PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
For a few weeks I’ve been promising you more news. Finally – here it is!
WALES AND WEST, CARDIGAN HOSPITAL, MID WALES HOUSING
A speciality of Wales & West is importing criminals, drug addicts and other undesirables. But it’s good business, for local authorities and other agencies over the border will pay well to dump people in Wales.
Of course, it’s not so good for small towns that have to host these people. Lampeter being one that Wales & West has damaged in recent years. For as I was recently told, “Wales and West do not operate local allocation policies”.
And all this has been facilitated with funding from the Welsh public purse. For we pay for Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to import riff-raff and build luxury flats for sale to English retirees.
This public money will invariably be ‘filtered’ through the parent company – which will be a Registered Social Landlord – to a subsidiary, which may or may not be registered as a RSL. And in some cases, not obviously linked to a RSL.
Though neither is shown in the ‘Welsh Government’s list of RSLs. A quick check found other omissions, making this an incomplete and misleading document.
Enfys Developments was founded in 2012 and seems to be the main vehicle for W&W’s new builds. While Castell Homes was formed as recently as January 2018, almost certainly in anticipation of the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018, which effectively privatised RSLs in response to the Office for National Statistics’ threat to reclassify them as public bodies.
As we read below, Castell Homes is, effectively, a private builder, promising to pass on its profits to the parent company for Wales & West to build social housing. It’s up to you whether you believe that.
There are a few other things worth picking out of the clip below from the only accounts thus far filed for Castell Homes.
For example, we read that Castell Homes “was established with the purpose of building and selling homes in communities where a housing need is identified”. The operative word should be ‘demand’, not ‘need’. For this will be private housing, often beyond the financial reach of most locals.
We also read that “Castell Homes has its own board of directors”. Yes and no. Yes, there is a board of directors, but it’s the senior management team of Wales & West. Any pretence that Castell is independent of W&W would be just that, a pretence.
As ‘Dai’ mentions in his contribution, Wales & West is in negotiations with Hywel Dda University Health Board to buy the old Cardigan Hospital site. Though locals are puzzled as to why, if W&W doesn’t own the site, it’s been behaving for months as if it does.
The answer is of course that the deal was done long ago by the Labour Party behind closed doors, looking after its favourite housing association, yet again. Wales & West CEO is Anne Hinchey, wife of Cardiff Labour councillor Graham Hinchey. Mrs Hinchey previously worked for Cardiff Council.
Though I should also mention Keith Davies, housing strategy officer at Ceredigion council, a big friend of Wales & West who has appeared on this blog before. Keith was also very keen for Wales & West to take over the old hospital.
The open day held on February 29 was very well-attended and reported in the Tivy-side Advertiser. Curiously, this imparter of local news saw no contradiction in using ‘community has its say’ in the headline . . . and then quoting only spokespersons for Wales & West!
As I keep saying, Wales & West is very well connected in Corruption Bay and all sorts of deals are being lined up. Among them perhaps the takeover of Mid Wales Housing, and this despite MWH having been in merger talks with Tai Ceredigion for some time. And now might be the ideal time.
For not only has MWH hit a rocky patch in the regulatory sense, having been downgraded on grounds of poor governance and financial management, but other factors are also contributing to a general picture of incompetence and decline.
For a start, Mid Wales paid over the odds for its repair contractor EOM Ltd and turned it from a profit-making SME into a loss-making subsidiary. MWH has also failed to deliver the Cylch Caron extra care facility in Tregaron for the county council, increasing pressure on the council leader following the closure of the Bodlondeb home in Aberystwyth.
And then chief executive Shane Perkins recently stepped down (though he’d been off sick since September). To those who may be wondering, I can tell you he’s not one of the Pembrokeshire Perkins, but comes from Bournemouth, to which he and his good lady wife have now returned.
Filling in until a new CEO is appointed is Charles Brotherton . . . despite being the genius behind the EOM fiasco. Charles joined MWH in 2010 from an English housing association. Chairman of Mid Wales Housing, and Lloyds ‘name’, is Peter Swanson, who is also a “Past chair of Dyfed Powys Health Authority. A Justice of the Peace. Past Chair of Dyfed Powys Health Authority and former Chair of Powys County Council Standards Committee. Private landlord.”
Swanson is an old-fashioned quango man of the type devolution is supposed to have made extinct. But they’re still roaming the land. And thriving. Especially in areas where the Labour Party is weak in terms of local support and prefers to appoint such people rather than give power to non-Labour locals.
This is truly one of the more bizarre manifestations of patronage in the age of devolution.
As you can see from the Board of Management, Welsh involvement in MWH is kept to a minimum; ‘cos we Welsh is dull an’ can’t do nuffin for ourselves, innit’.
This is Englandandwales, folks. The only way out of this nightmare is independence.
To conclude, let me hypothesise that these multiple cock-ups at Mid Wales Housing are being allowed in order to justify someone in Corruption Bay deciding – as was done with Tai Cantref – that something must be done, and that ‘something’ means calling in ‘Welsh’ Labour’s elite troops in the form of Wales and West Housing.
CARTREFI CONWY, ASSOCIATES, CHINESE INVESTORS
But you mustn’t think that such machinations are confined to the southern parts of our benighted land. Because the story from the north that I’m about to relate is even more bizarre. Though you won’t be surprised to learn that it also involves Wales & West.
Let’s start with this recent story from the Daily Post for a new housing development on the A55 commuter/retirement corridor. Nothing surprising about that you might think, developers are forever looking to Wales to protect property values in the ‘Golden Triangle’.
It only begins to look odd when we start joining up the dots.
You’ll see in the news report that the company wanting to build these new houses is Calon Homes LLP. That is, Limited Liability Partnership, an opaque structure of a kind that would not be allowed in many countries. Now it looks as if even BoJo’s government is looking to clean things up a bit.
I particularly liked, “Legislation will be introduced in Finance Bill 2020 with retrospective and future effect to underline that LLPs are expected to follow the rules”. And about bloody time too!
So who are or what is Calon Homes LLP?
Calon Homes appeared in an article I wrote in November, when I looked at Cartrefi Conwy Cyf. (I urge you to read it.) But to cut a long story short . . . Cartrefi Conwy set up a subsidiary in 2015 called Creating Enterprise CIC (Community Interest Company). Then, in May 2018, Creating Enterprise went into partnership with Brenig Developments Ltd to form Calon Homes. (Assets at 31 May 2019 £37,853.)
As I wrote back in November: “There is a charge against Calon Homes LLP held by Creating Enterprise CIC, which in turn has a charge held by Cartrefi Conwy. Which means that, ultimately, housing association Cartrefi Conwy is in partnership with private company Brenig Developments.”
I don’t know if Mark Parry is related to Peter John Parry, the chairman of Creating Enterprise CIC, the Cartrefi Conwy subsidiary, it doesn’t really matter.
Peter John Parry seems to have joined Creating Enterprise CIC 31 August 2017. By which time his personal business career was already on the rocks, with a string of dissolved companies in 2017 and 2018. (Listed here.)
Calon Homes, jointly owned by Creating Enterprise CIC/Cartrefi Conwy Cyf and Brenig Developments Ltd, was Incorporated 12 May 2018. But just a month earlier Companies House registered Calon Developments Ltd. Among the directors at Calon Developments we see Mark Parry and Howard Vaughan, of the Brenig companies, and also Andrew Bowden, CEO of Cartrefi Conwy!
It is very unusual for the head honcho of a housing association to go into partnership with a private builder directly. The realisation that this don’t look good might explain why those involved with Calon Developments Ltd now want voluntary strike-off.
As if I haven’t introduced enough subsidiaries and partnerships and companies, I’m now going to introduce another. We’ve had Brenig Developments Ltd and Brenig Homes Ltd, but there’s a third company in the stable, and it’s Brenig Construction Ltd.
The latest (unaudited and abridged) accounts available – y/e 31 October 2018 – tell us that Brenig Construction had assets of £206,806. When we turn to the directors, we find, as expected, Parry and Vaughan . . . but also Yin Han, a citizen and resident of the People’s Republic of China. He joined the company 12 December 2019.
I’m sure that, like me, you’re wondering why a Chinese citizen would join a relatively small building firm in Denbighshire.
Perhaps because Parry and Vaughan have friends in high places within the Cartrefi Conwy group. Which might explain this report from last November that tells that “From a standing start in 2012, Brenig now employs 70 people directly and is turning over £11 million a year, with £21 million of work already secured in future contracts.”
Though I’m having difficulty reconciling the claimed turnover with the figures available at Companies House for the three Brenig companies. Brenig Developments is filing as a dormant company and the other two don’t seem to be challenging Wimpey and Redrow.
But as I’ve found so often, when dealing with interlinked companies and bodies of often obscure construction, figuring out who does what, and where the money comes from, and where it goes, is often very difficult. Which is what makes such arrangements attractive for some.
But it seems we can identify one source of future income for Parry and Vaughan, and that’s our old friends Wales & West! The report comes complete with another pic of the smiling lads in hi viz jackets. With every reason to smile.
If you sense fatigue creeping up due to the number of different companies I’ve already mentioned, I can only urge you to bear with me while I list a few more, because Mark Parry has been a busy boy.
Back in 2010 he and his mate Vaughan formed H & M Construction Solutions Ltd. But this outfit appeared to crash on take-off, because there is nothing filed with Companies House and this is all I can find.
Next up is Tai Beech Ltd, Incorporated 26 April 2013 and compulsorily struck off in November 2018. Parry and Vaughan were there at the start and saw it through.
Then – something of a departure this – there was Applejack Diners Ltd. Formed 28 November 2013 this company went belly-up 7 December 2016.
One Parry-Vaughan company still with us is Seel Plant Hire Ltd, Incorporated 5 August 2014. But as with the others we’ve looked at, the ‘Micro-entity accounts’ available for Seel Plant Hire do not suggest a company taking the world by storm. Perhaps the gentlest of zephyrs.
And yet, Parry and Vaughan are pulling in big contracts, and Chinese investors. What does it all mean?
Possibly, with CEO Andrew Bowden looking to retire, and Wales & West getting in on the act, Cartrefi Conwy may be the next to be swallowed up by ‘Welsh’ Labour’s favourite housing association.
WEAPONS GRADE BOLLOCKS
What we have been looking at here is a dysfunctional system
I say that because most people still believe that housing associations provide good rented accommodation for people who either can’t afford to buy or just prefer to rent. They do, but they are building very few new units of social rented housing, basing their claim to being social landlords on the stock most of them inherited from local authorities.
Since Registered Social Landlords were privatised by the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018, they have focused almost exclusively on building private housing.
And yet the pretence is maintained. Perhaps to ensure that they continue receiving public funding from the ‘Welsh Government’.
To help disguise their true business, our housing associations launch subsidiaries and go into partnership with private companies. In many cases to build housing not for any local demand but for pure profit. That is certainly what Wales & West and Cartrefi Conwy are planning along the A55.
Is this really how housing associations are supposed to operate? Is this how we want them to operate?
Andrew Bowden, CEO of Cartrefi Conwy, said recently: “As a group, Cartrefi Conwy are looking to diversify to generate new income streams to further our affordable housing programme.
“Until now, we’ve always been reliant on just rental income but, with the advent of austerity and things like Universal Credit, we had to think outside the box.
“Calon Homes will be building houses for market sale and we will be using our share of the profit for the benefit of local people to create more affordable housing.”
But why not use all the money to build affordable housing, rather than the much smaller amount that comes in the form of profit from open market housing? Though come to that, ‘affordable housing’ is yet another misnomer. It means open market housing, and I’ve seen houses costing £250,000 classed as ‘affordable’.
As for ‘new income streams’, Peter John Parry of Creating Enterprise CIC, has a background in running homes for very disturbed and often dangerous patients. This was one of his establishments. Will he be bringing clients down the A55, to add to the burden on the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, already in special measures? And the police workload?
For RSLs to defend themselves by saying that the open market housing is being built by subsidiaries – wholly-owned subsidiaries! – or partners, is unacceptable.
The system is out of control. It is operating against the Welsh national interest. The time has come to de-register most RSLs because they are private companies building open market housing and managing rented stock that in most cases was built by someone else. Restrict the ‘RSL’ label to groups and bodies building social rented housing for local people. Because that’s what ‘housing association’ is supposed to mean. And it’s what it should mean.
Let me end on a lighter note . . . or maybe this will send you over the edge. Last Friday Community Housing Cymru – the umbrella body for RSLs – brought out a report claiming that its members, building 75,000 ‘affordable’ homes (that word again!) will put £23.2bn into the Welsh economy and create 50,000 jobs.
This is ‘think of a number, double it . . . ‘ economics. I’m surprised they didn’t also claim to have found a cure for Covid-19.
And because it was the purest and most unadulterated bullshit it was sad to see Martin Shipton at Llais y Sais write it up as if it was Gospel.
I’m now now wondering for which fiction award I should enter this gem. Because it’s certainly not meant to be taken seriously.
♦ end ♦