Poor Wales: magnet for property spivs, fraudsters, and enviroshysters

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

I’m kicking off with an update of last week’s piece about the old Gwynfryn mansion near Llanystumdwy. The ‘main course’ will be a fuller account of the crooks behind the Glynllifon project on Ynys Môn. But I’ve also slipped in a couple of tit-bits: news of the latest windfarm, and the curious business career of the guy at the centre of the cladding scandal in Corruption Bay.

GWYNFRYN

To recap: Plas Gwynfryn / Gwynfryn Plas is a 19th century gentry mansion near Llanystumdwy that ended up as a hotel and was badly damaged by fire in 1982. Since when it has lain empty. Deteriorating.

As I reported last week, plans have recently emerged to convert the old pile into ’30 residential units’.

A planning application has been submitted by Partington & Associates Ltd on behalf of DM Property Group Ltd with David George Taylor a director of both companies. The details can be found by following this link.

Image: Daily Mail. Click to enlarge

The Gwynfryn ruin itself is owned by Aaron Hill, a self-styled ‘property developer’ who drifted into Gwynedd a decade or more ago. He is an associate of the Duggan family of Bryn Llys, criminals of whom I have written a number of times. Most recently, last month, in Bryn Llys, the Liverpool connection.

Though the ‘developers’ in this instance are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong. The latter has a company called Acquérir Ltd; Wilmott has a few companies of his own; but they get together in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd.

OK, so what’s new?

Let’s go back to the fire in 1982. I’m having this second-hand, of course, but a member of the fire service told a local that the fire was started in a number of different places. Arson was suspected.

Soon after the fire, the owner of Gwynfryn, Philip Andrew Bush, disappeared, and was not seen again until 1995. Around the same time a John Day appeared, apparently acting for Bush, sometimes posing as a prospective buyer.

Day was in fact a scrap dealer and, “Over the next few years he filled the derelict building and grounds with scrap from various locations in the area including the old Butlins, a wood-yard and chapel and many scrap vehicles. This caused great disturbance to the surrounding neighbours”.

Bush seemed to vanish again around 2001/2. Day too, leaving the accumulated junk at Gwynfryn.

Day moved to Llanwnda where he ran a junk/antique business. On the death of his partner a dispute is reported between Day and his late partner’s children, with them getting access to Gwynfryn. I’m told that £20,000 was realised from the 80 tons of metal and vehicles cleared away.

The plastic chairs and other junk from Butlins and elsewhere was left. And is still there.

In the earlier piece I told you, ” . . . in April 1980 a couple named Hooper sold what remained of the Gwynfryn estate to Global Leisure Ltd. In 1995 it was transferred to Magnet International Holdings Ltd, a Guernsey-registered company. Magnet was compulsorily struck off in 2006.”

I have since learnt that on the passing of Magnet International Holdings ownership transferred to Casablanca Investments Inc of Monrovia, Liberia. There are many companies with the same or similar names but I can’t track down that one.

Liberia makes sense given that Bush is said to be in the shipping business. Though some suggest he is not so much a shipping magnate as another scrap merchant. Perhaps involved in this kind of activity.

Also, while Bush may give an address in Switzerland, and perhaps claims to be a tax exile, many believe he lives in England. Kent, to be more exact. And to take exactitude to an even higher lever, the Canterbury-Faversham area.

This Steptoe of the Seven Seas resurfaced again around 2017 and a sale was agreed with Aaron Hill. After which the new owner of Gwynfryn became quite the busy boy, cutting trees, tidying up the drive, and you’ll never guess who helped him – the Bryn Llys gang!

Knowing how altruism weeps from every tattooed and stretched pore I’m sure there was no ulterior motive in them doing this work. Perish the thought!

Then again . . .

To give you some idea of when the latest dynamic duo got involved, Wilmott put out what you see below on his Facebook page 23 April, and Armstrong put out this video a day later.

Click to enlarge

Which means that Wilmott and Armstrong have been involved for at least six months.

It’s also clear that they’ve been dealing with Gwynedd’s planning department, and they’ve found these discussions encouraging. One of them told neighbours that planners are ‘desperate’ to see something done at Gwynfryn.

I do hope this ‘desperation’ hasn’t beguiled the boys into thinking this is in the bag.

Though they might believe they have an ace in the hole. For one of them has stated that there exists legislation allowing old buildings to be developed without restrictions if costs are too high to restore to the building to its original state.

They may believe this gives them carte blanche to do whatever they like at Gwynfryn.

But there are other issues the developers and investors are probably hoping aren’t raised. Which is why I’m raising them!

Image: Google. The entrance to Gwynfryn showing the lodge or gate house. Click to enlarge

For example, there’s the access to Gwynfryn, the only access. Right on a junction. Now this was no problem when the squire was trotting to church of a Sunday in the 1880s; but twenty-first century traffic – especially in the summer months when the ‘residential units’ will be busiest – has to condemn the project to the receptacle marked ‘Trash’.

For I would be surprised, alarmed even, if Cyngor Gwynedd’s Highways Department didn’t have something to say about this accident black spot just waiting to make the front pages of the local weeklies.

Finally, Natural Resources Wales will have to do a bat survey. And although they don’t notice ‘nuclear mud’ when it’s dumped off Cardiff, or iffy timber contracts, they will soon realise that the Gwynfryn ruin is home to many bats.

The bats aren’t alone, for there are owls and other critters to be found in the ruins.

Given the criminals peripheral to this project, and the offshore links, I believe that, to allay the reasonable fears of a number of people, Cyngor Gwynedd must insist that the identity / identities of the investors behind the project be made public.

ANOTHER ‘COMMUNITY OWNED, LOCAL BENEFITS’ WIND FARM. NOT

Do you remember those far-off days when devolution was young, gambolling in the yet empty meadows of Cardiff Bay? When there was hope in the collective Cymric breast as we looked forward to a new era of progress and prosperity?

No, nor me.

Though I do recall that when the ‘Welsh Government’ started implementing the legislation that it insisted was to be our contribution to saving the planet we were promised bounty unlimited in terms of jobs and benefits for hard-pressed rural communities and post-industrial urban areas.

This was the sugar to sweeten the pill of tearing up our forests and peat bogs to plant thousands of wind turbines. And it probably explains Natural Resources Wales, which came into existence, fittingly, on All Fools’ Day 2013.

Since then it’s been a succession of wind farms across the land owned by hedge funds, companies nobody’d heard of ’til they crossed the Dyke, government-owned companies from Germany and Scandinavia, with the only Welsh beneficiaries being hard-pressed – sometimes absentee – landlords.

And now there’s to be another, on Mynydd Margam, above Port Talbot. Though it was announced over a year ago only now is the opposition organising. And that opposition seems to include local Tory MS Suzy Davies.

Image: Beryl Richards. Mynydd Margam. Click to enlarge

Perhaps to vary the mix, this particular project is a joint English-Irish venture. From Ireland we have state-owned ESB, while from England (possibly Scotland) we have Coriolis Energy Ltd.

But of course, no Welsh involvement.

The only director of Coriolis is David Charles Murray, who doubles up as secretary. The company is in debt. Murray is also secretary-director of the Vale of Leven Wind Farm Ltd, a company formed in July last year.

But perhaps both come under the umbrella of Coriolis Energy Developments LLP. Yes, a Limited Liability Partnership, which itself was only formed in July 2019.

There are other Coriolis companies associated with Murray, but they’re either too new to have filed accounts, or they’re in the red, or, in the case of Coriolis Renewable Energy Ltd – the oldest of the Murray Coriolis companies – it was dissolved in 2015.

There’s not a lot there to inspire confidence. Little experience and less money. So why has Murray got the Margam Mountain gig? Well, boys and girls, I suspect he has connections . . . in London.

Which brings me back to Natural Resources Wales. For NRW has given permission for this new wind farm on land it owns.

If you look at the NRW board, then from the chairman down, you’ll find people who would have had trouble finding Wales on a map. That’s because they’ve been appointed by someone, or some committee, outside of Wales.

If we go back to the origin of the NRW, it’s widely known that the new agency took over the responsibilities of Forestry Commission Wales, The Countryside Council for Wales and Environment Agency Wales. What is less well known is that NRW also took powers from the ‘Welsh Government’ – yet we are asked to believe that NRW answers to the buffoons in Corruption Bay!

No, Natural Resources Wales was set up at the instigation of London to facilitate the kind of developments we’re looking at here. But not only wind turbines.

For once you realise the nature of the beast, other things become clear. Such as the matter I hinted at earlier, why NRW was so easily satisfied that mud being dumped off Cardiff from Hinkley Point nuclear power station is safe.

It’s because the word came down – to both NRW and the ‘Welsh Government’ – that the decision had been made. Accept it!

Why couldn’t the ‘Welsh Government’ have set up a company to design and build wind turbines in Wales? It could have created a few thousand jobs and kept a lot of money in the country. And if we’d been good at it, then that company could have competed for contracts around the world.

I’ll tell you why – because that’s not how a colony is allowed to operate.

GLYNLLIFON, YNYS MÔN

Last month I wrote about a development at Marianglas on Ynys Môn. Click here and scroll down to section ‘Glynllifon Ltd’. I suggest you read it to avoid me having to repeat myself, again.

More information has been received. Much more. It’s pretty disturbing to realise that creatures like those you’re going to read about are walking around free. Worse, that they can still find ways to invest money they don’t officially possess.

Money they’ve conned out of decent, hard-working people.

The two I’m going to write about are Neil Moir, a native of Cheshire now living on Ynys Môn, and Rhys Wyn Williams, a local.

Glynllifon. Click to enlarge

Let’s deal with Neil Moir first.

As we read in this report from 1999: ‘THE winner of top TV quiz Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is set to lose his fortune – because he is a crook.

Millions saw 51-year-old Neil Muir (sic) land a £64,000 prize this week. But under the programme’s rules he is BANNED from entering.

Muir has convictions for theft, deception and forgery. And Rule 6 says: “You must . . . have no criminal convictions (subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974).” London TV company Celador launched an investigation yesterday.’

Moir is a fundamentally dishonest individual. A career con man.

By one route or another he found his way to Bodorgan. From where he now runs a number of companies. Here are some more. But Glynllifon Ltd, which owns the Glynllifon Hotel (click for title document), uses an accommodation address in London.

You’ll see that the purchase was made with loans from one of the many ‘specialist lenders’ in Manchester. This one being Goldcrest Finance Ltd. Remember the name, for we’ll return to it later.

Also worth noting is Moir’s company Impactt Properties Ltd, which changed its name from NE11 Ltd in August 2017. There is significance in the ‘tt’ that will be also become clear.

A few years back Moir got involved with local con man Rhys Williams. I can call him that with certainty. Here’s a report from the Daily Post of Williams’ appearance on Y Byd ar Bedwar, complete with video.

Rhys Williams with his wife, Lisa Alaw (nee Saxon). On the right a poster compiled by a man who has lost hundreds of thousands of pounds to Williams. The reference to ‘sex addict is about a trip made, from Spain to Dubai, in which Williams convinced his companion that the investment was sound. While there, Williams spent a lot of time trying to hook up with, er, hookers. Click to enlarge

And because so many of his victims were resident in Spain, here’s a report from Canarian Weekly. He also made the Olive Press. Note that both reports make sure we know Williams is Welsh!

This is a rather complicated story with the potential to overwhelm and confuse, so I’ll try to simplify it.

1/ Rhys Wyn Williams is a fraudster and a con man. He has ripped off many people and owes millions of pounds.

2/ Much of this criminality took place in Spain and the Gulf of Iran. A great deal of the money was channelled though Dubai.

3/ These criminal assets are now being repatriated back to the UK.

4/ Neil Moir acts as front man, helping launder the criminal assets through property deals.

To confirm the Williams-Impactt-Moir link, the three documents below should help. They’re set out in chronological order.

On the left we see an announcement from January 2016 that Rhys Williams was appointed the legal representative of Impactt General Trading Ltd of Dubai. The document signed by Brian Balachander, director and shareholder of Impactt.

In the centre we see a letter(?) from Neil Moir, using his Bodorgan address, and Impactt headed notepaper, telling Czech company Via Aurata Europaea SE that he is ready to receive the “underwriting fee of £150,000.00”. To be sent to the Commercial Bank of Dubai. The UK face of this company is Via Aurata Ltd, but the only director is resident in the Czech Republic.

On the right you’ll see a capture from the Companies House filings for a company called Golden East Limited. This company brings together Moir and Balachander.

A further link comes with this Impactt document signed by Balachander which uses the same font and logo as on the one below used by Moir.

Click to enlarge

(In case the image is a bit large to handle, it’s also available here in PDF format.)

The address for Golden East is Kemp House, 160 City Road, London EC1V 2NX . . . the same address as Moir’s company Glynllifon Ltd. What’s more it was set up 14 June – just 4 days after Glynllifon Ltd. Such coincidences!

Another Moir company at the same address is Helvetia Finvest Ltd. Incorporated in August last year. The other director was Lode Hendrikx, a Belgian, resident in the Netherlands, who I’m told has done bird in Switzerland.

It should be pointed out that the London operation was just a branch of the main outfit headquartered in Maastricht.

The declared directors of Golden East have been Moir, Balachander and John McKenzie, but when we look at the distribution of the shares we see that a majority is held by Vijay Anandan Somu Rao. So who’s he?

Golden East Ltd shares allocation. Click to enlarge

Before moving on, you might as well know that there is also an Impactt company registered in the Netherlands. No surprise there, then!

As we’ve seen, Glynllifon Ltd was the vehicle set up to buy the Glynllifon hotel in September last year for a claimed £850,000. I emphasise ‘claimed’ because the building is worth half that. But paying over the odds is a classic money-laundering tactic.

Though the money to make the purchase allegedly came from Goldcrest Finance Ltd of Manchester, run by a family of Indian heritage. The other directors are John Charles McGuire and Steven Mark Gildea.

I’m fairly sure that McGuire and Gildea both live in Manchester, but Gildea might be of interest to Welsh readers.

I say that because other companies he’s involved with are: White House (Criccieth) Management Ltd; Aber Flats Management Company Ltd and Gwel yr Afon Ltd.

I’m not for one minute suggested that Gildea is up to no good but he is a director of Goldcrest Finance, and there are certainly questions to be asked of any company getting involved with Neil Moir and Rhys Williams.

Though telling Moir and Williams apart may not always be easy. Because there are those convinced Williams uses Moir’s name. It would make sense, because Williams is a bankrupt twice over, and before hiraeth got the better of him in Marbella he pissed off people it’s unwise to piss off.

However it’s being done, Williams and Moir are trying to launder dirty money through various property deals in north west Wales. Another one is the site of the old Marine Hotel in Caernarfon; on North Road overlooking the Menai.

Click to enlarge

Now you know me, I love to make enquiries . . .

The Marine Hotel site was bought in July this year by Malaysian Invest Ltd, a company giving an address we’re very familiar with – 160 City Road, London EC1V 2NX. The only director of this company is . . . yes, Neil Moir!

(Brian Balachander, of Golden East, has associates in Malaysia.)

The money to make the purchase supposedly came from Broadoak Private Finance Ltd of Abercynon . . . sorry! Manchester. Another of those ‘specialist lenders’ that seem to account for most of that city’s financial sector.

But Moir and Williams don’t need to borrow money. So taking out loans could mean:

  • The lender is a distraction to disguise the fact the buyers already have money
  • The lender will be ripped off (as happened with the loans to those who ended up at Plas Glynllifon. See ‘Weep for Wales’).

There was certainly no need to borrow money in this case. Because if we go back to the title document we see that in 2016 this land (with a couple of adjoining titles) was sold for £300,000. This, I’m told, was a cash purchase by Rhys Williams.

So, either Moir has bought the Marine Hotel site off Rhys Williams or, if Williams is using Moir’s name, then he’s bought it from himself. (Again, echoes of Plas Glynllifon.)

Lies, corruption and money laundering from start to finish. And on an inter-continental scale.

Which is why I insist that, as with Gwynfryn, planners and councillors should demand to know who is ultimately behind every commercial property development. Where is the money coming from?

I wish to thank Adrian Parsons, a victim of Rhys Williams, for his valuable contribution to this report.

Having mentioned Plas Glynllifon at Llandwrog more than once you might be interested to learn that Plas Glynllifon Ltd was finally wound up by an order of the court on 21 September. 

At the end, the company left eight unpaid loans with Together Commercial Finance Ltd – yet another of Manchester’s ‘specialist lenders’.

CLAD IN CONFUSION WITH A DOLLOP OF BULLSHIT

If you’ve been following the news then you’ll know that serious concerns have been raised about cladding on blocks of flats in Corruption Bay. And indeed elsewhere in Wales. But as concerns were taken to local MS Neil McEvoy, and given the number of new apartment blocks in Cardiff, that’s been the focus.

Finding the problem was enough of a worry, but now it’s emerged that the certificates saying everything was hunky-dory were faked. This came to light when one of the residents of Century Wharf became suspicious of the signature on the External Wall Fire Review (EWS1).

Image: WalesOnline. Click to enlarge

This concerned resident rang the surveyor – who was horrified to learn that her signature appeared to be on the form, because she had not signed it.

The inspection was undertaken by Specialist Facade Inspections Ltd, a company set up as recently as last October in Newbridge, Gwent; and with just one director, 22-year-old Joshua Tedstone.

Yet the article linked to says: “Paul Tedstone, chief technical officer of Specialist Facade Inspections, founded the company with his son in October last year. The company offers EWS1 certifications, cladding inspections and remedial works like re-cladding.”

So why isn’t the father a director of the company?

Whatever the answer, Tedstone Snr was adamant that he hadn’t forged the signatures either. And I’ve been told he’s probably right.

Even so, I got to wondering about Tedstone, and his background. What I found out makes for interesting reading. Below is a list of the companies Paul Tedstone has been involved with. Many of them have gone belly-up owing a lot of money.

I suppose it could all be bad luck . . . one episode after another of bad luck. But I find it difficult to believe that anybody could be this unlucky.

Paul Tedstone’s business record can be broken into three parts:

1/ From 1996 he was involved in three companies with a Glenn Dunn, all of which failed, one spectacularly, owing over £1.5m.

2/ From 2011 to 2017 he has parted company with Dunn, yet we see more failed companies, setting new records for debt.

3/ From 2018 Tedstone seems to have teamed up with local businessmen running interlinked companies. (The one exception is Alusafe ACM Ltd.)

Here’s the list of companies Paul Tedstone has been involved with in chronological order by his involvement. (And here’s the table in pdf format with working links.)

Click to enlarge

This story is still being teased out, but few will emerge from it with any credit.

Certainly not the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, which was given some £60m by Westminster for this very purpose . . . but spent it on something else.

HOW DID WE GET INTO THIS MESS?

For socialists like Labour and Plaid Cymru the 18th and 19th centuries were terrible times, ‘the people’ exploited by ‘evil capitalists’. (Leftists love their labels and their cliches!) And yet . . .

Those ‘evil capitalists’ who owned the mines, the slate quarries, the steel and tinplate works, even the great country estates and the big houses – created hundreds of thousands of jobs. Jobs that supported families, and communities, and a nation.

The countryside was dotted with small, family farms. Homes to Welsh families. Each little harbour had its fishing boats.

God! it must have been awful. Marinas and caravan parks and activity centres and holiday homes and OPDs and managed decline are such an improvement.

Today we are expected to welcome crooks and shysters such as you’ve read about here as ‘investors’. We must accept the wind turbines – all foreign owned! – that trash our hills and increase flooding – but create no jobs – because they contribute to saving the planet!

This is little different to 19th century clergymen urging workers and small farmers to accept their lot because there was some intangible reward at some unspecified time in an indeterminate future.

The real message was that there’s sod all for you in this life, Dai. So just accept your lot. It was, ‘Pie in the sky, by and by.’

And it’s the same message today . . . but without the jobs, and without the little fishing fleets, and with the Welsh family farm under concerted attack from socialist politicians in Corruption Bay and their soap-dodging and rewilding friends.

If exploitation was wrong in earlier centuries why is it acceptable now?

Is it because today we are lied to by a ‘Welsh Government’?

A ‘government’ that behaves no different to a third world kleptocracy in the way it allows the country to be exploited, or stands silent rather than confess its impotence. The only difference being that there are (to the best of my knowledge) no offshore accounts, no French chateaux.

That’s because those idiots in the ‘Welsh Government’ are either too stupid to see that they’re running Wales into the grave, or, it’s deliberate, done in order to maintain the system that has served them for a century: Poor Wales – blame the Tories – vote Labour.

That system has certainly served the Labour Party, but it has not served Wales.

Which is why it’s time to get rid of Labour, and their little helpers in Plaid Cymru, and anyone else who believes that socialism serves anyone other than socialist politicians.

Next May’s elections will be your chance to make a change. Use it by voting for Gwlad or the WNP. They’re Wales’ last hope.

♦ end ♦

 




‘Residential units’ – how many is too many?

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

After my tribulations last week, with computer and internet service, I’m delighted to report that everything is now resolved.

Despite the problems I managed to make a start on the piece you’re about to read. It’s yet another tale of money from north west England – possibly further afield – buying property in northern Wales. And as is so often the case, when you look more closely into what’s happening, and who’s involved, then the more questions arise.

BACKGROUND

An interesting property, Gwynfryn Plas, aka Plas Gwynfryn, near Llanystumdwy, on the Llŷn peninsula. Due to both forms being used I shall stick with ‘Gwynfryn’.

It was home to Hugh John Ellis-Nanney, scion of an anglicised Welsh gentry family. Educated at Eton and Oxford, and now the owner of a sizeable estate, Ellis-Nanney wanted a house to reflect his status, and so Gwynfryn was completed in 1878.

Persuaded to stand in the 1890 by-election for Caernarvon Boroughs, Conservative Ellis-Nanney was defeated by the Liberal candidate, up and coming local boy, David Lloyd George.

With Ellis-Nanney having no male heir the estate passed to his daughter, and after her death Gwynfryn served a number of purposes, finally a hotel, before being gutted by fire in 1982.

INTRODUCTION

From around 2010 reports appeared in the media bemoaning the fact that the old pile was in such a mess, with no one knowing who owned it. Here’s one report from the BBC in October 2011.

The location of Gwynfryn. Click to enlarge

In the report you will have read, “Aaron Hill, who lives near Caernarfon, wants to take over and renovate the property, which was gutted by fire in 1982”. Hang on! – Aaron Hill?

Yes, the very same Aaron Hill who bought 4 Glanrafon Terrace, near Bryn Llys, and then ‘loaned’ fraudster Jonathan Duggan the money to buy the land attached to the house. Done so Duggan could extend his holding and lay an unauthorised access road. (Bryn Llys is now called ‘Snowdon Summit View’.)

Which landed Duggan in court. I wrote about it a few weeks ago in Bryn Llys, the Liverpool connection.

From 2010 onwards there were also regular mentions of Gwynfryn in page-fillers often headed ‘Buildings at risk’ until, in 2018, we started reading that the charred old pile was for sale, with an asking price of £500,000.

Let’s get up to date.

WHO OWNS WHAT?

The original title document states that in April 1980 a couple named Hooper sold what remained of the Gwynfryn estate to Global Leisure Ltd. In 1995 it was transferred to Magnet International Holdings Ltd, a Guernsey-registered company. Magnet was compulsorily struck off in 2006.

UPDATE 19.10.2020: From Companies House in Guernsey I have now received more information on Magnet International Holdings Ltd. As might be expected with Channel Islands registrations, it’s just one company hiding behind another.

The shareholders are all companies using the name ‘Bachmann’ followed by a different Greek letter. Possibly this Peter John Bachmann.

While the listed directors are ADL One Limited and ADL Two Limited, both linked with a long list of mainly property companies. All of them using PO Box 175 in St Peter Port, Guernsey.

But, strangely, no mention of Philip Bush, who has owned the property throughout this period.

Image: Daily Mail. Gwynfryn, click to enlarge

If we carry on reading the title document we see that in June 2018: “Copy filed under CYM745545. 4 (28.06.2018) The land edged . . . has been removed from this title and registered under the title number . . . “ The property description has been altered to reflect the land alone remaining in the original title.

And confirming that the house is now registered under CYM745545, and owned by Aaron Hill. Who is said to have paid £100,000 for the ruin.

Unfortunately, the Land Registry does not offer maps with either title.

A MAN OF THE WORLD

Leaving the land around the house owned by Philip Andrew Bush, using as his address a PO box in Switzerland. Bush may be a successor to Magnet International Holdings.

He seems to be an interesting character, though getting information on him is not easy. Largely because he operates through foreign and offshore companies. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Bush is mentioned in the Paradise Papers.

Where he’s linked with Realmar Shipping Limited of Malta, as both director and judicial representative. If you have time, click on the J B Sorotto node, with its 74 connections.

Image: Offshore Leaks site maintained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Please make a donation. Click to enlarge

The only UK-based company I can find for Bush is Bush Shipping Limited, dissolved in 2010. Documents are available, including the final accounts.

The address given for Bush Shipping is 77 Walton Street, Chelsea. Since 2008 it has been home to Jak’s Cafe & Deli.

Of perhaps more interest is this Annual Return (to Companies House) from 2006. The other directors appear to be his daughters, but it’s the division of the 10,000 shares I found interesting. For Bush has just one share in his name, the other 9,999 are held by International Nominees SA, with an address in Switzerland.

Though the Paradise Papers tell us that International Nominees SA is actually based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). In fairness, I suppose the company could have moved since that document was filed with Companies House in 2006.

So, the man who owns the land around Gwynfryn is involved in shipping and a network – or networks – of offshore companies.

RECAP

We know the house and the land were owned under one title by Philip Andrew Bush, who may or may not have been a successor to the companies that had earlier owned the property, Global Leisure and Magnet International Holdings.

A number of reports from 2018/19 suggested that the house and the land were for sale together. This Facebook page tells us that someone believed this was still the case as late as November 2019.

Yet, as we’ve seen, the house was detached from the original title, and that new title bought by Aaron Hill 12 June 2018. So why did people over a year later think the house and land were still for sale?

Click to enlarge

And as if that wasn’t enough ducking and weaving, ‘now you see me, now you don’t’, who’s that over in the trees, in camouflage fatigues, watching Gwynfryn through his high powered binoculars? Well, bless me! – it’s Bore Grylls!

Because the address for Bore’s Dragon Raiders Activity Park is ‘Gwynfryn Lodge’. In addition, he owns a tract of woodland that belonged to the original estate.

Grylls is always looking to buy more of Wales so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s interested in buying the Gwynfryn land from Philip Bush. This would be one explanation for why it’s no longer for sale.

Which leaves the house, or what remains of it. Is Grylls also after that?

Because I’m still not clear why Aaron Hill bought Gwynfryn. I’m pretty sure he has neither the expertise nor the money to restore it. In fact, he may have no intention of restoring Gwynfryn.

Though others appear to have plans for Gwynfryn.

SALT AND VINEGAR

For last year Cyngor Gwynedd received a pre-application enquiry to turn the old house into “30 residential units”. The inquiry came from Partington & Associates Ltd of Chorley, Lancashire, on behalf of DM Property Group Ltd.

(What I’m referring to with this ‘enquiry’ is an approach from a developer to gauge the planning authority’s likely response; with the response influencing whether a planning application is submitted.)

Partington seems to be a genuine company, it’s certainly been going for a few years.  Though the information available with Companies House is pretty skeletal it does tell us that a director of Partington, who owns 50% of the shares, is David George Taylor.

Taylor turns up again as a director of DM Property Group. There’s little information available on DM Property because it was only formed in August 2019. Though Companies House can tell us that the other director is Michelle May Sturdy, who shares an address with Taylor.

An even more recent creation of Taylor and Sturdy is DM Commercial Property Group Ltd. Formed in June this year.

When she’s not planning property empires with David Taylor it seems Michelle Sturdy runs the local chippy.

So David Taylor of Partington & Associates has put in a pre-planning enquiry for himself and his other company, DM Property Group. Why couldn’t it have been done through DM Property?

To help you along here’s the council’s reply to Partington from November last year and here’s a notice that Partington, on behalf of DM Property, is going ahead with the planning application. The second document handily provides a link to drawings and other documentation.

Image: Partington & Associates. Click to enlarge

If we follow the road connecting the Plas with the highway we see that it runs through Cabin Wood and on to the lodge or gatehouse, owned by the maggot-munching man of action.

QUESTIONS

It could be that given Hill’s links with the Duggan gang at Bryn Llys, and the notoriety they’ve attracted, he might have thought he had more chance of getting planning approval for 30 residential units at Gwynfryn if the application came from someone else.

Another possibility is that a deal has been struck, conditional on planning permission being granted. By which I mean, DM Property will buy Gwynfryn from Hill but only if it gets planning permission.

What other reasons might there be for a company to submit a planning application for a property it doesn’t own? I’m open to suggestions.

Of course, there is the possibility that what’s planned for the old house forms part of a bigger project. Which is why I raised the possibilty of Bore Grylls being involved.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that Grylls would be involved in anything shady, but who can forget his ill-starred association with Gavin Lee Woodhouse at the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

Click to enlarge

Woodhouse, the self-styled ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’, came to a sticky end when his empire – built on selling rooms in his hotels as ‘investments’, also rooms in care homes that he never bothered building – was exposed last year.

If you didn’t catch them first time round, here’s what the Guardian had to say about Woodhouse, and here’s the ITV News’ verdict. (It was a joint investigation.)

I first wrote about the dynamic duo as early as April 2017, with English Tourism in the Colony of Wales. And many times afterwards. Many, many times.

Having been taken in by a con man I suppose we should be thankful Grylls is still with us. For it’s surely a miracle he survived all those SAS missions when instantly recognising and taking out the bad guys is a matter of life or death.

(Big sigh of relief! Touches wood.)

UPDATE 30.09.2020: I regret to inform you that Bore Grylls is no longer involved with Dragon Raiders at Llanystumdwy. Such a pity, as I enjoy writing about him. However . . .

A source tells me that those behind the Gwynfryn project are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong.

A company mentioned was Acquérir, where Armstrong is the sole director according to Companies House. This is a company offering, “Hands-off investing for the foreign investor”.

Though Wilmott has his companies AC Property Group Ltd and QA JV Ltd, both of which are also very new.

Where we find find Armstrong and Wilmott together is in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd, a company Incorporated as recently as last September.

My source further suggests that these two whizz-kids may have learnt all they know from motormouth Samuel Leeds. In this video we see Leeds talking with – or to – David Taylor of Partington & Associates and DM Property Group.

It’s said that Wilmott and Armstrong have exchanged contracts with Aaron Hill conditional on Taylor getting planning permission.

The picture at Gwynfryn is not yet high definition but definitely getting clearer. And if Armstrong and Wilmott are offering investment opportunities to foreign investors then, who knows, Gwynfryn could soon be owned by men with fur hats and snow on their boots!

‘Oh what a tangled web we weave . . . ‘.

CONCLUSION

Cyngor Gwynedd’s planners will no doubt insist that planning law must be adhered to. That’s their job. Though some of them have, in recent years, been far too zealous in accommodating ‘developers’.

So how is it likely to pan out?

The council’s planning officers will probably recommend that the planning committee (made up of councillors) approves the application for 30 residential units at Gwynfryn. I expect the committee to reject the recommendation and refuse planning permission.

The applicant(s) may at that stage appeal. If so, it becomes the responsibility of the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ to appoint an inspector to review the case and come to a decision that may over-rule the council planning committee.

This is where the farce turns into a charade. Because the ‘Welsh Government’ has no authority over the Planning Inspectorate. The Planning Inspectorate is run from London and invariably makes decisions against the Welsh national interest.

The bottom line is that we are helpless in the face of the onslaught represented by planning applications like this turning us into strangers in our own country. Helpless bystanders as Wales becomes England’s playground.

Even so . . .

It must be established who owns Gwynfryn.

What must also be established is the relationship between Aaron Hill, Partington & Associates / DM Property, Samuel Leeds, James Armstrong and Anthony Wilmott, and anyone else who might still be lurking in the shadows.

Also, the ownership of the land formerly linked with the house needs to be clarified, not least because so many offshore owners have been involved in the past. There is also the possibility that the plan for the Plas may be part of something bigger.

Let’s have the truth. Something so often absent from planning applications in Wales.

REMINDER

As I’ve said more than once . . . what passes for the UK economy is whatever best suits the City of London; that island unto itself floating on a cess-pit of corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance.

In Wales we see the ripples from the cess-pit in the form of crooks and shysters turning up looking for something to buy in order to launder money, or an address from which to operate shell companies.

(I’m not talking now of the Gwynfryn application but of countless other stories I’ve brought you over the years.)

Yet if devolution was what it pretends to be, if those in Corruption Bay were what they want us to believe they are, then this application at Llanystumdwy wouldn’t even get past the pre-application enquiry stage.

For the applicants would be told, ‘No, we don’t need this development because it offers nothing to the local area or to Wales other than further colonisation. Consequently, there is no point in you submitting a full planning application. Goodbye’.

It’s because we can’t do this that I don’t want to hear any more nonsense about “Making devolution work”, or that things would be so much better if only there was a different party managing the show.

Devolution is not supposed to ‘work’ for Wales; it is a purely cosmetic measure. Designed to give the Labour Party opportunities for cronyism and patronage, and Plaid Cymru a “Pocket money parliament”. (© N. McEvoy.)

Which is why it’s futile to try tinkering with devolution. Only independence can solve our problems and prevent Wales being completely assimilated into England.

And time is short.

♦ end ♦

 




Housing for Wales or housing for the Welsh?

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

We are confronted by a paradox. The stock of housing in Wales is growing, yet less and less of it is accessible to Welsh people.

INTRODUCTION

What I’m describing is a bizarre housing system that works against the native population while promoting the interests of strangers. A system too complex and too consistent in its outcomes to be attributed to incompetence or happenstance.

Once the bigger problem is deconstructed and its component parts exposed, then remedies present themselves. All that’s needed then is the political will to implement those remedies.

In this article I shall explain a problem and then make one or more suggestions for tackling it. I’m sure many of you reading this will have your own ideas – so let’s hear them.

PRICES, TOO HIGH AND TOO LOW

When dealing with house prices we find problems at both ends of the scale. On the one hand, houses are being built in many areas that most locals can’t afford – but that’s OK because they’re not intended for us.

Take Newport, Pembrokeshire, a ‘holiday hotspot’. Locals are being squeezed out of the local housing market and this shortfall is then used to justify building new housing . . . that is also beyond the reach of locals!

Such as this modest – and rather ugly – three-bedroom home for £425,000.

While at the other end of the scale, in declining seaside resorts and post-industrial areas, property prices are so low that they attract those who buy in bulk and ship in problems.

Which takes us to Llanelli, and the Ty Isha neighbourhood, by the railway station. Third sector bodies, private landlords and others have moved in, bought up terraced houses and flats, and dumped petty criminals and drug addicts from England.

I’m not sure how to read this without more information, but it’s pretty, and some people enjoy this kind of thing. Blame WalesOnline for ‘Tyshia’. Click to enlarge

Those who profit from trading in undesirables – with the full support and financial backing  of the ‘Welsh Government’ – were initially attracted to Ty Isha by low house prices, and they have succeeded in driving property values down even more!

Some of those interviewed in the report are now trapped in houses they have lived in all their married lives but can only sell at a price below what a house such as theirs would fetch in a normal neighbourhood.

Yet in a system that prioritised Welsh needs the small terraced houses of Ty Isha would make ideal starter homes for young people.

SUGGESTIONS: In the case of Newport, Pembs and countless other such developments, the answer is that we simply do not allow the building of new properties that locals either do not wish to buy or cannot afford to buy.

I’ll explain later how we could both achieve this and forecast local need.

To argue that allowing such properties takes the pressure of the existing stock, thereby making many such properties available for local buyers, is absolute bollocks. The numbers wanting to relocate to Wales is limitless, and the demand for holiday homes insatiable.

As for Ty Isha, funding should be withdrawn from any third sector body importing problems from outside of Wales to any part of Wales. The same should apply to housing associations.

I shall also offer suggestions for achieving these objectives.

Those whose properties have been devalued, and their lives affected by the riff-raff dumped around them, should be compensated by the ‘Welsh Government’.

THE NUMBERS GAME

Let’s now focus on the problem of houses being built in numbers greatly in excess of what Wales needs. And, again, at prices most of us can’t afford. This is particularly noticeable in the eastern parts of the country as English commuters look west for cheaper housing and nicer scenery.

Black-spots are along the A55 in the north and the M4 in the south and, since the removal of tolls on the Severn Bridge, increasingly evident in southern Gwent, including the city of Newport. An example would be the 900 dwellings of the ‘urban village’ planned for Mamhilad, north of Pontypool, towards Abergavenny, but close enough to the M4 for Bristol commuters.

Building in Wales to meet a demand from England has also become noticeable around Wrexham in recent years. It begins with the ‘Welsh Government’ producing absurd population projections to justify building an excessive number of new houses.

Then, when the projections are shown to be exaggerated, the Planning Inspectorate insists on sticking with the original number of new houses. This article explains it well.

I looked into this problem back as March 2014 in a piece I wrote about Denbighshire. The council said, “Look, the latest projections suggest a smaller population increase, so we don’t need to build so many new houses”.

The Planning Inspectorate’s response was, “Yes, you’re right about the population projections . . . but we insist on sticking with the original number of new dwellings”.

Planning Inspectorate insisting that discredited population projections still be used to determine housing provision. Click to enlarge

A response like that sort of gives the game away, doesn’t it?

Back in 2011 the ‘Welsh Government’ was insisting that the population of Wrexham would increase by 20% in the near future, then the projected increase reduced to 10%, and the latest calculation is that the borough’s population will actually fall by 1.5% by 2028! Yet the number of houses ‘needed’ must remain the same as when an increase of 20% was forecast.

Major housing developments planned around Wrecsam. None to the south or the west. Quelle surprise! Click to enlarge

As the map above makes clear, the planned developments are all to the north or the east of the town, in other words, convenient for Cheshire. Or rather, convenient for those who aren’t wanted in Cheshire, in order to preserve property values in Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and the other communities of the ‘Golden Triangle’.

Add to all the new housing the proposed road improvements and the fate allotted to Wrecsam becomes clear. The A483 is of course the road to Chester.

Here’s a late addition about 200 more houses at Rhosrobin, right next to the A483.

What has clearly been happening is that the ‘Welsh Government’ (or others acting in its name) has been producing what it knew to be inflated, contrived, population projections. Done to justify building excessive numbers of new dwellings.

When the population projections were exposed as bogus, and revised downwards, the Planning Inspectorate stuck with the discredited figures in order to push on with building what were now clearly excessive numbers of new houses.

And by so doing the Planning Inspectorate exposed a dishonest system.

SUGGESTIONS: To begin with, calculations to determine how many new homes an area needs must be based on what the people of the area need, not on how many properties developers think they can sell. In fact, I can’t think of any good reason why developers need to be involved in assessing demand.

The Wrecsam area being used to take pressure off Cheshire is part of the wider integration strategy of the Mersey Dee Alliance. A giveaway is estate agents referring to the area as ‘West Cheshire’.

The Planning Inspectorate does not serve Welsh interests, it never has. It must be replaced with a new Welsh body free from political interference and divorced from commercial interests.

Why can’t we have a register of those who think they’ll be looking to buy a new home within an area; something similar to the waiting list for social housing. Once people grasp that contributing to such a database will make it more likely they’ll find the home they need then the more likely they’ll be to participate.

HOLIDAY HOMES

A perennial issue in Wales and the Covid lockdown has highlighted the problem. First, it was people sneaking to their holiday homes for lockdown rather than staying at their usual residence, while more recently it’s been the increased demand for holiday homes.

The latest figures for Gwynedd suggest that 40% of the properties being sold in the county are now bought for use as holiday homes. Take the towns out of the calculation and it’s reasonable to assume that a majority of the properties in villages and in the countryside are being sold as holiday homes.

Gwynedd council is run by Plaid Cymru but it has only imposed a 50% surcharge on holiday homes. Yet another example of Plaid Cymru wringing its hands, “Oooh, isn’t it awful, something should be done”, yet when a roar of defiance was needed Plaid Cymru could only whimper.

This is Plaid Cymru terrified of being called ‘anti-English’. That mauling Glenys Kinnock handed out to Ieuan Wyn Jones on Question Time in February 2001 has left a deep and painful scar.

Swansea waterfront. Click to enlarge

Compare Gwynedd to Swansea, where the Labour-controlled council has imposed a 100% surcharge, (which also applies to properties left empty for a long period). And in case you think this is only a gesture because the city has few holiday homes, there are many hundreds in the waterfront area, and of course, on Gower.

All the arguments used in defence of holiday homes are self-serving bullshit. “Nobody else wanted the place” . . . “But we put so much money into the local economy!” . . . “An essential part of the tourism industry”, etc, etc.

SUGGESTIONS: One simple change in the law would go a long way to easing the misery of holiday homes.

Legislation stating that only 10% of properties in any electoral ward can be registered as holiday homes, with the figure reducing to 5% in 2030 would have a number of immediate effects.

First, in wards where more than 10% of properties are currently registered as holiday homes such legislation would immediately curtail future demand. Knowledge of the change in 2030 would remove the threat of further properties being bought as holiday homes.

Resulting in more properties, at reduced prices, becoming available for locals.

Severe penalties must be imposed for using a property as a holiday home when it is not registered for that use. And the loophole allowing holiday homes to escape council tax by registering as a business must be closed.

To further reduce the demand for holiday homes and increase their contribution to the local community council tax should be charged at a rate of 200%.

Some may think that a 5% figure is too low, others that it’s unduly generous. My belief is that no area of Wales should suffer more than 5% of its housing stock being used by strangers flaunting their greater wealth.

RETIRING TO WALES

An often overlooked factor in inflating house prices is retired and elderly people moving to Wales. The negatives increase when we remember that the older a person is the more likely they are to need medical care of some kind. This is a universal truth.

Which means that this influx will obviously impact on our NHS and other services.

In fact, it’s difficult to think of any benefit Wales derives from people in the older age brackets moving in. But that doesn’t stop some from trying.

Some three years ago I wrote to the ‘Welsh Government’ with a few questions on this subject. What I received by way of an answer contained a paragraph that has caused either mirth, or head shaking, whenever people read it. (For the full letter, click here.)

Click to enlarge

On a planet where all other countries view an ageing population as a ‘ticking time-bomb’ Wales alone sees the takeover by alien wrinklies as something positive. Or rather, the ‘Welsh Government’ wants us to believe it does.

This is the sort of nonsense that officialdom spouts when it’s cornered. I say that because while the letter I received makes highfalutin’ references to “liberty of movement” the truth is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has enacted legislation that encourages retired and elderly people to move to Wales.

Click to enlarge

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine that Welsh people going into care can hold on to £50,000, I might benefit from such a provision myself one day. But it also encourages into Wales people who have spent their working lives elsewhere. And the cost of looking after these elderly goes into the debit column of our national accounts and is used to prove that Wales is a financial basket-case.

I see a boy at the back with his hand up, “How big is the problem, Sir?”

Here’s a table I compiled using data from the 2011 Census. You’ll see that in some local authority areas only a minority of the population in the 65+ age bracket was born in Wales.

Click to enlarge

With the problem not confined to the north, just look at Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. There’s a definite correlation between tourism and the numbers of retired and elderly people moving to an area.

Though Flintshire would appear to buck the trend in that it is not a tourism hotspot, but even so, half of the over 65s were born in England. While this can be partly explained by maternity services being located in Chester I can also suggest another explanation.

Let’s say you’re a likely lad living on the Wirral. Aunt Mabel is going to leave you her money, a nice round figure of £100,000. If she goes into a local care home you might only see £23,350, but take her to Mold or Connah’s Quay and you’re guaranteed at least £50,000. More if you can get the local authority to cough up.

And, anyway, is the old girl going to know where she is!

Finally, let’s not forget the political dimension to this phenomenon. It has been proven time after time that the older an English voter is the more likely that person is to be royalist, patriotically British, pro-Brexit, conservative and Conservative.

From a Welsh perspective, encouraging retired and elderly English people into Wales is both an economic and a political disaster. But it benefits England for the same reasons.

SUGGESTIONS: There’s no need to deny Welsh people the £50,000 limit, but insist on 20 years residency in Wales before anyone qualifies.

And let’s stop building retirement bungalows and flats to be advertised over the border. Many of those who move to such properties may be fit and active when they arrive, but Father Time will soon do his work.

Only a country run by idiots drives out its own young people and replaces them with another country’s elderly.

SOCIAL HOUSING

At one time it was so simple – local authorities built and rented council houses. You put your name down on the list and you waited your turn. Obviously there was favouritism shown in certain allocations, but by and large the system worked to the benefit of Welsh communities.

Then came the housing associations and the transfer of council housing stock.

There’s a general and touching misconception that Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), more commonly known as housing associations, have simply replaced councils, and that social housing is universally available for those who cannot afford to buy a home but would rather not rent from a private landlord.

Er, no.

That was the intention, and that may have been how it started under the new system, but things got much more complicated as years went by. Much more complicated.

There are a number of fundamental problems with the way RSLs now operate.

1/ To begin with, social housing in Wales is locked into an Englandandwales system. This was explained to me in December 2010 in a response I received from Nick Bennett, who was then CEO of Community Housing Cymru, the umbrella organisation for housing associations.

He wrote, “There are over 2 million people on waiting lists for social housing”. This figure cannot be for Wales alone, and yet it was provided by the head of the body supposedly responsible for social housing in Wales. And only in Wales.

Bennett emerged a couple of decades ago from under a lily pad in Cardiff Bay as a fully-formed Spad, before becoming a business partner of Labour’s Alun Davies. He then served as CEO at Community Housing Cymru from 2006 to 2014, and since leaving CHC he has guarded the posterior regions of our politicians and civil servants as the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Corruption Bay in mortal form.

Who gets a vacant house may be decided by a third sector body, in contact with a sister body in England, which has ‘recommended’ Chardonnay and her six semi-feral children; the little darlings having been chased out of their last home by neighbours fed up with the thieving and the vandalism.

They get priority treatment, “Cos they is homeless, innit. Little kiddies, look”.

This rehousing of ‘priority cases’ can have catastrophic consequences. As we learnt when Grwp Gwalia of Swansea housed a network of Satan-worshipping paedophiles from London in Kidwelly.

It was never explained why this was done. And no politicians asked . . . because they didn’t want to know. ‘Priority cases’ are still being dumped in Wales, every day.

2/ A more recent problem with housing associations – and there are dozens of them, competing with each other – is that they are now privatised, but still in receipt of public funding.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, nearly all of them have subsidiaries, or private companies that are not subsidiaries but still members of the group. And then there are the partners.

This diversification has led to the mis-use of public funding, an almost complete lack of monitoring and accountability, and RSL group members building private housing for open market sale. Sold to retirees (officially ‘downsizers’), buy-to-rent landlords (officially ‘investors’), and even as holiday homes. While also selling shares in leasehold properties, with the agreements poorly explained and many duped into thinking they’re buying a freehold property.

This, remember, is the hated leasehold system that the ‘Welsh Government’ elsewhere opposes. Yet it is funding RSLs who then slip money under the table to subsidiaries, or partners, to con people into buying a share in a leasehold property.

To explain how confusing it can become, I suggest you read this piece I wrote recently on Cartrefi Conwy and its offshoots. (Scroll down to the section ‘Cartrefi Conwy, Associates, Chinese investors’.)

Brenig Construction, with Chinese investment, is in partnership with Creating Enterprise, which is a subsidiary of RSL Cartrefi Conwy. Wales and West is Labour’s favourite RSL and the only one that operates all over the country. It has a bad record for housing drug addicts and petty criminals from outside of Wales in towns like Lampeter and Fishguard. Click to enlarge

What a system! What a ‘government’! What a country!

SUGGESTIONS: The bottom line is that what Wales needs is social landlords renting decent housing to Welsh tenants. Nothing more.

We don’t need subsidiaries of RSLs using diverted public funding to build and sell buy-to-rents in Pembrokeshire. Nor do we want convoluted arrangements using Chinese money to build more retirement bungalows and flats on the north coast.

Housing associations are past their sell-by date. A root-and-branch reform of the social housing system is needed. Wales must leave behind the mess created by ‘diversification’ and adopt a system closer to the original council housing model.

One big question will be what happens to the housing stock currently held by RSLs. Seeing as almost all of it was either built by local authorities, or built since stock transfer with money from the ‘Welsh Government’, a strong case could be made to bring it back into public ownership.

This twilight zone of private bodies living off the public purse while also taking out commercial loans with banks and behaving like private developers must end.

In the meantime, to avoid the dumping of undesirables, no one should be allocated a social tenancy by a RSL unless that person has been resident in Wales for at least 10 years.

CONCLUSION

We have a housing sector in Wales that has for years been steadily divorcing itself from the needs of our people. The situation has worsened under devolution.

There is clearly a strategy to settle in Wales as many people as possible who are loyal to the UK or England, in order to ‘secure’ Wales. We can expect this assault on Welsh identity to intensify with Scotland looking more and more likely to choose independence in the next few years.

There is one final weapon in the armoury that can be employed to stem the tide of colonisation. That is the Land Transaction Tax (LTT). It replaced Stamp Duty and it’s already in operation.

Below is a table I’ve compiled showing the current LTT rates with higher rates I’m suggesting as a way to curb the invasion. ‘Existing main residence’ is self-explanatory. Holiday homes are covered by ‘Existing higher residential’.

My suggestions are at the bottom, in yellow. What I’m proposing is higher rates all round for those not already living in Wales. Exceptions could be made for key workers, investors and others deemed necessary for the national good.

Click to enlarge

I am also suggesting that LTT kicks in lower down the price scale, and there’s a good reason for this. In the Valleys, post-industrial towns, even parts of Swansea, properties sell at prices buyers from prosperous areas of England find irresistible. Many are being bought for the wrong reasons.

Just think back to Ty Isha, Llanelli.

What’s more, most properties bought by retirees will be below the £250,000 threshold, so why should they be free of LTT?

I suppose one response to everything I’ve written will be, “It all depends on the political will”, and clearly that political will is absent. For the following reasons.

  • Civil servants of the ‘Wales would be better without the Welsh’ mindset ‘advising’ – some shagging! – ‘Welsh Government’ ministers.
  • A zealously Unionist Labour Party containing too many politicians who can dismiss concern for Welsh identity as ‘ugly and narrow-minded nationalism’. And then of course they have their third sector and housing association cronies to think about.
  • A Conservative Party (plus a rag-bag of BritNats) who will never object to English people moving to Wales, or the votes they bring. “All British . . . free to move anywhere . . . God Save the Queen.”
  • A so-called ‘national party’, Plaid Cymru, scared witless of being called anti-English by the anti-Welsh. And anyway, national survival is nowhere near as important as trans rights, BLM, refugees, getting Trump out of the White House . . . 

You’ve read that 40% of the properties now sold in Gwynedd are to be used as holiday homes. I’ll bet that another 40% are bought by people moving from England into Gwynedd permanently. And it’s the same in other rural areas.

Thanks to the refusal of successive ‘governments’ in Corruption Bay to build a rural economy, the forced reliance on ‘shit anywhere’ tourism, the neglect of everywhere other than Cardiff . . . Wales, thanks to the ‘progressive’ parties’ refusal to confront the assimilation agenda, is approaching the point of no return.

To refuse to challenge the assimilation agenda is to accept it.

♦ end ♦

 




Tourism in Wales: problems, thoughts, suggestions

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

I’m taking a break from the con men, fraudsters and assorted crooks who figure regularly here. But I’m not moving far, because this week I’m focusing on tourism operators, politicians and others who themselves have but a nodding acquaintance with the truth.

THE STORM BREAKS

One of the benefits of coronavirus and lockdown was the absence of tourists, and the joyous consequences of that absence. Such as much less traffic on our rural roads, fewer call-outs for our emergency services, and in all manner of ways making rural and coastal areas of Wales more pleasant for those who live there all year round.

Making recent months seem even more of a lost golden age has been the irruption of noisy, stupid and irresponsible tourists since lockdown was eased by our self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, bowing to pressure from the Conservative and Unionist Party and tourism operators.

There has inevitably been a reaction from local people to the return of the tourists in what have been, literally, overwhelming numbers. What you see below was the scene two weeks ago near Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).

Click to enlarge

Much of the anger this has generated is directed at motorists, with many photos in print and online of inconsiderately parked cars. Which allowed some to argue that all would be well if we had bigger car parks to accommodate all the vehicles. Or even park and ride schemes.

Both of which ignore the real problem – many areas get more cars than the local road system can handle, and more people than the environment can cope with. I shall return to the environmental angle later.

Let’s also remember that the problems caused by tourism go way beyond traffic issues.

RESPONSES

Here’s a two-page spread from last Wednesday’s Llais y Sais, in which we read Councillor Gareth Thomas, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Head of Economical Development, opine that, despite the recent problems, tourism, “provides high quality jobs for local people as well as supporting the county’s environment, language, culture and destinations”.

“Destinations”?

Click to enlarge

I don’t know Gareth Thomas, he might be a great bloke, but anyone saying that tourism provides high quality jobs, and that it also supports the area’s environment, language and culture is talking absolute nonsense.

Yesterday’s Daily Post carried what might have been an attempt to retrieve the situation. (With first minister Drakeford not ruling out a tourism tax . . . sort of.) But did council leader Dyfrig Siencyn really say, as he is quoted: ” . . . our rural economy is totally dependent on the tourism industry”?

A fuller version of this article may have appeared in Llais y Sais, Read it here.

Perhaps hoping to establish its own credentials vis-à-vis tourism opposition group Llais Gwynedd also weighed in. For those unfamiliar with Llais Gwynedd (which has 6 councillors), it sees itself as perhaps more radical than Plaid Cymru, more rooted in the local communities of Gwynedd.

Its spokesman, Glyn Daniels, wants to charge hikers on Yr Wyddfa £1 per head. I don’t know Glyn Daniels either, but he’s also talking rubbish. At £1 per head the money raised wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs of collecting and processing it.

What’s more, it would not serve as a deterrent. And we need some kind of deterrent to reduce the numbers coming to areas like our national parks and other ‘honey pots’. To cover the costs mentioned, and put a decent amount into the communities affected, the charge would need to be a minimum of £10 a head.

In a Daily Post poll, more than 70% of respondents agreed there should be a charge.

Opposing Councillor Daniels’ suggestion to charge hikers was Brân Devey, of Ramblers Cymru, with a remark I found rather puzzling: “Local people will not go up Snowdon really in the summer, it is too busy”.

Is he saying we shouldn’t charge the people overcrowding Yr Wyddfa in summer because they’re not locals?

‘Ramblers Cymru’ is worth a little detour.

‘RAMBLERS CYMRU’?

You will remember that ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson, Minister for Hippies in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition 2007 – 2011, and midwife of One Planet Developments, was also Welsh vice-president of The Ramblers before stepping down in 2007, and then, as grough tells us, she rejoined as president when she departed Corruption Bay in 2011.

But of course she shunned The Ramblers, and the ramblers, while she was a minister.

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For some reason this second stint with The Ramblers is not mentioned in Davidson’s Wikipedia entry. (By the time you read it the page might have been re-written, again.)

Though it’s difficult to make out if there really is a group called Ramblers Cymru or, as the grough article I just linked to puts it, Davidson became “president of the Ramblers in Wales”.

The website, https://www.ramblers.org.uk/wales, suggests another Englandandwales organisation, for when you click ‘Home’ on the Wales page you go back to the UK site.

Which is appropriate, for most of those working for Ramblers Cymru have moved here to do jobs that are clearly beyond the abilities of Welsh people. Mainly women of the type who have flooded into Wales since devolution to run the hundreds of third sector bodies that the ‘progressive’ parties feel we can’t do without.

One, Maria Hamlett, says: “My background includes working in numerous third sector organisations in key governance roles”. While Amanda Hill has: “15 years experience working for Worcestershire County Council”. Rebecca Brough: “I have a background in policy influencing work in the governmental, charity and statutory sectors”.

Important points there. For the staff at Ramblers Cymru don’t restrict themselves to scolding a wicked farmer for leaving Berwyn the bull on the footpath, they also seek to influence policy-makers. Just as Jane Davidson did, before, during, and after her stint as a minister.

The people I’m describing do not represent – nor do they seek to represent – our interests. If Welsh interests are served then it’s entirely accidental or tangential. ‘Ramblers Cymru’ and similar organisations seek to curate (love that word!) our homeland for the benefit of others like themselves.

We have far too many colonialist organisations like ‘Ramblers Cymru’.

Because it is what it is no one should be surprised to learn that – just like ‘rewilders’ – The Ramblers demand that the ‘Welsh Government’ forces farmers to do their bidding or have their funding withheld.

Dontcha just love the term, ‘our land’. Another example of, ‘What’s yours is ours’.

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The Ramblers merit this digression because they see Wales as an area for recreation. For them Wales is not a different country; where people witness their language and identity, the country itself, being destroyed by saturation tourism.

What should also make you angry is that these memsahibs, based on Cathedral Road (ideal for rambling), and others just like them, have more influence in Corruption Bay than we poor natives will ever have.

WHAT THE POLITICIANS SAY

That ‘our’ politicians go along with ‘Playground Wales’ is easily explained.

The Labour Party, which has managed Wales since 1999, is an urban party with little concern for rural areas. Labour has no coherent economic plan for the countryside so pretending there is a ‘strategy for tourism’ is a useful way of disguising this inadequacy.

The truth is that tourism is unregulated; it just ‘happens’, and things would carry on in much the same way if the ‘Welsh Government’ fell into a wormhole and reappeared in some distant galaxy. (Stop dreaming!) Making bodies like Visit Wales little more than bystanders, pretending they do something more than organise beanos where they hand out awards and grants.

Click to read article and play video

One of the few things to be said in its favour is that tourism reveals the inconsistency, if not the hypocrisy, of the Labour Party.

Wales must be covered in wind turbines to save the planet, says Labour. For the same reason, OPDs must be allowed to impose their carbon footprint on previously unused land. Yet when our environment is trashed by tourist hordes on a regular basis Labour politicians are blind to the environmental damage!

Another example of Labour’s hypocrisy might be promoting renewable energy, saving the planet, and worrying about the underprivileged . . . while giving millions of pounds to Aston Martin to build £200,000 cars doing 12 miles to the gallon.

The ‘Welsh Government’s declaration of a climate emergency is just bullshit to explain away Wales being lumbered with the wind turbines English communities refuse to accept, and having to accommodate Jane Davidson’s friends.

The Conservative and Unionist Party (plus the fringe BritNats) will support tourism because they will never object to anything that both anglicises Wales and keeps money flowing back to England from staycations in Wales.

Blind, unthinking loyalty to tourism probably explains the comment, quoted in the North Wales Pioneer, from Darren Millar, the MS for Clwyd West, addressing Glyn Daniels’ pound a head suggestion. In Millar’s view, “This is a bad idea. Every pound charged will be a pound less for people to spend in the local economy”.

If Darren Millar had thought before speaking he’d have realised that every pound charged would be guaranteed to stay in the locality, unlike money taken in other ways.

What’s more, those who drive to Yr Wyddfa – to park here, there and everywhere – are often day-trippers, from Greater Manchester, Merseyside and towns nearby. Some will arrive having filled the fuel tank before leaving England, bring a packed lunch, and go home without spending a penny!

For the environmental damage alone, these buggers should be charged £20 a head.

While Plaid Cymru . . . well, what can I say? Plaid Cymru nowadays doesn’t give much thought to Wales. They’re too busy facing up to the fascist hordes they see advancing, outing terfs on social media, and planning more dirty tricks against Neil McEvoy.

Though maybe it’s best they stay schtum, because when they do address the subject – as we’ve seen with Gareth Thomas – they only confirm that they’ve lost the plot.

Whenever a political party, or a politician, says, ‘Wales needs tourism’ they are either lying or exposing their ignorance. The truth is only arrived at by reversing the phrase to read, ‘Tourism needs Wales’.

To conclude this section on a more optimistic note, Wales has two new political parties – Gwlad and the WNP – who I’m sure will take a more analytical, and patriotic, approach to tourism.

I expect both to demand a form of tourism that works for Wales, and the Welsh. Rather than what we suffer at present – an alien enterprise with Welsh people nothing but helpless bystanders as their country is trashed.

MAKING TOURISM WORK FOR US

Let me set out my stall . . .

  • I want to see an industry offering visitors from all over the world quality tourism.
  • An industry that provides business opportunities and well-paid, permanent  jobs for Welsh people.
  • An industry that benefits Wales and her people without the cultural, social and environmental damage currently being inflicted by tourism.

Here are just a few suggestions for achieving these objectives:

1/ Tourism tax: A minimum charge of £2 per head per overnight stay, including those in self-catering accommodation. This to be collected by the owner of the property or site and paid to the local authority.

This money will used in the areas from which it is collected or on capital projects of more widespread benefit. Why not consult local people on how they’d like to see it spent?

Tourism tax is raised everywhere and it benefits local communities. I recall Silvio Berlusconi having to pay a local tourism tax in Sardinia when he docked his luxury yacht, the Bunga Bunga.

2/ Caravan sites: These is no place for these blots on the landscape in a country promoting quality tourism in a respected environment. They offer holidays on the cheap and the money they put into the local economy is overstated. Very few jobs are created and the major beneficiary is the site owner, often a foreign company.

Caravan sites should be phased out over a period of ten years with no replacement ‘vans, cabins or lodges permitted. Thousands of acres could be returned to agriculture or Nature by getting rid of them.

Farmers and others should be allowed small sites of perhaps no more than 50 units.

To maximise tourism income, business opportunities and jobs we should strive to have as many people as possible staying in serviced accommodation.

3/ Raising standards: In New Zealand – a country with which we often like to compare Wales – they have a School of Tourism, operating on eight campuses throughout the country, internationally respected and offering a wide range of courses.

In Wales, all we do is teach Siôn and Sioned elementary catering skills at the local sixth form college so they can work for Kevin from Stockport who owns the local hotel . . . since he bought it off Keith and Sharon from Coventry. Kevin, of course, will have had no training.

Or it might be Paul and Rowena Williams at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor. Or their business partner, Myles Cunliffe. (‘Weep for Wales’ passim.) Or perhaps Siôn and Sioned can get a job at one of the hotels owned by Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

Or perhaps not, seeing as all the businesses owned by these crooks are closed and/or in the hands of receivers.

Which is why other countries insist on a proven level of proficiency, and background checks, before anyone is allowed to run a hotel. But here, money is all that matters. As long as you’ve got the dosh you can buy a five star hotel, and run it badly, thereby damaging the reputation of the locality, and Wales.

You can even buy a zoo without knowing anything about the care of animals!

4/ Permits: New Zealand provides another example worth following. (And NZ isn’t alone in this.) I’m referring now to limiting numbers visiting environmentally sensitive areas and issuing those visiting with permits.

If you live outside Wales and you want to go hiking in one of our national parks then you should pay £20 a year. For the three national parks you pay £50 a year. If the National Trust can charge us to visit sites in our own country, why can’t we do something similar and use the money for our benefit?

Again, the money raised would be used within the local area.

Click to read article

5/ Airports: You don’t need to go as far as New Zealand to realise the value of a good airport. Scotland is a much nearer example. Overseas tourists, high-spending overseas tourists, fly directly to Glasgow and Edinburgh. They do so all year round.

All we have is Cardiff airport, kept afloat by public money and still losing out to Bristol. We obviously need a new, more accessible airport in the south. We also need one in the north. Why not revamp Llanbedr airfield? It would be better to have overseas tourists flying in than to have the place used – as at present – for testing inaccurate drones that will wipe out wedding parties in Afghanistan.

Well-heeled foreign tourists flying in also offer opportunities for taxi and car hire firms.

6/ Public Transport: Overseas and other tourists not wanting to drive will need public transport. An integrated public transport system is therefore essential. This would have to include a north-south rail link.

The ‘Welsh Government’ has prevaricated for years over re-opening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line. That’s because doing so would offer no obvious benefits to Cardiff or to England.

Yet you’d think that an administration dedicated to saving the planet would prioritise public transport. But no, and this lack of commitment to public transport – apart from the Cardiff Metro (to benefit the Cardiff economy not the environment) – is yet another example of Labour’s hypocrisy.

7/ Funding: A major obstacle to Welsh people getting involved in tourism – other than as cooks and cleaners – is a lack of finance.

The ‘Welsh Government’ could divert a portion of the funding it squanders on third sector memsahibs into a pot accessible to young Welsh people who’ve been through school, got a few years practical experience under their belts, and now need funding to branch out on their own.

I appreciate that this is not how tourism is supposed to operate in a colonial context, but what the hell – let’s give it a try!

8/ Touring caravans and Camper-vans: I’m throwing this one in more as a traffic safety measure and a means of lowering blood pressure, but it’s definitely related to tourism.

No towed caravans or camper-vans should be allowed on any public highway between the hours of 6am and 10pm.

CONCLUSION

Tourism in Wales can be summed up as hundreds of thousands of people driving east to west along overcrowded roads, congregating in unsustainable numbers at certain points, staying in the cheapest possible accommodation (if they stay at all), and spending as little money as possible before driving home. Each wave succeeded by the next, and each wave contributing to erosion.

So, what do you think – should we continue to accept ‘Tourism at any cost’?

I say no. I say we reject the idea that Wales exists to provide cheap holidays for our neighbours. Wales should not provide anything to anyone on the cheap.

But the political will must be there to make the necessary changes.

If the political will is absent then we as a nation have every right to defend ourselves from this exploitation of our homeland, this assault on our very identity.

♦ end ♦

 




Miscellany 15.01.2020

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

It’s time for a round-up of a few topics that have moved on since I last dealt with them. With one ‘newcomer’.

FOREIGN AID

You may recall that in Miscellany 09.12.2019, and under the section headed ‘Foreign aid’, we looked at a number of interlinked organisations that, collectively, I described as Wales’ foreign aid programme.

These were, the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and Hub Cymru Africa. I looked at how these organisations are funded, and how that money is spent.

It started with someone directing me to a tweet from the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, of which Plaid Cymru AM Helen Mary Jones is sponsor.

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We can also see Labour AMs Vaughan Gething and Baroness Eluned Morgan in the tweet. So the self-styled ‘progressives’ were well represented at this event.

What we see with these organisations is a great deal of Welsh public funding being diverted to an area for which the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has no responsibility. With the bulk of the money then spent on salaries for people who have moved to Wales to get their snouts in the third sector trough.

Which results in millions of pounds of Welsh public money being spent in ways that provide no benefits whatsoever to Wales or to Welsh people.

Last week there was a sequel. In the Senedd. When Neil Hamilton, the regional AM for south and west Wales, raised the issue of Wales’ foreign aid programme.

Click here to see the video clip of his question and the response from Rebecca Evans the minister for finance. (Also note the intemperate cheering that greets the mention of Jac o’ the North!)

I accept that Neil Hamilton is not everyone’s cup of tea, he’s made mistakes. But he’s not evil, as some on the left like to portray anyone who doesn’t meet with their approval. And he’s certainly not lobby fodder, or a self-serving hypocrite, or a swivel-eyed member of the ‘woke’. Categories that cover most of the other AMs.

Neil Hamilton can fairly be described as his own man. And he’s one of my AMs.

Which is important, seeing as my constituency AM is Lord Elis Thomas, elected for Plaid Cymru in 2016 but who quickly defected to become an ‘Independent’ . . . but Labour in all but name. Now he serves as young Kenny Skates’ bag man.

The other regional AMs for mid and west Wales are Labour’s Baroness Eluned Morgan and Joyce Watson, with Plaid’s Helen Mary Jones. None of whom would raise a question about public funding being wasted on gesture politics.

Of course not, Labour AMs are not going to challenge their own management team. And Plaid Cymru only becomes mildly critical of Labour – in a comradely sort of way – during election campaigns.

I want to turn now to Rebecca Evans’ response, which can be found in the image below.

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Note first that Rebecca Evans claims to belong to “a global, internationalist Welsh Government that takes its responsibilities to the planet and to others very seriously”.

Bollocks! She belongs to a devolved administration, with limited powers and responsibility for Wales alone.

Diverting to the home districts of third sector operatives of African origin what little is left after salaries are deducted, glossy reports produced, awards ceremonies and similar bun fights organised, achieves sod all for Wales.

How about this for a snide and supercilious remark, ” . . . it might speak more easily to the Member’s set of values . . . “. After that barb she took flight, Icarus-like, from the sunlit uplands of globalism with nonsense about ‘maintaining peace’, and with fighting the ‘climate crisis’ overseas.

This might be delusional if it was said by a representative of a wealthy, independent country. But when it comes from the management team of an impoverished province then it is positively insulting.

Just stick to the day job. Try thinking about the Welsh for a change. Those poor buggers who brought devolution into existence in 1997 and have been ignored ever since while posturing arseholes down Corruption Bay pretend to save humanity. Oh, yes, and the planet.

WEEP FOR WALES 16A

I hadn’t planned on writing anything about the Plas Glynllifon/Seiont Manor gang(s) but so much has happened since Weep for Wales 16 that I just can’t keep on updating it.

Weep for Wales 16 went out on January 2, and here’s a resumé of what’s happened since then.

1/ On the 4th, the Daily Post reported the ‘temporary’ closure of Seiont Manor.

2/ On the 8th, NorthWalesLive (the online version of the Daily Post) reported that Plas Glynllifon is in the hands of receivers. This is the BBC report.

3/ On the 10th, NorthWalesLive told us that Seiont Manor is also in the hands of receivers.

4/ NorthWalesLive reported that Paul and Rowena Williams, the former owners and now co-owners of both Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, will be topping the bill with co-owner Myles Cunliffe in the High Court’s Business and Property Courts in Manchester on January 17.

Let’s try to make sense of these developments, the claims and counter-claims.

The first report, about the Seiont Manor closing ‘temporarily’, is pure bullshit. Cunliffe knew that the hotel wasn’t opening again.

In number two we read that Duff and Phelps have been appointed receivers for Plas Glynllifon Ltd by Together Commercial Finance Ltd, which has 8 outstanding charges against the company. And even though the ‘Filing history’ gives the date of January 7, the receiver was in fact appointed on December 17.

As explained in this Companies House document. The publication of the news was presumably delayed by the Christmas and New Year holiday. Even so, I have no doubt that both the Williams duo and Cunliffe knew the game was up long before they tucked into their Brussels sprouts.

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In number 3 we read of two companies – Plas Glynllifon Ltd and Rural Retreats & Development Ltd – and three properties, Plas Glynllifon, Seiont Manor and Polvellan House in Cornwall. We’ve just looked at Plas Glynllifon Ltd, while Rural Retreats & Development Ltd is the owner of Seiont Manor and Polvellan House.

The eight outstanding charges against Plas Glynllifon Ltd all refer to the mansion of that name and adjoining land. Whereas the seven outstanding charges against Rural Retreats & Development Ltd found on the Companies House website seem to apply to assorted parcels of land unrelated to Seiont Manor.

Yet the title document for Seiont Manor hotel (below) clearly shows four charges held by Together Commercial Finance Ltd. Page 5 of the document clears up the mystery by explaining that these charges are bundled up with other titles. (The assorted parcels of land referred to in the previous paragraph.)

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It seems fairly obvious that Together Commercial Finance Ltd realises it’s loaned too much money to people and companies unlikely to ever repay, and also perhaps – given recent history – to properties that may have been over-valued. So now it’s called in the receivers to secure what’s left before the vultures strip the carcass and fly away.

The impending court case mentioned in 4 seems unrelated to these developments. So let’s try to figure out what might be discussed in Manchester on Friday.

It seems to have started with a spat over accounts for Plas Glynllifon Ltd not being submitted to Companies House, with this raising the possibility of the company being struck off. Paul Williams insisted he was happy for the accounts to be submitted but said they were being held up by Myles Cunliffe.

As I remarked in Weep for Wales 15, what I found odd was that the accounts in question referred to a period before Cunliffe got involved with Plas Glynllifon, so why would he withhold those accounts? I feel there’s something we’re not being told.

The hearing on Friday has been instigated by Paul and Rowena Williams through their solicitors, Glaisyers of Manchester, who you may remember sent me a ‘Take down everything you’ve ever written (but don’t show this to anybody!)’ letter before Christmas. Here’s my response.

The allegation against Cunliffe is that he changed company documents without permission, and also that he closed Seiont Manor without authorisation.

I can’t comment on the documents charge, but surely, once Together Commercial Finance Ltd called in the receivers on December 17 the game was up? A company in receivership cannot carry on trading as if nothing has happened, not unless it’s agreed with the administrators/receivers, or unless the company is run by or the running is overseen by the administrators/receivers.

So I would ask why the Gruesome Twosome and Cunliffe and associates didn’t come clean before Christmas about receivership, because they must have known.

AND FINALLY . . . Someone interested in buying Plas Glynllifon Ltd before the Williams duo showed up was Gavin Woodhouse of Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd. You may recall that he planned to market the old pile as ‘Wynnborn’. The ‘negative reaction’ to that suggestion made him walk away.

But he didn’t walk far, for Woodhouse built up a portfolio of Welsh hotels, including Caer Rhun in the Conwy valley. But it all came crashing down last year when his business practices were exposed by the Guardian and ITV News. Even so, the ‘Welsh Government’ still offered Woodhouse a £500,000 grant for Caer Rhun.

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Now Caer Rhun has gone the way of all Welsh hotels that fall into the hands of con men and crooks from over the border and been closed by administrators. And yet, the £500,000 grant still appears in literature put out by the ‘Welsh Government’ and Visit Wales!

They must be so proud!

BRYN LLYS

Another gang of crooks from the mystic East (Yorkshire, to you) bought a traditional Welsh property known as Bryn Llys Bach, just outside Nebo, not far from Caernarfon. They then set about doing whatever they liked whether they had planning permission or not. (Usually not.) This went hand in hand with cutting down trees and hedgerows that didn’t belong to them and threatening to beat up neighbours who dared complain.

This behaviour went largely unchecked despite complaints to both Cyngor Gwynedd and North Wales Police. Yes, there was a police raid on the property in April 2018, but this was almost certainly carried out or instigated by an English force and connected with the arrest of John Joseph Duggan in Benllech in May of that year.

For Duggan is the father of Jonathan James Duggan, who lives at Bryn Llys with his wife and numerous progeny, plus other gang members. I suggest you catch up with recent developments by reading this posting.

Bryn Llys, then and now. Click to enlarge

In a nutshell, the old house was demolished, a new one built (without planning permission, of course), and this new monstrosity was advertised for sale at £850,000.

It was withdrawn from sale, perhaps because of legal proceedings promised by Cyngor Gwynedd. But now I hear that ‘Snowdon Summit View’ will be among properties auctioned on February 27 in Chester. (Where else?)

The price has reduced from £850,000 to £650,000.

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The worry is that even if the house sells the gang will still be left with some 20 acres of land nearby. Given how they operate, their contempt for neighbours and all authority, we can expect them to plough ahead with any insane plan they choose.

Given the kind of people we are dealing with, and their contempt for everyone around them, I would have thought that Cyngor Gwynedd could produce a good case for the compulsory purchase of those 20 acres.

LLANBEDR AIRFIELD

Llanbedr is a village lying between Barmouth and Harlech. I got to know it in the summer of ’73. I’d just finished at Coleg Harlech and decided to hang around for a bit longer, so I got a job in Llanbedr’s village pub, the Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria Inn, Llanbedr. Click to enlarge

The regular customers contained a good sprinkling of those working at RAE Llanbedr. These could be further divided into the locals and the ex-service types who had moved to Llanbedr on leaving the forces. As is usual in a colonial context, the locals generally did the unskilled and lower-paid jobs.

Even after leaving the area I managed to maintain some contact with Llanbedr, often by unlikely means. For example, I knew the guy employed to keep the airstrip free of other birds with his hawks.

More recently, the airfield has been used for testing drones and also by a flying school. Bigger plans were thwarted in 2018 when Llanbedr lost out to Sutherland in Scotland as the location for the UK’s main spaceport.

To ease the blow, the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd are pouring in millions of pounds to develop the airfield in some subsidiary role. And Llanbedr is now also part of the split-site Snowdonia Enterprise Zone.

Though the main beneficiary of all this would appear to be Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, which leases the site, or certainly the buildings. Snowdonia Aerospace is based in Dorset. There are some fascinating entries under the ‘People’ tab, where we find those who are or have been involved with this outfit.

Among them Putney Investments Ltd, with an address in Queensland, Australia.

Click to enlarge

‘Snowdonia’ Aerospace has received loans from both the ‘Welsh Government’ and the UK government, but both loans were in 2012, long before thoughts of a Welsh Cape Canaveral. So how do we account for this in 2012?

But then, last October, a new outfit appeared on the scene in the form of Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP. It too is based in Dorset, with the partners being Lee John Paul and Putney Investments Ltd. Fancy that!

Putney Investments obviously gets around. There were a number of companies in Australia using the name, then a dormant company in Hampshire, yet the address given for the latest incarnation is on the Isle of Man.

This begins to look rather fishy. Do those clowns down Corruption Bay know who they’re dealing with? Probably not, so why are they dealing with a Limited Liability Partnership, that most opaque and unaccountable of financial constructs?

Despite the favourable treatment, a source tells me things are not well at Llanbedr, corners are being cut, and copious amounts of bullshit are being spread to confuse politicians, funders, and others.

Here are a few of the things I’m being told:

  • Llanbedr airfield is an enterprise zone with no enterprise
  • Despite charging tenants Snowdonia Aerospace is very reluctant to pay its own water and electricity bills
  • The whole site is deteriorating and Snowdonia Aerospace is simply hanging on for a ‘big player’ to take the place off their hands
  • Safety is compromised in all manner of ways
  • Despite all the hype – and money – there are just two employees
  • Half the ‘enterprise zone’ runs on a generator, which rarely works. Result – many angry tenants
  • Contractors shipped in from outside of Wales have been allowed to sleep in the control tower! (Where they smoke Jamaican Woodbines.)
  • Buildings have been knocked down without consent

There seems little doubt that the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd have been bullied by the UK government and the military into coughing up large sums of our money for a project that is producing no benefits for Wales.

In fact, it’s difficult to see who, apart from the partners in Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, are benefiting. Unless of course it’s the partners in Snowdonia Aerospace Estates LLP, wherever they might be . . . Queensland, Hampshire or the Isle of Man.

I shall be making further enquiries about Llanbedr airfield, and will almost certainly return to this subject in the near future. If anyone reading this has more information, then please get in touch.

♦ end ♦

 

Wales, with us but strangers

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

Hello, boys and girls, it’s Uncle Jac here again, with another tale from colonial Wales; another story of how we Welsh are ripped off. It’s been happening for centuries; but nowadays everybody’s at it, while we have no one to defend us, and so many collaborators.

That’s a hint that there’ll be a bit of history thrown in. And some geography!

Incidentally, you may have heard that some naughty boys and girls have been calling Uncle Jac nasty names. Fortunately Uncle Jac only worries about the opinions of those he respects, and as time passes and people die, that illustrious band grows ever smaller.

This week’s tale takes us into the wild and beautiful country around Rhandirmwyn, north of Llanymddyfri, once the haunt of Twm Siôn Cati (1530 – 1607). In fact what is claimed to be Twm’s cave – where he hid from the Sheriff of Carmarthen’s men – is  nearby. So is Ystrad-ffin, once home to Thomas Rhys Williams, whose widow, Joan, Twm married.

Not only did Joan have the farm and the land around but she also had her own money, being the daughter of Sir John Price of Brecon, the son of Rhys ap Gwilym ap Llywelyn ap Rhys Llwyd ab Adam, descended from Dafydd Gam, who betrayed Glyndŵr and died on the English side at Agincourt.

In fact, Ystrad-ffin, or Ystradffin, is central to our story. So let’s crack on.

BANDIT COUNTRY

This tale came to me from a good source who had been walking in the area and saw things that caused him concern. After he had tipped me off I did some more digging and what I’ve uncovered is quite perplexing, even disturbing.

What my source saw was a Czech firm installing a hydro scheme for an English company on the Tywi, just downstream from the Llyn Brianne reservoir. The Tywi of course runs on to Carmarthen and the sea.

First, let’s get the lie of the land, courtesy of Google Earth.

Click to enlarge

We can see that the river runs down from the dam, skirts Rhuddallt, and it’s somewhere here that the hydro scheme is located, above the weir and the fish trap, north west of Ystradffin farm.

This story seems to start in August 2013, explained here by Natural Resources Wales. You’ll see that the original application was rejected. The project seems to have finally been given the all-clear in late June 2017.

The firm behind the project is H2O Power Towy (sic) Ltd, which until last November was known as Hydro Electric Development Ltd. This company is based in Hertfordshire. It’s directors are Ewan William Campbell-Lendrum, who sounds like a Highland laird, and a Czech citizen named Petr Noscak, which explains why the project is being built by a company from his homeland.

(Though does it make economic sense to bring workers and machinery half way across Europe?)

Given the name change, The Llyn Brianne contract might be the only one the company has. The latest accounts (or in this case, balance sheet), up to 31 December 2018, tell us that H2O Power Towy Ltd has a Capital and Reserves figure of -£106,258.

The latest statement of share capital, dated 20 May 2016, shows that there are two shareholders. Wendy Campbell-Lendrum owns 20 shares and the other 80 are held by Renfin Ltd, a company with an office in Prague.

THE RUSSIAN CONNECTION?

Renfin appears in the Offshore Leaks Database, after featuring in the famous Paradise Papers. Renfin is also quoted on the Bermuda stock exchange, from where I was able to access the 2017 Financial Statements (y/e 31 Dec 2017).

And who prepared this statement? Why, it was Ernst & Young LLC . . . of Moscow.

Click to enlarge

Renfin may be a Russian company, with a Czech window on the West, from where money is passed through various offshore banking locations, and from there on to ‘investments’ around the world. For if we look at page one of the E & W statement we see addresses in the British Virgin Islands, Caymans, Malta, Cyprus, Bermuda, and of course, Russia.

There is also a Renfin Hydro Ltd, formed last November, which provides another Czech link in the form of sole director, Jan Tosnar. Tosnar seems to have started a number of hydro companies last November. Remember, it was also last November that Hydro Electric Development Ltd morphed into H2O Power Towy Ltd. It’s reasonable to assume these events are connected.

The Czech mates (geddit?) team up in another company I unearthed, this one called Afon Las Hydro Ltd. This company began life at The Studio, Trevissome Park, Truro TR4 8UN, when it was called Mi-Grid Developments Ltd.

In February 2015 Mi-Grid moved to, c/o North Wales Hydro Power, Limited Rural Enterprise Centre, Stafford Drive, Battlefield Enterprise Park, Shrewsbury SY1 3FE. The name was changed in April. With the Shrewsbury address only used for a few months before Afon Las began using the H2O Power Towy address in Hertfordshire.

In the panel below, taken from the latest accounts, note the reference to Renfin, which may be a Russian company, which appears to have loaned money to Afon Las, or may be using Afon Las for some other purpose. Also note ‘Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd’!

For we now have Afon Las Hydro Ltd and Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd (formerly Renfin Ltd). And let’s not forget Renfin Hydro Ltd. With Jan Tosnar as director of all three. Rather confusing, isn’t it? Maybe that’s the whole point.

But where is Afon Las?

Well, there’s an Afon Las that runs into the Mawddach not far from Llanfachreth. But the hydro scheme there is the work of a local farming family, and there is no connection with Afon Las Hydro Ltd or Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd.

The Afon Las we need is near Llanberis. Where we find both Afon Las Hydro Ltd and Czech company Hydropol Project and Management. Hydropol is the company working at Ystradffin, and it has another Welsh project on Afon Claerwen, near Rhayader.

Enough. Afon Las was a bit of a digression, but still interesting. Now let’s head south, back to Twm Siôn Cati country.

FEEDING FRENZY

There are still other companies involved but it’s difficult to understand where they fit.

For example, in this report from the South Wales Guardian of August 2015 we read ” . . . the project has now been taken over by Hydro Electric Power Ltd(?) with support from Ellergreen Hydro Ltd”. So who are Ellergreen Hydro? And what ‘support’ were they giving?

Ellergreen Hydro is based in the English Lake District and seems to be part of a group of companies bearing the name. These are run – in various guises and through assorted holding companies – by the Cropper family, headed by Sir James Anthony Cropper.

Then there’s Environment Systems Ltd (ES), based in Aberystwyth, with a website in English and Spanish. ES seems to be a company of environmental consultants, though its website hasn’t been updated for a while with regard to the Tywi hydro project.

Image courtesy of Environment Systems Ltd.. Click to enlarge.

The directors of Environment Systems Ltd are Graeme Summers and Steven John Keyworth. As is the way in such matters, both are directors of other companies. In this case, the companies are: Everywhichway Ltd, Ecology Matters LtdEcology Matters (Wales) Ltd and, finally, Ursula Agriculture Ltd,

What I suggest we see here is ‘environmentalist consultants’ who’ve flooded in since it became clear that Wales was to be England’s greenwash colony, covered in subsidy-generating wheezes. We can expect a tsunami in future thanks to England’s management team in Corruption Bay setting out its priorities in the recent National Development Framework.

UPDATE: Having been contacted by Steven Keyworth of Environment Systems Ltd I feel confident in stating that he and his business partner, Graeme Summers, have not received loot from exotic locales. Their role was peripheral.

But now events up in rugged north Carmarthenshire take another twist.

THE BIG HOUSE?

I’ve mentioned Ystradffin, the substantial farmhouse and outbuildings close to the hydro scheme below Llyn Brianne, so naturally, I wanted to find out who owns the place.

According to the title documents lodged with the Land Registry, Ystradffin was bought in November 2016 by Edward Augustus Bishop, of Newbury, Berkshire, for £2,210,000 with a loan from Barclays Security Trustee Ltd. That’s a lot of moolah for poor land in a remote area. I assume there’s a considerable acreage involved, but I was unable to check because there was no plan available with the Land Registry.

UPDATE: Someone, perhaps the estate agents, decided to call the property ‘Towy Valley Farm’. More information, including a map is available here. This information makes it clear that the hydro project belongs to Ystradffin.

Yet it all seems kosher enough . . . except that Barclays Security Trustee Ltd, while apparently part of Barclays Bank, is a relatively new company, Incorporated with Companies House 19 June 2017. So how could could it have provided the money for the purchase of Ystradffin in 2016? Obviously the loan must have come after the purchase. Maybe buying the property from Bishop, or at least, reimbursing him.

For now it gets really interesting.

Go back to the title document and scroll down ’til you reach the panel shown below, on the last page.

Click to enlarge

First, you can see (9) that the property is now leased to The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Now this is an England-only department, for its role here is devolved to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

The next paragraph (10) is even more interesting. For now we read that the Beneficiaries of this lease agreement are the SoS just mentioned, plus the Ministry of Justice Estates Directorate. As the name suggests, the MoJ estate is made up of prisons and the like. (‘Zone 4A’ means zone A on the fourth floor of 102 Petty France.)

Prisons are of course not devolved.

So why the hell would the Ministry of Justice Estates Department have an interest in a Welsh farm way off the beaten track, miles from a main road? They surely can’t be thinking of putting a prison there; so is some other kind of institution planned. Maybe a gulag, for malcontents and dissidents!

If so, I demand a well-appointed, south-facing cell with WiFi, 72″ screen TV (subscriptions for all sports channels). And I don’t wish to be woken before 10:30. The coffee had better be good, and don’t skimp on the Malbec!

CONCLUSION

I can hardly believe what I’ve just written. But something strange is going on in Twm’s old stomping ground. First we have a hydro scheme being built by a Czech company that may be using Russian money; and then, not far away, we have the government department responsible for prisons taking an interest in a very remote farmhouse.

And how many companies need to be involved in small hydro schemes – is everybody entitled to a slice of Wales?

The truth is, boys and girls, that we Welsh own less of our land today than at any time in our history. We have less control over our lives than at any time in the past. All we have is a bunch of arseholes and their hangers-on down Corruption Bay putting a gloss on a colonial system.

(Did I say, ‘arseholes’. Where would I have picked up such a naughty word? I am sorry, boys and girls. Forget you heard it.)

While I’ve been writing this I’ve been wondering if the Ministry of Justice Estates Directorate had the courtesy to inform Comrade Drakeford and the bruvvers that they had taken an interest in a remote Welsh farm.

If they did, what was the response from the ‘Welsh Government’? And if they weren’t informed, do Drakeford and his gang have the balls to now ask what the fuck is going on at Ystradffin?

♦ end ♦

UPDATE: If we look again at the final paragraph of the Ystradffin title document, and the mention of The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, there, in brackets, we see, ‘ESMCP Programme Director’. So what is ESMCP?

The short answer is that it stands for Emergency Services Mobile Communication Programme, a new system being rolled out across the UK, for police and other emergency services to have faster and more secure communications. Ystradffin might seem an odd location for such an installation, but not if there is to be a prison or detention centre there.

Someone also sent me a link to planning consent granted in January last year for a two-storey, three-bed house for an agricultural worker at Ystradffin. The application apparently came from the owner, Mr Bishop, with the agent named as the legal firm Carter Jonas. The architects who drew up the plan are also based in Shropshire.

Thanks to the ‘Welsh Government’s decision to save the planet and encourage just about anything ‘Green’ envirospivs from all over Europe are flocking to Wales.

Yet there’s little benefit to Wales and the Welsh.

 

 

Wales, social dumping and much more besides

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

Maybe I should start by explaining what is meant by ‘social dumping’. The term links with ‘social cleansing’, used by the Guardian and other publications to explain the practice of taking certain ‘vulnerable’ groups out of major cities – and locating them somewhere else.

If social cleansing is the term used to describe the removal of these groups from one area, then it’s entirely reasonable to use the term social dumping to describe the other end of the process. Especially when the dumping is often done without the approval, or even the knowledge, of the new host community.

For ‘Harlow’, read Swansea, Penygraig, Blaenau Ffestiniog; and for ‘London’ read Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool. Click to enlarge.

This is what is happening in Wales. It’s happening in our cities and larger towns, it’s happening in run-down coastal resorts, it’s happening in small rural towns, and it’s happening in the communities of the former southern coalfield. That’s why it’s a national problem, and must be tackled on a national level.

There are a number of reasons why this is happening, and I’m going to explore some of them in this article. I shall also use specific, and recent, examples.

Let me apologise for this post being a long one; but as usual it’s broken down into discrete segments for you to consume at your leisure.

THE THIRD SECTOR AND THE LABOUR PARTY

I have written once or twice about the third sector, so regular readers will know of what I speak. For any newcomers, it’s that burgeoning sector of Welsh life that likes to present its component parts as charities, when they are in effect publicly-funded companies.

The third sector takes hundreds of millions of pounds from the Welsh public purse in order to care for those who are homeless, those with substance abuse issues, those released from prison, those with other needs (real or imagined), and of course there are organisations dedicated to combating all manner of alleged prejudices against women, the BME community, and assorted gender identifications.

It is a world with its own values and vocabulary, where duplication and competition are rife, and with most third sector businesses run by middle class Englishwomen with names like Harriet or Henrietta.

Did I mention competition? As this FoI response from the ‘Welsh Government’ told me, Wales has no fewer than 48 outfits ‘tackling homelessness’. Though seeing as the letter is dated December 2017 we can confidently predict that the number is now over 50. In fact, I shall soon introduce you to a new diner at the feast.

Click to enlarge

This situation has obtained for 20 years. The trickle of third sector grant-grabbers began almost once the devolution referendum result was announced in September 1997 and very quickly became a torrent. ‘But wait!’, you exclaim, ‘if we have so many well-funded organisations why is the problem getting worse? It must surely mean that thousands of Welsh are being made homeless every year’.

Er, no.

What we see at work here is human nature, and the realisation that if solving a problem puts you out of a job, well, you’ll make damn sure you don’t solve it. Which then links with the second part of your question, for Wales cannot provide enough homeless people to sustain this industry, so homeless people are imported into or attracted to Wales. In other words, the social dumping referred to in the title.

‘But why doesn’t the Welsh Government tell these people to stop wasting Welsh public funding by bringing in homeless people from outside of Wales?’ And drug addicts, and ex-cons, and victims of domestic abuse, and . . .

Because . . . it suits the ‘Welsh Labour Government’ to present a picture of poverty and deprivation in order to blame somebody else and keep mug punters voting for the party.

PODS AND PASTURES GREEN

You may have noticed a story that made the news last week about ‘pods’ for homeless people in Newport. Though it had the whiff of a rehash about it seeing as the story was also covered on 24 May, and before that 16 May, also in February, and before that October 2018 . . .

In fact, these pods seem to be something of a staple on the Argus.

The pods themselves are the work of Amazing Grace Spaces (AGS), an outfit that was launched as a charity 30 June 2017 by Caroline and Stuart Johnson. You’ll see on the website that, in addition to the emergency pods, AGS also converts shipping containers into low cost housing.

According to the website, these converted shipping containers are already in use with Wrexham Council and Merthyr Merthyr Valleys Homes.

Click to enlarge

Other trustees recruited by AGS include John Andrew Forward, who is also a trustee of Bedwas Pentecostal Church and Bethesda Pentecostal Church.

It would appear that those involved with Amazing Grace Spaces are of the happy-clappy persuasion, those given to ‘outreach’ work among the vulnerable in our midst. And, indeed beyond Wales.

Bethesda Pentecostal Church (Charity Number 1050629) seems to have been in business for a while, whereas the Bedwas establishment (1050629) has only just been registered with the Charity Commission. Which would suggest an expanding network.

Turning to Bethesda, we see that the lead there appears to be Rev. Stephen Davies, who is also a trustee of the Ebenezer Pentecostal Church in Fellowship with Assemblies of God (1050644), and Hills Community Church Aberbargoed (1050499). (Ebenezer is to be found in Rogerstone, Newport.)

There is very little money involved with these churches, and I’m sure that they do a lot of good work, but I mention them because they clearly form a network, and others in this network cause me concern.

This tweet by Amazing Grace Spaces mentions my worry – Green Pastures.

Click to enlarge

Those with good memories will recall that I wrote about Green Pastures back in July 2013 with, YMCA ‘Wales’, Another Trojan Horse At The Trough and YMCA ‘Wales’ And The Green, Green Pastures. It’s an English outfit, also of a religious bent, that ‘reaches out’ to the homeless, substance abusers and those recently released from prison.

Green Pastures (GP) operates with or through ‘partners’, and the business model is explained in this panel from the Green Pastures website. In essence, if you fancy going into the hostel business then you find a property that GP will buy and then you lease it from GP using your tenants’ housing benefit to pay the lease.

Scrolling down to the ‘Partners’ map, we see five locations in Wales. Two are in the north, on Deeside and in Colwyn Bay, to serve north west England and those who have been dumped in Wales from that region.

Predictably, Amazing Grace Spaces of Newport is also there, but what of the other two locations?

The first is in Llanfyllin, a nice little town in the gentle hills of Montgomeryshire, where we find a ‘community hub’. So there’s nothing to detain us here.

Of more interest is the final Green Pastures ‘partner’, Blaenycwm Chapel in Treorci. Where “Ralph Upton is the minister, 22 years experience in full time ministry a lot of this among the homeless, those affected by the criminal justice system and substance misusers.” When he’s not in the Rhondda, “Ralph also ministers in Ethiopia.”

Ralph Upton is also connected with Valleys of Hope (which unfortunately couldn’t find a Welsh flag). Under the ‘About us‘ tab you will read that Ralph was a prison chaplain.

Click to enlarge

Which makes sense when we turn to the Valleys of Hope ‘Wales’ tab, where we read, “With the opening of H.M.P. Berwyn helping the churches to get ready to welcome ex offenders in North Wales has become very important”.

The back-story: A massive prison was forced on north Wales, far bigger than needed, in which most of the inmates are from England. One fear always was that once released, these English prisoners would becomes Wales’ responsibility. Here it is spelled out. We must “get ready to welcome ex offenders in North Wales”. 

I think it’s the use of the word ‘welcome’ that really pisses me off.

Locking up your criminals in a neighbouring country and then expecting that country to look after them when they’re released strikes me as a very good example of social dumping.

From Western Mail 10.07.2019

UPDATE 10.07.2019: A prison inspector’s report just released tells us that, in March this year, 75% of the prisoners at HMP Berwyn were from England. In a Radio Cymru programme this morning it was also said that of these English prisoners 50% stay in Wales after they are released.

That means that hundreds of English criminals are endangering Welsh people and Welsh communities – and we are paying for it.

BLAENAU FFESTINIOG

Last week Gwynedd’s Planning Committee discussed an application to convert the old Market Hall in Blaenau Ffestiniog into 14 flats. No decision was taken but the planning officers recommended approval, and now objectors have three weeks to put together their case.

The application was submitted by Paul McCready of Mossley Hill Investments Gwynedd Ltd of Cheltenham, and the agent was Evolve Designs (NW) Ltd of Merseyside.

Evolve Designs is a company formed as recently as April 2017 with the only accounts so far filed showing total net assets (liabilities) of (£1,991). A one-man band with the solo instrumentalist being a James Robert O’Rourke.

Though as the Land Registry title document tells us, the owner of the Blaenau building is Microface Ltd of Wigan. Who bought the property in 2010 for £82,500. It was put up for auction in February 2018 with an asking price of £150,000, but obviously failed to sell. (Or if it did sell, then the Land Registry has not been informed.)

Market Hall, Blaenau Ffestiniog. Image courtesy of Pugh Auctions. Click to enlarge.

The applicant for planning permission, Mossley Hill Investments Gwynedd Ltd, belongs to a veritable stable of companies . . . none of them thoroughbreds. In fact, some of them, just yearlings, are already on their way to the knacker’s yard.

Here’s a list I’ve drawn up of all the Mossley Hill companies I can find (there may be others!). And here it is in pdf format, where you can click on the company name to be taken to the Companies House entry for that company.

Click to enlarge

You’ll see that the original company was formed in December 2016, with Gavin Davis Barry and his missus as directors. Then there was rush of new companies in April and May last year with Barry joined by Paul McCready and Shaun Mills as directors. With two more companies formed in May and June this year with just Barry as director.

There are documents filed for the original Mossley company, Mossley Hill Investments Ltd, and these show net assets of -£53,965. (Yes, that is a minus sign.) Equally worrying is that the directors want to strike off four of the companies formed only just over a year ago!

In addition, Barry has another string of companies going under the ‘Prosperity’ handle, listed here. The nags in this stable seem to be a year or two older than those in the Mossley Hill stable with none destined for dog food. The other directors, too, are different.

What are we to make of it all?

Gavin Davis Barry specialises in cheap property. A racket comparable, perhaps, with the Green Pastures ‘partnership’ model, except that GP own the building whereas Barry may sell it on.

What could have happened with the old Market Hall in Blaenau was that, after it failed to sell at auction, the owners were approached with a deal. Barry will apply for planning permission and then, if it’s granted, either he will buy the building off Microface, or else supply tenants, an arrangement from which he’ll get a good cut.

The fact that the auction was in February 2018 and Mossley Hill Gwynedd Ltd was formed in April lends credence to this theory. For there are business people – many of whom you’ve met on this blog – who trawl property auction websites.

The outfit supplying the tenants for the flats at the Market Hall will be My Space Housing Solutions, based in Bolton and operating in northern England. The clip below and the page it’s taken from explain that My Space is in the business of ‘supported housing’.

Click to enlarge

We read that My Space “source properties based on need” and that these properties are “in the best possible community settings for each resident”.

Which rather blows this planning application out of the water, because I doubt if there is a local need for such a facility in Blaenau Ffestiniog, which means that the clients will be brought in from northern England; and will therefore be a long way from “the best possible community setting”.

Let’s be brutally frank; the only reason this application is being submitted is because a large building became available very cheaply in a run-down town where the applicant thought that lies about local benefits might get them planning permission.

Thanks to twenty years of devolution under ‘Welsh’ Labour, Wales has an abundance of cheap buildings, and countless run-down towns.

What’s the bottom line here? Well, if you were to ask me: ‘Jac would you do business with any of the companies you’ve mentioned here?’ I’d look you in the eye and answer: ‘I would indeed – immediately after joining the Soul Crew’.

If allowed, Blaenau Market Hall will be yet another example of social dumping.

To conclude this section, it’s worth pointing out how much money there is to be made from the ‘vulnerable adults’ business, by looking at the phenomenal growth of My Space Housing Solutions Ltd.

My Space was Incorporated as a company 17 October 2012 and registered as a charity 28 November 2012.

The phenomenal growth of the My Space ‘vulnerable adults’ relocation company. It now wants 14 flats in the old Market Hall, Blaenau Ffestiniog. Gwynedd planners support the application!

In the first accounts, for year ending 31 October 2013 the turnover was £91,117 with an operating deficit of (£29,138). The most recent available accounts, for year ending 31 October 2018, show a turnover of £11,647,551 and an operating surplus of £2,874,161.

That’s ‘Care in the community’ for you . . . preferably somebody else’s community.

PLANNERS

As I mentioned in the previous section, Gwynedd’s planning officers have recommended approval of the social dumping in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The latest in a string of cases where planning officers have made ‘strange’ decisions.

Let’s start by reminding ourselves of events at Plas Pistyll, and the neighbouring Pistyll farm, on Llŷn. I wrote about this case in Wilmslow-sur-Mer back in September 2018.

To cut a long story short, there were a number of changes to the original planning application of 2007, to the point where what was eventually arrived at in 2018 bore little or no relation to the project that had received the original planning approval.

I even drew up a list of the various changes.

As with Blaenau, there was a plethora of companies under the same ‘umbrella’, this one called Natural Retreats. Towards the end we even saw US intervention in the form of a new company using the name of another company in the group that had earlier demised.

And if that wasn’t reason enough to be concerned, the England-based principals were also busy in the Highlands and cocking up the Cairn Gorm funicular railway.

But according to Gwynedd’s planners there was nothing to worry about. Natural Retreats (or whatever it’s called) is run by splendid, trustworthy chaps (whoever they are) that can be relied upon to play by the rules.

Click to enlarge

The fact that the seasonal-only (caravan replacement) chalets for which they gave planning permission have miraculously transmogrified into luxury, year-round dwellings is by the bye.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that those involved at Pistyll are crooks, they’re just unscrupulous businessmen who think rules are for other people. (And Gwynedd planners obviously agree.) But this next lot we’re going to look at are most definitely crooks.

For we move on now to Bryn Llys, at Nebo, just off the A487, and not far from Llanllyfni. I wrote about it in a compendium offering in January, one that included Gavin Lee Woodhouse (on whom the sky has recently fallen), Jimbo Lynch in Aberteifi (still thriving, for now), and the Bryn Llys crew.

I suggest you catch up by reading ‘Friends old & new: Gavin ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse; James ‘Fforest’ Lynch; Shane Baker, ‘the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo’ and Jonathan Duggan’.

Bryn Llys was a traditional Welsh dwelling. Then it was acquired by the crook Jonathan James Duggan (aka Ripley), the son of John/Jonathan Joseph Duggan. Duggan père was sent down in 2005 for six years, and described in this report as a “professional fraudster”.

Duggan’s father made the news again last year when he was arrested in Benllech, taken back to Yorkshire and banged up again.

Shane Baker, the rocking English supremacist, seems to act as Duggan’s dogsbody.

Anyway, Duggan applied to Cyngor Gwynedd for permission to build an extension to Bryn Llys. This was granted . . . but what was built was much bigger than planning permission allowed, so retrospective planning approval was applied for, and granted – for an extension that now dwarfed the original structure.

Click to enlarge

Though what was actually built exceeded even the retrospective planning approval. Made clear in the picture on the right, above.

And if you think that’s bad enough, well it gets worse, for below you can see what’s up for sale now with Rightmove. The original Bryn Llys is gone completely.

This of course has not happened overnight, it’s taken years. And throughout this period neighbours demanded enforcement action from the council, but nothing was done. Protection was also sought from North Wales Police against the intimidation locals experience from the criminal gang centred on Bryn Llys, but no protection was offered.

On the left, Bryn Llys, as it was just a few years ago. On the right is what began life as an extension. The original structure – which would have been to the rear of what we see – has been demolished entirely. Click to enlarge.

Bryn Llys is the most incredible planning issue that anyone has ever brought to my attention. The more I think about it, the more difficult it is to believe. But it happened. It happened in Wales. And these bastards have got away with it. Which will only encourage them and others do something similar.

The word is obviously out – ‘Come to Wales, you can get away with anything’.

And yet, it’s not too late. Cyngor Gwynedd could still send out a message that would be heard loud and clear by insisting on the demolition of ‘Bryn Llys’. But they will never do that.

And then, while they bend over backwards to accommodate all manner of people we shouldn’t have to put up with in our country, they dream up idiotic objections to stop locals building houses in Abersoch!

Are Gwynedd’s planners afraid that Welsh people living in Abersoch might lower property values on the Cheshire Riviera?

I’m not saying that brown envelopes are involved, but if they’re not, then Gwynedd’s planners must be among the most incompetent public officials imaginable.

CONCLUSION

Wales suffers social dumping for reasons that can be summarised thus: A colonial relationship with England is encouraged by a bloated third sector and further facilitated by an abundance of suitable properties in deprived and declining communities. For reasons that perhaps only they can explain, social dumping is welcomed by too many politicians on the left who think that allowing Wales to be exploited in this manner is somehow virtuous.

Another worry, especially in rural areas, is the number of crooks involved in asset stripping, mortgage fraud, money laundering and other activities. Though maybe the bigger concern is that not only are these criminals able to get what they want from our local authorities, but they even receive grants from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, and they seem to be above the law.

Click to enlarge

Just a couple of weeks ago ITV News and the Guardian revealed what a crook Gavin ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse is – but he’s been operating with impunity in Wales for years! In fact, the ‘Welsh Government’ has been falling over itself to help him with his ultimate con – the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

And let’s not forget the £500,000 grant for Woodhouse’s Caer Rhun in the Conwy valley.

There’s no doubt about it; if you’re in the social cleansing business, or mortgage fraud, asset stripping, money laundering, then Wales is the place to come.

The cops don’t seem to be to interested, you can run rings round or walk all over council officials, there’s no media worth speaking of to expose you, and the ‘Welsh Government’ will even fund you! What’s not to like!

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 9

It’s been a while since I wrote the previous instalment in this saga, August 6th to be precise, and even though I have no earth-shattering revelations for you, it’s clear that we are moving towards a conclusion.

But for newcomers – or even even regulars who may have forgotten how we got to where we are – here are links to the previous instalments: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8.

In addition to this latest post being an update on the saga, I shall also use it to give some thought to what this incredible story tells us about the state of modern Wales. Basically, how the hell did Paul and Rowena Williams and their associates get away with so much for so long?

Because irrespective of what now happens to those you’ve been reading about over the past few months there are others who have questions to answer, and I might as well do the asking, because nobody else will.

WHY DID THEY GET A FREE RIDE?

The Daily Post‘s involvement in this saga is quite extraordinary in its willingness to publish any old nonsense. I have drawn up a list of the DP’s articles on Plas Glynllifon and the other Gwynedd properties since Paul and Rowena Williams first became involved.

Starting with this article on 10 June 2016 telling us that the mystery owner of Plas Glynllifon – speaking through property company Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) – said that the renovation would take three years, and would cost an estimated £5m.

The next article was just a few days later on 14 June 2016, and this time we were told that the old pile was to be transformed into a luxury hotel and spa with the project managed by LSH.

Just a day later, 15 June 2016, there was another report, but it was little different to the one the previous day.

The new year brought this piece on 22 February 2017 in which the Daily Post was graciously granted access, to be told by Rowena Williams, “We hope that the project will hold dear to the Prince of Wales, who enjoyed his investiture ball here and also takes a very keen interest in our heritage and historic properties such as Glynllifon. We hope that he will be an asset to the project.”

We were not informed if Carlo had been asked to cough up a few quid towards the “£5.5 to £6.5” needed for the restoration. Maybe it wasn’t needed, for a finance package had been agreed with “Together in Manchester”. And Team Williams was also “in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support”.

click to enlarge

On 23 May 2017 we learnt that the owners of Plas Glynllifon had enlisted the help of Lord Newborough (whose family pile Plas Glynllifon had once been), and also helping Paul Williams were “Bangor University, the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates (at Bangor Uni), Gwynedd Archives, and other bodies”. The more the merrier!

On 28 May 2017 the Daily Post invited us to take a look inside Plas Glynllifon. The accompanying film has Rowena Williams telling us that ” . . . outside, in the exterior, we’ve got lots of, um, plans going ahead with, um, with flower and fauna . . . “, to a backdrop of nineteenth century kitsch meets suburban Wolverhampton.

There was now a gap until 26 November 2017, and an article headlined, Take a look at stunning £16m transformation of historic mansion into five star hotel”, which was a bit naughty, because Paul and Rowena Williams have not spent anything approaching £16m at Glynllifon. There was no explanation for how the cost of renovating Plas Glynllifon had increased from £5.5m-£6.5m in May to £16m in November. Brexit, I suppose.

There was yet another video, this one without the Gruesome Twosome but with weird musical accompaniment. Then there were photos, of, er, scaffolding; while inside the building, we saw a bath, an organ, statues and a four-poster bed. This article, like previous ones, drew a number of positive comments, including one from ‘MarkoMarko’, who I suspect may not be local, and may even have been an employee of the Williams gang.

click to enlarge

The final plug report of the year was on 4 December 2017. Now the focus switched to the Seiont Manor Hotel , lined up for a £5m expansion. This would involve, ” . . . extending the restaurant with the provision of a new lake view terrace, expansion of the existing leisure facilities to improve the changing and spa facilities and add treatment rooms, a purpose built lake side function suite with bedrooms above and luxury lodges in the grounds”.

The first article in the new year appeared on 7 February 2018 and the focus switched again, this time to a snowy Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, which we were told Paul and Rowena Williams were buying. The obligatory video introduced ageing juvenile lead Rikki Reynolds, general manager of the Seiont Manor Hotel.

This new project included, “a 100 bedroom hotel with a pool, spa, restaurants and bars”. There was to be a seafood restaurant, and holiday cottages, with the Daily Post adding, “They (Paul and Rowena Williams) said the residential parts of the project will help with funding for other parts of this 240 job scheme and the ongoing restoration at Glynllifon and expansion of Seiont Manor in Llanrug, which they also own.”

Two hundred and forty jobs! This is bullshit piled so high that it must have blocked out the sun. But by this stage if Paul Williams had said he was Jesus Christ come to give us all another chance the Daily Post would have reported it without question . . . and of course with a video.

Just three days later, on 10 February 2018, the Daily Post returned to Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, for which, we were told, “project proposals have come and gone”; but things were to be different this time with Paul and Rowena Williams and the boy wonder. Maybe, but the video was the same one we’d seen three days earlier. We also heard of a new player in “Developer Plas Glynllifon Group”, of which no one has seen hide nor hair since.

On 27 April 2018 a fire was reported at Plas Tŷ Coch. ‘Disgraceful’ behaviour according to Paul Williams (a man who knows a thing or two about disgraceful behaviour). The Daily Post took the opportunity to remind us that Plas Tŷ Coch would be restored (sic) into luxury period apartments with low density housing in the grounds of the mansion and the restoration of walled and formal gardens.

I’m losing track now of how many apartments, houses, lodges, are involved with the Williams’ properties. Add them to the hotels, restaurants, pools, spas, bars and God knows what else and it’s getting bloody crowded!

Did it never occur to anyone that this bloke might be a sinister kind of Walter Mitty?

On to 11 May 2018 when we were told that Paul and Rowena Williams intended to part-fund their ambitions in the north through the sale of those properties they owned in Powys and over the border. This was the £10m ‘sale’ to convicted fraudster Keith Partridge, which was about as convincing as a ‘Welsh Labour’ Party manifesto.

The cost of renovating Plas Glynllifon was now £20m, up from £5.5m to £6.5m a year earlier. Inflation on this scale is no problem if you’re fluent in bollocks, pluck figures out of thin air, and are trying to wangle grants . . .

We only had to wait one day, to 12 May 2018, for the next intriguing episode headed, “Take a look inside stunning Plas Glynllifon as restoration continues”. And we were treated to yet another video and more photos of scaffolding and further examples of Victorian interiors at their worst.

Giving us an effect that is quite overwrought and claustrophobic. I can only assume that this bedroom would be the Edgar Allan Poe Suite. Who’s that in the mirror!

Courtesy of Daily Post, click to enlarge (if you dare!)

The Daily Post went for its hat-trick with three consecutive days’ coverage on 13 May 2018, with the emphasis now shifting to the parkland and pleasure gardens around Plas Glynllifon. For the headline told us “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”.

If this carried on it was only a matter of time before Paul Williams approached Cyngor Gwynedd with an offer they couldn’t refuse to buy the whole bloody county.

The long-awaited news of open days at Plas Glynllifon was brought to us on 6 June 2018. There was yet another video, this one confirming that a number of deliveries had been received from the local garden centre, with photos of the happy couple, scaffolding, and the Edgar Allan Poe Suite.

Weep for Wales appeared 8 June 2018.

The cobwebs were blown away when, on 9 June 2018, we were back to the bracing air of Plas Brereton on the Menai Strait, and among fresh proposals for the site was a fishing village! So if we add that to the apartments, houses, lodges and hotels, how much accommodation does that give us? How much extra accommodation does the Caernarfon area need?

We made another slight detour on 16 June 2018 as Paul Williams’ house-trained “expert in land and heritage conservation”, dragged up specially from Cornwall, tut-tutted about the state of Parc Glynllifon and suggested that it was in such a mess it should be handed over to Paul Williams at a knock-down price.

Of the accompanying photos two were of scaffolding. (They can grow on you!)

Weep for Wales 2 appeared 19 June 2018.

Weep for Wales 3 appeared 29 June 2018.

Weep for Wales 4 appeared 3 July 2018.

Weep for Wales 5 appeared 8 July 2018.

Maybe my blog was being read at the Daily Post, for the uncritical plugs stopped and the first cloud appeared in the Williams firmament with the report of 11 July 2018 headlined, “Welsh Government considering whether grant funding to mansion developers can be recouped after hotels close”, a reference to the closure of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel In Presteigne and the Knighton Hotel in the town of that name.

For all I know there might have been other articles that I’ve missed, but the 18 I’ve listed here tell an alarming tale of a gang of shysters given free access to an important source of local news. For they were allowed to say anything they wanted with nary an awkward question, let alone any journalistic digging to find out who they really were.

And it wasn’t just the Daily Post that was guilty of unquestioning plugs. There was Business News Wales on 8 March 2017. BBC Wales 27 June 2018. The Caterer 29 June 2018. The Daily Mail 1 July 2018, etc., etc.

But as the local ‘paper the Daily Post is more guilty than others of not doing its homework on these crooks. Indeed, the other news outlets may have been attracted to Glynllifon by the endless plugs they saw in the Daily Post. Seeing as they got it so wrong with Paul and Rowena Williams we have to ask if the Daily Post will identify the next shysters arriving on its patch, or will it be more free and uncritical publicity.

Because I can predict with certainty that the easy ride Paul and Rowena Williams received from the local media, the council and others, will encourage other crooks to chance their arm in Gwynedd.

Of course, I tried to post comments to the endless ‘Aren’t they wonderful!’ stories about Paul and Rowena Williams; trying to warn people, but I’m blocked from the Daily Post and WalesOnline websites.

The question for newspapers and other media outlets before repeating press releases, or running encomiums, must always be – ‘What do we really know about these people?’ And if the answer is ‘Nothing’, or ‘Very little’, then start digging!

THE FAT LADY IS WAITING IN THE WINGS

In the previous episode I told you that Leisure & Development Ltd was in the hands of receivers and the establishments involved locked, with CCTV installed. Since then I’ve heard that Paul Williams was still getting access to some of the buildings, for example, to the Knighton Hotel, either from the flat or ground floor showroom he still owns.

The latest information I have says that an offer has been made for the Radnorshire Arms by some local nobs who hope to start refurbishment work early next year. There is also interest in the Knighton Hotel and the properties in England and Cornwall, all of which might be offered for sale very soon.

In Gwynedd, things are also moving to a conclusion. For example, in the extracts you’ve just read from the Daily Post you’ll see that Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch crop up quite regularly, with ludicrous plans for fishing villages and God knows what else – but Paul and Rowena Williams never owned these properties!

They seem to have put down a deposit but never got around to paying off the balance. The deadline to complete the sale passed on Tuesday 18 September, and so, on the reasonable assumption that the balance was not paid, Paul and Rowena Williams are now left with Plas Glynllifon and the Seiont Manor Hotel, the latter run for them by drug-dependent Rikki Reynolds.

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The Daily Post couldn’t forget old habits and tried to put a positive spin on the story, as if the deal would be finalised . . . as if non-completion was a mere oversight . . . nothing to do with the money having dried up . . . the other properties being in the hands of liquidators . . . everything falling apart . . .

STOP PRESS: But, finally, on Wednesday 19 September the Daily Post was forced to submit to reality and admit that the deal had fallen through.

I now visualise Paul Williams holed up in Plas Glynllifon, something like Jean Gabin in Le Jour se Lève, chain-smoking Gauloises and ready to shoot it out with the flics receivers. (God! I must lay off the Malbec!)

click to enlarge

But enough of 1930s French movies and the Daily Post, what about other individuals and agencies we’ve encountered in this saga, how do their roles stand up to scrutiny?

UPDATE 21.09.2018: Today the Daily Post reported that Dyfed Powys Police had met with Powys County Council trading standards officers last week to discuss the now closed Powys hotels owned by Paul and Rowena Williams.

Paul Williams was quoted as saying, “We are unaware of any meeting allegedly held between the local authority and the police in Powys. However, we are pleased to hear that they are looking into matters as this will without doubt vindicate Rowena and I.”

The Daily Post‘s reporting was again abysmal. Just two days ago, Owen Hughes, the DP’s Business Correspondent – who has written all the puffs for Paul and Rowena Williams – told us that the deal to buy Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch had fallen through, but today he wants us to believe that they’ve “agreed the purchase” of these properties.

Can’t he remember what he’s written . . . or did somebody else write it?

Not only that, but he sticks to the Williams story about these Powys properties having been sold to convicted fraudster Keith Partridge, when everyone else knows this was just a ploy allowing them to slip away and lay the blame on somebody else.

UPDATE 22.09.2018: Daily Post reports statement from Paul Williams.

SUPPORTING CAST

Plas Glynllifon is a Grade 1 listed building. The Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne and the Knighton Hotel are both Grade II listed buildings. (Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch are also listed.) Which means that they come under the watchful eye of Cadw, or English Heritage (West) as it is more honestly known.

Cadw/EH(W) awards grants to those owning listed properties, and so, given Paul and Rowena Williams’ talent for sniffing out easy money, it would be reasonable to assume that they applied to Cadw/EH(W) for funding. And this is what I’m told happened. I’m further told that grant funding was given.

More specifically, large amounts were given to the Powys properties, enough for Williams to claim that grants had paid for the Knighton Hotel. While in Gwynedd, it’s reported that there was a dispute between Paul and Rowena Williams and Cadw/EH(W) over a grant given to Plas Glynllifon which appeared to have been diverted to the Seiont Manor Hotel.

In the hope of getting the facts I submitted a FoI request to Cadw/EH(W), but if the reply I received is to be believed then the Williams gang haven’t received a penny. Read it for yourself.

Which means that either my informants are mistaken, or else – and I hate to even consider this possibility! – Cadw/EH(W) is telling old Jac porkies!

With Paul and Rowena Williams’ empire now reduced to Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor it’s worth asking what roles have been played by the local council and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai which runs the adjoining Glynllifon Agricultural College.

Cyngor Gwynedd has remained tight-lipped, saying only that Plas Glynllifon is privately owned and has nothing to do with the council. Which I suppose is fair enough up to a point, but the council must have concerns when such a prominent local building is constantly changing hands between dreamers and crooks.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai has said even less, which for me is more worrying, Because if we go back to 13 May the Daily Post was headlining a story “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”. And the report went on, ” . . . discussions are underway with Gwynedd council and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai over taking control of parts of the vast estate grounds surrounding the mansion”.

Courtesy of Daily Post, click to enlarge

So how far did these talks progress? Were they concluded with an agreement to hand over land to Paul and Rowena Williams? In light of recent developments, how difficult would it be for Cyngor Gwynedd and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai to issue a statement assuring us that no deal was done? I suggest they owe it to us.

A name that has cropped up throughout this case is that of property company Lambert Smith Hampton, and in particular Dudley James Cross, who often seemed to act as a personal advisor to Paul and Rowena Williams, or perhaps even a partner, for at one time he was a director of Leisure & Development Ltd, the company that was ‘sold’ on 1 February to Keith Partridge, but then went tits up.

click to large

You’ll notice that on his Linkedin profile Cross is Regional Head of LSH based in Northampton, but when he was director of Leisure & Development Ltd he was apparently resident in Wales, with his address given as Plas Glynllifon.

So what sort of a company is Lambert Smith Hampton that it gets involved with crooks like Williams and Partridge? Where is Cross now? Is his role in all this being investigated?

A LAND READY FOR THE TAKING

The deeper I dig and the more I learn about how modern Wales is run the more I realise how easy it is for crooks like Paul Williams to come waltzing in demanding this that and t’other. And demand that we pay for it!

Just recently I wrote about the new village of very expensive properties being built not far from Plas Glynllifon, apparently with the blessing and full co-operation of Cyngor Gwynedd.

Just a few miles away, at Nebo, a gang set up in a farm, and a benefit claimant threw up a seven-bedroom mansion! The police eventually raided the place. I understand this is another case from which Gwynedd’s planning department does not emerge with any credit.

All this is happening in Gwynedd, which many outside the area think of as some impregnable fortress of Welshness. The truth is its walls have been breached, and from the inside.

And yet, perversely, when I see how easy it is for people who are obviously greedy and corrupt, but none too bright, to get away with all this, then in a curious way it gives me hope.

For I see that the political machinery is old and broken, with few taking any interest in its running; the social structures that once seemed so permanent are in a state of flux; people are discontented and looking for something new; while the traditional media is discredited and dying before our eyes.

We are at a stage in the history of Wales where enough determined people, with the right message, can generate enough enthusiasm and public support to direct the political and social agenda.

Carpe Diem!

♦ end ♦

 

Wilmslow-sur-Mer

INTRODUCTION

I remember, back in the 1960s, when I was a wild young thing, visiting Owain Williams (of Tryweryn fame) on his farm, Gwynus, and then heading down for a drink at the local hostelry, the Plas Pistyll Hotel. I remember it well because ‘G–‘ and I picked up a couple of girls from Birmingham and took them up the mountain to enjoy the view. (Who says we don’t welcome tourists?)

Ah! happy days.

Plas Pistyll, click to enlarge

The old pile, with its uninterrupted views of the sea, fell on hard times and was eventually abandoned to the elements. But even if it was no longer viable as a hotel, the location alone dictated that somebody would some day come along with a plan for the site.

And so it was. . . .

THE PLANNING APPLICATIONS

Let me start by explaining that I have drawn together all the planning references I can find relating to both Plas Pistyll and neighbouring Pistyll farm and caravan site, I’ve done this because as early as 2008 they had become one and the same project.

Here’s the link to the pdf version. Click on the planning reference number in the left-hand column to be taken to the Gwynedd planning site.

Below you’ll see a montage created for Natural Retreats by the Ark Company Landscape Architects of Middlesex, and although things have moved on the image gives the layout of the site.

click to enlarge

The obvious place to start is with the three earliest applications, which tell us that both the farm and the Plas are owned by Sustainable Leisure, a company I couldn’t find on the Companies House website.

Even so, I know that the properties were owned by a Bill Gleave of Greater Manchester. I know because by August 2009 he had hit the rocks owing local businesses money. You’ll note that in the Daily Post report I’ve just linked to the Pistyll site is called ‘Nature’s Point’ (A name I’m sure I recall from the Mabinogion.)

This catastrophe was confirmed when the Bolton News reported that Gleave company BGH had gone tits up, with Sustainable Leisure following.

It all went quiet for almost three years until, in August 2011, there was an application from new player Natural Retreats to demolish Plas Pistyll and replace it with 20 self-catering holiday units. These to be complemented with “16 self catering holiday units in lieu of the existing static caravan site” at the farm.

Plas Pistyll had been bought in April 2010 for £85,000 by Natural Land 3 Ltd, though a loan was taken out towards the end of 2014 with HSBC. (There will be more on the array of linked companies later.)

To begin with, I had the same problem with Natural Retreats as I had with Sustainable Leisure – I couldn’t find it on the Companies House website. But I found a Natural Retreats website and eventually unearthed Natural Retreats UK Ltd, which changed its name to The UK Great Travel Company Ltd on 25 October 2017.

Permission was given in August 2012 to demolish Plas Pistyll with the condition that the same individual or family could not live in the new holiday units for more than three months in a year. Natural Retreats appealed against this decision and the appeal was allowed permitting unrestricted holiday use for the whole site.

I understand that the last time the planning committee met was to discuss C11/0661/43/LL, thereafter everything was delegated to planning officers. Some very important decisions were made that many feel should have been referred back to the committee, not least the decision to allow unrestricted holiday use.

click to enlarge

Having got the big prize Natural Retreats – usually operating now as Natural Land & Sea – chipped away over the next few years at more of the planning conditions imposed by Gwynedd’s planning committee, to the point where few remained.

For Gwynedd’s planning department seemed to bend over backwards to oblige: “. . . deletion of Conditions 8, 9, 10 (Code for Sustainable Homes) . . . vary the materials proposed for the external wall of the units on the farm site . . . Discharge conditions 20 (slate), 22 (stone) and 24 (external finishes) . . .  Discharge condition 2 (agree stone) on planning permission . . . “

Instead of stone and slate cottages in keeping with vernacular styles (including Pistyll farm), using local materials and labour, what are being thrown up now on the Plas Pistyll site are prefabricated units brought in from God knows where – Estonia being one suggestion – with no local benefits whatsoever.

And again, predictably, searching the Companies House website turned up nothing for Natural Land & Sea. Either there is no such company, or it’s registered outside the UK, or it’s the trading name of another entity (in which case we should know the name of that entity). But Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners don’t seem to know or care who they’re dealing with.

It should be standard practice for any elected or public body dealing with a commercial entity to insist on that entity identifying itself with a Companies House, Charity Commission, FSA, etc number or some other form of identification, or else explain why it cannot meet this requirement.

Relevant digression: I’ve been helping a neighbour who’s lived in the village all his life renew his blue parking badge, but he still had to provide his birth certificate and other proof of identity. If he’d rocked up claiming to represent Intergalactic Con Men Inc, and wanting to build 5,000 holiday apartments in tower blocks around Llyn Tegid I suppose Cyngor Gwynedd would have rolled out the red carpet, like they’ve done for Paul Williams, Natural Retreats, and God knows how many others.

I’ve told you that Natural Retreats UK Ltd renamed itself The UK Great Travel Company Ltd on 25 October 2017. On that very same day a company was born named NRML Technology Ltd. The sole director was soon joined by another gentleman from Bobby Lee’s home state of Virginia and in June the company name was changed to Natural Retreats UK Ltd.

Why would Natural Retreats UK Ltd be resurrected under American ownership? We shall consider this in just a minute.

THE APPLICANT

Before that, let’s take a closer look at who’s behind this disaster at Pistyll, on the very site where a young Jac downed pints and chatted up young ladies. (Though I use the most generous application of that epithet.) As we’ve seen, there can easily be confusion about the name of the company involved. Hardly surprising when you read on.

For at the same address in Wilmslow, in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle, where footballers, soap stars and successful criminals from Manchester and Merseyside choose to live, we also find: NR Partners No. 2 Limited Partnership (Natural Retreats Limited Partnership until 20 June), NR Investors LPNatural Retreats Pension LLP, Project Natural Retreats Ltd, Natural Assets Investments Ltd, Natural Land 1 LLP, Natural Land 3 Ltd, Natural Land 3 Management Ltd, NL 3 Cottages Management Ltd,

That’s not all. There are yet other companies at the same address that do not carry the ‘Natural’ tag but are run by the same people. These are: Dol Park Ltd (Dissolved 31.07.2018), JOG 3 LLP, JOG Highlands LLP, John o’ Groats Highlands Ltd, K2 Equity Partners LLP, Mini Gems Ltd (Dissolved 31.07.2018), N A Lews Castle Ltd (Formerly Snowdonia Land Ltd, ), North York Moors Ltd, Pentire Fistral Beach Ltd (Dissolved 31.07.2018), Worldwide Private Residences LP.

There may be other companies for all I know but the people involved with almost all of those I’ve listed are: Matt Spence, Anthony Wild and Ewan Kearney.

click to enlarge

The founder and driving force is Matt Spence, who was born on a Yorkshire sheep farm where – he tells us – it was a struggle to survive, so he and his brothers looked for alternative ways to make money. Spence hit on the idea of high quality accommodation in national parks and other areas of great natural beauty.

A noble ambition that he’s partly met in finding the right locations. But in reality Spence’s business is raising money in the form of investments – the minimum seems to have been £50,000 to join NR Investors LP (check out the document for 16.01.2008) – and whether all the money raised goes on lodges and chalets is a moot point, for he and his associates have their fingers in so many pies.

But whatever the company or partnership the bottom line remains making as much money as possible. And this often seems to mean cutting corners, for I’ve heard from a number of quarters that the ‘Natural’ empire is not always a good neighbour, or employer. Here are reports from the Cairngorms, and Yorkshire.

There are even suggestions that the empire may not be in the best of financial health. But with so many interlinked commercial and financial entities constantly changing addresses and names it’s not easy for anyone to keep track.

I earlier alluded to an intervention from the Commonwealth of Virginia, so maybe it’s time to expand on what I’m sure you found to be a tantalising reference.

Spence is something of an evangelist and so we should not be surprised to learn that he spread the ‘Natural’ gospel to the USA, where they have a hell of a lot more open spaces than us. This bore fruit in Natural Retreats USA. And yet . . .

Those who have raised Natural Retreats UK Ltd from the dead appear to have no connection with Natural Retreats USA. And yet, under its original name of NRML Technology Ltd the company was formed by a Christopher Holden who gave his correspondence address as, ‘Natural Retreats, 675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, 22911’.

Holden works with venture capitalists and investors, Court Square Ventures of Charlottesville, which has no obvious connection with Natural Retreats USA, it’s certainly not listed among CSV’s clients. He was later joined as a director by Douglas Burns. On the CSV website Holden is described as a ‘General Partner’, whereas Burns is ‘Principal & CFO’.

click to enlarge

Unless they plucked the Natural Retreats UK Ltd name out of thin air, and found Manchester by sticking a pin in a map, there has to be a connection between Court Square Ventures and Matt Spence and his associates.

But it still doesn’t make sense.

Because if we read the CSV website, and the biographies of the partners, then we see that their backgrounds are in media, technology, communications and the like – not a sasquatch-terrorised log cabin to be seen!

And yet, Court Square Ventures is an investment company, so it’s reasonable to suggest that the boys from Charlottesville come bearing greenbacks, which inclines me towards three options:

  1. They have come to get a slice of the action, at Pistyll and elsewhere, perhaps by investing in one or more of Spence’s many financial vehicles.
  2. They have come to help Spence out of a financial hole.
  3. They have come to take over.

And if you think about, it could be a bit of all three; or maybe options 1 and 2 culminating in option 3.

In the hope of clarifying the situation I e-mailed Natural Retreats USA on Friday with, “There are companies of the same name operating in the UK, in Wales, Scotland and England. I see that Christopher Holden is a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd. What exactly is the connection or relationship between the US and UK companies?”

The reply said, “Thank you for your inquiry into Natural Retreats. I would be happy to offer some more information as to how the different companies are related. You may also view our website for further clarification: https://www.naturalretreats.com/about

Natural Retreats was originally founded in the UK by Matthew Spence, and started with a few luxury lodges in the Yorkshire Dales. Over time, Natural Retreats grew to include destinations in the Eastern and Western United States as well. At this time, the US and UK now operate separately; they only share the name of Natural Retreats. The US main office is located in Charlottesville, VA and the Western Support Office is located in Park City, UT. 

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you, again, for your inquiry; we hope you will stay with us at one of our luxury retreats in the near future!”

To which I responded with, “I am grateful for your speedy response.
 
As I mentioned in my original query, I was a little confused seeing Christopher Holden of Charlottesville, Virginia listed as a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd (Co No 11031026). A company formed in October 2017.
 
This would appear to be a UK presence for the US operation, or is there some other interpretation?”

At this point the line went dead!

So we are no nearer to knowing why venture capitalists from Virginia with no obvious expertise in tourism have set up in Manchester using a company name previously used by those building at Plas Pistyll. But it’s surely no coincidence that Rural Retreats USA’s eastern office is in Charlottesville. Which throws up other questions.

I’ll ask again, does Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners really know who they’re dealing with? Not just because of the find-me-if-you-can company names but also because Spence specialises in getting others to invest in his plans, and even though I’m sure he scrupulously screens each and every investor, the fact remains that the money to develop Plas Pistyll could be coming from anywhere.

Court Square Ventures is another company that invests money for third parties.

And does Cyngor Gwynedd know that Project Natural Retreats Ltd owns Tŷ Mawr at Abergeirw, and not just the house, but also land around it. These title references apply: WA634099, WA894641, WA930505. One to watch I would suggest!

TIME TO DEFEND OURSELVES

The properties at Pistyll are now being advertised on Rightmove and other sites. So let’s consider what we’re dealing with, and its implications.

click to enlarge

For a start, I note that these properties are being sold leasehold. Yet England’s management team down in Cardiff docks – those clowns that hope to be mistaken for a ‘Welsh Government’ – has turned against leasehold, except, apparently, when it’s used by RSLs or, more secretively, by unregistered private subsidiaries of publicly-funded RSLs. And of course by the likes of the ‘Natural’ empire.

Then again, just imagine Matt Spence and his gang turning up and saying, ‘Oi, Taff, we want to build a new holiday village overlooking the sea. We ain’t gonna use local materials, suppliers or labour. Then we are gonna give it some idiotic English name and there’s fuck all you can do about it’.

There would have been an outcry, even Plaid Cymru might have been roused to mumble something.

But that is exactly what has been achieved incrementally!

This development at Pistyll is only a few miles from Plas Glynllifon where dwells our old friend Paul Williams of Weep for Wales fame. Yet Plas Pistyll and Plas Glynllifon represent for the ‘Welsh’ Government ‘high end’ tourism, which must be unquestioningly encouraged.

For it is all set out in TAN 13: Tourism (1997) . . . which observant readers will have noted was two years before the Assembly first sat. That’s really thinking ahead!

Yet from what I can see, ‘high end’ tourism only attracts the smarter shysters and the outright crooks. Though if we are to attract high end tourism then what is being done to phase out the barrel-scraping tourism represented by mile after mile of ugly coastal caravan parks that can only deter the high rollers?

Nothing.

Because we are expected to believe that in a tiny country like Wales we can have all kinds of tourism and unlimited numbers of tourists without causing catastrophic cultural and environmental damage.

This is because it’s what England wants, due to the fact that a) money spent in Wales will make its way back to England, and b) tourism and the population influx it encourages makes Wales less of a ‘worry’.

As for the aforementioned clowns down Geiger Bay, well they’ll always do what London tells them, and some of them are even stupid enough to believe that a healthy economy can be based on tourism. Not forgetting that many in the Labour Party would be happy to see the death of Welsh identity.

‘As long as we got a rugby team, innit!’

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 7

The anguished cry goes up from Cemaes to Chepstow, from Talacre to Tenby – ‘Will this ever end!’ 

The short answer is, I hope it will; but for me to get back to reporting on local flower shows, and telling you what Sharon’s mother wore at the wedding before she got legless and started stripping, there will need to be action from the police and various levels of government.

And while there are encouraging signs, and a growing mountain of evidence, the Williams-Partridge gang remains at liberty.

Even so, you’re assuming that there must have been some developments otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this latest instalment, and indeed there have. Not least a tearful – if unwilling – return to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel for Paul and Rowena Williams.

For anyone joining us for the first time I strongly suggest that you get up to speed with: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6.

Now read on . . .

WHAT A NUTTER!

And lo, it came to pass that on Friday July 20th Paul and Rowena Williams did return to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne whereto they had been summoned by Powys County Council, and the ‘Welsh’ Government; the former checking on what insults had been inflicted on this listed building and the latter ensuring that the money showered on the Gruesome Twosome for the ‘Rad’ and the Knighton Hotel had been properly spent.

Radnorshire Arms Hotel, click to enlarge

As yet, we don’t know what was said at the meeting (my Russian office is working on it), but things certainly got a bit heated when Paul Williams emerged. There were a few locals waiting for him. He approached one, and demanded, “Who are you, I’ve never seen you in here, have you ever drunk or eaten here, its people like you that forced me to close it down”.

He was clearly not in a good mood. He got particularly belligerent with this one particular local, and ended up belly-bumping him before head-butting him!

The gallery below shows a few scenes from last Friday’s tête-à-tête. Left to right: Paul and Rowena Williams, Paul Williams with the guy he nutted, two suits who arrived at the same time. Assure me they’re not working for the Williams-Partridge gang and I’ll remove them.

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From Paul Williams’ demeanour it would be reasonable to assume that the meeting with Powys County Council and the ‘Welsh’ Government did not go well, for him. Good.

Elsewhere, the Mid Wales Journal ran another piece, but the story has now been relegated to page 2. It also carried a reader’s letter pointing out the absurdity of Partridge in last week’s edition attributing the closure of the hotels to the hostility that had built up after their closure. The same arse-backwards logic employed by Paul Williams on Friday.

THE SCAM ADMITTED AND PROBLEMS PILING

Ignoring the distraction of the confrontation Paul Williams’ little outburst is interesting, and revealing, on a number of counts.

First, the man being addressed (and then nutted) was a regular drinker and diner at the Radnorshire Arms, but Paul Williams wouldn’t have known that because he was hardly ever there. I suppose when you’ve got a property empire to oversee, hotels to buy (often from yourself at ludicrous prices), and money to launder, you haven’t got much time to shoot the breeze with locals.

Second, Williams admits that he closed these establishments, so the ‘sale’ to Keith Partridge was a sham, as I always suspected. But maybe it’s worse than that because the more I think about it the more convinced I am that there was no intention to ever reopen the Radnorshire Arms or the Knighton Hotel.

The ‘sale’ to Partridge was a ploy to distract attention from Paul and Rowena Williams. And even without Paul Williams’ outburst last Friday, the evidence has always been there, staring us in the face.

Remember the letter staff received from Keith Partridge? It said: “Your employer is still the company, RRL UK Ltd” (Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd). Confirmed by Rowena Williams’ letter of 28 March. (Read both here.)

Yet on 1 April the gang (acting through or in the name of Michael Jones) tried to strike off Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. So those letters to the staff should have read: ‘We’re telling you you’re  employed by RRL UK Ltd – but we’re liquidating the company. Ha, ha!’

As I’ve mentioned before, the strike-off was halted by an objection from a public-spirited individual. Yet the Companies House website makes clear that the gang still wants to strike off this company.

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Some might argue that liquidating RRL UK Ltd could be the best option. The Radnorshire, the Knighton and the other properties would then be auctioned off and might be bought by people who want them to be successful.

The flaw in this reasoning is that they might be bought at auction by another Paul Williams. For he himself has bought properties this way; one was the Fronoleu, near Dolgellau, which we looked at in the previous instalment, work started we were told in 2015, and yet it remains an empty shell.

Further evidence that Partridge is simply fronting for Paul and Rowena Williams, is that the letter from heartbroken-to-be-leaving Rowena and ‘new owner’ Partridge were almost certainly written by the same person. The clue is in the bizarre date format “01st February” appearing in both letters.

And of course, with the portfolio including the Radnorshire and the Knighton not being sold to Partridge it means that Team Williams did not receive the £10m Partridge was said to have paid them for those properties.

Yet Paul and Rowena Williams are talking of spending £20m on Plas Glynllifon and £5m or more on Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, so where’s the money coming from?

The truth is they have no intention of completing the restoration of Plas Glynllifon. They’ll spend a little money on cosmetic effects, bring in some antiques and other fixtures, but as with so many of their ventures, from the Scottish border to Cornwall, the prize may be the land adjoining Plas Glynllifon.

Which is why I was so concerned to read, “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”.

So I call on Cyngor Gwynedd and Grwp Llandrillo-Menai to tell us exactly what is being discussed, or has been agreed, with regard to handing over land to Paul and Rowena Williams. I can understand the silence, it’s often difficult to talk with egg on your face, but the people of Gwynedd, Powys, and the rest of Wales are entitled to know the truth.

Aerial view of the estate with Plas Glynllifon in the centre, click to enlarge.

The other element of the scam will be raising money against the asset of Plas Glynllifon. With a building that size, and the land around it, they could hope to raise many millions of pounds in mortgages and loans. And when they took it over in 2016 – fresh from their triumphs in Powys – they were also expecting a few million pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government and/or Cyngor Gwynedd.

PAUL WILLIAMS, SOME MORE FACTS

Here are some random and often unrelated facts from a number of sources that nevertheless help to fill out the profile of Paul Williams.

  • In the previous instalment I quoted Paul Williams’ Linkedin profile (here in pdf) and his claim to have worked for eleven years for the Royal Mail, handling their property portfolio. Now I’m told this is yet more bullshit. Which raises the question, ‘What was Paul Williams doing before he emerged circa 2001 at Mortimers Cross Inn?’
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  • I mentioned the Goa connection in Weep for Wales 5, now I hear that Paul Williams’ father has a hotel there, but comes home three or four times a year. I’m also told that if you meet the father you’ll understand why the son is what he is.
  • The Badminton Club in Ebbw Vale was bought with cash. The attraction being the one-arm bandits and other gambling allowed at a private club. My source says that Paul and Rowena would travel down to Ebbw Vale regularly to empty the machines. (The income from which could be exaggerated?)
  • The Williams’ faithful lapdog Rikki Reynolds, now ‘running’ the Seiont Manor Hotel near Caernarfon, first worked for Paul and Rowena Williams at Mortimers Cross Inn. Later, either at the Knighton Hotel or the Radnorshire Arms, he was sacked for stealing some of the money that was lying around everywhere. Reinstated he is now part of the gang. Rikki is none too bright, a heavy drinker, a drug user, but loyal.
  • The Mortimers Cross Inn is also where they made the acquaintance of John Duggan the thieving accountant they have used to hide their crimes for a number of years. Can’t you just imagine the conversations Paul and John might have had of a winter evening around a roaring log fire, with Rikki swaying gently behind the bar!
  • The ‘Welsh’ Government has stated in a reply to Kirsty Williams AM that the Knighton Hotel received grants totalling £254,200 and Radnorshire Arms £225,000, but a source insists these figures are wildly inaccurate. The source is convinced that the Knighton alone received over one million pounds, and that Paul Williams used to boast that grants had paid for the place. Did the ‘Welsh’ Government focus on a single funding stream in order to mislead us?
  • For let’s not forget that even though Kirsty Williams is the local Lib Dem AM she also props up the minority Labour regime down Cardiff Bay. So she might not want to embarrass her coalition partners. Also worth remembering is that the reply she received came from Dafydd Elis Thomas, former Plaid Cymru AM, who is also helping keep Carwyn Jones and his gang afloat.
  • Fronoleu near Dolgellau was bought at auction in 2015 and paid for in cash. Over three hundred thousand pounds. A loan was then taken out against the property in 2018 with Together Commercial Finance Ltd. In the previous instalment I showed you plans that had been drawn up by an architect suggesting that work had started on Fronoleu in 2015. It was a lie, of course. Everything is a lie with Paul Williams. But worse, I’m told that this architect signs off projects funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government, saying that they have been satisfactorily completed. The architect concerned had worked for Paul Williams before Fronoleu, and possibly since.
  • But they had no intention of re-opening Fronoleu. It was just a way of laundering £300,000+. (And because it’s money laundering they’ll willingly pay over the odds.) This is how to get rid of dirty money and make more money on what you’ve bought. Money laundering also explains buying property from themselves at greatly inflated prices.
Fronoleu, click to enlarge
  • There was a delivery of new televisions to the Knighton Hotel one day, and even though hawk-eyed Paul Williams was on the premises – they were all stolen!
  • Paul Williams dismissed one member of his staff at 11pm on Christmas Eve in a telephone call from an airport where he was about to jet off for three weeks in Egypt!
  • One of his staff found a payroll file on a computer used by Paul Williams. Instead of names and numbers staff were identified by insulting descriptions of their physical appearance. I find this really weird, and disturbing.

PAUL WILLIAMS, THE MAN

Anecdotes and hard evidence continues to flow in from those who’ve had the misfortune to be involved with or work for Paul and Rowena Williams. (I used just a fraction of it in the previous section.) All of it helping to build up a character profile for Paul Williams.

To begin with, I’m convinced he’s a pathological liar for whom lies come easier than the truth. You just cannot believe a word he says. Often, he might not even realise that he’s telling lies.

When dealing with authority his strategy is to wear down the enemy by not replying to letters, e-mails and phone messages. Worryingly, this often results in the problem going away. Here’s a good example from Cornwall of how Paul Williams operates.

But if he is pinned down then he will agree to a meeting – but not turn up. Or agree to make a payment and not do so until he’s threatened with bailiffs or prosecution. With tradesmen and suppliers to whom he owes money he either ignores them or he threatens them with violence.

A number of people who’ve worked for Paul Williams tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, and attributed his lack of empathy to autism, before realising he’s just a complete cunt.

He likes to go to the limit, he likes to see how much he can get away with. It’s brinkmanship. He’s a gambler, a risk-taker. He might even get a rush from it.

He certainly enjoys cutting corners, cheating, putting one over on people, whether it’s his employees, the UK government, the ‘Welsh’ Government, local authorities, banks, tradesmen, suppliers, even taxi drivers delivering him home drunk.

I introduce the taxi driver because of a story I’ve been told about Paul, Rowena and Rikki Reynolds. A while ago a taxi delivered them to Seiont Manor and the taxi driver had to struggle to get his money because Paul Williams haggled over a £15 taxi fare!

Some might view Paul Williams as a likeable rogue for taking on public officials, banks and others, but when you learn of the little people he has hurt, humiliated and robbed, you realise he’s just a piece of shit.

APPEAL

A number of people over the years have had unhappy experiences with Paul and Rowena Williams. I’m already receiving information from many sources, but I suspect there are others who are no longer in Wales who could also provide information.

So I’d like to hear from Dan Pricop, Phil Higgerson, Mark McNicol and Paul Field. Get in touch with me at editor@jacothenorth.net. But the offer is open to anybody and everybody who will help to get this man and his associates their just desserts.

ROGUES GALLERY

The montage below shows, in the big picture, Paul Williams’ sister Debra Yvonne Oswald with her husband Stuart. Top right is Keith Partridge. Bottom right Sukhbinder Singh Heer, who is the other director of Leisure & Development Ltd along with Partridge and Williams. Quite what he brings to the party is yet to be established.

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You’ll note that Part(d)ridge and Heer became directors of Leisure & Development Ltd on 1 February 2018, which is the date Partridge is supposed to have taken over the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, the Knighton Hotel and other properties. But in both letters we’ve seen, staff are told they still work for Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, of which Partridge and Heer are not directors.

Has somebody slipped up, got confused with similarly named companies?

UPDATE 24.07.2018: There seems to have been a belated and rather clumsy attempt to resolve the anomaly of Paul Williams remaining a director of Leisure & Development Ltd following the alleged takeover by Partridge. Documents dated last Saturday (21.07.2018) but received at Companies House today (24.07.2018) tell us that Paul Williams has resigned as director. Also, that 10,000 shares in the company have been transferred from Plas Glynllifon Ltd to Partridge.

Which is just paperwork, designed to deceive. For I guarantee that no properties have been transferred from Paul and Rowena Williams to Partridge.

BOTTOM LINE

As I say, this is primarily a money laundering operation. The only question is whether Paul Williams is laundering money for others or for himself and his extended family. Maybe it’s a bit of both. We can add mortgage fraud and other crimes to the mix.

Properties are bought at auction, paid for with cash, or people in difficulty with their mortgage are ‘helped’ . . . before being elbowed out. Those properties, and nearby land, are then used to raise loans, sold to Williams companies at absurdly inflated prices, which then means they can take out more loans.

So dirty money is successfully laundered and more money is raised through loans against properties they have no real interest in, but it also means a growing mountain of debt, unless of course Together Commercial Finance Ltd is part of this scam.

Whatever the answer, if I was a business partner of Williams I’d be pissed off with him for attracting a lot of unnecessary attention. All he had to do was keep the Radnorshire Arms and the Knighton Hotel open and I would never have heard of Paul Steven Williams.

But then, I’ve described the sort of ‘fuck-’em-all‘ man he is, and because he thinks he’s smarter than everybody else, he’s become over-confident, and when you’re over-confident you make mistakes.

In Swansea, we call this hubris.

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales

OUR STORY BEGINS IN PRESTEIGNE . . .

I am indebted to an anonymous source for the basis of the tale you’re about to read. I’ve contributed some supplementary digging and a number of interpretations. The original information I received was also sent to a couple of police forces, a number of media outlets, and other agencies, but I doubt if any will act on the information, so it’s up to Jac to extend his scrawny old neck, again.

Let the story begin in the pleasant little border town of Presteigne. To be even more specific, in the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, a half-timbered building dating back to the late 16th century.

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As told to me . . . this establishment was bought in 2006, or thereabouts, by a Paul Steven Williams for a price close to £400,000. It was then leased to a succession of tenants at an unreasonably high rent, with the predictable result that none of the tenants was able to make a go of it.

The last of these unfortunates seems to have been Gianni Roberto d’Aniello of Cora Berry Hotels Ltd. A company registered in January 2014 at the Radnorshire Arms, and put into the hands of Cardiff liquidators in November of that same year.

RESCUE!

But then! when all seemed lost, this by now neglected building was sold in August 2015 for the princely (and surprising) sum of £3,487,049 to Leisure and Development Ltd, a company with an address in nearby Knighton. A company Incorporated only a few months earlier on 19 January 2015.

And it wasn’t just the Radnorshire Arms that was bought by the new company, for in June and July 2015 Leisure and Development Ltd went on a spending spree and acquired seven properties, with another two added in February 2016, one of them the Beaufort Sports and Social Club in Ebbw Vale. (To see them all click on the ‘Charges’ tab of the Companies House entry I’ve just linked to.)

The founding directors of Leisure and Development Ltd were Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams. The charge referring to a loan from NatWest Bank suggests that the Radnorshire Arms had been transferred to Mrs Williams prior to the sale to Leisure and Development Ltd (see panel below).

click to enlarge

UPDATE 21:52: It may be worth spelling out that the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was sold by Rowena Claire Williams to Leisure and Development Ltd (Directors: Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams) for at least twice what the property was worth. This is very odd; I mean, how can you ‘sell’ something to yourself?

Something else that struck me about Leisure and Development Ltd was the number of changes of address it saw in such a short time. Incorporated January 2015 with an address at the Knighton Hotel, Broad Street, Knighton; then in February 2016 to just over the border in Craven Arms; in February 2017 the company re-crossed the border from Craven Arms to Plas Glynllifon, Caernarfon; and finally, in April 2018, it moved back to Craven Arms.

There’ll be more on Plas Glynllifon and other properties in north Gwynedd later. They can’t be ignored because Plas Glynllifon Ltd now owns all the shares in Leisure and Development Ltd, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you who the directors are of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Though they have ceased to be directors of Leisure and Development Ltd.

But the Williamses still own Leisure and Development Ltd through their ownership of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. It’s one way of operating – set up a company, then set up another company, resign from the first company but retain ownership through the second, then set up a third company, resign from the second, and so ad infinitum.

The person now nominally in charge of the Leisure and Development Ltd portfolio, named on the Companies House website as “person with significant control” from 30 April 2018, is Keith Harvey Partdridge. An interesting character, Partdridge, of whom more in a short while.

Though I suspect that spelling may be a recent affectation, if not a mis-spelling, because he has previously been known by the more usual spelling of Partridge. As in Museums (Norfolk) Ltd and Health Choice Hotels Ltd, both of which appear to be dormant.

Another example of Partridge’s business acumen, or perhaps his probity, may be found with Turnholly Ltd, owing some two hundred thousand pounds to various creditors.

SO WHO’S WHO AND HOW ARE THEY CONNECTED?

Well, we’ve met Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams, and I’ve also introduced their business partner Keith Harvey Partridge. And as I suggested, Partridge has a colourful past.

From 1992 to 1997 he owned the Midlands Motor Museum in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. But towards the end of 1999 he was jailed for stealing a Bentley Azure worth over a quarter of a million pounds. In March 2008 his home was up for sale with an asking price of £2,000,000.

But the Williamses are no paragons of good business practice either. Despite being repeatedly warned they carried on advertising the Radnorshire Arms as having AA and Visit Wales ratings, until they were eventually fined £1,250 with £4,250 costs.

(Incidentally, let me make it clear that despite the name the Williamses are not Welsh. They describe themselves as ‘English’ (not British) on documents submitted to Companies House, and I’m told that Paul Williams is a particularly unsavoury Kipper.)

Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams. Credit: Wales News Service

In terms of companies, so far we’ve encountered Leisure and Development Ltd and Plas Glynllifon Ltd, plus some of Partridge’s solo ventures. Now it’s time to list a few others, without I hope causing too much confusion.

Paul and Rowena Williams were directors of Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd, also listed among the directors was their company Leisure and Development Ltd (which bought the Radnorshire Arms Hotel). Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd is now run by their associate Michael Adrian Jones, with his address given as Polvellan House in Cornwall.

On April 1 Jones – who owns all the shares since they were transferred to him from Leisure and Development Ltd – made an application for Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd to be voluntarily struck off, but someone objected and the strike-off has been suspended.

I understand that Rowena Williams was outraged on finding that some scallywag had pinned the notification to the front door of the Radnorshire Arms.

A similarly named company is Rural Retreats and Development Ltd, of which Paul and Rowena Williams are both still directors. Former directors were Debra Yvonne Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister, and Polvellan Manor Ltd. There are a number of Charges against this company for loans and mortgages, including one against the Fronoleu Country Hotel at Tabor, just outside Dolgellau.

The mortgages, or more likely second mortgages, are with Together Commercial Finance Ltd, which seems to offer the commercial equivalent of pay day loans to those who find it difficult to raise money anywhere else.

click to enlarge

Turning to Partridge, since his release from prison he has formed a number of companies called Coast 2 Coast. There’s Coast 2 Coast Land Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Shores Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Developments Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Resorts Ltd, and Coast 2 Coast Care Ltd. The last of them is now dissolved but was formerly known as Coast 2 Coast Leisure, with Gwynedd directors following the change of name.

I find this last entry intriguing because it suggests an attempt by Partridge to break into the granny farming racket in Gwynedd.

WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT TOURISM?

I’ve already mentioned Plas Glynllifon, but the Williamses and/or Partridge also own Seiont Manor, Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch.

Plas Glynllifon has a chequered recent history. You may recall a few years ago someone trying to market it as ‘Wynnborn’. That previous owner was Gavin Lee Woodhouse, a spiv from Yorkshire. I wrote about Woodhouse in English Tourism in the Colony of Wales and Colonial Investments. (Paul and Rowena Williams also got a mention.)

After pissing people off in Caernarfon and beyond with his insulting ‘Wynnborn’ nonsense Woodhouse seems to have sold out to the Williamses and turned his gaze south. After linking up with Bore Grylls and then – to give the project some credibility – Peter Moore, former MD of Center Parcs, he unveiled the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

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Quite an ambitious undertaking for a man who was then six million quid in debt, but the ‘Welsh’ Government gave the trio everything they wanted – land, planning permission, infrastructure, money, you name it.

It’s impossible to know what the future holds for the four properties around Caernarfon, we can only be guided by the record of those who now own these fine old buildings. And that record is not encouraging.

A FEW WORRYING FACTS

Since April 16 the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne has been closed. On Monday 16 April staff were told by Paul Williams that Leisure and Development Ltd – comprising seven pubs, hotels, restaurants – had been sold to Coast 2 Coast and was being ‘re-branded’.

In other words, convicted thief Keith Harvey Partridge had somehow managed to raise“more than £10 million pounds” Williams claimed the deal was worth. Partridge whose companies are either in debt or mere shells.

On Sunday April 22 Partridge appeared in person at the Radnorshire Arms to tell staff that all the company’s establishments would be closed for 6 – 8 weeks for refurbishment. Staff were being laid off but could reapply for their jobs later. Over 70 staff were affected at the various locations.

Nothing has since been done to the Radnorshire Arms, and no planning application has been submitted. The building has instead been gutted and left to decay. There are broken windows and slates have fallen into the street. This, remember, is a 16th century, Grade II listed building.

In saying that the Radnorshire Arms has been “gutted”, what I mean is that it has been stripped of everything that can be sold off. The panel below is taken from the latest accounts for Leisure & Development Ltd submitted to Companies House at the end of April. Or rather, the unaudited financial statement.

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You’ll see that between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2018 almost seven million pounds worth of plant and machinery plus fixtures and fittings somehow slipped off the balance sheet. Leaving the companies assets confined to freehold property, in other words, mere structures, decaying structures, all of them mortgaged and re-mortgaged, and perhaps overvalued.

Earlier I mentioned Polvellan Manor in West Looe, Cornwall, now owned by Polvellan Manor Ltd. On April 1 Paul and Rowena Williams transferred the 5000 shares they each owned to Keith Partdridge. They ceased to be directors on the same day, leaving Partdridge in sole control.

Polvellan Manor is another fine building that has been gutted and left to rot by Paul Williams, Rowena Williams, Keith Partridge and the rest of the gang. Cornwall Live featured Polvellan Manor in March this year, when it was listed among, “23 derelict buildings in Cornwall at risk of disappearing forever”.  

Paul Holden, chair of the Cornish Buildings Group, told the CL reporter, “We have applied unsuccessfully to get the building listed, the rejection notice said that much of the historic interior had been lost.” I wonder where the interior could have gone? Did it just walk out the door?

The Fronoleu Country Hotel, just outside Dolgellau, is now closed, just like Polvellan Manor and the Radnorshire Arms. So is the Beaufort Sports and Social Club in Ebbw Vale. I guarantee that most if not all of the properties owned by this gang are closed. What sort of business can this be?

And here’s a thought . . . has anyone from Cyngor Gwynedd or the ‘Welsh’ Government been inside Plas Glynllifon lately?

Another thought; by stripping and neglecting these buildings the gang is almost certainly breaking the conditions of the loans and mortgages, the conditions that insist these buildings be properly maintained and looked after. Intact.

And what do the insurers think of this behaviour?

UPDATE 14.06.2018: Here are the letters received by the staff at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the other establishments owned by Rural Retreats and Leisure Ltd. The first from Rowena Williams of RRL and the second from Keith Partridge of Coast 2 Coast. (Here in pdf format.)

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According to these letters the deal was done 1 February, so why did it take eight weeks to inform the staff?

Note how optimistic Rowena Williams sounds, “At the moment we do not have any more information that (sic) what we have shared with you except that they (Coast 2 Coast) want to move quickly in order to be open for the summer period”.

But the Williamses have been dealing with Partridge for years, and they knew exactly what the plan was.

And as for the “summer period”, well, it’s mid June, Whitsun has come and gone, and in the northern hemisphere it is now definitely summer . . . but the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the other establishments remain firmly closed, with no sign of them opening any time soon.

How could anyone ever trust these people?

COUNT THE SPOONS!

You’ll have noticed that Paul and Rowena Williams and their sidekick Partridge buy property almost indiscriminately, and then they just strip them to the bare bones and let the buildings deteriorate.

This is because they have no interest in actually running hotels. The racket is to buy a property, with a loan or a mortgage; announce a big investment, lots of jobs; then strip the building of anything valuable; sell it on within the gang at an inflated price (or simply transfer it); dissolve indebted companies; pull down whatever grants are available, use these grants and new loans to service old loans; while paying yourself handsomely behind this fog of deceit.

With all the debts accrued, this is a house of cards. Collapse must surely be imminent.

Consequently, to have any dealings with these people would be foolish. To give them money would be insane. And yet, this is what I’m told has happened, and probably explains why they’ve moved their operations to Wales. For it’s claimed the gang has already received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government, with more in the pipeline.

I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to Visit Wales, but I have already been told that the Radnorshire Arms received a grant of £370,000, plus a smaller grant; while the Knighton Hotel (formerly Norton Hotel) received an even larger grant.

God knows how much they’re getting, or anticipate getting, from their foray into Gwynedd.

In case anyone is in doubt, let me make it absolutely clear: These people are liars, chisellers, scammers, asset-strippers, con men, crooks; so cut off all public funding immediately and demand repayment of what they have already received; insist on a thorough inspection of the buildings they ‘own’; and then refer them to the police. 

Weep for Wales that we keep attracting people like these, scavengers drawn to a fallen beast. A once noble beast brought down by a colonial system that will always favour strangers, and exploitation; a system that will never encourage native initiative lest it gives us ideas about our place in the great scheme of things.

This system, and those who promote and operate it, must be swept away. Do that and I won’t have to write about Paul and Rowena Williams, Keith Partridge, Bore Grylls, Gavin Woodhouse and the occupying army of which they are just a small detachment.

♦ end ♦

 

Respecting Snowdon

RESPECT WANTED

Tourism is a subject I’ve written about more than once, and so I think my views are pretty well known. But in case anyone’s failed to get the message . . . tourism in Wales is exploitive, tasteless, disruptive, damaging to Welsh identity and culture, destructive of our physical environment, and far too little of the wealth it generates reaches Welsh people. Tourism in Wales is one of the more obvious manifestations of colonialism.

Which is why I was encouraged to read this morning about Eryri in future being treated with “respect”. Remarkably, this is the very word I have used in my previous criticisms of the damage being done to the area by crude and exploitive tourism.

The word was used by Helen Pye, the Snowdonia National Park’s former head warden for Snowdon who is now manager of the Snowdon Partnership, a group representing various interests that has produced a draft plan for the area which invites comments. It’s a fascinating document and I urge you all to read it, and to submit your comments before Friday’s deadline.

The document tells us, for example, that Snowdon is a “national asset” . . . without stating which nation is being referred to. But as it goes on to say, ” . . . the most visited mountain in the UK.” it’s reasonable to assume that we are here discussing the mythic UKish nation.

A remarkable, and worrying, statistic may be found on page 20, which tells us that between 2013 and 2015 the percentage of first-time hill walkers attempting Yr Wyddfa doubled from 10% to 20%. Which no doubt contributes to some of the more alarming statistics found elsewhere in the report.

Page 43 bears out my criticism of tourism providing low-wage and seasonal employment, and contributing little to the overall economy of an area, with: “Tourism to Yr Wyddfa is estimated to contribute £69m of economic benefit per annum. There are low rates of full-time employment and low median wages in the Park”.

Though my spirits were briefly raised when I read, on page 48,“Invasive species are being controlled”, under the “Where do we want to be by 2030?” heading . . . only to realise that the draft was not referring to tourists.

All in all, it’s a very disappointing and unambitious document, with ‘compromise’ written through it like ‘Tenby’ through a stick of rock. Hardly surprising when we look at some of the ‘partners’: Visit Betws-y-Coed, The Outdoor Partnership, The National Trust, Beddgelert Tourism Association, Snowdonia-Active, Visit Wales, Snowdon Mountain Railway.

All of which can be grouped under the ‘Playground Wales’ umbrella. Organisations which insist that attracting unsustainable numbers of tourists, and encouraging many to settle, has no damaging consequences for Welsh identity, social cohesion, and the natural environment.

Not a lot different to tobacco companies back in the ’60s and ’70s arguing that cigarettes were not harmful to health. If you have a vested interested in denying what it is becoming clear to everyone else then that’s what you do . . . and just hope you get away with it.

TREN BACH YR WYDDFA

After writing the name I got to wondering a bit more about the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which not only owns the train to the summit but also runs the cafe close by the summit.

Reading the website one of the first things that struck me about the early days of the railway was the almost total absence of Welsh involvement. This was all happening in spite of us, or over our heads. But then, that’s colonialism; a whole nation treated as if it has learning difficulties, unable to do anything for itself.

The section below is taken from the website’s History section.

From ‘History of the Snowdon Mountain Railway’

The initial excursion in 1896 of No 1 Ladas, owned by the Snowdon Mountain Tramroad and Hotels Company Ltd, was not a great success, for the train left the track. Fortunately there was just one fatality, Ellis Griffith Roberts of Llanberis.

This episode is so wonderfully emblematic of ‘Welsh’ tourism. Not only were those making the money English, even the driver of the derailed train, William Pickles, was brought in from Yorkshire (with his nephew to serve as fireman). And as is the case 120 years later, it’s the Welsh who suffer.

The company number quoted on the website is 00042476 which, when typed into the Companies House site, takes us here. We can see that this company is based in Liverpool, and has been dormant for many years. Not only that, but since 2001 the company has got by without auditors. (You’ll note that this decision was taken at a meeting in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Perhaps in deference to Will Pickles and his nephew.)

Which means that one of Wales’ major tourism enterprises is run by an unaudited, dormant company. So who owns this outfit? Well, the answer seems to be, according to this document, that the shares – all 1,803,690 (10p shares) – are owned by Heritage Great Britain PLC of the same Liverpool address.

Heritage Great Britain plc is a holding company and we are also told that, “The Group undertakes the operation of various landmark and other day visitor attractions situated in the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, North Wales, and holiday accommodation in Scotland through a joint venture”.

So who owns Heritage Great Britain plc? According to this document, as at 5 April 2016 all 5,213,371 £1 shares are held by Cherberry Ltd. Which is where the trail almost goes dead. Because if you type ‘Cherberry Ltd’ into the Companies House website you draw a blank . . . for Cherberry was registered in May 1996 in Jersey.

Naturally – you know me, nosey bastard! – I went to the website of the Jersey Financial Services Commission to see what I could learn about Cherberry Ltd . . . which was not a lot. Other than the fact that the trail goes on to Dukla Ltd of Gibraltar, as set out in this document. The Dukla Articles of Association are dated August 2015. Having paid out £4 for the Jersey documents I was in no mood to splash out more than thirty quid a time for the Gibraltar docs.

And even if I’d bought some Gibraltar documents then I might have found that they led on to the Caymans or the British Virgin Islands. Which raises a few questions.

Hafod Eryri. All the architectural charm of a public urinal from communist East Germany

First, the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd leases the cafe at the summit, Hafod Eryri, from the Snowdonia National Park. This ‘visitor centre’ opened 12 June 2009 and was built at considerable cost. Given who owns it it’s safe to assume that a great deal of public funding was involved. How do those funders – probably using your money and mine – feel about this publicly-funded asset now being leased to a company based God knows where?

Second, the Snowdonia Mountain Railway ferries a few hundred thousand people between Llanberis and the summit every year. In the event of an accident, how easy would it be to hold to account a company we’ve traced to Gibraltar, a company that through yet more changes of name and ownership may ultimately be located even further afield?

Are Cyngor Gwynedd and the ‘Welsh’ Government satisfied that adequate insurance is in place to cover all eventualities? Satisfied that culpability can be apportioned and justice satisfied when the guilty party or parties may be beyond UK jurisdiction?

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DRAMATIS PERSONAE

The principal characters in the Snowdon Mountain Railway, in the forms of the three current directors are, Gary Johnson, Allan James Stuart Leech and Peter Miles Johnson-Treherne; the last of whom can be founded listed on other documents as Peter Treherne or Peter Johnson-Treherne.

The same three crop up running the Snowdon Mountain Tramroad and Hotels Company Ltd (where Gary Johnson now becomes Gary Andrew Johnson). You’ll remember that this is the name of the company for which the luckless William Pickles and his nephew worked back in 1896. (Though of course they were lucky compared to poor Ellis Griffith Roberts.) So what does this company do?

In a word, nothing, for it became dormant almost from the date of its Incorporation on 22 May 2013. And as we read in the Annual Report and Accounts dated 31 January 2014, “The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Heritage Great Britain plc which is registered in England and Wales. The ultimate parent company, Cherberry Ltd, is registered in Jersey . . . “. 

Something that puzzled me was, given the ages of the three I’ve named, and their relatively late entrances, who was running the show before they got involved? Part of the answer came from the former directors of the Snowdon Mountain Railway Ltd, for among them I found the information below.

Kevin Ronald Leech (born August 1943) is probably the father of current director Allan James Stuart Leech (born October 1972). Leech Senior’s Jersey address is the same address given for Cherberry Ltd.

UPDATE 04.07.2017: I am indebted to Simon Hillman for providing (in a comment below) more information on Kevin Leech. I suggest you read this Telegraph article from October 2002 and this Guardian piece from January 2014. This is the man who might still own the Snowdon Mountain Railway through a network of offshore companies, and the man to whom the Snowdonia National Park has leased Hafod Eryri. Cause for concern.

RESPECT HAS TO BE EARNED

The fundamental problem exposed here is one we find in other parts of Wales, and indeed, around the world. To wit: A beautiful area attracts tourists, the more tourists that come, the more degraded and less beautiful that area becomes. This combination of tourism and degradation is unavoidable.

Among those refusing to concede this universal truth we may find some denying that there is a limit to how many tourists an area can accommodate, especially when they don’t live in the area and run their businesses through offshore companies.

If Ms Pye and her Snowdon Partnership are serious about showing respect for Yr Wyddfa then the answer is simple: rather than searching for the alchemist’s stone of attracting a limitless number of tourists and expecting them to cause no harm, accept that the problem is too many tourists and start limiting the numbers.

By all means encourage responsible walkers to ascend the mountain, but for God’s sake don’t make it easy for every lazy bastard to get there on a bloody railway – and then encourage them to fill their fat faces in the cafe at the top!

So make a start by demolishing the pissoir at the peak, after all, this is owned by the Snowdonia National Park Authority and was paid for from the Welsh public purse. With the visitor centre gone there’ll be less incentive for the obese and the idle to get the train to the summit.

If money was found for the carbuncle now desecrating the skyline then money can be found to buy out the Snowdon Mountain Railway, by compulsory purchase if necessary. Once bought, the rolling stock can be flogged off and the tracks torn up to restore Yr Wyddfa to something approaching its natural state.

Anything less is simply tinkering with the problem; so if that’s what’s happening then don’t build people’s hopes up by using words like ‘respect’. Use the word that I fear already describes the Snowdon Partnership and its draft plan – fudge.

♦ end ♦