’s well known that at this time of the year our ancestors were partial to a good bottle of Malbec.
Here at Jac Towers the dogs will be unleashed upon any who come disturbing my peace. A charitable act; for climbing trees to escape the Dobermans will keep young scoundrels fit and stop them developing into socialists or criminals, a fate that demanding money with menaces surely presages.
(Though I rarely differentiate between socialists and criminals, and I’ve invariably found the latter to be more congenial company.)
SUMMIT TO SEA
Summit to Sea is a scam dreamed by a gang of ‘environmentalists’, led or inspired by George Monbiot, that hoped to be handed millions of pounds and given free access to thousands of hectares of land and sea in central Wales. The excuse for this appropriation was that ‘rewilding’ was needed to tackle climate change. (For sheep are absolute bastards when it comes to damaging the planet!)
The ‘Welsh Government’ played its usual role, a combination of Uriah Heep and Vidkun Quisling, by promising to helpfully clear farmers off the land by withdrawing funding, and helping in any other way it could.
Given the bad publicity received, and the near-total opposition in the affected area – especially from local farmers who were never consulted! – it was almost inevitable that Summit to Sea would be vulnerable. And so it proved; first, when Ecodyfi withdrew its support from the project in September; and then, this month, when Rewilding Britain had second thoughts.
Summit to Sea has taken two heavy hits and is rocking on its heels, ready for the knock-out blow . . . but will it be delivered?
I ask because there seems to be ambivalence on the part of certain local politicians. Go back to the article I linked to reporting the withdrawal of Rewilding Britain, and there you’ll read Powys councillor Elwyn Vaughan saying: “I am hopeful that it marks the start of a successful partnership between the people of mid Wales and Summit to Sea.”
In this article from Farmers Guardian Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Vaughan expands on his thinking. He clearly believes the project should proceed, but with more local involvement and, perhaps, a slice of the £3.4m said to be available. Though I’m not sure how this is supposed to work out.
The money was only available for the rewilding project . . . a rewilding project to which local farmers are almost universally opposed. So are we to believe that the farmers will implement the rewilding scheme themselves if they get the £3.4m?
At the very least, it suggests to me that Elwyn Vaughan is not opposed to Summit to Sea per se. Maybe his opposition was simply to the way it was being done, and how the money was being distributed.
Which would make a certain sense, for Councillor Vaughan seems to be something of an eco-warrior himself. This tweet has been pinned to his Twitter timeline for almost two years. (We all want to cut down on the use of plastic, but bloody hell! – two years!)
And when it comes to his party, well, Plaid Cymru is all over the place on this one. We know that Plaid is a very environmentally-friendly political party, but it risks alienating a great many supporters by backing Summit to Sea.
Though looking at it from the other side, if I was trying to implement Summit to Sea as originally conceived, I might think to myself: ‘Right, Labour’s onside, but in this neck of the woods Labour’s got less support than the DUP, so the key is Plaid Cymru’.
I’m not saying Plaid Cymru could win everybody over to Summit to Sea, but just to get Plaid talking of “partnership” might be enough to sow confusion and create division where none had previously existed.
And looking at it from the Summit to Sea perspective it would certainly be worth courting Plaid Cymru. With the project falling apart what have they got to lose?
I invite Elwyn Vaughan to clarify what he means by “partnership” with Summit to Sea.
BRAKES OFF AT THE FERODO SITE
Ferodo opened its Caernarfon factory in 1964, and at its height it employed almost 2,000 people. In the late nineties the site was taken over by American Craig Smith and in 1997 renamed Friction Dynamics. Relations between owner and staff deteriorated.
The Friction Dynamics strike was one of the longest in Welsh history, beaten only perhaps by the Penrhyn lockout of 1900 – 1903 at Bethesda, not far away. They can be stubborn buggers in that area. God bless ’em.
I’m telling you this to give some background to a report on plans to develop the site. Though I got a flashback when I read in the headline that the project also included Plas Brereton. Daily Post reporter Owen Hughes reminded us about Plas Brereton with, “The site went up for sale last autumn . . . after the deal to sell to Plas Glynllifon owners Paul and Rowena Williams collapsed.”
And it’s true! As the very same Owen Hughes reported last June. And here he is! Paul Williams himself, in living colour.
Come on, be honest – would you buy magic beans from this guy? His eyes are all over the place, a would-be con man who can’t even convince himself! Perhaps thinking, ‘Nobody’s buying this crap, are they?’
But let’s not dwell in the past; let’s ask what the future holds for the Cofis. For a start, it’s more tourism, more, ‘Wales – England’s Playground’. Though these plans outdo even the Gruesome Twosome.
Though I warn you, it now gets a wee bit complicated, and I might digress. But I think it’s worth sticking with it.
The company reported as being behind the project is Maybrook Investments, of Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. Though also involved is Landal Greenparks, a Dutch company owned by Wyndham Destinations of the USA.
The Welsh involvement is limited to input from Cadnant Planning and architectural firm Dewis. Perhaps these have been given the work in the belief that local firms would be more likely to secure planning approval. Which has yet to be granted.
There’s plenty of information available on major companies Landal and Wyndham, so I’m going to focus on Maybrook Investments which, unlike those two, has no vast website and very little information of any kind. But we’ll dig anyway.
Of the 100 shares issued, 99 are held by Peter Brendan Gerrard O’Dowd and 1 by Noreen O’Dowd. There are 7 outstanding charges for assorted properties, mainly in north west England.
The latest unaudited financial statement suggests a company in pretty good financial health, though a different valuation might not agree that the company’s investment portfolio is worth almost six million pounds.
Next stop was the Land Registry, for a map search of the site, and this is what I turned up. But now it gets rather complicated, for not only does the title record involve the Crown Estate and the ‘Welsh Government’ but there are various covenants and restrictions.
The Ferodo site was bought in July 2015 for £234,000 by the St Francis Group (Caernarfon) Ltd, which began life 10.06.2015. The last of the original directors left in December 2017 when O’Dowd joined. The name was changed to Bryn Coch Ltd in January 2018.
Maybrook Investments is now the sole shareholder. The two charges against this company (one satisfied) correspond with the number on the title document I’ve just linked with, CYM63599.
These two charges being dated 18.12.2017 and 22.06.2018 suggests they were not used to make the purchase in 2015 but taken out later for some other purpose, with the Ferodo site used as security.
Let us now go back further and check on the history of this site.
Page 3 of the title document seems to deal with rights of access and then, at the end, a transfer of land relating to the other title on the site.
From my reading of the title document for CYM63599, by 2009 the Ferodo site had passed to the ownership or custodianship of ‘The Welsh Ministers’, who then sold it to Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd. The purchase is covered in these charges, taken out 2007 – 2009 which remain outstanding.
But why was Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd set up in July 2007 almost two years before the transfer of May 2009?
Bluefield Land took out loans amounting to millions of pounds (also still outstanding) with the Julian Hodge Bank Ltd. The company’s address was at Tŷ To Maen Farm in Old St Mellons. (Which for some reason rings a bell.)
Was the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales involved in the sale of the Ferodo site?
If I had more time (and if this investigation wasn’t making me lose the will to live!), I’d push on because I’m sure there’s a lot to unearth. This may not be a straightforward application by a guy who owns the Ferodo site hoping to involve major players in some over-hyped holiday camp.
If I was Cyngor Gwynedd I would be asking a lot of questions before even considering this site for planning approval.
For a start, Maybrook Investments Ltd doesn’t seem to own the whole of the old Ferodo site. So is the other title holder involved? (There was an option to buy dated February 2009, but has it been exercised?)
Then, if we go to the title document for the land apparently owned by Bryn Coch Ltd we see, at the top of page 4, the extract below. As we know, Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd was dissolved in January 2016. All the shares were owned by Dauson Environmental Group Ltd. So does this company retain whatever rights are referred to?
Turning to the entry numbered 9, Bluefield Caernarfon Management Ltd also went belly-up in January 2016. The shares here were held by Bluefield Land Ltd (35 shares) and Twenty20 Homes Ltd (65 shares).
Companies associated with the Ferodo site were going down like flies that month!
The shares in Twenty20 Homes were held by Macob Property Holdings Ltd (13,500 shares) and Paul Christopher Markey of Porthcawl (1,500 shares). Macob Property Holdings is undergoing a very long process of liquidation; owing Barclays Bank over £7m (‘before interest and charges’) at the start of the process.
Where does this leave the ‘rights granted by a deed . . . (to) Bluefield Caernarfon Management Ltd for a term of 75 years from 7 April 2009′?
What ‘rights’ were they? Have they been nullified? Have they been transferred? Maybe they’re still held by shareholders, or creditors? Or have they reverted to ‘The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty’?
This project on the old Ferodo site was a bit opaque to start with. A small-time property dealer trying to break into the big time, with a vague association with major players. While in the background we see a swirling mess of interlinked companies shuffling money between them, taking out huge loans and then going bust!
If I was Cyngor Gwynedd I’d be asking who owns what and who might still have claim on the Ferodo site and anything built on it.
As I wrote, “Ellergreen Hydro is based in the English Lake District and seems to be part of a group of companies bearing the name. These are run – in various guises and through assorted holding companies – by the Cropper family, headed by Sir James Anthony Cropper.”
Concerned locals at Mynydd Llandygai have been in touch to tell me that something odd is going on as Cyngor Gwynedd bends over backwards to accommodate a group that has invited Ellergreen Hydro to install a project on Afon Galedffrwd.
To begin with, I’m told that the project is being pushed through by stealth, with the local community not being properly notified and updated.
Then, it’s alleged that the application form has been ‘modified’. For a source insists that the original application – accepted by the council – stated “that the nearest building to the power station is ‘several hundred yards away’ when actually there are houses within 50 yards of it and an industrial unit and 10 plus houses within 100 yards.”
It’s said the council’s planners knew this, but still accepted the incorrect information.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, go to the council planning portal and you’ll find three letters of support. There were many more letters objecting . . . but they seem to have disappeared!
Anyway, let’s look at the planning application, for it contains a few entries to raise a smile, or have you scratching your head. The applicant is Mrs Jenny Wong of Coetir Mynydd (of which more in a minute) who lives in Bethesda . . . in the Vale of Glamorgan!
The agent is Adam Cropper of Ellergreen Hydro, who gives an address in Penarth, which really is in the Vale of Glamorgan. But as we know, Ellergreen is based in the Lake District, so Pod 3, Avon House is just an accommodation address.
Scroll down to box 27 and we see that the land needed for the project seems to be partly owned by the Penrhyn Estate; partly owned by Rite Goswami of Yr Ocar, Coed y Parc (which is either a B&B or a self-catering holiday let, maybe both); and partly owned by the aforementioned Mrs Wong on behalf of Coetir Mynydd.
Locals also wonder who’s paying, and who’s benefiting, for despite promises of ‘community benefits’ in the form of cheaper energy for all, many remain sceptical.
According to Robert Owen Community Banking, shares for similar schemes nearby, ” . . . cost £50, and there is a minimum holding of five shares (£250)”. Later in the article we read that the shares are to be sold online.
Two hundred and fifty pounds might be too much for some locals, and if shares are to be sold online then anyone can buy them. So how local are these schemes?
We have a ‘local’ group, made up mainly it seems of good-lifers and planet-botherers, an English energy company, landowners including Lord Penrhyn (whose ancestor caused the longest strike in history), the mysterious Alex Ferraro of Penarth(?), and shares perhaps being sold online.
What we seem to have here, again, is Plaid Cymru, in the form of Cyngor Gwynedd, unable to resist any scheme claiming environmental credentials. And when the sales pitch is delivered in a middle class English accent they go all wobbly at the knees.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
This week’s offering keeps to the bits and pieces format that’s popular in certain quarters; but there is a thread in that all the items below show Wales being taken advantage of in one form or another.
Worse, there are some trying to present our passivity and gullibility as virtues, cos we are ‘carin’, innit.
THE WILD WEST SHOW
I remember Paul Flynn, long-serving Labour MP for Newport West who died last month, use the term ‘Wild West Show’ to describe the planning system – or lack thereof – in Ceredigion back in the 1980s and 1990s. Those halcyon days when the council was run by Dai Lloyd Evans and his fraternity of landowner-farmers sitting as ‘Independents’.
No ordinary men these, but seers, with powers that allowed them to predict which land might in future be built upon and therefore increase in value. And so certain were they of their powers that some would buy worthless land that – hey presto! – became valuable through being favoured in local development plans and by other means.
Dai Lloyd Evans himself increased his already considerable wealth by buying a couple of fields outside of his native Tregaron that – as the visions had foretold – became earmarked for ‘development’. The populace marvelled at his prescience.
Those were indeed wondrous times. And the splurge of housebuilding, the detached four-bedroom houses, were defended by Dai and his gang with, ‘Our youngsters must have somewhere to live’.
If you want to know why the Welsh language has retreated so rapidly in Ceredigion then look no further than Dai Lloyd Evans and his gang encouraging the building of thousands of big houses . . . for local youngsters.
All the while Plaid Cymru stood by twiddling its thumbs. Or else, like Cynog Dafis, tried to put a positive gloss on the invasion by snuggling up to the Green element and pretending these colonialist enviro-shysters would be an asset to Wales.
The Wild West show is no longer confined to Ceredigion. It’s playing all over Wales (though Welsh involvement is now minimal). There’s a simple reason for this – it’s because in Wales you can get away with just about anything.
That’s why Wales attracts the leeches of the third sector bleeding the public purse to tackle issues that will never really be tackled because to do so would cut off the leeches’ blood supply.
It also explains why we get all manner of shysters and crooks coming to Wales – because they know they can tap into public funding and get planning permission and other support for just about any ludicrous ‘scheme’.
And even when people get caught out, nothing is done. Auditors, ombudsmen, politicians, media, police, just look the other way, and the Wild West Show rolls on.
The fun and games – and the lies – continue down in Milford Haven with Camp Valour’s plans for Fort Hubberston.
For those wondering what I’m talking about, let me explain that a bunch of chancers formed a company called Camp Valour CIC and came up with a scheme for a ‘veteran transition centre’ for 250 military veterans at Fort Hubberston, a 19th century fortification on Milford Haven Waterway.
If you want to catch up with the details, then read this post (scroll down to part 3) and this post (ditto). So what’s new?
As I mentioned in an update to my previous post, I had a silly e-mail, purporting to be from a solicitor, demanding that I take down everything I’d written about the gang. It was badly written, came from a Yahoo address, had no company logo or anything else to suggest it was authentic, but whoever wrote it thought they were being clever by using the name of a real solicitor! (That is a special kind of stupid.)
So I got in touch with the genuine solicitor, forwarded the e-mail I’d received, and she’s now following it up.
Most other developments are covered in the report below from last Friday’s Pembrokeshire Herald.
Though there has been one other development. Last Thursday I received a notification from Companies House that on February 15th – just two days after my first posting on the subject – ‘Major’ Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen resigned as director of Camp Valour CIC.
Which means that Camp Valour is now drifting, rudderless, without a single officer aboard. And for a company to have no officers might invalidate its registration with Companies House. I have reported this state of rudderlessness to Companies House.
This resignation is very strange, or very revealing. His defenders insist that Major Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen is genuine and has not changed his name from Sean Keven Patrick Pullen. (They’re twins!) Also, that he really is a military veteran. Yet at the first sign of hostilities he legs it!
I can also report that the Walter Mitty and Bloaters Hunters Club is looking into Pullen’s history. This group exposes con men pretending to have served in the military. It seems the practice is more widespread than you might think, and the fantasists invariably claim to have served in elite units, rarely the Pay Corps or the Engineers.
The other thing worth mentioning is something that’s been nagging me for a few days now, probably because I don’t know how to interpret it. Let me explain.
The phoney solicitor’s letter arrived at 06:09 last Monday. Given that it was quite a long message (443 words) it suggests that whoever wrote it had risen early, or perhaps been up all night. But before that, at 02:22, I received another e-mail, this one telling me that a message had been sent to my Facebook page. But by the time I got up the FB message was gone, presumably the sender had deleted it.
Did I get messages from two different people that night, or did one person begin with a Facebook message and go for broke with a phoney solicitor’s letter? Though another possibility would be that someone got access to another person’s Facebook account.
Even more perplexing is the case of the disappeared photograph. In this sequence of photographs from the Remembrance Day parade in Liverpool in 2016 there was a photo of a lad, “ . . . wearing his Dad’s medals and Parachute Regiment Beret”. There was a suspicion that the boy was Pullen/Faversham-Pullen’s son. Someone else who saw it – a former Para – claimed that the medals couldn’t be genuine for operational reasons.
The picture of that boy has been removed some time in the past few days.
Finally, I cannot understand why the Port of Milford Haven is still taking these people seriously. In fact, I cannot understand why the Port of Milford Haven ever took these buggers seriously.
It would suffer no reputational harm if the Port of Milford Haven was to make a clear public announcement stating it will have no further dealings of any kind with Field Admiral Mitty-Pullen and his cohorts.
UPDATE 23:08: Below you’ll see a slightly redacted Facebook exchange that took place today between Pullen and a genuine ex-Para who knows him. The more I read it the more I realise that you cannot believe a word Pullen says. He even contradicts himself when, in column 2, he says that Camp Valour is finished but then, in column 7, he says he’s pulled out but others are carrying on! Which is it?
There’s an old saying that liars need good memories, and Pullen’s got a terrible memory.
UPDATE 05.03.2019: I have received a reply from Companies House to my query about the status of Camp Valour CIC, seeing as it no longer has a director. (Click to enlarge.)
HIDDEN COSTS OF BEING ‘CARING’
Someone on Swansea Bay who knows of such things tells of growing concern at the number of individuals being dealt with that clearly have no connections with the area.
One recent case my source became aware of is that of a vulnerable woman from Birmingham now living in Neath . . . when she’s not in the custody suite at Swansea Central police station . . . or getting treatment in hospital . . . or being ferried around by police car or ambulance.
And yet those running the property where this woman lives would argue that she costs us nothing because ‘Birmingham’ pays for her accommodation; which is no doubt true, but ‘Birmingham’ doesn’t pay for police time, or the amount this woman and so many others cost the ambulance service and the Welsh NHS.
In the previous post I looked at the case of staff at a care home in Cwm-twrch Isaf being told not to speak Welsh because the residents were not familiar with the language, proving that the residents aren’t local. So where are they from and why are they in Cwm-twrch Isaf? And why aren’t our politicians and media asking these questions?
Other reports tell me that many of the desperate cases who’ve been housed in Neath and spend their days on the streets are not from the area, and didn’t move to the area of their own volition. So what’s going on?
There’s no question that Wales is being taken advantage of by English local authorities, third sector outfits, probation companies, misguided do-gooders, housing associations and other bodies, with this encouraged, and then capitalised on, by the Labour Party.
The Labour Party wants to keep Wales poor so that it can blame ‘London’/the Tories and keep us voting Labour. Which means that Wales will remain poor for as long as we keep voting Labour.
This social cleansing has similarities with the dispersal of refugees, an issue reported on recently by Newsnight, which found that the poorer areas of central and northern England see many more refugees under the UK’s dispersal policy than wealthier parts of southern England with higher property values.
While there are similarities Wales has a much larger, overall social burden, and it’s spread more widely, because in addition to social cleansing and refugees the well-heeled from Surbiton and Solihull do not retire to Stoke or Scunthorpe, nor do they buy holiday homes in such places.
Being taken advantage of is bad enough, but we have celebs defending this colonialist exploitation by encouraging us to engage in an orgy of self-congratulation for being so ‘caring’.
When you start congratulating yourself for being a mug then you’re in real trouble . . . and others will continue to take advantage of you.
REFUSED PLANNING PERMISSION? CHANGE YOUR NAME AND USE A HOUSING ASSOCIATION AS A STALKING HORSE
On the outskirts of Swansea, tucked behind Morriston Hospital, lies the hamlet of Pant-lasau, consisting of around twenty homes. Although in many ways it’s a secluded spot it is of course next to one of Wales’s busiest hospitals and very close to the M4.
So it was no surprise when, in 2015, Edenstone Homes Limited, a company with a Gwent address, applied to build 13 new houses in Pant-lasau. These were substantial properties of types known as ‘Farnham’, ‘Bamford’, ‘Ingleton’ and ‘Ashcombe’, names that gel seamlessly with Pant-lasau, Cwmrhydyceirw, Llangyfelach and Mynydd Gelliwastad.
The application – 2015/1581 – was refused by Swansea city council and the refusal was upheld in April 2016 by Clive Nield of the Planning Inspectorate. Read the decision here.
On November 27th last year another planning application was received for the same parcel of land from Coastal Housing Group, one of the major housing associations in the area. This time for 20 ‘affordable homes’.
So why am I boring you by writing about a small housing association development on the outskirts of Swansea?
Because, good people, Coastal Housing has a ‘partner’ in this project, a fact made clear with this report produced in September 2018. While Swansea council’s website insists that it’s Coastal Housing acting alone.
So why the reticence to acknowledge the involvement of ‘Ashgrove Partnerships’? Come to that, who are Ashgrove Partnerships? All will be explained in a minute.
At the time of writing this, the Ashgrove website was still under construction, so the obvious conclusion to draw is that it’s a new company. But is it? For if we look to the bottom of the screen capture below we read, ‘Part of the Edenstone Group’, and it was Edenstone Homes that made the original planning application back in 2015.
The truth is, as Companies House tells us, that Edenstone Partnership Homes Limited changed its name to Ashgrove Partnership Homes Ltdin January this year. (In fact, this company has had six different names since it was Incorporated in February 2004.)
The directors are Stuart James Rodden, Mark Julian Hugo Holden, Jeffrey Stanley Taylor and Martin Jeffrey Taylor. The Taylors are probably father and son with the father, Jeffrey Stanley, involved in what appear to be all of the Edenstone companies and the son branching out beyond Edenstone.
Quite obviously, Edenstone has come back to Pant-lasau for a second attempt using Coastal Housing as a proxy. With the January name change to Ashgrove an attempt to disguise its true identity.
Let Uncle Jac explain what’s going to happen at Pant-lasau.
Planning permission will be given to Coastal Housing for 20 fairly modest properties. Everything will then pass to Edenstone/Ashgrove and changes will be requested to the planning approval. There may be a number of such requests granted to the point where what is finally built is radically different to what originally received planning permission. (As we recently saw at Plas Pistyll in Wilmslow-sur-Mer.)
What’s being done at Pant-lasau is deceitful and Coastal Housing is a willing participant in this deception. But who else is involved? For example, is Swansea council aware that Coastal Housing is fronting for a private developer?
Is the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ aware of this deceit? Or is Pant-lasau an example of the kind of ‘partnerships’ I hear housing associations are being encouraged to enter into?
Sifting through the documents available I was unable to find a title number or any ownership details for the land in question. The only option was a post code search on the Land Registry website. And it worked.
The documents tell us that the owners are David Michael Vernon Thomas and Susan Daphne Thomas of Deepholm Farmhouse, Rockfield, Monmouth. But we also read . . .
“(08.02.2013) RESTRICTION: Until 24 February 2024 no disposition of the part of the registered estate shown edged red on Part 1 of the title plan (other than a charge) by the proprietor of the registered estate, or by the proprietor of any registered charge, not being a charge registered before the entry of this restriction is to be registered without a certificate signed by Edenstone Homes (Western) Limited (Co. Regn. No. 7110699) of Priory House, Priory Street, Usk NP15 1QN”.
The Company mentioned in the Restriction above, Edenstone Homes (Western) Limited, is a shell company with Rodden and the Taylors as directors. All three give their address as First Floor, Building 102, Wales 1 Business Park, Newport Road, Magor, Caldicot, Wales, NP26 3DG. This address is home to a number of Rodden-Holden-Taylor companies.
The building itself is an ugly, new structure and obviously part of Alun Cairns’ Severnside nightmare.
So even though Edenstone/Ashgrove doesn’t own the land at Pant-lasau it obviously has some arrangement with the owners until 2024. Which again raises the question – why does this project need the involvement of Coastal Housing?
The answer, as I’ve explained, is to get planning permission. So I hope that when Swansea’s planning committee discusses this application on Tuesday the 5th it will reject what is an obvious attempt to get planning permission by deception.
And while they’re at it, Swansea’s planning committee might ask for an explanation from Coastal Housing for its involvement in this squalid ploy.
Or is this the shape of things to come?
P.S. I should add that Swansea’s planners seem to be complicit in this deception because even though the site is unsuitable for social housing the planners say it’s fine.
To begin with, there’s nothing in the way of public transport other than the bus service from Morriston hospital that runs down to Singleton hospital. Swansea’s planners say this constitutes good public transport.
On the issue of local facilities, shops and the like, the planners argue that the outlets in Morriston hospital – Subway, Costa and W H Smith – tick this box.
UPDATE 05.03.2019: To the surprise of absolutely no one Swansea council’s planning committee voted to approve this planning application. The vote was seven (all Labour) in favour, three (non-Labour) against.
DUMPING OF THE NUCLEAR VARIETY
You may be aware that the UK government is looking for suitable locations to dump nuclear waste. It seems the only areas being considered are in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Who’d have guessed!
In an attempt to be seen consulting the public the UK Government, through its agency Radioactive Waste Management, organised two public meeting in Wales, one in Swansea and one in Llandudno. Chosen for the obvious reason that each is central to its region and easy to reach by road and rail.
Well now we learn that the Swansea meeting is cancelled, and will be replaced by an online consultation. At the time of writing the Llandudno meeting is still going ahead on 14 March.
Plaid Cymru seems to be ambivalent. It was reluctant to oppose the Cardiff dumping because of the involvement of suspended AM and enfant terrible Neil McEvoy, and Plaid will dither on underground dumping because the party always shows two faces to nuclear energy.
The Swansea meeting may have been called off due to the hostile reaction locally, from such as Tory Suzy Davies the local regional AM and Lib Dem councillor and former AM Peter Black. The local bruvvers have also mumbled a bit but they’ll fall into line when their bosses in Cardiff and London crack the whip.
Whether it’s paedophiles, drug addicts, wrinklies, wind turbines, problem families, white flight, nuclear waste, Wales is where England looks to do its dumping.
There’s only one way to escape this abusive relationship, and that’s independence. There is only one political party promising independence and that’s Ein Gwlad.
If the title confuses anyone, let me explain that it’s adapted from the song, Stuck in the Middle with You, by Scottish band Stealers Wheel. The song got a later boost – and some notoriety – from being used in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.
But it’s apt, because everywhere I look I see shysters and crooks, and I know why they’re here. They’re here because Wales is poor, and Wales is poor because she’s a colony of England, and because she’s a colony of England Wales must be run in the interests of England, and this makes Wales poor . . .
In our rural areas, and increasingly in our post-industrial areas, this poverty is made worse year on year by England shipping in its problem cases via a host of organisations you’ve never heard of. This serves a number of purposes.
It relieves England of ‘burdensome’ individuals, from the elderly to the morbidly obese, the drug addicts and those who sell them the drugs. This not only adds an unnecessary burden to Welsh public spending, it also influences indices that can be used to argue that Wales is a ‘basket-case economy’, a country that could never support itself.
Just imagine robbing your neighbour while simultaneously transferring your debts and obligations onto him – then ridiculing him for being poor!
The puppet show in Cardiff docks, acting as a mouthpiece for the London regime, would have us believe that the economic salvation of our rural and post-industrial area now lies with tourism. Anyone who accepts this is a fool.
Tourism is forced on Wales for three reasons:
It keeps us disheartened and dependent, grateful for anything.
Money spent by English tourists in Wales will by one route or another make its way back to London, unlike money spent ‘abroad’.
Tourism helps anglicise and integrate Wales, partly by the sheer weight of tourist numbers and partly because tourism encourages English people to move to Wales.
And as I have reported a number of times, much of what passes for tourism – especially property development in that sector – is often money laundering. But no one cares, there is no action taken, because in the UK financial crime is acceptable. That’s because the UK is the most corrupt country on earth.
The City of London lies at the centre of a web of offshore tax havens – beginning with the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man – through which pass the world’s dirty money, money from which Britain’s elite benefits. (If you’ve got an hour and twenty minutes to spare I urge you to watch The Spider’s Web.)
‘A55, THE HIGHWAY OF OPPORTUNITY’
That’s how Wyn Roberts, MP for Conwy, and long-time Minister of State for Wales under Margaret Thatcher described the north’s main artery. He was wrong, of course, unless the A55 is viewed from England.
But then Wyn Roberts was a rum cove in many ways. He even got a mention in Paul Foot’s seminal work on Northern Ireland Who Framed Colin Wallace? with the clear suggestion that Roberts was involved in the MI5-MI6-right wing loonies’ plot to mount a coup and overthrow the Wilson government. (Strange how certain ideas keep coming round.)
I suppose this section started with information I was sent last week which resulted in me putting out a tweet and someone then sending me further information. You’ll get a better idea of what I’m talking about from the picture below.
Clearly, this is a cross-border project, and experience has taught us that anything cross-border – be it water, electricity, retirees, roads and railways or drug addicts – can be guaranteed to work to the disadvantage of Wales. So why are two Plaid Cymru AMs giving it their – and presumably their party’s – support?
The bearded bloke in the woolly headgear is one James Deakin of Bangor, presumably representing North Wales Recovery Communities, a charity (1160531) that has seen its income rocket from £96.6k in 2016 to £389.0k in 2018. (Nice to see that something in Wales is booming!)
Or maybe Deakin is representing North Wales Recovery Communities Cyf, which is a registered company (Inc 21 July 2014), based at Penrhyn House, with Deakin as sole director and shareholder. But there are other companies with which Deakin is associated.
“Multiple referrals” from HMP Altcourse on Merseyside and HMP Berwyn.
I ask you to pause for a moment, and consider this triumph of the colonialist’s dark art. A massive prison we don’t need – HMP Berwyn – is dumped on us, in which the great majority of the prisoners are from England, but because it’s in Wrecsam drug addicts leaving HMP Berwyn are our responsibility and are referred to agencies in Wales.
Even so, I suspect that Jimmie Deakin hopes to cash in on the HMP Berwyn bonanza, for his new company North Wales Recovery Support Services Ltd may have been set up last year for that very purpose.
Now let’s turn again to the latests accounts for the charity North Wales Recovery Communities, where we read at the foot of page 14:
Clearly, the charity receives the funding, so why can’t the charity provide the service? I ask because I’m concerned to see such a close relationship between this charity, of which Deakin is the leading trustee, and the company, North Wales Recovery Communities Cyf, of which Deakin is the sole director and only shareholder. It don’t look good.
Perhaps realising there’s money to be made from the extra work provided by HMP Berwyn the image above tells us that Deakin also set up a cleaning company, North Wales Contract Cleaning Ltd in June 2017. (This is the ‘further company’ I alluded to earlier.)
The cleaning company was formed with two directors, Deakin and a Kevin Beaumont. Deakin resigned as director 6 October 2018, leaving Beaumont in sole charge . . . apparently. Yet a day later, Beaumont’s 50 shares were transferred to Deakin giving him the full 100. So it’s Deakin’s company.
I am also unhappy – though not surprised – to see Plaid Cymru politicians giving unquestioning support to this venture, and equally unsurprised to see the ‘Welsh Government’ funding a cross-border operation that puts more of England’s burden on the Welsh public purse. But hey! if you can get away with it . . .
I’m sure that, like me, you’d love to know how many clients of Deakin’s expanding empire have roots in our north west.
ANOTHER HIGHWAY, ANOTHER CONDUIT
Next we look at the south’s major artery, the M4. In fact, below you’ll see a tidy map. It shows the operational area of ategi, a Welsh company that administers the Shared Lives scheme in a territory running from Swansea . . . to Essex. In fact, the length of the M4.
I suppose the big question is why this Welsh organisation is operating along the M4 corridor and beyond. The suggestion has been made that English local authorities pay ategi to take some of their workload into Wales, and to Welsh carers.
Which may be true, it may even go further.
Across the mighty Llwchwr dividing Jack from Turk West Wales Shared Lives operates on a three-county basis with its HQ in Carmarthen. For some reason, perhaps because it’s still administered by local authorities, West Wales Shared Lives is neither a charity nor a company registered with Companies House. So getting information is difficult.
But information still reaches me in roundabout ways.
Consider this; there is a small town west of Llanelli, just off the main Carmarthen road, called Cydweli (Kidwelly in English); if it rings a bell, that might be because it achieved some notoriety a few years back due to Gwalia Housing providing homes for a gang of paedophiles from London. Gwalia is now part of the Pobl group.
The latest excitement in the town is provided by a by-election for the town council, caused by Siôn Jones taking up a teaching post in far Cathay. Hoping to replace him is Labour’s Beryl Williams, pictured below enjoying a spliff while she tries to make sense of a mural. (They’re big flowers, love.)
You’ll see that I have circled Beryl’s final election ‘promise’, which reads, “Support older and socially excluded people in Kidwelly, which I will help to make an autism and dementia friendly town”.
That’s a very strange promise to make to a small town in Carmarthenshire, what about the rubbish collections and the dog poo? What does it mean?
I suggest it means that the Labour Party is either au fait with or complicit in a plan by its friends in the third sector to import people who are autistic, or suffer from dementia. (Another term for autism is Aspergers Syndrome.)
I say that because I’m told it’s already happening, with these arrivals living in properties owned by Pobl. With Carmarthenshire County Council and the ‘Welsh Government’ meeting all expenses.
There is a possibility that not only those needing care are being brought into Cydweli but also their carers. If so, then households with no connection to Wales are living in properties built with Welsh public money, with all living costs met from the same source, and placing additional burdens on our NHS and other services.
We know it’s happening in Cydweli, both from witnesses and Beryl’s election address, how many other communities are affected so that Labour and others can claim the moral high ground with, ‘Well, Wales may be poor but we’re a caring country’.
Quite. A poor country allowing itself to become poorer through this corrupted and colonialist interpretation of charity.
Some system, eh?
AND FINALLY, WHO AM I?
Now we travel from the far north east to the distant south west, and in the course of this migration the caterpillar that left Deeside as Sean Keven Patrick Pullen emerged from his pupa in Milford Haven as dazzling butterfly Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen.
Come on, don’t laugh, give the boy credit; if you’re gonna change your name, then go for broke.
First stop is Baron Security (UK) Ltd based at the Armoury Building, Hawarden airport, a company struck off in 2015. Sean Keven Patrick Pullen was the only director. This company never seems to have done much and must have been often confused with Baron Security Services Ltd of Essex.
Although Pullen was the sole director he was not the only shareholder. He held 80% of the shares with the other 20% allocated to ‘Merlin Inspection Technology Ltd’, at the same address. But I could find no such company, though Googling the name brings up this website for ‘Cokebusters’.
Scroll down on the site and you’ll come to the name David Thewsey with a Chester phone number. Looking for Thewsey on the Companies House website we find that the company is in fact called Cokebusters Ltd. What’s more, Cokebusters has received support from Finance Wales Investments (6) Ltd.
There are two other, linked outfits based at the Armoury Building. One is the D-Day Revisited Society (Charity No 1129753) and the other is Camp Valour CIC, a company formed as recently as June 2018 and for which there is very little information.
While Pullen was previously confused as to both his own name and whether Hawarden was in Wales or England he now seems won over to Wales. Not only that, but it addition to becoming Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen with Camp Valour he’s gone all irredentist and claimed Cheshire for Wales!
How do we account for this? Well, as I’ve suggested, the answer is to be found in Aberdaugleddau (Milford Haven). Where, we are told, Camp Valour plans to open a ‘Veteran Transition Centre’ at Fort Hubberstone which is (confusingly) in Hubberston.
The charity I mentioned earlier, D-Day Revisited, has three trustees. In addition to Lucien we find Victoria Phipps and Jonathan Harry Phipps. The accounts for this organisation are interesting,
They tell us that income for y/e 31.12.2016 was £1,214,474 with expenditure of just 359,716. But for the following year income was down to £21,596 with expenditure of £421,909.
The spike is accounted for by funding received from the LIBOR Fund, raised from fines levied on bankers for rigging exchange rates. Whether the charity needed the money, or could use it, is another matter, for at the end of 2016 the D-Day Revisited Society had over one million pounds in cash reserves.
Much of that was used up the following year, and now the good times are over, so a new source of income is needed.
I’ve just told you that the other trustees are a couple named Phipps. And while checking on Jonathan Phipps I found that there was indeed a company named The Merlin Organisation Ltd, which went belly-up in 1998 owing the National Westminster Bank quite a bit of money.
So how could The Merlin Organisation Ltd, wound up in May 1998, own shares in Baron Security (UK) Ltd in 2013? Answers on the usual post card, please.
In fact, Phipps has quite a colourful business background. And now, via the charity, he’s almost certainly involved with Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen in the project for Fort Hubberstone. Whatever that plan may be, for there’s something odd going on here.
The news report that I linked to tells us that Camp Valour plans, “A new transition centre based at Hubberston Fort in Milford Haven is set to benefit veterans. The centre, which will be the first of its kind in the world, will be developed by veterans for veterans to support them in their transition from military to civilian life.”
And yet, according to the Companies House entry Camp Valour seems to be in the holiday business. For under ‘Nature of Business’ it clearly says, ‘recreational’, nothing about rehabilitation.
The Phipps couple are from the Wirral, but using Welsh addresses to get their hands on Welsh public funding, and Finance Wales has already given them the taste for it. Now they want more.
If the story given is true, then we can expect many ex-service personnel being moved to Fort Hubberstone, where they will require treatment from the NHS and other services. An unquantifiable number will settle in the area and this will inevitably place a demand on local housing, which will either need to be specially adapted or purpose built. And this will all be paid for from the Welsh public purse.
I just hope that the Milford Haven Port Authority, which owns the site, Pembrokeshire County Council, and the ‘Welsh Government’, have enough sense not to get involved with these people. And certainly not to give them any of our money.
If nothing else, anyone who changes his name from Sean Keven Patrick Pullen to Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen should be given a wide berth. A very wide berth.
There are countless other examples of Wales being taken advantage of. For that’s how colonialism operates. The Conservative Party of course supports Wales being exploited in this way – it’s ‘investment’. Being a collaborationist and Unionist party Labour willingly does its bit. But what of Plaid Cymru?
Unfortunately Plaid Cymru is now a self-emasculated grouping that is little more than a loose alliance of minority-interest obsessives whose cross-border or global concerns inevitably neglect our homeland while assisting Wales’ exploitation and assimilation.
Blind to the national question and blatant colonialism Plaid Cymru has become colonialism’s great asset – the ‘national party’ representing nothing more than a geographical expression and anyone who lives in it (or is dumped in it), rather than the people to whom this territory belongs.
Fortunately there is now a new nationalist party, one that will contest the next Assembly elections on a platform of unashamedly prioritising Welsh interests. Maybe you should join Ein Gwlad, for it’s Wales’s last hope.
It may be Hallowe’en but you’ll find no ghosties or ghoulies here, just the usual parade of grotesques and exhibitions of idiocy and cupidity that haunt modern Wales. Night and day. All year round.
Seeing as I haven’t put anything out for over a week this is a bumper issue, around 4,000 words, but there’s no single, linking theme other than the sheer fuckedupedness of Wales. I have, as old Nennius said, ‘made a heap of things’. On the plus side, because this is a meal made up of a number of courses, you can take your time.
And if kids come knocking on your door, demanding money with menaces, set the dog on them.
THE OLIVE TRUST
In the previous post, Hate Crime, I told you about the insults aimed at me by Denise Kingsley-Acton, a very strange woman currently domiciled in Kidwelly. A very strange woman indeed. That anyone takes her seriously is difficult to believe, but if they do it may be due to the fact that she has a ‘minder’ in the form of Swansea Labour councillor for 43 years, and now Alderman, Alan Lloyd.
While Lloyd obviously opens doors for Denise Kingsley-Acton, it’s difficult to see what he gets out of it. But being a former Labour councillor we can be sure that he’s not acting as her guide and guarantor for altruistic reasons.
Since posting that piece last week a bit more information has come to light, some of which was added as an update, some of which will be fresh.
You no doubt shared my astonishment that this woman had been given a grant to educate young people about hate crimes. According to her Facebook page she had received a grant from the “Police Commissioner for Dafed (sic) Powys”. So I wrote to the PCC.
The initial response from the office of the PCC said, “The Police and Crime Commissioner has not awarded a grant to the Olive Trust. The grant was awarded from the Safer Dyfed-Powys Diogelach charity, to which the Commissioner is a trustee.”
After a follow-up e-mail I was told, again from the office of the PCC, “The grant was awarded to the Olive Trust as an organisation and it was for £1000.” The wording suggests that we should regard the Olive Trust as something unconnected with Denise Kingsley-Acton, when in fact she is the Olive Trust, and the Olive Trust is her.
I’m still waiting to hear if the grant offer has been withdrawn.
The latest entry on the Olive Trust Facebook page is shown below.
Denise Kingsley-Acton says I have harassed her “continually for many years”. The truth is that in 2012 I wrote about her attempt to screw £1,000,000 out of the Wales European Funding Office. There was a passing reference in September 2014, before two pieces about her in March this year after someone had drawn my attention to an article in Llanelli Online.
That was it, until the bizarre and slanderous allegations that came out of the blue on October 19. Had I not received those insults it’s unlikely I would have written about her ever again.
But if I learn that the Olive Trust or Denise Kingsley-Acton is trying to rip off the public purse, again; or if she posts slanders about me, again; then I shall write about her, again. And that’s a promise.
Mumbles and its pier is close to my heart. I can remember as a young boy riding the old Mumbles Train that used to clatter along the seafront.
In my early teens I spent many happy hours, whole days even, fishing. We’d usually cycle down, fishing rods strapped to our crossbars, bags on our backs containing tackle, bait, sandwiches (which often got mixed up).
At the pier we’d follow the tide out, which meant, once the two top bars of the safety rail around the eastern ‘well’ on the intermediate level became visible, working our way along, standing on the middle bar and holding tight onto the top one with one hand while holding our rod in the other, with bag on back, until we reached the far side, so that the fast ebbing tide could take our lines. And as the tide ebbed further the death-defying stunt was repeated on the bottom level.
I look back at what we did then and I wonder how we survived. Because anyone falling into the ‘well’ would either have been trapped under the floor and drowned, or else been taken out to sea so fast that they would have been lost unless a nearby boat could have reached them quickly.
From home to pier was a seven-mile ride, which was great on the first leg, partly because we were fresh and partly because it was downhill into town and then flat along the Mumbles Road. Coming home after a day’s fishing the pedals would always be heavier, especially if there were no nice fish to show your mam.
As an older teenager I did the Mumbles Mile on a Saturday night. Often after watching the Swans. We’d come out of the Vetch, have a bite to eat in a little caff we used in Wind Street, wash and brush up in one of those old public conveniences with an attendant, then catch the bus (was it the 77?) to Mumbles – White Rose, Pilot, Prince of Wales, Antelope . . . before walking home, which with diversions and digressions might mean getting home in time for breakfast
But then, I’m sure Mumbles and the pier plays a role in the life of anyone from Swansea and the wider area.
So it’s understandable why there is such interest in the proposed development. Now I shan’t comment on the development itself because it’s complicated – obstruction of views, etc – and I don’t have the space here, but there are a few points worth raising.
Someone we’ve encountered on this blog more than once is Lawrence Bailey, former leader of the local Labour Party, former Lord Mayor, and of course leader of the council. Or, rather, he was fulfilling these roles when he could tear himself away from his real interest of pornography. For which he was awarded the coveted Private Eye Pornographer of the Year award.
He also used to write to the Evening Post as Phyllis Evans of Cwmrhydyceirw, Disgusted of Dunvant, and a host of others who all seemed to support the Labour Party. Fancy! It seems likely that the Beans on Toast was complicit in this deception.
After these unfortunate revelations Bailey resigned from the council and branched out into public relations with a company called Whiterock, which first came to my attention when ‘Stan’ pointed out that this outfit was receiving regular payments from the dike-bashing MP for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris.
(Who, let’s be brutally honest, needs all the image-massaging she can get.)
Bailey seems to have used the Whiterock name for some time before registering it with Companies House in August 2015. Nothing else was ever filed with Companies House and Whiterock-Wales was dissolved in January 2017.
This is something I come across regularly, many different but similar names designed solely to confuse. So tell us, Lawrence, what is the name of your company and is it registered? Nobody’ll care if you’re just a one-man band. We all know you enjoy your own company.
Of course, Bailey’s big attraction for any potential client is that he knows the local Labour Party, he’s another like Lloyd who can open doors. So it should surprise no one to learn that he is representing owners Ameco who are hoping to make many millions of pounds from luxury housing in the vicinity of the pier as the ransom price for renovating the pier itself.
There was a meeting a couple of months back between the developers and the council, or at least, the council leader, Rob Stewart. Someone sent me a link to a secretly-filmed video, which I can no longer find, but fortunately I took a few screen grabs which you can see below.
Stewart is the one in the dark suit and Bailey is the grey-headed geezer.
This is all run-of-the-mill stuff for a Labour council, but now protesters are arguing something very odd may have happened around the time the outline planning application (2010/1451) was received by the council on 17 September, 2010.
This was during a period when the city was enjoying a respite from Labour rule with a Lib Dem-led alliance in charge. Which of course meant that Bailey’s political connections would have counted for naught.
What’s being suggested is that during a process of digitisation in 2010, by the council’s officers, the boundary of the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was moved so that the land on which the housing development is now planned was somehow moved outside the AONB. Here’s a BBC report.
Now if this suggestion is true, then it could scupper the whole development. If the boundary change was deliberate rather than error, then who might be responsible? Names of people – who may or may not be connected with Lawrence y Garreg Wen – carry on zephyrs wafting up from Mumbles.
Anyone with information is welcome to get in touch, with the usual guarantee of anonymity. Either use the contact box in the sidebar or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE 03.11.2018: The whole thing has now been put on hold by the ‘Welsh’ Government. It seems Swansea council has the power to refuse planning permission but it does not have the power to grant planning permission.
UPDATE 07.11.2018: In a strange twist, Swansea council’s planning committee has unanimously voted to approve the scheme. Does this mean that the Labour Party in Swansea is starting to stand up to London’s management team in Cardiff? Does it suggest that opponents of the scheme may not be as representative of the wider public as they might like to believe?
A LITTLE PLACE IN THE WEST
You may recall that the chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, Mark Vincent James, has a keen personal interest in property, with properties of his own in Cardiff Bay. I wrote about this in Baywatch and Baywatch 2.
Now I learn that he is branching out with a company called Cartrefi Croeso Cyfyngedig (CCC, geddit?) This report from 6 June tells us, among other things, that, “The council is the sole shareholder in Cartrefi Croeso, which will have five directors – two council officers, one councillor and two external appointees.”
As I say, that was early June, here we are at the end of October and according to Companies House there are just two directors, both employees of the council, and therefore answerable to Mark James not the elected representatives. But James’s hold over this new company doesn’t end there.
So we now have a company, Cartrefi Croeso Cyf, using public money, run by people answerable only to Mark James, but with no democratic accountability whatsoever. What the hell is the Plaid Cymru-led council doing?
A regular source whose judgement I trust reminds me that Cartrefi Croeso is another arms-length company of the kind that Mark James seems to favour as a way of running and controlling things without having to worry about answering to those who pay his salary. Or anyone else.
Another such company is CWM Environmental Ltd. (Carmarthenshire Waste Management.) Something similar has happened to social care, and leisure services will be next. While looming at Delta Lakes is the Wellness Centre Village, where the lame shall be made to walk, one-eyed Scarlets’ supporters will be blessed with 20/20 vision . . . and some shifty buggers will make a fortune from the public purse thanks to Mark Vincent James.
From the perspective of a man like Mark James setting up private companies run by his placemen offers many advantages. Like some Mafia don he controls things but his underlings take any flak. Being private companies they are not subject to Freedom of Information requests (as they would be as in-house council departments). And of course rules on the use of the Welsh language do not apply.
It is quite amazing how, in a Western democracy, the employee of a public body can take over that body and run it as if it were some private company he had created himself! Which would be bad enough, but neither the elected representatives of those that employ him, nor the superior level of government that should be holding him to account, are prepared to do anything!
But as I keep saying, Wales has more in common with the third world than with Western Europe: Poverty, colonialism, exploitation, colonisation, widespread corruption, no oversight and monitoring of public officials and public bodies, etc., etc.
A FAIT ACCOMPLI
Midnight yesterday was the deadline for submissions in a consultation process launched on July 10 about the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) to farmers. It’s been pretty clear for some time that the whole issue is being controlled from London and that the management team in Cardiff docks is simply doing what it’s told, and saying what it’s told to say.
Though in fairness it was all play-acting, for his masters had decided the outcome long in advance. The showboating and the bluster, the trips to Edinburgh, the ‘strong words’ for Mrs May’s government, were designed to placate a certain audience that in Wales often seems to care more about the EU than it does about Wales.
As a direct consequence of the Labour management team agreeing that the London Government could effectively withdraw BPS we now face the destruction of Welsh upland farming, together with the jobs, plus the language and the culture, farming sustains.
But this has little to do directly with Brexit, for if Carwyn Jones had not surrendered powers to London Welsh farmers could be receiving the same treatment as their Scottish counterparts, who have been guaranteed the continuation of the Basic Payment Scheme.
The sad little mouthpieces of the collaborationist regime in Cardiff docks, are reading from scripts prepared for them by civil servants like those you see above, one of whom has been heard to say that he hates farmers! Making it clear that Welsh farmers are to be forced from their land to make way for more English settlers. I wrote about it in The Welsh Clearances.
I can hear the objections – ‘But you misrepresent the proposals, Jac!’ Do I? Let the readers decide.
Funding is to be withdrawn from farmers and given to environmentalists, ‘re-wilders’ and others without whose help Mother Nature would simply give up and go home. The losers will almost all be Welsh, while the winners will be overwhelmingly English, but we’re expected to believe that this is pure coincidence.
Though it must be said, that over many years there have been some people (especially in Plaid Cymru) who have been very supportive of this replacement population. In fact, some seem to have identified more strongly with incoming ‘environmentalists’ than with their own people.
While Remain fanatics argue that farmers have brought it on themselves by voting for Brexit. Ignoring the fact that this is a decision taken by the London government using Brexit as a pretext.
Wake up! This is undisguised colonialism. Taking land off the natives is what our masters are good at, they’ve been doing it for centuries. That so much Welsh land is still in Welsh hands is an affront to everyone in whose veins runs the blood of pith-helmeted district officers and their crinolined memsahibs.
THE DISASTER OF DEVOLUTION
Reading this blog can I’m told be both entertaining and informative, but often depressing. (It’s the same writing it, but I take my ‘medicine’.) While things at the moment may look more depressing than usual I’m strangely – perhaps perversely – encouraged by recent developments.
First, the crushing defeat dished out to Leanne Wood in the Plaid Cymru leadership election made her acolytes realise how little support there is for niche politics. And if there is little support within Plaid Cymru for such nonsense then there’s even less support in the wider population. But then, when you debate issues in echo chambers you can persuade yourself that everybody is discussing what you and a tiny group of friends think is important.
That said, I can’t see Plaid Cymru getting its act together over the longer term. It will fall back into its old ways, because despite being a minority, the niche left knows how to inveigle itself into positions of influence and authority, and to intimidate others into silence. The ‘nationalists’ will have to reach some compromise with LW’s supporters.
Which means that eventually, a new party will be needed to prioritise the needs and interests of Welsh people while working towards the independent state that alone can permanently safeguard those needs and interests. Ein Gwlad already exists, and will grow into that role.
Looking at the wider picture it should now be obvious that devolution is a sham. But worse than being a sham, devolution, and the existence of a ‘Welsh’ Government, allows the UK government to get away with things that might have been very difficult without devolution.
Let’s take a few very recent examples to explain what I mean.
THE FLINT RING
This ‘initiative’ came from Cadw, which is just English Heritage West, ensuring a ‘safe’ and acceptable interpretation of Welsh history. That being so, we can be sure that the Flint Ring idea originated over the border.
To give an example of how Cadw operates I’ll go back a couple of years to something I found on its website. Cadw was promoting, “It’s 1295 and peace reigns in Caernarfon”, before going on to paint a picture of English soldiers flirting with Welsh maids. (Yes, honestly!)
The truth is of course that in 1294/5 Wales was in rebellion, and Caernarfon Castle was taken by Madog ap Llywelyn’s men. Any English soldiers still in the castle would either have been lying dead somewhere or, if they were lucky, languishing in the dungeons.
After I put out a tweet Cadw immediately took the page down. But why did the body entrusted with interpreting and presenting Welsh history get it so wrong, giving out a picture of Welsh and English living happily together in conquered Wales, us Welsh not at all resentful?
Shit! I’ve just answered my own question.
Interpreting a colonial people’s history is fundamental to maintaining a hold over that people. This is Cadw’s role in Wales. (And of course, ensuring that no Welsh are employed at our castles and other monuments.)
Far easier to do this with a Welsh name and the pretence that Cadw is an agency of a ‘Welsh’ Government.
PRINCE OF WALES BRIDGE
Yes, I know, this was announced by Alun Cairns, Conservative Secretary of State for Wales, but Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones was involved from very early on, and to a considerable degree Jones’s approval was used to justify the whole thing. A kind of joint enterprise, sharing the blame.
Had the naming been imposed directly from London there would have been far more opposition, maybe even from within the Labour Party. Devolution served to confuse what was a clear, colonialist imposition.
This was another clear, colonialist imposition. But because the ‘Welsh’ Government, and Natural Resources Wales were so co-operative, and so devious about their involvement, it served to confuse the picture. It left those objecting uncertain who to blame.
Which, again, could not have happened without the ‘shield’ of devolution.
The ‘M4 improvements’ is a long-running saga.
‘Business’ believes that the M4 must be upgraded to do away with bottlenecks and speed up travel between England and Cardiff. Most politicians seem to agree.
Late in 2013 the UK/English government gave the ‘Welsh’ government power to borrow up to £1bn to spend on the M4. On Monday we learnt from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there was now an extra £300m available, but only if it is spent on the M4.
Huffing and puffing, millionaire socialist contender for the purely figurehead positions of leader of the English Labour Party in Wales and First Minister, Mark Drakefraud, insisted it was up to AMs how the money was spent.
Small but perfectly formed SoS Alun Cairns retorted by saying that the ‘Welsh’ Government had asked for the money specifically for the M4. ‘Liar’ liar, pants on fire!’ shouted Drakefraud, at which point the exchange got too highbrow for this simple old Swansea Jack.
The bottom line is that improving the M4 will help England far more than Wales because improving communications to peripheral regions invariably works against those peripheral regions. It means what makes them attractive can be reached easier and what makes such regions valuable can shipped out faster.
If the M4 ‘improvements’ go ahead jobs will be lost because it will be easier to serve ‘South Wales’ from depots and offices in England, but Wales’s cheaper homes will be brought within reach of more English commuters to Bristol and the Thames Valley.
What the A55 has done for the north on a bigger scale.
How much easier it is to perpetrate this con with the help of a ‘Welsh’ Government that can’t see beyond Cardiff – and then get the silly buggers to put the whole country in debt to pay for it! Self-financing colonialism.
Just imagine no devolution, and the UK government saying it wanted to upgrade the M4 but that Welsh local authorities were going to pay for it.
UPDATE: On the very day this post appeared this letter was published in the Western Mail. I have no idea who David Gwyn Watts of Milford Haven is, but he’s right. (Though I think the Letters Editor went a bit overboard with ‘doom’.)
As you’ve read above, Welsh farmers will be forced from their land in a policy worthy of comparison with Clearances or ethnic cleansing. The orders come from London. Civil servants answering to London will implement the strategy in Wales. And Welsh politicians will pretend it’s their policy out of a combination of vanity, congenital deviousness, and contempt for those who’ll suffer.
If a government minister had stood up in the House of Commons and said, ‘Her Majesty’s Government plans to clear Welsh farmers from their ancestral land and replace them with English environmentalists, ‘re-wilders’ and the like’, there would have been uproar in Wales. There would have been demonstrations, riots even.
But no, get some stupid woman in Cardiff to pretend it’s a decision of her ‘government’ and it confuses the natives. Use devolution as a ‘screen’ and as with the Flint Ring, and The PoW Bridge, and the toxic mud, and the M4 money, and a host of other damaging schemes, we won’t know who’s really to blame, and who we should be attacking.
This confusion can only arise because of devolution. And because of the way London uses devolution, and because of the way our politicians allow devolution to be used. Strip away devolution and we’ll see colonialism for what it really is.
Forget the comforting bollocks about devolution being a ‘badge of nationhood’. Welsh nationhood is being destroyed behind the façade of devolution. Devolution is a Trojan horse.
I predict with certainty that if there is another Tryweryn or another Investiture, it will be presented as a decision of our wonderful ‘Welsh’ Government, and because of that, it will be accepted by more Welsh people than if it had come in the form of a diktat from London.
If we had a vote to abolish the Assembly, I would vote to abolish. And I wouldn’t need to think twice about it.
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.