Miscellany 22.08.2019

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

‘COME AND JOIN US, COME AND JOIN US . . . ‘

A rather strange story surfaced recently suggesting that Helen Mary Jones, who replaced Simon Thomas as Plaid Cymru regional Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales last August – after Thomas was convicted of possessing child pornography – may not have been a paid-up party member when the spotlight picked her out.

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The suggestion was made in the satirical magazine Lol, which appears for every National Eisteddfod.

Plaid Cymru’s response was, “Helen was and is a member”. Which is no doubt true, but it avoids answering the question of whether she was a member when she was called up to replace convicted paedophile Simon Thomas.

(If a regional seat becomes vacant during an Assembly term, then the person who was next on the list at the time of the previous election is offered the seat first.)

There was certainly a delay in Helen Mary Jones accepting the job, which she put down to a reluctance to leave her post as deputy director at the (Rhodri) Morgan Academy at Swansea University. (A ‘chair’ in the Welsh national game of musical chairs that involves politics, the third sector and academia.)

This was always a lame excuse, and while lapsed membership seems incredible, Jones did admit that it happened.

Though as you can read for yourself, she attributed the membership lapse to moving house, with this resulting in standing orders with her bank being cancelled. But why would moving house affect standing orders?

No, it looks very much as if Helen Mary Jones let her membership lapse and the delay in her taking up the AM role was due to Plaid Cymru covering up this fact. Which then poses the question: If Helen Mary Jones had let her membership lapse was it because she’d lost faith in Plaid Cymru, had there been a bust-up, or was she thinking of joining the Labour Party?

Anyway, the story gets even curiouser because I am informed that the next candidate on the regional list, Vicky Moller, had also neglected to renew her membership.

Had Jones and Moller both let their membership lapse, and therefore been ineligible to replace Simon Thomas, the fourth name on Plaid’s 2016 slate for Mid and West Wales was Freddie Greaves, scarcely a household name in his own household.

Which makes me wonder what the hell is going on in Plaid Cymru. A party that can’t even hang on to its candidates would appear to be in serious trouble.

ON YER BIKE! . . . OR WHATEVER IT IS

A Pembrokeshire source tells me that the county’s roads will soon see three-wheeled taxi-style vehicles. If I’m vague on the exact terminology it’s because Pembrokeshire County Council seems a little unclear as to what it’s dealing with.

Let’s go back to 2005 when the council authorised the use of an “electric motor assisted pedal Rickshaw” for the Tenby area, the relevant document is image 1 below. And it must be referring to something like what we see in image 2.

But now, the Licensing Officer argues that any three-wheel motor vehicle meets the criteria set out in 2005. Alert readers will have noticed that somewhere along the way the pedals have been lost.

Which opens the door to a Tuk Tuk, shown in image 3; or even a three-wheel motor cycle with a massive engine such as we see in image 4.

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You know me, I’m always reluctant to criticise officialdom, but I suggest that in this instance, what was approved in 2005, was clearly a pedal cycle-type vehicle with a supplementary electric engine; not a Tuk Tuk, nor a Harley Davidson on three wheels.

Over to you, Licensing Committee. Be guided by the fact that while they may both be Italian, and begin with the letter F, a Fiat is not a Ferrari. And when it comes to three-wheel vehicles the disparity can be even greater.

STOP PRESS: I hear that there may be a re-think going on down Tenby way.

SAINT SULIEN’S CHURCH, SILIAN

Nationalists of a certain vintage will be familiar with this church, just outside Lampeter. For in its graveyard is buried Julian Cayo-Evans of the Free Wales Army.

I was told that the church is up for sale, so I thought I’d better check with the family before putting anything up on this blog. I did, and it’s true.

Commandant Julian Cayo-Evans. Click to enlarge

It seems that the church was jerry-built just over a hundred years ago and is now beyond repair. So the Church in Wales is selling.

There was a hope of turning St Sulien’s into a community centre, but I hear that plan has fallen through due to the dilapidated state of the building and a lack of interest locally.

Obviously, the church itself is of neither architectural merit nor interest to us, but the graveyard should be significant to all who seek Welsh independence. I would therefore urge that a watching brief be kept to ensure that the churchyard remains accessible to those visiting graves.

I give this warning because I know another church that was sold off by the Church in Wales, along with its graveyard, not far from where I’m sitting now. The new owner (the place is a holiday home) makes it difficult for people to visit graves on ‘his’ property.

GAVIN LEE WOODHOUSE, THE EMPIRE COLLAPSES

It’s not in my nature to gloat, but the dramatic downfall of property tycoon and hotelier Gavin Lee Woodhouse has provided a lot of material for journalists, lawyers, receivers and of course – bloggers. Well, me, anyway.

To jog your memory, Woodhouse is the brains behind the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. But he also owns or owned many hotels and other businesses, both in Wales and England.

My most recent offering on the subject was Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the picture darkens, which went up on Bastille Day.

Since when I’ve received more information about Woodhouse, much of it directing me to snippets about hotels of his being put into receivership. Such as this report, about Caer Rhun in the Conwy Valley and the Fourcroft in Tenby.

Though some who’ve got in touch say I’ve overlooked other characters in this saga. Two in particular.

Despite financial and other backing from the ‘Welsh Government’ Gavin Woodhouse still went under! Click to enlarge.

Let’s start with Robin Scott Forster. One contact would have it that, Forster was, ” . . . his business partner that was with him every step of the way and actually gave him the in, into North Wales”. (Or as I might have phrased it, ‘the in into the inns in North Wales’.)

It may be significant that many of the companies Forster was involved with carry the MBI name. Closer inspection shows that Woodhouse and Forster have operated in tandem for a number of these companies, such as MBI Ferndale Ltd and MBI Tingley Mills Ltd. Or else they joined/left on the same day, as happened with MBI Social Care Smithy Bridge Ltd and MBI Hotel Management Ltd.

All of which suggests two men working together. Yet Forster seems to have avoided involvement in Woodhouse’s hotels in Wales, for many of these were solo efforts by Woodhouse.

If Forster belongs to the past then the new boy on the block would appear to be Iain Andrew Shelton. Who has joined many of the Woodhouse companies. Here’s a link to all Shelton’s companies.

It tells us that on 9 July he joined various companies including Caer Rhun Hall Hotel Ltd, Fourcroft Hotel (Tenby) Ltd and Queens Hotel (Llandudno) Ltd.

Next, on 15 July, it was Caer Rhun Hotel Management Ltd, Queens Hotel (Llandudno) Management Ltd, Llansantffraed Court Hotel Ltd, Fishguard Bay Hotel Ltd and assorted other Woodhouse companies.

Finally, on 1 August, Shelton even became a director of three companies bearing the ‘Woodhouse Family’ element in their names.

It seems clear that Shelton got involved when the shit was already heading towards the fan. Now why would he do that? Seeing as he’s from the same area as Woodhouse is he helping out a friend?

I feel sure I’ll be returning to the Woodhouse empire in a little while. For even though the one-time leading man may no longer be treading the boards the play continues.

Anyone with information on Forster or Shelton is welcome to contact me.

LEANNE WOOD, THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

The deposed leader of Plaid Cymru worries that Stop and Search is racist. Why, she wonders, will more young black males be searched “than wealthy, middle class regular cocaine users”.

Shall we tell her, boys and girls? It’s cos Stop and Search is about knives not drugs!!

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Though maybe she has a point, so let’s broaden the demographic to include elderly white women . . . visiting Inuit . . . Peruvian trade delegations . . . rabbis (Orthodox and Reform) . . . or Salvation Army people – for everyone knows that uniforms mean weapons. Come to that, and to prove their impartiality, why don’t the police search themselves?

Better still, why not have the police searched by young black males?

Or how about this – if there can be a citizen’s arrest, why not a citizen’s search? Now that would be fun!

Bottom line: Starting from a different political direction to Leanne Wood, I also wish things were otherwise. But facts is facts.

Santes Leanne has also called on us to support US leftist thugs Antifa who, apparently, need our solidarity “now more than ever”. Not because of anything planned by the “far-right”, as she alleges, but because the US government is considering declaring Antifa a domestic terrorist organisation.

Here we see another example of any moderate voice opposing the far left automatically becoming ‘far right’ or ‘fascist’.

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More worrying is that Leanne Wood’s supporters within Plaid Cymru would like to bring Antifa to Wales. The signs are there for all to see, but too many people in Plaid Cymru feign blindness.

In an earlier post I drew attention to a Welsh Antifa sticker in Cardiff, around the same time I picked up on a Plaid Ifanc tweet about Antifa. And someone from Undod was wandering around the Caernarfon rally on July 27 with Antifa stickers, affixing them to the backs of those she decided were ‘fascists’.

(Plaid Ifanc is the party’s youth wing, and Undod is a group refusing to accept independence unless they can organise the purges and decide who gets the one-way ticket to the gulags.)

The image below shows, working clockwise from the top left: the ‘Wxm’ (Wrexham) Antifa sticker in Cardiff – with the dragon facing the wrong way!; the disrespectful use of our patron saint on the Cachupostio FB page; the Antifa stickers girl behind the Undod banner at Caernarfon; the Plaid Ifanc Antifa tweet . . .

While, finally, at bottom left (appropriately), we find the inspiration for it all – Antifa stormtroopers in the USA ready to sally forth and beat the living shit out of anybody who disagrees with their mantra of love, peace and inclusivity.

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I know who the Antifa sticker girl in Caernarfon is and I know her affiliations. Those behind the infantile Facebook page are to be found in Cwmtawe and Neath. One of them, a chubby youth, made the headlines a while back when he became the youngest town councillor in Wales. Despite being members of Plaid Cymru their loyalty is to Leanne Wood not the party.

Following Wood’s humiliation in last year’s leadership contest, rather than accept that they represent a minority view within Plaid Cymru (and are rejected by the population at large), these Leannistas carry on as if they are the voice of the people with a monopoly on the truth. If you can convince yourself of that, then it stands to reason that anyone who questions you must be a fascist.

They claim to be part of the independence movement, but they’ve jumped on this bandwagon for the same reason they were drawn to Plaid Cymru when Leanne Wood was leader – because it offers a platform for them to promote their extreme brand of socialism with its divisive add-ons, all of which should be extraneous to a campaign for Welsh independence.

If Antifa is declared a domestic terrorist organisation in the USA, then these juveniles, and their older mentors, could prove to be a great embarrassment to Plaid Cymru.

This wouldn’t bother me in the least, Plaid would deserve all it got due to being so weak; but the independence movement is too important to be damaged by the stunts of puerile extremists.

As I write this news comes in of another Leanne Wood ‘special’ on Twitter following Donald Trump’s suggestion that many Jews have divided loyalties.

The ‘divided loyalty’ allegation is regularly made by all sorts of people, and is almost inevitable given that many US Jews have dual nationality. But what Trump actually said was that Jews who vote Democrat are disloyal to the USA, and are also disloyal to Israel.

It’s a way of saying that true Americans vote Republican. Whether you like it or not, that’s US politics. The Democrats in the USA, like the Labour Party here, get most of the immigrant and minorities vote.

For the record: Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Jewish. Kushner is a senior adviser at the White House. Trump himself has always been a strong supporter of Israel.

But let’s return to Leanne Wood.

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She’s obviously wrong to call the President “anti-Semitic”, and I’m not sure that what she’s attacking is “Orwellian doublespeak”, or “gaslighting”.

Though she’s entirely predictable in seeking to defend the Labour Party.

‘WELSH’ LABOUR’S WAR ON FARMING

Throughout the twenty years of devolution the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government in Cardiff Bay has, time after time, proved its hostility to Welsh farming and to Welsh farmers.

With measures such as the One Wales: One Planet initiative of 2009, designed to attract a new population into rural Wales. Reinforced in 2013 with the decision to take 15% of Wales’ EU’s Common Agricultural Policy payments away from farmers and transfer it to ‘rural development projects’. In other words, the kind of scams dreamed up by the new population taking over our countryside.

More recently we have seen attempts by George Monbiot and others to take over vast areas of Wales and justify the land grab by arguing that Welsh farmers are damaging the environment, whereas they, with their tree-planting, and their ‘re-wilding’, will give succour to Mother Earth.

In the small print it becomes obvious that Welsh farmers will have to like it or lump it. In fact, it’s been spelled out by a couple of those involved in the purest meme sahib manner.

Listen to Natalie Buttriss, the Director of Wales for the Woodland Trust, a partner in the Summit to Sea rewilding project, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’ programme last October. (N.B. ‘of Wales’, not, for Wales.)

And if you need further convincing of the kind of people we’re dealing with, their attitudes and their motivations, then watch this video of Rebecca Wrigley of Rewilding Britain talk about the Summit to Sea project.

Inevitably, the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ has gone along with this Clearance programme, partly because, bizarrely, too many socialists in Wales identify with middle class English people rather than with hard-working Welsh farmers.

This colonised mindset is regrettably not confined to the Labour Party. You only have to press the magic ‘Environment!’ button for some in Plaid Cymru to view our farmers as fascists in wellies – Summon Antifa!

The latest Labour Party assault on Welsh farmers comes in the form of new legislation regarding the use of fertilisers, effective from 1 January 2020. The report below is from the Tivy-Side Advertiser and the image of dead fish clearly feeds into the ‘farming destroys the environment’ narrative.

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Clearly, no one wants to see dead fish, but what the ‘Welsh Government’ is proposing goes way beyond measures needed to avoid spillages. It could be interpreted as part of a wider strategy. Or even a pincer movement.

For on the one hand the ‘Welsh Government’ is promising to reduce funding for farmers, but with this new legislation it makes farming more expensive. This will result in farmers being forced out of business.

Which in turn frees up more Welsh land for recreation and rewilding; taking us ever closer to the ultimate objective of ‘Playground Wales’. England’s playground, of course; with us Welsh marginalised, if not removed entirely.

♦ end ♦

 

National Development Framework

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 the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ produced the first version of the consultation document for its 20-year National Development Framework (NDF). Those of a masochistic bent may read it here.

Should you wish to make your feelings known, then the response form is here.

(Unless otherwise attributed, all images are from the National Development Framework and belong, presumably, to the ‘Welsh Government’.)

The front cover might be a sensible, if unoriginal, place to start.

There we see the Sail Bridge over the Tawe with, on the left, the University of Wales Trinity St David’s new campus. Behind the buildings in the middle distance there’s the Prince of Wales Dock; this is now an area of flats, offices, hotels, restaurants and bars.

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Almost all these were drawn to the area on the promise that the Prince of Wales Dock would become a marina. But the money allocated for the project was used elsewhere by the ‘Welsh Government’. Which means that the shiny new buildings look out onto an expanse of brackish water.

In the article I’ve just linked to you’ll read the decision being defended by the Cardiff-based South Wales Chamber of Commerce, on the grounds that the marina was not the “right priority” for public money. But the money we’re talking about was raised from the sale of land in the area and ‘ring-fenced’ for the PoW Dock.

That contribution tells us a lot about which areas have benefited from devolution and which areas have lost out. Also, who wields influence in 21st century Wales. I mean, why did WalesOnline ask South Wales Chamber of Commerce for a quote?

The NDF document is so self-congratulatory in parts, and elsewhere full of promises that, on reading it, I was reminded of a child’s letter to Father Christmas. You know the kind of thing, ‘Dear Santa, I have been very good this year and I would like . . .’.

Can’t help wondering if a copy of the NDF was posted to Lapland.

Part 1 is the Introduction, and this is what the NDF has to say of itself:

“The NDF is the highest tier of development plan and is focused on issues and challenges at a national scale. Its strategic nature means it does not allocate development to all parts of Wales, nor does it include policies on all land uses. It is a framework which will be built on by Strategic Development Plans (SDPs) at a regional level and Local Development Plans (LDPs) at local authority level.”

Part 2, ‘Wales – An Overview’, begins with this gem.

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All of which is true, no doubt, but it neglects to mention that the population of Wales is ageing faster than the other countries of these islands, and that life expectancy in Wales is falling faster than the other countries, also that in addition to these factors the main reason our population is ageing at such an alarming rate is because people retire to Wales from England.

The 2011 Census told us that in some areas the majority of those in the 65+ age bracket were born in England. In Conwy, just 37.1% of the over 65s were born in Wales. This movement is encouraged by a number of factors, including a care fees threshold of £50k, compared to £23,250 in England.

And then there’s the added incentive of free prescriptions.

This means that the poorest country in the UK, where the population already contains the highest percentage of elderly people, is actively encouraging yet more elderly people to move to Wales.

Figures supplied by ONS. My table. Click to enlarge

This phenomenon obviously puts a strain on health and associated services, which results in funding being diverted from other budgets, such as education. Perhaps it could even be argued that Welsh kids get an inferior education due to retirees from England.

But of course no Welsh politician or civil servant will dare admit this. Worse, they’ll even try to put a positive gloss on this population movement, as I found when I submitted a Freedom of Information request. Here’s an extract from the response.

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An ageing population is viewed as a problem across the developed world. The prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, recently declared the issue of a falling birthrate and an ageing population to be “a national crisis”.

So across the world it’s a problem or a crisis, but here in Wales an ageing population is “something positive”. I leave it to you to decide whether the ‘Welsh Government’ doesn’t understand the problem or whether it’s just lying.

The National Development Framework says nothing about limiting or mitigating the effects of this damaging influx. Which could be achieved by reducing the care fee allowance to £10,000 for people who have not lived in Wales for ten years prior to applying for care.

Part 3 is a wish list entitled ‘Outcomes’, eleven in all. ‘Outcomes’, that word so beloved of bullshitters and con artists in government, academe, the third sector and elsewhere.

This is virtue signalling on steroids. Anyone reading it should pause and ask, ‘Why should I believe that the same clowns who have run Wales into the ground over the past 20 years will deliver a land of milk and honey in the future?’

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Only intellectually-challenged Labour supporters and desperate Unionists will believe this. Because, believe me, those who wrote it don’t believe it.

Part 4 is headed, ‘Strategic and Spatial Choices: the NDF Spatial Strategy’. It tells us what’s planned to happen and where; this section contains a bit more ‘meat’.

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It begins by telling us that there are three ‘national growth areas’. These are: Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys; Wrexham and Deeside; Swansea Bay and Llanelli.

The first speaks for itself seeing as the ‘Welsh Government’ and others have been pushing the ‘city region’ idea for decades. Our north east is merging into north west England, an arrangement the ‘Welsh Government’ has helped create by prioritising cross-border links and pouring money into Deeside to create jobs for Merseyside and Cheshire. Which leaves the Swansea area as Wales’ only natural and organic conurbation. And, inevitably, the area most neglected by the ‘Welsh Government’.

A word that crops up throughout the document is ‘sustainability’, often coupled with reference to the Well-being of Future Generations Act. This provides more opportunity to list pious hopes, but it also sets out where investors will be allowed to exploit Wales.

The map on page 42 (and below) shows the areas where wind or solar power is to be allowed. With a few district heat networks in the cities and larger towns. Most of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion seems to be given over to wind and solar farms.

Will there be any room for farming? Click to enlarge

Take out urban areas, national parks, unsuitable terrain, and it seems that most of what remains is to be covered in solar panels and wind turbines.

And then wonder where our ‘National Forest’ will fit in. For on page 35 of the NDF we read, “The Welsh Government has therefore set a target to increase woodland cover in Wales by at least 2,000 hectares per annum from 2020.”

The same page tells us, “Any sites or development proposals, which require planning permission and forming part of this project, should be supported where appropriate.” Which I take to mean a presumption in favour of new woodland. Perhaps refusal of planning permission at local level will be over-ruled by the ‘Welsh Government’ or the new planning inspectorate it has promised.

Is it a coincidence that the area earmarked for the Summit to Sea land-grab north of Aberystwyth is free of wind and solar farms?

I believe that woodland and carbon capture will be the new subsidy/tax break wheeze for investors, multinationals and others. With the scale of the exploitation disguised by ensuring maximum publicity for a few small, locally-owned projects.

I say that because a couple of recent newspaper reports point in that direction. (The image is quite large, so you might prefer it in PDF format.)

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When the UK government puts a monetary value on the carbon-capture qualities of our uplands, and academics urge the planting of trees on grazing land, then we can almost guarantee that various forms of  ‘greenwash’ largesse are not far behind . . . hotly pursued by a slavering horde of shysters.

Part 5. As we saw in Part 4, the National Development Framework breaks colonial Wales down, like Caesar’s Gaul, into three parts. Just to remind you, these are North, Mid and South West, and South East.

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Starting with the north again, we see that in addition to the main growth points of Wrexham and Deeside, the ‘Centres of Regional Growth’ are all on the north coast – Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Caernarfon.

To see four towns on the Costa Geriatrica that are already over-developed (in the sense that they don’t really serve Wales) marked for further development is absurd. Especially as they’re so close to each other.

The northern hinterland is presumably given over to tourism, tree planting, ‘re-wilding’, etc. But couldn’t Blaenau Ffestiniog, almost slap-bang in the middle of the ‘forgotten zone’, have been made a Centre of Regional Growth instead of Colwyn Bay or Prestatyn?

I’ve added ‘Blaenau Ffestiniog’. Click to enlarge

The emphasis on the coastal strip looks like the A55 commuter corridor, designed to take the housing not wanted by the upmarket towns and villages of Cheshire.

Moving south and west we have the Swansea conurbation as the main growth point complemented by eight Centres of Regional Growth with another example of ‘bunching’. For while I understand the need to do something for Pembroke and Pembroke Dock, do they really need to be treated separately?

I wish defenders of the NDF the best of luck in the Severn Valley explaining to the people of Welshpool why Newtown was chosen and not their town. Newtown that has seen much investment in recent decades from the Mid Wales Development Corporation of the 1960s up to the new by-pass that opened earlier this year.

More surprising though is the choice of Llandrindod. Why not Brecon? Llandrindod could serve as the archetype for ‘sleepy rural town’, enlivened only by the riff-raff dumped there by various agencies.

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Just like the north, the Mid and South West region is to have its own Metro. If these ever materialise then in the north it will result in better links with England, while in Swansea, a new Parkway station at Felindre will mean quicker travel times between the west and Cardiff, and a change of trains to go into Swansea.

Finally, let’s consider the master plan for the south east. Though if the management team in Corruption Bay gets its way then the south east of Wales will soon be Greater Cardiff.

There are fewer Centres of Regional Growth in the south east than in either of the other regions. In the north, there are four CRGs within 22 miles of each other, but just four in the whole of the south east, which has double the population of the north.

Specifically, and seeing as the ‘Welsh Government’ has promised Ebbw Vale so much in the wake of the Circuit of Wales fiasco, I’m surprised that Glyn Ebwy isn’t a CRG.

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You may have noticed a small green belt between Wrexham and Chester, well there’s a much bigger green belt, or ‘wedge’, in the south east. It seems to be a tapering, westward extension of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It takes in the area around the town of Usk, pushes on past Newport, and ends just south of Caerphilly. Presumably this protects Caerphilly Mountain from development? But not, apparently, Gwern y Domen.

I thought there was also a green belt between Cardiff and Newport, but apparently not. So maybe it’s a case of ‘Good-bye Newport – hello Cardiff East!’

The NDF document admits on page 67 that “Prosperity is not uniform across the region.” Wow! what a surprise. The same could be said for the whole bloody country. And we know the problem – the mini-me London that is our capital.

CONCLUSIONS

This uninspiring document was put together by people, many of whom don’t really know Wales, and to compensate for this ignorance they’ve relied too heavily on vested interests, and local big-wigs interested only in their patch.

When suggestions dried up, they adopted a ‘more of the same’ approach. Which probably explains why a passage from the Bible came to mind when I was reading this document: “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath”.

The National Development Framework is not – and could never be – a document setting out desirable national development over the next 20 years because the contributors were incapable of taking a truly national view.

For example, there has been a campaign running for a few years to re-open the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth railway line. This would provide an environmentally-friendly north-south link, the ‘Welsh Government’ has given £300,000 for a feasibility study, county and town councils support it, so why is there no mention of this project in the National Development Framework?

Why the emphasis on cross-border links in a document supposedly serving Wales?

And if this document is about serving Wales, then why is so much of our country being surrendered to wind farms and solar farms? There is little local benefit, very few jobs, and the argument that these reduce Wales’ carbon footprint is nonsense.

When it comes to wind turbines, we could do more for the environment by not importing these things from the continent, by not letting them trundle through our countryside on huge, smoke-belching trucks, and by not cutting down trees or destroying peat deposits to erect them.

Yet if the environment is the issue, and if the desire is for Wales to play its part, then why is there no support for locally-owned hydro and other schemes? I think that question answers itself – it’s because they’ll be locally owned.

Anyone who says wind farms are good for Wales, or for the environment, is either a liar, a fool, an ‘investor’, a landowner, or a politician spinning a line in ‘greenwash’. Click to enlarge.

The National Development Framework also mentions ‘affordable housing’ more than once, but no definition is offered. If you think it means rented social housing then think again. ‘Affordable housing’ is a ‘flexible’ term that can mean whatever the person using it wants it to mean.

That’s because the housing market itself is rather confusing, what with housing associations building properties for sale and for rent, even ‘fleecehold’ properties. Many Registered Social Landlords have also set up private subsidiaries that are little different to Redrow and Persimmon, and competing unfairly with smaller, local building firms. This sector really does need a shake-up.

If only to cut down on the waste of public funding when social housing providers allocate properties to people with no Welsh connections, and often people that nobody’d want as neighbours.

Insisting that no one could be given a social housing tenancy unless they’d lived in Wales for five years would both save money and improve social cohesion.

In addition to the ignorance and ineptitude at lower levels, the deeper problem is that the National Development Framework is essentially a colonial strategy – ‘Let Wales continue to serve England’s interests, with the local management team providing a smokescreen by virtue signalling to their little hearts’ content.’

Let us hope and pray that the current political and constitutional chaos results in the collapse of the United Kingdom and the emergence of independent and reunited countries in these islands.

All copies of the National Development Framework can then be pulped. Along with the buffoons down Corruption Bay that put their names to this national insult.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 05.08.2019

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

RHIGOS VIEWPOINT/CRAIG Y LLYN CAR PARK

In the previous post, Family silver, I wondered what exactly is planned for the Rhigos area with the arrival of Zip World. A question worth asking after ZW recently took on Greg Evans, a man whose background is in the storage of nuclear waste and offshore wind turbines.

And not just him, for another recent recruit was Giles Alexander Thorley . . . the CEO of the Development Bank of Wales.

I concluded that whatever is planned for Rhigos goes way beyond zip wires.

Suspicions raised by the curious tale of the sale – or non-sale – of the Rhigos Viewpoint, overlooking the area in which Zip World claims it will be operating. Picking up from where we left off in my previous post, here’s an update.

Rhigos Viewpoint looking towards (right centre) Craig y Llyn, a jumping off point for one of the zip wires. Image courtesy of Google. Click to enlarge.

First, a good source, familiar with the workings of the ‘Welsh Government’, suggested that the area was put up for sale to comply with the requirement to advertise public land . . . before claiming there was ‘no interest’ and then handing it over to a favoured party, in this case, probably Zip World.

Going through the motions like that makes sense.

But then, on Friday, someone else got in touch to say that he had seen the advertisement – and made an enquiry. So now it gets interesting.

The reply he received from Natural Resources Wales said, rather curtly: “Thank you for your enquiry. I can advise that Craig y Llyn Carpark (sic) is not for sale.”

So my source wrote back asking why it had appeared on the register of public property for sale. Here’s the second answer he received:

“Please accept my apologies for this area of land appearing on the gov.uk site.

Back in 2014, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) considered selling this area of land along with a number of other sites and they were added to the government register as potential surplus sites that other public bodies could express an interest in before being offered on the open-market.

However, after further consideration NRW decided to retain the land. Unfortunately the government register was not updated. I confirm that NRW currently has no plans to sell this land and the record has now been updated to reflect that the site is to be retained.”

First, note that the link provided by NRW is to a UK Government portal rather than to any specific site for sale of public assets, for which there’s a link in my sidebar.

Then the NRW response says that the land was put up for sale in 2014 so that other ” . . . public bodies could express a interest . . . before being offered on the open-market (sic)”. Clearly suggesting that the Rhigos Viewpoint was advertised internally and then withdrawn without appearing on the public/open market register.

Craig y Llyn and Llyn Fawr from the Rhigos Viewpoint. Click to enlarge

In which case, how did my source – and others – see it on the open register? And why does the register give the date 27/06/2019?

This response from Natural Resources Wales bears the hallmark of someone told to tell porkies but not understanding the full story and only making things worse.

‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave . . .’.

A DOSE OF REALITY

Last Monday saw the release of a new Welsh Political Barometer/YouGov poll which makes for interesting reading for people like me, but depressing reading for many others.

Here are the findings of the poll. The figures in brackets represent the changes from previous WPB/YouGov poll conducted before the EU elections in May.

All parties seemed to take hope from the results except for Labour, obviously. (And perhaps the Greens, but who gives a toss about them.). Though what do the figures really tell us?

For the first time ever, Plaid Cymru leads in the constituency vote for the Assembly . . . without any gain in support! Also, in the regional vote, gaining just one percentage point. For Westminster elections, and despite going up by two points, Plaid Cymru is now in fifth place.

Plaid Cymru spokespersons can crow all they like, but it can’t hide the fact that with the Labour vote in free-fall Plaid Cymru is not gaining by that much. This is worth saying because the assumption always was that as Labour’s century of dominance started coming to an end its ‘socialist’ voters would transfer to Plaid Cymru.

With PM Boris Johnson heading for a No Deal Brexit, the Labour Party in London and Cardiff ‘led’ by men who seem to be more shadow than substance, Welsh voters still find a Liberal Democrat Party led by a woman nobody’s heard of and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party more attractive than Plaid Cymru.

Why is Plaid Cymru so woefully unable to carpe the old diem? For a number of surveys tell of increased support for independence, so why isn’t this reflected in backing for Plaid Cymru?

I don’t understand it. I mean, a party so concerned with transgender ishoos, and then – when it’s not smooching Labour and Deryn – outing misogynists, homophobes and fascists (apparently I’m all three – and more!); surely such a party, especially with its promise to remedy these ills by delivering a Marxist-Leninist-woke-feminist republic, should be at least 20 points ahead in the polls.

I shall have to take me up unto an high place and ponder this conundrum . . . if I can find any space on the moral high ground.

GWYNEDD PLANNERS

You may recall that I have written a few times about how easy it is to run rings around Gwynedd’s planners.

One notable case was Plas Pistyll (of blesséd memory) where, over time, holiday-only replacements for trailer homes metamorphosed – by incremental changes to the original planning permission – into luxury year-round dwellings. And nobody in the planning department noticed!

Click to enlarge

Give yourself a treat and read all about it in Wilmslow-sur-Mer.

Another Gwynedd planning disaster was that at Bryn Llys, Nebo, where a bunch of crooks from over the border bought a traditional Welsh dwelling, extended it, extended it again without planning permission, got retrospective planning permission, exceeded that, ended up with an extension three times the size of the original house, then demolished the original building, and put the ‘extension’ on the market for £850,000.

To help you grasp the full horror of this case, here’s a photograph I received recently showing the original Bryn Llys and outbuildings overshadowed by the vile ‘extension’.

Click to enlarge

While this saga unfolded neighbours and others kept Gwynedd planners informed and asked for action to be taken. Nothing was done.

Now I hear that Gwynedd’s planners may finally be stirring, with a “pre-trial hearing” of some kind scheduled for 6 September.

But don’t hold your breath, for my belief is that this case has gone too far. There is no way that Cyngor Gwynedd will insist on the demolition of a property up for sale with a price tag of £850,000.

The crook who seems to own the property is Jonathan James Duggan (aka Ripley) of West Yorkshire, who lives on the site, with his large family, in a shed he has been ordered to demolish. One way he and his father (currently in prison) make their money is by ordering expensive goods and equipment, not paying for them, then selling on those goods.

This probably explains how Duggan found the money to build Bryn Llys Newydd, for when he appeared in court on a criminal damage charge in September 2016 he claimed to be surviving on state benefits.

He has as one of his sidekicks a would-be rocker and English supremacist from the Bristol area by the name of Shane Baker. There are others in the gang.

In addition to laughing at Cyngor Gwynedd this crew has also intimidated and terrorised neighbours, and caused great damage by trying to steal land, often in attempts to improve the access to Bryn Llys. Done to facilitate whatever plans may be in the pipeline, because there’s quite a bit more land. Glamping and even zip wires have been mooted by Duggan.

Despite the wealth of information and witness testimony North Wales Police seems uninterested in Duggan and his gang at Bryn Llys. Yes, there was a police raid in April last year, but that wasn’t GogPlod.

I look at cases like Bryn Llys (and God knows, I’ve looked at plenty!) where decent people have their lives fucked over by scumbags like this and I think to myself: ‘There’s no point in appealing to any authority because ultimately all authority in Wales answers to London.’ 

Maybe we need something more. Some organisation beleaguered Welsh communities could turn to to run bastards like these out of Wales.

UPDATE 09.08.2019: I have been informed that a new company was formed on 27 June named Bryn Llys Ltd, which you’ll see is in the business of ‘Holiday centres and villages’. The secretary, sole director, and holder of all the shares, is Andrew Battye of Huddersfield, long suspected of being the money behind Bryn Llys.

Maybe the question now should be, where does the money come from? Battye was in business with Duggan Jnr in a company called Bridge Glazing Systems Ltd, which went out of business after a few years and without filing any accounts.

Let us hope that both Cyngor Gwynedd and North Wales Police do their jobs, because what has already been built at Bryn Llys, and what might be planned for Bryn Llys (and perhaps elsewhere), will be funded from criminal activity, and is almost certainly a form of money laundering.

IS THE RIGHT BEING MOBILISED?

There was a rally in Swansea on Saturday ahead of the Swans’ opening match of the season against Hull City. (Won 2 – 1, seeing as you asked.) Or maybe it was two rallies, I’m not sure. Because the WalesOnline report mentioned both the Never Surrender Veterans Group and Million Veteran(s) March.

The first of which ” . . . is a group largely made up of ex-veterans who support servicemen and women”. I’ve never heard of this group so I tried to find out more.

All I could find was a mixed martial arts group in Kansas and another US group helping disabled veterans have specially adapted transport. The Welsh group has a closed Facebook page created four months ago, and that seems to be it.

The Million Veteran March also appears to draw its inspiration from the USA and seems to take its name from another US organisation. Though the name also crops up in recent UK news reports. With quite extensive coverage on a site new to me called Unity News Network.

The organisers and the WO report made great play of the number of bikers attending. To judge by the photographs most if not all of them belong to the Valley Commandos. This club started out as a Cardiff City supporters group so I don’t understand how they’ve drifted into right wing Unionist politics.

Because make no mistake about it, Soldier F, is now a rallying cry, not just for supportive veterans, but also for the usual suspects on the far right. And they were also there on Saturday, Swansea’s gang of Rangers supporters and ‘Loyalists’.

As Fred Astaire sang, ‘There may be trouble ahead . . . ‘ because there could be problems, maybe civil unrest, in the coming year no matter which way things pan out with Brexit. Was what we saw in Swansea on Saturday – with a rally in Brecon to follow – a glimpse of things to come?

The UK leaves the EU on October 31; after which Scotland will be threatening to secede, more and more Welsh people will be questioning the English connection, and God only knows what will be happening over the water.

In a shit-storm like that, overseen by politicians following those titans of statecraft, Micawber and Trump, blind and unquestioning British patriotism will be demanded of us all. Or else!

CLARIFICATION: Let me make clear that this is not a criticism of service personnel past or present voicing sincerely-held concerns or remembering fallen comrades. This is a warning against hangers-on, the far right, Walter Mitty types and unscrupulous politicians.

A MESSAGE FROM UNCLE JAC

Strangely enough, there were no representatives in Swansea of the very vocal element on the fringes of Plaid Cymru that targets ‘fascists’.

No, it wasn’t really surprising because the truth is they only use the ‘fascist!’ smear against those who challenge Plaid Cymru, and more especially the party’s extreme left wing fringe. I’m talking now of Plaid Ifanc, Undod, Undeb Plaid Cymru and a few individuals.

(Defending Neil McEvoy, criticising Deryn, attacking Labour, questioning the role of the third sector, asking who was involved in the Carl Sargeant affair, etc . . . these and other crimes also incur the wrath of those I’m talking about.)

There’s no question that these left wing extremists – no more than a few dozen in total – are trying to influence if not direct the growing independence movement. It became apparent – not long after YesCymru first appeared – with this piece from ‘Sawel ap Harri’ entitled The Marxist case for Welsh independence.

That gem appeared on Nation.Cymru which has more recently given space to a number of similar pieces. We were blest with two on the first day of this month. One was, The independence movement must embody the principles of the nation we want to live in, by Plaid Ifanc; and the other, Why the lack of diversity in the independence movement is a problem, by Leia Fee.

The second of those is a real hoot about ‘intersectionality’, ‘under-represented demographics’ and other terms I’m sure you use every day. Basically, it argued for breaking down the population of Wales into lots of different and competing groups.

The comments to that piece made it clear that most people thought Leia Fee was talking bollocks, and dangerous bollocks at that, at a time when we should all be promoting unity in the push for independence.

Though perhaps the best response came on Twitter.

Click to enlarge

But the idiocies come thick and fast, as does the hypocrisy. I’ve recently written about the attacks on me from young Aled Gwyn Williams of Maesteg (and his dog, Teifi). Aled wants the world to know that I’m an absolute brute, guilty of all manner of heinous crimes, including misogyny.

I’m sure my laughter could be heard miles away when someone sent me this recent tweet by Aled Gwyn Williams. (If Teifi’s ears pricked up, son, it was because he heard me.)

I understand some people are looking for examples of misogyny, I submit this example for consideration. Click to enlarge

The left is playing a dangerous and divisive game, perhaps egged on by someone whose absence from the independence marches in Cardiff and Caernarfon has not gone unnoticed.

Calling me a misogynist, or Ein Gwlad ‘fascistic’, and then trying to cause divisions in the independence movement by demanding that everyone be labelled, while insisting they’ll only accept independence on their terms, can only damage what should be a broad-based and inclusive national movement.

Some will dismiss such behaviour as juvenile, others find it suspicious. Worryingly, too many who should know better defend or support it. Either way, this behaviour is serving something other than the cause of Welsh independence.

♦ end ♦

 

Family silver

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 want to pull together a number of threads without, I hope, complicating the story too much.

TOWER COLLIERY

Let’s start by going back to this post I wrote last December and scroll down to the section headed ‘The left betrays Wales, again’. What I tried to explain was the recent history of the Tower Colliery site since deep mining finished in January 2008.

I wrote that the closure was followed by a short period of opencast mining, to extract some six million tons of anthracite coal. This began in May 2012 and ended in March 2017, when new environment regulations meant that Aberthaw power station could no longer take Tower’s coal.

From what I can make out, this opencast operation was a partnership between the original Tower Colliery Ltd (Incorporated 28.11.1994), Tower Regeneration Ltd (Inc 20.08.2009), and a company from north east England called Hargreaves Services Plc As explained here.

The open cast site seems to be owned by Tower Regeneration with a loan from Forward Sound Ltd, a company linked to Hargreaves.

Tower Colliery Ltd is ultimately owned by Goitre Tower Anthracite Ltd. The 488 Goitre shareholders are I assume former miners and the relatives of former miners. With the maximum individual holding apparently limited to 8,260 of the 2,164,075 shares.

With open cast mining finished, what is to become of this high and windy, but scenically attractive, area?

The answer would appear to be . . . zip wires!

‘TOP O’ THE WORLD, MAM’

The title of this section is taken from that great film noir, White Heat, and the line spoken by Cody Jarrett, played by James Cagney, before the gas tank on which he’s standing explodes. (Obviously, in the movie, Jarrett says ‘Ma’, not ‘Mam’.)

I use it because Rhigos can give that top of the world feeling. And that’s where we are, on the A4061 that makes its way from the A465 Heads of the Valleys road down into the Rhondda. On the map below you’ll see, marked with a red cross, the Rhigos Viewpoint, a large lay-by giving superb views over the surrounding country.

Image courtesy of Google Earth. Click to enlarge.

Not only that, but in bad weather the Rhigos Viewpoint serves as a temporary depot for Rhondda Cynon Taf gritting lorries, allowing them to travel in both directions and avoid the climb up from their regular depots in the valley below.

Why then was the Viewpoint recently put up for sale?

Click to enlarge

We see that the online sale document is dated 27 June and Lesley Griffiths’ letter to Lee Waters AM is dated 16 July. Between these dates concerned locals noticed the sale, someone living in Llanelli contacted his AM, Lee Waters, who wrote to Ken ‘Flint Ring’ Skates; the civil servants in Cardiff or wherever realised they’d been rumbled, pulled the advert, and Lesley Griffiths replied to Lee Waters denying any sale.

A little episode that does not reflect well on those who manage Wales for their bosses in London. Lesley Griffiths in particular is getting a bit of a reputation for being averse to the truth.

Returning to Rhigos . . . If we look at this image of the viewpoint and lay-by we see, centre right, Craig y Llyn, the jumping-off point for one of the three planned zip wires.

Image Courtesy of Google. Click to enlarge.

Maybe the real question is, if the Rhigos Viewpoint is to be included in the Zip World project, why was it advertised for sale clearly hoping nobody would notice? Was the plan for it to be bought by some intermediary who would then profit from selling it on to Zip World?

But that suggestion hints at corruption – naughty boy, Jac! – and this is Wales, where corruption is unknown.

There is no question in my mind that the sale of the Rhigos Viewpoint links with the promised arrival of Zip World.

And while the plans shown in the WalesOnline report for the car park, toilets and office accommodation clearly refer to the property owned by Tower Colliery (scroll down to the plan), I believe the Zip World project goes way beyond what is owned by the former miners and their families.

UPDATE 02.08.2019: A message reaches me saying that the advertisement was no ‘mistake’ but was in fact the ‘Welsh Government’ covering its arse by meeting its legal requirements. The land can now be handed over – to Zip World? – and the WG can say, ‘We advertised it, but no one was interested’.

ZIP WORLD

As we know, this is the company that runs zip wires at Penrhyn near Bethesda, and Betws-y-Coed, with underground trampolines at Blaenau Ffestiniog.

There were big changes in Zip World companies towards the end of last year affecting Zip World Ltd, Zip World Fforest Ltd, and Zip World Group Holdings Ltd. What is termed “a management buy-out” took place which means that the parent company is now ZWPV Ltd (Inc 24.10.2018).

But it’s not that straightforward, for at the foot of the final page of the most recent accounts we read that, “Due to the shareholdings in place at ZWPV Limited, the directors consider Sean Taylor to be the ultimate controlling partner”. That is, Sean Wallace Taylor.

Click to enlarge

So, if not a one-man band, then the Zip World companies would certainly appear to be under the control of a single individual. And it gets a little more complicated when we look at this new parent company, ZWPV Ltd.

There are six other directors, who all give as their address, ‘Zip World Base Camp, Denbigh Street, Llanrwst, Wales, LL26 0LL’. But for head honcho Taylor, the address given is, ‘8th Floor, One Central Square, Cardiff, United Kingdom, CF10 1FS’.

And among the directors giving the Llanrwst address is Giles Alexander Thorley, who joined the company 21 February 2019. This is odd, because Thorley is CEO of the Development Bank of Wales. So either he’s moonlighting or else he’s there in an official capacity. I hope it’s the latter, which probably means Thorley’s there representing the ‘Welsh Government’.

But let’s return to Taylor’s Cardiff address. Seeing as parent company ZWPV has its address in Llanrwst like everything else and everybody else, why would Taylor’s individual address be in Cardiff?

Or to put it another way, who else might we find on the 8th Floor at One Central Square to explain Taylor using it as his address? Well, the whole floor is the domain of solicitors Blake Morgan, a company that of course has many clients, including the ‘Welsh Government’ and its various agencies.

Which makes a certain sense, and other pieces are falling into place as I write this to support that presumption.

Before moving on to consider what might really be happening up at Rhigos I want to go back to ZWPV. (What does the ‘PV’ stand for?) It was Incorporated 24 October 2018 with Sean Taylor holding the only share. On St David’s Day there was an allotment of over 14 million shares, including 92,500 preference shares.

While under ‘Filing history’, for 12 March, you’ll see ‘Resolutions’, an arrangement entered into with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd, designed to raise money through selling those 92,500 preference shares.

Companies using the term ‘Nominees’ have, or find, investors who remain anonymous.

So if I’m following this thread properly: the main Zip World companies are now huddled under the umbrella of ZWPV Ltd controlled by Sean Wallace Taylor who, through an agreement with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd, is looking to sell shares to investors who will remain anonymous.

Click to enlarge

There are a number of other companies bearing the ‘LDC Parallel’ name, numbered I to VIII, with all but the last of them based in Aberdeen.

Finally, we learnt earlier this month of another interesting figure who has joined the Zip World board. This being Greg Evans, who, as this blurb tells us, is . . .

“A former US Navy Petty Officer and Centrica Energy Director of Nuclear and Renewables, he is recognised as a thorough leader in safety leadership in both nuclear and renewable power generation.

His work in renewables saw him leading major infrastructure project (sic), including the design, development and commissioning phases of the £1.2 billion Lincs Wind Farm.”

Intriguing. Though like me, I’m sure you’re wondering why a man with a background in nuclear and renewable energy has joined a tourist operation like Zip World.

I think the answer lies in: ” . . . to strengthen the management team and take the business to the next level”. With the emphasis on ‘next level’. Which might be another way of saying diversification.

One disturbing possibility pulls together Evans’ background in the nuclear industry and the fact that Zip World uses quarries and mines. Could this be about the storage of nuclear waste?

HOW MIGHT IT ALL FIT TOGETHER?

OK, so what’s the big picture?

A company that has been well favoured by the ‘Welsh Government’ in its northern ventures has decided to move south. Details were announced in February this year and probably accounts for the reorganisation in the Zip World group.

Also, in October last year, both Zip World Ltd and Zip World Fforest Ltd cleared charges with Finance Wales Investments (10) Ltd. Seeing as Giles Alexander Thorley, CEO of the Development Bank of Wales, is also a director of FWI (10) Ltd, maybe these charges had to be cleared before he could join the revamped set-up in February this year.

Though note also the involvement of Blake Morgan.

Click to enlarge

Let’s take another look at the layout of the land at Rhigos. It will help explain what I believe is planned.

The picture below is taken from the Viewpoint looking looking west. It shows the ridge of Craig y Llyn, from where one of the zip wires will start, and below it lies the lake to which the name refers, Llyn Fawr. (There’s a Llyn Fach further over.)

You’ll notice that one side of the lake is straight, and that’s because it’s a reservoir, as is Llyn Fach, they both supplied Tower Colliery.

Click to enlarge

It’s time now to introduce someone you’re probably familiar with. Someone else who can be found on the eighth floor with Blake Morgan.

I’m referring to Shire Oak International Ltd (SHI). And whaddya know – one of the two directors of SHI is Mark Shorrock, who was of course the mastermind behind the proposed Swansea tidal lagoon, rejected by the UK government last June.

So is he involved at Rhigos, has Sharrock’s gaze been distracted from Mumbles? Of course, sharing the Cardiff address with Sean Taylor of Zip World could be pure coincidence, but I think not.

For while we all associate Mark Shorrock with tidal lagoons, he is a man with fingers in many pies. There’s quarries, for a start, such as Dean Quarry in Cornwall, from where he hoped to get the stone for the Swansea lagoon wall.

Another ‘pie’ is renewable energy; solar, wind and pumped storage. And companies such as Shire Oak Pumped Storage (Llanddulas) Ltd, which was struck off in April. This is a fate that befalls many of Shorrock’s companies. The boy’s had some bad luck.

Which may be why the ‘Welsh Government’, in the form of Carwyn Jones (remember him?), promised to chip in with £200m when the UK government shafted his plans for Swansea Bay.

Not only that, but he got quite comfy down in the City of my Dreams, and was well regarded by Swansea University. Where the Uni had the third floor of the Civic Centre on Oystermouth Road all to themselves, for their Centre for Regional Innovation, under recently departed Marc Clement.

A local source tells me that at one time there were no fewer than seven Shorrock companies on the third floor. Though getting information on them from either the council or the university proved futile, they always had an excuse.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR RHIGOS?

Whether Shorrock has teamed up with Zip World or not at Rhigos I’m certain that the ‘Welsh Government’ is involved because, through Natural Resources Wales, it owns so much of the land up there; including the two lakes, the escarpment and the forests.

But even if Shorrock is not involved, if his being at the same Cardiff address as Sean Wallace Taylor is pure coincidence, then whatever is planned for Rhigos still goes way beyond zip wires.

The clues are there:

  • There’s the reorganisation of the Zip World group towards the end of last year.
  • Then the new company linked up with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd to find secret investors.
  • We have the CEO of the Development Bank of Wales becoming a director of the new Zip World parent company. (To look after ‘Welsh Government’ interests, in the form of land and assets to be handed over?)
  • Then there’s the curious aborted sale of a prime piece of property in the form of the Rhigos Viewpoint that saw a ‘Welsh Government’ Minister misleading us.
  • Finally, a new director joins Zip World very recently who has no experience in tourism, but whose field of expertise is nuclear and renewable energy.

To understand what I think is happening at Rhigos you have to remember that the ‘Welsh Government’ has massive assets in publicly-owned land, much of it held by Natural Resources Wales, which of course took over Forestry Commission land. Forestry managed by NRW accounts for 6% of the total area of Wales.

There is pressure from various quarters to ‘monetise’ these assets, and if that can be done behind a green smokescreen then so much the better. We see it all over Wales in forests where thousands of trees have been felled to make way for wind turbines and the roads serving them. More damage is done in building, transporting and erecting wind turbines than they ever recoup in their short working lives.

From Natural Resources Wales website. Click to enlarge

The high ground at Rhigos provides the perfect opportunity to ‘monetise’ some NRW assets. There may indeed be zip wires, but they won’t come alone. There will be cabins, maybe a hotel and other facilities, perhaps wind turbines and some scheme involving Llyn Fawr and Llyn Fach. Perhaps even the storage of nuclear waste.

With the package dressed up as an ‘adventure resort’ such as Gavin Woodhouse promised for the nearby Afan Valley. For, remember, with the M4 and the Heads of the Valleys road providing access, plus almost two million people within 40 miles of Rhigos, there is a much bigger customer potential than for any venture in the north.

Whatever is planned for Rhigos, the ‘Welsh Government’ should pause and ask itself what it’s getting involved in, and with whom. For example, is there any concern over ZWPV’s anonymous backers?

If Shorrock’s involved, then is he being thrown a bone for losing out on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon? And if so, do we owe him anything?

And if we’re going to give honesty a romp in the summer sunshine, then maybe we can also have explained to us the relationship between the ‘Welsh Government’ and its assorted agencies on the one hand, and certain favoured Cardiff legal firms and people like Sean Wallace Taylor and Mark Christopher Shorrock on the other?

How do it all fit together, innit?

To conclude; my reading of the Rhigos situation is that deals are being struck in the background, with our assets; and this will result in some people making a lot of money, yet once again, we, the Welsh people, will lose out.

But this is unavoidable in a colonialist environment when the local political class can be dictated to by their colonial masters and also wound around the fingers of the money men.

An independent Wales run by such people – or those hoping to replace them – would see us receiving food parcels from Venezuela. And they’d probably celebrate such shows of ‘solidarity’.

♦ end ♦

 

Brexit, Boris, Nigel . . . and independence!

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

CONFESSIO

Regular readers will know that I voted for Brexit back in June 2016. I did so for the reasons I set out in EU Referendum: Why I Want OUT! which was followed in celebratory mood with Brexit, Wexit: Things Can Only Get Better!

The clue to my motivation lies in my use of the word ‘Wexit’, for I believed then, and I believe even more strongly today, that Brexit, especially a disastrous and damaging Brexit, can lead to Welsh independence. And Welsh independence is my priority; more important by far than membership of the EU.

In addition to voting for Brexit I confirmed my trip to Tartarus by supporting Trump, and more recently, by voting for the Brexit Party in the recent EU elections. Then there’s my backing for Neil McEvoy, and the regular criticism of Plaid Cymru.

Oh, yes, and of course I attack the Labour Party on a regular, almost daily, basis.

So, all in all, I suppose I’ve made a few enemies.

My rap sheet is enough to reduce certain people to bouts of carpet-chewing rage. These, it should be said, tend to be Plaid Cymru members and supporters; more especially what some call the ‘Leannistas’, the woke left, currently nursing their wounds after so many recent defeats and now lashing out blindly at people like me.

Which is ironic in a way, for I am only following Lenin’s dictum, “The worse, the better”. By which he meant that the population at large will be more receptive to revolutionary change when the system they’re familiar with starts disintegrating.

It may be cruel, it may be cynical, but old Vlad was spot on. For the Bolsheviks would never have come to power if Russia had stayed out of World War One and the Czar had introduced adequate reforms.

BY THE LEFT

There are no half measures with these people who attack me.

If you don’t support Extinction Rebellion bringing cities to a standstill then you’re a climate change denier. Vote for Brexit and you’re a fascist/racist/white supremacist. Refuse to accept that ‘chicks with dicks’ are 100% women and you’re a transphobe. The list of crimes people like me can commit – without even knowing it! – is endless. And these ‘crimes’ increase by the month.

Though many of my critics are happy to engage in rational debate, and there’s even banter. But then there’s the darker side, those who just want to screech at me.

Here’s a recent example from Twitter of what I’m talking about.

Click to enlarge

I don’t know who Aled Gwyn Williams is (is he the one in the cap?), and I’ve no idea what motivated him to put such ugly slanders on social media for my grandchildren to be teased about.

I shall deal with the first paragraph in a minute.

As for the second paragraph, I am none of the things he lists. Though perhaps he’s trying to say the same thing with “fascist”, “racist”, and “authoritarian & white-supremacist”. (I can almost hear the spluttering as he repeats himself.)

As for being “homophobic”, well, just ask my gay friends.

The final smear is that I am a “defender of violence against women”, but I have no idea what the hell he’s trying to say. Does he think I stand outside windows listening to domestic arguments and shouting, “Go on, pal, punch her!”

Displayed here we see the absolute self-belief of the true fanatic (political or religious); convinced that he/she is right and anyone he/she disagrees with is not only wrong, but evil.

Which makes them no different to those they claim to oppose. For the right, we’re told, is intolerant, that it ‘others’ people, who can then be vilified and humiliated. Precisely what Aled Gwyn Williams tried to do to me in that tweet.

Support for the old axiom that says there’s no real difference between the extremes of left and right. They operate in almost exactly the same way.

But yes, I did vote for Brexit; and yes, I did support Trump; and yes, I did vote for the Brexit Party in last month’s EU elections; and yes, I certainly want Boris Johnson to become prime minister: and yes, I did help form Ein Gwladbecause I want Welsh independence!

An increasing number of people across the political spectrum now agree that Brexit delivered by Boris Johnson with his head up Trump’s arse will threaten the Union.

‘Welsh’ Labour leader Mark Drakeford has said it. His predecessor Carwyn Jones conceded that the “shambles” in Westminster was making more people in Wales think about independence. Former Liberal Democrat leader and deputy PM Nick Clegg knows the Union is under threat. Former PM Gordon Brown agrees with him. I could go on, but you get my drift.

The exclusive English nationalism preached by Boris Johnson makes many more Scots, Irish, and Welsh question the English connection.

This is a good thing. As this Irish tweet I picked up over the weekend understands. (Though I’m not sure about Wales as a fifth province!)

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When Johnson is announced as new Tory Party leader and prime minister tomorrow he will face a choice. Either to soldier on with a rebellious minority in his party capable of derailing his plans, or to call a general election in the hope of removing his critics and increasing his majority.

Despite the obvious discord in the Labour Party there’s no guarantee that Johnson could increase his majority, that’s because any election will be fought on the issue of Brexit, which will see certain parties standing aside to give a single anti-Brexit candidate a clear run at the Tory opponent.

His best option then might be an electoral pact with the Brexit Party. The Tories could concentrate on the suburbs and the shires, while Farage’s crew could focus on those ‘left behind’ areas that voted for Brexit in 2016.

Such a pact will confirm the split in the Conservative Party.

For as I’ve said somewhere before, in recent decades ‘Europe’ has been to the Tories what Irish Home Rule was to the 19th century Liberal Party. The Liberals split in 1886 with the breakaway Liberal Unionist Party eventually merging with the Conservative and Unionist Party.

A victory for the pact would give Boris Johnson – and his thirsty deputy, Nigel Farage – the majority needed to turn the UK into an offshore tax haven where everybody whistles The Dam Busters tune before settling down to yet another meal of chlorinated chicken.

A LITTLE BIRD

While it’s difficult to understand the unprovoked attack from Aled Gwyn Williams, he is not alone. Not so long ago a very similar assault was mounted by someone called Huw Marshall who, again, is a complete stranger to me.

Ifan Morgan Jones also came out swinging with a ludicrous charge of Antisemitism over something I’d written that included George Soros. But in my piece I never mentioned that Soros was Jewish. To which I might add that, as a good conservative, I support the state of Israel because it’s an ally of the West.

But why would complete strangers want to attack me, and do so by telling lies? I mean, if you don’t like me, or you don’t agree with me, then don’t read this blog, don’t follow me on Twitter, etc. Am I that influential?

Which makes me wonder whether we are really dealing with a few individuals who’ve taken an intense dislike to me/my views or if there’s more to it.

Let’s think about it for a minute. I criticise Plaid Cymru. I helped form Ein Gwlad. I continually attack the Labour Party. I am an outspoken supporter Neil McEvoy. I regularly refer to Cardiff Bay as ‘Corruption Bay’ (or “a cess-pit”). For years I have exposed the corruption, cronyism and waste of public funding in the third sector . . .

Thinks . . . who might share my interest in those things, but from a perspective opposite to mine, and might be able to influence, directly or indirectly, people who don’t know me?

One obvious suspect is Deryn Consulting, the lobbying firm that acts as a link between Labour, Plaid Cymru, the third sector, and others that together make our country a corrupt and impoverished laughing-stock and a magnet for crooks and chancers.

At this point I should add that I’ve also attacked Deryn more than once.

To understand how Deryn operates – they are lobbyists and ‘influencers’ after all – just think of Welsh public life focused on Cardiff Bay as a web, with Deryn as a fat, hairy-legged spider at the centre.

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Deryn was instrumental in the sacking of Carl Sargeant and must bear considerable responsibility for his suicide. Deryn also co-ordinates the unremitting campaign against Neil McEvoy.

If you doubt how influential Deryn is in Welsh political life then read this piece by the lawyer representing the Sargeant family at the resumed inquest the week before last into Carl Sargeant’s death. There are passages there that almost jump off the screen.

Particularly the section below.

Extract from Dr Neil Hudgell’s account of the Sargeant inquest. Some might argue that Deryn set itself up as accuser, judge and jury. Click to enlarge.

Why would Carwyn Jones make TWO phone calls to Deryn almost immediately after hearing of Carl Sargeant’s death? Was it, ‘Oh, dear, ladies . . . tell me what to do now.’ 

Maybe I should explain that the Cathy Owens mentioned by Dr Hudgell is the leading director of Deryn, while the other woman also figured in Guido Fawkes’ coverage of December 2018, where we read: “Jo Kiernan: Deryn employee and named at last week’s Inquest as co-ordinating a bullying campaign against Sargeant when she worked as Carwyn Jones’ chief SpAd.”

Carl Sargeant complained about this bullying at the time it was happening, in 2014, other AMs also complained on his behalf, but of course Carwyn Jones later denied that any complaints had been made. But then, Kiernan was a powerful woman, she was even allowed to deal with complaints made against her.

One of those who stood by Carl Sargeant was his friend and former AM Leighton Andrews. For standing up for his dead friend, and pointing the finger of guilt in the right direction, Andrews himself became a target for the extended Deryn network.

I’m not saying that Aled Gwyn Williams, Huw Marshall, Ifan Morgan Jones, and the rest of my critics are taking orders from the nest (or maybe it’s the bunker nowadays) but they seem to share the Deryn mindset that will not tolerate critics or divergent views.

And never forget that Deryn is a creation of devolution, prospering thanks to weak and malleable politicians in a devolved system still controlled from London. Deryn would not survive independence.

‘HIS NAME IS ROYSTON JONES AND HE’S NOT ON OUR SIDE’

Is what Aled Gwyn Williams wrote in the first paragraph of his tweet.

His tweet is addressed to “Welsh Self-determinationists”, which I assume to mean those who want Wales to be independent. But I have been a nationalist all my life, check with anyone who’s been around since the 1960s.

It follows, then, that when he says I’m not on ‘their’ side, he must mean some grouping other than those wanting independence. As Williams is a hard-line socialist he can only be alluding to the comrades.

I am a lifelong opponent of socialism.

So my real ‘crime’, in Williams’ eyes, is being hostile to socialism.

Williams seems to be active in YesCymru and supports All Under One Banner Cymru. Two groups some fear have become too close to Plaid Cymru.

All of which fits together, because despite the humiliating defeat suffered by Leanne Wood in the party leadership contest last year those who share her views still control the party.

The small increase in membership in the wake of Adam ‘Soundbite’ Price’s victory may already have been offset by resignations over the party’s treatment of Neil McEvoy, which will of course only strengthen the influence of the ‘Leannistas’.

I’m not the only one who sees this drift to the left. Here’s a tweet put out a week or so ago by writer Siôn Jobbins, asking if he’ll be welcome at Plaid’s Summer School, seeing as he’s not a socialist.

Click to enlarge

Though it could be that not all the leftists trying to capitalise on the increase in support for independence belong to Plaid Cymru, there may be even more exotic elements trying to muscle in.

Below we see a picture from a recent AUOB Cymru tweet showing some kind of street furniture or utility box in Cardiff presenting an interesting display. In the centre we see nationalist hero, John Jenkins, leader of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru, who was sent down for 10 years in 1970 for his role in a 1960s bombing campaign.

John, now 85, has lived in Wrecsam for many years.

We also see a couple of YesCymru stickers, a football fans for independence sticker and Wrexham fans against the Sun (newspaper). But it’s the other three that intrigue me.

Click to enlarge

On the top left we see the Starry Plough of the Irish Citizen Army, led by James Connolly in the Easter Rising of 1916. This was a socialist organisation that fought alongside the larger, and nationalist, Irish Volunteers led by Padraig Pearse.

The one at the bottom right carries letters printed backwards to look Russian, a communist red star, and the slogan ‘Free Wales’.

Finally, the black one on the left reads ‘Wxm (Wrexham) Antifa No Pasaran!’ Antifa are left wing thugs who first took to the streets of the USA following Donald Trump’s victory, ostensibly ‘fighting fascism and racism’.

Now they resort to bombing and attacking anyone who doesn’t agree with them. A recent victim was journalist Andy Ngo, who wrote: “Antifa operates by a very broad definition of ‘fascists.’ By ­antifa’s telling, fascists include mainstream conservatives and even centrist journalists who dare criticize them.”

I know exactly how he feels.

You have to wonder what’s going on when the self-appointed promoters of inclusivity beat up the gay son of Vietnamese boat people. I hope to God we don’t have any nutters in Wales preparing to emulate Antifa.

And I’m disappointed to see AUOB Cymru apparently endorse Antifa.

So on a Cardiff street we see a collection of stickers linking independence with socialism, with some pretty hairy and intolerant expressions of socialism at that.

THE CRUCIAL EIGHTEEN MONTHS

Partly due to events beyond our control Wales will soon be closer to independence than at any time in the past five hundred years. But the mood is also being influenced by what is happening here in Wales.

Our homeland is deprived and exploited because devolution has been a miserable failure. For what has devolution given us – Deryn! This realisation has resulted in the Labour Party losing credibility by the day; but I fear Plaid Cymru will be reluctant to take advantage of the opportunity presented by Johnson in No 10 and Drakeford in the Bay.

Instead, Plaid Cymru will chase rainbows and form Englandandwales anti-Tory or anti-Brexit alliances. This loss of focus is due to the party’s leftward drift coupled with the ephemeral appeal of being ‘taken seriously’ by appearing on TV with Caroline Lucas.

And when Johnson makes his move, Plaid Cymru will rush to support the Labour Party in defending ‘the devolution settlement’.

I say, fuck the devolution settlement. It wasn’t worth having in 1999 and it’s been seriously devalued over the past two decades. All our efforts now must concentrate on independence. And to achieve that goal we must reach out to as many as possible of our people.

This cannot be done by demanding a socialist feminist republic (as was heard at AUOB’s first rally on May 11). And if balaclava’d Antifa thugs start beating up people they disagree with, then any hope of independence will be lost. Wales may have a radical past but most of us today are socially conservative.

It should go without saying, therefore, that Wales needs a broad-based movement for independence that must either be ideology-free or else it must accept all ideological standpoints.

And so I’m asking All Under One Banner Cymru if there’ll be a welcome in Caernarfon on Saturday for people who don’t support Plaid Cymru, and people who are not socialist; for those who would have fought alongside Pearse rather than Connolly, who don’t obsess over a second referendum and who regard Antifa thugs no differently to the thugs who follow Tommy Robinson.

I ask because there are clearly some who feel that the drive for independence should be controlled by the left; and maybe they’ll only accept independence on their terms. Either way, it’s insulting and offensive to those holding different views who have worked for independence for over 50 years.

♦ end ♦

 

Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the picture darkens

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’ve promised Weep for Wales 13, and I’m working on it (there’s just so much to process), but fresh information on Gavin Lee Woodhouse justifies another post on the wonder boy of the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. (The AVAR website is ‘currently under maintenance’.)

WHERE WE LEFT OFF . . .

At the end of last month I published Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’ – you were warned!, with this piece following earlier postings of mine going back to April 2017, and more recent interest from the Guardian and ITV News.

There have been a number of follow-ups by both media outlets, with these being the most recent I can find: Serious Fraud Office assesses Gavin Woodhouse businesses in Thursday’s Guardian; with the same headline used by ITV News.

It is understood by all that Woodhouse operates by selling. or more usually leasing, rooms at hotels he owns. Had he been able to proceed with the Afan Valley Adventure Resort then he would have been selling/leasing more hotel rooms there, plus lodges or cabins. In fact, they were already being advertised, even though nothing’s been built. So have any been sold?

FISHGUARD

In my earlier piece I also said that I was unable to find the title document for the Fishguard Bay Hotel on the Land Registry website. I kept getting a ‘too many titles’ message which I attributed to rooms having been sold.

A recent comment to this blog assured me that the title document could be found, and eventually – by a counter-intuitive method I won’t bore you with by explaining – I did find it.

Fishguard Bay Hotel. Image courtesy of County Echo. Click to enlarge.

It tells us that the Fishguard Bay Hotel (actually in Goodwick) was bought 13 July 2017 for £966,720 by Wyncliffe House Hotel Ltd (formerly Fishguard Bay Hotel Ltd) a company formed 1 May 2016. We see that the company was formed over a year before Woodhouse actually bought the hotel, so presumably he was in negotiations. Or even on site prior to purchase?

If you scroll down on the title document you’ll see that leases for 45 rooms were sold in 2017. All of them 125-year leases, and irrespective of the date of sale all leases started on New Year’s Day.

Now obviously I couldn’t buy the title documents for all the rooms, so I limited myself to five. Which was enough to pique my curiosity. For the titles I bought, the prices range from £45,000 to £70,000.

All bar one were sold between 13 July 2017 and 28 September 2017; with the outrider sold 13 March 2018. Which could suggest impressive sales techniques, or even buyers already lined up.

Of the five, just one hints that it belongs to a genuine, small-time, private investor. This was the title document for an SSAS, which stands for Small Self-administered (pension) Scheme. The other four – certainly, three – looked iffy.

Judge for yourselves with the panel below made up of the relevant details from four of the five room title documents supplied by the Land Registry.

Click to enlarge

The top two, one in Slovakia and the other in Poland, are impossible to check. They could be genuine buyers or they could be names plucked out of thin air, or from some database.

The two on the bottom supply UK addresses, but even so, something’s not right. The one on the left gives a Dubai address and ’24 Cheapside, Wakefield’. The one on the right gives a Welsh address, but also uses the Wakefield address. So what do we find at 24 Cheapside?

It’s a commercial building, with a number of tenants, among them the ‘Williams & Co’ mentioned in the document for the Dubai buyer. This is a firm of solicitors and everything seems to be kosher. My one concern being that the website does not give a Companies House number.

And then I stumbled on Williams & Co (Cleckheaton) Ltd, a company formed in January 2018. It’s registered at the address given on the Williams & Co website, with two directors and a further two shareholders.

Also found at 24 Cheapside, Wakefield is Immigration Advice Service (IAS), whose website, some might think, tries to give the impression that IAS is a UK government department, but it is in fact a private company.

Though, curiously, under ‘Nature of business (SIC)’, for IAS Companies House has: “69109 – Activities of patent and copyright agents; other legal activities not elsewhere classified”. What the the hell do patents and copyright have to do with immigration advice?

Immigration Advice Service was also registered as a charity, number 1033192. In fact, the company may be a ‘phoenix’ that grew out the defunct charity.

The cynic in me thinks that a company like IAS would be a great source of names and addresses for potential overseas buyers for hotel room leases . . . or even just names and addresses.

Others may argue that I’m clutching at straws here, but Woodhouse once had a company called MBI Immigration Services Ltd. So at the very least, he would appear to have shown interest in this line of business.

Let us head north now, to the Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy valley.

CAER RHUN

Let’s go straight to the title document, where we see that this hotel was bought for £1,500,000 with a loan from North West Asset Finance Ltd, which has a registered address in Todmorden, Lancashire, hard up to the frontier. I have stood there myself more than once and gazed into Yorkshire.

North West Asset Finance is hardly a rival to the big boys, for it’s a one-man band and the solitary director is Robert Ashley Hall. All the shares are owned by Shays Assets Ltd, another Hall company that takes its name from what I assume to be his home address, Shays Farm, near Skipton.

Caer Rhun. Image courtesy of Hitched. Click to enlarge.

Both companies were formed 11 February 2014, around the time Woodhouse embarked on his hotel-buying spree. While the accounts suggest that the only real asset may be the money loaned to Gavin Woodhouse to buy Caer Rhun.

Which made me wonder whether Hall and Woodhouse are known to each other. Sure enough, they are in business together. In a company called Gramra Ltd, formed by Hall 2 January 2018, which Woodhouse joined 13 June 2018.

When we look at who owns the shares in Gramra we find that at least half are owned by Woodhouse through the company Woodhouse Family Ltd, which has the controlling interest.

Woodhouse Family Ltd, where we find Gavin Woodhouse as sole director since his wife resigned last month when the shit hit the fan. For this company is alleged to have been the ultimate depository of some investors’ money, rather than the companies to which the money was ostensibly paid.

Shareholders in Gramra Ltd. Click to enlarge.

Returning to Caer Rhun, we find that 125-year leases have been sold on 57 rooms. Again, I downloaded the title documents for just five, and in price these range from £75,000 to £170,000. All were sold between July 2016 and August 2017.

The buyers we find in Bristol, Birmingham, and rather more exotic locations. Here are the three beyond these shores. Even if we accept that the one on the left refers to a UK couple living in Spain, that still leaves buyers in Italy and Taiwan.

Click to enlarge

To have so many overseas buyers is not in itself cause for alarm, but I can’t believe that someone in Taiwan or Dubai or Slovakia woke up one bright morning and said to himself or herself, ‘I know! – I’ll buy a hotel room in Wales!’ 

We all know about Arab sheikhs and Russian oligarchs paying millions for London mansions, so is a room from which you can watch the Rosslare ferry the fag-end of the market?

Joking aside, maybe the real questions are:

  1. Do these overseas buyers really exist?
  2. If they do, did they really pay any money or are their names being used?
  3. And if they did pay money, where did that money come from?
  4. And where did it go?

BELMONT HOTEL

As far as I can make out, Gavin Lee Woodhouse, through his various companies, owns six hotels in Wales. It’s reasonable to assume that the same business model of selling the leases on individual rooms is found in all of them. That is certainly the case at the Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby (aka Carmarthen Bay Hotel) and the Belmont Hotel in Llandudno.

I want to focus on the Belmont.

From the title document, we see that it was bought in 2015 by MBI Heritage Hotel Ltd (now Belmont Hotel Ltd) for £381,250. Though in the latest accounts it’s valued at £2.62m and shows a profit of £1.55m. Though as the Guardian told us, the increased valuations on other hotels are even more dramatic.

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At the Belmont, leases for 26 rooms were sold, all of them in an impressively short time in 2015, so another gold star for the sales team. I haven’t bought any title documents for these sales because I’ve already splashed out £36 on Woodhouse, and I’m sure the picture will be little different to what we found at Fishguard and Caer Rhun.

But what appears to be different at the Belmont is, first, that Woodhouse does not own the Belmont (I think it’s owned by Mostyn Estates), he only leases it. Which means he’s selling leases in a property he himself leases.

Click to enlarge.

Which raises the question of whether Mostyn Estates Ltd is aware of this interesting development. Or whether it’s even legal.

What also struck me about the Belmont was that there are three charges outstanding. The first, from 2015, is for Mysing Properties Ltd, which changed its name to Mysing Capital Ltd before two further loans in December 2018.

But why would Woodhouse need to take out loans on the Belmont, a property he’s leasing, and for which he’s more than covered his outlay with the sale of the rooms?

Whatever the answer, Mysing is based in Wakefield, on Woodhouse’s patch; where we earlier saw hotel room buyers linked to the Wakefield solicitors, Williams & Co. The latest unaudited abridged accounts for Mysing paint a very healthy picture, with net current assets of £16,501,830 and total net assets of £1,475,344. The difference accounted for by creditors owing £14,977,000. Creditors, presumably, like Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

But from where does Mysing Capital – a company only formed in July 2014 – get that kind of money? ‘Unaudited abridged accounts’ tell us very little. And it’s perfectly legal.

Click to enlarge

There’s no question in my mind that the directors of Mysing Capital are known to Woodhouse, and that these ‘loans’ may not be the kind of loans you or I are familiar with.

UPDATE 15.07.2019: Mysing Capital links with a string of Mysing companies, many of which are in the care home business (as of course was Woodhouse). But these other companies seem to have been formed after Mysing Capital.

Which still leaves the question of where the original Mysing Capital money came from.

In addition to the loans and mortgages taken out with Mysing towards the end of last year Woodhouse took out other loans around the same time, these with the equally mysterious Fiduciam Nominees Ltd. Why do I call this lot ‘mysterious’?

Well, after reading this at the foot of their website, how would you describe them?

“The content of this website has not been approved by an authorised person within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Fiduciam does not enter into regulated credit agreements within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001.”

Fiduciam is a lender of last resort. If your bank turns you down you go to a company like Fiduciam. Which, as the Companies House entry tells us is in the business of ‘financial intermediation’.

This means that it finds borrowers for people who have money to lend. We can see who the borrowers are, but who are the lenders? Well, if we go to the latest available accounts, we read at the bottom of page 10:

Click to enlarge

“The directors (of Fiduciam) deem BWCI Pension Trustees to be the ultimate controlling party”. ‘Deem’? Aren’t they sure? Anyway, here’s the website for BWCI Pension Trustees Ltd.

Now don’t get me wrong, what Fiduciam and BWCI do may be perfectly legal (in an offshore kind of way), but – as with Mysing – where does the money originally come from that they loan to people like Woodhouse?

In the case of Fiduciam we’re asked to believe it’s pension funds, but in practice there’ll be few questions asked if a drugs baron, oligarch or member of a third world kleptocracy washes up in the Channel Islands looking for a good investment for his ‘pension pot’.

What we can say for certain is that in December last year, the nearest vehicles Woodhouse has to parent companies, Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd and Giant Hospitality Ltd got themselves heavily indebted to a company that finds desperate borrowers for offshore lenders whose money could come from anywhere.

Why did he need the money? Was it for the Afan Valley venture? If so, then Woodhouse is now well and truly up that narrow waterway known colloquially as Shit, with his business model exposed in the mass media, creditors beating on his door, and the Afan Valley Adventure Resort a fast receding dream.

Though the local council leader in Neath Port Talbot is wailing about the loss as though it’s somebody else’s fault! But then, that’s ‘Welsh’ Labour for you – always somebody else’s fault.

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My response was summed up in a tweet I put out on Saturday to accompany the article: “Listen, Rob, if you and your mates down Corruption Bay had done the basic checks into Gavin Woodhouse and you would have laughed him away and wouldn’t be ‘disappointed’ now. You’ve got no one to blame but your council and .”

EPILOGUE

When I first encountered Gavin Lee Woodhouse I thought he was a bit of a lad who’d over-reached himself. (As opposed to an out-and-out bastard like Paul Williams who ‘succeeded’ him at Plas Glynllifon.) Now I worry that there may be darker elements to his business ventures.

The foreign buyers for so many of his hotel rooms certainly start the alarm bells a-trembling. As does the lack of information about his financial backers.

But then, as I’ve said before, this is business, this is finance – English style. Where the City of London sits at the centre of a web of offshore tax havens and money-laundering centres that welcome anybody’s money. Once it’s in the system, with the origin disguised, that money can be used anywhere.

The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are the oldest, and nearest of these centres.

But this does not excuse the ‘Welsh Government’, which obviously did no due diligence into Woodhouse before giving him £500,000 for Caer Rhun and then welcoming him with open arms when he ventured to the Afan valley.

Click to enlarge

Unless of course they were over-ruled from London. (It happens regularly.) Which would make them complaisant rather than gullible. Is that an improvement?

So it’s good-bye Gavin Lee Woodhouse, and hello, . . ?

For you can guarantee that the next Gavin Lee Woodhouse is already here spinning his lies and courting the politicians. And he’s not alone.

In Return Journey Dylan Thomas goes home to a blitzed Swansea searching for the places and people he knew. Eventually he reaches Cwmdonkin Park, where the park keeper responds to his questions about a boy from long ago with, ‘I’ve known him by the thousands’.

I’m beginning to feel like that parkie, due to all the crooks infesting our country. They keep coming because we have thick-as-shit politicians more concerned with shagging and back-stabbing than with making Wales honest, healthy and prosperous.

And a media unworthy of the name.

♦ end ♦

Wales, social dumping and much more besides

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

Maybe I should start by explaining what is meant by ‘social dumping’. The term links with ‘social cleansing’, used by the Guardian and other publications to explain the practice of taking certain ‘vulnerable’ groups out of major cities – and locating them somewhere else.

If social cleansing is the term used to describe the removal of these groups from one area, then it’s entirely reasonable to use the term social dumping to describe the other end of the process. Especially when the dumping is often done without the approval, or even the knowledge, of the new host community.

For ‘Harlow’, read Swansea, Penygraig, Blaenau Ffestiniog; and for ‘London’ read Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool. Click to enlarge.

This is what is happening in Wales. It’s happening in our cities and larger towns, it’s happening in run-down coastal resorts, it’s happening in small rural towns, and it’s happening in the communities of the former southern coalfield. That’s why it’s a national problem, and must be tackled on a national level.

There are a number of reasons why this is happening, and I’m going to explore some of them in this article. I shall also use specific, and recent, examples.

Let me apologise for this post being a long one; but as usual it’s broken down into discrete segments for you to consume at your leisure.

THE THIRD SECTOR AND THE LABOUR PARTY

I have written once or twice about the third sector, so regular readers will know of what I speak. For any newcomers, it’s that burgeoning sector of Welsh life that likes to present its component parts as charities, when they are in effect publicly-funded companies.

The third sector takes hundreds of millions of pounds from the Welsh public purse in order to care for those who are homeless, those with substance abuse issues, those released from prison, those with other needs (real or imagined), and of course there are organisations dedicated to combating all manner of alleged prejudices against women, the BME community, and assorted gender identifications.

It is a world with its own values and vocabulary, where duplication and competition are rife, and with most third sector businesses run by middle class Englishwomen with names like Harriet or Henrietta.

Did I mention competition? As this FoI response from the ‘Welsh Government’ told me, Wales has no fewer than 48 outfits ‘tackling homelessness’. Though seeing as the letter is dated December 2017 we can confidently predict that the number is now over 50. In fact, I shall soon introduce you to a new diner at the feast.

Click to enlarge

This situation has obtained for 20 years. The trickle of third sector grant-grabbers began almost once the devolution referendum result was announced in September 1997 and very quickly became a torrent. ‘But wait!’, you exclaim, ‘if we have so many well-funded organisations why is the problem getting worse? It must surely mean that thousands of Welsh are being made homeless every year’.

Er, no.

What we see at work here is human nature, and the realisation that if solving a problem puts you out of a job, well, you’ll make damn sure you don’t solve it. Which then links with the second part of your question, for Wales cannot provide enough homeless people to sustain this industry, so homeless people are imported into or attracted to Wales. In other words, the social dumping referred to in the title.

‘But why doesn’t the Welsh Government tell these people to stop wasting Welsh public funding by bringing in homeless people from outside of Wales?’ And drug addicts, and ex-cons, and victims of domestic abuse, and . . .

Because . . . it suits the ‘Welsh Labour Government’ to present a picture of poverty and deprivation in order to blame somebody else and keep mug punters voting for the party.

PODS AND PASTURES GREEN

You may have noticed a story that made the news last week about ‘pods’ for homeless people in Newport. Though it had the whiff of a rehash about it seeing as the story was also covered on 24 May, and before that 16 May, also in February, and before that October 2018 . . .

In fact, these pods seem to be something of a staple on the Argus.

The pods themselves are the work of Amazing Grace Spaces (AGS), an outfit that was launched as a charity 30 June 2017 by Caroline and Stuart Johnson. You’ll see on the website that, in addition to the emergency pods, AGS also converts shipping containers into low cost housing.

According to the website, these converted shipping containers are already in use with Wrexham Council and Merthyr Merthyr Valleys Homes.

Click to enlarge

Other trustees recruited by AGS include John Andrew Forward, who is also a trustee of Bedwas Pentecostal Church and Bethesda Pentecostal Church.

It would appear that those involved with Amazing Grace Spaces are of the happy-clappy persuasion, those given to ‘outreach’ work among the vulnerable in our midst. And, indeed beyond Wales.

Bethesda Pentecostal Church (Charity Number 1050629) seems to have been in business for a while, whereas the Bedwas establishment (1050629) has only just been registered with the Charity Commission. Which would suggest an expanding network.

Turning to Bethesda, we see that the lead there appears to be Rev. Stephen Davies, who is also a trustee of the Ebenezer Pentecostal Church in Fellowship with Assemblies of God (1050644), and Hills Community Church Aberbargoed (1050499). (Ebenezer is to be found in Rogerstone, Newport.)

There is very little money involved with these churches, and I’m sure that they do a lot of good work, but I mention them because they clearly form a network, and others in this network cause me concern.

This tweet by Amazing Grace Spaces mentions my worry – Green Pastures.

Click to enlarge

Those with good memories will recall that I wrote about Green Pastures back in July 2013 with, YMCA ‘Wales’, Another Trojan Horse At The Trough and YMCA ‘Wales’ And The Green, Green Pastures. It’s an English outfit, also of a religious bent, that ‘reaches out’ to the homeless, substance abusers and those recently released from prison.

Green Pastures (GP) operates with or through ‘partners’, and the business model is explained in this panel from the Green Pastures website. In essence, if you fancy going into the hostel business then you find a property that GP will buy and then you lease it from GP using your tenants’ housing benefit to pay the lease.

Scrolling down to the ‘Partners’ map, we see five locations in Wales. Two are in the north, on Deeside and in Colwyn Bay, to serve north west England and those who have been dumped in Wales from that region.

Predictably, Amazing Grace Spaces of Newport is also there, but what of the other two locations?

The first is in Llanfyllin, a nice little town in the gentle hills of Montgomeryshire, where we find a ‘community hub’. So there’s nothing to detain us here.

Of more interest is the final Green Pastures ‘partner’, Blaenycwm Chapel in Treorci. Where “Ralph Upton is the minister, 22 years experience in full time ministry a lot of this among the homeless, those affected by the criminal justice system and substance misusers.” When he’s not in the Rhondda, “Ralph also ministers in Ethiopia.”

Ralph Upton is also connected with Valleys of Hope (which unfortunately couldn’t find a Welsh flag). Under the ‘About us‘ tab you will read that Ralph was a prison chaplain.

Click to enlarge

Which makes sense when we turn to the Valleys of Hope ‘Wales’ tab, where we read, “With the opening of H.M.P. Berwyn helping the churches to get ready to welcome ex offenders in North Wales has become very important”.

The back-story: A massive prison was forced on north Wales, far bigger than needed, in which most of the inmates are from England. One fear always was that once released, these English prisoners would becomes Wales’ responsibility. Here it is spelled out. We must “get ready to welcome ex offenders in North Wales”. 

I think it’s the use of the word ‘welcome’ that really pisses me off.

Locking up your criminals in a neighbouring country and then expecting that country to look after them when they’re released strikes me as a very good example of social dumping.

From Western Mail 10.07.2019

UPDATE 10.07.2019: A prison inspector’s report just released tells us that, in March this year, 75% of the prisoners at HMP Berwyn were from England. In a Radio Cymru programme this morning it was also said that of these English prisoners 50% stay in Wales after they are released.

That means that hundreds of English criminals are endangering Welsh people and Welsh communities – and we are paying for it.

BLAENAU FFESTINIOG

Last week Gwynedd’s Planning Committee discussed an application to convert the old Market Hall in Blaenau Ffestiniog into 14 flats. No decision was taken but the planning officers recommended approval, and now objectors have three weeks to put together their case.

The application was submitted by Paul McCready of Mossley Hill Investments Gwynedd Ltd of Cheltenham, and the agent was Evolve Designs (NW) Ltd of Merseyside.

Evolve Designs is a company formed as recently as April 2017 with the only accounts so far filed showing total net assets (liabilities) of (£1,991). A one-man band with the solo instrumentalist being a James Robert O’Rourke.

Though as the Land Registry title document tells us, the owner of the Blaenau building is Microface Ltd of Wigan. Who bought the property in 2010 for £82,500. It was put up for auction in February 2018 with an asking price of £150,000, but obviously failed to sell. (Or if it did sell, then the Land Registry has not been informed.)

Market Hall, Blaenau Ffestiniog. Image courtesy of Pugh Auctions. Click to enlarge.

The applicant for planning permission, Mossley Hill Investments Gwynedd Ltd, belongs to a veritable stable of companies . . . none of them thoroughbreds. In fact, some of them, just yearlings, are already on their way to the knacker’s yard.

Here’s a list I’ve drawn up of all the Mossley Hill companies I can find (there may be others!). And here it is in pdf format, where you can click on the company name to be taken to the Companies House entry for that company.

Click to enlarge

You’ll see that the original company was formed in December 2016, with Gavin Davis Barry and his missus as directors. Then there was rush of new companies in April and May last year with Barry joined by Paul McCready and Shaun Mills as directors. With two more companies formed in May and June this year with just Barry as director.

There are documents filed for the original Mossley company, Mossley Hill Investments Ltd, and these show net assets of -£53,965. (Yes, that is a minus sign.) Equally worrying is that the directors want to strike off four of the companies formed only just over a year ago!

In addition, Barry has another string of companies going under the ‘Prosperity’ handle, listed here. The nags in this stable seem to be a year or two older than those in the Mossley Hill stable with none destined for dog food. The other directors, too, are different.

What are we to make of it all?

Gavin Davis Barry specialises in cheap property. A racket comparable, perhaps, with the Green Pastures ‘partnership’ model, except that GP own the building whereas Barry may sell it on.

What could have happened with the old Market Hall in Blaenau was that, after it failed to sell at auction, the owners were approached with a deal. Barry will apply for planning permission and then, if it’s granted, either he will buy the building off Microface, or else supply tenants, an arrangement from which he’ll get a good cut.

The fact that the auction was in February 2018 and Mossley Hill Gwynedd Ltd was formed in April lends credence to this theory. For there are business people – many of whom you’ve met on this blog – who trawl property auction websites.

The outfit supplying the tenants for the flats at the Market Hall will be My Space Housing Solutions, based in Bolton and operating in northern England. The clip below and the page it’s taken from explain that My Space is in the business of ‘supported housing’.

Click to enlarge

We read that My Space “source properties based on need” and that these properties are “in the best possible community settings for each resident”.

Which rather blows this planning application out of the water, because I doubt if there is a local need for such a facility in Blaenau Ffestiniog, which means that the clients will be brought in from northern England; and will therefore be a long way from “the best possible community setting”.

Let’s be brutally frank; the only reason this application is being submitted is because a large building became available very cheaply in a run-down town where the applicant thought that lies about local benefits might get them planning permission.

Thanks to twenty years of devolution under ‘Welsh’ Labour, Wales has an abundance of cheap buildings, and countless run-down towns.

What’s the bottom line here? Well, if you were to ask me: ‘Jac would you do business with any of the companies you’ve mentioned here?’ I’d look you in the eye and answer: ‘I would indeed – immediately after joining the Soul Crew’.

If allowed, Blaenau Market Hall will be yet another example of social dumping.

To conclude this section, it’s worth pointing out how much money there is to be made from the ‘vulnerable adults’ business, by looking at the phenomenal growth of My Space Housing Solutions Ltd.

My Space was Incorporated as a company 17 October 2012 and registered as a charity 28 November 2012.

The phenomenal growth of the My Space ‘vulnerable adults’ relocation company. It now wants 14 flats in the old Market Hall, Blaenau Ffestiniog. Gwynedd planners support the application!

In the first accounts, for year ending 31 October 2013 the turnover was £91,117 with an operating deficit of (£29,138). The most recent available accounts, for year ending 31 October 2018, show a turnover of £11,647,551 and an operating surplus of £2,874,161.

That’s ‘Care in the community’ for you . . . preferably somebody else’s community.

PLANNERS

As I mentioned in the previous section, Gwynedd’s planning officers have recommended approval of the social dumping in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The latest in a string of cases where planning officers have made ‘strange’ decisions.

Let’s start by reminding ourselves of events at Plas Pistyll, and the neighbouring Pistyll farm, on Llŷn. I wrote about this case in Wilmslow-sur-Mer back in September 2018.

To cut a long story short, there were a number of changes to the original planning application of 2007, to the point where what was eventually arrived at in 2018 bore little or no relation to the project that had received the original planning approval.

I even drew up a list of the various changes.

As with Blaenau, there was a plethora of companies under the same ‘umbrella’, this one called Natural Retreats. Towards the end we even saw US intervention in the form of a new company using the name of another company in the group that had earlier demised.

And if that wasn’t reason enough to be concerned, the England-based principals were also busy in the Highlands and cocking up the Cairn Gorm funicular railway.

But according to Gwynedd’s planners there was nothing to worry about. Natural Retreats (or whatever it’s called) is run by splendid, trustworthy chaps (whoever they are) that can be relied upon to play by the rules.

Click to enlarge

The fact that the seasonal-only (caravan replacement) chalets for which they gave planning permission have miraculously transmogrified into luxury, year-round dwellings is by the bye.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that those involved at Pistyll are crooks, they’re just unscrupulous businessmen who think rules are for other people. (And Gwynedd planners obviously agree.) But this next lot we’re going to look at are most definitely crooks.

For we move on now to Bryn Llys, at Nebo, just off the A487, and not far from Llanllyfni. I wrote about it in a compendium offering in January, one that included Gavin Lee Woodhouse (on whom the sky has recently fallen), Jimbo Lynch in Aberteifi (still thriving, for now), and the Bryn Llys crew.

I suggest you catch up by reading ‘Friends old & new: Gavin ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse; James ‘Fforest’ Lynch; Shane Baker, ‘the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo’ and Jonathan Duggan’.

Bryn Llys was a traditional Welsh dwelling. Then it was acquired by the crook Jonathan James Duggan (aka Ripley), the son of John/Jonathan Joseph Duggan. Duggan père was sent down in 2005 for six years, and described in this report as a “professional fraudster”.

Duggan’s father made the news again last year when he was arrested in Benllech, taken back to Yorkshire and banged up again.

Shane Baker, the rocking English supremacist, seems to act as Duggan’s dogsbody.

Anyway, Duggan applied to Cyngor Gwynedd for permission to build an extension to Bryn Llys. This was granted . . . but what was built was much bigger than planning permission allowed, so retrospective planning approval was applied for, and granted – for an extension that now dwarfed the original structure.

Click to enlarge

Though what was actually built exceeded even the retrospective planning approval. Made clear in the picture on the right, above.

And if you think that’s bad enough, well it gets worse, for below you can see what’s up for sale now with Rightmove. The original Bryn Llys is gone completely.

This of course has not happened overnight, it’s taken years. And throughout this period neighbours demanded enforcement action from the council, but nothing was done. Protection was also sought from North Wales Police against the intimidation locals experience from the criminal gang centred on Bryn Llys, but no protection was offered.

On the left, Bryn Llys, as it was just a few years ago. On the right is what began life as an extension. The original structure – which would have been to the rear of what we see – has been demolished entirely. Click to enlarge.

Bryn Llys is the most incredible planning issue that anyone has ever brought to my attention. The more I think about it, the more difficult it is to believe. But it happened. It happened in Wales. And these bastards have got away with it. Which will only encourage them and others do something similar.

The word is obviously out – ‘Come to Wales, you can get away with anything’.

And yet, it’s not too late. Cyngor Gwynedd could still send out a message that would be heard loud and clear by insisting on the demolition of ‘Bryn Llys’. But they will never do that.

And then, while they bend over backwards to accommodate all manner of people we shouldn’t have to put up with in our country, they dream up idiotic objections to stop locals building houses in Abersoch!

Are Gwynedd’s planners afraid that Welsh people living in Abersoch might lower property values on the Cheshire Riviera?

I’m not saying that brown envelopes are involved, but if they’re not, then Gwynedd’s planners must be among the most incompetent public officials imaginable.

CONCLUSION

Wales suffers social dumping for reasons that can be summarised thus: A colonial relationship with England is encouraged by a bloated third sector and further facilitated by an abundance of suitable properties in deprived and declining communities. For reasons that perhaps only they can explain, social dumping is welcomed by too many politicians on the left who think that allowing Wales to be exploited in this manner is somehow virtuous.

Another worry, especially in rural areas, is the number of crooks involved in asset stripping, mortgage fraud, money laundering and other activities. Though maybe the bigger concern is that not only are these criminals able to get what they want from our local authorities, but they even receive grants from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, and they seem to be above the law.

Click to enlarge

Just a couple of weeks ago ITV News and the Guardian revealed what a crook Gavin ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse is – but he’s been operating with impunity in Wales for years! In fact, the ‘Welsh Government’ has been falling over itself to help him with his ultimate con – the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

And let’s not forget the £500,000 grant for Woodhouse’s Caer Rhun in the Conwy valley.

There’s no doubt about it; if you’re in the social cleansing business, or mortgage fraud, asset stripping, money laundering, then Wales is the place to come.

The cops don’t seem to be to interested, you can run rings round or walk all over council officials, there’s no media worth speaking of to expose you, and the ‘Welsh Government’ will even fund you! What’s not to like!

♦ end ♦

 

Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’ – you were warned!

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

This was supposed to be a ‘quickie’ while I await a promised guest post on developments among the wind farms of deepest Powys. But as the information mounted up . . .

Most of you will be aware by now that Gavin Lee Woodhouse, who has a number of business interests in Wales, came under critical scrutiny last week from ITV News and the Guardian. He did not emerge smelling of roses.

Eventually the ‘Welsh’ media caught up with the story, here’s the BBC’s version and here’s WalesOnline’s contribution. (Note the positive spin in the headline.)

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Now I don’t wish to be too critical, but Woodhouse has been a busy boy in Wales for a number of years, so it’s not unreasonable to have expected an investigation into his ‘innovative’ business practices to have been done on this side of the border.

Pity the country with a ‘media’ that is nothing but a relayer of press hand-outs, a conveyor of soporific ‘human interest’ stories, and a disseminator of its masters’ propaganda; leaving an ancient nation to scratch around for the truth.

Come scratch with Jac.

Perhaps the first time Gavin Lee Woodhouse swam into our collective consciousness was when, while negotiating to buy Plas Glynllifon, in Llandwrog, south of Caernarfon, he announced his intention to rename the old pile ‘Wynnborn’. This declaration met with the kind of response that might greet ‘Four Green Fields’ being sung at Ibrox.

Plas Glynllifon, image courtesy of North Wales Live. Click to enlarge

To familiarise you with what Woodhouse has been up to in Wales here are a few of my offerings: English Tourism in the Colony of Wales (18.04.2017); a brief mention in YMCA England(andwales) (23.04.2017); Bits & Pieces (27.04.2017); Colonial Investments (23.07.2017); Updates 12.12.2017; Weep for Wales (13.06.2018); Friends old & new (28.01.2019).

Now let’s get up to date with the boy’s adventures.

HOW IT WORKS

Woodhouse’s business model is, essentially, selling shares in property he owns, or plans to build. If it’s a hotel then you buy a room and then rent it to Woodhouse. If it’s a care home or a residential home, then it’s a similar system but with the guest obviously staying for longer.

The attraction of this system for Woodhouse is that he can buy a run-down hotel cheaply, maybe at auction, and then by selling off rooms individually he can quickly recoup what he paid, and more, from ‘investors’.

For investors, high returns are promised. There is often a guarantee that Woodhouse will buy back your room after a certain period at the price you paid for it, or more.

This is the model employed at his Neuadd Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy Valley, for which he received a ‘Welsh Government’ grant of £500,000 less than two years ago.

Neuadd Caer Rhun. Image courtesy of North Wales Live. Click to enlarge.

It makes a certain sense, but as with buying a timeshare, a great deal depends on the honesty of the vendor. And this leads us on to the allegations made last week.

WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG, ALLEGEDLY

In a nutshell, Woodhouse has taken money from investors for projects that do not exist. Or to put it another way, projects that are promised but never materialise. With much of the money paid into these projects disappearing after being shuffled around in the network of companies Woodhouse controls.

Explained here in this excellent graphic from the Guardian.

click to enlarge

As we see, £5.6m of the £14.8m investors have paid into the three non-existent care homes and £8.2m from connected companies made its way to MBI Consulting (UK) Ltd. This gives a total of £13.8m going into a company now in administration.

According to Companies House Woodhouse ceased to be a director of MBI 31 January 2016, but another document lodged with Companies House and dated 21 July 2016 makes clear that Woodhouse remains the majority shareholder. A further document of 08.08.2018 confirms that Woodhouse is the person exercising ‘significant control’. (All CH documents can be tracked from here.)

From MBI Consulting (UK) Ltd £1.2m went as a loan to Woodhouse himself while the rest, £12.7m, appears to have slipped through the gaps in the floorboards.

(Though the figures used are probably the latest available at Companies House. By now, all of the investors’ money might have headed south.)

AFAN VALLEY ADVENTURE RESORT

Perhaps the first time most people in the south heard of Gavin Lee Woodhouse was when, in April 2017, news broke of a tourism venture in the Afan valley behind Port Talbot.

The WalesOnline article had lots of ‘artist’s impressions’ and a video of the ‘Affan’ valley in the company of Paul Gardiner, managing director of the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. For that piss-drinking exhibitionist has been involved from the start.

A third principal was soon roped in in the form of Peter Moore, ‘the man who brought Center Parcs to Britain’. Whether that is to be regarded as an achievement I leave to others to decide.

One thing of which there can be no doubt is the ‘Welsh Government’s enthusiastic support for the Afan valley venture. The photo below comes from the website of Woodhouse’s Northern Powerhouse Developments and it shows ‘Welsh Government’ representatives meeting Woodhouse and Moore on the site of the planned ‘resort’ in April 2017.

Hustlers meet their ‘marks’. Click to enlarge.

As I hinted earlier, one of the problems in trying to make sense of Woodhouse’s business dealings is the sheer number of companies involved. A maze set up to deter the casually curious and make things difficult even for serious investigators.

Undaunted, I did a wee bit more digging, but stopped short of getting obsessively forensic.

One curiosity I uncovered was two parcels of land that seem not to connect with the 327 acres handed over for his ‘resort’ by Natural Resources Wales (i.e. ‘Welsh Government’).

These can be found under the ‘Charges’ against Afan Valley Ltd. One is an elongated triangle of land alongside the A4107 heading east out of Cymmer, valued at £25,000. Of more interest will be the other land, Caerau Park, valued at 250,000.

Companies House tells us that Afan Valley Ltd was born in April 2016 as Caerau Parc Ltd – with Woodhouse as sole director – and it changed its name in February 2017. Which means it was set up over a year before the Afan valley project became known about.

It’s reasonable to assume therefore that Caerau Park Ltd was set up for a purpose other than the Afan Valley resort.

The sliver of roadside land at Cymmer is owned by Afan Valley Ltd, and the lender is 360 Mi Ltd. The larger plot, Caerau Park, is on the slopes of Mynydd Caerau, to the east of the village of the same name in the Llynfi valley.

Image courtesy of OS via Land Registry. Unfortunately there’s no title plan available at the LR. Click to enlarge.

The owner of Caerau Park, according to the Land Registry, is Ontaris Resources Inc of the British Virgin Islands; but Companies House tells us – with regard to the charge – that the ‘Persons entitled’ is Clive Mishon. Clive Mishon is also the sole director and shareholder of 360 Mi Ltd, Incorporated 5 September 2017.

So who is Clive Mishon, who appears to hold both charges against Afan Valley Ltd? There’s not a lot of information available for him, here’s one of the few pieces I found. All we can say with certainty is that he’s an investor. (But not the kind of ‘investor’ who’d buy a room from Woodhouse.)

Given that the Caerau Park land has been owned by Ontaris since 2008, and Woodhouse set up Caerau Park Ltd in April 2016 – with the charge covering the transfer of ownership not taken out until December 2017 – was Woodhouse initially working for or with Ontaris?

And was Caerau Park the original site for the ‘resort’? For Mynydd Caerau is now part of the Llynfi Renewable Energy Park (wind turbines) run by John Laing.

Click to enlarge

Whatever the answer, by the early part of 2017 attention had obviously switched to the Afan valley. Borne out by Caerau Park Ltd becoming Afan Valley Ltd in February, with this followed by the public announcements involving the ‘Welsh Government’ just months later.

What explains this shift from the Llynfi valley to the Afan valley?

Perhaps the ‘Welsh Government’ can explain how the Afan Valley Adventure Resort first saw the light of day. For example, whose idea was it? Who made the first approach? Did the ‘Welsh Government’ entice Woodhouse from the Llynfi to the Afan?

And while they’re trawling through the files and the memory banks maybe someone can also explain why Caerau Park, ex-NCB land that passed to the ‘Welsh Government’ after devolution, was sold to a tax haven company in 2008.

Finally, maybe someone familiar with the upper reaches of the Afan and Llynfi valleys might have information I’ve missed, or information that is not in the public domain.

SCAMS AND FRAUDS?

Let’s return to Gavin Woodhouse’s business methods, which some might view as something similar to timeshare. And as we all know, timeshare was a largely unregulated sphere in foreign jurisdictions where perhaps the only way to avoid being fleeced was to rely on word of mouth recommendations from people you trusted.

Tangent alert! (As in, going off on one): A reason for timeshare being so risky was that a good slice of the business was in the hands of serious criminals, and used for money laundering. A few months ago, someone with experience in timeshare in the bad old days gave me this explanation.

“You see you could buy a week without anyone questioning anything and it was perfectly legal not to have to prove who you are – you just handed over what was then an average £25,000 for a week and signed a single sheet of paper. Now both these guys would have typically 120 units in a single development so they could handle £132 million through these units – that money was then cleaned in the system. Then every year you paid maintenance – another £600 or £3.2 million per site.

“Then the second spin would start in the auction and second hand market which was often when moms and pops took a hit. Even then none of it matters because under all these agreements if a site falls into a bad state then it goes back to the owners – who refurbish and start again. So it’s a perpetual sausage machine to clean money and they can call it what they want now i.e. points etc but its still the same thing.”

Worrying, isn’t it?

Now I’m not for one minute suggesting that Gavin Woodhouse is involved in that kind of thing, but selling individual rooms of hotels, and cabins at resorts, could be seen as a variation on a theme.

Because what’s to stop an unscrupulous operator selling the same room or cabin to any number of different people and then legging it with the money? Also, and unlike timeshare, there’s the advantage in this method that the investor doesn’t get to stay in his or her investment.

And when the property isn’t even off the drawing board – as with Woodhouse’s three care homes in north west England – then there’s no outlay whatsoever. All you do is sit there and let the money roll in!

Courtesy of the Guardian. Click to enlarge.

Even if we give Woodhouse the benefit of the doubt, and accept that he meant to deliver on his promises, the whole thing has still gone tits up for one reason or another.

But there’s a further worry with Woodhouse’s operations linked to the sudden and impressive increases in the valuations of his properties. As the Guardian put it . . .

Click to enlarge

Now that is impressive.

Unfortunately, I could find nothing for the Fishguard Bay hotel on the Land Registry website, and even when I focused in on the LR map I got a ‘too many’ message. Which could mean that there are a number of titles on the site following the sale of the rooms.

But would this account for the massive increase in the claimed valuation of the hotel? I don’t think so, after all, it’s still the same building.

Suspicious increases in property values like this can often be explained by mortgage fraud, where a property’s valuation is increased in order to pull down more in mortgages and loans, which of course are then not repaid.

(Those who followed Woodhouse at Plas Glynllifon, Paul and Rowena Williams, were heavily involved in mortgage fraud, even ‘selling’ properties to themselves! Just type ‘Weep for Wales’ into the Search box on top of the sidebar to catch up with this gripping saga.)

But it doesn’t seem to matter, it’s almost as if this is not real money.

It’s the black economy and it still buys big houses and Range Rovers, it pays for private schooling, and contributes to consumer spending. The UK government and the police know about it but nobody’s going to interfere unless the media takes an interest.

Which is why things are now looking so bleak for the Wolf of Wharf Street.

HOW DID HE GET AWAY WITH IT FOR SO LONG?

I don’t want to say, ‘I told you so’ . . . but I told you so. And I know that plenty of people in Cardiff Bay read my blog . . . if only to mutter ‘bastard’ under their breath while reaching for the voodoo doll.

But even before he appeared on my radar there were doubts about Gavin Woodhouse and his business methods. Read this 2015 article from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Did no one in Cardiff Bay carry out the simplest checks before rolling out the red carpet for Woodhouse? And the red carpet was most certainly rolled out, not only in the Afan but also up north where, as we’ve seen, the boy wonder was given a £500,000 grant by the ‘Welsh Government’ for Neuadd Caer Rhun hotel.

Reproduced courtesy of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Click to enlarge.

Where, not only was Woodhouse selling rooms in the hotel, he also wanted to build cabins or lodges in the grounds which, again, were to be sold off to investors.

Has he received any other little ‘favours’ while he’s been in Wales? Because he certainly likes Wales: he has at least six hotels, then there’s the Afan Valley Adventure Resort (for now), land at Caerau . . .

Or is it just that Wales is an easy touch, and that’s why we see the Woodhouses, and the Williams, and all the other crooks and shysters moving into our country?

But of course, it’s not us, not you and me, who are fooled by these people – it’s those running Wales, those who claim to know better than us, they are the ones who keep making these mistakes. Over and over again.

Or are they ‘mistakes’. It’s worth asking because is anybody really this stupid, or this incompetent?

A PRICE TO PAY?

If I was an investor who had lost money in the Afan Valley Adventure Resort or any other Gavin Woodhouse enterprise (in Wales or in England) I would claim compensation from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

I suggest this course of action because Woodhouse might have used the Caer Rhun grant, and the welcome he received in the southern hillsides, to establish his bona fides in order to gull investors.

But simply by being so accommodating towards Gavin Woodhouse, and giving him our money, the ‘Welsh Government’ was telling the world that here was a man to do business with.

Creditors seeking pecuniary redress should in the first instance contact: Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Infrastructure and Skills, Welsh Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NQ.

Or if you’re in the vicinity, then pop in. Tell him Jac sent you.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 04.07.2019: It’s all fall down.

At a court hearing today three of Woodhouse’s companies, including Afan Valley Ltd, were placed instantly into interim administration. Judge Sally Barber said: “This appears to be a thoroughly dishonest business model and a shameful abuse of the privileges of limited liability trading. I am entirely satisfied by the evidence before me that this court must take immediate action.”

That’s telling him, Sal!

Bits & Pieces 25.06.2019

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

INFAMY! INFAMY! (AGAIN)

My previous post, on One Planet Developments and Black Mountains College, suffered an extraordinary attack from Ifan Morgan Jones in a piece entitled ‘No, George Soros isn’t secretly controlling Wales’.

The title gives a strong hint of the tenor and quality of IMJ’s piece, which was both antagonistic (towards me) and riven with non-sequiturs. Make up your own minds as to whether he simply got his facts wrong or deliberately misrepresented what I had written.

Let’s start with the title of his piece. What I actually wrote was: “I’m not saying that George Soros controls Wales, but having read what Soros has to say on climate change – and it really is an obsession with him! – he could have dictated everything the ‘Welsh Government’ has put out in recent years.”

By which I meant that the ‘Welsh Government’s output on saving the planet is attuned with the way Soros uses the threat of climate change to enforce the political and other changes he desires. Somehow, from that, Ifan Morgan Jones chose to believe that I think George Soros is running Wales. The generous interpretation would be that he simply missed the ‘not’.

He continued: “Jac o’ the North’s evidence for this ultimately amounts to the fact that some people now working in Wales used to work for projects to which George Soros had given money, and that institutions set up in Wales have ties to institutions to which George Soros has given money.”

In fact, the two people I named, who are behind Black Mountains College, worked directly for George Soros.

One, William Newton Smith was, “For 20 years head of George Soros’s higher education programme”. He was the founding executive chairman of Soros’s controversial Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

The other, Ben Rawlence, worked for George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, and also Human Rights Watch, a body funded by Soros. Despite being Project Lead of a new higher education college Rawlence appears to have no experience of higher education other than having been a student himself.

As this document makes clear, Black Mountains College “would be part of a global liberal arts network mentored by Bard College, NY, USA.” Bard College is a small, off-Broadway kind of institution kept afloat with Soros money.

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And of course the ‘network’ referred to is the other institutions around the globe that Soros funds and through which he exerts his political influence. Many of them set up for him by William Newton Smith.

Even the name of the proposed Powys college resonates in the USA, for there was a short-lived Black Mountain College there, and Bard College is often viewed as its successor. Maybe Soros’s minions scoured the globe for another Black Mountain location.

If further proof were needed of how the policies of the ‘Welsh Government’ chime with the Gospel according to St George, we read in the document I linked to a few paragraphs ago, “It would be a college set up with the Well-being of future generations at its heart”.

The capitalised ‘w’ in mid-sentence tells me that it is a reference to the ‘Welsh Government’s Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

If established, Black Mountains College would produce climate change zealots dictating the political agenda in Wales, curtailing our liberties and making an already poor country poorer for no measurable reduction to global warming. This being the virtue signalling for which Wales is famous, and why it’s so attractive to those seeking to use Wales for their own ends.

There is no doubt in my mind that George Soros is the guiding influence behind Black Mountains College.

The final point I wish to address is Ifan Morgan Jones accusing me of being anti-Semitic. He tries to be clever by saying, “Jac himself strenuously denies any accusation of anti-semitism (sic) in his post. He himself never mentions Soros’ Jewishness”.

Consider: Ifan Morgan Jones introduces the issue of George Soros being Jewish, but only in order to suggest that I – who never mentioned it – am anti-Semitic!

I’ve been losing interest in Nation.Cymru for some time. It obviously serves a certain agenda, appealing to an in-crowd. ‘In’ with their own little cliques and echo chambers, but usually out of step with the great majority of our people.

THE MULE KICKS OUT

My piece on Black Mountains College was published last Monday. Ifan Morgan Jones’s attack came out on Tuesday, and then, on Saturday, in the Western Mail‘s ‘Weekend’ supplement (and TV guide) there was a double-page spread extolling the vision of those involved. (Available here in pdf format.)

Well, I’m sure that was the intention, but it was compromised by the statements made by the principals, and of course, the omissions. Let me explain.

To begin with, the article says that Rawlence and Sheers’ ” . . . thinking has has been shaped by the ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act”. The same connection I made in my article.

Later, Rawlence is quoted: “It (BMC) . . . can attract others . . . who want to come and work here”.

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Which supports something else I said – “the Black Mountains College will be in Wales, but not of Wales”. For this is not a college as you and I would understand it; BMC will cater for the kind of people who want to drop out on One Planet settlements.

Despite the highfalutin plans, the whole BMC thing still seems rather half-baked. And perhaps amateurishly managed. For the idea is three years old and yet there seems to be no tangible progress to report.

This despite Sheers and Rawlence receiving £82,500 from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority for a feasibility study in January 2018. Surely that study has been completed, so where is it?

The preferred location for BMC is the old Talgarth mental hospital, which the article told us is privately owned. Again, they’ve known that for three years, so have any moves been made to acquire the building?

I worry, given the involvement of Labour Party heavyweights like Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe, and Jane Davidson, former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, that the Black Mountains gang are expecting public funding.

I just hope that the redundancies announced at University of Wales Trinity Saint David are in no way connected with Black Mountains College. With UWTSD providing accreditation is BMC also lined up to join the UWTSD group, maybe as a replacement for Lampeter?

Other oddities in the WM report (attributed to Jenny White but almost certainly written by Rawlence and/or Sheers) was the absence of any mention of William Newton-Smith, so trusted by George Soros, who we read about in the first section.

He, you might recall from last week’s piece, is the sole director of Black Mountains College Ltd; also one of the six directors of Black Mountains College Project, and a trustee of the Black Mountains College charity, No 1180681.

But no signs yet of Uncle George’s money. Maybe he’s hoping some mug will cough up so he won’t need to put hands in his very deep pockets. That ‘mug’ might be us, the Welsh public.

Whatever, we’re entitled to know how Black Mountains College is to be funded. Because I honestly don’t think it’s going to be done through JustGiving.

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That the ‘National Newspaper of Wales’ should give them a two-page spread so soon after I asked a few questions, and that Ifan Morgan Jones was even quicker off the mark, tells me that Sheers and Rawlence (who remind me of a Simon and Garfunkel tribute act) must be well connected.

And if that’s the case, then we should be on our guard.

Stop Press: the accounts for Black Mountains College Ltd became available on Monday – a dormant company with a single £1 share. Can’t see that building a new college.

A NICE LITTLE BURNER?

Plaid Cymru’s support for One Planet Developments and related bullshit is not limited to the abstract or the ideological, for some Plaidistas are coining it from the hippy influx.

One whose name keeps cropping up is Vicky Moller of Pembrokeshire. Not only has she built up a nice little portfolio of smallholdings, but she was also a driving force behind OPD legislation. Almost inevitably, she has supported a number of OPD planning applications, including Beeview farm on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli.

And it seems to be generational, for her children are also capitalising on the invasion. Here is the Management Plan for Beeview Farm, where we encounter, on page 73, “energy consultant Jamie Ashe”. By page 79 he has become “reed bed designer Jamie Ashe”. (Is this promotion?)

Beeview farm. Anyone who says this is an improvement to the Welsh landscape is talking out of their fat, green arse. Anyone who accepts such bullshit should not hold public office. Click to enlarge.

Jamie Ashe is a son of Vicky Moller. Another son, Robin Donnelly, flogs wood-burning stoves.

Now I have never understood why the planet savers think burning wood is acceptable. Maybe it’s because wood is ‘natural’? But so is coal. Even lignite is natural. And yet, those who have been encouraged to move here to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint (work that out!) obviously see nothing wrong in filling the air with wood smoke.

I have driven the A487 past Corris on a windless winter evening and marvelled at the pall of smoke overhanging the valley thanks to the Centre for Alternative Technology cult’s acolytes. Who, with their wood-burning stoves, candles, joss sticks and joints make an Orthodox cathedral at Easter look smoke-free.

Twelve have walked on the Moon, but there have been dozens of OPDs allowed. So this arrogant twat criticises Wales for not allowing enough OPDs, but his own country, England, escapes criticism for allowing none. Click to enlarge.

With at least one of her offspring benefiting from Beeview ‘farm’ Vicky Moller was herself an enthusiastic backer of this OPD that breached the border defences of a National Park. The first, but certainly not the last.

Moller is a Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate, yet many locals have difficulty understanding what kind of Wales she wants to live in. And their confusion isn’t limited to OPDs.

Pembrokeshire county council wants to close village schools, especially in the Welsh-speaking north of the county. Yet Vicky Moller helped found, and is a big supporter of, Nant y Cwm Steiner school, attended by many of her ‘alternative’ friends’ children. While others prefer home schooling.

But then, since the advent of devolution, the tide has been running against the indigenous Welsh and in favour of those Vicky Moller supports. And others taking over our country.

Things could be about to get even worse.

Because last week, Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner, called for more climate change funding. Much of her pitch I found uncontentious – more spending on public transport, energy-efficient homes, renewable energy, but then came the sting in the tail . . .

Yet more money will be taken from Welsh farmers and given to English hippies by the ‘Welsh Government’. Click to enlarge

With that kind of money available in the future, what we’ve seen up until now could be viewed as a scouting party for the main force. Things could be about to get a whole lot worse.

MEAN STREETS AND ETHICAL ANGORA

No one can have failed to notice a big story from last week when a Greenpeace protester was bundled out of a private function by Tory MP, Mark Field. It went viral because it was caught on camera, like everything these days.

Click to enlarge

It’s been covered by countless media outlets so I’m not going over it again; no, what I want to focus on is protester Janet Barker, “from Builth Wells, Powys . . . who works in environmental education and homelessness prevention, and runs a small holding (sic) and ethical angora business”.

(I was relieved to read that, cos there’s a lot of unethical Angora about. Bastards!)

Another report I dug out told us that her partner is an author. It didn’t take long for them to be identified and located on social media. They live near Llyn Brianne . . . ‘off-grid’, of course.

Peter Barker has written a book entitled System Error. When I first read the blurb and saw that the central character is called Imogen Thomas I began to worry that it might be set in Wales. I worried because the author is from Dorset and his partner from Wigan.

My fears were realised, for Imogen – who is, you’ll be surprised to learn, also a Greenpeace activist – stalks the mean streets of Llandrindod Wells. Here’s a section I lifted from what the author has made available.

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This is most definitely Station Crescent not the Nevsky Prospekt, but it has a certain . . . well, a certain . . . oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? It’ll come to me.

As far as I can make out this earthly paradise for ethical rabbits is not a One Planet Development, which serves to remind us that the problem is not limited to OPD.

And yet, I don’t wish to be too harsh (you know me), I’m sure they’re both sincere people. But there’s no way they’re making a living out of a few acres and rabbit fur. (Nor Peter Barker’s riveting prose.) Like virtually all those who come here they either have their own money, or they have family money to fall back on, or else they rely on grants, state benefits and other hand-outs.

Which makes a nonsense of whole premiss that families, with children, can live this way. And you have to worry about the children.

It can’t be done. So why is the ‘Welsh Government’ encouraging this fantasy? And if it’s such a great idea – and it’s obvious that many English people want to try this lifestyle – why aren’t OPD and other initiatives being introduced in England?

Because, yet again, we are being taken for mugs, and Wales exploited.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT . . . OR MAYBE NOT

A news report that caught my jaundiced eye a while back was this story about children’s homes springing up in Swansea. The article itself explained the problem:

“Relatively cheap property prices in the county are attracting private providers to places like Swansea, a group of councillors was told.

Swansea currently has 13 homes registered with Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), with at least four more due to open in the next year. Only one of them is a Swansea Council-registered home.”

The article also made it clear that the problem extends to Neath Port Talbot. So it’s a Swansea Bay problem due to companies from outside of Wales taking advantage of cheaper property here to bring in someone else’s problems.

I don’t want to sound heartless, because these kids have problems, and they need help – but they should not be our responsibility.

And they cost us money. Just read what the police had to contribute to the report.

“In March, South Wales Police chief superintendent Martin Jones said his officers were dealing with missing children and taking care of young people in crisis at weekends due to the increase in children’s residential homes in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

He said: ‘In these homes there are about 110 children and they’re being brought in from outside Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, that’s putting massive strain on police resources and on social services, and other resources in health.'”

So why is Care Inspectorate Wales licensing these homes?

I suppose because this is how Englandandwales must operate. The Valleys and Swansea Bay – accounting for some half the population of Wales – is becoming increasingly attractive to those who run ‘homes’ and the like.

Reproduced courtesy of WalesOnline. Click to enlarge.

The problem of Swansea’s unneeded children’s homes probably links with another problem I highlighted a few months ago in this post. (Scroll down to ‘Welsh Not 2019’.)

This story made news as a Welsh language issue, with staff speaking Welsh at a care home in Ystradgynlais said to be upsetting residents. No one thought to ask why residents at a home in a largely Welsh-speaking community were unfamiliar with the Welsh language.

And of course this system of social dumping goes a long way to explaining why Wales has such a bloated third sector. (And an overstretched NHS.)

Then, earlier this month, we heard of a case in the Rhondda that followed the same pattern – an English company planning to house highly disruptive youngsters in a Welsh community. The company in question being Rise Care Ltd of Bristol, and so new is this company that no accounts have yet been filed with Companies House.

Reproduced courtesy of WalesOnline. Click to enlarge.

The reaction was so hostile – problems with similar establishments in Tonyrefail and Ebbw Vale were cited – that even local MP Chris Bryant (Labour) and local AM Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) were forced to object. (Clearly there were votes to be lost.)

I have a suggestion for Bryant and Wood. Ask Care Inspectorate Wales why it registers such establishments, for unproven companies, in areas where there is no local need? Get to the root of the problem rather than engaging in very public displays of knee-jerk nimbyism to hang on to your seats.

And maybe your party leaders down in Corruption Bay will begin to appreciate that we have a serious, national problem of social dumping on our hands.

Wales is a corrupt country being exploited to benefit anybody and everybody – at our expense. It’s our country yet we are marginalised and exploited.

We need to be more assertive. And it really doesn’t matter how we go about it. Any nation being exploited and invaded has the right to defend itself.

♦ end ♦

 

One Planet, Future Generations & George Soros

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‘ve written about One Planet developments before, but to refresh your memories, and help newcomers, here’s a brief outline.

One Planet seems to be a generic term for a loose global network of people who believe in living a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, both as individuals and communities. And who can argue with that?

The wider and diffuse One Planet movement may be global but Wales is the only country that has implemented OP legislation.

This came about because certain people realised that devolution coupled with malleable politicos offered a golden opportunity for them to live the lifestyle they wanted, wherever they liked, with no restraints. And even to have it funded.

It also opened the door to those who wished to cover Wales in wind turbines. Those grotesque machines that inflict more environmental damage in their production, transportation and erection than is ever recouped during their short and intermittent working lives.

Although the One Wales: One Planet document of May 2009 was signed by then first minister Rhodri Morgan the main driving force within the cabinet would appear to have been Jane Davidson, Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing.

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Another influence would have been Plaid Cymru, which from 2007 until 2011 was the junior partner in a coalition with Labour. For Plaid had been cosying up to multifarious Greens for a couple of decades, some of them pathologically anti-Welsh. But what the hell! if there’s virtue to be signalled then Plaid’s your party.

The One Planet legislation was supplemented with Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

You can catch up with some of my earlier writing on this subject in: Fleece Jacket Fascists (01.08.2013); Plaid Cymru and the Green Party of Englandandwales (10.11.2014); Tryweryn, Happy Donkey Hill, Good-lifers (20.10.2015); The Green Smokescreen (05.09.2016); Hippies and associated problems (09.01.2018); The Green Menace (28.08.2018); The Welsh Clearances (16.10.2018).

SO WHAT’S NEW?

The purpose of this posting is to bring you up to date, with examples of how the legislation mentioned in the previous section is damaging Wales. Also, how our local authorities and planning bodies are impotent in the face of land grabs because the aggressors have the full support of the ‘Welsh Government’, DEFRA, and the Planning Inspectorate.

And then, we come face to face with George Soros in the form of the Black Mountains College.

MAENCLOCHOG

This example from north Pembrokeshire reminds us of how little support these eco-shysters receive from the indigenous communities. In Maenclochog, local councillor Huw George has even called for a moratorium on One Planet developments because, he argues, the system is being abused.

Councillor George has seen five OPD applications in his ward.

Image courtesy of BBC Wales, click to enlarge

And of course he’s right when he argues that the system is being abused. Everyone who looks at how One Planet operates can see that the legislation is too lax. Another – and predictable – problem is that One Planet and associated legislation is of no benefit whatsoever to Welsh people. But it was never intended to be!

Think about that for a minute: a ‘Welsh Government’ passes legislation that it knows in advance will be of no benefit to Welsh people.

Making what is dressed up as saving the planet just another form of colonialism. Encouraged by an administration that may celebrate Welshness on an official and superficial level while simultaneously allowing or encouraging the destruction of  the communities where that identity still thrives naturally.

PARC TEIFI

Not far from Maenclochog, just over the county boundary in Ceredigion, we looked a few weeks ago at Parc Teifi. (Scroll down a bit when the link opens.) There the ‘Welsh Government’ ‘sold’ five acres on the outskirts of Cardigan town to Mr Alpay Torgut (late of Islington) and his friends for just £1.

The indefatigable Wynne Jones tried to find out a little more about this remarkable deal. For example, was a business plan submitted; and how is such generosity – with Welsh public assets – justified. But after a deluge of flim-flam the shutters came down. As they always do.

Described as some kind of agricultural storage unit at Parc Teifi I guarantee there will eventually be a retrospective planning application for a One Planet dwelling. Click to enlarge

Anyone who takes an interest in the workings of the ‘Welsh Government’, and asks questions soon runs into a fog of obfuscation, which is usually the prelude to contact being ended completely. That’s because the ‘Welsh Government’ breaks its own rules, which then means that projects cannot be scrutinised or monitored.

Another feature is that many of those migrating to our rural areas to save the planet don’t want their children going to Welsh schools, or they think they can educate them better at home. This results in many kids just slipping off the radar, often with tragic consequences, as in the case of Dylan Seabridge.

I’m not suggesting that this boy’s parents, originally from Stoke on Trent, were involved in the One Planet scam; they just represent another type ‘escaping’ to our rural areas.

BEEVIEW FARM

Another recent arrival worthy of a write-up is Matthew Watkinson, who lives with his wife Charis and their two children at Beeview farm, near Newport, Pembrokeshire.

They live in what can only be termed a rural slum, and claim to make a living on a couple of acres from selling eggs. If children were living in conditions like that in a town then the NSPCC and social services might be alerted. But this is One Planet living.

A parallel universe, where for planning permission, fire safety regulations, child welfare, etc., all the norms and laws of society that you and I must obey are suspended.

Beeview farm. Image by Rob Melen. (Alright, Rob?) Click to enlarge.

Like most of his kind, Watkinson pissed off the locals, and responded to their objections with this diatribe that gets very personal. But it’s par for the course; facile and self-serving arguments sustained with a combination of invective and moral superiority driven home by a sense of entitlement – ‘You Welsh peasants have no right to be critical of us superior beings’.

Beeview farm appears on the list of approved projects* as Golwg y Gwenyn and is described as a ‘Prospective OPD application’, but then we are also told that it’s ‘the first OPD to be granted full planning permission within a Welsh National Park’. I suspect we reconcile these statements by understanding that the structure for which planning permission was granted in July 2016 has yet to be built.

Apart from him being an arrogant twat, another reason locals did not grasp Matthew Watkinson to their bosom was because his OPD is on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli, a very special area with Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age structures, including the famous hillfort.

Mynydd Carningli, click to enlarge

Quite rightly, no development is allowed on Mynydd Carningli and locals felt that Watkinson was using OPD to circumvent planning rules in a very delicate area. And he’s got away with it, further endearing himself and the One Planet system to the locals of the Newport area.

UPDATE: This article and video went up on the BBC website very soon after this post was published.

* You may have noticed an intriguing caveat to the list of One Planet Developments: ‘This is not a full list – some OPDs prefer not to make themselves public, and there may be more that are not known to us’. Where might one obtain a full list?

‘I’M A GYPSY, HONEST, GUV’

Now we turn to an example of One Planet and Future Generation guidelines popping up in an unlikely situation. Here’s a case from Garnant, near Ammanford. On one level it’s another chancer who’s moved into Wales and is now trying to con the system, but on another level it’s almost funny.

As we read in the report from the South Wales Guardian Henry Rogers and his family moved to semi-rural Bryncethin Road just outside Garnant in 2012. And he has now been given planning permission for a caravan and other amenities alongside the house in which he says his wife lives alone.

For Rogers claims to be separated from his wife, and because he is a gypsy, he now demands his own encampment where he can fiddle his evenings away accompanied by wood crackling on an open fire. Local objectors are unimpressed, saying he is neither a gypsy nor has he separated from his wife.

When councillors on the planning committee asked for proof of Rogers’ gypsy status planning officer John Thomas ‘ . . . said a 15-page statement justifying the applicant’s lineage and background had been submitted, and that Gypsy-traveller sites were lacking in the Garnant area’.

What! How many gypsy sites does a small place like Garnant need?

Councillors were denied a view of the statement and Thomas had to admit that it contained no hard evidence of Rogers’ claimed ancestry, but the planning officer covered his arse with, ‘ . . . . (Thomas) had consulted housing department colleagues, who “verified that it’s common practice to accept justification statements”’.

So all you need do is concoct a ‘statement’ and planning permission is yours!

If you turn to the planning officer’s report you’ll read what appears in the panel below.

Well-being of Future Generation (Wales) Act 2015 used to justify a gypsy site in Carmarthenshire. Click to enlarge

I have just one question: How does an Englishman claiming to be a ‘gypsy’ and having a caravan site in open country “improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales”?

As on the slopes of Mynydd Carningli, Maenclochog, and countless other locations, we see locals united in opposition. Which tells me that the bad feeling created by One Planet developments is damaging rather than improving ‘the social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales’. While the economic contribution is negligible if not negative.

THE GEORGE SOROS BLACK MOUNTAINS COLLEGE

For the concluding section of this offering we head for the Black Mountains – inspiration for Raymond Williams’ Border Country where big things are in the offing in the form of a new seat of learning – The Black Mountains College (BMC).

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I must confess that until a few days ago I knew nothing of this highly suspect venture exciting project. And when you see who’s involved you’ll wonder why it’s not headlines every day of the week. Let’s start at the beginning.

Here’s the website for the Black Mountains College. There is a charity, the Black Mountains College Project, No 1180681; and two companies, Black Mountains College Ltd (Incorporated 03.10.2017), and Black Mountains College Project (Inc. 07.02.2018).

From the Charity Commission entry. Click to enlarge

From the website we learn that the Project Lead is author Ben Rawlence, who has worked for George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, and also Human Rights Watch, a body that has seen much Soros funding.

Though I find it odd that Rawlence has no background in education. So you have to wonder what he contributes to the scheme, and why he’s Project Lead. Unless the answer lies in his links with Soros?

Programme Manager is Libby Pearson, who has connections with, among others, Swansea University and the ‘Welsh Government’.

The sole director of Black Mountains College Ltd and one of six directors of Black Mountains College Project is Dr William Herbert Newton-Smith, a Canadian philosopher of science and co-proprietor (with his wife) of Welsh Lavender Ltd of Builth.

As for the charity, we of course find Newton-Smith listed as a trustee, along with the other directors of Black Mountains College Project: David Isaac, Elizabeth Passey, Owen Sheers, Chris Blake and Emily Durrant. Short biographies can be found here, where we learn that Newton-Smith was, ‘for 20 years head of George Soros’s higher education programme’.

In fact, Newton-Smith was the founding executive chairman of Soros’s controversial Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, used to influence and control human behaviour by inculcating the globalist agenda.

Newton-Smith has launched a number of other ‘universities’ and institutions for Soros, here he is at the University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan . . . and now he’s involved in starting the Black Mountains College.

I don’t subscribe to all of the views on Soros we hear from the US right but I do worry that he may genuinely believe that it’s in the best interests of humanity to do away with borders, languages, religions and nationalities in order to create a homogeneous, anglophone, and ‘manageable’ global population, done by frightening us with global warming and other threats.

This is why I oppose Soros, and it’s also why I’m worried at the involvement of two of his former employees in this new education venture. Because the Black Mountains College will be in Wales, but not of Wales. Made clear in the clip below from the BMC website.

Talgarth may be the ‘gateway to Mid-Wales’ . . . but only if you’ve travelled up the M4 from southern England and the major airports. Click to enlarge.

Another clue is the complete absence of the Welsh language from the BMC website.

Something else that worries me is that the Black Mountains College wants to engage in teacher training and issue Post Graduate Certificates in Education (PGCE) in order to percolate its message through the Welsh education system.

An object made easier by having on the BMC’s Advisory Council both Jane Davidson, former Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, who since 2011 has flitted around academe and elsewhere reciting her mantras; and Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner.

Most of those involved with the Black Mountains College are strangers to our country but they know that if you want the sun to shine on your project, with regular life-giving showers of funding, then it helps to have Labour heavyweights on board.

Finally, let’s look at this from an educational angle. Higher education in Wales is in trouble (some might say crisis), with a number of institutions having apparently over-reached themselves. Only last Friday, Jane Davidson, in her role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement and Sustainability, announced redundancies at UWTSD.

click to enlarge

This is the same Jane Davidson who is now helping launch Black Mountains College, which will almost certainly ask for large amounts of public funding, and may ultimately be controlled by George Soros.

What the hell is going on?

UPDATE: Ben Rawlence has responded, on Twitter, by accusing me of anti-Semitism.

click to enlarge

MAKING CONNECTIONS

There is a strategy in place for our rural areas that seeks to undermine traditional farming and replace our farmers with those you’ve read about here. Implemented by a ‘Welsh Government’ influenced by those who’ll be the beneficiaries of the strategy.

The ‘Welsh Government’ is now using Brexit to justify further cutting financial support to farmers, but as we’ve seen, the policy of undermining traditional agriculture has been in place for over a decade. (Though if Brexit is an issue then those liars in Corruption Bay could if they wished maintain funding at EU levels – as the Scottish Government will.)

The next assault will come from the ‘findings’ of the Brexit and our land consultation. A good source tells me that the consultation is a sham as the decision has already been made to proceed with the ‘public goods’ system on which the outgoing Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, Sustainable Management Schemes Collaborative Projects scheme was based.

No, the truth is that Welsh farmers are being discriminated against, and rural Welsh life threatened; a form of discrimination against an indigenous population that can only be viewed as colonialism bordering on apartheid.

William Newton-Smith delivering his speech at the Soros-funded University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan. Click to enlarge.

And now we know that George Soros is somewhere in the mix. I’m not saying that George Soros controls Wales, but having read what Soros has to say on climate change – and it really is an obsession with him! – he could have dictated everything the ‘Welsh Government’ has put out in recent years.

In William Newton-Smith and Ben Rawlence we have Soros’s emissaries in Wales, operating through the Black Mountains College. So should the ‘Welsh Government’ be giving funding, approval, accreditation or any other support to those representing a man who likes to run small countries by remote control?

The Soros connection is established beyond any doubt with this document in which the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority recommends grant funding. We read, “BMC would be part of a global liberal arts network mentored by Bard College, NY, USA”. Bard College is funded by George Soros. The ‘network’ referred to is the institutions around the world Soros controls through his vast wealth.

Bard College is funded by George Soros and the ‘network’ is the other institutions he funds and controls. Click to enlarge

The document also tells us that BMC’s accreditation will come from the University of Wales Trinity St David, which explains the presence of Jane Davidson.

But should Sophie Howe, Jane Davidson or any other public figures be involved in this venture that could, if it follows the pattern we’ve seen elsewhere, be subversive of democracy?

Or does the ‘Welsh Government’ already know that Black Mountains College is a George Soros project and is willingly co-operating?

If so, then how much influence does George Soros have in Wales?

UPDATE: There was a Black Mountain College in North Carolina between 1933 and 1957, renowned as a ‘liberal’ and ‘experimental’ establishment. Bard College, which will ‘mentor’ our Black Mountains College, is often seen as the successor institution.

So did Soros’s minions scour the world looking for another Black Mountain before settling on ours?

♦ end ♦

 

M4 relief road

By now everyone’s aware of the decision announced last week by the ‘Welsh Government’ not to proceed with the planned M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks.

This decision that took most of us by surprise needs to be examined and certain ramifications and possibilities considered. For last week’s decision might have significance beyond a single road project.

ALL CHANGE?

When Carwyn Jones was First Minister it was understood that the relief road would go ahead. So for a start, the decision announced last week means that things have changed under his successor, Mark Drakeford.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of last week’s decision is that Mark Drakeford, and the ‘Welsh Government’, have gone against the wishes of their superiors in London. It’s impossible to over-stress that what happened last week was a form of insubordination.

For make no  mistake, London wanted this road. The Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales backed the plan, with inspector Bill Wardrup waxing lyrical about the relief road while being almost insultingly dismissive of alternatives.

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Our Secretary of State, Alun Cairns, that most London-loyal of individuals – and, we now learn, a Boris Johnson supporter – was “hugely disappointed” by the decision. It may have come as a bit of a shock to him, for Cairns knew long ago what the inspector’s recommendation was, and he probably expected the new management team in Cardiff docks to follow Compliant Carwyn’s lead and do as the inspector (and London) recommended.

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So maybe any consideration of this shock to the system political boils down to two questions:

  1. Why has Drakeford refused to do London’s bidding in this instance?
  2. Is this a one-off act of rebellion or does it herald a fundamental change of course for ‘Welsh’ Labour?

CUI BONO?

One possible explanation might lie in the fact that despite all the criticism of London-centricity, and the disproportionate amount of infrastructure spending in London and the south east of England, for two decades Wales has followed exactly the same course.

Because a curious feature of devolution is that those areas that voted against devolution in 1997 have been the areas to benefit most since 1999. Maybe this is related to the phenomenon that has seen successive Labour administrations in Cardiff Bay neglect those areas that vote Labour.

So, to be generous, this decision not to proceed with the M4 relief road might mark the beginning of attempts to ‘rebalance’ the Welsh economy.

Even if I’m being too generous there, on a purely financial level, it would have been difficult to justify expenditure of £1.5 bn (at the very least) in a country of just over 3 million people unless the benefits are widely enjoyed. That would obviously not have been the case with the M4 relief road, and further, expenditure on that project would mean fewer infrastructure projects elsewhere in the country.

It’s even being suggested that areas of England – notably Bristol – would have benefited more from an M4 relief road than areas of Wales just twenty or thirty miles away, such as the Heads of the Valleys.

This is how Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, put it in a couple of tweets.

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Weighing up cost and benefit, the M4 relief road would have meant the ‘Welsh Government’ borrowing a great deal of money for a project that at best would only benefit one corner of the country, and at worst, might have been of more benefit to adjacent areas of England.

On those grounds alone, no body claiming to be the ‘Welsh Government’, serving the whole of Wales, could have given the go-ahead for the M4 relief road.

But that consideration has never before stopped an administration in Cardiff Bay from pouring investment into the city at the expense of the rest of the country. So there may be other explanations.

THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE FOR ENGLANDANDWALES

Having mentioned the Planning Inspectorate this is a good time to remind you of the malign influence this agency has exerted over Wales.

In this example from March 2014 I wrote about the plan to expand Bodelwyddan and how it linked with the Local Development Plan (LDP) for Denbighshire. In this post we see how the Planning Inspectorate was forcing a Welsh local authority to allow housing greatly in excess of any local need.

And even after census findings made it clear that the county would need less new housing than had previously been anticipated, the Planning Inspector insisted on keeping to the now discredited figures:

The planning inspector’s response to Denbighshire arguing it needed less new housing than previously projected. Click to enlarge.

“Objects and aspirations” can only mean catering for an influx of new residents from outside of the county, and almost certainly from outside of Wales. Which means that in many cases the LDPs that have been forced on our local authorities by the Planning Inspectorate are ‘local’ only in the sense that they affect areas of Wales.

In Denbighshire, the northern part of the county lies within the A55 corridor, which is being developed as a linear commuter belt for north west England. The ‘Welsh Government’ will never admit this – in fact, it might not even be consulted – but others know, and are planning for it.

This map was produced by Lichfields (planning and development consultancy), it makes clear that there are three strategic planning areas in Wales, Two we know about, the third is never mentioned.

This is part of a wider and ongoing plan to integrate northern Wales into north west England. This 2019 report from Transport for the North makes the medium- to long-term planning clear, and it goes beyond a narrow corridor.

What’s being done here could be done without devolution – so what’s the point of having a ‘Welsh Government’ if it doesn’t live up to the name? Is devolution just a chimera, a smokescreen?

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Cross-border co-operation is one thing, and desirable, it happens all over the world; but it must be done on a basis of mutual respect with both sides benefiting. The map you see above is Englandandwales in operation. Anyone arguing otherwise would probably describe Tryweryn as a mutually-beneficial project.

Without labouring the point I hope you get the gist – the Planning Inspectorate has done a lot of damage to Wales over the years. Which explains why the agency’s relationship with the ‘Welsh Government’ has always been a source of confusion for Welsh politicians and others.

Taken from a ‘Welsh Government’ publication. Click to enlarge.

The truth is that the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales has a desk in Cardiff but takes its orders from London, with the ‘Welsh Government’ allowed to pretend it has some control.

The truth is driven home when we see an inspector adjudicating on a Welsh case one week and being in Yorkshire or Devon the following week. (Though of course, never in Scotland.)

It was no surprise then that the Planning Inspectorate wanted the M4 black route. Because that’s what London wanted.

Though if Mark Drakeford can see the problem with the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales then he must also be aware that this is only the tip of an iceberg. That ‘iceberg’ being the problem of ‘Welsh’ civil servants relaying orders from London. 

PLANNING FOR A WELSH FUTURE?

The fact that the ‘Welsh Government’ went against the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, its London masters, and a number of powerful lobby groups (perhaps even . . . whisper it – Deryn!), means that Mark Drakeford has really stuck his scruffy neck out.

Which leads me to suspect, or hope, that this decision might be about more than the explanations we’ve been given on cost and environment damage. There might be things bubbling below the surface that could prove to be more important in the medium term than the M4 decision itself.

First off, I am convinced that the M4 decision links with this announcement from a month ago that Wales will soon have its own planning inspectorate. Let’s look at what the article in The Planner says.

“Currently, the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales is responsible for making decisions and recommendations on planning-related land issues and appeals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Welsh Government fund it.

Based in Cardiff, the inspectorate’s Wales Division manages casework on planning and related applications and appeals, including developments of national significance. It examines local development plans, which set out land use planning policies and form the basis of local planning decisions, using a team of dedicated Welsh inspectors and administrators.

The new planning inspectorate for Wales is expected to be fully operational by the end of the current assembly term, which is May 2021.”

This move was explained by the ‘Welsh Government’ thus: “planning law and policy has diverged and continues to diverge at an accelerating rate from England”. Which makes a certain sense, but if that’s the real reason then policing, broadcasting and many other powers would also be fully devolved.

Though a cynic might suggest that Drakeford is launching the new agency because he’s burned his bridges with the Planning Inspectorate after giving them two fingers over such a high-profile project as the M4 relief road.

Whatever the reason, I’m hoping Drakeford and his cabinet want a separate Welsh planning inspectorate to do things differently in future and for the right reasons. Otherwise, why set up a new and separate agency?

IN CONCLUSION . . .

Does the dropping of the M4 relief road coupled with the announcement of the new planning inspectorate herald a change of direction for the ‘Welsh Government’?

The cynic in me thinks, ‘Nah, this leopard ain’t gonna change its spots, Jac. After twenty years of screwing up on devolution Labour’s only pretending to do things differently now because it’s slipping in the polls. Any change will be purely cosmetic.’

But then, the optimistic side to my nature (long dormant) asserts itself and says, ‘Wait! Maybe from now on they will put the interests of Wales and Welsh people first. Perhaps they’ll realise that there are communities within twenty miles of Corruption Bay approaching third world standards of deprivation. And that our rural areas need more than zip wires and granny farms. 

‘Perhaps it’ll mean no more insane legislation to encourage hippies, ‘rewilders’ and other enviroshysters; no more grants showered on multinationals’ branch factories and con men with ludicrous ‘projects’; no more red carpet treatment for exploitive ‘celebs’ such as Bore Grylls; no more funding and other encouragement for the third sector to import England’s problems so as to maintain thousands of unnecessary jobs with our money.

‘Maybe, at long last, Wales will be treated as a country, in which the interests of those who belong here are considered more important than kudos gained from playing to galleries that only seek to exploit and marginalise us. Perhaps our kids will be given a decent education to prepare them for better jobs than scurrying around an Amazon warehouse or desperately waiting for Easter in the hope of some low-wage tourism job.’

Over to you, Mark Drakeford.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 04.06.2019

I haven’t prepared any in-depth or weighty post for this week; instead, I’ve put together a few things I’ve been thinking about, or been sent, that might also be of interest to you. You know me – always trying to please!

COALITIONS

One of the more bizarre responses to the 2016 EU referendum result came from Leanne Wood, then leader of Plaid Cymru – Let’s go into coalition with Labour!‘, she suggested.

Quite what this was supposed to achieve no one seemed to know, but it struck me at the time as a predictable response from Plaid Cymru’s clenched fist and beret tendency. Those who would still regard the Tories as ‘the real enemy’ even if ISIS invaded the Rhondda Fach.

I mention this because even with the Red Queen dethroned Plaid Cymru seems to be thinking along similar lines today. With new leader Adam Price calling for a coalition of Remain-supporting parties for the next UK general election.

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Ideally, of course, Plaid Cymru would like a coalition with Labour, but thanks to Comrade Corbyn’s vacillating that is not possible. So with that hope dashed, Plaid now seeks a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Change UK and the SNP.

(UPDATE: It’s all happening! Now the ‘Welsh Government’ has come out for Remain.)

Let’s consider the SNP first. Things are very different in Scotland, where the SNP will be hoping to win every seat in the next UK general election; so the chances of them doing a deal with other parties, which would almost certainly mean standing down in some seats, is a non-starter.

The SNP could even turn the next general election into a vote on independence and EU membership, especially if Westminster refuses to allow another independence referendum.

Next up is Change UK. If you’re unfamiliar with this lot, then let me explain that they’re a bunch of preening egotists who couldn’t get their own ways in their previous parties. Before the next election comes around clashing egos will have destroyed this collective huff of a party and that’ll be the end of Change UK.

(UPDATE: Within hours of publishing this piece the bust-up happened!)

On to the Greens, aka the Green Party of England, for there is no Wales Green Party. Worse, last year Greens in Wales voted on whether to set up a separate Green party and decided to stay as the Green Party of Englandandwales. Which means that Plaid Cymru wants to work with a party that refuses to recognise Wales as a country!

Note how the BBC reports it, as if common sense prevails against dangerous separatists seeking to sunder a sacred bond. Click to enlarge

Finally, the Liberal Democrats, the party that kept the Tories in power at Westminster between 2010 and 2015, and the party that – with its single AM – helps keep Labour in power down Cardiff docks. A gang of opportunistic and amoral politicos that would sell their grannies for a sniff of power.

Despite decades of trying to promote themselves as the ‘nice’ party I have a deep and abiding contempt for the modern Liberal Democrats. I had time for old Geraint Howells and a few others from the genuinely Welsh Liberal tradition, but the modern party is a venomous thing not to be trusted or handled.

Containing individuals like Callum James Littlemore, who is ‘Diary Manager’ for local party leader Jane Dodds. (She needs a diary manager!) I thought for a minute it was a typo, and he worked on her farm, but apparently it’s true. Anyway, young Callum bears out all I’ve thought about LibDems.

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Though he can’t have been in Wales for long if he thinks Plaid Cymru “support divisive nationalism”. Listen to Uncle Jac: Plaid Cymru is a bunch of evasive, wishy-washy, ishoo-botherers, forever seeking distractions to avoid confronting any specifically Welsh issue. Brexit being the latest such distraction.

Let’s hope we hear little more from Littlemore. (Couldn’t resist it!)

Ruling out the SNP for the reasons I’ve given, these are the parties that Plaid Cymru is ready to co-operate with thanks to Plaid’s fixation with Brexit. What would Plaid get in return – I mean, would these parties campaign for Welsh independence, or even greater devolution? I think not.

It also means that by turning the next election into a single-issue affair Plaid Cymru will ignore the things people care about. Done in order to line up with England’s Brahmin left, thereby alienating thousands upon thousands of people that must be won over if Wales is to escape the humiliation long ago imposed on us by John Bull; a colonial system loyally maintained into the present day by ‘Welsh’ Labour and its rag-bag of hangers-on.

There’ll be a price to pay for this posturing, this self-indulgent myopia. I sincerely hope.

CORRUPTION BAY

This is a term I coined well over twenty years ago as the title of an opus describing the ‘regeneration’ of Cardiff’s docklands. Perhaps the biggest milking of the public purse ever seen in Wales.

Made possible by Secretary of State for Wales (1979 – 1987) Nicholas Edwards, who set up, in April 1987, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC), to be run by his good friend and fellow High Tory, Sir Geoffrey Inkin. The CBDC became the conduit for pumping hundreds of millions of pounds of public money into land owned by Associated British Ports (ABP), of which Edwards was a director.

The CBDC was wound up in 1999 and Edwards – Lord Crickhowell since 1987 – stepped down from the board of Associated British Ports Holdings Ltd 28 April 1999.

Of course, Edwards/Crickhowell didn’t have it all his own way. For example, despite donning his Welsh National Opera tricorn he failed to get a new opera house to the Bay, but learning from that disappointment he made sure that the ‘consolation prize’ of the Notional Assembly building was located on his patch.

And while it was being built he saw to it that ABP continued to coin it by having AMs and staff use Crickhowell House – at £2m+ a year.

Crickhowell House/Tŷ Crughywel/Tŷ Hywel, click to enlarge

Crickhowell House was soon renamed Tŷ Crughywel, and is now Tŷ Hywel, apparently in honour of Hywel Dda. Which looks very much like an attempt to hide the Crickhowell connection, for I’m not aware of Hywel Dda having any local connections.

Despite having moved into the new Senedd building over ten years ago the ‘Welsh Government’ still agreed a series of leases that bind it – and us – to Tŷ Hywel until 2049, or Armageddon, whichever comes sooner. Guaranteed to cost us many more millions of pounds.

I mention this to give the background to what we see today in Cardiff Bay; the squalid and incestuous wheeler-dealing, the lying and the backstabbing, the cronyism, the incompetence, and the waste of public money.

The latest example of the incestuousness comes with Daniel Bryant leaving lobbyists Deryn for Plaid Cymru. This ménage à trois involving Deryn, Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party is not good for democracy or for Wales.

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(Cathy Owens is a director of Deryn. Though I shudder to think what ‘Deryn standards’ might be referring to. Could it be sarcasm?)

But this is what devolution has done. It has given us a class of people, divorced from the real world, who study politics, help out local politicians in their spare time and then, when they finish university, get a job working for a politician, or lobbyists, making contacts, and getting on their party’s list of approved candidates.

They then become politicians and make decisions affecting the lives of people with whom they have little contact and for whom they may have little concern. I say that because politics is no longer about serving the people, it’s a team game of abstractions and all that matters is scoring points against the opposition. (Though in Wales it often seems to be just two ‘teams’ involved.)

This system of musical chairs that begins with teenagers choosing a ‘career’ in politics goes a long way to explaining why Wales is in the mess she’s in today. And also why, alone in western Europe, Wales has no register or regulation of lobbyists – because the lobbyists won’t countenance such legislation!

Speak out in favour of such legislation – as Neil McEvoy has done more than once – and you will be hounded and vilified – by lobbyists, your own party, and anyone else the lobbyists can influence. Is this democracy?

Of course not, but it is Corruption Bay; and those we find lurking there today are worthy successors to the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.

REMOTE CONTROL

For anyone who missed it over on Jacqui Thompson’s blog, soon-to-be-retired Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James plans to stay active with Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd . . . of Brighton. A company formed 23 April 2019.

‘Why Brighton?’ you ask, and the answer is because that’s where his mates are. ‘Mates!’ Yes, you must remember his partners from the Cardiff Bay property business. I wrote about it in Baywatch and Baywatch 2. In particular, Mark Philip Carter, a director with James of Building and Estate Solutions Today Limited.

That company is based in Cardiff, but Carter has other companies based at the same Brighton address – 161-163 Preston Road – where we find Mark James’s new venture. Companies such as Friend-James Accountants LLP, Friend-James Ltd and Opher Ltd.

The two directors of Ffynnon Consultancy are James and his missus. He with 400 shares, she with 100.

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It was always unlikely that when James retires later this month, and surfboards out of county hall on a flood of tears, that he would put on his slippers and take up some innocent pastime like counting his money, or evicting bloggers.

But now, with his own consultancy, his protégée Wendy Walters taking over his job, and Emlyn ‘Two Barns’ Dole keeping the councillors in check, James should be able to run the show by remote control!

For as the old saying has it – You can’t keep a good man down. Or in this case, a vindictive and manipulative megalomaniac, and Private Eye Shit of the Year 2016.

You know he can’t just walk away – for there is a Wellness Village to build!

Talking of which . . . there’s something nagging me, for there is another company with a very similar name to James’s new venture. This being the Ffynnon Consultancy Group Ltd.

What’s interesting about the Ffynnon Consultancy Group is that its entry in the ‘Welsh Government’s Directory of Welsh Businesses tells us: “At the Ffynnon Consultancy Group we identify and establish business connections across a wide platform of business sectors in the UAE and the GCC”.

‘UAE’ is of course the initials of the United Arab Emirates, and ‘GCC’ stands for Gulf Cooperation Council. So why would this obscure little company be operating in the Gulf?

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I ask because I’m sure you’ll remember that it was links with that part of the world that led to suspensions at Swansea University and the halting of city deal funding for the Wellness Village.

The sole director of the Ffynnon Consultancy Group – a one-share company that appears never to have traded or done anything since being formed in June 2016 – was Angela Louise Williams of Llandybie, until she was replaced last Friday by Kevin Williams of New Quay, Ceredigion, with the company’s registered address also transferring to New Quay on 3 June.

Given the Gulf connection, I got to wondering if there might also be a link with Swansea University, the Wellness Village, or with outgoing Carmarthenshire CEO Mark James’s new company Ffynnon Consultancy Ltd?

In the hope of getting answers I e-mailed Ffynnon Consultancy Group and received a reply from Kevin Williams, who expressed surprise that Companies House had allowed registrations from two companies with such similar names.

He assured me that neither he nor Angela Louise Williams had any links to either Carmarthenshire County Council or Swansea University. So that would appear to be that . . . just an amazing coincidence . . .

M4 OR NO M4

As I write this, on Monday evening, the word is that tomorrow the ‘Welsh Government’ will not back the proposed M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks. So, on that assumption, here are a few points that immediately popped into the cavernous Jac cranium.

  • Let us hope that this unexpected decision heralds a new era of development and investment spread across the country, thereby obviating the need for an M4 ‘relief road’.
  • Presumably the announcement will be accompanied by promises to invest in public transport. Again, I urge that thinking goes beyond the Cardiff region, because there is a country out there.
  • Nothing would prove this administration’s commitment to both Wales beyond Cardiff and public transport better than a west coast railway line from Carmarthen to Bangor.
  • Finally, this decision might deter commuters from Bristol and elsewhere moving into Wales for cheaper housing – have you thought about that? Well, have you!

CAPTION COMPETITION

And, finally, this week’s caption competition. I am grateful to the person who supplied this wonderful photograph of Paul and Rowena Williams of Weep for Wales fame. The picture comes from the XscapeNow Facebook page.

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These crooks are former owners of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, The Knighton Hotel, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor Hotel and other establishments from Northumberland to Cornwall.

I can’t help thinking that holding an illustration of criminals being caught by the police might be seen as tempting fate.

♦ end ♦