Conserving Heritage, Maintaining Colonialism


Keeping tabs on the incestuous, grant-fuelled world of the Welsh heritage industry could be a full-time job in itself. It seems there is no end to the number of charitable trusts set up to take advantage of the funding available ostensibly to rescue this or that old ruin or building, with some familiar names cropping up here, there and everywhere, often with tenuous links to our country and its people.

A linguistic digression

Anyone who lives and works in more than one language and has given the matter some thought will tell you that, depending on which language they use, the world can sometimes look rather different. This is often true of conceptual words, for example.

Watching debates in county councils sometimes brings this into sharp focus. One side or the other will table a motion (cynnig = offer, proposal in Welsh). Opponents may then try to change or wreck it by tabling an amendment. In Welsh, that’s a gwelliant (=improvement).

By no means all amendments are a gwelliant.

In English the vast majority of conceptual words are derived from Latin or Greek. Heritage, perhaps appropriately in this context, comes down to us from Norman French and means something you have inherited.

You could inherit a property in Australia or downtown Manhattan without ever having set foot in either place, and your good fortune would be down to luck of the draw and the legal system.

In Welsh the word is treftadaeth, and if we break that word down, as children are encouraged to do at school, we get tref (place/homestead) + tad (father) + aeth, a suffix which very roughly means ‘something to do with’. In other words, places linked to your forebears, an idea not a million miles removed from hen wlad fy nhadau.

The difference between the legalistic connotations of the Norman French and the Welsh word, rooted in real people and places, goes to the heart of the debate which has been raging on the pages of this blog.

Ystrad Fflur

To its credit, the Ceredigion Herald picked up on the recent piece on this blog about plans to ‘enhance the visitor experience’ at Ystrad Fflur and help locals to ‘enhance senses of their own identity and wellbeing’, whatever that means, and it contacted Professor David Austin.

In response to questions, the professor huffed and puffed at some length about the wonderful nature of the site and was clearly reluctant to go into mundane details about what precisely was being planned and where the money was coming from.

When pressed, he gave answers which left a lot of wriggle room.

The Strata Florida Trust has acquired the farmhouse, he said, not mentioning the buildings which cluster around it (although the trust’s website says it has acquired those too).


The money had come from a private donation, and he was not prepared to say more on that subject.

The Acanthus Holden plan (the exclusive hotel with attached visitor centre) was to have been financed privately, but had now been ditched.

The only link to Cambrian Heritage Regeneration Trust (CHRT, the Llanelly House body) was CHRT’s chief executive Claire Deacon, he claimed.

What happened to the £200,000 donation CHRT received to buy the buildings at Mynachlog Fawr therefore remains a mystery.

Plans, also shrouded in mystery, to develop the old farm, would be financed by a variety of means, he explained:

“There is other funding available to us, which is not Heritage Lottery Fund money, and we are in the process of finalising the arrangements for the allocation of that money to the Strata Florida Trust.”

That does not quite rule out HLF funding, and raises more questions than it answers.

Who is funding this, and why the secrecy? Is cash-strapped Ceredigion County Council involved, for example?

One of the contributors to comments on the original article about Ystrad Fflur suggested that there might be some form of local consultation. In his interview with the Herald, Professor Austin makes no mention of a consultation, and his website is also silent on the subject.

What we are about to get, it seems, is a fully fledged project for the commercial exploitation of Ystrad Fflur with no public consultation and  zero transparency about the details of the development.

Adfer Ban a Chwm

Adfer Ban a Chwm (ABC), or to give it its more prosaic English name, “Revitalise Hill and Valley”, is  another trust, this time registered to an address in trendy Islington, London where Tony and Gordon made their infamous Granita Pact.

Its annual report for the year to 31 March 2015 says that the charity’s objectives “are to preserve for the benefit of the people of Carmarthenshire, Powys, Wales and the Nation” what it terms “constructional heritage”, and in particular the pretty bits.

Presumably “the Nation” is not the same as Wales.

The website expands on this a little, saying that the trust aims to “address the issues of vernacular buildings in rural Wales and the need for affordable housing in the area”.

Adfer Ban a Chwm’s leading light is an architect, Roger Mears, pictured here at what would appear to be the Henley Regatta, old boy:


ABC (it should really be ABCh) was set up eight years ago and appears to have spent most of the period since applying for and receiving grants from, among others, the Brecon Beacon National Park Authority, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Brecon Beacons Trust, the Community Foundation in Wales and the Quaker Housing Trust. More trusts and foundations than you can shake a stick at, in fact.

It is not at all clear what ABC has actually achieved in those eight years apart from a year of planning, researching and writing a report in 2014-15 and raking in grants.

More grant money came in in May 2016 enabling it to proceed with its Grass Roots Heritage Programme, “a one-year project (the first year of a three-year programme) which we hope will identify buildings that we can turn into affordable homes.”

So after all that time, all that report writing and all those (successful) grant applications, it would seem that not a single building has been restored and not a single affordable home created, although the trust hopes to be able to identify potential candidates by this time next year.

Over the next 12 months, therefore, they will carry out “mapping and community work” in and around Myddfai, Carmarthenshire:

“This information will be used to underpin the next stage of the ABC project, and be broadcast widely in a series of interactive community workshops, where the social history of the buildings will be elaborated by gathering local memories and stories, and where community and student volunteers will learn about how to record old buildings, what to look for and what these buildings have to tell us, how they might be repaired and conserved and turned into affordable homes.”

Helping ABC along the way by working with the trust’s executive director on partnerships has been our old friend, Claire Deacon, CEO of Cambrian Heritage Regeneration Trust, saviour of Llanelly House and the Merthyr YMCA, project director at Mynachlog Fawr, lecturer and consultant, and former conservation officer with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

All in all, then, one of the most successful “Welsh” buildings preservation trusts: loads of grants harvested and no sign of any actual buildings. Perhaps Griff Rhys Jones will turn it into a documentary series.

Golden Grant

Staying in Carmarthenshire for a moment, let’s take a trip to Gelli Aur (or Golden Grove as some would have it), the former home of the Cawdors near Llandeilo.

The huge late Regency pile has been knocked about a bit and badly neglected since the last of the Cawdors moved out in the 1930s. Carmarthenshire County Council, which had a lease on the place, can take credit for the worst of the damage.

At one time the council and the ever-enthusiastic Meryl Gravell hoped to turn the place into a kind of business incubator for media start-ups. Their chosen partner disappeared with a lot of public money which was never seen again. Ever more exotic investors came and went, until finally the house and 100 acres were sold to a London art dealer, Richard Christopher Salmon.

Salmon has renovated a part of the house and made the roof of the main building weatherproof, but one of his first acts after taking over was to set up a trust.

The Golden Grove Trust, which has no known sources of income, was gifted with a debt of £1.45 million by Mr Salmon, a sum which apparently represents the purchase price of the near derelict house and dilapidated grounds. If that was what he actually paid for this massive liability, someone saw him coming.

The debt is due to be repaid – somehow – to Mr Salmon in just over a year from now.


Filing accounts is clearly not one of Mr Salmon’s favourite activities. The Charity Commission website shows that the 2012-13 accounts were received 583 days late, while the report for 2013-14 was 218 days late. The annual report for 2014-15 is currently 78 days late.

Despite this and the fact that the trust was close to being struck off by the Charity Commission, the charity was last year awarded a grant of just under £1 million by Edwina Hart, Meryl’s old buddy, for the restoration of the park which occupies around 60 of the 100 acres of land and includes, or included (it is difficult to know which tense to use) a public park with a playground, lake, café and arboretum.

The Carmarthenshire Herald reported a couple of weeks ago that there were a growing number of complaints from the public that the park was closing on more and more days, and that public access signs had been removed.

With some difficulty the newspaper managed to track down Mr Salmon who thought, but did not seem very sure, that the closure might have something to do with adverse weather conditions, and concerns of the insurers on health and safety grounds.

Readers in Carmarthenshire may struggle to recall unusually bad weather in recent months, but there you are.

Mr Salmon was clearly not best pleased with critical blog posts and press reports published in 2015, and told the Herald that he could have shut the whole place up and kept it private.

But then Edwina wouldn’t have given him £1 million, would she?

Another one to watch.

This is a local fund run by local people

“I used to work for Neil Kinnock, you know”

As we have seen, grants are available from all sorts of different bodies, but what the Americans would call the 800 lb gorilla in this jungle is without doubt the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The fund’s website lists 2,785 projects which have received funding in Wales. Amounts vary from a couple of hundred pounds, to mammoths such as Cardigan Castle (£6.5 million) and Llanelly House (£3.6 million).

The HLF divides the UK into regions and nations, and each of these has its own committee and permanent head. The head of HLF Wales is someone called Richard Bellamy, whose previous roles include working on the Channel Tunnel, the National Trust, English Nature and Cornwall Council. If he has a connection with Wales, he is keeping quiet about it.

The committee, which decides on applications in Wales, currently has eight members, and according to HLF’s website:

“The committees are made up of local people recruited through open advertisement. Committees are supported by grant-assessment teams based in the relevant region or country.”

In theory, then, anyone can apply. Who selects the successful candidates is not clear, but it clearly helps if you have worked for English Heritage or the National Trust and, ideally, come from somewhere in or near Cardiff.

Chairing the committee is the august personage of Baroness Kay Andrews of Southover OBE. Andrews, who grew up at Ystrad Mynach, was parliamentary clerk in the House of Commons before becoming policy adviser to Neil Kinnock, from where she went on to found and run her own charity, Education Extra.

On elevation to the peerage, Andrews clearly felt so strongly about her Welsh roots that she chose Southover in Sussex for her title, and it is from Sussex that she claims travel expenses when going to the House of Lords.

The HLF’s rule on appointing ‘local people’ to the Welsh Committee does not seem to be taken that seriously, but no doubt there was nobody ‘locally’ up to the job, just as there were no suitable Welsh candidates for the post of Head of HLF Wales.

But we should all be grateful, shouldn’t we?

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ End ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jac says . . . In these recent posts – and, indeed, in the one I’m working on now – we encounter groups and individuals who have hit on a method of subsidising their move to Wales and/or maintaining themselves once they’re here. Human nature being what it is, this is understandable; what is less easy to understand is why these people are being funded.

To explain how this scam system operates . . . let’s say you want to buy and renovate a somewhat dilapidated old house. And let’s say you pay £100,000 for that property knowing that it will cost another £100,000 to restore. That house will therefore cost you £200,000. But that’s a mug’s way of doing things. What those we’re discussing do is buy a property and get someone else to pay for the renovation. Sticking with the same figures, this means that for an outlay of just £100,000 they get a property worth £200,000.

To which you respond, ‘Ah, but Jac, you’ve been on the Malbec again, and it’s making you forget that these are important buildings, of great historical or cultural significance’. I suppress my usual riposte of ‘bollocks!’ to offer the following argument.

If these buildings are indeed of great historic or cultural significance then they should be in public ownership – WELSH public ownership. If they are not of great historic or cultural significance then no public money should be expended, whether directly or in grants to self-appointed ‘heritage trusts’. The worst of all possible options is to have a building or site of genuine national importance privately owned but maintained by public funds.

This is nothing less than submitting to a form of blackmail – ‘This place I own is very important (take my word for it), but if you don’t give me lots of money I’ll let it decay/fall down/ be turned into a burger joint’.

As I and others have argued, Wales needs a new body, answerable to us, the Welsh people, that protects what is important to us and our past with sympathy and respect. A new body to replace the English National Trust, Cadw, and all the strangers in our midst with their grant-grabbing ‘trusts’.

It so happens that the ‘Welsh’ Government is currently inviting observations on ‘Proposals for secondary legislation to support the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016 and draft guidance’. The same shower also claims to want ‘your views on this technical advice note which provides detailed planning advice on the historic environment in Wales’.

So tell them what you think they should do, the deadline is October 3rd.

36 thoughts on “Conserving Heritage, Maintaining Colonialism

  1. Brychan

    One of the problems with our historical buildings is that in the planning system. While local authorities are required to ‘consult’ a heritage body prior to demolition or conversion, this consultation usually is made with a ‘trust’ that has little understanding of the real historical significance of the building. English people staff these ‘trusts’ with an eye for the twee but no knowledge of the real cultural heritage.

    Here is an example..
    The report says that ‘there are no recorded archaeological features’, and the chapel was subsequently converted into a residential dwelling.

    The chapel is pivotal in Welsh history. Founded in 1859 by, and the ministry of one Abraham Mathews, who departed from his congregation in 1865 on a ship called the Mimosa. He was of the pioneer settlement to Patagonia and became known as ‘Esgob y Wladfa’ of the Afon Camwy (Chubut) community. Regarded as a local hero there. Commemorated and celebrated in Argentina.

    However, his chapel in Wales reported as being of ‘no historical significance’ got conversion planning consent from RCT council. It’s now an unremarkable house which boasts a conservatory and some decking with requisite plastic trampoline from Argos. Heritage wiped off the face of Wales. The only recommendation was that a pre-conversion survey be undertaken ”to the second level of English Heritage Understanding Historical Buildings” to be held on file, hidden in the Glamorgan archive.

  2. Guest Writer

    A brief update on the increasingly bizarre situation at Gelli Aur. The Carmarthenshire Herald reports this week that the county council has covered up the brown road signs pointing to the park. In an interesting use of language, the council said they were “out of date”.

    The trust set up by Richard Salmon received a grant of almost £1 million from Edwina Hart, spread over three years, to ensure public access to the park. That was a year ago, and it seems there is now less public access than before Redwina stepped in. It seems like only yesterday that her buddy Meryl Gravell was on her feet welcoming the grant and predicting a “wonderful” future for Gelli Aur.

    Inquiries by a number of interested parties trying to find out something – anything – about the mysterious Mr Salmon have drawn a blank. The late Howard Hughes was positively extrovert by comparison.

    1. It appears that the ‘Welsh’ Government and Carmarthenshire County Council find themselves in familiar territory. They have committed a large sum of money to what is clearly a non-starter; which leaves them with two options: 1/ write off the money already given, 2/ commit more public funding. Either way, we, the generous Welsh public, with nothing better to spend this money on, lose out.

  3. dafis

    I notice that some twat at the National Museum is getting all lyrical about “saving” some household crap once belonging to Charles the 2nd ( son of him who lost his ‘ead ) “for the nation “. In which case it should be a London based institution doing the “saving”, but there again the Museum’s man is probably from London as well so it all fits in neatly to the Anglo Brit view of our history. Cnut.

  4. Anonymous

    Here is another example of wealthy incomers hoovering up grants to improve their own property. Sold their home in Hackney for a mint and did their cottage up with public money. They would like us to forget there is a public right of way through their property and have rebuilt in such a way that walkers following the public footpath find themselves hemmed in by buildings and feel that they are trespassing. Law abiding walkers thus turn back while the owners stay beatifically silent.

    1. Brychan

      Yes, they got a restoration grant from Cadw, according to Coast magazine. By the way it’s not ‘public money’. It’s cash taken from the pay packets of Welsh people, then handed over to the Jo’s and Johns of Hackney, for them to live the life of reiley and rent it out to sponge themselves a sound earner in the summer.

      Fucking parasites, being fed up on our cash., without any of us Welshie natives getting anything in return.

      1. Yes, that’s the bottom line. This is Welsh public funding, given out in Wales, but with no benefit for Welsh people. There’ll be more examples in the post I’m putting out on the weekend.

      2. dafis

        really comforting to know that J & J “speaks English”. luvly mun. Scope for a local wit to set up a “twat twitter ” account for these two producing quips like Huw Puw from Fishguard.

        If Cadw, and Cynulliad in general, had an ounce of commercial savvy they’d insert contract clauses reclaiming by instalments any grant aid to “outsiders/in-migrants” where a project crosses a certain income threshold. Indeed they could do the same to native commercial investors. Others natives who renovate places just to live in them could be exempt from this claw back until “capital gain” on sale or inheritance. Over say a 5 or 10 year period good paying investments would have recycled their funding so that funds could be re-used in refurbishing our old rural housing stock

      3. Myfanwy

        What exactly is the ‘Welsh Government’ / CADW thinking about, giving wealthy, holiday home owners, grants to effectively increase their personal wealth, while Welsh heritage sites, such as Sycharth and Bryn Glas, which should be celebrated, are completely neglected? There has to be more at stake here, because, CADW, by their blatant actions, are actively, supporting the anglicisation of Wales, while at the same time subverting any sense of Welsh National identity. Instead of being the guardian, that it should be, nurturing our cultural heritage, CADW, is effectively overseeing it’s cultural genocide!

  5. Myfanwy

    Just wrote a letter to express my opinions about the heritage issues that have been discussed here, to the ‘Welsh Government on proposals for secondary legislation to support the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016, that you linked above. There are two forms to fill in, but it seemed more appropriate to write a letter. Interestingly, I received a very prompt reply, from the Legislation and Policy Officer at CADW, a Mr Bill Zajac, who asked a few questions and was perfectly polite. It was interesting to note, that Mr Zajac, is apparently a specialist in Castles and the Crusades, perhaps it is not surprising then, with such specialists in positions of influence at CADW, that the English history and their Castles perspective is emphasized. Actually, it would be really interesting to consider a list of all the people in positions of power in Wales, whether it be in the heritage industry or in politics and perhaps consider, why, these positions are being filled with people who are promoting a particular, political agenda and why this has it been allowed to happen?

  6. Brychan

    There is a project that a community has established a charity to restore a heritage construction in Wales. It ticks all the boxes for being ‘eco-friendly’, supporting future tourism, providing an amenity to the local community, initialled and run by indigenous local people.

    It was built by the Welsh, cherished by the Welsh. Representitive of our real history and despite every attempt from our colonial masters to kill it; we got together and drew a line in the sand. Here is are NEW holder of our seat in the Senedd speaking at the opening of a new shop to boost the cause that doesn’t use public money to compete with exiting businesses, and genuinely draws wealth and support into the community….

    Perhaps Plaid Cymru AMs in other parts of Wales should take a lesson on what local projects to support, who exactly are behind them, and who in the end, is in benefit. Then they also might get 30% swings in their favour at the ballot box.

    I also have a quote on the subject from a Labour MP who returned from Lincoln cathedral to an event, not wishing to miss the limelight, tho one says one thing on the benches of the London palace but plays the crowd in the constituency he was parachuted into.

    It goes…
    “You take a look at the amount of lottery money spent in the Rhondda, it’s next to nothing. But I think we should need to know how many lottery tickets are bought in the Rhondda, because every time you buy a lottery ticket in Rhondda you knew it was going to be spent on projects like this, you’d be happier about making that contribution.”

    From 0:57.

    I’m sure readers of this blog will be all to willing to throw this quote at Labour politicians up and down Wales. Especially when their ministers hand out cheques for vast sums of money to ‘good lifer colonialists’ and ‘heritage goafers’ who want to doff their caps in glory of medieval castles to commemorate our defeats at ceremonies for the princess and queens of England. Those who refurbish Georgian mansions of our historical masters, the inside of which is never to be seen by the Welsh, and then to be used by those bedecked in gold chains to share a sherry with the lord lieutenants of the shires.

    1. dafis

      well observed Brychan. That’s a project worth undertaking even if it just ends up as the longest underground footpath and cycle way. Even better if we can re-commission a rail link from Rhondda Fawr through to Port Talbot and on to Swansea & West. Could even be included in the grand metro plan, although on second thoughts it might be better to stand on its own as the metro seems to be a bit of a variable vision right now.

      1. I’d love to see the railway re-instated between the Valleys and Swansea Bay, but it won’t happen because there’d be no benefit to Cardiff.

        1. dafis

          Agreed. I know water flows down hill but why does everything have to flow to Cardiff ?

          A saner approach to social, economic and structural policies would have been to have at least 3 hubs in South Wales – Cardiff, Swansea and Merthyr/Blaenau’r Cymoedd with scope for Bridgend & Newport/Cwmbran areas to be No’s 4+5, with numbers of smaller but significant communities in between joining much of it up into continuous “chains”. Westward you could have smaller hubs with a different focus, more rural businesses & industries in places like Carmarthen, Haverfordwest, and up to Builth, Cardigan etc, Mid Wales could be a stretch from Aber across to Newtown/Welshpool with link south to Lland’od and Builth. Up north, a chain of hubs could cover a big territory from the Dyfi to Dee estuary because none of those towns, apart from Wrexham, are huge but emphasising that each centre is a cluster of communities with some kind of local identity. That approach would in turn open the minds of our decision makers to enhancing communications across the country rather than being obsessed with you know where.

          Instead we have the current dominant singularity of Cardiff with our government hoping
          ( maybe ) that something trickles down for the rest of us. Well something is trickling down and it doesn’t taste very fresh !

        2. Brychan

          There is a very fine railway line that flows down to Cardiff, and those who’s heritage is steeped on those rails still refer to it as the Taff Vale Railway. It terminates at a station which has had many names, Cardiff Docks, Bute Road, and now Cardiff Bay. Many from the valleys, including our elected AMs, who work down in that fine city will be familiar with the station.

          The old building, the former headquarters of the Taff Vale Railway Company, is a crumbling wreck, and listed as a heritage site. Those who pass it every day will be wondering who such a building has lain empty for so long and not snapped up to be restored by a private developer.

          It got a re-ferb in the 1980s and housed a railway museum but the rent got too much. It being run by indigenous amateurs no grants fell their way, and the railway enthusiasts de-camped into the Vale. It’s surrounded by the most valuable real estate in the nation. Gold dust property ripe for development it was said. But nothing occurred and it’s fallen into disrepair. The land behind, the old eastern laidage yard, essential for commercial development is owned by the Welsh Government.

          So what’s going on?

          In Aldershot, a charity set up by the Ministry of Defence called “The Museum of Military Medicine Trust” and established the Army Medical Services Museum. It’s a place for misty-eyed worshippers of the armed services go to glory at the equipment used to patch up fallen soldiers. Trouble is, it doesn’t make any money, despite it being in deepest Hampshire, and the MoD has cut it’s funding and de-mobbed the curators.

          MoD funding – £115k in 2011, £103k in 2012, £83k in 2013, £80k in 2014, £77k in 2015. Essentially, the MoD are starving it of funding and want to divest all financial interest. In 2015 £12k was received as a ‘grant’ specifically to finance a move off MoD land.

          In steps the ‘secret deal’ funded by the Welsh Government.

          At the end of last year Edwina Hart signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’, that the crumbling building, the old HQ of the Taff Vale Railway would be handed over to the Army Medial Museum and the land behind it donated for this new site. In return she was made an MBE. It will also receive a grant from Welsh Government funds for a new building to replace the one the MoD are not prepared to fund.

          For those who do commute down from the valleys, then cast your eyes up at the plaque on the wall at Queen Street station. It lists the employees of Taff Vale Railway who gave their lives in WW1. It was removed from the now derelict HQ at Bute Street Station by the Welsh Government. It should also be noted that while the Welsh Government have been forcing unfavourable new contracts of employment on their existing museum employees, they’ve been signing back room secret deals to replace MoD funding with Welsh funding right next door to the Senedd.

          Saving Private Cambrian?

  7. Gay

    Recently went for a wander round gelli aur. I worked there in the 80’s when the country park opred, it went from strength to strength as a visitor (local) destination as free entry, nice gardens (still maintained by agricultural college then, ) then they built a caff, bit basic but did the job nicely . just to correct you but muriel chippins and ilk not in charge thrn, plaid were, when this con-artist bought the place and pretended he was a media tycoon, he wasnt, he,’d gone bust several times over, if company,’s house had only been contacted by Ccc, at that time.

    Anyway went for a visit there the other day- what a mess! Nearly had to trash my way through the arboretum , as it resembles a burmese jungle. The childrens play area has been removed , and seems to be some construction or earth moving business going on there. The cafe is rotting away and all the paths are grown over, i was gutted. Some film company was filming there for a few days, butcwhat a state of affairs.
    The house is of no architectual significance and in a hell of a state as lot of lead was nicked years ago by the “media tycoon” and others and just left to rot, .Even if this bloke has a lot of money it seems a endless moneypit to try and restore, apparently or so they say, he is damien hirst agent or art dealer and is also the owner of golden grove house (llangathen)and various other proprties in the valley.
    What galls me is this was a much loved place of local people, very popular for families and an affordable outing, but has been taken away from them by the scheming council who say they couldnt afford to run it when they have poured millions into the endless money pit that is middleton hall

    1. Guest Writer

      Muriel Chippings, or Meryl Gravell as she is sometimes known, was then as now in charge of the regeneration portfolio, dishing out grants, championing white elephants and cash cow to quite a few “entrepreneurs”. The Gelli Aur Media Technium was one of the schemes that she enthusiastically backed. with around £700k understood to have got lost in the shrubbery.

      Her parting gift looks likely to be a £60 million “wellness” village at Delta Lakes. Perhaps like Prof Austin at Ystrad Fflur she intends to “enhance senses of identity and wellbeing” in Llanelli. Anyone for a nip and tuck and dose of Botox?

  8. Ianto Phillips

    Re Gelli Aur, I’m a bit surprised at the slack people seem to be cutting Mr Salmon (in cahoots with the lethargy/incompetence/corruption of Carmarthenshire Council) in saying even that the park is sometimes open.

    It used to consist of four obvious bits – the house itself, with an attached car park and “cafe”, a small glass patio affair, a cheap and cheerful sort of place.

    The second bit was the arboretum, rather good for a stroll through. Lots of trees and stuff. Mainly trees. I like trees.

    The third bit was the deer park, which was a park. With trees – and deer. Rather good, I like deer. You could walk through it, and you might see some deer.

    The fourth bit was the bit left over – a sort of vaguely overgrown bit, with some rights of way running through the park. A very nice place, I liked walking through it, but anyone who didn’t like just “trees and stuff” for their own sake would have been disappointed.

    Now, the house itself of course has always been inaccessible to visitors.

    The arboretum was the first thing to be closed, for safety reasons (ie money reasons (ie to give an excuse to close more of the park)).

    But hey ho, there was still some of the park left. The deer park was nice.

    But then that part, which had always had a fence round it, was closed.

    This left “the rest”, the bit which wasn’t the other bits. Which has *public rights of way* running through it. Mr Salmon could not close these if he wanted to, so his arrogant and unpleasant blustering about “he could have closed the park and kept it private” is nonsense – or, in fact, it is exactly what he has done.

    Occasionally the front gate may be open, but all this does is allow cars access to a smallish car park and an abandoned cafe which is rapidly turning into a ruined greenhouse cultivating moss. (Along with a tiny patch of land [this is rural Carmarthenshire, remember] you could label a “children’s play area” if you were feeling generous. You know the sort of place)

    This is not sometimes opening the park. It is permanently closing all of the park apart from that bit he can’t because there are public rights of way through it.

  9. dafis

    Lots of huffing and puffing today about the proposals to reduce Wales’ M.P headcount to c.29. This should be welcomed as a short term measure en route to reduction to 0 ! At same time extend the mandate of the Cynulliad and increase A.M’s to say 90 and that would suffice even post Independence unless somebody wanted to extend the “busybody” mandate even further. After a period of consolidation that number could come down to about 50 with the redundant people being found useful jobs to do rather than loitering around their favourite watering holes or “spas”. After all we are a small country so WTF do we need loads of talking heads barking away at each other, sending each other and us to sleep ?

    1. dafis

      and as a postscript to the above we could move quickly to shut down all the grant grabbing facilitation agencies, reverting to a leaner ( and meaner ) operating model. The carpetbaggers would soon get the message and bugger off to blight the nicer parts of England……. although the Sais cottoned on a long time ago and cut out a lot of the frilly crap that goes on in Wales. Still they could all buzz off to EU which could become their favoured destination for scrounging.

    2. Stan

      That nice young man who is MP in Aberavon has already written an article and been on the radio saying the new boundary proposal “severely weakens our democracy and damages communities” and is a “barefaced gerrymander” and a “brutal mathematical” cull. Funny that because the only people in Wales that I’ve heard complaining about dropping the number down to 29 have been MPs and their staff. What looked like a nice little number for Boyo, job for life in Aberavon, is looking increasingly shaky, what with his alignment with the “chicken coup” against Corbyn, the revelations made by Jac about him not coming clean on the private education of his daughter, and now boundary reorganisation. If he has to compete again for a candidacy I just don’t see him making it. What a pity. He seemed to be really attached to the area.

      1. dafis

        no doubt if he get shunted in the shake-up he will buzz off back to the fold in Brussels relying on his network of friends, and to a lesser extent his Danish credentials, to get him fixed up with some well paid number. If Corbyn wins then he’ll probably feel a lot safer there anyway.

      2. Guest Writer

        The maths are indeed brutal, but “barefaced gerrymander”? 90,000 voters in Cambridgeshire NW, and only 48,000 in Aberavon. Without Scotland and with the abolition of so many Labour rotten boroughs, it doesn’t matter whether Oily or Corbyn wins the leadership – Labour is screwed.

        What’s the point of a party which is determined to keep the union, defend the status quo and stay at Westminster without any realistic chance of winning an election apart from keeping Bryant, Oily, Kinnock et al off the streets?

  10. Stan

    Mears and his like must choke with laughter on their Dom Perignon when they think what a soft touch we are. One of the problems is clearly the incestuous relationship between Welsh Labour and the grant guzzling Third Sector in Wales – a point hammered home by Jac for years. This revolving door where people who have an interest in themselves first and Wales second flit from one side to another, lining their pockets and often those of their cronies. I don’t see this changing in the short term though possibly the amount of free money swilling around will be less once Brexit is fully implemented. But the fundamental problem is surely not going to be solved until we can break this ungodly link between the Labour Party and these parasitic “charities”. I don’t hold my breath, but the sooner Welsh Labour itself is consigned to part of Welsh history, the better.

  11. > In Welsh, that’s a gwelliant (=improvement).
    >By no means all amendments are a gwelliant.

    Some of us Anglophones have similar difficulty with the way the word “reform” is used by government.

  12. YBarddCwsc

    “Mears is sporting his college rowing blazer, Corpus Christi College Cambridge. He (and it) have no known connection with Wales”

    Corpus Christi College Cambridge is the alma mater of that other famous Welshman — Neil Mostyn Hamilton.

    We owe them. How can we repay our debts?

    1. dafis

      Mostyn got his first degree at Aberystwyth, indeed inhabited the same Hall as “our Prince” during his brief stay prior to the Caernarfon Circus of 1969. He, Hamilton, ever the opportunist from an early age, felt that a spot of Cambridge on his academic c.v would help him glide up the greasy pole and it sure did. However he attracted trouble like horseshit draws flies, and coming full circle he’s now gracing our Cynulliad representing the region of his early academic success. Whether that’s a full circle going up, or going down, is a matter of opinion. My sympathies tend to lie with his constituents because Mostyn will only go into battle when Mostyn’s best interests are advanced.

  13. Jonathan Edwards

    MYDDFAI – should always ring alarm bells. Its place in our treftadaeth is secure. But for some reason it has a special attraction for the English, a bit like St.Davids. But RRRRinggg! It is one mile as the crow flies from Llwynywermod, Welsh HQ of the Last Prince of Wales, Windsor version.
    I rowed for Wales. And for a while I used to be a Member of the Stewards Enclosure at Henley Royal Regatta until I realised how pointless it was. Mears is sporting his college rowing blazer, Corpus Christi College Cambridge. He (and it) have no known connection with Wales

      1. Stan

        Are you sure it’s not “Twyi”? At least that’s how it’s spelt in the link in your article “Grass Roots Heritage Programme”. FFS – I know it may be just a typo by them – or is it?

  14. dafis

    I’ll be back later hopefully to say something sensible about this interesting addition to the series about exploiting Welsh history without acknowledging its existence !

    In the meantime I must say that the bloke in the dodgy blazer and slacks ensemble is the sort of deviant who from time to time gets nicked by the Old Bill for hanging about in men’s toilets, or giving boys lifts on their way home from school but taking a detour out for a spot of “fun” at his favourite bird watching site on the Downs. Hells bells, have they got a machine churning these nutters out, or are they “formed” by some strange process they undergo at some critical stages of their lives ?

      1. dafis

        neither have we been offered evidence that these people and their weird scams are wanted or needed in Wales. Nuff said !

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