Mar 182018
 

UNCRITICAL PUBLICITY

Over recent years, at the prompting of political friends of the homelessness industry, both BBC Wales and the print media have given television series and pages of newsprint so that the countless competing and duplicating businesses in the sector can promote themselves and their ‘mission’.

To my knowledge, nothing even vaguely critical of the homelessness racket has been allowed. It’s the sort of publicity other commercial enterprises usually have to pay for.

But this free publicity is not restricted to companies in the homelessness business, it covers all bodies operating in the third sector, to the extent that the third sector has achieved the status of royalty or dead heroes in that it’s beyond criticism.

If nothing else, this exposes yet again the problems caused to Wales and Welsh public life by the incestuous little world we know as the Cardiff Bay Bubble.

We saw it with the death of Carl Sargeant and we see it again in the crucifixion of Neil McEvoy. A politician’s political or personal enemies ask a lobbying outfit to get some friend in the third sector to make a silly claim of harassment, or bullying, or bum-touching.

The victimisation process might even be initiated by the lobbyists themselves. (‘Shame on you!’ I hear.)

Then it’s a case of all girls together and another poor man-beast is brought down.

Another part of the Bay Bubble is the ‘Welsh’ media, which cannot criticise the third sector, stuffed with Labour Party members and supporters, without offending the Labour Party itself. So the third sector gets the kind of kid-glove treatment I’ve just described.

So who loses out? You and me, my friend, and the 99.9% of Wales lying outside of the Cardiff Bay Bubble.

WCVA STEPS IN WITH DIRE WARNINGS

Earlier this month the Wasting Mule ran a big publicity puff and funding appeal (masquerading as a news story) for the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, in which CEO Ruth Marks told us that the “voluntary sector” is worth £1bn but she’s worried about reducing funding. Note the use of the term “voluntary sector”.

click to enlarge, or click here to view as a pdf document

Ms Marks quoted spurious figures which I’ve highlighted. For example, the figure she uses for ‘England’ almost certainly includes UK-wide bodies based in England and even international agencies such as Oxfam and Save the Children.

The only valid comparison would be England-only agencies with Wales-only agencies. Because I know damn well that in England a Tory Government, and Tory-controlled local authorities, do not throw money at the third sector in the manner of Welsh socialist politicians maintaining their system of patronage.

This reluctance to fund the third sector in England explains why so many third sector operatives have flocked to Wales since we’ve had devolution and Labour dishing out the loot.

Another interesting claim is that the third sector accounts for 10% of Welsh employment. Seeing as these jobs are almost entirely reliant on public funding they could be equated to paying benefit. Or, to be more generous, seeing as many third sector activities are ‘outsourced’ transferring from the public sector to the third sector just re-labels existing jobs.

Then again, the “voluntary sector” means unpaid work, so how can it account for 10% of Welsh employment? She must be confused, or perhaps hoping to confuse us.

After studying the third sector in Wales for many years I know there is a deliberate attempt to mislead or deceive in almost everything the third sector says and does. That’s because there’s a lot of money involved and many careers; the third sector is often a stepping stone to a political career, or it provides a nice retirement job after leaving politics.

But to enjoy these benefits you must be in the ‘club’. And membership is restricted to the Labour Party, with Plaid Cymru – in return for political support – allowed to feed off the scraps.

WCVA GETS REALLY DIRE

Just nine days after the Ruth Marks piece in Llais y Sais, the WCVA was back with a full-page article written by Anna Nicholl, Director of Strategy and Sector Development.

click to enlarge, or click here to view as a pdf document

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like grabbing the reader’s attention with the first few lines, just think of: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”, or “All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, and of course, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”.

But when I read, “To my mind, the very fabric of Welsh life depends on the survival of the third sector”, the needle on the old hypocrisy meter went off the dial. While the bollocks detection equipment just blew up from some kind of power surge. (You should have seen the cat move!)

Hypocrisy_meter_tsd

To believe Anna Nicholl, the third sector is all that saves our beloved homeland from the ravages of the Four Horsemen.

Whereas the truth is that many Welsh communities are being damaged by the criminals, addicts, problem families and others imported by many third sector bodies (and here I include housing associations). Because once you’ve found your racket, and got your funding, you need a steady supply of ‘clients’ to keep the funding flowing, and if Wales can’t provide enough ‘clients’ then you have to look elsewhere.

Earlier I wrote, “there is a deliberate attempt to mislead or deceive in almost everything the third sector says and does”. This article by Anna Nicholl proves my point. But for anyone in doubt, let me spell it out.

On the one hand we have the kind of third sector body represented by the WCVA, such as homelessness company Llamau, with its 266 employees, spending over 70% of its £10m+ annual income on salaries, and paying its CEO £80,000+. Llamau is obviously not a voluntary organisation – it is a business.

Worst of all, it is a publicly-funded business competing with too many other, publicly-funded businesses.

By comparison, Mrs Williams (Troedyrhiw) who you encounter on the High Street, and who puts a sticky badge on your chest for dropping a washer or two in her tin (I always carry some), is a volunteer, because she performs this work for nothing.

Which is not to say that the organisation Mrs Williams collects for doesn’t have paid officials higher up its food chain, but these are charities in that they rely on donations from the public – not government funding.

Another kind of voluntary group is that we see in the picture used to illustrate the Anna Nicholl article, a local group trying to improve its neighbourhood, and with groups such as this there is usually no money involved at all!

So why use a picture like that if it’s not an attempt to mislead or deceive those reading the article?

In fact, Ms Nicholl gives the game away with the wording of the caption accompanying her photo: ” . . . the vital third sector, such as voluntary organisations”. But ‘voluntary organisations’ are only a small part of the third sector, and here they’re being used as a fig leaf.

The good news might be that the WCVA realises that the kind of organisations I criticise are now beyond defending, the only hope being to confuse them in the public mind with ‘voluntary organisations’.

AN ATTEMPT AT BALANCE

After reading Anna Nicholl’s deliberate confusion or conflation of voluntary groups with the avaricious money-grabbers the WCVA really represents I was moved to write to the Western Mail. So I sent my e-mail and got a quick response asking for my full address.

So we know they have my letter for publication, will they now have the balls to publish it, unedited? Just in case, here it is.

“It seems that in recent weeks the third sector has felt the need to defend itself. Presumably in an effort to help, the Western Mail ran a big piece on the 8th quoting Ruth Marks, Wales Council for Voluntary Action CEO; and then on the 16th we had a full-page article by Anna Nicholl, Director of Strategy and Sector Development at the WCVA.
 
This later article was accompanied by a big picture of a mother and child picking up litter, as an example of the ‘voluntary groups’ the WCVA claims to represent, and on which “Welsh life depends”, according to Ms Nicholl. The picture was cute, but deliberately misleading.
 
I have criticised the third sector over many years, principally on my blog, ‘Jac o’ the North’, but I have never criticised voluntary groups, nor charities with an obvious purpose such as the RNLI. My criticism has been reserved for what can only be described as self-serving, third sector businesses.
 
Many of which get millions of pounds in public funding every year, with most of the money going in salaries. And a hefty chunk of that salary funding going to the CEO, who is invariably a Labour Party member or supporter, and often from outside of Wales.
 
As if that isn’t bad enough, we have the duplication to consider. In a recent FoI response from the ‘Welsh’ Government I was told that there are 48 bodies in Wales dealing with homelessness. That’s forty-eight in a country of 3 million people.
 
Having identified an ‘issue’ to exploit it then becomes imperative for third sector bodies to have a steady supply of ‘clients’ in order to ensure the continuation of the generous funding. To meet this need often means importing undesirables from outside of Wales.
 
One Cardiff-based housing association is currently wreaking havoc in Lampeter with the drug dealers and others it’s housing in that hitherto peaceful town – and it has applied to Ceredigion council for permission to convert more buildings to one-bed flats in order to bring in more misfits! And remember – this is being paid for from the Welsh public purse!
 
How can we explain this apparent idiocy? The answer lies in the fact that the third sector is, as I’ve suggested, an extension of the Labour Party.
 
On one level, the third sector is pure cronyism in that it provides thousands of jobs for Labour supporters. On another level, the size of the third sector is used to indicate how poor Wales is, and of course it’s always someone else’s fault – so ‘Vote Labour!’
 
Which means that the third sector exploits and entrenches Wales’ poverty for the benefit of those working in it and for the electoral advantage of the Labour Party.
 
If the hundreds of millions of pounds poured into the third sector every year was used to encourage entrepreneurship and invite investment Wales would be much better off, but would also be less likely to vote Labour.
 
All of which means that the unnecessary, crony-filled and duplicating third sector bodies I’m dealing with have nothing in common whatsoever with mothers and children picking up litter in their local park.”

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 20.03.2018: Chwarae teg, the WM published the letter in full today.

Feb 262018
 

A GUEST POST FROM ‘SISTER SLEDGE’

AUX BARRICADES!

While the brothers in Cardiff Bay were fighting over the ashes of Carl Sargeant and positioning to succeed Carwyn the Untrustworthy, no one noticed that another struggle was bubbling away in deepest Ceredigion.

It started around the time of the last County Council election in May 2017, with the first rumblings over proposals for a women-only shortlist, which might have seen sister Dinah Mulholland and others being considered ahead of Ceredigion’s only Labour councillor, Hag Harris, who had served in both Liberal-Independent and Plaid coalition cabinets, building up a nice pension.

The experienced Harris succeeded in seeing off these early stirrings and secured his usual seat in the election, only to be shunned by the Plaid council leader this time round and left on the back benches. The council rumours appear to be that this was due to his opinions on the closure of Bodlondeb residential home; caught in a pincer movement between his previous role as cabinet member with responsibility for social services, which damned him in the eyes of the younger, Corbynite brothers and sisters who sought to exploit the home closure for crude political advantage.

Why would this Spartist superstar be interested in a care home in Aberystwyth? (click to enlarge)

After a lengthy public campaign over the closure of Bodlondeb, which saw the brothers and sisters exultant when Chavs author Owen Jones joined them on the streets of Aberystwyth to argue for public residential homes workers to be kept in a job no matter how much money was being lost, but the home still closed.

Though not before the (under siege) Plaid Cymru council leader was forced to turn to Labour’s favourite housing association, Wales and West, and agree to them having a 60 bed extra care facility on the prime development site where once had stood Plas Morolwg. This site had been gifted to W&W by the Labour Welsh Government when local association Tai Cantref was deliberately shafted by their lenders and hung out to dry.

Outline planning permission was swiftly pushed through, as it became clearer that the fifteen-years-in-the-planning alternative extra care scheme in Tregaron was hitting the rocks. So, the future looked bright, with Wales and West Housing moving back into Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and north Pembrokeshire, backed by certain friends within Ceredigion County Council.

Pretty soon afterwards, plans for lots of flats in Lampeter emerged as well, with proposals to demolish the old Ffynnonbedr primary school right in the middle of Hag Harris’s ward, backed with an allocation of Social Housing Grant from the Welsh Government, via the county council officer who likes to say “yes” to Wales and West.

You would think that Cllr Harris might have been pleased about this development – but no, alas, both he and other members of the Town Council were already aware of the lack of management of the existing Wales and West flats in the town, and the constant visits by the Police concerning drugs and damage to property. Could this be the Corbynista’s revenge?

Lampeter also being the place of work of the Dinah Mulholland mentioned above, where she supports the special students who, having gained their university place to do Egyptology or religious studies, with E or below A level grades, still need that extra bit of support.

Sadly, the drop in the number of students achieving even those grades has meant a surplus of student accommodation, and therefore empty private sector rented accommodation in the town, leading to an increase in second and third generation LSD hippies moving out of their caravans in Silian and into the unlicensed HMOs in the town.

The experienced Cllr Harris has at least stalled the planning consent for the Wales and West additional flats, whilst his Corbynista sisters in the Constituency Labour Party post on the Ceredigion Labour Facebook Page about Corbyn’s pledge to build 8000 new homes to take the homeless off the streets.

So, having given Wales and West a lift in Ceredigion, what next for the young revolutionaries? Well, social media is a young people’s game, and Cllr Harris and his ilk are not known to frequent those channels.

Dinah and her Aberystwyth university comrades came up with the next idea around January 2018, with the creation of a (quite sinister looking) new Facebook page called Ceredigion Tenants. As you can see, the page has a clenched fist profile picture and other leftist imagery, such as “eating the rich”. The intention is clear – to get down with the ‘tenants’ on Facebook, and encourage them to revolt!

More infantile Spartism (click to enlarge)

There have been encouraging posts about building more council housing (in a county that couldn’t look after what it already had) and what to do with rogue landlords and how tenants should form tenant unions. Plenty of promoting the posts of Shelter Cymru, most of whose senior staff are active Labour Party supporters, and make a living out of taking landlords to Court on the back of generous legal aid. All good stuff, churned out from their university-paid desks.

The Corbynistas soon latched on to a local issue with Ceredigion-based Tai Ceredigion, who had the audacity to suggest that some of their tenants should comply with the terms of their tenancy agreements, and not keep dogs or cats in flats, or accumulate weeks worth of their faeces.

How dare they! Surely it is the right of every tenant to do what they like, to allow their dog to bite the neighbours or housing association staff, and to dump cat litter over the balcony onto the one below. This local issue has nicely coincided by a new policy initiative from the Corbyn side of the party to propose legislation to give every tenant the right to keep a pet.

A browse through the newly established Ceredigion Tenants Facebook page will show dozens of posts in support of the tenants, many comments urging tenants to visit the local Shelter Cymru advice worker, and to seek legal aid to fight this great injustice of requiring them to adhere to the tenancy agreements that they signed. Petitions have been “organized” (sic) and promoted by Daren Howe, the local expert in change.org petition promotion.

DAREN BRINGS MORE COBBLESTONES

Daren Howe: “Signed and shared several times, I have 3 large groups waiting to post this petition but it needs more detail and more bite, why is this happening?, who is it happening to?, what are the consequences if we don’t win etc.”

“3 large groups”! Where? Ceredigion? Chelmsford? Birmingham Central Constituency Labour Party?

Daren has now helped get the pet petition over the 2000 mark, by cross-posting to other Corbynista groups and animal rights activist networks – but with very few signatures from Ceredigion itself. Rumour has it that Daren himself has a bit of a history with a former council house he used to live in, before abandoning ship for a tenancy in Cardigan with those nice people at Wales and West.

Whilst it is clear who is behind the Ceredigion People’s Assembly from cross-postings of the pet ban petition made by members of Ceredigion Labour and from Ceredigion Tenants Facebook page, the brothers and sisters have been reluctant to be up front about it.

However, in one of the postings by the administrator of Ceredigion Tenants, Dinah Mulholland, reveals herself as one of the sisters behind the initiative:

Ceredigion Tenants I have given your names to Jess from ITV and Sian from BBC Wales. I suggested they make contact via this Facebook page. Hope that works. Let me know if not and I follow it up. Hope you are all OK. Dinah x”

“Ceredigion People”, it says, but there may be no genuine Cardis involved! (click to enlarge)

Obviously you won’t find many genuine Ceredigion people among the vegans and the green tea-drinking university sisters such as Dinah Mulholland, Jo Eastlake and Claire Risley.

Where next, eh? Maybe their new-found sister in Cardigan, Morvenna Dorita, will mount a takeover for Cardigan Town Council?

You heard it here first, folks, the revolution started with the comrades in Ceredigion.

♦ end ♦

 

JAC SAYS . . .

I am indebted to ‘Sister Sledge’ for this timely reminder of how the Labour Party extends its influence in the absence of a democratic mandate by using trade unions, campaign groups, charities, third sector bodies and, increasingly in Wales, housing associations.

Not forgetting how Labour activists exploit local issues such as the closure of the Bodlondeb care home in Aberystwyth and the pets ban in social housing flats. The sort of things Labour councils do everywhere but which only draw the ire of the comrades in areas that Labour doesn’t control.

Photo Keith Morris, click to enlarge

What’s happening in Ceredigion though may take things a step further because the sudden flurry of activity among the comrades – and perhaps more particularly, the comradesses – is done not just to extend the influence of their party, for I suspect that the faux outrage over the closure of Bodlondeb and the pets ban may serve a bigger agenda.

‘Sister Sledge’ mentioned Wales and West Housing, which I’ve written about many times. This is a Cardiff-based housing association now spreading like a virus across Wales with the help of the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government. It recently built new offices in Ewloe, Flintshire.

In its desire to take over as much of Wales’ social housing as possible and perhaps become the last – or the biggest – left standing after the inevitable reorganisation takes place Wales and West tries to gobble up everything in its path.

‘Sister Sledge’ made reference to Cantref, a housing association based in Newcastle Emlyn, which was undermined by the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government and then handed on a plate to Labour-controlled Wales and West. Cantref’s former properties are now run from Cardiff, and Welsh – the working language of Cantref – is treated as an irritating irrelevancy by Wales and West.

Forget Carwyn’s million Welsh speakers by 2050, the Cantref episode shows us ‘Welsh’ Labour’s real attitudes towards the Welsh language.

A neighbour of Cantref’s now being eyed by W&W, is Tai Ceredigion . . . ‘But wait!’ you exclaim, ‘isn’t Tai Ceredigion that wicked housing association that rips fluffy kittens from children’s arms and smashes their little skulls with lump hammers (the kittens not the children)? Yes indeedy.

Are you beginning to get the picture? For those of you still having trouble, let Jac lead you by the hand . . .

Ceredigion county council had on its hands an extremely pale pachyderm in the form of Bodlondeb, a drain on the public purse that could no longer be justified. Sensing a chance to manipulate public opinion and use it to expand in Ceredigion both ‘Welsh’ Labour and Wales and West Housing swung into action.

Ceredigion People’s Assembly was set up in August 2017, the foot-soldiers were organised and had a protest march on September 16th (Glyndŵr’s Day). A further rally was organised on November 4th which was attended by the saintly Owen Jones.

From Ceredigion People’s Alliance Facebook page

Result: Ceredigion council closes Bodlondeb but the bad publicity generated by Labour front organisation, Ceredigion People’s Assembly, virtually blackmails the council into allowing Labour-controlled W&W to build a replacement facility on the Plas Morolwg site.

Emboldened by that victory, the next target is Tai Ceredigion, and we see the same foot-soldiers form another Labour front organisation, Ceredigion Tenants, whose Facebook page sprang into life on January 11, just one day after Tai Ceredigion sent its letters about pets to the tenants of the Penparcau flats.

If all goes according to plan the ‘Welsh’ Government will hand Tai Ceredigion and its assets over to Wales and West Housing, as it did with Tai Cantref. And despite being consistently rejected by the electors of Ceredigion the Labour Party will have secured for itself considerable power in the county.

This is clearly a subversion of the democratic process, but it’s only what we should expect from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

One great irony is that because those involved with Ceredigion People’s Assembly, Ceredigion Tenants, and even the Labour Party, are English, what we see is a kind of hard left colonialism. 

Which should remind us that when it comes to English colonialism in Wales there’s no real difference between hard left and extreme right, though maybe the right is more honest about what it’s doing. 

Feb 152018
 

 

Some time ago, October 2015, to be exact, I published Bits & Pieces 13.10.2015: Assembly 2016, Reputations, Vattenfall, Cardigan Castle and, almost en passant, I mentioned Empower-Support for the Voluntary Sector, of Cwm Cynon, which I likened to a case of big fleas having little fleas because Empower seems to feed on third sector and other publicly-funded bodies.

Empower SVS is owned and run by  Beverly Elizabeth Garside and I wrote of her, “One mystery though is why, on her Linkedin profile, Bev tells us that she has been director of Empower since January 2001, yet Companies House tells us that Empower was not Incorporated as a company until February 18th 2004.”

I can now explain this confusion, and more, by telling you where Beverly Garside was and what she was doing in the years prior to 2004, but first I want to take a peek at Empower.

EMPOWER SVS

Go to the Empower website and the ‘About Us’ page. On the right you’ll see the staff.

Bev Garside on top and below her we find Owen Davies of whom I know nothing because we are told “Full profile coming soon”. And it’s the same for Pamela Davies below him. For James Davies there is a profile, and it tells us after working in the planning departments of Swansea and RCT councils he spent eight years with Planning Aid Wales before joining Empower in April 2015.

click to enlarge

Next up is the dashing figure of polo player Ashley McMahon, ex-military and still barking commands at that fine body of men the Glamorgan Yeomanry. Ashley is the Marketing and PR Manager.

Next on the totem pole we find young Alex Railton, a Marketing Assistant, for whom Empower couldn’t even be bothered to put up “Full profile coming soon”.

These six I assume are based at or work out of Empower’s office at the Feel Good Factory, Abercynon Road, Ynysboeth.

The others, described as Associates are almost certainly not employees. Liz Tyson is based in Manchester, and her passion would appear to be animal welfare. Ashan Malik is in Bradford. Bryan Collis is in Swansea where his full-time job is with All Wales People First, yet another third sector outfit stuffed with people taking advantage of the public funding bonanza.

The final Associate is Dawn Davies (née Minifey), whose day job is Director of Communities Connected Consultancy Ltd of Bridgend, where we also encounter Bryan Collis again. Though it looks as if Bryan and the others listed are associates. Communities Connected seems to do the same type of work as Empower . . . and no doubt 37 other companies.

Why do I say that? Well, because when Communities Connected was Incorporated with Companies House 14 September 2016 there were two founding directors, Dawn Davies and Paul Stepczak. ‘Who he?’ you cry. Here’s a clue.

click to enlarge

In a previous existence young Paul was “lead cluster officer for Communities First in Glyncoch”. How know I this? From my regular reading of the Church in Wales website, which I recommend unto you all. Stepczak left Communities Connected 12 October 2017, so Dawn Davies is now alone at the helm.

Staying on Empower’s ‘About Us’ page we see, bottom left, a grouping of logos under ‘Our clients’, and an eclectic mix it is, though hardly impressive. For a start, we see Communities First again, that disastrous programme that had its plug pulled last year.

But not before it had consumed £300m of public funding and provided lots of meaningless jobs like ‘lead cluster officer’ in Glyncoch. And of course much of the Communities First funding found its way to consultants and advisors. And while I’m not for one minute suggesting that all those who worked for Communities First were Labour Party supporters, nor that the consultants and advisors were on good terms with the bruvvers, let’s say that Labour Party connections definitely helped when it came to getting your milking pail under this particular cash cow.

Another client that caught my eye was Ambassador Training Wales. As far as I can make out, this Swansea-based outfit trains guides for the tourism industry. I’m not sure what advice Empower provided but Ambassador Training Wales is teetering on the brink and about to be struck off by Companies House.

Then there’s Cynnal Cymru/Sustain Wales, though whether it’s a client is debatable because it seems to be in the same line of work as Empower. Either way, Bev Garside gets a mention under the heading, ‘A story of networking, cars and sustainability‘.

Scroll down to read the fragrant Bev herself say: “The nature of a busy consultancy means I am always on the road; I regularly drive the breadth of England and Wales and accumulate tens of thousands per miles per year.  Whilst I use trains wherever I can, our work often takes us to places that cannot be easily or efficiently reached by public transport.  My new Lexus Hybrid is not only more fuel efficient, which is great for my business, it also produces a third less emissions than my old car.”

The article is dated (à la mode américain) 01.26.2017. So at this time last year Bev Garside, who runs Empower SVS Ltd, was driving around in a brand new Lexus hybrid. Business must have been good because even leasing such a car wouldn’t be cheap

Before examining the business side of Empower I just want to take a wee detour offered by another of Empower’s ‘clients’, useful because it’s all part of a bigger picture. This time it’s Tyddyn Môn.

TYDDYN MÔN

Its website tells us that “Tyddyn Môn was founded by the parents of adults with learning difficulties who wanted a more constructive and rewarding occupation for their sons and daughters.” And the website doesn’t tell us a great deal more than that.

The more I looked into Tyddyn Môn the more obvious it became that despite being located on an island where almost all the native-born speak Welsh the organisation itself is rather, well, unWelsh. Take as an example the highlight of the social calendar, the annual ‘Folk on the Farm Festival’. Here’s the line-up for 2018 – does anyone recognise any Welsh bands there?

click to enlarge

It’s basically a hippyfest, an English hippyfest. So who’s running Tyddyn Môn?

If we go to the Charity Commission website and type in 1072035 we see that the leading light among the trustees appears to be a Mrs Eileen Mildred Clarke, who is also a trustee of a number of other organisations, one of them being Gwasanaeth Adfocatiaeth a Chynghori Gogledd Cymru / North Wales Advice and Advocacy Association.

The Association is also a registered charity, No 1060826, and as the name suggests – and the screen capture below confirms – it covers our six northern local authorities, plus Staffordshire. Staffordshire!

click to enlarge

Why the hell is an English county that doesn’t even border Wales included there? When I see something like that it sets the old Jac antennae all a-quiver. Does anyone have an answer?

Whatever the reason, for year ending 31.03.2017 the Association received £277,939 in grants, mainly from Welsh local authorities (but nothing from Staffordshire) with £294,329 going on wages and running costs. So a rosy future beckons.

Back to Tyddyn Môn, where the Accounts for 2017 tell us the same, depressing story. Total income for year ending 31.03.2017 was £1,594,056, with £1,115,209 coming from Ynys Môn council.

Of that income £1,052,108 went on staff costs. Though, confusingly, page 18 tells us that two trustees were also paid a total of £53,101. Explained thus: “The trustees Mr J.G.P. Webster and Ms T.A. Davies are paid remuneration in relation to the work that they undertake for the Charitable Company as a support worker and housing manager. They are not paid for their posts as trustees”.

Well in that case why not include their salaries with those for the other staff? Though if they are employees why are they allowed to also be trustees?

Maybe I should explain here that the whole point of trustees is to provide oversight of a charity but with the day-to-day running left to the paid staff or volunteers. The two should be entirely separate, and with no payments made to trustees without special dispensation.

In 2016, just prior to the departures of Mrs Olwen Dennis Williams and Mr Huw Elfed Williams, three new trustee-directors were appointed on 9 April. One of them, Michael Ian Hawkes, almost immediately rose to the rank of Chair.

I suspect that Mr Hawkes may have not long moved to the area and so the other trustee-directors of Tyddyn Môn may be unaware of his glittering business career. The pinnacle of which seems to be his ongoing involvement with MHinvent, a company that has flirted with compulsory strike-off more than once and whose latest balance sheet shows liabilities of £2,296,133.

Hawkes has the largest single shareholding by far in MHinvent; hardly surprising seeing as the company seems to be named after him.

Tyddyn Môn may indeed be local to the island, but I suspect that through Mencap and other cross-border agencies connections have been formed which result in an unspecified number of Tyddyn Môn’s residents coming from outside of Wales to take advantage of the council’s generosity.

So if the council is minded to take a greater interest in Tyddyn Môn it might also benefit the island by refusing entry visas to the rag-bag collection of pony-tails lined up to wail at the Folk on the Farm Festival.

That’s the end of the digression; now it’s back to Beverly Garside and Empower SVS.

EMPOWER-SUPPORT FOR THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR LTD

The first problem I encountered when making enquiries into Empower on the Companies House website was the latest set of Accounts, or rather, what passes for the Accounts, for it’s no more than an abbreviated and unaudited balance sheet.

click to enlarge

Surely these Accounts – showing a deficit of £3,573 – aren’t for a company with five or six employees on the books, with consultants to boot, and where the owner of the company “drives the breadth of England and Wales” every year in a hybrid Lexus?

What’s going on? Where’s the money stashed?

I’m not sure, but a clue might be provided by something I stumbled on, for there’s another entry on the Companies House website for Empower Support for the Voluntary Sector a slight variation on the name of the original company. Yet it is the same company because it quotes the same number, 05048133.

What’s different is that this entry tells us that Empower is a Designated Member for CJF Recruitment LLP set up 21 May 2016. So what can Companies House tell us about CJF Recruitment LLP?

CJF has three Designated Members: Matthew John Bates of Ystrad Mynach, Jane Thomas of Llanbradach and of course Empower Support for the Voluntary Sector.

I’m not quite sure how to explain this, being unfamiliar with LLPs and their operation. I know that they are partnerships and appeal to solicitors, accountants and the like, but it’s difficult to see the advantage of a LLP over a normal company in the case of CJF.

And what do the initials stand for, certainly not the names of the partners?

But we still don’t have the answer to where the money is to run the Empower company, which seems to survive on fresh air.

As an introduction to where I’m taking you next I might as well tell you that Beverly Garside is also a director of the Captive Animals’ Protection Trust, which has its correspondence address at her home.

UPDATE 15.02.2018: As I said earlier, Empower is based in the Feel Good Factory in Ynysboeth. What I didn’t realise then was that this building – formerly All Saints Church – is shared with other users. Principally Bryncynon Community Revival Strategy Ltd.

On page 5 of the Accounts for y/e 31.03.2017 for this charity (no 1067535), and company, we learn that :-

click to enlarge

The Accounts also tell us, towards the top of page 4, “Trustees are elected from Bryncynon and its surrounding areas”. Which is as it should be. However, of the five current charity trustees / company directors one lives in Brackla, one lives in Llandaff, one in Whitchurch, one in Mitchel Troy, with just one from the local area.

But no doubt they have strong Labour Party connections to make up for their ignorance of Cwm Cynon.

THE MISSING YEARS

As I noted in the 2015 mention of Garside and Empower, “Bev tells us that she has been director of Empower since January 2001, yet Companies House tells us that Empower was not Incorporated as a company until February 18th 2004”. So how do we account for the missing years?

This link will take you to a story from The Courier (Kent/Sussex) some time in 2002. Read it carefully. Bev Garside was clearly mixed up with hunt saboteurs and animal rights activists. Her co-accused in the case I’ve linked to, Gavin Medd-Hall, was jailed for eight years in January 2009 for a different but related offence.

I don’t know the outcome of the trial in Maidstone Crown Court in 2002 because there’s no longer anything available online. But we now know where Beverly Garside was and what she was up to before the founding of Empower-Support for the Voluntary Sector in February 2004.

And her involvement with animal rights activism explains her need to claim that Empower started in 2001.

I had to think long and hard before writing this piece, in fact, it caused me more soul-searching than anything else I’ve written on this blog for a number of reasons.

To begin with, I’m an animal lover myself, I would have closed down that animal concentration camp in Borth even before the two lynx were killed. And then there’s the thought that writing this piece might give pleasure to Garside’s old foes, the twats in pink, which is not something that would please me.

That said, there are bigger issues illustrated by this case, important Welsh issues.

THE WILD WEST

In the case of Empower, we have a company that may not receive public funding itself, but lives off the recipients of public funding. And yet, at the end of the day, what do all the advisors, the empowerers, the enablers, the developers of communities, the consultants like Empower, contribute to the wealth of Wales?

Very little, especially when weighed against the amount of public funding consumed and the percentage of it that might as well be poured straight down the drain. (Just think Communities First.) The only thing this money does is create unsustainable jobs and a small amount of spending power. But this system that keeps Wales poor gives politicians the power of patronage.

So blatant is this system, and so well known, that it attracts shysters from outside of Wales looking for easy money that is not available elsewhere. It seems that every village and valley now has some old harridan behaving like a 19th century memsahib or else it’s a glottaly-afflicted young harpy so sharp she’s in danger of cutting herself.

If it’s not those running the third sector then it’s those they inflict on us; that’s because there aren’t enough Welsh to keep the funding flowing and so whole battalions of the decrepit, the deranged, the delinquent and the dependent are marched over the border.

And it’s not just our cities and larger towns that see these problems, for there isn’t a country town in Wales today unaffected by the trafficking of criminals, misfits and white trash by third sector agencies and housing associations.

It would be easy to describe these as misguided do-gooders, but they do no good at all, not for Wales anyway. They use Welsh public funding to make Wales more dangerous for us and our children. What special kind of national lunacy is this?

Then there are those who obviously see Wales as a bolt-hole or a wilderness into which they can disappear and not be recognised. This is how Mark Bridger, the murderer of five-year-old April Jones of Machynlleth came here, packed off by his family when he became too much trouble.

And who can forget the whole gang of satanic paedophiles relocated from London to Kidwelly. Yes, Kidwelly! Who the hell thought that was a good idea? Have our politicians ever asked for answers?

I’m not comparing Beverly Garside to Mark Bridger or the Kidwelly child rapists but it looks very much as if she also ran away to Wales. Maybe it’s time she practised a little honesty. Accounts for her company would be a good place to start.

The whole system is broken. We are told we need the third sector because Wales is poor . . . but the third sector thrives on poverty and makes us poorer . . . worsening poverty is then used to justify a bigger third sector . . . which makes us even poorer . . .

There is only one way out of this downward spiral – independence.

♦ end ♦

 

Jan 242018
 

Most of you will be aware that after a protracted and amateurish ‘process’ Plaid Cymru has now expelled Neil McEvoy from its Assembly group. This will have surprised absolutely no one. But what is it all about, what’s the real story?

From speaking with Neil McEvoy and others, and from my own research, this is my interpretation of an affair that reflects badly on devolution, also on Plaid Cymru, the Labour Party, and the third sector, while telling us much about the anti-democratic manoeuvrings and poisonous environment of Cardiff Bay.

The biggest problem I found in researching this piece – something I’ve been doing, off and on, for months – was not the scarcity of evidence but the overwhelming amount of it. Which meant that I had to stick to the straight and narrow without being detoured by personal animosities and other distractions.

IN THE BEGINNING

I don’t think we need to go back any further than November 2011 to find the time when Neil McEvoy made himself a host of powerful enemies, people who have pursued him ever since, and would now appear to have him down . . . though I wouldn’t bet on it.

What he did with a Facebook post and tweet about men being denied access to their children, and his criticism of Welsh Women’s Aid – run then by Labour’s Paula Hardy and today still packed with party members including the former MP for Swansea East, Siân James – was to threaten a system that relied on unquestioning acceptance of certain dicta, in this case – ‘All men are bastards, and all women are victims’.

This particular dictum wrings an unquestioning acceptance out of politicians and others which is then used to cultivate an ever-growing number of third sector bodies – as new ‘niches’ are found to exploit – with hundreds of crony jobs and all paid for from the public purse. And who would dare argue – for aren’t they ‘helping vulnerable women’.

Though it’s worth remembering that McEvoy was not without support from the very same quarter where most wanted him lynched, as this piece reminds us. It’s about Erin Pizzey, who had founded the UK’s first women’s refuge in London, in 1971.

This woman has been a doyenne of the women’s rights movement since the term ‘battered wives’ was coined and has expressed strong views on the narrow interpretation that only women can be victims of domestic violence. She has also been very critical of what she terms ‘aggressive feminism’.

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Predictably, this has made Pizzey unpopular with those who use their gender as a weapon in securing personal advancement, often in the absence of ability or qualifications. And especially with those who view someone else’s domestic abuse as a good career move for them.

Following the self-interested attacks from various third sector bodies back in 2011 the Labour Party predictably came down on a Plaid Cymru politician. But it didn’t end there, because McEvoy was suspended by his own party.

Here we see the first inkling of something beneath the surface suggesting that the political differences we are asked to believe in, the Punch and Judy shows of electioneering and political debate, may be just a sham.

THE POLITICS OF IT 1

Neil McEvoy was first elected as a Labour councillor for the Riverside ward on Cardiff city council in 1999, becoming vice-chair of the Labour group. In 2003 he left to join Plaid Cymru and lost his seat in the 2004 elections.

In 2008 he was back on the council, representing the Fairwater ward. With Plaid now running the council in coalition with the Lib Dems he served as deputy council leader from 2008 – 2012. Although Labour returned to power in 2012 McEvoy retained his Fairwater seat, coming top out of 13 candidates with 16% of the total vote.

Neil McEvoy entered the Assembly in 2016 by the regional route, becoming an AM for South Wales Central. Although the regional vote is difficult to interpret, few doubt that Plaid’s good showing was due to McEvoy being on the regional list.

(In the first round of voting for the South Wales Central list he actually beat party leader Leanne Wood.)

At the same election he also stood for the Cardiff West constituency, where he increased the Plaid vote by 11.9% and slashed the Labour majority.

Roll on to 2017 and in defending his Fairwater seat Neil McEvoy took Plaid Cymru to previously unscaled heights and a humiliating defeat for Labour. He upped his percentage of the vote to 20%, with the leading Labour candidate trailing way behind on 9%.

click to enlarge

What makes this result so impressive is that just before the council elections – in March, in fact – a Cardiff Council (i.e. Labour) tribunal found that a throwaway remark McEvoy had made to a council official amounted to ‘bullying’.

Plaid Cymru joined in by suspending him from the Plaid Cymru Assembly group. Plaid chairman Alun Ffred Jones, thought that the ludicrous charge was “serious because it involves bullying”. (Alun Ffred is one of those men so devoid of animation that watching him I think back to the old Soviet Union and the undead politburo members atop Lenin’s tomb. A fur hat and a few snowflakes would complete that rather unsettling image.)

The timing and co-ordination of these attacks was of course coincidental.

THE POLITICS OF IT 2

Were he or she reading this then I’m sure that the foreign correspondent of Maritza Plovdiv would be thinking (in Bulgarian) ‘Wow! at last Plaid Cymru has a politician who can stick it to the Labour Party, take them on and beat them on their own turf. Let the good times roll!’

In truth, since Neil McEvoy arrived in the Assembly, Plaid Cymru’s faint-hearts have behaved as if they’d been handed a bomb. For a number of reasons.

To begin with, I don’t think they understand McEvoy. For while Plaid may have many members in Cardiff nowadays, and there may be a thriving Welsh language scene in the city, this is largely due to the population movement that has enfeebled our rural areas.

But Neil McEvoy didn’t move down from Pwllheli or up from Crymych, he’s Kerdiff through and through, with his Irish/Yemeni/English/Welsh background. And this is his strength, for he appeals to Cardiff voters who might not engage with Carys or Rhodri.

Nor did he come to Plaid by any of the usual routes. By which I mean, he certainly hasn’t come from the language movement, he isn’t an environmentalist or a hard leftie infiltrator, nor is he a professional politician who started out as a party worker or spad, and he certainly didn’t emerge from the third sector.

So in many ways, Neil McEvoy is a one-off, an enigma; and for all their talk of ‘the people’, when presented with a genuine man of the people Plaid Cymru’s upper echelons are horrified.

click to enlarge

That’s because Neil McEvoy – like most of us reading this – realises that the real enemy in Wales is the Labour Party, not the Conservatives. And so he attacks the Labour Party and its corrupt system again and again. This is why Plaid Cymru is on the verge of expelling him from the party.

It is no exaggeration to make a comparison with the palace coup against Dafydd Wigley in 2000, for once again Plaid Cymru is thinking of getting rid of its most popular politician and its greatest electoral asset.

And once again, the move may be prompted by influences external to the party.

ALL PROGRESSIVES TOGETHER

In the collective mindset of the Plaid Cymru leadership and hierarchy being ‘progressive’ – and/or being viewed by others as ‘progressive’ – is more important than doing what’s best for Wales. Posturing.

Giving the finger to the US president, saving the planet, arguing that only fascists and racists want us to leave the EU, supporting every -ism that rolls off the left-liberal production line, and getting good coverage in the Guardian, are much more important than serving Wales.

Despite professing love for, and faith in, ‘the people’, progressives don’t really trust hoi polloi to do what’s best (especially since Brexit, Trump, and a host of other recent disappointments). Far better that a progressive elite should run things in the best interests of the untutored mob.

This has given Wales the kind of paternalistic statism we have always known from Labour, with Plaid Cymru latching on to Labour’s coat-tails in recent decades. Industry and commerce are inimical to this model because companies and even individual entrepreneurs cannot be easily controlled, and so both Labour and Plaid Cymru – despite regular protestations to the contrary – are anti-business.

There was a time when Labour could exercise this control through the workforces of major industries and trade unions, but with the passing of the traditional working class it has tried to maintain its hold by breaking society down into ethnic, sexual and other ‘deprived’ or ‘oppressed’ groups – all of which must be defended!

This helps explain the rise of the third sector which, especially in Wales, now fills the role vacated by the trade unions as Labour support troops. Plaid Cymru dutifully goes along with this . . . on condition that enough of its people get a slice of the third sector pie.

It’s no surprise then that one of the complainants against Neil McEvoy is Frances Beecher of homelessness company Llamau (of which I have writ many times). Her complaints are laughable, and tell us how contrived this witch-hunt is, and who’s behind it.

FRANCES BEECHER, Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

For example, “he was ‘bullish, difficult and aggressive’ at the charity’s public election hustings in May 20”, we are told. Er, so a politician spoke up at a public meeting! God Almighty – let’s get the bastard!

This ‘social worker politics’ ensures that Wales remains poor, for which Labour and Plaid Cymru blame the Tories (even when they aren’t in power), and the poverty allows the Tories to point to Wales and use it as a warning of what happens if you vote Labour.

So everybody wins – except Wales.

Let’s also remember that relying on more money from the UK government proves that Plaid Cymru doesn’t want independence. Dependent devolution with few responsibilities and plenty of perks is far more amenable.

‘STRONG WOMEN’

Of all the -isms Plaid Cymru has adopted over recent decades none is currently more pernicious and self-harming than the aggressive and intolerant form of feminism now stalking Cardiff Bay.

It manifests itself in a number of ways, and it transcends party boundaries to the advantage of Labour.

In November 2015 I wrote this mixed-bag post, and you should scroll down to the section ‘Sophie Howe, more Labour cronyism’. Howe, a Labour time-server, had been deputy PCC for South Wales to Alun Michael, the former Labour MP, then a new post was created for her, that of Future Generations Commissioner.

This new post linked with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, legislation tied in with the OnePlanet nonsense that opened rural Wales up to hippy lebensraum. Because it involved hippies, and offered no benefits whatsoever to Welsh people, it was supported enthusiastically by Plaid Cymru.

Neil McEvoy (who I referred to in the piece as “a rising star within Plaid Cymru”), criticised the appointment for what it was – Labour cronyism. Others in Plaid Cymru saw it differently, like then AM Jocelyn Davies.

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It was the Jocelyn Davies view that prevailed in Plaid Cymru and provided me with an insight into certain attitudes that allowed gender and perceptions of solidarity to over-ride the political differences most of us imagined existed. The political differences we were asked to vote for at election times.

With the death of Carl Sargeant and other recent developments we now know that things are even worse than justifying political cronyism for no better reason than that the appointee is “a strong woman”.

The agenda takes many forms. For example, there is currently a petition calling for Neil McEvoy not to be reinstated to the Plaid Cymru Assembly group. It is addressed to party leader Leanne Wood, but is it her decision alone?

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Even though it claims to be the work of ‘Concerned Welsh Women’ it’s pulling in signatures from around the world, so obviously the petition has been widely publicised in feminist circles and the Labour Party.

The word on the street is that this petition was started by another ‘strong woman’, in the form of Helen Mary Jones, sometime AM for Llanelli. She of course denies it. Though I find it interesting how many times her rebuttal reduces the whole business to a men versus women issue.

At one point she refers to Neil McEvoy as “Neil McAvoy”. Being unable to even get his name right might suggest he’s almost incidental to something bigger.

Whether Helen Mary Jones did start the petition or not she told a friend of mine once, “I have more friends in the Labour Party than in Plaid Cymru”. Make of that what you will.

Helen Mary Jones was AM for Llanelli. The seat where the great rugby coach Carwyn James once stood, and where Plaid Cymru had one of its strongest branches . . . until the general election of 2017, when the candidate selected by the local party was turfed out to make way for a woman candidate imposed by Cardiff HQ.

The imposed candidate lost, the local branch imploded, and Plaid Cymru is withering away in Llanelli.

UPDATE 25.01.2018: It seems that the petition has been taken down.

LOBBYISTS

The late Carl Sargeant complained about being bullied from within the office of Labour leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones in 2014. The finger points at former television journalist Jo Kiernan, who left at the end of 2015. This report of her departure makes it clear she was loathed by many people even in her own party.

When she left the office of the First Minister Jo Kiernan went to lobbying firm Deryn, from where the bullying and undermining of Carl Sargeant continued. The ‘Welsh’ media is reluctant to say this, so let us be thankful for Guido Fawkes. Jo Kiernan also served as a consultant to Llamau.

Though whether the continued bullying came from Kiernan alone will perhaps be established in coming months. It may be significant that Jo Kiernan’s Twitter account went silent around the time of Carl Sargeant’s death, but the tweets preserved suggest she too is ‘a strong woman’.

If we look to the six leading players at Deryn we see four with Labour backgrounds, Cathy Owens, Huw Roberts, Jo Kiernan and Vicki Evans, and two from Plaid Cymru, Nerys Evans and Elin Llŷr.

Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

In July 2016 Neil McEvoy drew attention to what he, and many others, considered to be a conflict of interest involving Nerys Evans. He also called for a register of lobbyists. Which would have seen his card marked, yet again.

Early in 2017 Neil McEvoy further endeared himself to Deryn by revealing that Ofcom’s Welsh operation had awarded a contract to Deryn without any tendering process, and this looked bad seeing as two Deryn directors – Nerys Evans and Huw Roberts – sat on the Ofcom Wales board.

The Ofcom contract with Deryn was terminated in August.

These third world shenanigans feed into the continuum, Labour/Plaid Cymru-lobbyists-third sector. With people, overwhelmingly women, floating between the different parts as if they were one. Though of course the continuum is restricted to Labour and Plaid Cymru personnel.

Which inevitably results in political differences blurring, or disappearing altogether. The priorities are influencing political decisions (often for personal gain) and milking the public purse. And God help anybody, like Neil McEvoy, who becomes aware of this corruption and starts blowing the whistle.

This explains why Plaid Cymru is so anaemic, so reluctant to confront Labour. It could even be that through channels like Deryn Labour is to some extent controlling Plaid Cymru. Certainly Nerys Evans is a very close friend of Leanne Wood.

One thing’s for sure, when it comes to election times, and we are asked to choose between Labour and Plaid Cymru, there is no choice, they’re one and the same; combining to keep Wales poor so they get votes by blaming the Tories while their friends in the third sector feather their nests from exploiting our deprivation. (And, where necessary, importing more!)

Neil McEvoy knows this. Neil McEvoy wants to expose this. And it’s the reason Neil McEvoy is now being targeted: Discredit the messenger and hope that the message dies with his political career. But it won’t work. Too many people are waking up to the incestuous relationships and the wider corruption down Cardiff Bay.

Neil McEvoy will emerge from this stronger and more popular, but the careers of many of his detractors will suffer, and I’ll enjoy writing about it. Because you’ve brought it on yourselves!

♦ end ♦

 

Dec 282017
 

LET NOT FIDO AND TIDDLES DIE IN VAIN

In the year just past, and indeed over many years, people have accused me of being negative, and challenging me to come up with solutions rather than just banging on about how awful the situation is in Wales.

Well, to begin with, I defy anyone to look around Wales today and be positive. Our country is in one hell of a mess. The only people I can think of who might try to put a gloss on the situation are apologists for ‘Welsh’ Labour down in Cardiff docks and apologists for the Tory regime in Westminster.

Not forgetting of course those parasites who see Welsh deprivation as an opportunity for them to milk the public purse in order to enrich and promote themselves by building up third sector businesses. More on them later.

And with so many politicians, civil servants and others claiming to be dedicated to making things better in Wales why look to poor old Jac to come up with the answers?

I have even been accused of nihilism! For those unsure what I’m talking about, nihilism is the belief that all existing political and social structures must be destroyed in order to build something better. At its most extreme it can be the belief that existence itself is pointless. A more moderate form might be extreme cynicism or scepticism, to which I would plead guilty

In 19th century Russia Nihilism took a political form, and on this blog I have confessed a sneaking regard for Sergey Gennadiyevich Nechayev but I myself have never preached nihilism. What I have argued is that others are taking us in a direction that might engender nihilistic thoughts and if so then we should be ready to exploit the opportunities this will offer.

By way of example, if Brexit leads to the disaster many are predicting, and we are reduced to eating our domestic pets then, rather than bemoaning our luck and damning those who voted for Brexit, those of us who prioritise the interests of Wales should be ready to view the demise of Fido and Tiddles as opportunities rather than tragedies.

Of course a decline in living standards resulting from Brexit will cause our two BritLeft parties to attack the Tories in a UK-focused debate, in which they will argue that they’re ‘doing it for Wales’.

Bollocks! they’ll just be engaging in a bit of Tory-bashing. What Welsh nationalists should do is exploit the confusion to argue that this latest debacle just reminds us that the Union and devolution do not serve Wales, therefore independence is the only sensible option.

That is what I have said, and what I believe; and while it argues for escaping the British system it does not advocate destroying it, therefore I don’t regard anything I’ve written as being nihilistic. It is nothing more or less than being prepared to take advantage of a dire situation that might arise.

A QUICK COMPARISON BETWEEN MONACO AND WALES

Whimsical? Have I been overdoing it on the Argie red? Possibly, but indulge me all the same.

One guaranteed objection will be that Monaco is not a ‘real country’, Well, it’s a principality, and hasn’t Lord Elis Thomas just reminded us that Wales too is a principality. But Monaco is a member of the UN, with many other powers and representations we associate with ‘real countries’, so while it may not have a national rugby team Monaco is in many ways much more of a country than Wales.

Here’s a helpful table I’ve drawn up to explain some of the differences.

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With eighty times Monaco’s population Wales’ Gross Domestic Product is just ten times that of Monaco. It will be argued that this too is not a valid comparison because Monaco is the playground of millionaires, a place of extravagant wealth and tax-avoiders, and as such a hell on earth to be reviled by those preferring to cherish and exploit poverty. (And God knows we have too many of those in Wales!)

And yet, being the contrarian I am, I shall make a few comparisons.

Over the years I have pointed out the insanity of encouraging elderly English people to move to Wales because of the obvious damage this influx causes to our NHS and associated services, and yet, we see that the percentage of the population over the age of 65 is much higher in Monaco than in Wales, but Monaco is infinitely more prosperous than Wales. So why is this?

Now we encounter two major differences between Wales and Monaco. First, I would bet my house that the elderly in Monaco are healthier than the elderly in Wales, for no better reason than rich people are always healthier than poor people. (And of course the climate also helps.)

Second, as this article from Pacific Prime tells us, “Foreign nationals immigrating to Monaco without employment must have full private health insurance. Proof of such cover will be needed to be granted a residency permit by the Monegasque authorities”. Monaco is not alone is demanding private health cover for elderly and sick people wanting to settle.

Rich people create jobs. Tens of thousands of people commute every day from France and Italy to jobs in Monaco. That’s in addition to the jobs done by native Monegasques (whose language is now being taught in schools).

Far from being a capitalist hell Monaco is a small principality made up of the comfortably off, the wealthy and the super-rich.

Tourism is another area in which it’s worth making a comparison. Monaco relies to a greater extent on tourism than Wales, but whereas in Monaco it’s Russian oligarchs or Saudi princes dropping a few million at roulette before roaring off in gold-plated Lambos, here it’s endless rows of ugly caravans stuffed with people determined to spend as little as possible in ‘Woiles’ before heading back to Brum in the people carrier.

But the real difference, which goes a long way to explaining why one is rich and the other is poor, is the mentality prevailing among those running these vastly different principalities.

Monaco (click to enlarge)

As we’ve seen, Monaco is welcoming, as long as you can afford the most expensive real estate on earth – where a one-bed apartment sells for $8.1m (but with much of the cheaper housing reserved for locals) – and as long as you also have private health care. Otherwise, it’s a case of, ‘Sling yer hook, matey!’ (or however that may be rendered in French or Monegasque).

By comparison, Wales is a poor country, with many of our own problems contributing to that poverty, and yet the ‘Welsh’ Government through its third sector is making Wales poorer by importing more of the problems that impoverish us.

Monaco attracts millionaires who make the place richer while Wales scours England for deadbeats to make us poorer.

The real worry is that there are too many who prefer to see Wales poor.

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR OUR POLITICIANS FOR 2018 AND BEYOND

First, realise that poverty is not a virtue to be celebrated and exploited. Poverty is a national insult to be done away with, and the surest way of doing that is by putting Welsh interests first and building a real economy.

Second, understand that a real economy is not built on a corrupt and overblown third sector, or a ‘tourism industry’ that is just a low skill, low pay, low value activity, overseen by a whoremonger ‘government’ selling us and our homeland off in some demeaning Dutch auction.

Wales needs a diversified and indigenous economy built on twenty-first century industries, as the response below to a recent tweet of mine tells us. (STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.) This is the only remedy to the poverty and deprivation we see in so many parts of our homeland.

While that should be the medium-term ambition, there are still measures that Carwyn (if he survives) and his assemblage of buffoons could be implementing in the short term.

There’s an old saying to encourage young entrepreneurs, ‘Nobody ever got rich working for somebody else’. The same applies to countries. So instead of managing Wales on behalf of England, why doesn’t the ‘Welsh’ Government try something different – like governing Wales for the benefit of us Welsh?

THINKS

1/ Thousands of cost-free jobs could be guaranteed by introducing local recruitment legislation. By which I mean insisting that local people fill the vacancies in their areas. At present, all manner of organisations import staff from outside Wales. This costs our people jobs, therefore it must end.

The excuse often used to justify this practice is that it’s ‘difficult to find local people with the training or expertise needed’. So let’s identify these skills shortages and give local people the skills needed. (Unless of course some other agenda is being served by such practices.)

2/ Next, why don’t we take the countless millions of pounds currently wasted on the third sector, which spends that money importing criminals, drug addicts, problem families, the homeless and others from England, and use that money to encourage indigenous SMEs.

3/ Our shambolic social housing system squanders tens of millions every year on housing that Wales doesn’t need because housing associations operate in an Englandandwales framework and are linked into chains that include probation companies and others. Introduce a five-year residency (in Wales) qualification for social housing and use the money saved on infrastructure projects.

4/ Instead of surrendering the northern part of our country to the Mersey Dee Alliance why not have a northern city region based on Wrecsam. Improve communications to the town and thereby ensure that more Welsh money stays in Wales.

5/ Why not a national planning presumption against properties that target retirees from England? Those being built by housing associations, with public money, could be stopped almost immediately.

The money saved here, and in our NHS, could be used to better educate our kids – as Ireland and other countries have done – because you can’t build a twenty-first century economy with a twentieth-century education system.

6/ Buy a tidy map and realise that Wales extends beyond Cardiff.

All the above ideas could be implemented quite easily and would be of immense benefit to Wales without disadvantaging or discriminating against anyone now living here. But there are too many who want to keep Wales poor.

These include those who can capitalise electorally on our poverty and deprivation (by blaming someone else), and those who can use them to build up third sector bodies providing publicly-funded jobs for them and their cronies.

Selfish and venal though they may be, those motivations are easy to understand because of that. More worrying are those – and Plaid Cymru seems to have rather too many of them – who wallow sentimentally in poverty as if it was part of our heritage. For others it brings some kind of spiritual uplift, as if poverty is the rock-strewn path to the moral high ground. (First left after the sunlit uplands of socialism.)

(Of course, when I say ‘wallow’, you have to understand that it’s always others who actually do the wallowing.)

So here’s a message for our people: Socialism is a doctrine that thrives on human misery, exploitation, oppression . . . but realises it’s better to exploit these ills than remedy them. Nowhere exemplifies this better than Wales, so wise up and stop voting for those with vested interests in keeping Wales poor.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

 

Dec 182017
 

INTRODUCTION

Before you start, let me warn you that this is quite a long piece, it’s long because it deals with the fundamental problems of devolution, and explains why devolution has resulted in Wales becoming poorer.

Though you can console yourselves with the knowledge that unless some bastards really annoy me between now and Hogmanay this will be my last posting of 2017.

Here’s how devolution makes Wales poorer, with a few of the consequences:

  1. Fundamentally, devolution makes Wales poorer due to the way devolution is funded
  2. A problem exacerbated by separate legislation and funding allowing England to impose burdens on Wales that would be impossible without devolution
  3. That said, Wales being poor suits the interests of the Labour Party, which blames others for the state of Wales while exploiting the poverty for electoral gain and to build a crony empire
  4. As there is no party or alliance of parties capable of breaking Labour’s stranglehold Wales is condemned to ever-worsening poverty
  5. With devolution being so disastrous for Wales we are left with only two realistic alternatives: independence or being treated more fairly as part of England

I shall deal with all of the above points but not necessarily separately (or even in that order) because of linkages that I hope become clear.

SHORT-CHANGED

There is no question that Wales is worse off today than when we had the first elections to the Welsh Assembly in May 1999. The evidence is everywhere, and not only is the Wales of 2017 poorer than the Wales of 1999, we are also poorer relative to other parts of the UK than we were in 1999, and falling further behind every year.

It doesn’t really matter which index you use – GVA, GDPwages, child poverty – the picture painted is the same. (While our GVA may have grown faster than the other countries of the UK in recent years that growth seems to be restricted to Cardiff.)

One of the major reasons for Wales’ relative poverty is the funding arrangement known as the Barnett Formula. This article on the BBC Northern Ireland website explains it in simple terms.

Note that it admits, “The figures vary slightly every year, but in 2012-2013 Northern Ireland got the most – £10,876 per head. Scotland got £10,152 per head and Wales, despite being much poorer, got £9,709.” (My underline.)

So we see that, to begin with, Wales is disadvantaged in the allocation of funding, but it gets worse. For in the article we also read, “Some argue a needs-based system – which would take into account factors such as the age of the population and levels of poverty – would be a fairer formula.”

The importance of the reference to “the age of the population” will be explained in a minute.

SCAPEGOAT

Now in any normal country this deteriorating situation might have resulted in a change of government, if not social upheaval, but this is Wales and such things never happen, partly because there’s a scapegoat. For since 2010 there’s been a Conservative government in London, and so for ‘Welsh’ Labour and its little helper it’s all the fault of them wicked Tories.

But Wales had been in decline since the beginning of the devolution era, and from 1999 until 2010 there was a Labour government in London, first led by Tony Blair and then by Gordon Brown. So did Labour and Plaid Cymru blame ‘London’ then? Well, obviously, Labour didn’t, and Plaid’s criticism was usually muted, certainly after the palace coup that removed leader Dafydd Wigley in 2000 (after he’d led his party to its greatest electoral success), and also during the Labour-Plaid coalition of 2007 – 2011.

To reverse this decline would require radical change, but ‘Welsh’ Labour is as afraid of radical change as the stone throwers of Saudi Arabia; for Labour in Wales is a very conservative party. It wants things to stay the same because the status quo serves its interests, with no change countenanced unless it can benefit the party.

‘ . . . and it’all the fault of them wicked Tories up in Lundun’. Bollocks! Try looking closer to home, Leanne.

The other consideration is that change of a radical nature, i.e. Wales doing things for itself, to benefit itself, might unleash demons that could inflame a hitherto resigned populace with ideas of Welsh competence. Clearly, a dangerous road to take for a party that, when it comes to the relationship with England, may be viewed as the DUP without the bowlers and the sashes.

To understand Plaid Cymru you need to know that Plaid today is a bound-for-oblivion alliance of a socially conservative rural grass-roots with a leadership stratum made up of ‘progressives’ fighting UK-wide or even global battles against the forces of darkness.

While Trump is president, Brexit looms, the globe warms, the right marches in Freedonia, and Wales lacks transgender toilets in every coffee shop, Wales is too small and too poor to interest such ‘progressives’.

TAKING ADVANTAGE

I’ve said that Wales will never prosper under devolution, but in the heading to this article I suggest that devolution by its very nature is partly responsible for our decline. So let me explain.

Fundamentally, devolution has made it easier for England to impose financial and other burdens on us that would have been almost impossible prior to 1999. This has inevitably contributed to our decline.

In that article from the BBC Northern Ireland website that I used you read, regarding the Barnett Formula, the suggestion that, “a needs-based system – which would take into account factors such as the age of the population and levels of poverty – would be a fairer formula.”

This would definitely help us in Wales because our population is older than those in the other administrations, and ageing faster. The percentage of our population in the 65+ bracket in 2008 was 21.4%, while in Northern Ireland it was 16.7%, England 19.1%, and Scotland 19.7%.

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A major reason for the high proportion of elderly people in the Welsh population is the large numbers of English people retiring to Wales. And this influx inevitably increases the burden on our NHS and other services.

In some areas a majority of the over 65s was born in England. Here’s a table I compiled a while back using figures gleaned from the 2011 census. In 2011 only 68.8% of the 65+ age group in Wales was actually born here.

In Conwy only 37.1% of the over 65s were born in Wales. That’s a staggering statistic.

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This should be a cause for concern, because every western country worries about the ‘ticking timebomb’ of an ageing population, but don’t worry, because in Wales a rapidly ageing population is seen as a positive.

A letter I received from the Office of the First Minister assured me, “There are almost 800,000 people aged 60 and over in Wales, over a quarter of the population, and, in the next twenty years, this is expected to exceed one million people. The fact that Wales is a nation of older people should be seen as something positive”.

So there you have it, here in Wales we’ve found the right wire to snip in order to de-activate the demographic time-bomb. So why aren’t economists, health professionals and others flocking here from around the world to learn from us? Because it’s all bullshit, that’s why.

And there’s another reason for lying, because to prop up the NHS and related services education and all sorts of other budgets have to be raided. One organisation suffering badly is Natural Resources Wales, which looks after our forests, rivers and other assets.

From £139m in 2013/2014 the ‘Welsh’ Government grant to NRW will fall to £65m in 2019/20. Falling by more than half in six years, in a country supposedly dedicated to protecting the natural environment (if only to attract tourists).

Of course people were retiring to Wales long before we had devolution, but if health services were not devolved then we would almost certainly have seen an increase in funding, but with devolution and the block grant the attitude is, ‘You’ve had your money, it’s up to you how you allocate it’.

This is just one of the ways in which devolution allows England to dump on Wales, but there are many others, which I shall deal with soon.

THE POLITICAL CLASS

As we’ve seen, Labour blames the Conservative government in London for all our ills, and conveniently ignores the fact that it was in power in the UK until 2010 and could have reformed the Barnett Formula. But Labour prefers to exploit Welsh poverty by blaming the Tories for causing it in order to maintain Labour’s hold on Wales.

Plaid Cymru’s position is marginally less discreditable, but in attacking them wicked Tories up in London too many in Plaid tend to forget who runs the administration nearer home. For them, perceptions of ideological solidarity with Labour blur the reality.

Giving us two parties for which what’s best for Wales will always take second place to (for Labour) hanging onto power, and (for Plaid) being a peripheral part of some UK leftist-‘progressive’ front.

On the other side, the Tories turn up to slag off the left and carry tales to their bosses in London for them to use in order to warn English voters of the perils of voting Labour. Former prime minister David Cameron even described the Wales-England border as the “line between life and death” due to the state of the NHS in Wales.

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But Cameron was right, the Welsh NHS is crumbling, and it’s partly due to the influx of elderly English, most of them Tory voters, but he’s not going to admit that, is he?

So we see that the Tories also exploit Wales’ poverty for electoral gain. Great system, eh! – ‘Let’s keep Wales poor so both the main English parties can use it to their advantage’.

We’ve seen that Labour’s response to Wales’ plight is not to reform the Barnett Formula, not to fight the invasion of the blue rinses, not to stand up for Wales in any way. So how does Labour respond?

Well, in addition to blaming everything on them wicked Tories, Labour sets up one organisation after another to ‘combat poverty’, or ‘deprivation’, or ‘discrimination’, or homelessness, or whatever else third sector shysters can persuade civil servants and politicians needs to be combated.

For Labour, the advantage is that those who make up the third sector tend to be on the luvvie left, which makes them natural Labour sympathisers; while the bloated third sector these parasites create also provides opportunities for ‘Welsh’ Labour to practice the patronage and cronyism for which it is rightly famed. Which gives Wales a third sector providing sinecures for both those who could smell the money from afar and failed local politicians and loyal hangers-on.

Labour also responds with gimmicks, especially gimmicks designed to gain favourable reporting in the friendly English media. One that made big news was of course free prescriptions back in 2007. Scotland and Northern Ireland followed suit . . . but not England, where the charge is now £8.60 per item.

Inevitably, this has resulted in a movement of people from England to Wales to take advantage of our generosity, people with long-term medical conditions, which further increase the burden on our NHS. Something that, again, would have been impossible without devolution.

But to talk of such things would make us ‘uncaring’, or ‘selfish’, heinous crimes in a country as rich as Wales.

THE POVERTY SECTOR

I’ve written many times about Registered Social Landlords, more usually known as housing associations, and so I don’t propose to go into any great depth here, suffice it to say that we have a system of social housing so mismanaged and damaging to Welsh interests that it could only have been developed with objectives other than providing good rented accommodation for Welsh people.

For a start, our social housing is – despite ‘devolution’ – part of an Englandandwales system that, through the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, awards priority status to English criminals, drug addicts, problems families and others. To the extent that social housing, especially in some rural towns, is now often referred to as ‘anti-social housing’ due to the problems it imports.

To make matters worse, there is now an ‘arms race’ under way as it becomes obvious that we have too many social housing providers and the number must be reduced. So all manner of ill-considered and irresponsible ‘agreements’ are being entered into with probation companies and other English or cross-border agencies.

Also, in this era of ‘consolidation’, we see Labour blatantly backing housing associations controlled by its supporters – RSLs such as Wales & West, Pobl Group – to expand and take over housing bodies concerned with providing a decent service rather than with spreading ‘Welsh’ Labour influence.

Closely linked with social housing is the ‘homelessness’ racket, that ships in homeless people from England and elsewhere in order to increase the problem of ‘Welsh’ homelessness and guarantee funding increases for third sector bodies, due to another ‘arms race’ under way here.

A letter I recently received from the ‘Welsh’ Government told me there are 48 homelessness agencies operating in Wales and being funded by the WG (though the figure given for the amount of funding involved was wildly – and I hope not deliberately – misleading). This is obviously a ludicrous and unsustainable number and so I can guarantee a cull.

To give specific examples we’ll go to the website of the Wallich, one of the big boys in the homelessness industry with an income for year ended 31 March 2017 of almost £13m, £7.8m of which went on salaries, but still left £2.8m for investments, £938,478 of it in ‘overseas equities’. (Read the accounts for yourselves.)

Here are some Wallich case studies: First, Anthony, who (we are asked to believe) got on the wrong train in Devon and arrived in Cardiff. Then there’s Peter, who (of his own volition, honest) moved from Birmingham to Swansea. Finally, there’s Kerry, a victim of domestic violence with a drink problem herself who made the move from Northern Ireland to Wales, presumably because there were no nearer refuges.

‘Support that Helps’ to provide lots of cushy jobs, overseas investments, and of course, funding to look after many of England’s homeless.

Another major player in the homelessness business is Llamau which is currently reminding us that if you want to stay afloat in a cut-throat market then you’ve got to be innovative, find yourself a niche, get celebs on board. Which is what they believe they’ve done by focusing on homelessness among young people. (Apparently the other 47 homelessness outfits are turning youngsters away!)

And of course, you’ve also got to use the media, something the third sector is very good at, with newspaper articles and a television series. Until quite recently the chair of the Llamau board was Angela Gascoigne, who represents the trans-Severn future planned for our south east.

She has strong links with housing and ex-offender bodies in England, she’s also on the board of the Wales Probation Trust (part of an Englandandwales set-up), and here we find her with Llamau, a body that has suddenly discovered there’s money to be made from housing homeless youngsters.

I assure you, Gasgoigne’s CV dovetailing so perfectly with Llamau’s latest scam scheme is not accidental, for Gascoigne’s English connections provide many of Llamau’s clients.

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Another lesson from Llamau is that if you want to rip off the Welsh public purse, but throw the locals off the scent, choose a Welsh name you can’t properly pronounce while stuffing the board and senior management with your English friends.

There are just too many other examples of how Wales is put upon, how our funding is stolen, for me to deal with them all, but here’s one final example that would be impossible to inflict on Wales without devolution.

I’ve told you that the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 guarantees homeless people and others with no Welsh connections priority treatment, and this explains both the funding wasted by housing associations and the plethora of homelessness organisations currently plaguing Wales. If they don’t ship them in themselves then both encourage homeless people and others to turn up in Wales and demand to be housed.

But in some areas the legislation is so specific that it’s quite striking. For example, if we go to 70 (1) (i) we read that Wales must also give priority to homeless ex-service personnel, but why doesn’t the comparable English legislation make the same demands of English social housing providers? Don’t you find that odd?

One doesn’t need to be ‘uncaring’, or even ‘callous’, to realise that homeless ex-service personnel in England are now being directed to Wales. And that 70 (1) (i) was a deliberate insertion into what is supposed to be Welsh legislation . . . which means it couldn’t have been done without devolution.

And it will of course cost the Welsh public purse a great deal of money. So how the hell did this little sub-clause appear in ‘Welsh’ legislation?

CONCLUSION

I hope I’ve lived up to the promise I made in the Introduction and explained why devolution has been disastrous for Wales, and why things can only get worse.

Only a liar or a fool will argue that devolution delivers for Wales and that we should stick with it, ‘make it work’. It is designed not to work . . . not for Wales, anyway. It’s clear that ‘Welsh’ devolution works better for England than it does for Wales. Labour and its third sector guarantee that.

Which is why I say in the Introduction that if we want to avoid Wales becoming a third world country for our people then we have only two alternatives: either we choose to officially and constitutionally become a part of England, or we push for independence.

If you agree with me that independence is the only acceptable route for anyone who truly cares about Wales, anyone with an ounce of patriotism, then you must also accept that no political party we have today is capable of delivering independence. It’s questionable if any of the parties we know today even wants independence.

Fortunately a new party was recently formed that will argue for Welsh interests to be given priority, for Welsh needs to be met, for Wales to aspire to prosperity and independence rather than virtue signalling poverty.

This new party is Wales’ only hope; perhaps our last hope. The choice is yours, but I urge you to get involved and play your part. Start now by clicking here to register your interest.

Unless of course you’re content with Wales remaining Labour’s poverty-stricken fiefdom and England’s dumped-on colony, where the only growth industry is the third sector, which maintains Labour’s control and facilitates England’s exploitation.

Personally, I think our people deserve better. And I know we can do better – if we give ourselves the chance.

Independence!

♦ end ♦

Nov 272017
 

I apologise for this post being a bit long, over 3,000 words; but it’s in four separate and distinct parts, plus a Conclusion. So you can enjoy it one section at a time.

~~~

THE ‘BEDSIT BARON’ OF PEMBROKE DOCK

Pembroke Dock is one of those towns that most people drive past or don’t visit. I suppose if Pembroke, a mile or two inland, had grown as some had hoped, then the Dock might have played Piraeus to Pembroke’s Athens, but fate decreed otherwise.

Even so, Pembroke Dock does make the news, but usually for the wrong reasons. For it is a town in decline, having more in common with Valleys communities than with other Pembrokeshire settlements like Narberth or St David’s.

This decline should have been evident to anyone who read my recent piece Publicly-funded Poverty (under the section heading, ‘The Publicly-funded Private Sector’), where I discussed the fate of the old Coronation School.

You won’t be surprised to learn that this building made the news again last week, as the report below from the Pembrokeshire Herald tells us.

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It would be bad enough if this report about properties owned by that ‘Baron of the Bedsits’, Cathal McCosker, was simply reporting dumped garbage attracting rats, but we have to remember that McCosker received hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to ‘renovate’ these properties. And he’s received hundreds of thousands more in housing benefit.

Money that many people want to see accounted for. All the while the ‘Welsh’ Government does nothing, in order to protect its European funding office (WEFO) from the scrutiny that would expose it as one of those around whom Mr McCosker danced rings, unless of course there was complicity.

Not only does McCosker make a fortune from renting properties that were, basically, given to him (with money on top), he further increases his income from those properties by acting as his own letting agent through his company e-Lettings.

That we know so much about McCosker and the manifest ‘failings’ at both county and national level is due in no small part to two blogging councillors; Jacob Williams and Mike Stoddart, the latter blogging as ‘Old Grumpy‘.

In a recent post, ‘Unknown quantities’, Stoddart dealt with data and statistics telling us that almost everyone housed by Pembrokeshire council was ‘local’. Though I’m not sure if the table below applies only to council lettings or also to those of housing associations.

Given the numbers I would guess the figures represent the ‘shared register’.

courtesy of ‘Old Grumpy’ click to enlarge

Either way, the table gives us an insight into the connection between the likes of Cathal McCosker and social housing providers (because of course the figures for ‘no local connection’ are nonsense). This link is found across Wales with private landlords great and small enjoying close working relationships with council housing departments and housing associations.

This is how it works, and how it benefits everyone . . . except of course, you and me.

If a tenant can stick it out in some grotty flat or bedsit, with drunks, paedophiles, thugs, people threatening to jump out of windows, and gets on nodding terms with the local rodent population, then after a year – and perhaps the wave of a wand – he or she is transmogrified into a ‘local’, and because they are locals in unsuitable accommodation they simultaneously soar to the top of the list for nice new social housing.

This system ensures a steady supply of tenants from outside of Wales for unscrupulous private landlords like Cathal McCosker. Some will find their own way but most are directed to places like Coronation School through many private landlords having a relationship with social services departments, probation companies and other agencies in England.

This system also guarantees a steady supply of tenants for housing associations and councils (though few councils have social housing responsibilities any longer). This is important, because with the ever-present threat of being gobbled up by a predator, or the risk of public funding being cut, housing associations like to be seen to be busy, and if this can be achieved by housing the former tenants of Cathal McCosker and hundreds like him, then so be it.

Just think about that for a minute. Or better still, think what the response might be if you tried to explain this system to someone who doesn’t know Wales.

‘So let me get this straight: you pay private landlords huge sums to bring in problem tenants from England, people that you know in advance will cost you more money by being a burden on your police forces, your health service and other facilities; then you spend yet more money buying or building social housing for these people – are you insane! Do you have money to burn?’

The only people who speak in defence of this system are those who prosper from it and those who view social housing as another tool to be used in colonising and Anglicising Wales.

A five-year residency qualification for social housing must be introduced.

We also need legislation to ensure that some scrubber from Wolverhampton who’s made herself and her kids homeless does not become a priority case for Welsh social housing, as happens now . . . all too often.

Both measures would go a long way to restoring peace to our communities and also save Wales a lot of money.

LLANDOVERY YMCA

Another subject I’ve covered more than once is Llandovery YMCA, or whatever it intends calling itself now that the YMCA has told it to stop using the label.

You can catch up with earlier writings by starting with YMCA ‘Wales’, Another Trojan Horse at the Trough, then comes The Impoverishment of Wales (scroll down to YMCA Wales), followed by YMCA ‘Wales’ and the Green, Green PasturesAncestral Turf, which was in turn followed by News Roundup 24.03.2017 (scroll down to Llandovery YMCA), and finally YMCA England(andwales).

Until quite recently there was an organisation known as YMCA Wales run, it would appear, by a woman from Northern Ireland called Mo Sykes. In 2012 or 2013 (perhaps earlier) YMCA Wales began dealing with an English charity for the homeless known as Green Pastures, run by ‘Pastor’ Pete Cunningham.

This may have been an attempt to boost the flagging finances of YMCA Wales, for Mo Sykes is said to have been ruthless in screwing money out of local YMCA operations that often left them without funds. Whatever the money was used for it didn’t save YMCA Wales from administration in 2014, after which it was taken over by YMCA England, with the major asset, the Newgale Outdoor Education Centre in Pembrokeshire, being sold in 2015 for £507,000.

Around the same time it was being reported that Mo Sykes had left in rather a hurry. Which probably explains why her publicly available Linkedin profile goes back no further than 2014.

courtesy of ‘Third Sector’

During her time at the helm of YMCA Wales (or maybe down in the bilges scuppering the ship) Mo Sykes formed a relationship with another recent arrival with a nose for easy money, a certain Gill Tatman of Llandovery YMCA.

More information on Gill Tatman and those grouped around her can be found in videos someone with a sense of humour saw fit to upload onto YouTube. You’ll find them in the posts I’ve linked to above.

By some route Tatman had come into possession of Llandovery YMCA, which had chugged along for years but was now about to take off as a ‘hub’, open to all manner of groups, from the local marrow growers (third Wednesday of every month) to the Teifi Valley branch of the Taliban (every Friday after prayers and the ritual stoning of the smokers outside the Kings Head on the way from the mosque).

Whatever function it may have purported to serve Llandovery YMCA’s real purpose was to provide a salary and a pension for Jill Tatman, and a place where her cronies could delude themselves they were doing something useful; you know, ‘contributing’.

Click to enlarge. Though a trustee – and I speak from experience – should not be paid.

But things started to go wrong last year, and led the National (Englandandwales) Association of YMCAs to remove Llandovery from its list of registered affiliates. This may or may not have been linked to Tatman’s husband being accused of having an unhealthy interest in children.

So it may have been coincidence that around the same time Carmarthenshire County Council removed the building from its list of approved youth clubs. As one former trustee was told, the council is “not supporting any provision within the old YMCA premises”.

And yet . . . Jill Tatman is still allowed to have children on the premises. It seems there’s a loophole she exploits by running an after school club open only two hours a day.

There are always loopholes, as Mr McCosker can testify, but what really surprised me was that Llandovery YMCA’s after school club is approved and advertised by an organisation called Clybiau Plant Cymru (Kids’ Clubs).

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Here’s more information about Clybiau Plant Cymru, which is registered with Companies House, where its latest accounts tell us it has an income of over a million pounds a year, more than 30 employees, and its biggest funder is the ‘Welsh’ Government through its Children and Families Delivery Grant.

Seeing as Tatman’s little empire has been disowned by the YMCA, blacklisted by Carmarthenshire Council, shunned by all except the most desperate local parents, why is the ‘Welsh’ Government giving it a seal of approval through Clybiau Plant Cymru?

UPDATE 02.12.2016: I’m grateful to a source for directing me to this. The photo used is old, the kids are now adults, and they go nowhere near the ‘YMCA’. For those wondering what it’s all about, this is a scheme for Co-op customers to donate money to a favourite local charity (the wife and I give to our village hall).

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SWANSEA TROTS

For a few years recently Swansea council had a bad dose of the Trots, in the form of Anglo-Austrian duo Bob and Uta Clay. Both now departed to pastures new, and unknown. Though given his friendship with Comrade Corbyn it was assumed by many that they were going to work for the great man.

For those seeking more information on this fascinating duo who washed up in Swansea on one tide and were gone with the next, I suggest you type ‘Bob Clay’ into the search box, whereupon you will be presented with a cornucopia of reports of Swansea Labour Party intrigue and dirty doings.

Now I hear from the city of my dreams that in the post-Clay era the Trotskyite banner has been taken up by Louise Gibbard, a Dunvant councillor. It has been unkindly suggested that not only does Gibbard share the politics of the departed Uta but also her hairdresser. (What a cad you are!)

It is further rumoured that the Trots – i.e. Momentum – are building a power base through community councils, school governors’ boards, union branches and anything else they can use ahead of an assault on reactionary and bourgeois elements within the party.

A number of MPs, AMs and councillors in the Swansea area are said to be targeted, with pride of place on Gibbard’s saddle reserved for the head of Swansea West MP Geraint Davies.

The Clays were, if only briefly, councillors for the Llansamlet ward on the east side of the river, across from Morriston, not that they knew anything about the area, its history, or its people. One of those who replaced them in Llansamlet in the May elections was Mo Sykes. Yes, the same Mo Sykes we encountered in Llandovery! Small world, innit!

But never mind her ignorance of the area, all that matters is keeping Labour in power.

Never forget that.

HIRED BULLIES

Back in March 2015 the ‘Welsh’ Government passed one of its regular ‘Aren’t we wonderful’ pieces of legislation designed to please Guardian readers and assorted lobbies on the left, while doing little or nothing for Wales.

This particular legislation was called the Violence Against Women Bill. It received Royal Assent on 29 April 2015.

In the period leading up to the vote in the Cynulliad there were persistent rumours of pressure being applied by Labour Party loyalists on women’s groups that wanted changes to the legislation. It’s covered fairly well in this WalesOnline report.

An ad hoc grouping central to the allegations was the Wales Violence Against Women Action Group, made up of various charities and third sector bodies. Scroll down to the foot of the page I’ve linked to and you’ll see the organisations belonging to WVAWAG.

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Among them is, top left, Bawso (formerly, Black Association of Women Step Out). In the accounts for the year covering the run-up to the vote in the Assembly Bawso received close on £1.5m from the ‘Welsh’ Government, with further amounts from various Labour-controlled local authorities taking the figure close to two million pounds.

Total donations – including public funding – came to £2,765,954. Rental income was £429,710, with room hire and bank interest taking us up to a total income for the year of £3,211,182. As is always the case in the third sector, salaries and pensions accounted for over two-thirds of that with £2,113,106

Running Bawso we find Mutale Merrill, formerly Rose Mutale Nyoni a native of Zambia. Among other companies with which Nyoni-Merrill is involved are Bawso Training and Interpretive Services Ltd, the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel (another recipient of ‘Welsh’ Government funding), Welsh Women’s Aid (a major recipient of ‘Welsh’ Government funding), Icreatefilms Ltd and Abesu Ltd.

Her husband is Travers Merrill, and if the name sounds familiar, well, wouldn’t you know it! – he has also graced these pages before. Here he is in Welsh Poverty and ‘Welsh’ Labour’s Third Sector Money Pit, just scroll down until you come to his picture.

Travers’ claim to fame is his involvement with Rhondda Life. Though he’d rather people forgot about it.

By now you’re probably asking yourself, ‘Why is Jac giving us this history lesson?’ Well, let’s start with the fact that as a reward for silencing Labour’s critics over the Violence Against Women Bill Nyoni-Merrill was rewarded by being appointed chair of the Board of Community Health Councils in Wales.

A post in which she continued to stifle anything that might embarrass those who had been so generous to her and her hubby. Perhaps most obviously by stopping the chief executive of the Board giving interviews, on the instructions, it was alleged, of a ‘Welsh’ Government minister.

Mutale Nyoni-Merrill made the news again this week in similar circumstances, to wit, stifling criticism of the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government. Coincidence?

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I think not. In Rose Mutale Nyoni-Merrill OBE (yes, inevitably, she has received an ‘honour’) we have a third sector operator of the first order. She came to Wales and soon realised that there was a quick way to easy money – join the Labour Party, form some third sector organisations Wales doesn’t need, and then just keep applying for public funding.

Having sold her soul to the Labour Party she was their creature, to do the party’s bidding. This meant being elevated to posts for which she might not have been qualified or suited, but that didn’t matter, for she wasn’t given these posts to serve the public interest but to serve the Labour Party. A role we know she has fulfilled on many occasions.

The report I’ve linked to above about the Community Health Councils is dated November 26. The following day Mutale Nyoni-Merrill resigned from Welsh Women’s Aid. Or was she pushed? Is she finally becoming too much of an embarrassment?

click to enlarge

I think that from Labour’s perspective she is now damaged goods. It will be interesting to see which pasture is found for her retirement.

The irony will not be lost on readers that here we have a woman who has – for public consumption – been a staunch campaigner against bullying; and yet, that’s exactly what she is, a bully! Which is why she fits so perfectly into the culture of ‘Welsh’ Labour.

I recall being told about her back in 2012 by an employee, of how public funds given to Bawso were being spent on private purchases; and how husband, Travers, with no connection to Bawso, would avail himself of that outfit’s publicly-funded equipment and facilities for his own business.

There were even more serious allegations, and names, that I had better not mention . . . yet.

CONCLUSION

Wales is corrupt, we know that, and the source of the corruption is almost always the local branch of the UK Labour Party.

And it’s not just us that see it. Knowledge of the system has spread well beyond our borders. Just look at those I’ve dealt with here, all of them – McCosker, Tatman, Sykes, Mutale Nyoni, Travers Merrill – came to Wales because they heard there was easy money to be made.

Another example is provided by Llamau (currently receiving a splurge of free publicity in Llais y Sais). From 1999, once it was realised that a pliable and profligate ‘Welsh’ Labour government was in place, third sector shysters flocked to Wales, and among the first were those who took over the obscure John Rowley Trust in Barry and turned it into Llamau.

Llamau now has an annual income of more than ten million pounds, and of course, most of that goes on salaries.

click to enlarge

Where it has little political support Labour exercises influence through other agencies reliant on it for funding: higher education establishments, third sector bodies, housing associations (Wales & West being the most blatant), while in Plaid Cymru’s Gwynedd heartland Labour works through bodies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and funding agency Mantell Gwynedd.

And all done, not for the benefit of Wales, or local communities, but to extend and entrench the power of the Labour Party.

The Wales Council for Voluntary Action – which describes itself as the “portal” to the third sector – serves as a government department in all but name, but it belongs to a political party not the state, and is answerable – as we have seen with Mutale Nyoni-Merrill – to none but that party.

This is how a one-party state operates. And like all dictatorships the economy suffers.

Wales is now burdened with a class of parasites that can influence political decision-making. This means that the third sector dreams up an endless stream of ‘schemes’, ‘projects’ and ‘initiatives’, plus new organisations, that have only one purpose – to feather-bed useless fuckers we wouldn’t miss if they were all abducted tomorrow by aliens.

To keep this parasitical class in the style to which it has become accustomed so that it may serve the political interests of the Labour Party means draining the Welsh public purse.

Which results in them getting richer while Wales gets poorer. This presents another irony, for these bastards, with their countless competing and duplicating organisations are supposed to be alleviating poverty, but they are in fact making Wales poorer!

I leave you with this thought: A more prosperous Wales is possible, but not with an overblown third sector beholden to a political party that relies on poverty and deprivation for its political support.

Time to wake up!

♦ end ♦

Nov 122017
 

THE PUBLICLY-FUNDED THIRD SECTOR

HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS

In my previous post, Anti-Welsh Housing Associations, I told you about Wales & West Housing’s irresponsible behaviour in Lampeter, part of a more widespread problem of housing associations chasing the money by housing criminals, which is much more lucrative than putting roofs over the heads of locals.

Of course they argue that there’s a dreadful shortage of accommodation for ‘vulnerable’ people, and of course they’re right – England doesn’t have enough accommodation. Which is why Wales, through its housing associations and other third sector bodies, is currently taking in so many problems.

And yet, while housing associations and others receive premium payments from whoever supplied their new tenants, plus housing benefit and other goodies, there is an obvious downside.

I’m referring to the effect on formerly peaceful communities caused by the arrival of undesirables. But there’s also the extra work for the police and associated agencies. Though perhaps the biggest burden falls on the NHS and associated services, for most of those being moved to Wales by the route described will have ‘issues’ needing expensive treatment.

So while taking on these problems is good business for housing associations and others, the wider implications, and costs, for the country as a whole, more than outweigh the financial benefits accruing to the landlords. Which makes this behaviour selfish, short-sighted and socially irresponsible.

It can fairly be described as anti-social housing.

And of course it raises the question of why the ‘Welsh’ Government allows these bodies, all of which are in receipt of public funding, to behave in this manner.

But the problem isn’t confined to housing associations.

HOMELESSNESS

I have written many times about the overlapping, interweaving and competing homelessness organisations. I thought I knew most of them but someone just brought a new one to my attention. It’s called Emmaus UK and the business model centres on charity shops and workshops for the homeless.

Which means that the Emmaus model should be self-financing. Which is what Emmaus claims.

Its Welsh presence – at the moment, anyway – seems limited to Bridgend, where it appears to have started in 2011. The screen capture below is taken from the Charity Commission website, and it tells us that in 5 years the income has rocketed from £53,728 to £1,570,327. (Private companies would love to see growth like that!)

click to enlarge

When we look more closely at the accounts for the year ended 30 June 2016 we see that the biggest source of income is the ‘Welsh’ Government with a gift of £300,000, up from £200,000 the year before.

But why does a “self-supporting” organisation require any public funding? Especially as we can see it’s not needed, for despite having an income of £1,570,237 it only spent £886,832, which leaves a profit balance of £683,405.

Does Wales have no better use for that £500,000?

Apart from the Emmaus presence in Bridgend the Charity Commission website offers dozens of options for Emmaus operations in every corner of England. Curious to see how much funding these English operations get I checked out a few.

I looked at Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol and Tyneside, four major English cities/conurbations, where the problems of homelessness must be far greater than in Bridgend and Porthcawl. What I found surprised me. Emmaus in these areas operates with a third or less of the annual income of Emmaus in Bridgend – and there’s no public funding at all!

Moving north of the border, the income for Emmaus in Glasgow, where the charity has two shops, a workshop and a warehouse, was only £572,264 in 2016. So why does the Bridgend operation get so much money?

Another telling fact is that Emmaus spends twice as much per ‘companion’ in Bridgend as it does in England. Is Emmaus in Bridgend providing luxury accommodation? Or paying £25 an hour? Is the Welsh operation just inefficient? Or is public money so easy to come by in Wales that it’s being squandered?

Finally, the Emmaus UK housing unit in Bridgend was built on land provided by Valleys to Coast Housing Association. So not only is Emmaus UK receiving Welsh public funding, it also looks as if it was gifted publicly-owned land.

I began this section by saying that Emmaus was new to me, despite being familiar with many organisations claiming to be helping the homeless in Wales. As I don’t know how many there are I have submitted a FoI to the ‘Welsh’ Government. They must know how many homelessness organisations they’re funding . . . surely?

P.S. I know there are different criteria for assessing homelessness, and those ‘threatened with homelessness’, though I don’t like that second category because – rather like ‘jobs secured’ (as opposed to ‘jobs created’) – it’s open to misuse. Even so, I went the StatsWales website and checked the figures for rough sleepers.

You’ll see that the most recent figure for Bridgend tells us that the estimated number (right hand column) of rough sleepers is 10, with nary a single emergency bed. Whereas in Ceredigion there are no less than 30 emergency beds for an estimated 6 rough sleepers.

I suggest both figures tell us a lot about what really goes on in the ‘Welsh’ homelessness racket.

UPDATE 13.11.2017 – PARTNERSHIP?

It’s become clear to me over the years that there is some kind of co-operation between the ‘Welsh’ Government – or rather, the civil servants who operate in its name – and the various Lottery funds. Emmaus South Wales provides another example.

If we go to the Companies House entry we find under the ‘Charges’ tab two listings, both concern ‘Land and buildings at Nant Lais, Heol y Nant, Bridgend’. I should explain that Charges usually means mortgages, loans, or other forms of indebtedness. If you see too many marked ‘Outstanding’ it can be a cause for concern.

On the Emmaus entry we find one charge with the number 0718 8459 0001 for a mortgage entered into between The Welsh Ministers, as the ‘Mortgagee’ and Emmaus South Wales as the ‘Mortgagor’. This agreement is dated 7 August 2015.

The other Charge, number 0718 8459 0002, is between Emmaus, the ‘Grant Holder’ and the Big Lottery Fund as ‘The Fund’. This is not a mortgage but a grant of £425,000. (See below.) So why is it treated as something other than a straight gift? Because it comes with certain conditions; for example, if Emmaus turns the building into a massage parlour, or flogs it off to some Russians looking for indoor growing facilities, then the grant is forfeit. This agreement is also dated 7 August 2015.

In a sense, they complement or cancel each other.

From the Big Lottery Fund website. Click to enlarge

Here’s a scenario. The ‘Welsh’ Government wants to give this property to Emmaus but fears some malcontent finding out and kicking up a fuss, so they contact the Big Lottery Fund – ‘Oh, look, we’ve got this very worthy cause looking for money to buy something from us, so we’d like you to oblige with a grant’.

Maybe it’s done some other way, but I am in no doubt that there is a well-used system for the various Lottery funds to give money to projects recommended by the ‘Welsh’ Government. The ‘worthy cause’ gets what it wants, the ‘Welsh’ Government can appear prudent with public money, while from the Lottery’s standpoint, if things go tits up, they can say, ‘Ah! but the Welsh Government recommended these people’.

Everybody’s back is covered. Everybody’s a winner!

Except perhaps those communities, and those projects, that aren’t so well connected. Those worthy causes that spend months or years building up support, preparing their bid, only to be beaten by insider dealing such as I’m suggesting in Bridgend. Which of course, just happens to be Carwyn Jones’s constituency.

And if I’m right, then in their very short time in Wales Emmaus has received over one million pounds thanks to the ‘Welsh’ Government.

THE PUBLICLY-FUNDED PRIVATE SECTOR

Another net importer of criminals, paedophiles and others, plus many homeless, is of course the private rented sector – just think Rhyl! – where we find the same ugly combination of self-interest and lack of concern for the consequences of pursuing that self-interest.

A recent news item re-awakened my interest in events in Pembrokeshire. On the evening of November 7 there was a disturbance at a block of flats in Meyrick Street, Pembroke Dock, and it was reported that armed police officers had attended. The flats are in the former Coronation School.

I got to wondering who owns these flats, and so I went to the Land Registry website where I was presented with what appeared to be a long list of individual titles, and although I didn’t count them I assumed it was one for each flat.

I chose two at random, Flat 10 and Flat 31, which was unnecessary because they both have the same title number CYM402081. Why so many different entries for the same title number? Was the intention to sell off the flats individually?

Both title documents say the building was bought by Cathal Eamonn McCosker for £200,000 with money that seems to have been borrowed from Barclays Bank. But others now having a claim on the property are Alexander and Rose Russell of Swindon and Pembrokeshire County Council.

It would appear that in order to meet his obligations Mr McCosker has tried to sell the building. First, at auction on Thursday 27 April 2017 with a guide price of £1.3m. This obviously failed because it was marked “withdrawn by agent”, and then put up for auction again on 08 June 2017 with the guide price now reduced to £975,000. But as we know from the Land Registry, it is still owned by Mr McCosker and his creditors.

With Cathal Eamonn McCosker we have one of the more intriguing stories to emerge from Pembrokeshire in recent times. Despite the widespread assumption that he’s Irish, on the Companies House website he describes himself as British, and gives an address in Oxford.

So what’s the story?

Basically, McCosker stands accused of receiving funding for projects in Pembroke Dock for work that was never done. This scam may have been conducted with the connivance of senior council officials and even a councillor or two. If they weren’t in on the scam then they’re now trying to draw a veil over the whole affair in the hope of saving face.

A number of people have followed the case over the years, including two councillor-bloggers. A good start would be with Councillor Jacob Williams’ Trumped-up charges – Part 4. While another excellent source is Councillor Mike Stoddart, and his Strange business.

I believe I’m right in saying that the Woodward and Bernstein of the Kremlin on the Cleddau actually unearthed the McCosker scandal.

McCosker has appeared on this blog after he cropped up a couple of years ago in a newspaper story about the vast amounts of money being paid in housing benefit to private landlords. I wrote about it in To Those That Have Shall Be Given – Housing Benefit!

McCosker was quoted as receiving £236,834 in housing benefits for his Pembrokeshire properties, with a further £35,248 paid through his E-Lettings company, which he used for the Coronation School flats. A local journalist tells me that this money was being paid into a bank account in the Irish Republic, which raises questions about taxation.

The Coronation School seems to target young people leaving care, many from ‘away’; vulnerable, mainly uneducated young people, many of them with ‘issues’. Conditions in the old school building are said to be primitive, which if true will of course qualify the tenants for social housing.

CONCLUSION

In an earlier post I referred to a system of human trafficking in Wales, a system run by selfish and unscrupulous individuals and organisations that brings into our country people needing expensive help or simply criminals and undesirables that no one else wants.

Which would be bad enough in itself, but we are paying for this. The public money of a poor country is being spent on problems that should not be ours. We are effectively paying to make our communities, like Lampeter and Pembroke Dock, less happy, less safe, and all done in order that Wales & West Housing can expand, or Cathal Eamonn McCosker can get even richer.

This system of bringing another country’s problems into Wales exposes a number of issues.

First, it tells us that we have a third sector that has become bloated due to over-feeding, and because of its size it now wields a malevolent influence on the ‘Welsh’ Government and the civil servants who actually run Wales. This influence damages other sectors that we should be encouraging . . . you know, things like real businesses, that might create real jobs, and increase Wales’ wealth . . . without wrecking Welsh communities

‘Nah, we don’t want none of that nasty prosperity round by ‘ere’.

But then there’s the issue of corruption in Welsh public life, at all levels. Who in their right mind believes it’s a good idea to give hundreds of thousands of pounds to Emmaus, a supposedly self-sufficient organisation?

And why is the investigation into the corruption centred on Cathal Eamonn McCosker stalled? Is it because too many people at both Pembrokeshire County Council and the ‘Welsh’ Government are involved? For the money used to enrich McCosker was EU funding, administered by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO).

While writing this I’ve been drawn to three recent posts about Carmarthenshire. The first, was by Siân Caiach, then there was the latest from Jacqui Thompson, and finally, another gem from my favourite blogger, Y Cneifiwr. They all prompt the same question – what other democracy would allow Mark Vincent James (OBE) to ruin so many lives and run Carmarthenshire County Council like a medieval barony?

It doesn’t have to be like this. But everything you see around you is part of the problem, and so can never be part of the solution. Radical change is needed. Wales will soon be offered the hope of change. Be ready!

♦ end ♦

 

Nov 072017
 

TO RECAP . . .

I have written many times about social housing in Wales, and of the many problems created by the more irresponsible housing associations. Here are just a few of the problems:

  • Unlike in Scotland, social housing providers in Wales are tied into an Englandandwales system. This results in our housing associations having to give priority treatment to people with no Welsh connections.
  • Many of those being housed by these routes will be ‘problem families’, or young tearaways, they might be drug and alcohol abusers, or they’ll be recently released from prison. These issues will inevitably place a burden on our health service and other facilities while also affecting the quality of life in many Welsh communities.
  • Wales has an ageing population. In a decade or so Wales will be the ‘oldest’ country in western Europe. This also places a strain on our NHS and other services which results in money being taken from education and other budgets. Yet many housing associations, particularly in the north, are using public funding to build housing for the elderly and the infirm brought in from outside of Wales.
  • Despite the recommendations of the Notional Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee social housing providers are still diversifying through unaccountable subsidiaries. This results, for example, in the insane situation in Pembrokeshire where The Pembrokeshire Housing Association is passing public money to its subsidiary, Mill Bay Homes for MBH to build houses for sale on the open market!
  • Many Welsh housing associations lease or rent properties from companies based in tax havens. I explored this connection in Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd. Yet no one in the ‘Welsh’ Government seems to care that Welsh social housing tenants could be living in properties owned by the Mafia, or ISIS.
  • Housing associations form secretive and costly links with Third Sector and other bodies. Some of these links are of questionable legality, of dubious benefit to Wales, but always costly to the Welsh public purse.
  • And that, perhaps, is the biggest worry of all. That no one with responsibility for overseeing social housing bodies, no one who funds them with hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, seems to care how they operate. It’s left to self-evaluation and self-appraisal – box-ticking exercises which of course never find any problems. So everybody’s happy!

NEWS FROM THE NORTH

A taste for what follows may be obtained from the post Bits & Pieces of September 30th. Now here’s the latest:

Paul Diggory, the Chester-based former boss of ailing North Wales Housing, is now promoting himself – something he’s very good at – as a ‘housing and social enterprise freelance‘, which fits in nicely with his role as chair of the Chartered Institute of Housing in Wales.

Diggory gives us one of the two qualifications needed to run a Welsh housing association: either be English like him and the CEOs recently appointed to Valleys to Coast, Bron Afon and Hendre; or else have good links with the Labour Party, which accounts for the appointments of both Trivallis’ new £150,000 a year CEO and the new Board chair, Tracy Myhills, previously CEO at the Welsh Ambulance Trust. (How’d you like that on your CV!)

It should go without saying that if you’re English and a member or supporter of the Labour Party then you get to take your pick of which housing association you’d like to run. Being English but supporting some other party would be acceptable, but if you’re non-Labour Welsh, forget it.

This is how a one-party state operates.

Staying in the north for a minute . . . Not so long ago Labour’s most favoured housing association, Wales & West, built a big new office building in Ewloe, Flintshire, very close to the border.

Courtesy of Google, click to enlarge

Many thought at the time that a Cardiff-based housing association might be over-extending itself with this office block, but no, for since then W&W has not only swallowed up Cantref of Castell Newydd Emlyn, and branched out into Ceredigion, but is also hovering, vulture-like, over ailing HAs across the land.

One housing association viewed as sickly and about to fall is Pennaf. The Pennaf Group is based in Llanelwy (St Asaph) and includes the Clwyd Alyn housing association and Offa, a lettings and management service. A northern source tells me that a couple of factors may be contributing to make Pennaf look a tasty dish.

First, CEO Graham Worthington – also based in Chester! – has just announced his retirement; plus, it seems that Pennaf has been tardy in bringing its 4,500 properties up to Welsh Housing Quality Standard, something it should have done by 2012.

The reason for Pennaf finding itself in this parlous position is I’m told due to spending too much time and money building care and residential homes – i.e. using Welsh public funding to bring in more retirees, so as to put extra strain on the NHS and social services that will result in education and other budgets being raided.

Only in Wales!

WALES & WEST WAY OUT WEST AND WAY OUT OF LINE

I’ve just mentioned that Wales & West snaffled up Cantref of Castell Newydd Emlyn, which operated mainly in Ceredigion, but W&W is also branching out in other ways.

When the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government handed Cantref over to Wales and West part of the dowry was valuable land at Plas Morolwg in Aberystwyth, overlooking the marina and with nice views out to sea. That site is now earmarked for 60 extra care flats. It’s doubtful if Ceredigion needs this development, certainly, it’s suggested that if it goes ahead it will jeopardise Mid Wales Housing’s Cylch Caron project in Tregaron.

But things are never that simple in Ceredigion.

Ceredigion council’s leader, Ellen ap Gwynn of Plaid Cymru, is under intense pressure over the closure of the Bodlondeb care home in Aberystwyth. Motivated by nothing more than a deep and heartfelt concern for the old biddies therein Labour and Lib Dems have taken to protesting against the closure, even recruiting that one-boy rent-a-mob and self-promoting little shite, Owen Jones.

It is further suggested that certain council officials such as strategy officers and planners who – how can I put this? – whose first spoonful might not have been puréed laverbread, are bending over backwards to help an anti-Welsh organisation like Wales & West.

An unholy alliance of Plaid Cymru and Welsh-haters.

Let’s now turn our attention to Lampeter, where Wales and West is very active, and plans yet more expansion. What follows is information for which I offer thanks to someone obviously well-informed about council business.

To begin with, there are widespread concerns in Lampeter that Wales & West is failing to evict its drug-dealing tenants in Bryn Road and North Road. But things are almost certainly going to get worse, for W&W is said to be in the process of buying the old Ffynnonbedr school building in order to build yet more flats in an area of low need. So Lampeter can expect more drug addicts to arrive. Lucky Lampeter!

UPDATE 08.11.2017: A pre-planning consultation notice appeared on the door of the old Ffynnonbedr school today. The architect Geraint John of Cardiff is making the planning statement/application in the name of Hacer Developments of Swansea.

This document – at 5.5 and 5.6 – makes great play of an agreement between Ceredigion council and Cantref in the early part of 2016 and seems to suggest that Cantref is the client. But of course Cantref was taken over by Wales & West over a year ago, but I can find no mention of Wales & West. Understandable given the drug dealers and others W&W has already brought into the town.

As if that wasn’t worrying enough for the good people of Lambed, I hear from a former weekend soldier that the old Territorial Army building – also on Bryn Road – is up for sale, and word is that W&W want to buy this as well. But I bet you’d guessed that already!

I’ve mentioned that Wales & West refuses to evict its lucrative drug-dealing tenants in Lampeter, and for this it has been congratulated by fellow Labour Party members in Shelter Cymru. Mutual back-scratching among Labour-run Third Sector bodies is so prevalent and blatant that they even try to make a virtue of it.

click to enlarge

Elsewhere the tale of evictions is different. For back in Aberystwyth, mainly local 16- and 17-year-olds are being evicted from Wales & West’s Tŷ Curig hostel  . . . to make way for new ‘guests’. Most of these replacements will arrive burdened with ‘issues’, but it is these very ‘issues’ that will allow W&W to charge a hefty fee for housing them – leaving the rest of us to pick up the bill.

Before leaving Wales & West for a moment I should also point out that the new office building wasn’t restricted to Ewloe, for there’s also the new HQ in Cardiff. This too may be in anticipation of expansion, with one of the potential victims rumoured to be Cardiff Community Housing Association, where CEO Kevin Protheroe is about to retire.

WHY DO I SAY ‘ANTI-WELSH’?

I try to be careful in using the right word, and that’s why I have no hesitation in describing Wales & West Housing – and others I’ll soon mention – as anti-Welsh.

Non-Welsh or un-Welsh might imply someone or something having nothing to do with Wales; it might suggest ignorance of Wales’ distinctiveness, possibly ambivalence; but by using anti-Welsh I mean awareness of the Welsh language, and other things that make Wales different, but deliberately seeking to denigrate and undermine them. This certainly applies to Wales & West, which is why I describe W&W as anti-Welsh.

Let’s start with the W&W website – it’s in English only. As is the website of another Labour-run housing association I’ve mentioned, Trivallis (formerly RCT Homes). This is no accident, for when it comes to the Welsh language most Labour Party members and supporters agree with Neil Kinnock rather than with Carwyn Jones.

Other HAs – Bro Myrddin, for example – rely on Google Translate. The CEO at Bro Myrddin is Hilary Jones, said to be an ‘ally’ of W&W, who is rumoured to be taking an interest in Hafan Cymru, reported to be in serious trouble due to its over-reliance on the Supporting People programme and EU funding.

But the point is that all Registered Social Landlords are legally required to give equal status to both languages, and also to have a Welsh language scheme in place. But the Regulation Managers employed to enforce these requirements obviously aren’t up to the job (or maybe they too missed out on the puréed laverbread).

Or does the fault lie with those above them? I ask because this recent advertisement for a Regulation Manager bizarrely and confusingly talks of “capability to work in both English and Welsh” but then says that Welsh is “not necessary“!

click to enlarge

This seems to be a case of going through the motions: ‘Look, we’ve got to say this about the Welsh language . . . but in practice it doesn’t really mean anything‘.

A concrete example of Wales and West’s contempt for the Welsh language came recently with its advertisement for a Development Officer in Newcastle Emlyn, with the advertisement in English only and no requirement to speak Welsh in an area where Welsh is widely spoken. Welsh is certainly the majority language among the native Welsh.

This advertisement is not an oversight, nor is the absence of a Welsh website. This is flaunting power. This is a bunch of Labour bigots, with the ‘Welsh’ Government behind them saying, ‘Fuck you, and your language!

How will this attitude contribute to Carwyn Jones’ one million Welsh speakers by 2050?

IMAGE CONFLICTING WITH REALITY

We are encouraged to think of housing associations as streamlined, twenty-first century replacements for the old local authority housing departments, but doing a much better job. In fact, they have so little in common that any comparison is invalid.

To begin with, councils operate within defined geographical areas, whereas housing associations are spread all over the country competing with each other and duplicating each other’s work. Competition and duplication that places a wholly unnecessary burden on the public purse.

This has obviously been realised, and the problem is being addressed by encouraging those housing associations that are most ‘reliable’ from a Labour Party perspective – which also happen to be the least Welsh in staff and attitudes – to expand and take over the others. Which has two main results.

One, it increases Labour Party influence in areas of Wales where the party has no MPs or AMs. Two, it encourages instinctively anti-Welsh organisations to expand into areas where the Welsh language is strong. Good for the Labour Party but a disaster for the Welsh language and for Wales

Another difference is that local authority housing departments would never have struck deals with outside agencies to import someone else’s criminals, paedophiles, drug addicts, problem families, etc. The reason being that councils had that link with their patch, that commitment to their people, and of course councillors needed to be re-elected. With housing associations such considerations and restraints are absent.

For housing associations are distant bodies, answerable to nobody, and can do what they damn well like. And because there’s little profit to be made from housing decent, law-abiding locals, but lots of money available if they inflict problems on small Welsh towns like Lampeter, that’s the model they follow.

A good source of income for many ‘Welsh’ housing associations

And while there are healthy profits for Wales & West and others from importing undesirables, once here they place an inevitable burden on local health and other services, and police resources, while causing misery and disruption to Welsh communities. In a different category, but having a similar effect on the Welsh public purse, are the retirees being brought into Wales, and this is no longer confined to the Costa Geriatrica.

All of which results in the Welsh public purse, which funds W&W and the rest of them, losing out again, and again, and again. And we are the public purse, you and I. It is we who lose out in having to endure inferior facilities and strained resources.

But the model followed by Wales & West is profitable. And the profits made, coupled with ‘Welsh’ Labour backing, allow W&W to undermine and then swallow up their smaller and weaker brethren, which will include responsible social housing providers sticking to what should be the role of housing associations – providing rented housing for local people.

And some day in the not-too-distant future, when towns like Lampeter and Aberystwyth are awash with drug addicts and criminals from God knows where, and there are only a few housing associations left standing, the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party will control them all.

Allowing ‘Welsh’ Labour, through its housing associations and other Third Sector bodies, to exert a control over Wales denied it by the ballot box. We shall have arrived at the one-party state.

Endgame.

♦ end ♦

Sep 302017
 

This is a bumper issue to keep you going as the nights draw in and I get on with a couple of jobs that must be done ere winter tightens its icy grip. The post consists of a number of items enabling you to take it in in easy, bite-sized chunks. (‘Bite-sized chunks’!)

Enjoy!

NORTH WALES HOUSING LTD

News reaches me of another housing association heading for the rocks, this time it’s North Wales Housing Ltd. A body all too representative of ‘Welsh’ housing associations, especially with the retirement properties built by its wholly owned “commercial subsidiary” Domus Cambria. (Though it’s nice to see a bit of Latin being used.)

Looked at more critically, Domus Cambria helps explain what’s wrong with housing in Wales. The Welsh NHS is stretched to breaking point by the demands made on it by, among others, English retirees, yet in Conwy, where almost two-thirds of the pensioners were born in England (2011 census), the council is still giving planning permission for retirement flats that are marketed over the border!

Domus Cambria recently sold the last of its leasehold flats on Llandudno’s West Shore . . . after years of trying. Which explains why it is finally showing a slight profit, though as with Mill Bay Homes in Pembrokeshire, this ray of financial sunshine may be due to cash transferred from the parent body rather than any business acumen attaching to those running the subsidiary.

The ‘Welsh’ Government’s Regulatory Opinion and Financial Viability Judgement for 2015 on North Wales Housing was none too encouraging, and explains what a drag Domus Cambria has been for a small RSL with just over 2,000 rental properties.

“Selling homes has proved challenging, but has been managed within the Group’s existing financial resources. Originally, homes were planned to be sold by May 2012. To date, 10 are provisionally under offer but remain unsold. The response from the Group to address the slow sales has drifted along with no real impetus. The mitigations put in place were reasonable but demonstrate the difficulties of the Board deciding to press ahead with this product in highly challenging market conditions.

Despite Domus Cambria’s difficulties, the leadership and some elements of the Board continue to press to undertake more business of this nature – even though phase 1 has fallen short of expectations.” (Something of an understatement considering sales were 5 years behind schedule.)

The Regulatory Opinion for 2016 is marginally better, but the beguiling song of the Shit Creek sirens can still be heard.

Given the problems with Domus Cambria it’s difficult to understand why North Wales Housing has taken on another sideline in Rakes and Ladders an “in house grounds maintenance team”. Especially as the name is hardly original, for I found another Rakes and Ladders in Bridgend, one in Gloucestershire, yet another in Vancouver, and I’m sure there must be more. Confusion guaranteed.

North Wales Housing has also been trustee since 2007 for The Olinda Trust, a registered charity, which ran the Plas Parciau home for dementia sufferers in Old Colwyn. The accounts up to 31 August 2016 paint a bleak picture, showing a deficit of £264,568, which explains the charity ceasing to trade in October 2016.

North Wales Housing Ltd is, like almost all housing associations, an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA website suggests that since 16 September 2016 NWH has also been in the consumer credit business.

click to enlarge

This would have been around the time that The Olinda Trust succumbed to the sirens’ call.

I get the impression of a bunch of incompetents running a housing association too small to survive diversifying desperately in the hope that anyone witnessing this activity will be fooled into thinking those behind it know what they’re doing. They don’t.

Even though North Wales Housing is an IPS, force of habit took me to the Companies House website where, sure enough, I found an entry for ‘North Wales Housing Association Ltd’.

Linked with it is Erw Villas Management Company Ltd, the kind of organisation we encountered when we looked into the Cardiff Bay property dealings of Mark Vincent James, chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council. An organisation that allows tenants a say in the running of the block of flats in which they live . . . unless of course Mark Vincent James and his associates get involved.

Erw Villas Management Company Ltd was originally registered to an address in Catford, East London. It was struck off in May 2008 but restored 31 January 2011. On 2 February 2011 the address was changed to that of North Wales Housing in Llandudno Junction. On the same day all the old directors resigned and North Wales Housing was named as secretary and director.

Though in the Annual Return of 12 August 2015, and even though Paul William Diggory, the North Wales Housing CEO at the time, is named as director, the two original directors – Raymond Marquis and Jonathan Colin – are still the only shareholders.

Diggory was succeeded as director by Owen Ingram, who has in turn been replaced by Helena Kirk, the current CEO of North Wales Housing.

No Annual Return for 2016 is available with Companies House, so I assume it has not been submitted.

So what is the connection between North Wales Housing, Raymond Marquis and Jonathan Colin, and Erw Villas on Conway Old Road in Penmaenmawr? Answers on a postcard, please. (And make sure there’s a stamp on it this time! cos I’m not bloody paying again.)

The more I looked into North Wales Housing the more clear it became how thoroughly English it is. Take a look at the Board; start with the chair, Tom Murtha, who retired in 2012 from Midland Heart and now seems to have a number of part-time jobs, including NWH. There may be two or three Welsh people on the Board of 12.

Or how about the management team, headed by Helena Kirk, who arrived in Wales last October?

Even the job of designing the website was given to a company in England, Hallnet Ltd of Warrington, Cheshire. Is there no company in Wales that could have designed a website? Is this the Mersey Dee Alliance in practice, or is it just taking the piss?

Because it always makes me smile when I hear someone respond to complaints about Welsh organisations stuffed with English staff with, ‘Ah, yes, but you’ve got to get the best people for the job – no matter where they come from’.

North Wales Housing is on the brink of oblivion, brought there by bad management, so to suggest that the current shower, and its predecessors, are and were the best for the job is an insult to the Welsh nation. And that’s without considering the longer term consequences.

Domus Cambria sought, selfishly and irresponsibly, to increase the burden on local services by attracting to the Costa Geriatrica yet more elderly people – and all because the parent body was struggling financially!

‘Ah, but that don’t affect us down by ‘ere, look’. Yes it does, you thick-as-shit Labour-voting cretin! To prop up a failing NHS and social services burdened by the activities of Domus Cambria and others your Labour government down Cardiff docks will rob money from other budgets, and that affects us all, in every part of the country.

There is no reason to keep North Wales Housing afloat any longer, so let it be taken over by another RSL, one that is larger, more efficient, more responsible, and more Welsh.

TRIVALLIS

‘Not more f###ing Latin!’ you scream. Well, yes, and from that hotbed of classical learning, Rhondda Cynon Taf. (Three valleys, geddit?)

Trivallis is another Registered Social Landlord aka housing association that I’m told is in trouble. Hardly surprising when we read in the ‘Welsh’ Government’s Regulatory Judgement of June 2017“The Group has a number of unregistered subsidiary companies – Trivallis Ltd, Meadow Prospect, GrEW, Homeforce, Porthcwlis, Porthcwlis Homes and Bellerophon Project 1 LLP.”

In my experience, whenever a third sector body / housing association creates a ‘trading arm’ or a ‘subsidiary’ things go wrong, as we’ve just seen with North Wales Housing. That’s because these are set up by people who are used to being bailed out by the public purse and have little or no understanding of the realities of business.

Too often they are disasters waiting to happen.

The subsidiaries I’ve just just listed – some of which are dormant, having never got off the ground – are all being brought in-house, obviously heeding the recent recommendation of the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee on “diversification”. (Though I was unable to find anything at all for GrEW.)

In case you haven’t noticed, go to the Trivallis website again and look in the top right corner, where you’d expect to find the ‘Cymraeg’ option, or the flag. It’s not there, is it? The website is entirely in English, and that’s because of the strong ‘Welsh’ Labour influence at Trivallis.

Scroll down to the bottom of the home page and you’ll read ‘Powered by VerseOne Technologies Ltd’. Click on the link and you’ll see that the Trivallis website was designed by a Manchester company, with an office in Edinburgh.

Such commitment to Wales! But so typical of ‘Welsh’ Labour, and too many of its housing associations.

‘HOUSE!’ (but nothing to do with housing)

Back in July Llais y Sais ran a story on bookies’ fixed odds betting terminals. In it, Carolyn Harris is horrified to learn that £8m a year is lost on FOBTs in the Swansea Bay region. And so she should be, for Carolyn Harris chairs the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group.

Fast forward to last week and the same local media treated us to news that the cavernous Castle Bingo club in Morriston has been refurbished. And there to re-open it was – Carolyn Harris. ‘But bingo’s diff’rent, innit, not like them cowin’ FOBTs’. 

I hope those aren’t “dyke shoes”!

Maybe not, except that it’s not all ‘legs eleven’ and ‘two fat ladies’ in Morriston, for the club provides its customers with other ways to lose their money enjoy themselves on what look suspiciously like FOBTs, or approximations thereof.

So why was Carolyn Harris there, officially re-launching Morriston’s answer to Las Vegas? The justification seems to have been that Castle Bingo was giving Harris a cheque for GambleAware.

As I wrote this I got to wondering about Castle Bingo, and so I checked on the Companies House website. The company was Incorporated in December 1995. You’ll see that there were two directors; Mrs Diane Elizabeth Stockford of Pontprennau, Cardiff and Mr Jeffrey Charles Harris of Sketty, Swansea.

Harris was also a director of Crown Buckley Ltd, the Brains subsidiary; Cadwalader (Ice Cream) Ltd, which went into administration in October 2015; and Cadwalader (Criccieth) Ltd. Harris is also a director of Meeron Ltd., another company in the gambling business.

Stockford became Brierley, and moved to Rudry, while Harris moved to St Nicholas. Brierley resigned as director in September 2012 and was replaced by Lisa Mary Morgan as both secretary and director. All the while Castle Bingo was providing accounts as a dormant company, explained by the fact that both Stockford and Harris were also directors of Castle Leisure Ltd.

Parent company Castle Leisure Ltd began life in 1911 as The Central Cinema, Cardiff, Ltd. Somewhere along the way, and certainly before May 1988, the company became known as Castle Leisure Ltd.

Here’s the latest list of shareholders for the 235,533 shares. In the year ended 25 December 2016 Castle Leisure Ltd had an operating profit of £4,164,319 on a turnover of £30,591,231. The company has 661 employees at its 8 clubs in Wales and 3 in England.

Of course it would be easy to be snobbish, or judgemental, but after all is said and done, this is an established Welsh company, one that has branched out into England and provides hundreds of jobs giving a lot of people what they want.

That said, there are obvious benefits for all concerned: Castle Bingo operates in Carolyn Harris’ constituency; Castle Bingo gives Harris publicity and a little cheque in the hope that she steers MPs away from their business model; a mutually beneficial association which Labour-backing Trinity Mirror is happy to report having for years enjoyed ‘promotions’ and ‘partnerships’ with Castle Bingo.

Finally: A disturbing report reaches me of unseemly, drunken cavorting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton this week involving – it is alleged – Carolyn Harris and rugby-playing Tonia Antoniazzi, the Labour MP for neighbouring Gower.

I don’t want to believe this scurrilous allegation so I would welcome any further information. Especially photographic evidence proving that such an incident did not take place.

CADW

It’s not often that I get the chance to talk of good news and Cadw in the same report, so I’m going to make the most of this.

A good source informs me of a victory won by the natives of Cydweli, who can now enter their local castle for free. Of course they have to provide proof that they are local, and then sing the first three verses of God Save the Queen. (Joke . . . possibly.)

Castell Cydweli

I’m told that the people of Caerffili enjoy the same concession, while in Conwy it’s just a 20% discount on the entrance fee. But why isn’t there a national scheme to allow all Welsh people into all Cadw premises for free? For God’s sake, it’s not as if Cadw built them, or owns them!

And how difficult would such a scheme be to administer? I mean, everybody nowadays has a passport, a driving licence, a bus pass or something that identifies them. Even if it’s only discharge papers from the Sea Scouts (which I still cherish).

The vast majority of those who visit Cadw sites are tourists, with more money than our people, so let them subsidise our visits. To do so would achieve the impossible – make tourism benefit Welsh people.

A national scheme such as I’m proposing could also introduce more of our people to their country’s history, but of course we’d need someone other than Cadw to interpret that history.

‘SPECIAL TRAIN FOR ATKINS’*

There are many people in Wales who take great pride in devolution, and especially in the thought of Welsh laws being made to serve Wales and her people. Obviously, I’m not one of these because without independence or at the very least a Welsh legal system there can be no Welsh laws.

Without independence or a separate jurisdiction what we are served up too often is simply English legislation with ‘(Wales)’ added to the name. We are given the chimera of legislative power but the real purpose is to keep us in line with England.

Where a genuine ‘Welsh’ initiative is allowed, it’s either an expensive gesture such as free prescriptions, or else it’s the ‘Welsh Government’ succumbing to English pressure groups. The perfect example of the latter would be the proposal to open Wales up to canoeists, ramblers and the rest, dressed up as ‘Sustainable Management’.

But I want to focus on the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. I have written about it before and pointed out that it gives homeless people priority for housing, and who would argue with that? Well, I would, because we are locked into an Englandandwales system that means a family of scruffs making themselves homeless anywhere in England qualify for accommodation in Wales ahead of locals.

Another curiosity of this legislation is that homeless ex-service personnel are also mentioned in the Act as being priority cases. Curious because homeless ex-service personnel do not qualify as priority cases in the equivalent English legislation. The reference can be found at 70 (1) (i).

So why are men and women who have served the English Crown, and suffered for it, not given priority treatment in England? And isn’t it all too predictable that England’s homeless, disabled ex-service personnel, and those suffering from PTSD, those with drug and alcohol problems, will be ‘directed’ to Wales?

Though perhaps the real question is, who inserted this sentence into the Bill? Was it the ‘Welsh’ Government, once again playing gesture politics? Or was it slipped in by a civil servant based in Wales but obeying his or her masters in London?

I’ve got no problem with looking after some poor sod who’s lost both his legs on a foreign adventure about which we were lied to from start to finish, but the way it’s being done looks suspiciously like Wales being dumped on, again.

  • I’ve taken the heading for this section from Kipling’s Tommy. It seemed somehow appropriate.

♦ end ♦

Sep 192017
 

TWENTY YEARS ON

We are currently celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the referendum that gave us devolution. Ron Davies described it at the time as “a process not an event”, but little if any progress has been made.

In yesterday’s Llais y Sais Ron Davies was allowed to explain why he thinks devolution has failed to deliver, why it has not improved the lives of Welsh people. This seems to have been a print version of what he said the day before on radio (06:00) and television (15:26).

Llais y Sais allowed Carwyn Jones to respond, and his response was pathetic; hiding behind the shade of Rhodri Morgan and talking of increased powers rather than addressing the point raised by Ron Davies, which was that Wales is worse off today – in terms of wealth, health, education and other indices – than she was 20 years ago ergo devolution has failed to deliver. Few outside the Bay Bubble would disagree with Ron Davies.

But lurking in the shadows I perceive another threat, an existential threat to the continuing existence of Wales. A threat made easier to carry out because devolution has failed and because so many people in certain parts of Wales feel that devolution has delivered nothing for their area.

FERRY ‘CROSS THE MERSEY . . . AND MOVING TO BANGOR

Unlike Ireland and Scotland Wales does not have geography or topography on her side, we have a long border with England  and all but one of England’s major population centres are within two hours travelling time of Wales.

This plan for a ‘North Wales Metro’ rather gives the game away (click to enlarge)

Which made it relatively easy for Roman, Norman and English invaders to detach the more fertile, lowland areas from our control, largely confining our ancestors to the uplands. That Welsh nationhood survived was largely due to the fact that Wales had little else invaders coveted.

This helped preserve Welsh identity until the arrival of industrialisation, which impacted on areas that were overwhelmingly Welsh in character, and while the new-found prosperity naturally attracted immigrants these were largely assimilated. But time, an English education system, the resultant decline of the Welsh language, colonisation, tourism, lack of national leadership and other factors have taken their toll, to the point where plans are now being drawn up to finally do away with Wales altogether by dismembering our country.

Of course, these plans will never be called by their true name, they will always be presented as being ‘beneficial to Wales’.

Let’s start in the north east. The decline started with the arrival of the railways, and with them mass tourism. The Rhyl station of the Chester & Holyhead Railway Co opened on 1 May 1848. In the more industrial areas closer to the border Anglicisation took a different form with the importation of English workers and the banning of the Welsh language. Perhaps the most notorious example were the events that provoked the Mold Riots of 1869.

Despite it all, the north east remained Welsh, but it was inevitable that the factors I’ve mentioned eventually took their toll. The Flintshire of Daniel Owen, David Lloyd and Emlyn Williams is gone, replaced by what can often be mistaken for semi-rural suburbs of Merseyside.

Rhyl, the once-bustling holiday resort, is now a dumping ground for English criminals, with the town’s streets haunted by drug-addicts and their dealers. (The only plus would appear to be that the gangsters are killing each other quite regularly.) The same fate has befallen smaller communities on the north coast. And as this chaos wreaks havoc on Welsh communities Welsh politicians have done nothing.

So we arrive at the point where someone asks, ‘Oh dear, what can we do to ‘revitalise’ this region? I know! we’ll have closer cross-border co-operation.’ This was certainly the recommendation of the ‘Welsh’ Government’s City Regions Task and Finish Group’s Final Report, the group chaired by Elizabeth Haywood.

Who is Elizabeth Haywood? You don’t remember voting for this woman who wants to dismember Wales? Of course you never voted for her, nobody did; she’s Mrs Peter Hain, or Lady Hain, I suppose, since the Orange Man was ennobled. (You really should get all silly ideas about democracy and accountability out of your head, they’ll only confuse you in one-party Wales.)

The Mersey Dee Alliance to which Lady Hain refers is a body that has been in existence for some time, though it seems to have a strange idea of Welsh geography, or to go by this map that appeared on the MDA website it doesn’t accept the existence of Wales at all.

The prospect of our north east (or the whole north) being swallowed up by north west England would be bad enough, but as I explained last month in Gwynedd LDP, and Wider Considerations, the threat is not restricted to the old unitary authority of Clwyd.

Nor is this encroachment, this gradual takeover, confined to the north. If anyone was in any doubt about that, then statements made over the past few days should have made the threat very clear.

ENGLAND’S LITTLE MOUTHPIECE

One of the great conundrums of Welsh politics concerns the role of Secretary of State for Wales, and boils down to the question: ‘Is the Secretary of State for Wales the voice of Wales in the cabinet or the voice of the cabinet in Wales?’

Different Secretaries of State have provided different answers, but the current incumbent of that post, Alun Cairns MP, is most definitely – and perhaps more emphatically than any predecessor – the voice of the cabinet in Wales. Little more than a mouthpiece, but because he is a mouthpiece, we can more easily tell the plans of those who put the words into his mouth.

The thinking in London towards Wales now seems to come in two parts – gradually undo devolution and then dismember Wales.

On the first element of that dual-thrust approach I call to the witness stand Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales. The heading gives a clue to the content in “Brexit: Carwyn Jones objects to ‘hijack of devolved powers'”,  or “Ministers in London are trying to get the power to rewrite laws made in Wales – Carwyn Jones”, and a host of similar articles to be found on the internet.

Just about everyone outside of the Conservative and Unionist Party believes that Brexit will provide the excuse for Westminster to a) withhold powers repatriated from the EU, and b) ‘retrieve’ powers already devolved. While those inside the party know it but won’t openly admit it.

Even so, the clues come thick and fast. Alun Cairns was given a lot of space in Llais y Sais – with David Williamson serving as his amanuensis – to promote the idea of Cardiff detaching itself from Wales and linking up with Bristol in a Severnside region. (For some reason I can’t find the piece on the WalesOnline site.)

To ram home the message Llais y Sais chipped in with an editorial, one that went beyond Bristol to “the string of cities along the M4” which of course take us to London.

click to enlarge

I was so vexed by what I read, and incensed by the lies spouted by Cairns, that I took the unusual step of putting out a short post on my Facebook page.

On Monday morning Cairns maintained his assault on honesty with the claim that too much power is centralised in Cardiff . . . and this, remember, is the voice of the Conservative and Unionist Party that wants to centralise even more power in London!

Some might be tempted to agree with him, until they remember there’s little real power in Cardiff because Wales lacks an effective form of devolution. Of course, most people would agree that Cardiff gets more than its fair share of investment and jobs, and it was this resentment that Cairns hoped to tap into.

But let’s take him at his word. He says he wants to devolve power to the regions, he even talks of elected mayors. So would Wil Pughe of Llanfair Caereinion, like his counterparts in London and Manchester, have power over policing? Would Wil – as he has long desired – have control over local PCSO Cerys Evans?

Having one day advocated a Severnside region Cairns pushes on with a back-of-a-fag-packet suggestion masking a deeper message – ‘Devolution isn’t working for most of Wales. In fact, devolution isn’t working at all – let’s get rid of it.’

“Give power to the regions” is something trotted our regularly by the Tories, but it displays no real concern for the regions at all, it’s just a method of doing away with devolution and undermining our sense of nationhood.

DIVIDED, DISMEMBERED, DESTROYED

What of the areas left outside the shining megalopolis of ManPool and the ‘string of cities’ from Cardiff to London?

The remainder of the northern coastal strip along the A55, or those areas not being used to house drug addicts and criminals from over the border, or serving as geriatric ghettoes, will become commuter communities, even over the bridge onto Ynys Môn, as I found out by accident.

For when trawling the internet I often turn up things I wasn’t looking for, such as the map below, produced by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners. They know that there are three Strategic Development Areas (or Strategic Planning Areas) for Wales, the two city regions and the A55 Corridor. I found a number of other references to the A55 Corridor: here’s one, here’s another.

All the sources tell us that these three SDAs/SPAs will be brought into existence by the Planning (Wales) Act 2015, which received Royal Assent on July 6.

click to enlarge

So why, two years on, are the chattering classes only talking of the two city regions? Is the A55 Corridor a dirty secret being proceeded with by stealth? Interestingly, one feature demanded by a SDA/SPA is joint Local Development Plans, which might explain why Gwynedd and Ynys Môn were recently required to produce one.

The area between the A55 Corridor and the urban south is to become one vast recreation and retirement area for England, offering everything from granny farms and zip wires to Cheshire-sur-Mer (Abersoch), the Birmingham Riviera (Cardigan Bay), and Bear Grylls parting suckers from their money with his ‘get-muddy-and-pretend-you’re-in-the-SAS!’ bollocks.

With assorted ‘Care’ bodies, probation companies and housing associations taking in England’s decrepit, dysfunction, delinquent and downright criminal. For housing ex-cons pays well.

The Valleys are to endure yet more managed decline, the Swansea region will be offered scraps from Cardiff’s table, while Cardiff itself expands and grows fat through exploiting its capital status but simultaneously playing the English provincial city, increasingly linked to Bristol and “the string of cities along the M4”.

Cardiff being a player in Severnside will be welcomed by those Cardiff politicians, such as Russell Goodway, who have always wanted Cardiff to enjoy all the benefits of being capital of Wales while looking down their noses at everything Welsh.

Result: Wales enfeebled, fragmented and exploited as never before. There can only be one outcome.

WHO CAN WE TRUST?

It should go without saying that we cannot trust an individual, or a political party, that has allowed this situation to develop.

Wales is being assaulted from all sides, yet Carwyn Jones may be motivated by loss of prestige rather than the loss of nationhood, or maybe it’s the thought of his party losing its vast network of patronage that moves him to stand alongside Nicola Sturgeon.

The Tories of course are driving this project and they’ll be supported by Ukip. As for the Lib Dems, well, who cares? Which leaves only Plaid Cymru.

Seeing as the destruction of Wales has little to do with Donald Trump, refugees, or trans-gender toilets, and is only tangentially connected with another of Plaid’s current obsessions, Brexit, it would be unrealistic to expect any opposition from Plaid Cymru.

In addition, Plaid Cymru is unsuited for the coming fight because, being a civic nationalist party that welcomes everyone (especially those with ‘ishoos’) – and by so doing supports the colonialist system that sees Wales exporting talent and importing problems – it is psychologically incapable of standing up in a struggle in which it will have to be said, ‘No, you’re not dumping any more of your problems in our country!’

And yet, one doesn’t even need to be a nationalist, or a believer in independence, to become involved in the forthcoming struggle. All that’s needed is the belief that Wales is a nation, with a defined and accepted territory, and that both must be respected.

But our enemies are gathering, they’ve laid their plans, they’ve even told us their plans, so we must resist.

Are you up for the coming fight?

♦ end ♦

Sep 062017
 

‘I can hear the rumblin’ river as it rushes underground’

Those of you familiar with 60s folk music will know that the title of this piece is shared with a great song by Tom Paxton, a song in which he articulated the growing anger he sensed among disparate elements in the 1960s USA.

For the halcyon days of the 1950s were over, gone with their jobs for all. In the inner cities and the Deep South black people were being influenced by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jnr, and taking their destiny into their own hands. And as President Johnson sent more and more troops to south east Asia the anti-war movement grew in size and determination. America was in a ferment, from which it became impossible for anyone to insulate themselves, black or white, rich or poor, north, south, east or west.

Which probably explains why we saw an explosion of folk singers trying to articulate or capitalise on the zeitgeist. Though, musically, the 1960s was a difficult time for me; the golden era of early Rock was over, Buddy Holly was dead, and so was Eddie Cochran, while Little Richard seemed to alternate between searching for God and being searched for by the men in white coats. Fortunately, I had by then journeyed back to Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Country roots, with Folk providing another distraction from the horrors of the Beatles and the Beach Boys.

Though as I say, it wasn’t easy. For a start, I was in love with Joan Baez (and couldn’t figure out what she saw in that weird little git, ‘Dylan’). Then there was Judy Collins, and Joni Mitchell – it was great to be alive! The problem was of course that while I loved the music and the singers, I opposed the political sentiments expressed. For I supported the USA in Vietnam, Young Jac had bought into the Domino Theory.

But of all the folk singers of that era none had Tom Paxton’s range. People know his songs for children, such as Goin’ To The Zoo and The Marvellous Toy. Then there are his love songs, including the one everybody’s covered, Last Thing On My Mind, though my favourite remains My Lady’s A Wild Flying Dove.

Of course there are political songs, but even some of these are done with humour; Daily NewsWhat Did You Learn In School Today? Others songs are fun commentaries on life, a favourite of mine is Annie’s Going To Sing Her Song. It reminds me of the Swansea pubs of my youth, where there was always some old bird who’d insist on singing . . . whether anybody wanted to hear her or not. (Sophie Tucker renditions were particularly popular, I recall.)

Finally there are those Paxton songs about life, or death, that just make you think. Try I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound, and Jimmy Newman. The latter is a very strange song, but often held up as a musical companion to All Quiet on the Western Front.

‘I can hear a thousand voices making ready for a fight’

So why did I choose that particular Tom Paxton song? Because I sense a mood abroad, a growing belief that Wales is being screwed and we are being lied to. There seems to be an increasing realisation that politicians and their corrupt system – including devolution – have no answers, and may even be the cause of the problem. It almost goes without saying that we no longer trust the mainstream media or any representatives of traditional authority.

I have not known these sentiments to be so widely shared since the 1960s.

The one big difference today from the 1960s is of course that Plaid Cymru is not benefiting from this mood. Back then the national resurgence encouraged by Tryweryn, Aberfan and the Investiture resulted in an upsurge in support for Plaid Cymru, but this time around, after 50 years of Plaid Cymru failure, many have concluded that if not part of the problem, then Plaid certainly isn’t part of the solution either.

We are therefore in uncharted territory.

Another factor contributing to this strange combination of confusion and anger is that we are seeing attacks on the Welsh language from quarters that many had hitherto regarded as friendly, or certainly not hostile. From bastions of left-liberal orthodoxy such as the Guardian and Newsnight.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has proved to be another disappointment. He has certainly disappointed Welsh Remainers through his understanding that if Labour is not to become the unelectable party of the chattering classes and ethnic minorities it needs to reconnect with the English working class.

An English working class that is more aggressively and intolerantly English than at any time in living memory. A mood that has spilt over the border to encourage those among us of a BritNat or anti-Welsh mentality.

Wales needs a new voice, but where will that voice come from? And knowing that actions speak louder than words, how do we leave the enemies of Wales in no doubt about our refusal to accept the destruction of our country?

‘And I guess it’s up to me because we’ve given up on you’

The mood I’m describing runs from frustration in some to real anger in others. What unites them is a realisation that Wales is going nowhere with the current system, or with the existing political parties and politicians, except backwards.

Literally, for not only is the UK government trying to avoid devolving powers ‘repatriated’ from the EU but behind the scenes Englandandwales organisations are spreading their tentacles, making a mockery of devolution, and slowly but surely absorbing Wales into England.

Look around Wales today and everywhere our country is both less Welsh and poorer than it was when we voted for devolution 20 years ago. How did this happen, for devolution was supposed to serve the interests of the Welsh people?

It happened because the interests of the geographical area of Wales were allowed to become divorced from those of her people, to the point where politicians and other liars can argue that a policy or an initiative is ‘good for Wales’ yet closer examination reveals that it may indeed benefit somebody but that ‘somebody’ is rarely Welsh.

It’s called colonialism, and history is full of such examples. I bet that in the 1870s Indians on the Great Plains witnessing the destruction of their way of life were told, ‘But look at the money all these buffalo hides bring into the region . . . you ungrateful bastards’.

As I say, this outcome can only be achieved by divorcing a people from its territory, then insisting that the territory in question belongs to everybody, and that’s because it was terra incognita ere the arrival of the enlightened colonialist bringing ‘progress and prosperity’. (They invariably go together.)

In Wales this progress and prosperity will take many forms: managed decline, zip wires, new housing we can’t afford or don’t need, having England’s decrepit, dysfunctional and delinquent dumped on us, and seeing what were once Welsh universities engaged in a race to the bottom. All designed to increase the numbers of strangers in our country, make Wales less Welsh, and slowly assimilate Wales into England.

Any attempt to defend or promote Welshness against this ‘progress and prosperity’ will be decried as ‘racist’, even ‘backward-looking’. (Always amusing to hear this from the English Right and the London redtops.)

A slander made easier to lay by the position taken by Plaid Cymru. For the Party of Wales is more afraid of being labelled ‘racist’ by the Guardian than it is of its national executive being filmed in a drug-fuelled orgy with rent boys and under age girls in William Morgan’s old gaff.

And the rise of the Right across the Western world has made Plaid Cymru shy away even more from promoting Welsh interests. Which further emboldens our enemies.

So the system grinds on almost unchecked.

‘I’ve been listening to some people and one thing I understand’

Or it did until relatively recently.

But as I’ve suggested, there is a mood abroad; a mood that rejects much of what we have been asked to accept in devolved Wales. Not that there is anything anarchistic or nihilistic about this mood, it is simply a realisation and a rejection of the prevailing corruption.

A growing belief that Wales is dying before our eyes. Or, more truthfully, being killed off.

If you want to see this mood, then look at recent developments such YesCymru, consider the outcry against the Ring of Steel planned for Flint castle, and not just the responses to the recent attacks on the Welsh language from the GuardianNewsnight and elsewhere but where the responses came from.

The internet and social media are of course vital in encouraging this mood. I like to think that this blog plays its part. Fortunately I’m not alone, there are a number of good sites out there. One I’ve mentioned before is Nation.Cymru, which came up trumps again recently.

On the first of this month Dylan Iorwerth, a respected journalist, argued that immigration into Welsh-speaking areas must be halted. In other words he is calling for measures to stop English people moving into Wales. Of course this has been said before . . . and it has always provoked a violent reaction from within Wales and without.

Perhaps the most famous example would be the response to Gwynedd councillor Seimon Glyn’s call, back in 2001, to curb English immigration, for which he was pilloried in the English media. As a result, his party leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, was severely mauled over the issue on Question Time, by Glenys Kinnock.

Not long before, Plaid Cymru vice-president Gwilym ab Ioan was thrown off the party’s national executive for saying that Wales was being used as a dumping ground for England’s elderly, misfits and oddballs.

What I’ve found strange is that there has been no reaction from politicians or media to Dylan Iorwerth’s call to halt English immigration. Why might that be?

Could it be that it’s now generally accepted that there is massive and damaging immigration into the Fro Gymraeg? And if the phenomenon is undeniable then it’s best not to discuss it and stir things up further? Maybe others sense this mood I’m alluding to?

‘A great flood is a-rising fast and there’s a rumbling in the land’

If I’m right, then what’s the best way to capitalise on this mood?

For a start, I suggest that we stop fighting battles that have nothing to do with Wales, or else are beyond our power to influence. One example being those idiots who want President Trump to be impeached or removed by force. I call them idiots because achieving that objective would give the extreme Right the excuse to reject the democratic process altogether and take up arms. (And they have a hell of a lot more guns than their opponents.)

Such distractions are usually the result of ideology. Which is why there can be no place for ideology or dogma in the future struggle. Anyone trying to introduce ideology, or to promote issues external to Wales, must be dealt with, and dealt with ruthlessly. For such people are the enemies of Wales.

Equally dangerous are those who slink in the shadows, whispering, trying to get the more headstrong involved in violence. Also root them out and deal with them.

At this critical juncture Wales needs unity of purpose. As yet, we don’t need a new political party, but we do need a movement. This movement needs to coalesce from the disparate groups and individual voices found on social media and other forums.

We must promote what strengthens and advances Welsh identity, and combat everything that threatens it; all the while accepting that full independence is the only guarantee of the long term survival of Welsh national identity.

In the short term the agenda or strategy could be reduced to a simple Good / Bad list. That which is good for Wales is supported, that which is bad for Wales is opposed.

But if an issue is needed, where widespread support could surely be guaranteed, it would be a campaign to reform how housing operates in Wales. To take planning matters away from the Planning Inspectorate, to reduce the input from Wimpey, Redrow and the rest, to ensure local allocations in social housing, to demand local markets – such as operate on the Channel Islands – reserving most properties for locals.

Or to put it simply: a housing sector serving Welsh needs and interests.

If we cannot get together, sinking our various differences, to agree on a housing campaign such as that, then I’ve misjudged things completely, and there is no mood for radical change.

That’s my contribution. I now suggest that those reading this Think It Over (That’s Buddy Holly, not Tom Paxton.)

P.S. I am not putting myself forward for any role in any movement, my days of activism are long past.

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