Dawnus 3

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

This was intended to be a sort of bits and pieces post in which I looked at various topics. Among them the sale of Coleg Harlech and an update on the (ex-)student councillors that used to plague Swansea council, a sort of ‘Where are they now?’

For your information, and titillation, one former Labour councillor ended up working for Tory Home Secretary Javid; another went home to California before returning to promote herself as a ‘political consultant’; a third works as a ‘Director of Sponsor Relations’ for a US company; a fourth worked for that same company before becoming a ‘globetrotter’; while a fifth – the only Tory – got banged up for child pornography.

But all that can wait because cogs have been turning in the old Jac noggin as I tried to make sense of who’s who and what’s what on either side of that great turbulence that cleaves Jack from Turk.

Not a great deal of new information has come to light but I have been pointed in certain directions and the bigger picture is now less opaque as connections are made and things fall into place.

Though I beg you to be patient, because this is one of the most complicated investigations I’ve ever done.

DAWNUS

There are a few things to add on Dawnus itself, and the myriad companies that sheltered ‘neath that umbrella. To help you get up to speed I advise you to read Dawnus and Dawnus 2.

The asset stripping and dismemberment of Dawnus may or may not have begun with the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone 2014/15 but it certainly ties in with the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, who now seems to run what’s left of Dawnus.

Though having said that, two new companies have emerged from the ashes. The first, on 22 March, was Dawnus International Group Ltd, which has already changed its name to DIG International Group Ltd. This new entity contains as directors a number of names that have appeared before in connection with the Dawnus group.

Then on 28 March the world saw the birth of Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, based in sunny Porthcawl and with Andrew Kenneth Keay as sole director. Keay has used the Dawnus name previously for his one-man-band companies, though where he fits in the puzzle remains a mystery.

Another unplaced piece of the puzzle is Legsun Ltd, a company that is heavily in debt and whose directors are, since 14 February 2014, Timothy Alun Lowe, who has served as director with many Dawnus companies and also, since 12 March 2018, Dawnus head honcho Nicholas Charles Down.

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The early documents for Legsun are not available with Companies House without payment but we know that the company was started in March 1973, and though it now uses a Cardiff address it was previously using an address in the Pontypool area. I am in no doubt that Legsun is linked with the former Royal Ordnance Factory at Glascoed. Today this site is known as BAE Systems Munitions Glascoed.

Legsun is not a commercial company in the sense that you or I understand that term, because no genuine company could sustain losses on the scale of Legsun’s without going bust. How Legsun links with the collapse of Dawnus I’m not entirely sure. But it does, if only because Legsun’s only directors are also directors of Dawnus companies, and previous Legsun directors also had Dawnus links.

Legsun introduces the first connection with the military-industrial complex.

Late news: the following companies are now officially in receivership: Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd; Churchfield Homes Ltd; Legsun Ltd; Quantum Geotechnical Ltd; Dawnus Group Ltd; Dawnus Southern Ltd; Dawnus Ltd; Dawnus Developments Ltd; Ashridge Construction Ltd.

There are charges outstanding against all these companies with the sole exception of Legsun which, despite having massive debts, was somehow able to satisfy three charges on March 14.

At the time of writing the administration documents aren’t available with Companies House. There’s also the possibility that other companies in the Dawnus stable may yet follow those listed above into receivership.

By my calculations the companies left standing are: Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd and Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, the Keay companies. Then there’s Dawnus Consulting Ltd, with a Manchester address; Dawnus International Ltd; Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd; DIG International Group Ltd; Dawnus Holdings Ltd; Construction Recyclate Management Ltd.

CROSSING OVER AND TOOLING UP

Another connection with the military-industrial complex – and one I neglected to mention in the two previous pieces – is Thales, the French ordnance manufacturer. Thales has a presence at Stradey Park (Business Centre), Llangennech, owned now by Robert Nigel Lovering.

To understand the background I refer you again to a 2014 Rebecca article by Paddy French.

What Paddy French told us was that the redundant Ministry of Defence site at Llangennech was bought in early 2009 by Carmarthenshire County Council (Prop. M. V. James) and immediately sold on to R & A Properties, an unregistered company.

According to this WalesOnline report from early May 2009 the manner of the deal was justified by ‘the council’ (the aforementioned M .V. James) because the MoD would otherwise have auctioned the site.

The title document for Stradey Park is interesting. Lovering is named as the owner but the money to buy the site seems to have come from three funders: Lloyds Bank plc, the Secretary of State for Defence, and Carmarthenshire County Council.

The title is dated 1 April 2009. It also refers to land detached in 2015 from the title and directs us to the title plan for Stradey Park . . . which is not available on the Land Registry website.

The ‘sale’ was handled by Hugh James Solicitors of Cardiff, official solicitors for the ‘Welsh Government’.

There appear to be further loans, including one from Thales UK Limited.

There are also leases; one is for ten years from 1 April 2009 and covered by title number CYM465605, which again, is unavailable with the Land Registry, perhaps because that lease has now expired. Another, for 25 years from 27.03.2012, is with SSE Micro Renewables (Commercial) Ltd for the lease of air space.

But none of this can be checked because everything is in the name of the individual Robert Nigel Lovering. Who must be well thought of in certain quarters.

There was understandable disquiet over the deal. One councillor was quoted, “No information was given about the firm that will be creating the jobs beyond the fact that it was involved in defence procurement. Neither were we told who was behind R & A Properties, except that they were known to some of the officers.”

Just over a week later WalesOnline reported the involvement of then Welsh Rugby Union chairman David Pickering. Pickering was promising the creation of 100 jobs before Christmas by a “blue chip” company understood to be involved in the “defence procurement industry”.

Pickering was also reported as saying, “I know some people will find it strange that R&A is not a limited committee (sic), but we’ve been advised to do it this way by our professional advisers”.

It may not have been a limited company but the section below from the year ended 31 March 2016 accounts makes reference to R&A Properties LLP (Limited Liability Partnership); but I can find no such company registered with Companies House. Was it not registered, or registered in some other jurisdiction?

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One company I did unearth was R & A Secure Services Ltd, described on the Companies House website as a ‘non-trading company’ with Lovering as sole director. This was launched in September 2012, so chronologically it fits, but how?

The capture below is from the Company Check website. Jacobs can be disregarded, he’s a Company Formation Agent, but who or what is Francis Trust? And where’s Pickering?

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One company that Lovering has been involved with for some time is Lancehawk Ltd, of which he became a director in July 1999. And as this report from an Industrial Tribunal tells us, he was in fact managing director.

The report, about a bit of rumpy pumpy (was he shagging two of his staff!), also tells us that Lancehawk was trading as European Telecom Solutions. So I don’t understand why Lancehawk is still in business and a new company called European Telecom Solutions Ltd was formed 15 November 2017.

By November 2009 the BBC was telling us that Thales UK was to equip or modify Warthog all-terrain armoured vehicles at Llangennech for use in Afghanistan. This is the “blue chip” company we were told about, the justification presumably for the curious purchase arrangements.

So it looks as if Lovering (plus Pickering and Preece?) bought the site specifically to accommodate Thales? (Whatever the answer, R & A Properties now seems to have finally done the decent thing and gone legit, forming R and A Properties Cardiff Ltd last month. Why ‘Cardiff’?)

Some would have us believe that Thales has moved out of Stradey Park, but I can find no report of such a departure, certainly not in the Welsh media. Though I did turn this up in the Herald. It suggests that Thales closed its Llangennech operation – or part of it – in late 2012 or early 2013.

Which might link with reports in February 2012 that Cassidian was moving to Llangennech. Cassidian merged with Airbus Military and Astrium in January 2014 to form Airbus Defence and Space, now a division of Airbus.

This would give us a third connection with the military-industrial complex. Though I can find no evidence of the Cassidian move ever materialising.

Though from a distance there is little documentary or other evidence of either Thales or Airbus having been in Llangennech. Come to that, the whole site might as well be a secret, what with it being owned by an unregistered company, or an individual, there being no website, and Google turning up no recent references to either company being at Llangennech.

Though Google Earth came up trumps with what might be a recent shot, suggesting that Thales is still in situ.

Courtesy of Google Earth, click to enlarge

Correction: The Google Earth image I’ve used there is from 2011. I am informed that Thales has long since slung its hook. Why was it not reported in the Welsh media?

UPDATE 23:25: The British Army withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014, which would clearly have reduced the demand for the Warthog All-Terrain vehicles assembled by Thales at Llangennech, and this might explain the closure.

It also suggests that despite all the bullshit and backslapping that attended Thales’ arrival in Llangennech it must have been known that the French visitor was never going to stay and put down roots.

However, this forum posting I stumbled upon suggests that other uses were found for Warthogs: “Jane’s military guide has reported that British Warthog vehicles will be transformed to serve as transporter vehicles for Thales Watchkeeper UAV”. ‘UAV’ being unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone. Which would make perfect sense.

Watchkeeper drones fly out of the base at Aberporth and they are none too reliable, five having crashed in recent years, one of them uncomfortably close to a school.

I’m convinced that drones out of Aberporth, or possibly Llanbedr, use darkness and cloud cover to fly up the Dysynni Valley along part of the ‘Mach Loop’. The constant noise can last half an hour or more. And recently I’ve had reports of the same issue around Cydweli, Glanyfferi and out over the sea.

Which means that Thales’ presence is still here, with Watchkeeper drones being transported on Warthog vehicles assembled at Llangennech. Overflying our country . . . and often crashing!

HYDRO INDUSTRIES LTD

On 2 January 2013 Lovering and Preece became directors of Hydro Industries Ltd (originally Watertec Solutions Ltd and then Aggrelek Ltd), with Pickering joining them in November.

Watertec was Incorporated 2 September 2010 on the east side of Swansea, at the Ashmount Business Park . . . within spitting distance of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (at the time known as Dawnus Construction Ltd).

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Is this propinquity a coincidence? I think not.

The address for Aggrelek Ltd changed to Stradey Park 13 July 2011, and it became Hydro Industries in December of that year. Hydro Industries becomes another Legsun, in that it seems to operate in a parallel financial universe, being heavily in debt but still able to satisfy charges and generally carrying on as if nothing is amiss.

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The founders of Hydro Industries, Philip and Janine Morgan of Gorseinon, presumably had some knowledge of the water industry, to judge by other companies with which they’ve been involved, and certain directors of these companies, such as Chris Stretton.

But I don’t know what knowledge of desalination processes, or water purification and disposal in the third world is possessed by Lovering, Pickering and Preece. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

For almost immediately Lovering, Preece and Pickering had their feet under the Hydro Industries boardroom table things started happening for them on a transatlantic level with First Minister Carwyn Jones jetting across the Pond to put in a word.

As this ITV report from February 2013 tells us. Here’s how the BBC covered it. This, remember, is just one month after the trio became directors. Carwyn Jones was over again in February 2014.

Now clearly, if Lovering, Preece and Pickering didn’t join Hydro Industries until January 2013 then they didn’t have time to have arranged the contract with T&T Salvage that was announced by Carwyn Jones in February. In fact, Carwyn Jones seems to have taken Hydro Industries Ltd under his wing. How many other small companies received such treatment?

Another interesting – and more recent – reference to Hydro Industries I turned up is this one from March 2018 which sees Hydro Industries at No 3 in a list of “The 7 firms at the heart of Wales’ thriving tech and digital sector”.

Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

You’ll see that at No 6 in the list is Airbus. Airbus is also mentioned along with Hydro Industries in the blurb for Carwyn Jones’s 2014 visit to the States. And I’ve seen the connection made elsewhere.

As with Thales locating to Llangennech the T&T contract was arranged by someone else, and Lovering and Preece were put into Hydro Industries to front the deal because they were ‘trusted’ . . . by someone. ‘Someone’ who could also pull Carwyn Jones’s strings.

SWEET CHARITY?

Though as I told you in the previous post, the three amigos have now been joined (displaced?) by some very glitzy company on the board and among the shareholders of Hydro Industries.

Almost immediately Pickering had joined Lovering and Preece on the Hydro board we saw investment from Diane Briere de L’Isle, David Stevens and Heather Stevens.

As I explained in an earlier piece, Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle is the French wife of Henry Englehardt the American founder of Admiral Insurance. So who are David and Heather Stevens?

They, it turns out, are behind the Waterloo Foundation, a name that some may think unfortunate or insensitive given the involvement of Mme. Englehardt. The Waterloo Foundation was begun in 2007 with a donation of Admiral Group plc shares to the (then) value of £99m.

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And it all makes sense, for “clean water” is listed among the charity’s ambitions under ‘World Development‘. Which is why I was surprised not to find Hydro Industries listed under ‘Investments‘ and ‘Wales’ because the Foundation has definitely invested in Hydro.

And after the investment came a series of convoluted share reclassifications and allocations. Diane Marguerite Marie Briere De L’isle is named on the Companies House website as the person ‘with significant control’ from 21 August 2017. Preece, Lovering and Pickering cease to have significant control on the same day.

It’s not inconceivable, given Hydro’s links with Thales, that Mme. Englehardt joined Hydro in order to represent France’s interests.

Certainly Mme. Englehardt became a director of Hydro and appointed others to eventually outnumber the three musketeers. Among these newcomers was Guto Harri, Welsh language journalist and former PR guru for Boris Johnson.

The boys are still there, but maybe just for window dressing.

Predictably, perhaps, the Waterloo Foundation is a Patron of The Prince’s Trust. And why not, for The Prince’s Trust is based at Stradey Park. And wouldn’t you know it, the Chief Operating Officer for Hydro is Brigadier Rick Libbey . . . who used to run the The Prince’s Trust in Wales!

The links with the British establishment just keep coming, and of course Libbey provides another to the military-industrial complex, such as we find throughout this saga.

Which is easily explained. Major powers exert influence through ‘soft power’, which can mean aid to third world countries that just happen to have valuable natural resources or are of strategic importance.

What could be more caring and philanthropic than providing clean drinking water?

SUMMARY 

Up until the autumn of 2018 everything seemed to be hunky-dory with Dawnus, Hydro Industries, Swansea University, Thales, Legsun, etc, and there were exciting plans in the pipeline.

Here we are, six months later, and it’s all fallen apart. Perhaps some of those involved were strung along, and once they’d outlived their usefulness they became dispensable.

So what are we left with? Well, there’s Hydro, which I believe to be a ‘front’ company for some agency of the UK state; and then there’s the remains of Dawnus, run by someone who is almost certainly co-operating with the same shadowy elements.

If I’m right, then hundreds of Welsh workers, sub-contractors and suppliers were shafted by the UK Government, which either engineered the collapse of Dawnus or else accepted it as collateral damage. But we’re Welsh, we’re used to being shafted and exploited.

What is unforgivable is that this damage was inflicted on Wales with the support of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ and, especially, that of Carwyn Jones.

♦ end ♦

 

Dawnus 2

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

Following on from the previous article, information received justifies a fresh post rather than just an update to the original ‘Dawnus’.

Some of this fresh information gives further support to the theory that much of Dawnus’s tangible assets, in the form of heavy machinery worth millions of pounds, was shipped out to Sierra Leone before Christmas. But it goes much further than that.

Before pushing on let me say that I got something wrong in the previous post (forgiveable, given how many companies and charges are involved). I interpreted this (also below) to be a fresh charge against Dawnus Sierra Leone when in fact it was issued because someone didn’t spell Sierra Leone correctly in the original document!

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MISCELLANEOUS UPDATES

I’m beginning to realise how busy Dawnus was in different parts of the country. For example, the council on Ynys Môn seems to have relied on Dawnus to a great extent, even for services such as road gritting that we would normally expect to undertaken by the council itself.

So embedded was Dawnus into the council’s structure that last year, when it had already become obvious that Dawnus was in trouble, the council was paying for Dawnus’s supplies as the company’s own accounts were blocked. Despite that, Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn handed Dawnus a two million pound contract to alleviate flooding in Beaumaris. A job that was left unfinished when Dawnus finally collapsed.

Another contract in the north was with Natural Resources Wales at the Gwydir Forest, where Dawnus was strengthening four reservoirs. And NRW had other contracts with Dawnus. One project I passed regularly was the tree-felling above the A487 a few miles north of Machynlleth.

The amazing thing perhaps about this whole business is that anyone dealing with Dawnus knew long before the event that the company was in serious financial trouble, so why was Dawnus allowed to limp on?

TRYING TO FOLLOW THE MONEY

This Swansea company that grew from nothing into an international operator with a £200 million annual turnover started to go downhill in 2014/15 after the Ebola outbreak affected its operations in Sierra Leone. At least, that’s the generally accepted theory.

Soon after this Ebola-inspired downturn we see the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, whose Linkedin profile tells us that, “After 30 plus years of working in overseas locations , mainly the Middle East and Canada I am finally returning to work in the UK. Dawnus Construction wish to grow their operations in London and the South East and this represents a new challenge for me.”

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He says he joined Dawnus Construction Ltd as director for London and the South East, and his Linkedin profile says this was in October 2015, but Companies House insists Down wasn’t a director of any Dawnus company until 15 April 2016. That was when he joined Dawnus Southern Ltd, Ashbridge Construction Ltd and Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (which had been Dawnus Construction Ltd until 22 October 2013).

Later that year, on 11 November, he became a partner in Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP (resigning 1 October 2018), before joining Dawnus Group Ltd as a director on 15 February 2017.

I don’t know what to make of this discrepancy over his initial involvement because I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t know who they’re working for, or when they started. Though I suppose we have to accept the rest of his Linkedin entry, which tells us he had previously worked for Laing O’Rourke and Carillion.

Linkedin also tells us Down became Dawnus group managing director in January 2018. Before becoming a director of all the other companies in the group 10/12 March 2018. By which time the skids were well and truly greased.

All of which makes Down joining Dawnus a strange career move, unless he was assured that there was a future at Dawnus, maybe a future guaranteed by players keeping a low profile.

Soon after Down took control a Chattel Mortgage was secured from HSBC Bank plc, on 16 March 2018. This was added to seven other charges taken out between August 2017 and February 2018, either with Lloyds Bank or HSBC. These earlier loans were all against land and property owned by the company.

On 28 March two charges were delivered by ‘Welsh Ministers’ against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (DCH). But only one of them appears to have been delivered against other Dawnus companies in the group.

The one specific to DCH being charge number 042305790020, and if we scroll down to page 10, we start a long list of construction site material, much of it heavy and expensive machinery. By the time we get to page 17 we can see that much of this machinery is in Liberia, with some in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Extract from HSBC Chattel Mortgage on Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd, click to enlarge

This looks to be exactly the same equipment listed in the HSBC Chattel Mortgage. Which suggests that Dawnus took out a mortgage with HSBC and then, less than two weeks later, the ‘Welsh Ministers’ seemed to ‘cover’ the HSBC loan (or part of it).

This raises a number of issues. To begin with, it might disprove the theory that a great deal of machinery came home from Sierra Leone when Ebola struck in 2014/15. Did it move down the road to Liberia, or was there always equipment in Liberia?

What we know is that more equipment went out from Swansea to west Africa before Christmas. I have now seen photographs and other evidence for these shipments.

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And we are talking big money here. Even second-hand machines can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. While a source tells me there’s a thriving export market in second-hand equipment to the land of Uncle Sam, due to the fact that all new machinery sold there must be made in the USA.

The ‘Welsh Government’ is said to have handed over £3.5m, of which two million has been repaid. This was done in early July and the ‘Description of Assets’ would appear to be machines at the Swansea depot, now cleared for export.

But was the ‘Welsh Government’ actually repaid some of the money it was owed, or was it a charade to justify releasing those machines? Perhaps under instructions from a higher authority? Something we’ll consider in a moment.

A FLOCK OF PHOENIX!

In the previous post I told you that since the ‘collapse’ of Dawnus a new company had been formed, called Dawnus International Group Ltd, formed 22 March. Well, it’s already shed the Dawnus name to become DIG International Group Ltd.

And now there’s another new company, Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, Incorporated 28 March. The sole director is Andrew Kenneth Keay of Cardiff.

You may recall that we met Keay in the previous post. He was sole director of Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd from its Incorporation 20 February 2013 until its dissolution 9 June 2015. Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd was resurrected 25 August 2015 with Keay again as sole director.

Keay has also been in business using his own name with Keay Cost Value Engineering Ltd, 9 August 2004 until 28 July 2015.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the original Dawnus Commercial Management folded in June 2015, Keay Cost Value Engineering folded in July, and then Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd was re-born in August.

But that still doesn’t tell us who Keay is, how he fits into the Dawnus picture, and why he uses the name.

Another company I mentioned earlier was Legsun Ltd, where we find Nick Down as director and Timothy Alun Lowe serving as both director and secretary. While not a new company, Legsun had life breathed into a couple of weeks ago when it was able to satisfy three charges with the National Westminster Bank plc.

Legsun Ltd accounts for y/e 31.12.2017, click to enlarge

Quite an achievement for a company that returned a loss of £4,147,000 on turnover of £9,298,000 for year ending 31.12.2017, compared with £1,184,000 and £17,496,000 respectively for the previous year. So how was Legsun able to do it?

These charges were satisfied on the very day it became publicly known that Dawnus had collapsed.

All of which makes it quite obvious that ‘Dawnus’ may have collapsed but certain parts of the group are being hived off to carry on. They may eventually drop the Dawnus name, and will probably be operating overseas.

FLYING THE FLAG?

I am now convinced that the UK government was instrumental in the Dawnus disaster. I believe that Dawnus was propped up – with the help of the ‘Welsh Government’ – for as long as was necessary to prepare things in Africa, then the prop was removed.

Which is a hell of a thing to say, but the evidence is out there. Or rather, as I hope to prove, it’s here, and you’re going to read it.

As I’ve said, everybody knew Dawnus was up Shit Creek, and it’s been known for well over a year, Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn paying Dawnus’ bills is just one example of this. But Dawnus couldn’t be allowed to collapse until things were ready.

The rot had set in some time before that, maybe it was down to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Maybe not. Whatever the truth is, the problems confronting Dawnus, and the company’s resultant vulnerability, probably explain the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down.

Down tells us that he had worked in senior positions overseas for most of his working life, much of it in a sensitive region like the Middle East. He would therefore have had regular contact with the Foreign Office, and perhaps other agencies.

This explains his being sent to Dawnus. The exact manner of his appointment I’m still unsure about, but that doesn’t really matter, what’s important is his background and the timing of his arrival.

For Dawnus was to become a company run at arms-length by the UK government to serve the UK’s strategic interests in another sensitive region, Africa. For while there had been a tendency to ignore sub-Saharan Africa in the post-colonial period recent Chinese investment in the continent had changed all that.

Where’s the evidence?

OK, let’s go back to August last year, when the prime minister Theresa May was in South Africa, and we heard of a ‘Swansea consortium’, involving Dawnus, Swansea University, and Hydro Industries Ltd of Llangennech. (The Uni and Hydro Industries had in fact shacked up in January.)

Image courtesy of Getty Images, click to enlarge

So who or what is Hydro Industries? Well, it seems to have been a small company, bumping along, under the directorship of David Pickering and a couple of others. That is Dai Pickering formerly of the Welsh Rugby Union, arch-Brit and obsequious royalist.

Pickering, together with Wayne Preece and Robert Lovering, took over the company in January 2013 from its founders. After more than five years of glorious obscurity they were joined on the board in June 2018 by Guto Harri, former BBC journalist and later ‘communications director’ for Boris Johnson.

Why would Tory insider Harri join a small company in Carmarthenshire? What’s more, one in a very poor financial state.

For the most recent accounts for Hydro Industries, up to 31 March 2017, make for grim reading. Yet despite being in such a parlous state the three director still paid themselves £290,489, and also made a political donation of £20,000! (Socialist Workers Party, probably.)

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Harri was soon followed by other big hitters, check them out for yourself. If you’re wondering who Diane Marguerite Marie Briere De L’isle is I can tell you that she’s the French wife of Henry Englehardt, American founder of Admiral Insurance.

So one minute we have a little company in Carmarthenshire up to its neck in debt, and the next minute it’s attracting rich and influential people, who now control and own the company, with Dai and his mates kept on for appearance’ sake . . . though I’m sure they’re getting well paid for it.

And all this happens at the same time as troubled Dawnus is taken over, hollowed out and asset stripped, with the expensive equipment shipped off to Africa, and once that’s all done Dawnus is allowed to collapse. And we know these events are linked because the prime minister is in RSA pushing a ‘Swansea Consortium’.

Dawnus was kept alive and then put down, throwing Welsh people out of work, leaving Welsh sub-contractors and Welsh suppliers unpaid. Leaving contracts across Wales unfinished, causing misery and disruption to many, many people.

And the ‘Welsh Government’ collaborated enthusiastically in this conspiracy to inflict misery on Welsh people. ‘Welsh’ Labour became a willing party to England’s protection of her post-colonial interests in Africa by doing down, yet again, her first and oldest colony.

This about sums up the Labour Party . . . and devolution . . . and Wales’ relationship with England. When are we going to learn?

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 09:00: Something in the back of my mind told me, ‘Check on Dai Pickering – haven’t you read something somewhere?’ So I did. And I had. Pickering ‘bought’ the Llangennech site where we find Hydro Industries.

Initially Carmarthenshire County Council bought the site from the MoD and sold it on in a ‘no other bidders’ deal to Pickering. Or so it was assumed, but the Land Registry makes clear that the site is actually owned by his partner Robert Lovering.

But Pickering was the perfect door-opener – Oh, Dai Pickering, played for Wales. Tidy boy, mun – what do he wunt?’ And he had debts. But his record as a rugby player and then as a WRU official meant he was perfect for whoever wanted to impress the locals and make use of the Llangennech site.

Among those that took up residence on the Llangennech site was the Prince’s Trust, and wouldn’t you know it – Brigadier Rick Libbey, now Chief Operating Officer of Hydro Industries, “spent four years as the Director of The Prince’s Trust Cymru and Director for South West England”.

I suggest you read Cneifiwr’s article in which he refers to a piece by Paddy French of Rebecca Television. Also worth a read is this Carmarthenshire Planning item from October 2017. These explain the background to the Llangennech deal. And they make clear that certain people have friends in very high places.

Given the involvement of Mark James and Swansea University I do hope the UK government isn’t planning to further rip off the Swansea City deal to serve its interests in Africa.

Drugaid – Another Councillor Lost? – Sophie Howe – Captain Cardiff – Profound Thoughts While Lying Abed Flicking Bogies

HOOKED ON FUNDING

Drugs is big business, as this recent case reminded us, and drugs generates lots of money for people other than drug dealers. Even the UK government has acknowledged that drug dealers buy cars, houses, boats, bling, foreign holidays, etc., etc. On top of that, the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ keeps cops, lawyers and prisons in business. And as if that wasn’t enough, we then have all those who’ve found jobs ‘helping’ drug addicts.

There must now be thousands of agencies, large and small, operating locally, at Wales level, UK level, which often overlap and duplicate each other’s work and, in total, receive billions of pounds in funding from various sources. The only losers in this situation are of course the drug addicts – but ‘it’s their own fault anyway’. A strange attitude to take towards those who keep this ship afloat.

Of course, the only other blot on this landscape of economic win-win is that those involved in manufacturing, importing and distributing drugs tend to keep their assets offshore, or under granny’s mattress, and therefore pay no tax. But since when have such practices ever troubled UK politicians, of any party?

If you wanted to be utterly cynical, you could argue that there are now so many people dependent on the drugs trade that if the ‘War on Drugs’ was, by some fluke, won, then it might have a seriously detrimental effect on the UK economy.

Drugaid

I am indebted to Brychan for reminding us that among the big players in Wales in the ‘helping drug addicts’ racket is The South Wales Association For Prevention Of Addiction Ltd (Charity No 265008), more usually known as Drugaid. Its four trustees are Professor Neil Frude, Miss Sylvia Diana Scarf, Mr William George David Smith and Mrs Linda Hodgson. As well Prof Frudeas being trustees of the charity these four are also the only directors of the cash-rich Newport-based company of the same name (No 01073381).

Professor Frude appears to be a somewhat unorthodox psychologist and one-time stand-up comedian, who runs the Happiness Consultancy in Berkshire. He is also an external professor at the University of South Wales and has some connection with Cardiff University. Though his main income is said to be from his work for BUPA, which no doubt contributes greatly to Frude’s personal happiness.

Miss Sylvia Diana Scarf is a retired lady of 79, who may live in Newport, or she may live in Oxford. I’m told that she recently got an OBE for her work with the Girl Guides. (When I tried to ‘work’ with Girl Guides during my Sea Scouts days all I ever got was ‘Get lost, you dirty sod’!) Miss Scarf is also said to be ‘big’ in the Anglican Church. When I read that it made me think of John Major’s old ladies cycling to Evensong after a skinfull of warm beer. Ah!

William George David Smith seems to be a chartered accountant in Cardiff and Linda Hodgson may, or may not, live in Porth, in the Rhondda. The contact and director for Drugaid is a Caroline Phipps from God knows where but currently domiciled in Caerffili. All in all, a typical ‘Welsh’ Third Sector outfit, made up of willing locals and those who can sniff out easy money from 500 miles away.

Drugaid first saw the light of day in Cardiff, in 1972, brought into this cruel world by the Reverend Peter Keward, and christened South Wales Action to Prevent Addiction (SWAPA). Since when it seems to have moved to Newport and concentrated its activities in the central and eastern Valleys, even into prosperous Monmouthshire. And despite what the outdated ‘About Us’ page says, Drugaid is also spreading west, yea unto Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. In fact, the organisation now covers the whole of the south, from the border to the Irish Sea . . . apart from Cardiff and Swansea Bay, perhaps having been warned off the two main cities.

In figures submitted to the Charity Commission Drugaid had income for the year ended March 30, 2014 of £2,727,668 and expenditure of £2,789,439. It had 78 employees and 30 volunteers, so we are dealing here with a sizeable operation, and it’s still growing, currently advertising to fill 8 vacancies. (Here in screen capture.)

What does Drugaid actually do?

This is the tricky bit. Drugaid seems to work with ‘partner’ bodies, these include GPs, health services, various other Third Sector bodies, and the ‘National’ Probation Service (for Englandandwales). The latest available accounts show that these ‘partners’ (excluding local health boards and councils) put £1.74m into the Drugaid pot y/e 31.03.2014, with a further £606,397 coming from our wonderful ‘Welsh’ Government. So where does it go?

Drugaid income

Well, £1.83m went on wages and salaries, then there was ‘Hire of equipment and services’ (£211,870), ‘Motor and mileage costs’ (£88,151), ‘Light and heat’ (£80,287), ‘Telephone’ (£42,249), ‘Other operating leases’ (£162,854), ‘Sundries’ (£160,807), ‘Depreciation’ (£91,902), etc., etc. Apart from ‘Needles’ (£31,949), it’s difficult to identify any direct spending on those the charity is supposed to be helping, but let’s remember, this is a major employer, pushing towards 100 employees. (The two columns show y/e 31.03.2014 on the left, 2013 on the right.)

Drugaid spending

If one wished to be unkind it would easy to dismiss Drugaid as yet another charity where almost all the funding goes on salaries and administrative costs. A grotesquely bloated organisation, currently expanding beyond its ability to cope with this expansion and, as a result, not achieving a lot. Hardly surprising perhaps for a charity overseen by a stand-up comic.

I say that because in searching the Drugaid website I could find nothing boasting of ‘outcomes’, that word so beloved of Third Sector organisations, used in describing successes, numbers of ‘clients’ helped. Then my hopes soared as I saw ‘Drugaid Annual Review‘ . . . but the last one was posted in 2011! How is anyone – funders, for example – supposed to know whether Drugaid is actually doing any good? Or is Drugaid just part of some Third Sector merry-go-round where ‘cases’ get moved on from one agency to another with each agency taking its cut?

Drugaid gobbledegook

Another indicator that all may not be well is something else I found on the website, an invitation to tender, worded thus: “Drugaid is currently reviewing the provision of Supervision to our employees.  Following feedback from staff, a review of our Supervision Policy and research into best practice in Supervision, Drugaid has decided to redefine the supervision that is offered to all staff to provide a more inclusive, productive and efficient means of providing this vital support to all who work for us.”

Oh sorry, the closing date for that tender was 20th of February 2013!!! This is getting worrying. If the website is anything to go by, Drugaid is in one hell of a mess – but remember, this is an organisation that’s still expanding! Here’s a screen capture of the 2013 invitation to tender, because I guarantee it won’t be on the website much longer.

What else do we know?

I’ve already mentioned that in addition to the charity there is also a private company, limited by guarantee, with the same directors as are trustees of the charity. The company has a net worth of £1.1m, and £1.2m in cash.

Having also mentioned the situations currently vacant, it may be worthwhile focusing on one of these, the job in Merthyr catering for veterans. This caught Brychan’s eye due to a difference in legislation between Wales and England. Here in Wales, the Homeless Persons (Priority Need) (Wales) Order 2001 specifies that anyone who finds himself / herself homeless after leaving the armed forces is categorised as a priority for social housing. The Homelessness Act 2002, which applies to England only, allows local authorities there to reject applicants on the grounds of ‘no local connection’.

Given what we already know about the operations of the Third Sector and social housing bodies, and how lax legislation allows – even encourages – the importation of ‘clients’ from England, it demands no great leap of the imagination to envision Drugaid bringing in English ex-service personnel with drugs problems. Does this go some way to account for the recent expansion, both in personnel numbers and geographical reach?

Whatever Drugaid is doing, or supposed to be doing, it doesn’t seem to do it well. Nowhere does it give figures for those it has helped, as a result there seems to be no way whatsoever of gauging its success.  The percentage of its income spent on salaries and administrative charges is ludicrous, and should be unacceptable to its funders. The website, Drugaid’s window to the world, is an absolute shambles, full of gibberish and out-of-date pages. There has been no Yearly Review posted since that for 2011. How the hell can an organisation in such a state be allowed, even encouraged, to expand?

Finally, and being guided by the latest accounts, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Drugaid is no more than a glorified needle exchange. As such, it does not deserve the excessive funding it receives. It is surely time for partners and funders to review their support for Drugaid.

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NEIL WOOLLARD, ANOTHER UPLANDS COUNCILLOR GONE MISSING?

Following on the recent news of the departure from Swansea of Uplands councillor John Charles ‘John Boy’ Bayliss, which itself followed on the departure last year of his friend Pearleen Sangha, I now hear that another Labour councillor from that ward may have disappeared.Phil Tanner

The name I’m hearing is Neil Woollard, an interesting character, Woollard, for in addition to his day job, and his council work, Neil and some friends are the Rag Foundation, a popular folk ensemble. The group’s repertoire draws heavily on the songs of Gower folk singer Phil Tanner (1862 – 1950), a man whose life covered the ending of south Gower’s ‘island’ status, those centuries when it had more in common with Somerset than with north Gower. I’ve even read somewhere that Woollard is Tanner’s grandson, but to my knowledge Tanner had no children, certainly none are recorded.

What I’m hearing is that Woollard is employed by ‘a company involved with the Swansea tidal lagoon’, yet for some reason this means that he now lives in the Cardiff area. Though this might not be as odd as it sounds, for the company behind the lagoon is based in Gloucester, so maybe he’s chosen to live somewhere roughly half way between Swansea and Gloucester. But I’m only guessing. My source is however adamant that Woollard now lives somewhere in the Cardiff area.

While Woollard’s attendance record at council meetings has not taken the dramatic turn for the worse we saw with Bayliss (and why should it, for Bayliss is further away, in Bristol), there has still been a marked decline. In the period 14.05.2015 – 06.11.2015 his attendance record was 30%, but for the six-month period before that it was 60%.

So the question on Woollard is roughly the same as I asked for Bayliss.Is he still able to properly discharge his duties as councillor for the Uplands ward in Swansea? If not, then there must be a by-election, not another lengthy period – as we saw with Sangha – of the Labour Party staying schtum or, when pressed, maintaining that he’s still, ‘livin’ down by ‘ere, mun’ and that nothing has changed.

Dylan Thomas’s old neighbourhood is now an area of flats and houses of multiple occupation, with a largely transient population of students and drifters, but that is no reason for this transient and footloose lifestyle to extend to the Labour councillors elected to represent the ward.

UPDATE 19:25: I am now informed by one of my alert readers that Woollard is actually working on the proposed Cardiff tidal lagoon, as Head of Local Engagement. The Cardiff Tidal Lagoon bio blurb makes it clear why Woollard was recruited – his contacts within the Labour Party.

Neil Woollard Tidal Lagoon

Strangely, or perhaps not, there is no mention that Woollard is a Swansea councillor. What do the rules say about elected councillors canvassing other councillors, AMs and ministers on behalf of a private company? And how should people back in Swansea feel about one of their councillors working on what could be viewed as a rival project to the Swansea tidal lagoon? Serious questions here for Woollard and Labour.

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SOPHIE HOWE, MORE LABOUR CRONYISM

Earlier this year I wrote about Sophie Howe, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales. Well now her Labour cronies have given her another well-paid job, this time as Future Generations Commissioner, a flim-flam post created, it would appear, for no better reason than to pander to the Green lobby . . . and of course to create another cushy number for one of the insiderest of Labour insiders.

Howe is the daughter of a Labour councillor, who herself became a councillor at 22, she also worked as a Research / Casework Assistant for both Julie Morgan MP and Sue Essex AM, before moving up to do similar work for Julie Morgan’s husband and First Minister Rhodri Morgan, and then his successor in that post Carwyn Jones, before most recently becoming No 2 to former Labour MP Alun Michael in February 2013, after he became the PCC. She was hoping to find a safe seat for the May General Election, but failed, so this post could be viewed as a consolation prize. But I have no doubt that a safe seat will be found for her before 2020, so no one should expect her to see out the ‘seven-year term’ of this job.

Her father, Peter Howe, followed her into the office of Julie Morgan to, eventually, become office manager. A correspondent insists that Howe was a bully, a failing overlooked by his adoring daughter who was otherwise so interested in protecting women from male bullying. Though in this instance the suggested ‘trigger’ might have been jealousy, as the woman being bullied had been selected to stand for Cardiff City Council . . . whereas Peter Howe had been overlooked.

Sophie Howe

Reactions to the appointment varied. Tory leader Andrew R T Davies did his ‘Confused but Mildly Outraged of Cowbridge’ act while others were less charitable. Among them a rising star within Plaid Cymru, councillor Neil McEvoy. On a lighter note, Llanelli Plaid Cymru councillor Ruth Price made a Sharon Stone comment which unfortunately allowed Howe’s defenders to focus on this merry quip rather than on the appointment itself.

Howe’s boss, PCC Alun Michael, went into full feigned outrage mode and was quoted as saying, ‘There is no place for comments of this sort in a civilised society and it is particularly unacceptable in Wales.” What utter bollocks. A civilised society is judged by far, far more important things than an off-the-cuff remark like this. Among them, openness in public appointments. You sanctimonious little prick!

For her pains Ruth Price also took stick from her own party, including a Twitter DM from Llanelli Assembly candidate Helen Mary Jones. In fact, among Plaid’s big-wigs there seemed to be considerably more support for Sophie Howe than opposition. It even seemed to be decided by an individual’s attitudes to a Plaid coalition with Labour next year. Here’s what Plaid Cymru regional AM Jocelyn Davies tweeted almost as soon as the announcement was made public.

Jocelyn Davies tweet

Well, well, there was me thinking that this Sophie Howe appointment was about Labour cronyism corrupting the public and political life of Wales, a reminder that Wales is a one-party state, but no! – it’s a wimmin issue. And everything’s OK cos our Sophie is “a strong woman”. Is Jocelyn Davies standing again next year?

Using this rationale, perhaps it would have been acceptable for a misogynist communist to have sent Hitler a telegram in 1933, saying, ‘Good to see a strong man in charge, Mein Fuhrer‘ . . . before he was dragged off to the concentration camp.

It’s said that Sophie Howe is a lawyer, if so, she’s never used that training for anything other than political purposes. Every job she’s ever done has either been working directly for the Labour Party, or else was gained through her Labour Party connections. Consequently, there is no way of gauging this woman’s real ability because there has never been any politically impartial assessment. She should never have been appointed Future Generations Commissioner.

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SAM WARBURTON, CAPTAIN CARDIFF

The Rugby World Cup circus has departed, the ball has gone from the castle wall, and despite all the hype and expectation, we didn’t win the bloody thing, again. Yes, I know, we had lots of injuries, and biased refs (no, sorry, that was Scotland), but what struck me was that even when it was all over the ‘Welsh’ media couldn’t stop being . . . well, the Cardiff media.

Soon after the Final final whistle two of Wales’ great rugby pundits weighed in in the Wasting Mule to tell us that Sam Warburton, the Wales captain, is the best player we’ve got, and the only one who’d make it into the World XV to take on the tourists from Mars. First, on October 29th, it was former Wales captain Gwyn Jones, and a few days later, on November 1st, it was the turn of rugby correspondent Andy Howell.

Don’t get me wrong, Sam Warburton is a fine player, it’s just that the Cardiff media is besotted with him. Sometimes it’s possible to pick up the Llais y Sais and find him on the front page, a few of the sports pages, and a couple of inside pages. It’s bizarre, because it’s quite obvious that on the field of play – and I suspect in training and elsewhere – the national team is actually led by Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar. Whereas Warburton, on the field, is almost silent, and certainly no captain. So is it a ceremonial role?

This adoration of Sam Warburton does not extend beyond Wales, or perhaps beyond Cardiff. Shown by another report I picked up around the same time, sandwiched between the two I’ve quoted, this being the six-player shortlist for the Rugby World Player of the Year. Who do we see on the shortlist – Sam Warburton, surely? No, the only Welshman there is Alun Wyn Jones. Suggesting that people outside of Wales have a better perspective on Welsh rugby than many inside Wales.Dan Biggar

This corrupted view of various players’ qualities is due to the fact that the Wasting Mule, and to a lesser degree the BBC and ITV, see a great part of their role in being to promote the city of Cardiff, and anyone or anything that can in turn be used to promote Cardiff. This can not be done with Biggar or Jones because both come from Swansea, which is the worst of all possible alternatives. So it has to be wall-to-wall Warburton.

Of course it was the Welsh Rugby Union not the media that made Warburton captain, and there’s little doubt in my mind that Warburton regarding himself as British rather than Welsh makes him the perfect captain for hard-line Unionists like WRU Chairman David Pickering, for whom Wales flickers into life only on the rugby field. A kind of sporting Brigadoon.

Why Wales coach Warren Gatland falls into line with this nonsense is no great mystery. He knows Alun Wyn will sing the anthem lustily enough for both himself and Warburton, and put himself about for the full 80 minutes; he also knows that Biggar will cajole and inspire his team-mates for as long as he’s left on, so if it keeps the WRU suits and the Cardiff media happy why not play along with the charade of a figurehead captain?

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WHERE WOULD THEY BE WITHOUT US?

Lying in bed the other morning, picking my nose and flicking bogies around the yet-dark room, I got to thinking about devolution, as you do when engaged in activity so conducive to deep, analytical thought.

It occurred to me that devolution, coupled with EU poverty funding, higher education, local government and other fields, have created in Wales tens of thousands of jobs in management roles for English administrators and others of moderate or even dubious ability who would struggle to land jobs offering anything like the same salaries and pension benefits in the private sector.

I’m thinking here of civil servants attached to the ‘Welsh’ Government and its various agencies, so many of the officers in our twenty-two local authorities, those innumerable managers in our seven health boards (plus the hospitals, clinics, centres, etc), housing associations beyond counting, third-rate academics in a higher education sector that ceased serving Welsh needs almost half a century ago, third sector organisations and other bodies too numerous to mention that have either come into existence since devolution or else have set up a ‘Welsh’ presence by transferring in staff.

Looking at it this way, devolution has been of more benefit to perhaps 30,000 members of England’s middle class than it has to 2.5 million Welsh. And most of this generosity is paid for out the Welsh public purse. But hey! that’s how colonialism operates.