Miscellany, 09.12.2019

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

People often say to me, ‘Jac, you’re a miserable old sod, why don’t you give us some good news, eh?’ To which I usually respond, ‘Because this is Wales!’.

In Wales, what passes for ‘good news’ is invariably political propaganda, what the media calls ‘human interest’ stories, or else straightforward bollocks.

If you want to read that the ‘Welsh Government’ is thinking of asking Ferrari to open a factory in Tredegar, or that a Denbighshire farmer’s wife has found the bracelet she lost some years ago (while being pleasured by an itinerant Kiwi sheep-shearer), then you’re in the wrong place.

I don’t make up the stories that appear here. They happen and I report them. If you don’t like them then do something about it – get rid of those responsible.

BRYN LLYS

I have reported on this barely credible story a number of times. If you want to catch up then start here (scroll down), then here (ditto), and here.

In a nutshell, a gang of crooks from England (Yorkshire, if you must know) bought an old farmhouse outside Nebo, near Caernarfon; they’ve done work without planning permission (or exceeded what permission they had), to the point where a monstrous new building has appeared and the old farmhouse has been demolished.

Cyngor Gwynedd has issued planning enforcement orders and a pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Caernarfon in early September. I’m told the gang turned up in court claiming they had no legal representation. So the case was rescheduled for Llandudno in late November. It’s now been put off until March, when Andrew Battye, Jonathan James Duggan, Shane Baker and Aaron Hill will probably demand another adjournment.

And by which time they will have done all the work they plan on doing.

Old and new. Click to enlarge

For the gang has plans that exceed even throwing up the ugliest house in Gwynedd, because there’s talk of glamping, zip wires, and God knows what else. For which of course there is no planning permission. Another difficulty is access, which has resulted in the Bryn Llys gang intimidating neighbours who object to them cutting down trees and demolishing hedges that belong to other people.

In recent weeks, a concrete bridge has been put in place, lorry loads of slate waste have been brought to the site and a road laid to provide a new access to Bryn Llys from the village of Nebo.

I hear from one source that while delivering this material a tipper truck belonging to Gwynedd Skip Hire of Caernarfon touched an overhead power cable. There was one hell of a bang, one or more of the truck’s tyres blew and Nebo, Talysarn and parts of Penygroes suffered a power cut.

Another source reports that the driver’s mate touched the body of the tipper and got “zapped” quite badly, he was said to be “black all over”. This of course was reported and has been taken up by HSE. I’m not sure if the police are involved.

Latest report says all is quiet, and suggests that local contractors may be getting reluctant to be involved with the Bryn Llys gang.

What an absolute shambles! Which doesn’t look like getting better any time soon.

Why is it that honest people are pounced on by planners for making a genuine mistake but crooks like these can brazenly flout the system for years?

What’s more, it’s nothing more than money-laundering in plain sight. What a system! What a country!

ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS

First stop, Parc Teifi on the outskirts of Aberteifi (Cardigan town), when we find a group of planet-savers who were given five acres of land for just £1 by our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’ under its Community Assets Transfer scheme.

The project was to be known as the Naturewise Community Forest Garden, and a company was set up.

When first announced earlier this year there was mention of ” . . . a horticultural large allotment type use, managed by a single body, run by volunteers for the wider benefits of the community”. Project leader Alpay Torgut also enthused about local involvement and “public events to involve as many people as possible”.

The ‘involvement’ desired soon became clear – unpaid volunteers and paying customers to fund what was increasingly obviously a One Planet Development.

The next step has to be getting people to pay to work there. Click to enlarge.

Why do I suggest that it’s a One Planet Development? Well look for yourself at the structures being erected on the site.

The one I show below is being used to house some kind of display, which could obviously be much more at home in a smaller structure. Though the structure we see would be an ideal roundhouse of the type favoured by OPD dwellers.

Note that the photograph – for which I thank Wynne Jones – was taken in July. Things have moved on since then.

Click to enlarge

And now there’s a truly curious twist.

The land was given to the group led by Alpay Torgut under the Community Assets Transfer programme. The project is called the Naturewise Community Forest Garden. And yet the community cannot access the site because of a padlocked gate. (Again, I am indebted to Wynne Jones.)

The ‘Welsh Government’ has the key – but refuses to open the gate!

Click to enlarge

Having consulted my crystal ball I predict that Torgut and his gang will soon be applying – and getting – retrospective planning permission for a OPD.

Next up is the OPD planned for Penybanc, Llandeilo, reference E/39554. On the surface this looks like a straightforward single OPD application, but things might not be that simple.

The OPD is planned for land to the south east of Caergroes farm in the Monordeilo and Salem ward of Carmarthenshire. The first point of interest is that the applicants, Matthew and Claire Denney-Price, don’t actually own the land. The land is owned by a Gwyn Jones of Trimsaran, who bought it last year.

To help you get the lie of the land I’ve compiled the illustration you see below.

The OPD is planned for the field on the right within the red boundary. Click to enlarge

There have been many submissions made to the council for and against the application. Of those in favour most live ‘away’ or just don’t give their locations, while local submissions are almost all opposed to the project. Some of the later go into considerable detail, often arguing that there is no way that the family unit of two adults and four children could sustain themselves on such a small area by sticking to the plan submitted.

Others worry that this application is the first for a settlement on adjoining land.

Someone who contacted me pointed out that the address given by Matthew and Claire Denney-Price on the planning application is 7 Yr Hen Marchnad, Llangadog. (Though I’m told that Claire Denney-Price is the only person on the electoral roll for this address.)

What struck my source was that at 9 Yr Hen Machnad was found Freedom Green Energy Ltd, certainly until the company moved its address to Brecon in March 2018. This company trades as FGE Biomass. My source suspects there may be a connection between this biomass company and the OPD application. Anybody out there know?

Finally, in this little excursion into the world of OPDs, news reaches me that all may not be well at one of the older communes. For I hear that smallholdings at Lammas are on the market. Certainly Berllan Dawel is for sale at £300,000+.

As I’ve reported before, all is not well in paradise. For two main reasons.

One is that the whole premise of OPDs is flawed, and economically unviable. The second reason is that when you put together, in close proximity, so many people absolutely sure that they – and they alone – know the correct way of doing things, then friction is inevitable.

UPDATE 11.12.2019: I’ve been informed of yet another OPD application. This one at Llyn Adain Gwydd, at Llangarthginning, near Meidrim, in north Carmarthenshire. The reference number is W/39846. (Type the number in here.)

The second line in that great song, You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive runs, ‘That’s the place where I trace my bloodline’, and that applies here; for my great-grandfather David Jones left Meidrim for Swansea in the late 1870s.

What’s strange about this application is that it comes from a Neil Moyse, who already lives in a OPD at Tir y Gafel, Glandwr, in Pembrokeshire. So are they now building OPDs to rent?

FOREIGN AID

Let me now lead you into the never-never land of Wales’ foreign aid programme. Or maybe it’s a maze. Though let me start by explaining that this section was prompted by someone sending me a tweet, one that started bells ringing. Here’s the tweet.

Click to enlarge

The bells rang because SSAP is the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel and it’s had a couple of mentions on this blog, first in Wales: Corruption and Poverty and then in Bawso and friends.

The SSAP is both a charity (1159990) and a registered company. The Charity Commission tells us that it operates ‘Throughout England and Wales’ and then lists a number of African countries from Algeria to South Africa. (I haven’t checked the atlas, but it looks most African countries get a mention.)

And there was you thinking our tribunes down Cardiff docks had no international strategy. Shame on you! The ‘Welsh Government’ even has a Minister for Ugandan Affairs, and she’s doing a wonderful job.

Apart from organising self-congratulatory bun fights, such as the one in the tweet above, it’s difficult to know what the SSAP does. But before you get too worried let me put your minds at rest by telling you that funding in year ending 31 March 2019 was a mere £68,638, down from £97,899 the previous year.

Which could prove a bit tricky, because staff costs went up from £52,668 to £73,952 in the same period, when staff numbers increased from 2 to 3. Leaving nothing over to do anything really . . . except organise awards ceremonies and the like. So, basically, this is just another third sector scam providing sinecures for Labour Party hangers-on.

The accounts also tell us that while the main funder is Comic Relief the other major funder is the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA). So who are they? The introductory blurb tells us, ‘We want a worldwide Wales where everyone here contributes to creating a fairer and more peaceful world. We inspire people to learn and act on global issues through three programmes:’ which are then listed as, Global Learning, Global Action, Global partnerships.

All very worthy, no doubt, and vague to the point of vacuousness.

The CEO of the WCIA is Susie Ventris-Field, who’s worked her way up through the third sector – e.g. Chwarae Teg – and also spent time in Africa.

Susie is assisted by Emily who organises festivals such as the Green Man and Glasto. ‘Emily has a beautiful dog’, we’re told! Then there’s Philip, who ‘moved to Wales to join his wife in semi-retirement in 2014’. And Shaela, ‘who previously worked for the University of Leicester’. Amber is another who has come to live among us, and loves cats.

There may be one or two Welsh people hidden away in the cupboards but by and large the ‘Welsh’ Centre for International Affairs is yet another third sector body using Welsh public money to provide jobs for strangers doing ‘work’ of no benefit whatsoever to Wales. But then, isn’t that true philanthropy!

Talking of money, who funds the WCIA?

To answer that let’s start by looking at this clip (below) from the WCIA’s Charity Commission entry, which tells us that since it was registered in April 2014 income has gone up to £1,175,306.

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Which is not bad, when you think about it. In a time of economic recession, and with Wales having managed just fine up until then without it, someone decided that what we really needed was the Welsh Council for International Affairs.

So where does that money come from and how is it spent? Here’s the WCIA 2017-2018 Annual Report, which includes the accounts.

Click to enlarge

Taking the second set of figures first we see that just under two-thirds of the income goes on salaries for no less than 23 staff. That will be Susie . . . Emily who has the nice dog . . . Philip who moved to Wales because we needed him so badly . . .

And after paying all their salaries there was still £197,145 ‘cash at bank and in hand’. That’s a lot of readies, suggesting they’re over-funded and looking for ways to spend money they don’t need.

Looking at the income in 2018, £238,156 came from Wales for Peace, but the biggest chunk, £639,893 came from Hub Cymru Africa. So who are they, and where does their money come from? (As if you didn’t know!)

Wales for Peace it seems only existed during the World War One centenary period (which probably explains the WCIA itself being set up in April 2014), and ceased to exist in December 2018. It wasn’t registered with either Companies House or the Charity Commission. From what I can gather on the WCIA website funding  for Wales for Peace came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Now let’s turn to the WCIA’s major funder, Hub Cymru Africa, which contributed £639,893 according to the latest accounts. Page 40 of the accounts tells us that this largesse came from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. In other words, us.

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Just as we met Susie and her gang at the WCIA, at Hub Cymru Africa we find another galaxy of non-Welsh stars spending Welsh money on non-Welsh issues.

Yet because Hub Cymru Africa produces no accounts and has no official existence we have no way of knowing how much Claire O’Shea and the rest of the team earn, or how many employees there are. Which is wrong, because they use public money and so this information should be readily available.

To recap: We started out with the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel. Funding levels there are not high, and all funding seems to be used paying staff wages.

One of the SSAP’s main funders is the Welsh Centre for International Affairs whose funding comes from Wales for Peace and Hub Cymru Africa. Roughly two-thirds of this funding goes on salaries. The larger funder, HCA, gets its money from the ‘Welsh Government’.

This system is of little use to the needs of Wales and Welsh people. It’s no more than virtue signalling on steroids. Steroids paid for with Welsh public funding. Instead of exposing and condemning this system Plaid Cymru desperately wants to be part of it, as we see with Helen Mary Jones at the SSAP bun fight.

The sting in the tail is that these people attracted to Wales by third sector money are often smarter than our politicians. (Which is not saying much, obviously.) And they exert undue influence in a country they regard as nothing more than a geographical expression.

This results in OPDs and other insanity to ‘save the planet’, or wanting to flood Wales with ‘refugees’ under the ‘Wales – Nation of Sanctuary’ project.

A country with homeless on the streets, where kids go to school hungry, where people die waiting for ambulances, apparently has millions of pounds to spare so that dilettante English activists and useless Welsh politicians can feel better about themselves.

Time to get rid of them all, and the colonial system they represent.

THE CASE OF KEVIN O’NEILL’S PEANUT BUTTER

Someone has reported to me that the Labour Party in Merthyr is full of bullies, and engaging in dirty tricks. Of course, I refused to believe it, but my source was insistent.

I think the best way to tell you this is to copy and paste what I received, with a redaction here and a clarification there. So prepare yourselves, for I’m sure you will be as shocked as I was to read what follows.

“Since the May 2017 Local Elections where Independents took control of the (formerly) Labour-ruled Council, the Independent Councillors of Merthyr Tydfil have faced a barrage of Ombudsman complaints, uncooperative opposition members, false Facebook and Twitter accounts that have used intimidation, abuse and vulgar comments about the Independent Councillors but especially its Leader Kevin O’Neil and female Deputy Leader Lisa Mytton.

Unconfirmed reports from the Labour camp have talked of a split in the party with those who want nothing more than to ‘Disrupt and Destroy’ anything the Independent-led council tries to do for the good of Merthyr Tydfil.

In recent months the false accounts continued but the depths to which they and some of their party members will go unfolded in June 2019 when a whistle blowing member of Council staff couldn’t cope any more and they reported the verbal abuse and disregard for the two senior Cllrs that then culminated in the staff member entering the Cabinet office and kitchen opening the Independent Leaders food (a jar of Peanut Butter) and forcefully spitting in it while others looked on and returned it to the fridge.

A criminal investigation ensued and DNA was found in the jar, the DNA belongs to the wife of (a very prominent Labour councillor). His wife is an employed member of staff at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.

Is this what Labour have become? Is this how they treat those they feel politically threatened by? Is this what our residents and country want?

The Labour Leader must resign surely? The way Kevin O’Neill and other
hae been treated is simply despicable.”

Click to enlarge

To anti-Semitism, support for terrorists, bullying, ballot-rigging, lying and all the other crimes we can lay at Labour’s door we must now add gobbing in the council leader’s peanut butter!

O tempora! o mores!

ANNA THE FIBBER

To the city of my dreams now, and Anna Melita Redfern, who offered her company, Cinema & Co as an address for the local homeless to use so that they could register to vote in this week’s general election.

(There are of course other options for the homeless to register to vote, but these don’t get publicity for Anna Redfern.)

According to Anna she’s been running Cinema & Co in Castle Street for two years, yet Companies House tells us that Cinema & Co Swansea Ltd was only Incorporated 29 April 2019.

Image courtesy of WalesOnline. Click to enlarge

How do we explain this apparent contradiction?

By telling you that Anna had a different company at the same address. This was AR666 Ltd (previously Anna Redfern Ltd), and it traded as Cinema & Co. The company was wound up in July 2019. I’m told AR666 Ltd went under owing £32,496 to HMRC, plus phone bill, water rates, and various amounts to Swansea City Council.

Here’s an entry from The Gazette which suggests Anna may be a naughty girl for using the same name for her new company.

But I suspect Anna has a weak grip on reality, combined with an irresistible urge for self-promotion. A dangerous combination.

Other companies of which Ms Redfern is the sole director are The (Secret) Garden Swansea Ltd and Noah’s Sister Ltd. The name of the second of those hints at her being the sister of Noah Redfern, proprietor of Noah’s Yard a hip watering hole in the student quarter of the Uplands.

Noah Redfern previously owned the Monkey Bar down town and has since bought the Observatory on the seafront, though the bar he planned never materialised after a run-in with the council.

I suppose it should go without saying that Anna Melita Redfern was a finalist in the Welsh Women’s Awards 2019. Cinema & Co – which had just been liquidated – was shortlisted in the Small Business of the Year category. 

Only in colonial Wales!

UPDATE 14.12.2019: Noah Redfern makes the news himself when a planning inspector orders him to take down the ‘overbearing’ extension he’d built to an Uplands house.

I shall of course be publishing an analysis of the general election, and this will probably appear on Monday the 16th. Then, unless something really important happens, that should be it until 2020.

♦ end ♦

P.S. There was an earlier and slightly different version to this post that went out because I’d scheduled it and then lost my internet connection, which meant I could neither amend nor stop it. Take my advice and avoid Sky Broadband.

 

Devolution, the placebo that no longer works

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

I suppose most people reading this know what a placebo is, but for those who aren’t certain . . . a placebo is something given instead of a medicine or treatment and is intended to fool the person receiving it into believing they are taking a medicine or receiving treatment.

In other words, the patient or guinea pig is given something that won’t really do them any good. Understandably, once they realise they’re being given a placebo then its usefulness is gone.

IN THE BEGINNING

Let’s start by reminding ourselves that devolution wasn’t a gift from Heaven, it was not promised in the Labour manifesto of 1997 because those offering it thought it would be good for Scotland and Wales. No, it was offered because it served England’s (perceived) interests.

Also, let’s not forget the Irish dimension; for to support a fragile peace process there was also an imperative to set up a Northern Ireland Assembly. In fact, this desire formed part of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act (1998). For good measure London was also included in the package to make it look like a sincere attempt to devolve power from Westminster.

In reality, Tony Blair’s Labour government gave devolution to London confident that the Assembly would always have a Labour majority, to the Six Counties because of US pressure, and to Scotland and Wales as a placebo to ‘national aspirations’ which was safeguarded, so it was believed, by an electoral system (certainly in Scotland) that made it difficult for any one party to achieve an absolute majority.

LABOUR AND DEVOLUTION

But as we’ve seen, the ‘no majority’ system has failed, and the Scottish National Party has used its majority in the Scottish Parliament to improve standards and conditions in all manner of ways. But what of Wales?

Things are different in Wales for one very obvious reason. While Scotland has a political party and a government determined to improve the country, we have languished for twenty years under successive Labour and Labour-led administrations that have simply masked the old system of neglecting Wales unless she can be exploited.

A very recent and still emerging example would be the National Development Framework (NDF) produced a few months ago by the ‘Welsh Government’. I mention the NDF because it’s a “20-year spatial plan” for the whole country, all other plans are subsidiary to it.

I wrote about the National Development Framework in August, in a post of the same name. In the NDF we read that much of rural Wales outside of the national parks is to be ‘rewilded’, given over to a new ‘national forest’, or else covered in wind turbines and solar complexes.

From the National Development Framework. Click to enlarge

This of course allows the ‘Welsh Government’ to virtue signal madly that ‘Wales’ is making its contribution to saving the planet. In reality, Wales is being lined up for a coat of Greenwash that will be welcomed by the City and others as a money-making wheeze, while Wales provides even more of England’s electricity.

Of course, we’ve suffered wind turbines for a couple of decades, but what’s interesting in the NDF is that it explores new ways to exploit our uplands. The two articles below, one from the Times and the other from Llais y Sais, will help explain what I mean.

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The piece from the Times stresses the carbon-absorbing value of mountains and moorlands while the Western Mail article talks of planting trees on grazing land. Wales of course has plenty of mountains, moorland and grazing land, and if these are to be monetised then we can guarantee that ‘investors’ and others will profit from Welsh land.

All this will be facilitated by the ‘Welsh Government’. Playing the role it adopted with unseemly alacrity when presented with the Summit to Sea scam. For ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers more than perhaps any other sector of the population.

When it hasn’t been punishing rustics for not voting Labour the party has been building up an army of cronies to run the ‘poverty industry’. The third sector capitalises on Welsh deprivation with no intention of bringing relief or remedy because to do so would mean an end to the public funding sustaining thousands of well-paid – but usually unnecessary – jobs.

So we see that ‘Welsh’ Labour is quite happy to serve as London’s management team in Cardiff, and equally content to see Wales decline. Then, even at Assembly elections, Labour can heard bewailing Wales’ deprivation and insisting that voters ‘Send a message to London’.

Though what sending a message to London about the mess Labour has made of Wales is supposed to achieve I’m not sure. Unless it’s a pat on the head for the local Labour bigwigs and the promise of seats in the House of Lords.

PLAID CYMRU AND DEVOLUTION

Anyone looking at Plaid Cymru and thinking they see a party working for Welsh independence really should pop along to the Cloud Cuckoo Land branch of Specsavers.

In truth, the thought of independence terrifies Plaid’s leadership, and others in the upper stratum of the party. For with independence comes responsibility, standing on your own two feet, and delivering measures to improve the lives of the Welsh people – for there’ll be no one else to blame.

What Plaid Cymru wants is the kind of DevoMax system I outlined in Plaid Cymru, where to now? (scroll down when you get there). In a nutshell, institutions in which a native elite of politicians, professionals and administrators can prosper. We are almost there; with a few more powers devolved to the Assembly, such as justice and policing, these desires might be satisfied.

At the moment, Plaid still gets the votes of most of those wanting independence, also those concerned with the Welsh language, nationhood and associated factors. But this constituency is losing faith or simply giving up due to the direction Plaid Cymru is taking.

The hard truth for Plaid Cymru is that no amount of fascist-hunters, or trans lobbyists, or EU zealots, or planet-savers, or any other variety of political exotica will be enough to replace the socially conservative Welsh voters being lost, often alienated by the increasing grip on the party exerted by the aforementioned.

These newer elements promote causes common to a number of political parties and pressure groups, which often means that with Plaid Cymru they’re just hedging their bets. Their interest in Plaid Cymru, and indeed Wales, is often due solely to the attractiveness of a small country with a system of devolution and a malleable political leadership.

For the upcoming general election Plaid Cymru has entered into a disastrous ‘Remainer’ pact with a Liberal Democrat Party led by a woman who loses votes every time she’s exposed to public scrutiny and a Green Party that refuses to even recognise the existence of Wales.

Image courtesy of Sunday Times. Click to enlarge

With Labour and the devolution system it brought into existence discredited there is a golden opportunity to take Wales forward to independence.

But it can’t happen because all we have is Plaid Cymru, another leftist party that would rather be the junior partner in a colonial management structure than the party – like the SNP – guiding a nation towards independence.

Or perhaps I’m being unfair on Plaid Cymru, maybe its ambition extends to being the senior partner in a colonial administration. Now there’s ambition for you!

We have reached the stage where Plaid Cymru has nothing to say on Wales and independence; and few people listen to what it has to say on other issues. The party is surviving as a political force on goodwill accumulated in a previous incarnation.

THE PLACEBO NO LONGER WORKS

As the old saying has it: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

That’s the stage we’re at with devolution and the leftist hegemony in Cardiff Bay. After twenty years of declining standards I believe that a majority of people now realise that devolution isn’t working and that the blame lies in Cardiff not London.

Realising that devolution has failed explains both the increased support for abolishing the Assembly altogether and also why more of us are prepared to consider independence. With correspondingly fewer in the middle willing to defend devolution. For the ‘recognition of nationhood’ and ‘better than nothing’ arguments no longer persuade.

If returned on December 12 it’s possible that the Tories will do away with devolution in the next couple of years, not because they’re ideologically opposed to devolution – they’re not – but because they can also see that the placebo effect is wearing off.

I would probably support the abolition of the Assembly, reasoning that it might be necessary to take a step back before we can move forward. When stuck in a rut it’s often necessary to go back in order to move forward with greater momentum than took you into the rut. And let’s be honest, we walked into devolution with our eyes shut.

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And for those now calling me all sorts of names I put out a simple challenge – defend devolution. (And for God’s sake, don’t insult my intelligence by arguing that things would be better with Plaid Cymru in charge.)

I have argued for a few years that Welsh independence is most likely to come about from an interplay between internal dynamics with external factors, with the latter influencing the former. And that is what we now see happening: Devolution is discredited, as are the parties most closely associated with it; while beyond our borders clouds gather, but these are clouds with silver linings, if we only we realise it.

We now need a Conservative government in London to inflict all the damage its opponents predict it will. Then we must help the Scots in their second independence referendum. Finally, we must make a push for our own independence with a broad-based movement focused solely on Wales and Welsh issues.

Which is why I shall be supporting Welsh independence on December 12 by voting for the Conservative and Unionist Party.

♦ end ♦

 

Housing associations: subsidiaries, partners, etc

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

Social housing is an issue I’ve written about many times over the years, and I make no apologies for returning to the subject again. For the old problems remain and new ones are emerging.

The old problems are:

  • An ‘arms race’ among housing associations to build more and more properties (often where there is little local need) to deter predators from swallowing them up.
  • Certain housing associations being very close to the Labour management team in Cardiff docks with this closeness giving them an unfair advantage over competitors.
  •  I say ‘competitors’ because, unlike the old system of the local council being the major or sole provider of social rented housing in a locality, we now have any number of housing associations operating in the same area.
  • Social tenancy allocations in Wales being made on an Englandandwales basis.

WARNING: This report gets complicated given all the players and different commercial entities. So sit up straight and pay attention!

‘BUILD THEM AND THEY WILL COME’

Cartrefi Conwy Cyf came into existence in 2008 with the transfer of Conwy council’s housing stock. In 2015 it branched out with the creation of a subsidiary, Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company).

Creating Enterprise CIC is now seeking ‘new income streams’ on the north coast, an area where north west England likes to dump its social problems.

What could possibly go wrong?

From the Creating Enterprise CIC Accounts. Click to enlarge

And Creating Enterprise CIC would appear to have found new sources of income, for the latest accounts tell us that turnover increased by over 700% between 2017 and 2019. That is impressive.

click to enlarge

As stated, Creating Enterprise is a subsidiary of Cartrefi Conwy (and many or even most of its ’employees’ may be Cartrefi Conwy tenants) that maintains and upgrades Cartrefi Conwy properties. Nothing unusual in that, many housing associations have in-house maintenance teams.

But there’s not much profit in such an arrangement, it’s just a housing association giving work to a wholly-owned subsidiary. The only way to make money is for the subsidiary to branch out. Which is what has happened with Creating Enterprise CIC.

But now it gets a bit complicated.

For while Companies House confirms that Creating Enterprise CIC exists, and with a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy that confirms CE’s subsidiary status, there is another Companies House entry for Creating Enterprise CIC, linking it with Calon Homes LLP. Explained in the panel below taken from Creating Enterprise CIC’s accounts.

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As you’re read, the other partner in Calon Homes LLP is Brenig Developments Limited. There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.

Curiously, there is another, and different, Companies House entry for Brenig Developments Ltd suggesting that it’s a dormant company. To confuse matters further there is also a Brenig Construction Limited and a Brenig Homes Ltd. (None of which should be confused with Brenig Fish & Chips of Tregaron. Pass the vinegar!)

First question: Why did Cartrefi Conwy Cyf, via Creating Enterprise CIC, go into partnership with a dormant company?

Second question: There is an outstanding charge against Brenig Homes Ltd with Kennah Motor Credit Ltd, of Cheshire, a dissolved company. But why would a building firm seek credit from an auto finance company?

Third question: This report from Wales247 in September tells us that Calon Homes is building 11 houses in Middlewich, Cheshire. Why is a company half-owned by a publicly-funded Welsh housing association building private dwellings in England?

Fourth question: The architects involved with Calon Homes’ 111 Conwy properties mentioned in the Wales247 report are Base Architecture and Design, which is expanding. Does this (from the report I’ve linked to) give the game away, “Conwy is a thriving area with a lot of development and investment going on, particularly along the A55 corridor through to Anglesey,”

Fifth question: Why do we also read of Base Architecture and Design, “Its clients in the region include Brenig Construction, one of North Wales’ leading civil engineering and construction companies”? At 31.10.2018 Brenig Construction Ltd had a net book value of just £84,637.

Sixth question: This report, from last Thursday, tells us that Creating Enterprise is “in partnership with Norfolk-based Beattie Passive”. The only Beattie Passive company in Norfolk is Beattie Passive Norse Ltd. This company has ‘accumulated losses’ of £4,589,441. That’s £4.5m.

What we have here is a publicly-funded housing association – whose assets consist primarily of a stock transfer of council housing – playing at being a private company through subsidiaries and partnerships. Cartrefi Conwy justifies building properties for commuters, retirees and others from over the border by arguing that its share of the profits from this work will be used to build social housing.

But is that a sensible model? Let’s say Cartrefi Conwy lends Creating Enterprise CIC one million pounds that in turn is lent to Calon Homes to build in partnership with a private company. And let’s say that the profit on that project is £500,000. After being split with the private developer, and after admin, staff, and other costs are taken out by Creating Enterprise and Calon Homes, Cartrefi Conwy might be lucky to get back £50,000 for social housing. So why not just spend the original £1m on social housing?

The true purpose is building open market housing along the A55 commuter/retirement belt. And when we realise that most of Cartrefi Conwy’s other efforts go into providing care homes, retirement bungalows and flats, it becomes clear that it’s just an agency for the further colonisation of Wales.

OLD AND NEW

In the introduction I listed the established problems with ‘social housing’ in Wales. Having got this far you’ll know that the new problems stem from diversification.

But the problem is not confined to Cartrefi Conwy. Let’s go to the other end of the country and look at Mill Bay Homes in Pembrokeshire, a private company and a subsidiary of Ateb (formerly Pembrokeshire Housing). Despite being a private company Mill Bay has a “revolving credit facility with the parent”, Ateb.

Which in practice means that money held by Ateb that should be used to provide social housing is loaned to Mill Bay to build homes for ‘investors‘, ‘retirees‘ and others, including holiday home buyers. (Check those links.)

Clearly, the system in Pembrokeshire differs from that up north in that instead of entering into a partnership via a subsidiary with a private company, with the subsidiary getting 50% of the profits, Ateb loans money directly to in-house subsidiary MBH, which does the building.

From the Mill Bay Homes accounts 2019. All that money could have been spent on social housing rather than on building holiday homes and properties for investors and retirees. Click to enlarge

But much of Mill Bay Homes’ profits will be eaten up by its own running costs, for it is after all a separate company with its own staff and overheads. Unless MBH is selling its properties at greatly inflated prices it’s difficult to see how it can ever repay Ateb.

An example of how Mill Bay Homes operates is its St Davids’ development. Due to the demand from England for property in and around St Davids most locals experience great difficulty in finding a place to buy at a price they can afford.

Yes, a small number of properties on the new development are reserved for locals (with a very narrow definition of ‘local’) and a small window in which to apply. Otherwise, it’s “32 executive dwellings . . . 2, 3 and 4 bedroom bungalows.”

Executive homes and retirement bungalows. Just what local first-time buyers are looking for!

Mill Bay claims to be meeting the local need in St Davids but in reality it’s just capitalising on the external demand.

But nobody cares, for there is neither regulation nor oversight of housing associations.

An example would be the ‘Welsh Government’s ‘Shared Ownership Wales’ scheme – a disguised form of leasehold – that should only be offered by Registered Social Landlords (registered with WG); yet it’s available in St Davids and elsewhere through Mill Bay Homes, a private company that is not a RSL.

And all the while we hear politicians complain about the lack of social housing, and how we must build more – so more money is given to housing associations . . . and spent on ‘diversification’.

Let’s face it, we are in the same position with ‘social housing’ as we are with the third sector – keep a problem alive and publicised in order to keep the funding flowing. If housing associations wanted to meet the demand for social housing – i.e. for good quality rented accommodation – then they would not be launching subsidiaries.

The bottom line is that social housing in Wales has been privatised, and to pretend otherwise is deceitful. I tried to explain it last year in The Privatisation of Welsh Housing Associations.

Click to enlarge

Finally, those who think that it’s better to see private housing built by Welsh housing associations than by major English companies should think again. For they don’t challenge Persimmon, Wimpey, and the rest, they complement them by building the smaller developments that the volume builders can’t be bothered with.

The social housing system in Wales is broken, it no longer serves its original purpose. So we need a new system to provide affordable rented accommodation.

♦ end ♦

 

GE2019: runners, riders and early fallers

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

There’s to be a general election on December 12 (haven’t you heard!) and already the parties are stumbling, mainly over their selection processes, or lack of them.

Looking beyond candidate selection, I can honestly say that none of the four established parties in Wales has emerged with any credit.

THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY

Things got off to a bad start when news leaked that the Assembly candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan, Ross England, had sabotaged a rape trial involving a friend by regaling the court with details of his own relationship with the complainant.

This prompted the judge to say: “You have managed single-handed, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial . . . get out of my court.”

Now even though England was the candidate for the Welsh Assembly his behaviour impacted on GE 2019 because the Conservative Party had endorsed him as a candidate knowing what he had done.

Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

When the facts became known, the furore resulted in England being suspended by the party, and his sponsor, Alun Cairns, standing down as Secretary of State for Wales. Though Cairns dug in his substantial heels to remain the candidate for the Vale.

Things didn’t get any better for the Tories.

I don’t always trust what I read on Nation.Cymru but I’ll accept that a third of the Tory candidates in Wales are domiciled in England. It could even be more, with one or two hiding behind accommodation addresses. But there’s nothing surprising about this.

For this is the old imperial way. Send some promising young chap off to a far-flung corner of the empire, and if he survives the mosquitoes and doesn’t start a bush war then mark him down for advancement. BoJo himself has been through the system, standing for Clwyd South in 1997.

I can imagine the scene in Tory Central Office. ‘Now then, Fothergill, I hear you want to be an MP, eh. Well we’re sending you to this place in Wales . . . nice scenery, I’m told. If the natives don’t eat you and you make it back then, who knows, we could find you a nice little seat in the shires or some agreeable suburb’.

Which is why we have a number of ‘Fothergills’ every election.

Sometimes of course, the party just gets overtaken by events and has little alternative but to parachute in a candidate who’ll need a trusty native guide. This is what has happened in Ynys Môn.

For reasons that may never become clear the Tories on the island initially selected Chris Davies as their candidate. Superficially, it makes sense, because the man was MP for Brecon and Radnor . . . until his conviction for fraudulent expenses claims. There was a successful petition to recall him and he lost the subsequent by-election.

When Davies was forced out from Ynys Môn Central Office had to come up with a replacement pretty damn quick. And so they produced Virginia Crosbie, who knows Wales like the back of her hand, having previously been parachuted into the Rhondda in 2017.

Click to enlarge

You’ll see that according to this bio (from which the panel above was extracted), she did very well in the Rhondda, increasing the party’s vote by 58%. Though I can’t help thinking that the way that’s phrased is designed to mislead, because most people like to know a party’s percentage share of the total vote, which is something entirely different.

Click to enlarge

What Virginia Crosbie did in the Rhondda in 2017 was to increase the Conservative vote from 2,116 in 2015 (6.7% of the total vote) to 3,333 (10.1%). With most of the increase coming from post-referendum, ‘job done’ Ukip; whose vote dived from 3,998 (12.7%) in 2015 to 880 (2.7%) in 2017. And there was also a higher turnout in 2017.

Which tends to put things into a rather different perspective. But never mind, for Virginia Crosbie might still be worth a punt in Ynys Môn where the Tories came second in 2017, and with Labour MP Albert Owen standing down it’s a wide open race.

Then, just when the Conservative and Unionist Party must have thought the worst was over, their deputy chairman, Lee Canning, defected to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. Here’s Canning’s resignation letter – the boy been bullied!

Let’s finish this section with Francesca O’Brien who’s standing in the target constituency of Gower, briefly held for the Tories by Byron Davies until he was defeated – in a dirty campaign – by shrinking violet Tonia Antoniazzi of Labour. Francesca believes that poor people should be ‘put down’.

Small wonder that senior Tory AM Nick Ramsay felt there were ‘lessons to be learnt’. Amen to that, brother.

LABOUR PARTY

The Labour Party’s customary talent for shooting itself in the foot remains undiminished, and as much as I enjoy putting the old size 9s into ‘Welsh’ Labour the cock-up I’m about to relate may be attributable to HQ. (If indeed cock-up it be.)

On Sunday news broke that the party’s candidate in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Maria Carroll, had run a Facebook page advising Labour Party members who had been suspended or otherwise disciplined over anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and other issues currently bedevilling the bruvvers.

There seemed to be genuine concern over this. Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, hoped that ‘Welsh’ Labour would deal with Ms Carroll. Some hope! It was referred to London, who responded with ‘Nothing to see here, move along’.

Click to enlarge

Which got me wondering about Maria Carroll. So I tried to find out more, but apart from non-specific references to the NHS, trade unions, charities (i.e. third sector), there was very little. I dug up this Linkedin profile, which might be her. If so, then it appears she still works for the NHS in England.

Click to enlarge

Though I seem to recall reading somewhere that she had bought a little shop in the constituency, possibly in Cilycwm. Which might suggest that she has either retired to or is planning to retire to this village north of Llandovery, an area suffering a high level of English colonisation.

Making the ‘local’ Labour Party about as local to the area as I am to Chelsea. For Labour in rural Wales is increasingly reliant on the local college or university, an influx of 1960s generation retirees (still playing at being radical), transferred trade unionists, meme sahibs who’ve gone ‘rogue’, assorted freaks and exhibitionists, etc.

Exemplified by the protest in Haverfordwest last week, organised by Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly (PPA) and Momentum West Wales, against local MP Stephen Crabb. The convener for the PPA quoted in this report is Jim Scott. In a different guise Scott is a leading light in the Green Party of Englandandwales.

Also at the rally was the Labour candidate, Phillipa Thompson. This co-operation between Greens and Labour explains why the planet-savers have stuffed Plaid Cymru by pulling their candidates in Sir Benfro and telling their supporters to vote Labour.

Anti-Tory rally in Haverfordwest. There may be no one in this photograph who was born in Pembrokeshire, for in addition to the ‘local’ Greens and other weirdos leftie activists were shipped down – it’s said – from Swansea. Note the old, ‘Space yourselves out so it’ll look as if there’s more of us’ tactic. Click to enlarge

But I’ve digressed, back to Maria Carroll.

It seems pretty obvious that she has been imposed on ‘Welsh’ Labour by their London masters. It’s equally reasonable to assume that she is favoured by Momentum. And she wants us to believe that while she herself is not anti-Semitic, she’s prepared to help those who are.

Other than that, Maria Carroll’s defence seems to be that it was all a long time ago . . . but perhaps it wasn’t, for she seems to have still been involved last month.

This case exposes yet again how impotent ‘Welsh’ Labour is, even in Wales. Labour Party HQ in London wanted Maria Carroll to stand in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, and that’s what happened.

Who is she? Where’s she from? What’s her background? Does she know anything about the constituency? Who cares? Certainly not those who’ll be out canvassing for Maria Carroll; for like her, most of them will be new to Wales.

STOP PRESS: Fingers are now also being pointed at Cardiff councillor Darren Williams, said to be the operator of the Welsh Labour Grassroots (Momentum) Twitter account, which rushed to Maria Carroll’s defence.

Questions are being asked by Euan Phillips, spokesperson for Labour Against anti-Semitism and AM Alun Davies.

While much of this can be put down to Labour in-fighting it nevertheless reaffirms that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism, one that won’t go away any time soon.

UPDATE: I now learn that Maria Rose Carroll stood for the county council in the Cilycwm ward in 2017, losing to an Independent. She is said to be into ‘herbal remedies’ and is given to impromptu dancing. I leave readers to draw their own conclusions as to whether there may be a connection.

When not paying homage to Terpsichore I’m told she deals out ‘personal advice and counselling’. Which I suppose we already knew.

THE REMAIN ALLIANCE

This is the pact between the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to fight Brexit and persuade people to vote for the candidate who opposes Brexit. Which is both absurd and insulting on a number of levels:

  • Without the Labour Party what is essentially an anti-Tory pact is pointless.
  • It’s anti-democratic in that the Lib Dems have said they want a second referendum on EU membership . . . and if the electorate votes to leave, again, then they’ll just refuse to accept that decision.
  • Wales voted to leave the EU in June 2016.
  • The Greens are a deeply un-Welsh if not anti-Welsh party or grouping. Last year members in Wales had the chance to set up a Wales Green Party, but they voted to stay part of the England Green Party. And as we’ve seen in Pembrokeshire, the English Greens in our midst would rather cut off their dreadlocks than vote for Plaid Cymru.
  • What’s more, Plaid Cymru, a party of the left, has done a deal with the Liberal Democrats, the party that was in coalition with David Cameron’s Tories, 2010 – 2016, and whose leader, Jo Swinson, is now doing deals with the Tories against the SNP and refusing to allow a second independence referendum.

This is Through the Looking-Glass politics, where nothing is what it seems, but those who’ve stepped through have chosen to immerse themselves in some alternative reality.

As you know, I write about the Lib Dems as little as possible, regarding them as unprincipled political whores and the worst possible advertisement for a multi-party political system and proportional representation.

Whereas the Greens in Wales are a colonialist excrescence on the Welsh body politic, so let us be thankful that they are largely irrelevant in the wider scheme of things.

Though this irrelevance has not deterred Plaid Cymru from becoming besotted with the Greens in recent decades. The infatuation can be traced back to Dafydd Elis Thomas’s tenure as leader in the 1980s. I remember one particularly ghastly Plaid conference where hippy chieftain Brig Oubridge was feted. Éminence grise Cynog Dafis was another who fell under the Green spell.

Oubridge has since relocated from Tipi Valley, like some latter-day bluestone he has made the journey from south west Wales to Salisbury Plain. Where he stood in the 2017 general election, coming a very distant fourth, but at least he beat ‘Arthur Pendragon’. (Though isn’t that lèse majesté?)

But now to focus on Plaid Cymru, a party that has given me a lot to write about.

You know things have gone to hell when one of the party’s most capable politicians says what you read in the panel below. Wales is one the poorest countries in Europe, yet rather than try to improve the lives of those who belong here Plaid Cymru prefers to play gesture politics by pretending that Wales can accept, take care of, and integrate, an unspecified number of people from God knows where.

For Plaid Cymru, ‘refugee’ is anyone who claims to be a refugee. It’s code for open borders. Click to enlarge.

I’m not sure if Sahar Al-Faifi qualifies a a refugee, but she’s certainly caused Plaid Cymru embarrassment in recent days. To explain . . .

Last Friday, Plaid Cymru put out a tweet using Al-Faifi to promote its party political broadcast later that day in which she appeared. This attracted the usual response from the usual suspects, but also more measured criticism from other quarters, for it soon emerged that she had an anti-Semitic past.

Click to enlarge

I think it was @bubblewales that first broke the news she was a wrong ‘un with this piece. Expanded on here. It was then taken up by Guido Fawkes and others. On Monday, as her Plaid Cymru defenders began to fall silent, Sahar Al-Faifi issued an ‘apology’.

A very brief ‘apology’ followed by a wonderful example of whataboutery. Click to enlarge

You’ll note that she claims to have taken “anti-Semitism training, both formally through the (Jewish) Board of Deputies and informally with Jewish colleagues”.

But then things took another turn for the worse for her, and for Plaid Cymru, when the Board of Deputies issued a statement in which we read: “We met Sahar Al-Faifi to confront her over concerns we had over antisemitic social media postings . . . Ms Al-Faifi apologised to us and made some amendments to her social media output. However, we were clear that the situation still remained unsatisfactory”.

It seems there was no formal training in anti-Semitism. In the statement you’ll note mention of an organisation called MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), to which Ms Al-Faifi belongs, being described as a “highly problematic organisation whose activity risks increasing hostility and suspicion between the Jewish and Muslim communities”.

‘Counter-extremism’ organisation Quilliam International had more to say on MEND. The article was advertised with the hard-hitting tweet below. Had Plaid Cymru been ‘mainstreaming’ Islamist extremists?

Click to enlarge

Sahar Al-Faifi has now been suspended by Plaid Cymru, but how did they get themselves into such a mess in the first place? I think we can go back to Liz Saville Roberts’ wish to turn Wales into a nation of ‘sanctuary’.

Plaid Cymru is up on the moral high ground where the air is too thin to allow clear thinking. So when someone like Sahar Al-Faifi shows an interest in the party they see a woman in a niqab who must be a victim of something or other, and who will make Plaid look good to those they’re anxious to impress. So she’s accepted without question.

More cautious minds might think that an educated single woman living in the West choosing to dress like that might be making a political statement. A simple enquiry would then have established that she is the local representative for MEND, and someone who has expressed anti-Semitic views . . . at which point alarm bells should have rung.

And consider this. At the same time as party leader Adam Price was getting stick for quite rightly stating that Wales is a colony of England (though I disagree with him about reparations) others in Plaid Cymru were laying out the red carpet for a woman who clearly believes that there can be no white victims of colonialism.

Click to enlarge

Another mystery is why certain influential grouplets in Plaid Cymru rushed to her defence. What sort of treatment do gays, transsexuals and others think they’d receive under the rule or influence of Al-Faifi and her friends?

Plaid Cymru has now reached the stage where we Welsh, needing decent housing and jobs, being marginalised by colonisation, living in the poorest country in Europe, are a distraction from the more important things in this world – a world that Plaid Cymru must save!

Plaid Cymru has betrayed the Welsh nation in order to be regarded as ‘progressive’ by our enemies. I hope they get humiliated in GE2019. Because that’s what they deserve.

Though my fear is that Plaid’s self-destruction may be disguised by the upsurge in support for independence and the lack of an alternative for nationalists. At least Gwlad Gwlad is standing in a few seats.

CONCLUSION

A lot of what I’ve written about is faux outrage in the fevered conditions of an election campaign. Social media just adds fuel to the flames. Something silly said years ago after a glass of two should not be used to destroy a reputation today.

Yet anti-Semitism is something altogether different, not least because I see a bizarre and disturbing parallel between anti-Semitism today and what has gone before.

Hitler hated the Jews because he believed they controlled the economic life of Germany. Today’s socialists use Zionism and the West Bank as fig leaves but much of their animosity towards the Jews is attributable to the same, age-old perception of the usurer Jew’s role in the hated capitalist system.

This also helps explain why extreme variants of Islam get such an easy ride from many Western leftists.

Both the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru must learn that anti-Semitism is no more acceptable when mouthed by an educated woman of colour in a niqab or a business suit than when it’s barked by a thuggish white man in jackboots wearing a swastika armband.

♦ end ♦

 

Staying in Llangefni

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 never thought I’d be saying this, but following the previous post on the sale of the Shire Hall, we are staying in Llangefni!

The old town took a bit of a hit last month with the closure of the Marco Cable Management plant. Losing 40 jobs may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but in a small town like Llangefni it matters a lot. And just a few years earlier there had been more than 70 working there.

As recently as September 2015 the company was talking of expanding. And here’s general manager Brian Pigott talking to BBC Wales earlier that year in a similarly optimistic mood.

So what went wrong?

An old friend back in Swansea was moved to write to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ asking if Marco Cable Management had received any public funding. Or rather, how much funding, because it could almost be guaranteed that funding was provided as an inducement for the company to set up on Ynys Môn in 2003.

The reply he got from the Department for Economy and Transport (Prop. K. Skates) can be read here. You’ll see that the company received at least £1,191,771.68. In addition, there was funding from the county council and HSBC.

Though it was the parent company Marco Gearing Ltd that received the funding. Which I thought was a bit odd, so I went to the Companies House website to check on them both. I learnt that Marco Gearing Ltd was formed in April 2002, while Marco Cable Management Ltd was born July 2003.

Something else I thought was odd – though it probably explains the funding going to the parent company – was that throughout its existence Marco Cable Management Ltd, the name under which the factory operated, was a dormant company.

MARCO GEARING LTD

Let’s start at the beginning, with parent company Marco Gearing Ltd. What does the name mean? Who or what is Marco? And does ‘Gearing’ refer to a gear system on a car or machine or is it used here in the financial sense?

From the start on 9 April 2002, Lillian Turner MacGregor of Betws yn Rhos, Abergele was a director of the company, with chartered accountant Philip Matthew Deakin as secretary, but he left 24 May. (Deakin has been involved in many companies since Marco Gearing.)

Deakin was replaced by Andrew Ian MacGregor as secretary, and in November the family group was completed by Ian Charles MacGregor coming aboard as the second director. For I suspect that Ian Charles is Lillian Turner MacGregor’s husband and Andrew Ian is their son.

July 2003, coinciding with the launch of Marco Cable Management Ltd, saw both a major share issue and Terry Deakin of Colwyn Bay joining the board. After Deakin’s arrival the share distribution was 230,000 with Ian Charles MacGregor, 120,010 with Lillian Turner MacGregor and 50,000 each with Deakin and his wife Janet.

Deakin’s other active directorship was with the National Zoological Society of Wales, better known as the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay. Though he had been in business for himself with a number of companies. It could be that the Deakin we met earlier, who served briefly as secretary, is his son.

There were two further appointments to the board of Marco Gearing on 22 April 2010. These were Bernard James Pigott (the ‘Brian’ of the video?), and Paul Stewart Diggins of Buckinghamshire, who may have been the sales director.

MARCO CABLE MANAGEMENT LTD

Turning to Marco Cable Management Ltd, the sole director, from Incorporation 17 July 2003 was Lillian Turner MacGregor, with Andrew Ian MacGregor as secretary.

There were just 9 shares and these were held by Mrs MacGregor, with what appears to be a further issue of a single share a year later in 2004.

And that was it, the company filed accounts for a dormant company every year, there were returns filed showing the shareholder, and then, on 18 May 2017, we saw the MacGregors step down and two new directors arrive. These were Carl Edward Jones and Paul Graham Merrick.

So who are Messrs Jones and Merrick, who also joined Marco Cable Management Ltd on the same day?

THE YANKS ARE COMING!

On 7 July 2017 all the shares in Marco Gearing Ltd were transferred to Unistrut Ltd of West Bromwich. (Though it took until 11 April 2018 before the information was notified to Companies House.) Unistrut Ltd is a subsidiary of Atkore International, of Chicago.

The takeover of the Marco group shown in the Unistrut figures. Image courtesy of Endole. Click to enlarge.

Which means that some time between May and July 2017 the Llangefni factory of Marco Cable Management Ltd was taken over by an American company – but no one seemed to notice! Or rather, there are a number of references to the takeover in the specialist press – here, here and here – but I can find nothing reported in the ‘Welsh media’.

Didn’t our Welsh journalists know? Did the workforce in Llangefni know? Did the council and the ‘Welsh Government’ – both owed money by the Marco group – know that the decision on whether a Welsh factory closed now lay with faceless men in Chicago?

The MacGregor family sold out to an acquisitive and ruthless US corporation that they must have known would soon close down a competitor in a peripheral location. Did they feel no obligation to the workers who had given so much?

It seems that Carl Jones, who joined Atkore in 2011 has spent the years since then acquiring UK companies such as Marco Cable Management Ltd for his American bosses. The most recent would seem to be Modern Associates Ltd. Again, working with Paul Merrick.

And we have no defence whatsoever against predators like these. I’m surprised they didn’t ask the ‘Welsh Government’ for a grant to close down the factory. I’m sure they would have been given one.

THE ‘WELSH ECONOMY’.

So another factory closes, more Welsh workers lose their jobs, Cyngor Ynys Môn has lost money, so has the ‘Welsh Government, and there remain two outstanding debentures held by HSBC Bank against Marco Gearing Ltd (which might account for the ‘liabilities’ in the graphic above).

Just another paragraph in the ever-growing volume ‘How Not to Run an Economy’, by the ‘Welsh Government’.

I’m writing this on the day that Citizen Woodhouse made the news again. The man who bought Welsh hotels then sold the rooms off individually with the promise of huge returns. A child of four could have seen that he was a con artist, but the ‘Welsh Government’ promised him £500,000 for his Caer Rhun hotel near Llanrwst, and then, because they lack the critical reasoning of a four-year-old, those clowns down Corruption Bay gave him a few hundred acres of public land for his Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

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In the previous post we looked at the sale of Llangefni’s Shire Hall to The Man From God Knows Where* who, according to North Wales Live, is a wheeling-dealing miracle-worker set to bestow the riches of the Orient on poor old Llangefni.

Just over the water we have the crooks of Bryn Llys; and just a few miles from them is Plas Glynllifon and the Williams gang, now being replaced by Myles Cunliffe and his cohorts. Further east we see Clwyd and the A55 corridor being turned into Commuterland.

Elsewhere we have zip wires, or hippies, or retirees, or social dumping, or . . .

There’s room, and funding, jobs and housing, for everybody . . . except us Welsh.

I’m told that the Brummie manager of Transport for Wales’ Machynlleth depot has just hired an apprentice – from Blackburn! Despite any number of local lads wanting the job.

Wales is being overrun and colonised but never mind, let’s suck up to Guardian readers by doing a deal with the party that will back a minority Tory government and revoke the Government of Wales Act.

Down south the news is no better. TVR will not be coming to Ebbw Vale, and Aston Martin is about to go belly-up. Cardiff airport is in the wrong place – but never mind, let’s pour in more public money.

Decisions made by arseholes. And hypocrites. The kind of people who condemn others for withholding the truth or subverting democracy while protecting themselves and their lobbyist and third sector friends by refusing us the truth on the circumstances surrounding Carl Sargeant’s death.

Wales doesn’t need any more elections or referendums, what we need is a revolution of the soul, to reject this whole stinking colonialist system, and those down Cardiff Bay who profit from maintaining it.

♦ end ♦

*The Man From God-Knows Where is a poem, one of Cayo’s favourites.

 

Swansea Disloyals

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 post is a bit out of the ordinary, and rather personal. I felt it needed to be written as a response to those using the behaviour of a tiny minority to smear the reputation of my home city and its people. Also, in the hope of explaining why we have this minority.

NEVER JUST A GAME

A week yesterday, Swansea City hosted Cardiff City at the Liberty Stadium and beat the visitors 1 – 0. But the game itself was almost overshadowed by a few unsavoury postings on social media and incidents in the real world.

One widely reported posting concerned a ‘boarding pass’ for Emiliano Sala, the Argentine player Cardiff signed from Nantes, who was killed when the aircraft in which he was a passenger went down near the Channel Islands in January. (Available here if you want to see it.)

There was also criticism from certain quarters about union flags being flown by some Swans supporters – and their support for Glasgow Rangers and Ulster Loyalists – to imply that Swansea is a bastion of far right Unionism.

These were opposite the Railway Inn on Siloh Road, Landore, near to the Liberty Stadium. The use of a Union flag is a giveaway. Click to enlarge.

Passions are always high around these derby games, but many think that things have got worse in recent years. Which would be strange, for – isolated incidents of racism aside – football seems to be moving in the opposite direction, certainly with fewer cases of violence between rival groups of supporters.

So why is the rivalry getting more bitter and why have we seem a move to the Unionist far right from certain Swansea fans? The two phenomena are linked, as I’ll explain.

MEMORY LANE

As stated, there has always been rivalry between the fans of the Swans and the Bluebirds. I speak as an old North Banker from the ’60s, when the old Vetch Field occasionally saw bigger crowds than the Liberty Stadium can hold today. A loyal supporter who was at Anfield for the 1964 FA Cup victory, and then suffered the disappointment of the semi-final defeat on a Villa Park quagmire.

I can still smell the cigar smoke from Christmas games and remember the crowd singing Roy Orbison’s It’s Over when the Swans went two or three goals up. (Which may not have been too often, I admit.)

But the point is, me and my mates supported the Swans and we supported Wales, and that was it. It was football pure and simple, no politics, no divided loyalties, no foreign causes.

In the days of which I speak there was a certain confidence to be found in Swansea, a belief that our town was every bit as good as Cardiff or anywhere else. Cardiff’s ‘capital’ status meant little. There were plenty of good jobs and you could tell the boss to do something physically impossible on a Friday afternoon and walk into another job on Monday morning.

From 1899 OS map. Though Swansea Town AFC was not formed until 1912.. Click to enlarge

It was the age of winkle-pickers or chisel toes and ‘Italian’ suits, the Mumbles Mile; while down the Vetch it was Herbie Williams, Jimmie Mac and Brian Evans. Good times.

Though I admit that in later years I often drifted to St Helens and the Whites, which was just a short walk away, but the Swans were never far from my heart. First love and all that, I suppose.

But that’s enough of Memory Lane, let me now try to explain why I believe we’ve seen the emergence of UDA supporters on the banks of the Tawe.

A CITY BETRAYED

Despite the Swans making it to the old First Division under John Toshack for a couple of seasons in the early 80s, the confidence I just mentioned seemed to evaporate as the decade wore on and a number of factors contributed to a growing feeling that Swansea was losing out to Cardiff.

I’ve mentioned St Helens, that wonderful sporting arena on the Mumbles Road; not only was it home to Swansea RFC, but also to Glamorgan County Cricket Club. In fact, it was regarded as the natural home to GCCC seeing as the western part of the county and the adjoining area of Carmarthenshire around Llanelli produced most of Glamorgan’s players. And because the wider Swansea area was the home of Welsh cricket St Helens was where the county got its biggest crowds.

Glamorgan v West Indies, August 1950, St Helens, Swansea. Click to enlarge.

And yet, in a perverse decision that somehow foretold the future, GCCC gradually moved its centre of gravity east to Sophia Gardens (now the Swalec Stadium) in Cardiff, and St Helens was allocated fewer and fewer games.

A move that went hand in hand with Welsh cricket becoming less Welsh in every way. We saw fewer Welsh players in the team and the ‘Welsh’ cricket authorities willingly sacrificed our national team in order that Cardiff could host England test matches.

Then came the devolution referendum of September 1997, in which Swansea voted for devolution yet Cardiff – despite knowing it would get the benefits – voted against. I recall watching the late Hywel Teifi Edwards (father to the BBC’s Huw) being interviewed on television as the results came in and getting very angry about it, demanding that the Assembly should now go to Swansea.

What followed convinced many Swansea people that they’d been shafted.

It was always assumed that the new Assembly would be housed in Cardiff City Hall, but a bizarre dispute blew up between Ron Davies, then Secretary of State for Wales, and Russell Goodway, leader of Cardiff council. Davies alleged that Cardiff council was asking too much for City Hall, so negotiations ended and he launched a competition to find a different home for the Assembly.

The ‘winner’ was Swansea’s Guildhall, free since the new County Hall had been built on Oystermouth Road, and available at the right price. But none of that mattered – the Assembly ended up in Cardiff Bay.

All engineered by Lord Crickhowell, of Associated British Ports, which had benefited so handsomely from the public purse via the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation that had revamped ABP-owned Cardiff docks. Edwards had hoped to top it off with a new opera house, but lost out to the Millennium Stadium.

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The Assembly would be an acceptable consolation prize (despite Edwards and his mates being opposed to devolution), especially as the new institution would be using Crickhowell House while the Assembly building was built. In fact, the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ will be leasing Crickhowell House (or Tŷ Hywel, as it’s now called) until at least 2032.

The ‘dispute’ between Russell Goodway and Ron Davies was contrived, the ‘competition’ to find a home for the Assembly was a sham, both done to manoeuvre the Assembly down to Cardiff Bay. (All explained here in ‘Corruption Bay’, which I compiled almost 20 yeas ago.)

Swansea has been losing out ever since. A more recent example would be the decision to locate the major trauma centre for southern Wales in Cardiff, despite Swansea being geographically central, and Cardiff being so close to and already covered by the existing centres in Bristol. This decision was not made on medical or public health grounds. It will cost lives.

Now you might argue that other parts of Wales have lost out under devolution, and you’d be right. But nowhere is the sense of betrayal felt more keenly than in Swansea – because Swansea always had more to lose, and further to fall. And it hurts.

This failure of devolution has had consequences. As I shall now explain.

THE FAR RIGHT CAPITALISES

Like everywhere else, Swansea has always had a far right element. But because Cardiff fans don’t carry Union flags and a small number of Swansea fans do there is, as I said earlier, an attempt to besmirch the whole city and traduce its people.

But how did we arrive at this situation?

Two decades of non-stop investment have reconciled most Cardiffians to devolution, while the influx from the west and the north – to fill some of the many well-paid jobs created by devolution – has also helped Cymricise the city.

Swansea, on the other hand, has taken a different route.

Repeated kicks in the teeth have left almost all Swansea people feeling that their city has been betrayed and abandoned. Some Jacks have responded by rejecting not just devolution but Wales itself, and by exploiting the prevailing frustration to draw impressionable youngsters into something very ugly.

Of course, it can be argued that issues such as the tidal lagoon, or the failure to electrify the railway line, were the fault of Westminster, not the Assembly. But London has always been there, big, wealthy, dominating; whereas Cardiff’s growth in prosperity and size are seen as a direct result of devolution, and at the expense of Swansea.

Which, predictably, results in a rejection of – and often a hatred for – Cardiff.

I first became aware of the Swansea Loyals ten or more years ago, from their website, which gloried in members’ visits to Glasgow and Belfast. And while earlier manifestations of the far right in Wales had sought to incorporate Welsh symbols and identity into an essentially English or British message, what differentiated the Swansea Loyals is their focus on Scotland and Ireland.

Of course the Loyalist tradition has its roots in Ireland, and is long established in Scotland, but totally absent from Wales, which serves to reinforce Swansea Loyals’ rejection of things Welsh.

East Swansea Loyal sees the win against Cardiff as a victory over Wales! Click to enlarge.

It’s this that has angered so many on social media lately.

Maybe we need to remember that in the 1990s Cardiff was the capital of the far right in Wales, with ‘Wyn Davies’ and his Welsh Distributist Movement, the band Violent Storm and others. And who can forget footballer and Bluebirds fan Dai Thomas being arrested at Euro 2000. Was he there supporting England or just there for the violence? He was jailed a couple of years later for being a twat at a Cardiff game.

Despite Cardiff’s former pre-eminence, by the time the BNP membership list was leaked in November 2008 (Wales extract here) it was clear that Swansea had now stolen the crown 99% of the city’s population didn’t want.

Another gem in which our hero gives further proof of how uncomfortable he is in the 21st century. Note also the attempt – ‘hen’ – at Parliamo Glasgow. Click to enlarge.

So if you want to understand why a certain section of Swansea City fans wave Union flags and reject Welsh identity, why they identify with Glasgow Rangers and Loyalist paramilitaries, then the answer lies in a football rivalry being taken to another level by people of a far right political persuasion exploiting the fact that their city has been given a raw deal.

And because just about everyone in Swansea feels this way critics should be thankful that these Loyalists are so few in number. Swansea remains as Welsh as ever, but I doubt very much that the city would vote to retain this Cardiff-centric form of devolution if there was a referendum tomorrow.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Despite their protestations of being British, to most people in Wales and England there is something rather alien and off-putting about Loyalist flute bands, Lambeg drums and Orange marches. They seem to come from another place and a different culture. Maybe even a different century.

Yet during The Troubles Loyalism began to influence the far right in England. With that influence among England football supporters made clear time after time with the chanting of ‘No Surrender to the IRA’, which bemused locals in cities unlucky enough to have them visit.

An Eve of Twelfth (of July) bonfire in East Belfast. Click to enlarge

Connections were made. And persist

The violence for which England football fans are notorious attracts the far right in Wales, and also perhaps those – like Dai Thomas – only interested in a brawl. Here’s another tweet from East Swansea Loyal, this one gleefully anticipating violence in Prague after England had lost to the Czech Republic last month.

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The link between the far right and football violence is almost inevitable given the opportunities football provides to mix with and recruit pumped up young men looking for an outlet or a focus for their aggression. Which is why the armed forces provide another fertile recruiting ground.

But what’s wrong with that, they’ll argue, for only a ‘Fenian’ or a ‘separatist’ would complain about displaying the UK flag. And why shouldn’t guys from Swansea support Glasgow Rangers? Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with going to Belfast to socialise with others who believe in the Union (The fact that the hosts have a penchant for balaclavas and baseball bats is neither here nor there.)

Another retweet from East Swansea Loyal. Click to enlarge

Swansea City is not the only football club south of the border to have a ‘Loyal’ element. In recent years they have sprung up in a number of places, and for the same reason – the far right sees Loyalism as a cloak of respectability. Wrap yourself in the flag, sing GSTQ, attach yourself to mainstream Unionism, and you can get away with a lot more than you could if you were just a bigot without a cause.

But to what are they ‘Loyal’? Essentially, a system in Ireland that saw the indigenous population dispossessed and discriminated against, with this system maintained by violence. British imperialism in a nutshell.

There’s no question that the city of Swansea has had a raw deal in recent decades; but the culprits are in London and Cardiff, so the answers won’t be found in Glasgow and Belfast. 

Which makes it a great pity that instead of fighting for their city a small number of football hooligans has decided to further damage Swansea by joining bigots promoting a discredited cause.

LOOKING AHEAD

If you watched the recent BBC series Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History you’ll know that during that period Loyalist paramilitaries were armed and directed by the RUC, the British army, and the intelligence services. If you didn’t watch it, then I urge you to do so, it’s an excellent series.

The Troubles may be over but the British state faces new challenges. For Brexit has unleashed a wave of English nationalism, and also a response, which combined threaten to break up the United Kingdom. So there’s a good chance that the British state will employ the far right, Loyalists and the like, in the years ahead.

It’s been done before, not just in the Six Counties but also in England, after Roberto Fiore washed up in London in 1981 and became big pals with Nick Griffin. Fiore brought with him first-hand knowledge of cooperation between extreme right wing terrorists and state intelligence services.

There will be a Scottish independence referendum next year. The greater the likelihood of the Scots voting for independence, the dirtier the state will fight. And if there’s a vote for independence then it’ll be unrestricted warfare.

Across the water, there could be a vote for reunification. Which will not be welcomed by those the Swansea Loyals admire, so how will they react? They’ll probably resort to violence and they’ll have support from the far right in Britain, but will the state help them, or have they outlived their usefulness?

And what of Wales? We see a growing appetite for independence that cannot yet reach its potential because, a) it is too closely linked with a political party that has hit its ceiling, b) it dissipates its energies on diversionary issues, and c) it deters support by being doctrinaire.

They want us to believe that it’s only about the football, but the sectarian politics always comes through. Thankfully the Twitter account is suspended. Click to enlarge

But independence is the only way forward for Wales. And if Scotland votes to leave the UK then Welsh independence will surely follow. Which might provoke more than just angry tweets from the Swansea Loyals, and graffiti around the Station Inn.

To end on a brighter note . . . when we achieve independence our ‘Loyalists’ can move to the country to which they are really loyal – England. Because principled individuals like them couldn’t possibly remain in an independent Wales, and there’ll be little welcome for them in an independent Scotland or a united Ireland either.

In the meantime, let everybody understand . . .

The ‘Swansea Loyals’ do not represent my city or my people. They are a small gang of bigots and fascists who have cloaked themselves in ‘Loyalism’, turned their backs on Wales, and should be exposed for what they are.

Wales must be united under one flag; the flag of those who are loyal to Wales, and only Wales.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 28.10.2019

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

This issue is made up of something old, something new. We start with a brief return to Summit to Sea and end with another hydro project involving Ellergreen. The ‘meat’ in this sandwich is a piece in which I try to unravel who might be involved now and in the past at the Ferodo site in Caernarfon, which is lined up for a major development.

No doubt many of you are looking forward to the infantile grotesquerie of Hallowe’en, while those of a more traditional bent will uncork a bottle for Samhain. For it’s well known that at this time of the year our ancestors were partial to a good bottle of Malbec.

Here at Jac Towers the dogs will be unleashed upon any who come disturbing my peace. A charitable act; for climbing trees to escape the Dobermans will keep young scoundrels fit and stop them developing into socialists or criminals, a fate that demanding money with menaces surely presages.

(Though I rarely differentiate between socialists and criminals, and I’ve invariably found the latter to be more congenial company.)

SUMMIT TO SEA

Summit to Sea is a scam dreamed by a gang of ‘environmentalists’, led or inspired by George Monbiot, that hoped to be handed millions of pounds and given free access to thousands of hectares of land and sea in central Wales. The excuse for this appropriation was that ‘rewilding’ was needed to tackle climate change. (For sheep are absolute bastards when it comes to damaging the planet!)

The ‘Welsh Government’ played its usual role, a combination of Uriah Heep and Vidkun Quisling, by promising to helpfully clear farmers off the land by withdrawing funding, and helping in any other way it could.

In the past year or so Summit to Sea has featured a few times on this blog. With my major contribution coming with The Welsh Clearances a year ago, and this month we had two guest pieces: the first, by Jon Coles of the Pembrokeshire Herald, quickly followed by a piece from an anonymous, but equally well-informed source.

Given the bad publicity received, and the near-total opposition in the affected area – especially from local farmers who were never consulted! – it was almost inevitable that Summit to Sea would be vulnerable. And so it proved; first, when Ecodyfi withdrew its support from the project in September; and then, this month, when Rewilding Britain had second thoughts.

Click to enlarge

Summit to Sea has taken two heavy hits and is rocking on its heels, ready for the knock-out blow . . . but will it be delivered?

I ask because there seems to be ambivalence on the part of certain local politicians. Go back to the article I linked to reporting the withdrawal of Rewilding Britain, and there you’ll read Powys councillor Elwyn Vaughan saying: “I am hopeful that it marks the start of a successful partnership between the people of mid Wales and Summit to Sea.”

In this article from Farmers Guardian Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Vaughan expands on his thinking. He clearly believes the project should proceed, but with more local involvement and, perhaps, a slice of the £3.4m said to be available. Though I’m not sure how this is supposed to work out.

The money was only available for the rewilding project . . . a rewilding project to which local farmers are almost universally opposed. So are we to believe that the farmers will implement the rewilding scheme themselves if they get the £3.4m?

At the very least, it suggests to me that Elwyn Vaughan is not opposed to Summit to Sea per se. Maybe his opposition was simply to the way it was being done, and how the money was being distributed.

Which would make a certain sense, for Councillor Vaughan seems to be something of an eco-warrior himself. This tweet has been pinned to his Twitter timeline for almost two years. (We all want to cut down on the use of plastic, but bloody hell! – two years!)

Click to enlarge

And when it comes to his party, well, Plaid Cymru is all over the place on this one. We know that Plaid is a very environmentally-friendly political party, but it risks alienating a great many supporters by backing Summit to Sea.

Though looking at it from the other side, if I was trying to implement Summit to Sea as originally conceived, I might think to myself: ‘Right, Labour’s onside, but in this neck of the woods Labour’s got less support than the DUP, so the key is Plaid Cymru’.

I’m not saying Plaid Cymru could win everybody over to Summit to Sea, but just to get Plaid talking of “partnership” might be enough to sow confusion and create division where none had previously existed.

And looking at it from the Summit to Sea perspective it would certainly be worth courting Plaid Cymru. With the project falling apart what have they got to lose?

I invite Elwyn Vaughan to clarify what he means by “partnership” with Summit to Sea.

BRAKES OFF AT THE FERODO SITE

Ferodo opened its Caernarfon factory in 1964, and at its height it employed almost 2,000 people. In the late nineties the site was taken over by American Craig Smith and in 1997 renamed Friction Dynamics. Relations between owner and staff deteriorated.

Click to enlarge

An industrial dispute began in April 2001 that lasted until Christmas 2003. The strikers won their case at an industrial tribunal but Smith closed the company and reopened as Dynamex Friction. The money the strikers were awarded at the industrial tribunal was never paid.

The Friction Dynamics strike was one of the longest in Welsh history, beaten only perhaps by the Penrhyn lockout of 1900 – 1903 at Bethesda, not far away. They can be stubborn buggers in that area. God bless ’em.

I’m telling you this to give some background to a report on plans to develop the site. Though I got a flashback when I read in the headline that the project also included Plas Brereton. Daily Post reporter Owen Hughes reminded us about Plas Brereton with, “The site went up for sale last autumn . . . after the deal to sell to Plas Glynllifon owners Paul and Rowena Williams collapsed.”

And it’s true! As the very same Owen Hughes reported last June. And here he is! Paul Williams himself, in living colour.

Come on, be honest – would you buy magic beans from this guy? His eyes are all over the place, a would-be con man who can’t even convince himself! Probably thinking to himself, ‘Nobody’s buying this crap, are they?’

But let’s not dwell in the past; let’s ask what the future holds for the Cofis. For a start, it’s more tourism, more, ‘Wales – England’s Playground’. Though these plans outdo even the Gruesome Twosome.

Though I warn you, it now gets a wee bit complicated, and I might digress. But I think it’s worth sticking with it.

Click to enlarge

The company reported as being behind the project is Maybrook Investments, of Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. Though also involved is Landal Greenparks, a Dutch company owned by Wyndham Destinations of the USA.

The Welsh involvement is limited to input from Cadnant Planning and architectural firm Dewis. Perhaps these have been given the work in the belief that local firms would be more likely to secure planning approval. Which has yet to be granted.

There’s plenty of information available on major companies Landal and Wyndham, so I’m going to focus on Maybrook Investments which, unlike those two, has no vast website and very little information of any kind. But we’ll dig anyway.

First off, what does Companies House tell us about Maybrook? Well, there are in fact two Maybrook companies; Maybrook Investments Ltd, and Maybrook Developments (Appley Bridge) Ltd. Let’s concentrate on the first, which is the one mentioned in the Daily Post.

Of the 100 shares issued, 99 are held by Peter Brendan Gerrard O’Dowd and 1 by Noreen O’Dowd. There are 7 outstanding charges for assorted properties, mainly in north west England.

The latest unaudited financial statement suggests a company in pretty good financial health, though a different valuation might not agree that the company’s investment portfolio is worth almost six million pounds.

Next stop was the Land Registry, for a map search of the site, and this is what I turned up. But now it gets rather complicated, for not only does the title record involve the Crown Estate and the ‘Welsh Government’ but there are various covenants and restrictions.

The Ferodo site was bought in July 2015 for £234,000 by the St Francis Group (Caernarfon) Ltd, which began life 10.06.2015. The last of the original directors left in December 2017 when O’Dowd joined. The name was changed to Bryn Coch Ltd in January 2018.

Maybrook Investments is now the sole shareholder. The two charges against this company (one satisfied) correspond with the number on the title document I’ve just linked with, CYM63599.

Click to enlarge

These two charges being dated 18.12.2017 and 22.06.2018 suggests they were not used to make the purchase in 2015 but taken out later for some other purpose, with the Ferodo site used as security.

Let us now go back further and check on the history of this site.

Page 3 of the title document seems to deal with rights of access and then, at the end, a transfer of land relating to the other title on the site.

From my reading of the title document for CYM63599, by 2009 the Ferodo site had passed to the ownership or custodianship of ‘The Welsh Ministers’, who then sold it to Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd. The purchase is covered in these charges, taken out 2007 – 2009 which remain outstanding.

But why was Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd set up in July 2007 almost two years before the transfer of May 2009?

You’ll see that the directors of Bluefield Caernarfon at the time of this purchase are are all to be found in the south east, apart from Gary Goodman of Merseyside. With most involved with Bluefield Land Ltd from July 2005.

Bluefield Land took out loans amounting to millions of pounds (also still outstanding) with the Julian Hodge Bank Ltd. The company’s address was at Tŷ To Maen Farm in Old St Mellons. (Which for some reason rings a bell.)

Land disposal in Wales was of course the remit of the discredited Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales. You must remember the RIFW and the case of Stan ‘the Pies’ Thomas who enjoyed such good fortune buying up prime building land around Cardiff for a fraction of what it was worth.

Was the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales involved in the sale of the Ferodo site?

If I had more time (and if this investigation wasn’t making me lose the will to live!), I’d push on because I’m sure there’s a lot to unearth. This may not be a straightforward application by a guy who owns the Ferodo site hoping to involve major players in some over-hyped holiday camp.

If I was Cyngor Gwynedd I would be asking a lot of questions before even considering this site for planning approval.

For a start, Maybrook Investments Ltd doesn’t seem to own the whole of the old Ferodo site. So is the other title holder involved? (There was an option to buy dated February 2009, but has it been exercised?)

Then, if we go to the title document for the land apparently owned by Bryn Coch Ltd we see, at the top of page 4, the extract below. As we know, Bluefield Caernarfon Ltd was dissolved in January 2016. All the shares were owned by Dauson Environmental Group Ltd. So does this company retain whatever rights are referred to?

Click to enlarge

Turning to the entry numbered 9, Bluefield Caernarfon Management Ltd also went belly-up in January 2016. The shares here were held by Bluefield Land Ltd (35 shares) and Twenty20 Homes Ltd (65 shares).

We encountered Bluefield Land Ltd earlier, and mercifully it’s still in the land of the living, with all its shares also held by Dauson Environmental Group Ltd. But what of newcomer Twenty2o Homes Ltd? Well, whaddya know, it also breathed its last in January 2016.

Companies associated with the Ferodo site were going down like flies that month!

The shares in Twenty20 Homes were held by Macob Property Holdings Ltd (13,500 shares) and Paul Christopher Markey of Porthcawl (1,500 shares). Macob Property Holdings is undergoing a very long process of liquidation; owing Barclays Bank over £7m (‘before interest and charges’) at the start of the process.

Where does this leave the ‘rights granted by a deed . . . (to) Bluefield Caernarfon Management Ltd for a term of 75 years from 7 April 2009′?

What ‘rights’ were they? Have they been nullified? Have they been transferred? Maybe they’re still held by shareholders, or creditors? Or have they reverted to ‘The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty’?

This project on the old Ferodo site was a bit opaque to start with. A small-time property dealer trying to break into the big time, with a vague association with major players. While in the background we see a swirling mess of interlinked companies shuffling money between them, taking out huge loans and then going bust!

If I was Cyngor Gwynedd I’d be asking who owns what and who might still have claim on the Ferodo site and anything built on it.

ELLERGREEN HYDRO

In the piece last month, Wales, with us but strangers, we looked at a hydro scheme on the Tywi below Llyn Brianne. Among the many foreign companies taking a slice of this Welsh cake was Ellergreen Hydro Ltd.

As I wrote, “Ellergreen Hydro is based in the English Lake District and seems to be part of a group of companies bearing the name. These are run – in various guises and through assorted holding companies – by the Cropper family, headed by Sir James Anthony Cropper.”

Concerned locals at Mynydd Llandygai have been in touch to tell me that something odd is going on as Cyngor Gwynedd bends over backwards to accommodate a group that has invited Ellergreen Hydro to install a project on Afon Galedffrwd.

To begin with, I’m told that the project is being pushed through by stealth, with the local community not being properly notified and updated.

Then, it’s alleged that the application form has been ‘modified’. For a source insists that the original application – accepted by the council – stated “that the nearest building to the power station is ‘several hundred yards away’ when actually there are houses within 50 yards of it and an industrial unit and 10 plus houses within 100 yards.”

It’s said the council’s planners knew this, but still accepted the incorrect information.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, go to the council planning portal and you’ll find three letters of support. There were many more letters objecting . . . but they seem to have disappeared!

Anyway, let’s look at the planning application, for it contains a few entries to raise a smile, or have you scratching your head. The applicant is Mrs Jenny Wong of Coetir Mynydd (of which more in a minute) who lives in Bethesda . . . in the Vale of Glamorgan!

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The agent is Adam Cropper of Ellergreen Hydro, who gives an address in Penarth, which really is in the Vale of Glamorgan. But as we know, Ellergreen is based in the Lake District, so Pod 3, Avon House is just an accommodation address.

Probably explained by this letter from the council to a Mr Alex Ferraro of Penarth. ‘Who him?’, you ask, as well you might. Somebody must know who he is and how he fits into the picture. So please let us know.

Scroll down to box 27 and we see that the land needed for the project seems to be partly owned by the Penrhyn Estate; partly owned by Rite Goswami of Yr Ocar, Coed y Parc (which is either a B&B or a self-catering holiday let, maybe both); and partly owned by the aforementioned Mrs Wong on behalf of Coetir Mynydd.

Having promised you more information, here’s the Companies House entry for Coetir Mynydd, and here’s the website . . . which doesn’t seem to have been updated since the 2017 AGM. Here’s more on Coetir Mynydd and the scheme, complete with videos!

Locals also wonder who’s paying, and who’s benefiting, for despite promises of ‘community benefits’ in the form of cheaper energy for all, many remain sceptical.

According to Robert Owen Community Banking, shares for similar schemes nearby, ” . . . cost £50, and there is a minimum holding of five shares (£250)”. Later in the article we read that the shares are to be sold online.

Two hundred and fifty pounds might be too much for some locals, and if shares are to be sold online then anyone can buy them. So how local are these schemes?

We have a ‘local’ group, made up mainly it seems of good-lifers and planet-botherers, an English energy company, landowners including Lord Penrhyn (whose ancestor caused the longest strike in history), the mysterious Alex Ferraro of Penarth(?), and shares perhaps being sold online.

What we seem to have here, again, is Plaid Cymru, in the form of Cyngor Gwynedd, unable to resist any scheme claiming environmental credentials. And when the sales pitch is delivered in a middle class English accent they go all wobbly at the knees.

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 14

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

Those who’ve followed this saga will know that we started off with Paul and Rowena Williams – and a colourful supporting cast – in Powys, at the Knighton Hotel and the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne.

After allegedly selling their property empire in Powys and beyond to their associate, convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge, for a reported £11m, Paul and Rowena decided to focus their entrepreneurial genius on Gwynedd. In particular, Plas Glynllifon, which they apparently bought in 2016.

Things did not go well, and it was no surprise when we witnessed the entry onto the stage of Myles Andrew Cunliffe of Lancashire towards the end of last year. Described by Paul Williams at the time as a ‘finance guy’ who was going to help them out of the hole they’d dug for themselves.

Anyone late to this feast may catch up with earlier servings here: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8, Weep for Wales 9, Weep for Wales 10, Weep for Wales 11, Weep for Wales 12, Weep for Wales: A statement, Weep for Wales: further threats, Weep for Wales 13.

Some of those towards the end of the list will need explaining, so read on . . .

UPS AND DOWNS

Just before Christmas I had a letter from a firm of solicitors in Chester demanding that I remove everything I’d ever written about Paul and Rowena Williams. I considered this to be an absurd and unreasonable request.

Which is why I refused to comply. Here’s the letter, together with my reply.

Though I wondered about that letter. Why would the Gruesome Twosome suddenly suspect that their glowing reputation for ethical dealings, paying suppliers and others on time, and not in any way being involved in mortgage fraud, was being sullied? Which is why I suspected that the letter had been prompted by Cunliffe, perhaps when he, or others, realised how well known the Williams gang had become.

I heard no more from Manleys of Chester.

But on March 26 I received, after dark, a hand-delivered letter. This was clearly in response to what I’d written about Cunliffe’s business past and possible associates a week earlier in Weep for Wales 12. Where, among other things, I’d mentioned a number of companies formed and then dissolved without any accounts being filed with Companies House.

Even so, I have to admit that this letter made me pause for thought. A letter from a solicitor is one thing; but a, ‘We know where you live’ letter from a guy with shady associates, delivered after dark, is something else. I took down Weep for Wales 12.

It was put back on August 25, and was followed on the 26th by Weep for Wales: a statement.

Which prompted a second hand-delivered letter from Myles Andrew Cunliffe on August 27. (This one pushed through my letter-box in daylight.) Another rambling missive listing ‘threats’ against him and his family that were never made, but threatening to put things right by ‘eradicating’ me! A clear threat on my life which I reported to North Wales Police.

After a few back-covering alterations Weep or Wales 12 went back up on August 29. Weep for Wales 13 soon followed. And now, here we are with Weep for Wales 14.

I should add that North Wales Police are still trying to get hold of Cunliffe, to warn him that threatening to ‘eradicate’ people is not the thing to do, but he’s proving elusive. As this text message from the NWP officer involved makes clear.

Text message received from North Wales Police. Click to enlarge

My position remains as it was set out in my response to Manleys of Chester and elsewhere. If I’ve made a mistake, then convince me of my error and I’ll amend it or remove it. But any threats will be passed straight on to North Wales Police.

GOING FOR A SONG

In Weep for Wales 13 we learnt that after the liquidation of the holding company, Leisure & Development Ltd, the various pubs, hotels and caravan parks involved went up for auction.

I’m informed that all have been sold with the exception of the two Powys properties. Though it’s rarely that simple with the Williams gang.

For a start, I’m told that the Knighton Hotel was sold to someone who immediately put it back up for auction! Perhaps after realising that Paul and Rowena Williams still owned parts of this substantial property. They may still own the cellars!

Knighton Hotel, both stone and mock Tudor. Click to enlarge

When it comes to the Radnorshire Arms, a former regular at that hostelry tells me, “The Rad is awash with Chinese whispers, a local consortium, local millionaire, far away millionaire and possibly Donald Trump’s chiropodist are all interested!”

Though one thing worth pointing out, and a reminder of how Paul and Rowena Williams operate, is that when the Knighton Hotel went for sale at auction in May it failed to meet the reserve price of £375,000. It comes up for auction again on the 23rd of this month, with the guide price down to £310,000. “We expect some strong bidding”, says a hopelessly optimistic auctioneer.

UPDATE 23.10.2019: The Knighton Hotel did not sell.

Yet when the Knighton Hotel was bought in 2015 by their company Leisure & Development Ltd the Williams pair claim to have paid £2,881,599. In reality, they paid nothing – because they already owned it. But they still got a loan from the National Westminster Bank.

And it was the same with the Radnorshire Arms, for which they claim to have paid £3,487,049. Again, they got a loan from the NatWest.

And that’s why the NatWest is owed £6,202,405.45. But of course this has nothing to do with Paul and Rowena Williams – because they sold Leisure & Development Ltd and everything the company owned to Keith Part(d)ridge in February 2018 – don’t you remember!

From the administrator’s progress report, August 2019. Click to enlarge

That’s how they operated their mortgage fraud. They borrowed money from the National Westminster Bank to ‘buy’ properties they already owned. Where’s the money now? Who knows? Well, obviously, Paul and Rowena Williams know, but they aren’t telling. And, worse, nobody seems to be asking.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN GWYNEDD?

I’ve mentioned Plas Glynllifon, the vast pile at Llandwrog, south of Caernarfon, but there are, or were, other Gwynedd properties in the Williams portfolio. The Seiont Manor hotel and restaurant at Llanrug, and the Fronoleu country hotel and restaurant near Dolgellau.

Plas Glynllifon. Click to enlarge

The Seiont Manor seemed to be a going concern, but the empty Fronoleu was just left to deteriorate further. Though I’m informed by a good source that the Fronoleu has very recently been bought.

So let’s look at what’s left of the Williams-Cunliffe empire after the collapse of Leisure & Development Ltd.

Polvellan Manor Ltd was dissolved on September 17. The only director at the end was Keith Harvey Partdridge.

Rural Retreats & Development Ltd is still with us, the two directors being Paul Williams and Myles Cunliffe. Though the shares are equally divided between Mylo Capital Ltd (a Cunliffe company) and Rowena Williams. After changing its registered address in December from Plas Glynllifon to a Manchester office, it moved again last month to ‘Llwyn y Brain Lodge, Llanrug’.

Llwyn y Brain may be close to Seiont Manor. Certainly the eatery at Seiont Manor is known as Llwyn y Brain Restaurant. Though seeing ‘Lodge’ in the name makes me think of the house at the end of the drive, on Llanberis Road. This picture shows the Lodge looking south west to Buarthau; Seiont Manor itself is north east of the Lodge.

Image courtesy of Geograph. Copyright Eric Jones. Click to enlarge

The lender taking the hit on Rural Retreats & Development Ltd is Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle in Cheshire with seven outstanding charges. In addition, this company has made four loans on the Seiont Manor itself.

Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd drifts along directorless since the mysterious Michael Jones – who is listed as holding all the shares – left on the last day of July. Companies House is still waiting for the accounts due by 31 December 2018. There is a charge held by the National Westminster Bank against everything the company owns.

Companies House has been informed of the situation but has taken no action.

Plas Glynllifon Ltd is in no better health than the other companies. It too shuffled from Plas Glynllifon to Manchester and now Llwyn y Brain Lodge. The two directors are Cunliffe and Rowena Williams (Paul Williams resigned last month) and the shares are split equally between Rowena Williams and Mylo Capital Ltd. It should go without saying that the accounts are overdue.

There are eight outstanding charges against Plas Glynllifon Ltd, all with Together Commercial Finance Ltd. Plus three on this title which I believe includes the big house.

Gwesty Seiont Manor Ltd was dissolved in May.

The Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd was dissolved in September. The final resting place being the Leintwardine office of accountant John Duggan, another convicted fraudster who’s been used a lot over the years by Paul and Rowena Williams.

Looking at the extant companies and the properties not in the hands of receivers I found 15 charges against companies and seven against properties, all with Together Commercial Finance Ltd.

But then, Commercial Finance Ltd itself has nine outstanding charges with the Royal Bank of Scotland. It’s the money merry-go-round.

  • ‘Respectable’ banks raise money
  • They will lend to chancers, fraudsters and con artists – once
  • ‘Respectable’ banks also make loans to lenders of last resort like Together Commercial Finance Ltd
  • Lenders of last resort then lend it to chancers, fraudsters and con artists who have exhausted their credit with ‘respectable’ banks.
  • Chancers, fraudsters and con artists from England use money from both sources to buy property in Wales
  • This may involve mortgage fraud, tax evasion and other ‘sidelines’
  • Few if any jobs will be created for locals, certainly no good jobs
  • These scams are hailed by ‘Welsh’ media and politicians as ‘investment’
  • Once they’ve got enough money stashed away, aforementioned chancers, fraudsters and con artists go belly-up or leg it
  • News media and politicians ignore such outcomes
  • Receivers, security firms, auctioneers, etc – all from England – make money from property of liquidated companies
  • The losers will be local staff, tradesmen and suppliers
  • Wales loses out in every sense, especially if con artists have received public funding, which happens far too often
  • Chancers, fraudsters and con artists start up again and cycle repeats itself
  • Alternatively, their assets are taken over by serious crooks who use them to ‘refresh’ money from other ventures

This is not the capitalist system I support, and I find it worrying that so many agencies that should be intervening seem to dismiss it as ‘victimless’, white collar crime. It may even be regarded benevolently because it generates wealth and puts money into the UK economy, like drug trafficking and other criminal activity.

THE BIG HOUSE

In the past few weeks I have received many notifications from Companies House regarding Myles Andrew Cunliffe and companies with which he’s associated, plus information from other quarters. So let’s look at just some of it.

I’ve mentioned Llwyn y Brain Lodge already, the new ‘home’ for Rural Retreats & Development Ltd and Plas Glynllifon Ltd, well it’s also the new address for the following Cunliffe companies:

Which suggests that Myles Andrew Cunliffe is settling in nicely. Though in the case of the second company in the list, it transferred to Llwyn y Brain on September 16 but Cunliffe ceased to be a director on the 18th. Which is odd, because the only director remaining has no known connection with Wales, and he joined on the very day Cunliffe left.

In addition to these companies, Cunliffe joined Save and Support PLC (Incorporated 25 April 2019) as a replacement for James Ellis.

UPDATE 22:20: Save and Support may provide a thread worth following. On 20 August, the day that Cunliffe’s associate, Sean Colin Hornby, joined Save and Support PLC, three directors left. These were: Peter John Parry, Adam Peter Parry and Joseph Peter Parry, almost certainly father and sons.

We find them again at Parry Investment Group Ltd and Save and Support Group Ltd. It’s reasonable to assume that Save and Support Group Ltd is linked with Save and Support PLC.

What makes this interesting is that Parry senior is also a director of Creating Enterprise CIC, a subsidiary of Cartrefi Conwy Cyf, which is based in Mochdre, just a hoot and a holler from Grwp Llandrillo-Menai’s Llandrillo campus.

Elsewhere, you will remember that in the previous episode we looked at the strange case of Cunliffe’s business partner Dennis Rogers, and the possible connection with Arron Banks and the mysterious millions that funded the 2016 Leave campaign. (If you haven’t read it then I suggest you read Weep for Wales 13 now.)

It seems that since Weep for Wales 13 appeared on August 31 Dennis Rogers has been reducing his profile, ceasing to be a director of a few companies. I hope it was nothing I said!

But this section is titled The Big House for a reason. In the previous post I linked to this story from North Wales Live on July 8 which told us that Paul and Rowena Williams had bought Plas Glynllifon in 2016, and that Myles Andrew Cunliffe was now a 50/50 partner.

Image courtesy of Daily Post/North Wales Live. Click to enlarge.

But then I got to wondering . . .

As you can imagine, I’ve got hundreds of documents and images for Paul and Rowena Williams and their associates – but did I have the Williams’ Land Registry title document for Plas Glynllifon? So I started searching.

All I could find for the Williams duo relating to Plas Glynllifon was this title document which refers to ‘land adjoining Glynllifon College’ for which £630,000 was paid in 2017. But nothing for Plas Glynllifon. So I went back to the Land Registry and did a map search.

I soon found the title for ‘The Mansion House and Glynllifon Estate’. The ‘Mansion House’ must refer to Plas Glynllifon. Which tells us that it’s all owned by Grwp Llandrillo-Menai, of which Coleg Glynllifon is a part.

Click to enlarge

In which case, how could Paul and Rowena Williams have bought Plas Glynllifon in 2016? And how could Myles Cunliffe now own half? I suppose there are a number of possibilities.

Perhaps the purchase of Plas Glynllifon in 2016 was not registered with the Land Registry. If so, why not? Why register the purchase of ‘land adjoining’ but not the Plas itself?

Maybe the Plas wasn’t purchased at all, maybe Paul and Rowena Williams entered into some kind of lease or rental agreement with Grwp Llandrillo-Menai. If so, what are the terms of this agreement? (Though the only lease shown on the title document is for an electricity sub-station.)

I’m genuinely confused, so I’d like some answers to a few simple questions:

1/ Who owns Plas Glynllifon?

2/ If Plas Glynllifon is owned by Grwp Llandrillo-Menai, what arrangement does it have with Paul and Rowena Williams; and now, Myles Andrew Cunliffe, and whoever Cunliffe might be representing?

3/ If Plas Glynllifon is owned by Paul and Rowena Williams/Myles Andrew Cunliffe and partner(s) – as they claim – why isn’t the ownership registered with the Land Registry?

UPDATE 05.11.2019: In the hope of settling the question of who owns Plas Glynllifon, the mansion, I wrote to Grwp Llandrillo-Menai.

The response I had yesterday was accompanied by a copy of the title document and plan for a sale of the Plas in November 2003. That sale was to Glynllifon Ltd, a company that was dissolved 24.06.2017. The sale was helped with a loan from the Welsh Development Agency. Though you’ll notice that Glynllifon Ltd was formed 07.11.2000. So why did it take so long to complete the sale?

The e-mail I received from the company secretary of Grwp Llandrillo-Menai concluded: “With regards to document CYM8531, thank you, the Grŵp will be following the matter of accuracy up with our Estate Solicitor and the Land Registry in due course.”

The clear suggestion being that the title document for Plas Glynllifon available at the Land Registry, showing the place to be still owned by Grwp Llandrillo-Menai, is wrong. I can only think that the Land Registry has not been notified of a change of ownership.

♦ end ♦

 

Summit to Sea: a guest post by Jon Coles

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 post is by Jon Coles, the Herald‘s Chief Writer, who has written about farming and rural affairs every week since the papers’ launch.

A CONTROVERSIAL project in Mid Wales faces opposition from local farmers and lost the support of a key local partner.

Summit to Sea’s website says: “The project will bring together one continuous, nature-rich area, stretching from the Pumlumon massif – the highest area in mid-Wales – down through wooded valleys to the Dyfi Estuary and out into Cardigan Bay. Within five years it will comprise at least 10,000 hectares of land and 28,400 hectares of sea.”

Pumlumon. Click to enlarge

The project is seen as a pilot for similar projects being eyed in rural areas of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire and partly reflects the Welsh Government’s controversial plans for favouring nebulous ‘public goods’ over food production.

‘NO TO REWILDING’

Drive towards Machynlleth from Talybont and signs in the roadside verges show opposition to the project growing the further north you go. Most say: ‘No to Rewilding’. There are few signs of any overt support.

A meeting of 150 local farmers in Talybont earlier this year rejected the project.
Just outside Machynlleth a particularly large sign rejecting rewilding underlines the farmers’ opposition.

Machynlleth. Click to enlarge

Once a market town for the livestock and wool trade, Machynlleth is now a prosperous exclave of bohemian incomers and boutique shopping in mid-Wales. The town’s centre supports a large Aga showroom, an old-fashioned cobbler making hand-made shoes, a variety of artisanal boutiques, antique shops, and no banks.

It is there that the ideas underpinning rewilding in the UK were, if not born, then first brought to the wider public’s attention.

George Monbiot is a trenchant critic of modern farming and has opined at length on what he claims is the adverse impact of sheep farming on the Welsh upland landscape. Mr Monbiot formerly resided near Machynlleth before returning to live in his native Oxfordshire some years ago.

Machynlleth, looking down Maengwyn Street to the A487 and the clock tower. Click to enlarge

In his book Feral, a seminal text for the rewilding movement in the UK, George Monbiot says: “Rewilding, to me, is about resisting the urge to control nature and allowing it to find its own way.”

Rewilding Britain is the principal partner for the Summit to Sea project.
The chief executive of Rewilding Britain is Rebecca Wrigley. Ms Wrigley is the partner of journalist and author George Monbiot.

The application for grant support for Summit to the Sea has a return address which is the couple’s home in Oxford.

REWILDING

To its critics, rewilding is a fad supported by metropolitan eco-warriors with nothing better to do with their time than dream of romantic rural idylls that never existed. Its supporters regard it as a means of restoring diversity and improving natural habitats.

Rewilding is so divisive a topic that even those sympathetic to its aims express caution about where it might lead and where the quest for creating an ‘authentic’ habitat stops.

A rewilding exercise in the Netherlands, at Oostvaardersplassen near Amsterdam, was so badly misjudged and went so catastrophically wrong that 3,000 horses, deer and cattle did not survive the winter of 2017. Starving animals were shot by Dutch officials to ease overpopulation and prevent the destruction of the forested habitats on which many of the species depend.

Oostvaardersplassen. Click to enlarge

Some argue that rewilding is the creation of ecosystems where human influences and control over vast areas of land are removed, and species such as large predators create self-regulating environments devoid of human interactions.

Others argue that rewilding is merely a new and exciting approach to conservation.
Rural Wales is, however, a working environment. Its landscape is intimately entwined with humans’ interactions with it, as users and exploiters of the land and conservers of it. While reintroducing apex predators like wolves and lynx is unlikely, significant concern exists that ‘rewilders’ oppose farming as being itself ‘a bad thing’.

SUMMIT TO SEA ‘NOT ABOUT REWILDING’

In spite of Rewilding Britain’s status as the Summit to Sea project’s lead partner, a spokesperson for the latter denied that the project’s primary purpose was rewilding.
They told us: “Summit to Sea was never meant to be a large-scale rewilding project, but instead is a wider initiative to bring positive change to both Mid Wales’ environment and economy. Exactly how the project looks will be shaped entirely by the community.

“Over the coming weeks, a recently appointed Community Engagement Officer will host one-to-one meetings and drop-in sessions with those who’d like to be involved to hear their visions for the area’s future. This could involve anything from working with communities to develop nature-based businesses that are socially and economically beneficial, to working with farmers to develop ideas for land management”.

However, the project has caused alarm that ‘rewilding’ is the first step towards the outside appropriation of Welsh land to rid the area of farming and create a playground for English and urban visitors.

Speaking in 2018, Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) President Glyn Roberts said: “A key driving force behind such pressures and policies is the belief that farming is somehow inherently bad, with negative messages drip-fed through the media by charities until they are accepted as universal truths – often conveniently drawing attention away from disastrous policies advocated by charities and introduced by successive Governments.”

LACK OF LOCAL ENGAGEMENT

Criticism that Summit to Sea has failed to reach out to local farmers and engage with local culture sensitively reached a head towards the end of the summer. Ecodyfi, a not for profit Development Trust which aims to deliver sustainable community regeneration in the Dyfi Valley, withdrew its support from Summit to Sea earlier this year.

Speaking to the media in September, Ecodyfi manager Andy Rowland said: “We have increasingly been disturbed by the change of attitude to the project in the farming-connected community on which we largely depend.

“The project reflects the partners’ focus on the environment and pays much less attention to the cultural/linguistic/social and economic aspects of sustainable development, which are fundamental to the whole community.

“We feel that in present circumstances Ecodyfi can best help the creation of a more resilient and sustainable future by being outside the project rather than by staying within it.”

Nick Fenwick, FUW. Click to enlarge

Responding, Nick Fenwick, Head of Policy at the FUW said: “We welcome the fact that Ecodyfi has recognised the damage done to their relationship with the local community through their involvement with Rewilding Britain.

“Their acknowledgement that the project does not pay sufficient attention to the ‘cultural, linguistic, social and economic aspects of sustainable development which are fundamental to the whole community’ is also welcome.”

FARMERS ‘MISUNDERSTAND’ PROJECT

Speaking at the time of Ecodyfi’s announcement, the Chief Executive of Summit to Sea said farmers had ‘misunderstood’ the scheme.

Melanie Newton also told the BBC: “It’s not about rewilding, it’s actually about looking at landscape sustainability and how that sits with traditional farming practices and how they can all support each other – they can sit side by side.”

Melanie Newton, Summit to Sea CEO. Click to enlarge

We asked Summit to Sea whether it thought to say that farmers misunderstood the project insulted the intelligence of those upon whose support it relied to deliver its scheme.

A spokesperson told us: “There has been a lot of information in circulation during the last year or so, some of which has been false or misconstrued. We also recognise that in some cases, communication on our part hasn’t been as clear as we would have liked.

“Feedback from community members so far has been vital in terms of how the project is shaped and adapted, and we are now working hard to strengthen our lines of communication with local people so that we can continue to develop a project which benefits both wildlife and people.”

Nick Fenwick of the FUW was not mollified by that explanation. He told us: “Farmers have certainly not ‘misunderstood’ the project: Far from it, they have recognised it for what it truly is, and know perfectly well that the claim that ‘It’s not about rewilding’ is laughable.

“The project is instigated and run by Rewilding Britain, an organisation which advocates the rewilding of a quarter of Great Britain. Their website acknowledges that the organisation was inspired by George Monbiot’s book ‘Feral’, which advocates the replacement of traditional farming with wilding in the very area selected for the Summit to Sea project.”

LOCAL SUPPORT?

We finally asked Summit to Sea to identify substantial locally-based or Welsh-based farming groups which supports its objectives.

Summit to Sea referred to the eight project partners engaged in the project and responded: “There are eight project partners who are keen to meet with groups including FUW and NFU Cymru to discuss how all organisations can move forward together to help create an environmental and economically prosperous future for everyone.”

Those partners, apart from Rewilding Britain, are Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust (MWT), PLAS Marine Special Area of Conservation, RSPB, Coetir Anian (a style of the Wales Wild Land Foundation CIO, which promotes rewilding), Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and WWF.

♦ end ♦

Jac chips in . . . An excellent piece by Jon Coles (I would expect no less) that exposes the many contradictions, and worse, in this project.

I became aware of Summit to Sea last year and it featured in The Green Menace (28 August). I wrote, “One shadowy re-wilding project about which I and others are having difficulty getting information is ‘Summit to Shore’”. A later piece was The Welsh Clearances in October, with a further mention here at the end of that month.

I may have got the name wrong to begin with, but this was not surprising seeing as there was so little information in the public domain, and no local consultations. Or let me qualify that by saying that no contact had been made with those whose land was being eyed up for takeover.

Gradually, more information seeped out, but it wasn’t encouraging. Just 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.

When dealing with surly natives Ms Buttriss clearly favours the, ‘You can like it or lump it’ approach.

And yet, despite being furtive wee creatures in the area affected, those behind Summit to Sea are not shy of publicity. Below we see Buttriss presenting a petition (for more trees) to London’s management team in Corruption Bay, represented by Plasmarl boy, Mike Hedges AM.

Let me think . . . did the ‘Welsh Government’ agree to a photo-op for the petitions against the ‘Ring of Steel’, or the ‘Prince of Wales’ Bridge, both of which gained a hell of a lot more signatures? Click to enlarge

Monbiot and his friends know little about the land they want to seize, but they know how to get things done. For Labour’s buffoons down Cardiff docks are like putty in the hands of members of the English middle classes.

After suitable kneading, the men (and women) of clay promised to withdraw funding from farmers after Brexit with the intention of thereby making land available for Monbiot and his gang.

Summit to Sea reminds us how vulnerable Cardiff Bay is to pressure from special interest groups, usually from outside of Wales and often acting against the Welsh national interest.

This colonialist variant of devolution is why we have a third sector profiting from the deprivation and hopelessness it encourages, and why the ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to consider a register of lobbyists.

Let’s end back in Holland, at Oostvaardersplassen. (And try saying that after a bottle of Malbec!) As the Guardian put it: “For protesters, Oostvaardersplassen is a secretive experiment devised by distrusted elites”.

Just add ‘alien’ and it applies perfectly to Summit to Sea. But why stop there! Wales itself is run by ‘distrusted alien elites’. Thank God more of you are waking up to that fact.

 

Wales, with us but strangers

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

Hello, boys and girls, it’s Uncle Jac here again, with another tale from colonial Wales; another story of how we Welsh are ripped off. It’s been happening for centuries; but nowadays everybody’s at it, while we have no one to defend us, and so many collaborators.

That’s a hint that there’ll be a bit of history thrown in. And some geography!

Incidentally, you may have heard that some naughty boys and girls have been calling Uncle Jac nasty names. Fortunately Uncle Jac only worries about the opinions of those he respects, and as time passes and people die, that illustrious band grows ever smaller.

This week’s tale takes us into the wild and beautiful country around Rhandirmwyn, north of Llanymddyfri, once the haunt of Twm Siôn Cati (1530 – 1607). In fact what is claimed to be Twm’s cave – where he hid from the Sheriff of Carmarthen’s men – is  nearby. So is Ystrad-ffin, once home to Thomas Rhys Williams, whose widow, Joan, Twm married.

Not only did Joan have the farm and the land around but she also had her own money, being the daughter of Sir John Price of Brecon, the son of Rhys ap Gwilym ap Llywelyn ap Rhys Llwyd ab Adam, descended from Dafydd Gam, who betrayed Glyndŵr and died on the English side at Agincourt.

In fact, Ystrad-ffin, or Ystradffin, is central to our story. So let’s crack on.

BANDIT COUNTRY

This tale came to me from a good source who had been walking in the area and saw things that caused him concern. After he had tipped me off I did some more digging and what I’ve uncovered is quite perplexing, even disturbing.

What my source saw was a Czech firm installing a hydro scheme for an English company on the Tywi, just downstream from the Llyn Brianne reservoir. The Tywi of course runs on to Carmarthen and the sea.

First, let’s get the lie of the land, courtesy of Google Earth.

Click to enlarge

We can see that the river runs down from the dam, skirts Rhuddallt, and it’s somewhere here that the hydro scheme is located, above the weir and the fish trap, north west of Ystradffin farm.

This story seems to start in August 2013, explained here by Natural Resources Wales. You’ll see that the original application was rejected. The project seems to have finally been given the all-clear in late June 2017.

The firm behind the project is H2O Power Towy (sic) Ltd, which until last November was known as Hydro Electric Development Ltd. This company is based in Hertfordshire. It’s directors are Ewan William Campbell-Lendrum, who sounds like a Highland laird, and a Czech citizen named Petr Noscak, which explains why the project is being built by a company from his homeland.

(Though does it make economic sense to bring workers and machinery half way across Europe?)

Given the name change, The Llyn Brianne contract might be the only one the company has. The latest accounts (or in this case, balance sheet), up to 31 December 2018, tell us that H2O Power Towy Ltd has a Capital and Reserves figure of -£106,258.

The latest statement of share capital, dated 20 May 2016, shows that there are two shareholders. Wendy Campbell-Lendrum owns 20 shares and the other 80 are held by Renfin Ltd, a company with an office in Prague.

THE RUSSIAN CONNECTION?

Renfin appears in the Offshore Leaks Database, after featuring in the famous Paradise Papers. Renfin is also quoted on the Bermuda stock exchange, from where I was able to access the 2017 Financial Statements (y/e 31 Dec 2017).

And who prepared this statement? Why, it was Ernst & Young LLC . . . of Moscow.

Click to enlarge

Renfin may be a Russian company, with a Czech window on the West, from where money is passed through various offshore banking locations, and from there on to ‘investments’ around the world. For if we look at page one of the E & W statement we see addresses in the British Virgin Islands, Caymans, Malta, Cyprus, Bermuda, and of course, Russia.

There is also a Renfin Hydro Ltd, formed last November, which provides another Czech link in the form of sole director, Jan Tosnar. Tosnar seems to have started a number of hydro companies last November. Remember, it was also last November that Hydro Electric Development Ltd morphed into H2O Power Towy Ltd. It’s reasonable to assume these events are connected.

The Czech mates (geddit?) team up in another company I unearthed, this one called Afon Las Hydro Ltd. This company began life at The Studio, Trevissome Park, Truro TR4 8UN, when it was called Mi-Grid Developments Ltd.

In February 2015 Mi-Grid moved to, c/o North Wales Hydro Power, Limited Rural Enterprise Centre, Stafford Drive, Battlefield Enterprise Park, Shrewsbury SY1 3FE. The name was changed in April. With the Shrewsbury address only used for a few months before Afon Las began using the H2O Power Towy address in Hertfordshire.

In the panel below, taken from the latest accounts, note the reference to Renfin, which may be a Russian company, which appears to have loaned money to Afon Las, or may be using Afon Las for some other purpose. Also note ‘Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd’!

For we now have Afon Las Hydro Ltd and Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd (formerly Renfin Ltd). And let’s not forget Renfin Hydro Ltd. With Jan Tosnar as director of all three. Rather confusing, isn’t it? Maybe that’s the whole point.

But where is Afon Las?

Well, there’s an Afon Las that runs into the Mawddach not far from Llanfachreth. But the hydro scheme there is the work of a local farming family, and there is no connection with Afon Las Hydro Ltd or Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd.

The Afon Las we need is near Llanberis. Where we find both Afon Las Hydro Ltd and Czech company Hydropol Project and Management. Hydropol is the company working at Ystradffin, and it has another Welsh project on Afon Claerwen, near Rhayader.

Enough. Afon Las was a bit of a digression, but still interesting. Now let’s head south, back to Twm Siôn Cati country.

FEEDING FRENZY

There are still other companies involved but it’s difficult to understand where they fit.

For example, in this report from the South Wales Guardian of August 2015 we read ” . . . the project has now been taken over by Hydro Electric Power Ltd(?) with support from Ellergreen Hydro Ltd”. So who are Ellergreen Hydro? And what ‘support’ were they giving?

Ellergreen Hydro is based in the English Lake District and seems to be part of a group of companies bearing the name. These are run – in various guises and through assorted holding companies – by the Cropper family, headed by Sir James Anthony Cropper.

Then there’s Environment Systems Ltd (ES), based in Aberystwyth, with a website in English and Spanish. ES seems to be a company of environmental consultants, though its website hasn’t been updated for a while with regard to the Tywi hydro project.

Image courtesy of Environment Systems Ltd.. Click to enlarge.

The directors of Environment Systems Ltd are Graeme Summers and Steven John Keyworth. As is the way in such matters, both are directors of other companies. In this case, the companies are: Everywhichway Ltd, Ecology Matters LtdEcology Matters (Wales) Ltd and, finally, Ursula Agriculture Ltd,

What I suggest we see here is ‘environmentalist consultants’ who’ve flooded in since it became clear that Wales was to be England’s greenwash colony, covered in subsidy-generating wheezes. We can expect a tsunami in future thanks to England’s management team in Corruption Bay setting out its priorities in the recent National Development Framework.

UPDATE: Having been contacted by Steven Keyworth of Environment Systems Ltd I feel confident in stating that he and his business partner, Graeme Summers, have not received loot from exotic locales. Their role was peripheral.

But now events up in rugged north Carmarthenshire take another twist.

THE BIG HOUSE?

I’ve mentioned Ystradffin, the substantial farmhouse and outbuildings close to the hydro scheme below Llyn Brianne, so naturally, I wanted to find out who owns the place.

According to the title documents lodged with the Land Registry, Ystradffin was bought in November 2016 by Edward Augustus Bishop, of Newbury, Berkshire, for £2,210,000 with a loan from Barclays Security Trustee Ltd. That’s a lot of moolah for poor land in a remote area. I assume there’s a considerable acreage involved, but I was unable to check because there was no plan available with the Land Registry.

UPDATE: Someone, perhaps the estate agents, decided to call the property ‘Towy Valley Farm’. More information, including a map is available here. This information makes it clear that the hydro project belongs to Ystradffin.

Yet it all seems kosher enough . . . except that Barclays Security Trustee Ltd, while apparently part of Barclays Bank, is a relatively new company, Incorporated with Companies House 19 June 2017. So how could could it have provided the money for the purchase of Ystradffin in 2016? Obviously the loan must have come after the purchase. Maybe buying the property from Bishop, or at least, reimbursing him.

For now it gets really interesting.

Go back to the title document and scroll down ’til you reach the panel shown below, on the last page.

Click to enlarge

First, you can see (9) that the property is now leased to The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Now this is an England-only department, for its role here is devolved to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

The next paragraph (10) is even more interesting. For now we read that the Beneficiaries of this lease agreement are the SoS just mentioned, plus the Ministry of Justice Estates Directorate. As the name suggests, the MoJ estate is made up of prisons and the like. (‘Zone 4A’ means zone A on the fourth floor of 102 Petty France.)

Prisons are of course not devolved.

So why the hell would the Ministry of Justice Estates Department have an interest in a Welsh farm way off the beaten track, miles from a main road? They surely can’t be thinking of putting a prison there; so is some other kind of institution planned. Maybe a gulag, for malcontents and dissidents!

If so, I demand a well-appointed, south-facing cell with WiFi, 72″ screen TV (subscriptions for all sports channels). And I don’t wish to be woken before 10:30. The coffee had better be good, and don’t skimp on the Malbec!

CONCLUSION

I can hardly believe what I’ve just written. But something strange is going on in Twm’s old stomping ground. First we have a hydro scheme being built by a Czech company that may be using Russian money; and then, not far away, we have the government department responsible for prisons taking an interest in a very remote farmhouse.

And how many companies need to be involved in small hydro schemes – is everybody entitled to a slice of Wales?

The truth is, boys and girls, that we Welsh own less of our land today than at any time in our history. We have less control over our lives than at any time in the past. All we have is a bunch of arseholes and their hangers-on down Corruption Bay putting a gloss on a colonial system.

(Did I say, ‘arseholes’. Where would I have picked up such a naughty word? I am sorry, boys and girls. Forget you heard it.)

While I’ve been writing this I’ve been wondering if the Ministry of Justice Estates Directorate had the courtesy to inform Comrade Drakeford and the bruvvers that they had taken an interest in a remote Welsh farm.

If they did, what was the response from the ‘Welsh Government’? And if they weren’t informed, do Drakeford and his gang have the balls to now ask what the fuck is going on at Ystradffin?

♦ end ♦

UPDATE: If we look again at the final paragraph of the Ystradffin title document, and the mention of The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, there, in brackets, we see, ‘ESMCP Programme Director’. So what is ESMCP?

The short answer is that it stands for Emergency Services Mobile Communication Programme, a new system being rolled out across the UK, for police and other emergency services to have faster and more secure communications. Ystradffin might seem an odd location for such an installation, but not if there is to be a prison or detention centre there.

Someone also sent me a link to planning consent granted in January last year for a two-storey, three-bed house for an agricultural worker at Ystradffin. The application apparently came from the owner, Mr Bishop, with the agent named as the legal firm Carter Jonas. The architects who drew up the plan are also based in Shropshire.

Thanks to the ‘Welsh Government’s decision to save the planet and encourage just about anything ‘Green’ envirospivs from all over Europe are flocking to Wales.

Yet there’s little benefit to Wales and the Welsh.

 

 

Three sides of the same coin

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

A quirky title, you may think, but it will serve for these three tales that, in their differing ways, offer insights into the damage being inflicted on Wales by the Labour Party.

But I stress that they’re three distinct stories, so you can take them one at a time.

HOUSES OF MULTIPLE OCCUPATION – HOW MANY DOES WALES NEED?

We begin in Port Talbot, where the playful zephyrs carry that heady mix of motorway traffic fumes and steelworks belch. (For as anyone who reads the popular press will know, steelworks always ‘belch’ smoke and fumes.)

Let’s home in on 20 Olive Street in Aberavon, where there is a change of use application to convert a house in this residential street into a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO). Locals are very much opposed to the proposal.

(As a matter of interest, Olive Street is not far from Dic Penderyn’s grave.)

On the application document I’ve linked to you’ll see that the applicant is ‘Joe Furneaux’, and the address given is in Upper Killay, where Swansea peters out into Gower. So I got to wondering about ‘Joe Furneaux’.

I couldn’t get very far in my investigations until I realised that his name is actually Jonathan Furneaux. And it soon became obvious why he might wish to generate confusion about his identity, for he has a chequered business record.

To be specific, two companies that are no longer with us. The first, Picton Street Management Company Ltd, was dissolved in March 2014, though Furneaux ceased to be a director 22 March 2010. The second, Phoenix Property Acquisitions Limited, was dissolved April 2014, after Furneaux had baled out 10 March 2010.

Both companies gave their address as 44 St Helens Road, Swansea. You’ll see that the second of them went bust with no less than 11 outstanding charges.

If we look more closely at those charges we see properties in Ferndale, Tylorstown, Penrhiwceiber, Pentre, Ebbw Vale, Abertillery, Nantyglo, Llanhilleth, Aberdare.

(Maybe some readers can give me feedback on these properties, for the addresses are all given in the charges. For example, are they now residential properties?)

Towns that have been abandoned by self-styled ‘Welsh’ Labour. Where the economy is depressed, where people (those who haven’t left) have either given up or got angry, and where we find the lowest house prices on this island. Ideal locales for ‘investors’ to buy properties in which to house ‘problematic’ (for neighbours) – but highly profitable (for them) – tenants.

A scam encouraged because it shows how ‘caring’ we are – ‘Socialism, innit!’ While also exposing Wales’ poverty – which is always blamed on the Tories.

What a way to run a country! But back to ‘Joe’/Jonathan Furneaux.

This is definitely our boy, but of course there’s no mention of the failed companies, and ‘Joe Furneaux’ was never a company name. Click to enlarge.

To confuse the picture, Phoenix Property Acquisitions Limited may have been dissolved in April 2014 but in February 2015, Phoenix Property Acquisitions Ltd was born. This company did nothing – apparently – and was was compulsorily struck off in July 2016. The address used for this brief reincarnation was 39 Park Place in Swansea city centre.

So we see that in addition to the Upper Killay address Furneaux has also used addresses in the city centre. Though both of the earlier companies began life in Hartfield, a village near Tunbridge Wells, which is where I think Furneaux is based.

For I believe he lives in England and uses accommodation addresses in Swansea. I say that because if this (below) is the same man, then his day job may be with Palatine Homes Ltd of Berkshire.

Click to enlarge

This company specialises in bespoke, upmarket dwellings in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, a world away from the Labour fiefdoms of Swansea, Port Talbot and the Heads of the Valleys.

Furneaux joined Palatine Homes in March 2016. Now that he’s got a few bob together perhaps he’s making a come-back.

(If the Jon Furneaux of Palatine Homes Ltd is not the ‘Joe’/Jonathan Furneaux active around Swansea Bay, then I shall be happy to delete this reference.)

And he’s doing it with a company set up as recently as March this year, Horizon EXP Ltd, with a ‘postbox’ address in Dorset. For this is the company that bought 20 Olive Street, Aberavon for £43,000 in July. Now Furneaux wants to convert this small, mid-terrace house in a residential neighbourhood into a four-bed HMO.

For no better reason than idle curiosity I scrolled down the planning application and was surprised to read (in section 27) that the owner, on 27 June, was a Samuel Hawking. ‘Who he?’ I asked myself, and eventually turned up this website.

Click to enlarge

As I say, the date on the planning application, giving Hawking’s ownership, is 27 June 2019; while the date on the Land Registry document tells us that Horizon EXP Ltd, i.e. Jon Furneaux, bought the property 19 July 2019.

So did Hawking get the ball rolling for a HMO and then sell the property, or was the sale of 20 Olive Street provisional on him initiating the process for Furneaux? Given that Hawking might be a relatively large fish in the Swansea Bay property market, I incline towards the second possibility.

And I use the term ‘Swansea Bay’ because I also turned up a planning application in the city itself, in Plasmarl. Where a 4-bed mid-terrace property owned by Jonathan Richard Furneaux (with a loan from West Bridging Ltd) is to be converted into a 5-bed HMO.

Click to enlarge

Plasmarl, where my father was born and raised, is not one of the more salubrious quarters of the city, having much in common with the post-industrial Valleys’ towns we looked at just now. In earlier times Plasmarl was home to many of those who worked in the valley below.

The Lower Swansea Valley (before my time, just). Click to enlarge

Plasmarl, where the ‘Golden Boy’ was born and raised. And where I sank many a pint in the Smelters, and the Coopers, and the Imperial, and ‘Y Cwrcyn’. (No one knew why it was called Y Cwrcyn, but as the real name was The Ivorites Arms, and there were other Ivorites not far away, it served a purpose.)

No mean neighbourhood, Plasmarl. But before I get too nostalgic I’m going to end with a few questions:

  • Why has a man with so many unpaid debts returned to Wales to go into the Houses of Multiple Occupation racket?
  • Does the company to which he owes so much money know he’s resurfaced?
  • What’s his relationship with Sam Hawking?
  • Do the local authorities involved know exactly who they’re dealing with in these applications, and all the possible ramifications?
  • What rights do locals have when threatened with a HMO near to them?
  • Do the planning committees so ready to give permission enquire where the residents of these HMOs in Aberavon and Plasmarl (and elsewhere) will come from?
  • Does the ‘Welsh Government’ have concerns about cheap property in deprived areas being converted into HMOs and hostels to house persons from outside of Wales?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Upper Killay house, 13 Edgemooor Close, is owned by a Roy Anthony Griffiths of Worcester.

BURRY PORT CARNIVAL COMMITTEE

This next story takes us west, west of Llanelli in fact, to Porth Tywyn (in English, Burry Port). A town I know quite well; in fact, I stayed there for a few nights very recently.

This report is different to the topics I usually cover in a number of ways, but it still fits because it’s about the abuse of influence and the misuse of money, with the Labour Party central to the tale. For all those involved are councillors, candidates, members, supporters. Indeed, it’s suggested that the reach of the Labour Party explains how this scandal has festered for so long.

I have been given the full names, and relationships, of those involved, but I’ve decided to use initials. Those involved will recognise themselves, of course, and locals will be able to identify them. While those who don’t know the area can understand the issues raised without having to know the principals’ names.

Porth Tywyn. Click to enlarge

In a nutshell, a small group, made up it seems of two families, monopolises fund-raising activities in this small town. Money is ostensibly raised for the community, and yet most of it seems to be unaccounted for. And I am talking now of what is said to be hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The points below represent a summary of the information supplied to me in the words of a source. I have made a few additions or clarifications

1) Burry Port Carnival has been around for some 20 years and is driven by S. M. In the early years all money was paid into her personal bank account and no accounts were produced.

2) Members of the community were involved and some became members of the committee but they didn’t last long.

3) More recently, in the past 5 years or so, the committee is made up almost entirely from two families. The M. and F. families. This consists of S.M., her husband, her daughter and her grandchildren. Also A. F. and L. F. It is believed that there is one non-family committee member, D. D., the nephew of Cllr J. J.

4) S. M., A. F. and J. J. are serving Labour Party councillors. L. F. is an active member of the Labour Party and was a failed Labour candidate for a recent Pembrey Ward by-election for the town council.

5) Members of the community are now saying that unless you are a family member and a member of the Labour Party you will not be allowed on the committee. This seems to have some weight as a recent member of the committee, L. M., was ousted as soon as she got elected as an independent town councillor 5 years ago.

6) The committee will state that anyone can apply to join but nobody does because they know that they would not be accepted or, if they are, they won’t last very long. The general view is that this is more like a family business than an inclusive and transparent community organisation.

7) The Carnival Committee not only organise and run the annual carnival but in season, April to October, they run the weekly car boot sale in Burry Port. It has grown to be the largest in mid and west Wales.

8) Some conservative estimates are that the income from the car boot sale alone ranges from £40,000 to £50,00 a year. (Ed: This is explained by over 100 stalls paying £7 for a car, £10 – 12 for a van, £15 for anything bigger. But no receipts are given, just ‘raffle tickets’, which I assume to mean cloakroom tickets.)

9) The annual Carnival has also grown and income from that is not recorded.

10) (Those involved) also run the annual Christmas Carnival, an annual dog show and vintage car show as well as a number of minor events.

11) They do not give receipts to any who enter the events. They do not give receipts to any stall holder, car owner or sponsor. More recently they started issuing a raffle ticket from various different books to car boot pitch holders. (Ed: The ‘raffle tickets’ referred to earlier.) They have been frequently observed collecting money and putting it in their pockets.

12) No one knows how much they collect but they are quick to publicise a handful of very small grants that they give to local groups, (Grants of a few hundred pounds only) They have also funded around a dozen defibrillators in the community at around 1,200 each. No one knows where the rest of the money goes.

13) They do not publish any audited accounts and they do not publish any annual report or minutes of meetings.

14) Any accounts or financial statements they may produce may not be worth very much if they do not issue any receipts to back up their income.

15) In the meantime, the F. family have gone from L. F. being unemployed and A. F. having a small stall in Carmarthen market, to having three shops and three businesses in Burry Port. S. M. and her family have just bought a villa with a swimming pool in Spain.

It would be easy to dismiss this report as an example of small town squabbling. But given the quality of the sources, and the amounts of money involved, I know there’s substance to it.

So I call on those involved to produce what they should have been producing all along – minutes of meetings, correspondence, bank statements, audited accounts, and an explanation for the status of their operations. For nothing seems to be registered with either the Charity Commission or Companies House.

Which inevitably gives rise to suspicions that this is a cash-only operation held together by family loyalties and protected by the power of the Labour Party.

UPDATE 08.11.2019: The local media is taking an interest. Here’s a report from Wales News Online, and earlier today I was contacted by a reporter who seems to work for both the Carmarthen Journal and WalesOnline.

Reading through the WNO report I have to say that those involved don’t do themselves any favours. They admit to giving out cloakroom tickets as receipts, but will give real receipts to “those who request them”!

When the awkward questions about accounts and record-keeping were asked the carnival committee kept referring to paying-in books at the bank! A strange response because these would only tell what was paid in, not what was collected.

When asked about the legal status of this money-making operation WNO was told that the carnival committee is a “constituted forum”. It may be, or that may be an excuse used to justify not being registered with the Charity Commission or Companies House.

In related news, two of those involved have resigned from the town council citing ‘bullying and harassment’ for their decision. Who the knows the truth with this lot?

TRANSPORT FOR WALES

Last week a news story appeared concerning the ‘mangling’ of Welsh place names in railway announcements. I picked the story up on Twitter and my comment explains my thinking on the subject.

Click to enlarge

I wanted to make that point because in the NorthWalesLive article a spokesman for Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) waffled about, ” . . . deep concerns . . . basic failures . . . unprecedented for a public service” . . . and, in effect, said nothing.

Which chimes with my experience of language activists over half a century in that they’re hot on abstractions and visibility, but unconcerned with employment issues unless it’s them losing out. Jobs for working class Welsh speakers don’t concern them, which tends to betray the ‘look-out-for-number-one’ attitude of too many. This attitude explains the rise of Rhodri Williams.

When I put out that tweet last Monday I had no way of knowing that my argument would be backed up so quickly.

The announcements on trains are given out by the guard. Now, quite obviously, if the guard has no understanding whatever of the Welsh language, then passengers will hear, ‘Clanvervekan’ (Llanfairfechan) and ‘Makynceth’ (Machynlleth). The way to avoid this is obviously to employ local people.

But this is not what happens at the moment. And there are no moves to recruit locals, in fact, things could get a whole lot worse.

For I have it on impeccable authority that Transport for Wales is recruiting thirty new guards for the Central Wales line and the Cambrian Coast line. The recruitment is being carried out in Shrewsbury.

This news has been met with anger by railway employees in the area affected, because it means that there will be no Welsh staff recruited for guards jobs on Welsh railway lines, and that can only result in an inferior service.

(And a more expensive service. For English staff have taxis paid for them to join their Welsh trains. This is happening now!)

So not only will we have to endure more of ‘Clanvervekan’ and ‘Makynceth’ but, being ignorant of the area they won’t know the request stops, or the bus connections, or anything.

Take a look at the map below, the railway lines are in red and the green lines represent TrawsCymru bus services. Just look at the number of request stops between Barmouth and Porthmadog! Imagine the nails-on-blackboard mangling of Morfa Mawddach and Dyffryn Ardudwy; and then, just before Abbaerk, we’ll hear the announcement for Penny Chain.

Click to enlarge

And yet, it could all be avoided by recruiting Welsh people to work on Welsh railways. Why is that so difficult?

Seeing as Transport for Wales is a not for profit company, wholly owned by the Welsh Government” I would like the ‘Welsh’ Labour ‘Government’ to tell us why it allows this company to practise recruitment policies that insult our native language, lose us jobs, and provide us with an inferior service.

Or are we supposed to just shrug it off and accept this discrimination as yet another example of ‘Welsh’ Labour betraying the Welsh people?

CONCLUSION

Picking up on something he may have read by Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de Lamartine nineteenth-century English scribbler Lord Acton is usually credited with, ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

While I’m sure he was thinking of despots and emperors strutting their stuff in his own time that line can equally apply to the Labour Party in Wales. For too many in Labour regard privilege, patronage, and outright corruption as theirs by right. The prize for coming first.

This belief gives us cronyism, rigged elections, the third sector, self-advancement, local ‘mafias’, unregulated lobbyists, parachuted candidates, the arrogance to argue that black is white . . . in the poorest country in Europe.

The Labour Party benefits itself, but fails the nation. It’s therefore time to bring to an end Labour’s century in the sun. Anyone outside of Labour siding with these gangsters on spurious ideological grounds is no better than Labour.

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales: a statement

Regular readers will be familiar with the Weep for Wales series of posts which has proved to be so popular in many circles.

It all started in June last year, soon after I received reports on the behaviour of Paul and Rowena Williams, who had run the Knighton Hotel (Knighton) and the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne. They owned other pubs and hotels over the border.

Both Powys establishments had closed following their alleged sale to convicted fraudster and acquaintance of the Williams couple, Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge, in February 2018. For by now the couple had moved up to Gwynedd, where they’d bought the imposing Plas Glynllifon.

Paul and Rowena Williams. Click to enlarge

The series continued with further reports and reached Weep for Wales 11 on December 3. In a couple of updates to that post I introduced Myles Andrew Cunliffe, who seemed to be taking over the Williams’ businesses in north Gwynedd.

I was preparing for Christmas when, on the 22nd or 23rd, I received a letter from a Chester solicitor demanding that I take down everything I had ever written about Paul and Rowena Williams. Here’s the letter and my response.

The arrogance of this letter was breathtaking – did they really think that after all the information people had given me, and after all the research I’d done, I would just throw my hands up and say, ‘Fair enough, I’ll scrub it all’.

My next mention of Plas Glynllifon and those associated with the old pile was in Weep for Wales 11a, of February 5. With Weep for Wales 12 coming out on March 18.

Then, on March 26, I received a letter from Myles Andrew Cunliffe, hand delivered after dark. Here’s the letter and the envelope.

Click to enlarge

That it was delivered by hand suggested this was a, ‘We know where you live’ kind of letter. I mean, seeing as Cunliffe had my address he could have put a stamp on the envelope and posted it.

The letter itself was a rambling attack on me and my “slanderous and dangerous blog”. Apparently I had attacked Cunliffe, threatened him, and put his family in danger. Absolute bollocks. I’d never even mentioned his family . . . unless he’s related to the Williams gang.

Myles Andrew Cunliffe. Click to enlarge

Uncertain of who or what I was dealing with, and how far Cunliffe and his associates might be prepared to go, I pulled Weep for Wales 12 together with Weep for Wales 11a and the updates to Weep for Wales 11.

Throughout the Weep for Wales saga I’d received strange and menacing comments to the blog. Towards the end of June these took a more sinister turn when I was told, “I know where you live expect a visit soon keep looking over your shoulder”. (Punctuation!)

(Here’s a link to the comments received to the notice put up in place of WfW 12.)

This was reported to North Wales Police, who were given the background and context. I made it clear that I didn’t wish to make a case of it yet, but I wanted my concerns logged. Everything is now on record.

I have put back the updates for Weep for Wales 11, plus Weep for Wales 11a and Weep for Wales 12. I did this because I’m just too old and too pissed off to be threatened by shyster lawyers in border towns enjoying a parasitic relationship with my homeland and the ‘businessmen’ they represent.

That said, if anyone can prove that something I’ve written is incorrect then, fair enough, I’ll make the necessary changes. But anyone demanding that I take down everything I’ve ever written might as well enclose an application form to join the Labour Party.

Solicitor’s letter and application form will be treated equally.

As you’ll know, this blog has two main themes: the first is exposing the corrupt and incompetent politicians and others to be found in Cardiff Bay, county halls and other locations across the land; with the second being investigating the shysters who come to Wales to enrich themselves at our expense, be they the parasites of the poverty industry (third sector), or out-and-out crooks like the Williams gang.

These two strands should be separate, but no, for they have a symbiotic relationship.

‘Welsh’ Labour encourages the poverty industry in order to provide jobs for party cronies, the favour returned by the third sector painting a picture of poverty that can be blamed on ‘London’/Tories in order to keep people voting Labour.

The utter incompetence at all levels of officialdom in Wales and the inability to build up an economy results in magic bean salesmen flooding over the border to grab the grants and anything else that might be on offer – this to be dressed up by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ as ‘investment’, and jobs.

A perfect example would be Gavin Lee Woodhouse, of whom I have written more than once. He first appeared on this blog in April 2017. Woodhouse was welcomed with open arms; not only was he given hundreds of acres of public land in the Afan Valley for the ‘Adventure Resort’ he planned with Bore Grylls, he was also awarded a grant of £500,000 for the Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy Valley, one of a number of hotels he owned in Wales.

‘Is there anything else you’d like, Mr Woodhouse, sir?’ Click to enlarge.

In the BBC report I’ve linked to about the Afan Valley Adventure Resort you’ll see that Woodhouse and his imaginative business methods were investigated earlier this year by ITV News and the Guardian. It had to be this way because the mainstream media in Wales either gave Woodhouse a free ride or else acted as cheerleader.

I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but apart from this blog and Econews West Wales I don’t think any media platform or outlet in Wales questioned Woodhouse’s bona fides. That’s because, with a few exceptions, the ‘Welsh media’ operates in a colonialist fashion by relaying the London line while not stirring up the natives with too much bad news, relying on press releases from the likes of Woodhouse, Cunliffe and Paul Williams to pad out the business pages.

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that just before Paul and Rowena Williams washed up at Plas Glynllifon Woodhouse had been sniffing around, but pissed on his own chips when his company MBI Hotels announced that the place was to be renamed ‘Wynnborn’.

Very soon after this debacle Woodhouse resigned as a director of MBI Hotels, returning in March 2017 after the company had been renamed Giant Hospitality Ltd.

For like so many others I write about, Woodhouse is or has been involved with over a hundred companies, which keep changing their names.

And it’s made so much easier for them because Wales is so corrupt, because officialdom is so inept, because Wales has no functioning media, and no effective political opposition.

I believe Wales is in such a mess, with things about to get even worse, that somebody has to tell it like it is. That’s why I do what I do. And that’s why I shall now start work on Weep for Wales 13, which will be published next week.

It’s going to take a considerable amount of work because so much information has piled up in recent months. Anyone with information on any of the players can contact me at editor@jacothenorth.net.

Any lawyer considering getting in touch on behalf of any of the stars in this series really should think again. Anyone minded to issue threats can rest assured that they will be reported to North Wales Police.

Stay cool!

♦ end ♦