I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
There is no posting this week, but I intend bringing out the first of three pre-election posts next Monday, April 19.
Although I shall concentrate on the national picture, this can still be leavened by interesting and amusing local stories. So if you have one, send it to, email@example.com.
I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
For this, another of my infrequent, pre-retirement postings, I’ll explain why I would vote to abolish the Senedd in a referendum offering the straight choice of to keep or to abolish.
I wanted independence to improve the lives of the people I cared about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I wanted independence to protect my country from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what made us Welsh.
Devolution is obviously not independence but still, judged against those criteria devolution has been an abysmal failure. For the only beneficiaries have been cliques, claques, and the assorted parasites of a vast and burdensome stratum smothering the nation.
LET ME GIVE SOME EXAMPLES
While the greater part of Wales, and the nation, has seen no benefits, this constitutional tinkering must have brought some benefits, to someone, somewhere, otherwise it would be universally damned and consequently unsustainable.
So let’s try and identify some beneficiaries. I’ll use examples of us losing out and others benefitting at our expense. (You’ll soon get the hang of it.)
The ‘stratum’ I referred to earlier is the third sector. Bigger than ever in Wales, and bigger in Wales than in any other country.
Wales is a rich country made poor by English rule, and the Labour Party has capitalised on our deprivation both for electoral gain – by blaming ‘London’ / Tories – and also by using that deprivation to create a whole new ‘poverty sector’ for its cronies.
Wales is now smothering under the weight of duplicating and competing third sector gangs, most of which seem to be staffed by strident memsahibs from over the border. Cohort after cohort of Common Purpose’ finest, goose-stepping from conference to workshop to those regular meetings in which they dictate policy and funding priorities to politicians.
This third sector is fundamentally and irredeemably parasitical. Preying on Wales’ deprivation in order to suck money from the public purse. A vast network of self-polishing turds who would not be missed if they ceased doing tomorrow whatever they claim to be doing today.
Both Labour and the third sector exploit and capitalise on Wales’ poverty and deprivation. If the money wasted on the third sector was spent in combatting that poverty and deprivation then Wales would be a much better place.
Perhaps to make us feel guilty for wanting decent jobs, decent homes, an acceptable road and rail system, etc., our gaze is directed away from such crass materialism to the altruistic, the selfless, in the form of saving the planet.
This crusade – for it is nothing less! – is done without providing jobs or any other material benefits to us Welsh. This national insult takes many forms.
Here’s a recent re-working of the theme.
Is this supposed to be a consolation prize for the Circuit of Wales? Or for more false hopes raised over the TVR car plant? (Which is not coming, by the way.)
Blaenau Gwent is the poorest part of the country. What it needs is decent jobs, housing, NHS dentists, etc., not bullshit publicity stunts from Corruption Bay.
We are told that “50 residents will be selected to create the first Climate Assembly in Wales”. I hope Gwent Police have the riot gear ready for the trouble that will surely erupt in Ebbw Vale and Tredegar as people fight over those 50 places.
Here’s the latest in the ‘Save the planet’ offensive: “I think if political parties are not putting addressing the climate and nature emergencies right at the top of their manifesto agenda then they will be letting down both the current and future generations in Wales,” says Sophie Howe, Labour apparatchik being paid £100,000 a year in a non-job created specially for her.
The message from our leaders is: ‘Wales may be the poorest country in Europe and getting poorer, but fuck that, cos we – on £100,000 a year – are saving the planet’.
I want to see a healthier nation living in a greener land making its contribution to a cleaner planet. But Wales has more immediate priorities. And it’s positively insulting for overpaid Labour Party nobodies to lecture those worrying about feeding their kids and paying their rent.
Yet more arrogant – almost racist – envirocolonialism. It seems Kiwi Anderson has been won over to Welsh independence. A reminder that the reason Greens and others are jumping on the indy bandwagon is because they want our land.
Wales has the oldest population in Europe and it’s getting older. An unwanted accolade achieved by a number of factors combining. The lack of a decent economy being one. The other is the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ going out of its way to attract elderly people to Wales.
This is done because, due to the lack of a balanced economy in rural areas and the regular exodus of young people that results, population levels need to be maintained; for nothing says ‘area going to hell’ more clearly than a falling population. How better to maintain population levels than by attracting retirees? (Actually, I can think of many better alternatives, but bear with me.)
No only does the ‘Welsh Government’ see no problem with our ageing population, it even tries to present it as something to be celebrated, as I discovered a few years ago in a reply to a Freedom of Information request.
An influx encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’ legislating so that people entering care homes can keep £50,000 before they start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500.
Yet the ‘Welsh Government’ would like to go further, doing away with care home charges altogether by introducing a tax so that we actually pay for wealthy English biddies who’ve been dumped in Welsh care homes by relatives safeguarding their inheritances.
How difficult would it be to introduce a rule insisting that a person must have lived in Wales for 20 years prior to entering a care home before they can benefit from the £50,000 allowance?
Do that and Welsh people won’t lose out and we curb the plague of granny dumping.
I recall, back in the 1980s, during the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign, politicians getting up on their hind legs to proclaim that they would not be influenced by ‘terrorists’. God! they sounded so brave and principled. It brought a tear to my eye.
Thirty years on from the end of that campaign, and after 22 years of devolution, nothing has been done beyond the ‘Welsh Government’ allowing councils to impose a 100% surcharge on holiday home council tax. But it has refused to close the loophole that sees holiday homes classed as businesses to escape council tax entirely.
Oh, I almost forgot, there is also a tiny and insignificant increase in Land Transaction Tax of one per cent per valuation band, introduced 22 December. Which is no deterrent at all to those who can buy a second, third, or fourth home.
In fact, the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to do anything that might save Welsh communities and allow Welsh people to buy a home in areas cursed with tourism. When pressed on the matter just yesterday by the impressive Delyth Jewell the woeful Julie James could only respond with a promise to . . . kick the issue into the long grass.
With the holiday homes problem at crisis levels due to Coronavirus, with Welsh communities being destroyed before our eyes, the fact that those useless bastards down Corruption Bay refuse to act should tell you all you need to know about devolution.
But you have to wonder who made the initial decision not to fund.
THE WAR ON FARMERS
Part of the problem lies in the fact that devolution is controlled by civil servants who may be based in Wales but take their orders from London. Civil servants such as Gary Haggaty, beau to Lesley Griffiths, the Labour MS for Wrecsam, and Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.
“Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Gruffydd says the minister is on the record as saying that these Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations would not be introduced while the pandemic was in existence – no less than ten times.”
And many of these spillages have nothing to do with farmers. I am reliably informed that the testing done by Natural Resources Wales (yes, them!) cannot differentiate between farm slurry and raw sewerage from other sources.
This is just the latest assault in a war on Welsh farmers by the ‘Welsh Government’. Done because ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers, and also because there are others queuing up to take over Welsh land. Friends of Jane Davidson, ‘rewilders’, Tory MPs.
Significantly, in England, the NVZ legislation targets problem areas and culprits rather than penalising all farmers.
So, we see that under devolution Welsh farming is another area of our national life being targeted and damaged. And it could not have happened without devolution. Because if London had singled out Welsh farmers for such treatment there would have been rioting, and possibly worse.
I could give plenty more examples where devolution has failed us. Here are just a few snapshots:
There’s colonisation, resulting in the Welsh element in the population decreasing year on year. As a prominent citizen of a border town told me a few weeks back: “Some of the attitudes retired people come here have towards the locals are shocking, their sense of superiority is unbelievable.”
Then there’s a crass and exploitative form of tourism that is destroying Welsh communities, especially Welsh-speaking communities.
No other country on Earth has allowed One Planet Developments. Yet here in Wales hippies and enviroshysters are encouraged to take over land, flout planning and other regulations, bring up children in unsanitary and dangerous conditions, and then this colonisation is justified as part of OUR contribution to saving the planet.
Under devolution we have seen Cardiff grow and prosper, largely at the expense of the rest of Wales.
Wales produces twice as much electricity as we need and the rest goes to England free of charge, the same applies to our water resources, stolen by Severn Trent.
The ‘Welsh Government’ pays some of our brightest young people to go to English universities and then makes no attempt to bring them home after graduation. While filling our universities with mediocrities from over the border who stay on to fill third sector and public sector jobs.
Publicly-funded housing associations build ‘affordable’ homes that most locals can’t afford while neglecting the social rented sector for which there’s a local demand.
Let’s not forget the shysters – so many of whom have appeared on this blog – who get showered with funding after turning up with their ‘exciting’, ‘job-creating’ projects meticulously outlined on the back of a fag packet.
Then there’s the cess-pit that is Cardiff Bay, where those we elect to represent us rub shoulders daily with unregistered lobbyists and others trying to influence them – and almost always against the best interests of the nation.
FINALLY, A VERY TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY EXAMPLE
This pretence of devolved power is a very thin veil behind which England’s interests are served. A great example was supplied to me last week by someone involved in matters technological which went a bit over my head, but I’m sure you’ll get the gist of it.
This source wrote:
” . . . dotCYM had no hope when Plaid Cymru was useless, Labour and the civil servants were working against it, and then Nominet came in with their money and used it to destroy them. The money from .cymru and .wales domains are now going to Oxford instead of Wales.”
The source continued:
“The Welsh government is clever in creating schemes to develop Welsh language technology and software. They come out with a new scheme with millions to develop Welsh software but there’s a maximum of about 30k per project, which isn’t enough to get anywhere or develop anything of use. Also, the money they give for research into Welsh language technology comes with the proviso that the research is then open sourced. What happens then is that large companies from outside Wales can take it, add it to their software as token Welsh support that doesn’t work well, and then sell it back to the Welsh”.
My source then explained to me what’s happening in New Zealand, where those working on a similar project for the Maori language successfully fought against their work becoming open source. The Maoris defended their stance thus:
“By simply open sourcing our data and knowledge, we further allow ourselves to be colonised digitally in the modern world.”
THE TRUTH DAWNS
More and more people grasp that devolution is an unworkable nonsense, even if they don’t understand why. This explains the growing polarisation between those wanting to do away with the Senedd and those wanting independence.
When all devolution’s defenders can muster is, ‘But it’s recognition’, or ‘free bus passes’, then you know that even they have given up.
Successive ‘Welsh’ Assembly Governments and ‘Welsh Governments’ have not only failed to remedy the problems inherited in 1999 they have introduced new measures to work against the national interest.
This is not what I voted for in the September 1997 referendum. It’s no exaggeration to say that what we’ve experienced over the past 22 years is a form of anti-Welsh devolution.
Consequently, in a referendum offering the simple choice between keeping the Senedd or abolishing it I would vote to abolish, because abolition would be the best option for the greatest number of Welsh people.
I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL PROBABLY NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
On Monday I attended the funeral of the great patriot John Barnard Jenkins at Pentrebychan Crematorium, Rhostyllen, Wrecsam.
For obvious reasons, there weren’t many people there, just the family and a few loyal admirers. Including me. In fact, I think I was the only one there from the 1960s generation. God! I’m getting old.
I managed to take a couple of short videos on my mobile phone. I put these out on Twitter and it seems only right that they should also appear on the blog. So here they are.
The first shows the Cambria Band leading the hearse. John of course was a great influence on the band, helping Adam Phillips get it started.
Here’s the second video, which shows the coffin being taken from the hearse into the crematorium.
Although the family had asked for no wreaths I couldn’t help noticing as I left the crematorium a small wreath propped against a wall.
The card, carrying the standard of Owain ap Gruffydd Fychan, ‘Glyndŵr’, reads:
The next post will appear early in 2021. I shall sneak it up on you while you’re still suffering with your festive hangovers!
It will be a piece in which I look forward to the Senedd elections in May; but I attempt to link them with the housing and colonisation crisis in our countryside, a problem that increasingly affects our more attractive post-industrial areas.
Because I don’t see much point in independence for a Wales from which the native population has, effectively, been ethnically cleansed, while the more strident elements of this independence movement – alert to injustice everywhere! – remains silent.
There will be no posting this week, but I may get something out before Christmas. This links with my decision to start winding the blog down in the new year, for two main reasons.
To begin with, I’m not getting any younger. And yet, despite that, I find myself taking on fresh responsibilities. Things I want to do before the Grim Reaper comes a-calling. So it has become a question of priorities.
But also, having spent some ten years writing this blog and its predecessor I feel there’s a limit to how much can be said of a spectrum that runs from lying politicians and their grant-grabber cronies through to more honest crooks.
My plan is to keep the blog going, with a reduced output, until the Senedd elections in May. When I hope to see signs of our people rejecting the Corruption Bay consensus that’s destroying Wales.
For while I still entertain hope of events external to Wales having influence it would be encouraging to see from within a desire for the radical change this country needs. Something of substance and lasting impact.
But if Welsh people continue voting for Labour and Plaid Cymru, parties with absurd priorities divorced from Wales’ true needs, then Wales will soon be finished as anything other than a tourist destination.
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 next elections for the Welsh Parliament are just over six months away; so this week I’m taking a break from crooks, money-launderers, con men, enviroshysters, third sector leeches to focus on politicians.
Reading that, the cynics among you will say, “So no great change there, then, Jac!”.
How dare you be so disrespectful of our tribunes! Go stand in the corner!
THE 2016 RESULT
Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the overall result from the previous election in 2016.
The first thing you might notice is that despite these elections being organised under a system of proportional representation the result, certainly for Labour, the biggest party, gives an outcome not a lot different to first past the post.
You’ll also see that the main challengers get seats roughly in line with their share of the vote, with the smaller parties generally losing out. It’s a system designed to protect the Labour-dominated status quo in Wales, while also stifling ‘insurgent’ parties.
This system has worked to perfection in Wales because the Conservatives are unlikely to ever gain a majority of seats. And when Labour fails to get a majority then Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats will always be there to help.
After the 2016 election Labour went into coalition with the sole Liberal Democrat AM. Which meant that parties with a total of 38% of the vote were able to form an administration.
Is this really how PR is supposed to work?
THE LABOUR PARTY
At the risk of sounding uncharitable, the great thing the Labour Party has had going for it is . . . not being the Conservative Party. The advertising campaigns, the policy drafting, the tub-thumping and the sloganising could all have been ignored in favour of the simple message – ‘Vote for us, cos we’re not the Tories’.
And it’s worked, for almost a century.
In England, the decline of traditional industries, and their associated trade unions, have weakened the Labour Party. Labour in Scotland suffered the same problem, exacerbated by the rise of the Scottish National Party to the point where Labour is hanging on for dear life, with just one Westminster MP left.
In Wales, Labour has fared better because we’ve been spared the corrupting influence of prosperity, and also because there is no equivalent of the SNP. Of course, Plaid Cymru likes to view itself as the Welsh SNP but the SNP set out to destroy the Labour Party in Scotland whereas Plaid Cymru seeks to keep its Welsh branch alive and in power.
How Labour will do next May depends to a considerable extent on perceptions of the Conservative government in London. For while Scotland has a vigorous national media allowing elections to be influenced by Scottish issues, the absence of a Welsh media worthy of the name means that here we tend see Englandandwales elections.
The exception being perhaps areas with high numbers of Welsh speakers who are less reliant on news from London.
On issues of the day, there is a general and widespread belief that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than Johnson, Hancock, Jenrick and the rest of the gang up in London.
But then, being seen as less incompetent than that crew is no great achievement.
When we address purely Welsh issues, it’s difficult to think of anything Labour has to crow about. For Wales continues to fall behind other countries in areas like wealth, health, housing and education.
Cardiff seems to be prospering but away from the Lesser Wen the country can be divided into post-industrial areas experiencing managed decline and rural areas undergoing engineered population change from Welsh to English.
Labour leader, Mark Drakeford, is less oleaginous than his predecessor, Carwyn Jones, but still a difficult man to like. Despite the Brownie points gained for Covid-19 there remain plenty of bear traps for him to negotiate between here and next May.
By any criteria one cares to apply, Labour has been a failure since 2016. Labour has failed Wales since the dawn of devolution in 1999. But for the reasons I’ve given, Labour will still emerge as the largest single party, with around 30% of the vote.
But well short of a majority of seats.
If nothing else, such a result should increase calls for more Senedd Members and a system of true proportional representation.
THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY (CUP)
The last few years have been a series of peaks and troughs for the CUP, with Brexit almost tearing the party apart under Theresa May. Things took a turn for the better when Boris Johnson became party leader and won a famous victory in December . . . since when it’s been downhill again.
In last December’s election the Tories won a number of seats in the north, most notably, Wrexham, held by Labour since 1931. But the overall vote in Wales only increased by 2.5%. The real story was that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party saw its Welsh vote go down by 8%.
Things have not gone well for the CUP since that December election for all sorts of reasons. Such as a number of the new intake being pretty odious specimens.
The new MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosby, has appeared on this blog a number of times, usually defending her colleague and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry. Berry owns properties around Rhoscolyn and earlier this year people were asking if he was breaking lockdown restrictions to travel between his Welsh properties, his London home, and his constituency.
The situation does not look like improving for the Tories, for two main reasons.
Let’s look first at Covid-19. As I said in the previous section, the Conservative government in London has had a disastrous pandemic: incompetence, lies, contracts to cronies, it’s all there, and this will be remembered next May.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Tories seem determined to alienate even more people by insisting that the ‘Welsh Government’ is being anti-English when – for perhaps the first time ever – it prioritises the interests of Wales.
I believe it’s the latter, because in spouting this nonsense, the Tories are playing to a particular gallery. I’m thinking now of the anti-Welsh, gammony element that might otherwise be seduced by the growing number of splinter group parties on the BritNat fringe. (I’ll come to them later.)
The other problem of their own making is, again, Brexit. Of course Wales voted for Brexit, but I’m sure very few of us voted for privatising the NHS, chlorinated chicken, and undermining the Welsh farming industry. I certainly didn’t.
But it’s now become clear that a No Deal Brexit was always the favoured option for the CUP leadership in London. Which will mean the City of London remains at the centre of the biggest money-laundering network in the world; the NHS is opened up to US Big Pharma; and we have to get used to food products from the USA, where standards in both hygiene and animal welfare are more ‘relaxed’.
All the Welsh CUP MPs voted for this deal. Which is not clever for people representing constituencies with large numbers of farmers . . . and their extended families . . . and contractors to the industry, and so many others who rely to a greater or lesser degree on agriculture for their livelihoods.
There will be a price to pay next May for the coronavirus cock-ups and the shafting of our farmers. And while the Tories in Corruption Bay weren’t responsible, it’ll be some of them who’ll pay the price.
Other factors working against the Conservatives will be the Englandandwales media/election paradigm and the Vera Lynn Fan Clubs competing for regional votes.
For all these reasons I expect the CUP representation in the Welsh Parliament to fall.
PLAID CYMRU THE PARTY OF WALES
Although Plaid Cymru won 12 seats in 2016 the party is now down to 10. Lord Elis Thomas, the constituency member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, left to become a Labour-supporting Independent; and Neil McEvoy, the regional AM for South Wales Central, left to sit as an Independent before forming the Welsh National Party (WNP).
A further change since 2016 is that Plaid Cymru also has a new leader in Adam Price. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about him is that he’s not former leader, Leanne Wood.
For most Welsh voters Plaid Cymru is the party of Welsh independence, but as I’ve argued, Plaid Cymru is a party that sought more autonomy for Wales, more funding for Wales, and the creation of a new class of politicians and administrators made up of . . . well, the kind of people who populate the upper echelons of Plaid Cymru.
This was to be a system that created a new class that Djilas would have recognised enjoying prestige and influence without the responsibility of having to fund it. Devolution, with a bit more power, many more sinecures, and lots more money, is the end of the line.
Plaid Cymru was always Cymru Fydd resurrected, not a Welsh Sinn Féin. Until, that is, it moved to the left in the 1980s and really screwed itself up. Enjoying only a brief period of coherence under the leadership of Dafydd Wigley and the first Assembly elections in 1999.
Today we again see a schizophrenic party where Welsh-speaking social conservatives from the rural heartlands mix uncomfortably with some real oddballs and a few with views that should have denied them membership.
Plaid Cymru is today one of those confused leftist parties that is vehemently opposed to intolerance . . . except when it’s those it approves of being intolerant.
As a leftist party Plaid Cymru believes that, thanks to the capitalist system, we’re either going to fry due to global warming, or else we’re going to drown from rising sea levels, so Wales must play its part in trying to avert these outcomes.
In practice, that means supporting wind turbines that create no jobs and simply exploit Wales. Where profits flow to a City hedge fund, or a multinational, or a state-owned energy company from Scandinavia.
Except on issues that are largely irrelevant to Wales – where Plaid Cymru can play gesture politics – the party comes across as weak and indecisive. Take holiday homes. Plaid talks the talk but it won’t walk the walk.
At present Welsh local authorities can impose a council tax surcharge on holiday homes up to 100%. The only council that levies the 100% is Labour-controlled Swansea. (And despite what you might think, there are many holiday homes on the waterfront, in Mumbles, and of course around Gower.)
But Gwynedd, where Plaid Cymru is in control, imposes only a 50% surcharge. It’s a similar picture in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.
On independence, Plaid Cymru has been outflanked and overtaken by Yes Cymru. While on the party political front there are two new challengers in the form of Gwlad and the Welsh National Party (WNP). Both are unequivocal about prioritising Welsh interests, and are fully committed to achieving independence.
So you really have to wonder what Plaid Cymru stands for nowadays, and where it’s going. That’s certainly what Welsh voters will be doing in May. Many will conclude that Plaid Cymru has hit the buffers.
Which certainly seems to be the case.
For while opinion polls tell us that more and more people are prepared to consider independence, those same polls show little or no increase in support for Plaid Cymru. Recent polls show 51% of Labour voters prepared to consider independence, but only 71% of Plaid Cymru voters!
What’s going wrong for Plaid Cymru?
In a nutshell, Plaid Cymru believes that the only acceptable vision of independence must be well to the left of centre, pro EU, in favour of open borders, anti Trump, and dragging a whole baggage train of ishoo-of-the-month idiocies that turn off most voters.
Dogmatic to the point of being unelectable.
Plaid Cymru always failed to engage with the urban, anglophone population. After the disappointment of Brexit, the success of the Brexit Party (winning the May 2019 EU elections in Wales and the UK), and BoJo’s victory last December, many in Plaid Cymru – like the US Democrats – have given up trying to win over stupid, racist, poor whites.
They find it preferable to retreat into their cocoons of progressive self-righteousness in the echo chamber of social media.
Which is why I believe Plaid Cymru will lose Ceredigion and also end up with fewer Members from the regional lists.
There’s a temptation to be very unkind in this section . . . but it’s not in my nature to put the boot in when somebody’s down. And boy! are the Liberal Democrats down.
It’s an amazing decline for the party of David Lloyd George, but entirely predictable when we consider the quality of leaders and representatives in recent years at both Welsh and UK level. I’m not sure if Ms Williams holds group meetings with herself but I’m sure she will have thought the same thing many a time.
And yet, despite currently being down to a solitary representative, the Liberal Democrats could be the big winners in May next year.
As I’ve suggested, the CUP has pissed off a lot of people, and most certainly a lot of farmers. Few will know that better than Kirsty Williams, a farmer’s wife.
Obviously, I’m not privy to what goes on at Welsh Liberal Democrat Party meetings (I can never find the telephone kiosk!) but I’m sure Kirsty Williams has hopes for the seats of Montgomeryshire to the north and Ceredigion to the west. (If the students in Aber’ and Lampeter have forgiven the Lib Dems for reneging on tuition fees.)
So I’m predicting that the Liberal Democrats could double, or even treble, their representation in May 2021. These are the three constituencies mentioned, and there might even be a regional list seat.
VERA LYNN FAN CLUBS
This is where it gets tricky, because the landscape on the BritNat right is forever shifting. Hardly surprising when we look at the personalities involved, and realise how many of them are often described as ‘interesting’, or ‘eccentric’ (code for ‘absolute nutter’).
Back in 2016, the big winner among this section of the electorate was UKIP, with 13% of the vote and seven seats. The Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party did not stand constituency candidates and got just 4.4% of the regional vote (which was still more than the share won by the Green Party of Englandandwales).
Since 2016 UKIP has had eight or nine UK leaders, numerous resignations, and in Corruption Bay is now reduced to the solitary – but dapper – form of Neil Hamilton. In fact, I’m not sure if Neil Hamilton isn’t the current party leader. Or was that last month?
Not so long ago the Abolish lot was the fringe of a fringe, but now it boasts two Members of the Senedd, Gareth Bennett and Mark Reckless. Though you’ve gotta be pretty desperate to boast about those two.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at those UKIP meetings because by comparison ferrets in a sack are models of harmony and co-existence.
The most recent development is that Rowlands and the Jones women have formed a new group, the Independent Alliance for Reform. And if that name doesn’t stir something deep inside you – other than wind – then you are beyond hope.
It is obviously designed to be interchangeable with or to complement Aux barricades!
And all the while, in the wings, observing, is Nigel Farage. Will his Reform Party put in a late appearance, or will it be the promised relaunch of the Brexit Party? Though with Brexit almost done what would be the platform?
For let us remember that the Assembly elections of May 2016 were held just ahead of the EU referendum and were almost overshadowed by it. This propinquity benefited Ukip.
One thing’s for sure, if all the parties we’ve looked at in this section fight all the seats then we’ll be royally entertained by the stars they’ll recruit from Wetherspoons and other squelchy underfoot salons. A goodly number of whom will have to withdraw before the election after saying or doing something really stupid.
The BritNat right has no hope of a constituency seat, so hopes rest on the regional lists. Which means that a lot will depend on whether they fight each other or come to some arrangement.
I suspect there are still enough “Brexit means Brexit” types out there to win 3 seats.
THE SERIOUS ABOUT WALES PARTIES
Looking around Wales and seeing the mess this country is in is painful enough, but when you realise that none of the existing parties offers any hope of meaningful change, then new parties will be formed.
And that’s exactly what’s happened; and why we have Gwlad and the WNP.
I am a member of Gwlad and played a small part in its creation, but it was easy for me to withdraw to the blogosphere because the party is in such capable hands.
I like to think that Gwlad combines patriotism with pragmatism. For example, in believing that relying on handouts from London, as Labour and Plaid Cymru prefer, only perpetuates the misconception that Wales could never stand on her own two feet economically.
There are radical yet practical proposals across the board. We’ve already touched on Plaid Cymru’s fear of upsetting second home owners – a number in their own ranks – with meaningful levels of council tax; well, Gwlad does not hesitate to demand a 500% council tax surcharge.
Predictably, the criticism levelled against Gwlad by Plaid Cymru is that we shall “split the nationalist vote”. This is nonsense, because Plaid Cymru has already split – or certainly, limited – the nationalist vote by its inflexible and off-putting socialism.
This is borne out in recent elections and in even more so in recent opinion polls.
What Gwlad will do is reach out to those who want, or would be prepared to consider, independence, but could never vote for a hard-line socialist party also lumbered with the tag of still being a party only for Welsh speakers.
Gwlad could come through a crowded field to win a constituency seat and should certainly collect 3 or 4 regional list seats.
Of course, I’ve met Neil McEvoy a few times and we exchange the occasional e-mail, Wales is a small country after all. But I really don’t know much about his new party beyond what I read in the media.
Though I do know a few others involved with the WNP.
Over the years I’ve sunk a few pints with Councillor Keith Parry . . . and I’m still haunted by a car journey one very rainy night as I tried to concentrate on the road ahead while my mate and Keith’s Jewish wife argued over the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum.
I feared it was all going to end in a fight and a fireball car crash. Phew!
Many observers try to say that Neil McEvoy only took the course he did in forming the WNP because he was effectively thrown out of Plaid Cymru. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Neil has been in politics a long time, and he knows what’s wrong with Wales. On one level it’s London’s political, economic and cultural stranglehold, but on the local level it’s the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru.
Labour holds power on local councils and in the Senedd . . . simply to be in power; to stop someone else getting the salaries and the expenses, attending the bun-fights and the jollies. Labour has little intention – and no real incentive – to improve the lives of our people because for a century it has capitalised on Wales’ deprivation.
Plaid Cymru, as I’ve said, is a party of gestures and abstractions. It is the twenty-first century political equivalent of those medieval divines who would argue over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
But actually doing anything? Forget it!
But if one of his constituents persuades him they’re getting a raw deal, then Neil McEvoy will take up the case and demand something be done about it. And he sometimes ruffles feathers doing it. But if kids are sharing a bedroom with rats, or there’s water rippling down the kitchen wall . . .
Neil McEvoy is a do-er, a man who believes in the direct approach; and that makes the anguished attitudinisers of Plaid Cymru very nervous. And never more so than when he confronts the Labour Party.
Sticking it to the man may outrage the sensitive flowers of Plaid Cymru but it goes down well with real people, on the streets of Cardiff, and elsewhere in Wales. People want their problems solved, they do not want to be patronised, or taken for granted, by an aloof and self-serving political class.
The big test will come in the constituency seat of Cardiff West, where McEvoy will be standing against First Minister Drakeford. Plaid Cymru will of course be splitting the nationalist vote in the hope of securing victory for Mark Drakeford.
Neil McEvoy’s street cred and his sheer hard work might win Cardiff West next May, plus a couple of regional list seats.
My very personal belief is that Gwlad and the WNP should not get in each other’s way next May. Neither has the strength yet to fight a full national election so it’s in their interests, and more importantly, it’s in Wales’s interests, for there to be some kind of deal.
I obviously can’t account for all those who might be standing next May, there’s bound to be a wild card or two. But what you’ve just read is how I see it panning out.
Other factors will I’m sure influence voters. Perhaps the UK government’s Internal Markets Bill; supposedly about ‘repatriating’ powers from the EU but which, in reality, gives BoJo’s gang the power to trample all over devolution.
Perhaps it will even be used to challenge the 1707 Act of Union.
More specific to Wales is a growing awareness of and dislike for the chumminess of Cardiff Bay. The air of cronyism and unaccountability exemplified by Labour and Plaid Cymru refusing to bring in a register of lobbyists.
The problem in this area is obvious, but there are always excuses for doing nothing. This is because Labour and Plaid Cymru are too close to those who might be held to account by such legislation.
Another issue that might influence some voters to take a punt on a new party is the widespread perception that Cardiff gets everything. Which doesn’t change when an MS goes to Cardiff promising to speak up for his area . . . only to be sucked into the swamp that is Corruption Bay.
But perhaps we should remember Harold Macmillan’s response when asked what was most likely to influence or derail political plans. Supermac is said to have replied: “Events, dear boy, events.”
In other words, that which cannot be foreseen. Six months is a very long time in politics.
Jac is still not out of the woods. He now has a further technical problem.
Whilst the first problem was resolved and and he reappeared, it was short lived and now he’s suffered another! Not a major problem, and unrelated to the first. Hopefully he’ll be back shortly (and permanently) it is hoped.
In the meantime, the blog is functioning fine, and your comments are being processed as usual.
At the very end of the latest Heritage Great Britain Annual Report & Accounts we read that everything is owned by a Jersey company:
So the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd is owned by Heritage Great Britain PLC which in turn is owned by Cherberry Ltd of Jersey.
And as I found out when writing the earlier piece, Cherberry Ltd of Jersey is in turn owned by Dukla Ltd of Gibraltar, set up August 2015. And Dukla is probably owned by a company based in an even more sun-blest location.
So it’s Snowdonia to Liverpool, Liverpool to Jersey, Jersey to Gibraltar, Gibraltar to God knows where.
Which means that the patriotically named Heritage Great Britain PLC is ultimately owned by an entity based offshore. But why would a company running tourist attractions need such a twisted web of ownership?
His interests are now looked after by his son, Allan James Stuart Leech, who sits as a director on the boards of these companies.
The reason I’m returning to the Snowdon Mountain Railway is because of its new hybrid locos, built by Clayton Equipment of Staffordshire. Word has it that these new locos are not performing as hoped.
As you can read in this piece from the Rail Technology Magazine website, “SMR plan to operate at Llanberis entirely on battery power, operate the generator charging on the uphill journey, turn off the generator on the downhill journey and use the regenerative braking to recharge the battery packs”.
The problem I’m hearing about seems to be two-fold. First, the batteries don’t charge as the loco descends, with the brakes on; and second, the brakes themselves don’t work too well as brakes. And with each battery weighing ten tonne, this is a serious matter.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions these problems have been hidden, but they won’t go away. And with the SMR planning a full switch to electric and hybrid technology they need to be fixed, pronto.
Due to this problematic investment in hybrid locos, and the loss of income from Covid-19, there must be a possibility that the Snowdon Mountain Railway will soon be seeking financial support from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.
The ‘Welsh Government’ should not give a penny to a company that is ultimately owned by persons or companies based in tax havens.
BALA LAKE RAILWAY
One toy train that is definitely seeking ‘Welsh Government’ money is the Bala Lake Railway.
The BLR line currently runs from Llanuwchllyn up the eastern – Llangower – side of Llyn Tegid to Pen-y-Bont station, near to where Afon Dyfyrdwy (Dee) leaves on its journey to the border and the sea.
Last Friday we learnt that the Bala Lake Railway is asking the ‘Welsh Government’ for £2.5m to extend the line to a new station in the town of Bala. And the ‘Welsh Government’ seems keen on giving the money. (Kenny – ‘Flint Ring’ – Skates is already brushing his teeth for the photo op as you read this.)
Then, in a couple of places, I read, as the aim: “To advance enjoyment, education and learning and to promote regional public benefit through the restoration, maintenance and exhibition by operation steam locomotives, rolling stock and other railway artefacts directly associated with the slate industry of north Wales and in particular those regions of Dinorwic and Penrhyn.”
But the Bala Lake Railway runs along a stretch of the old line from Barmouth to Ruabon. It has no connection with the slate industry, and certainly not with Dinorwic or Penrhyn. (Did I say ‘Penrhyn’! That BLM woman will be after me!)
So who runs this show . . . from Shepton Mallet? The six trustees are: Squadron Leader Toby Kenneth Watkins, Steve Valentine, Julian Peter Charles Birley, Roger Hine, Christina Lillian Kennedy, Steve Davies.
Hine was quoted: “I didn’t expect to be cut off in peak season. My next door neighbour runs a guest house and said it was typical in Wales because they are not tourism-orientated.” Useless bloody Welsh! Thank God the English come here to run the tourism industry for us. Did I just say, ‘for us’!
Steve Valentine “owns and runs an award-winning confectionery company in Bala which is also the town’s largest single employer”. This is presumably Gwynedd Confectioners, though the company registered with Companies House is Sweet Valentine Limited, with a Porthmadog address.
I would have expected to see ‘trading as’ somewhere in the Sweet Valentine documents filed with Companies House, but I couldn’t find anything.
Two military officers, someone awarded the British Empire Medal, and the rest suggest a very English establishment outfit. The only thing the Bala Lake Railway seems to want from us is our country and our money.
The question is, boys and girls: Should £2.5m of Welsh public money be used to fund a hobby train, one encouraging the ‘Playground Wales’ tourism that is turning us into strangers in our own country, or should those involved be told to steam off into the sunset?
Answers on the usual post card, please. (And if you’ve run out just send me a message on a post card and I’ll send you some more.)
Another of the ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’ is the Welsh Highland Railway, which runs the 25 miles from Caernarfon to Porthmadog via Beddgelert. At ‘Port’ it links with the Ffestiniog Railway that goes on to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
These lines are for tourists, few locals can afford to use them. I say that because it costs £80 for two to make the 15-mile trip from Caernarfon to Beddgelert in a ‘seating bay’, which I assume to be two, facing bench seats.
Which reminded me of something written by Julian Birley B.E.M. on the BLR Trust website; talking of narrow gauge railways, he said: “Largely based in rural regions, these railways are becoming a lifeline for people in areas of high unemployment and in need of regeneration.”
How true is that?
But I digress.
The reason I’m introducing the Welsh Highland Railway is because one of its directors is David Edward Firth, who happens to live in Beddgelert, so I’m sure he uses the train regularly . . . without having to pay.
Another company of which Firth is a director is Glaslyn Leisure Ltd. I’m sure the name won’t mean anything to you and I only came across it in a story about five holiday homes being sold in Beddgelert. Being sold together as an ‘investment’.
They seem to be in a cul-de-sac off the main A498.
I suppose £1.2m for five holiday homes in a place like Beddgelert is about right, but when I checked the company accounts an anomaly was revealed. For according to the accounts, or rather, the unaudited financial statement, the company’s tangible assets / net book value amount to only £275,524.
Almost a million pounds less than is being asked for the Beddgelert properties. How is this explained? In two words – debts and depreciation.
The creditors are almost certainly the four directors of Glaslyn Leisure and the debt is presumably what it cost them to buy the land and build the six properties.
Perhaps the real anomaly is depreciation. For in the real world, and especially with holiday homes in Wales, values increase every year; but in declarations to Companies House owners are allowed to apply depreciation of 2% a year on freehold property and 20% on fixtures and fittings.
Which means, over a period of time, property that is increasing in value can, on paper, be made to lose value. Clever, no?
To help me make sense of things I drew a table. Starting in 2010 we see that the fixed assets / book value stood at £526,612 which, a decade ago, with property markets still suffering from the financial crisis of 2008, might have represented some two thirds of what the properties would have fetched if they’d been sold.
This sale – the ‘disposal’ mentioned in the financial statement – also explains the reduction in the amount owed to creditors from £519,280 in 2017 to £266,433 in 2018.
I was able to get details of Plas Tegfryn from the Land Registry, but the properties for sale – Sygun, Aran, Y Garn, Hebog, Craig-y-Llan – seem not be registered by name or number. (I got the names from AirBnB.)
And of course we aren’t told how much these properties have earned in the two decades since they were built. So it could be £1.2m clear profit from the sale. Perhaps more. And it will all go to England.
I’ve included this story because it tells us so much about what’s wrong with Wales.
On the one hand we have narrow gauge railways, run by strangers, for the enjoyment of strangers; with hardly any local involvement, but always looking for Welsh public funding by suggesting they provide some public service!
And then we have the kind of tourism-linked property speculation we see in Beddgelert. But not limited to this or any other area.
For as a correspondent from Llandysul wrote a few days ago: “Stories from all directions about ‘selling a shithole house in England and buying three here. One to live in and two to rent out’. I think we’ve had it now.”
This is a decent, caring Welsh person resigned to the death of his nation.
Talking of property speculation reminds me of Jake Berry, the Conservative and Unionist MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire. Berry owns an unknown number of properties on Ynys Môn.
One of those properties is Rhyd-y-Bont, at Rhoscolyn, an area of the island being rapidly cleansed of the Welsh and other undesirables. Berry, or his wife, Alice Molly Radclyffe Berry, bought it last year for £780,000.
The name of this rural retreat translated into English takes us to Ford Bridge Farm Ltd, a company formed in May, that uses the address of an accountant in Bacup, in Berry’s constituency. The directors are Berry and his wife, with said accountant, Paul Fitton, serving as secretary.
There have been some developments worth reporting. I just hope I can explain them.
On the Companies House website, at the top of an entry, all company names are given in upper case, so I was amazed to see, Ford Bridge, FARM LTD. Also, this curiosity has a date of birth! Though December 1983 is also when Jake Berry’s wife was born.
Had she changed her name?
At the second attempt I found another entry for Ford Bridge Farm Limited, with Palatine Hill Limited listed as an appointment. This is in addition to the original entry given above.
Palatine Hill could be a ‘Russian doll’ arrangement for Jake and his missus’ property dealings, set up to deter enquiries – cos there’s some nosy buggers out there! I suppose the next step would be offshore, but that might look bad, even for a Tory MP.
I suggest that because checking the ‘Filing history’ I saw this entry for 31 July, 2020 “Withdrawal of the directors’ residential address register information from the public register”. And if you want a ‘company snapshot’ then you’ll need to cough up £15.
As you all know, the Palatine Hill was one of the seven hills of Ancient Rome. It’s where the toffs were said to live. Which is entirely fitting for upwardly mobile Jake and Alice Berry.
But under no circumstances should it be confused with the Capitoline Hill or any of the other five. And it’s nowhere near Blueberry Hill, of which the late Antoine ‘Fats’ Domino so often sang.
See, you don’t just get informed on this blog, you get bloody well educated as well.
ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS
Towards the end of August I wrote Black Mountains College, in which we looked at this project in Talgarth, Powys that seeks to become a kind of university for eco-warriors.
One of the sidetracks down which comments took us led to the OPD settlement at Rhiw Las, near Whitland in Carmarthenshire. I’d been keeping an eye on this through regular updates from Companies House on Rhiw Las Ltd, a company formed in September 2013.
But of course, filings to Companies House can’t always tell us what’s happening on the ground. And that’s why I’m indebted to those who commented to the blog or contacted me in other ways.
The 21.5 acre Rhiw Las site is made up of four couples living on separate OPDs, each of roughly 5 acres. Planning permission was granted by the Planning Inspectorate in June 2016 after being rejected by Carmarthenshire planning committee.
The stated thinking behind OPDs is to encourage people to live self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyles, in order to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint. The fact that all those choosing to live on OPDs have moved to Wales, thereby increasing Wales’ carbon footprint, is an inconvenient truth and therefore ignored.
As it is set out in the ‘Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note 6 the strategy is about “delivering sustainable rural communities”. And what a welcome innovation this will be, for in the 10,000 years since the retreat of the ice Wales has never known sustainable rural communities.
Soon after releasing into the wild the piece about Black Mountains College news started arriving about the denizens of Rhiw Las. One couple in particular may have been telling porkies about where they live, and what they do.
I’m referring now to Chris Vernon and Erica Thompson. That’s Dr Chris Vernon, who works for the Met Office in Bristol; and Dr Erica Thompson, a Fellow of the London School of Economics.
When she’s not teaching in London, or attending conferences, or at her holiday home OPD, Erica Thompson is chairwoman of the One Planet Council. Which means that she knows the buzz-words, she has the connections, and the buttons she needs to push are invitingly illuminated.
OPDs can look commendable, deserving of support, until you learn more and appreciate the bullshit involved.
Great dollops of which can be found in the Management Plan for Rhiw Las, that accompanied the planning application. It makes a big thing of the availability of wild food. But if you’re going to use wild food to strengthen your case then you might as well say there’ll be lots of air to breathe, and birds singing, and flies flying . . .
One Planet Developments are supposed to be about people doing things for themselves, not relying entirely on Mother Nature . . . plus of course, the Met Office and the LSE.
Then there’s Wycliffe Tippins, another resident of Rhiw Las. It seems Wycliffe lives or works in Gloucestershire. As a comment to the Black Mountains College post told us, “Wycliffe is a computer games developer. Another useful addition to the rural skillset at Rhiw Las !”
What’s more, not so long ago, Wycliffe was advertising for unpaid help to look after his OPD while he was designing computer games in England.
And before he was even using the static caravan on his visits to Wales, and before Rhiw Las was given planning permission, Wycliffe was demanding a strong Well-being of Future Generations Bill! Which would of course be of benefit to him and his friends.
Which meant he was trying to influence Welsh legislation when he wasn’t even pretending to be living here! Arrogant colonialist fucker!
Another member of the Rhiw Las gang who may be working full-time in England is Dr Paul Jennings. But what I found really interesting about him came from this interview with Lowimpact.org in April.
Contrary to what I’m sure most of us believed, according to Paul Jennings, ‘The (OPD) policy is intended to strengthen local, rural economies in Wales – it’s not about self-sufficiency.’ Though in other areas he agrees with us.
Over at Lammas we find Cassandra Lishman, the ‘Woman of the Willows’. Are she and her husband living a self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle? Almost certainly not, for as the article tells us, hubby “Nigel has a ‘conventional’ job as a care support worker.”
To which he drives every day.
“Cassie is at pains to stress that living at Lammas – reliant upon sun, water and wind for power, and running smallholdings in tune with nature – does not preclude having a ‘normal’ life”.
All they really want is a cheap place in the countryside. And it has to be the Welsh countryside because no other country on Earth has been so stupid as to submit to these people by introducing the OPD system.
Once they’ve got their little bit of heaven, built for a few thousand pounds, it can be sold for a premium price as a dwelling in open country.
Clearly, the OPD system is being abused on a massive scale. And yet the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to intervene, leaving local planning authorities helpless. And so the envirocolonists keep coming, in an ever-increasing tide.
Here’s what one local source told me:
“As far as I can tell there in no policing by Pembs CC and given the fear of litigation that Carm CC suffered at the hands OPD lawyers they are reluctant/can’t afford to enforce any of the planning restrictions imposed originally
I foresee many of the properties sold as general housing with a very large garden and a lifestyle
Sure as hell nobody local will be buying these properties as it will be cash buyers only, I somehow doubt that they are mortgageable
Lammas is a shambles and beyond any controls it seems. The latest episode is —– laying down on the track to stop a farmer hedge cutting because he can’t get his hay equipment to fields further up the hill
There are more appearing in the valley and it is divisive. A farmer is buying blocks of land just to prevent more arrivals as he is already surrounded.
They are not going away so sooner or later most will be sold on the open market.
I don’t see the an end to it.
Wealthy incomers, from SE England and Bristol queuing up to buy a toy farm in countryside, working from home and not having the skills abide to OPD planning conditions. What then?
The farms are being fragmented and they will never be able to be reinstated as a viable family farm of the type that has built the indigenous community”.
I know it’s easy to laugh at these people and their pretensions, but they are ambitious, greedy, well connected, and dangerous. Never forget that the clowns in Corruption Bay have already bent over backwards to do their bidding.
The ambition I’m referring to stretches way beyond the few settlements we see today, mainly in the south west. According to Paul/Tau Wimbush, a Lammas guru, Wales could easily accommodate another 115,000 eco-holdings. That’s 414,000 people – all them land-grabbing charlatans, with few living the life they’ll claim to be living.
Chris Vernon agrees that there should be many more faux OPDs. Go to 7:10 in this video to hear him say: “There is no reason why Wales couldn’t support several tens of thousands of smallholdings in the open countryside”.
Glynllifon is a name you’ll be familiar with, but this section has nothing to do with Plas Glynllifon, the old mansion south of Caernarfon that has attracted so many crooks over recent years.
No, this Glynllifon is on Ynys Môn, near Marianglas, with Benllech to the south and Moelfre to the north. Though just like its mainland namesake it also attracts crooks!
As I was informed in a couple of anonymous e-mails earlier this month telling me that certain ‘businessmen’ had a project at Traeth Bychan, Marianglas, and that a company called Glynllifon Ltd was involved.
This company was formed 10 June last year, with Neil Moir as sole director. (The name is sometimes spelt ‘Muir’.) The company soon took out two loans with Goldcrest Finance Ltd to buy the Glynllifon hotel. Goldcrest Finance is yet another “specialist lender based in central Manchester”. How many of them are there?
Here’s the Land Registry title document. I suggest you keep it open in another window. Because before moving on to the latest developments I’d like to concentrate on the title document for a bit.
Going back to 1999 (page 2) it would appear that the Glynllifon Hotel passed from people named Beardsley to a Lesley Karen Boshell. Yet on page 3 we find that, “A Deed dated 17 September 2015 made between (1) Thelma Eileen Beardsley and (2) Ocean and Country Developments Limited contains restrictive covenants.”
Turning to Ocean & Country Developments Ltd we find Ronald Kenneth Boshell of Cheshire as a director. It’s reasonable to assume that he is related to Lesley Karen Boshell.
Ocean & Country Developments is heavily in debt and the debt may be explained by an outstanding charge held by ‘The Santhouse Pensioneer Trustee Company Limited Marc Howard and Avis Howard’ against . . . the Glynllifon Hotel. Marc Howard is the other director, with Boshell, of Ocean & Country Developments.
The Boshells were obviously living on Ynys Mon in January 2005 because this report from the Daily Post tells us that one of the Boshell children was hit by a car on the way to school.
The report also told us that, “Mr Boshell and wife Leslie (sic) said they closed the hotel last year because the road was so dangerous”. The hotel was called the Beauchelles Hotel (geddit?), though closing due to traffic is unlikely.
UPDATE 22.09.2020: My suspicion has been confirmed – the Beauchelles Hotel was Glynllifon. Sources say it went downhill, almost as if it was designed to fail.
One source sent me a photo of Ronnie Boshell, now domiciled in Spain.
“Cllr Durkin said: ‘For years now Benllech and its surrounding areas has seen a number of its prominent hotels and properties purchased by property developers just to be closed down with no work done. (My emphasis.)
‘They have been left dangerously, inadequately secured and are blots on the beautiful landscapes.”
He drew attention to Y Gorlan, on Benllech promenade, which has already been set on fire, has been left open to the elements and has become a magnet for unsuspecting children to get injured or killed.
Some of the eyesores also include the Bay Court Hotel, the Bryntyrion (sic) Hotel and the Beauchelles Hotel, which Cllr Durkin says are letting the village down.'”
It could be that companies were being set up, and property bought, to launder money. Such things happen.
The image below, from Google, was captured in July 2016. It would appear to show some plan to develop the Glynllifon site as apartments and holiday cottages, perhaps by Ocean & Country Developments Ltd.
The Boshells, or Beauchelles, appear to have moved back to north west England.
The empty and semi-derelict Glynllifon Hotel has now been bought by Glynllifon Ltd and Neil Moir. So who exactly is he?
THE winner of top TV quiz Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is set to lose his fortune – because he is a crook.
Millions saw 51-year-old Neil Muir land a £64,000 prize this week. But under the programme’s rules he is BANNED from entering.
Muir has convictions for theft, deception and forgery. And Rule 6 says: “You must… have no criminal convictions (subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974).” London TV company Celador launched an investigation yesterday.
Although his roots seem to be in north west England Moir is, I believe, living on Ynys Môn. In Bodorgan, on the opposite side of the island to Marianglas.
In recent days the Glynllifon Hotel has been in the news because the planned development – if it’s not another money laundering operation! – plans to open under the ‘Traeth Bychan Heights’ label. This has upset many locals angry at so many traditional names being lost.
(Bryn Llys has been renamed ‘Snowdon Summit View’.)
Now what interest would Shane Baker have in the Marianglas / Benllech area? Silly me! – it’s where the police found his boss John Joseph Duggan hiding out. Though given what we now know about the area I can’t help wondering who owned the property in which Duggan was hiding.
I’m sure I’ll return to this story in future posts. If anyone has more information, then get in touch.
Toy trains, ‘investment’ holiday homes, Tory MPs’ property empires, envirocolonists and outright crooks are just the same monster glimpsed in different lights. All elements of a colonial system that no longer simply exploits but also destroys.
Either we start taking back control, from those you’ve read about, and from those who refuse to take action against them, or it will be victory for Shane Baker and those who agree that doing away with everything that makes us Welsh is progress.
The guilty party was Gower Way Limited. Given the name I assumed it was local to Swansea; but no, for Gower Way Limited has its registered address in London.
Where it was Incorporated in July 2015, and there’s been no change of name. Suggesting the company was set up in London with the intention of operating in Swansea. Though, curiously, the address transferred from Swansea to London in September 2018 – without any record of it ever transferring to Swansea.
The only director and sole shareholder is Nasser Saleh Alanizy.
The confirmation statement is currently overdue with Companies House. In fact, the company was struck off late last year and restored just before Christmas. Though the contact name given on the restoration document is not Nasser Alanizy but Baber Wassim.
The unaudited, micro-entity ‘accounts’ suggest capital and reserves of £874,900 in 2019, down from £1,820,720 the previous year. Made up entirely of fixed assets, possibly buildings.
That’s what’s suggested when we click on the Gower Way ‘Charges’ tab. For the charges refer to a retail unit at 62 Kingsway, and ‘The Box’, in Welcome Lane. Both in Swansea.
I must confess that for a minute this old Jack couldn’t place Welcome Lane and so I had to resort to Google. It’s a short street running down from Castle Street to the Strand. But there’s nothing there apart from an old public lavatory. Is that ‘The Box’?
Indeed it is. As the title document and plan prove. In two instalments totalling £114,210.70 Swansea council seems to have paid Gower Way Ltd to take this old public loo off their hands on a 125-year lease commencing 14 December 2015. Though the charges are dated 31 March 2017.
That gives us a total of £288,732.67. So I’m not clear as to where Gower Way’s assets of £879,000 shown in the accounts come from. There must be assets in addition to the buildings in Swansea. Presumably.
To recap; Gower Way Ltd was Incorporated 9 July 2015. The lease for 62 Kingsway was signed 10 September, 2015, and the lease for ‘The Box’ on 14 December, 2015. The four loans from the Council are dated 31 March, 2017.
Does this mean that the Council signed lease agreements with a company that over a year later needed money from the Council to honour those lease agreements?
UPDATE: It now appears that a Middle Eastern restaurant opened in April 2017 at 62 The Kingsway. This probably explains the council loans in March 2017. A Twitter account was started, but never tweeted; and a Facebook page was also opened, and abandoned.
There was even a short-lived company called Feasting House Swansea Limited. Incorporated March 2017, application to strike-off made 18 January 2018. There may have been a restaurant on the premises for a short while but I doubt if that was the primary purpose to which the building was put.
And what were the loans for the public lavatories in Welcome Lane used for?
Swansea council was taken for a ride.
UPDATE 08.09.2020: A source tells me that the loans were linked with Property Enhancement Development Fund (PEDF) and Homes Above Shops (HAS). This Google link suggest that funding was announced for Swansea in June 2014. Gower Way Ltd was formed a year later, almost certainly to take advantage of the funding.
Unfortunately the link only opens The Wave (radio station) home page.
HOW THEY ARE RELATED
Nasser Alanizy’s Linkedin entry says that he has also been a director of ‘Old House CMC’ since September 2009. I have no idea what CMC stands for, but a Nasser Alanizy is a director of Old House Group Ltd, a company launched as recently as February last year.
Though his day job would appear to be with the Focus Building Group. Or it was until a couple of years ago. But the Focus Building Group doesn’t appear at all on Alanizy’s Linkedin profile.
A bit confusing. And now it gets more confusing.
For another of Alanizy’s companies is Canons Lodge Ltd. The accounts are overdue with Companies House but the latest available accounts, up to 31 July 2018, show ‘Capital and reserves’ of minus £237,000.
And yet, if we compare the accounts for 2017 and 2018, specifically the extracts below, we see that what was £630,000 in 2017 has reduced in the 2018 accounts to £63,000. Is this a typo, the sort of thing that happens with unaudited, ‘do-it-yourself’ submissions, or is it something more?
So Swansea council is shelling out for a building in London!
Canons Lodge Ltd began life with a London address, Then on 24 March, 2017, it transferred its registered address to 62 The Kingsway. The moolah from the council was delivered the following month.
Then, just like Gower Way Ltd, in September 2018 the address was changed to a London address. Both companies eventually settling at 23 Crawford Street, London W1H 1BY.
So what or where is Canons Lodge?
It turns out that Canons Park is a municipal park in the borough of Harrow in north west London, with an Underground station of the same name. The Lodge used to serve as the park-keeper’s residence and it seems that Nasser Alanizy has recently bought the place.
I got this information from Friends of Canons Park, who told me “Mr Alanizy is the resident of the Lodge in Canons Park. He is a property developer and is trying to adapt the Lodge to create an arts centre and meeting rooms, which the Friends are happy to support as they will directly benefit the park.”
The Land Registry title document for the Lodge tells us, page 3 C5: “(09.04.2014) A Transfer of the land in this title dated 19 March 2014 made between (1) The Mayor And Burgesses Of the London Borough Of Harrow and (2) Intercontinental Developments Limited contains restrictive covenants.”
So who are the previous owners, Intercontinental Developments Ltd? To begin with, it is registered with Companies House. The only current director is Surmid El Akabi. A previous director – from February 2005 until March 2019 – was Karim El Akabi.
It’s reasonable to assume that the three El Akabis are related.
I came across this reference from 2013 to Namir El Akabi buying the Paragon Hotel in Birmingham. BirminghamLive said: “According to sources, Iraqi owners the El-Akabi family are preparing to invest in a multi-million pound overhaul of the hotel which will see it restored to its former glory”.
Surrendering to the curiosity that would surely have killed me by now if I’d been born with a taste for mice I wondered who owns the Paragon/Rowton Hotel.
The answer is Paragon Investment Estate Ltd, Incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Presumably a front for the El Akabis because the most recent sale recorded with the Land Registry was the one reported in 2013.
Namir El Akabi has contacts in the UK government. And so it’s no surprise to find him in 2013 buying a hotel in Birmingham to house refugees, many from his own country. Perhaps he had better contacts than Birmingham City Council.
Recap: This digression came about because the Al Akabis previously owned Canons Lodge which is now owned by Nasser Alanizy who leases the buildings in Swansea with loans from the Council.
Moving on . . .
I can’t help wondering if the modestly-named Intergalactic Developments had plans for Canons Park Lodge that the council made clear would not be allowed. Thwarted, the boys from Baghdad found (perhaps already knew) Alanizy.
There was a bogus ‘sale’, and the council being aware of this subterfuge explains why the Friends of Canons Park tell me, “all his (Alanizy’s) applications to Harrow Council have been turned down”.’
You will recall that one of Alanizy’s companies was the Old House Group Ltd at the popular accommodation address, 23 Crawford Street, London W1H 1BY. The only other director was Mazin Daood.
Alanizy is a director of Focus Development Solutions along with Ednor Mata and Gentian Mata. Each holding 100 of the 300 shares. Only formed in June 2018 the first accounts were due 12 March. Companies House is still waiting.
SSL Investment Ltd belongs to a Jordanian family living in the United Arab Emirates.
Mazmo Partners Ltd has Mazin Daood as sole director. But with another person who may be his father also involved.
PENDINE IS VERY POPULAR AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR
But I have little interest in what’s going on in Baghdad, Birmingham, Abu Dhabi or London. Wales is my concern, and those we’re discussing may now have business interests west of the old home town.
Which I thought was a bit odd, why the sudden interest in animals? Are they hoping to profit from the ‘Welsh Government’s war on farmers?
Whatever the answer, we have an interlocking set of property investors with Middle East connections, one of whom has turned his attention to Pendine Sands, which was famous for land speed record attempts in the first half of the 20th century. You’ll recall that J G Parry-Thomas was killed there in 1927 trying to beat his own world land speed record.
As if that wasn’t enough, there is an Irish company called Pendine Sands 4894 Limited (known as Olympus Leasing 4162 Limited until September 2015). Through a number of intermediaries it is ultimately owned by Goshawk Aviation Funding Ltd, which I assume links with this aircraft leasing company.
There are two other ‘Pendine Sands’ companies at the same Dublin 2 address, Pendine Sands 4832 Limited and Pendine Sands 39621 Limited.
So many companies using the Pendine name could be pure coincidence. Then again, maybe not.
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
Black Mountains College got a mention in the previous post, since when the Annual Review and Financial Statement has become available on the Companies House website. This new document throws up a number of matters worthy of comment. There are also other issues that need an airing.
IN THE BEGINNING
There are two companies using the Black Mountains College name.
The first, Black Mountains College Ltd, was Incorporated 3 October, 2017, and I suspect it was something of a false start. I say that because it was set up as a private limited company, and it’s now dormant.
The difference being that with the first company the directors would have been fully liable had it gone belly-up, but with the second incarnation the directors can only be made to cough up a maximum of £10 each.
The directors of Black Mountains College Ltd are Dr William Newton-Smith and Ben Rawlence. Newton-Smith is also a director and trustee of the second company, while Rawlence is now CEO.
Potted biographies for the directors/trustees of the Black Mountains College Project can be found on the BMC website. I’ll provide further information as this article develops.
The BMC offers a degree course with a partner university that I can’t find named on the site, but which might be Trinity St David’s of ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson. An institution that has been moving steadily east from Lampeter and Carmarthen so much in recent years that it’s only a matter of time before it crosses the border.
The BMC also offers, “further education vocational training in future skills. We aim to get you ready for a high-tech, low carbon future with skills such as seasonal catering, organic horticulture, coppicing, coding and regenerative farming.”
‘Seasonal catering’ can only mean tourism. God help us!
In a highlighted block we read: “Powys is facing a ‘catastrophic’ risk of a collapse in its working age population. The rural economy is facing several existential threats”.
And yet, Ben Rawlence is right, though I suspect he doesn’t know the reasons.
Powys has been neglected for the whole period of devolution because the Labour Party hates rural areas – where it has little support – and encourages attacks on agriculture, the mainstay of the rural economy, from the eco-warriors and rewilders now rallying to the BMC standard. To complete the picture Powys – like other rural areas of Wales – is filling up with retirees.
Result: A collapse in the working age population of Powys . . . but it doesn’t really matter because there are few jobs! That’s the ‘Welsh Government’s strategy for rural areas – neglect the needs of the indigenous Welsh to facilitate managed economic decline which will be disguised by the indigenes being replaced by a largely non-working population.
The way to improve the situation is to build up an economy creating jobs for local people. This will not be achieved by attracting basket-weavers and organic radish growers who will never be more than self-employed.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
As I mentioned at the top, what prompts this piece is the availability of the latest Annual Review and Financial Statement. Here’s the link again, to help you follow where I’m going. Maybe keep it open in another window.
Let’s start on page 3, under ‘Financial Review’. You’ll read mention of funding from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. This came from the Authority’s Sustainability Fund and totalled £82,500. This was matched with a further £45,000 from the Ashley Family Foundation.
At the very bottom of the page you’ll read of a “large private donation” of £103,000. Perhaps you’ll agree with me that that seems a rather odd amount. Is it a more rounded figure in some other currency, and if so, which currency might that be?
Scrolling down . . .
Top of page 4 tells of £97,000 over two years from the National Lottery Community Fund, People and Places. Plus “several private donations of 5k”. I shall return to this in a moment.
Page 11 reminds us that last year Black Mountains College received a £45,000 grant from the Community Foundation in Wales. This is a funder I’m unfamiliar with, and even after visiting the website I’m still not clear where its money comes from, or how it operates. All I can tell you is that it’s another Englandandwales outfit. (Scotland and Northern Ireland are not covered.)
There’s obviously money coming in, but I was still surprised to see £122,415 spent on “Legal & professional fees”, compared to just £6,040 the previous year. Though I’m sure very little of this would have gone on legal fees.
Part of this sum (plus match funding) went to employ a Communications Director three days a week. Which means that the greater part went on professional fees.
Under ‘Expenditure’ on page 4 we see the likely beneficiary in The Philanthropy Company. Certainly, Black Mountains College gets a mention as a client of the fund-raising Philanthropy Company.
Though for a fledgling organisation with not a lot of cash that is a big outlay. Some might say extravagant.
On the plus side, staff costs soared from £23,890 in 2019 to £105,979 in 2020.
Which is what it’s all about, bringing jobs to Powys . . . but not for locals.
LIFE’S A LOTTERY . . . OR MAYBE NOT!
If you’ve been paying attention then you’ll remember that I told you about £97,000 promised by the National Lottery Community Fund, People and Places.
The reason I’m returning to this is that the Black Mountains College is unusually well connected when it comes to the National Lottery. In fact, of the seven directors/trustees two have Lottery connections – and I don’t mean selling tickets in a corner shop!
Which I find odd, considering that she was there at the start of BMC, on September 7, 2018. As was David Isaac.
In fact, seeing as David Isaac served on the Lottery from 2014 to 2018, and Elizabeth Passey was reappointed for a second term in 2018, they would have served together.
Equally puzzling is that Ms Passey’s BMC bio (scroll down to ‘Trustees’) does not mention her Lottery role.
Almost as if we’re not allowed to see Lottery and BMC together.
I won’t say too much as I’m already knee-deep in solicitors’ letters, but two out of seven directors/trustees having top jobs with the Lottery, and the Lottery then shelling out £97,000 for BMC, with possibly more to come, is food for thought.
Certainly got me thinking.
UPDATE 30.08.2020: A number of comments have drawn our attention to the fact that David Isaac has done very well for himself, very well indeed. Whereas some are homeless, most of us satisfied with one home, the greedy wanting two, but Dai has got three, maybe more. ‘Champagne socialist’, the Daily Mail called him.
The more we learn about Black Mountains College the more obvious it becomes that they’re a bunch of ‘We know best’ poseurs, charlatans and interlopers.
From my executive swivel chair the Black Mountains College looks like a milking machine. A few people, sensing the zeitgeist, have seen a chance to both enhance their reputations in certain circles while also pulling down a bit of moolah.
I certainly don’t believe it started as described by Emma, when, “On a wintry night in 2016, with wind rattling the windows, Ben and his neighbour Owen talked about the frightening future that their young daughters would inherit.”
Makes it sound like they were waiting for Heathcliff and Cathy!
On nights such as that I find the best thing to do is to relax with a glass or twa while listening to Hank Williams singing some particularly soulful numbers, then putting on a good pair of woolly socks and going to bed.
However it started, the Black Mountains College had to be in Wales. After TAN 6 and One Planet Developments, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, and the ‘Welsh Government’ declaring war on farmers, just about every eco-shyster on planet Earth was Googling ‘Wales’.
Go to 7:10 in this video to hear some arrogant interloper named Chris Vernon opine: “There is no reason why Wales couldn’t support several tens of thousands of smallholdings in the open countryside”.
How many, exactly, Chris, 30,000, 50,000? Whose country are we talking about, Chris?
And how many Welsh farming families will have to lose their land to accommodate these tens of thousands of smallholdings? Or, if the smallholdings would be on land that is currently unused, how the hell would that be helping the environment?
If Black Mountains College takes off then Chris Vernon and his ilk will have their mother church. Somewhere ‘safe’ for their kids to be educated. And BMC will attract more Chris Vernons to Wales.
In another contribution Ben Rawlence urges us to ‘decolonise’ this, that and t’other. But it never occurs to the Ben Rawlences of this world that they can be as guilty of colonialist behaviour, especially in Wales, as those on the political right they are so ready to condemn as “threats to the liberal order”.
(Trans: The Orwellian-sounding “threats to the liberal order” means those who won’t submit to the left liberal climate alarmist agenda. Or those who can think for themselves and won’t be dictated to.)
Let’s finish with another rhetorical flourish from Rawlence’s piece in the IWA publication. A paragraph towards the end begins with, “The college of the future cannot be a college on the hill, an ivory tower divorced from its environment.”
Yet that’s exactly what the cult-like Black Mountains College wants to be. And that’s why it must not be funded from the public purse.
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
Envirocolonialism may not be a term you’re familiar with, but I’ve coined it to describe two separate but linked phenomena.
The first of which is companies from outside of Wales building wind farms, wave power installations, and other facilities, that provide few if any jobs for Welsh people and contribute little or nothing to the Welsh economy.
The second is eco-warriors of various hues, including ‘rewilders’, also from outside of Wales, demanding land and funding to put into practice what are often insane schemes working against the interests of Welsh people and their communities. Or simply milking the funding system.
Yet both these forms of envirocolonialism are encouraged by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, which dresses up this exploitation as an economic strategy by which Wales will become prosperous while also saving the planet.
This lie, and the ugly colonialism it disguises, must be exposed and rejected.
‘BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND’
Last week the Guardian told us that the Crown Estate had given permission to a subsidiary of the French oil giant Total for floating wind turbines off the north coast. The English Crown giving a French company the go-ahead in Welsh waters.
One of the Irishmen is also found at Simply Blue Energy (Scotland) Ltd, but the other director is Scottish, with an Edinburgh address. The secretary, though, lives in County Louth, some distance from both The Rebel County and Auld Reekie.
This announcement was soon followed by news of what I take to be a separate development of some 100 turbines. The beneficiary here is RWE Renewables, the German conglomerate. With the the usual flotilla of small companies from over the border following in the giant’s wake.
There will soon be wind turbines off the coast from the border to the Menai Strait. And the benefits for Wales will be counted in a few dozen jobs. Though from what I hear, those already doing the jobs seem to have arrived from a few hundred miles east of Mostyn docks.
But never mind! There may be no Welsh companies involved, and no Welsh jobs, but we can still get a warm glow from sitting in our deck chairs, looking out to sea at hundreds of wind turbines making Wales’ contribution to saving the planet.
A contribution so insignificant that it can be wiped out by just one more coal-fired power station in China or a day’s logging in Amazonia.
RIDING THE WAVE . . . BUT NOT IF YOU’RE WELSH
With wind power being unreliable, the short life span of the turbines, the landscape damage, the killing of birds and bats, and now the increased risks of flooding, public opinion is turning against onshore wind power.
This goes some way to explaining the increase in offshore wind power, such as we looked at in the previous section, and also wave-generated energy.
Which is the cue to introduce another company, one that hasn’t gone through the charade of taking out a Pembrokeshire address.
In fact, it would be odd if Wave Hub had moved to Wales . . . seeing as it’s 100% owned by Cornwall County Council. And before the council took control in November 2017 Wave Hub had been owned by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
According to the linked article, the City Deal will provide £28 million with this “expected to help leverage a further £32 million of public and private funding”. No doubt a sizeable chunk of the remaining £32 million will come from the Welsh public purse.
And what will we get in return?
Research and development will almost certainly be conducted outside of Wales, and we can guarantee that Wales will not see the profits. Which leaves jobs. How many will there be and who’ll be monitoring the situation to ensure that locals get them? Answers: very few; nobody.
So let’s stop deluding ourselves and recognise a rip-off when it’s staring us in the face and twisting our gonads.
Here’s my interpretation of Wave Hub’s move to Wales.
Once it became clear there were to be City deals for Swansea and Cardiff clever minds in London sat down and thought, “OK, so we’re giving the Taffs this money . . . now how do we get back as much of it as possible?”
The Swansea Bay City Deal was signed off in March 2017 by Prime Minister Theresa May. The gestation period would have been at least a year. So let’s see how that fits with the Wave Hub timeline.
Despite having been in existence since December 2011 the accounts for y/e 31 March 2016 show net assets of just £3,638. A company just ticking over, maybe waiting for a project.
March 2017, Swansea Bay City Deal signed off.
November 27, 2017, Cornwall County Council takes control of Wave Hub Ltd. Is this to make it more acceptable to the Welsh public?
September 18, 2019, Piers Basil Guy sets up Guy Energy Ltd. Hoping to make a bit for himself on the side?
June 11, 2020, announcement of £60 million funding for Wave Hub at its ‘Welsh’ operations.
June 11, 2020, elsewhere we read, with no mention of Pembrokeshire: “The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator is being led by Wave Hub in collaboration with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, A&P Group, Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council.
Why the hell are WE, through the Swansea Bay City Deal and the ‘Welsh Government’, funding a project with no Welsh presence beyond a shed in Pembrokeshire? Where are the benefits for Wales?
All the companies listed for Piers Basil Guy are owned by Vattenfall, the Swedish company that has so much influence with the ‘Welsh Government’. A number of the wind farms listed were built on land managed by Natural Resources Wales, an agency of the ‘Welsh Government’. This includes of course the massive Pen y Cymoedd.
Money is being showered on a company that might, or might not, be owned by Cornwall County Council. Either way, it has but the lightest of footprints in Wales and shouldn’t be given a penny until we are assured of tangible benefits.
Finally, is there a connection between Simply Blue (Wave Hub) Ltd and Wave Hub Ltd?
Up at the other end of the country from Pembrokeshire a genuinely Welsh outfit, Menter Môn, also has plans for wave energy, but it is being thwarted by a cat’s paw acting for Natural Resources Wales and the ‘Welsh Government’.
Perhaps what the RSPB and NRW found offensive was, “Morlais is a Menter Môn project which aims to benefit local communities . . .”. That’s not how envirocolonialism works.
Though there has been opposition from other quarters, mainly the Trearddur Bay Sailing Club and the owners of ‘seasonal properties’ at Rhoscolyn. This explains the intervention of the constituency’s Conservative candidate a few weeks before last December’s general election.
She gets out of him what he has perhaps been primed to say – the Morlais project could be bad for tourism. Mmm. Is that a negative any more?
Virginia Crosbie, friend, possibly tenant, of Jake Berry, the Tory MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire. How many properties does Berry now own on Ynys Môn?
Joking aside, let me spell this out quite clearly, for the avoidance of any doubt.
The RSPB would not have objected to this scheme if it had come from a developer viewed more favourably by Natural Resources Wales and the ‘Welsh Government’, neither of which wants to encourage genuinely Welsh initiatives.
TALES OF THE RIVERBANK
For a couple of years now a few people have been urging me to take a peek at the The Wye and Usk Foundation. At first sight, there seems to be nothing to worry about, the Foundation is a body trying to improve rivers and riparian environments. It of course works closely with Natural Resources Wales.
Admittedly, it’s a cross-border organisation, with most of the territory it covers being in Wales but, as is usually the case, with a majority of its trustees from outside.
But then, the more you look at the Wye and Usk Foundation the more the doubts creep in. It can be a little thing, such as this sentence found under ‘Climate Change’, on page 5 of the latest Trustees’ report.
“The summer drought also led to an increase in fodder crops being grown in the Welsh uplands which pose a serious risk to our rivers this winter.”
This is an organisation based in Wales, so why not just say, “uplands”? Using the term “Welsh uplands” makes it sound like an alien, and hostile, area. Something that could have been written by a 12th century Norman chronicler.
And of course, there’s the inference that Welsh farmers harm rivers. Which could have been written by that scourge of Welsh hill farmers, George Monbiot.
“In the west of Britain, the main issue is livestock farming. As dairy and poultry units have consolidated, the manure they produce is greater than the land’s capacity to absorb it. As an agricultural contractor explained to the Welsh government, some farmers are deliberately spreading muck before high rainfall, so that it washes off their fields and into the rivers. A farm adviser told the same inquiry that only 1% of farm slurry stores in Wales meet the regulations.”
Follow the link and you’ll see that the person who made that allegation about farmers deliberately spreading muck before rain was allowed to remain anonymous. (If he or she ever existed.)
In the same article Monbiot also wrote: “The Wye itself is dying at astonishing, heartbreaking speed.” Yet the The Wye Usk Foundation is far more upbeat. But then, Monbiot is a polemicist and a scaremonger, with a strategy to follow.
Basically, Monbiot’s message is: ‘Welsh farmers are bastards, get them off the land and then turn the land over to people like me’.
So, does George Monbiot have links to The Wye and Usk Foundation?
TALGARTH, SEAT OF LEARNING
The Wye and Usk Foundation is based in Talgarth, and among the trustees we find Elizabeth Passey, formerly of US investment bank Morgan Stanley, and now the Big Lottery Fund. Ms Passey is also a trustee of the Black Mountains College Project in Talgarth. Though for some reason Ms Passey’s role with the Big Lottery is not mentioned in her BMC bio, below.
On the BMC website Passey is said to hail “from a corn merchant family on the Welsh borders.” But from Talgarth it’s the English borders. It’s only the ‘Welsh borders’ for people who see Wales through English eyes, or from an anglocentric perspective . . . such as those involved in the Black Mountains College Project.
We see the £75,000 grant last year from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. A fresh grant of £49,036 from Arwain (money taken from farmers in the transfer from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 made by Alun Davies in 2013). Also, £16,750 from the National Lottery Community Fund. For which BMC can no doubt thank Ms Passey.
There are now three full-time employees; and while no one earns more than £60,000 we can be sure that with staff costs of £105,979 there are three people each earning a good screw.
Though I’d love to know why ‘Legal and professional fees’ jumped from £6,040 in 2019 to £122,415 in 2020.
Now we move south west, to the Rhondda, accompanied by Messrs Blake and Ham.
HONEST RIP-OFF OR PATERNALISM?
As any self-respecting crow will tell you, the distance between the hill station of Talgarth and the native settlement of Treherbert is just over 20 miles. Though they can appear to be much further apart.
“A former mining village has been awarded nearly £250,000 to develop Wales’ first community ownership project.
The Skyline project wants to take charge of about 1.5 sq miles (4 sq km) of forestry around Treherbert, Rhondda Cynon Taff.
It wants to create jobs in forestry and provide timber for affordable homes.
It also hopes to open up space to grow vegetables and encourage use of the woods for education and leisure.
The money will be used to develop the ideas with the hope of getting up to £2.5m from the National Lottery climate action fund to put their plans into action.”
There is clearly local enthusiasm, but who’s running the show, and what are their ultimate intentions?
We see mention of the Skyline project. I visited the Skyline website, where I found this video of an event held in Cardiff on May 1, 2019.
We hear Chris Blake, because Skyline is run by his Green Valleys company from Talgarth.
We also hear from Ian Thomas who, despite the name, does not sound as if he’s from round by ‘ere. He represents the ‘social enterprise’ Welcome to our Woods. In big type the home page of the Welcome to our Woods website tells us: “We are a community partnership in the Upper Rhondda Fawr, South Wales Valleys UK.”
‘South Wales Valleys UK’! Yet again, that ‘outsider’ phrasing.
WTOW Ltd is a company that has been going since 7 November 2014. Ceri Nicholas, a local who features prominently in the video below, was in at the start, but ceased to be a director in March this year. Why leave when things are about to take off?
Apart from Ian Thomas the directors are Simone Jayne Devinett of the Rhondda Housing Association; and Phillip John Vickery, who used to work for Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services and uses a Haverfordwest address.
In the video, locals are given bit parts, but at 2:04 we meet Sonya Bedford, introduced as ‘Head of Energy Stephen Scown Solicitors’. The name is in fact Stephens Scown, and it’s based in Devon. What the hell is she doing there?
The trip to Scotland is revealing, if only for the kind of people they met up there.
All the talk of growing vegetables, and living in cheap, timber housing suggests One Planet Developments. Which only adds to the feeling that this Rhondda project might simply be using locals to further the ends of a select group of outsiders.
People who are largely unemployable in the real world, whose companies are unviable, but who survive through political patronage, public funding, and of course Lottery funding. Which is where Elizabeth Passey of the National Lottery will come in handy.
To complete the picture of a scam being run by outsiders, for outsiders, the BBC was kind enough to tell us that the project manager is Melanie Newton.
If that name rings a bell it’s because Melanie was, until very recently, CEO of Summit to Sea, with which George Monbiot and others were deeply involved. This was an attempt to take over a vast area inland and north of Aberystwyth, evict the farmers, plant millions of trees, and introduce all sorts of exotic animals.
Those involved in this population replacement scheme were encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’s threat to use Brexit as a weapon against farmers. Explicit in Brexit and our land. In fact, the ‘rewilders’ probably influenced the writing of the document.
One obvious channel of influence would have been ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty, advisor to and lover of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. Gary hates farmers. So do too many of the civil servants advising that shower in Corruption Bay.
So maybe the people of the Rhondda should worry that the real plan may be to get rid of them, forest the valley floor, and bring in lynx, beaver, and God knows what else. Because Melanie has form, and so do some of the others involved.
The Valleys Regional Park seems to be one of the Labour Party’s periodic attempts to convince Valleys’ voters that they aren’t being taken for granted. The document is page after page of what Monbiot imagined he saw in the Wye, though not without black humour.
Extolling the natural beauty of the Valleys, on page 14 we see:
Fitting, because Davies’ partner is Anna McMorrin. She has been mentioned a few times on this blog, lobbying for London investors wanting to despoil Powys with wind turbines. She’s been the Labour MP for Cardiff North since the June 2017 general election.
And talking of the Labour Party, Melanie Newton is a staunch supporter, if not a card-carrying member.
Connections. Connections. Connections.
TOMORROW BELONGS TO THEM?
What I’ve described here is not sincere people saving the environment of Wales for the Welsh but a network of ruthless grant-grabbers and would-be colonists trying to take it from us. Which means that at every opportunity Welsh people, and especially farmers – because they hold so much land – must be demonised.
This explains the borderline racism about ‘upland Welsh’ from the Wye and Usk Foundation, and the anonymous ‘sources’ quoted by George Monbiot.
The environment of Wales is being saved by and for more enlightened and superior people. Reminiscent of the Nazi’s idea for removing lesser races from conquered territories in the east and reintroducing (even back breeding) lost species such as the Auroch.
“Lutz began calling for the transformation of newly conquered lands in the east in order to recreate the primordial forest described in the epic Germanic poem Nibelungenlied. Lutz and Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and president of the Reichstag, became friends and went hunting in traditional dress and armed with spears to try and recreate the heroism of ancient German mythology.”
I’m not suggesting that the rewilders plan ‘Beowulf weekends’, where blond and hearty computer programmers from Solihull roam newly-forested hills dressed as Anglo-Saxon warriors before retiring to the Hall for a saga, a skinfull of ale, and a bit of wenching.
But who knows?
This colonialist approach to rewilding goes hand in hand with Wales making such a disproportionate contribution to ‘saving the planet’ that Lesley Griffiths adopts the persona of a madam greeting punters: “Ev’nin’, ducky, which bit of Wales would you like to have your way with?”
Of course we must protect the Welsh environment, and sensibly increase the use of renewable and clean energies. But this must be done in the interests of Wales; not by using climate change to cloak exploitation, or to promote a form of conservation that is paternalistic colonialism flirting with ethnic cleansing.