Sep 122018
 

Seeing as no one knows what kind of Brexit the UK government wants, and because so much of what you’re reading and hearing on the subject is either biased or just ill-informed, it falls upon Uncle Jac to shed a little light on the matter. Because there are implications in Brexit for the unity of the UK, and these are already being addressed with covert strategies that may be reported in the mainstream media but are not identified for what they really are.

To make the best sense of what follows you must understand that the whole debate has moved beyond Brexit to the point where it is now about two unions, the EU and the UK, and also the future of the Conservative and Unionist Party. Not to be outdone the Labour Party is also confused, but there we also find other issues at play.

BREXIT AND THE MAIN POLITICAL PARTIES

The EU referendum was held on June 23, 2016. For a number of reasons I voted to leave. Explained here in EU Referendum: Why I Want OUT! with my celebratory thoughts contained in Brexit, Wexit: Things Can Only Get Better!

The overall UK vote was 51.89% Leave to 48.11% Remain. In Wales 52.53% voted Leave. By comparison, Scotland voted 62% for Remain.

Since then, from the UK government, it’s been a revolving stage of pantomime, tub-thumping jingoism, farce, soap opera and slapstick, but now, as the end approaches, things are beginning to take a darker turn.

But before getting to the creepy bits let’s consider where we are with the main UK political parties.

EU membership has been a divisive issue within the Conservative Party for half a century or more. In the hope of settling things prime minister David Cameron announced in February 2016 that there would be a referendum. He also stated that he would be campaigning to stay. When he lost, he resigned.

Since the referendum it has been almost impossible to separate what passes for ‘negotiations’ with the EU from the ongoing civil war within the Conservative Party, with the internecine fighting being a prelude to the inevitable leadership contest.

We’ve now reached the stage where it seems to be the incumbent Theresa May versus Boris Johnson. ‘Bonking Boris’, reviled by ‘progressives’ and opposed by many in his own party. Yet Tories of a more pragmatic bent may see him as a winner.

Not least because Boris Johnson has achieved that priceless political status of being universally recognised by his first name. How many politicians today can say that?

And don’t forget that Johnson was elected mayor of multiracial London in 2008, beating Comrade Livingstone, and increasing his share of the vote in getting re-elected in 2012, again by beating Livingstone. There will be a number in the Conservative Party who’ll see a lesson there for a future tussle with Comrade Corbyn.

At the time of writing this the elite against whom I and many others voted in June 2016 is pushing for a People’s Vote on the “final Brexit deal”. Having lost the vote in 2016 they’re hoping for a re-run and a different result . . . but believe me, it’s got sod all to do with ‘the People’.

If that headgear is compulsory then this campaign is doomed (click to enlarge)

The English Labour Party in Wales is generally supportive of this initiative because by and large our MPs and AMs want to remain in the EU. But their leader is proving more cautious, for Jeremy Corbyn seems to understand better than his Wales-based representatives why Labour voters in the post-industrial areas and the lower socio-economic brackets voted for Brexit.

Corbyn is reluctant to further alienate this white working class, and so, sure of the loyalty of his Momentum base, and believing that his ethnic minority and middle class voters have nowhere else to go, he seems to have concluded that the best option is to keep ’em guessing.

Others in Labour are less reticent about speaking out against Brexit and in favour of a second referendum. Here in Wales Labour politicos have reminded us how much money we’ve received from the EU, which doesn’t really help their cause because too much of that money has been frittered away by successive Labour management teams in Cardiff docks with no discernible benefits accruing to the areas in need.

But what the hell! – we’ve got the biggest third sector money can buy.

Carwyn Jones however is now prepared to articulate a possibility that others would rather leave unsaid. Laid out in a Times article on Monday headlined, “Brexit, handled badly, contains the seeds of the UK’s own destruction”. This article was a trailer for a speech Jones gave to the Institute for Government.

He’s not alone in seeing the possibility of Brexit breaking the UK apart – it’s one of the reasons I voted for Brexit – but I’m sure he takes the side of his Tory masters and will do his best to maintain the Union. Why change the habit of a lifetime?

But Carwyn’s masters are not blind to the danger either, and are implementing measures to counter the threat, certainly in Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland is, as ever, different.

IRELAND

Without knowing anything about the Flight of the Earls, the Plantation, Partition, or even the Troubles, most people are vaguely aware that the politics of ‘Ulster’ or the Six Counties is dominated by whether this part of Ireland should remain in the United Kingdom or whether it should join the rest of the island.

(Though this does not apply to Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who seems to have imagined a homogeneous population made up of individuals who take a pin into the polling booth.)

As things stand, those wishing to stay part of the UK remain in a majority, but a majority being whittled away year on year by demographic trends. So that by 2030 there will probably be a Catholic majority and a referendum on reunification could choose a united Ireland.

Brexit has added a new ingredient to the mix and might accelerate reunification.

Because the prospect of a ‘hard’ border after the UK exits the EU will not only be bad for business, it also raises fears of a return to violence. This has resulted in a number of people hitherto opposed to a united Ireland prepared to consider that option in order to stay in the EU. And let’s not forget that Northern Ireland voted by 56% to 44% to Remain. The only party pushing a Leave vote was the Democratic Unionist Party, predictably following the BritNat line.

The border as it used to be . . . . and might be again? (Click to enlarge)

Yet one of the alternatives, that of somehow keeping the Six Counties within the UK and the EU by having the customs border somewhere in the Irish Sea, has Mrs May’s DUP allies shouting ‘No Surrender!’ and strapping on their Lambeg drums.

The other option seems to involve no change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and a ‘soft’ or invisible border, with customs checks carried out by technology that doesn’t exist, or possibly by leprechauns.

The question of whether there should be a united Ireland could of course be resolved with a referendum, allowed for in the Good Friday (or Belfast) Agreement (Schedule 1,2). But the power to call such a vote rests with the Secretary of State. As we’ve seen, at the moment that is Karen Bradley, who thinks people in the Bogside don Orange sashes when the humour is on them.

So we’re in the absurd position of the Secretary of State having the authority to call a referendum , ” . . . if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.” Which, when you consider it, is a very good reason for the British government NOT to call a referendum.

The political situation is further complicated by the fact that the Northern Ireland Assembly collapsed in January 2017 and seems unlikely to get back on its feet any time soon.

There is little the British state can do to influence things in Northern Ireland for a number of reasons: 1/ the Republic’s government keeps a close eye on events; 2/ Ireland is now crucial for the EU because it will soon be a land border; 3/ there’s the interest from the USA, for no American politician can ignore the Catholic Irish-American vote.

And as I’ve suggested, the UK establishment is resigned to losing Northern Ireland in 10 or 20 years time anyway due to ‘the revenge of the cradle’, so the worst Brexit can do is hurry up that process. While never having to deal again with Northern Ireland politicians is a prospect most civil servants welcome.

SCOTLAND

In Scotland, things are very different.

The 2014 Scottish independence referendum gave the UK establishment one hell of a fright and may only have been won at the last minute by the intervention of senior politicians promising everything short of independence in The Vow. Though Brexit is causing a rethink for the man behind it.

The Scots voting to Remain coupled with the growing prospect of a ‘hard’ Brexit is increasing support for Scottish independence. This has prompted the UK state go on the offensive. It’s worth focusing on two, ongoing elements of this attack.

First there’s the crude and unambivalent ‘Britification’ campaign, most visible in the packaging of Scottish goods with the Union flag. In the image below we see whisky and, even weirder, that quintessentially Scottish delicacy, haggis, branded as ‘British’!

But the alternative name for whisky is Scotch. Can you imagine anyone going into a bar and saying, ‘Give me a large British, barman’? Which might get the response, ‘A large British what, sir?’ As for haggis, branding it with the Union Jack is liable to lose sales because people might think it’s counterfeit, something like Albanian ‘champagne’.

click to enlarge

In the main it seems to be the supermarkets at fault rather than the manufacturers, for I’ve read that Lidl and Aldi, the German chains, have stuck with Scottish branding.

I can imagine a meeting deep in the bowels of Whitehall between representatives of the main supermarket chains and high-ranking civil servants to discuss ‘promoting a sense of shared Britishness in these difficult times’, and perhaps achieving the objective without even mentioning Scotland.

(But I warn them now, if they come to put a Union Jack on my laverbread they will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.)

The other point of attack has been the allegations against Alex Salmond former leader of the Scottish National Party and former Scottish first minister. Let me say that I don’t know whether these allegations are true or not, but the motivation behind them is crystal clear.

I first understood what it was all about watching Newsnight soon after the story broke. It had been broken by the Daily Record, the Scottish version of the Daily Mirror, and therefore the mouthpiece of the Labour Party, once dominant in Scottish politics but now languishing in third place as the Unionist vote coalesces behind the Tories.

The assistant editor responsible was a cocky Ulsterman named David Clegg, and without knowing his background I would hazard a guess that he has never voted for Sinn Féin. He was positively bouncing at being interviewed over his ‘scoop’ . . . and then something rather strange happened – he kept talking about Nicola Sturgeon, Salmond’s successor in both positions!

The light bulb flashed above the old Jac noggin, I took a sip of Malbec and nodded sagely.

And so it came to pass that where there had been unity of purpose in a political party determined to achieve Scottish independence, now they were at each other’s throats! Or at least, that’s what newspapers were reporting. And desperately hoping that the Scottish public would believe it.

click to enlarge

What we see in Scotland suggests that secret polling has confirmed the British government’s worst fears – the Brexit cock-up has created a majority for independence.

Added to the blatant BritNat bias the BBC in Scotland has exhibited for some years we now have government-controlled newspapers in a constituent part of a democracy. Were this happening anywhere else it would be reported, and condemned . . . by the very media outlets that have so readily submitted to government control.

What absolute hypocrites!

WALES

Here in Wales the Britification campaign has been less obvious and offensive, partly because we have less indigenous produce to be plastered with Union Jacks, due in large part to the unwritten rule that says any successful Welsh company is only allowed to reach a certain size before being taken over by an English rival.

That said, the campaign has taken other forms, two examples will suffice to explain what I mean.

To begin with, early last year that most colonialist of ‘Welsh’ organisations, Cadw, announced that there was to be a ring of steel erected near Flint castle to celebrate the 2017 Year of Legends, one of the regular, tiresome, and often insulting tourism marketing ploys.

Ring of Steel is an obvious reference to the castles built by Edward I to encircle Gwynedd and subjugate its inhabitants. Cadw knew this. The proposed structure was soon dubbed ‘The Anus of the North’, an epithet that then seemed to transfer to Ken Skates, the hapless minister for culture or some such in England’s Cardiff management team.

click to enlarge

After a public outcry, political opposition, and a petition that attracted 10,000 signatures in a matter of days, this squalid and deliberate attempt to celebrate English conquest was dropped.

But then came the renaming of the Second Severn Crossing as the Prince of Wales Bridge. Again, this was widely opposed, with little support from within Wales, but it went ahead in a secret ceremony.

The renaming idea is attributed to Alun Cairns, the oleaginous Secretary of State for Severnside, but I’m not so sure. I believe the idea came from the same source as the ‘request’ for supermarkets to smother Scottish produce under the Union Jack. Cairns was only too happy to oblige.

Alun ‘Tippy-toes’ Cairns is now one of the most ridiculed and reviled politicians in Welsh political history, even more so than some of his predecessors such John Redwood; for while we expected no better from them, Welsh-speaking Cairns is viewed as a turncoat.

Having mentioned Severnside, the renaming of the bridge and the removal of the tolls will begin what we are asked to welcome as the great property bonanza in the south east. In practice, no bridge tolls and cheaper property prices on the Welsh side of the bridge will encourage a population movement into Wales.

Replicating what we see in the north as commuters from Manchester and Merseyside are guided away from exclusive communities in Cheshire into the commuter communities planned for the A55 corridor.

Maybe we should now add Gwent to this map (click to enlarge)

These machinations on the part of the UK state, coupled with the cowardice and incompetence of the English Labour Party in Wales has predictably resulted in a reaction.

In the past couple of years we’ve seen the emergence and growth of YesCymru, the launch of new party Ein Gwlad, and the realisation within Plaid Cymru that a hard left party obsessing over issues that mean nothing to 99% of the Welsh population is going nowhere.

There can no longer be any doubt that there is a Britification agenda operating in Scotland and Wales. Because the BritNats driving the Brexit process are awake to the fact that if they win they risk the Union. More moderate elements can also see the risk to the Union and even though they might oppose Brexit they have little alternative but to join in the Britification offensive.

Yet Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and the rest must push ahead because their political reputations and their places in history are now tied up with Brexit. They cannot afford to fail. If they succeed, they know it will be easy to use the rallying-call of ‘Save the Union’ to reunite the Conservative Party, and leave the other parties no alternative but to fall into line.

The real worry is that the Britification and dirty tricks we’ve seen so far in Scotland and Wales could be nothing compared to what we might experience after the Brexit shit hits the fan.

♦ end ♦

Aug 012018
 

I am grateful for the co-operation of Ms Clarke in the writing of this article

A long and completely unnecessary ordeal came to an end yesterday at Cardiff Crown Court for Jenny Lee Clarke, who had been accused of theft by Swansea East Labour MP Carolyn Harris. I have reported on this case more than once over recent years, but for latecomers to the story, here’s the background.

Before the 2015 UK general election both Carolyn Harris and Jenny Lee Clarke worked for the Swansea East Labour MP Siân James. Some time in November 2014 Harris humiliated Ms Clarke over her “dyke boots” before attacking her and pulling out clumps of hair. This being just another – if perhaps the worst – in a series of incidents of Harris seeking to insult and humiliate Clarke over her sexuality.

We have evidence for this behaviour in the fact that Siân James MP spoke to Harris, warning her about making homophobic remarks.

Witnesses to the attack included Labour councillor Paulette Smith (Clydach), who gave evidence at the trial.

Harris asked Clarke to forgive her and perhaps in the hope of confirming her remorse made Clarke her office manager after she became the new MP for Swansea East in May 2015. The rapprochement didn’t last long. Following a grievance raised on January 15 and ignored, and then eight hours spent giving a statement to the police on January 27, Clarke was sacked on January 28.

Her replacement is alleged to have found evidence that Ms Clarke had given herself an unauthorised pay rise and also shortened her working week by forging Carolyn Harris’ signature on a form to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). This was the charge against Jenny Lee Clarke.

Left, Carolyn Harris MP Lab Swansea East, Jenny Lee Clarke Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge. (That is definitely NOT Carolyn Harris’ comforting hand you see on Jenny Lee Clarke’s shoulder.)

Clarke insisted this had been done on the instructions of the new MP, arguing that “She (Harris) never liked paperwork. She left me to do everything.” As for the form ‘discovered’ by the new office manager, Clarke is adamant, “I didn’t sign it – I just wrote her name. Many letters and other forms have my writing on them – I have never attempted to write her signature, not at all.”

Interesting in this context is a document Jenny Lee Clarke compiled from her diary and from where we learn that as early as 2013 Carolyn Harris seems to have bullied her way into control of Siân James’ office, and by April 2014 we can see that Ms Clarke was not happy with being told by Harris to deal with IPSA.

12.04.12 – C.H demanding I do IPSA……..the rates were paid £1693. L.B £862.50. Reconciled Barclay Card

May 2012 – completing database of IPSA claims

06.01.14 – Was going to speak to C.H regarding I.P.S.A I wasn’t comfortable!

(The ‘L.B.’ referred to is Lawrence Bailey, former Swansea mayor and porn addict, PR advisor to Carolyn Harris , and of course columnist for the pro-Labour – to the point of being swivel eyed – Evening Post.)

Ms Clarke informs me she will be contacting IPSA asking that body to re-open its investigation into certain cash withdrawals made by Harris.

Understandably angry with the way she had been treated over many years, culminating now in her dismissal, Jenny Lee Clarke went to the media with the story of the assault she had suffered in November 2014. Most ‘papers went with it. Here are reports from the Telegraph, Daily Mail, Sun, and Pink News.

The story was also covered in Wales, but with an interesting twist. A day later than the London ‘papers WalesOnline ran the story, but now the emphasis had shifted – it was no longer a homophobic attack but a case of fraud. With Carolyn Harris (or the public purse) now the victim.

Click to enlarge

Which is when it gets a bit curious, and rather disturbing. Martin Shipton told us that police are ‘probing’ the office manager Jenny Lee Clarke, but where did he get that information, and should he have used it in such a blatant attempt to save face for Carolyn Harris, and the Labour Party?

Whatever the source of Shipton’s information, his report was the first Ms Clarke knew of any investigation. Is that any way to find out that the police might soon be knocking on your door? Four months eventually passed before Ms Clarke was arrested on 24 July. Charges were not laid until October.

Yet Gypsy Rose Shipton knows all!

Then followed a series of delays as the case was put off time after time until it eventually came to trial in July 2018. Should it ever have taken so long? Was there interference from the South Wales Police PCC, the former Labour MP, Alun Michael, in this very political prosecution?

Come to that, did Michael have a hand in deciding that Clarke’s complaint of January 2016 was classed as common assault, and therefore – due to the fact that the complaint was made more than six months after the alleged offence of November 2014 – could not be proceeded with? A different offence, with a longer expiry period, could have resulted in Harris being prosecuted.

Though given that the offence being complained of was a homophobic assault, and therefore clearly a hate crime, why didn’t South Wales Police arrest and charge Carolyn Harris?

While Jenny Lee Clarke was sinking into depression, not knowing whether she might end up in prison for a crime she hadn’t committed, the MP for Swansea East was busy preparing for the trial by ingratiating herself with the Gay community.

Click to enlarge (Carolyn Harris is in the centre)

Now the obvious question is – how many such events did Carolyn Harris attend before she was outed as a homophobe in the London newspapers? Ms Clarke tells me that she cannot recall Harris taking anything other than a hostile interest in Gay matters before the prospect of a trial loomed.

I suppose we could give her the benefit of the doubt and believe that Harris’s persistent and very public homophobic rants were some kind of defence mechanism, her desperately holding the closet doors shut. With the mauling she received at the hands of the London prints triggering the burst of emotional energy that allowed her to emerge.

An alternative, and less charitable view, might be that she’s another scheming politician who went through the motions of befriending gays and others because she thought it would come in useful when she had her moment in the witness box. ‘Homophobic! Moi?’

I understand Jenny Lee Clarke is considering suing Carolyn Harris for unfair dismissal, sexual discrimination and a few other relevant charges. I wonder if Mrs Harris’s new Gay friends will rally to her defence?

If I was Ms Clarke I would also lay a complaint against the police for not properly categorising the offence so clearly described to them in eight hours of questioning at Swansea Central police station on January 27, 2016.

There are just so many questions needing answers. Here are just a few:

  • Where, how and with whom did the decision to accuse Jenny Lee Clarke begin? (And I mean accuse, not prosecute.)
  • Will there now be an investigation into whether Carolyn Harris or anyone else knowingly made false accusations?
  • Should IPSA – and perhaps the police – investigate how Carolyn Harris organises her office and her staff, to establish if she delegates work in ways that make her staff – on her instructions – break the law, or House of Commons rules?
  • After her complaint made on January 27, 2016, why did South Wales Police not pursue what was clearly a hate crime?
  • Will Jenny Lee Clarke receive an apology from South Wales Police for putting her through the wringer for over two years for what was clearly an accusation motivated by the desire for revenge?
  • Will Jenny Lee Clarke receive an apology from the Labour Party?
  • Did the trade union Unite properly advise Ms Clarke during the period of her dismissal? What Ms Clarke described to me as “shit representation”. Might Unite have been more concerned with protecting the reputation of a Labour MP and the wider party?
  • Will anyone compensate Jenny Lee Clarke for what she’s endured?
  • Will Martin Shipton of Labour-supporting Reach (formerly Trinity Mirror) tell us how he learnt that Jenny Lee Clarke was being investigated before she herself knew?
  • Jenny Lee Clarke lives in the Gower constituency. Will her MP Tonia Antoniazzi stand up for her constituent and condemn the disgraceful treatment Ms Clarke has received over the past two years?
  • Is Carolyn Harris’ position as Corbyn’s spokesperson for women and equalities any longer tenable?
  • Is Carolyn Harris’ position as deputy leader of the Labour Party in Wales any longer tenable?
  • Can Carolyn Harris remain MP for Swansea East?

STOP PRESS! I hear that back in the city of my dreams the book is open on Carolyn Harris’s successor. Front runners are:

Nicola Louise Edwards, 31, who failed to get elected for the Gowerton ward last year but is said to be fiercely ambitious. Being the grand-daughter of the formidable Lillian Hopkins, and daughter of current councillor Dai Hopkins (Townhill), she is not without influence in the now smoke-free rooms.

Also mentioned is council leader Rob Stewart. As it was put to me, “He’s got no job, lives on his own, so why not”. Call me picky, but I might demand better qualifications from my tribune. But then, this is Labour, and this is Swansea East . . . currently represented by Carolyn Harris. What more need I say?

The rank outsider is former Llansamlet ward councillor, former Sunderland North MP, Hero of the Revolution, Bob Clay. During his brief sojourn in Swansea he drew up plans to remove Harris but now faces expulsion himself. Given his vieux compagnon closeness to Corbyn he might yet gallop over the Briton Ferry Bridge at the head of his Trotskyite legion to scatter the hated Harrisites. (Unless the bridge is closed to traffic, as is so often the case.)

Then again, there are widespread fears that Carolyn Harris will take some shifting. Which I can well believe.

The real issue here, as with so many of the other problems in Wales today, is the Labour Party. The old, decrepit and corrupt Labour Party.

Reminiscent of some mangy old predator that can still stand upright and make a bit of noise but is no longer able to fend for itself, surviving only due to the weakness of rivals and their inhibiting memories of the fearsome beast it once was.

But now, as the end approaches, the truth can no longer be hidden. Labour is finished.

This episode is just another footnote to the volume that lists corruption financial and moral, careerism, cronyism, refusal to serve the Welsh national interest, turning Wales into the pauper of Europe, willing participation in the Britification agenda, mismanagement of public funds including the inability to recognise a shyster when he approaches with a flashing neon sign on his head saying – ‘SHYSTER!’

It’s time to put the old beast out of its misery; and with it the fleas, parasites and bloodsuckers that compound and exacerbate its decline and our misery. For it no longer has the power nor the will to serve Wales. We’d be better off without it. As in the wild, he will soon be replaced and forgotten.

P.S. At the time of publication the only article on the WalesOnline website – and in the Western Mail – is the same PA report by Rod Minchin that appeared on the BBC Wales website and elsewhere. No doubt something more forensic and informative by Gypsy Rose Shipton will eventually appear.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 02.08.2018: There has been no official response from the Labour Party in Wales, there’s certainly nothing on the party’s woefully neglected and rarely updated website. All I’ve been able to find was in a piece in today’s Llais y Sais by Martin Shipton after he’d asked for a comment. It reads:

“We were told (by ‘Welsh’ Labour) there had already been a full and thorough investigation into the allegations against Mrs Harris, that the jury’s verdict was not a verdict or a comment on the veracity of the allegations made during the course of the case, and that Mr (Carwyn) Jones has full confidence in Mrs Harris as his deputy leader”.

What the hell does that mean? They still believe that Carolyn Harris didn’t mount a homophobic attack on Jenny Lee Clarke? And that’s it? A woman has been acquitted by a jury – in just 90 minutes! – of very serious charges made against her by a senior Labour politician. Suggesting that that politician was lying and trying secure the conviction of an innocent woman.

But instead of dealing with the trial and its implications, ‘Welsh’ Labour prefers to focus on an incident that may or may not have happened but is materially unconnected with the trial and the accusations made against Jenny Lee Clarke.

‘Bad news – what bad news?’

Jul 252018
 

Time to take a wee break from the Glynllifon Gang before it does my head in. Yes, I know I have referred to them in the past as the ‘Williams-Partridge Gang’ but I’m coming round to the view that Keith Partridge is a minor player in this particular criminal enterprise.

I now have so much information coming in from so many sources, and so much information is already piled up, that were it not for the help I’m receiving from my friends in Mother Russia I really would be struggling.

благослови вас Бог, владимир владимирович

The Wasting Mule today ran a piece from the Royal Welsh Show on the continuing row over the labelling of Welsh food produce as British rather than as Welsh. Though whoever wrote the headline obviously doesn’t understand the issue.

Pay attention! it’s not about British food being promoted over Welsh products, it’s about Welsh produce losing its Welsh labelling and being branded as British.

(Here’s a link to the WalesOnline version where the 77th Brigade – CyberWarriors – is out in force.)

click to enlarge

Anyway, the Mule sent reporter Laura Clements to Llanelwedd to write a piece about the issue. Laura Clements who is still studying journalism and normally covers the Rhiwbina and Llanishen areas of Cardiff, where farming and food production is big business. Not.

According to her Twitter profile, when she isn’t studying to be a journalist she’s either running or cycling. Or possibly drinking coffee. But there is no mention of farming or food production, let alone the labelling of food produce, anywhere in her interests or her field of knowledge

Which means that a fitness fanatic student journalist, who normally mooches around the mean streets of Rhiwbina and Llanishen, is sent to cover a politically sensitive story related to food. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the headline for a start. Though I’m not blaming her for that.

Clements’ report, which I’ve produced above, included interviews with three people. So let’s look at what they had to say, and more importantly, who they are.

Laura Clements sets out her stall with the introduction: “On the ground, producers did not seem as concerned about the banding and wanted to concentrate on selling as much produce as possible”.

HENRIETTA HENS(C)HER

First up to the podium is Henrietta Hens(c)her representing Llanllyr Source Water in Ceredigion, which produces expensive water, and even more expensive mixers by adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that to the water.

Henrietta was reported as saying: “I think it’s a great shame that the word ‘great’ is being twisted for political means”. By whom she thinks it’s being twisted, she didn’t make clear. She continued, “Whether you voted to leave or remain at the EU referendum, we are still one country”.

I think we can guess what she’s suggesting when we learn that Henrietta is a Tory politician who – as Y Cneifiwr told us – believes Carmarthen East is a one-party state because the natives vote for Plaid Cymru.

Though it should be said that Henrietta doesn’t actually work for Llanllyr. No, she has her own company called Simply Welsh Cakes, or maybe it’s less a company and more a crowd-funding exercise. Perhaps it recently emerged from its cocoon as Simply Welsh Restaurant and Farm Shop Ltd.

Seeing as it took wing as recently as April it will be interesting to see how long it flies.

Her Linkedin profile (available here in pdf format) tells us that she also works as a consultant, which explains her presence at Llanelwedd on the Llanllyr stand.

Going further down her Linkedin profile we see some fascinating entries taking us back to Stowe School, one of England’s most prestigious and expensive public schools.

Though one entry absent from the profile is the time she spent as General Manager at Foyles of Glasbury, an establishment which had been known for centuries as the Maesllwch Arms Hotel. The dropping of this ancient name caused widespread anger.

Predictably, the ‘Welsh’ Government – in the manly and toothsome form of Ken ‘Flint Ring’ Skates – gave the name-changing owners a grant of £150,000.

At 1:45 in the video Henrietta talks of the nearby Wye, famous for its trout and salmon. Yet a short time after this video was posted on YouTube the hotel was fined for serving up “ordinary fish” as Wye-caught produce. An obvious example of mis-branding.

I am not for one minute suggesting that Henrietta Hens(c)her was responsible for misleading customers over what fish they were paying for, and where it came from, but she was the general manager at around the time the offence took place. And as I say, ‘Foyles’ is a significant omission from her Linkedin CV.

I don’t want to be too hard on Henrietta, some of the stuff I’ve read suggests there may be hope for her, but then, when the bottle’s empty, she comes across as just another middle class English dilettante with fall-back family money of whom we have too many in Wales. From the harridan at Happy Donkey Hill to the hippies being encouraged to build what they like where they like (and sod planning permission!).

The paragraphs in the Wasting Mule report that follow Ms Hens(c)her’s contribution are a little confused, they were obviously not proof-read, so let us press on.

OUR FLAG IS “A BIT OF A PROBLEM”

Castle Dairies seems to be a genuinely Welsh company, based in Caerffili. However, the product development manager, Marcus Beards, who was representing the company at the Show, thinks there is a problem with the Welsh flag.

The report told us that Castle Dairies has undergone a “major re-branding to try to appeal to a wider UK market”. It would be reasonable to conclude that Beards is the architect of this ‘re-branding’ because he was quoted as saying, “We felt the Welsh flag we used on our packaging was a bit of a problem and restricted sales in England”.

So is he saying English people don’t like seeing our flag, or that when they see it on produce it suggests something inferior? Or does it tell us that Beards is a bigot? Which is it, Marcus?

I don’t know the answer even though I have spoken with him today. I telephoned Castle Dairies at 15:48 and asked for Marcus Beards, I was put through, I gave my name, explained I am a blogger, asked why he felt our flag is “a bit of a problem” – and he put the phone down!

I don’t know who Marcus Beards is, he seems to have no internet presence before today, but the accent wasn’t local and so I’d like to know more about him. Someone out there must know.

And maybe Castle Dairies can explain why they employed someone with such a mindset.

MYSTERY ICE CREAM

The third to voice an opinion was “Brian Bowman, owner of Cowpots ice cream, who hadn’t noticed the Defra branding above him”.

“Mr Bowman laughed at the suggestion that the Welsh brand had been lost”, Laura told us, “we’ve got bigger problems than that to sort out in the world”, he added. An odd thing to say, but obviously Brian Bowman of Cowpots ice cream wasn’t at all worried that his Carmarthenshire-produced ice cream was losing its Welsh identity.

So I went to the Companies House website to find out more about the company and those running it. But there’s nothing there. No Cowpots company and no Brian Bowman listed as a director.

Though there’s a website, and there’s a Facebook page, but neither gives much information about the company, certainly no company number.

But I was able to dig up this article from the Western Telegraph back in 2007 which tells us that Brian Bowman, his wife Mary Louise, and two sons Will and Martyn, moved to Wales in 2005 to Penback or Pen-y-back Farm near Whitland.

Bafflingly, something else I dug up on Linkedin mentioned a ‘Tasha Isaac’ as the ‘owner’ of Cowpots ice cream with William Bowman as her ‘partner’. All very strange.

But then – a breakthrough. I found that there is a 32-year-old Kim Natasha Isaac who is a director of West Wales Bacon Supplies Ltd of Cross Hands, also of dormant company Dragon Fine Foods Ltd. If she’s Tasha Isaac, are they now making bacon-flavoured ice cream?

click to enlarge

If not, what is the connection?

The title document for Penback Farm suggests that the business had money injected in 2014 from both Lloyds Bank and Carmarthenshire County Council.

This article from the Welsh Country website says that Penback Farm received a grant of £74,804 towards the new ice cream parlour and bistro. But a grant is a grant, there’s no repayment, so it can’t account for the charge on the title document. Did Carmarthenshire County Council also make a loan?

And if so, to whom or to what?

Because I’d like to who or what we’re dealing with in Cowpots ice cream. I’d like the registered name of the company, its company number, its directors, who owns it; and how much it or properties associated with it have received from the public purse.

CONCLUSION

This was a deplorable piece of journalism, even by the standards of the Wasting Mule. There was no attempt at balance; all three quoted were ambivalent or hostile to branding Welsh produce as Welsh. It’s almost as if someone selected them in advance to promote a certain viewpoint.

I find it significant that those interviewed at Llanelwedd by Laura Clements had all moved to Wales. They have come here looking for a better life, or to make money, but they don’t really care about Wales. They seem quite content to see Wales assimilated into England. In the case of Marcus ‘flag problem’ Beards he’s actively working towards it.

This is nothing more than crude and objectionable colonialism

But this is what we can expect from now on as the Britishness offensive gains momentum and scoundrels of all political colours prove Dr Johnson right. Today some MPs have even suggested updating the 1351 Treason Act, so look forward to ‘traitors’ like me getting banged up.

Here in Wales the process of Britification is well advanced. We’ve had the Mersey-Dee Alliance, the Flint Ring, Severnside, The Prince of Wales Bridge, etc., etc, so putting union flags on cheese is entirely predictable.

All happening to the background drip-drip of names being changed, our language being ridiculed, our devolution settlement being undermined, our existence as a nation and a country being questioned almost daily.

The choice is simple and unavoidable. Accept assimilation or fight for independence.

Sign up to Ein Gwlad and do it now!

♦ end ♦

 

Jul 232018
 

The anguished cry goes up from Cemaes to Chepstow, from Talacre to Tenby – ‘Will this ever end!’ 

The short answer is, I hope it will; but for me to get back to reporting on local flower shows, and telling you what Sharon’s mother wore at the wedding before she got legless and started stripping, there will need to be action from the police and various levels of government.

And while there are encouraging signs, and a growing mountain of evidence, the Williams-Partridge gang remains at liberty.

Even so, you’re assuming that there must have been some developments otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this latest instalment, and indeed there have. Not least a tearful – if unwilling – return to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel for Paul and Rowena Williams.

For anyone joining us for the first time I strongly suggest that you get up to speed with: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6.

Now read on . . .

WHAT A NUTTER!

And lo, it came to pass that on Friday July 20th Paul and Rowena Williams did return to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne whereto they had been summoned by Powys County Council, and the ‘Welsh’ Government; the former checking on what insults had been inflicted on this listed building and the latter ensuring that the money showered on the Gruesome Twosome for the ‘Rad’ and the Knighton Hotel had been properly spent.

Radnorshire Arms Hotel, click to enlarge

As yet, we don’t know what was said at the meeting (my Russian office is working on it), but things certainly got a bit heated when Paul Williams emerged. There were a few locals waiting for him. He approached one, and demanded, “Who are you, I’ve never seen you in here, have you ever drunk or eaten here, its people like you that forced me to close it down”.

He was clearly not in a good mood. He got particularly belligerent with this one particular local, and ended up belly-bumping him before head-butting him!

The gallery below shows a few scenes from last Friday’s tête-à-tête. Left to right: Paul and Rowena Williams, Paul Williams with the guy he nutted, two suits who arrived at the same time. Assure me they’re not working for the Williams-Partridge gang and I’ll remove them.

click to enlarge

From Paul Williams’ demeanour it would be reasonable to assume that the meeting with Powys County Council and the ‘Welsh’ Government did not go well, for him. Good.

Elsewhere, the Mid Wales Journal ran another piece, but the story has now been relegated to page 2. It also carried a reader’s letter pointing out the absurdity of Partridge in last week’s edition attributing the closure of the hotels to the hostility that had built up after their closure. The same arse-backwards logic employed by Paul Williams on Friday.

THE SCAM ADMITTED AND PROBLEMS PILING

Ignoring the distraction of the confrontation Paul Williams’ little outburst is interesting, and revealing, on a number of counts.

First, the man being addressed (and then nutted) was a regular drinker and diner at the Radnorshire Arms, but Paul Williams wouldn’t have known that because he was hardly ever there. I suppose when you’ve got a property empire to oversee, hotels to buy (often from yourself at ludicrous prices), and money to launder, you haven’t got much time to shoot the breeze with locals.

Second, Williams admits that he closed these establishments, so the ‘sale’ to Keith Partridge was a sham, as I always suspected. But maybe it’s worse than that because the more I think about it the more convinced I am that there was no intention to ever reopen the Radnorshire Arms or the Knighton Hotel.

The ‘sale’ to Partridge was a ploy to distract attention from Paul and Rowena Williams. And even without Paul Williams’ outburst last Friday, the evidence has always been there, staring us in the face.

Remember the letter staff received from Keith Partridge? It said: “Your employer is still the company, RRL UK Ltd” (Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd). Confirmed by Rowena Williams’ letter of 28 March. (Read both here.)

Yet on 1 April the gang (acting through or in the name of Michael Jones) tried to strike off Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. So those letters to the staff should have read: ‘We’re telling you you’re  employed by RRL UK Ltd – but we’re liquidating the company. Ha, ha!’

As I’ve mentioned before, the strike-off was halted by an objection from a public-spirited individual. Yet the Companies House website makes clear that the gang still wants to strike off this company.

click to enlarge

Some might argue that liquidating RRL UK Ltd could be the best option. The Radnorshire, the Knighton and the other properties would then be auctioned off and might be bought by people who want them to be successful.

The flaw in this reasoning is that they might be bought at auction by another Paul Williams. For he himself has bought properties this way; one was the Fronoleu, near Dolgellau, which we looked at in the previous instalment, work started we were told in 2015, and yet it remains an empty shell.

Further evidence that Partridge is simply fronting for Paul and Rowena Williams, is that the letter from heartbroken-to-be-leaving Rowena and ‘new owner’ Partridge were almost certainly written by the same person. The clue is in the bizarre date format “01st February” appearing in both letters.

And of course, with the portfolio including the Radnorshire and the Knighton not being sold to Partridge it means that Team Williams did not receive the £10m Partridge was said to have paid them for those properties.

Yet Paul and Rowena Williams are talking of spending £20m on Plas Glynllifon and £5m or more on Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, so where’s the money coming from?

The truth is they have no intention of completing the restoration of Plas Glynllifon. They’ll spend a little money on cosmetic effects, bring in some antiques and other fixtures, but as with so many of their ventures, from the Scottish border to Cornwall, the prize may be the land adjoining Plas Glynllifon.

Which is why I was so concerned to read, “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”.

So I call on Cyngor Gwynedd and Grwp Llandrillo-Menai to tell us exactly what is being discussed, or has been agreed, with regard to handing over land to Paul and Rowena Williams. I can understand the silence, it’s often difficult to talk with egg on your face, but the people of Gwynedd, Powys, and the rest of Wales are entitled to know the truth.

Aerial view of the estate with Plas Glynllifon in the centre, click to enlarge.

The other element of the scam will be raising money against the asset of Plas Glynllifon. With a building that size, and the land around it, they could hope to raise many millions of pounds in mortgages and loans. And when they took it over in 2016 – fresh from their triumphs in Powys – they were also expecting a few million pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government and/or Cyngor Gwynedd.

PAUL WILLIAMS, SOME MORE FACTS

Here are some random and often unrelated facts from a number of sources that nevertheless help to fill out the profile of Paul Williams.

  • In the previous instalment I quoted Paul Williams’ Linkedin profile (here in pdf) and his claim to have worked for eleven years for the Royal Mail, handling their property portfolio. Now I’m told this is yet more bullshit. Which raises the question, ‘What was Paul Williams doing before he emerged circa 2001 at Mortimers Cross Inn?’

click to enlarge

  • I mentioned the Goa connection in Weep for Wales 5, now I hear that Paul Williams’ father has a hotel there, but comes home three or four times a year. I’m also told that if you meet the father you’ll understand why the son is what he is.
  • The Badminton Club in Ebbw Vale was bought with cash. The attraction being the one-arm bandits and other gambling allowed at a private club. My source says that Paul and Rowena would travel down to Ebbw Vale regularly to empty the machines. (The income from which could be exaggerated?)
  • The Williams’ faithful lapdog Rikki Reynolds, now ‘running’ the Seiont Manor Hotel near Caernarfon, first worked for Paul and Rowena Williams at Mortimers Cross Inn. Later, either at the Knighton Hotel or the Radnorshire Arms, he was sacked for stealing some of the money that was lying around everywhere. Reinstated he is now part of the gang. Rikki is none too bright, a heavy drinker, a drug user, but loyal.
  • The Mortimers Cross Inn is also where they made the acquaintance of John Duggan the thieving accountant they have used to hide their crimes for a number of years. Can’t you just imagine the conversations Paul and John might have had of a winter evening around a roaring log fire, with Rikki swaying gently behind the bar!
  • The ‘Welsh’ Government has stated in a reply to Kirsty Williams AM that the Knighton Hotel received grants totalling £254,200 and Radnorshire Arms £225,000, but a source insists these figures are wildly inaccurate. The source is convinced that the Knighton alone received over one million pounds, and that Paul Williams used to boast that grants had paid for the place. Did the ‘Welsh’ Government focus on a single funding stream in order to mislead us?
  • For let’s not forget that even though Kirsty Williams is the local Lib Dem AM she also props up the minority Labour regime down Cardiff Bay. So she might not want to embarrass her coalition partners. Also worth remembering is that the reply she received came from Dafydd Elis Thomas, former Plaid Cymru AM, who is also helping keep Carwyn Jones and his gang afloat.
  • Fronoleu near Dolgellau was bought at auction in 2015 and paid for in cash. Over three hundred thousand pounds. A loan was then taken out against the property in 2018 with Together Commercial Finance Ltd. In the previous instalment I showed you plans that had been drawn up by an architect suggesting that work had started on Fronoleu in 2015. It was a lie, of course. Everything is a lie with Paul Williams. But worse, I’m told that this architect signs off projects funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government, saying that they have been satisfactorily completed. The architect concerned had worked for Paul Williams before Fronoleu, and possibly since.
  • But they had no intention of re-opening Fronoleu. It was just a way of laundering £300,000+. (And because it’s money laundering they’ll willingly pay over the odds.) This is how to get rid of dirty money and make more money on what you’ve bought. Money laundering also explains buying property from themselves at greatly inflated prices.

Fronoleu, click to enlarge

  • There was a delivery of new televisions to the Knighton Hotel one day, and even though hawk-eyed Paul Williams was on the premises – they were all stolen!
  • Paul Williams dismissed one member of his staff at 11pm on Christmas Eve in a telephone call from an airport where he was about to jet off for three weeks in Egypt!
  • One of his staff found a payroll file on a computer used by Paul Williams. Instead of names and numbers staff were identified by insulting descriptions of their physical appearance. I find this really weird, and disturbing.

PAUL WILLIAMS, THE MAN

Anecdotes and hard evidence continues to flow in from those who’ve had the misfortune to be involved with or work for Paul and Rowena Williams. (I used just a fraction of it in the previous section.) All of it helping to build up a character profile for Paul Williams.

To begin with, I’m convinced he’s a pathological liar for whom lies come easier than the truth. You just cannot believe a word he says. Often, he might not even realise that he’s telling lies.

When dealing with authority his strategy is to wear down the enemy by not replying to letters, e-mails and phone messages. Worryingly, this often results in the problem going away. Here’s a good example from Cornwall of how Paul Williams operates.

But if he is pinned down then he will agree to a meeting – but not turn up. Or agree to make a payment and not do so until he’s threatened with bailiffs or prosecution. With tradesmen and suppliers to whom he owes money he either ignores them or he threatens them with violence.

A number of people who’ve worked for Paul Williams tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, and attributed his lack of empathy to autism, before realising he’s just a complete cunt.

He likes to go to the limit, he likes to see how much he can get away with. It’s brinkmanship. He’s a gambler, a risk-taker. He might even get a rush from it.

He certainly enjoys cutting corners, cheating, putting one over on people, whether it’s his employees, the UK government, the ‘Welsh’ Government, local authorities, banks, tradesmen, suppliers, even taxi drivers delivering him home drunk.

I introduce the taxi driver because of a story I’ve been told about Paul, Rowena and Rikki Reynolds. A while ago a taxi delivered them to Seiont Manor and the taxi driver had to struggle to get his money because Paul Williams haggled over a £15 taxi fare!

Some might view Paul Williams as a likeable rogue for taking on public officials, banks and others, but when you learn of the little people he has hurt, humiliated and robbed, you realise he’s just a piece of shit.

APPEAL

A number of people over the years have had unhappy experiences with Paul and Rowena Williams. I’m already receiving information from many sources, but I suspect there are others who are no longer in Wales who could also provide information.

So I’d like to hear from Dan Pricop, Phil Higgerson, Mark McNicol and Paul Field. Get in touch with me at editor@jacothenorth.net. But the offer is open to anybody and everybody who will help to get this man and his associates their just desserts.

ROGUES GALLERY

The montage below shows, in the big picture, Paul Williams’ sister Debra Yvonne Oswald with her husband Stuart. Top right is Keith Partridge. Bottom right Sukhbinder Singh Heer, who is the other director of Leisure & Development Ltd along with Partridge and Williams. Quite what he brings to the party is yet to be established.

click to enlarge

You’ll note that Part(d)ridge and Heer became directors of Leisure & Development Ltd on 1 February 2018, which is the date Partridge is supposed to have taken over the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, the Knighton Hotel and other properties. But in both letters we’ve seen, staff are told they still work for Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, of which Partridge and Heer are not directors.

Has somebody slipped up, got confused with similarly named companies?

UPDATE 24.07.2018: There seems to have been a belated and rather clumsy attempt to resolve the anomaly of Paul Williams remaining a director of Leisure & Development Ltd following the alleged takeover by Partridge. Documents dated last Saturday (21.07.2018) but received at Companies House today (24.07.2018) tell us that Paul Williams has resigned as director. Also, that 10,000 shares in the company have been transferred from Plas Glynllifon Ltd to Partridge.

Which is just paperwork, designed to deceive. For I guarantee that no properties have been transferred from Paul and Rowena Williams to Partridge.

BOTTOM LINE

As I say, this is primarily a money laundering operation. The only question is whether Paul Williams is laundering money for others or for himself and his extended family. Maybe it’s a bit of both. We can add mortgage fraud and other crimes to the mix.

Properties are bought at auction, paid for with cash, or people in difficulty with their mortgage are ‘helped’ . . . before being elbowed out. Those properties, and nearby land, are then used to raise loans, sold to Williams companies at absurdly inflated prices, which then means they can take out more loans.

So dirty money is successfully laundered and more money is raised through loans against properties they have no real interest in, but it also means a growing mountain of debt, unless of course Together Commercial Finance Ltd is part of this scam.

Whatever the answer, if I was a business partner of Williams I’d be pissed off with him for attracting a lot of unnecessary attention. All he had to do was keep the Radnorshire Arms and the Knighton Hotel open and I would never have heard of Paul Steven Williams.

But then, I’ve described the sort of ‘fuck-’em-all‘ man he is, and because he thinks he’s smarter than everybody else, he’s become over-confident, and when you’re over-confident you make mistakes.

In Swansea, we call this hubris.

♦ end ♦

 

Jul 192018
 

Well I promised I’d be back, and when you’ve got a gift that keeps on giving . . .

As the title suggests, this is the sixth episode in a saga that I’m more convinced than ever will end in tears for the central characters. And they will be the authors of their own downfall.

If you’ve stumbled on this site looking for Viagra, or you wanted to lay a bet on Cardiff City winning the Premier League (well, laff!!), why not stay tuned, but first catch up with previous instalments, Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5.

LET’S GET UP TO DATE . . .

In what I assume was an attempt at ‘balance’ the Mid Wales Journal followed up its report of 6 July on hotels being abandoned by Paul and Rowena Williams and/or Keith Partridge with the report below a week later.

click to enlarge

In this we read Keith Partridge blame the neglect of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel on “foul and abusive notices” being found around these properties. He was also outraged by social media posts and web sites. (Some people, eh!)

These assaults on Partridge’s honesty, and his motives, have caused him and his cohorts, to “rethink our strategy”, with the outcome of the rethink to be given by the end of August.

What a load of bollocks! He shut the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel telling staff these hotels would be closed for a few months for refurbishment and re-branding. When it was seen that nothing was being done people started asking questions about Partridge, and a can of worms was opened.

The truth has now emerged about him, the accountant Duggan, and Paul and Rowena Williams. But Partridge is using the suspicion and hostility he and the rest of the gang have generated as justification for doing nothing.

My gut feeling is that it was never in the plan to re-open these hotels. But with so much evidence about the gang now in the public domain, and with politicians, media and many others asking questions, their plan has been rumbled, and they’re not sure which way to jump.

THE MAN HIMSELF

Companies House tells us that Paul Steven Williams was born 23.02.1969.

His Linkedin profile tells us that before becoming a hotelier and property tycoon he worked for Royal Mail for eleven years as ‘National Facilities Manager’. We are told that his, ” . . . responsibility covered the management, acquisition and refurbishment of the Royal Mails (sic) £5 billion portfolio of UK properties”.

The manner in which the job is described suggests that this is where he learnt about property, how to acquire, exploit and dispose of property, plus all manner of short-cuts and dodges. Doing this job he must have made many useful contacts in the property world.

If you go up towards the top of the Linkedin page you’ll see ‘Paul Williams’ Posts’, ten in all. I was particularly taken by one dated October 2, 2015 and introduced as “Our Next Hotel Project …………..is….” and it turns out to be the Fronoleu Country Hotel near Dolgellau. In case it disappears from the internet, you can read it here.

FRONOLEU

Upon reading that I thought to myself,‘Well, if this project was already under way in early October 2015 then it must surely be finished by now. So I shall hire me a charabanc and take a party of merry-makers up there!’

click to enlarge

But alas, when we got there, this is what we found! It was terrible! The shrieks of the women, the crying of the children, the men cursing – ‘There was football on the telly, you bastard!’ 

What went wrong? We were told this project was under way in 2015, Paul Williams even showed us the plans on his Linkedin post. Surely he wasn’t lying?

And yet, I can’t find any record of a planning application ever being submitted for this property, and I searched both the Gwynedd council and the National Park websites. To judge by what I saw when I visited, the place was cleaned out some time ago, and that’s all that’s been done. It was bought, gutted, and left to rot.

The only sign of recent human intervention was the cut grass to the left of the hotel, probably cut by whoever lives in the house just out of picture in the same direction. Particularly poignant, I thought, was the state of the three flags, resembling standards on some long forgotten field of combat.

click to enlarge

But how did Paul and Rowena Williams come into possession of Fronoleu?

Given the dates we already have in 2015 I suspect it was bought at this auction. The information given is interesting, and amusing. It tells potential buyers, “The more extensive amenities of Caernarfon and Bangor are accessible to the north respectively without saying that Caernarfon is over 40 miles away, Bangor further, and that Aberystwyth and Newtown are both nearer.

Obviously penned by someone who knows sod all about the area. Another give-away was calling Tabor a village, which is like describing Dolgellau as a metropolis. And while the former county town of Merioneth is indeed 1½ miles away – if you’ve got black, shiny feathers – it can only be reached from Fronoleu by risking the single-track unlisted road that runs to and from this isolated property.

(Our charabanc scared the shit out of a cyclist who reacted in the manner I suspect greets alien landings. I hope he wasn’t injured diving through that hedge.)

The ‘Joint Auctioneer’ is the Manchester office of Christie & Co. (Just can’t get away from Manchester, can we?) The sale was handled by Martin Davis, who has since moved on to Bilfinger GVA.

I’m sure Fronoleu serves some purpose lying empty and losing money but don’t be surprised if it catches afire or goes to auction again soon.

UPDATE: I hear from a council source that towards the end of last year council tax debts on Fronoleu had reached such a level that Cyngor Gwynedd threatened to go into Seiont Manor and seize ‘goods to the value’. This was averted only when £10,000 was paid over the phone by card.

GOOD WITH FIGURES

I’ve just mentioned John Duggan, who serves as the gang’s accountant, and works out of a shed in the village of Leintwardine in north Herefordshire.

Leisure and Development Ltd, the company we are asked to believe was sold for £10m to another crook, Keith Partridge, in February, was using Duggan’s shed as the company’s registered office address, but earlier this month the address was changed to the Knighton Hotel.

Can’t you just imagine Keith Partridge sitting down one morning to his kedgeree, switching on his tablet to read Jac o’ the North and exclaiming in a voice resonant of both shock and horror – ‘Well, bless my soul, John Duggan is a crook! Who’d have thought it . . . lovely man . . . such impressive offices at Unit 3 . . . We’ll have to take our business elsewhere . . . ‘

How they’ve been allowed to get away with it I do not know. Let’s stick with Leisure & Development Ltd for a minute. This company was formed 19 January 2015; then, in July 2015, no less than 7 charges were registered, these being loans from the National Westminster Bank. Yet the accounts submitted for that period, up to 31 January 2016 – by Debra Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister – are for a dormant company!

Clearly Leisure & Development Ltd was not a dormant company. And I guarantee that no responsible accountant or lawyer would have signed off that statement, so Paul Williams’ sister had to do it.

Though in fairness, the accounts for 31 January 2017 (or the ‘Unaudited Financial Statement’) were produced by an accountant – John Duggan, of J D Accountancy, Leintwardine.

EBBW VALE

An unlikely locale in which to find Paul and Rowena Williams, who specialise in country hotels, which then makes the former Badminton Club an even more unlikely purchase. But buy it they did and may have renamed it the Beaufort Sports and Social Club.

I’m not sure when they bought it, or whether it was through an auction – maybe someone in the area can help?

What I can say is that it was sold in December 2017 for a stated price of just £60,000.

Which then leaves the big questions:

  1. Did Paul and Rowena Williams initially buy the Badminton Club in their own name(s)?
  2. If not, when and from whom did Rural Retreats & Leisure acquire the property?
  3. Did Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd pay a strangely high price for the property?
  4. Was the property then sold at a loss?

GLYNLLIFON

Now we turn to the jewel in the crown, the reason given for allegedly selling the other properties to Keith Partridge.

The latest figure given for the Glynllifon project is £20m. Even if we accept that Paul and Rowena Williams received £10m for their other properties from Partridge (which raises the question of where he got the money), that still leaves a shortfall of £10m.

Fortunately, this money-pit is, according to The Caterer, being funded by the other Gwynedd properties.

We’ve already seen that Fronoleu isn’t making any contribution, and the only establishment that is open for business is the Seiont Manor Hotel. Run by Rikki Reynolds who, from the information I’ve received, seems either disinterested or out of his depth.

On top of which, Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch are themselves going to cost millions to renovate. As if that wasn’t enough of a financial burden, Paul Williams has told people he wants to ‘buy’ four more hotels in the area!

Picture courtesy of Daily Post, click to enlarge.

The figures don’t add up because Plas Glynllifon was taken on in order to raise more money. When everything eventually goes mammaries heavenwards the gang will drive off in brand-new Range Rovers, every glove compartment and other storage area stuffed with readies.

In the meantime, in the hope of persuading people that renovation is under way, Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor serve as repositories for fixtures and fittings looted from elsewhere.

And who’s to say the partnership will even hold? Because I hear of rows between Paul and Rowena Williams, with her often sleeping on an inflatable bed.

Face it, these people are crooks. Before long, as the NatWest Bank, HMRC and the police close in Gwynedd will be back to square one with a massive derelict mansion and a few smaller properties for which no uses can be found and no honest buyers.

UPDATE: Crooks they may be, but I’m sure they don’t have people whacked, which is a possibility that went through my mind when I was told about a ‘director’ who was there at Seiont Manor one day and was gone the next, never to be seen again.

The man I’m talking about is Mark McNicol, who describes himself on his Linkedin profile as ‘Operations Director – Rural Retreats & Leisure’, a job he’s held since April 2016. Which is a bit confusing, for Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd changed its name to Polvellan Manor Ltd in March 2015. (Surely they’d have told him?)

Otherwise, he must mean Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. This, you’ll remember, is the company the gang tried to strike off, so not much future there.

For some reason I can no longer reach his Linkedin profile, but fortunately I grabbed it earlier.

HMRC

Having mentioned HMRC I suppose I’d better explain why. It’s because Team Williams has a long-standing policy of paying in cash. Staff are paid in cash, suppliers are paid in cash, just about any deal that can be done in cash will be done in cash.

Inevitably, this means imaginative accounting – which is where Duggan of Cell Block B comes in – but documents still need to be produced. As I mentioned in the previous post, staff at Seiont Manor are given pay slips saying one thing (with no deductions for PAYE or NI), while the correct amount is paid by cheque.

I have now been sent some documents by former employees. This first one shows no tax paid while working at Seiont Manor. This individual is now paying extra tax to make up for the non-payment that is the responsibility of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. (A company whose accounts are done by John Duggan.)

click to enlarge

In another case, the salary was understated on the P60. In this example we are asked to believe that this person – earning £30,000 a year – was paid just £2,500 between November and April.

click to enlarge

I have other documents all pointing in the same direction. Documents I will be happy to make available to HMRC. Those who’ve supplied me with the documents are ready to fully explain how this illegality is perpetrated. And I’m sure they have much more to tell.

This gang is always cutting corners, always lying, always cheating somebody. That’s because they are liars and crooks. There’s a story emerging of the deal Paul Williams struck with a certain drinks company. Of course he’s reneged on that deal, and the thug who runs the Waves Bar for him/Partridge in Cornwall has threatened a representative of the company with violence if he dares ask again for what’s owed.

For as we learnt in Weep for Wales 5, the Waves Bar in Seaton, Cornwall, is run by Stuart Paul Cooper, another crook done for fraud. But Cooper also has a taste for violence, and regularly threatens to burn down people’s homes – with them inside.

That’s three convicted fraudsters – that we know of – working for or with Paul and Rowena Williams: Keith Partridge, who’s supposed to have bought the properties outside Gwynedd, and has known Paul Williams for years. John Duggan, their accountant, who fleeced an old lady out of £700,000. And ‘Burn-’em-alive’ Cooper down in Cornwall.

We are judged by the company we keep, and when you keep company like that . . .

NATWEST AND TOGETHER

Finally, one thing that’s been puzzling me is why any bank or finance company would lend money to these crooks. I suppose the easy answer would be that they’ve got collateral in the form of hotels and the fixtures and fittings they contain. But what if the value of those hotels and other property is greatly inflated?

Seeing as NatWest stopped lending to the companies run by Paul and Rowena Williams early in 2016, I guess warning lights flashed and somebody said – ‘Enough!’. A theory strengthened by news that NatWest in February 2017 was trying to ‘restructure’ the loans. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

The document you’ve just read relates to Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. It’s dated 2 February 2017. On the Companies House website, a day later, the registered office address was changed from Unit 3 in Leintwardine (John Duggan) to Plas Glynllifon. Had NatWest rumbled John Duggan?

Whatever the answer – and as I just mentioned in relation to Mark McNicol – in May this year there was an attempt by the owners to strike off the company, and with it of course the debt to the National Westminster Bank. The procedure was halted by an objection from a public-spirited citizen.

All of which tells me that NatWest is innocent of any shenanigans. It is a victim in this affair. But what of Together Commercial Finance Ltd, the equivalent of a pay day loan company that replaced NatWest? The more I think about the relationship between the gang and Together Commercial Finance Ltd the more I see a partnership. If so, who’s taking the hit?

While you ponder this and more you might care to peruse a sheet I’ve put together that lists the dealings of the Williams-Partridge gang in a timeline determined by the dates of the many charges against their companies interspersed with noteworthy events.

Stay alert out there and don’t swap your cow for any magic beans. You listening!

♦ end ♦

 

Jul 082018
 

Well, here we are again. And why are we here again? Because there have been further developments, that’s why. Some of them encouraging developments.

In addition, I’ve been doing a bit more thinking. Standing back, as it were, trying to take in the big picture, because what confronts us is designed to mislead and confuse. With companies forming and constantly changing names, addresses and directors. People taking out mortgages to buy property from themselves. Buy-outs that are probably nothing of the kind. And a web of lies designed to hide what’s really happening.

All made easier by the gullibility of politicians and media over a wide area and for a considerable period of time.

Fortunately, the fog is clearing.

If you’re new to this saga then to help you better understand what follows, I suggest you read Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3 and Weep for Wales 4.

NEWS FROM THE NORTH

There’s little official news but snippets continue to reach my penthouse office at Jac o’ the North Towers about how the Williams Gang operates.

The former head chef at the Seiont Manor Hotel was able to provide me with more information on the curious payment arrangements. In his case, pay slips reading £500 every month but much larger amounts – the agreed salary – actually going into his bank account.

He was also able to give me bank details for the source of the money. I won’t use that information here but any official agency interested in seeing the information is welcome to contact me. The head chef and his team were constructively dismissed in order to provide work for chefs moving up from the now closed Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne and the Castle Inn in Wigmore. Other staff were also elbowed out.

UPDATE 09.07.2018: After discussing it with the man concerned I have decided to release copies of the relevant documents. They’re not perfect pictures but they show payslips for March and May this year, with no PAYE or NI paid, and showing net pay of £500, with the corresponding bank entries for those months showing £1,973.00. Click here.

It seems that the Williams Gang likes to have ‘loyalists’ on the books . . . or should that be ‘off the books’? Whatever, another loyalist is the handyman, a local who’s made comments to my Facebook page, some of which he’s deleted. To believe Noel Jordan of Penygroes Wales couldn’t manage without people like Paul, Rowena, Rikki and the gang because we Welsh are too stupid to do things for ourselves. Speak for yourself, Noel.

Though Noel has stopped defending Team Williams, perhaps because it’s finally penetrated even his thick skull that they’re crooks. Now he attacks me for my FWA connections and my political stance, previously unknown facts he’s gleaned from – Phil Parry at The Eye. Well, laff!!

Something else the former head chef told me was that Rikki Reynolds, running Seiont Manor for Paul and Rowena Williams, doesn’t seem much concerned if the business makes money or not. Which I suggest confirms my theory – what’s important is the buildings and the money that can be raised on them or channelled through them, the businesses in those buildings are dispensable, as are the people working in them.

This explains why businesses in buildings owned by Paul and Rowena Williams just limp along or close.

So unconcerned is Rikki Reynolds about the state of the Seiont Manor Hotel that I’m told old furniture, televisions, fryers, and other junk litters the grounds, and the interior’s not a lot better.

Seiont Manor Hotel, click to enlarge

And if anything goes wrong you’d better try to fix it yourself because no local tradesman will answer the call until he gets pad for his previous visits. (Thank God for trusty, forelock-tugging Noel!) Bailiffs and others looking for money are regular visitors to Seiont Manor. Though come to that, they’re regular visitors to every Williams’ property.

UPDATE 09.07.2018: Here’s an example of an unpaid bill at Seiont Manor. One of thousands.

Before leaving the north let’s make a quick visit to Plas Glynllifon.

Someone sent me the picture below, which I’m afraid is not perfect, but still . . . it shows the small lake in the grounds of Plas Glynllifon with a sign reading ‘Beware of Sharks’ above a picture of Paul and Rowena Williams. I’m told that the hand behind the sign, reaching up, represents a creditor.

click to enlarge

ANOTHER TRIP TO CORNWALL

On our previous visits to Cernyw we have concentrated on Polvellan House or Manor in West Looe, now we’re going to the community of Seaton, a couple of miles along the coast towards Plymouth.

Like a bundle of other properties this is owned by Leisure & Development Ltd, the company we’re told was sold on 1 February this year to Keith Harvey Partridge, though Paul Williams remains a director.

The property owned in Seaton is listed on this Land Registry title document as The Pavilion, though it’s now known as the Waves Bar. Confusingly, it is also known as The Courtyard according to this Charge from 2016 referring to the purchase by Leisure & Development. It’s definitely the same place because it has the same LR title number. So why three names?

Whatever it’s called Leisure & Development paid almost two million pounds for it on 1 February 2016, which sounds rather high. But if it follows the pattern we found elsewhere then Paul and/or Rowena Williams already owned the place and sold it to themselves at an inflated price in order to get the mortgage money.

Another mortgage or loan was taken out 10 May this year with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle, after the alleged sale to Partridge. Which might be taken as evidence of the sale.

click to enlarge

Despite having sold the Courtyard/Pavilion/Waves Bar Rowena Williams still has a soft spot for the place, to judge by her Facebook page. Though little else is being posted nowadays.

But the reason we’re in Seaton is because someone assures me that the manager of the Waves Bar, Stuart Cooper, is this Stuart Paul Cooper.

click to enlarge

If Cooper the Waves Bar manager is indeed the same man referred to in the article, then that gives us three convicted fraudsters doing business with Paul and Rowena Williams. There’s Keith Partridge, then there’s John Duggan, their accountant, who featured in the previous post, and now Stuart Cooper.

This is no coincidence.

Finally, for those taken in by the Open Days at Glynllifon last month, someone in Cornwall tells me that the same stunt was pulled down there with Polvellan Manor. Now described as one of Cornwall’s most at risk houses.

UPDATE: Soon after putting this piece up I was directed to information relating to the Waves Bar. This information tells us that Cooper threatens to burn down people’s houses with them inside. Paul Williams thinks Cooper is a splendid fellow and defended him to the hilt when Devon and Cornwall Police tried to close down the Waves Bar.

If you want insights into the character of Paul Williams, the kind of people he employs, the way he runs his businesses, and his contempt for all authority, then it’s all here. Just scroll down to the section on Waves Bar. It’ll take a while to read it all, but believe me, it’s worth it.

UPDATE 09.07.2018: Here’s another worrying insight from Cornwall into Paul Williams’ modus operandi.

THE POWYS FRONT

Where it’s hats off to Mid Wales Journal reporter Karen Compton. We seem to have finally found a journalist who isn’t content with being spoon-fed the Williams’ lies. By comparison, the Daily Post has churned out one puff after another that could have been – and probably were – dictated by Paul and Rowena Williams.

click to enlarge

Congratulations to Ms Compton also for recognising that the ‘sale’ of the properties to Keith Partridge may be no more than a transfer of shares, just smoke and mirrors.

The Mid Wales Journal report states that the hotels owned by Paul and Rowena Williams – via Leisure & Development Ltd – were sold to “Keith Partridge of Coast 2 Coast Limited”.

There appear to be four companies answering to that name with which Partridge is involved: Coast 2 Coast Resorts Ltd; Coast2Coast Land Ltd; Coast2Coast Shores Ltd; Coast 2 Coast Developments Ltd. (Why no Coast 2 Coast Coasts Ltd?) Though Sukhbinder Singh Heer, who also joined Leisure & Development Ltd on the same day as Partridge, has no involvement with any of them. So how does he fit in?

Then there’s the Charge taken on against Leisure & Development Ltd, with shady lender Together Commercial Finance Ltd after the Partridge takeover, this is the Charge we looked at in connection with the Waves Bar in Seaton.

If this Charge explains how the purchase was funded then we are asked to believe that Partridge raised ten million pounds to buy these properties, at what must be crippling rates given his criminal record and the reputation of the lender . . . then he leaves a number of them empty!

As I’ve consistently suggested, the alleged sale of these properties to Keith Partridge was a subterfuge; done partly to take the heat off Paul and Rowena Williams, and partly to raise more money. Which explains why the Mid Wales Journal found it so difficult to contact any of them.

GRANTS

The Mid Wales Journal headline reads, ‘Assembly Acts Over Shut Hotels’, which I’m not sure is correct. What the report actually says is that the Assembly is looking into whether any public funding paid to the Knighton Hotel and the Radnorshire Arms Hotel can be recouped. Which to me looks a long way short of action.

We have since learnt from Kirsty Williams AM that under the Tourism Investment Support Scheme the Knighton Hotel received £254,200 and the Radnorshire Arms £170,000. This, remember, is just one funding stream, for it’s suggested that these two establishments received more than the figures just quoted.

What I find most disturbing in this aspect of the affair is the admission by the Minister responsible (a certain Dafydd Elis Thomas), ” . . . the applicant (Mr & Mrs Paul and Rowena Williams) failed to provide final post completion information despite numerous requests to do so”.

So Paul and Rowena Williams trousered £424,200, then refused to confirm that it had been spent properly, or at all; yet the ‘Welsh’ Government couldn’t be bothered to send a pith-helmeted expedition into darkest Powys to check. The conscientious civil servants handling our money just shrugged their shoulders and said, ‘Nah, sod it!’.

As I’ve mentioned, I have a FoI request with the ‘Welsh’ Government asking about grants to the Williams Gang and their properties. I got a reply asking me to stipulate which grants I was enquiring about, presumably in the hope I’d screw up and ask about grants for growing rape seed. But should I need to be so specific?

Are we to believe that there is no central reference for grant funding? That it’s impossible to type ‘Knighton Hotel’ or ‘Paul Steven Williams’ into a shared database and not be told how much grant funding they’ve received?  There used to a website called Transparent Wales(?) that provided this information at the click of a mouse, what happened to it?

A PLACE IN THE SUN

We’ve already encountered Paul Williams’ sister Debra Yvonne Oswald, who seems to have jetted about the world a bit, and may occasionally be found in Goa. ‘Goa!’, you cry, ‘Goa!’. Yes indeedy, the former Portuguese colony, now a state of India, destination for hippies and all manner of interesting characters.

But Debs is no hippy, she’s a businesswoman, and she has a company in Goa, Pleasant Time Guest Houses Private Ltd. though it looks like another of those companies that’s never done anything. Formed in November 2007 it held its last AGM 30 September 2014 and is currently lined up for strike off.

The other directors are Debra’s husband, her (and Paul’s) parents, and a Peter d’Souza, probably a local lawyer.

Goa. Wait! are those the chalets from behind the Radnorshire Arms?

Why would the Williams family want to start a company in a place notorious for being a gangsters’ paradise, where Nigerian, Russian and Israeli gangsters launder their money and do their deals? And with India being a country from which it’s notoriously difficult to extradite anyone to the UK.

TIME TO CLOSE THE TRAP

At the risk of repeating myself . . .

We have here a gang involved in some kind of financial crime. It could be mortgage fraud, it could be money laundering, it could be both. To which can be added a host of lesser offences, among them the non-payment of income tax and national insurance, or damaging a listed building . . .

A combination of sunshine, Argie red and digging into the antics of these crooks is making my brain boil. I’ve written over ten thousand words on these shysters – I need a break. So unless startlingly fresh information comes in I shall hold back on the Williams Gang until I write a more general update.

That said, there is now enough information in the public domain to justify action from the police, HMRC, the ‘Welsh’ Government, and a number of local authorities and other bodies.

I would suggest that this action be taken sooner rather than later. I say that because Paul and Rowena Williams must know the game is up, and so it would be reasonable to assume that they’re looking for a way out. They can’t go back, and there’s no way forward, so they’ve got to slip out through a side door.

They have enough money to go anywhere. So unless they’re pulled in pronto Paul Williams might soon be sunning himself on Calangute Beach in Goa, next to Sergei ‘Skullcrusher’ Ivanov, feared enforcer for the St Petersburg mob.

We’ve done enough weeping for Wales, let’s start doing something positive!

♦ end ♦

 

Jul 032018
 

I hadn’t planned on writing another instalment so soon after my previous effort but more information has come to light that needs to be put into the public domain.

If this is all new to you then I suggest you get up to speed with Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2 and Weep for Wales 3. It’s worth it, and I say that because this is developing into a saga of corruption the like of which Wales has rarely seen.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

We shall soon be in Cornwall, and Polvellan House or Manor, standing not far from the confluence of the East and West Looe Rivers, but first I want to take a little detour, my ‘andsome (as he slips effortlessly into dialect!).

On 9 July 2002 Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd (Co. No. 04480966) was Incorporated with Companies House. Perfectly natural seeing as Paul and Rowena Williams, the directors of the company – each holding 5,000 £1 shares – had bought the Mortimers Cross Inn near Leominster in October 2001.

After the sale of the eponymous pub to Punch Taverns in 2004/5 (at what is alleged to be a greatly inflated valuation), the company underwent changes in both directors and addresses, also names, becoming Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd on 14 March 2007, and Polvellan Manor Ltd on 17 March 2015.

Then something even stranger happened.

On 20 March 2015, three days after Rural Retreats and Leisure Ltd changed its name to Polvellan Manor Ltd, a company called Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd (Co. No. 09502597) was formed. The directors were Rowena Claire Williams and Leisure and Development Ltd, a company whose sole director was Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd.

Paul and Rowena Williams

Why form a new company with a name so close as to be easily confused with the former name of Polvellan Manor Ltd? Surely it’s not a deliberate attempt to confuse?

Rowena Williams soon got out of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, and following a flurry of activity in December 2017 (not notified to Companies House until April) the address switched from Plas Glynllifon to Polvellan House, and when the music stopped a certain Michael Jones found himself sole director holding all the shares.

Now I have no idea who Michael Jones is. The documents filed with Companies House tell us that his correspondence address is Polvellan House but that Wales is his country of residence. Does he really exist? And if so, is he aware that he is responsible for Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd and the debt the company has with the NatWest Bank? Perhaps Michael Jones could get it touch to clarify things.

On 1 April ‘Michael Jones’ made an attempt to voluntarily liquidate the company, but this was thwarted by a person unknown objecting. Much to the chagrin of Rowena Williams. But why would she be so upset, because the company has nothing to do with her any more? Officially.

Before it was Plas Glynllifon the address for this new company switched from the Knighton Hotel to Unit 3, 37 Watling Street, Leintwardine, Herefordshire. I shall have more to say on the second of these in a minute.

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been investigating Paul and Rowena Williams is that a few of those involved in this saga seem to have switched sides, or it may be difficult to tell who they’re working for. One of those I’m thinking about is Keith Rolfe.

Formerly a local government planning officer in Cornwall handling applications from Paul and/or Rowena Williams for Polvellan Manor he is now working from home as a consultant and advises Team Williams and their crew, including Michael Jones, presumably.

Then there’s the “expert” mentioned in this report about the ‘unsafe’ gardens at Plas Glynllifon, “Matt Jackson, from consultancy Land and Heritage”.

As I mentioned in the previous posting, Land & Heritage Ltd is a new company, Incorporated 8 August 2017. Among the directors we find Simon Travers Humphreys. In addition to being a director of Land and Heritage Humphreys also works for Pell Frischmann. This company has worked for Polvellan Manor.

Land & Heritage are even looking after the bats at Glynllifon according to their website, which tells us that “Heating a section of the cellar has proved a highly popular nursery for young lesser horseshoes”. If bats use a cellar it’s because it’s a substitute cave, and therefore cool. Heating it could be disastrous.

If I was Land & Heritage I’d stick to trees and shrubs.

It seems obvious to me that Land & Heritage Ltd has been set up as a sideline to make money by providing whatever bullshit the likes of Paul and Rowena Williams need produced to promote their projects. That being so, nothing produced by Land & Heritage need be treated seriously.

The extract below from the minutes of Looe Town Council 14 June 2016 confirms that Keith Rolfe and Simon Humphreys were already on Paul Williams’ payroll two years ago.

click to enlarge

In previous posts on Paul and Rowena Williams I mentioned Dudley James Cross, who we’re told works for commercial property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton. But does he? I ask because he’s been associated with Paul and Rowena Williams for a decade and a half.

During the Open Days last month Cross was even showing people around Plas Glynllifon.

Here’s a planning application in Herefordshire from 2008. Paul Williams wanted to erect holiday chalets behind the Mortimers Cross Inn. What name do we see against ‘Agent address’ but Lambert Smith Hampton of Northampton. In other words, Dudley James Cross.

And I’ve turned up his name in other planning applications associated with Paul and Rowena Williams and their companies. We know Cross has even been a director of the Williams company Leisure and Development Ltd.

Given this long association, and added to the fact that LSH was the agent for Plas Glynllifon during the ‘Wynnborn’ fiasco, it’s possible that Cross is the one responsible for introducing Paul and Rowena Williams to Gwynedd. So are they in partnership?

I ask because the chronology of the crazy property dealing conducted around the time of the purchase of Plas Glynllifon fits. Much of this involved ‘buying’ property they already owned at inflated prices in order to raise cash through loans and mortgages.

Whatever the relationship between them, Cross has been involved in some very dubious transactions and dealings, false reporting, and God knows what else. How does Lambert Smith Hampton feel about that?

LEINTWARDINE

An address that crops up regularly in the constant changing of the correspondence address for the various Williams’ companies, is Unit 3, 37 Watling Street, Leintwardine, a village in north Herefordshire.

Now 37 Watling Street is a residential property on an unprepossessing street in a sleepy border village, and Unit 3 is a shed accessed down an alleyway at the side of 37 known as Wardens Lane. It also seems to be home to a recycling company. This shed must get a bit crowded!

click to enlarge

So who might we find at Unit 3? The answer is John Duggan, or to give him his full name, John William Thomas Duggan. Not only does he work out of Unit 3 but it seems the area down Wardens Lane qualifies as a business park. Which may be stretching things.

Of more importance for this report is the fact that John Duggan served a lengthy prison term after being convicted in May 1998 of fleecing an elderly widow out of nearly £700,000. At the time he was a director of Hereford United Football Club, and it’s from a club website that I got this report.

Here’s another report from the Free Library.

There are crimes of passion, there are stupid things done in the heat of the moment, often under the influence of alcohol or drugs; revenge, lust, hate and a host of other motivations can trigger criminal behaviour, then there are acts – à la Jean Valjean – committed out of necessity . . . but Duggan’s crime was none of these.

His was a cruel and calculating crime carried out over a lengthy period of time against a helpless old woman with no one in the world to help her; for she had lost her husband and, more tragically, her son. So this bastard ripped her off.

Yet Paul and Rowena Williams have no qualms about associating with Duggan, no problem with using Duggan’s address for their companies, over and over again.

click to enlarge

Which would be bad enough, but it doesn’t end there.

John Duggan, through his company J D Accountancy (a company for which I can find no details anywhere), is responsible for the accounts of Team Williams companies. Or maybe I should rephrase that, because they don’t seem to be accounts so much as ‘Unaudited Financial Statements’.

Duggan drew up the latest Unaudited Financial Statement for Leisure and Development Ltd, up to 31.01.2018. It’s worth reading. This is the company we are asked to believe was taken over 1 February 2018 by ex-con Keith Harvey Partridge and his mate, failed financial whizz kid Sukhbinder Singh Heer. (Though Paul Williams remained a director.)

In the Unaudited Financial Statement produced by Duggan I was particularly struck by the heading, ‘4. Staff costs’, which seems to suggest that the various hotels and other businesses had no employees. There were dozens. Then again, this might be explained by what I’ve been told about staff being paid in cash. In fact as much business as possible is done in cash. Paul Williams is a great one for the brown envelopes.

There were ten Charges (debts, loans, mortgages, debentures) against Leisure and Development Ltd before the company was ‘sold’ to Partridge and Heer, with an eleventh taken out 4 May, after the supposed buyout. This one seems to bundle up all the previous Charges and suggests that they are now transferred to Plas Glynllifon Ltd, which makes no sense.

Because if we are to believe Paul and Rowena Williams they no longer have anything to do with Partridge, Heer and Leisure and Development Ltd. So why is their new company Plas Glynllifon Ltd listed as the ‘Borrower’ on the Charge taken out by a company they no longer own?

click to large

I’d appreciate professional advice on these arrangements. Also for the figures contained in the Unaudited Financial Statement for Leisure and Development Ltd, up to 31.01.2018, because some of the figures appear to be incredible. And here I mean incredible in the sense of being unbelievable. Unacceptable.

But if true, then they should worry anyone having any kinds of dealings with Paul and Rowena Williams.

At the end of the day, we have to ask why Paul and Rowena Williams associate so closely with two men, in Duggan and Partridge, who have been to prison for serious crimes of theft. (And might even have met in prison.) They must know these men’s records.

To pretend they don’t know what these men have done is unacceptable. To argue that they’ve ‘served their time, etc.,’ facile. Paul and Rowena Williams do business with Duggan and Partridge because they’re crooks.

Experience of life and knowledge of Paul and Rowena Williams suggests they use the undoubted accountancy skills of John Duggan because for the right price he’ll give you what you want, no questions asked. Which means that no figures presented by Paul and Rowena Williams can be trusted.

As for Partridge, his background is also useful in the scam he’s working now with Paul and Rowena Williams, that has raised millions and millions of pounds in complicated mortgage deals and phoney sales, money that might soon disappear in a puff of smoke along with those holding it.

Then what of Rolfe, Humphreys, Cross, Jones, Reynolds and the others – do they realise what crooks they’re working with?

CONCLUSION

I am no longer sure we are dealing with chancers trying to make a few quid by duping politicians, planners and civil servants; we may instead be dealing with a major criminal enterprise covering a wide geographical area, from Cornwall to the Marches, to Gwynedd, and up to the Scottish border. Perhaps involving serious criminals and organised crime.

Paul and Rowena Williams may not even be the main players.

I suspect the police are now taking an interest. And not just the police, for the UK government has lost a considerable amount of money due to the activities of this gang. And I have been promised yet more information about Paul and Rowena Williams. It’s unending!

And what of our (or somebody’s) ‘Welsh’ Government, which I’m sure has given large amounts of cash to these crooks? I have submitted a FoI request, but I don’t expect an answer any time soon. It would obviously help if we had an opposition around that foetid pool that is Cardiff Bay, but they’re all too busy jostling for position and advancement.

With any luck they’ll fall in and drown. But then, rats can swim.

Fuck ’em; the spineless, collaborating bastards bereft of dignity, vision, and ambition for Wales; making our homeland easy prey for the scumbags we read about here. May they rot in hell, an individual hell each must share for eternity with whomsoever and whatsoever most offends their delicate sensibilities.

Weep for Wales.

♦ end ♦

 

May 292018
 

This is a bumper edition, some 3,600 words, enough to keep you going for a week. It comprises six different reports so you don’t need to gorge and make yourself ill, you can take it one piece at a time. Enjoy!

MRS AND MR MERRILL

Rose Mutale Merrill (née Nyoni), doyenne of the race relations industry in Wales, head of Bawso, and involved with so many other organisations, a Labour Party insider and enforcer, has figured on this blog many times. News now reaches me of yet another string to her bow.

For it is alleged that she has built up quite a property empire in some desirable locations in and around Cardiff. One such property being 6 Mitre Place, in Llandaf, quite close to the cathedral. This cost her £223,600 in May, 2005.

This was before her marriage to Travers Merrill in or around October 2008, he of Rhondda Life fame. ‘Rhondda Life?’ Well, yes, it was a venture which, according to this report, seems to have targeted the gourmet tourists with which the Rhondda Fach is inundated.

Or, to put a less generous interpretation on it, it was yet another non-starter claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money in an attempt to be seen to be doing something in a Labour heartland and, more importantly, providing cushy numbers for Labour Party time-servers.

Travers Merrill was chief executive of Rhondda Life, though when the inevitable collapse came about, Shippo of Llais y Sais was considerate enough to see that Merrill’s name did not appear.

Looking through the papers filed with Companies House I see that after the liquidators – based in Leicester! – had taken their pound of flesh Rhondda Life seems to have been left with 43 pence in the kitty. Another great success for the Poverty Party.

This is what happens when socialists are allowed anywhere near public money (click to enlarge)

But let us hie again to leafy Llandaf.

What I found strange about the title document for 6 Mitre Place was that even though the property was bought before the nuptials in the autumn of 2008 the title document has been amended to show Mutale’s married name, but the erstwhile Raymond Blanc of Ferndale is not mentioned. Which suggests that she is the sole owner.

Not content with just one property she then purchased another not far away, opposite Llandough Hospital. And there have been other purchases since to give Rose Mutale Nyoni-Merrill what I’m told now amounts to quite a property portfolio.

My informant – who I’m sure is mistaken – suggests that there might have been ‘confusion’ in the purchase of 6 Mitre Place, confusion as to the source of the deposit for the property. Perhaps money got mixed up somehow. But as I say, my informant is almost certainly wrong.

Before bidding this formidable woman farewell, another informant tells me that Mrs Nyoni-Merrill is/was lined up – certainly, shortlisted – for the job of Older People’s Commissioner. Can this be true?

Y WLADFA

In 1968 our national rugby team made its first trip to Argentina. As might be expected, contact was made with the descendants of the Welsh settlers in Patagonia. The BBC’s Onllwyn Brace – former rugby international himself – made a wonderful film of Alun Williams and others on that trip south.

Here’s a link to that 40 minute film (in Welsh). I urge you to find time to watch it. (Though the beginning could have benefited from editing.)

The Welsh Rugby Union has arranged another trip to Argentina for next month, playing two tests against Los Pumas. Given that this will be the fiftieth anniversary of that first tour, our cousins in Patagonia anticipated a visit, hoping that one of the test matches might be played in Trelew, or Puerto/Porth Madryn as on the last tour in 2006.

But it seems the WRU attaches no great importance to the Patagonia connection, or the Welsh language. As I discovered when our Patagonia correspondent supplied me with the information below.

Still from film of 1968 visit to Patagonia (click to enlarge)

Let me start by emphasising that the host country chooses venues for test matches involving touring teams, and for this tour Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR) eventually gave the tests to the cities of San Juan and Santa Fe, both west of Buenos Aires and well over a thousand kilometres north of the Welsh settlements.

And even after the decision of the host country the venues still have to be confirmed by World Rugby.

When it became clear that no test match would be played in Patagonia the emphasis shifted to laying on entertainment and sight-seeing tours for WRU representatives, especially players, and of course fans, in order to raise money for the local Welsh schools. But for this to happen, the tour operators, responsible for arranging the fans’ itineraries, would need to play ball.

My source’s first contact with the WRU was a phone call on 27 September from chairman Gareth Davies (following a number of telephone calls to him and his secretary). Davies passed the job on to Mark Killingley, Head of Digital and Communications. Killingley appears to be an internet/PR expert who joined the Welsh Rugby Union in 2016 from its English counterpart the RFU

Following that telephone conversation my contact sent an e-mail reiterating the hope that the Welsh Rugby Union would – irrespective of where the test matches were held – show support for the Welsh language in Patagonia, specifically for the schools.

“As I explained on the phone, we would like to organise a series of events for both the fans and the WRU, with all money raised being used by the 3 Welsh language schools in Patagonia for the benefit of Welsh language teaching. To have the best chance of getting the UK Rugby tour companies on board, we would like to make an announcement as soon as possible. And, in order to get the best response from the Rugby Tour companies, we would like to have the open support of the Welsh Rugby Union.”

Contact was also made with Gullivers Sports Travel of Gloucester, the Welsh Rugby Union’s official travel agents. Because of course the WRU had said they wouldn’t do anything that conflicted with what Gullivers was arranging.

The representative at Gullivers that my source met – after travelling to England on other business – had never heard of the Welsh colony in Patagonia and showed no interest in learning. Gullivers would only go to Patagonia if the UAR held one of the games down there.

More bad news came with BBC Wales’ refusal to allow sales of the 1968 film I’ve linked to above, despite Cardiff University having prepared a transcript of the film to enable subtitles.

Even after the UAR announced the venues the Welsh community was still optimistic of getting fans to visit and were working flat out. As my source put it in another e-mail to Killingley, “We have a meeting of the Welsh schools in Patagonia this weekend, and I will travel to Trelew next Wednesday (600km!!), to try and finalise at least a programme for the fans.”

Making clear that the only thing being asked of the Welsh Rugby Union was an expression of support for what hard-working and dedicated people were doing down in Patagonia in the hope that tour operators would make it easier for fans to get down there.

E-mails continued to fly between Wales and Provincia Chubut in the desperate hope that the WRU might be persuaded do something – anything! – to recognise the Welsh colony in Patagonia and show support for it, for the Welsh language, and the schools helping keep it alive.

But it soon became clear to my correspondent that this was a forlorn hope.

The WRU made it clear that no players would be coming to Patagonia – ‘But we can send our CEO’.

‘No, I think people down here want to meet the players, but if they can’t come then how about donating some items that could be raffled to raise money for the Welsh schools?’

‘Oh, no, we couldn’t do that without a recognised charity being involved’.

‘For God’s sake these schools are recognised by the Argentina Ministry of Education – and we had to fight to get that recognition for Welsh language schools’.

On March 27, in what was close to the final communication, the Welsh Rugby Union was told:

“Throughout my communication with the WRU, we have tried to make a number of suggestions about how the WRU could help the survival of the Welsh language in Patagonia and each suggestion has met with resistance or rejection and never with any suggestion about how the WRU could help.

The WRU is obviously not willing to assist official representatives of the Welsh communities in Patagonia, who are asking for a simple endorsement of fund-raising initiatives which should align with the broad interest of a very public Welsh organisation. We have pointed out to you that this tour occurs 50 years after the first tour, where the WRU and the BBC went to great lengths to publicise the Welsh communities in Patagonia. You wear your commitment to the Welsh language very openly on your sleeves.”

As things stand, our cousins will next month be laying on events and food, entertainment and sight-seeing trips in the hope that fans will somehow make their way south from the northern cities. And it’s being done without any support whatsoever from the self-styled Welsh Rugby Union. Though in fairness, maybe Gullivers Sports Travel has now got the message, though it might have been garbled in transmission.

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With its three feathers badge and its constant fawning over the English royals the Welsh Rugby Union is a national disgrace. Nothing exposes its ambivalent Welshness more than its attitude to the language, both at home and overseas.

Thank God we’ve got a national football team with a governing body far more supportive than the WRU of the language, perhaps even some of our footballers display a little more pride in their roots than many of our rugby players. For example, it was great to see Gareth Bale leave the field in Kiev on Saturday, after scoring his wonder goal, with the national flag draped over his shoulders.

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Which seems to be part of a pattern.

For I’ve noticed in fifty years and more of following Welsh sport that our football fans seem to be increasingly dedicated to the team, and to Wales; whereas the death of heavy industry in the south seems to have robbed rugby of its traditional support base, for which spangly cowboy hats, inflatable daffodils and an endless supply of expensive beer are no real substitute.

But then, it’s all money.

DELTA WELLBEING LTD

Readers of this blog, and indeed other blogs, especially those focusing on Sir Gâr, will be alert to any mention of Wellbeing, the catchword for the private healthcare development, shopping mall, leisure centre, 86-lane bowling alley, and home for the Welsh space programme, planned for Delta Lakes in Llanelli. Something of which we first became aware with the publication of this document (page 25, section 5.4).

The grand venture originally involved a company known as Kent Neurosciences Ltd, now, alas, dissolved. Among the directors of this enterprise we find a Professor Robert Marc Clement, a Turk by birth now expanding young minds at Swansea University.

Which is convenient, for Swansea University is a partner in the Delta Lakes project.

I have written nothing about Clement myself but he appears regularly on The Eye, a blog written by one of my biggest fans, Phil Parry, who is forever quoting me, updating his biography, and using my photos without permission. (You rascal, you!)

Kent Neurosciences’ place at Delta Lakes may now have been taken by Delta Wellbeing Ltd, Incorporated as recently as January this year with a single one pound share. The company was formed by a Russell Holmes Thompson from what I believe to be his home address in Wolverhampton.

So why would someone form a company in Wolverhampton that is obviously linked to Delta Lakes in Llanelli? Come to that, who is Russell Holmes Thompson? Well, he seems to have been involved in many companies over the years, a number of which are in the health and care sector.

He must have been previously known to Carmarthenshire County Council because on February 4 he ceased to be “a person with significant control” and a day later he was joined as director by Mrs Samantha Watkins, an employee of the council. On the same day the company’s address moved from Wolverhampton to the Dafen Industrial Estate in Llanelli.

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Then, mysteriously, Watkins ceased to be a director on the 8th, but returned on March 20 accompanied by Owen William Bowen, possibly another council employee. So it was no surprise to see on March 23 Carmarthenshire Council listed as “a person with significant control”.

Which means that between February 8 and March 20 Thompson was officially the sole director despite having officially relinquished “significant control”. Odd, that.

As we know, Carmarthenshire County Council is simply Mark Vincent James, its chief executive (and Cardiff Bay property tycoon), by another name. And Delta Lakes is his gift to posterity, his lasting legacy for the grateful citizenry of Carmarthenshire, and nothing must be allowed to interfere with this vision.

So let’s keep an eye on Delta Wellbeing Ltd and the Delta Lakes project generally. Keep tabs on how much of the county’s money is used on this project, what other partners emerge, how much of the Swansea Bay City Deal money is diverted, what role is found for Marc Clement, how many new homes will be needed to help fund it, etc.

This could run and run!

CASTING A LONG SHADOW

The tragic death of Carl Sargeant AM last November lifted the lid a little on the links between politicians, their advisers, PR outfits, third sector parasites and other denizens of that cess-pit known as Cardiff Bay.

Fresh information reaches me that makes the whole business look even more distasteful.

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

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

So what did the boy do next?

He did what everybody in his position does – he set up a PR outfit! This one called Cathod Du (Black Cats) Consultancy Ltd, Incorporated November 30. It seems to have no website and no presence beyond the few sparse documents at Companies House, but that may not matter, for it might now have a specific purpose, or a single client.

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I’m told that Holland is a supporter of Vaughan Gething, who a few days ago announced that he was running for Labour leader in the Assembly. And in the best traditions of Welsh politics it is further suggested that Cathod Du may act as a conduit for funding the Gething campaign.

To complicate matters even further, Mark Holland is married to Louise Magee, the general secretary of Plaid Tlodi. Magee was heavily involved in Sargeant’s sacking on November 3. I believe it was she who sent the e-mail informing him of his dismissal.

Then, in a plot twist few writers would dare commit to paper – Magee was appointed by the party to be Jack Sargeant’s agent in his campaign to succeed his father! Understandably, the welcome mat was not rolled out for her on Deeside, so she booked into a hotel outside of the constituency and kept a very low profile.

And to round off this tale of betrayal and incestuous relationships I also hear that soon after being appointed the Poverty Party’s general secretary last April Magee gave hubby Holland the job of being her press officer, without the post being advertised and at a higher salary than other staff.

If so, this isn’t listed on his Linkedin profile, nor can I find information anywhere else, so can anyone confirm this?

I was told long before Carl Sargeant’s death that Vaughan Gething was Carwyn Jones’s chosen successor. Given how instrumental Jones’s staff and former staff were in the campaign against Sergeant, Magee’s role, and how that links with Holland, and how Holland may now be Gething’s bagman, it does make you wonder.

 

AIRBRUSHED HISTORY

One of the few Twitter accounts I follow is the excellent Welsh not British and his On This Day feature, which last week reminded us of the Mold Riots of 1869. Just as well because I’m sure few of us know of this episode.

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Like so many events in our history the Mold Riots have either been corrupted or ignored entirely. And yet, here we have Welsh miners suffering discrimination, being denied work, then arrested, with the episode eventually resulting in soldiers shooting down people in the streets of a Welsh town.

So how come ‘Welsh’ Labour doesn’t commemorate this event?

The simple answer is that any issue that pits Wales against England or Welsh against English must be avoided like the pox in case it encourages nationalist sentiment which might result in more people questioning the benefits to Wales of being in the Union with England.

But equally, taking the side of England or the English would be damaging for the party, so it’s best that certain issues and incidents are ignored entirely.

For when it comes to Wales the Labour Party is primarily a Unionist Party, everything else is secondary. The ‘socialism’ is just sloganising; the ‘concern’ for the downtrodden is nothing more than posturing to justify the maintenance of the party’s third sector auxiliary force; while the hostility to capitalism is an excuse to explain sheer incompetence from arseholes incapable of organising an economy.

Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the Mold Riots. The Poverty Party won’t commemorate the event but those who died and the others who suffered such blatant and racist discrimination should be remembered. They deserve it.

Let’s do it in 2019!

SEND US YOUR SICK AND YOUR ELDERLY, WALES CAN AFFORD IT!

The Conservatives have once again raised the issue of free prescriptions, and once again, they’ve done it without really grasping the problem.

As the article from Llais y Sais tells us, people have been getting Bonjela, Strepsils, and even deodorants on prescription, which is guaranteed to get ‘Apoplectic of Cowbridge’ choking on his single malt but doesn’t amount to much in the greater scheme of things. For the abuse of the free prescription legislation is only the tip of the iceberg.

That’s because free prescriptions attract into Wales large numbers of people who would otherwise be spending a sizeable amount of money every month on prescription charges, for there are no free prescriptions in England. These will be people with serious and long-term conditions.

I see such people every day in Tywyn, and they can be found in every other small town in Wales.

Quite obviously, the demands such people make on the NHS will not be restricted to prescription charges. In fact, prescription charges will be only one small part of the burden imposed by a high dependency group attracted to Wales in the first instance by free prescriptions.

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For they will also require hospital treatment, therapy and carers, there may be a nurse calling regularly. Or perhaps it’s transport, from the Wales Mobility and Driving Assessment Service, funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government. Its headquarters are at Rookwood Hospital in Cardiff but it has a northern office in Rhyl and ‘outreach’ services at Newtown, Oswestry and Pembrokeshire.

All of which adds up to a hell of a lot more in monetary terms than prescription charges.

Of course a high percentage of the people we’re discussing will be middle-aged and elderly, which helps explain why we also read in the article, “The number of ‘drugs for dementia’ items rocketed by 1,473% – up from just over 11,000 in 2002 to nearly 179,000 in 2017”.

An iron law of the relationship between Wales and England says: ‘Anything which makes Wales attractive to English people will result in large numbers of English people moving into Wales’.

It would be nice if this was a booming economy, an abundance of well-paid jobs, and a labour shortage, but it’s not. (Of course, many of the better jobs are reserved for English people, but that’s simply because of our colonial status.)

Apart from that, what attracts people to Wales in 2018 – especially the retired and other non-working groups – is cheap property prices (or easy access to social housing), nice scenery, few ‘ethnic minorities’, and free prescriptions.

Yes, Northern Ireland and Scotland also have free prescriptions, but they do not have large numbers of English people, moving in every year. Those that do move are more likely to be students than retirees.

It’s difficult to understand why the situation we experience today could not have been foreseen, and the problem mitigated with a residency period of say 10 years in Wales before anyone qualified for free prescriptions.

Or maybe it was foreseen.

Because if someone wanted to skew Welsh health and sickness statistics, over-burden our NHS, in order to paint a picture of we Welsh being unable to run our own affairs, then free prescriptions is a bloody good way of doing it.

I leave you with the words of a ‘Welsh’ Government spokesperson: “Free prescriptions were introduced in Wales as a long-term investment to improve people’s health”. The truth is that free prescriptions have made Wales a less healthy country.

♦ end ♦

 

May 032018
 

AN OPEN LETTER TO ROBERT MELEN, PHOTOGRAPHER

Robert Melen,

Here is my response to the e-mails received from you, set out in my previous post.

When I received your request on April 19th to remove the image I’d used, I asked myself, ‘Why has it taken him so long to see an image posted on September 30th 2017?

I concluded that the answer lay in the fact that the article from last September and the article current when you contacted me had one thing in common – a Labour politician who appeared in both articles but did not appear on my blog between those dates.

Upon receiving your first e-mail on April 19th I straight away removed your photograph which, let me add, had always shown, ‘Image: Robert Melen’. At no time did I try to present your photograph as my own, nor did I make any profit from the use of your photograph.

I hoped that was the end of the matter, but no, you came back with a threatening letter you had copied, as with the first, from the EPUK website. In this second e-mail you demanded payment of £150.

Before giving you my decision, let me explain where I stand. I believe that western legal systems – once stripped of religious observations, divine right of kings and other nonsense – are predicated upon, among other things, common sense and a belief in natural justice.

Applying these fundamentals to copyright law means that someone is entitled to compensation if an artistic creation of theirs is stolen or used without their permission by another person, or a corporate entity, to pass off as their own, thereby profiting from that deception.

And I agree with that. But the only element that applies here is that I innocently used your image without your permission, for which I apologise. But I remind you that it was removed immediately you requested its removal and it was always clearly attributed to you.

Further, I claim ‘Fair Dealing’ exemption in that your image was used in my reporting of current events. Namely, the re-opening of the refurbished Castle Bingo and gambling emporium in Morriston. Proven by the fact that the image originally appeared in this news story on the WalesOnline website.

I am driven to conclude that your behaviour has nothing to do with outraged copyright and is instead an attack on freedom of expression, and on my right to criticise – even ridicule – the political party (and its representatives) supported by your employer, the South Wales Evening Post.

Which is why I have decided not to submit to your threats. You will not receive the £150 you demand.

Yours

Royston Jones

UPDATE 05.05.2018: Robert Melen has been in touch, we have exchanged a few e-mails, and I’m prepared to accept that this was all a misunderstanding. He seems to be a tidy boy just looking out for his young family. So if anyone has photographic work, Rob Melen‘s your man.

Those who contributed to my fighting fund have been notified and they all want their donations to be used either in support of the Argentine economy or else donated to Ein Gwlad. Requests to which I have willingly acceded.

TRENCHING AND TROUGHING AT FIVE MILE LANE, BARRY

In a recent post, News Round-up 25.04.2018, I told you about a road-widening scheme at Five Mile Lane, Barry, in the Vale of Glamorgan. The road in question being the A4226.

It is alleged that work on this site has gone beyond a simple road widening and in the process has damaged an important archaeological site or sites. You can get more information on the claims from the video below.

I contacted Cadw but received nothing beyond an acknowledgement, and so I assumed that the ‘Welsh’ Government source who replied was answering for Cadw (who were cc’d into the correspondence as ‘CADW Mailbox’). The reply came from a Regional Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Archaeology (South East Wales), but I can’t be sure if this person actually works for Cadw, which is now part of the WG.

Confused? I was. Though perhaps it’s explained with my contact telling me: “Cadw lies within the Economy and Transport section of  Welsh Governments Economy, Skills and Natural Resource Group (ESNR). Our minister is Dafydd Elis Thomas.” Such familiarity! Lord Elis Thomas, surely!

Anyway, our exchange of e-mails continued and this person turned out to be most helpful.

As we knew, the road-widening scheme was ostensibly the responsibility of Vale of Glamorgan council, and I learnt that the council is being advised on archaeological matters by the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust (GGAT), which is monitoring the site.

I was provided with a link to the VoG council website where we learn that the applicant for the required planning permission on the A4226 is, as we might have guessed, the ‘Welsh’ Government. The agents being Parsons Brinckerhoff (since re-badged WSP), which seems to be a US firm with an office in Cardiff.

Click on the Parsons Brinckerhoff Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report from July 2014 and scroll down to Section 6, Cultural Heritage, for fuller information than is provided in the brief summary below.

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In my earlier post I said that the archaeological work, on the ground, as it were, was being done by Rubicon Heritage Services (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of Irish company Rubicon Heritage Services. The subsidiary was liquidated in March 2018, so I asked the Regional Inspector where this left the Five Mile Lane project.

I was told, “Rubicon Heritage Services (UK) Ltd was a subsidiary which was liquidated prior to the start of the project and has had no role in the work at Five Mile Lane, Barry. Rubicon Heritage Services Ltd will continue to deliver the project at Five Mile Lane”.

Which fits with the Irish parent company recently opening a branch office in Cardiff, at the Ringside Business Park. I can’t imagine this being done without Rubicon having expectations of future work in Wales.

In response to my asking what was the ‘Welsh’ Government’s and Cadw’s opinion of the work carried out at Five Mile Lane I was answered: “Dr Jonathan Berry (Cadw Senior Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Archaeology) and I visited the excavations on 18th October 2017. We were given a detailed tour around all of the excavation areas exposed at that time and had an opportunity to discuss their interpretation and observe the quality of work. While this was not a formal inspection visit Cadw did not identify any issues of concern.”

October 2017 is long before the work was done that it’s claimed has caused the damage. When I pointed this out I was told: “I have contacted the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust and obtained reassurances that archaeological work has been undertaken to the standards required by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and according to national legislation for the excavation of burials.” 

This e-mail also referred to “visits by independent curators” so, naturally, I asked who these are, and to whom they answer.

I was told: “The quality of the archaeological works at Five Mile Lane is monitored by two independent consultant archaeologist organisations: Cotswold Archaeology and Black Mountains Archaeology.

Rubicon Heritage, Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust, Cotswold Archaeology and Black Mountain Archaeology are all Registered Organisations of the Charted (sic) Institute for Archaeologists, to whom the organisations are accountable.”

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Now Cotswold Archaeology is a multi-million pound business apparently headquartered in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, whereas Black Mountains Archaeology seems to be a one-man band formed in March last year. On the plus side, BMA is run by a Welshman, perhaps the first we’ve encountered in this saga.

I mention this because few things illustrate a people’s colonial status worse than having its past interpreted by strangers, especially when those strangers are representatives of the country that rules over that people.

I suggest that to understand what has happened at Five Mile Lane we need to consider the wider project, and its political importance. Explained in the Parsons Brinckerhoff document.

The widening of the A4226 is to improve access to St Athan (Aston Martin, etc?) and Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone. Despite being nominally the responsibility of the Vale of Glamorgan council, because the ‘Welsh’ Government puts up the money it’s the Bay Bubble calling the shots. So I think we can absolve VoG of any culpability.

What’s happening at Five Mile Lane links with the obscene amounts of public money ELPiW continues to pour into Cardiff Airport, and the bribes given to Aston Martin to move to Wales. For obvious reasons nothing must be allowed to interfere with these ‘investments’ and cause political embarrassment to the ‘Welsh’ Government.

What of the other players in this tragedy?

As we’ve seen, Cadw is now a department of the ‘Welsh’ Government, overseen by loyalist-royalist Dafydd Elis Thomas. Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust gets the bulk of its funding from Cadw, so no ripples from that direction. As for Rubicon, which is actually doing the work at Five Mile Lane, it’s not going to bite the hand that feeds it, especially with a new office in Cardiff. Anticipation of further work from the ‘Welsh’ Government also keeps Cotswold Archaeology and Black Mountains Archaeology on board.

Which means that to protect the ‘Welsh’ Government’s image important archaeological sites can be trashed and the graves of our ancestors desecrated.

Par for the course in a corrupt colony run by a bunch of collaborationist shites.

WHY BRECON?

I quite like Brecon, and the wife is very fond of the town, insisting that we stop there if we’re heading south on the A470. But there have been news reports recently and information emerging suggesting that there are some pretty ugly people living thereabouts.

Let’s begin with the well-publicised case of the serving soldier who was convicted of being a member of banned organisation National Action. He was not only based at Sennybridge Camp but he also seems to have settled at Llansilin.

I can’t understand why a Finn serving in the British army would want to settle in Llansilin. Come to that, why did a Finn join the British army? Another mystery is the unnamed civilian defendant described in one report as the National Action ‘regional organiser’ who was jailed for three-and-half years. Why unnamed? Which region?

A further mystery is the weapons found “at two properties in Powys occupied by Vehvilainen” . . . but apparently they had nothing to do with him?

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Moving down the scale of obnoxiousness we come to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. The party leaders are David Bevan, born in Neath, and Jonathon Harrington, born in London but living somewhere in the Beacons.

Their backgrounds are fascinating. Dai served in the British army and was chairman of the Cardiff branch of Ukip until that lot went soft on devolution. Jon’s family moved to a farm in the Beacons when he was eight, and when he grew up he took himself off to South Africa, and Rhodesia, when Smiffy was running things. As the result of a fall on Cader Idris (for some reason spelled ‘Cadir’ in his bio) he is paraplegic.

According to Harrington’s bio, the AWAP is needed in order “to represent the views of the great but silent majority.” This must be the same silent majority that wants to name the Second Seven Crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge.

It would be easy to laugh at these people, very easy, but they stood a full slate of candidates in the 2016 Assembly elections and gained 44,286 regional votes, 4.4% of the total.

Staying in the Brecon area we return to Wales for a United Kingdom.

The W4aUK Facebook page tells us that 70% of the people of Wales believe in CANZUK. While in what I suspect serves as the manifesto we read, “We have multiple admin running the page day and night so please feel free to message us with any queries.”

Or possibly a lone insomniac.

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I must confess, I don’t recall being consulted about CANZUK. Was it restricted to that silent majority we keep hearing about? And has W4aUK thought it through? Because freedom of movement could result in all sorts turning up, demanding entry to this scepter’d isle.

Before you know it it’ll be digeridoo virtuosos on Britain’s Got Talent, big, tattooed buggers demanding to rub noses with you . . . but worst of all, there’ll be nothing to stop thousands of Frenchies moving here from Canada! What’s the point of getting out of the EU if the buggers start coming from the opposite direction?

As we established in Snippets and Updates 19.04.2018 the budding demagogue behind W4aUK is one Adam Jon Brown of Talgarth, or possibly Llanfaes. Not one to let grass grow under his feet, our Adam – or Ladam as he calls himself on his own Facebook page – to judge by the jobs he’s had in his short life.

For after studying History & Archaeology at the University of Wales he spurned oodles of ‘Welsh’ Government funding, and the chance to trash burial sites, in order to serve at the Coracle Fish Bar in Brecon. From where he seems to have moved on, via Harry Ramsden’s, to Kentucky Fried Chicken, rising from team leader to assistant under-manager.

Now he’s an internet merchandising tycoon with Bluebellsgifts Ltd. Where will it all end?

Or perhaps the question is, what has the Brecon area done to deserve Finnish racists, yearners for Rhodesia, and boy wonder BritNats? And how many of them were actually born anywhere near Brecon?

THE BRITNAT LEFT AND ‘THE SHARED EXPERIENCE’

The ‘shared experience’ is one of the most powerful tools in the Unionist armoury because it gives people from different walks of life, different parts of the country, something to bind them together.

The most powerful shared experiences are of course war, especially World War One and World War Two, but even smaller conflicts such as that in the South Atlantic can fill the role. Or more recent adventures in the Middle East. The government sends soldiers and other combatants from every corner of the state, every area loses some young men, the media joins in – bingo! you have a shared experience helping to bind the state together.

Obviously, the WWII generation is nearly gone and the smaller wars don’t generate enough ‘patriotism’. Because while it was virtually impossible to argue against the necessity of going to war in 1939 ‘dodgy dossiers’ and other revelations make recent foreign military adventures easy targets for critics.

And so the state must play the shared experience card in other ways. For example, flooding our television screens  with programmes called ‘Great British Bookshelves’ and ‘Great British Bollocks’ – ‘cos we’re all British, innit!’ The point being that when you have people in Derry, Dundee, Doncaster and Dowlais watching and enjoying the same television programmes then the state’s on a winner.

And in recent years it has been made easier by the state enforcing its control. To the extent that BBC Scotland and BBC Wales have become state propaganda outlets rather than national broadcasters for Scotland and Wales. For while a British shared experience must be promoted it must inevitably be done at the expense of a shared Scottish or Welsh experience.

Royal events inevitably play their role. When Princess Wilhelmina of Troutbridge-on-the-Wold knocks out another sprog all TV programmes must be interrupted with ‘Rejoice! Superior being gives birth to yet another superior being!’

This shameless exploitation of the monarchy is why another Investiture in Caernarfon cannot be ruled out.

Pushing a shared experience is becoming more difficult, hence the increasing desperation evident in the mainstream media. The difficulty being due to fewer people getting their information from newspapers, radio or television. When did you last see a teenager holding a newspaper that he or she wasn’t taking home for parents or grandparents?

The left in Wales has always bought into the shared experience.

Which explains why the Labour Party has always been the British establishment’s secret weapon and bulwark. The party of ‘King, Country, and a 40-hour week (but only if it’s agreeable to you, sir [doffs cap])’. A sell-out party.

In Wales, the fact that the Labour Party was largely built by non-Welsh migrants to the southern coalfield resulted in the party being contemptuous of Welshness, dismissing our ancestors as gibberish-speaking savages, their leaders as bandits, and even arguing that Wales didn’t exist before the Industrial Revolution.

(You can read more in Why I Detest the Labour Party from March 2014.)

This first appeared in the Western Mail, click to enlarge

It would be nice to think, after almost two decades of devolution, that the hostility to things Welsh was evaporating from what chooses to call itself the ‘Welsh Labour Party’. But no, it’s still there, and it surfaced again on May Day, with a piece in the Wasting Mule by Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Labour MP for Torfaen.

The lengthy article trotted out the same old bigotry – Wales was nothing before the Industrial Revolution. Which also promotes the shared experience of industrialisation, far preferable to anything uniquely Welsh. Two for the price of one!

The Labour Party has betrayed Welsh people, it has betrayed the working class, and it has betrayed those communities that vote Labour. Which is exactly what it was intended to do. For a prosperous, confident Wales would be a threat to the Union, so Wales must be kept poor, and no one does that better than Labour.

We’ve had Labour on our backs for a century. Regrettably, what helps keep them there is more sincere socialists, and liberals deceiving themselves that the English Labour Party in Wales is ‘progressive’, and so they must align themselves with it against what they are told is the real enemy, in the form of the Conservatives.

Listen to me, and listen good. There is nothing ‘progressive’ about the Labour Party. It is the real enemy. The party attracts members motivated by self-interest and it operates like a Mafia, putting Labour interests above those of Wales, and defending the rackets of its colonial gravy train.

Perhaps what Wales needs at this juncture is a Welsh socialist party, one that concerns itself with Wales and Welsh interests. Because Plaid Cymru has failed in trying to satisfy everyone, and such a party could also attract the more sincere supporters of ELPiW.

For all those who need to be weaned off damaging BritNat socialism and the propaganda of the shared experience then the halfway house of a Welsh socialist party might fit the bill.

♦ end ♦

 

Apr 292018
 

TALES WITH A TWIST

The documents listed below were recently received from North Wales Police in response to my complaint last year about the leaflet Tales With a Twist. I’m afraid that apart from the covering letter they were in a font size so minuscule that I needed a magnifying glass to read them. I have enlarged them to make it easier for you.

The different RM numbers will make sense as you read on.

  1. Covering letter.
  2. RM17019233.
  3. RM17013288 p1, ditto p2, ditto p3.

Just before last year’s council elections we were entertained with election leaflets distributed in Gwynedd urging people not to vote for Plaid Cymru; which might have been OK had they carried imprints identifying the publisher and the printer. As they carried neither they were unlawful.

What’s more, the attack on Plaid Cymru slipped into ridiculing the Welsh language and, some thought, outright racism. The leaflet even hinted at electoral fraud being committed by “council officials and high ranking Plaid Cymru councillors”.

The leaflet I’m referring to was called Tales With a Twist No 6, and I wrote about it first in Dirty, Dirty Politics and followed that up with Dirty, Dirty Politics 2. You can read it for yourself by clicking on the image beneath.

The leaflet was being distributed in Trawsfynydd on April 28th by Independent councillor Louise Hughes of Llangelynin ward. Though I’m 99% sure that she neither wrote nor printed the leaflets. I say that because they were quite well written and they were certainly professionally printed.

click to enlarge

I made complaints to the Electoral Commission and North Wales Police.

The response from the Electoral Commission was a gem of the ‘Don’t bother us’ kind. I’d complained about Tales With a Twist bearing no imprints and the EC responded with, “It appears that the material (leaflet) you provided does not contain an appropriate imprint. However, it is not clear who has produced and distributed the leaflet”.

Er, no, that’s why I referred it you. That’s why I told you who was distributing it. The person who was distributing it could have told you who produced and printed the leaflet. The Electoral Commission was clearly a dead-end.

Perhaps I’d have more luck with North Wales Police.

Not really. You’ll know that things got off to a bad start when you read in the documents to which I’ve linked, “The website/Blog has been written by Royston Jones who is not politically neutral in this matter and is believed to be a member/supporter of Plaid Cymru.”

Well, laff!!

As you’ll see this revelation appears on the incident sheet RM17019233. Which also tells us, against ‘Place of offence’: “Anson Court, Atlantic Wharf, #Plaid Cymru Ground Floor, Butetown, Cardiff UK CF10 4AL (Plaid Cymru)”.

It soon became clear that Plaid Cymru had also made a complaint and somehow the local gendarmerie had confused or conflated my complaint with the complaint received from that party.

This is admitted at the foot of the document with, “Having reviewed this occurrence and the linked occurrence RM17019233 I can see that they are one and the same. . . both complaints having been received as a direct result of the letter generated by Mr Royston JONES, his letters and online blogs). Master occurrence RM17013288 will remain open until such time as the investigation is complete.”

So let’s turn to RM17013288.

You’ll note that this incident sheet is peppered with statements like: “difficulty in getting the informant (me) to engage” and “Mr Jones is not fully assisting police (refusing to divulge his sources on MG3) – reducing his credibility as a witness.”

Let me make it absolutely clear that I was always ready to ‘engage’. For God’s sake it was me who took Tales With a Twist to the police. As for not ‘divulging sources’; if people tell me things in confidence and are unwilling to deal with the police then I accept that, and so should the police.

After all:

  1. I had given the police a copy of the leaflet.
  2. I had told the police who was distributing the leaflet.
  3. I had told the police where and when the leaflet was distributed.
  4. I had explained the way(s) in which the leaflet fell foul of electoral law.
  5. The police had spoken with Councillor Louise Hughes who admitted distributing the leaflet.
  6. She could, if pressed, have told the police the name of the publisher and the printer.
  7. As a result of this information a conviction or convictions could have been secured.

Instead, North Wales Police chose to believe that Louise Hughes had both printed and distributed the leaflets, they gave her a warning, and ignored entirely the matter of who published them.

I’m sure NWP would excuse themselves by saying that with neither the Electoral Commission nor the Crown Prosecution Service interested in proceeding with the case there was little else they could do. But it was the police themselves who decided that the Public Order Act had not been contravened by a leaflet that clearly sought to stir up hatred against the Welsh language and its speakers.

Perhaps trying to impress the police with her contrition Louise Hughes told them that, “training was now being arranged for all councillors to ensure no literature (from any political party) was distributed incorrectly in the future”.

I checked with some Gwynedd councillors on whether, in light of Tales With a Twist, special training had been arranged to explain to councillors what they should already know. The answer I got was that nothing was arranged beyond the regular “code of conduct course”.

Louise Hughes, who initially aligned herself with Llais Gwynedd before realising that their opposition to Plaid Cymru came from the ‘other side’ has since fallen in with a small group of anti-Welsh bigots who try to dress up their hatred for all things Welsh, especially the language, by pretending they’re attacking Plaid Cymru.

It doesn’t fool me. It shouldn’t fool anybody else.

JAC THREATENED WITH LEGAL ACTION

On April 19th I received a tweet from a Rob Melen asking for my e-mail address. Nothing unusual in that, it happens all the time. I gave him my e-mail address.

Within hours I received an e-mail from Melen saying:

“It has come to my attention that you have used my image of mine of the inside of a Castle Bingo showing fixed odds betting machines. I do not have any record of having issued you with a licence to use this image. I would be grateful if you would provide me with any evidence that you have been issued with a licence by myself for such use.

Subject to that, as it appears that you have breached my copyright I require you to provide me with information about where you sourced the image, the length of time that you have used the image, and any other usages that you may have made of that, or any other image that you may have reason to believe may be mine.

Unless you have a licence from me I require you to remove the image immediately, and will be requiring payment for use of the image to date. If you would like to make use of the image for the future, any such future use would only be permitted subject to negotiation with me of a separate additional licence and payment of a licence fee at my rates.”

This referred to a big piece I wrote last September, scroll down and you’ll come to a section about Carolyn Harris The English Labour Party in Wales (hereinafter referred to on this blog as TELPiW) MP for Swansea East and her party’s association with Castle Bingo.

I responded with;

“I was rather surprised to receive your e-mail. After all, the image is attributed to you, which I’d assumed made it OK.

Anyway, as to where I got, all I can say is that it came from Googling the Internet.
 
It has now been removed. I suggest we leave it at that.”

But no, on Saturday I received another e-mail from Melen, this one quite threatening:

“Without Prejudice Save as to Costs

Further to your reply of 19th April 2018, I was extremely disappointed to see my image used in this way. This was a blatant breach of my copyright because the image was used without license from myself. It would have been easy for you to find out who the copyright owner is, and to publish it legally.

You ought to have known that the image would be protected by copyright, and use of my image in this way by you in the course of your business/blog would be a criminal offence under S.107(2A) of the Copyright Act 1988, punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine. 

Unauthorised use of the image in this way devalues the value of the image for myself and my clients. Use on the internet, especially where unattributed, is especially damaging as it presents further opportunities to third parties to infringe my images, and increases the risk that the image may become ‘orphaned’.

If I have to take this matter further, I may be entitled to claim damages not only for the direct losses caused by your infringement, such as my loss of license fee, but also for one or more of the following:

  • I am entitled by law to additional damages where the breach is flagrant or where you have gained a benefit from using the image.
  • I may elect to require an account of profits from your use of the image, and may require you to carry out disclosure of the full amount of profits derived from use of my image. This may include my claiming a share in the total profits from the sale of any edition in which my image appeared.
  • I am entitled to further damages for failure to credit my image to me: for breach of statutory duty under S.103 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.
  • I may be entitled to additional damages for ‘moral prejudice’ under S.3(2)(a)(ii), The Intellectual Property (Enforcement, etc) Regulations 2006.
  • I may be entitled to claim from you any additional losses caused to me which results from your breach, for example if my image becomes ‘orphaned’ due to your actions.
  • If I have to take this claim further, the costs of lawyers’ fees, court fees, and other expenses will also be added to the cost of the claim.

The foregoing list is not exhaustive, and I reserve my right to claim for additional heads of damage. I would strongly urge you to consult a solicitor in relation to this claim if I go ahead with it.

In the interests of resolving this matter quickly for both of us I am, at this stage, willing to make a without prejudice offer to waive my rights to damages from you with respect to your breach for a payment of £150, provided that you accept this offer in writing within the next [7] days and provided that such sum is received on my account within the next [14] days.

This offer applies with respect only to your breach of copyright and usage of my image as described in my letter to you of 19th April 2018, and does not in any way imply waiver or consent regarding any additional usage or use of any other image or any breach by any other person. This offer is made on condition that you have disclosed all material facts to me in relation to your breach of my copyright.

This offer applies to settlement of your breach of copyright for this image until the date of expiry of the offer, and assumes that you remove the offending copy of the image forthwith (which you have done). No consent to future or continuing use of the image is implied in the foregoing offer. Should you wish to continue use of the image, then that would be subject to separate negotiation and agreement.

Should I not receive notification of acceptance of this offer within the period described above I shall pass the matter to be dealt with by my solicitors and/or debt collection agents, and additional costs will be incurred which I shall recover from you.

Yours sincerely/faithfully”

He wants a share of my profits from his photo! Does he think Jac o’ the North is part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire? I think you’ll agree that Rob Melen’s response to me for using a photo of gaming machines that appeared in a WalesOnline article is a bit OTT.

The picture was in the public domain. Yes, I used it, but his name was clearly visible. There was no attempt to claim it as my own or deny him ownership. (As for the millions I made from it, well, they’re safe in my offshore accounts.)

So why the over-reaction? Come to that, who is Rob Melen? Both questions can be answered by telling you that Rob Melen is the senior photographer for that rabidly pro-Labour rag the Evening Post of Swansea. Currently losing readers faster than any other newspaper in Wales. Here’s his Linkedin profile.

click to enlarge

Another non-coincidence, I suspect, is that the article in which I used the image last September was about Carolyn Harris who is now, thanks to the union block vote, the deputy leader of TELPiW. The blog post that was current when Melen got in touch also contained a section on Harris. Fancy that!

And into the mix you can throw the many references I’ve made to Carolyn Harris over the “dyke shoes” assault, and the vindictive pursuit of the victim who will stand trial in Newport in June charged with theft.

On top of which I have many times criticised the Labour Party. In fact, I detest every last one of the verminous bastards that keep my homeland poor and my people subjugated.

So let’s put it all together: A photographer contacts me for using an image of his that appeared in an online newspaper. Guilty, but his name was clearly visible. And the picture? Well, it was a picture of a room full of gaming machines; it was never going to win a competition . . . even a competition for a picture showing a room full of gaming machines.

But someone saw the photo on this blog, and his name, and had a little word: ‘Listen, Rob, love, we’re gonna use you to get that bastard Jac o’ the North. Alright? Well, of course it’s alright innit – you want to keep your job, don’t you? There’s a good boy.’

Am I being unfair on Robert Melen? No, I think not. You see, his e-mails gave away the fact that they had been pasted from some other source. The shadow of the selected text was still visible in the e-mail.

click to enlarge

Yes, I could understand the shadow if he was copying the legal bits, but both e-mails were pasted in their entirety, even the parts he was supposed to have written himself! It is unmistakeable. At the end of his second e-mail Melen didn’t even realise he was supposed to choose when confronted with “Yours sincerely/faithfully”.

I have not replied to Robert Melen’s second e-mail (or whoever wrote it). What do you think I should do? I’d like to hear in particular from the lawyers among you.

Drop me a line to editor@jacothenorth.net.

♦ end ♦

 

Apr 252018
 

SHEEP AND GOATS

My attention was drawn last Saturday morning to a very curious story on the BBC Wales website. Telling of some woman named Miranda Whall who has been crawling around on all fours in the hills inland of Aberystwyth (apparently sober!). Read it for yourself.

Photo by Rhys Thwaites-Jones captured from the BBC Wales website, click to enlarge

My instant, and characteristically cynical, reaction, put out on Twitter, was, “Rarely does one encounter such unutterable bollocks. There must be grant funding involved somewhere”.

Sure enough, I was very soon sent evidence that this stunt had netted £25,000 from the Lottery. Was there also money from other sources?

Source unknown, click to enlarge

According to the BBC Wales report the inspiration for this stunt ground-breaking transhuman art “came to Miranda in 2015 after reading a book called The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, which explores life in the Scottish Cairngorms. (Are there other Cairngorms?) She said: ‘Nan Shepherd wrote about immersing herself in the mountains and opening up her imagination to rethink how we look at them’.”

Let’s be honest – which of us hasn’t felt that same urge to rush into the hills and become one with our woolly compatriots. (Not a reference to the Liberal Democrats.) Many of us do it regularly . . . and some get caught. But enough of that.

The BBC article, by Gwyneth Rees, also provided a link to a video on the Vimeo platform by the Rhys Thwaites-Jones whose photograph I’ve used above. The video is called Woolly Maggot. Which I suppose makes sense to somebody.

Further information received directed me to an article in the Daily Mail telling of someone pretending to be a goat in the Swiss Alps back in 2015. Here it is. The article tells us that being a goat was not Thomas Thwaites’ first choice: ‘I initially wanted to be an elephant, but it wasn’t going very well,’ said Thwaites. ‘I visited a shaman, and she said “you’re an idiot”. So, I decided to be a goat.’

I suggest Thwaites thanks the shaman. Trying to mix in with a herd of elephants could have ended a lot worse than scraped knees and Swiss shepherds wetting their lederhosen. The lions would definitely have targeted him as the weak one in the herd.

Thwaites was funded in this nonsense by the Wellcome Trust to the tune of £30,000 for five months. A paid holiday in the Alps is nice work if you can get it. If you class it as work, that is.

from the wellcome trust website, click to enlarge

At this point, might it be worth speculating that Rhys Thwaites-Jones is married to the sister of goat man Thomas Thwaites? And, as a consequence, that Miranda Whall’s inspiration came from the brother-in-law of the guy who made her video, rather than some crazy old bat up in the hielands.

Or is there a clique of them – a flock? a herd? – out there looking for sponsors? There certainly seems to be plenty of money out there for anybody who can come up with an idiotic and self-indulgent project that ticks the right boxes.

Personally, I’m thinking of applying for a grant to imagine myself as an Argentine wine drinker. For which I shall need to live in Argentina for a while (take in a few football games, the odd asado, tango lessons with bosomy Argie matrons) and then, to satisfy the funders, make a film of me getting pissed really getting into the role and attending a rally to demand the return of the Malvinas.

It’ll be hard, but I promise to give it my best shot.

Finally, for anyone who might have been wondering, Miranda was trying to pass herself off as a sheep during the summer months, before the rams are brought in to do their stuff. Just as well, I suppose, otherwise Miranda might have found out what it’s like to be sheep in ways she hadn’t planned.

On the plus side, it would have been far more authentic and given Rhys Thwaites-Jones a much more interesting video. The boy could have made a fortune on YouTube. (And certain websites I’m informed cater for that sort of thing.)

CHAD AND BRAD MOVE TO RHYL

Regular readers will know that over many years I have questioned the practice of dumping England’s criminals and degenerates on the north coast. Rhyl being the town worst affected.

Nothing seems to change to judge by a recent report of brothers from Walsall going on a rampage in the town. Although, unusually, the BBC report I’ve linked to does say that they came from Walsall. As does this report in Birmingham Live. But the good old Daily Post has the headline “‘Dangerous’ Rhyl brothers who stabbed pop man jailed for 16 and a half years” with no mention of Walsall.

Courtesy of BBC Wales, click to enlarge

This case prompts the same old questions:

  • Who brought the Daniels brothers into Wales?
  • Were the local authority and police made aware that two dangerous little thugs had (been) moved onto their patch?
  • On the assumption that North Wales Police must know about this unending influx, does the force get payments to cover the extra work involved, and if so, where do these payments come from?
  • Why are local politicians so easy-going about a regular influx of violent people that endanger, and indeed murder and assault their constituents?
  • Why have journalists written up their reports as if these criminals were local? Or is the decision to hide the origin taken at an editorial level?

Chief Inspector Neil Harrison of North Wales Police commented on the case, “We are determined to maintain a safe North Wales and will always pursue those who bring harm to our communities.” If he’s serious then he and North Wales Police will do something to stop the dumping of scum like this in Wales.

The bottom line here is that ‘re-locating’ England’s rejects in Wales would be much less likely to happen if we had our own legal system. Because do you think Scotland accepts English criminals? The fact that Wales suffers dumping on an industrial scale is one of the reasons London refuses us a separate legal system.

Next time the issue comes up in Westminster I want Welsh MPs to remember all the people in Wales who have been killed, raped, robbed and assaulted by criminals who wouldn’t have been in our country if we had our own jurisdiction.

WOODY ALLEN LOOKALIKE DEFENDS ROD LIDDLE AND FEDOR THE ‘JUGONOSTALGIC’ JOINS IN

The fall-out from Alun Cairns’ announcement that the second Severn Crossing will be officially named the Prince of Wales Bridge continues.

After Rod Liddle’s contribution in the Sunday Times we were treated to James Delingpole’s defence of Liddle in debate with my MP Liz Saville Roberts. (Delingpole is a real person and a journalist, not a character from one of the earlier series of Blackadder.)

We’re all familiar with the defence used by Liddle, Delingpole and others too numerous to name. We Welsh lack a sense of humour, we are told to ‘get a life’, and most important of all, by defending ourselves we are attacking someone else’s freedom to express themselves.

click to enlarge

Which is where I would normally agree with our detractors, for I have always opposed political correctness and the censorship that goes with it.

But those we are discussing are not really defending freedom of speech. What they are defending is the right of an extreme form of English nationalism to say whatever it likes about minorities in these islands, be they ‘minorities’ that pre-date the arrival of the English or minorities here as a result of England’s imperial past.

For no matter how measured and urbane the likes of Delingpole may appear, beneath the surface there writhes a shield-beating Beowulf trying to break out and slay the Grendels defiling their land.

This is no more than we can expect from English writers, but perhaps the most bizarre and insulting defence of Cairns’ decision came from within Wales. I’m referring now to a piece on the Wales Arts Review by Fedor Tot.

‘Who he?’ you demand. Well, Tot describes himself on his Twitter account @redrightman (which uses a picture of a fag-smoking Tito) as a “Serbian-born, Welsh-raised. Yugonostalgic. Probable Comemeunist.” Make of that what you will.

Despite prefacing his piece with, “The decision to rename the Severn Bridge as the Prince of Wales Bridge to is by all means a silly and empty one, one designed purely as a meaningless PR exercise for Tory powers in Westminster, who have no interest in Wales other than as a resource for cheap sheep jokes and the occasional seat. It is a vacuous symbol of valueless political power” he then goes on to attack those opposing this “vacuous symbol” and links them with fascists!

Tot is a Serb, and like many Serbs he suffers from motes and beams, blaming ‘nationalism’ – on the part of Croats, Slovenes, Albanians, Muslims and others – for the break-up of Jugoslavia, but is himself blind to Serbian nationalism. It’s as if the ruling or majority group in a multi-national state can never be guilty of nationalism because it seeks to hold the state together against the centrifugal forces of peripheral nationalisms.

He seems unable to grasp that those seeking to hold such states together are themselves motivated by selfish and nationalistic reasons. The difference being that Jugoslavia was cobbled together after World War One and the Serbs didn’t have enough time to confuse Serbian identity with Jugoslav identity in the way that the English have done, to the extent of Englishness and Britishness now being synonymous and interchangeable.

This explains why Tot can attack us for being nationalistic in opposing the PoW Bridge but make only passing reference to the British nationalism explicit in the naming. (Though I suppose that the confused and unproofread intro could be the work of someone else.)

Though the boy shows promise as a political commentator with this observation: “I would like to clarify for a second here: I do not consider the majority of Plaid Cymru to be a nationalist party, and neither should it consider calling itself a nationalist party, despite the common usage of the term ‘civic nationalism’. Rather what Plaid calls for is something that’s better off being called regionalism or autonomism, as it promotes economic and political independence based on the existence of a region traditionally ignored by centralised powers, a response I very much respect and agree with.”

Chwarae teg, Fedor.

It may be no coincidence that Fedor Tot’s rather silly and insulting piece appeared on the website of the Wales Arts Council, a Cardiff organisation that relies on the ‘Welsh’ Government for much of its funding. I ask you to note that fact because Fedor Tot’s piece was nothing but a reiteration of the BritNat line.

It was the nationalism of the state, be it Britain or Jugoslavia.

P.S. Fedor Tot wants me to make it clear that he is not a Serbian nationalist. Fair enough, I’m happy to do that.

But he describes himself as a Yugonostalgic, in that he yearns for the old Jugoslavia. But Jugoslavia was Serbia’s little empire, held together by the power of Serbian nationalism; as soon as they could, the other nationalities got out.

So what is he nostalgic for? Tell us, Fedor.

‘NUFFIN TO SEE HERE, GUV’

If what I’m hearing is true, then a terrible crime has been perpetrated in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Earlier this year work began on a ‘road-widening’ scheme on Five Mile Lane, or the A4226. Though as the video shows, what contractors Alun Griffiths have done looks suspiciously like cleared land for housing or some other development.

This would be bad enough in itself, but the allegations made in the video are that a very important archaeological site has been destroyed and human remains treated with contempt.

The video also tells us that archaeological work was undertaken at the site by Rubicon Heritage Services. This is an Irish company run by Colm Moloney with a separate presence this side of the water in the form of Rubicon Heritage Services (UK) Ltd. This company conveniently went bust last month.

Rubicon could be a kosher outfit, on the other hand it could be the kind of company that – for a price – will find nothing to impede developers.

I urge you to watch the video and draw your own conclusions. Then, if, like me, you feel that an insult of national significance has been perpetrated I’d like you to contact the politicians who seem to have given the green light to this desecration or else may be minded to stop it and save what can be salvaged.

Given that it is our history, and people living in Wales today are descended from those who lived on this site, those whose remains were treated with contempt, this may explain why local archaeologists were not employed. Come to that, who was responsible for hiring an ‘archaeology’ company from God knows where teetering on the brink of liquidation? Or were those the attractions of Rubicon Heritage Services?

The local MP is Alun Cairns. The local AM is Jane Hutt. You’ll see in the link I’ve given to the Vale of Glamorgan council website that Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, is involved, here are his contact details. The Regional AMs are Gareth Bennett (Ukip), and of course, Neil McEvoy.

Make your voice heard. Demand answers as to who gave the order for a ‘road-widening’ project to exceed its planning consent and destroy a valuable Bronze Age, Iron Age, possibly Neolithic site.

AND FINALLY . . .

Carwyn Jones has thrown in the towel, though I’m at a loss to understand why anyone was surprised by the announcement he made last weekend at the ‘Welsh’ Labour conference. He’s been doomed since Carl Sargeant’s suicide on November 7th and the evidence started emerging about the role of lobbyists Deryn and other parties.

The hot favourite to replace him as Labour leader and First Minister is Mark Drakeford, the Assembly Member for Cardiff West, just. For at the last Assembly election in May 2016 Drakeford was given a nasty shock by local councillor Neil McEvoy standing for Plaid Cymru.

Although he didn’t win Cardiff West Neil McEvoy made it to the Assembly as Regional Member for South Wales Central.

click to enlarge

Now whoever leads the Labour Party in Wales is expected to be a constituency (rather than a regional) AM; he or she is also expected to have a solid majority in order to be able to concentrate on being leader rather than having to worry about holding on to their seat.

But if the trend evident in 2016 is repeated in 2021 then Drakeford might not be elected. For Neil McEvoy is a man on the rise . . . or was until his own party decided to sabotage his political career. Let’s look at the chronology.

  1. By June 2017 it was widely believed that Carwyn Jones was preparing to stand down in the near future. This report lists four potential successors, but Drakeford is not among them.
  2. In September, and on vague and flimsy charges, Plaid Cymru suspends Neil McEvoy.
  3. On November 7th Carl Sargeant commits suicide and questions start to be asked about who knew what and when, and the role of employees and ex-employees of Carwyn Jones.
  4. In mid-January, and with pressure increasing on Carwyn Jones, Plaid Cymru expels Neil McEvoy from the party’s Assembly group.
  5. On March 19th, and with Carwyn Jones now clearly doomed, Neil McEvoy is expelled from Plaid Cymru for 18 months. He will never be allowed back in, but the best option is to leave him in limbo.
  6. April 21st and Carwyn Jones announces he’s standing down. Mark Drakeford is the front-runner to succeed him.

In less than a year, the threat of losing in 2021 to Neil McEvoy is removed and Drakeford emerges from obscurity to be the shoe-in successor to Carwyn Jones. Whether by accident or design the engineered downfall of Neil McEvoy parallels the emergence of his rival in Cardiff West to be the next First Minister of Wales. Funny old game, politics, innit?

“I’m the unity candidate” says the headline in this report, but Drakeford might also be the Plaid Cymru candidate.

♦ end ♦

 

Apr 132018
 

A guest post by Aled Gwyn Jôb

‘Tri chynnig i Gymro’ (Three tries for a Welshman) is a very old and much-loved Welsh saying.

Where Leighton Andrews and Mark Drakeford ultimately feared to tread, the Welsh Government’s own inimitable attack dog, Alun Davies, is now all set to get his teeth into Local Government re-organisation.

But, if this to mean anything other than a tokenistic tinkering with the map of Wales once again, surely the process has to involve meaningful change this time round.

It’s an opportunity to look afresh at what local democracy should actually mean today, and how it can manifest itself anew in different parts of Wales. The long neglected link up between health care and social care should definitely be on the agenda, as well as democratic control of social housing, a sector which has grown exponentially over the past few years with little or no local scrutiny attached to it.

With Cardiff having a disproportionate slice of the political and economic cake, there is also a strong case for the creation of perhaps no more than 6 regional authorities to counter-balance the Cardiff-centricity of modern Wales, and those authorities imbued with real powers. Which could even perhaps include some element of tax-varying powers of their own, as is the case with local authorities in the thriving Basque Country.

It’s also high time for some radical thinking where the Welsh language and local government is concerned.

It presents a golden opportunity to implement the idea proposed by Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru AM – i.e. to create ARFOR, a single authority for the Welsh-speaking areas of Ynys Môn, Gwynedd, Ceredigion, and Caerfyrddin, which would operate through the medium of Welsh.

The much-maligned nationalist thinker, Saunders Lewis predicted that the Welsh language would decline faster with a Welsh Government in situ in Cardiff than it would under Westminster control, unless local government first conducted its work through the medium of Welsh in Y Fro Gymraeg.

With less than 5 per cent of deliberations at Y Senedd conducted in Welsh (well below the national 21 per cent of Welsh speakers), Saunders Lewis’ prophecy seems to have been borne out.

Every single party at Y Senedd (even UKIP) pledges strong support for Welsh in public: but the harsh truth after 20 years of devolution is that English has become the governing language in our national parliament. With the best will in the world, this is not going to change any time soon.

A cultural and political counterpoint is sorely needed to provide Cymraeg with real status and power- located in those areas where it remains an everyday living language.

Socio-linguists agree that a minority language requires some form of territorial integrity in order to thrive. Increasing use is now being made of environmental metaphors with a minority language imagined as a plant or flower which has to have a secure habitat in order to be able to breathe, grow and flourish.

If we continue with the environmental metaphor, most of us are all aware that Welsh’s natural habitat has been eroding on a frighteningly fast rate over the past two generations.

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At the time of the 1961 census there were areas within sight of Stradey Park and Llandudno promenade where over 80% of the population spoke Welsh, and the whole of the west apart from south Pembrokeshire was mainly Welsh speaking.

By the 2011 census however, this former solid bank of Welsh speakers across these western counties had dried up alarmingly with Gwynedd down to 64% of  Welsh speakers, Ynys Mon 59%, Ceredigion on 48% and Caerfyrddin down to 44%.

The calamitous retreat of Cymraeg in these heartlands since 1951, has been virtually ignored by all the political parties. Partly of course because of the thorny reality that this decline has been accelerated by an inflow of migration from England- with the vast majority of these incomers not showing any inclination to learn the language of their new country. Not one party, not even Plaid Cymru, has dared to challenge and oppose this hugely destructive process over the years.

But the decline has also been about an exodus of Welsh-speaking people, especially younger people in search of employment opportunities, not available in the traditional Welsh-speaking areas. Cardiff of course has been the main beneficiary of this exodus and although it’s comforting on one level that these people are at least staying in Wales, there can be no denying that this process has denuded their home communities of their  vitality, their energy and their creativity.

The habitat needs to be rewilded, and the best way to start is with an idea

ARFOR could operate with say 60 elected councillors( 15 from the 4 areas). The geographic distances between Caergybi on Ynys Môn and Llanelli in Carmarthenshire need not be a problem in an age of fast-developing video conferencing. Its nominal headquarters could be based, say, in Aberystwyth or even Machynlleth, but with specific departments located in all four areas.

Arfor should be able to draw up a strategic trajectory for its territory in terms of economic development, housing, planning, social care and other key sectors such as food and drink, tourism, entrepreneurship and language regeneration.

The overall plans could then be implemented at a more local level by beefing up the role of present day community councils. These could be re-imagined by reviving the old model of the rural/town district councils (with several local community councils coming together to form these new entities) employing staff to discharge the duties delivered downwards by the central Arfor authority.

This would allow both a regional identity and a local identity to co-exist and co-create a better future for the heartlands which have only known decline, despair and disillusionment for the past two generations.

Cyngor Sir Gwynedd has already pioneered the way, having operated successfully through the medium of Welsh since the mid 90ies. Ynys Môn has declared that they are now going to follow its example. Arfor is half way there already.

As to the predictable concerns that Arfor would “divide” Wales, and re-ignite the old arguments aired in the 1970ies about such an idea, I would argue that the Welsh national identity is much more secure today than back then. That identity is secure enough to be able to live with the thought that different parts of Wales should perhaps be able to do things differently.

And there is no need to fret either that such a development would allow the other 5/6 regional authorities to ignore Welsh, because the Welsh Language Standards passed by Y Senedd recently will ensure that a modicum of bilingualism will remain in the others.

Associate membership of Arfor could also be provided over time to other Welsh-speaking areas, e.g Dyffryn Conwy, Parts of Denbighsire, Powys and Pembrokeshire, who wish to be part of the new entity.

Arfor has the potential to do more to develop the Welsh language than almost any other language success gained over the years, even arguably S4C – now a pale shadow of its former self and shorn of the clout it used to have in Welsh-speaking Wales.

It will give Welsh real political and economic clout in its traditional heartlands. It will provide employment opportunties and career structures for Welsh speakers from all over Wales. It will, at a stroke, make learning Welsh a real, economic and social necessity for incomers to these areas. It is quite literally, the golden bullet as far as language regeneration is concerned in Y Fro Gymraeg.

Cultural regeneration in the heartlands will undoubtedly lead to economic regeneration as well. It can be a magnet for Welsh speakers from all over the UK and wider afield. It can prove an inspiration to Welsh learners all over Wales and beyond to see that Welsh can thrive as a living, community language.

As Alun Davies weighs up his options, and perhaps even his legacy as far as the Welsh language is concerned as an enthusiastic learner himself, he might be tempted to bring that famous Bill Clinton slogan to mind, and re-phrase it to say : “It’s the culture, stupid” in seeking to effect change.

♦ end ♦

Jac chips in . . .

As persuasive as Aled’s argument is, I’m not totally convinced. For two main reasons. First, I’m one of those who believes it would divide Wales. Second, I look to Ireland’s Gaeltacht and I see no great success to emulate.

My fears on dividing Wales can be explained with an anecdote. My wife’s eldest brother lives in Crickhowell. About 20 years ago, with the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign still fresh in the memory, we were visiting and I got talking to my brother-in-law’s eldest son.

He brought up the subject of the campaign and made a forceful point that youngsters of his age in that area were experiencing a similar problem from retirees, good-lifers, commuters and others pushing up local property values – but nobody seemed to care about them because they didn’t speak Welsh.

The realisation of Arfor could result in those sentiments I heard in Crickhowell being raised again. And not just by sincere and sympathetic people like my nephew, but by the growing army of anti-Welsh bigots getting bolder by the day.

Which is why if Arfor does became reality I would like to see legislation introduced to protect anglophone Welsh identities in other rural areas. Otherwise Arfor could alienate people from Rhuddlan to Rhossili.

Now let’s turn to the Gaeltacht, as I guarantee many will do! It seems to be widely acknowledged in Ireland that the whole concept has been a failure. Everybody seems to blame everybody else, but the fact remains that the Gaeltacht is largely symbolic and kept afloat by a state reluctant to admit its abject failure.

The maps below tell their own story. (Available here in PDF format.)

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Maybe a Gaeltacht made up of small, widely separated areas was doomed to fail, and this might be Arfor’s advantage over the Irish model.

But let’s assume that the Arfor project takes off, how is it to be sold to the large, non-Welsh populations in Beddgelert, Betws-y-Coed, Barmouth, Tywyn, Aberdyfi, Borth, New Quay – even Aberystwyth? Will these communities be able to opt out?

Whether these settlements buy in or not to survive Arfor will need positive discrimination in favour of the indigenous population coupled with restrictions on who can move in . . . which would send the English media and its Welsh lapdogs into a feeding frenzy!

As I say, I would prefer to see all-Wales legislation that could protect all areas facing similar problems. A strategy guaranteeing that locals get priority in housing, employment, education, training, grants, and everything else, with nothing forced on these areas unless it is of demonstrable benefit to the local population.

But if we can’t have a national strategy, then I would support Arfor, but my support could never be wholehearted.