Coronavirus and Wales

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

Yes, I know I’d promised to write on a couple of other subjects, but this coronavirus pandemic has turned things upside down. It’s certainly impacting on the Jones household.

To begin with, my daily trips to Tywyn for a coffee and a read of the ‘paper are gone. This was often followed by sauntering up and down the High Street, doing a bit of shopping, maybe driving down to Aberdyfi to mooch around some more. But not now.

I’m stuck at home with my long-suffering wife. Fortunately, being a home carer, she’s out quite a lot. Another aid to me keeping cabin fever at bay is to stock up on the Malbec. I’ve found that caressing unopened bottles can have a soothing effect.

Self-isolation has also meant no grandchildren staying, which only adds to the sense of this being a different time. And it’s also quieter outside the house, fewer people about, less traffic. If it wasn’t for the internet it might be like an earlier epoch.

Though perhaps what I miss most is the football. I used to spend at least 25 hours a week watching football. Not just Welsh and English football; I’m just as happy watching La Vecchia Signora or the Jam Tarts. But coronavirus is global, which means there’s no football anywhere. Anywhere! (Yeah, I know, that’s what ‘pandemic’ means.)

So when I’m not online, or out taking my constitutional, listening to music, or up in the attic doing my Fast Eddie impersonations on the kids’ pool table, I’m dipping into my books. Hazlitt has always been a favourite. But when I reached for that little volume of essays the other day I found a page marked with the dust cover, so I opened it . . .

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Fortunately I don’t believe in such things. So for all the shysters out there, and the lying politicians – I plan on being around to write about you for some time yet.

THE STORY THUS FAR

The realisation that things were getting serious took a while to sink in, for just about everybody, with the Welsh Rugby Union taking longer than most to get the message.

The Six Nations game against Scotland, scheduled for March 14, was going ahead almost up until the last minute. This despite the other games in Round 5 – Italy v England and France v Ireland – having been called off, and with football and almost every other sport also put on hold around the world.

It wasn’t until the afternoon of Friday the 13th, with Scottish fans safely in Cardiff and spending their money, that the WRU decided to call the game off.

To understand this disregard for the nation’s health you must appreciate what motivates the Welsh Rugby Union, what it regards as important. Vying for top spot are sucking up to English royals, and making money. Everything else is secondary.

In defence of the WRU, no pressure was applied by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. As late as Thursday the 12th, Vaughan Gething, the woefully inadequate health minister, saw no need to call the game off. Though in fairness to Gething, this non-decision could itself have been due to pressure from the WRU.

(Things can often be ‘reciprocal’ in Cardiff.)

Gething last week warned that Wales can expect a “larger impact” from coronavirus because Wales’ population is “typically older, sicker and poorer”. After two decades of his party running things in Wales he felt no shame in such an admission!

Something that did go ahead in Cardiff that Saturday was a Stereophonics concert.

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All grist to the mill of cynics believing that too many ‘national’ bodies based in Cardiff bend over backwards to make sure Cardiff never loses out, even when we are threatened by the worst pandemic since ‘Spanish’ Flu a century ago.

In terms of leadership, things have not got any better.

The ‘Welsh Government’ gives its daily briefing and issues advice, which is usually repeating what has already been said in London. Much like the laws passed in Cardiff docks, which are basically the same laws as England with ‘(Wales)’ added.

Exposing a fundamental problem with devolution when it’s run by a timid and unambitious Unionist party stuffed with mediocrities.

Labour has never resolved the conundrum of wanting to make Welsh people feel devolution is relevant to them but not wanting to depart too far from the London line for fear of being branded ‘nationalist’, even when doing things differently would be best for Wales. And so we have a sham devolution that neither enthuses our people nor serves Welsh interests.

All of which makes a mockery of “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”, which is how devolution was sold to us many years ago.

Yet there are times when ‘Welsh solutions’ are needed. Let’s cast our minds back to last weekend, just after ‘lockdown’ was announced, when workplaces and schools were closed, and people told to stay home. Yet we saw thousands upon thousands of people treat a national emergency as a national holiday and flock to Wales.

While I didn’t expect the ‘Welsh Government’ to close the border and lay minefields, I did think they could have been a little more decisive than they had been the previous weekend over the rugby international, but no; not even when the scale of the irruption had become obvious.

Below you’ll see a few examples of the ignorance and stupidity we were confronted with, and just a few of many instances of locals acting for themselves. (Some still had to do it yesterday.)

UPDATE: Here’s the response of a second home owner in Y Felinheli today. The slate sign reads ‘Port Dinorwic’, as that road runs down to the old harbour.

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These colonialist attitudes are the result of ‘selling’ our homeland for decades as nothing but another nation’s holiday destination. Encouraging the belief that Wales is some kind of Brigadoon that only comes alive when tourists visit.

This belief that Wales exists for no other reason than the enjoyment of tourists results in contempt for us, our history and our very identity.  

Out of curiosity, I went to the Visit Wales Twitter account, and what I found was revealing. Up until March 12, two days before the planned Wales v Scotland game and the Stereophonics concert, there is at least one ‘Come to Wales’ tweet per day.

There is then a gap of ten days in which Visit Wales did no more than retweet other organisations’ tweets about coronavirus and, significantly, compensation. Like a rabbit caught in the headlights Visit Wales didn’t seem to know how to react. March 22 was of course the Sunday, and by then it had become obvious even to Visit Wales that locals in tourism hot-spots were organising themselves against irresponsible tourism operators and individuals.

Only then did Visit Wales put out a tweet telling potential visitors to stay away. And this might have been motivated as much by worries about the damage being done to the reputation of the tourism industry as by concern for public health.

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If I carry on like this I’ll be accused of ‘politicising’ coronavirus. This was the accusation thrown at Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon when she recognised the threat and acted on coronavirus earlier than Westminster.

I accept that coronavirus knows no national boundaries, while on an island there must be some unity of purpose in the face of such a threat, but Wales still faces problems that will not be appreciated by those giving orders in London.

As we’ve seen, one such problem was holiday homes and tourism, and many thousands of people choosing to self-isolate in Wales. Which exposed another serious failing down in Cardiff.

The ‘Welsh Government’ (and this of course includes Visit Wales) refused to address this problem for far too long because politicians and civil servants in Cardiff have come to believe their own propaganda – Wales cannot survive without tourism, consequently nothing must be allowed to interfere with tourism. Not even a pandemic.

Political leadership has been noticeable by its absence. From London the advice has swung from “Nothing to get alarmed about – let’s all catch it!” (the ‘herd immunity’ approach), to “We’re all gonna die! – everybody stay home!” (lockdown).

While here in Wales, when not acting as an echo chamber, our politicians have been even less inspiring. Just read the article below from yesterday’s Llais y Sais. (Available here in pdf format.)

Did you ever read such waffle from a politician? Was Wales ever cursed with a more evasive and dishonest practitioner of even this disgraced profession? Did you ever see anyone more out of their depth?

Yet here’s the man leading the party and the administration that over the past twenty years has given billions of pounds to the crony-parasites of the third sector, where we find CEOs pulling down £100,000+ salaries – while our nurses don’t have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

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(My wife, who every day visits sick and elderly people received her face mask on Friday.)

Political confusion reigns.

At London level we saw BoJo and the gang spurn the EU’s offer of ventilators; while in Cardiff, the ‘Welsh Government’ turned down an offer of 10,000, EU certified, Lloyds insured, testing kits of the kind used in South Korea.

This despite the World Health Organisation advising ‘testing, testing, and more testing’ as a way to avoid the spread of Covid-19. The only people being tested in Wales are those showing moderate to severe symptoms who might already have infected hundreds of others. Plus of course, politicians and their friends.

Carefully orchestrated communal clapping must not detract from these political failings. And when the coronavirus threat has passed we must remember how our politicians and their system failed us.

In the immediate future we must be on our guard against London using coronavirus to accrete more powers. For while devolution may not be worth defending, moving back to the status quo ante devolution must not be an option either, though it is being aired.

One airing came from a Welsh Labour MP during Scottish Questions last week, when Chris Elmore, the MP for Ogmore suggested that funding for Covid-19 should bypass the Scottish Government and go to local authorities. An interesting suggestion for a number of reasons.

The SNP of course forms the Scottish Government, but at council level we find a number of Unionist-run councils, often controlled by squalid coalitions held together by nothing more than a desire to keep the SNP out of power.

Such an arrangement as we find in the city of Aberdeen where, after the 2017 elections, the SNP was the largest party by some distance but is kept from power by an alliance of Conservatives, Labour and Independents. (Though the Labour councillors have been expelled from the ‘Scottish’ Labour Party for going into coalition with the Tories!)

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And while Elwood (or was he one of the Blues Brothers?) may be a nonentity in Wales, representing a rosette-on-a-donkey constituency, he certainly made the news in Scotland. And as the report I’ve linked to from the National puts it, “It was left to Alister Jack, the Tory Secretary of State for Scotland, to remind the Labour frontbencher of how devolution works.”

A Tory MP having to remind an MP of the party that introduced devolution how devolution works. Lord and Lady Kinnock must have been so proud.

Though if wanting to rip up the devolution settlement and insincerely argue that the common weal would be better served by handing money directly to local councils sounds familiar, then that might be because it’s the same thing we hear from the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. Is Elton a supporter?

If we are to do away with devolution, and that is certainly what I want, then it must be done in order to move forward to independence, not backward to direct rule.

Westminster is letting us down, Cardiff Bay is clueless, the BBC is failing us, Wales is even losing out when it comes to online shopping for God’s sake!

Covid-19 is disrupting all our lives, and will end a few of them; but it has served the purpose of exposing as weak and malleable incompetents those buffoons down Cardiff docks who’ve lied to us for over twenty years about defending Wales.

Stand firm, stay healthy, and when this threat has passed, emerge from self-isolation determined to push on for independence!

♦ end ♦

With Covid-19 dominating the News, and politics in a state of suspended animation, the pandemic even affecting the crooks I so often write about, I may not be posting so frequently over the next few months unless something important happens.

Look after yourselves!

 

Housing Associations, a broken model

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

In an earlier post I dealt with Wales & West Housing, a housing association that has branched out into all manner of accommodation, including luxury flats.

For a few weeks I’ve been promising you more news. Finally – here it is!

WALES AND WEST, CARDIGAN HOSPITAL, MID WALES HOUSING

A speciality of Wales & West is importing criminals, drug addicts and other undesirables. But it’s good business, for local authorities and other agencies over the border will pay well to dump people in Wales.

Of course, it’s not so good for small towns that have to host these people. Lampeter being one that Wales & West has damaged in recent years. For as I was recently told, “Wales and West do not operate local allocation policies”.

And all this has been facilitated with funding from the Welsh public purse. For we pay for Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to import riff-raff and build luxury flats for sale to English retirees.

This public money will invariably be ‘filtered’ through the parent company – which will be a Registered Social Landlord – to a subsidiary, which may or may not be registered as a RSL. And in some cases, not obviously linked to a RSL.

In the example brought to light by a comment to the earlier post by ‘Dai’ the W&W subsidiary could either be Enfys Developments Limited (formerly Enfys Developments Ltd), or Castell Homes Limited.

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Though neither is shown in the ‘Welsh Government’s list of RSLs. A quick check found other omissions, making this an incomplete and misleading document.

Enfys Developments was founded in 2012 and seems to be the main vehicle for W&W’s new builds. While Castell Homes was formed as recently as January 2018, almost certainly in anticipation of the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018, which effectively privatised RSLs in response to the Office for National Statistics’ threat to reclassify them as public bodies.

As we read below, Castell Homes is, effectively, a private builder, promising to pass on its profits to the parent company for Wales & West to build social housing. It’s up to you whether you believe that.

There are a few other things worth picking out of the clip below from the only accounts thus far filed for Castell Homes.

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For example, we read that Castell Homes “was established with the purpose of building and selling homes in communities where a housing need is identified”. The operative word should be ‘demand’, not ‘need’. For this will be private housing, often beyond the financial reach of most locals.

We also read that “Castell Homes has its own board of directors”. Yes and no. Yes, there is a board of directors, but it’s the senior management team of Wales & West. Any pretence that Castell is independent of W&W would be just that, a pretence.

As ‘Dai’ mentions in his contribution, Wales & West is in negotiations with Hywel Dda University Health Board to buy the old Cardigan Hospital site. Though locals are puzzled as to why, if W&W doesn’t own the site, it’s been behaving for months as if it does.

The answer is of course that the deal was done long ago by the Labour Party behind closed doors, looking after its favourite housing association, yet again. Wales & West CEO is Anne Hinchey, wife of Cardiff Labour councillor Graham Hinchey. Mrs Hinchey previously worked for Cardiff Council.

Though I should also mention Keith Davies, housing strategy officer at Ceredigion council, a big friend of Wales & West who has appeared on this blog before. Keith was also very keen for Wales & West to take over the old hospital.

The open day held on February 29 was very well-attended and reported in the Tivy-side Advertiser. Curiously, this imparter of local news saw no contradiction in using ‘community has its say’ in the headline . . . and then quoting only spokespersons for Wales & West!

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As I keep saying, Wales & West is very well connected in Corruption Bay and all sorts of deals are being lined up. Among them perhaps the takeover of Mid Wales Housing, and this despite MWH having been in merger talks with Tai Ceredigion for some time. And now might be the ideal time.

For not only has MWH hit a rocky patch in the regulatory sense, having been downgraded on grounds of poor governance and financial management, but other factors are also contributing to a general picture of incompetence and decline.

For a start, Mid Wales paid over the odds for its repair contractor EOM Ltd and turned it from a profit-making SME into a loss-making subsidiary. MWH has also failed to deliver the Cylch Caron extra care facility in Tregaron for the county council, increasing pressure on the council leader following the closure of the Bodlondeb home in Aberystwyth.

And then chief executive Shane Perkins recently stepped down (though he’d been off sick since September). To those who may be wondering, I can tell you he’s not one of the Pembrokeshire Perkins, but comes from Bournemouth, to which he and his good lady wife have now returned.

From the Mid Wales Housing Facebook page. Click to enlarge

Filling in until a new CEO is appointed is Charles Brotherton . . . despite being the genius behind the EOM fiasco. Charles joined MWH in 2010 from an English housing association. Chairman of Mid Wales Housing, and Lloyds ‘name’, is Peter Swanson, who is also a “Past chair of Dyfed Powys Health Authority. A Justice of the Peace. Past Chair of Dyfed Powys Health Authority and former Chair of Powys County Council Standards Committee. Private landlord.”

Swanson is an old-fashioned quango man of the type devolution is supposed to have made extinct. But they’re still roaming the land. And thriving. Especially in areas where the Labour Party is weak in terms of local support and prefers to appoint such people rather than give power to non-Labour locals.

This is truly one of the more bizarre manifestations of patronage in the age of devolution.

As you can see from the Board of Management, Welsh involvement in MWH is kept to a minimum‘cos we Welsh is dull an’ can’t do nuffin for ourselves, innit’.

This is Englandandwales, folks. The only way out of this nightmare is independence.

To conclude, let me hypothesise that these multiple cock-ups at Mid Wales Housing are being allowed in order to justify someone in Corruption Bay deciding – as was done with Tai Cantref – that something must be done, and that ‘something’ means calling in ‘Welsh’ Labour’s elite troops in the form of Wales and West Housing.

CARTREFI CONWY, ASSOCIATES, CHINESE INVESTORS

But you mustn’t think that such machinations are confined to the southern parts of our benighted land. Because the story from the north that I’m about to relate is even more bizarre. Though you won’t be surprised to learn that it also involves Wales & West.

Let’s start with this recent story from the Daily Post for a new housing development on the A55 commuter/retirement corridor. Nothing surprising about that you might think, developers are forever looking to Wales to protect property values in the ‘Golden Triangle’.

It only begins to look odd when we start joining up the dots.

You’ll see in the news report that the company wanting to build these new houses is Calon Homes LLP. That is, Limited Liability Partnership, an opaque structure of a kind that would not be allowed in many countries. Now it looks as if even BoJo’s government is looking to clean things up a bit.

I particularly liked, “Legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2020 with retrospective and future effect to underline that LLPs are expected to follow the rules”. And about bloody time too!

So who are or what is Calon Homes LLP?

Calon Homes appeared in an article I wrote in November, when I looked at Cartrefi Conwy Cyf. (I urge you to read it.) But to cut a long story short . . . 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.

I don’t know if Mark Parry is related to Peter John Parry, the chairman of Creating Enterprise CIC, the Cartrefi Conwy subsidiary, it doesn’t really matter.

Peter John Parry seems to have joined Creating Enterprise CIC 31 August 2017. By which time his personal business career was already on the rocks, with a string of dissolved companies in 2017 and 2018. (Listed here.)

Calon Homes, jointly owned by Creating Enterprise CIC/Cartrefi Conwy Cyf and Brenig Developments Ltd, was Incorporated 12 May 2018. But just a month earlier Companies House registered Calon Developments Ltd. Among the directors at Calon Developments we see Mark Parry and Howard Vaughan, of the Brenig companies, and also Andrew Bowden, CEO of Cartrefi Conwy!

It is very unusual for the head honcho of a housing association to go into partnership with a private builder directly. The realisation that this don’t look good might explain why those involved with Calon Developments Ltd now want voluntary strike-off.

As if I haven’t introduced enough subsidiaries and partnerships and companies, I’m now going to introduce another. We’ve had Brenig Developments Ltd and Brenig Homes Ltd, but there’s a third company in the stable, and it’s Brenig Construction Ltd.

The latest (unaudited and abridged) accounts available – y/e 31 October 2018 – tell us that Brenig Construction had assets of £206,806. When we turn to the directors, we find, as expected, Parry and Vaughan . . . but also Yin Han, a citizen and resident of the People’s Republic of China. He joined the company 12 December 2019.

I’m sure that, like me, you’re wondering why a Chinese citizen would join a relatively small building firm in Denbighshire.

Perhaps because Parry and Vaughan have friends in high places within the Cartrefi Conwy group. Which might explain this report from last November that tells that “From a standing start in 2012, Brenig now employs 70 people directly and is turning over £11 million a year, with £21 million of work already secured in future contracts.”

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Though I’m having difficulty reconciling the claimed turnover with the figures available at Companies House for the three Brenig companies. Brenig Developments is filing as a dormant company and the other two don’t seem to be challenging Wimpey and Redrow.

But as I’ve found so often, when dealing with interlinked companies and bodies of often obscure construction, figuring out who does what, and where the money comes from, and where it goes, is often very difficult. Which is what makes such arrangements attractive for some.

But it seems we can identify one source of future income for Parry and Vaughan, and that’s our old friends Wales & West! The report comes complete with another pic of the smiling lads in hi viz jackets. With every reason to smile.

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If you sense fatigue creeping up due to the number of different companies I’ve already mentioned, I can only urge you to bear with me while I list a few more, because Mark Parry has been a busy boy.

Back in 2010 he and his mate Vaughan formed H & M Construction Solutions Ltd. But this outfit appeared to crash on take-off, because there is nothing filed with Companies House and this is all I can find.

Next up is Tai Beech Ltd, Incorporated 26 April 2013 and compulsorily struck off in November 2018. Parry and Vaughan were there at the start and saw it through.

Then – something of a departure this – there was Applejack Diners Ltd. Formed 28 November 2013 this company went belly-up 7 December 2016.

One Parry-Vaughan company still with us is Seel Plant Hire Ltd, Incorporated 5 August 2014. But as with the others we’ve looked at, the ‘Micro-entity accounts’ available for Seel Plant Hire do not suggest a company taking the world by storm. Perhaps the gentlest of zephyrs.

And yet, Parry and Vaughan are pulling in big contracts, and Chinese investors. What does it all mean?

Possibly, with CEO Andrew Bowden looking to retire, and Wales & West getting in on the act, Cartrefi Conwy may be the next to be swallowed up by ‘Welsh’ Labour’s favourite housing association.

WEAPONS GRADE BOLLOCKS

What we have been looking at here is a dysfunctional system

I say that because most people still believe that housing associations provide good rented accommodation for people who either can’t afford to buy or just prefer to rent. They do, but they are building very few new units of social rented housing, basing their claim to being social landlords on the stock most of them inherited from local authorities.

Since Registered Social Landlords were privatised by the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018, they have focused almost exclusively on building private housing.

And yet the pretence is maintained. Perhaps to ensure that they continue receiving public funding from the ‘Welsh Government’.

To help disguise their true business, our housing associations launch subsidiaries and go into partnership with private companies. In many cases to build housing not for any local demand but for pure profit. That is certainly what Wales & West and Cartrefi Conwy are planning along the A55.

Is this really how housing associations are supposed to operate? Is this how we want them to operate?

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Andrew Bowden, CEO of Cartrefi Conwy, said recently: “As a group, Cartrefi Conwy are looking to diversify to generate new income streams to further our affordable housing programme. 

“Until now, we’ve always been reliant on just rental income but, with the advent of austerity and things like Universal Credit, we had to think outside the box.

“Calon Homes will be building houses for market sale and we will be using our share of the profit for the benefit of local people to create more affordable housing.”

But why not use all the money to build affordable housing, rather than the much smaller amount that comes in the form of profit from open market housing? Though come to that, ‘affordable housing’ is yet another misnomer. It means open market housing, and I’ve seen houses costing £250,000 classed as ‘affordable’.

As for ‘new income streams’, Peter John Parry of Creating Enterprise CIC, has a background in running homes for very disturbed and often dangerous patients. This was one of his establishments. Will he be bringing clients down the A55, to add to the burden on the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, already in special measures? And the police workload?

For RSLs to defend themselves by saying that the open market housing is being built by subsidiaries – wholly-owned subsidiaries! – or partners, is unacceptable.

The system is out of control. It is operating against the Welsh national interest. The time has come to de-register most RSLs because they are private companies building open market housing and managing rented stock that in most cases was built by someone else. Restrict the ‘RSL’ label to groups and bodies building social rented housing for local people. Because that’s what ‘housing association’ is supposed to mean. And it’s what it should mean.

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Another clue telling us that the current system is broken is that local authorities have started building council housing again. Swansea and Cardiff are two examples.

Let me end on a lighter note . . . or maybe this will send you over the edge. Last Friday Community Housing Cymru – the umbrella body for RSLs – brought out a report claiming that its members, building 75,000 ‘affordable’ homes (that word again!) will put £23.2bn into the Welsh economy and create 50,000 jobs.

This is ‘think of a number, double it . . . ‘ economics. I’m surprised they didn’t also claim to have found a cure for Covid-19.

And because it was the purest and most unadulterated bullshit it was sad to see Martin Shipton at Llais y Sais write it up as if it was Gospel.

I’m now now wondering for which fiction award I should enter this gem. Because it’s certainly not meant to be taken seriously.

♦ end ♦

 

 

Miscellany 02.03.2020

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

I know I promised a piece on Wales & West Housing, but I’ve put that on the back burner because something has cropped up. And anyway, W&W is not going away. (Unfortunately.) So that will be my next post.

PLAID CYMRU KEEPS ON DIGGING

The previous post on this blog, Plaid Cymru’s new girl, was about Sonia Klein who, just a few months ago, was trying to be the Labour candidate for Ilford South in December’s general election. So she and her husband must have surprised many people with their decision to join Plaid Cymru.

Inevitably, Ms Klein was welcomed into Plaid Cymru by Leanne Wood.

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I say, ‘inevitably’, because Ms Klein ticks so many boxes for Plaid Cymru. She is a ‘strong woman’, she is BAME, and she is also a socialist.

Just a few days later it leaked out that Plaid Cymru had re-admitted Sahar Al-Faifi, who had also been welcomed into the Party by Leanne Wood. Ms Al-Faifi ticks the same boxes as Ms Klein.

There had been an outcry to Al-Faifi’s remarks about a number of incidents, including the London Bridge attacks, which led to Plaid Cymru – reluctantly – suspending her last November. But her suspension was brief, and she has been re-admitted and is hoping to stand for the Assembly.

Now members of the Jewish community have urged Plaid Cymru to rethink its position on Sahar Al-Faifi, but Plaid has responded by adopting the, ‘It was all a long time ago’ defence. Which is not going to work.

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Plaid Cymru is in this mess of its own making because despite Adam Price’s victory in the 2018 leadership contest, a contest in which Leanne Wood came a dismal third, it is still Wood’s supporters calling the shots in the party. So keep looking to the skies for more parachutists.

A number of long-time Plaid Cymru members who thought they were the agreed regional candidate for the 2021 election might be in for a nasty shock. Those who aren’t outed as fascist transphobes and closet Trump fans might be displaced by bearded ‘Olga’, formerly of the Bulgarian Workers and Peasants Alliance.

A very strong woman!

BRYN LLYS BACH

I’ve written a few times about the criminal gang who’ve taken over this site at Nebo, near Caernarfon.

Anyone wanting to catch up should go to this post from November, 2018, and the section ‘Rockin’ to the right’. Then, on to this post from January last year and scroll down to the section headed ‘Shane Baker “the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo” and Jonathan Duggan’.

That was followed by this post in July, scroll down to the section ‘Planners’. Next, this post from August, under ‘Gwynedd Planners’. The gang also gets a mention here, in December, in ‘Bryn Llys’. Finally here, last month, also under ‘Bryn Llys’.

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Not satisfied with exceeding planning permission to build an ‘extension’ that soon dwarfed the old house (which was then demolished), or with destroying trees and hedgerows, while continually threatening neighbours and trying to steal land, the gang has now gone a step further with arson and wasting police and fire brigade time.

Last Tuesday someone set an old Land Rover afire at Bryn Llys. It is reported that one of the gang, posing as a ‘passer-by’, phoned the fire service. A large machine was sent which could not negotiate the narrow track to Bryn Llys.

Which was the whole point of this act of arson, done in the hope of establishing that the access to Bryn Llys should be widened. Which would allow the crooks there to use large vehicles to bring in machinery and materials so they can move on to their plans for the rest of the site.

(I’m told that the chief fire officer from Caernarfon inspected the site some two years ago and stated that a ‘narrow access vehicle’ would attend any emergency at Bryn Llys. Maybe the word hadn’t been passed down the chain of command.)

The fire re-started on Wednesday and two fire engines and a police car attended.

I have been sent some images which are available below.

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Following these incidents a concerned local wrote to Plaid Cymru-controlled Gwynedd County Council, which has been reluctant to get involved throughout this sorry saga.

The council’s response said:

‘Thank you for your emails of the 25 and 26 February 2020 in respect of the above.

I acknowledge your concerns regarding vehicle fires at this site and note that these matters are being dealt with by the Fire Service as well as the Police.

Furthermore,  I would advise that the issue of illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales.

From the Council’s perspective, we have taken formal planning enforcement action with the service of enforcement notices for the various breaches of planning control at this site.  The Enforcement Notices relate to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, the temporary residential building and the unauthorised engineering works to create a track at the property.

The Council is currently undertaking prosecution proceedings for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, with the trial set for the 10 and 11 March 2020 in the Magistrates’ Courts, Llandudno. Furthermore, we are also considering further possible enforcement action for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the temporary residential building.

With regards to the Enforcement Notice for the unauthorised access track works, an appeal against this notice has recently been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (Welsh Government). There is a prescribed procedure for planning enforcement appeals, which includes public consultation and there will therefore be an opportunity for you and any other interested parties to provide representations as part of this process which will commence shortly.

From the Council’s perspective, I consider that we are taking the appropriate enforcement action in accordance with what the legislation allows us to do in respect of breaches of planning control.’

I’m not sure what to make of this. I suppose it’s reassuring to know that these crooks will be in court in a week or so, but there’s no mention of action for exceeding planning permission with the monstrosity that’s been built, nor for demolishing the old house.

Also reassuring, I suppose, to read that the police are involved regarding the fire, but then we read, ” . . . illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales”. 

‘Illegal disposal’, be buggered! This was a calculated act of arson that could have had serious consequences. It certainly resulted in the police and the fire service having to attend – twice! – when I’m sure there were other things they could have been doing.

And now we learn that the Planning Inspectorate is involved. A body that almost always works against Welsh interests (hand-in-glove with a complaisant ‘Welsh Government’). Whether it’s demanding new houses in Wrecsam for Cheshire commuters, or overruling Swansea council to allow more HMOs.

Given the record of the Planning Inspectorate in Wales, we can assume that it will side with the English criminals at Bryn Llys.

So who exactly are they?

Ensconced at or near Bryn Llys we find Jonathan James Duggan, Shane Baker and Aaron Hill. Duggan’s father is a ‘professional fraudster’ who was jailed for six years in July, 2006. He’s back in prison after being tracked down on Ynys Môn a while back. Bryn Llys was raided around the same time.

Baker is said to be related to Duggan, and it was him who got me interested in Bryn Llys by responding to a tweet of mine. When Baker’s not fooling himself about his musical abilities he’s mumbling ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’ in crowd scenes.

Click to enlarge

Politically, as the Twitter image suggests, Baker’s very much a BritNat, and a Tommy Robinson fan, who may regard Wales as a colony to be exploited by the insular branch of the herrenvolk.

It’s difficult to know where and how Aaron Hill fits, but he certainly made no effort to fit in with the locals when he lived in Caernarfon. Hill’s a property developer, a species far too prevalent in Wales.

What a trio. The fraudster son of a professional fraudster, a Little Englander, and a property developer with a persecution complex. Though there’s one other gang member worth mentioning.

Andrew Battye owns Bryn Llys, and the land adjoining. Or rather, that’s what it says on the Land Registry title documents I’ve just linked to. And it’s what I used to believe, but I’m no longer so sure.

Refer back to the 2006 conviction of Duggan senior and we see that he owed at least £547,000, gained by fraud. This is the Duggan family business model.

Because if we look at the Companies House records for Battye and Duggan in recent years we see the same pattern. (Available here in pdf format with working links to Companies House entries.)

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From what I can see, Duggan and Battye, either acting together or working alone, formed double glazing companies, these companies set up credit accounts with suppliers; goods were received, not paid for, and sold; then the companies folded.

However we got here, this farce has been allowed to run for long enough. Let’s hope the curtain starts coming down in Llandudno magistrates court next week. And then it would be nice to see GogPlod take it beyond planning matters to feel a few collars for fraud, arson, wasting police and fire service time, threatening neighbours, damaging hedgerows, felling mature trees, etc.

Things have got this far due to the inaction over recent years of the local planning department. The planning department that said a teacher couldn’t build a home when she couldn’t afford to buy in Wilmslow-sur-Mer (Abersoch). The planning department that has allowed criminals from England to do whatever they liked at Bryn Llys. That this planning department has moved at all is due to pressure from bullied neighbours demanding action.

‘WOODMAN, SPARE THAT TREE!’

The recent floods have inevitably been attributed to global warming or climate change by most of the mainstream media and all the bien pensants of the left. Being the heretic I am on such matters I dared posit an alternative view.

Which runs thus . . . yes, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past few weeks but might wind turbines be contributing to the serious flooding in places that have previously been less badly affected?

Two areas in particular brought these thoughts to mind, our Valleys and the areas in England close to the River Severn.

Because – and you can call me old-fashioned, or even uninformed – I’m suggesting that we cannot fell millions of trees on our hills, wreck absorbent peat bogs, then, in their place, plonk dozens or hundreds of wind turbines, and not expect more rainwater to run into the rivers below those hills.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, the picture below shows the size of the concrete bowl required by a single wind turbine. These are the pictures you’re not supposed to see. You, Dai Public, are expected to feel a warm, planet-saving glow from seeing gently turning turbines on some distant crest.

Click to enlarge

And remember! each turbine is linked by an access road, giving a network of such roads on a wind farm. And each turbine has to be connected to the grid, which requires another network, this time of trenches.

So what was once a hillside covered in moss and peat absorbing rainwater, and trees sequestering CO2, has been destroyed to make an industrial site off which the water runs into the valleys below. And this has all been done in the name of the environment, of ‘saving the planet’!

A old mate of mine back home – a known trouble-maker – decided to find out how many trees had been cut to make way for wind turbines, and so he submitted an FoI to Natural Resources Wales. The response was startling. (It can be read in full here.)

Here’s an abstract.

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First, bear in mind that NRW can only tell us what trees were felled on land for which it is responsible, the former Forestry Commission estate, which only accounts for 40% of Wales’ woodland. Yet it still comes to over 2.5 million trees felled. Three-quarters of a million of them for the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, owned by Swedish company Vattenfall, which towers over a number of Valleys communities

You’ll see that NRW has nothing to say for Powys, which has seen so much wind farm development in recent years. This is because the woodlands there are privately owned. And yet, the Severn rises on Pumlumon, not far from the Cefn Croes wind farm (owned by an Italian company), and then it runs through Newtown and Welshpool to join the Vyrnwy and cross the border just a bun throw from Elsie’s Vintage Tea Room & Pie Parlour.

So the Powys wind farms must put a great deal of extra water into the Severn. And this almost certainly contributed something to the recent severe flooding downstream in towns such as Ironbridge.

And now we hear of yet another major development of 22 turbines planned for Powys, this one by French company EDF, at Garn Fach, between the A470 and the A483. I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘Welsh Government’ handle this one.

The project has, predictably, been welcomed by Rhys Wyn Jones of  RenewableUK Cymru. (Cos that’s his job!) But this article, quoting local politicians, hints at mounting opposition to the ongoing exploitation of the local landscape.

And what does the Woodland Trust have to say – will it allow EDF to chop down its trees at Garn Fach? Perhaps Woodland Trust is one of the landowners to benefit if this project goes ahead?

It seems to me that the eco-zealots need to pause, and do some hard thinking.

On the one hand they urge us to plant trees – even proposing to throw Welsh farmers off their land – because this would be good for the environment.

But it’s OK to fell millions of trees in Wales to make way for wind turbines . . . which almost certainly contribute to flooding. Flooding that will then be blamed on global warming/climate change, so the eco-zealots will insist on erecting more wind turbines . . . for which more trees will be felled and more peat bog lost . . . resulting in more flooding . . . .

I may not be 100% right on this, I rarely am, but I will say this with confidence: when it comes to the recent floods, then wind turbines are the elephant in the room.

CROSSBOW MURDER

I’m sure that many of you have been following this case on Ynys Môn. I certainly have. If you’re new to the case, then read this article from Saturday’s Wasting Mule.

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There was never any doubt that Terence Whall was guilty and that he was going down for life. The real questions remain:

  • What was the motive for Terence Whall killing Gerald Corrigan?
  • What is Whall’s background in East London/Essex and what brought him to Ynys Môn?
  • What was the true role of Whall’s associates, the locals, in this case?
  • Is this murder just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as has been suggested to me?
  • Is this conviction the end of the case as far as North Wales Police is concerned?

If we had a functioning media we could rely on it to chase down the facts, the background to this murder, but we don’t have a media.

If we did, they might wonder why Gerald Corrigan’s children needed to give evidence from behind a screen protecting their identities. The man who killed their father is going down for at least 31 years, so who are they afraid of? Or from whom do the police think they need to be protected?

The last time I remember evidence being given from behind a screen in a Welsh courtroom was in the early 1990s, and then it was MI5 operatives in a trial of Welsh nationalists accused of sending letter bombs.

If anyone wants to send me information relating to this case then they are welcome to do so. I promise not to divulge any source.

END OF FARMING?

Another subject I’ve written about more than once is the plan to gradually remove farmers from the land so that George Monbiot and his friends can take over the Welsh countryside with their ‘rewilding’ projects. (Just type ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box at the top of the sidebar.)

The colonialist arrogance displayed by those involved with the Summit to Sea project generated a very hostile response from farmers and others, which in turn led to funders pulling out.

But this respite might be short-lived if recent reports are to be believed.

We always knew that Monbiot and his gang had the backing of the ‘Welsh Government’ which, being Labour, hates country-dwellers in general, and farmers in particular, believing that rural Wales should accept its designated fate as a recreation and retirement area for England.

Now it appears that they have support much higher up the political food chain. This article’s heading says it all: ‘War of the wild: How trendy metropolitan eco-zealots with close ties to Boris Johnson are set on driving out traditional farming and ‘rewilding’ the land’.

And in case anyone didn’t get the message, it was soon followed up with this . . .

Click to enlarge

Yes, I know, the left and the eco-zealots will say, ‘Ah! but it’s the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday’. To which I would respond – Grow up! If the facts hold up it doesn’t matter if the story originated in Völkischer Beobachter or the Plovdiv Marrow Growers Weekly.

The Mail titles are most definitely Conservative-supporting papers, which I suggest adds to their credibility in this instance.

Some of the arguments put forward in support of doing away with farming are quite hilarious. One ‘expert’ cites Singapore, arguing that it is prosperous without a farming sector. But Singapore is a bloody city-state of just 725.7 square kilometres and almost six million people. (Wales is 20,735 square kilometres and 3.2 million people.)

And then we read “Ben Goldsmith, for his part, caused fury among farmers this week by tweeting that ‘overgrazing’ by upland sheep farmers — rather than near-record rainfall — was responsible for the devastating floods suffered in South Wales.”

Ben Goldsmith is the brother of Zac Goldsmith, a big mate of Boris Johnson. Zac Goldsmith is also an environment minister.

Read who else is involved and a picture might emerge.

If farming is phased out it will be small farmers, and the family farm, that disappear. Big landowners will thrive, snapping up the farms made unviable by the decisions made by their friends and relatives in the government.

And of course we’ll see more wind turbines and other idiocies cheered on by the eco-zealots – but making fortunes in government subsidies for the very same people who’ll benefit from the destruction of Welsh farming.

Think about it, we have here what at first sight might appear to be two distinct groups – the environmentalists and the Conservative grandees. Surely, they should be on opposite sides? No.

If there’s money to be made then these members of the English upper-middle class, who know each other from school and university, Wimbledon and Henley; who move and marry within the same circles, will stick together.

The external enemies remain the same, and there’s not much we can do but resist them. But we can certainly remove the toadies in Corruption Bay who are so ready to do their masters’ bidding.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 17.02.2020

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

A bit of a mixed bag this week; the unifying thread being the stupidity of those puffed-up buffoons down Cardiff docks who want to be seen as the ‘Welsh Government’.

SOCIAL HOUSING, OR IS IT?

To kick off, I am indebted to the meticulous and conscientious Wynne Jones, who is a great source for ‘Welsh Government’ wrongdoing and local cock-ups down Cardigan way. For it’s in the fair town of Aberteifi that we start.

With Cardigan Hospital, which was built and long sustained by the donations and goodwill of people in the town and surrounding area. But now it’s deemed surplus to the requirements of Hywel Dda University Health Board and the building is to be handed over to one of Labour’s favourite housing associations, Wales and West.

Though the lack of openness has not gone down well locally. The sale to Wales and West seems to be a done deal, yet the details are vague in the extreme. When Wynne asked for information on the quoted ‘open market valuation’ the response to his FoI said that it, er, hadn’t actually been done . . . but they were working on it, sort of.

Clearly, this is a deal done behind closed doors in the glorious traditions of the Labour Party. And not for the first time; for since taking over Tai Cantref, of Castell Newydd Emlyn, Wales and West has been flexing its muscles in the area.

And while it may be headquartered in Cardiff Wales and West, fittingly, also has an office in Labour’s last remaining Westminster constituency in the north, at Ewloe on Deeside.

The latest news is that a drop-in session has been organised for the end of this month in which, according to the Tivy-side Advertiser, “The people of Cardigan will be asked for their views on how best to use the site of the former Cardigan Hospital”.

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According to the article W&W is still in talks with Hywel Dda Health Authority over buying the hospital. So if it still owns the hospital why isn’t Hywel Dda organising the public consultation?

All pretence goes out the window later in the article when Wales and West bigwigs explain what they plan to do . . . with the building they haven’t yet bought!

Group CEO Anne Hinchey, the wife of Cardiff Labour councillor Graham Hinchey, makes a contribution. Also quoted is her deputy, Shane Hembrow, who for reasons best known to himself cultivates the look of a villain out of a Victorian melodrama. (Who will rescue poor Nell?)

All joking aside, social housing is now in crisis.

Many will recall the campaigns persuading council house tenants to agree to stock transfers, so that housing associations could take over. Most Welsh councils lost their housing stock in this way to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).

Which gave us dozens of housing associations, spending hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, competing with each other, and swallowing each other up. Having the ear of the Labour Party in this dog-eat-dog environment was always an advantage.

All this was threatened when, towards the end of 2016, the Office for National Statistics dropped a bombshell by announcing that RSLs would in future be classed as public bodies.

Click to enlarge

This was bad news all round. For it would have meant that RSLs’ debts would have gone onto the UK Government’s books. Putting them in the public sector might also have resulted in more openness, perhaps making housing associations subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This unwelcome outcome was avoided by fresh legislation in England and the devolved administrations. For Wales, it came in the form of the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018.

Which resulted in RSLs becoming private bodies, but still in receipt of public funding! If they hadn’t already done so then they set up subsidiaries – unregulated offshoots building homes for sale on the open market, often using public money siphoned from the parent company.

The justification for building houses and flats to be sold in this way was that the money made would be transferred to the parent body for it to build more social housing.

It was a lie.

Just think about. If Tai Cwmscwt has a spare £5m why ‘lend’ it to a subsidiary and get back a percentage when it could have spent the whole £5m on social housing. And if there’s no demand for social housing then obviously Tai Cwmscwt is over-funded.

The truth is that very little of the money made by the subsidiaries of privatised RSLs is used to build social housing. Most of it goes back into building more private housing. In rural and coastal areas this housing isn’t even intended to meet a Welsh demand. It’s simple profiteering, building properties to be used as holiday and retirement homes, or sold to ‘investors’.

All of which results in a shortfall in social housing in many areas. Which is why Swansea council has started building council houses again. In the article I’ve linked to you’ll see that “four registered social housing landlords are planning to build 4,000 affordable homes across the county over the next 10 years”.

This is another lie.

‘Affordable’ is a meaningless term used by politicians and others that can cover properties costing £300,000. And as I’ve explained, the now privatised RSLs will be building open market housing not social housing.

Cardiff council also plans to build council houses. Other local authorities are doing the same.

We are obviously at a crossroads in the provision of social housing, by which I mean properties available for local people at rents they can afford.

The biggest asset for many private housing associations, the income from which helps fund the private building spree, is the stock of housing that was transferred from a local authority. (Or in the case of Mid Wales Housing, the Development Board for Rural Wales.)

Should these stock transfers stay with what are now private companies?

Let’s end with a few questions:

  • What is the future role of the now privatised RSLs?
  • Will the ‘Welsh Government’ continue to fund private RSLs?
  • With RSLs concentrating on private developments how does the ‘Welsh Government’ plan to provide an adequate supply of good quality rented social housing at affordable rents?
  • If the rented social housing role is to revert to local authorities, will the ‘Welsh Government’ arrange to return the housing stock lost in stock transfers?

OLD DEFENSIBLE BARRACKS REVISITED

The week before last I published a couple of pieces looking at the purchase of the Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock, which I believe links to similar sites in England and Northern Ireland that have been bought by the same Singapore-based investors.

Read them here: Old Defensible Barracks and Old Defensible Barracks 2.

My view is that the three sites – all close to ferry ports – have been bought in anticipation of the need, with increased border checks, for large areas where lorries and other vehicles can be parked while waiting for those checks to be done.

Since writing the second of those pieces I’ve updated it, and further information has come to light, hence this third piece.

First, after Old Defensible Barracks 2 went out 5 February the Western Mail ran a full-page spread on the 11th. (Here in pdf format.)

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Obviously this article was a press hand-out because when the journalist tried to add a personal touch she located the barracks in Milford Haven not Pembroke Dock.

Since writing those pieces I’ve spoken to one of the previous owners, who had an interesting tale to tell.

The barracks went up for auction last summer with Allsop. A few parties showed interest but no sale resulted. Instead, Allsop themselves produced a mystery buyer. Which perhaps explains the ‘Sold after’ caption you see below.

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The vendor had no idea who the buyer was, but the sale went through 22 August and the money was in the bank. You’ll recall that despite the passage of six months since the sale the title document at the Land Registry still showed the previous owners.

So I went back to the Land Registry website on Saturday thinking that the recent attention the barracks had been getting might have jolted the new owners into registering their purchase. But no, for the title document is still in the name of the local owners.

Why this reluctance to tell us who now owns this property?

As I’ve said, the theory that I and a few others have, is that the barracks themselves are simply a ‘lever’ to something else, probably land nearby that could serve as a lorry park. But then, last week, another possibility was thrown into the mix – that the Milford Haven Waterway is destined to host one of the promised freeports.

Either option makes sense, and ties in with the Singapore investors at the three sites we looked at in the earlier pieces. For not only is Singapore home to many Asian ferry companies it is also the biggest freeport in the world.

In addition to the investors who are probably native to Singapore we found Trevor Iain Walker, said to be resident there. Whether he is or not is a moot point, Companies House just accepts what it’s told.

Then, comments to the earlier pieces directed me to a US site where we encounter Walker again. And it’s definitely him.

In addition to the UK listed companies there are two more, both registered in Florida. Muniment LLC shares its name with a number of Walkers’s UK companies. The other company, Audica Properties LLC, seems to have been started by Walker in 2014 and then, last year, he was joined by Robin Lim Siew Cheong, who could be another Singaporean investor.

Cheong also has his own US company in Robindra Properties LLC, formed last year.

The picture in Pembroke Dock isn’t clear yet, but these Singapore investors haven’t rocked up to enjoy the view of Neyland. Something is planned for the Dock and it links with Brexit. I suggest it’s either a lorry park or a freeport. Maybe both.

Watch this space!

∼♦∼

THE GREEN ENERGY RIP-OFF

Because of my slant on certain issues some people think I’m opposed to renewable energy, or that I’m a climate change denier. The truth is that I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy – as long as it’s reliable and reasonably cheap; and I’m more of a sceptic than a denier when it comes to climate change.

But I am unequivocal in my hostility to charlatans and shysters, crooks and con men, who come to Wales to rip us off.

Recent examples of the Green energy rip-off you would have found on this blog were the wind turbines at Bryn Blaen that haven’t turned in two years (but still make money for the hedge fund that owns them), and the English-owned, Czech-built hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn that has offered locals a derisory £1,000 a year in ‘community benefit’.

Rhandirmwyn hydro scheme. Click to enlarge

I suppose the basic problem is that Wales has many rivers and streams suitable for hydro projects, and countless hills that will attract those who erect wind turbines. Even so, these natural assets need not lead to us being exploited.

The exploitation happens because virtue-signalling politicians are desperate to show the world that little Wales is playing its part in saving the planet.

It is this desperation to get a pat on the head that opens the gates to the shysters.

HOLYHEAD DEEP

Our next report takes up the coast from Pembroke Dock to another ferry port, at Holyhead, where a northern source suggests I take a look at a company in receipt of mucho dinero from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.

The company in question is Minesto, a Swedish company hoping to generate electricity from underwater ‘kites’. Here’s the company website.

There we read:

Click to enlarge

Certainly, the company has a presence in Sweden, because that’s where it’s based. Obviously, I can’t speak for Taiwan.

In Ireland the company’s existence was brief, perhaps no more than a separate listing for the company registered in England and Wales. And yet, according to the Minesto website and other sources the project at Strangford Lough is still running, so how is it being funded?

The sole director of Minesto UK Ltd is Martin Johan Edlund, with Goodwille Ltd serving as secretary. Goodwille takes its name from director George Alexander James Goodwille. The Swedish connection is maintained at Goodwille by director Svante Lennart Stensson Adde.

Before getting into the figures I’d just like to explore the linkages behind Minesto.

Let’s go back to the ‘About us’ panel above. It says that Minesto was founded in 2007 as a spin-off from Saab. That may have been what happened in Sweden, but Minesto UK Ltd was born in June 2008 when Keyrad Ltd, a company formed in 1996, changed its name.

The panel also says, “Main owners are BGA Invest and Midroc New Technology. The Minesto share is listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market in Stockholm.” Telling us that Minesto is wholly owned back in Sweden.

The Midroc link also suggests the underwater kite system belongs to that company.

If we go back to the Minesto website and the Projects tab, there we find Holyhead Deep, the name of Minesto’s Welsh venture. (There’s also a dormant company called Holyhead Deep Ltd, at the same Holyhead address, with the same Martin Edlund as the sole director.)

This website page explains why Minesto came to Wales: “Numerous locations around the UK were considered, but Wales was selected as the preferred option due to the highly suitable environmental conditions and government commitment to marine renewable energy, which offers significant opportunities to attract support and investment into the Holyhead project.”

To cut through the bullshit – the attraction was gullible politicians and easy money. With the panel below making clear that it’s already up to €27.9m.

A total of 27.9m Euros. Click to enlarge.

The extract below from the latest accounts would appear to show that Minesto UK Ltd is entirely dependent on ‘Welsh Government’ funding. I’m surprised there’s no money coming from Sweden. Because I guarantee that – as with Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in the south – any profits will speed their way back to Sweden.

Click to enlarge

So here’s the question – does this investment provide tangible benefits for Ynys Môn and for Wales, or are our politicians paying, yet again, to have their egos massaged and their planet-saving credentials burnished?

  • With £23m+ handed over or promised, how many jobs have been created for local, Welsh people?
  • Given that the owners of Minesto UK Ltd are Swedish, and the patent for the technology is held by a Swedish company, what benefits will accrue to Wales if the technology proves successful?
  • And if it fails, the Swedes walk away without having lost anything while Wales is £23m+ out of pocket.
  • Is funding from Wales being diverted to the Minesto project in Northern Ireland?
  • Are there no better ways to have used £23m+ on Ynys Môn for the benefit of local communities?

UPDATE: My attention has been drawn to one of the logos at the foot of the Minesto website, the one for Horizon 2020  “. . . the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract.”

So where is the ‘private investment’ in Minesto UK Ltd? Is Welsh EU funding being used in place of the private money?

LAST WORD

As I said earlier, I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy schemes, but they must be of benefit to Wales. But unfortunately they rarely are. Worse, much of what we experience could be viewed as colonialism for the 21st century.

Think of the massive wind farms such as Pen y Cymoedd (or the hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn) and the pittances offered to locals in compensation. It reminds me of Europeans in Africa or the Americas giving beads to ‘primitives’ in return for their assets or their land. Now we Welsh are the exploited primitives.

Yet we are supposed to welcome it because we’re saving the planet!

Those clowns in Corruption Bay, and their Westminster allies, who sold us short on water, and HS2, who talk Wales down and short-change us at every opportunity, must learn that people get angry when they see money squandered on virtue signalling.

I have a feeling they’ll be getting the message loud and clear in next year’s Assembly elections.

 ♦ end ♦

 

Wales, the unmourned death of devolution

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

In this post I’m going to look at the latest YouGov for ITV/Cardiff University poll. There’s a clue to where we’re going in the title of this piece.

Obviously I’ll focus on devolution, so it makes sense to remind ourselves why we have devolution. Younger readers especially should stick with it because they might learn something.

Then I shall move on to consider what we do now that devolution has come to the end of the line.

INNOVATION DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO

Devolution did not come about following a period of political upheaval or unrest, there was no ‘Nation on the March’. Devolution was thrust upon Wales because it served the interests of the Labour Party. Later, even the Conservatives could see benefits in maintaining a management team in Cardiff docks.

To understand the genesis of devolution we need to go back to the Conservative and Unionist Party led by Margaret Thatcher coming to power in May 1979. Under her leadership the party was re-elected in 1983 and again in 1987. Even after she was deposed in November 1990 the party went on to win the 1992 general election led by John Major.

Major’s victory was a surprise to most people, including many Conservatives. But none were as shocked as the Labour Party – who can forget Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s triumphalism at the now famous Sheffield rally.

Mr and Mrs Kinnock were compensated for this and other embarrassments, first by being shunted off to Brussels (where he served as Commissioner and she as MEP), and more recently to the House of Lords. But they remain committed to the struggle against privilege and inequality.

The old socialist tactic of ‘fighting the system from within’. ‘Well, all right!’ Click to enlarge

Each year of Tory rule made devolution more attractive to the Labour Party’s hierarchy . . . based of course on the assumption that a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly would always have Labour majorities.

The thinking was that devolution would give Labour two redoubts when not in power at Westminster. With many also believing that devolution would defeat the nationalists in both countries. George Robertson, Labour’s Defence Secretary and NATO General Secretary, believed back then that devolution, ‘will kill nationalism stone dead.

How wrong he was, certainly about his native Scotland.

The point to remember here is that devolution was introduced by the Labour Party to serve the interests of the Labour Party. What might be best for Scotland and Wales did not enter into Labour’s thinking.

When the Tories came back to power in Westminster in 2010 they were faced with two very different situations in Scotland and Wales.

The SNP had been in government in Scotland since 2007 and any attempt to remove powers from Holyrood, or do away with devolution entirely, could have made a mildly annoying situation a lot more difficult. Whereas in Wales there was a coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru, which meant that Wales was ‘secure’, she could be ignored.

THE POLL

The results that were released a week or so ago covered a wide range of questions. Most attention has focused on two findings; the percentage wanting independence and the percentage wanting to do away with devolution altogether. Here are the full findings.

The figures quoted tend to vary so I’ll go with this WalesOnline piece by Ruth Molaski. And that’s where the figures below come from.

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Though the figure in favour of independence is claimed to reach 27% when don’t knows are omitted and other adjustments made. Applying the same refinements it’s claimed that 33% would vote to abolish the Assembly were they given the chance in a referendum.

As Wrecsam Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper says in this Nation.Cymru piece these figures point to “a polarisation of views amongst Welsh voters”. Which I suppose it does, at first sight. But looking at them from another angle what appear to be polar opposites do in fact agree – they reject devolution.

Due to many factors, including Brexit.

I’ve argued – from the time I voted for Brexit – that a difficult and damaging Brexit, resulting in Scotland leaving the UK and Ireland reuniting, will force on Wales the choice between being trapped in Englandandwales and considering independence.

In fact, that was one of the reasons that I voted for Brexit.

Given the impact events in Scotland could have on Wales I was surprised by the way the question below was framed in the poll.

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Surely, it should have tried to establish whether Scotland becoming independent would make Welsh people more likely to support the independence option? So why the obtuse question about positive or negative – are we talking about batteries?

As it’s worded, I would obviously answer ‘very positive’. Whereas a BritNat would answer ‘very negative’. But we would be saying the same thing in that we agree Scottish independence will increase the chances of Welsh independence. But the findings, as they’re displayed, don’t show that.

Why wasn’t the question better worded?

A SYSTEM NOT DESIGNED TO DELIVER NOT DELIVERING

In her article Carrie Harper says that there is a feeling in the north east that ‘Cardiff doesn’t care’. I can tell her that this sentiment is not restricted to her home patch – it’s the same in Swansea, the Valleys, Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire, Powys.

In economic terms devolution has failed every part of Wales but Cardiff.

And yet, we keep electing Assembly Members to represent us who promise the earth, then they go down to Cardiff . . . and perpetuate this Cardiff-centric system. They betray us every time, no matter where we live and no matter which party we vote for.

One reason Cardiff’s done well out of devolution is because it’s used as a ‘showcase’. Visiting dignitaries, politicians, entertainers, rugby and football fans, etc, go no further than Cardiff. They see the investment, the cranes on the skyline and think, ‘Oh! devolution must be working for Wales’.

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Using Cardiff as a showcase city, to give a false impression of prosperity and progress, is symptomatic of a more general problem with the ‘Welsh Government’, that of show over substance. At it’s worst, it’s virtue signalling. But it’s not confined to the Labour Party.

Looking at the self-styled ‘progressive’ parties – Labour, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems – I see parties playing to a gallery made up of a tiny minority within Wales and a much bigger audience outside of Wales with which that minority identifies.

What I mean is, giving a vote to the toe-rag doing time for robbing your Nan might get favourable column inches in the Guardian but Dai Public doesn’t support it and it does sod all to improve his life.

The ‘Welsh Government’ has declared a climate emergency. Of course it won’t make any difference on a global scale, not when Japan is planning to build 22 coal-burning power stations, and China many more. It’s not even as if the ‘Welsh Government’ takes its own declaration seriously, because if it did it would organise a functioning system of public transport, and it wouldn’t be funding Aston Martin to come here to make cars with gas-guzzling V12 engines.

But Aston Martin is more likely to go bust than it is to set up in Wales. It will join a long, long list of failed investments, money wasted, by politicians who know nothing about business and are terrified of Wales having a successful indigenous economy because it would lose them votes and give the natives the wrong ideas.

So we are served up empty rhetoric and futile gestures.

Not only do the ‘progressive’ parties ignore the interests of Welsh people but very often they introduce ‘Ooh look at us – aren’t we virtuous’ legislation that actually works against the interests of Wales.

For example, people entering care homes in Wales can keep £50,000 before they have to start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500. This is one reason that Wales sees an influx of retirees and elderly people from England adding to the burden on our NHS. Our ‘progressives’ would like to do away entirely with care home charges.

Money to fund this generosity must come from other budgets; which helps explain why our infrastructure is so poor, why our kids don’t get the education they deserve.

But now the ‘Welsh Government’ wants to punish us even more by introducing a tax to help fund care for the elderly and disabled . . . many of whom have been attracted to Wales by the £50,000 limit, free prescriptions and other gestures.

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Abolishing care home fees will result in an epidemic of granny dumping, they’ll be queuing at the border. It will be a disaster because the ‘progressives’ will not introduce a residency qualification to stop the system being abused. That would be ‘discriminatory’. (Truth is, they’re terrified of headlines in the Sun and the Daily Mail reading ‘Welsh bastards discriminate against our brave grannies . . . Dunkirk . . . Vera Lynn . . . )

And to expose how damaging devolution is, the Conservatives and the Brexit Party would support this economic insanity because they rely on the Invasion of the Wrinklies (PG) to provide much of their support.

You have to conclude that any administration planning to introduce a tax on a poor people to subsidise richer people moving to their country must hold the electorate of that poor country in utter contempt.

Another reason Wales is poor and badly run is because of the power of the third sector. Here in Wales – uniquely – the third sector has a role in government. The Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which serves as the umbrella body for the third sector, and operates almost as a department of the ‘Welsh Government’, is quite open about its role.

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This is why Wales has the biggest third sector on Earth, filled with leeching luvvies pulling down huge salaries to ‘combat’ problems they’ll never solve because it would put them out of a job; and to ensure they have enough ‘clients’ they import many of them from England.

The third sector coupled with Wales’ colonial relationship with England explains why the towns of the north coast have the biggest drugs rehabilitation industry in the known world.

Thanks to organisations such as Cais Ltd, based in Llandudno, which owns a number of properties, and is funded to the tune of £2.9m a year by the Wales European Funding Office . . . then there’s £1.6m from the NHS, £1.7m from local authorities, and a few million from other sources.

The Cais entry on the Charity Commission website says under the Documents tab that this company operates in ‘Wales And The Marches’. But the map found under the Operations tab tells the truth.

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Money given to Wales by the EU to raise standards is being used to further lower standards by importing drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and God knows what else from north west England.

The driving principle of devolution seems to be using Wales for the benefit of just about everybody but the Welsh.

That’s why we have wind turbines that don’t turn, and hydro schemes that locals aren’t allowed to know anything about‘Saving the planet, innit’.

‘Rural initiatives’ mean tasteless and culturally damaging tourism developments, zip wires and the like. Or else it’s turfing Welsh farmers off their ancestral land at the behest of George Monbiot and his cohorts with the Summit to Sea scam aka ‘Lebensraum for Guardian readers’.

The ‘Welsh Government’ pushes through housing developments that Wales doesn’t need, funds housing associations many of which prefer not to have Welsh tenants, and does nothing while Welsh communities die when every property that comes up for sale is bought as a holiday or retirement home.

Wales is being turned into a retirement and recreation area for England, a dumping ground for England’s problems, and the pot of gold at rainbow’s end for every crook and shyster looking to make easy money.

But nothing is ever done for the Welsh.

Our politicians are insulated from the system they oversee by hiding away in Cardiff Bay, a world unto itself, hermetically sealed from reality. Where truth is whatever the third sector or the lobbyists decide best serves their interests.

An ugly place where reputations can be destroyed. And men. A cess-pit of corruption and treachery Wales can no longer afford.

AT THE CROSSROADS

There is nothing to be said in favour of devolution. After twenty years it should be obvious to all that it has failed the Welsh nation on every conceivable level. Yes, I talk of a nation; because without it there is no Wales.

Of course the Labour Party is largely to blame, but things would be no better with Plaid Cymru in control. If anything, things would be worse; for not only is Plaid Cymru further to the left than Labour, it has also been infiltrated by ‘woke’ lunatics.

Wales needs new political parties, fresh faces, and a whole new approach to running this country. No more virtue signalling, no more niche politics, no more identity politics, no more pretending that caving in to hedge funds is ‘saving the planet’, and no more ‘influence’ from the third sector.

What I’ve always said about devolution is now the accepted view of a majority of Welsh people, as the poll showed. The only question is which course we take from here. There are only two real options.

As I’ve already said, after Scottish independence and Irish reunification we can either submit to Englandandwales or else we go for independence. Devolution is dead. Nobody killed it, nobody needed to kill it, it destroyed itself.

Few will mourn its passing.

Time to get our people thinking about independence, and to do that we must have political parties grounded in the real world, in Welsh communities, determined to serve those communities and this nation of communities. These new parties must be ready to contest the 2021 Assembly elections.

And the more the merrier. Because with four or five Unionist parties run from London, and Plaid Cymru having such a narrow appeal, independence was impossible to achieve. Let’s broaden the appeal and shift the focus of debate away from London and the UK so that independence becomes the issue in Wales as it is in Scotland.

From now on Welsh politics must be about Wales, and the Welsh people. Let’s offer our people a real choice. No more, ‘What Unionist party should I vote for?’ but instead, ‘Which of the independence parties shall I choose?’

Spread the word! Devolution is dead! It’s time to move on!

♦ end ♦

 

Old Defensible Barracks 2

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 suggested in the previous post that something odd may be going on in Pembroke Dock. There is, and I’m now convinced that it’s not restricted to Pembroke Dock; for something very similar seems to be happening across the water, in Country Antrim.

If you haven’t yet read the previous article, then do so now, otherwise you’ll struggle to make sense of this one.

MAGHERAMORNE CEMENT WORKS

In addition to Trevor Iain Walker and his Singaporean associates we also met Alfred William Buller in the previous article. To quickly recap, Alfie, as he is known, lives at Scarva House, County Down, which stages the annual Sham Fight between King James and King William (the latter having stopped at Scarva on his way to the Boyne in 1690).

Buller only entered the narrative tangentially because Walker came to control one of Buller’s many companies (but without becoming a director). This company was Brigstock Campsite Ltd. But now I learn – from Brychan Davies, who comments regularly on this blog – that there is another connection, if not with Walker himself, then certainly with the kind of Singaporean financiers Walker works with or represents.

The connection is found in Magheramorne Park Ltd, a company that bought an old Blue Circle cement works and quarry in County Antrim. You’ll have seen that the company was Incorporated 6 December 2016 and the two directors were Alfred William Buller and Alfred William Buller, who I assume are father and son. (Which is what the birth dates suggest.)

Magheramorne cement works and jetty. Image courtesy of Trip Advisor. Click to enlarge

The Bullers were joined as directors 15 September 2017 by Eugene Aw and Yee Hung Lim, both of Singapore. They represent Oddball Ventures Pte Ltd of Singapore. Not only that, but they also came bearing a gift in the form of a loan or mortgage on “the land known as the former Magheramorne cement works”. 

This loan or mortgage comes courtesy of GSA Oil Pte Ltd, another Singapore company. One that by happy coincidence shares the 80 Tuas Avenue address with Oddball Ventures. As the name might suggest, the lender is not a bank or lender in the usual sense.

GSA was set up 13 September 2016, Oddball Ventures 14 September 2017, just a day before Aw and Lim joined the Bullers on the board of Magheramorne Park Ltd. Which might suggest that Oddball was set up specifically for this link-up.

Oddball Ventures now exerts ‘significant control’ over Magheramorne Park but the Bullers are still aboard and the younger of them may hold 50% of the shares. (This might be attributable to his father being bankrupt.)

There have been a couple of moves to strike off Magheramorne Park Ltd for not submitting documents to Companies House. The first was discontinued and the second was suspended, but with accounts and confirmation statement overdue we can expect compulsory strike-off action to re-commence shortly.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN PEMBROKESHIRE

As I explained in the earlier piece, the Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock has been bought (but not yet registered) by a company (currently) called VR 1844 Ltd. Here’s their Facebook page.

No one is quite sure what plans VR 1844 has for the Barracks, partly because the company isn’t really saying much. And there may be a reason for that.

For it is suggested that the purchase of the fort is a bit of a ‘Look over there!’ and the real target is the land between the fort and the Milford Haven Waterway. You can see it in the picture below.

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This land – the old parade ground and firing range? – is now the home of the South Pembrokeshire Golf Club. Though I believe it’s owned by Pembrokeshire County Council.

As we saw earlier in the week, with VR 1844 Ltd the Singapore connection is provided by Trevor Walker and Lai Heng Seto. So we have two sites, one in Ireland and the other in Wales, with a strong Singapore connection.

‘Is that it!’, you’re asking. Well, no. Now I’m going to explain what I think is going on.

THE BIT AT THE END WHERE EVERYBODY GATHERS IN THE DRAWING ROOM

The clue to what’s going on here is the date that Magheramorne Park Ltd was formed – December 2016, six months after the EU referendum and the Leave vote.

But what do the two sites have in common?

Well, both have a great deal of open space – and they’re close to a ferry port. In the case of Magheramorne it’s Larne (though Belfast isn’t that far either) and in the case of the Old Defensible Barracks it’s the Pembroke-Rosslare route.

What’s planned for both sites I suspect is lorry parks. For with the UK about to leave the EU there may need to be lorry parks to check the vehicles and their documentation in the event of no deal, a poor deal, or protracted negotiations.

This article, while focusing on the Humber ports, shows the problem. This article makes clear that the Irish Sea crossings will also be affected.

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Cross-border checks on ferry traffic might also explain the Singaporean interest in Plymouth dealt with in the previous piece. For Plymouth is already a ferry port and Singapore is a hub of the Asian ferry business.

Those thinking that a lorry park would not be needed in the Six Counties because traffic from there would be with the UK should be reminded of a couple of things. First, treating Northern Ireland differently, effectively having the EU border down the Irish Sea, has already been discussed, and b) Brexit is hastening the possibility of a united Ireland.

I am 90% certain that what is planned for the Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock  – or, more importantly, the land alongside it currently serving as a golf course – is a lorry park where trucks entering and leaving the UK will be checked and have their documentation verified.

The same future I believe is planned for the old cement works at Magheramorne, at Plymouth, and who knows where else? And it’s being done by stealth. With talk in Pembroke Dock and Plymouth of old buildings being turned into luxury flats or tourist attractions.?

It could be that the UK government is using Trevor Iain Walker and his Singapore buddies as cat’s paws, rather than appear heavy-handed by requisitioning these sites.

Questions:

How much does our Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, who happens to be the local MP, know about plans for Pembroke Dock? What might his predecessor, Alun Cairns, know? (And are there also plans for Fishguard and Holyhead?)

And what of our wonderful, talented, and respected ‘Welsh Government’, are they being kept in the loop?

Seeing as the land that would probably be needed, the golf course, seems to be owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, have they been consulted? (Or, indeed, the golfists?)

So many questions. I hope to have some answers when I return to this subject. As I undoubtedly will.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 11.02.2020: The Western Mail ran a full-page spread on the project today. Obviously a regurgitated press hand-out because when the journalist tried to add a personal touch she located the Barracks in Milford Haven not Pembroke Dock.

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Also in the news today was more talk of Milford Haven becoming a freeport. I doubt that, if granted, freeport status will be confined to Milford Haven, it will probably cover the whole waterway, and that will of course include Pembroke Dock.

Which is interesting considering the Singapore investment at the Old Defensible Barracks and the fact that Singapore is the biggest ‘tax-free’ trade zone in the world.

Old Defensible Barracks

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

Last week’s offering was a bit of a beast at over 3,000 words so I’m slimming down for this week’s post.

After doing a bit of digging the old Jac whiskers are all a-quiver because I suspect something odd may be going on in Pembroke Dock.

FIELD MARSHAL MITTY

You may remember that last year I wrote about 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 laid out his plans for Fort Hubberstone in Milford Haven. His new company Camp Valour CIC promised to turn the old base into a wonderland for ex-service personnel.

As my description of him might suggest, it was all bullshit from a fantasist named Sean Pullen. To catch up with the relevant pieces I wrote on the subject, scroll down to the section, ‘And finally, who am I?’.  Then to, ‘Camp Valour CIC’. Finally, to, ‘Camp Valour’.

But Hubberstone is not the only fort in the area. The Milford Haven Waterway has a number of old fortifications because they defend one of the finest deep-water anchorages on earth. All redundant because Johnny Frog is not going to be sailing with hostile intent up the Haven, and neither is anybody else.

Unlike medieval castles these fortifications from a later era don’t draw tourists, so they just sit there, attracting dreamers and schemers.

UPDATE 10.02.2020: Here’s fresh news received today from the Pembrokeshire Herald.

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REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVE!

The problem often is that those responsible for these structures are so desperate to get shot of them that they succumb to the wiles of wide boys and worse. Which is what happened at Milford Haven.

According to the Milford Mercury, the site in Pembroke Dock has been bought by a company called VR 1844 Ltd. (‘Victoria Regina‘?) But has it really been bought?

Old Defensible Barracks, Pembroke Dock. Click to enlarge

The title document and plan I downloaded last week from the Land Registry website tells us the site is owned by a local couple. So if VR 1844 Ltd has bought the Old Defensible Barracks it hasn’t been registered.

Returning to the Milford Mercury, we are told that, “New owner, VR 1844 LTD, is a mix of history lovers, town planners and property developers who specialize in restoring historic buildings.” On reading that my first thought was, ‘That’s a strange mix’.

The report continued, “VR 1844 Ltd office manager Tanya McDermott said: ‘VR 1844 believe people never truly own a building but are the buildings guardians for a period of time'”. Which also struck me as odd, because in my experience property developers are pretty hot on things like ownership, and profit. They’re certainly not renowned for getting sentimental over buildings.

But there you go, maybe I’m getting old and cynical.

The Mercury describes Tanya McDermott as ‘office manager’, and she’s presumably the wife of one of VR 1844’s directors, Jonathan McDermott. Another director is Emma Jane Morby. McDermott and Morby are also directors of Raglan Gatehouse Developments Ltd, and Raglan 1857 Ltd. Raglan Gatehouse being a similar project to the Old Defensible Barracks in Plymouth.

With Raglan 1857 we find Tanya McDermott listed as secretary.

Jonathan McDermott seems to be respected in his field and I can’t find any other companies where he’s served as a director.

Turning to Emma Morby though we find seven companies in addition to the two Raglan companies and VR 1844 Ltd. These are:

Which means that of those seven companies the only one still breathing with which Emma Morby is involved is Goa Group Ltd, but as I suggest, it’s near the door. I don’t wish to be harsh on Ms Morby, but that’s not a record that fills me with confidence.

THE RICHES OF THE ORIENT

If we go back to the Companies House entry for VR 1844 Ltd and check under the ‘People’ tab, we find, in addition to McDermott and Morby, Lai Heng Seto and Trevor Iain Walker listed as directors. Both are residents of Singapore.

VR 1844 Ltd started life on 14 August 2018 as Muniment Yorkshire Ltd, before becoming Walker Property Developments Ltd in July 2019, and adopting the current name on 2 October. The final change coinciding with the arrival of McDermott and Morby on 23 October last year.

And if you think that Emma Morby has been involved in a few companies in recent years, then Trev’s record will make you see how a real property hot-shot operates.

For after doing some digging I have found no fewer than 28 companies with which Trevor Iain Walker has been involved, and from what I can see, they’re all property companies. Here’s a list of them in PDF format, so click on the links to get the details.

Singapore. Click to enlarge

What I find surprising about Trevor Walker’s business record is that the earliest entry I can find for him with Companies House is April 2014, when he was approaching his 52nd birthday.

What had he been doing before April 2014?

You’ll see that his early companies all carried the ‘Muniment’ name. (Muniment being a document or title deed proving claim to land or privilege.) Then there’s a two-year gap from December 2014 to December 2016, before Trev comes roaring back with two companies launched on the same day.

Also note that he was not in at the start with the first company, Muniment Ltd. This was Incorporated 12 September 2013, but as we’ve seen, Walker didn’t join until 8 April 2014. His seat was kept warm for him by Lai Heng Seto, who left on the day he arrived.

Ms Seto, you will remember, is also a director of the Pembroke Dock company.

The companies listed on the PDF document I’ve linked to are all companies of which Walker is or has been a director, with one exception, and that exception is Brigstock Campsite Ltd, a company registered in Northern Ireland. It is included because even though Walker was never a director he did control the company through Muniment Ltd owning most of the shares.

In the absence of Trevor Walker and Lai Heng Seto, Singapore was represented by Jody Cheoy Tho Eu and Lee Hung Lim. But it’s the other director I’d like to introduce, Alfred William Buller.

Buller is the son of William Alfred Buller who died in 2007. In the piece I’ve linked to you read of the ‘Sham Fight’ at Scarva – between King Billy and King James, an annual event that attracts as many as 100,000 people. Alfred Buller is, like his father, a prominent member of the Royal Black Institution who hob-nobs with the Unionist elite. (The ‘Blacks’ are an upmarket version of the Orange Order.)

When he’s not fighting popery and a united Ireland, Alfie (as he is known) is a horse  breeder and a businessman. In fact, he’s been a director of almost 200 companies. But he may also be bankrupt, which might put a question mark over his involvement in any company.

From Northamptonshire Telegraph 28.10.2016. Click to enlarge.

Going back to Trevor Walker and looking through his companies’ accounts a few things struck me. Let’s go to the oldest company in the portfolio, Muniment Ltd (current directors: Trevor Iain Walker and Lai Heng Seto), and open the latest accounts.

There you’ll see ‘Fixed assets’ and ‘Current assets’ totalling £9,652,355, which looks impressive, until you work out that 87% of that figure is accounted for by ‘Debtors’ (that is, money owed to the company).

Then, under ‘Creditors’ (money owed by the company), we see the figure £9,409,539.

Take one from the other and we arrive at the ‘Net assets’ figure of £242,816.

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Page 7 tells us that Walker has been ‘advanced’ £5,197,757! This of course will be re-classified and appear under Debtors, and therefore Assets.

Go to the accounts for the previous year, 2017, where we learn that more than six million pounds has been taken out by Walker and Seto. Ms Seto is not mentioned by name in the 2018 accounts, so is the £3,578,457 she owes included in the Debtors column?

Will Ms Seto the director be asking Ms Seto the loanee to return the money she so generously granted herself? The same question could be posed to Trevor Walker. But then, when it’s your company, with no other shareholders, you can do what you like. Though to see amounts like that being taken out is unusual.

It makes me wonder where the money originates. Does it come from Singapore, go through the system, and then back to Singapore via Walker and Seto?

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It’s worth mentioning that although I’m referring to ‘accounts’, none of these documents are audited, they’re just unverified ‘financial statements’ submitted to Companies House by the directors. In other words, those who are giving themselves millions of pounds.

One of the many failings of the regulatory system in the UK is that a company handling millions of pounds can submit back-of-an-envelope accounts. Or it can be done online. This may, as claimed, ‘remove red tape’, but it also makes it easier for those so inclined to be naughty.

(N.B. I’m not suggesting criminal behaviour by any of those discussed here.)

A WORD TO THE WISE

As with the case I dealt with last week, Anglesey County Council and the Shire Hall in Llangefni, I’m sure Pembrokeshire County Council would like to see the Old Defensible Barracks taken over and developed into an asset for the town.

But Wales sees rather too many ‘developers’ with over-ambitious or downright dishonest schemes. So before Pembrokeshire County Council, the ‘Welsh Government’, or Cadw goes overboard with red carpets and grant funding, I suggest they make a few enquiries.

  1. Establish who actually owns the Old Defensible Barracks.
  2. Investigate the business credentials of whoever you deal with and be sure where their money comes from. (Also, where it goes.)
  3. Only if these enquiries return satisfactory results should you proceed with any project for the Old Defensible Barracks.

♦ end ♦

 

Wales, colonialism and corruption

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 was hoping to take a break from shysters and con men, shell companies and money-laundering, lying politicians and stupid officials because my head is aching from banging it against a brick wall.

But there’s no escape. And those who manage Wales – applying a veneer of native control – are not only too stupid to recognise a crook in plain sight but they give or sell them public assets, or they throw money at them, and this is then dressed up as ‘investment’, which allows them to crow about jobs created . . . and this deception encourages them to anticipate being re-elected as a reward for these ‘successes’.

The disparate components of this post begin with a bit of a rant, an acceptance that corruption in the UK is institutionalised (and therefore unlikely to ever be done away with). Then I move on to consider the curious case of Llangefni’s Shire Hall, before ending with a quick roundup of other items.

SHIP OF KNAVES

After years of studying its underbelly I now believe the United Kingdom is corrupt to the point where no serious effort is made to tackle ‘financial crime’. The unstated view of officialdom is that money is money, and no matter where it comes from it still buys things in the same way as clean money. And once it’s in circulation, boosting the economy, who can tell the difference? Who cares?

Money being created out of nothing ties in with the general contempt at the highest levels of the UK Establishment for making things, and exporting them. Grubby, ‘pleb’ activities. Which in turn accounts for the North-South divide within England. And explains why the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the advanced world.

And yet, while manufacturing in general is held in contempt there’s still a nostalgic fondness for high-end, prestige goods. Defended with ‘Best of British’ jingoism. For example, volume car production can go to the wall but let’s keep making Bentley, Range Rover and Aston Martin.

A mindset mirrored even in the military, where the UK’s armed forces are probably on a par with Spain’s, but what the hell – ‘We’ve got nuclear weapons and the SAS’. Rule Britannia!

The obsession with money and some twisted view of ‘only the best’ is exemplified in the City of London, through which passes most of the world’s dirty money. The City of London with its web of offshore tax havens that begin in the Irish Sea and the Channel.

Or step outside the Square Mile to see where the oligarchs, the kleptocrats, and the mass murderers live . . . or maybe they just buy the big houses as investments. We recently read that Isabel dos Santos, described as ‘Africa’s richest woman’, said to have ‘ripped off’ her native Angola, owns a number of expensive properties in London.

What honest and self-respecting country would welcome and even celebrate kleptocrats like these? Click to enlarge

Under this system, this mindset, everything is monetised, even education. It’s now easier to gain a degree in the UK than perhaps any other western country. This is due the fact that universities are perceived as being businesses. If you can write your name and remember your address then you’re guaranteed a place at ‘uni’, with further money made from foreign students, who can be charged two or three times the rate for domestic students.

The United Kingdom is a ship crewed by knaves floating on a sea of dirty money. No one with an alternative staring them in the face should want to stay on board.

LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL

Having got that off my chest I’ll turn to a story I first covered back on 6 November. Here it is. In essence, the council on Ynys Môn last year sold the Shire Hall in Llangefni to an English ‘businessman’ named Tristan Scott Haynes.

My piece was prompted by an article I’d seen on NorthWalesLive. I’m returning to it now because the article reappeared in BusinessNewsWales again last Thursday. Repeated word for bloody word.

After reading the BNW article I telephoned Ynys Môn council and spoke with a charming young woman who confirmed that the Shire Hall had indeed been sold 22 August last year. Which made me wonder why there was no media coverage of the sale until November.

Having bought the title document for the Shire Hall when I wrote last November’s piece I was surprised to see that ownership for title CYM716217 was attributed to the council. So I went back to the Land Registry website last week and bought the title document again, assuming that it would now have been updated to show the change of ownership; but as you can see, the council is still listed as owner.

Perplexed by this, I decided to come at the problem from a different angle. You may remember that Tristan Haynes had a couple of companies, one of them was Chief Properties Ltd. There are two charges against Chief Properties and both list title number CYM635210, which is different to the title number I’d bought. (Which I now suspect refers to the new county council offices not far away.)

So it was back to the Land Registry website and the new number I’d unearthed. Here it is, title document and plan. Below you’ll see the Land Registry plan with a capture from Google Maps to give a fuller picture.

Almost a map of Israel (inc West Bank) with Afon Cefni serving as the River Jordan. And the Masonic Lodge on the border. Click to enlarge

The first thing that struck me was the size of this site, sold for £150,000 or less. (You’ll see from the links provided that the indent shaded green is the war memorial.) The title takes in the old town hall, the police station and magistrates court, together with a sizeable car park.

And yet, despite the sale having gone through last August, the title is still in the name of ‘Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn’. So why hasn’t it been transferred to Tristan Scott Haynes or Chief Properties Ltd?

You may have noticed that Haynes borrowed the money to buy the Shire Hall from Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheshire. And if that name sounds familiar it’s because our old friends at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, Paul and Rowena Williams, have outstanding debts with the same company. Together is one of those ‘specialist’ lenders to whom people turn when regular banks respond to loan requests with, ‘You must be joking!’

In the NorthWalesLive article in November (and of course the BusinessNewsWales piece last week) we were told that Haynes is the “managing director of Chief Properties” and “also runs a successful haulage firm”. All designed to impress, yet these are are both one-man bands.

Chief Properties was formed in August 2018 and the first director was Nadine Baldwin, who was joined in September by Haynes. Baldwin left the company in December 2018. I’m assuming there was some connection or relationship between Baldwin and Haynes.

The ‘successful haulage firm’ is Falcon Transportation Ltd. Incorporated 3 July 2015 and seems to have bumped along, doing very little since then. Haynes was the original director but stood down 1 February 2018 to be replaced by Julian Mayne. Haynes made a triumphal return in February 2019 the day after Mayne left.

When he wasn’t directing the haulage fleet in the temporary absence of Tristan Haynes Jools was the mastermind behind Low Cost Bills Ltd. Though when you look into the figures for this company you wonder what Mayne’s day job might have been.

Both of the Haynes companies are based at these imposing offices on Tavistock Street in Bedford. The building is owned by husband and wife David and Michelle Munday, whose company, Orchid National Nursing Supplies Ltd, would appear to use the building as a warehouse.

135 – 137 Tavistock Street, Bedford. Click to enlarge

There was another Haynes company I found, Bullet Strategies Ltd, which lasted about 18 months before being struck off in September 2014. The address given for this company was 8 Howbury Street in Bedford. A terraced house that seems to have been divided into two flats.

Since the November article Tristan Haynes has registered two more companies, both on 4 December. These are, Wasp HQ Ltd and Pine Eels Ltd. Strange names.

Although the company correspondence address for both is the Orchid warehouse on Tavistock Street the address given for Haynes himself is 33A St Peter’s Road, which suggests he might now be living above Bedford Dental Surgery.

On the Companies House website the ‘Nature of business’ (SIC) given for Wasp HQ is, ‘47781 – Retail sale in commercial art galleries; 47782 – Retail sale by opticians;
47789 – Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores (not commercial art galleries and opticians)’.

While for Pine Eels it’s, ‘47789 – Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores (not commercial art galleries and opticians)’.

Which might suggest that Llangefni Shire Hall will be used for art galleries and opticians . . . except when they’re not art galleries and opticians. (Glad we cleared that up.) And yet the article I’ve referred to mentioned a pod hotel and a conference centre. Are they covered by not being art galleries and opticians?

Come to that, why the hell are we talking about opticians?

To recap. The title was bought last August, Tristan Haynes already had his plans for the site, so presumably planning permission has been granted, or at the very least a  planning application or a request for a change of use has been submitted to the council.

Well, no.

The land was sold last August, there was a bit of publicity in November (regurgitated last week) and then, all of a sudden . . . nothing happened! Not even a change of ownership notified to the Land Registry.

After I wrote the original piece last November I was sent information on Tristan Scott Haynes. It obviously came from someone who knows him well. If only a fraction of that information is correct then Haynes is a dangerous and unprincipled manipulator.

I have chosen to withhold that information, for the time being. But I still have questions for Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn:

  • How was contact first made between the council and Tristan Scott Haynes?
  • Were background checks done by the council; checks that, for example, would have unearthed Haynes’ conviction and imprisonment on Malta?
  • Who recommended selling this land to Haynes?
  • Who authorised selling this land to Haynes?
  • Has the council been paid the agreed sale price?
  • Why hasn’t the Land Registry been informed of the sale and the change of ownership that took place over five months ago?
  • Has the sale definitely gone through?
  • What contact does the council now have with Haynes?
  • In the news articles Haynes talks of a ‘pod hotel‘. Does anyone really think that Llangefni needs such a venture?
  • Or is it to be an art galley – competing with the council’s own Oriel Môn just a short distance away.
  • And could the town sustain a ‘conference centre’? (Though I suppose the delegates could all stay in the pod hotel.)
  • Given his ambitious plans isn’t Cyngor Môn concerned by Tristan Haynes’ complete lack of experience in any of the options mentioned?

I know the county council is desperate to off-load this site but elementary checks on potential buyers are easy, cost next to nothing, and can save the vendor both money and embarrassment.

UPDATE 31.12.2020: I received an e-mail yesterday from the young woman I spoke with at Cyngor Môn. She wrote: “The sale was completed on the 22/8/2019. Registration of the Transfer at the Land Registry is a matter for the buyer following completion. We aren’t aware of any planning applications.”

What is going on?

WEEP FOR WALES 16B

Fans of the Plas Glynllifon/Seiont Manor saga (and I know there are many of you out there) will be wondering what happened when Paul and Rowena Williams took their erstwhile buddy and business partner, Myles Cunliffe, before the beak in Manchester a week last Friday.

Here’s the report that appeared in NorthWalesLive.

When I read the suggestion of illegality and fraud I was so shocked I had to reach for the smelling salts. Click to enlarge

Here’s some supplementary information I’ve been sent.

What wasn’t reported first off Paul Williams was actually wearing a suit! with a very bad floral tie 

Basically it was a total failure of a application on the Williams side and the judge was not impressed at all, it should never have got to court……. 

Because of this Williams had to pay Cunliffe his costs of £6,500 and if it has to go to court again Williams has to pay £10,000 up front to the court because of the cock up

Williams also has racked up a bill of £60,000 with his solicitors which the judge questioned how much and if the figure was even valid! 

The Judge agreed to the Companies House stuff to be submitted via Cunliffe because they have said they would do this all along (My guess is the Williams want the codes to do something dodgy) 

I even heard that Cunliffe’s solicitor give a quote to Owen Hughes and nothing is mentioned in Article (Though the person who was there didn’t hear the actual quote) 

I think Williams still has Owen in his pocket! 

Anyway  hope that helps”. 

It looks as if the Gruesome Twosome miscalculated badly, and so I think we can look forward to many more episodes of Weep for Wales.

THE WOODHOUSE MODEL

Another star who has graced this blog in recent years is Gavin Lee Woodhouse. He built up a portfolio of hotels and then went for glory, accompanied by Bore Grylls, with the highly ambitious Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

The ‘Welsh Government’ obviously thought Woodhouse was a great asset to the Welsh economy. Not only was he gifted hundreds of acres of public land for his Afan Valley fantasy but he was also awarded a £500,000 grant for one of his hotels, the Caer Rhun in the Conwy valley.

Click to enlarge

It all came crashing down last year when ITV News and the Guardian exposed his business methods. It was basically a ponzi scheme selling individual rooms in hotels.

The same business method is now being employed in Cardiff by the owner of the Coal Exchange. For obvious reasons investors are getting edgy, as this report from last November tells us. And concerns persist, as this report from last Friday confirms.

And yet, despite selling rooms individually being a discredited business model favoured by crooks, Cardiff council has agreed to give £2m to the Coal Exchange ‘developer’.

I can understand Cardiff council wanting to safeguard a landmark building, but is this the way to do it? If this goes the same way as Woodhouse’s empire can Cardiff council be sure of getting its £2m back?

VROOM VROOM

I’m not for one minute suggesting that those running Aston Martin and TVR are crooks, I’m simply using these companies as examples of the poor judgement and profligacy of the ‘Welsh Government’.

The Aston Martin car company has been enticed to St Athan near Cardiff with the promise of lots of public funding; while TVR is supposedly coming to Ebbw Vale as a consolation prize for the doomed Circuit of Wales.

I have a regular contact who is something of a petrolhead and he passes on items that he picks up in the specialist press. One recent tit-bit drew my attention to ‘Taffy66’. Checking his ‘garage’ i.e. the cars he owns, we find 4 Porsche and a Ferrari. Suggesting that Taffy66 is doing quite well for himself. (Perhaps he earns even more than a third sector CEO!)

Click to enlarge

You’ll see that he describes himself as “a proud Welshman who due to the nature of my business has no choice but to do regular dealings with the WAG”. So why don’t Drakewell and the gang hire him as an adviser. He must know more about business than them and their civil servants. (But come to that, so does my cat!)

The hard news on both Aston Martin and TVR suggests they are struggling financially and are very unlikely to provide the jobs anticipated.

Salvation for Aston Martin might come in the form of Chinese investment, but whether Geely would still go ahead at St Athan is a moot point. As for TVR, the specialist press is very sceptical about the company’s future, with the latest news being that the roof on the Ebbw Vale factory is leaking!

The ‘Welsh Government’ is spending on infrastructure for these companies, and pumping money into them, when it has no real control. A change of ownership and it could be a case of, ‘Wales! Where’s that?

No healthy economy was ever built by desperately bribing foreign firms to move to a country. This is nothing more than a colony funding colonialism. Which of course is how colonialism operates.

WATER

Water has long been an emotive subject in Wales, Cofiwch Dryweryn! and all that. But too many are lulled into silent acceptance, or even support, when the sirens sing of ‘renewable’ and ‘green energy’, seemingly blind to the fact that exploitation and colonialism come in many forms.

Last October in, Wales, with us but strangers, I wrote about the troubling case of the hydro scheme at Ystradffin, near Rhandirmwyn, below the Llyn Brianne reservoir. It’s a fascinating story, I strongly advise you to read it.

The latest news is that the locals are getting angry. For despite originally promising great financial benefits for the community the developer (whoever that might ultimately be) is now offering just £1,000 a year according to this BBC Wales report.

Though the version in Welsh paints an even darker picture. It talks of environmental damage, no local jobs, and of a BBC film crew being ‘challenged’ and then pursued, even though the crew was on public land!

Ystradffin, Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

At Ystradffin we have the involvement of a number of English companies, with a Czech company doing the work. Then there is the possibility of Russian funding, and UK government involvement. Quite a story, with the Welsh involvement being limited to the water.

This is real colonialism, almost medieval. Strangers march into our country and set up a ‘Taffy-keep-out’ zone. The ‘Welsh Government’ probably wasn’t even consulted. (And knows better than to ask.)

♦ end ♦

 

Come fly with me!

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 concluded last week’s offering with a section on Llanbedr Airfield and a promise to return to the subject. Well, here we are, and sooner than expected.

That’s because information has come to light that makes the picture clearer. Clearer but not more reassuring, certainly not for us poor buggers who – through our tribunes and the civil servants who ‘advise’ them – seem to end up funding every con man and shyster who crosses the dyke looking for easy money.

UP UP AND AWAY!

To briefly recap. There has been an airfield at Llanbedr, between Harlech and Barmouth, since WWII, but it was closed or decommissioned in 2004.

The site was bought in August 2006 by the Welsh Development Agency for £700,000. (Title document.) And then, despite having just bought the site, the Welsh Assembly Government sought a taker for a 125-year lease.

Though as the sheet below tells us, in an answer to Tory AM Darren Millar in June 2008, then minister for economy and transport, Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, is adamant that no funding has been offered to ‘sweeten’ the deal.

Click to enlarge

The timing is significant because it was being reported in February 2008 that Welsh Ministers had awarded preferred bidder status to Kemble Airfield Estates Ltd, the operators of Kemble Airport near Cirencester. (Formerly RAF Kemble.)

As anticipated, in December 2008, the ‘Welsh Government’ gave the go-head for Kemble to take over the airfield, subject to Kemble obtaining the “relevant permissions and consents.” Initially, the Snowdonia National Park Authority refused to play ball, but in August 2011 a certificate was granted to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP for use of the airport to test and develop unmanned aerial vehicles.

(Developments and rumours from March 2006 are covered in jargon-laden but still interesting exchanges on this message board.)

In July 2012, Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP finally took on a 125-year lease with the Welsh Ministers for the sum of £887,500 plus VAT. (Title document.) Funded with a loan from The Secretary of State for Defence. This company was set up in March 2008 and changed its name to Snowdonia Aerospace LLP in August 2015.

Click to enlarge

Not only was there a loan from the Secretary of State for Defence but – and despite what Ieuan Wyn Jones had said – the ‘Welsh Government’ also chipped in. Both charges are here. Did Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP pay anything out of its own pocket for the 125-year lease?

PER ARDUA AD ASTRA

You’ve just read mention of RAF Kemble, and as I made enquiries into the leaseholders at Llanbedr it became clear that they and their associates specialise in taking over former RAF bases. Which suggests they’re well-connected.

Two directors of Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP who left Kemble Airfield Estates Ltd in the middle of 2012 were Lee John Paul and Charles John Mondahl. Paul had also served as company secretary.

The sign at the main gate makes no mention of ‘Aerospace’, or ‘new frontiers’, just the rather bland ‘Llanbedr Aviation Centre’. But it does show where the money’s come from – us, again! Click to enlarge

This regular taking over of former RAF bases and the like might point to the UK government and military putting work ‘off-book’ through private companies. Why would this be done? Well, I can think of a number of reasons.

First, it saves the UK government money if some mug can be persuaded to stump up the cash on the pretext of ‘creating jobs’. Mugs like the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd.

Then there’s the advantage of it being more difficult to question the UK government when defence work is done by private companies. With the bonus that private companies don’t have to worry about Freedom of Information requests.

So use a front company, have someone else help fund it, and let it do military work without fear of being bothered by too many tiresome questions.

Click to enlarge

Llanbedr specialises in RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems), drones to you and me. It links with the installation at Aberporth. Though Aberporth is ‘managed’ by military contractor Qinetiq. But whatever the set-up, there is no way that drones are being developed and tested without military involvement.

Of course that doesn’t explain what possessed the WDA or ‘Welsh Government’ to a) buy something we didn’t need and b) then pay someone to lease it. Two outlays of cash Wales could not afford.

Though as I suggest in the introduction, my guess is they were cajoled or bullied into this absurd deal by their masters in London.

FORMATION FLYING

Now it’s all going to get a bit tricky as we try to figure out who owns what and how assorted entities are related. So pay attention at the back there!

As we’ve seen, the title document tells us the Llanbedr site was leased to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP, which is now Snowdonia Aerospace LLP. Then October 2019 saw the creation of Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP.

Snowdonia Aerospace LLP has a number of partners (for this is a Limited Liability Partnership not a company), while the new outfit has just two, these being Lee John Paul of Dorset and Putney Investments Ltd of the Isle of Man.

Both Paul and Putney are also partners in the original outfit, Snowdonia Aerospace, but there Putney Investments Ltd gives an address in Queensland, Australia. As I mentioned in the previous post, there seem to be quite a few companies under the ‘Putney’ umbrella (and we’ll be looking at another one in just a minute).

Click to enlarge

Looking at the Putney Investments registered in Hampshire we see that there are two directors found under the ‘People’ tab, Cromring Ltd and Mike Cole. That’s Mike Cole of Tenerife, or possibly Hampshire.

Though it’s not that simple – is it ever? – because there are three Companies House entries for Cromring Ltd. Here they are, together with who and what’s filed where we would normally expect to find directors listed.

Plus – as a special treat! – who and what’s listed for the entities linked to each of the Cromring entries. Use the links to make better sense of it.

Cromring 1/ Michael Eric Cole (Sec), David William Ward, Michael Cole, Lapcrest Ltd. Lapcrest Ltd: Cromring Ltd. So this one is a closed circle.

Amazingly, Companies House tells us that this Cromring Ltd is a dormant company!

Cromring 2/ Estate Utilities Ltd: Michael Eric Cole (Sec), Lee John Paul, Cromring Ltd: Estate Utilities Ltd. Another closed circle.

Cromring 3/ Ocean Park Investments Ltd Putney Investments Ltd, Lapcrest Ltd. A third closed circle.

There are other companies in this network, but I’ve used Cromring to explain the problems faced by anyone trying to disentangle this web of interlocked individuals and companies.

Maybe a better comparison would be a cave system with dozens of entrances, tunnels and caverns; where money goes into one company or LLP and emerges from some other part of the network many miles away. Or just gets lost.

Here are some of the companies in the network, all cwtched up together in Hampshire. I’m intrigued by Spaceport UK Ltd. Sole director, Michael Cole . . . resident of Australia. Nothing like ambition, eh!

Click to enlarge

An entity not yet mentioned, but with six outstanding charges against it, is Compass Point Estates LLP. The partners here are: Lee Paul, Gillian Paul, Ocean Park Investments Ltd, and Putney Investments Ltd . . . the one in Queensland.

While rooting around I also came across yet another RAF connection. It was reported in April last year that the site of RAF Upwood in Cambridgeshire was to be sold to developers. Ocean Park Investments Ltd controls Upwood Business Park Ltd.

Providing further proof that the links between the MoD and the people who’ve taken over Llanbedr airfield are long and extensive.

FLYING DOWN TO RIO

Seeing as Putney in its various guises can be found from Queensland to the Isle of Man maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to find Putney Capital Management in Latin America.

This article suggests the company deals in areas that some might regard as asset-stripping. Unpalatable as most of us might find this, it pales into insignificance when we consider other possibilities.

Because Putney turned up in the Panama Papers. For those unfamiliar with the Panama Papers they are, “an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca“.

Here’s the link to Putney in Caracas, capital of the socialist paradise of Venezuela, where there must be much to attract asset strippers. (But I’m not here to score cheap political points, you know me.)

Click here to see the Putney Investment ‘node’ that links the Caracas address with a more secretive  address in Panama, and which lists as the ‘intermediary’ a Martin Lustgarten.

Click to enlarge

And here’s the ‘node’ for Martin Lustgarten, an Austrian-Venezuelan, who seems to flit between Caracas, Panama and Miami. Some believe Martin is just a guy who deals in very expensive old watches. Others say he launders money for big drugs cartels.

Whatever the truth of these allegations, the Panama Papers make clear that Martin Lustgarten is involved with Putney in the tax haven of Panama, which doesn’t do Putney’s reputation any favours.

Click to enlarge

And as we know, Putney is heavily involved in Llanbedr airfield. It’s a partner in both the lessee, Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, and also the new LLP set up last October, Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP.

The address Putney Investments Ltd gives to Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP is 8 Mount Pleasant, Douglas, IoM IM1 2PM. This address appears in the Panama Papers.

ON A WING AND A PRAYER

I’m going to end with a few questions for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, Cyngor Gwynedd, and anybody else who might feel inclined to proffer an answer.

  • Why would any Welsh governmental body need to get involved with Llanbedr Airfield when it must have been obvious that the MoD had tenants lined up?
  • In other words, why couldn’t the MoD have leased the place directly to Lee Paul et al?
  • Then, having bought a site it had no use for, why did the ‘Welsh Government’ compound its incompetence by giving money to those mentioned above to lease the site, especially after Ieuan Wyn Jones had stated there would be no such payment?
  • Seeing as a great deal of Welsh money has been donated to those now running Llanbedr Airfield what has been the return in jobs for local people? (And I mean local, not those who many now be living in the area.)
  • Talking of money, how much has been given by the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd to Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, or spent on infrastructure and in other ways to benefit that group?
  •  Given the reports listed in my previous piece on Llanbedr are the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd satisfied with the way the lessees are managing the site?
  • Was the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd informed of the formation of the new LLP in October 2019?
  • What is the purpose of this new LLP?
  • Given that the name Putney crops up regularly in the Llanbedr narrative, and also in the Panama Papers, does the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd know exactly how Putney is structured and who, ultimately, controls it?
  • Given that so much Welsh public money has been invested in Llanbedr Airfield and those leasing it, what input does the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd have in the running of the site and in the planning of its future operations?
  • Given the record of military drones in the Middle East, and the unreliability of the drones operated from Aberporth, why are the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd so supportive of drones at Llanbedr?
  • On page 9, under ‘Future Priorities and Direction for the Zone’ of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021, produced by the ‘Welsh Government’, I read, “To continue to develop a working partnership with the site owners and key stakeholders . . . “. But surely, the ‘Welsh Government’ owns the site? And who are the “key stakeholders”?
  • Seeing as the lessees are a Limited Liability Partnership, and LLPs only need to submit the most skeletal, unaudited accounts to Companies House, do the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd see the full accounts?
  • Given that Llanbedr is no Welsh Cape Canaveral providing jobs and spectacular launches to entertain global television audiences, was it worth the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd investing our money in what remains a UK defence installation?

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 15.01.2020

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

It’s time for a round-up of a few topics that have moved on since I last dealt with them. With one ‘newcomer’.

FOREIGN AID

You may recall that in Miscellany 09.12.2019, and under the section headed ‘Foreign aid’, we looked at a number of interlinked organisations that, collectively, I described as Wales’ foreign aid programme.

These were, the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and Hub Cymru Africa. I looked at how these organisations are funded, and how that money is spent.

It started with someone directing me to a tweet from the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, of which Plaid Cymru AM Helen Mary Jones is sponsor.

Click to enlarge

We can also see Labour AMs Vaughan Gething and Baroness Eluned Morgan in the tweet. So the self-styled ‘progressives’ were well represented at this event.

What we see with these organisations is a great deal of Welsh public funding being diverted to an area for which the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has no responsibility. With the bulk of the money then spent on salaries for people who have moved to Wales to get their snouts in the third sector trough.

Which results in millions of pounds of Welsh public money being spent in ways that provide no benefits whatsoever to Wales or to Welsh people.

Last week there was a sequel. In the Senedd. When Neil Hamilton, the regional AM for south and west Wales, raised the issue of Wales’ foreign aid programme.

Click here to see the video clip of his question and the response from Rebecca Evans the minister for finance. (Also note the intemperate cheering that greets the mention of Jac o’ the North!)

I accept that Neil Hamilton is not everyone’s cup of tea, he’s made mistakes. But he’s not evil, as some on the left like to portray anyone who doesn’t meet with their approval. And he’s certainly not lobby fodder, or a self-serving hypocrite, or a swivel-eyed member of the ‘woke’. Categories that cover most of the other AMs.

Neil Hamilton can fairly be described as his own man. And he’s one of my AMs.

Which is important, seeing as my constituency AM is Lord Elis Thomas, elected for Plaid Cymru in 2016 but who quickly defected to become an ‘Independent’ . . . but Labour in all but name. Now he serves as young Kenny Skates’ bag man.

The other regional AMs for mid and west Wales are Labour’s Baroness Eluned Morgan and Joyce Watson, with Plaid’s Helen Mary Jones. None of whom would raise a question about public funding being wasted on gesture politics.

Of course not, Labour AMs are not going to challenge their own management team. And Plaid Cymru only becomes mildly critical of Labour – in a comradely sort of way – during election campaigns.

I want to turn now to Rebecca Evans’ response, which can be found in the image below.

Click to enlarge

Note first that Rebecca Evans claims to belong to “a global, internationalist Welsh Government that takes its responsibilities to the planet and to others very seriously”.

Bollocks! She belongs to a devolved administration, with limited powers and responsibility for Wales alone.

Diverting to the home districts of third sector operatives of African origin what little is left after salaries are deducted, glossy reports produced, awards ceremonies and similar bun fights organised, achieves sod all for Wales.

How about this for a snide and supercilious remark, ” . . . it might speak more easily to the Member’s set of values . . . “. After that barb she took flight, Icarus-like, from the sunlit uplands of globalism with nonsense about ‘maintaining peace’, and with fighting the ‘climate crisis’ overseas.

This might be delusional if it was said by a representative of a wealthy, independent country. But when it comes from the management team of an impoverished province then it is positively insulting.

Just stick to the day job. Try thinking about the Welsh for a change. Those poor buggers who brought devolution into existence in 1997 and have been ignored ever since while posturing arseholes down Corruption Bay pretend to save humanity. Oh, yes, and the planet.

WEEP FOR WALES 16A

I hadn’t planned on writing anything about the Plas Glynllifon/Seiont Manor gang(s) but so much has happened since Weep for Wales 16 that I just can’t keep on updating it.

Weep for Wales 16 went out on January 2, and here’s a resumé of what’s happened since then.

1/ On the 4th, the Daily Post reported the ‘temporary’ closure of Seiont Manor.

2/ On the 8th, NorthWalesLive (the online version of the Daily Post) reported that Plas Glynllifon is in the hands of receivers. This is the BBC report.

3/ On the 10th, NorthWalesLive told us that Seiont Manor is also in the hands of receivers.

4/ NorthWalesLive reported that Paul and Rowena Williams, the former owners and now co-owners of both Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, will be topping the bill with co-owner Myles Cunliffe in the High Court’s Business and Property Courts in Manchester on January 17.

Let’s try to make sense of these developments, the claims and counter-claims.

The first report, about the Seiont Manor closing ‘temporarily’, is pure bullshit. Cunliffe knew that the hotel wasn’t opening again.

In number two we read that Duff and Phelps have been appointed receivers for Plas Glynllifon Ltd by Together Commercial Finance Ltd, which has 8 outstanding charges against the company. And even though the ‘Filing history’ gives the date of January 7, the receiver was in fact appointed on December 17.

As explained in this Companies House document. The publication of the news was presumably delayed by the Christmas and New Year holiday. Even so, I have no doubt that both the Williams duo and Cunliffe knew the game was up long before they tucked into their Brussels sprouts.

Click to enlarge

In number 3 we read of two companies – Plas Glynllifon Ltd and Rural Retreats & Development Ltd – and three properties, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor and Polvellan House in Cornwall. We’ve just looked at Plas Glynllifon Ltd, while Rural Retreats & Development Ltd is the owner of Seiont Manor and Polvellan House.

The eight outstanding charges against Plas Glynllifon Ltd all refer to the mansion of that name and adjoining land. Whereas the seven outstanding charges against Rural Retreats & Development Ltd found on the Companies House website seem to apply to assorted parcels of land unrelated to Seiont Manor.

Yet the title document for Seiont Manor hotel (below) clearly shows four charges held by Together Commercial Finance Ltd. Page 5 of the document clears up the mystery by explaining that these charges are bundled up with other titles. (The assorted parcels of land referred to in the previous paragraph.)

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It seems fairly obvious that Together Commercial Finance Ltd realises it’s loaned too much money to people and companies unlikely to ever repay, and also perhaps – given recent history – to properties that may have been over-valued. So now it’s called in the receivers to secure what’s left before the vultures strip the carcass and fly away.

The impending court case mentioned in 4 seems unrelated to these developments. So let’s try to figure out what might be discussed in Manchester on Friday.

It seems to have started with a spat over accounts for Plas Glynllifon Ltd not being submitted to Companies House, with this raising the possibility of the company being struck off. Paul Williams insisted he was happy for the accounts to be submitted but said they were being held up by Myles Cunliffe.

As I remarked in Weep for Wales 15, what I found odd was that the accounts in question referred to a period before Cunliffe got involved with Plas Glynllifon, so why would he withhold those accounts? I feel there’s something we’re not being told.

The hearing on Friday has been instigated by Paul and Rowena Williams through their solicitors, Glaisyers of Manchester, who you may remember sent me a ‘Take down everything you’ve ever written (but don’t show this to anybody!)’ letter before Christmas. Here’s my response.

The allegation against Cunliffe is that he changed company documents without permission, and also that he closed Seiont Manor without authorisation.

I can’t comment on the documents charge, but surely, once Together Commercial Finance Ltd called in the receivers on December 17 the game was up? A company in receivership cannot carry on trading as if nothing has happened, not unless it’s agreed with the administrators/receivers, or unless the company is run by or the running is overseen by the administrators/receivers.

So I would ask why the Gruesome Twosome and Cunliffe and associates didn’t come clean before Christmas about receivership, because they must have known.

AND FINALLY . . . Someone interested in buying Plas Glynllifon Ltd before the Williams duo showed up was Gavin Woodhouse of Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd. You may recall that he planned to market the old pile as ‘Wynnborn’. The ‘negative reaction’ to that suggestion made him walk away.

But he didn’t walk far, for Woodhouse built up a portfolio of Welsh hotels, including Caer Rhun in the Conwy valley. But it all came crashing down last year when his business practices were exposed by the Guardian and ITV News. Even so, the ‘Welsh Government’ still offered Woodhouse a £500,000 grant for Caer Rhun.

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Now Caer Rhun has gone the way of all Welsh hotels that fall into the hands of con men and crooks from over the border and been closed by administrators. And yet, the £500,000 grant still appears in literature put out by the ‘Welsh Government’ and Visit Wales!

They must be so proud!

BRYN LLYS

Another gang of crooks from the mystic East (Yorkshire, to you) bought a traditional Welsh property known as Bryn Llys Bach, just outside Nebo, not far from Caernarfon. They then set about doing whatever they liked whether they had planning permission or not. (Usually not.) This went hand in hand with cutting down trees and hedgerows that didn’t belong to them and threatening to beat up neighbours who dared complain.

This behaviour went largely unchecked despite complaints to both Cyngor Gwynedd and North Wales Police. Yes, there was a police raid on the property in April 2018, but this was almost certainly carried out or instigated by an English force and connected with the arrest of John Joseph Duggan in Benllech in May of that year.

For Duggan is the father of Jonathan James Duggan, who lives at Bryn Llys with his wife and numerous progeny, plus other gang members. I suggest you catch up with recent developments by reading this posting.

Bryn Llys, then and now. Click to enlarge

In a nutshell, the old house was demolished, a new one built (without planning permission, of course), and this new monstrosity was advertised for sale at £850,000.

It was withdrawn from sale, perhaps because of legal proceedings promised by Cyngor Gwynedd. But now I hear that ‘Snowdon Summit View’ will be among properties auctioned on February 27 in Chester. (Where else?)

The price has reduced from £850,000 to £650,000.

Click to enlarge

The worry is that even if the house sells the gang will still be left with some 20 acres of land nearby. Given how they operate, their contempt for neighbours and all authority, we can expect them to plough ahead with any insane plan they choose.

Given the kind of people we are dealing with, and their contempt for everyone around them, I would have thought that Cyngor Gwynedd could produce a good case for the compulsory purchase of those 20 acres.

LLANBEDR AIRFIELD

Llanbedr is a village lying between Barmouth and Harlech. I got to know it in the summer of ’73. I’d just finished at Coleg Harlech and decided to hang around for a bit longer, so I got a job in Llanbedr’s village pub, the Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria Inn, Llanbedr. Click to enlarge

The regular customers contained a good sprinkling of those working at RAE Llanbedr. These could be further divided into the locals and the ex-service types who had moved to Llanbedr on leaving the forces. As is usual in a colonial context, the locals generally did the unskilled and lower-paid jobs.

Even after leaving the area I managed to maintain some contact with Llanbedr, often by unlikely means. For example, I knew the guy employed to keep the airstrip free of other birds with his hawks.

More recently, the airfield has been used for testing drones and also by a flying school. Bigger plans were thwarted in 2018 when Llanbedr lost out to Sutherland in Scotland as the location for the UK’s main spaceport.

To ease the blow, the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd are pouring in millions of pounds to develop the airfield in some subsidiary role. And Llanbedr is now also part of the split-site Snowdonia Enterprise Zone.

Though the main beneficiary of all this would appear to be Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, which leases the site, or certainly the buildings. Snowdonia Aerospace is based in Dorset. There are some fascinating entries under the ‘People’ tab, where we find those who are or have been involved with this outfit.

Among them Putney Investments Ltd, with an address in Queensland, Australia.

Click to enlarge

‘Snowdonia’ Aerospace has received loans from both the ‘Welsh Government’ and the UK government, but both loans were in 2012, long before thoughts of a Welsh Cape Canaveral. So how do we account for this in 2012?

But then, last October, a new outfit appeared on the scene in the form of Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP. It too is based in Dorset, with the partners being Lee John Paul and Putney Investments Ltd. Fancy that!

Putney Investments obviously gets around. There were a number of companies in Australia using the name, then a dormant company in Hampshire, yet the address given for the latest incarnation is on the Isle of Man.

This begins to look rather fishy. Do those clowns down Corruption Bay know who they’re dealing with? Probably not, so why are they dealing with a Limited Liability Partnership, that most opaque and unaccountable of financial constructs?

Despite the favourable treatment, a source tells me things are not well at Llanbedr, corners are being cut, and copious amounts of bullshit are being spread to confuse politicians, funders, and others.

Here are a few of the things I’m being told:

  • Llanbedr airfield is an enterprise zone with no enterprise
  • Despite charging tenants Snowdonia Aerospace is very reluctant to pay its own water and electricity bills
  • The whole site is deteriorating and Snowdonia Aerospace is simply hanging on for a ‘big player’ to take the place off their hands
  • Safety is compromised in all manner of ways
  • Despite all the hype – and money – there are just two employees
  • Half the ‘enterprise zone’ runs on a generator, which rarely works. Result – many angry tenants
  • Contractors shipped in from outside of Wales have been allowed to sleep in the control tower! (Where they smoke Jamaican Woodbines.)
  • Buildings have been knocked down without consent

There seems little doubt that the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd have been bullied by the UK government and the military into coughing up large sums of our money for a project that is producing no benefits for Wales.

In fact, it’s difficult to see who, apart from the partners in Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, are benefiting. Unless of course it’s the partners in Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP, wherever they might be . . . Queensland, Hampshire or the Isle of Man.

I shall be making further enquiries about Llanbedr airfield, and will almost certainly return to this subject in the near future. If anyone reading this has more information, then please get in touch.

♦ end ♦

 

‘Do you know where your child is tonight?’

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 have borrowed the title of this post from a number of campaigns run by police and other agencies trying to either reduce anti-social behaviour or else protect children by getting parents to take more responsibility.

But what happens when the children are no longer with the parents? I’m thinking now of cases where the children are, supposedly, ‘in care’.

One case came to light recently of a child from Cardiff claiming to have been assaulted at a home to which he’d been sent in Swansea. The family took the case to local councillor and AM, Neil McEvoy, who sought answers . . . and, as usual, Cardiff’s Labour council turned it into a case against Neil McEvoy!

It says a lot about Wales and its political culture that, ‘I want a straight answer’ can be twisted into ‘intimidating behaviour’. But that’s where we are with the colonial management team we know as the Labour Party.

GRASSROOTS (CARDIFF) LTD

Registered as both a charity (1110186) and a company, this is a mechanism for Cardiff Labour Party to exert influence in the care sector. Described on the Charity Commission entry thus:

THE PROVISION OF A CITY CENTRE FACILITY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE SUFFERING SOCIO ECONOMIC DEPRIVATION WHO REQUIRE ASSISTANCE TO HELP AND EDUCATE THEM THROUGH LEISURE-TIME ACTIVITIES SO AS TO DEVELOP THEIR PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL CAPACITIES THAT THEY MAY GROW TO FULL MATURITY AS INDIVIDUALS AND MEMBERS OF SOCIETY AND THEIR CONDITIONS OF LIFE MAY BE IMPROVED.

The Charity Commission entry further informs us that, unsurprisingly, Grassroots (Cardiff) Ltd operates only in Cardiff. As it is both a company and a charity company directors serve as charity trustees

The group was launched in February 2004 and since then a number of Labour luminaries have served as directors, none more luminescent than Albert Huish, long-serving Cardiff councillor and Lord Mayor. Huish joined in April 2006, when he was 92. He died in 2009.

One who’s been with Grassroots since the start is Councillor Iona Gordon. Other Labour councillors have served as directors but Labour loyalties are not always easy to discern. Even so, it’s reasonable to view Grassroots as almost a department of Cardiff City Council.

And when you see names like Marco Antonio Gil-Cervantes and Siobhan Corria then you know you’re at the country crossroads where the third sector sold its soul to the Labour Party one dark night.

Someone else who was in at the start was Paul Anthony O’Donnell, stepping down as a director 28 February 2013, by which time he had branched out on his own.

PRIORITY CHILDCARE LTD

Though he was in business for himself when he joined Grassroots. One company was Paul O’Donnell and Associates Consultancy and Training Services Ltd, formed in December 2001 and dissolved 30 June 2015 with an outstanding debt with HSBC. Another O’Donnell company co-existing with Grassroots was Forward Approach Ltd, but I can find no information.

More recently, May 2016, to be exact, he launched Treharne Properties Ltd with his old mate Leonard Charles Drane, this company is filing as a dormant company. Drane was also a director in Paul O’Donnell and Associates, etc.

Of more importance to this article is the company called Priority Childcare Ltd. Here’s the website and here’s the Companies House entry. Priority Childcare was Incorporated 12 October 2009.

For the first few years it seemed to do very little, but when it moved its address from Treharris, just off the A470 south of Merthyr, to Llandarcy, on the Neath side of Swansea, things started to take off.

Going back to the website – where models portray Priority Childcare’s staff and the kids they look after! – we see a page marked ‘Our Homes’ with seven properties listed. Not entirely correct, for Priority Childcare owns more than the seven listed, but not in its own name.

Click to enlarge

For the properties are all owned – with outstanding loans from the Royal Bank of Scotland – by POLD Holdings Ltd. A name made up of the initials of Paul O’Donnell and Leonard Drane. This company was Incorporated 4 January 2010.

So we see that both Priority Childcare and POLD Holdings were formed when O’Donnell was still with Grassroots, and therefore well-connected with those in Cardiff who had responsibility for children and young people in need of care, counselling and accommodation.

Wasn’t that convenient, boys and girls, for someone about to embark on a spree of buying properties for that very purpose!

In fact, the first three properties were bought a couple of weeks before O’Donnell left Grassroots.

SWANSEA, MY SWANSEA!

Back in May a report in WalesOnline told of the sudden increase in the numbers of children’s homes in Swansea that the council seemed to know little about. (Or maybe it was that nobody wanted to talk about them.)

The article was headlined as if it would give the answer, but it didn’t. Click to enlarge

We can account for a number of those unexplained children’s homes with what we now know of Priority Childcare. For it’s pretty obvious that Priority Childcare and POLD Holdings are taking advantage of cheaper property further west to move kids out of Cardiff.

Given O’Donnell’s Grassroots link, and given its close links with City Hall, it’s reasonable to assume that the O’Donnell-Drane companies are working with the Labour-controlled council.

But why is Swansea council so passive and accommodating when Cardiff dumps its problems on them? Swansea council knows what’s happening, and where these kids are coming from. Is Swansea council now subservient to Cardiff council?

The people of Swansea are entitled to know.

And how long has it been going on? For the table above tells us that Priority Childcare bought its first properties in Swansea in 2013. Yet this Care Inspectorate document says that the first home was not registered until May 2018. Were they operating unregistered before that date?

Staying with the website, the panel below, from the home page, is fascinating, and worrying.

Click to enlarge

To begin with, yes, the website shows seven homes, but the Care Inspectorate document mentions ten. So I’m assuming that Clydwr House in Swansea and Ty Aelwyd in Treharris link with the later purchases shown in the table, leaving one of the Swansea properties still unregistered.

Though anyone who thinks that all the homes are in ‘rural or semi-rural locations’, as Priority Childcare claim, must have been born and raised in downtown Tokyo.

More worrying is the reference to ‘Southwest Children’s Residential Commissioning Framework’, which suggests that Priority Childcare is not just bringing kids from Cardiff to Swansea and neighbouring areas, but is also bringing them from south west England!

The Priority Childcare website really is a thing of wonder. For if we scroll down to the ‘Our Partners’ graphic at the bottom of each page labelled we see Swansea council listed . . . but not Cardiff council!

Yet this outfit is almost certainly contracted by Cardiff council to move kids out of the city to homes in cheaper property further west. And exposing this system is one reason that Neil McEvoy is being persecuted, again.

UPDATE: I am indebted to Stan of Neath for directing me to the National Review of Care Homes for Children in Wales 2018-2019, produced by Care Inspectorate Wales.

In the ‘Summary of Key Findings’ (page 8) we read: ‘Better local commissioning arrangement are required to ensure children’s needs are met as close to home as possible. We found a mismatch between the location of care homes for children in Wales and the placing authorities from which children originate.’

LABOUR PARTY ETHICS

For now we come to the case that sees Neil McEvoy before Cardiff council’s Standards and Ethics Committee this very day. Yes, that’s Labour councillors debating and judging on standards and ethics. I don’t know whether to laugh or to puke. (I might do both, but not at the same time.)

Not for the first time, Neil McEvoy has rendered Wales a service. For moving kids around in the way we’ve looked at makes it difficult to keep track of them and to monitor the care they’re getting. Worse, this difficulty might be what makes such a system attractive to unscrupulous operators and callous council officials.

It’s certainly an issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. For not only is it happening within Wales, there’s also the cross-border dimension. For example, in Powys, all the children in private care homes come from outside the county, almost all of them from England.

Children in need need to be helped as near as possible to their homes and their families. We must stop licensing private care homes that see vulnerable children as money-spinners, with those providing these children operating on the principle ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.

♦ end ♦

 

Bryn Blaen, the wind turbines that never turn

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

While you’re recovering from Christmas, getting your breath back for further excesses at New Year, just take time to read this little piece.

BRYN BLAEN WIND FARM

Just over a year ago, I wrote Corruption in the wind?, which was primarily about the Hendy wind farm, but I also mentioned the linked Bryn Blaen installation. And it’s Bryn Blaen I’m concentrating on here.

The six turbines of the Bryn Blaen wind farm lie to the north of Llangurig, the village you pass by if travelling north-south on the A470, and through which you pass if leaving the A470 to take the A44 down to Aberystwyth.

The ridge above Llangurig upon which Bryn Blaen wind farm now sits. Click to enlarge

Bryn Blaen wind farm is owned – in the first instance – by Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd, which was Incorporated May 18, 2011, though the company was originally known as Development Securities (No 74) Ltd. The project was funded with five loans from Close Leasing Ltd, a Manchester finance company that seems to have a keen interest in renewables.

Hendy wind farm not far away is owned – ditto – by Hendy Wind Farm Ltd, which was also Incorporated May 18, 2011, this time as Development Securities (No 71) Ltd. Thus far there is just one charge with Close Leasing Ltd.

(Development Securities (No 72) Ltd is now Rhoscrowther Wind Farm Ltd. More on Rhoscrowther in a minute.)

The immediate parent company in each case is DS Renewables LLP, which is in turn owned by U and I Group PLC. The U and I Group is a property company focused on London, Manchester and Dublin, but its portfolio extends beyond these cities and is not restricted to commercial and residential property.

Like most of its ilk the U and I Group pretends to be something better than just a property speculator. This clip from the 2019 accounts says it all.

Click to enlarge

In fact, at 229 pages, the 2019 annual report and accounts is quite a tome, though much of it is self-promoting bullshit.

Bryn Blaen appears on page 26, where we also find mention of Hendy and Rhoscrowther wind farms. The figures on the left are the ‘Previous target’ column while those on the right are ‘Realised gains/losses’.

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We see that Hendy and Rhoscrowther have realised nothing; this is due to Hendy still being under construction, while Rhoscrowther was denied planning permission for a third time in April 2018 and appears to be dead in the water.

Bryn Blaen on the other hand has made a return of £4.7m, quite remarkable seeing as its turbines have never turned. This was being reported in January 2019 and little has changed, though I should report that some turbines have shaken the dust off recently . . . almost certainly powered by diesel generators, and done for the benefit of an increasingly sceptical local audience.

The reason Bryn Blaen is not generating electricity is hinted at in the image above, where it mentions ” . . . increased costs in connecting to the grid”. This alludes to a major problem. To wit, there isn’t the capacity on the existing local infrastructure to carry anything generated by Bryn Blaen.

All explained in this remarkable letter from concerned locals to Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, on December 18. You must read this letter.

You’ll see that it mentions a figure of £33,245,067. This can be found on page 7 of the 2019 accounts for Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd, as ‘Assets under construction’.

Though a closer look at page 7 of the accounts (shown below) tells us that Bryn Blaen Wind Farm’s true assets are in fact just £2,076. The thirty-three million figure is made up of debts, and page 15 explains that these are £21,410,000 in bank loans and £12,934,555 owed to U and I Group PLC.

(Wow! If debts can be counted as assets then Jac is rolling in it!)

Click to enlarge

All of which means that Bryn Blaen wind farm is just a pachyderm of a very pale hue, desecrating the Welsh countryside for no discernible benefit to anyone. And yet . . .

On page 9, paragraph 2.2, of the Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd accounts we read the passage below. The implication is that the debts (certainly the bank loans) will be repaid when Bryn Blaen is disposed of at the end of February 2020.

Click to enlarge

Which suggests that someone is going to buy a wind farm that cannot export any electricity it might generate . . . which is why it has generated nothing in the two years of its existence!

This episode raises a number of questions:

  • Why did the Planning Inspectorate overrule Powys County Council to give planning permission in August 2016 to a project that the most cursory investigation would have revealed was utterly useless?
  • Are there other examples like Bryn Blaen?
  • Turbines that have generated nothing for six months can be demolished, so will Lesley Griffiths now do as protesters request and have the Bryn Blaen turbines demolished at developers’ expense?
  • The U and I Group plans to re-submit a planning application for Rhoscrowther wind farm on Milford Haven Waterway; can we therefore assume that Lesley Griffiths will be instructed to approve this application?

The scandal of Bryn Blaen should be a matter of national concern, so don’t just leave it to the locals – you write to Lesley Griffiths, and to your local AM, asking what the hell has happened. Insist on Bryn Blaen being demolished. And demand more stringent checks on local grid capacity and other issues before planning permission is granted for any future wind farms.

WORSE TO COME?

At the risk of being accused of beating a familiar drum I am going to conclude this short piece by looking at the National Development Framework 2020-2040.

For those who may not be familiar with this document, it is the supreme planning guidance for Wales to which plans such as councils’ Local Development Plans (LDPs) and all sub-national strategies must conform. I wrote about it in August.

The NDF is big on renewable energy, as the map below shows. What isn’t given over to wind and solar ‘farms’ is largely accounted for by urban areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the proposed ‘National Forest’, and the vast area north of Aberystwyth promised to the Summit to Sea ‘rewilders’.

But I can’t help wondering what’s planned for that area between the A5 and the A458, east of Dolgellau.

Click to enlarge

Though I suppose the really big question is – who is going to benefit from this National Development Framework?

The individual beneficiaries will be landowners (often absentee), property developers like the U and I Group, and other English ‘investors’. Proving yet again that wind power is more about cashing in on the subsidies than with replacing fossil fuels.

But over and above the individual beneficiaries the National Development Framework is for the benefit of England.

Wind and solar farms won’t provide jobs for Welsh people. And we already produce far more electricity than we consume; yet as with water, we are not allowed to make a profit from what we export. (Though ‘our’ water and electricity can be sold back to us at over-the-odds prices.)

The National Development Framework allows Wales to be exploited as never before, but rather than standing up for Wales our current crop of politicians will rhapsodise over it.

Labour, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dems will bleat about Wales ‘making its contribution’ to ‘saving the planet’, etc., when, in reality, they’ll be turning our beautiful homeland into an al fresco power station. What isn’t covered by wind and solar farms will be retirement and recreation areas for England. Zimmer frames and zip wires.

Tory and Brexit parties will of course support anything that makes money for their pals in the financial sector . . . no matter how shady the deal, no matter how heavy the price Wales has to pay.

The Union with England has never worked to Wales’ advantage, but then, that was never the intention. Yet devolution, we were told, would provide ‘Welsh answers for Welsh problems’; but as Bryn Blaen, the National Development Framework, and countless other examples make clear, devolution is just a pitifully transparent veneer of ‘Welshness’ for continuing exploitation.

If we are to survive and progress as a nation it can only be done by prioritising our interests and focusing on independence without any distractions or self-imposed divisions. So let’s continue building momentum in 2020 on the broadest possible front.

♦ end ♦