My intention was to start winding down this blog, spend more time with my wife, grand-children, books, Malbec . . . but things keep cropping up. That said, it’s very unlikely I shall undertake major new investigations. Diolch yn fawr.
Last week, I introduced you to the Bute empire, based in Edinburgh and London, which, under a variety of company names, is planning many new wind farms in Wales.
This week’s piece is partly a recap, partly putting a new slant on things, and partly some fresh thoughts on the unequal relationship between Wales and England.
MAPPING IT OUT
Here are the location-specific Bute Energy companies, sixteen in all, each with a link to the relevant Companies House entry. Is there a project near you?
The full list of recent company formations, and other background information, can be found here.
I’ve now drawn up a map showing what I hope is the correct location of each of Bute’s planned wind farms. I can’t be absolutely sure because in most cases all we have is a company name, and that name could fit a number of locations.
The names Rhiwlas and Moelfre, for example, can be found in many locations.
But by ruling out urban areas, National Parks, etc., etc . . .
To help them build these wind farms, Bute’s head honcho, Oliver James Millican, and his constantly growing band expect help from both Labour Party insider David James Taylor and Lesley Griffiths MS, the Minister for Rural Affairs in the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.
Taylor seems to be paying himself some £200,000 a year from Moblake Ltd but the skeletal accounts give no indication of where the money originates. Though, strictly speaking, and quoting the ‘accounts’, the money is, ‘an interest free loan and does not have a repayment date’.
But seeing as Taylor is the sole Moblake director, and holds the only share, for him to ‘repay’ Moblake would just be transferring money from one pocket to another.
Griffiths and Taylor are well known to each other. It would be unusual if they weren’t, seeing as they belong to the same political party and are both from the north east. Here’s Taylor out canvassing for Lesley Griffiths in the 2016 Welsh Assembly elections.
A WEE DIGRESSION, BUT INTERESTING
Something I didn’t explore in the previous post was the fact that Taylor, Griffiths, Sophie Howe (Commissioner for Greenwash), and others, were on the same side before and after the Carl Sargeant suicide in November 2017.
This picture below, from 2014/15, shows, left to right, Carl Sargeant, Sophie Howe, a former Spad to Sargeant (though when the photo was taken she was deputy to former MP Alun Michael, the South Wales PCC), Lesley Griffiths, and Leighton Andrews AM for Rhondda, who lost his seat in 2016 to Leannein Wood.
David Taylor worked as a Spad or trouser presser for Andrews, and his loyalty to the party was rewarded when, in 2016, he was the Labour candidate for the North Wales PCC post. He lost out to Arfon Jones, the Plaid Cymru candidate.
The thing about this picture is, it’s not a ‘work’ photo, they’re out together relaxing. They know each other, they obviously enjoy each other’s company.
After Sargeant’s suicide they all rallied to his defence, or at least, they didn’t do any favours to then First Minister Carwyn Jones, lobbyists Deryn, and others coming under fire. Lesley Griffiths is quoted more than once in this report.
In this piece, we read that Sophie Howe: ‘ . . . told Coroner John Gittins: “I find that incredible that he (Sargeant) can be sacked without being told what the allegations were.”’
It’s all coincidence, no doubt, but from this small group around Carl Sargeant we have three – Howe, Griffiths, Taylor – currently contributing to Wales being ripped off by every shyster who can spin a line about saving the planet.
‘JUST A FEW QUESTIONS, SIR’ (Oh, the times I’ve heard that!)
I wrote to Bute Energy last Tuesday morning, ahead of office hours, giving them the chance to clarify a few points for this follow-up.
My questions were:
When and where did you first meet David James Taylor?
Were you introduced to Taylor? If so, by whom?
What is your relationship with Taylor’s Moblake companies?
Why did you make Taylor a Member of Grayling Capital LLP?
Why did you give Taylor (and Moblake) shares in Windward Enterprises
Have you met Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Government Minister for Rural Affairs? If so, where and when?
Did you have advance warning of Ms Griffiths’ overturning a Planning Inspector’s decision on Hendy Wind Farm in October 2018?
Why did you recruit former Labour MEP Derek Vaughan to chair your Welsh Advisory Board?
Why does your Welsh Advisory also have as a member John Uden, a former London police officer now specialising in property security, who, apparently, has no Welsh connections?
Why do you have so many wind farms planned for Wales?
You don’t know Wales, so how did you find these sites? Did someone recommend them?
Do the principals in Bute and the other companies have any experience in engineering, construction, renewables, or related fields?
Do you really intend building wind farms or will you simply obtain planning permission and then sell the sites?
Talking of the sites, have you been promised that, if necessary, powers of compulsory purchase will be exercised on your behalf?
Do you have contact details for David James Taylor?
Do you have anything you’d like to say?
I’m still waiting for answers.
Having mentioned the ‘skeletal accounts’ of David Taylor’s Moblake Ltd I naturally got to wondering about the accountant.
In fairness, it looks as though David Taylor was simply using Gloucester Place as an accommodation address. The ‘accounts’ submitted were all his own work.
Though the most recent accounts are a tale of West End to East End. For Moblake’s latest accounts were signed off by Naail & Co Ltd, a husband and wife outfit on Lambeth Walk in property leased with money borrowed from banks.
But the accounts remain unaudited. The accountant just signed off what Taylor put in front of him.
Couldn’t David Taylor have found a nice, respectable accountant in Wales who would have presented fully audited and verified accounts?
Makes you wonder.
‘HERE YOU ARE, TAFF – DON’T SAY WE DON’T GIVE YOU NOTHING’
Maybe I’d better explain what I mean by the heading to this article about England’s wind turbines in Wales. Now pay attention, because this is a bit complicated, and prefaced with, ‘As I understand it . . . ‘.
In 2015 legislation was passed, covering England and Wales, that gave local planning authorities – i.e. councils – powers to decide on wind farms of 10MW and above. (They already had the power over smaller installations.)
This had been mooted for some years and finally came into effect, on June 18, 2015. With political spin about upholding election promises by letting ‘local people have the final say on wind farm applications’.
Hinting that this was a decision dictated by electoral considerations. For wind farms are erected in rural areas, and the rural areas of England are overwhelmingly Conservative in their political sentiments.
The Conservative and Unionist Party would lose MPs and councils if a Tory government in London over-ruled local councils to impose wind farms on areas where locals didn’t want them.
The map below might help illustrate my point.
You can do your own by going to this site, and by playing with the various layers on the interactive map you can end up with whatever your heart desires.
To reproduce my map, from the menu on the left: In ‘Energy Type’, keep Wind Onshore. In ‘Energy Capacity’, 10MW and Above. In ‘Status’, Application Submitted, Awaiting Construction, Operational, and Under Construction.
If we could add a layer giving political features it would show that Tory-voting England is almost entirely free of wind farms.
Obviously, this legislation means there will be hardly any wind farms in England. And that will result in the UK struggling to meet its climate change obligations. It will also be bad news for the Tories’ business friends who milk the subsidies paid for renewable energy.
Which is why I am convinced pressure was applied from London on the ‘Welsh Government’ for Wales to accept more and more wind farms.
This explains why the legislation was reversed in Wales to make wind farms of 10MW Developments of National Significance, meaning local authorities must either grant planning permission or expect to be over-ruled if they refuse planning permission. For the ultimate power rests with Welsh ministers. (Here’s the link.)
This explains how, in 2018, Lesley Griffiths was able to over-rule both Powys County Council and the Planning Inspector on Hendy wind farm.
Ordinarily, Wales and England moving in separate directions would be something I’d applaud, but not this time.
Perhaps someone in the ‘Welsh Government’ can explain why 10MW wind farms are Developments of National Significance in Wales, but not in England.
Especially as we share the same National Grid and the electricity generated by ‘Welsh’ wind farms will most likely go to England.
As I’ve said, I’m convinced pressure was applied from London, perhaps via the civil servants operating in Wales who answer to London. The ‘Welsh Government’ couldn’t admit that, so it was glossed over with the Well-being of Future Generations Act, which came into force in April 2016.
Followed by pious declarations to make Wales ‘carbon neutral’ and then, like a maiden aunt having an attack of the vapours, declaring a ‘Climate Emergency‘.
As if anybody outside of Corruption Bay gives a toss!
These bouts of orchestrated hysteria turned planting wind farms all over Wales into an environmental crusade. The panel below, from this ‘Welsh Government’ site, explains why someone thinks we needed this legislation.
Note that climate change, over which Wales can have no effect, is more important for the ‘Welsh Government’ than spheres where it could make a difference.
Despite the apparent divergence of approach over Developments of National Significance in 2015/16 we are, effectively, still in the Englandandwales model.
Making wind farms another example of devolution being used to serve England’s interests rather than ours. Consider this . . .
Just imagine if a Tory government in Westminster had said, ‘We don’t want wind farms in England – so we’re going to dump them all in Wales’. There would have been a national outcry.
Yet that is what has happened!
It’s the old story of Wales being exploited for the benefit of England. And just as with our water, we are not compensated for what we export.
Wanting Wales to be ‘carbon neutral’ and declaring a ‘Climate Emergency!’ is just vain posturing to disguise Wales’ subordinate status. Play-acting that won’t improve the lives of Welsh people, or make any difference to climate change.
And things might be about to get a whole lot worse.
How many more are planned that we haven’t yet heard about?
There is nothing to be said in favour of wind turbines. In their brief and intermittent lives they do not repay the environment for the damage caused in making, transporting, and erecting them. They are all built and owned by foreign companies. They provide no jobs. They despoil our landscapes. They kill birds. They cause flooding.
But never mind, we’re serving England’s interests. Again.
Bush needs accommodation because he may live in Kent, or he may live somewhere more exotic, where vitamin D deficiency is unlikely to trouble the locals. I suggest this possibility because Bush has been associated with a number of companies registered in locations where a very laid back approach is found to keeping records and obeying the law.
We are now asked to believe that this listed building Bush sold to Hill is to be given new life with ’30 residential units’. You can view the rudimentary plans here. The more I learn about this project the less sure I am that much, if anything, of the old building will be re-used.
I say that for a number of reasons.
First, the building has been treated with contempt by Bush and those he has allowed to use it. In the previous posting I mentioned a character named John Day. The pictures below follow his time at Gwynfryn; when Bush allowed Day to use this piece of Welsh history as a scrapyard.
Just click on an image to enlarge it.
You may recall that in an earlier post I referred to plastic chairs from Butlins. One of the images above corrects my mistake.
Then there was the second fire, in 2013. Philip Bush has been so unlucky with fires.
Over and above these mishaps the general condition of the old pile suggests it may be past saving. For it’s not just general and gradual decay. Sometimes things take a dramatic turn with a fall of masonry.
Again, click on an image to enlarge it.
So for a number of reasons I suspect that whoever’s behind this project – and the jury’s still out on this – will incorporate very little if anything of the old building into the new. No matter what is claimed in the planning application.
‘SEND A MESSAGE TO LONDON’
The name Tyisha might be familiar because it’s the area near Llanelli railway station that’s plagued by petty criminals and drug addicts. Tyisha is now the most deprived ward in the whole county of Carmarthenshire. Here’s a report from WalesOnline.
You’ll read one local complain, “I think the area’s used as a place to put undesirables . . . a lot of landlords in the area don’t know what their residents get up to and don’t care – they just care about the money in their pockets . . . so many of the drug abusers they’re not even from the area – loads of them are coming here from England, why are they all being dumped here?”
(Many of the ‘landlords’ will be housing associations.)
People are being dumped in Tyisha because a number of third sector bodies and other agencies have found a location with the necessary criteria: working class urban area (locals can be ignored), near railway station (‘clients’ can be put on a train from anywhere), cheap property (ideal for HMOs).
Of course, once the rot sets in there begins a spiral of decline that only benefits those causing the problem. What I mean is that property prices fall even further because nobody wants to live in Tyisha. Those locals who have not moved out are now stuck in houses worth less than they were worth five years ago.
Although Plaid Cymru is supposed to run the county council, and has even held the Llanelli seat in Corruption Bay, the town councillors are overwhelmingly Labour. And some of them are of the worst sort.
Though Gary Jones in Llangennech is definitely one of the better ones (he’s even sent me photos of Dennis Coslett’s grave). But I’m afraid he’s let himself down by his involvement with Tyisha.
It pains me to say this, but what I see here is a Labour councillor apparently celebrating the misery brought to an area of his town by his party’s cronies in the third sector and housing associations. It supports the widely-held view that Labour keeps Wales poor in order to blame the Tories and keep getting elected.
What the hell were you thinking, Gary? What is that pose?
Last year it was announced that Tyisha may be in line for cosmetic redevelopment to the tune of over £9m. Which means that Tyisha can look forward to those big flower pots on the streets for the drug addicts and the drunks to use as very public lavatories.
Here’s a suggestion for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. Don’t give public funding to your cronies for them to import problems and then we won’t have to spend yet more Welsh public money to remedy those problems. Capiche?
What a way to run a country!
If we had a functioning media then the properties causing the worst problems would be identified, the relevant information obtained from the council and the Land Registry. And then the owners of those properties, and/or those renting or leasing the properties, would be named and shamed.
And then, rather than capitalising on peoples’ misery, the town’s Labour councillors might pull their fingers out and demand an end to it.
Over the years I’ve written a lot about One Planet Developments. I wish there’d be no need to write anything because I wish the insane TAN 6 legislation had never been passed.
But it was passed and, predictably, it is now being abused. For people soon realised that the OPD route offered a way around the ban on new dwellings in open country. That’s because planning permission is guaranteed if you can satisfy planners the dwelling you want qualifies as an OPD.
We’re at the stage now where a ‘Hobbit house’ that cost a few thousand to knock together with straw bales and bits of spare wood is being offered for sale at £475,000. There is some uncertainty in planning circles as to whether such a structure can be demolished and replaced with a conventional bricks and mortar mansion.
That the seller feels they can ask this price suggests they believe such a transformation can now be wrought.
While on the outskirts of Swansea developers have seen a way to build properties in the green belt – with a few acres of land – by calling them ‘farmlets’. Each of them less than two acres.
Now I learn of yet another innovative approach to OPDs from Swansea, this time a plan to house military veterans. And not just one settlement but “a network of ecovillages”.
I have to confess that when I saw the city of my dreams linked with veterans my heart sank. I immediately thought of this crew, the Democrats and Veterans Party, shown here at one of their shindigs.
The two principals are Christopher John Carree, who lives in Ravenhill, and Ross Edwards of Morriston, who is clearly local. With maybe Carree in the driving seat.
And yet, despite the Swansea connections, the Garrison Farm Facebook page suggests the operation is based in Chester. Though the map is fixed on Brittany!
If we are to have OPDs then I’m sure some would prefer Welsh veterans living on them rather than charlatans from over the border doing well-paid day jobs in England and using the OPD as a weekend retreat.
As I’ve hinted, the worry is that too often the term ‘veterans’ links with far right politics. And heading out into the boondocks of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire has echoes of US militias getting away from the federal government.
Maybe Messrs Carree and Edwards can clear things up.
While I was looking into this report I ran across a site that brings together those looking for land in Wales suitable for OPDs. You might want to follow it. If nothing else, reading it will remind you of the threat posed by One Planet Developments.
‘I DON’T WANT TO GROUSE, BUT . . . ‘
Actually, they’re pheasants, but you get my drift. And they’re to be shot on land around Cwmrhaidr, to the south of Machynlleth.
I suppose I first became aware of the issue when I saw a tweet from beaver lover Iolo Williams. Yet another rich person from England has bought a chunk of Wales and proceeded to do whatever he likes.
Iolo Williams calls for Natural Resources Wales to intervene. Touching. He’d have had more chance of a response if he’d called on the Vladivostok fire department.
This new site for game shooting is marketed as, ‘Dyfi Falls’ by Guns on Pegs. It’s said to be “near the village of Machnylleth (sic), in mid Wales”.
A resistance group was set up on September 30th called Arbed Cwmrhaidr a’r Llyfnant (Save Cwmrhaidr and the Llyfnant). The group explains that its concerns are not limited to the unnecessary killing of birds for sport:
“The release of 40,000 gamebirds, most of which seem to be escaping into neighbouring farms and woodlands (including SSSIs), are already causing massive ecological damage. They eat endangered plants and animals, compete with native wildlife for food, and their excrement creates ammonia pollution capable of destroying the rare species that are special to this place.
The bulldozing of trees and new roads is devastating this landscape, a famous beauty spot since Victorian times.
Who benefits? Not local people. The company (Cambrian Birds) is registered in Shropshire. The owner is in Essex. The gamekeepers have been brought in. The clients pay over £2500 per day, but it will be invisible to the local economy.”
I’m not sure I approve of, “famous beauty spot since Victorian times”. Wasn’t the area beautiful before it was ‘discovered’ by visitors from over the border? We’re in Columbus territory here.
As you’ve read, the land was bought by a man from Essex and has been leased to Cambrian Birds. If the protesters know the identity of the buyer they seem reluctant to make it public. Thankfully, the quibble-free proprietor of this blog has no such qualms.
Here’s the title document. It tells us that the land was bought by Thomas William Speakman for £4.75m, without apparently needing a loan or a mortgage. I’m afraid the Land Registry did not offer a plan of the land via website enquiry.
How did we get to this situation?
Certain agencies, including the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, have been so successful in ‘selling’ Wales that many people now see Wales as the new frontier (or maybe the final frontier); a territory just waiting to be ‘opened up’, peopled only by primitive natives who can be brushed aside.
They will continue to believe this until we, the Welsh people, make them realise they’ve got it wrong. And it has to be us because no one else will do it.
To end on a lighter note. Something that occurred to me as I was writing this piece is that these birds are now running wild on land coveted by the rewilders of Summit to Sea.
What do Monbiot and his chorus of memsahibs have to say about this?
AN UNUSUAL SCAM
A good source has been in touch to tell me of a couple in their sixties, husband and wife, man and woman, male and female, who stayed – briefly – in a cottage he owns. They stayed one night, left early the next day and then tried a bit of blackmail.
Which is why they’re appearing here.
They arrived the Friday before last having booked through holidaycottages.co.uk. Within an hour the woman was on the phone complaining that the television didn’t work, the place was filthy, and she had been vacuum cleaning almost since she’d arrived.
When the guests went out for dinner the cleaner checked the place out – everything was fine, and the hoover hadn’t been used.
Early the next morning my source found a scruffy note pushed through his letter-box with a litany of complaints – but the pair had fled! He soon received an e-mail, which read:
“Following our abortive holiday to the above cottage which we left on 3 October 2020 due to dirty condition, missing/not working equipment, we have contacted holidaycottages.co.uk with photographs of the filthy conditions and await their response.
We have given that company 7 days in which to respond to our refund request and advised them that if they do not respond within that timeframe, we will issue county court proceedings (small claims jurisdiction) against them bringing you in as third party defendants.
While we would like to resolve this matter amicably, we shall have no hesitation in publishing our photographs online and commencing said proceedings in the event you or the holiday cottage agent do not strive to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to this matter.
It would appear, thus far, our communications with the company are going unanswered and, hence, court proceedings look inevitable unless you wish to settle this matter yourselves”.
Then the photographs materialised. I’m using just two to make the point. The one on the left is claimed to be from inside the cottage. The one on the right is actually from inside the cottage. Two completely different window frames.
And yet . . . in both images we see the same yard. Someone has gone to the trouble of Photoshopping the image on the left by imposing the phoney window frame onto a genuine picture of the yard below!
There was an exchange of e-mails which resulted in the complainant giving her bank details and demanding an instant refund for the two weeks she and her silent husband had paid for.
As far as my source and the local police can figure it . . . the woman would have quickly cancelled or claimed back the payment made on her credit card, then demanded a refund from holidaycottages.co.uk, plus a refund – or more – from my source using the threat of putting the doctored photographs online.
This was too well practised to be a one-off. So if Mrs Sandra T—–t of W—— M—–, Suffolk, tries to book a holiday in your property tell her you’re hosting the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference and both bedrooms are taken.
My source made light of it eventually, and had a little laugh in his final e-mail to her. Here’s an extract:
“But then was it worth it, such a tawdry little scam – surely you are now old enough to see how pathetic you are. You made so many mistakes . . . the fingerprints and some lovely CCTV shots of you enjoying P———. A word of advice, the trouser suit is not a good look in a woman of your age – especially from behind”.
The fellow’s a cad!
THE BLM DIVIDEND
Ever since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis the world has gone a little bit crazy. But there’s never been a better time for those who can sniff out Welsh public funding from a long way away. From England, in fact.
You must have noticed that any third sector organisation hoping for Welsh money either gives itself a full-on Welsh name or, at the very least, adds ‘Cymru’ to the name of the local branch of an English organisation.
As for diversity, it will ‘represent’ a tiny percentage of the population. In my experience BAME organisations are usually made up of sub-Saharan Africans and those with origins in India or Pakistan. Others, such as the industrious Chinese, seem to be totally absent. And of course, there are white people – usually women – with Labour Party connections, in order to ease the flow of the lucre.
The help such organisations provide to members of the public is debatable, but they serve their primary function, which is to create well-paid sinecures and regular jollies for a class of people, often ‘woke’ to the point of hysteria, who might be unemployable in the real world.
Diverse Cymru made the news recently with this call for more help for BAME people suffering mental health issues under Covid lockdown restrictions. According to Samira Salter of Diverse Cymru, BAME people have been “forgotten about” during the pandemic.
Which is nonsense. George Floyd was killed on May 2, and BAME people have never experienced such solicitous attention as in the period since his death.
The people who have suffered worst under Covid are poor people. And certainly many BAME people fall into that category. But the great majority of poor people in Wales are white. It’s about poverty, not colour.
And if we’re dealing with the mental health issues around Coronavirus and lockdown, then I guarantee that these problems are worse in rural areas, not the cities and towns where BAME populations are largely found.
So who runs Diversity Cymru? A source has given me some information and after reading it I knew what kind of body we are dealing with.
“Lead director is Ms Eunica Aure who’s an economist from the Philippines and was a government Spad there. After a stint in the Asian banking sector she moved to London to work on land evaluation of estates in Afghanistan and now works for WYG the consultants that management consult on overseas aid.
Mr Benjamin Coates. His full time job is Assistant Director & Head of Performance and Effectiveness at Equality and Human Rights Commission, based in London.
Ms Helen Susannah Dodoo. Her daytime job is Assistant General Manager at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which on her Linkedin profile she has located in New South Wales, Australia. She actually lives in Pontcanna, Cardiff.”
What the hell do these people know about Wales? Who appointed them trustees?
I didn’t believe the bit about New South Wales, so I checked. It’s true.
These people, remember, are the trustees of a ‘Welsh’ third sector body that has received millions and millions of pounds of Welsh public funding.
The website tells us, “Diverse Cymru was created in 2010 through a merger between Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People and Awetu” (Swahili for unity).
Diverse Cymru is either a pantomime horse of an organisation or a clever merger suggesting disabled people and BAME populations have a shared experience of discrimination.
Whatever the answer, how many other BAME bodies are operating in Wales? And how many charities and local government services for the disabled? And how many bodies tackling mental health issues?
With Diverse Cymru we find yet more of the duplication, competition and waste of money that we find wherever we look in the third sector.
(And there was me thinking that Finance Wales exists to build up the Welsh economy, to create jobs.)
Down in the south west, local authorities are coughing up lots of money for Diverse Cymru to deliver services to the disabled which elsewhere, and on the national stage, Diverse Cymru seems to have abandoned.
As the latest accounts tell us, the principle source of funding now is now Direct Payments from the three local authorities of the south west. This explains the office in Carmarthen.
For some reason the funding from Pembrokeshire reduced by more than 50% from 2018 to 2019, while the other two authorities increased their payments. What is the explanation for these variations?
Of course, getting paid for delivering services looks a lot better than just getting hand-outs from the ‘Welsh Government’, and this is reflected in the table below.
But I return to what I said earlier about Diverse Cymru being an absurd hybrid trying to deliver two unrelated services. Not only that, but we have also found a geographic split between the Cardiff-based, BAME arm, and the council-funded services for independent living for the disabled organised from Carmarthen.
And so I can’t help wondering if any of that money raised in the south west is funding what are clearly the true priorities of Diverse Cymru.
LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL
It’s time to catch up with another rascal in the manly form of Tristan Scott Haynes who, last year, bought the old Shire Hall in Llangefni, capital of Ynys Môn.
In that final appearance I reported that the Shire Hall was up for sale. That, I thought, was the end of it, unless another ‘interesting’ character took the stage.
But now I learn that the old monstrosity has been withdrawn from sale.
Not only that, but Haynes is touting for investors. Or rather, he has issued a prospectus that says it’s directed at contractors to fulfil his dream in Llangefni, but as you read the document you soon realise he’s looking for money.
The prospectus is issued by his company Chief Properties Ltd, though it doesn’t say whether it came from the Paris office or the Los Angeles office. In truth, it’s probably from the garage he rents in Bedford.
There is no website for Chief Properties, but I did find a very basic YouTube channel. I suppose it has to be basic because the company has no money and is lumbered with two loans from Together Commercial Finance Ltd, another of the ‘specialist lenders’ that we so often find in Manchester.
Read the prospectus for yourself. (I am indebted to a recipient for sending it to me. He assures me he’s ripped open the sofa and is now going through all his trouser pockets in order to cash in on this unmissable offer.)
As such documents go, it’s badly written. I suppose this would serve as an example, “29th May 2020 Executives of the Anglesey County Council suggests and supports the development of SHIRE HALL to residential use.”
In addition, it’s amateurishly compiled with a number of spelling mistakes. One glaring mistake, due to the large print, is the “Ariel view” provided of the building.
And here’s an example of the gibberish I’m referring to. What the hell is it trying to say? How does the council feel about being associated with this? It reads like a very poor translation.
But it’s not all bad, for the prospectus reminds us of Eryri’s claim to fame: “Snowdonia National Park – otherwise known as the adventure capital of the UK”.
The bastion of Welsh resistance to English aggression now reduced to England’s playground. Makes you proud to be Welsh.
At the very end of the latest Heritage Great Britain Annual Report & Accounts we read that everything is owned by a Jersey company:
So the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd is owned by Heritage Great Britain PLC which in turn is owned by Cherberry Ltd of Jersey.
And as I found out when writing the earlier piece, Cherberry Ltd of Jersey is in turn owned by Dukla Ltd of Gibraltar, set up August 2015. And Dukla is probably owned by a company based in an even more sun-blest location.
So it’s Snowdonia to Liverpool, Liverpool to Jersey, Jersey to Gibraltar, Gibraltar to God knows where.
Which means that the patriotically named Heritage Great Britain PLC is ultimately owned by an entity based offshore. But why would a company running tourist attractions need such a twisted web of ownership?
His interests are now looked after by his son, Allan James Stuart Leech, who sits as a director on the boards of these companies.
The reason I’m returning to the Snowdon Mountain Railway is because of its new hybrid locos, built by Clayton Equipment of Staffordshire. Word has it that these new locos are not performing as hoped.
As you can read in this piece from the Rail Technology Magazine website, “SMR plan to operate at Llanberis entirely on battery power, operate the generator charging on the uphill journey, turn off the generator on the downhill journey and use the regenerative braking to recharge the battery packs”.
The problem I’m hearing about seems to be two-fold. First, the batteries don’t charge as the loco descends, with the brakes on; and second, the brakes themselves don’t work too well as brakes. And with each battery weighing ten tonne, this is a serious matter.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions these problems have been hidden, but they won’t go away. And with the SMR planning a full switch to electric and hybrid technology they need to be fixed, pronto.
Due to this problematic investment in hybrid locos, and the loss of income from Covid-19, there must be a possibility that the Snowdon Mountain Railway will soon be seeking financial support from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.
The ‘Welsh Government’ should not give a penny to a company that is ultimately owned by persons or companies based in tax havens.
BALA LAKE RAILWAY
One toy train that is definitely seeking ‘Welsh Government’ money is the Bala Lake Railway.
The BLR line currently runs from Llanuwchllyn up the eastern – Llangower – side of Llyn Tegid to Pen-y-Bont station, near to where Afon Dyfyrdwy (Dee) leaves on its journey to the border and the sea.
Last Friday we learnt that the Bala Lake Railway is asking the ‘Welsh Government’ for £2.5m to extend the line to a new station in the town of Bala. And the ‘Welsh Government’ seems keen on giving the money. (Kenny – ‘Flint Ring’ – Skates is already brushing his teeth for the photo op as you read this.)
Then, in a couple of places, I read, as the aim: “To advance enjoyment, education and learning and to promote regional public benefit through the restoration, maintenance and exhibition by operation steam locomotives, rolling stock and other railway artefacts directly associated with the slate industry of north Wales and in particular those regions of Dinorwic and Penrhyn.”
But the Bala Lake Railway runs along a stretch of the old line from Barmouth to Ruabon. It has no connection with the slate industry, and certainly not with Dinorwic or Penrhyn. (Did I say ‘Penrhyn’! That BLM woman will be after me!)
So who runs this show . . . from Shepton Mallet? The six trustees are: Squadron Leader Toby Kenneth Watkins, Steve Valentine, Julian Peter Charles Birley, Roger Hine, Christina Lillian Kennedy, Steve Davies.
Hine was quoted: “I didn’t expect to be cut off in peak season. My next door neighbour runs a guest house and said it was typical in Wales because they are not tourism-orientated.” Useless bloody Welsh! Thank God the English come here to run the tourism industry for us. Did I just say, ‘for us’!
Steve Valentine “owns and runs an award-winning confectionery company in Bala which is also the town’s largest single employer”. This is presumably Gwynedd Confectioners, though the company registered with Companies House is Sweet Valentine Limited, with a Porthmadog address.
I would have expected to see ‘trading as’ somewhere in the Sweet Valentine documents filed with Companies House, but I couldn’t find anything.
Two military officers, someone awarded the British Empire Medal, and the rest suggest a very English establishment outfit. The only thing the Bala Lake Railway seems to want from us is our country and our money.
The question is, boys and girls: Should £2.5m of Welsh public money be used to fund a hobby train, one encouraging the ‘Playground Wales’ tourism that is turning us into strangers in our own country, or should those involved be told to steam off into the sunset?
Answers on the usual post card, please. (And if you’ve run out just send me a message on a post card and I’ll send you some more.)
Another of the ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’ is the Welsh Highland Railway, which runs the 25 miles from Caernarfon to Porthmadog via Beddgelert. At ‘Port’ it links with the Ffestiniog Railway that goes on to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
These lines are for tourists, few locals can afford to use them. I say that because it costs £80 for two to make the 15-mile trip from Caernarfon to Beddgelert in a ‘seating bay’, which I assume to be two, facing bench seats.
Which reminded me of something written by Julian Birley B.E.M. on the BLR Trust website; talking of narrow gauge railways, he said: “Largely based in rural regions, these railways are becoming a lifeline for people in areas of high unemployment and in need of regeneration.”
How true is that?
But I digress.
The reason I’m introducing the Welsh Highland Railway is because one of its directors is David Edward Firth, who happens to live in Beddgelert, so I’m sure he uses the train regularly . . . without having to pay.
Another company of which Firth is a director is Glaslyn Leisure Ltd. I’m sure the name won’t mean anything to you and I only came across it in a story about five holiday homes being sold in Beddgelert. Being sold together as an ‘investment’.
They seem to be in a cul-de-sac off the main A498.
I suppose £1.2m for five holiday homes in a place like Beddgelert is about right, but when I checked the company accounts an anomaly was revealed. For according to the accounts, or rather, the unaudited financial statement, the company’s tangible assets / net book value amount to only £275,524.
Almost a million pounds less than is being asked for the Beddgelert properties. How is this explained? In two words – debts and depreciation.
The creditors are almost certainly the four directors of Glaslyn Leisure and the debt is presumably what it cost them to buy the land and build the six properties.
Perhaps the real anomaly is depreciation. For in the real world, and especially with holiday homes in Wales, values increase every year; but in declarations to Companies House owners are allowed to apply depreciation of 2% a year on freehold property and 20% on fixtures and fittings.
Which means, over a period of time, property that is increasing in value can, on paper, be made to lose value. Clever, no?
To help me make sense of things I drew a table. Starting in 2010 we see that the fixed assets / book value stood at £526,612 which, a decade ago, with property markets still suffering from the financial crisis of 2008, might have represented some two thirds of what the properties would have fetched if they’d been sold.
This sale – the ‘disposal’ mentioned in the financial statement – also explains the reduction in the amount owed to creditors from £519,280 in 2017 to £266,433 in 2018.
I was able to get details of Plas Tegfryn from the Land Registry, but the properties for sale – Sygun, Aran, Y Garn, Hebog, Craig-y-Llan – seem not be registered by name or number. (I got the names from AirBnB.)
And of course we aren’t told how much these properties have earned in the two decades since they were built. So it could be £1.2m clear profit from the sale. Perhaps more. And it will all go to England.
I’ve included this story because it tells us so much about what’s wrong with Wales.
On the one hand we have narrow gauge railways, run by strangers, for the enjoyment of strangers; with hardly any local involvement, but always looking for Welsh public funding by suggesting they provide some public service!
And then we have the kind of tourism-linked property speculation we see in Beddgelert. But not limited to this or any other area.
For as a correspondent from Llandysul wrote a few days ago: “Stories from all directions about ‘selling a shithole house in England and buying three here. One to live in and two to rent out’. I think we’ve had it now.”
This is a decent, caring Welsh person resigned to the death of his nation.
Talking of property speculation reminds me of Jake Berry, the Conservative and Unionist MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire. Berry owns an unknown number of properties on Ynys Môn.
One of those properties is Rhyd-y-Bont, at Rhoscolyn, an area of the island being rapidly cleansed of the Welsh and other undesirables. Berry, or his wife, Alice Molly Radclyffe Berry, bought it last year for £780,000.
The name of this rural retreat translated into English takes us to Ford Bridge Farm Ltd, a company formed in May, that uses the address of an accountant in Bacup, in Berry’s constituency. The directors are Berry and his wife, with said accountant, Paul Fitton, serving as secretary.
There have been some developments worth reporting. I just hope I can explain them.
On the Companies House website, at the top of an entry, all company names are given in upper case, so I was amazed to see, Ford Bridge, FARM LTD. Also, this curiosity has a date of birth! Though December 1983 is also when Jake Berry’s wife was born.
Had she changed her name?
At the second attempt I found another entry for Ford Bridge Farm Limited, with Palatine Hill Limited listed as an appointment. This is in addition to the original entry given above.
Palatine Hill could be a ‘Russian doll’ arrangement for Jake and his missus’ property dealings, set up to deter enquiries – cos there’s some nosy buggers out there! I suppose the next step would be offshore, but that might look bad, even for a Tory MP.
I suggest that because checking the ‘Filing history’ I saw this entry for 31 July, 2020 “Withdrawal of the directors’ residential address register information from the public register”. And if you want a ‘company snapshot’ then you’ll need to cough up £15.
As you all know, the Palatine Hill was one of the seven hills of Ancient Rome. It’s where the toffs were said to live. Which is entirely fitting for upwardly mobile Jake and Alice Berry.
But under no circumstances should it be confused with the Capitoline Hill or any of the other five. And it’s nowhere near Blueberry Hill, of which the late Antoine ‘Fats’ Domino so often sang.
See, you don’t just get informed on this blog, you get bloody well educated as well.
ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS
Towards the end of August I wrote Black Mountains College, in which we looked at this project in Talgarth, Powys that seeks to become a kind of university for eco-warriors.
One of the sidetracks down which comments took us led to the OPD settlement at Rhiw Las, near Whitland in Carmarthenshire. I’d been keeping an eye on this through regular updates from Companies House on Rhiw Las Ltd, a company formed in September 2013.
But of course, filings to Companies House can’t always tell us what’s happening on the ground. And that’s why I’m indebted to those who commented to the blog or contacted me in other ways.
The 21.5 acre Rhiw Las site is made up of four couples living on separate OPDs, each of roughly 5 acres. Planning permission was granted by the Planning Inspectorate in June 2016 after being rejected by Carmarthenshire planning committee.
The stated thinking behind OPDs is to encourage people to live self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyles, in order to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint. The fact that all those choosing to live on OPDs have moved to Wales, thereby increasing Wales’ carbon footprint, is an inconvenient truth and therefore ignored.
As it is set out in the ‘Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note 6 the strategy is about “delivering sustainable rural communities”. And what a welcome innovation this will be, for in the 10,000 years since the retreat of the ice Wales has never known sustainable rural communities.
Soon after releasing into the wild the piece about Black Mountains College news started arriving about the denizens of Rhiw Las. One couple in particular may have been telling porkies about where they live, and what they do.
I’m referring now to Chris Vernon and Erica Thompson. That’s Dr Chris Vernon, who works for the Met Office in Bristol; and Dr Erica Thompson, a Fellow of the London School of Economics.
When she’s not teaching in London, or attending conferences, or at her holiday home OPD, Erica Thompson is chairwoman of the One Planet Council. Which means that she knows the buzz-words, she has the connections, and the buttons she needs to push are invitingly illuminated.
OPDs can look commendable, deserving of support, until you learn more and appreciate the bullshit involved.
Great dollops of which can be found in the Management Plan for Rhiw Las, that accompanied the planning application. It makes a big thing of the availability of wild food. But if you’re going to use wild food to strengthen your case then you might as well say there’ll be lots of air to breathe, and birds singing, and flies flying . . .
One Planet Developments are supposed to be about people doing things for themselves, not relying entirely on Mother Nature . . . plus of course, the Met Office and the LSE.
Then there’s Wycliffe Tippins, another resident of Rhiw Las. It seems Wycliffe lives or works in Gloucestershire. As a comment to the Black Mountains College post told us, “Wycliffe is a computer games developer. Another useful addition to the rural skillset at Rhiw Las !”
What’s more, not so long ago, Wycliffe was advertising for unpaid help to look after his OPD while he was designing computer games in England.
And before he was even using the static caravan on his visits to Wales, and before Rhiw Las was given planning permission, Wycliffe was demanding a strong Well-being of Future Generations Bill! Which would of course be of benefit to him and his friends.
Which meant he was trying to influence Welsh legislation when he wasn’t even pretending to be living here! Arrogant colonialist fucker!
Another member of the Rhiw Las gang who may be working full-time in England is Dr Paul Jennings. But what I found really interesting about him came from this interview with Lowimpact.org in April.
Contrary to what I’m sure most of us believed, according to Paul Jennings, ‘The (OPD) policy is intended to strengthen local, rural economies in Wales – it’s not about self-sufficiency.’ Though in other areas he agrees with us.
Over at Lammas we find Cassandra Lishman, the ‘Woman of the Willows’. Are she and her husband living a self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle? Almost certainly not, for as the article tells us, hubby “Nigel has a ‘conventional’ job as a care support worker.”
To which he drives every day.
“Cassie is at pains to stress that living at Lammas – reliant upon sun, water and wind for power, and running smallholdings in tune with nature – does not preclude having a ‘normal’ life”.
All they really want is a cheap place in the countryside. And it has to be the Welsh countryside because no other country on Earth has been so stupid as to submit to these people by introducing the OPD system.
Once they’ve got their little bit of heaven, built for a few thousand pounds, it can be sold for a premium price as a dwelling in open country.
Clearly, the OPD system is being abused on a massive scale. And yet the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to intervene, leaving local planning authorities helpless. And so the envirocolonists keep coming, in an ever-increasing tide.
Here’s what one local source told me:
“As far as I can tell there in no policing by Pembs CC and given the fear of litigation that Carm CC suffered at the hands OPD lawyers they are reluctant/can’t afford to enforce any of the planning restrictions imposed originally
I foresee many of the properties sold as general housing with a very large garden and a lifestyle
Sure as hell nobody local will be buying these properties as it will be cash buyers only, I somehow doubt that they are mortgageable
Lammas is a shambles and beyond any controls it seems. The latest episode is —– laying down on the track to stop a farmer hedge cutting because he can’t get his hay equipment to fields further up the hill
There are more appearing in the valley and it is divisive. A farmer is buying blocks of land just to prevent more arrivals as he is already surrounded.
They are not going away so sooner or later most will be sold on the open market.
I don’t see the an end to it.
Wealthy incomers, from SE England and Bristol queuing up to buy a toy farm in countryside, working from home and not having the skills abide to OPD planning conditions. What then?
The farms are being fragmented and they will never be able to be reinstated as a viable family farm of the type that has built the indigenous community”.
I know it’s easy to laugh at these people and their pretensions, but they are ambitious, greedy, well connected, and dangerous. Never forget that the clowns in Corruption Bay have already bent over backwards to do their bidding.
The ambition I’m referring to stretches way beyond the few settlements we see today, mainly in the south west. According to Paul/Tau Wimbush, a Lammas guru, Wales could easily accommodate another 115,000 eco-holdings. That’s 414,000 people – all them land-grabbing charlatans, with few living the life they’ll claim to be living.
Chris Vernon agrees that there should be many more faux OPDs. Go to 7:10 in this video to hear him say: “There is no reason why Wales couldn’t support several tens of thousands of smallholdings in the open countryside”.
Glynllifon is a name you’ll be familiar with, but this section has nothing to do with Plas Glynllifon, the old mansion south of Caernarfon that has attracted so many crooks over recent years.
No, this Glynllifon is on Ynys Môn, near Marianglas, with Benllech to the south and Moelfre to the north. Though just like its mainland namesake it also attracts crooks!
As I was informed in a couple of anonymous e-mails earlier this month telling me that certain ‘businessmen’ had a project at Traeth Bychan, Marianglas, and that a company called Glynllifon Ltd was involved.
This company was formed 10 June last year, with Neil Moir as sole director. (The name is sometimes spelt ‘Muir’.) The company soon took out two loans with Goldcrest Finance Ltd to buy the Glynllifon hotel. Goldcrest Finance is yet another “specialist lender based in central Manchester”. How many of them are there?
Here’s the Land Registry title document. I suggest you keep it open in another window. Because before moving on to the latest developments I’d like to concentrate on the title document for a bit.
Going back to 1999 (page 2) it would appear that the Glynllifon Hotel passed from people named Beardsley to a Lesley Karen Boshell. Yet on page 3 we find that, “A Deed dated 17 September 2015 made between (1) Thelma Eileen Beardsley and (2) Ocean and Country Developments Limited contains restrictive covenants.”
Turning to Ocean & Country Developments Ltd we find Ronald Kenneth Boshell of Cheshire as a director. It’s reasonable to assume that he is related to Lesley Karen Boshell.
Ocean & Country Developments is heavily in debt and the debt may be explained by an outstanding charge held by ‘The Santhouse Pensioneer Trustee Company Limited Marc Howard and Avis Howard’ against . . . the Glynllifon Hotel. Marc Howard is the other director, with Boshell, of Ocean & Country Developments.
The Boshells were obviously living on Ynys Mon in January 2005 because this report from the Daily Post tells us that one of the Boshell children was hit by a car on the way to school.
The report also told us that, “Mr Boshell and wife Leslie (sic) said they closed the hotel last year because the road was so dangerous”. The hotel was called the Beauchelles Hotel (geddit?), though closing due to traffic is unlikely.
UPDATE 22.09.2020: My suspicion has been confirmed – the Beauchelles Hotel was Glynllifon. Sources say it went downhill, almost as if it was designed to fail.
One source sent me a photo of Ronnie Boshell, now domiciled in Spain.
“Cllr Durkin said: ‘For years now Benllech and its surrounding areas has seen a number of its prominent hotels and properties purchased by property developers just to be closed down with no work done. (My emphasis.)
‘They have been left dangerously, inadequately secured and are blots on the beautiful landscapes.”
He drew attention to Y Gorlan, on Benllech promenade, which has already been set on fire, has been left open to the elements and has become a magnet for unsuspecting children to get injured or killed.
Some of the eyesores also include the Bay Court Hotel, the Bryntyrion (sic) Hotel and the Beauchelles Hotel, which Cllr Durkin says are letting the village down.'”
It could be that companies were being set up, and property bought, to launder money. Such things happen.
The image below, from Google, was captured in July 2016. It would appear to show some plan to develop the Glynllifon site as apartments and holiday cottages, perhaps by Ocean & Country Developments Ltd.
The Boshells, or Beauchelles, appear to have moved back to north west England.
The empty and semi-derelict Glynllifon Hotel has now been bought by Glynllifon Ltd and Neil Moir. So who exactly is he?
THE winner of top TV quiz Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is set to lose his fortune – because he is a crook.
Millions saw 51-year-old Neil Muir land a £64,000 prize this week. But under the programme’s rules he is BANNED from entering.
Muir has convictions for theft, deception and forgery. And Rule 6 says: “You must… have no criminal convictions (subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974).” London TV company Celador launched an investigation yesterday.
Although his roots seem to be in north west England Moir is, I believe, living on Ynys Môn. In Bodorgan, on the opposite side of the island to Marianglas.
In recent days the Glynllifon Hotel has been in the news because the planned development – if it’s not another money laundering operation! – plans to open under the ‘Traeth Bychan Heights’ label. This has upset many locals angry at so many traditional names being lost.
(Bryn Llys has been renamed ‘Snowdon Summit View’.)
Now what interest would Shane Baker have in the Marianglas / Benllech area? Silly me! – it’s where the police found his boss John Joseph Duggan hiding out. Though given what we now know about the area I can’t help wondering who owned the property in which Duggan was hiding.
I’m sure I’ll return to this story in future posts. If anyone has more information, then get in touch.
Toy trains, ‘investment’ holiday homes, Tory MPs’ property empires, envirocolonists and outright crooks are just the same monster glimpsed in different lights. All elements of a colonial system that no longer simply exploits but also destroys.
Either we start taking back control, from those you’ve read about, and from those who refuse to take action against them, or it will be victory for Shane Baker and those who agree that doing away with everything that makes us Welsh is progress.
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
You will recall that last week I planned on giving you a few reports from here and there, but one just grew to the point where it took over? Well, would you believe it – the same thing has happened again this week!
The purpose of this piece is two-fold. First, to bring you up to date with recent developments; second, to take a fuller look at the background and those involved in the recent acquisition of more land.
To cut a long story short . . . Bryn Llys was a traditional smallholding near the village of Nebo, not far from Caernarfon. Then it was bought by a gang of fraudsters from West Yorkshire. To launder the proceeds of crime they went on a building spree.
The head of the gang is perhaps John Joseph Duggan. I say ‘perhaps’, because with him being in prison quite often, or on the run, business seems to be handled by his son, Jonathan James Duggan.
Because neither Duggan is officially supposed to have any money, Bryn Llys is, for the Land Registry record, owned by their associate Andrew Battye.
Explained in this piece from March, ‘Bryn Llys, unravelling’. (And earlier pieces. Just type ‘Bryn Llys’ into the search box atop the sidebar.)
Before going away for his most recent period of incarceration Duggan senior brought a bit of excitement to sleepy Benllech when police swooped to arrest him. (Police always ‘swoop’ in situations like that.)
On paper, Battye is central to the whole operation, but in the real world, as observers testify, he cuts a rather sorry and peripheral figure. At best, a decoy; at worst – for him! – the fall guy.
Desperation to move money combined with a total absence of taste resulted in an ‘extension’ to Bryn Llys in a style that I would describe as Dickensian workhouse. This soon dwarfed the original building and it was put on the market last year – as ‘Snowdon Summit View’ – for £850,000.
There were no takers, so it went to auction in February with a guide price of £650,000. Again, no takers. There’s a lesson here, one that those involved may be too stupid to learn. So let me spell it out for them.
The reason they can’t find a buyer is that anyone making basic enquiries about Bryn Llys soon learns that there are enforcement notices and other legal issues hanging over this monstrosity. Then there are the disputes with neighbours . . . police raids . . .
And more recently, court appearances. (More about these later.)
This is trouble gang members have brought on themselves because they turned up in Nebo with a sack full of swag believing they could intimidate neighbours, bamboozle planners, and just steamroller their plans through.
Plans exposed by the formation in June last year of Bryn Llys Ltd, a company in the business of “Holiday centres and villages”.
4 GLANRAFON TERRACE
Before bringing you up to date with the latest developments I need to delve a little deeper into the recent acquisition made by the gang. Some ten acres of land that came with the purchase of 4 Glanrafon Terrace. For this is central to the Duggans’ grand vision.
The recent changes are set out in the plans below, which will also give you the lie of the land. It might help if you keep this open in another window.
Plan 1 shows the boundaries of Bryn Llys, together with the access road, after it had been split into two titles with both, officially, held by Andrew Battye (Image: Ordnance Survey, Land Registry.) Here’s the title document for Bryn Llys, and here for the land adjoining.
Plan 2 shows the original boundary for 4 Glanrafon Terrace and the land attached. (Image: Ordnance Survey, Land Registry.) Here’s the title document.
Plan 3 shows the land, edged in red, sold to Jonathan Duggan following the purchase of 4 Glanrafon Terrace by Aaron Hill. (Image: Ordnance Survey, Land Registry.) Here’s the title document.
Plan 4 shows the new access road Jonathan Duggan has laid to Bryn Llys despite there being an enforcement notice against this work. (Image: JPJ Architectural Design, Llandudno.)
Although Duggan argues that he needs the new road for agricultural purposes, the Duggans know nothing about farming. Though, in fairness, a few cows have now appeared at Bryn Llys, with bovine recruits and established gang members staring at each other in mutual bewilderment.
Back to Glanrafon Terrace.
From around 2006 the house was home to Nicholas Brian Williams and David Brookwell. They eventually fell behind with their mortgage repayments and around March 14, 2018 the property was repossessed by lenders AMG.
But it was not straightforward. Security guards were needed on the property 24/7 to stop Jonathan Duggan taking over the adjoining land he claimed and laying the access road for which he had no planning permission.
There seems little doubt that once he realised their situation Jonathan Duggan homed in on Williams and Brookwell. They perhaps agreed to sell the land to him. Whatever agreement might have been made was made late in the day, with the vultures already circling.
After their home had been repossessed Nick Williams and David Brookwell were graciously allowed to live at Bryn Llys, but soon given the heave-ho when they were of no further use to Jonathan Duggan.
And now it gets really strange.
Some time after the property had been repossessed a document appeared claiming to show that Williams and Brookwell had entered into an agreement with Jonathan Duggan’s wife, Emma, and Andrew Battye, to sell them the land adjoining 4 Glanrafon Terrace. Read it here.
But the document threw up a number of questions.
Superficially, it looks the real deal. But it’s a document that can be found on sites like this, even the details can be filled in online before the form is downloaded.
In the accompanying e-mails you’ll see that the solicitor acting for Jonathan Emma Duggan and Andrew Battye was Kathryn Elizabeth Parry of Parry and Co Solicitors Limited of Liverpool.
I’m not sure it ever did much business, and it seems to have been stripped before the liquidator arrived. For if you check the liquidator’s statement from July, under ‘Asset realisations’, you’ll see ‘Nil’ recorded against fixtures and fittings, motor vehicles and computer equipment.
Which might suggest that Kate Parry travelled everywhere by bus and did all her business face to face and by word of mouth. That’s not true, of course, but the liquidator’s report is worth reading.
An unusual move you might think for a man of 73 years.
Though perhaps I’m being a little unfair, for according to Companies House Vic is a Renaissance businessman. Being a past or present director of investment vehicles, buy-to-rent companies, residential homes and a golf club.
It is suspected the document alleging an agreement between the Bryn Llys gang and the residents of 4 Glanrafon Terrace was concocted when it became obvious that repossession was in the offing. And backdated to November 2013.
Because that date is within weeks of Duggan turning up at Bryn Llys, and before Williams and Brookwell could have known him, so why would they enter into such an agreement? Especially as repossession was a long way away.
And if Duggan really had that agreement in writing since November 2013 why did he spend the next few years making life hell for other neighbours demanding they make him concessions he already had?
The document is also suspect because it clearly wasn’t proof-read by a solicitor, or anyone else. A quick flick through turned up a number of curiosities.
For example, On page 3 I see, “Miss Emma Duggan”, but she’s Jonathan Duggan’s wife. Isn’t she?
At 4.2 a, we read “land adjourning 4 glanarfon terrace”.
The addresses for the four parties involved, and the dates on which it’s suggested they signed, were written by the same hand.
The only address and dates in a different hand are those for the witness – an odd-job man who works for Jonathan Duggan.
A half-decent lawyer would have fun with that document.
But it’s when I looked more closely into Kate Parry’s associations that the old Jac eyes opened wide.
Let’s go back to Kate Parry’s company, Parry & Co Solicitors Ltd. When we click on the ‘Charges’ tab we bring up three loans.
One came directly from Lee James Spencer, who was a director of Parry & Co in 2013/14. Another from LJS Corporate Projects Ltd, a company started by Spencer where Parry was a director. The third is Mass Medical Solutions Ltd, another Spencer company, this one in liquidation.
Clearly, there is some relationship between Parry and Spencer. So who is he?
Make sure you read it in full. It’s a great piece of reporting, the kind of thing we never get from the mainstream media in Wales.
Things got so bad that in 2017 Liverpool City Council referred the New Chinatown project to the National Crime Agency, perhaps under pressure from investors in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and elsewhere who were beginning to realise they’d been taken for a ride by certain ‘Liverpool businessmen’.
Although he doesn’t appear as a director of these Spencer companies Peter McInnes was definitely involved, as this report from the Echo makes clear.
“Mr McInnes became one of the biggest players in Liverpool’s vibrant regeneration scene through prominent roles at development firms PHD1 and North Point Global.
He spoke out on behalf of both companies as they embarked on plans to transform Liverpool city centre, with his quotes appearing on press releases marking key stages of projects with a projected value of more than £320m.
They included the New Chinatown deal for proposals for 800 homes, 200,000 sq ft of shops and the creation of as many as 1,000 jobs in a massive scheme set to lie in the shadow of the Anglican Cathedral.”
Yet despite that write-up McInnes prefers to take a back seat. We see PHD1 mentioned in the Echo report. There are a string of PHD companies where McInnes’ interests are represented by his sister, Julie Caroline McInnes.
Though I’m sure it’s the headline to the story that caught your eye. You can almost hear the kiddies in the audience shouting back – ‘Oh yes you do!’ Bless ’em!
So let’s recap.
The Bryn Llys gang holds a remarkable document proving that Jonathan Duggan is the true Tsar of All the Russias . . . or at least he might have some sort of arrangement to buy a few acres near his demesne.
To promote this claim the Bryn Llys gang chose a Liverpool solicitor who keeps very racy company indeed. But how did it come about?
For Kate Parry was running a shoestring outfit few people had heard of, and may have existed primarily to serve Lee James Spencer. Duggan is from West Yorkshire with, as far as I’m aware, no Merseyside connections. So how did they find each other?
You may be thinking along similar lines to me, so we’ll leave it there for the time being.
It was reported, ‘The judge added Mr Battye, who owned the building and continues to pay the mortgage, had “lost interest in the property and washed his hands of his responsibilities.”‘
Think about that for a minute. Here’s a man who’s bought a large property on which he’s still paying the mortgage. People he’s generously allowed to live there are behaving as if they own the place, and his only response is to shrug his shoulders!
How about . . . Battye doesn’t own Bryn Llys, and he never did.
The ‘architect’ shown in the picture is Scott Smith, half-brother to Jonathan Duggan. For a while Smith had his own company, Diseno Ltd, which drew up the plans used in the alleged ‘agreement’.
The day after the family gathering in Llandudno Magistrates Court Jonathan Duggan was back for breaching an enforcement notice regarding an unauthorised bridge on the newly-acquired land. He lost, again.
The reason Battye wasn’t in court for the second hearing was because the new land is owned by Jonathan Duggan. But it’s not that simple.
Because as I keep telling you – Duggan doesn’t officially have any money!
Though, thinking of money . . . in the ‘agreement’ we see £5,500 mentioned, this being the figure Emma Duggan and Andrew Battye were to pay for the land. Yet Duggan claims to have paid Hill £50,000. So either he was cheated or Williams and Brookwell were going to be cheated.
I wonder . . .
It’s all so complicated, and failure to understand the complexities of Bryn Llys may have led to JPJ Architectural making a howler. Go back to plan 4 above, and in the legend on the right you’ll read: “Blue line represents Bryn Llys site boundary prior to purchasing the additional land”.
But the new land does not form part of Bryn Llys. They’re two separate titles. Bryn Llys is owned by Andrew Battye and the new land by Jonathan Duggan – bought with a loan from Aaron Hill! Officially.
Though you have to wonder why Hill bought the property at all. Did Duggan give him the money to make the purchase?
One not mentioned in the court reports, but who deserves recognition, is Shane Baker. It was Baker who got me interested in Bryn Llys when, on Twitter a couple of years ago, he called me “a right cunt”. (I had to rummage in my drawers for great-aunt Fastidia’s smelling salts after reading that!)
Shane is a BritNat of the variety that believes people like him, the Duggans, Aaron Hill, Paul Williams, Gavin Lee Woodhouse, Myles Cunliffe, et al should be able to stomp into Wales and do what they damn well like because they are English and we are mere Welsh.
Shane Baker lives on the Bryn Llys site, in a large caravan. His role is to flog off goods, equipment, machinery, etc., that the Duggans have obtained but have no intention of paying for. This being their modus operandi.
And we are not talking small items from Amazon left in the porch. One excavator caused a hell of a lot of damage as it was being removed. This may be another reason Duggan wants a new access – so he can order, not pay for, and flog off, even bigger machinery!
Baker made a few comments to the Daily Post report on the first court appearance as ‘Shakingshane’ (for he is a performer in the Rock ‘n’ Roll genre). “The council up to there old tricks again , there all bent”, he sagely contributed.
Getting the gang into court over planning issues is progress, I suppose. But the real crimes are still going unpunished.
Pressure must now be maintained; by neighbours, council, and police. There are weak links in this chain that might crack under pressure. And when they do, they’ll have a lot to say.
Also, let’s make sure that no local suppliers or contractors deal with the Bryn Llys gang. Neighbours were disappointed to see a Llŷn contractor working on the unauthorised access track. I’m sure he now knows what sort of people he’s been dealing with.
Jonathan Duggan’s attitude to life is to ignore rules, laws, and all decent forms of human behaviour; to push a situation as far as he can to his advantage and then stand back and say – ‘Well, what are you gonna to do about it?’ Let’s show him what we’re going to do about it.
Because what sort of country is Wales that it attracts and tolerates people like this, and allows them to prosper? Obviously, a homeland over which we Welsh have no real control. It’s time to change that, for this and so many other reasons.
Finally, there’s always room on my stack of solicitors’ letters for one more. So I’ll say it again: Jonathan James Duggan is a liar, a bully, and a crook.
The guilty party was Gower Way Limited. Given the name I assumed it was local to Swansea; but no, for Gower Way Limited has its registered address in London.
Where it was Incorporated in July 2015, and there’s been no change of name. Suggesting the company was set up in London with the intention of operating in Swansea. Though, curiously, the address transferred from Swansea to London in September 2018 – without any record of it ever transferring to Swansea.
The only director and sole shareholder is Nasser Saleh Alanizy.
The confirmation statement is currently overdue with Companies House. In fact, the company was struck off late last year and restored just before Christmas. Though the contact name given on the restoration document is not Nasser Alanizy but Baber Wassim.
The unaudited, micro-entity ‘accounts’ suggest capital and reserves of £874,900 in 2019, down from £1,820,720 the previous year. Made up entirely of fixed assets, possibly buildings.
That’s what’s suggested when we click on the Gower Way ‘Charges’ tab. For the charges refer to a retail unit at 62 Kingsway, and ‘The Box’, in Welcome Lane. Both in Swansea.
I must confess that for a minute this old Jack couldn’t place Welcome Lane and so I had to resort to Google. It’s a short street running down from Castle Street to the Strand. But there’s nothing there apart from an old public lavatory. Is that ‘The Box’?
Indeed it is. As the title document and plan prove. In two instalments totalling £114,210.70 Swansea council seems to have paid Gower Way Ltd to take this old public loo off their hands on a 125-year lease commencing 14 December 2015. Though the charges are dated 31 March 2017.
That gives us a total of £288,732.67. So I’m not clear as to where Gower Way’s assets of £879,000 shown in the accounts come from. There must be assets in addition to the buildings in Swansea. Presumably.
To recap; Gower Way Ltd was Incorporated 9 July 2015. The lease for 62 Kingsway was signed 10 September, 2015, and the lease for ‘The Box’ on 14 December, 2015. The four loans from the Council are dated 31 March, 2017.
Does this mean that the Council signed lease agreements with a company that over a year later needed money from the Council to honour those lease agreements?
UPDATE: It now appears that a Middle Eastern restaurant opened in April 2017 at 62 The Kingsway. This probably explains the council loans in March 2017. A Twitter account was started, but never tweeted; and a Facebook page was also opened, and abandoned.
There was even a short-lived company called Feasting House Swansea Limited. Incorporated March 2017, application to strike-off made 18 January 2018. There may have been a restaurant on the premises for a short while but I doubt if that was the primary purpose to which the building was put.
And what were the loans for the public lavatories in Welcome Lane used for?
Swansea council was taken for a ride.
UPDATE 08.09.2020: A source tells me that the loans were linked with Property Enhancement Development Fund (PEDF) and Homes Above Shops (HAS). This Google link suggest that funding was announced for Swansea in June 2014. Gower Way Ltd was formed a year later, almost certainly to take advantage of the funding.
Unfortunately the link only opens The Wave (radio station) home page.
HOW THEY ARE RELATED
Nasser Alanizy’s Linkedin entry says that he has also been a director of ‘Old House CMC’ since September 2009. I have no idea what CMC stands for, but a Nasser Alanizy is a director of Old House Group Ltd, a company launched as recently as February last year.
Though his day job would appear to be with the Focus Building Group. Or it was until a couple of years ago. But the Focus Building Group doesn’t appear at all on Alanizy’s Linkedin profile.
A bit confusing. And now it gets more confusing.
For another of Alanizy’s companies is Canons Lodge Ltd. The accounts are overdue with Companies House but the latest available accounts, up to 31 July 2018, show ‘Capital and reserves’ of minus £237,000.
And yet, if we compare the accounts for 2017 and 2018, specifically the extracts below, we see that what was £630,000 in 2017 has reduced in the 2018 accounts to £63,000. Is this a typo, the sort of thing that happens with unaudited, ‘do-it-yourself’ submissions, or is it something more?
So Swansea council is shelling out for a building in London!
Canons Lodge Ltd began life with a London address, Then on 24 March, 2017, it transferred its registered address to 62 The Kingsway. The moolah from the council was delivered the following month.
Then, just like Gower Way Ltd, in September 2018 the address was changed to a London address. Both companies eventually settling at 23 Crawford Street, London W1H 1BY.
So what or where is Canons Lodge?
It turns out that Canons Park is a municipal park in the borough of Harrow in north west London, with an Underground station of the same name. The Lodge used to serve as the park-keeper’s residence and it seems that Nasser Alanizy has recently bought the place.
I got this information from Friends of Canons Park, who told me “Mr Alanizy is the resident of the Lodge in Canons Park. He is a property developer and is trying to adapt the Lodge to create an arts centre and meeting rooms, which the Friends are happy to support as they will directly benefit the park.”
The Land Registry title document for the Lodge tells us, page 3 C5: “(09.04.2014) A Transfer of the land in this title dated 19 March 2014 made between (1) The Mayor And Burgesses Of the London Borough Of Harrow and (2) Intercontinental Developments Limited contains restrictive covenants.”
So who are the previous owners, Intercontinental Developments Ltd? To begin with, it is registered with Companies House. The only current director is Surmid El Akabi. A previous director – from February 2005 until March 2019 – was Karim El Akabi.
It’s reasonable to assume that the three El Akabis are related.
I came across this reference from 2013 to Namir El Akabi buying the Paragon Hotel in Birmingham. BirminghamLive said: “According to sources, Iraqi owners the El-Akabi family are preparing to invest in a multi-million pound overhaul of the hotel which will see it restored to its former glory”.
Surrendering to the curiosity that would surely have killed me by now if I’d been born with a taste for mice I wondered who owns the Paragon/Rowton Hotel.
The answer is Paragon Investment Estate Ltd, Incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Presumably a front for the El Akabis because the most recent sale recorded with the Land Registry was the one reported in 2013.
Namir El Akabi has contacts in the UK government. And so it’s no surprise to find him in 2013 buying a hotel in Birmingham to house refugees, many from his own country. Perhaps he had better contacts than Birmingham City Council.
Recap: This digression came about because the Al Akabis previously owned Canons Lodge which is now owned by Nasser Alanizy who leases the buildings in Swansea with loans from the Council.
Moving on . . .
I can’t help wondering if the modestly-named Intergalactic Developments had plans for Canons Park Lodge that the council made clear would not be allowed. Thwarted, the boys from Baghdad found (perhaps already knew) Alanizy.
There was a bogus ‘sale’, and the council being aware of this subterfuge explains why the Friends of Canons Park tell me, “all his (Alanizy’s) applications to Harrow Council have been turned down”.’
You will recall that one of Alanizy’s companies was the Old House Group Ltd at the popular accommodation address, 23 Crawford Street, London W1H 1BY. The only other director was Mazin Daood.
Alanizy is a director of Focus Development Solutions along with Ednor Mata and Gentian Mata. Each holding 100 of the 300 shares. Only formed in June 2018 the first accounts were due 12 March. Companies House is still waiting.
SSL Investment Ltd belongs to a Jordanian family living in the United Arab Emirates.
Mazmo Partners Ltd has Mazin Daood as sole director. But with another person who may be his father also involved.
PENDINE IS VERY POPULAR AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR
But I have little interest in what’s going on in Baghdad, Birmingham, Abu Dhabi or London. Wales is my concern, and those we’re discussing may now have business interests west of the old home town.
Which I thought was a bit odd, why the sudden interest in animals? Are they hoping to profit from the ‘Welsh Government’s war on farmers?
Whatever the answer, we have an interlocking set of property investors with Middle East connections, one of whom has turned his attention to Pendine Sands, which was famous for land speed record attempts in the first half of the 20th century. You’ll recall that J G Parry-Thomas was killed there in 1927 trying to beat his own world land speed record.
As if that wasn’t enough, there is an Irish company called Pendine Sands 4894 Limited (known as Olympus Leasing 4162 Limited until September 2015). Through a number of intermediaries it is ultimately owned by Goshawk Aviation Funding Ltd, which I assume links with this aircraft leasing company.
There are two other ‘Pendine Sands’ companies at the same Dublin 2 address, Pendine Sands 4832 Limited and Pendine Sands 39621 Limited.
So many companies using the Pendine name could be pure coincidence. Then again, maybe not.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
We are confronted by a paradox. The stock of housing in Wales is growing, yet less and less of it is accessible to Welsh people.
What I’m describing is a bizarre housing system that works against the native population while promoting the interests of strangers. A system too complex and too consistent in its outcomes to be attributed to incompetence or happenstance.
Once the bigger problem is deconstructed and its component parts exposed, then remedies present themselves. All that’s needed then is the political will to implement those remedies.
In this article I shall explain a problem and then make one or more suggestions for tackling it. I’m sure many of you reading this will have your own ideas – so let’s hear them.
PRICES, TOO HIGH AND TOO LOW
When dealing with house prices we find problems at both ends of the scale. On the one hand, houses are being built in many areas that most locals can’t afford – but that’s OK because they’re not intended for us.
Take Newport, Pembrokeshire, a ‘holiday hotspot’. Locals are being squeezed out of the local housing market and this shortfall is then used to justify building new housing . . . that is also beyond the reach of locals!
Those who profit from trading in undesirables – with the full support and financial backing of the ‘Welsh Government’ – were initially attracted to Ty Isha by low house prices, and they have succeeded in driving property values down even more!
Some of those interviewed in the report are now trapped in houses they have lived in all their married lives but can only sell at a price below what a house such as theirs would fetch in a normal neighbourhood.
Yet in a system that prioritised Welsh needs the small terraced houses of Ty Isha would make ideal starter homes for young people.
SUGGESTIONS: In the case of Newport, Pembs and countless other such developments, the answer is that we simply do not allow the building of new properties that locals either do not wish to buy or cannot afford to buy.
I’ll explain later how we could both achieve this and forecast local need.
To argue that allowing such properties takes the pressure of the existing stock, thereby making many such properties available for local buyers, is absolute bollocks. The numbers wanting to relocate to Wales is limitless, and the demand for holiday homes insatiable.
As for Ty Isha, funding should be withdrawn from any third sector body importing problems from outside of Wales to any part of Wales. The same should apply to housing associations.
I shall also offer suggestions for achieving these objectives.
Those whose properties have been devalued, and their lives affected by the riff-raff dumped around them, should be compensated by the ‘Welsh Government’.
THE NUMBERS GAME
Let’s now focus on the problem of houses being built in numbers greatly in excess of what Wales needs. And, again, at prices most of us can’t afford. This is particularly noticeable in the eastern parts of the country as English commuters look west for cheaper housing and nicer scenery.
Black-spots are along the A55 in the north and the M4 in the south and, since the removal of tolls on the Severn Bridge, increasingly evident in southern Gwent, including the city of Newport. An example would be the 900 dwellings of the ‘urban village’ planned for Mamhilad, north of Pontypool, towards Abergavenny, but close enough to the M4 for Bristol commuters.
Building in Wales to meet a demand from England has also become noticeable around Wrexham in recent years. It begins with the ‘Welsh Government’ producing absurd population projections to justify building an excessive number of new houses.
Then, when the projections are shown to be exaggerated, the Planning Inspectorate insists on sticking with the original number of new houses. This article explains it well.
I looked into this problem back as March 2014 in a piece I wrote about Denbighshire. The council said, “Look, the latest projections suggest a smaller population increase, so we don’t need to build so many new houses”.
The Planning Inspectorate’s response was, “Yes, you’re right about the population projections . . . but we insist on sticking with the original number of new dwellings”.
A response like that sort of gives the game away, doesn’t it?
Back in 2011 the ‘Welsh Government’ was insisting that the population of Wrexham would increase by 20% in the near future, then the projected increase reduced to 10%, and the latest calculation is that the borough’s population will actually fall by 1.5% by 2028! Yet the number of houses ‘needed’ must remain the same as when an increase of 20% was forecast.
As the map above makes clear, the planned developments are all to the north or the east of the town, in other words, convenient for Cheshire. Or rather, convenient for those who aren’t wanted in Cheshire, in order to preserve property values in Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and the other communities of the ‘Golden Triangle’.
What has clearly been happening is that the ‘Welsh Government’ (or others acting in its name) has been producing what it knew to be inflated, contrived, population projections. Done to justify building excessive numbers of new dwellings.
When the population projections were exposed as bogus, and revised downwards, the Planning Inspectorate stuck with the discredited figures in order to push on with building what were now clearly excessive numbers of new houses.
And by so doing the Planning Inspectorate exposed a dishonest system.
SUGGESTIONS: To begin with, calculations to determine how many new homes an area needs must be based on what the people of the area need, not on how many properties developers think they can sell. In fact, I can’t think of any good reason why developers need to be involved in assessing demand.
The Wrecsam area being used to take pressure off Cheshire is part of the wider integration strategy of the Mersey Dee Alliance. A giveaway is estate agents referring to the area as ‘West Cheshire’.
The Planning Inspectorate does not serve Welsh interests, it never has. It must be replaced with a new Welsh body free from political interference and divorced from commercial interests.
Why can’t we have a register of those who think they’ll be looking to buy a new home within an area; something similar to the waiting list for social housing. Once people grasp that contributing to such a database will make it more likely they’ll find the home they need then the more likely they’ll be to participate.
A perennial issue in Wales and the Covid lockdown has highlighted the problem. First, it was people sneaking to their holiday homes for lockdown rather than staying at their usual residence, while more recently it’s been the increased demand for holiday homes.
The latest figures for Gwynedd suggest that 40% of the properties being sold in the county are now bought for use as holiday homes. Take the towns out of the calculation and it’s reasonable to assume that a majority of the properties in villages and in the countryside are being sold as holiday homes.
Gwynedd council is run by Plaid Cymru but it has only imposed a 50% surcharge on holiday homes. Yet another example of Plaid Cymru wringing its hands, “Oooh, isn’t it awful, something should be done”, yet when a roar of defiance was needed Plaid Cymru could only whimper.
This is Plaid Cymru terrified of being called ‘anti-English’. That mauling Glenys Kinnock handed out to Ieuan Wyn Jones on Question Time in February 2001 has left a deep and painful scar.
Compare Gwynedd to Swansea, where the Labour-controlled council has imposed a 100% surcharge, (which also applies to properties left empty for a long period). And in case you think this is only a gesture because the city has few holiday homes, there are many hundreds in the waterfront area, and of course, on Gower.
All the arguments used in defence of holiday homes are self-serving bullshit. “Nobody else wanted the place” . . . “But we put so much money into the local economy!” . . . “An essential part of the tourism industry”, etc, etc.
SUGGESTIONS: One simple change in the law would go a long way to easing the misery of holiday homes.
Legislation stating that only 10% of properties in any electoral ward can be registered as holiday homes, with the figure reducing to 5% in 2030 would have a number of immediate effects.
First, in wards where more than 10% of properties are currently registered as holiday homes such legislation would immediately curtail future demand. Knowledge of the change in 2030 would remove the threat of further properties being bought as holiday homes.
Resulting in more properties, at reduced prices, becoming available for locals.
Severe penalties must be imposed for using a property as a holiday home when it is not registered for that use. And the loophole allowing holiday homes to escape council tax by registering as a business must be closed.
To further reduce the demand for holiday homes and increase their contribution to the local community council tax should be charged at a rate of 200%.
Some may think that a 5% figure is too low, others that it’s unduly generous. My belief is that no area of Wales should suffer more than 5% of its housing stock being used by strangers flaunting their greater wealth.
RETIRING TO WALES
An often overlooked factor in inflating house prices is retired and elderly people moving to Wales. The negatives increase when we remember that the older a person is the more likely they are to need medical care of some kind. This is a universal truth.
Which means that this influx will obviously impact on our NHS and other services.
In fact, it’s difficult to think of any benefit Wales derives from people in the older age brackets moving in. But that doesn’t stop some from trying.
Some three years ago I wrote to the ‘Welsh Government’ with a few questions on this subject. What I received by way of an answer contained a paragraph that has caused either mirth, or head shaking, whenever people read it. (For the full letter, click here.)
On a planet where all other countries view an ageing population as a ‘ticking time-bomb’ Wales alone sees the takeover by alien wrinklies as something positive. Or rather, the ‘Welsh Government’ wants us to believe it does.
This is the sort of nonsense that officialdom spouts when it’s cornered. I say that because while the letter I received makes highfalutin’ references to “liberty of movement” the truth is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has enacted legislation that encourages retired and elderly people to move to Wales.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine that Welsh people going into care can hold on to £50,000, I might benefit from such a provision myself one day. But it also encourages into Wales people who have spent their working lives elsewhere. And the cost of looking after these elderly goes into the debit column of our national accounts and is used to prove that Wales is a financial basket-case.
I see a boy at the back with his hand up, “How big is the problem, Sir?”
Here’s a table I compiled using data from the 2011 Census. You’ll see that in some local authority areas only a minority of the population in the 65+ age bracket was born in Wales.
With the problem not confined to the north, just look at Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. There’s a definite correlation between tourism and the numbers of retired and elderly people moving to an area.
Though Flintshire would appear to buck the trend in that it is not a tourism hotspot, but even so, half of the over 65s were born in England. While this can be partly explained by maternity services being located in Chester I can also suggest another explanation.
Let’s say you’re a likely lad living on the Wirral. Aunt Mabel is going to leave you her money, a nice round figure of £100,000. If she goes into a local care home you might only see £23,350, but take her to Mold or Connah’s Quay and you’re guaranteed at least £50,000. More if you can get the local authority to cough up.
And, anyway, is the old girl going to know where she is!
Finally, let’s not forget the political dimension to this phenomenon. It has been proven time after time that the older an English voter is the more likely that person is to be royalist, patriotically British, pro-Brexit, conservative and Conservative.
From a Welsh perspective, encouraging retired and elderly English people into Wales is both an economic and a political disaster. But it benefits England for the same reasons.
SUGGESTIONS: There’s no need to deny Welsh people the £50,000 limit, but insist on 20 years residency in Wales before anyone qualifies.
And let’s stop building retirement bungalows and flats to be advertised over the border. Many of those who move to such properties may be fit and active when they arrive, but Father Time will soon do his work.
Only a country run by idiots drives out its own young people and replaces them with another country’s elderly.
At one time it was so simple – local authorities built and rented council houses. You put your name down on the list and you waited your turn. Obviously there was favouritism shown in certain allocations, but by and large the system worked to the benefit of Welsh communities.
Then came the housing associations and the transfer of council housing stock.
There’s a general and touching misconception that Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), more commonly known as housing associations, have simply replaced councils, and that social housing is universally available for those who cannot afford to buy a home but would rather not rent from a private landlord.
That was the intention, and that may have been how it started under the new system, but things got much more complicated as years went by. Much more complicated.
There are a number of fundamental problems with the way RSLs now operate.
1/ To begin with, social housing in Wales is locked into an Englandandwales system. This was explained to me in December 2010 in a response I received from Nick Bennett, who was then CEO of Community Housing Cymru, the umbrella organisation for housing associations.
He wrote, “There are over 2 million people on waiting lists for social housing”. This figure cannot be for Wales alone, and yet it was provided by the head of the body supposedly responsible for social housing in Wales. And only in Wales.
Bennett emerged a couple of decades ago from under a lily pad in Cardiff Bay as a fully-formed Spad, before becoming a business partner of Labour’s Alun Davies. He then served as CEO at Community Housing Cymru from 2006 to 2014, and since leaving CHC he has guarded the posterior regions of our politicians and civil servants as the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
Corruption Bay in mortal form.
Who gets a vacant house may be decided by a third sector body, in contact with a sister body in England, which has ‘recommended’ Chardonnay and her six semi-feral children; the little darlings having been chased out of their last home by neighbours fed up with the thieving and the vandalism.
They get priority treatment, “Cos they is homeless, innit. Little kiddies, look”.
It was never explained why this was done. And no politicians asked . . . because they didn’t want to know. ‘Priority cases’ are still being dumped in Wales, every day.
2/ A more recent problem with housing associations – and there are dozens of them, competing with each other – is that they are now privatised, but still in receipt of public funding.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, nearly all of them have subsidiaries, or private companies that are not subsidiaries but still members of the group. And then there are the partners.
This diversification has led to the mis-use of public funding, an almost complete lack of monitoring and accountability, and RSL group members building private housing for open market sale. Sold to retirees (officially ‘downsizers’), buy-to-rent landlords (officially ‘investors’), and even as holiday homes. While also selling shares in leasehold properties, with the agreements poorly explained and many duped into thinking they’re buying a freehold property.
This, remember, is the hated leasehold system that the ‘Welsh Government’ elsewhere opposes. Yet it is funding RSLs who then slip money under the table to subsidiaries, or partners, to con people into buying a share in a leasehold property.
What a system! What a ‘government’! What a country!
SUGGESTIONS: The bottom line is that what Wales needs is social landlords renting decent housing to Welsh tenants. Nothing more.
We don’t need subsidiaries of RSLs using diverted public funding to build and sell buy-to-rents in Pembrokeshire. Nor do we want convoluted arrangements using Chinese money to build more retirement bungalows and flats on the north coast.
Housing associations are past their sell-by date. A root-and-branch reform of the social housing system is needed. Wales must leave behind the mess created by ‘diversification’ and adopt a system closer to the original council housing model.
One big question will be what happens to the housing stock currently held by RSLs. Seeing as almost all of it was either built by local authorities, or built since stock transfer with money from the ‘Welsh Government’, a strong case could be made to bring it back into public ownership.
This twilight zone of private bodies living off the public purse while also taking out commercial loans with banks and behaving like private developers must end.
In the meantime, to avoid the dumping of undesirables, no one should be allocated a social tenancy by a RSL unless that person has been resident in Wales for at least 10 years.
We have a housing sector in Wales that has for years been steadily divorcing itself from the needs of our people. The situation has worsened under devolution.
There is clearly a strategy to settle in Wales as many people as possible who are loyal to the UK or England, in order to ‘secure’ Wales. We can expect this assault on Welsh identity to intensify with Scotland looking more and more likely to choose independence in the next few years.
There is one final weapon in the armoury that can be employed to stem the tide of colonisation. That is the Land Transaction Tax (LTT). It replaced Stamp Duty and it’s already in operation.
Below is a table I’ve compiled showing the current LTT rates with higher rates I’m suggesting as a way to curb the invasion. ‘Existing main residence’ is self-explanatory. Holiday homes are covered by ‘Existing higher residential’.
My suggestions are at the bottom, in yellow. What I’m proposing is higher rates all round for those not already living in Wales. Exceptions could be made for key workers, investors and others deemed necessary for the national good.
I am also suggesting that LTT kicks in lower down the price scale, and there’s a good reason for this. In the Valleys, post-industrial towns, even parts of Swansea, properties sell at prices buyers from prosperous areas of England find irresistible. Many are being bought for the wrong reasons.
Just think back to Ty Isha, Llanelli.
What’s more, most properties bought by retirees will be below the £250,000 threshold, so why should they be free of LTT?
I suppose one response to everything I’ve written will be, “It all depends on the political will”, and clearly that political will is absent. For the following reasons.
Civil servants of the ‘Wales would be better without the Welsh’ mindset ‘advising’ – some shagging! – ‘Welsh Government’ ministers.
A zealously Unionist Labour Party containing too many politicians who can dismiss concern for Welsh identity as ‘ugly and narrow-minded nationalism’. And then of course they have their third sector and housing association cronies to think about.
A Conservative Party (plus a rag-bag of BritNats) who will never object to English people moving to Wales, or the votes they bring. “All British . . . free to move anywhere . . . God Save the Queen.”
A so-called ‘national party’, Plaid Cymru, scared witless of being called anti-English by the anti-Welsh. And anyway, national survival is nowhere near as important as trans rights, BLM, refugees, getting Trump out of the White House . . .
You’ve read that 40% of the properties now sold in Gwynedd are to be used as holiday homes. I’ll bet that another 40% are bought by people moving from England into Gwynedd permanently. And it’s the same in other rural areas.
Thanks to the refusal of successive ‘governments’ in Corruption Bay to build a rural economy, the forced reliance on ‘shit anywhere’ tourism, the neglect of everywhere other than Cardiff . . . Wales, thanks to the ‘progressive’ parties’ refusal to confront the assimilation agenda, is approaching the point of no return.
To refuse to challenge the assimilation agenda is to accept it.
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
Regular readers will know that I’ve got into the habit of putting up one post a week, usually on a Monday morning; but information has come to light on One Planet Developments that I think merits a second post this week. I want to get it out while it’s fresh in my mind. (Cos it’s a bit complicated.)
HOW IT STARTED
Someone in Swansea alerted me to a planning application on Gower that asks for a, ‘New entrance track and turning bay’ at Coed Onnen, Parkmill. Read it for yourself. (If the link doesn’t work type 2020/1104/PNA here.)
The applicant is woodlands.co.uk, responsible for all the ‘Woodland For Sale’ signs you see as you drive about, and the agent is a Chris Colley of Bangor Teifi, between Llandysul and Castell Newydd Emlyn.
There’s not so much information available about the agent. Though his Linkedin profile tells us that in addition to being the regional manager for Hanton’s company he has one of his own called Teifi Management Ltd.
Despite the name, and despite Colley living in the Teifi valley, the address for the company is in Bristol.
Though it gets a little confusing here because, even though Colley’s Linkedin page describes him as the Regional Manager, the woodlands.co.uk website gives Tamsin and Matt Brown as the managers for ‘West and South Wales and Herefordshire’.
You’ll see that Tamsin and Matt ‘run a smallholding in ‘West Wales’. Who’d have thought it!
I got to wondering what planning applications other than the one in Parkmill woodlands.co.uk and/or Chris Colley had been involved with. So I started looking.
My search started in Pembrokeshire.
This proved difficult because the Pembrokeshire planning applications doesn’t allow you to search by agent name or applicant name. So I just stuck ‘woodland’ in the Proposal Description box to see what came up. Nothing for Chris Colley or woodlands.co.uk.
Ceredigion was no better. On to Carmarthenshire.
Searching for ‘Woodland Investment Management’ turned up three planning applications. One, W/32406, through agent Chris Colley, was for the ‘Creation of a forestry road, and upgrade of existing forestry road, to facilitate the management of the wood’ at Llangarthginning farm, Meidrim.
More specifically, at Llyn Adain Gwydd, owned by woodlands.co.uk. For which planning permission was granted in July 2016.
I mentioned Llyn Adain Gwydd as an update to a post last December, Miscellany 09.12.2019. Scroll down to the section ‘One Planet Developments’ and you’ll find it tacked on at the bottom.
I know that it was for an OPD, because Neil Moyse, who lives, or lived, at Tir y Gafel aka Lammas, in Pembrokeshire, last November put in a planning application. (If it doesn’t open type W/39846 here.)
I gave further information on Neil Moyse in Miscellany 27.04.2020, scroll down to the section ‘One Planet Developments revisited, again’.
While Moyse may be going through the planning system, my local source tells me that others have rocked up at Llangarthginning and just made themselves at home. Possible thanks to Chris Colley’s access road.
Moving on . . .
The other planning applications in Carmarthenshire are both near Llansteffan, close to where the Tâf joins the Tywi. And if that sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote about an application for a OPD at Llansteffan very recently. At Pentowyn farm, to be exact.
Access to the woodland is excellent. The newly upgraded stone track leads directly off the main road through the larger woodland to the hardstanding area created at the entrance to Coed Cogan, ensuring all year round access for 2 or 4 wheel drive vehicles.’
I suspect that other lots carved out of Allt y Gelli have also been sold under various names, with the new road used as a selling point. I’m thinking of Coed Aberoedd, 4.75 acres, and Allt y Castell, 2.5 acres.
It could be that with the OPD application at Llansteffan, and Woodland Investment Management Ltd selling off OPD-size plots with new access roads, the triangle bounded by the Tywi, the Tâf and the A40 is the new promised land for enviro-colonists.
But it doesn’t end there, so let’s go back to the land of my fathers at Meidrim.
There we find that woodlands.co.uk recently sold 4.75 acres at Llangarthginning under the Tyle Tegeirian label. One lot still for sale is Coed Gafr, 6.75 acres.
These properties at Llangarthginning are accessible thanks to Carmarthenshire planners giving permission in 2016 for a ‘forestry road’, to ‘facilitate management of the wood’.
It’s clear that Woodland Investment Management and/or Christopher Colley get planning permission for ‘forestry access’ roadways that facilitate One Planet Developments.
Why has no one noticed? It’s not as if Colley is shy about it. Earlier I showed you an extract from his Linkedin profile, and though he provides little information about himself he thought it worth putting up a picture of Jane Davidson, the architect of One Planet Developments.
I suppose there’s something fitting about OPD applications becoming dishonest because the woman who introduced them is herself prone to misrepresentation. Such as calling herself ‘Dr’ on the strength of an honorary doctorate from Ponty Polytechnic.
And as if that wasn’t enough she’s also claimed to be a member of the faculty at Harvard University because of a speech she gave at a very expensive US conference for which the Welsh taxpayer picked up the bill!
Jane Davidson’s deceptions are being unravelled as I write. Watch out, Mrs Mitty!
BACK TO GOWER
Given what we’d learnt of woodlands.co.uk and Chris Colley’s modus operandi it was worth going back to the planning application in Parkmill. Especially after I’d seen the map supplied with the application.
Let me try to explain.
The land for which the access road has been applied is edged in red. I have circled, in blue, the Gower Heritage Centre; and in green, the old Mount Pisgah Chapel.
Why have I done this?
Last week I published ‘One Planet Developments’, and if you scroll down to the section ‘Brighton comes to Gower’ you’ll meet Anthony ‘Ant’ Flanagan of Cae Tân (and many other companies), who invited the Ecological Land Co-operative of Brighton to move onto land owned by Cae Tân at Ilston.
UPDATE 10.07.2020: A contribution from Ieuan Williams, who helped write the TAN 6 document authorising OPDs, provides damning criticism of the slipshod way the ECL has gone about applying for its little place in the West. It will be virtually impossible for Swansea council (or anyone else) to give planning permission after reading his letter.
The only other director of Tourism Swansea Bay is Stephen William Crocker. Crocker is the ‘Captain Croaker’ named as the ‘applicant’ for the 12 ‘farmlets’ at Dunvant. That land is owned by Dunvant SBG Ltd, and Roy Kenneth Church is the only director.
Crocker also lives in Parkmill or, to be exact, Lunnon, within shouting distance.
So many connections.
Of course, it could be pure coincidence that a fan of Jane Davidson who lays access roads for OPDs should turn up in Parkmill to do the same thing close to men who so recently tried to get planning permission for an OPD settlement.
But being the cynical old bastard I am, my reading is that this is the opening gambit in a One Planet Development.
A suspicion reinforced by the planning application reading in full: ‘New entrance track and turning bay (application for Prior Approval of Forestry Development)’. So there’s definitely more to come.
Legislating for One Planet Developments was part of a raft of measures presented to a gullible world as Wales’ contribution to combating climate change. In reality, the purpose was to anglicise our rural areas.
This element of the strategy was complemented by undermining the farming sector and telling us that the economic future of the Welsh countryside lies in tourism, care homes, and building houses fewer and fewer of us can afford.
It was understandable that the ‘urban’ Labour Party should embrace this social engineering, but Plaid Cymru supporting it was almost unbelievable. But then, if virtue signalling is your thing, then Plaid Cymru is the party for you.
Though it should have been obvious even to Labour’s Little Helpers that if OPD legislation provides a loophole allowing homes to be built in open country then it was only a matter of time before the Gaia worshippers were joined by others of a more commercial bent.
And that is what we see happening with woodlands.co.uk and its ‘forestry access roads’ to sylvan smallholdings, the Dunvant ‘farmlets’, and this planning application in Parkmill.
Carmarthenshire and other authorities need to be on their guard for further planning applications from Chris Colley and Woodland Investment Management Ltd for ‘forestry access roads’.
It should go without saying that Swansea council needs to say a very firm ‘Sod off!’ to this Parkmill application.
And London’s management team in Corruption Bay should review OPD and other legislation it enacted at the behest of strident and acquisitive groups working against the interests of the Welsh nation.
♦ end ♦
P.S. seeing as I’ve put up two posts this week, don’t expect another on Monday.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
After the Jake Berry saga it’s time to move on, though we stay on Ynys Môn for the first couple of pieces, before pushing on, even visiting the city of my dreams.
This is another ‘biggie’ but as usual with this format it’s broken down into digestible portions. So there’s no need to rush, you can take your time. Enjoy!
As we used to hear in the old black and white movies, ‘Dead men tell no tales’. Maybe not, but on Ynys Môn dead men do put in planning applications.
In the previous post, Jake Berry MP, Part 4, I mentioned a property that had swum into view in the course of my investigations into Berry’s little empire. This property may have nothing to do with him, but it became interesting in its own right when I realised that a planning application was submitted in August 2019 – by a man who died early in 2017.
Let me explain, for those who may be unfamiliar with the planning system, that you don’t need to own a property to submit a planning application. A builder, an architect, a relative, even a prospective buyer, can submit a planning application, but this must be done with the consent of the owner. Which presupposes that the owner has not departed for the celestial realm.
Now in this case on Ynys Môn the owner was long dead, and those submitting the planning application knew he was dead. We know they knew because they’d put his name on the planning application with ‘(Deceased)’ alongside it!
Which is difficult to explain; the Will was a straightforward transfer, so why didn’t the person who’d inherited the property put her name on the planning application?
Another curious feature – though it obviously links – is that the Land Registry title document still shows the late Mr Cuddy as the owner. Which might explain why, after putting out a tweet asking why the council had accepted this application from a dead man, I got a Twitter response from the Land Registry.
The LR reminded those in the thread that there is no legal obligation for anyone to update a title document. Which is unfortunately correct. But I believe we are all entitled to know the ownership of property. And money being laundered through property transactions is another reason for making immediate re-registration mandatory.
Does the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ have the power to legislate in this area? And if so, does it have the balls to do what needs to be done?
On the planning matter, I cannot believe that a dead man can be named as the applicant on a planning application. Which calls into question why Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn accepted that planning application.
Again, if this is legal, it should not be. And if the ‘Welsh Government’ can legislate to outlaw the absurdity of dead men making planning applications, then it should do so. Pronto.
Land Registry documents not updated after three years and planning applications in the name of a dead man suggest something is not quite right.
YNYS MÔN 2
I don’t want to paint Ynys Môn as Wales’ Sicily, but strange things do seem to happen there. One I dealt with fairly recently was the sale of the Shire Hall in Llangefni to Tristan Scott Haynes.
To put it mildly, Haynes has a ‘colourful’ past, but the county council saw no problem in selling him their old Shire Hall. And the sale was completed 22 August 2019 with money Haynes had borrowed from Together Commercial Finance Ltd.
The caption tells that Haynes is managing director of Chief Properties Ltd and he also runs a “successful haulage firm”.
Chief Properties was set up in August 2018 for the purpose of buying a property like the Shire Hall. The accounts tell us that the company has fixed assets of £201,942 (the Shire Hall) but is in debt to the tune of £12,460.
As for the “successful haulage firm”, well the next meeting of shareholders will be delighted to learn that Falcon Transportation Ltd‘s total net assets come to £21,282. Roughly what they were the year previously. A truck?
Go back to the caption under the photograph and you’ll read, “(Haynes) had never been to Anglesey before identifying Shire Hall as a possible location”. Which suggests that he found it online. And that any building, anywhere, might have done.
But for what purpose?
As far as I’m aware no work has been done on the Shire Hall, certainly no planning permission has been applied for, so why did Haynes borrow money to buy a building that he seems to have lost interest in?
And if the county council has washed its hands of the Shire Hall don’t the burghers of Llangefni worry about the fate of one of their town’s prime assets?
RHODRI MORGAN AND THE WDA
It’s generally agreed that despite certain failings the Welsh Development Agency was doing a good job in attracting inward investment, and to this day many people still don’t understand why it was done away with.
A comment to the previous post seemed to provide an answer:
“If any target should be in your sites (sic) in terms of Wales’s failing economy, it should be the former First Minister ‘Saint’ Rhodri Morgan. It was he, in a temper tantrum, midway through a phone call with the CEO of the Welsh Development Agency, threw his toys out of the pram when his instruction that the WDA should spend a chunk of it’s budget in a constituency of Cardiff where a certain Mrs Morgan was sitting MP. The CEO politely advised that this request could prove difficult because Cardiff was not in an EU Assisted Area . . . A person present . . . related that the First Minister threw his phone across the room. When he had calmed down (10 minutes later) he rang the CEO back and said that he was scrapping the WDA and bringing it’s functions under Assembly control. The CEO replied ‘Congratulations First Minster, you have just ruined the economy of Wales’ . . . In the 1980’s, 1990’s and into the 2000’s Wales, largely but not exclusively, due to WDA activities, secured 22% of all inward investment into the UK, an incredible achievement . . . Sadly, the Assembly, with it’s suspicion and dislike of any ‘specialisms’ and groaning under the dead hand of so many ‘Sir Humphreys’ presided over the rapid decline of inward investment so that today, it stands at 2% of the UK figure. When the WDA was scrapped, Development Agencies in other countries were delighted . . . I was present at the party held by the Scottish Development Agency to celebrate the demise of it’s principal competitor for inward investment. English Estates, the Development Agency for England, was equally delighted for the same reason. That’s the real story of Wales’s decline as an economic force . . . It will be a huge challenge to reverse this decline, but with the right approach, and a massive change of attitude in Cardiff Bay it conceivably could be achieved.”
This contribution was reinforced in an e-mail from another source which, after a few tweaks, I’m allowed to publish as you see below. This source was also close to the action at the time in question.
“I don’t know (the writer of the comment), but the account with regard to Graham Hawker (CEO) telling Rhodri Morgan he’s screwed the Welsh economy is correct.
While there is much talked about the WDA and it’s dealings in its early to mid years, in its later life it was an organisation of people (predominantly Welsh people) who actually gave a fuck about trying to lift the prosperity of the country. To this day, I am convinced that the termination of the WDA was done out of both jealousy by Welsh Gov and also a disregard by WDA to service the needs and wants of Ministers as they became more and more demanding for information from the organisation. It was not designed to service Welsh Government. It was designed to deliver economic development to external customers and it did it well.
To be fair to Hawker, he had instigated a re-organisation programme that would have addressed some of the issues, but Morgan had made his decision for the bonfire of the quangos. Hawker had resigned in front of Senedd committee. He made Morgan look stupid, who then asked him publicly to reconsider his resignation. He didn’t and he left.
Following Hawker, Gareth Hall was installed as Welsh Gov’s puppet CEO. Rhodri Morgan stated publicly that WDA staff would not see any change in the transition to Welsh Gov. That was total bollocks. There was a culture of cleansing any entrepreneurial spirit and drive in the organisation and a clear move from answering to the WDA board to Ministers. Hall was very close to Marc Clement of Swansea Uni fame. The WDA was being steered by Andrew Davies as Econ Dev Minister at the time, again with close links to Swansea. Make of that what you will.
It is clear that the politicisation of economic development has killed off any hope of raising Wales’s GDP above 75% of the UK average. We are still below it and I blame total and utter mismanagement of EU funds coupled with what you write about regularly – pushing funding to the third sector ‘economy’, crap pet projects (Cardiff Airport) and shysters.
Welsh Gov is a broken organisation. It cannot deliver economic development, full stop.
The wind up of the WDA is a case study of how to destroy exemplar economic development practice and then replacing it with fantasy policies of inclusion, sustainable development, socialist ideologies and then paying those organisations who advocate such tripe to turn up in the Senedd committees to back you up.”
Most students of Welsh politics know that Rhodri Morgan was the kind of man Doctor Johnson would have described as ‘clubbable’; a man who could be relied on for the witty quip or the diverting anecdote, but hard work was not really his bag.
The manner of the WDA’s demise tells us a lot about Rhodri Morgan and the Labour Party. Both quite happy to destroy what they cannot control however damaging such a course of action might be for Wales.
The incident also exposes the damning contradiction of ‘Welsh’ Labour – forever banging on about employment, blaming ‘London’ or the Tories for Wales not having enough decent jobs, but the beast itself is ideologically and temperamentally opposed to the business and commerce that would provide good jobs because it cannot control them.
‘Keep Wales poor, keep Wales dependent, keep Wales voting Labour’?
The first source reminds us that with the WDA gone Wales’ share of the UK’s inward investment fell from 22% to 2%. While the second source tells that the loss of the WDA saw the rise of the third sector, which is under the control of the Labour Party because the ‘Welsh Government’ controls the purse funding.
To the point where, in the parallel dimension that is Wales, third sector bosses receive awards for achievements in business.
From 2007 until 2011 Labour was in coalition with Plaid Cymru, but Plaid made no attempt to bring back the WDA, for Plaid Cymru is another party made up of social workers, academics and others who think making profits and creating jobs is dirty.
‘Filthy capitalism, innit!’
Much better to live on hand-outs from England. Then enjoy the power of patronage that goes with distributing someone else’s money without the bother of creating it. That is, without the hard work involved organising a national economy.
Which is exactly how the Labour Party views devolution.
And explains why the cycle of decline will continue after next May’s election when Labour will fall short of a majority and need another coalition with Plaid Cymru to stay in power. Plaid Cymru will jump at the opportunity.
And Wales will continue to decline . . . with regular ‘dead cat on the table’ episodes of virtue signalling.
BRIGHTON GREENS DISCOVER GOWER
In my younger days I spent a lot of time on Gower. Oh yes. An aunt and uncle had a house above Port Eynon when such properties could be bought cheaply because most tourists came from within a radius of 40 or 50 miles. They came for a day trip or a holiday, but few of them thought of moving there permanently.
It was on their doorstep, they could visit whenever they liked.
School holidays spent crabbing at Port Eynon were succeeded by teenage years fishing just about everywhere for bass, with Worm’s Head a favourite spot.
In the twenty-first century it was inevitable I suppose that Gower would attract the eco-colonists, those who want to ‘live off the land’ . . . usually someone else’s land, often thanks to big dollops of public funding, and invariably by ignoring planning regulations.
And lo! it has come to pass.
To read the WalesOnline report from which the above image is taken just click here.
The Furzehill project is the brainchild of the Ecological Land Cooperative of Brighton. That is Brighton on the south coast of England. What attracts them to Wales is the One Planet lunacy, which proclaims that in order to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint people must be attracted to Wales to farm virgin land, burn wood, drive vehicles, and generally impose themselves on what were often pristine landscapes.
This is virtue signalling, big time, introduced when Jane Davidson was Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing from 2007 to 2011. This may also have been the period when the ‘Welsh Government’s ‘All Farmers are Bastards’ strategy was formulated. (Was ‘Game Show Gary’ [ahem] ‘advising’ Davidson?)
Nominally, Davidson was AM for Pontypridd, but she didn’t give a toss about Ponty. She was in Corruption Bay to promote her environmentalist friends’ agenda. The rest of the Labour Party could see the advantage in this because it gave scope for virtue signalling on a global stage while putting the boot into rural electorates that refuse to vote Labour.
Davidson went on to become an academic (of sorts) and an even more outspoken advocate for eco-invaders like herself.
Here’s Davidson’s book on her work in government that culminated in One Planet Developments (OPD) and Future Generations legislation. Which have done nothing for us Welsh (it wasn’t intended to) but has achieved brownie points for a party and a system that, while running Wales into the ground, gets plaudits from people like Nikhil Seth who know sod all about Wales.
Furzehill is important, and should be watched, for the following reason.
Up until now OPDs have argued that they improve marginal land or even bring life back to abandoned farms. But Gower is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AOUB). The first area given AOUB status in the whole of this island.
I expect Swansea council to refuse planning permission for these ‘hobbit houses’. If that happens, then there will almost certainly be an appeal to the ‘Welsh Government’. And if those clowns allow the Furzehill project to proceed then National Parks will be the next target for the eco-colonists.
For those unfamiliar with the area, the Llansamlet ward is on the east side of Swansea, above Bonymaen and east of Morriston, straddling the M4. At its edge, Birchgrove runs into Skewen merging Swansea with Neath.
It was an area where the Welsh language was still strong when I was a boy, and Swansea’s first Plaid Cymru councillor was elected by Llansamlet’s voters in the youthful form of my old mate Dr John Ball.
Since then, it’s been pretty much downhill. The ward has been represented by a succession of Old Labour time-servers, enlivened recently by a few exotic imports.
I’m thinking now of Robert (‘call me Bob’) Clay, privately-educated former MP for Sunderland North and his Austrian-born wife Uta. Both moved on in 2017 and I’m told that these devout Marxists now live in a very agreeable detached property in rural Carmarthenshire.
Llansamlet returned another four Labour councillors at the 2017 elections, among them Maureen ‘Mo’ Sykes, of whom I have written before. To remind you . . . Mo Sykes was CEO of YMCA Wales yet under her ‘leadership’ things went to hell. To the extent that YMCA Wales ceased to exist.
The organisation leaked money, she herself left under a big cloud in July 2014, YMCA Wales went into administration in September, the jewel in the crown – Newgale Outdoor Education Centre in Pembrokeshire – was flogged off for £507,000 in June 2015, and the abandoned branches of YMCA Wales were told to affiliate to YMCA England.
They were welcomed with open arms by YMCA England for adopting the ‘national brand’.
So in the age of devolution we took another step backward. The ‘Welsh Government’, which had funded Mo Sykes and should have been asking what the fuck had gone wrong, showed no interest. After buying a nice detached house on a quiet street in Clydach (for a surprisingly low price) Sykes was handed a safe seat for the 2017 city council elections.
And now, if my sources are correct, she’s going home to the Six Counties after living off the public purse for years and doing her bit to integrate Wales into England.
If so, good riddance.
LEENA SARAH FARHAT
Soon after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis Nation.Cymru insulted us with an article by Leena Sarah Farhat telling us that Wales was full of racist cops. I made a comment, suggesting she apologise to our police, but my comment was removed. Bizarrely, left up were comments from an unhinged wokie (not from Muskogee) attacking me in very personal terms!
This moron seemed to think I’d deleted my comment, and even when told he’d taken a wrong turn he kept marching purposefully into the bog. I’ve had dealings with him before, and he’s typical of his kind. Because I’d called him ‘little boy’ or something he tried to brand me a paedophile by suggesting I thought I was dealing with a child!
No, ‘Alan’, I’m know exactly what I’m dealing with, son. A twat.
It got so fractious on the state-subsidised mouthpiece for Plaid Cymru run by the saintly Ifan Morgan Jones that he had to pull all the comments. Something he had to do again on Friday when reporting that Martin Shipton, Chief Correspondent of the Western Mail, had lost his judging job at the Book of the Year Awards, run by Literature Wales, after being targeted by the wokies. (Tell me about it!)
(And if you want a definition of colonial establishment, look no further than Literature Wales.)
But I digress. Who is Leena Sarah Farhat?
From what I could gather, she works at Aberystwyth University. She is also Diversity Officer for the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and their candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. I’m sure she knows Castell Newydd Emlyn and Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn like the back of her delicate hand.
Anyway, later that evening I had one of the strange e-mails I get quite regularly. What I’m describing is the internet age’s equivalent of some bloke emerging out the shadows, collar pulled up and hat pulled down, looking furtively around before handing me the slip of paper that will unravel the mystery.
Or maybe I watch too much film noir.
The terse message contained a link, which I was loath to open in case it contained a virus. But I took a chance and the link took me here. To begin with, I wasn’t sure where I’d landed (I feared it might be one of those pornographical sites I’ve read about), but as I took it in I realised it was some kind of social media platform with people asking Leena Sarah Farhat questions.
Some of her answers were quite strange, others disturbing. Here’s a selection.
Make of it what you will, but here’s my interpretation. Here we have another ‘progressive’ party desperate to be seen to be ‘inclusive’ recruiting someone on whom they haven’t done enough checks, and who turns out to be, if not anti-Semitic, then certainly tacking towards that port of call.
With Plaid Cymru it was Sahar Al-Faifi, with Labour . . . well, take your pick, and now, not to be left out, the Lib Dems will incur the wrath of the Board of Deputies. Good.
What’s more, Agxio is a one-man band, and that one man is Dr Stephen Christie. To read Dr Christie’s Linkedin bio he’s been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. It’s only a matter of time before that photo on his mantelpiece of great-uncle Hamish in his pith helmet makes way for a Nobel Prize.
From Linkedin we learn that since 2011 Christie has been CEO of Neural Insights Ltd, another company based in Dorking. His wife is the only other director. The latest accounts show a company where liabilities exceed assets, though the figures are small. The accounts are ‘filleted’.
Then there’s his chairmanship of MemberMatch Ltd, which helps golfists find playing partners. But he doesn’t seem to have ever been a director, let alone chairman. The latest unaudited financial statement reveals another company in the red.
Dr Christie’s only other extant company, formed in August 2018, is Inbotiqa Ltd. This has Net Liabilities of £107,131 for 2019; which was, admittedly, a big improvement on 2018. The accounts are unaudited.
And it looks similar with Agxio, which is getting funding from the Development Bank of Wales. Dr Currie seems to have spent a great deal of his time figuring out the share issues, just check the filing history.
Don’t get me wrong, Dr Stephen Christie might be a very clever bloke, but his greatest talent may be issuing and selling shares rather than producing anything, or creating jobs.
Furthermore, his ‘presence’ in Aberystwyth may be no more than a letter-box, and so I question whether Agxio should be receiving a penny of Welsh public funding.
To begin with, Coronavirus seems to have impacted on the Conservative vote as if the party’s voters had been confined to care homes; down 11 percentage points from the April poll to 35% for Westminster elections. Labour is up 4 to 39% and Plaid Cymru also up 4 to 15%.
For Welsh Parliament elections, the figures are (constituency first, list second):
Those figures were fairly predictable. Of more interest were the responses when people were asked questions such as: “If there was a referendum tomorrow on Wales becoming an independent country and this was the question, how would you vote? Should Wales be an independent country?”
In answer, 25% said Yes, but 54% said No. When asked whether the Assembly should be abolished, 25% said Yes, 48% said No.
To the multi-option constitutional question the responses were:
As you’re probably aware, a great deal has been made of a figure of 33% in favour of independence. This figure is only arrived at when respondents are given the stark choice between doing away with devolution or going for independence. When the returns were:
Certainly, these findings are generally encouraging. But there’s a long way to go. What I extrapolate from these polls is the following:
Devolution is increasingly discredited. After more than two decades of failure it is under pressure from both those who want independence and those who want integration with England. (Which is what abolishing the Senedd would amount to.)
Plaid Cymru is making little progress despite the increase in numbers prepared to consider independence. There is clearly scope for other parties, especially if those parties are more focused on Wales and Welsh issues.
No account is taken in these polls of how events in Scotland could impact on Wales. I believe that Scotland becoming independent would greatly increase the numbers in Wales choosing independence.
There’s a lot to play for in next year’s elections. And beyond.
As you may know, following a complaint by Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen, currently building a property empire on Ynys Môn, Facebook took down the links I’d posted to the articles about him on this blog.
Well now I’m locked out of my Facebook account altogether, yet it appears to still be open to others. There seems to be no appeal process so is there any way I can just close my Facebook page?
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! Perhaps thinking, ‘Nobody’s buying this crap, are they?’
But let’s not dwell in the past; let’s ask what the future holds for the Cofis. For a start, it’s more tourism, more, ‘Wales – England’s Playground’. Though these plans outdo even the Gruesome Twosome.
Though I warn you, it now gets a wee bit complicated, and I might digress. But I think it’s worth sticking with it.
The company reported as being behind the project is Maybrook Investments, of Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. Though also involved is Landal Greenparks, a Dutch company owned by Wyndham Destinations of the USA.
The Welsh involvement is limited to input from Cadnant Planning and architectural firm Dewis. Perhaps these have been given the work in the belief that local firms would be more likely to secure planning approval. Which has yet to be granted.
There’s plenty of information available on major companies Landal and Wyndham, so I’m going to focus on Maybrook Investments which, unlike those two, has no vast website and very little information of any kind. But we’ll dig anyway.
Of the 100 shares issued, 99 are held by Peter Brendan Gerrard O’Dowd and 1 by Noreen O’Dowd. There are 7 outstanding charges for assorted properties, mainly in north west England.
The latest unaudited financial statement suggests a company in pretty good financial health, though a different valuation might not agree that the company’s investment portfolio is worth almost six million pounds.
Next stop was the Land Registry, for a map search of the site, and this is what I turned up. But now it gets rather complicated, for not only does the title record involve the Crown Estate and the ‘Welsh Government’ but there are various covenants and restrictions.
The Ferodo site was bought in July 2015 for £234,000 by the St Francis Group (Caernarfon) Ltd, which began life 10.06.2015. The last of the original directors left in December 2017 when O’Dowd joined. The name was changed to Bryn Coch Ltd in January 2018.
Maybrook Investments is now the sole shareholder. The two charges against this company (one satisfied) correspond with the number on the title document I’ve just linked with, CYM63599.
These two charges being dated 18.12.2017 and 22.06.2018 suggests they were not used to make the purchase in 2015 but taken out later for some other purpose, with the Ferodo site used as security.
Let us now go back further and check on the history of this site.
Page 3 of the title document seems to deal with rights of access and then, at the end, a transfer of land relating to the other title on the site.
From my reading of the title document for CYM63599, by 2009 the Ferodo site had passed to the ownership or custodianship of ‘The Welsh Ministers’, who then sold it to Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd. The purchase is covered in these charges, taken out 2007 – 2009 which remain outstanding.
But why was Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd set up in July 2007 almost two years before the transfer of May 2009?
Bluefield Land took out loans amounting to millions of pounds (also still outstanding) with the Julian Hodge Bank Ltd. The company’s address was at Tŷ To Maen Farm in Old St Mellons. (Which for some reason rings a bell.)
Was the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales involved in the sale of the Ferodo site?
If I had more time (and if this investigation wasn’t making me lose the will to live!), I’d push on because I’m sure there’s a lot to unearth. This may not be a straightforward application by a guy who owns the Ferodo site hoping to involve major players in some over-hyped holiday camp.
If I was Cyngor Gwynedd I would be asking a lot of questions before even considering this site for planning approval.
For a start, Maybrook Investments Ltd doesn’t seem to own the whole of the old Ferodo site. So is the other title holder involved? (There was an option to buy dated February 2009, but has it been exercised?)
Then, if we go to the title document for the land apparently owned by Bryn Coch Ltd we see, at the top of page 4, the extract below. As we know, Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd was dissolved in January 2016. All the shares were owned by Dauson Environmental Group Ltd. So does this company retain whatever rights are referred to?
Turning to the entry numbered 9, Bluefield Caernarfon Management Ltd also went belly-up in January 2016. The shares here were held by Bluefield Land Ltd (35 shares) and Twenty20 Homes Ltd (65 shares).
Companies associated with the Ferodo site were going down like flies that month!
The shares in Twenty20 Homes were held by Macob Property Holdings Ltd (13,500 shares) and Paul Christopher Markey of Porthcawl (1,500 shares). Macob Property Holdings is undergoing a very long process of liquidation; owing Barclays Bank over £7m (‘before interest and charges’) at the start of the process.
Where does this leave the ‘rights granted by a deed . . . (to) Bluefield Caernarfon Management Ltd for a term of 75 years from 7 April 2009′?
What ‘rights’ were they? Have they been nullified? Have they been transferred? Maybe they’re still held by shareholders, or creditors? Or have they reverted to ‘The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty’?
This project on the old Ferodo site was a bit opaque to start with. A small-time property dealer trying to break into the big time, with a vague association with major players. While in the background we see a swirling mess of interlinked companies shuffling money between them, taking out huge loans and then going bust!
If I was Cyngor Gwynedd I’d be asking who owns what and who might still have claim on the Ferodo site and anything built on it.
As I wrote, “Ellergreen Hydro is based in the English Lake District and seems to be part of a group of companies bearing the name. These are run – in various guises and through assorted holding companies – by the Cropper family, headed by Sir James Anthony Cropper.”
Concerned locals at Mynydd Llandygai have been in touch to tell me that something odd is going on as Cyngor Gwynedd bends over backwards to accommodate a group that has invited Ellergreen Hydro to install a project on Afon Galedffrwd.
To begin with, I’m told that the project is being pushed through by stealth, with the local community not being properly notified and updated.
Then, it’s alleged that the application form has been ‘modified’. For a source insists that the original application – accepted by the council – stated “that the nearest building to the power station is ‘several hundred yards away’ when actually there are houses within 50 yards of it and an industrial unit and 10 plus houses within 100 yards.”
It’s said the council’s planners knew this, but still accepted the incorrect information.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, go to the council planning portal and you’ll find three letters of support. There were many more letters objecting . . . but they seem to have disappeared!
Anyway, let’s look at the planning application, for it contains a few entries to raise a smile, or have you scratching your head. The applicant is Mrs Jenny Wong of Coetir Mynydd (of which more in a minute) who lives in Bethesda . . . in the Vale of Glamorgan!
The agent is Adam Cropper of Ellergreen Hydro, who gives an address in Penarth, which really is in the Vale of Glamorgan. But as we know, Ellergreen is based in the Lake District, so Pod 3, Avon House is just an accommodation address.
Scroll down to box 27 and we see that the land needed for the project seems to be partly owned by the Penrhyn Estate; partly owned by Rite Goswami of Yr Ocar, Coed y Parc (which is either a B&B or a self-catering holiday let, maybe both); and partly owned by the aforementioned Mrs Wong on behalf of Coetir Mynydd.
Locals also wonder who’s paying, and who’s benefiting, for despite promises of ‘community benefits’ in the form of cheaper energy for all, many remain sceptical.
According to Robert Owen Community Banking, shares for similar schemes nearby, ” . . . cost £50, and there is a minimum holding of five shares (£250)”. Later in the article we read that the shares are to be sold online.
Two hundred and fifty pounds might be too much for some locals, and if shares are to be sold online then anyone can buy them. So how local are these schemes?
We have a ‘local’ group, made up mainly it seems of good-lifers and planet-botherers, an English energy company, landowners including Lord Penrhyn (whose ancestor caused the longest strike in history), the mysterious Alex Ferraro of Penarth(?), and shares perhaps being sold online.
What we seem to have here, again, is Plaid Cymru, in the form of Cyngor Gwynedd, unable to resist any scheme claiming environmental credentials. And when the sales pitch is delivered in a middle class English accent they go all wobbly at the knees.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
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!