I had considered making up a table of the companies with which the Gruesome Twosome are or have been involved, but there are just too many. Another problem is that they’ve also been involved in companies where they were not shown as directors on the Companies House website.
UPDATE 14.07.2022: What the hell! I trawled the Companies House website and found 57 companies one or both of them has been involved with. Here’s the list, most recent at the top, each name is a hyperlink that will take you to the relevant CH entry.
To explain what I mean by that suggestion of the ‘hidden hand’, let’s look at a care home in Newport, which got a mention in the earlier post and then an update.
The two registered directors of Dreams Care Homes are Bishwa Tara Ghimire and Basanta Nepal. Both were aboard 3 December, 2021 when the company was launched.
Nepal joined the Danygraig Company 17 May, 2022, and Ghimire followed on June 6, the very day of the DBW loans. Nepal is said to control the company. The DBW loan relates to this company also.
Even though there’s no mention of Raqia Bibi and Mohanananthan Kuhananthan I suggest that the ‘(RB)’ in Dreams Care Homes (RB) Ltd is a bit of a giveaway.
So where might Kuhananthan have gone after ostensibly severing ties with the Newport home? Well, I was as surprised as you’re going be, to learn that in June 24, 2021, the imaginative Mr Kuhananthan launched MK Global Movie Production Ltd.
Like most of his companies, this venture is already heading for the rocks. And yet, what I found fascinating was that there was an initial issue of 1000 x £1,000 shares. Which works out at exactly £1,000,000!
I’m not for one minute suggesting it’s the same money, but just weeks after the Development Bank of Wales slipped the readies to the care home in Newport – where he’d been a director – our boy set up a new company with capital of one million pounds.
A company that I guarantee is planned to fold as soon as is decently possible. Which will effectively write off £1,000,000.
And look at the address for this imaginative departure from granny farming – ‘RB Management Consultancy, 1 Bromley Lane, Chislehurst Business Centre, Chislehurst, England, BR7 6LH’.
Again, I suggest we can all guess what the ‘RB’ stands for.
The company providing that accommodation address is otherwise known as RBMC Global Ltd, set up by Raqia Bibi in February 2017. She was joined by Kuhananthan in April 2021. Though you have to wonder why he bothered, seeing as RBMC Global files as a dormant company.
Which means that Kuhananthan joined a dormant company just two months before he decided to become a movie mogul. (Was he inspired by The Producers?)
On the very same day as RMBC Global was launched, another Bibi-Kuhananthan epic was unleashed on an unsuspecting world. This being RB Care Homes Ltd. Which is also filing as dormant.
Those who bought the leases have formed a group, The RB Action Group(?), claiming £2,074,984.
If it was done at one care home, then it’s reasonable to assume that Kuhananthan and Bibi were pulling the same stunt at their other homes. In fact, the report I’ve linked to talks of ‘associated companies’.
Questions need be asked as to how ‘Welsh Government, Care Inspectorate Wales, and local authorities, allowed these shysters to operate for so long.
Which fits with the curious arrangements I mentioned in the previous post, in which the company supposedly owning a business or property is, effectively, dormant, while an unknown entity actually owns the building and runs the business.
In the recent case in Pontypridd, the company mentioned as running things is RB Care Homes Ltd, which produced the brochure yet, as you’ve just read, files as a dormant company, and has nothing in the way of assets other than £1,000 in the bank.
The property was in fact owned by Nant-y-Gaer Ltd (the former name of the home). Bibi was a director there at the death, but Kuhananthan had departed in October 2015.
Finally, there was also Nant-y-Gaer Hall Ltd, wound-up in March 2020, Bibi ceased to be a director 15 July, 2019, Kuhananthan 21 April 2017.
Yet the June 2019 report in the Leader says the home was run by Raqia Bibi and Mohanananthan Kuhananthan. But in June 2019 Kuhananthan was not a director of any of the three connected companies.
His involvement was limited to Nant-y-Gaer Hall Ltd where, after ceasing to be a director in April 2017, he remained in control until the bad publicity of June 2019 may have forced him out 18 July, 2019.
Were the council and Care Inspectorate Wales even aware of Nant-y-Gaer Hall Ltd?
Which, by a roundabout route, brings us back to RBMC Global and RB Care Homes, and the same questions – if both have been filing as dormant, who’s running the show, and what happened to the money attracted by that ‘imaginative’ sales brochure?
Bibi and Kuhananthan dabbling in the lease / buy-a-room business was not of itself illegal, but it offers great scope for criminality, including money laundering.
I referred earlier to this being an MO we had encountered before, and indeed we have. Just think back to Gavin Lee Woodhouse, of Northern Powerhouse Developments, the self-styled ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’.
Grand lad, our Gavin . . . apart from being a lyin’, thievin’ little bastard.
Despite it all, not so long ago representatives of the ‘Welsh Government’ were fighting to shake Gavin’s hand. I treasure the image below. But what happened to little Kenny Skates? Did he disappear one moonlit night while dancing in the Flint Ring?
I do so miss him!
Gavin took a great liking to Wales, buying up hotels from Llandudno to Tenby. Then leasing the rooms individually, a kind of timeshare arrangement. You lease a room from Gavin, then you get paid when someone stays in it.
At the time I was writing about Woodhouse I also bought a few of the lease documents from the Land Registry, and my suspicions were raised.
It seemed to me that not all the stated lessees were kosher. There were exotic addresses given that would have been difficult if not impossible for HMRC or anyone else to trace.
Then I remembered that the timeshare business, which is very similar to what we’re discussing here provided golden opportunities for money laundering.
You buy a run-down hotel or apartment block in some Mediterranean locale. Next, you form a timeshare company. Then, you tart up the building, get some glossy brochures printed. Finally, you start selling leases to genuine buyers. But you can also sell the same leases to entirely fictitious buyers and take in money you can’t otherwise account for.
Buy a few hotels and you can defraud any number of people, and launder a hell of a lot of money. The same applies to care homes.
I’m not sure if Gavin Woodhouse went in for retirement homes in Wales, but as the video above makes clear, that was certainly his planned route to riches over the border. But he wasn’t interested in buying existing care homes like Bibi and Kuhananthan – Gavin was going to build new.
Described by a high court judge as ‘thoroughly dishonest’. No shit, Sherlock!
The Wolf of Wharf Street had other plans to bring joy and prosperity to Wales, as we see in the image above of Woodhouse with Labour luminaries.
For he is said to have come up with the idea for the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. He even roped in no less a personality than Bore Grylls. (Who is probably in Ukraine right now stealthily and mercilessly dispatching Russian generals.)
All joking aside, there are so many questions.
How many homes are Raqia Bibi and Mohanananthan Kuhananthan still involved with in Wales, directly or indirectly? How many of them are run on the ‘invest-in-a-room’ model?
Does anyone know? Is anyone asking?
What’s the legal situation if some old dear gets raped, robbed, or dies in an accident in a room where responsibility might be difficult to establish because ownership rests with a shady company in the British Virgin Islands?
Finally, let me suggest that it would be a good idea for ‘Welsh Government’, Care Inspectorate Wales, our councils, to establish exactly who ultimately owns each and every care home, if only to ensure they’re not dealing with shell companies.
As they have been too often in the very recent past.
My intention was to start winding down this blog, spend more time with my wife, grand-children, books, Malbec . . . but things keep cropping up. That said, it’s very unlikely I shall undertake major new investigations. Diolch yn fawr.
This week’s offering is a bit different, but it’s a format with which regulars will be familiar. I’m going to cover a few topics and I’m sure everyone will find something to pique their interest.
It’s a biggie, but broken up into easily digestible – and nutritious! – chunks.
AFAN VALLEY ADVENTURE RESORT
Following last week’s blog piece devoted to the relaunched AVAR project the ‘Welsh’ media played its usual role by allowing those I’d written about to respond. And just like a Taliban press conference, no questions were asked.
The piece below appeared in Llais y Sais on Wednesday. It’s worth a few comments.
According to the article, the project’s funding is coming from ‘Octopus Real Estate’. Oh no it’s not. For this is a one-woman company formed in April to buy a property in Wiltshire.
But which one? And, again, what is the ultimate source of the money?
The Beans on Toast followed up on the same day with this. Also authored by Richard Youle.
In it we read head honcho Martin Bellamy quoted as saying: “I would be very interested in ensuring that local people get the opportunity for employment.”
Which is a very convoluted statement. What the hell is, ‘I would be very interested‘ supposed to mean? Because I would be ‘very interested’ in winning the Lottery. But it ain’t gonna happen.
Then there’s, ‘ensuring that local people get the opportunity for employment’. So does that mean they’ll be allowed to complete an application form – which will then be binned?
Why couldn’t he just say, in a clear and unambiguous way, ‘We shall give locals priority when it comes to recruitment’?
It would be nice to think that local Labour councillors will press Bellamy on this, demand a firm commitment to employing as many locals as possible, and not just in the low-pay jobs. But there’s more chance of me winning the Lottery.
But these plugs for AVAR throw up other questions.
In the Neath Port Talbot Borough Council press release of October 12 we read that the project is now called Wildfox Resort Afan Valley. And there are two Wildfox companies.
'Malcolm Copson who lists previous projects including Dubai's Atlantis the Palm resort and the delivery of Disneyland Paris, is behind the plans in SA1.Mr Copson, who founded and co-runs Hong Kong based company MOI Imagineering, has been advising the tidal lagoon taskforce set up by the Swansea Bay City Region'.
But now, in the past few days, everything seems to have changed as we turn to chapter 3, and new characters, with the £1.7bn Blue Eden project. Said to have one great advantage over its predecessors in that it will not require public funding.
And while what passes for the Welsh media has stressed the involvement of DST Innovations Ltd of Bridgend, RE News makes clear that DST leads ‘an international consortium’. Though quite what ‘leads’ means is unclear.
The new project is explained in this ITV report with a video interview with Tony Miles, the man said to be behind the project. If I sound unconvinced it’s because of the US connection and events last year in West Virginia.
It’s worth mentioning that this project includes a battery factory promising jobs for over 1,000 people. Which lives up to the company’s name in that it uses locally available anthracite coal rather than imported, and expensive, rare earth metals. Explained here.
So what can Companies House tell us about DST Innovations. Well, for a start, it’s based in Bridgend and it was Incorporated in November, 2011.
The latest accounts (to November 30, 2020) show Assets of over £5m, of which only £113,076 is Tangible assets. The remainder being accounted for with shares.
Looking at the distribution of those shares we see that lead director Tony Miles has 183,100, but his holding is dwarfed by the 750,000 of Etive Investments, and the 619,413 of RC3 Inc. So who are these major shareholders in the new Swansea Bay project?
Whatever the company’s status, RC3 of Baton Rouge is definitely more promising due to the presence of a William Wray as president. (Though the RC3 parent company, may be in Delaware.)
Since April last year four long-time directors have left DST Innovations and one new director has joined. The new boy is William Wray III, a US citizen. I think it’s reasonable to assume that William Wray of RC3 is William Wray III.
And is his possibly struck-off company a major shareholder?
Another major US shareholder is Blue Rock Manufacturing LLC, with which DST Innovation entered into a partnership last year in West Virginia. This also seems to be a battery plant using coal.
“The new development is at the forefront of green technology,” Gov. Jim Justice said during a virtual press conference, “using existing organic materials, such as coal, and creating new clean energy storage solutions.”
What struck me about this piece from the Governor’s office last November was mention of the Swansea Bay plant, before most of us here knew about it. Council leader Rob Stewart is even shown in a video call with the WV Governor.
It seems obvious that Swansea council has been involved with DST for at least a year before any public announcement of the new project.
How is this West Virginia battery project progressing? Does anyone know?
As a Jack, I would love to see this venture succeed and create a few thousand jobs in the old home town. But given the two false starts I’m not hanging out the bunting yet.
And I still want to know more about some of those involved. I would expect our politicians and media to be equally inquisitive.
THE ‘SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR’
A regular reader was looking for an eatery in the Vale of Glamorgan and remembered Fredwell, a new place that opened in August, so he went online to check the menu. What he found surprised him.
For the website says the establishment has already received full marks on the food hygiene rating, which is impossible, as it takes a while for the process to be gone through. What was also odd was that the rating was shown in English only. (In Wales, of course, these notices are bilingual.)
The matter was reported to the Food Standards Agency Wales, who had no record of the place, and also to VoG council, who responded with: ‘Thank you for your email. We do not have a record of the business you mention so we will look to ensure that the relevant action is taken. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.’
Naturally, he got to wondering who runs the place.
The answer is that it’s Fredwell Cafe and Restaurant Ltd, Incorporated as recently as the first of this month. The directors are Christopher John Birch, Jak Rhys Bjornstrom, and Kieron Roy Phillips.
I’m going to dismiss Phillips and focus on the other two. For in recent years they’ve been involved with many, many companies. Often under the umbrella of the Birch Group.
(Takes deep breath . . . )
Haus-keeping Ltd. Incorporated April 13, 2019. Still bumbling along with accounts showing assets of a few hundred pounds.
So many companies in such a short space of time is not a good look, especially with so many of them folding without apparently doing anything.
But Christopher John Birch has other irons in the fire, for he’s also in the holiday home business. In fact, when Pembrokeshire County Council recently increased the council tax surcharge for holiday homes the BBC went to him for a quote.
He seems to be saying, ‘Well, yeah, holiday homes are bad for Welsh people, but on the plus side – they bring in people from England’. What planet is this guy from?
Incredibly, as I was writing this, I received an e-mail from another source, telling me that Birch is also making a nuisance of himself in Newport.
My fresh source wrote:
'Do you know of a bloke called Chris Birch? Chris J Birch - Birkenhaus Investments (birchgroup.org.uk)He was in the Mirror after he said he woke up gay when he did a handstand in a rugby match playing as a flanker.His agency has taken over the Boilermakers Club presumably on Dr ---------'s instructions and he stuck a site notice on it before Newport planners turned it down yet again. It is now one of many derelict monuments to Welsh Labour's shameful neglect of this area, which they seem to have completely abandoned to drugs and destitution.Birch is almost certainly getting Welsh government money and claims to have offices in The Shard and Paris.He basically manages properties with huge numbers on AirBnB.'
Here’s an image of the Boilermakers Club in Crindau from Google Street View.
In this report from WalesOnline in May we read that Birch claims to have conducted an opinion poll among local residents which conveniently found they favour his plans to convert the building into a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO).
My source describes this claim as ‘baloney’. No survey was undertaken.
UPDATE 04.11.2021: Vale of Glamorgan council has replied to the complaint:
"I am emailing to update you following your concerns about Fredwell café, Cowbridge. A visit has been made to the premises and I can confirm that the café / restaurant is not yet open and is not trading. Therefore there is no requirement for them to register with our department until at least 28 days before they open. I have noted that on their website they are showing a food hygiene rating of 5 and have requested that this is removed, to which they have agreed."
HOUSES OF MULTIPLE OCCUPATION
A house of (or in) multiple occupation is, as the name suggests, a commercial or domestic property adapted to house a number of tenants in separate units, though perhaps sharing a kitchen and other facilities.
But a HMO can also be a property used by a private landlord, a housing association, or a third sector body, to house those recently released from prison, or perhaps drug and / or alcohol abusers.
A pattern we are familiar with in Wales. The worst example would be Rhyl, where criminals and undesirables from north west England are dumped. A problem now spreading to Colwyn Bay and other towns.
But it’s not confined to the north coast. I have reported on the problems of Tyisha in Llanelli. Again, the problems are largely imported. Then there’s the area from Dyfatty flats down to High Street station in Swansea.
It’s a national problem that could be far less of a problem if the ‘Welsh Government’ and local authorities were in possession of cojones.
Anyway, my source was kind enough to supply photos of notices Birch has recently put up on the old Boilermakers Club.
But this project throws up yet more questions about our ‘serial entrepreneur’.
There is no obvious connection between Birch and the family running Signature Realtors. Has he bought the property but not registered the change of ownership with the Land Registry? Is he acting for the owners? Or what?
Whatever the answer, I suspect that Birch’s plan for the building is to have a HMO housing people the neighbours would rather not have there. Why do I think this?
As you’ve read, Chris Birch recently formed a company with Altaf Hussain. Hussain has worked with a man who has the background and the connections to supply Birch and Bjornstrom with tenants.
That said, my source insists there’s not a hope in hell of Birch getting planning permission from Newport council for the increasingly dilapidated Boilermakers Club. So is he hoping for intervention from another quarter?
Locals are more concerned that the the building will left insecure and get broken into by delinquents who’ll turn it into a crack house.
Even away from the Boilermakers Club there is still plenty to give cause for concern. For I turned up a few other things that make me worry about Birch and Bjornstrom.
For a start, and until quite recently, Jak Rhys Bjornstrom was Jack Rhys Powell. Why the change? Oh, yes, and the name is normally spelt Björnström, Jack.
Then there’s the Birch Group website, which gives as the address, 1 Boulevard Victor, Paris 75015. Impressive. But don’t run away with the idea that this is some plush suite of offices. It’s a building run by the company FlexibleHub.
They probably forward any mail.
And then there’s the unfortunate business of the food hygiene rating . . .
There’s also the mystery of the money, or lack of it. Because I didn’t find any company with which Birch and Bjornstrom / Powell are involved that had any money. So, if they do have money, where is it?
Setting up new companies every week is one thing, being a genuine entrepreneur is something entirely different.
The kindest thing might be to say that in Birch and Bjornstrom / Powell we are dealing with a couple of fantasists. Whether they’re harmless or not is yet to be established.
GWYNEDD’S HOLIDAY HOMES PREMIUM RIP-OFF
Councillor Gruff Williams has been in touch with concerns about the ways in which the Council Tax Premium Fund (CTPF) on holiday homes is being used by Cyngor Gwynedd. The information he sent raises other issues.
Gruff represents the Nefyn ward on the Llŷn peninsula. Llŷn approximates with Dwyfor.
To help you understand the issue it might be best to think of Gwynedd and its total population of 121,874 people as being split into three parts.
Arfon, in the north, is focused on the largest Gwynedd settlements of Bangor and Caernarfon. The 2011 population was 60,573.
Dwyfor contains the settlements of Porthmadog, Pwllheli, and of course Abersoch. Population (2011) 27,725. Arfon and Dwyfor made up the old county of Caernarfonshire. (Which also included areas now in the County Borough of Conwy, such as the towns of Llanrwst, Conwy and Llandudno.)
And then there’s Meirionnydd, the former county of Merioneth(shire), containing Blaenau Ffestiniog, Barmouth, Tywyn, Harlech, and the old county town of Dolgellau. Population (2011) 33,576.
You’ll see that the population of Arfon is almost that of Dwyfor and Meirionnydd combined. And with that comes political clout.
The issue Gruff raises is that most of Gwynedd’s holiday homes are in Dwyfor. Naturally, locals in the area expected that the CTPF money raised would be used to help young people being forced out of their home areas by holiday home buyers, retirees, and others.
But no. For Gwynedd’s Plaid Cymru councillors have other ideas.
This article from the North Wales Chronicle gives a good report of the debate a few weeks back, when Plaid’s councillors thwarted Gruff’s attempt to benefit the areas suffering worst. (Though for some reason Gruff is referred to only as ‘Councillor Williams’, while his famous father, Owain, is named.)
There were some amazing contributions to the debate.
Councillor ‘Cai Larsen stated he had a “fundamental problem” with the issue of spending money only where it was raised’.
Where the money was raised is only part of the issue, Larsen; we also have to ask why it was raised.
‘Cllr Nia Jeffreys said that affordable housing was “an issue which knows no boundaries,”‘
Why is she talking about affordable housing when the issue is holiday homes?
‘Bangor councillor Richard Medwyn Jones added: “There are big issues here with over 2,000 on the city’s waiting list. If we stuck to this same principle I could put a motion forward that Bangor’s money stays in Bangor, but that’s what this is all about.”’
In 2019 Bangor had a population of 18,322, roughly half of them students. I’d like to know how many of the 2,000 on the waiting list have local connections.
When it comes to ‘Bangor’s money’ – by which Cllr Jones presumably means council tax raised – this is largely spent in Bangor. I’m sure the city council, and mayor Owen – Don’t Ask Me About My Genitals – Hurcum see to that.
All unconvincing excuses for Plaid Cymru-controlled Gwynedd council to put the holiday home surcharge money into the central pot and use it in other ways . . . mainly in Arfon.
Let’s look at 4c (page 25), which deals with ‘innovative housing’. All the funding for this, £1.2m, comes from the CTPF. I suppose ‘Innovative housing’ could mean OPDs.
On page 27 we see that £2.5m is coming from the CTPF for ‘Extra care housing for the elderly’. Now I’m not a heartless bugger who wants to see Nain living in a cardboard box, but this should have come from core funding, not from money raised to mitigate the problem of holiday homes.
And there are other examples where Cyngor Gwynedd makes a mockery of the whole reasoning behind the Council Tax Premium Fund.
Another worry is that much of the CTPF money is to be distributed to housing associations. Private companies now that refuse to give priority to locals in social housing allocations. And then build ‘affordable’ homes that locals can’t afford.
But Gruff’s concerns made me think of another problem. Which is that the number of holiday homes in Wales is almost certainly underestimated.
BEATING THE SYSTEM
I recall a source in Pembrokeshire contacting me just before the December 2019 UK general election to say that ‘hordes’ of second home owners had turned up to ensure that the constituency remained Conservative. (The ‘Corbyn factor’.) Clearly, they were registered to vote at their second home.
Then, during the Covid lockdown, when police were stopping cars travelling into Wales, using vehicle registrations to establish home addresses, it became clear that some people had their cars registered at their holiday homes.
Something else that came to light during the Covid lockdown was that others stopped by police were travelling to holiday homes they claimed as their main residence.
This scam normally operates by one of a couple registering at the home address, the other at the holiday home, and pretending that it’s a full-time residence. Not only does this avoid the second home surcharge it even gets a 25% council tax reduction for a single (adult) resident.
I contacted someone who is well-versed in such matters, and he tells me that the facts can be established by cross-referencing. He wrote:
'Databases that should contain the real permanent address:1/ Council Tax – Local authority.2/ Electoral register – Local authority3/ NI, income tax, benefits, married persons allowance – HMRC, central government 4/ Driving licence – DVLA, central government5/ GP – NHS, Welsh Government.It’s not possible to access the NHS record, 5, even for a police officer, without a court warrant, however, if 1 and 2 differs from 3 or 4 then the property is evading second home premium. You will only get cheaper car insurance if 4 matches 1, and students are the only residents where 2 and 3 can differ. Of course, not only are those that ------ ---------- has identified get a polling card, they would also be eligible for free prescriptions, and a bus pass at 60, even though they don’t really live permanently in Wales.3 and 4 is subject to a general data comparison sweep to identify car crime.'
My well-informed source then went on to suggest a simple measure for establishing the facts.
'The first method of detection is to place a FoI request to the council asking for the number of single person discount properties on the books, over the last five years, per ward. It will show up as a surge of such properties when the council tax premium is introduced or raised. This gives an indication of the scale of the problem and which wards are particularly affected. We all have local knowledge that this is the case, but it needs to be quantified. Prosecuting fraud works on evidence, not on anecdote.'
Therefore, I suggest that we all submit FoI requests to our local council asking a) for the number of single-person discounts on their books over recent years, and, b) whether the council checks that those claiming single-person discount are genuine.
I’m sure my countless socialist followers will appreciate the unfairness of prosecuting locals – usually women – when their boyfriend moves in, while some bugger with a new Range Rover parked outside Cartref Mon Repos gets away with the surcharge and pockets a 25% discount!
Regular readers will be familiar with this incredible story of a family of crooks named Duggan that bought a little farmhouse, Bryn Llys, not far from Caernarfon, knocked it down, built a monstrosity they called Snowdon Mountain View, broke all the planning rules, tore up hedges, chopped down trees, tried to intimidate neighbours, etc., etc.
If you’re up to it, you could start with Lucky Gwynedd – more ‘investors’, scroll down to the section ‘Castle’ Gwynfryn, and then the section Bryn Llys aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’. You can then work back from there.
The Duggans are fraudsters and con men from West Yorkshire. When the father got sent down the son took over the business and moved to Wales, bought Bryn Llys, and spent a lot of their money on the new property.
The problem was that they weren’t supposed to have any money, so all manner of subterfuges had to be employed. Including getting a sap named Andrew Battye to put his name on the title document and pretend he owned Bryn Llys.
It’s a harrowing tale. I urge you to read it with a tissue to hand.
Though urinating through the letter box sounds a trifle risky. Especially if there’s a dog in the house.
Jon Duggan bought land off Hill, with money Hill loaned him! Because of course if Duggan is seen to have money the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 comes into play.
Another case I was looking into at the request of concerned neighbours was the ambitious plans for Gwynfryn Plas, an old gentry mansion near Llanystumdwy. The bloke making trouble here was Phillip Andrew Bush, who seems to have made his money from taking derelict ships to be broken up on Asian beaches.
I’m not saying that Bush is a crook, but a man is judged by the company he keeps.
And Bush was soon keeping company with Aaron Hill, even selling him some Gwynfryn land. It was also reported that the Duggan gang had been sighted there
Amazing how these people find each other! Is it some form of echolocation, like bats?
To cut a long story short . . . it was reported that Hill and Bush had boasted of new ventures in Scotland. And now I hear that the Duggan family – but not the whole gang – has also removed itself to Yr Hen Ogledd.
Word is that the Duggans are in Dumfries. Home to Queen of the South FC. (Not a lot of people know that.) I’ve been to Dumfries a few times. Nice town. Looking forward to going back.
While they have decamped, faithful family retainer and failed rocker, Shane Baker, has been trying to sell off the family assets. Which of course they don’t really own!
Of course, what Baker will not tell any prospective buyer, but what my local source reminds me is:
'This is the land which was formerly attached to 4 Glanrafon Terrace, Nebo and, through which, Jonathan Duggan built a new access track to Bryn Llys and which he later purchased from Aaron Hill.There is no mention of the Enforcement Order for the removal of the access track and restoration of the land to its original state.'
Which means that anyone silly enough to buy this land could be buying into a whole lot of trouble. So steer well clear.
You have been warned!
As this has been a biggie, and it’s taken up quite a bit of my time, don’t expect anything next week. I’m supposed to be bloody retiring!
My intention was to start winding down this blog, spend more time with my wife, grand-children, books, Malbec . . . but things keep cropping up. That said, it’s very unlikely I shall undertake major new investigations. Diolch yn fawr.
In keeping with the promise made above, this is an update to a story I was reporting on a few years back rather than a new investigation. I’m returning to it now because there have been significant developments.
The plan to build a big adventure park in the Afan Valley, behind Port Talbot, complete with a hotel and lodges, offering ski slopes and cycle routes, was the brainchild of self-made con man Gavin Lee Woodhouse.
At one point, maggot-munching Bore Grylls was on board, but his enthusiasm cooled, perhaps when he realised the kind of ‘businessman’ he’d got himself involved with.
But the ‘Welsh Government’ believed every word from Woodhouse, and in addition to offering him a £500,000 grant for his Caer Rhun hotel near Llanrwst, our tribunes were ready to throw more money at him in the Afan Valley.
Woodhouse’s empire came crashing down when investors in his properties – some of which were never built – persuaded the media to take an interest. Now, I believe, it’s in the hands of the Serious Fraud Office.
If you click on the ‘Charges’ tab for Afan Valley you’ll see that there are two outstanding charges. One in the name of Clive Mishon, the other 360 Mi Ltd, a company owned by Mishon that is now in liquidation.
I’ve never been entirely sure where or how Mishon fits into the picture, but he was certainly on the ground before Woodhouse. We know that because in May 2013 he was a founding director of short-lived Afan Solar Ltd. Next, perhaps after learning the sun doesn’t shine all the time in Wales, he joined Afan Energy Ltd in April 2014.
Both are long since dissolved. Afan Energy, in which Mishon was a shareholder, was written off with debts of £596,391.
Though Mishon is still involved, perhaps because the project can’t proceed without the land he owns. Besides which, Mishon has associates, involved with companies registered in places that enjoy more sunshine than Wales.
NEW FACES, OLD FACES, MASKS AND DISGUISES
Having read the press release you’ll know that those who’ve taken over are said to be the Salamanca Group Ltd and Wildfox Resorts Afan Valley Ltd. Let’s start with Wildfox, where the two directors are Martin James Bellamy and Benjamin Daniel Lloyd.
The initial share issue was for 101 shares. One hundred held by Wildfox Resorts Group Ltd, formed March 16, 2021 (as Kikai Group Holdings Ltd), the other by Clive Mishon.
All 100 shares in Wildfox Resorts Group Ltd are held by Lloyd and significant control is exercised by his company, Caer Capital Ltd. Caer Capital was formed September 15.
The main vehicle for Lloyd’s ambitions seem to be Project Three Developments Ltd, where he’s in partnership with Gareth Vaughan Morgan and Benjamin Peter Hugh Wells.
This company claims ‘tangible assets’ of some four million pounds, almost certainly property bought with loans from the Development Bank of Wales.
The most recent company is Wells Lloyd Ltd, formed as recently as June this year. Has this new company been cobbled together to cash in on the Afan Valley bonanza?
Strengthening the local connection is another Lloyd company, Kikai RGI Ltd, where the other director is Lewis Ashleigh Peach, who gives a Caerffili address. Most of the shares (70%) are held by Wildfox Resorts Group Ltd, with Peach holding the remainder through his Arete Group Holdings Ltd. Arete was formed March 16, 2021.
But is Lloyd really the man behind the revived Afan Valley project? He’s certainly not mentioned in the press release from Neath Port Talbot council.
Yet ownership of Wildfox Resorts Afan Valley Ltd, the company mentioned in the NPT press release, seems to trace back through Wildfox Resorts Group Ltd and Caer Capital Ltd to Benjamin Daniel Lloyd.
To give you some idea of the size of the project, here’s the plan submitted with the planning application from Gavin Woodhouse’s Afan Valley Ltd.
Now let’s turn to the Bellamy-Salamanca angle.
We find a host of Salamanca companies, all based at 3 Burlington Gardens in London’s Mayfair. The link between them is Martin James Bellamy.
An interesting name I keep seeing in connection with Salamanca is Lord David Triesman. A very wealthy man.
Another name shared by a number of companies is Rocksteady.
Where Lloyd crops up again as a director of Rocksteady Resorts Group Ltd of 21 Ganton Street, Soho. This company was formed on March 17, 2021, which is appropriate as another of the directors is Irishman Paul Christopher Baker. The third director is Martin James Bellamy. All shares are held by Rocksteady Group Ltd, formed March 16, 2021.
Another Rocksteady company was Rocksteady Resorts Ltd, launched March 11, 2020. Also interesting because the two directors were Baker and Peter Macandless Mundell Moore.
You see Moore in the group photo above. He was the expert brought in by Gavin Woodhouse to give his project credibility. Moore is invariably referred to in media reports as ‘the man who brought Center Parcs to the UK’.
Moore left Rocksteady Resorts March 9, this year, and the company was dissolved July 6.
The three directors at Rocksteady Group Ltd are Bellamy, Baker and Lloyd. The 200 shares are split equally between Set in Stone Holdings Ltd and CLLP Ltd. Both give London addresses.
One of the four CLLP directors is Hossam AlSaady, of Saudi Arabia(?). The others are Lloyd, Bellamy, and Anthony John Rowland. AlSaady runs Above Wealth LLP with Rowland. A company that helps the über rich find a home for their money.
Until 3 April, 2021, Set in Stone was using as its address, The White House, St. Mary’s Well, Bay Road, Swanbridge, Penarth CF64 5UJ. It files as a dormant company, showing just a single £1 share, presumably held by Paul Baker who was the only director until 17 March, 2021, when he was joined by Laura Lynn Baker, an American resident in Wales.
So, I would guess that Martin Bellamy is, as reports tell, the driving force behind the revived Afan Valley project. Lloyd, Baker, et al make up the supporting cast.
If nothing else, Bellamy knows billionaires who could easily finance the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. Among them, his business partner, and his father-in-law.
We are talking serious money here, and individuals with very powerful friends and allies, up to and including Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
SKATING ON THIN ICE
But there are other companies in the shadows. One being Afan Valley Resort Ltd, formed March 19, 2021. The two directors are Baker and Bellamy. The shares are all held by Rocksteady Resorts Group Ltd. The address is 21 Ganton Street, Soho.
There’s also Afan Valley Resort Management Ltd, Incorporated March 23, 2021. The two directors are, again, Baker and Bellamy. The single share is owned by Afan Valley Resort Ltd. Also using the Ganton Street address.
Another company bringing together Bellamy and Lloyd, and another company formed in March of this year, is Kogan Bellamy Lloyd Ltd.
It might be worth having a look at a couple of other companies Baker has been involved in, interesting for the American involvement, though also a bit worrying.
First, there’s E-Ventus Energy Ltd, with its registered address at the White House in Penarth. The other directors in this company were fellow Irishman John Connolly, who was resident in the USA, and US citizen John Spence, also resident in the USA.
The accounts for E-Ventus Energy are long overdue at Companies House. I wonder how much they owe?
Another strange company Baker was involved with was Deeside Hockey Ltd. The address given was 3rd Floor, 5 Temple Square, Temple Street, Liverpool, L2 5RH, but we can be fairly certain that the name referred to Deeside in Flintshire. In fact, there is a Deeside Dragons Ice Hockey Club playing in Queensferry.
Deeside Hockey was Incorporated August 5, 2015, first gazetted November 1, 2016, and finally dissolved January 17, 2017.
There were three directors at the start; Baker – resident in Wales – plus two resident in the USA, Wayne Gary James Scholes, and Trevor Damon Suelze. Baker pulled out September 14, 2015 and was replaced by American Collin Zito.
All the shares in Deeside Hockey Ltd were held by Red Hockey Ltd, since renamed Telford Ice Sports Ltd. And what a story we have here!
Launched in August, 2013 the first director was Scholes. Suelze joined in October. Baker joined in February, 2015. All using the Liverpool address.
Other directors came and went, and shares were issued, but this company was soon in trouble and eventually, after a lengthy process, it was dissolved in June this year.
The liquidator’s reports refer to ‘a number of questionable transactions’, and the company owed creditors almost half a million pounds.
In a Companies House Return of February 2015 we are told that all 1000 shares in (then) Red Hockey Ltd were owned by Really Epic Dog Ltd, operating out of the same Liverpool address with Scholes, Suelze, and Zito, as directors.
This company has creditors to whom it owes £4.9m. Most of this is explained by (allegedly?) transferring money between related companies run by the same directors.
So who are these Americans or US residents with whom Baker is associated? (For Suelze may be Canadian, and Scholes British.)
From someone else who was briefly a director of Red Hockey Ltd, South African resident Servaas Hendrik Theron, we have an address: General Counsel, 5225 Wiley Post Way, Suite 150, Salt Lake City, Utah 84116.
We would appear to have a number of potential sources for the money to re-launch and complete the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
Martin Bellamy has his business partner Lord Triesman, and his father-in-law Valery Kogan. Either of them could finance this project from their small change. But if one of them was funding this project why do we see such a supporting cast?
And why so many Afan Valley companies?
And let’s not forget the Saudi link provided by Hossam AlSaady. Or if not a link to Saudi Arabia, then to one or more partners of his Above Wealth LLP. One of which is Swiss fund managers Gottex.
Then, we have the intriguing connection, via Liverpool, with the USA and, more specifically, the state of Utah.
What are we to make of Scholes, Suelze, and Zito, and their involvement in Deeside Hockey, the liquidator’s reference to ‘questionable transactions’, the unpaid creditors, and the labyrinth of linked companies all owing each other money?
Given their forays into the leisure business I would be disappointed to learn that these people are in any way involved at Afan Valley.
The connection between them and the resurrected Afan Valley venture is of course the Irishman, Paul Christopher Baker.
Baker is very much a player now at Afan Valley.
We find him at Afan Valley Resort Ltd with Martin Bellamy. The duo are together again at Afan Valley Resort Management Ltd. The duet becomes a threesome when Lloyd joins them at Rocksteady Resorts Group Ltd. The three then do an encore at Rocksteady Group Ltd.
All four companies formed 16 – 23 March, 2021.
And let’s not forget dissolved Rocksteady Resorts Ltd, where we would have found Baker and Peter Moore. Formed in March 2020 and put down a year later, with the name carried on by others.
Though I was struck by one very curious Companies House filing for this company, which I reproduce below.
Was Paul Baker formerly known as Paul Morris, and did he change his name? Or did whoever registered the company with Companies House not know Baker’s name?
Baker’s association with the Utah Scousers and their Deeside Hockey, plus his role with E-Ventus, the company the High Court restored, might suggest he has a somewhat ‘cavalier’ attitude to business.
But what about the boys from round by ‘ere, like?
Well, Benjamin Lloyd’s Wildfox Resorts Afan Valley Ltd may be the real deal and his route to fame and fortune. Or it may be just a distraction.
His mate, Lewis Peach, is the other director of Kikai RGI Ltd. (Another company formed in March, 2021.) But a few years ago Peach was running a gym in Caerffili.
In the Caerphilly Business Forum Awards for 2017 we read: ‘Entrepreneur of the Year – sponsored by Coleg y Cymoedd: Lewis Peach – Peak Performance Fitness Solutions.’ (Did you know we have no word in Welsh for the English term entrepreneur?)
But Lewis is a Renaissance Man, cos when he’s not pumping iron we find him at Pure Structured Finance. This company was formed in December 2019, and according to Companies House its address is opposite McDonald’s in Llanishen. Yet the website I just linked to says it operates out of 3 Burlington Gardens, London, W1S 3EP.
And if that address sounds familiar then that’s because it’s where we find Martin Bellamy’s Salamanca empire.
Wheels within wheels. So many connections. Pathways and dead-ends. No wonder old Jac is getting quite dizzy – and alcohol plays no part. Honest!
A FEW QUESTIONS WITH WHICH TO CONCLUDE
These questions are addressed to Neath Port Talbot Borough Council and the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ on behalf of those still interested in how Wales is mis-ruled.
Do you know who is really behind this revived project, and where the money is coming from?
Why do you think this project needs so many companies?
How would NPT Council and the ‘Welsh Government’ feel about the project funding coming from Russia or Saudi Arabia?
There are persons with questionable business records linked with the project. What are their roles?
Will those now behind the project follow the discredited Gavin Woodhouse model of selling shares in the lodges and the hotel rooms?
Have those behind the project requested grants from the ‘Welsh Government’, or loans from the Development Bank of Wales?
How much public money will be spent on infrastructure – roads, etc – for the Afan Valley Adventure Resort?
What measures will NPT Council and the ‘Welsh Government’ put in place to ensure that contracts are placed with local firms and the better jobs allocated to local people?
Given that the Afan Valley Adventure Resort will mean tens of thousands more cars travelling from England into Wales, and back, every year, how does this square with the ‘Welsh Government’s ambition for Wales to single-handedly save the planet?
Will there be an extra charge for chalets and hotel rooms offering uninterrupted views of the surrounding wind turbines?
Labour politicians in Neath Port Talbot and Corruption Bay may be desperate to claim more ‘investment’, but rest assured, boys and girls, I shall be keeping a jaundiced eye on the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
Because I’m sure there’ll be more to tell you in the months ahead.
UPDATE 20.10.2021: The Western Mail published an article this morning that was clearly designed to boost the project and make it clear that those now involved had no connection with the misdeeds of Gavin Lee Woodhouse.
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
After my tribulations last week, with computer and internet service, I’m delighted to report that everything is now resolved.
Despite the problems I managed to make a start on the piece you’re about to read. It’s yet another tale of money from north west England – possibly further afield – buying property in northern Wales. And as is so often the case, when you look more closely into what’s happening, and who’s involved, then the more questions arise.
An interesting property, Gwynfryn Plas, aka Plas Gwynfryn, near Llanystumdwy, on the Llŷn peninsula. Due to both forms being used I shall stick with ‘Gwynfryn’.
It was home to Hugh John Ellis-Nanney, scion of an anglicised Welsh gentry family. Educated at Eton and Oxford, and now the owner of a sizeable estate, Ellis-Nanney wanted a house to reflect his status, and so Gwynfryn was completed in 1878.
Persuaded to stand in the 1890 by-election for Caernarvon Boroughs, Conservative Ellis-Nanney was defeated by the Liberal candidate, up and coming local boy, David Lloyd George.
With Ellis-Nanney having no male heir the estate passed to his daughter, and after her death Gwynfryn served a number of purposes, finally a hotel, before being gutted by fire in 1982.
From around 2010 reports appeared in the media bemoaning the fact that the old pile was in such a mess, with no one knowing who owned it. Here’s one report from the BBC in October 2011.
In the report you will have read, “Aaron Hill, who lives near Caernarfon, wants to take over and renovate the property, which was gutted by fire in 1982”. Hang on! – Aaron Hill?
Yes, the very same Aaron Hill who bought 4 Glanrafon Terrace, near Bryn Llys, and then ‘loaned’ fraudster Jonathan Duggan the money to buy the land attached to the house. Done so Duggan could extend his holding and lay an unauthorised access road. (Bryn Llys is now called ‘Snowdon Summit View’.)
The original title document states that in April 1980 a couple named Hooper sold what remained of the Gwynfryn estate to Global Leisure Ltd. In 1995 it was transferred to Magnet International Holdings Ltd, a Guernsey-registered company. Magnet was compulsorily struck off in 2006.
The shareholders are all companies using the name ‘Bachmann’ followed by a different Greek letter. Possibly this Peter John Bachmann.
While the listed directors are ADL One Limited and ADL Two Limited, both linked with a long list of mainly property companies. All of them using PO Box 175 in St Peter Port, Guernsey.
But, strangely, no mention of Philip Bush, who has owned the property throughout this period.
If we carry on reading the title document we see that in June 2018: “Copy filed under CYM745545. 4 (28.06.2018) The land edged . . . has been removed from this title and registered under the title number . . . “ The property description has been altered to reflect the land alone remaining in the original title.
And confirming that the house is now registered under CYM745545, and owned by Aaron Hill. Who is said to have paid £100,000 for the ruin.
Unfortunately, the Land Registry does not offer maps with either title.
A MAN OF THE WORLD
Leaving the land around the house owned by Philip Andrew Bush, using as his address a PO box in Switzerland. Bush may be a successor to Magnet International Holdings.
He seems to be an interesting character, though getting information on him is not easy. Largely because he operates through foreign and offshore companies. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Bush is mentioned in the Paradise Papers.
The address given for Bush Shipping is 77 Walton Street, Chelsea. Since 2008 it has been home to Jak’s Cafe & Deli.
Of perhaps more interest is this Annual Return (to Companies House) from 2006. The other directors appear to be his daughters, but it’s the division of the 10,000 shares I found interesting. For Bush has just one share in his name, the other 9,999 are held by International Nominees SA, with an address in Switzerland.
So, the man who owns the land around Gwynfryn is involved in shipping and a network – or networks – of offshore companies.
We know the house and the land were owned under one title by Philip Andrew Bush, who may or may not have been a successor to the companies that had earlier owned the property, Global Leisure and Magnet International Holdings.
A number of reports from 2018/19 suggested that the house and the land were for sale together. This Facebook page tells us that someone believed this was still the case as late as November 2019.
Yet, as we’ve seen, the house was detached from the original title, and that new title bought by Aaron Hill 12 June 2018. So why did people over a year later think the house and land were still for sale?
And as if that wasn’t enough ducking and weaving, ‘now you see me, now you don’t’, who’s that over in the trees, in camouflage fatigues, watching Gwynfryn through his high powered binoculars? Well, bless me! – it’s Bore Grylls!
Because the address for Bore’s Dragon Raiders Activity Park is ‘Gwynfryn Lodge’. In addition, he owns a tract of woodland that belonged to the original estate.
Grylls is always looking to buy more of Wales so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s interested in buying the Gwynfryn land from Philip Bush. This would be one explanation for why it’s no longer for sale.
Which leaves the house, or what remains of it. Is Grylls also after that?
Because I’m still not clear why Aaron Hill bought Gwynfryn. I’m pretty sure he has neither the expertise nor the money to restore it. In fact, he may have no intention of restoring Gwynfryn.
Though others appear to have plans for Gwynfryn.
SALT AND VINEGAR
For last year Cyngor Gwynedd received a pre-application enquiry to turn the old house into “30 residential units”. The inquiry came from Partington & Associates Ltd of Chorley, Lancashire, on behalf of DM Property Group Ltd.
(What I’m referring to with this ‘enquiry’ is an approach from a developer to gauge the planning authority’s likely response; with the response influencing whether a planning application is submitted.)
Taylor turns up again as a director of DM Property Group. There’s little information available on DM Property because it was only formed in August 2019. Though Companies House can tell us that the other director is Michelle May Sturdy, who shares an address with Taylor.
If we follow the road connecting the Plas with the highway we see that it runs through Cabin Wood and on to the lodge or gatehouse, owned by the maggot-munching man of action.
It could be that given Hill’s links with the Duggan gang at Bryn Llys, and the notoriety they’ve attracted, he might have thought he had more chance of getting planning approval for 30 residential units at Gwynfryn if the application came from someone else.
Another possibility is that a deal has been struck, conditional on planning permission being granted. By which I mean, DM Property will buy Gwynfryn from Hill but only if it gets planning permission.
What other reasons might there be for a company to submit a planning application for a property it doesn’t own? I’m open to suggestions.
Of course, there is the possibility that what’s planned for the old house forms part of a bigger project. Which is why I raised the possibilty of Bore Grylls being involved.
Woodhouse, the self-styled ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’, came to a sticky end when his empire – built on selling rooms in his hotels as ‘investments’, also rooms in care homes that he never bothered building – was exposed last year.
Having been taken in by a con man I suppose we should be thankful Grylls is still with us. For it’s surely a miracle he survived all those SAS missions when instantly recognising and taking out the bad guys is a matter of life or death.
(Big sigh of relief! Touches wood.)
UPDATE 30.09.2020: I regret to inform you that Bore Grylls is no longer involved with Dragon Raiders at Llanystumdwy. Such a pity, as I enjoy writing about him. However . . .
A source tells me that those behind the Gwynfryn project are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong.
A company mentioned was Acquérir, where Armstrong is the sole director according to Companies House. This is a company offering, “Hands-off investing for the foreign investor”.
Where we find find Armstrong and Wilmott together is in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd, a company Incorporated as recently as last September.
My source further suggests that these two whizz-kids may have learnt all they know from motormouth Samuel Leeds. In this video we see Leeds talking with – or to – David Taylor of Partington & Associates and DM Property Group.
It’s said that Wilmott and Armstrong have exchanged contracts with Aaron Hill conditional on Taylor getting planning permission.
The picture at Gwynfryn is not yet high definition but definitely getting clearer. And if Armstrong and Wilmott are offering investment opportunities to foreign investors then, who knows, Gwynfryn could soon be owned by men with fur hats and snow on their boots!
‘Oh what a tangled web we weave . . . ‘.
Cyngor Gwynedd’s planners will no doubt insist that planning law must be adhered to. That’s their job. Though some of them have, in recent years, been far too zealous in accommodating ‘developers’.
So how is it likely to pan out?
The council’s planning officers will probably recommend that the planning committee (made up of councillors) approves the application for 30 residential units at Gwynfryn. I expect the committee to reject the recommendation and refuse planning permission.
The applicant(s) may at that stage appeal. If so, it becomes the responsibility of the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ to appoint an inspector to review the case and come to a decision that may over-rule the council planning committee.
This is where the farce turns into a charade. Because the ‘Welsh Government’ has no authority over the Planning Inspectorate. The Planning Inspectorate is run from London and invariably makes decisions against the Welsh national interest.
The bottom line is that we are helpless in the face of the onslaught represented by planning applications like this turning us into strangers in our own country. Helpless bystanders as Wales becomes England’s playground.
Even so . . .
It must be established who owns Gwynfryn.
What must also be established is the relationship between Aaron Hill, Partington & Associates / DM Property, Samuel Leeds, James Armstrong and Anthony Wilmott, and anyone else who might still be lurking in the shadows.
Also, the ownership of the land formerly linked with the house needs to be clarified, not least because so many offshore owners have been involved in the past. There is also the possibility that the plan for the Plas may be part of something bigger.
Let’s have the truth. Something so often absent from planning applications in Wales.
As I’ve said more than once . . . what passes for the UK economy is whatever best suits the City of London; that island unto itself floating on a cess-pit of corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance.
In Wales we see the ripples from the cess-pit in the form of crooks and shysters turning up looking for something to buy in order to launder money, or an address from which to operate shell companies.
(I’m not talking now of the Gwynfryn application but of countless other stories I’ve brought you over the years.)
Yet if devolution was what it pretends to be, if those in Corruption Bay were what they want us to believe they are, then this application at Llanystumdwy wouldn’t even get past the pre-application enquiry stage.
For the applicants would be told, ‘No, we don’t need this development because it offers nothing to the local area or to Wales other than further colonisation. Consequently, there is no point in you submitting a full planning application. Goodbye’.
It’s because we can’t do this that I don’t want to hear any more nonsense about “Making devolution work”, or that things would be so much better if only there was a different party managing the show.
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
Seeing as I spoilt you with two issues last week this week’s post is later than usual. It takes the form of a couple of ‘starters’, a very substantial main course, followed by coffee, and then there’s a liqueur to round things off which some of you may find a little bitter.
But it’s another feast, so take your time!
In the recent series I did on Jake Berry – the Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire, but who owns an ever-increasing number of properties on Ynys Môn – we found an old company of his named Rhoscolyn Ltd. This outfit bit the dust in 2010, but the name has been resurrected.
The new Rhoscolyn Ltd belongs to Michael William Kenyon, and it’s also in the business of buying, selling and letting Welsh property. Kenyon also comes from over the border, from Cheshire. As I’ve remarked before, the property market in the north seems to be controlled now from Manchester and Cheshire. With the Cheshire Set entrenched from Abba Sock to Ross Niger and Ross Colin.
Kenyon is involved in a number of companies. An interesting one being a Lloyds-linked LLP which was, apparently, started in 2008 by Kenyon’s then 88-year-old father. Or at least, in the old man’s name. Nomina No 457 LLP has no less than 44 outstanding charges, many of which link to the USA, some to a bank in Louisville, Kentucky. And when you click on the ‘People’ tab you bring up other LLPs and more Kenyons.
The world of high finance, eh! What chance do locals on Ynys Môn, or indeed the council, have against people like Jake Berry with his Westminster connections, and Maxwell with his City links?
But the question is, are the two companies named Rhoscolyn Ltd linked? Do Berry and Kenyon know each other?
You will recall that a company being run by crooks I’ve written about many times, started life in January 2019 as Glynllifon Mansion Ltd, then in December became Waterford Interiors Ltd, before undergoing yet another change of name in June when it became Royston Jones LL36 9YF Ltd.
This was reported to North Wales Police on the grounds of a) harassment [as it followed hand-delivered threatening letters] and b) the possibility that this company bearing my name might be used for unlawful purposes.
I also made my feelings known to Companies House, but there was nothing they could do. You can give a company any name you like, it seems. Though I’m sure you wouldn’t be able to register a company using the name of a royal, or a leading politician, or lots of other people.
Anyway, NWP phoned Myles Cunliffe, who had been a director until November, after that he ran the company through his boy Thomas Jacob Hindle. Cunliffe professed his innocence, as did Hindle when the police spoke with him. So it seems the name changed all by itself! Whatever next?
Myles Cunliffe may be back where he started in the shadowy world of unregulated car leasing and credit brokering. Someone sent this link to explain what he’s up to.
AFAN VALLEY ADVENTURE RESORT
TO RECAP . . .
Among the crooks who’ve crossed the border recently we find Gavin Lee Woodhouse, of Northern Powerhouse Developments. Gavin’s business model was to buy a run-down hotel, inflate its value, and then sell off the rooms individually as ‘investments’.
Many of the buyers had overseas addresses. Whether they knew they’d bought a room from Woodhouse is a good question. Whether some of them even existed may be an even better question.
His other line was selling rooms in care homes . . . care homes that never got built.
Gavin Woodhouse owned hotels from Llandudno to Tenby, and then he got really ambitious with his Afan Valley Adventure Resort (AVAR), up behind Port Talbot.
The jackpot for Woodhouse would be selling the 600 lodges for £200,000 or more, plus the 100 hotel rooms. To get punters queuing, and to promote the ‘adventure’ angle, Woodhouse recruited maggot-muncher and self-publicist extraordinaire, Bore Grylls.
And once the storm broke Grylls doused himself with hogwash, put on his camouflage pants – the ones with the Kalashnikov sewn into the hem – and disappeared . . . to emerge a short time later from a rhododendron bush on Llŷn and convince a group of photocopier salesmen from Reading that once they’d got their boots muddy and handed over £2,000 a head they would be official, part-time, honorary members of the SAS. (And for another grand he could get them in the Foreign Legion as well!)
Before long most people realised Woodhouse was a crook . . . except, it seemed, those closest to him. Such as Peter Moore, the CEO and alleged brains of the outfit, who still thought Woodhouse was kosher!
As did the ‘Welsh Government’ whose duty it was – or should have been – to have made enquiries. Young Kenny Skates, famed for his dazzling gnashers and his Flint Ring, rushed to enjoy a photo op with Woodhouse and Moore on a high and windy hill above the Afan Valley. (Councillor Jones looks less impressed.)
One of my favourites, this. It hangs in my hall alongside the photo of great-aunt Fastidia competing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, shooting something, or somebody. (Did she give a Nazi salute? Of course she did . . . she gave everyone a Nazi salute.)
I started asking questions about Woodhouse in April 2017, and eventually the mainstream media got involved in the middle of 2019. (Though this was almost certainly at the pleading of cheated investors.) This report from ITV of June last year has a video explaining how Woodlouse operates. ITV News co-operated on this inquiry with the Guardian, which provides another account.
Understandably, this house of cards soon collapsed, but I’ve tried to keep up with events. In March I received an e-mail from Companies House telling me a progress report had been received from the administrators, but when I checked, it had been so poorly scanned it was unreadable. After three e-mails asking for a better copy, one finally appeared last week. Here is that report.
Those of you thinking this project is dead should think again. Neath Port Talbot council extended the deadline to establish the project’s credibility until 31 March, (but obviously this was overtaken by the Coronavirus pandemic). So I guess from NPT’s point of view the project is still ‘live’.
You’ll also note that despite Gavin Woodhouse being exposed and his companies in receivership, CEO Peter Moore is still at his desk. Any comparison with a Japanese soldier still fighting on in the jungle in the 196os would be erroneous. Moore knows the score – so who’s he working for?
Scroll down to page 8 and you’ll read what I’ve captured for you in the box below. (Caerau Park Ltd was the name used by Afan Valley Ltd from its Incorporation 14 April 2016 until the name change of 23 February 2017.)
As already stated, this ‘Land at Caerau Park Wood’ was bought in March 2017 for £889,000 by Afan Valley Ltd from Ontaris Resources Inc and Foreman Properties Ltd. The top of page 6 tells us this was done with the loan taken out with Clive Mishon.
Ontaris Resources is registered in the British Virgin Islands, one of many dirty money havens protected by the UK government. In the Offshore Leaks Database you’ll find Ontaris linked with Andrew Patrick Foreman. Click on Foreman’s name and you bring up a registered address of Tickton Hall, Tickton, Beverley, near Hull.
This is where we find Afan Solar Ltd. Mishon and Foreman both served as directors, with Mishon the original majority shareholder. The company was struck off in September 2015 without ever filing accounts.
We now know that Woodhouse bought the land from Mishon and his mates – with money they loaned him!
This is mentioned in 15 of the panel above, where we are told that Mishon’s intervention in July 2019 also covered CYM471819. This title refers to a sliver of land alongside the A4107 (Brytwn Road), heading east out of Cymmer, which has the appearance of a ransom strip. Possibly a future entrance.
More ‘Land at Caerau Park Wood, Caerau, Maesteg’, bought by Clive Mishon in May 2014 for £180,000. The title document tells us of “a contract for sale dated 1 August 2016 made between (1) Clive Mishon and (2) Caerau Parc Limited.”
You’ll notice that the previous title document mentions a lease of ‘Land lying to the west of Pen y Bryn’. This made little sense for a while until I grasped that Pen y Bryn was the name for a stretch of the A4063 in Croeserw.
The land is leased for 20 years from 1 January 2015 by Arqiva Ltd, a company in the business of telephone masts.
Explained in the images I’ve put together below. The one on the left is from the Caves of South Wales site (you must know it!), and the one on the right from the Land Registry. Which is helpful seeing as the LR does not offer maps with CYM60212 or with WA519567.
On page four (3) of this title document you can read “(22.07.2015) Option to purchase in favour of Afan Energy Limited contained in an Option Agreement dated 17 April 2014 made between (1) Clive Mishon and (2) Afan Energy Limited upon the terms therein mentioned.”
Yes, in addition to Afan Solar there is also Afan Energy Ltd, and at the same East Yorkshire address where we also found BVI-registered Ontaris. Or rather, there was an Afan Energy, because it was voluntarily written off in September 2017 with liabilities of £596,391. Mishon was the sole director at the death. Which means that the Agreement of 2014 was between him and his company.
It would appear that the whole area set aside for the Afan Valley Adventure Resort is now owned by Clive Mishon (and perhaps others), who reinforced his claim just days ahead of the administrators.
Obviously Mishon thinks it’s worth proceeding with the Afan Valley Adventure Resort; and why not, there’s a great deal of money to be made if it can be pulled off.
Though a big question for me remains: ‘Seeing as Woodlouse bought the land off people who loaned him the money for the purchase, did he ever really own it?’
Or was he just fronting for Mishon (and his mates) all along? I ask because as I’ve been writing this a picture has been forming in my head.
We’ve met companies called Afan Energy and Afan Solar, which suggest that Mishon and friends originally intended to reap the subsidy bonanza with solar arrays and wind turbines. This fell through, perhaps trumped by the massive Pen y Cymoedd wind farm nearby. So thoughts turned to other uses for the land.
As this was an attractive wooded area, already used by mountain bikers and others, to come up with the idea of an adventure resort didn’t need any great leap of imagination.
For Mishon and his mates the problem might have been the way some of their companies were structured . . . and then there were the offshore links. This might have been off-putting for the ‘Welsh Government’, certainly it could have been used by their opponents. The media (what’s left of it) might also have asked questions.
Gavin Woodhouse, with his hotels scattered about Wales, and being favoured by the ‘Welsh Government’ with a grant of £500,000 for his Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy valley, might have seemed the perfect front man.
If I’m right, that really is funny.
I could certainly understand both the ‘Welsh Government’ and Neath Port Talbot Borough Council being reluctant to deal with people using Limited Liability Partnerships and other opaque financial vehicles. Then there are the tax haven companies.
Would our tribunes ever know who they were really dealing with, and where the money came from? But then, maybe they now think they’re dealing with Peter Moore.
That said, the Afan Valley, and the Valleys in general, need jobs.
We are faced with this dilemma because leftists, like Labour and Plaid Cymru, have no idea how to build an economy and create jobs; which leaves Wales prey to shysters like Woodlouse and businessmen like Clive Mishon and his associates, with their tax haven companies.
Native socialist incompetence and alien exploitation in the symbiotic relationship that is destroying Wales.
Wales deserves better. But it can only come from those determined to make Wales more prosperous, rather than those who prefer to whine about deprivation, and exploit it for political gain.
The first step out of the mess Wales is in is to support political parties seeking to build a genuinely Welsh economy and serve the Welsh national interest. With the foundation laid we can then push for independence.
ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS
For those new to the subject, OPDs were introduced by the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition management team (2007-2011) as a gesture to show that Wales was playing its part in the fight against global warming.
The truth was that the scam was engineered by Minister for Hippies, Jane Davidson, whose friends didn’t want to pay market prices for smallholdings. So, the ‘Welsh Government’ brought out Technical Advice Note 6, which made it clear to planners that any dreadlocked planet-saver who showed up on their patch should be allowed to build whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted.
That was because this person, his ‘lady’, their offspring, their dogs, cats, goats, chickens, sheep, and other livestock, their candles and incense burners, their wood-burning stove, plus their diesel-powered 4 x 4 and generator, were reducing Wales’ carbon footprint.
Anyone who couldn’t see that had to be a climate change denier.
News reaches me from Gower suggesting that whatever is planned for the Parkmill woodland may not be a OPD commune. I’m glad to hear that, and I hope it’s true, but I shall keep my powder dry.
Staying on Gower, I also reported that the Ecological Land Co-operative (ELC) of Brighton had applied for a two-dwelling OPD at Furzehill, Ilston – that it planned to rent or sub-let! Letters of support have come in . . . from all over England. But a recent letter from Reading might put the absurd project in jeopardy.
It comes from Ieuan Williams BSc., MA., FBIAC, PIEMA of Reading Agricultural Consultants. What gives the letter its weight is that Williams was ” . . . a member of the team that wrote the Welsh Government’s TAN 6 Practice Guidance, relating to rural enterprise dwellings.”
Here are a few extracts: “ELC appears not to understand OPD policy and its requirements . . . It may even be that the tenants have not read and understood the OPD Guidance . . . The tenants’ approach to the development appears to be as a rural enterprise rather than an OPD . . . It is of considerable concern that the prospective tenants seem to think that travel around the country, throughout the UK and abroad on holidays would be acceptable for residents of an OPD . . . With regards to water use on the site, contrary to the ELC assertion in its Planning Statement, use of a mains water supply is not acceptable for the site occupants.”
Another very good objection came from Christine Lloyd of Parkmill who made a very interesting, but rather worrying, point, when she writes: “Most of the letters of support are from outside the area but they seem to be given additional status by being added to the Document page on the planning portal. Most of the objections are from locals and are on the Comments tab.”
Why would that be? Are certain employees of Swansea council exhibiting bias in favour of these schemes?
What the Ecological Land Co-operative of Brighton wants is to throw up cheap dwellings on the edge of town, pretend they’re OPDs, charge rent, and then swan about the world to attend self-congratulatory bun fights.
To get the bigger picture I’m told we need to introduce Gwilym Griffith Morris, originally from the upper reaches of Cwmtawe or even the Brecon area. Morris is something of a wheeler-dealer in the world of agricultural land and buildings.
Around 30 years ago, he bought Mwche farm, adjoining Pentowyn. Then Pentowyn itself. He sold off the farm buildings to a woman in Swansea, and the land to other buyers. The marshes he sold to the National Trust and is believed to rent them back.
A recent claim to fame was his planning application for a wind turbine at Mwche, which lies across the Tâf estuary from Dylan Thomas’s boathouse. As is the way with things in Carmarthenshire, local councillors nodded it though without even a site visit.
Here’s the planning application. There was of course a firm from England behind the wind turbine. It would appear that the ‘local benefits’ of renewable energy – rather like caravan sites – are restricted to landowners.
A source has pointed me towards an interesting planning application that might explain the application for an OPD. A few years ago, Griff or Gruff Morris applied for a ‘farm dwelling’ at Pentowyn . . . having sold off the farmhouse soon after buying the farm.
He had been successful with a similar application at Mwche farm. But the Pentowyn application was rejected in May 2018. Check it out here.
As I say, Griff/Gruff Morris is a wheeler-dealer always looking to turn a penny. It is suspected locally that this OPD application is simply the ‘farm dwelling’ in different wellies.
Mwche farm, or parts of it, were sold a few years back, to this man.
Griff or Gruff Morris is now rumoured to be back in the Brecon area.
For those who don’t know the area, Llandegla-yn-Iâl is a village in Denbighshire on the moors to which it gives its name. I often take that route to Wrecsam.
Pursuing a certain line of inquiry recently I came across a business named Fauxdegla Shooting Ground. The name is contrived out of, obviously, Llandegla, and the name of the couple that runs this business, Michael and Deborah Faux.
Michael Ronald Faux of Warrington has a glittering business career, with five other companies listed by Companies House – all of them dissolved. Some without ever filing accounts, and mucho dinero owed to creditors by at least one of them.
Fauxdegla Shooting Ground Limited isn’t in the best of financial health itself either. The most recent accounts show tangible assets of just £60,954, and net assets of £1,099. With Barclays Bank holding a charge over everything.
This lack of (obvious) liquidity might explain the appearance of the caravans a few weeks ago. The word on the street is that they’re connected with the Fauxs. Before writing this I sent Fauxdegla an e-mail asking if the caravans were theirs, but I’ve had no reply.
Irrespective of the caravans, what right does anyone have to come into our country and change an ancient name inspired by a saint? What sort of people are we to put up with this colonialist arrogance?
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 hoping to take a break from shysters and con men, shell companies and money-laundering, lying politicians and stupid officials because my head is aching from banging it against a brick wall.
But there’s no escape. And those who manage Wales – applying a veneer of native control – are not only too stupid to recognise a crook in plain sight but they give or sell them public assets, or they throw money at them, and this is then dressed up as ‘investment’, which allows them to crow about jobs created . . . and this deception encourages them to anticipate being re-elected as a reward for these ‘successes’.
The disparate components of this post begin with a bit of a rant, an acceptance that corruption in the UK is institutionalised (and therefore unlikely to ever be done away with). Then I move on to consider the curious case of Llangefni’s Shire Hall, before ending with a quick roundup of other items.
SHIP OF KNAVES
After years of studying its underbelly I now believe the United Kingdom is corrupt to the point where no serious effort is made to tackle ‘financial crime’. The unstated view of officialdom is that money is money, and no matter where it comes from it still buys things in the same way as clean money. And once it’s in circulation, boosting the economy, who can tell the difference? Who cares?
Money being created out of nothing ties in with the general contempt at the highest levels of the UK Establishment for making things, and exporting them. Grubby, ‘pleb’ activities. Which in turn accounts for the North-South divide within England. And explains why the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the advanced world.
And yet, while manufacturing in general is held in contempt there’s still a nostalgic fondness for high-end, prestige goods. Defended with ‘Best of British’ jingoism. For example, volume car production can go to the wall but let’s keep making Bentley, Range Rover and Aston Martin.
A mindset mirrored even in the military, where the UK’s armed forces are probably on a par with Spain’s, but what the hell – ‘We’ve got nuclear weapons and the SAS’. Rule Britannia!
The obsession with money and some twisted view of ‘only the best’ is exemplified in the City of London, through which passes most of the world’s dirty money. The City of London with its web of offshore tax havens that begin in the Irish Sea and the Channel.
Or step outside the Square Mile to see where the oligarchs, the kleptocrats, and the mass murderers live . . . or maybe they just buy the big houses as investments. We recently read that Isabel dos Santos, described as ‘Africa’s richest woman’, said to have ‘ripped off’ her native Angola, owns a number of expensive properties in London.
Under this system, this mindset, everything is monetised, even education. It’s now easier to gain a degree in the UK than perhaps any other western country. This is due the fact that universities are perceived as being businesses. If you can write your name and remember your address then you’re guaranteed a place at ‘uni’, with further money made from foreign students, who can be charged two or three times the rate for domestic students.
The United Kingdom is a ship crewed by knaves floating on a sea of dirty money. No one with an alternative staring them in the face should want to stay on board.
LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL
Having got that off my chest I’ll turn to a story I first covered back on 6 November. Here it is. In essence, the council on Ynys Môn last year sold the Shire Hall in Llangefni to an English ‘businessman’ named Tristan Scott Haynes.
After reading the BNW article I telephoned Ynys Môn council and spoke with a charming young woman who confirmed that the Shire Hall had indeed been sold 22 August last year. Which made me wonder why there was no media coverage of the sale until November.
Perplexed by this, I decided to come at the problem from a different angle. You may remember that Tristan Haynes had a couple of companies, one of them was Chief Properties Ltd. There are two charges against Chief Properties and both list title number CYM635210, which is different to the title number I’d bought. (Which I now suspect refers to the new county council offices not far away.)
So it was back to the Land Registry website and the new number I’d unearthed. Here it is, title document and plan. Below you’ll see the Land Registry plan with a capture from Google Maps to give a fuller picture.
The first thing that struck me was the size of this site, sold for £150,000 or less. (You’ll see from the links provided that the indent shaded green is the war memorial.) The title takes in the old town hall, the police station and magistrates court, together with a sizeable car park.
And yet, despite the sale having gone through last August, the title is still in the name of ‘Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn’. So why hasn’t it been transferred to Tristan Scott Haynes or Chief Properties Ltd?
You may have noticed that Haynes borrowed the money to buy the Shire Hall from Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheshire. And if that name sounds familiar it’s because our old friends at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, Paul and Rowena Williams, have outstanding debts with the same company. Together is one of those ‘specialist’ lenders to whom people turn when regular banks respond to loan requests with, ‘You must be joking!’
In the NorthWalesLive article in November (and of course the BusinessNewsWales piece last week) we were told that Haynes is the “managing director of Chief Properties” and “also runs a successful haulage firm”. All designed to impress, yet these are are both one-man bands.
Chief Properties was formed in August 2018 and the first director was Nadine Baldwin, who was joined in September by Haynes. Baldwin left the company in December 2018. I’m assuming there was some connection or relationship between Baldwin and Haynes.
When he wasn’t directing the haulage fleet in the temporary absence of Tristan Haynes Jools was the mastermind behind Low Cost Bills Ltd. Though when you look into the figures for this company you wonder what Mayne’s day job might have been.
There was another Haynes company I found, Bullet Strategies Ltd, which lasted about 18 months before being struck off in September 2014. The address given for this company was 8 Howbury Street in Bedford. A terraced house that seems to have been divided into two flats.
Since the November article Tristan Haynes has registered two more companies, both on 4 December. These are, Wasp HQ Ltd and Pine Eels Ltd. Strange names.
On the Companies House website the ‘Nature of business’ (SIC) given for Wasp HQ is, ‘47781 – Retail sale in commercial art galleries; 47782 – Retail sale by opticians;
47789 – Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores (not commercial art galleries and opticians)’.
While for Pine Eels it’s, ‘47789 – Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores (not commercial art galleries and opticians)’.
Which might suggest that Llangefni Shire Hall will be used for art galleries and opticians . . . except when they’re not art galleries and opticians. (Glad we cleared that up.) And yet the article I’ve referred to mentioned a pod hotel and a conference centre. Are they covered by not being art galleries and opticians?
Come to that, why the hell are we talking about opticians?
To recap. The title was bought last August, Tristan Haynes already had his plans for the site, so presumably planning permission has been granted, or at the very least a planning application or a request for a change of use has been submitted to the council.
The land was sold last August, there was a bit of publicity in November (regurgitated last week) and then, all of a sudden . . . nothing happened! Not even a change of ownership notified to the Land Registry.
After I wrote the original piece last November I was sent information on Tristan Scott Haynes. It obviously came from someone who knows him well. If only a fraction of that information is correct then Haynes is a dangerous and unprincipled manipulator.
I have chosen to withhold that information, for the time being. But I still have questions for Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn:
How was contact first made between the council and Tristan Scott Haynes?
Why hasn’t the Land Registry been informed of the sale and the change of ownership that took place over five months ago?
Has the sale definitely gone through?
What contact does the council now have with Haynes?
In the news articles Haynes talks of a ‘pod hotel‘. Does anyone really think that Llangefni needs such a venture?
Or is it to be an art galley – competing with the council’s own Oriel Môn just a short distance away.
And could the town sustain a ‘conference centre’? (Though I suppose the delegates could all stay in the pod hotel.)
Given his ambitious plans isn’t Cyngor Môn concerned by Tristan Haynes’ complete lack of experience in any of the options mentioned?
I know the county council is desperate to off-load this site but elementary checks on potential buyers are easy, cost next to nothing, and can save the vendor both money and embarrassment.
UPDATE 31.12.2020: I received an e-mail yesterday from the young woman I spoke with at Cyngor Môn. She wrote: “The sale was completed on the 22/8/2019. Registration of the Transfer at the Land Registry is a matter for the buyer following completion.We aren’t aware of any planning applications.”
What is going on?
WEEP FOR WALES 16B
Fans of the Plas Glynllifon/Seiont Manor saga (and I know there are many of you out there) will be wondering what happened when Paul and Rowena Williams took their erstwhile buddy and business partner, Myles Cunliffe, before the beak in Manchester a week last Friday.
Here’s some supplementary information I’ve been sent.
“What wasn’t reported first off Paul Williams was actually wearing a suit! with a very bad floral tie
Basically it was a total failure of a application on the Williams side and the judge was not impressed at all, it should never have got to court…….
Because of this Williams had to pay Cunliffe his costs of £6,500 and if it has to go to court again Williams has to pay £10,000 up front to the court because of the cock up
Williams also has racked up a bill of £60,000 with his solicitors which the judge questioned how much and if the figure was even valid!
The Judge agreed to the Companies House stuff to be submitted via Cunliffe because they have said they would do this all along (My guess is the Williams want the codes to do something dodgy)
I even heard that Cunliffe’s solicitor give a quote to Owen Hughes and nothing is mentioned in Article (Though the person who was there didn’t hear the actual quote)
I think Williams still has Owen in his pocket!
Anyway hope that helps”.
It looks as if the Gruesome Twosome miscalculated badly, and so I think we can look forward to many more episodes of Weep for Wales.
THE WOODHOUSE MODEL
Another star who has graced this blog in recent years is Gavin Lee Woodhouse. He built up a portfolio of hotels and then went for glory, accompanied by Bore Grylls, with the highly ambitious Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
The ‘Welsh Government’ obviously thought Woodhouse was a great asset to the Welsh economy. Not only was he gifted hundreds of acres of public land for his Afan Valley fantasy but he was also awarded a £500,000 grant for one of his hotels, the Caer Rhun in the Conwy valley.
It all came crashing down last year when ITV News and the Guardian exposed his business methods. It was basically a ponzi scheme selling individual rooms in hotels.
I can understand Cardiff council wanting to safeguard a landmark building, but is this the way to do it? If this goes the same way as Woodhouse’s empire can Cardiff council be sure of getting its £2m back?
I’m not for one minute suggesting that those running Aston Martin and TVR are crooks, I’m simply using these companies as examples of the poor judgement and profligacy of the ‘Welsh Government’.
The Aston Martin car company has been enticed to St Athan near Cardiff with the promise of lots of public funding; while TVR is supposedly coming to Ebbw Vale as a consolation prize for the doomed Circuit of Wales.
I have a regular contact who is something of a petrolhead and he passes on items that he picks up in the specialist press. One recent tit-bit drew my attention to ‘Taffy66’. Checking his ‘garage’ i.e. the cars he owns, we find 4 Porsche and a Ferrari. Suggesting that Taffy66 is doing quite well for himself. (Perhaps he earns even more than a third sector CEO!)
You’ll see that he describes himself as “a proud Welshman who due to the nature of my business has no choice but to do regular dealings with the WAG”. So why don’t Drakewell and the gang hire him as an adviser. He must know more about business than them and their civil servants. (But come to that, so does my cat!)
The hard news on both Aston Martin and TVR suggests they are struggling financially and are very unlikely to provide the jobs anticipated.
The ‘Welsh Government’ is spending on infrastructure for these companies, and pumping money into them, when it has no real control. A change of ownership and it could be a case of, ‘Wales! Where’s that?‘
No healthy economy was ever built by desperately bribing foreign firms to move to a country. This is nothing more than a colony funding colonialism. Which of course is how colonialism operates.
Water has long been an emotive subject in Wales, Cofiwch Dryweryn! and all that. But too many are lulled into silent acceptance, or even support, when the sirens sing of ‘renewable’ and ‘green energy’, seemingly blind to the fact that exploitation and colonialism come in many forms.
Last October in, Wales, with us but strangers, I wrote about the troubling case of the hydro scheme at Ystradffin, near Rhandirmwyn, below the Llyn Brianne reservoir. It’s a fascinating story, I strongly advise you to read it.
The latest news is that the locals are getting angry. For despite originally promising great financial benefits for the community the developer (whoever that might ultimately be) is now offering just £1,000 a year according to this BBC Wales report.
Though the version in Welsh paints an even darker picture. It talks of environmental damage, no local jobs, and of a BBC film crew being ‘challenged’ and then pursued, even though the crew was on public land!
At Ystradffin we have the involvement of a number of English companies, with a Czech company doing the work. Then there is the possibility of Russian funding, and UK government involvement. Quite a story, with the Welsh involvement being limited to the water.
This is real colonialism, almost medieval. Strangers march into our country and set up a ‘Taffy-keep-out’ zone. The ‘Welsh Government’ probably wasn’t even consulted. (And knows better than to ask.)
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 never thought I’d be saying this, but following the previous post on the sale of the Shire Hall, we are staying in Llangefni!
The old town took a bit of a hit last month with the closure of the Marco Cable Management plant. Losing 40 jobs may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but in a small town like Llangefni it matters a lot. And just a few years earlier there had been more than 70 working there.
An old friend back in Swansea was moved to write to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ asking if Marco Cable Management had received any public funding. Or rather, how much funding, because it could almost be guaranteed that funding was provided as an inducement for the company to set up on Ynys Môn in 2003.
The reply he got from the Department for Economy and Transport (Prop. K. Skates) can be read here. You’ll see that the company received at least £1,191,771.68. In addition, there was funding from the county council and HSBC.
Though it was the parent company Marco Gearing Ltd that received the funding. Which I thought was a bit odd, so I went to the Companies House website to check on them both. I learnt that Marco Gearing Ltd was formed in April 2002, while Marco Cable Management Ltd was born July 2003.
Something else I thought was odd – though it probably explains the funding going to the parent company – was that throughout its existence Marco Cable Management Ltd, the name under which the factory operated, was a dormant company.
MARCO GEARING LTD
Let’s start at the beginning, with parent company Marco Gearing Ltd. What does the name mean? Who or what is Marco? And does ‘Gearing’ refer to a gear system on a car or machine or is it used here in the financial sense?
From the start on 9 April 2002, Lillian Turner MacGregor of Betws yn Rhos, Abergele was a director of the company, with chartered accountant Philip Matthew Deakin as secretary, but he left 24 May. (Deakin has been involved in many companies since Marco Gearing.)
Deakin was replaced by Andrew Ian MacGregor as secretary, and in November the family group was completed by Ian Charles MacGregor coming aboard as the second director. For I suspect that Ian Charles is Lillian Turner MacGregor’s husband and Andrew Ian is their son.
July 2003, coinciding with the launch of Marco Cable Management Ltd, saw both a major share issue and Terry Deakin of Colwyn Bay joining the board. After Deakin’s arrival the share distribution was 230,000 with Ian Charles MacGregor, 120,010 with Lillian Turner MacGregor and 50,000 each with Deakin and his wife Janet.
Deakin’s other active directorship was with the National Zoological Society of Wales, better known as the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay. Though he had been in business for himself with a number of companies. It could be that the Deakin we met earlier, who served briefly as secretary, is his son.
There were two further appointments to the board of Marco Gearing on 22 April 2010. These were Bernard James Pigott (the ‘Brian’ of the video?), and Paul Stewart Diggins of Buckinghamshire, who may have been the sales director.
MARCO CABLE MANAGEMENT LTD
Turning to Marco Cable Management Ltd, the sole director, from Incorporation 17 July 2003 was Lillian Turner MacGregor, with Andrew Ian MacGregor as secretary.
There were just 9 shares and these were held by Mrs MacGregor, with what appears to be a further issue of a single share a year later in 2004.
And that was it, the company filed accounts for a dormant company every year, there were returns filed showing the shareholder, and then, on 18 May 2017, we saw the MacGregors step down and two new directors arrive. These were Carl Edward Jones and Paul Graham Merrick.
So who are Messrs Jones and Merrick, who also joined Marco Cable Management Ltd on the same day?
THE YANKS ARE COMING!
On 7 July 2017 all the shares in Marco Gearing Ltd were transferred to Unistrut Ltd of West Bromwich. (Though it took until 11 April 2018 before the information was notified to Companies House.) Unistrut Ltd is a subsidiary of Atkore International, of Chicago.
Which means that some time between May and July 2017 the Llangefni factory of Marco Cable Management Ltd was taken over by an American company – but no one seemed to notice! Or rather, there are a number of references to the takeover in the specialist press – here, here and here – but I can find nothing reported in the ‘Welsh media’.
Didn’t our Welsh journalists know? Did the workforce in Llangefni know? Did the council and the ‘Welsh Government’ – both owed money by the Marco group – know that the decision on whether a Welsh factory closed now lay with faceless men in Chicago?
The MacGregor family sold out to an acquisitive and ruthless US corporation that they must have known would soon close down a competitor in a peripheral location. Did they feel no obligation to the workers who had given so much?
It seems that Carl Jones, who joined Atkore in 2011 has spent the years since then acquiring UK companies such as Marco Cable Management Ltd for his American bosses. The most recent would seem to be Modern Associates Ltd. Again, working with Paul Merrick.
And we have no defence whatsoever against predators like these. I’m surprised they didn’t ask the ‘Welsh Government’ for a grant to close down the factory. I’m sure they would have been given one.
THE ‘WELSH ECONOMY’.
So another factory closes, more Welsh workers lose their jobs, Cyngor Ynys Môn has lost money, so has the ‘Welsh Government, and there remain two outstanding debentures held by HSBC Bank against Marco Gearing Ltd (which might account for the ‘liabilities’ in the graphic above).
Just another paragraph in the ever-growing volume ‘How Not to Run an Economy’, by the ‘Welsh Government’.
I’m writing this on the day that Citizen Woodhouse made the news again. The man who bought Welsh hotels then sold the rooms off individually with the promise of huge returns. A child of four could have seen that he was a con artist, but the ‘Welsh Government’ promised him £500,000 for his Caer Rhun hotel near Llanrwst, and then, because they lack the critical reasoning of a four-year-old, those clowns down Corruption Bay gave him a few hundred acres of public land for his Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
In the previous post we looked at the sale of Llangefni’s Shire Hall to The Man From God Knows Where* who, according to North Wales Live, is a wheeling-dealing miracle-worker set to bestow the riches of the Orient on poor old Llangefni.
Elsewhere we have zip wires, or hippies, or retirees, or social dumping, or . . .
There’s room, and funding, jobs and housing, for everybody . . . except us Welsh.
I’m told that the Brummie manager of Transport for Wales’ Machynlleth depot has just hired an apprentice – from Blackburn! Despite any number of local lads wanting the job.
Wales is being overrun and colonised but never mind, let’s suck up to Guardian readers by doing a deal with the party that will back a minority Tory government and revoke the Government of Wales Act.
Down south the news is no better. TVR will not be coming to Ebbw Vale, and Aston Martin is about to go belly-up. Cardiff airport is in the wrong place – but never mind, let’s pour in more public money.
Decisions made by arseholes. And hypocrites. The kind of people who condemn others for withholding the truth or subverting democracy while protecting themselves and their lobbyist and third sector friends by refusing us the truth on the circumstances surrounding Carl Sargeant’s death.
Wales doesn’t need any more elections or referendums, what we need is a revolution of the soul, to reject this whole stinking colonialist system, and those down Cardiff Bay who profit from maintaining it.
Regular readers will be familiar with the Weep for Wales series of posts which has proved to be so popular in many circles.
It all started in June last year, soon after I received reports on the behaviour of Paul and Rowena Williams, who had run the Knighton Hotel (Knighton) and the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne. They owned other pubs and hotels over the border.
Both Powys establishments had closed following their alleged sale to convicted fraudster and acquaintance of the Williams couple, Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge, in February 2018. For by now the couple had moved up to Gwynedd, where they’d bought the imposing Plas Glynllifon.
The series continued with further reports and reached Weep for Wales 11 on December 3. In a couple of updates to that post I introduced Myles Andrew Cunliffe, who seemed to be taking over the Williams’ businesses in north Gwynedd.
I was preparing for Christmas when, on the 22nd or 23rd, I received a letter from a Chester solicitor demanding that I take down everything I had ever written about Paul and Rowena Williams. Here’s the letter and my response.
The arrogance of this letter was breathtaking – did they really think that after all the information people had given me, and after all the research I’d done, I would just throw my hands up and say, ‘Fair enough, I’ll scrub it all’.
My next mention of Plas Glynllifon and those associated with the old pile was in Weep for Wales 11a, of February 5. With Weep for Wales 12 coming out on March 18.
Then, on March 26, I received a letter from Myles Andrew Cunliffe, hand delivered after dark. Here’s the letter and the envelope.
That it was delivered by hand suggested this was a, ‘We know where you live’ kind of letter. I mean, seeing as Cunliffe had my address he could have put a stamp on the envelope and posted it.
The letter itself was a rambling attack on me and my “slanderous and dangerous blog”. Apparently I had attacked Cunliffe, threatened him, and put his family in danger. Absolute bollocks. I’d never even mentioned his family . . . unless he’s related to the Williams gang.
Uncertain of who or what I was dealing with, and how far Cunliffe and his associates might be prepared to go, I pulled Weep for Wales 12 together with Weep for Wales 11a and the updates to Weep for Wales 11.
Throughout the Weep for Wales saga I’d received strange and menacing comments to the blog. Towards the end of June these took a more sinister turn when I was told, “I know where you live expect a visit soon keep looking over your shoulder”. (Punctuation!)
This was reported to North Wales Police, who were given the background and context. I made it clear that I didn’t wish to make a case of it yet, but I wanted my concerns logged. Everything is now on record.
I have put back the updates for Weep for Wales 11, plus Weep for Wales 11a and Weep for Wales 12. I did this because I’m just too old and too pissed off to be threatened by shyster lawyers in border towns enjoying a parasitic relationship with my homeland and the ‘businessmen’ they represent.
That said, if anyone can prove that something I’ve written is incorrect then, fair enough, I’ll make the necessary changes. But anyone demanding that I take down everything I’ve ever written might as well enclose an application form to join the Labour Party.
Solicitor’s letter and application form will be treated equally.
As you’ll know, this blog has two main themes: the first is exposing the corrupt and incompetent politicians and others to be found in Cardiff Bay, county halls and other locations across the land; with the second being investigating the shysters who come to Wales to enrich themselves at our expense, be they the parasites of the poverty industry (third sector), or out-and-out crooks like the Williams gang.
These two strands should be separate, but no, for they have a symbiotic relationship.
‘Welsh’ Labour encourages the poverty industry in order to provide jobs for party cronies, the favour returned by the third sector painting a picture of poverty that can be blamed on ‘London’/Tories in order to keep people voting Labour.
The utter incompetence at all levels of officialdom in Wales and the inability to build up an economy results in magic bean salesmen flooding over the border to grab the grants and anything else that might be on offer – this to be dressed up by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ as ‘investment’, and jobs.
In the BBC report I’ve linked to about the Afan Valley Adventure Resort you’ll see that Woodhouse and his imaginative business methods were investigated earlier this year by ITV News and the Guardian. It had to be this way because the mainstream media in Wales either gave Woodhouse a free ride or else acted as cheerleader.
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but apart from this blog and Econews West Wales I don’t think any media platform or outlet in Wales questioned Woodhouse’s bona fides. That’s because, with a few exceptions, the ‘Welsh media’ operates in a colonialist fashion by relaying the London line while not stirring up the natives with too much bad news, relying on press releases from the likes of Woodhouse, Cunliffe and Paul Williams to pad out the business pages.
So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that just before Paul and Rowena Williams washed up at Plas Glynllifon Woodhouse had been sniffing around, but pissed on his own chips when his company MBI Hotels announced that the place was to be renamed ‘Wynnborn’.
Very soon after this debacle Woodhouse resigned as a director of MBI Hotels, returning in March 2017 after the company had been renamed Giant Hospitality Ltd.
For like so many others I write about, Woodhouse is or has been involved with over a hundred companies, which keep changing their names.
And it’s made so much easier for them because Wales is so corrupt, because officialdom is so inept, because Wales has no functioning media, and no effective political opposition.
I believe Wales is in such a mess, with things about to get even worse, that somebody has to tell it like it is. That’s why I do what I do. And that’s why I shall now start work on Weep for Wales 13, which will be published next week.
It’s going to take a considerable amount of work because so much information has piled up in recent months. Anyone with information on any of the players can contact me at email@example.com.
Any lawyer considering getting in touch on behalf of any of the stars in this series really should think again. Anyone minded to issue threats can rest assured that they will be reported to North Wales Police.
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
‘COME AND JOIN US, COME AND JOIN US . . . ‘
A rather strange story surfaced recently suggesting that Helen Mary Jones, who replaced Simon Thomas as Plaid Cymru regional Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales last August – after Thomas was convicted of possessing child pornography – may not have been a paid-up party member when the spotlight picked her out.
The suggestion was made in the satirical magazine Lol, which appears for every National Eisteddfod.
Plaid Cymru’s response was, “Helen was and is a member”. Which is no doubt true, but it avoids answering the question of whether she was a member when she was called up to replace convicted paedophile Simon Thomas.
(If a regional seat becomes vacant during an Assembly term, then the person who was next on the list at the time of the previous election is offered the seat first.)
There was certainly a delay in Helen Mary Jones accepting the job, which she put down to a reluctance to leave her post as deputy director at the (Rhodri) Morgan Academy at Swansea University. (A ‘chair’ in the Welsh national game of musical chairs that involves politics, the third sector and academia.)
This was always a lame excuse, and while lapsed membership seems incredible, Jones did admit that it happened.
Though as you can read for yourself, she attributed the membership lapse to moving house, with this resulting in standing orders with her bank being cancelled. But why would moving house affect standing orders?
No, it looks very much as if Helen Mary Jones let her membership lapse and the delay in her taking up the AM role was due to Plaid Cymru covering up this fact. Which then poses the question: If Helen Mary Jones had let her membership lapse was it because she’d lost faith in Plaid Cymru, had there been a bust-up, or was she thinking of joining the Labour Party?
Anyway, the story gets even curiouser because I am informed that the next candidate on the regional list, Vicky Moller, had also neglected to renew her membership.
Had Jones and Moller both let their membership lapse, and therefore been ineligible to replace Simon Thomas, the fourth name on Plaid’s 2016 slate for Mid and West Wales was Freddie Greaves, scarcely a household name in his own household.
Which makes me wonder what the hell is going on in Plaid Cymru. A party that can’t even hang on to its candidates would appear to be in serious trouble.
ON YER BIKE! . . . OR WHATEVER IT IS
A Pembrokeshire source tells me that the county’s roads will soon see three-wheeled taxi-style vehicles. If I’m vague on the exact terminology it’s because Pembrokeshire County Council seems a little unclear as to what it’s dealing with.
But now, the Licensing Officer argues that any three-wheel motor vehicle meets the criteria set out in 2005. Alert readers will have noticed that somewhere along the way the pedals have been lost.
Which opens the door to a Tuk Tuk, shown in image 3; or even a three-wheel motor cycle with a massive engine such as we see in image 4.
You know me, I’m always reluctant to criticise officialdom, but I suggest that in this instance, what was approved in 2005, was clearly a pedal cycle-type vehicle with a supplementary electric engine; not a Tuk Tuk, nor a Harley Davidson on three wheels.
Over to you, Licensing Committee. Be guided by the fact that while they may both be Italian, and begin with the letter F, a Fiat is not a Ferrari. And when it comes to three-wheel vehicles the disparity can be even greater.
STOP PRESS: I hear that there may be a re-think going on down Tenby way.
SAINT SULIEN’S CHURCH, SILIAN
Nationalists of a certain vintage will be familiar with this church, just outside Lampeter. For in its graveyard is buried Julian Cayo-Evans of the Free Wales Army.
I was told that the church is up for sale, so I thought I’d better check with the family before putting anything up on this blog. I did, and it’s true.
There was a hope of turning St Sulien’s into a community centre, but I hear that plan has fallen through due to the dilapidated state of the building and a lack of interest locally.
Obviously, the church itself is of neither architectural merit nor interest to us, but the graveyard should be significant to all who seek Welsh independence. I would therefore urge that a watching brief be kept to ensure that the churchyard remains accessible to those visiting graves.
I give this warning because I know another church that was sold off by the Church in Wales, along with its graveyard, not far from where I’m sitting now. The new owner (the place is a holiday home) makes it difficult for people to visit graves on ‘his’ property.
Since when I’ve received more information about Woodhouse, much of it directing me to snippets about hotels of his being put into receivership. Such as this report, about Caer Rhun in the Conwy Valley and the Fourcroft in Tenby.
Though some who’ve got in touch say I’ve overlooked other characters in this saga. Two in particular.
Let’s start with Robin Scott Forster. One contact would have it that, Forster was, ” . . . his business partner that was with him every step of the way and actually gave him the in, into North Wales”. (Or as I might have phrased it, ‘the in into the inns in North Wales’.)
Finally, on 1 August, Shelton even became a director of three companies bearing the ‘Woodhouse Family’ element in their names.
It seems clear that Shelton got involved when the shit was already heading towards the fan. Now why would he do that? Seeing as he’s from the same area as Woodhouse is he helping out a friend?
I feel sure I’ll be returning to the Woodhouse empire in a little while. For even though the one-time leading man may no longer be treading the boards the play continues.
Anyone with information on Forster or Shelton is welcome to contact me.
LEANNE WOOD, THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
The deposed leader of Plaid Cymru worries that Stop and Search is racist. Why, she wonders, will more young black males be searched “than wealthy, middle class regular cocaine users”.
Shall we tell her, boys and girls? It’s cos Stop and Search is about knives not drugs!!
Though maybe she has a point, so let’s broaden the demographic to include elderly white women . . . visiting Inuit . . . Peruvian trade delegations . . . rabbis (Orthodox and Reform) . . . or Salvation Army people – for everyone knows that uniforms mean weapons. Come to that, and to prove their impartiality, why don’t the police search themselves?
Better still, why not have the police searched by young black males?
Or how about this – if there can be a citizen’s arrest, why not a citizen’s search? Now that would be fun!
Bottom line: Starting from a different political direction to Leanne Wood, I also wish things were otherwise. But facts is facts.
Santes Leanne has also called on us to support US leftist thugs Antifa who, apparently, need our solidarity “now more than ever”. Not because of anything planned by the “far-right”, as she alleges, but because the US government is considering declaring Antifa a domestic terrorist organisation.
Here we see another example of any moderate voice opposing the far left automatically becoming ‘far right’ or ‘fascist’.
More worrying is that Leanne Wood’s supporters within Plaid Cymru would like to bring Antifa to Wales. The signs are there for all to see, but too many people in Plaid Cymru feign blindness.
In an earlier post I drew attention to a Welsh Antifa sticker in Cardiff, around the same time I picked up on a Plaid Ifanc tweet about Antifa. And someone from Undod was wandering around the Caernarfon rally on July 27 with Antifa stickers, affixing them to the backs of those she decided were ‘fascists’.
(Plaid Ifanc is the party’s youth wing, and Undod is a group refusing to accept independence unless they can organise the purges and decide who gets the one-way ticket to the gulags.)
The image below shows, working clockwise from the top left: the ‘Wxm’ (Wrexham) Antifa sticker in Cardiff – with the dragon facing the wrong way!; the disrespectful use of our patron saint on the Cachupostio FB page; the Antifa stickers girl behind the Undod banner at Caernarfon; the Plaid Ifanc Antifa tweet . . .
While, finally, at bottom left (appropriately), we find the inspiration for it all – Antifa stormtroopers in the USA ready to sally forth and beat the living shit out of anybody who disagrees with their mantra of love, peace and inclusivity.
I know who the Antifa sticker girl in Caernarfon is and I know her affiliations. Those behind the infantile Facebook page are to be found in Cwmtawe and Neath. One of them, a chubby youth, made the headlines a while back when he became the youngest town councillor in Wales. Despite being members of Plaid Cymru their loyalty is to Leanne Wood not the party.
Following Wood’s humiliation in last year’s leadership contest, rather than accept that they represent a minority view within Plaid Cymru (and are rejected by the population at large), these Leannistas carry on as if they are the voice of the people with a monopoly on the truth. If you can convince yourself of that, then it stands to reason that anyone who questions you must be a fascist.
They claim to be part of the independence movement, but they’ve jumped on this bandwagon for the same reason they were drawn to Plaid Cymru when Leanne Wood was leader – because it offers a platform for them to promote their extreme brand of socialism with its divisive add-ons, all of which should be extraneous to a campaign for Welsh independence.
If Antifa is declared a domestic terrorist organisation in the USA, then these juveniles, and their older mentors, could prove to be a great embarrassment to Plaid Cymru.
This wouldn’t bother me in the least, Plaid would deserve all it got due to being so weak; but the independence movement is too important to be damaged by the stunts of puerile extremists.
The ‘divided loyalty’ allegation is regularly made by all sorts of people, and is almost inevitable given that many US Jews have dual nationality. But what Trump actually said was that Jews who vote Democrat are disloyal to the USA, and are also disloyal to Israel.
It’s a way of saying that true Americans vote Republican. Whether you like it or not, that’s US politics. The Democrats in the USA, like the Labour Party here, get most of the immigrant and minorities vote.
For the record: Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Jewish. Kushner is a senior adviser at the White House. Trump himself has always been a strong supporter of Israel.
But let’s return to Leanne Wood.
She’s obviously wrong to call the President “anti-Semitic”, and I’m not sure that what she’s attacking is “Orwellian doublespeak”, or “gaslighting”.
Though she’s entirely predictable in seeking to defend the Labour Party.
‘WELSH’ LABOUR’S WAR ON FARMING
Throughout the twenty years of devolution the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government in Cardiff Bay has, time after time, proved its hostility to Welsh farming and to Welsh farmers.
In the small print it becomes obvious that Welsh farmers will have to like it or lump it. In fact, it’s been spelled out by a couple of those involved in the purest meme sahib manner.
Listen to Natalie Buttriss, the Director of Wales for the Woodland Trust, a partner in the Summit to Sea rewilding project, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’ programme last October. (N.B. ‘of Wales’, not, for Wales.)
And if you need further convincing of the kind of people we’re dealing with, their attitudes and their motivations, then watch this video of Rebecca Wrigley of Rewilding Britain talk about the Summit to Sea project.
Inevitably, the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ has gone along with this Clearance programme, partly because, bizarrely, too many socialists in Wales identify with middle class English people rather than with hard-working Welsh farmers.
This colonised mindset is regrettably not confined to the Labour Party. You only have to press the magic ‘Environment!’ button for some in Plaid Cymru to view our farmers as fascists in wellies – SummonAntifa!
The latest Labour Party assault on Welsh farmers comes in the form of new legislation regarding the use of fertilisers, effective from 1 January 2020. The report below is from the Tivy-Side Advertiser and the image of dead fish clearly feeds into the ‘farming destroys the environment’ narrative.
Clearly, no one wants to see dead fish, but what the ‘Welsh Government’ is proposing goes way beyond measures needed to avoid spillages. It could be interpreted as part of a wider strategy. Or even a pincer movement.
For on the one hand the ‘Welsh Government’ is promising to reduce funding for farmers, but with this new legislation it makes farming more expensive. This will result in farmers being forced out of business.
Which in turn frees up more Welsh land for recreation and rewilding; taking us ever closer to the ultimate objective of ‘Playground Wales’. England’s playground, of course; with us Welsh marginalised, if not removed entirely.
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 this post I want to pull together a number of threads without, I hope, complicating the story too much.
Let’s start by going back to this post I wrote last December and scroll down to the section headed ‘The left betrays Wales, again’. What I tried to explain was the recent history of the Tower Colliery site since deep mining finished in January 2008.
I wrote that the closure was followed by a short period of opencast mining, to extract some six million tons of anthracite coal. This began in May 2012 and ended in March 2017, when new environment regulations meant that Aberthaw power station could no longer take Tower’s coal.
Tower Colliery Ltd is ultimately owned by Goitre Tower Anthracite Ltd. The 488 Goitre shareholders are I assume former miners and the relatives of former miners. With the maximum individual holding apparently limited to 8,260 of the 2,164,075 shares.
With open cast mining finished, what is to become of this high and windy, but scenically attractive, area?
The answer would appear to be . . . zip wires!
‘TOP O’ THE WORLD, MAM’
The title of this section is taken from that great film noir, White Heat, and the line spoken by Cody Jarrett, played by James Cagney, before the gas tank on which he’s standing explodes. (Obviously, in the movie, Jarrett says ‘Ma’, not ‘Mam’.)
I use it because Rhigos can give that top of the world feeling. And that’s where we are, on the A4061 that makes its way from the A465 Heads of the Valleys road down into the Rhondda. On the map below you’ll see, marked with a red cross, the Rhigos Viewpoint, a large lay-by giving superb views over the surrounding country.
Not only that, but in bad weather the Rhigos Viewpoint serves as a temporary depot for Rhondda Cynon Taf gritting lorries, allowing them to travel in both directions and avoid the climb up from their regular depots in the valley below.
Why then was the Viewpoint recently put up for sale?
We see that the online sale document is dated 27 June and Lesley Griffiths’ letter to Lee Waters AM is dated 16 July. Between these dates concerned locals noticed the sale, someone living in Llanelli contacted his AM, Lee Waters, who wrote to Ken ‘Flint Ring’ Skates; the civil servants in Cardiff or wherever realised they’d been rumbled, pulled the advert, and Lesley Griffiths replied to Lee Waters denying any sale.
Returning to Rhigos . . . If we look at this image of the viewpoint and lay-by we see, centre right, Craig y Llyn, the jumping-off point for one of the three planned zip wires.
Maybe the real question is, if the Rhigos Viewpoint is to be included in the Zip World project, why was it advertised for sale clearly hoping nobody would notice? Was the plan for it to be bought by some intermediary who would then profit from selling it on to Zip World?
But that suggestion hints at corruption – naughty boy, Jac! – and this is Wales, where corruption is unknown.
And while the plans shown in the WalesOnline report for the car park, toilets and office accommodation clearly refer to the property owned by Tower Colliery (scroll down to the plan), I believe the Zip World project goes way beyond what is owned by the former miners and their families.
UPDATE 02.08.2019: A message reaches me saying that the advertisement was no ‘mistake’ but was in fact the ‘Welsh Government’ covering its arse by meeting its legal requirements. The land can now be handed over – to Zip World? – and the WG can say, ‘We advertised it, but no one was interested’.
But it’s not that straightforward, for at the foot of the final page of the most recent accounts we read that, “Due to the shareholdings in place at ZWPV Limited, the directors consider Sean Taylor to be the ultimate controlling partner”. That is, Sean Wallace Taylor.
So, if not a one-man band, then the Zip World companies would certainly appear to be under the control of a single individual. And it gets a little more complicated when we look at this new parent company, ZWPV Ltd.
There are six other directors, who all give as their address, ‘Zip World Base Camp, Denbigh Street, Llanrwst, Wales, LL26 0LL’. But for head honcho Taylor, the address given is, ‘8th Floor, One Central Square, Cardiff, United Kingdom, CF10 1FS’.
And among the directors giving the Llanrwst address is Giles Alexander Thorley, who joined the company 21 February 2019. This is odd, because Thorley is CEO of the Development Bank of Wales. So either he’s moonlighting or else he’s there in an official capacity. I hope it’s the latter, which probably means Thorley’s there representing the ‘Welsh Government’.
But let’s return to Taylor’s Cardiff address. Seeing as parent company ZWPV has its address in Llanrwst like everything else and everybody else, why would Taylor’s individual address be in Cardiff?
Or to put it another way, who else might we find on the 8th Floor at One Central Square to explain Taylor using it as his address? Well, the whole floor is the domain of solicitors Blake Morgan, a company that of course has many clients, including the ‘Welsh Government’ and its various agencies.
Which makes a certain sense, and other pieces are falling into place as I write this to support that presumption.
Before moving on to consider what might really be happening up at Rhigos I want to go back to ZWPV. (What does the ‘PV’ stand for?) It was Incorporated 24 October 2018 with Sean Taylor holding the only share. On St David’s Day there was an allotment of over 14 million shares, including 92,500 preference shares.
Companies using the term ‘Nominees’ have, or find, investors who remain anonymous.
So if I’m following this thread properly: the main Zip World companies are now huddled under the umbrella of ZWPV Ltd controlled by Sean Wallace Taylor who, through an agreement with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd, is looking to sell shares to investors who will remain anonymous.
There are a number of other companies bearing the ‘LDC Parallel’ name, numbered I to VIII, with all but the last of them based in Aberdeen.
Finally, we learnt earlier this month of another interesting figure who has joined the Zip World board. This being Greg Evans, who, as this blurb tells us, is . . .
“A former US Navy Petty Officer and Centrica Energy Director of Nuclear and Renewables, he is recognised as a thorough leader in safety leadership in both nuclear and renewable power generation.
His work in renewables saw him leading major infrastructure project (sic), including the design, development and commissioning phases of the £1.2 billion Lincs Wind Farm.”
Intriguing. Though like me, I’m sure you’re wondering why a man with a background in nuclear and renewable energy has joined a tourist operation like Zip World.
I think the answer lies in: ” . . . to strengthen the management team and take the business to the next level”. With the emphasis on ‘next level’. Which might be another way of saying diversification.
One disturbing possibility pulls together Evans’ background in the nuclear industry and the fact that Zip World uses quarries and mines. Could this be about the storage of nuclear waste?
HOW MIGHT IT ALL FIT TOGETHER?
OK, so what’s the big picture?
A company that has been well favoured by the ‘Welsh Government’ in its northern ventures has decided to move south. Details were announced in February this year and probably accounts for the reorganisation in the Zip World group.
Also, in October last year, both Zip World Ltd and Zip World Fforest Ltd cleared charges with Finance Wales Investments (10) Ltd. Seeing as Giles Alexander Thorley, CEO of the Development Bank of Wales, is also a director of FWI (10) Ltd, maybe these charges had to be cleared before he could join the revamped set-up in February this year.
Though note also the involvement of Blake Morgan.
Let’s take another look at the layout of the land at Rhigos. It will help explain what I believe is planned.
The picture below is taken from the Viewpoint looking looking west. It shows the ridge of Craig y Llyn, from where one of the zip wires will start, and below it lies the lake to which the name refers, Llyn Fawr. (There’s a Llyn Fach further over.)
You’ll notice that one side of the lake is straight, and that’s because it’s a reservoir, as is Llyn Fach, they both supplied Tower Colliery.
It’s time now to introduce someone you’re probably familiar with. Someone else who can be found on the eighth floor with Blake Morgan.
So is he involved at Rhigos, has Sharrock’s gaze been distracted from Mumbles? Of course, sharing the Cardiff address with Sean Taylor of Zip World could be pure coincidence, but I think not.
For while we all associate Mark Shorrock with tidal lagoons, he is a man with fingers in many pies. There’s quarries, for a start, such as Dean Quarry in Cornwall, from where he hoped to get the stone for the Swansea lagoon wall.
Another ‘pie’ is renewable energy; solar, wind and pumped storage. And companies such as Shire Oak Pumped Storage (Llanddulas) Ltd, which was struck off in April. This is a fate that befalls many of Shorrock’s companies. The boy’s had some bad luck.
Which may be why the ‘Welsh Government’, in the form of Carwyn Jones (remember him?), promised to chip in with £200m when the UK government shafted his plans for Swansea Bay.
A local source tells me that at one time there were no fewer than seven Shorrock companies on the third floor. Though getting information on them from either the council or the university proved futile, they always had an excuse.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR RHIGOS?
Whether Shorrock has teamed up with Zip World or not at Rhigos I’m certain that the ‘Welsh Government’ is involved because, through Natural Resources Wales, it owns so much of the land up there; including the two lakes, the escarpment and the forests.
But even if Shorrock is not involved, if his being at the same Cardiff address as Sean Wallace Taylor is pure coincidence, then whatever is planned for Rhigos still goes way beyond zip wires.
The clues are there:
There’s the reorganisation of the Zip World group towards the end of last year.
Then the new company linked up with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd to find secret investors.
We have the CEO of the Development Bank of Wales becoming a director of the new Zip World parent company. (To look after ‘Welsh Government’ interests, in the form of land and assets to be handed over?)
Then there’s the curious aborted sale of a prime piece of property in the form of the Rhigos Viewpoint that saw a ‘Welsh Government’ Minister misleading us.
Finally, a new director joins Zip World very recently who has no experience in tourism, but whose field of expertise is nuclear and renewable energy.
To understand what I think is happening at Rhigos you have to remember that the ‘Welsh Government’ has massive assets in publicly-owned land, much of it held by Natural Resources Wales, which of course took over Forestry Commission land. Forestry managed by NRW accounts for 6% of the total area of Wales.
There is pressure from various quarters to ‘monetise’ these assets, and if that can be done behind a green smokescreen then so much the better. We see it all over Wales in forests where thousands of trees have been felled to make way for wind turbines and the roads serving them. More damage is done in building, transporting and erecting wind turbines than they ever recoup in their short working lives.
The high ground at Rhigos provides the perfect opportunity to ‘monetise’ some NRW assets. There may indeed be zip wires, but they won’t come alone. There will be cabins, maybe a hotel and other facilities, perhaps wind turbines and some scheme involving Llyn Fawr and Llyn Fach. Perhaps even the storage of nuclear waste.
With the package dressed up as an ‘adventure resort’ such as Gavin Woodhouse promised for the nearby Afan Valley. For, remember, with the M4 and the Heads of the Valleys road providing access, plus almost two million people within 40 miles of Rhigos, there is a much bigger customer potential than for any venture in the north.
Whatever is planned for Rhigos, the ‘Welsh Government’ should pause and ask itself what it’s getting involved in, and with whom. For example, is there any concern over ZWPV’s anonymous backers?
If Shorrock’s involved, then is he being thrown a bone for losing out on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon? And if so, do we owe him anything?
And if we’re going to give honesty a romp in the summer sunshine, then maybe we can also have explained to us the relationship between the ‘Welsh Government’ and its assorted agencies on the one hand, and certain favoured Cardiff legal firms and people like Sean Wallace Taylor and Mark Christopher Shorrock on the other?
How do it all fit together, innit?
To conclude; my reading of the Rhigos situation is that deals are being struck in the background, with our assets; and this will result in some people making a lot of money, yet once again, we, the Welsh people, will lose out.
But this is unavoidable in a colonialist environment when the local political class can be dictated to by their colonial masters and also wound around the fingers of the money men.
An independent Wales run by such people – or those hoping to replace them – would see us receiving food parcels from Venezuela. And they’d probably celebrate such shows of ‘solidarity’.
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’ve promised Weep for Wales 13, and I’m working on it (there’s just so much to process), but fresh information on Gavin Lee Woodhouse justifies another post on the wonder boy of the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. (The AVAR website is ‘currently under maintenance’.)
It is understood by all that Woodhouse operates by selling. or more usually leasing, rooms at hotels he owns. Had he been able to proceed with the Afan Valley Adventure Resort then he would have been selling/leasing more hotel rooms there, plus lodges or cabins. In fact, they were already being advertised, even though nothing’s been built. So have any been sold?
In my earlier piece I also said that I was unable to find the title document for the Fishguard Bay Hotel on the Land Registry website. I kept getting a ‘too many titles’ message which I attributed to rooms having been sold.
A recent comment to this blog assured me that the title document could be found, and eventually – by a counter-intuitive method I won’t bore you with by explaining – I did find it.
It tells us that the Fishguard Bay Hotel (actually in Goodwick) was bought 13 July 2017 for £966,720 by Wyncliffe House Hotel Ltd (formerly Fishguard Bay Hotel Ltd) a company formed 1 May 2016. We see that the company was formed over a year before Woodhouse actually bought the hotel, so presumably he was in negotiations. Or even on site prior to purchase?
If you scroll down on the title document you’ll see that leases for 45 rooms were sold in 2017. All of them 125-year leases, and irrespective of the date of sale all leases started on New Year’s Day.
Now obviously I couldn’t buy the title documents for all the rooms, so I limited myself to five. Which was enough to pique my curiosity. For the titles I bought, the prices range from £45,000 to £70,000.
All bar one were sold between 13 July 2017 and 28 September 2017; with the outrider sold 13 March 2018. Which could suggest impressive sales techniques, or even buyers already lined up.
Of the five, just one hints that it belongs to a genuine, small-time, private investor. This was the title document for an SSAS, which stands for Small Self-administered (pension) Scheme. The other four – certainly, three – looked iffy.
Judge for yourselves with the panel below made up of the relevant details from four of the five room title documents supplied by the Land Registry.
The top two, one in Slovakia and the other in Poland, are impossible to check. They could be genuine buyers or they could be names plucked out of thin air, or from some database.
The two on the bottom supply UK addresses, but even so, something’s not right. The one on the left gives a Dubai address and ’24 Cheapside, Wakefield’. The one on the right gives a Welsh address, but also uses the Wakefield address. So what do we find at 24 Cheapside?
It’s a commercial building, with a number of tenants, among them the ‘Williams & Co’ mentioned in the document for the Dubai buyer. This is a firm of solicitors and everything seems to be kosher. My one concern being that the website does not give a Companies House number.
And then I stumbled on Williams & Co (Cleckheaton) Ltd, a company formed in January 2018. It’s registered at the address given on the Williams & Co website, with two directors and a further two shareholders.
Also found at 24 Cheapside, Wakefield is Immigration Advice Service (IAS), whose website, some might think, tries to give the impression that IAS is a UK government department, but it is in fact a private company.
Though, curiously, under ‘Nature of business (SIC)’, for IAS Companies House has: “69109 – Activities of patent and copyright agents; other legal activities not elsewhere classified”. What the the hell do patents and copyright have to do with immigration advice?
Immigration Advice Service was also registered as a charity, number 1033192. In fact, the company may be a ‘phoenix’ that grew out the defunct charity.
The cynic in me thinks that a company like IAS would be a great source of names and addresses for potential overseas buyers for hotel room leases . . . or even just names and addresses.
Others may argue that I’m clutching at straws here, but Woodhouse once had a company called MBI Immigration Services Ltd. So at the very least, he would appear to have shown interest in this line of business.
Let us head north now, to the Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy valley.
Let’s go straight to the title document, where we see that this hotel was bought for £1,500,000 with a loan from North West Asset Finance Ltd, which has a registered address in Todmorden, Lancashire, hard up to the frontier. I have stood there myself more than once and gazed into Yorkshire.
North West Asset Finance is hardly a rival to the big boys, for it’s a one-man band and the solitary director is Robert Ashley Hall. All the shares are owned by Shays Assets Ltd, another Hall company that takes its name from what I assume to be his home address, Shays Farm, near Skipton.
Both companies were formed 11 February 2014, around the time Woodhouse embarked on his hotel-buying spree. While the accounts suggest that the only real asset may be the money loaned to Gavin Woodhouse to buy Caer Rhun.
Which made me wonder whether Hall and Woodhouse are known to each other. Sure enough, they are in business together. In a company called Gramra Ltd, formed by Hall 2 January 2018, which Woodhouse joined 13 June 2018.
When we look at who owns the shares in Gramra we find that at least half are owned by Woodhouse through the company Woodhouse Family Ltd, which has the controlling interest.
Woodhouse Family Ltd, where we find Gavin Woodhouse as sole director since his wife resigned last month when the shit hit the fan. For this company is alleged to have been the ultimate depository of some investors’ money, rather than the companies to which the money was ostensibly paid.
Returning to Caer Rhun, we find that 125-year leases have been sold on 57 rooms. Again, I downloaded the title documents for just five, and in price these range from £75,000 to £170,000. All were sold between July 2016 and August 2017.
The buyers we find in Bristol, Birmingham, and rather more exotic locations. Here are the three beyond these shores. Even if we accept that the one on the left refers to a UK couple living in Spain, that still leaves buyers in Italy and Taiwan.
To have so many overseas buyers is not in itself cause for alarm, but I can’t believe that someone in Taiwan or Dubai or Slovakia woke up one bright morning and said to himself or herself, ‘I know! – I’ll buy a hotel room in Wales!’
We all know about Arab sheikhs and Russian oligarchs paying millions for London mansions, so is a room from which you can watch the Rosslare ferry the fag-end of the market?
Joking aside, maybe the real questions are:
Do these overseas buyers really exist?
If they do, did they really pay any money or are their names being used?
And if they did pay money, where did that money come from?
And where did it go?
As far as I can make out, Gavin Lee Woodhouse, through his various companies, owns six hotels in Wales. It’s reasonable to assume that the same business model of selling the leases on individual rooms is found in all of them. That is certainly the case at the Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby (aka Carmarthen Bay Hotel) and the Belmont Hotel in Llandudno.
I want to focus on the Belmont.
From the title document, we see that it was bought in 2015 by MBI Heritage Hotel Ltd (now Belmont Hotel Ltd) for £381,250. Though in the latest accounts it’s valued at £2.62m and shows a profit of £1.55m. Though as the Guardian told us, the increased valuations on other hotels are even more dramatic.
At the Belmont, leases for 26 rooms were sold, all of them in an impressively short time in 2015, so another gold star for the sales team. I haven’t bought any title documents for these sales because I’ve already splashed out £36 on Woodhouse, and I’m sure the picture will be little different to what we found at Fishguard and Caer Rhun.
But what appears to be different at the Belmont is, first, that Woodhouse does not own the Belmont (I think it’s owned by Mostyn Estates), he only leases it. Which means he’s selling leases in a property he himself leases.
Which raises the question of whether Mostyn Estates Ltd is aware of this interesting development. Or whether it’s even legal.
But why would Woodhouse need to take out loans on the Belmont, a property he’s leasing, and for which he’s more than covered his outlay with the sale of the rooms?
Whatever the answer, Mysing is based in Wakefield, on Woodhouse’s patch; where we earlier saw hotel room buyers linked to the Wakefield solicitors, Williams & Co. The latest unaudited abridged accounts for Mysing paint a very healthy picture, with net current assets of £16,501,830 and total net assets of £1,475,344. The difference accounted for by creditors owing £14,977,000. Creditors, presumably, like Gavin Lee Woodhouse.
But from where does Mysing Capital – a company only formed in July 2014 – get that kind of money? ‘Unaudited abridged accounts’ tell us very little. And it’s perfectly legal.
There’s no question in my mind that the directors of Mysing Capital are known to Woodhouse, and that these ‘loans’ may not be the kind of loans you or I are familiar with.
UPDATE 15.07.2019: Mysing Capital links with a string of Mysing companies, many of which are in the care home business (as of course was Woodhouse). But these other companies seem to have been formed after Mysing Capital.
Which still leaves the question of where the original Mysing Capital money came from.
In addition to the loans and mortgages taken out with Mysing towards the end of last year Woodhouse took out other loans around the same time, these with the equally mysterious Fiduciam Nominees Ltd. Why do I call this lot ‘mysterious’?
Well, after reading this at the foot of their website, how would you describe them?
“The content of this website has not been approved by an authorised person within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Fiduciam does not enter into regulated credit agreements within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001.”
Fiduciam is a lender of last resort. If your bank turns you down you go to a company like Fiduciam. Which, as the Companies House entry tells us is in the business of ‘financial intermediation’.
This means that it finds borrowers for people who have money to lend. We can see who the borrowers are, but who are the lenders? Well, if we go to the latest available accounts, we read at the bottom of page 10:
Now don’t get me wrong, what Fiduciam and BWCI do may be perfectly legal (in an offshore kind of way), but – as with Mysing – where does the money originally come from that they loan to people like Woodhouse?
In the case of Fiduciam we’re asked to believe it’s pension funds, but in practice there’ll be few questions asked if a drugs baron, oligarch or member of a third world kleptocracy washes up in the Channel Islands looking for a good investment for his ‘pension pot’.
What we can say for certain is that in December last year, the nearest vehicles Woodhouse has to parent companies, Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd and Giant Hospitality Ltd got themselves heavily indebted to a company that finds desperate borrowers for offshore lenders whose money could come from anywhere.
Why did he need the money? Was it for the Afan Valley venture? If so, then Woodhouse is now well and truly up that narrow waterway known colloquially as Shit Creek, with his business model exposed in the mass media, creditors beating on his door, and the Afan Valley Adventure Resort a fast receding dream.
Though the local council leader in Neath Port Talbot is bewailing the loss as though it’s somebody else’s fault! But then, that’s ‘Welsh’ Labour for you – always somebody else’s fault.
My response was summed up in a tweet I put out on Saturday to accompany the article: “Listen, Rob, if you and your @WelshLabour mates down Corruption Bay had done the basic checks into Gavin Woodhouse and @Afan_ValleyAR you would have laughed him away and wouldn’t be ‘disappointed’ now. You’ve got no one to blame but your council and @WelshGovernment.”
When I first encountered Gavin Lee Woodhouse I thought he was a bit of a lad who’d over-reached himself. (As opposed to an out-and-out bastard like Paul Williams who ‘succeeded’ him at Plas Glynllifon.) Now I worry that there may be darker elements to his business ventures.
The foreign buyers for so many of his hotel rooms certainly start the alarm bells a-trembling. As does the lack of information about his financial backers.
But then, as I’ve said before, this is business, this is finance – English style. Where the City of London sits at the centre of a web of offshore tax havens and money-laundering centres that welcome anybody’s money. Once it’s in the system, with the origin disguised, that money can be used anywhere.
The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are the oldest, and nearest of these centres.
But this does not excuse the ‘Welsh Government’, which obviously did no due diligence into Woodhouse before giving him £500,000 for Caer Rhun and then welcoming him with open arms when he ventured to the Afan valley.
Unless of course they were over-ruled from London. (It happens regularly.) Which would make them complaisant rather than gullible. Is that an improvement?
So it’s good-bye Gavin Lee Woodhouse, and hello, . . ?
For you can guarantee that the next Gavin Lee Woodhouse is already here spinning his lies and courting the politicians. And he’s not alone.
In Return Journey Dylan Thomas goes home to a blitzed Swansea searching for the places and people he knew. Eventually he reaches Cwmdonkin Park, where the park keeper responds to his questions about a boy from long ago with, ‘I’ve known him by the thousands’.
I’m beginning to feel like that parkie, due to all the crooks infesting our country. They keep coming because we have thick-as-shit politicians more concerned with shagging and back-stabbing than with making Wales honest, healthy and prosperous.
I am indebted to an anonymous source for the basis of the tale you’re about to read. I’ve contributed some supplementary digging and a number of interpretations. The original information I received was also sent to a couple of police forces, a number of media outlets, and other agencies, but I doubt if any will act on the information, so it’s up to Jac to extend his scrawny old neck, again.
Let the story begin in the pleasant little border town of Presteigne. To be even more specific, in the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, a half-timbered building dating back to the late 16th century.
As told to me . . . this establishment was bought in 2006, or thereabouts, by a Paul Steven Williams for a price close to £400,000. It was then leased to a succession of tenants at an unreasonably high rent, with the predictable result that none of the tenants was able to make a go of it.
The last of these unfortunates seems to have been Gianni Roberto d’Aniello of Cora Berry Hotels Ltd. A company registered in January 2014 at the Radnorshire Arms, and put into the hands of Cardiff liquidators in November of that same year.
But then! when all seemed lost, this by now neglected building was sold in August 2015 for the princely (and surprising) sum of £3,487,049 to Leisure and Development Ltd, a company with an address in nearby Knighton. A company Incorporated only a few months earlier on 19 January 2015.
The founding directors of Leisure and Development Ltd were Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams. The charge referring to a loan from NatWest Bank suggests that the Radnorshire Arms had been transferred to Mrs Williams prior to the sale to Leisure and Development Ltd (see panel below).
UPDATE 21:52: It may be worth spelling out that the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was sold by Rowena Claire Williams to Leisure and Development Ltd (Directors: Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams) for at least twice what the property was worth. This is very odd; I mean, how can you ‘sell’ something to yourself?
Something else that struck me about Leisure and Development Ltd was the number of changes of address it saw in such a short time. Incorporated January 2015 with an address at the Knighton Hotel, Broad Street, Knighton; then in February 2016 to just over the border in Craven Arms; in February 2017 the company re-crossed the border from Craven Arms to Plas Glynllifon, Caernarfon; and finally, in April 2018, it moved back to Craven Arms.
There’ll be more on Plas Glynllifon and other properties in north Gwynedd later. They can’t be ignored because Plas Glynllifon Ltd now owns all the shares in Leisure and Development Ltd, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you who the directors are of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Though they have ceased to be directors of Leisure and Development Ltd.
But the Williamses still own Leisure and Development Ltd through their ownership of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. It’s one way of operating – set up a company, then set up another company, resign from the first company but retain ownership through the second, then set up a third company, resign from the second, and so ad infinitum.
The person now nominally in charge of the Leisure and Development Ltd portfolio, named on the Companies House website as “person with significant control” from 30 April 2018, is Keith Harvey Partdridge. An interesting character, Partdridge, of whom more in a short while.
Though I suspect that spelling may be a recent affectation, if not a mis-spelling, because he has previously been known by the more usual spelling of Partridge. As in Museums (Norfolk) Ltd and Health Choice Hotels Ltd, both of which appear to be dormant.
Another example of Partridge’s business acumen, or perhaps his probity, may be found with Turnholly Ltd, owing some two hundred thousand pounds to various creditors.
SO WHO’S WHO AND HOW ARE THEY CONNECTED?
Well, we’ve met Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams, and I’ve also introduced their business partner Keith Harvey Partridge. And as I suggested, Partridge has a colourful past.
From 1992 to 1997 he owned the Midlands Motor Museum in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. But towards the end of 1999 he was jailed for stealing a Bentley Azure worth over a quarter of a million pounds. In March 2008 his home was up for sale with an asking price of £2,000,000.
But the Williamses are no paragons of good business practice either. Despite being repeatedly warned they carried on advertising the Radnorshire Arms as having AA and Visit Wales ratings, until they were eventually fined £1,250 with £4,250 costs.
(Incidentally, let me make it clear that despite the name the Williamses are not Welsh. They describe themselves as ‘English’ (not British) on documents submitted to Companies House, and I’m told that Paul Williams is a particularly unsavoury Kipper.)
In terms of companies, so far we’ve encountered Leisure and Development Ltd and Plas Glynllifon Ltd, plus some of Partridge’s solo ventures. Now it’s time to list a few others, without I hope causing too much confusion.
Paul and Rowena Williams were directors of Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd, also listed among the directors was their company Leisure and Development Ltd (which bought the Radnorshire Arms Hotel). Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd is now run by their associate Michael Adrian Jones, with his address given as Polvellan House in Cornwall.
On April 1 Jones – who owns all the shares since they were transferred to him from Leisure and Development Ltd – made an application for Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd to be voluntarily struck off, but someone objected and the strike-off has been suspended.
I understand that Rowena Williams was outraged on finding that some scallywag had pinned the notification to the front door of the Radnorshire Arms.
A similarly named company is Rural Retreats and Development Ltd, of which Paul and Rowena Williams are both still directors. Former directors were Debra Yvonne Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister, and Polvellan Manor Ltd. There are a number of Charges against this company for loans and mortgages, including one against the Fronoleu Country Hotel at Tabor, just outside Dolgellau.
The mortgages, or more likely second mortgages, are with Together Commercial Finance Ltd, which seems to offer the commercial equivalent of pay day loans to those who find it difficult to raise money anywhere else.
After pissing people off in Caernarfon and beyond with his insulting ‘Wynnborn’ nonsense Woodhouse seems to have sold out to the Williamses and turned his gaze south. After linking up with Bore Grylls and then – to give the project some credibility – Peter Moore, former MD of Center Parcs, he unveiled the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
Quite an ambitious undertaking for a man who was then six million quid in debt, but the ‘Welsh’ Government gave the trio everything they wanted – land, planning permission, infrastructure, money, you name it.
It’s impossible to know what the future holds for the four properties around Caernarfon, we can only be guided by the record of those who now own these fine old buildings. And that record is not encouraging.
A FEW WORRYING FACTS
Since April 16 the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne has been closed. On Monday 16 April staff were told by Paul Williams that Leisure and Development Ltd – comprising seven pubs, hotels, restaurants – had been sold to Coast 2 Coast and was being ‘re-branded’.
In other words, convicted thief Keith Harvey Partridge had somehow managed to raise“more than £10 million pounds” Williams claimed the deal was worth. Partridge whose companies are either in debt or mere shells.
On Sunday April 22 Partridge appeared in person at the Radnorshire Arms to tell staff that all the company’s establishments would be closed for 6 – 8 weeks for refurbishment. Staff were being laid off but could reapply for their jobs later. Over 70 staff were affected at the various locations.
Nothing has since been done to the Radnorshire Arms, and no planning application has been submitted. The building has instead been gutted and left to decay. There are broken windows and slates have fallen into the street. This, remember, is a 16th century, Grade II listed building.
In saying that the Radnorshire Arms has been “gutted”, what I mean is that it has been stripped of everything that can be sold off. The panel below is taken from the latest accounts for Leisure & Development Ltd submitted to Companies House at the end of April. Or rather, the unaudited financial statement.
You’ll see that between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2018 almost seven million pounds worth of plant and machinery plus fixtures and fittings somehow slipped off the balance sheet. Leaving the companies assets confined to freehold property, in other words, mere structures, decaying structures, all of them mortgaged and re-mortgaged, and perhaps overvalued.
Earlier I mentioned Polvellan Manor in West Looe, Cornwall, now owned by Polvellan Manor Ltd. On April 1 Paul and Rowena Williams transferred the 5000 shares they each owned to Keith Partdridge. They ceased to be directors on the same day, leaving Partdridge in sole control.
Paul Holden, chair of the Cornish Buildings Group, told the CL reporter, “We have applied unsuccessfully to get the building listed, the rejection notice said that much of the historic interior had been lost.” I wonder where the interior could have gone? Did it just walk out the door?
The Fronoleu Country Hotel, just outside Dolgellau, is now closed, just like Polvellan Manor and the Radnorshire Arms. So is the Beaufort Sports and Social Club in Ebbw Vale. I guarantee that most if not all of the properties owned by this gang are closed. What sort of business can this be?
And here’s a thought . . . has anyone from Cyngor Gwynedd or the ‘Welsh’ Government been inside Plas Glynllifon lately?
Another thought; by stripping and neglecting these buildings the gang is almost certainly breaking the conditions of the loans and mortgages, the conditions that insist these buildings be properly maintained and looked after. Intact.
And what do the insurers think of this behaviour?
UPDATE 14.06.2018: Here are the letters received by the staff at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the other establishments owned by Rural Retreats and Leisure Ltd. The first from Rowena Williams of RRL and the second from Keith Partridge of Coast 2 Coast. (Here in pdf format.)
According to these letters the deal was done 1 February, so why did it take eight weeks to inform the staff?
Note how optimistic Rowena Williams sounds, “At the moment we do not have any more information that (sic) what we have shared with you except that they (Coast 2 Coast) want to move quickly in order to be open for the summer period”.
But the Williamses have been dealing with Partridge for years, and they knew exactly what the plan was.
And as for the “summer period”, well, it’s mid June, Whitsun has come and gone, and in the northern hemisphere it is now definitely summer . . . but the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the other establishments remain firmly closed, with no sign of them opening any time soon.
How could anyone ever trust these people?
COUNT THE SPOONS!
You’ll have noticed that Paul and Rowena Williams and their sidekick Partridge buy property almost indiscriminately, and then they just strip them to the bare bones and let the buildings deteriorate.
This is because they have no interest in actually running hotels. The racket is to buy a property, with a loan or a mortgage; announce a big investment, lots of jobs; then strip the building of anything valuable; sell it on within the gang at an inflated price (or simply transfer it); dissolve indebted companies; pull down whatever grants are available, use these grants and new loans to service old loans; while paying yourself handsomely behind this fog of deceit.
With all the debts accrued, this is a house of cards. Collapse must surely be imminent.
Consequently, to have any dealings with these people would be foolish. To give them money would be insane. And yet, this is what I’m told has happened, and probably explains why they’ve moved their operations to Wales. For it’s claimed the gang has already received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government, with more in the pipeline.
I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to Visit Wales, but I have already been told that the Radnorshire Arms received a grant of £370,000, plus a smaller grant; while the Knighton Hotel (formerly Norton Hotel) received an even larger grant.
God knows how much they’re getting, or anticipate getting, from their foray into Gwynedd.
In case anyone is in doubt, let me make it absolutely clear: These people are liars, chisellers, scammers, asset-strippers, con men, crooks; so cut off all public funding immediately and demand repayment of what they have already received; insist on a thorough inspection of the buildings they ‘own’; and then refer them to the police.
Weep for Wales that we keep attracting people like these, scavengers drawn to a fallen beast. A once noble beast brought down by a colonial system that will always favour strangers, and exploitation; a system that will never encourage native initiative lest it gives us ideas about our place in the great scheme of things.
This system, and those who promote and operate it, must be swept away. Do that and I won’t have to write about Paul and Rowena Williams, Keith Partridge, Bore Grylls, Gavin Woodhouse and the occupying army of which they are just a small detachment.