Child Abuse in a One-party State

Just over two years ago I published Do you know where your child is tonight? In which I explained how children are being taken into care, often in Cardiff, then moved by private companies to Swansea and other areas where property is cheaper.

This was being done with the consent or even the connivance of Labour-controlled Cardiff council and implemented by – and to the financial benefit of – persons who often enjoyed Labour Party connections.

It was even alleged that children were being taken into care unnecessarily. Often from single mothers, and others it was felt would be ignored if they complained to anyone.

At the other end of this trafficking we saw homes opening in Swansea about which Swansea council knew nothing. This inevitably meant that these establishments were often not monitored and the children in them vulnerable to many dangers.

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As the article in WalesOnline (from which the above image is taken) put it: ‘Swansea currently has 13 homes registered with Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), with at least four more due to open in the next year. Only one of them is a Swansea Council-registered home.’

But of course, Swansea council is also controlled by Labour.

A major player in this racket was Priority Childcare Ltd, run by Paul Anthony O’Donnell and Leonard Charles Drane. (Companies House entry.) With Priority Childcare in turn owned by another of their companies, POLD Holdings Ltd.

On March 31 last year O’Donnell and Drane bade farewell to both companies. They no doubt made a handsome profit from selling out to Orbis Education and Care Ltd.

Orbis had itself been sold in 2017 for £28m to August Equity LLP. One of a whole stable of investment vehicles under the ‘August’ label. With these ultimately controlled – apparently – by David Timothy Lonsdale and Philip Michael Rattle.

Which means that many children’s homes in southern Wales are now run by – private equity funds. A curse on anyone who dares think that making money may henceforth be the priority!

It always was. And the problem is not confined to Wales. As this report from the Guardian a few days ago makes clear.

Another report from last week telling us Swansea council is buying property for children’s homes, also says: ‘ . . . some independent children’s care providers were . . . withdrawing offers to place Welsh children because the Welsh Government wanted profit to be removed from the sector.’

Will owners of children’s homes in Wales, like Orbis Equity LLP, sell up . . . or will they bring in children from England, where the profit motive is still allowed?

If it’s the latter, what will be the status of English-owned children’s homes in Wales housing children from England? Who will register, inspect, and regulate them?

The Likely Lads. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

If the profit motive is to be removed from children’s homes then the beneficiaries could well be Labour’s cronies in the third sector.

O’Donnell and Drane being aware in advance of the intention to remove the profit motive might explain them selling Priority Childcare. But they saw a fresh opening in supplying staff, which explains why, a short time before selling out, they set up Allcare and Education Recruitment Ltd (Inc. 12 February, 2020), and Allcare and Education Recruiters Ltd (9 September, 2020).

And here’s the Allcare website.

For their first year the companies had just one director, Marc David Elsey of Trelewis, then O’Donnell and Drane showed up. Was there a reason the two did not wish to be associated with the old company and the new companies simultaneously?

Could it be because these new companies recruit staff for . . . the old company? Come to that, have they really severed all links with Priority Childcare Ltd? We know they’re no longer directors, but do they still hold shares?

Then, for some reason, the dynamic duo has a third recruitment company, Ace Recruiters Ltd, formed in September 2020. Which means that during the first year of Covid-19 lockdown, O’Donnell and Drane set up three new recruitment companies.

Cooperating with Allcare we find Noble Training Solutions. Despite the rather impressive website this company is a one-man band with, according to the accounts filed for y/e 30.04.2021, no employees.

I suspect that the sole director given for Noble Training Solutions, ‘Mr Gareth John Noble’, is in fact Dr Gareth Noble of Swansea University, though a resident of Cardiff, and a specialist in autism.

I do hope the day job doesn’t interfere too much with his money-making side-line.

A question for the local authorities of south Wales: You are taking children from their parents (often single mothers), and regularly placing them in homes some distance away – do you know who ultimately owns and runs those homes? Do you care?

What you are about to read is from the perspective of an ex-Swansea council employee who was offered 17K in return for her silence about the unethical practices of Swansea council and South Wales Police.

So take it away, Dr Gail John . . .

I was a primary teacher/special educational needs (SEN) teacher who worked for Swansea local authority for twenty years from 1994-2014. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health, a tutor of postgraduate university students at Goldsmiths London, an academic and is a member of the Bar Human Rights Committee. I stood as one of six Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) candidates in last year’s elections as the only trauma informed candidate and attained a respectable 13K votes (attaining this without any leaflets).

My extensive advocacy work since 2012 helping and supporting vulnerable children and families right across the South Wales region opened my eyes wide to the large-scale corruption, financial abuse and exploitation that exists within Welsh public services, which some might reference as ‘legal human trafficking’.

I am currently calling for a public inquiry into South Wales Police,  based on the case documented within this book.

At the beginning at this month, March 2022, I was contacted by a distraught mother who told me of her horrific experience of how Swansea council tried to coerce her into signing a Section 47 and it is thought that this was to have her son wrongfully removed into care. This happened directly after her son disclosed child sexual abuse within a Swansea primary school.

I was absolutely appalled that the practise of ‘legal human trafficking’ is still ongoing in Swansea, that I immediately made attempts to safeguard this lady from the unethical practises of the Labour council.

Just like many others right across the region, I reference Alexis Jay (2022) and her findings regarding the failure to follow child protection procedures in the Labour run council.

I have also personally experienced the Labour council trying to financially profit through a thwarted attempt to unethically ‘legally traffick’ my own daughter into care after I exposed fraud and child abuse at the school where I was working as a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) at the time.

I have evidence of Swansea councillors abusing their powers of trust when children themselves asked for financial help to pay for GCSEs. One child who contacted Councillor Jennifer Raynor in 2015, ended up becoming a target and potential victim of Swansea council’s financial exploitation as directly after Jennifer Raynor stated that the council wouldn’t waste public money on SEN children who were ‘bound to fail’ (breaching her ethical code of public office, Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010), this child became the subject of a child protection investigation where it emerged that there was no evidence to justify Swansea council’s decision to initiate this.

Furthermore, I had been working hard with this fourteen-year-old child to prepare her for her Sociology GCSE which the family paid over £200 for the exam at a private exam centre (I taught the child for free). This child had one exam on the Friday and the second exam on the Monday. However, after successfully sitting the exam on the Friday, the letter from Swansea social services arrived in the family home and the child never sat the second exam on the Monday. This fourteen-year-old child attained a B grade in the first exam and was on target for a high grade until Swansea council saw this child through the lens of making themselves a quick £32000 (equivalent rate 2022).

Many people across the Swansea region know that instead of following correct child protection procedures when allegations of child abuse are brought before Swansea council, the council and South Wales Police prefer making up lies, and believe they are above the law.

After receiving the information from the Swansea mother who was yet another victim of the unethical practices of Swansea council, I detailed some of the problems I have encountered in the city, with the education authority, the wider council, the police, and the local health board. This ranged from denial to intimidation to a laughable attempt to buy my silence!

Jac adds . . .

What Dr John has to say is set out in the form of a letter addressed to Councillor Robert Smith, cabinet member for Education Improvement, Learning & Skills at Swansea Council. I have withheld a number of names.

This being Swansea, and as we’re dealing with the Labour Party, I was not in the least surprised to read in Smiffy’s Register of Interests:

Son in receipt of grant from the Thomas and Elizabeth Williams Trust administered by the Council for postgraduate study (awarded 06.11.19)
Wife employed as exam invigilator occasionally in Swansea schools, on a casual basis

The Labour family that troughs together, stays together.

Now read Dr John’s letter to Councillor Smith.

Dear Mr Robert Smith, Education Councillor for Swansea,

Thank you for taking the time to talk briefly on the phone last night.

I understand that (a Swansea parent) has presented very alarming evidence, concerning bullying and systematic abuse after she disclosed the child sexual abuse of her son at a Swansea primary school. After making this disclosure, this mother was further bullied by social services (and police) who tried to trick her into signing a Section 47 to remove her son into care and implied that she was mentally ill.

I can verify that this lady is not an isolated case but it seems that bullying and scapegoating is a common practice in Swansea when it comes to covering up child abuse, medical negligence, fraud, miscarriages of justice or educational incompetence in Swansea (see Serious Child Practice Review Report submission and multiple evidence below).

The information in this email is presented in four parts:

  1. National research evidence driven from England due to the high social poverty statistics in Swansea.
  2. The reasons why I help so many people in Swansea and beyond South Wales. Evidence to back up and support (a Swansea parent). Personal experiences that are almost identical to this lady.
  3. Helping others caught as victims of abuse and victims of educational failure  in Swansea, including Serious Concise Child Practice Reviews where a child died due to medical negligence in Swansea.
  4. Trauma Informed solutions to try to bring investment to reverse the pain and poverty from the abusive practice.

1/ National research evidence driven from England due to the high social poverty statistics in Swansea.

The recent Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse IICSA (February, 2022) has also recently highlighted this systematic bullying in Swansea regarding the covering up of child abuse in the Alexis Jay 2022 report. This concurs with the voice of Swansea participants who were involved in my six-year education doctorate about adverse childhood experiences and their impact upon educational failure (published by University of Sheffield 2019).

You will see all the social poverty statistics about Swansea in this thesis.

To briefly summarise, I focused on educational failure and this is what I found out –

Participant 6 – was targeted/terrified by Swansea social services and police after her mother raised child abuse concerns concerning both an educational professional and a church member.

Participant 7 – was raped in foster care aged 9. This was covered up by Swansea education and social services. Instead of being safeguarded, the victim was victim-blamed and received psychiatric diagnosis of ADHD (against CSA specialist advice as her symptoms were because of the abuse she suffered) and drugged with Ritalin.

Participant 8 – sexually assaulted in school, school did not follow child protection policy, got child to shake hands with her abuser.

Participant 9 – was raped, no safeguarding procedures followed, instead he was sectioned aged nineteen and diagnosed with schizophrenia put on multiple drugs. Financially exploited and abused under social services care.

Participant 10 – talked about being attacked in her dormitory in a Swansea university, South Wales Police lied to her to cover it up and make her drop the case. The victim was made to drop out of university while the perpetrator was protected.

Participant 11 – sexually abused at school and home, ended up sexually exploited aged 14 by gangs and prostituted out to men three times her age when she was living under Swansea children’s services. When she brought gang rape allegations to South Wales Police, they laughed at her and one officer ‘tried it on with her’. Instead of following safeguarding procedures, she was given psychiatric diagnosis of ADHD and given strong drugs. Her child was removed from her with her own child abuse used as evidence against her.

2/  The reasons why I help so many people in Swansea and beyond South Wales. Evidence to back up and support (redacted name to protect identity). Personal experiences that are almost identical to this lady.

My background

I worked as a primary teacher for nearly twenty years employed by Swansea council from 1994-2013/2014. During this time, I worked extremely hard, obtained promotions in the three schools I taught at, contributed to four successful inspections, along with working exceptionally hard to self-fund my multiple postgraduate qualifications to improve outcomes for all my students. My postgraduate qualifications included a Doctorate in Education (2012-2019), Master’s Degree in Education (1994-1998), British Dyslexia QTS qualified teacher status and postgraduate certificate in Special Learning Difficulties or Dyslexia (SpLD) (1996-1997), Graduate Diploma in Special educational Needs (GradDipSEN) – Qualified Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) status (2009-2011), Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) (2014).

In October 2012, my outstanding educational results for all children (especially the SEN children under my care and leadership) especially the SEN children in Pontybrenin (a Gorseinon school) were recognised by the University of Sheffield who nominated me to speak at largest teacher conference in the UK and I was invited to be a speaker at this conference (January 2013).

I worked at Pontybrenin Primary from October 2000 and was promoted to SENCO at Pontybrenin Primary by (a former head teacher) and started this position in January 2009. Education councillor Will Evans was a governor at the school during this time period. (Jac: Labour councillor Evans is a former senior police officer.)

Acting headteacher Matthew O’Brien joined the school January 2009, the same time I started this position of SENCO, and he informed everyone that the SEN children had failed under the provision of SENCO A. B. Next, Matthew O’Brien informed everyone that the school needed to be put into Special Measures in order to access a substantial amount of government money which was to be spent on the SEN children.

Strangely enough, after being informed that the SEN children and provision had failed under A. B. (January 2009), A B was given a glowing reference and received a promotion to deputy headteacher at Tre-Uchaf (Easter 2009) and was made an ESTYN inspector. (A. B. is now also running her own therapy outfit in Llandeilo.)

In March 2009, it also emerged that a staff member was summoned to attend court and admitted three counts of fraud which took place years before in 2007 over a long time-period. She had not disclosed her crime to headteacher at the time of her crime, Alison Jenkins. Alison Jenkins was bullied out of her job and left December 2008, after being targeted (like some of the other staff, myself included) with malicious anonymous letters.

The barrage of malicious anonymous letters were written about staff members including myself from the end of July 2008-December 2008 and suddenly stopped after the Headteacher Alison Jenkins handed in her resignation. Alison Jenkins was an excellent headteacher and a lady with integrity who safeguarded children and staff first.

According to governor, M. C., one of the last malicious letters that went to the police from office staff, B. J., attacked and denigrating my character for receiving a promotion in the school under Alison Jenkins and also viciously attacking Alison Jenkins for demoting (perpetrator of fraud) for having a poor attendance. Just two months after the last of these nasty letters stopped, (perpetrator’s) fraud came into the public domain where she admitted three counts of fraud (March 2009). Alison Jenkins who had left the school at this point, knew nothing about the crime until she saw it/read it on the news.

Acting headteacher Matthew O’Brien (January 2009-April 2009) did not follow correct safeguarding regulations in reporting (perpetrator) to the GTCW, instead she was given a glowing reference and so obtained another teaching job. During a similar time-frame, malicious letters also emerged in ex-Pontybrenin headteacher David Greenaway’s church where it emerged that similar scapegoating practices of covering over abuse where pastor protected an adult male sexual predator who sent explicit pictures of himself to a vulnerable young person.

Instead of the pastor reporting this crime to the police, he hid it and gave this perpetrator a glowing reference, sent him to Bible College, and then gave him a job back in his church.

Pastor Michael Williams of Elim City Church, Swansea, enjoying a buffet with Liberty Church / Bible College safeguarding officer Hugh Griffiths who did not follow child protection procedures regarding Charmain Speirs. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

As SENCO at Pontybrenin school, I can verify that none of the Special Measures’ additional money was ever spent on the Special Educational Needs children. I also examined the SEN results which were deemed as failing under A. B. and used as a reason to put the school into special measures to acquire money for the SEN children. However, there was no failure and the money was never spent on the SEN children. It was all a farce, and fraudulent activity.

Instead of the SEN children having the money spent on them, under Phil Williams, the school had major construction work, walls and partitions and outdoor provisions. When I met Alison Jenkins, neither of us could understand where all the money had come from and how the school all of a sudden had gone from a school struggling to a school that had money to lavish on new carpets, desks, etc. However, when money is obtained for SEN children under the guise of special measures and not spent on SEN children – this amounts to FRAUD.

Moreover, when Phil Williams was asked awkward questions about where the money had come from to pay for the building work, new desks, etc – he began to display bullying types of behaviour especially to SEN children and those asking these questions. In May 2012 he came into my class to observe one of my lessons on a Monday (it emerged he had deliberately hit a SEN child over the head with a book on the previous Friday). Phil Williams stated it was an unsatisfactory lesson and his reason was because I had used peer tutoring. However, peer tutoring was a teaching and learning strategy recommended by the Welsh Government. The University of Sheffield submitted my excellent results from this time period in 2012, where I was asked to speak at an educational conference about the power of peer tutoring (January 2013),

At this time, at least three female staff members were forced to go to their unions about the bullying behaviour of Phil Williams.

In March 2013, as SENCO of Pontybrenin Primary School, I raised serious concerns about the abusive behaviour of headteacher Phil Williams towards the SEN children to Swansea Local Authority head of inclusion Robin Brown / Lesley Evans and the Education Minister Leighton Andrews, who resigned a few months later.

In March/April 2013, Phil Williams was put in charge of his own child abuse investigation about himself in his own organisation backed by safeguarding officer Paul Henwood and chair of governors Jeffrey Lewis. This was against all child protection laws.

In September/October 2013 – six months after I raised the concerns – Pontybrenin school and Swansea council abused their positions of trust and to cover up child abuse. They used unethical Swansea social services (E.R.) and police friend of Phil Williams – Jonathan Bainbridge – to abuse their positions of trust to try to bully me into silence. The police abused their positions to intimidate my friend Charmain Speirs (who was murdered just 18 months later) and made fun of her SEN (family member name redacted to protect identity) who the police described as a child with demons (evidenced by Jonathan Bainbridge’s document).

Inept social worker E.R. accidentally left a nasty anonymous malicious letter and police friend of the headteacher, Jonathan Bainbridge’s police document which contained 8 out of 10 breaches of police professional standards. Headteacher Phil Williams had given his police friend Jonathan Bainbridge’s wife Lisa Bainbridge a job in Pontybrenin school with no interview or qualifications.

I asked my very well qualified colleagues (social workers / police) at the University of Sheffield who told me that these professionals had broken the law. Therefore, I removed consent and disengaged from Swansea inept professionals in order to safeguard my family from the abuse which is rife in Swansea council.

April 1st 2014 – I resigned from my teaching position as I could not work for a council that allows abuse towards (SEN) children.

April 2nd 2014 – I was offered £17,000 by Pontybrenin School / Swansea council to keep my mouth shut but I would have had to sign a gagging order which I did not do. I did not receive their silencing money.

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June 2014 – Head of Inclusion Robin Brown makes threats to me – he told me to destroy all my evidence of Swansea’s abuse or he would report me to GTCW. I spoke to GTCW and found out Robin Brown was just trying to bully me as I was told I had not done anything wrong. Instead I found out that I could report Phil Williams and multiple professionals for their part in abusive practice towards SEN children. GTCW did nothing about any of the unethical abusive practice. They chose to ignore the abuse towards the SEN children, and the only thing they did was publish the fact that Swansea teacher Ellen Lloyd’s fraud in 2007 came to their knowledge 7 years later and was not even reported accurately.

In 2016, I was requested to go to police professional standards after ESTYN reported TWO MALE Police for unethical practices towards Charmain Speirs who was murdered in bizarre circumstances just 18 months after police abused their positions of trust in going to her house under false pretences as part of their retaliation towards me. The police did not follow procedures, the IPCC upheld the complaint while South Wales police scapegoated TWO FEMALE police officers who had never even been part of the complaint in the first place.

In 2018, Leighton Andrews (Education Minister in 2013) apologised after I contacted him to offer him support when he was being bullied after Carl Sargeant committed suicide. He apologised that proper child protection procedures were not followed in 2013 and stated that lessons had been learned. However, this is just a phrase that is used as a sticking plaster and the truth is that NO LESSONS HAVE BEEN LEARNED.

ABUSE TOWARDS CHILDREN IS STILL BEING COVERED UP IN SWANSEA.

3/ Helping others caught as victims of abuse and victims of educational failure in Swansea, including Serious Concise Child Practice Reviews where I have included a report where a child died as a result of medical negligence in Swansea.

I’ve been involved in helping multiple people who have been targeted and abused throughout the city. I was requested to appear as an expert witness in court by a judge and have helped lots of people acquire qualifications after they were failed at school, including tutoring master degree students. I conducted an in-depth doctoral research study (2012-2019) about Adverse Childhood Experiences in Swansea and found that systematic abuse is a common occurrence. Alexis Jay Report February 2022 found similar findings.

Last year I was involved in two Serious Concise Child Practice Reviews where two children died because of professional negligence. One report is attached (link above). I helped the man in the report (he’s given consent for you to see the report) move into a house after his daughter had died and he was bullied by social services and police. He was deliberately made homeless by social services. This was after his daughter had died due to medical negligence. The bullying towards him was relentless.

4/ Trauma Informed solutions to try to bring investment to reverse the pain and poverty from the abusive practice

Just recently I had a meeting with head of housing Steve Porter, 2/2/22, where I have acquired PDNES who are linked to multi-million pound investors willing to bring investment and regeneration to Swansea. PDNES are an award winning trauma informed supportive housing organisation who specialise in CSA, trauma and recovery using a person-centred approach. There is nothing like this in Wales. Steve Porter recognised that Swansea like other councils in Wales have a need and asked PDNES to write out their model in order to write letters of intent and demand to give to PDNES so they could give these to the investors in order to bring regeneration to Swansea to reverse poverty statistics. We are still waiting.

Unfortunately, it appears that Swansea Council is still denying that they have a problem.

However, in recent weeks. journalists from ITV (Dean), Sky News (Owen) and the BBC (Gavin) have made contact through Adele Rose-Morgan who sits on many of your boards along with Jason Lovell Plaid Cymru wanting to meet Adam Price of Plaid Cymru; and Wayne Erasmus, of Gwlad, wanting to investigate the revelations about the scandal of the abuse towards SEN families in Swansea ABMU/Swansea Bay and the Child Sexual Abuse IICSA (2022) report.

I hope with the elections coming up, it will motivate the council to see the need to start properly protecting children and young people in Swansea.

I am trying my best to bring solutions to Swansea through bringing high quality trauma informed supportive housing provision to our city linked to award-winning Gary Crooks and Nevres Kemal (social worker and Baby P whistle-blower) who Steve Porter head of housing had the privilege of meeting with me last month. The consequences of failed provision and underperformance under Will Evans, Rob Stewart and others’ leadership in Swansea council has resulted in high social poverty, homelessness, etc and this is not a good investment of tax payers’ money!

Unfortunately, Swansea council appear to be ignoring the problem and continuing to turn a blind eye to all the published research and their own statistics. However, turning a blind eye is not effective child protection. This is incompetence. Those who can do, do; those who can’t do their jobs bully others to cover-up for their own incompetence.

I will be keeping a close eye on safeguarding (name redacted to protect identity), as I know that previous systematic abuse, bullying and retaliation from Swansea council has brought much anxiety to this lady. Bullying towards SEN children and women by men and women in professional positions of power in Swansea council IS ABUSE and should be challenged. There needs to be accountability because NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW. OUR SOCIAL POVERTY STATISTICS ARE CRYING OUT FOR JUSTICE!

(Please read: HUMAN RIGHTS IN PUBLIC OFFICE RESPONSIBILITIES).

I look forward to your swift response.

Kindest regards
Dr Gail John

JAC’S EPILOGUE

Childcare in Wales is degenerating from a bit of a mess into a national scandal. Children are being taken into care at almost double the rate for England.

The stark figures. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

The reasons for this are complex, but most can be traced back to the problem of one political party exercising too much control, for too long. Not just in the political sphere, but also in the fields of health and education.

That, coupled with no effective political opposition, and no media worthy of the name.

Though one fascinating feature, cropping up again and again, is the linkage between the Labour Party and evangelical churches. (Perhaps we might add the police.) Even the husband of Charmain Speirs, who died in strange circumstances in Kenya (and who Dr John met when Speirs spent time in Swansea), is ‘a pastor with the Global Light Revival Ministries’.

Another example of what I’m talking about would be the Jonathan Norbury case. Norbury, a teacher at Pontarddulais School, seems to have escaped jail by persuading jurors that the schoolgirls he was having sex with were over 16.

When the allegations first came to light Swansea Council allowed Norbury to write his own reference – and then gave him £8,000. For what?

I mention Norbury because in addition to being a teacher he was a deacon, and a ‘youth pastor’, at an evangelical church. (No, I am not making this up.)

Then there’s Robin Brown, Head of Inclusion at Swansea council, who Dr John mentioned in her letter. I’m told he belongs to the Lifepoint Church.

It is suggested that the link between the Swansea Labour Party and these Evangelical churches may be provided by Freemasonry.

In my introduction I suggested that if the ‘Welsh Government’ intends removing the profit motive from child care then the beneficiaries could be third sector groups. I suppose we shouldn’t rule out certain favoured churches.

However our tribunes may try to explain it, the fact is that Wales has a shameful record for taking children into care. ‘Shameful’, because in many cases it’s being done for the wrong reasons. And in other cases, for no reason at all.

This BBC report from last June tells us that the percentage of children being taken into care has almost doubled in less than twenty years. But only in Wales. Which is why it cannot be divorced from devolution.

‘Wales now has the highest proportion of children in the UK being cared for by the state, prompting one expert to raise concerns.

There are 7,170 (latest: 7,265) children being looked after away from home in Wales – which is 1.14% of children. The current UK average is 0.72% of children.’

While the Wales Centre for Public Policy in its report, Children’s social services and care rates in Wales: A survey of the sector, confirms the problem.

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As I say, something is very wrong here, and the problem is getting worse.

Given the cross-border operations of the third sector, housing associations, and others there must be the possibility that the figures for Wales are skewed by children being brought in from England.

If so, then this must stop.

Though if that is not the answer then we need to explain the glaring differences in the percentages for children taken into care in Wales and those taken into care in the other administrations of these islands.

We also need to analyse the differences within Wales. By and large these differences are between urban areas, which generally have higher percentages, and rural areas, with lower percentages. In other words, areas controlled by the Labour Party and areas run by other political parties, or coalitions, or ‘Independents’.

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Though the tragic tale reported (above) in last Wednesday’s Daily Post might suggest that the system isn’t too good in rural areas either, and that children who perhaps should be in care are being ignored.

And who could forget the poor boy in rural Ceredigion who died of scurvy.

Whatever the fuller picture, the situation in Wales has worsened under devolution and 23 years of Labour Party domination. Which means that either children are being taken into care unnecessarily, or else Wales has become materially poorer under devolution and one result is more children being taken into care.

Neither possibility reflects well on the Labour Party / ‘Welsh Government’.

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Things could be about to get worse. For since March 21 it is unlawful to administer physical punishment to a child. Which means that good parents having a momentary lapse risk having their children taken from them.

To be placed in homes that are badly regulated, often not known to the local authority where they are located, and owned by City of London investors.

Forget the propaganda and the gestures from Corruption Bay about saving the planet, welcoming refugees, etc., etc, what you’ve read here is the reality of modern Wales for too many of our people.

As an example of gesture politics, we have a Children’s Commissioner who seems more concerned with obeying the quasi-Marxist demands of Black Lives Matter than with looking after our kids.

Priorities, eh!

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Wales needs the kind of fundamental change that is impossible while the dead hand of the Labour Party allows its vampiric cronies to prey on us.

At the very least, we are entitled to a statement from the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ giving us their explanation for why an ever-increasing number of Welsh children are being taken into care.

♦ end

 

© Royston Jones 2022


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 celebrity 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, Dissolved in November, 2011.

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?