Weep for Wales 18

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 hadn’t planned on writing another Weep for Wales so soon after the previous one but, you know how it is, things just crop up.

A LETTER IS DELIVERED

What cropped up was a letter I received on Saturday morning, delivered by Royal Mail. A letter giving information on the latest goings-on at Plas Glynllifon.

Here it is. Just click to enlarge.

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Although it’s dated last Tuesday it wasn’t posted until Friday. Was someone in two minds about sending it?

You’ll also see that the letter contains links that are of course useless in a printed letter. This suggests that the original intention might have been to send this letter as an e-mail, or perhaps as an attachment to an e-mail.

What the writer wants me to know is that Paul and Rowena Williams have a new ‘best friend’, ‘partner’ and ‘investor’, and he is David Russell of the Property Alliance Group of Manchester.

To avoid us viewing David Russell entirely as a victim the writer adds that, ‘David isn’t whiter than white’. The fact that Russell is referred to twice as ‘David’ suggests that the writer knows him.

David Russell. Image: Manchester Evening News. Click to enlarge

Yet the writer claims to be an ‘ex-employer’ (sic) of Paul and Rowena Williams, which is odd. The writer must have left the Williams’ employ very recently to know the new boy. But everything’s been closed down for a while and the Williams’ are now holed up at Little Hereford, so who have they employed recently?

The writer also wants us to know that ‘Paul has a number of court cases currently ongoing and people are suing him for theft and fraud, along with many other financial related matters’. That may well be true, so what’s new?

Though let’s not be too harsh on Paul Williams, a man cursed with an appalling memory. Evidenced a few years back when he set up the company, Leisure & Development Ltd, to buy hotels that he and his good lady wife already owned!

Not only that, but he borrowed millions of pounds from NatWest Bank to buy those hotels that he already owned!

This state of confusion saw him ‘sell’ the company in February 2018 to an old friend and time-served fraudster, Keith Harvey Partdridge. Partdridge then closed the hotels, dozens of people lost their jobs, suppliers and tradesmen went unpaid.

From the most recent administrator’s report for Leisure & Development Ltd. Click to enlarge

The £1.29m shown as ‘Paid to date’ represents the money realised from the sale of the properties Paul and Rowena Williams paid £13m for when they bought them from themselves.

As an example of their pitiable state, they paid themselves £2,881,599 for the Knighton Hotel in July 2015, but when it was sold by the receiver a few months ago (pre-Covid) it realised just £300,000.

Throw in the differences on the other properties and it soon accounts for the £6.2m NatWest is chasing. For of course, with his terrible memory Paul Williams had forgotten to pay back the bank . . . from the £13m he paid himself, but wasn’t paid by Keith Partdridge. No, wait . . .

I’m sure Dudley Cross of Lambert Smith Hampton can throw light on the valuations that resulted in Paul and Rowena Williams making such tear-jerking mistakes. For Dudley was very close to Paul and Rowena over a number of years.

Dudley Cross of Lambert Smith Hampton. Click to enlarge

By the time the results of their confusion became known in Powys, Mr and Mrs Williams had wandered up to Gwynedd, where delusions of grandeur was added to memory loss, leading to them playing Lord and Lady Muck at Plas Glynllifon.

But Cross stuck with them. And for the Plas Glynllifon Open Day in June 2018 Dud even put on his peaked cap to act as a guide!

I thought about the letter’s contents before the 12:30 kick-offs on Saturday, hoping the Swans game was being televised. (It wasn’t.) My thoughts led me to conclude that whoever wrote this letter clearly knows how Paul and Rowena Williams operate. (Who doesn’t by now?)

The writer would also seem to know David Russell, and isn’t averse to snidely drawing my attention – in one of the links – to a MEN story about Russell speeding in his Bentley Bentayga.

I considered the possibility that tittle-tattle such as I had been sent could have been picked up in Manchester property circles easier than in the proximity of deserted properties in Gwynedd.

And so I thought, who do I know who is familiar with the Williams gang and has links to Manchester? To help find an answer I pulled up a letter I received from Myles Andrew Cunliffe last August and compared it with the letter delivered on Saturday.

The addressee on the letter received on Saturday has been partly redacted. Click to enlarge

In both letters the addressee is on the left and it’s spelled ‘Mr.’, but how many use a full stop after ‘Mr’? Then there is the comma following the salutation, which is correct, but something many people nowadays seem to ignore. Both letters are made up of relatively short paragraphs, which are spaced and not indented. With single spacing after each sentence.

But what struck me most was the date. Which on both letters is on the right-hand side (I centre it); on both letters the date is underlined; there is a colon after ‘date’/’dated’; an upper case ‘th’; and no comma between month and year. The chances of two different people writing the date in that manner must be slim.

And then there’s the address. If this letter came from a former employee of the Gruesome Twosome in Gwynedd, to someone else in Gwynedd, then putting ‘Wales’ in the address is rather unnecessary.

Talking of my address, how would a former employee of Paul and Rowena Williams know my house number? Yet Cunliffe knows where I live because his boy Hindle has put threatening letters through my door, twice.

Then there’s the final paragraph and its allusion to driving out invaders.

As if somebody is trying a little too hard to appeal to ‘Jac o’ the North, Unreconstructed Nationalist’.

Despite all this, I’m not saying that Myles Andrew Cunliffe wrote the letter I received on Saturday. I’m just saying that someone less generous than me might point a finger in his direction.

I’m certainly not convinced that the letter came from a former employee of Paul and Rowena Williams.

Given that North Wales Police seems to be taking greater interest in this whole business I sent them a copy. And seeing as David Russell is mentioned in the letter it’s only fair that he should know what someone is saying about him, so I’ve also sent a copy to him c/o the Property Alliance Group.

FOOLS’ GOLD

Let’s put this latest development into context.

I’d ignored those associated with Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor Hotel since Weep for Wales 16 was published on the second day of 2020. Until, that is, Myles Cunliffe goaded me back into action by renaming his company Waterford Interiors Limited Royston Jones LL36 9YF Limited.

This resulted in Weep for Wales 17 last week.

Yes, I know, Cunliffe ceased to be a director last November; the only director listed with Companies House now is the Thomas Jacob Hindle I mentioned earlier, the ‘postman’, but that’s just for appearances. Hindle fronts for Cunliffe just as Cunliffe fronts for Jonathan Disley, the ‘King of Marbella’.

In last week’s post I referred in passing to another Cunliffe, who had been a director of Goldmann and Sons PLC, along with Myles Cunliffe. This company being one of a veritable stable of ‘Goldmann’ companies.

UPDATE 23.06.2020: A comment made to this post satisfies me that the other Cunliffe involved with Goldmann and Sons PLC was a victim of crime rather than a perpetrator.

You’ll see that a number of the companies changed their name to Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis. The ‘Ellis’ is Tom Ellis, Disley’s son-in-law, the ‘Cunliffe’ is Myles Cunliffe, and the ‘Rogers’ is Dennis Rogers.

Even though Goldmann and Sons was dissolved in June 2019 someone forgot to close the Twitter account. And in case it disappears, I’ve done a screen capture.

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Though there seem to have been a number of Goldmann and Son Twitter accounts.

All offering the same thing – no questions asked loans to businesses drifting towards Shit Creek. How it worked is explained here. And in the capture below from the linked article.

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Dennis Rogers is the man linked with the money that swung Brexit. Done through Rock Holdings Ltd, of which Rogers was a nominee director. (But who nominated him?) Rock Holdings was based across the street from an address Rogers himself used on South Quay in Douglas. Explained in Weep for Wales 13.

But Rogers was a busy boy, into everything.

Let’s go back to Goldmann and Sons, to the Filing History, where we see entries for 01 May 2018. Telling us that Myles Cunliffe became the ‘person with significant control’, replacing Islandwide Advisory Ltd.

Islandwide Advisory Ltd was Incorporated 31 March 2010 as Island Wide Properties Ltd. It first directors were Dennis Rogers and Jodie Lee. Ms Lee soon became Mrs Rogers.

Islandwide Advisory Ltd was De-Registered as a company by the Isle of Man Department of Economic Development 18 May 2016. But it took nearly two years before Companies House was notified.

Dennis Rogers has long-standing Isle of Man connections, he was even said to have been an advisor to the IoM government.

The Goldmann companies are now all dissolved (most of them in 2019), with the exception of Goldmann and Sons (Spain) Ltd which changed its name to Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis Capital (Spain) Ltd.

This company currently has no directors. Confirmation statement and accounts are overdue, and I hope nobody at Companies House is waiting for these documents – cos they ain’t coming. This is another abandoned ship that, to believe what was filed, never did anything more than change its name and its address.

So many ‘Goldmann’ companies, and none of them apparently doing anything. No accounts filed. Nothing paid to HMRC. Just empty hulks drifting aimlessly on the ocean of (SIC) ‘Financial intermediation’.

Now let’s turn to Phillip John Cunliffe, who we find in a company called Disley Aviation Ltd, now defunct. In addition to Disley Aviation this Cunliffe has a string of dissolved companies to his own name.

So there are two Cunliffes, who have been involved with Jon Disley for at least a decade. With Rogers providing the Isle of Man connection and the faintest aura of respectability.

Dennis Rogers, the man who knows where Arron Banks’ Brexit money came from. Image: Warrington Guardian. Click to enlarge

Because for a brief period – and perhaps as a reward for his role in ‘shepherding’ the Brexit money – Rogers was the Brexit Party candidate for Warrington South. But his bid for Westminster was thwarted when electors started asking where he lived.

Disley, Ellis, the two Cunliffes, Rogers et al; one big happy family.

A BRIEF MESSAGE FOR DAVID RUSSELL

I don’t know you but I feel entitled to address you, on the assumption that you are now involved with Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor.

If you’re an honest man, then my advice is to get out while you can. If, on the other hand, you know what you’ve got involved with – welcome to the Weep for Wales saga!

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 23.06.2020: Received an e-mail from Ralli Solicitors LLP of Manchester on behalf of Myles Andrew Cunliffe. Is he saying he didn’t write the two threatening letters he sent me?

Does the message suggest that Cunliffe has forsaken his old cronies and is now following the path of the righteous?

Click to enlarge



Weep for Wales 12

EXPLANATION: This post was originally put up on March 18 and taken down after I received a hand-delivered letter after dark on March 26. Having now given the matter considerable thought I have reinstated this posting and will continue with the Weep for Wales series.

A short explanation was posted in place of Weep for Wales 12, which garnered the comments you’ll see prior to the reposting on August 25.

It was taken down for a second time after another threatening letter from Myles Andrew Cunliffe on August 28, and reposted after a minor revision.

Those who follow soap operas will be familiar with new characters appearing and old favourites being written out. And so it is with this saga that began with Paul and Rowena Williams. For as they (appear to) slip into the wings new figures take to the stage.

As I always say at this stage – and if you have a couple of hours to spare – you might want to catch up with 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, Weep for Wales 9, Weep for Wales 10, Weep for Wales 11 and Weep for Wales 11A (section 2 of a larger post).

PREVIOUSLY . . .

We left the story, at Weep for Wales 11A, having just met the latest addition to the cast in the form of Myles Andrew Cunliffe. So how is Myles settling in, and what have we learnt about him?

On 19 February Companies House was notified that Rowena Williams ceased to be a director of Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, the company that, apparently, owns Plas Glynllifon. This leaves Paul Williams and Myles Cunliffe as directors. Though the 10,000 shares are divided equally between Rowena Williams and Mylo Capital Ltd, which is of course Cunliffe’s company.

Gwesty Seiont Manor Ltd is in the process of being struck off. And as I also reported in Weep for Wales 11A, the registered office address for Seiont Manor Hotel Limited – sole director Rikki Reynolds – has moved from Plas Glynllifon to the office of accountant and convicted fraudster John Duggan in Leintwardine, Craven Arms. And now there is a third company using the Seiont Manor name in the form of Seiont Manor Ltd, which has a Manchester address and Cunliffe as sole director.

We also learnt that staff were not being paid at Seiont Manor. And the news spread within the industry to the point where warnings were being posted on social media.

Click to enlarge

What I may have neglected to mention is that Plas Glynllifon Limited, which owns the mansion and some land around, for which Paul and Rowena Williams ‘paid’ £630,000 in 2016, now has three directors; the gruesome twosome and Cunliffe. The registered office address for this outfit has also moved to the Manchester address used by Cunliffe, but nothing has yet been filed with Companies House to tell us how the shares are allocated.

Also worth noting is that there are no less than eight outstanding charges against Plas Glynllifon Limited, all held by Together Commercial Finance Ltd.

NEW PLOT LINES

You’ll recall that in Weep for Wales 10 I reported on the former member of staff, a disabled man, who’d taken Paul and Rowena Williams to an Industrial Tribunal and been awarded £27,907.42. The details are here.

Well, there’s been another case and this time the award was just under £12,000.

You’ll notice in the report Paul Williams claiming he didn’t turn up in court because he didn’t realise the case was on. The implication being that had he known he would have scampered to the court-house, camped outside overnight, and then exposed this scalawag trying to besmirch his impeccable reputation.

Click to enlarge

This is pure Paul Williams. Whenever he’s called to an ‘awkward’ interview or meeting he avoids attending with some silly excuse – he’s gone down with Yellow Jack, been trampled by a runaway rhino, abducted by aliens . . .

The bloke is such a liar he should try his hand at writing. He could be the next Jeffrey Archer.

It should also go without saying that neither of those former employees awarded money will ever see a penny – for on his way to the bank Paul Williams will be ambushed by Jesse James and his gang!

Another piece of important news is that the Administrator’s progress report for Leisure & Development Limited came out last week. Here it is full. Section 1.1.2 says a lot about Paul and Rowena Williams. As does 1.1.7.

While I’m not holding my breath, 1.2 does offer hope that these bastards will get the comeuppance they deserve.

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Interesting for its omission was any mention of the eleven million pounds earlier claimed by Paul and Rowena Williams, a sum that made them the biggest creditors. Because, you’ll recall, they said they’d sold Leisure & Development Limited to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge for £11m just before the company went belly-up but never saw the money.

All that’s left of the Williams empire in Gwynedd appears to be poor neglected Fronoleu, near Dolgellau. A Seiont Manor employee still lives in the seven-bedroom house near to the former restaurant, but his dreams of taking over a refurbished Fronoleu – which is what he was promised – have gone up in smoke.

Though maybe I shouldn’t say that, because I’ve had reports of a couple of suspicious fires associated with Paul Williams. One recent report tells of a fire at Plas Glynllifon:

” . . . there was a fire at the Plas on the Saturday before Halloween . . . all the students had left for half term . . . the fire which was in the courtyard at the back of the mansion and . . . that fire would have burnt the whole house down without any doubt . . . it had started in a bin that held aerosols and paint cans . . . I saw a land rover . . . driving . . . right by the fire, he could not have missed it. I presumed he (the driver) would have called the brigade . . . they had not received a call, and when . . . fire brigade arrive the same land rover drove quickly away from the mansion . . . “.

This could be dismissed as an accidental fire witnessed by someone with an over-active imagination, were it not for the timing. For by late October Paul and Rowena Williams knew their canoe was heading not for Goa but Shit Creek.

They were desperate. And that explains why, just a short time after the fire, Myles Andrew Cunliffe appeared on the scene.

Before leaving Gwynedd I should mention an e-mail I received from someone living near Fronoleu. The message said that the writer was distressed at the state of the (even more distressed) building and was prepared to buy it. So could I provide an address for the owners.

Fronoleu. Click to enlarge

All I could tell them was that I had sent my Christmas card (£20 note enclosed) to, ‘Paul and Rowena Williams, c/o Seiont Manor Hotel, etc‘.

Now we’re off to Cornwall, from where I’ve also received a number of interesting reports.

The first suggests that Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge is buying the Garrack Hotel in St Ives and plans to turn it into ‘accommodation’ of some kind. Staff at the Garrack knew nothing of Part(d)ridge until someone did an internet search and came across the Weep for Wales series, now the staff are very worried.

Though the question remains, for whom is Part(d)ridge buying the Garrack? And how unsavoury does the real buyer have to be to use Part(d)ridge as a front man?

Another convicted fraudster who’s done time is Stuart Paul Cooper who leases the Waves Bar from dissolved Leisure & Development Limited. A bit of a lad, Cooper, who likes to threaten people with violence or arson. (Often both.) Even though he runs the bar the drinks licence is obviously not in his name.

Waves Bar, Seaton, Cornwall. Click to enlarge.

The licence was originally held by Rowena Williams, who of course lived a few hundred miles away, so Cornwall County Council put a stop to that and it was transferred to Cooper’s live-in girlfriend Donna Armstrong, or Westmorland, or whatever name she might be using at any given time.

Companies House seem to know her as Armstrong and she was a director of the Waves Bar and Restaurant Limited, a company set up in April 2017 and dissolved in August 2018 without filing anything of note with Companies House. But then, in September 2018, she and co-director Richard Edward Mayfield set up the Waves Restaurant and Bar Limited.

Doesn’t anyone at Companies House think that’s a bit suspicious?

There is a third company, with Anderson as sole director, and this is Waves Resort and Leisure Ltd, Incorporated in September 2018. The other two can be dismissed as shell companies, but this third company has a single £25,000 share, which is intriguing.

(Cooper of course is disqualified from serving as a company director.)

Stuart Paul Cooper, has been imaginatively described to me as a ‘nose hoover’. Rikki Reynolds, who’s been running Seiont Manor, has a similar liking for the white stuff. And that’s not the only similarity, for here’s a story about Reynolds I was sent a while back but agreed to sit on. I’ve now had clearance to use it.

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Talking of cocaine and similar substances, it is even suggested that the Waves Bar might be an entrepôt for exotic goods from faraway places landing at Looe.

Before leaving Cornwall, and Looe, I should remind you that there is still Polvellan Manor Ltd which presumably owns the property of the same name. Partdridge is the sole director, but the shares are split equally between him and Paul and Rowena Williams.

Also based at Polvellan Manor is Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, which the gruesome twosome tried to dissolve last year. The sole director here is the mysterious Michael Jones.

AND THE LATEST ADDITION TO THE CAST

Now let’s turn to the new star of the show, Myles Andrew Cunliffe, who seems to have taken over both Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, though official paperwork is still scarce.

As I’ve mentioned previously, Cunliffe’s early background is in personal finance and second-hand cars.

As is my wont when looking into the background of someone like Cunliffe I like to draw up a list of the companies with which they’ve been involved. And that’s what I’ve done. Here’s the document in pdf format with the company name acting as a hyper link.

I’m also making the document available in png format. The links don’t work of course but some of you may find it easier to follow. I suggest you keep it open in a different window.

Click to enlarge

If we look at the document – ordered by date of company formation – we see that the early companies were in the personal finance and second-hand car sector I mentioned. But then, from late in 2011, there’s a switch into property and freight. The two are separated by a black line.

Now let me explain the colouring. The ones shaded in blue are Williams companies that Cunliffe has taken over. The ones at the bottom, in pink, are perhaps replacement companies recently formed by Cunliffe. The ones shaded yellow are companies where Cunliffe’s arrival coincided – almost to the day – with the leaving of Baron Alex Bloom. (Of whom more in a minute.)

The unshaded companies are either dissolved, in the process of being dissolved, or else too new to know much about.

Right, so who is Baron Alex Bloom? An internet search throws up any number of stories about this colourful character, starting here in 2003. But after time in jail this millionaire’s son ‘bounced back’ in 2006. And to bring you up to date here he is in 2018 being accused of dishonesty by a judge during divorce proceedings. ‘Shome mishtake, shurely!’ as Lord Gnome would put it.

Picture courtesy of Daily Mail, click to enlarge

I’m not quite sure how this works, but if you check the chronology, you’ll see that Cunliffe very often becomes a director just before a company goes under. He’s almost like a priest called in to administer the last rites.

And that, I strongly suspect, is what’s happening in north Gwynedd. Cunliffe hasn’t been brought in to rescue Paul and Rowena Williams, there’ll be no money invested in Plas Glynllifon or Seiont Manor; he’s there for other reasons.

When you look through the property and freight companies Cunliffe has been involved with you’re immediately struck by the lack of what Woody Guthrie called the ‘Do Re Mi’, the moolah, the greenbacks.

Click to enlarge

It’s interesting that the Daily Mail account of the divorce proceedings makes clear that Mrs Bloom comes from a wealthy Russian family. Which means that for a while at least Baron Alex Bloom had links to serious Russian money. Maybe he still has.

Through Etaireia Investments – of which Bloom was and Cunliffe remains a director – we find links with the Oyston family estate. The name Owen Oyston will be familiar to football fans and to readers of Private Eye. This article from the Guardian will give you a flavour of the man.

This is not so much a dramatis personae as a cavalcade of grotesques.

UPDATE 20.03.2018: A cavalcade that has been joined by Jonathon Disley who, I am reliably informed, has stayed at the Seiont Manor more than once recently.

THE BROTHER WE NEVER SEE ON SCREEN?

What I also found intriguing was that among the directors of Goldmann and Sons PLC we find a Neil George Cunliffe, some ten years older than Myles Andrew Cunliffe. Are they related?

So what do we know of Neil George Cunliffe?

His Linkedin profile takes us back to 1997 when he was a sales director for a timeshare company on Gran Canaria. He still lives in Spain, in Marbella, and is now a Spanish citizen, though his Linkedin profile does not list all the companies with which he’s been involved. I’ll try to fill in the lacunae.

Goldmann and Sons PLC Incorporated 24.07.2015.  (‘Financial intermediation not elsewhere classified. Other business support service activities not elsewhere classified’.) Neil Cunliffe was a director from 03.04.2018 to 06.05.2018. Myles Cunliffe was a director from 16.03.2017 to 19.10.2018.

The Vanguard Group Limited (‘Development of building projects’.) Incorporated 12.01.2017. Neil Cunliffe was a director between 04.04.2018 and 28.07.2018. No accounts ever filed with Companies House. This company was dissolved 05.03.2019.

Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis Capital (Spain) Limited (‘Central banking. Banks. Financial intermediation not elsewhere classified’.) Incorporated 14.03.2018, name changed from Goldmann and Sons (Spain) Limited in January 2019. Neil George Cunliffe was first and sole director until 01.08.2018 when he was replaced by Thomas James Ellis. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.

Vanguard Land Limited (‘Development of building projects’.) Incorporated 17.05.2018. Neil Cunliffe has been one of the two directors since Incorporation. This company was floated with share capital of 1,000,000 £1 shares. Cunliffe holds 499,000 of the shares. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.

Arden Wealth Limited (‘Management consultancy activities other than financial management’.) Incorporated 12.06.2018. Neil Cunliffe was one of the two founding directors and remains a director. This company was formed with share capital of £5,000,000 divided equally between the two directors. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.

Kenlife Consulting Limited (Management consultancy activities other than financial management.) Incorporated 29.10.2018. Cunliffe was the founding and sole director and holder of the single £1 share until 04.03.2019 when he was joined by a Dutch resident with an Arab-sounding name and an Omani. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.

Do you see the pattern here? – short-lived companies . . . forming and folding with no paperwork filed . . . people holding directorships for very short periods . . . foreign investors . . .

In my investigations I unearthed a whole stable of companies carrying the Goldmann label, and all follow the same pattern. They have either been set up very recently, which means it’s too early for accounts, etc, or, if they’re a few years old, then they’ve been dissolved. Either way, we know little or nothing about them.

Here’s a list of the Goldmann companies. You’ll see that a number of them have undergone name changes from Goldmann to Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis.

THE FINALE

Anyone hoping to see Plas Glynllifon become a top class resort hotel, with high-rollers flying in and out of Caernarfon airport; or the Seiont Manor Hotel get mentioned in the Michelin Guide, should wise up and realise that’s not why people buy these properties.

And this doesn’t just apply to the current owners. Or to these properties.

Image courtesy of Caernarfon airport, click to enlarge

For we have a problem in Wales that I have mentioned before. While we may not have many mansions as grand as Plas Glynllifon we still have thousands of buildings for which there is no viable commercial future, so they get bought by the kinds of people we’ve looked at in the Weep for Wales series.

And it’s so easy.

On the one hand we have a self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, and local authorities – both bereft of ideas – desperately promoting tourism; to the extent that any shyster moving in and buying Neuadd Cwmscwt is hailed as the economic salvation of the area. Not only that – but he/she will very likely receive grants!

Then we have the local media. In the whole saga of Plas Glynllifon under Paul and Rowena Williams the Daily Post published one puff after another. To all intents and purposes the ‘paper was acting as a PR outlet for these crooks. I can imagine the DP editor phoning up Plas Glynllifon on a slow news day and begging, ‘Do you have anything you’d like us to publish for you, Mr Williams – anything!’

There are very few journalists left in Wales. Nobody seems to do background checks and ask the pertinent questions.

Finally, our police forces are overstretched and under-resourced, and no matter what they might suspect, they can do nothing. And anyway, sophisticated crimes like those we’re looking at may be out of their league and their jurisdictions.

We are at the stage now where we, as a country, need to make decisions about grand buildings that serve no purpose, have no future, and fall prey to a succession of undesirables who arrive announcing grand plans that never come to anything.

Rather than allowing Wales to become a haven for asset-strippers, mortgage fraudsters, money-launderers, etc., it might be best to compulsorily purchase and then demolish places like Plas Glynllifon.

end ♦