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.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
Yes, I promised there wouldn’t be anything until next Monday, but something came up and I thought, ‘Why not?’ And seeing as I’m spoiling you, next week’s offering might now be later than I’d promised.
You can have too much of a good thing!
ESCAPEES ON THE DYFI
This story starts with a report on the North Wales Live website of beavers in Afon Dyfi. A similar report appeared in the Western Mail yesterday. These beavers shouldn’t be there, of course, but they are, and no one seems to know who put them there!
Which could happen, I suppose. Anyone can walk into a pet shop and buy a mating pair of beavers . . . then mislay them somewhere near Machynlleth. It must happen all the time.
Another area being targeted by beaver lovers is in Carmarthenshire, where we find the Bevis Trust. The website tells us that the Trust, ” . . . manage wildlife on our 300 acre farm in Carmarthenshire and on other farms in the south west of Wales.”
Are we dealing here with a Welsh farming family wishing to reintroduce species that have not been found in Wales for centuries?
No prizes for guessing the answer to that question, for we are now in the murky world of ‘rewilding’.
Companies House tells us that the Bevis Trust for Wildlife Management is based at Penllynin Farm, west of Carmarthen. Seemingly run by Dr Nicholas Christopher Fox and the woman I take to be his Swedish wife, Barbro Ingrid Margareta.
Financially, the most recent ‘Micro company’ accounts (y/e 31.12.2018) give fixed assets of £444,733 (the farm?), but a negative figure for ‘total net assets’. This being accounted for by ‘current liabilities’.
I wondered who owns the farm, but when I tried my luck on the Land Registry website I found that Penllynin farm is not registered. Which is odd. Has it recently changed hands, with perhaps new ownership details being processed, or is someone trying to hide something?
Though there are two charges against the company. One seems to be a bank loan for the purchase of Vowley farm, near Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire. The farm probably contributes most of the £2,320,764 in fixed assets. There is also a newly-minted Vowley Management Company Ltd.
With almost six million pounds of ‘assets’ accounted for by ‘debtors’. Who might they be? On page 7 of the latest accounts we read:
So – and not for the first time – we are dealing with linked or interlocking companies with money passing between them. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s what.
Wingbeat Ltd has “the same ultimate controlling party”. It never seems to have traded, with the one-time assets made up almost entirely of stocks, and the latest accounts showing a negative value of over one million pounds, accounted for by ‘creditors’. Presumably other Fox companies.
The other company mentioned in the capture above is Mickelbo Ltd, which is rather interesting. Not least because from its Incorporation in December 2003 until February 2007 it was known as International Wildlife Consultants Ltd.
I referred to money passing between the various companies owned by Nicholas and Barbro Fox. Go back to the 2004 accounts for Mickelbo Ltd (then International Wildlife Consultants Ltd) and you’ll read, in the final entry:
It was the same in the following year’s accounts. Charging their company for use of their land. All perfectly legal.
The change of company name in 2007 is due to the complete change in business, from a wildlife consultancy to a buy-to-rent landlord. This explains 40 outstanding mortgages. A number of these mortgages refer to properties in Carmarthen, Whitland, St Clears.
All 100 shares in Mickelbo are owned by International Wildlife Consultants (UK) Ltd. Which is why we can read this in the latest Mickelbo accounts:
Let’s recap. A couple of strangers decide Wales looks attractive. They start buying up land and property – then they rent it back to us! They have created not a single job. They now want permission to release beavers into Welsh rivers.
Because they’re curious to see what will happen. But unconcerned about the damage these animals might cause, and the livelihoods and leisure activities they could harm.
MONEY ON THE WING
In addition to beavers the Foxes are also interested in hawks. As we see with The Festival of Falconry and The Falconry Heritage Trust. We find other directors at these two charities, with an eclectic collection at the second representing China, Italy, USA, Japan, Netherlands, Belgium and Mongolia. (There is of course no Welsh involvement.)
The Festival of Falconry is filing as a dormant company with debts of £1,587. The Falconry Heritage Trust is in much better financing shape, thanks to . . .
This grant seems to have been sat on for a decade and explains the bulk of the one and half million pounds currently in the kitty.
The donor, “Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, colloquially known by his initials as MBZ, is the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces”.
His official biography paints him as a liberal; no mention of chopped-up journalists or adulterers being stoned to death. But then, in the Gulf, these considerations are relative.
Compared to Hitler and Stalin Mussolini looked almost cuddly.
Though going through The Falconry Heritage Trust accounts I was surprised to read, “Dr N Fox, a trustee of the charity, is a director and shareholder of International Wildlife Consultants Ltd”.
This was the previous name for Mickelbo, the new company has ‘(UK)’ in the name. Can’t they keep up with their own name changes?
So, we know there are beavers in the Dyfi, the Foxes want them in Carmarthenshire, while in Llandrindod we find yet another group with beavers straining at the leash. (Or however beavers express their deep yearning for liberty.)
From WTW we learn there is a single Trust for the whole of the north, another for ‘south and west Wales’, a third for Gwent; but instead of there being one for Powys, ‘Brecknock’, Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire have one each.
Now you might expect an organisation representing Welsh wildlife bodies to be located somewhere rural . . . but you’d be wrong. The registered office for Wildlife Trusts Wales is in Mount Stuart Square, in the black heart of Corruption Bay.
For Wildlife Trusts Wales is as much about lobbying politicians and influencing civil servants as it is about protecting wildlife. And of course, ensuring a steady flow of public moolah to create jobs . . . to employ people to lobby . . .
Just like George Monbiot and his Summit to Sea gang of ‘rewilders’, the WTW sees Brexit as a great opportunity. That’s because the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ will in future control the agricultural purse-strings. (Unless Westminster takes back that power.)
Just like the Monbiot gang the ‘Beavers Everywhere!’ crew believe they can persuade the ‘Welsh Government’ to re-label and divert farm payments to them.
It’s spelled out quite brazenly in the most recent annual report (top of page 2). We read that the ‘Welsh Government’ being in control of farm funding represents, “Significant opportunity to influence future payments”.
And the enviro-colonists of WTW have every right to be optimistic. For the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs is Lesley Griffiths, who is shacked up with ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty. He belongs to a clique of civil servants believing that all farmers – but especially Welsh farmers – are absolute bastards, and should be cleared off the land.
‘BEAVERS, WHAT BEAVERS?’
It seems clear that the runaway – swimaway? – beavers on the Dyfi have been there for a few years . . . without anyone doing anything about it. The agency that should have been taking an interest is Natural Resources Wales.
Now you know me, I don’t like twisting the knife, but NRW has not had a good press of late. Most memorably with the timber sales, something that was never properly explained. But that’s Wales – a colony run by a corrupt management team with neither an effective political opposition nor a media to hold it to account.
Deposed NRW chair, Diane McCrea, entered the revolving door from which popped her replacement Sir David Henshaw, who was, ” . . . born and bred in Liverpool”, but has “lived in North Wales for a number of years”. So he knows Wales like the back of his hand.
Then there’s CEO Clare Pillman who, in a different role, played her part in inflicting HMP Berwyn on us.
Though while the majority of the members are imports, there is also Geraint Davies described – because he’s the only one – as a “fluent Welsh speaker”. (Being a mere native, Geraint of course comes at the bottom of the list.)
At NAAONB we find office manager Amber Carter. Amber previously worked for Wildlife Trusts Wales and Environment Wales (the forerunner to Natural Resources Wales).
Did I say cosy? It’s positively incestuous!
Another who caught my eye was Chris Blake, for he is also involved with the Simon and Garfunkel tribute act at the putative Black Mountains College. An institution that provides “planet-centric education”. So there!
I wrote about them here and here. (You will need to scroll down.)
His brief bio on the BMC website tells us that Blake is a director of Green Valleys CIC .
Unfortunately, administrative expenses took £178,338, and the bottom line, with everything taken into account, was a deficit for the year of £235,023. Bank loans and overdrafts accounting for £120,000 of that.
Making me wonder if any green energy companies make money. Would any of them survive without grants and other hand-outs?
Another member of the NRW Board worthy of mention is Dr Elizabeth Haywood, aka Mrs Peter Hain. Because for a woman with not a democratically cast vote to her name she plays a worryingly influential role in Welsh political and public life.
“Purely advisory roles, surely, Jac?”
Mmm. But when you consider how lazy and useless the Labour politicos of Corruption Bay are, and the fact that she’s the wife of a party heavyweight who outranks them all, then Haywood’s ‘advice’ will go a long way to determining policy.
Such as her Task and Finish Group into City Regions concluding that the best future for our north east is to be taken over and integrated with the north west of England.
I could understand ‘advice’ like that coming from the English side of the border – “Let us take over Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire for overspill housing in order to protect property values in Cheshire”, but from the Welsh side it sounds like surrender.
Or, more likely, it’s just stating the English position in a way that’s supposed to make it more palatable. It happens all the time.
As I said at the top of this section, I introduced Natural Resources Wales because it is the agency that should have taken action when it became known that beavers had been illegally released into the Dyfi catchment area.
A couple of days ago I put out a tweet that was answered by NRW and then taken up by @Cynfab3 who seems to know about the Dyfi beavers. The responses from NRW tell me they aren’t interested in taking any action.
To cover their own negligence NRW even tries to pass the buck to Dyfed Powys Police!
JAC AND THE BEAVERS
So what is the considered opinion of this august blog towards our furry, flapper-tailed friends?
Let me make it quite clear that I have nothing against beavers. They’ve done me no harm. So, in principle, I would have no real objection to them being reintroduced into Welsh rivers.
But that’s not the point is it?
My objection is based on the fact that this scheming – and law-breaking – is being done by alien groups with an unhealthy influence over civil servants and politicians, the latter elected to serve the Welsh interest. And being done against the wishes of those whose opinions should be paramount and decisive – the local, Welsh population.
Which makes this latest furore contemporary Wales in a nutshell, where everyone’s interests are catered for, except us Welsh. Where you only have to scream “climate change” loudly enough to get what you want.
Resulting in Wales filling up with bullshitters and shysters who spend their time attending conferences, making self-promoting videos, lobbying politicians, milking the public purse – and contributing sod all to the health or wealth of the nation.
Simply creating conditions where you can – quite literally – throw up a shack in open country, just as long as you claim it’s a One Planet Development saving us from global warming. As this recent FoI response makes clear.
Nobody in officialdom cared about this unauthorised OPD, just as nobody cares about the unlawful release of beavers into the Dyfi because the authors are people with names like Guy and Cassandra rather than Gwilym and Cerys.
Am I exaggerating?
As I write, we have tourists dumping rubbish everywhere, blocking roads; Welsh communities are being destroyed by holiday homes and colonisation, yet the ‘Welsh Government’ prefers to sit on its hands, serving the interests of an alien and genocidal tourism industry.
We need a fresh intake of politicians to Corruption Bay prepared to prioritise Welsh interests. Make it happen next year!
After technical difficulties I’m delighted to report that my computer is now running again. Though with nothing prepared I won’t publish just for the sake of getting something out this week. Instead, I shall work on an idea for next Monday, August 24th.
The theme I shall be exploring is the role played – or not played – by our ‘Welsh Parliament’ as Wales is increasingly exploited, anglicised and assimilated into England. For example, by refusing to take the machete to the housing jungle, as Wrecsam becomes ‘West Cheshire’, Newport an outer suburb of Bristol, and rural communities are destroyed by tourism and holiday homes.
I have long argued that this is due to a trade-off between Tory governments in London and Labour administrations in Corruption Bay that sees the latter willingly implement the policies of the former in return for being allowed to run Wales as a one-party crony state.
‘Surely not’! you cry. Take my word for it, good people.
For some years now the big worry for London has been the SNP threatening the very survival of the UK. Recent opinion polls have caused something close to panic in the imperial capital. To avoid the ‘poison’ spreading to Wales the two major Unionist parties will forget their differences to co-operate. In fact, they’ve been co-operating for a while.
Given that the ‘Welsh Parliament’ serves only England’s and Labour’s interests the name is obviously a misnomer. It is not our parliament because it does not serve Welsh interests.
And yet . . . it has a certain value. For example, as a distraction; confusing too many of us who aren’t sure who to blame when things go wrong. Worse, some who really should know better are strangely comforted by the ‘Welsh Parliament’ just being there.
So the working title for next Monday’s piece is ‘Wales’ placebo parliament’.
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
In November 2018 I published Corruption in the Wind? I suggest you read it to get the background to what’s written here. You might notice that for this report I’ve dropped the question mark used in the original piece.
That earlier piece (plus updates) was about Hendy wind farm south of the hamlet of Llandegley, which is a few miles east of Llandrindod, and just off the A44.
The planning application was rejected by the council in May 2017. There was an appeal by the developers, and the council’s decision was upheld by a Planning Inspector in May 2018.
That seemed to be the end of the matter.
But, then, in October 2018, Lesley Griffiths, the ‘Welsh Government’s Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, suddenly and unexpectedly overturned that decision.
This led to developers cutting all sorts of corners in their rush to get one turbine erected before the end of January 2019, in order to beat OFGEM’s accreditation deadline for onshore wind subsidy hand-outs.
THE STORY SO FAR . . .
As Julie Andrews trilled in The Sound of Music – a movie I manage to avoid every Christmas! – “Let’s start at the very beginning”.
Development Securities (No 71) Ltd was the original name of Hendy Wind Farm Ltd until April 2012; so you have to wonder what it had been doing in the 27 months between the name change and submitting the planning application.
In fact, companies changing or exchanging names is quite common among those we’re dealing with. Why do they do it? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Though confusing the curious must be one possibility.
Here’s a table I’ve put together in which I try to show, in chronological order, when various individuals and companies became involved. You will probably find it easier to use the pdf version with the company names serving as hyperlinks.
In addition to the web of interlinked companies I mention here, also involved are companies under the Parabola banner, also based at 20 Primrose Street, London. But there are so many others . . . It really is a maze.
Those I mentioned in the original piece seem to have been joined recently by a new set of players. As if one team has been responsible for getting planning permission and now, that achieved, another team will take over.
That is certainly what is suggested on page 6 of the Annual Report for the U + I Group. Where we see that Hendy Wind Farm is lined up for sale. You’ll also see Rhoscrowther wind farm mentioned. Which is strange.
Originally there were three wind farms planned by U + I, each with its own company. (All covered in ‘Corruption in the wind?’) Bryn Blaen, near Llangurig, went ahead relatively straightforwardly, and has now been sold. Hendy you’re reading about here, and then there was Rhoscrowther.
Rhoscrowther wind farm was planned for the Milford Haven Waterway. The county council vetoed it, a planning inspector agreed, ‘Welsh Government’ accepted that decision, and it even went as far as a High Court hearing when the investors wouldn’t accept those decisions.
My understanding is that the Rhoscrowther project is dead. So why does it appear as an ongoing project in U + I’s annual report? Which appears to suggest that the application will be submitted again. But why expect a different outcome? Do those involved know something we don’t?
Quite obviously, U + I cannot maximise its profit from Hendy until the sale is completed, and for that to happen there are still a couple of hurdles to overcome. With niceties to be observed.
A recent letter from Steven Radford to the County Council asks for some irksome conditions to be lifted. Specifically, Condition 38 of the planning permission, which relates to bats and birds. The council of course agreed, with worrying alacrity.
A remarkable document this. Tantamount to a wind farm developer admitting that wind turbines kill birds and bats, something that’s usually denied.
ENTER ANEURIN GLYNDŴR, IN MOOD POSITIF
For those of you for whom Aneurin Glyndŵr means nothing, let me explain . . .
Back in the early part of 2009 a bright lad in the Labour Party launched a website attacking his party’s political opponents. The site’s name cleverly linking the names of Labour icon Aneurin Bevan and national hero Owain Glyndŵr. As background music it even employed Tom Jones’s Delilah.
How we laughed!
But it all came unstuck and caused the bruvvers considerable embarrassment. First Minister Rhodri Morgan was particularly irked because Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones had been portrayed as a clown. In normal circumstances this wouldn’t have mattered, but Labour was in coalition with Plaid Cymru at the time.
In the first article I linked to you’ll see mention of Peter Hain and Alun Davies. Taylor had worked as an advisor to Hain when that Son of Africa was Secretary of State for Wales. While I’m not aware of any connection between Davies and Taylor, Anna McMorrin, Davies’s partner, had been a lobbyist working for those behind Hendy and other wind farms.
She’s mentioned in my spreadsheet thingy in April 2017.
In 2016 Taylor stood for the post of North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, losing out in the second round to the Plaid Cymru candidate Arfon Jones. These PCC elections were held at the same time as the elections for the Welsh Assembly and here’s a picture of Taylor out canvassing for . . . well, bless me! – he’s canvassing for Lesley Griffiths, who shocked us all by giving Hendy Wind Farm Ltd planning permission in October 2018.
So maybe it’s no surprise to learn that Taylor now has his snout in the wind farm trough. Where he acts as path-smoother for developers.
Those involved in the campaign to protect this beautiful area tell me that Taylor is now handling ‘community liaison’ for the developers . . . but there’s little or no liaising. Yet somehow reports are still submitted!
Taylor is also said to be busy trying to revive the Rhoscrowther project. Who would he need to influence to achieve that?
Whatever he’s doing, the network of interlinked and shape-shifting companies he’s involved with seem to value his contribution enough to have let him join the gang at Grayling Capital LLP.
I’m sure his new friends have high hopes for David James Taylor, because they plan more wind farms and other developments in Wales.
Another Labour insider now involved is Daran Hill of lobbyists Positif.
This company is acting on behalf of Grayling Capital – where David Taylor is a (non-designated) member – and Bute Energy Ltd, a company set up earlier this year and owned by Windward Enterprises Ltd, the company in which Taylor has shares.
To give you a flavour of the interconnectedness I’ve referred to, Windward Enterprises is owned by Windward Global Ltd, and all shares in Windward Global are held – at the time of writing! – by Oliver James Millican.
Millican is one of the new boys on the block. He is invariably accompanied by Lawson Douglas Steele and Stuart Allan George. They either use the Primrose Street address in London, or the New Town address of the Edinburgh Solicitors’ Property Centre Ltd.
I suggest that this Scottish involvement may have brought with it a better understanding of devolution, and an appreciation of the need for contacts with influence at the highest local level.
Which would of course explain the involvement of McMorrin, Taylor and Hill.
I contacted Daran Hill by Twitter DM yesterday, hoping he’d contribute, but he seemed a bit, well, guarded. And when I asked if he had contact details for David Taylor, his reply surprised me.
Why would Taylor need a lobbying firm?
Though Taylor and Hill have known each other for a while. Taylor had a company called Leckwith Ltd, which he’d formed in November 2011. On 1 January 2018 Taylor left and Hill arrived. The company was dissolved 5 February 2019.
A company not much more than a shell, so I can’t understand why Taylor didn’t just go for voluntary liquidation. Does it look better on his record that somebody took it over?
Another, rather bizarre connection, between Taylor, Hill and Lesley Griffiths is the late Carl Sargeant, who committed suicide in November 2017, shortly after being sacked as Secretary for Communities and Children.
All seemed to take the anti-Carwyn Jones line following Sargeant’s death. Though Griffiths was kept on, and even took over Sargeant’s post, which might be interpreted as accepting a proffered olive branch.
Lesley Griffiths over-ruled the planning inspector in October 2018 even though nothing had changed in the five months since the planning inspector delivered his judgement – which Griffiths had accepted.
So why did Lesley Griffiths do it?
Maybe the investors hoping to make millions from Hendy wind farm lobbied friends in London. This resulted in Griffiths being ‘leaned on’.
Then again, maybe the lobbying, and the ‘leaning’, was done in Wales.
Wherever it was done, the developers knew what was going to happen, and this explains why they were on site three days before Lesley Griffiths wrote to the developers’ solicitor to tell him she’d decided to over-rule the planning inspector.
Anyone arguing that I’m wrong about the lobbying should come up with a plausible explanation for Lesley Griffiths’ intervention, and for the prescient surveyors.
She certainly didn’t wake suddenly one night and shout, “Gary, love, I’ve had a vision, and a voice said to me . . . “.
No, she was wide awake, and the voices she heard were more familiar to her.
Hendy wind farm isn’t the end of the story. It’s not the end of anything. It could even mark the start of Wales sinking to new lows of corruption, that will see companies from outside the country use local influencers to get their way and screw the rest of us.
“The Welsh Labour establishment recruits networked left-wing careerists. Of their 29 AMs, 24% worked on the party payroll (as Labour advisers or staffers), 21% worked for third sector organisations, 21% worked in the media and 14% worked for trade unions or a union-affiliated law firm before being selected. Only two fifths of Welsh Labour AMs did not work in professional politics or associated sectors.”
Which is music to the ears of those Taylor and Hill now work for, because the new boys from Yr Hen Ogledd, have further plans for Wales. They formed three new companies as recently as 29/30 April.
Take a look at the companies and individuals involved at Hendy, Pen y Cymoedd and other wind farms. The only Welsh beneficiaries seem to be Labour Party insiders like Anna McMorrin, David Taylor, and Daran Hill. Possibly Lesley Griffiths.
And of course, the landowners. For wind turbines are to energy generation what caravan parks are to tourism – they provide no jobs, they put little money into the local economy, and the only real beneficiaries are the landowners who have the turbines or caravans on their land.
Which exposes Labour’s position, yet again, as vacuous, virtue-signalling bollocks.
THE BIT AT THE END WHERE JAC GOES OFF ON ONE
Certain persons in London long ago decided that Wales would take an unfair and disproportionate number of wind turbines in order to protect the vistas of the New Jerusalem.
Taffy doffed his cap, shuffled his feet, and mumbled, “Oh! tidy, mun.” For this diktat could be repackaged as saving the planet. With more sugar added to the pill by promising jobs and community benefits, with free rides for children and pensioners – as outlined in ‘Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition’.
I suggest that because covering Wales with wind turbines was a gift for a party with no economic strategy beyond throwing money at shysters while integrating eastern parts of the country with adjoining areas of England and encouraging tourism to ethnically cleanse areas further west.
All that was needed then to implement the cunning plan was persuadable landowners and complaisant councillors. Wales has never lacked for either.
The hypocrisy and deceit is further exposed by wind turbines creating no jobs beyond the construction stage, and the ‘community benefits’ being restricted to hand-outs from the foreign companies making the profits. (With Labour Party loyalists often deciding who gets these crumbs.)
Which leads me to conclude that the ‘progressive’ consensus in Corruption Bay has done more for the City of London than for the city of Swansea . . . and most other parts of Wales. It takes the likes of Johnson, Cummings and Hancock to make them look remotely competent.
Time is up for the Labour Party and its little helpers. Make sure you give them the message in next year’s election. Wales deserves better.
But even before then, Lesley Griffiths’ position is now untenable.
♦ end ♦
Finally, thanks to the wonderful people in Powys who are fighting these bird slicing, bat dicing, flood causing monsters that despoil our environment so as to protect someone else’s and allow charlatan politicos and their cronies to enjoy their parasitic existence.
I’m sorry I wasn’t able to use everything you sent me. Special thanks, and apologies, to ‘A’ for the photos sent late last night. I’m afraid I’d already finished the article.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I’m taking a break from the con men, fraudsters and assorted crooks who figure regularly here. But I’m not moving far, because this week I’m focusing on tourism operators, politicians and others who themselves have but a nodding acquaintance with the truth.
THE STORM BREAKS
One of the benefits of coronavirus and lockdown was the absence of tourists, and the joyous consequences of that absence. Such as much less traffic on our rural roads, fewer call-outs for our emergency services, and in all manner of ways making rural and coastal areas of Wales more pleasant for those who live there all year round.
Making recent months seem even more of a lost golden age has been the irruption of noisy, stupid and irresponsible tourists since lockdown was eased by our self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, bowing to pressure from the Conservative and Unionist Party and tourism operators.
There has inevitably been a reaction from local people to the return of the tourists in what have been, literally, overwhelming numbers. What you see below was the scene two weeks ago near Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).
Much of the anger this has generated is directed at motorists, with many photos in print and online of inconsiderately parked cars. Which allowed some to argue that all would be well if we had bigger car parks to accommodate all the vehicles. Or even park and ride schemes.
Both of which ignore the real problem – many areas get more cars than the local road system can handle, and more people than the environment can cope with. I shall return to the environmental angle later.
Let’s also remember that the problems caused by tourism go way beyond traffic issues.
Here’s a two-page spread from last Wednesday’s Llais y Sais, in which we read Councillor Gareth Thomas, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Head of Economical Development, opine that, despite the recent problems, tourism, “provides high quality jobs for local people as well as supporting the county’s environment, language, culture and destinations”.
I don’t know Gareth Thomas, he might be a great bloke, but anyone saying that tourism provides high quality jobs, and that it also supports the area’s environment, language and culture is talking absolute nonsense.
Yesterday’s Daily Post carried what might have been an attempt to retrieve the situation. (With first minister Drakeford not ruling out a tourism tax . . . sort of.) But did council leader Dyfrig Siencyn really say, as he is quoted: ” . . . our rural economy is totally dependent on the tourism industry”?
A fuller version of this article may have appeared in Llais y Sais, Read it here.
Perhaps hoping to establish its own credentials vis-à-vis tourism opposition group Llais Gwynedd also weighed in. For those unfamiliar with Llais Gwynedd (which has 6 councillors), it sees itself as perhaps more radical than Plaid Cymru, more rooted in the local communities of Gwynedd.
What’s more, it would not serve as a deterrent. And we need some kind of deterrent to reduce the numbers coming to areas like our national parks and other ‘honey pots’. To cover the costs mentioned, and put a decent amount into the communities affected, the charge would need to be a minimum of £10 a head.
In a Daily Post poll, more than 70% of respondents agreed there should be a charge.
Opposing Councillor Daniels’ suggestion to charge hikers was Brân Devey, of Ramblers Cymru, with a remark I found rather puzzling: “Local people will not go up Snowdon really in the summer, it is too busy”.
Is he saying we shouldn’t charge the people overcrowding Yr Wyddfa in summer because they’re not locals?
‘Ramblers Cymru’ is worth a little detour.
You will remember that ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson, Minister for Hippies in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition 2007 – 2011, and midwife of One Planet Developments, was also Welsh vice-president of The Ramblers before stepping down in 2007, and then, as grough tells us, she rejoined as president when she departed Corruption Bay in 2011.
But of course she shunned The Ramblers, and the ramblers, while she was a minister.
For some reason this second stint with The Ramblers is not mentioned in Davidson’s Wikipedia entry. (By the time you read it the page might have been re-written, again.)
Though it’s difficult to make out if there really is a group called Ramblers Cymru or, as the grough article I just linked to puts it, Davidson became “president of the Ramblers in Wales”.
The website, https://www.ramblers.org.uk/wales, suggests another Englandandwales organisation, for when you click ‘Home’ on the Wales page you go back to the UK site.
Which is appropriate, for most of those working for Ramblers Cymru have moved here to do jobs that are clearly beyond the abilities of Welsh people. Mainly women of the type who have flooded into Wales since devolution to run the hundreds of third sector bodies that the ‘progressive’ parties feel we can’t do without.
One, Maria Hamlett, says: “My background includes working in numerous third sector organisations in key governance roles”. While Amanda Hill has: “15 years experience working for Worcestershire County Council”. Rebecca Brough: “I have a background in policy influencing work in the governmental, charity and statutory sectors”.
Important points there. For the staff at Ramblers Cymru don’t restrict themselves to scolding a wicked farmer for leaving Berwyn the bull on the footpath, they also seek to influence policy-makers. Just as Jane Davidson did, before, during, and after her stint as a minister.
The people I’m describing do not represent – nor do they seek to represent – our interests. If Welsh interests are served then it’s entirely accidental or tangential. ‘Ramblers Cymru’ and similar organisations seek to curate (love that word!) our homeland for the benefit of others like themselves.
We have far too many colonialist organisations like ‘Ramblers Cymru’.
Dontcha just love the term, ‘our land’. Another example of, ‘What’s yours is ours’.
The Ramblers merit this digression because they see Wales as an area for recreation. For them Wales is not a different country; where people witness their language and identity, the country itself, being destroyed by saturation tourism.
What should also make you angry is that these memsahibs, based on Cathedral Road (ideal for rambling), and others just like them, have more influence in Corruption Bay than we poor natives will ever have.
WHAT THE POLITICIANS SAY
That ‘our’ politicians go along with ‘Playground Wales’ is easily explained.
The Labour Party, which has managed Wales since 1999, is an urban party with little concern for rural areas. Labour has no coherent economic plan for the countryside so pretending there is a ‘strategy for tourism’ is a useful way of disguising this inadequacy.
The truth is that tourism is unregulated; it just ‘happens’, and things would carry on in much the same way if the ‘Welsh Government’ fell into a wormhole and reappeared in some distant galaxy. (Stop dreaming!) Making bodies like Visit Wales little more than bystanders, pretending they do something more than organise beanos where they hand out awards and grants.
One of the few things to be said in its favour is that tourism reveals the inconsistency, if not the hypocrisy, of the Labour Party.
Wales must be covered in wind turbines to save the planet, says Labour. For the same reason, OPDs must be allowed to impose their carbon footprint on previously unused land. Yet when our environment is trashed by tourist hordes on a regular basis Labour politicians are blind to the environmental damage!
Another example of Labour’s hypocrisy might be promoting renewable energy, saving the planet, and worrying about the underprivileged . . . while giving millions of pounds to Aston Martin to build £200,000 cars doing 12 miles to the gallon.
The ‘Welsh Government’s declaration of a climate emergency is just bullshit to explain away Wales being lumbered with the wind turbines English communities refuse to accept, and having to accommodate Jane Davidson’s friends.
The Conservative and Unionist Party (plus the fringe BritNats) will support tourism because they will never object to anything that both anglicises Wales and keeps money flowing back to England from staycations in Wales.
Blind, unthinking loyalty to tourism probably explains the comment, quoted in the North Wales Pioneer, from Darren Millar, the MS for Clwyd West, addressing Glyn Daniels’ pound a head suggestion. In Millar’s view, “This is a bad idea. Every pound charged will be a pound less for people to spend in the local economy”.
If Darren Millar had thought before speaking he’d have realised that every pound charged would be guaranteed to stay in the locality, unlike money taken in other ways.
What’s more, those who drive to Yr Wyddfa – to park here, there and everywhere – are often day-trippers, from Greater Manchester, Merseyside and towns nearby. Some will arrive having filled the fuel tank before leaving England, bring a packed lunch, and go home without spending a penny!
For the environmental damage alone, these buggers should be charged £20 a head.
While Plaid Cymru . . . well, what can I say? Plaid Cymru nowadays doesn’t give much thought to Wales. They’re too busy facing up to the fascist hordes they see advancing, outing terfs on social media, and planning more dirty tricks against Neil McEvoy.
Though maybe it’s best they stay schtum, because when they do address the subject – as we’ve seen with Gareth Thomas – they only confirm that they’ve lost the plot.
Whenever a political party, or a politician, says, ‘Wales needs tourism’ they are either lying or exposing their ignorance. The truth is only arrived at by reversing the phrase to read, ‘Tourism needs Wales’.
To conclude this section on a more optimistic note, Wales has two new political parties – Gwlad and the WNP – who I’m sure will take a more analytical, and patriotic, approach to tourism.
I expect both to demand a form of tourism that works for Wales, and the Welsh. Rather than what we suffer at present – an alien enterprise with Welsh people nothing but helpless bystanders as their country is trashed.
MAKING TOURISM WORK FOR US
Let me set out my stall . . .
I want to see an industry offering visitors from all over the world quality tourism.
An industry that provides business opportunities and well-paid, permanent jobs for Welsh people.
An industry that benefits Wales and her people without the cultural, social and environmental damage currently being inflicted by tourism.
Here are just a few suggestions for achieving these objectives:
1/ Tourism tax: A minimum charge of £2 per head per overnight stay, including those in self-catering accommodation. This to be collected by the owner of the property or site and paid to the local authority.
This money will used in the areas from which it is collected or on capital projects of more widespread benefit. Why not consult local people on how they’d like to see it spent?
Tourism tax is raised everywhere and it benefits local communities. I recall Silvio Berlusconi having to pay a local tourism tax in Sardinia when he docked his luxury yacht, the Bunga Bunga.
2/ Caravan sites: These is no place for these blots on the landscape in a country promoting quality tourism in a respected environment. They offer holidays on the cheap and the money they put into the local economy is overstated. Very few jobs are created and the major beneficiary is the site owner, often a foreign company.
Caravan sites should be phased out over a period of ten years with no replacement ‘vans, cabins or lodges permitted. Thousands of acres could be returned to agriculture or Nature by getting rid of them.
Farmers and others should be allowed small sites of perhaps no more than 50 units.
To maximise tourism income, business opportunities and jobs we should strive to have as many people as possible staying in serviced accommodation.
3/ Raising standards: In New Zealand – a country with which we often like to compare Wales – they have a School of Tourism, operating on eight campuses throughout the country, internationally respected and offering a wide range of courses.
In Wales, all we do is teach Siôn and Sioned elementary catering skills at the local sixth form college so they can work for Kevin from Stockport who owns the local hotel . . . since he bought it off Keith and Sharon from Coventry. Kevin, of course, will have had no training.
Or it might be Paul and Rowena Williams at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor. Or their business partner, Myles Cunliffe. (‘Weep for Wales’ passim.) Or perhaps Siôn and Sioned can get a job at one of the hotels owned by Gavin Lee Woodhouse.
Or perhaps not, seeing as all the businesses owned by these crooks are closed and/or in the hands of receivers.
Which is why other countries insist on a proven level of proficiency, and background checks, before anyone is allowed to run a hotel. But here, money is all that matters. As long as you’ve got the dosh you can buy a five star hotel, and run it badly, thereby damaging the reputation of the locality, and Wales.
4/ Permits: New Zealand provides another example worth following. (And NZ isn’t alone in this.) I’m referring now to limiting numbers visiting environmentally sensitive areas and issuing those visiting with permits.
If you live outside Wales and you want to go hiking in one of our national parks then you should pay £20 a year. For the three national parks you pay £50 a year. If the National Trust can charge us to visit sites in our own country, why can’t we do something similar and use the money for our benefit?
Again, the money raised would be used within the local area.
5/ Airports: You don’t need to go as far as New Zealand to realise the value of a good airport. Scotland is a much nearer example. Overseas tourists, high-spending overseas tourists, fly directly to Glasgow and Edinburgh. They do so all year round.
All we have is Cardiff airport, kept afloat by public money and still losing out to Bristol. We obviously need a new, more accessible airport in the south. We also need one in the north. Why not revamp Llanbedr airfield? It would be better to have overseas tourists flying in than to have the place used – as at present – for testing inaccurate drones that will wipe out wedding parties in Afghanistan.
Well-heeled foreign tourists flying in also offer opportunities for taxi and car hire firms.
6/ Public Transport: Overseas and other tourists not wanting to drive will need public transport. An integrated public transport system is therefore essential. This would have to include a north-south rail link.
The ‘Welsh Government’ has prevaricated for years over re-opening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line. That’s because doing so would offer no obvious benefits to Cardiff or to England.
Yet you’d think that an administration dedicated to saving the planet would prioritise public transport. But no, and this lack of commitment to public transport – apart from the Cardiff Metro (to benefit the Cardiff economy not the environment) – is yet another example of Labour’s hypocrisy.
7/ Funding: A major obstacle to Welsh people getting involved in tourism – other than as cooks and cleaners – is a lack of finance.
The ‘Welsh Government’ could divert a portion of the funding it squanders on third sector memsahibs into a pot accessible to young Welsh people who’ve been through school, got a few years practical experience under their belts, and now need funding to branch out on their own.
I appreciate that this is not how tourism is supposed to operate in a colonial context, but what the hell – let’s give it a try!
8/ Touring caravans and Camper-vans: I’m throwing this one in more as a traffic safety measure and a means of lowering blood pressure, but it’s definitely related to tourism.
No towed caravans or camper-vans should be allowed on any public highway between the hours of 6am and 10pm.
Tourism in Wales can be summed up as hundreds of thousands of people driving east to west along overcrowded roads, congregating in unsustainable numbers at certain points, staying in the cheapest possible accommodation (if they stay at all), and spending as little money as possible before driving home. Each wave succeeded by the next, and each wave contributing to erosion.
So, what do you think – should we continue to accept ‘Tourism at any cost’?
I say no. I say we reject the idea that Wales exists to provide cheap holidays for our neighbours. Wales should not provide anything to anyone on the cheap.
But the political will must be there to make the necessary changes.
If the political will is absent then we as a nation have every right to defend ourselves from this exploitation of our homeland, this assault on our very identity.
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
As promised, here’s another bumper issue, four pieces from hither and yon; so even the most discerning of readers should find something to entertain or inform. If you’re lucky, you’ll be entertained and informed!
ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS
As I suggested in the previous post, information is coming in about OPDs from many different places, so maybe a bullet point update is the best way to go about it.
For those new to the subject, OPDs were introduced by the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition management team (2007-2011) as a gesture to show that Wales was playing its part in the fight against global warming.
The truth was that the nonsense was engineered by Minister for Hippies, Jane Davidson, whose friends didn’t want to pay market prices for smallholdings. This explains the ‘Welsh Government’ bringing out Technical Advice Note 6, which made it clear to planners that any dreadlocked planet-saver who showed up on their patch should be allowed to build whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted.
Jane Davidson is an odd old trout. I’m not sure if she has any genuine academic qualifications, but she likes to call herself ‘Doctor’ on the strength of an honorary doctorate from Ponty Poly. Confusion is also caused by her relationship with Harvard University, in the USA, to which she once made a flying visit. Last week her Wikipedia entry was claiming that she was a faculty member, until someone queried it, after which it was changed to, “In 2017, Jane was guest faculty in the Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership programme at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.” Which explains everything . . . I suppose.
For those still unsure about exactly what One Planet Developments are, here’s some ‘Lessons in Best Practice’ from the experts at the Lammas eco-village.
“But how do they support themselves?”, you ask. For a start, they grow their own broccoli, which can be eaten for any meal. And they bring in the readies by conning the gullible to join them in an orgy of shamanic drumming. Who can say no at £250 a pop?
Another way money is being made – and we’ll see a lot more of this in the future – is selling off OPDs. A one-bedroom ‘Hobbit House’ is currently on the market with an asking price of £475,000. Though this WalesOnline article stresses that there are still questions as to whether the property has valid planning permission.
The pre-application request for advice regarding the OPD at Ilston, on Gower, is no longer available on the Swansea council website, as the applicants have been told to go away and do their homework again. To get the story, go to this post and scroll down to the section ‘Brighton Greens discover Gower’.
A source tells me that the Ecological Land Co-operative of Brighton already has a presence in Wales, at Llangolman in Pembrokeshire. Living apparently in a log cabin brought in from Bristol. Cabin in situ after ripping up ancient hedges. Nice access road, though, which must have cost a bomb.
Another OPD settlement I’ve written about recently is the one at Llyn Adain Gwydd, near to Llangarthginning farm at Meidrim. Though this is a bit complicated. On the one hand, Neil Moyse, once of Lammas, seems to be going through the planning system with his application W/39846. But there are things happening that deserve a separate mention.
In ‘One Planet Developments, getting devious‘, I mentioned the behaviour of woodlands.co.uk, which gets planning permission for ‘access roads’ for timber-related purposes that open up woodlands for leisure and other use. A source says of such a road at Meidrim: “This track now has small bays . . . each with names that are being sold off for holiday motor homes to park up in. We have notified the council who gave notice for the vehicles to be removed. As yet not all have gone. The owners attend now and then . . . “
One Planet Developments were a pointless bit of virtue signalling to begin with. But whatever one thinks of them there is no question that they were intended for families or small groups to live a self-sufficient, off-grid life.
Before OPDs the only way to get planning permission for a new dwelling in open country was to claim that it was for a forestry or agricultural worker. This system was widely abused. One route was ‘retirement bungalows’ . . . to which farmers never retired.
With planners clamping down on the ‘rural employment’ route OPDs are now just about the only way of getting planning permission for a new dwelling outside of settlement boundaries. Consequently, the OPD option was bound to attract the unscrupulous.
Labour and its partner Plaid Cymru will do nothing to curb either the spread of OPDs or the abuse of the system. Partly because OPDs are their ‘baby’, and partly because highlighting the abuse would only draw attention to an absurd piece of legislation.
Conversely, any other political party promising to clamp down on OPDs, and the underhand tactics OPDs encourage, would pick up a few votes in next year’s elections.
MORE CARAVANS FOR GOWER!
I’ve written quite a bit about Gower recently, and it’s made me nostalgic for school holidays spent in Port Eynon, and teenage years angling, everywhere from Mumbles islands right around the coast to Blue Pool and Broughton.
We return to Port Eynon because someone wants Gower to host another caravan site . . . yet another caravan site. For that’s what is mooted in a pre-application enquiry to Swansea council. You can read about it here.
You’ll see that the council’s initial response, delivered earlier this month, was negative; but there’s a good chance that the project will return, in some ‘repackaged’ form, so let’s try to see who and what are behind it.
These fields are owned by a local family named Jones. (No relation.)
I’ve described the project as a caravan park, but that doesn’t do it justice, for the council website tells us that what’s planned is “a holiday park consisting of holiday lodges, static caravans, touring pitches and tent pitches with ancillary facilities blocks. Along with this the proposal includes an events field and car park”.
If this is approved, then the road into Port Eynon will start to look like the descent into Hell that is the A486 as it drops down into New Quay.
OK, so the Jones family owns the land, but are they behind the planning application, or is it someone else, perhaps someone willing to buy the land if planning permission can be obtained?
Because while I’ve argued in favour of farmers being allowed to supplement their incomes with small caravan sites, this goes way beyond what I could support.
Perhaps the potential purchaser is the applicant, Sutton Hospitality Consultants of Boldon, Tyne and Wear. The website looks quite professional, and the company boasts an impressive-looking team of 16.
Another curiosity is that the company number given on the website, 11250475, turns up Hospitality Consultants Global Ltd. A company that was only launched in March 2018 – as Ephihany (sic) Hotels Ltd!
The only director until 20 February, 2020 was Andy Sutton, but then he was joined by the gloriously monikered Paul John Hotson Brinton Thatcher. (I kid you not!) Thatcher has a string of companies to his name, but Sutton’s background is less clear.
There is another company we need to look at, Sutton Hospitality Park Management Ltd. There have been some strange happenings there. The company was launched as recently as 12 November, 2019, with Sutton as the only director. He was joined 20 February by Thatcher . . . who resigned the same day.
Yet the registered office moved from Sunderland to West Sussex 17 December, 2019, which suggests that Thatcher was involved before his day as director. The fact that the registered address is still in West Sussex would argue that Thatcher is now in charge.
As we’ve seen, Thatcher has a string of companies, but what is Sutton’s history?
Well, let’s start with four rather iffy-looking companies. In the order they were Incorporated.
First, Passion Safe and Secure Ltd. Incorporated 25 February 2010, compulsorily struck off 8 March, 2016. This company has one of the most bizarre series of entries I’ve ever seen on the Companies House website.
For not filing a confirmation statement saying the company is still in existence Companies House will automatically strike off, but objections are accepted. And this is what happened no less than six times with Passion Safe and Secure.
In fairness Sutton resigned 21 May, 2012, but his mate, Michael Downey, kept objecting to the company being struck off even though it was filing nothing and – ostensibly – not trading. Why would someone want to keep a company like that alive?
Seeing as he left that sinking ship early we’ll excuse Sutton. But it’s a similar story with the Beehive Bakery Ltd. Started 30 November 2010, Sutton joined 7 February, 2011 and left 1 May, 2012. Then it’s a struggle with Companies House to keep alive a company that in 6 years of existence filed no accounts and, again, did not trade. Apparently.
The only director after 1 May, 2012 was Stacey Tanya Stewart, who became a director the same day as Sutton.
Moving on . . .
The next company we’ll look at is The Salon (Northeast) Ltd. Incorporated 21 March 2014, dissolved by compulsory strike-off 10 May, 2016. Sutton was the only director and, again, nothing filed, but one objection to strike-off was made to keep alive yet another company apparently doing nothing.
Finally, there’s Spoilt Rotten Hairdressing Ltd 10 July, 2017 – 11 December, 2018. Sutton the sole director and a straightforward strike-off with no objections.
There may be other companies with which Sutton has been linked, but he often calls himself ‘Andy’ Sutton, and that’s more difficult to follow due in part to a retired ice hockey player of the same name.
And then, all of a sudden, Andy Sutton is in the leisure and holiday parks business with the launch in March 2018 of Hospitality Consultants Global Ltd.
Yet according to this piece from The World of Park and Leisure Homes Show (which Sutton probably wrote and paid for), “Andy Sutton, founder of Sutton Hospitality Consultants lives and breathes hospitality and leisure – it has been his passion for 25 years.” But the article is vague, and gives no examples of this claimed experience.
Given the team he has at his disposal, the link with big shot Thatcher, and a London office, I was surprised to see Sutton use an agent from a little town in south west Wales – Gerald Blain Associates Ltd of Whitland.
Perhaps you remember this outfit from a recent post on this blog? Because Gerald Blain Associates also submitted the pre-application enquiry for the ‘eco-village’ at Dunvant. Remember? If not, read about it here, scroll down to the section ‘Farmlets’.
So many companies with sod all money working on big contracts. What’s going on – have we entered a parallel dimension of cashless business?
I say there’s more to this than meets the eye. If it is the Jones family’s project, how did they find the same agent as the one being used by the luxury OPD estate at Dunvant? And how did they find Sutton, with his chequered business record and little apparent experience in this field?
One thing I’m pretty sure of, Sutton is a front man. Who for? Well, a stab in the dark might get a scream out of Paul John Hotson Brinton Thatcher.
Something I’m absolutely sure of is that Port Eynon does not need any more bloody caravans, or ‘lodges’. The same applies to the rest of Gower, and the whole of Wales.
Holyhead is a town that doesn’t get a good press. Although it’s a busy ferry port that doesn’t seem to benefit the town. It just means people driving through to get the boat, and others getting off the boat and driving straight out of town.
This results in a declining community with a very run-down look and dilapidated buildings. But this decline attracts those who pretend they’re some kind of social workers when in reality all they want is to buy a cheap property, pack in as many problem cases as possible, and then charge as much as possible for housing them.
Thus completing the cycle of decline.
This is how it began in Rhyl, when ‘bucket and spade’ holidays ceased and the men who wore knotted handkerchiefs on their heads died off. Small hotels and B & Bs came available cheap, attracting unscrupulous bastards who saw an opening to make serious money. Which gives us the Rhyl we see today.
A new planning application for a building in the centre of Holyhead reminds us of this phenomenon. It’s for the old main post office on Boston Street. Which, as you can see in the capture from Google, is quite a substantial building. The Newry Nursery mentioned as objecting is right next door.
Also mentioned, as being the applicant, is Benjamin Popat, so who’s he? Let’s take a look at the planning application, see what we can learn. Here’s a direct link, but if it doesn’t work then it’s number FPL/2020/39 on the Ynys Môn planning portal.
However you got there, you’ll see that the applicant’s name is confirmed as Benjamin Popat, and the agent is a John Wyer. If you click on the application number in the ‘Documents’ row you’ll access the other documents submitted in support of the application.
Though who Shilling was, I have no idea. The two directors were Mangal Singh Shoker and Michael Williams. Who are also the directors of Shilling and Shoker Enterprises 11 Ltd, where Shoker is now known as ‘Manny’!
But what of the applicant, Benjamin Popat? I found a Linkedin page for a Ben Popat, who drives for Arvonia Coaches of Caernarfon. I assume this is him; right name, right area. But it’s quite a departure for someone who takes Cofi oldies on coach trips to be planning a major building conversion in Holyhead.
Let’s come at this from another angle by seeing who owns the building.
To start with, this company was only set up 7 February, 2019. And the sole director is Sunil Popat. But it’s been busy, already having taken out a loan, with CPF Two Ltd, which itself set up as recently as 30 August, 2018.
This loan to Village Views was to buy land and buildings in Sittingbourne.
At the risk of confusing you further . . . CPF Two, which lent the money to Sunil Popat’s Village Views to buy the land and property in Sittingbourne, has now been taken over by We Are Catalyst Ltd, which was set up ages ago, as far back as August 2017 in fact.
The only director of We Are Catalyst is Christopher Gareth Fairfax . . . who is also the only director of CPF One Ltd, which should not be confused with CPF Two, which lent money to Village Views. And the only director of CPF Two is – go on, have a guess!
Which means that CPF Two Ltd has been taken over by We Are Catalyst Ltd, which is owned by CPF One – with the same, single director running all three!
So many lenders, and all household names, shuffling money around, perhaps hoping nobody can follow the trail. This is the underbelly of the ‘financial sector’ that makes the UK so attractive to those with a ‘buccaneering’ approach to business.
Back to Holyhead.
If planning permission is granted then the old post office will not be tenanted by clean-limbed local lads leaving Mam and Dad for the first time to enjoy the freedom of a bachelor existence.
No, the old post office will become a bail hostel or similar establishment catering for those with ‘issues’. Few if any of those living there will be local to Caergybi or even to Ynys Môn. Holyhead has been chosen because the town is run-down and property is cheap. This hostel will then feed into the spiral of decline I explained earlier.
This is why the council must refuse this planning application. It would be better for the council itself to buy the old post office and rent it out cheaply to a local group.
But if Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn does consider allowing the application then the first step should be to establish who’s behind it. Is the ‘Benjamin Popat’, named on the planning application as the applicant, the same person as the ‘Sunil Popat’ of Village Views Ltd? If so, why two different names? If they’re different people, then what’s the connection?
Though my advice to the council would be to reject the application without any further ado because you know what the old post office will be used for. Your responsibility is to the town of Holyhead, not to some property speculator in Kent.
This woman, a lawyer named Hilary Brown, was wrong, of course, and it was pointed out to her that Penrhyn is Welsh for promontory or headland, and referred to Barry ‘Island’. Despite realising she’d landed herself in a hole Brown kept digging and responded with, “That’s unacceptable and I want it changed”.
So ancient Welsh (and Cornish) place names are unacceptable to Hilary Brown.
An absurd position, though as the Penrhyn family name was Pennant does Brown also want us to scour the map looking for cottages, farms, hamlets, etc bearing that hateful name – and then change them all to something more acceptable to her?
This insulting nonsense is little different to English colonists and holiday home owners changing the name of their property from Welsh to English.
I suppose the problem for Hilary Brown, Stand up to Racism, the Socialist Workers and Rapists Party, and Black Lives Matter, is that they desperately want to exploit George Floyd’s death but in Wales the opportunities are limited by the absence of the prime commodity – racism. So they end up looking rather silly glaring at a piece of metal.
Thankfully, Hilary Brown is just a rabble-rouser without a rabble.
But she is an enthusiastic digger, as was proven when she threw up a few more spadefuls with, “Wales’ shameful legacy in slavery”.
WTF! National guilt! The only names I’ve heard mentioned are Penrhyn and Thomas Picton. (And I guarantee that Brown and her allies hadn’t heard of either man until a few months ago.) And because of Penrhyn and Picton all Welsh people somehow had a hand in slavery.
Do you accept that?
Though it soon becomes clear that BLM is only interested in white on black slavery committed between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries in the Americas, more especially, the USA.
The fact that during the same period Barbary corsairs were carrying out slave raids on the coasts of Europe, and the Turkish empire enslaved Slavs and Central Europeans, doesn’t count. Black Africans being sold today in the slave markets of Libya is ignored. The fact that slavery has been practised throughout history is irrelevant.
And don’t mention Leicester!
So it’s not really about slavery at all. It’s about hostile feelings towards white people.
And slavery and racism are certainly unimportant for those cheering on Black Lives Matter. Not the infantile exhibitionists of Antifa but those who sense an opportunity to re-shape Western society; an ambition they believe can be be served by encouraging riots and looting in 2020 and blaming it on the Confederacy, or Columbus, or some poor bugger left a few shares in a sugar plantation by an uncle he never met.
Writing about retrospective accusations makes me think of the treatment meted out to Oliver Cromwell in 1661, after the Restoration of Charles II. His rotting corpse was disinterred and left hanging for three days before being beheaded. The head was then placed on a spike above Westminster Hall.
Though, in fairness, no one was unreasonable enough to suggest that Cromwell’s guilt should be passed down to his great-great-great-great-grandchildren.
What’s more, not even the most ardent royalist has tried to topple regicide Cromwell’s statue outside the House of Commons.
Which means I suppose that Cromwell’s ‘trial’ and subsequent treatment by his political opponents is not really a valid analogy for what we witness today, so let me introduce a more recent example.
I believe the death of George Floyd is being used by liberals, leftists and their foot-soldiers in a very similar way to the Nazis’ exploitation of the Reichstag fire in 1933, with police officer Derek Chauvin reprising the role of Marinus van der Lubbe.
Van der Lubbe was a Dutch Communist, acting alone, but it served the Nazis’ agenda to present him as the instrument of a vast Communist-Zionist conspiracy bent on enslaving the German race, and then use that ludicrous fabrication to take control of the media, suspend democracy and, ultimately, carry out the Holocaust.
Similarly, for those we’re discussing, Derek Chauvin can’t be viewed as an individual who did something wrong; he must be portrayed as the embodiment of a racist system built on the suffering of African-Americans.
Today’s enemies of democracy wear trainers not jackboots, but they’re using the same tactic of misrepresenting the action of an individual to blackmail or frighten us all into surrendering our freedoms.
Objecting to being vilified and intimidated, speaking up when your national identity is trivialised and dismissed, does not make anyone a ‘racist’. Hilary Brown and her allies should learn that the respect they demand of others, they must also give. They have harmed their cause with their arrogance and their intransigence.
A central and worrying feature of this débâcle is the refusal of Brown and her supporters to accept the truth. Here are a couple of comments posted on Sunday to the Bro Radio website in response to a local Plaid Cymru councillor coming to Brown’s rescue.
Neither Jemima Williams nor Elizabeth Millman seem able to accept that the naming of the road has nothing to do with any Baron Penrhyn or slavery. Millman even expects the council to apologise! For what?
If they still believe that the Vale of Glamorgan Council deliberately named a road after a slave-owner then it’s impossible to hold a rational debate with people like this.
Scroll down in the comments and you’ll come to Trevor Macey telling us that street names shouldn’t be in Welsh. I avoid using the term ‘gammon’ but it could have been coined for Trevor Macey.
He’s drawn to this debate because it provides him an opportunity to join in what he clearly sees as an attack on the Welsh language. Predictably, Trevor Macey doesn’t support BLM either.
Whoever allowed his comment obviously hadn’t dipped into Trevor Macey’s Facebook page, where they would have found an image of George Floyd. Make sure you click on this.
If nothing else, this Ffordd Penrhyn episode reminds us that the enemies of Wales come in all shapes and sizes, all creeds and colours, and from all points on the political spectrum. The same applies to those who want the best for Wales.
Some among us need to remove their blinkers in order to tell the difference.