PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
While you’re recovering from Christmas, getting your breath back for further excesses at New Year, just take time to read this little piece.
BRYN BLAEN WIND FARM
Just over a year ago, I wrote Corruption in the wind?, which was primarily about the Hendy wind farm, but I also mentioned the linked Bryn Blaen installation. And it’s Bryn Blaen I’m concentrating on here.
The six turbines of the Bryn Blaen wind farm lie to the north of Llangurig, the village you pass by if travelling north-south on the A470, and through which you pass if leaving the A470 to take the A44 down to Aberystwyth.
Bryn Blaen wind farm is owned – in the first instance – by Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd, which was Incorporated May 18, 2011, though the company was originally known as Development Securities (No 74) Ltd. The project was funded with five loans from Close Leasing Ltd, a Manchester finance company that seems to have a keen interest in renewables.
Hendy wind farm not far away is owned – ditto – by Hendy Wind Farm Ltd, which was also Incorporated May 18, 2011, this time as Development Securities (No 71) Ltd. Thus far there is just one charge with Close Leasing Ltd.
The immediate parent company in each case is DS Renewables LLP, which is in turn owned by U and I Group PLC. The U and I Group is a property company focused on London, Manchester and Dublin, but its portfolio extends beyond these cities and is not restricted to commercial and residential property.
Like most of its ilk the U and I Group pretends to be something better than just a property speculator. This clip from the 2019 accounts says it all.
Bryn Blaen appears on page 26, where we also find mention of Hendy and Rhoscrowther wind farms. The figures on the left are the ‘Previous target’ column while those on the right are ‘Realised gains/losses’.
We see that Hendy and Rhoscrowther have realised nothing; this is due to Hendy still being under construction, while Rhoscrowther was denied planning permission for a third time in April 2018 and appears to be dead in the water.
Bryn Blaen on the other hand has made a return of £4.7m, quite remarkable seeing as its turbines have never turned. This was being reported in January 2019 and little has changed, though I should report that some turbines have shaken the dust off recently . . . almost certainly powered by diesel generators, and done for the benefit of an increasingly sceptical local audience.
The reason Bryn Blaen is not generating electricity is hinted at in the image above, where it mentions ” . . . increased costs in connecting to the grid”. This alludes to a major problem. To wit, there isn’t the capacity on the existing local infrastructure to carry anything generated by Bryn Blaen.
Though a closer look at page 7 of the accounts (shown below) tells us that Bryn Blaen Wind Farm’s true assets are in fact just £2,076. The thirty-three million figure is made up of debts, and page 15 explains that these are £21,410,000 in bank loans and £12,934,555 owed to U and I Group PLC.
(Wow! If debts can be counted as assets then Jac is rolling in it!)
All of which means that Bryn Blaen wind farm is just a pachyderm of a very pale hue, desecrating the Welsh countryside for no discernible benefit to anyone. And yet . . .
On page 9, paragraph 2.2, of the Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd accounts we read the passage below. The implication is that the debts (certainly the bank loans) will be repaid when Bryn Blaen is disposed of at the end of February 2020.
Which suggests that someone is going to buy a wind farm that cannot export any electricity it might generate . . . which is why it has generated nothing in the two years of its existence!
This episode raises a number of questions:
Why did the Planning Inspectorate overrule Powys County Council to give planning permission in August 2016 to a project that the most cursory investigation would have revealed was utterly useless?
Are there other examples like Bryn Blaen?
Turbines that have generated nothing for six months can be demolished, so will Lesley Griffiths now do as protesters request and have the Bryn Blaen turbines demolished at developers’ expense?
The U and I Group plans to re-submit a planning application for Rhoscrowther wind farm on Milford Haven Waterway; can we therefore assume that Lesley Griffiths will be instructed to approve this application?
The scandal of Bryn Blaen should be a matter of national concern, so don’t just leave it to the locals – you write to Lesley Griffiths, and to your local AM, asking what the hell has happened. Insist on Bryn Blaen being demolished. And demand more stringent checks on local grid capacity and other issues before planning permission is granted for any future wind farms.
For those who may not be familiar with this document, it is the supreme planning guidance for Wales to which plans such as councils’ Local Development Plans (LDPs) and all sub-national strategies must conform. I wrote about it in August.
The NDF is big on renewable energy, as the map below shows. What isn’t given over to wind and solar ‘farms’ is largely accounted for by urban areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the proposed ‘National Forest’, and the vast area north of Aberystwyth promised to the Summit to Sea ‘rewilders’.
But I can’t help wondering what’s planned for that area between the A5 and the A458, east of Dolgellau.
Though I suppose the really big question is – who is going to benefit from this National Development Framework?
The individual beneficiaries will be landowners (often absentee), property developers like the U and I Group, and other English ‘investors’. Proving yet again that wind power is more about cashing in on the subsidies than with replacing fossil fuels.
But over and above the individual beneficiaries the National Development Framework is for the benefit of England.
Wind and solar farms won’t provide jobs for Welsh people. And we already produce far more electricity than we consume; yet as with water, we are not allowed to make a profit from what we export. (Though ‘our’ water and electricity can be sold back to us at over-the-odds prices.)
The National Development Framework allows Wales to be exploited as never before, but rather than standing up for Wales our current crop of politicians will rhapsodise over it.
Labour, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dems will bleat about Wales ‘making its contribution’ to ‘saving the planet’, etc., when, in reality, they’ll be turning our beautiful homeland into an al fresco power station. What isn’t covered by wind and solar farms will be retirement and recreation areas for England. Zimmer frames and zip wires.
Tory and Brexit parties will of course support anything that makes money for their pals in the financial sector . . . no matter how shady the deal, no matter how heavy the price Wales has to pay.
The Union with England has never worked to Wales’ advantage, but then, that was never the intention. Yet devolution, we were told, would provide ‘Welsh answers for Welsh problems’; but as Bryn Blaen, the National Development Framework, and countless other examples make clear, devolution is just a pitifully transparent veneer of ‘Welshness’ for continuing exploitation.
If we are to survive and progress as a nation it can only be done by prioritising our interests and focusing on independence without any distractions or self-imposed divisions. So let’s continue building momentum in 2020 on the broadest possible front.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
This issue is made up of something old, something new. We start with a brief return to Summit to Sea and end with another hydro project involving Ellergreen. The ‘meat’ in this sandwich is a piece in which I try to unravel who might be involved now and in the past at the Ferodo site in Caernarfon, which is lined up for a major development.
No doubt many of you are looking forward to the infantile grotesquerie of Hallowe’en, while those of a more traditional bent will uncork a bottle for Samhain. For it’s well known that at this time of the year our ancestors were partial to a good bottle of Malbec.
Here at Jac Towers the dogs will be unleashed upon any who come disturbing my peace. A charitable act; for climbing trees to escape the Dobermans will keep young scoundrels fit and stop them developing into socialists or criminals, a fate that demanding money with menaces surely presages.
(Though I rarely differentiate between socialists and criminals, and I’ve invariably found the latter to be more congenial company.)
SUMMIT TO SEA
Summit to Sea is a scam dreamed by a gang of ‘environmentalists’, led or inspired by George Monbiot, that hoped to be handed millions of pounds and given free access to thousands of hectares of land and sea in central Wales. The excuse for this appropriation was that ‘rewilding’ was needed to tackle climate change. (For sheep are absolute bastards when it comes to damaging the planet!)
The ‘Welsh Government’ played its usual role, a combination of Uriah Heep and Vidkun Quisling, by promising to helpfully clear farmers off the land by withdrawing funding, and helping in any other way it could.
Given the bad publicity received, and the near-total opposition in the affected area – especially from local farmers who were never consulted! – it was almost inevitable that Summit to Sea would be vulnerable. And so it proved; first, when Ecodyfi withdrew its support from the project in September; and then, this month, when Rewilding Britain had second thoughts.
Summit to Sea has taken two heavy hits and is rocking on its heels, ready for the knock-out blow . . . but will it be delivered?
I ask because there seems to be ambivalence on the part of certain local politicians. Go back to the article I linked to reporting the withdrawal of Rewilding Britain, and there you’ll read Powys councillor Elwyn Vaughan saying: “I am hopeful that it marks the start of a successful partnership between the people of mid Wales and Summit to Sea.”
In this article from Farmers Guardian Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Vaughan expands on his thinking. He clearly believes the project should proceed, but with more local involvement and, perhaps, a slice of the £3.4m said to be available. Though I’m not sure how this is supposed to work out.
The money was only available for the rewilding project . . . a rewilding project to which local farmers are almost universally opposed. So are we to believe that the farmers will implement the rewilding scheme themselves if they get the £3.4m?
At the very least, it suggests to me that Elwyn Vaughan is not opposed to Summit to Sea per se. Maybe his opposition was simply to the way it was being done, and how the money was being distributed.
Which would make a certain sense, for Councillor Vaughan seems to be something of an eco-warrior himself. This tweet has been pinned to his Twitter timeline for almost two years. (We all want to cut down on the use of plastic, but bloody hell! – two years!)
And when it comes to his party, well, Plaid Cymru is all over the place on this one. We know that Plaid is a very environmentally-friendly political party, but it risks alienating a great many supporters by backing Summit to Sea.
Though looking at it from the other side, if I was trying to implement Summit to Sea as originally conceived, I might think to myself: ‘Right, Labour’s onside, but in this neck of the woods Labour’s got less support than the DUP, so the key is Plaid Cymru’.
I’m not saying Plaid Cymru could win everybody over to Summit to Sea, but just to get Plaid talking of “partnership” might be enough to sow confusion and create division where none had previously existed.
And looking at it from the Summit to Sea perspective it would certainly be worth courting Plaid Cymru. With the project falling apart what have they got to lose?
I invite Elwyn Vaughan to clarify what he means by “partnership” with Summit to Sea.
BRAKES OFF AT THE FERODO SITE
Ferodo opened its Caernarfon factory in 1964, and at its height it employed almost 2,000 people. In the late nineties the site was taken over by American Craig Smith and in 1997 renamed Friction Dynamics. Relations between owner and staff deteriorated.
The Friction Dynamics strike was one of the longest in Welsh history, beaten only perhaps by the Penrhyn lockout of 1900 – 1903 at Bethesda, not far away. They can be stubborn buggers in that area. God bless ’em.
I’m telling you this to give some background to a report on plans to develop the site. Though I got a flashback when I read in the headline that the project also included Plas Brereton. Daily Post reporter Owen Hughes reminded us about Plas Brereton with, “The site went up for sale last autumn . . . after the deal to sell to Plas Glynllifon owners Paul and Rowena Williams collapsed.”
And it’s true! As the very same Owen Hughes reported last June. And here he is! Paul Williams himself, in living colour.
Come on, be honest – would you buy magic beans from this guy? His eyes are all over the place, a would-be con man who can’t even convince himself! Probably thinking to himself, ‘Nobody’s buying this crap, are they?’
But let’s not dwell in the past; let’s ask what the future holds for the Cofis. For a start, it’s more tourism, more, ‘Wales – England’s Playground’. Though these plans outdo even the Gruesome Twosome.
Though I warn you, it now gets a wee bit complicated, and I might digress. But I think it’s worth sticking with it.
The company reported as being behind the project is Maybrook Investments, of Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. Though also involved is Landal Greenparks, a Dutch company owned by Wyndham Destinations of the USA.
The Welsh involvement is limited to input from Cadnant Planning and architectural firm Dewis. Perhaps these have been given the work in the belief that local firms would be more likely to secure planning approval. Which has yet to be granted.
There’s plenty of information available on major companies Landal and Wyndham, so I’m going to focus on Maybrook Investments which, unlike those two, has no vast website and very little information of any kind. But we’ll dig anyway.
Of the 100 shares issued, 99 are held by Peter Brendan Gerrard O’Dowd and 1 by Noreen O’Dowd. There are 7 outstanding charges for assorted properties, mainly in north west England.
The latest unaudited financial statement suggests a company in pretty good financial health, though a different valuation might not agree that the company’s investment portfolio is worth almost six million pounds.
Next stop was the Land Registry, for a map search of the site, and this is what I turned up. But now it gets rather complicated, for not only does the title record involve the Crown Estate and the ‘Welsh Government’ but there are various covenants and restrictions.
The Ferodo site was bought in July 2015 for £234,000 by the St Francis Group (Caernarfon) Ltd, which began life 10.06.2015. The last of the original directors left in December 2017 when O’Dowd joined. The name was changed to Bryn Coch Ltd in January 2018.
Maybrook Investments is now the sole shareholder. The two charges against this company (one satisfied) correspond with the number on the title document I’ve just linked with, CYM63599.
These two charges being dated 18.12.2017 and 22.06.2018 suggests they were not used to make the purchase in 2015 but taken out later for some other purpose, with the Ferodo site used as security.
Let us now go back further and check on the history of this site.
Page 3 of the title document seems to deal with rights of access and then, at the end, a transfer of land relating to the other title on the site.
From my reading of the title document for CYM63599, by 2009 the Ferodo site had passed to the ownership or custodianship of ‘The Welsh Ministers’, who then sold it to Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd. The purchase is covered in these charges, taken out 2007 – 2009 which remain outstanding.
But why was Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd set up in July 2007 almost two years before the transfer of May 2009?
Bluefield Land took out loans amounting to millions of pounds (also still outstanding) with the Julian Hodge Bank Ltd. The company’s address was at Tŷ To Maen Farm in Old St Mellons. (Which for some reason rings a bell.)
Was the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales involved in the sale of the Ferodo site?
If I had more time (and if this investigation wasn’t making me lose the will to live!), I’d push on because I’m sure there’s a lot to unearth. This may not be a straightforward application by a guy who owns the Ferodo site hoping to involve major players in some over-hyped holiday camp.
If I was Cyngor Gwynedd I would be asking a lot of questions before even considering this site for planning approval.
For a start, Maybrook Investments Ltd doesn’t seem to own the whole of the old Ferodo site. So is the other title holder involved? (There was an option to buy dated February 2009, but has it been exercised?)
Then, if we go to the title document for the land apparently owned by Bryn Coch Ltd we see, at the top of page 4, the extract below. As we know, Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd was dissolved in January 2016. All the shares were owned by Dauson Environmental Group Ltd. So does this company retain whatever rights are referred to?
Turning to the entry numbered 9, Bluefield Caernarfon Management Ltd also went belly-up in January 2016. The shares here were held by Bluefield Land Ltd (35 shares) and Twenty20 Homes Ltd (65 shares).
Companies associated with the Ferodo site were going down like flies that month!
The shares in Twenty20 Homes were held by Macob Property Holdings Ltd (13,500 shares) and Paul Christopher Markey of Porthcawl (1,500 shares). Macob Property Holdings is undergoing a very long process of liquidation; owing Barclays Bank over £7m (‘before interest and charges’) at the start of the process.
Where does this leave the ‘rights granted by a deed . . . (to) Bluefield Caernarfon Management Ltd for a term of 75 years from 7 April 2009′?
What ‘rights’ were they? Have they been nullified? Have they been transferred? Maybe they’re still held by shareholders, or creditors? Or have they reverted to ‘The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty’?
This project on the old Ferodo site was a bit opaque to start with. A small-time property dealer trying to break into the big time, with a vague association with major players. While in the background we see a swirling mess of interlinked companies shuffling money between them, taking out huge loans and then going bust!
If I was Cyngor Gwynedd I’d be asking who owns what and who might still have claim on the Ferodo site and anything built on it.
As I wrote, “Ellergreen Hydro is based in the English Lake District and seems to be part of a group of companies bearing the name. These are run – in various guises and through assorted holding companies – by the Cropper family, headed by Sir James Anthony Cropper.”
Concerned locals at Mynydd Llandygai have been in touch to tell me that something odd is going on as Cyngor Gwynedd bends over backwards to accommodate a group that has invited Ellergreen Hydro to install a project on Afon Galedffrwd.
To begin with, I’m told that the project is being pushed through by stealth, with the local community not being properly notified and updated.
Then, it’s alleged that the application form has been ‘modified’. For a source insists that the original application – accepted by the council – stated “that the nearest building to the power station is ‘several hundred yards away’ when actually there are houses within 50 yards of it and an industrial unit and 10 plus houses within 100 yards.”
It’s said the council’s planners knew this, but still accepted the incorrect information.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, go to the council planning portal and you’ll find three letters of support. There were many more letters objecting . . . but they seem to have disappeared!
Anyway, let’s look at the planning application, for it contains a few entries to raise a smile, or have you scratching your head. The applicant is Mrs Jenny Wong of Coetir Mynydd (of which more in a minute) who lives in Bethesda . . . in the Vale of Glamorgan!
The agent is Adam Cropper of Ellergreen Hydro, who gives an address in Penarth, which really is in the Vale of Glamorgan. But as we know, Ellergreen is based in the Lake District, so Pod 3, Avon House is just an accommodation address.
Scroll down to box 27 and we see that the land needed for the project seems to be partly owned by the Penrhyn Estate; partly owned by Rite Goswami of Yr Ocar, Coed y Parc (which is either a B&B or a self-catering holiday let, maybe both); and partly owned by the aforementioned Mrs Wong on behalf of Coetir Mynydd.
Locals also wonder who’s paying, and who’s benefiting, for despite promises of ‘community benefits’ in the form of cheaper energy for all, many remain sceptical.
According to Robert Owen Community Banking, shares for similar schemes nearby, ” . . . cost £50, and there is a minimum holding of five shares (£250)”. Later in the article we read that the shares are to be sold online.
Two hundred and fifty pounds might be too much for some locals, and if shares are to be sold online then anyone can buy them. So how local are these schemes?
We have a ‘local’ group, made up mainly it seems of good-lifers and planet-botherers, an English energy company, landowners including Lord Penrhyn (whose ancestor caused the longest strike in history), the mysterious Alex Ferraro of Penarth(?), and shares perhaps being sold online.
What we seem to have here, again, is Plaid Cymru, in the form of Cyngor Gwynedd, unable to resist any scheme claiming environmental credentials. And when the sales pitch is delivered in a middle class English accent they go all wobbly at the knees.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
RHIGOS VIEWPOINT/CRAIG Y LLYN CAR PARK
In the previous post, Family silver, I wondered what exactly is planned for the Rhigos area with the arrival of Zip World. A question worth asking after ZW recently took on Greg Evans, a man whose background is in the storage of nuclear waste and offshore wind turbines.
I concluded that whatever is planned for Rhigos goes way beyond zip wires.
Suspicions raised by the curious tale of the sale – or non-sale – of the Rhigos Viewpoint, overlooking the area in which Zip World claims it will be operating. Picking up from where we left off in my previous post, here’s an update.
First, a good source, familiar with the workings of the ‘Welsh Government’, suggested that the area was put up for sale to comply with the requirement to advertise public land . . . before claiming there was ‘no interest’ and then handing it over to a favoured party, in this case, probably Zip World.
Going through the motions like that makes sense.
But then, on Friday, someone else got in touch to say that he had seen the advertisement – and made an enquiry. So now it gets interesting.
The reply he received from Natural Resources Wales said, rather curtly: “Thank you for your enquiry. I can advise that Craig y Llyn Carpark (sic) is not for sale.”
So my source wrote back asking why it had appeared on the register of public property for sale. Here’s the second answer he received:
“Please accept my apologies for this area of land appearing on the gov.uk site.
Back in 2014, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) considered selling this area of land along with a number of other sites and they were added to the government register as potential surplus sites that other public bodies could express an interest in before being offered on the open-market.
However, after further consideration NRW decided to retain the land. Unfortunately the government register was not updated. I confirm that NRW currently has no plans to sell this land and the record has now been updated to reflect that the site is to be retained.”
Then the NRW response says that the land was put up for sale in 2014 so that other ” . . . public bodies could express a interest . . . before being offered on the open-market (sic)”. Clearly suggesting that the Rhigos Viewpoint was advertised internally and then withdrawn without appearing on the public/open market register.
In which case, how did my source – and others – see it on the open register? And why does the register give the date 27/06/2019?
This response from Natural Resources Wales bears the hallmark of someone told to tell porkies but not understanding the full story and only making things worse.
‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave . . .’.
A DOSE OF REALITY
Last Monday saw the release of a new Welsh Political Barometer/YouGov poll which makes for interesting reading for people like me, but depressing reading for many others.
Here are the findings of the poll. The figures in brackets represent the changes from previous WPB/YouGov poll conducted before the EU elections in May.
All parties seemed to take hope from the results except for Labour, obviously. (And perhaps the Greens, but who gives a toss about them.). Though what do the figures really tell us?
For the first time ever, Plaid Cymru leads in the constituency vote for the Assembly . . . without any gain in support! Also, in the regional vote, gaining just one percentage point. For Westminster elections, and despite going up by two points, Plaid Cymru is now in fifth place.
Plaid Cymru spokespersons can crow all they like, but it can’t hide the fact that with the Labour vote in free-fall Plaid Cymru is not gaining by that much. This is worth saying because the assumption always was that as Labour’s century of dominance started coming to an end its ‘socialist’ voters would transfer to Plaid Cymru.
With PM Boris Johnson heading for a No Deal Brexit, the Labour Party in London and Cardiff ‘led’ by men who seem to be more shadow than substance, Welsh voters still find a Liberal Democrat Party led by a woman nobody’s heard of and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party more attractive than Plaid Cymru.
Why is Plaid Cymru so woefully unable to carpe the old diem? For a number of surveys tell of increased support for independence, so why isn’t this reflected in backing for Plaid Cymru?
I don’t understand it. I mean, a party so concerned with transgender ishoos, and then – when it’s not smooching Labour and Deryn – outing misogynists, homophobes and fascists (apparently I’m all three – and more!); surely such a party, especially with its promise to remedy these ills by delivering a Marxist-Leninist-woke-feminist republic, should be at least 20 points ahead in the polls.
I shall have to take me up unto an high place and ponder this conundrum . . . if I can find any space on the moral high ground.
You may recall that I have written a few times about how easy it is to run rings around Gwynedd’s planners.
One notable case was Plas Pistyll (of blesséd memory) where, over time, holiday-only replacements for trailer homes metamorphosed – by incremental changes to the original planning permission – into luxury year-round dwellings. And nobody in the planning department noticed!
Another Gwynedd planning disaster was that at Bryn Llys, Nebo, where a bunch of crooks from over the border bought a traditional Welsh dwelling, extended it, extended it again without planning permission, got retrospective planning permission, exceeded that, ended up with an extension three times the size of the original house, then demolished the original building, and put the ‘extension’ on the market for £850,000.
To help you grasp the full horror of this case, here’s a photograph I received recently showing the original Bryn Llys and outbuildings overshadowed by the vile ‘extension’.
While this saga unfolded neighbours and others kept Gwynedd planners informed and asked for action to be taken. Nothing was done.
Now I hear that Gwynedd’s planners may finally be stirring, with a “pre-trial hearing” of some kind scheduled for 6 September.
But don’t hold your breath, for my belief is that this case has gone too far. There is no way that Cyngor Gwynedd will insist on the demolition of a property up for sale with a price tag of £850,000.
The crook who seems to own the property is Jonathan James Duggan (aka Ripley) of West Yorkshire, who lives on the site, with his large family, in a shed he has been ordered to demolish. One way he and his father (currently in prison) make their money is by ordering expensive goods and equipment, not paying for them, then selling on those goods.
This probably explains how Duggan found the money to build Bryn Llys Newydd, for when he appeared in court on a criminal damage charge in September 2016 he claimed to be surviving on state benefits.
He has as one of his sidekicks a would-be rocker and English supremacist from the Bristol area by the name of Shane Baker. There are others in the gang.
In addition to laughing at Cyngor Gwynedd this crew has also intimidated and terrorised neighbours, and caused great damage by trying to steal land, often in attempts to improve the access to Bryn Llys. Done to facilitate whatever plans may be in the pipeline, because there’s quite a bit more land. Glamping and even zip wires have been mooted by Duggan.
Despite the wealth of information and witness testimony North Wales Police seems uninterested in Duggan and his gang at Bryn Llys. Yes, there was a police raid in April last year, but that wasn’t GogPlod.
I look at cases like Bryn Llys (and God knows, I’ve looked at plenty!) where decent people have their lives fucked over by scumbags like this and I think to myself: ‘There’s no point in appealing to any authority because ultimately all authority in Wales answers to London.’
Maybe we need something more. Some organisation beleaguered Welsh communities could turn to to run bastards like these out of Wales.
UPDATE 09.08.2019: I have been informed that a new company was formed on 27 June named Bryn Llys Ltd, which you’ll see is in the business of ‘Holiday centres and villages’. The secretary, sole director, and holder of all the shares, is Andrew Battye of Huddersfield, long suspected of being the money behind Bryn Llys.
Maybe the question now should be, where does the money come from? Battye was in business with Duggan Jnr in a company called Bridge Glazing Systems Ltd, which went out of business after a few years and without filing any accounts.
Let us hope that both Cyngor Gwynedd and North Wales Police do their jobs, because what has already been built at Bryn Llys, and what might be planned for Bryn Llys (and perhaps elsewhere), will be funded from criminal activity, and is almost certainly a form of money laundering.
IS THE RIGHT BEING MOBILISED?
There was a rally in Swansea on Saturday ahead of the Swans’ opening match of the season against Hull City. (Won 2 – 1, seeing as you asked.) Or maybe it was two rallies, I’m not sure. Because the WalesOnline report mentioned both the Never Surrender Veterans Group and Million Veteran(s) March.
The first of which ” . . . is a group largely made up of ex-veterans who support servicemen and women”. I’ve never heard of this group so I tried to find out more.
The Million Veteran March also appears to draw its inspiration from the USA and seems to take its name from another US organisation. Though the name also crops up in recent UK news reports. With quite extensive coverage on a site new to me called Unity News Network.
The organisers and the WO report made great play of the number of bikers attending. To judge by the photographs most if not all of them belong to the Valley Commandos. This club started out as a Cardiff City supporters group so I don’t understand how they’ve drifted into right wing Unionist politics.
Because make no mistake about it, Soldier F, is now a rallying cry, not just for supportive veterans, but also for the usual suspects on the far right. And they were also there on Saturday, Swansea’s gang of Rangers supporters and ‘Loyalists’.
As Fred Astaire sang, ‘There may be trouble ahead . . . ‘ because there could be problems, maybe civil unrest, in the coming year no matter which way things pan out with Brexit. Was what we saw in Swansea on Saturday – with a rally in Brecon to follow – a glimpse of things to come?
The UK leaves the EU on October 31; after which Scotland will be threatening to secede, more and more Welsh people will be questioning the English connection, and God only knows what will be happening over the water.
In a shit-storm like that, overseen by politicians following those titans of statecraft, Micawber and Trump, blind and unquestioning British patriotism will be demanded of us all. Or else!
CLARIFICATION:Let me make clear that this is not a criticism of service personnel past or present voicing sincerely-held concerns or remembering fallen comrades. This is a warning against hangers-on, the far right, Walter Mitty types and unscrupulous politicians.
A MESSAGE FROM UNCLE JAC
Strangely enough, there were no representatives in Swansea of the very vocal element on the fringes of Plaid Cymru that targets ‘fascists’.
No, it wasn’t really surprising because the truth is they only use the ‘fascist!’ smear against those who challenge Plaid Cymru, and more especially the party’s extreme left wing fringe. I’m talking now of Plaid Ifanc, Undod, Undeb Plaid Cymru and a few individuals.
(Defending Neil McEvoy, criticising Deryn, attacking Labour, questioning the role of the third sector, asking who was involved in the Carl Sargeant affair, etc . . . these and other crimes also incur the wrath of those I’m talking about.)
There’s no question that these left wing extremists – no more than a few dozen in total – are trying to influence if not direct the growing independence movement. It became apparent – not long after YesCymru first appeared – with this piece from ‘Sawel ap Harri’ entitled The Marxist case for Welsh independence.
The second of those is a real hoot about ‘intersectionality’, ‘under-represented demographics’ and other terms I’m sure you use every day. Basically, it argued for breaking down the population of Wales into lots of different and competing groups.
The comments to that piece made it clear that most people thought Leia Fee was talking bollocks, and dangerous bollocks at that, at a time when we should all be promoting unity in the push for independence.
Though perhaps the best response came on Twitter.
But the idiocies come thick and fast, as does the hypocrisy. I’ve recently written about the attacks on me from young Aled Gwyn Williams of Maesteg (and his dog, Teifi). Aled wants the world to know that I’m an absolute brute, guilty of all manner of heinous crimes, including misogyny.
I’m sure my laughter could be heard miles away when someone sent me this recent tweet by Aled Gwyn Williams. (If Teifi’s ears pricked up, son, it was because he heard me.)
The left is playing a dangerous and divisive game, perhaps egged on by someone whose absence from the independence marches in Cardiff and Caernarfon has not gone unnoticed.
Calling me a misogynist, or Ein Gwlad ‘fascistic’, and then trying to cause divisions in the independence movement by demanding that everyone be labelled, while insisting they’ll only accept independence on their terms, can only damage what should be a broad-based and inclusive national movement.
Some will dismiss such behaviour as juvenile, others find it suspicious. Worryingly, too many who should know better defend or support it. Either way, this behaviour is serving something other than the cause of Welsh independence.
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!
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I‘ve written about One Planet developments before, but to refresh your memories, and help newcomers, here’s a brief outline.
One Planet seems to be a generic term for a loose global network of people who believe in living a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, both as individuals and communities. And who can argue with that?
The wider and diffuse One Planet movement may be global but Wales is the only country that has implemented OP legislation.
This came about because certain people realised that devolution coupled with malleable politicos offered a golden opportunity for them to live the lifestyle they wanted, wherever they liked, with no restraints. And even to have it funded.
It also opened the door to those who wished to cover Wales in wind turbines. Those grotesque machines that inflict more environmental damage in their production, transportation and erection than is ever recouped during their short and intermittent working lives.
Although the One Wales: One Planet document of May 2009 was signed by then first minister Rhodri Morgan the main driving force within the cabinet would appear to have been Jane Davidson, Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing.
Another influence would have been Plaid Cymru, which from 2007 until 2011 was the junior partner in a coalition with Labour. For Plaid had been cosying up to multifarious Greens for a couple of decades, some of them pathologically anti-Welsh. But what the hell! if there’s virtue to be signalled then Plaid’s your party.
The purpose of this posting is to bring you up to date, with examples of how the legislation mentioned in the previous section is damaging Wales. Also, how our local authorities and planning bodies are impotent in the face of land grabs because the aggressors have the full support of the ‘Welsh Government’, DEFRA, and the Planning Inspectorate.
And then, we come face to face with George Soros in the form of the Black Mountains College.
This example from north Pembrokeshire reminds us of how little support these eco-shysters receive from the indigenous communities. In Maenclochog, local councillor Huw George has even called for a moratorium on One Planet developments because, he argues, the system is being abused.
Councillor George has seen five OPD applications in his ward.
And of course he’s right when he argues that the system is being abused. Everyone who looks at how One Planet operates can see that the legislation is too lax. Another – and predictable – problem is that One Planet and associated legislation is of no benefit whatsoever to Welsh people. But it was never intended to be!
Think about that for a minute: a ‘Welsh Government’ passes legislation that it knows in advance will be of no benefit to Welsh people.
Making what is dressed up as saving the planet just another form of colonialism. Encouraged by an administration that may celebrate Welshness on an official and superficial level while simultaneously allowing or encouraging the destruction of the communities where that identity still thrives naturally.
The indefatigable Wynne Jones tried to find out a little more about this remarkable deal. For example, was a business plan submitted; and how is such generosity – with Welsh public assets – justified. But after a deluge of flim-flam the shutters came down. As they always do.
Anyone who takes an interest in the workings of the ‘Welsh Government’, and asks questions soon runs into a fog of obfuscation, which is usually the prelude to contact being ended completely. That’s because the ‘Welsh Government’ breaks its own rules, which then means that projects cannot be scrutinised or monitored.
Another feature is that many of those migrating to our rural areas to save the planet don’t want their children going to Welsh schools, or they think they can educate them better at home. This results in many kids just slipping off the radar, often with tragic consequences, as in the case of Dylan Seabridge.
I’m not suggesting that this boy’s parents, originally from Stoke on Trent, were involved in the One Planet scam; they just represent another type ‘escaping’ to our rural areas.
Another recent arrival worthy of a write-up is Matthew Watkinson, who lives with his wife Charis and their two children at Beeview farm, near Newport, Pembrokeshire.
They live in what can only be termed a rural slum, and claim to make a living on a couple of acres from selling eggs. If children were living in conditions like that in a town then the NSPCC and social services might be alerted. But this is One Planet living.
A parallel universe, where for planning permission, fire safety regulations, child welfare, etc., all the norms and laws of society that you and I must obey are suspended.
Like most of his kind, Watkinson pissed off the locals, and responded to their objections with this diatribe that gets very personal. But it’s par for the course; facile and self-serving arguments sustained with a combination of invective and moral superiority driven home by a sense of entitlement – ‘You Welsh peasants have no right to be critical of us superior beings’.
Beeview farm appears on the list of approved projects* as Golwg y Gwenyn and is described as a ‘Prospective OPD application’, but then we are also told that it’s ‘the first OPD to be granted full planning permission within a Welsh National Park’. I suspect we reconcile these statements by understanding that the structure for which planning permission was granted in July 2016 has yet to be built.
Apart from him being an arrogant twat, another reason locals did not grasp Matthew Watkinson to their bosom was because his OPD is on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli, a very special area with Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age structures, including the famous hillfort.
Quite rightly, no development is allowed on Mynydd Carningli and locals felt that Watkinson was using OPD to circumvent planning rules in a very delicate area. And he’s got away with it, further endearing himself and the One Planet system to the locals of the Newport area.
* You may have noticed an intriguing caveat to the list of One Planet Developments: ‘This is not a full list – some OPDs prefer not to make themselves public, and there may be more that are not known to us’. Where might one obtain a full list?
‘I’M A GYPSY, HONEST, GUV’
Now we turn to an example of One Planet and Future Generation guidelines popping up in an unlikely situation. Here’s a case from Garnant, near Ammanford. On one level it’s another chancer who’s moved into Wales and is now trying to con the system, but on another level it’s almost funny.
As we read in the report from the South Wales Guardian Henry Rogers and his family moved to semi-rural Bryncethin Road just outside Garnant in 2012. And he has now been given planning permission for a caravan and other amenities alongside the house in which he says his wife lives alone.
For Rogers claims to be separated from his wife, and because he is a gypsy, he now demands his own encampment where he can fiddle his evenings away accompanied by wood crackling on an open fire. Local objectors are unimpressed, saying he is neither a gypsy nor has he separated from his wife.
When councillors on the planning committee asked for proof of Rogers’ gypsy status planning officer John Thomas ‘ . . . said a 15-page statement justifying the applicant’s lineage and background had been submitted, and that Gypsy-traveller sites were lacking in the Garnant area’.
What! How many gypsy sites does a small place like Garnant need?
Councillors were denied a view of the statement and Thomas had to admit that it contained no hard evidence of Rogers’ claimed ancestry, but the planning officer covered his arse with, ‘ . . . . (Thomas) had consulted housing department colleagues, who “verified that it’s common practice to accept justification statements”’.
So all you need do is concoct a ‘statement’ and planning permission is yours!
I have just one question: How does an Englishman claiming to be a ‘gypsy’ and having a caravan site in open country “improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales”?
As on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli, Maenclochog, and countless other locations, we see locals united in opposition. Which tells me that the bad feeling created by One Planet developments is damaging rather than improving ‘the social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales’. While the economic contribution is negligible if not negative.
THE GEORGE SOROS BLACK MOUNTAINS COLLEGE
For the concluding section of this offering we head for the Black Mountains – inspiration for Raymond Williams’ Border Country – where big things are in the offing in the form of a new seat of learning – The Black Mountains College (BMC).
I must confess that until a few days ago I knew nothing of this highly suspect venture exciting project. And when you see who’s involved you’ll wonder why it’s not headlines every day of the week. Let’s start at the beginning.
Though I find it odd that Rawlence has no background in education. So you have to wonder what he contributes to the scheme, and why he’s Project Lead. Unless the answer lies in his links with Soros?
Programme Manager is Libby Pearson, who has connections with, among others, Swansea University and the ‘Welsh Government’.
The sole director of Black Mountains College Ltd and one of six directors of Black Mountains College Project is Dr William Herbert Newton-Smith, a Canadian philosopher of science and co-proprietor (with his wife) of Welsh Lavender Ltd of Builth.
As for the charity, we of course find Newton-Smith listed as a trustee, along with the other directors of Black Mountains College Project: David Isaac, Elizabeth Passey, Owen Sheers, Chris Blake and Emily Durrant. Short biographies can be found here, where we learn that Newton-Smith was, ‘for 20 years head of George Soros’s higher education programme’.
In fact, Newton-Smith was the founding executive chairman of Soros’s controversial Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, used to influence and control human behaviour by inculcating the globalist agenda.
I don’t subscribe to all of the views on Soros we hear from the US right but I do worry that he may genuinely believe that it’s in the best interests of humanity to do away with borders, languages, religions and nationalities in order to create a homogeneous, anglophone, and ‘manageable’ global population, done by frightening us with global warming and other threats.
This is why I oppose Soros, and it’s also why I’m worried at the involvement of two of his former employees in this new education venture. Because the Black Mountains College will be in Wales, but not of Wales. Made clear in the clip below from the BMC website.
Another clue is the complete absence of the Welsh language from the BMC website.
Something else that worries me is that the Black Mountains College wants to engage in teacher training and issue Post Graduate Certificates in Education (PGCE) in order to percolate its message through the Welsh education system.
An object made easier by having on the BMC’s Advisory Council both Jane Davidson, former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, who since 2011 has flitted around academe and elsewhere reciting her mantras; and Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner.
Most of those involved with the Black Mountains College are strangers to our country but they know that if you want the sun to shine on your project, with regular life-giving showers of funding, then it helps to have Labour heavyweights on board.
Finally, let’s look at this from an educational angle. Higher education in Wales is in trouble (some might say crisis), with a number of institutions having apparently over-reached themselves. Only last Friday, Jane Davidson, in her role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement and Sustainability, announced redundancies at UWTSD.
This is the same Jane Davidson who is now helping launch Black Mountains College, which will almost certainly ask for large amounts of public funding, and may ultimately be controlled by George Soros.
What the hell is going on?
UPDATE: Ben Rawlence has responded, on Twitter, by accusing me of anti-Semitism.
There is a strategy in place for our rural areas that seeks to undermine traditional farming and replace our farmers with those you’ve read about here. Implemented by a ‘Welsh Government’ influenced by those who’ll be the beneficiaries of the strategy.
The ‘Welsh Government’ is now using Brexit to justify further cutting financial support to farmers, but as we’ve seen, the policy of undermining traditional agriculture has been in place for over a decade. (Though if Brexit is an issue then those liars in Corruption Bay could if they wished maintain funding at EU levels – as the Scottish Government will.)
The next assault will come from the ‘findings’ of the Brexit and our land consultation. A good source tells me that the consultation is a sham as the decision has already been made to proceed with the ‘public goods’ system on which the outgoing Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, Sustainable Management Schemes Collaborative Projects scheme was based.
No, the truth is that Welsh farmers are being discriminated against, and rural Welsh life threatened; a form of discrimination against an indigenous population that can only be viewed as colonialism bordering on apartheid.
And now we know that George Soros is somewhere in the mix. I’m not saying that George Soros controls Wales, but having read what Soros has to say on climate change – and it really is an obsession with him! – he could have dictated everything the ‘Welsh Government’ has put out in recent years.
In William Newton-Smith and Ben Rawlence we have Soros’s emissaries in Wales, operating through the Black Mountains College. So should the ‘Welsh Government’ be giving funding, approval, accreditation or any other support to those representing a man who likes to run small countries by remote control?
The Soros connection is established beyond any doubt with this document in which the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority recommends grant funding. We read, “BMC would be part of a global liberal arts network mentored by Bard College, NY, USA”. Bard College is funded by George Soros. The ‘network’ referred to is the institutions around the world Soros controls through his vast wealth.
The document also tells us that BMC’s accreditation will come from the University of Wales Trinity St David, which explains the presence of Jane Davidson.
But should Sophie Howe, Jane Davidson or any other public figures be involved in this venture that could, if it follows the pattern we’ve seen elsewhere, be subversive of democracy?
Or does the ‘Welsh Government’ already know that Black Mountains College is a George Soros project and is willingly co-operating?
If so, then how much influence does George Soros have in Wales?
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
Here are the updates and the like that I mentioned in the introduction to my previous post on Dawnus, and that I would have given you earlier had it not been for fresh news on Dawnus.
It’s quite a bundle, almost 4,000 words, but broken up for you – as advertisements for pet food are wont to say – into bite-sized chunks. Enjoy!
Forgive me if I get a little nostalgic, perhaps emotional, but I spent two years at Coleg Harlech, two wonderful years; I even managed to fit in the odd lecture. But a lot of time was spent in the Castle Hotel, or the Queens, or the Red Lion, or the St. David’s, where I sank many a ‘sundowner’ while enjoying the view of the golf course and the sea. (Though I detest golf and golfists.)
Yes, many’s the night I spent in the Dai’s getting legless with Dafydd El, holding him back from some impulsive patriotic act that might have jeopardised his career. As Mary Hopkin sang, those were the days. Not that I personally wanted to spend every waking hour in licensed premises, you understand, but I fell in with bad company.
Of course, the pubs were shut on Sunday back then but that’s when we – usually me and Dai Williams, ‘the Beast of Bedwas’, best man at my wedding – used to have some of our most memorable sessions, up in the Castle Hotel run by Ron Hopkins, originally from Aberdâr.
I recall being in the Castle just before the final Sunday Opening vote. Hopkins of course was in favour of opening, and he was arguing with a very left-wing lecturer from the Coleg, an Englishman who intended voting to keep the pubs shut because he believed – correctly – that’s what most locals wanted.
Now Ron had had a few pints that night down the Ship Aground in Talsarnau (another of Ron’s wife’s family’s pubs), and he’d rolled into the Castle well lubricated. Then the argument started. Because this lecturer was a ‘communist’ and in favour of Sunday closing Ron had somehow linked the two to persuade himself that keeping pubs shut on Sunday was a communist conspiracy.
I just leaned on the bar marvelling. Imagining the grizzled old men of the Politburo in Moscow sitting down and saying, ‘Now then, Comrades, the next step in destabilising the West is keeping the pubs shut on Sunday in Merioneth’.
It was one of those insane discussions that take place in Welsh pubs when those participating are opinionated drunks. (I speak as an observer, you understand.)
God bless you, Ron. God bless you, Dai. Thanks for the memories.
Not far from what was the Castle Hotel we encounter the St David’s Hotel, which has lain empty for over a decade. It’s owned by a company based in Gibraltar that probably had no intention of renovating the place, unless someone else was paying. Even then, perhaps, it wouldn’t have been restored, for who knows – like so many such properties in Wales – maybe it was making money just by standing empty.
The hotel is just up the road from the Coleg, which also fell on hard times, was then closed, and finally put up for sale. Now we learn that the Coleg has also been sold, though to someone based rather nearer to Harlech than Gibraltar.
Is he fibbing, or is he one of those wealthy men who buys things on impulse then figures out what to do with them?
Anyway, off I went a-digging. Irvine, or Banks-Irvine, had a company called Anglo-Euro Trade Ltd, originally based in southern England that moved to Talybont (near Bermo), in April 2004, presumably when the man himself moved. It’s stated business, ‘Distilling, rectifying and blending of spirits’. (Not more bloody ‘craft gin’?)
I’m using the past tense because Anglo-Euro Trade Ltd was dissolved in May 2017. From the accounts I’ve looked at it never made enough in any one year to pay for the cat food. But there you go, maybe he didn’t have a cat.
Though a new company was launched 28 January. Apart from the authoritative tones of the man himself the only other voice we hear in the cavernous boardroom of LBI (Wern Fawr) Ltd is that of Tessa Jane Beverly.
The company’s business is, ‘Development of building projects’. Which would suggest that LBI has been set up to carry through whatever plans the eponymous Leslie Banks Irvine has for my alma mater.
And what might those plans be?
Well . . . something I turned up on the Cyngor Gwynedd planning portal might give a clue. Last year Leslie Banks Irvine applied for a change of use for Fairbourne church hall. The application said he wanted to use it to store his – or someone’s – ‘collection of classic motor cars’. The application was refused.
Has this plan now moved up the coast to Harlech?
Of course I have no way of knowing what the plans are for the Coleg, the auditorium and the other buildings, but if I lived in or near Harlech I would be asking Leslie Banks Irvine, and not accepting ‘dunno’ for an answer.
But wherever we live in Wales we should be concerned that another historic and iconic site has been sold off by a public body, to a virtual stranger, probably at a knock-down price, and for an undisclosed purpose.
And there’s a good chance he’s hoping for public funding.
SAVING THE PLANET BY EXPLOITING WALES
Talking of knock-down prices, how about fives acres for £1? Yes, that is five acres of good Welsh land for just 100 pence. For that’s the deal done by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ for Parc Teifi in Cardigan with a bunch of eco-shysters environmentalists.
The leader of this lucky band, one Alpay Torgut, believes the deal was done because, “The Welsh Government was impressed with our work and achievements over the last ten years, in creating and successfully running our previous community forest garden and the Cardigan Eco shop”.
The previous ‘community forest gardens’ were in England and Llandudoch. For it should go without saying that Alpay Torgut is not from aroun’ by ‘ere. He is another who has realised that everything is greener on this side of the Dyke, especially the politicians and the funders.
He mentions the Cardigan Eco Shop “which has been going for nine years now”. Maybe, but the company Naturewise Eco Shop CIC was only Incorporated in January this year, and probably only done to enable Alpay and his gang to qualify for the goodies. Just more box-ticking.
Upon seeing the photo above I mumbled the appropriate incantations and an apparition appeared, who spake in this wise: “Jac!”, it intoned, “Jac!” (repeating itself), “I have the gift of seeing into the future, mush, and I tell you now, this will soon be a commune. And lo! retrospective planning permission will be granted, and many shekels will be shoved the way of these con artists. Mark my words, son!”
And then, with a drawn out wail, the apparition departed.
The commune foretold – and other examples of encouraged colonisation – will be justified by England’s management team in Cardiff docks as ‘reducing Wales’s carbon footprint’.
I’m still waiting for an explanation as to how we reduce our carbon footprint by, a) encouraging people to move into Wales and then, b) letting them exploit land that had previously been causing Mother Earth no problems whatsoever.
UPDATE 17.04.2019: I have now written to the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ asking for my five acres.
The reason I mention this crew at all is because one of them is boasting that our former First Minister, Labour’s Carwyn Jones, has promised to help them secure a licence to grow hemp (cannabis) and that a big pharmaceutical company may be involved. For not only is it now legal to grow cannabis, but from last November doctors can prescribe cannabis products.
The word on the street is that there will be no benefit to Wales because the licence will be used to grow pot that will then be transported to England, where it will be processed and where it will provide jobs.
It may even be possible to use the licence in England. Wales and the ever-obliging Carwyn Jones may simply be used to get the necessary authorisation.
If anyone has more information, then please get in touch.
TARDIS IN CYDWELI!
A curious story reaches me from that source of many a strange tale, Cydweli.
You may recall that the town council’s Mynydd-y-Garreg ward saw a by-election in February won by Labour’s Beryl-Ann Williams, an art psychotherapist, our Beryl-Ann. Now there’s another by-election in the same ward and the Labour candidate this time is Arwyn Rhys Williams.
From the form below you’ll see that young Arwyn gives his address as 27 Llys Gwenllian, an unprepossessing property built by Grwp Gwalia, now merged into the Pobl group. (You might remember that it was Gwalia that housed the gang of London paedophiles.)
Also resident in this property is councillor Philip Thompson, who’s a lawyer, and a QC, yet somehow qualifies for social housing . . . but then, he is Labour, and being a party activist puts you at the top of the waiting list with most housing associations.
Others who have given this as their address in recent years are Siôn Davies, who was Labour candidate for Llangyndeyrn, and Lisa Williams who stood for the party in Trimsaran. I’m told there have been others.
So is this a house of multiple occupation, and if so, is it registered as such? If it’s not a HMO then what’s going on? Could it be that Labour candidates are afraid to tell us where they really live?
Getting back to young Arwyn for a minute, something I found on his Facebook page would not have me queuing outside the polling booth at 7am in the pissing rain to vote for him.
But then, in fairness to the boy, those attributes could apply to so many Labour politicians. His political future is assured!
UPDATE 17.04.2019: I’m now being told that Arwyn Rhys Williams is the son of Cydweli mayor Philip Thompson. He uses his mother’s name of Williams.
So if he is now living with his dad then Arwyn needs to update his Facebook profile, which locates him either in Swansea or Tenby. Alternatively, if the FB information is true, then maybe he’s just living at the Cydweli address until the election is over.
It also suggests he’s still in school. He is 18, is he?
I hope I whetted your appetite in the previous post with my promise of updates on the whereabouts of some of those I’ve written about in the not too distant past.
To set the scene . . . a few years back the Labour Party on Swansea council relied heavily on councillors who were no more than students. They knew nothing about my wonderful city and were just making up the numbers for council leader David ‘Il Duce’ Phillips, another stranger to ‘the ugly lovely town’.
One by one they disappeared. California girl Pearleen Sangha went to Cardiff to work as a regional organiser for ‘Welsh’ Labour. In other words, she left a city she didn’t know in order to ‘organise’ a region she knew even less about.
Then she went home to the States to work for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. She was based in the Carolinas, which might have been as alien to her as Swansea. Perhaps she had some interesting encounters with good ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye . . . and voting Trump.
After a stint back in her home state, working for Mayor Sam Liccardo of San José, she has now returned to these shores as a fully-fledged ‘political consultant’. All set out here in her Linkedin profile.
Then there was John ‘John Boy’ Bayliss, a native of Eastbourne. I understand John is currently working as a press officer for Home Secretary Sajid Javid and LGBT adviser to the Conservative Party. So it could be that John Boy has deserted the bruvvers.
In the collage below you’ll see John Boy luxuriating in the adoration of his canvassers. They too look as if they’ve been recruited from the university.
On the left of the collage you’ll see a bizarre shot of Il Duce in mayoral robes at the foot of the Mansion House stairs, with his eyes shut, and his loyal band behind him. Nothing wrong with a shot like that, when it’s the Kennedy clan on a wide and elegant staircase at Hyannisport . . . but not with that gormless crew bunched up fighting for air.
On the great man’s right hand is his consort Sybil Crouch, another Labour councillor who thought Mumbles was a speech impediment until she washed up in Swansea. Interestingly, Crouch worked at the university.
In the trio on the top right we see, on the left, Nick Bradley, loyal West Bromwich Albion supporter who was given the brief of the Liberty Stadium, the Swans’ home, presumably because somebody thought he might know something about football.
In the middle we see Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Theaker. Gin connoisseur who also took himself off to the Gulf but has now given it all up for life as a globe-trotter. Though the word is that he hopes to return to Swansea and resume his political career.
On the right we see Rene ‘Rocking Rene’ Kinzett, the only Tory in this gay trio, and at one time the youngest of Swansea’s councillors. I predict with certainty that Rene will not be returning to Swansea . . . after he’s released from prison.
I wrote about ‘Rocking Rene’ back in 2013, and someone, in a comment, reminded me that his brother Richard had been sent down for life after attacking an off-duty copper outside the Uplands Tavern while on a visit to Rene. I then received a message from their father, demanding apologies for all sorts of things. I wrote about it here.
I felt sorry for Kinzett senior back then, and I feel even sorrier for him now with two sons banged up. I just hope he has other children to console him.
Just a brief update to Dawnus 3.
There’s no question that French arms manufacturer Thales didn’t stay long at the Stradey Business Park in Llangennech. It left soon after the (official) British withdrawal from Afghanistan, maybe before. So why wasn’t Thales’ departure given the same coverage by the ‘Welsh’ media as its arrival, or indeed any coverage?
The building used by Thales was taken over by Hydro Industries Ltd, as shown in one of the photographs below that I was sent by a local. This explains Carwyn Jones’s visits to the USA in 2013 and 2014 promoting Hydro Industries.
The other photo, from the front gate, leaves no one in any doubt that Robert Lovering’s company European Telecom Solutions has moved in.
(What’s equally clear is that no one cleans the old signage.)
Hydro Industries is ostensibly involved in the harmless and praiseworthy business of bringing clean water to Africa. I suspect it’s involved in rather more than that. And that it wasn’t just the Thales building that it took over.
Hydro replacing Thales explains the sudden attention – and financial input – of the Waterloo Foundation and Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle, who is herself French.
The wife and I like to take ourselves off for short breaks exploring this wonderful country of ours. One such trip about three years ago took us to Pembrokeshire and the Cleddau Bridge Hotel, a superb location on the Milford Haven Waterway and ideally located for walking across the bridge to take in the stunning views.
But there you go, these things happen . . . and often in the sequence I’ve listed here!
One of the big issues on the Welsh Twittersphere over the past few days has been the defacing, then the partial demolition, and finally the rebuilding, of the ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ mural on the A487 just north of Llanrhystud.
First, on Thursday night, it was vandalised by someone painting over the message, then on Friday night the wall itself was partially demolished. These incidents being the latest in a series of attacks, presumably by those objecting to the message.
The recent incidents are covered pretty well in this BBC Wales report. (From which I’ve used the image below.)
Not only has the wall been rebuilt and the message repainted but a petition has been launched to raise £20,000. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve chipped in with my £20 (plus the charge!) but I’m still not sure what exactly I’m contributing towards.
The petition reads,
This Mural is an important landmark in Welsh history which symbolized the hurt and pain that the drowning of the village of Tryweryn caused in the 1960s
After the mural was desecrated numerous times in the last few years, we want to make sure it’s secure and protected for future generations.
Please donate to our cause!
(The drowned village was actually called Capel Celyn.)
But what does this appeal mean? If it means constantly repainting and rebuilding the memorial (for memorial is what it is) after each act of vandalism, then I shall be very disappointed, because I believe there has to be a permanent solution to ensure no further attacks.
Personally, I wouldn’t object to booby traps, but I suppose some would, so what is to be done? For a start, who owns the land on which the wall stands, and the lay-by in front? Can it be bought? And if so, who would own it on behalf of the nation? It obviously can’t be a single political party or group; ownership and custodianship has to be as broadly based as possible.
But it must also be in Welsh hands, which is why I was appalled to read this suggestion from English Heritage (West) that their mates in The English National Trust be involved.
Why the hell would we need to involve a middle class BritNat outfit? And seeing as this is a national memorial the decision can’t be left entirely to the local community council either, a group that might be influenced by Cadw.
Responses I’ve seen to the recent attacks hint at a divide long evident in the national movement. I’m referring now to those ready to turn the other cheek and keep rebuilding the wall after every attack; and those who want to bring those responsible to book, and ensure it never happens again.
A divide exposed by Tryweryn itself, when some felt that the correct response was to sing hymns in the streets of Liverpool, while others wanted to blow up the dam.
We are entering dangerous times, with a confused and angry neighbour that might fall under the sway of demagogues and rabble-rousers who have some very ugly masters. Those seeking martyrdom might get their wish, but it won’t help Wales one bit.
At the risk of getting a reputation for picking on the Labour Party I conclude with a tale of bruvvers at each others’ throats. This story comes from Flintshire, realm of the late Carl Sargeant.
A name we became familiar with in those dark days was Bernie Attridge, apparently a big (in every sense of the word) mate to Sargeant. In fact, in the aftermath of Sargeant’s death, Attridge got quite emotional at times and made no bones about targeting Carwyn Jones.
But then it seemed that the Sargeant death opened a can of worms. For example, it was suggested that Attridge had hinted that Sargeant could have gone to prison for unspecified crimes. Attridge is alleged to have used the colourful phrase, “I bet he’s shitting bricks“. And this was alleged to have been said before Sargeant’s sacking and suspension in November 2017.
These rumours were known to the denizens of the Connah’s Quay Labour Club, and officials of the party. From reading what was being reported it was clear there were divisions within the local Labour Party. But of course this had nothing to do with ideology, for the Labour Party in the north east is very much like the Labour Party we know in the south, in that it’s an ideology-free gravy train.
The main cleavage seemed to be between the council leader, the appropriately named Aaron Shotton, and his deputy, Attridge, plus of course those who took sides. Things seem to have come to a head in the past couple of weeks, first, with Shotton sacking Attridge, and this closely followed by Shotton’s resignation.
It was even suggested that Shotton had chucked it in due to the fear of Attridge supporters taking to the streets. (Flaming torches and pitchforks optional.)
In the BBC report I’ve just linked to, ‘“Cabinet colleague Carolyn Thomas warned earlier that “hatred and animosity” threatened to split the Labour group’.
While this WalesOnline report tells us that the problem goes back to a secret recording made ten years ago of a conversation between Shotton and Attridge that contains ‘expletives’ and ‘defamatory allegations’.
Then last Thursday a piece appeared in the Wasting Mule which seemed to be answered by another piece on Saturday. See what you make of them.
It’s pretty obvious, even from a distance, that the Labour Party has a very unhappy band of bruvvers in Flintshire. If it comes to all-out war it could get nasty, for the Flintshire Labour Party – and indeed the council – has always contained a number of renowned swordsmen.
What makes it even more awkward for Labour is that Shotton and Attridge both represent the Connah’s Quay Central ward. I bet ward meetings are a bundle of laughs. Happy days!
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
This week’s offering keeps to the bits and pieces format that’s popular in certain quarters; but there is a thread in that all the items below show Wales being taken advantage of in one form or another.
Worse, there are some trying to present our passivity and gullibility as virtues, cos we are ‘carin’, innit.
THE WILD WEST SHOW
I remember Paul Flynn, long-serving Labour MP for Newport West who died last month, use the term ‘Wild West Show’ to describe the planning system – or lack thereof – in Ceredigion back in the 1980s and 1990s. Those halcyon days when the council was run by Dai Lloyd Evans and his fraternity of landowner-farmers sitting as ‘Independents’.
No ordinary men these, but seers, with powers that allowed them to predict which land might in future be built upon and therefore increase in value. And so certain were they of their powers that some would buy worthless land that – hey presto! – became valuable through being favoured in local development plans and by other means.
Dai Lloyd Evans himself increased his already considerable wealth by buying a couple of fields outside of his native Tregaron that – as the visions had foretold – became earmarked for ‘development’. The populace marvelled at his prescience.
Those were indeed wondrous times. And the splurge of housebuilding, the detached four-bedroom houses, were defended by Dai and his gang with, ‘Our youngsters must have somewhere to live’.
If you want to know why the Welsh language has retreated so rapidly in Ceredigion then look no further than Dai Lloyd Evans and his gang encouraging the building of thousands of big houses . . . for local youngsters.
All the while Plaid Cymru stood by twiddling its thumbs. Or else, like Cynog Dafis, tried to put a positive gloss on the invasion by snuggling up to the Green element and pretending these colonialist enviro-shysters would be an asset to Wales.
The Wild West show is no longer confined to Ceredigion. It’s playing all over Wales (though Welsh involvement is now minimal). There’s a simple reason for this – it’s because in Wales you can get away with just about anything.
That’s why Wales attracts the leeches of the third sector bleeding the public purse to tackle issues that will never really be tackled because to do so would cut off the leeches’ blood supply.
It also explains why we get all manner of shysters and crooks coming to Wales – because they know they can tap into public funding and get planning permission and other support for just about any ludicrous ‘scheme’.
And even when people get caught out, nothing is done. Auditors, ombudsmen, politicians, media, police, just look the other way, and the Wild West Show rolls on.
The fun and games – and the lies – continue down in Milford Haven with Camp Valour’s plans for Fort Hubberston.
For those wondering what I’m talking about, let me explain that a bunch of chancers formed a company called Camp Valour CIC and came up with a scheme for a ‘veteran transition centre’ for 250 military veterans at Fort Hubberston, a 19th century fortification on Milford Haven Waterway.
If you want to catch up with the details, then read this post (scroll down to part 3) and this post (ditto). So what’s new?
As I mentioned in an update to my previous post, I had a silly e-mail, purporting to be from a solicitor, demanding that I take down everything I’d written about the gang. It was badly written, came from a Yahoo address, had no company logo or anything else to suggest it was authentic, but whoever wrote it thought they were being clever by using the name of a real solicitor! (That is a special kind of stupid.)
So I got in touch with the genuine solicitor, forwarded the e-mail I’d received, and she’s now following it up.
Most other developments are covered in the report below from last Friday’s Pembrokeshire Herald.
Though there has been one other development. Last Thursday I received a notification from Companies House that on February 15th – just two days after my first posting on the subject – ‘Major’ Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen resigned as director of Camp Valour CIC.
Which means that Camp Valour is now drifting, rudderless, without a single officer aboard. And for a company to have no officers might invalidate its registration with Companies House. I have reported this state of rudderlessness to Companies House.
This resignation is very strange, or very revealing. His defenders insist that Major Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen is genuine and has not changed his name from Sean Keven Patrick Pullen. (They’re twins!) Also, that he really is a military veteran. Yet at the first sign of hostilities he legs it!
I can also report that the Walter Mitty and Bloaters Hunters Club is looking into Pullen’s history. This group exposes con men pretending to have served in the military. It seems the practice is more widespread than you might think, and the fantasists invariably claim to have served in elite units, rarely the Pay Corps or the Engineers.
The other thing worth mentioning is something that’s been nagging me for a few days now, probably because I don’t know how to interpret it. Let me explain.
The phoney solicitor’s letter arrived at 06:09 last Monday. Given that it was quite a long message (443 words) it suggests that whoever wrote it had risen early, or perhaps been up all night. But before that, at 02:22, I received another e-mail, this one telling me that a message had been sent to my Facebook page. But by the time I got up the FB message was gone, presumably the sender had deleted it.
Did I get messages from two different people that night, or did one person begin with a Facebook message and go for broke with a phoney solicitor’s letter? Though another possibility would be that someone got access to another person’s Facebook account.
Even more perplexing is the case of the disappeared photograph. In this sequence of photographs from the Remembrance Day parade in Liverpool in 2016 there was a photo of a lad, “ . . . wearing his Dad’s medals and Parachute Regiment Beret”. There was a suspicion that the boy was Pullen/Faversham-Pullen’s son. Someone else who saw it – a former Para – claimed that the medals couldn’t be genuine for operational reasons.
The picture of that boy has been removed some time in the past few days.
Finally, I cannot understand why the Port of Milford Haven is still taking these people seriously. In fact, I cannot understand why the Port of Milford Haven ever took these buggers seriously.
It would suffer no reputational harm if the Port of Milford Haven was to make a clear public announcement stating it will have no further dealings of any kind with Field Admiral Mitty-Pullen and his cohorts.
UPDATE 23:08: Below you’ll see a slightly redacted Facebook exchange that took place today between Pullen and a genuine ex-Para who knows him. The more I read it the more I realise that you cannot believe a word Pullen says. He even contradicts himself when, in column 2, he says that Camp Valour is finished but then, in column 7, he says he’s pulled out but others are carrying on! Which is it?
There’s an old saying that liars need good memories, and Pullen’s got a terrible memory.
UPDATE 05.03.2019: I have received a reply from Companies House to my query about the status of Camp Valour CIC, seeing as it no longer has a director. (Click to enlarge.)
HIDDEN COSTS OF BEING ‘CARING’
Someone on Swansea Bay who knows of such things tells of growing concern at the number of individuals being dealt with that clearly have no connections with the area.
One recent case my source became aware of is that of a vulnerable woman from Birmingham now living in Neath . . . when she’s not in the custody suite at Swansea Central police station . . . or getting treatment in hospital . . . or being ferried around by police car or ambulance.
And yet those running the property where this woman lives would argue that she costs us nothing because ‘Birmingham’ pays for her accommodation; which is no doubt true, but ‘Birmingham’ doesn’t pay for police time, or the amount this woman and so many others cost the ambulance service and the Welsh NHS.
In the previous post I looked at the case of staff at a care home in Cwm-twrch Isaf being told not to speak Welsh because the residents were not familiar with the language, proving that the residents aren’t local. So where are they from and why are they in Cwm-twrch Isaf? And why aren’t our politicians and media asking these questions?
Other reports tell me that many of the desperate cases who’ve been housed in Neath and spend their days on the streets are not from the area, and didn’t move to the area of their own volition. So what’s going on?
There’s no question that Wales is being taken advantage of by English local authorities, third sector outfits, probation companies, misguided do-gooders, housing associations and other bodies, with this encouraged, and then capitalised on, by the Labour Party.
The Labour Party wants to keep Wales poor so that it can blame ‘London’/the Tories and keep us voting Labour. Which means that Wales will remain poor for as long as we keep voting Labour.
This social cleansing has similarities with the dispersal of refugees, an issue reported on recently by Newsnight, which found that the poorer areas of central and northern England see many more refugees under the UK’s dispersal policy than wealthier parts of southern England with higher property values.
While there are similarities Wales has a much larger, overall social burden, and it’s spread more widely, because in addition to social cleansing and refugees the well-heeled from Surbiton and Solihull do not retire to Stoke or Scunthorpe, nor do they buy holiday homes in such places.
Being taken advantage of is bad enough, but we have celebs defending this colonialist exploitation by encouraging us to engage in an orgy of self-congratulation for being so ‘caring’.
When you start congratulating yourself for being a mug then you’re in real trouble . . . and others will continue to take advantage of you.
REFUSED PLANNING PERMISSION? CHANGE YOUR NAME AND USE A HOUSING ASSOCIATION AS A STALKING HORSE
On the outskirts of Swansea, tucked behind Morriston Hospital, lies the hamlet of Pant-lasau, consisting of around twenty homes. Although in many ways it’s a secluded spot it is of course next to one of Wales’s busiest hospitals and very close to the M4.
So it was no surprise when, in 2015, Edenstone Homes Limited, a company with a Gwent address, applied to build 13 new houses in Pant-lasau. These were substantial properties of types known as ‘Farnham’, ‘Bamford’, ‘Ingleton’ and ‘Ashcombe’, names that gel seamlessly with Pant-lasau, Cwmrhydyceirw, Llangyfelach and Mynydd Gelliwastad.
The application – 2015/1581 – was refused by Swansea city council and the refusal was upheld in April 2016 by Clive Nield of the Planning Inspectorate. Read the decision here.
On November 27th last year another planning application was received for the same parcel of land from Coastal Housing Group, one of the major housing associations in the area. This time for 20 ‘affordable homes’.
So why am I boring you by writing about a small housing association development on the outskirts of Swansea?
Because, good people, Coastal Housing has a ‘partner’ in this project, a fact made clear with this report produced in September 2018. While Swansea council’s website insists that it’s Coastal Housing acting alone.
So why the reticence to acknowledge the involvement of ‘Ashgrove Partnerships’? Come to that, who are Ashgrove Partnerships? All will be explained in a minute.
At the time of writing this, the Ashgrove website was still under construction, so the obvious conclusion to draw is that it’s a new company. But is it? For if we look to the bottom of the screen capture below we read, ‘Part of the Edenstone Group’, and it was Edenstone Homes that made the original planning application back in 2015.
The truth is, as Companies House tells us, that Edenstone Partnership Homes Limited changed its name to Ashgrove Partnership Homes Ltdin January this year. (In fact, this company has had six different names since it was Incorporated in February 2004.)
The directors are Stuart James Rodden, Mark Julian Hugo Holden, Jeffrey Stanley Taylor and Martin Jeffrey Taylor. The Taylors are probably father and son with the father, Jeffrey Stanley, involved in what appear to be all of the Edenstone companies and the son branching out beyond Edenstone.
Quite obviously, Edenstone has come back to Pant-lasau for a second attempt using Coastal Housing as a proxy. With the January name change to Ashgrove an attempt to disguise its true identity.
Let Uncle Jac explain what’s going to happen at Pant-lasau.
Planning permission will be given to Coastal Housing for 20 fairly modest properties. Everything will then pass to Edenstone/Ashgrove and changes will be requested to the planning approval. There may be a number of such requests granted to the point where what is finally built is radically different to what originally received planning permission. (As we recently saw at Plas Pistyll in Wilmslow-sur-Mer.)
What’s being done at Pant-lasau is deceitful and Coastal Housing is a willing participant in this deception. But who else is involved? For example, is Swansea council aware that Coastal Housing is fronting for a private developer?
Is the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ aware of this deceit? Or is Pant-lasau an example of the kind of ‘partnerships’ I hear housing associations are being encouraged to enter into?
Sifting through the documents available I was unable to find a title number or any ownership details for the land in question. The only option was a post code search on the Land Registry website. And it worked.
The documents tell us that the owners are David Michael Vernon Thomas and Susan Daphne Thomas of Deepholm Farmhouse, Rockfield, Monmouth. But we also read . . .
“(08.02.2013) RESTRICTION: Until 24 February 2024 no disposition of the part of the registered estate shown edged red on Part 1 of the title plan (other than a charge) by the proprietor of the registered estate, or by the proprietor of any registered charge, not being a charge registered before the entry of this restriction is to be registered without a certificate signed by Edenstone Homes (Western) Limited (Co. Regn. No. 7110699) of Priory House, Priory Street, Usk NP15 1QN”.
The Company mentioned in the Restriction above, Edenstone Homes (Western) Limited, is a shell company with Rodden and the Taylors as directors. All three give their address as First Floor, Building 102, Wales 1 Business Park, Newport Road, Magor, Caldicot, Wales, NP26 3DG. This address is home to a number of Rodden-Holden-Taylor companies.
The building itself is an ugly, new structure and obviously part of Alun Cairns’ Severnside nightmare.
So even though Edenstone/Ashgrove doesn’t own the land at Pant-lasau it obviously has some arrangement with the owners until 2024. Which again raises the question – why does this project need the involvement of Coastal Housing?
The answer, as I’ve explained, is to get planning permission. So I hope that when Swansea’s planning committee discusses this application on Tuesday the 5th it will reject what is an obvious attempt to get planning permission by deception.
And while they’re at it, Swansea’s planning committee might ask for an explanation from Coastal Housing for its involvement in this squalid ploy.
Or is this the shape of things to come?
P.S. I should add that Swansea’s planners seem to be complicit in this deception because even though the site is unsuitable for social housing the planners say it’s fine.
To begin with, there’s nothing in the way of public transport other than the bus service from Morriston hospital that runs down to Singleton hospital. Swansea’s planners say this constitutes good public transport.
On the issue of local facilities, shops and the like, the planners argue that the outlets in Morriston hospital – Subway, Costa and W H Smith – tick this box.
UPDATE 05.03.2019: To the surprise of absolutely no one Swansea council’s planning committee voted to approve this planning application. The vote was seven (all Labour) in favour, three (non-Labour) against.
DUMPING OF THE NUCLEAR VARIETY
You may be aware that the UK government is looking for suitable locations to dump nuclear waste. It seems the only areas being considered are in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Who’d have guessed!
In an attempt to be seen consulting the public the UK Government, through its agency Radioactive Waste Management, organised two public meeting in Wales, one in Swansea and one in Llandudno. Chosen for the obvious reason that each is central to its region and easy to reach by road and rail.
Well now we learn that the Swansea meeting is cancelled, and will be replaced by an online consultation. At the time of writing the Llandudno meeting is still going ahead on 14 March.
Plaid Cymru seems to be ambivalent. It was reluctant to oppose the Cardiff dumping because of the involvement of suspended AM and enfant terrible Neil McEvoy, and Plaid will dither on underground dumping because the party always shows two faces to nuclear energy.
The Swansea meeting may have been called off due to the hostile reaction locally, from such as Tory Suzy Davies the local regional AM and Lib Dem councillor and former AM Peter Black. The local bruvvers have also mumbled a bit but they’ll fall into line when their bosses in Cardiff and London crack the whip.
Whether it’s paedophiles, drug addicts, wrinklies, wind turbines, problem families, white flight, nuclear waste, Wales is where England looks to do its dumping.
There’s only one way to escape this abusive relationship, and that’s independence. There is only one political party promising independence and that’s Ein Gwlad.
It’s always nice to meet up with old friends, and here are updates on three characters I’ve written about before, though I suppose it’s stretching it a bit to call them friends. And it also gives me the opportunity to introduce a couple of new faces.
This trip down Memory Lane will take us from Cardigan to Caernarfon and from the Afan Valley up to the Conwy Valley. (But if you want to stop somewhere for a cup of tea and a Welsh cake, that’s OK with me.)
What they have in common is that they have come to live among us and milk the public purse invest in our lovely homeland. We shall meet grant-grabbers and outright crooks all adding to the woof and weave of contemporary Welsh life.
This is another big piece but you don’t have to be greedy because it’s broken up into three distinct parts topped and tailed with this introduction and the conclusion.
GAVIN ‘WYNNBORN’ WOODHOUSE
Gavin Lee Woodhouse first intruded into the collective Welsh consciousness when, through his company MBI Hotels Ltd, he bought Plas Glynllifon near Caernarfon and tried to re-brand it ‘Wynnborn’. (Plas Glynllifon has been spectacularly unlucky in its recent owners, with the latest being Paul and Rowena Williams. Though they might by now have sold out to Myles Cunliffe. Explained in Weep for Wales 11.)
I didn’t write about Woodhouse at the time, but my interest was aroused when I learnt that together with Bore Grylls he was planning a big development behind Port Talbot. I first wrote about it in English tourism in the colony of Wales in April 2017, and followed it up in July with Colonial investments.
As time went on I began to suspect that Woodhouse was being edged out of the project, or being asked to take a back seat, because the front man soon became Peter Moore, “the man who brought Center Parcs to the UK”.
Maybe it was realised that Woodhouse, with the ‘Wynnborn’ albatross around his neck, his ‘chequered’ business record, and his tendency to come across as a bit of a wide boy, might not be viewed as a suitable recipient of Welsh public funding.
But you can’t keep him down. Soon after walking away from ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse bought Caer Rhun Hall early in 2016. And he was rewarded last year with a £500,000 wodge from the ‘Welsh Government’. Though a number of people are asking how this was justified, seeing as Woodhouse doesn’t own the hotel in the conventional sense. Let me explain.
This business model was looked at by West Wales News Review in October 2017, for Woodhouse – through a worryingly large portfolio of companies – owns a number of hotels in Wales from Tenby to Llandudno.
Either way, I believe that no one starts and closes so many companies in just seven years unless it’s done to confuse people, and to hamper investigation.
In order to maximise his profits Woodhouse also wants to put overpriced sheds in the Caer Rhun gardens and call them ‘villas’. Though locals can’t understand why these nine ‘villas’ are being advertised for sale – they may even have been sold ‘off plan’ – when planning permission was refused on the 11th of January.
And yet, due to the plethora of companies it’s difficult to know which company is involved in which project. To avoid too much confusion let’s just stick with Caer Rhun.
But if we go to this page for Caer Rhun Hall we see it linked with ‘Whisper Hotels’. There is a website for Whisper, but nothing registered with Companies House, so presumably it’s a marketing name, in which case I would expect the website to give the name of the controlling company. Of course it doesn’t.
Maybe Caer Rhun is owned by Woodhouse’s Giant Hospitality Ltd (formerly MBI Hotels Ltd). A company with net liabilities of £265,135 and Woodhouse as sole director. I make this suggestion because until last month Giant Hospitality was based at Caer Rhun before moving to West Yorkshire.
Another point of interest is Woodhouse’s funding. For the many charges against his companies are not with banks that you would recognise . . . or come to that, with any bank.
Woodhouse’s money comes from interesting sources like Fiduciam Nominees Ltd, Assetz Capital Trust Company Ltd and Mysing Capital Ltd.
Fiduciam Nominees of London seems to have little in the way of money, but has 516,000 issued shares, while on its Companies House entry its business is described as “financial intermediation“. Its directors are French, Dutch, Belgian and New Zealand. So your guess is as good as mine as to where the money really comes from.
Turning to Manchester-based Assetz Capital Trust Company Ltd, the latest (unaudited) financial statement declares no assets whatsoever. But as I say, it’s a trust, one of the shadiest of all financial vehicles.
Unusually, perhaps, Mysing Capital Ltdappears to be a thing of substance. It’s one of a stable of companies using the Mysing name based in Woodhouse’s home patch of West Yorkshire. The latest accounts give total net assets of almost £1.5m . . . that is if you believe ‘unaudited abridged accounts’, the kind of ‘You can trust us, Guv’ submissions favoured by so many of those we meet on this blog.
Gavin Lee Woodhouse is a spiv, a man prepared to cut corners; he’s borrowing money from companies that are nothing more than middle men for ‘investors’ – yet the ‘Welsh Government’ is more than happy to fund this man!
JAMES ‘FFOREST’ LYNCH
Now let’s go back a little further, to July 2015, and Cardigan Castle – Ready to Fall? This was the first in a series of articles on the £12m renovation of the castle, a project that failed to enthuse many locals, who felt that its significance in Welsh history was being downplayed in order to promote the castle as a conference centre, wedding venue, and glorified B & B.
It was further suspected that the wrong direction had been taken due to the project being controlled by four women who seemed impervious to criticism and deaf to advice. These were dealt with in Gang of Four + One. The leader of the group was unquestionably local matriarch Jann Tucker of Aberporth.
Tangentially I mentioned James Lynch, who is married to Tucker’s daughter, Siân. Satisfied that he had no part in what was happening at the castle I took him off the hook and let him swim away. But now people tell me that he has become something of a predator himself in the pond that is Aberteifi.
For Lynch seems to be branching out hither and yon, being photographed in the company of peers of the realm, which means we can guarantee that grants will follow. These will be in addition to the considerable amounts of lucre he’s already received from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.
And in this recent spurt of expansionism Oor Jimmie has pissed off a great number of people. (Did I not mention that Lynch is one of our northern cousins?)
Before dealing with his current and proposed ventures – and almost as many companies as ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse – let us consider James Lynch’s business background. I warn you, this gets complicated; but as ever, Jac has tried to make things clearer. For I have drawn up a document listing all of Lynch’s companies . . . or at least, all those I can find.
Now I’d better explain the document so that you can make sense of it. It’s here in pdf format. Maybe it would be best for you to open it in another window for easy reference.
You’ll see that there are seven column headings. Most are self-explanatory, ‘Inc’d’ means Incorporated; that is, the date the company was formed. Each company name forms a link, click to open an entry with Companies House or Company Check.
The final column, ‘Financial Health’, also contains a number of links, usually where there are outstanding charges. Where you read ‘N/A’, this refers to companies that Lynch left before they went tits up, or they may still be trading. So neither blame nor credit can be apportioned.
You will also see that some entries are shaded in yellow and others in violet, so let me explain this shading.
I assume that Lynch met Ms Tucker when both were in London, where they married and begat four sons. While there Lynch joined a number of companies where the common denominator seems to have been Ellis Elias, who I originally assumed to be Welsh. But on noticing a mention of Golders Green and a loan from an Israeli bank, I now believe that Elias is Jewish. The companies run by Elias, and an assortment of others, are shaded in yellow. Lynch’s involvement with them seems to have ended in 2003.
The companies that are unshaded – or in white – are usually Lynch companies. As are those in violet, but with this important distinction. The companies in violet have all received loans / debentures from Finance Wales. (Finance Wales has been renamed Development Bank of Wales.) In fact, in some cases it could be this funding that is keeping the companies afloat. These loans / debentures were all signed off by Val Thomas and all delivered on 2 April 2015.
Take the ‘Welsh Government’s Finance Wales out of the equation and Jimmy’s business record is anything but inspiring. Most of his non-FW companies – those unshaded – are dissolved, some with outstanding debts.
Or else, as you see under the ‘Financial Health’ column, the situation is ‘Unknown’, because I can find nothing on the Companies House website and I’m not prepared to pay Company Check for documents that may reveal little.
Then look at the four ‘Loft’ companies Incorporated 26.05.1999 – how do we explain that? Is he trying to confuse people, just like Woodhouse?
Another company that caught my eye was Beachbay Ltd. What I find odd is that Jimbo already had a number of charges against this venture before Finance Wales got involved. What’s more, we’re dealing with a property in London, which Lynch was presumably buying through those mortgages and loans.
My view is that Finance Wales should have rejected any application from Beachbay Ltd, a London-based company operating property in London. And even though the office address has now – belatedly – moved to Cardigan the business is still in London.
I’m sure someone will make an enquiry about this. It might even be me! (Done!)
But how do we explain Finance Wales’s generosity? Well, it occurs to me that in controlling the regeneration of the castle Jann Tucker would have made many useful contacts in Cardiff. And so I suspect she helped facilitate the largesse bestowed on James Lynch, especially as her daughter is a director of most of the companies involved.
But what’s Jimmie been up to of late? Well we saw the photograph above of him with a veteran revolutionary who’s been valiantly fighting the system from within for nigh on fifty years. And to his credit, El Dafydd has taken the fight into the enemy citadel, where many close their eyes to avoid witnessing the carnage.
(Though nowadays he seems to be little more than Kenny Skates’ gofer.)
That photograph suggests tourism. But rather than re-purposing the places of worship mentioned in that article I linked to, and this one, the issue causing concern for a number of people in the Cardigan area is glamping. For Jimmie wants to erect glamping pods . . . in fact, he has already put up some without planning permission.
Though the situation now appears to have been ‘regularised’, with permission granted, but with a number of conditions. Planning enforcement officers are still investigating the ones put up without permission!
In the piece I linked to from December you’ll read “Mr Lynch said he now employed around 50 people, most of them local young people”. While in the headline you saw the name ‘Pizzatipi’, so let’s pull these threads together and see what we get.
Pizzatipi is a pretentious fast food joint and bar by the Teifi in the middle of the town run by Lynch’s sons . . . though it’s closed until Easter (suggesting locals don’t use it). Maybe somebody should have asked Lynch how many “local young people” are employed now, in December and January.
For of course Lynch is a tourism operator, and he may indeed provide dozens of jobs for young people . . . in the summer. Some of these youngsters will be local, others will be on a working holiday. Few will be paid above the minimum wage.
The word on the street is that Lynch has now bought the local mart grounds. He has no interest in livestock so speculation is rife as to his plans for the site. There is also speculation about where he’s getting the money from.
Whatever the exact source I suspect it will have ‘Welsh Government’ stamped on it.
A suspicion heightened by this truly ludicrous Visit Wales publication that has Lynch listed among “Heroic trailblazers: real-life legends of Wales”. In truth, he is a man with a mountain of debts, a trail of failed companies . . . but an influential mother-in-law.
We are entitled to ask the ‘Welsh Government’ why it is putting so much of our money into Lynch’s companies, and the companies of others like him, to build up property portfolios for themselves, but to create only low wage, no skill, seasonal jobs.
Does anyone seriously believe that ventures like Pizzatipi (closed ’til Easter), glamping, and all the other nonsense we’ve looked at will give us a healthy, balanced economy that can provide well-paid jobs for our people, allowing them to remain in their communities and compete in their local property markets?
As ever, answers on a post card, please.
UPDATE 30.01.2019: I am indebted to a source for drawing to my attention yet another of James Lynch’s projects, this one is on the Cardigan quayside. It involves, “Refurbishment, extension and change of use of warehouse, to include mixed-use development comprising of events space (sui generis), enterprise zones providing mixed use at ground floor and hostel and spa treatment room at first floor (sui generis).”
All details may be obtained by visiting the council planning portal, and then scrolling down. In addition to just about everyone within earshot of the proposed ‘events space’ the town council is also objecting, and even Natural Resources Wales has “significant concerns”.
It seems Jimbo is trying to branch out in all directions at once. Maybe the word I’m looking for is ‘overreach’.
Irrespective of how that works out push on with your plan.
If planning permission refused, insist on retrospective permission.
Count on council caving in on the grounds of being unable to justify spending public money in pursuing a legal case against you.
You get what you want.
The only way to ensure that Lynch and others can’t get away with it is to make a few, well-publicised examples of pulling down anything put up without authorisation – and making the guilty party pay.
The message would soon sink in.
SHANE BAKER, ‘THE BARGAIN BASEMENT BALDRICK OF NEBO’ AND HIS FRIEND JONATHAN JAMES DUGGAN
We first encountered James Lynch in 2015 and Gavin Woodhouse in 2017, now we’re going to catch up with someone we met much more recently. I’m referring to Shane Baker, who topped the bill in Miscellany 25.11.2018. The first time he’s topped the bill since his gig at Twerton Liberal Club. (You missed it!)
Shane describes himself as a film extra and his social media output makes it clear that he sits on the political far right, where the sun always shines and the favourite mobile ring tone is God Save the Queen.
It would be easy to laugh at Shane Baker, Tommy Robinson’s rocking acolyte, but he mixes with people who treat others with contempt, break the law without a second thought, and flout planning regulations with impunity.
How they met up remains a mystery but Baker seems to act as general fixer for Jonathan James Duggan, formerly of West Yorkshire. In fact, so close are they, that I hear Duggan sometimes uses Baker’s name. Why would he do that, boys and girls?
Perhaps because he’s a crook, and the son of a crook. For Jonathan James Duggan (aka Ripley) is the son of John/Jonathan Joseph Duggan. Duggan père was sent down in 2005 for six years, and described in this report as a “professional fraudster”.
Duggan senior made the news last year when he was arrested in Benllech, taken back to Yorkshire and banged up again.
After his father was imprisoned in 2005 young Duggan took over the family business of ordering goods, selling them off, not paying the original supplier, then liquidating the company involved.
By now, the Huddersfield area in which the Duggans had operated must have become unwelcoming because by 2012 or 2013 we find Duggan junior in Nebo. At Bryn Llys, an unprepossessing property . . . for which there were soon big plans.
These can be seen below. As might be expected, Duggan had no intention of keeping to the planning application that had been approved.
The new property that has been built is now advertised as Snowdon Summit View. When there are guests Duggan moves his wife Emma and seven children into a nearby shed . . . and I mean, shed, with no windows. I’m told the local fire service came to inspect it – and did no more than install fire alarms for free!
I’m also told that Duggan’s wife uses a number of names other than Duggan.
Fire alarms were not all Duggan got for free. For I’m also told that Nest Cymru installed 35 radiators and a biomass system in the new house. Though someone else tells me there’s an issue with water pressure that means the advertised baths and laundry facilities are very much luck of the draw.
To take you further in this story it’s best that you have an idea of the lie of the land. So I’ve put together a few maps that will help you locate Bryn Llys.
The map at the top shows the location of the village of Nebo, which is just off the A487 running from Porthmadog to Caernarfon. The map in the centre shows the village and the narrow roads running to and from it, with Bryn Llys the scorched earth in the centre. At the bottom you see a close-up of Bryn Llys.
It didn’t always look like this. But Duggan has cleared away hedges, walls and other features to leave a wasteland with – I’m told – topsoil buried under hardcore! Why would he do this?
Possibly because Duggan plans a large tourist attraction for Bryn Llys, with holiday accommodation. But as you can see on the map, there is only a narrow track from his property to Ffordd Cors y Llyn, the single-track road running into Nebo (and a dead-end in the other direction). This need for a wider access road explains why he has tried to steal land from neighbours, or to intimidate them into selling land.
This campaign involves threats, forged documents, claiming land that is not his, felling trees and knocking down walls. All because a great deal of money has been spent on a property that is very unlikely to receive planning permission for the kind of project Duggan has in mind, even from Gwynedd’s supine planning department.
There’s a lot more I could have written, but this is enough for now. As yet, I don’t think Jonathan James Duggan has received funding from the ‘Welsh Government’. But it’s only a matter of time.
Oh! before I forget, a mate of Duggan’s who is also interested in land outside of Nebo is Aaron Hill, who owns/owned the old courthouse in Caernarfon and who was – according to WalesOnline – victimised by “anti-English racists”. In reality, Cofis objected to him throwing his weight around.
The first reference I can find for Hill is this from October 2011, related to Plas Gwynfryn at Llanystumdwy, the home of Tory MP Ellis-Nanney. Hill is described as an “expert” on bringing derelict buildings back to life.
In the same year he bought St David’s church in Picton Terrace, Carmarthen for £1 making lots of promises. This report from 2017 suggests his ‘expertise’ had deserted him for nothing was ever done to the building and Hill was off-loading it.
In July 2015 he formed a company called Capel Troedyrhiw Ltd, which had an address in Radyr, Cardiff before transferring to Caernarfon and folding. It never traded and was just a shell company.
I can’t find any other company that Hill has been associated with and so I wonder where his money comes from. All information gratefully received.
We have a ‘Welsh Government’ with no policy for rural areas beyond letting things happen; which means they have no alternative but to welcome and fund the kinds of spivs and crooks you’ve read about here – and then pretend it’s a ‘strategy’.
Because there is such a good welcome I suspect that much of what the ‘Welsh Government’ would have us believe is ‘investment’ is in fact money laundering. With tourism and the buying of hotels and isolated properties seen as an ideal conduit for dirty money.
This takes place to a backdrop of most locals unable to afford a home, and increasingly denied social housing by the practices of housing associations; and so they either leave or struggle on in communities becoming less familiar year on year. Ethnic cleansing the clever way.
Decent jobs are scarce and there is no investment in anything that will benefit Welsh people . . . yet there is unlimited funding for this invading horde of crooks and shysters who are clearly above the law and beyond any restraint.
I’m no longer sure that politics, or political change, will be enough to save Wales from the engineered extinction that is approaching. Maybe something else is needed.
Before moving to Wales he was a senior partner in PwC, one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms, those pillars of the City of London that give glowing reports of financial health to firms about to head up Shit Creek and when they’re not doing that they’re extolling the probity of corrupt third world regimes.
The ‘Big Four’ will do and say anything for money. Making Peters a man with an interesting past.
He seems to have arrived in Wales in 2010 and in December of that year he founded Western Solar Ltd.
He also launched himself as the beneficent and culture-loving squire with Menter Rhosygilwen, a charity (No 1139848) which, to judge by its programme, at least recognises it is in Wales. Rhosygilwen being the name of his mansion not far from Cilgerran in north Pembrokeshire; with performances taking place in Neuadd y Dderwen, which looks like a set for Game of Thrones. Neuadd y Dderwen must have cost a few bob.
Being a man who understands money it didn’t take Glen long to realise how easy it is to screw grants out of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. For it came to pass that he received £141,000 to turn an old cowshed into a small factory turning out units for eco-friendly homes.
But given that there is no worthwhile oversight or monitoring of ‘loans’ it’s unlikely this money will ever be repaid. As far as the ‘Welsh Government’ is concerned, once the money is gone, and the boxes are ticked, that’s the end of it.
Though there are a number of curious features about this deal.
Let’s start with the fact that in a number of places it’s claimed that these eco homes were built for half the price of traditional brick-built homes. For example, in this video, at 0:32, by Peters himself. Yet Ateb paid £900,000 for six properties, £150,000 per home.
To build a traditional 2/3-bedroom, semi-detached house in north Pembrokeshire would cost £90,000 – 120,000. Which means that if Glen Peters is right, and he could build his houses for half that, then he made a very tidy profit when Ateb paid him £150,000 per house.
Something else that troubles me is that housing associations like Ateb already receive millions of pounds every year from various funding streams, so why was it necessary to bung them another £900,000? Because I’m damn sure the Tŷ Solar properties were not bought to meet a pressing local demand out in the middle of nowhere.
Question 1: Can Ateb guarantee that the houses at Glanrhyd, paid for with Welsh public funding, were allocated to Welsh people?
Whatever the answers, a lot of moolah has already gone west and there’s more on the way. Next up is a 15-home ‘garden village’ for Boncath. Why Boncath? Well it might be because that’s where Victoria Beard lives. ‘Who’s she, Jac?’ you demand.
Well, she appeared on the website a few months back (before I wrote my earlier piece), as one of the locals connected with, or employed by, Menter Rhosygilwen. Though I’m told she was actually employed by Pembrokeshire county council before branching out on her own with Foresight She Ltd, yet another ‘consultancy’ that seems to have gone the way of all flesh.
Also mentioned in the piece I linked to regarding Boncath is “a 30-unit scheme of affordable homes already lined up for a site in Carmarthenshire on behalf of Carmarthenshire County Council”. To be specific, this development is in Burry Port, to the west of Llanelli.
For some reason Burry Port has been targeted for excessive development in recent years with hundreds of new houses built, almost all of which have been bought by English buyers, mainly retirees or those close to retirement. Yet more housing is planned – and Plaid Cymru welcomes it!
Councillor Alun Lenny is quoted as saying, “There’s 103 first-step homes here, affordable homes, all low cost homes”. Yet the WalesOnline report in which he’s quoted tells us: “There will be eight different house types on the new development, mainly two and three-bedroom homes, as well as some with four bedrooms, with the majority semi-detached.” And goes on to say: “21 of the 103 homes will be offered as affordable housing for sale or rent”.
Four-bedroom houses are not “first-step homes”.
Plaid Cymru really hasn’t got a clue. They don’t even understand what they’re giving planning permission for. No wonder Wales is in the mess it is. Though it would have been nice if the report had told us who plans to build these houses, and how much public funding is involved.
Question 2: For Plaid Cymru. Can you offer any promises that these “affordable homes” will be bought by local people and can you guarantee that the properties in the social housing “ghetto” (mentioned in the report) will be allocated to local people?
The development with which Glen Peters is involved in Burry Port, the “divided town which didn’t want any more new homes”, is for 32 homes to be built by Cartrefi Croeso Cyf., which we looked at in the previous post. Let’s remind ourselves what we read there.
The managing director of Cartrefi Croeso is Robin Staines, and the sole directors are Jacob Morgan and Sarah Wendy Walters, also employees of Carmarthenshire county council. Which effectively means that this company belongs to Mark Vincent James, the Cardiff Bay property magnate who doubles up as CEO of Cyngor Sir Gâr.
But why would a council with its own housing department need Cartrefi Croeso? I suppose an obvious answer might be that the county can no longer build new council housing. But then, there are any number of housing associations operating in the county – shouldn’t they be filling the gap? The obvious answer to that is, yes they should. And to all intents and purposes they are.
But Mark James doesn’t control those housing associations.
‘STICK ON A FEW SOLAR PANELS – BINGO!’
Even so, let’s not be too hard on Jamesie Boy, because he’s received great encouragement from (the aforementioned and self-styled) ‘Welsh Government’; that shower is providing the funding for what appear to be the retirement properties Cartrefi Croeso plans to build.
Specifically, the funding comes from the Innovative Housing Programme, launched in February 2017. In its first year the IHP was restricted to Registered Social Landlords and councils, but in its second year – beginning April 2018 – it was open to private companies, which explains the involvement of Cartrefi Croeso. For although it’s owned by the council it is a private company and registered as such with Companies House.
Though it seems to have given itself a wide remit, as shown in the panel below, taken from the Companies House entry. The first two categories, 41100 and 41202, obviously cover the Burry Port development, but the other two suggest it might be worth keeping an eye on Cartrefi Croeso.
Over three years the Innovative Housing Programme budget will shell out £90m.
We’ve come a long way from the £141,000 given to Glen Peters to convert the old cowshed. We’ve considered a lot of Welsh public funding, and you have to ask how much benefit Welsh people and Welsh communities will derive from this expenditure. As I mentioned earlier, the properties being built by Mark James Cartrefi Croeso in Burry Port are almost certainly retirement properties.
Given the excessive housebuilding the town has seen in recent years, and the buyers’ profile, I can’t help wondering if someone, somewhere, has designated Burry Port a retirement settlement. Perhaps the locals should be informed?
Question 3: For Lesley Griffiths. Why is your self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ giving public funding to private companies to build new homes – for which there may be no local demand – when you already fund countless housing associations and there is already a private sector building open market dwellings?
Almost inevitably, there are hidden costs to the Welsh public purse, for in this article from last week’s Tivyside Advertiser Glen Peters tells us that to build his houses, “Welsh tree trunks will arrive at one end and houses will emerge from the other” . . . which will mean paying ‘re-wilders’ and the like to plant more trees.
As I said earlier, it’s a great system . . . but not for us.
LABYRINTHINE, CORRUPT, COLONIALIST
Looking at the wider picture, housing in Wales is an absolute shambles. I could write a book about it, but it would be too depressing, it would drive me to drink. One example, again from the Wild West, might serve to explain what I mean.
Ateb has a subsidiary named Mill Bay Homes. I’ve written about Mill Bay Homes more than once, and had threats from solicitors for suggesting that everything was not above board. Just type ‘Mill Bay Homes’ into the Search box at the top of the sidebar.
Since then, Mill Bay Homes has gone entirely private, is no longer a Registered Social Landlord, and yet is still somehow part of the Ateb group. But despite being a free-flying bird MBH still owes the parent company £5.5m, secured with a floating charge over everything MBH has.
Much of this five-and-a-half million pounds – and the debt was larger at one time – is public funding given to Ateb, then transferred to Mill Bay Homes for it to build nice properties in Pembrokeshire for investors, retirees, and those seeking a holiday home.
How about that – holiday homes funded from the Welsh public purse!
Even if you’ve never heard of Walter Scott’s Marmion I bet you’ll be familiar with “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive”. Though I’m not for one minute suggesting that it’s apposite to the relationship between the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, the Ateb group and Mill Bay Homes.
To explain how convoluted and confusing it can all get when publicly-funded bodies spawn private companies let us hie to Cilgerran, just a short distance from Glen Peter’s sumptuous pad.
Question 4: I throw this one out for anyone. Seeing as private company, non-RSL, Mill Bay Homes should not be offering buyers ‘Shared Ownership’ why is it allowed to do so?
Maybe I’m wasting my time, for as I say, there is no effective monitoring or oversight of housing associations.
It’s a jungle that gets more impenetrable every year. But that’s how housing associations like it. That’s how the ‘Welsh Government’ likes it. And it’s certainly how those who control devolution in Wales like it. You and I are not supposed to understand . . . or question.
But sod it, because I’m going to end with some questions for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’:
Why do you allow the building of so many houses Wales doesn’t need, at prices most Welsh people can’t afford, and often in places where these properties are not needed?
Given the way housing associations operate tens of million of pounds every year is spent housing people with no Welsh connections, so how difficult would it be to insist on a five-year residency qualification for social housing, and then divert the money saved to the NHS and education?
Why do you not ban publicly-funded bodies from setting up private subsidiaries that often receive indirect public funding and yet over which you have even less influence than the parent?
If you’re serious about encouraging the private sector why threaten it with these private subsidiaries that also have the unfair advantage of insider knowledge?
Will you examine the relationship between Ateb and Mill Bay Homes and all similar publicly-funded bodies with private subsidiaries?
Can you offer a definition of ‘affordable housing’?
Thinking of Burry Port, do you ever consult local people over plans for their community – real locals?
Explain how it is in the interests of Wales to attract an elderly population from outside of Wales?
Will you revisit the £900,000 given to Ateb to purchase six properties from Western Solar Ltd that – if the builder is correct – cost less than half of that sum to build?
Why do we have so many housing associations competing with each other, duplicating each other’s role, and all in receipt of public funding? How much do you estimate could be saved from mergers, simply on chief executives’ salaries?
What do you intend doing to help those in the south east currently being outbid in the local property market by commuters from Bristol?
Why don’t you relieve local authorities of the hassle by imposing a national 200% council tax on all second homes? And close the loophole.
Can you guarantee that there are no properties sold as holiday homes that were built with public funding, or bought using one of the many schemes you offer to help people buy a home?
Even though you’ve had twenty years, why have you found it impossible to develop a housing sector attuned to and serving the needs of Welsh people?
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.
I remember, back in the 1960s, when I was a wild young thing, visiting Owain Williams (of Tryweryn fame) on his farm, Gwynus, and then heading down for a drink at the local hostelry, the Plas Pistyll Hotel. I remember it well because ‘G–‘ and I picked up a couple of girls from Birmingham and took them up the mountain to enjoy the view. (Who says we don’t welcome tourists?)
Ah! happy days.
The old pile, with its uninterrupted views of the sea, fell on hard times and was eventually abandoned to the elements. But even if it was no longer viable as a hotel, the location alone dictated that somebody would some day come along with a plan for the site.
And so it was. . . .
THE PLANNING APPLICATIONS
Let me start by explaining that I have drawn together all the planning references I can find relating to both Plas Pistyll and neighbouring Pistyll farm and caravan site, I’ve done this because as early as 2008 they had become one and the same project.
Here’s the link to the pdf version. Click on the planning reference number in the left-hand column to be taken to the Gwynedd planning site.
Below you’ll see a montage created for Natural Retreats by the Ark Company Landscape Architects of Middlesex, and although things have moved on the image gives the layout of the site.
The obvious place to start is with the three earliest applications, which tell us that both the farm and the Plas are owned by Sustainable Leisure, a company I couldn’t find on the Companies House website.
Even so, I know that the properties were owned by a Bill Gleave of Greater Manchester. I know because by August 2009 he had hit the rocks owing local businesses money. You’ll note that in the Daily Post report I’ve just linked to the Pistyll site is called ‘Nature’s Point’ (A name I’m sure I recall from the Mabinogion.)
This catastrophe was confirmed when the Bolton News reported that Gleave company BGH had gone tits up, with Sustainable Leisure following.
It all went quiet for almost three years until, in August 2011, there was an application from new player Natural Retreats to demolish Plas Pistyll and replace it with 20 self-catering holiday units. These to be complemented with “16 self catering holiday units in lieu of the existing static caravan site” at the farm.
To begin with, I had the same problem with Natural Retreats as I had with Sustainable Leisure – I couldn’t find it on the Companies House website. But I found a Natural Retreats website and eventually unearthed Natural Retreats UK Ltd, which changed its name to The UK Great Travel Company Ltd on 25 October 2017.
Permission was given in August 2012 to demolish Plas Pistyll with the condition that the same individual or family could not live in the new holiday units for more than three months in a year. Natural Retreats appealed against this decision and the appeal was allowed permitting unrestricted holiday use for the whole site.
I understand that the last time the planning committee met was to discuss C11/0661/43/LL, thereafter everything was delegated to planning officers. Some very important decisions were made that many feel should have been referred back to the committee, not least the decision to allow unrestricted holiday use.
Having got the big prize Natural Retreats – usually operating now as Natural Land & Sea – chipped away over the next few years at more of the planning conditions imposed by Gwynedd’s planning committee, to the point where few remained.
For Gwynedd’s planning department seemed to bend over backwards to oblige: “. . . deletion of Conditions 8, 9, 10 (Code for Sustainable Homes) . . . vary the materials proposed for the external wall of the units on the farm site . . . Discharge conditions 20 (slate), 22 (stone) and 24 (external finishes) . . . Discharge condition 2 (agree stone) on planning permission . . . “
Instead of stone and slate cottages in keeping with vernacular styles (including Pistyll farm), using local materials and labour, what are being thrown up now on the Plas Pistyll site are prefabricated units brought in from God knows where – Estonia being one suggestion – with no local benefits whatsoever.
And again, predictably, searching the Companies House website turned up nothing for Natural Land & Sea. Either there is no such company, or it’s registered outside the UK, or it’s the trading name of another entity (in which case we should know the name of that entity). But Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners don’t seem to know or care who they’re dealing with.
It should be standard practice for any elected or public body dealing with a commercial entity to insist on that entity identifying itself with a Companies House, Charity Commission, FSA, etc number or some other form of identification, or else explain why it cannot meet this requirement.
Relevant digression: I’ve been helping a neighbour who’s lived in the village all his life renew his blue parking badge, but he still had to provide his birth certificate and other proof of identity. If he’d rocked up claiming to represent Intergalactic Con Men Inc, and wanting to build 5,000 holiday apartments in tower blocks around Llyn Tegid I suppose Cyngor Gwynedd would have rolled out the red carpet, like they’ve done for Paul Williams, Natural Retreats, and God knows how many others.
I’ve told you that Natural Retreats UK Ltd renamed itself The UK Great Travel Company Ltd on 25 October 2017. On that very same day a company was born named NRML Technology Ltd. The sole director was soon joined by another gentleman from Bobby Lee’s home state of Virginia and in June the company name was changed to Natural Retreats UK Ltd.
Why would Natural Retreats UK Ltd be resurrected under American ownership? We shall consider this in just a minute.
Before that, let’s take a closer look at who’s behind this disaster at Pistyll, on the very site where a young Jac downed pints and chatted up young ladies. (Though I use the most generous application of that epithet.) As we’ve seen, there can easily be confusion about the name of the company involved. Hardly surprising when you read on.
There may be other companies for all I know but the people involved with almost all of those I’ve listed are: Matt Spence, Anthony Wild and Ewan Kearney.
The founder and driving force is Matt Spence, who was born on a Yorkshire sheep farm where – he tells us – it was a struggle to survive, so he and his brothers looked for alternative ways to make money. Spence hit on the idea of high quality accommodation in national parks and other areas of great natural beauty.
A noble ambition that he’s partly met in finding the right locations. But in reality Spence’s business is raising money in the form of investments – the minimum seems to have been £50,000 to join NR Investors LP (check out the document for 16.01.2008) – and whether all the money raised goes on lodges and chalets is a moot point, for he and his associates have their fingers in so many pies.
But whatever the company or partnership the bottom line remains making as much money as possible. And this often seems to mean cutting corners, for I’ve heard from a number of quarters that the ‘Natural’ empire is not always a good neighbour, or employer. Here are reports from the Cairngorms, and Yorkshire.
There are even suggestions that the empire may not be in the best of financial health. But with so many interlinked commercial and financial entities constantly changing addresses and names it’s not easy for anyone to keep track.
I earlier alluded to an intervention from the Commonwealth of Virginia, so maybe it’s time to expand on what I’m sure you found to be a tantalising reference.
Spence is something of an evangelist and so we should not be surprised to learn that he spread the ‘Natural’ gospel to the USA, where they have a hell of a lot more open spaces than us. This bore fruit in Natural Retreats USA. And yet . . .
Those who have raised Natural Retreats UK Ltd from the dead appear to have no connection with Natural Retreats USA. And yet, under its original name of NRML Technology Ltd the company was formed by a Christopher Holden who gave his correspondence address as, ‘Natural Retreats, 675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, 22911’.
Holden works with venture capitalists and investors, Court Square Ventures of Charlottesville, which has no obvious connection with Natural Retreats USA, it’s certainly not listed among CSV’s clients. He was later joined as a director by Douglas Burns. On the CSV website Holden is described as a ‘General Partner’, whereas Burns is ‘Principal & CFO’.
Unless they plucked the Natural Retreats UK Ltd name out of thin air, and found Manchester by sticking a pin in a map, there has to be a connection between Court Square Ventures and Matt Spence and his associates.
But it still doesn’t make sense.
Because if we read the CSV website, and the biographies of the partners, then we see that their backgrounds are in media, technology, communications and the like – not a sasquatch-terrorised log cabin to be seen!
And yet, Court Square Ventures is an investment company, so it’s reasonable to suggest that the boys from Charlottesville come bearing greenbacks, which inclines me towards three options:
They have come to get a slice of the action, at Pistyll and elsewhere, perhaps by investing in one or more of Spence’s many financial vehicles.
They have come to help Spence out of a financial hole.
They have come to take over.
And if you think about, it could be a bit of all three; or maybe options 1 and 2 culminating in option 3.
In the hope of clarifying the situation I e-mailed Natural Retreats USA on Friday with, “There are companies of the same name operating in the UK, in Wales, Scotland and England. I see that Christopher Holden is a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd. What exactly is the connection or relationship between the US and UK companies?”
The reply said, “Thank you for your inquiry into Natural Retreats. I would be happy to offer some more information as to how the different companies are related. You may also view our website for further clarification: https://www.naturalretreats.com/about
Natural Retreats was originally founded in the UK by Matthew Spence, and started with a few luxury lodges in the Yorkshire Dales. Over time, Natural Retreats grew to include destinations in the Eastern and Western United States as well. At this time, the US and UK now operate separately; they only share the name of Natural Retreats. The US main office is located in Charlottesville, VA and the Western Support Office is located in Park City, UT.
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you, again, for your inquiry; we hope you will stay with us at one of our luxury retreats in the near future!”
To which I responded with, “I am grateful for your speedy response. As I mentioned in my original query, I was a little confused seeing Christopher Holden of Charlottesville, Virginia listed as a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd (Co No 11031026). A company formed in October 2017. This would appear to be a UK presence for the US operation, or is there some other interpretation?”
At this point the line went dead!
So we are no nearer to knowing why venture capitalists from Virginia with no obvious expertise in tourism have set up in Manchester using a company name previously used by those building at Plas Pistyll. But it’s surely no coincidence that Rural Retreats USA’s eastern office is in Charlottesville. Which throws up other questions.
I’ll ask again, does Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners really know who they’re dealing with? Not just because of the find-me-if-you-can company names but also because Spence specialises in getting others to invest in his plans, and even though I’m sure he scrupulously screens each and every investor, the fact remains that the money to develop Plas Pistyll could be coming from anywhere.
Court Square Ventures is another company that invests money for third parties.
The properties at Pistyll are now being advertised on Rightmove and other sites. So let’s consider what we’re dealing with, and its implications.
For a start, I note that these properties are being sold leasehold. Yet England’s management team down in Cardiff docks – those clowns that hope to be mistaken for a ‘Welsh Government’ – has turned against leasehold, except, apparently, when it’s used by RSLs or, more secretively, by unregistered private subsidiaries of publicly-funded RSLs. And of course by the likes of the ‘Natural’ empire.
Then again, just imagine Matt Spence and his gang turning up and saying, ‘Oi, Taff, we want to build a new holiday village overlooking the sea. We ain’t gonna use local materials, suppliers or labour. Then we are gonna give it some idiotic English name and there’s fuck all you can do about it’.
There would have been an outcry, even Plaid Cymru might have been roused to mumble something.
But that is exactly what has been achieved incrementally!
This development at Pistyll is only a few miles from Plas Glynllifon where dwells our old friend Paul Williams of Weep for Wales fame. Yet Plas Pistyll and Plas Glynllifon represent for the ‘Welsh’ Government ‘high end’ tourism, which must be unquestioningly encouraged.
For it is all set out in TAN 13: Tourism (1997) . . . which observant readers will have noted was two years before the Assembly first sat. That’s really thinking ahead!
Yet from what I can see, ‘high end’ tourism only attracts the smarter shysters and the outright crooks. Though if we are to attract high end tourism then what is being done to phase out the barrel-scraping tourism represented by mile after mile of ugly coastal caravan parks that can only deter the high rollers?
Because we are expected to believe that in a tiny country like Wales we can have all kinds of tourism and unlimited numbers of tourists without causing catastrophic cultural and environmental damage.
This is because it’s what England wants, due to the fact that a) money spent in Wales will make its way back to England, and b) tourism and the population influx it encourages makes Wales less of a ‘worry’.
As for the aforementioned clowns down Geiger Bay, well they’ll always do what London tells them, and some of them are even stupid enough to believe that a healthy economy can be based on tourism. Not forgetting that many in the Labour Party would be happy to see the death of Welsh identity.