“A tsunami of second-home buyers”

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

This week’s offering is about a business I’ve been aware of for some time but have never got around to writing about. Given the raised concerns over the housing crisis in our rural areas I believe the time has come to turn on the spotlight.

WEST WALES PROPERTY FINDERS

This outfit, and the woman who seems to run it, Carol Peett, appear regularly in my Twitter timeline, or else people draw my attention to the business in other ways. That’s because West Wales Property Finders’ business is seeking out second homes and bucolic retreats for wealthy English buyers.

This is why, given the housing crisis in our rural communities, Mrs Peett and her company piss off so many people.

Which in turn explains why someone sent me a photo of a little piece from this week’s Sunday Times, in which Mrs Peett gleefully announced that, “Coastal Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion have seen a ‘tsunami’ of second-home buyers”.

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A strange word to use, ‘tsunami’, and yet, if you think about it, rather apt. For a tsunami is very destructive, and so is the business in which Carol Peett operates.

So who is Mrs Carol Peett?

One of my regular sources of information, Companies House, couldn’t tell me much because there’s no company called West Wales Property Finders (WWPF) registered. Yet the Sunday Times describes Carol Peett as “managing director”. If so, of what?

The only directorship I can find for Carol Elizabeth Poyer Peet is Pembrokeshire Weddings Ltd. Formed in June 2016 and folding in May 2019 without the organist ever striking up Here Comes the Bride.

There may be no company but there is certainly a website for WWPF, where we read that Carol Peett was, “Born and brought up on a farm in Pembrokeshire and with her family being one of the oldest in the County, Carol’s in-depth knowledge of the area, property market and people of West Wales is second to none”.

What pretentious bollocks! Everybody belongs to a very old family, that’s why we’re here today. I have ancestors going back to the Neolithic period, and beyond. If I close my eyes (and take another sip of Malbec) I can see one of these antecedents now, a handsome fellow, clad in well-cut animal skins, blogging for posterity on the walls of his cave.

The claim to being born and brought up on a farm also has a touch of the porky-pies to it. I say that because Carol Peett’s Linkedin profile (here in pdf) says that from 1967 until 1976 she was boarding at private schools in southern England. These were Hanford prep school in Dorset, and the now closed North Foreland Lodge in neighbouring Hampshire.

UPDATE: A comment tells us, “Carol Elizabeth Poyer Lewis born May 1958 in Romsey Hampshire”. Which means she was neither born nor brought up in Pembrokeshire.

Carol Peett (then Lewis) left North Foreland Lodge when she was 18, did not go to university, and worked for many years in England.

The WWPF website brings us up to date with, ” . . . she and Rayner returned to live in Pembrokeshire in 2004″. Though whether hubby, Edward Rayner Peett, had ever previously lived in Pembrokeshire is open to question. And as I’ve said, Carol Peett herself couldn’t have spent much time in Pembrokeshire before returning either.

That year, 2004, is when Carol Peet joined The County Homesearch Company, ” . . . the principal homefinder for Channel 4’s popular TV programme, ‘Location, Location, Location’.” She ran the west Wales office of that company.

The WWPF website tells us that, “With the sale of The County Homesearch Company to American company, Dwellworks, Rayner and Carol felt the time was right to break out on their own and so founded West Wales Property Finders in the Autumn of 2014″.

The problem remains that there seems to be no registered company of that name.

The most recent development according to Linkedin was in August 2018 when Carol Peett became an Associate at Garrington Property Finders. On that company’s website we read that the difference between an estate agent and a property finder is that the former works for the seller whereas Mrs Peett and her ilk work for the buyer.

In the eyes of Garrington Property Finders Scotland is a country unto itself, whereas Wales does not exist. The northern part of our homeland is in north west England, and the southern part in south west England.

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Here’s the Garrington website page for the South West Region, where we learn the company has offices in Exeter, Bristol and Winchester. No mention of Clunderwen, though, where dwell the Peetts.

So what is the relationship between Garrington Property Finders and West Wales Property Finders? Mrs Peett claims to be an ‘Associate’ of Garrington. I know what that term means in the Mob, but what does ‘associate’ mean in this context?

Answers on the traditional and now shamefully under-used post card.

As might be expected, Carol and Rayner Peett are loyal members of the Conservative and Unionist Party. And well regarded, I would guess, because for the December 2019 UK election we find their names atop Simon Hart’s nomination paper for the contest in the Carmarthenshire West and South Pembrokeshire constituency. (Available here in pdf.)

That of course is Simon Hart, the Secretary of State for Wales, who is said to have no more than a holiday home in his constituency. Maybe the Peetts found it for him!

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The fact that Rayner Peett was the proposer, and Carol Peett the seconder, suggests they are well up in the local Conservative Party pecking order, or else close to Simon Hart. Probably both.

We can all speculate as to whether being pally with the local MP helps their business, but we can be absolutely certain that the association does their business no harm.

A business that is both odious and distasteful, for Carol and Rayner Peett contribute to the destruction of Welsh communities. But they are not alone, there are plenty of others in the same line of business.

My view is that Carol and Rayner Peett are simply being true to their natures, and that the real blame lies elsewhere. With politicians aware of the second home problem and associated issues yet choosing to do nothing, and by their inaction allowing the erasing of our identity.

If, as I expect, there is a coalition administration after May’s Senedd elections, with Labour and Plaid Cymru simpering about a ‘progressive’ alliance, ‘wicked Tories’, etc., then they will need to act quickly on the rural housing crisis.

We need punitive taxation on second homes, no loopholes, and a maximum 5% of dwellings in any electoral ward allowed to be holiday homes. We also need to clamp down on the other ways in which Wales is exploited, thereby making it clear to all that Wales is no longer a retirement and recreation area for England.

Rather than making gestures about global problems they cannot influence, perhaps the next ‘Welsh Government’ can focus a little closer to home, stick to the day job by tackling the problems faced by Welsh people and Welsh communities.

There is a storm brewing, and this is inevitable. Because when any nation is being invaded, and overwhelmed, its identity threatened; when people are turned into strangers in their own communities, or expelled from those communities, then resentment will grow.

And if the people’s elected representatives are perceived to be complicit in this tragedy or unconcerned, unwilling for whatever reason to respond, then there will come a reaction from within the people.

The next ‘Welsh Government’ should recognise this. And also recognise that continuing to fail the Welsh people is no longer an option.

♦ end ♦

 




“Education, education, education”

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

The title is of course taken from Tony Blair’s famous speech of May 2001. It seems apposite because this offering is also about the UK Labour Party (Welsh branch) and education.

Last Friday, the BBC Wales website ran a story headlined ‘Black history lessons to be made mandatory in Welsh schools’. (If the link is broken, then the article is available here in pdf format.)

On the same day, Llais y Sais ran a full-page piece (below) by Jane Hutt MS, speaking on behalf of the ‘Welsh Government’, setting out her gang’s plan for an “anti-racist Wales”. (It too is available in pdf format.)

The two pieces are obviously linked. And both connect with a petition from last year demanding that the ‘Welsh Government’, ‘Make it compulsory for Black and POC UK histories to be taught in the Welsh education curriculum’.

It’s clearly orchestrated. And it needs to be answered because this campaign is misinterpreting statistics, telling outright lies, and marginalising the history of the people to whom this country belongs.

Let’s start with the BBC piece.

It focuses on Professor Charlotte Williams, “who led a working group set up by the Welsh government to look at how BAME contributions through history was taught in schools”.

To the surprise of absolutely no one Prof Williams discovered that the current education system could have been designed by the Ku Klux Klan. Her working group made 51 recommendations – all of which have been accepted by the ‘Welsh Government’. Which has also shelled out £500,000 to help implement those recommendations. (With more to follow, I’m sure.)

I can’t tell you much about Professor Williams. She’s probably a Labour Party loyalist, and that explains how she got the gig. That’s how things work in Wales.

Though I’m not clear about her field of expertise and her titles seem to be honorary. Certainly, that’s what’s suggested by this piece on the Bangor University website. (Available here in pdf format.) She’s an honorary professor at Bangor and an honorary fellow at Glyndŵr and South Wales.

In the Bangor University article I’ve linked to Williams says: “We have a rich history in Wales, built on difference and diversity”. Er, no.

For the greater part of our history we have been one people, speaking one language, divided only by geography and dialect. This is what held us together, this is what gave us our sense of ourselves as a people during centuries of conquest and subjugation.

As late as the 19th century that unity was reinforced by the Industrial Revolution and our adherence to the nonconformist denominations. Making me wonder how much Prof Williams really knows about Wales.

The ‘diversity’ to which she refers is very recent. And while its proselytisers preach unity, in practice they label and divide.

While Welsh children are to be taught BAME history the ‘Welsh Government’ has decided they will not be taught their own history, or the history of their country unless this is done through the prism of a ‘diversity’ that is absent from the history of Wales until comparatively recent times.

Something very strange is happening. The desire to tell the story of ‘colonialism, discrimination and exploitation’ is being used to ignore or marginalise the history of an indigenous population with first-hand knowledge of colonialism, discrimination and exploitation.

And this has all been prompted by the death of a man last year in a US city most of you can’t even remember the name of.

Another untruth in the BBC article can be found with, “In 2019, 12% of all pupils aged five and over came from minority ethnic backgrounds . . . according to Pupil Level Annual School Census data.”

We are encouraged to interpret that as meaning 12% of pupils in Welsh schools come from non-white backgrounds. But the source used, StatsWales, makes it clear that’s not the case. What it tells us is that 12% did not identify as ‘White British’.

This 12% is made up of Irish children, Italian children, and Polish children, maybe even white Welsh kids who didn’t want to identify as British.

But if we are to have an à la carte education system then I suggest our pedagogues get their answers ready for when Mrs McGillicuddy rocks up demanding to know why Seamus and Siobhan are not being taught the history of Gaelic Ireland.

Polish history is very interesting as well. And what about the Risorgimento!

It may sound like a good idea, but once history is tailored to group or individual backgrounds then it can become as irrelevant to others as one’s family history.

That’s why sensible countries take the ‘broad sweep’ approach to the history of their country and then fit that national past into the wider, global picture.

Now a quick shufty at the petition.

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A hybrid beast, this. It is addressed to the Welsh Parliament, yet it keeps referring to the UK and Britain.

To take the petition wording at face value it seems to be asking that Welsh children be taught about the experiences of immigrant groups in England. But why?

It also wants our children to learn that Wales, “benefited from colonialism and slavery for centuries”. Did we really! These ‘benefits’ must have passed my family by.

But what is Black and POC history? Is it the history of African people(s)? The spread of Islam? Moghul India? Asia? China? Pre-Columbian America? With nothing to connect these disparate stories other than their contacts with Europeans, at what point will BAME history degenerate into, ‘White bastards . . . ‘.

Finally, let’s look at the Llais y Sais article. There are so many distortions that it’s difficult to know where to start.

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The article is written by Jane Hutt of Surbiton, who spent much of her childhood in colonial Africa. Her career in Wales began in the third sector, which helped her become a Labour councillor. She was then an unsuccessful Westminster candidate before securing the consolation prize of a seat in the new Welsh Assembly in 1999.

So, yet another Labour politician who’s never done a real job.

In the second paragraph Hutt says, “. . . our partners have shared more shocking stories of racism and hate crime endured in Wales”. Who might these ‘partners’ be, I wonder?

I would hazard a guess that these are Labour’s cronies in the third sector and elsewhere. People and groups reliant on public funding that can be best secured by exaggerating a problem and / or telling the ‘Welsh Government’ what it wants to hear.

What’s in it for the Labour Party? Well, the sub-text has always been – from the days of Naz Malik and his Swansea Bay Race Equality Council  – ‘Welsh nationalism is by definition racist’. (Remember Naz?)

In discussing the impact of Covid, Hutt suggests that people from ethnic minority backgrounds have suffered worse than white people. This is more bollocks. The critical factor has been deprivation. The kind of deprivation experienced in the post-industrial communities that the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government has condemned to managed decline. Communities where the population is almost exclusively white, and Welsh.

Towards the end Hutt writes: “We want to make sure that Wales becomes not just non-racist, but anti-racist, by the year 2030”.

‘Non-racist’ means the absence of racism. To go further is to pander to extremists who argue that all white people carry the guilt for slavery and imperialist exploitation. A sentiment we saw articulated in the petition.

We are now in the territory of Critical Race Theory, reporting neighbours for watching Gone With The Wind, and shopping Nain for her Robertson’s golliwog badge. Maybe even self-flagellation.

Wales does not want to go there. Labour should not be taking us towards this fresh kind of intolerance.

And yet Hutt’s overlong homily is not without its unintended humour.

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The idea of Travellers complaining about ‘racism and hate crime’ is laughable. What they’re far more likely to be moaning about is being collared for their criminal behaviour. (Here’s a very recent example.)

‘Colourism’ may be a term many of you are unfamiliar with, but it’s rife in India, where it seems people of darker skin tone tend to be looked down on. All tied up with history, caste, religion, etc. It also seems to operate in the USA. Where, again, it is something found within communities, in this case, African-Americans.

Either way, ‘colourism’ or ‘shadism’ is a complex subject internal to certain countries and groups. It should never be a concern of the ‘Welsh Government’.

Hutt concludes with, “We must stand proud with open hearts and minds, and take positive action to banish racism, discrimination and inequality from Wales”. All very noble, and guaranteed a round of applause at the next Labour Party bunfight.

But this commitment to combating discrimination and inequality would carry more weight if, instead of playing to certain galleries, Labour politicians took action to stop Welsh people being ethnically cleansed from their own communities.

BAME education is so typically ‘Welsh’ Labour – about Wales, but not the Welsh. Twenty-two years of devolution has been all about gestures and virtue signalling for external audiences and tiny groups of activists.

While the essential Welshness of Wales, that sense of identity that brought devolution into being, has been undermined and the threats against it ignored.

Twenty-two years of anti-Welsh devolution.

This is why the Labour Party is opposed to both Welsh language education and the teaching of Welsh history in our schools. They fear it might make our young people more patriotic, and therefore, less likely to vote Labour.

Which is why, the more I think about BAME education, the more I suspect Labour may not have thought this through.

As I’ve just said, Labour does not want to enthuse Welsh children with a sense of patriotism, or worse, grievance. Nor does it wish to encourage anti-British or anti-English sentiment.

But if history is to be taught from a BAME and leftist perspective then how are children to be told about the slave trade, the Amritsar Massacre, An Gorta Mór, the Bengal famine, the coup against Mosaddeq, and so many other episodes of Britain’s past without encouraging a “Bastards!” reaction?

What you’ve read here is my interpretation of the Labour Party pandering to yet another vocal and unrepresentative minority. And while we should all strive to marginalise racism – for it will never be entirely eradicated – I believe that what is being suggested risks damaging the Welsh education system and doing more harm than good for communal relations.

I say that because I can think of few things more insulting than middle class left liberals designing a curriculum that tells kids relying on food banks in post-industrial shitholes that they should feel guilty for being the beneficiaries of slavery and ‘white privilege’. 

It really is time to get rid off these dangerous and insulting clowns in the Labour Party, and the same goes for any other leftist party that might keep Labour in power.

♦ end ♦

 




Lucky black cats!

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

I am indebted to a source for this fascinating story of Labour cronyism, concerning individuals who have previously appeared on this august site.

BACKGROUND

When my source mentioned the name Luke Holland Jac’s aural appendages went all a-quiver. For Holland was one of those named as being implicated in the shameful campaign against Carl Sargeant. A campaign that resulted in Sargeant’s suicide in November, 2017.

Here’s what I wrote in a pot pourri post in May 2018.

“I’m told that following Sargeant’s death, Christina Rees, MP for Neath and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, had to be forced by other Welsh MPs to make a statement of condolence. Because, I’m told, she, or perhaps her political adviser, former Cardiff councillor, Luke Holland, had been briefing against Carl Sargeant, and that the briefings continued against former AM Leighton Andrews, Sargeant’s friend and defender.

There was outrage within the Labour Party over the behaviour of Rees and Holland, which the bruvvers managed to keep within the party (easy given the absence of a Welsh media) but even so, Holland’s position became untenable and he left, or was forced to leave, Ms Rees’ office.”

Carl Sargeant died on November 7; Holland was forced out soon after, and then, on November 30, Holland did what all political insiders in his position do – he formed a PR outfit. This one named Cathod Du Consultancy. (Cathod du being Welsh for ‘black cats’.)

And Holland was soon picking up work from his old boss, Christina Rees. According to TheyWorkForYou Rees has slipped £33,164.95 Holland’s way since he branched out on his own. (Though I may have missed some payments.)

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The most recent accounts available – or rather, the ‘Filleted Unaudited Financial Statement’ – doesn’t give much away, and appears to show a company just bumping along. According to his Linkedin profile Holland has no other source of income.

But those ‘accounts’ are dated November 30, 2019, so maybe things have picked up since then. Certainly, that is what’s being suggested.

COMRADES

If we go back to the Cathod Du website, on the Our Clients page we see Learning & Work Cymru. (Though why isn’t Christina Rees MP listed among the clients?) This is the name used by the local manifestation of The National Learning and Work Institute (NLWI), with offices in London and Leicester. The Cardiff office was established in 2016.

The ‘National’ in the name refers of course to England. And even though it now covers two nations, no one saw any need to change it.

Running the Cardiff branch we find Dave Hagendyk. Some readers may recognise the name. For as his Linkedin profile reminds us, Hagendyk is another Labour insider. In fact, from November 2010 until he left to take up his new post with the NLWI in March 2017, Hagendyk was General Secretary of ‘Welsh’ Labour.

The figures I’ve been given – which my source obtained from a Freedom of Information request to the ‘Welsh Government’ – tell that from the time it set up its branch office in Cardiff NLWI started receiving money from the ‘Welsh Government’. Which, if nothing else, tells a lot about devolution in Wales.

Rather than set up a new body suited to Wales, serving Wales, and answerable to Wales, the Labour Party preferred to invite in and fund an English organisation. All it asked in return was that the money given was used to provide sinecures for Labour time-servers. Pure cronyism.

And make no mistake, it is just a branch office in Cardiff. Using ‘Cymru’ in the name is just deception. The website gives Companies House number 02603322, which is the company number for the England-headquartered organisation.

Despite claiming to have a distinct Welsh presence, and despite being in receipt of ‘Welsh Government’ funding, the National Learning and Work Institute maintains no separate accounts for its Welsh operations.

And we are not talking small change here. Between setting up in Wales in 2016 and April 2020 the National Learning and Work Institute received £2,080,035.90. It’s probably closer to three million now.

Thus far, we have established that Holland and Hagendyk are both Labour insiders, Holland’s company Cathod Du Consulting counts Hagendyk’s National Learning and Work Institute as a client, and of course, the NLWI gets oodles and oodles of Welsh public money.

What could better explain both how devolution has been corrupted and also how the Labour Party operates in Wales? But it gets even cosier!

If you compare the two Linkedin profiles you’ll see that when Hagendyk was General Secretary of ‘Welsh’ Labour he had for a while as his Head of Press and Broadcasting none other than Luke Holland.

And then, when Hagendyk left for NLWI, you’ll never guess who replaced him as General Secretary of Welsh Labour – Luke Holland’s wife, Louise Magee!

Magee is yet another of those who came to Wales to study, got involved in student politics, and then stayed to started climbing the greasy Labour pole. A career punctuated by stints helping sister parties in the Antipodes.

Does she know much about Wales? I doubt it. But that may suit the Labour Party perfectly. For the less she knows the less likely she is to question or contradict her political masters.

Where would ‘Welsh’ Labour be without the regular supply of English student careerists from our universities to actually run the party? And of course, the third sector?

So, let’s recap. The ‘Welsh Government’ gives millions to the English National Learning and Work Institute; money which is then used to provide what all concerned hope will be mistaken for real jobs; while also keeping disgraced Luke Holland out of the local food bank.

And to cap it all, and show his gratitude, Holland then sponsored the kit of Hagendyk’s daughter’s football team.

The ones who should really be thanked are us, the Welsh public. For this is just public money being recycled.

Or, to put it another way, what passes for the Welsh economy under Labour.

QUESTIONS

My source appended questions to the tract, and here they are:

  • Given the huge sums of public money given by the Welsh Government to Learning and Work Institute (L&W Cymru) – over £2 million over four years, there are questions to be answered about transparency and ‘cronyism’ concerning the relationship between L&W Cymru (Dave Hagendyk) and Cathod Du (Luke Holland).
  • Cathod Du state on their website that L&W Cymru are their “clients”. How much were Cathod Du paid by L&W Cymru for this work and was this work tendered for – given how much public funding L&W Cymru receive each year?
  • Is the Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, aware of the close personal relationship that exists between his Director in Wales and his client, Luke Holland’s company, Cathod Du?
  • Will the Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, disclose how much L&W Cymru paid Cathod Du for their services and whether this work is ongoing?
  • Given the personal relationship between Hagendyk and Holland, is the Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, aware that his Director in Wales is in receipt of a sponsorship donation to fund his private hobby – a donation from a company that refers to L&W Cymru as one its “clients”?
  • What guidance and oversight does the Learning and Work Institute give to L&W Cymru in relation to ensuring there is maximum transparency about how it conducts its financial affairs and how its spends its money and there is sufficient separation and no overlap between how its employees conduct themselves professionally and privately? In other words – would Dave Hagendyk have received sponsorship from Cathod Du for a private concern (hobby) had Cathod Du not been clients of L&W Cymru?
  • Considering the large sums of public money given by the Welsh Labour Government to L&W Cymru (year-on-year), what conditions are imposed by the Welsh Government to recipients of such funding, to ensure there is maximum transparency about how the money is spent – and to avoid any allegations or perception of ‘cronyism’?
  • What is the view of the Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Compton in relation to this matter? Would he be satisfied there was sufficient transparency about the financial relationship (both private and public) between L&W Cymru and Cathod Du given the huge amounts of public money L&W Cymru receives from the Welsh Government each year?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Call me a cynical old bastard (and many do!) but nothing here surprises me. This is how devolution has operated for 22 years – a vast trough for Labour insiders and hangers-on, regularly topped up with public funding.

Devolution serves the Labour Party but the Labour Party does not serve Wales. The areas that vote Labour are taken for granted, while the areas that don’t vote Labour are ignored or punished.

What have we got to show for devolution?

A third sector so big it can be seen from outer space. Thousands of otherwise unemployable misfits jostling for their hand-outs. An ugly nest of back-stabbers briefing against each other in Corruption Bay.

Wales deserves better.

Devolution has failed.  We can either move on to independence or just do away with devolution altogether. Either way, the only real loser will be the Labour Party and the parasitic networks attached to the beast.

Don’t be fooled by talk of ‘home rule’ or ‘federalism’. It doesn’t matter how much lipstick is put on the pig of devolution it will remain a pig.

Pigs and troughs – what an epitaph for devolution!

♦ end ♦

 




Guest post: ‘A sustainable Wales . . . or not’

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

As it says in the title, this a guest post, and from someone who knows of what they speak. Read it carefully, for it contains valuable insights that you’re unlikely to get elsewhere.

Specifically, this post is about Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) legislation and the vote on March 3 that saw the ‘Welsh Government’ push through its draconian measures which are simply another attack on our farmers.

The fact that most of the pollution doesn’t even come from farms is not simply irrelevant to Labour politicians, it’s ignored completely.

To understand the bigger picture you must realise that the local branch of the British Labour Party is a statist outfit that wants to control everything and everybody, either directly, or else through its agencies in the third sector and elsewhere.

As the writer explains, Labour politicians don’t like farmers because farmers own land (kulaks, see), and they tend to be independently-minded, with a habit of standing up for themselves. What’s more, they’re adept at recognising bullshit.

So farmers have to go. This will be justified on environmental grounds. Freeing land for hippies, rewilders and foreign investors.

This control-freakery also explains why Wales is a basket-case economy. Labour does not want free-thinking indigenous entrepreneurs, even if they provide jobs and make Wales prosperous. Far better to keep Wales poor, blame somebody else, and keep getting elected.

The resultant poverty can also be justified with envirobollocks – ‘What ew mean ew got no job – look at all them wind turbines saving the planet. You selfish bugger!’

Well, of course, that’s not strictly true. Labour politicians and their third sector cronies will always have jobs. Enviroshysters – almost all of them from outside of Wales – will also have jobs. It’s ordinary Welsh people who lose out.

The message is simple. Don’t vote Labour in May’s Senedd elections. Don’t vote for Plaid Cymru either, because Labour will need a coalition with Plaid to stay in power.

Now read what our guest writer has to say . . .

So, in the last month or so, Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment has pushed on with legislation she said she would not push on with 11 times. This was on the basis that agricultural incidents had not decreased from the 3 a week figure that is regularly quoted. As of 3rd March, the regulations will now progress following the Senedd vote.

There are various figures banded around as to why this has been a trigger point and why such an aggressive move has been taken, in the middle (and it is the middle) of the COVID crisis and indeed the aftermath of the Brexit deal.

This is really a statement piece by the Minister to appeal to the environment lobby and her back benchers in the run up to an election. Facts, figures and advice on the regulation from her own regulator, NRW, have been ignored and politics has been front and centre of the decision. Where to go from here? We’ll come back to that a little later.

Jac adds: Not only has Lesley Griffiths been saying it, but her civil servants have also been saying it in responses to members of the public. Click to enlarge

When it comes to Welsh Government, it’s worth taking a look back to see how things have developed.

Firstly, getting rid of scrutiny and the various committees that have provided review and direction has been a key strategy. The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs (CCERA) Committee has to cover such a broad portfolio that it cannot possibly scrutinise in depth. The simple fact is that scrutiny is now a manufactured process, by invitation if you like, with the environment lobby in the pocket of the Minister, who are anti-agri, anti-fisheries and any other private use of natural resources for economic gain, unless you’re a global investor making a land grab under the guise of rewilding, but we won’t mention that.

Secondly, Welsh Government has struggled for years to work out how they could get their policy objectives imprinted on rural Wales. We’re now in the drive to reverse climate change, de-carbonise and promote Wales to the world as a sustainable nation. Farmers own 70% of our private land. The difficulty with trying to get farmers to comply with change is that they own their land and are a broadly militant and belligerent old bunch who would rather sell a kidney than be told what to do. So, in combination with the agriculture white paper out at the moment consulting on the future farm payments system, Minister Griffiths has slapped an NVZ on the whole of Wales to boot.

When you look at some of the drivers of food industry growth, Minister Griffiths own Food and Drink Strategy 2014 – 2020 has targeted increasing sales by 30% to £7bn turnover. Much rejoicing took place last year when it was proclaimed that Welsh Government had ‘smashed its target’. Now a new strategy needs to be developed and it will be based on ‘sustainability’. It should be remembered that Welsh Government has encouraged and invested in the agri-food sectors rapid growth and the question must be asked as to whether it is now a victim of its own success?

I digress.

You see, if you want a snapshot example of what is in store for agriculture, you only need to look at what Welsh Government has done with another comparator sector over which they have devolved responsibility – fisheries.

A small sector in Wales, but nonetheless regularly rolled out by the Minister with unsubstantiated claims of sustainability for which she now strives. The vast majority of engagement mechanisms with the sector have been withdrawn, because, like farmers, fishermen are too difficult for Welsh Government to deal with.

Unlike agriculture, with land ownership in the hands of farmers, Welsh Government actually does have devolved responsibility for marine and fisheries and in layman’s terms, it owns the sea out to the median line. If there is an example of how not to sustainability management resources, this is it. Regulation, not management, is king, delivering boom and bust fisheries such as our main shellfish species by volume, Whelk, that is exploited largely by businesses outside of Wales. Now where have we heard this before…………oh yes, renewables.

Marine renewables is the Minister’s golden ticket to meeting green energy targets and no one will get in the way. While our many centuries old fishing industry and heritage fisheries such as Teifi Seine nets, coracles and the lave net fisheries on the Severn are regulated (for regulated read bullied) out, the push for action in the climate emergency continues. Fisheries is a shining example of how Welsh Government ‘manages’ its resources and should serve as a warning to what is to come for terrestrial Wales.

So the stage is set for the roll out of the NVZ agricultural pollution regulations that will sit alongside the consultation on the agriculture white paper and an announcement made with regard to the future strategy for the food and drink sector where sustainable food production will be at the core. All very nicely choreographed.

What is amazing in all of this is the almost pathological inability of the Minister to acknowledge the issues caused by sewage outfall and releases by water authorities. This has been documented by the BBC and most recent data provided by the Rivers Trust makes for dire reading. Her responses when questioned on this in Plenary have been evasive to say the least. She doesn’t want to talk about it. She has to get her way with the agri sector to line up the other policy objectives. A savage attack on the proposed regulations took place in the Senedd via a recent Conservative debate and again, while referring to a very recent incident and the ‘one too many’ quote, the reality is that statistically there could have well been another 82 sewage incidents going on the very same day!

I have no doubt that a number of MS’s who have voted on this will not have the foggiest what they are voting for, but will have been lobbied by the ‘bastard farmers’ environment crowd from their Cardiff and London bases. The perverse part of this is that in a drive for Wales to be perceived as one of the world’s most sustainable food producers, Minister Griffiths will designate the whole of the country an NVZ against the advice of her regulator and ignoring the main contributor to water quality issues. How does she think this looks from the outside looking in? We’re a laughing stock.

In sectors that have been under devolved regulation for many years such as fisheries, the Minister now talks about co-management out of regulation with a group they can’t engage with and then at the same time has rejected any suggestion of voluntary co-managed farmer-led approaches to agri pollution that were on the table to move to, yep, you’ve guessed it……..regulation. I would suggest her officials need a Zoom meeting to square the circle here.

L to R: Gary Haggaty, civil servant; Lesley Griffiths MS, Labour, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs; Caroline Hitt, writer for the ‘Western Mail’; Elin Jones MS, Plaid Cymru, Senedd Llywydd (Speaker). The cosiness of Corruption Bay made corporeal in a Dublin bar. Click to enlarge

This will be her modulation moment, akin to the decision made by Alun Davies to move 15% of the budget away from direct payments to Pillar 2 and just look at the success that has been, as highlighted by Wales Audit Office last year and further exposed by Craig Williams MP recently. I could also go into the uplands payments debacle but I won’t.

How the farming unions react to this will be key and a judicial review can be expected. However, there is a wider assault in the offing for rural Wales in the hot off the press Future Wales 2040 in the name of sustainability and climate change. It is a large document, but I would urge anyone who has an interest in the future of this country to read it and then decide how you will vote in May. Future Wales 2040 is the planning template for this country and where this blog has pointed out the follies of various ‘developers’ and ‘investors’, I’m certain we will see more of this to come, at scale.

Without wanting to overstate the position, we may be seeing the managed decline of industries in the same way the coal industry was portrayed – inefficient, dirty and unwanted by those who have never done a hard day’s work in their life. The Valleys have never recovered and now having failed to deliver on economic development, Welsh Government MUST deal with climate change, even if it means forcing through bad regulation to achieve it.

♦ end ♦

 




Bollocks. Unadulterated Labour bollocks

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

Over the years I’ve read a lot of political nonsense and outright bullshit in the Western Mail, much of it emanating from the Labour Party. But all records were broken on Friday, February 26, 2021 when Llais y Sais gave us a sneak preview of a speech to be delivered by First Minister Mark Drakeford.

To help you fully appreciate the levels of dishonesty contained in the speech I shall produce the offending article and then walk you through it paragraph by numbered paragraph.

Click to enlarge

Let’s start with the headline and the opening paragraphs. Home rule within the UK is impossible, for without a written constitution it could, like devolution, be undone at any time. (Come to that, how does ‘home rule’ differ from devolution?)

And even with a written constitution, an unequal Union such as the UK allows the dominant partner to do what it damn well likes. As England has for centuries.

No, let’s be honest, home rule is an unworkable nonsense. The truth is that Labour in Wales is alarmed by the possibilities unveiled by the Internal Market Act, which allows London to ignore the devolution settlement almost entirely.

Home rule would have offered no defence against the Internal Market Act.

Though Labour’s hostility to this Act was not prompted by thoughts of what’s best for Wales but by the fear that Boris Johnson and his mates might start threatening Labour’s hegemony in Wales, and the crony networks the party has built up over the past 22 years.

I hate to say it, but Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, was not far off the mark when he said that the ‘Welsh Government’ was simply worrying about its own little status.

Now let’s go through the rest of the article, focusing on the more interesting paragraphs.

PARAGRAPH 4: “Internationalist not nationalist. Outward facing, not inward looking”, says Drakeford. Now this could either be a call to arms and a commitment to global humanity or a pathetic justification for having done nothing for Wales for the 22 years of devolution.

Because we’re dealing with ‘Welsh’ Labour, it is of course the latter.

Wales is the poorest country in Europe. Not so long ago I would have said ‘Western Europe’, but now the countries of the former Soviet bloc have caught us up and in many cases overtaken us.

Little Estonia – which the Russians swore would starve if it went independent – is now “one of the most tech-savvy societies in the world”. Here in Wales there are still communities without a decent internet connection.

The truth is that ‘Welsh’ Labour and its so-called ‘Welsh Government’ should be doing a lot more looking inward; then they might appreciate this country’s problems, its real needs, and address them before riding off on Quixotic crusades to save the planet.

PARAGRAPHS  5 & 6: These continue in the same toe-curling vein, with the predictable use of, “progressive” (‘pass my revolver, wife!’), and even “destiny”!

Though, chwarae teg, I did agree with, “Yes to a Wales that takes ownership of its own destiny” . . . but home rule ain’t gonna deliver that.

PARAGRAPH 7: Drakeford believes the coming Senedd election is a contest unlike any other. Indeed it is, and it could be his last. Go for it, Neil!

PARAGRAPH 8: This is where we learn that Labour has a new strapline – ‘Moving Wales Forward’. God! I wish I’d thought of that!

Can’t you just hear kids shouting it as they whizz by on their bikes! Young women having it tattooed on their intimate parts! Football and rugby crowds – when they’re allowed back, of course – chanting it on the terraces!

What a response to all those who want to move us back. Though Nationalists like me also want to move forward, to independence; and even the anti-Welsh mob want to move forward, by consigning devolution to the dustbin of failed political initiatives. (Where it belongs.)

When you think about it, the only ones who want to stand still, maintain the status quo, are the devolutionists, and where are they to be found? Er, in the Labour Party.

PARAGRAPHS 9 – 12: Here it’s appeals to, ” . . . our tenacity . . . our institutions and sense of social solidarity . . . characteristics that will shape . . . generations to come”. Then it’s, “from the coal field (sic) to the rugby field . . . work together . . . shared experience . . .”.

The kind of vacuous rambling that would shame a be-medalled Latin American caudillo.

PARAGRAPHS 13 – 16: I was obviously unfair in suggesting that 22 years of devolution under ‘Welsh’ Labour has been a disaster – for we are a “world leader in recycling”!

That will be a great consolation to those queuing at food banks, and those being forced out of the communities in which they were born and raised, and where they’d hoped to die.

Twice we see the “National Forest” mentioned. Does this mean that the ‘Welsh Government’ has a plan to develop a forestry industry in Wales, generating wealth, creating jobs, and sustaining communities?

Don’t be silly, Jac, it’s, “for people to further enjoy Wales’ natural beauty”. In other words – more fucking tourism! But worse, this project could also be seen as meeting the demands of Monbiot and his disciples, those who want to dispossess our farmers and take over their land.

The war on farmers becomes clear again with, “tackling agricultural pollution”, presumably into our waterways. Yet most of the pollution in our rivers has nothing to do with agriculture.

Of course this truth does not serve the ‘Welsh Government’s anti-farming agenda. Consequently, it will never be admitted by Natural Resources Wales, or Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. And certainly not by Lesley’s civil servant lover Gary Haggaty.

But I suppose what pissed me off most in this section was the reference to “investment in new green jobs”. This is not new, we’ve been hearing it for over twenty years. But how many jobs has ‘green energy’ created?

Think of the massive Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, one of the largest in Europe. Does it employ any local people? Certainly, no jobs were provided at earlier stages because the towers, motors, and blades were made in Germany and Denmark.

The only real benefits the local community sees is the £1.8m doled out every year as a Community Fund by the owner of the wind farm, Swedish company Vattenfall. Which only makes me wonder how much of a killing Vattenfall is making.

This Community Fund is just crumbs from our own table.

Despite Labour claiming for two decades or more that renewables would create jobs, and be a great boost to the Welsh economy, the reality is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has simply allowed Wales to be exploited, with no benefits at all for us.

It’s no longer coal mines, slate quarries, or dams and reservoirs, it’s wind and solar farms, and wave energy. But Wales continues to be exploited by strangers.

Therefore only a fool would believe Labour’s promise to deliver in the future what it has already been promising to deliver for so long. ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’.

PARAGRAPHS 17 – 22: Here, gentle reader, we reach new heights of hifalutin vacuity before plumbing the depths of cringe-inducing attempts at eloquence.

Though it started encouragingly, because when I read “generations who come after us” I thought at first it was a reference to Burke’s Contract, but no.

This is followed by. “We are so lucky in our country, to have all the natural resources we need to put Wales at the forefront of the global energy revolution which the world will need: wind, water and wave”.

And here, Drakeford is absolutely right – we do have all these resources! But we don’t own any of them. They don’t generate wealth or jobs for us. For as I say, that’s because ‘Welsh’ Labour encourages strangers to exploit our homeland as if it was some 19th century African ‘possession’.

Then comes the empty promise of jobs, again. Before we are exhorted to, ” . . . make our contribution to securing the future of our beautiful but fragile planet”.

(Cue violins and rustling Kleenex.)

CONCLUSION

This sententious drivel exposes where Labour has gone wrong and how it has failed Wales.

Saving the planet – as if we could! – has done nothing for us. The promised jobs never materialised. Even if they had materialised we would have been working for foreign companies because Labour does not want successful Welsh companies, with Welsh businessmen regularly exposing the bruvvers’ idiocies.

No, Labour wants the quiet life of foreign companies uninterested in Welsh politics and a third sector of Labour cronies forever finding problems for Labour to fund while blaming someone else.

But nothing exposes the reality of Wales today, and Labour’s shortcomings, more than the fact that nowhere in Drakeford’s waffle does he say, ‘Vote for us on our record’.

All he can offer is pie in the sky, recycled promises on green jobs, and more saving the planet. Nowhere does he talk of what really matters to most Welsh people: health, education, jobs (that might actually materialise), and housing they can afford.

Labour has pandered to certain alien lobbies at the expense of the Welsh people for too long, and this cannot go on. Labour must be removed from power in May.

And remember! a vote for Plaid Cymru is a vote to keep Labour in power.

♦ end ♦

 




What you won’t read in the Western Mail

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

I’m using this, another of my infrequent, pre-retirement postings, to put out a letter I sent to the Western Mail that that organ clearly has no intention of publishing. Probably because it’s critical of the Labour Party and Labour’s crony state in Wales.

Late last year it became known that social housing providers had been levying unlawful charges on certain tenants. A curious business in which the Senedd’s lawyers had to explain the law to ‘Welsh Government’ lawyers!

After being informed, the ‘Welsh Government’ hurriedly introduced backdated legislation, which of course covered the collective arse of Labour’s cronies in housing associations and the third sector.

Perhaps more importantly, the legislation avoided having to make refunds to the tenants. And all because somebody in Corruption Bay cocked-up. Given the way this country is run the person responsible will probably be promoted.

Last week, I wrote a letter to the Wasting Mule trying to explain the mess housing is in. Given the matters it addresses – and no matter what the Western Mail may think – I believe the contents of this letter merit an audience.

Here is that letter:

The remarkable case of the Senedd’s lawyers suggesting the Welsh Government’s lawyers have got it wrong over allowing landlords of rented properties to levy service charges brings into focus the status of Registered Social Landlords or housing associations.

For many years RSLs were classed as Provident and Industrial Societies, regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Most in Wales held housing stock that had been transferred from local authorities and received further funding from the Welsh Government to improve those properties and build new.

But in October 2015, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) dropped a bombshell by announcing that RSLs in England would be reclassified from Private Non-Financial Corporations to Public Non-Financial Corporations.

Further announcements were made relating to the devolved authorities.

Which meant that what had always been treated as public bodies would now officially become public bodies. And this threw up problems.

Not least that the debts of Registered Social Landlords would transfer to the UK public sector net debt.

To avoid this unwanted outcome RSLs were privatised. The legislation for Wales was passed in May 2018 and accepted by the ONS a month later.

This privatisation saw Welsh housing associations form subsidiaries, often unregistered and unregulated, which are now building private properties all over the country, many marketed as ‘affordable’ in an attempt to maintain the pretence of being social housing providers.

‘Affordability’ is determined by the price of other properties in the area. In Abersoch, for example, an ‘affordable’ property would be in the region of £330,000. Affordable to the Cheshire Set, maybe, but not to locals.

Privatisation and the rush into private housing means that most housing associations no longer have an interest in building affordable rented housing. This explains why an increasing number of local authorities have started building council houses again.

And yet, despite now being privatised, and being major players in the private housing market (at the expense of social housing), housing associations are still being funded by the Welsh Government.

With much of this funding reaching subsidiaries who use it to build the unaffordable ‘affordable’ housing. Justified by arguing that the profits from the private sales will go back to the parent RSL to build social housing!

Er, why can’t the parent RSL just keep ALL the money and build social housing?

From figures I’ve received from the Welsh Government, the total amount given to RSLs between 2010 and 2020 was in excess of £1.3bn, with the annual amounts increasing since they were privatised in 2018.

Clearly, the Welsh Government still regards housing associations as public bodies. This explains both the continued funding and the current attempt to legislate in favour of these officially privatised companies.

It also tells us that the housing sector is a shambles, and sorting it out should be a priority for the administration that comes in after May’s Senedd elections.

Which could start by clarifying the status of our housing associations, their rapidly multiplying subsidiaries, and the relationship of both with the Welsh Government.

Specific attention should be paid to Welsh Government funding given to RSLs being diverted to subsidiaries for open market housing.

♦ end ♦

 




Welsh independence: Why? For whom?

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL PROBABLY NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

I had planned a piece on May’s Senedd elections (or whenever they’re held). But then I realised there are a couple of factors still playing out that will impact mightily on that election. I mean Coronavirus and the effects of Brexit.

So, I’ve put that planned piece on the back burner. There’ll be plenty of time to return to it when the picture has become a little clearer.

Instead, I shall deal with another issue that will certainly impact on the election and more widely on Welsh public and political life in the years ahead. Though to refer to it as a mere ‘issue’ fails to do it justice.

IN MY BEGINNING

I got involved in the nationalist movement in the mid-1960s. Driven by patriotism, a lifelong love of history, and a growing interest in politics that soon made me realise my country was not being treated fairly.

I’m not sure there was a single ‘trigger’, but Tryweryn certainly influenced my conversion. If I had any doubts, then Aberfan ended them.

From a long time ago. Click to enlarge.

I wanted independence to improve the lives of the people I cared about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I wanted independence to protect my country from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what made us Welsh.

My Wales had no bogeymen, no minorities against which retribution was sought, and there was no irredentist dimension. My nationalism was, and remains, purely defensive; the only people who need fear it are the enemies of my country and my people.

If what I’ve written strikes anyone as ‘blood and soil’ nationalism then that really is your problem, not mine.

I cannot think of any reason for wanting independence other than to serve the best interests of the greatest possible number of Welsh people.

THE LEFT AND THE INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT

On December 19 Yes Cymru put out what seemed at the time to be a harmless enough tweet welcoming Conservatives into the ranks. The tweet ended with a recognition of the “compatibility” of conservatism and independence.

This tweet outraged the hard left and the woke (increasingly difficult to tell apart) and within an hour it was taken down.

A generous interpretation might be that those who demanded its removal don’t know the difference between Conservative and conservative. For I’m a lifelong believer in Welsh independence who is a conservative, but not a Conservative.

A less charitable, and more worrying, interpretation would be that for some in the new independence movement neither Conservatives nor conservatives are welcome. This they seem to justify by arguing that Wales is a ‘socialist country’, with a ‘radical tradition’.

But how true is that?

The claim that Wales is a socialist country is premised on the fact that the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru together usually get a majority of the votes cast in elections.

Though in the December 2019 Westminster elections Labour gained 40.9% while Plaid Cymru got only 9.9%. Giving a combined total of just 50.8%.

In the most recent elections to the National Assembly (as was) in 2016, the combined percentage of the constituency vote was 55.2%. For the regional lists, the ‘socialist’ total was 52.3%.

But these figures are misleading because how many of those who vote for Plaid Cymru and Labour are really socialists?

I live in Plaid Cymru’s safest seat, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, but few of the Plaid supporters I know could be described as socialists. Most are cultural nationalists and / or social conservatives. It’s a similar picture throughout Plaid Cymru’s western heartland.

Turning to Labour; yes, the vote looks impressive, but to assume that all Labour voters are socialists is nonsense.

The average Labour voter supports the party because he or she believes Labour will raise wages and benefits. The closest this constituency comes to socialism is on specific issues such as the NHS. But again, self-interest dominates.

So, what of Wales’ claimed ‘radical tradition’?

Since the Second World War radicalism – in the sense of challenging the role of the English monarchy and the legitimacy of the British state in Wales – has come exclusively from nationalists.

In the same period Wales has seen strikes, perhaps most memorably the two miners’ strikes, but again, these were about protecting jobs and communities, they were not a fight for socialist ideology.

Socialists are understandably reluctant to concede any of this because it undermines their claim to a monopoly on radicalism. Also because the rise of nationalism in the 1960s had the effect of turning many in the Labour Party into simpering royalists or tub-thumping Unionists. Something that embarrasses many on the left.

The fact is that socialism in the UK was, at a very early stage, broken and domesticated as the Labour Party, and brought into the constitutional fold. Thereby allowing the UK to avoid the political upheavals seen elsewhere in Europe.

Yet many on the left of the independence movement can make common cause with ‘socialists’ who are diehard Unionists, while rejecting those who sincerely believe in independence because they’re not socialists. 

The only interpretation is that socialism is more important for these people than Welsh independence, with the independence movement being just another vehicle for their socialism.

As for the alleged radical tradition, yes it’s there, though sporadic and localised. In the 19th century, the Merthyr Rising, Chartists, Rebecca, Ceffyl Pren, Scotch Cattle, Tithe Wars, were all rooted in an outraged sense of social justice; defending family and community but owing absolutely nothing to Marxist dogma.

What’s happened since is that socialists have tried to re-write history by adopting movements and causes that were never at all socialist.

But even if Wales was a socialist country that would still not be reason enough to exclude others from what should be an ideology-free independence movement.

“DOCTRINES FASHIONED TO THE VARYING HOUR” *

What Labour cleverly did in the twentieth century was to capitalise on the legitimate demands of working class people and promote those demands with more vigour than the Liberal Party.

Which explains why the Labour Party displaced the Liberal Party a century ago as the main opposition to the Conservatives.

But once Labour started going beyond demands for higher wages, better working conditions, etc., into the abstract and the esoteric, promoting socialism for socialism’s sake, then it always lost support.

As we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century the rupture between ideological socialists and the working class is almost complete. To the point where today’s left liberal elite positively despises the white working class.

It’s been summed up brilliantly by trade unionist and lifelong Labour member, Paul Embery, in his new book Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class. As he points out, there are elements of the contemporary left that detest working class values of family, community, tradition and patriotism.

This contemptuous attitude has now reached Wales; it has infected Labour and Plaid Cymru; it has spread to Yes Cymru, and it’s threatening the independence movement.

(Though in fairness, Labour has been far cleverer than Plaid Cymru in keeping the single-issue fanatics, the anti-Semites and other undesirables at bay.)

This new, woke left exercises influence wholly disproportionate to its numbers. As we saw with the removal of that Yes Cymru tweet.

This is done by taking a Manichean position in which they are right and those who disagree with them are not just mistaken, or wrong, but positively evil.

Perfectly exemplified by Leanne Wood and others in Plaid Cymru.

Ask how Antifa rioting and burning shops in Portland, Oregon on a nightly basis promotes anything other than violence and you’ll be met with, ‘Antifa stands for anti-fascist, so only fascists question Antifa’.

Of course! But that still leaves unanswered the question of how burning shops and attacking innocent bystanders and police is fighting fascism.

Here’s another tweet concerning Yes Cymru exposing this attitude. Thomas Wynne Lewis argued that Yes Cymru must appeal to “people on all sides of the political compass”, Luke Williams pretended to agree – then accused Yes Cymru of having “platformed fascists”!

I’m sure this never happened, but as I’ve just said, in the black and white world of the woke left those who contradict them, point out their errors, are, ipso facto ‘fascists’, ‘racists’, ‘transphobes’, etc., etc. End of debate.

This intolerance in defence of ‘toleration’, this refusal to accept alternative views in defence of ‘diversity’, this ‘no platforming’ in defence of ‘freedom of expression’, is now causing problems in the independence movement.

I’ll conclude this section with another tweet, or rather a retweet, this one from a doyen of the wokies, Aled Gwyn Williams. Williams is a member of both Plaid Cymru and Yes Cymru. (As is Teifi.)

“You’re never innocent if you’re a Tory”, the image tells us. Who could argue, for those two in their wingback armchairs are surely the Fred and Rose West of Acacia Avenue.

Remember, folks – these lunatics walk among us!

Let’s push the boat out and imagine Andrew R T Davies, former leader of the Assembly Tories undergoing a genuine conversion to Welsh independence. Despite this being a coup for the movement, and likely to encourage others to support independence, he would be rejected by those we’ve met here.

He would be damned by people who are simply using the independence movement to promote whichever fleetingly popular lunacies torment them.

* ‘The Deserted Village’, Oliver Goldsmith

‘WHY DO WE WANT IT!’

There are a number of factors explaining the increase in support for independence, unfortunately, many of them are tangential, exploitative, or simply wrong.

To begin with, there’s Brexit, and the belief that an independent Wales would join, or re-join, the EU. A belief strengthened by Plaid Cymru recently saying – without apparently consulting anyone, or checking the referendum result – that an independent Wales would become a member of the European Union.

No mention was made of a fresh referendum.

Yet another example of leftist elitist arrogance, echo chamber decision making, and out of step with the wishes of the people.

Recently exposed with an interesting poll on Twitter, not least for the fact that 2,214 people voted. And because there was a majority for ‘Full Independence’ over ‘Independence within the EU’.

If that vote can be achieved on Twitter, where ‘certain views’ tend to dominate, then in the real world the majority would be even greater.

Others are now considering independence because of the present Conservative government in London. Disliking BoJo and the gang is perfectly understandable, but hardly a good enough reason to want Welsh independence.

What happens if Labour wins the next election? Would that mean that an unequal and exploitative Union becomes acceptable again?

A third element increasing support for independence emerges from the foliage in the form of the planet-savers. I don’t wish to be dismissive; I’m quite fond of planet Earth myself, but too many of those I’m thinking of – just like the wokies – see an independent Wales as a blank canvas, with them monopolising the crayons.

This explains the Green Party of Englandandwales recently announcing its support for independence. Yet this party has so little respect for Wales that not long ago it voted against setting up a genuine Wales Green Party.

To explain this dichotomy we need to remember the canvas and crayons I just mentioned. Even under devolution the Greens, in various forms, have found it far too easy to dictate what passes for ‘Welsh Government’ policy.

Just think of One Planet Developments, Future Generations legislation, funding taken from farmers and given to ‘rewilders’ and other charlatans, etc., etc. And a fat lot of good it’s done.

Western Mail 09.01.2021. Click to enlarge

The Greens have decided to support independence because they believe they can easily persuade the government of an independent Wales to implement their polices, without the need for any democratic mandate, and thereby use Wales as a platform from which the rest of the world can better see their virtue signalling.

The benefits of these policies to the Welsh people would be zero because as Angela Womak, deputy leader of the Green Party of Englandandwales, put it:

Image Nation.Cymru

Wales “tackling the ecological and climate emergencies”, is unadulterated bollocks. To suggest that a tiny country can make any significant difference is laughable.

Whether it’s Brexit, Boris Johnson, or environmental concerns, these alone – even collectively – are the wrong reasons for wanting independence.

DEVOLUTION IS DEAD

The battle-lines are being drawn between those who want to abolish the Senedd and assimilate Wales into England, and those of us wanting Wales to be independent.

There will be few speaking up for devolution because it has failed. Wales is a worse place in 2021 than she was in 1999 partly because successive administrations have pandered to vociferous minorities rather than address the needs of the great majority of the nation.

The upcoming contest over Wales’ future could be a close call, and that’s why anyone supporting independence, from any background, and of any political orientation, should be welcomed. None should be excluded.

But those joining simply to promote their pet issue, and then seeking to exclude those who don’t agree with them that it’s the most important thing in the world, need to be taken aside and spoken to.

For these will alienate more people than they will ever attract.

Those taking an interest in independence need to be assured that the direction of ideological travel for an independent Wales, the spending and other priorities, will be decided by the Welsh people, in democratic elections, after independence is achieved.

It will be a blank canvass, and we’ll all have a chance with the crayons.

For my part, I still want independence to improve the lives of the people I care about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I want independence to protect Wales from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what makes us Welsh.

I see no reason to change. I never have, and I never will.

♦ end ♦




Lucky Gwynedd – more ‘investors’!

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 had planned another piece on May’s Senedd elections, but my plans changed when I learned of a big investment promised for the capital of the Cheshire Riviera . . . which the indigenes insist on calling Abersoch.

To accompany this new story I have a big update on Llanbedr International Airport complemented by reports from Gwynfryn, and Bryn Llys (aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’).

Verily, our cup runneth over!

FLY BOYS

I’ve written about Llanbedr Airfield a few times before. Try ‘Come fly with me‘, from January.

The Llanbedr site was bought by the Welsh Development Agency 31 March, 2006 from the Ministry of Defence, for £700,000. Here’s the title document. It was then leased, 31 May, 2012, for 125 years, for £887,000 plus VAT, to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP (since renamed Snowdonia Aerospace LLP). Here’s the title document.

Now that might seem like a good bit of business, but it’s not. In fact, it’s one of those deals that makes a mockery of devolution.

Those clowns in Corruption Bay were forced to buy a site they didn’t want, and for which they had no use. They then had to pay for repairs and maintenance, keeping the place spruce until their masters in London produced favoured tenants.

Llanbedr Airfield. Click to enlarge. Click X top right to return to blog

As for the lease, it was paid for by the Ministry of Defence and The Welsh Ministers. Though for some reason only the MoD is shown on the title document. We need to go to the Companies House entry for Snowdonia Aerospace to learn of our generosity.

So we’ve paid twice for a white elephant. But it gets worse!

Snowdonia National Park has approved a by-pass for the village of Llanbedr, which will of course run close to the airfield. We read in this Cambrian News report: “Llanbedr, which lies between Barmouth and Harlech, suffers severe tailbacks during the height of summer with people visiting Shell Island.”

Which means that a great deal of public money is to be spent causing environmental damage in order to encourage more traffic to a foreign-owned campsite! What happened to environmentally conscious Wales?

I’ve got a better idea – let’s get rid of ‘Shell Island’. It caters for campers and caravans, providing everything they need, including a shop and a bar. It contributes little to the wider area other than petrol and diesel fumes.

Alternatively, seeing as the Workman family, owners of ‘Shell Island’, will be the main beneficiaries of this by-pass, shall we ask them to make a financial contribution?

But it’not just ‘Shell Island’. (Correct name, Mochras.) There are also locally-owned caravan sites marring the littoral. Many granted consent in the days of Merioneth County Council, when men of a ‘fraternal’ bent would shake hands and grant each other planning permission.

In this BBC piece we read, “Supporters of the 1.5km (one mile) bypass have claimed it will slash journey times by an hour, and boost investment by improving access to the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, a drone-testing facility at the former RAF Llanbedr airfield.”

The implication has to be that motorists experience one-hour traffic hold-ups in tiny Llanbedr, which is utter bollocks. I suggest the ‘supporters’ saying that may have inhaled too much traffic fumes, or something.

The second part hints at another reason for the by-pass. Though maybe I’m wrong to call it a by-pass, for a recent comment to an earlier piece of mine about Llanbedr airfield says: “And yes the Welsh Government is funding the Llanbedr bypass, which legally can’t be called a bypass as it has to be an access road to the airfield to qualify for grants. And no it doesn’t go to the airfield!”.

Which suggests that a lot of people are being misled, even screwed, over Llanbedr airfield.

This source also wrote (of the blog): “Just come across this article – excellent stuff. No mention though of RAF Brawdy in Pembrokeshire which the same people as at Llanbedr ran for a while before dissolving the company with outstanding charges against the Welsh Government.”

The company was Brawdy Business Park Ltd (Co No 3431529). And again, it took over a redundant military installation, promised lots of jobs, received grants and loans, created few jobs, folded the company and buggered off.

Will the same thing happen at Llanbedr?

Brawdy Business Park. Google image from Aug, 2011. Click to enlarge and click on X in top right to return to blog

Though ‘buggered off’ is not strictly true. For while the company, Brawdy Business Park Ltd, was certainly struck off in April 2013, the presence of those involved lingered on. Indeed, it lingers still.

If we look at the last Annual Return listing shareholders we see that by September 2011 all shares had been transferred to a company named Solutions for Storage Ltd. Which had changed its name in 2010 to Ocean Park Investments Ltd.

And as Brawdy Business Park sank, lead director Lee John Paul transferred to Ocean Park Investments.

The Brawdy site is now owned by Compass Point Estates LLP. Here’s the title document and plan. And guess who we find as Compass Point Estates directors? – Lee John Paul and Ocean Park Investments. Also, Putney Investments of Queensland, Australia, operating out of the Isle of Man.

‘Now you see us, now you don’t – but we’re still here under different names!’

And that’s what we see at Llanbedr. Where we have Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, which you’ll remember received the loan from the ‘Welsh Government’ to, er, take out a lease with the ‘Welsh Government’; and since October 2019 we’ve also had Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP.

And who do we find as directors of the new company? Who else? – Lee John Paul, Ocean Park Investments, and Putney Investments.

Compass Point Estates has made two loans to Snowdonia Aerospace Estates. But why should that be necessary with the same people controlling both? (Because on October 1 Lee John Paul and Putney Investments took control of the two LLPs.)

My concerns are due to the fact that LLPs can be tricky beasts. “Partners in an LLP are not personally liable when the business cannot pay its debts; instead, their liability is limited to the capital they have invested into the LLP.”

So, if there’s no capital left in the LLP to which the loan was made then, when it folds, and everything is claimed by the new LLP, the clowns of Corruption Bay might struggle to get our money back.

Shall we see a repeat of Brawdy Business Park at Llanbedr, where the same people end up owning everything but under different labels?

Watch this space.

THE PHOENIX HOTEL, ABERSOCH

I’ve written about Abersoch more than once. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish it was still the sleepy Llŷn fishing village it once was, but it has been ‘discovered’.

By the ‘Cheshire Set’. Which includes those who’ve made a few bob in Liverpool or Manchester and want to flaunt it with a big house and a Range Rover in the drive in an upmarket Cheshire village. One of those communities where new developments are discouraged to the point of being almost forbidden.

Which in turn results in houses being built in north east Wales and along the A55 to accommodate those who can’t afford the entrance fee to the Cheshire Set.

In Abersoch itself we recently saw a former council property put on the market with an asking price of £385,000. Of course, no local will be able to buy it. A reminder of how tourism is destroying Welsh communities.

But we are going to focus on the site of the former White House Hotel.

This establishment closed in 2004 or 2005, inevitably fell into disrepair, and was eventually demolished in the early part of 2016.  In the report I’ve linked to we read, “A 40-bedroom hotel and spa will now be built in its place and is set to open in 2018”.

Image: NorthWalesLive. Click to enlarge. Click on X at top right to return to blog.

The owner was named as Broomco, of Surrey. At 31 December, 2019 the unaudited Broomco accounts show that money owed by debtors was exceeded by money owed to creditors to the tune of some £250,000.

Broomco’s major asset would appear to be ‘freehold property’ valued at £1,236,224. Which is presumably the site of the former White House Hotel.

The promised hotel and spa did not materialise, but now other exciting plans have emerged for the site. Well, obviously, I’m not excited, but some people seem to be getting worked up over the proposal. Here’s a report from the Daily Post website.

There’s a lot of information in the report; yet despite that, or maybe because of it, it still raises many questions. Or maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, some dude called Charlie Openshaw has rocked up, and we read: “Mr Openshaw says his firms are both contractors and developers. He says the developer is Providence Gate and the contractor is CL Projects.”

What can we learn of these companies?

Let’s start with Providence Gate. There are five companies of that name, all formed between August and November this year. All with the same three directors; Charles Marshall Openshaw, Anthony John Hayton, and William James Abram. Being so new there’s obviously little information available, though Providence Gate Developments Ltd has already taken out loans with Crowd Property Ltd.

The majority shareholder in Crowd Property is investment guru Simon Zutshi.

Turning to the other company mentioned by Charlie Openshaw, C L Projects Facilities Management Ltd, we see that this company has a long and glorious history, stretching back to its formation in July 2017, when it was known as C L Chorley Ltd.

The name changed in April this year when the three musketeers climbed aboard. Until then it was filing as a dormant company. Openshaw, Hayton and Abram are joined around the mahogany boardroom table by Robert Wood, also recruited in April.

So, to all intents and purposes, C L Projects Facilities Management Ltd is another company formed in 2020.

Which seems straightforward enough – a group of property investors spot an opening and come up with an imaginative plan. But it’s not that simple. Is it ever?

To begin with, and according to the Land Registry, the site is still owned by Broomco. So either Charlie Openshaw and his mates are working with Broomco, or else they are yet to buy the site from that company. Here’s the title document and plan.

We’ve seen that the company named as the developer is Providence Gate Developments. But this, and the other companies sharing the name, Providence Gate Titon Ltd, Providence Gate Stalmine Ltd, and Providence Gate Bretherton Ltd are all owned by Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd.

So who owns Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd, formed just last month? At the risk of confusing you . . .

The shareholders in Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd are shown in the panel below, information that comes from the Confirmation Statement made to Companies House on 30 November. Just days before the big publicity splash.

Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd shareholders. Click to enlarge. Click X in top right to return to blog

Clearly, Openshaw and Hayton have other companies, in their own names. While Marbauk Ltd is William Abram’s new company. So it’s the three amigos again.

Just to keep you filled in – or confuse you further – Abram has another new company in WA Construction Consultancy Ltd.

Openshaw Group Holdings Ltd began life April 9 as Lockside Investments Ltd, with Openshaw’s partner Anthony John Hayton as director. Openshaw took over April 14. Hayton obviously relinquished control to set up Hayton Group Holdings Ltd April 15.

Which leaves the final name we see in the panel above, Bahadvr Group Holdings Ltd. This is the company of Ismael Bahadur, formed in August 2018, and it files as a dormant company.

There are a few other ‘Bahadvr’ companies, all recent, a few dissolved.

These new creations of the three principals own all the shares in CLProjectsUK Limited. Which began life in August 2016 as Clifford Lewis Aluminium Limited. The name changed April 28, 2018.

This company is in the business of metal doors and windows.

Let’s recap. We have a host of new companies set up by or taken over by Openshaw, Hayton and Abram. But little or nothing further back than 2016. So what were our bonny boys doing before then?

Charles Marshall Openshaw had companies called Rooftop Solutions Ltd and Rooftop Solutions and Consultancy Services Ltd. Both of which came to a sticky end.

The winding up process for Rooftop Solutions began in Bolton County Court in July 2012. There were three outstanding charges at the death. The decision to wind up Rooftop Solutions and Consultancy Services Ltd was taken in August 2009, when the company owed £485,922.00.

Click to enlarge. Click on X in top right to return to blog.

Other companies Openshaw was involved with around that time, which also went belly-up owing lots of money, were RBC (Manchester) Ltd and Rooftop Group Ltd.

None of these companies seemed to last more than two or three years. And there seems to be a gap of five or six years between these earlier companies and the recent rash of new companies.

A co-director with Charlie Openshaw in these earlier companies was Neil James Collier. Who blamed his bad luck in business for going on the rampage at a Chester hotel a couple of years ago.

To sum up, the ‘saviours’ of the White House Hotel – or at least the site – seem to come from a background of replacement doors and windows, or roofing. More recently, they appear to have aligned with people from a finance background. But do they have what it takes to complete a prestige project in Wilmslow-sur-Mer?

Charles Marshal Openshaw makes it sound so simple – his companies are going to build an ‘international landmark’ hotel on the site of the White House Hotel.

But, for a start, he doesn’t even own the site. And once we start looking into his companies we find other companies behind them . . . and other companies behind the companies behind them . . . and companies behind the companies behind the companies behind . . .

If I was Cyngor Gwynedd, I’d sit Charles Marshall Openshaw down in a comfy chair, give him tea and biccies, pat his knee and say, ‘Now, Charlie, tell us who’s really behind this project’.

And I wouldn’t give planning permission until I had satisfactory answers.

‘CASTLE’ GWYNFRYN

Regular readers will be familiar with that name. It refers to an old gentry mansion near Llanystumdwy, which served a number of purposes after its glory days until, as a hotel, it catched afire in 1982.

This update is in three parts. First, Philip Andrew Bush seems to have been a naughty boy, travelling up to Gwynfryn from Kent during lockdown. Second, the planning application for 25 residential units in what’s left of the mansion has now been submitted. Third, the young developers we met earlier have started a raft of new companies.

Gwynfryn. Click to enlarge and click X in top right to return to blog

Maybe I should explain that until fairly recently Bush owned both the house and the land around, but he sold the ruin to his pal Aaron Hill, who’s also an associate of the Bryn Llys gang, a crew we’ll meet in the next section.

Bush is now pestering neighbours over a non-existent right of way, and making a nuisance of himself. It’s rumoured he wants to make some money by building something in the Bryn Llys grounds.

Access will be a big issue for any project of Hill’s, and for the residential units. Which explains his desire to knock down walls and find another route onto his land. He’s getting desperate, for the clock is ticking . . .

Let’s turn to the planning application. Which is dated 03/12/2020. A passer-by kindly sent me a photo of the public notice affixed to some railings.

Click to enlarge and click X in top right to return to blog.

Though what I find strange is that the planning application itself is dated 14/02/2020. with a ‘validation’ date of 20/11/2020. Read it for yourself.

There’s something very amateurish about this planning application. To begin with, it keeps referring to “the castle”. Has whoever compiled this document been reading too much Kafka, or has he never seen the building? Because it’s a 19th century house with a bit of crenellation for effect.

I’m sure the natives could get a bit stroppy back then but I’m equally sure the squire didn’t need a castle.

Then, in the Design and Access Statement, Section 6, the writer quotes English Heritage! Has it escaped him that Gwynfryn is in Wales?

Click to enlarge and click X in top right to return to blog

Something else that caught my eye was in the planning application document itself (21), where it seems to suggest that there are currently 5 full-time and 3 part-time employees at the Gwynfryn ruin.

Are they including the Bryn Llys gang, who have helped out? Or are they counting the bunny-wunnies?

Gwynfryn is another of those projects where there are many fingers in the pie. And among these digits are those belonging to James Armstrong and Anthony Wilmott.

As I wrote back in October,  ” . . . the developers’ in this instance are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong. The latter has a company called Acquérir Ltd; Wilmott has a few companies of his own; but they get together in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd.”

Since I wrote that, Wilmott and Armstrong have launched three more companies. These are: Armstrong Wilmott Developments Ltd, Armstrong Wilmott Holdings Ltd, and Armstrong Wilmott Construction Ltd. All three formed 22 October.

Now doubt it’s only a matter of time before we’re in another maze of companies at Gwynfryn in which council planners will get lost . . . if they even venture in.

BRYN LLYS AKA ‘SNOWDON SUMMIT VIEW’

We left off with the Bryn Llys saga when capo di tutti capi Jon Duggan appeared before the bench in Caernarfon. His dogs had got out – again – and attacked a neighbour’s chickens.

Despite being victimised – the poor man always is – he had to cough up £1,002.00.

As it was given to me: “He complained that he was before the same magistrates who heard the Shane Baker excavator driving, criminal damage case (Baker is one of Duggan’s ‘soldiers’) but was told that this was an entirely separate case. Mr. Duggan likes to imply that he will not get a fair hearing and is picked upon by police, council officials and others. He also accused the neighbours of filming his children, another one of his tactics is making unfounded, malicious allegations about anyone who does not give in to him.”

But he could be facing another court appearance in the near future.

You’ll recall that Duggan and a few associates were in court in August for breaching an enforcement notice. (The poor man being victimised again!)

Here we see Duggan, on the day of the court appearance, with his wife at his side, his half-brother Scott Smith facing him, while the fourth man is Andrew Battye, who we are asked to believe owns Bryn Llys aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’.

Nobody does believe it, and certainly not Battye.

Click to enlarge, click on X at the top right to return to blog

In one of the more bizarre deals I have covered on this blog, Duggan bought land from Aaron Hill (who got a mention just now at Gwynfryn). But because Duggan is supposedly without assets, Hill loaned him the money to buy the land!

Here’s the title document.

After buying the land Duggan laid an unauthorised road, and he was instructed to remove it and undertake remedial work. The deadline for compliance was 20 November. Of course, Duggan has not complied.

Gwynedd planners have been informed of Duggan’s non-compliance. Now it’s up to them to do their job. No more, no less.

♦ end ♦




Miscellany 26.11.2020

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

This is the roundup I promised last week before the Knighton piece just grow’d like Topsy and took over.

Here you’ll find updates on old favourites plus some new faces. Combined they’ll provide a sobering read and a reminder of what a mess Wales is in, due partly to useless, lying politicians down Corruption Bay.

PLAS GLYNLLIFON

This fine old mansion that I’ve written about so many times in recent years in the Weep for Wales series has been sold. Also, the Seiont Manor.

At one time both were owned by Paul and Rowena Williams, but they ran into problems and soon had ‘partners’ in their hour of need. In the form of Myles Cunliffe and his oppo, the ‘King of Marbella’, Jon Disley, always looking for companies in trouble.

And now they’re all gone.

Lest we forget, Paul and Rowena Williams. Click to enlarge

I look forward to learning the identity of the new owners, but I’m fairly sure that he / she / they will fall into one of the following categories. We can but hope that it’s the third.

  • More crooks looking to use the Plas for nefarious purposes.
  • Dreamers, with wonderful ideas but neither the ability nor the money to carry them out.
  • Somebody, or some company, with both the right ideas and the money to realise them.

TRANSPORT FOR WALES GOES OFF THE RAILS

You’ll remember that the Wales and Borders rail franchise was run for some years by Arriva Trains. There were many critics. So when the franchise came up for renewal a couple of years ago it was awarded to French-Spanish partnership KeolisAmey.

That didn’t work out either, with KeolisAmey being fined £3.2m in January for its poor service, with Covid adding more misery through falling passenger numbers. Now the rail service is being nationalised by the ‘Welsh Government’.

Despite my right of centre views on economic and other matters, I believe that essential services should be run by the state as national assets. With one condition, and that is that these services should be run by people who know what they’re doing.

That will not happen in Wales. The statist majority in Corruption Bay has taken over the railways not to provide a better service but because they’re control freaks. Don’t be surprised if the signalling system is handed over to a third sector body approved by lobbyists Deryn.

Unbeknownst to most of those who drive under Machynlleth’s railway bridge, there is a depot nearby where the trains from the Cambrian Coast and the Aberystwyth-Shrewsbury lines are brought overnight for cleaning, maintenance, and repair.

It’s a major employer in the town. (But perhaps not for much longer, thanks to Transport for Wales. An issue I might return to in a later post.)

Two men have been hanging around Mach’ railway station for a few weeks. For a while, no one knew who they were, or what they were doing. I think I now have the story.

As part of the Covid-19 arrangements extra portakabins were brought in for the staff. Hired from a company called W H Welfare, part of the Kelling Group of Normanton, in West Yorkshire, a few miles south east of Leeds.

The two mystery men are security guards who came with the portakabins. The problem being that the portakabins are inside the compound, behind the security gate, and the portakabin guards do have not have clearance to enter the compound. So they’re stuck outside, and to look useful, or just to while away the time, they seem to turn up to meet the trains.

But Machynlleth ain’t Grand Central Station. So that doesn’t give them much to do.

Now these two security men must be staying locally, which means that their wages and accommodation will be included in the portakabin hire charge.

The incompetence doesn’t end there. The portakabins run on a generator – a petrol generator. There is no petrol on site except in the workers’ cars. Everything else is diesel.

Am I making this up? No. Am I drunk? How dare you!

So, we have two men at a small Welsh railway station, doing sod all, but costing a lot of money. Because of course it’s all being paid for by Transport for Wales. Which means the ‘Welsh Government’. Which means you and me.

Portakabins1
Potakabins3
Portakabins2
PlayPause
Shadow

It’s reasonable to assume that Machynlleth isn’t the only station or depot for which these portakabins were hired. Plus of course the security men. So how much money is being squandered in this way?

And come to that, is there nowhere in Wales where portakabins could have been sourced? And sourced cheaper? I’m sure there is. Which means that in addition to the incompetence we have the issue of a ‘Welsh Government’ agency sending money out of Wales.

It looks as if someone in Transport for Wales has made a massive cock-up. Or is someone getting a backhander from a firm in West Yorkshire?

MARGAM MOUNTAIN

Last month I brought you the tale of yet another foreign-owned windfarm being dumped on Wales with the enthusiastic support of the planet-savers in the ‘Welsh Government’ and Plaid Cymru.

You’ll find it here, just scroll down to the section, “Another ‘Community-owned, local benefits’ wind farm. Not”.

Image: Beryl Richards. Mynydd Margam. Click to enlarge

As I wrote in that earlier piece, “this particular project is a joint English-Irish venture. From Ireland we have state-owned ESB, while from England (possibly Scotland) we have Coriolis Energy Ltd.”

As you can see from the link, the website is very basic, perhaps explained by the fact that Companies House tells us Coriolis Energy is almost £100,000 in debt.

It’s difficult to figure out why ESB needs Coriolis. Maybe it’s to fulfil a similar role to that of Invis Energy of County Cork, which has been working on Meenbog wind farm, on the Donegal-Tyrone border.

Where there was recently a massive slippage of peat into the Mourne Beg river, part of the Foyle system. Just watch the trees go sailing by in the video!

 

The lesson here is that erecting bloody big wind turbines, each one sunk into thousands of tons of concrete, will have consequences when such idiocy is encouraged in sensitive environments.

Such as Irish peat bogs, and Welsh hillsides from which thousands upon thousands of rain-absorbing trees have been cut, and from which acres of equally absorbent peat has been removed.

Another worry for those living close to the proposed development on Mynydd Margam is that the planned turbines will be 750 tall. As any child playing with blocks will tell you, the higher you try to build it, the more difficult it gets to keep it standing.

Which is why I was not surprised to learn from a regular correspondent in northern Sweden – who took time off from herding his reindeer – that a 755 foot turbine in his neck of the woods had recently come crashing down. Here’s a report from ABC News.

I believe a re-think is needed. Not just on this development on Margam Mountain but on all onshore wind developments in Wales. Because . . .

  • No permanent jobs have resulted from the dozens of wind farms desecrating our countryside. 
  • No manufacturing has been encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’ so that we can build the turbines here – they’ve all been imported.
  • First by smoky ships, and then by huge, diesel-powered trucks and trailers, before trees are felled and peat removed to accommodate them in concrete bases the size of football pitches. Making a nonsense of wind turbines’ claimed green credentials.
  • In fact, before a blade turns, each wind turbine will have caused more damage to the environment than it can make up for in its short and fitful life.
  • No Welsh companies have emerged to run or own wind turbines other than tiny, ‘hippy’ enterprises reliant on public largesse.
  • No skills base has been developed that Wales could benefit from and export.
  • And it’s increasingly likely that wind turbines contribute to flooding.

The ‘progressive’ parties have allowed – even encouraged – Wales to be exploited and cheated in this way just so that they could look virtuous to a certain lobby.

When it comes to serving England’s interests, things in Wales are not a lot different in the 21st century to earlier times. Just disguised by the gloss of devolution, and bullshit about ‘Wales saving the planet’.

But it’s the same old exploitation.

BRYN LLYS

Where would a roundup like this be without a trip to Bryn Llys or, more specifically, Caernarfon magistrates court.

The latest of the Duggan gang to appear has been Jon Duggan himself, on November 16. His large dogs got out – again! – and attacked neighbours’ poultry. But of course, in the parallel universe inhabited by these clowns, it was probably the chickens’ fault.

I’m afraid I can’t link to any press report because I can’t find one. But Duggan was fined £300. Then there was compensation of £30, victim surcharge of £32, and CPS costs of £640. Making a grand total of £1,002.00.

Bryn Llys, aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’. Click to enlarge

I know those are the facts because my source is reliable, and I have even been supplied with a case number.

In related news, Bryn Llys Ltd is threatened with strike-off by Companies House. Though I suppose this company might have already served its purpose.

By which I mean the Duggan gang’s MO is to start a company, open bank accounts, sign up for credit accounts with assorted suppliers and then order goods and equipment, sell it all on, then let the company be struck off, or liquidate it, without paying for anything.

Finally, the deadline for Duggan to comply with the Enforcement Order and remove the unauthorised roadway he has laid on his recently acquired land was Friday, November 20. He has of course made no effort to comply. Cyngor Gwynedd has been informed.

This episode was covered in September, in ‘Bryn Llys, the Liverpool connection‘. That Liverpool connection was solicitor Kathryn Elizabeth Parry. She’d had her own company, Parry and Co Solicitors Limited, since liquidated; and now she’s a partner in a company formed in October last year, Victor Welsh Legal Limited.

A dicky-bird tells me that when Duggan appeared before the bench to answer for the Great Chicken Massacre he was accompanied by a female solicitor from Liverpool.

Fancy that!

COMPANIES HOUSE

Over the years I’ve complained about Companies House being toothless, nothing more than a filing system, or a box-ticking exercise. Here’s a recent example that came to my attention in a roundabout sort of way.

Someone got in touch because they were angry at certain new properties in Llanarthne, a village just off the A40, roughly midway between Llandeilo and Carmarthen. These were four- and five-bed ‘executive homes’ in the Mulberry Grove development.

The development’s name, and the prices being asked, suggested that the developer was not anticipating many local buyers.

Click to enlarge

The company behind it was GS6, formed as recently as May 2018. The project had been funded, in part at least, by Emma Ruth Developments Limited. And it’s when I looked at this company that I got a bit of a shock.

The last accounts filed were for year ending 30 October 2016! And these showed a net book value of just £949.00.

Companies House made the gesture of compulsory strike-off towards the end of 2018, but it was discontinued after an objection. But in 2019 – nothing! And nothing in 2020 until I contacted them. The company is now scheduled for strike-off to begin December 1st.

The response I got a few days ago reads:

“I can advise that the company has already been reminded accordingly to deliver the outstanding accounts in accordance with the Companies Act 2006.

Our records show that accounts for the period ending 30/10/2017, 30/10/2018 and 30/10/2019 and also the confirmation statement for the period ending 14/06/2020 remain overdue and we are currently taking action to remove the company from the register. 

In order to proceed with this course of action it is necessary to issue statutory letters to the company leading to a publication in the London Gazette.

Any objections against the proposed dissolution will be considered once the notice of our intention has been published in the London Gazette. All creditors and interested parties should be aware that objection must be in writing and need to be provided with supporting evidence.

Also, if you believe that the company or any of its employees have acted fraudulently then this matter should be reported to Investigation and Enforcement Services. The Company Investigations team within the Insolvency Service has the power to investigate limited companies where information received suggests corporate abuse; this may include serious misconduct, fraud, scams or sharp practice in the way a company operates. They have investigatory powers to look into the affairs of a company where this is evidence of fraud or misfeasance and can be contacted at
Intelligence.live@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk”

I’m not sure if Emma Ruth Developments has acted fraudulently but I’d like to know how a company that shouldn’t even be in existence is allowed to lend money to another company.

I might also ask why Companies House has done sod all for so long . . . but I’d be wasting my time.

KNIGHTON HOTEL

Last week we were in Knighton, reading about a bunch of selfless people on a civilising mission. En passant I mentioned the Knighton Hotel, where once Paul Williams was cock o’ the walk . . . or something.

A source informs me that the old pile has been sold. And the new owner is Na’Ím Anís Paymán. A 26-year-old German citizen of German and Iranian Baha’i origins who grew up in Albania and studied at Cambridge. More in this brief autobiography.

The two-part Knighton Hotel. Click to enlarge

In fact, he seems to be quite the self-publicist, with a number of videos online. But he still comes across as a likeable young man.

Paymán has formed a number of companies since 2015 and I have no reason to suspect that he’s anything other than a genuine young entrepreneur looking to make himself rich. An ambition that causes me no sleepless nights.

In the hope that it riles lefties, I’ll say it again: a genuine young entrepreneur looking to make himself rich.

If he does that by providing work for local people, if he uses local companies, tradesmen and suppliers, then all well and good.

If he takes a wrong path, then I’m sure I’ll be writing about him again.

RSL FUNDING

I recently gave you the figures for amounts of Social Housing Grant (SHG) received by our Registered Social Landlords, otherwise known as housing associations. Here’s a link to the table I put together. (Scroll left?)

In the ten years 2010-2011 to 2019-2020 the headline figure for SHG was £966,608,902. Obviously, some RSLs got more than others, and none got more than Labour’s favourite RSL, where the CEO is the wife of a Cardiff Labour councillor.

For Wales & West Housing was handed the princely sum of £99,483,507.

I have since received the figures for RSL funding in addition to SHG, for the period 01.01.2010 to 31.10.2020. The funding covered is: Housing Finance Grant, Affordable Housing Grant, Rent to Own, Physical Adaptation Grant, Innovative Housing Programme (grant and loan), Land for Housing Scheme (loan) and Registered Social Landlord Loans.

Eleven local authorities received a total of £19,969,000. While our RSLs were given £370,738,000. Once again, the big winner was Wales & West, with £39,341,000.

Combining the funding from various pots gives us £1,337,346,982. That is £1.34bn.

Of which Wales & West has received £138,824,507. Just over 10% of all the funding given to some 30 or more active RSLs.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR MILFORD HAVEN?

The Milford Haven Waterway is one of the finest deep-water anchorages on Earth, and has been recognised as such for centuries. In recent times it has attracted oil and gas companies because their huge tankers can be easily accommodated.

The area also attracts its share of con men. Who can forget Admiral Wing Commander of the SAS Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen VC, Croix de Guerre, Iron Cross (1st Class), Purple Heart and the Order of Lenin, who planned to turn Fort Hubberstone in Milford Haven into a home for ex-service personnel.

The Last Post was blown for Camp Valour CIC a year ago. Read about it here.

Hot on the heels of the Camp Valour project at Fort Hubberstone came a group of ‘investors’ looking to buy a different fort, The Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock. I wrote about that in Old Defensible Barracks, and the imaginatively titled sequel, Old Defensible Barracks 2.

Old Defensible Barracks. Click to enlarge

Those involved had not yet bought the Barracks when I first wrote about them, or certainly, the Land Registry had not been informed of a change of ownership. This has now been registered and we can see from the title document that the owners are Walker Property Developments Limited.

This company was launched 14.08.2018 as Muniment Yorkshire Ltd. It became Walker Property Developments 06.07.2019, before changing its name again 02.10.2019 to VR 1844 Limited.

I assume that VR stands for Victoria Regina and 1844 tells us that the Old Defensible Barracks was built in that year.

Despite the developers saying they planned to turn the old place into apartments (see the article below, and here in pdf format), I suspected that the real attraction was the closeness to the estuary, connecting with Brexit and the need for space to park lorries. Because there is an extensive piece of land between the Barracks and the water, clearly visible in the image above.

Click to enlarge

And of course, the Pembroke-Rosslare ferry is almost next door.

This suspicion was strengthened by the Singapore connection found with the directors of Walker Property Developments – including the eponymous Walker, who lives there – and Singaporean connections with another coastal site, in the Six Counties, and again, very close to ferry ports.

Lorry parks may still be the objective, but as I mentioned towards the end of the second article, there is also the possibilty of Milford Haven, or the whole Waterway, becoming a freeport. Which, again, could account for the interest from Singapore, which is perhaps the biggest freeport in the world.

Others have also been buying sections of the Waterway shoreline. With interest coming from equally exotic locations: Cyprus, Jordan . . . Carmarthenshire.

Let’s start in September 2015, with WalesOnline gilding a press release – no questions, no critical analysis. To believe the report, a company nobody’d heard of was going to bring 560 jobs to Milford Haven over the next five years through, “£685 million in a Centre of Renewable Energy Excellence”.

The company named in the fable was, “Cypriot-owned energy company” Egnedol Ltd. We were told it had bought the former Gulf refinery at Waterston and the neighbouring RNAD mine depot at Blackbridge.

The biomass facility planned for Blackbridge was turned down in June 2018.

Click to enlarge

There are a number of Egnedol companies, with the Blackbridge site owned by Egnedol Pembroke Eco Power Ltd, according to the Land Registry title document.

The old refinery site nearby appears to be owned by Egnedol Bio-Energy Limited. Certainly, that’s what the Land Registry document suggests.

I hedge my bets because there are caveats attaching to the ownership of both sites.

The Blackbridge site has received loans from Suleiman Al Daoud, of Amman, Jordan. Who in September became a director of Egnedol Wales Limited. So he could be said to now own the site. By the same token, he could also be said to own the oil refinery site.

UPDATE: I got to wondering about Suleiman Al Daoud. The Al Daoud Group is an established company that seems to concentrate on residential properties and retail complexes in Jordan.

I can’t find any evidence of the Group operating outside of Jordan. So what attracted Suleiman Al Daoud to Milford Haven?

Then there is yet another company, Egnedol UK Limited, which uses a Milford Haven address but with directors Dr Robert Prigmore and Steven Whitehouse living in the Ammanford area.

Prigmore and Whitehouse appear in the other Egnedol companies, together with Antonis Andrea Antoniadis, who maintains the Cyprus connection.

The RNAD site is marked with the red spot and the oil refinery site is to the right of it. Click to enlarge

And if Cyprus and Jordan weren’t enough overseas involvement, Prigmore and Whitehouse have yet another company, Azolis UK Ltd, formed as recently as September this year, where we find two French directors.

Explained by the fact that this latest company is an offshoot or subsidiary of French renewables company Azolis, which has offices in Fontainebleau and Casablanca.

So, all this overseas interest in Milford Haven Waterway, what does it mean? What does the future hold? The possibilities appear to be:

  • Brexit-related, possibly lorry parks.
  • Hoping to cash in on the Swansea Bay City Deal.
  • Anticipating a freeport and getting in ahead of the rush.
  • A home for nuclear subs when Scotland goes independent.

One thing I guarantee. Whatever happens, it’ll be strangers reaping the benefits, as always. That’s the way Wales is run, and devolution has brought no improvement.

In fairness, the ‘Welsh Government’ may have no influence over what’s happening on the Milford Haven Waterway. It could all be planned at a higher level and those clowns might be told at a later date.

Then again, why bother!

♦ end ♦

 




Miscellany 03.11.2020

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

This week’s piece takes us all over the place to meet interesting characters. Most you’ll be familiar with, but there are some new faces.

JAKE BERRY MP

We start with someone you all know, Ynys Môn landowner and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry.

I’ve written about Berry a number of times. It started when it was reported that, in May, during the first lockdown, he had broken the rules and gone to ground at his holiday home in Rhoscolyn. Yet still travelled regularly to London and his constituency.

More recently, now mindful of the wind direction, and still bitter at being sacked from the cabinet, Berry led a rebellion of sorts by a group of Tory MPs from northern English constituencies.

This did not go down well in No 10 and he was almost certainly reprimanded. (If not debagged and radished.)

So, on Saturday, he appeared in the Times with a ‘good man hard done by’ piece in the hope of gaining sympathy and detracting attention from his perceived treachery. (Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall.)

I have little interest in the machinations of the Conservative and Unionist Party, but in his orgy of self-pity he pointed a finger at those who had criticised his earlier behaviour, and in doing so he made some wild accusations.

Click to enlarge

The issue was not that he was a ‘newcomer’; the issue was breaking lockdown restrictions and lying about it. Or getting local MP, Virginia Crosbie, to lie for him.

As for the alleged threats to “burn the house down”, who made these threats? Or maybe the question should be – Did anybody make such a threat?

I invite North Wales Police to clarify whether or not they warned Jake Berry that he was a target for arsonists.

But even if he believed he was a target, why would Berry take a pickaxe handle to bed? It would be useless in the event of a fire.

The story took life on Twitter. With what seemed to be mainly anti-abortion Anglo-Catholics jumping in to support Berry, slag off the NHS (for the treatment of Berry’s wife), and of course attack would-be arsonists.

Among them was ‘Petra’. The account looks like a bot, but it still pointed me out as one of the “Ultra-nationalists”. Done in two tweets; or rather, the second seems to be the first re-written.

UPDATE: ‘Petra’ has left the building.

Click to enlarge

What is going on?

Anyway, on Saturday afternoon Gwlad put out a statement making it clear that neither that party nor I had made any threat against Jake Berry.

If Jake Berry believes his business dealings should remain private, if he thinks Welsh people should be ignorant of his growing property portfolio, if he believes rules are for little people, if he can’t take criticism, then he shouldn’t be an MP.

Saturday afternoon was a bit hectic, what with me trying to take in what Berry was suggesting while also watching the rugby (we lost), keeping up with the Swans score (won 2 – 0), and doing a few other things.

And then, by a strange coincidence, and to complicate matters further, I received unrelated information from a source in Berry’s constituency. To explain . . .

In a previous post I wrote about secret funders to the Conservative Party, The Portcullis Club and The United and Cecil Club. These are unincorporated associations, a legal loophole that allows funding to reach the party without anyone knowing the origin of that money.

The money usually goes to the constituency association, but not always. Sometimes it takes devious routes, such as we read about in this story. (‘Aide to Grant Shapps’! God Almighty! Imagine having to put that on your CV.)

Click to enlarge

I’ve dealt with similar deceits in my earlier pieces on Berry.

The report says that the £12,000 involved came via Rossendale and Darwen Portcullis Club. Yet the address given for this ‘donor’ is 6 Manitoba Court, London SE16 7AY, the address of Berry’s parliamentary researcher. Scroll down and click on the number in the left hand column.

Other underhand donations came from The Portcullis Club that year but without the name of the constituency. Though using the same London address.

But then, in 2017, The Portcullis Club seems to have found a local base at Whins House, near Clitheroe. The first mention I can find of Whins House in that connection is here (click on left hand column again). Though strangely, it’s just The Portcullis Club, with no mention of Rossendale and Darwen.

So, what do we know about Whins House?

Well, it’s not just The Portcullis Club that can be found there, for it was the original address for Palatine Hill Ltd. The officers / directors of which are Maria Bernadette Duckworth, Ford Bridge Farm Ltd, Duckworth Estate Company Ltd, with Paul Worrall Fitton as secretary.

So who are they?

Maria Bernadette Duckworth lives – or formerly lived – at Whins House, along with hubby Andrew John Duckworth. Ford Bridge Farm Ltd – aka Rhyd y Bont – is the company of Mr and Jake Mrs Berry, with their solicitor Fitton again serving as secretary. Duckworth Estate Company Ltd is, predictably, the Duckworths’ company.

I use the caveat in relation to the occupants of Whins House because it was for sale earlier this year. Probably linked with what I interpret to be the bankruptcy of Andrew John Duckworth, as suggested in B4 of the Land Registry title document. My source directed me to this report by way of explanation.

The linked companies with stakes in each other make it clear the Duckworths and the Berrys are close. With the Duckworths being quite happy to use their home address for the channelling to Jake Berry of funding from God knows where.

I’m sure their local MP will therefore find some way to return the favour in his friends’ hour of need. Perhaps he’ll add Whins House to his property portfolio.

FUNDING ENVIROBOLLOCKS

This section takes us back a bit, to the days before Natural Resources Wales, when our woodlands were the responsibility of Forestry Commission Wales. It also takes us back to the time before OPDs were legalised with TAN 6, published in July 2010.

And it brings Objective One funding into the mix, reminding us how most of that EU funding was squandered.

The story seems to start in 1996, when Calon yn Tyfu was formed . . . as a ‘workers co-operative’ at Henparcau farm, near Boncath in north Pembrokeshire. Certainly, the company was Incorporated in March of that year.

The website tells us: “Having run an organic fruit vegetable holding at Henparcau for over 15 years, we decided to give the lands and ourselves a rest in 2010 after a frozen winter where we lost our winter crops we refocused towards the woodland work.”

This change of course was possible thanks to the acquisition of Ffynone and Cilgwyn woodland, part of the old Ffynone estate. Over 300 acres then in the stewardship of Forestry Commission Wales, which was distributing some of the Objective One bonanza under a scheme called Cydcoed.

Click to enlarge

In this report Nick Powell of ITV Wales quotes someone describing Cydcoed as, ‘one of the most successful Objective One programmes that ran in Wales … it used woodlands to provide new jobs and opportunities, promote healthy recreation, education and conservation’. It boasts that ‘more than 160 community groups across some of the poorest areas of Wales benefited’.

The subsequent criticism hinged on that term, ‘community group’. For Calon yn Tyfu may have called itself a workers co-operative but it was in fact a private company run by a husband and wife and a third person.

These being Robert David McDowell – who seems to have signed all the company documents I’ve found – Kate Maria Moore, and Andrew Peter Lowe, ‘Laird of Camster’. (In much the same way as I am Tsar of All the Russias.)

Calon yn Tyfu obtained the woodland in 2007 . . . with an Objective One (Cydcoed) grant of £502,000 from Forestry Commission Wales! Just think about that – FCW gave public money to a gang of good-lifers so they could buy public property.

We know that Objective One funding was wasted in Wales thanks to the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru being ideologically opposed to enterprise and business, but there can be few examples of such blatant and indefensible waste.

In total, £18m was dished out under the FCW Cydcoed scheme. And what do we have to show for it?

Manordeifi community council was so unimpressed by the deal that it petitioned the Welsh Assembly which referred the matter to the Auditor General for Wales.

She concluded that no rules had been broken. Which might suggest it was no surprise that schemes for distributing Objective One cash wasted money.

The Auditor General also noted that, “Calon yn Tyfu have made a commitment to dedicate the site under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, which should allow public access to the woodland in perpetuity.”

I’ve searched the Calon Tyfu website but I can’t find any reference to such a commitment. Has it been made?

If not, then in 2027, the company will be able to sell off at a very handsome price what it was given for nothing. That said, ownership in all but name now seems to be exercised by Dutch bank Triodos N V.

Triodos first appeared on the scene in May 2013 with a loan enabling Calon yn Tyfu Cyf to buy Pontnewydd cottage and land nearby for £150,000. Here’s the title document.

In April 2015 Calon yn Tyfu went back to Triodos. This time taking out a loan against the Ffynone woodland. The title document tells us that in 2007 Calon yn Tyfu paid £460,000 for this forest (out of the £502,000 grant from Forestry Commission Wales).

I believe that the money borrowed from Triodos was used, later that year, to purchase Hen Parcau – where Calon yn Tyfu had always been based – for £225,000. That’s what the title document suggests. And although the loan was taken out in the name of the company the house is registered in the name of Robert David McDowell.

The third engagement with Triodos begins on 21 April, 2015, the same day as the second, but leads to a hearing at the County Court in Swansea in October, and what is described as a ‘Charles Court order’. (No doubt, someone will explain.)

This would appear to give Triodos a claim against the whole Calon yn Tyfu operation.

Now were that to happen, then McDowell would still have enjoyed the income from almost 20 years of forestry operations. And of course he would also have the dwelling, Hen Parcau, and the land around it. And it won’t have cost him a penny!

For their part, Dutch bank Triodos will be happy because they’ll own over 300 acres of Wales.

So, everybody’s a winner! Not quite, because of course we Welsh have lost out again. Not only have we lost a bit more of our homeland, but those useless bastards down in Corruption Bay paid somebody to take it over!

I’ve referred to Calon yn Tyfu as envirobollocks, and so it is. A pretentious precursor to the One Planet nonsense. How else are we to read:

“We are interested in working towards a sustainable future, survival cooperation is the concept of exploring what might be required to survive in a post-industrial world and exploring the process of cooperation that we  can start with now that will lead us towards a  sustainable path.”

“Post-industrial world”, be buggered! There are hundreds of thousands of Welsh families living in a post-industrial world of managed decline created by the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru, parties that have fallen over themselves to favour shysters like those we see at Calon yn Tyfu.

Click to enlarge

Having mentioned OPDs I have to introduce ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson. And provide further proof that she is indeed the mother goddess of the OPD firmament, worshipped by those who toil below filling out grant application forms.

A good source tells me, “She (Davidson) does claim that she wrote OPD into TAN 6 expressly to help Lammas rather than interfere in their planning application directly as a then minister”.

What this means is that we suffer OPDs for no better reason than Jane Davidson wanted to help the eco-colonists at Lammas.

When it was suggested that Planning Policy Wales – which TAN 6 supplements –  could be used to help farm succession, Davidson is said to have sneered, “I didn’t write that policy for farmers!”. (With the emphasis on farmers.)

‘Dr’ Davidson became an Assembly Member in 1999. It’s reasonable to assume that she was acquainted with the crew at Calon yn Tyfu. Did she have a hand in this incredible waste of money?

GWYNFRYN

Now we head north to Plas Gwynfryn / Gwynfryn Plas, just outside Lloyd George’s village of Llanystumdwy on Llŷn. I’ve written about it a number of times in recent months so you might want to search for what I’ve written and catch up.

The old mansion ended up as a hotel and is now just a ruin following a fire in 1982. Some suggest the fire was arson.

Y Plas. Click to enlarge

A curious development has been this advert for 17 acres of woodland on the right-hand side of the drive leading up to the Plas. That is, opposite the gate house.

Because if we refer to the Land Registry title document, and scroll down to the plan, we see something odd. The strip in yellow cuts right across the drive, and as A2 in the title document talks of “a good and substantial stockproof fence” it suggests that the drive is effectively blocked! There is certainly no mention of a gate.

Click to enlarge

Another curious feature is that no one in the area knows the owners of this 17 acres. They bought it less than a year ago and are selling it for less than they paid.

Though owner Keith Varley seems to be a genuine businessman with a number of companies to his name. Among them Glan Gors Training Ltd and Glan Gors Management Ltd. Digression alert!

Glan Gors rang a bell and so I checked, and yes, it is Glan Gors in Harlech; where my old mate, the late Barri Edwards, the busking harpist, used to live. Spent some time there. Got some good memories.

I remember calling one morning, planning to take Barri for a pint, but he was boycotting the local pubs (or possibly he was banned). So we sat there, him unshaven, in his underpants. By midday he was on his third can of Guinness. He looked at me and said, “I don’t understand why I can’t pull the women any more, Jac”.

I was lost for words. I just sat there and nodded. God bless you, Barri.

I have no idea why Varley and his partner bought the woodland in the first place or why they’re selling it. And as for the ‘stockproof’ fence across the driveway . . . your guess is as good as mine. I’m open to suggestions.

But it might have had a knock-on effect. Because reports tell that the owner of the land around the old pile, Philip Andrew Bush, of Kent, has been a busy boy of late. He has been harassing neighbours and threatening to knock down a wall that has been in place since 1948 so that he can open up what he claims is a right of way.

He made no answer when asked why he couldn’t use the driveway.

Philip Bush taking a photo of someone taking a photo of Philip Bush taking a photo of . . . Click to enlarge

The truth is of course that even if Bush had access via the driveway it would not be enough for the highways department to agree to the planned 30 residential units in the old Plas. Or perhaps that should read, on the site of the Plas, because it’s in a poor state of repair.

For planning permission to be given for 30 residential units when the only entrance / exit is so close to a junction is not going to happen. (Click here for image.) The council will insist on two entrances, or one entrance and one exit.

Another reason Bush insists on reclaiming his alleged right of way is to gain access to the old laundry, which he says he plans to renovate.

And the best of luck with that. First, because the old laundry has almost collapsed. Second, because it was purpose-built as a laundry, to serve the Plas, and has been used for no other purpose, which means a ‘change of use’ will probably be required.

Gwynfryn laundry. In estate agent jargon, ‘Ripe for renovation’. Click to enlarge

Regular readers will recall that Bush kept the Gwynfryn land after selling the old pile to his good buddy, Aaron Hill, who we’ve encountered before in connection with the crooks at Bryn Llys – who appear in the next section!

The word is that Hill has sold the chapel he was living in in Bontnewydd and his whereabouts are unknown. Though a dicky bird tells me that Hill and Bush have a project planned in Scotland, and that Hill might have already taken the high road.

I know I have readers in Scotland, so be on your guard for Aaron Hill and Philip Bush, two not-to-be-trusted Sassenachs.

I conclude this section with another curiosity. If you go to the Google map for Llanystumdwy, grab the little yellow man, and try to place him on the road that runs past the woodlands that are now for sale, and you’ll find that the road is somehow closed.

Click to enlarge

I’m assured by locals that this stretch of road has always been visually ‘accessible’ on Google maps before. How strange!

BRYN LLYS

Never a dull moment with the Bryn Llys gang.

Let’s start with another court appearance, this one by erstwhile rocker Shane Baker, aka ‘ShakingShane’ (or variants thereof) when he wants to comment on newspaper reports.

He was up before the bench in Caernarfon on Monday last week charged with criminal damage caused whilst driving a large excavator from Bryn Llys to the main road where a buyer was collecting it. He might just be a poor driver or, more likely, this was another crude attempt to widen the access to Bryn Llys.

Baker’s fines and costs came to £660.

His boss, professional fraudster Jonathan Duggan, was in attendance. As was a barrister! For people with no money these buggers seem able to afford everything.

Duggan’s attempts to persuade authorities he’s a farmer continue. A source writes:

“Mr. Duggan has brought more animals onto Bryn Llys, cows, pigs and goats – he is probably going to claim that he is a farmer to justify his road. His goats have already broken a fence and escaped onto neighbouring land as there is no grass left at Bryn Llys.

The neighbouring land owner complained to the police that he was intimidated by a group of people from Bryn Llys and its collection of sheds and caravans as he and a helper returned the animals to the Bryn Llys land and repaired the fence.

I understand that a large police officer visited Bryn Llys over the incident and was subjected to a torrent of swearing and abuse by Mr. Duggan who was told that everything was being recorded by the officer’s camera and it would appear on the police log dealing with the Community Protection Notice warning already served on Mr. Duggan.

Bryn Llys has already had a visit from the RSPCA after someone who came to buy a horse was so shocked about conditions that they contacted the RSPCA. The place is overstocked with animals, hardly a blade of grass and the animal sheds are full of human beings.

What looks like a bird hide with windows has been erected by the lake which was recently dug – I expect that Bryn Llys will be claiming to be promoting wildlife after destroying much of the habitat.”

This report reminds us that quite a settlement is developing at Bryn Llys in various sheds and caravans. All crooks from over the border. How long will this be allowed to continue?

Oh, yes . . . the ‘bird hide’ blew down in last weekend’s storm.

But never mind all that, would you like a holiday at Bryn Llys? Or rather, Snowdon Summit View. You – yes, you – can “win a 3 or 4 night stay in our luxury holiday home in North Wales”. Here’s the Facebook page on which you’ll find the details.

Click to enlarge

So if you want to spend a few days surrounded by criminals, kept awake at night by starving animals, enter the competition.

The blurb says, “set within 30 acres of woodland”. Actually, there is no woodland at all. In fact, there is hardly any grass – that’s why the animals break out onto neighbours’ land looking for something to eat.

Bryn Llys / Snowdon Summit View is a wasteland, a lunar landscape. The nearest trees are in a conifer plantation across the river on someone else’s property. Even the images used on the FB page make it clear there are no trees.

These bastards just can’t stop lying.

Though there is a funny side. Someone set up a phoney competition using the same details. Here’s the link.

This is appalling! Click to enlarge

I hope GogPlod has its finest detectives working on the case to protect the reputations of Jon Duggan, Shane Baker and the other shy and retiring souls at the Snowdon Summit View Meditation Centre.

A WANDERING SHYSTER I (after Gilbert & Sullivan)

I am indebted to a source in Powys for bringing to my attention a would-be impresario by the name of Darren Knipe. Darren has plans for the old library in Knighton.

For he organises things, events and the like. Every community should have a Darren. In fact, it seems that every community in Wales does have one, and at least one. They appear as if by magic when they sniff funding in the air.

As I say, Darren now has plans for Knighton’s old library. It’s all explained on the Facebook page. So let’s go through what it offers.

Darren plans, “an accredited training centre in Community Event Management”. To be funded by . . . The governments new scheme, kickstart . . . the lost generation of 16-25 yr olds . . . making over £3bn available to pay 6 months salary and training”.

Actually it’s £2bn across the UK, though the ‘Welsh Government’ is participating.

He continues . . . “We will be working with Welsh Council of Voluntary Associations (WCVA) as our gateway partner, and will use a mix of mortgages, loans, and Social Enterprise grants to purchase building and startup costs.”

No, Darren, it’s the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. Though this section does take us to the meat – loans, grants, etc.

This is clearly an opportunity that Knighton cannot miss, and Darren warns, “I can run this anywhere, and currently looking at Newtown and Welshpool as options, which will be Knighton’s loss.”

I don’t know how to break this to you, Darren, but I suspect you wouldn’t be missed if you carried out your threat.

Now the thing about Darren is that he has history in these imaginative schemes. Which means that when Darren talks grant-grabbing bollocks he does so with some authority.

Though his business career has not been a cloudless sky.

Last year there was the attempt at crowdfunding, which raised . . . sod all! The money was wanted to teach people how to party. No doubt he does a sideline teaching cats how to catch mice.

Click to enlarge

In his favour, Darren does get about, though success is never a travelling companion.

A tool I use is 192.com and when I checked for Darren Knipe I came up with 14 results, 8 of which I suspect are him. His stay in Pembrokeshire ended in bankruptcy in 2003 or 2004.

Click to enlarge

From there he seems to have moved up to Aberystwyth before operating for a while at Llandegla, just west of Wrecsam. I’m told another bankruptcy or insolvency resulted.

In Llandegla we find Datcloud Ltd, where his partner was a Duncan Charles Ion. The company was formed in August 2014, with Knipe making it to the lifeboat in August 2015 before the good ship Datcloud went down.

Another information technology launch that had them quaking in Silicon Valley was Hootso Ltd. It filed as a dormant company and was eventually put down earlier this year.

Then there’s Dark Olive CIC. (The CIC he refers to on Facebook?) Now, chwarae teg, the latest accounts show a gross profit of £33,985.82, but it was almost all swallowed up in salaries, expenses and other running costs.

The website seems a little ‘threadbare’, as if he had one gig in 2018 and that was it.

The latest venture in which he’s involved, set up in March, is Robins Retreat Ltd, which sees our hero team up with the eponymous Robin Wealleans of Llanybydder. They can rest easy in Silicon Valley and Hollywood because this latest venture is in the holiday business.

Though anyone who thinks there are mountains in Carmarthenshire really should stop taking whatever makes him imagine them. It’s as bad as Duggan’s woodland.

“Mountains of West Wales”! Click to enlarge

In addition to Robins Retreat Ltd there is also Robins Realm Ltd, but Knipe is not involved in this one. Though I would have expected to see him on board another of Wealleans’ new companies as it could be named for him – My Catastrophe Ltd.

Listen to me, Darren . . . stop fantasising about being Knighton’s (publicly-funded) Jean-Michel Jarre and just get a real bloody job.

CONCLUSION

Was any country that hadn’t been militarily invaded and taken over ever cursed with so many undesirable outsiders?

But they come, and they keep coming, because we have politicians that encourage some of these buggers and do nothing to stop the others. Worse, they even fund them!

♦ end ♦

 




Housing in Wales

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

The title tells you what this week’s article is about. I’m going to look at how the picture has changed in the past few years.

THE BIG PICTURE

Obviously, there are different types of housing, from mansions like Jac o’ the North Towers to more modest owner-occupied properties; then we have social rent properties, and properties rented from private landlords.

So let’s start by looking at how types of tenure have changed over the past two decades. (The year up to March 31, 2001 is the earliest I can find on the StatsWales website.)

The table I’ve drawn up is fairly self-explanatory. ‘Registered Social Landlord’ (RSL) is of course the official term for housing associations.

Click to enlarge

The headline figure is that there are 163,067 more dwellings or housing units in 2020 than there were in 2001. Though in the same period the population rose from 2,910,232 to 3,152,879, while the average household size fell from 2.36 to 2.26.

In fact, if we multiply the total number of housing units by the average household size we arrive at a figure of 3,248,901.42. Almost a hundred thousand more than the population estimate. But of course calculations are complicated by people living in care homes, prisons and other institutions. And then there are holiday homes. And properties that have just been abandoned, where it’s often difficult to track the owner.

So, all things considered – and without taking my socks off to do some really serious figuring! – we have roughly the same availability of housing in relation to demand as we had twenty years ago. Maybe things are worse.

Something else we can extract from the table is that in 2001 19% of Welsh properties were social rents, whereas the figure today is just 16%.

But perhaps the biggest change has been the doubling in the percentage of properties now rented from private landlords.

If current trends continue then very soon more people, more families, will rent from private landlords than from councils and housing associations combined. This of course is what the Conservatives want, but why is it happening in ‘progressive’ Wales?

SOCIAL HOUSING

In 2001 we had 242,853 units of social housing. By 2020 this had fallen to 229,902, a decrease of 12,951. Found in this table.

Partly explained by 34,829 units being sold in this period under the Right to Buy legislation introduced in 1980 by the first Thatcher government, with this later supplemented by Right to Acquire.

Though offset by the building of 21,878 social rented housing units in the same period. Just over 1,000 a year.

Right to Acquire is Englandandwales legislation introduced by the Blair government and in operation from 18 January, 2005. Explained more fully here.

Click to enlarge

At this point I should tell you that not all sales of social housing are accounted for by Right to Buy and Right to Acquire because this table tells us there have also been sales of “non-social housing”. Though I don’t understand why the figure for this category is only shown from 2013 – 2014. Though there’s certainly been a steady increase since then.

Building just over one thousand social housing units a year must be considered a failure after two decades of socialist administrations in Cardiff Bay. Especially when we remember that in 1979 – 1980 (immediately before Right to Buy was introduced) Welsh local authorities built 3,322 new council homes. (RSLs built a further 377.)

And a thousand a year looks even less impressive when we remember that in the period of devolution a couple of billion pounds in capital grant funding has been given to an ever-expanding galaxy of housing associations.

In the past five years alone, £574 million pounds of Social Housing Grant (SHG) has been paid to housing associations. Wales & West, Labour’s favourite, has seen £61m of it.

SHG is not the only capital grant paid. There’s also the Housing Finance Grant.

I’ve drawn up a table for SHG payments you can view by clicking here. It’s quite a big table, so please have patience.

(I should add that while the bottom line is correct I can’t vouch for every figure in every column. I may have made a mistake or two in transcribing them. So here are the figures I received.)

While the amount paid in SHG from 2015 – 2016 to 2019 – 2020 was 20% more than for the previous five years the stock of social rented housing increased in the same period by less than 2%.

We know that housing association executives like to pay themselves big salaries, and drive fancy company cars . . . shiny new offices are a must . . . and how can they miss out on all the conferences and other jollies, but these could never account for the increasing gulf between funding received and social housing built.

Something else must be going on.

If nothing else, Wales is following England in providing less social rented housing. So much for Rhodri Morgan’s, “clear red water”. So much for, “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”.

Click to enlarge

The Tories came to power in 2010, and that’s when the decline started. Clearly, the Labour management team in Corruption Bay is following Conservative directives when it comes to social rented housing.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

If we take the period 2014 – 2015 to 2019 – 2020 we see that it covers important changes in the way RSLs are regulated, and also how they operate.

I’m sure most people didn’t notice, but in the past five years Welsh housing associations were originally private bodies, were then made public, before being privatised again.

It was the Office for National Statistics that decided they should be public bodies due to the amount of public funding they were receiving. Plus the political involvement. But making them public bodies transferred their debts to the public ledger and so the parliaments in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff quickly privatised them again.

It’s explained clearly and succinctly in the article below from Inside Housing, just click on it to make it readable. (Here’s a link to the original article.)

I bet you’re thinking . . . ‘If housing associations are now private companies, why are they still getting lashings of public funding?’ Funding that, as we’ve seen, has greatly increased since they were ‘re-privatised’!

The answer is that they’ve branched out into building private housing.

To such an extent that, in addition to the public funding, our housing associations are also taking out private loans with various financial institutions.

Here’s a report from May of United Welsh of Caerphilly, which has just 6,000 properties, borrowing £50m from Scottish Widows.

In July we learnt Coastal Housing Group of Swansea had entered into a £250m ‘refinancing’ deal with Aviva Investors.

In August, Cadwyn Housing Association of Cardiff did a deal with Westbourne Capital Partners of Chicago.

And other housing associations have done similar deals with organisations much sharper than them in the ways of the financial world. I do hope they’ve read the small print.

Though I suppose the only real collateral housing associations have is their housing stock. If they default, does this mean that Welsh social housing stock gets taken over by lenders? Or will the ‘Welsh Government’ step in with yet more money?

Talking of the ‘Welsh Government’, if RSLs need money for investment, why can’t they go to the Development Bank of Wales (DBW), which is already lending to other builders, many from over the border?

So let’s recap. Housing associations, now private bodies, still receive increasing amounts of public funding. Yet they also enter into arrangements with financial institutions around the world. And let’s not forget that the other major source of income – perhaps the major source – is rents from the housing stock they own. Most of which came free as stock transfers from local authorities.

Another noteworthy feature in this period is that most if not all of our housing associations have set up subsidiary companies, or companies that are not subsidiaries but still part of the group.

SUBSIDIARIES, PARTNERS, PRIVATE HOUSING

An example would be the relationship between Ateb (formerly Pembrokeshire Housing Association) and Mill Bay Homes Ltd (MBH). The latter, despite being a separate company, is a “wholly controlled subsidiary company of Ateb Group Ltd”.

The arrangement is that MBH builds and sells market properties and the profits go to parent company Ateb to build social housing or ‘affordable homes’. Which might be fine if Mill Bay Homes had its own money . . . but it hasn’t, it relies on loans from Ateb.

Which means that the ‘Welsh Government’ funds a RSL to build social housing but the money in fact goes to a subsidiary to build open market homes (that most locals may not be able to afford) with a fraction of the original money returning to the parent company.

What is the point of such a system?

While Mill Bay Homes is a company registered with Companies House the Ateb Group is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

As we’ve seen with other housing associations, the Ateb Group has also borrowed money recently. Last month from the Principality Building Society. Back in July it was a loan of £18m from bLEND Funding PLC.

Officially, a cash security trust deed.

Click to enlarge

Eighteen bloody million! How much does a relatively small, rural housing association need? It’s already getting money from the ‘Welsh Government’, and seems to have stopped providing social rented housing.

A visit to the Ateb Group website turns up what you see below. Quite clearly, Ateb is now a private house builder with social rented accommodation an afterthought.

Click to enlarge

Click on ‘homes for sale’ and you of course get taken to the Mill Bay Homes website.

And there seem to be some rum doings between the two.

I am indebted to Wynne Jones in Cardigan for these documents from the Land Registry website (from which I have redacted a few names in the second).

A property on this development in Cilgerran (Ceredigion) was built by MBH, with money borrowed from Ateb, then sold to Ateb for £164,950 in October 2019; the following month Ateb sold a 125-year lease on the property for £57,733.

What business model is this?

Mill Bay Homes makes no secret of the fact that it’s punting for retirees and ‘investors’. The latter category will include Buy-to-Rent landlords, and whaddya know – one of the new Cilgerran properties is already being advertised for rent.

Plot 3 at Maes Rheithordy, Cilgerran, is being rented for £670 per calendar month through Jac y Do Letting of Blaenporth.

A similar arrangement to that between Ateb and Mill Bay Homes exists in Gwynedd between Adra (formerly Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd), which took over Gwynedd council’s housing stock some ten years ago, and its subsidiary, Medra Cyf.

A few days ago Adra put out this puff about building 1,200 new homes across ‘North Wales’. The “housing crisis” referred to is perhaps the lack of housing for commuters in the A55 corridor.

Click to enlarge

The subsidiary that will be doing much of the building is Medra . . . with a loan from Adra.

This loan between a Welsh RSL and its subsidiary was arranged by London law firm Trowers & Hamlins. I’ve seen that name in other loans I’ve looked at. Are there no lawyers in Wales?

Of course there are, so who’s directing them to that company?

Also worth highlighting from recent years, in addition to the proliferation of subsidiaries, is the strange partnerships we see being forged.

For an example of this we stay in the north, with Cartrefi Conwy, based in Abergele.

I’ve written about this lot a few times. Below you’ll read what I had to say earlier this year, in Housing Associations, a broken model. The Byzantine network of ‘partners’ also throws up a mystery investor.

“Cartrefi Conwy set up a subsidiary in 2015 called Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company). Then, in May 2018, Creating Enterprise went into partnership with Brenig Developments Ltd to form Calon Homes. (Assets at 31 May 2019 £37,853.)

From the Creating Enterprise CIC accounts for y/e 31 March 2019. Click to enlarge

As I wrote back in November: “There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.”

When we look at the directors for Brenig Developments Ltd we find Mark Timothy Parry and Howard Rhys Vaughan. Both are also directors of Brenig Homes Ltd.”

Another horse out of the Brenig stable is Brenig Construction Ltd. Just another local building firm, run by local people . . . so impeccably local in fact that it could have come from League of Gentlemen.

But then, in December last year, a new director joined, a man who might have been taking his life in his hands if he’d turned up in the Royston Vasey shop.

I’m referring now to Yin Han, a Chinese businessman, presumably bringing a lot of yuan. For when I say Chinese businessman I do not mean that he hails from Hong Kong or Taiwan. Yin Han is a resident and citizen of the People’s Republic of China.

How did Yin Han and Brenig Construction find each other? What do we know about him? I guarantee he did not get involved with Brenig Construction without permission from back home. And that means the Communist Party.

These subsidiaries and partners, together with the loans and investment, are needed to build private housing for sale on the open market.

But housing associations are now private entities, so why do they need subsidiaries and partners to build open market housing? Surely they could do it in their own names?

Of course they could, but that would make it too obvious and probably jeopardise the public funding. So we have this charade of public money for social housing being given to RSLs and then filtered through intermediaries to build private housing.

And the ‘Welsh Government’ is a willing party to this deception.

‘AFFORDABLE HOUSING’

As a student of history, I’ve always loved Palmerston’s quote: “Only three people have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business – the Prince Consort, who is dead – a German professor, who has gone mad – and I, who have forgotten all about it.”

It comes to mind when I see the term ‘affordable housing’. Because there’s a great deal of confusion as to what it means.

It’s important to get a definition because it’s what RSLs now claim to be building, and what the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ is funding.

Is the ‘Welsh Government’ really proud of these figures? And ‘Rent to own’ in fact offers people a share of a lease! Click to enlarge

When I contacted the ‘Welsh Government’ I was referred to a publication wherein was found . . .

“The concept of affordability is generally defined as the ability of households or potential households to purchase or rent property that satisfies the needs of the household without subsidy (further guidance is provided in the Local  Housing Market Assessment Guide) 7 This could be based on an assessment of the ratio of household income or earnings to the price of property to buy or rent available in the open market in the required local housing market area.”

Which is interesting, and for two reasons.

If the concept of affordability is based on what local people on local wages can afford, then why is ‘affordable housing’ not reserved for those same local people? I ask because all the term means in practice is that a few properties in a development are labelled ‘affordable’ – but still put on the open market.

And if a small number of properties in a development are classed as ‘affordable’ then it must follow that the majority of the properties are regarded as unaffordable to most locals. So why are we building so many properties – with public funding! – beyond the reach of most local buyers?

The woolly term ‘affordable housing’ is just a fig leaf for the ‘Welsh Government’ and RSLs to disguise the fact that very little social housing is being delivered.

We are encouraged to believe that ‘affordable housing’ is for local people, or that it means social rented properties. Wrong.

CONCLUSION

This system, as I’ve argued before, is broken. It is broken because it consumes vast amounts of Welsh public funding for little or no Welsh public benefit.

Another cause for concern is that just as many third sector bodies are agencies of the Labour Party a similar picture emerges with housing associations.

In fact, housing associations and third sector bodies operate hand in glove, with the former housing the disruptive ‘clients’ of the latter, many of whom have been shipped into Wales. It’s collaboration like this that contributes to the problems we’ve looked at in Tyisha, Llanelli.

‘Welsh’ Labour’s little empire; stuffed with cronies and others dependent on political patronage and public handouts.

Take Wales & West, which I’ve referred to as Labour’s favourite. The CEO is Anne Hinchey, whose hubby Graham is a Labour Councillor in Cardiff. This explains why Wales & West has pulled down £100m in Social Housing Grant alone in the past decade.

And yet, let us remember that the reason the Office for National Statistics decided to put housing associations into the public sector was because there was so much governmental control!

As the June 2018 article from Inside Housing I reproduced above put it,

“In a letter to the Welsh Government sent yesterday, the ONS left open the possibility to reclassify individual associations as public should the level of state control increase.”

A strong case could be made for reclassifying a number of Welsh housing associations. Certainly Wales & West.

Where do we go from here?

I suggest that it starts with making it clear we do not want housing associations to build properties for sale to Home Counties retirees in Pembrokeshire, or to Manchester commuters in Denbighshire.

The sole duty of Welsh housing associations must be to deliver homes to Welsh people at sales prices or rents WE can afford.

If they are unable or unwilling to fulfil that role then I believe we should let our local councils provide social rented housing. Ensure they are well enough funded to provide decent accommodation to any and all local people wanting it. And make strong local connections the over-riding consideration in allocating those properties.

Then cut all funding to housing associations, which are, after all, private companies. Let them borrow from private lenders – as they are already doing – and cease being a burden on the public purse.

Whatever is decided, the present system is broken. Changes must be made. Even if you think this doesn’t affect you, just think what we could do with the money saved!

♦ end ♦

 

 




Elections, May 2021

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

The next elections for the Welsh Parliament are just over six months away; so this week I’m taking a break from crooks, money-launderers, con men, enviroshysters, third sector leeches to focus on politicians.

Reading that, the cynics among you will say, “So no great change there, then, Jac!”.

How dare you be so disrespectful of our tribunes! Go stand in the corner!

THE 2016 RESULT

Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the overall result from the previous election in 2016.

‘Abolish the Welsh’ refers to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party, a harmless bunch of anti-Welsh cranks not a gang of loonies bent on genocide. Well not yet, anyway. Click to enlarge

The first thing you might notice is that despite these elections being organised under a system of proportional representation the result, certainly for Labour, the biggest party, gives an outcome not a lot different to first past the post.

You’ll also see that the main challengers get seats roughly in line with their share of the vote, with the smaller parties generally losing out. It’s a system designed to protect the Labour-dominated status quo in Wales, while also stifling ‘insurgent’ parties.

This system has worked to perfection in Wales because the Conservatives are unlikely to ever gain a majority of seats. And when Labour fails to get a majority then Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats will always be there to help.

After the 2016 election Labour went into coalition with the sole Liberal Democrat AM. Which meant that parties with a total of 38% of the vote were able to form an administration.

Is this really how PR is supposed to work?

THE LABOUR PARTY

At the risk of sounding uncharitable, the great thing the Labour Party has had going for it is . . . not being the Conservative Party. The advertising campaigns, the policy drafting, the tub-thumping and the sloganising could all have been ignored in favour of the simple message – ‘Vote for us, cos we’re not the Tories’.

And it’s worked, for almost a century.

In England, the decline of traditional industries, and their associated trade unions, have weakened the Labour Party. Labour in Scotland suffered the same problem, exacerbated by the rise of the Scottish National Party to the point where Labour is hanging on for dear life, with just one Westminster MP left.

In Wales, Labour has fared better because we’ve been spared the corrupting influence of prosperity, and also because there is no equivalent of the SNP. Of course, Plaid Cymru likes to view itself as the Welsh SNP but the SNP set out to destroy the Labour Party in Scotland whereas Plaid Cymru seeks to keep its Welsh branch alive and in power.

How Labour will do next May depends to a considerable extent on perceptions of the Conservative government in London. For while Scotland has a vigorous national media allowing elections to be influenced by Scottish issues, the absence of a Welsh media worthy of the name means that here we tend see Englandandwales elections.

The exception being perhaps areas with high numbers of Welsh speakers who are less reliant on news from London.

On issues of the day, there is a general and widespread belief that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than Johnson, Hancock, Jenrick and the rest of the gang up in London.

But then, being seen as less incompetent than that crew is no great achievement.

When we address purely Welsh issues, it’s difficult to think of anything Labour has to crow about. For Wales continues to fall behind other countries in areas like wealth, health, housing and education.

Cardiff seems to be prospering but away from the Lesser Wen the country can be divided into post-industrial areas experiencing managed decline and rural areas undergoing engineered population change from Welsh to English.

Labour leader, Mark Drakeford, is less oleaginous than his predecessor, Carwyn Jones, but still a difficult man to like. Despite the Brownie points gained for Covid-19 there remain plenty of bear traps for him to negotiate between here and next May.

By any criteria one cares to apply, Labour has been a failure since 2016. Labour has failed Wales since the dawn of devolution in 1999. But for the reasons I’ve given, Labour will still emerge as the largest single party, with around 30% of the vote.

But well short of a majority of seats.

If nothing else, such a result should increase calls for more Senedd Members and a system of true proportional representation.

THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY (CUP)

The last few years have been a series of peaks and troughs for the CUP, with Brexit almost tearing the party apart under Theresa May. Things took a turn for the better when Boris Johnson became party leader and won a famous victory in December . . . since when it’s been downhill again.

In last December’s election the Tories won a number of seats in the north, most notably, Wrexham, held by Labour since 1931. But the overall vote in Wales only increased by 2.5%. The real story was that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party saw its Welsh vote go down by 8%.

Things have not gone well for the CUP since that December election for all sorts of reasons. Such as a number of the new intake being pretty odious specimens.

The new MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosby, has appeared on this blog a number of times, usually defending her colleague and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry. Berry owns properties around Rhoscolyn and earlier this year people were asking if he was breaking lockdown restrictions to travel between his Welsh properties, his London home, and his constituency.

Then Delyn MP Rob Roberts got into trouble for asking young staffers to “fool around with him”. While Wrexham new girl, Sarah Atherton, wondered why the military weren’t dealing with the refugee/migrant boats crossing from France.

While old favourites like Alun Cairns, the MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, continue to amaze with their talent for finding little sidelines to supplement their meagre incomes.

The situation does not look like improving for the Tories, for two main reasons.

Let’s look first at Covid-19. As I said in the previous section, the Conservative government in London has had a disastrous pandemic: incompetence, lies, contracts to cronies, it’s all there, and this will be remembered next May.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Tories seem determined to alienate even more people by insisting that the ‘Welsh Government’ is being anti-English when – for perhaps the first time ever – it prioritises the interests of Wales.

That’s certainly what was said by Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, and Alun Cairns. Which makes them either complete bell-ends or calculating politicians.

I believe it’s the latter, because in spouting this nonsense, the Tories are playing to a particular gallery. I’m thinking now of the anti-Welsh, gammony element that might otherwise be seduced by the growing number of splinter group parties on the BritNat fringe. (I’ll come to them later.)

The other problem of their own making is, again, Brexit. Of course Wales voted for Brexit, but I’m sure very few of us voted for privatising the NHS, chlorinated chicken, and undermining the Welsh farming industry. I certainly didn’t.

But it’s now become clear that a No Deal Brexit was always the favoured option for the CUP leadership in London. Which will mean the City of London remains at the centre of the biggest money-laundering network in the world; the NHS is opened up to US Big Pharma; and we have to get used to food products from the USA, where standards in both hygiene and animal welfare are more ‘relaxed’.

All the Welsh CUP MPs voted for this deal. Which is not clever for people representing constituencies with large numbers of farmers . . . and their extended families . . . and contractors to the industry, and so many others who rely to a greater or lesser degree on agriculture for their livelihoods.

There will be a price to pay next May for the coronavirus cock-ups and the shafting of our farmers. And while the Tories in Corruption Bay weren’t responsible, it’ll be some of them who’ll pay the price.

Other factors working against the Conservatives will be the Englandandwales media/election paradigm and the Vera Lynn Fan Clubs competing for regional votes.

For all these reasons I expect the CUP representation in the Welsh Parliament to fall.

PLAID CYMRU THE PARTY OF WALES

Although Plaid Cymru won 12 seats in 2016 the party is now down to 10. Lord Elis Thomas, the constituency member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, left to become a Labour-supporting Independent; and Neil McEvoy, the regional AM for South Wales Central, left to sit as an Independent before forming the Welsh National Party (WNP).

A further change since 2016 is that Plaid Cymru also has a new leader in Adam Price. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about him is that he’s not former leader, Leanne Wood.

For most Welsh voters Plaid Cymru is the party of Welsh independence, but as I’ve argued, Plaid Cymru is a party that sought more autonomy for Wales, more funding for Wales, and the creation of a new class of politicians and administrators made up of . . . well, the kind of people who populate the upper echelons of Plaid Cymru.

This was to be a system that created a new class that Djilas would have recognised enjoying prestige and influence without the responsibility of having to fund it. Devolution, with a bit more power, many more sinecures, and lots more money, is the end of the line.

Plaid Cymru was always Cymru Fydd resurrected, not a Welsh Sinn Féin. Until, that is, it moved to the left in the 1980s and really screwed itself up. Enjoying only a brief period of coherence under the leadership of Dafydd Wigley and the first Assembly elections in 1999.

Today we again see a schizophrenic party where Welsh-speaking social conservatives from the rural heartlands mix uncomfortably with some real oddballs and a few with views that should have denied them membership.

Plaid Cymru is today one of those confused leftist parties that is vehemently opposed to intolerance . . . except when it’s those it approves of being intolerant.

As a leftist party Plaid Cymru believes that, thanks to the capitalist system, we’re either going to fry due to global warming, or else we’re going to drown from rising sea levels, so Wales must play its part in trying to avert these outcomes.

In practice, that means supporting wind turbines that create no jobs and simply exploit Wales. Where profits flow to a City hedge fund, or a multinational, or a state-owned energy company from Scandinavia.

Except on issues that are largely irrelevant to Wales – where Plaid Cymru can play gesture politics – the party comes across as weak and indecisive. Take holiday homes. Plaid talks the talk but it won’t walk the walk.

At present Welsh local authorities can impose a council tax surcharge on holiday homes up to 100%. The only council that levies the 100% is Labour-controlled Swansea. (And despite what you might think, there are many holiday homes on the waterfront, in Mumbles, and of course around Gower.)

Independent-run Powys recently voted to impose a surcharge of 75%.

But Gwynedd, where Plaid Cymru is in control, imposes only a 50% surcharge. It’s a similar picture in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

On independence, Plaid Cymru has been outflanked and overtaken by Yes Cymru. While on the party political front there are two new challengers in the form of Gwlad and the Welsh National Party (WNP). Both are unequivocal about prioritising Welsh interests, and are fully committed to achieving independence.

So you really have to wonder what Plaid Cymru stands for nowadays, and where it’s going. That’s certainly what Welsh voters will be doing in May. Many will conclude that Plaid Cymru has hit the buffers.

Which certainly seems to be the case.

For while opinion polls tell us that more and more people are prepared to consider independence, those same polls show little or no increase in support for Plaid Cymru. Recent polls show 51% of Labour voters prepared to consider independence, but only 71% of Plaid Cymru voters!

What’s going wrong for Plaid Cymru?

In a nutshell, Plaid Cymru believes that the only acceptable vision of independence must be well to the left of centre, pro EU, in favour of open borders, anti Trump, and dragging a whole baggage train of ishoo-of-the-month idiocies that turn off most voters.

Dogmatic to the point of being unelectable.

Plaid Cymru always failed to engage with the urban, anglophone population. After the disappointment of Brexit, the success of the Brexit Party (winning the May 2019 EU elections in Wales and the UK), and BoJo’s victory last December, many in Plaid Cymru – like the US Democrats – have given up trying to win over stupid, racist, poor whites.

They find it preferable to retreat into their cocoons of progressive self-righteousness in the echo chamber of social media.

Which is why I believe Plaid Cymru will lose Ceredigion and also end up with fewer Members from the regional lists.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

There’s a temptation to be very unkind in this section . . . but it’s not in my nature to put the boot in when somebody’s down. And boy! are the Liberal Democrats down.

Down to a single Member, Kirsty Williams, the constituency MS for Brecon and Radnorshire. After the debacle of 2016 Ms Williams threw in her lot with Labour and became Minister for Education. You probably haven’t noticed.

It’s an amazing decline for the party of David Lloyd George, but entirely predictable when we consider the quality of leaders and representatives in recent years at both Welsh and UK level. I’m not sure if Ms Williams holds group meetings with herself but I’m sure she will have thought the same thing many a time.

And yet, despite currently being down to a solitary representative, the Liberal Democrats could be the big winners in May next year.

As I’ve suggested, the CUP has pissed off a lot of people, and most certainly a lot of farmers. Few will know that better than Kirsty Williams, a farmer’s wife.

Obviously, I’m not privy to what goes on at Welsh Liberal Democrat Party meetings (I can never find the telephone kiosk!) but I’m sure Kirsty Williams has hopes for the seats of Montgomeryshire to the north and Ceredigion to the west. (If the students in Aber’ and Lampeter have forgiven the Lib Dems for reneging on tuition fees.)

So I’m predicting that the Liberal Democrats could double, or even treble, their representation in May 2021. These are the three constituencies mentioned, and there might even be a regional list seat.

VERA LYNN FAN CLUBS

This is where it gets tricky, because the landscape on the BritNat right is forever shifting. Hardly surprising when we look at the personalities involved, and realise how many of them are often described as ‘interesting’, or ‘eccentric’ (code for ‘absolute nutter’).

Back in 2016, the big winner among this section of the electorate was UKIP, with 13% of the vote and seven seats. The Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party did not stand constituency candidates and got just 4.4% of the regional vote (which was still more than the share won by the Green Party of Englandandwales).

Since 2016 UKIP has had eight or nine UK leaders, numerous resignations, and in Corruption Bay is now reduced to the solitary – but dapper – form of Neil Hamilton. In fact, I’m not sure if Neil Hamilton isn’t the current party leader. Or was that last month?

Not so long ago the Abolish lot was the fringe of a fringe, but now it boasts two Members of the Senedd, Gareth Bennett and Mark Reckless. Though you’ve gotta be pretty desperate to boast about those two.

Others who were returned under the banner of British exceptionalism were Nathan Gill, Michelle Brown, David Rowlands and Caroline Jones. Following his resignation in 2018 Gill was replaced by Mandy Jones. Michelle Brown now sits as an Independent.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at those UKIP meetings because by comparison ferrets in a sack are models of harmony and co-existence.

The most recent development is that Rowlands and the Jones women have formed a new group, the Independent Alliance for Reform. And if that name doesn’t stir something deep inside you – other than wind – then you are beyond hope.

It is obviously designed to be interchangeable with or to complement Aux barricades!

And all the while, in the wings, observing, is Nigel Farage. Will his Reform Party put in a late appearance, or will it be the promised relaunch of the Brexit Party? Though with Brexit almost done what would be the platform?

For let us remember that the Assembly elections of May 2016 were held just ahead of the EU referendum and were almost overshadowed by it. This propinquity benefited Ukip.

One thing’s for sure, if all the parties we’ve looked at in this section fight all the seats then we’ll be royally entertained by the stars they’ll recruit from Wetherspoons and other squelchy underfoot salons. A goodly number of whom will have to withdraw before the election after saying or doing something really stupid.

The BritNat right has no hope of a constituency seat, so hopes rest on the regional lists. Which means that a lot will depend on whether they fight each other or come to some arrangement.

I suspect there are still enough “Brexit means Brexit” types out there to win 3 seats.

THE SERIOUS ABOUT WALES PARTIES

Looking around Wales and seeing the mess this country is in is painful enough, but when you realise that none of the existing parties offers any hope of meaningful change, then new parties will be formed.

And that’s exactly what’s happened; and why we have Gwlad and the WNP.

I am a member of Gwlad and played a small part in its creation, but it was easy for me to withdraw to the blogosphere because the party is in such capable hands.

I like to think that Gwlad combines patriotism with pragmatism. For example, in believing that relying on handouts from London, as Labour and Plaid Cymru prefer, only perpetuates the misconception that Wales could never stand on her own two feet economically.

There are radical yet practical proposals across the board. We’ve already touched on Plaid Cymru’s fear of upsetting second home owners – a number in their own ranks – with meaningful levels of council tax; well, Gwlad does not hesitate to demand a 500% council tax surcharge.

It’s all here in the Manifesto for 2021.

Predictably, the criticism levelled against Gwlad by Plaid Cymru is that we shall “split the nationalist vote”. This is nonsense, because Plaid Cymru has already split – or certainly, limited – the nationalist vote by its inflexible and off-putting socialism.

This is borne out in recent elections and in even more so in recent opinion polls.

What Gwlad will do is reach out to those who want, or would be prepared to consider, independence, but could never vote for a hard-line socialist party also lumbered with the tag of still being a party only for Welsh speakers.

Gwlad could come through a crowded field to win a constituency seat and should certainly collect 3 or 4 regional list seats.

Of course, I’ve met Neil McEvoy a few times and we exchange the occasional e-mail, Wales is a small country after all. But I really don’t know much about his new party beyond what I read in the media.

Though I do know a few others involved with the WNP.

Over the years I’ve sunk a few pints with Councillor Keith Parry . . . and I’m still haunted by a car journey one very rainy night as I tried to concentrate on the road ahead while my mate and Keith’s Jewish wife argued over the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum.

I feared it was all going to end in a fight and a fireball car crash. Phew!

Many observers try to say that Neil McEvoy only took the course he did in forming the WNP because he was effectively thrown out of Plaid Cymru. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Neil has been in politics a long time, and he knows what’s wrong with Wales. On one level it’s London’s political, economic and cultural stranglehold, but on the local level it’s the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru.

Labour holds power on local councils and in the Senedd . . . simply to be in power; to stop someone else getting the salaries and the expenses, attending the bun-fights and the jollies. Labour has little intention – and no real incentive – to improve the lives of our people because for a century it has capitalised on Wales’ deprivation.

Plaid Cymru, as I’ve said, is a party of gestures and abstractions. It is the twenty-first century political equivalent of those medieval divines who would argue over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

But actually doing anything? Forget it!

But if one of his constituents persuades him they’re getting a raw deal, then Neil McEvoy will take up the case and demand something be done about it. And he sometimes ruffles feathers doing it. But if kids are sharing a bedroom with rats, or there’s water rippling down the kitchen wall . . .

Neil McEvoy is a do-er, a man who believes in the direct approach; and that makes the anguished attitudinisers of Plaid Cymru very nervous. And never more so than when he confronts the Labour Party.

On two major issues, the ‘nuclear mud’ being dumped off Cardiff, and the forged signatures on cladding certificates, Plaid Cymru has behaved abominably. None worse than Llywydd Elin Jones. But she couldn’t have behaved as she did without the backing of Labour and Plaid Cymru.

Sticking it to the man may outrage the sensitive flowers of Plaid Cymru but it goes down well with real people, on the streets of Cardiff, and elsewhere in Wales. People want their problems solved, they do not want to be patronised, or taken for granted, by an aloof and self-serving political class.

The big test will come in the constituency seat of Cardiff West, where McEvoy will be standing against First Minister Drakeford. Plaid Cymru will of course be splitting the nationalist vote in the hope of securing victory for Mark Drakeford.

Neil McEvoy’s street cred and his sheer hard work might win Cardiff West next May, plus a couple of regional list seats.

My very personal belief is that Gwlad and the WNP should not get in each other’s way next May. Neither has the strength yet to fight a full national election so it’s in their interests, and more importantly, it’s in Wales’s interests, for there to be some kind of deal.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I obviously can’t account for all those who might be standing next May, there’s bound to be a wild card or two. But what you’ve just read is how I see it panning out.

Other factors will I’m sure influence voters. Perhaps the UK government’s Internal Markets Bill; supposedly about ‘repatriating’ powers from the EU but which, in reality, gives BoJo’s gang the power to trample all over devolution.

Perhaps it will even be used to challenge the 1707 Act of Union.

More specific to Wales is a growing awareness of and dislike for the chumminess of Cardiff Bay. The air of cronyism and unaccountability exemplified by Labour and Plaid Cymru refusing to bring in a register of lobbyists.

The problem in this area is obvious, but there are always excuses for doing nothing. This is because Labour and Plaid Cymru are too close to those who might be held to account by such legislation.

Another issue that might influence some voters to take a punt on a new party is the widespread perception that Cardiff gets everything. Which doesn’t change when an MS goes to Cardiff promising to speak up for his area . . . only to be sucked into the swamp that is Corruption Bay.

But perhaps we should remember Harold Macmillan’s response when asked what was most likely to influence or derail political plans. Supermac is said to have replied: “Events, dear boy, events.”

In other words, that which cannot be foreseen. Six months is a very long time in politics.

♦ end ♦