An afternoon jaunt

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

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

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

And so off I went in a north easterly direction.

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

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

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

Llyn Tryweryn. Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Summit to Sea, who’s behind it?

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

The piece below comes from a source that has always proved reliable, an astute observer of the Welsh political scene, particularly as it affects our rural areas.

The suggestion being made is that, while I have focused on George Monbiot and his associates, these arrogant and avaricious colonials may in fact be working for or are being manipulated by serious money. In fact, enough money to virtually buy Wales!

Our guest writes . . .

A politician once said that ‘today is a good day to bury bad news’ and got in a bit of trouble for it.

Brexit seems to be a driver for this within public life at the moment. Firstly we had the Brexit and Our Land consultation that provided a proposed shift to public goods, having already moved from agricultural payments based on head count, to land payments (with a bit of environment) to what could be described as a half and half position.

Alongside this, Summit to Sea turned up. Without wishing to impolite, it was a class act in how not to engage with a group of stakeholders absolutely critical to the success of the project. This has continued with the chronological account provided by Jon Coles.

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When you look behind Summit to Sea at its funders at the Endangered Landscapes Programme you’ll see a recipe used, and highlighted by Jac many times over. Identify an ishoo (even embellish it a bit) propose the resolution and get the money together. The problem is that this time, they’ve met with some serious resistance. Instead of the proposed beneficiaries being passive, rolling over and having their bellies rubbed, the shearing clippers are out for the dreadlocks.

The crux of the matter is that Summit to Sea never really got into a true engagement exercise with the farming, forestry and fishing community or their representative organisations and paid the price. Aside from doing a bit of work with its NGO partners, it’s going nowhere. The danger is now that as with other forms of stakeholder engagement work, they will go the rent-a-crowd route to validate this and carry on regardless.

When you look deeper into the structure of this initiative, it becomes a bit more interesting, for the funder of the Endangered Landscapes Programme is Arcadia. One of the co-founders is Dr. Lisbet Rausing who in turn is a Director of Ingleby Farms and Forests.

Now, the important piece of narrative here is that Ingleby ‘owns and farms over 100,000 hectares in nine countries.’ They are the largest single land owner in Romania and the largest foreign owner of pastoral land in New Zealand. If you really want to scare yourself shitless, have a gander at the Wikipedia references for the business.

So, rewind to the farmers meeting in Talybont and it was stated, by representatives of the Summit to Sea, that the project is not interested in buying land. Absolutely correct!!!! It isn’t. It is about creating the conditions by which this could be facilitated. The Ingleby trading portfolio contains the very products within the Summit to Sea area – lamb, wool, beef and timber. I haven’t quite worked out the link with the sea part of the equation, but maybe they have ambitions to move into shellfish.

I almost feel a sense of smugness that Monbiot and his cohorts are being used or even exploited for commercial gain. One thing I am sure of is that there has to be a co-ordinated, forceful opposition to this project in its current guise. We’re missing the bigger picture and if our Government is unable to recognise and reject this type of scheme in Wales, it may as well tear up the Well Being of Future Generations Act and turn the lights off on their way out.

My real fear however is that this type of scheme provides environmental and food production policy outcomes for Welsh Government with no or little impact on the public purse. It’s a win-win for them and their weaknesses in natural resource management leaves the door wide open.

In the context of a loss of EU structural funds and farm payments, instability in the food processing sector and of course Brexit per se, we are heading into a perfect storm and towards that day to bury bad news.

UPDATE 21.10.2019: The BBC reports that Rewilding Britain has withdrawn from the Summit to Sea project. I remain to be convinced. But if if it’s true, then it’s due to the almost total rejection of the scheme by local people.

Which is why it was strange to read Plaid Cymru leader on Powys county council, Elwyn Vaughan, say, “I am hopeful that (Rewilding Britain’s withdrawal) marks the start of a successful partnership between the people of mid Wales and Summit to Sea.”

But then, Plaid Cymru has always had a soft spot for ‘environmentalists’ from over the border.

♦ end ♦

Jac chips in . . . I consider Summit to Sea part of a package with the tasteless forms of tourism spreading across the land like a plague; the colonisation being encouraged by house building (coupled with the refusal to tackle second homes and related matters); and then the latest ingredient, the National Development Framework, that I wrote about here.

Combine them and a clear picture picture emerges of a countryside emptied of its indigenous population serving as a recreation and retirement area for England. The only ‘farming’ allowed will be granny farming, in care homes under the zip wires flying over land rewilded by Monbiot’s backers.

And look! – there beneath the canopy, it’s Bore Grylls leading a party of accountants from Milton Keynes who’ve spent six hours stalking a squirrel! With those blacked up faces I just hope they don’t run into any Leannistas!

Joking aside, I can’t help but notice that Ingleby Farms and Forests has sheep farms (stations?) in Australia and New Zealand. Wouldn’t it work out just dandy if Welsh competition for the UK market could be eliminated?

Alternatively, Ingleby might want to take a slice of Welsh farming. A big slice.

Either way, it will be done with the grovelling assistance of the ‘Welsh Government’. Our quisling regime down Corruption Bay.

 

Weep for Wales: a statement

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.

Paul and Rowena Williams. Click to enlarge

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.

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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.

Myles Andrew Cunliffe. Click to enlarge

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!)

(Here’s a link to the comments received to the notice put up in place of WfW 12.)

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.

A perfect example would be Gavin Lee Woodhouse, of whom I have written more than once. He first appeared on this blog in April 2017. Woodhouse was welcomed with open arms; not only was he given hundreds of acres of public land in the Afan Valley for the ‘Adventure Resort’ he planned with Bore Grylls, he was also awarded a grant of £500,000 for the Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy Valley, one of a number of hotels he owned in Wales.

‘Is there anything else you’d like, Mr Woodhouse, sir?’ Click to enlarge.

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 editor@jacothenorth.net.

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.

Stay cool!

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