Oct 072018
 

When I wrote ‘Weep for Wales’ back on June 13 I never thought it would turn into the blogging equivalent of War and Peace, but here we are at number 10.

And if you want to know how we got here, if you want the full and unexpurgated story, then you’ll have to wade through what has gone before: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8, Weep for Wales 9.

In this latest episode I shall focus on two important matters. First, details of the liquidation of the Williams’ company Leisure & Development Ltd; followed by an Employment Tribunal held last month that saw a former employee of Paul and Rowena Williams given a substantial compensation package.

But first, let’s remind ourselves where we’re at in Gwynedd.

HOLDING OUT ON THE NORTHERN FRONT

In the previous episode I let my imagination run riot and presented you with the image of Paul Williams as Jean Gabin in Le Jour se Lève, holed up in his grubby little room waiting for the cops. But I may have jumped a scene or two because a northern source tells me that the crook may not be finished.

While the purchase of Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch has certainly fallen through the odious couple still has crumbling Plas Glynllifon, not forgetting the Seiont Manor Hotel, where we find faithful family retainer Rikki Reynolds snorting away.

The other Gwynedd property, Fronoleu, near Dolgellau, owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, seems to have been totally abandoned. Certainly the hotel/restaurant is left to rot, but the site includes a seven-bedroom house that is occupied.

The great obstacle to development here is that Fronoleu can only be reached by the single-track lane running between Dolgellau and the Cross Foxes junction of the A487 with the A470. It’s highly unlikely that any traffic-increasing development will be allowed.

Fronoleu, click to enlarge

What my source directs me to on the sprawling Glynllifon estate is land and buildings owned by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, operating Coleg Glynllifon. Specifically, the old stables, now used as the canteen. I’m assured that Williams is showing interest.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai has said nothing throughout this saga, but unless there’s a rabbit to pulled from the hat it’s difficult to explain why Paul and Rowena Williams are hanging on at Glynllifon.

Unless it’s because they have nowhere else to go.

‘RANSOM STRIPS’ AND RE-ENTRY PROBLEMS

A feature of Paul and Rowena Williams’ behaviour is the practice of detaching a small section from a larger holding in order to make a separate title. This then compromises the value and desirability of the larger holding without the smaller section. And of course it correspondingly increases the value of that smaller section.

In such situations, the smaller section is usually referred to as a ‘ransom strip’. This situation can often occur quite unintentionally, but in the case of the Williamses it is deliberate.

This charge, 0938 9316 0007, taken out by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd as recently as July, helps explain what I’m talking about. You’ll see that it’s made up mainly of ‘ransom strips’, small pieces of land compromising larger plots.

Let me further explain what I’m talking about with a specific example.

One of Paul and Rowena Williams’ properties is/was the Castle Inn at Wigmore, just over the border in Herefordshire. If you look at this title plan it shows clearly the original boundary, but it’s equally obvious that a chunk has been taken out.

This was done in 2015, that year when new companies were being formed, properties being bought and sold.

The main part of the Castle Inn, title number HE53573, is owned by Leisure & Development Ltd, the company in liquidation. The ‘ransom strip’, title number HE31873, is owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, of Plas Glynllifon, directors Paul and Rowena Williams.

Moving back to Powys and the Knighton Hotel, it might seem difficult if not impossible to own a ‘ransom strip’ affecting a substantial building slap in the middle of town. But they’ve done it.

The hotel comprises both the stone building you see on the left and the half-timbered building on the right.

click to enlarge

Within the Knighton Hotel Paul and Rowena Williams own the ‘Norton Showroom’ on the ground floor at the far right, a flat above, and it’s also believed they have the run of the cellars. The flat is owned in their names and shown in blue in this title plan for the hotel. Here’s the title document for the showroom or shop.

In Presteigne, at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, the Gruesome Twosome still owns the old garage building and car park directly opposite the hotel. I’m told that there was once a plan for four town houses on this plot.

This town houses plan seems to have been drawn up but never submitted for planning approval. And I’ve heard of other schemes that never took flight. All of which adds to the image of Paul Williams as a bit of a fantasist, or as I described him in the previous post, “a sinister kind of Walter Mitty”.

Radnorshire Arms garage and car park. Courtesy of Google Earth, click to enlarge

If they were to turn the Knighton Hotel shop into a dildo emporium, or allowed Travellers to set up camp in the Radnorshire Arms car park, Paul and Rowena Williams could make their former properties very unattractive to potential buyers.

But just owning these ‘ransom strips’ – coupled with their reputation for deviousness – may be enough to deter many buyers. And as I say, the situation we see today was planned years ago by slicing parts off the original titles, almost anticipating the scenarios I’m describing.

So I suppose that if nobody wanted to buy the properties, then Paul and Rowena Williams, or someone acting for them, might be able to buy them back very cheaply.

I’ve just mentioned Leisure & Development Ltd, the owner of these assorted properties being in receivership, so let’s consider the latest developments.

An administrator was appointed on August 18 and the administrator’s proposals became available on the Companies House website on September 20. These proposals are worth reading because they give quite a full run-down of the situation. Since then the proposals have been approved, though that document was not available on the CH website at the time of writing.

Under Section 2 ‘Events leading up to the administration’, we read that, “The various properties were purchased between July 2015 and February 2016 for a total sum of £11,887,828 (as per documents registered at the Land Registry).” But then we read, for year ending 31 January 2018, the company had fixed assets of £16,894,195 (against £23,119,820 the previous year). While in Appendix C we read that the book value of the freehold properties is £13,908,979.

Let’s look at the 2015 purchases. As we’ve seen, the properties ‘bought’ in 2015 were simply transferred from one Williams vehicle (usually their personal ownership) to another at greatly inflated prices in order to pull down mortgages and loans. For example, the stated purchase price of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was £3,487,049. It’s worth a third of that on a good day.

Inflated purchase prices were part of the scam, a way of laundering money. But if the properties were bought in 2015 at ludicrously high prices how can their book value today be even higher? Are the administrators afraid to have independent valuations done?

And if the properties were grossly overvalued in 2015 at £11,887,828 where the hell does the fixed assets valuation for 2018 of £16,894,195 come from? (And £23,119,820 the year before!) The answer is, Paul and Rowena Williams’ trusty accountant, John Duggan, a convicted fraudster, who robbed an elderly widow of some £700,000.

In fact, the accounts for Leisure & Development Ltd are worth us dallying awhile. The first submitted accounts are for year ending 31 January 2016 and are the accounts for a dormant company, despite all the ‘purchases’ made in 2015. These accounts were submitted by Debra Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister.

The next accounts, up to 31 January 2017, come from the dancing quill of John Duggan. Now we see a figure of £23,119,820 in fixed assets, and £23,906,551 owed to creditors.

Er, no, they were not ‘purchased’ because Paul and Rowena Williams already owned these properties. click to enlarge

Those creditors reappear in the administrator’s report. First comes NatWest Bank plc, owed £6,202,405. Next in line is Together Commercial Finance (no sum stated). But Paul and Rowena Williams are also hoping for a strip of the carcass with a claim for no less than £11,751,698.

The money owed to Paul and Rowena Williams can only be the money from the ‘sales’ in 2015, when they sold properties to themselves at inflated valuations. Does this really count as an acceptable debt?

Think about it for a minute; what they’re saying, in effect, is: ‘We transferred properties from ourselves to a company we’d formed and of course we didn’t pay anything – it was just a scam to get mortgages and loans – but we’re still hoping someone will view us as legitimate claimants on the assets of our former company’.

This report we’ve looked at from the liquidators, RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP, is misleading as it relies on insane valuations and a fraudster’s figures. This is either a mistake on RSM’s part or else it suits someone’s agenda to accept the Williams narrative and the Duggan figures.

Spaceship Williams should return to Earth when potential buyers are asked to make offers for the various properties. I guarantee no one will offer anything like £3.5m for the Radnorshire Arms, irrespective of whether the McGillycuddy clan is enjoying a hoolie in the car park.

STRAIGHT OUTTA DICKENS

I have commented many times on the contemptuous way in which Paul and Rowena Williams treat those who work for them, and being an absolute bastard is something that also comes easy to their trusted lieutenant, Rikki Reynolds.

And it’s not just those who work for them that suffer; it’s neighbours, suppliers, and just about anybody else they can take advantage of. The Williams pair and Reynolds believe they can do whatever they like, to whoever they like, whenever they like, with no consequences.

They often take a sadistic pleasure in humiliating people.

I think I may have mentioned a kitchen porter at the Seiont Manor Hotel, a man with learning difficulties, who was forced out last year after working there for over 22 years. Now I can give you more details and also tell you how that story developed.

The background is that Rowena Williams intimidated this poor man into accepting a reduction in his weekly hours from 30 to 9 and then dismissed him on August 9 2017. He went to the Citizens Advice Bureau and it all ended up with an Employment Tribunal at Mold on September 5 this year.

Below you’ll see a financial summary of the verdict, and you can read the full document here, with the claimant’s name and the case number redacted.

click to enlarge

As I say, the tribunal took place on September 5, and as you read the Judgment you’ll see that Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd has 14 days from the ‘calculation day’ of September 7 to pay the stipulated sum. If no payment is made within this period then interest of 8% starts accruing.

You’ll note that no one from the Williams side turned up at Mold County Court, which is how they operate – they ignore letters and demands, they refuse to attend arranged meetings, they find excuses for not having complied with instructions: ‘Oh, we didn’t realise’ . . . ‘Nobody told us’ . . . ‘Obviously a misunderstanding’.

It’s the old tactic of ignoring something long enough in the hope it’ll go away; which it often does when you’re dealing with local authorities and the ‘Welsh’ Government.

You’ll also note that the judgment was made against Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd, yet this company changed its name on March 17 2015 to Polvellan Manor Ltd. And before becoming Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd in 2007 it was Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd, formed in 2002, this being the Williams’ original company, and indeed their only company until 2015.

Seeing as this was the company name on the dismissed kitchen porter’s pay slips it means that Paul and Rowena Williams were still using a company name that had been changed over two years earlier. Is this legal?

Paul and Rowena Williams were directors until April 1 2018, when they stepped down, maybe in the hope of escaping the impending employment tribunal. The sole director now is the ever-obliging, convicted fraudster, Keith Partridge, who took over on the same day as Paul and Rowena Williams ceased to be directors.

Whatever the motives for recently putting Partridge in charge, the fact remains that when the offences dealt with by the employment tribunal were committed in 2017 the only directors of Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd/Polvellan Manor Ltd were Paul and Rowena Williams.

But you still have to wonder why Partridge agreed to let his name be used as skipper of the Titanic when the iceberg was already in sight.

It should go without saying that the former Seiont Manor kitchen porter is not optimistic about getting his money. Which is a sad reflection on the Englandandwales legal system, because I believe the law should provide some guarantee of payment.

UPDATE 08.10.2018: Someone has just pointed out an inconsistency in the Employment Tribunal document. At the head of the document, under ‘Judgment’, it refers to ‘Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd’, (now Polvellan Manor Ltd) but scroll down, to ‘Notice’, and the company mentioned is ‘Rural Retreats & Leisure Uk (sic) Ltd‘.

click to enlarge

I shouldn’t think that this invalidates the decision. After all they’re both Williams companies, but it does remind us of the danger of dealing with companies with very similar names. And of course, it’s why shysters like Williams have companies with confusingly similar names.

The Daily Post has now caught up with the story.

WHERE WE ARE TODAY

The current situation can be summed up as follows:

  • Paul and Rowena Williams are holed up at Plas Glynllifon, a massive pile they have estimated will cost £20m to refurbish.
  • Apart from Plas Glynllifon they have no (known) assets other than assorted ‘ransom strips’, abandoned Fronoleu, and the Seiont Manor Hotel, with the latter being run into the ground by drug-dependent Rikki Reynolds (who is indulged because he knows where the bodies are buried).
  • Debts are piling up, and money is running short, which is why they were unable to complete the purchase of Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch.
  • On top of all their other problems they now have the mounting debt of the Industrial Tribunal.
  • The Police are investigating.
  • And now I hear that HMRC is also taking an interest.

In last week’s post, Plaid Cymru’s enemy within, in speaking of Anne Greagsby, I wrote, “I can’t say I know Anne Greagsby, I’ve met her just once . . . she was in good company, which I’m old-fashioned enough to believe is a useful indicator of a person’s character.”

That holds true for everyone, and when we look at Paul and Rowena Williams, who do we find them associating with? Well, there’s Rikki Reynolds, and I have been told stories about this bastard that I would love to tell, but in doing so I might compromise a source. I just wish I was free to tell you about the gardener.

Paul and Rowena Williams’ accountant is convicted fraudster John Duggan. Long-time associate and business partner, the man who supposedly bought now liquidated Leisure & Development Ltd, and who has also agreed to be sole director of Polvellan Manor Ltd is Keith Partridge, another convicted fraudster.

Down in Cornwall, running the Waves Bar for them, we found Stuart Paul Cooper – yet another fraudster! And who is the mysterious Michael Jones, sole director of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd? I’m prepared to bet that he has an interesting biography. Then we have Paul Williams’ sister, Debra Oswald, and his parents with their iffy hotel business in India.

Finally, there is Dudley James Cross, whose Linkedin profile says he works for property company Lambert Smith Hampton, but he’s been an associate of Paul Williams since at least 2008, he was even showing people around Plas Glynllifon on the Open Days in June, and he has served as a director of the company now in liquidation, Leisure & Development Ltd. It is widely believed that he had a hand in the absurd valuations of the properties Paul and Rowena Williams ‘sold’ to themselves in 2015.

These are not business people who’ve taken ‘short cuts’ or made the odd mistake; these are not honest folk who fell in with rogues – these are crooks, pure and simple. They should be behind bars.

♦ end ♦

 

Sep 192018
 

It’s been a while since I wrote the previous instalment in this saga, August 6th to be precise, and even though I have no earth-shattering revelations for you, it’s clear that we are moving towards a conclusion.

But for newcomers – or even even regulars who may have forgotten how we got to where we are – here are links to the previous instalments: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8.

In addition to this latest post being an update on the saga, I shall also use it to give some thought to what this incredible story tells us about the state of modern Wales. Basically, how the hell did Paul and Rowena Williams and their associates get away with so much for so long?

Because irrespective of what now happens to those you’ve been reading about over the past few months there are others who have questions to answer, and I might as well do the asking, because nobody else will.

WHY DID THEY GET A FREE RIDE?

The Daily Post‘s involvement in this saga is quite extraordinary in its willingness to publish any old nonsense. I have drawn up a list of the DP’s articles on Plas Glynllifon and the other Gwynedd properties since Paul and Rowena Williams first became involved.

Starting with this article on 10 June 2016 telling us that the mystery owner of Plas Glynllifon – speaking through property company Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) – said that the renovation would take three years, and would cost an estimated £5m.

The next article was just a few days later on 14 June 2016, and this time we were told that the old pile was to be transformed into a luxury hotel and spa with the project managed by LSH.

Just a day later, 15 June 2016, there was another report, but it was little different to the one the previous day.

The new year brought this piece on 22 February 2017 in which the Daily Post was graciously granted access, to be told by Rowena Williams, “We hope that the project will hold dear to the Prince of Wales, who enjoyed his investiture ball here and also takes a very keen interest in our heritage and historic properties such as Glynllifon. We hope that he will be an asset to the project.”

We were not informed if Carlo had been asked to cough up a few quid towards the “£5.5 to £6.5” needed for the restoration. Maybe it wasn’t needed, for a finance package had been agreed with “Together in Manchester”. And Team Williams was also “in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support”.

click to enlarge

On 23 May 2017 we learnt that the owners of Plas Glynllifon had enlisted the help of Lord Newborough (whose family pile Plas Glynllifon had once been), and also helping Paul Williams were “Bangor University, the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates (at Bangor Uni), Gwynedd Archives, and other bodies”. The more the merrier!

On 28 May 2017 the Daily Post invited us to take a look inside Plas Glynllifon. The accompanying film has Rowena Williams telling us that ” . . . outside, in the exterior, we’ve got lots of, um, plans going ahead with, um, with flower and fauna . . . “, to a backdrop of nineteenth century kitsch meets suburban Wolverhampton.

There was now a gap until 26 November 2017, and an article headlined, Take a look at stunning £16m transformation of historic mansion into five star hotel”, which was a bit naughty, because Paul and Rowena Williams have not spent anything approaching £16m at Glynllifon. There was no explanation for how the cost of renovating Plas Glynllifon had increased from £5.5m-£6.5m in May to £16m in November. Brexit, I suppose.

There was yet another video, this one without the Gruesome Twosome but with weird musical accompaniment. Then there were photos, of, er, scaffolding; while inside the building, we saw a bath, an organ, statues and a four-poster bed. This article, like previous ones, drew a number of positive comments, including one from ‘MarkoMarko’, who I suspect may not be local, and may even have been an employee of the Williams gang.

click to enlarge

The final plug report of the year was on 4 December 2017. Now the focus switched to the Seiont Manor Hotel , lined up for a £5m expansion. This would involve, ” . . . extending the restaurant with the provision of a new lake view terrace, expansion of the existing leisure facilities to improve the changing and spa facilities and add treatment rooms, a purpose built lake side function suite with bedrooms above and luxury lodges in the grounds”.

The first article in the new year appeared on 7 February 2018 and the focus switched again, this time to a snowy Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, which we were told Paul and Rowena Williams were buying. The obligatory video introduced ageing juvenile lead Rikki Reynolds, general manager of the Seiont Manor Hotel.

This new project included, “a 100 bedroom hotel with a pool, spa, restaurants and bars”. There was to be a seafood restaurant, and holiday cottages, with the Daily Post adding, “They (Paul and Rowena Williams) said the residential parts of the project will help with funding for other parts of this 240 job scheme and the ongoing restoration at Glynllifon and expansion of Seiont Manor in Llanrug, which they also own.”

Two hundred and forty jobs! This is bullshit piled so high that it must have blocked out the sun. But by this stage if Paul Williams had said he was Jesus Christ come to give us all another chance the Daily Post would have reported it without question . . . and of course with a video.

Just three days later, on 10 February 2018, the Daily Post returned to Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, for which, we were told, “project proposals have come and gone”; but things were to be different this time with Paul and Rowena Williams and the boy wonder. Maybe, but the video was the same one we’d seen three days earlier. We also heard of a new player in “Developer Plas Glynllifon Group”, of which no one has seen hide nor hair since.

On 27 April 2018 a fire was reported at Plas Tŷ Coch. ‘Disgraceful’ behaviour according to Paul Williams (a man who knows a thing or two about disgraceful behaviour). The Daily Post took the opportunity to remind us that Plas Tŷ Coch would be restored (sic) into luxury period apartments with low density housing in the grounds of the mansion and the restoration of walled and formal gardens.

I’m losing track now of how many apartments, houses, lodges, are involved with the Williams’ properties. Add them to the hotels, restaurants, pools, spas, bars and God knows what else and it’s getting bloody crowded!

Did it never occur to anyone that this bloke might be a sinister kind of Walter Mitty?

On to 11 May 2018 when we were told that Paul and Rowena Williams intended to part-fund their ambitions in the north through the sale of those properties they owned in Powys and over the border. This was the £10m ‘sale’ to convicted fraudster Keith Partridge, which was about as convincing as a ‘Welsh Labour’ Party manifesto.

The cost of renovating Plas Glynllifon was now £20m, up from £5.5m to £6.5m a year earlier. Inflation on this scale is no problem if you’re fluent in bollocks, pluck figures out of thin air, and are trying to wangle grants . . .

We only had to wait one day, to 12 May 2018, for the next intriguing episode headed, “Take a look inside stunning Plas Glynllifon as restoration continues”. And we were treated to yet another video and more photos of scaffolding and further examples of Victorian interiors at their worst.

Giving us an effect that is quite overwrought and claustrophobic. I can only assume that this bedroom would be the Edgar Allan Poe Suite. Who’s that in the mirror!

Courtesy of Daily Post, click to enlarge (if you dare!)

The Daily Post went for its hat-trick with three consecutive days’ coverage on 13 May 2018, with the emphasis now shifting to the parkland and pleasure gardens around Plas Glynllifon. For the headline told us “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”.

If this carried on it was only a matter of time before Paul Williams approached Cyngor Gwynedd with an offer they couldn’t refuse to buy the whole bloody county.

The long-awaited news of open days at Plas Glynllifon was brought to us on 6 June 2018. There was yet another video, this one confirming that a number of deliveries had been received from the local garden centre, with photos of the happy couple, scaffolding, and the Edgar Allan Poe Suite.

Weep for Wales appeared 8 June 2018.

The cobwebs were blown away when, on 9 June 2018, we were back to the bracing air of Plas Brereton on the Menai Strait, and among fresh proposals for the site was a fishing village! So if we add that to the apartments, houses, lodges and hotels, how much accommodation does that give us? How much extra accommodation does the Caernarfon area need?

We made another slight detour on 16 June 2018 as Paul Williams’ house-trained “expert in land and heritage conservation”, dragged up specially from Cornwall, tut-tutted about the state of Parc Glynllifon and suggested that it was in such a mess it should be handed over to Paul Williams at a knock-down price.

Of the accompanying photos two were of scaffolding. (They can grow on you!)

Weep for Wales 2 appeared 19 June 2018.

Weep for Wales 3 appeared 29 June 2018.

Weep for Wales 4 appeared 3 July 2018.

Weep for Wales 5 appeared 8 July 2018.

Maybe my blog was being read at the Daily Post, for the uncritical plugs stopped and the first cloud appeared in the Williams firmament with the report of 11 July 2018 headlined, “Welsh Government considering whether grant funding to mansion developers can be recouped after hotels close”, a reference to the closure of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel In Presteigne and the Knighton Hotel in the town of that name.

For all I know there might have been other articles that I’ve missed, but the 18 I’ve listed here tell an alarming tale of a gang of shysters given free access to an important source of local news. For they were allowed to say anything they wanted with nary an awkward question, let alone any journalistic digging to find out who they really were.

And it wasn’t just the Daily Post that was guilty of unquestioning plugs. There was Business News Wales on 8 March 2017. BBC Wales 27 June 2018. The Caterer 29 June 2018. The Daily Mail 1 July 2018, etc., etc.

But as the local ‘paper the Daily Post is more guilty than others of not doing its homework on these crooks. Indeed, the other news outlets may have been attracted to Glynllifon by the endless plugs they saw in the Daily Post. Seeing as they got it so wrong with Paul and Rowena Williams we have to ask if the Daily Post will identify the next shysters arriving on its patch, or will it be more free and uncritical publicity.

Because I can predict with certainty that the easy ride Paul and Rowena Williams received from the local media, the council and others, will encourage other crooks to chance their arm in Gwynedd.

Of course, I tried to post comments to the endless ‘Aren’t they wonderful!’ stories about Paul and Rowena Williams; trying to warn people, but I’m blocked from the Daily Post and WalesOnline websites.

The question for newspapers and other media outlets before repeating press releases, or running encomiums, must always be – ‘What do we really know about these people?’ And if the answer is ‘Nothing’, or ‘Very little’, then start digging!

THE FAT LADY IS WAITING IN THE WINGS

In the previous episode I told you that Leisure & Development Ltd was in the hands of receivers and the establishments involved locked, with CCTV installed. Since then I’ve heard that Paul Williams was still getting access to some of the buildings, for example, to the Knighton Hotel, either from the flat or ground floor showroom he still owns.

The latest information I have says that an offer has been made for the Radnorshire Arms by some local nobs who hope to start refurbishment work early next year. There is also interest in the Knighton Hotel and the properties in England and Cornwall, all of which might be offered for sale very soon.

In Gwynedd, things are also moving to a conclusion. For example, in the extracts you’ve just read from the Daily Post you’ll see that Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch crop up quite regularly, with ludicrous plans for fishing villages and God knows what else – but Paul and Rowena Williams never owned these properties!

They seem to have put down a deposit but never got around to paying off the balance. The deadline to complete the sale passed on Tuesday 18 September, and so, on the reasonable assumption that the balance was not paid, Paul and Rowena Williams are now left with Plas Glynllifon and the Seiont Manor Hotel, the latter run for them by drug-dependent Rikki Reynolds.

click to enlarge

The Daily Post couldn’t forget old habits and tried to put a positive spin on the story, as if the deal would be finalised . . . as if non-completion was a mere oversight . . . nothing to do with the money having dried up . . . the other properties being in the hands of liquidators . . . everything falling apart . . .

STOP PRESS: But, finally, on Wednesday 19 September the Daily Post was forced to submit to reality and admit that the deal had fallen through.

I now visualise Paul Williams holed up in Plas Glynllifon, something like Jean Gabin in Le Jour se Lève, chain-smoking Gauloises and ready to shoot it out with the flics receivers. (God! I must lay off the Malbec!)

click to enlarge

But enough of 1930s French movies and the Daily Post, what about other individuals and agencies we’ve encountered in this saga, how do their roles stand up to scrutiny?

UPDATE 21.09.2018: Today the Daily Post reported that Dyfed Powys Police had met with Powys County Council trading standards officers last week to discuss the now closed Powys hotels owned by Paul and Rowena Williams.

Paul Williams was quoted as saying, “We are unaware of any meeting allegedly held between the local authority and the police in Powys. However, we are pleased to hear that they are looking into matters as this will without doubt vindicate Rowena and I.”

The Daily Post‘s reporting was again abysmal. Just two days ago, Owen Hughes, the DP’s Business Correspondent – who has written all the puffs for Paul and Rowena Williams – told us that the deal to buy Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch had fallen through, but today he wants us to believe that they’ve “agreed the purchase” of these properties.

Can’t he remember what he’s written . . . or did somebody else write it?

Not only that, but he sticks to the Williams story about these Powys properties having been sold to convicted fraudster Keith Partridge, when everyone else knows this was just a ploy allowing them to slip away and lay the blame on somebody else.

UPDATE 22.09.2018: Daily Post reports statement from Paul Williams.

SUPPORTING CAST

Plas Glynllifon is a Grade 1 listed building. The Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne and the Knighton Hotel are both Grade II listed buildings. (Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch are also listed.) Which means that they come under the watchful eye of Cadw, or English Heritage (West) as it is more honestly known.

Cadw/EH(W) awards grants to those owning listed properties, and so, given Paul and Rowena Williams’ talent for sniffing out easy money, it would be reasonable to assume that they applied to Cadw/EH(W) for funding. And this is what I’m told happened. I’m further told that grant funding was given.

More specifically, large amounts were given to the Powys properties, enough for Williams to claim that grants had paid for the Knighton Hotel. While in Gwynedd, it’s reported that there was a dispute between Paul and Rowena Williams and Cadw/EH(W) over a grant given to Plas Glynllifon which appeared to have been diverted to the Seiont Manor Hotel.

In the hope of getting the facts I submitted a FoI request to Cadw/EH(W), but if the reply I received is to be believed then the Williams gang haven’t received a penny. Read it for yourself.

Which means that either my informants are mistaken, or else – and I hate to even consider this possibility! – Cadw/EH(W) is telling old Jac porkies!

With Paul and Rowena Williams’ empire now reduced to Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor it’s worth asking what roles have been played by the local council and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai which runs the adjoining Glynllifon Agricultural College.

Cyngor Gwynedd has remained tight-lipped, saying only that Plas Glynllifon is privately owned and has nothing to do with the council. Which I suppose is fair enough up to a point, but the council must have concerns when such a prominent local building is constantly changing hands between dreamers and crooks.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai has said even less, which for me is more worrying, Because if we go back to 13 May the Daily Post was headlining a story “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”. And the report went on, ” . . . discussions are underway with Gwynedd council and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai over taking control of parts of the vast estate grounds surrounding the mansion”.

Courtesy of Daily Post, click to enlarge

So how far did these talks progress? Were they concluded with an agreement to hand over land to Paul and Rowena Williams? In light of recent developments, how difficult would it be for Cyngor Gwynedd and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai to issue a statement assuring us that no deal was done? I suggest they owe it to us.

A name that has cropped up throughout this case is that of property company Lambert Smith Hampton, and in particular Dudley James Cross, who often seemed to act as a personal advisor to Paul and Rowena Williams, or perhaps even a partner, for at one time he was a director of Leisure & Development Ltd, the company that was ‘sold’ on 1 February to Keith Partridge, but then went tits up.

click to large

You’ll notice that on his Linkedin profile Cross is Regional Head of LSH based in Northampton, but when he was director of Leisure & Development Ltd he was apparently resident in Wales, with his address given as Plas Glynllifon.

So what sort of a company is Lambert Smith Hampton that it gets involved with crooks like Williams and Partridge? Where is Cross now? Is his role in all this being investigated?

A LAND READY FOR THE TAKING

The deeper I dig and the more I learn about how modern Wales is run the more I realise how easy it is for crooks like Paul Williams to come waltzing in demanding this that and t’other. And demand that we pay for it!

Just recently I wrote about the new village of very expensive properties being built not far from Plas Glynllifon, apparently with the blessing and full co-operation of Cyngor Gwynedd.

Just a few miles away, at Nebo, a gang set up in a farm, and a benefit claimant threw up a seven-bedroom mansion! The police eventually raided the place. I understand this is another case from which Gwynedd’s planning department does not emerge with any credit.

All this is happening in Gwynedd, which many outside the area think of as some impregnable fortress of Welshness. The truth is its walls have been breached, and from the inside.

And yet, perversely, when I see how easy it is for people who are obviously greedy and corrupt, but none too bright, to get away with all this, then in a curious way it gives me hope.

For I see that the political machinery is old and broken, with few taking any interest in its running; the social structures that once seemed so permanent are in a state of flux; people are discontented and looking for something new; while the traditional media is discredited and dying before our eyes.

We are at a stage in the history of Wales where enough determined people, with the right message, can generate enough enthusiasm and public support to direct the political and social agenda.

Carpe Diem!

♦ end ♦

 

Sep 032018
 

INTRODUCTION

I remember, back in the 1960s, when I was a wild young thing, visiting Owain Williams (of Tryweryn fame) on his farm, Gwynus, and then heading down for a drink at the local hostelry, the Plas Pistyll Hotel. I remember it well because ‘G–‘ and I picked up a couple of girls from Birmingham and took them up the mountain to enjoy the view. (Who says we don’t welcome tourists?)

Ah! happy days.

Plas Pistyll, click to enlarge

The old pile, with its uninterrupted views of the sea, fell on hard times and was eventually abandoned to the elements. But even if it was no longer viable as a hotel, the location alone dictated that somebody would some day come along with a plan for the site.

And so it was. . . .

THE PLANNING APPLICATIONS

Let me start by explaining that I have drawn together all the planning references I can find relating to both Plas Pistyll and neighbouring Pistyll farm and caravan site, I’ve done this because as early as 2008 they had become one and the same project.

Here’s the link to the pdf version. Click on the planning reference number in the left-hand column to be taken to the Gwynedd planning site.

Below you’ll see a montage created for Natural Retreats by the Ark Company Landscape Architects of Middlesex, and although things have moved on the image gives the layout of the site.

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The obvious place to start is with the three earliest applications, which tell us that both the farm and the Plas are owned by Sustainable Leisure, a company I couldn’t find on the Companies House website.

Even so, I know that the properties were owned by a Bill Gleave of Greater Manchester. I know because by August 2009 he had hit the rocks owing local businesses money. You’ll note that in the Daily Post report I’ve just linked to the Pistyll site is called ‘Nature’s Point’ (A name I’m sure I recall from the Mabinogion.)

This catastrophe was confirmed when the Bolton News reported that Gleave company BGH had gone tits up, with Sustainable Leisure following.

It all went quiet for almost three years until, in August 2011, there was an application from new player Natural Retreats to demolish Plas Pistyll and replace it with 20 self-catering holiday units. These to be complemented with “16 self catering holiday units in lieu of the existing static caravan site” at the farm.

Plas Pistyll had been bought in April 2010 for £85,000 by Natural Land 3 Ltd, though a loan was taken out towards the end of 2014 with HSBC. (There will be more on the array of linked companies later.)

To begin with, I had the same problem with Natural Retreats as I had with Sustainable Leisure – I couldn’t find it on the Companies House website. But I found a Natural Retreats website and eventually unearthed Natural Retreats UK Ltd, which changed its name to The UK Great Travel Company Ltd 25 October 2017.

Permission was given in August 2012 to demolish Plas Pistyll with the condition that the same individual or family could not live in the new holiday units for more than three months in a year. Natural Retreats appealed against this decision and the appeal was allowed permitting unrestricted holiday use for the whole site.

I understand that the last time the planning committee met was to discuss C11/0661/43/LL, thereafter everything was delegated to planning officers. Some very important decisions were made that many feel should have been referred back to the committee, not least the decision to allow unrestricted holiday use.

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Having got the big prize Natural Retreats – usually operating now as Natural Land & Sea – chipped away over the next few years at more of the planning conditions imposed by Gwynedd’s planning committee, to the point where few remained.

For Gwynedd’s planning department seemed to bend over backwards to oblige: “. . . deletion of Conditions 8, 9, 10 (Code for Sustainable Homes) . . . vary the materials proposed for the external wall of the units on the farm site . . . Discharge conditions 20 (slate), 22 (stone) and 24 (external finishes) . . .  Discharge condition 2 (agree stone) on planning permission . . . “

Instead of stone and slate cottages in keeping with vernacular styles (including Pistyll farm), using local materials and labour, what are being thrown up now on the Plas Pistyll site are prefabricated units brought in from God knows where – Estonia being one suggestion – with no local benefits whatsoever.

And again, predictably, searching the Companies House website turned up nothing for Natural Land & Sea. Either there is no such company, or it’s registered outside the UK, or it’s the trading name of another entity (in which case we should know the name of that entity). But Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners don’t seem to know or care who they’re dealing with.

It should be standard practice for any elected or public body dealing with a commercial entity to insist on that entity identifying itself with a Companies House, Charity Commission, FSA, etc number or some other form of identification, or else explain why it cannot meet this requirement.

Relevant digression: I’ve been helping a neighbour who’s lived the village all his life renew his blue parking badge, but he still had to provide his birth certificate and other proof of identity. If he’d rocked up claiming to represent Intergalactic Con Men Inc, and wanting to build 5,000 holiday apartments in tower blocks around Llyn Tegid I suppose Cyngor Gwynedd would have rolled out the red carpet, like they’ve done for Paul Williams, Natural Retreats, and God knows how many others.

I’ve told you that Natural Retreats UK Ltd renamed itself The UK Great Travel Company Ltd on 25 October 2017. On that very same day a company was born named NRML Technology Ltd. The sole director was soon joined by another gentleman from Bobby Lee’s home state of Virginia and in June the company name was changed to Natural Retreats UK Ltd.

Why would Natural Retreats UK Ltd be resurrected under American ownership? We shall consider this in just a minute.

THE APPLICANT

Before that, let’s take a closer look at who’s behind this disaster at Pistyll, on the very site where a young Jac downed pints and chatted up young ladies. (Though I use the most generous application of that epithet.) As we’ve seen, there can easily be confusion about the name of the company involved. Hardly surprising when you read on.

For at the same address in Wilmslow, in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle, where footballers, soap stars and successful criminals from Manchester and Merseyside choose to live, we also find: NR Partners No. 2 Limited Partnership (Natural Retreats Limited Partnership until 20 June), NR Investors LPNatural Retreats Pension LLP, Project Natural Retreats Ltd, Natural Assets Investments Ltd, Natural Land 1 LLP, Natural Land 3 Ltd, Natural Land 3 Management Ltd, NL 3 Cottages Management Ltd,

That’s not all. There are yet other companies at the same address that do not carry the ‘Natural’ tag but are run by the same people. These are: Dol Park Ltd (Dissolved 31.07.2018), JOG 3 LLP, JOG Highlands LLP, John o’ Groats Highlands Ltd, K2 Equity Partners LLP, Mini Gems Ltd (Dissolved 31.07.2018), N A Lews Castle Ltd (Formerly Snowdonia Land Ltd, ), North York Moors Ltd, Pentire Fistral Beach Ltd (Dissolved 31.07.2018), Worldwide Private Residences LP.

There may be other companies for all I know but the people involved with almost all of those I’ve listed are: Matt Spence, Anthony Wild and Ewan Kearney.

click to enlarge

The founder and driving force is Matt Spence, who was born on a Yorkshire sheep farm where – he tells us – it was a struggle to survive, so he and his brothers looked for alternative ways to make money. Spence hit on the idea of high quality accommodation in national parks and other areas of great natural beauty.

A noble ambition that he’s partly met in finding the right locations. But in reality Spence’s business is raising money in the form of investments – the minimum seems to have been £50,000 to join NR Investors LP (check out the document for 16.01.2008) – and whether all the money raised goes on lodges and chalets is a moot point, for he and his associates have their fingers in so many pies.

But whatever the company or partnership the bottom line remains making as much money as possible. And this often seems to mean cutting corners, for I’ve heard from a number of quarters that the ‘Natural’ empire is not always a good neighbour, or employer. Here are reports from the Cairngorms, and Yorkshire.

There are even suggestions that the empire may not be in the best of financial health. But with so many interlinked commercial and financial entities constantly changing addresses and names it’s not easy for anyone to keep track.

I earlier alluded to an intervention from the Commonwealth of Virginia, so maybe it’s time to expand on what I’m sure you found to be a tantalising reference.

Spence is something of an evangelist and so we should not be surprised to learn that he spread the ‘Natural’ gospel to the USA, where they have a hell of a lot more open spaces than us. This bore fruit in Natural Retreats USA. And yet . . .

Those who have raised Natural Retreats UK Ltd from the dead appear to have no connection with Natural Retreats USA. And yet, under its original name of NRML Technology Ltd the company was formed by a Christopher Holden who gave his correspondence address as, ‘Natural Retreats, 675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, 22911’.

Holden works with venture capitalists and investors, Court Square Ventures of Charlottesville, which has no obvious connection with Natural Retreats USA, it’s certainly not listed among CSV’s clients. He was later joined as a director by Douglas Burns. On the CSV website Holden is described as a ‘General Partner’, whereas Burns is ‘Principal & CFO’.

click to enlarge

Unless they plucked the Natural Retreats UK Ltd name out of thin air, and found Manchester by sticking a pin in a map, there has to be a connection between Court Square Ventures and Matt Spence and his associates.

But it still doesn’t make sense.

Because if we read the CSV website, and the biographies of the partners, then we see that their backgrounds are in media, technology, communications and the like – not a sasquatch-terrorised log cabin to be seen!

And yet, Court Square Ventures is an investment company, so it’s reasonable to suggest that the boys from Charlottesville come bearing greenbacks, which inclines me towards three options:

  1. They have come to get a slice of the action, at Pistyll and elsewhere, perhaps by investing in one or more of Spence’s many financial vehicles.
  2. They have come to help Spence out of a financial hole.
  3. They have come to take over.

And if you think about, it could be a bit of all three; or maybe options 1 and 2 culminating in option 3.

In the hope of clarifying the situation I e-mailed Natural Retreats USA on Friday with, “There are companies of the same name operating in the UK, in Wales, Scotland and England. I see that Christopher Holden is a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd. What exactly is the connection or relationship between the US and UK companies?”

The reply said, “Thank you for your inquiry into Natural Retreats. I would be happy to offer some more information as to how the different companies are related. You may also view our website for further clarification: https://www.naturalretreats.com/about

Natural Retreats was originally founded in the UK by Matthew Spence, and started with a few luxury lodges in the Yorkshire Dales. Over time, Natural Retreats grew to include destinations in the Eastern and Western United States as well. At this time, the US and UK now operate separately; they only share the name of Natural Retreats. The US main office is located in Charlottesville, VA and the Western Support Office is located in Park City, UT. 

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you, again, for your inquiry; we hope you will stay with us at one of our luxury retreats in the near future!”

To which I responded with, “I am grateful for your speedy response.
 
As I mentioned in my original query, I was a little confused seeing Christopher Holden of Charlottesville, Virginia listed as a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd (Co No 11031026). A company formed in October 2017.
 
This would appear to be a UK presence for the US operation, or is there some other interpretation?”

At this point the line went dead!

So we are no nearer to knowing why venture capitalists from Virginia with no obvious expertise in tourism have set up in Manchester using a company name previously used by those building at Plas Pistyll. But it’s surely no coincidence that Rural Retreats USA’s eastern office is in Charlottesville. Which throws up other questions.

I’ll ask again, does Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners really know who they’re dealing with? Not just because of the find-me-if-you-can company names but also because Spence specialises in getting others to invest in his plans, and even though I’m sure he scrupulously screens each and every investor, the fact remains that the money to develop Plas Pistyll could be coming from anywhere.

Court Square Ventures is another company that invests money for third parties.

And does Cyngor Gwynedd know that Project Natural Retreats Ltd owns Tŷ Mawr at Abergeirw, and not just the house, but also land around it. These title references apply: WA634099, WA894641, WA930505. One to watch I would suggest!

TIME TO DEFEND OURSELVES

The properties at Pistyll are now being advertised on Rightmove and other sites. So let’s consider what we’re dealing with, and its implications.

click to enlarge

For a start, I note that these properties are being sold leasehold. Yet England’s management team down in Cardiff docks – those clowns that hope to be mistaken for a ‘Welsh Government’ – has turned against leasehold, except, apparently, when it’s used by RSLs or, more secretively, by unregistered private subsidiaries of publicly-funded RSLs. And of course by the likes of the ‘Natural’ empire.

Then again, just imagine Matt Spence and his gang turning up and saying, ‘Oi, Taff, we want to build a new holiday village overlooking the sea. We ain’t gonna use local materials, suppliers or labour. Then we are gonna give it some idiotic English name and there’s fuck all you can do about it’.

There would have been an outcry, even Plaid Cymru might have been roused to mumble something.

But that is exactly what has been achieved incrementally!

This development at Pistyll is only a few miles from Plas Glynllifon where dwells our old friend Paul Williams of Weep for Wales fame. Yet Plas Pistyll and Plas Glynllifon represent for the ‘Welsh’ Government ‘high end’ tourism, which must be unquestioningly encouraged.

For it is all set out in TAN 13: Tourism (1997) . . . which observant readers will have noted was two years before the Assembly first sat. That’s really thinking ahead!

Yet from what I can see, ‘high end’ tourism only attracts the smarter shysters and the outright crooks. Though if we are to attract high end tourism then what is being done to phase out the barrel-scraping tourism represented by mile after mile of ugly coastal caravan parks that can only deter the high rollers?

Nothing.

Because we are expected to believe that in a tiny country like Wales we can have all kinds of tourism and unlimited numbers of tourists without causing catastrophic cultural and environmental damage.

This is because it’s what England wants, due to the fact that a) money spent in Wales will make its way back to England, and b) tourism and the population influx it encourages makes Wales less of a ‘worry’.

As for the aforementioned clowns down Geiger Bay, well they’ll always do what London tells them, and some of them are even stupid enough to believe that a healthy economy can be based on tourism. Not forgetting that many in the Labour Party would be happy to see the death of Welsh identity.

‘As long as we got a rugby team, innit!’

♦ end ♦

 

Aug 282018
 

I have written a number of times about One Planet Developments in Wales, and of those taking advantage of this idiocy . . . and of us. (OPD itself will be explained in a mo.)

It would be easy to apply the generic term ‘hippies’ to those I’m going to write about, but this doesn’t convey the full picture, because those we’re dealing with are not all laid-back types, with no interest in material possessions.

No, those I’m going to write about are most definitely interested in owning things, especially that for which we humans have fought and killed each other for millennia – land.

Warning: This is a lengthy read (3200+ words) so make yourself a cuppa or pour yourself a glass and settle down to enjoy it.

ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS EXPLAINED

As far as I can make out OPD was announced to an unsuspecting nation in May 2009, with the document One Wales: One Planet. This document gave retrospective planning permission to a number of illegal settlements and dwellings. The use of that cardinal number was fitting seeing as Wales was then managed on behalf of London by the One Wales coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru.

I have grabbed the illustration below from said document and added names.

‘One Wales: One Planet’ was supplemented in July 2010 with ‘Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6 Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities’. This contains gems such as, “Many economic activities can be sustainably located on farms”. Er, yes, it’s called farming, it’s been going on for thousands of years.

TAN 6 gives the impression that despite it being about the countryside it was written by people who know nothing about real farming. The sentence I’ve quoted suggests that whoever wrote it believes that sheep farmers do nothing but farm sheep, filling their many periods of inactivity by perhaps flying off to the Dalmatian Coast.

click to enlarge

Which in a sense makes sense. Because although OPD, TAN 6 and lots of other guff is ostensibly about the rural areas of Wales, it’s not about the Wales we’ve grown up in, it’s about a Welsh countryside of the future, socially engineered to be inhabited by different people. And in some parts, uninhabited.

The agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru in 2007 is set out in the ‘One Wales‘ document, subtitled, ‘A progressive agenda for the government of Wales’. Section 8 (page 30) deals with ‘A Sustainable Environment’ and begins, “Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity”.

Which suggests that for whoever wrote that, war, poverty, starvation, displacement, oppression, exploitation and all the other very real tragedies facing the human race in 2007 were nothing when compared to what might affect us at some time in the future. Making it pretty clear about the interests and motives of the author.

Whoever penned that is eager to employ a hypothetical future catastrophe in order to advance a narrow and self-serving viewpoint that will work to the advantage of those with whom he or she identifies. In other words, bouncing the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition into giving special treatment to those claiming to be saving the planet by moving to Wales.

Further on in Section 8 we read, “We will establish a Climate Change Commission for Wales, which will be chaired by the Minister for Sustainability and Rural Development.” So who was that?

THE DOYENNE

In the picture above you will see, seated on the left, Jane Davidson, she was the Minister for Sustainability and Rural Development in the 2007 – 2011 coalition government.

Though information on the Climate Change Commission for Wales is sparse. It seems to have been set up in 2007 yet for some reason its first annual report didn’t appear until January 2012. Typing the name into the search box of the ‘Welsh’ Government’s website brings up very little, certainly no later annual report.

But who is Jane Davidson?

Given that she cares so frightfully for rural Wales it should go without saying that she is English and middle class, born in Birmingham and educated at what was then Malvern Girls’ College but appears to have since merged with St James’s School to give us Malvern St James Girls’ School.

What else do we know about Jane Davidson?

After Birmingham University she came to Aberystwyth, perhaps to do some post-graduate qualification, but she certainly taught for a few years (1981 – 1984), became development officer for the Youth Hostels Association (1984 – 1987), and by 1987 was a Cardiff councillor, and known as ‘Lady Jane’.

Her political career really took off when she became a researcher for Rhodri Morgan, the MP for Cardiff West in 1991. For some reason she didn’t stand in the council elections of 1995 and ceased to be Rhodri Morgan’s researcher in 1995/6. Giving us a lacuna between 1995/6 and 1999 when she was elected to the new Welsh Assembly, so if anyone can fill it I’d be most grateful.

(For many of those I write about gaps in the CV are often explained by being banged up, but in the case of Jane Davidson I’m sure she was doing something worthy like smuggling prayer wheels made from recycled wood into Tibet.)

“She lives on a smallholding in West Wales”. Living the dream, girl, living the dream.

As I’ve said, she was elected to the Assembly in May 1999 after being foisted on the bruvvers of Pontypridd and the constituency responded by unenthusiastically electing her with a majority of just 1,575 votes. She was soon made deputy speaker by the unloved and soon departed first minister Alun Michael, a man she is said to have known rather well.

Michael, the ultimate Labour Party operator, is now South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.

On taking up her post in 2007 she resigned as Welsh vice-president of the Ramblers Association, but became president immediately on leaving office in 2011. We are expected to believe that she had no contact whatsoever with the Ramblers between 2007 and 2011 despite helping push through the Wales Coastal Path, which has caused such disruption, misery and expense for so many Welsh farmers and landowners.

But then, these – like the electors of Ponty – were never people Lady Jane cared about.

Predictably, Ms Davidson also became a patron of the One Planet Council.

For her day job Davidson took up a post at the University of Wales Trinity St David Lampeter in January 2012, where she is now Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement and Sustainability.

According to her Wikipedia entry, which I assume Jane Davidson edited, we read, ” . . . she was responsible for the Welsh Government agreeing to make sustainable development its central organising principle.

There were no more pressing matters to deal with? Or had devolution now been subverted to a single issue – saving the planet? And were we supposed to believe that a tiny country like Wales could make a difference? This suggests to me that it was the obsessive Davidson who also wrote, in the ‘One Wales’ document, that “Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity”.

Does this myopia explain Wales being the poorest country in Europe? Did Jane Davidson and a few other English environmentalists con our gullible and deferential politicos into opening Wales up for them and their friends to act out their crackpot ideas?

The answer would appear to be yes, for it doesn’t end with OPD and Jane Davidson, perhaps because the English Labour Party in Wales has never been short of gullible and deferential clowns.

Following on from OPD and TAN 6 we saw, in January 2014, Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food, announce that 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy funding was to be transferred from Pillar 1 (farmers) to Pillar 2 (‘rural development projects’).

Another body feeding ‘advice’ to the ‘Welsh’ Government was the Wales Rural Observatory at Aberystwyth University. Made up of academics who knew nothing about Wales until they moved here they were highly qualified to offer such advice. The WRO went out of business 31 March 2014. (I do hope it was something I wrote.)

Independently, we saw a number of organisations like the Agroecology Land Trust spring up, which has blessed us with Red Pig Farm.

click to enlarge

Then, in 2015, we were presented with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and a Future Generations Commissioner in the form of Labour stalwart Sophie Howe, who had been Alun Michael’s deputy at the PCC office.

Apart from providing yet more jobs for Labour cronies the Future Generations department seeks to brainwash Welsh schoolchildren into accepting that developments like Lammas, complete with its pagan temple, represent the future Wales they should support and aspire to.

We have now reached the point where the One Planet insanity is being lauded outside Wales and promoted as “a ground-breaking Welsh government scheme under which people get to circumvent tight planning rules so long as they build an eco-home in the countryside and go back to working the land on which it sits”.

You can see that the headline reads – ‘Want to save the planet? Move to Wales’. Which exposes the absurdity of the whole idea, because if Wales was populated entirely with hippy ‘farmers’ they’d merely have transferred their footprint from somewhere else, and collectively they wouldn’t cancel out the effect on the environment of a single coal-fired power station in China.

click to enlarge

But never mind the facts, for Lady Jane and her friends such publicity must represent victory.

Everything Jane Davidson has done in the field of environmentalism has been done to promote the interests of others like her, those who see Wales as a country of great potential, for them . . . and at our expense. For I cannot think of a single policy or initiative that she and her kind have been involved with that set out to improve the lives of Welsh people.

The footprint these people are really trying to reduce is our footprint, our footprint in our country.

POLITICAL MOTIVATIONS

Some of you may be asking why the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru are so supportive of this nonsense.

You have to remember that the Labour Party has little support in rural areas and so inflicting self-idealising ‘peasant farmers’ on areas that don’t vote Labour may be seen as a form of revenge. Certainly Labour has nothing to lose electorally. And then there’s the good publicity gained outside Wales from those who don’t know the truth.

And as the bruvvers have all read their socialist theories and studied the Russian Revolution maybe they view Welsh farmers as kulaks who must be destroyed in order for the peasants – in the form of eco-settlers – to take over. (And those of us of a certain age remember how successful Soviet agriculture was in putting food on Russian tables!)

But why would Plaid Cymru work against the interests and wishes of their core voters in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire? The answer seems to be that Plaid Cymru politicians have either been blackmailed with charges of ‘racism’ or else they’ve fallen for the Green invaders’ self-serving bullshit, and this pre-dates One Planet and One Wales.

Cynog Dafis, the former MP for Ceredigion from 1992 until 2000 and AM for the Mid and West Wales regional seat from 1999 until 2003, was an early supporter of the eco-influx, in fact, he stood for Westminster in 1992 as a Plaid-Green candidate.

Others have been involved with that spiritual home of eco-living the Centre for Alternative Technology in Corris. Among them my Lord Elis Thomas, who was a trustee or some such, as was Ellen ap Gwynn, currently Plaid leader in Ceredigion.

CAT has been in Corris for over 25 years and has drawn a few hundred hippies into the area. To the extent that on still autumn evenings there’s more incense and smoke (from wood-burning stoves and spliffs) hanging over Corris than you’ll find in an Orthodox cathedral at Easter.

Much of what I’ve written thus far might be gleaned from previous scribblings; what I’ve tried to do here is give the timetable for a whole strategy that has resulted in the ‘Welcome’ sign being put up to encourage many odd and not a few undesirable persons into our rural areas.

A strategy that increases Wales’s carbon footprint and therefore exposes that in reality it’s simply a type of colonisation. Supposedly more acceptable because it’s done in the cause of saving the planet.

And you mustn’t think that the problem is confined to the west, for since making contacts in Powys over the Paul and Rowena Williams case I learn of a OPD project at Twiscob Top, near Presteigne involving Paul and Kate Hooper, who had previously tried to inflict themselves on Carmarthenshire, insisting that they be allowed a dwelling near their charcoal business.

Powys planners seem reluctant to do their job partly because the Hoopers are using OPD and partly because of the expense involved in standing up to these bullies and their ‘Welsh’ Government backers. Which probably explains why they think they’ve won.

Now it’s time to move on to a related subject that shares many of the attitudes we’ve already encountered: the sense of entitlement, the belief that Wales would be better without the Welsh.

RE-WILDING

I’ve mentioned Corris and the Centre for Alternative Technology but the charlatans of environmentalism are not confined to this small area off the A487. They seem to have spread like a plague over the Dyfi valley area. In no small part due to the influence of notorious enviro-propagandist George Monbiot, who lived in the area for a while.

Monbiot’s pet hate is sheep. Those evil, woolly bastards wandering the hills planning human downfall. This article last year in the Grauniad tells us that while cruelty and lack of calories are the ostensible reasons for defending ourselves from the threat, the true motives become clear when we read: ” they (sheep) occupy around 4m hectares of the uplands”. And we are not talking Swansea Uplands here.

But the sheep-free uplands would not be left for Mother Nature to reclaim over time, oh no, they would need to be managed . . . by people . . . well, by people very much like Monbiot, and others we’ve encountered. In other words, we are talking now of engineered re-wilding.

One shadowy re-wilding project about which I and others are having difficulty getting information is ‘Summit to Shore’, covering 10,000 hectares and 20 sq km of sea from “the Pumlumon uplands down to Cantref (sic) Gwaelod”.

Heavily involved, maybe managing the show, is the laughably dysfunctional (or seriously corrupt) Natural Resources Wales where, among other board members, we find Dr Elizabeth Haywood, whose mini bio didn’t allow space to inform us that she is the wife of Peter Hain.

NRW’s master of ceremonies in Summit to Shore is Andy Middleton“social entrepreneur . . . environmental innovator” and someone who – it is alleged – believes murderers and rapists should be forgiven for acting out crimes motivated by subconscious thoughts.

But the driving force will be Rewilding Britain, an organisation with which George Monbiot is linked, and some of the funding will come from hedge fund managers Artemis. There are other organisations involved – all based outside Wales or else Welsh-based white flight outfits – but no farming unions and no body representing commercial fishermen. In other words – no locals.

What better illustration could there be of the way the Labour Party operates through nepotism and corruption, facilitating the colonialist agenda and treating us Welsh with contempt? Though in fairness, it could be said that Labour has done its bit for re-wilding by reintroducing a species we thought we’d lost – the quango.

The re-wilding may have already started for in the area we’re dealing with Cambrian Wildwood has brought in some alien Konik horses to its land at Bwlch Carog, near Machynlleth. This report from BBC Wales tells us that, “The horses, from a herd in Kent, are descendants of the now extinct European horse, the Tarpan”.

These Konik horses are certainly from Kent, but the donkeys giving rides at Aberdyfi may have a stronger claim to be descended from the Tarpan. Though you have to ask why anyone supposedly concerned with authenticity and restoring land to a previous condition would import a Polish breed – via Holland and England – when we have horses of our own from Gower to the Carneddau.

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Is this yet another example of environmentalists’ antipathy to all things Welsh – except our land?

Oh, yes, you’ll never guess who I found when I looked at the ‘Who we are’ page on the Cambrian Wildwood website – there, smiling back at me were George Monbiot and Lady Jane Davidson!

One thing I’ve learnt about environmentalists and re-wilders is that they have trouble with the truth; it’s not just equines, it’s also felines, specifically lynx.

A statement was recently put out by the Lynx Trust UK saying that it had obtained permission from all relevant landowners to release lynx into the Kielder Forest area of north east England. This was a lie, and was quickly countered by the National Sheep Association.

Something I noticed on the Lynx Trust UK website was, “We will work closely with local communities, stakeholders and the general public”, which I’ve read over and over on re-wilding and environmentalist websites, but it’s a lie. The Green invaders prefer to operate secretively through bodies like Natural Resources Wales, get the backing of individuals like Jane Davidson, and then present their plan as a fait accompli to local people and their elected representatives.

We are dealing here with an insidious form of takeover. No longer are greens and environmentalists looking for abandoned smallholdings, they now want to take over large swathes of our country. In this they are helped by the ‘Welsh’ Government and those the Labour Party has placed in strategic bodies to do its bidding.

Yet if those clowns down Cardiff docks were serious about protecting our environment and reducing Wales’s carbon footprint then it could be done quite easily by reducing tourist numbers, especially to seasonally swamped western areas. Further benefits could be obtained by re-instating a west coast railway and feeder lines to reduce road traffic.

But it’s never been about the environment. The English Labour Party in Wales has allowed itself to be hoodwinked by a bunch of well-heeled shysters and obsessives who want control of those parts of Wales that have rejected Labour, and Labour is quite happy to oblige.

THE GREEN PARTY

You may have noticed that I’ve written this without once mentioning the Green Party of England in Wales. What’s that, you thought there was a Wales Green Party? No, no, they voted on it a few weeks back and Green Party members in Wales voted by a substantial majority to remain part of the Green Party of England, rather than become a separate party, as is the case in Scotland.

That tells you a lot about Greens and environmentalists, off-grid dwellers, planet savers and re-wilders, and it betrays their thoroughly colonialist attitude towards us and our country.

Pure, unadulterated colonialism. Encouraged by leftist political parties.

♦ end ♦

P.S. Maybe I should have been more specific with Lady Jane’s role at Lampeter.

She is, in full, ‘Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for External Stakeholder Development and Engagement and Director of INSPIRE at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’. (Try saying that after three bottles of Malbec!) INSPIRE is the Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness.

Also at INSPIRE we find Andy Middleton of Natural Resources Wales. And Peter Davies, who “was previously Wales’ Commissioner for Sustainable Futures and provided advice to the Welsh Government”. Not forgetting Anna Jones, who “is currently involved with the voluntary rollout of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act”.

Isn’t it all so cosy, everybody knowing everybody else, and almost everything traceable back to the ‘Welsh’ Government. Or is the word I’m looking for ‘incestuous’?

 

Jul 232018
 

The anguished cry goes up from Cemaes to Chepstow, from Talacre to Tenby – ‘Will this ever end!’ 

The short answer is, I hope it will; but for me to get back to reporting on local flower shows, and telling you what Sharon’s mother wore at the wedding before she got legless and started stripping, there will need to be action from the police and various levels of government.

And while there are encouraging signs, and a growing mountain of evidence, the Williams-Partridge gang remains at liberty.

Even so, you’re assuming that there must have been some developments otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this latest instalment, and indeed there have. Not least a tearful – if unwilling – return to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel for Paul and Rowena Williams.

For anyone joining us for the first time I strongly suggest that you get up to speed with: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6.

Now read on . . .

WHAT A NUTTER!

And lo, it came to pass that on Friday July 20th Paul and Rowena Williams did return to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne whereto they had been summoned by Powys County Council, and the ‘Welsh’ Government; the former checking on what insults had been inflicted on this listed building and the latter ensuring that the money showered on the Gruesome Twosome for the ‘Rad’ and the Knighton Hotel had been properly spent.

Radnorshire Arms Hotel, click to enlarge

As yet, we don’t know what was said at the meeting (my Russian office is working on it), but things certainly got a bit heated when Paul Williams emerged. There were a few locals waiting for him. He approached one, and demanded, “Who are you, I’ve never seen you in here, have you ever drunk or eaten here, its people like you that forced me to close it down”.

He was clearly not in a good mood. He got particularly belligerent with this one particular local, and ended up belly-bumping him before head-butting him!

The gallery below shows a few scenes from last Friday’s tête-à-tête. Left to right: Paul and Rowena Williams, Paul Williams with the guy he nutted, two suits who arrived at the same time. Assure me they’re not working for the Williams-Partridge gang and I’ll remove them.

click to enlarge

From Paul Williams’ demeanour it would be reasonable to assume that the meeting with Powys County Council and the ‘Welsh’ Government did not go well, for him. Good.

Elsewhere, the Mid Wales Journal ran another piece, but the story has now been relegated to page 2. It also carried a reader’s letter pointing out the absurdity of Partridge in last week’s edition attributing the closure of the hotels to the hostility that had built up after their closure. The same arse-backwards logic employed by Paul Williams on Friday.

THE SCAM ADMITTED AND PROBLEMS PILING

Ignoring the distraction of the confrontation Paul Williams’ little outburst is interesting, and revealing, on a number of counts.

First, the man being addressed (and then nutted) was a regular drinker and diner at the Radnorshire Arms, but Paul Williams wouldn’t have known that because he was hardly ever there. I suppose when you’ve got a property empire to oversee, hotels to buy (often from yourself at ludicrous prices), and money to launder, you haven’t got much time to shoot the breeze with locals.

Second, Williams admits that he closed these establishments, so the ‘sale’ to Keith Partridge was a sham, as I always suspected. But maybe it’s worse than that because the more I think about it the more convinced I am that there was no intention to ever reopen the Radnorshire Arms or the Knighton Hotel.

The ‘sale’ to Partridge was a ploy to distract attention from Paul and Rowena Williams. And even without Paul Williams’ outburst last Friday, the evidence has always been there, staring us in the face.

Remember the letter staff received from Keith Partridge? It said: “Your employer is still the company, RRL UK Ltd” (Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd). Confirmed by Rowena Williams’ letter of 28 March. (Read both here.)

Yet on 1 April the gang (acting through or in the name of Michael Jones) tried to strike off Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. So those letters to the staff should have read: ‘We’re telling you you’re  employed by RRL UK Ltd – but we’re liquidating the company. Ha, ha!’

As I’ve mentioned before, the strike-off was halted by an objection from a public-spirited individual. Yet the Companies House website makes clear that the gang still wants to strike off this company.

click to enlarge

Some might argue that liquidating RRL UK Ltd could be the best option. The Radnorshire, the Knighton and the other properties would then be auctioned off and might be bought by people who want them to be successful.

The flaw in this reasoning is that they might be bought at auction by another Paul Williams. For he himself has bought properties this way; one was the Fronoleu, near Dolgellau, which we looked at in the previous instalment, work started we were told in 2015, and yet it remains an empty shell.

Further evidence that Partridge is simply fronting for Paul and Rowena Williams, is that the letter from heartbroken-to-be-leaving Rowena and ‘new owner’ Partridge were almost certainly written by the same person. The clue is in the bizarre date format “01st February” appearing in both letters.

And of course, with the portfolio including the Radnorshire and the Knighton not being sold to Partridge it means that Team Williams did not receive the £10m Partridge was said to have paid them for those properties.

Yet Paul and Rowena Williams are talking of spending £20m on Plas Glynllifon and £5m or more on Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, so where’s the money coming from?

The truth is they have no intention of completing the restoration of Plas Glynllifon. They’ll spend a little money on cosmetic effects, bring in some antiques and other fixtures, but as with so many of their ventures, from the Scottish border to Cornwall, the prize may be the land adjoining Plas Glynllifon.

Which is why I was so concerned to read, “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”.

So I call on Cyngor Gwynedd and Grwp Llandrillo-Menai to tell us exactly what is being discussed, or has been agreed, with regard to handing over land to Paul and Rowena Williams. I can understand the silence, it’s often difficult to talk with egg on your face, but the people of Gwynedd, Powys, and the rest of Wales are entitled to know the truth.

Aerial view of the estate with Plas Glynllifon in the centre, click to enlarge.

The other element of the scam will be raising money against the asset of Plas Glynllifon. With a building that size, and the land around it, they could hope to raise many millions of pounds in mortgages and loans. And when they took it over in 2016 – fresh from their triumphs in Powys – they were also expecting a few million pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government and/or Cyngor Gwynedd.

PAUL WILLIAMS, SOME MORE FACTS

Here are some random and often unrelated facts from a number of sources that nevertheless help to fill out the profile of Paul Williams.

  • In the previous instalment I quoted Paul Williams’ Linkedin profile (here in pdf) and his claim to have worked for eleven years for the Royal Mail, handling their property portfolio. Now I’m told this is yet more bullshit. Which raises the question, ‘What was Paul Williams doing before he emerged circa 2001 at Mortimers Cross Inn?’

click to enlarge

  • I mentioned the Goa connection in Weep for Wales 5, now I hear that Paul Williams’ father has a hotel there, but comes home three or four times a year. I’m also told that if you meet the father you’ll understand why the son is what he is.
  • The Badminton Club in Ebbw Vale was bought with cash. The attraction being the one-arm bandits and other gambling allowed at a private club. My source says that Paul and Rowena would travel down to Ebbw Vale regularly to empty the machines. (The income from which could be exaggerated?)
  • The Williams’ faithful lapdog Rikki Reynolds, now ‘running’ the Seiont Manor Hotel near Caernarfon, first worked for Paul and Rowena Williams at Mortimers Cross Inn. Later, either at the Knighton Hotel or the Radnorshire Arms, he was sacked for stealing some of the money that was lying around everywhere. Reinstated he is now part of the gang. Rikki is none too bright, a heavy drinker, a drug user, but loyal.
  • The Mortimers Cross Inn is also where they made the acquaintance of John Duggan the thieving accountant they have used to hide their crimes for a number of years. Can’t you just imagine the conversations Paul and John might have had of a winter evening around a roaring log fire, with Rikki swaying gently behind the bar!
  • The ‘Welsh’ Government has stated in a reply to Kirsty Williams AM that the Knighton Hotel received grants totalling £254,200 and Radnorshire Arms £225,000, but a source insists these figures are wildly inaccurate. The source is convinced that the Knighton alone received over one million pounds, and that Paul Williams used to boast that grants had paid for the place. Did the ‘Welsh’ Government focus on a single funding stream in order to mislead us?
  • For let’s not forget that even though Kirsty Williams is the local Lib Dem AM she also props up the minority Labour regime down Cardiff Bay. So she might not want to embarrass her coalition partners. Also worth remembering is that the reply she received came from Dafydd Elis Thomas, former Plaid Cymru AM, who is also helping keep Carwyn Jones and his gang afloat.
  • Fronoleu near Dolgellau was bought at auction in 2015 and paid for in cash. Over three hundred thousand pounds. A loan was then taken out against the property in 2018 with Together Commercial Finance Ltd. In the previous instalment I showed you plans that had been drawn up by an architect suggesting that work had started on Fronoleu in 2015. It was a lie, of course. Everything is a lie with Paul Williams. But worse, I’m told that this architect signs off projects funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government, saying that they have been satisfactorily completed. The architect concerned had worked for Paul Williams before Fronoleu, and possibly since.
  • But they had no intention of re-opening Fronoleu. It was just a way of laundering £300,000+. (And because it’s money laundering they’ll willingly pay over the odds.) This is how to get rid of dirty money and make more money on what you’ve bought. Money laundering also explains buying property from themselves at greatly inflated prices.

Fronoleu, click to enlarge

  • There was a delivery of new televisions to the Knighton Hotel one day, and even though hawk-eyed Paul Williams was on the premises – they were all stolen!
  • Paul Williams dismissed one member of his staff at 11pm on Christmas Eve in a telephone call from an airport where he was about to jet off for three weeks in Egypt!
  • One of his staff found a payroll file on a computer used by Paul Williams. Instead of names and numbers staff were identified by insulting descriptions of their physical appearance. I find this really weird, and disturbing.

PAUL WILLIAMS, THE MAN

Anecdotes and hard evidence continues to flow in from those who’ve had the misfortune to be involved with or work for Paul and Rowena Williams. (I used just a fraction of it in the previous section.) All of it helping to build up a character profile for Paul Williams.

To begin with, I’m convinced he’s a pathological liar for whom lies come easier than the truth. You just cannot believe a word he says. Often, he might not even realise that he’s telling lies.

When dealing with authority his strategy is to wear down the enemy by not replying to letters, e-mails and phone messages. Worryingly, this often results in the problem going away. Here’s a good example from Cornwall of how Paul Williams operates.

But if he is pinned down then he will agree to a meeting – but not turn up. Or agree to make a payment and not do so until he’s threatened with bailiffs or prosecution. With tradesmen and suppliers to whom he owes money he either ignores them or he threatens them with violence.

A number of people who’ve worked for Paul Williams tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, and attributed his lack of empathy to autism, before realising he’s just a complete cunt.

He likes to go to the limit, he likes to see how much he can get away with. It’s brinkmanship. He’s a gambler, a risk-taker. He might even get a rush from it.

He certainly enjoys cutting corners, cheating, putting one over on people, whether it’s his employees, the UK government, the ‘Welsh’ Government, local authorities, banks, tradesmen, suppliers, even taxi drivers delivering him home drunk.

I introduce the taxi driver because of a story I’ve been told about Paul, Rowena and Rikki Reynolds. A while ago a taxi delivered them to Seiont Manor and the taxi driver had to struggle to get his money because Paul Williams haggled over a £15 taxi fare!

Some might view Paul Williams as a likeable rogue for taking on public officials, banks and others, but when you learn of the little people he has hurt, humiliated and robbed, you realise he’s just a piece of shit.

APPEAL

A number of people over the years have had unhappy experiences with Paul and Rowena Williams. I’m already receiving information from many sources, but I suspect there are others who are no longer in Wales who could also provide information.

So I’d like to hear from Dan Pricop, Phil Higgerson, Mark McNicol and Paul Field. Get in touch with me at editor@jacothenorth.net. But the offer is open to anybody and everybody who will help to get this man and his associates their just desserts.

ROGUES GALLERY

The montage below shows, in the big picture, Paul Williams’ sister Debra Yvonne Oswald with her husband Stuart. Top right is Keith Partridge. Bottom right Sukhbinder Singh Heer, who is the other director of Leisure & Development Ltd along with Partridge and Williams. Quite what he brings to the party is yet to be established.

click to enlarge

You’ll note that Part(d)ridge and Heer became directors of Leisure & Development Ltd on 1 February 2018, which is the date Partridge is supposed to have taken over the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, the Knighton Hotel and other properties. But in both letters we’ve seen, staff are told they still work for Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, of which Partridge and Heer are not directors.

Has somebody slipped up, got confused with similarly named companies?

UPDATE 24.07.2018: There seems to have been a belated and rather clumsy attempt to resolve the anomaly of Paul Williams remaining a director of Leisure & Development Ltd following the alleged takeover by Partridge. Documents dated last Saturday (21.07.2018) but received at Companies House today (24.07.2018) tell us that Paul Williams has resigned as director. Also, that 10,000 shares in the company have been transferred from Plas Glynllifon Ltd to Partridge.

Which is just paperwork, designed to deceive. For I guarantee that no properties have been transferred from Paul and Rowena Williams to Partridge.

BOTTOM LINE

As I say, this is primarily a money laundering operation. The only question is whether Paul Williams is laundering money for others or for himself and his extended family. Maybe it’s a bit of both. We can add mortgage fraud and other crimes to the mix.

Properties are bought at auction, paid for with cash, or people in difficulty with their mortgage are ‘helped’ . . . before being elbowed out. Those properties, and nearby land, are then used to raise loans, sold to Williams companies at absurdly inflated prices, which then means they can take out more loans.

So dirty money is successfully laundered and more money is raised through loans against properties they have no real interest in, but it also means a growing mountain of debt, unless of course Together Commercial Finance Ltd is part of this scam.

Whatever the answer, if I was a business partner of Williams I’d be pissed off with him for attracting a lot of unnecessary attention. All he had to do was keep the Radnorshire Arms and the Knighton Hotel open and I would never have heard of Paul Steven Williams.

But then, I’ve described the sort of ‘fuck-’em-all‘ man he is, and because he thinks he’s smarter than everybody else, he’s become over-confident, and when you’re over-confident you make mistakes.

In Swansea, we call this hubris.

♦ end ♦

 

Jun 192018
 

TO RECAP . . .

This is in the form of an update, following further information, doing a bit more research, and generally just thinking about what we’re dealing with. If you haven’t read the original piece I suggest you do so now, it’ll help you make sense of this offering.

The big picture – so we’re told – is that on 1 February Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams sold off their assets in Powys, Herefordshire, Cornwall and God knows where else to focus on the properties they’d acquired around Caernarfon.

Among those assets was the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, bought in August 2015 for £3,487,049.

The vendor was Rowena Claire Williams and the buyer was Leisure and Development Ltd, a company she’d set up with her husband just a few months earlier. In effect, they’d ‘bought’ a property they already owned at what most agree was a greatly inflated price.

Which posits the obvious question: who did the valuation?

But it wasn’t just the Radnorshire Arms that was sold/bought.

There was also the Knighton Hotel, in the town of that name. (Though formerly known as The Norton Hotel.) The title document tells us that this was sold for £2,881,599, which would seem to be a fair price for a substantial hotel (everything apart from the ground floor on the extreme right of the picture below).

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The problem, as with the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne, is that Paul and Rowena Williams already owned the building, and so once again they ‘sold’ it to themselves in the form of Leisure and Development Ltd.

The third example is the Castle Inn in Wigmore, near Leominster. (Formerly known as The Compasses.) Here again, the title document tells us that the transaction was done “between (1) Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams and (2) Leisure & Development Limited”. And the sum mentioned is £1,269,720.

As with the other ‘purchases’, money came from the NatWest Bank. The same pattern and chronology as with the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne, the Knighton Hotel, and other properties. Also, two changes of name during the ownership of Paul and Rowena Williams.

It seems to me that the purchasing of the Williamses’ property portfolio in 2015 boils down to three possibilities:

1/ Transferring property from themselves to their company, yet pretending they’d bought it from a third party and taking out mortgages or loans to purchase the property, is perfectly legitimate.

2/ What they did amounts to mortgage fraud. In which case the lenders must be informed. Though if this is the case, why wasn’t it noticed by Paul and Rowena Williams’ solicitors who dealt with these non-sales, Beaumonts Solicitors of Hereford?

3/ If these non-sales were illegal, and everyone involved knew they were illegal, then we’re dealing with a major crime.

ENTER KEITH HARVEY PARTRIDGE, THE MONEY MAN

To believe the Williamses – or Rowena Williams, who often does the talking for them both – all these assets bought in 2015 were sold on 1 February 2018 for approximately £10 million pounds to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Partridge. But were they really sold?

It’s an important question because Partridge (or ‘Partdridge’) certainly became the “Person with Significant Control” over Leisure and Development Ltd on 1 February. Then on 22 April he was introduced to the staff at the Radnorshire Arms as the new owner and told them that their hotel, and others, would be closed for 8 – 10 weeks for refurbishment and ‘re-branding’. After which they’d be able to apply for their old jobs.

Now if it’s true that Partridge became the owner of these properties on 1 February then the loans or second mortgages taken out with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle after that date are his.

But of course there is an alternative interpretation, which might run thus . . . Needing to raise more money, but knowing they’ll experience difficulty raising it themselves, Paul and Rowena Williams go through the charade of ‘selling’ their property empire to Partridge.

Partridge approaches Together Commercial Finance, saying, ‘I need loans to buy all these properties from Paul and Rowena Williams’. The lender sits him down, pours him a drink, and says, ‘Delighted to help, Mr Partridge – how much do you want?’, then hands over the lolly. Partridge takes his cut, plays his role as the new owner, and everybody’s happy . . . except of course the dozens of people who’ve just lost their jobs.

In an attempt to give substance to this charade paperwork is submitted to Companies House saying that Partridge is now the head honcho. But as yet, nothing has been filed with the Land Registry to tell us that ownership of the properties allegedly sold to him have actually been transferred to Keith Harvey Partridge.

Though it might also be worth mentioning that Paul and Rowena Williams were themselves dealing with Together Commercial Finance before Partridge – apparently – appeared on the scene. This report about Plas Glynllifon from the Daily Post of 22 February 2017 tells us, “They . . . have agreed a finance package with Together in Manchester. They are also in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support.”

This “finance package” was presumably for Plas Glynllifon. But surely they didn’t need it after Partridge came to the rescue with his £10m buyout?

Or am I wrong for thinking that more money has been raised by various means – much more – than has or will ever be spent on Plas Glynllifon and the other projects. 

Incidentally, Rowena Williams insists that she hardly knows Partridge, having met him just once. Yet I am reliably informed that he stayed at the Radnorshire Arms a number of times when they were running it. I’m also told that female staff found him “unpleasant”.

INTRODUCING RIKKI, THE RUGBY FAN. BLESS!

Another reason I have my doubts about Partridge’s real role is due to the situation at Seiont Manor. We know it’s owned by Paul and Rowena Williams yet the entry on the Companies House website tells us that the sole director for Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd is Rikki John Reynolds. Sole director usually indicates owner, but not in this case.

Rikki John Reynolds – erstwhile manager at the Chang Thai Bar and Restaurant in Ludlow – is simply fronting for Paul and Rowena Williams. It could well be the same with Partridge. It begins to remind me of the wonderful ‘buffers’ scene from the Godfather.

Rikki John Reynolds, click to enlarge

Staying with Rikki John Reynolds for a minute, I received an interesting comment to my previous post, and the comment read:

“Myself and 2 other night porters were laid off by Paul and rowena on purchasing Seiont Manor hotel. When I spoke with one director he Rikki Reynolds said our jobs are safe days later we got our marching orders.
May I also add there does seem to be a massive amount of directors in the company. Every manager was pushed to be directors. I belive you don’t pay as much tax to directors. I can confirm the kitchen porter who has disabilities was unfairly dismissed. Meetings were had with him by Rrl telling him what he should do. Manipulating him!
The maintenance manager was fired because he took a authorised holiday.
They also started knocking down walls in a grade 2 listed building which was occupied by some very rare bats prior to planning consent in the grounds of Seiont Manor
That’s just for starters….”

The bit about “Every manager was pushed to be directors” might not only explain Reynolds’ position at Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd but also chimes with something else I was told about employees of Paul and Rowena Williams being registered with Companies House as directors without their knowledge. This perhaps explains the lengthy list of directors at Leisure and Development Ltd in the company’s short life.

I’m fairly sure it’s illegal to register someone as a director with Companies House without their consent.

Quite a number of these directors at Leisure and Development have their address at the Knighton Hotel, including a Frenchman and a Romanian. No less than ten of the directors ‘resigned’ on 1 February 2018 (including Rowena Claire Williams and Plas Glynllifon Ltd), the same day Partridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer became directors, making up a trio with Paul Steven Williams.

Which throws up another curiosity. We are asked to believe that on 1 February Paul and Rowena Williams sold Leisure and Development Ltd and the properties the company owned to Keith Partridge, so why is Paul Williams still a director of a company we’re told he’s sold?

And who is the latest addition to the board, Sukhbinder Singh Heer, and how does he fit into the picture? Answers on the proverbial post card please.

I know Heer was a non-executive director at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust. Interestingly, perhaps, Rowena Williams was involved with Age Concern Birmingham, and Partridge has also dabbled in that market with Coast to Coast Care Ltd.

THE MANCHESTER DIGRESSION

One thing that struck me as I trawled through news reports and official documents was that Manchester kept cropping up.

For example, the loans or mortgages that Paul and Rowena Williams took out to buy the properties in 2015 were with the NatWest Bank plc at Hardman Boulevard in central Manchester. The loans or second mortgages taken out in 2017 and 2018 were with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle.

This report from the Daily Post of August 2015 tells us that the sale of Glynllifon was being handled by “David Currie of David Currie and Co”. I couldn’t find a company of that name, but I did find a David Currie listed with Winterhill Largo Property Ltd. The liquidation process for this company started soon after the report I’ve linked to. The liquidators were based at 3 Hardman Street in Manchester, just the other side of Hardman Square from Hardman Boulevard, where we found NatWest.

Currie has had a number of property companies. There’s Broad Tree Management Ltd, which has interesting paperwork attached to it. Then there’s David Currie Ltd, which is dormant. Next there’s D. Currie Consultancy Ltd, which is at least alive, but barely. There are also others that have fallen by the wayside.

How did this real-life Ol’ Gil (from the Simpsons) get the Glynllifon gig? This report from the Daily Post dated 10 June 2016 mentions “agent Lambert Smith Hampton”, which I know is a major company, but it too has an office in Manchester . . . in fact, at 3 Hardman Street, the same building as the liquidators for David Currie’s company Winterhill Largo Property Ltd.

And then of course we have the report I linked to earlier, telling us that Williams was dealing with Together Commercial Finance in February 2017, making it reasonable to assume that these negotiations started in 2016. But did he find them, or did they find him?

I mention these Manchester connections because people in the same line of work, or linked industries, often know each other. I can imagine the word spreading in the city’s finance-property sector about a ‘big mansion in North Wales’ and the desperate need to find and fund a buyer – any buyer!

Perhaps the desperation was due to recent bad publicity over the ‘Wynnborn’ bollocks leading to official and governmental bodies ready to accept any buyer, with few questions asked.

NEWS FROM THE FRONT (AND THE BACK)

We are now asked to believe that Paul and Rowena Williams have moved to Caernarfon and are devoting all their energies and talents to their acquisitions in that area. The truth may be rather different.

To begin with, they have an exclusive residence just over the border from Powys. Two children attend a private (day) school in Hereford. They maintain a flat at the Knighton Hotel, and are regular visitors to the properties they’ve ‘sold’ to Partridge, often seen taking yet more stuff away. Rowena Williams was at the Radnorshire Arms yesterday loading stuff into her car.

This, remember, is a property she and hubby are supposed to have sold over four months ago!

Talking of which, I’m told that when Paul Williams was complimented on the antiques and collectibles he’s piled up at Glynllifon, he explained that he has “agents all over the world” looking out for interesting pieces for him.

Can’t you see it! a global network of antiques experts working for Paul Williams; Paris, New York, Milan, St Petersburg, Barcelona, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Shanghai . . . . Oh, yes, that must be the explanation.

The beer garden at the Radnorshire Arms, will it ever see customers again? Click to enlarge

Now I hear that a petition is being circulated, and enthusiastically signed, by residents of Presteigne and other communities, demanding that politicians and others find out what the hell is happening to all the properties once owned by Paul and Rowena Williams, properties that were ostensibly sold to Keith Harvey Partridge, properties that were supposedly closed for refurbishment on 16 April for 8 – 10 weeks but ain’t seen hide nor hair of any workman to carry out the promised refurbishment.

It’s almost as if, once the buildings have been milked for the money, they become surplus to requirements.

And yet, the irony must be that it was the closure of the hotels, and their treatment of the staff, that drew attention to Paul and Rowena Williams, Partridge and the rest of the gang. It’s certainly why I got involved. If they’d just kept the hotels open they might have got away with it.

There’s a lesson there for all of us . . . especially those perpetrating mortgage fraud and property scams.

∼ 

WHERE’S OUR MONEY?

One reason for asking that question is that Williams has told people in Caernarfon that he now owns four hotels in the area but plans to soon have eight. Lucky Caernarfon!

Also, I know that the Radnorshire Arms and the Knighton Hotel have received six-figure sums from the ‘Welsh’ Government, hundreds of thousands of pounds has been suggested. Now they lie empty and derelict, the staff laid off and the small communities in which they sit suffering as a result.

And what of Cyngor Gwynedd? Is it reasonable to assume that after the ‘Wynnborn’ fiasco they were so glad to find another buyer that they went along with Paul Williams without checking on what sort of a character he was? A few seconds Googling would have turned this up.

Come to that, who actually owns Plas Glynllifon, because I can find nothing on the Land Registry website. I’m told that the ownership is ‘complicated’, but surely it’s not a state secret. Have the Williamses really bought it?

The callous behaviour of this gang has has already affected the lives of dozens of people and damaged communities. To help those they claim to represent the ‘Welsh’ Government, Cyngor Gwynedd, Powys council, and other public bodies, must recover all public money given to this gang and, if possible, find buyers who will re-open the Radnorshire Arms and the other establishments.

But a start must be made today, by henceforth adhering to Uncle Jac’s Golden Rule – Not a penny more!

Then we need explanations for why things were allowed to go so far. A little openness and honesty is required, even if it does cause embarrassment in official circles. And if, as so many believe, criminal offences have been committed, then legal action must begin.

This can also start today.

♦ end ♦

 

Jun 132018
 

OUR STORY BEGINS IN PRESTEIGNE . . .

I am indebted to an anonymous source for the basis of the tale you’re about to read. I’ve contributed some supplementary digging and a number of interpretations. The original information I received was also sent to a couple of police forces, a number of media outlets, and other agencies, but I doubt if any will act on the information, so it’s up to Jac to extend his scrawny old neck, again.

Let the story begin in the pleasant little border town of Presteigne. To be even more specific, in the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, a half-timbered building dating back to the late 16th century.

click to enlarge

As told to me . . . this establishment was bought in 2006, or thereabouts, by a Paul Steven Williams for a price close to £400,000. It was then leased to a succession of tenants at an unreasonably high rent, with the predictable result that none of the tenants was able to make a go of it.

The last of these unfortunates seems to have been Gianni Roberto d’Aniello of Cora Berry Hotels Ltd. A company registered in January 2014 at the Radnorshire Arms, and put into the hands of Cardiff liquidators in November of that same year.

RESCUE!

But then! when all seemed lost, this by now neglected building was sold in August 2015 for the princely (and surprising) sum of £3,487,049 to Leisure and Development Ltd, a company with an address in nearby Knighton. A company Incorporated only a few months earlier on 19 January 2015.

And it wasn’t just the Radnorshire Arms that was bought by the new company, for in June and July 2015 Leisure and Development Ltd went on a spending spree and acquired seven properties, with another two added in February 2016, one of them the Beaufort Sports and Social Club in Ebbw Vale. (To see them all click on the ‘Charges’ tab of the Companies House entry I’ve just linked to.)

The founding directors of Leisure and Development Ltd were Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams. The charge referring to a loan from NatWest Bank suggests that the Radnorshire Arms had been transferred to Mrs Williams prior to the sale to Leisure and Development Ltd (see panel below).

click to enlarge

UPDATE 21:52: It may be worth spelling out that the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was sold by Rowena Claire Williams to Leisure and Development Ltd (Directors: Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams) for at least twice what the property was worth. This is very odd; I mean, how can you ‘sell’ something to yourself?

Something else that struck me about Leisure and Development Ltd was the number of changes of address it saw in such a short time. Incorporated January 2015 with an address at the Knighton Hotel, Broad Street, Knighton; then in February 2016 to just over the border in Craven Arms; in February 2017 the company re-crossed the border from Craven Arms to Plas Glynllifon, Caernarfon; and finally, in April 2018, it moved back to Craven Arms.

There’ll be more on Plas Glynllifon and other properties in north Gwynedd later. They can’t be ignored because Plas Glynllifon Ltd now owns all the shares in Leisure and Development Ltd, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you who the directors are of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Though they have ceased to be directors of Leisure and Development Ltd.

But the Williamses still own Leisure and Development Ltd through their ownership of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. It’s one way of operating – set up a company, then set up another company, resign from the first company but retain ownership through the second, then set up a third company, resign from the second, and so ad infinitum.

The person now nominally in charge of the Leisure and Development Ltd portfolio, named on the Companies House website as “person with significant control” from 30 April 2018, is Keith Harvey Partdridge. An interesting character, Partdridge, of whom more in a short while.

Though I suspect that spelling may be a recent affectation, if not a mis-spelling, because he has previously been known by the more usual spelling of Partridge. As in Museums (Norfolk) Ltd and Health Choice Hotels Ltd, both of which appear to be dormant.

Another example of Partridge’s business acumen, or perhaps his probity, may be found with Turnholly Ltd, owing some two hundred thousand pounds to various creditors.

SO WHO’S WHO AND HOW ARE THEY CONNECTED?

Well, we’ve met Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams, and I’ve also introduced their business partner Keith Harvey Partridge. And as I suggested, Partridge has a colourful past.

From 1992 to 1997 he owned the Midlands Motor Museum in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. But towards the end of 1999 he was jailed for stealing a Bentley Azure worth over a quarter of a million pounds. In March 2008 his home was up for sale with an asking price of £2,000,000.

But the Williamses are no paragons of good business practice either. Despite being repeatedly warned they carried on advertising the Radnorshire Arms as having AA and Visit Wales ratings, until they were eventually fined £1,250 with £4,250 costs.

(Incidentally, let me make it clear that despite the name the Williamses are not Welsh. They describe themselves as ‘English’ (not British) on documents submitted to Companies House, and I’m told that Paul Williams is a particularly unsavoury Kipper.)

Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams. Credit: Wales News Service

In terms of companies, so far we’ve encountered Leisure and Development Ltd and Plas Glynllifon Ltd, plus some of Partridge’s solo ventures. Now it’s time to list a few others, without I hope causing too much confusion.

Paul and Rowena Williams were directors of Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd, also listed among the directors was their company Leisure and Development Ltd (which bought the Radnorshire Arms Hotel). Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd is now run by their associate Michael Adrian Jones, with his address given as Polvellan House in Cornwall.

On April 1 Jones – who owns all the shares since they were transferred to him from Leisure and Development Ltd – made an application for Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd to be voluntarily struck off, but someone objected and the strike-off has been suspended.

I understand that Rowena Williams was outraged on finding that some scallywag had pinned the notification to the front door of the Radnorshire Arms.

A similarly named company is Rural Retreats and Development Ltd, of which Paul and Rowena Williams are both still directors. Former directors were Debra Yvonne Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister, and Polvellan Manor Ltd. There are a number of Charges against this company for loans and mortgages, including one against the Fronoleu Country Hotel at Tabor, just outside Dolgellau.

The mortgages, or more likely second mortgages, are with Together Commercial Finance Ltd, which seems to offer the commercial equivalent of pay day loans to those who find it difficult to raise money anywhere else.

click to enlarge

Turning to Partridge, since his release from prison he has formed a number of companies called Coast 2 Coast. There’s Coast 2 Coast Land Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Shores Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Developments Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Resorts Ltd, and Coast 2 Coast Care Ltd. The last of them is now dissolved but was formerly known as Coast 2 Coast Leisure, with Gwynedd directors following the change of name.

I find this last entry intriguing because it suggests an attempt by Partridge to break into the granny farming racket in Gwynedd.

WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT TOURISM?

I’ve already mentioned Plas Glynllifon, but the Williamses and/or Partridge also own Seiont Manor, Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch.

Plas Glynllifon has a chequered recent history. You may recall a few years ago someone trying to market it as ‘Wynnborn’. That previous owner was Gavin Lee Woodhouse, a spiv from Yorkshire. I wrote about Woodhouse in English Tourism in the Colony of Wales and Colonial Investments. (Paul and Rowena Williams also got a mention.)

After pissing people off in Caernarfon and beyond with his insulting ‘Wynnborn’ nonsense Woodhouse seems to have sold out to the Williamses and turned his gaze south. After linking up with Bore Grylls and then – to give the project some credibility – Peter Moore, former MD of Center Parcs, he unveiled the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

click to enlarge

Quite an ambitious undertaking for a man who was then six million quid in debt, but the ‘Welsh’ Government gave the trio everything they wanted – land, planning permission, infrastructure, money, you name it.

It’s impossible to know what the future holds for the four properties around Caernarfon, we can only be guided by the record of those who now own these fine old buildings. And that record is not encouraging.

A FEW WORRYING FACTS

Since April 16 the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne has been closed. On Monday 16 April staff were told by Paul Williams that Leisure and Development Ltd – comprising seven pubs, hotels, restaurants – had been sold to Coast 2 Coast and was being ‘re-branded’.

In other words, convicted thief Keith Harvey Partridge had somehow managed to raise“more than £10 million pounds” Williams claimed the deal was worth. Partridge whose companies are either in debt or mere shells.

On Sunday April 22 Partridge appeared in person at the Radnorshire Arms to tell staff that all the company’s establishments would be closed for 6 – 8 weeks for refurbishment. Staff were being laid off but could reapply for their jobs later. Over 70 staff were affected at the various locations.

Nothing has since been done to the Radnorshire Arms, and no planning application has been submitted. The building has instead been gutted and left to decay. There are broken windows and slates have fallen into the street. This, remember, is a 16th century, Grade II listed building.

In saying that the Radnorshire Arms has been “gutted”, what I mean is that it has been stripped of everything that can be sold off. The panel below is taken from the latest accounts for Leisure & Development Ltd submitted to Companies House at the end of April. Or rather, the unaudited financial statement.

click to enlarge

You’ll see that between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2018 almost seven million pounds worth of plant and machinery plus fixtures and fittings somehow slipped off the balance sheet. Leaving the companies assets confined to freehold property, in other words, mere structures, decaying structures, all of them mortgaged and re-mortgaged, and perhaps overvalued.

Earlier I mentioned Polvellan Manor in West Looe, Cornwall, now owned by Polvellan Manor Ltd. On April 1 Paul and Rowena Williams transferred the 5000 shares they each owned to Keith Partdridge. They ceased to be directors on the same day, leaving Partdridge in sole control.

Polvellan Manor is another fine building that has been gutted and left to rot by Paul Williams, Rowena Williams, Keith Partridge and the rest of the gang. Cornwall Live featured Polvellan Manor in March this year, when it was listed among, “23 derelict buildings in Cornwall at risk of disappearing forever”.  

Paul Holden, chair of the Cornish Buildings Group, told the CL reporter, “We have applied unsuccessfully to get the building listed, the rejection notice said that much of the historic interior had been lost.” I wonder where the interior could have gone? Did it just walk out the door?

The Fronoleu Country Hotel, just outside Dolgellau, is now closed, just like Polvellan Manor and the Radnorshire Arms. So is the Beaufort Sports and Social Club in Ebbw Vale. I guarantee that most if not all of the properties owned by this gang are closed. What sort of business can this be?

And here’s a thought . . . has anyone from Cyngor Gwynedd or the ‘Welsh’ Government been inside Plas Glynllifon lately?

Another thought; by stripping and neglecting these buildings the gang is almost certainly breaking the conditions of the loans and mortgages, the conditions that insist these buildings be properly maintained and looked after. Intact.

And what do the insurers think of this behaviour?

UPDATE 14.06.2018: Here are the letters received by the staff at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the other establishments owned by Rural Retreats and Leisure Ltd. The first from Rowena Williams of RRL and the second from Keith Partridge of Coast 2 Coast. (Here in pdf format.)

click to enlarge

According to these letters the deal was done 1 February, so why did it take eight weeks to inform the staff?

Note how optimistic Rowena Williams sounds, “At the moment we do not have any more information that (sic) what we have shared with you except that they (Coast 2 Coast) want to move quickly in order to be open for the summer period”.

But the Williamses have been dealing with Partridge for years, and they knew exactly what the plan was.

And as for the “summer period”, well, it’s mid June, Whitsun has come and gone, and in the northern hemisphere it is now definitely summer . . . but the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the other establishments remain firmly closed, with no sign of them opening any time soon.

How could anyone ever trust these people?

COUNT THE SPOONS!

You’ll have noticed that Paul and Rowena Williams and their sidekick Partridge buy property almost indiscriminately, and then they just strip them to the bare bones and let the buildings deteriorate.

This is because they have no interest in actually running hotels. The racket is to buy a property, with a loan or a mortgage; announce a big investment, lots of jobs; then strip the building of anything valuable; sell it on within the gang at an inflated price (or simply transfer it); dissolve indebted companies; pull down whatever grants are available, use these grants and new loans to service old loans; while paying yourself handsomely behind this fog of deceit.

With all the debts accrued, this is a house of cards. Collapse must surely be imminent.

Consequently, to have any dealings with these people would be foolish. To give them money would be insane. And yet, this is what I’m told has happened, and probably explains why they’ve moved their operations to Wales. For it’s claimed the gang has already received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government, with more in the pipeline.

I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to Visit Wales, but I have already been told that the Radnorshire Arms received a grant of £370,000, plus a smaller grant; while the Knighton Hotel (formerly Norton Hotel) received an even larger grant.

God knows how much they’re getting, or anticipate getting, from their foray into Gwynedd.

In case anyone is in doubt, let me make it absolutely clear: These people are liars, chisellers, scammers, asset-strippers, con men, crooks; so cut off all public funding immediately and demand repayment of what they have already received; insist on a thorough inspection of the buildings they ‘own’; and then refer them to the police. 

Weep for Wales that we keep attracting people like these, scavengers drawn to a fallen beast. A once noble beast brought down by a colonial system that will always favour strangers, and exploitation; a system that will never encourage native initiative lest it gives us ideas about our place in the great scheme of things.

This system, and those who promote and operate it, must be swept away. Do that and I won’t have to write about Paul and Rowena Williams, Keith Partridge, Bore Grylls, Gavin Woodhouse and the occupying army of which they are just a small detachment.

♦ end ♦

 

May 112018
 

BIKE PARK WALES AKA PARC BEICIO CYMRU LTD

In the natural world parents must come before children, how could it be otherwise?

But in the world of what passes for business in Wales, by which I mean ‘private’ companies heavily reliant on public money, things can be different. Take the Merthyr Mountain Biking Centre, for example. Well, that’s the name by which everybody knows it, or else BikePark Wales, yet it’s registered with Companies House as Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd, even though there’s not a word of Welsh on the website.

I never cease to be amazed at how many third sector bodies almost entirely staffed by natives of a neighbouring country give themselves Welsh names those running the show can’t pronounce. Or, more sinisterly, bodies getting oodles of public money and known to the world by an English name register themselves with Companies House or the Charity Commission with the Welsh translation of that name. This sleight-of-name can only be done to make it difficult for public-minded citizens like what I am to help the ‘Welsh’ Government keep track on how public money is spent.

As far as I could make out when we previously looked at BikePark Wales (scroll right down) it was a company owned by two husband and wife/partner teams and a New Zealander, the venture situated on land leased from the ‘Welsh’ Government (through Natural Resources Wales). These people also seemed to have their own companies that dovetailed neatly with the publicly-funded Bike Park Wales. (A relationship from which they no doubt profited.)

Who gave BikePark Wales the authority to fine Welsh people for ‘trespassing’ on publicly-owned Welsh land? And who vets the “marshalls” (sic) recruited to their private police force?

I say ‘was’ run by these people because the whole shebang underwent a massive upheaval over the Christmas period, all starting on December 21st.

On that date three directors parted company with Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd leaving only Martin Astley and Rowan John Sorrell in place, but more significantly, on the same day the company was taken over by BikePark Holdings Ltd, which is now the parent company, even though it was only Incorporated with Companies House on 5 October 2017.

Astley and Sorrell are also directors of this new parent company along with Keith Pacey, Tom Spencer and Simon Paul Stephenson.

The Yuletide upheavals may be linked to entries on the Companies House website under the ‘Filing History’ tab. These suggest that incorrect information had originally been supplied to Companies House and perhaps when this became known (to the ‘Welsh’ Government? Companies House?) a new holding company was hastily formed.

So how does the information found on the new forms I mention differ from the information originally submitted to Companies House?

Let’s consider the older form first; this being the “Annual Return made up to 29 May 2011 with full list of shareholders”. (Found under the ‘Filing History’ tab.) The difference between the 2011 original and the 2017 “second filing” is shown in the panel below I cobbled together from the two forms.

click to enlarge

I find it difficult to believe that anyone could make a mistake over how many of just 100 shares were held by each of only four directors.

Keeping to chronological order, on 11 January 2013 there was a sizeable share issue and this explains the allocation we’ll look at next. Again, with a panel compiled from the original submission and its correction.

The original return of May 2013 was signed by Anna Walters, the correction of 23 January 2018 by Astley.

click to enlarge

The amended form sees a new shareholder, this being Back-on-Track Mountain Bike Solutions Ltd, holding 2,795 shares. So who or what is Back-on-Track? Companies House tell us it’s a company based in Pontypool, Incorporated March 2008, and its sole shareholder is Rowan Sorrell.

The two directors of this company are Sorrell and Elizabeth Alexandra Sorrell (formerly Scaife). And for a husband and wife outfit the company is in rude financial health, with total assets less current liabilities for 2017 of £494,952.

If we tot up the shares of Sorrell, Scaife-Sorrell and their company it comes mighty close to the majority shareholding in Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd shown in the document we looked at earlier. But that still leaves the question – why was Back-on-Track Mountain Bike Solutions Ltd left off the document submitted in 2011? I ask because in a small company like Parc Beicio Cymru those involved must know who the shareholders are and how many shares they hold.

Though the figures still don’t add up. The share issue of January 2013 talks of 46,536 ordinary shares being “in issue”. The first document, of May 2013 accounts for just 43,795, but with Back-on-Track added the total comes to 46,590, which of course exceeds the stated issue by 54 shares.

This extra 54 shares seems to be explained in a document lodged with Companies House long after the shares it refers to had been issued.

UPDATE 12.05.2018: An FoI request has now been sent to the ‘Welsh’ Government.

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UPDATE 16.05.2016: A response has been received from the ‘Welsh’ Government. The respondent seems unaware that Bike Park Wales no longer exists. Still, I shall now write to Natural Resources Wales.

BIKEPARK HOLDINGS LTD

Now we return to the newly-hatched parent company, BikePark Holdings Ltd. Who exactly have Sorrell and Astley shacked up with? We certainly know their names: Thomas Anthony John Spencer, Simon Paul Stephenson and Keith Pacey.

If we turn to the Filing history tab of BikePark Holdings, and the ‘Written Resolution’, we see that the new parent company of Beic Parcio Cymru is linked with BCF Ventures Ltd, a company belonging to Tom Spencer and Simon Stephenson.

Companies House tells us that BCF Ventures Ltd is based in Peterborough, in eastern England, and it was Incorporated 5 October 2015. In June 2017 it filed accounts for a dormant company showing just the two shares issued, both held by Spencer.

So BCF Ventures Ltd seems to have done little or nothing before linking up with Parc Beicio Cymru Ltd to form BikePark Holdings Ltd.

Going back to and moving down the Written Resolution we see that Rowan Sorrell and Martin Astley are listed as ‘Managers’.

Which leaves just Keith Pacey, who is well known to the business world, seemingly specialising in mergers and buy-outs. Here’s his Bloomberg profile. He is non-executive chairman of Places for People Leisure, which would seem a good fit for Merthyr Bike Park.

Information courtesy of Bloomberg, click to enlarge

Pacey is clearly the director with the money in BikePark Holdings Ltd. Confirmed by going back to the Companies House website and checking through the charges (debts or obligations).

But first, let’s consider the charges against the original company, Parc Beicio Cymru Ltd. There are no fewer than seven outstanding. These charges belong to Allied Irish Bank, Welsh Ministers, Finance Wales, plus Kevin Pacey and a debenture held by former director Ian Campbell Officer who left 21 December 2017. And two months later set up Wye Mountain Biking Ltd.

The charge held by Pacey is in the form of a Guarantee and Debenture in relation to £3,787,308. The same amount appears in relation to a charge listed against BikePark Holdings Ltd.

Moving on to BikePark Holdings Ltd we see, in addition to the charge held by Pacey, one against Welsh Ministers and one against Allied Irish Bank. So clearly, the ‘Welsh’ Government knows about Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd being taken over by BikePark Holdings Ltd . . . and presumably approves.

WHO? WHAT? WHY? WHEN?

Here are a few questions relating to events around Christmas time last year:

  1. Why did Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd submit two corrected documents to Companies House?
  2. Who discovered the errors in the originals?
  3. Were those ‘errors’ genuine mistakes or attempts to deceive?
  4. Why did Ian Campbell Officer part company with Beic Parcio Cymru?
  5. Why did Beic Parcio Cymru need Spencer and Stephenson, and their hitherto dormant company BCF Ventures Ltd, seeing as the financial backing needed appears to come from Pacey?
  6. What exactly is the fresh money for?
  7. Is BikePark Holdings Ltd (or anyone else) buying the site from the ‘Welsh’ Government?
  8. Is BikePark Holdings raising money to renovate or expand its Merthyr operation?
  9. How deeply in debt are Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd and BikePark Holdings Ltd, and is the Welsh public purse in danger of having to cover debts incurred by either company?
  10. Is the ‘Welsh’ Government happy with recent developments, and how does it feel about those running this valuable asset being based further and further away from Wales?

‘WELSH’ TOURISM

It would be nice to think that the developments at Merthyr are an aberration, that English companies and individuals getting rich by exploiting Welsh assets is a rarity, but it’s not. Just a few miles from Merthyr as the crow flies the ‘Welsh’ Government is handing over another large tract of Welsh land to yet another bunch of spivs English company.

And this will all be done in the name of  “building the Welsh economy”.

Of course there’ll be jobs for locals . . . the kind of jobs that are always provided in colonial situations. But the money will flow east and the top jobs will go to people who’ve moved west. For us it’ll be: “Can you drive a lawnmower, Taff? . . . Can your girlfriend serve coffee? . . . Nice ass on her, bit of a go-er, is she? . . . Oi, careful, Dai – do you want the job or not?”

And things have got worse under devolution. Yes we’ve always been exploited by England, but I can remember when a boy could leave school with little in the way of skills or education and still get a well-paid job underground or in a factory, steel or tinplate works. A job that made him feel like a man among men.

Now, increasingly, all we’re offered is wiping wrinkly Saxon backsides and making our betters feel welcome in our country.

But this is how it must be under devolution run by a socialist-Unionist party. On the one hand Plaid Tlodi Cymru is incapable of creating jobs because your average Labour politician knows less about economics than he/she knows about Lithuanian poetry; and on the other hand – being control freaks – they’re terrified of a healthy economy, run by businessmen and entrepreneurs who’ll see through them, so we end with up a bloated and suffocating third sector run by Labour-supporting parasites.

And because the Wales Poverty Party is Unionist it must run Wales in the interests of England and the English. Which brings me back to the Merthyr Mountain Biking Centre, and the Afan Valley Resort, and Surf Snowdonia, and Bluestone, and all the rest.

‘Croeso!’

Has any word in any language in the whole history of the human race been so traduced and corrupted that it has lost all meaning? What should exude warmth, sincerity and hospitality is now just a robotic slogan stripped of all human emotion and often mouthed from behind a rictus smile.

click to enlarge

“Croeso, we hope you’ll like us . . . and we don’t mind if you take over our country . . . cos we’ve been conditioned to cringe like this . . . would you like me to say something in Welsh so you can laugh?”

Yeah, ‘Croeso’.

♦ end ♦

Apr 132018
 

A guest post by Aled Gwyn Jôb

‘Tri chynnig i Gymro’ (Three tries for a Welshman) is a very old and much-loved Welsh saying.

Where Leighton Andrews and Mark Drakeford ultimately feared to tread, the Welsh Government’s own inimitable attack dog, Alun Davies, is now all set to get his teeth into Local Government re-organisation.

But, if this to mean anything other than a tokenistic tinkering with the map of Wales once again, surely the process has to involve meaningful change this time round.

It’s an opportunity to look afresh at what local democracy should actually mean today, and how it can manifest itself anew in different parts of Wales. The long neglected link up between health care and social care should definitely be on the agenda, as well as democratic control of social housing, a sector which has grown exponentially over the past few years with little or no local scrutiny attached to it.

With Cardiff having a disproportionate slice of the political and economic cake, there is also a strong case for the creation of perhaps no more than 6 regional authorities to counter-balance the Cardiff-centricity of modern Wales, and those authorities imbued with real powers. Which could even perhaps include some element of tax-varying powers of their own, as is the case with local authorities in the thriving Basque Country.

It’s also high time for some radical thinking where the Welsh language and local government is concerned.

It presents a golden opportunity to implement the idea proposed by Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru AM – i.e. to create ARFOR, a single authority for the Welsh-speaking areas of Ynys Môn, Gwynedd, Ceredigion, and Caerfyrddin, which would operate through the medium of Welsh.

The much-maligned nationalist thinker, Saunders Lewis predicted that the Welsh language would decline faster with a Welsh Government in situ in Cardiff than it would under Westminster control, unless local government first conducted its work through the medium of Welsh in Y Fro Gymraeg.

With less than 5 per cent of deliberations at Y Senedd conducted in Welsh (well below the national 21 per cent of Welsh speakers), Saunders Lewis’ prophecy seems to have been borne out.

Every single party at Y Senedd (even UKIP) pledges strong support for Welsh in public: but the harsh truth after 20 years of devolution is that English has become the governing language in our national parliament. With the best will in the world, this is not going to change any time soon.

A cultural and political counterpoint is sorely needed to provide Cymraeg with real status and power- located in those areas where it remains an everyday living language.

Socio-linguists agree that a minority language requires some form of territorial integrity in order to thrive. Increasing use is now being made of environmental metaphors with a minority language imagined as a plant or flower which has to have a secure habitat in order to be able to breathe, grow and flourish.

If we continue with the environmental metaphor, most of us are all aware that Welsh’s natural habitat has been eroding on a frighteningly fast rate over the past two generations.

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At the time of the 1961 census there were areas within sight of Stradey Park and Llandudno promenade where over 80% of the population spoke Welsh, and the whole of the west apart from south Pembrokeshire was mainly Welsh speaking.

By the 2011 census however, this former solid bank of Welsh speakers across these western counties had dried up alarmingly with Gwynedd down to 64% of  Welsh speakers, Ynys Mon 59%, Ceredigion on 48% and Caerfyrddin down to 44%.

The calamitous retreat of Cymraeg in these heartlands since 1951, has been virtually ignored by all the political parties. Partly of course because of the thorny reality that this decline has been accelerated by an inflow of migration from England- with the vast majority of these incomers not showing any inclination to learn the language of their new country. Not one party, not even Plaid Cymru, has dared to challenge and oppose this hugely destructive process over the years.

But the decline has also been about an exodus of Welsh-speaking people, especially younger people in search of employment opportunities, not available in the traditional Welsh-speaking areas. Cardiff of course has been the main beneficiary of this exodus and although it’s comforting on one level that these people are at least staying in Wales, there can be no denying that this process has denuded their home communities of their  vitality, their energy and their creativity.

The habitat needs to be rewilded, and the best way to start is with an idea

ARFOR could operate with say 60 elected councillors( 15 from the 4 areas). The geographic distances between Caergybi on Ynys Môn and Llanelli in Carmarthenshire need not be a problem in an age of fast-developing video conferencing. Its nominal headquarters could be based, say, in Aberystwyth or even Machynlleth, but with specific departments located in all four areas.

Arfor should be able to draw up a strategic trajectory for its territory in terms of economic development, housing, planning, social care and other key sectors such as food and drink, tourism, entrepreneurship and language regeneration.

The overall plans could then be implemented at a more local level by beefing up the role of present day community councils. These could be re-imagined by reviving the old model of the rural/town district councils (with several local community councils coming together to form these new entities) employing staff to discharge the duties delivered downwards by the central Arfor authority.

This would allow both a regional identity and a local identity to co-exist and co-create a better future for the heartlands which have only known decline, despair and disillusionment for the past two generations.

Cyngor Sir Gwynedd has already pioneered the way, having operated successfully through the medium of Welsh since the mid 90ies. Ynys Môn has declared that they are now going to follow its example. Arfor is half way there already.

As to the predictable concerns that Arfor would “divide” Wales, and re-ignite the old arguments aired in the 1970ies about such an idea, I would argue that the Welsh national identity is much more secure today than back then. That identity is secure enough to be able to live with the thought that different parts of Wales should perhaps be able to do things differently.

And there is no need to fret either that such a development would allow the other 5/6 regional authorities to ignore Welsh, because the Welsh Language Standards passed by Y Senedd recently will ensure that a modicum of bilingualism will remain in the others.

Associate membership of Arfor could also be provided over time to other Welsh-speaking areas, e.g Dyffryn Conwy, Parts of Denbighsire, Powys and Pembrokeshire, who wish to be part of the new entity.

Arfor has the potential to do more to develop the Welsh language than almost any other language success gained over the years, even arguably S4C – now a pale shadow of its former self and shorn of the clout it used to have in Welsh-speaking Wales.

It will give Welsh real political and economic clout in its traditional heartlands. It will provide employment opportunties and career structures for Welsh speakers from all over Wales. It will, at a stroke, make learning Welsh a real, economic and social necessity for incomers to these areas. It is quite literally, the golden bullet as far as language regeneration is concerned in Y Fro Gymraeg.

Cultural regeneration in the heartlands will undoubtedly lead to economic regeneration as well. It can be a magnet for Welsh speakers from all over the UK and wider afield. It can prove an inspiration to Welsh learners all over Wales and beyond to see that Welsh can thrive as a living, community language.

As Alun Davies weighs up his options, and perhaps even his legacy as far as the Welsh language is concerned as an enthusiastic learner himself, he might be tempted to bring that famous Bill Clinton slogan to mind, and re-phrase it to say : “It’s the culture, stupid” in seeking to effect change.

♦ end ♦

Jac chips in . . .

As persuasive as Aled’s argument is, I’m not totally convinced. For two main reasons. First, I’m one of those who believes it would divide Wales. Second, I look to Ireland’s Gaeltacht and I see no great success to emulate.

My fears on dividing Wales can be explained with an anecdote. My wife’s eldest brother lives in Crickhowell. About 20 years ago, with the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign still fresh in the memory, we were visiting and I got talking to my brother-in-law’s eldest son.

He brought up the subject of the campaign and made a forceful point that youngsters of his age in that area were experiencing a similar problem from retirees, good-lifers, commuters and others pushing up local property values – but nobody seemed to care about them because they didn’t speak Welsh.

The realisation of Arfor could result in those sentiments I heard in Crickhowell being raised again. And not just by sincere and sympathetic people like my nephew, but by the growing army of anti-Welsh bigots getting bolder by the day.

Which is why if Arfor does became reality I would like to see legislation introduced to protect anglophone Welsh identities in other rural areas. Otherwise Arfor could alienate people from Rhuddlan to Rhossili.

Now let’s turn to the Gaeltacht, as I guarantee many will do! It seems to be widely acknowledged in Ireland that the whole concept has been a failure. Everybody seems to blame everybody else, but the fact remains that the Gaeltacht is largely symbolic and kept afloat by a state reluctant to admit its abject failure.

The maps below tell their own story. (Available here in PDF format.)

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Maybe a Gaeltacht made up of small, widely separated areas was doomed to fail, and this might be Arfor’s advantage over the Irish model.

But let’s assume that the Arfor project takes off, how is it to be sold to the large, non-Welsh populations in Beddgelert, Betws-y-Coed, Barmouth, Tywyn, Aberdyfi, Borth, New Quay – even Aberystwyth? Will these communities be able to opt out?

Whether these settlements buy in or not to survive Arfor will need positive discrimination in favour of the indigenous population coupled with restrictions on who can move in . . . which would send the English media and its Welsh lapdogs into a feeding frenzy!

As I say, I would prefer to see all-Wales legislation that could protect all areas facing similar problems. A strategy guaranteeing that locals get priority in housing, employment, education, training, grants, and everything else, with nothing forced on these areas unless it is of demonstrable benefit to the local population.

But if we can’t have a national strategy, then I would support Arfor, but my support could never be wholehearted.

Feb 092018
 

INTRODUCTION

The National Renaissance of the 1960s put the wind up our masters for two main reasons.

First came the shock that there were numbers of Welsh people prepared to use violence and civil disobedience to achieve their political aims, with a far greater number supporting them.

Second, came the more worrying realisation that Welsh nationalism, hitherto regarded as a cultural issue confined to rural districts, was spreading into the more populous urban areas and ‘infecting’ people who spoke little or no Welsh. Perhaps there was even a danger of Pura Wallia being employed as Yeats and others had used the West of Ireland, a magical and unsullied ideal to be brought back to the rest of the land.

Something had to be done. The decision taken was to undermine the influential and inspiring Welshness of those western areas, which then ran from the outskirts of Llanelli in the south to the north coast around Abergele, with salients pushing towards the border.

What was envisioned was a form of social engineering, a kind of ‘watering down’ process, that would make life difficult for many Welsh people while simultaneously encouraging into western Wales large numbers of English.

To the point where the remaining Welsh would be outnumbered, anglicised, and this would result in the political threat they posed and the inspiration they provided being removed. Facilitated by legislation and other means; and if these could be sugar-coated, or disguised, then so much the better.

This is a strategy that Martiniquais poet and political activist Aimé Césaire so memorably described as ‘genocide by substitution‘.

from ‘Shifting Frontiers of France and Francophonie’ (click to enlarge)

Genocide by Substitution is just a more subtle means than outright clearance of killing off a culture and the identifications and loyalties that go with that culture.

THE EARLY YEARS

DEVELOPMENT BOARD FOR RURAL WALES

A good place to start would be the plan in 1965 for a new town of 60,000 or more inhabitants in the Severn valley near the village of Caersws.

Historian Kenneth O. Morgan, in Rebirth of a Nation Wales 1880 – 1980, couldn’t resist linking near-universal local opposition to the plan with Welsh nationalism and racism, “Welsh nationalists and others feared that the population of this new town might be drawn largely from English overspill from the west Midlands . . . that these migrants might be black, brown or yellow in hue”.

Here we have the authentic voice of Old, South Wales, anti-Welsh Labour.

No new town was built, but nearby Newtown was expanded, with a population imported almost exclusively from outside of Wales, and this provided the template for what was now to happen across the region with the creation of the Development Board for Rural Wales.

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The strange thing about the DBRW was that its charter stated it could only give financial and other help to incoming employers . . . and their employees. Which meant that small Welsh companies, family firms, could find themselves being put out of business by an English company that had moved into Wales with DBRW support.

‘But surely’, you ask, ‘these companies moving in provided jobs for local people?’ Well no, because under the ‘key worker’ provisions incoming companies were encouraged to bring their entire workforce with them, with relocation costs funded by the DBRW. On top of which the DBRW provided shiny new housing.

The Development Board for Rural Wales was the most blatant colonisation programme Wales had seen since the period following the Edwardian conquest, yet few dared question its operations for fear of being branded ‘racist’ or economically illiterate. For the DBRW was bringing jobs and people to areas suffering depopulation.

It should not surprise anyone to learn that the outflow of Welsh people from the DBRW region did not abate. Giving us a perfect example of Genocide by Substitution.

The Development Board for Rural Wales was merged with the Welsh Development Agency in 1995.

THE A55

Further north than the fiefdom of the DBRW economic and other development was said to be impossible without the A55 becoming a dual carriageway to Holyhead, for it was the ‘Highway of Opportunity’ (© Wyn Roberts) and would bring undreamed of wealth and opportunities.

One of the first consequences of the road’s upgrade was the closure of the Royal Mail’s Bangor sorting office, with work being transferred to Chester. Here we were, coming towards the end of the twentieth century, with devolution just around the corner, and Chester was reasserting its parasitic relationship with northern Wales.

For what the cheer-leaders for the A55 didn’t understand, or weren’t telling us, was that improved communications invariably result in the closure of ‘outposts’, which become redundant or expendable if their areas can now be served from further away.

Unfortunately, there was plenty of European money available for the A55 because it is a trans-national route linking Ireland with the continent. That it also opened up large areas of Wales to commuters and others from over the border was never considered.

And the spending continues. Another £250m will go into a Deeside Corridor which will help facilitate the Mersey Dee Alliance agenda by further integrating north east Wales with north west England.

LOOKING AROUND

Elsewhere in our rural areas, in the 1970s and 1980s, we saw an economy in decline. In the south west, for example, dairies and creameries closed, and milk was shipped off to England to be processed. Politicians were helpless . . . or at least, they did nothing.

And everywhere we were promised that tourism would be the economic salvation of rural Wales.

I’ve written about tourism many times and I hope I’ve made it clear that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with tourism, it can be a useful part of a diversified economy. But the tourism industry that has developed in Wales was developed to serve England, Wales happened to be conveniently near and became ever nearer with the spread of the railways and then the family car.

Even so, until fairly recently Welsh people did benefit. Many locals – my own late mother-in-law included – brought in some extra money by running a B & B. And back then local businesses such as pubs tended to be locally owned. But somewhere along the way the Welsh seem to have been squeezed out.

I remember a couple of years ago my wife and I stayed at a bed & breakfast in Abersoch, that favourite of the Cheshire Set, and the woman running the establishment told us, quite unprompted, that she was one of only two locals still running B&Bs in the village, yet there must be dozens and dozens of B&Bs in Abersoch.

Abersoch Dingy Week, organised by the Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club of Warrington. The building on the right is the clubhouse of the South Caernarvonshire (sic) Yacht Club (click to enlarge)

What we have in Wales now, masquerading as ‘the Welsh tourism industry’ is largely owned and run by strangers. The lack of decent jobs provided by tourism, coupled with its power to bring a new population into our rural and coastal areas, makes it another element in the overall strategy of Genocide by Substitution.

We have reached the point where tourists can come to certain parts of Wales, spend a week or ten days there, and not meet a Welsh person. Yet we are expected to be so proud of this ‘Welsh tourism’!

THE DEVOLUTION ERA

Those expecting things to get better under devolution were probably naive, they have certainly been disappointed. It may no longer be the blunt and obvious instruments of the DBRW, the A55 and creamery and other closures that inflicts the damage, now it is the stiletto thrusts of a ‘Welsh’ Government operating against the Welsh national interest.

Did I really say, “a ‘Welsh’ Government operating against the Welsh national interest”? Yes I did, and now I shall give some examples of this behaviour, hopefully in chronological order.

Let’s start with One Wales: One Planet, of May 2009. This publication retrospectively gave approval to a number of illegal settlements and the green light to future sustainable communities. Despite grandiose pronouncements about a “sustainable nation” it was really about encouraging those seeking a certain lifestyle to move to Wales.

This was followed in July 2010 by Technical Advice Note 6 Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities. (A Technical Advice Note “provides detailed planning advice”.)

TAN 6 replaced an earlier document that talked only of “Agriculture and Rural Development” but something had obviously changed, new influences were being brought to bear on the ‘Welsh’ Government that had little concern for traditional agriculture, or Welsh farming.

That building centre right, is it Lammas? (click to enlarge)

January 2012 saw former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing  in the ‘Welsh’ Government, Jane Davidson, join the University of Trinity St David’s Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness (INSPIRE). Among its aims is to “contribute to our communities by giving particular regard to issues of sustainable rural communities and the development of south west Wales as a low carbon region.

Davidson, former Labour MP for Pontypridd is from England, where she was privately educated, she knew nothing of Pontypridd when she arrived and little when she left, but being AM for the town allowed her to use her position in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition to promote causes dear to the hearts of others like herself.

I’m thinking now of those members of the English middle classes who in times past were given to wearing indecently voluminous khaki shorts and belonged to the Ramblers Association (since re-branded Ramblers). Having been vice-president while a Minister Davidson became President of Ramblers Cymru almost as soon as she left the Assembly in May 2011. She is, predictably, also a Patron of the One Planet Council.

I took a little detour from the One Planet website after seeing the name of another Patron, Paul Taylor, and his connection with the Cwm Harry Land Trust of Newtown, Powys. Another ‘No-Welsh-Need-Apply’ organisation.

The Accounts for the Cwm Harry Land Trust Ltd are overdue at Companies House, but it’s also a charity, No 1100899, though the accounts to the Charity Commission are even further in arrears.

The Accounts for 2015 tell us that the biggest source of income was – surprise! surprise! – the ‘Welsh’ Government, and the biggest outgoing was – never! – salaries. Though another reason for Cwm Harry being in a delicate financial position may be its attempt to buy Moelyci, “a community owned farm in North Wales”, in fact, just outside Tregarth, near Bangor. (Despite being committed to Welsh heritage and culture the Welsh language version of the Moelyci website is, as ever in such cases, under construction.)

The falling through of the Cwm Harry deal for Moelyci is explained here. I hope the ‘Welsh’ Government is keeping a close eye on how Cwm Harry spends our money. It should go without saying that no more public funding should be wasted on Cwm Harry or Moelyci.

This digression started when I saw the name Paul Taylor on the One Planet site. Taylor is, or was, also involved with Home Presteigne, which seems to have folded. But he’s still a busy boy, for he tells us that he’s an “Independent Advisor Community Land Advisor (sic) Service Cymru”. So what’s that?

click to enlarge

At the Royal Welsh Show in late July 2013, John Griffiths, then Minister for Sport and Culture, launched the Community Land Advisory Service Cymru, part of a wider Englandandwales organisation. The Welsh operation had received a £600,000 grant from the Big Lottery’s Climate Change Programme.

CLAS Cymru is “part of a wider Community Land Advisory Service across the UK, which is managed by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens but its press release suggests a different role in Wales with,“CLAS Cymru helps new communities to navigate through the challenges associated with finding land, negotiating a lease and obtaining planning.”

Back to the main thread.

While many of the influences behind One Wales: One Planet, TAN 6 and all the offshoots may be external to Wales native Welsh politicians have also chipped in, among them Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies, who announced in January 2014 that 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy Funding would in future be diverted from Pillar 1 (farmers) to Pillar 2 (‘rural development projects’).

The next attack on the population indigenous to the Welsh countryside was the ‘Welsh’ Government’s decision to cancel a £360,000 grant to Wales’ Young Farmers Clubs in January 2015.

Before finishing we need to consider the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015. To save you reading through the full document, with its bullshit piled high and overhung with impossible dreams interwoven with outright lies, here’s a quick-read Guide and an illustration from it.

The way the priorities are ordered tell you why the Well-being of Future Generations Act is another Hippies’ Charter

Hooray! Wales is going to save the Planet! Or rather, we are going to use the pretext of environmental concerns to encourage hippies and other shysters to move to Wales and become yet another piece in the jigsaw of Genocide by Substitution.

Finally, I was struck by the local branch of the UK government’s BBC mouthpiece putting out this strange article earlier this week which warned us that “rural west and north Wales are the most vulnerable to economic decline as the UK leaves the European Union”.

The example we need to follow, according to the article, is a ‘network’ currently running on Exmoor. “Helping incomers to integrate is part of the network’s ethos, according to its chairman, sheep and beef farmer David Knight. One of their initiatives is a micro-farming group for new owners of smallholdings . . .

Despite everything that the UK and ‘Welsh’ governments have done since the 1970s to undermine the indigenous economy of rural Wales, to destroy the region’s social and cultural integrity, are they now hoping to blame its final eclipse on Brexit!

But no! for it is to be reborn, salvation lies in “incomers”, on “smallholdings”; “new communities” “obtaining planning”.

CONCLUSION

I don’t wish to appear overly cynical, but when so much legislation is churned out by the ‘Welsh’ Government that is clearly designed to draw into Wales those seeking a green or eco-friendly lifestyle, then we are entitled to ask why.

Another reason for suspicion is the contradiction inherent in what is being done. For the purpose of the legislation, and the various initiatives is, we are told, to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint, but by attracting into Wales a whole new population that will keep animals, burn timber and in other ways bother the environment we can only increase Wales’ carbon footprint.

Which means that what is being done only makes sense on an Englandandwales level, which in turn means that a ‘Welsh’ Government is now legislating for Englandandwales by agreeing to take in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hippies and others that England wants to offload.

I can see the advantage for England in this arrangement, but where’s the benefit to Wales?

On the plus side, I suppose those living in eco-villages might be an improvement on the white trash being imported by some third sector outfits and certain housing associations, or the hypochondriacs and worse attracted by free prescriptions, and the retirees taking over so many communities. And let’s not forget the white flighters and other flag-fliers.

But none of these groups will create wealth, or generate employment. If anything, they will take the Welsh economy in an opposite direction, making Wales poorer by any criteria you care to employ. While also draining the Welsh public purse.

So the motive for encouraging this multi-faceted influx cannot be economic growth or job creation.

During this same period there has been no legislation, not even a vague promise, to defend our rural areas in a way that will protect their Welsh identity. So what is the point of a ‘Welsh’ Government if it only cares for strangers and works against the interests of its own people?

What we are witnessing in the Welsh countryside, and along our coasts, is a crude attempt to remove a perceived or potential political threat posed by a people and their distinct identity, in the manner described by Aimé Césaire – Genocide by Substitution.

♦ end ♦

 

Jan 132018
 

Llais y Sais (Voice of the English) is an alternative name for our much-reviled and laughingly self-styled ‘National Newspaper of Wales’. It’s readership has plummeted over the years and I think it’s now down to me and some old bird in Ponty.

Yes, I still read it, but then, I’m a masochist; I have to be to stay in Wales and witness the idiocy, duplicity and corruption at all levels of our national life. What’s more, as a blogger, I feel it’s my duty to read it so that you may be spared, with me bringing you the occasional report here or on Twitter. (God! the things I do for you.)

Today is your lucky day because I’m going to give you four stories from today’s issue. So relax, and enjoy.

BIGOT FODDER

First up is a strange little story about someone complaining that a Santa Claus couldn’t speak Welsh. Does this really merit half a page?

click to enlarge

As I suggest, this is a curious non-story designed to get the likes of Jacques Protic and Clements of Llangyfelach pounding their keyboards. It’s news value is zero, especially weeks after Christmas, which makes it nothing more than a ‘Welsh bastards!’ story designed to suggest intolerance or extremism on the part of Welsh speakers.

Which makes it entirely predictable that this ‘story’ originated with English Heritage West (aka Cadw) and ended up in Llais y Sais.

‘A BIGOT WRITES . . . ‘

It would be easy to dismiss this reader’s letter from today’s issue as more bigot fodder . . . but it comes from a bigot.

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If I’m reading this letter correctly, then Dennis Coughlin believes that ‘Welsh’ Labour’s undemocratic internal processes are there to keep in power “dominant quasi-nationalists whose raison d’etre is to placate those of a direct lineage to the sons of Owen Glendower”. He seems to hate things Welsh so much that he can’t even bring himself to write Owain Glyndŵr.

As if that wasn’t enough, in his final paragraph he goes on to accuse these ‘quasi-nationalists’ of racism, for there’s no other way to interpret his reference to skin colour.

And yet, this idiot does represent traditional Labour in Wales – the anti-Welsh Labour Party of George Thomas and Neil Kinnock. That party we’d hoped was behind us . . . but maybe it’s just been biding its time.

Is he a member of the Labour Party, and if so, will he be disciplined? And why did Llais y Sais publish such a disgraceful, anti-Welsh smear?

Out of curiosity I Googled ‘Dennis Coughlin’, and came up with this letter, published by Llais y Sais on January 8th. This man clearly has a problem with the Welsh language. Rather than pander to it maybe Llais y Sais should have a word with his family.

click to enlarge

And not publish any more bigoted garbage like the two letters it’s published this week from Dennis Coughlin.

TAX AND SPEND

A regular columnist in Llais y Sais is economist Dylan Jones-Evans. I read him with no great enthusiasm but it helps pass the time. In today’s piece he again attacked the possibility – no more at this stage – of the ‘Welsh’ Government introducing a tourism tax.

Some of what he’s written deserves comment.

click to enlarge

As you may know, I support a tourism tax because I would like to see the money raised spent on those areas suffering excessive levels of tourism. I live in such an area and I know that the great majority of local people see no benefit from tourism.

Worse, they are disadvantaged in a number of ways: tourism provides low skill, low pay and often seasonal employment; tourism results in people wanting to settle, which leads to higher house prices and, due to the age profile of these immigrants, increased strain on our NHS and other services; tourism also results in Anglicisation; then we have the issues of traffic congestion, environmental degradation, waste, etc.

So if we are to have a tourism tax then I would want to see the revenue collected used to alleviate some of these problems, perhaps by helping local young people get on the housing ladder.

But Dylan Jones-Evans questions if the revenue from a tourist tax, “will really go towards improving the tourism facilities as promised”. Promised by whom? What is the point of levying a tax on tourism only to put it straight back into tourism?

Any tourism tax in Wales must be compensatory or it’s not worth bothering.

Elsewhere he tells us that “the tourism industry generates nearly £9bn for the economy and supports around 242,000 jobs”. Which if nothing else, reminds us that when it comes to tourism figures can be plucked out of thin air, because there is no independent source for figures on tourism and no trustworthy verification.

To illustrate the problem, and even though Dylan Jones-Evans tells us that tourism “supports” 242,000 jobs, StatsWales gives a figure of just 131,300 jobs in “tourism-related industries”, for 2015, so your guess is as good as mine as to where his figure came from.

Perhaps it came from some body run by tourism operators, which looks at towns like Llandudno and Tenby, or areas like Snowdonia and Gower, and concludes that everyone working there must be involved in tourism. Deceitful and deliberately misleading.

And the same can be said for the figure of £9bn.

‘AS LONG AS HE’S FROM CARDIFF’

As you probably know, I’m a football fan. Obviously I support the Swans and Wales, but I also watch games involving other clubs and countries. In this year’s World Cup I shall again be supporting Argentina, though I had hoped to be swearing at the telly wearing red, but a combination of bad luck and cynical Irish tactics put paid to that prospect.

So football coverage is one reason I buy Llais y Sais, though even this is marred by the contributions of Paul Abbandonato, ‘Head of Sport’, no less. But I should be used to it because I remember when that shyster Sam Hammam took over Cardiff City Abbandonato went into overdrive using photos of the National Stadium and insisting that Cardiff City would soon need to play there because they’d be entertaining the likes of Barcelona.

Hammam it was who played his role in Swans-Bluebirds relations by insisting that Swans’ fans should switch their allegiance to Cardiff City. And Abbandonato lapped it up. Abbandonato is not just biased towards the football club, he’s something of a Cardiff nationalist, singing from the ‘Welsh’ media’s Cardiff über Alles song sheet.

Today’s contribution from Abbandonato was in keeping with all that has preceded it except that it wasn’t a report or a preview of a game, instead it was an attempt to influence a decision soon to be made by the Football Association of Wales.

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As far as Abbandonato is concerned the FAW’s decision is between Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy, there’s nobody else in the frame.

Though if you read the article there is – given its subject matter – one glaring lacuna, and that is that despite bigging up his favourites he has nothing to say about their experience. Because quite simply they have none. Which means that Abbandonato wants our national football team to be managed by a man with no experience and for no better reason than that he comes from Cardiff.

But there are other considerations, especially with Giggs. To begin with, I don’t think most fans would accept him due to his reluctance to turn out for the national team when selected (which he has blamed on his manager at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson).

But then there’s a question mark over what kind of a man he is. I’m referring now to his eight-year affair with his brother Rhodri’s wife, which seems to have taken its toll on his brother. Do we really want such a man in charge of our national football team, and impressionable young men?

I believe that following the performance of our national team in Euro 2016 the FAW could aim a bit higher and get a top coach, someone with experience. So I urge the FAW not to be swayed by Abbandonato and the Cardiff lobby and to cast the net wider, find an experienced coach and a man we can all respect.

UPDATE 16.01.2017: And lo! it came to pass as predicted that the selection committee empowered by the FAW did appoint the aforementioned Ryan Giggs as the new manager of our national football team. The media was forced to admit that the news was not welcomed by all Welsh fans but tried to play down the hostility.

Unfortunately for the BBC it ran a poll which showed that only a minority thought it was a good decision. And this, remember, was on the UK BBC website, which means that a lot of Manchester United fans would have voted ‘Yes’ for a club legend. Which tells us that most Welsh fans oppose the decision.

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So there you are, I’ve reminded you why you no longer read Llais y Sais – I bet you’re glad!

♦ end ♦

Dec 282017
 

LET NOT FIDO AND TIDDLES DIE IN VAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A QUICK COMPARISON BETWEEN MONACO AND WALES

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

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monaco (click to enlarge)

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

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

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

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

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR OUR POLITICIANS FOR 2018 AND BEYOND

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

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

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

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

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

THINKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda