Here’s another ‘off the cuff’ kind of post; but what I’m going to write about illustrates a growing problem. Growing due to the increasing unpopularity of the so-called ‘Welsh Government’.
WELSH MEDIA: FASCISTS AND FOREIGNERS OPPOSE 20MPH
The big issue this week has been the introduction of the 20mph speed limit across the country. I wrote about it in last weekend’s posting, ’20mph, A Disaster Unfolds’.
But perhaps the legislation has been overshadowed by ‘that’ petition, which at the time of writing is heading towards 400,000 signatures. Though the so-called ‘Welsh’ media has tried hard to discredit it and those who’ve signed it.
Here’s an example from yesterday’s Western Mail. Despite 95% of the signatures coming from within Wales, Llais y Sais wants us to know that people in 51 countries have signed.
There’s even an insert headed: ‘Where the global opposition has come from’. Seven from Germany, one from Hungary . . .
But what that rag is attacking is in fact perfectly reasonable. Welsh people living abroad, and English people in the Marches and elsewhere who regularly drive in Wales, are perfectly entitled to voice their opposition.
Then, at the bottom of the page, there’s a carefully worded piece inviting us to think that opponents of the 20mph restrictions are violent individuals. Probably ‘far right’.
This is not journalism; this is naked propaganda.
But then, when, like the Western Mail, you depend for financial survival on public notices and advertisements paid for by the ‘Welsh Government’, What ya gonna do?
But it was ever thus. It’s just a bit more obvious now. And it’s moving up a notch.
Which is the cue for me to tackle the meat of this issue.
NUDGE, NUDGE – WHO’S THERE?
For this week also saw the release of a bizarre poll showing that more people support the 20mph restrictions than oppose them. And it was odd for a number of reasons.
First, there’s the ‘slanted’ question, worded to achieve a desired outcome. Hoping “Where cars mix with pedestrians and cyclists” will conjure up images of boy racers screeching through pedestrianised areas, knocking over old ladies and kiddies on bikes.
This is called ‘nudging’. But even this doesn’t fully account for the ‘findings’.
By way of comparison, here’s a survey from WalesOnline. It certainly overstates the strength of opposition, but it’s closer to the truth than the survey we just looked at.
Then there’s this YouGov poll, which still shows an almost two to one majority against.
No survey I have seen, and no other form of evidence, suggests anything other than a big majority against widespread 20mph speed limits.
The other thing I found strange was that the survey doesn’t tell us who commissioned it, which is normal practice. So who produced that slanted survey?
The answer would appear to be Redfield & Wilton Strategies. So what can we learn about them? Well, not a lot. Individuals named Redfield and Wilton may not exist.
Which takes us on to the next section of this post. Follow me . . .
So why is the company called Redfield & Wilton? Is it to make it sound more English? Whatever the answer, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that it’s an attempt to deceive. Which is not good for an organisation trading on credibility.
Even so, it’s reasonable to assume that Rodrigues has background in polling and market research? Well, er . . . no.
I find that very, very strange. If ‘niche’ interests can be mentioned, why not a new company being regularly quoted in the media, and apparently being used by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic?
One more company needs to be mentioned. This is Alghanim Capital Ltd. Rodrigues was a director along with Kuwaitis Abdulwahab Alghanem and Fahad Alghanim who, despite the slightly different spellings, I take to be related.
Abdulwahab is described on the Companies House entry as a ‘civil servant’ in Kuwait, while Fahad is said to be a student in the USA.
Their line of business was: ‘Retail sale via mail order houses or via Internet’. Mmm.
Alghanim Capital was formed in October 2018, and folded without seemingly doing anything. So why was it formed at all? This is the sort of company behaviour that gets my whiskers twitching.
But even if it was all innocent, how did Rodrigues meet the Kuwaitis?
Well, I assume that’s where it comes from, but my quick search didn’t find it. Though I’m sure it’s genuine, because the font and the colouring match, and the rascal who used it seemed to think he was putting me down, or weakening my case.
“Self-commissioned“? Does that mean that Bruno Rodrigues and his little team decide amongst themselves what surveys to do, and then publish them? Or maybe get some media outlet to pay for their whimsical and random findings?
I don’t buy that. I certainly don’t think it accounts for all of their output.
The more I’ve thought about Redfield & Wilton the stronger the possibility has become in my mind that this outfit may not do any research or polling. It simply acts as a channel for what others want to promote.
Let’s say you want to push the message that more people in Wales support 20mph restrictions than oppose them, then you engage Redfield & Wilton in order to make the message look more credible than if it had come from a source that is obviously biased.
Though the R&W record is not impressive. Because for an organisation dealing in statistics, Bruno and his pals are not very good at figuring. They often seem to get things horribly wrong.
Which, when coupled with their pro-Labour bias (pro-Democrat in US polls), makes them look rather stupid. Here’s a recent example.
Bookies, as we know, like to have facts and reliable figures because there’s always money riding on them. So I was amused to read this piece in PoliticalBetting.com expose how horrendously wrong Redfield & Wilton got a recent Scottish poll.
So who in Wales might have been desperate enough to ask R&W to put out this phoney 20mph survey?
Obviously, there’s the ‘Welsh Government’. But would they run the risk?
A more likely possibility must be the company that Drakeford and his clowns have employed to promote the 20mph restrictions. I’m referring now to Lynn Global. For this is their line of work.
Lynn would regard what I’m suggesting as ‘countering misinformation’ and therefore perfectly legitimate. Even desirable. To most people it would be lying to get your own way.
If I’m right, then we are on a dangerous path. Let me explain why.
It’s common knowledge that in recent years opinion polls, especially on politics, have been used to influence public opinion rather than to gauge it and report it.
This explains why so many polls have been spectacularly wrong; on Brexit, on Trump’s victory in 2016, on the size of the Conservative majority in 2019. All because too many pollsters allowed their left-liberal or woke prejudices to intrude.
Returning to the Redfield & Wilton survey, as I see it, there are two alternatives: either the poll result is distorted with bias, or else it’s completely and deliberately fabricated. Neither option should be acceptable in an open and democratic society.
Good governments can stand on their records, on what they’ve delivered for their people. Only liars, incompetents and aspiring totalitarians need a bought media, ‘behavioural sciences’, and phoney surveys.
My intention was to start winding down this blog, spend more time with my wife, grand-children, books, Malbec . . . but things keep cropping up. That said, it’s very unlikely I shall undertake major new investigations. Diolch yn fawr.
I had planned to put this article out some six months ago, but other things kept cropping up.
But we’re here now, so let’s turn our attention once again to the handsome old pile that is Plas Glynllifon, just off the A499, near Llandwrog, south west of Caernarfon.
Those of you who’ve followed this saga – and there are many of you – will be familiar with the outline of the story and the main players, so you can probably skip the first two sections, which I’ve put in for newcomers.
Though I have to admit that going through previous postings helped refresh my memory, because a hell of a lot has happened.
The reason for returning to Glynllifon is partly because I want to introduce the new owner . . . and it’s not the guy mentioned by Owen Hughes of the Daily Post in this article.
Also, because I’ve learnt of a Danish connection, and these new Scandinavian links take us back to Gwynedd. Small world, eh!
Even though this is another biggie, it’s broken up into manageable chunks. So take your time, follow the links, get the full picture.
And don’t expect anything next week!
PAUL AND ROWENA WILLIAMS
The first article in this saga, Weep for Wales, appeared in June 2018. When I wrote it I had no idea I’d be writing number 19 over three years later. (If you’ve got a rainy day you could go through 1 – 18!)
It all began when my attention was drawn to the sudden closure of a pub and a hotel, both in Powys. People lost their jobs, contractors and suppliers went unpaid, all of which resulted in a lot of anger in Knighton, Presteigne, and the area round about.
But that was a sham. The real owners were still Paul and Rowena Williams, who wanted out, so Part(d)ridge agreed to go through the charade of taking over Leisure & Development Ltd, the company that owned the Powys hotels (and other properties).
This company had been set up in January 2015 so that the Williamses could ‘buy’ properties they already owned. With ludicrously inflated prices attached to every one, which then enabled them to borrow millions of pounds from the NatWest Bank.
The latest figures show that following the collapse of Leisure & Development Ltd, and after liquidators had sold off the properties, the company still owes NatWest £6.2m.
To give you an example of the kind of inflated valuations that can account for a sum like that let’s look at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne. According to the Land Registry Leisure & Development paid £3,487,049 for the property in August 2015.
Admittedly, that was a knockdown price because the administrators wanted shot of it, but even so, ‘The Rad’ wasn’t worth a quarter of what Paul and Rowena Williams claim to have paid for it in 2015.
The focus for the Gruesome Twosome shifted north in 2016 when they bought Plas Glynllifon. The purchase made through their company, Plas Glynllifon Ltd. The Land Registry title document tells us that the sum paid for Plas Glynllifon was £630,000.
The two directors at the end were Rowena Claire Williams and Myles Andrew Cunliffe. More on Cunliffe in a moment.
Even though the Williamses paid £630,000 for the old pile the only accounts ever filed want us to believe that Plas Glynllifon Ltd’s assets total £10,610,319. Almost totally explained by Paul and Rowena Williams putting in £10,123,910.
Theoretically, this injection of cash could be explained by the £11m+ Paul and Rowena Williams are supposed to have received from Part(d)ridge for Leisure & Development Ltd.
But then they seemed to undermine that possibility by presenting themselves as creditors to the administrators handling Leisure & Development, claiming they were still owed the £11,751,698 ‘sale’ price.
Which raises the question – if they hadn’t received that money from Part(d)ridge, where did the £10m+ ‘invested’ in Plas Glynllifon come from?
‘O what a tangled web we weave . . . ‘
As 2018 drew to a close, with Paul and Rowena sitting down with a cup of hot cocoa after writing their letters to Santa, they ruefully accepted that the good times were over.
For nobody – not even the ever-gullible ‘Welsh Government’ – was going to give them grants for Plas Glynllifon, and no bank or alternative funder was going to loan them money.
With Cunliffe saying Plas Glynllifon ‘would be open in months’.
In that article Paul Williams described Cunliffe as a ‘finance guy’. Which is one way of putting it.
Now the thing to understand about Cunliffe is that he was always working with or for others. He never had the cash himself to renovate Plas Glynllifon, or Seiont Manor (the other property in the area owned by Paul and Rowena Williams).
As I say, Cunliffe had associates, among them, Jon Disley, known in certain circles as the ‘King of Marbella‘. Described in this report from the Sun last year as a ‘career conman’.
Disley is said to live near to Blackpool, in Preston.
The modus operandi described in this Blackpool FC forum is, ‘Stocky scammer Disley was alleged to have bought failing companies, then emptied their bank accounts before they crashed’.
This is often done by advertising loans in the hope of attracting business people who are desperate for money but have been turned down by banks. This is how Goldmann and Sons Plc operated, as we see with the image below from the now closed Twitter account.
You’ll be hearing more about Goldmann and Sons in a minute.
Of course, one drawback is that failing companies are unlikely to have much in their bank accounts.
But there’s another method of making money from a failing company, or a company set up to fail. The latter being favoured by the Duggans of Bryn Llys, who were mentioned in the previous article on this blog.
It goes something like this . . . set up a company, open credit accounts with assorted suppliers, order as much as you can on those accounts, flog off what is supplied (for cash), then let the company fold with the bills unpaid.
It’s an old model, often known as ‘bankruptcy fraud’. There are of course variations.
One is played out in this scene from the Sopranos, in which Tony rips off suppliers to the company run by his old school friend Davey Scatino. Davey’s made the mistake of owing Tony money.
Though in the beginning, the shares in this parent company were all held by Islandwide Advisory Ltd, an Isle of Man company formed March 31, 2010, by Dennis Rogers.
By the time Goldmann and Sons Plc was dissolved, on June 18, 2019, most of the shares were, according to documents filed at Companies House, held by Myles Cunliffe, in three separate allocations.
The names Cunliffe, Rogers, and Disley’s son-in-law Thomas Ellis, crop up again and again in connection with the name Goldmann. And of course, they ran other companies.
All of which seem to be dissolved / liquidated, abandoned when the spotlight fell on them, or else they just outlived their usefulness. Click on these links for Cunliffe, Rogers and Ellis.
There must be others I’ve missed. Which is understandable because so many of them were ‘mayfly’ companies, here and gone before we – or Companies House – knew anything about them.
The original address for all the Goldmann companies was Queens Court, 24 Queen Street, Manchester M2 5HX. Then, at various dates between March and August in 2018, they all moved to the 2nd Floor, 9 Portland Street, Manchester M1 3BE.
But in addition to the three mentioned, we find interesting directors with some of the other Goldmann companies.
A couple of weeks ago I received a Twitter DM from Denmark. (Not something I can say very often!) The message read:
I'm a Danish investigative journalist and I'm looking into a person who was a director of company half owned by Goldmann & Sons PLC.
As stated, Goldmann and Sons Plc may have served as a holding company for the others in the stable. And as you’ve seen, there were quite a few nags there, some of which changed their name, and all of which – beginning in April 2019 – went out of business.
Though the company my contact was interested in was one I’d overlooked.
My person of interest is named Benny Falk and he was the owner of Goldmann & Sons (Thailand) before it changed name to The European Clothing Company.
In its short life, 18.01.2018 to 31.03.2020, this company submitted no accounts and – as my source suggested – the sole director was Benny Falk. Initially, the 100 shares were divided equally between Falk and Goldmann and Sons Plc.
But Goldmann and Sons Plc pulled out of Benny’s company. In documents lodged with Companies House it was claimed that it ceased to exercise control 18.01.2018, and the shares were transferred to Falk 20.01.2018.
Though I’m suspicious of the documents supplying this information because they were not received by Companies House until a year later. I believe they were back-dated.
Which would mean that Goldmann and Sons Plc severed ties with Benny Falk a month after Cunliffe appeared in Glynllifon, which in turn resulted in him starring in the local media, and also on this blog.
I lacked both the time and the inclination to go through all of the 50 (or 79) companies registered to Klaus Garde Nielsen in the UK, but one that caught my eye was Profui Ltd. Because the original company address was 3 Bron Trefor in Criccieth . . . about 15 miles from Plas Glynllifon!
This may have been the address of the company treasurer, Geoffrey Michael Pugh.
Naturally, I got to wondering about Geoffrey Michael Pugh, and so I went to the Companies House website, where I found that he had been secretary to dozens of companies.
What these companies had in common was that the directors were all Scandinavian; mainly Danish, but sometimes we find a Swede or a Norwegian. Also, that they were either ‘mayflies’, often returning a loss, and invariably filing as dormant companies.
But a few have lasted the course. One being Rasmussens Boligudlejning Ltd. ‘Boligudlejning’ translates as ‘house rental’. Presumably this company operates in Denmark – so why is it registered in the UK and using as its address a terraced house, and a social housing property, in a village in Eryri?
Before the eponymous Poul Erik Rasmussen took over and changed the name this company was known as Dansk Shelf Services No. 8 Ltd. And the original director was Jesper Lund Hansen.
We find Hansen also engulfed in a swarm of ‘mayfly’ companies, some registered with a Danish address, others in Gwynedd, at Garndolbenmaen, and also in Cricieth.
One that stands out is Biszy Ltd, which ran from November 30, 2006 until July 6, 2021. Despite lasting almost 15 years it only ever filed as a dormant company. Why keep a company alive for so long if it’s – apparently – doing nothing?
I began to wonder if we’re dealing here with some Scandinavian tax avoidance scheme. Perhaps if you register a company in the UK you pay less tax. But then I dismissed the idea because, and as I’ve said, most of the companies of which Pugh was secretary lasted for a very short time.
Something else working against the tax avoidance theory was that a few of the directors I found were Danes living in France and Germany.
So what the hell is going on?
In the hope of finding out I wrote to the two addresses I found for Geoffrey Pugh on the Companies House website, in Garndolbenmaen and Cricieth. I asked him to explain his association with so many Danish and other businessmen, some of whom are criminals.
No reply has been received.
I also wrote to Grŵp Cynefin, asking why their property is involved.
I received a perfunctory acknowledgement last Thursday, promising to look into it. I have received nothing since.
All these Hansens, Jensens and Nielsens are making me quite giddy, so before I fall over and frighten the cat again, I’m going to move on.
UPDATE: Received an e-mail this afternoon from Grŵp Cynefin saying:
'I have made enquiries here and the person you refer to, Geoffrey Michael Pugh, died in 2019. The current tenant of the property has no connection with any previous tenants. I’m unavailable this afternoon but if you need anything further I can contact you tomorrow if you’d like to pass your phone number on to me.'
I’m sorry to hear he’s dead. Though I suppose this means the questions will never be answered now.
THE NEW OWNER OF PLAS GLYNLLIFON – ‘OH NO HE’S NOT!’
If we look at what’s been filed for Dragon Investments we see that all the shares are owned by Property Alliance Group Ltd of Trafford Park, Manchester. This not the ‘joint venture’ suggested in his report by Owen Hughes.
Running Property Alliance Group is someone we’ve met before in the form of David Russell. He was ‘introduced’ to me in a bizarre and anonymous letter I received in June 2020. Read all about it in Weep for Wales 18.
UPDATE 08.03.2022: Last November I received a Twitter DM from a Conservative Party councillor in Leicestershire (and it’s not often I can say that either!). It seems he is the new owner of the house just referred to, ‘Mountain View’.
He asked me to remove references to his new property from this article, which I might have done had it not been for that offensive name. He also informed me: ‘ . . . the former hotel is nearing completion into 6 separate units for sale as holiday apartments. The work undertaken appears to have been done to a high standard’.
Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t; but it certainly appears that the work was done without planning permission.
All the shares for these four companies are held by Dragon Investments, which means, indirectly, David Russell. And all four have taken out loans with Together Commercial Finance, which took such a hit with Paul and Rowena Williams.
So, the picture for Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor is that they are now owned by David Russell of Manchester, apparently operating through his proxy, David Paul Savage.
And why be surprised? For if we go back to the County Court judgement handed down in Caernarfon in May 14 last year we see David Russell mentioned.
Making it clear that he’d been involved for some time.
UPDATE 08.03.2022: Sad news; Plas Glynllifon was broken into, as this report from the Daily Post (o4.03.2022) tells us). It breaks my heart, it do, to think of criminals wandering around Plas Glynllifon. Whatever next!
WHAT GOES AROUND . . .
Weep for Wales started off with a couple of scammers upsetting people in Powys and landing in Gwynedd.
They were succeeded at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor by Disley, Cunliffe and their associates; with their continental property deals, and the companies claiming links to the Middle East, and the Far East.
This eventually connected with some shady Danes – this despite the gang being such devoted Brexiteers! (Scroll down to the section Myles Cunliffe et al.)
And through those and other Danes we end up in Cambrian Terrace, Garndolbenmaen.
The curtain rises on the next act and it looks promising, for already we have been misled as to who actually owns Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor.
So take your seats, ladies and gentlemen.
Wales is up Shit Creek.
On the one hand, we have Unionist politicians supporting anything that strengthens England’s hold over us; be that holiday homes, economic exploitation or outright colonisation.
On the other hand, we have the ‘progressive’ consensus in Corruption Bay that is entirely different . . . but, er, supports exactly the same things, and then puts body into their meat-free cawl with pressing concerns such as women with penises.
What does this have to do with what you’ve been reading about?
What I’ve been writing about, in this piece and so many others, could only happen in a dysfunctional country where a Vichy political class has divorced itself entirely from the material concerns and necessities of the people they claim to serve.
A country in which con men are welcomed as ‘investors’ by politicians who are nothing but floaters in the lavatory bowl of Welsh politics. A country ‘served’ by a media so supine and useless that these bastards – crooks and politicians! – get a free ride.
A country groaning under the burden of a Corruption Bay elite that doesn’t care what happens to us and our communities – just as long as they can continue enjoying their pointless, parasitical existence.
A pox on them all! Every last one of them; the useless, lying bastards.
If social cleansing is the term used to describe the removal of these groups from one area, then it’s entirely reasonable to use the term social dumping to describe the other end of the process. Especially when the dumping is often done without the approval, or even the knowledge, of the new host community.
This is what is happening in Wales. It’s happening in our cities and larger towns, it’s happening in run-down coastal resorts, it’s happening in small rural towns, and it’s happening in the communities of the former southern coalfield. That’s why it’s a national problem, and must be tackled on a national level.
There are a number of reasons why this is happening, and I’m going to explore some of them in this article. I shall also use specific, and recent, examples.
Let me apologise for this post being a long one; but as usual it’s broken down into discrete segments for you to consume at your leisure.
THE THIRD SECTOR AND THE LABOUR PARTY
I have written once or twice about the third sector, so regular readers will know of what I speak. For any newcomers, it’s that burgeoning sector of Welsh life that likes to present its component parts as charities, when they are in effect publicly-funded companies.
The third sector takes hundreds of millions of pounds from the Welsh public purse in order to care for those who are homeless, those with substance abuse issues, those released from prison, those with other needs (real or imagined), and of course there are organisations dedicated to combating all manner of alleged prejudices against women, the BME community, and assorted gender identifications.
It is a world with its own values and vocabulary, where duplication and competition are rife, and with most third sector businesses run by middle class Englishwomen with names like Harriet or Henrietta.
Did I mention competition? As this FoI response from the ‘Welsh Government’ told me, Wales has no fewer than 48 outfits ‘tackling homelessness’. Though seeing as the letter is dated December 2017 we can confidently predict that the number is now over 50. In fact, I shall soon introduce you to a new diner at the feast.
This situation has obtained for 20 years. The trickle of third sector grant-grabbers began almost once the devolution referendum result was announced in September 1997 and very quickly became a torrent. ‘But wait!’, you exclaim, ‘if we have so many well-funded organisations why is the problem getting worse? It must surely mean that thousands of Welsh are being made homeless every year’.
What we see at work here is human nature, and the realisation that if solving a problem puts you out of a job, well, you’ll make damn sure you don’t solve it. Which then links with the second part of your question, for Wales cannot provide enough homeless people to sustain this industry, so homeless people are imported into or attracted to Wales. In other words, the social dumping referred to in the title.
‘But why doesn’t the Welsh Government tell these people to stop wasting Welsh public funding by bringing in homeless people from outside of Wales?’ And drug addicts, and ex-cons, and victims of domestic abuse, and . . .
Because . . . it suits the ‘Welsh Labour Government’ to present a picture of poverty and deprivation in order to blame somebody else and keep mug punters voting for the party.
In fact, these pods seem to be something of a staple on the Argus.
The pods themselves are the work of Amazing Grace Spaces (AGS), an outfit that was launched as a charity 30 June 2017 by Caroline and Stuart Johnson. You’ll see on the website that, in addition to the emergency pods, AGS also converts shipping containers into low cost housing.
According to the website, these converted shipping containers are already in use with Wrexham Council and Merthyr Merthyr Valleys Homes.
Other trustees recruited by AGS include John Andrew Forward, who is also a trustee of Bedwas Pentecostal Church and Bethesda Pentecostal Church.
It would appear that those involved with Amazing Grace Spaces are of the happy-clappy persuasion, those given to ‘outreach’ work among the vulnerable in our midst. And, indeed beyond Wales.
Bethesda Pentecostal Church (Charity Number 1050629) seems to have been in business for a while, whereas the Bedwas establishment (1050629) has only just been registered with the Charity Commission. Which would suggest an expanding network.
Turning to Bethesda, we see that the lead there appears to be Rev. Stephen Davies, who is also a trustee of the Ebenezer Pentecostal Church in Fellowship with Assemblies of God (1050644), and Hills Community Church Aberbargoed (1050499). (Ebenezer is to be found in Rogerstone, Newport.)
There is very little money involved with these churches, and I’m sure that they do a lot of good work, but I mention them because they clearly form a network, and others in this network cause me concern.
This tweet by Amazing Grace Spaces mentions my worry – Green Pastures.
Green Pastures (GP) operates with or through ‘partners’, and the business model is explained in this panel from the Green Pastures website. In essence, if you fancy going into the hostel business then you find a property that GP will buy and then you lease it from GP using your tenants’ housing benefit to pay the lease.
Scrolling down to the ‘Partners’ map, we see five locations in Wales. Two are in the north, on Deeside and in Colwyn Bay, to serve north west England and those who have been dumped in Wales from that region.
Predictably, Amazing Grace Spaces of Newport is also there, but what of the other two locations?
The first is in Llanfyllin, a nice little town in the gentle hills of Montgomeryshire, where we find a ‘community hub’. So there’s nothing to detain us here.
Of more interest is the final Green Pastures ‘partner’, Blaenycwm Chapel in Treorci. Where “Ralph Upton is the minister, 22 years experience in full time ministry a lot of this among the homeless, those affected by the criminal justice system and substance misusers.” When he’s not in the Rhondda, “Ralph also ministers in Ethiopia.”
Ralph Upton is also connected with Valleys of Hope (which unfortunately couldn’t find a Welsh flag). Under the ‘About us‘ tab you will read that Ralph was a prison chaplain.
Which makes sense when we turn to the Valleys of Hope ‘Wales’ tab, where we read, “With the opening of H.M.P. Berwyn helping the churches to get ready to welcome ex offenders in North Wales has become very important”.
The back-story: A massive prison was forced on north Wales, far bigger than needed, in which most of the inmates are from England. One fear always was that once released, these English prisoners would becomes Wales’ responsibility. Here it is spelled out. We must “get ready to welcome ex offenders in North Wales”.
I think it’s the use of the word ‘welcome’ that really pisses me off.
Locking up your criminals in a neighbouring country and then expecting that country to look after them when they’re released strikes me as a very good example of social dumping.
UPDATE 10.07.2019: A prison inspector’s report just released tells us that, in March this year, 75% of the prisoners at HMP Berwyn were from England. In a Radio Cymru programme this morning it was also said that of these English prisoners 50% stay in Wales after they are released.
That means that hundreds of English criminals are endangering Welsh people and Welsh communities – and we are paying for it.
Last week Gwynedd’s Planning Committee discussed an application to convert the old Market Hall in Blaenau Ffestiniog into 14 flats. No decision was taken but the planning officers recommended approval, and now objectors have three weeks to put together their case.
The application was submitted by Paul McCready of Mossley Hill Investments Gwynedd Ltd of Cheltenham, and the agent was Evolve Designs (NW) Ltd of Merseyside.
Evolve Designs is a company formed as recently as April 2017 with the only accounts so far filed showing total net assets (liabilities) of (£1,991). A one-man band with the solo instrumentalist being a James Robert O’Rourke.
Though as the Land Registry title document tells us, the owner of the Blaenau building is Microface Ltd of Wigan. Who bought the property in 2010 for £82,500. It was put up for auction in February 2018 with an asking price of £150,000, but obviously failed to sell. (Or if it did sell, then the Land Registry has not been informed.)
The applicant for planning permission, Mossley Hill Investments Gwynedd Ltd, belongs to a veritable stable of companies . . . none of them thoroughbreds. In fact, some of them, just yearlings, are already on their way to the knacker’s yard.
Here’s a list I’ve drawn up of all the Mossley Hill companies I can find (there may be others!). And here it is in pdf format, where you can click on the company name to be taken to the Companies House entry for that company.
You’ll see that the original company was formed in December 2016, with Gavin Davis Barry and his missus as directors. Then there was rush of new companies in April and May last year with Barry joined by Paul McCready and Shaun Mills as directors. With two more companies formed in May and June this year with just Barry as director.
There are documents filed for the original Mossley company, Mossley Hill Investments Ltd, and these show net assets of -£53,965. (Yes, that is a minus sign.) Equally worrying is that the directors want to strike off four of the companies formed only just over a year ago!
In addition, Barry has another string of companies going under the ‘Prosperity’ handle, listed here. The nags in this stable seem to be a year or two older than those in the Mossley Hill stable with none destined for dog food. The other directors, too, are different.
What are we to make of it all?
Gavin Davis Barry specialises in cheap property. A racket comparable, perhaps, with the Green Pastures ‘partnership’ model, except that GP own the building whereas Barry may sell it on.
What could have happened with the old Market Hall in Blaenau was that, after it failed to sell at auction, the owners were approached with a deal. Barry will apply for planning permission and then, if it’s granted, either he will buy the building off Microface, or else supply tenants, an arrangement from which he’ll get a good cut.
The fact that the auction was in February 2018 and Mossley Hill Gwynedd Ltd was formed in April lends credence to this theory. For there are business people – many of whom you’ve met on this blog – who trawl property auction websites.
The outfit supplying the tenants for the flats at the Market Hall will be My Space Housing Solutions, based in Bolton and operating in northern England. The clip below and the page it’s taken from explain that My Space is in the business of ‘supported housing’.
We read that My Space “source properties based on need” and that these properties are “in the best possible community settings for each resident”.
Which rather blows this planning application out of the water, because I doubt if there is a local need for such a facility in Blaenau Ffestiniog, which means that the clients will be brought in from northern England; and will therefore be a long way from “the best possible community setting”.
Let’s be brutally frank; the only reason this application is being submitted is because a large building became available very cheaply in a run-down town where the applicant thought that lies about local benefits might get them planning permission.
Thanks to twenty years of devolution under ‘Welsh’ Labour, Wales has an abundance of cheap buildings, and countless run-down towns.
What’s the bottom line here? Well, if you were to ask me: ‘Jac would you do business with any of the companies you’ve mentioned here?’ I’d look you in the eye and answer: ‘I would indeed – immediately after joining the Soul Crew’.
If allowed, Blaenau Market Hall will be yet another example of social dumping.
To conclude this section, it’s worth pointing out how much money there is to be made from the ‘vulnerable adults’ business, by looking at the phenomenal growth of My Space Housing Solutions Ltd.
My Space was Incorporated as a company 17 October 2012 and registered as a charity 28 November 2012.
In the first accounts, for year ending 31 October 2013 the turnover was £91,117 with an operating deficit of (£29,138). The most recent available accounts, for year ending 31 October 2018, show a turnover of £11,647,551 and an operating surplus of £2,874,161.
That’s ‘Care in the community’ for you . . . preferably somebody else’s community.
As I mentioned in the previous section, Gwynedd’s planning officers have recommended approval of the social dumping in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The latest in a string of cases where planning officers have made ‘strange’ decisions.
Let’s start by reminding ourselves of events at Plas Pistyll, and the neighbouring Pistyll farm, on Llŷn. I wrote about this case in Wilmslow-sur-Mer back in September 2018.
To cut a long story short, there were a number of changes to the original planning application of 2007, to the point where what was eventually arrived at in 2018 bore little or no relation to the project that had received the original planning approval.
As with Blaenau, there was a plethora of companies under the same ‘umbrella’, this one called Natural Retreats. Towards the end we even saw US intervention in the form of a new company using the name of another company in the group that had earlier demised.
And if that wasn’t reason enough to be concerned, the England-based principals were also busy in the Highlands and cocking up the Cairn Gorm funicular railway.
But according to Gwynedd’s planners there was nothing to worry about. Natural Retreats (or whatever it’s called) is run by splendid, trustworthy chaps (whoever they are) that can be relied upon to play by the rules.
The fact that the seasonal-only (caravan replacement) chalets for which they gave planning permission have miraculously transmogrified into luxury, year-round dwellings is by the bye.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that those involved at Pistyll are crooks, they’re just unscrupulous businessmen who think rules are for other people. (And Gwynedd planners obviously agree.) But this next lot we’re going to look at are most definitely crooks.
For we move on now to Bryn Llys, at Nebo, just off the A487, and not far from Llanllyfni. I wrote about it in a compendium offering in January, one that included Gavin Lee Woodhouse (on whom the sky has recently fallen), Jimbo Lynch in Aberteifi (still thriving, for now), and the Bryn Llys crew.
Bryn Llys was a traditional Welsh dwelling. Then it was acquired by the crook Jonathan James Duggan (aka Ripley), the son of John/Jonathan Joseph Duggan. Duggan père was sent down in 2005 for six years, and described in this report as a “professional fraudster”.
Duggan’s father made the news again last year when he was arrested in Benllech, taken back to Yorkshire and banged up again.
Shane Baker, the rocking English supremacist, seems to act as Duggan’s dogsbody.
Anyway, Duggan applied to Cyngor Gwynedd for permission to build an extension to Bryn Llys. This was granted . . . but what was built was much bigger than planning permission allowed, so retrospective planning approval was applied for, and granted – for an extension that now dwarfed the original structure.
Though what was actually built exceeded even the retrospective planning approval. Made clear in the picture on the right, above.
And if you think that’s bad enough, well it gets worse, for below you can see what’s up for sale now with Rightmove. The original Bryn Llys is gone completely.
This of course has not happened overnight, it’s taken years. And throughout this period neighbours demanded enforcement action from the council, but nothing was done. Protection was also sought from North Wales Police against the intimidation locals experience from the criminal gang centred on Bryn Llys, but no protection was offered.
Bryn Llys is the most incredible planning issue that anyone has ever brought to my attention. The more I think about it, the more difficult it is to believe. But it happened. It happened in Wales. And these bastards have got away with it. Which will only encourage them and others do something similar.
The word is obviously out – ‘Come to Wales, you can get away with anything’.
And yet, it’s not too late. Cyngor Gwynedd could still send out a message that would be heard loud and clear by insisting on the demolition of ‘Bryn Llys’. But they will never do that.
Are Gwynedd’s planners afraid that Welsh people living in Abersoch might lower property values on the Cheshire Riviera?
I’m not saying that brown envelopes are involved, but if they’re not, then Gwynedd’s planners must be among the most incompetent public officials imaginable.
Wales suffers social dumping for reasons that can be summarised thus: A colonial relationship with England is encouraged by a bloated third sector and further facilitated by an abundance of suitable properties in deprived and declining communities. For reasons that perhaps only they can explain, social dumping is welcomed by too many politicians on the left who think that allowing Wales to be exploited in this manner is somehow virtuous.
Another worry, especially in rural areas, is the number of crooks involved in asset stripping, mortgage fraud, money laundering and other activities. Though maybe the bigger concern is that not only are these criminals able to get what they want from our local authorities, but they even receive grants from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, and they seem to be above the law.
Just a couple of weeks ago ITV News and the Guardian revealed what a crook Gavin ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse is – but he’s been operating with impunity in Wales for years! In fact, the ‘Welsh Government’ has been falling over itself to help him with his ultimate con – the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
There’s no doubt about it; if you’re in the social cleansing business, or mortgage fraud, asset stripping, money laundering, then Wales is the place to come.
The cops don’t seem to be to interested, you can run rings round or walk all over council officials, there’s no media worth speaking of to expose you, and the ‘Welsh Government’ will even fund you! What’s not to like!
In this latest episode I shall focus on two important matters. First, details of the liquidation of the Williams’ company Leisure & Development Ltd; followed by an Employment Tribunal held last month that saw a former employee of Paul and Rowena Williams given a substantial compensation package.
But first, let’s remind ourselves where we’re at in Gwynedd.
HOLDING OUT ON THE NORTHERN FRONT
In the previous episode I let my imagination run riot and presented you with the image of Paul Williams as Jean Gabin in Le Jour se Lève, holed up in his grubby little room waiting for the cops. But I may have jumped a scene or two because a northern source tells me that the crook may not be finished.
The great obstacle to development here is that Fronoleu can only be reached by the single-track lane running between Dolgellau and the Cross Foxes junction of the A487 with the A470. It’s highly unlikely that any traffic-increasing development will be allowed.
What my source directs me to on the sprawling Glynllifon estate is land and buildings owned by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, operating Coleg Glynllifon. Specifically, the old stables, now used as the canteen. I’m assured that Williams is showing interest.
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai has said nothing throughout this saga, but unless there’s a rabbit to pulled from the hat it’s difficult to explain why Paul and Rowena Williams are hanging on at Glynllifon.
Unless it’s because they have nowhere else to go.
‘RANSOM STRIPS’ AND RE-ENTRY PROBLEMS
A feature of Paul and Rowena Williams’ behaviour is the practice of detaching a small section from a larger holding in order to make a separate title. This then compromises the value and desirability of the larger holding without the smaller section. And of course it correspondingly increases the value of that smaller section.
In such situations, the smaller section is usually referred to as a ‘ransom strip’. This situation can often occur quite unintentionally, but in the case of the Williamses it is deliberate.
This charge, 0938 9316 0007, taken out by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd as recently as July, helps explain what I’m talking about. You’ll see that it’s made up mainly of ‘ransom strips’, small pieces of land compromising larger plots.
Let me further explain what I’m talking about with a specific example.
One of Paul and Rowena Williams’ properties is/was the Castle Inn at Wigmore, just over the border in Herefordshire. If you look at this title plan it shows clearly the original boundary, but it’s equally obvious that a chunk has been taken out.
This was done in 2015, that year when new companies were being formed, properties being bought and sold.
The main part of the Castle Inn, title number HE53573, is owned by Leisure & Development Ltd, the company in liquidation. The ‘ransom strip’, title number HE31873, is owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, of Plas Glynllifon, directors Paul and Rowena Williams.
Moving back to Powys and the Knighton Hotel, it might seem difficult if not impossible to own a ‘ransom strip’ affecting a substantial building slap in the middle of town. But they’ve done it.
The hotel comprises both the stone building you see on the left and the half-timbered building on the right.
Within the Knighton Hotel Paul and Rowena Williams own the ‘Norton Showroom’ on the ground floor at the far right, a flat above, and it’s also believed they have the run of the cellars. The flat is owned in their names and shown in blue in this title plan for the hotel. Here’s the title document for the showroom or shop.
In Presteigne, at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, the Gruesome Twosome still owns the old garage building and car park directly opposite the hotel. I’m told that there was once a plan for four town houses on this plot.
This town houses plan seems to have been drawn up but never submitted for planning approval. And I’ve heard of other schemes that never took flight. All of which adds to the image of Paul Williams as a bit of a fantasist, or as I described him in the previous post, “a sinister kind of Walter Mitty”.
If they were to turn the Knighton Hotel shop into a dildo emporium, or allowed Travellers to set up camp in the Radnorshire Arms car park, Paul and Rowena Williams could make their former properties very unattractive to potential buyers.
But just owning these ‘ransom strips’ – coupled with their reputation for deviousness – may be enough to deter many buyers. And as I say, the situation we see today was planned years ago by slicing parts off the original titles, almost anticipating the scenarios I’m describing.
So I suppose that if nobody wanted to buy the properties, then Paul and Rowena Williams, or someone acting for them, might be able to buy them back very cheaply.
I’ve just mentioned Leisure & Development Ltd, the owner of these assorted properties being in receivership, so let’s consider the latest developments.
An administrator was appointed on August 18 and the administrator’s proposals became available on the Companies House website on September 20. These proposals are worth reading because they give quite a full run-down of the situation. Since then the proposals have been approved, though that document was not available on the CH website at the time of writing.
Under Section 2 ‘Events leading up to the administration’, we read that, “The various properties were purchased between July 2015 and February 2016 for a total sum of £11,887,828 (as per documents registered at the Land Registry).” But then we read, for year ending 31 January 2018, the company had fixed assets of £16,894,195 (against £23,119,820 the previous year). While in Appendix C we read that the book value of the freehold properties is £13,908,979.
Let’s look at the 2015 purchases. As we’ve seen, the properties ‘bought’ in 2015 were simply transferred from one Williams vehicle (usually their personal ownership) to another at greatly inflated prices in order to pull down mortgages and loans. For example, the stated purchase price of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was £3,487,049. It’s worth a third of that on a good day.
Inflated purchase prices were part of the scam, a way of laundering money. But if the properties were bought in 2015 at ludicrously high prices how can their book value today be even higher? Are the administrators afraid to have independent valuations done?
And if the properties were grossly overvalued in 2015 at £11,887,828 where the hell does the fixed assets valuation for 2018 of £16,894,195 come from? (And £23,119,820 the year before!) The answer is, Paul and Rowena Williams’ trusty accountant, John Duggan, a convicted fraudster, who robbed an elderly widow of some £700,000.
In fact, the accounts for Leisure & Development Ltd are worth us dallying awhile. The first submitted accounts are for year ending 31 January 2016 and are the accounts for a dormant company, despite all the ‘purchases’ made in 2015. These accounts were submitted by Debra Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister.
The next accounts, up to 31 January 2017, come from the dancing quill of John Duggan. Now we see a figure of £23,119,820 in fixed assets, and £23,906,551 owed to creditors.
Those creditors reappear in the administrator’s report. First comes NatWest Bank plc, owed £6,202,405. Next in line is Together Commercial Finance (no sum stated). But Paul and Rowena Williams are also hoping for a strip of the carcass with a claim for no less than £11,751,698.
The money owed to Paul and Rowena Williams can only be the money from the ‘sales’ in 2015, when they sold properties to themselves at inflated valuations. Does this really count as an acceptable debt?
Think about it for a minute; what they’re saying, in effect, is: ‘We transferred properties from ourselves to a company we’d formed and of course we didn’t pay anything – it was just a scam to get mortgages and loans – but we’re still hoping someone will view us as legitimate claimants on the assets of our former company’.
This report we’ve looked at from the liquidators, RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP, is misleading as it relies on insane valuations and a fraudster’s figures. This is either a mistake on RSM’s part or else it suits someone’s agenda to accept the Williams narrative and the Duggan figures.
Spaceship Williams should return to Earth when potential buyers are asked to make offers for the various properties. I guarantee no one will offer anything like £3.5m for the Radnorshire Arms, irrespective of whether the McGillycuddy clan is enjoying a hoolie in the car park.
STRAIGHT OUTTA DICKENS
I have commented many times on the contemptuous way in which Paul and Rowena Williams treat those who work for them, and being an absolute bastard is something that also comes easy to their trusted lieutenant, Rikki Reynolds.
And it’s not just those who work for them that suffer; it’s neighbours, suppliers, and just about anybody else they can take advantage of. The Williams pair and Reynolds believe they can do whatever they like, to whoever they like, whenever they like, with no consequences.
They often take a sadistic pleasure in humiliating people.
I think I may have mentioned a kitchen porter at the Seiont Manor Hotel, a man with learning difficulties, who was forced out last year after working there for over 22 years. Now I can give you more details and also tell you how that story developed.
The background is that Rowena Williams intimidated this poor man into accepting a reduction in his weekly hours from 30 to 9 and then dismissed him on August 9 2017. He went to the Citizens Advice Bureau and it all ended up with an Employment Tribunal at Mold on September 5 this year.
Below you’ll see a financial summary of the verdict, and you can read the full document here, with the claimant’s name and the case number redacted.
As I say, the tribunal took place on September 5, and as you read the Judgment you’ll see that Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd has 14 days from the ‘calculation day’ of September 7 to pay the stipulated sum. If no payment is made within this period then interest of 8% starts accruing.
You’ll note that no one from the Williams side turned up at Mold County Court, which is how they operate – they ignore letters and demands, they refuse to attend arranged meetings, they find excuses for not having complied with instructions: ‘Oh, we didn’t realise’ . . . ‘Nobody told us’ . . . ‘Obviously a misunderstanding’.
It’s the old tactic of ignoring something long enough in the hope it’ll go away; which it often does when you’re dealing with local authorities and the ‘Welsh’ Government.
You’ll also note that the judgment was made against Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd, yet this company changed its name on March 17 2015 to Polvellan Manor Ltd. And before becoming Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd in 2007 it was Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd, formed in 2002, this being the Williams’ original company, and indeed their only company until 2015.
Seeing as this was the company name on the dismissed kitchen porter’s pay slips it means that Paul and Rowena Williams were still using a company name that had been changed over two years earlier. Is this legal?
Paul and Rowena Williams were directors until April 1 2018, when they stepped down, maybe in the hope of escaping the impending employment tribunal. The sole director now is the ever-obliging, convicted fraudster, Keith Partridge, who took over on the same day as Paul and Rowena Williams ceased to be directors.
Whatever the motives for recently putting Partridge in charge, the fact remains that when the offences dealt with by the employment tribunal were committed in 2017 the only directors of Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd/Polvellan Manor Ltd were Paul and Rowena Williams.
But you still have to wonder why Partridge agreed to let his name be used as skipper of the Titanic when the iceberg was already in sight.
It should go without saying that the former Seiont Manor kitchen porter is not optimistic about getting his money. Which is a sad reflection on the Englandandwales legal system, because I believe the law should provide some guarantee of payment.
I shouldn’t think that this invalidates the decision. After all they’re both Williams companies, but it does remind us of the danger of dealing with companies with very similar names. And of course, it’s why shysters like Williams have companies with confusingly similar names.
The current situation can be summed up as follows:
Paul and Rowena Williams are holed up at Plas Glynllifon, a massive pile they have estimated will cost £20m to refurbish.
Apart from Plas Glynllifon they have no (known) assets other than assorted ‘ransom strips’, abandoned Fronoleu, and the Seiont Manor Hotel, with the latter being run into the ground by drug-dependent Rikki Reynolds (who is indulged because he knows where the bodies are buried).
And now I hear that HMRC is also taking an interest.
In last week’s post, Plaid Cymru’s enemy within, in speaking of Anne Greagsby, I wrote, “I can’t say I know Anne Greagsby, I’ve met her just once . . . she was in good company, which I’m old-fashioned enough to believe is a useful indicator of a person’s character.”
That holds true for everyone, and when we look at Paul and Rowena Williams, who do we find them associating with? Well, there’s Rikki Reynolds, and I have been told stories about this bastard that I would love to tell, but in doing so I might compromise a source. I just wish I was free to tell you about the gardener.
Paul and Rowena Williams’ accountant is convicted fraudster John Duggan. Long-time associate and business partner, the man who supposedly bought now liquidated Leisure & Development Ltd, and who has also agreed to be sole director of Polvellan Manor Ltd is Keith Partridge, another convicted fraudster.
Down in Cornwall, running the Waves Bar for them, we found Stuart Paul Cooper – yet another fraudster! And who is the mysterious Michael Jones, sole director of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd? I’m prepared to bet that he has an interesting biography. Then we have Paul Williams’ sister, Debra Oswald, and his parents with their iffy hotel business in India.
Finally, there is Dudley James Cross, whose Linkedin profile says he works for property company Lambert Smith Hampton, but he’s been an associate of Paul Williams since at least 2008, he was even showing people around Plas Glynllifon on the Open Days in June, and he has served as a director of the company now in liquidation, Leisure & Development Ltd. It is widely believed that he had a hand in the absurd valuations of the properties Paul and Rowena Williams ‘sold’ to themselves in 2015.
These are not business people who’ve taken ‘short cuts’ or made the odd mistake; these are not honest folk who fell in with rogues – these are crooks, pure and simple. They should be behind bars.
It’s been a while since I wrote the previous instalment in this saga, August 6th to be precise, and even though I have no earth-shattering revelations for you, it’s clear that we are moving towards a conclusion.
In addition to this latest post being an update on the saga, I shall also use it to give some thought to what this incredible story tells us about the state of modern Wales. Basically, how the hell did Paul and Rowena Williams and their associates get away with so much for so long?
Because irrespective of what now happens to those you’ve been reading about over the past few months there are others who have questions to answer, and I might as well do the asking, because nobody else will.
WHY DID THEY GET A FREE RIDE?
The Daily Post‘s involvement in this saga is quite extraordinary in its willingness to publish any old nonsense. I have drawn up a list of the DP’s articles on Plas Glynllifon and the other Gwynedd properties since Paul and Rowena Williams first became involved.
Starting with this article on 10 June 2016 telling us that the mystery owner of Plas Glynllifon – speaking through property company Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) – said that the renovation would take three years, and would cost an estimated £5m.
The new year brought this piece on 22 February 2017 in which the Daily Post was graciously granted access, to be told by Rowena Williams, “We hope that the project will hold dear to the Prince of Wales, who enjoyed his investiture ball here and also takes a very keen interest in our heritage and historic properties such as Glynllifon. We hope that he will be an asset to the project.”
We were not informed if Carlo had been asked to cough up a few quid towards the “£5.5 to £6.5” needed for the restoration. Maybe it wasn’t needed, for a finance package had been agreed with “Together in Manchester”. And Team Williams was also “in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support”.
On 23 May 2017 we learnt that the owners of Plas Glynllifon had enlisted the help of Lord Newborough (whose family pile Plas Glynllifon had once been), and also helping Paul Williams were “Bangor University, the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates (at Bangor Uni), Gwynedd Archives, and other bodies”. The more the merrier!
There was now a gap until 26 November 2017, and an article headlined, “Take a look at stunning £16m transformation of historic mansion into five star hotel”, which was a bit naughty, because Paul and Rowena Williams have not spent anything approaching £16m at Glynllifon. There was no explanation for how the cost of renovating Plas Glynllifon had increased from £5.5m-£6.5m in May to £16m in November. Brexit, I suppose.
There was yet another video, this one without the Gruesome Twosome but with weird musical accompaniment. Then there were photos, of, er, scaffolding; while inside the building, we saw a bath, an organ, statues and a four-poster bed. This article, like previous ones, drew a number of positive comments, including one from ‘MarkoMarko’, who I suspect may not be local, and may even have been an employee of the Williams gang.
The final plug report of the year was on 4 December 2017. Now the focus switched to the Seiont Manor Hotel , lined up for a £5m expansion. This would involve, ” . . . extending the restaurant with the provision of a new lake view terrace, expansion of the existing leisure facilities to improve the changing and spa facilities and add treatment rooms, a purpose built lake side function suite with bedrooms above and luxury lodges in the grounds”.
The first article in the new year appeared on 7 February 2018 and the focus switched again, this time to a snowy Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, which we were told Paul and Rowena Williams were buying. The obligatory video introduced ageing juvenile lead Rikki Reynolds, general manager of the Seiont Manor Hotel.
This new project included, “a 100 bedroom hotel with a pool, spa, restaurants and bars”. There was to be a seafood restaurant, and holiday cottages, with the Daily Post adding, “They (Paul and Rowena Williams) said the residential parts of the project will help with funding for other parts of this 240 job scheme and the ongoing restoration at Glynllifon and expansion of Seiont Manor in Llanrug, which they also own.”
Two hundred and forty jobs! This is bullshit piled so high that it must have blocked out the sun. But by this stage if Paul Williams had said he was Jesus Christ come to give us all another chance the Daily Post would have reported it without question . . . and of course with a video.
Just three days later, on 10 February 2018, the Daily Post returned to Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, for which, we were told, “project proposals have come and gone”; but things were to be different this time with Paul and Rowena Williams and the boy wonder. Maybe, but the video was the same one we’d seen three days earlier. We also heard of a new player in “Developer Plas Glynllifon Group”, of which no one has seen hide nor hair since.
On 27 April 2018 a fire was reported at Plas Tŷ Coch. ‘Disgraceful’ behaviour according to Paul Williams (a man who knows a thing or two about disgraceful behaviour). The Daily Post took the opportunity to remind us that Plas Tŷ Coch would be restored (sic) into luxury period apartments with low density housing in the grounds of the mansion and the restoration of walled and formal gardens.
I’m losing track now of how many apartments, houses, lodges, are involved with the Williams’ properties. Add them to the hotels, restaurants, pools, spas, bars and God knows what else and it’s getting bloody crowded!
Did it never occur to anyone that this bloke might be a sinister kind of Walter Mitty?
On to 11 May 2018 when we were told that Paul and Rowena Williams intended to part-fund their ambitions in the north through the sale of those properties they owned in Powys and over the border. This was the £10m ‘sale’ to convicted fraudster Keith Partridge, which was about as convincing as a ‘Welsh Labour’ Party manifesto.
The cost of renovating Plas Glynllifon was now £20m, up from £5.5m to £6.5m a year earlier. Inflation on this scale is no problem if you’re fluent in bollocks, pluck figures out of thin air, and are trying to wangle grants . . .
We only had to wait one day, to 12 May 2018, for the next intriguing episode headed, “Take a look inside stunning Plas Glynllifon as restoration continues”. And we were treated to yet another video and more photos of scaffolding and further examples of Victorian interiors at their worst.
Giving us an effect that is quite overwrought and claustrophobic. I can only assume that this bedroom would be the Edgar Allan Poe Suite. Who’s that in the mirror!
The Daily Post went for its hat-trick with three consecutive days’ coverage on 13 May 2018, with the emphasis now shifting to the parkland and pleasure gardens around Plas Glynllifon. For the headline told us “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”.
If this carried on it was only a matter of time before Paul Williams approached Cyngor Gwynedd with an offer they couldn’t refuse to buy the whole bloody county.
The long-awaited news of open days at Plas Glynllifon was brought to us on 6 June 2018. There was yet another video, this one confirming that a number of deliveries had been received from the local garden centre, with photos of the happy couple, scaffolding, and the Edgar Allan Poe Suite.
The cobwebs were blown away when, on 9 June 2018, we were back to the bracing air of Plas Brereton on the Menai Strait, and among fresh proposals for the site was a fishing village! So if we add that to the apartments, houses, lodges and hotels, how much accommodation does that give us? How much extra accommodation does the Caernarfon area need?
We made another slight detour on 16 June 2018 as Paul Williams’ house-trained “expert in land and heritage conservation”, dragged up specially from Cornwall, tut-tutted about the state of Parc Glynllifon and suggested that it was in such a mess it should be handed over to Paul Williams at a knock-down price.
Of the accompanying photos two were of scaffolding. (They can grow on you!)
Maybe my blog was being read at the Daily Post, for the uncritical plugs stopped and the first cloud appeared in the Williams firmament with the report of 11 July 2018headlined, “Welsh Government considering whether grant funding to mansion developers can be recouped after hotels close”, a reference to the closure of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel In Presteigne and the Knighton Hotel in the town of that name.
For all I know there might have been other articles that I’ve missed, but the 18 I’ve listed here tell an alarming tale of a gang of shysters given free access to an important source of local news. For they were allowed to say anything they wanted with nary an awkward question, let alone any journalistic digging to find out who they really were.
But as the local ‘paper the Daily Post is more guilty than others of not doing its homework on these crooks. Indeed, the other news outlets may have been attracted to Glynllifon by the endless plugs they saw in the Daily Post. Seeing as they got it so wrong with Paul and Rowena Williams we have to ask if the Daily Post will identify the next shysters arriving on its patch, or will it be more free and uncritical publicity.
Because I can predict with certainty that the easy ride Paul and Rowena Williams received from the local media, the council and others, will encourage other crooks to chance their arm in Gwynedd.
Of course, I tried to post comments to the endless ‘Aren’t they wonderful!’ stories about Paul and Rowena Williams; trying to warn people, but I’m blocked from the Daily Post and WalesOnline websites.
The question for newspapers and other media outlets before repeating press releases, or running encomiums, must always be – ‘What do we really know about these people?’ And if the answer is ‘Nothing’, or ‘Very little’, then start digging!
THE FAT LADY IS WAITING IN THE WINGS
In the previous episode I told you that Leisure & Development Ltd was in the hands of receivers and the establishments involved locked, with CCTV installed. Since then I’ve heard that Paul Williams was still getting access to some of the buildings, for example, to the Knighton Hotel, either from the flat or ground floor showroom he still owns.
The latest information I have says that an offer has been made for the Radnorshire Arms by some local nobs who hope to start refurbishment work early next year. There is also interest in the Knighton Hotel and the properties in England and Cornwall, all of which might be offered for sale very soon.
In Gwynedd, things are also moving to a conclusion. For example, in the extracts you’ve just read from the Daily Post you’ll see that Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch crop up quite regularly, with ludicrous plans for fishing villages and God knows what else – but Paul and Rowena Williams never owned these properties!
They seem to have put down a deposit but never got around to paying off the balance. The deadline to complete the sale passed on Tuesday 18 September, and so, on the reasonable assumption that the balance was not paid, Paul and Rowena Williams are now left with Plas Glynllifon and the Seiont Manor Hotel, the latter run for them by drug-dependent Rikki Reynolds.
The Daily Post couldn’t forget old habits and tried to put a positive spin on the story, as if the deal would be finalised . . . as if non-completion was a mere oversight . . . nothing to do with the money having dried up . . . the other properties being in the hands of liquidators . . . everything falling apart . . .
STOP PRESS: But, finally, on Wednesday 19 September the Daily Post was forced to submit to reality and admit that the deal had fallen through.
I now visualise Paul Williams holed up in Plas Glynllifon, something like Jean Gabin in Le Jour se Lève, chain-smoking Gauloises and ready to shoot it out with the flics receivers. (God! I must lay off the Malbec!)
But enough of 1930s French movies and the Daily Post, what about other individuals and agencies we’ve encountered in this saga, how do their roles stand up to scrutiny?
UPDATE 21.09.2018:Today the Daily Post reported that Dyfed Powys Police had met with Powys County Council trading standards officers last week to discuss the now closed Powys hotels owned by Paul and Rowena Williams.
Paul Williams was quoted as saying, “We are unaware of any meeting allegedly held between the local authority and the police in Powys. However, we are pleased to hear that they are looking into matters as this will without doubt vindicate Rowena and I.”
The Daily Post‘s reporting was again abysmal. Just two days ago, Owen Hughes, the DP’s Business Correspondent – who has written all the puffs for Paul and Rowena Williams – told us that the deal to buy Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch had fallen through, but today he wants us to believe that they’ve “agreed the purchase” of these properties.
Can’t he remember what he’s written . . . or did somebody else write it?
Not only that, but he sticks to the Williams story about these Powys properties having been sold to convicted fraudster Keith Partridge, when everyone else knows this was just a ploy allowing them to slip away and lay the blame on somebody else.
Plas Glynllifon is a Grade 1 listed building. The Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne and the Knighton Hotel are both Grade II listed buildings. (Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch are also listed.) Which means that they come under the watchful eye of Cadw, or English Heritage (West) as it is more honestly known.
Cadw/EH(W) awards grants to those owning listed properties, and so, given Paul and Rowena Williams’ talent for sniffing out easy money, it would be reasonable to assume that they applied to Cadw/EH(W) for funding. And this is what I’m told happened. I’m further told that grant funding was given.
More specifically, large amounts were given to the Powys properties, enough for Williams to claim that grants had paid for the Knighton Hotel. While in Gwynedd, it’s reported that there was a dispute between Paul and Rowena Williams and Cadw/EH(W) over a grant given to Plas Glynllifon which appeared to have been diverted to the Seiont Manor Hotel.
In the hope of getting the facts I submitted a FoI request to Cadw/EH(W), but if the reply I received is to be believed then the Williams gang haven’t received a penny. Read it for yourself.
Which means that either my informants are mistaken, or else – and I hate to even consider this possibility! – Cadw/EH(W) is telling old Jac porkies!
With Paul and Rowena Williams’ empire now reduced to Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor it’s worth asking what roles have been played by the local council and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai which runs the adjoining Glynllifon Agricultural College.
Cyngor Gwynedd has remained tight-lipped, saying only that Plas Glynllifon is privately owned and has nothing to do with the council. Which I suppose is fair enough up to a point, but the council must have concerns when such a prominent local building is constantly changing hands between dreamers and crooks.
So how far did these talks progress? Were they concluded with an agreement to hand over land to Paul and Rowena Williams? In light of recent developments, how difficult would it be for Cyngor Gwynedd and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai to issue a statement assuring us that no deal was done? I suggest they owe it to us.
A name that has cropped up throughout this case is that of property company Lambert Smith Hampton, and in particular Dudley James Cross, who often seemed to act as a personal advisor to Paul and Rowena Williams, or perhaps even a partner, for at one time he was a director of Leisure & Development Ltd, the company that was ‘sold’ on 1 February to Keith Partridge, but then went tits up.
You’ll notice that on his Linkedin profile Cross is Regional Head of LSH based in Northampton, but when he was director of Leisure & Development Ltd he was apparently resident in Wales, with his address given as Plas Glynllifon.
So what sort of a company is Lambert Smith Hampton that it gets involved with crooks like Williams and Partridge? Where is Cross now? Is his role in all this being investigated?
A LAND READY FOR THE TAKING
The deeper I dig and the more I learn about how modern Wales is run the more I realise how easy it is for crooks like Paul Williams to come waltzing in demanding this that and t’other. And demand that we pay for it!
Just a few miles away, at Nebo, a gang set up in a farm, and a benefit claimant threw up a seven-bedroom mansion! The police eventually raided the place. I understand this is another case from which Gwynedd’s planning department does not emerge with any credit.
All this is happening in Gwynedd, which many outside the area think of as some impregnable fortress of Welshness. The truth is its walls have been breached, and from the inside.
And yet, perversely, when I see how easy it is for people who are obviously greedy and corrupt, but none too bright, to get away with all this, then in a curious way it gives me hope.
For I see that the political machinery is old and broken, with few taking any interest in its running; the social structures that once seemed so permanent are in a state of flux; people are discontented and looking for something new; while the traditional media is discredited and dying before our eyes.
We are at a stage in the history of Wales where enough determined people, with the right message, can generate enough enthusiasm and public support to direct the political and social agenda.
Seeing as no one knows what kind of Brexit the UK government wants, and because so much of what you’re reading and hearing on the subject is either biased or just ill-informed, it falls upon Uncle Jac to shed a little light on the matter. Because there are implications in Brexit for the unity of the UK, and these are already being addressed with covert strategies that may be reported in the mainstream media but are not identified for what they really are.
To make the best sense of what follows you must understand that the whole debate has moved beyond Brexit to the point where it is now about two unions, the EU and the UK, and also the future of the Conservative and Unionist Party. Not to be outdone the Labour Party is also confused, but there we also find other issues at play.
The overall UK vote was 51.89% Leave to 48.11% Remain. In Wales 52.53% voted Leave. By comparison, Scotland voted 62% for Remain.
Since then, from the UK government, it’s been a revolving stage of pantomime, tub-thumping jingoism, farce, soap opera and slapstick, but now, as the end approaches, things are beginning to take a darker turn.
But before getting to the creepy bits let’s consider where we are with the main UK political parties.
EU membership has been a divisive issue within the Conservative Party for half a century or more. In the hope of settling things prime minister David Cameron announced in February 2016 that there would be a referendum. He also stated that he would be campaigning to stay. When he lost, he resigned.
Since the referendum it has been almost impossible to separate what passes for ‘negotiations’ with the EU from the ongoing civil war within the Conservative Party, with the internecine fighting being a prelude to the inevitable leadership contest.
We’ve now reached the stage where it seems to be the incumbent Theresa May versus Boris Johnson. ‘Bonking Boris’, reviled by ‘progressives’ and opposed by many in his own party. Yet Tories of a more pragmatic bent may see him as a winner.
Not least because Boris Johnson has achieved that priceless political status of being universally recognised by his first name. How many politicians today can say that?
And don’t forget that Johnson was elected mayor of multiracial London in 2008, beating Comrade Livingstone, and increasing his share of the vote in getting re-elected in 2012, again by beating Livingstone. There will be a number in the Conservative Party who’ll see a lesson there for a future tussle with Comrade Corbyn.
At the time of writing this the elite against whom I and many others voted in June 2016 is pushing for a People’s Vote on the “final Brexit deal”. Having lost the vote in 2016 they’re hoping for a re-run and a different result . . . but believe me, it’s got sod all to do with ‘the People’.
The English Labour Party in Wales is generally supportive of this initiative because by and large our MPs and AMs want to remain in the EU. But their leader is proving more cautious, for Jeremy Corbyn seems to understand better than his Wales-based representatives why Labour voters in the post-industrial areas and the lower socio-economic brackets voted for Brexit.
Corbyn is reluctant to further alienate this white working class, and so, sure of the loyalty of his Momentum base, and believing that his ethnic minority and middle class voters have nowhere else to go, he seems to have concluded that the best option is to keep ’em guessing.
Others in Labour are less reticent about speaking out against Brexit and in favour of a second referendum. Here in Wales Labour politicos have reminded us how much money we’ve received from the EU, which doesn’t really help their cause because too much of that money has been frittered away by successive Labour management teams in Cardiff docks with no discernible benefits accruing to the areas in need.
But what the hell! – we’ve got the biggest third sector money can buy.
He’s not alone in seeing the possibility of Brexit breaking the UK apart – it’s one of the reasons I voted for Brexit – but I’m sure he takes the side of his Tory masters and will do his best to maintain the Union. Why change the habit of a lifetime?
But Carwyn’s masters are not blind to the danger either, and are implementing measures to counter the threat, certainly in Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland is, as ever, different.
Without knowing anything about the Flight of the Earls, the Plantation, Partition, or even the Troubles, most people are vaguely aware that the politics of ‘Ulster’ or the Six Counties is dominated by whether this part of Ireland should remain in the United Kingdom or whether it should join the rest of the island.
(Though this does not apply to Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who seems to have imagined a homogeneous population made up of individuals who take a pin into the polling booth.)
As things stand, those wishing to stay part of the UK remain in a majority, but a majority being whittled away year on year by demographic trends. So that by 2030 there will probably be a Catholic majority and a referendum on reunification could choose a united Ireland.
Brexit has added a new ingredient to the mix and might accelerate reunification.
Because the prospect of a ‘hard’ border after the UK exits the EU will not only be bad for business, it also raises fears of a return to violence. This has resulted in a number of people hitherto opposed to a united Ireland prepared to consider that option in order to stay in the EU. And let’s not forget that Northern Ireland voted by 56% to 44% to Remain. The only party pushing a Leave vote was the Democratic Unionist Party, predictably following the BritNat line.
Yet one of the alternatives, that of somehow keeping the Six Counties within the UK and the EU by having the customs border somewhere in the Irish Sea, has Mrs May’s DUP allies shouting ‘No Surrender!’ and strapping on their Lambeg drums.
The other option seems to involve no change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and a ‘soft’ or invisible border, with customs checks carried out by technology that doesn’t exist, or possibly by leprechauns.
The question of whether there should be a united Ireland could of course be resolved with a referendum, allowed for in the Good Friday (or Belfast) Agreement (Schedule 1,2). But the power to call such a vote rests with the Secretary of State. As we’ve seen, at the moment that is Karen Bradley, who thinks people in the Bogside don Orange sashes when the humour is on them.
So we’re in the absurd position of the Secretary of State having the authority to call a referendum , ” . . . if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.” Which, when you consider it, is a very good reason for the British government NOT to call a referendum.
The political situation is further complicated by the fact that the Northern Ireland Assembly collapsed in January 2017 and seems unlikely to get back on its feet any time soon.
There is little the British state can do to influence things in Northern Ireland for a number of reasons: 1/ the Republic’s government keeps a close eye on events; 2/ Ireland is now crucial for the EU because it will soon be a land border; 3/ there’s the interest from the USA, for no American politician can ignore the Catholic Irish-American vote.
And as I’ve suggested, the UK establishment is resigned to losing Northern Ireland in 10 or 20 years time anyway due to ‘the revenge of the cradle’, so the worst Brexit can do is hurry up that process. While never having to deal again with Northern Ireland politicians is a prospect most civil servants welcome.
In Scotland, things are very different.
The 2014 Scottish independence referendum gave the UK establishment one hell of a fright and may only have been won at the last minute by the intervention of senior politicians promising everything short of independence in The Vow. Though Brexit is causing a rethink for the man behind it.
The Scots voting to Remain coupled with the growing prospect of a ‘hard’ Brexit is increasing support for Scottish independence. This has prompted the UK state go on the offensive. It’s worth focusing on two, ongoing elements of this attack.
First there’s the crude and unambivalent ‘Britification’ campaign, most visible in the packaging of Scottish goods with the Union flag. In the image below we see whisky and, even weirder, that quintessentially Scottish delicacy, haggis, branded as ‘British’!
But the alternative name for whisky is Scotch. Can you imagine anyone going into a bar and saying, ‘Give me a large British, barman’? Which might get the response, ‘A large British what, sir?’ As for haggis, branding it with the Union Jack is liable to lose sales because people might think it’s counterfeit, something like Albanian ‘champagne’.
In the main it seems to be the supermarkets at fault rather than the manufacturers, for I’ve read that Lidl and Aldi, the German chains, have stuck with Scottish branding.
I can imagine a meeting deep in the bowels of Whitehall between representatives of the main supermarket chains and high-ranking civil servants to discuss ‘promoting a sense of shared Britishness in these difficult times’, and perhaps achieving the objective without even mentioning Scotland.
(But I warn them now, if they come to put a Union Jack on my laverbread they will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.)
The other point of attack has been the allegations against Alex Salmond former leader of the Scottish National Party and former Scottish first minister. Let me say that I don’t know whether these allegations are true or not, but the motivation behind them is crystal clear.
I first understood what it was all about watching Newsnight soon after the story broke. It had been broken by the Daily Record, the Scottish version of the Daily Mirror, and therefore the mouthpiece of the Labour Party, once dominant in Scottish politics but now languishing in third place as the Unionist vote coalesces behind the Tories.
The assistant editor responsible was a cocky Ulsterman named David Clegg, and without knowing his background I would hazard a guess that he has never voted for Sinn Féin. He was positively bouncing at being interviewed over his ‘scoop’ . . . and then something rather strange happened – he kept talking about Nicola Sturgeon, Salmond’s successor in both positions!
The light bulb flashed above the old Jac noggin, I took a sip of Malbec and nodded sagely.
And so it came to pass that where there had been unity of purpose in a political party determined to achieve Scottish independence, now they were at each other’s throats! Or at least, that’s what newspapers were reporting. And desperately hoping that the Scottish public would believe it.
What we see in Scotland suggests that secret polling has confirmed the British government’s worst fears – the Brexit cock-up has created a majority for independence.
Added to the blatant BritNat bias the BBC in Scotland has exhibited for some years we now have government-controlled newspapers in a constituent part of a democracy. Were this happening anywhere else it would be reported, and condemned . . . by the very media outlets that have so readily submitted to government control.
What absolute hypocrites!
Here in Wales the Britification campaign has been less obvious and offensive, partly because we have less indigenous produce to be plastered with Union Jacks, due in large part to the unwritten rule that says any successful Welsh company is only allowed to reach a certain size before being taken over by an English rival.
That said, the campaign has taken other forms, two examples will suffice to explain what I mean.
To begin with, early last year that most colonialist of ‘Welsh’ organisations, Cadw, announced that there was to be a ring of steel erected near Flint castle to celebrate the 2017 Year of Legends, one of the regular, tiresome, and often insulting tourism marketing ploys.
Ring of Steel is an obvious reference to the castles built by Edward I to encircle Gwynedd and subjugate its inhabitants. Cadw knew this. The proposed structure was soon dubbed ‘The Anus of the North’, an epithet that then seemed to transfer to Ken Skates, the hapless minister for culture or some such in England’s Cardiff management team.
After a public outcry, political opposition, and a petition that attracted 10,000 signatures in a matter of days, this squalid and deliberate attempt to celebrate English conquest was dropped.
But then came the renaming of the Second Severn Crossing as the Prince of Wales Bridge. Again, this was widely opposed, with little support from within Wales, but it went ahead in a secret ceremony.
The renaming idea is attributed to Alun Cairns, the oleaginous Secretary of State for Severnside, but I’m not so sure. I believe the idea came from the same source as the ‘request’ for supermarkets to smother Scottish produce under the Union Jack. Cairns was only too happy to oblige.
Alun ‘Tippy-toes’ Cairns is now one of the most ridiculed and reviled politicians in Welsh political history, even more so than some of his predecessors such John Redwood; for while we expected no better from them, Welsh-speaking Cairns is viewed as a turncoat.
Having mentioned Severnside, the renaming of the bridge and the removal of the tolls will begin what we are asked to welcome as the great property bonanza in the south east. In practice, no bridge tolls and cheaper property prices on the Welsh side of the bridge will encourage a population movement into Wales.
Replicating what we see in the north as commuters from Manchester and Merseyside are guided away from exclusive communities in Cheshire into the commuter communities planned for the A55 corridor.
These machinations on the part of the UK state, coupled with the cowardice and incompetence of the English Labour Party in Wales has predictably resulted in a reaction.
In the past couple of years we’ve seen the emergence and growth of YesCymru, the launch of new party Ein Gwlad, and the realisation within Plaid Cymru that a hard left party obsessing over issues that mean nothing to 99% of the Welsh population is going nowhere.
There can no longer be any doubt that there is a Britification agenda operating in Scotland and Wales. Because the BritNats driving the Brexit process are awake to the fact that if they win they risk the Union. More moderate elements can also see the risk to the Union and even though they might oppose Brexit they have little alternative but to join in the Britification offensive.
Yet Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and the rest must push ahead because their political reputations and their places in history are now tied up with Brexit. They cannot afford to fail. If they succeed, they know it will be easy to use the rallying-call of ‘Save the Union’ to reunite the Conservative Party, and leave the other parties no alternative but to fall into line.
The real worry is that the Britification and dirty tricks we’ve seen so far in Scotland and Wales could be nothing compared to what we might experience after the Brexit shit hits the fan.
This is a bumper edition, some 3,600 words, enough to keep you going for a week. It comprises six different reports so you don’t need to gorge and make yourself ill, you can take it one piece at a time. Enjoy!
MRS AND MR MERRILL
Rose Mutale Merrill (née Nyoni), doyenne of the race relations industry in Wales, head of Bawso, and involved with so many other organisations, a Labour Party insider and enforcer, has figured on this blog many times. News now reaches me of yet another string to her bow.
For it is alleged that she has built up quite a property empire in some desirable locations in and around Cardiff. One such property being 6 Mitre Place, in Llandaf, quite close to the cathedral. This cost her £223,600 in May, 2005.
This was before her marriage to Travers Merrill in or around October 2008, he of Rhondda Life fame. ‘Rhondda Life?’ Well, yes, it was a venture which, according to this report, seems to have targeted the gourmet tourists with which the Rhondda Fach is inundated.
Or, to put a less generous interpretation on it, it was yet another non-starter claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money in an attempt to be seen to be doing something in a Labour heartland and, more importantly, providing cushy numbers for Labour Party time-servers.
Travers Merrill was chief executive of Rhondda Life, though when the inevitable collapse came about, Shippo of Llais y Sais was considerate enough to see that Merrill’s name did not appear.
Looking through the papers filed with Companies House I see that after the liquidators – based in Leicester! – had taken their pound of flesh Rhondda Life seems to have been left with 43 pence in the kitty. Another great success for the Poverty Party.
But let us hie again to leafy Llandaf.
What I found strange about the title document for 6 Mitre Place was that even though the property was bought before the nuptials in the autumn of 2008 the title document has been amended to show Mutale’s married name, but the erstwhile Raymond Blanc of Ferndale is not mentioned. Which suggests that she is the sole owner.
Not content with just one property she then purchased another not far away, opposite Llandough Hospital. And there have been other purchases since to give Rose Mutale Nyoni-Merrill what I’m told now amounts to quite a property portfolio.
My informant – who I’m sure is mistaken – suggests that there might have been ‘confusion’ in the purchase of 6 Mitre Place, confusion as to the source of the deposit for the property. Perhaps money got mixed up somehow. But as I say, my informant is almost certainly wrong.
Before bidding this formidable woman farewell, another informant tells me that Mrs Nyoni-Merrill is/was lined up – certainly, shortlisted – for the job of Older People’s Commissioner. Can this be true?
In 1968 our national rugby team made its first trip to Argentina. As might be expected, contact was made with the descendants of the Welsh settlers in Patagonia. The BBC’s Onllwyn Brace – former rugby international himself – made a wonderful film of Alun Williams and others on that trip south.
The Welsh Rugby Union has arranged another trip to Argentina for next month, playing two tests against Los Pumas. Given that this will be the fiftieth anniversary of that first tour, our cousins in Patagonia anticipated a visit, hoping that one of the test matches might be played in Trelew, or Puerto/Porth Madryn as on the last tour in 2006.
But it seems the WRU attaches no great importance to the Patagonia connection, or the Welsh language. As I discovered when our Patagonia correspondent supplied me with the information below.
Let me start by emphasising that the host country chooses venues for test matches involving touring teams, and for this tour Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR) eventually gave the tests to the cities of San Juan and Santa Fe, both west of Buenos Aires and well over a thousand kilometres north of the Welsh settlements.
And even after the decision of the host country the venues still have to be confirmed by World Rugby.
When it became clear that no test match would be played in Patagonia the emphasis shifted to laying on entertainment and sight-seeing tours for WRU representatives, especially players, and of course fans, in order to raise money for the local Welsh schools. But for this to happen, the tour operators, responsible for arranging the fans’ itineraries, would need to play ball.
My source’s first contact with the WRU was a phone call on 27 September from chairman Gareth Davies (following a number of telephone calls to him and his secretary). Davies passed the job on to Mark Killingley, Head of Digital and Communications. Killingley appears to be an internet/PR expert who joined the Welsh Rugby Union in 2016 from its English counterpart the RFU
Following that telephone conversation my contact sent an e-mail reiterating the hope that the Welsh Rugby Union would – irrespective of where the test matches were held – show support for the Welsh language in Patagonia, specifically for the schools.
“As I explained on the phone, we would like to organise a series of events for both the fans and the WRU, with all money raised being used by the 3 Welsh language schools in Patagonia for the benefit of Welsh language teaching. To have the best chance of getting the UK Rugby tour companies on board, we would like to make an announcement as soon as possible. And, in order to get the best response from the Rugby Tour companies, we would like to have the open support of the Welsh Rugby Union.”
Contact was also made with Gullivers Sports Travel of Gloucester, the Welsh Rugby Union’s official travel agents. Because of course the WRU had said they wouldn’t do anything that conflicted with what Gullivers was arranging.
The representative at Gullivers that my source met – after travelling to England on other business – had never heard of the Welsh colony in Patagonia and showed no interest in learning. Gullivers would only go to Patagonia if the UAR held one of the games down there.
More bad news came with BBC Wales’ refusal to allow sales of the 1968 film I’ve linked to above, despite Cardiff University having prepared a transcript of the film to enable subtitles.
Even after the UAR announced the venues the Welsh community was still optimistic of getting fans to visit and were working flat out. As my source put it in another e-mail to Killingley, “We have a meeting of the Welsh schools in Patagonia this weekend, and I will travel to Trelew next Wednesday (600km!!), to try and finalise at least a programme for the fans.”
Making clear that the only thing being asked of the Welsh Rugby Union was an expression of support for what hard-working and dedicated people were doing down in Patagonia in the hope that tour operators would make it easier for fans to get down there.
E-mails continued to fly between Wales and Provincia Chubut in the desperate hope that the WRU might be persuaded do something – anything! – to recognise the Welsh colony in Patagonia and show support for it, for the Welsh language, and the schools helping keep it alive.
But it soon became clear to my correspondent that this was a forlorn hope.
The WRU made it clear that no players would be coming to Patagonia – ‘But we can send our CEO’.
‘No, I think people down here want to meet the players, but if they can’t come then how about donating some items that could be raffled to raise money for the Welsh schools?’
‘Oh, no, we couldn’t do that without a recognised charity being involved’.
‘For God’s sake these schools are recognised by the Argentina Ministry of Education – and we had to fight to get that recognition for Welsh language schools’.
On March 27, in what was close to the final communication, the Welsh Rugby Union was told:
“Throughout my communication with the WRU, we have tried to make a number of suggestions about how the WRU could help the survival of the Welsh language in Patagonia and each suggestion has met with resistance or rejection and never with any suggestion about how the WRU could help.
The WRU is obviously not willing to assist official representatives of the Welsh communities in Patagonia, who are asking for a simple endorsement of fund-raising initiatives which should align with the broad interest of a very public Welsh organisation. We have pointed out to you that this tour occurs 50 years after the first tour, where the WRU and the BBC went to great lengths to publicise the Welsh communities in Patagonia. You wear your commitment to the Welsh language very openly on your sleeves.”
As things stand, our cousins will next month be laying on events and food, entertainment and sight-seeing trips in the hope that fans will somehow make their way south from the northern cities. And it’s being done without any support whatsoever from the self-styled Welsh Rugby Union. Though in fairness, maybe Gullivers Sports Travel has now got the message, though it might have been garbled in transmission.
With its three feathers badge and its constant fawning over the English royals the Welsh Rugby Union is a national disgrace. Nothing exposes its ambivalent Welshness more than its attitude to the language, both at home and overseas.
Thank God we’ve got a national football team with a governing body far more supportive than the WRU of the language, perhaps even some of our footballers display a little more pride in their roots than many of our rugby players. For example, it was great to see Gareth Bale leave the field in Kiev on Saturday, after scoring his wonder goal, with the national flag draped over his shoulders.
Which seems to be part of a pattern.
For I’ve noticed in fifty years and more of following Welsh sport that our football fans seem to be increasingly dedicated to the team, and to Wales; whereas the death of heavy industry in the south seems to have robbed rugby of its traditional support base, for which spangly cowboy hats, inflatable daffodils and an endless supply of expensive beer are no real substitute.
But then, it’s all money.
DELTA WELLBEING LTD
Readers of this blog, and indeed other blogs, especially those focusing on Sir Gâr, will be alert to any mention of Wellbeing, the catchword for the private healthcare development, shopping mall, leisure centre, 86-lane bowling alley, and home for the Welsh space programme, planned for Delta Lakes in Llanelli. Something of which we first became aware with the publication of this document (page 25, section 5.4).
The grand venture originally involved a company known as Kent Neurosciences Ltd, now, alas, dissolved. Among the directors of this enterprise we find a Professor Robert Marc Clement, a Turk by birth now expanding young minds at Swansea University.
Which is convenient, for Swansea University is a partner in the Delta Lakes project.
I have written nothing about Clement myself but he appears regularly on The Eye, a blog written by one of my biggest fans, Phil Parry, who is forever quoting me, updating his biography, and using my photos without permission. (You rascal, you!)
Kent Neurosciences’ place at Delta Lakes may now have been taken by Delta Wellbeing Ltd, Incorporated as recently as January this year with a single one pound share. The company was formed by a Russell Holmes Thompson from what I believe to be his home address in Wolverhampton.
So why would someone form a company in Wolverhampton that is obviously linked to Delta Lakes in Llanelli? Come to that, who is Russell Holmes Thompson? Well, he seems to have been involved in many companies over the years, a number of which are in the health and care sector.
He must have been previously known to Carmarthenshire County Council because on February 4 he ceased to be “a person with significant control” and a day later he was joined as director by Mrs Samantha Watkins, an employee of the council. On the same day the company’s address moved from Wolverhampton to the Dafen Industrial Estate in Llanelli.
Then, mysteriously, Watkins ceased to be a director on the 8th, but returned on March 20 accompanied by Owen William Bowen, possibly another council employee. So it was no surprise to see on March 23 Carmarthenshire Council listed as “a person with significant control”.
Which means that between February 8 and March 20 Thompson was officially the sole director despite having officially relinquished “significant control”. Odd, that.
As we know, Carmarthenshire County Council is simply Mark Vincent James, its chief executive (and Cardiff Bay property tycoon), by another name. And Delta Lakes is his gift to posterity, his lasting legacy for the grateful citizenry of Carmarthenshire, and nothing must be allowed to interfere with this vision.
So let’s keep an eye on Delta Wellbeing Ltd and the Delta Lakes project generally. Keep tabs on how much of the county’s money is used on this project, what other partners emerge, how much of the Swansea Bay City Deal money is diverted, what role is found for Marc Clement, how many new homes will be needed to help fund it, etc.
This could run and run!
CASTING A LONG SHADOW
The tragic death of Carl Sargeant AM last November lifted the lid a little on the links between politicians, their advisers, PR outfits, third sector parasites and other denizens of that cess-pit known as Cardiff Bay.
Fresh information reaches me that makes the whole business look even more distasteful.
I’m told that following Sargeant’s death, Christina Rees, MP for Neath and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, had to be forced by other Welsh MPs to make a statement of condolence. Because, I’m told, she, or perhaps her political adviser, former Cardiff councillor, Luke Holland, had been briefing against Carl Sargeant, and that the briefings continued against former AM Leighton Andrews, Sargeant’s friend and defender.
There was outrage within the Labour Party over the behaviour of Rees and Holland, which the bruvvers managed to keep within the party (easy given the absence of a Welsh media) but even so, Holland’s position became untenable and he left, or was forced to leave, Ms Rees’ office.
So what did the boy do next?
He did what everybody in his position does – he set up a PR outfit! This one called Cathod Du (Black Cats) Consultancy Ltd, Incorporated November 30. It seems to have no website and no presence beyond the few sparse documents at Companies House, but that may not matter, for it might now have a specific purpose, or a single client.
I’m told that Holland is a supporter of Vaughan Gething, who a few days ago announced that he was running for Labour leader in the Assembly. And in the best traditions of Welsh politics it is further suggested that Cathod Du may act as a conduit for funding the Gething campaign.
To complicate matters even further, Mark Holland is married to Louise Magee, the general secretary of Plaid Tlodi. Magee was heavily involved in Sargeant’s sacking on November 3. I believe it was she who sent the e-mail informing him of his dismissal.
Then, in a plot twist few writers would dare commit to paper – Magee was appointed by the party to be Jack Sargeant’s agent in his campaign to succeed his father! Understandably, the welcome mat was not rolled out for her on Deeside, so she booked into a hotel outside of the constituency and kept a very low profile.
And to round off this tale of betrayal and incestuous relationships I also hear that soon after being appointed the Poverty Party’s general secretary last April Magee gave hubby Holland the job of being her press officer, without the post being advertised and at a higher salary than other staff.
If so, this isn’t listed on his Linkedin profile, nor can I find information anywhere else, so can anyone confirm this?
I was told long before Carl Sargeant’s death that Vaughan Gething was Carwyn Jones’s chosen successor. Given how instrumental Jones’s staff and former staff were in the campaign against Sergeant, Magee’s role, and how that links with Holland, and how Holland may now be Gething’s bagman, it does make you wonder.
One of the few Twitter accounts I follow is the excellent Welsh not British and his On This Day feature, which last week reminded us of the Mold Riots of 1869. Just as well because I’m sure few of us know of this episode.
Like so many events in our history the Mold Riots have either been corrupted or ignored entirely. And yet, here we have Welsh miners suffering discrimination, being denied work, then arrested, with the episode eventually resulting in soldiers shooting down people in the streets of a Welsh town.
So how come ‘Welsh’ Labour doesn’t commemorate this event?
The simple answer is that any issue that pits Wales against England or Welsh against English must be avoided like the pox in case it encourages nationalist sentiment which might result in more people questioning the benefits to Wales of being in the Union with England.
But equally, taking the side of England or the English would be damaging for the party, so it’s best that certain issues and incidents are ignored entirely.
For when it comes to Wales the Labour Party is primarily a Unionist Party, everything else is secondary. The ‘socialism’ is just sloganising; the ‘concern’ for the downtrodden is nothing more than posturing to justify the maintenance of the party’s third sector auxiliary force; while the hostility to capitalism is an excuse to explain sheer incompetence from arseholes incapable of organising an economy.
Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the Mold Riots. The Poverty Party won’t commemorate the event but those who died and the others who suffered such blatant and racist discrimination should be remembered. They deserve it.
Let’s do it in 2019!
SEND US YOUR SICK AND YOUR ELDERLY, WALES CAN AFFORD IT!
The Conservatives have once again raised the issue of free prescriptions, and once again, they’ve done it without really grasping the problem.
As the article from Llais y Sais tells us, people have been getting Bonjela, Strepsils, and even deodorants on prescription, which is guaranteed to get ‘Apoplectic of Cowbridge’ choking on his single malt but doesn’t amount to much in the greater scheme of things. For the abuse of the free prescription legislation is only the tip of the iceberg.
That’s because free prescriptions attract into Wales large numbers of people who would otherwise be spending a sizeable amount of money every month on prescription charges, for there are no free prescriptions in England. These will be people with serious and long-term conditions.
I see such people every day in Tywyn, and they can be found in every other small town in Wales.
Quite obviously, the demands such people make on the NHS will not be restricted to prescription charges. In fact, prescription charges will be only one small part of the burden imposed by a high dependency group attracted to Wales in the first instance by free prescriptions.
For they will also require hospital treatment, therapy and carers, there may be a nurse calling regularly. Or perhaps it’s transport, from the Wales Mobility and Driving Assessment Service, funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government. Its headquarters are at Rookwood Hospital in Cardiff but it has a northern office in Rhyl and ‘outreach’ services at Newtown, Oswestry and Pembrokeshire.
All of which adds up to a hell of a lot more in monetary terms than prescription charges.
Of course a high percentage of the people we’re discussing will be middle-aged and elderly, which helps explain why we also read in the article, “The number of ‘drugs for dementia’ items rocketed by 1,473% – up from just over 11,000 in 2002 to nearly 179,000 in 2017”.
An iron law of the relationship between Wales and England says: ‘Anything which makes Wales attractive to English people will result in large numbers of English people moving into Wales’.
It would be nice if this was a booming economy, an abundance of well-paid jobs, and a labour shortage, but it’s not. (Of course, many of the better jobs are reserved for English people, but that’s simply because of our colonial status.)
Apart from that, what attracts people to Wales in 2018 – especially the retired and other non-working groups – is cheap property prices (or easy access to social housing), nice scenery, few ‘ethnic minorities’, and free prescriptions.
Yes, Northern Ireland and Scotland also have free prescriptions, but they do not have large numbers of English people, moving in every year. Those that do move are more likely to be students than retirees.
It’s difficult to understand why the situation we experience today could not have been foreseen, and the problem mitigated with a residency period of say 10 years in Wales before anyone qualified for free prescriptions.
Or maybe it was foreseen.
Because if someone wanted to skew Welsh health and sickness statistics, over-burden our NHS, in order to paint a picture of we Welsh being unable to run our own affairs, then free prescriptions is a bloody good way of doing it.
I leave you with the words of a ‘Welsh’ Government spokesperson: “Free prescriptions were introduced in Wales as a long-term investment to improve people’s health”. The truth is that free prescriptions have made Wales a less healthy country.
Here is my response to the e-mails received from you, set out in my previous post.
When I received your request on April 19th to remove the image I’d used, I asked myself, ‘Why has it taken him so long to see an image posted on September 30th 2017?
I concluded that the answer lay in the fact that the article from last September and the article current when you contacted me had one thing in common – a Labour politician who appeared in both articles but did not appear on my blog between those dates.
Upon receiving your first e-mail on April 19th I straight away removed your photograph which, let me add, had always shown, ‘Image: Robert Melen’. At no time did I try to present your photograph as my own, nor did I make any profit from the use of your photograph.
I hoped that was the end of the matter, but no, you came back with a threatening letter you had copied, as with the first, from the EPUK website. In this second e-mail you demanded payment of £150.
Before giving you my decision, let me explain where I stand. I believe that western legal systems – once stripped of religious observations, divine right of kings and other nonsense – are predicated upon, among other things, common sense and a belief in natural justice.
Applying these fundamentals to copyright law means that someone is entitled to compensation if an artistic creation of theirs is stolen or used without their permission by another person, or a corporate entity, to pass off as their own, thereby profiting from that deception.
And I agree with that. But the only element that applies here is that I innocently used your image without your permission, for which I apologise. But I remind you that it was removed immediately you requested its removal and it was always clearly attributed to you.
Further, I claim ‘Fair Dealing’ exemption in that your image was used in my reporting of current events. Namely, the re-opening of the refurbished Castle Bingo and gambling emporium in Morriston. Proven by the fact that the image originally appeared in this news story on the WalesOnline website.
I am driven to conclude that your behaviour has nothing to do with outraged copyright and is instead an attack on freedom of expression, and on my right to criticise – even ridicule – the political party (and its representatives) supported by your employer, the South Wales Evening Post.
Which is why I have decided not to submit to your threats. You will not receive the £150 you demand.
UPDATE 05.05.2018: Robert Melen has been in touch, we have exchanged a few e-mails, and I’m prepared to accept that this was all a misunderstanding. He seems to be a tidy boy just looking out for his young family. So if anyone has photographic work, Rob Melen‘s your man.
Those who contributed to my fighting fund have been notified and they all want their donations to be used either in support of the Argentine economy or else donated to Ein Gwlad. Requests to which I have willingly acceded.
TRENCHING AND TROUGHING AT FIVE MILE LANE, BARRY
In a recent post, News Round-up 25.04.2018, I told you about a road-widening scheme at Five Mile Lane, Barry, in the Vale of Glamorgan. The road in question being the A4226.
It is alleged that work on this site has gone beyond a simple road widening and in the process has damaged an important archaeological site or sites. You can get more information on the claims from the video below.
I contacted Cadw but received nothing beyond an acknowledgement, and so I assumed that the ‘Welsh’ Government source who replied was answering for Cadw (who were cc’d into the correspondence as ‘CADW Mailbox’). The reply came from a Regional Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Archaeology (South East Wales), but I can’t be sure if this person actually works for Cadw, which is now part of the WG.
Confused? I was. Though perhaps it’s explained with my contact telling me: “Cadw lies within the Economy and Transport section of Welsh Governments Economy, Skills and Natural Resource Group (ESNR). Our minister is Dafydd Elis Thomas.” Such familiarity! Lord Elis Thomas, surely!
Anyway, our exchange of e-mails continued and this person turned out to be most helpful.
As we knew, the road-widening scheme was ostensibly the responsibility of Vale of Glamorgan council, and I learnt that the council is being advised on archaeological matters by the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust (GGAT), which is monitoring the site.
In my earlier post I said that the archaeological work, on the ground, as it were, was being done by Rubicon Heritage Services (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of Irish company Rubicon Heritage Services. The subsidiary was liquidated in March 2018, so I asked the Regional Inspector where this left the Five Mile Lane project.
I was told, “Rubicon Heritage Services (UK) Ltd was a subsidiary which was liquidated prior to the start of the project and has had no role in the work at Five Mile Lane, Barry. Rubicon Heritage Services Ltd will continue to deliver the project at Five Mile Lane”.
Which fits with the Irish parent company recently opening a branch office in Cardiff, at the Ringside Business Park. I can’t imagine this being done without Rubicon having expectations of future work in Wales.
In response to my asking what was the ‘Welsh’ Government’s and Cadw’s opinion of the work carried out at Five Mile Lane I was answered: “Dr Jonathan Berry (Cadw Senior Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Archaeology) and I visited the excavations on 18th October 2017. We were given a detailed tour around all of the excavation areas exposed at that time and had an opportunity to discuss their interpretation and observe the quality of work. While this was not a formal inspection visit Cadw did not identify any issues of concern.”
October 2017 is long before the work was done that it’s claimed has caused the damage. When I pointed this out I was told: “I have contacted the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust and obtained reassurances that archaeological work has been undertaken to the standards required by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and according to national legislation for the excavation of burials.”
This e-mail also referred to “visits by independent curators” so, naturally, I asked who these are, and to whom they answer.
I was told: “The quality of the archaeological works at Five Mile Lane is monitored by two independent consultant archaeologist organisations: Cotswold Archaeology and Black Mountains Archaeology.
Rubicon Heritage, Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust, Cotswold Archaeology and Black Mountain Archaeology are all Registered Organisations of the Charted (sic) Institute for Archaeologists, to whom the organisations are accountable.”
I mention this because few things illustrate a people’s colonial status worse than having its past interpreted by strangers, especially when those strangers are representatives of the country that rules over that people.
I suggest that to understand what has happened at Five Mile Lane we need to consider the wider project, and its political importance. Explained in the Parsons Brinckerhoff document.
The widening of the A4226 is to improve access to St Athan (Aston Martin, etc?) and Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone. Despite being nominally the responsibility of the Vale of Glamorgan council, because the ‘Welsh’ Government puts up the money it’s the Bay Bubble calling the shots. So I think we can absolve VoG of any culpability.
What’s happening at Five Mile Lane links with the obscene amounts of public money ELPiW continues to pour into Cardiff Airport, and the bribes given to Aston Martin to move to Wales. For obvious reasons nothing must be allowed to interfere with these ‘investments’ and cause political embarrassment to the ‘Welsh’ Government.
What of the other players in this tragedy?
As we’ve seen, Cadw is now a department of the ‘Welsh’ Government, overseen by loyalist-royalist Dafydd Elis Thomas. Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust gets the bulk of its funding from Cadw, so no ripples from that direction. As for Rubicon, which is actually doing the work at Five Mile Lane, it’s not going to bite the hand that feeds it, especially with a new office in Cardiff. Anticipation of further work from the ‘Welsh’ Government also keeps Cotswold Archaeology and Black Mountains Archaeology on board.
Which means that to protect the ‘Welsh’ Government’s image important archaeological sites can be trashed and the graves of our ancestors desecrated.
Par for the course in a corrupt colony run by a bunch of collaborationist shites.
I quite like Brecon, and the wife is very fond of the town, insisting that we stop there if we’re heading south on the A470. But there have been news reports recently and information emerging suggesting that there are some pretty ugly people living thereabouts.
I can’t understand why a Finn serving in the British army would want to settle in Llansilin. Come to that, why did a Finn join the British army? Another mystery is the unnamed civilian defendant described in one report as the National Action ‘regional organiser’ who was jailed for three-and-half years. Why unnamed? Which region?
A further mystery is the weapons found “at two properties in Powys occupied by Vehvilainen” . . . but apparently they had nothing to do with him?
Moving down the scale of obnoxiousness we come to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. The party leaders are David Bevan, born in Neath, and Jonathon Harrington, born in London but living somewhere in the Beacons.
Their backgrounds are fascinating. Dai served in the British army and was chairman of the Cardiff branch of Ukip until that lot went soft on devolution. Jon’s family moved to a farm in the Beacons when he was eight, and when he grew up he took himself off to South Africa, and Rhodesia, when Smiffy was running things. As the result of a fall on Cader Idris (for some reason spelled ‘Cadir’ in his bio) he is paraplegic.
According to Harrington’s bio, the AWAP is needed in order “to represent the views of the great but silent majority.” This must be the same silent majority that wants to name the Second Seven Crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge.
Staying in the Brecon area we return to Wales for a United Kingdom.
The W4aUK Facebook page tells us that 70% of the people of Wales believe in CANZUK. While in what I suspect serves as the manifesto we read, “We have multiple admin running the page day and night so please feel free to message us with any queries.”
Or possibly a lone insomniac.
I must confess, I don’t recall being consulted about CANZUK. Was it restricted to that silent majority we keep hearing about? And has W4aUK thought it through? Because freedom of movement could result in all sorts turning up, demanding entry to this scepter’d isle.
Before you know it it’ll be digeridoo virtuosos on Britain’s Got Talent, big, tattooed buggers demanding to rub noses with you . . . but worst of all, there’ll be nothing to stop thousands of Frenchies moving here from Canada! What’s the point of getting out of the EU if the buggers start coming from the opposite direction?
For after studying History & Archaeology at the University of Wales he spurned oodles of ‘Welsh’ Government funding, and the chance to trash burial sites, in order to serve at the Coracle Fish Bar in Brecon. From where he seems to have moved on, via Harry Ramsden’s, to Kentucky Fried Chicken, rising from team leader to assistant under-manager.
Or perhaps the question is, what has the Brecon area done to deserve Finnish racists, yearners for Rhodesia, and boy wonder BritNats? And how many of them were actually born anywhere near Brecon?
THE BRITNAT LEFT AND ‘THE SHARED EXPERIENCE’
The ‘shared experience’ is one of the most powerful tools in the Unionist armoury because it gives people from different walks of life, different parts of the country, something to bind them together.
The most powerful shared experiences are of course war, especially World War One and World War Two, but even smaller conflicts such as that in the South Atlantic can fill the role. Or more recent adventures in the Middle East. The government sends soldiers and other combatants from every corner of the state, every area loses some young men, the media joins in – bingo! you have a shared experience helping to bind the state together.
Obviously, the WWII generation is nearly gone and the smaller wars don’t generate enough ‘patriotism’. Because while it was virtually impossible to argue against the necessity of going to war in 1939 ‘dodgy dossiers’ and other revelations make recent foreign military adventures easy targets for critics.
And so the state must play the shared experience card in other ways. For example, flooding our television screens with programmes called ‘Great British Bookshelves’ and ‘Great British Bollocks’ – ‘cos we’re all British, innit!’ The point being that when you have people in Derry, Dundee, Doncaster and Dowlais watching and enjoying the same television programmes then the state’s on a winner.
And in recent years it has been made easier by the state enforcing its control. To the extent that BBC Scotland and BBC Wales have become state propaganda outlets rather than national broadcasters for Scotland and Wales. For while a British shared experience must be promoted it must inevitably be done at the expense of a shared Scottish or Welsh experience.
Royal events inevitably play their role. When Princess Wilhelmina of Troutbridge-on-the-Wold knocks out another sprog all TV programmes must be interrupted with ‘Rejoice! Superior being gives birth to yet another superior being!’
This shameless exploitation of the monarchy is why another Investiture in Caernarfon cannot be ruled out.
Pushing a shared experience is becoming more difficult, hence the increasing desperation evident in the mainstream media. The difficulty being due to fewer people getting their information from newspapers, radio or television. When did you last see a teenager holding a newspaper that he or she wasn’t taking home for parents or grandparents?
The left in Wales has always bought into the shared experience.
Which explains why the Labour Party has always been the British establishment’s secret weapon and bulwark. The party of ‘King, Country, and a 40-hour week (but only if it’s agreeable to you, sir [doffs cap])’. A sell-out party.
In Wales, the fact that the Labour Party was largely built by non-Welsh migrants to the southern coalfield resulted in the party being contemptuous of Welshness, dismissing our ancestors as gibberish-speaking savages, their leaders as bandits, and even arguing that Wales didn’t exist before the Industrial Revolution.
It would be nice to think, after almost two decades of devolution, that the hostility to things Welsh was evaporating from what chooses to call itself the ‘Welsh Labour Party’. But no, it’s still there, and it surfaced again on May Day, with a piece in the Wasting Mule by Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Labour MP for Torfaen.
The lengthy article trotted out the same old bigotry – Wales was nothing before the Industrial Revolution. Which also promotes the shared experience of industrialisation, far preferable to anything uniquely Welsh. Two for the price of one!
The Labour Party has betrayed Welsh people, it has betrayed the working class, and it has betrayed those communities that vote Labour. Which is exactly what it was intended to do. For a prosperous, confident Wales would be a threat to the Union, so Wales must be kept poor, and no one does that better than Labour.
We’ve had Labour on our backs for a century. Regrettably, what helps keep them there is more sincere socialists, and liberals deceiving themselves that the English Labour Party in Wales is ‘progressive’, and so they must align themselves with it against what they are told is the real enemy, in the form of the Conservatives.
Listen to me, and listen good. There is nothing ‘progressive’ about the Labour Party. It is the real enemy. The party attracts members motivated by self-interest and it operates like a Mafia, putting Labour interests above those of Wales, and defending the rackets of its colonial gravy train.
Perhaps what Wales needs at this juncture is a Welsh socialist party, one that concerns itself with Wales and Welsh interests. Because Plaid Cymru has failed in trying to satisfy everyone, and such a party could also attract the more sincere supporters of ELPiW.
For all those who need to be weaned off damaging BritNat socialism and the propaganda of the shared experience then the halfway house of a Welsh socialist party might fit the bill.
My attention was drawn last Saturday morning to a very curious story on the BBC Wales website. Telling of some woman named Miranda Whall who has been crawling around on all fours in the hills inland of Aberystwyth (apparently sober!). Read it for yourself.
My instant, and characteristically cynical, reaction, put out on Twitter, was, “Rarely does one encounter such unutterable bollocks. There must be grant funding involved somewhere”.
Sure enough, I was very soon sent evidence that this stunt had netted £25,000 from the Lottery. Was there also money from other sources?
According to the BBC Wales report the inspiration for this stunt ground-breaking transhuman art “came to Miranda in 2015 after reading a book called The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, which explores life in the Scottish Cairngorms. (Are there other Cairngorms?) She said: ‘Nan Shepherd wrote about immersing herself in the mountains and opening up her imagination to rethink how we look at them’.”
Let’s be honest – which of us hasn’t felt that same urge to rush into the hills and become one with our woolly compatriots. (Not a reference to the Liberal Democrats.) Many of us do it regularly . . . and some get caught. But enough of that.
The BBC article, by Gwyneth Rees, also provided a link to a video on the Vimeo platform by the Rhys Thwaites-Jones whose photograph I’ve used above. The video is called Woolly Maggot. Which I suppose makes sense to somebody.
Further information received directed me to an article in the Daily Mail telling of someone pretending to be a goat in the Swiss Alps back in 2015. Here it is. The article tells us that being a goat was not Thomas Thwaites’ first choice: ‘I initially wanted to be an elephant, but it wasn’t going very well,’ said Thwaites. ‘I visited a shaman, and she said “you’re an idiot”. So, I decided to be a goat.’
I suggest Thwaites thanks the shaman. Trying to mix in with a herd of elephants could have ended a lot worse than scraped knees and Swiss shepherds wetting their lederhosen. The lions would definitely have targeted him as the weak one in the herd.
Thwaites was funded in this nonsense by the Wellcome Trust to the tune of £30,000 for five months. A paid holiday in the Alps is nice work if you can get it. If you class it as work, that is.
At this point, might it be worth speculating that Rhys Thwaites-Jones is married to the sister of goat man Thomas Thwaites? And, as a consequence, that Miranda Whall’s inspiration came from the brother-in-law of the guy who made her video, rather than some crazy old bat up in the hielands.
Or is there a clique of them – a flock? a herd? – out there looking for sponsors? There certainly seems to be plenty of money out there for anybody who can come up with an idiotic and self-indulgent project that ticks the right boxes.
Personally, I’m thinking of applying for a grant to imagine myself as an Argentine wine drinker. For which I shall need to live in Argentina for a while (take in a few football games, the odd asado, tango lessons with bosomy Argie matrons) and then, to satisfy the funders, make a film of me getting pissed really getting into the role and attending a rally to demand the return of the Malvinas.
It’ll be hard, but I promise to give it my best shot.
Finally, for anyone who might have been wondering, Miranda was trying to pass herself off as a sheep during the summer months, before the rams are brought in to do their stuff. Just as well, I suppose, otherwise Miranda might have found out what it’s like to be sheep in ways she hadn’t planned.
On the plus side, it would have been far more authentic and given Rhys Thwaites-Jones a much more interesting video. The boy could have made a fortune on YouTube. (And certain websites I’m informed cater for that sort of thing.)
CHAD AND BRAD MOVE TO RHYL
Regular readers will know that over many years I have questioned the practice of dumping England’s criminals and degenerates on the north coast. Rhyl being the town worst affected.
Were the local authority and police made aware that two dangerous little thugs had (been) moved onto their patch?
On the assumption that North Wales Police must know about this unending influx, does the force get payments to cover the extra work involved, and if so, where do these payments come from?
Why are local politicians so easy-going about a regular influx of violent people that endanger, and indeed murder and assault their constituents?
Why have journalists written up their reports as if these criminals were local? Or is the decision to hide the origin taken at an editorial level?
Chief Inspector Neil Harrison of North Wales Police commented on the case, “We are determined to maintain a safe North Wales and will always pursue those who bring harm to our communities.” If he’s serious then he and North Wales Police will do something to stop the dumping of scum like this in Wales.
The bottom line here is that ‘re-locating’ England’s rejects in Wales would be much less likely to happen if we had our own legal system. Because do you think Scotland accepts English criminals? The fact that Wales suffers dumping on an industrial scale is one of the reasons London refuses us a separate legal system.
Next time the issue comes up in Westminster I want Welsh MPs to remember all the people in Wales who have been killed, raped, robbed and assaulted by criminals who wouldn’t have been in our country if we had our own jurisdiction.
WOODY ALLEN LOOKALIKE DEFENDS ROD LIDDLE AND FEDOR THE ‘JUGONOSTALGIC’ JOINS IN
The fall-out from Alun Cairns’ announcement that the second Severn Crossing will be officially named the Prince of Wales Bridge continues.
We’re all familiar with the defence used by Liddle, Delingpole and others too numerous to name. We Welsh lack a sense of humour, we are told to ‘get a life’, and most important of all, by defending ourselves we are attacking someone else’s freedom to express themselves.
Which is where I would normally agree with our detractors, for I have always opposed political correctness and the censorship that goes with it.
But those we are discussing are not really defending freedom of speech. What they are defending is the right of an extreme form of English nationalism to say whatever it likes about minorities in these islands, be they ‘minorities’ that pre-date the arrival of the English or minorities here as a result of England’s imperial past.
For no matter how measured and urbane the likes of Delingpole may appear, beneath the surface there writhes a shield-beating Beowulf trying to break out and slay the Grendels defiling their land.
This is no more than we can expect from English writers, but perhaps the most bizarre and insulting defence of Cairns’ decision came from within Wales. I’m referring now to a piece on the Wales Arts Review by Fedor Tot.
‘Who he?’ you demand. Well, Tot describes himself on his Twitter account @redrightman (which uses a picture of a fag-smoking Tito) as a “Serbian-born, Welsh-raised. Yugonostalgic. Probable Comemeunist.” Make of that what you will.
Despite prefacing his piece with, “The decision to rename the Severn Bridge as the Prince of Wales Bridge to is by all means a silly and empty one, one designed purely as a meaningless PR exercise for Tory powers in Westminster, who have no interest in Wales other than as a resource for cheap sheep jokes and the occasional seat. It is a vacuous symbol of valueless political power” he then goes on to attack those opposing this “vacuous symbol” and links them with fascists!
Tot is a Serb, and like many Serbs he suffers from motes and beams, blaming ‘nationalism’ – on the part of Croats, Slovenes, Albanians, Muslims and others – for the break-up of Jugoslavia, but is himself blind to Serbian nationalism. It’s as if the ruling or majority group in a multi-national state can never be guilty of nationalism because it seeks to hold the state together against the centrifugal forces of peripheral nationalisms.
He seems unable to grasp that those seeking to hold such states together are themselves motivated by selfish and nationalistic reasons. The difference being that Jugoslavia was cobbled together after World War One and the Serbs didn’t have enough time to confuse Serbian identity with Jugoslav identity in the way that the English have done, to the extent of Englishness and Britishness now being synonymous and interchangeable.
This explains why Tot can attack us for being nationalistic in opposing the PoW Bridge but make only passing reference to the British nationalism explicit in the naming. (Though I suppose that the confused and unproofread intro could be the work of someone else.)
Though the boy shows promise as a political commentator with this observation: “I would like to clarify for a second here: I do not consider the majority of Plaid Cymru to be a nationalist party, and neither should it consider calling itself a nationalist party, despite the common usage of the term ‘civic nationalism’. Rather what Plaid calls for is something that’s better off being called regionalism or autonomism, as it promotes economic and political independence based on the existence of a region traditionally ignored by centralised powers, a response I very much respect and agree with.”
Chwarae teg, Fedor.
It may be no coincidence that Fedor Tot’s rather silly and insulting piece appeared on the website of the Wales Arts Council, a Cardiff organisation that relies on the ‘Welsh’ Government for much of its funding. I ask you to note that fact because Fedor Tot’s piece was nothing but a reiteration of the BritNat line.
It was the nationalism of the state, be it Britain or Jugoslavia.
P.S. Fedor Tot wants me to make it clear that he is not a Serbian nationalist. Fair enough, I’m happy to do that.
But he describes himself as a Yugonostalgic, in that he yearns for the old Jugoslavia. But Jugoslavia was Serbia’s little empire, held together by the power of Serbian nationalism; as soon as they could, the other nationalities got out.
So what is he nostalgic for? Tell us, Fedor.
‘NUFFIN TO SEE HERE, GUV’
If what I’m hearing is true, then a terrible crime has been perpetrated in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Rubicon could be a kosher outfit, on the other hand it could be the kind of company that – for a price – will find nothing to impede developers.
I urge you to watch the video and draw your own conclusions. Then, if, like me, you feel that an insult of national significance has been perpetrated I’d like you to contact the politicians who seem to have given the green light to this desecration or else may be minded to stop it and save what can be salvaged.
Given that it is our history, and people living in Wales today are descended from those who lived on this site, those whose remains were treated with contempt, this may explain why local archaeologists were not employed. Come to that, who was responsible for hiring an ‘archaeology’ company from God knows where teetering on the brink of liquidation? Or were those the attractions of Rubicon Heritage Services?
Make your voice heard. Demand answers as to who gave the order for a ‘road-widening’ project to exceed its planning consent and destroy a valuable Bronze Age, Iron Age, possibly Neolithic site.
AND FINALLY . . .
Carwyn Jones has thrown in the towel, though I’m at a loss to understand why anyone was surprised by the announcement he made last weekend at the ‘Welsh’ Labour conference. He’s been doomed since Carl Sargeant’s suicide on November 7th and the evidence started emerging about the role of lobbyists Deryn and other parties.
The hot favourite to replace him as Labour leader and First Minister is Mark Drakeford, the Assembly Member for Cardiff West, just. For at the last Assembly election in May 2016 Drakeford was given a nasty shock by local councillor Neil McEvoy standing for Plaid Cymru.
Although he didn’t win Cardiff West Neil McEvoy made it to the Assembly as Regional Member for South Wales Central.
Now whoever leads the Labour Party in Wales is expected to be a constituency (rather than a regional) AM; he or she is also expected to have a solid majority in order to be able to concentrate on being leader rather than having to worry about holding on to their seat.
But if the trend evident in 2016 is repeated in 2021 then Drakeford might not be elected. For Neil McEvoy is a man on the rise . . . or was until his own party decided to sabotage his political career. Let’s look at the chronology.
By June 2017 it was widely believed that Carwyn Jones was preparing to stand down in the near future. This report lists four potential successors, but Drakeford is not among them.
In less than a year, the threat of losing in 2021 to Neil McEvoy is removed and Drakeford emerges from obscurity to be the shoe-in successor to Carwyn Jones. Whether by accident or design the engineered downfall of Neil McEvoy parallels the emergence of his rival in Cardiff West to be the next First Minister of Wales. Funny old game, politics, innit?
“I’m the unity candidate” says the headline in this report, but Drakeford might also be the Plaid Cymru candidate.
I’ve neglected you in recent weeks, relying on two excellent guest posts from Brychan Davies and Aled Gwyn Jôb. But now I’m back. With a vengeance!
Though this offering is long, over 3,000 words, it’s made up of six different items, so you can take them one at a time if you like.
THE BEAST FROM THE EAST
You may beware – then again, you might have better things to do – that there is currently an election under way for a deputy leader in the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party. The two candidates are Julie Morgan, widow of Rhodri, while in the other corner we see the MP for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris.
I am no longer au fait with how things are done in bruvverdom but as a reactionary I’m delighted to see old traditions maintained with local commissar for the trade union Unite, Andy Richards, deciding on their behalf that its members all supported Harris. Unfortunately for him, it turned out that quite a number of his members preferred Mrs Morgan. And they said so publicly, in a video supporting Mrs Morgan.
This infuriated Comrade Richards to such an extent that the revisionists were put on the slow train for Siberia suspended. But word came there from above over-ruling the local commissar, from the office of Unite supremo McCluskey, Friend of the People, Hero of the Revolution, recipient of the Order of Jeremy and countless other commendations.
And so it came to pass that the train was stopped at Severn Junction and the suspended officials escorted off to be reunited with their loved ones, and reinstated into the bruvverhood, Zils and dachas restored.
During the festivities attending their restoration to the fold (held on the sunlit uplands), a friend of the previously suspended officials said: “I’m pleased the Unite team nationally have shown leadership on this issue, which unfortunately has been so lacking in Wales”.
So there you have it. It seems that in trade unions the old ways of doing things still obtain in the more backward oblasts. Thankfully, at ‘national’ level we find a leadership more attuned to the new-fangled Glasnost.
This case has dragged on for over two years and taken its toll on Ms Lee, especially since South Wales Police told her at one stage the case was being dropped!
I don’t know about you, but thinking of the countless expenses scandals, I find it rather grotesque that an MP should accuse anyone of paying themselves too much. This could bring irony into disrepute.
CYMDEITHAS CAER LAS
I know, I know . . . you’re thinking, “Who or what is Cymdeithas Caer Las?”, as well you might, because Caer Las is one of those organisations that prefers to keep a low profile. Explained by the fact that it’s in the business of running ‘hostels’ and in other ways housing those “suffering exclusion” – code for ex-cons and others that most people don’t want living anywhere near them.
Despite being based in the centre of Swansea Caer Las has always been very busy across the mighty torrent to the west. To the extent that a few years back people started calling Llanelli ‘Little Beirut‘ due to the problems caused by undesirables turning up in certain areas of the town. The worst affected areas seemed to around the railway station and down to Seaside, an area of small terraced houses, which of course are cheap to buy.
A third sector outfit that received over three million pounds last year, the great bulk of it from the ‘Welsh’ Government, and where roughly 70% of that income went on salaries. An organisation that, to keep the funding flowing, brings in clients from over the border.
The ‘Welsh’ third sector in microcosm.
I don’t know who the poor sod who died was, but he has my sympathy. The system will now go through its motions, an investigation will be followed by a quick inquest and perhaps a pauper’s grave.
There are plenty more where he came from to keep Caer Las and countless other third sector businesses thriving.
WALES AND WEST HOUSING IN CEREDIGION
First the good news. Ceredigion planning committee refused the application by Wales and West Housing to build on the Ffynnonbedr school site in Lampeter. Given the problems ‘Welsh’ Labour’s favourite housing association has already caused in the town with its other properties it would have been perverse of the councillors to have allowed this anti-social housing scheme.
But as is so often the case, planning officers wanted to rush ahead, citing a (non-existent) local demand for one-bed flats. Over years of studying local government it’s become clear to me that too many senior officers in our local authorities are strangers to Wales and unsympathetic to Welsh priorities. This is a problem that must be remedied with the next local government reorganisation.
Though in this case the officer involved, Keith Davies, is Welsh, but seems to operate as an employee of Wales and West rather than Cyngor Ceredigion. Maybe it comes down to politics.
The result was that the council was pushed into the arms of Wales and West, who promised to replace Bodlondeb with a new development on the Plas Morolwg site. The understanding being that the new Plas Morolwg facility would provide a dementia unit to replace the one lost at Bodlondeb.
But I learn there will be no dementia wing at Plas Morolwg. The new development looks increasingly like a purely commercial venture, perhaps like the Pobl Group’s Cwm Aur retirement flats near Llanybydder, which were advertised on Right Move. (So obviously no local connection required.)
And let’s not forget that we’re talking big bucks here. A similar extra care scheme opened by Wales and West last year in Newtown, Powys received a £4m Social Housing Grant from the ‘Welsh’ Government. Though note that the caption below also tells us, “Wales and West funded the remainder with £3.5m”. Wasn’t that generous of them?
No, not really. Not when we remember that everything housing associations own today has been given to them. From the housing stock they took over from councils and other bodies to the never-ending grants; yet they behave – and expect to be treated! – as if they’re independent and self-supporting businesses!
And with housing associations building retirement homes and other facilities it reminds us that it’s not just the social housing role that they’ve usurped from local councils. But are they qualified to run care facilities? In the case of the Newtown scheme care is provided by Wales and West’s very own Castell Care and Support which comes under the umbrella of Castell Ventures.
Housing associations and other third sector bodies are increasingly taking over the running of Wales. They own property paid for from the public purse, they receive vast sums every year from the ‘Welsh’ Government, yet unlike local authorities there is no democratic accountability. We can’t even submit a Freedom of Information request because they’re exempt from FoI legislation.
But sod that, all that matters is that they’re accountable to the Labour Party and stuffed with Labour cronies.
Before ending this section let’s just return to Plas Morolwg for a minute. And talking of money, let’s remember that Wales and West got a Social Housing Grant of £1.6m to buy the site – which it already owned! Though according to council leader Ellen ap Gwynn the money is being given for “enabling works”, whatever the hell that means.
Though to judge by reactions from her and council officers when a councillor raised the issue at a cabinet meeting the £1.6m is probably supposed to be a secret.
Now that Labour’s Wales and West Housing has reneged on providing dementia care at Plas Morolwg I predict that the local Momentum crowd led by wannabe politician Dinah Mulholland will take to the streets again to attack the council for letting down vulnerable people.
UPDATE: Right on cue, to increase my worries about housing associations taking on roles for which they are not suited, an article appeared in Llais y Sais today, written by Jas Bains, chief executive of Hafod. Jas has been in Wales for almost a year, so he knows exactly what Wales needs.
Jas writes, “Our plan is to take this a step further, using this opportunity of transformational change to fully integrate housing provision into the new health and care models, based on neighbourhoods and communities”.
But where is the political or legal authority for unaccountable bodies entrusted with the provision of social housing to take over social care and health provision? Where is the expertise? Does ‘Welsh’ Labour plan to use its housing associations to retain power in a country where its moral authority is ebbing away?
WALES FOR A UNITED KINGDOM
Someone contacted me anonymously last week suggesting that Wales for a United Kingdom may be run by a couple of men who own an online gift business with an address in Brecon’s West End. I was unable to establish a firm connection, so if you have any further information please get back in touch.
As might be expected, I made a few enquiries. First off, the Twitter account – from which I’m blocked! Can you believe that? (I can only assume they’ve got me mixed up with some other Jac o’ the North.) There’s an easy way around being blocked, so I went through the timeline.
Here’s an example of what I found.
All in all, it’s rather a sad little site, almost patronising; promoting a ‘Cute little Wales’ kind of Welshness that suggests those behind it aren’t Welsh at all. It should also go without saying that those behind Wales for a United Kingdom are opposed to devolution, perhaps because they think the natives aren’t ready to run their own affairs. Such things being best left to the Great White Mother and her people.
It’s also a site to which the military – especially the RAF – seems to be very important. What is it with these BritNats; their ‘Britishness’, their patriotism, seems to be fixated on the military and the monarchy? It’s all about belting out GSTQ and then giving Johnny Foreigner a damn good kicking.
I look forward to seeing England football fans trying that behaviour in Russia this summer during the World Cup.
Do the English have nothing else to be proud of? Or do BritNats suffer from an imperial hangover? A question worth asking because there seem to be quite a few of them about, so be on your guard, and report any sightings to Jac.
UPDATE: My source came back to confirm that the person behind Wales for a United Kingdom is Adam Jon Brown of Brecon. He and his partner Raymond Michael Parkinson started Bluebellsgifts Ltd last August.
Coincidentally, Brown’s identity was confirmed by another source via Facebook who added that Adam Jon Brown might work for Kentucky Fried Chicken. He certainly had worked for the Colonel in the recent past.
It was bad enough, if predictable, that the suggestion should come from a Conservative politician, but the dire state of this nation was further exposed when we learnt that the ‘Welsh’ Government had been consulted, and either agreed that it was a splendid idea or just went along with it.
Predictably, a BritNat twat writing for an English newspaper waded in to the hitherto internal debate. The twat in question being Rod Liddle of the Sunday Times. Complaints were made to IPSO, the so-called ‘press watchdog’, but because we Welsh don’t kill people, plant bombs, or riot, it was rejected.
Perhaps emboldened by the current ‘Let’s put the buggers in their place’ campaign, that began its recent cycle with the Flint Ring of Steel, some silly sod then suggested that what Wales really needs is not jobs, or a decent health service, or a better transport infrastructure, but a royal palace. (C’mon, be honest, after a few jars you’ve often thought the same thing.)
The ‘Welsh’ media duly reported it in the forensic manner we have come to expect, “Wales would benefit by creating a royal palace” reads the headline in the article by Martin Shipton, focusing on the vague suggestion that such a palace might generate tourism income, and the great man himself listed the benefits with bullet points.
The real reason, and the true thinking behind it, was blatantly political, and equally blatantly BritNat.
We have to push on to the halfway point to read: “In an era when the UK appears to be becoming increasingly fragmented, it (the proposed palace) could act as a focus by binding the Welsh nation into the union with the other nations in the British Isles”.
Stripped of all the bollocks about economic benefits, and international recognition, this is just another piece of very unsubtle BritNat poking, to see if we’re still awake, and reacting. Let’s confirm that we’re awake and alert by telling anyone supporting this idea to fuck right off.
THE 2017 ELECTION IN GOWER
For those unfamiliar with the locale, Gower is the third Swansea constituency, taking in Mumbles, the peninsula that gives the constituency its name, and then running north to the former industrial towns on the city’s western and northern peripheries such as Gowerton and Gorseinon.
Until the May 2015 general election Gower had always returned a Labour MP, but then the unthinkable happened, Port Eynon-born former Met police officer, Swansea councillor and then AM, Byron Davies won the seat by just 27 votes. This was not well received by the bruvvers, and plans were hatched to regain the seat, by hook or by crook.
The campaign in Gower was febrile, with Labour shipping canvassers in from England to its number one target seat. We also saw the darker side of Labour behaviour with an orchestrated and coordinated campaign of lies against the sitting MP, even death threats. Now those responsible are being identified.
His Linkedin profile tells us that he’s a ‘freelance filmmaker’ (sic), while also being a youth and community worker at the Red Cafe in Mumbles, and he’s also involved with the Down to Earth project. To judge from the photographs provided, these enterprises don’t do much for the indigenous population. Typical third sector.
Now I don’t wish to be unkind, but one thing that pisses me off with socialists, especially those with pretensions to intellectual status, is their air of moral and intellectual superiority. I’m talking now about the looking-down-the-nose attitude which dismisses anyone who disagrees with them as both stupid and evil.
This imagined superiority, coupled with delusions of being on some kind of crusade (a word used surprisingly often by Labour politicians), convinces many of those I’m describing that any tactics are justifiable.
But when these secular sentiments of superiority are intermingled with religious fervour in the service of Labour we reach unprecedented heights of self-righteous certainty, and this is where we find the likes of Dan Evans.
But he was not alone. Byron Davies says he has a list of six people guilty of slandering him, and even spreading unfounded rumours about his wife.
I’m told that a centre for this dirty campaign was Penclawdd rugby club. Some might think this an unlikely setting for such skulduggery, but Tonia Antoniazzi was an international rugby player. I’m also told that in the clubhouse may be found some of the most vicious and vindictive Labour types, one guy in particular.
But what should happen now?
As Theresa May said in parliament yesterday, Byron Davies lost his seat due to a social media campaign of lies waged against him by Labour Party supporters. More specifically, supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. In other words, the same evil schemers of Momentum we met earlier in Ceredigion.
I believe that Tonia Antoniazzi should stand down and there should be a by-election in Gower. But she won’t do that. A woman who couldn’t get elected onto her local town council a few years back, and only became an MP last year thanks to the most evil campaign seen in Wales for many years, will not risk losing her cushy number with a fair election.
And what of Dan Evans? Given that he does a lot of work for the Labour Party will they tell him there’ll be no work in future? And on the assumption he’s also a member, will he be expelled from the party?
Then there’s the question of whether the campaign was organised on a purely local level by people like Dan Evans or whether it was run from higher up the Labour food chain. For as I’ve said, this was Labour’s number one target seat in 2017, not just in Wales, but across the island.
Will the Labour Party now investigate whether any other of its members and supporters was involved in the campaign against Byron Davies? If it wasn’t done by the Labour Party (as we like to think of it), then there must be a very good chance of it having been organised within the ranks of Momentum.
Either way it is becoming clearer by the day that despite the self-delusional images of crusades, its members’ laughable belief in moral and intellectual superiority, the Labour Party is morally bankrupt and intellectually corrupt.
The Labour Party today represents nothing but itself. It clings to power for no better reason than that power provides a whole structure of patronage through which it can control Welsh public life and then use that control to hang on to power.
And because this is how Labour operates the party attracts people seeking personal advancement, who could just as easily join Zanu-PF if that lot was running Wales. When you have these in the same party as the intellectually and morally pretentious then you have a Hyde and Hyde party.
Because just like some monster from a horror movie ‘Welsh’ Labour corrupts everything it comes into contact with. So there must be no more compromises or co-operation; when confronted with evil like this there can only be one response. The Labour Party must be destroyed.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being lied to. Obviously, when it’s your children, or grandchildren, you often suppress a smile before putting them straight. But when it’s a corporate body as powerful and influential as the British Broadcasting Corporation, then it’s an entirely different matter.
For this is a source of information beamed into just about every home on this island and still trusted by most people.
That trust is misplaced, for the BBC is now the state broadcaster, the voice of the London government and, more insidiously, the voice of Britain and a stultifying Britishness. This latter role results in the BBC misinforming people in Scotland and Wales about their homelands, and it also results in people around the world being given a deliberately distorted view of events in these countries.
It was this realisation, and the thought of some campaign against the propaganda machine that prompted the tweet you see above. This tweet encouraged the guest post you’re now going to read.
A GUEST POST BY BRYCHAN DAVIES
Jac suggests on his twitter feed a campaign of non-payment of the television licence fee in light of the now clear editorial bias of the BBC in favour of the union, regularly demonstrated in the coverage of Scottish affairs.
I have therefore taken time to look at how the television licence fee is spent, what happens in Wales, and what happens in the rest of Europe.
A two frame spreadsheet is attached.
In the first frame I have divided the total BBC revenue for the television licence according to population of the countries within the union. The cost of the TV licence is the same in all countries. I have then extracted from this the services provided specifically to Wales, like the two ‘regional’ radio stations, the spend on S4C and then a population proportion for English language television broadcasts, online content, and administration, where Wales is treated as a ‘region’.
In the second frame I have listed the television licence fee payable in other countries in Europe, including countries where the licence fee has been recently abolished.
You will notice that income from TV licences issued in Wales is £180m per year while spending on all services the BBC provide to Wales is £240m per year. Some would argue that this is a subsidy of £60m per year. Those who are hostile to the Welsh language would argue that this is S4C (£76m per year) but for this to be true, all Welsh speakers have four eyes and are able to consume both English and Welsh content simultaneously. Previously only £70m of S4C revenues was not funded by the BBC and directly funded from direct taxation via the Whitehall department of Media and Sport, prior to that all of S4C was funded by DCMS.
The issue with ‘state financed’ content is that if it costs £10m to make a content series this does not change, whether 3m people consume it or 55m people consume it. Only commercially financed content has a ‘break-even’ point in terms of viewers.
Plaid Cymru argue that ‘broadcasting should be devolved’. If this happened and the full array of BBC content currently available in Wales was to be maintained, the licence fee in Wales would need to increase from £147pa to £200pa or the shortfall financed through the block grant.
The reality is that the BBC is a unionist institution and while the population are fed a steady stream of ‘Eastenders bake a cake on Countryfile while Dancing in Coronation Street’, content which could alternatively be provided by commercial broadcasting on Sky, ITV, C4, C5, and others. What comes with the BBC, it’s USP, is a ‘unionist’ news service and content which in the last few years are broadcast as ‘Great British Bake-Offs’, an obsession with World War One documentaries and empire nostalgia dressed up as ‘lifestyle’ and ‘heritage’.
A true Welsh nationalist would have to ague for the abolition of the television licence fee, and that any BBC content imported and consumed from England be on the basis of commercial subscription, as applies in the Irish Republic. This would also mean that Wales only content would either be financed by…
commercial activity only
One of the effects of making BBC imports a subscription pack is that more people consume content on other commercially available transmissions. This would result in a massive increase in the value of commercial sales advertising on Welsh channels.
from a much lower Wales only licence fee
To fund the £76m for a Welsh language channel, a Wales News channel in the English language at £20m with entertainment content purchased globally, the 18m of Radio Cymru and the £20m for Radio Wales giving a £100pa Welsh licence fee.
direct government grant for this from general taxation of £134m
Radio Wales can be based in the existing facility in Swansea, Radio Cymru can be based in the existing facility in Bangor and the English language TV channel can be housed in the new S4C facility in Carmarthen giving greater capacity utilisation. The most difficult issue in any of these options is having to demolish that new building currently squatting outside Cardiff Central railway station, where a bus/tram interchange should be or selling it off to fund transition costs.
♦ end ♦
Jac adds . . .
Since the poisonings of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th the BBC has slavishly toed the official line that it was Putin what done it. The nerve agent involved was quickly identified and attributed to Putin’s henchmen. Following the attack the USA and other countries fell into line and expelled Russian diplomats. It unfolded so neatly that it looked almost choreographed.
The BBC is still telling us that, “The British government says a military-grade Novichok nerve agent of a type developed by Russia was used in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia”. So who in the British Government has the expertise to identify nerve agents – David Davis, Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson?
In matters like this the experts are to be found at Porton Down, the UK’s centre for chemical and biological warfare. On April 3rd Porton Down’s chief executive, Gary Aitkenhead, told us they could not prove that the agent used to poison the Skripals had come from Russia. (Given that Aitkenhead is Scottish maybe it’s only a matter of time before the Daily Mail attacks him for being a ‘Sturgeon stooge’.)
This announcement clearly undermined the UK government’s case against Russia. Which is almost certainly why the BBC’s main Six O’Clock News programme on April 3rd ignored it entirely, and led with the important story of a 96-year-old man going into hospital for a hip operation.
Folks, we have a serious problem on our hands. We are paying to be lied to. Either they stop lying or we must stop paying.
Over recent years, at the prompting of political friends of the homelessness industry, both BBC Wales and the print media have given television series and pages of newsprint so that the countless competing and duplicating businesses in the sector can promote themselves and their ‘mission’.
To my knowledge, nothing even vaguely critical of the homelessness racket has been allowed. It’s the sort of publicity other commercial enterprises usually have to pay for.
But this free publicity is not restricted to companies in the homelessness business, it covers all bodies operating in the third sector, to the extent that the third sector has achieved the status of royalty or dead heroes in that it’s beyond criticism.
If nothing else, this exposes yet again the problems caused to Wales and Welsh public life by the incestuous little world we know as the Cardiff Bay Bubble.
We saw it with the death of Carl Sargeant and we see it again in the crucifixion of Neil McEvoy. A politician’s political or personal enemies ask a lobbying outfit to get some friend in the third sector to make a silly claim of harassment, or bullying, or bum-touching.
The victimisation process might even be initiated by the lobbyists themselves. (‘Shame on you!’ I hear.)
Then it’s a case of all girls together and another poor man-beast is brought down.
Another part of the Bay Bubble is the ‘Welsh’ media, which cannot criticise the third sector, stuffed with Labour Party members and supporters, without offending the Labour Party itself. So the third sector gets the kind of kid-glove treatment I’ve just described.
So who loses out? You and me, my friend, and the 99.9% of Wales lying outside of the Cardiff Bay Bubble.
WCVA STEPS IN WITH DIRE WARNINGS
Earlier this month the Wasting Mule ran a big publicity puff and funding appeal (masquerading as a news story) for the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, in which CEO Ruth Marks told us that the “voluntary sector” is worth £1bn but she’s worried about reducing funding. Note the use of the term “voluntary sector”.
Ms Marks quoted spurious figures which I’ve highlighted. For example, the figure she uses for ‘England’ almost certainly includes UK-wide bodies based in England and even international agencies such as Oxfam and Save the Children.
The only valid comparison would be England-only agencies with Wales-only agencies. Because I know damn well that in England a Tory Government, and Tory-controlled local authorities, do not throw money at the third sector in the manner of Welsh socialist politicians maintaining their system of patronage.
This reluctance to fund the third sector in England explains why so many third sector operatives have flocked to Wales since we’ve had devolution and Labour dishing out the loot.
Another interesting claim is that the third sector accounts for 10% of Welsh employment. Seeing as these jobs are almost entirely reliant on public funding they could be equated to paying benefit. Or, to be more generous, seeing as many third sector activities are ‘outsourced’ transferring from the public sector to the third sector just re-labels existing jobs.
Then again, the “voluntary sector” means unpaid work, so how can it account for 10% of Welsh employment? She must be confused, or perhaps hoping to confuse us.
After studying the third sector in Wales for many years I know there is a deliberate attempt to mislead or deceive in almost everything the third sector says and does. That’s because there’s a lot of money involved and many careers; the third sector is often a stepping stone to a political career, or it provides a nice retirement job after leaving politics.
But to enjoy these benefits you must be in the ‘club’. And membership is restricted to the Labour Party, with Plaid Cymru – in return for political support – allowed to feed off the scraps.
WCVA GETS REALLY DIRE
Just nine days after the Ruth Marks piece in Llais y Sais, the WCVA was back with a full-page article written by Anna Nicholl, Director of Strategy and Sector Development.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like grabbing the reader’s attention with the first few lines, just think of: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”, or “All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, and of course, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”.
But when I read, “To my mind, the very fabric of Welsh life depends on the survival of the third sector”, the needle on the old hypocrisy meter went off the dial. While the bollocks detection equipment just blew up from some kind of power surge. (You should have seen the cat move!)
To believe Anna Nicholl, the third sector is all that saves our beloved homeland from the ravages of the Four Horsemen.
Whereas the truth is that many Welsh communities are being damaged by the criminals, addicts, problem families and others imported by many third sector bodies (and here I include housing associations). Because once you’ve found your racket, and got your funding, you need a steady supply of ‘clients’ to keep the funding flowing, and if Wales can’t provide enough ‘clients’ then you have to look elsewhere.
Earlier I wrote, “there is a deliberate attempt to mislead or deceive in almost everything the third sector says and does”. This article by Anna Nicholl proves my point. But for anyone in doubt, let me spell it out.
On the one hand we have the kind of third sector body represented by the WCVA, such as homelessness company Llamau, with its 266 employees, spending over 70% of its £10m+ annual income on salaries, and paying its CEO £80,000+. Llamau is obviously not a voluntary organisation – it is a business.
Worst of all, it is a publicly-funded business competing with too many other, publicly-funded businesses.
By comparison, Mrs Williams (Troedyrhiw) who you encounter on the High Street, and who puts a sticky badge on your chest for dropping a washer or two in her tin (I always carry some), is a volunteer, because she performs this work for nothing.
Which is not to say that the organisation Mrs Williams collects for doesn’t have paid officials higher up its food chain, but these are charities in that they rely on donations from the public – not government funding.
Another kind of voluntary group is that we see in the picture used to illustrate the Anna Nicholl article, a local group trying to improve its neighbourhood, and with groups such as this there is usually no money involved at all!
So why use a picture like that if it’s not an attempt to mislead or deceive those reading the article?
In fact, Ms Nicholl gives the game away with the wording of the caption accompanying her photo: ” . . . the vital third sector, such as voluntary organisations”. But ‘voluntary organisations’ are only a small part of the third sector, and here they’re being used as a fig leaf.
The good news might be that the WCVA realises that the kind of organisations I criticise are now beyond defending, the only hope being to confuse them in the public mind with ‘voluntary organisations’.
AN ATTEMPT AT BALANCE
After reading Anna Nicholl’s deliberate confusion or conflation of voluntary groups with the avaricious money-grabbers the WCVA really represents I was moved to write to the Western Mail. So I sent my e-mail and got a quick response asking for my full address.
So we know they have my letter for publication, will they now have the balls to publish it, unedited? Just in case, here it is.
“It seems that in recent weeks the third sector has felt the need to defend itself. Presumably in an effort to help, the Western Mail ran a big piece on the 8th quoting Ruth Marks, Wales Council for Voluntary Action CEO; and then on the 16th we had a full-page article by Anna Nicholl, Director of Strategy and Sector Development at the WCVA. This later article was accompanied by a big picture of a mother and child picking up litter, as an example of the ‘voluntary groups’ the WCVA claims to represent, and on which “Welsh life depends”, according to Ms Nicholl. The picture was cute, but deliberately misleading. I have criticised the third sector over many years, principally on my blog, ‘Jac o’ the North’, but I have never criticised voluntary groups, nor charities with an obvious purpose such as the RNLI. My criticism has been reserved for what can only be described as self-serving, third sector businesses. Many of which get millions of pounds in public funding every year, with most of the money going in salaries. And a hefty chunk of that salary funding going to the CEO, who is invariably a Labour Party member or supporter, and often from outside of Wales. As if that isn’t bad enough, we have the duplication to consider. In a recent FoI response from the ‘Welsh’ Government I was told that there are 48 bodies in Wales dealing with homelessness. That’s forty-eight in a country of 3 million people. Having identified an ‘issue’ to exploit it then becomes imperative for third sector bodies to have a steady supply of ‘clients’ in order to ensure the continuation of the generous funding. To meet this need often means importing undesirables from outside of Wales. One Cardiff-based housing association is currently wreaking havoc in Lampeter with the drug dealers and others it’s housing in that hitherto peaceful town – and it has applied to Ceredigion council for permission to convert more buildings to one-bed flats in order to bring in more misfits! And remember – this is being paid for from the Welsh public purse! How can we explain this apparent idiocy? The answer lies in the fact that the third sector is, as I’ve suggested, an extension of the Labour Party. On one level, the third sector is pure cronyism in that it provides thousands of jobs for Labour supporters. On another level, the size of the third sector is used to indicate how poor Wales is, and of course it’s always someone else’s fault – so ‘Vote Labour!’ Which means that the third sector exploits and entrenches Wales’ poverty for the benefit of those working in it and for the electoral advantage of the Labour Party. If the hundreds of millions of pounds poured into the third sector every year was used to encourage entrepreneurship and invite investment Wales would be much better off, but would also be less likely to vote Labour. All of which means that the unnecessary, crony-filled and duplicating third sector bodies I’m dealing with have nothing in common whatsoever with mothers and children picking up litter in their local park.”