Lambert Smith Hampton

Jul 032018
 

I hadn’t planned on writing another instalment so soon after my previous effort but more information has come to light that needs to be put into the public domain.

If this is all new to you then I suggest you get up to speed with Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2 and Weep for Wales 3. It’s worth it, and I say that because this is developing into a saga of corruption the like of which Wales has rarely seen.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

We shall soon be in Cornwall, and Polvellan House or Manor, standing not far from the confluence of the East and West Looe Rivers, but first I want to take a little detour, my ‘andsome (as he slips effortlessly into dialect!).

On 9 July 2002 Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd (Co. No. 04480966) was Incorporated with Companies House. Perfectly natural seeing as Paul and Rowena Williams, the directors of the company – each holding 5,000 £1 shares – had bought the Mortimers Cross Inn near Leominster in October 2001.

After the sale of the eponymous pub to Punch Taverns in 2004/5 (at what is alleged to be a greatly inflated valuation), the company underwent changes in both directors and addresses, also names, becoming Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd on 14 March 2007, and Polvellan Manor Ltd on 17 March 2015.

Then something even stranger happened.

On 20 March 2015, three days after Rural Retreats and Leisure Ltd changed its name to Polvellan Manor Ltd, a company called Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd (Co. No. 09502597) was formed. The directors were Rowena Claire Williams and Leisure and Development Ltd, a company whose sole director was Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd.

Paul and Rowena Williams

Why form a new company with a name so close as to be easily confused with the former name of Polvellan Manor Ltd? Surely it’s not a deliberate attempt to confuse?

Rowena Williams soon got out of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, and following a flurry of activity in December 2017 (not notified to Companies House until April) the address switched from Plas Glynllifon to Polvellan House, and when the music stopped a certain Michael Jones found himself sole director holding all the shares.

Now I have no idea who Michael Jones is. The documents filed with Companies House tell us that his correspondence address is Polvellan House but that Wales is his country of residence. Does he really exist? And if so, is he aware that he is responsible for Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd and the debt the company has with the NatWest Bank? Perhaps Michael Jones could get it touch to clarify things.

On 1 April ‘Michael Jones’ made an attempt to voluntarily liquidate the company, but this was thwarted by a person unknown objecting. Much to the chagrin of Rowena Williams. But why would she be so upset, because the company has nothing to do with her any more? Officially.

Before it was Plas Glynllifon the address for this new company switched from the Knighton Hotel to Unit 3, 37 Watling Street, Leintwardine, Herefordshire. I shall have more to say on the second of these in a minute.

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been investigating Paul and Rowena Williams is that a few of those involved in this saga seem to have switched sides, or it may be difficult to tell who they’re working for. One of those I’m thinking about is Keith Rolfe.

Formerly a local government planning officer in Cornwall handling applications from Paul and/or Rowena Williams for Polvellan Manor he is now working from home as a consultant and advises Team Williams and their crew, including Michael Jones, presumably.

Then there’s the “expert” mentioned in this report about the ‘unsafe’ gardens at Plas Glynllifon, “Matt Jackson, from consultancy Land and Heritage”.

As I mentioned in the previous posting, Land & Heritage Ltd is a new company, Incorporated 8 August 2017. Among the directors we find Simon Travers Humphreys. In addition to being a director of Land and Heritage Humphreys also works for Pell Frischmann. This company has worked for Polvellan Manor.

Land & Heritage are even looking after the bats at Glynllifon according to their website, which tells us that “Heating a section of the cellar has proved a highly popular nursery for young lesser horseshoes”. If bats use a cellar it’s because it’s a substitute cave, and therefore cool. Heating it could be disastrous.

If I was Land & Heritage I’d stick to trees and shrubs.

It seems obvious to me that Land & Heritage Ltd has been set up as a sideline to make money by providing whatever bullshit the likes of Paul and Rowena Williams need produced to promote their projects. That being so, nothing produced by Land & Heritage need be treated seriously.

The extract below from the minutes of Looe Town Council 14 June 2016 confirms that Keith Rolfe and Simon Humphreys were already on Paul Williams’ payroll two years ago.

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In previous posts on Paul and Rowena Williams I mentioned Dudley James Cross, who we’re told works for commercial property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton. But does he? I ask because he’s been associated with Paul and Rowena Williams for a decade and a half.

During the Open Days last month Cross was even showing people around Plas Glynllifon.

Here’s a planning application in Herefordshire from 2008. Paul Williams wanted to erect holiday chalets behind the Mortimers Cross Inn. What name do we see against ‘Agent address’ but Lambert Smith Hampton of Northampton. In other words, Dudley James Cross.

And I’ve turned up his name in other planning applications associated with Paul and Rowena Williams and their companies. We know Cross has even been a director of the Williams company Leisure and Development Ltd.

Given this long association, and added to the fact that LSH was the agent for Plas Glynllifon during the ‘Wynnborn’ fiasco, it’s possible that Cross is the one responsible for introducing Paul and Rowena Williams to Gwynedd. So are they in partnership?

I ask because the chronology of the crazy property dealing conducted around the time of the purchase of Plas Glynllifon fits. Much of this involved ‘buying’ property they already owned at inflated prices in order to raise cash through loans and mortgages.

Whatever the relationship between them, Cross has been involved in some very dubious transactions and dealings, false reporting, and God knows what else. How does Lambert Smith Hampton feel about that?

LEINTWARDINE

An address that crops up regularly in the constant changing of the correspondence address for the various Williams’ companies, is Unit 3, 37 Watling Street, Leintwardine, a village in north Herefordshire.

Now 37 Watling Street is a residential property on an unprepossessing street in a sleepy border village, and Unit 3 is a shed accessed down an alleyway at the side of 37 known as Wardens Lane. It also seems to be home to a recycling company. This shed must get a bit crowded!

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So who might we find at Unit 3? The answer is John Duggan, or to give him his full name, John William Thomas Duggan. Not only does he work out of Unit 3 but it seems the area down Wardens Lane qualifies as a business park. Which may be stretching things.

Of more importance for this report is the fact that John Duggan served a lengthy prison term after being convicted in May 1998 of fleecing an elderly widow out of nearly £700,000. At the time he was a director of Hereford United Football Club, and it’s from a club website that I got this report.

Here’s another report from the Free Library.

There are crimes of passion, there are stupid things done in the heat of the moment, often under the influence of alcohol or drugs; revenge, lust, hate and a host of other motivations can trigger criminal behaviour, then there are acts – à la Jean Valjean – committed out of necessity . . . but Duggan’s crime was none of these.

His was a cruel and calculating crime carried out over a lengthy period of time against a helpless old woman with no one in the world to help her; for she had lost her husband and, more tragically, her son. So this bastard ripped her off.

Yet Paul and Rowena Williams have no qualms about associating with Duggan, no problem with using Duggan’s address for their companies, over and over again.

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Which would be bad enough, but it doesn’t end there.

John Duggan, through his company J D Accountancy (a company for which I can find no details anywhere), is responsible for the accounts of Team Williams companies. Or maybe I should rephrase that, because they don’t seem to be accounts so much as ‘Unaudited Financial Statements’.

Duggan drew up the latest Unaudited Financial Statement for Leisure and Development Ltd, up to 31.01.2018. It’s worth reading. This is the company we are asked to believe was taken over 1 February 2018 by ex-con Keith Harvey Partridge and his mate, failed financial whizz kid Sukhbinder Singh Heer. (Though Paul Williams remained a director.)

In the Unaudited Financial Statement produced by Duggan I was particularly struck by the heading, ‘4. Staff costs’, which seems to suggest that the various hotels and other businesses had no employees. There were dozens. Then again, this might be explained by what I’ve been told about staff being paid in cash. In fact as much business as possible is done in cash. Paul Williams is a great one for the brown envelopes.

There were ten Charges (debts, loans, mortgages, debentures) against Leisure and Development Ltd before the company was ‘sold’ to Partridge and Heer, with an eleventh taken out 4 May, after the supposed buyout. This one seems to bundle up all the previous Charges and suggests that they are now transferred to Plas Glynllifon Ltd, which makes no sense.

Because if we are to believe Paul and Rowena Williams they no longer have anything to do with Partridge, Heer and Leisure and Development Ltd. So why is their new company Plas Glynllifon Ltd listed as the ‘Borrower’ on the Charge taken out by a company they no longer own?

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I’d appreciate professional advice on these arrangements. Also for the figures contained in the Unaudited Financial Statement for Leisure and Development Ltd, up to 31.01.2018, because some of the figures appear to be incredible. And here I mean incredible in the sense of being unbelievable. Unacceptable.

But if true, then they should worry anyone having any kinds of dealings with Paul and Rowena Williams.

At the end of the day, we have to ask why Paul and Rowena Williams associate so closely with two men, in Duggan and Partridge, who have been to prison for serious crimes of theft. (And might even have met in prison.) They must know these men’s records.

To pretend they don’t know what these men have done is unacceptable. To argue that they’ve ‘served their time, etc.,’ facile. Paul and Rowena Williams do business with Duggan and Partridge because they’re crooks.

Experience of life and knowledge of Paul and Rowena Williams suggests they use the undoubted accountancy skills of John Duggan because for the right price he’ll give you what you want, no questions asked. Which means that no figures presented by Paul and Rowena Williams can be trusted.

As for Partridge, his background is also useful in the scam he’s working now with Paul and Rowena Williams, that has raised millions and millions of pounds in complicated mortgage deals and phoney sales, money that might soon disappear in a puff of smoke along with those holding it.

Then what of Rolfe, Humphreys, Cross, Jones, Reynolds and the others – do they realise what crooks they’re working with?

CONCLUSION

I am no longer sure we are dealing with chancers trying to make a few quid by duping politicians, planners and civil servants; we may instead be dealing with a major criminal enterprise covering a wide geographical area, from Cornwall to the Marches, to Gwynedd, and up to the Scottish border. Perhaps involving serious criminals and organised crime.

Paul and Rowena Williams may not even be the main players.

I suspect the police are now taking an interest. And not just the police, for the UK government has lost a considerable amount of money due to the activities of this gang. And I have been promised yet more information about Paul and Rowena Williams. It’s unending!

And what of our (or somebody’s) ‘Welsh’ Government, which I’m sure has given large amounts of cash to these crooks? I have submitted a FoI request, but I don’t expect an answer any time soon. It would obviously help if we had an opposition around that foetid pool that is Cardiff Bay, but they’re all too busy jostling for position and advancement.

With any luck they’ll fall in and drown. But then, rats can swim.

Fuck ’em; the spineless, collaborating bastards bereft of dignity, vision, and ambition for Wales; making our homeland easy prey for the scumbags we read about here. May they rot in hell, an individual hell each must share for eternity with whomsoever and whatsoever most offends their delicate sensibilities.

Weep for Wales.

♦ end ♦

 

Jun 292018
 

PLAS GLYNLLIFON

This is the third instalment of my gripping narrative dealing with shysters, con men, crooks, liars, asset-strippers, and assorted low-lifes. To bring yourself up to speed I – and my agent – recommend that you read Weep for Wales and Weep for Wales 2 before proceeding.

As I mentioned in my previous posting, there were Open Days at Glynllifon on Sunday and Monday (the 24th and the 25th). And despite my absence it all went swimmingly . . . if we are to believe Rowena Williams and the hitherto unknown Land & Heritage Ltd, who seem to have had a big hand in arranging the event.

So now you’re asking, ‘Who are Land and Heritage Ltd?’ The answer is that it’s a new company, formed less than a year ago, and based in Cornwall, where Paul and Rowena Williams have enjoyed a number of triumphs. They may still have business interests down there, who knows with those two?

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You will note that according to the panel above, from the Land & Heritage Facebook page, Team Williams showed people around the house with its impressive fixtures and fittings, while “Matt, Sarah and Dudley presented plans for future projects and developments”. The BBC was also in attendance.

‘Matt’ I assume to be Matt Jackson, director of Land & Heritage. I’m not sure yet who ‘Sarah’ is (but I know somebody’ll tell me). Of more interest though, is ‘Dudley, who I’m almost certain is Dudley James Cross, Regional Head of Building Consultancy at Lambert Smith Hampton. A company, you may remember from the previous instalment, mentioned in this report from the Daily Post of two years ago as the ‘agent’.

I suspect that LSH was involved in the liquidation of the company that previously owned Plas Glynllifon, or perhaps not involved in the liquidation itself, but with finding a new buyer while the liquidation was proceeding. As we’ve seen on his Linkedin profile, Cross has worked for LSH for 22 years, but that hasn’t stopped him branching out, because from 7 June 2016 until 1 February 2018 he was a director of Leisure and Development Ltd, the main vehicle for Paul and Rowena Williams’ property empire.

According to the documents filed with Companies House, Cross’ address is given as Plas Glynllifon, and his Country of residence as Wales; yet his Linkedin profile tells us that he lives in Northampton. Can’t both be right, can they?

Anyway, Cross ceased to be a director of Leisure and Development Ltd on 1 February, when the company and its assets – including the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne – were allegedly taken over by convicted thief and fraudster Keith Harvey Partridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer (of whom more later).

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If Plas Glynllifon has really been bought by Paul and Rowena Williams, and everything’s tickety-boo, and with him no longer a director of Leisure and Development Ltd, why isn’t Cross back at his day job with Lambert Smith Hampton? Or does LSH still have some interest in Plas Glynllifon?

This may be a good point to give some information on the recent history of Plas Glynllifon.

On 7 November 2000 a company called Glynllifon Ltd was Incorporated with Companies House. Next, on 2 April 2003, this company bought Plas Glynllifon from Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, with a mortgage from the NatWest Bank.

This company stayed afloat – with help from Cyngor Gwynedd and the Welsh Development Agency – until the AIB group called in a receiver 3 July 2013. Glynllifon Ltd finally slipped beneath the waves when it was dissolved 24 June 2017. By which time Plas Glynllifon had been bought by Paul and Rowena Williams.

Their company Plas Glynllifon Ltd bought the mansion on 19 April 2016 for £630,000. Though you might not know that from the title document, which simply refers to “land adjoining Glynllifon College”. To complicate matters there is no map available from the Land Registry.

But Cyngor Gwynedd assures me that Title No CYM127981 covers Plas Glynllifon.

Aerial view of site (April 2009), courtesy of Google Earth. Plas Glynllifon is in the centre of the picture. Click to enlarge

Since the purchase of the mansion just over two years ago, Plas Glynllifon Ltd has taken out no less than six mortgages or loans with our old friends, the pay day lenders of the commercial property market, Together Commercial Finance Ltd. So maybe it’s time to take a closer look at this company.

Together Commercial Finance Ltd was until very recently known as the Lancashire Mortgage Corporation, part of Jerrold Holdings Ltd controlled by Henry Moser. Censured by the City watchdog in 2012 and with a host of complaints against it from customers – even a petition! – this group is the lender of last resort for those who cannot borrow from banks and more reputable lenders. Designed for people like Paul and Rowena Williams.

To confirm what I’m saying just do a quick search for Lancashire Mortgage Corporation, Blemain Finance, Monarch Recoveries, Henry Moser. Interestingly, Together/Lancashire seems to allow buildings to lie empty, which is what we see happening in Powys and just over the border; and, may be the fate awaiting Plas Glynllifon.

When I’ve got a few days to spare I might try to work out how much Paul and Rowena Williams owe to Together Commercial Finance Ltd. (I hope my calculator’s up to it!)

MEANWHILE, BACK IN POWYS

Despite the sunny weather enjoyed by all at Glynllifon clouds appeared on Rowena Williams’ Facebook page with voices from the recent past, reminders of the businesses they used to – perhaps still – own on both sides of the central border.

Oh! what a tangled web we weave . . . 

From Rowena Williams’ Facebook page. (Click to enlarge.)

Be that as it may, in the official, Williams, version, the properties owned by Leisure and Development Ltd have all passed to Keith Harvey Partridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer. Now Partridge we know is a convicted thief who had to downsize following his spell in prison. But what of Heer?

At one time he seems to have been a high flier, a managing partner at accountancy firm RSM Robson Rhodes, but he left under a cloud in May 2006 and the once ambitious company he’d led was taken over by Grant Thornton in 2007. The Financial Times referred to Heer’s “sudden resignation”. (This may be the link, but there’s a paywall.)

So how has Heer kept lupus lupus from his portal since bankrupting RSM Robson Rhodes?

In 2011 he joined a firm based in Assembly Square, Cardiff. And although this report from WalesOnline mentions Heer’s association with RSM Robson Rhodes it neglects to tell us the circumstances of his departure. Which is no less than I would expect from a ‘news source’ that does little more than repeat press releases.

Later, with Sukhpal Kaur Heer, perhaps his wife, he formed SSH Associates Ltd. This company entered the ring 5 July 2013 and went down without landing a blow on 26 April 2016. Sukhpal Kaur Heer was involved with another firm that seemed to take a dive, H & H Ventures Ltd.

Another company of Sukhbinder Singh Heer’s that formed and dissolved without apparently doing any business was Premium Hotels Ltd; Incorporated 28 June 2013 and ‘dissolved via voluntary strike-off’ 31 May 2016. The other director of this spectacularly inert enterprise was Keith Harvey Partridge.

The Companies House record for Premium Hotels Ltd. Why bother? (Click to enlarge.)

If nothing else, this tells us that Partridge and Heer have known each other since at least 2013. But when did Partridge drift into the joint consciousness of Paul and Rowena Williams?

If we are to believe Rowena Williams she met Partridge just once . . . perhaps when he skidded to a halt outside the Radnorshire Arms in answer to their ‘Property Empire for Sale!’ advert in Exchange and Mart.

But as I mentioned in the previous post, Partridge stayed a number of times at the Radnorshire Arms, and female staff there found him “unpleasant”.  I have since learnt that he also stayed at Mortimers Cross Inn, Leominster, after Paul and Rowena Williams bought the place in October 2001. So Rowena Williams either suffers from amnesia or she’s a liar.

(I bet it took you a long time to work out which!)

On other fronts, local politicians have been involved. The Tory MP for Brecon and Radnor, Chris Davies, responded thus: “I have received a number of emails from constituents who are concerned about this and have asked me to find out more. To begin with I have written to the owners requesting an urgent meeting at both of the sites to be able to discuss what their plans are and to gain further information. Furthermore, I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance in the Welsh Government to request further information and I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to gain this information as well.”

The obvious question is – ‘Who does Chris Davies think owns the Radnorshire Arms?’ If he thinks it’s Team Williams then they’ll say, ‘We’ve sold it – nothing to do with us, guv.’ And if he’s written to Partridge then I suspect he’s got a long wait.

Local Lib Dem AM Kirsty Williams, answered with, “Obviously these allegations are hugely concerning. I just wanted to let you know that I have raised them with the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates AM, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM and the BCU Commander for Powys, Superintendent Jon Cummins.”

So there you are – Ken ‘Flint Ring’ Skates and Lord ‘Principality’ Thomas are on the case! What could possibly go wrong?

Stop laughing! It’s not nice to laugh.

THINKING ALOUD

We’ve assembled quite a cast here.

First, we have Paul and Rowena Williams, who buy properties, then sell them to themselves at greatly inflated prices. Which apparently is just fine, nothing wrong in this at all.

The funding for these purchases comes from a finance company with an appalling reputation and track record.

The Williams properties outside of north Gwynedd appear to have been sold to a company run by a convicted thief and con man and a man who single-handedly destroyed a thriving and ambitious accountancy firm before setting up what suspicious souls might view as shell companies.

These businessmen then leave the properties they ‘own’ – often listed buildings – empty and decaying. But not to worry, because word is that all the valuables have been removed.

Meanwhile, and having, allegedly, divested themselves of everything outside of the Caernarfon area Paul and Rowena Williams focus their attentions on the Glynllifon estate, now estimated to be a £20 million project. I shall repeat that for the hard of reading – the estimate for the Glynllifon project is twenty million pounds.

This estimate, remember, comes from people who are up to their eyes in debt, and they’re not in debt to your friendly High Street bank!

Talking of debt, why do all roads lead to Manchester, and the city’s property/financial sector? What are the connections?

Is Lambert Smith Hampton still involved with Plas Glynllifon or is Dudley Cross freelancing? Cross ceased to be a director of Leisure and Development Ltd on 1 February following the ‘takeover’ by Partridge and Heer, so if he is involved with Glynllifon shouldn’t he now be a director of Plas Glynllifon Ltd?

The pictures I’ve seen from the Open Days, pictures of four-poster beds, tasteless statues and Louis XIV pool tables, may have drawn ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the carefully primed crowd, but it could all be packed onto the backs of a few lorries one dark night. How much has been spent on Plas Glynllifon that cannot be removed?

Louis XIV pool table (cliquer sur l’image pour l’agrandir)

A point may soon be reached when Paul and Rowena Williams go to Cyngor Gwynedd, the ‘Welsh’ Government, maybe a few other bodies, saying, ‘We’ve run out of money, you can’t leave this wonderful old building half finished now can you – so slip us a few mill’. If there’s resistance, then public opinion will be mobilised and pressure applied.

Given the disappointments of the past two decades, first with Glynllifon Ltd from 2001 to 2013, then the Wynnborn nonsense in 2015, they may be hoping there’s a desire in official quarters to just get the bloody place finished, and so money will be handed over.

I repeat my advice to Cyngor Gwynedd and the ‘Welsh’ Government: You are dealing with unscrupulous people – just check their records – so make it clear to them NOW that there will be no public funding to complete Plas Glynllifon.

Unless of course, such promises have already been made. In which case, we should indeed weep for Wales.

♦ end ♦

 

Jun 192018
 

TO RECAP . . .

This is in the form of an update, following further information, doing a bit more research, and generally just thinking about what we’re dealing with. If you haven’t read the original piece I suggest you do so now, it’ll help you make sense of this offering.

The big picture – so we’re told – is that on 1 February Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams sold off their assets in Powys, Herefordshire, Cornwall and God knows where else to focus on the properties they’d acquired around Caernarfon.

Among those assets was the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, bought in August 2015 for £3,487,049.

The vendor was Rowena Claire Williams and the buyer was Leisure and Development Ltd, a company she’d set up with her husband just a few months earlier. In effect, they’d ‘bought’ a property they already owned at what most agree was a greatly inflated price.

Which posits the obvious question: who did the valuation?

But it wasn’t just the Radnorshire Arms that was sold/bought.

There was also the Knighton Hotel, in the town of that name. (Though formerly known as The Norton Hotel.) The title document tells us that this was sold for £2,881,599, which would seem to be a fair price for a substantial hotel (everything apart from the ground floor on the extreme right of the picture below).

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The problem, as with the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne, is that Paul and Rowena Williams already owned the building, and so once again they ‘sold’ it to themselves in the form of Leisure and Development Ltd.

The third example is the Castle Inn in Wigmore, near Leominster. (Formerly known as The Compasses.) Here again, the title document tells us that the transaction was done “between (1) Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams and (2) Leisure & Development Limited”. And the sum mentioned is £1,269,720.

As with the other ‘purchases’, money came from the NatWest Bank. The same pattern and chronology as with the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne, the Knighton Hotel, and other properties. Also, two changes of name during the ownership of Paul and Rowena Williams.

It seems to me that the purchasing of the Williamses’ property portfolio in 2015 boils down to three possibilities:

1/ Transferring property from themselves to their company, yet pretending they’d bought it from a third party and taking out mortgages or loans to purchase the property, is perfectly legitimate.

2/ What they did amounts to mortgage fraud. In which case the lenders must be informed. Though if this is the case, why wasn’t it noticed by Paul and Rowena Williams’ solicitors who dealt with these non-sales, Beaumonts Solicitors of Hereford?

3/ If these non-sales were illegal, and everyone involved knew they were illegal, then we’re dealing with a major crime.

ENTER KEITH HARVEY PARTRIDGE, THE MONEY MAN

To believe the Williamses – or Rowena Williams, who often does the talking for them both – all these assets bought in 2015 were sold on 1 February 2018 for approximately £10 million pounds to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Partridge. But were they really sold?

It’s an important question because Partridge (or ‘Partdridge’) certainly became the “Person with Significant Control” over Leisure and Development Ltd on 1 February. Then on 22 April he was introduced to the staff at the Radnorshire Arms as the new owner and told them that their hotel, and others, would be closed for 8 – 10 weeks for refurbishment and ‘re-branding’. After which they’d be able to apply for their old jobs.

Now if it’s true that Partridge became the owner of these properties on 1 February then the loans or second mortgages taken out with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle after that date are his.

But of course there is an alternative interpretation, which might run thus . . . Needing to raise more money, but knowing they’ll experience difficulty raising it themselves, Paul and Rowena Williams go through the charade of ‘selling’ their property empire to Partridge.

Partridge approaches Together Commercial Finance, saying, ‘I need loans to buy all these properties from Paul and Rowena Williams’. The lender sits him down, pours him a drink, and says, ‘Delighted to help, Mr Partridge – how much do you want?’, then hands over the lolly. Partridge takes his cut, plays his role as the new owner, and everybody’s happy . . . except of course the dozens of people who’ve just lost their jobs.

In an attempt to give substance to this charade paperwork is submitted to Companies House saying that Partridge is now the head honcho. But as yet, nothing has been filed with the Land Registry to tell us that ownership of the properties allegedly sold to him have actually been transferred to Keith Harvey Partridge.

Though it might also be worth mentioning that Paul and Rowena Williams were themselves dealing with Together Commercial Finance before Partridge – apparently – appeared on the scene. This report about Plas Glynllifon from the Daily Post of 22 February 2017 tells us, “They . . . have agreed a finance package with Together in Manchester. They are also in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support.”

This “finance package” was presumably for Plas Glynllifon. But surely they didn’t need it after Partridge came to the rescue with his £10m buyout?

Or am I wrong for thinking that more money has been raised by various means – much more – than has or will ever be spent on Plas Glynllifon and the other projects. 

Incidentally, Rowena Williams insists that she hardly knows Partridge, having met him just once. Yet I am reliably informed that he stayed at the Radnorshire Arms a number of times when they were running it. I’m also told that female staff found him “unpleasant”.

INTRODUCING RIKKI, THE RUGBY FAN. BLESS!

Another reason I have my doubts about Partridge’s real role is due to the situation at Seiont Manor. We know it’s owned by Paul and Rowena Williams yet the entry on the Companies House website tells us that the sole director for Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd is Rikki John Reynolds. Sole director usually indicates owner, but not in this case.

Rikki John Reynolds – erstwhile manager at the Chang Thai Bar and Restaurant in Ludlow – is simply fronting for Paul and Rowena Williams. It could well be the same with Partridge. It begins to remind me of the wonderful ‘buffers’ scene from the Godfather.

Rikki John Reynolds, click to enlarge

Staying with Rikki John Reynolds for a minute, I received an interesting comment to my previous post, and the comment read:

“Myself and 2 other night porters were laid off by Paul and rowena on purchasing Seiont Manor hotel. When I spoke with one director he Rikki Reynolds said our jobs are safe days later we got our marching orders.
May I also add there does seem to be a massive amount of directors in the company. Every manager was pushed to be directors. I belive you don’t pay as much tax to directors. I can confirm the kitchen porter who has disabilities was unfairly dismissed. Meetings were had with him by Rrl telling him what he should do. Manipulating him!
The maintenance manager was fired because he took a authorised holiday.
They also started knocking down walls in a grade 2 listed building which was occupied by some very rare bats prior to planning consent in the grounds of Seiont Manor
That’s just for starters….”

The bit about “Every manager was pushed to be directors” might not only explain Reynolds’ position at Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd but also chimes with something else I was told about employees of Paul and Rowena Williams being registered with Companies House as directors without their knowledge. This perhaps explains the lengthy list of directors at Leisure and Development Ltd in the company’s short life.

I’m fairly sure it’s illegal to register someone as a director with Companies House without their consent.

Quite a number of these directors at Leisure and Development have their address at the Knighton Hotel, including a Frenchman and a Romanian. No less than ten of the directors ‘resigned’ on 1 February 2018 (including Rowena Claire Williams and Plas Glynllifon Ltd), the same day Partridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer became directors, making up a trio with Paul Steven Williams.

Which throws up another curiosity. We are asked to believe that on 1 February Paul and Rowena Williams sold Leisure and Development Ltd and the properties the company owned to Keith Partridge, so why is Paul Williams still a director of a company we’re told he’s sold?

And who is the latest addition to the board, Sukhbinder Singh Heer, and how does he fit into the picture? Answers on the proverbial post card please.

I know Heer was a non-executive director at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust. Interestingly, perhaps, Rowena Williams was involved with Age Concern Birmingham, and Partridge has also dabbled in that market with Coast to Coast Care Ltd.

THE MANCHESTER DIGRESSION

One thing that struck me as I trawled through news reports and official documents was that Manchester kept cropping up.

For example, the loans or mortgages that Paul and Rowena Williams took out to buy the properties in 2015 were with the NatWest Bank plc at Hardman Boulevard in central Manchester. The loans or second mortgages taken out in 2017 and 2018 were with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle.

This report from the Daily Post of August 2015 tells us that the sale of Glynllifon was being handled by “David Currie of David Currie and Co”. I couldn’t find a company of that name, but I did find a David Currie listed with Winterhill Largo Property Ltd. The liquidation process for this company started soon after the report I’ve linked to. The liquidators were based at 3 Hardman Street in Manchester, just the other side of Hardman Square from Hardman Boulevard, where we found NatWest.

Currie has had a number of property companies. There’s Broad Tree Management Ltd, which has interesting paperwork attached to it. Then there’s David Currie Ltd, which is dormant. Next there’s D. Currie Consultancy Ltd, which is at least alive, but barely. There are also others that have fallen by the wayside.

How did this real-life Ol’ Gil (from the Simpsons) get the Glynllifon gig? This report from the Daily Post dated 10 June 2016 mentions “agent Lambert Smith Hampton”, which I know is a major company, but it too has an office in Manchester . . . in fact, at 3 Hardman Street, the same building as the liquidators for David Currie’s company Winterhill Largo Property Ltd.

And then of course we have the report I linked to earlier, telling us that Williams was dealing with Together Commercial Finance in February 2017, making it reasonable to assume that these negotiations started in 2016. But did he find them, or did they find him?

I mention these Manchester connections because people in the same line of work, or linked industries, often know each other. I can imagine the word spreading in the city’s finance-property sector about a ‘big mansion in North Wales’ and the desperate need to find and fund a buyer – any buyer!

Perhaps the desperation was due to recent bad publicity over the ‘Wynnborn’ bollocks leading to official and governmental bodies ready to accept any buyer, with few questions asked.

NEWS FROM THE FRONT (AND THE BACK)

We are now asked to believe that Paul and Rowena Williams have moved to Caernarfon and are devoting all their energies and talents to their acquisitions in that area. The truth may be rather different.

To begin with, they have an exclusive residence just over the border from Powys. Two children attend a private (day) school in Hereford. They maintain a flat at the Knighton Hotel, and are regular visitors to the properties they’ve ‘sold’ to Partridge, often seen taking yet more stuff away. Rowena Williams was at the Radnorshire Arms yesterday loading stuff into her car.

This, remember, is a property she and hubby are supposed to have sold over four months ago!

Talking of which, I’m told that when Paul Williams was complimented on the antiques and collectibles he’s piled up at Glynllifon, he explained that he has “agents all over the world” looking out for interesting pieces for him.

Can’t you see it! a global network of antiques experts working for Paul Williams; Paris, New York, Milan, St Petersburg, Barcelona, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Shanghai . . . . Oh, yes, that must be the explanation.

The beer garden at the Radnorshire Arms, will it ever see customers again? Click to enlarge

Now I hear that a petition is being circulated, and enthusiastically signed, by residents of Presteigne and other communities, demanding that politicians and others find out what the hell is happening to all the properties once owned by Paul and Rowena Williams, properties that were ostensibly sold to Keith Harvey Partridge, properties that were supposedly closed for refurbishment on 16 April for 8 – 10 weeks but ain’t seen hide nor hair of any workman to carry out the promised refurbishment.

It’s almost as if, once the buildings have been milked for the money, they become surplus to requirements.

And yet, the irony must be that it was the closure of the hotels, and their treatment of the staff, that drew attention to Paul and Rowena Williams, Partridge and the rest of the gang. It’s certainly why I got involved. If they’d just kept the hotels open they might have got away with it.

There’s a lesson there for all of us . . . especially those perpetrating mortgage fraud and property scams.

∼ 

WHERE’S OUR MONEY?

One reason for asking that question is that Williams has told people in Caernarfon that he now owns four hotels in the area but plans to soon have eight. Lucky Caernarfon!

Also, I know that the Radnorshire Arms and the Knighton Hotel have received six-figure sums from the ‘Welsh’ Government, hundreds of thousands of pounds has been suggested. Now they lie empty and derelict, the staff laid off and the small communities in which they sit suffering as a result.

And what of Cyngor Gwynedd? Is it reasonable to assume that after the ‘Wynnborn’ fiasco they were so glad to find another buyer that they went along with Paul Williams without checking on what sort of a character he was? A few seconds Googling would have turned this up.

Come to that, who actually owns Plas Glynllifon, because I can find nothing on the Land Registry website. I’m told that the ownership is ‘complicated’, but surely it’s not a state secret. Have the Williamses really bought it?

The callous behaviour of this gang has has already affected the lives of dozens of people and damaged communities. To help those they claim to represent the ‘Welsh’ Government, Cyngor Gwynedd, Powys council, and other public bodies, must recover all public money given to this gang and, if possible, find buyers who will re-open the Radnorshire Arms and the other establishments.

But a start must be made today, by henceforth adhering to Uncle Jac’s Golden Rule – Not a penny more!

Then we need explanations for why things were allowed to go so far. A little openness and honesty is required, even if it does cause embarrassment in official circles. And if, as so many believe, criminal offences have been committed, then legal action must begin.

This can also start today.

♦ end ♦

 

Mar 242016
 
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.

 

Mar 212016
 

TO RECAP . . . 

You will recall that in the previous post dealing with the highly questionable disposal of publicly-owned land by the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales we encountered two Guernsey-based companies, Imperial House Investments Ltd (Incorporated 30.11.2013) and South Wales Land Developments Ltd (Incorporated 01.02.2014) both of which had just two directors, Langley Davies and Jane Pocock.

It became clear that South Wales Land Developments was set up to serve as a vehicle for the real purchaser in the land deal with RIFW, Sir Gilbert Stanley Thomas, originally of Merthyr, but now resident in Guernsey. So what might be the purpose of Imperial House Investments Ltd?

The obvious question, to me, was, ‘Is there a specific Imperial House that might answer the question?’ Yes, and unsurprisingly it’s to be found on Imperial Park in Newport, listed among the publicly-owned assets disposed of by the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales.

RIFW Land Sales

IMAGE COURTESY OF BBC WALES

As I shall explain below, Imperial House was bought by Langley Davies and South Wales Land Developments on behalf of Stan Thomas in the controversial ‘portfolio disposal’ of RIFW assets. But is there anything in the pipeline – as with the housing planned for the Lisvane land – that might affect its value in an upward direction? And come to that, does SWLD still own Imperial House?

The answer to the first question is that Imperial Park will be very close to the projected M4 relief road / ‘black route’ announced by Edwina Hart in July 2014, which is bound to increase its value. ‘But wait!’ I hear you cry, ‘Imperial House Investments Ltd of Guernsey was created in November 2013, a full eight months before Redwina spoke’.

Which could suggest that Stan Thomas and Langley Davies are gifted with second sight . . . or there may be a more mundane explanation

The answer to the second question is where it gets interesting. For Imperial House – or at least, part of it – is now owned by yet another Guernsey-based company involved in these shenanigans.

Here are the details and the documentation.

Imperial House was bought on July 13th, 2012, from South Wales Land Developments Ltd by Imperial House Investments Ltd – a company that didn’t officially exist until November 2013 – for the sum stated on title number WA701104 as being £1,750,000. Here is a link to that document, and here’s a link to the plan of the site, showing the land bought bordered in red.

Then, on October 26th, 2015, it appears that part of the Imperial House site – known as “Phase II” – was sold for £3,853,823 (title number CYM664986) to Oxenwood YPL (Investments) Ltd of PO Box 25, Regency Court, Glategny Esplanade, St Peter Port, Guernsey GY1 3AP. Here’s a link to the title document, and here’s a link to the plan of the site, with the Oxenwood purchase bordered in red. It’s worth comparing the two plans.

So what do we know about Oxenwood? Not a lot. I couldn’t turn up anything for Oxenwood YPL (Investments) Ltd. (And what does YPL stand for anyway?) There is however an Oxenwood Real Estate LLP based in London which might or might not be connected. Though Imperial House doesn’t show in its portfolio.

While searching for Imperial House I did turn up an advert for offices for hire in Imperial Courtyard, which forms part of the Imperial House purchase. The agent is Lambert Smith Hampton, the company that advised RIFW on the sale of its assets.

Imperial Courtyard

PICTURE COURTESY OF https://propertylink.estatesgazette.com

The building is shown above, with Unit 6 being the ground floor. Is this still owned by Stan Thomas or was it part of the sale to Oxenwood Real Estate LLP, which might have been no more than Stan Thomas selling from one of his Guernsey companies to another?

(To save you taking your socks off, 4,134 sq ft x £15.00 = £62,010.)

Or is this a new build on the “c1a (circa one acre) development site” that was part of the Imperial House transaction? And if “Unit 6” is offered in this ad can we assume that there are at least five other units?

Another big question is – how much did SWLD pay the RIFW for Imperial House? Whatever the answer we can be sure that it will be a very good deal for Sir Gilbert Stanley Thomas.

Reminding us that while the Lisvane site may be the ‘jewel in the crown’ there are a number of other lucrative elements to this portfolio sale by the RIFW that the media may have overlooked.

THE DELOITTE REPORT, INTRODUCTION

One thing that’s become clear as I’ve looked at the RIFW story is how the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party and its laughable ‘Welsh’ Government has procrastinated and dithered, how hard it has tried to stop the truth emerging while simultaneously trying to distance itself from the fall-out. Among the tactics employed has been to regularly trot out the line that the RIFW is an “arms-length” organisation.

The Deloitte report that we shall now consider might also be seen as another bit of procrastination, another effort to buy time in the hope that the critics would get tired and give up. The report was presented to the ‘Welsh’ Government on August 8th, 2013. Its findings are so conclusively damning that it should have resulted in immediate action, but those clowns down Cardiff docks continued to dither.

Before progressing with a detailed look into the Deloitte report I also recommend that you read Owen Donovan’s Oggy Bloggy Ogwr blog, where you will find an excellent analysis of this scandal stage by stage and learn how the Assembly and the ‘Welsh’ Government have handled it. Here’s a link to his most recent contribution, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap VI: The Debate and you can work back from there to read the earlier pieces.

Click on the title to open the full report, Welsh Government Peer Review – RIFW Asset Portfolio Disposal and keep it open in another window. I know I always say this, but this time I really mean it – please set aside an hour or so to read the report through. I should warn you that it is redacted, but not so heavily as to detract from the seriousness of its findings. (Though of course it did make me wonder, given what is left, how damning were the redacted parts.)

I shall now list what I consider to be the most important of Deloitte’s findings, page by page, but before that maybe I should explain who’s who, and what their roles were.

  • Chris Munday is the civil servant behind the creation of the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales. There is surely a knighthood awaiting Mr Munday . . . or possibly a posting to the Gurnos community centre (personal injury insurance provided).
  • Lambert Smith Hampton is the commercial property consultancy that advised the RIFW on the sales, through its Cardiff office headed by Lee Mogridge, with input from Jeremy Green who is based in London.
  • Amber Infrastructure was the other RIFW adviser and is now considering taking action against LSH. (The second link contains the sentence, ” . . . they [the Public Accounts Committee] were concerned that one of the company’s [LSH’s] employees was working for both RIFW, which was selling the sites, and South Wales Land Developments, which was buying the site.” This is also referenced in this report from 2013 into the internal governance of the RIFW – page 29 iii – but the individual is not named.)
  • The public interest was supposed to be have been safeguarded by the five people appointed to the RIFW Board by the ‘Welsh’ Government. These were Richard Anning, of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Englandandwales; Ceri Breeze, a ‘Welsh’ Government civil servant; Richard Harris, another apparatchik; Chris Holley, the former Lib Dem leader of Swansea council; and Jonathan Geen, of Acuity Legal, the Endgame Group, and, more recently, Bellerophon Scotland, plus of course, South Wales Land Developments Ltd and, ultimately, Stan Thomas.
THE DELOITTE REPORT (by page and column heading)

Page 12: Note that the original value put on Imperial House was £5.2m, yet SWLD was able to sell the property to Imperial House Investments Ltd for £1.75m, so I ask again, how much did SWLD pay for Imperial House? And remember, the £5.2m value was given before anyone knew of the M4 ‘black route’ coming right by Imperial House.

Imperial House

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Page 14 Observations: January 31st, 2011: “The Investment Manager’s Report and the Minutes of the Board Meeting at which this document was discussed make no mention of consideration of a portfolio disposal”. Suggesting that the original intention was to sell the lots individually, or perhaps in batches.

The reference in the lower box to Imperial House could be interpreted as someone trying to drive down the asking price.

Page 15: This theme of driving down the supposed value of Imperial House continues.

Page 17 Description: The reference in the lower box makes it clear that by March 28th, 2011, an offer has been received to buy all the properties in a “portfolio disposal”.

Page 21 Observations: It seems clear that Deloitte cannot understand why the Realisation Value of Imperial House has fallen since 2011, and no explanation is offered.

Page 24 Description: This tells us that in the early part of 2011 there were a number of companies interested in the RIFW land, it lists them. Legat Owen, for example, had a client interested in all the sites in the north. But the job lot had already been promised to Stan Thomas.

Page 25 Observations: Lambert Smith Hampton – the Investment Managers to the RIFW, entrusted with securing the best possible deal for these public assets – has not advertised the properties but has “informally canvassed” likely purchasers.

Also note something I commented on in my previous post. Jonathan Geen is dealing with Langley Davies of South Wales Land Developments, Stan Thomas’ front man, but SWLD didn’t officially exist!

Page 26 Observations: Read it all. “No advertising took place” says Deloitte. Though there are more vague references to “informal canvassing”, making it clear that the deal was already done and dusted.

Page 27 Description: Some time before April 21st, 2011 it was known that an offer had been made by Stan Thomas. May 10th, 2011, Langley Davies says that Stan Thomas (through GST of Guernsey) will be lending him the money to make the purchase “at 3% over interbank rate”. So Langley is the real purchaser, with Stan just lending him the money?

               Observations: On April 21st, 2011, Board member Jonathan Geen declares a “potential conflict” (of interests). AT WHICH POINT HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE OLD HEAVE-HO FROM THE RIFW.

Page 28 Description: Here we learn that the “portfolio offer letter from GST Investments Ltd” was received on March 4th, 2011.

Also that, “LSH met Sir Stanley Thomas and Langley Davies to discuss the sale” on March 30th, 2011. Was no one else present?

Page 29 Description: Value of Imperial House downplayed, again.

Page 30 Description: At 20th April, 2011, we learn of the first written evidence of LSH recommending acceptance of the Stan Thomas offer. We also learn that Carwyn Jones and the “IM” were informed of this development.

We also see yet another mention of no due diligence carried out with regard to GST or SWLD.

Pages 32 & 33: With a few minor caveats the Board decides by the end of April 2011 to (officially) accept Stan Thomas’ offer.

Page 38 Description: Lambert Smith Hampton “writes to Martin Pollock of Barclays Wealth (acting for Stan Thomas) accepting an offer of £22.5m based on three staged payments” on June 15th 2011. Anyone who’s been paying attention will have noted that this purchase figure has changed a few times.

               Observations: Note Deloitte’s curious and rather worrying mention of the Board’s recorded vote.

Here’s some more information on the Board, “From January 2011, the Board comprised five voting members: two Welsh Government officials (one of whom served as Chair), a Welsh Local Government Association representative and two external members appointed following an advertised public appointments process. Although Welsh Ministers appointed the Board members, under the LLP model all of the Board members had a legal responsibility to act in the interests of RIFW, even if those interests were not entirely aligned with those of Welsh Ministers(?). LSH told the Committee that they felt the composition of the Board contained the right expertise for this venture.”

I’m quoting there from the January 2016 report by the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (page 18). Which goes on to say, “The small size of the RIFW Board meant that its capacity to discharge its responsibilities was weakened when a conflict of interest regarding the portfolio sale to SWLD arose when one of the external members, Jonathan Geen, started to act as the legal advisor to SWLD on the sale transaction.”

Further documentation on the Public Accounts Committee investigation is available here.

Page 39 Description: It is noted on July 22nd 2011, Redrow offers “£2m unconditionally for the Bangor site”. This offer was made to Lambert Smith Hampton’s Manchester office. Why didn’t Redrow go to the Cardiff office handling the sale? Did they know something?

Whatever the answer, this offer seems to have slipped through the floorboards, though of course we should remember that the deal with Stan and Olly had already been stitched up by then.

Page 40 Description: Heads of Terms between RIFW and Newco Ltd (acting for Stan Thomas), July 15th, 2011,“describes the sale of 18 properties, but it also states that RIFW may not be in a position to dispose of Imperial House and Garth Park”.

                Observations: “Jonathan Geen is noted as the purchaser’s solicitor”.

Page 44 Description: Against the date November 15th, 2011, we read, “Purchaser is now TBC – a Guernsey Registered Holding Company wholly owned by St Lawrence Property Investments Ltd, registered in UK and funded by GST”. 

St Lawrence Property Investments can be found at Unit 6, Imperial Courtyard, the property for rent we looked at earlier. Its directors are Langley Davies and Jane Pocock, but as a new face we have a Karen Davies, who could be Langley’s wife or, given that she was born in the same month as him, his twin sister.

This company, Number 07545621, was Incorporated February 28th, 2011, and before moving to Newport its address, until August 17th, 2011, was 3 Assembly Square, Britannia Quay, Cardiff Bay. The same address as Acuity Legal, where Jonathan Geen is listed as “Partner – Real Estate”.

If St Lawrence Property Investments was registered at 3 Assembly Square, the address of Jonathan Geen’s company, Acuity Legal, and Incorporated on February 28th, then it’s reasonable to assume that Geen was representing Stan Thomas and Langley Davies some two months before he confessed to his “potential conflict” on April 21st. It may have been longer.

THOUGHTS

The ‘Welsh’ Government seems to think that the RIFW fiasco was all over with the Public Accounts Committee report in January. That was certainly the opinion of Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities . . . the very communities that have lost out by RIFW not realising anything like the potential of the assets it was entrusted with.

RIFW Lesley Griffith

We have since learnt that the ‘Welsh’ Government is getting tough, and earlier this month it was announced that there are plans to take legal action against Lambert Smith Hampton, which has also been referred to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

This is the very least the ‘Welsh’ Government could do, because the performance of LSH leaves only two possibilities:

1/ Those allocated by LSH to the RIFW contract were so utterly inept and unprofessional that they should never be given another job more complicated than a house sale.

2/ The company, or one or more of its employees, was in the pay of Langley and Stan, which is what is suggested by more than one source. If an employee of LSH was simultaneously working for the RIFW and the Langley and Stan show, then surely that person can be prosecuted?

It is therefore wholly correct that Carwyn and his posse should ride off into the sunset in pursuit of the LSH gang. But I don’t understand why Jonathan Geen has been allowed to leave town unmolested. I’m assuming he’s left Cardiff, for as I suggested just now, he seems to have moved to Scotland, where he is currently starring on the Bellerophon Scotland website, now calling himself ‘Jon’ Geen but using the same, Acuity, photograph. (Open out for full profile.)

Jonathan Geen was appointed to the RIFW Board in December 2010. The Terms and Conditions of his appointment can be found here (page 31). I’m linking again to the somewhat neglected report, published in April 2013, into the governance arrangements of the RIFW, written by Gilbert C. Lloyd FCA CPFA. You can read it for yourself, but I can save you the trouble by telling you that Mr Lloyd concludes that the RIFW is a bit of a shambles.

The penultimate Duty reads, “Acting in the best interests of the Fund”. Was it possible for Jonathan Geen to act in the best interests of the Fund while also serving Langley and Stan? His responsibility to the Fund should have meant maximising its profits, yet the gruesome twosome wanted to pay as little as possible for the land.

The final Duty says that the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s Seven Principles of Public Life are adhered to. Read them and you may think that Jonathan Geen broke most of them while acting as a Board member of the RIFW, supposedly safeguarding the public interest.

So why was Jonathan Geen allowed to take the high road?

RIFW Jonathan Geen

PICTURE COURTESY OF ACUITY LEGAL

CONCLUSIONS

The Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales was a cock-up from the outset. A perfect example of what goes wrong when civil servants and politicians with no knowledge of the real world try to deal with ‘businessmen’. Setting up the RIFW in the manner it was done was like tethering a goat and waiting for the predators to appear.

Another contributing factor was that, despite its grandiose ambitions, Cardiff remains a relatively small city, and those in particular sectors – such as property sales and development – will almost certainly know each other. Not only professionally, but also socially. Perhaps they’ll belong to the same Lodge or golf club.

While I consistently argue for contracts and jobs to be given to local companies, in the case of the RIFW land disposal, the contracts should have been dispersed to people unknown to each other. This must be borne in mind for all similar business in future and, indeed, more generally when awarding contracts.

For as I travel around Wales I notice signs on development sites telling me that the architect, or the surveyor, or the agent involved, is based in Cardiff, and almost certainly got the contract because he is close to the ‘Welsh’ Government, perhaps in more senses than one.

So let’s learn from the RIFW scandal and in future spread the contracts and the wealth they generate around the country.

All that said, the ultimate blame for the Welsh people being deprived of £200m or more does not lie with Langley Davies or Stan Thomas, Jonathan Geen or anyone at Lambert Smith Hampton, for these were simply being true to their natures. No, the blame lies squarely with the ‘Welsh’ Labour Government down Cardiff docks.

The Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales was a disaster waiting to happen, and it was obvious as early as March 2011 that the disaster was playing out, that there were conflicts of interest, that companies showing interest in doing deals were being cold-shouldered in favour of a single buyer, who seemed to be known to all involved, and was at the very same time making a tidy profit out of selling Cardiff airport to the ‘Welsh’ Government!

And while this tragedy was unfolding those buffoons were hiding behind the ‘arms-length’ defence. Yet the RIFW was their creation and they could have stepped in at any time to protect public assets. And that’s exactly what they should have done. It was their duty.

The response of the wretched Lesley Griffiths sums up not only the ‘Let’s move on’ attitude of her administration, but also ‘Welsh’ Labour’s complete lack of ambition for Wales, which could be summed up with, ‘Ooo, we’ve got about 5% of what these assets should have realised – isn’t that wonderful’!

As I’ve said, these clowns will be asking for your vote again in May. Anyone who votes Labour does not – cannot – have the best interests of Wales at heart. Vote for anyone but Labour!

Let’s get the Labour monkey off Wales’ back!

Mar 152016
 

Back in October 2012, on my old Google blog, in the post Wales: Sicily Of The North, I touched on the emerging story of publicly-owned land being sold off rather cheaply by the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales. Sold to the mysterious, Guernsey-based company, South Wales Land Developments.

Information on the deal was sparse in 2012 beyond the fact that the public face of South Wales Land Developments was one Langley John Davies. As I said back in 2012, “a busy boy, our Langley”, who’d been involved with many companies, but of course information on SWLD was sparse because it’s based in Guernsey.

Some information on SWLD has since filtered into the public domain, this tells us that there are only two directors, Langley Davies and Jane Pocock. Davies has some background in property, but most of his companies seem to have been in finance and loans, perhaps for vehicle purchase.

Pocock’s background as a director was exclusively in vehicles – vans by the look of it – until she joined Davies in another Guernsey-registered company, Imperial House Investments Ltd (Incorporated 30.11.2013), and then South Wales Land Developments.

Lisvane

You’ll note that nothing has ever been filed for either Imperial House Investments Ltd or South Wales Land Developments. And while the role of SWLD will be explained below, I can’t begin to guess at the purpose of IHI. (All suggestions welcome.)

Clearly, Davies and Pocock were unlikely buyers of parcels of land in various parts of Wales, and probably didn’t have the £21m needed to complete the purchase. And although the report from September 2012 tells us that the land has already been transferred to South Wales Land Developments, SWLD wasn’t incorporated in Guernsey until the first of February 2014.

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This was all rather confusing until we learnt last year that the initial offer for the land came from GST Investments, also of Guernsey, and that GST stands for (Sir) Gilbert Stanley Thomas, brother to Peter Thomas OBE; scions of the House of Pies founded by their father Thomas Stanley Thomas, who died last year aged 98.

The quid pro quo for Davies and Pocock distracting attention from Sir Stan might have been him becoming a director of their company Vans Direct Ltd, Company Number 06971144, in September 2013 . . . and no doubt investing ‘a little something’ in repayment for services rendered.

So here are two, linked, questions:

  • Seeing as the original purchaser in March 2012 was Stan Thomas, why has the ‘Welsh’ media avoided mentioning his name, and that of his company, GST Investments?
  • Why have we been repeatedly told that these parcels of land were sold, in March 2012, to a company, South Wales Land Developments, that didn’t officially exist until February 1st, 2014?

We know now that Langley Davies and Jane Pocock were fronting for Stan Thomas, and were no doubt paid well to hide his involvement in the purchase, but why would Thomas have felt the need for this subterfuge?

Part of the answer might lie in the fact that around the same time as the land sales were being ‘arranged’ he and brother Peter were benefiting from another lucrative deal at the expense of the Welsh public purse. This was the sale of Cardiff airport to the ‘Welsh’ Government for £52m.

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The airport had been owned by Glamorgan Country Council and then its successor councils of Mid, West and South Glamorgan until another round of local government reorganisation saw the facility privatised and sold to TBI plc in April 1995. So what do we know about TBI?

A 2004 BBC article tells us, “Stanley Thomas, now 62, started TBI with developer Paul Bailey in the early 1990s, and the firm became a fully listed company on the Stock Exchange in 1994”. True . . . up to a point. The original company, Incorporated on August 8th 1972, was called Markheath Plc, Company Number 01064763

Markheath changed its name to Thomas Bailey Investments Plc in March 1994 and to TBI Ltd in 2009. Clearly using the surnames of Paul Bailey and Gilbert Stanley Thomas to give us TBI. Though Paul Bailey only served as a director of TBI from 28.03.1994 to 28.02.1996, while Thomas became a director on the same date but stayed on until 04.01.2005.

And yet, another curiosity is that TBI seems to have been in existence before Bailey and Thomas became directors. As of September 5th 1992 – eighteen months before they joined – we find five directors, named Springer, Haines, Creber, Rendle and Westcott. While another who became a director at the same time as Bailey and Thomas was a Paul Meyrick Guy. Check out the full list of directors here.

The influx of Iberian names post January 2005 can be attributed to the fact that in 2004 TBI became a subsidiary of (90% owned by) the multinational, Barcelona-based Abertis Infraestructuras SA.

TBI figures

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Before proceeding maybe we should establish who Paul Meyrick Guy is. He lives on Rudry Road in Cardiff or, to be more exact, in the suburb of Lisvane. Rudry Road meanders out into open country, under the M4 and on towards the Rhymni river, through the kind of green fields so coveted by ‘developers’. And wouldn’t you know it – he’s a neighbour to Peter Thomas!

Paul Meyrick Guy has held many directorships . . . many, many directorships. In his 61 years among us Guy has held no less than 111 directorships. Is this a record?

Having mentioned Peter Thomas it struck me as strange that he was never a director of TBI like his brother. Though in the BBC report I linked to earlier, headed ‘Brothers go from pies to planes‘, it says, “The brothers, from Merthyr Tydfil, own almost a fifth of TBI’s shares“. In the graphic above we see that in 2012 TBI’s net worth was £408,634,000, so work it out for yourself.

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It became known in the early part of 2013 that Cardiff Airport had been sold to the ‘Welsh’ Government. And although sold for £52m the site was independently valued in the £20m – £30m bracket, suggesting that the ‘Welsh’ Government paid well over the odds.

According to the article I’ve just linked to, “Ministers bought Cardiff Airport from its Spanish owners Abertis for £52m”. Note that in this report – and other reports at the time – the Thomas brothers’ company, TBI, has now vanished from the picture. But as I explained above, TBI still owned Cardiff Airport, but TBI was now owned by Abertis.

Thomas Brothers

To put the price paid for Cardiff Airport into perspective, consider this: Also in 2013, the Scottish Government bought Prestwick Airport for £1, and Prestwick is a ‘real’ airport, with transatlantic flights.

Also owned by TBI-Abertis was Belfast International Airport, enjoying passenger numbers over four times higher than Cardiff. It too was sold in 2013, to a US company, as part of a package that also included Stockholm Skavsta Airport, terminals at Orlando Sanford in Florida, and an airport management business in the USA. The package price was just £244m.

If Cardiff, with less than one million passengers a year, and airlines abandoning the facility like the proverbial rats, was worth £52m then Belfast must have made up almost all of the package price in the other sale with Stockholm, Orlando, etc., thrown in for good luck!

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The latest news in the land sale scandal is that the ‘Welsh’ Government plans to begin legal proceedings against Lambert Smith Hampton, the company that advised the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales with the valuation of the land. But is LSH the right target? And even if it is, should it be the only target?

There is an obvious and understandable desire on the part of Carwyn and his gang to deny political opponents ammunition, to look ‘strong’ (don’t laugh!), especially with elections coming up in May, but it’s all pointless window dressing.

I say that because the problem exposed by the sales of Cardiff airport and the prime development land reaches deep into the Welsh body politic, and exposes associated weaknesses in the media and elsewhere.

I have always argued that Wales is Europe’s Third World. The greater part of the country is ignored and allowed to decline while investment is poured into the capital at the behest of – and for the benefit of – business interests that don’t give a damn about Wales or the Welsh people. Devolution has only made things worse.

The warnings were there at the very outset, when Lord Crickhowell – formerly Nicholas Edwards MP – and his gang at Associated British Ports, manoeuvred the newly created Assembly into taking out a punitive lease on Crickhowell House, owned of course by ABP, and then to build the new Assembly building on land owned by ABP rather than take over Cardiff City Hall, or Swansea Guildhall which had clearly won Ron Davies’ ‘competition’.

And let’s remember that this crew had already made a killing with the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, using public money to redevelop land owned by ABP. Where was the ‘Welsh’ media when this scandal needed to be exposed?

The ‘Welsh’ media is the Cardiff media, and will support anything it believes is in Cardiff’s interests, even when done at the expense of the rest of Wales. (The city region project and the ‘improvements’ demanded for the M4 being ongoing examples.) And when it comes to powerful individuals like Nick Edwards and the Thomas brothers then men like these are beyond scrutiny and above criticism.

Which explains why few if any Welsh people are aware that the Thomas brothers made a killing out of the sale of Cardiff Airport – because according to the ‘Welsh’ media the vendor was a totally unconnected Spanish company!

Equally, in the land deal, Stan Thomas has not been mentioned in the mainstream media, we’ve only been told of his mouthpiece, Langley Davies, and South Wales Land Developments, a company that exists in name only.

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Let’s be blunt. We are dealing here with corruption. Corruption and incompetence at the very highest levels within a devolved system. Facilitated by a ‘Welsh’ Labour Party that knows nothing about business and can be given the runaround by any shyster spinning a line.cash dispenser

The aforementioned ‘Welsh’ Labour Party then deludes itself into  believing that it creates a ‘balance’ by investing in the Third Sector. But here, again, it is given the runaround by parasites in it for no one but themselves. Here’s a very recent example.

And what benefits do we, the Welsh people, see from the enrichment of Cardiff businessmen, or the billions poured into the Third Sector? We see nothing – this is the cause of our deprivation.

This is Wales in the twenty-first century; the perfect storm of a devolved administration that is little more than a cash dispenser being run by people who understand nothing of the world beyond political debate and who are preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals and interests.

No matter who you vote for in May, nothing will change. This system cannot be tinkered with, or improved from within, it must be swept away. Wales needs a revolution, and a fresh start. Independence, and a new capital far from Cardiff and its malign influences, is the only answer.