PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I have borrowed the title of this post from a number of campaigns run by police and other agencies trying to either reduce anti-social behaviour or else protect children by getting parents to take more responsibility.
But what happens when the children are no longer with the parents? I’m thinking now of cases where the children are, supposedly, ‘in care’.
One case came to light recently of a child from Cardiff claiming to have been assaulted at a home to which he’d been sent in Swansea. The family took the case to local councillor and AM, Neil McEvoy, who sought answers . . . and, as usual, Cardiff’s Labour council turned it into a case against Neil McEvoy!
It says a lot about Wales and its political culture that, ‘I want a straight answer’ can be twisted into ‘intimidating behaviour’. But that’s where we are with the colonial management team we know as the Labour Party.
GRASSROOTS (CARDIFF) LTD
Registered as both a charity (1110186) and a company, this is a mechanism for Cardiff Labour Party to exert influence in the care sector. Described on the Charity Commission entry thus:
THE PROVISION OF A CITY CENTRE FACILITY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE SUFFERING SOCIO ECONOMIC DEPRIVATION WHO REQUIRE ASSISTANCE TO HELP AND EDUCATE THEM THROUGH LEISURE-TIME ACTIVITIES SO AS TO DEVELOP THEIR PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL CAPACITIES THAT THEY MAY GROW TO FULL MATURITY AS INDIVIDUALS AND MEMBERS OF SOCIETY AND THEIR CONDITIONS OF LIFE MAY BE IMPROVED.
The Charity Commission entry further informs us that, unsurprisingly, Grassroots (Cardiff) Ltd operates only in Cardiff. As it is both a company and a charity company directors serve as charity trustees
The group was launched in February 2004 and since then a number of Labour luminaries have served as directors, none more luminescent than Albert Huish, long-serving Cardiff councillor and Lord Mayor. Huish joined in April 2006, when he was 92. He died in 2009.
One who’s been with Grassroots since the start is Councillor Iona Gordon. Other Labour councillors have served as directors but Labour loyalties are not always easy to discern. Even so, it’s reasonable to view Grassroots as almost a department of Cardiff City Council.
Someone else who was in at the start was Paul Anthony O’Donnell, stepping down as a director 28 February 2013, by which time he had branched out on his own.
PRIORITY CHILDCARE LTD
Though he was in business for himself when he joined Grassroots. One company was Paul O’Donnell and Associates Consultancy and Training Services Ltd, formed in December 2001 and dissolved 30 June 2015 with an outstanding debt with HSBC. Another O’Donnell company co-existing with Grassroots was Forward Approach Ltd, but I can find no information.
More recently, May 2016, to be exact, he launched Treharne Properties Ltd with his old mate Leonard Charles Drane, this company is filing as a dormant company. Drane was also a director in Paul O’Donnell and Associates, etc.
Of more importance to this article is the company called Priority Childcare Ltd. Here’s the website and here’s the Companies House entry. Priority Childcare was Incorporated 12 October 2009.
For the first few years it seemed to do very little, but when it moved its address from Treharris, just off the A470 south of Merthyr, to Llandarcy, on the Neath side of Swansea, things started to take off.
Going back to the website – where models portray Priority Childcare’s staff and the kids they look after! – we see a page marked ‘Our Homes’ with seven properties listed. Not entirely correct, for Priority Childcare owns more than the seven listed, but not in its own name.
For the properties are all owned – with outstanding loans from the Royal Bank of Scotland – by POLD Holdings Ltd. A name made up of the initials of Paul O’Donnell and Leonard Drane. This company was Incorporated 4 January 2010.
So we see that both Priority Childcare and POLD Holdings were formed when O’Donnell was still with Grassroots, and therefore well-connected with those in Cardiff who had responsibility for children and young people in need of care, counselling and accommodation.
Wasn’t that convenient, boys and girls, for someone about to embark on a spree of buying properties for that very purpose!
In fact, the first three properties were bought a couple of weeks before O’Donnell left Grassroots.
SWANSEA, MY SWANSEA!
Back in May a report in WalesOnline told of the sudden increase in the numbers of children’s homes in Swansea that the council seemed to know little about. (Or maybe it was that nobody wanted to talk about them.)
We can account for a number of those unexplained children’s homes with what we now know of Priority Childcare. For it’s pretty obvious that Priority Childcare and POLD Holdings are taking advantage of cheaper property further west to move kids out of Cardiff.
Given O’Donnell’s Grassroots link, and given its close links with City Hall, it’s reasonable to assume that the O’Donnell-Drane companies are working with the Labour-controlled council.
But why is Swansea council so passive and accommodating when Cardiff dumps its problems on them? Swansea council knows what’s happening, and where these kids are coming from. Is Swansea council now subservient to Cardiff council?
The people of Swansea are entitled to know.
And how long has it been going on? For the table above tells us that Priority Childcare bought its first properties in Swansea in 2013. Yet this Care Inspectorate document says that the first home was not registered until May 2018. Were they operating unregistered before that date?
Staying with the website, the panel below, from the home page, is fascinating, and worrying.
To begin with, yes, the website shows seven homes, but the Care Inspectorate document mentions ten. So I’m assuming that Clydwr House in Swansea and Ty Aelwyd in Treharris link with the later purchases shown in the table, leaving one of the Swansea properties still unregistered.
Though anyone who thinks that all the homes are in ‘rural or semi-rural locations’, as Priority Childcare claim, must have been born and raised in downtown Tokyo.
More worrying is the reference to ‘Southwest Children’s Residential Commissioning Framework’, which suggests that Priority Childcare is not just bringing kids from Cardiff to Swansea and neighbouring areas, but is also bringing them from south west England!
The Priority Childcare website really is a thing of wonder. For if we scroll down to the ‘Our Partners’ graphic at the bottom of each page labelled we see Swansea council listed . . . but not Cardiff council!
Yet this outfit is almost certainly contracted by Cardiff council to move kids out of the city to homes in cheaper property further west. And exposing this system is one reason that Neil McEvoy is being persecuted, again.
In the ‘Summary of Key Findings’ (page 8) we read: ‘Better local commissioning arrangement are required to ensure children’s needs are met as close to home as possible. We found a mismatch between the location of care homes for children in Wales and the placing authorities from which children originate.’
LABOUR PARTY ETHICS
For now we come to the case that sees Neil McEvoy before Cardiff council’s Standards and Ethics Committee this very day. Yes, that’s Labour councillors debating and judging on standards and ethics. I don’t know whether to laugh or to puke. (I might do both, but not at the same time.)
Not for the first time, Neil McEvoy has rendered Wales a service. For moving kids around in the way we’ve looked at makes it difficult to keep track of them and to monitor the care they’re getting. Worse, this difficulty might be what makes such a system attractive to unscrupulous operators and callous council officials.
It’s certainly an issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. For not only is it happening within Wales, there’s also the cross-border dimension. For example, in Powys, all the children in private care homes come from outside the county, almost all of them from England.
Children in need need to be helped as near as possible to their homes and their families. We must stop licensing private care homes that see vulnerable children as money-spinners, with those providing these children operating on the principle ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
This post is a bit out of the ordinary, and rather personal. I felt it needed to be written as a response to those using the behaviour of a tiny minority to smear the reputation of my home city and its people. Also, in the hope of explaining why we have this minority.
NEVER JUST A GAME
A week yesterday, Swansea City hosted Cardiff City at the Liberty Stadium and beat the visitors 1 – 0. But the game itself was almost overshadowed by a few unsavoury postings on social media and incidents in the real world.
One widely reported posting concerned a ‘boarding pass’ for Emiliano Sala, the Argentine player Cardiff signed from Nantes, who was killed when the aircraft in which he was a passenger went down near the Channel Islands in January. (Available here if you want to see it.)
There was also criticism from certain quarters about union flags being flown by some Swans supporters – and their support for Glasgow Rangers and Ulster Loyalists – to imply that Swansea is a bastion of far right Unionism.
Passions are always high around these derby games, but many think that things have got worse in recent years. Which would be strange, for – isolated incidents of racism aside – football seems to be moving in the opposite direction, certainly with fewer cases of violence between rival groups of supporters.
So why is the rivalry getting more bitter and why have we seem a move to the Unionist far right from certain Swansea fans? The two phenomena are linked, as I’ll explain.
As stated, there has always been rivalry between the fans of the Swans and the Bluebirds. I speak as an old North Banker from the ’60s, when the old Vetch Field occasionally saw bigger crowds than the Liberty Stadium can hold today. A loyal supporter who was at Anfield for the 1964 FA Cup victory, and then suffered the disappointment of the semi-final defeat on a Villa Park quagmire.
I can still smell the cigar smoke from Christmas games and remember the crowd singing Roy Orbison’s It’s Over when the Swans went two or three goals up. (Which may not have been too often, I admit.)
But the point is, me and my mates supported the Swans and we supported Wales, and that was it. It was football pure and simple, no politics, no divided loyalties, no foreign causes.
In the days of which I speak there was a certain confidence to be found in Swansea, a belief that our town was every bit as good as Cardiff or anywhere else. Cardiff’s ‘capital’ status meant little. There were plenty of good jobs and you could tell the boss to do something physically impossible on a Friday afternoon and walk into another job on Monday morning.
It was the age of winkle-pickers or chisel toes and ‘Italian’ suits, the Mumbles Mile; while down the Vetch it was Herbie Williams, Jimmie Mac and Brian Evans. Good times.
Though I admit that in later years I often drifted to St Helens and the Whites, which was just a short walk away, but the Swans were never far from my heart. First love and all that, I suppose.
But that’s enough of Memory Lane, let me now try to explain why I believe we’ve seen the emergence of UDA supporters on the banks of the Tawe.
A CITY BETRAYED
Despite the Swans making it to the old First Division under John Toshack for a couple of seasons in the early 80s, the confidence I just mentioned seemed to evaporate as the decade wore on and a number of factors contributed to a growing feeling that Swansea was losing out to Cardiff.
I’ve mentioned St Helens, that wonderful sporting arena on the Mumbles Road; not only was it home to Swansea RFC, but also to Glamorgan County Cricket Club. In fact, it was regarded as the natural home to GCCC seeing as the western part of the county and the adjoining area of Carmarthenshire around Llanelli produced most of Glamorgan’s players. And because the wider Swansea area was the home of Welsh cricket St Helens was where the county got its biggest crowds.
And yet, in a perverse decision that somehow foretold the future, GCCC gradually moved its centre of gravity east to Sophia Gardens (now the Swalec Stadium) in Cardiff, and St Helens was allocated fewer and fewer games.
A move that went hand in hand with Welsh cricket becoming less Welsh in every way. We saw fewer Welsh players in the team and the ‘Welsh’ cricket authorities willingly sacrificed our national team in order that Cardiff could host England test matches.
Then came the devolution referendum of September 1997, in which Swansea voted for devolution yet Cardiff – despite knowing it would get the benefits – voted against. I recall watching the late Hywel Teifi Edwards (father to the BBC’s Huw) being interviewed on television as the results came in and getting very angry about it, demanding that the Assembly should now go to Swansea.
What followed convinced many Swansea people that they’d been shafted.
It was always assumed that the new Assembly would be housed in Cardiff City Hall, but a bizarre dispute blew up between Ron Davies, then Secretary of State for Wales, and Russell Goodway, leader of Cardiff council. Davies alleged that Cardiff council was asking too much for City Hall, so negotiations ended and he launched a competition to find a different home for the Assembly.
The ‘winner’ was Swansea’s Guildhall, free since the new County Hall had been built on Oystermouth Road, and available at the right price. But none of that mattered – the Assembly ended up in Cardiff Bay.
All engineered by Lord Crickhowell, of Associated British Ports, which had benefited so handsomely from the public purse via the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation that had revamped ABP-owned Cardiff docks. Edwards had hoped to top it off with a new opera house, but lost out to the Millennium Stadium.
The Assembly would be an acceptable consolation prize (despite Edwards and his mates being opposed to devolution), especially as the new institution would be using Crickhowell House while the Assembly building was built. In fact, the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ will be leasing Crickhowell House (or Tŷ Hywel, as it’s now called) until at least 2032.
The ‘dispute’ between Russell Goodway and Ron Davies was contrived, the ‘competition’ to find a home for the Assembly was a sham, both done to manoeuvre the Assembly down to Cardiff Bay. (All explained here in ‘Corruption Bay’, which I compiled almost 20 yeas ago.)
Swansea has been losing out ever since. A more recent example would be the decision to locate the major trauma centre for southern Wales in Cardiff, despite Swansea being geographically central, and Cardiff being so close to and already covered by the existing centres in Bristol. This decision was not made on medical or public health grounds. It will cost lives.
Now you might argue that other parts of Wales have lost out under devolution, and you’d be right. But nowhere is the sense of betrayal felt more keenly than in Swansea – because Swansea always had more to lose, and further to fall. And it hurts.
This failure of devolution has had consequences. As I shall now explain.
THE FAR RIGHT CAPITALISES
Like everywhere else, Swansea has always had a far right element. But because Cardiff fans don’t carry Union flags and a small number of Swansea fans do there is, as I said earlier, an attempt to besmirch the whole city and traduce its people.
But how did we arrive at this situation?
Two decades of non-stop investment have reconciled most Cardiffians to devolution, while the influx from the west and the north – to fill some of the many well-paid jobs created by devolution – has also helped Cymricise the city.
Swansea, on the other hand, has taken a different route.
Repeated kicks in the teeth have left almost all Swansea people feeling that their city has been betrayed and abandoned. Some Jacks have responded by rejecting not just devolution but Wales itself, and by exploiting the prevailing frustration to draw impressionable youngsters into something very ugly.
Of course, it can be argued that issues such as the tidal lagoon, or the failure to electrify the railway line, were the fault of Westminster, not the Assembly. But London has always been there, big, wealthy, dominating; whereas Cardiff’s growth in prosperity and size are seen as a direct result of devolution, and at the expense of Swansea.
Which, predictably, results in a rejection of – and often a hatred for – Cardiff.
I first became aware of the Swansea Loyals ten or more years ago, from their website, which gloried in members’ visits to Glasgow and Belfast. And while earlier manifestations of the far right in Wales had sought to incorporate Welsh symbols and identity into an essentially English or British message, what differentiated the Swansea Loyals is their focus on Scotland and Ireland.
Of course the Loyalist tradition has its roots in Ireland, and is long established in Scotland, but totally absent from Wales, which serves to reinforce Swansea Loyals’ rejection of things Welsh.
It’s this that has angered so many on social media lately.
Despite Cardiff’s former pre-eminence, by the time the BNP membership list was leaked in November 2008 (Wales extract here) it was clear that Swansea had now stolen the crown 99% of the city’s population didn’t want.
So if you want to understand why a certain section of Swansea City fans wave Union flags and reject Welsh identity, why they identify with Glasgow Rangers and Loyalist paramilitaries, then the answer lies in a football rivalry being taken to another level by people of a far right political persuasion exploiting the fact that their city has been given a raw deal.
And because just about everyone in Swansea feels this way critics should be thankful that these Loyalists are so few in number. Swansea remains as Welsh as ever, but I doubt very much that the city would vote to retain this Cardiff-centric form of devolution if there was a referendum tomorrow.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Despite their protestations of being British, to most people in Wales and England there is something rather alien and off-putting about Loyalist flute bands, Lambeg drums and Orange marches. They seem to come from another place and a different culture. Maybe even a different century.
Yet during The Troubles Loyalism began to influence the far right in England. With that influence among England football supporters made clear time after time with the chanting of ‘No Surrender to the IRA’, which bemused locals in cities unlucky enough to have them visit.
Connections were made. And persist
The violence for which England football fans are notorious attracts the far right in Wales, and also perhaps those – like Dai Thomas – only interested in a brawl. Here’s another tweet from East Swansea Loyal, this one gleefully anticipating violence in Prague after England had lost to the Czech Republic last month.
The link between the far right and football violence is almost inevitable given the opportunities football provides to mix with and recruit pumped up young men looking for an outlet or a focus for their aggression. Which is why the armed forces provide another fertile recruiting ground.
But what’s wrong with that, they’ll argue, for only a ‘Fenian’ or a ‘separatist’ would complain about displaying the UK flag. And why shouldn’t guys from Swansea support Glasgow Rangers? Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with going to Belfast to socialise with others who believe in the Union (The fact that the hosts have a penchant for balaclavas and baseball bats is neither here nor there.)
Swansea City is not the only football club south of the border to have a ‘Loyal’ element. In recent years they have sprung up in a number of places, and for the same reason – the far right sees Loyalism as a cloak of respectability. Wrap yourself in the flag, sing GSTQ, attach yourself to mainstream Unionism, and you can get away with a lot more than you could if you were just a bigot without a cause.
But to what are they ‘Loyal’? Essentially, a system in Ireland that saw the indigenous population dispossessed and discriminated against, with this system maintained by violence. British imperialism in a nutshell.
There’s no question that the city of Swansea has had a raw deal in recent decades; but the culprits are in London and Cardiff, so the answers won’t be found in Glasgow and Belfast.
Which makes it a great pity that instead of fighting for their city a small number of football hooligans has decided to further damage Swansea by joining bigots promoting a discredited cause.
If you watched the recent BBC series Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History you’ll know that during that period Loyalist paramilitaries were armed and directed by the RUC, the British army, and the intelligence services. If you didn’t watch it, then I urge you to do so, it’s an excellent series.
The Troubles may be over but the British state faces new challenges. For Brexit has unleashed a wave of English nationalism, and also a response, which combined threaten to break up the United Kingdom. So there’s a good chance that the British state will employ the far right, Loyalists and the like, in the years ahead.
It’s been done before, not just in the Six Counties but also in England, after Roberto Fiore washed up in London in 1981 and became big pals with Nick Griffin. Fiore brought with him first-hand knowledge of cooperation between extreme right wing terrorists and state intelligence services.
There will be a Scottish independence referendum next year. The greater the likelihood of the Scots voting for independence, the dirtier the state will fight. And if there’s a vote for independence then it’ll be unrestricted warfare.
Across the water, there could be a vote for reunification. Which will not be welcomed by those the Swansea Loyals admire, so how will they react? They’ll probably resort to violence and they’ll have support from the far right in Britain, but will the state help them, or have they outlived their usefulness?
And what of Wales? We see a growing appetite for independence that cannot yet reach its potential because, a) it is too closely linked with a political party that has hit its ceiling, b) it dissipates its energies on diversionary issues, and c) it deters support by being doctrinaire.
But independence is the only way forward for Wales. And if Scotland votes to leave the UK then Welsh independence will surely follow. Which might provoke more than just angry tweets from the Swansea Loyals, and graffiti around the Station Inn.
To end on a brighter note . . . when we achieve independence our ‘Loyalists’ can move to the country to which they are really loyal – England. Because principled individuals like them couldn’t possibly remain in an independent Wales, and there’ll be little welcome for them in an independent Scotland or a united Ireland either.
In the meantime, let everybody understand . . .
The ‘Swansea Loyals’ do not represent my city or my people. They are a small gang of bigots and fascists who have cloaked themselves in ‘Loyalism’, turned their backs on Wales, and should be exposed for what they are.
Wales must be united under one flag; the flag of those who are loyal to Wales, and only Wales.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
A quirky title, you may think, but it will serve for these three tales that, in their differing ways, offer insights into the damage being inflicted on Wales by the Labour Party.
But I stress that they’re three distinct stories, so you can take them one at a time.
HOUSES OF MULTIPLE OCCUPATION – HOW MANY DOES WALES NEED?
We begin in Port Talbot, where the playful zephyrs carry that heady mix of motorway traffic fumes and steelworks belch. (For as anyone who reads the popular press will know, steelworks always ‘belch’ smoke and fumes.)
(As a matter of interest, Olive Street is not far from Dic Penderyn’s grave.)
On the application document I’ve linked to you’ll see that the applicant is ‘Joe Furneaux’, and the address given is in Upper Killay, where Swansea peters out into Gower. So I got to wondering about ‘Joe Furneaux’.
I couldn’t get very far in my investigations until I realised that his name is actually Jonathan Furneaux. And it soon became obvious why he might wish to generate confusion about his identity, for he has a chequered business record.
Both companies gave their address as 44 St Helens Road, Swansea. You’ll see that the second of them went bust with no less than 11 outstanding charges.
If we look more closely at those charges we see properties in Ferndale, Tylorstown, Penrhiwceiber, Pentre, Ebbw Vale, Abertillery, Nantyglo, Llanhilleth, Aberdare.
(Maybe some readers can give me feedback on these properties, for the addresses are all given in the charges. For example, are they now residential properties?)
Towns that have been abandoned by self-styled ‘Welsh’ Labour. Where the economy is depressed, where people (those who haven’t left) have either given up or got angry, and where we find the lowest house prices on this island. Ideal locales for ‘investors’ to buy properties in which to house ‘problematic’ (for neighbours) – but highly profitable (for them) – tenants.
A scam encouraged because it shows how ‘caring’ we are – ‘Socialism, innit!’ While also exposing Wales’ poverty – which is always blamed on the Tories.
What a way to run a country! But back to ‘Joe’/Jonathan Furneaux.
To confuse the picture, Phoenix Property Acquisitions Limited may have been dissolved in April 2014 but in February 2015, Phoenix Property Acquisitions Ltd was born. This company did nothing – apparently – and was was compulsorily struck off in July 2016. The address used for this brief reincarnation was 39 Park Place in Swansea city centre.
So we see that in addition to the Upper Killay address Furneaux has also used addresses in the city centre. Though both of the earlier companies began life in Hartfield, a village near Tunbridge Wells, which is where I think Furneaux is based.
For I believe he lives in England and uses accommodation addresses in Swansea. I say that because if this (below) is the same man, then his day job may be with Palatine Homes Ltd of Berkshire.
This company specialises in bespoke, upmarket dwellings in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, a world away from the Labour fiefdoms of Swansea, Port Talbot and the Heads of the Valleys.
Furneaux joined Palatine Homes in March 2016. Now that he’s got a few bob together perhaps he’s making a come-back.
(If the Jon Furneaux of Palatine Homes Ltd is not the ‘Joe’/Jonathan Furneaux active around Swansea Bay, then I shall be happy to delete this reference.)
And he’s doing it with a company set up as recently as March this year, Horizon EXP Ltd, with a ‘postbox’ address in Dorset. For this is the company that bought 20 Olive Street, Aberavon for £43,000 in July. Now Furneaux wants to convert this small, mid-terrace house in a residential neighbourhood into a four-bed HMO.
For no better reason than idle curiosity I scrolled down the planning application and was surprised to read (in section 27) that the owner, on 27 June, was a Samuel Hawking. ‘Who he?’ I asked myself, and eventually turned up this website.
So did Hawking get the ball rolling for a HMO and then sell the property, or was the sale of 20 Olive Street provisional on him initiating the process for Furneaux? Given that Hawking might be a relatively large fish in the Swansea Bay property market, I incline towards the second possibility.
Plasmarl, where my father was born and raised, is not one of the more salubrious quarters of the city, having much in common with the post-industrial Valleys’ towns we looked at just now. In earlier times Plasmarl was home to many of those who worked in the valley below.
Plasmarl, where the ‘Golden Boy’ was born and raised. And where I sank many a pint in the Smelters, and the Coopers, and the Imperial, and ‘Y Cwrcyn’. (No one knew why it was called Y Cwrcyn, but as the real name was The Ivorites Arms, and there were other Ivorites not far away, it served a purpose.)
No mean neighbourhood, Plasmarl. But before I get too nostalgic I’m going to end with a few questions:
Why has a man with so many unpaid debts returned to Wales to go into the Houses of Multiple Occupation racket?
Does the company to which he owes so much money know he’s resurfaced?
What’s his relationship with Sam Hawking?
Do the local authorities involved know exactly who they’re dealing with in these applications, and all the possible ramifications?
What rights do locals have when threatened with a HMO near to them?
Do the planning committees so ready to give permission enquire where the residents of these HMOs in Aberavon and Plasmarl (and elsewhere) will come from?
Does the ‘Welsh Government’ have concerns about cheap property in deprived areas being converted into HMOs and hostels to house persons from outside of Wales?
This next story takes us west, west of Llanelli in fact, to Porth Tywyn (in English, Burry Port). A town I know quite well; in fact, I stayed there for a few nights very recently.
This report is different to the topics I usually cover in a number of ways, but it still fits because it’s about the abuse of influence and the misuse of money, with the Labour Party central to the tale. For all those involved are councillors, candidates, members, supporters. Indeed, it’s suggested that the reach of the Labour Party explains how this scandal has festered for so long.
I have been given the full names, and relationships, of those involved, but I’ve decided to use initials. Those involved will recognise themselves, of course, and locals will be able to identify them. While those who don’t know the area can understand the issues raised without having to know the principals’ names.
In a nutshell, a small group, made up it seems of two families, monopolises fund-raising activities in this small town. Money is ostensibly raised for the community, and yet most of it seems to be unaccounted for. And I am talking now of what is said to be hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The points below represent a summary of the information supplied to me in the words of a source. I have made a few additions or clarifications
1) Burry Port Carnival has been around for some 20 years and is driven by S. M. In the early years all money was paid into her personal bank account and no accounts were produced.
2) Members of the community were involved and some became members of the committee but they didn’t last long.
3) More recently, in the past 5 years or so, the committee is made up almost entirely from two families. The M. and F. families. This consists of S.M., her husband, her daughter and her grandchildren. Also A. F. and L. F. It is believed that there is one non-family committee member, D. D., the nephew of Cllr J. J.
4) S. M., A. F. and J. J. are serving Labour Party councillors. L. F. is an active member of the Labour Party and was a failed Labour candidate for a recent Pembrey Ward by-election for the town council.
5) Members of the community are now saying that unless you are a family member and a member of the Labour Party you will not be allowed on the committee. This seems to have some weight as a recent member of the committee, L. M., was ousted as soon as she got elected as an independent town councillor 5 years ago.
6) The committee will state that anyone can apply to join but nobody does because they know that they would not be accepted or, if they are, they won’t last very long. The general view is that this is more like a family business than an inclusive and transparent community organisation.
7) The Carnival Committee not only organise and run the annual carnival but in season, April to October, they run the weekly car boot sale in Burry Port. It has grown to be the largest in mid and west Wales.
8) Some conservative estimates are that the income from the car boot sale alone ranges from £40,000 to £50,00 a year. (Ed: This is explained by over 100 stalls paying £7 for a car, £10 – 12 for a van, £15 for anything bigger. But no receipts are given, just ‘raffle tickets’, which I assume to mean cloakroom tickets.)
9) The annual Carnival has also grown and income from that is not recorded.
10) (Those involved) also run the annual Christmas Carnival, an annual dog show and vintage car show as well as a number of minor events.
11) They do not give receipts to any who enter the events. They do not give receipts to any stall holder, car owner or sponsor. More recently they started issuing a raffle ticket from various different books to car boot pitch holders. (Ed: The ‘raffle tickets’ referred to earlier.) They have been frequently observed collecting money and putting it in their pockets.
12) No one knows how much they collect but they are quick to publicise a handful of very small grants that they give to local groups, (Grants of a few hundred pounds only) They have also funded around a dozen defibrillators in the community at around 1,200 each. No one knows where the rest of the money goes.
13) They do not publish any audited accounts and they do not publish any annual report or minutes of meetings.
14) Any accounts or financial statements they may produce may not be worth very much if they do not issue any receipts to back up their income.
15) In the meantime, the F. family have gone from L. F. being unemployed and A. F. having a small stall in Carmarthen market, to having three shops and three businesses in Burry Port. S. M. and her family have just bought a villa with a swimming pool in Spain.
It would be easy to dismiss this report as an example of small town squabbling. But given the quality of the sources, and the amounts of money involved, I know there’s substance to it.
So I call on those involved to produce what they should have been producing all along – minutes of meetings, correspondence, bank statements, audited accounts, and an explanation for the status of their operations. For nothing seems to be registered with either the Charity Commission or Companies House.
Which inevitably gives rise to suspicions that this is a cash-only operation held together by family loyalties and protected by the power of the Labour Party.
UPDATE 08.11.2019: The local media is taking an interest. Here’s a report from Wales News Online, and earlier today I was contacted by a reporter who seems to work for both the Carmarthen Journal and WalesOnline.
Reading through the WNO report I have to say that those involved don’t do themselves any favours. They admit to giving out cloakroom tickets as receipts, but will give real receipts to “those who request them”!
When the awkward questions about accounts and record-keeping were asked the carnival committee kept referring to paying-in books at the bank! A strange response because these would only tell what was paid in, not what was collected.
When asked about the legal status of this money-making operation WNO was told that the carnival committee is a “constituted forum”. It may be, or that may be an excuse used to justify not being registered with the Charity Commission or Companies House.
I wanted to make that point because in the NorthWalesLive article a spokesman for Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) waffled about, ” . . . deep concerns . . . basic failures . . . unprecedented for a public service” . . . and, in effect, said nothing.
Which chimes with my experience of language activists over half a century in that they’re hot on abstractions and visibility, but unconcerned with employment issues unless it’s them losing out. Jobs for working class Welsh speakers don’t concern them, which tends to betray the ‘look-out-for-number-one’ attitude of too many. This attitude explains the rise of Rhodri Williams.
When I put out that tweet last Monday I had no way of knowing that my argument would be backed up so quickly.
The announcements on trains are given out by the guard. Now, quite obviously, if the guard has no understanding whatever of the Welsh language, then passengers will hear, ‘Clanvervekan’ (Llanfairfechan) and ‘Makynceth’ (Machynlleth). The way to avoid this is obviously to employ local people.
But this is not what happens at the moment. And there are no moves to recruit locals, in fact, things could get a whole lot worse.
For I have it on impeccable authority that Transport for Wales is recruiting thirty new guards for the Central Wales line and the Cambrian Coast line. The recruitment is being carried out in Shrewsbury.
This news has been met with anger by railway employees in the area affected, because it means that there will be no Welsh staff recruited for guards jobs on Welsh railway lines, and that can only result in an inferior service.
(And a more expensive service. For English staff have taxis paid for them to join their Welsh trains. This is happening now!)
So not only will we have to endure more of ‘Clanvervekan’ and ‘Makynceth’ but, being ignorant of the area they won’t know the request stops, or the bus connections, or anything.
Take a look at the map below, the railway lines are in red and the green lines represent TrawsCymru bus services. Just look at the number of request stops between Barmouth and Porthmadog! Imagine the nails-on-blackboard mangling of Morfa Mawddach and Dyffryn Ardudwy; and then, just before Abbaerk, we’ll hear the announcement for Penny Chain.
And yet, it could all be avoided by recruiting Welsh people to work on Welsh railways. Why is that so difficult?
Seeing as “Transport for Wales is a not for profit company, wholly owned by the Welsh Government” I would like the ‘Welsh’ Labour ‘Government’ to tell us why it allows this company to practise recruitment policies that insult our native language, lose us jobs, and provide us with an inferior service.
Or are we supposed to just shrug it off and accept this discrimination as yet another example of ‘Welsh’ Labour betraying the Welsh people?
Picking up on something he may have read by Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de Lamartine nineteenth-century English scribbler Lord Acton is usually credited with, ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
While I’m sure he was thinking of despots and emperors strutting their stuff in his own time that line can equally apply to the Labour Party in Wales. For too many in Labour regard privilege, patronage, and outright corruption as theirs by right. The prize for coming first.
This belief gives us cronyism, rigged elections, the third sector, self-advancement, local ‘mafias’, unregulated lobbyists, parachuted candidates, the arrogance to argue that black is white . . . in the poorest country in Europe.
The Labour Party benefits itself, but fails the nation. It’s therefore time to bring to an end Labour’s century in the sun. Anyone outside of Labour siding with these gangsters on spurious ideological grounds is no better than Labour.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
Here are the updates and the like that I mentioned in the introduction to my previous post on Dawnus, and that I would have given you earlier had it not been for fresh news on Dawnus.
It’s quite a bundle, almost 4,000 words, but broken up for you – as advertisements for pet food are wont to say – into bite-sized chunks. Enjoy!
Forgive me if I get a little nostalgic, perhaps emotional, but I spent two years at Coleg Harlech, two wonderful years; I even managed to fit in the odd lecture. But a lot of time was spent in the Castle Hotel, or the Queens, or the Red Lion, or the St. David’s, where I sank many a ‘sundowner’ while enjoying the view of the golf course and the sea. (Though I detest golf and golfists.)
Yes, many’s the night I spent in the Dai’s getting legless with Dafydd El, holding him back from some impulsive patriotic act that might have jeopardised his career. As Mary Hopkin sang, those were the days. Not that I personally wanted to spend every waking hour in licensed premises, you understand, but I fell in with bad company.
Of course, the pubs were shut on Sunday back then but that’s when we – usually me and Dai Williams, ‘the Beast of Bedwas’, best man at my wedding – used to have some of our most memorable sessions, up in the Castle Hotel run by Ron Hopkins, originally from Aberdâr.
I recall being in the Castle just before the final Sunday Opening vote. Hopkins of course was in favour of opening, and he was arguing with a very left-wing lecturer from the Coleg, an Englishman who intended voting to keep the pubs shut because he believed – correctly – that’s what most locals wanted.
Now Ron had had a few pints that night down the Ship Aground in Talsarnau (another of Ron’s wife’s family’s pubs), and he’d rolled into the Castle well lubricated. Then the argument started. Because this lecturer was a ‘communist’ and in favour of Sunday closing Ron had somehow linked the two to persuade himself that keeping pubs shut on Sunday was a communist conspiracy.
I just leaned on the bar marvelling. Imagining the grizzled old men of the Politburo in Moscow sitting down and saying, ‘Now then, Comrades, the next step in destabilising the West is keeping the pubs shut on Sunday in Merioneth’.
It was one of those insane discussions that take place in Welsh pubs when those participating are opinionated drunks. (I speak as an observer, you understand.)
God bless you, Ron. God bless you, Dai. Thanks for the memories.
Not far from what was the Castle Hotel we encounter the St David’s Hotel, which has lain empty for over a decade. It’s owned by a company based in Gibraltar that probably had no intention of renovating the place, unless someone else was paying. Even then, perhaps, it wouldn’t have been restored, for who knows – like so many such properties in Wales – maybe it was making money just by standing empty.
The hotel is just up the road from the Coleg, which also fell on hard times, was then closed, and finally put up for sale. Now we learn that the Coleg has also been sold, though to someone based rather nearer to Harlech than Gibraltar.
Is he fibbing, or is he one of those wealthy men who buys things on impulse then figures out what to do with them?
Anyway, off I went a-digging. Irvine, or Banks-Irvine, had a company called Anglo-Euro Trade Ltd, originally based in southern England that moved to Talybont (near Bermo), in April 2004, presumably when the man himself moved. It’s stated business, ‘Distilling, rectifying and blending of spirits’. (Not more bloody ‘craft gin’?)
I’m using the past tense because Anglo-Euro Trade Ltd was dissolved in May 2017. From the accounts I’ve looked at it never made enough in any one year to pay for the cat food. But there you go, maybe he didn’t have a cat.
Though a new company was launched 28 January. Apart from the authoritative tones of the man himself the only other voice we hear in the cavernous boardroom of LBI (Wern Fawr) Ltd is that of Tessa Jane Beverly.
The company’s business is, ‘Development of building projects’. Which would suggest that LBI has been set up to carry through whatever plans the eponymous Leslie Banks Irvine has for my alma mater.
And what might those plans be?
Well . . . something I turned up on the Cyngor Gwynedd planning portal might give a clue. Last year Leslie Banks Irvine applied for a change of use for Fairbourne church hall. The application said he wanted to use it to store his – or someone’s – ‘collection of classic motor cars’. The application was refused.
Has this plan now moved up the coast to Harlech?
Of course I have no way of knowing what the plans are for the Coleg, the auditorium and the other buildings, but if I lived in or near Harlech I would be asking Leslie Banks Irvine, and not accepting ‘dunno’ for an answer.
But wherever we live in Wales we should be concerned that another historic and iconic site has been sold off by a public body, to a virtual stranger, probably at a knock-down price, and for an undisclosed purpose.
And there’s a good chance he’s hoping for public funding.
SAVING THE PLANET BY EXPLOITING WALES
Talking of knock-down prices, how about fives acres for £1? Yes, that is five acres of good Welsh land for just 100 pence. For that’s the deal done by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ for Parc Teifi in Cardigan with a bunch of eco-shysters environmentalists.
The leader of this lucky band, one Alpay Torgut, believes the deal was done because, “The Welsh Government was impressed with our work and achievements over the last ten years, in creating and successfully running our previous community forest garden and the Cardigan Eco shop”.
The previous ‘community forest gardens’ were in England and Llandudoch. For it should go without saying that Alpay Torgut is not from aroun’ by ‘ere. He is another who has realised that everything is greener on this side of the Dyke, especially the politicians and the funders.
He mentions the Cardigan Eco Shop “which has been going for nine years now”. Maybe, but the company Naturewise Eco Shop CIC was only Incorporated in January this year, and probably only done to enable Alpay and his gang to qualify for the goodies. Just more box-ticking.
Upon seeing the photo above I mumbled the appropriate incantations and an apparition appeared, who spake in this wise: “Jac!”, it intoned, “Jac!” (repeating itself), “I have the gift of seeing into the future, mush, and I tell you now, this will soon be a commune. And lo! retrospective planning permission will be granted, and many shekels will be shoved the way of these con artists. Mark my words, son!”
And then, with a drawn out wail, the apparition departed.
The commune foretold – and other examples of encouraged colonisation – will be justified by England’s management team in Cardiff docks as ‘reducing Wales’s carbon footprint’.
I’m still waiting for an explanation as to how we reduce our carbon footprint by, a) encouraging people to move into Wales and then, b) letting them exploit land that had previously been causing Mother Earth no problems whatsoever.
UPDATE 17.04.2019: I have now written to the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ asking for my five acres.
The reason I mention this crew at all is because one of them is boasting that our former First Minister, Labour’s Carwyn Jones, has promised to help them secure a licence to grow hemp (cannabis) and that a big pharmaceutical company may be involved. For not only is it now legal to grow cannabis, but from last November doctors can prescribe cannabis products.
The word on the street is that there will be no benefit to Wales because the licence will be used to grow pot that will then be transported to England, where it will be processed and where it will provide jobs.
It may even be possible to use the licence in England. Wales and the ever-obliging Carwyn Jones may simply be used to get the necessary authorisation.
If anyone has more information, then please get in touch.
TARDIS IN CYDWELI!
A curious story reaches me from that source of many a strange tale, Cydweli.
You may recall that the town council’s Mynydd-y-Garreg ward saw a by-election in February won by Labour’s Beryl-Ann Williams, an art psychotherapist, our Beryl-Ann. Now there’s another by-election in the same ward and the Labour candidate this time is Arwyn Rhys Williams.
From the form below you’ll see that young Arwyn gives his address as 27 Llys Gwenllian, an unprepossessing property built by Grwp Gwalia, now merged into the Pobl group. (You might remember that it was Gwalia that housed the gang of London paedophiles.)
Also resident in this property is councillor Philip Thompson, who’s a lawyer, and a QC, yet somehow qualifies for social housing . . . but then, he is Labour, and being a party activist puts you at the top of the waiting list with most housing associations.
Others who have given this as their address in recent years are Siôn Davies, who was Labour candidate for Llangyndeyrn, and Lisa Williams who stood for the party in Trimsaran. I’m told there have been others.
So is this a house of multiple occupation, and if so, is it registered as such? If it’s not a HMO then what’s going on? Could it be that Labour candidates are afraid to tell us where they really live?
Getting back to young Arwyn for a minute, something I found on his Facebook page would not have me queuing outside the polling booth at 7am in the pissing rain to vote for him.
But then, in fairness to the boy, those attributes could apply to so many Labour politicians. His political future is assured!
UPDATE 17.04.2019: I’m now being told that Arwyn Rhys Williams is the son of Cydweli mayor Philip Thompson. He uses his mother’s name of Williams.
So if he is now living with his dad then Arwyn needs to update his Facebook profile, which locates him either in Swansea or Tenby. Alternatively, if the FB information is true, then maybe he’s just living at the Cydweli address until the election is over.
It also suggests he’s still in school. He is 18, is he?
I hope I whetted your appetite in the previous post with my promise of updates on the whereabouts of some of those I’ve written about in the not too distant past.
To set the scene . . . a few years back the Labour Party on Swansea council relied heavily on councillors who were no more than students. They knew nothing about my wonderful city and were just making up the numbers for council leader David ‘Il Duce’ Phillips, another stranger to ‘the ugly lovely town’.
One by one they disappeared. California girl Pearleen Sangha went to Cardiff to work as a regional organiser for ‘Welsh’ Labour. In other words, she left a city she didn’t know in order to ‘organise’ a region she knew even less about.
Then she went home to the States to work for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. She was based in the Carolinas, which might have been as alien to her as Swansea. Perhaps she had some interesting encounters with good ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye . . . and voting Trump.
After a stint back in her home state, working for Mayor Sam Liccardo of San José, she has now returned to these shores as a fully-fledged ‘political consultant’. All set out here in her Linkedin profile.
Then there was John ‘John Boy’ Bayliss, a native of Eastbourne. I understand John is currently working as a press officer for Home Secretary Sajid Javid and LGBT adviser to the Conservative Party. So it could be that John Boy has deserted the bruvvers.
In the collage below you’ll see John Boy luxuriating in the adoration of his canvassers. They too look as if they’ve been recruited from the university.
On the left of the collage you’ll see a bizarre shot of Il Duce in mayoral robes at the foot of the Mansion House stairs, with his eyes shut, and his loyal band behind him. Nothing wrong with a shot like that, when it’s the Kennedy clan on a wide and elegant staircase at Hyannisport . . . but not with that gormless crew bunched up fighting for air.
On the great man’s right hand is his consort Sybil Crouch, another Labour councillor who thought Mumbles was a speech impediment until she washed up in Swansea. Interestingly, Crouch worked at the university.
In the trio on the top right we see, on the left, Nick Bradley, loyal West Bromwich Albion supporter who was given the brief of the Liberty Stadium, the Swans’ home, presumably because somebody thought he might know something about football.
In the middle we see Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Theaker. Gin connoisseur who also took himself off to the Gulf but has now given it all up for life as a globe-trotter. Though the word is that he hopes to return to Swansea and resume his political career.
On the right we see Rene ‘Rocking Rene’ Kinzett, the only Tory in this gay trio, and at one time the youngest of Swansea’s councillors. I predict with certainty that Rene will not be returning to Swansea . . . after he’s released from prison.
I wrote about ‘Rocking Rene’ back in 2013, and someone, in a comment, reminded me that his brother Richard had been sent down for life after attacking an off-duty copper outside the Uplands Tavern while on a visit to Rene. I then received a message from their father, demanding apologies for all sorts of things. I wrote about it here.
I felt sorry for Kinzett senior back then, and I feel even sorrier for him now with two sons banged up. I just hope he has other children to console him.
Just a brief update to Dawnus 3.
There’s no question that French arms manufacturer Thales didn’t stay long at the Stradey Business Park in Llangennech. It left soon after the (official) British withdrawal from Afghanistan, maybe before. So why wasn’t Thales’ departure given the same coverage by the ‘Welsh’ media as its arrival, or indeed any coverage?
The building used by Thales was taken over by Hydro Industries Ltd, as shown in one of the photographs below that I was sent by a local. This explains Carwyn Jones’s visits to the USA in 2013 and 2014 promoting Hydro Industries.
The other photo, from the front gate, leaves no one in any doubt that Robert Lovering’s company European Telecom Solutions has moved in.
(What’s equally clear is that no one cleans the old signage.)
Hydro Industries is ostensibly involved in the harmless and praiseworthy business of bringing clean water to Africa. I suspect it’s involved in rather more than that. And that it wasn’t just the Thales building that it took over.
Hydro replacing Thales explains the sudden attention – and financial input – of the Waterloo Foundation and Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle, who is herself French.
The wife and I like to take ourselves off for short breaks exploring this wonderful country of ours. One such trip about three years ago took us to Pembrokeshire and the Cleddau Bridge Hotel, a superb location on the Milford Haven Waterway and ideally located for walking across the bridge to take in the stunning views.
But there you go, these things happen . . . and often in the sequence I’ve listed here!
One of the big issues on the Welsh Twittersphere over the past few days has been the defacing, then the partial demolition, and finally the rebuilding, of the ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ mural on the A487 just north of Llanrhystud.
First, on Thursday night, it was vandalised by someone painting over the message, then on Friday night the wall itself was partially demolished. These incidents being the latest in a series of attacks, presumably by those objecting to the message.
The recent incidents are covered pretty well in this BBC Wales report. (From which I’ve used the image below.)
Not only has the wall been rebuilt and the message repainted but a petition has been launched to raise £20,000. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve chipped in with my £20 (plus the charge!) but I’m still not sure what exactly I’m contributing towards.
The petition reads,
This Mural is an important landmark in Welsh history which symbolized the hurt and pain that the drowning of the village of Tryweryn caused in the 1960s
After the mural was desecrated numerous times in the last few years, we want to make sure it’s secure and protected for future generations.
Please donate to our cause!
(The drowned village was actually called Capel Celyn.)
But what does this appeal mean? If it means constantly repainting and rebuilding the memorial (for memorial is what it is) after each act of vandalism, then I shall be very disappointed, because I believe there has to be a permanent solution to ensure no further attacks.
Personally, I wouldn’t object to booby traps, but I suppose some would, so what is to be done? For a start, who owns the land on which the wall stands, and the lay-by in front? Can it be bought? And if so, who would own it on behalf of the nation? It obviously can’t be a single political party or group; ownership and custodianship has to be as broadly based as possible.
But it must also be in Welsh hands, which is why I was appalled to read this suggestion from English Heritage (West) that their mates in The English National Trust be involved.
Why the hell would we need to involve a middle class BritNat outfit? And seeing as this is a national memorial the decision can’t be left entirely to the local community council either, a group that might be influenced by Cadw.
Responses I’ve seen to the recent attacks hint at a divide long evident in the national movement. I’m referring now to those ready to turn the other cheek and keep rebuilding the wall after every attack; and those who want to bring those responsible to book, and ensure it never happens again.
A divide exposed by Tryweryn itself, when some felt that the correct response was to sing hymns in the streets of Liverpool, while others wanted to blow up the dam.
We are entering dangerous times, with a confused and angry neighbour that might fall under the sway of demagogues and rabble-rousers who have some very ugly masters. Those seeking martyrdom might get their wish, but it won’t help Wales one bit.
At the risk of getting a reputation for picking on the Labour Party I conclude with a tale of bruvvers at each others’ throats. This story comes from Flintshire, realm of the late Carl Sargeant.
A name we became familiar with in those dark days was Bernie Attridge, apparently a big (in every sense of the word) mate to Sargeant. In fact, in the aftermath of Sargeant’s death, Attridge got quite emotional at times and made no bones about targeting Carwyn Jones.
But then it seemed that the Sargeant death opened a can of worms. For example, it was suggested that Attridge had hinted that Sargeant could have gone to prison for unspecified crimes. Attridge is alleged to have used the colourful phrase, “I bet he’s shitting bricks“. And this was alleged to have been said before Sargeant’s sacking and suspension in November 2017.
These rumours were known to the denizens of the Connah’s Quay Labour Club, and officials of the party. From reading what was being reported it was clear there were divisions within the local Labour Party. But of course this had nothing to do with ideology, for the Labour Party in the north east is very much like the Labour Party we know in the south, in that it’s an ideology-free gravy train.
The main cleavage seemed to be between the council leader, the appropriately named Aaron Shotton, and his deputy, Attridge, plus of course those who took sides. Things seem to have come to a head in the past couple of weeks, first, with Shotton sacking Attridge, and this closely followed by Shotton’s resignation.
It was even suggested that Shotton had chucked it in due to the fear of Attridge supporters taking to the streets. (Flaming torches and pitchforks optional.)
In the BBC report I’ve just linked to, ‘“Cabinet colleague Carolyn Thomas warned earlier that “hatred and animosity” threatened to split the Labour group’.
While this WalesOnline report tells us that the problem goes back to a secret recording made ten years ago of a conversation between Shotton and Attridge that contains ‘expletives’ and ‘defamatory allegations’.
Then last Thursday a piece appeared in the Wasting Mule which seemed to be answered by another piece on Saturday. See what you make of them.
It’s pretty obvious, even from a distance, that the Labour Party has a very unhappy band of bruvvers in Flintshire. If it comes to all-out war it could get nasty, for the Flintshire Labour Party – and indeed the council – has always contained a number of renowned swordsmen.
What makes it even more awkward for Labour is that Shotton and Attridge both represent the Connah’s Quay Central ward. I bet ward meetings are a bundle of laughs. Happy days!
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
This was intended to be a sort of bits and pieces post in which I looked at various topics. Among them the sale of Coleg Harlech and an update on the (ex-)student councillors that used to plague Swansea council, a sort of ‘Where are they now?’
For your information, and titillation, one former Labour councillor ended up working for Tory Home Secretary Javid; another went home to California before returning to promote herself as a ‘political consultant’; a third works as a ‘Director of Sponsor Relations’ for a US company; a fourth worked for that same company before becoming a ‘globetrotter’; while a fifth – the only Tory – got banged up for child pornography.
But all that can wait because cogs have been turning in the old Jac noggin as I tried to make sense of who’s who and what’s what on either side of that great turbulence that cleaves Jack from Turk.
Not a great deal of new information has come to light but I have been pointed in certain directions and the bigger picture is now less opaque as connections are made and things fall into place.
Though I beg you to be patient, because this is one of the most complicated investigations I’ve ever done.
There are a few things to add on Dawnus itself, and the myriad companies that sheltered ‘neath that umbrella. To help you get up to speed I advise you to read Dawnus and Dawnus 2.
The asset stripping and dismemberment of Dawnus may or may not have begun with the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone 2014/15 but it certainly ties in with the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, who now seems to run what’s left of Dawnus.
Though having said that, two new companies have emerged from the ashes. The first, on 22 March, was Dawnus International Group Ltd, which has already changed its name to DIG International Group Ltd. This new entity contains as directors a number of names that have appeared before in connection with the Dawnus group.
Then on 28 March the world saw the birth of Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, based in sunny Porthcawl and with Andrew Kenneth Keay as sole director. Keay has used the Dawnus name previously for his one-man-band companies, though where he fits in the puzzle remains a mystery.
Another unplaced piece of the puzzle is Legsun Ltd, a company that is heavily in debt and whose directors are, since 14 February 2014, Timothy Alun Lowe, who has served as director with many Dawnus companies and also, since 12 March 2018, Dawnus head honcho Nicholas Charles Down.
The early documents for Legsun are not available with Companies House without payment but we know that the company was started in March 1973, and though it now uses a Cardiff address it was previously using an address in the Pontypool area. I am in no doubt that Legsun is linked with the former Royal Ordnance Factory at Glascoed. Today this site is known as BAE Systems Munitions Glascoed.
Legsun is not a commercial company in the sense that you or I understand that term, because no genuine company could sustain losses on the scale of Legsun’s without going bust. How Legsun links with the collapse of Dawnus I’m not entirely sure. But it does, if only because Legsun’s only directors are also directors of Dawnus companies, and previous Legsun directors also had Dawnus links.
Legsun introduces the first connection with the military-industrial complex.
There are charges outstanding against all these companies with the sole exception of Legsun which, despite having massive debts, was somehow able to satisfy three charges on March 14.
At the time of writing the administration documents aren’t available with Companies House. There’s also the possibility that other companies in the Dawnus stable may yet follow those listed above into receivership.
Another connection with the military-industrial complex – and one I neglected to mention in the two previous pieces – is Thales, the French ordnance manufacturer. Thales has a presence at Stradey Park (Business Centre), Llangennech, owned now by Robert Nigel Lovering.
What Paddy French told us was that the redundant Ministry of Defence site at Llangennech was bought in early 2009 by Carmarthenshire County Council (Prop. M. V. James) and immediately sold on to R & A Properties, an unregistered company.
According to this WalesOnline report from early May 2009 the manner of the deal was justified by ‘the council’ (the aforementioned M .V. James) because the MoD would otherwise have auctioned the site.
The title document for Stradey Park is interesting. Lovering is named as the owner but the money to buy the site seems to have come from three funders: Lloyds Bank plc, the Secretary of State for Defence, and Carmarthenshire County Council.
The title is dated 1 April 2009. It also refers to land detached in 2015 from the title and directs us to the title plan for Stradey Park . . . which is not available on the Land Registry website.
The ‘sale’ was handled by Hugh James Solicitors of Cardiff, official solicitors for the ‘Welsh Government’.
There appear to be further loans, including one from Thales UK Limited.
There are also leases; one is for ten years from 1 April 2009 and covered by title number CYM465605, which again, is unavailable with the Land Registry, perhaps because that lease has now expired. Another, for 25 years from 27.03.2012, is with SSE Micro Renewables (Commercial) Ltd for the lease of air space.
But none of this can be checked because everything is in the name of the individual Robert Nigel Lovering. Who must be well thought of in certain quarters.
There was understandable disquiet over the deal. One councillor was quoted, “No information was given about the firm that will be creating the jobs beyond the fact that it was involved in defence procurement. Neither were we told who was behind R & A Properties, except that they were known to some of the officers.”
Pickering was also reported as saying, “I know some people will find it strange that R&A is not a limited committee (sic), but we’ve been advised to do it this way by our professional advisers”.
It may not have been a limited company but the section below from the year ended 31 March 2016 accounts makes reference to R&A Properties LLP (Limited Liability Partnership); but I can find no such company registered with Companies House. Was it not registered, or registered in some other jurisdiction?
One company I did unearth was R & A Secure Services Ltd, described on the Companies House website as a ‘non-trading company’ with Lovering as sole director. This was launched in September 2012, so chronologically it fits, but how?
The capture below is from the Company Check website. Jacobs can be disregarded, he’s a Company Formation Agent, but who or what is Francis Trust? And where’s Pickering?
The report, about a bit of rumpy pumpy (was he shagging two of his staff!), also tells us that Lancehawk was trading as European Telecom Solutions. So I don’t understand why Lancehawk is still in business and a new company called European Telecom Solutions Ltd was formed 15 November 2017.
By November 2009 the BBC was telling us that Thales UK was to equip or modify Warthog all-terrain armoured vehicles at Llangennech for use in Afghanistan. This is the “blue chip” company we were told about, the justification presumably for the curious purchase arrangements.
So it looks as if Lovering (plus Pickering and Preece?) bought the site specifically to accommodate Thales? (Whatever the answer, R & A Properties now seems to have finally done the decent thing and gone legit, forming R and A Properties Cardiff Ltd last month. Why ‘Cardiff’?)
Some would have us believe that Thales has moved out of Stradey Park, but I can find no report of such a departure, certainly not in the Welsh media. Though I did turn this up in the Herald. It suggests that Thales closed its Llangennech operation – or part of it – in late 2012 or early 2013.
Which might link with reports in February 2012 that Cassidian was moving to Llangennech. Cassidian merged with Airbus Military and Astrium in January 2014 to form Airbus Defence and Space, now a division of Airbus.
This would give us a third connection with the military-industrial complex. Though I can find no evidence of the Cassidian move ever materialising.
Though from a distance there is little documentary or other evidence of either Thales or Airbus having been in Llangennech. Come to that, the whole site might as well be a secret, what with it being owned by an unregistered company, or an individual, there being no website, and Google turning up no recent references to either company being at Llangennech.
Though Google Earth came up trumps with what might be a recent shot, suggesting that Thales is still in situ.
Correction: The Google Earth image I’ve used there is from 2011. I am informed that Thales has long since slung its hook. Why was it not reported in the Welsh media?
UPDATE 23:25: The British Army withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014, which would clearly have reduced the demand for the Warthog All-Terrain vehicles assembled by Thales at Llangennech, and this might explain the closure.
It also suggests that despite all the bullshit and backslapping that attended Thales’ arrival in Llangennech it must have been known that the French visitor was never going to stay and put down roots.
However, this forum posting I stumbled upon suggests that other uses were found for Warthogs: “Jane’s military guide has reported that British Warthog vehicles will be transformed to serve as transporter vehicles for Thales Watchkeeper UAV”. ‘UAV’ being unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone. Which would make perfect sense.
I’m convinced that drones out of Aberporth, or possibly Llanbedr, use darkness and cloud cover to fly up the Dysynni Valley along part of the ‘Mach Loop’. The constant noise can last half an hour or more. And recently I’ve had reports of the same issue around Cydweli, Glanyfferi and out over the sea.
Which means that Thales’ presence is still here, with Watchkeeper drones being transported on Warthog vehicles assembled at Llangennech. Overflying our country . . . and often crashing!
HYDRO INDUSTRIES LTD
On 2 January 2013 Lovering and Preece became directors of Hydro Industries Ltd (originally Watertec Solutions Ltd and then Aggrelek Ltd), with Pickering joining them in November.
Watertec was Incorporated 2 September 2010 on the east side of Swansea, at the Ashmount Business Park . . . within spitting distance of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (at the time known as Dawnus Construction Ltd).
Is this propinquity a coincidence? I think not.
The address for Aggrelek Ltd changed to Stradey Park 13 July 2011, and it became Hydro Industries in December of that year. Hydro Industries becomes another Legsun, in that it seems to operate in a parallel financial universe, being heavily in debt but still able to satisfy charges and generally carrying on as if nothing is amiss.
The founders of Hydro Industries, Philip and Janine Morgan of Gorseinon, presumably had some knowledge of the water industry, to judge by other companies with which they’ve been involved, and certain directors of these companies, such as Chris Stretton.
But I don’t know what knowledge of desalination processes, or water purification and disposal in the third world is possessed by Lovering, Pickering and Preece. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
For almost immediately Lovering, Preece and Pickering had their feet under the Hydro Industries boardroom table things started happening for them on a transatlantic level with First Minister Carwyn Jones jetting across the Pond to put in a word.
Now clearly, if Lovering, Preece and Pickering didn’t join Hydro Industries until January 2013 then they didn’t have time to have arranged the contract with T&T Salvage that was announced by Carwyn Jones in February. In fact, Carwyn Jones seems to have taken Hydro Industries Ltd under his wing. How many other small companies received such treatment?
You’ll see that at No 6 in the list is Airbus. Airbus is also mentioned along with Hydro Industries in the blurb for Carwyn Jones’s 2014 visit to the States. And I’ve seen the connection made elsewhere.
As with Thales locating to Llangennech the T&T contract was arranged by someone else, and Lovering and Preece were put into Hydro Industries to front the deal because they were ‘trusted’ . . . by someone. ‘Someone’ who could also pull Carwyn Jones’s strings.
Though as I told you in the previous post, the three amigos have now been joined (displaced?) by some very glitzy company on the board and among the shareholders of Hydro Industries.
Almost immediately Pickering had joined Lovering and Preece on the Hydro board we saw investment from Diane Briere de L’Isle, David Stevens and Heather Stevens.
As I explained in an earlier piece, Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle is the French wife of Henry Englehardt the American founder of Admiral Insurance. So who are David and Heather Stevens?
They, it turns out, are behind the Waterloo Foundation, a name that some may think unfortunate or insensitive given the involvement of Mme. Englehardt. The Waterloo Foundation was begun in 2007 with a donation of Admiral Group plc shares to the (then) value of £99m.
And it all makes sense, for “clean water” is listed among the charity’s ambitions under ‘World Development‘. Which is why I was surprised not to find Hydro Industries listed under ‘Investments‘ and ‘Wales’ because the Foundation has definitely invested in Hydro.
And after the investment came a series of convoluted share reclassifications and allocations. Diane Marguerite Marie Briere De L’isle is named on the Companies House website as the person ‘with significant control’ from 21 August 2017. Preece, Lovering and Pickering cease to have significant control on the same day.
It’s not inconceivable, given Hydro’s links with Thales, that Mme. Englehardt joined Hydro in order to represent France’s interests.
Certainly Mme. Englehardt became a director of Hydro and appointed others to eventually outnumber the three musketeers. Among these newcomers was Guto Harri, Welsh language journalist and former PR guru for Boris Johnson.
The boys are still there, but maybe just for window dressing.
The links with the British establishment just keep coming, and of course Libbey provides another to the military-industrial complex, such as we find throughout this saga.
Which is easily explained. Major powers exert influence through ‘soft power’, which can mean aid to third world countries that just happen to have valuable natural resources or are of strategic importance.
What could be more caring and philanthropic than providing clean drinking water?
Up until the autumn of 2018 everything seemed to be hunky-dory with Dawnus, Hydro Industries, Swansea University, Thales, Legsun, etc, and there were exciting plans in the pipeline.
Here we are, six months later, and it’s all fallen apart. Perhaps some of those involved were strung along, and once they’d outlived their usefulness they became dispensable.
So what are we left with? Well, there’s Hydro, which I believe to be a ‘front’ company for some agency of the UK state; and then there’s the remains of Dawnus, run by someone who is almost certainly co-operating with the same shadowy elements.
If I’m right, then hundreds of Welsh workers, sub-contractors and suppliers were shafted by the UK Government, which either engineered the collapse of Dawnus or else accepted it as collateral damage. But we’re Welsh, we’re used to being shafted and exploited.
What is unforgivable is that this damage was inflicted on Wales with the support of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ and, especially, that of Carwyn Jones.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
Following on from the previous article, information received justifies a fresh post rather than just an update to the original ‘Dawnus’.
Some of this fresh information gives further support to the theory that much of Dawnus’s tangible assets, in the form of heavy machinery worth millions of pounds, was shipped out to Sierra Leone before Christmas. But it goes much further than that.
Before pushing on let me say that I got something wrong in the previous post (forgiveable, given how many companies and charges are involved). I interpreted this (also below) to be a fresh charge against Dawnus Sierra Leone when in fact it was issued because someone didn’t spell Sierra Leone correctly in the original document!
I’m beginning to realise how busy Dawnus was in different parts of the country. For example, the council on Ynys Môn seems to have relied on Dawnus to a great extent, even for services such as road gritting that we would normally expect to undertaken by the council itself.
So embedded was Dawnus into the council’s structure that last year, when it had already become obvious that Dawnus was in trouble, the council was paying for Dawnus’s supplies as the company’s own accounts were blocked. Despite that, Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn handed Dawnus a two million pound contract to alleviate flooding in Beaumaris. A job that was left unfinished when Dawnus finally collapsed.
The amazing thing perhaps about this whole business is that anyone dealing with Dawnus knew long before the event that the company was in serious financial trouble, so why was Dawnus allowed to limp on?
TRYING TO FOLLOW THE MONEY
This Swansea company that grew from nothing into an international operator with a £200 million annual turnover started to go downhill in 2014/15 after the Ebola outbreak affected its operations in Sierra Leone. At least, that’s the generally accepted theory.
Soon after this Ebola-inspired downturn we see the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, whose Linkedin profile tells us that, “After 30 plus years of working in overseas locations , mainly the Middle East and Canada I am finally returning to work in the UK. Dawnus Construction wish to grow their operations in London and the South East and this represents a new challenge for me.”
He says he joined Dawnus Construction Ltd as director for London and the South East, and his Linkedin profile says this was in October 2015, but Companies House insists Down wasn’t a director of any Dawnus company until 15 April 2016. That was when he joined Dawnus Southern Ltd, Ashbridge Construction Ltd and Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (which had been Dawnus Construction Ltd until 22 October 2013).
Later that year, on 11 November, he became a partner in Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP (resigning 1 October 2018), before joining Dawnus Group Ltd as a director on 15 February 2017.
I don’t know what to make of this discrepancy over his initial involvement because I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t know who they’re working for, or when they started. Though I suppose we have to accept the rest of his Linkedin entry, which tells us he had previously worked for Laing O’Rourke and Carillion.
Linkedin also tells us Down became Dawnus group managing director in January 2018. Before becoming a director of all the other companies in the group 10/12 March 2018. By which time the skids were well and truly greased.
All of which makes Down joining Dawnus a strange career move, unless he was assured that there was a future at Dawnus, maybe a future guaranteed by players keeping a low profile.
Soon after Down took control a Chattel Mortgage was secured from HSBC Bank plc, on 16 March 2018. This was added to seven other charges taken out between August 2017 and February 2018, either with Lloyds Bank or HSBC. These earlier loans were all against land and property owned by the company.
On 28 March two charges were delivered by ‘Welsh Ministers’ against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (DCH). But only one of them appears to have been delivered against other Dawnus companies in the group.
The one specific to DCH being charge number 042305790020, and if we scroll down to page 10, we start a long list of construction site material, much of it heavy and expensive machinery. By the time we get to page 17 we can see that much of this machinery is in Liberia, with some in neighbouring Sierra Leone.
This looks to be exactly the same equipment listed in the HSBC Chattel Mortgage. Which suggests that Dawnus took out a mortgage with HSBC and then, less than two weeks later, the ‘Welsh Ministers’ seemed to ‘cover’ the HSBC loan (or part of it).
This raises a number of issues. To begin with, it might disprove the theory that a great deal of machinery came home from Sierra Leone when Ebola struck in 2014/15. Did it move down the road to Liberia, or was there always equipment in Liberia?
What we know is that more equipment went out from Swansea to west Africa before Christmas. I have now seen photographs and other evidence for these shipments.
And we are talking big money here. Even second-hand machines can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. While a source tells me there’s a thriving export market in second-hand equipment to the land of Uncle Sam, due to the fact that all new machinery sold there must be made in the USA.
The ‘Welsh Government’ is said to have handed over £3.5m, of which two million has been repaid. This was done in early July and the ‘Description of Assets’ would appear to be machines at the Swansea depot, now cleared for export.
But was the ‘Welsh Government’ actually repaid some of the money it was owed, or was it a charade to justify releasing those machines? Perhaps under instructions from a higher authority? Something we’ll consider in a moment.
A FLOCK OF PHOENIX!
In the previous post I told you that since the ‘collapse’ of Dawnus a new company had been formed, called Dawnus International Group Ltd, formed 22 March. Well, it’s already shed the Dawnus name to become DIG International Group Ltd.
I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the original Dawnus Commercial Management folded in June 2015, Keay Cost Value Engineering folded in July, and then Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd was re-born in August.
But that still doesn’t tell us who Keay is, how he fits into the Dawnus picture, and why he uses the name.
Another company I mentioned earlier was Legsun Ltd, where we find Nick Down as director and Timothy Alun Lowe serving as both director and secretary. While not a new company, Legsun had life breathed into a couple of weeks ago when it was able to satisfy three charges with the National Westminster Bank plc.
Quite an achievement for a company that returned a loss of £4,147,000 on turnover of £9,298,000 for year ending 31.12.2017, compared with £1,184,000 and £17,496,000 respectively for the previous year. So how was Legsun able to do it?
These charges were satisfied on the very day it became publicly known that Dawnus had collapsed.
All of which makes it quite obvious that ‘Dawnus’ may have collapsed but certain parts of the group are being hived off to carry on. They may eventually drop the Dawnus name, and will probably be operating overseas.
FLYING THE FLAG?
I am now convinced that the UK government was instrumental in the Dawnus disaster. I believe that Dawnus was propped up – with the help of the ‘Welsh Government’ – for as long as was necessary to prepare things in Africa, then the prop was removed.
Which is a hell of a thing to say, but the evidence is out there. Or rather, as I hope to prove, it’s here, and you’re going to read it.
As I’ve said, everybody knew Dawnus was up Shit Creek, and it’s been known for well over a year, Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn paying Dawnus’ bills is just one example of this. But Dawnus couldn’t be allowed to collapse until things were ready.
The rot had set in some time before that, maybe it was down to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Maybe not. Whatever the truth is, the problems confronting Dawnus, and the company’s resultant vulnerability, probably explain the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down.
Down tells us that he had worked in senior positions overseas for most of his working life, much of it in a sensitive region like the Middle East. He would therefore have had regular contact with the Foreign Office, and perhaps other agencies.
This explains his being sent to Dawnus. The exact manner of his appointment I’m still unsure about, but that doesn’t really matter, what’s important is his background and the timing of his arrival.
For Dawnus was to become a company run at arms-length by the UK government to serve the UK’s strategic interests in another sensitive region, Africa. For while there had been a tendency to ignore sub-Saharan Africa in the post-colonial period recent Chinese investment in the continent had changed all that.
Where’s the evidence?
OK, let’s go back to August last year, when the prime minister Theresa May was in South Africa, and we heard of a ‘Swansea consortium’, involving Dawnus, Swansea University, and Hydro Industries Ltd of Llangennech. (The Uni and Hydro Industries had in fact shacked up in January.)
So who or what is Hydro Industries? Well, it seems to have been a small company, bumping along, under the directorship of David Pickering and a couple of others. That is Dai Pickering formerly of the Welsh Rugby Union, arch-Brit and obsequious royalist.
Pickering, together with Wayne Preece and Robert Lovering, took over the company in January 2013 from its founders. After more than five years of glorious obscurity they were joined on the board in June 2018 by Guto Harri, former BBC journalist and later ‘communications director’ for Boris Johnson.
Why would Tory insider Harri join a small company in Carmarthenshire? What’s more, one in a very poor financial state.
For the most recent accounts for Hydro Industries, up to 31 March 2017, make for grim reading. Yet despite being in such a parlous state the three director still paid themselves £290,489, and also made a political donation of £20,000! (Socialist Workers Party, probably.)
So one minute we have a little company in Carmarthenshire up to its neck in debt, and the next minute it’s attracting rich and influential people, who now control and own the company, with Dai and his mates kept on for appearance’ sake . . . though I’m sure they’re getting well paid for it.
And all this happens at the same time as troubled Dawnus is taken over, hollowed out and asset stripped, with the expensive equipment shipped off to Africa, and once that’s all done Dawnus is allowed to collapse. And we know these events are linked because the prime minister is in RSA pushing a ‘Swansea Consortium’.
Dawnus was kept alive and then put down, throwing Welsh people out of work, leaving Welsh sub-contractors and Welsh suppliers unpaid. Leaving contracts across Wales unfinished, causing misery and disruption to many, many people.
And the ‘Welsh Government’ collaborated enthusiastically in this conspiracy to inflict misery on Welsh people. ‘Welsh’ Labour became a willing party to England’s protection of her post-colonial interests in Africa by doing down, yet again, her first and oldest colony.
This about sums up the Labour Party . . . and devolution . . . and Wales’ relationship with England. When are we going to learn?
♦ end ♦
UPDATE 09:00: Something in the back of my mind told me, ‘Check on Dai Pickering – haven’t you read something somewhere?’ So I did. And I had. Pickering ‘bought’ the Llangennech site where we find Hydro Industries.
Initially Carmarthenshire County Council bought the site from the MoD and sold it on in a ‘no other bidders’ deal to Pickering. Or so it was assumed, but the Land Registry makes clear that the site is actually owned by his partner Robert Lovering.
But Pickering was the perfect door-opener – Oh, Dai Pickering, played for Wales. Tidy boy, mun – what do he wunt?’ And he had debts. But his record as a rugby player and then as a WRU official meant he was perfect for whoever wanted to impress the locals and make use of the Llangennech site.
Among those that took up residence on the Llangennech site was the Prince’s Trust, and wouldn’t you know it – Brigadier Rick Libbey, now Chief Operating Officer of Hydro Industries, “spent four years as the Director of The Prince’s Trust Cymru and Director for South West England”.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
A story that’s taken up a lot of column inches and air time recently is the collapse of contractors Dawnus; which is sad in so many ways; lost jobs, another blow for my home town, and public money down the Swanee. (Or, in this case, the Tawe.) It’s this final consideration that seems to have exercised the minds of our tribunes and our scribblers.
But the interest has been only superficial.
Here’s a piece from the Wasting Mule that seems satisfied to learn that two million pounds from a ‘Welsh Government’ loan of three and a half million has been returned, with the spokesperson confident that they’d soon see the balance.
From reading that article you might get the impression that there’s a single company called Dawnus which received just one loan. The truth is rather different, and quite confusing.
MORE THAN JUST A COMPANY
There are no less than 10 companies bearing the Dawnus name (with another dissolved). Then there are other companies also operating out of Unit 7 Dyffryn Court, Riverside Business Park, Swansea Vale, SA7 0AP, not far from Junction 45 of the M4.
The full list of Dawnus companies with dates of their formation is:
A number of things struck me when compiling that list. First, the sheer number of companies. Second, the way names seem to switch within the group. Third, Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd, why did it dissolve in June 2015 and resurrect in August, with the same director, Andrew Keay?
Come to that, who is Andrew Keay and why is he using the Dawnus name? All I know at the moment is that he also had his own company, Keay Cost Value Engineering Ltd, and this also went belly-up in July 2015.
Then, last Friday, a new company was formed, Dawnus International Group Limited, with its address given as, ‘c/o Acuity Legal Limited, 3 Assembly Square, Britannia Quay, Cardiff CF10 4PL’.
Acuity Law is well-connected in Cardiff Bay, and also with the higher levels of officialdom in Wales. Which explains why they’re lawyers for Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James. And they’ve done a great job of defending – nay, burnishing! – his reputation. Acuity will in no small part be responsible for the outpouring of communal grief that will accompany James’ retirement in June.
Of course most companies begin life using the address of an accountant or a lawyer before changing to a more permanent address, but I just find it significant that in this case it should be Acuity Law.
Now let us turn to loans made to Dawnus. Yes, there’s more than one.
WHO OWES WHAT, AND TO WHOM?
The newspaper article I reproduced above tells us that the Cardiff Bay management team made a loan of £3.5 million to ‘Dawnus’ of which two million has been repaid. So there shouldn’t be much to worry about. Mmm . . .
Except that . . .
Working our way down the list of Dawnus companies in the order seen in the previous section we find two outstanding charges against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd with ‘the Welsh Ministers’, delivered 28.03.2018, both part-cleared 02.07.2018. (Do these part-cleared charges account for the repaid £2m?)
There is one outstanding charge against Dawnus Ltd delivered 28.03.2018.
There is one outstanding charge against the Dawnus Group Ltd, delivered 28.03.2018.
So there are at least three charges.
But we need to be careful because when querying similar charges – with the Development Bank for Wales – for a number of companies run by the same individual, and asking why a company based in London had received funding, I was initially given the ‘group’ answer.
But in the example I was querying there was no group, just many companies run by the same guy, Jimbo Lynch of Cardigan (for it is he!).
And then I checked with Companies House and wondered why alarm bells didn’t ring in Cardiff when this appeared on the document –
Beachbay is a company that has bought and runs property in London, it should never have received funding from what was then Finance Wales. I’m now waiting for another excuse explanation.
It’s obviously much easier to make the ‘group’ argument with Dawnus, but if so, then which is the parent company? And even if the group explanation holds, there are still at least three outstanding charges; two delivered on 28.03.2018, and one on 06.04.2018 to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd.
Though this last one raises the question of whether the Development Bank for Wales should be funding a company that presumably operates in west Africa.
Newspaper and media reports give the impression there is just one company, yet we know there are many using the Dawnus name. This BBC Wales report only confuses matters further by (at the foot) introducing a company called Dawnus Liberia, which I can’t find anywhere.
Though an internet search for Dawnus Liberia turned up this article which mentions Legsun Building Services. The company is actually called Legsun Ltd, and is based in Cardiff. When I checked the Legsun directors I saw the names Timothy Alun Lowe and Nicholas Charles Down, names I recognised from the Dawnus companies.
Apart from the LLP all the companies have charges against them – or are covered by the group charge – held by ‘the Welsh Ministers’ and delivered 28.03.2018, just two weeks after Down became a director for most of them.
Let us return to Legsun for a moment, where we found both Lowe and Down serving as directors. The accounts to 31.12.2017 record a loss of £4,147,000 on turnover of £9,298,000, compared with £1,184,000 and £17,496,000 respectively for the previous year.
Yet despite apparently being up Shit Creek, Legsun was able to settle three charges on March 14 with the National Westminster Bank, the very day it was announced that Dawnus was in administration. Did the money come from Dawnus Group Ltd, as is suggested in the extract below from the accounts?
And if so, was it simply moving money beyond the reach of creditors, or was there something else going on?
Nicholas Charles Down first appears in April 2016 as a director of three companies – Dawnus Southern, Dawnus Construction Holdings and Ashbridge Construction. In November we find him as one of the original designated members of Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP. He joins Dawnus Group Ltd in February 2017, and finally, as we’ve just seen, he becomes director of a whole raft of companies in March 2018, including Legsun.
So who is Nicholas Charles Down? Well, here’s his Linkedin profile which tells us that before joining Dawnus he was managing director of Laing O’Rourke for three and a half years.
You’ll note that Down’s Linkedin profile says he became a director of ‘Dawnus Construction Ltd’ in October 2015, but that name was not used after October 2013; Companies House tells us he became a director of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd 15.04.2016.
How do we account for this discrepancy? Was he there ‘undercover’ from October 2015 before becoming a registered director in April 2016? It’s possible, because according to his Linkedin profile he left his previous post at Laing O’Rourke in June 2015.
Though I can’t find Down listed as a director for any Laing O’Rourke company.
This work was badly hit by the outbreak of Ebola, which began in January 2014. As a result of which a great deal of heavy machinery was shipped back to Wales and parked up in the Dawnus yard in Clydach.
One source insists that this heavy equipment accounted for a considerable part of the Dawnus group’s assets.
About a week ago someone popped down to the yard and mooched around a bit. It seems there’s a new security firm from Carmarthen on site and so the guard he spoke with couldn’t tell him much. But my mate wandered around, looked through the fence and estimated that the yard had room for a hundred or so sizeable machines, but there were only five there. It was clear that many of the spaces had recently been vacated.
Perhaps the intention always was that this equipment would return to Africa, and that’s what I’m told happened towards the end of last year when almost all the equipment was shipped out again, presumably back to Sierra Leone.
Which means that at a time when everybody – including suppliers, sub-contractors and ‘Welsh Government’ – knew that Dawnus was in deep, deep trouble, big money assets were leaving the country.
But was Peter being robbed to pay Paul? Or to put it bluntly, could the loan in April – that no one seems to talk about – have funded the part-repayment in July?
This almost certainly links to the one constant in the Dawnus media reports, which say UK work has stopped but ‘overseas operations will continue’, or that only group companies operating in the UK are in the hands of the receivers.
But with a Byzantine structure like the Dawnus group of companies who knows what’s what? Does the ‘Welsh Government’ know which companies are in receivership? For nothing is filed yet with Companies House to say that any Dawnus company is in receivership.
TRYING TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
If Sierra Leone and Ebola were the undoing of Dawnus, then the problems started at the beginning of 2014. But in fairness, Dawnus didn’t just cut and run; no, the company stayed and helped fight the outbreak. And the UK Government also sent help, including military personnel.
Let’s put together a little timeline to help us make sense of the events leading up to the Dawnus collapse and subsequent happenings:
Up to 2013 things seem to be going well, at home and in Africa
January 2014, Ebola outbreak begins in Sierra Leone
Heavy equipment is moved from Sierra Leone to Wales
The company’s financial health starts to suffer
Late 2015/early 2016, Nick Down appears
March 2018, the ‘Welsh Ministers’ loan Dawnus £3m
April 2018, there is a further loan specific to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd
From August/September 2018 Dawnus becomes noticeably slower in paying suppliers and sub-contractors
From September 2018, it is reported that heavy equipment is leaving Swansea for Sierra Leone.
March 13/14 2019, it is announced that Dawnus is in the hands of receivers
March 14, 2019, loss-making Legsun satisfies three charges
March 22, Dawnus International Group Ltd registered with Companies House
So what does that tell us? To begin with, it doesn’t tell us how or why – or at whose request? – Nicholas Charles Down got involved with Dawnus. One source is adamant that everything started to go pear-shaped with his arrival. Though I suspect that the writing was on the wall and Down was brought it to sort things out.
Turning to the ‘Welsh Ministers’. It’s obvious that their loan (or loans) is linked with Down taking control of so many companies in March 2018. It’s equally clear that this was never going to be enough to save the Dawnus group, it was just enough money to keep it limping along for a while.
Long enough for Dawnus to be restructured and the heavy equipment moved back to Africa. Though the ‘Welsh Government’ must have been aware of this, for it almost certainly explains the further loan, in April 2018, to Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd. Should this loan have ever been made?
Among the known unknowns is new company Dawnus International Group Ltd, for the directors are names previously associated with the Dawnus group. So is the new company challenging the new regime?
Whatever street-fighting may still be going on in the ruins of Dawnus this whole business reflects very badly on the ‘Welsh Government’. For Dawnus was a major Welsh company and serious investment might have saved the group, but the miserably inadequate contribution made only delayed the inevitable. And the ‘Welsh Government’ knew that when it made the loans.
When I think of the money showered on every crook and chancer who crosses the border with a half-baked idea scrawled on the back of a fag packet it makes me angry to see that nothing was done to save a major Welsh company already in business, with good contracts, providing work for hundreds of our people.
Instead, the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ appears to have encouraged, facilitated, and perhaps funded, the demise of Dawnus. The only question remaining is, was this done through malice or incompetence?
At the end of the day, for all those who’ve suffered, does it really matter?
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
THE TOWN I LOVED SO WELL
As you’re probably aware, I am a native of Swansea; as it says on my Twitter profile, “A Jack by blood, birth, upbringing and inclination”. Despite having spent most of my life away from the city it remains my home town, it’s where my roots lie, and it’s where my heart will ever be. (Cue violins.)
When I was very young Swansea was still pulling itself together after being knocked about by the Luftwaffe, and despite the disastrous rebuilding of the centre we kids accepted it – ‘modern, see’. Of course, our parents and grandparents missed the old town, Ben Evans department store (‘the Harrods of Wales’) and all the rest.
And as Dylan Thomas reminds us in Return Journey, so much else was gone, including the famous Kardomah cafe, where he had ‘argued the toss’ with Vernon Watkins, Dan Jones, Arthur Janes and the rest of the gang.
On the economic front, the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s were pretty good, you could tell the boss to F— Off on Friday and find a fresh job on Monday.
Despite what Turks and other disbelievers might say, we had the best rugby team in Wales; in summer, Glamorgan could pull 20,000 to St Helen’s, and in football, well, most of the 1958 World Cup team came from Swansea, and if Big John hadn’t been hacked out by the Hungarians in the previous game we would have beaten Brazil and won the competition.
Obviously there was some disappointment when in 1955 Cardiff was named capital, but we soon got over it because what did the title mean in practical terms? So we shrugged and continued to enjoy being the pre-eminent sub-species.
But since the 1980s it’s been noticeably downhill for Swansea in just about every conceivable sphere. And devolution has only made things worse.
BALLS, AND PLAYING SILLY BUGGERS
I’ve mentioned St Helen’s Rugby and Cricket Ground (to give it its full name), which opened in 1873 and held Wales’ first-ever home rugby international in 1882. It hosted rugby internationals until 1954. I suppose some might say that Swansea’s decline began when it lost rugby international games to Cardiff. For Swansea’s loss is invariably Cardiff’s gain.
Since losing rugby international matches in 1954 St Helen’s has also lost Glamorgan CCC games to the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, where crowds are smaller than they were at St Helen’s. So the move would appear to make no economic sense, but that’s to miss the point, for the Swalec Stadium was built so that Cardiff can host England games. Yes, honestly. This of course brings money into the city, but with collateral damage in the loss of our national cricket team.
A loss the political and business leaders of Cardiff consider a price worth paying. Which tells us a number of things, among them that it’s not simply Swansea that loses out to Cardiff’s insatiable greed and self-aggrandisement.
Of course, some of Swansea’s wounds are self-inflicted. The city centre is a disaster area. The planning of traffic movement, one-way systems, pedestrianisation and the rest could have been handed over to a bunch of ten-year-olds forty years ago and today they could be showing their adult children around the city with pride – because they couldn’t have done a worse job than successive city administrations. Administrations that, with all-too-brief interludes, have been Labour.
The most recent such interlude was from 2004 until 2012 when the Liberal Democrat-led Swansea Administration ran the council in coalition with assorted others. In 2004 Plaid Cymru had five councillors, the group led by Darren Price, but refused to join the coalition, deluding itself it held the balance of power and could therefore dictate things. Which didn’t work out, so towards the end Price was having regular and quite open meetings with David ‘Il Duce‘ Phillips, the Labour leader, and ‘Rocking’ Rene Kinzett, local Tory hetman.
This unholy alliance eventually triumphed and Il Duce was restored to power in 2012, carried aloft by a crowd of thousands marching down the Mumbles Road singing the Red Flag interspersed with throaty renditions of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. (OK, I made that bit up.)
In the elections of 2008 Plaid Cymru went down to one seat, and since 2012 it has had none. Darren Price crossed over and sold his soul to Beelzebub. (Trans: is a councillor in Carmarthenshire serving His Omnipotence Mark James.) Today Plaid Cymru barely exists in Swansea. Some ‘Party of Wales’, eh?
That said, not all the wounds were self-inflicted, and not when it comes to the state of the city centre. For long before the rise of internet shopping started doing its damage Swansea’s city centre was being undermined by out-of-town shopping, though as I say, this time the council was not entirely to blame.
Certainly not when it came to the Swansea Enterprise Park on the east side of the River Tawe, overlooked by Bonymaen and Llansamlet, the first and largest Enterprise Zone (as it originally was) in the UK, covering some 735 acres. Planned for light manufacturing and warehousing retailing was given the green light by Nicholas Edwards, Secretary of State for Wales under Margaret Thatcher until 1987.
Major stores and other retail outlets locating to the Enterprise Park certainly hurt the city centre, but then, Edwards couldn’t be bothered with that, because he had bigger fish to fry. For Nicholas Edwards was a man with big plans for Cardiff through the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, set up by him to pump public money into land owned by Associated British Ports, of which he just happened to be the leading director.
This, perhaps the biggest single rip-off of public funding in Welsh history, is detailed in Corruption Bay, a document I compiled almost 20 years ago, but the facts, and the interpretations, still hold up.
DEVOLUTION – SHAFTED AGAIN!
Corruption Bay also explains why our Notional Assembly came to be located in Cardiff Bay – for the benefit of Associated British Ports, and as a ‘consolation prize’ for the opera house was that was never built. For among the countless ‘hats’ worn by Nick Edwards were director of the Welsh National Opera and chairman of the Cardiff Bay Opera Trust.
Even though Cardiff Bay eventually won the Assembly Swansea Guildhall was the only site that met the criteria on value for money and availability set out by Secretary of State Ron Davies in the search for a home for the new institution after negotiations over Cardiff City Hall – the assumed location for the Assembly – collapsed. But once again, Swansea was done down by certain influencers in Cardiff. (Explained in Corruption Bay.)
This competition ‘won’ by Swansea seems to have been written out of recent Welsh history; but then, as Churchill said, history is written by the victors, and what passes for the ‘Welsh media’ is the voice of Cardiff. (Fortunately, the subterranean and bomb-proof Jo’tN archives contain a library of newspaper articles from the period.)
After the ‘competition’ was launched, and as the terrifying prospect of the Assembly being housed in Swansea sunk in, the Western Mail and the rest of the ‘Welsh media’ went into hyper-drive, even accusing politicians and civil servants of leaning on Ron Davies to favour Swansea, as this ludicrous article from 3 March 1998 spells out.
Yes, Rachel Lomax, then top civil servant at the Welsh Office, had been born in Swansea; and yes, there was something odd and unconvincing about her spat with council leader Russell Goodway over leasing Cardiff City Hall; but there was never any danger of the Assembly not being in Cardiff, but it was going to the Bay, for the benefit of Nick Edwards and his mates in Associated British Ports.
Which meant that the real beneficiaries of a National Assembly for Wales were a bunch of Tories who had always opposed devolution. They laughed all the way to their banks. (Which were probably offshore.)
How energetically Swansea’s case was argued by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ is anyone’s guess. If I had to put money on it, I’d say the response was, ‘OK, fair enough, we’ll pass the message on’.
Even after the disappointment of electrification and the tidal lagoon there were still bright spots in the gloom. Among them, the growing reputation of Swansea University, and its increasingly lucrative spin-offs.
Now I won’t deny that the Wellness Village project may be the ultimate vanity project; and maybe the University’s involvement should have appeared more institutional than personal; but at the same time, I can imagine certain interests in Cardiff jumping at the opportunity to take Swansea University down a peg or two. And the ‘Welsh Government’ was only too happy to assist.
Vice-Chancellor Richard Davies has been replaced by Paul Boyle, an uninspiring Englishman who is “looking forward to being back by the sea!” – is he going paddling? No doubt Boyle is under instructions to rein in Swansea’s ambition and not get ideas above his University’s ordained station (below Cardiff in any rankings that matter).
UPDATE 13.03.2019: Just one day after I published this post the Western Mail, which used to be known as Llais y Sais (voice of the English), and could more correctly be re-named Llais Caerdydd (voice of Cardiff), published another piece it hoped would reflect badly on Swansea University. The unmistakeable message in the unattributed article is that these donations are ‘irregular’, perhaps dirty money.
AND THEN THERE’S THE WELSH RUGBY UNION
It’s difficult to know where to start with this section, because rarely, even in the history of Wales, have so many been pissed off by so few. The few in question belong to the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and something called the Professional Rugby Board. Few would have heard of the PRB until last week.
For it was last week we heard that the WRU intended forcing through a merger of the Ospreys (the West Glamorgan region) and the Scarlets, the Llanelli super club. Not only that, but we also learnt that the WRU had previously tried to force through a ‘merger’ of the Ospreys with Cardiff Blues, another club that rejected regional rugby back in 2003.
No matter on which level we consider this, or from which angle we approach it, these proposed ‘mergers’ are insane. The Ospreys are Wales’s most successful rugby outfit yet the WRU wants to do away with them.
And then, how drunk do you have to be to think that Swansea rugby fans, having seen their team killed off, would travel the 40-odd miles to support Cardiff?
And when it comes to the takeover by Llanelli Scarlets, the WRU’s argument is that the Ospreys are broke while the Scarlets are in rude financial health. Llanelli Scarlets were for a long time kept afloat by the WRU, then Carmarthenshire County Council – Mark James again – took over the life-support system and poured in millions of pounds of council taxpayers’ money.
Not only that, but all manner of imaginative special arrangements were dreamed up by Mark James to keep Llanelli Scarlets, and their white elephant stadium, afloat. Because Parc y Scarlets has never been financially viable. Whereas the Ospreys have no such worries because they share the Liberty Stadium with the Swans.
Mark James retires in June, and when he’s gone those who have cowered in his shadow this many a year may grow cojones and start questioning some of his decisions. Not least why Carmarthenshire County Council has written off millions of pounds owed to the people of Carmarthenshire by Llanelli Scarlets. And why revenue was lost in ‘concessions’ and all manner of questionable arrangements.
But anyone, in the Welsh Rugby Union, or anywhere else, who thinks that Llanelli Scarlets is a financial success story must be relying on the kind of accountants who appear on this blog . . . and often appear before a judge and jury.
Looking east, the WRU owns Newport Dragons, the least successful of our four ‘regions’. Newport is the same distance from Cardiff as Llanelli is from Swansea, so why not merge Cardiff and Newport into a South East region, and have them play at a new stadium to be built in Pontypridd or Pontypool? For neither Cardiff nor Newport has made any serious attempt to engage with their Valleys’ hinterlands. Making a mockery of ‘regional rugby’.
Another aspect is that these absurd mergers were proposed because the WRU wants a new region in the north. Back in 2003, when regional rugby was being discussed, David Moffett, then group CEO of the Welsh Rugby Union, proposed four regions: North, West (Llanelli, Swansea, Neath and others playing in Swansea), South (Cardiff, Pontypridd, Bridgend and the Central Valleys), and East (Gwent).
Llanelli, Cardiff and Newport refused to become regions but called themselves regions anyway, and the WRU caved in. Swansea and Neath merged to form the Ospreys, a genuine region, and they are now being rewarded with oblivion.
Whatever the WRU’s grand plan may have been – and I’m being generous in assuming there is, or was, a coherent plan – viewed from Swansea this looks like just another Cardiff-based organisation doing Swansea down.
And if the WRU has its way and destroys the Ospreys then a new rugby entity will almost certainly emerge in Swansea and may have no alternative but to affiliate to the English Rugby Football Union. Is that really what those clowns in the WRU and the PRB want?
MAKING SENSE OF IT
Sticking with the Welsh Rugby Union for a minute, nothing surprises me when it comes to that BritNat-Masonic outfit, forever fawning over English royals, with its ludicrous feathers badge. Other countries have emblems representing the country and its people, Wales has one representing an individual claiming to be ‘Prince of Wales’ who has as much claim to the title as my cat.
Looking back to 1955 and the announcement that Cardiff was the official capital of Wales, maybe the rot set in for Swansea then, for it was obvious that, being more convenient for England, all manner of agencies would base themselves in Cardiff. Since then it’s been a drip-drip effect.
Devolution should have ‘evened things out’, but instead it’s made them worse, and not just for Swansea but for every part of Wales other than Cardiff. It used to be said – I heard it back in the 1970s – that devolution would simply give us ‘Glamorgan County Council on stilts’. Devolution has actually given us Cardiff City Council on steroids.
The reason devolution has failed ninety per cent of Wales economically is that concentrating everything in Cardiff has made it easier for bodies concerned only with Cardiff to influence decisions for Wales. For example, I guarantee that the denizens of the Cardiff and County Club have more influence on the economic life of Swansea than Swansea council and all the politicians the Swansea region sends to Cardiff Bay and Westminster combined. And that influence is malign.
And Swansea has no independent voice to speak up for her. The Evening Post, once Wales’s biggest selling daily ‘paper (it may still be), is now printed in England and censored in Cardiff, and losing readers fast; partly because it refuses to criticise the Labour Party, whether in County Hall or Cardiff Bay.
And all the while, thanks to this combination of Labour ineptitude, the lack of an effective media, and Cardiff pushing to become a major provincial city on a par with Bristol or Leeds, Swansea and the rest of the country must pay the price.
Poor old Swansea!
♦ end ♦
UPDATE 15.03.2019: From today’s Western Mail. BBC Radio Wales is dropping Mal Pope of Swansea from its schedules and it looks as if it’s also closing the historic Alexandra Road studios from where Dylan Thomas broadcast.
Another bumper issue, another mixed bag for you to enjoy; bits and pieces from hither and yon, Ynys Môn to New Zealand, and both sides of the Tawe. You can either take them one at a time or you can gorge yourself.
Go on! you know you want to.
SWANSEA, MY SWANSEA!
An old mate back in the city of my dreams, who served for decades as a councillor, once told me a curious tale about Labour councillors having to give up 10% of their allowance (i.e. salary) to the party every month – or else the heavies would be sent round.
He himself learnt this from someone who had broken free from the Labour Party and gone straight.
I’m told this system of ‘dues’ may have been introduced in Swansea a while back, when the boss was that man of destiny, he who enthralled the crowds from the Guildhall balcony – David ‘Il Duce’ Phillips, who I’m sure you’ll all remember.
Now your bog standard Labour councillor in Swansea gets £13,000 a year, but capos and under-bosses get a lot more, while the capo di tutti capi, currently Rob Stewart, is on £53,000.
Then the allowances increase for sitting on various committees, plus there’s travelling allowance, phone bills are paid, etc., etc. The point is that the Labour Party gets a lot of money every year from its own councillors. In Swansea the figure is well over £70,000.
Eventually my mate, Ioan Richard, got in touch with the Wales Audit Office to enquire about this curious method of extortion voluntary donations. The response he received last week said:
“Further to your email of 14 December 2018, I have met with officers of the Council to discuss your concern regarding payments made by Swansea Council to the Labour Party on behalf of some local authority members.
I can confirm that the practice you refer to is a long-standing one. However, Council officers have informed me that having now given due consideration to this matter, it is their intention to end the practice of making payments to the Labour Party (or any other political party) on behalf of local authority members with effect from April 2019.
May I take the time to thank you for taking the time to raise your concern with us.”
A few questions come to mind. Three, I suppose.
Why should officials of the council, employed to serve the city of Swansea in a non-political way, be forced to manage these donations, thereby spending council time doing what is obviously of benefit only to the Labour Party?
If this practice is widespread in Wales then the Labour Party could be getting over one million pounds every year from its councillors. So should the Labour Party be siphoning off money for itself from the public purse?
And if Labour councillors can afford to give up 10% of their allowances then why do we pay them so much?
Another idol of the Jack masses – well, perhaps not – is the MP for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris, of whom I have often written. Harris made the news a few years back when she attacked a co-worker in the constituency office of the then MP for Swansea East Siân James.
She made it into the public prints more recently when the ‘I’ll-get-you-you-cow!’ accusation of theft she had laid against her victim fell apart at Newport Crown Court.
Harris may have her own constituency party tied down but in the neighbouring constituency of Swansea West there was a less than comradely motion discussed recently. It came in three parts.
The first part noted that the evidence given at the Newport trial raised questions about Harris’s fitness to hold the position of Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour.
The second part urged support for the elected members of Labour’s Welsh Executive Committee (WEC) who have asked what processes were used by the party to address concerns about Harris.
The third part asked the Swansea West Constituency Labour Party (CLP) to refrain from inviting Carolyn Harris to CLP events until the WEC members had satisfactory explanations.
The first two parts were carried. The third removed by amendment.
On we go to Gower, Swansea’s third constituency, wherein dwells Ioan Richard. His local MP is former rugby international Tonia Antoniazzi.
Now Ioan is the kind of bloke who asks awkward questions, and challenges conventional wisdom, a species with which I identify but one far too rare in Wales. Inevitably, he has asked awkward questions of Ms Antoniazzi – who has blocked him and now ignores him entirely.
I know ‘Welsh’ Labour is very tribal, and sensitive to criticism, but someone should tell Antoniazzi that she represents not just those giving her a clear run to the line but also those wanting to tackle her.
WELSH NOT 2019
A story that recently made the news was of care home staff in Ystradgynlais being told by their employer not to speak Welshamong themselves. That’s because their employer thought ‘it was “unacceptable” for clients to overhear staff speaking in a language they do not understand’.
Now this is Ystradgynlais, or more specifically, Cwm-twrch Isaf, at the top of the Swansea Valley, where almost everyone other than recent arrivals to the area speaks or understands Welsh. So if the residents at the Isfryn care home, owned by the Accomplish Group of Birmingham (formerly Tracs Ltd), are unfamiliar with the Welsh language then they’re obviously not from the area, so where are they from?
There seems to be no leasehold arrangement registered with the Land Registry so I can only assume that Accomplish rents Isfryn from Link Administration Holdings or else manages Isfryn for the Australian company. (If anyone out there is aware of the exact relationship, please get in touch.)
You’ll have noticed that on the title document the property is known as Glynderwen, but I suppose the name changed to Isfryn because there’s another Glynderwen down the valley in Clydach. This would have posed no problem in days gone by, but the Clydach Glynderwen is also a ‘home’ of some kind run by Aston Care Ltd of Reading.
As I said in a recent post: “In our rural areas, and increasingly in our post-industrial areas, (our) poverty is made worse year on year by England shipping in its problem cases via a host of organisations you’ve never heard of.”
To facilitate this social cleansing substantial properties can be snapped up in the Swansea Valley for a third of what they’d cost in the Thames Valley. Properties ideal for small care homes.
Which explains why we have Australian companies, English companies, English care home residents, with Welsh involvement limited to minimum-wage jobs in which staff are banned from speaking Welsh.
And, almost certainly, there’s Welsh public money involved somewhere.
This is how a collaborationist form of socialism manages a colony. It can delude itself that by facilitating such a situation it is both ‘caring’ and creating jobs. This mindset is not limited to the Labour Party.
I wish to God we had politicians asking the right questions about places like Isfryn. Questions such as . . .
Where are the residents from?
Who’s paying for their care?
If they’re from outside of Wales (and being unfamiliar with the Welsh language suggests they are) then is their home local authority making a contribution to the Welsh NHS?
Why are we allowing or encouraging such places to be set up in Wales?
In 2019 who the fuck has the right to tell Welsh people they mustn’t speak Welsh?
In a nutshell, a company called Camp Valour CIC says it wants to take over 19th century Fort Hubberston in Milford Haven and use it as a rehabilitation centre for ex-service personnel.
The problem is that Camp Valour has been making ludicrous claims and telling outright lies. Many of these lies concern Major Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen, who I – in my ignorance – had assumed was Sean Keven Patrick Pullen, director of failed company Baron Security (UK) Ltd, based in the same building at Hawarden airport as Camp Valour, but no – they’re twins!
That they’re never seen in the same room together is due to the fact that Keven drifted off to Gibraltar at the same time as Lucian appeared on the scene. But it had nothing – absolutely nothing! – to do with Keven deciding to call himself Fabian.
Or at least, that’s the story according to Camp Valour’s Chief Operations Officer, Nicola – ‘Don’t tell him, Pike!’ – Wilcox.
The Major’s military credentials were also called into question, but Nicola explained that his army record couldn’t be checked because he had served under his mother’s name. (Which would have made him the only Cynthia in the Parachute Regiment!) But is that legal? We’re dealing with the British army not the French Foreign Legion.
But now, the major, a hardened 25-year veteran, who (we were told) saw many conflicts, has taken offence at a few reasonable questions and gone into hiding, to be replaced by someone as yet unnamed. Perhaps it’ll be Sebastian, the third of the Pullen triplets, just returned from Syria where he led an all-female unit of Kurdish fighters against ISIS.
As a spokesperson Nicola does a wonderful job, making everything so clear. For after Ms Wilcox’ ‘clarification’ I am more convinced than ever that we are dealing with shameless shysters of the Walter Mitty variety.
Oh, yes, and I can look forward to another solicitor’s letter to add to my collection . . . if we are to believe Nicola Wilcox. Would you?
As might be expected, the Camp Valour gang has attracted considerable attention in Pembrokeshire. This is what the Western Telegraph had to say (with some interesting comments). While below you can read the report from the Pembrokeshire Herald.
Pembrokeshire councillor Mike Stoddart was also on good form on his ‘Old Grumpy’ blog.
Someone who knows of such things has told me that the SAS is always referred to as ‘The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment’, and presenting an SAS beret to someone who hadn’t earned it is never done.
Something that obviously puzzled me was the name change to Faversham-Pullen. A common reason is marriage, so had he married a Miss Faversham? I could find no evidence for that, so why Faversham?
Something I turned up made me pause, and wonder if it offers a clue. Read it for yourself. Chronologically, the fit is perfect, but I’m not sure what to make of it.
Naturally I checked with various bodies to see if the gang had secured any moolah.
The county council only became aware of the project from a media report! Though it did receive a copy of the business plan – from Milford Haven town council. This plan mentioned Armed Forces Community Covenant funding; on reading this, Dan Shaw, the council’s Liaison Officer for the Armed Forces, contacted Nicola Wilcox, only to be told that this was a ‘mistake’ and that this funding was not being applied for.
Just another lie that was put in the business plan to impress people, and withdrawn when queried. I cannot see the ‘Major’ and his gang applying for such funding because too many awkward questions would be asked.
I have submitted an FoI to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ and await a reply.
Fort Hubberston is owned by the Port of Milford Haven, so I also wrote to that body. In response I was sent a brief statement issued on February 20th by Claire Stowell, Director of Property, which read: “The Port of Milford Haven has a short term agreement with Camp Valour which allows them to develop full proposals for Hubberston Fort. We will review those arrangements with Camp Valour in due course.”
I have to confess that I cannot get out of my head a suspicion that the copyright for the Fort Hubberston plan may not belong entirely to Phipps and Pullen. For I note some interesting characters among the senior management at PMH, with backgrounds in business and property development.
If I’m right, then this might explain the confusing entry on the Companies House website, where Camp Valour’s ‘nature of business’ reads, “Recreational vehicle parks, trailer parks and camping grounds”.
Somebody may have slipped up and told the truth, for once.
STOP PRESS! A ‘solicitor’s letter’ arrived just before I put out this post. It was signed ‘Alex McCready’, and there is indeed a lawyer of that name, but I’m not convinced she sent this.
To begin with, it came as a personal e-mail, not an e-mail with an attached letter. There was no company logo or contact details and it came from a Yahoo address! There were spelling mistakes and incorrect use or absence of the possessive apostrophe. Finally, I know from experience how solicitors write letters of this kind.
I shall of course be bringing this desperate attempt to silence me to the attention of the real Alex McCready.
UPDATE 10:35: I have now spoken with Alex McCready and confirmed that she did not send the e-mail. At her request the content of the e-mail is no longer available, Ms McCready will be making her own enquiries into what I interpret to be an assault on her reputation.
EMRYS IS ON HIS WAY!
I was in Carmarthen not so long ago to meet a fascinating guy from Swansea (but, then, aren’t all Jacks fascinating?). We talked of this and that, that and this, and he told me of a Welsh exile in New Zealand who had created Emrys the dragon, who will soon be on his way to Wales.
I have paraphrased the information I’ve subsequently been sent.
‘Artist Julia O’Sullivan is from Caehopkin in the Swansea Valley but has lived in Te Aroha, New Zealand for 12 years.
Emrys was inspired by the Huw Edwards’ BBC series, ‘The Story of Wales’. Emrys honours many Welsh people and includes 960 hand-beaten and enamelled copper scales. Some 750 of them etched with the names of Welsh celebrities.
Emrys is made of metals significant in Welsh history, stands on a Welsh slate base in the shape of Wales, with the legs representing pit-head winding gear. Emrys also contains 29 oil paintings, each telling a story – among them the Rebecca Riots, Aberfan, the Mabinogion, Hywel Dda and Owain Glyndŵr.
Emrys is 2.8m high by 3m wide, weighs 200kg and took 22 months to complete.
A special container has been being built and transportation home has now been arranged. Emrys will depart with a youth choir singing the traditional Maori farewell ‘Po Atarau’. A grand welcome awaits both Emrys and Julia on their arrival in Swansea.’
Emrys will be en route to Swansea in just over a week, and when he arrives he will take up the offer of temporary accommodation at the university. (Let’s hope he doesn’t get involved with the Wellness Village or he’ll be helping Plod with their enquiries and then it’ll be the next boat back.)
Emrys is seeking a permanent home in Wales, so we’re open to suggestions. No post cards this time, let’s have comments to the blog or responses on social media.
MORE LABOUR-STYLE ‘DEMOCRACY’
As you probably know, Plaid Cymru beat Labour to win the Ely by-election in Cardiff last Thursday. But because Neil McEvoy was highly influential in the campaign the militant feminist and niche politics elements in the party have had trouble bringing themselves to congratulate new councillor Andrea Gibson.
The best that could be extracted from an eco-friendly, gender-fluid Plaid spokesperson wearing a T-shirt reading ‘Save Socialist Venezuela From Capitalist Foreign Aid’ was, ‘Ely! Ely! Isn’t that in Cambridgeshire?’ When it was pointed out that there was a Cardiff neighbourhood of the same name, the spokesperson admitted ‘We really aren’t interested in such places’.
Further west there was better news for Labour in an election that got less publicity than the Ely contest. This was the by-election in the Mynyddygarreg ward of Cydweli town council. Though I did mention Labour candidate Beryl Williams in a recent post.
And Beryl won, but what was so curious and disturbing about the result was that of the 330 votes ‘cast’ 220 were postal or proxy votes. Beryl got 191 votes to her Independent rival’s 139 and the great majority of her votes were proxy and postal votes.
For I’m told that Beryl, following her defeat in a by-election last year, was well prepared this time, and stalked the ward armed with sheaves of postal vote registration forms, which of course she is perfectly entitled to fill in for elderly and other voters to sign.
And let’s not forget those – and to quote from Beryl’s own election material – who are helping turn Cydweli into “an autism and dementia friendly town”. Achieved by the third sector importing people with autism, dementia and other conditions who are then accommodated by housing associations.
So Beryl was elected thanks to Labour’s control of the third sector and care homes and the kind of extra burden being laid on Wales that we saw at Isfryn in Cwm-twrch Isaf.
I do hope that ‘Welsh’ Labour hasn’t adopted the old Ulster Unionist tactic of personation that exhorted supporters to ‘Vote early, vote often!’ Or perhaps in this case, ‘Don’t bother voting – I’ll do it for you!’
You’ll have read that the company involved is called Anglesey Homes, so I went to the Companies House website to check. First I found an Anglesey Homes Limited which went belly-up in January 2017. But there’s also an Anglesey Homes Ltd, which was Incorporated 16 November 2018.
Someone has been clever and re-used the name. Perfectly legal because the old company was ‘Limited’ and the new one is ‘Ltd’.
Anglesey Homes Ltd has a website that gives information on its projects but nothing about who runs the company, no company number, and not even a postal address. Companies House tells us that Anglesey Homes Ltd is based at Chester Business Park and shares an address with a number of other companies, with the sole director being Emma Elizabeth Scott.
So who is Emma Elizabeth Scott, this major player in the Ynys Môn holiday homes market? She was born in July 1969 and has in the past three years formed a number of companies. Here’s a list I’ve compiled, though it might be incomplete:
At first sight it would appear that we have here a woman in her late forties who suddenly throws herself into a business career with 12 new companies. And she’s the sole director of most of them.
And because they are all so new there’s little or no paperwork to see. This is certainly the case with Anglesey Homes Ltd, the company that claims to be behind the holiday homes at Rhosneigr.
Far more likely is that Emma Elizabeth Scott is fronting for someone. The county council – and indeed anyone else – is therefore entitled to ask Ms Scott who she’s fronting for, and why that person/those persons wish to remain in the shadows.
We are also entitled to ask Ms Scott where the money is coming from.
For as I have made clear on this blog, and explained with examples, a great deal of dirty money from northern England is being ‘washed’ in the property market and the tourism rackets of northern Wales.
I’m not suggesting that Anglesey Homes Ltd is using dirty money, but it’s always nice to be sure.
Although it’s still 2018, in this post I look forward to the year ahead.
Already, at Westminster, we see chaos and in-fighting in both major parties, though there is within the Conservative Party an element that knows where it wants to take us. Maybe the question is how big this element is and how much support it has within the wider establishment and elsewhere.
Here in Wales we also see chaos, infused with hopelessness. For after twenty years of managing decline the Labour Party has given up all pretence at serving Wales and elected Mark Drakeford as ‘leader’. Apart from Neil McEvoy there seems to be no effective opposition to the slow drift towards greater deprivation and ultimately assimilation.
The latter may even be offered as a solution to the former – for as we’ll hear, ‘devolution has obviously failed Wales’. Many, unable to differentiate between the Labour Party and devolution, will agree with that.
Beyond the chambers of government politics is returning to the streets, with the far right resurgent. The element I’ve referred to within the Tories wonders whether these Wetherspoon’s warriors could be used to advance its agenda; but it needs the excuse, the crisis, to justify such an alliance. Will Brexit provide it, or perhaps some other unforeseen eventuality?
Let’s start by asking how we got here.
THE FETISHISATION OF THE POPPY
After the Scottish National Party took control of the Scottish Parliament in 2011, and a referendum on independence loomed, the UK establishment had cause to be grateful to an almost forgotten Serb nationalist. Though Gavrilo Princip could never have known that the events he set in train at Sarajevo in 1914 would be so shamelessly exploited by another tottering empire a century later.
For the one hundredth anniversary of World War One allowed our masters to fetishise the poppy and go so far over the top that, had they been at the first day of the Somme, they could have been half way to Berlin by nightfall.
Hiding behind ‘The Glorious Dead’ and piously mumbling ‘Lest we forget’ became mantras against the threatened departure of the Scots, Sinn Féin on the brink of becoming the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and mounting divisions within England.
I’m not suggesting that hopes of Scottish independence were drowned in a sea of poppies, partly because the referendum took place on 18 September 2014, when the poppy cult had not yet reached tsunami proportions, with ‘weeping windows’ and other examples of necrolatry.
But the BritNat offensive had already opened on other fronts. Television playing a major role. Consider this: in the final year of the Labour–Lib Dem coalition in the Scottish Parliament (to May 3, 2007) there were just 25 separate shows that had ‘Britain’ or ‘British’ in the title.
By January 2014, with the SNP in power, and with the independence referendum looming, the number of ‘Britain’ / ‘British’ programmes had rocketed to 516! This was no coincidence.
More recently, the ‘Everything is British’ agenda became almost laughable in its desperation when compliant supermarkets branded whisky and even haggis as ‘British’. (Though in fairness, the German supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl did not surrender to this diktat, most probably delivered as, ‘A quiet word, old chap . . . ‘.)
There is no escaping it; the fear of Scottish independence coupled with the turning tide in the north east of Ireland, with Brexit thrown into the mix, has combined to give us a very nervous British establishment.
Just how desperate that establishment is, and how far it might go to preserve it’s influence, or hold the Union together, remains to be seen. But the augurs are worrying.
ENTER STAGE RIGHT, THE FAR RIGHT
A taste of what to expect was perhaps seen in George Square, Glasgow, when ‘celebrating’ Loyalists went on the rampage on September 19, 2014, the day after Scotland voted to remain in the UK.
It was all there in plain sight – union flags, Nazi salutes, destroying Saltires and attacking anyone who didn’t agree with their interpretation of Britishness. (White, Protestant, monolingual, royalist, Islamophobic, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic.)
The problem posed by a state becoming more diverse yet containing a growing minority moving in the opposite direction is pretty obvious.
The extract below taken from The Herald makes clear who was behind the George Square violence, for it explains the connection between a certain Glasgow Rangers supporters group, the English far right, and Northern Ireland paramilitaries.
“The entire loyalist demonstration had indeed been orchestrated online, it turned out. You sent us the online poster headed “Scotland Said No” asking for demonstrators to come to the city centre at 6pm. The poster was circulated widely by Britain First, the far-right party set up by ex-BNP members, which has a strong following in Northern Ireland and the west of Scotland.
Then you sent us Facebook postings from ordinary Rangers fans, horrified at what their fellow fans were planning. One read: ‘I am a Rangers supporter. The Rangers pages have been drumming up support to riot at George Square all day. It’s disgusting. I am ashamed of them.'”
I was surprised no one asked if there was official involvement in the George Square riot. Because we know that during The Troubles Loyalist terrorists were almost an extension of the UK state due to the intelligence, training and arms they received. While the intelligence services formed links with the National Front during the exile in England of Roberto Fiore.
Thankfully, Wales has been largely immune to this evil, though there is a little clique in Swansea, associated with the city’s football club. They used to call themselves Swansea Loyals and had a website showing photographs of their visits to Glasgow and Belfast. The website was taken down but the gang remained.
Some made their continued presence felt with the display of a union flag at the Liberty Stadium, but now, perhaps encouraged or motivated by the developments we’ve considered they feel emboldened. New banners have appeared, such as the one you see below.
For those unable to ‘read’ the symbols, let me interpret. ‘Swansea Loyal’ is self-explanatory, loyal to the interpretation of ‘Britishness’ we saw in George Square. The badge on the right is that of Swansea City, on the left Glasgow Rangers, with those badges flanking the red hand symbol of Ulster. ‘Quis Separabit’ (‘Who shall separate [us]?) is the motto of the outlawed Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
Let me make clear that not all Rangers fans are bigots, not all Rangers fans support the UDA, and some Rangers fans even support Scottish independence, but let us also remember that among the various ditties sung by Gers’ fans is the notorious Famine Song which urges those of Irish Catholic descent in Scotland to ‘go home’.
Defenders of the banner have argued on Twitter that the motto has also been used by the British army regiment the Connaught Rangers (disbanded 1922), the Order of St Patrick (dormant order of chivalry), and the Irish Guards regiment, which is still active but – like so many units of the British Army – recruits from just about anywhere bar Russia. (Though my old mate Vladimir Vladimirovich has other ways of knowing what’s going on.)
I have tried before to explain how intertwined the histories of Scotland and Ireland are; exemplified by Glasgow Rangers being supported by the descendants of Scots who settled in Ulster, while Celtic fans are often the descendants of Irish immigrants to Scotland.
Wales has no such links. For which we should be thankful, it means we have been spared the hatred and the violence that results from these connections. And I don’t want to see this poison introduced into Wales, which is one reason why I oppose the Swansea Loyals.
The other reason I oppose these buggers is because they are anti-Welsh. They would destroy everything that distinguishes us as a nation and merge Wales into England.
It’s unsurprising then that going into coalition with an extremist party such as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) presented no dilemma for modern Tories.
Further encouragement for the fringes came from the rise of Ukip, while out on the streets and in social media the far right has found its voice in Tommy Robinson and others. A few years ago such people would have been ostracised, now they’re invited onto Newsnight, Question Time and other television programmes. (Though the invitations are usually from the BBC.)
What we’re dealing with here could be viewed as a continuum, one that extends, in one direction, from the BNP or the EDL or National Action to Ukip and then the Conservative Party; and in the other direction to Glasgow Rangers, affiliated ‘Loyal’ groups with other clubs, the Orange Order, and assorted terrorist groups. Giving us an extended continuum from the Tory Party to Loyalist terrorists.
And there seem to be extreme BritNat parties springing up all the time. I drew your attention in November to the Democrats & Veterans Party, which has a presence in Swansea and even a Welsh co-ordinator. (Though of course he’s not Welsh.) And who could forget Shane Baker, the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo, another who has come to live among us.
As we’ve seen, this atmosphere of over-zealous and intolerant Britishism affects everything from haggis to Nicholas Soames of ‘Skye’ fame, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill – it even infects darts players!
The far right is today more accepted by the establishment and the mainstream media than at any time I can recall. I remember Margaret Thatcher back in the 1980s urging people to reclaim the union flag from the National Front, but we hear no such calls today. ‘Unity’, is the cry, under the umbrella of unquestioning and increasingly intolerant Englishness/Britishness.
THE STARS OF ILL OMEN ALIGN
I believe that the poppy cult, tabloid campaigns against ‘Ungrateful Jock bastards’, Great British Cushions (BBC2, also available on iPlayer), all contributed towards the Brexit vote.
Whether that was the intention of those who whipped up this spittle-speckled BritNat hysteria is something that might become clear in the years ahead.
But the threat doesn’t really come from this direction, and I’m not sure that Brexit, even a no-deal Brexit, would be enough to prompt a putsch that had any hope of support within the establishment. The best hope for the putsch-minded in the period of uncertainty and recriminations following a no deal or bad deal Brexit might be to take over the Conservative Party and by extension the government.
Maybe the bigger threat comes from the fall-out from Brexit, in Scotland and Ireland. For I can predict with certainty that the bigger the cock-up over Brexit, or the more damaging the consequences, the greater the likelihood of Scottish independence and Irish reunification.
The threat of either could be the ‘trigger’ for the putsch. Both could plunge us into an Algeria/OAS (Day of the Jackal) situation with ‘loyalist’ rebels in the ‘breakaway’ territory linking with the far right and certain politicians in the ‘mother country’ . . . justifying ‘intervention’.
Another trigger could be the death of the Queen, now 92. There would be wide-spread resistance to Charles becoming king, and attempts to by-pass him and install his son William would stir up a constitutional hornets’ nest.
I mentioned earlier that the UK government has troops on stand-by but how reliable is the British Army, drawn largely from the same disgruntled white working class that fills the ranks of the far right? And it’s not just a few smiling squaddies posing with Tommy Robinson we need to worry about, there are some nasty buggers hiding in khaki.
The reason Brexit is dangerous – and the very reason we are facing Brexit – is because we Welsh are trapped in a state in irreversible decline where political leaders and a great portion of the population refuse to accept this reality.
A deluded populace enduring falling living standards guarantees the volatile political atmosphere welcomed by those promising to restore England’s greatness. And if that means curbing ‘the excesses of democracy’ and banging up a few ‘traitors’, then it will be done.
And because the English are masters of the political euphemism we shall never hear the words coup or putsch. It will be: ‘Uncertain times . . . national emergency . . . desperate measures . . . great reluctance . . . avoidance of civil unrest . . . suspension of habeas corpus . . . unfortunate necessity . . . national unity . . . abolition of Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly . . . necessary . . . recruitment of auxiliaries . . . ‘
WHAT WILL BE THE WELSH RESPONSE?
Despite the foot soldiers being ready and the plotters dreaming up titles for themselves, any talk of a putsch, or even a coup within the Conservative government, remains speculation. Yet it cannot be ruled out, while staying in the EU would excite the far right even more.
So what should be the Welsh response to any economic, constitutional or other crisis in 2019? Nationalists like myself will obviously argue even more strongly for breaking away from a divided and dysfunctional UK state. After all, the confusion I’ve described here is one reason I voted for Brexit.
You might argue that, ‘Wales also voted for Brexit, so Wales too is divided’. Wales voted for something, but the majority of Leave voters are to be found in the pissed-off but Welsh-identifying population from Blaenau Gwent to Swansea Bay. Present these with a different vision, a Welsh vision, and many can be won over.
But what of the left? Knowing the left as I do, many will view a putsch, even a half-hearted power grab, as a ‘British’ issue and start organising trips to London to be seen at whatever pointless rally metropolitan luvvies have organised.
That’s because too many on the left in Wales are trapped in a British mindset, which they like to disguise as ‘internationalist’ and flaunt in contradistinction to what they depict as ‘narrow nationalism’. But it’s never been anything other than a cop-out, just another way of saying, ‘We don’t really care about Wales’.
As a result, the left in Wales has been English colonialism’s greatest asset for a century, ever since Labour replaced that ‘too Welsh’ Liberalism that so alarmed Alderman Bird. Aided in more recent times by a left-controlled Plaid Cymru.
A leftism that dismisses any critic as a fascist in the hope of silencing them. And the smug, sanctimonious bastards who employ this censorship argue they’re defending freedom of expression, and claim the moral high ground!
If the worst happens and the lunatics take over the asylum the left in Wales will have a choice. It can either seek to restore the asylum’s management, or it can choose to escape the asylum and build an independent Wales.
Come to that, why wait for a Dad’s Army putsch? Wales is a rich country made poor by the system we have now – what are you waiting for?
I’m only just getting over the shock, that’s why it’s taken me so long to write about it.
Naturally, I got to wondering who Shane Baker is, and why my elegant prose might have annoyed him. And so I went a-Googling. The first thing I learnt, from his Twitter account, is that he is a “Film and TV extra”.
His Facebook page header leaves you in no doubt as to his political sentiments and loyalties which, when added to the recent retweets of support for Tommy Robinson, suggest an English nationalist of the far right, or barging towards that destination.
The same source provided photos of Shane Baker at work. It seems he likes to dress in leather and romp around with men similarly attired. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m sure it’s been legalised.
In fact, it seems to be strictly crowd scenes for Shane Baker. You can almost hear his agent advising him,‘Shane, baby, ya gotta face that would look just great at the back of a crowd!’.
He should have listened to his agent, but no, for in addition to fancying himself as a medieval mobster, Shane is a vocalist of the Rock ‘n’ Roll genre, with a band called Kabinrock, based in Bath. I’m sure you’ve heard of them, they’ve played all the big venues – Twerton Liberal Club, St Margaret’s Hall (Bradford on Avon), Frys Club (Keynsham).
Here’s a video of Shane performing at a wedding (36 views after 6 years) After watching it you’ll realise why his best option is to lose himself in a crowd.
But enough of his showbiz career, the real question is, why did this latter-day John Bull recently move from his belovéd England to a Welsh-speaking locality? Why did he walk away from both Kabinrock and his other career as a glowering peasant?
Is this yet another example of white flight? Or is it that perverse imperial impulse that propels some English people into Wales despite them being hostile towards just about every manifestation of Welshness?
Or might there be some other reason?
Answers on a post card please. First correct answer pulled from the sack next Friday will receive a video of Shane and Kabinrock performing live at a Tommy Robinson is Innocent (of everything) concert at Scrotum Parva village hall. (Not to be confused with Scrotum Magna.)
‘(SWIVEL) EYES RIGHT!’
I have been informed of a new BritNat political party that might interest Shane Baker, that bargain basement Baldrick. It’s called the Democrats & Veterans Party.
Though it’s an odd combination, democrats and veterans. And looking at the qualifications demanded, I’m patriotic, I hate the EU, I’m a tidy bloke, and while I don’t ‘love’ our armed forces I have no real problem in that direction.
The problem arises with, “Those that hate this nation or want to split our nation up need not apply”. Because here the DVP believes there is a British nation and confuses this mythic nation with the multi-national UK state. I do not want to split up my Welsh nation but I do want to split up the UK.
Terminology aside, it’s strange how veterans are used to make a claim on our emotions by the extreme right and the UK state, yet that state almost completely ignores veterans once they’ve served their purpose, leaving them to be politically exploited by the far right.
The relationship is almost symbiotic.
Shades of 1920s Germany. With the difference being that a bankrupt Germany lacked the resources to adequately care for millions of WWI veterans, whereas the UK state is more than capable of discharging its duties to a few thousand desperately needing help.
Anyway, a dickey-bird tells me that Wales is fortunate in having a co-ordinator of its very own for this new party, a Stan Robinson, though that name does not yet appear on the DVP website.
I suspect it’s this guy, who certainly fits the bill, having served in the Royal Observer Corps, after which he worked for the Ministry of Defence, and he’s been a poppy seller since 1985. He now claims to be ‘Chairman of the Family Housing Trust’, but Googling that name only brings up Family Housing Association (Wales) Ltd. Based, as is Robinson, in Swansea.
Robinson doesn’t appear among the trustees or the management of FHA, making me suspect that he’s claiming to be a consultant. I guess it would be the same with the NHS.
This is his Facebook page, where we learn he’s “English to the core”. His counterpart in Scotland, Ian Pritchard, has no stronger connection with Braveheart and the Bruce than that, “he has been living in Scotland for more than 20 years”. Reminding us – as if we need reminding – that these proliferating BritNat parties are fundamentally about England, with just a Celtic tinge.
With Robinson being based in Swansea it’s no surprise to learn that a branch was formed in the city in April under the leadership of one Stephen ‘Reeco’ Rees. (Don’t be fooled by the flag, it’s not the one they really care about.) Though Robinson doesn’t appear to be in the photograph, maybe he hadn’t joined at that stage.
Rees has been involved in the ‘Exploit-veterans-to-promote-the-BritNat- agenda’ for some time, having previously being involved with an outfit called SA1ute (geddit!). In fairness, ‘Reeco’ also rescues old dames with heating problems, (though some of the comments suggest a different narrative).
In the picture accompanying the article about the freezing old woman you’ll see Carl Vickers. His attempt at crowd-funding on behalf of SA1ute should be used to explain how not to go about it.
One who enlisted early in the DVP was James Cole. You may remember the name from an earlier incarnation as a Ukip spokesman. Here he is in a video from 2013 warning that the Welsh will be a minority in their own country “within the next fifteen to twenty years” due to immigration . . . but he’s not talking about English immigration.
Cole reminds us that the picture on the far right is almost a mirror image of the far left, not only in being detached from reality, but also with the constant movement of individuals between groups, and with these groups and parties breaking up and new ones forming all the time.
If the Democrats & Veterans Party is genuine, then rather than attacking the EU, immigrants, Islam, or the SNP, they will target the UK state and the British Crown, both of which are directly culpable for the condition of the ex-service personnel the DVP claims to care so much about.
Failure to do this just makes them right wing extremists exploiting desperate people.
To end on a lighter note, the fuhrer leader of the Democrats & Veterans Party is lantern-jawed John Rees-Evans, who was Ukip candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth in 2015.
After coming fourth in one of the many recent Ukip leadership contests Rees-Evans went off to form a new party called Affinity, which presumably morphed into the DVP.
Make Britain great again, and safe from gay donkeys – vote DVP!
LAMMAS: TROUBLE IN A FEUDAL PARADISE?
Others living in a world of their own are the hippy aristocracy of Lammas, of whom I have writ more than once. Now news reaches me that all may not be well in this settlement ruled by King Tau-Paul Wimbush and his Queen Hoppi.
To understand the ‘thinking’ behind Lammas and similar projects you must have some understanding of the collective stupidity and gullibility of Labour and Plaid Cymru politicians. For Lammas links with the promotion of One Planet projects which wants us to believe that Wales will reduce her carbon footprint by attracting into the country more wood-burning hippies.
The One Planet bollocks is yet more ‘Welsh’ legislation that is of no benefit whatsoever to Wales or the Welsh, but obviously of benefit to England and sections of the English people. But as I never tire of reminding you, this is how colonialism operates.
My sources tell me worrying tales from Lammas.
The first centres on the 999-year lease under which the peasantry live. (It must be a very healthy lifestyle.) Most wish to be freehold, perhaps in order to sell; others simply want to be independent of the Wimbush monarchy – so these putative republicans have had their water cut off, or life is made difficult for them in other ways.
Among those suffering in this way, I hear, is a Welshman from my neck of the woods, perhaps the only Welshman at Lammas, his Finnish wife and their trilingual children. I feel he should be supported.
Similar things happen to anyone foolish enough to ask to see what it’s claimed are the secret accounts of the company running the show, Lammas Low Impact Initiatives Ltd.
This document I dug out – which might have been superseded – names three individuals as founding members of the company: Paul Wimbush (inevitably), Dr Larch Maxey and Dr Mark Edwards Dyson. Who are these other two?
And if you doubted that the Wimbush dynasty are in it for the money, then there’s King Tau-Paul’s £70 an hour planning consultancy. While Queen Hoppi has her own skin care brand. Other money-making schemes include bed and breakfast, with Tau-Paul also selling plots of land at Lammas and elsewhere, which means acting as an unregistered estate agent.
Then there are the courses, extending to, as one source put it, ” . . . witchcraft and fanny worship courses . . .”
I assure you, in the many articles I’ve written about Lammas I have never mentioned ‘fanny worship courses’. And I have no idea what they involve. I was tempted to ask, but thought better of it.
A course you’ve missed, run by Queen Hoppi herself, was, ‘Upcycle Waistcoats with Wenchwear’. ‘Wenchwear’! If I used the term ‘wench’ the assorted loonies of the left who follow this blog would call me a patriarchal, misogynistic, transphobic, etc., etc., bastard. (Which they do anyway. Bless!)
No, this is no rural idyll of hippies growing organic vegetables and selling them at a street market, this is unadulterated greed.
More mundane concerns are whether the water quality is up to standard, and whether planning permission is being adhered to with new buildings.
On the matter of water quality, it is the responsibility of the county council – in this case, Pembrokeshire – to test the water annually. For some reason Pembrokeshire County Council stopped checking, but resumed doing so this year, after an enquiry from a concerned member of the public.
The suspicion is that that’s exactly what it will be – King Tau-Paul and Queen Hoppi’s palace. But it may be easier to crowd-fund a communal building.
But then, lack of water testing, departure from planning consent, is par for the course that has seen officialdom at all levels bend over backwards to help Paul and Hoppi Wimbush prosper in their feudal demesne.
Above you see a recent picture from a Lammas Facebook page showing planning inspector Andrew Poulter, and his wife, paying a visit just a week or so ago. This is the man who gave Lammas planning permission, and, no, he hasn’t retired, he’s still a planning inspector . . . and might therefore be called on to adjudicate on some future Lammas application.
Isn’t it all so ineffably bourgeois, so frightfully cosy? So . . . Acacia Avenue goes rustic. With nothing to tell you that this is happening in Wales.
UPDATE 29.11.2018:I put out a tweet a few days ago which got an answer from Planning Inspectorate. But Poulter’s Linkedin profile suggests he now works for the ‘Welsh Government’, from where I have heard nothing.
GONE WITH THE WIND
A couple of weeks ago, in Corruption in the Wind?, I looked at three wind farm developments: Bryn Blaen, near Llangurig; Rhoscrowther, near Milford Haven; and Hendy, near Llandrindod. Here are some updates.
First, I’m told that despite having been completed almost a year ago, not a blade has turned at Bryn Blaen. It seems there were problems when attempts were made – involving considerable traffic disruption – to connect the site to the Bryn Titli development just down the A470. Did it blow a fuse?
This source told me, “The Hendy bunch of crooks are already sneakily getting large machinery onto the proposed site, illegally using access points to and onto the Common land there.”
Perhaps these are some of the ‘allegations’ the developers refer to in the article below, from Saturday’s Llais y Sais.
Bottom line: The developers know they can get away with anything because Powys County Council is afraid to act, and that’s because the developers have political support at a higher level.
The priority at Hendy now is to get the turbines hooked up to the grid so they can start raking in the money. Whether the damn things generate any electricity is a matter of no importance to anyone involved in this scam.
What a system!
BIKE PARK WALES
I’ve written before about this venture near Merthyr, which has seen a large tract of publicly-owned land leased to a company called Bike Park Wales, which then threatens locals with on-the-spot fines for ‘trespassing’.
When this was queried, the first response, either from the departed CEO of Natural Resources Wales, or a ‘Welsh Government’ minister, stated that there were no public rights of way on the land leased to Bike Park Wales.
The kindest thing to say is that this was a mistake. The new CEO of Natural Resources Wales has conceded that public rights of way are involved. So my source has now asked his AM to:
(a) Request Welsh Ministers, as landowner, to write to BPW to immediately remove the £50 fine threat from their terms and conditions.
(b) Request the local authority to erect signage “Llwybr Cyhoeddus/Public Footpath” from start and end points of this public right of way within the lease footprint.
(c) Remind BPW that a temporary closure order need be obtained from the local authority, should this be required for future corporate events using this public right of way.
(d) Not to enter into any further lease arrangements that prevent unfettered public access to the estate owned by the Welsh Government anywhere else in Wales.
Natural Resources Wales has in recent years been out of control, so God only knows how many other such arrangements this dysfunctional body has entered into with our assets.
A lifetime ago I spent some happy years at Coleg Harlech, and so I repeat verbatim the sad message I received last week.
“Jac, I don’t know if you’re aware that the college buildings have recently been put up for sale by Adult Learning Wales. It’s a sad end for the college that for many was the gateway to a better life.
I was a student there between 1984 and 86, and gained an awful lot form my experience. I believe the fundamental ‘last straw’ was the change in government thinking on HE and the rise of FE university access courses that were deemed to offer the same the CH offered. The truth of course is something different.
I know that the college was ‘re-branded’ from HE to FE, though of course the academic standard at CH was always, in the two year Diploma days at least a demanding second year undergraduate standard. That of course changed in the mid 90s, and CH soldiered on, until the merger in 2001 with WEA (N) when things started to unravel badly.
The rest is history, but it puzzles me why nothing was done by those in Cardiff Bay about the colleges plight. It was a unique Welsh institution, which although internationalist in outlook, was at its core essentials an institution with its focus very much on Wales. indeed, the course of study I followed there was entirely focused on Wales.
To be quite honest, I’m just gob-smacked that the financial and managerial incompetence of Coleg Harlech WEA (N) went unchallenged.
And recently we read of another case of apparent incompetence and mismanagement at Theatr Ardudwy, where there was a hole in the roof that compromised health and safety with a repair bill of £150k – a hole like that doesn’t appear overnight, and it would have been known about prior to the installation of state of the art digital projection and sound equipment.
In neglecting to mend the hole in the roof put not only the audiences in danger, but also an investment that, if used properly, could have generated much needed income for a badly needed community and regional resource.
I don’t suspect corruption in either the case of the college, or the theatre, but it’s hard to avoid thinking that there was an amazing level of incompetence at play or a suspicion that all this might have been planned, as over time the college was stripping itself of the very assets it needed to survive as a viable entity.
I don’t know if you would be interested in doing what you do best and dig up the dirty on all the tribulations affecting the college. It’s almost tragic that we, as a nation, are losing what was a very special national institution, and I think it’s a story that should be told.”
There was indeed something uniquely Welsh about Coleg Harlech, so is there anyone out there who can fill in the details?
CAROLYN HARRIS MP AND SOUTH WALES POLICE
Carolyn Harris is the Labour MP for Swansea East, who has been involved in the worthy cause of reducing the damage done by Fixed Odd Betting Terminals, for which I congratulate her.
But like all of us – even me! – she is not without fault.
Many of you will be aware of the saga involving the assault on co-worker Jenny Lee Clarke for being a lesbian, widely reported in the London prints. Almost certainly in retaliation for this embarrassment Harris, by now an MP, accused the assault victim of theft.
This was resolved in a court case in July when Ms Clarke was found not guilty of the alleged theft and Harris, now shadow spokesperson on equalities, came under fire for her homophobia.
Throughout this saga Ms Clarke has been trying to get South Wales Police to charge Carolyn Harris with assault. The response has been prevarication and obstruction. Insult was added to injury when, on Friday, November 16, BBC News reported that the assault allegation against Carolyn Harris had been ‘dropped’.
When Ms Clarke complained to the BBC she was told that this was what the police had told them . . . but of course the police denied this.
As I’ve explained to Jenny, the police have lost one case when she was acquitted of theft, which means that to charge Carolyn Harris with assault, and risk getting a conviction, would further expose the cock-up they’ve made of the whole affair. A cock-up exemplified by somehow ‘losing’ the only eye witness statement to the assault.
I find it so sad that I have to write in such a vein. People might think I’m a cynical old bastard, and that would never do. Would it?
Unless I receive earth-shattering intelligence that I must immediately impart to an unsuspecting world the next post will be Weep for Wales 11.
So if anyone has more news on Paul and Rowena Williams – get in touch!
This is something of a ‘shortie’ because I’ve had things to do and I’ve spent a lot of time in recent days looking for a new theme, an attempt to give a new look to this blog. I’m not happy with this theme – 2016 – but I’ll stick with it until I find summat better.
So if anyone can recommend a clean yet flexible blog theme, offering sidebars and plenty of options, let me know. I don’t mind coughing up a few quid for the right one.
Among a number of problems with this theme – post too narrow, too much space around the header, etc – is that comments don’t show on the home page, and the link to the comments is almost invisible, lying as it does at the bottom of the tags in the left sidebar.
But enough of my trifling problems.
For in this post I bring news that there may yet be life in two projects we assumed were on their way to the knacker’s yard – the motor racing circuit at Ebbw Vale and the Swansea tidal lagoon.
Let’s look at Ebbw Vale first.
IF ONLY FANGIO COULD HAVE LIVED TO SEE THIS!
The original scheme, you will recall, was the brainchild of one Michael Carrick, who ultimately revealed himself to be a bit of a lad.
But, wait! is that a highly-tuned engine I hear whining its way towards the Heads of the Valleys, powering a sleek Le Mans-style sports car? Yes, it is, and at the wheel we find Newport-born Roger Maggs, or possibly Mark Rhydderch-Roberts of Crickhowell. ‘Who they?’ you demand. Well read about them for yourself.
Their plan differs in a number of regards from Michael Carrick’s vision. Perhaps most notably in the declaration that they will not be trying to attract high-prestige events; their plan being along the lines of “providing state of the art laboratory and testing facilities for the global automotive industry”.
Another major departure from the Carrick vision is that Maggs and Rhydderch-Roberts say they won’t be demanding vast amounts of public funding. Their project is priced at a modest £150m, roughly a third of the estimated cost of the Circuit of Wales, and would not seek “any direct financial support or underwriting from the Welsh Government”.
Though funding would be sought from the £1.2bn City Deal for the Cardiff Capital Region, which is where I fear they might run into difficulties.
To begin with, there are ten local authorities in the Cardiff Capital Region and some may not favour such a development on the northern edge of the region, especially, perhaps, the largest of those local authorities.
For £734m of the City Deal funding has been ring-fenced for electrification of Valleys’ railway lines so as to make it easier for people to travel from dormitory communities into Cardiff to work and spend money. If the developments we’re discussing take off they will be of little or no benefit to Cardiff. Yet whether or not a project benefits Cardiff is often the prime consideration for ‘Welsh Government’ funding decisions and so things may not bode well for the Maggs-Rhydderch-Roberts plan.
On the plus side, with the widening of the Swansea – Hereford A465 proceeding apace Ebbw Vale becomes more reachable from the English Midlands, heart of the automotive industry.
Yes, I know, I’ve just mentioned the Automotive Technology Park at Rhyd y Blew, but don’t get carried away. After building up people’s hopes by supporting the Circuit of Wales, and then pulling the plug, the ‘Welsh Government’ had to offer something to Ebbw Vale. Motivated not by guilt but by the consideration of saving Labour seats.
I wish both projects well. But if they are to truly benefit the Heads of the Valleys region, the most deprived part of a poor country, then we need assurances that local people will be recruited and trained and that as much as possible of the money involved stays in the area.
Let us now take that A465 to the city of my dreams.
WAVING OR DROWNING?
Another ‘character’ who has been entertaining us for a few years now, in many ways a contemporary and rival to Michael Carrick, is Mark Shorrock of a host of companies under the Tidal Lagoon umbrella. His particular vision was for a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay tapping into Neptune’s bounty.
It’s enough to make an old Sea Scout like me nostalgic for the smell of brine and Robert Newton impersonations, ‘Arr, Jac lad’. But enough of that.
This project also went mammaries skyward when the UK government refused to fund it. Though Shorrock, a man with a number of unfulfilled dreams to his name, believed it could still proceed. Like the man who has covered the floor in broken crockery he insists that given one more try he really can do this trick with the tablecloth.
More plausible perhaps was the salvage attempt mooted by Holistic Capital. And this may, or may not, be the scheme favoured by Swansea council and involves one of the local degree factories. Certainly the council is showing enthusiasm for pushing ahead with the project it has dubbed ‘Tidal Lagoon 2.0’, even setting up a ‘task force’.
The Circuit of Wales would have made Michael Carrick very wealthy (and has certainly enriched him considerably), the Swansea tidal lagoon would have showered even greater wealth on Mark Shorrock and his nearest and dearest. Perhaps especially his wife’s company, Good Energy.
Your guess is as good as mine as to the state of play now.
Though I hear that Swansea Labour’s inner circle recently discussed pushing ahead with the lagoon by investing some of the council’s own money in the scheme. Possibly pension funds. How those with money in the pension scheme feel about this has yet to be ascertained.
But I’m sure they have nothing to fear. If this goes ahead it will be an investment made after due deliberation by the finest minds in the Swansea Labour Party – what could possibly go wrong?
Again, joking aside, I wish this project well. As with Ebbw Vale, I hope it takes off and benefits the local community. In fact, I look forward to visiting in a few years and viewing the whole shebang from the new cable car running from Kilvey Hill.
FROM THEM THAT HAVE NOT SHALL BE TAKEN
The uncomfortable fact is that Wales attracts far too many like Carrick and Shorrock for the simple reason that Wales is a colony of England. Let me explain.
As a colony, the last thing either the ‘Welsh Labour Government’ or their masters in London want is to encourage Welsh initiative. With many in Labour it’s due to an atavistic, leftist aversion to ‘capitalism, innit’; while with their London bosses it’s a desire not to give the natives any thoughts about being able to do things for themselves.
The second being classic, ‘You couldn’t manage without us’ colonialism.
On a more prosaic level there is the purely economic consideration. By which I mean, if the UK government gives the the ‘Welsh Government’ a sum of money every year – let’s say £18bn – then the UK administration will want to recoup as much as possible of that funding, or in other ways take advantage of what cannot be sucked back over the border.
This may be achieved by flooding Wales with English retirees, persuading the ‘Welsh Government’ to put up wind turbines to help the UK meet emissions targets, allocate social housing to those who’ve never set foot in Wales, get said ‘Welsh Government’ to accept and fund bankrupt luxury car makers, improve the M4, or direct to Wales con men or dreamers with half-baked schemes that might just work.
The word soon spreads via the Con Man’s Chronicle and other outlets that Wales is a soft touch for funding and lunatic schemes. You want dosh to built a 900 foot helter-skelter atop Cader Idris? – then all you’ve got to do is get your ten-year-old nephew to put together a bisnuz plan, tell Ken Skates it’ll pull in the tourists better than the Flint Sphincter and he’ll embarrass your pockets with big wodges of folding.
And that’s without considering the third sector, where we find thousands upon thousands of self-righteous shysters who’ve moved from England to ‘help’ nobody but themselves – to our money!