One Planet Developments

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

This is a subject I’ve tackled before; I’m returning to it because the problem seems to be spreading, yea! even unto the city of my dreams.

This is another ‘biggie’ but, as usual, broken down into easily-digestible chunks. Enjoy!

INTRODUCTION

For those new to the subject, One Planet Developments were introduced and encouraged by the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition management team (2007 – 2011), at the instigation of – among others – Jane Davidson, who served in that team as the Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing.

The issue being addressed was, we were told, how Wales could play its part in saving the planet. Yet this excuse was – as we political commentators are wont to put it – bollocks. The lie is exposed by the claim that OPDs will reduce Wales’ carbon footprint – by attracting more people into the country.

For Wales is the only country on Earth to allow OPDs. No one else has been so stupid.

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The true motivation was that Davidson’s ‘alternative’ friends wanted smallholdings in Wales but didn’t want to pay commercial property prices. Enacting legislation –TAN 6 strengthened with the Well-being of Future Generations Act – allowed hippies to settle just about anywhere by claiming OPD status, then demanding – and getting! – planning permission for structures that no one else would be allowed to build.

This meant they could set up a smallholding on a shoestring.

Her work done in Corruption Bay, Davidson moved on after the 2011 election to take advantage of the group-think she had helped engender. A post was created for her at UWTSD Lampeter with the Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness (INSPIRE), a department that began life with her arrival in January 2012.

Perhaps in the hope of disguising the relationship between the Labour Party and higher education, and to give her some academic credibility, Davidson is billed as ‘Dr Jane Davidson’, but her doctorate is purely honorary, and from another Labour-linked institution in Pontypridd.

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Predictably, ‘Dr’ Davidson lives on a smallholding of her own.

MOVING EAST

The majority of OPDs are to be found in Pembrokeshire and west Carmarthenshire, but as I’ve suggested, they’re creeping east.

Earlier this month a planning application was submitted to Carmarthenshire County Council for a OPD at Llansteffan. To be exact, in ‘Pentowyn farm yard’. Here’s the full planning application.

Pentowyn farm is located across the Tâf estuary from Dylan Thomas’s boathouse at Laugharne. Nice.

Note that the work on this OPD started on 1 May last year, so it’s taken over a year for what is now the retrospective planning application to be submitted. Which is how OPDs operate, knowing that no matter what the local planning authority might say, the ‘Welsh Government’ or the Planning Inspectorate will always grant planning consent.

To help you follow the tale, here’s the plan submitted with the planning application. It shows a long, thin section of land to the east and north east of the farm buildings, with a more compact area to the south and south west, on the other side of the road. The planned buildings are located on this second area.

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A number of things struck me about this application. First, the agent is Tao Wimbush; and if that name rings a bell, then it’s because he is a hetman in the Lammas commune not far away, up towards Crymych.

I’d always assumed that these enviro-colons were vegans, or at least, vegetarians – so why is there a ‘butchers unit’ and a ‘mobile refrigeration unit’ at this OPD? But then, Wimbush is only the agent, the adviser.

The applicants are Mark and Ann Oriel, and even though their company name as given on the planning application is ‘Lammas Earth Centre’, and their address that for the Lammas commune, I suspect the Oriels live in Bancyfelin, and Mark runs a slap, rub and squeeze outlet in nearby Sanclêr. (No, not that kind of establishment.)

Which might suggest he too lacks the necessary background in the butchering of livestock and the preparing of meat for sale. So why the ‘butchers unit’? (I wish to God people would use apostrophes.)

Certainly, the Oriels own the land to the east of the farmhouse, the land edged in red on the Land Registry title document plan (scroll down). But the land to the south of the farmhouse, where the shack and the butcher’s building will be located, is not on that title document. So who owns that land?

When I tried to get the document from the Land Registry I drew a blank. The land is either not registered or not yet re-registered.

Copyright Ordnance Survey. Click to enlarge

If you go back to the planning application (20) you’ll read, ‘A butchers unit for processing meat grown on the farm’. I’m not sure that the Oriels have enough land to graze many animals so this must refer to other land.

When asked if neighbours or the local community have been consulted about the proposed development (23) the applicant answers, ‘I have discussed the proposal with my direct neighbours’. So who are the ‘direct neighbours’?

The farm buildings and the land down as far as the road are owned by a woman living in Sketty, Swansea. Shown here edged in red on the Land Registry title plan. I suspect they (or some of them) have been converted into holiday cottages.

Copyright Ordnance Survey. Click to enlarge

The land across the road to the south east, adjoining the land for which planning permission is sought, is owned a local farming family. Are they the ‘direct neighbours’?

Copyright Ordnance Survey. Click to enlarge

The more I think about this, the weirder it seems. We have a hippy asking for planning permission for a sports therapist to have a OPD complete with what reads like a mini abattoir. And we don’t know who owns the land on which the new buildings are to go.

Is someone using the near-certainly of planning permission being granted for an OPD to get consent for something that might otherwise be difficult to get past the planners and other authorities?

If so, then this is a dangerous development, and might signal that OPDs are now being used in a way that I’m sure was not intended by the buffoons who agreed to this idiocy back in the days of the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition.

ANOTHER STRANGE ONE

Someone has also directed me to a property being advertised by Rees Richards, a long-established firm of estate agents in Swansea and the surrounding area. The company was advertising a property with ‘Potential for ‘One Planet’ development (subject to planning)’.

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As we know, planning is never a problem for OPDs, so we can take that for granted.

Of course, if someone wanted to repair and renovate the old house then they wouldn’t need planning permission for an OPD. But that house needs a lot of work, and it would cost a lot of money.

So I assume that the house and the outbuildings are not the big selling point.

Certainly, Cwm-Garenig is a bit off the beaten track, and there’s no mains electricity, so that might attract potential OPD dwellers. But it’s still only 19 acres, and the area round about has been mined for centuries.

I’d hate to switch on the Evening News to hear that, ‘Police and rescue teams are still searching for survivors after a yurt-full of tofu tasters disappeared today down the old Number 9 shaft . . . ‘.

Wouldn’t that just be too, too awful!

Cwm-Garenig marked on both maps

It seems to me that Rees Richards is selling 19 acres of land, some of it possibly unstable. Not only that, but we have a Swansea-based estate agency cottoning on to the possibility of bumping up the price of low value land by adding the magic letters ‘OPD’.

Clearly, this is no longer a rural thing, as you’ll learn from reading on.

If estate agents and others have latched on to the fact that OPDs are a sure-fire way of getting planning permission for dwellings in open country (and maybe not just open country), then who knows where it might lead?

It certainly leads us to Swansea.

BRIGHTON COMES TO GOWER

I introduced this scam scheme to you in Miscellany 06.06.2020, just scroll down to the section ‘Brighton Greens discover Gower’. It’s called the Furzehill Project. Here’s the link to the article from which the image below is taken.

The Brighton gang goes by the name of the Ecological Land Cooperative (ELC) and want two smallholdings on an 18 acre site it bought in December 2017. These smallholdings will be of 5.5 acres each because the rest of the land is already being used by the ELC’s local partner, Cae Tân CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

Though there are very few locals involved with Cae Tân and so it’s questionable how well it’s supported by the wider community.

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The leading light in Cae Tân would appear to be Anthony ‘Ant’ Flanagan, who has set up a string of companies, none of which seem able to survive without public largesse, and at least one of which has entered into a disastrous partnership.

It may be worth listing these companies, seeing where their money comes from, and checking on their fates. (CIC means Community Interest Company.)

I suspect that the inspiration for all these start-ups in June 2015 were the municipal energy companies in England, such as Bristol Energy. But Bristol Energy is docked in Shit Creek. The council is hoping to find a buyer.

Others are Robin Hood Energy in – where else? – Nottingham, which lost £23m last year; and Victory Energy in Portsmouth, which in May had its licence revoked by Ofgen.

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So why did Gower Power enter into a deal with Bristol Energy in January?

These council-owned energy companies end up costing council taxpayers a hell of a lot of money. We know that Swansea council has been very generous to Ant Flanagan, so how indebted are my fellow-Jacks as a result of this generosity?

Ant Flanagan and his playmates are responsible for the arrival in Wales of the Ecological Land Cooperative of Brighton, who want the smallholdings at Ilston.

A point I made about the planning application in the earlier piece was that letters of support for Furzehill were coming in from all over England but there were few letters from locals. Well that’s changed. And the locals haven’t held back in their criticisms.

If we click on the ‘Comments’ tab, then from local residents we read:

‘This is nothing more than a vanity project from a group of opportunists who are hell bent on claiming community grant subsidies and then feeding that funding through its various other side projects . . . ‘.

Another writes:

‘ . . . In the meantime small farmers trying to scratch a living from the earth are being displaced by larger cooperatives, being unable to compete with grant led, subsidised or community funded groups.’

A third says, referring to OPD legislation:

‘The Ecological Land Coop, an organisation based in South England, would not be likely to be investing money in land in Wales if this planning law applied equally to England.’

This writer continues:

‘As a former organic market gardener, serving people in and around Swansea by growing and selling through a veg box scheme between 1994 and 2018, I no longer even try to compete with these market rigging opportunists.’

While a another objector has this to say:

‘I object about this proposal on two grounds
That this a means of laundering and misappropriating WG and any LA grant funds, rather than a being of benefit for local produce growers/vendors, many of which are being put out of business because of the practices unscrupulous organisation.

There were other objections along similar lines. Arguing that these people are exploiting OPD legislation, they’re only here because of easy access to public funding, which then helps them under-cut genuinely local growers and companies. Some objectors make specific claims of dishonesty.

How the hell did we get to a situation where we are funding interlopers to put local people out of business?

Because . . .

Wales is a land of make-believe, especially when socialists are in charge, and image is more important than reality. Being seen to do the right thing has become more important than actually doing the right thing . . . and far, far easier.

Which is how we end up with One Planet Developments, and the mantra that Wales can show everyone how to save the planet. Idiocies that are welcomed in the Guardian, cheered by superannuated hippies in California, and will have Eco-capitalists from Sweden to Australia rubbing their hands with glee as they think about how many bird-slicing, flood-causing wind turbines they can erect on our hills . . .

The kind of headline the ‘Welsh Government’ loves to see. But does it provide any benefits for us Welsh? Not in this life! Click to enlarge

There are no material benefits for us Welsh from OPDs, and wind turbines, and saving the planet, yet we are lectured that it’s done for some greater good, and for generations to come. Intangible and unquantifiable benefits that may never materialise. But then, virtue signalling is so much easier than coming up with a serious economic strategy for Wales that might create business opportunities, careers and jobs.

When you think about it, the message being put out today by the ‘progressive’ parties in the Senedd is not a lot different to that preached in earlier times by clerics in the pay of landowners and industrialists. It runs, ‘There’s nothing for you in this life, but if you’re virtuous and obedient then your reward is in heaven’.

Those clergymen were serving someone else’s interests, not the interests of those to whom they preached. And it’s the same with the ‘Welsh Government’ today.

‘FARMLETS’

In the companies listed for ‘Ant’ Flanagan you may have noticed Killan Solar CIC, which converted in 2017 into Community Benefit Society Gower Regeneration Ltd.

Anthony Flanagan appears to be still in charge, but with other directors on board, prominent among them, Roy Kenneth Church. The Church family has for many years run the Gower Heritage Centre at Parkmill, which seems to be the base for most of the Flanagan Companies.

Roy Kenneth Church is also a director of Swansea Bay Community Energy Ltd, which has now been deregistered and for which documents are no longer available on the FCA website. Yet another ‘Energy’ company, and given the name, this one suggests ambition on the scale of the municipal failures we looked at earlier.

Though on the FCA document Church is also listed as a director of Swansea Bay Community Energy Two Ltd, for which I can find nothing. Did a ‘phoenix’ company rise from the ashes of Swansea Bay Community Energy Ltd?

Church is also one of the two directors of Tourism Swansea Bay Ltd which, despite the grand title, is a shoestring outfit based, again, in Parkmill. But at a different address to the Gower Heritage Centre.

Then there’s Gower Power Solar Ltd, where we find Church, Flanagan and John Christopher Whiten. The only documents filed, in October 2017, tell of a dormant company. Possibly linked with Gower Power Co-op CIC, where we find Flanagan and Whiten among the directors.

But back to Killan Solar CIC which metamorphosed into Gower Regeneration Ltd.

The name ‘Killan’ refers to a couple of farms which give their name to a road in Dunvant, on the western outskirts of Swansea. We need to focus on the land to the right of the land outlined in red on this plan of Killan-fach farm, Land Registry title number WA289902.

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The land we’re looking at is covered by title number WA289901.

There we find a solar complex owned by Gower Regeneration Ltd, with Roy Kenneth Church and Ant Flanagan as directors. The money to build the complex came in the form of three loans from Finance Wales Investments. All three loans remain outstanding.

So, in a sense, you and I own those solar panels because like most things we look at in this piece – they were paid for with public money that has yet to be repaid.

A request for pre-planning application guidance has been made to Swansea council for this land. Land that seems to be owned by Dunvant SBG Ltd. The only director of which is Roy Kenneth Church.

Dunvant SBG was formed in 2001 and the five outstanding charges go back almost as far. Roy Kenneth Church was a director from 24 December 2001 until 1 October 2009, and then rejoined in September 2019, probably following the death of his father.

Covered by Land Registry title number WA289901. Click to enlarge

The plan being hatched, it seems, is to build an ‘Eco village’ of 12 ‘farmlets’. Yes, ‘farmlets’. What a twee word, I wonder what idiot thought that up? I ask because even though the land seems to be owned by Roy Kenneth Church the pre-application submission came from Gerald Blain associates of Whitland.

‘Farmlets’ of 2 acres or less. Not much bigger than decent-sized allotments. What the hell is going on? (Here’s a link to the council website.)

Equally perplexing is why Church couldn’t find an architect in Swansea, which might have spared him a trip to Whitland. But wait! Whitland . . . now who do we know in that area? Why, Tao Wimbush’s postal address is Whitland. And having a background in architecture himself I’m sure he knows Gerald Blain and his mate Mark Sanders.

Gerald Blain Associates seems to be another shoestring outfit. The latest accounts at Companies House show total assets of £49. Confirmed by Company Check. Why would Church rush down west to hire this lot?

I say Church, but the applicant for these ‘farmlets’ is named as a Captain Steve Croaker. But I cannot find a Captain Steve Croaker. Who is he? Does he even exist?

UPDATE 01.07.2020: ‘Captain Croaker’ has been identified. He is Steven William Crocker of Cefn Gwlad Solutions Ltd, though I’m assured he has other strings to his bow. A Swansea man with strong links to Roy Kenneth Church and Parkmill.

What we have is an area on the edge of Swansea where development is not permitted because it would result in Dunvant, a part of the city, merging with the village of Three Crosses, viewed as Gower. But OPD promises a way around this problem.

Because anyone who could get planning permission for substantial properties sitting in an acre or more of land, with Gower on the doorstep, could rake it in.

Gerald Blain mentions OPD more than once in his submission. He makes a big play on how difficult it is for young people to get into farming. Which may be true, but this is not farming. You won’t see any of the old Gower families on these ‘farmlets’.

For they are intended for the friends of Tao Wimbush, and the land-grabbers from Brighton. Using OPD almost as blackmail – “If you don’t give us planning permission we’ll scream ‘OPD’ and our friends in Corruption Bay will give us what we want”.

The council clearly sees what’s behind this plan – expensive dwellings in the green belt with planning permission obtained by subterfuge. This extract from the council’s response to Gerald Blain makes that clear.

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It seems very unlikely that the council will look favourably on this project when it’s discussed at 2pm today (Monday). It may be possible to follow proceedings by installing this Microsoft app.

But what happens if the mysterious Cap’n Croaker appeals to the so-called ‘Welsh Government’? Will those clowns allow it?

CONCLUSION

The problems with OPD go beyond what I’ve listed here.

For example, a lady in Powys writes to me regularly with tales of a family that thinks OPD status gives them carte blanche to erect other buildings, to dump vehicles, etc. The parents and adult children who live on this OPD cause havoc on a narrow access track.

It seems they’re now looking for someone to sell what little they produce in the way of vegetables because they’re too busy themselves at the jobs that take them away every day from the ‘OPD’!

One Planet Developments should be self-sufficient agricultural smallholdings, not a little place in the country from which you commute to your job.

The supine behaviour of Powys County Council towards this OPD encourages others to behave in a similar fashion.

Taking the lead from OPDs in Powys. Ain’t it cute? Click to enlarge

As might be expected, Powys County Council’s refusal to act, and local AS’s and MP’s unwillingness to get involved, not only encourages mess like you see in the picture, it drives out decent residents and it deters investors.

I shall return to problems in Powys in more detail at a later date.

Information comes in from various sources about OPD problems in other areas.

For example, a reliable source who has provided information before writes:

‘What I can tell you briefly is that the most, if not all, of the plots at Tir y Gafel are no longer Lammas as such but are freehold properties that can be brought and sold without restrictions.

This is a game changer.’

This source also advises that the hub, central to the Lammas community, and built with funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change in London, has been abandoned because it is structurally unsound.

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Furthermore, it is now surrounded by freeholders unwilling to take responsibility for what was intended to be a shared, community building. Presumably it will now be allowed to fall down.

Another source directed to me to certain Facebook postings. Here’s one from David Thorpe of Cynefin Community Land Trust.

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What’s being promoted here is a new village, a new English village in Wales. And note how this new village will be tagged onto ‘an existing settlement’, just like the ‘farmlets’ in Dunvant. OPDs were not supposed to be new suburbs.

Thorpe is a patron of the One Planet Council . . . along with Jane Davidson.

Here’s another contribution from Thorpe.

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Andrew Slade? Does that name ring a bell? It should. Slade is one of the English civil servants who run the ‘Welsh Government’. He it was who took EU money off our farmers (Pillar 1) and transferred it to ‘Rural Development Projects’ (Pillar 2).

He’s worked with ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty, who’s rogering Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.

Together they’re all working to get Welsh farming families off their land – so they can be replaced by OPDs, and ‘rewilders’, and Mongolian yak herders . . . any bugger will do, just as long as they’re not Welsh.

This is naked racism. This is ethnic cleansing. Yet this is what One Planet Developments have become.

♦ end ♦




Plaid Cymru and the Welsh National Party

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

This is another lengthy and rather complicated tale but it boils down to a corrupt system seeking to defend itself from a man, and now a new party, determined to expose that corruption.

PLAID CYMRU RUNS TO THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION

After being hounded out of Plaid Cymru Neil McEvoy, with other Cardiff councillors, formed the Welsh National Party, or, in Welsh, Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru. The English version was accepted by the Electoral Commission but not the Welsh language version, rejected because it was too close to the names of existing parties.

I think this decision was wrong. Firstly, the names are clearly different, and for Plaid Cymru leaders to argue that Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru was the original name of their party is disingenuous, for that name had fallen out of use when I joined Plaid Cymru in the mid-1960s. Nor is it “widely used by Welsh speakers”. Plaid Cymru is ‘Plaid Cymru’ whether you’re speaking Welsh or English.

What’s more, party logos also appear on ballot papers, further reducing the chances of confusion.

Not satisfied with a draw, Plaid Cymru has now mounted a legal challenge to the name ‘Welsh National Party’, on the following grounds:

  • Irrational to maintain the registration of the name ‘Welsh National Party’ having rejected the registration of its Welsh translation, ‘Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru’
  • Failure to consider the high likelihood that, in Wales, the Welsh translation of the name ‘Welsh National Party’ would become commonplace in the context of the official legal status of the Welsh language
  • Failure to give adequate reasons to explain why the English name ‘Welsh National Party’ would be unlikely to cause confusion, having accepted that the Welsh name would cause confusion

To address the first point: The registration of ‘Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru’ was rejected because it might be confused with a name no longer used by Plaid Cymru. But even that absurd decision may not invalidate ‘Welsh National Party’ because it’s unclear if the name in one language must be a direct translation of the name in other languages.

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Second point: “In Wales”! – where else will the WNP be standing? While “would become commonplace in the context of the official legal status of the Welsh language” needs to be translated . . . into English.

Third point: The rather obvious answer is that ‘Welsh National Party’ is unlike the name of any existing political party. Making this an argument for accepting ‘Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru’ rather than for rejecting ‘Welsh National Party’.

Let us also remember that a few years ago, Plaid Cymru introduced the English language moniker, the ‘Party of Wales’. Though I can understand Plaid being miffed that it never caught on, because from Connah’s Quay to Chepstow people still say ‘Plaid Cymru’.

At the risk of labouring the point, Plaid Cymru is known by that name, and by that name only, all over Wales, and beyond, to speakers of Welsh, English, and all other languages.

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Another irony is that Plaid Cymru objecting to a party with ‘National’ in its name. Ironic, because since Dafydd Elis Thomas led the party in the 1980s, and the left took over, ‘nation’, ‘national’, and ‘nationalist’ have been frowned on in Plaid Cymru circles. The party now deals with the geographical expression ‘Wales’, and the people(s) of Wales.

But I suspect there’s more to this harassment of the Welsh National Party than simply trying to sabotage a putative rival. As I’ll try to explain.

But before that, and in response to these latest developments, Gretta Marshall, chair of the Welsh National Party has issued the following statement:

“The WNP is going from strength to strength. The Welsh name put forward is Y Blaid Genedlaethol. We felt this was a sensible compromise. There is no possibility of confusion with any other party in Wales. 

Statute law is clear. Once registered, a political party cannot simply be de-registered on a whim no matter who complains. Due process exists. Cardiff Council has already confirmed in writing that our Group of councillors in the Capital is a Welsh National Party Group. 

As Party Chair, I am overseeing our action. We have written to the Electoral Commission and the Speaker Committee of the House of Commons. 

The obvious thing would have been for interested parties to at least communicate with us. That did not happen, which is unfortunate. “

PLAID CYMRU, FRIEND OF THE UNION

I have long argued that from London’s perspective Plaid Cymru is the perfect ‘nationalist’ party (irrespective of how it might describe itself). For a number of reasons.

To begin with, Plaid always struggled due to the perception of it being a ‘party for Welsh speakers’. Something I encountered again and again when canvassing in the 1960s and 1970s. Being greeted on the doorsteps of east Swansea not with hostility, but an almost apologetic, “Sorry, love, we don’t speak Welsh in this house”.

That perception was a major obstacle to the party’s progress, and unfortunately it was not entirely incorrect. Which was a shame, because I knew so many who were not hostile to the idea of devolution or even independence, but they did feel excluded by Plaid Cymru’s over-emphasis on the Welsh language.

Support for what I’m saying came in September 1997, when the working class areas of Swansea voted heavily for devolution in the referendum. This was the picture from Swansea Bay to the Heads of the Valleys, the region of the shared accent, with the highest percentages of Welsh identifiers.

This region, containing almost half our population, should have been fertile ground for any party preaching radical change with a strong Welsh flavour. It is certainly the key to success in Wales.

But Plaid Cymru’s leadership, understanding little about the southern working class, believed that to appeal to this electorate the party needed to out-Labour Labour – by being more socialist!

But voters in the south supported Labour for the same reason stockbrokers in Surrey and hedge fund managers in Hertfordshire vote Tory – naked self-interest. Of course there were socialists among the Labour voters, but most put up with the leftie dreaming just so long as Labour delivered on wages and holiday pay and lower taxes.

But in its naiveté, Plaid’s out-of-touch hierarchy saw red flags, barricades and electoral success . . . but realised nothing more than a few false dawns.

And now, things are even worse, for Plaid Cymru seems to have abandoned the practical and self-serving ‘socialism’ of the old southern working class in which I grew up for lunacies straight off California’s campuses.

There are now elements in Plaid Cymru that dream of Antifa stormtroopers patrolling the streets cracking the skulls of anyone who looks suspiciously bourgeois. And if you haven’t read the Guardian that morning then you’d better run, boy. Click to enlarge

This combination of still being perceived as a Welsh language party while now insisting that 16-year-olds can have gender reassignment surgery on demand – and branding as a fascist transphobe anyone who disagrees – has as much chance of electoral success as I have of becoming chairman of Cardiff City Supporters Club.

But if you were sitting at a desk in London wouldn’t you adore a no-threat nationalist party like Plaid Cymru? Wouldn’t you do your best to support it . . . and slap down any rival threatening to expose and replace it?

Which is why I suggest there may be more to this quibbling over party labels than meets the eye.

Away from the hair-splitting, Plaid Cymru could be in its death-throes anyway. Having failed to win in the south (or the north east), and having done no more than retain its four seats in last December’s elections (and come no better than third anywhere else), Plaid Cymru is more penned in to its heartland than ever.

A socially conservative heartland that votes Plaid Cymru for very similar reasons to die-hard Labour areas in the south vote as they do – perceived self-interest and force of habit.

But through emigration and colonisation – issues Plaid Cymru has refused to confront (especially the latter) – it’s only a matter of time before people in these areas give up on Plaid Cymru and resign themselves to the Cornwallisation of what was Y Fro Gymraeg.

But if a new party emerges – be it the Welsh National Party or Gwlad – to address the problems of lack of investment, low wages, poor infrastructure, house prices, saturation tourism, etc., etc., then such a party could both outflank Plaid Cymru in its heartland and also appeal to those urban areas Plaid Cymru has scarcely penetrated.

PLAID CYMRU, LABOUR’S LITTLE HELPER

Despite all the huffing and puffing Plaid Cymru has no chance of blowing down Labour’s house. In fact, it’s not really trying. Because in Plaid Cymru’s weltanschauung Labour, despite being the dominant party, isn’t really the opposition, let alone the enemy.

No, comrade, the enemy is always the Conservative and Unionist Party. The Tories are no more or less Unionist than Labour . . . but of course they’re a party of the right.

Grasp that and you’ll realise that Wales’ constitutional relationship with England and the state of the nation are of secondary importance to how the governing party in London is viewed through Plaid Cymru’s ideological prism. And this explains, a) why Plaid Cymru attracts leftist fringe elements, and b) why it’s forever cwtshing up to Labour.

For don’t be fooled by the sound bites and the electioneering – Plaid Cymru has no real desire to overcome ‘Welsh’ Labour, and if it did by some chance get more AMs then it would almost certainly and immediately offer a coalition deal.

LABOUR’S LITTLE HELPER 2; WHERE IT GETS PERSONAL, AND WHY

The Welsh National Party is not a one-man band, far from it, but because Neil McEvoy is involved, and because there are elements in Plaid Cymru that regard him as Beelzebub’s emissary on Earth, this personalises the attacks.

Just look at the history.

In October 2013 it was announced that the Labour administration in Cardiff docks had done a budget deal with Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.

Snouts were soon in the trough and when, in 2016, Neil McEvoy exposed some very dubious dealings the Plaid Cymru leadership turned on him. For the troughing involved Nerys Evans, a former Plaid Cymru Assembly Member who’d set up Deryn Consulting.

Now let’s move on to early 2017, when Neil McEvoy broke the scandal of Deryn getting contracts from Ofcom due to two Deryn directors serving on Ofcom’s advisory committee for Wales.

A clear case of insider advantage, even corruption. But, again, Neil McEvoy became the villain for exposing it!

And yes, it’s the same woman, Nerys Evans, who’d been involved with the Ofcom scandal. I understand that when she ceased to be an AM Plaid Cymru, as a farewell gift, presented her with a lovely moral compass.

No doubt it will turn up one day on The Antiques Roadshow. Unused.

Hinkley Point nuclear power station is in Somerset, but dumps its contaminated mud off the coast at Cardiff. As a Cardiff AM Neil McEvoy was doing his job in asking for an Environmental Impact Assessment. Plaid Cymru thought he was being ‘confrontational’.

Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas even called the campaigners “conspiracy theorists”. Later, when McEvoy said that Thomas should have got a more severe sentence for his child pornography offence, he made even more enemies in Plaid Cymru’s upper echelons.

And who can forget the very suspicious – possibly illegal – timber contracts. Again, Plaid Cymru criticised Neil McEvoy for being ‘aggressive’ in his insistence on straight answers.

The body involved in both cases was Natural Resources Wales, an agency of the ‘Welsh Government’. Making Plaid Cymru more concerned with saving Labour’s blushes than with serving the national interest.

Later, when Neil McEvoy criticised the decision to allow the CEO of Natural Resources Wales to retire and walk away, leadership candidate Rhun ap Iorwerth and Llywydd (Speaker) Elin Jones were said to be “furious” at his impertinence.

But Elin Jones is very close to Labour. Here’s a photo I’ve used recently showing her with Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in a Dublin bar with Griffiths’ boyfriend ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty earlier this year.

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Few images illustrate the closeness of the Labour-Plaid Cymru relationship than a Welsh-speaking woman from a farming background sharing a glass of porter with two people intent on destroying the Welsh family farm and all it stands for.

It was inevitable that Neil McEvoy’s enemies would strike back. First, in March 2017, Labour-controlled Cardiff city council suspended him on a trumped-up charge of ‘bullying’. He was in fact standing up for a woman getting a rough deal from the council.

Eleven days later, as pay-back for exposing the Deryn-Ofcom scandal – and at Deryn’s insistence!– Plaid Cymru followed Labour’s lead and also suspended him.

This is what Vaughan Roderick, BBC Welsh Affairs Editor wrote of Plaid Cymru’s decision. A very revealing piece in a number of ways.

He tells us that, “a group of domestic violence survivors and women’s activists has written to Plaid Cymru calling for the party to review its support for Mr McEvoy”. The group was represented by Rachel Williams . . . who just happens to be a member of the Labour Party hiding behind a third sector body. (And there are hundreds of them in that disguise.)

Later we read, “fellow (Plaid Cymru) AMs complain of him (Neil McEvoy) being in a ‘continual attack mode'”. In other words, Plaid Cymru is criticising Neil McEvoy for attacking the Labour Party, the corrupt and incompetent buffoons who have run Wales into the ground.

Last September Plaid Cymru helped both Labour and Deryn by agreeing to suppress the findings into leaks connected with Carl Sargeant’s suicide.

The leaks came from Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones’ office to Deryn, where Jo Kiernan could be found. Kiernan was a former adviser to Jones. The following week it was she that Carwyn Jones phoned soon after hearing of Sargeant’s suicide. One of two calls he made to Deryn.

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I covered this in Plaid Cymru -Labour’s little helper, again!

What we see at work here is the unwritten alliance between the self-styled ‘progressive’ parties Labour and Plaid Cymru, lobbyists, civil servants (answering to London), and the third sector. They mwah away in the swamp of Corruption Bay and they all have the knives out for Neil McEvoy because he knows how they operate, and worse, he threatens their cosy and corrupt relationships.

Another recent example of the alliance in operation was in November 2019, when Neil McEvoy tried to introduce a register for lobbyists, an initiative that was opposed by both Labour and Plaid Cymru. With their opposition choreographed by Deryn.

Though, strangely, in 2016 Plaid Cymru was in favour of a register of lobbyists. Google still shows the link (below), but the information has disappeared from the Plaid Cymru website. Fancy that!

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Yes, Neil McEvoy brings down trouble on his own head, but he does it for the right reasons, because his ‘crime’ is – exposing corruption.

As if all that wasn’t enough to make enemies for him in Plaid Cymru and Labour there are also very important political and financial considerations.

In 2016, Neil McEvoy, standing as a Plaid Cymru candidate in the Cardiff West constituency, almost beat Mark Drakeford, the current First Minister of the so-called ‘Welsh Government’.

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And the vote was most definitely for Neil McEvoy rather than for Plaid Cymru, as the results in the other Cardiff seats made clear. In next year’s elections to what is now the Welsh Parliament Neil McEvoy will be standing again in Cardiff West, and he has a very good chance of winning.

Which means that another motive for Plaid Cymru attacking him and the WNP is to protect the First Minister. For he drives the gravy train.

If Plaid Cymru had two heads it would have one stuck up its own arse and the other stuck up Labour’s.

THE NASTY PARTY

By being what it has become, Plaid Cymru obviously attracts the young idiots with their absurd ’causes’, and their black and white take on everything. But most of them will, hopefully, mature.

But Plaid also has an already mature element that should know better, but behaves irresponsibly and vindictively, egging on the young hotheads. We saw it with the horrific treatment of Dilys Davies.

One of these is Rhian Fitter, who tweets as ‘Mrs Eff’, @ichy_vagenda. She recently attacked Neil McEvoy over an incident from 1996, when he was a young teacher in Pontypool.

The facts are that returning from a school trip to France, and arriving back in Pooler after midnight, two local ne’er-do-wells tried to hijack the bus full of kids. There was a bout of fisticuffs and Neil McEvoy managed to get the two off the bus. The fight continued on the street and the hijackers’ mates turned up, which resulted in Neil McEvoy getting a bit of a kicking. This has left him with impaired hearing.

But the bus got away and the kids were safe.

Neil McEvoy told the story at a Plaid conference, but because it puts him in a favourable light there are some in Plaid Cymru who say he must be lying. Rhian Fitter being one, though why she chose to dredge it up when she did can only be guessed at.

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Not only did she dredge the story up but she re-wrote it. For Neil McEvoy never claimed the incident took place in the Middle East, nor did he mention guns. Rhian Fitter knows that full well but still feels it’s OK to lie because she’s attacking Neil McEvoy.

She even organised a poll. Given her followers the outcome was predictable. Though she didn’t have it all her own way.

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What I find fascinating here is that Rhian Fitter, while telling lies about Neil McEvoy, and generally traducing his reputation, accuses him of trying to discredit Plaid Cymru! Breathtaking double standards.

But of course Rhian Fitter is a ‘progressive’, a native of the sunlit uplands. She is both morally and intellectually superior to people like Neil McEvoy, and me. And as is the way with her kind, she entertains no doubts.

A few more nasty and inaccurate tweets were posted. Until eventually it dawned even on Rhian Fitter that she may have gone too far, and so she deleted some of them.

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But even in ‘apologising’ she can’t resist having a Parthian shot with ‘aliens’!

I tell you this because ‘Mrs Eff’ is the mother of Rhydian Elis Fitter, Plaid Cymru’s Senior Communication Officer. I’m sure the boy learnt a lot about communicating from his esteemed mother.

I shall end this section with a salutary tale from Swansea, illustrating how vindictive Plaid Cymru can be, and where it gets them.

An old mate of mine is Ioan Richard, who served the Mawr ward on the outskirts of the city for decades, both on the old Lliw Valley district council and then the unitary Swansea city council. He was Lord Mayor 2011/12.

Ioan fell out with Plaid Cymru many years ago and stood as an independent for most of his political life. In 2004 he and other independents went into coalition with the Liberal Democrats to run the city council. Plaid Cymru, which had a chance to join the coalition, chose to sit in opposition with the bruvvers.

It is believed that the order to stick with Labour came from Plaid Cymru HQ.

In 2012 Plaid Cymru threw a lot of resources into targeting Ioan’s seat in Mawr, unsuccessfully. Dai Lloyd and his cohorts were seen daily in a semi-rural ward the party had previously neglected. Ioan won. Labour came second.

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Plaid Cymru lost their five seats in Swansea, and now the party is little more than a shadow in my home city.

In 2008 in the Llansamlet ward where another old friend, Dr John Ball, had been the party’s first Swansea councillor, Plaid Cymru was even beaten by the BNP!

The parallel is in Plaid Cymru cwtshing up to Labour and attacking a man who wants better for Wales after seeing through Plaid Cymru’s hypocrisy from the inside.

CONCLUSION

Since Dafydd Wigley was deposed Plaid Cymru has just gone through the motions of being an alternative to the Labour Party. In reality, there is an agreement between the two parties to hoover up the non-Tory vote.

And they can get more votes by staying separate than by officially merging.

An agreement helped by both wanting just enough power and money from London to fund their growing networks of cronies, and also to indulge in the gesture politics and the virtue signalling they prioritise.

And London, even with a Tory government in power, will be happy to fund this corruption in order to ensure that there’s no serious threat from Wales.

Don’t you find it strange that with less than a year to go to the 2021 elections to the Welsh Parliament, and with Labour in power for over two decades, Plaid Cymru is more concerned with attacking a new party that’s hardly got off the ground?

What are we to make of this?

Next year, anyone who cares about Wales would be a fool to vote for Plaid Cymru because a vote for Plaid Cymru will be a vote for the Labour Party . . . and for Deryn . . . and for the third sector . . .  and for colonial rule. If you are determined to vote for the pond life of Cardiff Bay it would make more sense to cut out the middle man and give your vote directly to Labour.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Because next year you will be offered alternatives to those who have betrayed us; you will be able to vote for new parties, with fresh ideas, and candidates who will put Wales and Welsh interests first.

In 2021 vote for the Welsh National Party or vote for Gwlad.

♦ end ♦





Miscellany 27.04.2020

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

Here’s something to keep you occupied in these long days of lockdown after you’ve finished mowing the lawn, walking the dog, and counting your bottles of Malbec.

This is another bumper issue, some 4,500 words, but it’s made up of a number of unrelated reports, so there’s no need to gorge; take your time and enjoy!

A PEOPLE THAT ISN’T TAUGHT ITS HISTORY . . .

I watched a documentary the other week about Arthur, Duke of Brittany, who may have had a stronger claim to the English throne than his Uncle, John, and his claim was even supported by John’s brother, Richard I, ‘Coeur de lion’. Having raised an army to challenge his uncle, young Arthur blew his opportunity, was captured and – if contemporary rumours are to be believed – came to a particularly gruesome end.

The killing was even covered in the Margam Abbey chronicles.

The programme established that John was a very nasty piece of work, possibly a psychopath. He also drank heavily and often flew into uncontrollable rages. It was best not to be around him when he’d ‘taken a drink’ (as great-aunt Fastidia might have phrased it).

My ears pricked up when one of the contributors to the programme, seeking to establish John’s credentials as an all-round murderous bastard, mentioned his killing of young Welsh hostages at Nottingham castle. This was something I’d never heard about, so obviously I checked. It was true.

At a low point in his glorious career Llywelyn Fawr was held in check by his father-in-law John by the surrender of some 28 young hostages, sons of Gwynedd’s leading families. When Llywelyn next flexed his muscles the boys were hung from the castle walls. Reported here in ‘Nottinghamshire History’.

“In order to keep the Welsh Prince Llewellyn in subjection, John, had taken as hostages 28 boys, ranging from 12 to 14 years of age, and kept them in his Castle at Nottingham. It is said the news came to the King while staying at his hunting palace at Clipstone that the Welsh Prince had again broken out in revolt. Hastily summoning his followers, he held a Council beneath the spreading branches of an oak tree (now known as Parliament Oak), when the execution of the hostages was decided upon. Then he swore ‘by the teeth of God’ that he would not eat again until he had wreaked his vengeance, and mounting his steed, he rode in all haste to Nottingham Castle, where he gave instructions for the execution of the hostages, as a preliminary to quelling the rising; and the shameful order was immediately carried out before his eyes, the boys being taken from their play—some screaming, others pleading in vain for mercy—and hanged on the Castle walls.”

Main gate of Nottingham Castle. Click to enlarge

Both the murder of Arthur of Brittany and the killing of the hostages are in some accounts attributed to William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber, who often served as John’s very willing torturer and executioner.

The title Bramber comes from the family’s castle in Sussex, but De Braose was more active in the March, as Sheriff of Hereford and Lord Abergavenny. And while John was reviled in the north west William made his enemies at the opposite corner of the country, due to the Massacre at Abergavenny Castle in 1175.

The facts are that Seisyll ap Dyfnwal, ‘Lord of Upper Gwent’, was invited to a Christmas feast at the castle, along with his eldest son, his followers and their attendants. Being invited guests, they followed custom and left their weapons outside. Once inside, the doors were locked and de Braose’s men attacked and killed their Welsh guests.

It is then rumoured that after the massacre de Braose rode to Seisyll’s home and killed his younger son Cadwaladr after snatching him from his mother’s arms.

De Braose’s behaviour is ‘excused’ by arguing that Seisyll ap Dyfnwal had killed de Braose’s uncle, Henry FitzMiles, so it was tit for tat. But attempting to wipe out the male lines of the leading Welsh families in the locality suggests de Braose was trying to expand his own land holdings.

In 1182 Hywel ap Iorwerth of Caerleon had Dingestow castle, near Chepstow, destroyed and Abergavenny castle burnt by Seisyll’s relatives. De Braose was not there but his men were taken captive.

After it was burnt again, this time by Glyndŵr’s forces in 1404, Abergavenny castle ceased to be used as a fortification and gradually fell into disrepair.

‘These were brutal times, they all behaved like that’, is what you’ll hear from defenders of the Union. But I don’t recall any incident in which our ancestors behaved with such barbarity, depravity and duplicity.

If they had, we’d have been taught it in school. You can be sure of that.

ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS REVISITED, AGAIN

Back in December – in an update – I mentioned that a Neil Moyse, who lives on a OPD at Tir y Gafel in Pembrokeshire, is applying to build another OPD at Llyn Adain Gwydd, near the village of Meidrim in west Carmarthenshire. The village to which I trace my direct paternal line.

To get the planning application details type W/39846 here.

In a nutshell, Moyse wants planners to believe that a family of four will be able to support themselves as gardeners on 1.63ha of land, even though a great part of the holding will remain uncultivated. Much of it, in fact, is water, accounting for the ‘Llyn’ element in the name.

But any property built in such an attractive location will be valuable, especially if it is imaginatively ‘extended’, perhaps in the manner of Bryn Llys, at Nebo. Which, I’m sure you’ll recall, transmogrified from a traditional Welsh farmhouse into a mansion betraying the aesthetic sensibilities we associate with Lottery winners, or in this case, a gang of fraudsters.

Bryn Llys before and after the ‘extension’. Click to enlarge

I’m not for one minute suggesting that Moyse is a crook like those at Bryn Llys, but neither am I persuaded that this is a simple One Planet Development. And if the Moyse family moves to Llyn Adain Gwydd what happens to their property in Pembrokeshire?

My understanding was that OPDs offer a chance for people to exchange the crass materialism of the modern world for lives attuned to the rhythms of nature, not for building property empires.

All of which would be reason to reject this application, but a little bird in the tree tells me that Moyse and his kin are pretty irresponsible to boot.

For I hear that during this period of lockdown the Moyse family travels almost every day from their Pembrokeshire property to their new lakeside estate near Meidrim. Is this ‘essential travel’? And now they’ve even pitched a tent!

My little bird also says . . .

“Black sheeting . . . ‘shines’ across valley and due to cutting down of many trees is much more open to view.  . . . people turned up today in massive camper van looking . . . to camp out . . . The wood behind Mr Moyse’s plot belongs to Woodlands.co.uk. This wood has camper vans sited in it that are there illegally.  People are coming and going and fire smoke can often be seen.  They have blocked the public footpath and even after representations from local council have not reopened.  These are friends of Mr Moyse . . .”

As I’ve explained many times before, OPD is just another tactic in the wider strategy of dispossessing us Welsh and replacing us with a new population. Because in 20+ years of devolution those cringing bastards down Corruption Bay have done nothing to benefit those who belong in this country.

And if you want an example of the ecological credentials claimed by these OPD land-grabbers, then I’ll let my little dicky bird finish its song with, “otters and geese that have been nesting and breeding for decades have not been near this year.” 

Visualise an unspoilt area of Welsh land, a sylvan gem. Would you rather see otters gambolling there or gangs of arrogant English hippies in camper vans and silly houses, incessantly burning wood while pontificating about saving the planet?

The greatest contribution these people can make to the Welsh countryside is to leave it.

GARY HAGGATY

Gary is a senior civil servant, but more importantly, the lover of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment Energy and Rural affairs in the ‘Welsh Government’.

In the piece in which he debuted a few weeks back I mis-spelt his name as Haggarty. Sorry about that, Gary, but we all make mistakes.

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Anyway, I asked if anyone had information on Gary, so I could ‘pad out’ his biography, as it were. And I had a few responses, so here’s some more information that I put out recently. Here in pdf format.

I’m told he’s originally from Portsmouth, or thereabouts. He is said to have been a leading light in the Young Socialists, or its replacement, Young Labour.

How Gary came to Wales is unclear – did he attend university here? – but until some 10 or 12 years ago he was employed in in the ‘Welsh Government’s regional office in Llandrindod Wells, and he is believed to have lived in Abbey Cwm Hir.

‘Game Show Gary’ left his wife and child/children for another woman, a younger woman who was also a work colleague. Gary is said to be a great one for ‘helping’ young female colleagues. Very much a hands-on approach.

Once in Cardiff, as Head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Strategy, and administering the Glastir and Farming Connect programmes, he stated, more than once, that “Farmers in Wales are over supported and under taxed”. His hostility towards farmers was made clear in other ways.

And yet, despite his openly expressed hostility towards Welsh farmers he progressed within the ‘Welsh Government’s departments dealing with farming! In May 2016, Lesley Griffiths was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs. This would have brought her into direct connect with Gary Haggaty . . . and their contact soon became very direct.

When the affair between Griffiths and Haggaty became public knowledge last year he was assigned the post of Deputy Director, Community Safety Division within Welsh Government. And if you’re wondering what the Community Safety Division is, it’s an excuse for Wales not having power over policing. In the early days of devolution it was known as the Crime Reduction Unit.

Up until his transfer Haggaty was advising Lesley Griffiths on ways to make life difficult for Welsh farmers, done in order to make land available for hippies and rewilders, eco-zealots and zip wires. In other words, anybody but the Welsh.
Seeing as they’re still an ‘item’ he’s probably still advising her.

But forget the affair. The real cause for concern should be that a man like Gary Haggaty, with his blatant and regularly expressed hostility to Welsh farming, should ever have been in a position of influence within the ‘Welsh Government’.

But he was. And there are many other civil servants like him in Wales, who answer to London, dictate to the ‘Welsh Government’, and do serious damage to our country and our nation.

I’m sure there are people out there with more information on ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty, so just leave it in the usual tree-trunk.

AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE

We have 48 bodies in Wales ‘combating homelessness’. (Or did have in 2017, now it’s probably more.) You might think that with so many battalions in the field Wales is on its way to victory over homelessness, but that would be to misunderstand the strategy at work and the objective.

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There are CEOs pulling down £80,000+ a year and many other Labour Party cronies doing very nicely out of maintaining high levels of homelessness . . . so this is a ‘war’ that must not be won.

Among the major players in the homelessness racket is Llamau, which has appeared on this blog many times. Like so many third sector bodies in Wales Llamau seems to be run by female English disciples of Common Purpose, the liberal freemasonry, who specialise in screwing public money from thick-as-shit Labour politicians with no better ideas on how to use money.

Here’s a little tale about Llamau’s CEO which gives an idea of how things link up in Cardiff Bay, and the incestuous political culture that prevails in that cess-pit.

In the ongoing – unending? – leftist-third sector witch-hunt against Neil McEvoy, Frances Beecher was one of the complainants. (And was almost certainly encouraged to make her fatuous contribution by Deryn Consulting.)

So did Neil McEvoy turn up at the Llamau offices with a can of petrol in one hand, a lighter in the other, a wild look on his face as he sang the Arthur Brown classic, Fire? Er, no, but he had raised his voice at a public meeting! Oh, the bwute! The bwute!

But enough history. For I bring tidings of Llamau expanding.

There was an organisation called the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project (SYSHP) which did good work in the ugly lovely town for almost thirty years, but on 1 October 2019 it merged with Llamau. Or rather, Llamau took it over 3 October 2018, when the SYSHP trustees/company directors were given the heave-ho and replaced with Llamau appointees.

Among the replacements was lawyer Thomas Graham Breed who – on 23 January this year – became a director of Capital Law in Cardiff. (Belated congratulations, Graham.) This is one of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’s favoured legal firms. A great deal of Welsh public money goes to Capital Law.

It was obviously a hostile takeover and you have to wonder why SYSHP succumbed to it so meekly. Were they told it was a fait accompli, and given the choice between takeover and collapse?

It being a done deal might explain why the Supporting People Grants (the mainstay of SYSHP funding), administered by the ‘Welsh Government’, fell from £832,938 in y/e 31.03.2018 to £644,215 in y/e 31.03.2019.

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While other funders, including the Lottery, thought SYSHP was a good enough bet to increase their funding.

It’s very odd, because with such well-connected and influential new hands on deck you would expect ‘Welsh Government’ funding to have increased . . . unless, as I suggest, it was an engineered failure to facilitate complete takeover.

According to the latest available accounts for SYSHP as a condition of the takeover “. . . the charity (SYSHP) will meet all of its liabilities and then transfer over the remaining assets to Llamau at their fair value . . .”. but Llamau now owns the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project, and its assets.

I can only assume that all outstanding debts and charges are to be paid out of the remaining SYSHP funds and whatever is left transfers to Llamau. Including the prime assets of 51 & 52 Walter Road in central Swansea.

What we see here is another example of an organisation using its influence in Cardiff Bay to promote itself in other parts of Wales at the expense of rivals who do not have the ear of our wise and incorruptible tribunes, and do not socialise with the civil servants who manipulate said tribunes.

This phenomenon – the norm in third world countries – explains so many things. For example, it tells us how Wales & West Housing has become our only truly all-Wales housing association.

Another manifestation of this phenomenon, one I note as I travel around, is that Cardiff estate agents get business all over Wales. It’s so sad that there are no estate agents in other parts of the country.

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Yes, devolution’s been good for some in Cardiff. As long as you’ve got the connections.

DAWNUS 3B

Around this time last year I did a few pieces on the collapse of Dawnus, a Swansea-based construction and civil engineering company. These were Dawnus, Dawnus 2, Dawnus 3 and (scroll down to) Dawnus 3A.

Dawnus did a great deal of work in West Africa, and it was suggested that Ebola in that region went some way to deciding Dawnus’s fate. For the company’s decline was said to have begun with the Ebola outbreak in January 2014.

Not long after Ebola hit we saw the arrival on the scene of Nicholas Charles Down, whose Linkedin profile suggested he’d worked mainly outside the UK. Though it’s difficult to figure out if he’d been brought in to try to save Dawnus or to administer the last rites.

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Whichever it was, once he took over the Dawnus group it was downhill from there on. Here’s a list of the Dawnus companies with which Down was involved. You’ll see that they’re all in administration or liquidation except Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP. Though Companies House makes clear that Medrus went the way of the others.

And now it appears that Down is neither the director of any company nor is he involved with a Limited Liability Partnership. So where did he go?

The reason I got interested in the Dawnus story was that I received a number of reports saying that the most valuable machinery was shipped to West Africa towards the end of 2018, when the shit was visibly heading – if in slow motion – towards the fan.

The photographs below that were sent to me purport to show the heavy stuff en route to the docks for shipment to West Africa.

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But even before then, much of the good stuff was already in Liberia and Sierra Leone. As this charge of 27 March 2018 against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd makes clear. Just scroll down and see how much plant and machinery was in Africa.

Two companies emerged from the catastrophe. The first was Dawnus International Group Ltd, formed 22 March 2019, which shook off the ‘Dawnus’ tag by becoming DIG International Group Ltd less than a week later. The second was DIG Civil Engineering Ltd, formed 9 April 2019, but still a non-trading company according to Companies House.

The two companies shared an address in Clydach before moving last month to Stradey Business Centre in Llangennech, Llanelli. Which is interesting, because this gives me the opportunity to introduce another player in the form of Hydro Industries, also based at Stradey Business Centre.

You’ll have to go back to last year’s articles to get the full import, but to cut a long story short, there has always been military and defence industry involvement in the margins of this saga. French defence giant Thales being one of the players. For a time Thales had a presence on the same Llanelli estate where we find the DIG companies, and Hydro Industries.

The thing about Hydro that I found remarkable was who got involved with this rather obscure little company in Sosban last year. Though it might be relevant that among the original Hydro directors is arch BritNat and former chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, David Pickering.

In June 2018 Guto Harri joined the board of Hydro. That’s Guto Harri who regularly appears on Newsnight, the former BBC journalist and communications director for Boris Johnson when BoJo was mayor of London.

Harri was soon joined by Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de’Lisle, who is course French, and the wife of Admiral Insurance founder Henry Englehardt. Then came Henrietta Baldock of Bank of America and Legal and General Assurance. With Robert Brooks as secretary. ‘Who him?’ I’m not sure, but I guarantee he don’t live round by ‘ere.

There’s no doubt in my mind of UK government involvement in the demise of Dawnus. Our masters in London might not have caused the Dawnus collapse but they took advantage because Dawnus was involved in a strategically important region.

Hydro Industries’ reward for whatever part it played in the Dawnus saga was a major contract in Saudi Arabia, that murderous theocracy that helps to keep the British arms industry afloat. A few days later a £150m contract in Egypt was unveiled.

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I suggest that the involvement of the UK government explains why the ‘Welsh Government’ offered Dawnus no real help – the pretend politicos down Cardiff docks were warned off.

Around the same time Hydro ‘won’ the Saudi and Egyptian contracts its business address moved from Llangennech to Berkeley Square in West London. (That’s Berkeley Square of nightingale fame.) Quite a move for a company started by a bunch of Turks.

So who now owns Hydro Industries?

Come to that, who now owns the machinery in West Africa? Was it shipped home to pay off creditors? I doubt it very much. Those shipments of machinery from Wales to West Africa in late 2018 were made to keep assets away from liquidators and creditors. That machinery and equipment is there now winning hearts and minds, and combating the spread of Chinese influence.

The irony is that Hydro Industries, and to a lesser extent Dawnus, provide clean drinking water to those who realise the importance and value of this essential commodity. While here in Wales, the whining invertebrates calling themselves the ‘Welsh Government’ are quite happy to give away our water!

UPDATE: I’ve been sent something that links with both Dawnus and the point I made in the earlier section about Cardiff estate agents getting the work all over Wales. This is the old Dawnus depot in Clydach, up for sale on Prime Location, with details available from Alder King of Cardiff, which has its HQ in Bristol.

OH GOODY! ANOTHER WIND FARM

A few years back there was an attempt to plant yet more wind turbines near the A44 as it snakes its way up from Aberystwyth to meet the A470 at Llangurig. The project was imaginatively named Mynydd y Gwynt.

Those behind it seem to be a family of local landowners who’d already diversified in a number of ways. To promote its scheme the clan had linked with Isle of Man-based company Renewable Energy Holdings Plc.

The scheme was knocked back and finally rejected by the Court of Appeal in London in March 2018. And while the IoM outfit went bust in March 2016 the local element of the doomed consortium, Mynydd y Gwynt Ltd, is still in business. Though in April 2016 it moved its correspondence address from Ffynnon Wen, Capel Bangor to c/o Haines Watts, 7 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff.

Now there’s another wind farm scheme, this one called Lluest y Gwynt. The company Lluest y Gwynt Wind Farm Ltd was formed in June 2018 . . . just months after the Court of Appeal hammered the final nail in the Mynydd y Gwynt coffin.

So is Lluest y Gwynt just Mynydd y Gwynt under a slightly changed name, and at a site very close by?

The image at the top comes from the Cambrian Mountains Society and the image below from the Planning Inspectorate, prepared by Dulas. Click to enlarge

Behind Lluest y Gwynt we find Statkraft, “Europe’s largest developer of renewable energy”, a company wholly owned by the Norwegian government. In partnership with Statkraft is Eco2 of Cardiff. Eco2 chairman is Peter Darwell, said to be worth a bob or two.

There have been a few dozen Eco2 companies over the past twenty years but the most recent additions to the stable have been, Eco2 LYG Limited, Incorporated 24 May 2018. And Eco2 Dulais Limited (27 November 2019). Darwell is the major shareholder in both, with a line-up of shared directors.

The documents received by the Planning Inspectorate for Lluest y Gwynt can be viewed from this link.

Statkraft, like all investors hoping to exploit poorer countries, seeks out those with access to the local ‘chiefs’. So it has linked with Cardiff-based Eco2 to gain access to local politicians and decision makers.

I’m sure that Statkraft is hoping Eco2 CEO Dr David Williams will be able to help. For having served as chairman of the ‘Welsh Government’s Energy and Environmental Sector Panel from January 2011 to August 2018 he must know a few movers and shakers down Corruption Bay.

There’s nothing new in this. When I wrote Corruption in the wind? in November 2018 I recounted the amusing tale of a mystery woman frantically lobbying in April 2017 on behalf of those behind some Powys wind farms. (Scroll down to section headed ‘Mystery woman’)

That woman was Anna McMorrin, live-in lover of Alun Davies AM, who became the MP for Cardiff North in the June 2018 election. McMorrin wasn’t employed by the investors behind Hendy and Bryn Blaen wind farms because she knew owt about wind turbines, she was employed solely because she knew people down Cardiff docks who could make the decisions the investors wanted.

Click to enlarge

And it’s the same with Statkraft and Eco2.

Lobbying down Corruption Bay isn’t restricted to Deryn Consulting and other lobbying firms, for Labour insiders also feather their nests from knowing who to schmooze. And Labour Party insiders doing so well from this system explains why there is no register of lobbyists down the Bay.

Will Lluest y Gwynt succeed where Mynydd y Gwynt failed? Perhaps. But why should we cover more of Wales with ugly and inefficient wind turbines to kill red kites and other birds while increasing the risk of flooding, and all done to enrich a company owned by the government of one of the richest countries on Earth?

Finally, it’s worth remembering that Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, will have a big say in whether or not to allow Lluest y Gwynt wind farm, So who do you think Statkraft and Eco2 should have a quiet word with; you know, someone who might be able to influence her?

Watch this space.

‘SEASONAL PROPERTIES’, AN UPDATE

In the previous post I reported on a minor act of vandalism in Pwllheli and the bizarre response of North Wales Police.

Someone painted ‘Go home’ on a number of holiday flats near the marina and GogPlod responded by waxing lyrical about key workers staying in these properties, even pleading, ‘How would you like it . . . ?’ – even though no one was staying in them! I described this contribution from the local gendarmerie as ‘bollocks’, even questioning whether it had originated with the police.

Though I was certainly enchanted by the new term, ‘seasonal properties’.

But the police were right, key workers have been staying in these flats . . . key workers from Birmingham, on holiday. What’s more, they’ve threatened to beat up the local councillor who reported them!

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I couldn’t make this up!

I’m beginning to suspect that when it comes to holiday homes or ‘seasonal properties’ the police would rather not be bothered. Yes, they’ll do some patrolling on main roads for the benefit of the cameras but confronting some selfish bastards sitting it out in their or someone else’s holiday home is just too much trouble.

AND, FINALLY . . . 

There are those who say, “Oh there’s nothing wrong with devolution, it’s the fault of the Labour Party. Get rid of them and everything will be fine”. Having given this view the consideration it deserves (about 0.3 seconds) my response is – bollocks!

Wales is now so hopelessly corrupted, its political class, public officials and burdensome third sector motivated either by serving themselves or else serving England – often both – that nothing short of very radical change can improve things for the great majority of our people.

Consequently, any intellectual under-achiever who suggests that things would be better with a Plaid Cymru management team in Cardiff Bay, or a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition, should receive either a pitying pat on the head or a kick up the arse. (Perhaps depending on whether you’ve ‘taken a drink’.)

If next year’s Assembly elections go ahead we must ensure there are not enough AMs from Labour and Plaid Cymru to form a coalition. That must be the starting point for the change Wales needs.

♦ end ♦




‘This land is (y)our land’?

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

In recent years I’ve written a few articles – too many to list here – about the unrelenting assault on Welsh farming and rural life. A campaign that sees Welsh politicians used as puppets by senior civil servants serving interests other than those of Wales and Welsh people.

This post is in the form of an update.

THE GATHERING STORM

Arraigned against our farmers are politicians in London of assorted political hues, left-‘Green’ politicians in Corruption Bay, civil servants linking Westminster and Whitehall with Cardiff docks, and land-grabbing ‘environmentalists’ who tend to be either strident memsahibs or darlings of the Guardianistas.

Last week, during a Skype-enabled session of the Senedd, Lesley Griffiths AM, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs – working on the principle that a pandemic is a good time to slip out bad news – announced the release of Draft Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

The timing certainly surprised and angered our farming unions. National Farmers Union Cymru was ‘astonished’, while  the Farmers Union of Wales agreed that the proposals are ‘draconian’.

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Now on the one hand, we all want cleaner water. But it looks as if Ms Griffiths and her friends have been over-zealous in their attempts to give us crystal clear rills, rivers we can cross by walking on the backs of spawning salmon, and lakes home to old slappers catching the swords that are regularly chucked in.

But on the other hand, we don’t want to drive farmers out of business using sly and underhand methods. Well, I don’t, but there are some who do, and Ms Griffiths is an ally of theirs, possibly no more than a tool.

In both statements you will see reference to Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ). This term is used to describe areas, “that contain surface water or groundwater that is susceptible to nitrate pollution from agricultural activities”.

The percentage of Welsh land designated NVZ currently stands at 2.4% (750 farm holdings) and there was an understanding that the percentage would increase – Natural Resources Wales recommended 8% – but Ms Griffiths has proposed that the whole country becomes a NVZ. (So you’ll understand the response of the farming unions.)

A NVZ consultation process launched by the ‘Welsh Government’ 29 September 2016 ended 23 December 2016, with the findings being published just over two years ago. You can read the ‘summary of response’ here.

A flick through those responses makes it clear that farmers’ bodies were outnumbered by angling clubs and environment groups, a number of them Englandandwales bodies. (I’m thinking here of the National Trust, the RSPB, Marine Conservation Society and the Angling Trust.) And the way the responses came in suggest that members and supporters were whipped into line.

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One question considered the effects of an All-Wales NVZ on the Welsh language. There was a majority view that enforcing an All-Wales regime would be damaging to the Welsh language because the (often unnecessary) expense involved could prove too much for the smaller family farm. But in the very last paragraph we read:

“One respondent who agreed with the question thought language should not be a fundamentally important factor in any new regulations. However, it was essential that a Welsh identity was maintained through clean waters and a beautiful countryside.”

So there you have it. Remove Welsh-speaking farming families and Welsh identity will be perpetuated by the water nymphs and sword-catching slappers to which I heretofore alluded.

But I repeat, I want to see clean rivers and lakes; it’s just that I believe this can – and must – be achieved without waging war on the farming community. Which is what it seems motivates Ms Griffiths and her pals, using the findings of a consultation process skewed by those with many years experience in such dark arts.

This proposal to extend NVZ must not be looked at in isolation, for it is part of a wider strategy to ‘discourage’ traditional farming and open up the Welsh countryside to new ideas . . . and a new population.

The assault began in May 2009 with the publication of ‘One Wales: One Planet’. This is what the UN had to say about it:

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Which means that pleasing a few thousand hippies and eco-fanatics was seen to be more important than providing an economy, a health service, an education system an infrastructure, and all the other things needed by three million people.

And remember! in 2009 Wales was managed by a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition.

‘One Wales: One Planet’ led, in October 2012, to the ‘Welsh Government’s Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6, which allowed One Planet Developments. A measure intended to attract hippies into Wales and allow them to build what they like, wherever they choose; with local planning authorities forced to give them planning permission, often retrospectively.

Wales is the only country in the world to have enacted this hippies’ charter.

Next, in December 2013, we saw Alun Davies, then Minister for Natural Resources and Food (therefore Ms Griffiths’ predecessor) transfer 15% of EU Common Agricultural Policy funding from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. In practice, this saw £286m taken from farmers and allocated to rural development projects.

No prizes for guessing what ‘rural development projects’ means, and who benefits.

Fifteen per cent was the maximum permitted by the EU and the ‘Welsh Government’ showed its attitude to farmers by going for broke.

Then we had the Well-being of Future Generation Act (Wales) Act 2015 promising sunshine, lollipops and roses . . . and cushy jobs for Labour Party cronies. Such as the first Future Generations Commissioner herself. Sophie Howe is the daughter of a former Cardiff Labour councillor, and previously worked for Alun Michael, erstwhile Labour MP and now South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.

No other country entertains anything like this bullshit.

More recently we have seen the arrival of the memsahibs and the Monbiots demanding huge swathes of our homeland in which they can play silly buggers. I’ve dealt with this in The Welsh Clearances of 16 October 2018 and a number of times since. Just type ‘rewilding’ or ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box on top of the sidebar to find these further contributions.

And to cap it all, we have recently seen outbursts from ‘trendy metropolitan eco-zealots’ and swivel-eyed advisers to Boris Johnson promoting the same idiocies.

ÉMINENCE GRISE

There is is no question that influencers have been working on the ‘Welsh Government’ for a decade or more, and they have tended to be men with little understanding of or sympathy for farming, and very often a poorly concealed hostility towards Welsh farmers.

We should not be surprised therefore that through the malign influence of this cabal Welsh farming has been weakened by one cut after another, to the advantage of the hippies, the memsahibs and the Monbiots.

They always encourage legislation against farmers, nothing is ever done for farmers.

Most of those I’m referring to have been mentioned in previous blog posts, but now I want to focus on one who has been rather overlooked, Gary Haggarty. No, this is not Gary Haggarty, the UVF killer and supergrass, but Gary Haggarty, former Rural Director for the ‘Welsh Government’.

‘Shared vision, united approach and consistent messaging are crucial to success’. Did you ever hear such vapid sound bites! Click to enlarge

But more importantly, Haggarty is the partner of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the ‘Welsh Government’. Their affair was kept secret for quite some time but has been widely known about for at least a year.

Haggarty has form, for he is said to be the genius behind the decision to take money off farmers with the 2013 ‘Pillars’ decision.

Responsibility for replacing of the Tir Mynydd scheme with the unpopular Glastir arrangement is also laid at his door. Glastir tends to regard traditional Welsh farming as just another rural activity, little different to organic hobby farming. Which of course fits perfectly with the overall strategy.

When Brexit came along Haggarty saw another weapon he could use and he rolled it out with the September 2018 consultation document, ‘Brexit and our land: Securing the future of Welsh farming’. The second element in that title is quite insulting considering what we know about Haggarty’s attitude to farming and farmers.

The ‘Welsh Government’s response to the results of the consultation process is contained in this document.

A further publication in July 2019 was ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land’, which was described by its ‘author’, Lesley Griffiths, as ‘revised proposals’ following the responses received to the ‘Brexit and our land’ consultation, also ‘authored’ by Griffiths.

Or were they, because of course the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs was in a relationship with a man on a mission to bring Welsh farmers to heel? And so I have no doubt that he wrote most of what appeared in these publications. And she was happy to let him do it.

Which means that a man with not a single democratic vote to his name is dictating policy to the wretched and useless ‘Welsh Government’. And Gary Haggarty is not the only one.

So much for devolution!

This relationship was known about in Cardiff Bay for a long time, but Haggarty was only reassigned when it became public knowledge. Yet the relationship was improper whether it was public knowledge or not. They should have been separated, professionally, as soon as the affair became known about.

BEST OF FRIENDS

As I say, the relationship between Griffiths and Haggarty is now out in the open, as shown by the image below, taken in a Dublin bar on 8 February, the day of the Ireland v Wales rugby international.

On the left we see the happy couple, and on the right, Elin Jones, the Plaid Cymru AM for Ceredigion and Llywydd (Speaker) in the Senedd. And is that Llais y Sais columnist Carolyn Hitt behind Jones? If so, what’s a nice girl like her doing there?

Gary entertaining the ladies with his Stan Laurel face. Click to enlarge

You could say that seeing Labour and Plaid Cymru politicians sharing a convivial jar in a Temple Bar pub shows how civilised Welsh politics is. Not really.

Could you imagine Elin Jones sharing a Guinness with Andrew R T Davies, or his successor, Paul Davies? Or enjoying a snifter and a risqué joke with Mostyn? (Neil Hamilton, to you.)

And if Neil McEvoy had walked through the door Elin Jones would have screamed, switched off his microphone, summoned the gardaí and demanded that they drag him off to Kilmainham to be summarily executed.

Let Uncle Jac interpret that photograph for you. What it says is this: In next year’s Assembly elections Labour will fall well short of a majority of seats, consequently its only hope of staying in power lies in a coalition with Plaid Cymru. Therefore a vote for Plaid Cymru in 2021 will be a vote for Labour.

So don’t be fooled by the playful sparring you’ll see in the election campaign. It’s only done to fool mug punters. Don’t you be one of them!

Something else that strikes me is that Elin Jones, from a farming background, has no problem socialising with people inflicting so much pain on Welsh farming. A testimony to the amnesiac qualities of the Cardiff Bay air.

Or possibly Deryn Consulting.

AND, FINALLY . . .

There was a piece of good news for our farmers last week. And unwelcome news for those wanting to displace them. For that’s where we’re at: two sides, one still in possession of its ancestral land, and the other prepared to use all manner of tactics to take possession.

This is semi-naked colonialism, with native ‘friendlies’ who have jumped into bed with the enemy justifying their treachery by pretending it’s done for the greater good of saving the planet.

The news I’m referring to is that academics conclude that planting trees everywhere, which is what many of the would-be ethnic cleansers advocate, would do more harm than good for the environment.

“The report comes from the Natural Capital Committee (NCC), which says planting trees into peat bogs would prove a serious mistake.”

But don’t worry, for those pulling Lesley Griffith’s strings will still want wind turbines plonked on peat, to cause flooding and other problems – and it will all be done in order to save the planet!

Left to these people, Welsh identity itself will be destroyed . . . to save the planet. Gesture politics all the way.

Devolution does not work for us Welsh. Devolution benefits a colonial management class that just rubber-stamps decisions made by strangers acting against the Welsh national interest. We must move on to independence and reclaim our country from both our external enemies and their internal allies.

♦ end ♦

 

 

UPDATE 16.04.2020: Conservative MPs from Wales have written to Lesley Griffiths condemning her treatment of Welsh farmers over NVZ. (Did they also send Gary a copy?) Will Plaid Cymru also defend our farmers, or will they side with their Labour friends? (Available here in pdf.)

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Family silver

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

In this post I want to pull together a number of threads without, I hope, complicating the story too much.

TOWER COLLIERY

Let’s start by going back to this post I wrote last December and scroll down to the section headed ‘The left betrays Wales, again’. What I tried to explain was the recent history of the Tower Colliery site since deep mining finished in January 2008.

I wrote that the closure was followed by a short period of opencast mining, to extract some six million tons of anthracite coal. This began in May 2012 and ended in March 2017, when new environment regulations meant that Aberthaw power station could no longer take Tower’s coal.

From what I can make out, this opencast operation was a partnership between the original Tower Colliery Ltd (Incorporated 28.11.1994), Tower Regeneration Ltd (Inc 20.08.2009), and a company from north east England called Hargreaves Services Plc As explained here.

The open cast site seems to be owned by Tower Regeneration with a loan from Forward Sound Ltd, a company linked to Hargreaves.

Tower Colliery Ltd is ultimately owned by Goitre Tower Anthracite Ltd. The 488 Goitre shareholders are I assume former miners and the relatives of former miners. With the maximum individual holding apparently limited to 8,260 of the 2,164,075 shares.

With open cast mining finished, what is to become of this high and windy, but scenically attractive, area?

The answer would appear to be . . . zip wires!

‘TOP O’ THE WORLD, MAM’

The title of this section is taken from that great film noir, White Heat, and the line spoken by Cody Jarrett, played by James Cagney, before the gas tank on which he’s standing explodes. (Obviously, in the movie, Jarrett says ‘Ma’, not ‘Mam’.)

I use it because Rhigos can give that top of the world feeling. And that’s where we are, on the A4061 that makes its way from the A465 Heads of the Valleys road down into the Rhondda. On the map below you’ll see, marked with a red cross, the Rhigos Viewpoint, a large lay-by giving superb views over the surrounding country.

Image courtesy of Google Earth. Click to enlarge.

Not only that, but in bad weather the Rhigos Viewpoint serves as a temporary depot for Rhondda Cynon Taf gritting lorries, allowing them to travel in both directions and avoid the climb up from their regular depots in the valley below.

Why then was the Viewpoint recently put up for sale?

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We see that the online sale document is dated 27 June and Lesley Griffiths’ letter to Lee Waters AM is dated 16 July. Between these dates concerned locals noticed the sale, someone living in Llanelli contacted his AM, Lee Waters, who wrote to Ken ‘Flint Ring’ Skates; the civil servants in Cardiff or wherever realised they’d been rumbled, pulled the advert, and Lesley Griffiths replied to Lee Waters denying any sale.

A little episode that does not reflect well on those who manage Wales for their bosses in London. Lesley Griffiths in particular is getting a bit of a reputation for being averse to the truth.

Returning to Rhigos . . . If we look at this image of the viewpoint and lay-by we see, centre right, Craig y Llyn, the jumping-off point for one of the three planned zip wires.

Image Courtesy of Google. Click to enlarge.

Maybe the real question is, if the Rhigos Viewpoint is to be included in the Zip World project, why was it advertised for sale clearly hoping nobody would notice? Was the plan for it to be bought by some intermediary who would then profit from selling it on to Zip World?

But that suggestion hints at corruption – naughty boy, Jac! – and this is Wales, where corruption is unknown.

There is no question in my mind that the sale of the Rhigos Viewpoint links with the promised arrival of Zip World.

And while the plans shown in the WalesOnline report for the car park, toilets and office accommodation clearly refer to the property owned by Tower Colliery (scroll down to the plan), I believe the Zip World project goes way beyond what is owned by the former miners and their families.

UPDATE 02.08.2019: A message reaches me saying that the advertisement was no ‘mistake’ but was in fact the ‘Welsh Government’ covering its arse by meeting its legal requirements. The land can now be handed over – to Zip World? – and the WG can say, ‘We advertised it, but no one was interested’.

ZIP WORLD

As we know, this is the company that runs zip wires at Penrhyn near Bethesda, and Betws-y-Coed, with underground trampolines at Blaenau Ffestiniog.

There were big changes in Zip World companies towards the end of last year affecting Zip World Ltd, Zip World Fforest Ltd, and Zip World Group Holdings Ltd. What is termed “a management buy-out” took place which means that the parent company is now ZWPV Ltd (Inc 24.10.2018).

But it’s not that straightforward, for at the foot of the final page of the most recent accounts we read that, “Due to the shareholdings in place at ZWPV Limited, the directors consider Sean Taylor to be the ultimate controlling partner”. That is, Sean Wallace Taylor.

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So, if not a one-man band, then the Zip World companies would certainly appear to be under the control of a single individual. And it gets a little more complicated when we look at this new parent company, ZWPV Ltd.

There are six other directors, who all give as their address, ‘Zip World Base Camp, Denbigh Street, Llanrwst, Wales, LL26 0LL’. But for head honcho Taylor, the address given is, ‘8th Floor, One Central Square, Cardiff, United Kingdom, CF10 1FS’.

And among the directors giving the Llanrwst address is Giles Alexander Thorley, who joined the company 21 February 2019. This is odd, because Thorley is CEO of the Development Bank of Wales. So either he’s moonlighting or else he’s there in an official capacity. I hope it’s the latter, which probably means Thorley’s there representing the ‘Welsh Government’.

But let’s return to Taylor’s Cardiff address. Seeing as parent company ZWPV has its address in Llanrwst like everything else and everybody else, why would Taylor’s individual address be in Cardiff?

Or to put it another way, who else might we find on the 8th Floor at One Central Square to explain Taylor using it as his address? Well, the whole floor is the domain of solicitors Blake Morgan, a company that of course has many clients, including the ‘Welsh Government’ and its various agencies.

Which makes a certain sense, and other pieces are falling into place as I write this to support that presumption.

Before moving on to consider what might really be happening up at Rhigos I want to go back to ZWPV. (What does the ‘PV’ stand for?) It was Incorporated 24 October 2018 with Sean Taylor holding the only share. On St David’s Day there was an allotment of over 14 million shares, including 92,500 preference shares.

While under ‘Filing history’, for 12 March, you’ll see ‘Resolutions’, an arrangement entered into with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd, designed to raise money through selling those 92,500 preference shares.

Companies using the term ‘Nominees’ have, or find, investors who remain anonymous.

So if I’m following this thread properly: the main Zip World companies are now huddled under the umbrella of ZWPV Ltd controlled by Sean Wallace Taylor who, through an agreement with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd, is looking to sell shares to investors who will remain anonymous.

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There are a number of other companies bearing the ‘LDC Parallel’ name, numbered I to VIII, with all but the last of them based in Aberdeen.

Finally, we learnt earlier this month of another interesting figure who has joined the Zip World board. This being Greg Evans, who, as this blurb tells us, is . . .

“A former US Navy Petty Officer and Centrica Energy Director of Nuclear and Renewables, he is recognised as a thorough leader in safety leadership in both nuclear and renewable power generation.

His work in renewables saw him leading major infrastructure project (sic), including the design, development and commissioning phases of the £1.2 billion Lincs Wind Farm.”

Intriguing. Though like me, I’m sure you’re wondering why a man with a background in nuclear and renewable energy has joined a tourist operation like Zip World.

I think the answer lies in: ” . . . to strengthen the management team and take the business to the next level”. With the emphasis on ‘next level’. Which might be another way of saying diversification.

One disturbing possibility pulls together Evans’ background in the nuclear industry and the fact that Zip World uses quarries and mines. Could this be about the storage of nuclear waste?

HOW MIGHT IT ALL FIT TOGETHER?

OK, so what’s the big picture?

A company that has been well favoured by the ‘Welsh Government’ in its northern ventures has decided to move south. Details were announced in February this year and probably accounts for the reorganisation in the Zip World group.

Also, in October last year, both Zip World Ltd and Zip World Fforest Ltd cleared charges with Finance Wales Investments (10) Ltd. Seeing as Giles Alexander Thorley, CEO of the Development Bank of Wales, is also a director of FWI (10) Ltd, maybe these charges had to be cleared before he could join the revamped set-up in February this year.

Though note also the involvement of Blake Morgan.

Click to enlarge

Let’s take another look at the layout of the land at Rhigos. It will help explain what I believe is planned.

The picture below is taken from the Viewpoint looking looking west. It shows the ridge of Craig y Llyn, from where one of the zip wires will start, and below it lies the lake to which the name refers, Llyn Fawr. (There’s a Llyn Fach further over.)

You’ll notice that one side of the lake is straight, and that’s because it’s a reservoir, as is Llyn Fach, they both supplied Tower Colliery.

Click to enlarge

It’s time now to introduce someone you’re probably familiar with. Someone else who can be found on the eighth floor with Blake Morgan.

I’m referring to Shire Oak International Ltd (SHI). And whaddya know – one of the two directors of SHI is Mark Shorrock, who was of course the mastermind behind the proposed Swansea tidal lagoon, rejected by the UK government last June.

So is he involved at Rhigos, has Sharrock’s gaze been distracted from Mumbles? Of course, sharing the Cardiff address with Sean Taylor of Zip World could be pure coincidence, but I think not.

For while we all associate Mark Shorrock with tidal lagoons, he is a man with fingers in many pies. There’s quarries, for a start, such as Dean Quarry in Cornwall, from where he hoped to get the stone for the Swansea lagoon wall.

Another ‘pie’ is renewable energy; solar, wind and pumped storage. And companies such as Shire Oak Pumped Storage (Llanddulas) Ltd, which was struck off in April. This is a fate that befalls many of Shorrock’s companies. The boy’s had some bad luck.

Which may be why the ‘Welsh Government’, in the form of Carwyn Jones (remember him?), promised to chip in with £200m when the UK government shafted his plans for Swansea Bay.

Not only that, but he got quite comfy down in the City of my Dreams, and was well regarded by Swansea University. Where the Uni had the third floor of the Civic Centre on Oystermouth Road all to themselves, for their Centre for Regional Innovation, under recently departed Marc Clement.

A local source tells me that at one time there were no fewer than seven Shorrock companies on the third floor. Though getting information on them from either the council or the university proved futile, they always had an excuse.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR RHIGOS?

Whether Shorrock has teamed up with Zip World or not at Rhigos I’m certain that the ‘Welsh Government’ is involved because, through Natural Resources Wales, it owns so much of the land up there; including the two lakes, the escarpment and the forests.

But even if Shorrock is not involved, if his being at the same Cardiff address as Sean Wallace Taylor is pure coincidence, then whatever is planned for Rhigos still goes way beyond zip wires.

The clues are there:

  • There’s the reorganisation of the Zip World group towards the end of last year.
  • Then the new company linked up with LDC Parallel (Nominees) Ltd to find secret investors.
  • We have the CEO of the Development Bank of Wales becoming a director of the new Zip World parent company. (To look after ‘Welsh Government’ interests, in the form of land and assets to be handed over?)
  • Then there’s the curious aborted sale of a prime piece of property in the form of the Rhigos Viewpoint that saw a ‘Welsh Government’ Minister misleading us.
  • Finally, a new director joins Zip World very recently who has no experience in tourism, but whose field of expertise is nuclear and renewable energy.

To understand what I think is happening at Rhigos you have to remember that the ‘Welsh Government’ has massive assets in publicly-owned land, much of it held by Natural Resources Wales, which of course took over Forestry Commission land. Forestry managed by NRW accounts for 6% of the total area of Wales.

There is pressure from various quarters to ‘monetise’ these assets, and if that can be done behind a green smokescreen then so much the better. We see it all over Wales in forests where thousands of trees have been felled to make way for wind turbines and the roads serving them. More damage is done in building, transporting and erecting wind turbines than they ever recoup in their short working lives.

From Natural Resources Wales website. Click to enlarge

The high ground at Rhigos provides the perfect opportunity to ‘monetise’ some NRW assets. There may indeed be zip wires, but they won’t come alone. There will be cabins, maybe a hotel and other facilities, perhaps wind turbines and some scheme involving Llyn Fawr and Llyn Fach. Perhaps even the storage of nuclear waste.

With the package dressed up as an ‘adventure resort’ such as Gavin Woodhouse promised for the nearby Afan Valley. For, remember, with the M4 and the Heads of the Valleys road providing access, plus almost two million people within 40 miles of Rhigos, there is a much bigger customer potential than for any venture in the north.

Whatever is planned for Rhigos, the ‘Welsh Government’ should pause and ask itself what it’s getting involved in, and with whom. For example, is there any concern over ZWPV’s anonymous backers?

If Shorrock’s involved, then is he being thrown a bone for losing out on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon? And if so, do we owe him anything?

And if we’re going to give honesty a romp in the summer sunshine, then maybe we can also have explained to us the relationship between the ‘Welsh Government’ and its assorted agencies on the one hand, and certain favoured Cardiff legal firms and people like Sean Wallace Taylor and Mark Christopher Shorrock on the other?

How do it all fit together, innit?

To conclude; my reading of the Rhigos situation is that deals are being struck in the background, with our assets; and this will result in some people making a lot of money, yet once again, we, the Welsh people, will lose out.

But this is unavoidable in a colonialist environment when the local political class can be dictated to by their colonial masters and also wound around the fingers of the money men.

An independent Wales run by such people – or those hoping to replace them – would see us receiving food parcels from Venezuela. And they’d probably celebrate such shows of ‘solidarity’.

♦ end ♦

 

Pot Pourri 12.12.2018

As you can see, this is another big one. But it’s made up of five separate reports: Hendy wind farm, recent events in Swansea and Llanelli which may – or may not – be linked, the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, the redevelopment of the Tower opencast site, and finally, the leadership election in a non-existent political party.

So you can either make yourself a panad, settle down and go through the lot in one go. Alternatively, you can take them one at a time. The choice is yours.

Unless something big crops up this might be my last posting until 2019. If that’s how it turns out, then . . .

HENDY WIND FARM: WHO GAVE THE WORD? WHEN? WHY?

A few weeks ago, in Corruption in the Wind, I looked at three wind farms: Bryn Blaen, near Llangurig; Rhoscrowther, near Milford Haven; and Hendy, near Crossgates. All being promoted by the same property company. 

Hendy wind farm merits another visit.

You’ll recall that Hendy was refused planning permission by Powys County Council and this decision was upheld by a planning inspector in May this year. But then, in late October, Lesley Griffiths, Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Secretary for the management team in Cardiff docks, said that she would over-rule the planning inspector’s decision and allow Hendy to proceed.

The landscape to be desecrated by Hendy wind farm, click to enlarge

In the earlier piece I argued that what triggered the change of heart over Hendy was the High Court decision in September to finally put a stop to the Rhoscrowther project on the Milford Haven Waterway.

Prior to that High Court decision the developers had Bryn Blaen in the bag, were hopeful of getting Rhoscrowther, and were probably resigned to writing off Hendy, taking the view that two out of three ain’t that bad. But once Rhoscrowther was lost they were down to one out of three – they had to have Hendy.

Here’s the sequence of events leading to where we are at present.

The Construction Environmental Management Plan we encountered in the bullet points above should have been produced before work started, but in the case of Hendy it’s dated November 19, six weeks after on-site work started. 

The more I think about it, the more I believe there’s only one way to explain the panicky happenings at Hendy.

The decision to allow the Hendy wind farm was taken in London after approaches by the developers following the Rhoscrowther decision. (For despite the Planning Inspectorate having a desk in Cardiff it answers to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London.)

A political decision taken in London was passed to the Planning Inspectorate and only belatedly relayed to Lesley Griffiths when someone remembered about devolution. (Further proof that what masquerades as the ‘Welsh Government’ is just London’s management team in Wales.)

Worth mentioning may be that the landowner at Hendy is Sir Robert John Green-Price 5th Bt. It’s reasonable to assume that Sandhurst-educated Sir Robert has influential friends. It’s equally reasonable to assume that the developers, Marcus Owen Shepherd, Matthew Simon Weiner and Richard Upton, also ‘know people’.

Last week the developers were pile-driving at the source of the Edw, a Special Area of Conservation. All being done in the name of ‘conservation’ and ‘the environment’. The Edw runs south to join the Wye at Aberedw.

Pile-driving in an SAC at the source of the Edw, click to enlarge

Where, last Sunday, a day after the Cilmeri commemoration, people remembered a hero who may have been betrayed. How fitting that they should gather at Aberedw, by a river being polluted by modern invaders assisted by today’s traitors.

TIDAL LAGOON PUTTING WIND UP WIND FARMERS?

One of the more interesting schemes promoted in Wales in recent years was the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. It eventually failed because the UK government refused to support it.

Yet it had a great deal of backing from people who pointed out that the electricity generated by the Swansea lagoon, a relatively small prototype, was bound to be expensive, but the possibilities of tidal power are immense and larger lagoons would be cheaper all round. For one thing tides, unlike wind, are entirely predictable and therefore reliable.

Not far away from the proposed tidal lagoon we saw one of the more extravagant schemes mooted in recent years in the £225m Wellness Village in Llanelli’s Delta swamp, being promoted chiefly by Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James and Swansea academic Marc Clement, the latter a Turk by birth.

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This project was to be part-funded from the £1.3bn Swansea Bay city deal.

Clement and a few other senior academics in Swansea, including the vice-chancellor, were recently suspended and it was generally agreed that this was somehow connected with the Wellness Village, certainly Clement was connected. Though no Llanelli connection could be established for vice-chancellor Richard B Davies or the other two, unnamed, persons who were suspended.

It was no surprise then that following the Swansea suspensions the Wellness Village seemed to get poorly. Within a very short time the infection spread and now a review has been ordered of the whole city region deal.

But why should the London government suddenly be so concerned about doings in south west Wales?

I’ve been giving this matter some thought, and here’s what I think.

Just a few miles from Swansea Bay lies Mynydd y Gwair, on the northern outskirts of the city. This was an area of wild and unspoilt upland . . . until fat grants were introduced for wind turbines.

Then the owner of Mynydd y Gwair, the Beaufort Estate (Prop. Duke of Beaufort), decided it could make millions by covering this beautiful area with ugly, useless, bird-killing wind turbines. This is the same Beaufort Estate that ten years ago charged the city council £280,000 to put a footbridge over the Tawe near the Liberty Stadium.

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Beaufort and his ilk are descended from medieval robber barons, and they still know how to extract money from the rest of us.

It’s the same across this island. In Scotland the descendants of the Parcel of Rogues and assorted foreign landowners are minting it with wind turbines; while in England it’s a similar story, with former PM David Cameron’s father-in-law among those raking it in.

And linked with them are the property men and experts who will do all the dirty work, and reap their own rewards, those we see behind the Hendy wind farm.

And so there must be a possibility that the UK government is ‘reviewing’ the Swansea Bay city deal because Swansea council is threatening to resurrect the tidal lagoon, for that might be disastrous for the wind farmers who are so close to the Tory party, and in many instances, fund it.

‘But, Jac, what about the suspensions at Swansea University and the Wellness Village?’

The Wellness Village was up Shit Creek anyway, no private money was going to appear. It has simply been written off early before any more public money is wasted. As for the suspensions, the Wellness Village might have been a useful distraction.

Put the Wellness Village to one side and remember that the university is also heavily involved with Tidal Lagoon Mk II. It was the university that commissioned the recent report – on behalf of the Swansea Bay City Region – into reviving the barrage project.

Then look at the plan. Swansea University’s new Bay Campus is at the eastern landfall of the proposed lagoon. Students would have fought to get into a university with its own private beach which also overlooked a ground-breaking tidal lagoon offering many recreational facilities.

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But as I say, a revived Swansea tidal lagoon might be bad news for those behind Hendy wind farm, and for Lord Beaufort, also for the repackaged Parcel of Rogues, and of course for Sam Cam’s daddy.

We may need to look no further to explain the UK government’s decision to ‘review’ the Swansea Bay city deal.

BODNANT WELSH FOOD CENTRE

Another recent business failure was the collapse of the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in Dyffryn Conwy. Though it now looks as though it has been saved by local teacake tycoon Richard Reynolds (who I’m sure is no relation to Rikki Reynolds of Weep for Wales notoriety).

In all the excitement too many have neglected to ask the basic questions about Bodnant, such as: Who’s calling the shots? Why was a grant of £6.5m made? Should that money have been allocated? Was the money used well? Why did Bodnant Food Centre collapse? What happens now?

The first thing to explain – and this is fundamental to understanding the bigger picture – is that the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, opened in 2012 by Charles Windsor, is part of the Bodnant Estate, run by The Hon Michael Duncan McLaren QC, educated at Eton and Cambridge.

Michael McLaren’s father was the third Baron Aberconway, but this son has not succeeded to the title because he’s trumped by an older half-brother, Henry Charles McLaren, from his father’s first marriage (though there may be a dispute over entitlement).

Bodnant Estate, click to enlarge

You won’t find Bodnant Welsh Food Centre on the Companies House website because it trades as Furnace Farm Ltd, and this company was Incorporated with Companies House 20 October 2005. Furnace Farm is where we find the venture that received the £6.5m grant, but this is little more than a fancy shop selling overpriced food. 

For as a source put it to me: Dry home cured bacon for sale at £23/kg, yet both butchers at Llanrwst, some four miles away, were selling at £7.55/kg! Both butchers from known local sources!!”

Maybe at this point I should explain that despite not having succeeded to the title, Michael McLaren owns the whole shooting match, for in this document (page 5), the financial statement for year ending 31.01.2013, we read, “The company (Furnace Farm Ltd) entered into transactions with the Bodnant Estate which is owned by The Hon Michael McLaren”.

In addition to the Bodnant Estate and the Welsh Food Centre we have of course the well-known Bodnant Garden, owned by the National Trust but run by Michael McLaren as if he owns it. Then there’s Bodnant Garden Nursery Ltd, a private company with directors Michael McLaren, his wife Caroline, his mother, Lady Aberconwy, and Brian Eric Alcock.

The McLarens have three children: Angus John Melville, Iona Ann Mariel and Hamish Charles Duncan. Nice to see our Welsh aristocracy keeping with those names that resonate through our history.

Alcock’s background is in furniture, in north west England, with a previous directorship in Malbry Furniture (Sales) Ltd (wound up in May 1992), then Burford House Furniture Ltd (dissolved in August 2013).

So how did Alcock, with his IKEA-rivalling career in furniture, get involved with Michael McLaren in Bodnant Garden Nursery Ltd?

The other company in the family group is Bodnant Joinery Ltd, directors Michael and Caroline McLaren.

Giving us a number of interlinked enterprises on the Bodnant Estate, and all of them controlled by The Hon Michael McLaren QC. Invariably, with such an arrangement, there will be trading and lending between the different entities.

For example, that document I linked to earlier tells us that by January 2013 Furnace Farm Ltd owed Michael McLaren £4,969,122. By 31.01.2014 it’s up to £5,997,109. On 31.01.2015 it’s down a little to £5,862,901. A year later there is no specific mention of McLaren but the amount owed to all creditors has increased from £6,804,203 in 2015 to £7,921,963. By 2017 the figure is up to £8,981,591.

In that final financial statement we are also told that Furnace Farm Ltd lost before tax £1,497,444, up from £1,088,324 the previous year.

Just as well the company had a grant of £6.5m.

The problem with assessing how the grant was spent is that Furnace Farm Ltd is much more than just The Welsh Food Centre. For it also includes accommodation, at the farmhouse. In fact, the Estate offers plenty of accommodation.

And let’s not forget the National Beekeeping Centre of Wales.

To complicate the picture further, when I went to the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) website I could find nothing for either Furnace Farm Ltd or Bodnant Welsh Food Centre.

So eventually I telephoned WEFO, and I was surprised to learn that the name of the project was in fact the Centre of Excellence for Welsh Food, a name I have not seen used.(But I am only too familiar with this practice for making it difficult to make enquiries.) Here are the details

So the question becomes – on what was the £6,444,107 spent? And after going back to WEFO I was told that, “Furnace Farm Ltd received funding of £237,032 from the Processing and Marketing Grant scheme . . . enabled the company to erect a new bespoke building complex . . . “.

So that’s £6,681,139, and counting?

The document I’ve linked to reads: “Centre of Excellence for Welsh Food The adaptation of abandoned farm buildings for economic use . . . 5 minutes from the A55 . . . private investor is providing 50% of the costs . . . project aims to create a retail outlet for local products, catering facilities for innovation with local food and a culinary school.”

Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, image courtesy of Business Leader, click to enlarge

The mention of “abandoned farm buildings” being adapted “for economic use” may refer to the farmhouse I mentioned earlier, now being used as a holiday let, rather than having anything to do with food excellence.

The latest update tells us that the new owner of the food centre, who plans to re-open on February 1st, and is said to be leasing the buildings from the McLarens, told the Daily Post: “It (Bodnant Welsh Food Centre) has been poorly run and we want to bring it back to what it was . . . with genuine authentic local produce in the shop . . . We can’t get away with charging a premium for something you can pick up in the supermarket.”

How very true. But then, if civil servants and/or politicians want to give someone millions of pounds to spend on property he already owns, then whether a retail outlet succeeds or not may be of little consequence in the bigger scheme of things.

The big question for me is: Why did anyone think it was a good use of EU funding to give millions of pounds to a wealthy aristocrat to open a London-prices shop in the Conwy Valley, especially as such funding was not supposed to be given for retail purposes?

And what guarantees do we have that such ‘misjudgements’ will never occur again?

THE LEFT BETRAYS WALES, AGAIN

This is another little tale that gets rather complicated, so let me set the scene with some background information. (Sorry, no music.)

You’ll recall that in December 1994, under threat of closure, Tower Colliery at Hirwaun was bought out by its miners under the leadership of Tyrone O’Sullivan. This made them mine-owners but paradoxically they also became deities in the socialist pantheon.

Tower Colliery was worked until it became uneconomic and closed in January 2008. What is less well known is that following the closure there was a period of opencast mining in the area.

This explains the formation of Tower Newco Ltd which soon changed its name to Tower Regeneration Ltd, a company dedicated to, “Open cast coal working” and “Development of building projects”. The second of those presumably following the ensuing clean-up operations.

Opencast mining began in May 2012, and if it hasn’t already ended, it is scheduled to end this month.

At its birth, Tower Newco Ltd had a single director named on the Certificate of Incorporation, a Kevin Dougan, of Durham. He was soon joined by others including O’Sullivan and also by Ian Anthony Charles Parkin, another businessman from north east England.

If we turn to the Tower Regeneration website, and scroll down to the bottom we find a link to a company called Hargreaves. It’s no surprise to learn that Hargreaves Services plc is also based in Durham, and among its directors we find Kevin James Stewart Dougan.

Almost immediately it was set up Tower Regeneration Ltd took out a loan with Forward Sound Ltd, of Durham, a company that had been set up less than a year before Tower Regeneration. In fact, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Forward Sound was set up specifically to capitalise on the Tower opencast project.

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Why the strong Durham connection? Well, on a practical level it was a coal-mining area, but on the emotional plane Durham to the bruvvers means the annual Miners’ Gala; it conjures up images of comradely solidarity, fluttering banners and fiery speeches.

On 1 December 2017 the ubiquitous Dougan ceased to be a director at Hargreaves Services, Tower Regeneration, and Forward Sound, but rejoined Tower Regeneration the very next day . . . though Companies House wasn’t notified until 27 April this year!

So from the outset, the Tower opencast and regeneration project has been funded and controlled by English interests. And now they’re lining up to get their hands on the money available for ‘restoration’ work. And we are talking many millions of pounds here.

And as might be expected, the English Labour Party in Wales is eager to play its allotted role in short-changing Wales, again.

It seems that the prettying up is to be done by The Land Restoration Trust, which is both a charity (No 1138337) and a company, though for some reason, on its website it’s called The Land Trust. Its headquarters are in Warrington and it specialises in “open space for community benefit”, much of that open space seems to be reclaimed industrial land, especially in former coalfields.

The Land Restoration Trust was set up by the Coalfields and Joint Ventures Division of the now defunct English Partnerships, “the national regeneration agency for England”, which was succeeded in December 2008 by the Homes and Communities Agency, since re-named Homes England.

Clearly the Land Restoration Trust is an England-only body. Though the website has pages for Scotland and Wales both read: “We currently do not manage any sites in (Scotland/Wales) although we are working hard to do so. If you would like discuss any potential opportunities please contact our Business Development team.”

Despite having no sites in Wales Alison Whitehead, described as ‘Development Manager’, enjoys visiting sites in Wales! But then, Alison, as her Linkedin profile tells us, was ‘Development Manager for North of England and North Wales’.

On 31 January 2018 a reception was held for the ‘Land Trust’ at the Senedd. It was hosted by Vikki Howells the Labour AM for Cynon Valley. Here’s the report from the Land Restoration Trust website.

And below you’ll see what Howells put out on Facebook the following day. Note that she mentions “ownership and management options”. In fact, it had already been decided behind the scenes, and years ago, making the Senedd reception no more than a PR exercise.

click to enlarge

Vikki Howells is involved for no better reason than she’s the local AM, having been elected in 2016 because she was the donkey with the red rosette. Does she really understand what’s gone on at Tower and who owns what?

Though if Ms Howells was so keen to inform the Cynon Valley public then she should have explained why her administration has abrogated its responsibilities and rolled back devolution. And also explained why the profits from developing this local site will be leaving Wales.

The Tower opencast operation didn’t last for much more than six years, it employed few, and when repayment of loans, leasing and hiring are taken into account, it wasn’t that profitable, certainly not for Tower. The big beneficiary appears to have been Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd, renamed Hargreaves Land Ltd in June 2018.

(It should go without saying that Kevin James Stewart Dougan ceased to be a director of Hargreaves Land on 1 December 2017. What is the significance of that date?)

Hargreaves Surface Mining was set up in October 2011, just before opencast mining began at Tower. The timing is no coincidence. Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd joined a host of new companies that had been created in north east England to make big bucks out of a mining operation in Wales.

An operation that put little money into the local economy but enriched strangers. It also served the purpose of being the necessary precursor to the second stage of the project that will inherit a large tract of land together with millions of pounds to landscape and redevelop it.

Who knows what will be done on the old Tower opencast site. Housing? A leisure resort such as we see not far away in the Afan Valley? One thing I predict with certainty – as with the opencast site, the profits will leave Wales.

Vikki Howells seems to envision the development at Tower linking with the Rhondda Tunnel . . . owned by Highways England!

click to enlarge

Or maybe it’ll be more wind turbines, for while they generate little or no electricity they certainly produce massive incomes for those who operate them, and the landowners involved. 

It’s difficult to believe that all this is happening after twenty years of devolution. But as I’ve argued many times, devolution is a sham, a façade; and behind that façade Wales is being ripped off and inexorably assimilated into England.

This assimilation along with the exploitation we see at Hendy and Mynydd y Gwair, Bodnant and Tower, is being facilitated by socialists, and the Labour Party, doing what they always do – selling Wales down the river.

GREEN PARTY OF ENGLANDANDWALES

Earlier this year members of the self-styled ‘Wales Green Party’ voted against becoming a Wales Green Party, choosing to remain part of the Green Party of Englandandwales and calling themselves The Green Party in Wales. Whereupon the party ‘leader’ defected to Plaid Cymru.

The confusion that resulted may be reflected in the fact that the party website seems to have been abandoned, with nothing posted since 10 July.

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Yet despite all the recent tribulations this Green Party of England in Wales is currently holding a leadership election. Yes, that’s a leadership contest to a non-existent party! Among those standing is Anthony Slaughter.

So who is he? Well, it should go without saying that he’s not Welsh. He lives in Penarth and seems to have a high regard for himself, adopting that tone of moral and intellectual superiority that so endears the Greens to me.

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And he spreads his talents wide, for when he’s not saving the planet he’s up in London demanding something called A People’s Vote, supporting the Stansted 15, and arguing for 20 mph speed limits. Sainthood can’t be far away.

But being a Green he’s probably a practising pagan. (Or am I thinking, vegan?)

Obviously there’s no such thing as the Wales Green Party, but then, there’s no such thing as the Welsh Labour Party either, it’s just a label, there’s nothing registered with the Electoral Commission. 

So maybe the Greens take their lead from the Labour Party, because they often seem close, almost as if the Greens are the idealistic younger relative indulged by the more staid Labour Party. 

And the closeness isn’t confined to the Greens, it seems to extend to the environmentalist movement as a whole, maybe it’s something to do with the self-absorbed regarding themselves as ‘progressive’

This perhaps explains why public money was recently spent on foot massage by the Future Generations Commissioner, that very close friend of the late Carl Sargeant.

click to enlarge

But it’s not just Labour that likes to cwtch up to those who think that the examples of Hendy and Mynydd y Gwair should be replicated on every pristine landscape in Wales. Who believe that carving up the countryside to lay thousands of tons of concrete is good environmental practice.

I mentioned that Slaughter, the would-be leader of the non-existent party, lives in Penarth. Where I’m told certain Plaidistas – the names Clubb and Wilton were mentioned – have been keen to do electoral deals with these Wales-rejecting colonialists.

But then, nothing surprises me any more, whether it’s the Greens, Plaid Cymru, or the Labour Party. They all pursue their own agendas, driven by narrow ideology and trapped within dogmas, rather than pragmatically promoting what’s best for the Welsh people.

That’s why they’ve failed us, and that’s why time is running out for all of them.

end ♦

 

Housing in Colonial Wales: The Sun King teams up with The Godfather

Let’s begin by setting out my stall: Housing in Wales is dysfunctional, inefficient, corrupt, wasteful of public funding, damaging to Welsh community life, and undermines Welsh nationhood.

It’s a great system . . . but not for the Welsh.

LE ROI SOLEIL

In an earlier post (scroll down to the section ‘Who will buy . . . ‘), we met Dr Glen Peters. An interesting character, Glen.

Before moving to Wales he was a senior partner in PwC, one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms, those pillars of the City of London that give glowing reports of financial health to firms about to head up Shit Creek and when they’re not doing that they’re extolling the probity of corrupt third world regimes.

The ‘Big Four’ will do and say anything for money. Making Peters a man with an interesting past.

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He seems to have arrived in Wales in 2010 and in December of that year he founded Western Solar Ltd.

He also launched himself as the beneficent and culture-loving squire with Menter Rhosygilwen, a charity (No 1139848) which, to judge by its programme, at least recognises it is in Wales. Rhosygilwen being the name of his mansion not far from Cilgerran in north Pembrokeshire; with performances taking place in Neuadd y Dderwen, which looks like a set for Game of Thrones. Neuadd y Dderwen must have cost a few bob.

Being a man who understands money it didn’t take Glen long to realise how easy it is to screw grants out of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’. For it came to pass that he received £141,000 to turn an old cowshed into a small factory turning out units for eco-friendly homes.

Six such properties were built in the off-the-beaten-track hamlet of Glanrhyd, a development called Pentre Solar. We are told that these were built specifically for the Ateb group (formerly Pembrokeshire Housing) who took all six of them for £900,000. Money it had been loaned by the aforementioned and self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

But given that there is no worthwhile oversight or monitoring of ‘loans’ it’s unlikely this money will ever be repaid. As far as the ‘Welsh Government’ is concerned, once the money is gone, and the boxes are ticked, that’s the end of it.

Though there are a number of curious features about this deal.

Let’s start with the fact that in a number of places it’s claimed that these eco homes were built for half the price of traditional brick-built homes. For example, in this video, at 0:32, by Peters himself. Yet Ateb paid £900,000 for six properties, £150,000 per home.

To build a traditional 2/3-bedroom, semi-detached house in north Pembrokeshire would cost £90,000 – 120,000. Which means that if Glen Peters is right, and he could build his houses for half that, then he made a very tidy profit when Ateb paid him £150,000 per house.

Something else that troubles me is that housing associations like Ateb already receive millions of pounds every year from various funding streams, so why was it necessary to bung them another £900,000? Because I’m damn sure the Tŷ Solar properties were not bought to meet a pressing local demand out in the middle of nowhere.

Question 1: Can Ateb guarantee that the houses at Glanrhyd, paid for with Welsh public funding, were allocated to Welsh people?

Whatever the answers, a lot of moolah has already gone west and there’s more on the way. Next up is a 15-home ‘garden village’ for Boncath. Why Boncath? Well it might be because that’s where Victoria Beard lives. ‘Who’s she, Jac?’ you demand.

Well, she appeared on the website a few months back (before I wrote my earlier piece), as one of the locals connected with, or employed by, Menter Rhosygilwen. Though I’m told she was actually employed by Pembrokeshire county council before branching out on her own with Foresight She Ltd, yet another ‘consultancy’ that seems to have gone the way of all flesh.

BURRY PORT

Also mentioned in the piece I linked to regarding Boncath is “a 30-unit scheme of affordable homes already lined up for a site in Carmarthenshire on behalf of Carmarthenshire County Council”. To be specific, this development is in Burry Port, to the west of Llanelli.

For some reason Burry Port has been targeted for excessive development in recent years with hundreds of new houses built, almost all of which have been bought by English buyers, mainly retirees or those close to retirement. Yet more housing is planned – and Plaid Cymru welcomes it!

Councillor Alun Lenny is quoted as saying, “There’s 103 first-step homes here, affordable homes, all low cost homes”. Yet the WalesOnline report in which he’s quoted tells us: “There will be eight different house types on the new development, mainly two and three-bedroom homes, as well as some with four bedrooms, with the majority semi-detached.” And goes on to say: “21 of the 103 homes will be offered as affordable housing for sale or rent”.

Four-bedroom houses are not “first-step homes”.

Plaid Cymru really hasn’t got a clue. They don’t even understand what they’re giving planning permission for. No wonder Wales is in the mess it is. Though it would have been nice if the report had told us who plans to build these houses, and how much public funding is involved.

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Question 2: For Plaid Cymru. Can you offer any promises that these “affordable homes” will be bought by local people and can you guarantee that the properties in the social housing “ghetto” (mentioned in the report) will be allocated to local people?

The development with which Glen Peters is involved in Burry Port, the “divided town which didn’t want any more new homes”, is for 32 homes to be built by Cartrefi Croeso Cyf., which we looked at in the previous post. Let’s remind ourselves what we read there.

The managing director of Cartrefi Croeso is Robin Staines, and the sole directors are Jacob Morgan and Sarah Wendy Walters, also employees of Carmarthenshire county council. Which effectively means that this company belongs to Mark Vincent James, the Cardiff Bay property magnate who doubles up as CEO of Cyngor Sir Gâr.

But why would a council with its own housing department need Cartrefi Croeso? I suppose an obvious answer might be that the county can no longer build new council housing. But then, there are any number of housing associations operating in the county – shouldn’t they be filling the gap? The obvious answer to that is, yes they should. And to all intents and purposes they are.

But Mark James doesn’t control those housing associations.

‘STICK ON A FEW SOLAR PANELS – BINGO!’

Even so, let’s not be too hard on Jamesie Boy, because he’s received great encouragement from (the aforementioned and self-styled) ‘Welsh Government’; that shower is providing the funding for what appear to be the retirement properties Cartrefi Croeso plans to build.

Specifically, the funding comes from the Innovative Housing Programme, launched in February 2017. In its first year the IHP was restricted to Registered Social Landlords and councils, but in its second year – beginning April 2018 – it was open to private companies, which explains the involvement of Cartrefi Croeso. For although it’s owned by the council it is a private company and registered as such with Companies House.

Though it seems to have given itself a wide remit, as shown in the panel below, taken from the Companies House entry. The first two categories, 41100 and 41202, obviously cover the Burry Port development, but the other two suggest it might be worth keeping an eye on Cartrefi Croeso.

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Over three years the Innovative Housing Programme budget will shell out £90m.

We’ve come a long way from the £141,000 given to Glen Peters to convert the old cowshed. We’ve considered a lot of Welsh public funding, and you have to ask how much benefit Welsh people and Welsh communities will derive from this expenditure. As I mentioned earlier, the properties being built by Mark James Cartrefi Croeso in Burry Port are almost certainly retirement properties.

Given the excessive housebuilding the town has seen in recent years, and the buyers’ profile, I can’t help wondering if someone, somewhere, has designated Burry Port a retirement settlement. Perhaps the locals should be informed?

Question 3: For Lesley Griffiths. Why is your self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ giving public funding to private companies to build new homes – for which there may be no local demand – when you already fund countless housing associations and there is already a private sector building open market dwellings?

Almost inevitably, there are hidden costs to the Welsh public purse, for in this article from last week’s Tivyside Advertiser Glen Peters tells us that to build his houses, “Welsh tree trunks will arrive at one end and houses will emerge from the other” . . . which will mean paying ‘re-wilders’ and the like to plant more trees.

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As I said earlier, it’s a great system . . . but not for us.

LABYRINTHINE, CORRUPT, COLONIALIST

Looking at the wider picture, housing in Wales is an absolute shambles. I could write a book about it, but it would be too depressing, it would drive me to drink. One example, again from the Wild West, might serve to explain what I mean.

Ateb has a subsidiary named Mill Bay Homes. I’ve written about Mill Bay Homes more than once, and had threats from solicitors for suggesting that everything was not above board. Just type ‘Mill Bay Homes’ into the Search box at the top of the sidebar.

Since then, Mill Bay Homes has gone entirely private, is no longer a Registered Social Landlord, and yet is still somehow part of the Ateb group. But despite being a free-flying bird MBH still owes the parent company £5.5m, secured with a floating charge over everything MBH has.

Much of this five-and-a-half million pounds – and the debt was larger at one time – is public funding given to Ateb, then transferred to Mill Bay Homes for it to build nice properties in Pembrokeshire for investors, retirees, and those seeking a holiday home.

How about that – holiday homes funded from the Welsh public purse!

Even if you’ve never heard of Walter Scott’s Marmion I bet you’ll be familiar with “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive”. Though I’m not for one minute suggesting that it’s apposite to the relationship between the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, the Ateb group and Mill Bay Homes.

To explain how convoluted and confusing it can all get when publicly-funded bodies spawn private companies let us hie to Cilgerran, just a short distance from Glen Peter’s sumptuous pad.

There we find properties being built by Mill Bay Homes. Here’s one for sale with John Francis and it offers ‘Shared Ownership’ (actually a shared lease). Ateb, the Registered Social Landlord, is allowed to offer Shared Ownership, but Mill Bay Homes, the private company, is not.

Question 4: I throw this one out for anyone. Seeing as private company, non-RSL, Mill Bay Homes should not be offering buyers ‘Shared Ownership’ why is it allowed to do so?

Maybe I’m wasting my time, for as I say, there is no effective monitoring or oversight of housing associations.

It’s a jungle that gets more impenetrable every year. But that’s how housing associations like it. That’s how the ‘Welsh Government’ likes it. And it’s certainly how those who control devolution in Wales like it. You and I are not supposed to understand . . . or question.

But sod it, because I’m going to end with some questions for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’:

  • Why do you allow the building of so many houses Wales doesn’t need, at prices most Welsh people can’t afford, and often in places where these properties are not needed?
  • Given the way housing associations operate tens of million of pounds every year is spent housing people with no Welsh connections, so how difficult would it be to insist on a five-year residency qualification for social housing, and then divert the money saved to the NHS and education?
  • Why do you not ban publicly-funded bodies from setting up private subsidiaries that often receive indirect public funding and yet over which you have even less influence than the parent?
  • If you’re serious about encouraging the private sector why threaten it with these private subsidiaries that also have the unfair advantage of insider knowledge?
  • Will you examine the relationship between Ateb and Mill Bay Homes and all similar publicly-funded bodies with private subsidiaries?
  • Can you offer a definition of ‘affordable housing’?
  • Thinking of Burry Port, do you ever consult local people over plans for their community – real locals?
  • Explain how it is in the interests of Wales to attract an elderly population from outside of Wales?
  • Will you revisit the £900,000 given to Ateb to purchase six properties from Western Solar Ltd that – if the builder is correct – cost less than half of that sum to build?
  • Why do we have so many housing associations competing with each other, duplicating each other’s role, and all in receipt of public funding? How much do you estimate could be saved from mergers, simply on chief executives’ salaries?
  • What do you intend doing to help those in the south east currently being outbid in the local property market by commuters from Bristol?
  • Why don’t you relieve local authorities of the hassle by imposing a national 200% council tax on all second homes? And close the loophole.
  • Can you guarantee that there are no properties sold as holiday homes that were built with public funding, or bought using one of the many schemes you offer to help people buy a home?
  • Even though you’ve had twenty years, why have you found it impossible to develop a housing sector attuned to and serving the needs of Welsh people?

♦ end ♦

 

Labour: A Beast on its Last Legs?

I have decided to re-visit the May 7th General Election partly because I haven’t posted anything for over a week and partly because much has been said since I published my earlier analysis on the 11th.

A recent example would be what was said by Kim Howells, former MP for Pontypridd, on BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme on May 24th, arguing that Labour didn’t do as badly in Wales as in England because ” . . . people have greater trust in Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Assembly Government . . . “. Which is a strange thing to say. Not Kim Howellsleast because this was a UK General Election, in which Carwyn Jones and his team were sidelined. Even when we had the televised debate of Welsh party leaders Labour was represented by Owen Smith MP not Carwyn Jones AM.

Yet we are expected to believe that when Dai and Sharon Public went to vote each thought, ‘Yes, I know Miliband is a twonk, and the party is run by a metropolitan elite that doesn’t give a toss about people like me, but I shall still vote Labour because I am so impressed with Carl Sargeant, and Lesley Griffiths . . . and then there’s that Theodore Huckle – what a wonderful Counsel General! This argument is – as we political commentators are wont to say – a load of old bollocks.

Though if Howells is right, then it’s a hell of a put-down for the aforementioned Owen Smith and his parliamentary colleagues. And not without irony. For it means that Welsh Labour MPs escaped paying the price for their blind obedience to the metropolitan elite because of the “trust” people have in an Assembly many of them resent as a challenge to their position, an institution many of them do not wish to see attain any further powers.

Though if Howells really believes what he said maybe this chimes with a regularly repeated theory that says Labour in Wales has avoided the fate of its Caledonian comrades because it adapted better to devolution, with part of that adaptation being the development of a kind of ‘nationalism with a small n’ that puts some distance between the Labour Party in Wales and its bosses in London. The “clear red water” suggested by former First Minister Rhodri Morgan. Which if true, only reminds us again of the irony, even hypocrisy, attaching to the attitudes of Labour MPs from Wales.

Something else Kim Howells said was, “If we ever want to be back in government again, we need to win southern England”. This no doubt is the argument we’ve heard over and over since May 7th that says Labour must appeal to the ‘aspirational’. Yet Labour appealing to the aspirational / southern England puts it in direct competition with the Conservative Party, so where does that leave Labour’s traditional heartlands and supporters? And how does a Labour Party winning over voters in the Home Counties with promises of cuts in public services, and the privatisation of the NHS, win back Glasgow and Dundee? Come to that, what would such a party have to say to most Welsh voters? It can’t be done. It’s a circle that cannot be squared.

This is the nightmare scenario for Labour, the day of reckoning that was postponed by the razzmatazz and flim-flam of the Blair era. For almost a century, Labour relied on a unionised working class with a few idealists and romantics from further up the social ladder to smooth over the rough edges. A support base that rapidly declined in the closing decades of the twentieth century. What remains of the unionised working class is no longer umbilicaly tied to the party. The children and grandchildren of those long-gone miners, steelworkers, dockers, etc, either still vote Labour out of habit or, increasingly, don’t vote at all, or else are quite happy to give their votes to other parties.

The only obvious replacement for this lost support appears to be immigrants to the UK. But this is a poisoned chalice. For being supported by immigrants (and doing well in inner cities) allows the Tory media to accuse Labour of being ‘soft on immigration’ and of favouring ‘benefit scroungers’. And there just aren’t enough immigrants, nor a large enough ethnic minority population, for Labour to emulate the Democratic Party in the USA. (The dream of many Labourites.)

If Labour follows the advice that tells it to appeal to the aspirational and to woo southern England then it can kEluned Morganiss Scotland good-bye for ever, and it will haemorrhage support in traditional heartlands south of the border. In this scenario, Labour’s only hope of future success is to replace the Conservative Party by, effectively, becoming more Conservative than the Conservatives. But why should anyone who normally votes Tory consider voting Labour (with its history) even if it promises to deport all foreigners, sterilise the poor, and abolish all taxation?

Let’s go back to former communist and NUM official Kim Howells. He believes the party is in the “deepest crisis” he can remember. He went on, “If the Labour party doesn’t come up with fresh thinking, with some radical analysis of what’s going on in society and what people need out of society, it could well dwindle to a very small number of MPs.” Ed Miliband was “dull”, Labour’s next leader would need to be “much more radical” (while appealing to southern England?) Asked for her views, former MEP Baroness Eluned Morgan ‘admitted the party needed a “thorough rethink”‘ and went on to say that ‘the party needed to readdress the way it approached politics and the way it makes contact with society if it was to move forward successfully’.

Another giving evidence at the open and ongoing inquest was Gerald Holtham – ‘Who he?’, you cry . . . well Holtham is an economist, and regarded by many as one of Labour’s cleverest supporters. Just a few days before Howells and Morgan made their contributions Holtham weighed in with his analysis. It was full of dire warnings about relying on the “tribal” or “sentimental” vote, demanding that the party think hard “about real problems”, warning the party against a “sterile debate”, and then reassuring us that the public is not stupid. This presumably is the same public that we find in areas like Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent, Swansea East and other constituencies; the same public that has voted Labour for three or four generations and is now tempted to take a punt on Ukip. How could anyone possibly think such people are stupid!

Did you ever read such vacuous nonsense in your life? So many words that say nothing? That’s because Howells, Morgan and Holtham are lost, they don’t have a clue! They all have opinions on where Labour went wrong – expressed in cliches and sound bites – but no one has an answer to where Labour goes from here. When you realise what a mess the Labour party is in, you begin to understand why it was almost wiped out in Scotland. But you also begin to realise that it was only saved from worse results in Wales by Plaid Cymru‘s refusal to connect with Welsh voters.

Personally, I suspect that all three are looking to avoid being honest about the Labour Party’s lucky escape on May 7th, though Holtham goes some way towards acknowledging the troubling reality with his remarks about “tribal” and “sentimental” voters. For the way I see it, the Labour Party in Wales is like an old wildebeest, still managing to stay on its legs, and from a distance even looking healthy, but in truth surviving only because there is no predator around to finish it off. Scavengers have had a nip here and there, but ‘Welsh’ LGerald Holthamabour survives because there is no local cousin of the SNP lion to finish it off.

To repeat, Labour’s traditional support is gone and it can never be replaced. Tailoring the party’s message for different audiences – which is what Labour does – is doomed to fail in this age of 24-hour news coverage and social media. By comparison, the Conservative Party can put out the same message from Land’s End to John O’ Groats. (And the SNP the same message from the border to the Northern Isles.)

Here in Wales the Labour Party is in for more disappointment next May in the Assembly elections . . . despite the allure of Carwyn Jones and his cabinet of all the talents. Though the cracks will probably be papered over, and the inevitable delayed, through the “tribal” vote referred to by Holtham. Because with a Tory government in Westminster many of our unstupid Welsh electors will be persuaded to ignore everything wrong with Wales and ‘send a message to London’, again.

So don’t knock it, Holtham. Labour’s “tribal” vote is all that keeps Owen Smith and his gang in the comfort to which they have become so accustomed, and is the guarantee that your party stays top dog down Cardiff docks. Without it, the shadows encroach.