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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
If the rumours are true, then what will this building be used for?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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”.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.email@example.com”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
The title tells you what this week’s article is about. I’m going to look at how the picture has changed in the past few years.
THE BIG PICTURE
Obviously, there are different types of housing, from mansions like Jac o’ the North Towers to more modest owner-occupied properties; then we have social rent properties, and properties rented from private landlords.
So let’s start by looking at how types of tenure have changed over the past two decades. (The year up to March 31, 2001 is the earliest I can find on the StatsWales website.)
The table I’ve drawn up is fairly self-explanatory. ‘Registered Social Landlord’ (RSL) is of course the official term for housing associations.
The headline figure is that there are 163,067 more dwellings or housing units in 2020 than there were in 2001. Though in the same period the population rose from 2,910,232 to 3,152,879, while the average household size fell from 2.36 to 2.26.
In fact, if we multiply the total number of housing units by the average household size we arrive at a figure of 3,248,901.42. Almost a hundred thousand more than the population estimate. But of course calculations are complicated by people living in care homes, prisons and other institutions. And then there are holiday homes. And properties that have just been abandoned, where it’s often difficult to track the owner.
So, all things considered – and without taking my socks off to do some really serious figuring! – we have roughly the same availability of housing in relation to demand as we had twenty years ago. Maybe things are worse.
Something else we can extract from the table is that in 2001 19% of Welsh properties were social rents, whereas the figure today is just 16%.
But perhaps the biggest change has been the doubling in the percentage of properties now rented from private landlords.
If current trends continue then very soon more people, more families, will rent from private landlords than from councils and housing associations combined. This of course is what the Conservatives want, but why is it happening in ‘progressive’ Wales?
In 2001 we had 242,853 units of social housing. By 2020 this had fallen to 229,902, a decrease of 12,951. Found in this table.
Partly explained by 34,829 units being sold in this period under the Right to Buy legislation introduced in 1980 by the first Thatcher government, with this later supplemented by Right to Acquire.
Though offset by the building of 21,878 social rented housing units in the same period. Just over 1,000 a year.
Right to Acquire is Englandandwales legislation introduced by the Blair government and in operation from 18 January, 2005. Explained more fully here.
At this point I should tell you that not all sales of social housing are accounted for by Right to Buy and Right to Acquire because this table tells us there have also been sales of “non-social housing”. Though I don’t understand why the figure for this category is only shown from 2013 – 2014. Though there’s certainly been a steady increase since then.
Building just over one thousand social housing units a year must be considered a failure after two decades of socialist administrations in Cardiff Bay. Especially when we remember that in 1979 – 1980 (immediately before Right to Buy was introduced) Welsh local authorities built 3,322 new council homes. (RSLs built a further 377.)
And a thousand a year looks even less impressive when we remember that in the period of devolution a couple of billion pounds in capital grant funding has been given to an ever-expanding galaxy of housing associations.
In the past five years alone, £574 million pounds of Social Housing Grant (SHG) has been paid to housing associations. Wales & West, Labour’s favourite, has seen £61m of it.
We know that housing association executives like to pay themselves big salaries, and drive fancy company cars . . . shiny new offices are a must . . . and how can they miss out on all the conferences and other jollies, but these could never account for the increasing gulf between funding received and social housing built.
Something else must be going on.
If nothing else, Wales is following England in providing less social rented housing. So much for Rhodri Morgan’s, “clear red water”. So much for, “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”.
The Tories came to power in 2010, and that’s when the decline started. Clearly, the Labour management team in Corruption Bay is following Conservative directives when it comes to social rented housing.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
If we take the period 2014 – 2015 to 2019 – 2020 we see that it covers important changes in the way RSLs are regulated, and also how they operate.
I’m sure most people didn’t notice, but in the past five years Welsh housing associations were originally private bodies, were then made public, before being privatised again.
It was the Office for National Statistics that decided they should be public bodies due to the amount of public funding they were receiving. Plus the political involvement. But making them public bodies transferred their debts to the public ledger and so the parliaments in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff quickly privatised them again.
I bet you’re thinking . . . ‘If housing associations are now private companies, why are they still getting lashings of public funding?’ Funding that, as we’ve seen, has greatly increased since they were ‘re-privatised’!
The answer is that they’ve branched out into building private housing.
To such an extent that, in addition to the public funding, our housing associations are also taking out private loans with various financial institutions.
And other housing associations have done similar deals with organisations much sharper than them in the ways of the financial world. I do hope they’ve read the small print.
Though I suppose the only real collateral housing associations have is their housing stock. If they default, does this mean that Welsh social housing stock gets taken over by lenders? Or will the ‘Welsh Government’ step in with yet more money?
Talking of the ‘Welsh Government’, if RSLs need money for investment, why can’t they go to the Development Bank of Wales (DBW), which is already lending to other builders, many from over the border?
So let’s recap. Housing associations, now private bodies, still receive increasing amounts of public funding. Yet they also enter into arrangements with financial institutions around the world. And let’s not forget that the other major source of income – perhaps the major source – is rents from the housing stock they own. Most of which came free as stock transfers from local authorities.
Another noteworthy feature in this period is that most if not all of our housing associations have set up subsidiary companies, or companies that are not subsidiaries but still part of the group.
SUBSIDIARIES, PARTNERS, PRIVATE HOUSING
An example would be the relationship between Ateb (formerly Pembrokeshire Housing Association) and Mill Bay Homes Ltd (MBH). The latter, despite being a separate company, is a “wholly controlled subsidiary company of Ateb Group Ltd”.
The arrangement is that MBH builds and sells market properties and the profits go to parent company Ateb to build social housing or ‘affordable homes’. Which might be fine if Mill Bay Homes had its own money . . . but it hasn’t, it relies on loans from Ateb.
Which means that the ‘Welsh Government’ funds a RSL to build social housing but the money in fact goes to a subsidiary to build open market homes (that most locals may not be able to afford) with a fraction of the original money returning to the parent company.
Eighteen bloody million! How much does a relatively small, rural housing association need? It’s already getting money from the ‘Welsh Government’, and seems to have stopped providing social rented housing.
A visit to the Ateb Group website turns up what you see below. Quite clearly, Ateb is now a private house builder with social rented accommodation an afterthought.
Mill Bay Homes makes no secret of the fact that it’s punting for retirees and ‘investors’. The latter category will include Buy-to-Rent landlords, and whaddya know – one of the new Cilgerran properties is already being advertised for rent.
A similar arrangement to that between Ateb and Mill Bay Homes exists in Gwynedd between Adra (formerly Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd), which took over Gwynedd council’s housing stock some ten years ago, and its subsidiary, Medra Cyf.
This loan between a Welsh RSL and its subsidiary was arranged by London law firm Trowers & Hamlins. I’ve seen that name in other loans I’ve looked at. Are there no lawyers in Wales?
Of course there are, so who’s directing them to that company?
Also worth highlighting from recent years, in addition to the proliferation of subsidiaries, is the strange partnerships we see being forged.
For an example of this we stay in the north, with Cartrefi Conwy, based in Abergele.
I’ve written about this lot a few times. Below you’ll read what I had to say earlier this year, in Housing Associations, a broken model. The Byzantine network of ‘partners’ also throws up a mystery investor.
“Cartrefi Conwy set up a subsidiary in 2015 called Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company). Then, in May 2018, Creating Enterprise went into partnership with Brenig Developments Ltd to form Calon Homes. (Assets at 31 May 2019 £37,853.)
As I wrote back in November: “There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.”
Another horse out of the Brenig stable is Brenig Construction Ltd. Just another local building firm, run by local people . . . so impeccably local in fact that it could have come from League of Gentlemen.
But then, in December last year, a new director joined, a man who might have been taking his life in his hands if he’d turned up in the Royston Vasey shop.
I’m referring now to Yin Han, a Chinese businessman, presumably bringing a lot of yuan. For when I say Chinese businessman I do not mean that he hails from Hong Kong or Taiwan. Yin Han is a resident and citizen of the People’s Republic of China.
How did Yin Han and Brenig Construction find each other? What do we know about him? I guarantee he did not get involved with Brenig Construction without permission from back home. And that means the Communist Party.
These subsidiaries and partners, together with the loans and investment, are needed to build private housing for sale on the open market.
But housing associations are now private entities, so why do they need subsidiaries and partners to build open market housing? Surely they could do it in their own names?
Of course they could, but that would make it too obvious and probably jeopardise the public funding. So we have this charade of public money for social housing being given to RSLs and then filtered through intermediaries to build private housing.
And the ‘Welsh Government’ is a willing party to this deception.
As a student of history, I’ve always loved Palmerston’s quote: “Only three people have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business – the Prince Consort, who is dead – a German professor, who has gone mad – and I, who have forgotten all about it.”
It comes to mind when I see the term ‘affordable housing’. Because there’s a great deal of confusion as to what it means.
It’s important to get a definition because it’s what RSLs now claim to be building, and what the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ is funding.
When I contacted the ‘Welsh Government’ I was referred to a publication wherein was found . . .
“The concept of affordability is generally defined as the ability of households or potential households to purchase or rent property that satisfies the needs of the household without subsidy (further guidance is provided in the Local Housing Market Assessment Guide) 7 This could be based on an assessment of the ratio of household income or earnings to the price of property to buy or rent available in the open market in the required local housing market area.”
Which is interesting, and for two reasons.
If the concept of affordability is based on what local people on local wages can afford, then why is ‘affordable housing’ not reserved for those same local people? I ask because all the term means in practice is that a few properties in a development are labelled ‘affordable’ – but still put on the open market.
And if a small number of properties in a development are classed as ‘affordable’ then it must follow that the majority of the properties are regarded as unaffordable to most locals. So why are we building so many properties – with public funding! – beyond the reach of most local buyers?
The woolly term ‘affordable housing’ is just a fig leaf for the ‘Welsh Government’ and RSLs to disguise the fact that very little social housing is being delivered.
We are encouraged to believe that ‘affordable housing’ is for local people, or that it means social rented properties. Wrong.
This system, as I’ve argued before, is broken. It is broken because it consumes vast amounts of Welsh public funding for little or no Welsh public benefit.
Another cause for concern is that just as many third sector bodies are agencies of the Labour Party a similar picture emerges with housing associations.
In fact, housing associations and third sector bodies operate hand in glove, with the former housing the disruptive ‘clients’ of the latter, many of whom have been shipped into Wales. It’s collaboration like this that contributes to the problems we’ve looked at in Tyisha, Llanelli.
‘Welsh’ Labour’s little empire; stuffed with cronies and others dependent on political patronage and public handouts.
Take Wales & West, which I’ve referred to as Labour’s favourite. The CEO is Anne Hinchey, whose hubby Graham is a Labour Councillor in Cardiff. This explains why Wales & West has pulled down £100m in Social Housing Grant alone in the past decade.
And yet, let us remember that the reason the Office for National Statistics decided to put housing associations into the public sector was because there was so much governmental control!
As the June 2018 article from Inside Housing I reproduced above put it,
“In a letter to the Welsh Government sent yesterday, the ONS left open the possibility to reclassify individual associations as public should the level of state control increase.”
A strong case could be made for reclassifying a number of Welsh housing associations. Certainly Wales & West.
Where do we go from here?
I suggest that it starts with making it clear we do not want housing associations to build properties for sale to Home Counties retirees in Pembrokeshire, or to Manchester commuters in Denbighshire.
The sole duty of Welsh housing associations must be to deliver homes to Welsh people at sales prices or rents WE can afford.
If they are unable or unwilling to fulfil that role then I believe we should let our local councils provide social rented housing. Ensure they are well enough funded to provide decent accommodation to any and all local people wanting it. And make strong local connections the over-riding consideration in allocating those properties.
Then cut all funding to housing associations, which are, after all, private companies. Let them borrow from private lenders – as they are already doing – and cease being a burden on the public purse.
Whatever is decided, the present system is broken. Changes must be made. Even if you think this doesn’t affect you, just think what we could do with the money saved!
Bush needs accommodation because he may live in Kent, or he may live somewhere more exotic, where vitamin D deficiency is unlikely to trouble the locals. I suggest this possibility because Bush has been associated with a number of companies registered in locations where a very laid back approach is found to keeping records and obeying the law.
We are now asked to believe that this listed building Bush sold to Hill is to be given new life with ’30 residential units’. You can view the rudimentary plans here. The more I learn about this project the less sure I am that much, if anything, of the old building will be re-used.
I say that for a number of reasons.
First, the building has been treated with contempt by Bush and those he has allowed to use it. In the previous posting I mentioned a character named John Day. The pictures below follow his time at Gwynfryn; when Bush allowed Day to use this piece of Welsh history as a scrapyard.
Just click on an image to enlarge it.
You may recall that in an earlier post I referred to plastic chairs from Butlins. One of the images above corrects my mistake.
Then there was the second fire, in 2013. Philip Bush has been so unlucky with fires.
Over and above these mishaps the general condition of the old pile suggests it may be past saving. For it’s not just general and gradual decay. Sometimes things take a dramatic turn with a fall of masonry.
Again, click on an image to enlarge it.
So for a number of reasons I suspect that whoever’s behind this project – and the jury’s still out on this – will incorporate very little if anything of the old building into the new. No matter what is claimed in the planning application.
‘SEND A MESSAGE TO LONDON’
The name Tyisha might be familiar because it’s the area near Llanelli railway station that’s plagued by petty criminals and drug addicts. Tyisha is now the most deprived ward in the whole county of Carmarthenshire. Here’s a report from WalesOnline.
You’ll read one local complain, “I think the area’s used as a place to put undesirables . . . a lot of landlords in the area don’t know what their residents get up to and don’t care – they just care about the money in their pockets . . . so many of the drug abusers they’re not even from the area – loads of them are coming here from England, why are they all being dumped here?”
(Many of the ‘landlords’ will be housing associations.)
People are being dumped in Tyisha because a number of third sector bodies and other agencies have found a location with the necessary criteria: working class urban area (locals can be ignored), near railway station (‘clients’ can be put on a train from anywhere), cheap property (ideal for HMOs).
Of course, once the rot sets in there begins a spiral of decline that only benefits those causing the problem. What I mean is that property prices fall even further because nobody wants to live in Tyisha. Those locals who have not moved out are now stuck in houses worth less than they were worth five years ago.
Although Plaid Cymru is supposed to run the county council, and has even held the Llanelli seat in Corruption Bay, the town councillors are overwhelmingly Labour. And some of them are of the worst sort.
Though Gary Jones in Llangennech is definitely one of the better ones (he’s even sent me photos of Dennis Coslett’s grave). But I’m afraid he’s let himself down by his involvement with Tyisha.
It pains me to say this, but what I see here is a Labour councillor apparently celebrating the misery brought to an area of his town by his party’s cronies in the third sector and housing associations. It supports the widely-held view that Labour keeps Wales poor in order to blame the Tories and keep getting elected.
What the hell were you thinking, Gary? What is that pose?
Last year it was announced that Tyisha may be in line for cosmetic redevelopment to the tune of over £9m. Which means that Tyisha can look forward to those big flower pots on the streets for the drug addicts and the drunks to use as very public lavatories.
Here’s a suggestion for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. Don’t give public funding to your cronies for them to import problems and then we won’t have to spend yet more Welsh public money to remedy those problems. Capiche?
What a way to run a country!
If we had a functioning media then the properties causing the worst problems would be identified, the relevant information obtained from the council and the Land Registry. And then the owners of those properties, and/or those renting or leasing the properties, would be named and shamed.
And then, rather than capitalising on peoples’ misery, the town’s Labour councillors might pull their fingers out and demand an end to it.
Over the years I’ve written a lot about One Planet Developments. I wish there’d be no need to write anything because I wish the insane TAN 6 legislation had never been passed.
But it was passed and, predictably, it is now being abused. For people soon realised that the OPD route offered a way around the ban on new dwellings in open country. That’s because planning permission is guaranteed if you can satisfy planners the dwelling you want qualifies as an OPD.
We’re at the stage now where a ‘Hobbit house’ that cost a few thousand to knock together with straw bales and bits of spare wood is being offered for sale at £475,000. There is some uncertainty in planning circles as to whether such a structure can be demolished and replaced with a conventional bricks and mortar mansion.
That the seller feels they can ask this price suggests they believe such a transformation can now be wrought.
While on the outskirts of Swansea developers have seen a way to build properties in the green belt – with a few acres of land – by calling them ‘farmlets’. Each of them less than two acres.
Now I learn of yet another innovative approach to OPDs from Swansea, this time a plan to house military veterans. And not just one settlement but “a network of ecovillages”.
I have to confess that when I saw the city of my dreams linked with veterans my heart sank. I immediately thought of this crew, the Democrats and Veterans Party, shown here at one of their shindigs.
The two principals are Christopher John Carree, who lives in Ravenhill, and Ross Edwards of Morriston, who is clearly local. With maybe Carree in the driving seat.
And yet, despite the Swansea connections, the Garrison Farm Facebook page suggests the operation is based in Chester. Though the map is fixed on Brittany!
If we are to have OPDs then I’m sure some would prefer Welsh veterans living on them rather than charlatans from over the border doing well-paid day jobs in England and using the OPD as a weekend retreat.
As I’ve hinted, the worry is that too often the term ‘veterans’ links with far right politics. And heading out into the boondocks of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire has echoes of US militias getting away from the federal government.
Maybe Messrs Carree and Edwards can clear things up.
While I was looking into this report I ran across a site that brings together those looking for land in Wales suitable for OPDs. You might want to follow it. If nothing else, reading it will remind you of the threat posed by One Planet Developments.
‘I DON’T WANT TO GROUSE, BUT . . . ‘
Actually, they’re pheasants, but you get my drift. And they’re to be shot on land around Cwmrhaidr, to the south of Machynlleth.
I suppose I first became aware of the issue when I saw a tweet from beaver lover Iolo Williams. Yet another rich person from England has bought a chunk of Wales and proceeded to do whatever he likes.
Iolo Williams calls for Natural Resources Wales to intervene. Touching. He’d have had more chance of a response if he’d called on the Vladivostok fire department.
This new site for game shooting is marketed as, ‘Dyfi Falls’ by Guns on Pegs. It’s said to be “near the village of Machnylleth (sic), in mid Wales”.
A resistance group was set up on September 30th called Arbed Cwmrhaidr a’r Llyfnant (Save Cwmrhaidr and the Llyfnant). The group explains that its concerns are not limited to the unnecessary killing of birds for sport:
“The release of 40,000 gamebirds, most of which seem to be escaping into neighbouring farms and woodlands (including SSSIs), are already causing massive ecological damage. They eat endangered plants and animals, compete with native wildlife for food, and their excrement creates ammonia pollution capable of destroying the rare species that are special to this place.
The bulldozing of trees and new roads is devastating this landscape, a famous beauty spot since Victorian times.
Who benefits? Not local people. The company (Cambrian Birds) is registered in Shropshire. The owner is in Essex. The gamekeepers have been brought in. The clients pay over £2500 per day, but it will be invisible to the local economy.”
I’m not sure I approve of, “famous beauty spot since Victorian times”. Wasn’t the area beautiful before it was ‘discovered’ by visitors from over the border? We’re in Columbus territory here.
As you’ve read, the land was bought by a man from Essex and has been leased to Cambrian Birds. If the protesters know the identity of the buyer they seem reluctant to make it public. Thankfully, the quibble-free proprietor of this blog has no such qualms.
Here’s the title document. It tells us that the land was bought by Thomas William Speakman for £4.75m, without apparently needing a loan or a mortgage. I’m afraid the Land Registry did not offer a plan of the land via website enquiry.
How did we get to this situation?
Certain agencies, including the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, have been so successful in ‘selling’ Wales that many people now see Wales as the new frontier (or maybe the final frontier); a territory just waiting to be ‘opened up’, peopled only by primitive natives who can be brushed aside.
They will continue to believe this until we, the Welsh people, make them realise they’ve got it wrong. And it has to be us because no one else will do it.
To end on a lighter note. Something that occurred to me as I was writing this piece is that these birds are now running wild on land coveted by the rewilders of Summit to Sea.
What do Monbiot and his chorus of memsahibs have to say about this?
AN UNUSUAL SCAM
A good source has been in touch to tell me of a couple in their sixties, husband and wife, man and woman, male and female, who stayed – briefly – in a cottage he owns. They stayed one night, left early the next day and then tried a bit of blackmail.
Which is why they’re appearing here.
They arrived the Friday before last having booked through holidaycottages.co.uk. Within an hour the woman was on the phone complaining that the television didn’t work, the place was filthy, and she had been vacuum cleaning almost since she’d arrived.
When the guests went out for dinner the cleaner checked the place out – everything was fine, and the hoover hadn’t been used.
Early the next morning my source found a scruffy note pushed through his letter-box with a litany of complaints – but the pair had fled! He soon received an e-mail, which read:
“Following our abortive holiday to the above cottage which we left on 3 October 2020 due to dirty condition, missing/not working equipment, we have contacted holidaycottages.co.uk with photographs of the filthy conditions and await their response.
We have given that company 7 days in which to respond to our refund request and advised them that if they do not respond within that timeframe, we will issue county court proceedings (small claims jurisdiction) against them bringing you in as third party defendants.
While we would like to resolve this matter amicably, we shall have no hesitation in publishing our photographs online and commencing said proceedings in the event you or the holiday cottage agent do not strive to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to this matter.
It would appear, thus far, our communications with the company are going unanswered and, hence, court proceedings look inevitable unless you wish to settle this matter yourselves”.
Then the photographs materialised. I’m using just two to make the point. The one on the left is claimed to be from inside the cottage. The one on the right is actually from inside the cottage. Two completely different window frames.
And yet . . . in both images we see the same yard. Someone has gone to the trouble of Photoshopping the image on the left by imposing the phoney window frame onto a genuine picture of the yard below!
There was an exchange of e-mails which resulted in the complainant giving her bank details and demanding an instant refund for the two weeks she and her silent husband had paid for.
As far as my source and the local police can figure it . . . the woman would have quickly cancelled or claimed back the payment made on her credit card, then demanded a refund from holidaycottages.co.uk, plus a refund – or more – from my source using the threat of putting the doctored photographs online.
This was too well practised to be a one-off. So if Mrs Sandra T—–t of W—— M—–, Suffolk, tries to book a holiday in your property tell her you’re hosting the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference and both bedrooms are taken.
My source made light of it eventually, and had a little laugh in his final e-mail to her. Here’s an extract:
“But then was it worth it, such a tawdry little scam – surely you are now old enough to see how pathetic you are. You made so many mistakes . . . the fingerprints and some lovely CCTV shots of you enjoying P———. A word of advice, the trouser suit is not a good look in a woman of your age – especially from behind”.
The fellow’s a cad!
THE BLM DIVIDEND
Ever since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis the world has gone a little bit crazy. But there’s never been a better time for those who can sniff out Welsh public funding from a long way away. From England, in fact.
You must have noticed that any third sector organisation hoping for Welsh money either gives itself a full-on Welsh name or, at the very least, adds ‘Cymru’ to the name of the local branch of an English organisation.
As for diversity, it will ‘represent’ a tiny percentage of the population. In my experience BAME organisations are usually made up of sub-Saharan Africans and those with origins in India or Pakistan. Others, such as the industrious Chinese, seem to be totally absent. And of course, there are white people – usually women – with Labour Party connections, in order to ease the flow of the lucre.
The help such organisations provide to members of the public is debatable, but they serve their primary function, which is to create well-paid sinecures and regular jollies for a class of people, often ‘woke’ to the point of hysteria, who might be unemployable in the real world.
Diverse Cymru made the news recently with this call for more help for BAME people suffering mental health issues under Covid lockdown restrictions. According to Samira Salter of Diverse Cymru, BAME people have been “forgotten about” during the pandemic.
Which is nonsense. George Floyd was killed on May 2, and BAME people have never experienced such solicitous attention as in the period since his death.
The people who have suffered worst under Covid are poor people. And certainly many BAME people fall into that category. But the great majority of poor people in Wales are white. It’s about poverty, not colour.
And if we’re dealing with the mental health issues around Coronavirus and lockdown, then I guarantee that these problems are worse in rural areas, not the cities and towns where BAME populations are largely found.
So who runs Diversity Cymru? A source has given me some information and after reading it I knew what kind of body we are dealing with.
“Lead director is Ms Eunica Aure who’s an economist from the Philippines and was a government Spad there. After a stint in the Asian banking sector she moved to London to work on land evaluation of estates in Afghanistan and now works for WYG the consultants that management consult on overseas aid.
Mr Benjamin Coates. His full time job is Assistant Director & Head of Performance and Effectiveness at Equality and Human Rights Commission, based in London.
Ms Helen Susannah Dodoo. Her daytime job is Assistant General Manager at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which on her Linkedin profile she has located in New South Wales, Australia. She actually lives in Pontcanna, Cardiff.”
What the hell do these people know about Wales? Who appointed them trustees?
I didn’t believe the bit about New South Wales, so I checked. It’s true.
These people, remember, are the trustees of a ‘Welsh’ third sector body that has received millions and millions of pounds of Welsh public funding.
The website tells us, “Diverse Cymru was created in 2010 through a merger between Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People and Awetu” (Swahili for unity).
Diverse Cymru is either a pantomime horse of an organisation or a clever merger suggesting disabled people and BAME populations have a shared experience of discrimination.
Whatever the answer, how many other BAME bodies are operating in Wales? And how many charities and local government services for the disabled? And how many bodies tackling mental health issues?
With Diverse Cymru we find yet more of the duplication, competition and waste of money that we find wherever we look in the third sector.
(And there was me thinking that Finance Wales exists to build up the Welsh economy, to create jobs.)
Down in the south west, local authorities are coughing up lots of money for Diverse Cymru to deliver services to the disabled which elsewhere, and on the national stage, Diverse Cymru seems to have abandoned.
As the latest accounts tell us, the principle source of funding now is now Direct Payments from the three local authorities of the south west. This explains the office in Carmarthen.
For some reason the funding from Pembrokeshire reduced by more than 50% from 2018 to 2019, while the other two authorities increased their payments. What is the explanation for these variations?
Of course, getting paid for delivering services looks a lot better than just getting hand-outs from the ‘Welsh Government’, and this is reflected in the table below.
But I return to what I said earlier about Diverse Cymru being an absurd hybrid trying to deliver two unrelated services. Not only that, but we have also found a geographic split between the Cardiff-based, BAME arm, and the council-funded services for independent living for the disabled organised from Carmarthen.
And so I can’t help wondering if any of that money raised in the south west is funding what are clearly the true priorities of Diverse Cymru.
LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL
It’s time to catch up with another rascal in the manly form of Tristan Scott Haynes who, last year, bought the old Shire Hall in Llangefni, capital of Ynys Môn.
In that final appearance I reported that the Shire Hall was up for sale. That, I thought, was the end of it, unless another ‘interesting’ character took the stage.
But now I learn that the old monstrosity has been withdrawn from sale.
Not only that, but Haynes is touting for investors. Or rather, he has issued a prospectus that says it’s directed at contractors to fulfil his dream in Llangefni, but as you read the document you soon realise he’s looking for money.
The prospectus is issued by his company Chief Properties Ltd, though it doesn’t say whether it came from the Paris office or the Los Angeles office. In truth, it’s probably from the garage he rents in Bedford.
There is no website for Chief Properties, but I did find a very basic YouTube channel. I suppose it has to be basic because the company has no money and is lumbered with two loans from Together Commercial Finance Ltd, another of the ‘specialist lenders’ that we so often find in Manchester.
Read the prospectus for yourself. (I am indebted to a recipient for sending it to me. He assures me he’s ripped open the sofa and is now going through all his trouser pockets in order to cash in on this unmissable offer.)
As such documents go, it’s badly written. I suppose this would serve as an example, “29th May 2020 Executives of the Anglesey County Council suggests and supports the development of SHIRE HALL to residential use.”
In addition, it’s amateurishly compiled with a number of spelling mistakes. One glaring mistake, due to the large print, is the “Ariel view” provided of the building.
And here’s an example of the gibberish I’m referring to. What the hell is it trying to say? How does the council feel about being associated with this? It reads like a very poor translation.
But it’s not all bad, for the prospectus reminds us of Eryri’s claim to fame: “Snowdonia National Park – otherwise known as the adventure capital of the UK”.
The bastion of Welsh resistance to English aggression now reduced to England’s playground. Makes you proud to be Welsh.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
A bit of a mixed bag this week; the unifying thread being the stupidity of those puffed-up buffoons down Cardiff docks who want to be seen as the ‘Welsh Government’.
SOCIAL HOUSING, OR IS IT?
To kick off, I am indebted to the meticulous and conscientious Wynne Jones, who is a great source for ‘Welsh Government’ wrongdoing and local cock-ups down Cardigan way. For it’s in the fair town of Aberteifi that we start.
With Cardigan Hospital, which was built and long sustained by the donations and goodwill of people in the town and surrounding area. But now it’s deemed surplus to the requirements of Hywel Dda University Health Board and the building is to be handed over to one of Labour’s favourite housing associations, Wales and West.
Though the lack of openness has not gone down well locally. The sale to Wales and West seems to be a done deal, yet the details are vague in the extreme. When Wynne asked for information on the quoted ‘open market valuation’ the response to his FoI said that it, er, hadn’t actually been done . . . but they were working on it, sort of.
Clearly, this is a deal done behind closed doors in the glorious traditions of the Labour Party. And not for the first time; for since taking over Tai Cantref, of Castell Newydd Emlyn, Wales and West has been flexing its muscles in the area.
And while it may be headquartered in Cardiff Wales and West, fittingly, also has an office in Labour’s last remaining Westminster constituency in the north, at Ewloe on Deeside.
The latest news is that a drop-in session has been organised for the end of this month in which, according to the Tivy-side Advertiser, “The people of Cardigan will be asked for their views on how best to use the site of the former Cardigan Hospital”.
According to the article W&W is still in talks with Hywel Dda Health Authority over buying the hospital. So if it still owns the hospital why isn’t Hywel Dda organising the public consultation?
All pretence goes out the window later in the article when Wales and West bigwigs explain what they plan to do . . . with the building they haven’t yet bought!
All joking aside, social housing is now in crisis.
Many will recall the campaigns persuading council house tenants to agree to stock transfers, so that housing associations could take over. Most Welsh councils lost their housing stock in this way to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).
Which gave us dozens of housing associations, spending hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, competing with each other, and swallowing each other up. Having the ear of the Labour Party in this dog-eat-dog environment was always an advantage.
This was bad news all round. For it would have meant that RSLs’ debts would have gone onto the UK Government’s books. Putting them in the public sector might also have resulted in more openness, perhaps making housing associations subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Which resulted in RSLs becoming private bodies, but still in receipt of public funding! If they hadn’t already done so then they set up subsidiaries – unregulated offshoots building homes for sale on the open market, often using public money siphoned from the parent company.
The justification for building houses and flats to be sold in this way was that the money made would be transferred to the parent body for it to build more social housing.
It was a lie.
Just think about. If Tai Cwmscwt has a spare £5m why ‘lend’ it to a subsidiary and get back a percentage when it could have spent the whole £5m on social housing. And if there’s no demand for social housing then obviously Tai Cwmscwt is over-funded.
The truth is that very little of the money made by the subsidiaries of privatised RSLs is used to build social housing. Most of it goes back into building more private housing. In rural and coastal areas this housing isn’t even intended to meet a Welsh demand. It’s simple profiteering, building properties to be used as holiday and retirement homes, or sold to ‘investors’.
All of which results in a shortfall in social housing in many areas. Which is why Swansea council has started building council houses again. In the article I’ve linked to you’ll see that “four registered social housing landlords are planning to build 4,000 affordable homes across the county over the next 10 years”.
This is another lie.
‘Affordable’ is a meaningless term used by politicians and others that can cover properties costing £300,000. And as I’ve explained, the now privatised RSLs will be building open market housing not social housing.
We are obviously at a crossroads in the provision of social housing, by which I mean properties available for local people at rents they can afford.
The biggest asset for many private housing associations, the income from which helps fund the private building spree, is the stock of housing that was transferred from a local authority. (Or in the case of Mid Wales Housing, the Development Board for Rural Wales.)
Should these stock transfers stay with what are now private companies?
Let’s end with a few questions:
What is the future role of the now privatised RSLs?
Will the ‘Welsh Government’ continue to fund private RSLs?
With RSLs concentrating on private developments how does the ‘Welsh Government’ plan to provide an adequate supply of good quality rented social housing at affordable rents?
If the rented social housing role is to revert to local authorities, will the ‘Welsh Government’ arrange to return the housing stock lost in stock transfers?
OLD DEFENSIBLE BARRACKS REVISITED
The week before last I published a couple of pieces looking at the purchase of the Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock, which I believe links to similar sites in England and Northern Ireland that have been bought by the same Singapore-based investors.
My view is that the three sites – all close to ferry ports – have been bought in anticipation of the need, with increased border checks, for large areas where lorries and other vehicles can be parked while waiting for those checks to be done.
Since writing the second of those pieces I’ve updated it, and further information has come to light, hence this third piece.
First, after Old Defensible Barracks 2 went out 5 February the Western Mail ran a full-page spread on the 11th. (Here in pdf format.)
Obviously this article was a press hand-out because when the journalist tried to add a personal touch she located the barracks in Milford Haven not Pembroke Dock.
Since writing those pieces I’ve spoken to one of the previous owners, who had an interesting tale to tell.
The barracks went up for auction last summer with Allsop. A few parties showed interest but no sale resulted. Instead, Allsop themselves produced a mystery buyer. Which perhaps explains the ‘Sold after’ caption you see below.
The vendor had no idea who the buyer was, but the sale went through 22 August and the money was in the bank. You’ll recall that despite the passage of six months since the sale the title document at the Land Registry still showed the previous owners.
Why this reluctance to tell us who now owns this property?
As I’ve said, the theory that I and a few others have, is that the barracks themselves are simply a ‘lever’ to something else, probably land nearby that could serve as a lorry park. But then, last week, another possibility was thrown into the mix – that the Milford Haven Waterway is destined to host one of the promised freeports.
Either option makes sense, and ties in with the Singapore investors at the three sites we looked at in the earlier pieces. For not only is Singapore home to many Asian ferry companies it is also the biggest freeport in the world.
In addition to the investors who are probably native to Singapore we found Trevor Iain Walker, said to be resident there. Whether he is or not is a moot point, Companies House just accepts what it’s told.
In addition to the UK listed companies there are two more, both registered in Florida. Muniment LLC shares its name with a number of Walkers’s UK companies. The other company, Audica Properties LLC, seems to have been started by Walker in 2014 and then, last year, he was joined by Robin Lim Siew Cheong, who could be another Singaporean investor.
The picture in Pembroke Dock isn’t clear yet, but these Singapore investors haven’t rocked up to enjoy the view of Neyland. Something is planned for the Dock and it links with Brexit. I suggest it’s either a lorry park or a freeport. Maybe both.
Watch this space!
THE GREEN ENERGY RIP-OFF
Because of my slant on certain issues some people think I’m opposed to renewable energy, or that I’m a climate change denier. The truth is that I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy – as long as it’s reliable and reasonably cheap; and I’m more of a sceptic than a denier when it comes to climate change.
But I am unequivocal in my hostility to charlatans and shysters, crooks and con men, who come to Wales to rip us off.
I suppose the basic problem is that Wales has many rivers and streams suitable for hydro projects, and countless hills that will attract those who erect wind turbines. Even so, these natural assets need not lead to us being exploited.
The exploitation happens because virtue-signalling politicians are desperate to show the world that little Wales is playing its part in saving the planet.
It is this desperation to get a pat on the head that opens the gates to the shysters.
Our next report takes up the coast from Pembroke Dock to another ferry port, at Holyhead, where a northern source suggests I take a look at a company in receipt of mucho dinero from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.
The company in question is Minesto, a Swedish company hoping to generate electricity from underwater ‘kites’. Here’s the company website.
There we read:
Certainly, the company has a presence in Sweden, because that’s where it’s based. Obviously, I can’t speak for Taiwan.
In Ireland the company’s existence was brief, perhaps no more than a separate listing for the company registered in England and Wales. And yet, according to the Minesto website and other sources the project at Strangford Lough is still running, so how is it being funded?
The sole director of Minesto UK Ltd is Martin Johan Edlund, with Goodwille Ltd serving as secretary. Goodwille takes its name from director George Alexander James Goodwille. The Swedish connection is maintained at Goodwille by director Svante Lennart Stensson Adde.
Before getting into the figures I’d just like to explore the linkages behind Minesto.
Let’s go back to the ‘About us’ panel above. It says that Minesto was founded in 2007 as a spin-off from Saab. That may have been what happened in Sweden, but Minesto UK Ltd was born in June 2008 when Keyrad Ltd, a company formed in 1996, changed its name.
The panel also says, “Main owners are BGA Invest and Midroc New Technology. The Minesto share is listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market in Stockholm.” Telling us that Minesto is wholly owned back in Sweden.
The Midroc link also suggests the underwater kite system belongs to that company.
If we go back to the Minesto website and the Projects tab, there we find Holyhead Deep, the name of Minesto’s Welsh venture. (There’s also a dormant company called Holyhead Deep Ltd, at the same Holyhead address, with the same Martin Edlund as the sole director.)
This website page explains why Minesto came to Wales: “Numerous locations around the UK were considered, but Wales was selected as the preferred option due to the highly suitable environmental conditions and government commitment to marine renewable energy, which offers significant opportunities to attract support and investment into the Holyhead project.”
To cut through the bullshit – the attraction was gullible politicians and easy money. With the panel below making clear that it’s already up to €27.9m.
The extract below from the latest accounts would appear to show that Minesto UK Ltd is entirely dependent on ‘Welsh Government’ funding. I’m surprised there’s no money coming from Sweden. Because I guarantee that – as with Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in the south – any profits will speed their way back to Sweden.
So here’s the question – does this investment provide tangible benefits for Ynys Môn and for Wales, or are our politicians paying, yet again, to have their egos massaged and their planet-saving credentials burnished?
With £23m+ handed over or promised, how many jobs have been created for local, Welsh people?
Given that the owners of Minesto UK Ltd are Swedish, and the patent for the technology is held by a Swedish company, what benefits will accrue to Wales if the technology proves successful?
And if it fails, the Swedes walk away without having lost anything while Wales is £23m+ out of pocket.
Is funding from Wales being diverted to the Minesto project in Northern Ireland?
Are there no better ways to have used £23m+ on Ynys Môn for the benefit of local communities?
UPDATE: My attention has been drawn to one of the logos at the foot of the Minesto website, the one for Horizon 2020, “. . . the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract.”
So where is the ‘private investment’ in Minesto UK Ltd? Is Welsh EU funding being used in place of the private money?
As I said earlier, I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy schemes, but they must be of benefit to Wales. But unfortunately they rarely are. Worse, much of what we experience could be viewed as colonialism for the 21st century.
Think of the massive wind farms such as Pen y Cymoedd (or the hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn) and the pittances offered to locals in compensation. It reminds me of Europeans in Africa or the Americas giving beads to ‘primitives’ in return for their assets or their land. Now we Welsh are the exploited primitives.
Yet we are supposed to welcome it because we’re saving the planet!
Those clowns in Corruption Bay, and their Westminster allies, who sold us short on water, and HS2, who talk Wales down and short-change us at every opportunity, must learn that people get angry when they see money squandered on virtue signalling.
I have a feeling they’ll be getting the message loud and clear in next year’s Assembly elections.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I concluded last week’s offering with a section on Llanbedr Airfield and a promise to return to the subject. Well, here we are, and sooner than expected.
That’s because information has come to light that makes the picture clearer. Clearer but not more reassuring, certainly not for us poor buggers who – through our tribunes and the civil servants who ‘advise’ them – seem to end up funding every con man and shyster who crosses the dyke looking for easy money.
UP UP AND AWAY!
To briefly recap. There has been an airfield at Llanbedr, between Harlech and Barmouth, since WWII, but it was closed or decommissioned in 2004.
The site was bought in August 2006 by the Welsh Development Agency for £700,000. (Title document.) And then, despite having just bought the site, the Welsh Assembly Government sought a taker for a 125-year lease.
Though as the sheet below tells us, in an answer to Tory AM Darren Millar in June 2008, then minister for economy and transport, Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, is adamant that no funding has been offered to ‘sweeten’ the deal.
As anticipated, in December 2008, the ‘Welsh Government’ gave the go-head for Kemble to take over the airfield, subject to Kemble obtaining the “relevant permissions and consents.” Initially, the Snowdonia National Park Authority refused to play ball, but in August 2011 a certificate was granted to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP for use of the airport to test and develop unmanned aerial vehicles.
(Developments and rumours from March 2006 are covered in jargon-laden but still interesting exchanges on this message board.)
In July 2012, Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP finally took on a 125-year lease with the Welsh Ministers for the sum of £887,500 plus VAT. (Title document.) Funded with a loan from The Secretary of State for Defence. This company was set up in March 2008 and changed its name to Snowdonia Aerospace LLP in August 2015.
Not only was there a loan from the Secretary of State for Defence but – and despite what Ieuan Wyn Jones had said – the ‘Welsh Government’ also chipped in. Both charges are here. Did Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP pay anything out of its own pocket for the 125-year lease?
PER ARDUA AD ASTRA
You’ve just read mention of RAF Kemble, and as I made enquiries into the leaseholders at Llanbedr it became clear that they and their associates specialise in taking over former RAF bases. Which suggests they’re well-connected.
Two directors of Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP who left Kemble Airfield Estates Ltd in the middle of 2012 were Lee John Paul and Charles John Mondahl. Paul had also served as company secretary.
This regular taking over of former RAF bases and the like might point to the UK government and military putting work ‘off-book’ through private companies. Why would this be done? Well, I can think of a number of reasons.
First, it saves the UK government money if some mug can be persuaded to stump up the cash on the pretext of ‘creating jobs’. Mugs like the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd.
Then there’s the advantage of it being more difficult to question the UK government when defence work is done by private companies. With the bonus that private companies don’t have to worry about Freedom of Information requests.
So use a front company, have someone else help fund it, and let it do military work without fear of being bothered by too many tiresome questions.
Llanbedr specialises in RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems), drones to you and me. It links with the installation at Aberporth. Though Aberporth is ‘managed’ by military contractor Qinetiq. But whatever the set-up, there is no way that drones are being developed and tested without military involvement.
Of course that doesn’t explain what possessed the WDA or ‘Welsh Government’ to a) buy something we didn’t need and b) then pay someone to lease it. Two outlays of cash Wales could not afford.
Though as I suggest in the introduction, my guess is they were cajoled or bullied into this absurd deal by their masters in London.
Now it’s all going to get a bit tricky as we try to figure out who owns what and how assorted entities are related. So pay attention at the back there!
Snowdonia Aerospace LLP has a number of partners (for this is a Limited Liability Partnership not a company), while the new outfit has just two, these being Lee John Paul of Dorset and Putney Investments Ltd of the Isle of Man.
Both Paul and Putney are also partners in the original outfit, Snowdonia Aerospace, but there Putney Investments Ltd gives an address in Queensland, Australia. As I mentioned in the previous post, there seem to be quite a few companies under the ‘Putney’ umbrella (and we’ll be looking at another one in just a minute).
Though it’s not that simple – is it ever? – because there are three Companies House entries for Cromring Ltd. Here they are, together with who and what’s filed where we would normally expect to find directors listed.
Plus – as a special treat! – who and what’s listed for the entities linked to each of the Cromring entries. Use the links to make better sense of it.
Cromring 1/ Michael Eric Cole (Sec), David William Ward, Michael Cole, Lapcrest Ltd. Lapcrest Ltd: Cromring Ltd. So this one is a closed circle.
There are other companies in this network, but I’ve used Cromring to explain the problems faced by anyone trying to disentangle this web of interlocked individuals and companies.
Maybe a better comparison would be a cave system with dozens of entrances, tunnels and caverns; where money goes into one company or LLP and emerges from some other part of the network many miles away. Or just gets lost.
An entity not yet mentioned, but with six outstanding charges against it, is Compass Point Estates LLP. The partners here are: Lee Paul, Gillian Paul, Ocean Park Investments Ltd, and Putney Investments Ltd . . . the one in Queensland.
Providing further proof that the links between the MoD and the people who’ve taken over Llanbedr airfield are long and extensive.
FLYING DOWN TO RIO
Seeing as Putney in its various guises can be found from Queensland to the Isle of Man maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to find Putney Capital Management in Latin America.
This article suggests the company deals in areas that some might regard as asset-stripping. Unpalatable as most of us might find this, it pales into insignificance when we consider other possibilities.
Here’s the link to Putney in Caracas, capital of the socialist paradise of Venezuela, where there must be much to attract asset strippers. (But I’m not here to score cheap political points, you know me.)
Click here to see the Putney Investment ‘node’ that links the Caracas address with a more secretive address in Panama, and which lists as the ‘intermediary’ a Martin Lustgarten.
I’m going to end with a few questions for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, Cyngor Gwynedd, and anybody else who might feel inclined to proffer an answer.
Why would any Welsh governmental body need to get involved with Llanbedr Airfield when it must have been obvious that the MoD had tenants lined up?
In other words, why couldn’t the MoD have leased the place directly to Lee Paul et al?
Then, having bought a site it had no use for, why did the ‘Welsh Government’ compound its incompetence by giving money to those mentioned above to lease the site, especially after Ieuan Wyn Jones had stated there would be no such payment?
Seeing as a great deal of Welsh money has been donated to those now running Llanbedr Airfield what has been the return in jobs for local people? (And I mean local, not those who many now be living in the area.)
Talking of money, how much has been given by the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd to Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, or spent on infrastructure and in other ways to benefit that group?
Given the reports listed in my previous piece on Llanbedr are the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd satisfied with the way the lessees are managing the site?
Was the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd informed of the formation of the new LLP in October 2019?
What is the purpose of this new LLP?
Given that the name Putney crops up regularly in the Llanbedr narrative, and also in the Panama Papers, does the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd know exactly how Putney is structured and who, ultimately, controls it?
Given that so much Welsh public money has been invested in Llanbedr Airfield and those leasing it, what input does the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd have in the running of the site and in the planning of its future operations?
On page 9, under ‘Future Priorities and Direction for the Zone’ of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021, produced by the ‘Welsh Government’, I read, “To continue to develop a working partnership with the site owners and key stakeholders . . . “. But surely, the ‘Welsh Government’ owns the site? And who are the “key stakeholders”?
Seeing as the lessees are a Limited Liability Partnership, and LLPs only need to submit the most skeletal, unaudited accounts to Companies House, do the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd see the full accounts?
Given that Llanbedr is no Welsh Cape Canaveral providing jobs and spectacular launches to entertain global television audiences, was it worth the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd investing our money in what remains a UK defence installation?
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
Well, what an election that was, for all sorts of reasons. I shall start this analysis with a quick look around the other countries before homing in on Wales.
If we are to believe the BBC then the results were bad for both major parties, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin. Certainly SF lost Foyle (Derry) but it was to the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party. To compensate, the party won North Belfast, where Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane triumphed.
Yes, votes for both Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party were down but it was the DUP that lost (in total) two seats, not SF. The cross-community Alliance Party won North Down, and in addition to Foyle the SDLP won Belfast South.
For someone who remembers the Troubles – and even the time before the Troubles – it’s quite amazing how politics has changed in the Six Counties.
Until the Reverend Dr Ian Paisley formed the DUP in 1971 the Ulster Unionist Party dominated the political scene, and it wasn’t until 2004 that the DUP became the largest Unionist party in terms of seats at Stormont and in Westminster. Now the UUP has no MPs and got just 11.7% of the vote last week, but even that was an improvement of 1.4% on 2017.
On the other side, the similarly hegemonic SDLP has been eclipsed by a party that until quite recently was dismissed by the British media as the mouthpiece of the IRA. I can recall when we weren’t allowed to actually hear SF spokespersons – we could see them, and see their lips move, but the words had to be spoken by actors!
That was one of the more bizarre episodes in British broadcasting history. If we were allowed to hear what they said but not them say it, then I can only conclude that we were being protected from the harsh Ulster accent.
Northern Ireland, with more Republican/Nationalist MPs than Unionist MPs, plus one MP representing a party that is neutral on the border, and with Brexit thrown into the mix, is probably moving towards a referendum on Irish reunification.
For this debate is no longer framed by tribal loyalties. The old Protestant-Unionist objections to unifying with a poor, ‘priest-ridden’ country to the south are gone. The Republic today is both more liberal and richer than the North. What’s more, it’s in the EU, and Northern Ireland voted to Remain.
In any future referendum it will not just be Republicans and Nationalists voting for reunification, it will also be members of the Protestant middle class, business people and, especially, the young.
The headline result is of course that the SNP ‘won’ the election with 48 out of Scotland’s 59 seats. Though as we know, Boris Johnson has already refused to allow a second independence referendum, so how might events unfold?
Some suggest that the Tory government in London should play the SNP like a fish, paying out a little line (concessions), then reeling in (refusal) . . . until its energy is exhausted and it can be ‘landed’ (accepts no referendum).
Basically, faffing about in the kind of way that would suit Johnson perfectly.
An interesting metaphor that ignores too many unavoidable pitfalls and a number of imponderables.
First, there’s ‘Getting Brexit done’, which served as Johnson’s mantra throughout the recent election campaign. Yet 62% of Scots and every single council area voted against leaving the European Union. That is a fact that cannot be changed – Scotland voted by a large majority to remain in the EU.
Which means that in fulfilling this election pledge he cannot possibly renege on Johnson will further antagonise many Scots. Even some of those who voted Leave but now wish to respect the majority vote.
Then there’s the Scottish parliamentary elections of May 2021. If London proves obstructive and the SNP turns this election into a mandate for independence we could enter a Catalonia-style morass. God knows where that might lead.
Another imponderable is how Labour supporters might vote in a referendum. They’ll be confronted with a choice between independence and Tory rule. Some will choose independence. How many take this option could prove decisive.
Then there are those who voted Leave but want independence, and may have lent their votes to the Tories last week in order to ‘Get Brexit done’. How many of these are there?
Imponderables aside, four fundamental facts are unavoidable:
1/ The SNP has won a massive victory.
2/ Consequently, the Tory government in London has no mandate to rule Scotland.
3/ Scotland voted to remain in the European Union.
4/ Consequently, London has no mandate to take Scotland out of the EU against its will.
Looking beyond the SNP – difficult given how it dominates the scene – we see that once-mighty Labour is reduced to a single seat, Edinburgh South. The Liberal Democrats are holding on to Orkney and Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in the far north, Edinburgh West and Fife North East.
The last of those is interesting because the SNP held this seat by just two votes, the smallest majority in the House of Commons. This time around the anti-SNP vote piled in behind the Lib Dem again and pushed Wendy Chamberlain over the winning line with a majority of 1,316.
Though the Lib Dem’s UK leader, Jo Swinson, she who had talked of becoming prime minister not so long ago, narrowly lost her Dunbartonshire East seat to the SNP.
Elsewhere, the Tories, who had been shaping up to become the natural home for Unionist votes lost seven seats to bring their total down to six. Given that they now hold large, rural constituencies (especially the three along the border) this means that the map gives a somewhat inflated view of Tory support.
Though it should be remembered that in all six Conservative seats the SNP is second, sometimes just a few hundred votes behind.
Sometimes a party’s share of the vote can tell as much if not more about its overall performance than the number of its MPs. The figures for Scotland make poor reading for Unionists in general and for the new government in London in particular.
‘Getting Brexit done’ may have worked as a slogan in England, and Wales, but it seems to have had the opposite effect in the land that gave us the very word sluagh-ghairm. Which is perfectly understandable given that Scotland voted Remain.
With its separate legal and education systems, with the Kirk, with its banks and different banknotes, Scotland always was a different country. Soon it might be a very different country.
I urge you to set aside an hour of your time over Christmas to watch it. Those you’ll see in the film are not wild-eyed conspiracy theorists, these are people who know the score. On the plus side, the BBC is now so discredited that it could never again play the influential role it played in 2014.
Scotland will soon regain the independence that was surrendered in 1707 by an unrepresentative parliament whose members had been bullied or bribed into supporting the Act of Union.
Reporting of the election in England was dominated by words like ‘landslide’ and talk of crumbling ‘red walls’. The reality is rather more nuanced, and disturbing for anyone wanting cultural harmony and social cohesion.
The truth is that in England the Conservative share of the vote increased by just 1.7% on 2017. The real story is the collapse of the Labour vote, down 8.0% on 2017. The Liberal Democrats were up 4.6%, the Brexit Party 2.0%, and the Greens 1.2%.
But if we look behind those bare figures we find where and why the Tories did so well. Those areas of the Midlands and the North that voted Leave in June 2016 saw the Tory vote increase substantially, while Remain areas saw the Tory vote go down.
The problem for Labour was that they lost out in both. That’s what happens to ditherers.
The cities remain Labour, especially London; which meant that in the Midlands and the North the cities and conurbations did not collapse with the rest of the ‘red wall’. The West Midlands conurbation remained largely Labour, as did Merseyside, and Manchester, Sheffield, the Leeds-Bradford conurbation, plus Hull, while in the north east – Sedgefield and Blyth Valley not withstanding – Labour holds a swathe of seats from Newcastle upon Tyne North all the way down to Middlesbrough.
It is the smaller towns and cities, the former mining districts, that will be represented by Conservative MPs for the next few years. Without doing an in-depth check it looks to me as if Stoke on Trent was the largest English city to ‘defect’.
So why did Manchester and Birmingham stay Labour while Bury, Scunthorpe, Dewsbury, Wakefield and many similar towns go Conservative? Almost certainly because the major cities of the Midlands and the North share certain features with London that make them more challenging for the Tories.
These features are:
1/ A generally younger population, with many students.
2/ Large immigrant populations plus settled ethnic minority communities.
3/ The presence of a ‘progressive’ middle class.
4/ More diversified economies that have coped with recession better than coalfield areas and towns built on a single industry.
5/ They attract more investment.
Which results in the rich and poor of England linking arms and facing off against those in between. Which is a strange thought, because for the greater part of the twentieth century politics in England split along class lines, a division that pitted Tory-voting shires and suburbs against Labour voting cities and industrial regions.
Going further back, to the nineteenth century, it was the new industrialists and others – through the Liberal Party – that represented the interests of the lower orders against the Oxbridge-educated Establishment of aristocracy, landowners, bankers, Church of England, army, civil service.
But last Thursday we entered a new paradigm. When so many people on the minimum wage are prepared to vote Tory then you know something has changed.
Students of politics will immediately recognise the parallels with the USA, where Donald Trump managed to get support from the richest sectors of US society and some of the poorest. Leaving the Democrats with a minority of the white working class supplemented by ethnic minorities, immigrants, and white liberals.
Brexit may have brought these US divisions into sharper focus in the UK but they would be there even without a debate over EU membership. People in the ‘neglected’ areas might have voted Tory last Thursday even without Brexit.
I say that because another reason they voted Conservative was because Labour, the party they once regarded as theirs, has drifted away, hijacked by the hard left, the detested metropolitan elite, and others who look down on them and regard their patriotism with revulsion.
As Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North American editor put it in this article (which is well worth reading): ‘Labour in the UK lost the working class, but gained the woke. And that will give the party sleepless nights over the coming months and years.’
Labour lost the election because it has alienated too many of the patriotic white working class. An as yet unquantifiable percentage of which might be mopped up by whatever party Nigel Farage comes up with next.
Let’s be brutally frank, there were just two things that saved ‘Welsh’ Labour from a worse kicking last Thursday.
The first was the terror felt by too many in the region twixt Blaenafon and Kidwelly at the prospect of rotating grandparents in the graveyards of Salem, Jerusalem, and yea! even Caersalem.
The second was the absolute fucking uselessness of Plaid Cymru. Because if Jon Sopel is right, about the Labour Party in England, then here in Wales the woke have become Plaid Cymru.
Yes, I know, Plaid held its four seats . . . and failed to come second in any of the other seats it contested. Leaving Plaid Cymru in serious danger of becoming a regional party within a small country, representing a constituency that is rural and largely Welsh speaking in an urbanised and largely anglophone country. Now there’s a party with a future!
Though, in fairness, Plaid Cymru has tried to break away from the ‘rural, Welsh-speaking’ strait-jacket. Unfortunately, rather than appealing to patriotic English speakers in the cities and towns the party allowed (encouraged?) the takeover by socialists who tar any critic with the ‘fascist’ brush, and those who insist that anyone who doesn’t accept a man with a penis as a woman is a ‘transphobe’.
Then, before the election, Plaid’s strategists (don’t laugh!) decided that it would be a splendid idea to go into a Remainer pact in a few seats with the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party of Englandandwales. In a country that voted Leave!!
This is why, last Thursday, when presented with the open goal of a Labour Party in chaos, a Conservative Party made untouchable by the fear of spinning sounds from the local boneyard, and the Lib Dems led by a delusional woman, Plaid Cymru’s vote actually fell, in real and percentage terms!
The only consolation is that Plaid Cymru is probably finished. No party with such limited appeal, making such disastrous decisions, is entitled to any future. What’s worse, in Plaid’s four seats the party’s supporters are social conservatives of the kind despised by those who now control the party. How long can this misalliance last?
Maybe it would be best for Plaid Cymru to drop the pretence that it’s a mainstream party and rebrand itself as the loony left party it has become. This would allow the emergence of another national party on the right to represent the ‘fascists’ and the ‘transphobes’, the patriots and those who’d like to build up an indigenous economy rather than rely on a begging-bowl variant of devolution.
At heart, Plaid Cymru is a Devo Max party securing the maximum number of careers, sinecures, peerages, etc., for those it represents, within the colonial system. Which means having enough power to indulge its lunacies without the responsibility of having to fund any of it.
But things are not looking too good for this model of devolution at the moment. For a start, Labour is in deep and serious trouble on a UK level and this might extend to the 2021 Assembly elections, with Plaid Cymru in no position to keep the gravy train on the tracks.
Who’s to say the Tories won’t win an outright majority in 2021?
Worse, Plaid Cymru’s obvious weaknesses coupled with Labour’s self-destruction might encourage the new Conservative government to undermine or do away entirely with devolution.
At the very least, London could take more control over funding. An article by Martin Shipton dealt with this possibility in Saturday’s Llais y Sais. Here’s a link to the WalesOnline version, with a clip from it below.
Now picture the scene . . . Boris Johnson rocks up in Swansea (or it could be Wrexham, Merthyr, Blaenau Ffestiniog or Pembroke) and says, ‘Now listen chaps, I can see that with this bally devolution most of the moolah stays in Cardiff, and that’s jolly unfair. In future, the Bozmeister will dish out the goodies himself – and I guarantee that it will be fair shares for all!’
This will of course result in demonstrations in all corners of the land defending the status quo, demanding that the money be given to the ‘Welsh Government’ . . . for it to divert into the poverty racket (third sector, to you). I foresee hastily-scribbled placards being borne aloft insisting that even spads and lobbyists have to eat.
Yes, I’m joking.
But it won’t be BoJo undermining devolution. Labour and Plaid Cymru, plus their parasite friends down Corruption Bay and elsewhere, have already done the job for him, to the point where few would put up much of a fight if the Tories tried to do away with devolution altogether.
Devolution has been an abysmal failure because nobody wanted to make it work for anyone but themselves. Nobody in London or Cardiff.
I have chosen to look at all the countries of the United Kingdom because while the Tories’ campaign was all about getting Brexit done, everyone knows that achieving that objective will jeopardise the unity of the state.
I have argued since the EU referendum in 2016 that Brexit and the chaos it could unleash, the knock-on effects in Scotland and Ireland, would offer great advantages to Wales if we only had the sense and the determination to seize them.
But for Wales to capitalise on these opportunities we need politicians, and political parties or movements that want Wales to be a country that benefits the Welsh, rather than a haven for retirees, refugees, colonists, third sector parasites and ‘investors’ looking for easy money.
But I’m deeply pessimistic; for this election suggests that Wales will be in no position to take advantage of the opportunities coming our way. We shall just drift towards assimilation.
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
People often say to me, ‘Jac, you’re a miserable old sod, why don’t you give us some good news, eh?’ To which I usually respond, ‘Because this is Wales!’.
In Wales, what passes for ‘good news’ is invariably political propaganda, what the media calls ‘human interest’ stories, or else straightforward bollocks.
If you want to read that the ‘Welsh Government’ is thinking of asking Ferrari to open a factory in Tredegar, or that a Denbighshire farmer’s wife has found the bracelet she lost some years ago (while being pleasured by an itinerant Kiwi sheep-shearer), then you’re in the wrong place.
I don’t make up the stories that appear here. They happen and I report them. If you don’t like them then do something about it – get rid of those responsible.
I have reported on this barely credible story a number of times. If you want to catch up then start here (scroll down), then here (ditto), and here.
In a nutshell, a gang of crooks from England (Yorkshire, if you must know) bought an old farmhouse outside Nebo, near Caernarfon; they’ve done work without planning permission (or exceeded what permission they had), to the point where a monstrous new building has appeared and the old farmhouse has been demolished.
Cyngor Gwynedd has issued planning enforcement orders and a pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Caernarfon in early September. I’m told the gang turned up in court claiming they had no legal representation. So the case was rescheduled for Llandudno in late November. It’s now been put off until March, when Andrew Battye, Jonathan James Duggan, Shane Baker and Aaron Hill will probably demand another adjournment.
And by which time they will have done all the work they plan on doing.
For the gang has plans that exceed even throwing up the ugliest house in Gwynedd, because there’s talk of glamping, zip wires, and God knows what else. For which of course there is no planning permission. Another difficulty is access, which has resulted in the Bryn Llys gang intimidating neighbours who object to them cutting down trees and demolishing hedges that belong to other people.
In recent weeks, a concrete bridge has been put in place, lorry loads of slate waste have been brought to the site and a road laid to provide a new access to Bryn Llys from the village of Nebo.
I hear from one source that while delivering this material a tipper truck belonging to Gwynedd Skip Hire of Caernarfon touched an overhead power cable. There was one hell of a bang, one or more of the truck’s tyres blew and Nebo, Talysarn and parts of Penygroes suffered a power cut.
Another source reports that the driver’s mate touched the body of the tipper and got “zapped” quite badly, he was said to be “black all over”. This of course was reported and has been taken up by HSE. I’m not sure if the police are involved.
Latest report says all is quiet, and suggests that local contractors may be getting reluctant to be involved with the Bryn Llys gang.
What an absolute shambles! Which doesn’t look like getting better any time soon.
Why is it that honest people are pounced on by planners for making a genuine mistake but crooks like these can brazenly flout the system for years?
What’s more, it’s nothing more than money-laundering in plain sight. What a system! What a country!
ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS
First stop, Parc Teifi on the outskirts of Aberteifi (Cardigan town), when we find a group of planet-savers who were given five acres of land for just £1 by our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’ under its Community Assets Transfer scheme.
When first announced earlier this year there was mention of ” . . . a horticultural large allotment type use, managed by a single body, run by volunteers for the wider benefits of the community”. Project leader Alpay Torgut also enthused about local involvement and “public events to involve as many people as possible”.
The ‘involvement’ desired soon became clear – unpaid volunteers and paying customers to fund what was increasingly obviously a One Planet Development.
Why do I suggest that it’s a One Planet Development? Well look for yourself at the structures being erected on the site.
The one I show below is being used to house some kind of display, which could obviously be much more at home in a smaller structure. Though the structure we see would be an ideal roundhouse of the type favoured by OPD dwellers.
Note that the photograph – for which I thank Wynne Jones – was taken in July. Things have moved on since then.
And now there’s a truly curious twist.
The land was given to the group led by Alpay Torgut under the Community Assets Transfer programme. The project is called the Naturewise Community Forest Garden. And yet the community cannot access the site because of a padlocked gate. (Again, I am indebted to Wynne Jones.)
The ‘Welsh Government’ has the key – but refuses to open the gate!
Having consulted my crystal ball I predict that Torgut and his gang will soon be applying – and getting – retrospective planning permission for a OPD.
Next up is the OPD planned for Penybanc, Llandeilo, reference E/39554. On the surface this looks like a straightforward single OPD application, but things might not be that simple.
The OPD is planned for land to the south east of Caergroes farm in the Monordeilo and Salem ward of Carmarthenshire. The first point of interest is that the applicants, Matthew and Claire Denney-Price, don’t actually own the land. The land is owned by a Gwyn Jones of Trimsaran, who bought it last year.
To help you get the lie of the land I’ve compiled the illustration you see below.
There have been many submissions made to the council for and against the application. Of those in favour most live ‘away’ or just don’t give their locations, while local submissions are almost all opposed to the project. Some of the later go into considerable detail, often arguing that there is no way that the family unit of two adults and four children could sustain themselves on such a small area by sticking to the plan submitted.
Others worry that this application is the first for a settlement on adjoining land.
Someone who contacted me pointed out that the address given by Matthew and Claire Denney-Price on the planning application is 7 Yr Hen Marchnad, Llangadog. (Though I’m told that Claire Denney-Price is the only person on the electoral roll for this address.)
What struck my source was that at 9 Yr Hen Machnad was found Freedom Green Energy Ltd, certainly until the company moved its address to Brecon in March 2018. This company trades as FGE Biomass. My source suspects there may be a connection between this biomass company and the OPD application. Anybody out there know?
Finally, in this little excursion into the world of OPDs, news reaches me that all may not be well at one of the older communes. For I hear that smallholdings at Lammas are on the market. Certainly Berllan Dawel is for sale at £300,000+.
As I’ve reported before, all is not well in paradise. For two main reasons.
One is that the whole premise of OPDs is flawed, and economically unviable. The second reason is that when you put together, in close proximity, so many people absolutely sure that they – and they alone – know the correct way of doing things, then friction is inevitable.
UPDATE 11.12.2019: I’ve been informed of yet another OPD application. This one at Llyn Adain Gwydd, at Llangarthginning, near Meidrim, in north Carmarthenshire. The reference number is W/39846. (Type the number in here.)
The second line in that great song, You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive runs, ‘That’s the place where I trace my bloodline’, and that applies here; for my great-grandfather David Jones left Meidrim for Swansea in the late 1870s.
What’s strange about this application is that it comes from a Neil Moyse, who already lives in a OPD at Tir y Gafel, Glandwr, in Pembrokeshire. So are they now building OPDs to rent?
Let me now lead you into the never-never land of Wales’ foreign aid programme. Or maybe it’s a maze. Though let me start by explaining that this section was prompted by someone sending me a tweet, one that started bells ringing. Here’s the tweet.
The SSAP is both a charity (1159990) and a registered company. The Charity Commission tells us that it operates ‘Throughout England and Wales’ and then lists a number of African countries from Algeria to South Africa. (I haven’t checked the atlas, but it looks most African countries get a mention.)
And there was you thinking our tribunes down Cardiff docks had no international strategy. Shame on you! The ‘Welsh Government’ even has a Minister for Ugandan Affairs, and she’s doing a wonderful job.
Apart from organising self-congratulatory bun fights, such as the one in the tweet above, it’s difficult to know what the SSAP does. But before you get too worried let me put your minds at rest by telling you that funding in year ending 31 March 2019 was a mere £68,638, down from £97,899 the previous year.
Which could prove a bit tricky, because staff costs went up from £52,668 to £73,952 in the same period, when staff numbers increased from 2 to 3. Leaving nothing over to do anything really . . . except organise awards ceremonies and the like. So, basically, this is just another third sector scam providing sinecures for Labour Party hangers-on.
The accounts also tell us that while the main funder is Comic Relief the other major funder is the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA). So who are they? The introductory blurb tells us, ‘We want a worldwide Wales where everyone here contributes to creating a fairer and more peaceful world. We inspire people to learn and act on global issues through three programmes:’ which are then listed as, Global Learning, Global Action, Global partnerships.
All very worthy, no doubt, and vague to the point of vacuousness.
The CEO of the WCIA is Susie Ventris-Field, who’s worked her way up through the third sector – e.g. Chwarae Teg – and also spent time in Africa.
Susie is assisted by Emily who organises festivals such as the Green Man and Glasto. ‘Emily has a beautiful dog’, we’re told! Then there’s Philip, who ‘moved to Wales to join his wife in semi-retirement in 2014’. And Shaela, ‘who previously worked for the University of Leicester’. Amber is another who has come to live among us, and loves cats.
There may be one or two Welsh people hidden away in the cupboards but by and large the ‘Welsh’ Centre for International Affairs is yet another third sector body using Welsh public money to provide jobs for strangers doing ‘work’ of no benefit whatsoever to Wales. But then, isn’t that true philanthropy!
Talking of money, who funds the WCIA?
To answer that let’s start by looking at this clip (below) from the WCIA’s Charity Commission entry, which tells us that since it was registered in April 2014 income has gone up to £1,175,306.
Which is not bad, when you think about it. In a time of economic recession, and with Wales having managed just fine up until then without it, someone decided that what we really needed was the Welsh Council for International Affairs.
Taking the second set of figures first we see that just under two-thirds of the income goes on salaries for no less than 23 staff. That will be Susie . . . Emily who has the nice dog . . . Philip who moved to Wales because we needed him so badly . . .
And after paying all their salaries there was still £197,145 ‘cash at bank and in hand’. That’s a lot of readies, suggesting they’re over-funded and looking for ways to spend money they don’t need.
Looking at the income in 2018, £238,156 came from Wales for Peace, but the biggest chunk, £639,893 came from Hub Cymru Africa. So who are they, and where does their money come from? (As if you didn’t know!)
Now let’s turn to the WCIA’s major funder, Hub Cymru Africa, which contributed £639,893 according to the latest accounts. Page 40 of the accounts tells us that this largesse came from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. In other words, us.
Just as we met Susie and her gang at the WCIA, at Hub Cymru Africa we find another galaxy of non-Welsh stars spending Welsh money on non-Welsh issues.
Yet because Hub Cymru Africa produces no accounts and has no official existence we have no way of knowing how much Claire O’Shea and the rest of the team earn, or how many employees there are. Which is wrong, because they use public money and so this information should be readily available.
To recap: We started out with the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel. Funding levels there are not high, and all funding seems to be used paying staff wages.
One of the SSAP’s main funders is the Welsh Centre for International Affairs whose funding comes from Wales for Peace and Hub Cymru Africa. Roughly two-thirds of this funding goes on salaries. The larger funder, HCA, gets its money from the ‘Welsh Government’.
This system is of little use to the needs of Wales and Welsh people. It’s no more than virtue signalling on steroids. Steroids paid for with Welsh public funding. Instead of exposing and condemning this system Plaid Cymru desperately wants to be part of it, as we see with Helen Mary Jones at the SSAP bun fight.
The sting in the tail is that these people attracted to Wales by third sector money are often smarter than our politicians. (Which is not saying much, obviously.) And they exert undue influence in a country they regard as nothing more than a geographical expression.
This results in OPDs and other insanity to ‘save the planet’, or wanting to flood Wales with ‘refugees’ under the ‘Wales – Nation of Sanctuary’ project.
A country with homeless on the streets, where kids go to school hungry, where people die waiting for ambulances, apparently has millions of pounds to spare so that dilettante English activists and useless Welsh politicians can feel better about themselves.
Time to get rid of them all, and the colonial system they represent.
UPDATE 09.01.2020: The subject of foreign aid was raised in the Senedd yesterday’ Here’s a clip of the question, by Neil Hamilton, and the response from Rebecca Evans. Note the loud cheering at the mention of ‘Jac ‘o the North’!
THE CASE OF KEVIN O’NEILL’S PEANUT BUTTER
Someone has reported to me that the Labour Party in Merthyr is full of bullies, and engaging in dirty tricks. Of course, I refused to believe it, but my source was insistent.
I think the best way to tell you this is to copy and paste what I received, with a redaction here and a clarification there. So prepare yourselves, for I’m sure you will be as shocked as I was to read what follows.
“Since the May 2017 Local Elections where Independents took control of the (formerly) Labour-ruled Council, the Independent Councillors of Merthyr Tydfil have faced a barrage of Ombudsman complaints, uncooperative opposition members, false Facebook and Twitter accounts that have used intimidation, abuse and vulgar comments about the Independent Councillors but especially its Leader Kevin O’Neil and female Deputy Leader Lisa Mytton.
Unconfirmed reports from the Labour camp have talked of a split in the party with those who want nothing more than to ‘Disrupt and Destroy’ anything the Independent-led council tries to do for the good of Merthyr Tydfil.
In recent months the false accounts continued but the depths to which they and some of their party members will go unfolded in June 2019 when a whistle blowing member of Council staff couldn’t cope any more and they reported the verbal abuse and disregard for the two senior Cllrs that then culminated in the staff member entering the Cabinet office and kitchen opening the Independent Leaders food (a jar of Peanut Butter) and forcefully spitting in it while others looked on and returned it to the fridge.
By telling you that Anna had a different company at the same address. This was AR666 Ltd (previously Anna Redfern Ltd), and it traded as Cinema & Co. The company was wound up in July 2019. I’m told AR666 Ltd went under owing £32,496 to HMRC, plus phone bill, water rates, and various amounts to Swansea City Council.
Here’s an entry from The Gazette which suggests Anna may be a naughty girl for using the same name for her new company.
But I suspect Anna has a weak grip on reality, combined with an irresistible urge for self-promotion. A dangerous combination.
Noah Redfern previously owned the Monkey Bar down town and has since bought the Observatory on the seafront, though the bar he planned never materialised after a run-in with the council.
I suppose it should go without saying that Anna Melita Redfern was a finalist in the Welsh Women’s Awards 2019. Cinema & Co – which had just been liquidated – was shortlisted in the Small Business of the Year category.
I shall of course be publishing an analysis of the general election, and this will probably appear on Monday the 16th. Then, unless something really important happens, that should be it until 2020.
♦ end ♦
P.S. There was an earlier and slightly different version to this post that went out because I’d scheduled it and then lost my internet connection, which meant I could neither amend nor stop it. Take my advice and avoid Sky Broadband.
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
Yes, I know I’ve promised Weep for Wales 13, and I’m working on it (there’s just so much to process), but fresh information on Gavin Lee Woodhouse justifies another post on the wonder boy of the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. (The AVAR website is ‘currently under maintenance’.)
It is understood by all that Woodhouse operates by selling. or more usually leasing, rooms at hotels he owns. Had he been able to proceed with the Afan Valley Adventure Resort then he would have been selling/leasing more hotel rooms there, plus lodges or cabins. In fact, they were already being advertised, even though nothing’s been built. So have any been sold?
In my earlier piece I also said that I was unable to find the title document for the Fishguard Bay Hotel on the Land Registry website. I kept getting a ‘too many titles’ message which I attributed to rooms having been sold.
A recent comment to this blog assured me that the title document could be found, and eventually – by a counter-intuitive method I won’t bore you with by explaining – I did find it.
It tells us that the Fishguard Bay Hotel (actually in Goodwick) was bought 13 July 2017 for £966,720 by Wyncliffe House Hotel Ltd (formerly Fishguard Bay Hotel Ltd) a company formed 1 May 2016. We see that the company was formed over a year before Woodhouse actually bought the hotel, so presumably he was in negotiations. Or even on site prior to purchase?
If you scroll down on the title document you’ll see that leases for 45 rooms were sold in 2017. All of them 125-year leases, and irrespective of the date of sale all leases started on New Year’s Day.
Now obviously I couldn’t buy the title documents for all the rooms, so I limited myself to five. Which was enough to pique my curiosity. For the titles I bought, the prices range from £45,000 to £70,000.
All bar one were sold between 13 July 2017 and 28 September 2017; with the outrider sold 13 March 2018. Which could suggest impressive sales techniques, or even buyers already lined up.
Of the five, just one hints that it belongs to a genuine, small-time, private investor. This was the title document for an SSAS, which stands for Small Self-administered (pension) Scheme. The other four – certainly, three – looked iffy.
Judge for yourselves with the panel below made up of the relevant details from four of the five room title documents supplied by the Land Registry.
The top two, one in Slovakia and the other in Poland, are impossible to check. They could be genuine buyers or they could be names plucked out of thin air, or from some database.
The two on the bottom supply UK addresses, but even so, something’s not right. The one on the left gives a Dubai address and ’24 Cheapside, Wakefield’. The one on the right gives a Welsh address, but also uses the Wakefield address. So what do we find at 24 Cheapside?
It’s a commercial building, with a number of tenants, among them the ‘Williams & Co’ mentioned in the document for the Dubai buyer. This is a firm of solicitors and everything seems to be kosher. My one concern being that the website does not give a Companies House number.
And then I stumbled on Williams & Co (Cleckheaton) Ltd, a company formed in January 2018. It’s registered at the address given on the Williams & Co website, with two directors and a further two shareholders.
Also found at 24 Cheapside, Wakefield is Immigration Advice Service (IAS), whose website, some might think, tries to give the impression that IAS is a UK government department, but it is in fact a private company.
Though, curiously, under ‘Nature of business (SIC)’, for IAS Companies House has: “69109 – Activities of patent and copyright agents; other legal activities not elsewhere classified”. What the the hell do patents and copyright have to do with immigration advice?
Immigration Advice Service was also registered as a charity, number 1033192. In fact, the company may be a ‘phoenix’ that grew out the defunct charity.
The cynic in me thinks that a company like IAS would be a great source of names and addresses for potential overseas buyers for hotel room leases . . . or even just names and addresses.
Others may argue that I’m clutching at straws here, but Woodhouse once had a company called MBI Immigration Services Ltd. So at the very least, he would appear to have shown interest in this line of business.
Let us head north now, to the Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy valley.
Let’s go straight to the title document, where we see that this hotel was bought for £1,500,000 with a loan from North West Asset Finance Ltd, which has a registered address in Todmorden, Lancashire, hard up to the frontier. I have stood there myself more than once and gazed into Yorkshire.
North West Asset Finance is hardly a rival to the big boys, for it’s a one-man band and the solitary director is Robert Ashley Hall. All the shares are owned by Shays Assets Ltd, another Hall company that takes its name from what I assume to be his home address, Shays Farm, near Skipton.
Both companies were formed 11 February 2014, around the time Woodhouse embarked on his hotel-buying spree. While the accounts suggest that the only real asset may be the money loaned to Gavin Woodhouse to buy Caer Rhun.
Which made me wonder whether Hall and Woodhouse are known to each other. Sure enough, they are in business together. In a company called Gramra Ltd, formed by Hall 2 January 2018, which Woodhouse joined 13 June 2018.
When we look at who owns the shares in Gramra we find that at least half are owned by Woodhouse through the company Woodhouse Family Ltd, which has the controlling interest.
Woodhouse Family Ltd, where we find Gavin Woodhouse as sole director since his wife resigned last month when the shit hit the fan. For this company is alleged to have been the ultimate depository of some investors’ money, rather than the companies to which the money was ostensibly paid.
Returning to Caer Rhun, we find that 125-year leases have been sold on 57 rooms. Again, I downloaded the title documents for just five, and in price these range from £75,000 to £170,000. All were sold between July 2016 and August 2017.
The buyers we find in Bristol, Birmingham, and rather more exotic locations. Here are the three beyond these shores. Even if we accept that the one on the left refers to a UK couple living in Spain, that still leaves buyers in Italy and Taiwan.
To have so many overseas buyers is not in itself cause for alarm, but I can’t believe that someone in Taiwan or Dubai or Slovakia woke up one bright morning and said to himself or herself, ‘I know! – I’ll buy a hotel room in Wales!’
We all know about Arab sheikhs and Russian oligarchs paying millions for London mansions, so is a room from which you can watch the Rosslare ferry the fag-end of the market?
Joking aside, maybe the real questions are:
Do these overseas buyers really exist?
If they do, did they really pay any money or are their names being used?
And if they did pay money, where did that money come from?
And where did it go?
As far as I can make out, Gavin Lee Woodhouse, through his various companies, owns six hotels in Wales. It’s reasonable to assume that the same business model of selling the leases on individual rooms is found in all of them. That is certainly the case at the Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby (aka Carmarthen Bay Hotel) and the Belmont Hotel in Llandudno.
I want to focus on the Belmont.
From the title document, we see that it was bought in 2015 by MBI Heritage Hotel Ltd (now Belmont Hotel Ltd) for £381,250. Though in the latest accounts it’s valued at £2.62m and shows a profit of £1.55m. Though as the Guardian told us, the increased valuations on other hotels are even more dramatic.
At the Belmont, leases for 26 rooms were sold, all of them in an impressively short time in 2015, so another gold star for the sales team. I haven’t bought any title documents for these sales because I’ve already splashed out £36 on Woodhouse, and I’m sure the picture will be little different to what we found at Fishguard and Caer Rhun.
But what appears to be different at the Belmont is, first, that Woodhouse does not own the Belmont (I think it’s owned by Mostyn Estates), he only leases it. Which means he’s selling leases in a property he himself leases.
Which raises the question of whether Mostyn Estates Ltd is aware of this interesting development. Or whether it’s even legal.
But why would Woodhouse need to take out loans on the Belmont, a property he’s leasing, and for which he’s more than covered his outlay with the sale of the rooms?
Whatever the answer, Mysing is based in Wakefield, on Woodhouse’s patch; where we earlier saw hotel room buyers linked to the Wakefield solicitors, Williams & Co. The latest unaudited abridged accounts for Mysing paint a very healthy picture, with net current assets of £16,501,830 and total net assets of £1,475,344. The difference accounted for by creditors owing £14,977,000. Creditors, presumably, like Gavin Lee Woodhouse.
But from where does Mysing Capital – a company only formed in July 2014 – get that kind of money? ‘Unaudited abridged accounts’ tell us very little. And it’s perfectly legal.
There’s no question in my mind that the directors of Mysing Capital are known to Woodhouse, and that these ‘loans’ may not be the kind of loans you or I are familiar with.
UPDATE 15.07.2019: Mysing Capital links with a string of Mysing companies, many of which are in the care home business (as of course was Woodhouse). But these other companies seem to have been formed after Mysing Capital.
Which still leaves the question of where the original Mysing Capital money came from.
In addition to the loans and mortgages taken out with Mysing towards the end of last year Woodhouse took out other loans around the same time, these with the equally mysterious Fiduciam Nominees Ltd. Why do I call this lot ‘mysterious’?
Well, after reading this at the foot of their website, how would you describe them?
“The content of this website has not been approved by an authorised person within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Fiduciam does not enter into regulated credit agreements within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001.”
Fiduciam is a lender of last resort. If your bank turns you down you go to a company like Fiduciam. Which, as the Companies House entry tells us is in the business of ‘financial intermediation’.
This means that it finds borrowers for people who have money to lend. We can see who the borrowers are, but who are the lenders? Well, if we go to the latest available accounts, we read at the bottom of page 10:
Now don’t get me wrong, what Fiduciam and BWCI do may be perfectly legal (in an offshore kind of way), but – as with Mysing – where does the money originally come from that they loan to people like Woodhouse?
In the case of Fiduciam we’re asked to believe it’s pension funds, but in practice there’ll be few questions asked if a drugs baron, oligarch or member of a third world kleptocracy washes up in the Channel Islands looking for a good investment for his ‘pension pot’.
What we can say for certain is that in December last year, the nearest vehicles Woodhouse has to parent companies, Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd and Giant Hospitality Ltd got themselves heavily indebted to a company that finds desperate borrowers for offshore lenders whose money could come from anywhere.
Why did he need the money? Was it for the Afan Valley venture? If so, then Woodhouse is now well and truly up that narrow waterway known colloquially as Shit Creek, with his business model exposed in the mass media, creditors beating on his door, and the Afan Valley Adventure Resort a fast receding dream.
Though the local council leader in Neath Port Talbot is bewailing the loss as though it’s somebody else’s fault! But then, that’s ‘Welsh’ Labour for you – always somebody else’s fault.
My response was summed up in a tweet I put out on Saturday to accompany the article: “Listen, Rob, if you and your @WelshLabour mates down Corruption Bay had done the basic checks into Gavin Woodhouse and @Afan_ValleyAR you would have laughed him away and wouldn’t be ‘disappointed’ now. You’ve got no one to blame but your council and @WelshGovernment.”
When I first encountered Gavin Lee Woodhouse I thought he was a bit of a lad who’d over-reached himself. (As opposed to an out-and-out bastard like Paul Williams who ‘succeeded’ him at Plas Glynllifon.) Now I worry that there may be darker elements to his business ventures.
The foreign buyers for so many of his hotel rooms certainly start the alarm bells a-trembling. As does the lack of information about his financial backers.
But then, as I’ve said before, this is business, this is finance – English style. Where the City of London sits at the centre of a web of offshore tax havens and money-laundering centres that welcome anybody’s money. Once it’s in the system, with the origin disguised, that money can be used anywhere.
The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are the oldest, and nearest of these centres.
But this does not excuse the ‘Welsh Government’, which obviously did no due diligence into Woodhouse before giving him £500,000 for Caer Rhun and then welcoming him with open arms when he ventured to the Afan valley.
Unless of course they were over-ruled from London. (It happens regularly.) Which would make them complaisant rather than gullible. Is that an improvement?
So it’s good-bye Gavin Lee Woodhouse, and hello, . . ?
For you can guarantee that the next Gavin Lee Woodhouse is already here spinning his lies and courting the politicians. And he’s not alone.
In Return Journey Dylan Thomas goes home to a blitzed Swansea searching for the places and people he knew. Eventually he reaches Cwmdonkin Park, where the park keeper responds to his questions about a boy from long ago with, ‘I’ve known him by the thousands’.
I’m beginning to feel like that parkie, due to all the crooks infesting our country. They keep coming because we have thick-as-shit politicians more concerned with shagging and back-stabbing than with making Wales honest, healthy and prosperous.
If social cleansing is the term used to describe the removal of these groups from one area, then it’s entirely reasonable to use the term social dumping to describe the other end of the process. Especially when the dumping is often done without the approval, or even the knowledge, of the new host community.
This is what is happening in Wales. It’s happening in our cities and larger towns, it’s happening in run-down coastal resorts, it’s happening in small rural towns, and it’s happening in the communities of the former southern coalfield. That’s why it’s a national problem, and must be tackled on a national level.
There are a number of reasons why this is happening, and I’m going to explore some of them in this article. I shall also use specific, and recent, examples.
Let me apologise for this post being a long one; but as usual it’s broken down into discrete segments for you to consume at your leisure.
THE THIRD SECTOR AND THE LABOUR PARTY
I have written once or twice about the third sector, so regular readers will know of what I speak. For any newcomers, it’s that burgeoning sector of Welsh life that likes to present its component parts as charities, when they are in effect publicly-funded companies.
The third sector takes hundreds of millions of pounds from the Welsh public purse in order to care for those who are homeless, those with substance abuse issues, those released from prison, those with other needs (real or imagined), and of course there are organisations dedicated to combating all manner of alleged prejudices against women, the BME community, and assorted gender identifications.
It is a world with its own values and vocabulary, where duplication and competition are rife, and with most third sector businesses run by middle class Englishwomen with names like Harriet or Henrietta.
Did I mention competition? As this FoI response from the ‘Welsh Government’ told me, Wales has no fewer than 48 outfits ‘tackling homelessness’. Though seeing as the letter is dated December 2017 we can confidently predict that the number is now over 50. In fact, I shall soon introduce you to a new diner at the feast.
This situation has obtained for 20 years. The trickle of third sector grant-grabbers began almost once the devolution referendum result was announced in September 1997 and very quickly became a torrent. ‘But wait!’, you exclaim, ‘if we have so many well-funded organisations why is the problem getting worse? It must surely mean that thousands of Welsh are being made homeless every year’.
What we see at work here is human nature, and the realisation that if solving a problem puts you out of a job, well, you’ll make damn sure you don’t solve it. Which then links with the second part of your question, for Wales cannot provide enough homeless people to sustain this industry, so homeless people are imported into or attracted to Wales. In other words, the social dumping referred to in the title.
‘But why doesn’t the Welsh Government tell these people to stop wasting Welsh public funding by bringing in homeless people from outside of Wales?’ And drug addicts, and ex-cons, and victims of domestic abuse, and . . .
Because . . . it suits the ‘Welsh Labour Government’ to present a picture of poverty and deprivation in order to blame somebody else and keep mug punters voting for the party.
In fact, these pods seem to be something of a staple on the Argus.
The pods themselves are the work of Amazing Grace Spaces (AGS), an outfit that was launched as a charity 30 June 2017 by Caroline and Stuart Johnson. You’ll see on the website that, in addition to the emergency pods, AGS also converts shipping containers into low cost housing.
According to the website, these converted shipping containers are already in use with Wrexham Council and Merthyr Merthyr Valleys Homes.
Other trustees recruited by AGS include John Andrew Forward, who is also a trustee of Bedwas Pentecostal Church and Bethesda Pentecostal Church.
It would appear that those involved with Amazing Grace Spaces are of the happy-clappy persuasion, those given to ‘outreach’ work among the vulnerable in our midst. And, indeed beyond Wales.
Bethesda Pentecostal Church (Charity Number 1050629) seems to have been in business for a while, whereas the Bedwas establishment (1050629) has only just been registered with the Charity Commission. Which would suggest an expanding network.
Turning to Bethesda, we see that the lead there appears to be Rev. Stephen Davies, who is also a trustee of the Ebenezer Pentecostal Church in Fellowship with Assemblies of God (1050644), and Hills Community Church Aberbargoed (1050499). (Ebenezer is to be found in Rogerstone, Newport.)
There is very little money involved with these churches, and I’m sure that they do a lot of good work, but I mention them because they clearly form a network, and others in this network cause me concern.
This tweet by Amazing Grace Spaces mentions my worry – Green Pastures.
Green Pastures (GP) operates with or through ‘partners’, and the business model is explained in this panel from the Green Pastures website. In essence, if you fancy going into the hostel business then you find a property that GP will buy and then you lease it from GP using your tenants’ housing benefit to pay the lease.
Scrolling down to the ‘Partners’ map, we see five locations in Wales. Two are in the north, on Deeside and in Colwyn Bay, to serve north west England and those who have been dumped in Wales from that region.
Predictably, Amazing Grace Spaces of Newport is also there, but what of the other two locations?
The first is in Llanfyllin, a nice little town in the gentle hills of Montgomeryshire, where we find a ‘community hub’. So there’s nothing to detain us here.
Of more interest is the final Green Pastures ‘partner’, Blaenycwm Chapel in Treorci. Where “Ralph Upton is the minister, 22 years experience in full time ministry a lot of this among the homeless, those affected by the criminal justice system and substance misusers.” When he’s not in the Rhondda, “Ralph also ministers in Ethiopia.”
Ralph Upton is also connected with Valleys of Hope (which unfortunately couldn’t find a Welsh flag). Under the ‘About us‘ tab you will read that Ralph was a prison chaplain.
Which makes sense when we turn to the Valleys of Hope ‘Wales’ tab, where we read, “With the opening of H.M.P. Berwyn helping the churches to get ready to welcome ex offenders in North Wales has become very important”.
The back-story: A massive prison was forced on north Wales, far bigger than needed, in which most of the inmates are from England. One fear always was that once released, these English prisoners would becomes Wales’ responsibility. Here it is spelled out. We must “get ready to welcome ex offenders in North Wales”.
I think it’s the use of the word ‘welcome’ that really pisses me off.
Locking up your criminals in a neighbouring country and then expecting that country to look after them when they’re released strikes me as a very good example of social dumping.
UPDATE 10.07.2019: A prison inspector’s report just released tells us that, in March this year, 75% of the prisoners at HMP Berwyn were from England. In a Radio Cymru programme this morning it was also said that of these English prisoners 50% stay in Wales after they are released.
That means that hundreds of English criminals are endangering Welsh people and Welsh communities – and we are paying for it.
Last week Gwynedd’s Planning Committee discussed an application to convert the old Market Hall in Blaenau Ffestiniog into 14 flats. No decision was taken but the planning officers recommended approval, and now objectors have three weeks to put together their case.
The application was submitted by Paul McCready of Mossley Hill Investments Gwynedd Ltd of Cheltenham, and the agent was Evolve Designs (NW) Ltd of Merseyside.
Evolve Designs is a company formed as recently as April 2017 with the only accounts so far filed showing total net assets (liabilities) of (£1,991). A one-man band with the solo instrumentalist being a James Robert O’Rourke.
Though as the Land Registry title document tells us, the owner of the Blaenau building is Microface Ltd of Wigan. Who bought the property in 2010 for £82,500. It was put up for auction in February 2018 with an asking price of £150,000, but obviously failed to sell. (Or if it did sell, then the Land Registry has not been informed.)
The applicant for planning permission, Mossley Hill Investments Gwynedd Ltd, belongs to a veritable stable of companies . . . none of them thoroughbreds. In fact, some of them, just yearlings, are already on their way to the knacker’s yard.
Here’s a list I’ve drawn up of all the Mossley Hill companies I can find (there may be others!). And here it is in pdf format, where you can click on the company name to be taken to the Companies House entry for that company.
You’ll see that the original company was formed in December 2016, with Gavin Davis Barry and his missus as directors. Then there was rush of new companies in April and May last year with Barry joined by Paul McCready and Shaun Mills as directors. With two more companies formed in May and June this year with just Barry as director.
There are documents filed for the original Mossley company, Mossley Hill Investments Ltd, and these show net assets of -£53,965. (Yes, that is a minus sign.) Equally worrying is that the directors want to strike off four of the companies formed only just over a year ago!
In addition, Barry has another string of companies going under the ‘Prosperity’ handle, listed here. The nags in this stable seem to be a year or two older than those in the Mossley Hill stable with none destined for dog food. The other directors, too, are different.
What are we to make of it all?
Gavin Davis Barry specialises in cheap property. A racket comparable, perhaps, with the Green Pastures ‘partnership’ model, except that GP own the building whereas Barry may sell it on.
What could have happened with the old Market Hall in Blaenau was that, after it failed to sell at auction, the owners were approached with a deal. Barry will apply for planning permission and then, if it’s granted, either he will buy the building off Microface, or else supply tenants, an arrangement from which he’ll get a good cut.
The fact that the auction was in February 2018 and Mossley Hill Gwynedd Ltd was formed in April lends credence to this theory. For there are business people – many of whom you’ve met on this blog – who trawl property auction websites.
The outfit supplying the tenants for the flats at the Market Hall will be My Space Housing Solutions, based in Bolton and operating in northern England. The clip below and the page it’s taken from explain that My Space is in the business of ‘supported housing’.
We read that My Space “source properties based on need” and that these properties are “in the best possible community settings for each resident”.
Which rather blows this planning application out of the water, because I doubt if there is a local need for such a facility in Blaenau Ffestiniog, which means that the clients will be brought in from northern England; and will therefore be a long way from “the best possible community setting”.
Let’s be brutally frank; the only reason this application is being submitted is because a large building became available very cheaply in a run-down town where the applicant thought that lies about local benefits might get them planning permission.
Thanks to twenty years of devolution under ‘Welsh’ Labour, Wales has an abundance of cheap buildings, and countless run-down towns.
What’s the bottom line here? Well, if you were to ask me: ‘Jac would you do business with any of the companies you’ve mentioned here?’ I’d look you in the eye and answer: ‘I would indeed – immediately after joining the Soul Crew’.
If allowed, Blaenau Market Hall will be yet another example of social dumping.
To conclude this section, it’s worth pointing out how much money there is to be made from the ‘vulnerable adults’ business, by looking at the phenomenal growth of My Space Housing Solutions Ltd.
My Space was Incorporated as a company 17 October 2012 and registered as a charity 28 November 2012.
In the first accounts, for year ending 31 October 2013 the turnover was £91,117 with an operating deficit of (£29,138). The most recent available accounts, for year ending 31 October 2018, show a turnover of £11,647,551 and an operating surplus of £2,874,161.
That’s ‘Care in the community’ for you . . . preferably somebody else’s community.
As I mentioned in the previous section, Gwynedd’s planning officers have recommended approval of the social dumping in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The latest in a string of cases where planning officers have made ‘strange’ decisions.
Let’s start by reminding ourselves of events at Plas Pistyll, and the neighbouring Pistyll farm, on Llŷn. I wrote about this case in Wilmslow-sur-Mer back in September 2018.
To cut a long story short, there were a number of changes to the original planning application of 2007, to the point where what was eventually arrived at in 2018 bore little or no relation to the project that had received the original planning approval.
As with Blaenau, there was a plethora of companies under the same ‘umbrella’, this one called Natural Retreats. Towards the end we even saw US intervention in the form of a new company using the name of another company in the group that had earlier demised.
And if that wasn’t reason enough to be concerned, the England-based principals were also busy in the Highlands and cocking up the Cairn Gorm funicular railway.
But according to Gwynedd’s planners there was nothing to worry about. Natural Retreats (or whatever it’s called) is run by splendid, trustworthy chaps (whoever they are) that can be relied upon to play by the rules.
The fact that the seasonal-only (caravan replacement) chalets for which they gave planning permission have miraculously transmogrified into luxury, year-round dwellings is by the bye.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that those involved at Pistyll are crooks, they’re just unscrupulous businessmen who think rules are for other people. (And Gwynedd planners obviously agree.) But this next lot we’re going to look at are most definitely crooks.
For we move on now to Bryn Llys, at Nebo, just off the A487, and not far from Llanllyfni. I wrote about it in a compendium offering in January, one that included Gavin Lee Woodhouse (on whom the sky has recently fallen), Jimbo Lynch in Aberteifi (still thriving, for now), and the Bryn Llys crew.
Bryn Llys was a traditional Welsh dwelling. Then it was acquired by the crook Jonathan James Duggan (aka Ripley), the son of John/Jonathan Joseph Duggan. Duggan père was sent down in 2005 for six years, and described in this report as a “professional fraudster”.
Duggan’s father made the news again last year when he was arrested in Benllech, taken back to Yorkshire and banged up again.
Shane Baker, the rocking English supremacist, seems to act as Duggan’s dogsbody.
Anyway, Duggan applied to Cyngor Gwynedd for permission to build an extension to Bryn Llys. This was granted . . . but what was built was much bigger than planning permission allowed, so retrospective planning approval was applied for, and granted – for an extension that now dwarfed the original structure.
Though what was actually built exceeded even the retrospective planning approval. Made clear in the picture on the right, above.
And if you think that’s bad enough, well it gets worse, for below you can see what’s up for sale now with Rightmove. The original Bryn Llys is gone completely.
This of course has not happened overnight, it’s taken years. And throughout this period neighbours demanded enforcement action from the council, but nothing was done. Protection was also sought from North Wales Police against the intimidation locals experience from the criminal gang centred on Bryn Llys, but no protection was offered.
Bryn Llys is the most incredible planning issue that anyone has ever brought to my attention. The more I think about it, the more difficult it is to believe. But it happened. It happened in Wales. And these bastards have got away with it. Which will only encourage them and others do something similar.
The word is obviously out – ‘Come to Wales, you can get away with anything’.
And yet, it’s not too late. Cyngor Gwynedd could still send out a message that would be heard loud and clear by insisting on the demolition of ‘Bryn Llys’. But they will never do that.
Are Gwynedd’s planners afraid that Welsh people living in Abersoch might lower property values on the Cheshire Riviera?
I’m not saying that brown envelopes are involved, but if they’re not, then Gwynedd’s planners must be among the most incompetent public officials imaginable.
Wales suffers social dumping for reasons that can be summarised thus: A colonial relationship with England is encouraged by a bloated third sector and further facilitated by an abundance of suitable properties in deprived and declining communities. For reasons that perhaps only they can explain, social dumping is welcomed by too many politicians on the left who think that allowing Wales to be exploited in this manner is somehow virtuous.
Another worry, especially in rural areas, is the number of crooks involved in asset stripping, mortgage fraud, money laundering and other activities. Though maybe the bigger concern is that not only are these criminals able to get what they want from our local authorities, but they even receive grants from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, and they seem to be above the law.
Just a couple of weeks ago ITV News and the Guardian revealed what a crook Gavin ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse is – but he’s been operating with impunity in Wales for years! In fact, the ‘Welsh Government’ has been falling over itself to help him with his ultimate con – the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
There’s no doubt about it; if you’re in the social cleansing business, or mortgage fraud, asset stripping, money laundering, then Wales is the place to come.
The cops don’t seem to be to interested, you can run rings round or walk all over council officials, there’s no media worth speaking of to expose you, and the ‘Welsh Government’ will even fund you! What’s not to like!