Networks

‘DO YOU WANNA BE IN MY GANG?’

We all belong to some kind of network. It can be as obvious as family or friends, or else it’s neighbours, workmates, political associates, other fans of the teams you support, fellow-worshippers at your chapel or church, even the people you play darts with down the pub. And nowadays we have to include social media.

Yet when we consciously use the word I’m sure many of us think of vaguely sinister organisations such as the Freemasons.

A curious outfit, the Freemasons, forever extolling their links with the Temple of Solomon, the Knights Templar, and the intellectuals and freethinkers of the Renaissance and the French Enlightenment. Yet this brotherhood lost its way and became what we see today – a mutual benefit society.

In fact, the Masons changed from being an organisation of questioning intellectuals to one representing an unquestioning and defensive bourgeoisie linked with the Conservative and Unionist Party, and in Ireland with Unionism and the Orange Order.

Freemasonry became a buttress for a UK establishment feeling threatened by the extending franchise in Britain and ‘Fenianism’ in Ireland. Which is not to say that supporters of other political parties don’t become Masons, but at root, Freemasonry is very much a Queen and Country organisation.

Yet today’s Freemasons maintain the pretence they belong to a rebellious intellectual continuum taking in Michaelangelo and Voltaire. Obvious nonsense.

One of the great bogeymen, and therefore recruiting sergeants, for the Freemasons a century ago was the Labour Party. Labour returned the compliment by trying to copy the reach of Freemasonry by building up its own network.

As with Freemasonry when it moved beyond the esoteric Labour’s expanding network of affiliated and associated bodies attracted individuals seeking personal advancement. This has predictably resulted in corruption.

Nowhere is this corruption more obvious now than in Wales.

THE OLIVE TRUST & THE KIDWELLY HUB

In the previous post we renewed our acquaintance with Denise Kingsley Acton, former Green Party candidate in Watford, proprietrix of the Olive Trust (‘Smells ‘n’ chants ‘r’ us’) who washed up in Wales (as so many like her do), struck up a curious friendship with an elderly Swansea Labour councillor, and then in 2010 applied for £1,000,000 from the Welsh European Funding Office.

click to enlarge

Last week I wrote to WEFO asking if this application had been successful. The answer I received seems very carefully worded. The underlinings are mine.

“Thanks for your email. I’ve discussed with colleagues and as far as we’re aware, the Olive Trust does not appear to have directly received EU funding. For your information, the EU funds pages of the Welsh Government shows a list of all approved project through the current programmes“.

“As far as we’re aware” be buggered! Surely they keep records, they must know!

On the assumption that she did not get her million it could be that Denise Kingsley Acton believes the grass – and perhaps the funders – may be greener in Carmarthenshire, for she is now domiciled in Kidwelly. To be exact, in a detached house on an expensive new development near Mynydd-y-Garreg.

According to 192.com Denise S Kingsley lives with the man to whom I assume she is engaged – for her Facebook page informs us she is betrothed – and a Denise S Acton! Ménage à trois? Of course not – how dare you! – but confusion is bound to result when you use different names; and when she gets married the confusion can only increase.

Kingsley-Acton has recently opined that Kidwelly is badly in need of a community building (the kind of thing she wanted a million quid for in 2010) but hasn’t she heard of ‘The Hub’? It’s all happening in the Kidwelly Community Hub . . . well, maybe not much is happening, but it provides photo opportunities galore for Labour politicians. So it serves its real purpose.

Nia Griffith MP (in paper hat), Cllr Phil Thompson (green pinnie), Barry Lee Waters AM (back row), click to enlarge

The curious thing about the Hub, or to give it its proper name, Ynghyd Community Interest Company is that the Companies House website tells us there are three people with the Right to appoint and remove directorsMrs Nicola Herbertson of Surbiton, Mrs Diana Sylvia Groom, now of Kidwelly but until very recently a psychotherapist in Oxfordshire, and a Mr Steve Jones.

Other directors or former directors are also recent arrivals in Wales. Which makes the claim on the Facebook page that “Kidwelly Community Hub is a venture by Kidwelly people for Kidwelly people” a load of old bollocks, as we students of the third sector are wont to say.

It’s all so reminiscent of another ‘community’ venture in Carmarthenshire, this one at Llandovery. There we find another Englishwoman, Jill Tatman, who has commandeered a building – the former YMCA – then demanded and received funding to pay herself a good salary for running the show, though the YMCA has told her she can no longer use their name.

That’s because there are suspicions that hubby’s interest in the children visiting the building is not entirely innocent. Though she is said to have defended him at a recent trustees meeting by arguing that he had suffered enough for “only rubbing up against the kids”. So that’s all right then.

How many of these fucking memsahibs are there infesting our rural areas? Though some of them are not even living here, they seem to do it by remote control!

Firmly in Kidwelly, we find town and former county councillor Phil Thompson. Thompson is a barrister at law, yet his Declaration of Interests tells us he lives in social housing provided by Pobl (formerly Gwalia). Can’t a lawyer afford to buy a place of his own?

It reminds me of someone else with a very healthy income who lives in social housing, someone who writes regular letters to Llais y Sais. But then, former RAF Group Captain Kel Palmer of Mountain Ash is another Labour Party supporter, formerly involved with the doomed Communities First programme.

Many assume that social housing is for local people who can’t afford to buy a home of their own, which is how it should be, but not how it works in Wales. Well-off people can get social housing – if they’re in the Labour Party.

But then, the social housing system fails Wales in so many ways.

Not far from where Phil Thompson lives in Kidwelly his landlord Gwalia housed a gang of paedophiles brought down from London. Housing associations are bringing untold misery to Welsh communities by importing all manner of criminals, such as we see with Labour-controlled Wales and West in Lampeter.

To the point where what we have in Wales is very often anti-social housing – paid for from the Welsh public purse. How stupid must we be to tolerate this?

UPDATE 15.03.2018: I have now figured out how Mrs Nicola Herbertson of Surbiton got involved with the Kidwelly Hub. A previous director was Jonathan Michael Hobden, along with his wife, Fiona Mary. Here’s his Companies House entry and below is an extract from his Linkedin profile.

You’ll note, first, that he describes himself as a philanthropist! But more importantly, he is Director of Marketing at Hao2.eu aka 3DNovations. Now the CEO and founder of Hao2.eu Ltd is Nicola Herbertson. (There is also a Hao2.eu Foundation registered with the Charity Commission, No 1153397.)

So it would appear that Ynghyd Ltd / Kidwelly Hub is a creation of, and controlled by, a company based in London. Which reminds us yet again what a load of old bollocks is the claim on the Facebook page that,  Kidwelly Community Hub is a venture by Kidwelly people for Kidwelly people”. I doubt if there’s one genuine Kidwelly local involved.

So does the Kidwelly Hub exist for the people of Kidwelly or for the benefit of Hao2.eu and ‘Welsh’ Labour?

K SHARP

Another recent arrival in the area is a company called K Sharp Ltd, and once again we should thank Llanelli Online for bringing us the news.

According to the story, attributed to Iwan Lewis, “K Sharp has spread its footprint by opening a new office in Llanelli, South Wales, whilst keeping an office in Gloucester”. This is clearly a regurgitated press release, for readers of Llanelli Online should not need to be told that their town is in south Wales. (Many would prefer ‘west Wales’.)

Though if we go to the Companies House entry for K Sharp Ltd we see that on 11 January the company changed its address to Suite 2, West End Yard, West End, Llanelli, which suggests a complete move rather than opening a branch office.

click to enlarge

So what do we know about K Sharp Ltd?

Well, the website suggests it’s a company concerned with human behaviour, including, ‘Cultural and Behavioural Analytics’, and that the head honcho is Barry Kirby, assisted by his wife and two other women. Much of their work seems to be police- or defence-related.

click to enlarge

So who is Barry?

Until quite recently Barry was Deputy Leader of the Labour group on Gloucestershire County Council, and a general election candidate to boot, until he threw it in last October. This rupture with the Gloucestershire Labour Party and the move to Llanelli in January (or earlier) are surely connected.

So why was Llanelli Online so late with the news?

Given K Sharp’s line of work is there any link with the Local MP, Nia Griffith, being shadow defence secretary? Or is Barry hoping to cash in on the Coffin partnership’s Wellness extravaganza?

I think we should be told why a company based in Gloucestershire, working with Gloucester University, suddenly ups sticks and moves 110 miles down the M4. Nobody makes a move like this unless there’s some advantage in it for them, so what has K Sharp Ltd been promised, and by whom?

Another mystery is that the Micro-entity accounts available on the Companies House website for K Sharp Ltd deal in peanuts, so where’s the money to run a company like this and pay four people’s salaries?

Looking at the bigger picture, is Labour perhaps fearful of electoral trends elsewhere in the county infecting Sosban and now attempting to strengthen its hold on the constituency? A project greatly helped by Plaid Cymru destroying itself in the area.

But with all the memsahibs, snake oil salesmen/saleswomen, and outright crooks now sucking on the teat of public funding, and with so few of them having true local connections, this ploy could backfire. Because people aren’t that stupid, not even lifelong Labour voters.

But whatever the future holds we can rely on Llanelli Online to bring us all the Labour Party news. It’ll be up to people like me to give you something closer to the truth.

 ♦ end ♦

 

Easter Miscellany 2016

RCT HOMES

Earlier this month Martin Shipton of the Wasting Mule and WalesOnline had a brief bout of outrage on learning that RCT Homes was advertising for a chief executive at a salary greater than that paid to the UK Prime Minister or Wales’ First Minister. Here’s the advertisement – with a London recruitment agency – that occasioned his momentary unhappiness with the colonial system.

This recruitment follows on from a number of personnel changes at RCT Homes (mentioned in the same article) that are worthy of reporting, not least the departure of Andrew Lycett, the previous chief executive. So let me hand you over to a correspondent who explains the complexities of it all. I have added links and a few comments to help you understand better who’s who and what’s what.

Now read what follows carefully and join up the dots.

“The Wasting Mule tells us that Andrew Lycett left RCT Homes for reasons that were unexplained on the grounds of “confidentiality”. A more typical corporate response to that question is that he “has found career opportunities elsewhere” which led me to investigate.

Lycett submitted his resignation from RCT Homes at the same time as Cllr Kieron Montague (Labour) announced he would step down and not seek re-election. He is Cabinet Member for Tackling Poverty, Engagement & Housing. He also sat on the RCT Homes board, on behalf of RCT council.

Lycett has actually taken up the role of Finance Director with the Jehu Group, a real estate development company, who beside being a major player at the SA1 development in Swansea, but also has expanded to the west, opening a new office in Haverfordwest, under their subsidiary Waterstone Estates.

Montague, meanwhile, has now taken up a role with Cynon Taf Housing Association, who unlike RCT Homes, has a substantial holding of vacant development land.

In a previous post (here, scroll down) you correctly pointed out the outsourcing of estates administration by a number of local authorities to PwC. A partner of PwC, Lynn Pamment, also sat on the board of RCT Homes, alongside Lycett and Montague. She will, of course, be very conversant with the issues which PwC has been required to ‘assist with’, that of, balancing the budget for Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion councils. This includes selling off land for development.

This, of course, is the very footprint that Waterstone Estates has opened an office for in Haverfordwest for. Waterstone Estates is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Jehu Group, which Lycett is now director.”

We are all familiar with the links between the Third Sector and the Labour Party, but now we see a third element become more evident, that of private businesses, which recruit people with local government and Third Sector experience to help ‘smooth the way’ with the acquisition of land, the gaining of planning approval, and of course the clamping of the sweaty paws upon the funding public.

The supplier of the information mentions the RCT Board, and so I took a peek for myself. It hasn’t been updated, so here it is before it’s changed.

kieron-montague-978729428

It’s the usual mixture of Labour time-servers, Third Sector spongers and token residents. But as we were warned just now, there’s also the PwC representative, looking after her company’s best interests. Lynn Pamment is of course one of those selfless English missionaries without whom we Welsh would be running around naked doing unspeakable things to each other and gabbling away incoherently.

Also on the Board is someone I’ve mentioned before, a regular contributor to the Letters page of the Wasting Mule, where he can be relied upon to fly the flag for Queen and Country (his country that is, not ours), Kel Palmer. And talking of flying, his bio describes him as “A former fast jet pilot in the RAF” . . . not to be confused with those slow jet pilots . . . always getting in the bloody way . . . slowing down the bombing runs. It’s a wonder regime change is ever achieved.

This I think is one to watch. Particularly the future careers of Andrew Lycett and Kieron Montague.

[With so many different people sending me stuff I seem to have lost the original e-mail containing the information used above. So will whoever sent it please get in touch to remind me who you are.]

APPRENTICE APPARATCHIKS

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the need to provide apprenticeships, with political parties trying to outdo each other in the number they’d provide if elected, but did you know that the ‘Welsh’ Government has its very own apprenticeship scheme?

I am indebted to another correspondent for drawing this to my attention. Though he’s very concerned by the fact that most of those chosen for these apprenticeships seem to be related to someone already working for Carwyn and his gang.

Which, I suppose is only to be expected. For it seems that these apprenticeships are advertised only on the ‘Welsh’ Government website. Now with the best will in the world, I doubt if many young people visit the site . . . unless advised to do so by family or friends.

Is this how it should be done? Doesn’t it risk getting nepotism a bad name?

WG Apprenticeships

And by the way, Carwyn, I wouldn’t give a job to that shifty-looking little bugger in the middle, the one fiddling with his tie. If he’s going to do Oliver Hardy impersonations he needs to put on about 150lb . . . and also develop a personality.

CHRISTOPHER MUNDAY, GOAT-TETHERER

A third supplier of information has very interesting things to tell us about Christopher Munday who, you may remember, is the genius who set up the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales which I – in my previous post – likened unto tethering a goat and waiting for the predators to appear.

He writes . . .

“CM is typical of many public sector employees who see their advancement “up the greasy pole” by avoiding decision making and adopting the mantra of “plausible deniabilty” if anything goes wrong.

He joined Welsh Development Agency in the 1980’s having formerly been a “site finder” for a medium sized house building company. He progressed through a number of low and medium grade clerical jobs, as the WDA expanded through the 1990’s, and then became employed in a department seeking to access private sector money to add to the Agency’s budget for property development purposes.

As he had little knowledge of funding (and no knowledge of property development), his approach was to appoint  major firms of accountants to “write reports” as to how private funding might be accessed. It was quickly realised in Cardiff, that operating a large budget for the purposes of employing private sector accountants, made CM a prime target for the KPMGs, PWC, Deloittes of this world in “keeping him sweet”. He attended, for many years, the annual MIPIM property junkets in Cannes, where his time was spent networking (i.e. being entertained) by his accountancy pals.

Once these reports had been completed, at costs between tens of and hundreds of thousands of pounds, these would be “topped and tailed” by CM and subsequently presented to his line managers and, ultimately, ministers as “all his own work”. On two or three occasions the reports suggested “arms-length” initiatives, with a view to private sector organisations participating in the development of offices and factories in Wales. 

In at least one of these initiatives (called WISP) the “partner participant” was a company called Babcock and Brown. By this time WDA had been “absorbed” into the Assembly. The basis of WISP was that the Assembly would take a long lease on an office block before it was built, and the investment would be pre-sold to provide the funds to build it in the first place.

Unfortunately, after a couple of office developments, Babcock and Brown went bust, and the WISP idea terminated.  Babcock and Brown’s contact with CM was Leo Bedford(LB), and LB started up another company out of the ashes of Babcock and Brown, called Amber.

It was, therefore, of little surprise that when the RIFW (a.k.a. JESSICA) initiative was suggested to Welsh Government, CM was put in charge of running it, and (surprise, surprise again) Amber was appointed as Fund Manager. It is not clear who decided Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) should be appointed as Property Advisers, but it is clear that Welsh Government appointed both firms (see attached press release). It is also interesting to note that when the RIFW s**t hit the fan, CM denied flatly that Welsh Government had appointed LSH, and insisted that LSH had been appointed by Amber without his knowledge (!).

I know several people who have worked, and still work with Mr Munday, and it is the case that work colleagues, AMs and Ministers largely regard him as a . . . at which point I have to intervene because it gets rather personal, and I’m down to my last couple of mill. Munday commutes to Cardiff from Wiltshire.

What are we to make of this, boys and girls? Now as you know, Jac is a simple soul, and talk of conferences in the South of France, and big numbers that I can’t get my head around, send me into a tizzy. But if half of what my informant tells us is true, then this man sounds like a complete asshole! But of course he’s an English asshole, so he’s guaranteed an important job in Wales, losing millions and millions from the Welsh public purse.

JAMES BOND COMES TO CARDIFF

The ‘Welsh’ media has gone overboard reporting the fact that Aston Martin is to build a new plant in Sant Tathan, just outside Cardiff. Now me explain this to you.

This has nothing to do with jobs; the number of jobs created is almost irrelevant for those who persuaded the ‘Welsh’ Government to bribe Aston Martin to set up on the outskirts of Cardiff. The motivation, pure and simple, is the promotion of Cardiff.

The Aston Martin plant is just another prestige project to add to the Millennium Stadium, the Millennium Centre, the Swalec Stadium, the National Ice Rink and all the other developments we’ve seen in recent years, including – don’t laugh! – the Assembly building itself. Within a very short time I guarantee we shall be hearing, ‘Cardiff – Home to Aston Martin’.

Many are already asking how much the ‘Welsh’ Government paid Aston Martin to move to the Vale, but nobody’s answering. I am indebted to @tomgallard for letting me publish this letter in which the ‘Welsh’ Government refuses to disclose how much it invested in this wonderful project that will be of benefit to the whole of Wales.

If you think I’m just an embittered old Jack, and that the ‘Welsh’ Governments’s prime consideration was jobs, just ask yourself this – would they have rolled out the red carpet with gold thread for Kia, or Dacia, even if these companies were creating 3,000 jobs? And answer that honestly.

Aston Martin Logo 1

And if you believe that employment / investment was the prime consideration, and that’s why the ‘Welsh’ Government was prepared to break the bank to get Aston Martin to Wales, then why weren’t the jobs directed to an area where they are much more needed than the Vale of Glamorgan, where I guarantee residents will soon be opposing all the disruption the Aston Martin development threatens?

Oh, and one final thing. Scroll down on the letter to Tom Gallard and see who signed it. Yes, that’s the same Christopher Munday we discussed just now. Whenever there’s Welsh public funding to be wasted, Munday’s yer man! 

P.S. Another factor worth considering is that this rush of automotive good news – Aston Martin to the Vale of Glamorgan, TVR to Ebbw Vale – comes just ahead of the Assembly elections on May 9. The Labour Party must be calculating that news like this is worth a few thousand votes, maybe saving the party a couple of seats. Very important when we remember that Labour currently holds 30 out of the 60 seats and is predicted to lose anything up to 5 of them.

 *

What we see in these examples, and in other cases I’ve highlighted over the years, is utter contempt for the democratic process and the public purse – which works to the detriment of us all. Basically, it’s, ‘Sod off! we don’t have to tell you anything’.

When RCT Homes was questioned by Martin Shipton about the £150,000 salary for its chief executive he could only tell us, “A spokeswoman for RCT Homes said the body would not be offering a comment.”

And when Andrew Lycett left RCT Homes to take up his post with real estate company the Jehu Group, the reasons for his leaving were unexplained on grounds of “confidentially”. This, remember, is a Registered Social Landlord getting large dollops of funding from the public purse.

The ‘Welsh’ Government apprenticeships are obviously aimed squarely at those in the know. Otherwise they’d be advertised properly so that everybody’d have a chance.

The RIFW scandal for which Christopher Munday is so culpable is still shrouded in mystery because so much information is being withheld and so many lies are being told.

Finally, we have the countless millions lobbed Aston Martin’s way to get another blue chip company to Cardiff. Yet we cannot be told how much because this information is – so someone at the ‘Welsh’ Government argues – “exempt from disclosure”. Is that really true?

And all this is happening in a system that prides itself on ‘openness’, focussed on a building made of glass, so that we, the people, can see what they’re up to. What a load of deceitful symbolism and absolute bollocks!

(Calm down, Jones.)

Now a compete change of subject, but another indictment of how Wales is run, and the priorities of those who run our county and our cities.

BEDD GWYROSYDD
Bedd Gwyrosydd
Feel free to use this photograph

When I was a boy, I used to catch the school bus at Brynhyfryd Square, which would then make the long haul up Llangyfelach Road, past the ‘Public Hall’ and its bust of Daniel James, before the turning left and along Heol Gwyrosydd to Penlan School.

Of course I knew the hymn Calon Lân, and I knew that the words had been written by local man Daniel James. (Bit of a hero of my mamgu!) Which was just as well, because I wasn’t going to learn things like that in Penlan School, or any school in Swansea. Trigonometry, Latin, and the history of British imperialism would stand me in much better stead for the world that awaited me.

These memories came back when I opened an e-mail and saw a photo that someone had sent with it. The photograph was taken the day after Palm Sunday, and it shows Daniel James’ sorry-looking grave in Mynyddbach cemetery. The person who sent me the photograph said he had to avoid huge Victorian headstones leaning at dangerous angles to reach the grave, and that a machete would have helped to get through the undergrowth.

Doesn’t the man who wrote perhaps our most famous hymn deserve better than this? If I was talking here about some monument to our subjugation, or a reminder of our colonialist exploitation, or some house where Nelson had enjoyed Lady Hamilton, then Cadw, or the National Trust, or some other bunch of colonialist grant-grabbers would demand a few million to ‘maintain it for the nation’. (And we know which nation.)

If you feel as I do, that Daniel James deserves to be remembered better than this, then write to somebody; Swansea council, the ‘Welsh’ Government, anybody. Send a letter or e-mail to your local paper, or the Daily Post, the Western Mail.

Because how much would it cost to maintain this grave with the dignity it merits? Less than a set of tyres on an Aston Martin. Probably less than Christopher Munday earns in a week. One per cent of what the chief executive of RCT Homes will be paid in a year. Wake up people! let’s start getting our priorities straight. Let’s start remembering who we are.

UPDATE 28.03.2016: Good News! A mystery benefactor has appeared to help with the restoration of the Gwyrosydd headstone.