Cydweli: Where’s The Money Gone?

The so-called ‘Welsh Government’s irresponsibility with money is legendary. They speak of  little else in the bazaars of Samarkand, while the elders of Amazonian villages tut tut at the very mention.

In addition, hundreds of millions of pounds are showered every year on magic bean salesmen (and saleswomen), many of whom are from outside of Wales but can sniff easy money.


That heading’s a reference to Cydweli (Kidwelly). It’s explained here . . . sort of. Though I loved the reference to the “zealous Welsh” attacking the Norman castle and the town full of alien settlers.

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If the town was destroyed and the inhabitants killed then describing our ancestors as ‘zealous’ seems a little inadequate. Even trivialising. Though I’m not criticising our forbears, for all nations have the right to respond to invasion and the threat of becoming strangers in their own country.

Some of you will remember that I’ve written about Cydweli before, a little town west of Llanelli, just up the road from Porth Tywyn, where I’ve often sojourned.

In fact, this piece is a follow-up to something I wrote back in January last year. Here’s a link to that earlier post, ‘Tourism or Survival: Wales Must Choose‘, scroll down to the section, ‘Tourism Making Life Difficult for Locals’.

Last year I looked at attempts to re-vitalise the local economy through tourism, which of course brought the threat of the usual problems – holiday homes, few worthwhile jobs, the area attracting retirees and good-lifers, etc.

That attempt was called the Black Cat Tourism Strategy, and in the summer of 2021 we learnt that it had secured £270,000, “to implement a two-year strategy aimed at growing the visitor economy in Kidwelly and Mynydd-y-garreg” (a village to the north east of the town).

The money came from the Coastal Communities Fund, a UK project linked to the Crown Estate; administered in Wales by the ‘Welsh Government’ through the Big Lottery Fund.

And things seemed to begin quite promisingly.

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The grant was awarded to a partnership of the town council and the ‘Hub’, run by Kidwelly Community Hub CIC. (A Community Interest Company.)

To judge by its Facebook page, the Hub has come to the end of the line. Confirmed, it would seem, by this notice from the town council.

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Though I was amused by the fact that most of the comments to the Hub’s valedictory FB post last October were of the, “When can I have my – – – – back?” type, rather than, “We’ll miss you”.

If you scroll down a wee bit further, you’ll come to the FB post you see below. And this is our destination – The Gwên Gwen Festival 2022. (‘Gwen’s smile’?)

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My information is that the bulk of the grant money spend in 2022 went on the Gwên Gwen festival, and it’ll be the same again this year. Most locals believe this is not money well spent. Few turned up last year, and this year’s event doesn’t promise to pull in the punters either.

The Black Cat Tourism Strategy has its own Facebook page, but this seems to offer little beyond Gwên Gwen.


One person who recently contacted me was relaying the concerns of others about what the £270,000 allocated to The Black Cat Tourism Strategy had actually been spent on.

My source wrote, referring to last year’s Gwên Gwen bash:

“Tried getting answers as to where the cash has gone. A massive spend of funds where no one turned up apart from organisers families and a bunch of local hippies. Labour councillor involved and now director of CIC company for same festival this year. Council would not give me figures for cash lost.”

I tried to dig the figures out for myself. There seemed to be three obvious places to look: the town council records, the Hub accounts, and the company I assumed would have been set up to manage the Black Cat Tourism initiative.

Working backwards, the Gwên Community and Regeneration CIC wasn’t set up until February this year. (The grant, remember, was allocated in June 2021.) Thus far, the only document filed with Companies House is the Certificate of Incorporation.

Towards the end of that document we read this minor masterpiece in grant-grab waffle. It really is a gem. I speak as someone who’s read many over the years, and penned a few myself.

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Moving on, what can we learn from the Hub accounts? Well, to begin with, the ‘front page’ on the Companies House entry for the Hub tells us that the last accounts filed were for year ending 31 March 2021. That is, before the grant was awarded.

Which left the town council as the last hope. The minutes tell us little, and the archived accounts seem to be intermittent, with no audited accounts after 2017.

So where is the £270,ooo accounted for? It seems unlikely the Hub will produce any further accounts, and the new company will not be required to produce accounts for the period before it was set up.

Which leads me to suggest that the onus for accounting for the £270,000, in full, must now lie firmly with Kidwelly Town Council, the surviving partner.

Another reason for me saying that is because the council has been paying Gwên Gwen invoices. That’s certainly what the Finance Committee minutes for January tell us.


If we go back to the clip above from the town council minutes of October 2021, we see four names listed in connection with the Black Cat Tourism Strategy. These are: Christine Lamble-Davies, Michelle Collins, Suki Baynton, Aled Westlake.

I believe they’re in this video from March 2022, asking for suggestions. Which could be seen as being open to ideas . . . or possibly not having a clue themselves what to do.

So, in no particular order, here are brief bios . . .

Michelle Collins’ Linkedin profile (here in pdf format) suggests an aspiring artist forced to work for Caws Teifi. When she’s not studying!

But apart from that early mention, I’m not sure what role, if any, Collins played thereafter. There’s certainly no mention of Black Cat on her Linkedin. But she does get a mention here, on the Saatchi Art website.

Aled Guto Westlake, is another artistic type, who lived in Llansamlet, on the east side of Swansea, but seems to have moved to Mynyddygarreg.

His Linkedin profile suggests that he still sees himself as being part of the Black Cat set-up. This, plus his side-line in photography, would appear to be his employment.

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Incidentally, there’s a Councillor Jonathan Westlake representing Mynyddygarreg ward on the town council. I’m told he’s Aled’s dad.

From the same ward we have the mayor, Councillor Carl Peters-Bond; and another Mynyddygarreg councillor in Christopher Peters-Bond.

What a cosy place Mynyddygarreg must be! Dare I suggest, incestuous?

Suki Baynton I mentioned in the earlier piece, so I might as well lift something from that to give her bio.

The Black Cat project lead is Suki Baynton, who recently arrived from the Cynon Valley, where I’m told she was Contaminated Land Officer for Rhondda Cynon Taf council. She was certainly Property Manager for Ashfield Solutions for a while.

We see Suki in the above picture, on the right, in the red coat. (See image below.)

Suki has also launched her own company, Room Publishing LtdThe website tells me it’s a load of New Age bollocks; but then, I’m a cynical old bastard who grew up in the real world.

The company, Room Publishing Ltd, was Dissolved about a year after I wrote that earlier piece, without filing anything.

Suki Baynton is on the right, in the red coat. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

Which leaves Christine Lamble-Davies, the former Mz Christine Bethan Davies. Who is quite a busy girl. I’ve found a number of companies with which she’s been associated.

Though the only one where she’s still a director appears to be Malihera Ltd. But this ship has obviously been abandoned, with filings for Companies House overdue.


The directors of the new company, Gwên Community and Regeneration CIC, are: Carmarthenshire Labour councillor Crisial ‘Crish’ Davies, Plaid Cymru’s June James, and June James’ husband, Richard.

These three are also the only remaining directors of the Hub. Davies has been a director since June 2016, Richard James since September 2022, and his wife June became a director in January this year.

From January 11 these three exercise control over whatever remains of the Hub.

Clearly, Labour councillor ‘Crish’ Davies is the continuity factor. The one who’s been there throughout.

This new company could be seen as the Hub reborn. Though why did it take so long, because the Hub didn’t expire unexpectedly?

While these three directors are presumably entrusted with salvaging something from the disaster, and seeing out Gwên Gwen 2, are any of the four we read about earlier, and saw in the video, still involved?

If not, why?

I don’t like banging on about money, but seeing it wasted annoys me. Especially when Cydweli needs money spent on infrastructure repairs and other things.

But certainly not a hippy gathering that was a disaster last year, and with not a hope in hell that this year’s Gwên Gwen will be any more successful.

Here are some photos I was sent of the town. They show, clockwise: the old town hall, falling down and resulting in detours; the town square; the field opposite the Co-op, home to the Gwên Gwen festival; and the building that was used by the Hub.

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But back to this year’s Gwên Gwen festival.

Topping the bill is the Gentleman’s Dub Club, of Bristol. (I’ve got all their 78s!) Though I doubt there’s a big audience for Dub music in east Carmarthenshire. There certainly wasn’t last year when the same band played.

A few pints of Felinfoel might help. Perhaps many pints of Felinfoel.

P.S. Last year’s headline act, Kosheen, also come from Bristol.


I don’t want anyone to think I’m picking on Cydweli. I’m just using it as an example for something that’s happening all over Wales.

My introduction gave a litany of some big scandals that got reported, but it’s also the few hundred grand here, a million or so there, that escape wider attention. Call it political patronage, call it rewarding grass-roots activism, call it anything you damn well like, but by and large it achieves next to nothing.

This system of dishing out grants to anyone with connections, or who can put together the kind of tosh we read earlier, is damaging Wales. It’s a major reason three dollops of European structural funding achieved nothing.

This was unique. All other countries and regions of Europe that received this funding used it wisely. None remained poor enough to qualify for a third hand-out.

But Labour Party stooges like the WCVA will pretend this wasted money achieved something. That’s how the system works: Labour gives money to its cronies who then produce reports telling us what good use was made of the funding.

But then, if I give my grandchildren money will they admit they wasted it?

The biggest beneficiary of EU funding was the third sector. Now that EU funding has ended – but to ensure these shysters continue living high on the hog – other budgets must be raided. (“Your promised by-pass! What by-pass?”)

Unfortunately, it’s no longer just local groups; for under devolution Wales has seen a tidal wave of gobshites preaching climate disaster, poisoned rivers and habitat loss; berating us for our racism and our transphobia – and demanding that we pay them well for their insulting rants.

But enough of those colonialist parasites, let’s finish in that nice little town where an underage Jac used to drink when him and his mates would get the train down from Swansea to go camping. Happy days!

For even if there was incompetence or worse involved, the Black Cat was probably doomed the minute the local MS, Lee Waters, stroked the poor moggie. For this is the politician who famously said of his own administration, “We don’t know what we’re doing on the economy“.

We believe you, Lee. In fact, that may be the only thing you’ve ever said that we do believe.

♦ end ♦


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How prescient your comments were regarding the (just cancelled) Gwen Gwen festival!
Does anyone know who the organisers of this debacle are? I cannot for the life of me find anything online.
I would imagine there are many (traders, performers etc etc) who are significantly out of pocket and more than a bit angry about this. I wonder who’ll offer them recompense?

David Robins

According to the New Left, ‘categorisation is violence’, denying each individual the right to describe and define their own identity. If everyone can’t be indigenous then no-one can.

Anyone who sticks with an identity that is not universal – and so longer valid – is a bigot and on the wrong side of history. Left-wing individualism is a tactic, used to challenge social norms, because all individualism is exclusive, anti-social, and not to be tolerated. The end goal is one-dimensional man.


Today I will be mostly “indigenous”. Just in case some nosey pseudo socialist wishes to question my right to such status I can confirm that I was born in Cymru, lives much of my life in Cymru and am thoroughly pissed off by people from “away”, beyond Clawdd Offa and further, trying to tell me which words I should or should not use to describe myself and others like me.


Fancy pasting that nasty face onto old Mao’s photo. That amounts to serious defamation. Mao was quite open about his intentions unlike that bastard you’ve pasted onto his image. I’ll need to take a few shots to help me sleep tonight . Must say it does improve the Colonial Governor ‘s appearance. Send him a copy.


Interesting tweets those about that new bridge at Mach. Or defective replacement bridge at Mach. Scope for a Jac article there. What is evident is that planners have little or no regard for actual patterns of road use. They install the design that they were favouring prior to any consultations or any other form of “information gathering”. The matter is made worse by a government in Cardiff that couldn’t give a fuck about those remote parts “down West” and having succumbed to the recent outbreaks of Confused Green Mindset disease there is no chance of any gaffes being rectified. People shouldn’t be using roads anyway – that’s policy, butt, so lump it! That Waters, not me, speaking.


In today’s much praised State funded organ, NationCymru, there was a report about the Transport Minister making a speech to a gathering of assorted ranks from the rail industry in Wales. It seems that he takes little or no responsibility, real accountability, for the mess inflicted on our traveling public.Even the main line stuff is horrendous and once you venture onto most of the Valley lines or heaven forbid attempt to use the Heart of Wales line for a time critical journey you explore a serious depth of nightmare. Yet the fruitcake claims that using the private car shows a lack of responsibility and of course as evidence of his virtue he got rid of his second car and got some kind of portable bike. He’s fuckin’ lucky that he can afford a second car but he shows no empathy for the predicament of workers who rely, yes rely, on public transport to get to work daily.


That link to the Barrhead Boy interviews with GWLAD and PROPEL was useful. It shines a light into parts of our political landscape that are continually and deliberately excluded by MSM and the Bay political machine. The absence of bullshit and the usual infestation of ishoos and cliched chatter was welcome. Big challenge now is how does this kind of coverage get extended within our own country ?

Red Flag

Extracted from The Telegraph.

Welsh Government stuck with £22m of houses after Mark Drakeford axed M4 relief road.

Properties bought to clear room for relief road left in limbo after plan scrapped.

The Welsh Government has been left stuck with a bizarre property portfolio worth £22m after scrapping plans for a relief road by the Severn Bridge.

Mark Drakeford is refusing to sell homes bought with taxpayer money to make way for the road, despite vowing never to complete the project.

Dozens of properties previously subject to compulsory purchases so that the M4 relief road could be built have been left in limbo since the Welsh first minister controversially decided to axe the plan in 2019, according to a Freedom of Information Act request. None of the buildings or sites have been sold since 2019, the Labour administration confirmed.

Some 38 properties were bought at a cost of £24.6m, according to Government filings, with just seven subsequently sold since, raising £2.1m.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister Natasha Asghar said: “Mark Drakeford cancelled the M4 relief road, against the advice of independent experts, the people of South Wales and his own party’s manifesto. The Labour Government in Wales quite literally spent £150 million of taxpayer money on a road to nowhere.


Same Drakeford and his crew of dopey lieutenants will drone on about lack of homes for young families, assorted homeless, refugees, asylum seekers etc etc etc. If the silly old git yanked his head out of his arse he might see that the property portfolio could be refurbished or repurposed to provide a range of accommodation. Or is that too straightforward ? Or is there a preference for flogging this portfolio off at a knock down price to some oily entrepreneur who might lob a donation into the party collection box ?

David Smith

If only these rags were as open in reporting the manifold cock ups of our glorious Conservative and Unionist Overlordship.


More lucky black cats?

Dyn Gwyrdd

Thanks Jac for printing my little rant about who could become a Welsh President of a Welsh Republic. I’m sorry if I deflected the subject of your posting :- “Cydweli: Where’s The Money Gone?”. Yes, that should be the big question at the moment. Can readers of this BLOG feed Jac with information on that theme, not just regards Cydweli. There must be some other sleazy examples all over Wales. Please feed them to Jac’s BLOG now. If you can, question WAG via Freedom of Information Questions to give them in Cardiff Bay something to do in thinking up how not to answer them correctly. It’s not just Welsh Labour, also question their collaborator little butties in moribund present day Plaid Cymru.

Dyn Gwyrdd

As for Wales becoming a Republic, and ditching connections with Royalty, and stopping funding the ever so eternal internal quarrelling amongst the confused Windsor Family, that sounds a very attractive idea to me. There’s just one huge snag in that Welsh Labour will then, as the only eligible majority group, will have to nominate the new President to replace the King. Of course they will certainly go for a George Thomas (Lord Tonypandy) type. Thank goodness he is no longer here. So who else would Welsh Labour choose? Probably the Kinnock Dynasty comes straight to mind after seeing that in my Crystal Ball that I bought for £5 off an old kindly Tinker lady in Morriston Swansea.. This issue should be delayed until we force out Welsh Labour from the thoughts of the people of Wales. Sadly that will probably be never in our lifetimes! That old Tinker lady scoffed at us Welsh, saying “You don’t have a dignified Labour candidate like we had in Ireland called Mary Robinson!”.


Labour have never won a Welsh election. Ireland best example directly elected president. Labour only get votes by faking a difference from their boss in London or as a sheild against them ‘nasty tories’. An independent Wales is a whole new ball game.


Sometime recently you wrote that a new “Republican” party was seeking funds to get set up. While I appreciate that Plaid does its best to repel interest from normal sane people with an interest in our nation’s future I fail to see what yet another party can advocate while we have Gwlad and Propel trying hard to gain traction. Or was it a variant of the old Monty Python sketch ?


Republicanism is a sound option in our messed up situation. That said I think that Gwlad and Propel offer the kind of broad churches that would accommodate most republicans other than the kind that seek a prefix like “Islamic” or “Peoples”. Even a reclaimed Plaid could do a good job but that reclamation process is a bit of a long shot at the moment !

David Smith

I’ve come up with a paradox-highlighting thought experiment to challenge the Sturgeons of the world. If I sleep with a woman who later self-identifies as a man, am I automatically gay? It’s been suggested to me that such an instantaneous consequent alteration of reality be termed ‘Spooky fagdom at a distance’ but I couldn’t possibly use such a politically incorrect turn of phrase.


To answer your question David Smith (and Jac).

Whoever you sleep with it’s a matter of mutual consent, otherwise it’s called rape. Also, if you have sex with someone who later in their lives, dies, it does not make you a necrophiliac. The point about the cross-party legislation in Scotland is that it’s about ‘self’ ID. The wish of the beholder of such gender, not to satisfy any designation you make upon another person.

In both cases it means the state or yourself does not have ownership of another person’s body.


What’s to stop me identifying as a millionaire, and the bank bouncing my cheques is therefore impinging upon my rights?

Red Flag

I know a businessman in Gtr Manchester who – when his business account was empty and there were payments due, would write a cheque using said account, made payable to said account in order to take advantage of the bank’s policy of allowing businesses to class payments-in awaiting clearance, to be held as an asset. Then by the time the cheque bounced, his account was back in the black anyway and the outstanding payments had been made.


The modern ‘spiritual successor’ has to be hammering your contactless card on a Saturday night on the town, and reporting it ‘lost’ on Monday. I had a none-too-smooth criminal boast openly and at length about doing such to me, a perfect stranger, one night in the pub…


Nothing to stop you identifying as a millionaire, but bouncing cheques is a crime. One is not dependent on the other, no matter how you ‘identify’.


Not so long ago, entering women’s toilets to do your biz was a crime, or at the very least frowned upon.


The concept that tourism will offer Cydweli with economic prosperity, a kind of poor mans Tenby or a Burry Port caravan overspill is preposterous.

A few summer jobs stuffing pillows and cleaning caravans will not bring property nor stop the brain drain from our community. Of all the ‘tourist’ gambits, one day festival in the field opposite the Co-op and cash in-hand to a band from Bristol is just throwing cash down the drain. That £270k cash should have been better spent on permanent infrastructure which the townspeople can enjoy throughout the year.

The grant was specifically to “regeneration and economic growth whilst directly or indirectly safeguarding and creating sustainable jobs”. Gwen Gwen does none of these.

Top of the list for Cydweli would be sorting out the Old Town Hall currently crumbling into the street blocking any through traffic, the old hub building is ideal for converting to two residential townhouse. There is ‘tourist infrastructure’ that would also provide enhanced amenity for use by the local population, most notably the old rail line from the quay up the valley as a pedestrian and cycle path. The most notable employer in the town is Burns, the pet food manufacturer, a similar such enterprise should be encouraged on the industrial estate (Gravells end) on the other side of town.

The real question is what did we get for the £270k cash and where is it? Besides oiling the wallets and purses of ‘graduates in photography and knotweed strategists’ who appear a need to forge a career in the third sector, then smooch backstage at a festival, it’s had no benefit. The person to answer all these questions in the Labour councillor, Crish Davies, who sits on both CICs, defunct and new, the town council, and the county seat.

Some explaining to do.


Tes. Looking at the other locations that have been awarded a grant from the ‘coastal communities fund’ there are some locations that have done quite constructive projects.

(a) Spent it on floodlighting a castle. Cydweli has one of those, now owned by CADW but the floodlighting in tourist season falls on the shoulders of residents in council tax.

(b) Spent it on seafront pathways, opening up parts of coastal promenades that have previously been derelict, it does encourage tourism, but the facilities such as bandstands are available to residents alike.

(c) Spent it on new ‘whelks and cockle’ market stalls. Let it be known that it’s the Carmarthenshire coast that has the best fare in these, yet this native economic activity is ignored.

Splashing the cash to cover losses on a weekend festival like Gwen Gwen does nothing sustainable for Cydweli except line the pockets of the promoters, till the kitty be empty.

Dr John Ball


What really bothers me is your phrase “Labour Party Stooges,” you rightly use the phrase to describe WLGA.
This description also so well describes Plaid Cymru; incidentally in control of Carmarthenshire County.

Dr John Ball

Oops! Misread!
Agree though, both applies and their cuddly bunny friends in Plaid Cymru


The county council seat was held by Jeanette Gilasbey (Plaid Cymru) until the election last year when the ward was merged with St Ishmael (Ferryside), and this new seat taken by Crish Davies (Labour).

Strangely, one of the drivers of the Black Cat Tourism strategy, as Jac mentions, is Christine Lamble-Davies. Could be related to Guy Lamble the chap who owns and runs the up-market restaurant in Ferryside.


Years ago we used a derogatory term for arty people – Culture Vultures. Over recent years the reverse – Vulture Culture – has become normalised where an assortment of dodgy types mixed in with a dash of delusional idealists feast upon funds dished out by the Bay Bubble and its subordinate organisations. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of public and quasi-public bodies like local authorities and the myriad of agencies that are given licence to fuck about in any direction of their choice. No wonder we are always short of resources with all those hungry beaks to feed. I’m surprised Drakeford and his mob were able to pass up on the chance to squirt another £150 million into this array of greedy mouths. Think of all those extra salaries and fees that could have gone to fund the lifestyles of useless parasitic morons. As for cases of real need, like Tracy below, the Bay rule states clearly – “Go to the back of the queue, you!”

Frank Little

Do you want to start a whip-round for a FOI request to Cydweli CC?

Tracy Norman

Welsh Labour took my Cost of Living payment from me because they claimed my home was a Second Home. It wasn’t, I was born and bred in Swansea and still live there. They took it knowing I have Stage Four Bowel Cancer, thet disgust me, how they waste money.