Bristol Fashion, Local Benefits, Magic Wallpaper, Island In The Sun, Maasai Resistance, Gilestone Update

This week I bring yet more tales of colonialism dressed up as ‘saving the planet’; involving assorted enviroshysters, multifarious con men; all aided, abetted, and funded, by those collaborating buffoons down Corruption Bay.

This is another biggie, but broken down into easily-digestible chunks. (Add condiments and flavourings to taste.)

BRISTOL FASHION

Let’s begin with a piece from the Cambrian News, a ‘paper that circulates along Cardigan Bay, with its main office in Aberystwyth.

For reasons I’ve never been able to fathom, I’m blocked from the CN Twitter account. Me! I can only assume it’s a case of mistaken identity.

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The story we’re going to look at tells that the National Trust is to take over the running of the Hafod (Uchtryd) Estate, inland of Aberystwyth, just east of Pont-Rhyd-y-Groes. The estate seems to be owned by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and run in partnership with the Hafod Trust (HT).

Here’s the leaflet on Hafod issued by NRW.

Though when I tried to find out from the Land Registry website who owns what I drew a blank. Using the LR map search brought up what you see below. Yet this area must be part of the estate, with Hafod church, the public park, even a car park.

It was the same across the whole site, apart from the individual dwellings. Nor could I find a definitive map of the estate.

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But as I say, it seems NRW owns the estate, but leases it to HT. Confirmed by the HT accounts referring to a holiday cottage known as Hawthorne Cottage / Pwll Pendre, and the title document saying this property was leased in December 2000 for 25 years from The National Assembly for Wales.

It could be the same lease arrangement for the whole estate. So, with the lease coming to an end in just over three years, NRW and / or the ‘Welsh Government’ decided that instead of renewing the lease with the Hafod Trust they’d turn to the National Trust.

I suspect the Hafod Trust has been largely left to its own devices at the estate, but now it looks as if it’s either relinquishing control over Hafod, or else it’s being elbowed out.

The Hafod Trust had one full-time and a few part-time employees. These are joining the National Trust.

What we see happening at Hafod is in keeping with NRW’s activities. Which include undermining Welsh agriculture, encouraging corporate greenwash, and giving away bits of Wales to enviroshysters and assorted bodies from over the Dyke.

Or else buying land as a stage for its own planet-saver posturing.

At Hafod the beneficiary is a quintessentially English organisation, the National Trust. Yes, it adds ‘Cymru’ to fool gullible natives, but fundamentally it remains manicured lawns, print frocks, and, “More tea, vicar?

Though there was attempted infiltration by Wokies. So maybe now it’s, “Pour your own tea, you myth-peddling, white supremacist running-dog of imperialism”.

Or not, as the case may be.

Whatever, here’s how the takeover is described on the NT website.

Note, “National Trust Cymru and Natural Resources Wales have come together with support from Welsh Government to secure the estate’s future.” This, I assume, means financial support.

But why should the ‘Welsh Government’ pay a wealthy organisation like the National Trust anything to take over an asset from which the NT is guaranteed to make money?

Any payment should have been by the National Trust to the ‘Welsh Government’, which is entrusted with getting the best possible value from the disposal of publicly-owned assets.

And there was no mention of the HT trustees. Though a few other people are mentioned.

First, there’s Lhosa Daly, the “Interim Director of National Trust Cymru”.

Then there’s Clare Pillman, chief executive of Natural Resources Wales. She has a fascinating background, and has been involved in numerous extravaganzas of the ‘Rule Britannia’ variety.

Finally, speaking for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ we have, “Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden“. Which a correspondent thought was odd, wondering why it wasn’t someone with an environmental or conservation portfolio.

He has a point. But after a bit of digging, it all became clear. Certainly after seeing Daly’s Twitter account.

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Daly is a solicitor, and has been chair of the Bristol branch of the Institute of Directors. She first came to Wales in September 2018 to work for the National Trust as assistant director of operations for South Wales.

She gives as her location on Twitter, “Western Gateway”. Which seems to have begun life as a ‘Sub-national Transport Body’ for local authorities in south west England, but has somehow morphed into a plan for a cross-border “powerhouse”.

In other words, the Greater Bristol Region.

Daly was appointed to the Western Gateway board just over a year ago. Which I find interesting. For she joins the Greater Bristol gang and then she’s made head of the National Trust in Wales. Are these appointments connected?

I ask because I’m sure the National Trust in Wales will be one of the bodies contributing to the development of the ‘Western Gateway’, ostensibly speaking for Wales.

Which hat will Lhosa Daly be wearing?

Oh, I almost forgot, she would also have the option of wearing her Wales Arts Council hat.

I’m certain Ms Daly lives in Bristol. Which is fitting, because Dawn Bowden, the Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, who has been instrumental in the deal for the NT to take over Hafod, is also from Bristol.

Did Bowden and Lhosa Daly know each other before the discussions over the Hafod Estate? And if it wasn’t due to the Bristol connection, why was Bowden involved at all? It’s outside her remit.

The map below shows Hafod Estate contains a lot of trees, part of which is said to be a “working forest”. But if Hafod is to be devoted to tourism (which is what the National Trust is all about) will there be a place for a commercial timber operation?

Perhaps not. But as we know, nowadays there are other ways of making money from trees – without touching them! And so I predict that Hafod will prove a nice little earner for the National Trust.

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One of the first acts of a devolved government should have been setting up a Welsh organisation to do the work of the National Trust. A body looking after our heritage, on our behalf, and answering to us, the Welsh people. But the opportunity was spurned.

Which is why, after 23 years of devolution, we are discussing an Englishwoman representing our ‘Welsh Government’; another, Natural Resources Wales; with the two handing over another Welsh treasure to an English organisation run locally by a third Englishwoman.

This is colonialism. And even without the Bristol connection, this reeks of yet another ‘Welsh Government’ gift to a favoured body in a deal done behind closed doors with no pretence of a tendering process.

LOCAL BENEFITS (WELL, LOCAL TO SOMEWHERE)

The next report also comes from the Cambrian News, and concerns that other enviroshyster money-spinner – wind turbines.

Specifically, a test mast to be erected at Bryn Brawd, the highest point in an area described in the caption accompanying the image used by the CN as being, “on the outskirts of Llanddewi Brefi”.

In fact, it’s quite some distance from the south-eastern suburbs of that metropolis lying between Cwmann and Tregaron.

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On the plus side, the company involved is Waun Maenllwyd Wind Energy Hub Ltd. Probably a Welsh company. Phew!

Well . . .

There is indeed a company of that name but – and you won’t believe this – it’s based in Bristol! And until March this year it was known as BPUWL 11 Ltd. In fact, there’s a slew of companies using those letters as a name.

One of them, BPUWL 16 Ltd, also changed its name in March, to Craig y Geifr Wind Energy Hub Ltd. It shares the Bristol office address, and officers, with Maenllwyd Wind Energy Hub Ltd.

From what I’ve learnt, Craig y Geifr is a ridge or an escarpment between Nant-y-Moel in the Ogwr Valley and Pentre in the Rhondda.

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And it looks to be quite a beautiful area. A reminder of what our southern valleys were like before industrialisation.

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Seeing as there are plantations close to Craig y Geifr, I assume that the land is owned by Natural Resources Wales. As for Bryn Brawd, I’m not sure. Unfortunately, the Land Registry offers no help.

So let’s focus on the two companies, Waun Maenllwyd Wind Energy Hub Ltd and Craig y Geifr Wind Energy Hub Ltd. What can the Companies House website tell us?

Now pay attention, because this may not be easy to follow.

When we click on the ‘People’ tab, and then, ‘Persons with significant control‘, we bring up the name, Belltown Power UK Wind Ltd. When we find the entry for this company, and go through the same procedure, we bring up Foresight Belltown UK Wind Development Ltd.

Following the pattern with Foresight Belltown UK Wind Development Ltd we bring up Blackmead Infrastructure Ltd. Same procedure for Blackmead brings up Averon Park Ltd.

Wee digression.

Averon Park has three directors. One is Philip Lloyd-Jones, described as ‘adviser’. The name is Welsh, so I got to wondering. And I found a solicitor of that name in Mold. Though since early in 2018 the practice has been part of Gamlins.

Unusually, for an enquiry like this, Gamlins is a Welsh company. Though Philip Lloyd-Jones is not listed among the directors. But we do find Vernon Oliver in what would otherwise be a Welsh girl band.

But I digress! Again.

Returning to Averon Park, all but one of the shares are held by Foresight Fund Managers Ltd. Which is in turn owned by Foresight Group Holdings (UK) Ltd. And, finally, Foresight Group Holdings (UK) Ltd is owned by Foresight Group founder Bernard William Fairman, using a Guernsey address.

The name ‘Foresight’ should ring a bell. These are the buggers who, thanks to the encouragement of the ‘Welsh Government’, have been buying up farms on which they’re going to plant ‘carbon capture’ trees.

Having received so much bad publicity over the trees scam it looks as if Foresight might be switching to wind farms. But staying in Wales because those assholes in Corruption Bay are such a pushover.

But of course Foresight only manage other people’s money. In the case of the two windfarms we’ve looked at, the clue as to whose money it could be might be found in the ‘Belltown’ element of the names.

Because I suspect that Foresight has linked up with Belltown Power, a company now based in London but founded by US citizen Michael Joshua Kaplan.

North Data provides some information on Kaplan. Beneath the Network diagram it lists various companies, and the top one, Awel Newydd Cyf – owned through Petersham Holdco Ltd – should interest my Welsh readers.

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I can’t tell you much more about this company, I certainly couldn’t find a website, only various company profiles. What I do know is that it’s linked to Foresight, it was based in Bristol, though one entry gives an address in Mold.

Now who do we know in Mold? Thinks . . .

The accounts for y/e April 1, 2021 show ‘Plant and Machinery’ valued at £53,672,808 (before depreciation). That kind of money is not to be sniffed at.

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How come we haven’t heard of this great Welsh success story?

I’ll spare you another twisty-turny route, but ultimate ownership of Awel Newydd Cyf rests with Stephen George Geddes, who’s married to Clarissa vom Hagen-Plettenberg, is the grandson of the 1st Baron Geddes, and great-grandson of Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria.

Takes me back to fin de siècle Vienna! You should have seen me in my hussars uniform! Waltzing the night away. 

That may all have come crashing down in 1918, but over a hundred years later we find Hapsburg descendants exploiting us!

Staying with Foresight, it seems they’re busy across Wales.

These links tell they’re in league with Tilhill Forestry and Coleg Cambria Llysfai in the north east. But Foresight is based in the Shard! Those working for Foresight don’t know one bloody tree from another. But here they are burnishing their environmental credentials by paying Tilhill to give courses.

There’s even a video!

And Foresight seems to be embedded in the ‘Welsh Government’, for the name crops up everywhere in WG publications. Such as here (page 22).

Finally, and most worryingly of all, Foresight is allowed to brainwash young children. Here they are, again collaborating with Tilhill, using kids from Talyllychau to plant trees on a farm Foresight has bought!

Did Carmarthenshire education authority know about this insulting bullshit? What the hell was the teacher thinking to allow the kids in his care to be brainwashed by a company buying up local farms?

And have you heard of a ‘seed portfolio transaction‘? No, nor me. But that’s the kind of business Foresight is doing at Banc Farm, where those kids were exploited.

There’s more information here. It looks as if money is being made by Foresight before the trees are even planted.

‘PSSST, I GOT A GREAT IDEA’

At a recent gathering of the Honourable Company of Magic Bean Salesmen many toasts were drunk to the ‘Welsh Government’ and associated bodies.

Hardly surprising when we recall how many schemes of dubious merit (I will say no more than that!) have received funding in Wales. A new one came to my attention a few weeks ago.

Here’s a report showing Julie James, Environment Minister in the ‘Welsh Government’ looking interested in magic wallpaper that it’s claimed can replace radiators as a source of heat. James should be interested because her lot are funding this project for Melin Homes in Torfaen.

“Do it come in a nice red flock? Cos our tŷ bach is cowin’ freezin’ in the winter. Send some round to my office, love”. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

So who is the lucky recipient of this ‘Welsh Government’ largesse? The company mentioned is NextGen. So, you know me . . .

There are many, many ‘NextGen’ companies, but we need to look at this one. Despite the quite impressive website, NextGen Heating Ltd is a one-man band, and it’s in debt.

Not a great start.

The sole director is Clive David Osborne. Yet in all the reports on the ‘magic wallpaper’ his name was never mentioned, just the incomplete and misleading name of his company. So what’s his record?

I’ve drawn up a list of companies he’s been involved with in recent years. There have been others, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he played a minor role in their demise.

I’ve included Crush Holdings because it may link with something else I’ll be telling you.

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With so many failures I began to wonder how he kept the wolf (re-introduced to Berkshire in a rewilding project) from his door. The answer may be provided by the Paradise Papers.

For Clive David Osborne is linked to an enterprise in Malta. An island where just about anything goes. “You want an EU passport, Mr Putin? No problemo”. “You want an annoying blogger whacked? Leave it to us”.

Here’s the link. (The nodes are moveable.)

It tells us that Osborne is director, secretary, and judicial representative for Mosta Electronics Centre on Constitution Street in the town of Mosta. Though the website only mentions founder, Joseph Zerata.

The Mosta Electronics emporium in Mosta, Malta. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

So what is the connection between Clive David Osborne and the Mosta Electronics Centre? I can’t know for sure, but one possibility might take us back to his flirtation with those Sons of Nippon.

For a bloke in the pub told me it’s possible to buy equipment online that can access satellite TV, for free, and that this equipment can be had from certain Mediterranean islands where rules about such things are somewhat lax.

Alternatively, and seeing as Mosta Electronics sells Chinese brands such as (the German-sounding) Haier, maybe this ‘magic wallpaper’ technology comes from the land of the Uyghur concentration camps. A country whose most noteworthy contribution to humanity in recent years has been Covid.

Whatever the answer, we know enough about Clive David Osborne to ask why the hell Melin Homes let him in the door, and why the ‘Welsh Government’ is funding his ‘magic wallpaper’.

I look forward to hearing the answers.

ISLAND IN THE SUN

The Conservative and Unionist Party MP for Ynys Môn is Virginia Crosbie, and she’s appeared on this blog in the recent past. This was when Covid first hit and questions were being asked about where she was living, and whether she was breaking lockdown.

Similar questions were asked of her friend and parliamentary colleague, Jake Berry, who owns a number of properties in the constituency she represents. Questions were also being asked about his movements during the pandemic.

Just type their names into the search box to get more information.

The reason you’re reading about Crosbie is due to her opposition to a 1200-acre solar farm on the island. And anti-nuclear lefties telling her to “smell the coffee”. (Do people still use that silly expression?)

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Let me make clear that I was against the proposed Wylfa B because the construction phase would have damaged a fragile cultural identity, and that’s without considering the strain that would be put on local infrastructure and housing by thousands of workers, almost all of whom would come from outside of Wales.

But I am not opposed to nuclear in principle, and there are smaller options to Wylfa B.

The company behind this solar array is Lightsource BP Renewable Energy Investments Ltd. Here’s their website, and here’s their Companies House entry.

Previously known as Lightsource Renewable Investments Ltd, and then Lightsource Renewable Energy Investments Ltd, the ‘BP’ was added in February 2018 when BP Alternative Energy Investments Ltd (formerly BP Biofuels UK Ltd) took over.

Fossil fuel giant BP getting into renewables is the most obvious kind of greenwash.

But don’t get me wrong, old Jac’s got nothing against oil and gas, because I’ve still got enough operational grey matter to know that we can’t live well without them, whether there’s a war in eastern Europe or not.

What’s more, I know who’s pushing us towards expensive and unreliable alternatives to oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. And I know why they’re doing it. They are not friends of Western society.

If the ‘Welsh Government’, and our local authorities, were sincere in their commitment to the environment, they’d tell BP and all the other enviroshysters to reduce their carbon footprint rather than cover good land with wind turbines, solar farms, and sterile, monoculture forests.

But that would deny our politicians the opportunities they crave to ponce around and posture, claiming to be saving the planet. 

Because that’s what it’s all about – political posturing.

MAASAI RESISTANCE

Let me draw your attention to something happening in east Africa. As I understand it, the Tanzanian government has agreed to enclose land for ‘reserves’ on which Gulf royals can go trophy shooting.

There are so many wrong things bundled up in what I’ve just written. But no doubt a great deal of money changed hands.

The Maasai, who claim the land, are being denied access. But they’re fighting back. As this tweet explains. While Modern Ghana reports that a policeman has been killed.

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Wouldn’t it be great if shyster greenwashers and land-grabbing ‘environmentalists’ got that kind of reception in Wales!

The international message: This land is our land!

GILESTONE UPDATE

Finally, a few weeks ago, in Green Man, Red Herring?, I reported on the curious business of the ‘Welsh Government’ paying £4.25m for Gilestone Farm, at Talybont-on-Usk.

The purchase was allegedly made for the Green Man festival . . . which said it had no intention of relocating from the Glanusk Estate, had not submitted a business plan, and seemed almost as surprised as the rest of us by the news of its good fortune.

In the hope of getting a bit more information I submitted a Freedom of Information request. Here’s the link to the response received yesterday.

It confirms there was no tendering process to invite bids from others who might have been interested, no business plan has been received from Green Man, but the purchase was still made on solid economic grounds. Absolutely absurd!

Previous owners of the land had stressed to me that while the farm was indeed valuable, the real value lies in the substantial deposits of sand and gravel on which the farm sits.

So in my FoI I asked who now holds the mineral rights to the land.

The question was not answered, on the grounds that the information is available elsewhere. Which would be true if the details of the recent purchase were available on the Land Registry website. But for whatever reason, the most recent title register available lists the sale in 2010.

So, really, I know little more than I’d already learnt from my own enquiries.

The purchase of Gilestone Farm is yet another deal done with public money, in secret, by an administration that is out of control, out of its depth, and no longer cares what people think.

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


Lobbying in Wales

INTRODUCTION

This piece is prompted by the ‘Welsh Government’ suggesting it wants to address the issue of lobbying. As the website puts it: “The Standards of Conduct Committee is undertaking an inquiry into lobbying and is keen to establish whether lobbying is a matter of concern to the people of Wales”.

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A disingenuously worded paragraph because the hope is that few people will even know about the exercise, fewer still will respond, and that will allow the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ to claim that lobbying is not “a matter of concern” and everything can just carry on as before.

The truth is that Wales desperately needs reform in this area, and it needs to go well beyond a simple register of lobbyists. I say this because lobbying takes a different form in Wales to most other Western countries.

What I’m going to try here is to give examples of different lobbying sectors (that would probably not regard themselves as lobbyists), while also looking at more obvious examples of lobbying.

I warn you, this is a ‘biggie’, pushing 4,000 words. But broken up into sections so you don’t have to take in the full horror of the situation all at once.

So go make a cuppa.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL LOBBY

Since before the first elections to the then Assembly for Wales in May 1999, those looking to benefit from devolution were positioning themselves, even relocating.

For example, the RSPB, which had until then been based – very centrally for an essentially rural organisation – in Powys, decided the time had come to move its Wales regional office to Cardiff.

This had nothing to do with bird migrations, or even the rediscovery of the Lesser-spotted Splott Warbler (previously thought extinct).

No, it was all to do with access to the new decision makers.

For the RSPB and the wider environmental lobby, devolution has been like Christmas, with a constant supply of prezzies delivered by yo ho ho-ing politicians.

Just cast your mind back to last week’s post on this blog, ‘Saving Wales From the Welsh’. One of the organisations mentioned was the Wales Environmental Link (WEL). And I reproduced the panel below, from the Charity Commission website.

Focus on the section I’ve highlighted.

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“At the centre of government decision making” can only mean that the WEL lobbies to influence decisions made by the ‘Welsh Government’.

But do you remember voting for the Wales Environmental Link? Do you remember being offered the chance of voting for the Wales Environmental Link? No, nor me.

As I say, the ‘Save the Planet!’ lobby was out of the blocks early on in the devolution era. Helped to a great extent by ‘insiders’. These came in two forms.

First, civil servants, often from England, always answering to London, and working to a vision of a Welsh countryside without farming.

Second, politicians who, despite what they were elected and paid to concentrate on, always prioritised their real interest of ‘reconfiguring’ – even repopulating – rural Wales.

Inevitably, the two elements worked closely together. Never more so than when Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales* Lesley Griffiths shacked up with her civil servant adviser Gary Haggaty.

But the grande dame of the sector is Jane Davidson. “Minister for Environment and Sustainability from 2007 to 2011 where she was responsible for the Welsh Government agreeing to make sustainable development its central organising principle”, as Wikipedia tells us.

Sustainable development became the “central organising principle” of governing Wales. Let that sink in.

After leaving the Assembly in 2011 Davidson took up a post of Director of the Wales Institute for Sustainability at Trinity St David University, Lampeter.

Davidson was, supposedly, Assembly Member for Pontypridd, but she’d already bought a place down west and was more concerned with pushing through the Hippies’ Charter (One Planet legislation) than with anything happening in Ponty.

From ivory tower to organic cabbage patch Jane Davidson and those she can marshal and organise have wielded an unhealthy influence over successive administrations in Corruption Bay.

The environmental lobby is now one of the most powerful in Wales. It’s why farmers have their backs to the wall, it’s why the M4 was not improved, and why smaller projects, such as the Llanbedr by-pass, have been scrapped.

If this lobby could close Port Talbot steelworks, take away our cars, confiscate all farmland, and turn us into vegans, it would. And the ‘Welsh Government’ would pass the necessary legislation without quibbling.

As gesture politics go, few things are more damaging to the Welsh national interest than deluding yourself that you’re saving the planet while damaging Wales.

*A bizarre title that makes ‘North Wales’ sound like an overseas colony of Corruption Bay.

THE RACE LOBBY

At it’s crudest this is little more than, ‘You Welsh are racist – give us funding’. I examined this racket not so long ago, when the so-called Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union successfully blackmailed the Wales Arts Council and the National Museum.

If you have the stomach for this tale of extortion and cowardice, then read, Corruption Bay and a tale of Cymrophobia (23.08.2021), Arts Council of Wales and Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, an update (31.08.2021), and Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union Unmasked (06.09.2021).

In brief, the Arts Council of Wales was pressured into ‘commissioning’ a report from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. An ad hoc group capitalising on the George Floyd killing by using ‘discrimination’ as the key to future funding.

In the race lobby sector we find another grande dame, in the form of Rose Mutale Nyoni Merrill, who you can read about in the first section of this miscellany from May 2018.

Her empire is founded on Bawso, which has accumulated quite a few properties around Wales over the years. And you’ll be glad to hear that Mrs Merrill has not neglected her own property portfolio.

But that’s how it is in the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party. You work for and promote the party, and preferment and funding will be your reward. Even if it’s public money down the drain.

And the showering of goodies can extend to your loved ones, involved in other fields.

As happened with Travers Merrill, Mutale’s hubby; given the cushy number of chief executive at Rhondda Life, a ‘regeneration’ project in the Rhondda Fach. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, by the look of it.

It 2012 it was announced that the project was in receivership. And having looked through the documents filed with Companies House I get the impression there was something akin to jiggery-pokery going on in Ferndale.

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For example, in the last accounts filed, for y/e July 31, 2012, the company is said to own freehold property valued at £1.5m. This is presumably the building you see in the image above.

The property eventually realised £295,000. Even allowing for the way liquidators dispose of such properties, that is quite a difference. But the bottom line is that the building was never worth £1.5m.

Over-valuing assets is a tactic used by many who’ve appeared on this blog over the years: money launderers, mortgage fraudsters, and other crooks.

(There is an obvious link in terms of directors between Rhondda Life and Blaenllechau Community Regeneration, which went belly-up around the same time.)

But of course, this being Wales, a ‘Welsh Government’ cock-up leads to a cover-up. It was years before the truth started coming out. Due in no small part to the persistence of Leanne Wood, a politician for whom I have the highest regard.

(Keyboard explodes!)

THE HOMELESSNESS LOBBY

A few years back I submitted an FoI request asking about organisations in Wales “combatting homelessness”. Specifically, how many were there?

The response told me there were 48! In a country of just over 3 million people. There are probably more by now. “It’s them wicked Tories, innit”.

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But then, when you think about it, when you remember the kind of country Wales is, and the kind of lobbying I’ve described, 48 shouldn’t surprise anyone. The more the merrier. It’s only public money after all.

As with the other sectors, many of the homelessness racketeers have moved to Wales in the era of devolution. Which is bad enough, but to keep the funding flowing these people – just like their counterparts in other sectors – will import a steady stream of ‘clients’ from over the border.

It’s a form of human trafficking.

We see here the fundamental and uncomfortable truth about third sector lobbyists in Wales.

Identify or invent a ‘problem’ in order to get funding. Then, with the help of an ever-compliant media and understanding politicians, the ‘problem’ must persist – to guarantee continued funding!

Let the good times roll!

Many of those now running the dozens of homelessness organisations have worked for the Labour Party or for Plaid Cymru, others will move on to work for these parties.

Or join some other publicly-funded gravy train.

To get a taste of what I’ve written over the years on this subject try, ‘Another “homelessness” outfit!’ (16.04.2020). Or just put ‘homelessness’ into the search box on top of the sidebar to open up a library.

THE “WOMEN WITH PENISES” LOBBY

A relatively recent arrival on the lobbying scene in Wales is the transsexual lobby. Represented by Stonewall, the former lesbian and gay organisation.

To begin with, and as you’ve probably guessed, Stonewall has its claws into the ‘Welsh Government’ for funding. The panel below shows that in the 18 months up to March 31, 2021, only the UK government gave more money to Stonewall than the boys and girls of Corruption Bay.

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But this being Wales, Stonewall has also been able to influence – if not dictate – legislation. To the extent of the ‘Welsh Government’ agreeing to what  Stonewall would like to see in law rather than what the 2010 Equalities Act actually says.

As Irving Berlin put it: There May Be Trouble Ahead.

Especially after First Minister Drakeford made an ass of himself. You used the term, so tell us, what is a, “transgender woman”?

It appears that the voice of Stonewall in Wales is Lu Thomas. You’ll have noticed her name if you followed the links in the section on the race lobby. She’s a Labour insider with far too much influence in the Bay.

As I suggest, she was deeply involved, with her business partner, Jon Luxton, another Labour insider, in the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union scam.

Her Linkedin profile says she’s managing director of Final Say Wales, which seems to be a rather sad attempt to roll back Brexit. I dug this out, but I couldn’t find much more. My guess would be it’s died a natural death in the face of reality.

The other outfit mentioned on her Linkedin page is Re:cognition. An odd fish, this; not least because there’s a reputable company with a very similar name.

Lu Thomas was previously director of a company known as Cognition Training Ltd, along with Jon Luxton. This went into liquidation in December 2018 owing close on £35,000, most of it to the tax man.

The latest incarnation, Re:cognition Training CIC has only Luxton as a director. So is Lu Thomas an employee?

Whatever the answer, through political connections Re:cognition gets commissions from the ‘Welsh Government’.

For as the latest accounts tell: “We chaired and developed an LGBTQ+ strategy for Welsh Government where we managed the LGBTQ+ stakeholder group, ensuring voices from across wales (sic) was heard.”

But I bet that only certain voices were allowed to be heard.

And you won’t be surprised to learn that Re:cognition has also been given a gig by Labour-controlled Cardiff City council.

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This probably helped inform the ‘Welsh Government’s current – and possibly unlawful – position on “trans rights”. But then, when it comes to surveys, it all depends who you talk to.

What Lu Thomas and others have learned from many years of working with and influencing politicians is that if you put your mind to it you can find racism, environmental damage, transphobia, etc., etc., just about anywhere.

And then you can capitalise on your ‘find’.

THE REFRESHINGLY HONEST AND CORRUPT COMMERCIAL LOBBY

Those we’ve looked at so far have been insiders, dealing with civil servants and politicians they know. These activist-lobbyists have, in a number of cases, previously worked for the ‘Welsh Government’, or for individual politicians.

They are invariably associated with not-for-profit organisations. Which means few jobs for anyone not linked to a particular clique of insiders, and little by way of a contribution to the wider economy beyond the increased spending power of clique members.

But we are asked to ignore this and focus instead on the incalculable benefits to society as a whole from ‘doing good’.

Though I fail to understand how a Welsh community is improved by a third sector body or a housing association importing into that community from England ex-cons, petty criminals and drug addicts.

Nor do I pretend to understand the doublespeak that gave us a policy (OPDs) designed, we were told, to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint . . . that invites into Wales people to live on previously unused land; who drive elderly diesel vehicles, keep farting animals, and cannot live without wood-burning stoves.

It’s refreshing then to be able to focus on a lobbying activity motivated by unalloyed greed and promoted through in-yer-face corruption. Though it adheres to the model herein explained in that it is facilitated using Corruption Bay insiders.

I’m referring now to the many, many companies under the Bute Energy umbrella, and their plans for at least 20 new wind farms in Wales. Shown in red print in the map below.

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Here’s a pdf document listing the companies I’m aware of, but new ones are being formed all the time. (The company names are hyperlinks.)

To understand the brazen corruption involved you’ll need a few introductions. Let us look first at Bute Energy’s ‘Welsh Advisory Board’. A totally unnecessary group formed purely to justify paying certain people for their influence with the ‘Welsh Government’.

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On the left, we see Derek Vaughan, former Labour MEP. Not known to have any knowledge of or interest in wind turbines or renewable energy of any kind.

On the right is John Uden, partner of Labour MS, Jenny Rathbone, who sits on the Senedd’s Climate Committee. His knowledge of three-arm bandits is believed to be on a par with Vaughan’s.

The other two may be there to act as a distraction. The jury’s out on them. Though I’m told ‘John Cwmbetws’ already has a bloody big turbine on his land.

UPDATE 17.06.2022: John Davies is of course Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society. Which makes him an ideal influence within the farming community, and he might even be able to find sites for Bute.

Indeed, a beneficiary of the planned Moelfre site is vice-chair of the Board, Harry Fetherstonhaugh.

But of even more interest is David James Taylor, who has served as a spad to former First Ministers Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones, and also former Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain. Quite the lad about the corridors of power, our Dai.

Taylor tends to work under the radar and is nowhere mentioned on the Bute website. But he, like Vaughan and Uden, was recruited by Bute Energy for one reason and one reason only – his contacts in the Labour Party.

He holds shares in Bute company, Windward Enterprises Ltd, both in his own name and that of his company Moblake Associates Ltd. Taylor was also – until people noticed – a partner in another Bute company, Grayling Capital LLP.

His lucre from Bute Energy was channelled through Moblake Ltd. This company was wound up in April with sole director Taylor owing the company £605,872 that he’d taken out in interest-free ‘loans’ with no repayment date.

But no mention of where the money came from!

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Taylor has set up a new company, Earthcott Ltd, so maybe Bute’s future payments will be channelled through this new venture. Then again, seeing as we know about it . . .

I won’t go over any more old ground, it’s all covered in previous pieces on this blog such as ‘Corruption Is Such An Ugly Word . . . But I Can’t Think Of Anything Else To Call It!’ (06.12.2021), and ‘Bute Energy Selling Wales For Danegeld‘ (21.02.2022), in which I explain how Scottish company Bute Energy has linked up with Danish investors.

Yes, folks, Scots, Danes, everyone gets a slice of the action, except the native Welsh. Unless of course you’re well connected down Corruption Bay.

That’s how a corrupt, third world country operates.

THE PROFESSIONAL LOBBYISTS

In addition to those already looked at, who might be termed ‘amateur lobbyists’, there are also companies that are quite open about what they do. Which is, helping commercial outfits, often from outside of Wales, get what they want from the ‘Welsh Government’.

But they also dabble in politics. And for unregulated bodies they have far too much influence.

Let’s just look at two of them.

Starting with a company that’s appeared on this blog a number of times, Deryn Consulting. Run by former politicians and spads, but keeping up with the Woke agenda by recruiting enviromarxists and promoters of BLM.

The majority of Deryn’s shares are owned by former Labour spad Cathy Owens, with a minority nestling in the neatly-manicured hands of former Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly Member Nerys Evans.

Over the years Deryn has been involved in a number of unsavoury incidents, I’ll just mention two.

The first was the Ofcom contract, a gem of its kind. This report from October 2017 will give you the story. And the image below of a WalesOnline headline from August 2017 leads on to another element of the Deryn saga.

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You’ll see that Neil McEvoy, was at that time, still a Plaid Cymru AM, but he’d blotted his copybook big time by challenging third sector shenanigans and exposing Deryn.

For party leader at that time was Leanne Wood, a personal friend of those whose lives were being made difficult by Neil McEvoy. He’s told me more than once that he was ordered to lay off Deryn. He didn’t.

He was too honest to stay silent when surrounded by institutionalised corruption, and so he had to go. First from Plaid Cymru, and then from the Senedd.

Around the time of the Ofcom scandal people at Deryn were briefing against Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children in the ‘Welsh Government’.

Those at Deryn employed in this dirty work were colluding with over-wrought but ever-cooperative third sector women. Some of whom had also made unfounded allegations against Neil McEvoy.

What’s worse, there were politicians, supposed allies of Sargeant, also briefing Deryn. The conduit here was Jo Kiernan, former senior spad to First Minister Carwyn Jones.

From Carwyn Jones’ staff Kiernan knew that Carl Sargeant was to be sacked before the poor bugger himself knew, and she was briefing others.

Carl Sargeant was sacked on November 3, 2017 and took his own life four days later.

As I was writing this I got to wondering about the Deryn finances, and so I went to the Companies House website. Where I found the latest accounts. Or rather, the unaudited financial statement up to December 31, 2020.

This skeletal document tells us that Deryn, with 9 employees, has assets of just £63,836.

But where are the real figures? Where’s the rest of the money? Where’s the turnover for the year? Is everything done with brown envelopes?

There’s something squalid and distasteful about Deryn. More worrying is that Owens, Evans and Kiernan seem able to open any door in Corruption Bay.

The bad news is that Deryn isn’t the biggest PR company down the Bay. The big kid on the block now is Camlas, formerly Positif Politics Ltd. The change of name last November is linked to the departure of Positif founder Daran Hill, who ceased to be a director in September. (Though he still seems to hold a majority of the shares.)

I’ve heard rumours, involving the local gendarmerie; but you know me, I try to avoid tittle-tattle in favour of facts and informed speculation.

Back in August 2020, in the early days of investigating Bute Energy and David Taylor, I ran across Hill’s name in connection with a wind farm planning application, so I contacted him. The resultant Twitter exchange can be read below.

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The Bute account at Camlas is currently handled by Matt Hexter.

Did David Taylor direct Bute Energy to his mate Daran Hill, or was it vice versa?

Going through who’s who at Camlas brings up the usual list of former politicians and spads, Mainly Plaid Cymru, but also Labour and now, with the recruitment of former AM, Angela Burns, the Conservative and Unionist Party is also represented.

But with Plaid Cymru firmly in control through Managing Partner and Co-Owner Rhodri ab Owen, brother to Plaid Cymru MS Rhys ab Owen; while the other Managing Director and Co-Owner Naomi Williams was a spad to former Plaid AMs Dafydd Elis Thomas and Dai Lloyd.

Plaid Cymru is of course in an alliance with the Labour Party in the Senedd. And even without an alliance, the two parties are never far apart.

Finally, and turning to Companies House, Camlas is another disappointment. All that’s filed is another bare bones ‘financial statement’.

I’m sure these minimalist filings are perfectly legal, but I believe that with companies such as Deryn and Camlas exercising unaccountable influence in Welsh public life we are entitled to know more about them.

CONCLUSION

In normal countries, with normal economies, lobbying is conducted by business interests and often involves donations to political parties. In other words: lobbying decides which company or corporation gets the contracts.

And while this may be undesirable, it usually delivers jobs and generates wealth. The country benefits, the losers tend to be commercial competitors. Who, had they been successful, would also have created jobs and generated wealth.

The political elite controlling Wales wants a quasi-socialist state in which they exercise power through patronage and hand-outs. The last thing this elite wants is a decent economy and an entrepreneurial class challenging its diktats and exposing its weaknesses.

And this explains why, in Wales, lobbying takes the form of fawning and cajoling by pressure groups that share the political outlook of the elite. These demand legislation beneficial to their cause, also funding and publicly-owned assets.

This must then be disguised with flim-flam like, “public good”, “future generations”, and other specious and unquantifiable ‘benefits’. Which we are told to accept as some kind of substitute for a decent economy and a prosperous country.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To begin with, we obviously need a definition of lobbying.

I would suggest: Anyone seeking to influence politicians, either directly or indirectly, through civil servants, advisers, or by any other means, in the hope of securing personal or corporate financial gain, or in order to influence legislation.

There should be a register of such persons. And a diary kept of all meetings between lobbyists and politicians, civil servants or advisers; both those meetings that have been held, and those planned for the future. The subject matter of these meetings must also be stated clearly and unambiguously.

Both the register and the diary should be updated daily and made available online.

To monitor lobbying will require a new post, and it will need to be filled by someone untainted by Corruption Bay. For once, I would have no objection to filling an important post in Wales with a complete stranger.

But I remain open to suggestion, so let’s have your comments. The ‘Welsh Government’ is also asking for your views, so don’t forget to write.

They’ll be delighted to hear from you! Or maybe not.

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


Growing Resentment

Yes, I’m still retiring, and writing this piece has reminded me why.

I could have written a piece like this at any time in recent years. I would only have needed to change the names of those ripping us off and the racket used for doing it.

The constant would have been the incompetence and gullibility of the so-called ‘Welsh Government’, and the contempt in which politicians hold the electorate.

Now, how do I get out?

This week’s piece was inspired by a tweet put out last Thursday by Lee Waters, the MS for Llanelli and Deputy Minister for Climate Change. (Which means he comes under Julie James.)

This is the man who admitted that he and his ‘Welsh Government’ ‘don’t know what we’re doing’ when it comes to the economy.

Who said there are no honest politicians?

MORE TREES

In the tweet I refer to we see Lee Waters getting his boots muddy for a photo op with some tree-planters. And they reciprocated with a tweet of their own. So, who are we dealing with here?

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The PATT Foundation is based in Hull, and the website might suggest it’s in the business of making people feel guilty about the ‘climate crisis’ and screwing money out of them.

To understand what I’m suggesting go to the ‘shop’ page where you can sign up for ‘a hole in the ground’ for £2 a month. Or, a family of two adults and two children could offset their carbon footprint with a donation of £500. (Ten trees.)

Bargain of the month – a Covid face mask for £12. Or a steal at £36 for 3.

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The PATT head honcho is Andrew Graeme Steel. Who has a couple of other companies, Precision Farming Ltd and Steeldom Properties Ltd, neither of which is setting the world on fire. (Not that he’d want to, of course!)

Steel was in on the ground floor when the PATT company was formed in November 2005. He was then living in Bangkok. He may have owned other property in Thailand.

I should add that the PATT Foundation is both a company and a charity. Though according to the information at the Charity Commission it does not operate in Wales.

Fancy that!

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In addition to Steel, the other directors of the Patt Foundation are John Nicholas Kennedy of Cyprus, Christopher Mark Ruddy of Somerset, and Valerie Josephine Seekings of Malawi. No obvious Welsh connections there.

The PATT Foundation’s latest accounts (actually, an unaudited financial statement) show net assets of £18,718 after a bank loan of £50,000 was taken out.

The tweet from Waters also mentioned @GreenTaskForce1. Green Task Force Ltd, set up in October 2019, is another company run by Steel. Also, since last March – when Sentient Retreats Ltd changed its name, for the third time – we have Green Task Force (Cymru) Ltd. With Steel again holding most of the shares.

Which makes the local offshoot older than the parent company!

On the Companies House website this ‘Welsh’ branch still uses as its SIC: 52219 – Other service activities incidental to land transportation, not elsewhere classified’. This was presumably the SIC for the company’s original incarnation as Eco Drivers Ltd (06.09.2011 – 16.07.2019).

The only Green Task Force director other than Steel is Paul Gibbs Sykes, also of Somerset.

Although the company was only formed in October 2019 the website claims it’s already planted 3,000,000 trees! At that rate we’ll reach global net zero around 5pm on September 28, 2027.

And we Welsh will be living in tree houses! (Those that haven’t become holiday homes.)

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The unaudited financial statement for Green Task Force also shows a loan of £50,000, which may be the same loan we found mentioned in the accounts of the parent company The PATT Foundation.

Question. Steel is ‘Dr’ for the Charity Commission, but not for any of his companies. Why might that be?

THE MISSING YEARS OF PAUL GIBBS SYKES

At first glance I assumed that Paul Gibbs Sykes of Green Task Force was recently arrived in the world of business, with four companies since January 2021. But then I tried a different angle and found an older company, from a time when Sykes seems to have been living in the Gwendraeth. I’m referring to PMJC Ltd.

This company lasted a very short time before dissolving. It never turned over much money. Or at least, the single and very brief balance sheet received by Companies House in August 2009 doesn’t reveal anything noteworthy.

And yet, what strikes me as odd, is that this one-man-band issued 1,000 shares.

You’ll see that Sykes describes himself as a HGV driver, which is in keeping with the haulage theme we encountered earlier.

But then it got a bit strange. Trying a different route I unearthed a further 20 companies that Sykes had been involved with over a decade ago. You’ll see that the most recent on the list is PMJC Ltd, which we’ve just looked at, which was dissolved in November 2010.

Note that a number of the companies have Cpi in the name, and they may trace back to a company in the US state of Wisconsin. Here are details for Cpi Worldwide Ltd.

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You’ll also note that no accounts were ever filed for Cpi Worldwide Ltd. And Sykes never stayed long at any of the companies.

There may be a simple explanation for these walk-on roles. If so, I’d like to hear it.

Then there seems to be a gap of ten years between PMJC Ltd folding in 2010 and Sykes resurfacing with the new companies in 2021. Where was he in that period? Anyway, let’s look at his new companies.

Green Task Force and Green Task Force (Cymru) we already know about, so let’s focus on the other two companies that were formed last year.

The first was Sykes Consulting Ltd, which uses an accommodation address in Covent Garden, London. The SIC is, ‘49410 – Freight transport by road’. This one-man-band has issued a single share.

The other company was Lamb Sykes Consulting Ltd, where his partner is Simon Lamb. (With two women I assume to be their wives also holding shares.) This company’s SIC is ‘63120 – Web portals, 73110 – Advertising agencies’.

Which is a hell of a departure from HGVs and road haulage.

Now let’s turn to Green Task Force (Cymru) Ltd.

GREEN TASK FORCE (CYMRU) LTD

Andrew Graeme Steel has been with this company, through its various name changes, since it was Incorporated in September 2011. In the latest unaudited financial statement we once again encounter the £50,000 bank loan. But no mention anywhere of which bank loaned the money.

On April 1 last year Steel was joined by Paul Sykes Gibbs, who you’ve just read about, and Thomas James Gent, who also has an interesting business background.

Going chronologically, the earliest company I can find for Thomas Gent is Cass Scaffolding Ltd, which began life in September 2008. But soon ran into trouble, going into administration in March 2011 before being dissolved in December 2012.

But then it was resurrected by order of the court in October 2014. Presumably at the request of unpaid creditors. As things stand, Cass Scaffolding remains an active company with Companies House waiting for accounts, confirmation statement, and annual return.

The statement of administrator’s proposals dated May 2011 puts the total amount for unsecured creditors at close to £1.4m. With the largest of them being HMRC.

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Next up is Cass Supplies Ltd, launched in April 2010. This company is also in the scaffolding business and seems to be doing reasonably well. The Development Bank of Wales seems to think so because it made a couple of loans in June and September 2020.

Now it’s back into the red with Cass Hire and Sales Ltd, launched in January 2011. A liquidator was appointed in September 2014, with estimated debts of £703,003.

The company lingered for quite a while before being finally dissolved in November 2020. With unsecured creditors – owed £532,111.82 – eventually being paid at the rate of 1.98 pence in the pound.

Moving on . . .

September 2011 saw the Incorporation of TJG Enterprises Ltd. Something of a departure for Thomas Gent, this, because it takes us into the realm of real estate.

In August and September 2020 there were yet more loans from the Development Bank of Wales. Which I find odd. My understanding is that the DBW makes loans to job-creating investors, not to help individuals build up their property portfolios.

Finally, we arrive at the imaginately named Envisage Envelope Solutions Ltd. Formerly, and more blandly known as, P & S Projects Ltd. This company gives its address as Gent’s property in Barry, but the former address was in Llansamlet. For reasons that will soon become clear.

P & S was launched in August 2020 by Scott Ashley Mason, then 23 years old. He is the ‘S’ in the original name. His father, Paul Edward Mason, is the ‘P’. The son seems to live in Wales while the father lives in Scotland.

The company’s original address was on the Enterprise Park in Llansamlet. Where we might also have found three other do-nothing companies registered by Paul Mason.

In one of which, Specialised Access Scaffolding Ltd, we would have found Gent as secretary.

SUMMARY

The question running through my mind as I was writing this was, ‘How did these three come together in Green Task Force (Cymru ) Ltd? With Sykes and Gent joining on the same day.

  • Former resident of Thailand, now living in Hull, Dr(?) Andrew Graeme Steel.
  • HGV driver Paul Gibbs Sykes, formerly of Llanelli, now Bristol.
  • Scaffolding contractor, Thomas James Gent, from the Cardiff area.

What links this unlikely threesome? And when did they become so concerned for the future of the planet? Or is there some other reason they’re now involved in the tree-planting racket crusade?

One possible link must be Stuart Victor Chapman, who served for many years as the PATT Foundation secretary. He obviously knows Steel, and as he lives in Chepstow he’s not far from Sykes and Gent.

Another company that links Chapman and Steel is Eco-Odyssey-4Life Ltd, which had a brief existence from St David’s Day 2011 until October 9, 2012.  Yet there was a share issue of 21,000 £1 shares, of which Bangkok resident Steel held 10,000.

The other shareholders all lived in the Hull area and Chapman served as secretary.

In addition to links with Steel Chapman has served as a director or secretary in a number of companies that would have brought him into contact with the Corruption Bay in-crowd.

Particularly Hafod Resources Ltd, and Children in Wales / Plant yng Nghymru, both chock-a-block with do-gooders and other burdens on society and / or the public purse.

But then . . . if Chapman was the introduction to what passes for the local movers and shakers, why does Steel need the truck driver and the scaffolder?

Questions. Questions.

Maybe Lee Waters has the answer. Perhaps he can remember who persuaded him to trek up to Cwmbran last week, shake a few hands, feign interest, and have his photo took.

CONCLUSION

We have reached something of a crossroads in the climate debate.

Partly because the case presented by alarmists is becoming steadily less convincing, while ‘socialists’ in pursuit of carbon neutral objectives are increasingly embarrassed about punishing the most vulnerable in society.

What’s being exposed is an agenda promoted by political dilettantes like Mrs Boris Johnson and her chums and adopted by dupes influenced by overwrought schoolgirls.

An agenda that increasingly gives Russia control of Europe’s energy supply.

More locally, because the English don’t want wind farms despoiling their country, yet the City of London must make money, the ‘Welsh Government’ has welcomed any and all impositions and woven them into a deluded narrative of Wales playing an exaggerated role in saving the planet.

With the added advantage that an administration with no economic strategy of its own can dress up this exploitation as its innovative ‘Green economy’ . . . an ‘economy’ which, er, involves no Welsh companies and creates no Welsh jobs.

We may be at the stage now where investors are desperate to make a killing before the renewables / net zero house of cards starts collapsing.

Which might explain the ‘Welsh Government’ feverishly paying hedge funds and other investors to buy up Welsh farms to plant trees. Behaviour that has – predictably – resulted in Wales becoming a magnet for envirospivs.

The tweet on the left below, from last Friday, talks of two farms near Llanwrtyd. The one on the right, from Saturday, tells a very similar story. It’s a national problem encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’ and its Plaid Cymru allies.

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One of the farms near Llanwrtyd, Lofftwen, is now Lofftwen Forest Farm LLP. Run by a man who, ‘ . . . never intended to get into farming‘. But he had money looking for an investment.

And when he wanted more money – the ‘Welsh Government’ chipped in. (See panel below.)

Despite what Lee Waters said in a recent radio interview about planting operations all needing Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), the truth is that they’re just nodded through. Check out this list supplied by Natural Resources Wales (scroll down).

Lee Waters was right to say that EIAs are required, but none are refused and few checks are undertaken.

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And it’s into this demi monde of sylvan scammery that we need to fit Messrs Steel, Gibbs and Gent. They’re planting trees and the ‘Welsh Government’ will pay them handsomely for doing so.

Interestingly, the image below from a Green Task Force tweet (no ‘Cymru’) suggests co-operation with Octopus Energy. Is this company using Green Task Force to offset its carbon output, in Wales, and is the ‘Welsh Government’ subsidising this nonsense?

I suggest that photo of Lee Waters on a windswept hillside makes a perfect partner for the image of Ken Skates shaking hands with notorious con man Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

If you recall, the ‘Welsh Government’ was about to hand over large areas of land and substantial sums of money to a crook. But others – myself included – said, ‘Hang on, something’s not right about this bloke.’ Eventually, even the Guardian saw through him. (But not the ‘Welsh’ media.)

We were right. And the ‘Welsh Government’ was wrong. Again.

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Here’s my offer to the so-called ‘Welsh Government’. After you’ve decided to give someone money, let me do a quick check, and for every wrong ‘un I find you pay me just one per cent of what I’ll save the public purse.

Because, obviously, no one down the Bay is currently doing any checks.

For as Lee Waters himself so memorably said – when it comes to the economy, you really don’t know what you’re doing!

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


Misplaced Trust

Retirement remains the ambition. That said, this post is produced in the hope of drawing attention to developments in one locality that may link with wider, national concerns.

‘Y FOEL’

Today’s piece took wing with the article you see below. It appeared in last Thursday’s Daily Post. A strange piece in a number of ways; not least because the more I read it the less sure I was of what it was trying to say.

One thing’s for sure – it has little to do with slate landscapes.

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To begin with, the article tells us that the land in question ‘lies south of Conwy’. Which indeed it does; but the same could be said of Cape Town. Actually, it’s quite a way from Conwy, but just a few miles east of Blaenau Ffestiniog. So why use Conwy as a reference point?

The proximity to Blaenau is evidenced by the fact that the land we’ll be looking at contains a few old slate quarry workings. Which gave the writer the excuse to tell us that back in the industry’s heyday, ‘Wales was known as “the place that roofed the world”‘. ‘The place’!

Then, there’s the ownership. The opening paragraph talks of the land ‘being brought into the care of National Trust Cymru’. Does that mean the NT has bought the land? Is it merely looking after the land?

Finally, another possible cause of confusion are the references to ‘Y Foel’. The area we’re looking for is actually, and variously, called, ‘Foel Marchyrau’, ‘Foel Marcherau’, or even – according to the Land Registry – ‘Moel Marchyria’. Whatever you choose to call it, this area lies not far from the hamlet of Cwm Penmachno.

So who wrote the piece?

Well, it wasn’t anyone at the Daily Post. The article came from the National Trust’s website. Here’s the link. It’s a sad indictment of our media when a full-page news story turns out to be a copy and paste job.

THE TREASURY TAKETH AWAY AND THE TREASURY GIVETH

I suppose my interest was piqued when I read, in paragraph 5: ‘It is estimated that the site could lock up over 350,000 tonnes of carbon once restored, the equivalent of taking almost 80,000 cars off the road for a year’.

I know carbon capture is all the rage in Wales at the moment but why would someone at the National Trust go to the trouble of making that calculation?

I also read . . .

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This mention of the ‘Ysbyty Estate‘ reminds us that the National Trust is a major landowner in Wales. This sizeable chunk of our country was passed to the Trust in 1951 by the Treasury, which had received it in lieu of death duties.

(What a metaphor for Wales’ relationship with England.)

Don’t mention ‘Penrhyn’ to the Wokies! Click to open enlarged in separate tab

In the hope of getting a clearer picture of what is planned for these 1,600 acres I e-mailed the National Trust and Natural Resources Wales. Both were helpful.

From the National Trust I learnt that it will be working with Natural Resources Wales, the RSPB, the Snowdonia National Park, locals and busybody retirees, to ‘restore’ Y Foel to a more eco-friendly habitat.

But this will not be done at the expense of farming. For we read in the piece we started with that the land ‘will continue to be grazed by sheep and cattle’.

In its response, Natural Resources Wales wrote:

‘We are committed to carrying on the good work and are in regular discussions with National Trust regarding . . . the Cwm Penmachno area. These opportunities have been enhanced now Natural (sic) Trust have purchased y Foel which surrounds a forest block we manage on behalf of Welsh Government.’

QUESTIONS

So from Natural Resources Wales we learn that the National Trust has bought Y Foel. And the NT then confirmed it with: ‘The Trust has acquired farmland called Foel from the late Miss O.M. Williams, Freehold.’

Later, in the same message, the NT employee wrote: ‘We will also reduce sheep numbers significantly which will allow trees to regenerate naturally across the ffridd and mountain’.

But wait! The piece in the Daily Post said the land, ‘will continue to be grazed by sheep and cattle’, there was no mention of numbers being ‘significantly’ reduced.

To understand the background to, or the justification for, what’s being done in the Cwm Penmachno area, this video below might help.

In a nutshell, drainage ditches cut into peat deposits have lessened the amount of rainwater the peat can retain. With the problem exacerbated by embankments built by farmers to protect their land and livestock from flooding.

These combine to interfere with natural flooding and send more water down Afon Conwy to afflict communities like Llanrwst.

There can be little argument with saving Llanrwst and other communities from flooding.

But when terms like ‘climate change’ and ‘climate crisis’ are introduced, and used in conjunction with the promise of less grazing, and this comes with talk of carbon capture, then I think we need to be alert.

Image 3: From the National Trust website. Does it refer to a very localised ‘climate crisis’? Click to open enlarged in separate tab

The report in the Shropshire Star – a daily newspaper that circulates widely in central Wales (though of course the jobs and the money stay in Shrewsbury) – certainly gave prominence to the climate change / carbon capture aspects of the story.

Though to judge by the photographs used by the Star they were more confused than me as to the location of ‘Y Foel’. But take my word for it, boys and girls – it definitely doesn’t overlook the Dyfi estuary.

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One more thing, Shropshire Star; the highest mountain in Belgium and Wales is not called ‘Mount Snowdon’. Ever.

THOUGHTS

Let’s go back to the ownership of Y Foel. It seems the National Trust bought the property following the death of Miss Olwen Mai Williams in April, 2018. Described in her obituary as the last of the Foel Marcherau family.

Though according to the Land Registry Miss Williams is still the owner of two tiles bearing that name.

Image 5: Ordnance Survey. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

The first is for, ‘Foel Machyrau’. Scroll down to the plan and you’ll see that this title appears to cover the farmhouse, outbuildings and land nearby. The neighbour to the north east is Carrog, mentioned in Image 2, and belonging to the National Trust.

Even though it’s claimed Carrog is a working farm it’s clearly undergoing – in addition to the water works – a kind of carbon capture makeover as well, with the planting of thousands of trees and hedging plants.

The second Foel title is for, ‘Land lying to the south of Foel Marcherau’. Comparing the OS map on the left with the Land Registry plan on the right, you’ll see that it makes an obvious extension to the existing woodland managed by Natural Resources Wales.

Image 6: Click to open enlarged in separate tab

But then I uncovered a third Land Registry title for ‘Land at Foel Marcherau’. (Unfortunately there’s no plan available.) I have redacted the owners’ names, but both are Williams; one lives in Carmarthenshire, the other in the West Midlands.

Putting it all together the cynic in me thinks, ‘Well, if flooding in Llanrwst is caused by peat loss and levees upstream, then dealing with those issues will solve the problem?’

The fact that so much more is planned leads to me to suspect that this extra work, additional to peat restoration and embankment removal, serves a wider agenda.

I mean, is re-forestation an activity we normally associate with the National Trust? Then, there’s the close co-operation between Natural Resources Wales and the National Trust. Almost a partnership.

Among other things, Natural Resources Wales looks after the public forestry estate, and is (nominally, at least) answerable to the ‘Welsh Government’. Yet Corruption Bay has no control at all over the National Trust.

Suspicions that carbon capture for profit is the motive, with ‘drying peatlands’ the excuse, come from elsewhere in Wales. I’m thinking now of Abergwesyn, where farmers, or more accurately, their sheep, are again being blamed.

The article I’ve linked to says that farmers and commoners are being consulted all the way, but local sources say they’re being ignored, as ‘Welsh Government’ pushes through its carbon capture plans at the expense of another Welsh community.

No matter how it’s portrayed, what we see at Cwm Penmachno, Abergwesyn and elsewhere seems to be the National Trust muscling in on the carbon capture racket.

CONCLUSIONS

I have never been happy with the National Trust owning so much of Wales. It’s currently 50,000 hectares, with the size of the NT estate growing year on year.

Yet there’s nothing Welsh about the Trust. Adding ‘Cymru’ can’t hide how alien it is, and how Wales is viewed as little more than a region . . . of England, presumably. It’s just window dressing. Done to please the easily pleased.

There is only the National Trust, with income of £508,000,000 a year. Its remit: ‘To look after places of historic interest or natural beauty permanently for the benefit of the nation across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.’

So we’re one nation!

It should go without saying that Scotland has its own National Trust, a separate body. Registered in Scotland (SC007410).

Image 7: Click to open enlarged in separate tab

Just a few miles to the north of Cwm Penmachno is Tŷ Mawr, Wybrnant, home to Bishop William Morgan, who, in the late sixteenth century, translated the Bible into Welsh.

It would be difficult to over-estimate how important his work was to standardising and safeguarding the Welsh language. To proving that the Welsh language was no crude patois. And to confirming our status as a nation.

But Tŷ Mawr is owned by the National Trust. The same National Trust that believes we are not a nation. Let’s be honest here – the National Trust in Wales is just fleece jacket colonialism.

The English National Trust should have been replaced with a Welsh body soon after we entered the era of devolution. But devolution has been a disappointment in so many ways. Especially for us Welsh.

THE ONLY WAY FOWARD

Let’s consider the options available to Welsh voters. Then you’ll understandable why the National Trust and other ineffably English organisations can so easily exploit Wales.

Unionists, especially those of the Right, will never object to England owning Wales; be it on an individual level, a corporate level, or of course, the national level.

Their commitment to Wales is entirely superficial. And conditional upon Wales being part of the Union. A Union that benefits only England.

On the Left, both Unionists and those claiming to want independence, reject the working class – the greater part of the nation – in order to impose ‘diversity’, support a parasitic third sector, and cheer a ‘Welsh Government’ throwing money at Stonewall.

These are now wedded to passing fancies that demand they engage in combat with ‘fascists’, ‘racists’, ‘climate deniers’, ‘transphobes’, ‘terfs’, and other figments of their easily-manipulated imaginations.

Yet this bizarre alliance, supporters of colonialism on the one hand and wokie clowns on the other, fight over ‘Welsh Government’ policy. To the detriment of the Welsh people.

Conclusion: There is only one way to escape this nightmare.

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


Arts Council of Wales and Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, an update

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. POSTINGS WILL PROBABLY BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

This is a follow-up to last week’s post, ‘Corruption Bay and a tale of Cymrophobia‘. You’ll remember that we looked at how Labour Party insiders were paid to produce reports that would guide more ‘inclusive’ policy at the commissioning bodies, the Arts Council of Wales and the National Museum.

UPDATE

One of these submissions, from the mysterious Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, painted a picture of Wales as some kind of Hell on Earth where ‘creatives’ of a non-Caucasian pigmentation are brutally discriminated against.

It was reminiscent of the hysteria I’ve been writing about in connection with YesCymru. Where some of those involved in the failed Woke-Left takeover wanted us to believe that ‘women with penises’ are being butchered on Welsh streets by mobs of transphobes.

What I found revealing was that neither those suggesting rampant transphobia or a whites-only arts scene are prepared to debate. Any dialogue must start from a blind acceptance of their ‘facts’.

A few tit-bits have come to light since the previous post went out. For example, someone drew my attention to the metadata naming authors for the three reports.

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The report from Labour insiders Lu Thomas and Jon Luxton named Luxton as the author. But the other two reports listed Arts Council employees as authors. Which might at first sight seem a bit odd, though there could be a simple explanation.

Such as the reports being submitted in MS Word or some other format and the Arts Council converting them to PDF.

If that is not the explanation, then what is?

Despite the ‘authorship’, there is no real issue with the Richie Turner Associates’ report because the contributors are named in the report.

It’s the third report, from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union, that’s causing concern. Because no individual or contributor is named anywhere.

Anyway, in the hope of helping me make sense of the bigger picture, a few people made suggestions. Pointed me in certain directions. So off I went.

NATURE OF THE BEAST

It’s fair to say that Amgueddfa Cymru was almost a ‘passenger’ in this exercise, so I’m ruling them out to focus on The Arts Council of Wales.

The current Chair is Phil George, who I speculated was a Labour Party supporter. His immediate predecessor in the post, from 2007 – 2016, was David Burton Smith, whose political leanings have never been in doubt.

For Dai Smith – father of unsuccessful challenger to Jeremy Corbyn, Owen Smith – is another creature of the left. One of those historians who, like Neil Kinnock, believes Wales isn’t worthy of study until the Industrial Revolution and the creation of a proletariat.

Smith worked for the BBC in Cardiff, from 1994, as, ‘Head of Broadcast (English Language). He was responsible for commissioning programmes on the arts and in drama and has also presented award-winning documentaries on the people and culture of south Wales’.

Through a socialist prism, of course.

An interesting insight into colonial Wales, this. For while the Labour Party rails against Tory cronyism, Old Boy networks and the rest, the Buttybond practises something very similar in Wales.

And the Tories are more than happy to let them do it. I’ll explain why a bit later.

Phil George has a long history with The National Theatre of Wales (NTW). In fact, he was one of the founding directors on September 9, 2008. He seems to have left NTW in March 2016, around the time he was appointed Chair of the Arts Council.

I’m told the National Theatre of Wales was always well favoured in Cardiff. One source reports: ‘”BBC Wales” used and uses every opportunity to promote this company. Hardly any arts documentaries are done but in its formative years, 2010, it commissioned a 30 minute advertorial dressed up as a documentary on a National Theatre production’.

It was thanks to Phil George and NTW that Abdul Shayek of London got his foot in the Welsh public funding door.  For Shayek’s Linkedin page tells us that from April 2011 until April 2013 he was a Creative Associate with NTW.

Shayek then branched out to form FIO, a BAME theatre group. Though apparently reliant on funding from the Welsh public purse this didn’t stop FIO taking plays to India. And Shayek ‘representing’ FIO at symposia and the like in Sri Lanka and Australia.

Nice work if you can get it! And especially if someone else is paying.

Another source tells me FIO got some £400,000 in funding over 3 or 4 three years. (It might have been more.) Which pays for quite a few trips to Oz and old Serendip.

Going back to Shayek’s Linkedin bio we see that he left FIO in August 2020 to join Tara Theatre. No, this has nothing to do with halls and High Kings, it’s yet another ‘ethnically diverse’ theatre group. This time in London.

I’m not sure of the reasons for Shayek’s departure, or where this leaves his creation, FIO. The website suggests it’s still going, and the Charity Commission entry implies he’s still involved.

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Whatever the relationship between Abdul Shayek and FIO he still appears to be involved with the arts scene in Wales. And pissing off quite a few people with his involvement in the Wales Culture and Race Taskforce (WCRT).

Which was set up in June 2020 to, ‘challenge the lack of diversity within the arts in Wales and demand systemic change’.

I’m not sure if this was Abdul Shayek’s brainchild or if he just got involved somehow. Certainly, his creation FIO was holding the money donated to WCRT by other arts groups. Said to be £20,000.

You’ll get a flavour of the dispute from the Critically Speaking blog of Jafar Iqbal. (A supporter of Leyton Orient football club.) In particular, read the lengthy comment from ‘pledging organisations’.

If you want to know more about the role envisaged for the Wales Culture and Race Taskforce then you should read this document prepared for the ‘Welsh Government’.

Strangely, in just 452 words this document manages to use the term ‘white-led’ three times. In the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union ‘report’ we encounter the phrase ‘white-led’ 10 times.

When checking the metadata for the document I’ve just linked to, I found the author named as Letty Clarke. So obviously, I wondered who she might be.

You will not be surprised to learn that Letty is also from England, but since January 2020 she has been Curator of Public Programmes at Artes Mundi Prize Ltd. From the Artes Mundi website we learn:

‘Artes Mundi Prize Ltd is a registered non-profit charity that annually relies on support from individuals, corporations, sponsors, trusts and foundations to fund the costs of all our programmes, alongside our core public revenue from Arts Council of Wales and Cardiff City Council’.

The name may sound like a character from a forgotten novel set in 19th century New England, but Letty is of the here and now. And, unfortunately, the ‘here’ is Wales.

Letty Clarke’s Linkedin profile makes it clear that she supports Black Lives Matter, and her Twitter account provides a few gems.

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As many of you will know, investigations are continuing into the death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, who died some hours after leaving police custody. But Letty Clarke, after being in Wales for a short time, has already made her mind up.

For according to her Hassan was a victim of ‘police brutality’ and ‘state violence in Wales’. What the hell does she mean by ‘state violence’? There is no Welsh state!

Let me explain the relationship to you, Letty . . . Your country robs my country and by way of compensation doles out money to those buffoons down Corruption Bay, who in turn distribute far too much of that cash to people like you and your friends.

Which means that, one way and another, most Welsh people get screwed twice over.

Up to now in this painful trawl through the ‘Welsh’ arts scene I don’t think we’ve met anyone who is actually Welsh, apart from a few cocks atop the dung heap.

Let’s see if we have any more luck in the next section.

THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR THE WELSH ARTS ANTI-RACIST UNION

In December 2019 the Wales Audit Office produced a snappily-entitled report, ‘Well-being of Future Generations Increasing Participation in Areas with Under-developed Reach of the Arts – Arts Council of Wales’. You can read it here.

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The Introduction says: ‘This document has been prepared for the internal use of the Arts Council of Wales’. Reminding us that this is an example of the additional public money wasted since the implementation of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, and the creation of the post of Future Generations Commissioner, with of course, a whole new department.

The job of Commissioner was given to Labour time-server Sophie Howe. She had previously worked under Alun Michael, the former Labour MP and now Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.

Under ‘Contents’ we read: ‘In its efforts to increase participation, inclusion and engagement in areas with under-developed reach of the arts, the Arts Council of Wales (Arts Council) is demonstrating commitment to the sustainable development principle but it recognises the need to further embed the five ways of working.’

Clearly, the Audit Office looked into inclusion in the arts, and made recommendations to the Arts Council. So why, just six months later, did the ACW spaff another £50,000 (minimum) doing what looks like exactly the same thing?

(Note that the Sell2Wales notice I link to is from June 2020. Which is when the Wales Culture and Race Taskforce was set up.)

This duplication produced the three reports dealt with in the previous post, including the submission from the mysterious Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union.

This digression takes us nowhere nearer identifying the person or persons behind the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. In fact, it’s difficult to get any handle on the WAARU.

One mention I did find was on what I assume to be a podcast. It seems to be called Mostyn, or Lumin, the latter described as, ‘an artist-run radio and publisher led by Sadia Pineda Hameed and Beau W Beakhouse’.

If you scroll down to the bios of others involved, you’ll see this for the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. But again, no name.

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I’d like to be able to tell you that Hameed is from Froncysyllte and Beakhouse from Llangyfelach, but alas . . .

Beau tells us: ‘I’m originally from Bournemouth but moved around . . . I come from a nature & craft background . . .  My parents were self-employed gardeners, who then went into woodcraft . . . Eventually, I managed to study English Literature at Cardiff University’.

Hameed: ‘I’m from London. I also came to Cardiff to study English Literature at uni and decided to stay ‒ in part because I didn’t really have the money to pursue the arts back in London, but also because I really liked how open the arts scene in Wales is.’

Yes indeedy; the ‘arts scene’ in Wales is open to just about anybody . . . artistic talent is unnecessary, and knowledge of Wales undesirable.

Here’s an example of Beakhouse’s poetry from 2017.

Don’t give up the day job, Beau. Whatever it is.

That we are no nearer fingering who wrote the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union report is understandable, given its reception. But the Arts Council of Wales must know because the WAARU was paid well to insult us.

Which is why I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to the ACW.

But over and above that, this situation of strangers being paid to insult us could only happen in the peculiar circumstances of devolution, which sees politicians and others who superficially oppose each other agree when it comes to Wales, and the Welsh.

UPDATE: Since publishing this piece I have received feedback, including someone drawing my attention to The Future Generations Report 2020. On page 355 we read what you see in the panel:

I have two points to make.

First, ‘learning Welsh on the job’ sounds like a good idea, until you realise it’s often a ruse to give jobs to people most of whom will do no more than go through the motions of taking a few Welsh lessons.

Mark James, former chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, would be a great example of this scam in practise.

Second, The Future Generations Commissioner in her 2020 report is quoting Race Alliance Wales (RAW), a body formally launched on December 19, 2019. How the hell did a newly-constituted body become so influential so quickly?

The answer is that those behind RAW are based almost exclusively in Cardiff and well connected in Corruption Bay.

While organisations elsewhere in Wales, established for far longer, representing many more people, but outside the Bay Bubble, are ignored.

This is not healthy; this is not democratic; this should not be the Wales any of us wants to see.

But it’s the Wales we live in.

FURTHER UPDATE: Someone else has been in touch with an intriguing suggestion. Which is, that when an anonymous Twitter account is launched the author is often to be found among the early followers.

In the case of the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union Twitter account the first ten followers can be found here. (Read from the bottom up.) There are quite a few names there that appear in this article.

THE BIT AT THE END WHERE COLOMBO PUFFS ON HIS CIGAR AND . . .

Picking up again on the shared motivations, what I’m hinting at is that these otherwise squabbling interests agree that Wales must be carefully ‘managed’.

Which is why what passes for entertainment on television and elsewhere is banal and superficial. Welsh politics, social issues, and other specifically Welsh matters (when dealt with in English) are often quarantined in programmes broadcast at awkward times . . . which results in hardly anyone watching them.

The same applies more widely, in the fields so copiously manured by the Arts Council. For example, there’s not a hope in Hell of Wales having its own Abbey Theatre.

We are at a stage now where if two plays are in competition for funding, one about Welsh villages being destroyed by excessive tourism, the other about the absence of obstetric facilities for low caste birthing persons in Tamil Nadu, then you can predict with certainty which will enjoy an opening night.

Researching this piece I stumbled on an hour-long lecture by former Arts Council Chair Dai Smith, built around writer Raymond Williams. Smith is speaking at a ‘Cultural Democracy Workshop’ in November 2020.

This was of course delivered at a time when the three reports commissioned by the Arts Council were being prepared. Yes, it was all happening around that time.

Smith makes the point that in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, when Williams was at the height of his intellectual and creative powers, his writing was framed by what he saw as a class struggle. But things have moved on.

(Interestingly, a piece on Williams appeared in UnHerd yesterday.)

Most importantly, the political left in Europe and North America has lost the working class. Which is why Marxism is now promoted through race, environmentalism and gender. And the harder the left pushes these the more it alienates the working class.

No one living just thirty years ago could have envisioned the crazy situation we have reached today. And few political activists of the left under the age of 40 can believe that their ideological predecessors idolised those they regard as stupid, racist, transphobic, climate denying Brexiteers.

The sons and grandsons of Marxist miners are fascist white van men!

A hazy understanding of Marxism re-interpreted by Black Lives Matter almost certainly lies behind the report submitted by the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. It also explains the report’s acceptance by the Arts Council.

But why would the Old Etonians in Westminster and their civil servant alumni of lesser schools want to push such drivel? The answer is that they share with the Woke-Left establishment in Corruption Bay a desired outcome.

This explains the funding and other encouragement for people from around the world to come here, take funding that should go to Welsh arts, and then call us racist.

London likes the ‘The Welsh are racist’ message because it explains why we oppose holiday homes, and resent being colonised. (It’s why the Telegraph used the WAARU report.) Corruption Bay modifies it to read, ‘Nationalism is racist’ because that can slander those suggesting there is a better way for Cymru than devolution’s cronyism and exploitation. 

Together they tell us why the ‘Welsh’ arts scene today is a revolting mess of talentless dreamers and grant-grabbing shysters. Overwhelmingly alien; with some of those involved positively racist in their attitudes towards us.

Modern Wales in microcosm.

♦ end ♦

 




Corruption Bay and a tale of Cymrophobia

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. POSTINGS WILL PROBABLY BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

This post is about the findings from surveys commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru. The project was entitled, ‘Widening Engagement’.

These reports, or certainly one of them, prompted old Shippo at Llais y Sais to give it something close to the, ‘We Are At War With Germany’ treatment. (Available here in pdf format.)

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Front page lead continued on inside page, completed with a full page of grovelling from the white supremacist running-dogs of the patriarchal imperialist-colonialist system.

The story travelled. Not only did the Daily Telegraph pick it up, but also, from that source, Andy Ngo, in Portland, Oregon, scourge of Antifa.

Even RT.

This passage from the Arts Council website explains the exercise . . .

“At the end of June 2020 Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales advertised a tender to undertake a series of in-depth research conversations. Our aim was to widen engagement with communities we consistently fail to engage in our work. We received 34 submissions and after a detailed selection process and interviews we decided to appoint three organizations to undertake three very different studies.”

The reports from the three successful tenders have been submitted and are now available online. They are from: Re:cognition, Richie Turner Associates, and the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union.

So let’s look at them in that order.

RE:COGNITION

The first problem I have with these people is the name. Let me explain.

There is a company Re:Cognition, with qualified medical people involved in specialist mental health services. And an annual turnover in excess of £10m. But this was not the company employed by Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru.

For as the report tells us, on the very first page, its authors are Jon Luxton and Lu Thomas, two Labour Party stalwarts from Penarth. (Where Luxton was once mayor.) And wouldn’t you know it – Lu Thomas has appeared on this blog! In Plaid Cymru’s enemy within (scroll down a bit).

Lu Thomas is big in Pride Cymru, and something of a trans fanatic, believing that ‘women with penises’ are being persecuted. Everywhere. By everybody.

Here’s her Linkedin profile. Where you’ll see that she claims to be a director of a company called Cognition.

Cognition Training Ltd, directors Thomas and Luxton, was put out of its misery in December 2018. But even when trading it never provided the income that bought Thomas and her wife their £500,000+ house on Windsor Esplanade.

Image: Mark Lewis. This appeared in a WalesOnline report in July 2018. Click to open in separate tab.

The ‘Cognition’ name was also used by Luxton and Thomas in Cognition Associates. Which produced a website where the latest ‘News’ is from July 2013. Cognition Associates was never registered with Companies House.

And now there’s Re:cognition Wales. Or rather, there’s a website. Note that Thomas and Luxton use a lower case ‘c’, whereas the ‘real’ company spells it ‘Re:Cognition’. But again, this Luxton-Thomas company is not registered with Companies House.

One Lu Thomas company that was registered with Companies House was Pitch Consult Ltd. Incorporated July 15, 2019. Struck off January 5, 2021. No accounts were ever filed.

What I found interesting about Pitch was that the other two directors were Mitchell Theaker and Pearleen Sangha, who you may remember from their appearances on this blog. They were Labour councillors in Swansea; part of the student intake needed to keep up the bruvverly numbers.

Jon Luxton has also been rubbing shoulders with celebrities lately. For listed among the directors in Sound Progression Ltd, along with Luxton, we find Cian Ciaran, of Super Furry Animals, and late of YesCymru. This company was Incorporated June 10, 2019.

Given Luxton’s record its time can not be long.

A glimpse of what Thomas and Luxton do is given in this snippet from the NHS. They work for the Labour Party, in its various forms: ‘Welsh Government’, Cardiff Council, etc.

They also work for bodies reliant on ‘Welsh Government’ funding. Reminiscent of the jobs found for the nephews of made men.

To understand how it operates imagine a phone call from Corruption Bay or City Hall: ‘Oh, hello, Lu, love, how’s it going . . . listen, we want you to do one of your surveys, yeah, here are the findings we want from you’.

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And this is why no ‘survey’ conducted by Thomas and Luxton should be given any credence. They are just Labour Party apparatchiks.

The worry should be that these beneficiaries of Labour cronyism get so much work. Work paid for by the public purse. It’s naked corruption.

But it also explains why they were one of the 3 out of 34 applicants chosen by the Arts Council and the Museum to do the ‘research’.

Page 10 of the Thomas and Luxton report tells us (rather clumsily): ‘To note: only one respondent namechecked the Eisteddfod indicating poor reach into this community of mainly English speakers. this lack of Welsh Language art and culture was also demonstrated in the responses to all other relevant questions.’ 

I wonder if this ‘finding’ will be used in future by the ‘Welsh Government’ to deny or reduce funding to Welsh language organisations, events, and projects, or in other ways be used to undermine the language?

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The quote above, from page 12 of the report, about sums up what Thomas and Luxton have to say – ‘Do what our friends in the Welsh Government tell you’.

RICHIE TURNER ASSOCIATES

Whoever these are, they compiled, ‘A research report looking at the reasons why D/deaf, disabled, learning disabled and neurodiverse people do not attend arts events or visit National Museums’ Wales or attend very infrequently’.

While that may have been the ostensible reason for recruiting Richie Turner, his Linkedin profile makes his political leanings very clear. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a colourful Linkedin header.

Or one less relevant to Wales.

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Richie Turner is of course another Corruption Bay insider. His jobs and appointments listed on Linkedin suggest someone with strong Labour Party connections. For no one in Wales without Labour Party connections could dream of a CV like that.

So what does the Richie Turner Associates report have to say? Though before you read it, I should say that Richie Turner Associates is not a company or a partnership, just an ad hoc group of his friends and, well, associates.

Richie lives in Hay-on-Wye, which is handy for the books, and the festival.

Those who helped him compile his report, also live in the south east. In fact they all seem to live in Cardiff and Gwent. One of them, Lyndy Cooke, is a former director of the Hay Festival. Nice.

Though the report tells us (page 4): ‘Our research engaged with people across all regions of Wales.’

Possibly. But how well do Richie Turner and his gang know these far-flung ‘regions’?

It might also be asked how well Turner knows his associates. For the woman named throughout the report as ‘Mary Allen’ is surely Mary Allan.

There’s little to take issue with in the Richie Turner Associates report. It’s just a litany of complaints followed by a few recommendations. And concluding with some comic book-style illustrations!

Flicking through it a few things caught my jaundiced eye.

This, for example (page 27): “Arty farty type messaging on advertising, such as Gothic and trendy typefaces also make it hard to read from a few feet away in a wheelchair”.

Who could argue with that?

Whereas I found this a little confusing (page 30): “Some places like museums are too big, with too many people. I need less people to be able to go”.

We obviously can’t have empty museums. Museums that attract no visitors will be closed.

All in all, this contribution from Richie Turner Associates may be regarded as the bland filling between two very unappetising slices of bread.

THE WELSH ARTS ANTI-RACIST UNION (WAARU)

It’s difficult to know what to make of this one. For a start – what or who is the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union?

I found a Twitter account. I think we can assume that it was started in the period of hysteria following the killing of George Floyd, some 5,000 miles away.

In fact, the WAARU Twitter account started up a week or so after the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru decided to launch their ‘research conversations’ at the end of June 2020. What an amazing coincidence!

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The first tweet was on July 6, 2020, followed by a flurry of tweets that ended on August 11. There was nothing then until a retweet on Oct 20. A further retweet in November, another in December. Then nothing until April 18 and 19. A final retweet on May 14, attacking Israel, and nothing since.

Why hasn’t the Twitter account rejoiced in WAARU’s participation in this exercise? I find this very odd.

We can reasonably assume that the WAARU leans politically to the left, maybe quite far to the left.

There is no website for the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. Just a Gmail address on the Twitter account. So I wrote on Friday morning. I’m still waiting for a reply.

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Anyway, here is the report produced by Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. However you look at it, it is a remarkable document.

It suggests that the Welsh language is racist and the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru are both run by white supremacists.

There are ten references in the report to these organisations being ‘white-led’. But in a country that is 95% or more white does the writer expect them to be non-white-led? That would make them grotesquely unrepresentative.

There are also references to Black Lives Matter, reminding us that the report is very much of the post-Floyd era. Summed up perhaps with this paragraph from page 24: ‘One participant asked how Amgueddfa Cymru could see itself as combating poverty, when it’s very purpose involved displaying objects from countries whose wealth had been plundered through colonialism.’ 

No, that is not its ‘very purpose’. What a stupid and insulting thing to say! If Amgueddfa Cymru has a ‘very purpose’ then it’s to celebrate the history of Wales.

But that is not atypical. For a number of times this report comes across as either ignorant of recent Welsh history, or misinformed, or just mischievous. Here’s another example, from page 18.

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There is no ‘Welsh Census’, it’s organised by the Office for National Statistics in London. Not so long ago you couldn’t even describe yourself as Welsh on the census form. That’s why I was one of those protesting before the 2001 census.

But the writer of the WAARU report presents the census as more evidence of structural racism within Wales!

Having mentioned the writer, I ask again – who is it? Because there is no name mentioned anywhere in the report. It is anonymous. So why was it accepted? Or to go back to the beginning, why was the WAARU commissioned to write a report?

Are we to believe that out of the 31 rejected applicants there wasn’t one better qualified!

On page 36 we read this passage: ‘Marginalised artists and art workers should receive support to learn different languages, in addition to Welsh. This additional support is necessary because Welsh language policies in current applications can exclude Black and non-Black people of colour’.

What ‘different languages’ are needed in Wales?

The writer is clearly ignorant of the fact that many ‘Black and non-Black people of colour’ were brought up speaking Welsh, or else have learnt to speak Welsh.

And while there’s solidarity implied with the term ‘Black and non-Black people of colour’ this solidarity is not consistent. Because the Twitter account suggests that non-Black People of Colour might be little better than Uncle Toms.

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Finally, most reports end with findings and recommendations. The report from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union ends with ‘Our List of Demands’. It sounds almost threatening. Like a kidnappers’ note.

Whoever wrote this report may have legitimate grievances, but they’ve gone about airing those grievances in entirely the wrong way.

The national institutions of Wales exist to reflect and to serve the culture, history, identity, and people of Wales. The Welsh language is central to Welsh identity, and for many centuries served as the identifier of Welshness.

Maybe the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ can also remember that.

UPDATE 24.08.2021: Checking the metadata of the three published reports gives Jon Luxton as the author of the Re:cognition report, which is what I would expect. Him or Lu Thomas.

But listed as author for the other two reports are Arts Council of Wales employees.

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There are a number of possible explanations for this. Maybe the original documents were converted from MS Word to PDF format at the Arts Council. If so, why? Those chosen to produce these reports were well paid to do so. Was this work at the Arts council deducted from their fees?

Or is there another explanation?

CONCLUSION

The first report we looked at was produced by Labour Party insiders who carry out research for their comrades. The ‘findings’ are often used to justify legislation and other measures that the ‘Welsh Government’ has already decided on.

I wonder if the ‘Welsh Government’ would pay me to do a survey into the third sector, or housing associations, or tourism . . . or even the ‘Welsh Government’?

The second report told us nothing really except that the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru are doing a bad job when it comes to catering for those with disabilities.

Though much of the feedback was about venues, over which the Arts Council may have little or no control. And as for ’empty museums’ . . .

But that will be overlooked because the report gives the ‘Welsh Government’ another stick with which to beat both organisations.

The third report is just a chip-on-the-shoulder, ‘where’s our grants?’ diatribe. To give it credit for being anything more would be to legitimise the anti-Welsh prejudice running through the report.

Whoever commissioned this report must have known in advance the kind of submission they could expect from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union. Which means that the WAARU was paid to produce exactly that kind of report.

Let’s remind ourselves who heads the two organisations involved.

Phillip George of the Arts Council was previously,‘ Creative Director of the award-winning production company Green Bay Media which specialised in high-end documentary projects for broadcasters in Wales’.

He left Green Bay on March 31, 2016, when he was appointed to the Arts Council. At that time, Green Bay had 14 outstanding charges (loans, etc) with S4C and Finance Wales.

Phillip George re-joined Green Bay on June 30, 2017, as secretary, though I suppose he could have been acting as a director.

The next development came on July 24, 2018, when all 14 outstanding charges were cleared. The company’s registered address was changed on the same day.

On January 14, 2019, a Declaration of Solvency was made and a liquidator appointed. Green Bay was finally struck off May 19, 2020. With George still listed as secretary.

Were those debts really cleared, or were they written off, or was some other arrangement agreed? And why was Phillip George allowed to re-join Green Bay while serving as Chair of the Arts Council?

I don’t know Phillip George’s politics, but here he is with former Labour MP Kim Howells. Does he share Howells’ attitudes to the Welsh language, devolution / independence?

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Prior to taking up the post Amgueddfa Cymru chief Roger Lewis was CEO at that most BritNat and Unionist of organisations, the Welsh Rugby Union.

It’s the third report, from the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union that’s getting the media attention, and quite rightly so, so let’s give it a few final thoughts.

Although the report ostensibly deals with the Arts Council and Amgueddfa Cymru, by questioning the role of the Welsh language and perceptions of Welsh identity its impact goes well beyond those two institutions.

Doing it from an ethnic minority perspective is clever, because attacking Welsh identity from a BritNat position invariably generates resistance. It’s much smarter to use the race angle, and maybe get some liberals and socialists onside.

Which makes it difficult to pin down the origin of this survey. Because if someone is trying to introduce Critical Race Theory into Welsh public life, for the disruptive effect it guarantees, then that source could be Marxist left or Unionist right.

Whatever the source, if enough people can be persuaded that defending Welshness is ‘racist’, then this will impact negatively on the growing interest in Welsh independence. The ‘racist’ slander can even be used against those demanding action on holiday homes.

Where does it end?

Maybe campaigning against Tryweryn was ‘racist’. And perhaps it’s ‘racism’ that sustains our national sporting teams. Why not just merge with England and join in singing GSTQ at Wembley and Twickers?

No one should be publicly funded to question a nation’s existence. Both bodies must explain why they chose the Welsh Arts Anti-Racist Union.

We, who’ve paid for it, are entitled to know who wrote the WAARU report.

Finally, perhaps the real lesson from this fiasco is that Wales must have independence. Not just from England, but also from Cardiff Bay.

♦ end ♦

 




“Education, education, education”

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

The title is of course taken from Tony Blair’s famous speech of May 2001. It seems apposite because this offering is also about the UK Labour Party (Welsh branch) and education.

Last Friday, the BBC Wales website ran a story headlined ‘Black history lessons to be made mandatory in Welsh schools’. (If the link is broken, then the article is available here in pdf format.)

On the same day, Llais y Sais ran a full-page piece (below) by Jane Hutt MS, speaking on behalf of the ‘Welsh Government’, setting out her gang’s plan for an “anti-racist Wales”. (It too is available in pdf format.)

The two pieces are obviously linked. And both connect with a petition from last year demanding that the ‘Welsh Government’, ‘Make it compulsory for Black and POC UK histories to be taught in the Welsh education curriculum’.

It’s clearly orchestrated. And it needs to be answered because this campaign is misinterpreting statistics, telling outright lies, and marginalising the history of the people to whom this country belongs.

Let’s start with the BBC piece.

It focuses on Professor Charlotte Williams, “who led a working group set up by the Welsh government to look at how BAME contributions through history was taught in schools”.

To the surprise of absolutely no one Prof Williams discovered that the current education system could have been designed by the Ku Klux Klan. Her working group made 51 recommendations – all of which have been accepted by the ‘Welsh Government’. Which has also shelled out £500,000 to help implement those recommendations. (With more to follow, I’m sure.)

I can’t tell you much about Professor Williams. She’s probably a Labour Party loyalist, and that explains how she got the gig. That’s how things work in Wales.

Though I’m not clear about her field of expertise and her titles seem to be honorary. Certainly, that’s what’s suggested by this piece on the Bangor University website. (Available here in pdf format.) She’s an honorary professor at Bangor and an honorary fellow at Glyndŵr and South Wales.

In the Bangor University article I’ve linked to Williams says: “We have a rich history in Wales, built on difference and diversity”. Er, no.

For the greater part of our history we have been one people, speaking one language, divided only by geography and dialect. This is what held us together, this is what gave us our sense of ourselves as a people during centuries of conquest and subjugation.

As late as the 19th century that unity was reinforced by the Industrial Revolution and our adherence to the nonconformist denominations. Making me wonder how much Prof Williams really knows about Wales.

The ‘diversity’ to which she refers is very recent. And while its proselytisers preach unity, in practice they label and divide.

While Welsh children are to be taught BAME history the ‘Welsh Government’ has decided they will not be taught their own history, or the history of their country unless this is done through the prism of a ‘diversity’ that is absent from the history of Wales until comparatively recent times.

Something very strange is happening. The desire to tell the story of ‘colonialism, discrimination and exploitation’ is being used to ignore or marginalise the history of an indigenous population with first-hand knowledge of colonialism, discrimination and exploitation.

And this has all been prompted by the death of a man last year in a US city most of you can’t even remember the name of.

Another untruth in the BBC article can be found with, “In 2019, 12% of all pupils aged five and over came from minority ethnic backgrounds . . . according to Pupil Level Annual School Census data.”

We are encouraged to interpret that as meaning 12% of pupils in Welsh schools come from non-white backgrounds. But the source used, StatsWales, makes it clear that’s not the case. What it tells us is that 12% did not identify as ‘White British’.

This 12% is made up of Irish children, Italian children, and Polish children, maybe even white Welsh kids who didn’t want to identify as British.

But if we are to have an à la carte education system then I suggest our pedagogues get their answers ready for when Mrs McGillicuddy rocks up demanding to know why Seamus and Siobhan are not being taught the history of Gaelic Ireland.

Polish history is very interesting as well. And what about the Risorgimento!

It may sound like a good idea, but once history is tailored to group or individual backgrounds then it can become as irrelevant to others as one’s family history.

That’s why sensible countries take the ‘broad sweep’ approach to the history of their country and then fit that national past into the wider, global picture.

Now a quick shufty at the petition.

Click to enlarge

A hybrid beast, this. It is addressed to the Welsh Parliament, yet it keeps referring to the UK and Britain.

To take the petition wording at face value it seems to be asking that Welsh children be taught about the experiences of immigrant groups in England. But why?

It also wants our children to learn that Wales, “benefited from colonialism and slavery for centuries”. Did we really! These ‘benefits’ must have passed my family by.

But what is Black and POC history? Is it the history of African people(s)? The spread of Islam? Moghul India? Asia? China? Pre-Columbian America? With nothing to connect these disparate stories other than their contacts with Europeans, at what point will BAME history degenerate into, ‘White bastards . . . ‘.

Finally, let’s look at the Llais y Sais article. There are so many distortions that it’s difficult to know where to start.

Click to enlarge

The article is written by Jane Hutt of Surbiton, who spent much of her childhood in colonial Africa. Her career in Wales began in the third sector, which helped her become a Labour councillor. She was then an unsuccessful Westminster candidate before securing the consolation prize of a seat in the new Welsh Assembly in 1999.

So, yet another Labour politician who’s never done a real job.

In the second paragraph Hutt says, “. . . our partners have shared more shocking stories of racism and hate crime endured in Wales”. Who might these ‘partners’ be, I wonder?

I would hazard a guess that these are Labour’s cronies in the third sector and elsewhere. People and groups reliant on public funding that can be best secured by exaggerating a problem and / or telling the ‘Welsh Government’ what it wants to hear.

What’s in it for the Labour Party? Well, the sub-text has always been – from the days of Naz Malik and his Swansea Bay Race Equality Council  – ‘Welsh nationalism is by definition racist’. (Remember Naz?)

In discussing the impact of Covid, Hutt suggests that people from ethnic minority backgrounds have suffered worse than white people. This is more bollocks. The critical factor has been deprivation. The kind of deprivation experienced in the post-industrial communities that the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government has condemned to managed decline. Communities where the population is almost exclusively white, and Welsh.

Towards the end Hutt writes: “We want to make sure that Wales becomes not just non-racist, but anti-racist, by the year 2030”.

‘Non-racist’ means the absence of racism. To go further is to pander to extremists who argue that all white people carry the guilt for slavery and imperialist exploitation. A sentiment we saw articulated in the petition.

We are now in the territory of Critical Race Theory, reporting neighbours for watching Gone With The Wind, and shopping Nain for her Robertson’s golliwog badge. Maybe even self-flagellation.

Wales does not want to go there. Labour should not be taking us towards this fresh kind of intolerance.

And yet Hutt’s overlong homily is not without its unintended humour.

Click to enlarge

The idea of Travellers complaining about ‘racism and hate crime’ is laughable. What they’re far more likely to be moaning about is being collared for their criminal behaviour. (Here’s a very recent example.)

‘Colourism’ may be a term many of you are unfamiliar with, but it’s rife in India, where it seems people of darker skin tone tend to be looked down on. All tied up with history, caste, religion, etc. It also seems to operate in the USA. Where, again, it is something found within communities, in this case, African-Americans.

Either way, ‘colourism’ or ‘shadism’ is a complex subject internal to certain countries and groups. It should never be a concern of the ‘Welsh Government’.

Hutt concludes with, “We must stand proud with open hearts and minds, and take positive action to banish racism, discrimination and inequality from Wales”. All very noble, and guaranteed a round of applause at the next Labour Party bunfight.

But this commitment to combating discrimination and inequality would carry more weight if, instead of playing to certain galleries, Labour politicians took action to stop Welsh people being ethnically cleansed from their own communities.

BAME education is so typically ‘Welsh’ Labour – about Wales, but not the Welsh. Twenty-two years of devolution has been all about gestures and virtue signalling for external audiences and tiny groups of activists.

While the essential Welshness of Wales, that sense of identity that brought devolution into being, has been undermined and the threats against it ignored.

Twenty-two years of anti-Welsh devolution.

This is why the Labour Party is opposed to both Welsh language education and the teaching of Welsh history in our schools. They fear it might make our young people more patriotic, and therefore, less likely to vote Labour.

Which is why, the more I think about BAME education, the more I suspect Labour may not have thought this through.

As I’ve just said, Labour does not want to enthuse Welsh children with a sense of patriotism, or worse, grievance. Nor does it wish to encourage anti-British or anti-English sentiment.

But if history is to be taught from a BAME and leftist perspective then how are children to be told about the slave trade, the Amritsar Massacre, An Gorta Mór, the Bengal famine, the coup against Mosaddeq, and so many other episodes of Britain’s past without encouraging a “Bastards!” reaction?

What you’ve read here is my interpretation of the Labour Party pandering to yet another vocal and unrepresentative minority. And while we should all strive to marginalise racism – for it will never be entirely eradicated – I believe that what is being suggested risks damaging the Welsh education system and doing more harm than good for communal relations.

I say that because I can think of few things more insulting than middle class left liberals designing a curriculum that tells kids relying on food banks in post-industrial shitholes that they should feel guilty for being the beneficiaries of slavery and ‘white privilege’. 

It really is time to get rid off these dangerous and insulting clowns in the Labour Party, and the same goes for any other leftist party that might keep Labour in power.

♦ end ♦

 




Lucky Gwynedd – more ‘investors’!

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I had planned another piece on May’s Senedd elections, but my plans changed when I learned of a big investment promised for the capital of the Cheshire Riviera . . . which the indigenes insist on calling Abersoch.

To accompany this new story I have a big update on Llanbedr International Airport complemented by reports from Gwynfryn, and Bryn Llys (aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’).

Verily, our cup runneth over!

FLY BOYS

I’ve written about Llanbedr Airfield a few times before. Try ‘Come fly with me‘, from January.

The Llanbedr site was bought by the Welsh Development Agency 31 March, 2006 from the Ministry of Defence, for £700,000. Here’s the title document. It was then leased, 31 May, 2012, for 125 years, for £887,000 plus VAT, to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP (since renamed Snowdonia Aerospace LLP). Here’s the title document.

Now that might seem like a good bit of business, but it’s not. In fact, it’s one of those deals that makes a mockery of devolution.

Those clowns in Corruption Bay were forced to buy a site they didn’t want, and for which they had no use. They then had to pay for repairs and maintenance, keeping the place spruce until their masters in London produced favoured tenants.

Llanbedr Airfield. Click to enlarge. Click X top right to return to blog

As for the lease, it was paid for by the Ministry of Defence and The Welsh Ministers. Though for some reason only the MoD is shown on the title document. We need to go to the Companies House entry for Snowdonia Aerospace to learn of our generosity.

So we’ve paid twice for a white elephant. But it gets worse!

Snowdonia National Park has approved a by-pass for the village of Llanbedr, which will of course run close to the airfield. We read in this Cambrian News report: “Llanbedr, which lies between Barmouth and Harlech, suffers severe tailbacks during the height of summer with people visiting Shell Island.”

Which means that a great deal of public money is to be spent causing environmental damage in order to encourage more traffic to a foreign-owned campsite! What happened to environmentally conscious Wales?

I’ve got a better idea – let’s get rid of ‘Shell Island’. It caters for campers and caravans, providing everything they need, including a shop and a bar. It contributes little to the wider area other than petrol and diesel fumes.

Alternatively, seeing as the Workman family, owners of ‘Shell Island’, will be the main beneficiaries of this by-pass, shall we ask them to make a financial contribution?

But it’not just ‘Shell Island’. (Correct name, Mochras.) There are also locally-owned caravan sites marring the littoral. Many granted consent in the days of Merioneth County Council, when men of a ‘fraternal’ bent would shake hands and grant each other planning permission.

In this BBC piece we read, “Supporters of the 1.5km (one mile) bypass have claimed it will slash journey times by an hour, and boost investment by improving access to the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, a drone-testing facility at the former RAF Llanbedr airfield.”

The implication has to be that motorists experience one-hour traffic hold-ups in tiny Llanbedr, which is utter bollocks. I suggest the ‘supporters’ saying that may have inhaled too much traffic fumes, or something.

The second part hints at another reason for the by-pass. Though maybe I’m wrong to call it a by-pass, for a recent comment to an earlier piece of mine about Llanbedr airfield says: “And yes the Welsh Government is funding the Llanbedr bypass, which legally can’t be called a bypass as it has to be an access road to the airfield to qualify for grants. And no it doesn’t go to the airfield!”.

Which suggests that a lot of people are being misled, even screwed, over Llanbedr airfield.

This source also wrote (of the blog): “Just come across this article – excellent stuff. No mention though of RAF Brawdy in Pembrokeshire which the same people as at Llanbedr ran for a while before dissolving the company with outstanding charges against the Welsh Government.”

The company was Brawdy Business Park Ltd (Co No 3431529). And again, it took over a redundant military installation, promised lots of jobs, received grants and loans, created few jobs, folded the company and buggered off.

Will the same thing happen at Llanbedr?

Brawdy Business Park. Google image from Aug, 2011. Click to enlarge and click on X in top right to return to blog

Though ‘buggered off’ is not strictly true. For while the company, Brawdy Business Park Ltd, was certainly struck off in April 2013, the presence of those involved lingered on. Indeed, it lingers still.

If we look at the last Annual Return listing shareholders we see that by September 2011 all shares had been transferred to a company named Solutions for Storage Ltd. Which had changed its name in 2010 to Ocean Park Investments Ltd.

And as Brawdy Business Park sank, lead director Lee John Paul transferred to Ocean Park Investments.

The Brawdy site is now owned by Compass Point Estates LLP. Here’s the title document and plan. And guess who we find as Compass Point Estates directors? – Lee John Paul and Ocean Park Investments. Also, Putney Investments of Queensland, Australia, operating out of the Isle of Man.

‘Now you see us, now you don’t – but we’re still here under different names!’

And that’s what we see at Llanbedr. Where we have Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, which you’ll remember received the loan from the ‘Welsh Government’ to, er, take out a lease with the ‘Welsh Government’; and since October 2019 we’ve also had Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP.

And who do we find as directors of the new company? Who else? – Lee John Paul, Ocean Park Investments, and Putney Investments.

Compass Point Estates has made two loans to Snowdonia Aerospace Estates. But why should that be necessary with the same people controlling both? (Because on October 1 Lee John Paul and Putney Investments took control of the two LLPs.)

My concerns are due to the fact that LLPs can be tricky beasts. “Partners in an LLP are not personally liable when the business cannot pay its debts; instead, their liability is limited to the capital they have invested into the LLP.”

So, if there’s no capital left in the LLP to which the loan was made then, when it folds, and everything is claimed by the new LLP, the clowns of Corruption Bay might struggle to get our money back.

Shall we see a repeat of Brawdy Business Park at Llanbedr, where the same people end up owning everything but under different labels?

Watch this space.

THE PHOENIX HOTEL, ABERSOCH

I’ve written about Abersoch more than once. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish it was still the sleepy Llŷn fishing village it once was, but it has been ‘discovered’.

By the ‘Cheshire Set’. Which includes those who’ve made a few bob in Liverpool or Manchester and want to flaunt it with a big house and a Range Rover in the drive in an upmarket Cheshire village. One of those communities where new developments are discouraged to the point of being almost forbidden.

Which in turn results in houses being built in north east Wales and along the A55 to accommodate those who can’t afford the entrance fee to the Cheshire Set.

In Abersoch itself we recently saw a former council property put on the market with an asking price of £385,000. Of course, no local will be able to buy it. A reminder of how tourism is destroying Welsh communities.

But we are going to focus on the site of the former White House Hotel.

This establishment closed in 2004 or 2005, inevitably fell into disrepair, and was eventually demolished in the early part of 2016.  In the report I’ve linked to we read, “A 40-bedroom hotel and spa will now be built in its place and is set to open in 2018”.

Image: NorthWalesLive. Click to enlarge. Click on X at top right to return to blog.

The owner was named as Broomco, of Surrey. At 31 December, 2019 the unaudited Broomco accounts show that money owed by debtors was exceeded by money owed to creditors to the tune of some £250,000.

Broomco’s major asset would appear to be ‘freehold property’ valued at £1,236,224. Which is presumably the site of the former White House Hotel.

The promised hotel and spa did not materialise, but now other exciting plans have emerged for the site. Well, obviously, I’m not excited, but some people seem to be getting worked up over the proposal. Here’s a report from the Daily Post website.

There’s a lot of information in the report; yet despite that, or maybe because of it, it still raises many questions. Or maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, some dude called Charlie Openshaw has rocked up, and we read: “Mr Openshaw says his firms are both contractors and developers. He says the developer is Providence Gate and the contractor is CL Projects.”

What can we learn of these companies?

Let’s start with Providence Gate. There are five companies of that name, all formed between August and November this year. All with the same three directors; Charles Marshall Openshaw, Anthony John Hayton, and William James Abram. Being so new there’s obviously little information available, though Providence Gate Developments Ltd has already taken out loans with Crowd Property Ltd.

The majority shareholder in Crowd Property is investment guru Simon Zutshi.

Turning to the other company mentioned by Charlie Openshaw, C L Projects Facilities Management Ltd, we see that this company has a long and glorious history, stretching back to its formation in July 2017, when it was known as C L Chorley Ltd.

The name changed in April this year when the three musketeers climbed aboard. Until then it was filing as a dormant company. Openshaw, Hayton and Abram are joined around the mahogany boardroom table by Robert Wood, also recruited in April.

So, to all intents and purposes, C L Projects Facilities Management Ltd is another company formed in 2020.

Which seems straightforward enough – a group of property investors spot an opening and come up with an imaginative plan. But it’s not that simple. Is it ever?

To begin with, and according to the Land Registry, the site is still owned by Broomco. So either Charlie Openshaw and his mates are working with Broomco, or else they are yet to buy the site from that company. Here’s the title document and plan.

We’ve seen that the company named as the developer is Providence Gate Developments. But this, and the other companies sharing the name, Providence Gate Titon Ltd, Providence Gate Stalmine Ltd, and Providence Gate Bretherton Ltd are all owned by Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd.

So who owns Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd, formed just last month? At the risk of confusing you . . .

The shareholders in Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd are shown in the panel below, information that comes from the Confirmation Statement made to Companies House on 30 November. Just days before the big publicity splash.

Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd shareholders. Click to enlarge. Click X in top right to return to blog

Clearly, Openshaw and Hayton have other companies, in their own names. While Marbauk Ltd is William Abram’s new company. So it’s the three amigos again.

Just to keep you filled in – or confuse you further – Abram has another new company in WA Construction Consultancy Ltd.

Openshaw Group Holdings Ltd began life April 9 as Lockside Investments Ltd, with Openshaw’s partner Anthony John Hayton as director. Openshaw took over April 14. Hayton obviously relinquished control to set up Hayton Group Holdings Ltd April 15.

Which leaves the final name we see in the panel above, Bahadvr Group Holdings Ltd. This is the company of Ismael Bahadur, formed in August 2018, and it files as a dormant company.

There are a few other ‘Bahadvr’ companies, all recent, a few dissolved.

These new creations of the three principals own all the shares in CLProjectsUK Limited. Which began life in August 2016 as Clifford Lewis Aluminium Limited. The name changed April 28, 2018.

This company is in the business of metal doors and windows.

Let’s recap. We have a host of new companies set up by or taken over by Openshaw, Hayton and Abram. But little or nothing further back than 2016. So what were our bonny boys doing before then?

Charles Marshall Openshaw had companies called Rooftop Solutions Ltd and Rooftop Solutions and Consultancy Services Ltd. Both of which came to a sticky end.

The winding up process for Rooftop Solutions began in Bolton County Court in July 2012. There were three outstanding charges at the death. The decision to wind up Rooftop Solutions and Consultancy Services Ltd was taken in August 2009, when the company owed £485,922.00.

Click to enlarge. Click on X in top right to return to blog.

Other companies Openshaw was involved with around that time, which also went belly-up owing lots of money, were RBC (Manchester) Ltd and Rooftop Group Ltd.

None of these companies seemed to last more than two or three years. And there seems to be a gap of five or six years between these earlier companies and the recent rash of new companies.

A co-director with Charlie Openshaw in these earlier companies was Neil James Collier. Who blamed his bad luck in business for going on the rampage at a Chester hotel a couple of years ago.

To sum up, the ‘saviours’ of the White House Hotel – or at least the site – seem to come from a background of replacement doors and windows, or roofing. More recently, they appear to have aligned with people from a finance background. But do they have what it takes to complete a prestige project in Wilmslow-sur-Mer?

Charles Marshal Openshaw makes it sound so simple – his companies are going to build an ‘international landmark’ hotel on the site of the White House Hotel.

But, for a start, he doesn’t even own the site. And once we start looking into his companies we find other companies behind them . . . and other companies behind the companies behind them . . . and companies behind the companies behind the companies behind . . .

If I was Cyngor Gwynedd, I’d sit Charles Marshall Openshaw down in a comfy chair, give him tea and biccies, pat his knee and say, ‘Now, Charlie, tell us who’s really behind this project’.

And I wouldn’t give planning permission until I had satisfactory answers.

‘CASTLE’ GWYNFRYN

Regular readers will be familiar with that name. It refers to an old gentry mansion near Llanystumdwy, which served a number of purposes after its glory days until, as a hotel, it catched afire in 1982.

This update is in three parts. First, Philip Andrew Bush seems to have been a naughty boy, travelling up to Gwynfryn from Kent during lockdown. Second, the planning application for 25 residential units in what’s left of the mansion has now been submitted. Third, the young developers we met earlier have started a raft of new companies.

Gwynfryn. Click to enlarge and click X in top right to return to blog

Maybe I should explain that until fairly recently Bush owned both the house and the land around, but he sold the ruin to his pal Aaron Hill, who’s also an associate of the Bryn Llys gang, a crew we’ll meet in the next section.

Bush is now pestering neighbours over a non-existent right of way, and making a nuisance of himself. It’s rumoured he wants to make some money by building something in the Bryn Llys grounds.

Access will be a big issue for any project of Hill’s, and for the residential units. Which explains his desire to knock down walls and find another route onto his land. He’s getting desperate, for the clock is ticking . . .

Let’s turn to the planning application. Which is dated 03/12/2020. A passer-by kindly sent me a photo of the public notice affixed to some railings.

Click to enlarge and click X in top right to return to blog.

Though what I find strange is that the planning application itself is dated 14/02/2020. with a ‘validation’ date of 20/11/2020. Read it for yourself.

There’s something very amateurish about this planning application. To begin with, it keeps referring to “the castle”. Has whoever compiled this document been reading too much Kafka, or has he never seen the building? Because it’s a 19th century house with a bit of crenellation for effect.

I’m sure the natives could get a bit stroppy back then but I’m equally sure the squire didn’t need a castle.

Then, in the Design and Access Statement, Section 6, the writer quotes English Heritage! Has it escaped him that Gwynfryn is in Wales?

Click to enlarge and click X in top right to return to blog

Something else that caught my eye was in the planning application document itself (21), where it seems to suggest that there are currently 5 full-time and 3 part-time employees at the Gwynfryn ruin.

Are they including the Bryn Llys gang, who have helped out? Or are they counting the bunny-wunnies?

Gwynfryn is another of those projects where there are many fingers in the pie. And among these digits are those belonging to James Armstrong and Anthony Wilmott.

As I wrote back in October,  ” . . . the developers’ in this instance are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong. The latter has a company called Acquérir Ltd; Wilmott has a few companies of his own; but they get together in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd.”

Since I wrote that, Wilmott and Armstrong have launched three more companies. These are: Armstrong Wilmott Developments Ltd, Armstrong Wilmott Holdings Ltd, and Armstrong Wilmott Construction Ltd. All three formed 22 October.

Now doubt it’s only a matter of time before we’re in another maze of companies at Gwynfryn in which council planners will get lost . . . if they even venture in.

BRYN LLYS AKA ‘SNOWDON SUMMIT VIEW’

We left off with the Bryn Llys saga when capo di tutti capi Jon Duggan appeared before the bench in Caernarfon. His dogs had got out – again – and attacked a neighbour’s chickens.

Despite being victimised – the poor man always is – he had to cough up £1,002.00.

As it was given to me: “He complained that he was before the same magistrates who heard the Shane Baker excavator driving, criminal damage case (Baker is one of Duggan’s ‘soldiers’) but was told that this was an entirely separate case. Mr. Duggan likes to imply that he will not get a fair hearing and is picked upon by police, council officials and others. He also accused the neighbours of filming his children, another one of his tactics is making unfounded, malicious allegations about anyone who does not give in to him.”

But he could be facing another court appearance in the near future.

You’ll recall that Duggan and a few associates were in court in August for breaching an enforcement notice. (The poor man being victimised again!)

Here we see Duggan, on the day of the court appearance, with his wife at his side, his half-brother Scott Smith facing him, while the fourth man is Andrew Battye, who we are asked to believe owns Bryn Llys aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’.

Nobody does believe it, and certainly not Battye.

Click to enlarge, click on X at the top right to return to blog

In one of the more bizarre deals I have covered on this blog, Duggan bought land from Aaron Hill (who got a mention just now at Gwynfryn). But because Duggan is supposedly without assets, Hill loaned him the money to buy the land!

Here’s the title document.

After buying the land Duggan laid an unauthorised road, and he was instructed to remove it and undertake remedial work. The deadline for compliance was 20 November. Of course, Duggan has not complied.

Gwynedd planners have been informed of Duggan’s non-compliance. Now it’s up to them to do their job. No more, no less.

♦ end ♦




What’s happening in Grandma’s Attic?

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

This week’s post is prompted by the concerns of a number of people in Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog about a charity called Grandma’s Attic and its associated ventures.

SWEET CHARITY

We begin our story at number 13 on Blaenau Ffestiniog High Street, where we find the charity shop, Grandma’s Attic Community Project. Next door at number 14, we see their drop-in centre. While down the road in Porthmadog we find another charity shop and a tea-room.

Grandma’s Attic accepts antiques and bric-a-brac, and it also solicits donations of money. Which it’s said is then used to provide skills, qualifications and employment for those ‘excluded’ by society. All worthy stuff.

Samantha Mountford-Tilley and Gary Halford. Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X top right

But let’s tarry awhile on the website, because there’s always information available.

Starting with the ‘About’ page, where we read: “Launched in February 2018, Grandma’s Attic Community Project is a registered charity (number 1188377).”

Which is not true. It may even be deliberately misleading.

What was registered in February, 2018 was the company Grandma’s Attic Community Project Limited. Which was struck off voluntarily – by its director – in December, 2018.

The charity, Grandma’s Attic Community Project, was not registered with the Charity Commission until 6 March, 2020. What’s more, it’s a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) rather than a traditional charity. I’ll explain the difference in the next section.

There’s another company, Grandma’s Attic Community Project Trading Limited, which was Incorporated 6 September, 2018 as Grandma’s Attic Community Project Blaenau Ffestiniog Limited. The name changed in March this year.

A move that was clearly linked with the registration of the charity.

Also connected with the registration of the charity is the award of £10,000 from the (Lottery) Community Fund for a community transport scheme.

Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right corner

As I know from personal experience, bodies dishing out moolah like to see that you’ve made some effort yourself to raise money, and that’s what Grandma’s Attic did. But even with publicity in the local press the appeal was struggling until it received an anonymous donation of £2,091.

What an odd amount!

Without that donation the figure raised was just £180, and £50 of that came from an earlier anonymous donation. There seems to have been very little local support for this ‘local’ initiative.

Something else worth mentioning is that Grandma’s Attic Community Project Trading Ltd is not a Community Interest Company (CIC). Though it might be trying to give that impression by using ‘Community’ in its name.

Sticking with the website . . .

Awarding qualifications few people have heard of, and may even be worthless, is still big business, there are hundreds if not thousands of companies offering such ‘qualifications’. It’s a racket.

On Grandma’s Attic we find two organisations. ASDAN and SafeCert.

Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right corner

As these outfits go, ASDAN seems kosher. On its website it describes itself as an “awarding organisation”. One of the thousands.

The other logo belongs to ‘SafeCert’, the full name of which is SafeCert Awards Ltd, and it’s based in Omagh, County Tyrone. From where it’s run by Scotsman Paul Horsburgh.

On the home page of the website we read: “We are an Awarding Body through CCEA Accreditation for Northern Ireland, SQA Accreditation that provide a registration and certification service for centres and trainers in Scotland. We await approval through OfQual for England. (My emphases.)

No mention of Wales, where accreditation would be required from the Credit and Qualifications Framework (CQFW). Which might explain why – unlike ASDAN – SafeCert does not appear on the latest CQFW database of September 2020.

This throws up a disturbing possibility.

If Grandma’s Attic is giving children and young people courses in first aid and other subjects designed by SafeCert Awards Ltd, and issuing certificates from the same source, then these may not be recognised in Wales.

WHAT IS A CHARITABLE INCORPORATED BODY?

Over the years I must have looked at hundreds of charities. The usual arrangement is that the charity complements a company of the same name. With accounts submitted to both Companies House and the Charity Commission.

The company – usually a private limited company – is often the ‘trading arm’ of the charity. And the directors of the company will be the trustees of the charity.

A local example would be the Talyllyn Railway. The company is Talyllyn Holdings Ltd and the charity has the same name. The Charity Commission tells us that Talyllyn Holdings is a ‘charitable company’, and it gives the company number to cross reference with Companies House.

This is the usual way. So why has Grandma’s Attic gone for the recently introduced (2013) Charitable Incorporated Body?

You might find the answer here in, ‘What are the benefits of being a CIO instead of a CIC?’ Or here in, ‘Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO): Is it a Suitable Structure for Your Charity?’

Fundamentally, the Grandma’s Attic charity was set up because a CIO has advantages over a CIC. Not least because charities are more likely to get grants. We’ve already seen how charity status has worked with the £10,000 funding for the community bus.

That grant may have even been conditional on Grandma’s Attic becoming a charity.

As it’s explained in the first of the links provided:

“The charity would be eligible to apply to a lot more trusts and foundations that only give grants to registered charities. From a VAT perspective, certain activities delivered via a charity qualify for concessions, and charities don’t pay stamp duty land tax when purchasing properties or leases.”

On the assumption that the properties in Blaenau and Porthmadog are rented or leased, I take this to mean that cheaper leases can now be entered into. While property purchased in the name of Grandma’s Attic will not need to pay Land Transaction Tax.

We also read:

“You’re also more likely to get 100% rate relief – but at the very least you’ll get 80%.”

If I’ve read that correctly, then the tea-room recently opened in Porthmadog could qualify for rate relief on the grounds that it is part of the charity. Which would give it an advantage over long-established eateries in the town. And go some way to explaining why I’ve received complaints from Porthmadog.

But all charities get these advantages. What gives a CIO the edge over a traditional charity is that it’s easier and quicker to set up, and can be done with no money. And of course it doesn’t need to submit anything to Companies House.

Finally, as we read in the second link:

” . . . if things go wrong, the members and trustees are generally not personally liable for any debts or other liabilities that the CIO incurs that are greater than the charity’s assets.”

That could prove useful.

MORE BACKGROUND

Now it’s time to meet the cast. Turning to the entry on the Charity Commission website we can dismiss two of the trustees because they’re young locals employed part time by Grandma’s Attic.

For our purposes we need to concentrate on two whose names we’ve already encountered in an image shown above. I mean Samantha Mountford-Tilley and Gary Halford, who I assume are a couple.

But before that, I need to mention a further trustee, one who is neither local nor one of the ‘family’, a larger-than-life figure.

Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right corner

I’m talking here of Lee ‘Wide Load’ Jobber. As you can see, Lee’s a big lad, and he beats the drum for Leicester City Football Club. Though quite how he fits into the Grandma’s Attic set-up is not clear.

He certainly hasn’t moved to Gwynedd.

Is his presence as a trustee viewed as some kind of celebrity endorsement?

To help me make sense of the backgrounds of those involved with Grandma’s Attic, I compiled a table of the companies they’ve been involved with over the past decade. It paints a rather worrying picture.

You’ll find the table below. Links are provided for the more recent companies in the pdf version but the older ones are not accessible through the normal Companies House portal.

Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right

After collecting these facts there are a number of concerns.

First, we see a pattern that crops up  a lot on this blog – start a company, use the name, fold the company. It’s a tactic used by money launderers and by others, such as the gang at Bryn Llys / ‘Snowdon Summit View’.

The Bryn Llys gang are professional fraudsters. They start companies, open credit accounts with suppliers, place big orders, then flog off the goods delivered; finally, they strike off the company themselves or let creditors do it when they refuse to pay for the goods supplied, or for anything else. (HMRC is a creditor.)

I’m not suggesting that this is what’s happening at Grandma’s Attic. But so many short-lived companies is rarely an encouraging sign.

Though what I find really odd is that, despite having been struck off, some of these companies linked with Granny’s Attic still seem to exist in some ethereal form.

Let’s look at images I’ve plucked from the internet (and there are plenty more) which suggest that the names of companies dead to Companies House are still being used. And that these ‘ghosts’ operate out of Grandma’s Attic.

These are Guildhall Antique Fairs, Guildhall Fairs, and Antiques to Shabby Chic.

Click on any image to enlarge the images in the slideshow. Click on the X in the top right to return to the blog.

Guildhall Fairs and Guildhall Antique Fairs are still running shows since the move from Leicester to Blaenau. So is paperwork being issued in the names of companies that no longer exist?

Or is it cash only?

Another mystery is why Gary Halford is named in a number of the advertisements I found online yet he has never been a director of any of the ‘Guildhall’ companies.

THOUGHTS

Why did Gary Halford and Samantha Mountford-Tilley leave a relatively prosperous city in England to move to a deprived former slate-quarrying town in Gwynedd?

That move is even more curious, and inconvenient, when we realise that they are still organising fairs and antique sales in eastern England. Obviously, these activities have been curtailed by Covid-19, but there are presumably online sales.

Halford and Mountford-Tilley seem to have been in Blaenau for two years or so before the idea of ‘good works’ occurred to them.

But how much has this charitable activity raised? We know they didn’t raise much themselves towards the community bus.

The table of companies above shows a surplus of £603 on a turnover of £15,785 for Grandma’s Attic Community Project Trading Ltd. With £9,344 going on ‘Administrative expenses’, and another £5,697 on ‘Cost of sales’.

Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right corner

As for ‘Administrative expenses’, shouldn’t Halford and Mountford-Tilley be giving their time free of charge? It was their idea to set up Grandma’s Attic as a ‘Community’ company.

Another worry is that commercial enterprises are operating out of the same premises as a charity collecting donations from the public. There are two issues here.

First, there’s the obvious financial benefit of not having to pay council tax on business premises because those premises are registered as a charity shop. There may be other benefits.

The other worry is that private companies sharing premises with a charity collecting the same things could easily result in mix-ups. A valuable item donated to the charity could end up being sold by one of the ‘ghost’ companies at an antiques fair in England.

Despite the modest figures we have seen declared money must be coming in from somewhere. Gary Halford and Samantha Mountford Tilley have already bought one property in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Admittedly, they only paid £86,000, but they didn’t need a loan or a mortgage to make the purchase.

Sources tell me they now plan to buy a much larger property, one that has appeared on this blog. The Market Hall featured in a round-up in July 2019. Click here and scroll down to the section ‘Blaenau Ffestiniog’.

Old Market Hall, Blaenau Ffestiniog. Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right corner

If the rumours are true, then what will this building be used for?

CONCLUSION

Everything may be hunky-dory at Grandma’s Attic and it may do exactly what it says on the tin.

But questions certainly need to be asked about the courses and qualifications on offer from Grandma’s Attic.

Grandma’s Attic must not be allowed to threaten the financial viability of tax-paying local establishments through exploiting its charitable status.

The charity Grandma’s Attic and the private business of antiques fairs and other ventures must be kept entirely separate, and run from different premises.

Until there is clarification on these issues, and local people are reassured, it might be best if official bodies, funding agencies, and others, proceed with caution.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 07.12.2020: Yesterday Grandma’s Attic issued a press release. Read it here.

In it, you’ll read, “From the inception of Grandma’s Attic our charity shop was our source of income to ensure that we were able to make enough money to provide our community-based services.”

Are they saying that a ‘charity shop’ is also a private business and a source of personal income, with no one checking that the two are kept separate? If there is some other interpretation, then I look forward to hearing it.

Also, I read no attempt to address the issue of first aid certificates being awarded in the name of SafeCert, which is not recognised in Wales. Nor was there an attempt to explain why Leicester City super-fan Lee Jobber is a trustee.




Miscellany 26.11.2020

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 is the roundup I promised last week before the Knighton piece just grow’d like Topsy and took over.

Here you’ll find updates on old favourites plus some new faces. Combined they’ll provide a sobering read and a reminder of what a mess Wales is in, due partly to useless, lying politicians down Corruption Bay.

PLAS GLYNLLIFON

This fine old mansion that I’ve written about so many times in recent years in the Weep for Wales series has been sold. Also, the Seiont Manor.

At one time both were owned by Paul and Rowena Williams, but they ran into problems and soon had ‘partners’ in their hour of need. In the form of Myles Cunliffe and his oppo, the ‘King of Marbella’, Jon Disley, always looking for companies in trouble.

And now they’re all gone.

Lest we forget, Paul and Rowena Williams. Click to enlarge

I look forward to learning the identity of the new owners, but I’m fairly sure that he / she / they will fall into one of the following categories. We can but hope that it’s the third.

  • More crooks looking to use the Plas for nefarious purposes.
  • Dreamers, with wonderful ideas but neither the ability nor the money to carry them out.
  • Somebody, or some company, with both the right ideas and the money to realise them.

TRANSPORT FOR WALES GOES OFF THE RAILS

You’ll remember that the Wales and Borders rail franchise was run for some years by Arriva Trains. There were many critics. So when the franchise came up for renewal a couple of years ago it was awarded to French-Spanish partnership KeolisAmey.

That didn’t work out either, with KeolisAmey being fined £3.2m in January for its poor service, with Covid adding more misery through falling passenger numbers. Now the rail service is being nationalised by the ‘Welsh Government’.

Despite my right of centre views on economic and other matters, I believe that essential services should be run by the state as national assets. With one condition, and that is that these services should be run by people who know what they’re doing.

That will not happen in Wales. The statist majority in Corruption Bay has taken over the railways not to provide a better service but because they’re control freaks. Don’t be surprised if the signalling system is handed over to a third sector body approved by lobbyists Deryn.

Unbeknownst to most of those who drive under Machynlleth’s railway bridge, there is a depot nearby where the trains from the Cambrian Coast and the Aberystwyth-Shrewsbury lines are brought overnight for cleaning, maintenance, and repair.

It’s a major employer in the town. (But perhaps not for much longer, thanks to Transport for Wales. An issue I might return to in a later post.)

Two men have been hanging around Mach’ railway station for a few weeks. For a while, no one knew who they were, or what they were doing. I think I now have the story.

As part of the Covid-19 arrangements extra portakabins were brought in for the staff. Hired from a company called W H Welfare, part of the Kelling Group of Normanton, in West Yorkshire, a few miles south east of Leeds.

The two mystery men are security guards who came with the portakabins. The problem being that the portakabins are inside the compound, behind the security gate, and the portakabin guards do have not have clearance to enter the compound. So they’re stuck outside, and to look useful, or just to while away the time, they seem to turn up to meet the trains.

But Machynlleth ain’t Grand Central Station. So that doesn’t give them much to do.

Now these two security men must be staying locally, which means that their wages and accommodation will be included in the portakabin hire charge.

The incompetence doesn’t end there. The portakabins run on a generator – a petrol generator. There is no petrol on site except in the workers’ cars. Everything else is diesel.

Am I making this up? No. Am I drunk? How dare you!

So, we have two men at a small Welsh railway station, doing sod all, but costing a lot of money. Because of course it’s all being paid for by Transport for Wales. Which means the ‘Welsh Government’. Which means you and me.

Portakabins1
Potakabins3
Portakabins2
PlayPause
Shadow

It’s reasonable to assume that Machynlleth isn’t the only station or depot for which these portakabins were hired. Plus of course the security men. So how much money is being squandered in this way?

And come to that, is there nowhere in Wales where portakabins could have been sourced? And sourced cheaper? I’m sure there is. Which means that in addition to the incompetence we have the issue of a ‘Welsh Government’ agency sending money out of Wales.

It looks as if someone in Transport for Wales has made a massive cock-up. Or is someone getting a backhander from a firm in West Yorkshire?

MARGAM MOUNTAIN

Last month I brought you the tale of yet another foreign-owned windfarm being dumped on Wales with the enthusiastic support of the planet-savers in the ‘Welsh Government’ and Plaid Cymru.

You’ll find it here, just scroll down to the section, “Another ‘Community-owned, local benefits’ wind farm. Not”.

Image: Beryl Richards. Mynydd Margam. Click to enlarge

As I wrote in that earlier piece, “this particular project is a joint English-Irish venture. From Ireland we have state-owned ESB, while from England (possibly Scotland) we have Coriolis Energy Ltd.”

As you can see from the link, the website is very basic, perhaps explained by the fact that Companies House tells us Coriolis Energy is almost £100,000 in debt.

It’s difficult to figure out why ESB needs Coriolis. Maybe it’s to fulfil a similar role to that of Invis Energy of County Cork, which has been working on Meenbog wind farm, on the Donegal-Tyrone border.

Where there was recently a massive slippage of peat into the Mourne Beg river, part of the Foyle system. Just watch the trees go sailing by in the video!

 

The lesson here is that erecting bloody big wind turbines, each one sunk into thousands of tons of concrete, will have consequences when such idiocy is encouraged in sensitive environments.

Such as Irish peat bogs, and Welsh hillsides from which thousands upon thousands of rain-absorbing trees have been cut, and from which acres of equally absorbent peat has been removed.

Another worry for those living close to the proposed development on Mynydd Margam is that the planned turbines will be 750 tall. As any child playing with blocks will tell you, the higher you try to build it, the more difficult it gets to keep it standing.

Which is why I was not surprised to learn from a regular correspondent in northern Sweden – who took time off from herding his reindeer – that a 755 foot turbine in his neck of the woods had recently come crashing down. Here’s a report from ABC News.

I believe a re-think is needed. Not just on this development on Margam Mountain but on all onshore wind developments in Wales. Because . . .

  • No permanent jobs have resulted from the dozens of wind farms desecrating our countryside. 
  • No manufacturing has been encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’ so that we can build the turbines here – they’ve all been imported.
  • First by smoky ships, and then by huge, diesel-powered trucks and trailers, before trees are felled and peat removed to accommodate them in concrete bases the size of football pitches. Making a nonsense of wind turbines’ claimed green credentials.
  • In fact, before a blade turns, each wind turbine will have caused more damage to the environment than it can make up for in its short and fitful life.
  • No Welsh companies have emerged to run or own wind turbines other than tiny, ‘hippy’ enterprises reliant on public largesse.
  • No skills base has been developed that Wales could benefit from and export.
  • And it’s increasingly likely that wind turbines contribute to flooding.

The ‘progressive’ parties have allowed – even encouraged – Wales to be exploited and cheated in this way just so that they could look virtuous to a certain lobby.

When it comes to serving England’s interests, things in Wales are not a lot different in the 21st century to earlier times. Just disguised by the gloss of devolution, and bullshit about ‘Wales saving the planet’.

But it’s the same old exploitation.

BRYN LLYS

Where would a roundup like this be without a trip to Bryn Llys or, more specifically, Caernarfon magistrates court.

The latest of the Duggan gang to appear has been Jon Duggan himself, on November 16. His large dogs got out – again! – and attacked neighbours’ poultry. But of course, in the parallel universe inhabited by these clowns, it was probably the chickens’ fault.

I’m afraid I can’t link to any press report because I can’t find one. But Duggan was fined £300. Then there was compensation of £30, victim surcharge of £32, and CPS costs of £640. Making a grand total of £1,002.00.

Bryn Llys, aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’. Click to enlarge

I know those are the facts because my source is reliable, and I have even been supplied with a case number.

In related news, Bryn Llys Ltd is threatened with strike-off by Companies House. Though I suppose this company might have already served its purpose.

By which I mean the Duggan gang’s MO is to start a company, open bank accounts, sign up for credit accounts with assorted suppliers and then order goods and equipment, sell it all on, then let the company be struck off, or liquidate it, without paying for anything.

Finally, the deadline for Duggan to comply with the Enforcement Order and remove the unauthorised roadway he has laid on his recently acquired land was Friday, November 20. He has of course made no effort to comply. Cyngor Gwynedd has been informed.

This episode was covered in September, in ‘Bryn Llys, the Liverpool connection‘. That Liverpool connection was solicitor Kathryn Elizabeth Parry. She’d had her own company, Parry and Co Solicitors Limited, since liquidated; and now she’s a partner in a company formed in October last year, Victor Welsh Legal Limited.

A dicky-bird tells me that when Duggan appeared before the bench to answer for the Great Chicken Massacre he was accompanied by a female solicitor from Liverpool.

Fancy that!

COMPANIES HOUSE

Over the years I’ve complained about Companies House being toothless, nothing more than a filing system, or a box-ticking exercise. Here’s a recent example that came to my attention in a roundabout sort of way.

Someone got in touch because they were angry at certain new properties in Llanarthne, a village just off the A40, roughly midway between Llandeilo and Carmarthen. These were four- and five-bed ‘executive homes’ in the Mulberry Grove development.

The development’s name, and the prices being asked, suggested that the developer was not anticipating many local buyers.

Click to enlarge

The company behind it was GS6, formed as recently as May 2018. The project had been funded, in part at least, by Emma Ruth Developments Limited. And it’s when I looked at this company that I got a bit of a shock.

The last accounts filed were for year ending 30 October 2016! And these showed a net book value of just £949.00.

Companies House made the gesture of compulsory strike-off towards the end of 2018, but it was discontinued after an objection. But in 2019 – nothing! And nothing in 2020 until I contacted them. The company is now scheduled for strike-off to begin December 1st.

The response I got a few days ago reads:

“I can advise that the company has already been reminded accordingly to deliver the outstanding accounts in accordance with the Companies Act 2006.

Our records show that accounts for the period ending 30/10/2017, 30/10/2018 and 30/10/2019 and also the confirmation statement for the period ending 14/06/2020 remain overdue and we are currently taking action to remove the company from the register. 

In order to proceed with this course of action it is necessary to issue statutory letters to the company leading to a publication in the London Gazette.

Any objections against the proposed dissolution will be considered once the notice of our intention has been published in the London Gazette. All creditors and interested parties should be aware that objection must be in writing and need to be provided with supporting evidence.

Also, if you believe that the company or any of its employees have acted fraudulently then this matter should be reported to Investigation and Enforcement Services. The Company Investigations team within the Insolvency Service has the power to investigate limited companies where information received suggests corporate abuse; this may include serious misconduct, fraud, scams or sharp practice in the way a company operates. They have investigatory powers to look into the affairs of a company where this is evidence of fraud or misfeasance and can be contacted at
Intelligence.live@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk”

I’m not sure if Emma Ruth Developments has acted fraudulently but I’d like to know how a company that shouldn’t even be in existence is allowed to lend money to another company.

I might also ask why Companies House has done sod all for so long . . . but I’d be wasting my time.

KNIGHTON HOTEL

Last week we were in Knighton, reading about a bunch of selfless people on a civilising mission. En passant I mentioned the Knighton Hotel, where once Paul Williams was cock o’ the walk . . . or something.

A source informs me that the old pile has been sold. And the new owner is Na’Ím Anís Paymán. A 26-year-old German citizen of German and Iranian Baha’i origins who grew up in Albania and studied at Cambridge. More in this brief autobiography.

The two-part Knighton Hotel. Click to enlarge

In fact, he seems to be quite the self-publicist, with a number of videos online. But he still comes across as a likeable young man.

Paymán has formed a number of companies since 2015 and I have no reason to suspect that he’s anything other than a genuine young entrepreneur looking to make himself rich. An ambition that causes me no sleepless nights.

In the hope that it riles lefties, I’ll say it again: a genuine young entrepreneur looking to make himself rich.

If he does that by providing work for local people, if he uses local companies, tradesmen and suppliers, then all well and good.

If he takes a wrong path, then I’m sure I’ll be writing about him again.

RSL FUNDING

I recently gave you the figures for amounts of Social Housing Grant (SHG) received by our Registered Social Landlords, otherwise known as housing associations. Here’s a link to the table I put together. (Scroll left?)

In the ten years 2010-2011 to 2019-2020 the headline figure for SHG was £966,608,902. Obviously, some RSLs got more than others, and none got more than Labour’s favourite RSL, where the CEO is the wife of a Cardiff Labour councillor.

For Wales & West Housing was handed the princely sum of £99,483,507.

I have since received the figures for RSL funding in addition to SHG, for the period 01.01.2010 to 31.10.2020. The funding covered is: Housing Finance Grant, Affordable Housing Grant, Rent to Own, Physical Adaptation Grant, Innovative Housing Programme (grant and loan), Land for Housing Scheme (loan) and Registered Social Landlord Loans.

Eleven local authorities received a total of £19,969,000. While our RSLs were given £370,738,000. Once again, the big winner was Wales & West, with £39,341,000.

Combining the funding from various pots gives us £1,337,346,982. That is £1.34bn.

Of which Wales & West has received £138,824,507. Just over 10% of all the funding given to some 30 or more active RSLs.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR MILFORD HAVEN?

The Milford Haven Waterway is one of the finest deep-water anchorages on Earth, and has been recognised as such for centuries. In recent times it has attracted oil and gas companies because their huge tankers can be easily accommodated.

The area also attracts its share of con men. Who can forget Admiral Wing Commander of the SAS Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen VC, Croix de Guerre, Iron Cross (1st Class), Purple Heart and the Order of Lenin, who planned to turn Fort Hubberstone in Milford Haven into a home for ex-service personnel.

The Last Post was blown for Camp Valour CIC a year ago. Read about it here.

Hot on the heels of the Camp Valour project at Fort Hubberstone came a group of ‘investors’ looking to buy a different fort, The Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock. I wrote about that in Old Defensible Barracks, and the imaginatively titled sequel, Old Defensible Barracks 2.

Old Defensible Barracks. Click to enlarge

Those involved had not yet bought the Barracks when I first wrote about them, or certainly, the Land Registry had not been informed of a change of ownership. This has now been registered and we can see from the title document that the owners are Walker Property Developments Limited.

This company was launched 14.08.2018 as Muniment Yorkshire Ltd. It became Walker Property Developments 06.07.2019, before changing its name again 02.10.2019 to VR 1844 Limited.

I assume that VR stands for Victoria Regina and 1844 tells us that the Old Defensible Barracks was built in that year.

Despite the developers saying they planned to turn the old place into apartments (see the article below, and here in pdf format), I suspected that the real attraction was the closeness to the estuary, connecting with Brexit and the need for space to park lorries. Because there is an extensive piece of land between the Barracks and the water, clearly visible in the image above.

Click to enlarge

And of course, the Pembroke-Rosslare ferry is almost next door.

This suspicion was strengthened by the Singapore connection found with the directors of Walker Property Developments – including the eponymous Walker, who lives there – and Singaporean connections with another coastal site, in the Six Counties, and again, very close to ferry ports.

Lorry parks may still be the objective, but as I mentioned towards the end of the second article, there is also the possibilty of Milford Haven, or the whole Waterway, becoming a freeport. Which, again, could account for the interest from Singapore, which is perhaps the biggest freeport in the world.

Others have also been buying sections of the Waterway shoreline. With interest coming from equally exotic locations: Cyprus, Jordan . . . Carmarthenshire.

Let’s start in September 2015, with WalesOnline gilding a press release – no questions, no critical analysis. To believe the report, a company nobody’d heard of was going to bring 560 jobs to Milford Haven over the next five years through, “£685 million in a Centre of Renewable Energy Excellence”.

The company named in the fable was, “Cypriot-owned energy company” Egnedol Ltd. We were told it had bought the former Gulf refinery at Waterston and the neighbouring RNAD mine depot at Blackbridge.

The biomass facility planned for Blackbridge was turned down in June 2018.

Click to enlarge

There are a number of Egnedol companies, with the Blackbridge site owned by Egnedol Pembroke Eco Power Ltd, according to the Land Registry title document.

The old refinery site nearby appears to be owned by Egnedol Bio-Energy Limited. Certainly, that’s what the Land Registry document suggests.

I hedge my bets because there are caveats attaching to the ownership of both sites.

The Blackbridge site has received loans from Suleiman Al Daoud, of Amman, Jordan. Who in September became a director of Egnedol Wales Limited. So he could be said to now own the site. By the same token, he could also be said to own the oil refinery site.

UPDATE: I got to wondering about Suleiman Al Daoud. The Al Daoud Group is an established company that seems to concentrate on residential properties and retail complexes in Jordan.

I can’t find any evidence of the Group operating outside of Jordan. So what attracted Suleiman Al Daoud to Milford Haven?

Then there is yet another company, Egnedol UK Limited, which uses a Milford Haven address but with directors Dr Robert Prigmore and Steven Whitehouse living in the Ammanford area.

Prigmore and Whitehouse appear in the other Egnedol companies, together with Antonis Andrea Antoniadis, who maintains the Cyprus connection.

The RNAD site is marked with the red spot and the oil refinery site is to the right of it. Click to enlarge

And if Cyprus and Jordan weren’t enough overseas involvement, Prigmore and Whitehouse have yet another company, Azolis UK Ltd, formed as recently as September this year, where we find two French directors.

Explained by the fact that this latest company is an offshoot or subsidiary of French renewables company Azolis, which has offices in Fontainebleau and Casablanca.

So, all this overseas interest in Milford Haven Waterway, what does it mean? What does the future hold? The possibilities appear to be:

  • Brexit-related, possibly lorry parks.
  • Hoping to cash in on the Swansea Bay City Deal.
  • Anticipating a freeport and getting in ahead of the rush.
  • A home for nuclear subs when Scotland goes independent.

One thing I guarantee. Whatever happens, it’ll be strangers reaping the benefits, as always. That’s the way Wales is run, and devolution has brought no improvement.

In fairness, the ‘Welsh Government’ may have no influence over what’s happening on the Milford Haven Waterway. It could all be planned at a higher level and those clowns might be told at a later date.

Then again, why bother!

♦ end ♦

 




Housing in Wales

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

The title tells you what this week’s article is about. I’m going to look at how the picture has changed in the past few years.

THE BIG PICTURE

Obviously, there are different types of housing, from mansions like Jac o’ the North Towers to more modest owner-occupied properties; then we have social rent properties, and properties rented from private landlords.

So let’s start by looking at how types of tenure have changed over the past two decades. (The year up to March 31, 2001 is the earliest I can find on the StatsWales website.)

The table I’ve drawn up is fairly self-explanatory. ‘Registered Social Landlord’ (RSL) is of course the official term for housing associations.

Click to enlarge

The headline figure is that there are 163,067 more dwellings or housing units in 2020 than there were in 2001. Though in the same period the population rose from 2,910,232 to 3,152,879, while the average household size fell from 2.36 to 2.26.

In fact, if we multiply the total number of housing units by the average household size we arrive at a figure of 3,248,901.42. Almost a hundred thousand more than the population estimate. But of course calculations are complicated by people living in care homes, prisons and other institutions. And then there are holiday homes. And properties that have just been abandoned, where it’s often difficult to track the owner.

So, all things considered – and without taking my socks off to do some really serious figuring! – we have roughly the same availability of housing in relation to demand as we had twenty years ago. Maybe things are worse.

Something else we can extract from the table is that in 2001 19% of Welsh properties were social rents, whereas the figure today is just 16%.

But perhaps the biggest change has been the doubling in the percentage of properties now rented from private landlords.

If current trends continue then very soon more people, more families, will rent from private landlords than from councils and housing associations combined. This of course is what the Conservatives want, but why is it happening in ‘progressive’ Wales?

SOCIAL HOUSING

In 2001 we had 242,853 units of social housing. By 2020 this had fallen to 229,902, a decrease of 12,951. Found in this table.

Partly explained by 34,829 units being sold in this period under the Right to Buy legislation introduced in 1980 by the first Thatcher government, with this later supplemented by Right to Acquire.

Though offset by the building of 21,878 social rented housing units in the same period. Just over 1,000 a year.

Right to Acquire is Englandandwales legislation introduced by the Blair government and in operation from 18 January, 2005. Explained more fully here.

Click to enlarge

At this point I should tell you that not all sales of social housing are accounted for by Right to Buy and Right to Acquire because this table tells us there have also been sales of “non-social housing”. Though I don’t understand why the figure for this category is only shown from 2013 – 2014. Though there’s certainly been a steady increase since then.

Building just over one thousand social housing units a year must be considered a failure after two decades of socialist administrations in Cardiff Bay. Especially when we remember that in 1979 – 1980 (immediately before Right to Buy was introduced) Welsh local authorities built 3,322 new council homes. (RSLs built a further 377.)

And a thousand a year looks even less impressive when we remember that in the period of devolution a couple of billion pounds in capital grant funding has been given to an ever-expanding galaxy of housing associations.

In the past five years alone, £574 million pounds of Social Housing Grant (SHG) has been paid to housing associations. Wales & West, Labour’s favourite, has seen £61m of it.

SHG is not the only capital grant paid. There’s also the Housing Finance Grant.

I’ve drawn up a table for SHG payments you can view by clicking here. It’s quite a big table, so please have patience.

(I should add that while the bottom line is correct I can’t vouch for every figure in every column. I may have made a mistake or two in transcribing them. So here are the figures I received.)

While the amount paid in SHG from 2015 – 2016 to 2019 – 2020 was 20% more than for the previous five years the stock of social rented housing increased in the same period by less than 2%.

We know that housing association executives like to pay themselves big salaries, and drive fancy company cars . . . shiny new offices are a must . . . and how can they miss out on all the conferences and other jollies, but these could never account for the increasing gulf between funding received and social housing built.

Something else must be going on.

If nothing else, Wales is following England in providing less social rented housing. So much for Rhodri Morgan’s, “clear red water”. So much for, “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”.

Click to enlarge

The Tories came to power in 2010, and that’s when the decline started. Clearly, the Labour management team in Corruption Bay is following Conservative directives when it comes to social rented housing.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

If we take the period 2014 – 2015 to 2019 – 2020 we see that it covers important changes in the way RSLs are regulated, and also how they operate.

I’m sure most people didn’t notice, but in the past five years Welsh housing associations were originally private bodies, were then made public, before being privatised again.

It was the Office for National Statistics that decided they should be public bodies due to the amount of public funding they were receiving. Plus the political involvement. But making them public bodies transferred their debts to the public ledger and so the parliaments in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff quickly privatised them again.

It’s explained clearly and succinctly in the article below from Inside Housing, just click on it to make it readable. (Here’s a link to the original article.)

I bet you’re thinking . . . ‘If housing associations are now private companies, why are they still getting lashings of public funding?’ Funding that, as we’ve seen, has greatly increased since they were ‘re-privatised’!

The answer is that they’ve branched out into building private housing.

To such an extent that, in addition to the public funding, our housing associations are also taking out private loans with various financial institutions.

Here’s a report from May of United Welsh of Caerphilly, which has just 6,000 properties, borrowing £50m from Scottish Widows.

In July we learnt Coastal Housing Group of Swansea had entered into a £250m ‘refinancing’ deal with Aviva Investors.

In August, Cadwyn Housing Association of Cardiff did a deal with Westbourne Capital Partners of Chicago.

And other housing associations have done similar deals with organisations much sharper than them in the ways of the financial world. I do hope they’ve read the small print.

Though I suppose the only real collateral housing associations have is their housing stock. If they default, does this mean that Welsh social housing stock gets taken over by lenders? Or will the ‘Welsh Government’ step in with yet more money?

Talking of the ‘Welsh Government’, if RSLs need money for investment, why can’t they go to the Development Bank of Wales (DBW), which is already lending to other builders, many from over the border?

So let’s recap. Housing associations, now private bodies, still receive increasing amounts of public funding. Yet they also enter into arrangements with financial institutions around the world. And let’s not forget that the other major source of income – perhaps the major source – is rents from the housing stock they own. Most of which came free as stock transfers from local authorities.

Another noteworthy feature in this period is that most if not all of our housing associations have set up subsidiary companies, or companies that are not subsidiaries but still part of the group.

SUBSIDIARIES, PARTNERS, PRIVATE HOUSING

An example would be the relationship between Ateb (formerly Pembrokeshire Housing Association) and Mill Bay Homes Ltd (MBH). The latter, despite being a separate company, is a “wholly controlled subsidiary company of Ateb Group Ltd”.

The arrangement is that MBH builds and sells market properties and the profits go to parent company Ateb to build social housing or ‘affordable homes’. Which might be fine if Mill Bay Homes had its own money . . . but it hasn’t, it relies on loans from Ateb.

Which means that the ‘Welsh Government’ funds a RSL to build social housing but the money in fact goes to a subsidiary to build open market homes (that most locals may not be able to afford) with a fraction of the original money returning to the parent company.

What is the point of such a system?

While Mill Bay Homes is a company registered with Companies House the Ateb Group is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

As we’ve seen with other housing associations, the Ateb Group has also borrowed money recently. Last month from the Principality Building Society. Back in July it was a loan of £18m from bLEND Funding PLC.

Officially, a cash security trust deed.

Click to enlarge

Eighteen bloody million! How much does a relatively small, rural housing association need? It’s already getting money from the ‘Welsh Government’, and seems to have stopped providing social rented housing.

A visit to the Ateb Group website turns up what you see below. Quite clearly, Ateb is now a private house builder with social rented accommodation an afterthought.

Click to enlarge

Click on ‘homes for sale’ and you of course get taken to the Mill Bay Homes website.

And there seem to be some rum doings between the two.

I am indebted to Wynne Jones in Cardigan for these documents from the Land Registry website (from which I have redacted a few names in the second).

A property on this development in Cilgerran (Ceredigion) was built by MBH, with money borrowed from Ateb, then sold to Ateb for £164,950 in October 2019; the following month Ateb sold a 125-year lease on the property for £57,733.

What business model is this?

Mill Bay Homes makes no secret of the fact that it’s punting for retirees and ‘investors’. The latter category will include Buy-to-Rent landlords, and whaddya know – one of the new Cilgerran properties is already being advertised for rent.

Plot 3 at Maes Rheithordy, Cilgerran, is being rented for £670 per calendar month through Jac y Do Letting of Blaenporth.

A similar arrangement to that between Ateb and Mill Bay Homes exists in Gwynedd between Adra (formerly Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd), which took over Gwynedd council’s housing stock some ten years ago, and its subsidiary, Medra Cyf.

A few days ago Adra put out this puff about building 1,200 new homes across ‘North Wales’. The “housing crisis” referred to is perhaps the lack of housing for commuters in the A55 corridor.

Click to enlarge

The subsidiary that will be doing much of the building is Medra . . . with a loan from Adra.

This loan between a Welsh RSL and its subsidiary was arranged by London law firm Trowers & Hamlins. I’ve seen that name in other loans I’ve looked at. Are there no lawyers in Wales?

Of course there are, so who’s directing them to that company?

Also worth highlighting from recent years, in addition to the proliferation of subsidiaries, is the strange partnerships we see being forged.

For an example of this we stay in the north, with Cartrefi Conwy, based in Abergele.

I’ve written about this lot a few times. Below you’ll read what I had to say earlier this year, in Housing Associations, a broken model. The Byzantine network of ‘partners’ also throws up a mystery investor.

“Cartrefi Conwy set up a subsidiary in 2015 called Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company). Then, in May 2018, Creating Enterprise went into partnership with Brenig Developments Ltd to form Calon Homes. (Assets at 31 May 2019 £37,853.)

From the Creating Enterprise CIC accounts for y/e 31 March 2019. Click to enlarge

As I wrote back in November: “There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.”

When we look at the directors for Brenig Developments Ltd we find Mark Timothy Parry and Howard Rhys Vaughan. Both are also directors of Brenig Homes Ltd.”

Another horse out of the Brenig stable is Brenig Construction Ltd. Just another local building firm, run by local people . . . so impeccably local in fact that it could have come from League of Gentlemen.

But then, in December last year, a new director joined, a man who might have been taking his life in his hands if he’d turned up in the Royston Vasey shop.

I’m referring now to Yin Han, a Chinese businessman, presumably bringing a lot of yuan. For when I say Chinese businessman I do not mean that he hails from Hong Kong or Taiwan. Yin Han is a resident and citizen of the People’s Republic of China.

How did Yin Han and Brenig Construction find each other? What do we know about him? I guarantee he did not get involved with Brenig Construction without permission from back home. And that means the Communist Party.

These subsidiaries and partners, together with the loans and investment, are needed to build private housing for sale on the open market.

But housing associations are now private entities, so why do they need subsidiaries and partners to build open market housing? Surely they could do it in their own names?

Of course they could, but that would make it too obvious and probably jeopardise the public funding. So we have this charade of public money for social housing being given to RSLs and then filtered through intermediaries to build private housing.

And the ‘Welsh Government’ is a willing party to this deception.

‘AFFORDABLE HOUSING’

As a student of history, I’ve always loved Palmerston’s quote: “Only three people have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business – the Prince Consort, who is dead – a German professor, who has gone mad – and I, who have forgotten all about it.”

It comes to mind when I see the term ‘affordable housing’. Because there’s a great deal of confusion as to what it means.

It’s important to get a definition because it’s what RSLs now claim to be building, and what the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ is funding.

Is the ‘Welsh Government’ really proud of these figures? And ‘Rent to own’ in fact offers people a share of a lease! Click to enlarge

When I contacted the ‘Welsh Government’ I was referred to a publication wherein was found . . .

“The concept of affordability is generally defined as the ability of households or potential households to purchase or rent property that satisfies the needs of the household without subsidy (further guidance is provided in the Local  Housing Market Assessment Guide) 7 This could be based on an assessment of the ratio of household income or earnings to the price of property to buy or rent available in the open market in the required local housing market area.”

Which is interesting, and for two reasons.

If the concept of affordability is based on what local people on local wages can afford, then why is ‘affordable housing’ not reserved for those same local people? I ask because all the term means in practice is that a few properties in a development are labelled ‘affordable’ – but still put on the open market.

And if a small number of properties in a development are classed as ‘affordable’ then it must follow that the majority of the properties are regarded as unaffordable to most locals. So why are we building so many properties – with public funding! – beyond the reach of most local buyers?

The woolly term ‘affordable housing’ is just a fig leaf for the ‘Welsh Government’ and RSLs to disguise the fact that very little social housing is being delivered.

We are encouraged to believe that ‘affordable housing’ is for local people, or that it means social rented properties. Wrong.

CONCLUSION

This system, as I’ve argued before, is broken. It is broken because it consumes vast amounts of Welsh public funding for little or no Welsh public benefit.

Another cause for concern is that just as many third sector bodies are agencies of the Labour Party a similar picture emerges with housing associations.

In fact, housing associations and third sector bodies operate hand in glove, with the former housing the disruptive ‘clients’ of the latter, many of whom have been shipped into Wales. It’s collaboration like this that contributes to the problems we’ve looked at in Tyisha, Llanelli.

‘Welsh’ Labour’s little empire; stuffed with cronies and others dependent on political patronage and public handouts.

Take Wales & West, which I’ve referred to as Labour’s favourite. The CEO is Anne Hinchey, whose hubby Graham is a Labour Councillor in Cardiff. This explains why Wales & West has pulled down £100m in Social Housing Grant alone in the past decade.

And yet, let us remember that the reason the Office for National Statistics decided to put housing associations into the public sector was because there was so much governmental control!

As the June 2018 article from Inside Housing I reproduced above put it,

“In a letter to the Welsh Government sent yesterday, the ONS left open the possibility to reclassify individual associations as public should the level of state control increase.”

A strong case could be made for reclassifying a number of Welsh housing associations. Certainly Wales & West.

Where do we go from here?

I suggest that it starts with making it clear we do not want housing associations to build properties for sale to Home Counties retirees in Pembrokeshire, or to Manchester commuters in Denbighshire.

The sole duty of Welsh housing associations must be to deliver homes to Welsh people at sales prices or rents WE can afford.

If they are unable or unwilling to fulfil that role then I believe we should let our local councils provide social rented housing. Ensure they are well enough funded to provide decent accommodation to any and all local people wanting it. And make strong local connections the over-riding consideration in allocating those properties.

Then cut all funding to housing associations, which are, after all, private companies. Let them borrow from private lenders – as they are already doing – and cease being a burden on the public purse.

Whatever is decided, the present system is broken. Changes must be made. Even if you think this doesn’t affect you, just think what we could do with the money saved!

♦ end ♦

 

 




Miscellany 14.10.2020

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

This week we’re back to the Miscellany format, with a mixture of updates and new reports. It’s big, but broken up into digestible chunks.

GWYNFRYN 

To make sense of this section you’ll need to know what has preceded it. So if you haven’t read the previous issues I suggest you start with ‘Residential units’ – how many is too many?. This was followed with an update in Poor Wales: magnet for property spivs, fraudsters, and enviroshysters.

What remains of the Gwynfryn estate of Hugh John Ellis-Nanney near Llanystumdwy has been split. Philip Andrew Bush has retained the land for himself after selling the shell of the house – which was badly damaged by fire in 1982 – to his good friend Aaron Hill, with whom Bush stays when he visits the area.

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.

Click to enlarge

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.

Click to enlarge

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.

OPD GARRISONS

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.

Click to enlarge

Though since I wrote about them (scroll down to section ‘(swivel) eyes right!’ they have renamed themselves the Five Star Direct Democracy Party. And they’ll be standing next year in the elections for what they still call the Welsh Assembly.

(It’s going to be a crowded field on the BritNat fringe!)

But thankfully there appears to be no connection between the would-be eco-warriors and those seeking to marry up Great with Britain again.

That said, it’s difficult figuring out which organisation is actually behind this project, because a number are named.

In no particular order, they are: Garrison Farm CIC (originally Project One Ecovillage) a company formed in March; the Community Ecological Land Trust (CELT); and EcoSpace Housing Co-operative, which seems to have an address in Swansea and can be found on the Directory of community-led housing in Wales website, but about which I know little else.

Click to enlarge

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.

Something that – coincidentally! –  I’ve exposed quite recently. Scroll down to ‘One Planet Developments’.

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.

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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”.

Another company involved is Cambrian Birds, which is not an escort agency (as I’d hoped), but organises days out for the kind of braying ass prepared to pay £395 for a ‘sock’. (Not sure if that’s one sock or a pair.)

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!

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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.

It’s time to introduce Diverse Cymru. The name says a lot.

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.

Image: BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

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.

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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.

Let’s focus on the money for a bit.

The company is actually called Diverse Excellence Cymru Ltd. And it should go without saying that in addition to the grant funding it has also received a loan from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’s, Finance Wales Investments Ltd.

(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.

While it seems to have a free hand in the south west, in Newport Diverse Cymru “works alongside the Council’s Independent Living Advisors”. Click to enlarge

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.

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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.

Tristan appeared on this site in Not another one!, after which he was called back for a few curtain-calls in Wales, colonialism and corruption (scroll down to section ‘Llangefni Hire Hall’), Miscellany 06.06.2020 (‘Ynys Môn 2’), before finally putting his head around the curtain in Odds & Sods 22.07.2020 (‘Llangefni Shire Hall’).

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.

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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.

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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.

♦ end ♦