Miscellany 30.01.2017


Once upon a time, in a city far, far away, a clergyman came up with the idea of a charity to help those addicted to drugs. This charity has – like so many others! – recently moved to Wales, it now gets lots and lots of funding, and is quickly taking over the Welsh ‘rehabilitation’ racket.

The Kaleidoscope Project is a company and a charity that began life in 1968 in Kingston-upon-Thames, London. In 2013 it relocated to Newport, Gwent, to share premises at Integra House with The South Wales Association For Prevention Of Addiction Ltd. This outfit, usually known as Drugaid, is also a company and a charity and wouldn’t you know it – I wrote about Drugaid in November 2015, read it here.

Even though Drugaid now has a partner to share the load its funding has increased. For if we look at the most recent accounts, for y/e 31.03.2016, we see that income for the year was £6,200,222, against just £2,698,651 for the previous year (page 11). And of that £6m+ total no less than £3,102,866 went on salaries (page 22), with a further £950,363 going on “partner charge salaries” (page 20). Does this refer to Kaleidoscope? Throw in all the other charges and expenses and you have to wonder just how much goes on treating the ‘clients’.

Turning to the 2016 accounts for Kaleidoscope, we find a similar picture. Total income for this Englandandwales operation was £6,855,603 against £4,973,281 for 2015 (page 9). Yet salaries totalled £5,018,767 against £3,561,817 for 2015 (page 17).

As with so many Third Sector bodies we see that seventy or eighty per cent of the income is spent on salaries, wages, pensions, expenses and other staff costs that appear to have little to do with treating drug addiction or alcohol dependency.

Something else you will have noticed is that by adding the figures for Drugaid and Kaleidoscope we see that their combined income almost doubled in a year, going from £7,671,932 in 2015 to £13,055,825 in 2016. Has there been a massive increase in drug addiction or alcohol dependency? I don’t think so. So how do we explain this increase?

One way of explaining it might be through expansion, into GwentDyfedPowys, the Central Valleys, and The North where Kaleidoscope is working with CAIS, an organisation exhibiting the same pattern of an expanding budget most of which goes on staff costs.

And even though the Kaleidoscope website doesn’t say so, I hear that Kaleidoscope now has an interest in 39 St Mary Street in Cardigan. The mortgage on this property had been held by Cyswllt Contact of Aberystwyth, which finally went belly-up last November (though the mortgage may have been inherited by Drugaid before the final collapse). The link for the Cyswllt website now takes us to this other English outfit.

So since moving to Newport in 2013 Kaleidoscope has been able to pull down many millions in grants and loans from the ‘Welsh’ Government’s civil servants and also from local authorities. It has spread like a rash across the country apart from Swansea and Cardiff. Significantly, Drugaid has no presence in these cities, either.

Somebody’s taking the piss here (and it’s not for urine testing!). An English-based, English staffed, cross-border agency is rapidly expanding in the addiction-dependency-homeless racket, raking in millions in Welsh public funding every year – most of which goes on salaries – yet there appear to be no safeguards in place to ensure that Welsh funding isn’t used in England or that English drug addicts aren’t being imported!

Kaleidoscope’s move into Wales is yet another example of Welsh-based bodies being replaced by English counterparts. Which of course further integrates Wales with England, and further exposes the sham of devolution, and ‘Welsh solutions for Welsh problems’.

Though let me make it clear that I do not believe that our politicians are directly culpable. The problem is at the level of senior civil servant/local government officer and Third Sector management. The former taking their orders from London and the latter believing they must operate in an Englandandwales framework.

Our politicians are guilty for not stepping in to put a stop to these squalid shenanigans.

SWANSEA LABOUR PARTY (always good for a laugh!)

Until May 2012 Swansea council was run by a coalition led by the Liberal Democrats whose leader was Chris Holley. In a campaign of dirty tricks waged by the local bruvvers one tactic was particularly naughty – even for Labour.

It was alleged that secret talks had taken place between the Lib Dem-led coalition and the Tories, with promises of increased spending in Conservative-held wards if an ‘understanding’ could be agreed. The matter was referred to the police, the CPS and the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales. The three councillors named were Holley, his Independent deputy John Hague and Conservative councillor Paxton Hood-Williams.

Nothing came of the inquiries. Read a report here from BBC Wales, and note the curious fact that the original story of October 2011 attributed the referral to the council’s chief executive and that it took four and a half years before the correction was made!

We shall never know how much public money and police time was wasted investigating this spurious allegation, but what the hell, this is how Labour does politics, the cost is irrelevant when pursuing a vendetta.

Now it appears that Labour is doing something very similar to what it falsely accused Holley et al of doing, in that it’s buying votes. I’m told that Labour councillors were instructed some time ago to improve their chances of re-election in May by giving money they’d been allocated for environmental improvements to high-profile local groups. Among the recipients are said to be the street markets in Uplands and Morriston. Should this be investigated?

peas from the same pod

The deeply divided Swansea Labour Party – which now insists that ward branches report back each and every thought and deed – is also demanding that all candidates in May adhere strictly to Comrade Corbyn’s Ten-Point agenda for Britain and that all new candidates be loyal to Momentum.

Absent from the glittering array to be presented to Swansea’s electors will be John Charles ‘John Boy’ Bayliss. Although he quit the ugly lovely town some time ago John Boy has managed to hang on as an Uplands councillor.

Now he plans to stand in Cardiff and I look forward to reporting on his defeat, after which he might slink back over the border and never trouble us again.

UPDATE 02.02.2017: More information reaches me insisting that a deal was done, a deal that included the coalition offering to support Paxton Hood-Williams’ nomination to chair the council’s Child and Family Overview and Scrutiny Board.

Also, I have received a copy of an e-mail from chief executive Jack Straw to René Kinzett, leader of the Conservative council group at the time, in which Straw clearly says that he is referring the matter to the Ombudsman. We must assume that’s what he did, so why did the BBC make the ‘correction’? Read the e-mail for yourself.

For those wondering about ‘Rocking’ René, this post from April 2013 might help. Thankfully, Kinzett is now long gone from Swansea. Here-today-gone-tomorrow councillors are clearly not the sole preserve of the Labour Party.


This is another subject about which I’ve written a number of times. If you want to catch up, start with The Impoverishment of Wales (scroll down) and then Ancestral Turf.

It’s a familiar tale. Middle class English people move to a small rural town and wonder how the locals managed without them. They then set about ‘improving’ things and providing ‘services’. Of course, this impulse to serve the inhabitants of one’s adopted home is not unconnected with the ready availability of moolah, and the salaries and pension pots it provides.

While the YMCA seems to be a focal point for these activities there have been other ventures. One worth mentioning would be the bunkhouse, launched in 2013 and bust by 2016. But what the hell, it’s only money, and with the system we have in Wales there’s plenty more where that came from.

But now I hear of something more worrying than just ripping off the public purse.

As you might guess, the YMCA caters for children and young people. Which explains the concerns many involved there have over the husband of one of the leading lights. A man who is said to spend a lot of time ‘hanging about’ the place. For I’m told that this man is currently on police bail accused of sexual offences against children, with his wife away from work on the pretext that he’s unwell and she’s looking after him.

She wants to return, but, for obvious reasons, this is being opposed. To complicate matters, there is a Big Lottery People and Places grant of £500,000 waiting in the wings.

My position is this: there can be no further investment in Llandovery YMCA of any kind and from any quarter while the wife of the alleged paedophile is still involved. There should also be a thorough investigation by those agencies that have hitherto given such unquestioning support: the ‘Welsh’ Government, Mark James Carmarthenshire County Council, and of course the Big Lottery Fund. One question might be, ‘given that he likes hanging about the building has the man in question ever had a DBS check?’

The unacceptable option would be to ignore what’s happening in Llandovery to save embarrassing certain people in positions of authority.


A curious tale has reached me about the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

To cut a long story short, a dispute between neighbours was taken to Cardiff council, and then one of those involved, unhappy with the way the case had been handled by the council, took the matter up with the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales. At which point things took a strange turn.

When he later asked to see the documentation that had passed between the council and the Ombudsman the complainant was informed that this correspondence was “exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act or DPA” (Data Protection Act). Explicitly mentioned in justification for not providing the information requested was Section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (reproduced below).

If we look at part (1), then if (a) or (b) applied it would be easy for the Ombudsman’s office to quote the relevant ‘enactment’ or ‘obligation’. They chose not to. As for (c), there was no court case so I fail to see how contempt of court can be applicable. Which leaves (2), on which you can make up your own minds.

The Ombudsman’s office eventually relented, to the extent that they were prepared to release a single document – but only if the recipient signed a gagging order! Which makes you wonder what secrets could possibly be contained in correspondence between Cardiff council and the Public Services Ombudsman discussing a relatively minor dispute.

My understanding is that information provided under the FoI Act is considered to be in the public domain. It’s reasonable to assume that this does not apply with the Data Protection Act, and that this explains why the correspondence was released under the DPA rather than the FoI Act.

This case raises more questions than answers. Not least, is Nick Bennett the PSO for Wales a law unto himself, above and beyond the control of those who appointed him? Or, given that he was appointed by a Labour government, and Cardiff is a Labour-run council, is this a bit of quid pro quo?

Has anyone reading this had a similar experience? Can anyone offer suggestions on how to challenge this decision?

MAKING USE OF THE FOI ACT 2000 (by ‘Big Gee’)

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides public access to information held by public authorities. More information HERE.

It does this in two ways:

•   public authorities are obliged to publish certain information about their activities; and

•   members of the public are entitled to request information from public authorities.

The Act covers any recorded information that is held by a public authority in Cymru (Wales), England and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. Information held by Scottish public authorities is covered by Scotland’s own Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Public authorities include government departments, local authorities, the NHS, state schools and police forces. However, the Act (unfortunately) does not necessarily cover every organisation that receives public money. For example, it does not cover some charities that receive grants and certain private sector organisations that perform public functions.

Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings.

Why is this of interest to us?

Obviously, by our very nature, as a blogging site that deals specifically with political and politically associated subject matter in Cymru, we often have a need to prise information from the sources referred to above, who do not necessarily publish or release information that is often of public interest or benefit. Information is power, public bodies retain power by holding on to information, the public gain power by accessing information. The process also holds authorities in check and makes them accountable.

How do we presently make FoI requests?

At present, any individual or body can make a direct request for information by letter or e-mail to the public body they require information from. Alternatively there is a web-site run by a voluntary group called ‘What Do They Know’. That site covers all of the UK, it is only one of it’s kind in the British Isles. This excellent web-site does all the donkey work for anyone who wishes to use it. It has a database that covers thousands of public bodies. Anyone wishing to use it can simply choose the organisation they want information from. The site then allows them to post their request on-line. The request is automatically forwarded to the selected authority. All replies are sent back to the site and are automatically displayed for public viewing. The requester is notified of the reply and is given the opportunity to proceed as they see fit with the request. The site also sets deadlines for replies and offers the opportunity for the requesters to ask for an internal inquiry within the authority they made their request to. The site also allows the requester to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, if the situation requires that action.

The only drawback with the ‘What Do They Know’ site is that it has to deal with requests on various levels, throughout the UK. By virtue of the sheer numbers involved, it does not bore down to all parish/ community levels, especially in Cymru. Although many of those small ‘parish’ authorities do not have e-mail contacts that can be used, so they are generally overlooked. We could help rectify that.

How can we improve on this service In Cymru?

The software that powers the ‘What Do They Know’ site is readily available from Alaveteli. Whilst it takes a considerable amount of technical know-how to set up a FoI site, the ones involved with the Jac o’ the North blog site have that technical expertise.

What we would like to explore is the viability of setting up a ‘sister’ site to the Jac o’ the North blog site. It will hopefully provide a FoI service to the citizens of Cymru. It’s database will contain contact information for FoI departments within authorities and the public bodies that serve Cymru, from Y Senedd (the Welsh Assembly) down to local parish/ community councils, where possible. This will fill the gap not provided by the current ‘What Do They Know’ web-site.

The initial work is the heaviest, which entails not only setting up and customising the proposed site, but the harvesting of information for it’s database. In order to achieve this we need a ‘team’ put together to achieve that very important primary step in the process. When the site is up and running it will require minimal supervision, maintenance and moderation.

All those interested in being involved in this project can either contact the Jac o’ the North’s web-master, or contact Jac directly. We will keep you posted of our progress.

A FoI web-site specifically customised for use within our own country would be a huge boost to the availability of information to the ordinary man and woman across our communities.

♦ end ♦

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On the subject of ‘The Drugs Racket’ studies of ‘what causes someone to rough sleep’ find that..

(a) 75% of those rough sleeping have an addiction.
(b) 10% caused by the actions of the criminal justice system.
(c) 5% mental health, those that were previously housed in asylums.
(d) 10% other.

Those rough sleeping by the actions of the criminal justice system, 10%, is where the courts have placed restrictions on an offender. The perpetrators of domestic violence, sex crime, and subject to exclusion notices from areas where they have previously lived. The probation service used to ‘deal’ with instances of housing need, but increasingly due to privatisation, the housing for this type requirement is handled by the private sector. G4S in South Wales and Kaleidoscope have a contract with G4S for the provision of ‘out-of-area’ housing. Essentially, there is a process of importing undesirable criminals into Wales.

Those rough sleeping with evident mental health issues, 5%, would many years ago, be housed in ‘asylums’. This provision was ended with the introduction of ‘care-in-the-community’, however, the NHS, more particularly in England have ended their spending mental health provision. Patients fail to take their medication, end up on the streets, and go through a revolving door of sectioning.

There are two schools of thought on tackling rough sleeping (75%) by those with addictions.

(1) Treatment First.
The argument goes that it’s pointless providing rented accommodation to anyone addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling as the problem will re-occur as the person will spend their benefits on the addiction rather than paying for their housing. Most addiction interventions involve prevention from harm (like needle exchanges) and substitution intervention (like Methadone). This method of alleviation has a very poor success rate due to the chaotic life of the rough sleeper, access to cheap alcohol, a criminal market in the substitutes, and easy access to weed. In Wales, Drug Aid gets Welsh Government grants to provide these services and by it’s nature, it attracts addicts into Wales from across the border.

(2) Housing First.
The argument goes is that if housing is provided directly to addicts, a lifestyle stability can be established and subsequent medical provision can tackle the cause of the homelessness. It was pioneered in the US by the Mormons (charity sector God squad) with little success, and became known as State funding of the crack houses and drinking dens of Salt Lake City. Housing First was more successful in Scandinavia, most notable in Uppsala in Sweden, but the key to the success was a good state funded social services and health provision. Housing addicts became ‘clean’ as a result of providing housing first, and subsequently backed up by treatment.

Housing First is the reasoning behined the Kaleidoscope Project, to import addicted rough sleepers into the to poor areas of Wales (they have just obtained a huge ‘rough sleeping grant’ from the DCLG in England) with the Welsh Government providing the homes (via Housing Associations) and the NHS in Wales paying for the subsequent treatment.

So how do we stop this?
So what provision (if any) should be made?

Big Gee

Just a quick ‘heads up’. If anyone is wondering why Jac is quiet – he’s got a bit of a technical problem with his computer kit at home. Shouldn’t take too long to resurrect himself.

He should be able to rejoin us soon.

Big Gee

For those who would like a little peek into the book that dafis mentions above – written by Mark Curtis (‘Secret Affairs about British collusion with Radical Islam’), then this video interview on Epilogue 03-10-2011 where Derek Conway talks to Deepak Tripathi is quite an eye opener, especially when you consider what is going on in 2017, given that the book was written in 2011.

Most of the people – especially the ones that blindly go along with the mainstream propaganda – haven’t got a clue what’s going on behind the scenes. However it’s heartening to see some are at last waking up!

Click HERE.


I note thet you have retweeted comment from Mark Curtis whose hefty tome – Secret Affairs, about British collusion with Radical Islam – is a must read if at all interested in the subject or the broader context of duplicity of UK foreign policy. I’m still plodding through it having already been through Christopher Davidson’s Shadow Wars. Taken together they deliver a huge insight into the utterly deviant “policy framework” of UK and US governments since 1945 with some reach back to WW One !


“The initial work is the heaviest, which entails not only setting up and customising the proposed site, but the harvesting of information for it’s database. In order to achieve this we need a ‘team’ put together to achieve that very important primary step in the process.”

Could you say more about this ‘harvesting of information’? Would people be given a specific geographical are to ‘harvest’. Have you had some volunteers?

Big Gee

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you daffy2012, unfortunately I’ve been out of circulation for a couple of days.

Setting up a FoI site is not that difficult from a technical point of view. What such a web-site requires to be efficient and practical is a comprehensive database. It’s not a huge task in Cymru because we only have 22 major authorities. Each authority has a network of parish/ town/ community councils. What we would need to do is collect all the FoI e-mail addresses used by the main 22 authorities (just one for each. Click HERE for a list). Then we need the e-mail addresses for the person dealing with the smaller parish/community councils (usually the clerk for the council for each). Not all smaller councils publish e-mail contact addresses, but they can probably provide an address if asked. Then there’s the Senedd, NHS, Police & education authorities etc. along with any other public body that comes under the provision of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

It would be a bit of a task to collect all these for one person, but if we got a team together it would be quite easy to do. The best way forward would probably be for each volunteer to be tasked with the job in their own authority area. All that’s required is the official name of the council and an e-mail address.

Can I suggest that any of our contributors, that fancy lending a hand in this voluntary task, can contact Jac, using the contact mail form in the right hand side panel of this page.

In answer to your last question, some have shown an interest but we haven’t had any volunteers put their name forward yet.


Help on how to use FOI successfully is much appreciated I’ve been told how they are worded can be crucial also.
I’ve used them in the past with zero success.
eg After a 10 month wait all I was only allowed was some newspaper clippings about the issue I requested.
“cai maes sais”!

Big Gee

Did you request an internal review? There is a process to allow that if you don’t get a proper reply or the reply is delayed. By law a FoI request must be responded to within 20 days – unless a valid reason is given for any delays.


Post script to the above – If only a small proportion of those moralising hand wringers got off their collective pot and made an effort to support this deserving petition we as a nation would be showing signs of real progress. So come on you bunch of pseudo socialist poseurs get on with it, or is this case too close for comfort for your own warped values ?

Deiseb April Jones – mwy na 110,000 o enwau

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

Mae deiseb sy’n galw am ddedfrydau llymach i droseddwyr rhyw wedi llwyddo i gael mwy na 110,000 o lofnodion, sy’n golygu y bydd Senedd San Steffan yn ystyried cynnal dadl arno. Cafodd y ddeiseb ei sefydlu gan deulu’r ferch 5 oed o Fachynlleth, April Jones, a gafodd ei chipio a’i lladd yn 2012.


Thank you dafis, here is the direct link to the petition to sign.


Nearly 2 million people have signed the trump petition, so why on earth haven’t more people signed the petition for ‘April’s Law’ to help protect our children? Sentences for sex offenders should be far tougher, so a clear message is sent that child sexual abuse is in no way tolerated in our society. Gone should be the days of brushing CSA under the carpet as taboo. It is the worst nightmare of any family, what April and her family were put through and we should all support this vital petition to help better protect all our children.


Because its not promoted,? Never heard of it until now


Publicising the pro visit petition ( Trump to Buck House ) is not the duty of the BBC who are still far too busy seeking out evidence that Hillary “wuz robbed” and that Brexit is illegal !

Listening to the whining from Westminster today should only increase the intensity of feeling in Wales that we too should have an “Article 50 moment” thus leaving that rabble to wreck England, and Scotland, as sadly a lot of the Jocks’ M.P’s seem to be reduced to a miserable whine in line with the rest of this rotten institution. The total lack of understanding of the real world is staggering. No matter what we think of this Tory government ( not a lot in my case!) the notion of laying out the entire negotiating strategy, goals objectives etc is about as naive as anything I have ever witnessed.


@ dafis
“…laying out the entire negotiating strategy, goals objectives etc is about as naïve…”
How the UK government is going to negotiate is something that needs to be kept under wraps.
The problem is that the goals and objectives have been declared publicly – to get the best deal for Britain. Which tells us nothing specific about what Britain will actually get nor does it acknowledge the reality, which is that whatever it gets will be no more than what the EU is willing to agree to.

The UK government knows that the deal that it eventually gets for Britain will be not be what the bulk of the electorate, both remainers and leavers, will think of as being “Best” . It’s strategy and that of all the newspapers that supported Brexit will be to blame Johnny Foreigner for being nasty to Britain.

There’s effectively an unspoken policy being carried out by the government, helped by the Labour party to cultivate the delusion within Britain that Britain is a more significant, influential and powerful nation than it is .So far that “policy” appears to be having success. Up as far north as the Cheviot hills anyway.


Another day of hand wringing and posturing from the pro-Remain set at Westminster. That lying twat Clegg really excelled himself and didn’t show any remorse when reminded that he above all others should refrain from banging on about broken promises – Student loans, funding of higher education etc. Of course he was today dressed in his No.1 uniform face that of primary apologist for the EU. Ms Sturgeon and our CJ ought to focus on more productive activity as well. They all have immense capacity for heat and wind but not much light coming from any of them.

jeffrey davies

hmm charitys have become slave markets were they take government monies for takng in a slave look at the ymca they take someone of the streets into one of their nice pods were the persons rentt of 250 quid in the inner citys is paid for by dwp gov yet they get monies for taking the slave oh dear our charitys aint that anymore just a slave market were they barter for monies for taking one in

Janet howell

I am reminded of the “long march through the institutions ” , Jac


On a point of fact the original referral to the SWP / Ombudsman on the ‘roads for votes’ affair was made by ex Lib Dem turned Tory councillor for Mayals Rene Kinzett.
On the wider point I never got the fuss as it seems to me that decisions over how the council spends our money SHOULD be taken by the local councillors we elect (for better or worse) rather than by civil servants, consultants and shadowy 3rd sector entities. At least they can in theory be held to account via the ballot box.


It’s been a while, so a little hazy; but I think Jack as the chief accounting officer was obliged to ascertain first that the alleged expenditures were not totally spurious and then determine whether the authority could examine the questions raised by Rene around the legal propriety of Holley & Hague’s decision itself or not. Having decided that he couldn’t, then given the nature of the allegation (corruption in public office or something like that) he simply had no option but to pass it on to the authorities who could mount an investigation. Kinzett spun it to the Beans on Toast that the Chief Exec had referred and since Jack (quite properly) wouldn’t comment or deny then that was the way it got written up.
I reckon that Rene (who is no fool) knew that was the inevitable outcome and preferred to go via the chief exec because it was politically more damaging than going straight to the cops himself given that his personal vendetta’s with Holley and PHW were very well known. Naturally Labour in Bonymaen made the most of the whole affair once the Beans broke the story, but the main reason Hague lost was because he had offended the people at Bonymaen Rugby Club who had previously got the vote out for him.


Well done for updating.
Not so much that Auntie’s story was factually wrong, it simply didn’t give the whole story and in consequence was somewhat misleading as to the role played by the Chief Exec. Heaven only knows why it took them so long to publish a correction which is slightly misleading in itself … but it seems to have been made not long after Jack retired last year having reached his 60th, so a plausible hypothesis would be that once a private citizen he may have requested it himself.


‘What Do They Know’ does drill down to the Parish level, so setting up another site would seem like duplicated/wasted effort:-


The site works on a self-service/first-request basis, so all you need to do is ask them to add a new public body, see the following page on their site:-


The mysterious Carmarthenshire Public Services Board was recently added that way, and they’ve started publishing minutes ever since. It should be easy to get Llanofnadwy PC added, but folks have to care enough to ask for information.

Given the great and very visible work that ‘What Do They Know’ perform (along with multiple archives), few public bodies would dare take a swipe at trying to knock it off the web – the Streissland-effect would be catastrophic.

Big Gee

You’re quite right ‘preifat’, the WhatDoTheyKnow site does bore down to SOME parish/ community councils. I should have included the word ‘all’ when I wrote “it does not bore down to (all) parish/ community levels” – my mistake, I shall rectify it. What I meant to draw attention to was the fact that parish/ town councils in Cymru are woefully under represented. As an example, Aberaeron (which happens to be my hometown) is one of the major towns in Ceredigion. Here is the result of a search for Aberaeron Town Council on WhatDoTheyKnow:

We know that you can make a request to the ‘WhatDoTheyKnow’ site to have a particular authority included – if it’s missing – but that rather defeats the object of the exercise. You go on to a FoI site in the expectation that the majority of authorities are included. If you are then expected to make a request for inclusion, and provide the contact details for that inclusion, you might as well have contacted the authority directly in the first place.

As I pointed out in the original post, WhatDoTheyKnow is an excellent site, and does a fantastic job – no one distracts from that. However, as I also pointed out it has a huge burden cataloguing ALL the authorities across the UK. The whole point of a new site, specifically for Cymru, is the incorporation of a database exclusively and more importantly, comprehensively, for our country. If you want to make a request for information for let’s say, Henley-on-Thames Town Council, then you can easily do so on the WhatDoTheyKnow web-site. What is aimed for here is a closely packed FoI site for US in Cymru. It is another little service that is inherently ‘Cymraeg’ – goodness knows we need more of them to prove to the world that we have a voice and capabilities of our own.

As for the ‘Streisand effect’ well, I’m pretty confident that the fuss we could kick up on the Jac o’ the North site alone would be enough to draw public attention to the matter – if any public authority tried to knock us off the web as well, although that is hardly a likely scenario for either WhatDoTheyKnow or us!


I think we’re both looking for a positive outcome.

Thanks for the example, you can only find Henley-on-Thames because someone else has gone to the trouble of finding the details and asking WhatDoTheyKnow to add it. Three clicks from the Ceredigion CC front page yields a full list of the right contacts for your county:-


All someone with a little inclination now has to do is work through the five pages and ask WhatDoTheyKnow to add each one – none of that needs any specialist programming or sysadmin knowledge. For clerks without email access, just pick a prominent local county councilor – I’m sure they’d be happy to relay in exchange for their £13K p/a, or state their opposition on the upcoming election papers!

I think all 22(?) Welsh Council’s have a duty to provide those contact details – they must hold them due to statutory obligations for planning etc. If they aren’t easily identifiable you can always FOI them 😉 Thinking about it, perhaps if you just FOI each Council and ask for a csv file in the form of ParishCommunityCouncil, Firstname, Lastname, Email then the details could be block imported.

Running a parallel Cymru site, keeping it patched and secure, defending against massive DDOS attacks, paying for bandwidth, hosting, on & off site backups, redundant hardware, upgrades, training volunteers to vet requests, managing spurious libel claims etc. is quite an undertaking. Why not volunteer first to help WhatDoTheyKnow and gain a bit of experience? Long-term you might then have some proof of expertise to support a grant application to Tiger Bay 🙂

Big Gee

Thank you for your concerns, but you’re reacting as if your employment depends on us NOT setting up a FoI site for Cymru!

I don’t think any of us need coaching on how to have an authority included on the WhatDoTheyKnow site. The point I was making was that a member of the public who goes on the site to make a FoI request for ‘Cwmswt’ parish council or similar, should be able to do so with the least amount of hindrance.

As for your last paragraph, can I suggest that you let me worry about that. I think you are in fact overstating the pitfalls, for whatever reason I don’t know. Our site would not ‘run in parallel’ to the WDTK site, it would be an alternative – just for our country.

Thank you for your concerns anyway. But I don’t think we need a dissenting voice in our midst to try and pour cold water on the proposed project – after all it is only at the suggestion stage.

Gruff Williams

Aberaeron. Off topic, but I looked at the Estyn report for the local primary school and only 17% were native Welsh speakers. How can that be?


It’s full of Anglos and other assorted in-migrants, some non speakers from other parts of Wales, all going flat out to make it as English as possible. Local Cymdeithas trying to get these people to learn to speak Welsh by being nice to them. More likely to convert an ISIS butcher over to Welsh Methodist !!


Completely away from the themes of the above although secrecy and blatant dishonesty seems to recur on most issues, I recommend that you post a complete copy of Radnorian’s tweet on Double Standards as originally run by Counterpunch.org.

While I don’t necessarily subscribe to any one group or movement having an absolute monopoly on the truth, the torrent of evidence against the recently departed Pres of USA and his failed preferred successor requires repeated exposure to show the extent of the deception that prevails in US and international politics.


Thanks for your latest post Jac. I have noted your reference to 39 St Mary Street Cardigan within the section relating to “The Drugs Racket”. As I live at Cardigan I shall keep an eye on the property and report any future interesting activity. I totally agree with your conclusion that the problem lies with senior civil servants and third sector management and their over use of “closing-down” letters when valid {but searching} enquiries are made regarding the use of public funds. Our elected representatives should be holding them to account.

Big Gee’s section on FOI Act also interesting. The Act was introduced to try and force public authorities to be more open and transparent. I now find that I have to use the Act on a regular basis for matters that should be dealt with through normal correspondence. The Act should certainly be extended to include the third sector: all organisations that administer public funds.

Big Gee

Thank you Wynne for your kind words.

If you think you can help with the project (ferreting out contact details of FoI departments within authorities), then please get in touch. The process is not difficult, it’s just labour intensive, and would take one person a lot of time, so ‘many hands make light work’! We are currently waiting for responses so that we can get a team together.

It’s quite easy to fish out the information. E.g. by visiting web-sites like THIS.


Living in Cardigan I normally use the FOI Act in correspondence with Welsh Government, Ceredigion County Council and Pembrokeshire County Council. I have previously used the link provided on their websites rather than direct requests for information to a named officer. I normally receive a prompt acknowledgement and reference number within days although, as you are aware, they have 20 working days under the Act to respond or claim an exemption. I assume most public bodies will have a link on their website to their FOI Officer {or FOI team}. If I do not receive a response within 20 days I normally politely request an internal review before considering referring the matter to the Information Commissioner. As you are no doubt aware, the whole process can be time-consuming if authorities are reluctant to share their little secrets with the general public who fund their activities. I have previously been advised by Ceredigion Council not to direct enquiries to named officers but use the generic email address provided on their website. In my view many of my requests for information should be processed through normal correspondence. Public bodies are becoming more and more secretive hence the need for frequent use of the FOI Act.