Another ‘homelessness’ outfit!

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

This is just a ‘quickie’ to reassure my countless fans in Corruption Bay that the Grim Reaper has not come a-calling at Chateau Jac.

Were that to happen then the weeping and wailing would be heard from the Afan Valley Adventure Resort to Llangefni Shire Hall. (How are those projects progressing, by the way?) The resultant tsunami of grief from political and third sector circles, the tourism industry, and those who have come to Wales to invest dirty money, would take us from pandemic to total catastrophe. Catastrophe, I tells ye!

As the title suggests, this piece is about homelessness. I take the view that it’s inevitable people will become homeless; some through no fault of their own, others though making the wrong lifestyle choices. Whether both groups should be helped in the same way, and treated equally, is a discussion for another time and another place.

My criticism stems from the fact that there are clearly individuals and organisations exploiting homelessness in their own interests. The evidence is everywhere. When I submitted a FoI to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ in late 2017 the reply told me that Wales already had 48 organisations involved in what I make no apologies for having called ‘the homelessness racket’.

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And now I’ve run across another member of the cartel, this one called Housing Justice, yet another English organisation that has added ‘Cymru’ to its name and branched out into Wales in the era of devolution. And it’s always Wales, never Scotland.

They come because they know they’ll got a good reception – and funding – from the ‘Welsh Government’. For nowhere else on Earth does the third sector exercise such influence over an administration. In fact, it is part of the administration.

That, and the fact that due to policing, justice and prisons not being devolved, added to the mess of a privatised and inefficient probation service, has resulted in Wales becoming a dumping ground for England’s problems.

And this unhealthy influence of the third sector is no recent phenomenon, as this report from a decade and a half ago confirms.

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In terms of funding, Housing Justice – which is both a company and a charity – is not a major drain on the public purse like some of the other players in the business. Its role seems to be more of a facilitator, or a link. What I’m trying to explain will become clear later.

As I said, this is an English organisation, with its headquarters in London, and run by Christians of various denominations. Housing Justice Cymru was set up in 2016, though this brief article suggests that HJ was already operating here, with Wales regarded as a ‘region’. Presumably of England.

For the piece I’ve just linked to tells us, “first director will be Sharon Lee, currently acting coordinator for Housing Justice’s Faith in Affordable Housing project, Wales region”.

So who is Sharon Lee? Well, she’s chair of our old friends Wales & West Housing, and also CEO of Aelwyd Housing.

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You’ll probably remember that Wales & West CEO, Anne Hinchey, is also a devout Christian, as are others connected with W&W. Which I’ve always thought was odd. For Wales & West is undoubtedly one of Labour’s favoured housing associations, if not the outright favourite.

And yet, most of the bruvvers I’ve known over many years have been either agnostic or atheist. How do we reconcile a secular political party being so close to a housing association where, when it comes to recruiting and promoting staff, Christian belief may be more important than the qualifications and qualities necessary to run a multi-million pound business?

Before getting back to Housing Justice Cymru I’d like to mention something I picked up in the Annual Report and Accounts for 2019. On page 12 we read that among new projects set up in 2018 was one in ‘Chester (West Chester)’. So I checked the map provided by HJ, and I even tried Googling ‘Housing Justice Chester’ but there was nothing. The nearest shelter seems to be in Ellesmere Port, which is north of Chester.

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Mildly confused, but undaunted, I pressed on.

From what I can gather, Housing Justice Cymru‘s initial focus of operations was on Swansea Bay, with shelters in the city itself and in Neath Port Talbot. This may be due to the presence in Penclawdd of Mandy Bayton, a director of Housing Justice and something of a leader among those on a mission to do good.

But then, late in 2018, HJC launched night shelters in various Wrecsam churches. And once again we see the Wales & West link at work, for CEO Anne Hinchey never misses a photo opportunity.

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I’m in no doubt that the Wrecsam night shelter links with the opening of HMP Berwyn, the UK’s largest prison, the previous year. For prisoners released from Berwyn, with nowhere to go, become Wales’s responsibility, even though most of them come from outside Wales.

I’m equally sure that the Wrecsam night shelter is the one referred to as ‘Chester (West Chester)’ in the HJ Annual Report. This is reminiscent of the ‘West Cheshire’ deception used by estate agents hoping to sell local properties to those who can be persuaded that Froncysyllte and Rhosllanerchrugog are Anglo-Saxon place names.

But if you really are that stupid, then Jac’s got magic beans . . .

Though in the case of Housing Justice Cymru I’m sure it’s a genuine mistake. Which means that HJC thinks the largest town in northern Wales is part of Chester.

That picture of the ubiquitous Anne Hinchey comes from the Housing Justice Cymru Facebook page. Where I also turned this up.

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I mention it because it might link with this story from the BBC yesterday about cabins for homeless people in Llandudno and Bae Colwyn. Though Housing Justice Cymru is not mentioned, only Cais. If they’re both running schemes for the homeless in these towns then rough sleepers should be well catered for.

But will there be enough to go round? Or will we see homelessness outfits fighting on the streets of Rhyl, Prestatyn and Colwyn Bay just like the drugs gangs from north west England fight in these towns over their customers?

What am I saying! There’s plenty more over the border, both homeless and drug addicts.

Cais, you’ll recall, appeared here not so long ago, in this post. Cais is one of the major players in the A55 homelessness/social dumping racket. With the latest accounts reporting an income of £10m, half of which goes on salaries – £70,000+ for the CEO – but still manages to leave £1.6m in the bank.

According to the Charity Commission website Cais operates in ‘Lancashire and throughout Wales’ but the ‘area of benefit’ is ‘Wales and the Marches’. The composite below makes me think of a number of problems.

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First, putting Lancashire ahead of Wales rather gives away Cais’ priorities (though the map also covers Cumbria!). Second, how can importing criminals and drug addicts from Manchester and Liverpool be of ‘benefit’ to Wales, or the Marches? Third, how can the ‘Welsh Government’ and local authorities fund an organisation that is so obviously working to the disadvantage of Wales?

Clearly Cais and Housing Justice treat Wales with some contempt. To them we are just an appendage into which England’s problems can be dumped. But that’s how the homelessness racket operates.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that homeless people/rough sleepers move around of their own volition, but what we have in Wales is organisations that are quite blatant in importing homeless and rough sleepers. While in the north the problem has been exacerbated by the opening of HMP Berwyn, with capacity for over 2,000 prisoners.

Before finally explaining what I believe is going on, here’s another little insult from the Housing Justice Cymru Facebook page.

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“We simply can’t find enough ways to say thank you”, it says. Why not try ‘Diolch’?

Incidentally, the Caer Las mentioned in the FB post is another third sector outfit based in Swansea that deals almost exclusively with released prisoners, who are often housed in cheap property bought in residential areas. Caer Las has made itself very unpopular over the years, especially in Llanelli.

In addition to setting up night shelters and serving up hot soup, Housing Justice Cymru is also in partnership with housing associations; not just Wales & West but also Pobl.

Proof comes in the form of Jonathan Hughes, based in Swansea, who “is a Catalyst Worker for Housing Justice in Wales”. (I thought it was called Housing Justice Cymru.) Before joining Housing Justice Cymru Hughes was Director of Development (West) for the Pobl Group, headquartered in Newport.

Now to explain what I believe is behind it.

Like other homelessness organisations Housing Justice Cymru controls valuable ‘assets’ – in the form of homeless people. Which makes HJC attractive to housing associations. Wales & West of Cardiff has a limited presence in the Swansea area; how better to increase its footprint than by linking – via the Christian connection – with a group already established in the area.

In the north, we have a Category C prison that is way too big for our needs providing a regular supply of ‘clients’ for third sector bodies like homelessness organisations, using Welsh public funds. (Or whatever is left over after salaries, junkets and jollies.) Berwyn has become a magnet for both third sector outfits and housing associations.

In addition, we have bodies like Cais importing directly.

But the ‘homelessness’ organisations have to be there first to confirm that people are homeless and in need of somewhere to live. These then become prospective tenants for Wales & West and others. And because of the backgrounds and ‘issues’ of these homeless, housing associations can demand – and get – top dollar.

In essence, we have developed a system that sees housing associations ‘feed off’ homelessness organisations. For housing associations this is much more lucrative than housing law-abiding and hard-working Welsh people.

And to help facilitate this relationship we have people like Sharon Lee, director of Housing Justice Cymru and chair of Wales & West. And she’s not the only one with a foot in both camps.

The third sector in Wales is, increasingly, run by people who have moved to Wales themselves making careers out of exploiting others that they or someone else has dumped on us. And we pay for this.

Not just in direct funding, but also in blighted communities, added pressure on the NHS, more work for our police and courts. So look at the big picture, which is so easily lost when you’re on the moral high ground hugging each other for being so virtuous.

When Labour loses next year’s Assembly elections, whoever takes over should reform the third sector as a priority. And use the money saved for what Wales really needs.

Little things like an economy, an education system, a health system, infrastructure and all the other things prosperous and well-run countries take for granted.

For just as nobody ever got rich working for somebody else, no country ever prospered from allowing itself to be constantly shat on by its neighbour.

♦ end ♦




‘This land is (y)our land’?

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

In recent years I’ve written a few articles – too many to list here – about the unrelenting assault on Welsh farming and rural life. A campaign that sees Welsh politicians used as puppets by senior civil servants serving interests other than those of Wales and Welsh people.

This post is in the form of an update.

THE GATHERING STORM

Arraigned against our farmers are politicians in London of assorted political hues, left-‘Green’ politicians in Corruption Bay, civil servants linking Westminster and Whitehall with Cardiff docks, and land-grabbing ‘environmentalists’ who tend to be either strident memsahibs or darlings of the Guardianistas.

Last week, during a Skype-enabled session of the Senedd, Lesley Griffiths AM, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs – working on the principle that a pandemic is a good time to slip out bad news – announced the release of Draft Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

The timing certainly surprised and angered our farming unions. National Farmers Union Cymru was ‘astonished’, while  the Farmers Union of Wales agreed that the proposals are ‘draconian’.

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Now on the one hand, we all want cleaner water. But it looks as if Ms Griffiths and her friends have been over-zealous in their attempts to give us crystal clear rills, rivers we can cross by walking on the backs of spawning salmon, and lakes home to old slappers catching the swords that are regularly chucked in.

But on the other hand, we don’t want to drive farmers out of business using sly and underhand methods. Well, I don’t, but there are some who do, and Ms Griffiths is an ally of theirs, possibly no more than a tool.

In both statements you will see reference to Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ). This term is used to describe areas, “that contain surface water or groundwater that is susceptible to nitrate pollution from agricultural activities”.

The percentage of Welsh land designated NVZ currently stands at 2.4% (750 farm holdings) and there was an understanding that the percentage would increase – Natural Resources Wales recommended 8% – but Ms Griffiths has proposed that the whole country becomes a NVZ. (So you’ll understand the response of the farming unions.)

A NVZ consultation process launched by the ‘Welsh Government’ 29 September 2016 ended 23 December 2016, with the findings being published just over two years ago. You can read the ‘summary of response’ here.

A flick through those responses makes it clear that farmers’ bodies were outnumbered by angling clubs and environment groups, a number of them Englandandwales bodies. (I’m thinking here of the National Trust, the RSPB, Marine Conservation Society and the Angling Trust.) And the way the responses came in suggest that members and supporters were whipped into line.

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One question considered the effects of an All-Wales NVZ on the Welsh language. There was a majority view that enforcing an All-Wales regime would be damaging to the Welsh language because the (often unnecessary) expense involved could prove too much for the smaller family farm. But in the very last paragraph we read:

“One respondent who agreed with the question thought language should not be a fundamentally important factor in any new regulations. However, it was essential that a Welsh identity was maintained through clean waters and a beautiful countryside.”

So there you have it. Remove Welsh-speaking farming families and Welsh identity will be perpetuated by the water nymphs and sword-catching slappers to which I heretofore alluded.

But I repeat, I want to see clean rivers and lakes; it’s just that I believe this can – and must – be achieved without waging war on the farming community. Which is what it seems motivates Ms Griffiths and her pals, using the findings of a consultation process skewed by those with many years experience in such dark arts.

This proposal to extend NVZ must not be looked at in isolation, for it is part of a wider strategy to ‘discourage’ traditional farming and open up the Welsh countryside to new ideas . . . and a new population.

The assault began in May 2009 with the publication of ‘One Wales: One Planet’. This is what the UN had to say about it:

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Which means that pleasing a few thousand hippies and eco-fanatics was seen to be more important than providing an economy, a health service, an education system an infrastructure, and all the other things needed by three million people.

And remember! in 2009 Wales was managed by a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition.

‘One Wales: One Planet’ led, in October 2012, to the ‘Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6, which allowed One Planet Developments. A measure intended to attract hippies into Wales and allow them to build what they like, wherever they choose; with local planning authorities forced to give them planning permission, often retrospectively.

Wales is the only country in the world to have enacted this hippies’ charter.

Next, in December 2013, we saw Alun Davies, then Minister for Natural Resources and Food (therefore Ms Griffiths’ predecessor) transfer 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy funding from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. In practice, this saw £286m taken from farmers and allocated to rural development projects.

No prizes for guessing what ‘rural development projects’ means, and who benefits.

Fifteen per cent was the maximum permitted by the EU and the ‘Welsh Government’ showed its attitude to farmers by going for broke.

Then we had the Well-being of Future Generation Act (Wales) Act 2015 promising sunshine, lollipops and roses . . . and cushy jobs for Labour Party cronies. Such as the first Future Generations Commissioner herself. Sophie Howe is the daughter of a former Cardiff Labour councillor, and previously worked for Alun Michael, erstwhile Labour MP and now South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.

No other country entertains anything like this bullshit.

More recently we have seen the arrival of the memsahibs and the Monbiots demanding huge swathes of our homeland in which they can play silly buggers. I’ve dealt with this in The Welsh Clearances of 16 October 2018 and a number of times since. Just type ‘rewilding’ or ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box on top of the sidebar to find these further contributions.

And to cap it all, we have recently seen outbursts from ‘trendy metropolitan eco-zealots’ and swivel-eyed advisers to Boris Johnson promoting the same idiocies.

ÉMINENCE GRISE

There is is no question that influencers have been working on the ‘Welsh Government’ for a decade or more, and they have tended to be men with little understanding of or sympathy for farming, and very often a poorly concealed hostility towards Welsh farmers.

We should not be surprised therefore that through the malign influence of this cabal Welsh farming has been weakened by one cut after another, to the advantage of the hippies, the memsahibs and the Monbiots.

They always encourage legislation against farmers, nothing is ever done for farmers.

Most of those I’m referring to have been mentioned in previous blog posts, but now I want to focus on one who has been rather overlooked, Gary Haggarty. No, this is not Gary Haggarty, the UVF killer and supergrass, but Gary Haggarty, former Rural Director for the ‘Welsh Government’.

‘Shared vision, united approach and consistent messaging are crucial to success’. Did you ever hear such vapid sound bites! Click to enlarge

But more importantly, Haggarty is the partner of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the ‘Welsh Government’. Their affair was kept secret for quite some time but has been widely known about for at least a year.

Haggarty has form, for he is said to be the genius behind the decision to take money off farmers with the 2013 ‘Pillars’ decision.

Responsibility for replacing of the Tir Mynydd scheme with the unpopular Glastir arrangement is also laid at his door. Glastir tends to regard traditional Welsh farming as just another rural activity, little different to organic hobby farming. Which of course fits perfectly with the overall strategy.

When Brexit came along Haggarty saw another weapon he could use and he rolled it out with the September 2018 consultation document, ‘Brexit and our land: Securing the future of Welsh farming’. The second element in that title is quite insulting considering what we know about Haggarty’s attitude to farming and farmers.

The ‘Welsh Government’s response to the results of the consultation process is contained in this document.

A further publication in July 2019 was ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land’, which was described by its ‘author’, Lesley Griffiths, as ‘revised proposals’ following the responses received to the ‘Brexit and our land’ consultation, also ‘authored’ by Griffiths.

Or were they, because of course the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs was in a relationship with a man on a mission to bring Welsh farmers to heel? And so I have no doubt that he wrote most of what appeared in these publications. And she was happy to let him do it.

Which means that a man with not a single democratic vote to his name is dictating policy to the wretched and useless ‘Welsh Government’. And Gary Haggarty is not the only one.

So much for devolution!

This relationship was known about in Cardiff Bay for a long time, but Haggarty was only reassigned when it became public knowledge. Yet the relationship was improper whether it was public knowledge or not. They should have been separated, professionally, as soon as the affair became known about.

BEST OF FRIENDS

As I say, the relationship between Griffiths and Haggarty is now out in the open, as shown by the image below, taken in a Dublin bar on 8 February, the day of the Ireland v Wales rugby international.

On the left we see the happy couple, and on the right, Elin Jones, the Plaid Cymru AM for Ceredigion and Llywydd (Speaker) in the Senedd. And is that Llais y Sais columnist Carolyn Hitt behind Jones? If so, what’s a nice girl like her doing there?

Gary entertaining the ladies with his Stan Laurel face. Click to enlarge

You could say that seeing Labour and Plaid Cymru politicians sharing a convivial jar in a Temple Bar pub shows how civilised Welsh politics is. Not really.

Could you imagine Elin Jones sharing a Guinness with Andrew R T Davies, or his successor, Paul Davies? Or enjoying a snifter and a risqué joke with Mostyn? (Neil Hamilton, to you.)

And if Neil McEvoy had walked through the door Elin Jones would have screamed, switched off his microphone, summoned the gardaí and demanded that they drag him off to Kilmainham to be summarily executed.

Let Uncle Jac interpret that photograph for you. What it says is this: In next year’s Assembly elections Labour will fall well short of a majority of seats, consequently its only hope of staying in power lies in a coalition with Plaid Cymru. Therefore a vote for Plaid Cymru in 2021 will be a vote for Labour.

So don’t be fooled by the playful sparring you’ll see in the election campaign. It’s only done to fool mug punters. Don’t you be one of them!

Something else that strikes me is that Elin Jones, from a farming background, has no problem socialising with people inflicting so much pain on Welsh farming. A testimony to the amnesiac qualities of the Cardiff Bay air.

Or possibly Deryn Consulting.

AND, FINALLY . . .

There was a piece of good news for our farmers last week. And unwelcome news for those wanting to displace them. For that’s where we’re at: two sides, one still in possession of its ancestral land, and the other prepared to use all manner of tactics to take possession.

This is semi-naked colonialism, with native ‘friendlies’ who have jumped into bed with the enemy justifying their treachery by pretending it’s done for the greater good of saving the planet.

The news I’m referring to is that academics conclude that planting trees everywhere, which is what many of the would-be ethnic cleansers advocate, would do more harm than good for the environment.

“The report comes from the Natural Capital Committee (NCC), which says planting trees into peat bogs would prove a serious mistake.”

But don’t worry, for those pulling Lesley Griffith’s strings will still want wind turbines plonked on peat, to cause flooding and other problems – and it will all be done in order to save the planet!

Left to these people, Welsh identity itself will be destroyed . . . to save the planet. Gesture politics all the way.

Devolution does not work for us Welsh. Devolution benefits a colonial management class that just rubber-stamps decisions made by strangers acting against the Welsh national interest. We must move on to independence and reclaim our country from both our external enemies and their internal allies.

♦ end ♦

 

 

UPDATE 16.04.2020: Conservative MPs from Wales have written to Lesley Griffiths condemning her treatment of Welsh farmers over NVZ. (Did they also send Gary a copy?) Will Plaid Cymru also defend our farmers, or will they side with their Labour friends? (Available here in pdf.)

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Wales and Coronavirus 2

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

I know I often start with an apology (I have a lot to apologise for), and this time is no exception. I’d toyed with the idea of writing about other subjects, but there really isn’t much point.

So I’m offering a second helping of Wales and Coronavirus, with perhaps an entertaining digression or twa.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING TESTING KITS

Politicians have been under the spotlight in this crisis, which will return to haunt some of them. For many politicos are being exposed as liars, others as incompetents, while the worst of them are both, and more.

Let’s take the case of the testing kits that the ‘Welsh Government’ insists it ordered from Roche, an order that it’s alleged was cancelled by the Swiss pharma giant when the UK government got involved and put in a bigger order.

A few things strike me as odd about this incident. First, the ‘Welsh Government’ has produced no evidence of an order being placed, let alone accepted. Second, after an initial flurry of outrage London’s local management team seems to have fallen into line, leaving Drakewell looking increasingly like a compliant ‘regional leader’ in a totalitarian state.

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But let’s be generous, and assume that even if the order wasn’t actually placed, that negotiations were at least underway. That being so, was Whitehall tipped off about the ‘Welsh Government’ – for once! – looking up to the job, even upstaging BoJo’s gang?

This might explain why the deal between the ‘Welsh Government’ and Roche fell through. But if so, who tipped off Whitehall?

My money would be on civil servants, more specifically, senior civil servants of the type appointed by London and answering to their masters in the Great Wen. And when they’re not carrying clecks they’re implementing orders from London, often dressed up as ‘Welsh legislation’.

But even before the Roche incident, we now know that an offer was made in early March to carry out testing, but the offer has been ignored, according to Professor Andrew Godkin of the School of Medicine in Cardiff.

The BBC reported:

‘Prof Godkin, who leads the School of Medicine, said Wales has significant laboratory capacity to help ramp up the numbers of Covid-19 tests.

“It’s been deeply frustrating. We flagged up what was available about three weeks ago,” he said.

“We certainly have the capacity here and in Cardiff University to really offer… a considerable number of tests.”‘

Why hasn’t this offer, from an institution within miles of Corruption Bay, been taken up?

Whatever the truth about the testing kits from Roche, the ‘Welsh Government’ has clearly surrendered control to Downing Street. With the result that when it comes to testing kits, personal protection equipment (PPE), Wales will get whatever London decides.

And so, here we are, a month or more into this crisis, and front line staff in our health service are still waiting for tests and PPE. The conclusion I draw is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has chosen not to act contrary to London diktats, even when to do so would be best for Wales.

Which makes devolution rather pointless.

Though of course, it could all be a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick. For ‘Welsh’ Labour likes nothing more than to blame somebody else for anything that goes wrong. By surrendering control over the fight against coronavirus to London Cardiff Bay might be seen as getting itself off the hook.

ANOTHER WEEKEND INFLUX

While it wasn’t as bad as the previous weekend there was still a sizeable influx of selfish idiots who just don’t care about risking other people’s lives. Liz Saville Roberts MP even reported that second home owners were sharing information on how to avoid police checks, like it was some game.

As that tweet from LSR suggests, the police seem to have been more proactive this weekend, stopping people and asking them where they were going, and why.

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The evidence popped up regularly on Twitter, with reports of vehicles also being stopped on Dyfi Bridge at Machynlleth (a boundary between GogPlod and Dyfed Powys), and also around Bala.

But this tweet put out on Friday evening by a councillor on Ynys Môn would suggest that nothing was being done on the bridges linking the island with the mainland.

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Perhaps his cri de coeur was answered, for the following day police were out, but getting in their way was the new MP for the island, Virginia Crosbie. For as we know, Tory politicians can’t resist a photo opp with police. (Though of course there are 20,000 fewer cops since 2010.)

Though you have admire her brass neck. To begin with, Conservatives love holiday homes, most Tory MPs have at least one. And I guarantee that Crosbie garnered quite a few votes from holiday home-owning families that live in safe Tory seats, and could afford to vote from their holiday homes in a marginal constituency like Ynys Môn.

Though the ultimate hypocrisy was her claim that it’s all being done to help the NHS. The health service would be coping a hell of a lot better with this pandemic if her party had put more money in over recent years.

If those clowns in London she regards as the government could just arrange for front-line health staff to be tested, and to have PPE, she’d look less like a politician exploiting global misery to promote herself.

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Though maybe I’m being a bit harsh, for we mustn’t use coronavirus to score political points, must we? Though if that’s the case, then someone should have told ‘Barry’ Lee Waters, Sosban’s AM.

Plaid Cymru put out a statement over the weekend urging people to stay at home, and when it was retweeted by ITV Wales’ Welsh political editor, Adrian Masters, Waters jumped in with both feet to infer that Plaid was being anti-English.

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Obviously the boy hadn’t read the full statement that Adrian Masters had so helpfully retweeted. (Quelle twat! as we used to say in Swansea.) Though Barry’s contribution reminds us of another political party that has problems with holiday homes. His own.

Which is strange, for we should expect any socialist or social democratic party to be opposed to holiday homes on a number of grounds, but not ‘Welsh’ Labour, which has tied itself up in all sorts of knots.

Lee Waters often gets confused over health matters. Here’s a pic from a couple of years ago, showing him with the Llanelli MP, Nia Griffith, protesting against hospital closures introduced by their own ‘Welsh Labour Government’ in Cardiff. No wonder they both look so sheepish. Click to enlarge

Mainly because from a ‘Welsh’ Labour perspective holiday homes is a ‘nashie’ issue, the kind of thing that people like me are supposed to get vexed about. Which is true, up to a point, I suppose, but it’s hardly an obsession with me, as you’ll realise from searching this blog.

But because that’s how Labour in Wales frames it, doing anything to discourage the growth in the number of holiday homes is seen as a concession to political opponents.

The collateral damage of hard-working local people priced out of the property market, and the destruction of Welsh communities and even Welsh identity, is acceptable because by and large the areas worst affected don’t vote Labour.

Which in practical terms, results in ‘Welsh’ Labour being as indulgent towards holiday homes as the Conservative and Unionist Party.

While Plaid Cymru’s request was for no one to travel unnecessarily, Visit Wales still has trouble telling tourists and holiday home owners to stay out, as this tweet put out on Saturday makes clear. They can’t quite bring themselves to say, ‘Don’t travel INTO Wales’.

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We’ve had two weekends of ignored lockdown and now we face Easter weekend, for which I’m sure the police are preparing. Though I would suggest that rather than random checks all over the country, or responding to tweets such as that from Councillor Carwyn Jones, checks on the border would be more effective.

Wales is a small country with a limited number of decent, cross-border roads, maybe a dozen in all. You’ll see that I’ve made three additions to the motorway and trunk road map reproduced below. All three cross the border into Powys, with the A44 being the only road into Aberystwyth from the east, the A489 links with the A470 heading north towards Snowdonia, and the A438 runs down to the Beacons.

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Just having a police presence from Friday morning on these roads where they cross the border would have an effect. Pulling over motor homes and towed caravans would obviously make sense, as would stopping anyone who looks a bit ‘touristy’.

And if such a tactic proves successful then we could make it permanent!

PROFITEERING

We’ve all heard reports of coronavirus being used to bump up prices by shysters like Mike Ashley of Sports Direct, but it’s not just the usual suspects, as I found out last week.

I was looking for a new scanner/printer and after deciding on the model I wanted I went online to compare prices. To my surprise – as I’ve never bought from them before – John Lewis Partnership offered the best deal. So I ordered my machine, an Epson ET-7750 at £549.

I then had an e-mail telling me that the order was being processed. Before, bizarrely, receiving another e-mail saying that my contact details had been changed. Not by me they hadn’t! This was followed by, ‘We are unable to process your order’, and then a cancellation.

Read by numbers. Click to enlarge

Curious, I went to the John Lewis website. The machine I’d ordered was still there of course – but the asking price had gone up by £50 since I’d placed my order!

Obviously I had to find another supplier. I went to one I’d never heard of before, Box.

I paid just over £10 more than I’d originally paid John Lewis, but at least there was no nonsense about ‘changed details’, and it even arrived on Saturday, not on Monday as I’d expected.

But being the curious bugger I am, after placing my order I went back to the Box website – and saw that the price had increased by £30 in less than 24 hours!

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It seems obvious to me that with so many stores closed online retailers feel they can charge whatever they like. So if you’re shopping online – be careful!

‘ALL PULLING TOGETHER’

In a number of ways it seems that the UK government is using the coronavirus crisis to override devolved administrations and possibly undermine devolution. How far this will go remains to be seen.

For coronavirus is now up there with World War II, the monarchy, World Cup 1966, the Falklands, the death of Diana, Only Fools and Horses, and the 2012 Olympics, as a ‘shared experience’. Something that we are expected to believe transcends national and regional differences, and makes distinctions of class, religion and of course, politics irrelevant.

Coronavirus will be milked for all it’s worth, and of course it explains why Her Maj made an address to the Commonwealth on Sunday. (You missed it!)

The problem is of course, that we aren’t ‘all in it together’.

Let us visualise a member of the Cheshire Set, with private health care, and let’s call him Dominic. Let’s further assume that he drives down in his Merc to spend a weekend in his holiday home, and while in Wales he infects old Mrs Roberts with Covid-19 then fucks off back to his big house in Wilmslow before Mrs Roberts dies.

Yeah, I suppose that could be a shared experience; cos Dom must have had coronavirus for him to infect Mrs Roberts. Stands to reason.

And just as Hitler had Versailles, those arseholes in London feel they too must have someone to blame, or a distraction. But with so much Chinese money sloshing about in London they can’t imitate their orange friend in Washington and call it the ‘Chinese Virus’ . . . so they pick on footballers!

Matt Hancock, the uninspiring Health Secretary in the UK government, has demanded that footballers give up a chunk of their earnings in the fight against coronavirus. Specifically, for hospices.

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Perhaps a case could be made for paying these players less because football, like all other sports, has been suspended until the crisis has passed. But if the issue is money, then a few hundred footballers taking a pay cut isn’t going to make much difference. And how would the money be collected? Or even assessed? If their clubs pay them less is Hancock planning to ask Liverpool and Manchester City and Arsenal for whatever they’re not paying Salah, de Bruyne, Lacazette and the rest?

But if money is the issue, then a hell of a lot more could be raised from the Tories’ tax-avoiding friends, with their tax haven companies, as Gary Lineker has suggested. (There’s no, ‘if they possibly can’ about it, Gary. They definitely can!)

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Staying with the beautiful game, why am I and millions of others still having to pay Sky, BT, Premier Sports and Amazon Prime for football that’s not being played? Will Hancock talk to Rupert Murdoch and others to get our subscriptions suspended until football resumes? Will he hell!

But it’s not a question of money. No amount of money collected now can make much difference in the fight against coronavirus. The problems in the NHS are structural and of long standing. The money should have been invested years ago, over the last few decades in fact.

Which makes having a pop at footballers a cheap publicity stunt from a cheap politician.

Another ‘national treasure’ recruited in the fight against coronavirus and for British unity is Florence Nightingale. The new emergency hospitals in England have been named after her, and of course the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, home to the Welsh Rugby Union, has followed NHS England’s lead.

But in Glasgow the emergency hospital was named after Louisa Jordan, a WW1 nurse from Maryhill, who died working in Serbia. She is still fondly remembered by the Serbs. (Serbia suffered more casualties per capita than any other country.)

This decision has outraged those who wear Union Jack underpants beneath their kilts and support a certain football club. One such was former Labour MP Douglas Alexander, who detected ‘small-minded nationalism’ at work.

To believe Douglas Alexander, naming a hospital in Glasgow after a woman from that city who lost her life helping others is wrong, but to name it after a woman who did a great job of self-promotion in one of Britain’s countless 19th century colonialist adventures, but who has no connections with Scotland, is the right thing to do.

Here, as with Barry Lee Waters, we see the BritNat mind at work. Scottish or Welsh nationalism (bad) is detected in the most harmless gesture, but it would be blind to British nationalism (good) if London sent in the tanks and started arresting people.

WHAT NEXT?

Coronavirus is having strange effects. In this posting I’ve found myself defending Plaid Cymru and agreeing with Gary Lineker.

Regular readers will know that I am no friend to Plaid Cymru; but what is not so well known is that I was no fan of Lineker the footballer, I think he ruins Match of the Day with the faux mateyness, and I detest even more his liberal pontificating on social media.

But there you go, these are not normal times. And the worst is yet to come, in terms of deaths, and in disruption to what were our everyday lives.

Political leadership in both London and Cardiff has failed us. The economy is already severely damaged, house prices will collapse, savings and investments will suffer, and by this time next year our lives could be framed by very different political and economic paradigms.

There is no going back to things as they were pre Covid-19. That system has been found wanting. Once the worst of coronavirus is behind us Wales must have a fresh start. And that can only mean independence.

♦ end ♦

 

 

 

Coronavirus and Wales

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

Yes, I know I’d promised to write on a couple of other subjects, but this coronavirus pandemic has turned things upside down. It’s certainly impacting on the Jones household.

To begin with, my daily trips to Tywyn for a coffee and a read of the ‘paper are gone. This was often followed by sauntering up and down the High Street, doing a bit of shopping, maybe driving down to Aberdyfi to mooch around some more. But not now.

I’m stuck at home with my long-suffering wife. Fortunately, being a home carer, she’s out quite a lot. Another aid to me keeping cabin fever at bay is to stock up on the Malbec. I’ve found that caressing unopened bottles can have a soothing effect.

Self-isolation has also meant no grandchildren staying, which only adds to the sense of this being a different time. And it’s also quieter outside the house, fewer people about, less traffic. If it wasn’t for the internet it might be like an earlier epoch.

Though perhaps what I miss most is the football. I used to spend at least 25 hours a week watching football. Not just Welsh and English football; I’m just as happy watching La Vecchia Signora or the Jam Tarts. But coronavirus is global, which means there’s no football anywhere. Anywhere! (Yeah, I know, that’s what ‘pandemic’ means.)

So when I’m not online, or out taking my constitutional, listening to music, or up in the attic doing my Fast Eddie impersonations on the kids’ pool table, I’m dipping into my books. Hazlitt has always been a favourite. But when I reached for that little volume of essays the other day I found a page marked with the dust cover, so I opened it . . .

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Fortunately I don’t believe in such things. So for all the shysters out there, and the lying politicians – I plan on being around to write about you for some time yet.

THE STORY THUS FAR

The realisation that things were getting serious took a while to sink in, for just about everybody, with the Welsh Rugby Union taking longer than most to get the message.

The Six Nations game against Scotland, scheduled for March 14, was going ahead almost up until the last minute. This despite the other games in Round 5 – Italy v England and France v Ireland – having been called off, and with football and almost every other sport also put on hold around the world.

It wasn’t until the afternoon of Friday the 13th, with Scottish fans safely in Cardiff and spending their money, that the WRU decided to call the game off.

To understand this disregard for the nation’s health you must appreciate what motivates the Welsh Rugby Union, what it regards as important. Vying for top spot are sucking up to English royals, and making money. Everything else is secondary.

In defence of the WRU, no pressure was applied by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. As late as Thursday the 12th, Vaughan Gething, the woefully inadequate health minister, saw no need to call the game off. Though in fairness to Gething, this non-decision could itself have been due to pressure from the WRU.

(Things can often be ‘reciprocal’ in Cardiff.)

Gething last week warned that Wales can expect a “larger impact” from coronavirus because Wales’ population is “typically older, sicker and poorer”. After two decades of his party running things in Wales he felt no shame in such an admission!

Something that did go ahead in Cardiff that Saturday was a Stereophonics concert.

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All grist to the mill of cynics believing that too many ‘national’ bodies based in Cardiff bend over backwards to make sure Cardiff never loses out, even when we are threatened by the worst pandemic since ‘Spanish’ Flu a century ago.

In terms of leadership, things have not got any better.

The ‘Welsh Government’ gives its daily briefing and issues advice, which is usually repeating what has already been said in London. Much like the laws passed in Cardiff docks, which are basically the same laws as England with ‘(Wales)’ added.

Exposing a fundamental problem with devolution when it’s run by a timid and unambitious Unionist party stuffed with mediocrities.

Labour has never resolved the conundrum of wanting to make Welsh people feel devolution is relevant to them but not wanting to depart too far from the London line for fear of being branded ‘nationalist’, even when doing things differently would be best for Wales. And so we have a sham devolution that neither enthuses our people nor serves Welsh interests.

All of which makes a mockery of “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems”, which is how devolution was sold to us many years ago.

Yet there are times when ‘Welsh solutions’ are needed. Let’s cast our minds back to last weekend, just after ‘lockdown’ was announced, when workplaces and schools were closed, and people told to stay home. Yet we saw thousands upon thousands of people treat a national emergency as a national holiday and flock to Wales.

While I didn’t expect the ‘Welsh Government’ to close the border and lay minefields, I did think they could have been a little more decisive than they had been the previous weekend over the rugby international, but no; not even when the scale of the irruption had become obvious.

Below you’ll see a few examples of the ignorance and stupidity we were confronted with, and just a few of many instances of locals acting for themselves. (Some still had to do it yesterday.)

UPDATE: Here’s the response of a second home owner in Y Felinheli today. The slate sign reads ‘Port Dinorwic’, as that road runs down to the old harbour.

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These colonialist attitudes are the result of ‘selling’ our homeland for decades as nothing but another nation’s holiday destination. Encouraging the belief that Wales is some kind of Brigadoon that only comes alive when tourists visit.

This belief that Wales exists for no other reason than the enjoyment of tourists results in contempt for us, our history and our very identity.  

Out of curiosity, I went to the Visit Wales Twitter account, and what I found was revealing. Up until March 12, two days before the planned Wales v Scotland game and the Stereophonics concert, there is at least one ‘Come to Wales’ tweet per day.

There is then a gap of ten days in which Visit Wales did no more than retweet other organisations’ tweets about coronavirus and, significantly, compensation. Like a rabbit caught in the headlights Visit Wales didn’t seem to know how to react. March 22 was of course the Sunday, and by then it had become obvious even to Visit Wales that locals in tourism hot-spots were organising themselves against irresponsible tourism operators and individuals.

Only then did Visit Wales put out a tweet telling potential visitors to stay away. And this might have been motivated as much by worries about the damage being done to the reputation of the tourism industry as by concern for public health.

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If I carry on like this I’ll be accused of ‘politicising’ coronavirus. This was the accusation thrown at Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon when she recognised the threat and acted on coronavirus earlier than Westminster.

I accept that coronavirus knows no national boundaries, while on an island there must be some unity of purpose in the face of such a threat, but Wales still faces problems that will not be appreciated by those giving orders in London.

As we’ve seen, one such problem was holiday homes and tourism, and many thousands of people choosing to self-isolate in Wales. Which exposed another serious failing down in Cardiff.

The ‘Welsh Government’ (and this of course includes Visit Wales) refused to address this problem for far too long because politicians and civil servants in Cardiff have come to believe their own propaganda – Wales cannot survive without tourism, consequently nothing must be allowed to interfere with tourism. Not even a pandemic.

Political leadership has been noticeable by its absence. From London the advice has swung from “Nothing to get alarmed about – let’s all catch it!” (the ‘herd immunity’ approach), to “We’re all gonna die! – everybody stay home!” (lockdown).

While here in Wales, when not acting as an echo chamber, our politicians have been even less inspiring. Just read the article below from yesterday’s Llais y Sais. (Available here in pdf format.)

Did you ever read such waffle from a politician? Was Wales ever cursed with a more evasive and dishonest practitioner of even this disgraced profession? Did you ever see anyone more out of their depth?

Yet here’s the man leading the party and the administration that over the past twenty years has given billions of pounds to the crony-parasites of the third sector, where we find CEOs pulling down £100,000+ salaries – while our nurses don’t have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

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(My wife, who every day visits sick and elderly people received her face mask on Friday.)

Political confusion reigns.

At London level we saw BoJo and the gang spurn the EU’s offer of ventilators; while in Cardiff, the ‘Welsh Government’ turned down an offer of 10,000, EU certified, Lloyds insured, testing kits of the kind used in South Korea.

This despite the World Health Organisation advising ‘testing, testing, and more testing’ as a way to avoid the spread of Covid-19. The only people being tested in Wales are those showing moderate to severe symptoms who might already have infected hundreds of others. Plus of course, politicians and their friends.

Carefully orchestrated communal clapping must not detract from these political failings. And when the coronavirus threat has passed we must remember how our politicians and their system failed us.

In the immediate future we must be on our guard against London using coronavirus to accrete more powers. For while devolution may not be worth defending, moving back to the status quo ante devolution must not be an option either, though it is being aired.

One airing came from a Welsh Labour MP during Scottish Questions last week, when Chris Elmore, the MP for Ogmore suggested that funding for Covid-19 should bypass the Scottish Government and go to local authorities. An interesting suggestion for a number of reasons.

The SNP of course forms the Scottish Government, but at council level we find a number of Unionist-run councils, often controlled by squalid coalitions held together by nothing more than a desire to keep the SNP out of power.

Such an arrangement as we find in the city of Aberdeen where, after the 2017 elections, the SNP was the largest party by some distance but is kept from power by an alliance of Conservatives, Labour and Independents. (Though the Labour councillors have been expelled from the ‘Scottish’ Labour Party for going into coalition with the Tories!)

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And while Elwood (or was he one of the Blues Brothers?) may be a nonentity in Wales, representing a rosette-on-a-donkey constituency, he certainly made the news in Scotland. And as the report I’ve linked to from the National puts it, “It was left to Alister Jack, the Tory Secretary of State for Scotland, to remind the Labour frontbencher of how devolution works.”

A Tory MP having to remind an MP of the party that introduced devolution how devolution works. Lord and Lady Kinnock must have been so proud.

Though if wanting to rip up the devolution settlement and insincerely argue that the common weal would be better served by handing money directly to local councils sounds familiar, then that might be because it’s the same thing we hear from the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. Is Elton a supporter?

If we are to do away with devolution, and that is certainly what I want, then it must be done in order to move forward to independence, not backward to direct rule.

Westminster is letting us down, Cardiff Bay is clueless, the BBC is failing us, Wales is even losing out when it comes to online shopping for God’s sake!

Covid-19 is disrupting all our lives, and will end a few of them; but it has served the purpose of exposing as weak and malleable incompetents those buffoons down Cardiff docks who’ve lied to us for over twenty years about defending Wales.

Stand firm, stay healthy, and when this threat has passed, emerge from self-isolation determined to push on for independence!

♦ end ♦

With Covid-19 dominating the News, and politics in a state of suspended animation, the pandemic even affecting the crooks I so often write about, I may not be posting so frequently over the next few months unless something important happens.

Look after yourselves!

 

Bryn Llys, unravelling

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

This piece was to be one of three in a post entitled ‘Rogues Gallery’, but things started accumulating and I realised I should focus on the Bryn Llys gang. Because I believe the end may be in sight.

For those new to the story, the gang referred to – with a couple of additions – hails from the Halifax area of West Yorkshire. They’ve bought property outside Nebo, a village south of Caernarfon, built a new house – ‘Snowdon Summit View’ – by exceeding planning permission, demolished the old house, removed hedgerows and cut down trees, and tried to steal land by bullying neighbours.

Bryn Llys, old and new. Click to enlarge

More recently the disruption to others’ lives has meant a new road and a bridge. All done to facilitate proceeding with the longer-term plans for the site, which will involve some kind of ‘Playground Wales’ horror show.

INTRODUCING JOHN JOSEPH DUGGAN

A good place to start this saga is June 30, 2005, at Bradford Crown Court, where 46-year-old John Joseph Duggan was jailed for more than six years. The court heard that Duggan had “masqueraded as 12 different characters to run a series of ‘ghost’ building firms which targeted unsuspecting trade merchants and private customers.”

The amount conned in this way was said to be £547,000, and the judge described him as a “professional fraudster”. There’s an account here in the Hebden Bridge Times, which is worth reading because it will prepare you for what follows.

At the time he committed these offences Duggan was already disqualified from being a company director, making it reasonable to assume that there had been earlier offences. The disqualification almost certainly explains why he used up to a dozen aliases. Duggan was then banned from being a director for a further fifteen years, up until 6 July 2021.

An extract from Hebden Bridge Times report of John Duggan’s 2005 trial. Click to enlarge.

The following year, Duggan’s son, Jonathan James Duggan appeared in the same court, and before the same judge, the Recorder of Bradford, Stephen Gullick. Who described the younger Duggan as a “willing apprentice”.

In court the prosecutor outlined the modus operandi of what was headlined the ‘family business’: ” . . . building companies had been set up since 2002 and ordered materials and equipment from suppliers who were never paid. Each company was wound up after only a few months and a fresh company set up.”

With the materials and equipment obtained by deception sold for cash.

Like father like son, the younger Duggan was using the alias Ripley.

THE SON ALSO RISES

Then there seems to be a gap – certainly, I can’t find anything – between 2006 and August 2013 when Bryn Llys is bought and Jonathan Duggan turns up in Gwynedd. Were they living off their ill-gotten gains?

For it seems unlikely they could have done much business in the West Yorkshire area after such bad publicity.

But a company was formed in March 2012 with Jonathan Duggan and Andrew Battye as the directors . . . and the secretaries, for they kept changing roles. Bridge Glazing Systems Ltd lasted until July 2015 when it was wound up by creditors.

I’m having difficulty identifying Andrew Battye, because it seems to be a fairly common name in Yorkshire. I’ve located a few of that name, but they appear to be legitimate. This is important because the Land Registry lists Andrew Battye as the owner of Bryn Llys. He’s also listed as the owner of the land adjoining Bryn Llys. (To be explained later.)

Among others I’ve mentioned is Shane Baker, BritNat fan of Tommy Robinson, who appeared once or twice as a ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’ film or TV extra, and lives in a large mobile home on the site.

His Facebook page confirms that he’s inordinately fond of a certain flag. And if you’re looking for a hot tub, then Shane’s your man. I’m told he’s sold lots of stuff online over the years. We can but hope that the suppliers of these goods were paid.

When he’s not online retailing it seems Shane looks after Duggan’s dogs. “Lovely pups”, says Julie Appleton of Benllech. A family friend, I suppose.

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Another Duggan associate is ‘property developer’ Aaron Hill, also a near neighbour. More on Hill in a moment.

But one I’ve rather overlooked recently is Jonathan Duggan’s half-brother, Scott Smith, who may still live in West Yorkshire.

It’s worth re-acquainting you with Smith because when we line up his business record with that of Duggan Junior we see a very similar ‘business model’ to the one that got their father banged up.

(Here’s a pdf version with working links.)

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You have to wonder why people with the business records and family backgrounds of Jonathan Duggan and Scott Smith are ever allowed to start a company.

JOHN JOSEPH DUGGAN SCENE II

Following his time in prison after the 2005 conviction John Duggan relocated to Harrogate, in North Yorkshire. But he had no intention of going straight, and in April 2018 he was sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment at Leeds Crown Court.

But he wasn’t in court to hear the sentence handed down, cos he’d done a runner.

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Unable to emulate Lord Lucan he was arrested within weeks at Benllech on Ynys Môn, where he was living under a false name. Fancy that, a false name. He may have struggled to come up with one he hadn’t used before!

While searching for Duggan père police called in on Duggan fils and the gang at Bryn Llys. The image below from WalesOnline shows how the ‘extension’ dwarfs the (now demolished) original house.

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John Joseph Duggan was sent down in April 2018 for five and a half years, so he might have been released by now. If not, then assuming he’s behaved himself, it can’t be long before he’s let out to rebuild his business empire.

HEARTS AND MINDS

We last read of the gang in Miscellany 02.03.2020 (section headed ‘Bryn Llys Bach’). There I mentioned the remarkable case of an old Land Rover spontaneously combusting, and an upcoming appearance at Llandudno magistrates court, so let’s catch up.

The court case was adjourned until Thursday and Friday of this week. Yet another adjournment. (Is this the third?)

The mystery of things just ‘catching afire’, as witnessed at Bryn Llys. Click to enlarge

When he’s not brushing up on his legal Latin and practising his rhetoric in the bathroom mirror, Jonathan Duggan has been complaining to anyone prepared to listen that he’s being victimised!

Even those who don’t want to listen have had to endure his self-pitying rants. In one incident, three weeks ago, outside the local school in Nebo, he was shouting and swearing, claiming nobody liked him, and that he just wanted to live quietly and farm. (He’s bought a few pigs and geese!)

Perhaps he doesn’t have the sense to realise that shouting and swearing at the school gates is guaranteed to get you disliked. Maybe he’ll get the message now that North Wales Police has served him with a Community Protection Notice (CPN).

This hasn’t been Duggan’s only recent brush with the law. For the Rural Crimes Officer is taking action over one of the dogs we met earlier attacking poultry in a neighbouring property. It’s not the first time his dogs have strayed and attacked poultry. I’m told Duggan’s gracing Caernarfon magistrates court early next month.

The postponed case I referred to is an appeal by the gang against an enforcement notice issued by Cyngor Gwynedd relating to the unlawful splitting or subdividing of the Bryn Llys title. This was something I wasn’t entirely clear about myself, but I think these are the details.

A previous owner of Bryn Llys, when it was a modest property with a small curtilage, bought some twenty acres of land. This explains title document WA936224 covering just the house and a small area, with title CYM579760 relating to the land surrounding the house. (Scroll down on both for title plan.)

Bryn Llys title shaded green. ‘Land adjoining’ edged in red. Click to enlarge

The suspicion is that Duggan wanted to further split the Bryn Llys house title into two, one title for the original house, a new one for ‘Snowdon Summit View’.

The old title might then have been used for another ‘extension’ developing into a second monstrous blot on the landscape.

LIE OF THE LAND

Problems are not coming singly for Jonathan Duggan at the moment. On the one hand, he’s been presented with a CPN for his monologue outside Nebo school, he’s up before the Cofi beaks thanks to his chicken-munching dogs, and he’s due at the seaside this week to defend himself against the enforcement notice.

But it doesn’t end there – I’m told there are further enforcement notices in the offing. Here’s one I can tell you about.

This concerns the ‘land lying to the south east of Glanrafon Terrace’, which the title document tells us was bought from Aaron Hill . . . with a loan from Aaron Hill.

Duggan has had work done on this land improving access so that large vehicles and machinery can be brought in to press on with the next stage of ‘Project Snowdon Summit View’.

For as I mentioned earlier, Jonathan Duggan and his pals have made no secret of their plans for the site, and the formation last year of Bryn Llys Ltd, which is in the business of ‘holiday centres and villages’, should leave no one in any doubt.

The secretary and sole director of Bryn Llys Ltd is Andrew Battye, who is, according to the Land Registry, also the owner of Bryn Llys and the land around it.

Bryn Llys land and access edged in blue, land bought from Aaron Hill in red. Bryn Llys house title not shown. Though outline suggests both old house still standing and extension built to original planning permission. Compare with NorthWalesLive photograph above. Click to enlarge

The details for both the enforcement notice and the appeal can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website. Here’s a direct link to the enforcement notice. Further links here to the enforcement notice appeal form and the enforcement notice appeal supporting statement.

There are a couple of things worth a comment. Turning first to the supporting statement, read the panel below, which sets out Duggan’s justification for trying to become Nebo’s answer to Thomas Telford.

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Can you imagine a crook like Duggan, who has terrorised his neighbours, and who has henchmen to back him up, plus large dogs, allowing anyone to hinder his access with “old gates and general rubbish”?

The material he refers to is well inside the boundary of the neighbouring property, leaving the Bryn Llys access clear. This is a pathetic attempt to justify his unauthorised work. As is the ‘fencing’ mentioned on the plan.

Proven by the fact that Duggan was able to use this access lane to bring in all the machinery and material needed to build ‘Snowdon Summit View’. Plus Shane Baker’s large mobile home.

Attempting to discredit the established access to Bryn Llys also explains the Land Rover fire at the end of last month. This was done to summon the fire service in the hope that any difficulty experienced by a large fire tender could support his claim, and undermine the enforcement notice.

But as I told you in the previous post, the local fire chief had visited the site earlier and said that Bryn Llys could be adequately covered by a ‘narrow access vehicle’.

Now let’s turn to the enforcement notice appeal form. Where you’ll see that the appellant is ‘Mr John Duggan’.

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When I queried this with a source I was told that it refers to Jonathan Duggan. But the abbreviated form of Jonathan is Jon, not John. So maybe it’s a typo? I wouldn’t be asking if Jonathan’s Duggan’s father’s name was Wolfgang or Mustafa, but it’s John.

FOLLOWING THE MONEY

It is universally understood that Jonathan James Duggan and/or his father John Joseph Duggan own Bryn Llys and the land around. But they can’t admit that because they have so many unpaid creditors, from Jewsons to HMRC.

Which explains why Andrew Battye owns everything. (Don’t laugh, it’s rude!)

Being unable to admit to having assets may also explain the bizarre deal over the new land. Running out of legitimate lenders, and with Duggan unable to say that he’s bought this land with family money, he and Hill pretend that the vendor has ‘loaned’ the buyer the money to make the purchase!

And Duggan is definitely running out of lender options.

Going back to the title documents, you’ll recall that in October 2013 a loan or mortgage was taken out with the Bank of Scotland. Then, in June 2016, there is a further loan/mortgage with the Shawbrook Bank. (These loans covering both titles.)

But then, and only against Bryn Llys, title WA936224, we find a further restriction dated 18 September 2018, this one in favour of Andrew Peter Smith.

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So who is Andrew Peter Smith? Well, here’s his Linkedin profile. You’ll see that Mr Smith is an insolvency practitioner, and he works for PayPlan, a company that helps people with debts.

What does it all mean?

One possibility is that the involvement of an insolvency practitioner means the bag marked ‘Swag’ is getting empty. Duggan would have hoped to replenish it by selling ‘Snowdon Summit View’.

But the Duggans seem to be stuck with a hideous new house they’re finding impossible to sell, despite having dropped the asking price from £850,000 last summer to £650,000 last month, when it failed to sell.

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If they are running low on loot, then the ‘purchase’ of the new land from Aaron Hill might be the last throw of the dice. For without the roadway and bridge the Duggans can’t hope to sell the new house, nor move on to ‘Snowdon Summit View Holiday Park’.

Duggan himself has contributed to the difficulty of selling by arguing that there is no viable access to Bryn Llys/’Snowdon Summit View’!

Desperation is taking hold. I’m sure Jonathan Duggan now hears the sirens of Shit Creek sing their beguiling song.

And this new land throws up another tantalising question. For as I’ve said, the Duggans can’t admit to owning anything for fear of creditors, yet with this new land Jonathan James Duggan is boldly listed as the owner. (But thinks he’s covered himself by claiming Hill loaned him the money.)

Duggan’s justification for laying the roadway and building the bridge across the land bought from Hill is to provide access to Bryn Llys. But why splash out £50,000 for the land, and many thousands more on the bridge and the roadway – to give access to a property he doesn’t own?

Looking back to the map provided by the agent in the appeal against the enforcement notice we read, “Blue line represents Bryn Llys site boundary prior to purchasing the additional land”. But Bryn Llys hasn’t bought ‘the additional land’. For Bryn Llys is owned by Andrew Battye and the new land by Jonathan Duggan.

If the new land forms part of Bryn Llys then either the new land belongs to Andrew Battye or Bryn Llys is owned by Jonathan Duggan.

The crooks are starting to contradict themselves.

For the benefit of any police forces considering using the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, or creditors looking for what they’re owed, John Joseph Duggan and/or Jonathan James Duggan own a large house they believe is worth £650,000, plus 30 acres or so of land. And they may still have cash stashed away.

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If Cyngor Gwynedd and others stick to their guns and enforce the law then Jonathan Duggan and his mates will have to remove the unauthorised roadway and bridge and reinstate the area.

And then, when that last throw of the dice has failed, the end will be in sight.

Whereas surrendering to Duggan’s bluster will start another sequence of unauthorised works, leading to one enforcement notice after another, more court appearances, and yet more misery for the neighbours.

The time has come for firm and decisive action to finally deal with these crooks.

♦ end ♦

 

Coronavirus in Patagonia

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

As if to prove that it’s a small world I sometimes post contributions from Jeremy Wood, a Kiwi who has immersed himself in the Welsh communities of Patagonia.

Because it is a small world, Covid-19 has obviously reached Y Wladfa, and one victim is Ysgol y Cwm, which you might remember reading about in an earlier contribution from Jeremy, Update from Patagonia.

I’ve used everything I received, including the message to me because it makes good reading. Jeremy writes: “You think things are bad in Wales with Labour? Come and taste all the worst cronyism, nepotism and corruption Argie style. Mr Julio de Vido, the Minister recently jailed under the previous government for Corruption with a Capital C, has just been freed and put under “house arrest” by the latest bunch (the current vice president was previously his boss).”

Jeremy Wood. Click to enlarge

To which I would respond: “Jeremy, your local politicians might be marginally more corrupt than the shower down Corruption Bay, but they could never be more incompetent. I say that because sophisticated corruption demands a level of intelligence almost entirely absent from our political class.”

Now read on . . .

COVERING LETTER

“Hello Royston!

Well, I hope you’re holding up over there! We are in total lock-down and, because of the combination of the federal system of government and complete incompetence, nobody knows what’s happening. The Minister of Health for Argentina is well qualified for the job – for the last 8 years, he’s been Argentina’s ambassador to Chile.

Here in Esquel, we have 4 respirators (unknown if they actually work), so the classic bribery system will make the decisions as to who has the priority to use them.

You think things are bad in Wales with Labour? Come and taste all the worst cronyism, nepotism and corruption Argie style. Mr Julio de Vido, the Minister recently jailed under the previous government for Corruption with a Capital C, has just been freed and put under “house arrest” by the latest bunch (the current vice president was previously his boss).

Anyway, now they have closed our school, Ysgol y Cwm, and are refusing to pay our teachers, so we are looking into the abyss.

I wrote this this morning. Any help would be much appreciated!”

All the best

Jeremy

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) CLOSES WELSH SCHOOLS IN PATAGONIA – YSGOL Y CWM LAUNCHES A SPECIAL APPEAL

On Monday 16 March, all schools in Welsh Patagonia were compulsorily closed by the Argentine government.

For many months, the Chubut (the Argentina Province where all the Welsh towns lie) Government has refused to pay the Welsh and other teachers in the new Welsh school in Trevelin, Ysgol y Cwm, claiming that they had no money. They pay only for a single administrator. The other Welsh schools in Patagonia, in Trelew and Gaiman, considerably closer to the seat of Government in the state capital, Rawson, and established for a longer period, today receive additional funding from the Government.

This Provincial Government has been racked for many years by intense corruption, leaving it as the most indebted (by head of population) in Argentina. In this province of “political favours”, the number of people employed by the province has risen from 22,000 to over 65,000 in recent years. And, despite natural riches, tourism, agriculture and fishing, the province has racked up a debt of almost one billion dollars, which includes 250 million paid for public works which were never carried out. The government was so broke that it couldn’t pay its public employees on time and, as a consequence, the militant teachers’ union went on strike, leaving most state schools closed in 2019 for months on end.

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It was hardly surprising, given the chaos in the province, that parents were looking for a safe haven for their children.

They found it in Ysgol y Cwm in Trevelin, which has never lost a day through industrial action. Indeed, the school was so much in demand that it maintained a waiting list and dramatically increased the intake of children with no Welsh background, thereby securing a rosy future for the Welsh language in this beautiful part of Patagonia.

Sadly, now, with the advent of the Corona Virus (although there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Chubut), the rose is in danger of dying – the school had never been in a position to make any money. In fact, it was losing close on £1,000 per month, but much of the shortfall was made up by standing orders from “Guardians” who gave between £10 and £50 per month, as well as fund raising schemes in Patagonia and in Wales. But this latest hammer blow means that the school may no longer be in receipt of fees from the parents, but it must still maintain payments to its teaching staff. They are now very busy creating Welsh distance teaching solutions for the children at home in Trevelin.

The school desperately needs financial help to weather this storm. These can be made directly into the school’s bank account in London or, preferably, in the form of standing orders in favour of the school. All the details are on the school’s website. Every donation will help. A standing order of just £5 per month will not only help financially today, but it will help the school to plan for the future when it can anticipate its future income stream from Guardians.

Please help in any way you can. Hopefully, with a contribution; but if not, then please pass this message on to as many people as possible.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 20.03.2020: Just received a message from Jeremy Wood, which reads:

“Many thanks for the coverage! A few over here are pouting that I have cleaned dirty washing in public. I will continue to do so!!

I just spoke to my son-in-law. He works for a large wine/spirits distributor in Britain. He said that their sales are breaking all records. They are selling £500,000 more than their budget EVERY DAY. The majority of sales are for wine.

I am working on a Malbec-based cure!

All the best and stay healthy!”

A ‘Malbec-based  cure’ would be lovely, but while we’re waiting, I’ll just carry on with the Malbec.

Housing Associations, a broken model

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

In an earlier post I dealt with Wales & West Housing, a housing association that has branched out into all manner of accommodation, including luxury flats.

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.

In the example brought to light by a comment to the earlier post by ‘Dai’ the W&W subsidiary could either be Enfys Developments Limited (formerly Enfys Developments Ltd), or Castell Homes Limited.

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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.

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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!

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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.

From the Mid Wales Housing Facebook page. Click to enlarge

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.)

From the Creating Enterprise CIC accounts for y/e 31 March 2019. Click to enlarge

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.”

When we look at the directors for Brenig Developments Ltd we find Mark Timothy Parry and Howard Rhys Vaughan. Both are also directors of Brenig Homes Ltd.

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.”

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Another clue telling us that the current system is broken is that local authorities have started building council housing again. Swansea and Cardiff are two examples.

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 ♦

 

 

An afternoon jaunt

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

I’m still working on the Wales & West piece, but things keep cropping up. And this week has been rather testing in a number of ways. So please regard this offering as a divertimento (as we say in Swansea).

Yesterday afternoon I had to take my wife and grand-daughter to the optician in Dolgellau. As they wanted to look around and do a bit of shopping I said to myself, ‘Jones, do you really want to hang around around Dolgellau for a couple of hours on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, or should you take yourself off somewhere?’

And so off I went in a north easterly direction.

Which of course brought me to Bala. But I didn’t tarry in the town, instead I took myself up to Frongoch, and the memorial to the Irish patriots interned nearby after the Easter Rising of 1916.

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I wasn’t the only one there. In fact, I’ve noticed, that for such a quiet spot it seems to attract visitors from near and far. After a rousing rendition of The Foggy Dew I moved on up to Tryweryn.

There, once a farmer and his aggressive dog had passed, I had the place to myself. I just stood there for a while, thinking of Capel Celyn beneath the water, and how that hamlet’s fate has played such a pivotal role in Welsh politics and Welsh history. It’s certainly what ‘swung’ me.

Llyn Tryweryn. Click to enlarge

I got back in the car and started driving back down to Bala, but then, on impulse, I pulled into the National White Water Centre, on Afon Tryweryn, not far below the reservoir.

It’s called the National White Water Centre but it’s not the Welsh National White Water Centre, where you’d expect school parties of Welsh children to be trained in kayaking and associated sports. In fact, it’s just a commercial venture that for some reason was receiving ‘Welsh Government’ funding through Sport Wales. In 2014/2015 this generosity reached £378,000.

As you might have guessed by now, I’ve written about this place before. Back in January 2015 with, White Water up Shit Creek, which was followed up with Canoe Wales 2 and Canoe Wales 3.

So I suppose today’s visit was kind of checking on how things are going. And the answer would appear to be, not well. Not well at all.

I walked into a large empty foyer area, with an unmanned desk on my left, and on my right something advertised as ‘Manon’s cafe’. If she exists, Manon wasn’t there, for I was served my coffee by some young guy with a rather curious coiffure.

As it was such a nice day I took my coffee outside, to get a view of the advertised white water. And then I saw it!

Nothing less than an image of Bore Grylls; action hero, piss-drinker, insect muncher, and erstwhile business associate of Gavin Woodhouse at the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

A rarity indeed, this. For as we know the great man shies away from publicity.

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Not far away was another sign, this one advertising Adventure Weekends by Adventure North Wales. (The operative word here is clearly ‘Adventure’.) So who or what is Adventure North Wales?

Well, the head office is in West Molesey. But not the West Molesey you’re thinking of, between Efenechtyd and Clocaenog; no, this one is in Surrey. Which probably explains why the website is entirely in English. (As is the website for the National White Water Centre.)

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(I really must check if Adventure North Wales gets any funding from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.)

Coffee still in hand, I moseyed on a bit further and was confronted by signs for a brand of ice cream with which I was unfamiliar. Not that I eat much of the stuff myself, you understand, but being a grandfather . . .

Marshfield Farm?’ I thought, ‘Where the hell is that?’ To save you looking, it’s in Wiltshire.

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I went back inside the main building. The cafe was now locked, the foyer was still empty, and the desk still unmanned. I had the place to myself. So I looked around at the signs and advertisements and then it struck me – here we are, just a couple of miles from Bala, yet everything is in English.

In fact, this place might as well be in England. And I suppose it would be, if England had more rivers where the flow could be controlled by a dam. And a political class that models itself on Uriah Heep. (The Dickens character, not the rock band.)

What this means is that not only did we lose Capel Celyn when the reservoir was built, but we also gained the National White Water Centre for England. Insult added to injury.

The National White Water Centre is an alien presence in Wales. Which I suppose sums up tourism in general. In Wales, but not of Wales.

And yet, this imposition and others like it are collectively lauded as ‘Welsh Tourism’; with politicians and other forms of low life telling us that they generate billions of pounds and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Bollocks!

There’s nothing Welsh about it – not even the fucking ice cream is Welsh!

How does tourism like this benefit Wales? What does allowing strangers to treat our country in this way say about us as a nation?

In the space of just over an hour I experienced conflicting emotions. First, I was paying homage to the men of ’16; then I was remembering my own political awakening in the 1960s; before, finally, being confronted with the ugly reality of ‘Playground Wales’.

As I drove back to Dolgellau I thought about the comparative positions of Ireland and Wales today.

The former is prosperous, confident, and about to be reunited. But if the ‘Welsh’ tourism industry is any guide, then Wales is drifting towards oblivion.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 02.03.2020

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

I know I promised a piece on Wales & West Housing, but I’ve put that on the back burner because something has cropped up. And anyway, W&W is not going away. (Unfortunately.) So that will be my next post.

PLAID CYMRU KEEPS ON DIGGING

The previous post on this blog, Plaid Cymru’s new girl, was about Sonia Klein who, just a few months ago, was trying to be the Labour candidate for Ilford South in December’s general election. So she and her husband must have surprised many people with their decision to join Plaid Cymru.

Inevitably, Ms Klein was welcomed into Plaid Cymru by Leanne Wood.

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I say, ‘inevitably’, because Ms Klein ticks so many boxes for Plaid Cymru. She is a ‘strong woman’, she is BAME, and she is also a socialist.

Just a few days later it leaked out that Plaid Cymru had re-admitted Sahar Al-Faifi, who had also been welcomed into the Party by Leanne Wood. Ms Al-Faifi ticks the same boxes as Ms Klein.

There had been an outcry to Al-Faifi’s remarks about a number of incidents, including the London Bridge attacks, which led to Plaid Cymru – reluctantly – suspending her last November. But her suspension was brief, and she has been re-admitted and is hoping to stand for the Assembly.

Now members of the Jewish community have urged Plaid Cymru to rethink its position on Sahar Al-Faifi, but Plaid has responded by adopting the, ‘It was all a long time ago’ defence. Which is not going to work.

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Plaid Cymru is in this mess of its own making because despite Adam Price’s victory in the 2018 leadership contest, a contest in which Leanne Wood came a dismal third, it is still Wood’s supporters calling the shots in the party. So keep looking to the skies for more parachutists.

A number of long-time Plaid Cymru members who thought they were the agreed regional candidate for the 2021 election might be in for a nasty shock. Those who aren’t outed as fascist transphobes and closet Trump fans might be displaced by bearded ‘Olga’, formerly of the Bulgarian Workers and Peasants Alliance.

A very strong woman!

BRYN LLYS BACH

I’ve written a few times about the criminal gang who’ve taken over this site at Nebo, near Caernarfon.

Anyone wanting to catch up should go to this post from November, 2018, and the section ‘Rockin’ to the right’. Then, on to this post from January last year and scroll down to the section headed ‘Shane Baker “the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo” and Jonathan Duggan’.

That was followed by this post in July, scroll down to the section ‘Planners’. Next, this post from August, under ‘Gwynedd Planners’. The gang also gets a mention here, in December, in ‘Bryn Llys’. Finally here, last month, also under ‘Bryn Llys’.

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Not satisfied with exceeding planning permission to build an ‘extension’ that soon dwarfed the old house (which was then demolished), or with destroying trees and hedgerows, while continually threatening neighbours and trying to steal land, the gang has now gone a step further with arson and wasting police and fire brigade time.

Last Tuesday someone set an old Land Rover afire at Bryn Llys. It is reported that one of the gang, posing as a ‘passer-by’, phoned the fire service. A large machine was sent which could not negotiate the narrow track to Bryn Llys.

Which was the whole point of this act of arson, done in the hope of establishing that the access to Bryn Llys should be widened. Which would allow the crooks there to use large vehicles to bring in machinery and materials so they can move on to their plans for the rest of the site.

(I’m told that the chief fire officer from Caernarfon inspected the site some two years ago and stated that a ‘narrow access vehicle’ would attend any emergency at Bryn Llys. Maybe the word hadn’t been passed down the chain of command.)

The fire re-started on Wednesday and two fire engines and a police car attended.

I have been sent some images which are available below.

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Following these incidents a concerned local wrote to Plaid Cymru-controlled Gwynedd County Council, which has been reluctant to get involved throughout this sorry saga.

The council’s response said:

‘Thank you for your emails of the 25 and 26 February 2020 in respect of the above.

I acknowledge your concerns regarding vehicle fires at this site and note that these matters are being dealt with by the Fire Service as well as the Police.

Furthermore,  I would advise that the issue of illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales.

From the Council’s perspective, we have taken formal planning enforcement action with the service of enforcement notices for the various breaches of planning control at this site.  The Enforcement Notices relate to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, the temporary residential building and the unauthorised engineering works to create a track at the property.

The Council is currently undertaking prosecution proceedings for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, with the trial set for the 10 and 11 March 2020 in the Magistrates’ Courts, Llandudno. Furthermore, we are also considering further possible enforcement action for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the temporary residential building.

With regards to the Enforcement Notice for the unauthorised access track works, an appeal against this notice has recently been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (Welsh Government). There is a prescribed procedure for planning enforcement appeals, which includes public consultation and there will therefore be an opportunity for you and any other interested parties to provide representations as part of this process which will commence shortly.

From the Council’s perspective, I consider that we are taking the appropriate enforcement action in accordance with what the legislation allows us to do in respect of breaches of planning control.’

I’m not sure what to make of this. I suppose it’s reassuring to know that these crooks will be in court in a week or so, but there’s no mention of action for exceeding planning permission with the monstrosity that’s been built, nor for demolishing the old house.

Also reassuring, I suppose, to read that the police are involved regarding the fire, but then we read, ” . . . illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales”. 

‘Illegal disposal’, be buggered! This was a calculated act of arson that could have had serious consequences. It certainly resulted in the police and the fire service having to attend – twice! – when I’m sure there were other things they could have been doing.

And now we learn that the Planning Inspectorate is involved. A body that almost always works against Welsh interests (hand-in-glove with a complaisant ‘Welsh Government’). Whether it’s demanding new houses in Wrecsam for Cheshire commuters, or overruling Swansea council to allow more HMOs.

Given the record of the Planning Inspectorate in Wales, we can assume that it will side with the English criminals at Bryn Llys.

So who exactly are they?

Ensconced at or near Bryn Llys we find Jonathan James Duggan, Shane Baker and Aaron Hill. Duggan’s father is a ‘professional fraudster’ who was jailed for six years in July, 2006. He’s back in prison after being tracked down on Ynys Môn a while back. Bryn Llys was raided around the same time.

Baker is said to be related to Duggan, and it was him who got me interested in Bryn Llys by responding to a tweet of mine. When Baker’s not fooling himself about his musical abilities he’s mumbling ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’ in crowd scenes.

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Politically, as the Twitter image suggests, Baker’s very much a BritNat, and a Tommy Robinson fan, who may regard Wales as a colony to be exploited by the insular branch of the herrenvolk.

It’s difficult to know where and how Aaron Hill fits, but he certainly made no effort to fit in with the locals when he lived in Caernarfon. Hill’s a property developer, a species far too prevalent in Wales.

What a trio. The fraudster son of a professional fraudster, a Little Englander, and a property developer with a persecution complex. Though there’s one other gang member worth mentioning.

Andrew Battye owns Bryn Llys, and the land adjoining. Or rather, that’s what it says on the Land Registry title documents I’ve just linked to. And it’s what I used to believe, but I’m no longer so sure.

Refer back to the 2006 conviction of Duggan senior and we see that he owed at least £547,000, gained by fraud. This is the Duggan family business model.

Because if we look at the Companies House records for Battye and Duggan in recent years we see the same pattern. (Available here in pdf format with working links to Companies House entries.)

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From what I can see, Duggan and Battye, either acting together or working alone, formed double glazing companies, these companies set up credit accounts with suppliers; goods were received, not paid for, and sold; then the companies folded.

However we got here, this farce has been allowed to run for long enough. Let’s hope the curtain starts coming down in Llandudno magistrates court next week. And then it would be nice to see GogPlod take it beyond planning matters to feel a few collars for fraud, arson, wasting police and fire service time, threatening neighbours, damaging hedgerows, felling mature trees, etc.

Things have got this far due to the inaction over recent years of the local planning department. The planning department that said a teacher couldn’t build a home when she couldn’t afford to buy in Wilmslow-sur-Mer (Abersoch). The planning department that has allowed criminals from England to do whatever they liked at Bryn Llys. That this planning department has moved at all is due to pressure from bullied neighbours demanding action.

‘WOODMAN, SPARE THAT TREE!’

The recent floods have inevitably been attributed to global warming or climate change by most of the mainstream media and all the bien pensants of the left. Being the heretic I am on such matters I dared posit an alternative view.

Which runs thus . . . yes, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past few weeks but might wind turbines be contributing to the serious flooding in places that have previously been less badly affected?

Two areas in particular brought these thoughts to mind, our Valleys and the areas in England close to the River Severn.

Because – and you can call me old-fashioned, or even uninformed – I’m suggesting that we cannot fell millions of trees on our hills, wreck absorbent peat bogs, then, in their place, plonk dozens or hundreds of wind turbines, and not expect more rainwater to run into the rivers below those hills.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, the picture below shows the size of the concrete bowl required by a single wind turbine. These are the pictures you’re not supposed to see. You, Dai Public, are expected to feel a warm, planet-saving glow from seeing gently turning turbines on some distant crest.

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And remember! each turbine is linked by an access road, giving a network of such roads on a wind farm. And each turbine has to be connected to the grid, which requires another network, this time of trenches.

So what was once a hillside covered in moss and peat absorbing rainwater, and trees sequestering CO2, has been destroyed to make an industrial site off which the water runs into the valleys below. And this has all been done in the name of the environment, of ‘saving the planet’!

A old mate of mine back home – a known trouble-maker – decided to find out how many trees had been cut to make way for wind turbines, and so he submitted an FoI to Natural Resources Wales. The response was startling. (It can be read in full here.)

Here’s an abstract.

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First, bear in mind that NRW can only tell us what trees were felled on land for which it is responsible, the former Forestry Commission estate, which only accounts for 40% of Wales’ woodland. Yet it still comes to over 2.5 million trees felled. Three-quarters of a million of them for the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, owned by Swedish company Vattenfall, which towers over a number of Valleys communities

You’ll see that NRW has nothing to say for Powys, which has seen so much wind farm development in recent years. This is because the woodlands there are privately owned. And yet, the Severn rises on Pumlumon, not far from the Cefn Croes wind farm (owned by an Italian company), and then it runs through Newtown and Welshpool to join the Vyrnwy and cross the border just a bun throw from Elsie’s Vintage Tea Room & Pie Parlour.

So the Powys wind farms must put a great deal of extra water into the Severn. And this almost certainly contributed something to the recent severe flooding downstream in towns such as Ironbridge.

And now we hear of yet another major development of 22 turbines planned for Powys, this one by French company EDF, at Garn Fach, between the A470 and the A483. I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘Welsh Government’ handle this one.

The project has, predictably, been welcomed by Rhys Wyn Jones of  RenewableUK Cymru. (Cos that’s his job!) But this article, quoting local politicians, hints at mounting opposition to the ongoing exploitation of the local landscape.

And what does the Woodland Trust have to say – will it allow EDF to chop down its trees at Garn Fach? Perhaps Woodland Trust is one of the landowners to benefit if this project goes ahead?

It seems to me that the eco-zealots need to pause, and do some hard thinking.

On the one hand they urge us to plant trees – even proposing to throw Welsh farmers off their land – because this would be good for the environment.

But it’s OK to fell millions of trees in Wales to make way for wind turbines . . . which almost certainly contribute to flooding. Flooding that will then be blamed on global warming/climate change, so the eco-zealots will insist on erecting more wind turbines . . . for which more trees will be felled and more peat bog lost . . . resulting in more flooding . . . .

I may not be 100% right on this, I rarely am, but I will say this with confidence: when it comes to the recent floods, then wind turbines are the elephant in the room.

CROSSBOW MURDER

I’m sure that many of you have been following this case on Ynys Môn. I certainly have. If you’re new to the case, then read this article from Saturday’s Wasting Mule.

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There was never any doubt that Terence Whall was guilty and that he was going down for life. The real questions remain:

  • What was the motive for Terence Whall killing Gerald Corrigan?
  • What is Whall’s background in East London/Essex and what brought him to Ynys Môn?
  • What was the true role of Whall’s associates, the locals, in this case?
  • Is this murder just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as has been suggested to me?
  • Is this conviction the end of the case as far as North Wales Police is concerned?

If we had a functioning media we could rely on it to chase down the facts, the background to this murder, but we don’t have a media.

If we did, they might wonder why Gerald Corrigan’s children needed to give evidence from behind a screen protecting their identities. The man who killed their father is going down for at least 31 years, so who are they afraid of? Or from whom do the police think they need to be protected?

The last time I remember evidence being given from behind a screen in a Welsh courtroom was in the early 1990s, and then it was MI5 operatives in a trial of Welsh nationalists accused of sending letter bombs.

If anyone wants to send me information relating to this case then they are welcome to do so. I promise not to divulge any source.

END OF FARMING?

Another subject I’ve written about more than once is the plan to gradually remove farmers from the land so that George Monbiot and his friends can take over the Welsh countryside with their ‘rewilding’ projects. (Just type ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box at the top of the sidebar.)

The colonialist arrogance displayed by those involved with the Summit to Sea project generated a very hostile response from farmers and others, which in turn led to funders pulling out.

But this respite might be short-lived if recent reports are to be believed.

We always knew that Monbiot and his gang had the backing of the ‘Welsh Government’ which, being Labour, hates country-dwellers in general, and farmers in particular, believing that rural Wales should accept its designated fate as a recreation and retirement area for England.

Now it appears that they have support much higher up the political food chain. This article’s heading says it all: ‘War of the wild: How trendy metropolitan eco-zealots with close ties to Boris Johnson are set on driving out traditional farming and ‘rewilding’ the land’.

And in case anyone didn’t get the message, it was soon followed up with this . . .

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Yes, I know, the left and the eco-zealots will say, ‘Ah! but it’s the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday’. To which I would respond – Grow up! If the facts hold up it doesn’t matter if the story originated in Völkischer Beobachter or the Plovdiv Marrow Growers Weekly.

The Mail titles are most definitely Conservative-supporting papers, which I suggest adds to their credibility in this instance.

Some of the arguments put forward in support of doing away with farming are quite hilarious. One ‘expert’ cites Singapore, arguing that it is prosperous without a farming sector. But Singapore is a bloody city-state of just 725.7 square kilometres and almost six million people. (Wales is 20,735 square kilometres and 3.2 million people.)

And then we read “Ben Goldsmith, for his part, caused fury among farmers this week by tweeting that ‘overgrazing’ by upland sheep farmers — rather than near-record rainfall — was responsible for the devastating floods suffered in South Wales.”

Ben Goldsmith is the brother of Zac Goldsmith, a big mate of Boris Johnson. Zac Goldsmith is also an environment minister.

Read who else is involved and a picture might emerge.

If farming is phased out it will be small farmers, and the family farm, that disappear. Big landowners will thrive, snapping up the farms made unviable by the decisions made by their friends and relatives in the government.

And of course we’ll see more wind turbines and other idiocies cheered on by the eco-zealots – but making fortunes in government subsidies for the very same people who’ll benefit from the destruction of Welsh farming.

Think about it, we have here what at first sight might appear to be two distinct groups – the environmentalists and the Conservative grandees. Surely, they should be on opposite sides? No.

If there’s money to be made then these members of the English upper-middle class, who know each other from school and university, Wimbledon and Henley; who move and marry within the same circles, will stick together.

The external enemies remain the same, and there’s not much we can do but resist them. But we can certainly remove the toadies in Corruption Bay who are so ready to do their masters’ bidding.

♦ end ♦

 

Plaid Cymru’s new girl

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

I was already late with the weekly offering, and getting bogged down with what I was working on – but then Plaid Cymru came to my rescue!

So here’s a little something to keep you going while I do a bit more digging into the labyrinthine workings of Wales & West Housing.

PLAID CYMRU, THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

I rose late yesterday, and after firing up the trusty old desktop I found a Twitter DM from a regular source telling of a new recruit to Plaid Cymru. Not only that, but the source also provided a tweet from Ms Leanne Wood.

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I’m sure that not all new members get such a welcome from the former leader of the party . . . though then again, how many recruits is Plaid pulling in these days?

Anyway, accompanying the pic of Leanne Wood and Sonia Klein was another image, this one from the Ilford Recorder of August last year. It told us that Ms Klein was hoping to become the Labour Party candidate for Ilford South. Here’s a link to the article.

Though I found the photograph the Recorder used a little disconcerting. Here we have a family group, wholesome and clean-shaven, all dressed in light clothing with the sun shining down on them. It reminded me of an image from one of those leaflets I politely decline when they’re proffered by earnest young missionaries.

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And now, it appears, the Kleins have moved from one cult to another. Or am I being cynical? Moi!

Anyway, I thought this information merited a wider audience and so I put out a tweet. I was then contacted by Brychan Davies, a regular contributor to my blog, with further information on Sonia Klein.

THE WOMAN FROM GOD KNOWS WHERE (APOLOGIES TO FLORENCE WILSON)

A later issue of the Ilford Recorder, from September last year, tells us that Sonia Klein, “Grew up in Ilford South and also ran a business in the area. Lives in Wales.”

She wasn’t selected to be the Labour candidate in the December general election, that honour fell to the Momentum candidate, Sam Tarry, who was duly elected in this job-for-life Labour seat.

Brychan also found her Linkedin profile which tells that Sonia Klein has spent some time in the USA, where she got involved with the Democratic Party (natch). This source also suggests she’s a strategic advisor for CMS Global, but with no link provided, and a number of companies sharing that name, it’s difficult to know what this means.

With a complete absence of links on her Linkedin profile it’s impossible to verify the connections claimed. And though a link is provided for CMS Global on her Facebook page . . . it goes nowhere.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that Ms Klein should not be believed, but perhaps she sometimes gets confused.

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For example, you’ll recall that we read in the Ilford Recorder that Sonia Klein grew up in Ilford South, yet I remember as if it was yesterday reading in Left Foot Forward (of February 2013) that she claimed to have been, “Born in Tower Hamlets and raised in Newham”.

No doubt, if she ever runs for office in Swansea she’ll claim to have been “born in the cowin’ Hafod, like”.

Going back to the Facebook page for a moment, we read that Sonia Klein works at Welsh Rowing. But doing what, exactly?

Just beneath that entry we learn that Sonia Klein worked at Swansea University’s ill-starred School of Management. If that rings the old ding-dongs then it’s because the School of Management has attracted a great deal of publicity in recent years. Just think of sackings at the University, Mark James’ Wellness Village in a Llanelli swamp, strange deals with Gulf states, and Plod getting involved.

If you’re having trouble remembering the case, just read this.

So I can well understand why the Swansea University School of Management gig does not appear on Sonia Klein’s Linkedin profile. But the link cannot be denied.

For I turned up this Labour CND conference document from 2018 which describes Sonia Klein as you see below. It tells us she was advising the School of Management at the very time the plans were being hatched that ended a number of careers. Fancy that!

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And her presence in Swansea is corroborated with this information from Skwawkbox, of October 2018:

“Sonia Klein has been chosen by Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) as the new candidate for its left slate in the elections for additional members of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC), the party’s senior disciplinary body.

Ms Klein, who was initially proposed by Labour CND, is a Labour member in the Welsh constituency of Gower.”

While this picture from the Mayoral Parlour in Haverfordwest describes Sonia Klein as “Advisor to the Dean of Swansea School of Management”. The Dean was of course Marc Clement.

Perhaps she was in the Mayor’s Parlour on the same trip she made to fight racism in Pembrokeshire, as reported here in Socialist Worker.

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This is one of the reasons I detest socialism and socialists. To begin with, and despite that photograph being taken in Wales, I would be surprised if there are more than two or three Welsh people in that whole group.

What we see there is a crew of blinkered ideologues, obsessed with an ‘ishoo’ they have brought with them from England, and insulting us by insinuating that this problem is widespread in Wales. And in Pembrokeshire of all places!

Bastards! Any self-respecting country would direct them to the border.

Yet it would appear that these are the kind of people that Plaid Cymru’s new recruit feels comfortable with. Which makes perfect sense.

For Plaid Cymru has abandoned Wales and Welsh issues to latch on to idiocies hatched in the alternative universe of US campuses and brought into Wales by the kind of clowns we see in that picture from Haverfordwest.

THINKS . . .

Now if I was a member of Plaid Cymru (and I was once!) I’d be asking a few questions:

  • Who or what is CMS Global?
  • When did Sonia Klein resign from the Labour Party?
  • Why did Sonia Klein resign from the Labour Party?
  • What advice did she give to Marc Clement and Swansea University’s School of Management?
  • Has Sonia Klein been interviewed by the police in connection with the ongoing investigations relating to the School of Management and associated parties?
  • Is she advising Mark James?
  • Does Sonia Klein live in Wales?
  • Why has she joined Plaid Cymru?

I know Plaid Cymru has a thing for ‘strong women’ (and is very elastic in its application of the term ‘women’) but I can’t help thinking that a mistake has been made here.

Perhaps both sides should reconsider.

But then again, Plaid Cymru has recruited a woman who just a few months ago was fighting to become a Labour Party parliamentary candidate and, what’s more, she was an advisor to Marc Clement at Swansea University’s School of Management.

What a coup! What could possibly go wrong?

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 17.02.2020

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

A bit of a mixed bag this week; the unifying thread being the stupidity of those puffed-up buffoons down Cardiff docks who want to be seen as the ‘Welsh Government’.

SOCIAL HOUSING, OR IS IT?

To kick off, I am indebted to the meticulous and conscientious Wynne Jones, who is a great source for ‘Welsh Government’ wrongdoing and local cock-ups down Cardigan way. For it’s in the fair town of Aberteifi that we start.

With Cardigan Hospital, which was built and long sustained by the donations and goodwill of people in the town and surrounding area. But now it’s deemed surplus to the requirements of Hywel Dda University Health Board and the building is to be handed over to one of Labour’s favourite housing associations, Wales and West.

Though the lack of openness has not gone down well locally. The sale to Wales and West seems to be a done deal, yet the details are vague in the extreme. When Wynne asked for information on the quoted ‘open market valuation’ the response to his FoI said that it, er, hadn’t actually been done . . . but they were working on it, sort of.

Clearly, this is a deal done behind closed doors in the glorious traditions of the Labour Party. And not for the first time; for since taking over Tai Cantref, of Castell Newydd Emlyn, Wales and West has been flexing its muscles in the area.

And while it may be headquartered in Cardiff Wales and West, fittingly, also has an office in Labour’s last remaining Westminster constituency in the north, at Ewloe on Deeside.

The latest news is that a drop-in session has been organised for the end of this month in which, according to the Tivy-side Advertiser, “The people of Cardigan will be asked for their views on how best to use the site of the former Cardigan Hospital”.

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According to the article W&W is still in talks with Hywel Dda Health Authority over buying the hospital. So if it still owns the hospital why isn’t Hywel Dda organising the public consultation?

All pretence goes out the window later in the article when Wales and West bigwigs explain what they plan to do . . . with the building they haven’t yet bought!

Group CEO Anne Hinchey, the wife of Cardiff Labour councillor Graham Hinchey, makes a contribution. Also quoted is her deputy, Shane Hembrow, who for reasons best known to himself cultivates the look of a villain out of a Victorian melodrama. (Who will rescue poor Nell?)

All joking aside, social housing is now in crisis.

Many will recall the campaigns persuading council house tenants to agree to stock transfers, so that housing associations could take over. Most Welsh councils lost their housing stock in this way to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).

Which gave us dozens of housing associations, spending hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, competing with each other, and swallowing each other up. Having the ear of the Labour Party in this dog-eat-dog environment was always an advantage.

All this was threatened when, towards the end of 2016, the Office for National Statistics dropped a bombshell by announcing that RSLs would in future be classed as public bodies.

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This was bad news all round. For it would have meant that RSLs’ debts would have gone onto the UK Government’s books. Putting them in the public sector might also have resulted in more openness, perhaps making housing associations subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This unwelcome outcome was avoided by fresh legislation in England and the devolved administrations. For Wales, it came in the form of the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018.

Which resulted in RSLs becoming private bodies, but still in receipt of public funding! If they hadn’t already done so then they set up subsidiaries – unregulated offshoots building homes for sale on the open market, often using public money siphoned from the parent company.

The justification for building houses and flats to be sold in this way was that the money made would be transferred to the parent body for it to build more social housing.

It was a lie.

Just think about. If Tai Cwmscwt has a spare £5m why ‘lend’ it to a subsidiary and get back a percentage when it could have spent the whole £5m on social housing. And if there’s no demand for social housing then obviously Tai Cwmscwt is over-funded.

The truth is that very little of the money made by the subsidiaries of privatised RSLs is used to build social housing. Most of it goes back into building more private housing. In rural and coastal areas this housing isn’t even intended to meet a Welsh demand. It’s simple profiteering, building properties to be used as holiday and retirement homes, or sold to ‘investors’.

All of which results in a shortfall in social housing in many areas. Which is why Swansea council has started building council houses again. In the article I’ve linked to you’ll see that “four registered social housing landlords are planning to build 4,000 affordable homes across the county over the next 10 years”.

This is another lie.

‘Affordable’ is a meaningless term used by politicians and others that can cover properties costing £300,000. And as I’ve explained, the now privatised RSLs will be building open market housing not social housing.

Cardiff council also plans to build council houses. Other local authorities are doing the same.

We are obviously at a crossroads in the provision of social housing, by which I mean properties available for local people at rents they can afford.

The biggest asset for many private housing associations, the income from which helps fund the private building spree, is the stock of housing that was transferred from a local authority. (Or in the case of Mid Wales Housing, the Development Board for Rural Wales.)

Should these stock transfers stay with what are now private companies?

Let’s end with a few questions:

  • What is the future role of the now privatised RSLs?
  • Will the ‘Welsh Government’ continue to fund private RSLs?
  • With RSLs concentrating on private developments how does the ‘Welsh Government’ plan to provide an adequate supply of good quality rented social housing at affordable rents?
  • If the rented social housing role is to revert to local authorities, will the ‘Welsh Government’ arrange to return the housing stock lost in stock transfers?

OLD DEFENSIBLE BARRACKS REVISITED

The week before last I published a couple of pieces looking at the purchase of the Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock, which I believe links to similar sites in England and Northern Ireland that have been bought by the same Singapore-based investors.

Read them here: Old Defensible Barracks and Old Defensible Barracks 2.

My view is that the three sites – all close to ferry ports – have been bought in anticipation of the need, with increased border checks, for large areas where lorries and other vehicles can be parked while waiting for those checks to be done.

Since writing the second of those pieces I’ve updated it, and further information has come to light, hence this third piece.

First, after Old Defensible Barracks 2 went out 5 February the Western Mail ran a full-page spread on the 11th. (Here in pdf format.)

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Obviously this article was a press hand-out because when the journalist tried to add a personal touch she located the barracks in Milford Haven not Pembroke Dock.

Since writing those pieces I’ve spoken to one of the previous owners, who had an interesting tale to tell.

The barracks went up for auction last summer with Allsop. A few parties showed interest but no sale resulted. Instead, Allsop themselves produced a mystery buyer. Which perhaps explains the ‘Sold after’ caption you see below.

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The vendor had no idea who the buyer was, but the sale went through 22 August and the money was in the bank. You’ll recall that despite the passage of six months since the sale the title document at the Land Registry still showed the previous owners.

So I went back to the Land Registry website on Saturday thinking that the recent attention the barracks had been getting might have jolted the new owners into registering their purchase. But no, for the title document is still in the name of the local owners.

Why this reluctance to tell us who now owns this property?

As I’ve said, the theory that I and a few others have, is that the barracks themselves are simply a ‘lever’ to something else, probably land nearby that could serve as a lorry park. But then, last week, another possibility was thrown into the mix – that the Milford Haven Waterway is destined to host one of the promised freeports.

Either option makes sense, and ties in with the Singapore investors at the three sites we looked at in the earlier pieces. For not only is Singapore home to many Asian ferry companies it is also the biggest freeport in the world.

In addition to the investors who are probably native to Singapore we found Trevor Iain Walker, said to be resident there. Whether he is or not is a moot point, Companies House just accepts what it’s told.

Then, comments to the earlier pieces directed me to a US site where we encounter Walker again. And it’s definitely him.

In addition to the UK listed companies there are two more, both registered in Florida. Muniment LLC shares its name with a number of Walkers’s UK companies. The other company, Audica Properties LLC, seems to have been started by Walker in 2014 and then, last year, he was joined by Robin Lim Siew Cheong, who could be another Singaporean investor.

Cheong also has his own US company in Robindra Properties LLC, formed last year.

The picture in Pembroke Dock isn’t clear yet, but these Singapore investors haven’t rocked up to enjoy the view of Neyland. Something is planned for the Dock and it links with Brexit. I suggest it’s either a lorry park or a freeport. Maybe both.

Watch this space!

∼♦∼

THE GREEN ENERGY RIP-OFF

Because of my slant on certain issues some people think I’m opposed to renewable energy, or that I’m a climate change denier. The truth is that I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy – as long as it’s reliable and reasonably cheap; and I’m more of a sceptic than a denier when it comes to climate change.

But I am unequivocal in my hostility to charlatans and shysters, crooks and con men, who come to Wales to rip us off.

Recent examples of the Green energy rip-off you would have found on this blog were the wind turbines at Bryn Blaen that haven’t turned in two years (but still make money for the hedge fund that owns them), and the English-owned, Czech-built hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn that has offered locals a derisory £1,000 a year in ‘community benefit’.

Rhandirmwyn hydro scheme. Click to enlarge

I suppose the basic problem is that Wales has many rivers and streams suitable for hydro projects, and countless hills that will attract those who erect wind turbines. Even so, these natural assets need not lead to us being exploited.

The exploitation happens because virtue-signalling politicians are desperate to show the world that little Wales is playing its part in saving the planet.

It is this desperation to get a pat on the head that opens the gates to the shysters.

HOLYHEAD DEEP

Our next report takes up the coast from Pembroke Dock to another ferry port, at Holyhead, where a northern source suggests I take a look at a company in receipt of mucho dinero from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.

The company in question is Minesto, a Swedish company hoping to generate electricity from underwater ‘kites’. Here’s the company website.

There we read:

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Certainly, the company has a presence in Sweden, because that’s where it’s based. Obviously, I can’t speak for Taiwan.

In Ireland the company’s existence was brief, perhaps no more than a separate listing for the company registered in England and Wales. And yet, according to the Minesto website and other sources the project at Strangford Lough is still running, so how is it being funded?

The sole director of Minesto UK Ltd is Martin Johan Edlund, with Goodwille Ltd serving as secretary. Goodwille takes its name from director George Alexander James Goodwille. The Swedish connection is maintained at Goodwille by director Svante Lennart Stensson Adde.

Before getting into the figures I’d just like to explore the linkages behind Minesto.

Let’s go back to the ‘About us’ panel above. It says that Minesto was founded in 2007 as a spin-off from Saab. That may have been what happened in Sweden, but Minesto UK Ltd was born in June 2008 when Keyrad Ltd, a company formed in 1996, changed its name.

The panel also says, “Main owners are BGA Invest and Midroc New Technology. The Minesto share is listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market in Stockholm.” Telling us that Minesto is wholly owned back in Sweden.

The Midroc link also suggests the underwater kite system belongs to that company.

If we go back to the Minesto website and the Projects tab, there we find Holyhead Deep, the name of Minesto’s Welsh venture. (There’s also a dormant company called Holyhead Deep Ltd, at the same Holyhead address, with the same Martin Edlund as the sole director.)

This website page explains why Minesto came to Wales: “Numerous locations around the UK were considered, but Wales was selected as the preferred option due to the highly suitable environmental conditions and government commitment to marine renewable energy, which offers significant opportunities to attract support and investment into the Holyhead project.”

To cut through the bullshit – the attraction was gullible politicians and easy money. With the panel below making clear that it’s already up to €27.9m.

A total of 27.9m Euros. Click to enlarge.

The extract below from the latest accounts would appear to show that Minesto UK Ltd is entirely dependent on ‘Welsh Government’ funding. I’m surprised there’s no money coming from Sweden. Because I guarantee that – as with Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in the south – any profits will speed their way back to Sweden.

Click to enlarge

So here’s the question – does this investment provide tangible benefits for Ynys Môn and for Wales, or are our politicians paying, yet again, to have their egos massaged and their planet-saving credentials burnished?

  • With £23m+ handed over or promised, how many jobs have been created for local, Welsh people?
  • Given that the owners of Minesto UK Ltd are Swedish, and the patent for the technology is held by a Swedish company, what benefits will accrue to Wales if the technology proves successful?
  • And if it fails, the Swedes walk away without having lost anything while Wales is £23m+ out of pocket.
  • Is funding from Wales being diverted to the Minesto project in Northern Ireland?
  • Are there no better ways to have used £23m+ on Ynys Môn for the benefit of local communities?

UPDATE: My attention has been drawn to one of the logos at the foot of the Minesto website, the one for Horizon 2020  “. . . the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract.”

So where is the ‘private investment’ in Minesto UK Ltd? Is Welsh EU funding being used in place of the private money?

LAST WORD

As I said earlier, I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy schemes, but they must be of benefit to Wales. But unfortunately they rarely are. Worse, much of what we experience could be viewed as colonialism for the 21st century.

Think of the massive wind farms such as Pen y Cymoedd (or the hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn) and the pittances offered to locals in compensation. It reminds me of Europeans in Africa or the Americas giving beads to ‘primitives’ in return for their assets or their land. Now we Welsh are the exploited primitives.

Yet we are supposed to welcome it because we’re saving the planet!

Those clowns in Corruption Bay, and their Westminster allies, who sold us short on water, and HS2, who talk Wales down and short-change us at every opportunity, must learn that people get angry when they see money squandered on virtue signalling.

I have a feeling they’ll be getting the message loud and clear in next year’s Assembly elections.

 ♦ end ♦