Sycharth: A National Treasure Neglected

I hadn’t planned on writing anything for a while, but after visiting Sycharth today, the home of Owain Glyndŵr, I am compelled to put a few thoughts into words.

Fortunately, I took a long way home, stopping here and there; which gave me time to cool down, reflect on what I’d seen, and think about what I was going to write.

First, I’m going to provide a map, for anyone minded to visit. I’m doing this because you’ll see no directional signs of any kind for Sycharth . . . until you’ve found it! I’m not sure if SatNav can cope.

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Sycharth is close to the border, on a narrow road south of the village of Llansilin, and once you’ve found it, you’d better hope you can park your car, for there are just four parking spaces. When I arrived today all four spaces were taken.

(My clutch then took a bit of a hiding as I engaged in some dextrous parking.)

Before heading to Sycharth proper I read the information board put up by Cadw, the ‘Welsh Government’ agency with responsibility for the site.

Talking of sites, and Cadw, I’m writing this on September 16, the day we celebrate the life and heroic deeds of Owain Glyndŵr; and yet the homepage of the Cadw website has not a single mention of him – it’s all Anglo-Norman castles.

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The information board is very light on, well, information. Which results in this rather curious phrase: ‘ . . . yet by 1405 it (Sycharth) had become a burnt-out shell at the hands of Prince Harry (the future Henry V).’

Without the context of a brutal and bloody war of national liberation that reads as if this Harry bloke should have been banged up for being a pyromaniac.

The cars already parked in Sycharth’s miniscule car park seemed to belong to school teachers, up on the mound with a bunch of kids. Once I’d frightened them off I had the place to myself.

But before even getting to the hallowed ground I had to negotiate the stile. Now I’m six foot tall and reasonably fit, but many others would have struggled. One step was missing and the whole bloody thing looked as if it was about to collapse into firewood.

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After negotiating the stile I had to traverse the ground to the remains of the motte and bailey, and that meant dodging cowpats. Yes, I appreciate that Sycharth is on the land of a working farm. But even so . . .

If the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ can find £4.25m to buy flood-prone Gilestone farm – ostensibly for the Green Man Festival – then I’m sure to God it can find a few thousand to buy the field containing the home of Owain Glyndŵr.

It certainly could if it wanted to.

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I’m not suggesting that Sycharth be rebuilt, or that it needs a 500-space car park. (The local roads couldn’t cope.) But the site could be bought, and tidied up. With room for 15 – 20 cars. And it could definitely be better signposted.

The bottom line is that I believe we should show more respect for, and gratitude towards, Owain Glyndŵr. Because if it had all ended in 1283, then there might have been no Wales today.

One job that could be done immediately is to replace that completely uninformative information board! And put up a few bloody signposts.

Because at present the whole site carries an air of neglect, as if certain people wished they didn’t have to bother. As if they don’t really want anyone going to Sycharth.

Another example of this neglect would be the weeds crowning the mound.

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I know Cadw is little more than English Heritage (West) and interested only in Anglo-Norman castles and the income they generate, but things need to change.

Cadw needs to be reminded that it is first and foremost a body celebrating and conserving Welsh history. And to us, as a nation, Sycharth is more important than Caernarfon castle.

It may be humble by comparison, but the princes that lived at Sycharth were our princes.

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As I got back to my car a few other people were arriving. Pilgrims, by the look and sound of them. I hope their faith helped them overcome the disappointment I’m sure they felt at what they found.

Maybe I should have warned them about the stile, and the cowpats, but I was too busy thinking about those anglocentric crawlers at Cadw.

And also thinking about us as a nation, for tolerating what I’d just seen.

UPDATE 28.09.2022: By an amazing coincidence someone else visited Sycharth around the same time I did, drew attention to exactly the same issues I commented upon (even down to the broken stile), and also called for the site to be taken into public ownership. Amazing!

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


A Response to . . .

. . . Wales Tourism Alliance, UK Hospitality Cymru, and Professional Association of Self Caterers UK. And the article below, which I reproduce from last week’s issue of the Cambrian News.

The article reports a desperate attempt to stop the closing of the loophole that allows holiday home owners to claim their property is a business and thereby avoid paying the council tax surcharge on holiday homes.

I have chosen to write this because rarely have I read such self-serving and unadulterated bilge / bollocks / bullshit. (Take your pick.)

It begins with the foundation lie that holiday homes in Wales are owned by locals; that is, Welsh people. Once the foundation is laid a whole house of lies can be built upon it.

It can be argued that to close the loophole, or to increase the council tax surcharge, will damage Welsh communities economically, will result in locals having to sell out to “wealthier outsiders” and – to cap it all – these moves will harm the Welsh language.

INTRODUCTION

I propose to go through the article and address the points made in the order they were made. But let me begin by introducing the organisations being quoted in the article.

First, the Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA), formed in 1998 (I quote from the WTA website) ” . . . when the National Assembly for Wales was established and the responsibility for tourism was devolved from Westminster to Cardiff”.

The WTA website is in English only.

Explanation: Viewing devolution as a Welsh Nationalist plot the (largely English-run) tourism industry in Wales decided to draw the waggons into laager.

UK Hospitality Cymru (UKHC) is another of those English organisations that pretends to have a Welsh presence by adding “Cymru” to the name. The contact details are all for the London office.

Finally, we have the Professional Association of Self Caterers UK (PASC UK), which doesn’t even bother with the pretence of adding “Cymru” or “Wales”. It got involved in Wales when the Wales Association of Self-Catering Operators (WASCO) folded in 2020.

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PASC UK would no doubt be treating Wales as a region of England were it not for the proposed legislation reminding its Board – none of whom seem to have any connection with Wales – that things are different here.

Here’s the article I’m referring to. I suggest you read it and as you read give some thought to what is really being said. (It’s available here in pdf format.)

Health warning! Those with a low boiling point should not proceed.

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DAMAGING TOURISM

Let’s start the dissection of the article in paragraph 3.

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It seems that the three organisations quoted believe that the proposed legislation will damage the tourism industry. By which I assume they mean that Wales will see fewer tourists, and the impact of tourism on Wales will be reduced.

Would that be a bad thing?

Tourism is Welsh communities taken over and anglicised. (Think Abersoch, Aberdyfi, and other places.) It’s increased traffic, environmental damage, shit on Yr Wyddfa. Do we really want to keep these things at their current level?

Of course not. These are things we should be seeking to reduce or banish entirely.

Turning to the economic argument . . . how many tourism businesses are owned by Welsh people? How many Welsh people have jobs in tourism that pay enough to enable them to buy a home in a tourism ‘hot-spot’, like Abersoch? (Or anywhere else?) How many people does the tourism industry employ in November, or February?

GREEN TOURISM, HONEST!

Moving on to paragraphs 9 and 10.

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Paragraph 9 contains a plea to increase the letting threshold from 70 to just 105 days (rather than the proposed 182) in return for which the three groups will work towards making tourism “greener”.

How, exactly?

Will tourists come by train and then use the extensive Welsh network to travel around the country? Or perhaps they’ll walk? Hire a mule?

Let’s be honest; these groups realise that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has succumbed to climate hysteria and they’re just playing on that.

Though it does raise an interesting point. Because if the ‘Welsh Government’ wants higher self-catering occupancy rates then that will inevitably mean more tourists, and more car journeys, and more pollution.

How does that square with the ‘Welsh Government’s belief that Wales can single-handedly save the planet?

Paragraph 10 ends with the claim that the proposed legislation will have “a disproportionate and damaging economic impact on . . . communities”.

Presumably the communities being destroyed by holiday homes!

This claim seems to be based on the argument that people staying in rented accommodation put money into the local economy. Which is no doubt true.

Taken to its logical conclusion, the greatest benefit, with the most money going into the local economy, will be achieved if holiday homes become permanent homes for Welsh families.

FEWER HOLIDAY HOMES WOULD BE BAD FOR LOCALS

Paragraphs 11 and 12 (below) plumb new depths of desperation. And dishonesty.

The three organisations claim legislation that might force cheats into either paying what they’re supposed to pay, or else sell up, will be of no benefit to local people. “It will reduce local owners’ ability to earn an income”.

To begin with, few holiday homes are owned by local Welsh people. But here the ‘Welsh Government’ should simply make exemptions for those that are.

Will this be discriminatory? Of course it will, but it would also mean the ‘Welsh Government’ would be prioritising the best interests of the indigenous population.

Would it be anti-English? Of course not. People from Namibia, Bolivia and Kazakhstan with holiday homes in Wales would be equally affected.

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There would, it’s claimed, be “a decline in secondary jobs in hospitality, retail, house maintenance and cleaning”. An old one, this. A variation on the theme of holiday homes putting money into the local economy.

It’s such obvious nonsense that those spouting it must think we’re idiots!

As for “house maintenance”, I live in a village with far too many holiday homes, and I’m amazed by the tradesmen’s vans I regularly see from exotic locations over the border. The areas where the holiday home owners live.

If I had the power I would introduce a fine for any home owner not employing local tradesmen. And a public flogging for a repeat offence.

Paragraph 12 reads, “(The proposed legislation) will not safeguard the Welsh language as these businesses will be lost to wealthier outsiders prepared to meet the higher costs of having a second home or self-catering business in Wales.”

Is it being suggested that holiday homes now safeguard the Welsh language? If so, then they really do think we’re stupid!

Though I agree with them that if the current loophole is closed, and the 300% council tax surcharge levied, then many properties will come on the market. But will they really be bought by “wealthier outsiders”?

And if they were, then what would it mean?

Nothing, really, except that our councils could be getting a good income from the 300% surcharge and those holiday homes that were falsely claiming to be businesses will have to be run as real self-catering businesses – providing all the benefits the three organisations claim such enterprises provide.

Everybody wins . . . except those currently cheating the system

In my opinion, closing the loophole and raising the surcharge to 300% would reduce the demand for and the attractiveness of holiday homes and result in property prices in rural areas of Wales falling. Which would mean more properties coming within the financial reach of local people. 

And if the 300% holiday home council tax surcharge doesn’t bring enough properties within the reach of locals, then we should raise it to 500%.

“WITHOUT HOLIDAY HOMES YOU’D ALL STARVE!”

Finally, to paragraph 15, which warns that the economy of rural Wales will collapse if holiday home owners currently gaming the system are made to pay their full whack.

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To begin with, let’s consider the term, “self-catering”. It means catering for oneself. And here’s an example of what it means.

I see people arriving in my village for a week or two in a holiday home and it often takes a good half an hour to unload the car – because they’ve brought just about everything bar the kitchen sink. (Same applies to those staying in caravans.)

Yes, they go to local restaurants, pubs, and other places. But what they spend in the local economy is – for obvious reasons – exaggerated.

It takes us back to the point I made earlier. No matter how much holiday homes may contribute to the local economy that contribution would be dwarfed by locals living in those properties for 12 months of the year.

A child could understand that. Why do the defenders of holiday homes pretend not to?

CONCLUSION

The report produced by the Wales Tourism Alliance, UK Hospitality Cymru, and Professional Association of Self Caterers UK purports to promote the self-catering sector but reads like a defence of those exploiting the existing loophole by pretending their private holiday homes are businesses.

Then, by proposing that the minimum occupancy time for a property to qualify as a genuine rental should increase from the current 70 days a year to just 1o5 days, the three organisations tend to undermine their own case.

Proposing such a low level of occupancy does nothing for the image of a thrusting, non-seasonal tourism sector without which we Welsh would be reduced to cannibalism.

Especially as on the PASC UK website we read of Council member Robert Kennedy and his wife that, “In just 3 years their non-agency on-line marketing strategy grew the business to 90% occupancy”. That’s 328 days a year.

But at the end of the day, we are discussing tourism. And as I have said repeatedly, the damage inflicted on Wales by tourism far outweighs any benefits seen by Welsh people.

Anything that can ameliorate or reduce the impact of tourism in general and holiday homes in particular should be supported. So back the closing of the loophole. Insist that your council imposes the 300% surcharge. And demand a tourism tax.

Then ensure that the money collected does not make its way to Corruption Bay, or to third sector bodies, or to housing associations. That money must be used in the areas damaged by tourism for the benefit of local people, especially younger people looking to buy a home in which they can raise a family.

What these three, essentially English, organisations, are saying is: “You couldn’t manage without us”. The traditional response to uppity natives.

Reminding us that tourism in Wales is a largely colonialist activity. One country being used for the benefit and enjoyment of another – and then told to be grateful for being exploited.

Well they know where they can stick that!

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


Tourism or Survival; Wales Must Choose

My intention was to start winding down this blog, spend more time with my wife, grand-children, books, Malbec . . . but things keep cropping up. That said, it’s very unlikely I shall undertake major new investigations. Diolch yn fawr.

I had planned a Miscellany this week, but then realised that all but one of the items was on tourism. So I dropped that one item – about a bunch of good-lifers pretending to be local and demanding funding so they can live on Gower – and I’ve gone for a selection of pieces on tourism.

FERODO / ‘AWEL Y FENAI’

It seems like a different world when a small town like Caernarfon could have a factory employing over 1,000 people, but it wasn’t so long ago. And there were other employers in our smaller towns.

In the south west there were big creameries making use of the locally-produced milk. These creameries closed and nowadays that milk is shipped over the border, providing thousands of jobs in England.

As an example of colonialist exploitation it’s on a par with Cuban tobacco leaf being shipped ‘home’ to Spain to be made into ‘Cuban’ cigars.

But I digress.

After a change of ownership and name, labour disputes, and other problems, the old Ferodo factory eventually closed for good some twenty years ago.

The Ferodo plant in its hey-day. Click to open in separate tab.

New plans for the site were announced just over 2 years ago, and you can catch up with my article here (scroll down) before pushing on to get up to speed with the latest news.

A number of sources have kept me updated, so let’s see what they have to report.

And where better to begin than by looking at the planning application, which is for:

 'Development of a holiday and leisure park to include 173 holiday lodges; 51 new-build holiday apartments; change of use of building to 4 holiday apartments; a leisure hub building; re-configuration and renovation of industrial units; provision of a private water treatment plant; and, associated car parking, landscaping, access and internal access roads.'

We can also see that the plan covers not only the old Ferodo site but also Plas Brereton. And if that sounds familiar, then it’s probably because Paul and Rowena Williams of Plas Glynllifon fame were talking of buying the place.

Go on, you know you want to – take a trip down Memory Lane.

Just over a week ago the developer, Mr Peter Brendan Gerrard O’Dowd, was promising untold benefits to the area from his Gwel y Fenai project. But planners seemed unconvinced, on a number of issues, including the impact on the Welsh language.

Speaking for Mr O’Dowd, agent Rhys Davies, of Cadnant Planning, promised the site would have bilingual signage. Wow!

Though, in fairness, planners had many more reservations about this project than just language impact. Which explains why it was rejected by councillors on Monday.

Though you’ll see from the report that a number of councillors spoke up in support of the project, or else urged planners to continue discussions with Mr O’Dowd. I fear that some councillors in Gwynedd have reached a point where they genuinely believe that low pay, low skill, tourism jobs are the best our people can – or should – aspire to.

I hope I’m wrong.

Another source, who worked at Ferodo, reminds me that one reason the site has lain empty for so long is the asbestos. Either still in situ, or else in the sealed tip on site. Though this source sees no real problem with building on adequately sealed asbestos tips:

'With a cover of several feet depth of inert material and soil, mobile homes or lodges could safely stand on top of the tip as no noxious gases would be generated by the buried material.'

This source’s concerns focus on where the money for the investment is coming from. So let’s give this some thought.

O’Dowd is a property speculator. If we look at his Maybrook company we see assets of over £11m pounds. Which looks fine. But most of the £11m is accounted for by property he’s bought with loans. The rest could be explained by overvaluing that property.

The 11 loans taken out before December 2017 have all been repaid. Most of these loans were with banks you and I would recognise. Since then, there have been 7 further loans, but none after October 2018. And these loans are with less recognisable institutions.

The two most recent loans were taken out with Together Commercial Finance of Manchester, who got in so deep and lost so much with Paul and Rowena Williams. You may remember that Together also funded the purchase of Llangefni Shire Hall.

In fact, Together has appeared on this blog a number of times, invariably associated with rather iffy companies and individuals. It’s a lender of last resort, where you go when banks turn you down.

In fact, Together may be worthy of investigation itself.

The suggestion is that Mr O’Dowd is over-reaching himself with this £70m+ project, because it’s impossible to see where the money will come from.

To progress this project, Bryn Coch Ltd was formed. As far as I can see, all the shares are owned by O’Dowd’s other company, Maybrook Investments Ltd. Bryn Coch’s only asset appears to be the Ferodo site, for which it paid 195,000 + VAT.

(But not all the site is owned by Bryn Coch Ltd. Go to the plan on the title document I’ve just linked to and you’ll see that part of the site is covered by title number WA965076. Here is the relevant title document.)

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Yet in the latest accounts, Mr O’Dowd values that land at £5.4m. And it might be worth that, with planning permission. But it doesn’t have planning permission, and without it that land is worth no more than the £195,000 + VAT that was paid for it.

Maybe less.

I suspect Mr O’Dowd may not be alone in this venture. There may be associates yet to be identified. Until we know the full story, planning permission should be rejected. And even if the project does become more transparent, the planners’ objections remain valid.

And those objections will not be overcome by the magnanimous gesture of bilingual signs in a town where 85% of the population speaks Welsh.

Before moving on, I just want to touch on Mr O’Dowd’s new companies, and his other holdings in Gwynedd.

Maybrook Investments Ltd has two holdings on Penamser Road in Porthmadog. (The Pwllheli road.) Title numbers CYM135945, CYM255694. One is the old Gelert outdoor clothing unit, the other, nearby land.

Then, through new company, Lendline (NW) Ltd, Peter O’Dowd owns Parciau Farm – or part of it – which lies just across the A487 from the old Ferodo site. Lendline is owned by Maybrook Investments.

Finally, moving to Bangor, we find that another new company, Maybrook Investments (Parc Menai) Ltd, owns land either side of Penrhos Road, close by the A487, and not far from the A55 Expressway.

Land in two parcels: one to the south west of Graig House, Capel y Graig, title number WA533768; and the other to the west of Nant y Mount, Vaynol Park, title number CYM71442.

I can’t help wondering what has attracted Peter O’Dowd to Gwynedd. And why he’s bought the land he’s bought. Does he know something we don’t?

Or someone?

CARRY ON GLAMPING

There was a Twitter dispute last week with the owners of a new glamping venture near Pwllheli. I got roped in and found myself blocked by the proprietors of Brook Cottage Shepherd Huts.

As you might have guessed, the spat was over that toe-curlingly twee English name.

Also, that the venture got a £50,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales. I mean, Wales doesn’t already have enough glamping sites? Those involved couldn’t have raised the money they needed from Barclays or some other bank?

The two behind this exciting venture are Jonathan Gooders and Mark Barrow, who were previously in the fine arts business according to this piece from NorthWalesLive. Their ignorance of Wales would seem to be exposed by their belief that Welsh shepherds lived in glamping sheds.

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The company involved in this exciting venture at Y Ffor is Brook Cottage Holidays Ltd, formed just over a year ago. The two directors and shareholders are, as we would expect, Gooders and Barrow. On the Certificate of Incorporation both describe themselves defiantly as ‘English’.

I mention this because most people use ‘British’. I would obviously describe myself as ‘Welsh’, but it’s often the Ukip types who go with ‘English’.

But this is not their first company.

Let’s go back to what I wrote earlier, and the quote in NorthWalesLive, that said:

'Jonathan Gooders and Mark Barrow both have a background in fine art and wanted to put this and a passion for nature into redeveloping land near their new home at Y Ffor, near Pwllheli.'

But that’s not the full story. There are other recent companies that have nothing to do with ‘fine art’.

Certainly, Gooders and Barrow ran a company called Framers (London) Ltd, and Barrow may even have had a small gallery. Though Mark Barrow Fine Art (formerly Modern British Artists) seems to have folded. Certainly, the Twitter account hasn’t been used for a few years.

What really interests me is that Jonathan Gooders has been involved in a number of companies that have nothing to do with fine art, and all of which were dissolved around the time they moved to Wales. Three on the same day!

Barrow was also involved in at least one. Here they are:

Doesn’t inspire confidence does it?

This glittering business record might explain why Jonathan Gooders and Mark Barrow couldn’t get a loan from a ‘High Street’ bank. (Remember them?) It should also have been the reason why the Development Bank of Wales turned them down.

So I just hope that the £50,000 of our money is safe. But even if it is, don’t expect it to create any jobs.

But rest easy – for they have a wealth of experience in tourism and glamping.

TOURISM MAKING LIFE DIFFICULT FOR LOCALS

Now it’s time to move south, to Carmarthenshire, land of my great-grandfathers. And to be precise, to Cydweli (Kidwelly), which lies between the county’s two metropolises of Carmarthen and Llanelli.

An interesting town in many ways. Let me explain.

Something I’ve noticed over the past 50 years or so is that in rural areas the Labour Party is now almost entirely dependent for members and active supporters on people who’ve moved in. Invariably from England.

An example would be the we-know-best harridans trying to take over Knighton in Powys and dictate to everyone else.

Which might make Cydweli the most westerly community in Wales where the Labour Party is still native-run, just. But even here, in recent years the thinning ranks have been swelled by an influx of Guardian-reading know-alls who feel Cydweli can’t manage without their input.

Back to the narrative.

Earlier, when discussing plans for the old Ferodo site in Caernarfon, I suggested that some councillors may have given up on their communities seeing any jobs better than those provided by tourism. And that’s what might have happened in Cydweli.

For the Labour gang controlling Kidwelly Community Hub CIC has been handed £270,000 by the ‘Welsh Government’ for the ‘Black Cat Tourism Strategy’.

This seeks to ‘grow the visitor economy’ – at any price.

The no-expense-spared launch of Kidwelly’s Black Cat tourism strategy. Click to open in separate tab

The Black Cat project lead is Suki Baynton, who recently arrived from the Cynon Valley, where I’m told she was Contaminated Land Officer for Rhondda Cynon Taf council. She was certainly Property Manager for Ashfield Solutions for a while.

We see Suki in the above picture, on the right, in the red coat.

Suki has also launched her own company, Room Publishing Ltd. The website tells me it’s a load of New Age bollocks; but then, I’m a cynical old bastard who grew up in the real world.

Back to Cydweli, and the growing problems being experienced by locals as the county council and others seek to ‘grow the visitor economy’. (Why not just be honest and say, ‘We want lots more tourists’?)

For, clearly, tourists visiting the holiday homes and the Airbnb rents in this rather cramped old town are going to cause parking and other problems. Sure enough, this is what’s happening, and it’s pissing off the locals.

As my source puts it – ‘This is what happens when a Plaid Cymru council (Carmarthenshire) prioritises tourism and starts closing Welsh medium schools in surrounding villages.’

To help you make sense of what else he has to say I suggest you open this Google map of the town. Now read on . . .

'THE CASTLE AREA

There’s a cluster of holiday rentals inside the town walls of Bailey Street and Castle Street and Cadw have installed a barrier stopping parking to the little car park next to the castle. 
This has resulted in lots of tourist parking on New Street, the main through road. Residents, when they arrive home from work, are finding the free parking outside their homes occupied by visitors (sometimes with trailers of kayaks and jet-skis). So residents have been parking of the pavements and double yellows causing obstruction or getting parking tickets.

GLANYRAFON

There is a free car park at Glanyrafon (the overflow) which has been used by residents for many years. Now there is a plan to build a new grant funded museum next to it, on the nature reserve. This is the ‘History Shed’ relocated from Laugharne, a kind of WW2 Spitfires and gas masks hobby attraction. 
The adjacent car park, which has been free to residents, will now be paid parking, reserved for visitors. Residents of Bridge Street and New Street will lose their free parking.

PARC PENDRE

Carmarthenshire Country Council intends to close two schools. Ysgol Gymraeg Gwenllian in Station Road within the town and also Ysgol Gymraeg Mynyddygarreg in the nearby village (where children from Trimsaran also attend). It is to be replaced by a new consolidated school at Parc Pendre within the town behind the Coop. 
It’s anticipated there will be parking chaos due to the school run. Parents dropping off the kids to attend school arriving by car from further up the Gwendraeth valleys. This was anticipated in the plans and is to be mitigated with ‘enhanced parking controls.’ 
This involves new double yellows in Parc Pendre and a residential parking scheme in surrounding streets. Residents will be charged £30pa for a permit.'

Without recourse to a crystal ball, tea leaves, or seaweed (great-aunt Fastidia’s favourite), I can confidently predict Cydweli’s future . . . properties will be bought up by ‘investors’, coming from that enchanted land, ‘Away’, at prices few locals can afford.

This will result in the town losing its Welsh identity, the age profile will change for the worse, the rugby club will close, one or two pubs, and, as I can testify from my area, there’ll be no need for the new school – because there’ll be so few kids living locally.

And all this will have been achieved by ‘growing the visitor economy’!

Jobs! Did I mention jobs? No, because there won’t be any, this is ‘Welsh’ tourism.

UPDATE 26.11.2021: My source has now heard from Carmarthenshire County Council Highways Officer that –

All permanent residents in Cydweli will be charged £30 per household for a parking permit. All properties will be eligible to apply for a permit to park, even those with existing off-street parking and all properties run as holiday homes, self-catering lets, AirB&B will all be able to apply for a business permit for their guests. HMRC documents such as a tax code in England will be acceptable documentation for a permit.

BEWARE OF SMOKESCREENS AND VIRTUE SIGNALLING

Not long ago, in a wonderful example of those who are unaffected by the decisions they take affecting the lives of Welsh people, the ‘progressive’ consensus in Corruption Bay – i.e. Labour and Plaid Cymru – abolished Right to Buy.

In the village where I live most of the council houses had been bought by their Welsh tenants. Without the option of RtB most of them had little hope of buying a property in their own community. And it’s the same in other villages in the area. With Aberdyfi being the stand-out example.

The reason for that is outsiders snapping up properties; some for holiday homes, others because people want to move here permanently. With many more of the latter than the former.

Yet a bunch of virtue signallers see nothing wrong in depriving Welsh working class people of their only hope of owning a property in their home community. Perhaps they believe the lower orders must be cared for, and dictated to, as if they were children, by those who have sipped at the fount of socialist knowledge.

There were so many other options the leftists could have adopted that would not have disadvantaged our people, but they weren’t prepared to consider them.

And now those ‘progressives’ are in some kind of informal coalition down in the swamp. Which is more nonsense; for despite periodic bouts of foot-stamping from Plaid Cymru they’ve always been in alliance. Nobody was ever fooled.

One of the problems this repulsive mob of mediocrities pledges to confront is that of Welsh people being forced out of their communities by rising house prices. Now I’m a firm believer that to confront and deal with any issue one must first understand it.

Unfortunately, there are those among us, supported by influences external to Wales, who wish to misinterpret the crisis in our rural and coastal areas.

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Canary is a left wing English publication, fighting what can no longer be called class war because the working class has been alienated by the modern left’s obsessions with gender, race and climate.

It’s no longer even ideological. It’s a kind of cult-like belief in certain absurdities, as we saw when Undod (mentioned in the panel above) and its allies sought to take over Yes Cymru earlier this year.

The left wants to view the crisis in rural and coastal Wales as some fault of the capitalist system; as part of a bigger, UK-wide, ‘housing crisis’. Without ever addressing the influx of good-lifers, retirees and the rest.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Jennie Bibbings works for Shelter Cymru. This is one of the forty-odd ‘homelessness’ outfits funded with our money by the so-called ‘Welsh Government’. Done for no better reason than to employ otherwise unemployable Labour-supporting graduates and drop-outs from our oversized universities.

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If Jennie Bibbings genuinely believes that our rural and coastal areas would still have a housing problem without ‘2nd homers/saes’, then she’s a fool. But she doesn’t believe that. She’s merely spouting the leftist line.

Which believes that only nationalists care about the destruction of Welsh communities. And because ‘All nationalism is evil’ the only acceptable response is to either ignore such concerns entirely or else subsume them into something bigger that can more comfortably be supported.

So I urge you to be on your guard for attempts to cloud the issue and misrepresent the crisis facing us. These attempts will come from the socialist consensus in Corruption Bay and its ideological soul-mates elsewhere in Wales, and outside of Wales.

‘TOURISM, TOURISM, WHAT BULLSHIT IS SPOUTED IN THY NAME’

Some forty years ago, not long after the start of the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign, I was watching a television programme in which the late Prys Edwards, then head of the Wales Tourist Board, was being interviewed and the subject of holiday homes came up.

Edwards seemed almost offended and asked, ‘You surely aren’t suggesting that holiday homes have anything to do with tourism?’ The interviewer let him get away with it and the discussion moved on.

Prys Edwards. Click to open in separate tab

I use that example because it’s symptomatic of attitudes in Wales, the dissociative thinking that results in us being unable to honestly identify the problems facing us, and, as a result, solving them.

Despite what Prys Edwards wanted us to believe, holiday homes are an inevitable consequence of tourism. The clue is in the name.

I have yet to meet anyone who has bought a holiday home in an area with which they did not already have some familiarity from having taken holidays there. Have you?

And yet, as I’ve already said, I suspect that holiday homes will be used as a distraction from the bigger problem to which I have alluded. Which would be a terrible mistake, and a betrayal of our people.

For the problem of locals being priced out of the communities in which they were born and raised, and the anglicising of those communities, can not be resolved until we accept that permanent in-migration is a bigger factor than holiday homes.

This article in the Guardian last week, focusing on Llandudoch, was headlined, ‘Cultural genocide by bank transfer’. The words were those of veteran language campaigner Ffred Ffrancis.

Who also said, ‘ . . . the problem was being turbo-charged by the “flight” from cities caused by Covid’. A reference to people buying properties in Wales in order to work from ‘home’.

And he’s right. But the problem won’t go away with Covid-19.

We, as a nation, and more especially, Welsh speaking communities, are facing an existential threat to our existence. And it all stems from tourism.

Whether it’s the mass tourism that destroyed the Welshness of Abergele and Borth, or the more up-market tourism that is making us strangers from Rhossilli to Rhosneigr.

We are past the stage where consultations and working groups serve any useful purpose – these are just delaying tactics employed by a Vichy administration under orders from its masters in London. We need action. And we know what that action must be.

The ‘Welsh Government’ must introduce legislation that limits who can buy domestic property in Wales.

There can be no more words. No more dithering. No more obfuscation. No more passing the buck. Either the ‘Welsh Government’ acts, and acts quickly, or there’s a growing risk that others will.

Faced with cultural genocide, many will argue that any action will be justified.

♦ END ♦

 




Miscellany 27.10.2021

My intention was to start winding down this blog, spend more time with my wife, grand-children, books, Malbec . . . but things keep cropping up. That said, it’s very unlikely I shall undertake major new investigations. Diolch yn fawr.

This week’s offering is a bit different, but it’s a format with which regulars will be familiar. I’m going to cover a few topics and I’m sure everyone will find something to pique their interest.

It’s a biggie, but broken up into easily digestible – and nutritious! – chunks.

AFAN VALLEY ADVENTURE RESORT

Following last week’s blog piece devoted to the relaunched AVAR project the ‘Welsh’ media played its usual role by allowing those I’d written about to respond. And just like a Taliban press conference, no questions were asked.

The piece below appeared in Llais y Sais on Wednesday. It’s worth a few comments.

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According to the article, the project’s funding is coming from ‘Octopus Real Estate’. Oh no it’s not. For this is a one-woman company formed in April to buy a property in Wiltshire.

And so I presume it refers to one of these pension fund Limited Partnerships, Octopus Commercial Real Estate Debt Fund II and Octopus Commercial Real Estate Debt Fund III.

But which one? And, again, what is the ultimate source of the money?

The Beans on Toast followed up on the same day with this. Also authored by Richard Youle.

In it we read head honcho Martin Bellamy quoted as saying: “I would be very interested in ensuring that local people get the opportunity for employment.”

Which is a very convoluted statement. What the hell is, ‘I would be very interested‘ supposed to mean? Because I would be ‘very interested’ in winning the Lottery. But it ain’t gonna happen.

Then there’s, ‘ensuring that local people get the opportunity for employment’. So does that mean they’ll be allowed to complete an application form – which will then be binned?

Why couldn’t he just say, in a clear and unambiguous way, ‘We shall give locals priority when it comes to recruitment’?

It would be nice to think that local Labour councillors will press Bellamy on this, demand a firm commitment to employing as many locals as possible, and not just in the low-pay jobs. But there’s more chance of me winning the Lottery.

But these plugs for AVAR throw up other questions.

In the Neath Port Talbot Borough Council press release of October 12 we read that the project is now called Wildfox Resort Afan Valley. And there are two Wildfox companies.

The first is Wildfox Resorts Afan Valley Ltd. The other is Wildfox Resorts Group Ltd. Both companies formed March 16, 2021 by Benjamin Daniel Lloyd who was later joined by Bellamy.

Then there are the Rocksteady companies, Rocksteady Resorts Group Ltd and Rocksteady Group Ltd, where we find Lloyd and Bellamy joined by the interesting Paul Christopher Baker. These two companies were also launched in March.

And they weren’t the only companies launched that month

Are Lloyd and Baker still involved? Why were so many companies formed in March?

This story ain’t going away, and neither am I.

TREASURE ISLAND

This saga began with the plan for a £1.3bn tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, promoted by a geezer who never quite managed to come across as kosher. Whatever, the plan was thrown out by the UK government in June 2018.

Then Swansea City Council stepped in with a Tidal Lagoon Task Force. This heralded the ‘Dragon Island’ chapter, promising 10,000 floating homes.

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Behind the plan, according to WalesOnline, was:

'Malcolm Copson who lists previous projects including Dubai's Atlantis the Palm resort and the delivery of Disneyland Paris, is behind the plans in SA1.

Mr Copson, who founded and co-runs Hong Kong based company MOI Imagineering, has been advising the tidal lagoon taskforce set up by the Swansea Bay City Region'.

As late as last month it was being reported that this project was still going ahead.

But now, in the past few days, everything seems to have changed as we turn to chapter 3, and new characters, with the £1.7bn Blue Eden project. Said to have one great advantage over its predecessors in that it will not require public funding.

And while what passes for the Welsh media has stressed the involvement of DST Innovations Ltd of Bridgend, RE News makes clear that DST leads ‘an international consortium’. Though quite what ‘leads’ means is unclear.

The new project is explained in this ITV report with a video interview with Tony Miles, the man said to be behind the project. If I sound unconvinced it’s because of the US connection and events last year in West Virginia.

It’s worth mentioning that this project includes a battery factory promising jobs for over 1,000 people. Which lives up to the company’s name in that it uses locally available anthracite coal rather than imported, and expensive, rare earth metals. Explained here.

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So what can Companies House tell us about DST Innovations. Well, for a start, it’s based in Bridgend and it was Incorporated in November, 2011.

The latest accounts (to November 30, 2020) show Assets of over £5m, of which only £113,076 is Tangible assets. The remainder being accounted for with shares.

Looking at the distribution of those shares we see that lead director Tony Miles has 183,100, but his holding is dwarfed by the 750,000 of Etive Investments, and the 619,413 of RC3 Inc. So who are these major shareholders in the new Swansea Bay project?

Etive Investments is a name that has cropped up in New Zealand, South Africa, and Luxembourg. I think we should focus on the third one because DST Innovations is mentioned.

RC3 Inc could be a Green building company in Kentucky or an apparently inactive company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I’m not familiar with US terminology but I get the impression this second company may have been struck off.

Whatever the company’s status, RC3 of Baton Rouge is definitely more promising due to the presence of a William Wray as president. (Though the RC3 parent company, may be in Delaware.)

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Since April last year four long-time directors have left DST Innovations and one new director has joined. The new boy is William Wray III, a US citizen. I think it’s reasonable to assume that William Wray of RC3 is William Wray III.

And is his possibly struck-off company a major shareholder?

Another major US shareholder is Blue Rock Manufacturing LLC, with which DST Innovation entered into a partnership last year in West Virginia. This also seems to be a battery plant using coal.

“The new development is at the forefront of green technology,” Gov. Jim Justice said during a virtual press conference, “using existing organic materials, such as coal, and creating new clean energy storage solutions.”

What struck me about this piece from the Governor’s office last November was mention of the Swansea Bay plant, before most of us here knew about it. Council leader Rob Stewart is even shown in a video call with the WV Governor.

It seems obvious that Swansea council has been involved with DST for at least a year before any public announcement of the new project.

How is this West Virginia battery project progressing? Does anyone know?

As a Jack, I would love to see this venture succeed and create a few thousand jobs in the old home town. But given the two false starts I’m not hanging out the bunting yet.

And I still want to know more about some of those involved. I would expect our politicians and media to be equally inquisitive.

THE ‘SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR’

A regular reader was looking for an eatery in the Vale of Glamorgan and remembered Fredwell, a new place that opened in August, so he went online to check the menu. What he found surprised him.

For the website says the establishment has already received full marks on the food hygiene rating, which is impossible, as it takes a while for the process to be gone through. What was also odd was that the rating was shown in English only. (In Wales, of course, these notices are bilingual.)

The matter was reported to the Food Standards Agency Wales, who had no record of the place, and also to VoG council, who responded with: ‘Thank you for your email.  We do not have a record of the business you mention so we will look to ensure that the relevant action is taken. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.’

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Naturally, he got to wondering who runs the place.

The answer is that it’s Fredwell Cafe and Restaurant Ltd, Incorporated as recently as the first of this month. The directors are Christopher John Birch, Jak Rhys Bjornstrom, and Kieron Roy Phillips.

I’m going to dismiss Phillips and focus on the other two. For in recent years they’ve been involved with many, many companies. Often under the umbrella of the Birch Group.

(Takes deep breath . . . )

Haus-keeping Ltd. Incorporated April 13, 2019. Still bumbling along with accounts showing assets of a few hundred pounds.

Birkenhaus Events Ltd. Incorporated April 16, 2019, Dissolved September 7, 2021 without filing accounts.

Artemis Securities and Technologies Ltd. Incorporated June 11, 2019, and Dissolved without filing accounts March 23, 2021. The third director was Lee Williams.

Haus Realty Ltd. Incorporated June 11, 2019. Bjornstrom and Birch were joined October 14 by new director Carina Alexandra Henriques. For some reason Bjornstrom’s name is spelled ‘Bromstrom’.

Alder Birch Properties Ltd. Incorporated June 24, 2019. A few other Birches involved but the company doesn’t seem to be doing anything.

Birch-Bjornstrom Investments Ltd. Incorporated September 18, 2019, as Birkenhaus Investments Ltd. A dormant company with filed accounts showing only the share issue.

Apollo Franchising Ltd. Incorporated October 3, 2019, Dissolved without filing accounts April 6, 2021. The only share held by Birkenhaus Investments Ltd (later Birch-Bjornstrom Investments).

Haus CDF 20 UK Ltd. Incorporated January 29, 2020, Dissolved August 3, 2021, without filing accounts.

Entrepreneur Consulting Ltd. Incorporated April 22, 2021. For some reason Bjornstrom does not appear as a director, but he and Birch each hold one share.

CJ Haus Holdings Ltd. Incorporated May 30, 2020.

Jak Property Construction Ltd. Incorporated July 30, 2021. Joining them as a director is Altaf Hussain. Hussain has had a number of companies, most of them now dissolved.

There are other companies in the cleaning business. And I’m sure there are yet other companies I didn’t unearth.

So many companies in such a short space of time is not a good look, especially with so many of them folding without apparently doing anything.

But Christopher John Birch has other irons in the fire, for he’s also in the holiday home business. In fact, when Pembrokeshire County Council recently increased the council tax surcharge for holiday homes the BBC went to him for a quote.

And a very bizarre one he gave, wearing his Holiday Homes Wales hat.

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He seems to be saying, ‘Well, yeah, holiday homes are bad for Welsh people, but on the plus side – they bring in people from England’.  What planet is this guy from?

Incredibly, as I was writing this, I received an e-mail from another source, telling me that Birch is also making a nuisance of himself in Newport.

My fresh source wrote:

'Do you know of a bloke called Chris Birch? Chris J Birch - Birkenhaus Investments (birchgroup.org.uk)

He was in the Mirror after he said he woke up gay when he did a handstand in a rugby match playing as a flanker.

His agency has taken over the Boilermakers Club presumably on Dr ---------'s instructions and he stuck a site notice on it before Newport planners turned it down yet again. It is now one of many derelict monuments to Welsh Labour's shameful neglect of this area, which they seem to have completely abandoned to drugs and destitution.

Birch is almost certainly getting Welsh government money and claims to have offices in The Shard and Paris.

He basically manages properties with huge numbers on AirBnB.'

Here’s an image of the Boilermakers Club in Crindau from Google Street View.

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In this report from WalesOnline in May we read that Birch claims to have conducted an opinion poll among local residents which conveniently found they favour his plans to convert the building into a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO).

My source describes this claim as ‘baloney’. No survey was undertaken.

UPDATE 04.11.2021: Vale of Glamorgan council has replied to the complaint:

"I am emailing to update you following your concerns about Fredwell café, Cowbridge. A visit has been made to the premises and I can confirm that the café / restaurant is not yet open and is not trading.  Therefore there is no requirement for them to register with our department until at least 28 days before they open. I have noted that on their website they are showing a food hygiene rating of 5 and have requested that this is removed, to which they have agreed."

HOUSES OF MULTIPLE OCCUPATION

A house of (or in) multiple occupation is, as the name suggests, a commercial or domestic property adapted to house a number of tenants in separate units, though perhaps sharing a kitchen and other facilities.

A HMO could also be a house accommodating students, and there could be too many of them in some neighbourhoods, which creates problems for other residents.

But a HMO can also be a property used by a private landlord, a housing association, or a third sector body, to house those recently released from prison, or perhaps drug and / or alcohol abusers.

A pattern we are familiar with in Wales. The worst example would be Rhyl, where criminals and undesirables from north west England are dumped. A problem now spreading to Colwyn Bay and other towns.

But it’s not confined to the north coast. I have reported on the problems of Tyisha in Llanelli. Again, the problems are largely imported. Then there’s the area from Dyfatty flats down to High Street station in Swansea.

It’s a national problem that could be far less of a problem if the ‘Welsh Government’ and local authorities were in possession of cojones.

Anyway, my source was kind enough to supply photos of notices Birch has recently put up on the old Boilermakers Club.

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But this project throws up yet more questions about our ‘serial entrepreneur’.

To begin with, and according to the Land Registry, Birch doesn’t own the property. The owner is listed as Signature Realtors Ltd, of St Mellons. Check the title document and plan.

There is no obvious connection between Birch and the family running Signature Realtors. Has he bought the property but not registered the change of ownership with the Land Registry? Is he acting for the owners? Or what?

Whatever the answer, I suspect that Birch’s plan for the building is to have a HMO housing people the neighbours would rather not have there. Why do I think this?

As you’ve read, Chris Birch recently formed a company with Altaf Hussain. Hussain has worked with a man who has the background and the connections to supply Birch and Bjornstrom with tenants.

That said, my source insists there’s not a hope in hell of Birch getting planning permission from Newport council for the increasingly dilapidated Boilermakers Club. So is he hoping for intervention from another quarter?

Locals are more concerned that the the building will left insecure and get broken into by delinquents who’ll turn it into a crack house.

Even away from the Boilermakers Club there is still plenty to give cause for concern. For I turned up a few other things that make me worry about Birch and Bjornstrom.

For a start, and until quite recently, Jak Rhys Bjornstrom was Jack Rhys Powell. Why the change? Oh, yes, and the name is normally spelt Björnström, Jack.

Then there’s the Birch Group website, which gives as the address, 1 Boulevard Victor, Paris 75015. Impressive. But don’t run away with the idea that this is some plush suite of offices. It’s a building run by the company FlexibleHub.

They probably forward any mail.

And then there’s the unfortunate business of the food hygiene rating . . .

There’s also the mystery of the money, or lack of it. Because I didn’t find any company with which Birch and Bjornstrom / Powell are involved that had any money. So, if they do have money, where is it?

Setting up new companies every week is one thing, being a genuine entrepreneur is something entirely different.

The kindest thing might be to say that in Birch and Bjornstrom / Powell we are dealing with a couple of fantasists. Whether they’re harmless or not is yet to be established.

GWYNEDD’S HOLIDAY HOMES PREMIUM RIP-OFF

Councillor Gruff Williams has been in touch with concerns about the ways in which the Council Tax Premium Fund (CTPF) on holiday homes is being used by Cyngor Gwynedd. The information he sent raises other issues.

Gruff represents the Nefyn ward on the Llŷn peninsula. Llŷn approximates with Dwyfor.

To help you understand the issue it might be best to think of Gwynedd and its total population of 121,874 people as being split into three parts.

Arfon, in the north, is focused on the largest Gwynedd settlements of Bangor and Caernarfon. The 2011 population was 60,573.

Dwyfor contains the settlements of Porthmadog, Pwllheli, and of course Abersoch. Population (2011) 27,725. Arfon and Dwyfor made up the old county of Caernarfonshire. (Which also included areas now in the County Borough of Conwy, such as the towns of Llanrwst, Conwy and Llandudno.)

And then there’s Meirionnydd, the former county of Merioneth(shire), containing Blaenau Ffestiniog, Barmouth, Tywyn, Harlech, and the old county town of Dolgellau. Population (2011) 33,576.

You’ll see that the population of Arfon is almost that of Dwyfor and Meirionnydd combined. And with that comes political clout.

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The issue Gruff raises is that most of Gwynedd’s holiday homes are in Dwyfor. Naturally, locals in the area expected that the CTPF money raised would be used to help young people being forced out of their home areas by holiday home buyers, retirees, and others.

But no. For Gwynedd’s Plaid Cymru councillors have other ideas.

This article from the North Wales Chronicle gives a good report of the debate a few weeks back, when Plaid’s councillors thwarted Gruff’s attempt to benefit the areas suffering worst. (Though for some reason Gruff is referred to only as ‘Councillor Williams’, while his famous father, Owain, is named.)

There were some amazing contributions to the debate.

Councillor ‘Cai Larsen stated he had a “fundamental problem” with the issue of spending money only where it was raised’.

Where the money was raised is only part of the issue, Larsen; we also have to ask why it was raised.

‘Cllr Nia Jeffreys said that affordable housing was “an issue which knows no boundaries,”

Why is she talking about affordable housing when the issue is holiday homes?

‘Bangor councillor Richard Medwyn Jones added: “There are big issues here with over 2,000 on the city’s waiting list. If we stuck to this same principle I could put a motion forward that Bangor’s money stays in Bangor, but that’s what this is all about.”’

In 2019 Bangor had a population of 18,322, roughly half of them students. I’d like to know how many of the 2,000 on the waiting list have local connections.

When it comes to ‘Bangor’s money’ – by which Cllr Jones presumably means council tax raised – this is largely spent in Bangor. I’m sure the city council, and mayor Owen – Don’t Ask Me About My Genitals – Hurcum see to that.

All unconvincing excuses for Plaid Cymru-controlled Gwynedd council to put the holiday home surcharge money into the central pot and use it in other ways . . . mainly in Arfon.

The figures for how Council Tax Premium Fund will be spent can be found here, in Gwynedd’s Housing Action Plan 2020/2021 – 2026/7.

Let’s look at 4c (page 25), which deals with ‘innovative housing’. All the funding for this, £1.2m, comes from the CTPF. I suppose ‘Innovative housing’ could mean OPDs.

On page 27 we see that £2.5m is coming from the CTPF for ‘Extra care housing for the elderly’. Now I’m not a heartless bugger who wants to see Nain living in a cardboard box, but this should have come from core funding, not from money raised to mitigate the problem of holiday homes.

And there are other examples where Cyngor Gwynedd makes a mockery of the whole reasoning behind the Council Tax Premium Fund.

Another worry is that much of the CTPF money is to be distributed to housing associations. Private companies now that refuse to give priority to locals in social housing allocations. And then build ‘affordable’ homes that locals can’t afford.

But Gruff’s concerns made me think of another problem. Which is that the number of holiday homes in Wales is almost certainly underestimated.

BEATING THE SYSTEM

I recall a source in Pembrokeshire contacting me just before the December 2019 UK general election to say that ‘hordes’ of second home owners had turned up to ensure that the constituency remained Conservative. (The ‘Corbyn factor’.) Clearly, they were registered to vote at their second home.

Then, during the Covid lockdown, when police were stopping cars travelling into Wales, using vehicle registrations to establish home addresses, it became clear that some people had their cars registered at their holiday homes.

Something else that came to light during the Covid lockdown was that others stopped by police were travelling to holiday homes they claimed as their main residence.

This scam normally operates by one of a couple registering at the home address, the other at the holiday home, and pretending that it’s a full-time residence. Not only does this avoid the second home surcharge it even gets a 25% council tax reduction for a single (adult) resident.

I contacted someone who is well-versed in such matters, and he tells me that the facts can be established by cross-referencing. He wrote:

'Databases that should contain the real permanent address:

1/ Council Tax – Local authority.
2/ Electoral register – Local authority 
3/ NI, income tax, benefits, married persons allowance – HMRC, central government 
4/ Driving licence – DVLA, central government
5/ GP – NHS, Welsh Government.

It’s not possible to access the NHS record, 5, even for a police officer, without a court warrant, however, if 1 and 2 differs from 3 or 4 then the property is evading second home premium. You will only get cheaper car insurance if 4 matches 1, and students are the only residents where 2 and 3 can differ. Of course, not only are those that ------ ---------- has identified get a polling card, they would also be eligible for free prescriptions, and a bus pass at 60, even though they don’t really live permanently in Wales.

3 and 4 is subject to a general data comparison sweep to identify car crime.'

My well-informed source then went on to suggest a simple measure for establishing the facts.

'The first method of detection is to place a FoI request to the council asking for the number of single person discount properties on the books, over the last five years, per ward. It will show up as a surge of such properties when the council tax premium is introduced or raised. This gives an indication of the scale of the problem and which wards are particularly affected. We all have local knowledge that this is the case, but it needs to be quantified. Prosecuting fraud works on evidence, not on anecdote.'

Therefore, I suggest that we all submit FoI requests to our local council asking a) for the number of single-person discounts on their books over recent years, and, b) whether the council checks that those claiming single-person discount are genuine.

I’m sure my countless socialist followers will appreciate the unfairness of prosecuting locals – usually women – when their boyfriend moves in, while some bugger with a new Range Rover parked outside Cartref Mon Repos gets away with the surcharge and pockets a 25% discount!

BRYN LLYS

Regular readers will be familiar with this incredible story of a family of crooks named Duggan that bought a little farmhouse, Bryn Llys, not far from Caernarfon, knocked it down, built a monstrosity they called Snowdon Mountain View, broke all the planning rules, tore up hedges, chopped down trees, tried to intimidate neighbours, etc., etc.

If you’re up to it, you could start with Lucky Gwynedd – more ‘investors’, scroll down to the section ‘Castle’ Gwynfryn, and then the section Bryn Llys aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’. You can then work back from there.

The Duggans are fraudsters and con men from West Yorkshire. When the father got sent down the son took over the business and moved to Wales, bought Bryn Llys, and spent a lot of their money on the new property.

‘Snowdon Mountain View’. Click to open in a separate tab

The problem was that they weren’t supposed to have any money, so all manner of subterfuges had to be employed. Including getting a sap named Andrew Battye to put his name on the title document and pretend he owned Bryn Llys.

The Duggan gang at Bryn Llys soon got pally with another unwelcome arrival in the form of Aaron Hill, who lived in Caernarfon. Where he was bullied by them nasty Cofis!

It’s a harrowing tale. I urge you to read it with a tissue to hand.

Though urinating through the letter box sounds a trifle risky. Especially if there’s a dog in the house.

Jon Duggan bought land off Hill, with money Hill loaned him! Because of course if Duggan is seen to have money the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 comes into play.

Another case I was looking into at the request of concerned neighbours was the ambitious plans for Gwynfryn Plas, an old gentry mansion near Llanystumdwy. The bloke making trouble here was Phillip Andrew Bush, who seems to have made his money from taking derelict ships to be broken up on Asian beaches.

I’m not saying that Bush is a crook, but a man is judged by the company he keeps.

And Bush was soon keeping company with Aaron Hill, even selling him some Gwynfryn land. It was also reported that the Duggan gang had been sighted there

Amazing how these people find each other! Is it some form of echolocation, like bats?

To cut a long story short . . . it was reported that Hill and Bush had boasted of new ventures in Scotland. And now I hear that the Duggan family – but not the whole gang – has also removed itself to Yr Hen Ogledd.

Word is that the Duggans are in Dumfries. Home to Queen of the South FC. (Not a lot of people know that.) I’ve been to Dumfries a few times. Nice town. Looking forward to going back.

While they have decamped, faithful family retainer and failed rocker, Shane Baker, has been trying to sell off the family assets. Which of course they don’t really own!

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Of course, what Baker will not tell any prospective buyer, but what my local source reminds me is:

'This is the land which was formerly attached to 4 Glanrafon Terrace, Nebo and, through which, Jonathan Duggan built a new access track to Bryn Llys and which he later purchased from Aaron Hill.

There is no mention of the Enforcement Order for the removal of the access track and restoration of the land to its original state.'

Which means that anyone silly enough to buy this land could be buying into a whole lot of trouble. So steer well clear.

You have been warned!

As this has been a biggie, and it’s taken up quite a bit of my time, don’t expect anything next week. I’m supposed to be bloody retiring!

♦ end ♦




Afan Valley Adventure Resort – here we go again!

My intention was to start winding down this blog, spend more time with my wife, grand-children, books, Malbec . . . but things keep cropping up. That said, it’s very unlikely I shall undertake major new investigations. Diolch yn fawr.

In keeping with the promise made above, this is an update to a story I was reporting on a few years back rather than a new investigation. I’m returning to it now because there have been significant developments.

MEMORY LANE

The plan to build a big adventure park in the Afan Valley, behind Port Talbot, complete with a hotel and lodges, offering ski slopes and cycle routes, was the brainchild of self-made con man Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

At one point, maggot-munching Bore Grylls was on board, but his enthusiasm cooled, perhaps when he realised the kind of  ‘businessman’ he’d got himself involved with.

But the ‘Welsh Government’ believed every word from Woodhouse, and in addition to offering him a £500,000 grant for his Caer Rhun hotel near Llanrwst, our tribunes were ready to throw more money at him in the Afan Valley.

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Woodhouse’s empire came crashing down when investors in his properties – some of which were never built – persuaded the media to take an interest. Now, I believe, it’s in the hands of the Serious Fraud Office.

Woodhouse’s umbrella company was Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd, but the company set up for the Afan Valley extravaganza was the imaginatively named Afan Valley Ltd.

If you click on the ‘Charges’ tab for Afan Valley you’ll see that there are two outstanding charges. One in the name of Clive Mishon, the other 360 Mi Ltd, a company owned by Mishon that is now in liquidation.

I’ve never been entirely sure where or how Mishon fits into the picture, but he was certainly on the ground before Woodhouse. We know that because in May 2013 he was a founding director of short-lived Afan Solar Ltd. Next, perhaps after learning the sun doesn’t shine all the time in Wales, he joined Afan Energy Ltd in April 2014.

Both are long since dissolved. Afan Energy, in which Mishon was a shareholder, was written off with debts of £596,391.

Though still in existence is Marcol Industrial (Afan Energy) LLP. (Since dissolved.)

Let’s remind ourselves there are three land titles making up the area involved. All mentioned in the Administrator’s progress report for Afan Valley Ltd of August 20.

The first, WA519567, was bought by Afan Valley Ltd with a loan from Clive Mishon. CYM471819 was bought in the same manner. CYM60212 is owned by Clive Mishon.

The Administrator’s report suggests that Clive Mishon is an unsecured creditor and will get the money he loaned when the land is sold.

We must assume the land has been sold because of the press release put out last week by Neath Port Talbot Borough Council telling the world that the project was back on track under new management.

Though Mishon is still involved, perhaps because the project can’t proceed without the land he owns. Besides which, Mishon has associates, involved with companies registered in places that enjoy more sunshine than Wales.

NEW FACES, OLD FACES, MASKS AND DISGUISES

Having read the press release you’ll know that those who’ve taken over are said to be the Salamanca Group Ltd and Wildfox Resorts Afan Valley Ltd. Let’s start with Wildfox, where the two directors are Martin James Bellamy and Benjamin Daniel Lloyd.

The initial share issue was for 101 shares. One hundred held by Wildfox Resorts Group Ltd, formed March 16, 2021 (as Kikai Group Holdings Ltd), the other by Clive Mishon.

All 100 shares in Wildfox Resorts Group Ltd are held by Lloyd and significant control is exercised by his company, Caer Capital Ltd. Caer Capital was formed September 15.

Lloyd lives in Wales but uses as an address, 21 Ganton Street, Soho, London W1F 9BN.

Lloyd has been involved with a number of property and buy-to-rent companies since 2016, but it all looks small scale compared to what’s planned for the Afan Valley.

The main vehicle for Lloyd’s ambitions seem to be Project Three Developments Ltd, where he’s in partnership with Gareth Vaughan Morgan and Benjamin Peter Hugh Wells.

This company claims ‘tangible assets’ of some four million pounds, almost certainly property bought with loans from the Development Bank of Wales.

The most recent company is Wells Lloyd Ltd, formed as recently as June this year. Has this new company been cobbled together to cash in on the Afan Valley bonanza?

Strengthening the local connection is another Lloyd company, Kikai RGI Ltd, where the other director is Lewis Ashleigh Peach, who gives a Caerffili address. Most of the shares (70%) are held by Wildfox Resorts Group Ltd, with Peach holding the remainder through his Arete Group Holdings Ltd. Arete was formed March 16, 2021.

But is Lloyd really the man behind the revived Afan Valley project? He’s certainly not mentioned in the press release from Neath Port Talbot council.

Yet ownership of Wildfox Resorts Afan Valley Ltd, the company mentioned in the NPT press release, seems to trace back through Wildfox Resorts Group Ltd and Caer Capital Ltd to Benjamin Daniel Lloyd.

To give you some idea of the size of the project, here’s the plan submitted with the planning application from Gavin Woodhouse’s Afan Valley Ltd.

Click to open in separate tab

Now let’s turn to the Bellamy-Salamanca angle.

We find a host of Salamanca companies, all based at 3 Burlington Gardens in London’s Mayfair. The link between them is Martin James Bellamy.

An interesting name I keep seeing in connection with Salamanca is Lord David Triesman. A very wealthy man.

Another name shared by a number of companies is Rocksteady.

Where Lloyd crops up again as a director of Rocksteady Resorts Group Ltd of 21 Ganton Street, Soho. This company was formed on March 17, 2021, which is appropriate as another of the directors is Irishman Paul Christopher Baker. The third director is Martin James Bellamy. All shares are held by Rocksteady Group Ltd, formed March 16, 2021.

Another Rocksteady company was Rocksteady Resorts Ltd, launched March 11, 2020. Also interesting because the two directors were Baker and Peter Macandless Mundell Moore.

You see Moore in the group photo above. He was the expert brought in by Gavin Woodhouse to give his project credibility. Moore is invariably referred to in media reports as ‘the man who brought Center Parcs to the UK’.

Moore left Rocksteady Resorts March 9, this year, and the company was dissolved July 6.

The three directors at Rocksteady Group Ltd are Bellamy, Baker and Lloyd. The 200 shares are split equally between Set in Stone Holdings Ltd and CLLP Ltd. Both give London addresses.

One of the four CLLP directors is Hossam AlSaady, of Saudi Arabia(?). The others are Lloyd, Bellamy, and Anthony John Rowland. AlSaady runs Above Wealth LLP with Rowland. A company that helps the über rich find a home for their money.

Until 3 April, 2021, Set in Stone was using as its address, The White House, St. Mary’s Well, Bay Road, Swanbridge, Penarth CF64 5UJ. It files as a dormant company, showing just a single £1 share, presumably held by Paul Baker who was the only director until 17 March, 2021, when he was joined by Laura Lynn Baker, an American resident in Wales.

The shares in CLLP Ltd are held by MJB Capital (Lancelot Place) Ltd, 100 B shares; and Lancelot Developments Ltd, 325 A shares. All shares in MJB (Lancelot Place ) Ltd are held by MJB Capital Ltd. Lancelot Developments is controlled by Dr Chander Kanta Sabharwal and Dr Narinder Nath Sabharwal.

At MJB Capital, serving as directors, we find Bellamy and Ms Darina Kogan, a US lawyer now resident in England. Though she is Russian by birth.

This very recent item from the Daily Telegraph tells us that Mrs Bellamy – as we must now call her – is the daughter of Russian oligarch Valery Kogan.

So, I would guess that Martin Bellamy is, as reports tell, the driving force behind the revived Afan Valley project. Lloyd, Baker, et al make up the supporting cast.

Martin Bellamy

If nothing else, Bellamy knows billionaires who could easily finance the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. Among them, his business partner, and his father-in-law.

We are talking serious money here, and individuals with very powerful friends and allies, up to and including Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

SKATING ON THIN ICE

But there are other companies in the shadows. One being Afan Valley Resort Ltd, formed March 19, 2021. The two directors are Baker and Bellamy. The shares are all held by Rocksteady Resorts Group Ltd. The address is 21 Ganton Street, Soho.

There’s also Afan Valley Resort Management Ltd, Incorporated March 23, 2021. The two directors are, again, Baker and Bellamy. The single share is owned by Afan Valley Resort Ltd. Also using the Ganton Street address.

Another company bringing together Bellamy and Lloyd, and another company formed in March of this year, is Kogan Bellamy Lloyd Ltd.

It might be worth having a look at a couple of other companies Baker has been involved in, interesting for the American involvement, though also a bit worrying.

First, there’s E-Ventus Energy Ltd, with its registered address at the White House in Penarth. The other directors in this company were fellow Irishman John Connolly, who was resident in the USA, and US citizen John Spence, also resident in the USA.

The filed documents show an interesting story. The directors folded the company in February 2018, perhaps in an attempt to escape their debts. The creditors appealed to the High Court and the company was restored to the register. You don’t often see this kind of document; it’s worth reading.

The accounts for E-Ventus Energy are long overdue at Companies House. I wonder how much they owe?

Another strange company Baker was involved with was Deeside Hockey Ltd. The address given was 3rd Floor, 5 Temple Square, Temple Street, Liverpool, L2 5RH, but we can be fairly certain that the name referred to Deeside in Flintshire. In fact, there is a Deeside Dragons Ice Hockey Club playing in Queensferry.

Deeside Hockey was Incorporated August 5, 2015, first gazetted November 1, 2016, and finally dissolved January 17, 2017.

There were three directors at the start; Baker – resident in Wales – plus two resident in the USA, Wayne Gary James Scholes, and Trevor Damon Suelze. Baker pulled out September 14, 2015 and was replaced by American Collin Zito.

All the shares in Deeside Hockey Ltd were held by Red Hockey Ltd, since renamed Telford Ice Sports Ltd. And what a story we have here!

Launched in August, 2013 the first director was Scholes. Suelze joined in October. Baker joined in February, 2015. All using the Liverpool address.

Other directors came and went, and shares were issued, but this company was soon in trouble and eventually, after a lengthy process, it was dissolved in June this year.

The liquidator’s reports refer to ‘a number of questionable transactions’, and the company owed creditors almost half a million pounds.

In a Companies House Return of February 2015 we are told that all 1000 shares in (then) Red Hockey Ltd were owned by Really Epic Dog Ltd, operating out of the same Liverpool address with Scholes, Suelze, and Zito, as directors.

This company has creditors to whom it owes £4.9m. Most of this is explained by (allegedly?) transferring money between related companies run by the same directors.

At the same address were also Really Epic Dog Holdings Ltd, Really Epic Dog Publishing Ltd, and Gods knows how many other companies with no visible means of support.

So who are these Americans or US residents with whom Baker is associated? (For Suelze may be Canadian, and Scholes British.)

From someone else who was briefly a director of Red Hockey Ltd, South African resident Servaas Hendrik Theron, we have an address: General Counsel, 5225 Wiley Post Way, Suite 150, Salt Lake City, Utah 84116.

Googling that address turned up Red Touch Media and Wayne Scholes. There’s even a Wikipedia entry. Collin Zito is Chief Operations Officer at Red Touch.

Red Touch Media is now Liverpool Digital Media Ltd. The latest accounts show a company heavily in debt.

TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF IT

We would appear to have a number of potential sources for the money to re-launch and complete the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

Martin Bellamy has his business partner Lord Triesman, and his father-in-law Valery Kogan. Either of them could finance this project from their small change. But if one of them was funding this project why do we see such a supporting cast?

And why so many Afan Valley companies?

And let’s not forget the Saudi link provided by Hossam AlSaady. Or if not a link to Saudi Arabia, then to one or more partners of his Above Wealth LLP. One of which is Swiss fund managers Gottex.

Then, we have the intriguing connection, via Liverpool, with the USA and, more specifically, the state of Utah.

What are we to make of Scholes, Suelze, and Zito, and their involvement in Deeside Hockey, the liquidator’s reference to ‘questionable transactions’, the unpaid creditors, and the labyrinth of linked companies all owing each other money?

Given their forays into the leisure business I would be disappointed to learn that these people are in any way involved at Afan Valley.

The connection between them and the resurrected Afan Valley venture is of course the Irishman, Paul Christopher Baker.

Baker is very much a player now at Afan Valley.

We find him at Afan Valley Resort Ltd with Martin Bellamy. The duo are together again at Afan Valley Resort Management Ltd. The duet becomes a threesome when Lloyd joins them at Rocksteady Resorts Group Ltd. The three then do an encore at Rocksteady Group Ltd.

All four companies formed 16 – 23 March, 2021.

And let’s not forget dissolved Rocksteady Resorts Ltd, where we would have found Baker and Peter Moore. Formed in March 2020 and put down a year later, with the name carried on by others.

Though I was struck by one very curious Companies House filing for this company, which I reproduce below.

Click to open in separate tab

Was Paul Baker formerly known as Paul Morris, and did he change his name? Or did whoever registered the company with Companies House not know Baker’s name?

Whatever the answer, the name given on the company’s Certificate of Incorporation is definitely Paul Christopher Morris.

Baker’s association with the Utah Scousers and their Deeside Hockey, plus his role with E-Ventus, the company the High Court restored, might suggest he has a somewhat ‘cavalier’ attitude to business.

But what about the boys from round by ‘ere, like?

Well, Benjamin Lloyd’s Wildfox Resorts Afan Valley Ltd may be the real deal and his route to fame and fortune. Or it may be just a distraction.

His mate, Lewis Peach, is the other director of Kikai RGI Ltd. (Another company formed in March, 2021.) But a few years ago Peach was running a gym in Caerffili.

In the Caerphilly Business Forum Awards for 2017 we read: ‘Entrepreneur of the Year – sponsored by Coleg y Cymoedd: Lewis Peach – Peak Performance Fitness Solutions.’ (Did you know we have no word in Welsh for the English term entrepreneur?)

But Lewis is a Renaissance Man, cos when he’s not pumping iron we find him at Pure Structured Finance. This company was formed in December 2019, and according to Companies House its address is opposite McDonald’s in Llanishen. Yet the website I just linked to says it operates out of 3 Burlington Gardens, London, W1S 3EP.

And if that address sounds familiar then that’s because it’s where we find Martin Bellamy’s Salamanca empire.

Wheels within wheels. So many connections. Pathways and dead-ends. No wonder old Jac is getting quite dizzy – and alcohol plays no part. Honest!

A FEW QUESTIONS WITH WHICH TO CONCLUDE

These questions are addressed to Neath Port Talbot Borough Council and the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ on behalf of those still interested in how Wales is mis-ruled.

  • Do you know who is really behind this revived project, and where the money is coming from?
  • Why do you think this project needs so many companies?
  • How would NPT Council and the ‘Welsh Government’ feel about the project funding coming from Russia or Saudi Arabia?
  • There are persons with questionable business records linked with the project. What are their roles?
  • Will those now behind the project follow the discredited Gavin Woodhouse model of selling shares in the lodges and the hotel rooms?
  • Have those behind the project requested grants from the ‘Welsh Government’, or loans from the Development Bank of Wales?
  • How much public money will be spent on infrastructure – roads, etc – for the Afan Valley Adventure Resort?
  • What measures will NPT Council and the ‘Welsh Government’ put in place to ensure that contracts are placed with local firms and the better jobs allocated to local people?
  • Given that the Afan Valley Adventure Resort will mean tens of thousands more cars travelling from England into Wales, and back, every year, how does this square with the ‘Welsh Government’s ambition for Wales to single-handedly save the planet?
  • Will there be an extra charge for chalets and hotel rooms offering uninterrupted views of the surrounding wind turbines?

Labour politicians in Neath Port Talbot and Corruption Bay may be desperate to claim more ‘investment’, but rest assured, boys and girls, I shall be keeping a jaundiced eye on the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

Because I’m sure there’ll be more to tell you in the months ahead.

UPDATE 20.10.2021: The Western Mail published an article this morning that was clearly designed to boost the project and make it clear that those now involved had no connection with the misdeeds of Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

It further informed us that the funding is coming from ‘Octopus Real Estate’. But I doubt it. For this is a one-woman company formed in April to buy a property in Wiltshire.

Presumably it refers to one of these pension fund Limited Partnerships, Octopus Commercial Real Estate Debt Fund II and Octopus Commercial Real Estate Debt Fund III.

But which one?

♦ end ♦

 




UNESCO – let the rip-offs begin!

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. POSTINGS WILL PROBABLY BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

This post is a ‘filler’ until we return to that cornucopia of dissembling, skulduggery, and now whimpering, put-upon Marxists – YesCymru! Possibly with a post at the weekend.

Most of you will I’m sure have heard that the old slate quarries and mines of Gwynedd have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Click to open in separate tab

(Here’s the above article in pdf format.)

Even though I live very close to a former slate quarry, Bryneglwys, in a village largely built in the 19th century to house the quarrymen and their families, and even though I’ve been (loosely) involved with the local preparations of the bid to UNESCO, like many others I’m wondering how exactly my community will benefit.

Let me explain.

I first learnt of the UNESCO bid in the autumn of 2019. There was a meeting or a presentation in our Ganolfan organised by Gwynedd county council. So, ever the inquisitive, I rolled up to see what it was all about.

There were a few guys there who seemed to be running the show, and I assumed they worked for Cyngor Gwynedd; but no, they were from the Talyllyn Railway (TR). Which I found to be rather surprising, and disappointing.

The people of Abergynolwyn, many of them the children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of quarrymen, knew little or nothing about the UNESCO bid, and yet the Talyllyn Railway not only knew about it but also seemed to have commandeered its local element.

Bryneglwys quarry workforce, 1897, Victoria’s Jubilee. Click to open in separate tab

Worse, projects in Tywyn, having only the most tenuous connection with the slate industry, also had bids in for their slices of the cake.

Another at the meeting was the owner of ‘King Arthur’s Labyrinth‘ in Corris, located in the old tunnels dug and blasted to extract slate in the next valley. This place is to Welsh history what Boris Johnson is to statesmanship.

For those unfamiliar with the area, Corris is the most southerly of the Gwynedd slate communities and on the same seam as Bryneglwys.

But back to the Talyllyn Railway.

Some twenty years ago, I was raising the money to build our new Ganolfan. Not an easy job, and at times dis-spiriting. To fill out a 60-page application form, make sure that all the attachments are in place, and then get a curt response that says, basically, ‘Hard luck, pal’, is very frustrating.

One example was an application I made to the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF). I think the figure I applied for was £200,000.

Bryneglwys in the 1960s, some 20 years after the quarry closed. Click to open in separate tab

Anyway, the point was that this funding was for communities within 5 miles of a quarry or aggregate workings. So, I filled up the form, sent it off, and a representative of the ALSF came to discuss it. ‘No problem’, says he, ‘you meet all the criteria . . . but of course it will have to go before the panel’.

The panel, or rather the two who swung the decision – both involved in tourism – decided that the grant should go to the Talyllyn Railway. To be spent on its Wharf Station in Tywyn, over 7 miles from Bryneglwys quarry.

The justification given was  that the TR had a closer link than the village with the quarry. And the track itself came within the required 5 miles!

Now, I don’t deny that the railway was built to carry slate to the coast and the main line, but it is now a commercial enterprise, a tourist railway, run almost exclusively by ‘enthusiasts’ from over the border.

Whereas the village of Abergynolwyn, as I’ve said, was built to serve the quarry, and is still home to descendants of the quarry workers. (My wife among them.)

Another reason I’m less than optimistic relates to the ownership of Bryneglwys quarry.

For the Land Registry title document says that in 1980 Bryneglwys passed from Hugh Pugh Roberts to the Secretary of State for Wales. Then, in 2006, it transferred to the National Assembly for Wales.

The quarry is now in the stewardship of our old friends at Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Where they seem to believe that it’s near Machynlleth.

Which I suppose it is . . . if you’re a particularly energetic crow; or if you fancy climbing a few miles up to the ridge and then, after getting your breath back, negotiating a few more miles on t’other side as you descend into the Dyfi valley. (But you do get a nice view of Cader Idris and you can see down to the coast.)

The reason the mention of NRW saw my spirits sink is because of that agency’s record. In just the previous post on this blog we read about Natural Resources Wales offering up publicly-owned Welsh land to foreign investors who are thinking of plonking on it the tallest wind turbines we’ve yet seen.

Put together the tourism element and the involvement of Natural Resources Wales and you should understand why I’m not optimistic that locals will see many benefits from the UNESCO recognition.

Added to which is a real danger that the former slate communities will see increased numbers of tourists. With all the attendant problems. This is what Cylch yr Iaith fears. And they aren’t the only ones.

Click to open in separate tab

Which brings us to the fundamental conundrum.

Gwynedd council led the UNESCO bid, and champagne corks have been popping in Caernarfon since the decision was announced. And yet . . . the council has publicly conceded that certain parts of the county suffer unsustainable numbers of tourists.

Yet powerful lobbies will seek to exploit the UNESCO recognition to attract more tourists in order to make more money. More tourists means more traffic, more rubbish, more people looking to buy property, more pressure on Welsh-speaking communities.

To complicate matters, Bryneglwys quarry, unlike the larger sites at Blaenau Ffestiniog and Bethesda, is inside the Snowdonia National Park. So there’ll be no zip wires or underground trampolines.

But that aside, the overarching question remains . . .

How does Gwynedd square this circle of capitalising on UNESCO recognition without encouraging unsustainable and damaging levels of tourism?

A further issue I have with this project is the way it has portrayed the relationship between Wales and England.

Here’s what our Secretary of State had to say about the announcement. ‘Fantastic news for the UK’, and he’s right. For we can guarantee that most of the beneficiaries will come from over the border.

It might also encourage more English people to ‘staycation’ in Wales thereby keeping their money in the UK. Which is a major reason why Wales suffers saturation tourism.

Click to open in a separate tab

But it’s not just Simon Hart who’s guilty of misrepresenting the relationship. About a year or so ago the council commissioned a series of films, one for each of the quarries involved in the UNESCO bid.

The film for Bryneglwys focused almost entirely on the tenure of the McConnel brothers of Manchester, stressing that without English money there would have been nothing here. There was little mention of the men who worked – and died – at the quarry, their families, and the lives of the people of Abergynolwyn.

Sir Henry Haydn Jones, an old-style Welsh Liberal. A tradition that may have served Wales better than its successors. Click to open in separate tab.

The truth is that slate was extracted in the 1820s, possibly earlier, by local men prepared to invest a bit of money and hard work. The McConnels arrived in 1864 because cotton was not reaching their Manchester mills from the Confederate states due to the war, and so they looked to diversify. In the third act, local MP, Sir Henry Haydn Jones took over in 1911, and kept the quarry open long after it ceased to be economically viable.

Certainly, the McConnels invested a lot of money, but they weren’t philanthropists, they came to make money, and if there hadn’t already been slate workings here they would never have heard of Bryneglwys. Yet the film commissioned by Cyngor Gwynedd wrote out the Welsh involvement entirely!

Another film, by Dr David Gwyn, put up on YouTube last week, is not a great improvement in its emphasis.

Even this page from Llechi Cymru concentrates on the McConnels, with just a nod to those who went before, and no mention at all of Sir Henry Haydn Jones.

If I was one of those frightful nationalists I might view this ‘Can’t manage without England’ theme as fairly obviously political. Perhaps we’ll hear it again when the tourists start swamping the communities that have been blessed with UNESCO recognition.

And once again, we shall be expected to show gratitude for becoming strangers in our own communities, and our own country.

♦ end ♦

 




Miscellany 14.10.2020

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

This week we’re back to the Miscellany format, with a mixture of updates and new reports. It’s big, but broken up into digestible chunks.

GWYNFRYN 

To make sense of this section you’ll need to know what has preceded it. So if you haven’t read the previous issues I suggest you start with ‘Residential units’ – how many is too many?. This was followed with an update in Poor Wales: magnet for property spivs, fraudsters, and enviroshysters.

What remains of the Gwynfryn estate of Hugh John Ellis-Nanney near Llanystumdwy has been split. Philip Andrew Bush has retained the land for himself after selling the shell of the house – which was badly damaged by fire in 1982 – to his good friend Aaron Hill, with whom Bush stays when he visits the area.

Bush needs accommodation because he may live in Kent, or he may live somewhere more exotic, where vitamin D deficiency is unlikely to trouble the locals. I suggest this possibility because Bush has been associated with a number of companies registered in locations where a very laid back approach is found to keeping records and obeying the law.

We are now asked to believe that this listed building Bush sold to Hill is to be given new life with ’30 residential units’. You can view the rudimentary plans here. The more I learn about this project the less sure I am that much, if anything, of the old building will be re-used.

I say that for a number of reasons.

First, the building has been treated with contempt by Bush and those he has allowed to use it. In the previous posting I mentioned a character named John Day. The pictures below follow his time at Gwynfryn; when Bush allowed Day to use this piece of Welsh history as a scrapyard.

Just click on an image to enlarge it.

You may recall that in an earlier post I referred to plastic chairs from Butlins. One of the images above corrects my mistake.

Then there was the second fire, in 2013. Philip Bush has been so unlucky with fires.

Click to enlarge

Over and above these mishaps the general condition of the old pile suggests it may be past saving. For it’s not just general and gradual decay. Sometimes things take a dramatic turn with a fall of masonry.

Again, click on an image to enlarge it.

So for a number of reasons I suspect that whoever’s behind this project – and the jury’s still out on this – will incorporate very little if anything of the old building into the new. No matter what is claimed in the planning application.

‘SEND A MESSAGE TO LONDON’

The name Tyisha might be familiar because it’s the area near Llanelli railway station that’s plagued by petty criminals and drug addicts. Tyisha is now the most deprived ward in the whole county of Carmarthenshire. Here’s a report from WalesOnline.

You’ll read one local complain, “I think the area’s used as a place to put undesirables . . . a lot of landlords in the area don’t know what their residents get up to and don’t care – they just care about the money in their pockets . . . so many of the drug abusers they’re not even from the area – loads of them are coming here from England, why are they all being dumped here?”

(Many of the ‘landlords’ will be housing associations.)

People are being dumped in Tyisha because a number of third sector bodies and other agencies have found a location with the necessary criteria: working class urban area (locals can be ignored), near railway station (‘clients’ can be put on a train from anywhere), cheap property (ideal for HMOs).

Of course, once the rot sets in there begins a spiral of decline that only benefits those causing the problem. What I mean is that property prices fall even further because nobody wants to live in Tyisha. Those locals who have not moved out are now stuck in houses worth less than they were worth five years ago.

Although Plaid Cymru is supposed to run the county council, and has even held the Llanelli seat in Corruption Bay, the town councillors are overwhelmingly Labour. And some of them are of the worst sort.

Though Gary Jones in Llangennech is definitely one of the better ones (he’s even sent me photos of Dennis Coslett’s grave). But I’m afraid he’s let himself down by his involvement with Tyisha.

Click to enlarge

It pains me to say this, but what I see here is a Labour councillor apparently celebrating the misery brought to an area of his town by his party’s cronies in the third sector and housing associations. It supports the widely-held view that Labour keeps Wales poor in order to blame the Tories and keep getting elected.

What the hell were you thinking, Gary? What is that pose?

Last year it was announced that Tyisha may be in line for cosmetic redevelopment to the tune of over £9m. Which means that Tyisha can look forward to those big flower pots on the streets for the drug addicts and the drunks to use as very public lavatories.

Here’s a suggestion for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. Don’t give public funding to your cronies for them to import problems and then we won’t have to spend yet more Welsh public money to remedy those problems. Capiche?

What a way to run a country!

If we had a functioning media then the properties causing the worst problems would be identified, the relevant information obtained from the council and the Land Registry. And then the owners of those properties, and/or those renting or leasing the properties, would be named and shamed.

And then, rather than capitalising on peoples’ misery, the town’s Labour councillors might pull their fingers out and demand an end to it.

OPD GARRISONS

Over the years I’ve written a lot about One Planet Developments. I wish there’d be no need to write anything because I wish the insane TAN 6 legislation had never been passed.

But it was passed and, predictably, it is now being abused. For people soon realised that the OPD route offered a way around the ban on new dwellings in open country. That’s because planning permission is guaranteed if you can satisfy planners the dwelling you want qualifies as an OPD.

We’re at the stage now where a ‘Hobbit house’ that cost a few thousand to knock together with straw bales and bits of spare wood is being offered for sale at £475,000. There is some uncertainty in planning circles as to whether such a structure can be demolished and replaced with a conventional bricks and mortar mansion.

That the seller feels they can ask this price suggests they believe such a transformation can now be wrought.

While on the outskirts of Swansea developers have seen a way to build properties in the green belt – with a few acres of land – by calling them ‘farmlets’. Each of them less than two acres.

Now I learn of yet another innovative approach to OPDs from Swansea, this time a plan to house military veterans. And not just one settlement but “a network of ecovillages”.

I have to confess that when I saw the city of my dreams linked with veterans my heart sank. I immediately thought of this crew, the Democrats and Veterans Party, shown here at one of their shindigs.

Click to enlarge

Though since I wrote about them (scroll down to section ‘(swivel) eyes right!’ they have renamed themselves the Five Star Direct Democracy Party. And they’ll be standing next year in the elections for what they still call the Welsh Assembly.

(It’s going to be a crowded field on the BritNat fringe!)

But thankfully there appears to be no connection between the would-be eco-warriors and those seeking to marry up Great with Britain again.

That said, it’s difficult figuring out which organisation is actually behind this project, because a number are named.

In no particular order, they are: Garrison Farm CIC (originally Project One Ecovillage) a company formed in March; the Community Ecological Land Trust (CELT); and EcoSpace Housing Co-operative, which seems to have an address in Swansea and can be found on the Directory of community-led housing in Wales website, but about which I know little else.

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The two principals are Christopher John Carree, who lives in Ravenhill, and Ross Edwards of Morriston, who is clearly local. With maybe Carree in the driving seat.

And yet, despite the Swansea connections, the Garrison Farm Facebook page suggests the operation is based in Chester. Though the map is fixed on Brittany!

If we are to have OPDs then I’m sure some would prefer Welsh veterans living on them rather than charlatans from over the border doing well-paid day jobs in England and using the OPD as a weekend retreat.

Something that – coincidentally! –  I’ve exposed quite recently. Scroll down to ‘One Planet Developments’.

As I’ve hinted, the worry is that too often the term ‘veterans’ links with far right politics. And heading out into the boondocks of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire has echoes of US militias getting away from the federal government.

Maybe Messrs Carree and Edwards can clear things up.

While I was looking into this report I ran across a site that brings together those looking for land in Wales suitable for OPDs. You might want to follow it. If nothing else, reading it will remind you of the threat posed by One Planet Developments.

‘I DON’T WANT TO GROUSE, BUT . . . ‘

Actually, they’re pheasants, but you get my drift. And they’re to be shot on land around Cwmrhaidr, to the south of Machynlleth.

I suppose I first became aware of the issue when I saw a tweet from beaver lover Iolo Williams. Yet another rich person from England has bought a chunk of Wales and proceeded to do whatever he likes.

Iolo Williams calls for Natural Resources Wales to intervene. Touching. He’d have had more chance of a response if he’d called on the Vladivostok fire department.

Click to enlarge

This new site for game shooting is marketed as, ‘Dyfi Falls’ by Guns on Pegs. It’s said to be “near the village of Machnylleth (sic), in mid Wales”.

Another company involved is Cambrian Birds, which is not an escort agency (as I’d hoped), but organises days out for the kind of braying ass prepared to pay £395 for a ‘sock’. (Not sure if that’s one sock or a pair.)

A resistance group was set up on September 30th called Arbed Cwmrhaidr a’r Llyfnant (Save Cwmrhaidr and the Llyfnant).  The group explains that its concerns are not limited to the unnecessary killing of birds for sport:

“The release of 40,000 gamebirds, most of which seem to be escaping into neighbouring farms and woodlands (including SSSIs), are already causing massive ecological damage. They eat endangered plants and animals, compete with native wildlife for food, and their excrement creates ammonia pollution capable of destroying the rare species that are special to this place.

The bulldozing of trees and new roads is devastating this landscape, a famous beauty spot since Victorian times.

Who benefits? Not local people. The company (Cambrian Birds) is registered in Shropshire. The owner is in Essex. The gamekeepers have been brought in. The clients pay over £2500 per day, but it will be invisible to the local economy.”

I’m not sure I approve of, “famous beauty spot since Victorian times”. Wasn’t the area beautiful before it was ‘discovered’ by visitors from over the border? We’re in Columbus territory here.

As you’ve read, the land was bought by a man from Essex and has been leased to Cambrian Birds. If the protesters know the identity of the buyer they seem reluctant to make it public. Thankfully, the quibble-free proprietor of this blog has no such qualms.

Here’s the title document. It tells us that the land was bought by Thomas William Speakman for £4.75m, without apparently needing a loan or a mortgage. I’m afraid the Land Registry did not offer a plan of the land via website enquiry.

How did we get to this situation?

Certain agencies, including the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, have been so successful in ‘selling’ Wales that many people now see Wales as the new frontier (or maybe the final frontier); a territory just waiting to be ‘opened up’, peopled only by primitive natives who can be brushed aside.

They will continue to believe this until we, the Welsh people, make them realise they’ve got it wrong. And it has to be us because no one else will do it.

To end on a lighter note. Something that occurred to me as I was writing this piece is that these birds are now running wild on land coveted by the rewilders of Summit to Sea.

What do Monbiot and his chorus of memsahibs have to say about this?

AN UNUSUAL SCAM

A good source has been in touch to tell me of a couple in their sixties, husband and wife, man and woman, male and female, who stayed – briefly – in a cottage he owns. They stayed one night, left early the next day and then tried a bit of blackmail.

Which is why they’re appearing here.

They arrived the Friday before last having booked through holidaycottages.co.uk. Within an hour the woman was on the phone complaining that the television didn’t work, the place was filthy, and she had been vacuum cleaning almost since she’d arrived.

When the guests went out for dinner the cleaner checked the place out – everything was fine, and the hoover hadn’t been used.

Early the next morning my source found a scruffy note pushed through his letter-box with a litany of complaints – but the pair had fled! He soon received an e-mail, which read:

“Following our abortive holiday to the above cottage which we left on 3 October 2020 due to dirty condition, missing/not working equipment, we have contacted holidaycottages.co.uk with photographs of the filthy conditions and await their response.

We have given that company 7 days in which to respond to our refund request and advised them that if they do not respond within that timeframe, we will issue county court proceedings (small claims jurisdiction) against them bringing you in as third party defendants.

While we would like to resolve this matter amicably, we shall have no hesitation in publishing our photographs online and commencing said proceedings in the event you or the holiday cottage agent do not strive to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to this matter.

It would appear, thus far, our communications with the company are going unanswered and, hence, court proceedings look inevitable unless you wish to settle this matter yourselves”.

Then the photographs materialised. I’m using just two to make the point. The one on the left is claimed to be from inside the cottage. The one on the right is actually from inside the cottage. Two completely different window frames.

And yet . . . in both images we see the same yard. Someone has gone to the trouble of Photoshopping the image on the left by imposing the phoney window frame onto a genuine picture of the yard below!

Click to enlarge

There was an exchange of e-mails which resulted in the complainant giving her bank details and demanding an instant refund for the two weeks she and her silent husband had paid for.

As far as my source and the local police can figure it . . . the woman would have quickly cancelled or claimed back the payment made on her credit card, then demanded a refund from holidaycottages.co.uk, plus a refund – or more – from my source using the threat of putting the doctored photographs online.

This was too well practised to be a one-off. So if Mrs Sandra T—–t of W—— M—–, Suffolk, tries to book a holiday in your property tell her you’re hosting the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference and both bedrooms are taken.

My source made light of it eventually, and had a little laugh in his final e-mail to her. Here’s an extract:

“But then was it worth it, such a tawdry little scam – surely you are now old enough to see how pathetic you are. You made so many mistakes . . . the fingerprints and some lovely CCTV shots of you enjoying P———. A word of advice, the trouser suit is not a good look in a woman of your age – especially from behind”.

The fellow’s a cad!

THE BLM DIVIDEND

Ever since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis the world has gone a little bit crazy. But there’s never been a better time for those who can sniff out Welsh public funding from a long way away. From England, in fact.

It’s time to introduce Diverse Cymru. The name says a lot.

You must have noticed that any third sector organisation hoping for Welsh money either gives itself a full-on Welsh name or, at the very least, adds ‘Cymru’ to the name of the local branch of an English organisation.

As for diversity, it will ‘represent’ a tiny percentage of the population. In my experience BAME organisations are usually made up of sub-Saharan Africans and those with origins in India or Pakistan. Others, such as the industrious Chinese, seem to be totally absent. And of course, there are white people – usually women – with Labour Party connections, in order to ease the flow of the lucre.

The help such organisations provide to members of the public is debatable, but they serve their primary function, which is to create well-paid sinecures and regular jollies for a class of people, often ‘woke’ to the point of hysteria, who might be unemployable in the real world.

Diverse Cymru made the news recently with this call for more help for BAME people suffering mental health issues under Covid lockdown restrictions. According to Samira Salter of Diverse Cymru, BAME people have been “forgotten about” during the pandemic.

Which is nonsense. George Floyd was killed on May 2, and BAME people have never experienced such solicitous attention as in the period since his death.

Image: BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

The people who have suffered worst under Covid are poor people. And certainly many BAME people fall into that category. But the great majority of poor people in Wales are white. It’s about poverty, not colour.

And if we’re dealing with the mental health issues around Coronavirus and lockdown, then I guarantee that these problems are worse in rural areas, not the cities and towns where BAME populations are largely found.

So who runs Diversity Cymru? A source has given me some information and after reading it I knew what kind of body we are dealing with.

“Lead director is Ms Eunica Aure who’s an economist from the Philippines and was a government Spad there. After a stint in the Asian banking sector she moved to London to work on land evaluation of estates in Afghanistan and now works for WYG the consultants that management consult on overseas aid.

Mr Benjamin Coates. His full time job is Assistant Director & Head of Performance and Effectiveness at Equality and Human Rights Commission, based in London.

Ms Helen Susannah Dodoo. Her daytime job is Assistant General Manager at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which on her Linkedin profile she has located in New South Wales, Australia. She actually lives in Pontcanna, Cardiff.”

What the hell do these people know about Wales? Who appointed them trustees?

I didn’t believe the bit about New South Wales, so I checked. It’s true.

Click to enlarge

These people, remember, are the trustees of a ‘Welsh’ third sector body that has received millions and millions of pounds of Welsh public funding.

The website tells us, “Diverse Cymru was created in 2010 through a merger between Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People and Awetu” (Swahili for unity).

Diverse Cymru is either a pantomime horse of an organisation or a clever merger suggesting disabled people and BAME populations have a shared experience of discrimination.

Whatever the answer, how many other BAME bodies are operating in Wales? And how many charities and local government services for the disabled? And how many bodies tackling mental health issues?

With Diverse Cymru we find yet more of the duplication, competition and waste of money that we find wherever we look in the third sector.

Let’s focus on the money for a bit.

The company is actually called Diverse Excellence Cymru Ltd. And it should go without saying that in addition to the grant funding it has also received a loan from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’s, Finance Wales Investments Ltd.

(And there was me thinking that Finance Wales exists to build up the Welsh economy, to create jobs.)

Down in the south west, local authorities are coughing up lots of money for Diverse Cymru to deliver services to the disabled which elsewhere, and on the national stage, Diverse Cymru seems to have abandoned.

As the latest accounts tell us, the principle source of funding now is now Direct Payments from the three local authorities of the south west. This explains the office in Carmarthen.

While it seems to have a free hand in the south west, in Newport Diverse Cymru “works alongside the Council’s Independent Living Advisors”. Click to enlarge

For some reason the funding from Pembrokeshire reduced by more than 50% from 2018 to 2019, while the other two authorities increased their payments. What is the explanation for these variations?

Of course, getting paid for delivering services looks a lot better than just getting hand-outs from the ‘Welsh Government’, and this is reflected in the table below.

Click to enlarge

But I return to what I said earlier about Diverse Cymru being an absurd hybrid trying to deliver two unrelated services. Not only that, but we have also found a geographic split between the Cardiff-based, BAME arm, and the council-funded services for independent living for the disabled organised from Carmarthen.

And so I can’t help wondering if any of that money raised in the south west is funding what are clearly the true priorities of Diverse Cymru.

LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL

It’s time to catch up with another rascal in the manly form of Tristan Scott Haynes who, last year, bought the old Shire Hall in Llangefni, capital of Ynys Môn.

Tristan appeared on this site in Not another one!, after which he was called back for a few curtain-calls in Wales, colonialism and corruption (scroll down to section ‘Llangefni Hire Hall’), Miscellany 06.06.2020 (‘Ynys Môn 2’), before finally putting his head around the curtain in Odds & Sods 22.07.2020 (‘Llangefni Shire Hall’).

In that final appearance I reported that the Shire Hall was up for sale. That, I thought, was the end of it, unless another ‘interesting’ character took the stage.

Click to enlarge

But now I learn that the old monstrosity has been withdrawn from sale.

Not only that, but Haynes is touting for investors. Or rather, he has issued a prospectus that says it’s directed at contractors to fulfil his dream in Llangefni, but as you read the document you soon realise he’s looking for money.

The prospectus is issued by his company Chief Properties Ltd, though it doesn’t say whether it came from the Paris office or the Los Angeles office. In truth, it’s probably from the garage he rents in Bedford.

There is no website for Chief Properties, but I did find a very basic YouTube channel. I suppose it has to be basic because the company has no money and is lumbered with two loans from Together Commercial Finance Ltd, another of the ‘specialist lenders’ that we so often find in Manchester.

Read the prospectus for yourself. (I am indebted to a recipient for sending it to me. He assures me he’s ripped open the sofa and is now going through all his trouser pockets in order to cash in on this unmissable offer.)

As such documents go, it’s badly written. I suppose this would serve as an example, “29th May 2020 Executives of the Anglesey County Council suggests and supports the development of SHIRE HALL to residential use.”

In addition, it’s amateurishly compiled with a number of spelling mistakes. One glaring mistake, due to the large print, is the “Ariel view” provided of the building.

And here’s an example of the gibberish I’m referring to. What the hell is it trying to say? How does the council feel about being associated with this? It reads like a very poor translation.

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But it’s not all bad, for the prospectus reminds us of Eryri’s claim to fame: “Snowdonia National Park – otherwise known as the adventure capital of the UK”.

The bastion of Welsh resistance to English aggression now reduced to England’s playground. Makes you proud to be Welsh.

♦ end ♦

 




Tourism in Wales: problems, thoughts, suggestions

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I’m taking a break from the con men, fraudsters and assorted crooks who figure regularly here. But I’m not moving far, because this week I’m focusing on tourism operators, politicians and others who themselves have but a nodding acquaintance with the truth.

THE STORM BREAKS

One of the benefits of coronavirus and lockdown was the absence of tourists, and the joyous consequences of that absence. Such as much less traffic on our rural roads, fewer call-outs for our emergency services, and in all manner of ways making rural and coastal areas of Wales more pleasant for those who live there all year round.

Making recent months seem even more of a lost golden age has been the irruption of noisy, stupid and irresponsible tourists since lockdown was eased by our self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, bowing to pressure from the Conservative and Unionist Party and tourism operators.

There has inevitably been a reaction from local people to the return of the tourists in what have been, literally, overwhelming numbers. What you see below was the scene two weeks ago near Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).

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Much of the anger this has generated is directed at motorists, with many photos in print and online of inconsiderately parked cars. Which allowed some to argue that all would be well if we had bigger car parks to accommodate all the vehicles. Or even park and ride schemes.

Both of which ignore the real problem – many areas get more cars than the local road system can handle, and more people than the environment can cope with. I shall return to the environmental angle later.

Let’s also remember that the problems caused by tourism go way beyond traffic issues.

RESPONSES

Here’s a two-page spread from last Wednesday’s Llais y Sais, in which we read Councillor Gareth Thomas, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Head of Economical Development, opine that, despite the recent problems, tourism, “provides high quality jobs for local people as well as supporting the county’s environment, language, culture and destinations”.

“Destinations”?

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I don’t know Gareth Thomas, he might be a great bloke, but anyone saying that tourism provides high quality jobs, and that it also supports the area’s environment, language and culture is talking absolute nonsense.

Yesterday’s Daily Post carried what might have been an attempt to retrieve the situation. (With first minister Drakeford not ruling out a tourism tax . . . sort of.) But did council leader Dyfrig Siencyn really say, as he is quoted: ” . . . our rural economy is totally dependent on the tourism industry”?

A fuller version of this article may have appeared in Llais y Sais, Read it here.

Perhaps hoping to establish its own credentials vis-à-vis tourism opposition group Llais Gwynedd also weighed in. For those unfamiliar with Llais Gwynedd (which has 6 councillors), it sees itself as perhaps more radical than Plaid Cymru, more rooted in the local communities of Gwynedd.

Its spokesman, Glyn Daniels, wants to charge hikers on Yr Wyddfa £1 per head. I don’t know Glyn Daniels either, but he’s also talking rubbish. At £1 per head the money raised wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs of collecting and processing it.

What’s more, it would not serve as a deterrent. And we need some kind of deterrent to reduce the numbers coming to areas like our national parks and other ‘honey pots’. To cover the costs mentioned, and put a decent amount into the communities affected, the charge would need to be a minimum of £10 a head.

In a Daily Post poll, more than 70% of respondents agreed there should be a charge.

Opposing Councillor Daniels’ suggestion to charge hikers was Brân Devey, of Ramblers Cymru, with a remark I found rather puzzling: “Local people will not go up Snowdon really in the summer, it is too busy”.

Is he saying we shouldn’t charge the people overcrowding Yr Wyddfa in summer because they’re not locals?

‘Ramblers Cymru’ is worth a little detour.

‘RAMBLERS CYMRU’?

You will remember that ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson, Minister for Hippies in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition 2007 – 2011, and midwife of One Planet Developments, was also Welsh vice-president of The Ramblers before stepping down in 2007, and then, as grough tells us, she rejoined as president when she departed Corruption Bay in 2011.

But of course she shunned The Ramblers, and the ramblers, while she was a minister.

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For some reason this second stint with The Ramblers is not mentioned in Davidson’s Wikipedia entry. (By the time you read it the page might have been re-written, again.)

Though it’s difficult to make out if there really is a group called Ramblers Cymru or, as the grough article I just linked to puts it, Davidson became “president of the Ramblers in Wales”.

The website, https://www.ramblers.org.uk/wales, suggests another Englandandwales organisation, for when you click ‘Home’ on the Wales page you go back to the UK site.

Which is appropriate, for most of those working for Ramblers Cymru have moved here to do jobs that are clearly beyond the abilities of Welsh people. Mainly women of the type who have flooded into Wales since devolution to run the hundreds of third sector bodies that the ‘progressive’ parties feel we can’t do without.

One, Maria Hamlett, says: “My background includes working in numerous third sector organisations in key governance roles”. While Amanda Hill has: “15 years experience working for Worcestershire County Council”. Rebecca Brough: “I have a background in policy influencing work in the governmental, charity and statutory sectors”.

Important points there. For the staff at Ramblers Cymru don’t restrict themselves to scolding a wicked farmer for leaving Berwyn the bull on the footpath, they also seek to influence policy-makers. Just as Jane Davidson did, before, during, and after her stint as a minister.

The people I’m describing do not represent – nor do they seek to represent – our interests. If Welsh interests are served then it’s entirely accidental or tangential. ‘Ramblers Cymru’ and similar organisations seek to curate (love that word!) our homeland for the benefit of others like themselves.

We have far too many colonialist organisations like ‘Ramblers Cymru’.

Because it is what it is no one should be surprised to learn that – just like ‘rewilders’ – The Ramblers demand that the ‘Welsh Government’ forces farmers to do their bidding or have their funding withheld.

Dontcha just love the term, ‘our land’. Another example of, ‘What’s yours is ours’.

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The Ramblers merit this digression because they see Wales as an area for recreation. For them Wales is not a different country; where people witness their language and identity, the country itself, being destroyed by saturation tourism.

What should also make you angry is that these memsahibs, based on Cathedral Road (ideal for rambling), and others just like them, have more influence in Corruption Bay than we poor natives will ever have.

WHAT THE POLITICIANS SAY

That ‘our’ politicians go along with ‘Playground Wales’ is easily explained.

The Labour Party, which has managed Wales since 1999, is an urban party with little concern for rural areas. Labour has no coherent economic plan for the countryside so pretending there is a ‘strategy for tourism’ is a useful way of disguising this inadequacy.

The truth is that tourism is unregulated; it just ‘happens’, and things would carry on in much the same way if the ‘Welsh Government’ fell into a wormhole and reappeared in some distant galaxy. (Stop dreaming!) Making bodies like Visit Wales little more than bystanders, pretending they do something more than organise beanos where they hand out awards and grants.

Click to read article and play video

One of the few things to be said in its favour is that tourism reveals the inconsistency, if not the hypocrisy, of the Labour Party.

Wales must be covered in wind turbines to save the planet, says Labour. For the same reason, OPDs must be allowed to impose their carbon footprint on previously unused land. Yet when our environment is trashed by tourist hordes on a regular basis Labour politicians are blind to the environmental damage!

Another example of Labour’s hypocrisy might be promoting renewable energy, saving the planet, and worrying about the underprivileged . . . while giving millions of pounds to Aston Martin to build £200,000 cars doing 12 miles to the gallon.

The ‘Welsh Government’s declaration of a climate emergency is just bullshit to explain away Wales being lumbered with the wind turbines English communities refuse to accept, and having to accommodate Jane Davidson’s friends.

The Conservative and Unionist Party (plus the fringe BritNats) will support tourism because they will never object to anything that both anglicises Wales and keeps money flowing back to England from staycations in Wales.

Blind, unthinking loyalty to tourism probably explains the comment, quoted in the North Wales Pioneer, from Darren Millar, the MS for Clwyd West, addressing Glyn Daniels’ pound a head suggestion. In Millar’s view, “This is a bad idea. Every pound charged will be a pound less for people to spend in the local economy”.

If Darren Millar had thought before speaking he’d have realised that every pound charged would be guaranteed to stay in the locality, unlike money taken in other ways.

What’s more, those who drive to Yr Wyddfa – to park here, there and everywhere – are often day-trippers, from Greater Manchester, Merseyside and towns nearby. Some will arrive having filled the fuel tank before leaving England, bring a packed lunch, and go home without spending a penny!

For the environmental damage alone, these buggers should be charged £20 a head.

While Plaid Cymru . . . well, what can I say? Plaid Cymru nowadays doesn’t give much thought to Wales. They’re too busy facing up to the fascist hordes they see advancing, outing terfs on social media, and planning more dirty tricks against Neil McEvoy.

Though maybe it’s best they stay schtum, because when they do address the subject – as we’ve seen with Gareth Thomas – they only confirm that they’ve lost the plot.

Whenever a political party, or a politician, says, ‘Wales needs tourism’ they are either lying or exposing their ignorance. The truth is only arrived at by reversing the phrase to read, ‘Tourism needs Wales’.

To conclude this section on a more optimistic note, Wales has two new political parties – Gwlad and the WNP – who I’m sure will take a more analytical, and patriotic, approach to tourism.

I expect both to demand a form of tourism that works for Wales, and the Welsh. Rather than what we suffer at present – an alien enterprise with Welsh people nothing but helpless bystanders as their country is trashed.

MAKING TOURISM WORK FOR US

Let me set out my stall . . .

  • I want to see an industry offering visitors from all over the world quality tourism.
  • An industry that provides business opportunities and well-paid, permanent  jobs for Welsh people.
  • An industry that benefits Wales and her people without the cultural, social and environmental damage currently being inflicted by tourism.

Here are just a few suggestions for achieving these objectives:

1/ Tourism tax: A minimum charge of £2 per head per overnight stay, including those in self-catering accommodation. This to be collected by the owner of the property or site and paid to the local authority.

This money will used in the areas from which it is collected or on capital projects of more widespread benefit. Why not consult local people on how they’d like to see it spent?

Tourism tax is raised everywhere and it benefits local communities. I recall Silvio Berlusconi having to pay a local tourism tax in Sardinia when he docked his luxury yacht, the Bunga Bunga.

2/ Caravan sites: These is no place for these blots on the landscape in a country promoting quality tourism in a respected environment. They offer holidays on the cheap and the money they put into the local economy is overstated. Very few jobs are created and the major beneficiary is the site owner, often a foreign company.

Caravan sites should be phased out over a period of ten years with no replacement ‘vans, cabins or lodges permitted. Thousands of acres could be returned to agriculture or Nature by getting rid of them.

Farmers and others should be allowed small sites of perhaps no more than 50 units.

To maximise tourism income, business opportunities and jobs we should strive to have as many people as possible staying in serviced accommodation.

3/ Raising standards: In New Zealand – a country with which we often like to compare Wales – they have a School of Tourism, operating on eight campuses throughout the country, internationally respected and offering a wide range of courses.

In Wales, all we do is teach Siôn and Sioned elementary catering skills at the local sixth form college so they can work for Kevin from Stockport who owns the local hotel . . . since he bought it off Keith and Sharon from Coventry. Kevin, of course, will have had no training.

Or it might be Paul and Rowena Williams at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor. Or their business partner, Myles Cunliffe. (‘Weep for Wales’ passim.) Or perhaps Siôn and Sioned can get a job at one of the hotels owned by Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

Or perhaps not, seeing as all the businesses owned by these crooks are closed and/or in the hands of receivers.

Which is why other countries insist on a proven level of proficiency, and background checks, before anyone is allowed to run a hotel. But here, money is all that matters. As long as you’ve got the dosh you can buy a five star hotel, and run it badly, thereby damaging the reputation of the locality, and Wales.

You can even buy a zoo without knowing anything about the care of animals!

4/ Permits: New Zealand provides another example worth following. (And NZ isn’t alone in this.) I’m referring now to limiting numbers visiting environmentally sensitive areas and issuing those visiting with permits.

If you live outside Wales and you want to go hiking in one of our national parks then you should pay £20 a year. For the three national parks you pay £50 a year. If the National Trust can charge us to visit sites in our own country, why can’t we do something similar and use the money for our benefit?

Again, the money raised would be used within the local area.

Click to read article

5/ Airports: You don’t need to go as far as New Zealand to realise the value of a good airport. Scotland is a much nearer example. Overseas tourists, high-spending overseas tourists, fly directly to Glasgow and Edinburgh. They do so all year round.

All we have is Cardiff airport, kept afloat by public money and still losing out to Bristol. We obviously need a new, more accessible airport in the south. We also need one in the north. Why not revamp Llanbedr airfield? It would be better to have overseas tourists flying in than to have the place used – as at present – for testing inaccurate drones that will wipe out wedding parties in Afghanistan.

Well-heeled foreign tourists flying in also offer opportunities for taxi and car hire firms.

6/ Public Transport: Overseas and other tourists not wanting to drive will need public transport. An integrated public transport system is therefore essential. This would have to include a north-south rail link.

The ‘Welsh Government’ has prevaricated for years over re-opening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line. That’s because doing so would offer no obvious benefits to Cardiff or to England.

Yet you’d think that an administration dedicated to saving the planet would prioritise public transport. But no, and this lack of commitment to public transport – apart from the Cardiff Metro (to benefit the Cardiff economy not the environment) – is yet another example of Labour’s hypocrisy.

7/ Funding: A major obstacle to Welsh people getting involved in tourism – other than as cooks and cleaners – is a lack of finance.

The ‘Welsh Government’ could divert a portion of the funding it squanders on third sector memsahibs into a pot accessible to young Welsh people who’ve been through school, got a few years practical experience under their belts, and now need funding to branch out on their own.

I appreciate that this is not how tourism is supposed to operate in a colonial context, but what the hell – let’s give it a try!

8/ Touring caravans and Camper-vans: I’m throwing this one in more as a traffic safety measure and a means of lowering blood pressure, but it’s definitely related to tourism.

No towed caravans or camper-vans should be allowed on any public highway between the hours of 6am and 10pm.

CONCLUSION

Tourism in Wales can be summed up as hundreds of thousands of people driving east to west along overcrowded roads, congregating in unsustainable numbers at certain points, staying in the cheapest possible accommodation (if they stay at all), and spending as little money as possible before driving home. Each wave succeeded by the next, and each wave contributing to erosion.

So, what do you think – should we continue to accept ‘Tourism at any cost’?

I say no. I say we reject the idea that Wales exists to provide cheap holidays for our neighbours. Wales should not provide anything to anyone on the cheap.

But the political will must be there to make the necessary changes.

If the political will is absent then we as a nation have every right to defend ourselves from this exploitation of our homeland, this assault on our very identity.

♦ end ♦

 




Miscellany 15.07.2020

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Seeing as I spoilt you with two issues last week this week’s post is later than usual. It takes the form of a couple of ‘starters’, a very substantial main course, followed by coffee, and then there’s a liqueur to round things off which some of you may find a little bitter.

But it’s another feast, so take your time!

RHOSCOLYN LTD

In the recent series I did on Jake Berry – the Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire, but who owns an ever-increasing number of properties on Ynys Môn – we found an old company of his named Rhoscolyn Ltd. This outfit bit the dust in 2010, but the name has been resurrected.

The new Rhoscolyn Ltd belongs to Michael William Kenyon, and it’s also in the business of buying, selling and letting Welsh property. Kenyon also comes from over the border, from Cheshire. As I’ve remarked before, the property market in the north seems to be controlled now from Manchester and Cheshire. With the Cheshire Set entrenched from Abba Sock to Ross Niger and Ross Colin.

Kenyon is involved in a number of companies. An interesting one being a Lloyds-linked LLP which was, apparently, started in 2008 by Kenyon’s then 88-year-old father. Or at least, in the old man’s name. Nomina No 457 LLP has no less than 44 outstanding charges, many of which link to the USA, some to a bank in Louisville, Kentucky. And when you click on the ‘People’ tab you bring up other LLPs and more Kenyons.

The world of high finance, eh! What chance do locals on Ynys Môn, or indeed the council, have against people like Jake Berry with his Westminster connections, and Maxwell with his City links?

But the question is, are the two companies named Rhoscolyn Ltd linked? Do Berry and Kenyon know each other?

MY COMPANY!

You will recall that a company being run by crooks I’ve written about many times, started life in January 2019 as Glynllifon Mansion Ltd, then in December became Waterford Interiors Ltd, before undergoing yet another change of name in June when it became Royston Jones LL36 9YF Ltd.

This was reported to North Wales Police on the grounds of a) harassment [as it followed hand-delivered threatening letters] and b) the possibility that this company bearing my name might be used for unlawful purposes.

I also made my feelings known to Companies House, but there was nothing they could do. You can give a company any name you like, it seems. Though I’m sure you wouldn’t be able to register a company using the name of a royal, or a leading politician, or lots of other people.

Anyway, NWP phoned Myles Cunliffe, who had been a director until November, after that he ran the company through his boy Thomas Jacob Hindle. Cunliffe professed his innocence, as did Hindle when the police spoke with him. So it seems the name changed all by itself! Whatever next?

Myles Cunliffe may be back where he started in the shadowy world of unregulated car leasing and credit brokering. Someone sent this link to explain what he’s up to.

AFAN VALLEY ADVENTURE RESORT

TO RECAP . . .

Among the crooks who’ve crossed the border recently we find Gavin Lee Woodhouse, of Northern Powerhouse Developments. Gavin’s business model was to buy a run-down hotel, inflate its value, and then sell off the rooms individually as ‘investments’.

Many of the buyers had overseas addresses. Whether they knew they’d bought a room from Woodhouse is a good question. Whether some of them even existed may be an even better question.

His other line was selling rooms in care homes . . . care homes that never got built.

Gavin Woodhouse owned hotels from Llandudno to Tenby, and then he got really ambitious with his Afan Valley Adventure Resort (AVAR), up behind Port Talbot.

The jackpot for Woodhouse would be selling the 600 lodges for £200,000 or more, plus the 100 hotel rooms. To get punters queuing, and to promote the ‘adventure’ angle, Woodhouse recruited maggot-muncher and self-publicist extraordinaire, Bore Grylls.

But the black clouds were gathering for Afan Valley Ltd.

Let it be universally understood that I am not for one minute suggesting that Grylls was sharp enough to have sussed that Woodhouse was a con man. Nice image of the West Glamorgan Alps. Click to enlarge

And once the storm broke Grylls doused himself with hogwash, put on his camouflage pants – the ones with the Kalashnikov sewn into the hem – and disappeared . . . to emerge a short time later from a rhododendron bush on Llŷn and convince a group of photocopier salesmen from Reading that once they’d got their boots muddy and handed over £2,000 a head they would be official, part-time, honorary members of the SAS. (And for another grand he could get them in the Foreign Legion as well!)

Before long most people realised Woodhouse was a crook . . . except, it seemed, those closest to him. Such as Peter Moore, the CEO and alleged brains of the outfit, who still thought Woodhouse was kosher!

As did the ‘Welsh Government’ whose duty it was – or should have been – to have made enquiries. Young Kenny Skates, famed for his dazzling gnashers and his Flint Ring, rushed to enjoy a photo op with Woodhouse and Moore on a high and windy hill above the Afan Valley. (Councillor Jones looks less impressed.)

Click to enlarge

One of my favourites, this. It hangs in my hall alongside the photo of great-aunt Fastidia competing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, shooting something, or somebody. (Did she give a Nazi salute? Of course she did . . . she gave everyone a Nazi salute.)

I started asking questions about Woodhouse in April 2017, and eventually the mainstream media got involved in the middle of 2019. (Though this was almost certainly at the pleading of cheated investors.) This report from ITV of June last year has a video explaining how Woodlouse operates. ITV News co-operated on this inquiry with the Guardian, which provides another account.

UPDATE

Understandably, this house of cards soon collapsed, but I’ve tried to keep up with events. In March I received an e-mail from Companies House telling me a progress report had been received from the administrators, but when I checked, it had been so poorly scanned it was unreadable. After three e-mails asking for a better copy, one finally appeared last week. Here is that report.

Those of you thinking this project is dead should think again. Neath Port Talbot council extended the deadline to establish the project’s credibility until 31 March, (but obviously this was overtaken by the Coronavirus pandemic). So I guess from NPT’s point of view the project is still ‘live’.

You’ll also note that despite Gavin Woodhouse being exposed and his companies in receivership, CEO Peter Moore is still at his desk. Any comparison with a Japanese soldier still fighting on in the jungle in the 196os would be erroneous. Moore knows the score – so who’s he working for?

Let’s refer again to the administrator’s report. Where, at 3.2.1, paragraph 6, we read:

Click to enlarge

It’s reasonable to assume that this neighbouring landowner is also paying Moore’s salary. Helpfully, he’s named in this Business Live report from September last as Clive Mishon.

And when we look at the Afan Valley entry on the Companies House website we see two charges. One held by Mishon himself, the other by his company 360Mi, which seems to have been set up in September 2017 specifically to deliver the loan in December.

Both loans mention title numbers WA519567 and CYM471819. There are also a couple of other titles worth looking at.

WA519567:

Scroll down to page 8 and you’ll read what I’ve captured for you in the box below. (Caerau Park Ltd was the name used by Afan Valley Ltd from its Incorporation 14 April 2016 until the name change of 23 February 2017.)

Click to enlarge

As already stated, this ‘Land at Caerau Park Wood’ was bought in March 2017 for £889,000 by Afan Valley Ltd from Ontaris Resources Inc and Foreman Properties Ltd. The top of page 6 tells us this was done with the loan taken out with Clive Mishon.

Ontaris Resources is registered in the British Virgin Islands, one of many dirty money havens protected by the UK government. In the Offshore Leaks Database you’ll find Ontaris linked with Andrew Patrick Foreman. Click on Foreman’s name and you bring up a registered address of Tickton Hall, Tickton, Beverley, near Hull.

This is where we find Afan Solar Ltd. Mishon and Foreman both served as directors, with Mishon the original majority shareholder. The company was struck off in September 2015 without ever filing accounts.

We now know that Woodhouse bought the land from Mishon and his mates – with money they loaned him!

P.S. Tickton Hall seems to be an agreeable county house hotel north of Hull. It is owned by Andrew Patrick Foreman.

CYM471819

This is mentioned in 15 of the panel above, where we are told that Mishon’s intervention in July 2019 also covered CYM471819. This title refers to a sliver of land alongside the A4107 (Brytwn Road), heading east out of Cymmer, which has the appearance of a ransom strip. Possibly a future entrance.

CYM60212

More ‘Land at Caerau Park Wood, Caerau, Maesteg’, bought by Clive Mishon in May 2014 for £180,000. The title document tells us of “a contract for sale dated 1 August 2016 made between (1) Clive Mishon and (2) Caerau Parc Limited.” 

It appears the sale did not go through.

CYM655077

You’ll notice that the previous title document mentions a lease of ‘Land lying to the west of Pen y Bryn’. This made little sense for a while until I grasped that Pen y Bryn was the name for a stretch of the A4063 in Croeserw.

The land is leased for 20 years from 1 January 2015 by Arqiva Ltd, a company in the business of telephone masts.

Explained in the images I’ve put together below. The one on the left is from the Caves of South Wales site (you must know it!), and the one on the right from the Land Registry. Which is helpful seeing as the LR does not offer maps with CYM60212 or with WA519567.

Note ‘Pen y Bryn’, the highway coloured red. Click to enlarge

On page four (3) of this title document you can read “(22.07.2015) Option to purchase in favour of Afan Energy Limited contained in an Option Agreement dated 17 April 2014 made between (1) Clive Mishon and (2) Afan Energy Limited upon the terms therein mentioned.”

Yes, in addition to Afan Solar there is also Afan Energy Ltd, and at the same East Yorkshire address where we also found BVI-registered Ontaris. Or rather, there was an Afan Energy, because it was voluntarily written off in September 2017 with liabilities of £596,391. Mishon was the sole director at the death. Which means that the Agreement of 2014 was between him and his company.

WHAT NEXT?

It would appear that the whole area set aside for the Afan Valley Adventure Resort is now owned by Clive Mishon (and perhaps others), who reinforced his claim just days ahead of the administrators.

Obviously Mishon thinks it’s worth proceeding with the Afan Valley Adventure Resort; and why not, there’s a great deal of money to be made if it can be pulled off.

And Google Maps certainly thinks it will – it’s even renamed a road in anticipation!

The AVAR site is bounded for the most part by the A4107, the A4063 and, to the south, the NPT boundary. The whole site owned by Clive Mishon (and perhaps his partners). Click to enlarge

Though a big question for me remains: ‘Seeing as Woodlouse bought the land off people who loaned him the money for the purchase, did he ever really own it?’

Or was he just fronting for Mishon (and his mates) all along? I ask because as I’ve been writing this a picture has been forming in my head.

We’ve met companies called Afan Energy and Afan Solar, which suggest that Mishon and friends originally intended to reap the subsidy bonanza with solar arrays and wind turbines. This fell through, perhaps trumped by the massive Pen y Cymoedd wind farm nearby. So thoughts turned to other uses for the land.

As this was an attractive wooded area, already used by mountain bikers and others, to come up with the idea of an adventure resort didn’t need any great leap of imagination.

For Mishon and his mates the problem might have been the way some of their companies were structured . . . and then there were the offshore links. This might have been off-putting for the ‘Welsh Government’, certainly it could have been used by their opponents. The media (what’s left of it) might also have asked questions.

Gavin Woodhouse, with his hotels scattered about Wales, and being favoured by the ‘Welsh Government’ with a grant of £500,000 for his Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy valley, might have seemed the perfect front man.

If I’m right, that really is funny.

CONCLUSION

I could certainly understand both the ‘Welsh Government’ and Neath Port Talbot Borough Council being reluctant to deal with people using Limited Liability Partnerships and other opaque financial vehicles. Then there are the tax haven companies.

Would our tribunes ever know who they were really dealing with, and where the money came from? But then, maybe they now think they’re dealing with Peter Moore.

That said, the Afan Valley, and the Valleys in general, need jobs.

We are faced with this dilemma because leftists, like Labour and Plaid Cymru, have no idea how to build an economy and create jobs; which leaves Wales prey to shysters like Woodlouse and businessmen like Clive Mishon and his associates, with their tax haven companies.

Click to enlarge

Native socialist incompetence and alien exploitation in the symbiotic relationship that is destroying Wales.

Wales deserves better. But it can only come from those determined to make Wales more prosperous, rather than those who prefer to whine about deprivation, and exploit it for political gain.

The first step out of the mess Wales is in is to support political parties seeking to build a genuinely Welsh economy and serve the Welsh national interest. With the foundation laid we can then push for independence.

ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS

INTRODUCTION

For those new to the subject, OPDs were introduced by the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition management team (2007-2011) as a gesture to show that Wales was playing its part in the fight against global warming.

The truth was that the scam was engineered by Minister for Hippies, Jane Davidson, whose friends didn’t want to pay market prices for smallholdings. So, the ‘Welsh Government’ brought out Technical Advice Note 6, which made it clear to planners that any dreadlocked planet-saver who showed up on their patch should be allowed to build whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted.

Click to enlarge

That was because this person, his ‘lady’, their offspring, their dogs, cats, goats, chickens, sheep, and other livestock, their candles and incense burners, their wood-burning stove, plus their diesel-powered 4 x 4 and generator, were reducing Wales’ carbon footprint.

Anyone who couldn’t see that had to be a climate change denier.

GOWER

In recent posts I’ve discussed cases suggesting the OPD system is being abused even more than legislators had intended. Catch up by reading: One Planet Developments (29.06.2020) and One Planet Developments, getting devious (09.07.2020).

News reaches me from Gower suggesting that whatever is planned for the Parkmill woodland may not be a OPD commune. I’m glad to hear that, and I hope it’s true, but I shall keep my powder dry.

Staying on Gower, I also reported that the Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) of Brighton had applied for a two-dwelling OPD at Furzehill, Ilston – that it planned to rent or sub-let! Letters of support have come in . . . from all over England. But a recent letter from Reading might put the absurd project in jeopardy.

It comes from Ieuan Williams BSc., MA., FBIAC, PIEMA of Reading Agricultural Consultants. What gives the letter its weight is that Williams was ” . . . a member of the team that wrote the Welsh Government’s TAN 6 Practice Guidance, relating to rural enterprise dwellings.”

Here are a few extracts: “ELC appears not to understand OPD policy and its requirements . . . It may even be that the tenants have not read and understood the OPD Guidance . . . The tenants’ approach to the development appears to be as a rural enterprise rather than an OPD . . . It is of considerable concern that the prospective tenants seem to think that travel around the country, throughout the UK and abroad on holidays would be acceptable for residents of an OPD . . . With regards to water use on the site, contrary to the ELC assertion in its Planning Statement, use of a mains water supply is not acceptable for the site occupants.”

Another very good objection came from Christine Lloyd of Parkmill who made a very interesting, but rather worrying, point, when she writes: “Most of the letters of support are from outside the area but they seem to be given additional status by being added to the Document page on the planning portal. Most of the objections are from locals and are on the Comments tab.”

Why would that be? Are certain employees of Swansea council exhibiting bias in favour of these schemes?

What the Ecological Land Co-operative of Brighton wants is to throw up cheap dwellings on the edge of town, pretend they’re OPDs, charge rent, and then swan about the world to attend self-congratulatory bun fights.

LLANSTEFFAN

Moving west, we also looked at an application for a OPD at Pentowyn Farm, Llansteffan.

To get the bigger picture I’m told we need to introduce Gwilym Griffith Morris, originally from the upper reaches of Cwmtawe or even the Brecon area. Morris is something of a wheeler-dealer in the world of agricultural land and buildings.

Around 30 years ago, he bought Mwche farm, adjoining Pentowyn. Then Pentowyn itself. He sold off the farm buildings to a woman in Swansea, and the land to other buyers. The marshes he sold to the National Trust and is believed to rent them back.

A recent claim to fame was his planning application for a wind turbine at Mwche, which lies across the Tâf estuary from Dylan Thomas’s boathouse. As is the way with things in Carmarthenshire, local councillors nodded it though without even a site visit.

Click to enlarge

The international outcry was such that even county CEO Mark James had to back down. And it cost the council over twenty grand.

Here’s the planning application. There was of course a firm from England behind the wind turbine. It would appear that the ‘local benefits’ of renewable energy – rather like caravan sites – are restricted to landowners.

Here’s the inimitable and sadly missed Cneifiwr’s slant on the matter with The Dylan Thomas Memorial Wind Turbine. Be sure to follow the links he provides.

A source has pointed me towards an interesting planning application that might explain the application for an OPD. A few years ago, Griff or Gruff Morris applied for a ‘farm dwelling’ at Pentowyn . . . having sold off the farmhouse soon after buying the farm.

He had been successful with a similar application at Mwche farm. But the Pentowyn application was rejected in May 2018. Check it out here.

As I say, Griff/Gruff Morris is a wheeler-dealer always looking to turn a penny. It is suspected locally that this OPD application is simply the ‘farm dwelling’ in different wellies.

Mwche farm, or parts of it, were sold a few years back, to this man.

Griff or Gruff Morris is now rumoured to be back in the Brecon area.

‘FAUXDEGLA’

For those who don’t know the area, Llandegla-yn-Iâl is a village in Denbighshire on the moors to which it gives its name. I often take that route to Wrecsam.

Pursuing a certain line of inquiry recently I came across a business named Fauxdegla Shooting Ground. The name is contrived out of, obviously, Llandegla, and the name of the couple that runs this business, Michael and Deborah Faux.

Michael Ronald Faux of Warrington has a glittering business career, with five other companies listed by Companies House – all of them dissolved. Some without ever filing accounts, and mucho dinero owed to creditors by at least one of them.

Fauxdegla Shooting Ground Limited isn’t in the best of financial health itself either. The most recent accounts show tangible assets of just £60,954, and net assets of £1,099. With Barclays Bank holding a charge over everything.

This lack of (obvious) liquidity might explain the appearance of the caravans a few weeks ago. The word on the street is that they’re connected with the Fauxs. Before writing this I sent Fauxdegla an e-mail asking if the caravans were theirs, but I’ve had no reply.

Irrespective of the caravans, what right does anyone have to come into our country and change an ancient name inspired by a saint? What sort of people are we to put up with this colonialist arrogance?

Oh, silly me; I’m forgetting – it’s tourism!

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Jake Berry MP, Part 3

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

I thought the previous post would be the end of the matter but more information keeps accumulating. If you’re new to it all then maybe you should start by catching up with Jake Berry MP; ‘They seek him here, they seek him there’ and Jake Berry MP, Part 2.

Though due to pressure being applied from somewhere these posts are no longer accessible via Facebook, which has removed the links on grounds of ‘Privacy’. This could perhaps have been anticipated, for Facebook is a stickler for privacy.

Click to enlarge

And while the current pandemic makes it impossible for me to appeal it was no obstacle to dealing with Berry’s complaint. Though I console myself with the knowledge that my ‘feedback’ will be appreciated.

So that’s alright then.

VIRGINIA GETS CONFUSED

This saga kicked off with allegations that Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire, had sneaked himself and his family onto Ynys Môn and their holiday home Rhyd-y-Bont at Rhoscolyn. This farm had been bought towards the end of last year for £780,000, cash up front.

The Berry family had probably travelled from their London SW1 home, bought in 2017 for £2,150,000. Also paid with cash up front.

The story might have just died had it not been for the intervention of the island’s Tory MP Virginia Crosbie, a surprise victor in last December’s election. She defended Jake Berry with, “Mr and Mrs Berry have been living here in the island since February – it is their home.”

Virginia Crosbie is a none-too-bright beneficiary of the ‘Boris Bounce’ that was so influential in last December’s election. This enabled her to romp home . . . with just over a third of the vote. Much of that support would have come from people like Jake Berry who are taking over the island.

Click to enlarge

Plus some local farmers that she has now shafted by voting for the deal that will flood the UK with chlorinated chicken and other products. But maybe it won’t be so bad, perhaps Trump will have the meat injected with Dettol™. Yum, yum!

Jake Berry voted the same way.

One local contact suggests: “It will probably result in small, family livestock farms becoming far less competitive against US imports resulting in farmhouses in isolated, idyllic locations coming onto the market to become second homes and holiday businesses.  The land will still be farmed, except for say 5 acres around the house to ensure privacy.  What the agriculture bill will give is subsidies tied to environmental benefits, like the 5 acre wildflower meadow around the house

If you were an unscrupulous MP with aspirations for a property empire, how would you vote?”

“Unscrupulous MP”. Perish the thought!

Crosbie only just made it to that election, for I’m told that her nomination papers were delivered at the very last minute. And when you realise why, then you’ll understand that Crosbie’s insistence that Jake Berry and his family have been living at Rhoscolyn since February should be accompanied by pinch of Halen Môn. A big bloody pinch!

For as late as November 2019 Virginia Crosbie was still hoping to stand in the safe Tory seat of Mid Sussex, where Winston Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames was standing down. Though as Guido Fawkes told us, she was dishonestly claiming to ” . . . . have lived in West Sussex with my husband, our three children and our cocker spaniel Violet for over 10 years.”

It was dishonest because elsewhere she was claiming to have lived in Kensington for 20 years. She was certainly deputy chair of the local Tories. While hubby Ian works for big pharma in Belgium.

What she might have meant was that her family had a holiday home in Sussex, much like Jake Berry and his family have a holiday home on Ynys Môn.

And Crosbie only got the Ynys Môn booking because local Tories very late in the day grasped that Chris Davies, the Brecon and Radnor expenses fiddler, was a liability. So he was persuaded that his family needed to see more of him.

One senior Welsh Tory quoted by the BBC on the way things had been handled on Ynys Môn said, “The candidate selection has been seriously flawed and chaotic”.

Once ensconced Crosbie began to claim Welsh antecedents and connections. First, with a grandfather who been a coal miner in Merthyr. But more importantly for Ynys Môn, her father had worked at Wylfa nuclear power station.

She was hame amang her ain folk! (No, hang on, that’s Scotland. Cancel the pipe band and book a male voice choir.)

The local party can probably be excused for verisimillitudophobe Virginia Crosbie because she almost certainly floated down out of a clear blue sky from a plane with the markings ‘Conservative Central Office’.

What a party!

SERVING THE CONSTITUENCY

Crosbie’s intervention served only to confirm that Berry and his family share their time between London and Rhoscolyn with rare – well publicised – visits to his constituency where he claims to stay at Clough Cottage. This is a small property conveniently owned by local Tory big-wig Tony Cope.

It seems that for 2018-2019, Berry claimed £16,618.31 for using Clough Cottage as his constituency base. Though how often he actually stays there is another matter. Because there’s certainly not enough room for him, his wife, their children and the nanny.

Clough Cottage

A constituent of Berry’s sent me this photograph she’d taken of Clough Cottage. My source was keen to point out that Clough Cottage is ‘the bit at the end’, the rest is Clough House. (I like the dappled sunlight effect.)

Though you have to wonder why Jake Berry needed to enter this arrangement with Tony Cope, for until very recently he owned a property (with tŷ bach and cwtch glô) on Helmshore Road in Rossendale. A property he sold early last year.

Which means that he sold a property he owned – but for which he could only claim council tax and utilities (totalling £1,373.40 in 2016/17) – in order to pocket £150,000 and go into an expensive arrangement with Tony Cope.

BROWN ENVELOPES ARE SO PASSÉ

In the previous post I mentioned the companies linked to Jake Berry. I wrote, “Setting up companies to provide a cover for nefarious activities is something I report on regularly on this blog, but that can’t be the case here, surely? So why set up companies and just let them fold?”

I think I now understand what it’s about. I was initially directed – with a nod, a wink, and a tap of the nose – to PEPC Ltd, a company set up by Berry’s closest aides, Paul Lambert Fairhurst and Louise Emma Inglis. This was followed by a source in the constituency suggesting there was a similar reason for Ford Bridge Farm Ltd.

Ford Bridge is of course an anglicisation of Rhyd-y-Bont.

Let’s go back to the mysterious Rhoscolyn Ltd, founded 27 March 2008, when Jake Berry was just a likely lad who had probably been promised a constituency by the Conservative Party. There was a general election on 6 May 2010, and our boy was elected MP for Rossendale and Darwen. Then Rhoscolyn Ltd was allowed to die.

Licensing Objective Ltd was formed 28.08.2014, probably in anticipation of the May 2015 general election. PEPC Ltd was set up 27.08.2016 in preparation for the June 8, 2017 general election.

Click to enlarge

No such company was needed for last December’s election because with Corbyn ‘leading’ the Labour Party, and a Brexit-Boris surge anticipated in northern England, Jake Berry was confident of increasing his majority. Which he did.

Thinking ahead to the next general election perhaps accounts for Ford Bridge Farm Ltd.

Not only that, but two sources of funding were identified: “The notorious United and Cecil donated to Jake in 2019, before that he got it from an unincorporated members association called The Portcullis Club, based in a very leafy part of the Ribble Valley.”

I suppose you’re wondering who or what these groups are. Well you can find some references online but it’s obvious those involved don’t like publicity, nor is The Portcullis Club confined to Mayhill boy Nigel Evans’ Ribble Valley constituency.

I ran across one mention of Portcullis on the website of Pimlico Plumbers.

Click to funders

So a host of wealthy Tory backers from north west England descended on London for a bun fight. And I’m not talking local shopkeepers from Happy Families here; this is not Mr Bung the Brewer, more like, well . . . Mr Bung.

Though in fairness to Jake Berry, and I always strive to be fair – even to colonialist bastards who think my homeland is some nineteenth century ‘possession’ to be exploited – some of this funding is declared . . . but only some of it.

Most of it goes through the kind of channels I listed earlier. Though this example might suggest yet another model.

And who knows, perhaps United and Cecil and The Portcullis Club are not the only publicity-shy Tory funding groups that have slipped Jake Berry thousands of pounds over the past decade.

But what might these benefactors expect in return?

Of course I could be on the wrong track entirely; there might be perfectly innocent explanations for setting up companies ahead of a general election. Companies that apparently do nothing and are then written off when the election is over.

If so, then I look forward to reading these explanations.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

I made the point in the earlier posts that Jake Berry’s salary would appear to go a long, long way. But of course, the boy does seem to have other forms of income.

As this piece from Landlord Today of August 2019, reminded us in relaying a Daily Mirror report that cabinet ministers were claiming for accommodation in London while renting our property they owned elsewhere. Jake Berry among them.

Click to enlarge

Berry’s property assets explain why, in January 2016, he was one of 72 Tory MPs who voted against making private rented accommodation ‘fit for human habitation’.

But even so, a few ropey rents don’t supply the readies for a £2,15m house in London and a £780,000 farm on Ynys Môn. Though the house is in Berry’s wife’s name, and the Rhoscolyn property in both their names.

So does Alice Molly Radclyffe Berry have money? The answer seems to be, yes.

That’s because, I’m told, her father is Mark Noel Foster Robinson who, some of you may remember, was from 1983 to 1987 the MP for Newport West. And later, MP for Somerton and Frome between 1992 and 1997.

Mark Robinson. Click to enlarge

Somerton Park to Somerton? (Geddit?)

But more importantly for considerations of material wealth, Mark Robinson was “Born in Bristol to John Foster Robinson, CBE, TD, and Margaret, née Paterson, Robinson’s father was High Sheriff of Avon in 1975. John Robinson’s family ran ES&A Robinson, the paper and packaging conglomerate that later became Dickinson Robinson Group.”

The Dickinson Robinson Group made Sellotape and Basildon Bond among other well-known products. So if Mark Robinson is Mrs Berry’s father then there is almost certainly money from her father’s side of the family.

What I find strange is that Alice Berry has dropped the Robinson name, but instead of using her mother’s maiden name of Pilkington, she’s gone back a generation to take her maternal grandmother’s maiden name of Radclyffe.

Whatever the explanation for this, we can be sure that Alice Berry has money. (And that’s without making any assumptions regarding the Pilkington side of her family.) Enough money to enable an arriviste like Jake Berry to play the squire and build up a property portfolio.

It’s surely only a matter of time before he’s Master of the Holyhead Hunt. (Who meet regularly to set the dogs on Shinners getting off the ferry.)

OVER HERE

To kick-start his political career Jake Berry perhaps relied on the Bank of Mum and Dad. Then it was his MP’s salary (and expenses) – with his re-election helped by wealthy donors operating in the shadows – which allowed him to build a modest property portfolio. More recently, the boy appears to have struck gold with the second Mrs Berry.

Just think, this man was in the UK cabinet until very recently, and he still has considerable influence with his mate BoJo, who was his wife’s employer, and is godfather to their elder son.

You know me, I’m not a socialist; I want to see enterprise succeed and initiative rewarded. But that’s not what we’ve been looking at here.

For we’re discussing the modern Conservative Party. A party made up of chancers, each one looking out for number one. A party devoid of a coherent political ideology, let alone an underpinning philosophy. A party that is in no way Tory.

Your next Conservative and Unionist Party candidate? (Or am I being unkind to spivs?)

This is bad enough when it happens over there. But when these people are here, buying up property like Wales is one big fire sale, then something needs to be done.

But what can we expect from those buffoons down Corruption Bay. Those house Taffs, who refuse to even close the loophole that allows holiday homes to be registered as businesses.

Has Berry registered his properties as businesses, I wonder, and is he now claiming his coronovirus compensation?

Perhaps what really pisses me off is that in the Punch and Judy show of UK politics the ineptitude of the Conservatives up in London will help keep the even more useless Labour Party in power at next year’s Welsh Parliament elections.

The two-party system is like a see-saw with an arsehole at each end. When one’s up the other is down.

But all the old parties have failed Wales. Which is why we need radical change, and why we must support Gwlad and the Welsh National Party.

♦ end ♦

P.S. While idly Googling ‘Rhoscolyn’ up popped the grandly named Rhoscolyn Estate Enterprises Ltd. The ‘estate’ consists of a rather run-down, but still quite impressive property by the name of Bryn Goleu.

I’m telling you this because of course Rhoscolyn is the area where the Berry family is building its property empire, and Bryn Goleu was on the market recently. But no longer, which means it’s either been withdrawn or it’s been sold.

The Land Registry website suggests that documentation is being processed. I wonder . . .

 




Jake Berry MP: ‘They seek him here, they seek him there . . . ‘

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

The past couple of days have not been good for James Jacob Gilchrist Berry, Tory MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire, and better known as Jake. Not good at all.

His problems began when rumours started spreading that he and his family had rocked up at their very expensive holiday home at Rhoscolyn on Ynys Môn. Social media was soon a-buzz with the story.

Prompting his colleague, the new Tory MP for the island, Virginia Crosbie, to step in and defend her boy.

There was nothing to see here, she insisted, because Jake Berry lived in Rhoscolyn. “A few people have been in touch with me regarding the MP Jake Berry living here in the island. Mr and Mrs Berry have been living here in the island since February – it is their home”.

So that’s OK then.

It means that the MP for a Lancashire constituency lives 130 miles away near Holyhead. I wonder how the electors of Rossendale and Darwen would have voted if they’d known that fact before they re-elected him last December.

Perhaps what Ms Crosbie meant to say was explained when a spokesperson on behalf of Mr Berry said: “During a visit to Wales, a family member of Mr Berry started showing signs of Coronavirus. This visit was prior to the Government decision to lockdown.”

So putting together the contributions from Ms Crosbie and the spokesperson, perhaps we should conclude that the Berry family was on Ynys Môn in February when Mrs Berry was taken ill, perhaps one of the children was also unwell, so they all stayed put.

So why did no one notice them until a couple of days ago?

Lockdown was announced on 23 March. But on 29 March the Lancashire Telegraph reported that Berry had been to inspect local landmark Darwen Tower. Though on his Facebook page Berry was keen to point out that the visit was made on the 13th, prior to lockdown.

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Two points are worth making. First, we are expected to believe that the Lancashire Telegraph sat on this story for two weeks and then published it as ‘News’. Second, Berry is reported to have had his dog with him. So if Virginia Crosbie is correct, and Berry was living at Rhoscolyn, he took the poor mutt on a 260 mile round trip.

But a few days later, on 3 April, Berry himself put out what you see below. So either he was in his constituency, as the message ‘Lovely to see this up in #Darwen’ suggests, or else it was posted from Rhoscolyn, making it a deliberate attempt to deceive his constituents into believing that he was there among them.

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But if, as his defenders insist, he has been living at Rhoscolyn since February, then he could only have reached Darwen by breaking the lockdown rules.

The consistent line in all the reports I’ve read says that he was visiting relatives when a member of his family fell ill. This makes a certain sense because Berry’s wife gave birth on or just before 11 February. It would have been natural to have taken the new arrival to be seen by Berry’s parents, who do live at Rhoscolyn.

And then they went home.

In fact, Jake himself is quite the property tycoon; for he either owns outright or has a share in four properties around Rhoscolyn. As his Declaration of Interests makes clear.

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One of the shared properties is the one his parents live in.

UPDATE: I did not identify this property when writing the article because my information was that  his parents lived there permanently. But now I’m told that Cerrig is used by Berry’s parents as a holiday home

So if it’s true that Jake Berry, his wife and children, travelled to Rhoscolyn in February to meet with family, then it suggests that his parents were already there staying at their holiday home.

The latest addition to the portfolio, and the property in which the Berry family may, or may not, live, is Rhyd-y-Bont farm, for which Jake paid £780,000, cash down, last November. It even has its own coastline.

Another property he owns is Plas Coch. If I’m reading the title document and the women in his life correctly, then he owns this property jointly with his mother and his ex-wife. Which must be a bundle of laughs. But again, this property was also paid for in readies, £249,000 in May 2017.

As I’ve said, Jake Berry is a non-practising solicitor, and as far as I can see there are no directorships or other sources of income. So either there’s family money or else he makes his MP’s salary go a long, long way.

Having mentioned Plas Coch, my man in the bushes tells me that no lights have been seen there in the evening. Though there is a car parked, a silver Volvo XC70. Funny thing is that the MOT on this vehicle expired in January 2019. And the tax ran out in March last year.

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So if it’s parked up then it needs a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), but I’m told it doesn’t have one.

Though Jake’s brother is reported to have lived at Plas Coch for a while. Is the car his?

And can anyone identify the fourth property Jake Berry owns on Ynys Môn?

The evidence suggests that the Berry family visited in February with the baby, went back to Lancashire, and turned up again a few days ago after Boris Johnson’s garbled message about staying alert.

I cannot believe that the Berry family is living permanently at Rhyd-y-Bont. It would be too risky. Some local shit-stirrer back in Lancashire would almost certainly find out and our boy would be in trouble.

Though if they are living at Rhyd-y-Bont then, when things get back to normal Jake Berry will be catching the Holyhead to London train on a Monday and making the return trip on Thursday evening or Friday. So when will he find time for his constituency? Or if he spends weekends in his constituency, when will he see his missus and the sprogs?

Alternatively, if it is a holiday home, £780,000 is a hell of a lot to pay. Insulting to the local Welsh people being priced out of the market by people like the Berry clan.

Finally. I’ve just remembered that there is no London property shown in his Declaration of Interests, so where does he live when Parliament is sitting?

The bigger issue here of course is holiday homes. Holiday homes in Wales owned by people who have no connection with our country other than the exploitative and parasitic relationship provided by the property they own.

In this pandemic, the issue has come to the fore in ways I would not have believed possible. There is palpable anger directed at holiday homes and those who own them.

Only yesterday we read that police had to ask a Liverpool family to leave their holiday home in Llandegfan, on the other side of Ynys Môn, for their own safety. This report in NorthWalesLive gives the impression of a crowd of yokels brandishing pitchforks.

Image Ian Cooper, NorthWalesLive. Click to enlarge

Feelings are running high everywhere. But what else can be expected?

Nothing really, because tourism encourages contempt for us and our identity. Wales doesn’t really belong to us, it’s theirs to take and do with as they wish. So come to Wales . . . swamp our communities, ridicule our language, change our ancient place names, and pay £780,000 for a holiday home.

Tourism and the colonisation that always follows has given us areas of our country where we Welsh are in a minority. A constantly diminishing minority. Every year more and more communities cease to be Welsh because of tourism.

From the Wikipedia entry for Aberdyfi. Click to enlarge

There has never been a better time for politicians to get to grips with the problem of holiday homes, but they are too cowardly to grasp the opportunity. Those weaklings in Corruption Bay refuse to give police the authority to make people leave holiday homes and won’t even increase the fine for disobeying lockdown.

In Wales it stays at £60 but in England – where restrictions have been eased! – fines start at £100.

Holiday homes are inseparable from tourism. A tourism industry that is overwhelmingly foreign owned and of little or no benefit to us Welsh. The few benefits more than outweighed by the damage caused.

We have learnt a great lesson during this pandemic – the power of community resistance. When it’s over we must continue refusing to accept holiday homes and saturation tourism.

♦ end ♦




Coronavirus and Wales

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Yes, I know I’d promised to write on a couple of other subjects, but this coronavirus pandemic has turned things upside down. It’s certainly impacting on the Jones household.

To begin with, my daily trips to Tywyn for a coffee and a read of the ‘paper are gone. This was often followed by sauntering up and down the High Street, doing a bit of shopping, maybe driving down to Aberdyfi to mooch around some more. But not now.

I’m stuck at home with my long-suffering wife. Fortunately, being a home carer, she’s out quite a lot. Another aid to me keeping cabin fever at bay is to stock up on the Malbec. I’ve found that caressing unopened bottles can have a soothing effect.

Self-isolation has also meant no grandchildren staying, which only adds to the sense of this being a different time. And it’s also quieter outside the house, fewer people about, less traffic. If it wasn’t for the internet it might be like an earlier epoch.

Though perhaps what I miss most is the football. I used to spend at least 25 hours a week watching football. Not just Welsh and English football; I’m just as happy watching La Vecchia Signora or the Jam Tarts. But coronavirus is global, which means there’s no football anywhere. Anywhere! (Yeah, I know, that’s what ‘pandemic’ means.)

So when I’m not online, or out taking my constitutional, listening to music, or up in the attic doing my Fast Eddie impersonations on the kids’ pool table, I’m dipping into my books. Hazlitt has always been a favourite. But when I reached for that little volume of essays the other day I found a page marked with the dust cover, so I opened it . . .

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Fortunately I don’t believe in such things. So for all the shysters out there, and the lying politicians – I plan on being around to write about you for some time yet.

THE STORY THUS FAR

The realisation that things were getting serious took a while to sink in, for just about everybody, with the Welsh Rugby Union taking longer than most to get the message.

The Six Nations game against Scotland, scheduled for March 14, was going ahead almost up until the last minute. This despite the other games in Round 5 – Italy v England and France v Ireland – having been called off, and with football and almost every other sport also put on hold around the world.

It wasn’t until the afternoon of Friday the 13th, with Scottish fans safely in Cardiff and spending their money, that the WRU decided to call the game off.

To understand this disregard for the nation’s health you must appreciate what motivates the Welsh Rugby Union, what it regards as important. Vying for top spot are sucking up to English royals, and making money. Everything else is secondary.

In defence of the WRU, no pressure was applied by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. As late as Thursday the 12th, Vaughan Gething, the woefully inadequate health minister, saw no need to call the game off. Though in fairness to Gething, this non-decision could itself have been due to pressure from the WRU.

(Things can often be ‘reciprocal’ in Cardiff.)

Gething last week warned that Wales can expect a “larger impact” from coronavirus because Wales’ population is “typically older, sicker and poorer”. After two decades of his party running things in Wales he felt no shame in such an admission!

Something that did go ahead in Cardiff that Saturday was a Stereophonics concert.

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All grist to the mill of cynics believing that too many ‘national’ bodies based in Cardiff bend over backwards to make sure Cardiff never loses out, even when we are threatened by the worst pandemic since ‘Spanish’ Flu a century ago.

In terms of leadership, things have not got any better.

The ‘Welsh Government’ gives its daily briefing and issues advice, which is usually repeating what has already been said in London. Much like the laws passed in Cardiff docks, which are basically the same laws as England with ‘(Wales)’ added.

Exposing a fundamental problem with devolution when it’s run by a timid and unambitious Unionist party stuffed with mediocrities.

Labour has never resolved the conundrum of wanting to make Welsh people feel devolution is relevant to them but not wanting to depart too far from the London line for fear of being branded ‘nationalist’, even when doing things differently would be best for Wales. And so we have a sham devolution that neither enthuses our people nor serves Welsh interests.

All of which makes a mockery of “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”, which is how devolution was sold to us many years ago.

Yet there are times when ‘Welsh solutions’ are needed. Let’s cast our minds back to last weekend, just after ‘lockdown’ was announced, when workplaces and schools were closed, and people told to stay home. Yet we saw thousands upon thousands of people treat a national emergency as a national holiday and flock to Wales.

While I didn’t expect the ‘Welsh Government’ to close the border and lay minefields, I did think they could have been a little more decisive than they had been the previous weekend over the rugby international, but no; not even when the scale of the irruption had become obvious.

Below you’ll see a few examples of the ignorance and stupidity we were confronted with, and just a few of many instances of locals acting for themselves. (Some still had to do it yesterday.)

UPDATE: Here’s the response of a second home owner in Y Felinheli today. The slate sign reads ‘Port Dinorwic’, as that road runs down to the old harbour.

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These colonialist attitudes are the result of ‘selling’ our homeland for decades as nothing but another nation’s holiday destination. Encouraging the belief that Wales is some kind of Brigadoon that only comes alive when tourists visit.

This belief that Wales exists for no other reason than the enjoyment of tourists results in contempt for us, our history and our very identity.  

Out of curiosity, I went to the Visit Wales Twitter account, and what I found was revealing. Up until March 12, two days before the planned Wales v Scotland game and the Stereophonics concert, there is at least one ‘Come to Wales’ tweet per day.

There is then a gap of ten days in which Visit Wales did no more than retweet other organisations’ tweets about coronavirus and, significantly, compensation. Like a rabbit caught in the headlights Visit Wales didn’t seem to know how to react. March 22 was of course the Sunday, and by then it had become obvious even to Visit Wales that locals in tourism hot-spots were organising themselves against irresponsible tourism operators and individuals.

Only then did Visit Wales put out a tweet telling potential visitors to stay away. And this might have been motivated as much by worries about the damage being done to the reputation of the tourism industry as by concern for public health.

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If I carry on like this I’ll be accused of ‘politicising’ coronavirus. This was the accusation thrown at Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon when she recognised the threat and acted on coronavirus earlier than Westminster.

I accept that coronavirus knows no national boundaries, while on an island there must be some unity of purpose in the face of such a threat, but Wales still faces problems that will not be appreciated by those giving orders in London.

As we’ve seen, one such problem was holiday homes and tourism, and many thousands of people choosing to self-isolate in Wales. Which exposed another serious failing down in Cardiff.

The ‘Welsh Government’ (and this of course includes Visit Wales) refused to address this problem for far too long because politicians and civil servants in Cardiff have come to believe their own propaganda – Wales cannot survive without tourism, consequently nothing must be allowed to interfere with tourism. Not even a pandemic.

Political leadership has been noticeable by its absence. From London the advice has swung from “Nothing to get alarmed about – let’s all catch it!” (the ‘herd immunity’ approach), to “We’re all gonna die! – everybody stay home!” (lockdown).

While here in Wales, when not acting as an echo chamber, our politicians have been even less inspiring. Just read the article below from yesterday’s Llais y Sais. (Available here in pdf format.)

Did you ever read such waffle from a politician? Was Wales ever cursed with a more evasive and dishonest practitioner of even this disgraced profession? Did you ever see anyone more out of their depth?

Yet here’s the man leading the party and the administration that over the past twenty years has given billions of pounds to the crony-parasites of the third sector, where we find CEOs pulling down £100,000+ salaries – while our nurses don’t have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

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(My wife, who every day visits sick and elderly people received her face mask on Friday.)

Political confusion reigns.

At London level we saw BoJo and the gang spurn the EU’s offer of ventilators; while in Cardiff, the ‘Welsh Government’ turned down an offer of 10,000, EU certified, Lloyds insured, testing kits of the kind used in South Korea.

This despite the World Health Organisation advising ‘testing, testing, and more testing’ as a way to avoid the spread of Covid-19. The only people being tested in Wales are those showing moderate to severe symptoms who might already have infected hundreds of others. Plus of course, politicians and their friends.

Carefully orchestrated communal clapping must not detract from these political failings. And when the coronavirus threat has passed we must remember how our politicians and their system failed us.

In the immediate future we must be on our guard against London using coronavirus to accrete more powers. For while devolution may not be worth defending, moving back to the status quo ante devolution must not be an option either, though it is being aired.

One airing came from a Welsh Labour MP during Scottish Questions last week, when Chris Elmore, the MP for Ogmore suggested that funding for Covid-19 should bypass the Scottish Government and go to local authorities. An interesting suggestion for a number of reasons.

The SNP of course forms the Scottish Government, but at council level we find a number of Unionist-run councils, often controlled by squalid coalitions held together by nothing more than a desire to keep the SNP out of power.

Such an arrangement as we find in the city of Aberdeen where, after the 2017 elections, the SNP was the largest party by some distance but is kept from power by an alliance of Conservatives, Labour and Independents. (Though the Labour councillors have been expelled from the ‘Scottish’ Labour Party for going into coalition with the Tories!)

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And while Elwood (or was he one of the Blues Brothers?) may be a nonentity in Wales, representing a rosette-on-a-donkey constituency, he certainly made the news in Scotland. And as the report I’ve linked to from the National puts it, “It was left to Alister Jack, the Tory Secretary of State for Scotland, to remind the Labour frontbencher of how devolution works.”

A Tory MP having to remind an MP of the party that introduced devolution how devolution works. Lord and Lady Kinnock must have been so proud.

Though if wanting to rip up the devolution settlement and insincerely argue that the common weal would be better served by handing money directly to local councils sounds familiar, then that might be because it’s the same thing we hear from the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. Is Elton a supporter?

If we are to do away with devolution, and that is certainly what I want, then it must be done in order to move forward to independence, not backward to direct rule.

Westminster is letting us down, Cardiff Bay is clueless, the BBC is failing us, Wales is even losing out when it comes to online shopping for God’s sake!

Covid-19 is disrupting all our lives, and will end a few of them; but it has served the purpose of exposing as weak and malleable incompetents those buffoons down Cardiff docks who’ve lied to us for over twenty years about defending Wales.

Stand firm, stay healthy, and when this threat has passed, emerge from self-isolation determined to push on for independence!

♦ end ♦

With Covid-19 dominating the News, and politics in a state of suspended animation, the pandemic even affecting the crooks I so often write about, I may not be posting so frequently over the next few months unless something important happens.

Look after yourselves!