A guest post on . . . YesCymru!

I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.

This week’s offering is a short guest post on an organisation currently providing a great deal of entertainment and amusement. To which I’ve added a contribution of my own.

You only have to remind yourself of the sort of people now running this three-ring circus to immediately understand why so many people are spellbound.

I am of course referring to YesCymru.

Now read on . . .

With the dust and smoke from YesCymru’s AGM on 22 May still thick on the social media battlefield, we can now look forward to another election to the Politburo. This time it’s for the post of Secretary, and first out of the traps is Scott Mackay from Swansea.

Scott’s brief moment in the sun on Twitter as he announced his decision to stand quickly clouded over as he was reminded of some of his more recent pronouncements:

In other words, those unhappy with the direction the movement has taken are just a bunch of far-right fashies, with their “almost entirely baseless” complaints.

Whatever message Scott chooses for his campaign, it seems pretty clear that he does not see himself as a unifying peacemaker.

It won’t surprise readers to learn that Scott has the enthusiastic support of our old friend Aled Williams (and Teifi by proxy):

With an endorsement from the man who has done more to wreck the independence movement than anyone else alive, Scott should be home and dry.

UPDATE (by Jac): Scott Mackay yesterday issued an apology . . . of sorts.

The last week was not without its lighter moments as whoever is handling the movement’s Twitter account mysteriously announced “What a great idea” in response to a tweet that many members found themselves unable to read.

It turned out that the message called on members to meet up in railway stations to campaign and that it came from Rachel Cooze, one of the recently elected central committee members. La Cooze and YesCymru had momentarily forgotten that, in a demonstration of her commitment to inclusivity, she has blocked a huge swathe of the membership from her Twitter account.

Complaints rolled in from disgruntled punters who had never had any interaction with her, but had been blocked anyway.

The effect that this has on potential new YesCymru members when they discover they have been blocked by a senior representative of the movement is not hard to predict. Whatever Rachel Cooze’s objectives are, maintaining and growing the membership are not on the list.

Perhaps recognising that using a personal Twitter account to transact YesCymru business has its drawbacks, Ben Gwalchmai recently announced he was setting up a second account to deal exclusively with YC matters.

Ben has set his Twitter account to autodelete every 24 hours, but an eagle-eyed passer-by did manage to spot this intriguing message on his personal account (you know, the one that doesn’t deal with YC matters):

“KatieMonVie” is a peripheral member of the group which has risen to prominence within YC, but she won’t be joining YC until it has been purged of all transphobes, TERFs, fashies, etc., etc.

So what had rattled her cage?

After a little prompting, Katie revealed that the dodgy, ableist, transphobic and now homophobic committee member concerned was Niki Jones, and that Niki’s latest crime was to like a tweet from someone wondering why Aled Williams seems to have become the voice of the Indy movement:

Fair enough, “the don” could have used slightly more polished English, and the use of “it” was either a little careless or just a clumsy attempt to use inclusive non-binary pronouns, but a lot of people are asking the same question.

Clearly, Ben made a note of this outrage, and no doubt the matter will be raised when the central committee undergoes compulsory diversity and inclusivity training:

The movement’s new LGBTQ+ three-step process was excitedly announced by Comrade Gwalchmai as an example of his drive for increased “transparency and professionalism” by the movement’s leadership.

Quite how this will make the Politburo more transparent, let alone professional, is not clear, but only cynics would see this new process as a mechanism for weeding out members and committee members who are found guilty of being on La Cooze’s blocked list.

Meanwhile, writing from London where she edits Bricks Magazine, “an independent queer led publication rerouting the intersections between fashion and our precarious social systems”, another member of the central committee, Tori West, has announced that she is going on strike less than a month after being re-elected:

Ymlaen!

— ♦ —

Jac adds . . .

Those being written about here used to depict me as some rare and malevolent presence. A lone voice howling into the void.

In the past few months they’ve been made to realise that not only I am not alone, but that they are far less popular than they once believed. With the result that Twitter accounts have been closed, tweets deleted and, as we saw with Scott Mackay, apologies issued.

These things would never have happened just a few months ago when Aled and Teifi could saunter around Ceredigion cocking their legs against ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ walls and growling at Dr Dilys Davies.

(But it couldn’t last. She’s back. Come on, where’s she gonna post her selfies?)

Not only is a pillar of their belief system collapsing as Stonewall is dismantled, but in addition they draw the contempt of decent people because so many of them are just very unpleasant. And extreme in their beliefs.

Our guest writer referred to YesCymru Central Committee member Rachel Cooze blocking people on Twitter. Many of these would have committed the crime of following me. For Cooze and some allies went through my Twitter followers requesting they stop following me.

But someone Cooze or one of her allies contacted went even further.

Who the hell is ‘Tess’, linked with #SavetheNorthernMeadows, and why is she saying these lies about me? She doesn’t even know me!

The answer is that she is Tessa Hannah Marshall, of Cardiff, and clearly involved with the Save Cardiff Northern Meadows campaign. Her Linkedin profile tells us that she’s part of the UpRising Leadership organisation, an English third sector body that views Wales as a region of England.

More specifically, Marshall seems to be involved with the Environmental Leadership Programme (ELP). But now it gets a wee bit odd.

The plan to put the new Velindre cancer centre on Cardiff’s Northern Meadows is ‘Welsh Government’ policy. Yet the UpRising / ELP presence in Wales is in partnership with Labour-run Cardiff City Council, and is a ‘delivery partner’ for the Future Generations Commissioner, who is of course Labour time-server, Sophie Howe.

‘Diversity’, ‘inclusion’. Now where have we heard that? Click to enlarge.

Are Cardiff council and the Future Generations Commissioner helping protesters against a ‘Welsh Government’s policy? Or is this some cunning game in which the Labour Party is on both sides, and therefore can’t lose?

Or another example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?

Either way, yet more Welsh public funding is wasted on Woke-Left-Green ‘activists’.

It might be significant that Tessa Marshall has written for the Undod blog, because in its short life Undod has become the mother church for leftist extremists in Wales.

No doubt I shall be attacked for ‘harassing’ or ‘doxxing’ Tessa Marshall. Because in the demi-monde of the Woke-Left people can be slandered with impunity; ‘targets’ can be vilified, and in other ways attacked. But defend yourself, or expose what ugly people they are, and the pack will feign outrage before turning on you.

After studying those involved in trying to take over YesCymru, and slander anyone who dares to criticise them, I detect three categories.

First, we have those claiming to be socialists, even communists. Often embittered individuals who maybe can’t understand why their 2:2 in Media Studies didn’t land them that £70k job.

Second, we have the sexuality / gender-obsessed. These can be ‘uncomfortable’ gays and lesbians. They can also be confused young people, and even those who have transitioned.

Third, we have those who pay lip service to the causes espoused by Categories 1 and 2 but also enjoy saying and doing things to outrage people. (As long as Mam and Dad don’t find out!)

Members of Category 1 exploit members of Category 2 who regard members of Category 1 as friends and protectors. Many of both Categories see themselves as involved in some noble crusade. While those in Category 3 are just there for the craic.

If you put them all together you’d be hard-pressed to find many rounded, reasonable, and successful individuals in sound mental health.

And that’s why their hold on the indy movement must be broken.

♦ end ♦



Wales, colonialism and corruption

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.

What honest and self-respecting country would welcome and even celebrate kleptocrats like these? Click to enlarge

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.

My piece was prompted by an article I’d seen on NorthWalesLive. I’m returning to it now because the article reappeared in BusinessNewsWales again last Thursday. Repeated word for bloody word.

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.

Having bought the title document for the Shire Hall when I wrote last November’s piece I was surprised to see that ownership for title CYM716217 was attributed to the council. So I went back to the Land Registry website last week and bought the title document again, assuming that it would now have been updated to show the change of ownership; but as you can see, the council is still listed as owner.

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.

Almost a map of Israel (inc West Bank) with Afon Cefni serving as the River Jordan. And the Masonic Lodge on the border. Click to enlarge

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.

The ‘successful haulage firm’ is Falcon Transportation Ltd. Incorporated 3 July 2015 and seems to have bumped along, doing very little since then. Haynes was the original director but stood down 1 February 2018 to be replaced by Julian Mayne. Haynes made a triumphal return in February 2019 the day after Mayne left.

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.

Both of the Haynes companies are based at these imposing offices on Tavistock Street in Bedford. The building is owned by husband and wife David and Michelle Munday, whose company, Orchid National Nursing Supplies Ltd, would appear to use the building as a warehouse.

135 – 137 Tavistock Street, Bedford. Click to enlarge

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.

Although the company correspondence address for both is the Orchid warehouse on Tavistock Street the address given for Haynes himself is 33A St Peter’s Road, which suggests he might now be living above Bedford Dental Surgery.

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.

Well, no.

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?
  • Were background checks done by the council; checks that, for example, would have unearthed Haynes’ conviction and imprisonment on Malta?
  • Who recommended selling this land to Haynes?
  • Who authorised selling this land to Haynes?
  • Has the council been paid the agreed sale price?
  • 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 the report that appeared in NorthWalesLive.

When I read the suggestion of illegality and fraud I was so shocked I had to reach for the smelling salts. Click to enlarge

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.

Click to enlarge

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.

The same business method is now being employed in Cardiff by the owner of the Coal Exchange. For obvious reasons investors are getting edgy, as this report from last November tells us. And concerns persist, as this report from last Friday confirms.

And yet, despite selling rooms individually being a discredited business model favoured by crooks, Cardiff council has agreed to give £2m to the Coal Exchange ‘developer’.

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?

VROOM VROOM

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!)

Click to enlarge

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.

Salvation for Aston Martin might come in the form of Chinese investment, but whether Geely would still go ahead at St Athan is a moot point. As for TVR, the specialist press is very sceptical about the company’s future, with the latest news being that the roof on the Ebbw Vale factory is leaking!

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

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!

Ystradffin, Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

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.)

♦ end ♦

 

‘Do you know where your child is tonight?’

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 have borrowed the title of this post from a number of campaigns run by police and other agencies trying to either reduce anti-social behaviour or else protect children by getting parents to take more responsibility.

But what happens when the children are no longer with the parents? I’m thinking now of cases where the children are, supposedly, ‘in care’.

One case came to light recently of a child from Cardiff claiming to have been assaulted at a home to which he’d been sent in Swansea. The family took the case to local councillor and AM, Neil McEvoy, who sought answers . . . and, as usual, Cardiff’s Labour council turned it into a case against Neil McEvoy!

It says a lot about Wales and its political culture that, ‘I want a straight answer’ can be twisted into ‘intimidating behaviour’. But that’s where we are with the colonial management team we know as the Labour Party.

GRASSROOTS (CARDIFF) LTD

Registered as both a charity (1110186) and a company, this is a mechanism for Cardiff Labour Party to exert influence in the care sector. Described on the Charity Commission entry thus:

THE PROVISION OF A CITY CENTRE FACILITY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE SUFFERING SOCIO ECONOMIC DEPRIVATION WHO REQUIRE ASSISTANCE TO HELP AND EDUCATE THEM THROUGH LEISURE-TIME ACTIVITIES SO AS TO DEVELOP THEIR PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL CAPACITIES THAT THEY MAY GROW TO FULL MATURITY AS INDIVIDUALS AND MEMBERS OF SOCIETY AND THEIR CONDITIONS OF LIFE MAY BE IMPROVED.

The Charity Commission entry further informs us that, unsurprisingly, Grassroots (Cardiff) Ltd operates only in Cardiff. As it is both a company and a charity company directors serve as charity trustees

The group was launched in February 2004 and since then a number of Labour luminaries have served as directors, none more luminescent than Albert Huish, long-serving Cardiff councillor and Lord Mayor. Huish joined in April 2006, when he was 92. He died in 2009.

One who’s been with Grassroots since the start is Councillor Iona Gordon. Other Labour councillors have served as directors but Labour loyalties are not always easy to discern. Even so, it’s reasonable to view Grassroots as almost a department of Cardiff City Council.

And when you see names like Marco Antonio Gil-Cervantes and Siobhan Corria then you know you’re at the country crossroads where the third sector sold its soul to the Labour Party one dark night.

Someone else who was in at the start was Paul Anthony O’Donnell, stepping down as a director 28 February 2013, by which time he had branched out on his own.

PRIORITY CHILDCARE LTD

Though he was in business for himself when he joined Grassroots. One company was Paul O’Donnell and Associates Consultancy and Training Services Ltd, formed in December 2001 and dissolved 30 June 2015 with an outstanding debt with HSBC. Another O’Donnell company co-existing with Grassroots was Forward Approach Ltd, but I can find no information.

More recently, May 2016, to be exact, he launched Treharne Properties Ltd with his old mate Leonard Charles Drane, this company is filing as a dormant company. Drane was also a director in Paul O’Donnell and Associates, etc.

Of more importance to this article is the company called Priority Childcare Ltd. Here’s the website and here’s the Companies House entry. Priority Childcare was Incorporated 12 October 2009.

For the first few years it seemed to do very little, but when it moved its address from Treharris, just off the A470 south of Merthyr, to Llandarcy, on the Neath side of Swansea, things started to take off.

Going back to the website – where models portray Priority Childcare’s staff and the kids they look after! – we see a page marked ‘Our Homes’ with seven properties listed. Not entirely correct, for Priority Childcare owns more than the seven listed, but not in its own name.

Click to enlarge

For the properties are all owned – with outstanding loans from the Royal Bank of Scotland – by POLD Holdings Ltd. A name made up of the initials of Paul O’Donnell and Leonard Drane. This company was Incorporated 4 January 2010.

So we see that both Priority Childcare and POLD Holdings were formed when O’Donnell was still with Grassroots, and therefore well-connected with those in Cardiff who had responsibility for children and young people in need of care, counselling and accommodation.

Wasn’t that convenient, boys and girls, for someone about to embark on a spree of buying properties for that very purpose!

In fact, the first three properties were bought a couple of weeks before O’Donnell left Grassroots.

SWANSEA, MY SWANSEA!

Back in May a report in WalesOnline told of the sudden increase in the numbers of children’s homes in Swansea that the council seemed to know little about. (Or maybe it was that nobody wanted to talk about them.)

The article was headlined as if it would give the answer, but it didn’t. Click to enlarge

We can account for a number of those unexplained children’s homes with what we now know of Priority Childcare. For it’s pretty obvious that Priority Childcare and POLD Holdings are taking advantage of cheaper property further west to move kids out of Cardiff.

Given O’Donnell’s Grassroots link, and given its close links with City Hall, it’s reasonable to assume that the O’Donnell-Drane companies are working with the Labour-controlled council.

But why is Swansea council so passive and accommodating when Cardiff dumps its problems on them? Swansea council knows what’s happening, and where these kids are coming from. Is Swansea council now subservient to Cardiff council?

The people of Swansea are entitled to know.

And how long has it been going on? For the table above tells us that Priority Childcare bought its first properties in Swansea in 2013. Yet this Care Inspectorate document says that the first home was not registered until May 2018. Were they operating unregistered before that date?

Staying with the website, the panel below, from the home page, is fascinating, and worrying.

Click to enlarge

To begin with, yes, the website shows seven homes, but the Care Inspectorate document mentions ten. So I’m assuming that Clydwr House in Swansea and Ty Aelwyd in Treharris link with the later purchases shown in the table, leaving one of the Swansea properties still unregistered.

Though anyone who thinks that all the homes are in ‘rural or semi-rural locations’, as Priority Childcare claim, must have been born and raised in downtown Tokyo.

More worrying is the reference to ‘Southwest Children’s Residential Commissioning Framework’, which suggests that Priority Childcare is not just bringing kids from Cardiff to Swansea and neighbouring areas, but is also bringing them from south west England!

The Priority Childcare website really is a thing of wonder. For if we scroll down to the ‘Our Partners’ graphic at the bottom of each page labelled we see Swansea council listed . . . but not Cardiff council!

Yet this outfit is almost certainly contracted by Cardiff council to move kids out of the city to homes in cheaper property further west. And exposing this system is one reason that Neil McEvoy is being persecuted, again.

UPDATE: I am indebted to Stan of Neath for directing me to the National Review of Care Homes for Children in Wales 2018-2019, produced by Care Inspectorate Wales.

In the ‘Summary of Key Findings’ (page 8) we read: ‘Better local commissioning arrangement are required to ensure children’s needs are met as close to home as possible. We found a mismatch between the location of care homes for children in Wales and the placing authorities from which children originate.’

LABOUR PARTY ETHICS

For now we come to the case that sees Neil McEvoy before Cardiff council’s Standards and Ethics Committee this very day. Yes, that’s Labour councillors debating and judging on standards and ethics. I don’t know whether to laugh or to puke. (I might do both, but not at the same time.)

Not for the first time, Neil McEvoy has rendered Wales a service. For moving kids around in the way we’ve looked at makes it difficult to keep track of them and to monitor the care they’re getting. Worse, this difficulty might be what makes such a system attractive to unscrupulous operators and callous council officials.

It’s certainly an issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. For not only is it happening within Wales, there’s also the cross-border dimension. For example, in Powys, all the children in private care homes come from outside the county, almost all of them from England.

Children in need need to be helped as near as possible to their homes and their families. We must stop licensing private care homes that see vulnerable children as money-spinners, with those providing these children operating on the principle ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.

♦ end ♦

 

No Way to Run a City, a County, or a Country

CARDIFF: The council of our capital city is advertising for an ‘adviser’ to the council leader . . . though not in Wales, for the advertisement appeared in the Sunday Times. Which I assume means that knowledge of Cardiff, or Wales, is not required. As this article makes clear, the news has provoked a debate to which a number of people have made interesting contributions.

Local Government consultant Jeff Jones wants to see full-blown political appointees as in the USA. Which is where we’ve been heading since New Labour came to power in 1997 and took on what were clearly political appointees as ‘special advisers’ to the Prime Minister and other senior cabinet members. Though this was never a satisfactory arrangement, partly due to these appointees’ ambivalent relationship with the civil service and, towards the end of Blair’s tenure of No 10, advisers for Blair and Brown being engaged in almost open warfare. Plaid Cymru’s Neil McAvoy also sees this danger and makes the same point while generally endorsing Jeff Jones’ argument.

One problem here is the ambiguity surrounding the exact status of this ‘Head of Cabinet Office’ post. Given that Cardiff is controlled by Labour we can safely assume that whoever is appointed will be a Labour Party member or supporter. Yet we shall be asked to believe that the post is politically neutral. Another worry for me is that the post was advertised as offering an opportunity to ‘shape policy’. Now, with Caerffili and Carmarthenshire fresh in our minds, do we really want more unelected people exercising control over our local authorities?

The answer to this and many other problems in local government is to give us eight new authorities with no more than thirty full-time councillors per authority. Attract a better quality of councillor prepared to make the council a job and a mission rather than using it as an excuse to earn beer money from handing out contracts and planning consents to friends, family, and those belonging to the same organisation.

CARMARTHENSHIRE: Today’s Wasting Mule carried an incredible letter from Siân Caiach, former Plaid Cymru luminary, more recently Plaid’s nemesis in Llanelli. (Standing as an independent in 2011 she gained 2,004 votes, while Plaid Cymru lost to Labour by Sian Caiachjust 80.) That aside, what she says in her letter is so damning of both Carmarthenshire County Council, and the Welsh Government, that answers must be forthcoming to explain the lie upon lie that almost destroyed one of the area’s traditional industries. No, more than that, part of its culture. And the culture of a wider area. How many of us used to enjoy a packet of cockles on a Saturday night as the sellers made their way from pub to pub, jostling with the ladies trying to make us feel better about ourselves (and to banish or sublimate our carnal thoughts of them) by buying War Cry

It is difficult to imagine the pond life running Carmarthenshire – whether that be the Nazi-Soviet pact nominally in charge, or he who breaks butterflies on wheels – being so utterly and bastardly irresponsible as to do what is alleged by Siân Caiach, just so they could build yet more houses in the county, for yet more English colonists. But if that is the case, then we can almost guarantee that the English Planning Inspectorate is lurking somewhere in the shadows.

CYMRU: In my post of February 18th I told you I had submitted two Freedom of Information requests. One asking how many publicly-funded bodies we have in Wales ‘helping people back into employment’, and the other asking how much we are paying for Tŷ Hywel, formerly Crickhowell House, so central to the scam that was the regeneration of Cardiff docks. The reply to the first of those FoIs was dealt with here a few days ago. I now have some answers to the second FoI, and boy! do they make interesting reading!

First, let’s recap. Crickhowell House is an office block in Cardiff Bay, built in the late 1980s by Associated British Ports. (Head honcho, Lord Crickhowell, formerly Nicholas Edwards MP for Pembrokeshire and Secretary of State for Wales from 1979 to 1987.) The building cost some £11m to build and no one wanted to buy or lease it until 1993, when the Tory-controlled Welsh Office under David Hunt helped out his old friend, Lord Crickhowell, by taking out a 20-year lease on the building for the use of the Welsh Combined Health Services Authority. Crickhowell House was far too big and the WCHSA never used much more than a third of it. You will probably remember that from 1999 to 2006 Crickhowell House was used as the Assembly building. The lease was said to be worth just over £2m a year plus maintenance and other costs. So this Tory old pals act takes us from 1993 to 2013.

Next, when the deal was done with Associated British Ports to lease for 150 years, and for just £1, the land on which the Senedd today stands, it was rumoured that Ron Davies secretly agreed to extend the lease on Crickhowell House for a further 5 years. So that would have been another £10m+. It was even being suggested there was an option to extend the lease further. So in order to get at the facts I submitted my FoI. The answers to which may be read here.

The facts are that Tŷ Hywel is leased until 2032 at an annual cost of £2.3m + VAT. Yet the total figure given, in response to my question, “What will be the total expenditure, since 1993, of leasing,improving and maintaining Tŷ Hywel?” the answer given is £40,654,093 (from 1999), which can’t be right, can it? By my calculations, at £2.3m a year the lease from 1999 to 2032 comes to £75.9m. Add in the six years from 1993 to 1999 and it’s closer to £90m! And that’s without VAT, maintenance and all the other costs! I’d like you to give some thought to these figures, see if they, literally, add up.

CommissionThe reply contained the names of two bodies that I just had to check, because they were new to me. The first was the Assembly Commission, described as “the corporate body of the National Assembly for Wales”. And Crick Properties, who now own Tŷ Hywel. The Assembly Commission is made up of the Presiding Officer and four other AMs with various portfolios. Today’s Commission members are shown in the panel (click to enlarge) though it would have been Dafydd Elis Thomas who led the Commission when it decided to extend the lease on Tŷ Hywel in 2007. Crick Properties turned up little on Google, apart from this intriguing snippet on Slugger O’Toole. But given the name, it must be reasonable to assume a connection with Lord Crickhowell.

Another thought struck me as I digested the astronomic figures for Tŷ Hywel. We like to pride ourselves in Wales on the fact that we rejected Private Finance Initiatives. But remember this; in addition to £2.3m + VAT per annum lease, the Assembly Commission is also responsible for upkeep and renovation of the building. So if Tŷ Hywel, a building that will end up costing us well over £100m – yet is said to have sold in 2009 for £31m – is not a PFI, then what is? And bear in mind that the sale price in 2009 was greatly inflated by the fact that the Assembly Commission had agreed – in 2007 – a lease extension to 2032. Which means that had they refused to extend the lease, then the Assembly Commission might have been able to buy the building for considerably less than £31m.

So there you are, mes enfants; three stories which, in their own way, paint a depressing picture of public life in Wales today. Lies being told, public money being squandered, the interests of the people ignored and democracy treated with contempt. Why do we bother playing this game we can’t win? And if we could win it, would the victory be worth it?