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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

click to enlarge

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.

click to enlarge

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.)

click to enlarge

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.

click to enlarge

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monaco (click to enlarge)

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

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

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

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

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR OUR POLITICIANS FOR 2018 AND BEYOND

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

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

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

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

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

THINKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

 

Dec 122017
 

Tis the time of giving, and goodwill to all men – but not on this blog!

A few old favourites return and I take another look at scams with which we are familiar . . . all too familiar. It’s Deck the Halls indeed – with oodles of public funding. For this is Wales, and it’s always Christmas!

~~~

NEIGHBOURS

Following the previous post I wrote to Wrecsam planning department over the weekend, and was answered very promptly on Monday morning. I think I’m now a little nearer to understanding what’s been going on at 33 Grosvenor Road.

To recap: there are adjoining, semi-detached properties at 31 and 33 Grosvenor Road in Wrecsam town centre. The first is owned by the ever-expanding homelessness charity and third sector outfit the Wallich; the second by Bawso, a similar body dedicated to helping women from ethnic minorities.

Both properties have been substantially extended to the rear, as shown in the title plan to 31a (which I assume is the address of the extension).

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When I consulted the Wrexham County Borough Council website I only went back as far as 2006. Which meant that I did not find the planning permission granted in July 2002 to then owner Castlemead Homes for an extension to the rear for a “two and half storey rear extension comprising covered car parking area and additional office accommodation”. A completion certificate was issued 16 November 2004.

Which would appear to put Bawso on the right side of planning regulations . . . or maybe not.

Because, if you recall, when we looked at planning permissions granted to the Wallich property at 31 we found that there was an authorised change of use in 2008 to a House of Multiple Occupation, and later that year there was further permission for a “Change of use of upper floors from office accommodation to a hostel for homeless people”.

I guarantee that the Bawso property at 33 is used for a very similar purpose to the Wallich property, but no permission for change of use has ever been granted.

I have therefore suggested to the Planning Enforcement team at Wrexham County Borough Council that they might wish to make enquiries in order to establish whether Bawso at 33 Grosvenor Road has planning permission for the uses to which the building is being put.

To be continued . . .

UPDATE 14.12.2015: The Planning Enforcement team at WCBC inspected 33 Grosvenor Road and the response I got said:

“I have been to visit 33 Grosvenor Road.  They are not running a homeless shelter there, the business merely provides advice and assistance to their customers; there is no overnight accommodation at the building.” After querying the size of the building I was sent a plan. Just look at it!

Over three floors we find fourteen separate offices plus a conference room and a former drawing office. Does Bawso really need such a building? It was probably bought in a job lot with 31 from the previous owner. For remember, Bawso ‘paid’ £457,000 for this building in 2009, a building that, if it’s not used for accommodation, is clearly too big for Bawso’s needs.

So who gave Bawso the money to buy a building it doesn’t need, was it the ‘Welsh’ Government or the Home Office?’

UPDATE 02.01.2018: As I suspected, it was indeed our wonderful ‘Welsh’ Government that paid for this large building Bawso may not even need (for I’m told they’re certainly not using much of it). This capture is from the Accounts for year ending 31 March 2009.

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GARDEN PATHS

I may have mentioned that last month I submitted a FoI to the ‘Welsh’ Government asking how many homelessness organisations the WG funds and how much funding is involved. Here’s the response I received last Friday from a Carl Spiller of the Housing Policy Division.

To say I was disappointed with that response would be an understatement. Though I’m not surprised to read that there are 48 different organisations receiving funding to alleviate homelessness; no, what disappoints me is the funding quoted, which is an absurd underestimate.

Let us put this into perspective by referring back to the Wallich, an organisation based in Wales and dealing solely with homelessness. Here are the accounts for year ending 31 March 2017. Go to page 25 and you’ll see that the Wallich alone received almost seven million pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government, yet the reply I got wants us to believe that funding for homelessness is never much more than eight million pounds a year – for 48 organisations!

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Clearly Mr Spiller has latched onto the Homelessness Prevention Grant Programme, perhaps because it helpfully uses the term ‘homelessness’ in its name. Yet there are many other funding streams for homelessness, not least the Supporting People Programme Grant from which the Wallich gained over six million pounds in the past year.

I don’t know whether Mr Spiller is confused, or whether he thinks my mother bred an idiot; but whichever it is I have written to him again asking for the right answer, which might indeed be 48 organisations, but I know damn well it involves more than one programme, with the amount of money running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

To be continued . . .

FARAWAY PLACES

Staying with the Wallich for a minute, something else that caught my eye in the 2017 Accounts was on page 31, in the section headed ’13 Investments’. Where we see this:

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Overseas Equities!!

Can anyone offer an explanation as to why an outfit like this, ministering to the homeless of Wales (and beyond), totally dependent on the public purse – plus the income derived from assets and investments paid for from the public purse – should have overseas equities?

What might these equities be? Dare we imagine this £938,478 (a mere £409,412 the year before) resting in some sun-blest tax haven?

When a third sector body reliant on public largesse has so much spare moolah then it’s reasonable to assume that it’s getting too much in the first place.

A LITTLE PLACE IN THE WEST

In this recent post there was a section headed ‘The “Bedsit Baron” of Pembroke Dock’ based on an article in the Pembrokeshire Herald about Cathal Eamonn McCosker. Well he’s made the news again.

There’s been a fire at one of his properties and someone has been badly burned.

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You’ll notice that there’s no mention of McCosker in the report, but there is a reference to E-Lettings being the owner of the property. This is the company set up by McCosker partly because local estate agents were loath to deal with him and partly because it maximised his profits.

Here’s another reference to E-Lettings from the same edition of the Pembrokeshire Herald, this time reporting a complaint made by E-Lettings against the councillor named in the account of the fire. The complainant is named as E-Lettings “proprietor, Miss Jill Evans”. I can only assume that Ms Evans works for McCosker, because there is no doubt about who owns E-Lettings.

McCosker is just another unscrupulous individual of the sort that has flocked to Wales since devolution turned on the tap of easy money.

It doesn’t really matter whether they speak Estuary English, attend conferences and lie to us about ‘helping people’, or whether they’re more honest about ripping off the public purse like McCosker . . . in many ways I’d prefer to deal with an unashamed rogue like McCosker than the hypocritical bastards I normally write about. You know where you are.

That said, McCosker’s reign of terror in Pembroke Dock must be brought to an end before someone dies, no matter how far up the political food chain the blame extends for corruptly funding his slum landlord empire.

To be continued . . .

THOMAS HARRY SHADY SCARROTT – SURELY NOT!

Someone else who has graced these pages in recent months is Tom Scarrott of Vale Holiday Parks Ltd. Read about him in The Caravanserai of Ceredigion. What a lad!

Our little contretemps started with a difference of opinion over the benefits of tourism. He of course wants us to believe that tourism provides lots of wonderful, full-time, well-paid jobs, it is – as the ‘Welsh’ Government would also have us believe – the economic salvation of rural Wales.

It soon became clear, even in a Twitter exchange, that Scarrott has a problem with the truth on all sorts of matters.

I was not surprised then to have a few people draw my attention to a wee piece that appeared in WalesOnline last week, headed The Welsh firms named and shamed for not paying the national minimum wage’. and to see Vale Holiday Parks appear.

So the man who claims his firm brings prosperity to Ceredigion can’t even pay the minimum wage. Like I say, he’s got a problem with the truth, that boy.

RESORTING WITH UNDESIRABLES

Staying with tourism we head from Ceredigion in a south-easterly direction towards the city of my dreams, before taking a slight detour to the Afan Valley. Of which I have writ before, first with English Tourism in the Colony of Wales, then with Colonial Investments.

This project was apparently dreamed up a Yorkshireman named Gavin Lee Woodhouse who pulled aboard that master of self-promotion, ‘Bear’ Grylls. For public consumption Woodhouse seems to have been replaced to some extent by Peter Moore, “the man who brought Center Parcs to the UK”, and Grylls is also less prominent now.

There was yet another piece extolling the benefits of this venture in yesterday’s Llais y Sais.

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Let me spell out what we’re dealing with here, why there is a valid comparison to be made with what Scarrott does at his Ocean Heights Leisure Park near Cei Newydd, and why they are so damaging to a country without independence and lacking politicians with the balls to impose certain conditions.

Both Ocean Heights and the planned ‘resort’ in the Afan valley are self-contained, by which I mean the intention is to get people to stay there and also make them spend as much of their money as possible on site, rather than have them wander abroad and spend some money in the Wales beyond their electric fences and guard dogs.

This inevitably means that most of the money earned will leave Wales. In Scarrott’s case we know that he banks in England, his auditors are in England – it’s almost as if he fears a coup! The company behind the Afan valley venture is of course an English company.

‘Oh, come on, Jac, you cynical old git, what about the jobs?’

Read the bit in the article where Moore says, “There will be in the region of 1,000, all-year-round, permanent, direct jobs, plus significant indirect employment, the majority of which will be relatively local”. Rarely does one encounter a single sentence containing so many weasel words. Treasure it!

We don’t have independence, but if we had politicians with balls they would insist that: 1/ All direct jobs go to locals. 2/ Indirect employment also goes to locals by using local contractors and suppliers. 3/ Profits will be re-invested in Wales.

But who have we had representing us – why! Ken Skates! The same Ken Skates who thought the Flint Ring was a wonderful idea. Now ably assisted by Dafydd Elis Thomas.

This is flim-flam all the way. In one quote Moore describes the Afan Valley as a rural area, but the truth is the resort will be 10 miles from Swansea city centre and less from Port Talbot steelworks. Rural, yes, but guests are not going to be kept awake by the howling of wolves.

But enough! feast your eyes on the artist’s impression here.

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Look at it! Bloody wonderful, innit . . . I mean, look at them, er, umbrellas, and that bridge – tidy bridge, that is. Makes ew proud to be Welsh, mun . . . not that there’ll be much about it that’s Welsh, apart from its location.

But then, that sums up tourism in Wales.

To be continued . . .

♦ end ♦

 

Oct 302017
 

THE DOGS BARK, BUT THE CARAVAN REMAINS STATIC!

The original meaning of caravan was of course a camel train, found in Asia, the Middle East or North Africa, carrying people and goods, often over deserts. The word comes from the Persian kārwān. Sometime in the 19th century it began to be applied in Britain to the horse-drawn homes of Romanies.

Today it means something towed along Welsh roads holding up traffic for mile after mile. The bigger ones, that never go anywhere except on the back of a low loader, are to be found now all over Wales, especially near our coasts, and it’s these I wish to deal with.

A caravanserai was a stopping place for a caravan. It might be an inn, possibly an oasis. I suppose I’m being a little whimsical in likening caravan sites in Wales to overnight stops on the Silk Road, but there you are.

‘Are we there yet?’

Those who’ve been following this blog will know that I had a Twitter exchange recently with a Tom Scarrott, we disagreed over whether or not there should be a tourism tax. It should have ended there, but Scarrott chose to pursue matters by inviting himself and a few ‘colleagues’ to the meeting planned for the Belle Vue Royal Hotel on November 4th to discuss the formation of a new political party. Read about it here.

Understandably, the hotel cancelled the booking. The meeting has now been rearranged for November 18th with an invited audience.

As often happens in these cases, the article prompted people to supply further information on the subject matter. Tom Scarrott is described as a man who likes to have his own way, something of a bully. Which anyone could have guessed from the tweets he sent me.

Though one source provided fascinating background information.

FAMILY

It seems that to fully understand the reach of the Scarrott family we need to appreciate its links with the Barkers.

According to my source, Thomas John Barker (DoB December 1931) ran the amusements at the Clarach Bay Holiday Park just north of Aberystwyth (when it may have been owned by Rank). I’m told he then bought the site in the early 1980s with Thomas Scarrott Snr as his right-hand man. By which time Scarrott may have married Barker’s daughter.

So it all started at Clarach Bay, and the Holiday Village, Clarach Bay, remains the correspondence address for the Scarrotts’ Vale Holiday Parks Ltd, and a number of other Scarrott companies; plus the Barkers’ Heatherdale Holidays (Clarach Bay) Ltd, and Barker’s Leisure Ltd.

The Barkers also own the Jolly Fryer Fish and Chip Shop Ltd, Sizzlers Restaurant Ltd, and a number of other companies based at Clarach Bay.

Between them the Barker-Scarrott clan own and run the following caravan sites in Ceredigion and beyond; 1 – 9 being Scarrott sites, 10 – 12 Barker sites:

  1. Cross Park, Kilgetty, Tenby, Pembrokeshire SA68 0RN
  2. Ocean Heights Leisure Park, Cross Inn, New Quay, Ceredigion SA45 9RL
  3. Woodland Vale, Ludchurch, nr Narberth, Pembrokeshire SA67 8JE
  4. Parc Farm, Graianrhyd Road, Llanarmon, Near Mold, CH7 4QW
  5. Grondre Holiday Park, Clunderwen, Pembrokeshire SA66 7HD
  6. The Village Holiday Park, Cross Inn, Ceredigion SA44 6LW [Formerly: Glynteg Caravan Park]
  7. The Old Vicarage Holiday Park, Red Roses, Whitland, Carmarthenshire SA34 0PE
  8. Liskey Hill Holiday Park, Perranporth, Cornwall TR6 0BB
  9. Penlon Caravan Park, Cross Inn, Ceredigion SA44 6JY
  10. Pilbach Holiday Park, Betws Ifan, Rhydlewis, Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion SA44 5RT.
  11. Wide Horizons Holiday Park, Cardigan Road, Aberaeron, Ceredigion SA46 0ET
  12. Aberdwylan Holiday Park, Abercych, Boncath, Pembrokeshire SA37 0LQ

You’ll see that I’ve typed three of them in red, so let me explain why. These three sites are all near Cross Inn on the A486, which runs down to New Quay from the main north-south A487. Important because I’m told the jewel in the crown for Tom Scarrott is the Ocean Heights Leisure Park.

AN UNACCEPTABLE MODEL

The Ocean Heights site is largely self-contained, in that it tries to offer those staying there as many as possible of the facilities they’ll need.

What’s more, those staying at the other two A486 sites are told, “guests are welcome to use the facilities on offer at this park including the Ocean Heights Country Club”.

Clearly, the Scarrott family hopes that those staying at their three Cross Inn sites will spend as much of their money as possible on the facilities provided at Ocean Heights. The flip side being that the Scarrotts want their ‘guests’ to spend as little money as possible in the wider community.

Bad enough, but let’s also remember that these are self-catering holidays. Which means that those staying in the caravans and chalets at Ocean Heights and elsewhere will bring as much as possible of what they need with them. They’ll even fill up with petrol or diesel before leaving home, and might return on the same tank.

The question then becomes – how does the wider community of Ceredigion benefit from tourism like this? And with this model being encouraged all over Wales by the ‘Welsh’ government and local authorities how does Wales benefit?

And as I pointed out in an earlier post, the Scarrotts like to take the money they’ve made out of Wales at the earliest opportunity, with their bankers being in Wiltshire and their accountants and auditors in Coventry. (And it’s the same arrangements for the Barker family.)

Then, when they’re asked to make a contribution to the community in which they operate, through council tax, Tom Scarrott protests that it will ‘devastate’ the local tourism industry. When a tourism tax is mooted, it too will cause ‘devastation’.

Let’s be clear about this. If tourism is an economic activity intended to bring money into a country, and to ensure that that money circulates within the host country bringing the widest possible benefits, then a business model such as that favoured by the Scarrotts should not be tolerated.

That it is tolerated, and worse, encouraged, goes a long way to explaining why tourism fails to deliver anything except clogged roads, tatty ‘attractions’, increased house prices and Anglicisation for our rural areas.

By all means encourage the Welsh family farm to diversify with a small caravan site, but Ocean Heights has more in common with a holiday camp, putting as little as possible into the local community. That’s why I believe large, self-contained caravan parks should be discouraged, and eventually phased out.

If this option is rejected then ways must be found for Ocean Heights and the rest to contribute to their local area, and the means are already available: increased council tax on static caravans that are obviously holiday homes, and a per head, per night, tourism tax.

PLAID CYMRU AND TOURISM

Despite the damage caused by tourism, Plaid Cymru is a big supporter.

Quite how we square Plaid’s commitment to the environment with support for mile after mile of coastal caravan sites,‘Ye Olde’ chippies and amusement arcades, the resultant rubbish, etc., is a mystery.

Equally mysterious is Plaid’s backing for an industry that through its activities and its inescapable corollary of settlement has devastated the bastions of the Welsh language.

I can only conclude that in some areas the tourism lobby is so well organised and vociferous, and Plaid Cymru’s position so weak, that the party has just caved in. Certainly the party opposes a tourism tax, with spokesman Steffan Lewis describing tourism as “the lifeblood of the economy”.

Listen, Steffan, if tourism really is the lifeblood of our economy then we’re as good as dead.

Simon Thomas, the regional AM for Mid and West Wales goes further, and wants to reduce the VAT for tourism. Arguing, “It has been estimated that cutting value added tax in tourism from 20 per cent to 5 per cent would bring £7.6 million to (the constituencies of) Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and £4.5 million to Preseli Pembrokeshire.”

As with so many of the ‘statistics’ produced by the tourism industry these figures are plucked out of thin air.

From studying various statements made by Plaid Cymru people it’s reasonable to conclude that the party has little to offer rural areas other than tourism. Another worrying revelation came in a Twitter exchange I had a couple of weeks back with Ywain Myfyr of Dolgellau which closed with the exchange below.

Ywain was a local headmaster and is a decent guy, heavily involved with the cultural life of the area, through  Sesiwn Fawr and Tŷ Siamas. Which makes his defeatism all the more worrying.

Plaid Cymru’s attitude is unfathomable. Tourism and its corollary will destroy the Fro Gymraeg and with it Plaid Cymru’s heartlands, so by encouraging tourism Plaid Cymru is effectively hastening its own demise!

‘WELSH’ TOURISM, SERVING ENGLAND BETTER THAN WALES

Before concluding, let me make my position clear. I believe there is a role for a tourism component in a broad and diversified economy. But to rely, or over-rely, on tourism is the economics of desperation, or worse.

I challenge anyone to name me one wealthy country that relies for its wealth on tourism.

Take London; tens of millions of tourists visit London (and spend a lot more per head than visitors to Wales) but London’s wealth isn’t generated by tourism. In the bigger picture tourism is just one element.

Or look at our near neighbour, Ireland. I’ve been visiting Ireland off and on for over 50 years, and for most of that time the economy relied to a considerable degree on the tourist pound, dollar, mark or yen, certainly in some of the more rural areas. But the ‘Celtic Tiger’ wasn’t nurtured on tourism.

We can see that tourism brings few benefits to Welsh people, and many problems to Wales, so why is it being promoted as if it was the answer to all our ills?

First, the UK economy is in trouble, and might dive further when Brexit hits. ‘Staycations’, which ensure money stays in the UK, are therefore being encouraged. (The exchange rate also helps.) That’s because most of the money generated by tourism in Wales will make its way to England in one form or another.

So when somebody in London wants more done to attract English tourists to Wales, the message is passed on by the London-controlled civil servants who double up as ‘advisors’ to Carwyn and his gang, and then the directive is repackaged as a “Welsh’ Government initiative”.

WalesOnline headline 8 March 2017

And the ‘Welsh’ Government is glad to do so, because they’ve got no ideas of their own. The same of course applies to Labour’s little helpers in Plaid Cymru. Equally bereft of ideas are our councillors.

This explains why rural and coastal Wales is now a recreation and retirement region for England. And it’s state policy. Because in addition to the economic benefits of staycations tourism has the extra advantage of Anglicising those areas most Welsh in speech and political outlook.

This process is under way from Conwy to Carmarthenshire. Little is done to bring in or encourage the growth of decent jobs, because to do so might make it less easy to fill the minimum wage jobs in tourism, care homes and the like.

Last week we learnt that Welsh workers have the lowest take home pay in the UK. So let’s remind ourselves one last time how Labour and Plaid Cymru plan to make things better – tourism! 

No invective, no hyperbole, no rant from me, could condemn these useless bastards better than they condemn themselves.

Now let’s get our new party started and begin putting things right in our country.

♦ end ♦

 

Oct 222017
 

HOTEL CANCELS BOOKING

The Belle Vue Royal Hotel in Aberystwyth, where I had planned to hold the meeting on November 4th, has cancelled the booking. Here’s an account of what happened, or what might have happened, because I’m not entirely sure.

After an exchange of e-mails with the Belle Vue, confirming that the room was available, I telephoned on Sunday the 15th and paid for it. We agreed an all-in price of £300 for the room and refreshments. That was it, everything was arranged.

Then on Thursday I had a couple of strange e-mails from the hotel suggesting that the payment hadn’t been made, or hadn’t ‘gone through’, and asking for the last four digits of my credit card. This struck me as being rather odd so I checked my bank statement. There was the payment, clear as day.

At almost exactly the same time I began to get tweets from @thomasscarrot. I knew the name because we’d exchanged a few tweets earlier over the possibility of a tourist tax. But this time he was tweeting about the meeting, and making thinly-veiled threats to turn up with some ‘colleagues’. He gave the impression that he planned to disrupt the meeting.

In these tweets he also claimed to know the owner of the Belle Vue Royal Hotel. Inevitably, perhaps, I put two and two together. Read part of the exchange here. The use of a Union Jack emoji I took to be an indication of a certain political outlook.

I made it clear to him more than once that he was not invited and that he should stay away, and that if he did turn up he would be asked to leave.

I e-mailed the Belle Vue again, gave the requested digits from my credit card, and told them about the exchange I was having with Scarrott. The response I received on Thursday you can read for yourself.

I like the wording, “I am aware of Mr Scarrott”. Makes him sound disreputable. But anyway, he doesn’t know the owner of the hotel as he claimed. That’s his first lie.

Later on Thursday I received the e-mail below, together with my receipt.

Then on Friday afternoon came the bombshell. No reason given, no name appended. (I have removed the names from the e-mails above.)

I am in no doubt that the intervention of Thomas Scarrott, whether directly or indirectly, caused the booking to be cancelled. Though I can’t blame the Belle Vue Royal for taking precautions.

To assist in his undermining of our venture Scarrott used the lies peddled by Phil Parry on The Eye. Even finding an old tweet of Parry’s to pass on to a slavering public.

For anyone fortunate enough not to know Phil Parry, he regards himself as a hot-shot investigative journalist who “exposed” my support for the FWA . . . 50 years too late, and after I’d put up photos of Cayo Evans and others on this blog. It’s only a matter of time before he tells us who was on the grassy knoll.

(No, it wasn’t me.)

If you go back to Parry’s woeful piece about me you’ll see a few comments – rare on Parry’s blog unless he writes about me – two being from a Garry W Gibbs. I don’t know Gibbs but it seems I’ve blocked him from this blog, so we must have fallen out over something.

Even so, in his other comment he makes it clear that he regards me as honest. Which I am. In the comment I’ve used below he asks Parry a very important question. Parry claimed in his piece that “some of his (my) victims have been given around-the-clock police protection”. Victims! He can only mean people I’ve written about. Which I suppose would make me a ‘victim’ of his.

Of course he can’t prove it. When he’s not publishing outright lies they’re the fantasies of swivel-eyed bigots like Jacques Protic. If Protic tells Parry there’s a SWAT team stationed around his house 24/7 because of something I’ve written, Parry will write it up. He won’t believe it, but he’ll still write it up because he wants others to believe it.

But enough of that slanderous little scumbag Phil Parry, I’m sure you’re all wondering about Thomas Scarrott. Or to give him his full name, Thomas Harry Shady Scarrott. Apparently Shady really is his name, not an epithet.

THOMAS H S SCARROTT

It looks as if he is now running the family business of Vale Holiday Parks Ltd, having taken over from his father, also Thomas Scarrott. Based at Clarach Bay near Aberystwyth the firm owns a number of sites down as far as Tenby, one in the north at Llanarmon yn Iâl, with another in Cornwall.

I say the firm ‘owns’ a number of sites, but of course they’re all being bought with mortgages. In fact, there is a total of fourteen outstanding mortgages against Vale Holiday Parks Ltd.

Eight of the mortgages cover the caravan sites listed on the company’s website.

There are also mortgages against two sites said to be in or near Llandysul which I can’t find on the internet, Penlon Caravan Park and Glynteg Caravan Park at Cross Inn. (Is there a Cross Inn nearer to Llandysul, or is it the one on the A486 to Cei Newydd?) If they don’t appear on the company website then it’s reasonable to assume that they don’t rent out caravans, so are the ‘vans privately owned, or are these sites used for other purposes?

There’s a mortgage on Red Roses filling station near Whitland, plus another on land near the filling station. Then there’s freehold land to the north of Pendre, Cross Inn, where we can no doubt expect to see yet another blot on the landscape in the very near future, and finally, there’s an all-encompassing debenture.

The company has expanded rapidly since being Incorporated as The Vale Holiday Parks Ltd 19 February 2003.

PANTS ON FIRE!

As the Twitter exchange continued others got involved and it took a number of turns. For example, on first visiting the Companies House website, and checking the latest accounts, I noticed that the company’s auditors are in Coventry and the bankers in Wiltshire.

When I suggested to Scarrott that this was an example of money made in Wales leaving Wales he came up with the most remarkable story. It ran . . . ‘We used to bank in “North Wales” but our manager, from Caernarfon, moved to Wiltshire and so we followed him. The bank manager now is from Cardiff’.

So I went back to the earliest available accounts, those for 2004. And there I saw that the company’s registered office was in Birmingham, the accountants in the same city, and the bankers in Bath. So it would appear that the Scarrotts’ Cofi banker left Wales ere the company was even formed!

By now I was sure that Thomas Scarrott Junior has problems with the truth, or perhaps he just finds it easy to lie.

Soon afterwards our boy came over all shy and blocked everyone. When he re-emerged in the Twittersphere it was clear that he had deleted those tweets he must have realised laid him open to ridicule or worse.

‘DEVASTATING’

The Scarrotts are yet another family that has moved into Wales to make money from tourism. For them, our homeland is just a tourist destination to be exploited. If we complain we get the traditional colonialists’ response: ‘Look at all the good we’re doing for your country!’

The good they’re doing themselves must never be mentioned, nor must the money leaving Wales, or the soaring property prices as tourists decide to settle, with the resultant Anglicisation . . .

You will not be surprised to learn that Thomas H S Scarrott wants his company to contribute as little as possible to the communities in which it operates.

Last year he railed against the heinous decision of Cyngor Ceredigion to raise the council tax on holiday homes. “Ceredigon’s tourism industry could be dealt a devastating blow” he insisted in what Caravan Times described as “a fiery tirade”. Now another dragon appears in the form of a possible tourist tax, and guess what – it too will have “devastating effects”.

I think somebody should tell him that if you over-use a word like devastating you run the risk of giving a number of impressions: 1/ That you have a limited vocabulary, 2/ That you are prone to exaggeration, even lying, 3/ That you’re a selfish bugger who doesn’t care that such taxes – if properly spent – could be of great benefit to the areas worst affected by tourism.

Possibly all three.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

As things stand, we don’t have a room. And to find one big enough for an open meeting on November 4th is going to be difficult at such short notice. Unless of course, someone knows of such a room in Aberystwyth?

Though Scarrott’s intervention and the resultant cancellation could be a blessing in disguise. I always had reservations about an unstructured public meeting. One worry was that we’d have a free-for-all with people talking across each other and everybody trying to promote their pet idea.

Another worry was that with people being able to walk in off the street some nutter would jump up and shout, ‘I knows where we can get guns’ . . . and there’d just happen to be a reporter in the room, or a microphone, or someone who would take the idiot’s message to the world.

Having had experience of agents provacateurs and police spies I know of what I speak, and I know how the bastards operate.

On top of which there are plenty who’d like to see the new party fail to take off, including the leadership of the party that held a conference in Caernarfon over the weekend. Which is why we must tread carefully and give no one the opportunity to damage the project.

The alternative I’m suggesting is a smaller meeting, of invited people, who just lay the foundations, maybe choose a working name, then we recruit members and leave the policy details to the first AGM which can be held early next year.

Doing it this way we’ll know who’s who at the first meeting, after which we advertise the launch, invite applications for membership, vet applications and issue memberships; then motions will be submitted for debate at the AGM, with no one attending the AGM unless they’re a member.

In other words, how other political parties operate.

That’s my thinking. If anyone has other thoughts, then let me know. I would also like to hear from anyone who definitely wants to be at the inaugural meeting, which may not now be in Aberystwyth, nor on November 4th.

But rest assured, the new party will be launched before the year is out.

♦ end ♦

Sep 192017
 

TWENTY YEARS ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENGLAND’S LITTLE MOUTHPIECE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIVIDED, DISMEMBERED, DESTROYED

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

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

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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHO CAN WE TRUST?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you up for the coming fight?

♦ end ♦

Sep 132017
 

To recap . . .

A plan has been unveiled to give Merthyr a ski slope and other goodies, including a much-need equestrian centre and yurt accommodation. Though I was unaware of any yurts in Merthyr needing accommodation; no doubt – as with social and other housing in Wales – these yurts will magically appear from beyond our borders.

This project at Rhydycar West is the brainchild – so Siôn Barry of WalesOnline told us – of Leigh Gerald Large, a Canadian representing a company by the name of Marvel Ltd, in cahoots with Robin Kellen of Snowsport Cymru/Wales. All this and more may be found in my earlier post Merthyr Ski Slope.

Courtesy of WalesOnline

We established that Mr Large is a man with a great interest in trees of all kinds, for he is involved with a number of companies that have trees in their names. Many of these ‘tree’ companies seek the conditions that only the British Virgin Islands can provide.

We further established that Large has enjoyed associations with some colourful characters, including a Cardiff solicitor suspended last year by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for allowing his one-man show to descend into a state of “financial chaos”.

But try as I might I was unable to find any information on Marvel Ltd. There is a company of that name registered with Companies House but it’s definitely not the company planning to house yurts in Merthyr. And as there cannot be two companies with the same name registered with Companies House it was reasonable to conclude that either Marvel Ltd didn’t exist, or else it existed in some other jurisdiction.

Now read on . . .

Thanks to information received I now know that Marvel Limited is registered in Guernsey. So I went to the Guernsey Registry for a few documents. First we have Marvel’s Memorandum of Incorporation dated 09.09.2013. There are two shares, one each held by CN Alpha Limited and CN Beta Limited, both of Guernsey. (And when searching you must type ‘Limited’, for ‘Ltd’ turns up nothing.)

click to enlarge

So I decided to dive in and get information on CN Alpha Limited. The first document I bought was a change of director dated 02.06.2014. The second was a change of director dated 30.09.2015. The third document was the Annual Validation dated 31.12.2016. This last document tells us that CN Alpha Limited has four directors with what look like genuine domestic addresses on the island.

Of course, we may be in the labyrinth of tax-haven registrations where locals can put their names to hundreds or even thousands of companies. Then again, these people might be genuine directors of the company that owns Marvel Limited. How do we know?

Blackwell and Hearse are also directors of a UK-registered property company. (As is Geoffrey Robert Le Page, a former CN Alpha director.) Though the shares in Thornhill Property Investments Ltd are owned by Thornhill Property Holdings Limited . . . of Guernsey. Round and round we go.

Turning back to Marvel Limited I learnt that CN Alpha Limited and CN Beta Limited had been joined as directors by Cavendish International Limited. Going to the Annual Validation for 2016 we see that CN Alpha Limited has now become CCD Alpha Limited, with a similar change for CN Beta Limited.

So who the hell are Cavendish International Limited? Well, that should read were, because the company was voluntarily struck-off on July 17.

Which obviously means that Cavendish International Limited can no longer be a director of Marvel Limited. But the last entry for Marvel on the Guernsey Register is dated January 17. Maybe they’re ducking and weaving so much that those behind Marvel can’t keep up with their own manoeuvrings.

And yet it could be that even if we could get to the bottom of what’s going on on Guernsey we’d find that the trail goes off to the British Virgin Islands. Marvel may have a presence on Guernsey for appearance’ sake only due to the Channel Islands being regarded as more acceptable than those tropical locations full of shifty foreigners.

One thing’s for sure, Leigh Gerald Large is not mentioned anywhere on the Guernsey documents. So perhaps he’s lurking behind the frangipani trees on the BVI. Which might suggest that he’s no more than a front man for somebody else.

Unless fresh information comes in I think I’ve gone as far as I can with this investigation. Which is why I’m passing it over to the ‘Welsh’ media and our politicians to get at the truth. (Don’t laugh!)

There must be journalists, politicians, Merthyr council and Welsh Assembly officials, who have contact details for Leigh Gerald Large. They should get in touch with him and demand that he tells them who owns Marvel Limited, and where it is ultimately registered.

Those behind this ski slope wonderland have gone to great lengths to hide their identity. Which is suspicious in itself. And worrying when we can predict with certainty that this scheme will demand large dollops of public funding.

We are entitled to know the truth.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 14.12.2017: Pine Fields Private Ltd now has a new director in James Douglas Shanks, and although the address given for him is in East Sussex, the company’s base, I suspect he himself might be located in Scotland.

Shanks was appointed on September 25th, two weeks after this piece appeared. On the same day William John Handley resigned from Pine Fields Private Ltd, leaving Shanks as the sole director.