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 suppose most people reading this know what a placebo is, but for those who aren’t certain . . . a placebo is something given instead of a medicine or treatment and is intended to fool the person receiving it into believing they are taking a medicine or receiving treatment.
In other words, the patient or guinea pig is given something that won’t really do them any good. Understandably, once they realise they’re being given a placebo then its usefulness is gone.
IN THE BEGINNING
Let’s start by reminding ourselves that devolution wasn’t a gift from Heaven, it was not promised in the Labour manifesto of 1997 because those offering it thought it would be good for Scotland and Wales. No, it was offered because it served England’s (perceived) interests.
Also, let’s not forget the Irish dimension; for to support a fragile peace process there was also an imperative to set up a Northern Ireland Assembly. In fact, this desire formed part of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act (1998). For good measure London was also included in the package to make it look like a sincere attempt to devolve power from Westminster.
In reality, Tony Blair’s Labour government gave devolution to London confident that the Assembly would always have a Labour majority, to the Six Counties because of US pressure, and to Scotland and Wales as a placebo to ‘national aspirations’ which was safeguarded, so it was believed, by an electoral system (certainly in Scotland) that made it difficult for any one party to achieve an absolute majority.
Things are different in Wales for one very obvious reason. While Scotland has a political party and a government determined to improve the country, we have languished for twenty years under successive Labour and Labour-led administrations that have simply masked the old system of neglecting Wales unless she can be exploited.
A very recent and still emerging example would be the National Development Framework (NDF) produced a few months ago by the ‘Welsh Government’. I mention the NDF because it’s a “20-year spatial plan” for the whole country, all other plans are subsidiary to it.
I wrote about the National Development Framework in August, in a post of the same name. In the NDF we read that much of rural Wales outside of the national parks is to be ‘rewilded’, given over to a new ‘national forest’, or else covered in wind turbines and solar complexes.
This of course allows the ‘Welsh Government’ to virtue signal madly that ‘Wales’ is making its contribution to saving the planet. In reality, Wales is being lined up for a coat of Greenwash that will be welcomed by the City and others as a money-making wheeze, while Wales provides even more of England’s electricity.
Of course, we’ve suffered wind turbines for a couple of decades, but what’s interesting in the NDF is that it explores new ways to exploit our uplands. The two articles below, one from the Times and the other from Llais y Sais, will help explain what I mean.
The piece from the Times stresses the carbon-absorbing value of mountains and moorlands while the Western Mail article talks of planting trees on grazing land. Wales of course has plenty of mountains, moorland and grazing land, and if these are to be monetised then we can guarantee that ‘investors’ and others will profit from Welsh land.
All this will be facilitated by the ‘Welsh Government’. Playing the role it adopted with unseemly alacrity when presented with the Summit to Sea scam. For ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers more than perhaps any other sector of the population.
When it hasn’t been punishing rustics for not voting Labour the party has been building up an army of cronies to run the ‘poverty industry’. The third sector capitalises on Welsh deprivation with no intention of bringing relief or remedy because to do so would mean an end to the public funding sustaining thousands of well-paid – but usually unnecessary – jobs.
So we see that ‘Welsh’ Labour is quite happy to serve as London’s management team in Cardiff, and equally content to see Wales decline. Then, even at Assembly elections, Labour can heard bewailing Wales’ deprivation and insisting that voters ‘Send a message to London’.
Though what sending a message to London about the mess Labour has made of Wales is supposed to achieve I’m not sure. Unless it’s a pat on the head for the local Labour bigwigs and the promise of seats in the House of Lords.
PLAID CYMRU AND DEVOLUTION
Anyone looking at Plaid Cymru and thinking they see a party working for Welsh independence really should pop along to the Cloud Cuckoo Land branch of Specsavers.
In truth, the thought of independence terrifies Plaid’s leadership, and others in the upper stratum of the party. For with independence comes responsibility, standing on your own two feet, and delivering measures to improve the lives of the Welsh people – for there’ll be no one else to blame.
What Plaid Cymru wants is the kind of DevoMax system I outlined in Plaid Cymru, where to now? (scroll down when you get there). In a nutshell, institutions in which a native elite of politicians, professionals and administrators can prosper. We are almost there; with a few more powers devolved to the Assembly, such as justice and policing, these desires might be satisfied.
At the moment, Plaid still gets the votes of most of those wanting independence, also those concerned with the Welsh language, nationhood and associated factors. But this constituency is losing faith or simply giving up due to the direction Plaid Cymru is taking.
The hard truth for Plaid Cymru is that no amount of fascist-hunters, or trans lobbyists, or EU zealots, or planet-savers, or any other variety of political exotica will be enough to replace the socially conservative Welsh voters being lost, often alienated by the increasing grip on the party exerted by the aforementioned.
These newer elements promote causes common to a number of political parties and pressure groups, which often means that with Plaid Cymru they’re just hedging their bets. Their interest in Plaid Cymru, and indeed Wales, is often due solely to the attractiveness of a small country with a system of devolution and a malleable political leadership.
For the upcoming general election Plaid Cymru has entered into a disastrous ‘Remainer’ pact with a Liberal Democrat Party led by a woman who loses votes every time she’s exposed to public scrutiny and a Green Party that refuses to even recognise the existence of Wales.
With Labour and the devolution system it brought into existence discredited there is a golden opportunity to take Wales forward to independence.
But it can’t happen because all we have is Plaid Cymru, another leftist party that would rather be the junior partner in a colonial management structure than the party – like the SNP – guiding a nation towards independence.
Or perhaps I’m being unfair on Plaid Cymru, maybe its ambition extends to being the senior partner in a colonial administration. Now there’s ambition for you!
We have reached the stage where Plaid Cymru has nothing to say on Wales and independence; and few people listen to what it has to say on other issues. The party is surviving as a political force on goodwill accumulated in a previous incarnation.
THE PLACEBO NO LONGER WORKS
As the old saying has it: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’
That’s the stage we’re at with devolution and the leftist hegemony in Cardiff Bay. After twenty years of declining standards I believe that a majority of people now realise that devolution isn’t working and that the blame lies in Cardiff not London.
Realising that devolution has failed explains both the increased support for abolishing the Assembly altogether and also why more of us are prepared to consider independence. With correspondingly fewer in the middle willing to defend devolution. For the ‘recognition of nationhood’ and ‘better than nothing’ arguments no longer persuade.
If returned on December 12 it’s possible that the Tories will do away with devolution in the next couple of years, not because they’re ideologically opposed to devolution – they’re not – but because they can also see that the placebo effect is wearing off.
I would probably support the abolition of the Assembly, reasoning that it might be necessary to take a step back before we can move forward. When stuck in a rut it’s often necessary to go back in order to move forward with greater momentum than took you into the rut. And let’s be honest, we walked into devolution with our eyes shut.
And for those now calling me all sorts of names I put out a simple challenge – defend devolution. (And for God’s sake, don’t insult my intelligence by arguing that things would be better with Plaid Cymru in charge.)
I have argued for a few years that Welsh independence is most likely to come about from an interplay between internal dynamics with external factors, with the latter influencing the former. And that is what we now see happening: Devolution is discredited, as are the parties most closely associated with it; while beyond our borders clouds gather, but these are clouds with silver linings, if we only we realise it.
We now need a Conservative government in London to inflict all the damage its opponents predict it will. Then we must help the Scots in their second independence referendum. Finally, we must make a push for our own independence with a broad-based movement focused solely on Wales and Welsh issues.
Which is why I shall be supporting Welsh independence on December 12 by voting for the Conservative and Unionist Party.
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
A WEEKEND TO REMEMBER, FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS
For those who don’t know Dr Dilys Davies, she’s a consultant clinical psychologist. This pdf document lists her academic attainments together with some publications. They tell us that on the purely academic level Dr Davies’ record is impressive, but Dilys is a lifelong patriot and supporter of independence.
And she puts her money where her heart is, investing in businesses so that they remain under local control, while also contributing to many good causes.
An example would be Dilys buying Canolfan Tresaith so that kids – many from deprived Valleys’ communities – could continue to enjoy holidays in Ceredigion. This has grown and is now used by other organisations, such as Say Something in Welsh. The Canolfan breaks even.
Dr Davies is also a founder-member of Yes Cymru and a member of the committee.
So why did Dilys Davies close her Twitter account on Monday following abuse directed at her over the weekend by persons, most of whom project themselves as being totally opposed to misogyny, bullying and a raft of other crimes normally committed by bastards like me?
The answer to that question is that Dilys fell foul of a group of transextremists that I have mentioned on this blog before. She holds the view – like the vast majority of people – that a person in possession of male genitalia is a man. The extremists disagree, violently and vitriolically, arguing that if 20 stone prop Dai Psycho wants to call himself Delyth and shower with the ladies then he must be allowed to do so.
For those I’m talking about, the ladies’ changing room is just as much Dai’s ‘safe space’ as it of genuine women.
It boils down to ‘self-identification’. A form of deception with which every con man, fraudster and politician reading this post will be familiar. It means you ‘are’ whatever you want to be. Which is fine up to a point: if some bloke wants to dress like a woman, then that don’t bother me none; but if he thinks he can play House with my grand-daughters then he’s very much mistaken.
For refusing to accept that Dai in a dress is a woman Dr Davies was branded a transphobe. For these transextremists are zealots, their minds closed to other views. You either agree with them 100% or you’re completely wrong.
It’s also noticeable that they hunt as a pack on social media – once one scents prey the others give voice. As one source put it to me, the way Dilys Davies was treated reminded him of a wounded lioness being attacked by hyenas. Though, personally, I think that’s being unfair on hyenas.
Many of those I’m referring to are of ‘non-binary’ sexual identification themselves, which goes some way to explaining their excitability on this issue. But what gives them strength is that the Dai Psycho lunacy has become an article of faith for some on the left.
Some of the abuse hurled at Dr Davies last weekend was horrendous, and much it was subsequently deleted, but people screen capture shots for me and here we have one of the milder contributions, involving our old friend Aled Gwyn Williams. Russell Elliot is or was in the Labour Party, but seems very comfortable in Plaid Cymru circles. And why not!
What a stupid yet revealing thing for Elliott to say. Young Aled – knowing his Twitter account is now closely monitored – doesn’t fall into the trap of agreeing, instead he shows his teeth by bemoaning the fact that Dr Dilys Davies had the money to buy the Tryweryn wall! It’s almost refreshing to read good old-fashioned socialist envy.
And then came the letter . . .
On Monday or Tuesday someone wrote a letter to Siôn Jobbins, chair of YesCymru, asking that Dr Dilys Davies’ position on the YC committee be ‘reviewed’. In other words, that she be removed. The letter was then circulated for signatures. Some of those approached were so angry that they contacted me, which explains why I’m able to produce that letter. (Available here in pdf format.)
The letter is a simpering litany of lies from extremists donning the cloak of victimhood. ‘Please, Sir, this nasty woman came on Twitter and refused to agree with us, so we demand that she be vilified, and expelled; her memory expunged from the record of the nation’.
It’s amazing the connections that can be made once you join up the dots. So let’s do it.
I just mentioned Russell Elliott, and he’s a big fan of Llinos Price, because both are in the ‘Hang Neil McEvoy!’ camp. Llinos gets so worked up over McEvoy that she becomes quite irrational at times. It should go without saying that she has links with Deryn Consulting, the poison factory in Corruption Bay so deeply involved in the tragic death of Carl Sargeant.
Someone else who closed his Twitter account last weekend after being taken down by the same, slavering pack was Mal Humphreys, better known as ‘Mumph’ the cartoonist. Like Dilys Davies Mal has done a great deal over the years for Wales, fanning the embers of national consciousness with his unique contribution. But that counts for nothing if you don’t agree with the left, the woke and the transextremists.
Dilys Davies tells me that her problems last weekend started with a tweet in which she criticised former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood. This is the tweet referred to in the second paragraph of the letter. What it says is that Leanne Wood has shown little interest in Welsh matters during her time as an AM, or even when party leader. Few in Plaid Cymru, or the wider national movement, would argue with that assessment. It was one of the reasons Leanne Wood was humiliated in last year’s Plaid leadership contest.
Then the onslaught began that resulted in Dilys Davies closing her Twitter account.
Those involved in the online attack were the usual suspects, among them of course Aled Gwyn Williams. Aled’s a big fan of mine. Here’s a wee collage.
At the centre we see the Twitter account showing Teifi and his faithful human, then a very recent tweet from Aled’s alter ego, Doreen Ogmore-Pritchard. Does this make Aled a woman?
Working clockwise from top left, we have a tweet put out by him on July 13. Note that to avoid using the dread word ‘nationalists’ Aled comes up with the absurd term ‘self-determinationists’. This tweet was my introduction to the boy, I’d never heard of him before this and I’m still not sure what prompted his outburst. But clearly, if Aled is to be believed, I am one bad bugger; and elsewhere he labelled me a misogynist.
Two weeks later on July 26 Aled is telling some poor woman, ‘Oh fuck off you hateful cow’. But not to worry, for at the Caernarfon independence rally the very next day, Helen Mary Jones, the Plaid Cymru AM for Mid and West Wales – and supposedly a confirmed feminist – gave him her seal of approval!
I include the bottom two images because if I had suggested arson and used a pack of matches to make my point, or joked about monitoring English people, then I would have been attacked by all the colours of the political rainbow.
I suppose what I’m saying here is that when dealing with the woke, and the left, and the transextremists, you quickly learn that they’re hypocrites. For misogyny, bullying, insults of every kind, are just fine – as long as they are dishing it out. They preach ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’ – then demand that individuals be expelled, groups banned, certain views censored.
This hypocrisy was brought home to me earlier this year when Leanne Wood called me ‘an arsehole’, and the party chair, Marc Phillips (Mr Helen Mary Jones), called me ‘a Neanderthal prick’. Covered here in Leanne Wood, my response.
But of course Aled is not alone. For as I’ve said, they hunt as a pack, visible for miles thanks to the glow of self-righteousness they emit.
Though it seems to have dimmed in recent days. Tweets have been deleted, accounts muted or closed down, people blocked. There is clearly a fear among certain pack members that the attack on Dilys Davies went too far.
Though the attack might not have come completely out of the blue. For there was already in existence a Twitter account using the name ‘Dr Dilys’.
You’ll see that the account was opened in May 2018, obviously by someone who already had a beef with Dr Davies. If I had to guess, I’d say it was connected with her views on transgender issues and self-identification.
The spelling ‘Cymri’ is odd, especially as the account often tweets in Welsh. (More than one person involved?) The account is now closed, and I’m sure this is also a result of the backlash building against those who bullied Dr Davies.
Here’s a July tweet from the ‘Dr Dilys’ account addressed to Neil McEvoy. Does the language and tone have a familiar ring?
It’s certainly very nasty. Also very, very personal.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO CORRUPTION BAY
What happened to Dilys Davies bears a striking similarity to attempts by roughly the same group – this time fighting ‘fascism’ – to exclude Ein Gwlad (now Gwlad Gwlad) from All Under One Banner Cymru marches.
From my enquiries, and from information supplied by others, I can say without hesitation, that these bullies are encouraged, if not directed, by certain Plaid Cymru AMs. I’m thinking in particular of two female AMs. Given these AMs’ links to Deryn Consulting it is no great stretch of the imagination to see Deryn’s hand in this, especially when so much links up. Not least the Neil McEvoy connection.
Not only that, but the Dilys Davies saga may have started before last weekend, with an attack on her by Chad Rickard, a SpAd working for Bethan Sayed AM, who is of course a former partner of Neil McEvoy.
Note that this tweet was put out just after Dilys Davies bought the ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ site. With its mention of “poor women” it seems to be another example of socialist envy, this time of a successful Welsh professional woman who has money!
For socialists are dead set against people making money . . . unless it’s back-stabbing AMs pulling down £80,000 a year plus expenses.
The letter asking for Dilys Davies’ expulsion from Yes Cymru was addressed to Siôn Jobbins, the chairman. Even though I’ve never met Jobbins I’ve formed a positive opinion of a fairly level-headed guy, who has publicly expressed his misgivings with Plaid Cymru’s leftward drift.
Then someone sent me this screen capture of a Twitter exchange from Thursday. It obviously begins with Siôn Jobbins and ends with Aled, or Teifi, but who is Hiraeth Film?
Hiraeth Film is Charlotte Williams, who is “in a relationship” with Katie Bataille, a native of Jersey now apparently living in Welshpool. Bataille is a pack member who snarls at me from time to time and joined the attack on Dilys Davies and ‘Mumph’ last weekend.
If Siôn Jobbins is in some kind of business relationship with Hiraeth Film (or merely opening doors), and with this obviously approved of by Maesteg’s one-man bulwark against the advance of darkness, then the letter attacking Dr Dilys Davies might have been penned with some expectation of it being favourably received.
I’d like Siôn Jobbins therefore to clarify his relationship with Hiraeth Film, and with Aled Gwyn Williams.
And does the linkage suggest that Aled has ambitions to become a movie mogul? I can see it now: there I sit, popcorn in hand, while up on the silver screen, rolls – 21st Century Collie Productions . . .
To be fair, SJ did ask for people to calm down. Saying “everyone’s welcome in @yescymru“ . . . the problem being this was said just a matter of hours before the transextremists asked for Dr Dilys Davies to be thrown out!
Ifan Morgan Jones of Nation.Cymru chipped in and seemed to suggest that easy-going liberals like me should stop “over-reacting to fringe POV’s”. And I see his point.
But the problem for both Siôn Jobbins and Ifan Morgan Jones is that they can’t be too critical of these ‘fringe points of view’ without criticising Plaid Cymru. For that’s the root of the problem.
At its Swansea conference on the weekend Plaid Cymru may confront the choice of dissipating its meagre resources fighting a succession of meaningless, Guardian issue, skirmishes or forcing the conclusive confrontation with the British state.
But I doubt it.
The conference will, perhaps fittingly, be held in the Grand Theatre, a venue that has seen so much farce and pantomime over the years.
TIME TO MAN UP
The real issue, for both Yes Cymru and All Under One Banner Cymru, is whether they are organisations – as stated by Siôn Jobbins – open to all those supporting Welsh independence.
In fact, this question is fundamental to their very existence, because if they’re nothing more than vehicles wherein a defeated faction can regroup and reassert itself – a bit like Confederate diehards heading for Mexico after Appomattox – then Yes Cymru and AUOB Cymru undermine their own raison d’être.
For that’s how it looks. We seem to be in a situation in which membership of Yes Cymru, and permission to take part in AUOB Cymru marches, is decided by those who think that Dai Psycho wearing lipstick is a woman.
And it won’t be limited to transgender issues. Once the precedent is set the questions then will be whether one agrees that Donald Trump should be impeached. ‘You don’t? – You’re out!’ Or one’s views on climate change, Brexit, French foreign policy, Bluegrass music, anything. For once the pack smells blood . . .
Either Yes Cymru and AUOB Cymru are genuinely open to all believing in independence for Wales or else the screechers and those who manipulate them are in control.
I say ‘independence movement’ but of course what I’m describing is very new, and arose – ironically enough – in response to Plaid Cymru under Leanne Wood losing interest in Wales and independence to focus on issues far more important.
I’m not a member of Yes Cymru and I’ve never been on an independence march. Partly because I have nothing to prove and partly because it was made clear to me by the same extremists who attacked Dilys Davies last weekend that I would not be welcome, and might even be attacked.
Others, as yet uninvolved, might look on the treatment meted out to Dilys Davies, by attackers who were not even rebuked, and decide that Yes Cymru is not something they want to be associated with.
I have been in e-mail contact with Dr Dilys Davies in recent days and she has given me clearance to use anything from those communications. Much of it is too harrowing to be put out on a blog, but here goes . . .
This is from the most recent e-mail I received:
“Royston – this is beyond dreadful now. I really don’t think I can come back to Wales even if I wanted to. Feeling very, very low. it’s been a privilege to have been able to contribute to my country and language in whatever way I could. Never wanted thanks. But I never expected to be attacked and bullied and left so low that I can do nothing further.
On another matter – These people think poverty is a virtue to be aspired to. How on earth are they going to build a successful Independent country.
Anyway I’m done. The wall is now for sale.
Your support has meant much more than you will ever know Royston
I hope you little bastards are satisfied. All of you; you fucking hypocrites, forever whining about bullying and misogyny; always preaching about being inclusive and welcoming.
You left-woke extremists are a bigger threat to Welsh independence than anything else, internal or external. Firstly, because you don’t really care about independence, only in using the current upsurge in support as a bandwagon on which you can jump, your bedroll full of ishoos more likely to alienate than to attract.
And if it’s not the ishoos that turn people away then it’s you, yourselves, with your shrill intolerance and your certitude. The, ‘I know the truth and you must listen to me’ attitude shared by all fanatics.
We’re unlikely to hear apologies from the extremists (they’re never wrong), but it would be nice to hear Yes Cymru publicly defend Dr Davies. How about it, Siôn?
Independence will be difficult enough to achieve if we are united, and impossible if we are divided. The only way to unite everyone in the pursuit of independence is to put to one side all other issues.
Anyone refusing to stand shoulder to shoulder with people they disagree with is not really interested in independence, only with using the independence movement to promote the issues that are important to them.
♦ end ♦
FOOTNOTE/CLARIFICATION: For me, ‘transphobia’ is hostility to a person who has transitioned, via surgical procedures and other means, from male to female, or female to male. Refusing to accept as a woman a man who has not transitioned cannot be transphobia. The clue lies in the element ‘trans’. Maybe we need a new word.
I haven’t prepared any in-depth or weighty post for this week; instead, I’ve put together a few things I’ve been thinking about, or been sent, that might also be of interest to you. You know me – always trying to please!
Quite what this was supposed to achieve no one seemed to know, but it struck me at the time as a predictable response from Plaid Cymru’s clenched fist and beret tendency. Those who would still regard the Tories as ‘the real enemy’ even if ISIS invaded the Rhondda Fach.
Ideally, of course, Plaid Cymru would like a coalition with Labour, but thanks to Comrade Corbyn’s vacillating that is not possible. So with that hope dashed, Plaid now seeks a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Change UK and the SNP.
Let’s consider the SNP first. Things are very different in Scotland, where the SNP will be hoping to win every seat in the next UK general election; so the chances of them doing a deal with other parties, which would almost certainly mean standing down in some seats, is a non-starter.
The SNP could even turn the next general election into a vote on independence and EU membership, especially if Westminster refuses to allow another independence referendum.
Next up is Change UK. If you’re unfamiliar with this lot, then let me explain that they’re a bunch of preening egotists who couldn’t get their own ways in their previous parties. Before the next election comes around clashing egos will have destroyed this collective huff of a party and that’ll be the end of Change UK.
On to the Greens, aka the Green Party of England, for there is no Wales Green Party. Worse, last year Greens in Wales voted on whether to set up a separate Green party and decided to stay as the Green Party of Englandandwales. Which means that Plaid Cymru wants to work with a party that refuses to recognise Wales as a country!
Finally, the Liberal Democrats, the party that kept the Tories in power at Westminster between 2010 and 2015, and the party that – with its single AM – helps keep Labour in power down Cardiff docks. A gang of opportunistic and amoral politicos that would sell their grannies for a sniff of power.
Despite decades of trying to promote themselves as the ‘nice’ party I have a deep and abiding contempt for the modern Liberal Democrats. I had time for old Geraint Howells and a few others from the genuinely Welsh Liberal tradition, but the modern party is a venomous thing not to be trusted or handled.
Containing individuals like Callum James Littlemore, who is ‘Diary Manager’ for local party leader Jane Dodds. (She needs a diary manager!) I thought for a minute it was a typo, and he worked on her farm, but apparently it’s true. Anyway, young Callum bears out all I’ve thought about LibDems.
Though he can’t have been in Wales for long if he thinks Plaid Cymru “support divisive nationalism”. Listen to Uncle Jac: Plaid Cymru is a bunch of evasive, wishy-washy, ishoo-botherers, forever seeking distractions to avoid confronting any specifically Welsh issue. Brexit being the latest such distraction.
Let’s hope we hear little more from Littlemore. (Couldn’t resist it!)
Ruling out the SNP for the reasons I’ve given, these are the parties that Plaid Cymru is ready to co-operate with thanks to Plaid’s fixation with Brexit. What would Plaid get in return – I mean, would these parties campaign for Welsh independence, or even greater devolution? I think not.
It also means that by turning the next election into a single-issue affair Plaid Cymru will ignore the things people care about. Done in order to line up with England’s Brahmin left, thereby alienating thousands upon thousands of people that must be won over if Wales is to escape the humiliation long ago imposed on us by John Bull; a colonial system loyally maintained into the present day by ‘Welsh’ Labour and its rag-bag of hangers-on.
There’ll be a price to pay for this posturing, this self-indulgent myopia. I sincerely hope.
Made possible by Secretary of State for Wales (1979 – 1987) Nicholas Edwards, who set up, in April 1987, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC), to be run by his good friend and fellow High Tory, Sir Geoffrey Inkin. The CBDC became the conduit for pumping hundreds of millions of pounds of public money into land owned by Associated British Ports (ABP), of which Edwards was a director.
Of course, Edwards/Crickhowell didn’t have it all his own way. For example, despite donning his Welsh National Opera tricorn he failed to get a new opera house to the Bay, but learning from that disappointment he made sure that the ‘consolation prize’ of the Notional Assembly building was located on his patch.
And while it was being built he saw to it that ABP continued to coin it by having AMs and staff use Crickhowell House – at £2m+ a year.
Crickhowell House was soon renamed Tŷ Crughywel, and is now Tŷ Hywel, apparently in honour of Hywel Dda. Which looks very much like an attempt to hide the Crickhowell connection, for I’m not aware of Hywel Dda having any local connections.
Despite having moved into the new Senedd building over ten years ago the ‘Welsh Government’ still agreed a series of leases that bind it – and us – to Tŷ Hywel until 2049, or Armageddon, whichever comes sooner. Guaranteed to cost us many more millions of pounds.
I mention this to give the background to what we see today in Cardiff Bay; the squalid and incestuous wheeler-dealing, the lying and the backstabbing, the cronyism, the incompetence, and the waste of public money.
The latest example of the incestuousness comes with Daniel Bryant leaving lobbyists Deryn for Plaid Cymru. This ménage à trois involving Deryn, Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party is not good for democracy or for Wales.
But this is what devolution has done. It has given us a class of people, divorced from the real world, who study politics, help out local politicians in their spare time and then, when they finish university, get a job working for a politician, or lobbyists, making contacts, and getting on their party’s list of approved candidates.
They then become politicians and make decisions affecting the lives of people with whom they have little contact and for whom they may have little concern. I say that because politics is no longer about serving the people, it’s a team game of abstractions and all that matters is scoring points against the opposition. (Though in Wales it often seems to be just two ‘teams’ involved.)
This system of musical chairs that begins with teenagers choosing a ‘career’ in politics goes a long way to explaining why Wales is in the mess she’s in today. And also why, alone in western Europe, Wales has no register or regulation of lobbyists – because the lobbyists won’t countenance such legislation!
Speak out in favour of such legislation – as Neil McEvoy has done more than once – and you will be hounded and vilified – by lobbyists, your own party, and anyone else the lobbyists can influence. Is this democracy?
Of course not, but it is Corruption Bay; and those we find lurking there today are worthy successors to the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.
‘Why Brighton?’ you ask, and the answer is because that’s where his mates are. ‘Mates!’ Yes, you must remember his partners from the Cardiff Bay property business. I wrote about it in Baywatch and Baywatch 2. In particular, Mark Philip Carter, a director with James of Building and Estate Solutions Today Limited.
The two directors of Ffynnon Consultancy are James and his missus. He with 400 shares, she with 100.
It was always unlikely that when James retires later this month, and surfboards out of county hall on a flood of tears, that he would put on his slippers and take up some innocent pastime like counting his money, or evicting bloggers.
But now, with his own consultancy, his protégée Wendy Walters taking over his job, and Emlyn ‘Two Barns’ Dole keeping the councillors in check, James should be able to run the show by remote control!
For as the old saying has it – You can’t keep a good man down. Or in this case, a vindictive and manipulative megalomaniac, and Private Eye Shit of the Year 2016.
You know he can’t just walk away – for there is a Wellness Village to build!
Talking of which . . . there’s something nagging me, for there is another company with a very similar name to James’s new venture. This being the Ffynnon Consultancy Group Ltd.
‘UAE’ is of course the initials of the United Arab Emirates, and ‘GCC’ stands for Gulf Cooperation Council. So why would this obscure little company be operating in the Gulf?
I ask because I’m sure you’ll remember that it was links with that part of the world that led to suspensions at Swansea University and the halting of city deal funding for the Wellness Village.
The sole director of the Ffynnon Consultancy Group – a one-share company that appears never to have traded or done anything since being formed in June 2016 – was Angela Louise Williams of Llandybie, until she was replaced last Friday by Kevin Williams of New Quay, Ceredigion, with the company’s registered address also transferring to New Quay on 3 June.
Given the Gulf connection, I got to wondering if there might also be a link with Swansea University, the Wellness Village, or with outgoing Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James’s new company Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd?
In the hope of getting answers I e-mailed Ffynnon Consultancy Group and received a reply from Kevin Williams, who expressed surprise that Companies House had allowed registrations from two companies with such similar names.
He assured me that neither he nor Angela Louise Williams had any links to either Carmarthenshire County Council or Swansea University. So that would appear to be that . . . just an amazing coincidence . . .
M4 OR NO M4
As I write this, on Monday evening, the word is that tomorrow the ‘Welsh Government’ will not back the proposed M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks. So, on that assumption, here are a few points that immediately popped into the cavernous Jac cranium.
Let us hope that this unexpected decision heralds a new era of development and investment spread across the country, thereby obviating the need for an M4 ‘relief road’.
Presumably the announcement will be accompanied by promises to invest in public transport. Again, I urge that thinking goes beyond the Cardiff region, because there is a country out there.
Nothing would prove this administration’s commitment to both Wales beyond Cardiff and public transport better than a west coast railway line from Carmarthen to Bangor.
Finally, this decision might deter commuters from Bristol and elsewhere moving into Wales for cheaper housing – have you thought about that? Well, have you!
And, finally, this week’s caption competition. I am grateful to the person who supplied this wonderful photograph of Paul and Rowena Williams of Weep for Wales fame. The picture comes from the XscapeNow Facebook page.
These crooks are former owners of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, The Knighton Hotel, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor Hotel and other establishments from Northumberland to Cornwall.
I can’t help thinking that holding an illustration of criminals being caught by the police might be seen as tempting fate.
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 am a nationalist; all my life I have wanted my country, Wales, and my people, the Welsh, to be independent of Britain/England.
I want independence now more than ever.
THE CASE FOR THE ASSEMBLY
Let me start this section by admitting that this piece was prompted by something I read in yesterday’s Wasting Mule. (See below.)
The thought of those buffoons down Cardiff docks having a self-congratulatory bash for twenty years of devolution is insulting to every one of us outside of the tiny minority that has benefited from devolution.
Even so, let us try to be positive and look on the bright side, let’s try to remember the good things that twenty years of devolution have delivered.
Well, there’s . . . um . . . and then there’s, er . . . and we mustn’t forget, uh, you know . . .
Truth is that in concrete and positive terms – beyond free prescriptions and other gimmicks – there really is nothing. For unless you’re Stan ‘the pies’ Thomas or some other ‘developer’, a third sector parasite who smelled easy money and slithered over the border, or you’re one the shysters with their snout in the grants trough, there really is nothing to celebrate about two decades of devolution.
Away from the banal and the everyday we are told by otherwise intelligent people that devolution is a wonderful thing because Wales is taken more seriously as a country because we have an Assembly. We are now in the realm of the symbolic.
Don’t get me wrong, in my younger days I was a great one for the symbolism myself. It’s why I tried to saw the head off a statue in Aberystwyth prior to the Investiture in 1969. For what could be more symbolic than beheading the statue of a soi-disant ‘Prince of Wales’ to remind our people of the beheading of a true Prince of Wales in 1282?
But symbolism can only take you so far. It don’t put food on the table. So I reject the ‘more of a country’ argument. To those who truly care, Wales has always been a country, with or without devolution.
And if symbolism is the best that defenders of devolution can come up with, then in reality there’s little to be said in favour of the Assembly, and nothing to celebrate.
THE CASE AGAINST THE ASSEMBLY
It is proven by countless surveys and studies that Wales is worse off today than she was in 1999 when the First Assembly sat. Whether it’s the economy we look at, or education, the health service, or any other field, Wales has gone backwards over the past twenty years.
That would be bad enough, but because of devolution, and the absurd symbolism attached to the Assembly, devolution has facilitated damage that would have been difficult if not impossible to inflict directly from London.
What am I taking about? Let’s consider a few examples.
I’ve mentioned the third sector, so let me explain what I mean. I’m talking now of the influx we’ve seen of third sector ‘professionals’ to set up or grow organisations that supplement or replace local and/or central government agencies. This influx has been so great that we now have a much bigger third sector pro rata than either England or Scotland.
And because the driving imperative is securing careers and salaries rather than public service devolution has created a vast superstructure of publicly funded bodies competing with each other and duplicating each other’s work. For as I was informed in the answer to a Freedom of Information request submitted to the ‘Welsh Government’ we have no less than 48 organisations combating homelessness.
Each and every one of those organisations has a vested interest in NOT solving the problem of homelessness because to do so would mean a loss of funding resulting in many people losing their cushy jobs.
What applies to homelessness can be extended to every other segment of the third sector – duplication, competition, waste of public funding and a financial disincentive to achieving the espoused goal.
Why does this insane system persist? Because a bloated third sector provides benefits for ‘Welsh’ Labour:
‘Welsh’ Labour can blame the need for such extravagance on the Tories.
A vast third sector needed to combat Tory callousness allows ‘Welsh’ Labour to present itself as ‘caring’.
The third sector provides countless opportunities for ‘Welsh’ Labour to practice the cronyism for which it is rightly famed.
‘Welsh’ Labour uses the third sector as an auxiliary organisation to the party proper and even as a means to extend the influence of the party in areas of the country where it has little electoral support.
This third sector is a creation of devolution, and would be retained, or even expanded, if Plaid Cymru was in coalition with Labour or replaced Labour.
Now let’s consider ways in which Wales is damaged that would have been far more difficult to achieve were it not for devolution.
Not so long ago I wrote about the despoliation of Powys by wind turbines. Specifically, the Hendy site where, under pressure from her London masters, the wretched Leslie Griffiths over-ruled the planning inspector’s decision and allowed the development to proceed.
Let’s say we had no devolution, and someone in London had said; ‘Now look, you Welsh chappies, we intend desecrating some place called Llan-thingey so that some of our hedge fund chums can capitalise on the generous subsidies’. I suggest there would have been a hostile reaction.
But run it through the ‘Welsh Government’ filter, throw in a load of bollocks about saving the planet, and the only objectors can be dismissed as a bunch of ‘nimbys’.
Staying with environmental bollocks, the ‘Welsh Government’ has signed up to the One Planet scam, which in Wales means encouraging an influx of hippies to take over land and ignore planning and other regulations because it’s good for the environment, innit.
The justification given is that Wales must reduce her carbon footprint . . . so we are expected to believe that this can be achieved by encouraging people into Wales, letting them take over unused land, working that land, driving their vehicles around the countryside, and filling the air with smoke from their wood-burning stoves, their joss sticks, and whatever they’re smoking.
Let the full idiocy of that premiss sink in for a minute.
Emboldened by previous successes these well-to-do enviro-shysters are no longer satisfied with hobbit houses and pig shit, they have now set their eyes on vast swathes of our country – and again, the ‘Welsh Government’ is helping, as we see with the Summit to Sea project, the first of many.
Again I ask you to imagine a spokesperson for the London government announce, ‘We shall clear Welsh farmers and other indigenes from the land so that thousands of acres can be taken over by Mr Monbiot and his friends for their rewilding projects’.
There would have been a national outcry . . . but get the ‘Welsh Government’ to promote this clearance and colonisation programme and it confuses the issue, and makes it much easier to push it through.
What I’m describing here is what I’ve dubbed ‘The Godfather Syndrome’. You’ll recall that in that movie the Mafia had a profitable relationship with the Batista regime. Hardly surprising seeing as US corporations controlled the economic life of Cuba and despite being nominally independent the island was almost a colony of the USA.
Something similar is happening in Wales, with the beneficiaries speaking Estuary English rather than Brooklynese. Some may think I’m going too far with this analogy but the facilitating principle is the same – weak leadership here and a colonial relationship with their home country allows such groups and individuals to benefit from our country, at our expense.
Small countries and ex-colonies being run by remote control is a global phenomenon. For example, the ‘stans’ of Central Asia are of course independent – but still take orders from the Kremlin. The former French colonies in West Africa remain under a loose form of French control and the old colonial power regularly sends in the Legion to safeguard its interests.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that George Monbiot is to be compared with Michael Corleone, Vladimir Putin or the President of France but the truth persists that well-organised lobbies and groups such as those to which Monbiot belongs have looked at Wales and said, ‘Mmm, here is a small country, with a devolved legislature and an Assembly stuffed with third-rate politicians that we can bend to our will’.
And because Monbiot and his ilk have establishment connections they are aided by the fact that so much of our national life is controlled by civil servants that ostensibly serve the ‘Welsh Government’ but in reality answer to London.
But it’s not just Monbiot and his environmentalist friends, there’a whole galaxy of interests able to take advantage of ‘The Godfather Syndrome’ in ways that would be impossible without the chimera of devolution and a ‘Welsh’ Assembly acting as a ‘screen’ for what is – as in pre-Castro Cuba – thinly-disguised colonialism.
Finally, there’s the naked corruption. Cardiff Bay is a cess-pit where politicians and civil servants can be ‘influenced’, to the extent that the ‘Welsh Government’ is unique on this island in refusing to introduce a register of lobbyists . . . at the insistence of the lobbyists!
WHERE DO WE GO NEXT?
You must understand that devolution was never supposed to work for Wales. We were offered devolution, in a package with Scotland, because there were some in the Labour Party that agreed with George Robertson, who thought that devolution would “kill the SNP stone dead”.
Obviously he was wrong about the SNP, but in Wales devolution has worked perfectly because ‘the threat of nationalism’ has been represented by Plaid Cymru. After the initial shock of the first Assembly elections in 1999 Plaid obligingly removed Dafydd Wigley and then went on to bury its head up its arse by becoming obsessed with niche issues.
This is why those who argue that devolution is a ‘stepping-stone’ to independence are wrong. As are those who believe that devolution could work if we only ‘got rid of Labour’.
What devolution has achieved – and what it was designed to achieve – is to create a class of politicians, apparatchiki, third sector operatives and others, who either rely on devolution for their pay cheques or else enjoy having status and prestige without the responsibility that would come with independence.
And for as long as it toes the London line this colonial management class will be defended and supported by its Whitehall masters, for it disguises what is not merely continuing control from London but increased control.
Which leaves Wales stuck in a situation where not only is devolution not delivering for Wales, it is actually making things worse than they would be without devolution.
Which, for me, means the choice has to be moving forward or going back. And I want to move forward, to independence. But one of the biggest, and most bizarre, obstacles is that many of those claiming to want independence rush to the defence of devolution!
Make up your bloody mind – you can’t have both!
The UK is already tearing itself apart over Brexit and this leads to an increasing likelihood of Scottish independence and Irish reunification, and then there’s the rise of the far right in England, all of which mean there has never been a better time to push for independence.
Devolution is thoroughly discredited, so anyone defending devolution is lining up with the colonial management class and their London masters.
We must be bold and push for independence, because defending the indefensible leaves the field open for those who will capitalise on devolution’s manifest failure to take us in the opposite direction and, ultimately, assimilation.
But being asked to ‘celebrate’ twenty years of devolution takes me back to 1969 and the Investiture, when we were asked to commemorate 700 years of subjugation. Now where did I put those hacksaws . . .
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 TOWN I LOVED SO WELL
As you’re probably aware, I am a native of Swansea; as it says on my Twitter profile, “A Jack by blood, birth, upbringing and inclination”. Despite having spent most of my life away from the city it remains my home town, it’s where my roots lie, and it’s where my heart will ever be. (Cue violins.)
When I was very young Swansea was still pulling itself together after being knocked about by the Luftwaffe, and despite the disastrous rebuilding of the centre we kids accepted it – ‘modern, see’. Of course, our parents and grandparents missed the old town, Ben Evans department store (‘the Harrods of Wales’) and all the rest.
And as Dylan Thomas reminds us in Return Journey, so much else was gone, including the famous Kardomah cafe, where he had ‘argued the toss’ with Vernon Watkins, Dan Jones, Arthur Janes and the rest of the gang.
On the economic front, the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s were pretty good, you could tell the boss to F— Off on Friday and find a fresh job on Monday.
Despite what Turks and other disbelievers might say, we had the best rugby team in Wales; in summer, Glamorgan could pull 20,000 to St Helen’s, and in football, well, most of the 1958 World Cup team came from Swansea, and if Big John hadn’t been hacked out by the Hungarians in the previous game we would have beaten Brazil and won the competition.
Obviously there was some disappointment when in 1955 Cardiff was named capital, but we soon got over it because what did the title mean in practical terms? So we shrugged and continued to enjoy being the pre-eminent sub-species.
But since the 1980s it’s been noticeably downhill for Swansea in just about every conceivable sphere. And devolution has only made things worse.
BALLS, AND PLAYING SILLY BUGGERS
I’ve mentioned St Helen’s Rugby and Cricket Ground (to give it its full name), which opened in 1873 and held Wales’ first-ever home rugby international in 1882. It hosted rugby internationals until 1954. I suppose some might say that Swansea’s decline began when it lost rugby international games to Cardiff. For Swansea’s loss is invariably Cardiff’s gain.
Since losing rugby international matches in 1954 St Helen’s has also lost Glamorgan CCC games to the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, where crowds are smaller than they were at St Helen’s. So the move would appear to make no economic sense, but that’s to miss the point, for the Swalec Stadium was built so that Cardiff can host England games. Yes, honestly. This of course brings money into the city, but with collateral damage in the loss of our national cricket team.
A loss the political and business leaders of Cardiff consider a price worth paying. Which tells us a number of things, among them that it’s not simply Swansea that loses out to Cardiff’s insatiable greed and self-aggrandisement.
Of course, some of Swansea’s wounds are self-inflicted. The city centre is a disaster area. The planning of traffic movement, one-way systems, pedestrianisation and the rest could have been handed over to a bunch of ten-year-olds forty years ago and today they could be showing their adult children around the city with pride – because they couldn’t have done a worse job than successive city administrations. Administrations that, with all-too-brief interludes, have been Labour.
The most recent such interlude was from 2004 until 2012 when the Liberal Democrat-led Swansea Administration ran the council in coalition with assorted others. In 2004 Plaid Cymru had five councillors, the group led by Darren Price, but refused to join the coalition, deluding itself it held the balance of power and could therefore dictate things. Which didn’t work out, so towards the end Price was having regular and quite open meetings with David ‘Il Duce‘ Phillips, the Labour leader, and ‘Rocking’ Rene Kinzett, local Tory hetman.
This unholy alliance eventually triumphed and Il Duce was restored to power in 2012, carried aloft by a crowd of thousands marching down the Mumbles Road singing the Red Flag interspersed with throaty renditions of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. (OK, I made that bit up.)
In the elections of 2008 Plaid Cymru went down to one seat, and since 2012 it has had none. Darren Price crossed over and sold his soul to Beelzebub. (Trans: is a councillor in Carmarthenshire serving His Omnipotence Mark James.) Today Plaid Cymru barely exists in Swansea. Some ‘Party of Wales’, eh?
That said, not all the wounds were self-inflicted, and not when it comes to the state of the city centre. For long before the rise of internet shopping started doing its damage Swansea’s city centre was being undermined by out-of-town shopping, though as I say, this time the council was not entirely to blame.
Certainly not when it came to the Swansea Enterprise Park on the east side of the River Tawe, overlooked by Bonymaen and Llansamlet, the first and largest Enterprise Zone (as it originally was) in the UK, covering some 735 acres. Planned for light manufacturing and warehousing retailing was given the green light by Nicholas Edwards, Secretary of State for Wales under Margaret Thatcher until 1987.
Major stores and other retail outlets locating to the Enterprise Park certainly hurt the city centre, but then, Edwards couldn’t be bothered with that, because he had bigger fish to fry. For Nicholas Edwards was a man with big plans for Cardiff through the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, set up by him to pump public money into land owned by Associated British Ports, of which he just happened to be the leading director.
This, perhaps the biggest single rip-off of public funding in Welsh history, is detailed in Corruption Bay, a document I compiled almost 20 years ago, but the facts, and the interpretations, still hold up.
DEVOLUTION – SHAFTED AGAIN!
Corruption Bay also explains why our Notional Assembly came to be located in Cardiff Bay – for the benefit of Associated British Ports, and as a ‘consolation prize’ for the opera house was that was never built. For among the countless ‘hats’ worn by Nick Edwards were director of the Welsh National Opera and chairman of the Cardiff Bay Opera Trust.
Even though Cardiff Bay eventually won the Assembly Swansea Guildhall was the only site that met the criteria on value for money and availability set out by Secretary of State Ron Davies in the search for a home for the new institution after negotiations over Cardiff City Hall – the assumed location for the Assembly – collapsed. But once again, Swansea was done down by certain influencers in Cardiff. (Explained in Corruption Bay.)
This competition ‘won’ by Swansea seems to have been written out of recent Welsh history; but then, as Churchill said, history is written by the victors, and what passes for the ‘Welsh media’ is the voice of Cardiff. (Fortunately, the subterranean and bomb-proof Jo’tN archives contain a library of newspaper articles from the period.)
After the ‘competition’ was launched, and as the terrifying prospect of the Assembly being housed in Swansea sunk in, the Western Mail and the rest of the ‘Welsh media’ went into hyper-drive, even accusing politicians and civil servants of leaning on Ron Davies to favour Swansea, as this ludicrous article from 3 March 1998 spells out.
Yes, Rachel Lomax, then top civil servant at the Welsh Office, had been born in Swansea; and yes, there was something odd and unconvincing about her spat with council leader Russell Goodway over leasing Cardiff City Hall; but there was never any danger of the Assembly not being in Cardiff, but it was going to the Bay, for the benefit of Nick Edwards and his mates in Associated British Ports.
Which meant that the real beneficiaries of a National Assembly for Wales were a bunch of Tories who had always opposed devolution. They laughed all the way to their banks. (Which were probably offshore.)
How energetically Swansea’s case was argued by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ is anyone’s guess. If I had to put money on it, I’d say the response was, ‘OK, fair enough, we’ll pass the message on’.
Even after the disappointment of electrification and the tidal lagoon there were still bright spots in the gloom. Among them, the growing reputation of Swansea University, and its increasingly lucrative spin-offs.
Now I won’t deny that the Wellness Village project may be the ultimate vanity project; and maybe the University’s involvement should have appeared more institutional than personal; but at the same time, I can imagine certain interests in Cardiff jumping at the opportunity to take Swansea University down a peg or two. And the ‘Welsh Government’ was only too happy to assist.
Vice-Chancellor Richard Davies has been replaced by Paul Boyle, an uninspiring Englishman who is “looking forward to being back by the sea!” – is he going paddling? No doubt Boyle is under instructions to rein in Swansea’s ambition and not get ideas above his University’s ordained station (below Cardiff in any rankings that matter).
UPDATE 13.03.2019: Just one day after I published this post the Western Mail, which used to be known as Llais y Sais (voice of the English), and could more correctly be re-named Llais Caerdydd (voice of Cardiff), published another piece it hoped would reflect badly on Swansea University. The unmistakeable message in the unattributed article is that these donations are ‘irregular’, perhaps dirty money.
AND THEN THERE’S THE WELSH RUGBY UNION
It’s difficult to know where to start with this section, because rarely, even in the history of Wales, have so many been pissed off by so few. The few in question belong to the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and something called the Professional Rugby Board. Few would have heard of the PRB until last week.
For it was last week we heard that the WRU intended forcing through a merger of the Ospreys (the West Glamorgan region) and the Scarlets, the Llanelli super club. Not only that, but we also learnt that the WRU had previously tried to force through a ‘merger’ of the Ospreys with Cardiff Blues, another club that rejected regional rugby back in 2003.
No matter on which level we consider this, or from which angle we approach it, these proposed ‘mergers’ are insane. The Ospreys are Wales’s most successful rugby outfit yet the WRU wants to do away with them.
And then, how drunk do you have to be to think that Swansea rugby fans, having seen their team killed off, would travel the 40-odd miles to support Cardiff?
And when it comes to the takeover by Llanelli Scarlets, the WRU’s argument is that the Ospreys are broke while the Scarlets are in rude financial health. Llanelli Scarlets were for a long time kept afloat by the WRU, then Carmarthenshire County Council – Mark James again – took over the life-support system and poured in millions of pounds of council taxpayers’ money.
Not only that, but all manner of imaginative special arrangements were dreamed up by Mark James to keep Llanelli Scarlets, and their white elephant stadium, afloat. Because Parc y Scarlets has never been financially viable. Whereas the Ospreys have no such worries because they share the Liberty Stadium with the Swans.
Mark James retires in June, and when he’s gone those who have cowered in his shadow this many a year may grow cojones and start questioning some of his decisions. Not least why Carmarthenshire County Council has written off millions of pounds owed to the people of Carmarthenshire by Llanelli Scarlets. And why revenue was lost in ‘concessions’ and all manner of questionable arrangements.
But anyone, in the Welsh Rugby Union, or anywhere else, who thinks that Llanelli Scarlets is a financial success story must be relying on the kind of accountants who appear on this blog . . . and often appear before a judge and jury.
Looking east, the WRU owns Newport Dragons, the least successful of our four ‘regions’. Newport is the same distance from Cardiff as Llanelli is from Swansea, so why not merge Cardiff and Newport into a South East region, and have them play at a new stadium to be built in Pontypridd or Pontypool? For neither Cardiff nor Newport has made any serious attempt to engage with their Valleys’ hinterlands. Making a mockery of ‘regional rugby’.
Another aspect is that these absurd mergers were proposed because the WRU wants a new region in the north. Back in 2003, when regional rugby was being discussed, David Moffett, then group CEO of the Welsh Rugby Union, proposed four regions: North, West (Llanelli, Swansea, Neath and others playing in Swansea), South (Cardiff, Pontypridd, Bridgend and the Central Valleys), and East (Gwent).
Llanelli, Cardiff and Newport refused to become regions but called themselves regions anyway, and the WRU caved in. Swansea and Neath merged to form the Ospreys, a genuine region, and they are now being rewarded with oblivion.
Whatever the WRU’s grand plan may have been – and I’m being generous in assuming there is, or was, a coherent plan – viewed from Swansea this looks like just another Cardiff-based organisation doing Swansea down.
And if the WRU has its way and destroys the Ospreys then a new rugby entity will almost certainly emerge in Swansea and may have no alternative but to affiliate to the English Rugby Football Union. Is that really what those clowns in the WRU and the PRB want?
MAKING SENSE OF IT
Sticking with the Welsh Rugby Union for a minute, nothing surprises me when it comes to that BritNat-Masonic outfit, forever fawning over English royals, with its ludicrous feathers badge. Other countries have emblems representing the country and its people, Wales has one representing an individual claiming to be ‘Prince of Wales’ who has as much claim to the title as my cat.
Looking back to 1955 and the announcement that Cardiff was the official capital of Wales, maybe the rot set in for Swansea then, for it was obvious that, being more convenient for England, all manner of agencies would base themselves in Cardiff. Since then it’s been a drip-drip effect.
Devolution should have ‘evened things out’, but instead it’s made them worse, and not just for Swansea but for every part of Wales other than Cardiff. It used to be said – I heard it back in the 1970s – that devolution would simply give us ‘Glamorgan County Council on stilts’. Devolution has actually given us Cardiff City Council on steroids.
The reason devolution has failed ninety per cent of Wales economically is that concentrating everything in Cardiff has made it easier for bodies concerned only with Cardiff to influence decisions for Wales. For example, I guarantee that the denizens of the Cardiff and County Club have more influence on the economic life of Swansea than Swansea council and all the politicians the Swansea region sends to Cardiff Bay and Westminster combined. And that influence is malign.
And Swansea has no independent voice to speak up for her. The Evening Post, once Wales’s biggest selling daily ‘paper (it may still be), is now printed in England and censored in Cardiff, and losing readers fast; partly because it refuses to criticise the Labour Party, whether in County Hall or Cardiff Bay.
And all the while, thanks to this combination of Labour ineptitude, the lack of an effective media, and Cardiff pushing to become a major provincial city on a par with Bristol or Leeds, Swansea and the rest of the country must pay the price.
Poor old Swansea!
♦ end ♦
UPDATE 15.03.2019: From today’s Western Mail. BBC Radio Wales is dropping Mal Pope of Swansea from its schedules and it looks as if it’s also closing the historic Alexandra Road studios from where Dylan Thomas broadcast.
In a few days time Neil McEvoy, the Assembly Member for the South Wales Central region, is up before the beak, in the form of Sir Roderick Evans, the Standards Commissioner. The charge is that McEvoy used equipment the Assembly had provided for constituency work for party political purposes.
The story that I’m about to relate is complicated, compiled from a number of sources, but an internal consistency becomes evident as interwoven threads emerge. Also certain attitudes I have written about before.
One of those threads is that there are people across the political spectrum who wish that boat-rocking Neil McEvoy would just go away . . . but if he won’t do the decent thing with a 37 bus then they’ll have to do it themselves.
And this hostility seems to transcend party divides, uniting those who huff and puff, play silly games, and in reality do nothing but oversee the continuing decline of Wales.
But let us start at the beginning.
Neil McEvoy is one of the most easily recognised politicians in the Assembly. He’s certainly popular with people who take no more than a passing interest in politics, and that’s because he is seen to stick it to the man. Regularly. God knows Wales doesn’t have many other politicians doing this.
His background is Arab-Irish-English, just the sort of candidate Plaid Cymru has been looking for to make the breakthrough in Cardiff, or so you might have thought. And his arrival in Plaid was followed by something of a breakthrough.
Before McEvoy joined the party in 2003 Plaid Cymru had just one seat in Cardiff (Creigiau) and little chance of success anywhere else. Yet from 2008 to 2012 Plaid Cymru – with seven seats – was in a ruling coalition with the Liberal Democrats and Neil McEvoy served as deputy council leader.
By the council elections of 2017 Neil McEvoy and the two other Plaid candidates for the Fairwater ward were elected with the biggest Plaid vote in any ward in Wales, while in the wider Cardiff West constituency Plaid came second to Labour in every other ward, winning the average popular vote.
The picture is equally impressive on the national stage.
In 2016 Neil McEvoy was elected Assembly Member for the South Wales Central region. He also stood for the Cardiff West constituency and almost doubled the Plaid Cymru vote from his own showing in 2011.
In fact, McEvoy came close to sparing us the embarrassment of Mark Drakeford as first minister. If the current trend continues then there’s a strong chance that McEvoy will beat Drakeford in the 2021 election.
Though of course some will argue that this growth in support would have happened without Neil McEvoy.
In addition to the bare numbers provided by elections Neil McEvoy has shaken things up in other ways:
He was the first person in UK politics to use Facebook videos. He was mocked for doing so, now it’s the norm.
This helps explain why those who believe devolution is nothing but a system that allows local ‘friendlies’ to manage Wales on England’s behalf – without engaging the excitable natives – regard Neil McEvoy as dangerous, and that’s why they’ll go to any lengths to damage him.
For example, back in March 2017, at the instigation of the Labour Party and its third sector cronies Plaid Cymru suspended Neil McEvoy on a trumped up charge of ‘bullying’. (In reality, he was standing up to City Hall for a constituent.)
The picture below shows former Labour councillor Paul Mitchell holding a copy of the local newspaper at a gathering of Labourites celebrating McEvoy’s misfortune. (Interesting that they felt the need to hide behind curtains that were the height of fashion in 1960s East Germany.)
If every picture tells a story then the message from this one is, never underestimate how much the Labour Party hates Neil McEvoy, and the lengths they’ll go to to destroy him. Equally, never forget how eager Plaid Cymru is to appease the English Labour Party in Wales.
Michael Deem is not a name familiar to many of you, but he’s central to this story, for it was Deem who made the complaint to the Standards Commissioner.
What know we of Mr Deem?
Well, he seems to have emerged from the gloom in 2015, saying he was interested in what Plaid Cymru was doing and wanted to be part of it, and was welcomed into the fold. In July 2016 he became manager of Neil McEvoy’s Cardiff West constituency office.
His rise within the party continued and after prime minister May called an election for June 2017 in the hope of boosting her majority he was hurriedly adopted as the Cardiff West candidate. Deem and Plaid Cymru suffered a bad defeat, coming a poor third, with less than 10 per cent of the vote.
Making enquiries into Michael Deem proved interesting. For it’s not often I get to write about an Asda selling champion. According to his Linkedin profile he’s still working for Asda, but I’m told he’s now working for HMRC, so he appears to have abandoned Linkedin.
Fortunately, some photographs exist of Michael Deem during his Asda days. He was something of a flag-waver. Of course, this can’t be held against him, he probably had no choice in the matter . . . but he still seems very enthusiastic.
The montage below contains two photos of him waving the flag for Asda and Britain, another shows him outside Buckingham Palace, while the fourth has him waving that flag again, but this time there seems to be no Asda connection, it looks like his own choice. Where is he?
As I’ve said, he was office manager for Neil McEvoy – and a disaster in the job. One of his primary duties was dealing with constituents’ casework, which he claimed to be doing but rarely did. This had consequences, such as one constituent losing out on his pension. There were dozens of other complaints.
And of course, this ‘negligence’ (if such it was) reflected badly on Neil McEvoy.
In addition to neglecting his duties he enjoyed playing the petty tyrant, especially towards a young female employee. Even throwing things at her! This was witnessed and reported by a member of the public.
Then there were the mood swings. And the debts Deem ran up that his employer, Neil McEvoy, had to pay out of his own pocket. And let’s not forget the time he was reported to the Information Commissioner for copying and sharing highly confidential information. There were unauthorised holidays . . .
After being suspended in July 2017 Deem joined the trade union Unite which I have described before as the Labour Party by another name. It wasn’t long before the workings of Plaid Cymru’s Cardiff West constituency office were being discussed in Labour circles.
After a protracted process Deem was eventually sacked early in 2018. His appeal was dismissed by the Assembly’s Legal Service. He then threatened McEvoy with an Employment Tribunal unless he (Deem) was paid £8,000. McEvoy told Deem – via ACAS – that he was prepared to go to a Tribunal. That was the end of the matter and Unite withdrew its support.
By August 2018 Deem was using his Facebook page to appeal for advice. Now what I find interesting about this appeal is Deem’s belief that he’s going to be a UK media sensation for putting the boot into McEvoy! Is it all being done for publicity?
Or is he just deluded, for Michael Deem is a young man with a high opinion of himself, and a bully when he can get away with it?
For while he was useless at his job he was good at promoting himself. This explains being selected for Cardiff West in the 2017 Westminster election. In that campaign he refused all advice from Neil McEvoy who knew the constituency so well and he came a very poor third. Having pinned his hopes on becoming an MP his attitude towards Neil McEvoy and the constituency office deteriorated even further.
Michael Deem effectively did himself out of a job, but he’s never going to accept that. What’s more, given that his dispute is with Neil McEvoy there will be no shortage of people encouraging him to believe that he’s the latest victim of an ogre.
If the Standards Commissioner rejects Deem’s complaint we can probably expect McEvoy’s enemies in Plaid Cymru to find some old biddy who’ll claim she was elbowed in the face by Neil McEvoy when they were reaching for the parsnips in Tesco. Or maybe some child will sob to BBC Wales cameras that Neil McEvoy ran over ‘Freddy’, his pet cockroach, while speeding through Splott in his (almost certainly uninsured) car.
What do you mean, I’m being ridiculous? Check out the things that have been said about Neil McEvoy by Leanne Wood and her cronies, by the Labour Party, by Deryn, by the harridans of the third sector. Also, what they’ve persuaded others to say. And they’re still at it!
But the relationship was not always so fraught.
THE MCEVOY ENIGMA
When Neil McEvoy was simply a Cardiff councillor and an aspiring Assembly Member he could be encouraged just like any other Plaid candidate. But when he was elected to the Assembly in 2016, and more importantly when he started making waves, then he became a danger.
That’s because there are too many in Plaid Cymru with a bipolar view of politics. On the one hand they see the ‘progressives’ of the left (Plaid, Labour, Greens), while on the other hand are arrayed the forces of reaction (Tories, Ukip, Beelzebub and me). The Welsh dimension does not intrude into this paradigm.
Guided by this alignment Plaid Cymru see it as their duty to link with Labour and Greens (both very English parties) to fight the enemy in some ideological precursor to Armageddon.
This makes Neil McEvoy, a charismatic and confrontational politician, doing the best for his constituents and his country, a threat that has to be dealt with. For in addition to the eternal struggle against the forces of darkness there are many cushy jobs in the third sector and elsewhere to consider, sinecures in revivified quangos, peerages even; plus lucrative contracts within the gift of the ‘Welsh’ and UK governments. All these are dependent on Plaid Cymru not making waves.
It has been relatively easy for Plaid Cymru to isolate Neil McEvoy because he doesn’t belong to any of the cliques making up the party. Which I would loosely define as the cultural-linguistic wing, the environmentalist wing, and the niche socialist wing.
These classifications are not mutually exclusive, of course, but no matter how much they may overlap the fact remains that Neil McEvoy fits into none of them. He is just a Cardiff boy who knows his city and its people better than anyone who’s moved to Cardiff from Ceredigion or Gwynedd.
He also knows what’s wrong with Cardiff, and with Wales . . . and who’s to blame. But wearing bipolar lenses makes Plaid Cymru think Labour is blameless.
For most of the half century and more that I’ve been observing Plaid Cymru the cry has been, ‘How can we appeal to the South?’ It could now be argued that the Valleys are winnable, which leaves the cities of the coast.
Where Neil McEvoy has made the breakthrough in appealing to the natives of Kerdiff (bless ’em!). For he is one of their own and so they listen to him, and they like what they hear, so they vote for him.
Plaid Cymru should be delighted, but no; for the reasons I’ve already given, his popular appeal unsettles the party hierarchy . . . and of course it threatens the re-election of first minister Mark Drakeford.
Which explains why the attacks from Leanne Wood’s disciples continue. Here’s a truly bizarre one that came out of the blue on Thursday from Cyffin Thomas and others. Thomas “writes monthly-ish articles for the Lampeter Grapevine“.
What provoked this? What the hell were they trying to say to the first AM of colour born in Wales? Does being gay and socialist give you licence to say anything? Can you imagine the outcry from my many ‘progressive’ admirers if I’d said something like that? Or if I’d used black images?
We’re dealing with hypocrites here. Hypocrites who’ve been allowed to hide behind their rainbow flags, or their gender, or what they imagine to be the moral superiority bestowed by ‘socialism’, and they’ve got away with lies and insults for too long.
With his period of expulsion drawing to a close some new excuse for excluding Neil McEvoy had to be found. And that’s all you need to know about this allegation by Michael Deem. A charge levelled by a dismissed employee who is almost certainly being egged on by others.
In essence, the ‘charge’ is that a former Plaid Cymru AM used his office for the benefit of . . . Plaid Cymru! The complaint made by a Plaid Cymru member.
Nobody disputes that Neil McEvoy works hard for his constituents, so it seems bloody strange to me that the former office manager would complain about the office he himself was supposed to be running.
WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE
However we look at it, this case reflects badly on Plaid Cymru, yet it doesn’t surprise me one bit.
For as I’ve told you before, I have long believed that there is an element within Plaid Cymru determined to scupper any threat of real success. A grouping that regards the prospect of independence with horror.
Those I’m referring to want Plaid Cymru to:
ignore Welsh issues – ‘ugly nationalism’ – or else frame them in a British or global context
maintain a level of support just enough to inhibit the emergence of a true nationalist party
Making Plaid Cymru the perfect ‘nationalist party’ . . . from London’s perspective.
Cast your mind back to the removal of Dafydd Wigley in 2000. He had just led Plaid Cymru to its greatest ever success in the first Assembly elections of 1999. But before the cheering had died down elements within Plaid Cymru were working to remove their party’s greatest electoral asset . . . and to replace him with Ieuan Wyn Jones!
The excuse used was Wigley’s heart condition, and his general health. Nineteen years later he’s fit and well, leading an active life and regularly attending the House of Lords.
I’m not saying that Neil McEvoy is as important to Plaid Cymru’s electoral success as Dafydd Wigley, but there is a parallel to be drawn.
I suggest that because Plaid Cymru prefers corporate blandness to individual sparkle; and craves the kind of ‘respectability’ it believes is only achieved by not offending authority. Given the mess Wales is in, such an approach is little more than self-serving defeatism.
This is why, when Neil McEvoy was elected to the Assembly, I wrote in Assembly Elections 2016: Hopes and Ashes: “I just hope that the Plaid establishment doesn’t ‘get to’ him. Plaid Cymru needs more Neil McEvoys and fewer sons of the manse and masters of cynghanedd, and fewer entryists using the party to promote socialist, environmentalist and other agendas.”
The Plaid establishment clearly did ‘get to’ Neil McEvoy, but he resisted, and when he wouldn’t bend to their will they sought to attack him at every opportunity. Just ask yourself – whose interest is being served by Plaid Cymru and its nefarious allies continually undermining such an electoral asset?
Worked it out yet?
If there’s a young firebrand out there wanting to give the system a kick in the nuts, then Uncle Jac’s advice would be: ‘Don’t waste your time with a compromised establishment party that will only stab you in the back if you look like achieving anything. Try your luck with Ein Gwlad’.
I’m even tempted to offer the same advice to Neil McEvoy. But I suspect he’s more loyal to Plaid Cymru than certain elements of Plaid Cymru are to him, or the party.
♦ end ♦
UPDATE 07.01.2019: Soon after posting this article I received an e-mail notification of a comment to my Facebook page. Unfortunately, the comment – in response to Delaney M Christian – had been pulled before I could see it.
Llinos Price is one of those to whom I referred in the article, a woman dangerously obsessed with Neil McEvoy and determined to damage him. Last year she started a petition against him.
When she’s not sticking pins into her voodoo doll of Neil McEvoy her day job appears to be with the Woodland Trust. That is the same Woodland Trust involved with George Monbiot and his gang, using the management team in Cardiff docks to take money off Welsh farmers and hand it to a replacement population in the form of ‘re-wilders’ and other would-be colonists involved in the Summit to Sea scam.
It never ceases to amaze me how many of the prissy and self-regarding devolution elite, so profuse in their loyalties to Wales, seem to fall in with the ugliest and most blatantly colonialist organisations and projects. Maybe ethnic cleansing is now ‘progressive’.
They really do need to step back from the Bay Bubble and take a long hard look at where Wales is headed.
It may be Hallowe’en but you’ll find no ghosties or ghoulies here, just the usual parade of grotesques and exhibitions of idiocy and cupidity that haunt modern Wales. Night and day. All year round.
Seeing as I haven’t put anything out for over a week this is a bumper issue, around 4,000 words, but there’s no single, linking theme other than the sheer fuckedupedness of Wales. I have, as old Nennius said, ‘made a heap of things’. On the plus side, because this is a meal made up of a number of courses, you can take your time.
And if kids come knocking on your door, demanding money with menaces, set the dog on them.
THE OLIVE TRUST
In the previous post, Hate Crime, I told you about the insults aimed at me by Denise Kingsley-Acton, a very strange woman currently domiciled in Kidwelly. A very strange woman indeed. That anyone takes her seriously is difficult to believe, but if they do it may be due to the fact that she has a ‘minder’ in the form of Swansea Labour councillor for 43 years, and now Alderman, Alan Lloyd.
While Lloyd obviously opens doors for Denise Kingsley-Acton, it’s difficult to see what he gets out of it. But being a former Labour councillor we can be sure that he’s not acting as her guide and guarantor for altruistic reasons.
Since posting that piece last week a bit more information has come to light, some of which was added as an update, some of which will be fresh.
You no doubt shared my astonishment that this woman had been given a grant to educate young people about hate crimes. According to her Facebook page she had received a grant from the “Police Commissioner for Dafed (sic) Powys”. So I wrote to the PCC.
The initial response from the office of the PCC said, “The Police and Crime Commissioner has not awarded a grant to the Olive Trust. The grant was awarded from the Safer Dyfed-Powys Diogelach charity, to which the Commissioner is a trustee.”
After a follow-up e-mail I was told, again from the office of the PCC, “The grant was awarded to the Olive Trust as an organisation and it was for £1000.” The wording suggests that we should regard the Olive Trust as something unconnected with Denise Kingsley-Acton, when in fact she is the Olive Trust, and the Olive Trust is her.
I’m still waiting to hear if the grant offer has been withdrawn.
The latest entry on the Olive Trust Facebook page is shown below.
Denise Kingsley-Acton says I have harassed her “continually for many years”. The truth is that in 2012 I wrote about her attempt to screw £1,000,000 out of the Wales European Funding Office. There was a passing reference in September 2014, before two pieces about her in March this year after someone had drawn my attention to an article in Llanelli Online.
That was it, until the bizarre and slanderous allegations that came out of the blue on October 19. Had I not received those insults it’s unlikely I would have written about her ever again.
But if I learn that the Olive Trust or Denise Kingsley-Acton is trying to rip off the public purse, again; or if she posts slanders about me, again; then I shall write about her, again. And that’s a promise.
Mumbles and its pier is close to my heart. I can remember as a young boy riding the old Mumbles Train that used to clatter along the seafront.
In my early teens I spent many happy hours, whole days even, fishing. We’d usually cycle down, fishing rods strapped to our crossbars, bags on our backs containing tackle, bait, sandwiches (which often got mixed up).
At the pier we’d follow the tide out, which meant, once the two top bars of the safety rail around the eastern ‘well’ on the intermediate level became visible, working our way along, standing on the middle bar and holding tight onto the top one with one hand while holding our rod in the other, with bag on back, until we reached the far side, so that the fast ebbing tide could take our lines. And as the tide ebbed further the death-defying stunt was repeated on the bottom level.
I look back at what we did then and I wonder how we survived. Because anyone falling into the ‘well’ would either have been trapped under the floor and drowned, or else been taken out to sea so fast that they would have been lost unless a nearby boat could have reached them quickly.
From home to pier was a seven-mile ride, which was great on the first leg, partly because we were fresh and partly because it was downhill into town and then flat along the Mumbles Road. Coming home after a day’s fishing the pedals would always be heavier, especially if there were no nice fish to show your mam.
As an older teenager I did the Mumbles Mile on a Saturday night. Often after watching the Swans. We’d come out of the Vetch, have a bite to eat in a little caff we used in Wind Street, wash and brush up in one of those old public conveniences with an attendant, then catch the bus (was it the 77?) to Mumbles – White Rose, Pilot, Prince of Wales, Antelope . . . before walking home, which with diversions and digressions might mean getting home in time for breakfast
But then, I’m sure Mumbles and the pier plays a role in the life of anyone from Swansea and the wider area.
So it’s understandable why there is such interest in the proposed development. Now I shan’t comment on the development itself because it’s complicated – obstruction of views, etc – and I don’t have the space here, but there are a few points worth raising.
Someone we’ve encountered on this blog more than once is Lawrence Bailey, former leader of the local Labour Party, former Lord Mayor, and of course leader of the council. Or, rather, he was fulfilling these roles when he could tear himself away from his real interest of pornography. For which he was awarded the coveted Private Eye Pornographer of the Year award.
He also used to write to the Evening Post as Phyllis Evans of Cwmrhydyceirw, Disgusted of Dunvant, and a host of others who all seemed to support the Labour Party. Fancy! It seems likely that the Beans on Toast was complicit in this deception.
After these unfortunate revelations Bailey resigned from the council and branched out into public relations with a company called Whiterock, which first came to my attention when ‘Stan’ pointed out that this outfit was receiving regular payments from the dike-bashing MP for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris.
(Who, let’s be brutally honest, needs all the image-massaging she can get.)
Bailey seems to have used the Whiterock name for some time before registering it with Companies House in August 2015. Nothing else was ever filed with Companies House and Whiterock-Wales was dissolved in January 2017.
This is something I come across regularly, many different but similar names designed solely to confuse. So tell us, Lawrence, what is the name of your company and is it registered? Nobody’ll care if you’re just a one-man band. We all know you enjoy your own company.
Of course, Bailey’s big attraction for any potential client is that he knows the local Labour Party, he’s another like Lloyd who can open doors. So it should surprise no one to learn that he is representing owners Ameco who are hoping to make many millions of pounds from luxury housing in the vicinity of the pier as the ransom price for renovating the pier itself.
There was a meeting a couple of months back between the developers and the council, or at least, the council leader, Rob Stewart. Someone sent me a link to a secretly-filmed video, which I can no longer find, but fortunately I took a few screen grabs which you can see below.
Stewart is the one in the dark suit and Bailey is the grey-headed geezer.
This is all run-of-the-mill stuff for a Labour council, but now protesters are arguing something very odd may have happened around the time the outline planning application (2010/1451) was received by the council on 17 September, 2010.
This was during a period when the city was enjoying a respite from Labour rule with a Lib Dem-led alliance in charge. Which of course meant that Bailey’s political connections would have counted for naught.
What’s being suggested is that during a process of digitisation in 2010, by the council’s officers, the boundary of the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was moved so that the land on which the housing development is now planned was somehow moved outside the AONB. Here’s a BBC report.
Now if this suggestion is true, then it could scupper the whole development. If the boundary change was deliberate rather than error, then who might be responsible? Names of people – who may or may not be connected with Lawrence y Garreg Wen – carry on zephyrs wafting up from Mumbles.
Anyone with information is welcome to get in touch, with the usual guarantee of anonymity. Either use the contact box in the sidebar or write to email@example.com.
UPDATE 03.11.2018: The whole thing has now been put on hold by the ‘Welsh’ Government. It seems Swansea council has the power to refuse planning permission but it does not have the power to grant planning permission.
UPDATE 07.11.2018: In a strange twist, Swansea council’s planning committee has unanimously voted to approve the scheme. Does this mean that the Labour Party in Swansea is starting to stand up to London’s management team in Cardiff? Does it suggest that opponents of the scheme may not be as representative of the wider public as they might like to believe?
A LITTLE PLACE IN THE WEST
You may recall that the chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, Mark Vincent James, has a keen personal interest in property, with properties of his own in Cardiff Bay. I wrote about this in Baywatch and Baywatch 2.
Now I learn that he is branching out with a company called Cartrefi Croeso Cyfyngedig (CCC, geddit?) This report from 6 June tells us, among other things, that, “The council is the sole shareholder in Cartrefi Croeso, which will have five directors – two council officers, one councillor and two external appointees.”
As I say, that was early June, here we are at the end of October and according to Companies House there are just two directors, both employees of the council, and therefore answerable to Mark James not the elected representatives. But James’s hold over this new company doesn’t end there.
So we now have a company, Cartrefi Croeso Cyf, using public money, run by people answerable only to Mark James, but with no democratic accountability whatsoever. What the hell is the Plaid Cymru-led council doing?
A regular source whose judgement I trust reminds me that Cartrefi Croeso is another arms-length company of the kind that Mark James seems to favour as a way of running and controlling things without having to worry about answering to those who pay his salary. Or anyone else.
Another such company is CWM Environmental Ltd. (Carmarthenshire Waste Management.) Something similar has happened to social care, and leisure services will be next. While looming at Delta Lakes is the Wellness Centre Village, where the lame shall be made to walk, one-eyed Scarlets’ supporters will be blessed with 20/20 vision . . . and some shifty buggers will make a fortune from the public purse thanks to Mark Vincent James.
From the perspective of a man like Mark James setting up private companies run by his placemen offers many advantages. Like some Mafia don he controls things but his underlings take any flak. Being private companies they are not subject to Freedom of Information requests (as they would be as in-house council departments). And of course rules on the use of the Welsh language do not apply.
It is quite amazing how, in a Western democracy, the employee of a public body can take over that body and run it as if it were some private company he had created himself! Which would be bad enough, but neither the elected representatives of those that employ him, nor the superior level of government that should be holding him to account, are prepared to do anything!
But as I keep saying, Wales has more in common with the third world than with Western Europe: Poverty, colonialism, exploitation, colonisation, widespread corruption, no oversight and monitoring of public officials and public bodies, etc., etc.
A FAIT ACCOMPLI
Midnight yesterday was the deadline for submissions in a consultation process launched on July 10 about the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) to farmers. It’s been pretty clear for some time that the whole issue is being controlled from London and that the management team in Cardiff docks is simply doing what it’s told, and saying what it’s told to say.
Though in fairness it was all play-acting, for his masters had decided the outcome long in advance. The showboating and the bluster, the trips to Edinburgh, the ‘strong words’ for Mrs May’s government, were designed to placate a certain audience that in Wales often seems to care more about the EU than it does about Wales.
As a direct consequence of the Labour management team agreeing that the London Government could effectively withdraw BPS we now face the destruction of Welsh upland farming, together with the jobs, plus the language and the culture, farming sustains.
But this has little to do directly with Brexit, for if Carwyn Jones had not surrendered powers to London Welsh farmers could be receiving the same treatment as their Scottish counterparts, who have been guaranteed the continuation of the Basic Payment Scheme.
The sad little mouthpieces of the collaborationist regime in Cardiff docks, are reading from scripts prepared for them by civil servants like those you see above, one of whom has been heard to say that he hates farmers! Making it clear that Welsh farmers are to be forced from their land to make way for more English settlers. I wrote about it in The Welsh Clearances.
I can hear the objections – ‘But you misrepresent the proposals, Jac!’ Do I? Let the readers decide.
Funding is to be withdrawn from farmers and given to environmentalists, ‘re-wilders’ and others without whose help Mother Nature would simply give up and go home. The losers will almost all be Welsh, while the winners will be overwhelmingly English, but we’re expected to believe that this is pure coincidence.
Though it must be said, that over many years there have been some people (especially in Plaid Cymru) who have been very supportive of this replacement population. In fact, some seem to have identified more strongly with incoming ‘environmentalists’ than with their own people.
While Remain fanatics argue that farmers have brought it on themselves by voting for Brexit. Ignoring the fact that this is a decision taken by the London government using Brexit as a pretext.
Wake up! This is undisguised colonialism. Taking land off the natives is what our masters are good at, they’ve been doing it for centuries. That so much Welsh land is still in Welsh hands is an affront to everyone in whose veins runs the blood of pith-helmeted district officers and their crinolined memsahibs.
THE DISASTER OF DEVOLUTION
Reading this blog can I’m told be both entertaining and informative, but often depressing. (It’s the same writing it, but I take my ‘medicine’.) While things at the moment may look more depressing than usual I’m strangely – perhaps perversely – encouraged by recent developments.
First, the crushing defeat dished out to Leanne Wood in the Plaid Cymru leadership election made her acolytes realise how little support there is for niche politics. And if there is little support within Plaid Cymru for such nonsense then there’s even less support in the wider population. But then, when you debate issues in echo chambers you can persuade yourself that everybody is discussing what you and a tiny group of friends think is important.
That said, I can’t see Plaid Cymru getting its act together over the longer term. It will fall back into its old ways, because despite being a minority, the niche left knows how to inveigle itself into positions of influence and authority, and to intimidate others into silence. The ‘nationalists’ will have to reach some compromise with LW’s supporters.
Which means that eventually, a new party will be needed to prioritise the needs and interests of Welsh people while working towards the independent state that alone can permanently safeguard those needs and interests. Ein Gwlad already exists, and will grow into that role.
Looking at the wider picture it should now be obvious that devolution is a sham. But worse than being a sham, devolution, and the existence of a ‘Welsh’ Government, allows the UK government to get away with things that might have been very difficult without devolution.
Let’s take a few very recent examples to explain what I mean.
THE FLINT RING
This ‘initiative’ came from Cadw, which is just English Heritage West, ensuring a ‘safe’ and acceptable interpretation of Welsh history. That being so, we can be sure that the Flint Ring idea originated over the border.
To give an example of how Cadw operates I’ll go back a couple of years to something I found on its website. Cadw was promoting, “It’s 1295 and peace reigns in Caernarfon”, before going on to paint a picture of English soldiers flirting with Welsh maids. (Yes, honestly!)
The truth is of course that in 1294/5 Wales was in rebellion, and Caernarfon Castle was taken by Madog ap Llywelyn’s men. Any English soldiers still in the castle would either have been lying dead somewhere or, if they were lucky, languishing in the dungeons.
After I put out a tweet Cadw immediately took the page down. But why did the body entrusted with interpreting and presenting Welsh history get it so wrong, giving out a picture of Welsh and English living happily together in conquered Wales, us Welsh not at all resentful?
Shit! I’ve just answered my own question.
Interpreting a colonial people’s history is fundamental to maintaining a hold over that people. This is Cadw’s role in Wales. (And of course, ensuring that no Welsh are employed at our castles and other monuments.)
Far easier to do this with a Welsh name and the pretence that Cadw is an agency of a ‘Welsh’ Government.
PRINCE OF WALES BRIDGE
Yes, I know, this was announced by Alun Cairns, Conservative Secretary of State for Wales, but Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones was involved from very early on, and to a considerable degree Jones’s approval was used to justify the whole thing. A kind of joint enterprise, sharing the blame.
Had the naming been imposed directly from London there would have been far more opposition, maybe even from within the Labour Party. Devolution served to confuse what was a clear, colonialist imposition.
This was another clear, colonialist imposition. But because the ‘Welsh’ Government, and Natural Resources Wales were so co-operative, and so devious about their involvement, it served to confuse the picture. It left those objecting uncertain who to blame.
Which, again, could not have happened without the ‘shield’ of devolution.
The ‘M4 improvements’ is a long-running saga.
‘Business’ believes that the M4 must be upgraded to do away with bottlenecks and speed up travel between England and Cardiff. Most politicians seem to agree.
Late in 2013 the UK/English government gave the ‘Welsh’ government power to borrow up to £1bn to spend on the M4. On Monday we learnt from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there was now an extra £300m available, but only if it is spent on the M4.
Huffing and puffing, millionaire socialist contender for the purely figurehead positions of leader of the English Labour Party in Wales and First Minister, Mark Drakefraud, insisted it was up to AMs how the money was spent.
Small but perfectly formed SoS Alun Cairns retorted by saying that the ‘Welsh’ Government had asked for the money specifically for the M4. ‘Liar’ liar, pants on fire!’ shouted Drakefraud, at which point the exchange got too highbrow for this simple old Swansea Jack.
The bottom line is that improving the M4 will help England far more than Wales because improving communications to peripheral regions invariably works against those peripheral regions. It means what makes them attractive can be reached easier and what makes such regions valuable can shipped out faster.
If the M4 ‘improvements’ go ahead jobs will be lost because it will be easier to serve ‘South Wales’ from depots and offices in England, but Wales’s cheaper homes will be brought within reach of more English commuters to Bristol and the Thames Valley.
What the A55 has done for the north on a bigger scale.
How much easier it is to perpetrate this con with the help of a ‘Welsh’ Government that can’t see beyond Cardiff – and then get the silly buggers to put the whole country in debt to pay for it! Self-financing colonialism.
Just imagine no devolution, and the UK government saying it wanted to upgrade the M4 but that Welsh local authorities were going to pay for it.
UPDATE: On the very day this post appeared this letter was published in the Western Mail. I have no idea who David Gwyn Watts of Milford Haven is, but he’s right. (Though I think the Letters Editor went a bit overboard with ‘doom’.)
As you’ve read above, Welsh farmers will be forced from their land in a policy worthy of comparison with Clearances or ethnic cleansing. The orders come from London. Civil servants answering to London will implement the strategy in Wales. And Welsh politicians will pretend it’s their policy out of a combination of vanity, congenital deviousness, and contempt for those who’ll suffer.
If a government minister had stood up in the House of Commons and said, ‘Her Majesty’s Government plans to clear Welsh farmers from their ancestral land and replace them with English environmentalists, ‘re-wilders’ and the like’, there would have been uproar in Wales. There would have been demonstrations, riots even.
But no, get some stupid woman in Cardiff to pretend it’s a decision of her ‘government’ and it confuses the natives. Use devolution as a ‘screen’ and as with the Flint Ring, and The PoW Bridge, and the toxic mud, and the M4 money, and a host of other damaging schemes, we won’t know who’s really to blame, and who we should be attacking.
This confusion can only arise because of devolution. And because of the way London uses devolution, and because of the way our politicians allow devolution to be used. Strip away devolution and we’ll see colonialism for what it really is.
Forget the comforting bollocks about devolution being a ‘badge of nationhood’. Welsh nationhood is being destroyed behind the façade of devolution. Devolution is a Trojan horse.
I predict with certainty that if there is another Tryweryn or another Investiture, it will be presented as a decision of our wonderful ‘Welsh’ Government, and because of that, it will be accepted by more Welsh people than if it had come in the form of a diktat from London.
If we had a vote to abolish the Assembly, I would vote to abolish. And I wouldn’t need to think twice about it.
On September 22 Anne Greagsby appeared before a Plaid Cymru disciplinary panel charged with transphobia and abusive language against certain ‘trans’ people. The accusations were made by various Plaid members and officials including Mari Arthur, Mabli Jones and Emyr Gruffydd.
Mabli Jones had until quite recently worked for or with Stonewall.
The decision was handed down three days later. Anne Greagsby has now been ‘excluded’ from Plaid Cymru for twelve months. The panel consisted of Gwerfyl Jones (chair), Siân Thomas (Carmarthen), Alun Cox (Rhondda).
I can’t say I know Anne Greagsby, I’ve met her just once, in a Bala cafe after the 2015 Tryweryn commemoration. She seemed a sensible woman with her heart, and head, in the right place. And she was in good company, which I’m old-fashioned enough to believe is a useful indicator of a person’s character.
We follow each other on social media and that’s about the extent of any connection or relationship between me and Anne Greagsby.
I would have liked to have provided a link to a news report of the panel’s decision, but I could find none. Type ‘Anne Greagsby’ into the BBC website and the most recent mention is from October 2008. There is nothing whatsoever on the ITV website. Using Google I did find a pressreader reference to the case in the Western Mail, but when I clicked on it I was greeted with a 404 message – the story was unavailable. Fortunately I scanned the story that appeared in the Mule and you can read it here.
Other than that, all I can offer is this from Mumsnet, written after the decision but apparently ignorant of the outcome. The only coverage I can find of the panel’s decision comes from the Penarth Daily News. And then there’s this letter from today’s Western Mail.
“At this point Cadno would like to introduce you to Martyn Shrewsbury. A former leader of the Green Party in Wales, a convicted fraudster, Jungian psychotherapist, and enthusiastic user of fake media accounts, and publisher of a fascinating blog called ‘All too human‘.
Martyn Shrewsbury claims on his website for his psychotherapy business ‘He is laid back, relaxed and non-judgemental. Nothing shocks him and he is able to work with people from all backgrounds and identities’.
To which Cadno can say, readers, have a gander at his blog and judge for yourself. To Cadno it appears to be the random and occasionally nonsensical ramblings of someone deep into the port after midnight and who has so many chips on their shoulders that they most probably have shares in Albert Bartlett’s Rooster Potatoes.
Martyn Shrewsbury is a member of Momentum and a member of the Labour Party.
He backs Leanne Wood.
There’s your problem right there. Labour and Green activist backs leader of a party he opposes and which he opposes whether or not Ms Wood is the leader.
Mr Shrewsbury is an archetypal Leanne Wood booster. People who don’t and won’t vote Plaid support Leanne Wood to be the leader of a party whose membership, policies, and history they hold in contempt.
If you were as cracked a conspiracy theorist as Martyn Shrewsbury appears – and it seems he has been chatting with other cracked conspiracy theorists in Carmarthenshire – you might even wonder whether his support for Leanne Wood was some sort of black propaganda of the sort used by the SOE in the Second World War: a pretence at supporting Ms Wood in order to repel possible real voters for her.
With friends like these, readers, Leanne Wood does not lack for enemies.”
The reason I’ve quoted ‘Cadno’ is because Martyn Shrewsbury has attacked Anne Greagsby many times. He also attacks me regularly on his blog. He supported Leanne Wood and others you are about to meet, people in unofficial cross-party campaigns on niche issues that badly damaged Plaid Cymru, and contributed to Leanne Woods’ humiliation in last week’s leadership election.
For we are entering the bizarre world of genitocentric politics and Scrabble dream answer acronyms, where you become transphobic for refusing to accept that ‘Felicity’, that big bearded bloke in a frock, scratching his balls, is a woman.
In some ways, I suppose, the persecution of Anne Greagsby may be viewed as the final writhings of the niche and nasty politics introduced into Plaid Cymru by Leanne Wood, which in turn attracted the unbalanced and the obsessive to the point where this vociferous, bullying element was able to dominate a party to which it has little or no commitment.
For the truth was exposed last Friday morning. The heavy defeat suffered by Leanne Wood was also a rejection of the intolerance goose-stepping behind the ‘progressive’ banner. And the defeat would have been even heavier were it not for those who have left the party or been expelled since Leanne Wood and her acolytes took hold.
Adam Price is gay, and that’s not an issue for anyone except a diminishing minority of right wing bigots and religious fanatics. So can Plaid Cymru members and supporters hope that Adam Price will reclaim Plaid Cymru for Wales, and focus on those issues that matter to most people?
Well, maybe, maybe not.
Take this article from the Plaid Cymru website, headed, ‘”Wales can not be free until our LGBT citizens are free’ says Adam Price.” I accept that Adam Price probably didn’t write the headline, so let’s read the article in order to learn what he did say.
What we find is, “There has been a significant rise in transphobia and smear campaigns directed towards the trans community in the media. Trans women in Wales in particular face significant challenges including increased vulnerability to hate crime, violence and abuse.”
I suppose it all hinges on what Adam Price means by “trans women”. If he means men who have undergone the surgery to physically resemble women then I’m sure most people would agree that these should not be anyone’s targets. But if he’s referring to people like ‘Felicity’, so-called ‘chicks with dicks’, then he can expect opposition.
Because I agree with Anne Greagsby that a man in possession of male genitalia cannot ever, and must never, be regarded as a woman except in the most superficial way.
But Adam Price also talked of ‘freedom’, that most emotive of words. At a rally protesting against some obscure piece of local government legislation he said, “I do not believe that Wales can ever truly be free until our LGBT citizens are also free.”
The only way I can interpret that is that Adam Price believes the LGBT citizens of Wales or the UK are unfree. Are there gay people in prison simply for being gay? Are there discriminatory laws against gay people on the statute book?
Freedom is a very big word, and to misuse it in such a context is disgraceful. For it trivialises and debases genuine oppression and lack of freedom.
If Adam Price meant to say, ‘We haven’t yet got everything we want’, then he should have said that, but this is not an issue about freedom, or the lack of it. And it has no impact whatsoever on whether or not Wales becomes independent.
In the same speech Adam Price also said,“I am proud of Plaid Cymru’s record in championing LGBT rights and will continue to represent the LGBT community in Wales and campaign for education and tolerance. Mine and Plaid Cymru’s vision is of a Wales free from homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”
‘Transphobia’ of course is what Anne Greagsby was accused of. So does Plaid Cymru’s new leader support the extremists who have persecuted Anne Greagsby and so many others?
Over the years I’ve commented on the connections between Plaid Cymru and the English Labour Party in Wales. These linkages go beyond activists in two socialist parties moaning about the Tories, they extend into the social and other spheres.
The Deryn connection would be one example, in which a lobbying group containing former activists of both Labour and Plaid Cymru seem to enjoy better access to certain AMs than any of those these tribunes are supposed to represent.
It was Deryn that persuaded Plaid Cymru to take the self-damaging step of expelling Neil McEvoy AM. One day – if Labour suffers a fit of openness – we might know how deeply involved Deryn was with the sacking (and subsequent suicide) of Labour minister Carl Sargeant.
These connections made it almost inevitable that the vilification of Anne Greagsby would extend beyond Plaid Cymru. One Labourite who got involved with what was clearly an internal Plaid Cymru disciplinary procedure was Lu Thomas who tweets as @lu_luthomas.
Like most zealots Lu Thomas paints the blackest possible picture of those who oppose her. Writing on the Pride Cymru website Lu Thomas has this to say:
“They believe that providing gender neutral toilets or allowing our trans kids to use the facilities that reflect their true selves will mean that our girls are going to be the victims of sexual assaults.
They believe that trans people are perverts, mentally unstable sexual predators that are only transitioning to attack women in women-only spaces.
They do not accept that trans women are women. They wish to exclude. To ridicule, to diminish and to deny trans people’s rights to exist.”
“They!” “They!!” “They!!!”
And note the build-up to the climactic suggestion of what I can only assume to be extermination, maybe gas chambers! How OTT can one go?
I don’t know Lu Thomas, I don’t even know whether Lu Thomas is a man or a woman, and I don’t care. But what I might care about if I was a member of Plaid Cymru is how Labour Party supporters and officials are able to exert influence in Plaid Cymru through niche politics and other openings.
Linkages that only work one way. I say that because you can be sure as hell that the obsessives don’t exert the same influence within the Labour Party. Nor have they diverted the Labour Party from its core policies and its raison d’être to anything like the same degree.
The test for Adam Price now is how he deals with the genitocentric fanatics and the hard left that kept Leanne Wood in power. If these continue to wield influence within the party, then Adam Price will have failed those who voted for him, and for a return to nationalist rather than niche politics.
♦ end ♦
P.S. Soon after I put out this post someone linked me with this WalesOnline report mentioning Lu Thomas. She and her wife Charlie, plus their twins, live in a nice family home worth over half a million quid, yet somehow they manage to rent it out on AirBnB for £500 a night.
Where do they live when they rent it out? Never mind, Lu is described as a “public policy consultant”; in other words, someone minting it from exploiting their political connections. The parasite class of Cardiff Bay.
Makes you wonder, don’t it. Even with all their Labour and third sector connections these two can’t keep a little company afloat, yet they expect us to believe that their party can run our country.
But don’t you worry, because just like the businessmen they revile, closing down one company offers the opportunity to start up another with a very similar name, Cognition Associates Ltd. The website is under construction and they haven’t yet got around to registering with Companies House.
UPDATE 05.03.2019: The Cognition associates Ltd website is still under construction, and still unknown to Companies House. I hope it was nothing I said!
I remember, back in the 1960s, when I was a wild young thing, visiting Owain Williams (of Tryweryn fame) on his farm, Gwynus, and then heading down for a drink at the local hostelry, the Plas Pistyll Hotel. I remember it well because ‘G–‘ and I picked up a couple of girls from Birmingham and took them up the mountain to enjoy the view. (Who says we don’t welcome tourists?)
Ah! happy days.
The old pile, with its uninterrupted views of the sea, fell on hard times and was eventually abandoned to the elements. But even if it was no longer viable as a hotel, the location alone dictated that somebody would some day come along with a plan for the site.
And so it was. . . .
THE PLANNING APPLICATIONS
Let me start by explaining that I have drawn together all the planning references I can find relating to both Plas Pistyll and neighbouring Pistyll farm and caravan site, I’ve done this because as early as 2008 they had become one and the same project.
Here’s the link to the pdf version. Click on the planning reference number in the left-hand column to be taken to the Gwynedd planning site.
Below you’ll see a montage created for Natural Retreats by the Ark Company Landscape Architects of Middlesex, and although things have moved on the image gives the layout of the site.
The obvious place to start is with the three earliest applications, which tell us that both the farm and the Plas are owned by Sustainable Leisure, a company I couldn’t find on the Companies House website.
Even so, I know that the properties were owned by a Bill Gleave of Greater Manchester. I know because by August 2009 he had hit the rocks owing local businesses money. You’ll note that in the Daily Post report I’ve just linked to the Pistyll site is called ‘Nature’s Point’ (A name I’m sure I recall from the Mabinogion.)
This catastrophe was confirmed when the Bolton News reported that Gleave company BGH had gone tits up, with Sustainable Leisure following.
It all went quiet for almost three years until, in August 2011, there was an application from new player Natural Retreats to demolish Plas Pistyll and replace it with 20 self-catering holiday units. These to be complemented with “16 self catering holiday units in lieu of the existing static caravan site” at the farm.
To begin with, I had the same problem with Natural Retreats as I had with Sustainable Leisure – I couldn’t find it on the Companies House website. But I found a Natural Retreats website and eventually unearthed Natural Retreats UK Ltd, which changed its name to The UK Great Travel Company Ltd on 25 October 2017.
Permission was given in August 2012 to demolish Plas Pistyll with the condition that the same individual or family could not live in the new holiday units for more than three months in a year. Natural Retreats appealed against this decision and the appeal was allowed permitting unrestricted holiday use for the whole site.
I understand that the last time the planning committee met was to discuss C11/0661/43/LL, thereafter everything was delegated to planning officers. Some very important decisions were made that many feel should have been referred back to the committee, not least the decision to allow unrestricted holiday use.
Having got the big prize Natural Retreats – usually operating now as Natural Land & Sea – chipped away over the next few years at more of the planning conditions imposed by Gwynedd’s planning committee, to the point where few remained.
For Gwynedd’s planning department seemed to bend over backwards to oblige: “. . . deletion of Conditions 8, 9, 10 (Code for Sustainable Homes) . . . vary the materials proposed for the external wall of the units on the farm site . . . Discharge conditions 20 (slate), 22 (stone) and 24 (external finishes) . . . Discharge condition 2 (agree stone) on planning permission . . . “
Instead of stone and slate cottages in keeping with vernacular styles (including Pistyll farm), using local materials and labour, what are being thrown up now on the Plas Pistyll site are prefabricated units brought in from God knows where – Estonia being one suggestion – with no local benefits whatsoever.
And again, predictably, searching the Companies House website turned up nothing for Natural Land & Sea. Either there is no such company, or it’s registered outside the UK, or it’s the trading name of another entity (in which case we should know the name of that entity). But Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners don’t seem to know or care who they’re dealing with.
It should be standard practice for any elected or public body dealing with a commercial entity to insist on that entity identifying itself with a Companies House, Charity Commission, FSA, etc number or some other form of identification, or else explain why it cannot meet this requirement.
Relevant digression: I’ve been helping a neighbour who’s lived in the village all his life renew his blue parking badge, but he still had to provide his birth certificate and other proof of identity. If he’d rocked up claiming to represent Intergalactic Con Men Inc, and wanting to build 5,000 holiday apartments in tower blocks around Llyn Tegid I suppose Cyngor Gwynedd would have rolled out the red carpet, like they’ve done for Paul Williams, Natural Retreats, and God knows how many others.
I’ve told you that Natural Retreats UK Ltd renamed itself The UK Great Travel Company Ltd on 25 October 2017. On that very same day a company was born named NRML Technology Ltd. The sole director was soon joined by another gentleman from Bobby Lee’s home state of Virginia and in June the company name was changed to Natural Retreats UK Ltd.
Why would Natural Retreats UK Ltd be resurrected under American ownership? We shall consider this in just a minute.
Before that, let’s take a closer look at who’s behind this disaster at Pistyll, on the very site where a young Jac downed pints and chatted up young ladies. (Though I use the most generous application of that epithet.) As we’ve seen, there can easily be confusion about the name of the company involved. Hardly surprising when you read on.
There may be other companies for all I know but the people involved with almost all of those I’ve listed are: Matt Spence, Anthony Wild and Ewan Kearney.
The founder and driving force is Matt Spence, who was born on a Yorkshire sheep farm where – he tells us – it was a struggle to survive, so he and his brothers looked for alternative ways to make money. Spence hit on the idea of high quality accommodation in national parks and other areas of great natural beauty.
A noble ambition that he’s partly met in finding the right locations. But in reality Spence’s business is raising money in the form of investments – the minimum seems to have been £50,000 to join NR Investors LP (check out the document for 16.01.2008) – and whether all the money raised goes on lodges and chalets is a moot point, for he and his associates have their fingers in so many pies.
But whatever the company or partnership the bottom line remains making as much money as possible. And this often seems to mean cutting corners, for I’ve heard from a number of quarters that the ‘Natural’ empire is not always a good neighbour, or employer. Here are reports from the Cairngorms, and Yorkshire.
There are even suggestions that the empire may not be in the best of financial health. But with so many interlinked commercial and financial entities constantly changing addresses and names it’s not easy for anyone to keep track.
I earlier alluded to an intervention from the Commonwealth of Virginia, so maybe it’s time to expand on what I’m sure you found to be a tantalising reference.
Spence is something of an evangelist and so we should not be surprised to learn that he spread the ‘Natural’ gospel to the USA, where they have a hell of a lot more open spaces than us. This bore fruit in Natural Retreats USA. And yet . . .
Those who have raised Natural Retreats UK Ltd from the dead appear to have no connection with Natural Retreats USA. And yet, under its original name of NRML Technology Ltd the company was formed by a Christopher Holden who gave his correspondence address as, ‘Natural Retreats, 675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, 22911’.
Holden works with venture capitalists and investors, Court Square Ventures of Charlottesville, which has no obvious connection with Natural Retreats USA, it’s certainly not listed among CSV’s clients. He was later joined as a director by Douglas Burns. On the CSV website Holden is described as a ‘General Partner’, whereas Burns is ‘Principal & CFO’.
Unless they plucked the Natural Retreats UK Ltd name out of thin air, and found Manchester by sticking a pin in a map, there has to be a connection between Court Square Ventures and Matt Spence and his associates.
But it still doesn’t make sense.
Because if we read the CSV website, and the biographies of the partners, then we see that their backgrounds are in media, technology, communications and the like – not a sasquatch-terrorised log cabin to be seen!
And yet, Court Square Ventures is an investment company, so it’s reasonable to suggest that the boys from Charlottesville come bearing greenbacks, which inclines me towards three options:
They have come to get a slice of the action, at Pistyll and elsewhere, perhaps by investing in one or more of Spence’s many financial vehicles.
They have come to help Spence out of a financial hole.
They have come to take over.
And if you think about, it could be a bit of all three; or maybe options 1 and 2 culminating in option 3.
In the hope of clarifying the situation I e-mailed Natural Retreats USA on Friday with, “There are companies of the same name operating in the UK, in Wales, Scotland and England. I see that Christopher Holden is a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd. What exactly is the connection or relationship between the US and UK companies?”
The reply said, “Thank you for your inquiry into Natural Retreats. I would be happy to offer some more information as to how the different companies are related. You may also view our website for further clarification: https://www.naturalretreats.com/about
Natural Retreats was originally founded in the UK by Matthew Spence, and started with a few luxury lodges in the Yorkshire Dales. Over time, Natural Retreats grew to include destinations in the Eastern and Western United States as well. At this time, the US and UK now operate separately; they only share the name of Natural Retreats. The US main office is located in Charlottesville, VA and the Western Support Office is located in Park City, UT.
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you, again, for your inquiry; we hope you will stay with us at one of our luxury retreats in the near future!”
To which I responded with, “I am grateful for your speedy response. As I mentioned in my original query, I was a little confused seeing Christopher Holden of Charlottesville, Virginia listed as a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd (Co No 11031026). A company formed in October 2017. This would appear to be a UK presence for the US operation, or is there some other interpretation?”
At this point the line went dead!
So we are no nearer to knowing why venture capitalists from Virginia with no obvious expertise in tourism have set up in Manchester using a company name previously used by those building at Plas Pistyll. But it’s surely no coincidence that Rural Retreats USA’s eastern office is in Charlottesville. Which throws up other questions.
I’ll ask again, does Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners really know who they’re dealing with? Not just because of the find-me-if-you-can company names but also because Spence specialises in getting others to invest in his plans, and even though I’m sure he scrupulously screens each and every investor, the fact remains that the money to develop Plas Pistyll could be coming from anywhere.
Court Square Ventures is another company that invests money for third parties.
The properties at Pistyll are now being advertised on Rightmove and other sites. So let’s consider what we’re dealing with, and its implications.
For a start, I note that these properties are being sold leasehold. Yet England’s management team down in Cardiff docks – those clowns that hope to be mistaken for a ‘Welsh Government’ – has turned against leasehold, except, apparently, when it’s used by RSLs or, more secretively, by unregistered private subsidiaries of publicly-funded RSLs. And of course by the likes of the ‘Natural’ empire.
Then again, just imagine Matt Spence and his gang turning up and saying, ‘Oi, Taff, we want to build a new holiday village overlooking the sea. We ain’t gonna use local materials, suppliers or labour. Then we are gonna give it some idiotic English name and there’s fuck all you can do about it’.
There would have been an outcry, even Plaid Cymru might have been roused to mumble something.
But that is exactly what has been achieved incrementally!
This development at Pistyll is only a few miles from Plas Glynllifon where dwells our old friend Paul Williams of Weep for Wales fame. Yet Plas Pistyll and Plas Glynllifon represent for the ‘Welsh’ Government ‘high end’ tourism, which must be unquestioningly encouraged.
For it is all set out in TAN 13: Tourism (1997) . . . which observant readers will have noted was two years before the Assembly first sat. That’s really thinking ahead!
Yet from what I can see, ‘high end’ tourism only attracts the smarter shysters and the outright crooks. Though if we are to attract high end tourism then what is being done to phase out the barrel-scraping tourism represented by mile after mile of ugly coastal caravan parks that can only deter the high rollers?
Because we are expected to believe that in a tiny country like Wales we can have all kinds of tourism and unlimited numbers of tourists without causing catastrophic cultural and environmental damage.
This is because it’s what England wants, due to the fact that a) money spent in Wales will make its way back to England, and b) tourism and the population influx it encourages makes Wales less of a ‘worry’.
As for the aforementioned clowns down Geiger Bay, well they’ll always do what London tells them, and some of them are even stupid enough to believe that a healthy economy can be based on tourism. Not forgetting that many in the Labour Party would be happy to see the death of Welsh identity.
I have written about housing associations dozens of times. One of the many things that intrigued me was their legal status – were they public bodies or private companies? For on the one hand they enjoyed the benefit of public funding (and lots of it), yet were exempt from public scrutiny and Freedom of Information legislation, just like private companies.
From my inquiries into housing associations I concluded that they enjoyed the best of both worlds.
This certainly surprised me, and the revelation that housing associations were regarded as private companies also surprised those who had innocently assumed that publicly-funded providers of social housing, owning for the most part stock they had inherited from local authorities, were already public bodies.
In addition to surprising some, the change also annoyed a number of people, not least the man in No 11 Downing Street, because it meant that £60bn of housing association debt would be added to the UK’s public indebtedness. Within the sector there were concerns that reclassification would mean, among other things, that housing associations would now be open to public scrutiny.
But if nothing else, this move by the ONS clarified the status of these mysterious bodies. They had been private, the ONS wanted to make them public, and now the race was on to find a way of reversing the ONS decision.
England led the way and in November 2017 the ONS announced that once the new measures had passed into law housing associations would be reclassified once again as private bodies. Wales followed suit in June this year with the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018. Despite the title, the purpose of this legislation is in fact to deregulate housing associations so that there is no possibility of them being considered public bodies.
Before delving into the Act, let me make a few things clear. It would be easy to think that if housing associations were private bodies that were briefly deemed to be public bodies by the ONS and are now reclassified as private, then surely we’re back where we started? Er, no . . . there have been many changes, significant and worrying changes.
These are encapsulated in ‘About the Bill’ in the ‘Overview’ introduction to the legislation, where it says:
It tells us clearly that to satisfy the Office for National Statistics “The purpose of the Bill is to amend or remove those powers which are deemed by the Office for National Statistics (“ONS”) to demonstrate central and local government control over Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).”
For those who find it difficult to wade through the full legislation (which I guess is some 99% of us) here’s a more manageable ‘Guide’ in which I’ve highlighted certain sections that I shall now focus on in order to discuss what I consider to be a very worrying direction of travel.
Let’s turn to the highlighted document.
Paragraphs 13, 15, 18 and 20 all list circumstances or situations in which housing associations no longer need the consent of ‘Welsh Ministers’. This is not a reference to a conclave of Nonconformist preachers but to the clowns down Cardiff docks who want us to think of them as the ‘Welsh Government’. (In reality they are just England’s management team in Wales.)
In practice, it means that a Registered Social Landlord in Wales is now free to make any change it likes to its rules, merge with another company, transfer its “engagements” (assets?) to another company, or go into liquidation, all without needing the approval of the ‘Welsh Ministers’.
Paragraphs 33 and 34 however gives the ‘Welsh Ministers’ power to both remove and appoint officers of RSLs, even if that housing association is a company. Which strikes me as a little odd, and would appear to contradict the expressed objective of removing the powers of local and central government.
As do paragraphs 40, 42 and 43 which also give or retain powers for the ‘Welsh Ministers’. These include the right to compel a RSL “to transfer management functions to a person specified by them (the ‘Welsh Ministers’)”. They can also appoint a manager and forcibly amalgamate RSLs.
Further paragraphs are in the same vein until we come to 61, which is worth thinking about, for it gives the ‘Welsh Ministers’ the power to show favouritism to certain housing associations at the expense of others.
Paragraph 63 suggests that housing associations are now free to hide “disposal proceeds” in the accounts, proceeds that will almost certainly have been paid for out of public funds. What’s more, ‘Welsh Ministers’ have no say in how the money – public money – is to be used.
Paragraphs 64, 71, 73 and 78 reiterate that local authorities – that is, the democratically elected bodies serving the areas in which housing associations operate – no longer have any influence in the running of RSLs.
WHAT WILL IT MEAN IN PRACTICE?
In a nutshell, Serendipity presented the ‘Welsh’ Government with an opportunity to extend its power in areas where the Labour Party is as popular as Boris Johnson at a Remoaner Wail-in and Carwyn and his gang grabbed the chance with both hands.
Or to look at it from another angle, an allegedly socialist political party has no qualms about privatising bodies holding and managing public assets.
Let’s deal with the power grab first. Despite being the party with the most MPs and AMs, and the party of power in Cardiff docks, Labour controls just twelve of Wales’ twenty-two local authorities. And none in the south west, the north west or the centre.
As I’ve explained on this blog a number of times, Labour overcomes its lack of representation – and consequently influence – through the power of patronage and funding. The third sector being a prime example, controlled via public funding dished out by the Labour management team in Cardiff docks the third sector is stuffed with Labour’s cronies and operates across the country. Whether it’s the Citizens Advice Bureau in Gwynedd or one of the countless ‘homelessness’ charities fighting over rough sleepers Labour uses the third sector to give it influence in areas where it has little electoral support.
The same can be said of housing associations. There are certain RSLs aligned with Labour and these are rewarded with extra funding and encouragement to take over housing associations that are not run by Labour Party supporters. One example I’ve dealt with a number of times was the takeover of Cantref, based in Castell Newydd Emlyn, by Wales and West Housing of Cardiff, run by the wife of a Cardiff Labour councillor. (A woman who insists on appearing in almost every photograph.)
One curb on the excesses of such Labour shenanigans was the involvement of local, non-Labour councillors, in the running of housing associations operating on their patch. But as we’ve seen, the new Act removes that involvement.
But the Act entrenches the power of the ‘Welsh’ Government to interfere of behalf of Labour-connected RSLs. For example, it’s no secret that Wales and West wants to take over Tai Ceredigion. The minister responsible could remove Tai Ceredigion’s CEO, replace him with a Labour stooge, who could then announce that the best option for Tai Ceredigion would be a merger with Wales and West Housing.
I’ve focused on Wales and West but I could have mentioned any number of other housing associations that are obviously Labour in their political orientation but tend to operate in one area, unlike Wales and West, which has a national reach, active in 15 of our 22 local authority areas.
GYPSY JAC GAZES INTO HIS CRYSTAL BALL
With housing associations deregulated, local authority influence removed, and the Labour Party able to control the whole shooting match, Wales could be facing a bleak future.
Let’s take Gwynedd, an area where Labour’s support is largely limited to academics and students around the alien university in Bangor. In the near future Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd (which inherited Gwynedd’s social housing stock) could be taken over by Labour Party appointees, who then sign contracts with English local authorities and RSLs to help them bring down their waiting lists for social housing. Something the new legislation allows RSLs to do.
So Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd goes on a building spree with borrowed money.
But it eventually becomes clear that Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd has bitten off more than it can chew and it goes into voluntary liquidation owing millions of pounds to lenders. So who is now responsible for that debt? Is it the ‘Welsh’ Government – in other words, you and me?
One of the objections to the reclassification as public bodies was that such a move would restrict housing associations’ ability to borrow money. Though Welsh RSLs have in the past borrowed very little from commercial lenders – that wasn’t repaid by the ‘Welsh’ Government – because they don’t need to. They have the guaranteed income from their housing stock, a stock that in most cases was paid for out of public funds, and as we know, this income is supplemented by handouts from the ‘Welsh’ Government.
So what becomes of these handouts now? Will deregulated private housing associations still receive public funding every year?
Another consideration might be that Welsh RSLs are also free to enter into agreements with those London boroughs currently engaged in social cleansing. Which could mean that a Welsh RSL in receipt of your money would be helping move people from London to Wales.
The new Act also allows RSLs to dispose of their ‘engagements’ and land assets. So what redress is there if, for example, Mid Wales Housing sells off land or property to RSLs based in the English West Midlands and these bodies then move many of their less ‘sociable’ tenants into places like Meifod and Llanwrtyd?
Clearly, the temptation is now there for Welsh RSLs to borrow unwisely and to over-extend themselves, which may well serve a certain agenda.
I say that because most people agree that we have too many housing associations. There are ten operating in Neath Port Talbot, six in Conwy, and no less than fifteen in Cardiff.
Obviously, the total number must be reduced, and the new Act makes it easier to undermine RSLs not favoured by Labour – as was done with Cantref – and to force through mergers. Which is what I predict will happen in the coming years, and it will be justified in the name of ‘rationalisation’.
What will be glossed over is the fact that the only housing associations left standing at the end of this process will be those run by Labour Party members and supporters. For make no mistake, the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018 gives the Labour Party more opportunities to extend its malign influence through giving its hangers-on preferential treatment.
But this is how a one-party state operates – supporters are rewarded and non-supporters compromised or intimidated.
LABOUR’S NUCLEAR OPTION
But the starkest and most dangerous reminder of the one-party state could, paradoxically, come when most people think the power of the Labour Party in Wales has finally been broken. A case of the cornered beast.
I can see a situation, maybe as early as the Assembly elections of 2021, that sees Labour without a majority and unable to cobble together a coalition. The ‘Welsh’ Labour Party will then be in opposition down Cardiff docks.
It is at this point that all the scheming and placements, all the bribes and sinecures, bear fruit, and all the favours will be called in. For it will be when Labour is in opposition that we see the benefit of having a bloated third sector, of filling housing associations with its people, of generally building up a network of supporters and funding recipients, everyone from Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s Hedgehog Rescue Service to Côr Meibion Cwmscwt.
For I predict with absolute certainty that when Labour loses control of the Assembly it will not accept defeat gracefully. The party will begin a campaign of guerilla warfare to undermine the new administration. Wrecking Wales will be acceptable collateral damage, because the party comes first.
Labour’s foot-soldiers in this dirty war will be its supporters in the sectors and networks the party has carefully built up over the past twenty years, including the deregulated RSLs, and these will be backed by a media that is either Labour-leaning or else a BritNat propaganda outlet for which Labour – as a Unionist party – is far more acceptable than what may have replaced Labour.
Making it easier for Wales to be made ungovernable through vindictive factionalism could be an important consequence of the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018.
In what I assume was an attempt at ‘balance’ the Mid Wales Journal followed up its report of 6 July on hotels being abandoned by Paul and Rowena Williams and/or Keith Partridge with the report below a week later.
In this we read Keith Partridge blame the neglect of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel on “foul and abusive notices” being found around these properties. He was also outraged by social media posts and web sites. (Some people, eh!)
These assaults on Partridge’s honesty, and his motives, have caused him and his cohorts, to “rethink our strategy”, with the outcome of the rethink to be given by the end of August.
What a load of bollocks! He shut the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel telling staff these hotels would be closed for a few months for refurbishment and re-branding. When it was seen that nothing was being done people started asking questions about Partridge, and a can of worms was opened.
My gut feeling is that it was never in the plan to re-open these hotels. But with so much evidence about the gang now in the public domain, and with politicians, media and many others asking questions, their plan has been rumbled, and they’re not sure which way to jump.
THE MAN HIMSELF
Companies House tells us that Paul Steven Williams was born 23.02.1969.
His Linkedin profile tells us that before becoming a hotelier and property tycoon he worked for Royal Mail for eleven years as ‘National Facilities Manager’. We are told that his, ” . . . responsibility covered the management, acquisition and refurbishment of the Royal Mails (sic) £5 billion portfolio of UK properties”.
The manner in which the job is described suggests that this is where he learnt about property, how to acquire, exploit and dispose of property, plus all manner of short-cuts and dodges. Doing this job he must have made many useful contacts in the property world.
If you go up towards the top of the Linkedin page you’ll see ‘Paul Williams’ Posts’, ten in all. I was particularly taken by one dated October 2, 2015 and introduced as “Our Next Hotel Project …………..is….” and it turns out to be the Fronoleu Country Hotel near Dolgellau. In case it disappears from the internet, you can read it here.
Upon reading that I thought to myself,‘Well, if this project was already under way in early October 2015 then it must surely be finished by now. So I shall hire me a charabanc and take a party of merry-makers up there!’
But alas, when we got there, this is what we found! It was terrible! The shrieks of the women, the crying of the children, the men cursing – ‘There was football on the telly, you bastard!’
What went wrong? We were told this project was under way in 2015, Paul Williams even showed us the plans on his Linkedin post. Surely he wasn’t lying?
And yet, I can’t find any record of a planning application ever being submitted for this property, and I searched both the Gwynedd council and the National Park websites. To judge by what I saw when I visited, the place was cleaned out some time ago, and that’s all that’s been done. It was bought, gutted, and left to rot.
The only sign of recent human intervention was the cut grass to the left of the hotel, probably cut by whoever lives in the house just out of picture in the same direction. Particularly poignant, I thought, was the state of the three flags, resembling standards on some long forgotten field of combat.
But how did Paul and Rowena Williams come into possession of Fronoleu?
Given the dates we already have in 2015 I suspect it was bought at this auction. The information given is interesting, and amusing. It tells potential buyers, “The more extensive amenities of Caernarfon and Bangor are accessible to the north respectively“ without saying that Caernarfon is over 40 miles away, Bangor further, and that Aberystwyth and Newtown are both nearer.
Obviously penned by someone who knows sod all about the area. Another give-away was calling Tabor a village, which is like describing Dolgellau as a metropolis. And while the former county town of Merioneth is indeed 1½ miles away – if you’ve got black, shiny feathers – it can only be reached from Fronoleu by risking the single-track unlisted road that runs to and from this isolated property.
(Our charabanc scared the shit out of a cyclist who reacted in the manner I suspect greets alien landings. I hope he wasn’t injured diving through that hedge.)
I’m sure Fronoleu serves some purpose lying empty and losing money but don’t be surprised if it catches afire or goes to auction again soon.
UPDATE: I hear from a council source that towards the end of last year council tax debts on Fronoleu had reached such a level that Cyngor Gwynedd threatened to go into Seiont Manor and seize ‘goods to the value’. This was averted only when £10,000 was paid over the phone by card.
GOOD WITH FIGURES
I’ve just mentioned John Duggan, who serves as the gang’s accountant, and works out of a shed in the village of Leintwardine in north Herefordshire.
Leisure and Development Ltd, the company we are asked to believe was sold for £10m to another crook, Keith Partridge, in February, was using Duggan’s shed as the company’s registered office address, but earlier this month the address was changed to the Knighton Hotel.
Can’t you just imagine Keith Partridge sitting down one morning to his kedgeree, switching on his tablet to read Jac o’ the North and exclaiming in a voice resonant of both shock and horror – ‘Well, bless my soul, John Duggan is a crook! Who’d have thought it . . . lovely man . . . such impressive offices at Unit 3 . . . We’ll have to take our business elsewhere . . . ‘
How they’ve been allowed to get away with it I do not know. Let’s stick with Leisure & Development Ltd for a minute. This company was formed 19 January 2015; then, in July 2015, no less than 7 charges were registered, these being loans from the National Westminster Bank. Yet the accounts submitted for that period, up to 31 January 2016 – by Debra Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister – are for a dormant company!
Clearly Leisure & Development Ltd was not a dormant company. And I guarantee that no responsible accountant or lawyer would have signed off that statement, so Paul Williams’ sister had to do it.
Though in fairness, the accounts for 31 January 2017 (or the ‘Unaudited Financial Statement’) were produced by an accountant – John Duggan, of J D Accountancy, Leintwardine.
An unlikely locale in which to find Paul and Rowena Williams, who specialise in country hotels, which then makes the former Badminton Club an even more unlikely purchase. But buy it they did and may have renamed it the Beaufort Sports and Social Club.
I’m not sure when they bought it, or whether it was through an auction – maybe someone in the area can help?
Did Paul and Rowena Williams initially buy the Badminton Club in their own name(s)?
If not, when and from whom did Rural Retreats & Leisure acquire the property?
Did Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd pay a strangely high price for the property?
Was the property then sold at a loss?
Now we turn to the jewel in the crown, the reason given for allegedly selling the other properties to Keith Partridge.
The latest figure given for the Glynllifon project is £20m. Even if we accept that Paul and Rowena Williams received £10m for their other properties from Partridge (which raises the question of where he got the money), that still leaves a shortfall of £10m.
Fortunately, this money-pit is, according to The Caterer, being funded by the other Gwynedd properties.
We’ve already seen that Fronoleu isn’t making any contribution, and the only establishment that is open for business is the Seiont Manor Hotel. Run by Rikki Reynolds who, from the information I’ve received, seems either disinterested or out of his depth.
The figures don’t add up because Plas Glynllifon was taken on in order to raise more money. When everything eventually goes mammaries heavenwards the gang will drive off in brand-new Range Rovers, every glove compartment and other storage area stuffed with readies.
In the meantime, in the hope of persuading people that renovation is under way, Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor serve as repositories for fixtures and fittings looted from elsewhere.
And who’s to say the partnership will even hold? Because I hear of rows between Paul and Rowena Williams, with her often sleeping on an inflatable bed.
Face it, these people are crooks. Before long, as the NatWest Bank, HMRC and the police close in Gwynedd will be back to square one with a massive derelict mansion and a few smaller properties for which no uses can be found and no honest buyers.
UPDATE: Crooks they may be, but I’m sure they don’t have people whacked, which is a possibility that went through my mind when I was told about a ‘director’ who was there at Seiont Manor one day and was gone the next, never to be seen again.
The man I’m talking about is Mark McNicol, who describes himself on his Linkedin profile as ‘Operations Director – Rural Retreats & Leisure’, a job he’s held since April 2016. Which is a bit confusing, for Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd changed its name to Polvellan Manor Ltd in March 2015. (Surely they’d have told him?)
Having mentioned HMRC I suppose I’d better explain why. It’s because Team Williams has a long-standing policy of paying in cash. Staff are paid in cash, suppliers are paid in cash, just about any deal that can be done in cash will be done in cash.
Inevitably, this means imaginative accounting – which is where Duggan of Cell Block B comes in – but documents still need to be produced. As I mentioned in the previous post, staff at Seiont Manor are given pay slips saying one thing (with no deductions for PAYE or NI), while the correct amount is paid by cheque.
I have now been sent some documents by former employees. This first one shows no tax paid while working at Seiont Manor. This individual is now paying extra tax to make up for the non-payment that is the responsibility of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. (A company whose accounts are done by John Duggan.)
In another case, the salary was understated on the P60. In this example we are asked to believe that this person – earning £30,000 a year – was paid just £2,500 between November and April.
I have other documents all pointing in the same direction. Documents I will be happy to make available to HMRC. Those who’ve supplied me with the documents are ready to fully explain how this illegality is perpetrated. And I’m sure they have much more to tell.
This gang is always cutting corners, always lying, always cheating somebody. That’s because they are liars and crooks. There’s a story emerging of the deal Paul Williams struck with a certain drinks company. Of course he’s reneged on that deal, and the thug who runs the Waves Bar for him/Partridge in Cornwall has threatened a representative of the company with violence if he dares ask again for what’s owed.
For as we learnt in Weep for Wales 5, the Waves Bar in Seaton, Cornwall, is run by Stuart Paul Cooper, another crook done for fraud. But Cooper also has a taste for violence, and regularly threatens to burn down people’s homes – with them inside.
That’s three convicted fraudsters – that we know of – working for or with Paul and Rowena Williams: Keith Partridge, who’s supposed to have bought the properties outside Gwynedd, and has known Paul Williams for years. John Duggan, their accountant, who fleeced an old lady out of £700,000. And ‘Burn-’em-alive’ Cooper down in Cornwall.
We are judged by the company we keep, and when you keep company like that . . .
NATWEST AND TOGETHER
Finally, one thing that’s been puzzling me is why any bank or finance company would lend money to these crooks. I suppose the easy answer would be that they’ve got collateral in the form of hotels and the fixtures and fittings they contain. But what if the value of those hotels and other property is greatly inflated?
Seeing as NatWest stopped lending to the companies run by Paul and Rowena Williams early in 2016, I guess warning lights flashed and somebody said – ‘Enough!’. A theory strengthened by news that NatWest in February 2017 was trying to ‘restructure’ the loans. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
The document you’ve just read relates to Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. It’s dated 2 February 2017. On the Companies House website, a day later, the registered office address was changed from Unit 3 in Leintwardine (John Duggan) to Plas Glynllifon. Had NatWest rumbled John Duggan?
Whatever the answer – and as I just mentioned in relation to Mark McNicol – in May this year there was an attempt by the owners to strike off the company, and with it of course the debt to the National Westminster Bank. The procedure was halted by an objection from a public-spirited citizen.
All of which tells me that NatWest is innocent of any shenanigans. It is a victim in this affair. But what of Together Commercial Finance Ltd, the equivalent of a pay day loan company that replaced NatWest? The more I think about the relationship between the gang and Together Commercial Finance Ltd the more I see a partnership. If so, who’s taking the hit?
While you ponder this and more you might care to peruse a sheet I’ve put together that lists the dealings of the Williams-Partridge gang in a timeline determined by the dates of the many charges against their companies interspersed with noteworthy events.
Stay alert out there and don’t swap your cow for any magic beans. You listening!
I’m taking a wee break from the Williams-Partridge gang, but I shall return to them, you can count on it. Weep for Wales 6 is already forming itself in the old Jac noggin.
But as the Walrus said, The time has come to talk of many things . . . but we shall not stray far from my favoured themes of shysters and charlatans, colonialists and their facilitators.
THE GREEN, GREEN PARTY OF HOME (WHICH IS NOT WALES)
There is in Wales a political grouping calling itself the Wales Green Party. Over the years many people – myself included – have pointed out that despite the name it has no legal existence, being merely part of The Green Party (of England). Scotland has a separate party.
This question of whether there is or should be a separate Welsh party has bedevilled the Greens in Wales for some years and so it was recently decided to lance the boil by having a vote on whether to become wholly independent or remain part of the Green Party (of England).
This result does not surprise me. The Greens I’ve met in my area, and others I know of who’ve moved to rural parts of Wales, tend to offer a ‘We know best’ kind of ‘enlightened’ colonialism. No less offensive when delivered by some malodorous little twat with a 2:2 in mycology than when it’s barked by the District Officer wearing shorts with a razor-sharp crease.
What I’m saying is that, in Wales, most Greens are English arrivals (many of them just passing through). This explains why – unlike Scotland – we do not have a separate and native Green Party. This also explains the vote I’ve just reported.
Greens in Wales must now stop the pretence that there is a Wales Green Party. There is not. What we have in Wales is the regional branch of The Green Party of England. Calling it the Green Party of England and Wales is no improvement, especially when we remember the position in Scotland.
Those who want a Welsh Green Party, those who wish to prioritise the Welsh national interest, had better do some hard thinking. A new, genuinely Welsh Green party could resonate with Welsh voters far better than the Green Party of England has done hitherto.
It could hardly do any worse.
WHO WILL BUY MY LOVELY HOUSES? – THE ‘WELSH’ GOVERNMENT OF COURSE!
And so to Pembrokeshire, which attracts a disproportionate number of those malodorous little gits with a 2:2 in mycology. But on a higher plane, far removed from the darkness and the copious amounts of shit, we enter the realm of Sol Invictus.
And it’s there, basking in the wealth he bestows, that we find Dr Glen Peters. Formerly of bean-counters PwC but now ensconced at Rhos y Gilwen mansion near Cilgerran, where he brings culture to this benighted corner of Wales through Menter Rhosygilwen. You can even get married there.
But his real interest is making money through his company Western Solar Ltd. There is a solar farm on his land and when he’s not harvesting all that lovely sunshine on his estate he’s building houses . . . to harvest more life-giving sunshine. His footnote in history being assured with Pentre Solar, an ambitious scheme at Glanrhyd.
But ere it started, the ‘Welsh’ Government bunged Peters £141,000 for a factory in which to manufacture sections for the houses. Since then, the ‘Welsh’ Government has loaned the Ateb Group, formerly Pembrokeshire Housing, £900,000 to buy the six houses from Peters.
Yet according to this account in the Guardian, just four of the properties, ‘have “affordable” rents and are being offered to people on Pembrokeshire county council’s housing register who have lived in the area for five years’.
So how many of these houses are for social housing, six or four?
Either way, Glen Peters has made a tidy wodge from the ‘Welsh’ Government and a factory paid for out of public funds has been added to his property portfolio. Yet his Linkedin profile boasts that he has been “Eco Entrepreneur of the Year”.
An entrepreneur (for which there is no word in Welsh, incidentally) is someone who takes risks with his own money. How the hell can anyone be an entrepreneur when he’s feather-bedded by the public purse?
The Solar Village website makes a big thing of “employing locals”, yet closer inspection reveals that these people are ‘local’ only in the sense that they’ve moved to Wales. Just like so many other schemes in the Welsh countryside, especially where environmentalism is concerned, we see Welsh public money funding social engineering.
As for Glanrhyd, it’s a hamlet on a B road some five kilometres from Cardigan. I’m not sure how good the public transport links are, but even if they’re good Ateb might have had trouble finding tenants. Seeing as the houses are now occupied I’d like to know who lives in them, how many are social tenants, and how local those people are to the area.
Worth asking because the Ateb Group is a curious beast, a Community Benefit Society that includes Mill Bay Homes Ltd. I don’t understand how a private company can shelter under the umbrella of a Community Benefit Society; but then, all sorts of things are permitted, or overlooked, in the strange world of Welsh housing associations.
For example, Mill Bay Homes is no longer a Registered Social Landlord, which is hardly surprising seeing as it builds and sells property on the open market like Wimpey and Redrow; but it has over the years borrowed millions from its publicly-funded parent company Pembrokeshire Housing which now – re-branded Ateb – is buying properties from Mill Bay!
It’s all very complicated. Deliberately so.
Western Solar Power has plans for more villages. Another project lined up is for Coastal Housing in sun-blest Ammanford. Where no doubt the public purse will further enrich Glen Peters and Coastal Housing will have properties that attract positive publicity in obscure publications, but they’ll be expensive to build and might not serve the purpose used to justify the public funding – affordable homes for local people.
Glen Peters is obviously on a good thing. All he has to do is keep pressing the right buttons and the money pours into his bank account. But I can’t help thinking that social housing could be delivered a lot cheaper, in places locals want to live, which is why I’m sceptical of Pentre Solar and similar projects.
Bottom line is, it might be acceptable for Glen Peters to enrich himself playing the enlightened squire, and employing his cronies – but not with our money!
BERYL’S IN PERIL!
No doubt you’re all aware that there’s a by-election campaign under way in Cydweli’s Mynydd-y-Garreg ward. In fact, there are only two wards in Cydweli; Mynydd-y-Garreg and Castle, which might make life easy for some, but for your average punter, having eight or nine community councillors for his or her ward must cause confusion.
Standing for Labour in Mynydd-y-Garreg is Beryl-Ann Williams. I’m told her election literature is in English only, a great disappointment to see this on the home turf of the late Ray Gravell, where 62% of the working age population speaks Welsh . . . but only 21% of retired people. Now I wonder why that is?
Beryl-Ann works in the third sector as an ‘art psychotherapist’. (No, honestly, I did not just make that up.) This psychotherapisting may be done at the Kidwelly Community Hub, which seems to serve as a publicly-funded but unofficial Labour Party clubhouse.
This being the Llanelli constituency, where Plaid Cymru has self-destructed, and Tories have never been thick on the ground, her sole opponent is Independent Ronald Carl Peters-Bond, whose literature is bilingual and has a powerful message:
“Kidwelly Town Council’s focus has been on building a new office costing over £500,000, the overspend on which has now left it in serious financial difficulties. We need to stop the rot.” and “Currently over 80% of the tax you pay to Kidwelly Town Council goes on administration and keeping that shiny building.”
Can you believe that a Labour administration would waste money on such things? And overspend?
I look forward to hearing from distant Cydweli that Grav’s old stomping-ground has rejected a Labour/third sector blagger who seems to have no love for Wales and her heritage.
‘I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT IT . . . MUST BE SOMEBODY ELSE’S GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBLE’
Back in May I wrote about BikePark Wales, yet another example of Welsh assets being handed over to a bunch of strangers in order that they can enrich themselves. In this particular case it was Natural Resources Wales leasing a large area of forested land near Merthyr Tudful to a company with the absurd name of Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd operating as BikePark Wales.
Something that particularly worried me was the fact that this company felt it had the power to fine locals found on the land it was leasing, and that these fines could be collected on the spot by ‘marshalls’ (sic).
A regular reader of this blog tried to get a number of politicians interested in this surely unacceptable behaviour; Labour and Plaid Cymru couldn’t be bothered and the only politician who came through was Mostyn Neil Hamilton, the Ukip AM for the Mid and West Wales Region.
Last week, in Plenary at the Assembly, Hamilton raised the issue with first minister Carwyn Jones, who professed complete ignorance. (Available here at 22:05.) Now put aside any antipathy you may have towards Ukip, or Hamilton, and consider the issue on its merits. And think about Carwyn Jones’ response.
In that irritating I’m-a-tidy-bloke-but-cleverer-than-you manner Carwyn Jones tried to laugh it off and almost seemed to suggest that Hamilton was making it up. But if what Jones said was right, then BikePark Wales is acting illegally. That being so, then surely something has now been done about it?
No. I’ve just checked the BikePark Wales website and it reads the same as it did before. Which suggests that Carwyn Jones and his management team really doesn’t care about such colonialist arrogance.
When strangers take over a country, exploit it for their own ends, when the indigenous population is elbowed aside, and when a collaborationist administration encourages and funds such behaviour, then that, my friend, can not be dressed up as ‘investment’, or disguised as an ‘economic strategy’.
It is colonialism; and to deny it is no different to the Green Party (of England) refusing to accept that Wales is a country in its own right, just an economically underdeveloped region of England or Britain.
By any criteria you care to apply Wales is a colony. What are you going to do about it?