Merthyr Ski Slope 3

After writing about this project in September 2017 I didn’t think I’d be returning to Rhydycar West. But here we are in 2023 and it’s been resurrected. If you’ve got 3 minutes to spare, there’s even a video.

Though it would definitely help you follow this piece if you read what I put out in 2017. Here are links to Merthyr Ski Slope and Merthyr Ski Slope 2, Slippery Customers.

BACKGROUND

The area we’re talking about is called Rhydycar West because it’s on the west side of the A470 from Rhydycar, and up towards Heolgerrig.

The site of the project is roughly in the centre of the image below; the image itself comes courtesy of Ordnance Survey.

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I can’t give you much history other than it’s an old industrial site, once owned by the National Coal Board, containing a considerable amount of waste.

The first mention I can find in this century says that in 2001 the 600 acre site was sold by owner Celtic Energy Ltd for £2m to Merthyr Village Ltd, formed in July 2000.

That 2001 report also says: ‘The plans include a 15,000-seater football stadium, more than 300 executive houses, two hotels, a 12-screen multiplex cinema, bowling alley, swimming pool, new leisure centre, 3,000-seater multipurpose hall and shopping units.’

No mention at this stage of skiing, snowboarding, and the like.

The first directors of Merthyr Village Ltd were the family of Wynford Holloway, who had bought the town’s football club a few years before; also local entertainer Lynn Mittell (Owen Money); and ill-starred solicitor William Snowdon.

The central element was clearly the stadium, to be built in the hope that Merthyr Town FC would gain promotion to the professional English leagues. That never happened.

And because Merthyr rejected the Welsh set-up it now plays in the Southern League Premier Division South, going knee to knee with giants of the game like Hartley Wintney and Hanwell Town. (What do you mean, you’ve never heard of them!)

The final blow to the project was the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ calling it in in 2007.

That might have appeared to be the end.

UPDATE 18.01.2023: Merthyr Village Ltd is in liquidation.

A PASSION FOR ISLANDS

Before the Merthyr Village project was called in, and perhaps intended as a consolation prize, a development was announced for the other side of the A470. And the report I’ve linked to tells us Merthyr Borough Council (or someone) awarded the contract to Atlantic Property Developments Plc of Cardiff.

This company is owned by Peter ‘The Pies’ Thomas, a Merthyr boy originally, but now firmly part of the Cardiff establishment, and owner of the Cardiff rugby outfit. (Does it still pretend to be a region?)

I love the Companies House entry that has his name as ‘Obe Peter Thomas’.

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Did the committee chaired by Carwyn Jones call in the Merthyr Village project to give Peter Thomas’s scheme a clear run? An ungenerous thought, maybe, but this is Wales.

Peter Thomas and brother Stan have prospered mightily in the age of devolution. Do you remember how Stan was able to buy publicly-owned land at knock-down prices thanks to incompetence or corruption at the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales?

The Thomas brothers had a big stake in Cardiff airport, and then the ‘Welsh Government’ paid an absurdly inflated price for that deathly pale pachyderm when . . . Carwyn Jones was First Minister.

I wrote about the land deals back in March 2016, in Pies, Planes & Property Development, followed up with Pies, Planes & Property Development 2.

‘Merthyr boys, mun’. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

The company, Merthyr Village Ltd, hung on, but the only director since October 30, 2013, has been Richard Frank Arnold of Colchester, Essex. He who now wishes to bring Méribel to Merthyr.

In the first part of this (to date) trilogy I quoted a September 2017 WalesOnline article. It told us that the project was a collaboration between Marvel Ltd, represented by Canadian Leigh Gerald Large; and Snowsport Cymru Wales, represented by Robin Kellen.

I found a number of UK-registered companies with which Large was associated, but Marvel was not one of them. In addition to the companies I’ve just linked to, Large had companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

But then, Large gets about. He may originally be from Victoria, British Columbia; but he’s also lived in Sweden, England, and has business links with Guernsey, Cyprus, and the Isle of Man.

To cut a long story short, I eventually tracked down Marvel Ltd in Guernsey. (Though it also used the address of a Wimbledon solicitor.) The company was formed 9 September 2013. Though Marvel eventually ‘migrated’ 26 July 2021.

But by an amazing coincidence, there was another company with the same name in the Isle of Man, which was also registered 9 September 2013!

Having companies with the same name in different jurisdictions, or even the same jurisdiction, seems to be the way of doing things for those involved with the Merthyr ski project.

Another example would be ‘Cavendish’, which crops up in various forms. Such as Cavendish Trust Company Ltd, and with an address just a few doors away at 31 – 37 North Quay, is said to be Marvel’s agent.

Though Companies House tells us there is also a Cavendish Trustees Ltd sharing the 34 North Quay address with Marvel. Also at 34 we find Cavendish International Ltd. And Cavendish Secretaries Ltd.

A second entry for Cavendish Secretaries Ltd gives us a few more companies using the 34 North Quay address.

And then, to complicate things even further, there is an entry for Cavendish Secretaries at 31 – 37 North Quay.

I shan’t dig for any more. I’ll only say that so many companies, using the same name in the same or different jurisdictions, should not inspire confidence. How are you supposed to know who you’re dealing with?

And it might be about to get worse.

WHO’S BEHIND IT?

When confronted with the problem I just outlined I often find that it helps avoid complete confusion by seeing who runs or owns those companies.

So let’s look at Cavendish Trustees Ltd of 34 North Quay, Douglas. The ‘Beneficial Owner’ is listed as James Cunningham-David.  But I had trouble finding him.

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Because his name is really James Nicholas Cunningham-Davis. And with the correct name a few companies appear. One still extant is Infinity Gaming Solutions (UK) Ltd.

And while it too is based at 34 North Quay in Douglas it also uses as an address 66A Reigate Road, Ewell, Epsom, Surrey. A little bungalow looking out over a roundabout and some kind of industrial estate.

There’s nothing in the kitty to bother us with Infinity Gaming Solutions but I’d like to turn your attention to another of the directors, Pritesh Ramesh Desai. Apparently a resident of the Isle of Man Desai is now a director of Pine Fields Private Ltd, which has been involved at Rhydycar West for a few years.

Desai and Cunningham-Davis may have attended the same school. I suggest that because they are the only trustees of the Old Epsomian Club 1952 Trust Fund.

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Also bringing Desai and Cunningham-Davis together is Inquba Group Holding Company Ltd, which was taken over in October last year by Cavendish Trustees Ltd of 34 North Quay, etc.

This link gives a few of Desai’s older companies.

Here’s Desai’s Linkedin profile. (Here in pdf format.) Though it’s amazing how few of the many, many companies he’s been involved with get a mention.

Desai joined Pine Fields in May last year. And if we scroll down on the company directors page we see that a previous director was Richard Frank Arnold. We met him earlier, he being the only director of Merthyr Village Ltd since October 2013.

And in the recent press release he is the project spokesman.

We also see that Leigh Gerald Large, who fronted the bid back in 2017, was drummed out of Pine Fields in July of that year.

If we check who now exerts control over Pine Fields we see that it’s Cherry Blossom Global Ltd. And although this outfit gives the familiar address on North Quay, and has been registered on the IoM since May 2010, I suspect it’s also berthed in the British Virgin Islands.

We have now established links between Rhydycar West and assorted entities hither and yon . . . but are we any wiser?

It doesn’t end there.

For Pritesh Ramesh Desai and entities with which he’s associated predictably appear more than once in the Offshore Leaks Database. One entry suggests he himself has links with Iran! Perhaps less worryingly, he also has links with Cyprus, Malta and God knows where else.

WHO OWNS WHAT?

Time now to try to figure out who actually owns the site at Rhydycar West.

Originally, of course, it was Merthyr Village Ltd, which bought the site from Celtic Energy. But as we’ve seen, that project got knocked back by the ‘Welsh Government’.

Image courtesy of Google Earth. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

Even so, according to Companies House there are still two charges outstanding against Merthyr Village Ltd. The one that’s relevant to us is, ‘F/H Land at Colliers Row Merthyr Tydfil t/no CYM6191.‘ (It’s actually Upper Colliers’ Row.)

However, the Land Registry title document shows that ownership is now in the hands of Marvel Ltd, of 58 High Street, Wimbledon (though there is no title plan available at the Land Registry). The address given seems to be an office of estate agent Knight Frank.

Marvel may be squatting on Wimbledon High Street due to it being Guernsey registered. Formed on September 9, 2013, just a couple of weeks before taking possession of the land at Colliers’ Row.

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A later entry on the Land Registry document for CYM6191 tells us that just over a year ago, in December 2021, control of the title was taken by Goco International Ltd. This entity is also incorporated in Guernsey, and also uses an address we’re all familiar with – 34 North Quay, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Which appears to the headquarters for Pritesh Ramesh Desai.

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I can’t tell you much more about Goco as I can’t afford to buy documents from the Guernsey Registry. Though I turned up nothing in the Offshore Leaks Database for Goco.

Before finishing this section I’d better identify what are probably a few more relevant land titles.

One is ‘Land at Heolgerrig‘ (scroll down for plan). Title in the name of Pine Fields Private Ltd. We met this lot earlier in this sprawling narrative. Although the company has been around since August 2010 we saw that Pritesh Ramesh Desai joined in May 2022.

This land was sold by Merthyr Village Ltd in July 2009 to Crystalrock Ltd, where the only director left is Richard Frank Arnold. It then transferred to Pine Fields Private Ltd in August 2011 for a reported £450,000.

The other title worth considering is ‘Land lying to the North of Upper Colliers’ Row’ Title number: CYM536607 (scroll down for plan). This was transferred in two lots from Merthyr Village Ltd to Crystalrock Ltd, and then passed on to Pine Fields Private Ltd.

Those titles, I think, cover the land involved in the project. Though I’m not 100% certain.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This project can be viewed in three stages.

The first was obviously the initiative linked with the local football club, promoted by Merthyr Village Ltd, that, for reasons we can only guess at, was scotched by the ‘Welsh Government’ in 2007.

That said, Merthyr Village Ltd is still in existence, looks financially healthy, and while Richard Frank Arnold is the only director, ‘significant control’ is exercised by solicitor William Snowdon, who is connected to the original Merthyr Village directors through them all being directors of Merthyr Tydfil Football Club Ltd.

Which is another reason I suspect the directors of Merthyr Village Ltd may retain a financial interest in the ongoing and modified project.

The second attempt was the one reported in 2017. This was promoted by the footloose Canadian, Leigh Gerald Large, representing Marvel, registered in Guernsey.

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For whatever reason, that project also failed to take off.

Which brings us up to 2023, and the third attempt. Again, it’s Marvel, but this time fronted by Richard Frank Arnold.

My belief is that the real difference this time around is the involvement of Pritesh Ramesh Desai. Plus his partners and contacts in assorted island tax havens around the world.

I now expect our tribunes, at both local and national level, plus our ever-vigilant media, to politely ask of those pushing the snow fantasy who’s really behind the project, to explain the galaxy of companies, and the games of musical chairs.

And then there’s the money – where’s it coming from? Surely not from the fun-loving Ayatollahs to whom Desai might be linked! And how much money, because I’m pretty sure those behind this project anticipate a hefty dollop of Welsh public funding.

So many questions!

FOOTNOTE: After e-mailing Mr Desai on January 5 I had a response late last night from Andy Coleman, signing himself, ‘CFO Rhydycar West’, offering to discuss the project.

Given the choice between delivering this post as promised today and delaying it until after I’d spoken with Mr Coleman I choose the former option.

But as I made clear in my reply to Mr Coleman, now that this post is published, he or anyone representing the project is welcome to comment. I’d welcome it.

But I want straight answers, not a stroll down Flim-flam Lane.

♦ end ♦

© Royston Jones 2023


52 thoughts on “Merthyr Ski Slope 3

  1. Dafis

    While on the broader subject of grant grabbers and other assorted scammers here’s one for the album of biggies :

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/jan/26/britishvolt-collapsed-owing-120m-as-uk-car-industry-reports-dismal-year

    120Million ! and the bloody thing has hardly done a tap. Even the manufacturing site is still a mostly muddy paddock( a big one I grant you) but wasn’t anyone overseeing how these guys were pissing money into the wind? Good job it didn’t come to Bridgend or Ebbw Vale or some place in N.E Wales.

    1. Never mind Dafis, Swansea and the Senedd might beat the British Volt debacle of the lost £ millions in England. Cast your memory back to Swansea Council Leader’s promises the few weeks before last May’s Council election and just after. Were they all false promises? Or if they ever go ahead, will there be any British Volt situations? Swansea Labour Council is so desperate to net a big fish that they would invest the Council Workers pension funds, and the Unions (being Labour) have not challenged or scrutinised that. Swansea Council suffers with ‘small man syndrome’ ever since Russell Goodwage belittled the man he, Goodwage, in derision Christened as Mr Bean.

      1. Dafis

        Had overlooked that outburst of promises from Swansea Labour crew. The link below is a WOL puff piece on Blue Eden ( or Black Hole if you share my cynical suspicious outlook on such matters).

        https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/lagoon-swansea-jobs-batteries-technology-25604227

        One of the spokesmen reckoned the thing could gobble up over £4 Billion which should give Drakeford and Rishi a fit of anxiety. They love talking about these things but shelling out is a different proposition. Possibly they are aware despite all the bullshit that this is a dirty technology that turns their green credentials a dirty shade of brown.

  2. Dafis

    Nothing to do with ski slopes but illustrates clearly why this country – Wales and wider UK – is on the slippery slope to utter criminality. Here in our “nation of sanctuary” recent Albanian arrivals have been busy setting up cannabis farms and other drug making enterprises in any old property they are able to rent ( or sometimes buy). Local man, linked to a neighbour of mine,has been a serving officer with Plod De Cymru for a few years and has spent much of his time recently raiding and shutting down as many of these enterprises as he and his colleagues can locate. These are NOT inner city or even urban locations but out in the quieter areas of Upper Neath Valley and the far corner of the Morgannwg/Sir Gar border. While in this instance Old Bill does his best we have governments in London and Cardiff who behave as though all the incoming boatloads and truck loads are sad cases who are alienated and abused in their countries of origin. Poor dabs get set up with some sort of housing, often inadequate for raising a family, but just the ticket for raising crops of whacky baccy and other substances. Do likes of Drakeford & his minions ever get out and have a look at what’s going on? I know law and order is still a London responsibility but the social consequences of having the vermin from other countries burrowed into our communities is getting to be an expensive item. And we know how keen Mr Drakeford is about keeping a grip on the spending!

  3. Jac, before you start the next theme of your investigations and wonderful exposures of the slime sleaze and downright balminess in Wales put forward by its 22 Unitary Council Leaderships of all hues glove hand with the Senedd Wales Government, I want to make a suggestion here. Could your readers around Wales in the 22 Counties come forward as to what has been put forward in the past few years, and is currently being proposed across Wales, that only serve to line pockets of developers and outsiders. I mean things like huge complexes of chalets; zip wires; ski slopes; a blue lagoon; tidal power; racing circuits; electric car battery manufacturing; dozens of wind turbine zones; and any old green scheme they can dream of. Nobody is getting together to form a proposal for new real manufacturing set ups with real jobs like what happened just after WW2 with the birth of the Steel Company of Wales (SCOW). Let’s form a list of the 22 Unitary Authorities with their balmy army of ideas the bring to shame them. Is there any common sense Council out there in Wales not affected by big Press announcements that come to nothing but promises, or do go ahead (generally with Assembly Government aid) yet never provide decent regular well paid jobs like SCOW did. I am fed up up of hype shite.

    1. Neil Singleton

      Must start at “the top” with Drakeford and his constant bleating about how he sympathises with health workers, ambulance drivers, wishes they could be paid more “but Westminster won’t give Wales the money to do so.” As the subject matter of this thread is loony schemes, all Drakeford has to do is scrap his ludicrous plans to spend £32.5 million on making every urban road 20 mph. The economic cost to Wales of this idiocy is put at £4.3 BILLION in disruption, delays, etc, by the Welsh Government’s OWN commissioned economic report.

  4. David Smith

    Browsing your Tweet column a couple of things struck me. One being that a reduction in car use is a fantastic idea… if there’s plenty of carrot and not just the stick. In other words, properly integrated, affordable and comprehensive public transport drawing people towards it as an attractive option, and not just a fucking fuel hike shafting poor sods with no option but to use the car. A tax that manages the double of being both regressive and anti-aspirational.

    Also, a character you retweeted struck me as quite the conundrum. He seems to be at once an ardent BritNat with all the standard tenets worn on sleeve, and also pro-indy. Now I consider myself British in the way I imagine a Norwegian or a Swede might identify as Scandinavian also, but *that* sort of Britishness and the notion of Welsh independence are like oil and water as I see it.

    1. I agree entirely with the first paragraph, but Wales will never know a comprehensive public transport system.

      To whom do you refer in the second paragraph? If I use the term ‘British’ it’s usually in an ancient sense that needs to be explained to 99% of people.

      1. David Smith

        Have a look at the railway network we once had and weep, but no doubt you’ve already done so. Indeed the whole of Britain suffered the same hatchet job, but as usual Wales got the worst of it.

        Coamhín something, it was a meme with some woman with a name like ‘Tou You’ and how one would sing happy birthday to her. Now I like to buck trends and confound expectations by nailing my colours to the mast as a committed anglophile, despite the urgent need for a reset in the relationship between our two countries. But this guy is something else!

  5. David Smith

    If only the Imperial overlordship blocking Holyrood legislation wasn’t to do with fringe trans lunacy, it would be political suicide for BritGov!

    1. Exactly. This is the wrong fight. There is no great public support for this legislation. Just the usual, noisy fringe groups – many funded by the Scottish government! All along it’s been people who agree with each other talking to each other, and to nobody else.

      1. David Smith

        Now, more than ever it is absolutely imperative that the wider indy movement emphasise that they are not the SNP and the SNP are not them.

  6. Dafis

    I see that WEF is getting its show moving today at Davos. Some critics are now accepting that WEF is not a conspiracy because ” every thing is done in the open”. O.K I don’t mind what they want to call it but given that so much that is promulgated is couched in “open”ambiguity I’m quite happy to stop calling it a conspiracy and settle for “organised crime” instead. Or is that a touch too precise for those who might be easily offended?

    1. Dafis

      P.S Will any decisions made at WEF cascade down the chain of command quickly enough to enable those in attendance at Brangwyn on 28th to discuss any new directions they need to act upon ? After all we don’t want the poor dears to go off in all sorts of haphazard directions, do we?

  7. “Howard-Bunt, a poet and expert in race and ethnic relations who lives in Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales, spoke of how growing up in the 1960s in Yorkshire…” – she sounds a treat. Exactly the kind of settler we need more of! 🥱

  8. Jon of the merthyr

    Bravo on the investigative work! However this article like others around the Rhydycar West make no sense of the motive. The allusions from the first article this one are just hunches that prove nothing.

    Also, why are you so interested in this project and what is it you’re trying to achieve? This conspiracy nonsense is far from investigate journalism and it undermines what people of Merthyr needs. Investment and ideas! As a Merthyr boy born and bred if 50 years I’m sick of the negativity and doom and gloom around issues in the town from people living luxury elsewhere.

    If you really care about Merthyr. Come to town, meet up with us locals and share some of your ideas to fill the vacuum of employment and prosperity this town has gone without.

    It’s easy to cast stones and false narratives but its difficult to actually make a difference. I personally know some locals working hard on this project who do it for the best interests of the town and believe this to be a huge opportunity instead spouting this negativity. Whatever the circumstances, it’s inward investment and an opportunity that Merthyr hasn’t seen in generations.

    1. I was drinking in The Lamb (and elsewhere) before you were born. I love Merthyr, and I want the best for the town. I too want to see decent jobs come there.

      Read carefully what I’ve written and you should be able to discern that I nowhere criticise the project. (If I have to spell it out then I’ve failed.) I write about Wales because I’m a patriot, I care about my country and my people. And I’m sick and fucking tired of seeing crooks and shysters waltz in with absurd plans that demand so much of us and deliver fuck all. Welcomed and funded by those wankers down the Bay.

      Whether they’re money launderers, mortgage fraudsters, dreamers, or clowns – we see too many of them. We deserve better. I’m sick and fucking tired of seeing us exploited; whether it’s by honest crooks or charlatans pretending they’re saving the planet. But they can get away with it because our politicians are so far up each others’ arses that they can’t see anything. And journalists! – don’t make me fucking laugh, I might throw up.

      Whoever you are, don’t take it personally. I’ve had a few drinks.

      1. Jon of the merthyr

        Drinking in the Lamb? My father drunk the Lamb and i spent a lot of time with Sid Hill and co and heard all the FWA stories. Many of which I wouldn’t repeat on here.

        But this isn’t 1970’s Merthyr. Industry has gone and there is nothing left other than fancy retail parks that are the real wealth suckers on areas like Merhyr Tydfil. Tourism is the only hope and these guys are coming in with thier own finance.

        Like many i’m cynical of anybody who says they want to help Merthyr and nobody can deny Marvel aren’t investing for fun and sentimental values. They are looking to profit and in the process taking huge risk with their investments. i couldn’t care where the money came from. The Hoover factory investment came from America and that give my grandfather a job for life and apension to boot. What’s here today? Nothing. Merthyr has the chance to have new foundation to it’s economy in tourism and why not. There’s absolutely nothing to lose for my kids and future generations of Merthyr.

        Like I said, if you have alternive ideas feel free to make the journey down to some of the new stuggling pubs and give us some ideas. The town would love to hear them.

        Also, I haven’t taken none of whatt you’ve said personally, and I hope you enjoyed your drink last night.

        1. Tourism, when functioning as anything more than but a component of a diverse economy: what does it bring? Minimum wage, seasonal and unreliable work that anyone would struggle to build a solid future on, by and large. That, with attendant influx of settlers and resultant erosion of language, culture and identity, and assimilation and homogenisation with those of the far larger and more powerful neighbour. What’s not to love?

          Why isn’t a comparable capital commuter belt town like Henley-on-Thames so humbly grateful for any such crumbs thrown its way?

          1. Christopher

            cymrosmith……Are you refering to Pembrokeshire i wonder!!!. If so, You ‘nailed it’ so to speak.

            The county is essentially best described these days as a large ‘theme/adventure/retirement park’, along with (increasingly) other parts of Wales which are ripe for exploitation from ‘shysters, goodlifers, and save the planet types.

            Meanwhile locals have (very) little opportunity to purchase a home, or find a decent well paid job, as opposed to the ‘mickey mouse, dead end’ seasonal low paid fare that is the ‘norm, and thus reliant on state handouts.

            The number of those seeking/awaiting social housing in the county (and indeed throughout Wales) is increasing exponentially, along with (ironically) the number of ‘AirBnB’s/’Holiday Lets’ listed.

            1. David Smith

              To point this out, the stock response is to be accused of being parochial at best and racist at worst. My response, in turn, is to point out that if England had a comparable issue with identity and culture being under threat, I’d speak out against that too.

              How much have the demographics changed in major English cities over the last 50 years? It is undoubtedly a topic worthy of address to anyone who isn’t a card-carrying Guardianista. That is not to denigrate migratory individuals merely seeking their happiness in life or employment opportunities, nor the enrichment incoming cultures can bring to a place; but to a point. The loss of any culture, nation, people or whatever, is a loss to the world (again, within reason; I don’t think anyone misses witch hunts, and the worst tenets of fundamentalist Islam being forgotten forever will be no loss).

              1. Dafis

                David we live in the era of “progressives” who spout cliches and words like “inclusive”, “safe spaces”, racist, fascist with little or no regard for their meanings. These same people set out to impose their own narrow faulty vision of how things need to be – ” Our way or no way” sums them up.
                That English culture and identity is under threat is indisputable. It has been largely replaced by a supremacist intolerance of others at one extreme and the diluted mongrelised Anglo-global version at the other. Most Sais seem to be happy with this state of affairs, maybe blissfully unaware of what it brings.
                That said, our lot here in Wales are no different. In their anxiety to be seen to be uber tolerant they have bent over and taken a shafting from any old incomer with the wit and nerve to demand the full on Ritz welcome. Shame that so many others have to wallow in varying degrees of poverty and squalor to allow our politicians to serve up this perverse inequality.

                1. For me, that’s a major problem with ‘inclusivity’ as it’s practised in Wales. The decisions to be ‘inclusive’ are gestures made by those that will not be impacted, while those that are impacted are, in the first instance, not consulted; and then, when they object, are vilified.

                    1. Dafis

                      Much the same here in Wales. Sadly we have a history of tolerating people talking down to us. I guess its roots derive from all those fire and brimstone non conformist preachers who were the radicals of their day. On reflection they were probably more honest than what followed including the sons of the manse as Gee calls them. Today we’ve had the infiltration of almost everything by self defined intellectuals devoid of anything other than the current fashionable dogma soaked up from various sources of bullshit. The working class, as was, has been distracted by the craving for instant gratification of materialistic experiences, or, at the other extreme, abject poverty in a growing number of cases. It’s hard to draw deep and meaningful conclusions about the direction of travel in politics when your belly is running on empty and 4 screaming kids in the same room! And these people count for jack shit in the alternative “space” of the woke and weird. Mobilise their interest and we could have a countervailing power of immense momentum to restore real meaningful priorities into our politics.

    2. Alison Chaplin

      I am supportive of jobs and investment in the County Borough as well. I welcome the promised indoor ski dome, water park and bike/skate park and hotels. It is just that there is a better site for it.

      Ffos-y-Fran is in need of regeneration as the planning permission for opencast mining has expired. It has the benefit of a railway line running straight into it, potentially providing sustainable travel to the facilities from Cardiff and beyond.

      By the time it is built, the A465 road improvements will be finished, providing dualled roads access from St Clears in the West to Birmingham and beyond in the East. There is also direct dual carriageway access from the A470 along the Mountain Hare slip road.

      The promise of this development has been dangled in front of us since 2017, that’s six years. The proposers aren’t the people who will be building and running the leisure park, we don’t know who is.

      I have contacted the Council suggesting this alternative site and gave them the name of a developer who is currently developing a large similar development in Manchester. They run parks in Europe and Asia. They stated in a press article that they are looking for a site in Wales to do something similar here.

      1. Jon of the merthyr

        Alison I disagree entirely. The proposed Rhydycar site is strategically perfect for such a facility. It’s directly off the A470 in close proximity to town and just 1 mile from the beacons park and A470.

        Do you think companies like Marvel are queing up to invest in MerthyrTydfil and spend years planning with the risk of it not working out? There is no alternaivtive of this magnitude! No matter how you think a small operator in Manchester will invest in a slope without any national significance. As you allude, Marvel have been planing this since 2017. Obviously because it’s no mean feat to plan such a leisure resort with so much intricate details and things to consider. If it’s succesful we’ve been told on many public consultaion meeting that it will be operated by a reputable company with experince of this. Isn’t this the way these things work? If the council had similar ideas would they operate it, surely not.

        I’ll be another 20 years for something like this to happen if the council thought it would be a good idea to put it somewhere else. Let’s not forget they are skint and don’t have a history for plaaning things well. juest take a look at our leisure centre and Cyfarthfa.

        Also, the real robbery of Merthyr is Ffos-y-Fran with the council selling it off for pittance, being sued by the company operaing the extraction and then going under leaving a hole in the mountian. Maybe Jac would want to do some investigative jounalism into this issue and find the real conspiracy.

        1. I live in an area where tourism is far too dominant. It provides low-pay, seasonal employment. Then there’s the problem that tourism attracts people to live in the area where they’ve taken their holidays, or to retire there. This results in most locals being squeezed out of the housing market. Now this venture at Rhydycar West might provide year-round jobs, but they’ll still be low skill, low pay jobs.

          Tourism is the economics of desperation. Wealthy countries don’t rely to any great extent on tourism. Take Ireland as an example; Ireland’s economic growth in recent decades has gone hand in hand with a decreasing reliance on tourism.

          What really worries me about your contributions to this debate is: ‘Tourism is the only hope and these guys are coming in with their own finance’. You have given up hope of anything better than tourism. I just hope there aren’t too many with your mindset, in Merthyr, and elsewhere in Wales.

          And yes, I did enjoy my drink last night. Thank you.

          1. What about the ‘quality’ of tourist, too, as an additional concern? I visit the places I travel to with a sense of wonder, respect and humility. Happy to pay any tourist taxes levied my way to the benefit of my destination, for example. Does Fat Jimmy the cabbie from Wigan, fishwife and litter of scratters in tow, graciously submit himself to such a soul-enhancing cultural exchange, all the while reverent of where he currently resides as a guest, in his fortnight in a caravan in Abergele? I’d say, no, he doesn’t.

      2. treforus

        I remember as far back as the late 80s a comment that the early 70s successful opposition to the proposed Colliers Row opencast coal site was ultimately not to Merthyr’s benefit as the site, riddled with old shallow mineworkings and outcrops, would have been worked out, cleaned up and available for redevelopment by then, much as subsequently happened to part of the site when the work was undertaken for the new road system. Of course the NCB, by and large in latter years, used to undertake a proper and complete restoration. I always feared that privatisation would not end well as far as opencasting was concerned as it involved years of expense after the last profit had been earned so was ironically better suited to a state corporation. Those ground issues haven’t gone away and now the clean up expense I suspect is horrific without the subsidy of selling any coal recovered. I just don’t see anything happening after the “due diligence” is made by any prospective lender.

      3. Alison Chaplin

        Are you aware that Merthyr Village Ltd has applied for a voluntary winding up order as they can’t meet their liabilities?

  9. Alison Chaplin

    No planning application was submitted by Marvel at the time. They have issued updates since usually saying the planning application will be submitted in 6mths type thing and have played around with the design and activities.

    They acquired title to the land after going to court to try to recover money they had lent Merthyr Village Ltd. In one of the consultation events held, Leigh and his partner Ali admitted their company isn’t the developer who will build or run the facilities. Their aim is to recover their money (and sum) by getting planning permission and selling it on so whatever is promised in any planning application, there is no guarantee it will ever be built. They claimed they have companies wiling to do that but as of this time, haven’t mentioned who.

    As for the Ski slope, the Welsh Ski Team don’t have the money to run the dome but if built would be keen to use it, so their involvement again isn’t an indication of where the money is coming from.

    1. From just poking around here and there I got the impression that Desai and his mate are just front men for others. Same applied to Large. No planning permission should be given to Marvel without it being made clear that the planning permission is conditional on the funders and eventual owners being acceptable. Because Desai has too bases in too many iffy places.

      1. Red Flag

        Indeed. Look at the fiasco that the Penrhos Land & Lakes leisure development that was proposed for the outskirts of Holyhead and the farce that has become. It’ was the wrong proposal, for the wrong place, millionms has been spent and nothong has been done (thankfully)

  10. Andy Arty makes a case for the UK on his Twitter the other day, based on ‘strong cultural ties’. Someone needs to ask him why, as a supposed Conservative, the state should get out of the way of people’s lives, commerce, etc, but we need a single, overarching state with its tendrils hither, thither and yon to stage-manage and maintain our cultural ties on this island. Perhaps such an ‘outside the box’ sort of enquiry might be beyond his thinking capacity. I’d wager so.

    1. The modern Conservative and Unionist party is neither conservative nor Tory. It’s a bunch of unprincipled spivs and chancers. Just look at some of the recent PMs to see the truth of what I’m saying.

      1. Red Flag

        The Tories are now a slightly right of centre economically, left of centre socially Social Democrat party just like Blair’s New Labour and just how Starmer is trying to position New Improved New Labour.

  11. Alison Chaplin

    To assist you with background here

    MVL had 2 planning applications for this site. Phase 1 was to create 3 development plateaux by removing 4.5m tonnes of coal by opencast method to to develop Phase 2 which was the housing, football stadium etc.

    The land at that time was already designated as open countryside (1970 British Coal Opencast application that was the first time environmental importance was put ahead of economics) and contained the significant Cwmglo/Glyndyrys SSSI and massive industrial heritage artifacts (described as larger than Ironbridge site).

    I don’t know if if is an accident or not but Marvel Ltd contains the MVL of Merthyr Village.

    In the 2 most recent Local Development Plans, the whole area was also moved outside of the settlement boundary which is now along the A470.

    Marvel tried to get their plans for the site put into the local plan and this was rejected by both MTCBC and The Planning Inspectorate.

    1. I hadn’t considered that Marvel contains the initials M, V, L. But there is definitely linkage between the old crowd and the new ones. Do you know what happened to the 2017 project?

  12. Dafis

    Yet another tale of extraction and exploitation I fear. All these networks of linked companies rising, falling, curling up and dying, or going dormant indefinitely. Guys with no track records of real achievement, just raising capital/debt, rolling assets over between companies to keep valuations up and suckers falling for it repeatedly. The sting will come when Drakeford or a successor regime will cough up the loot after which there will be a slow fade away ( or fast if it really hits the buffers) and the residual assets available to the creditors will be of minimal value as the land title will probably be held by another company. But so what, in the meantime it will afford multiple photo opportunities for Ministers and their senior flunkies and so many shallow press releases for the Western Mail to regurgitate faithfully for the benefit of the dim herd that it addresses.

    1. ‘Yet another tale of extraction and exploitation I fear. All these networks of linked companies rising, falling, curling up and dying, or going dormant indefinitely. Guys with no track records of real achievement, just raising capital/debt, rolling assets over between companies to keep valuations up and suckers falling for it repeatedly.’ describes it rather well.

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