I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
As it says in the title, this a guest post, and from someone who knows of what they speak. Read it carefully, for it contains valuable insights that you’re unlikely to get elsewhere.
Specifically, this post is about Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) legislation and the vote on March 3 that saw the ‘Welsh Government’ push through its draconian measures which are simply another attack on our farmers.
The fact that most of the pollution doesn’t even come from farms is not simply irrelevant to Labour politicians, it’s ignored completely.
To understand the bigger picture you must realise that the local branch of the British Labour Party is a statist outfit that wants to control everything and everybody, either directly, or else through its agencies in the third sector and elsewhere.
As the writer explains, Labour politicians don’t like farmers because farmers own land (kulaks, see), and they tend to be independently-minded, with a habit of standing up for themselves. What’s more, they’re adept at recognising bullshit.
So farmers have to go. This will be justified on environmental grounds. Freeing land for hippies, rewilders and foreign investors.
This control-freakery also explains why Wales is a basket-case economy. Labour does not want free-thinking indigenous entrepreneurs, even if they provide jobs and make Wales prosperous. Far better to keep Wales poor, blame somebody else, and keep getting elected.
The resultant poverty can also be justified with envirobollocks – ‘What ew mean ew got no job – look at all them wind turbines saving the planet. You selfish bugger!’
Well, of course, that’s not strictly true. Labour politicians and their third sector cronies will always have jobs. Enviroshysters – almost all of them from outside of Wales – will also have jobs. It’s ordinary Welsh people who lose out.
The message is simple. Don’t vote Labour in May’s Senedd elections. Don’t vote for Plaid Cymru either, because Labour will need a coalition with Plaid to stay in power.
Now read what our guest writer has to say . . .
So, in the last month or so, Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment has pushed on with legislation she said she would not push on with 11 times. This was on the basis that agricultural incidents had not decreased from the 3 a week figure that is regularly quoted. As of 3rd March, the regulations will now progress following the Senedd vote.
There are various figures banded around as to why this has been a trigger point and why such an aggressive move has been taken, in the middle (and it is the middle) of the COVID crisis and indeed the aftermath of the Brexit deal.
This is really a statement piece by the Minister to appeal to the environment lobby and her back benchers in the run up to an election. Facts, figures and advice on the regulation from her own regulator, NRW, have been ignored and politics has been front and centre of the decision. Where to go from here? We’ll come back to that a little later.
When it comes to Welsh Government, it’s worth taking a look back to see how things have developed.
Firstly, getting rid of scrutiny and the various committees that have provided review and direction has been a key strategy. The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs (CCERA) Committee has to cover such a broad portfolio that it cannot possibly scrutinise in depth. The simple fact is that scrutiny is now a manufactured process, by invitation if you like, with the environment lobby in the pocket of the Minister, who are anti-agri, anti-fisheries and any other private use of natural resources for economic gain, unless you’re a global investor making a land grab under the guise of rewilding, but we won’t mention that.
Secondly, Welsh Government has struggled for years to work out how they could get their policy objectives imprinted on rural Wales. We’re now in the drive to reverse climate change, de-carbonise and promote Wales to the world as a sustainable nation. Farmers own 70% of our private land. The difficulty with trying to get farmers to comply with change is that they own their land and are a broadly militant and belligerent old bunch who would rather sell a kidney than be told what to do. So, in combination with the agriculture white paper out at the moment consulting on the future farm payments system, Minister Griffiths has slapped an NVZ on the whole of Wales to boot.
When you look at some of the drivers of food industry growth, Minister Griffiths own Food and Drink Strategy 2014 – 2020 has targeted increasing sales by 30% to £7bn turnover. Much rejoicing took place last year when it was proclaimed that Welsh Government had ‘smashed its target’. Now a new strategy needs to be developed and it will be based on ‘sustainability’. It should be remembered that Welsh Government has encouraged and invested in the agri-food sectors rapid growth and the question must be asked as to whether it is now a victim of its own success?
You see, if you want a snapshot example of what is in store for agriculture, you only need to look at what Welsh Government has done with another comparator sector over which they have devolved responsibility – fisheries.
A small sector in Wales, but nonetheless regularly rolled out by the Minister with unsubstantiated claims of sustainability for which she now strives. The vast majority of engagement mechanisms with the sector have been withdrawn, because, like farmers, fishermen are too difficult for Welsh Government to deal with.
Unlike agriculture, with land ownership in the hands of farmers, Welsh Government actually does have devolved responsibility for marine and fisheries and in layman’s terms, it owns the sea out to the median line. If there is an example of how not to sustainability management resources, this is it. Regulation, not management, is king, delivering boom and bust fisheries such as our main shellfish species by volume, Whelk, that is exploited largely by businesses outside of Wales. Now where have we heard this before…………oh yes, renewables.
Marine renewables is the Minister’s golden ticket to meeting green energy targets and no one will get in the way. While our many centuries old fishing industry and heritage fisheries such as Teifi Seine nets, coracles and the lave net fisheries on the Severn are regulated (for regulated read bullied) out, the push for action in the climate emergency continues. Fisheries is a shining example of how Welsh Government ‘manages’ its resources and should serve as a warning to what is to come for terrestrial Wales.
So the stage is set for the roll out of the NVZ agricultural pollution regulations that will sit alongside the consultation on the agriculture white paper and an announcement made with regard to the future strategy for the food and drink sector where sustainable food production will be at the core. All very nicely choreographed.
What is amazing in all of this is the almost pathological inability of the Minister to acknowledge the issues caused by sewage outfall and releases by water authorities. This has been documented by the BBC and most recent data provided by the Rivers Trust makes for dire reading. Her responses when questioned on this in Plenary have been evasive to say the least. She doesn’t want to talk about it. She has to get her way with the agri sector to line up the other policy objectives. A savage attack on the proposed regulations took place in the Senedd via a recent Conservative debate and again, while referring to a very recent incident and the ‘one too many’ quote, the reality is that statistically there could have well been another 82 sewage incidents going on the very same day!
I have no doubt that a number of MS’s who have voted on this will not have the foggiest what they are voting for, but will have been lobbied by the ‘bastard farmers’ environment crowd from their Cardiff and London bases. The perverse part of this is that in a drive for Wales to be perceived as one of the world’s most sustainable food producers, Minister Griffiths will designate the whole of the country an NVZ against the advice of her regulator and ignoring the main contributor to water quality issues. How does she think this looks from the outside looking in? We’re a laughing stock.
In sectors that have been under devolved regulation for many years such as fisheries, the Minister now talks about co-management out of regulation with a group they can’t engage with and then at the same time has rejected any suggestion of voluntary co-managed farmer-led approaches to agri pollution that were on the table to move to, yep, you’ve guessed it……..regulation. I would suggest her officials need a Zoom meeting to square the circle here.
This will be her modulation moment, akin to the decision made by Alun Davies to move 15% of the budget away from direct payments to Pillar 2 and just look at the success that has been, as highlighted by Wales Audit Office last year and further exposed by Craig Williams MP recently. I could also go into the uplands payments debacle but I won’t.
How the farming unions react to this will be key and a judicial review can be expected. However, there is a wider assault in the offing for rural Wales in the hot off the press Future Wales 2040 in the name of sustainability and climate change. It is a large document, but I would urge anyone who has an interest in the future of this country to read it and then decide how you will vote in May. Future Wales 2040 is the planning template for this country and where this blog has pointed out the follies of various ‘developers’ and ‘investors’, I’m certain we will see more of this to come, at scale.
Without wanting to overstate the position, we may be seeing the managed decline of industries in the same way the coal industry was portrayed – inefficient, dirty and unwanted by those who have never done a hard day’s work in their life. The Valleys have never recovered and now having failed to deliver on economic development, Welsh Government MUST deal with climate change, even if it means forcing through bad regulation to achieve it.
I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
Over the years I’ve read a lot of political nonsense and outright bullshit in the Western Mail, much of it emanating from the Labour Party. But all records were broken on Friday, February 26, 2021 when Llais y Sais gave us a sneak preview of a speech to be delivered by First Minister Mark Drakeford.
To help you fully appreciate the levels of dishonesty contained in the speech I shall produce the offending article and then walk you through it paragraph by numbered paragraph.
Let’s start with the headline and the opening paragraphs. Home rule within the UK is impossible, for without a written constitution it could, like devolution, be undone at any time. (Come to that, how does ‘home rule’ differ from devolution?)
And even with a written constitution, an unequal Union such as the UK allows the dominant partner to do what it damn well likes. As England has for centuries.
No, let’s be honest, home rule is an unworkable nonsense. The truth is that Labour in Wales is alarmed by the possibilities unveiled by the Internal Market Act, which allows London to ignore the devolution settlement almost entirely.
Home rule would have offered no defence against the Internal Market Act.
Though Labour’s hostility to this Act was not prompted by thoughts of what’s best for Wales but by the fear that Boris Johnson and his mates might start threatening Labour’s hegemony in Wales, and the crony networks the party has built up over the past 22 years.
Now let’s go through the rest of the article, focusing on the more interesting paragraphs.
PARAGRAPH 4: “Internationalist not nationalist. Outward facing, not inward looking”, says Drakeford. Now this could either be a call to arms and a commitment to global humanity or a pathetic justification for having done nothing for Wales for the 22 years of devolution.
Because we’re dealing with ‘Welsh’ Labour, it is of course the latter.
Wales is the poorest country in Europe. Not so long ago I would have said ‘Western Europe’, but now the countries of the former Soviet bloc have caught us up and in many cases overtaken us.
The truth is that ‘Welsh’ Labour and its so-called ‘Welsh Government’ should be doing a lot more looking inward; then they might appreciate this country’s problems, its real needs, and address them before riding off on Quixotic crusades to save the planet.
PARAGRAPHS 5 & 6: These continue in the same toe-curling vein, with the predictable use of, “progressive” (‘pass my revolver, wife!’), and even “destiny”!
Though, chwarae teg, I did agree with, “Yes to a Wales that takes ownership of its own destiny” . . . but home rule ain’t gonna deliver that.
PARAGRAPH 7: Drakeford believes the coming Senedd election is a contest unlike any other. Indeed it is, and it could be his last. Go for it, Neil!
PARAGRAPH 8: This is where we learn that Labour has a new strapline – ‘Moving Wales Forward’. God! I wish I’d thought of that!
Can’t you just hear kids shouting it as they whizz by on their bikes! Young women having it tattooed on their intimate parts! Football and rugby crowds – when they’re allowed back, of course – chanting it on the terraces!
What a response to all those who want to move us back. Though Nationalists like me also want to move forward, to independence; and even the anti-Welsh mob want to move forward, by consigning devolution to the dustbin of failed political initiatives. (Where it belongs.)
When you think about it, the only ones who want to stand still, maintain the status quo, are the devolutionists, and where are they to be found? Er, in the Labour Party.
PARAGRAPHS 9 – 12: Here it’s appeals to, ” . . . our tenacity . . . our institutions and sense of social solidarity . . . characteristics that will shape . . . generations to come”. Then it’s, “from the coal field (sic) to the rugby field . . . work together . . . shared experience . . .”.
The kind of vacuous rambling that would shame a be-medalled Latin American caudillo.
PARAGRAPHS 13 – 16: I was obviously unfair in suggesting that 22 years of devolution under ‘Welsh’ Labour has been a disaster – for we are a “world leader in recycling”!
That will be a great consolation to those queuing at food banks, and those being forced out of the communities in which they were born and raised, and where they’d hoped to die.
Twice we see the “National Forest” mentioned. Does this mean that the ‘Welsh Government’ has a plan to develop a forestry industry in Wales, generating wealth, creating jobs, and sustaining communities?
Don’t be silly, Jac, it’s, “for people to further enjoy Wales’ natural beauty”. In other words – more fucking tourism! But worse, this project could also be seen as meeting the demands of Monbiot and his disciples, those who want to dispossess our farmers and take over their land.
The war on farmers becomes clear again with, “tackling agricultural pollution”, presumably into our waterways. Yet most of the pollution in our rivers has nothing to do with agriculture.
Of course this truth does not serve the ‘Welsh Government’s anti-farming agenda. Consequently, it will never be admitted by Natural Resources Wales, or Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. And certainly not by Lesley’s civil servant lover Gary Haggaty.
But I suppose what pissed me off most in this section was the reference to “investment in new green jobs”. This is not new, we’ve been hearing it for over twenty years. But how many jobs has ‘green energy’ created?
Think of the massive Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, one of the largest in Europe. Does it employ any local people? Certainly, no jobs were provided at earlier stages because the towers, motors, and blades were made in Germany and Denmark.
The only real benefits the local community sees is the £1.8m doled out every year as a Community Fund by the owner of the wind farm, Swedish company Vattenfall. Which only makes me wonder how much of a killing Vattenfall is making.
This Community Fund is just crumbs from our own table.
Despite Labour claiming for two decades or more that renewables would create jobs, and be a great boost to the Welsh economy, the reality is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has simply allowed Wales to be exploited, with no benefits at all for us.
It’s no longer coal mines, slate quarries, or dams and reservoirs, it’s wind and solar farms, and wave energy. But Wales continues to be exploited by strangers.
Therefore only a fool would believe Labour’s promise to deliver in the future what it has already been promising to deliver for so long. ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’.
PARAGRAPHS 17 – 22: Here, gentle reader, we reach new heights of hifalutin vacuity before plumbing the depths of cringe-inducing attempts at eloquence.
Though it started encouragingly, because when I read “generations who come after us” I thought at first it was a reference to Burke’s Contract, but no.
This is followed by. “We are so lucky in our country, to have all the natural resources we need to put Wales at the forefront of the global energy revolution which the world will need: wind, water and wave”.
And here, Drakeford is absolutely right – we do have all these resources! But we don’t own any of them. They don’t generate wealth or jobs for us. For as I say, that’s because ‘Welsh’ Labour encourages strangers to exploit our homeland as if it was some 19th century African ‘possession’.
Then comes the empty promise of jobs, again. Before we are exhorted to, ” . . . make our contribution to securing the future of our beautiful but fragile planet”.
(Cue violins and rustling Kleenex.)
This sententious drivel exposes where Labour has gone wrong and how it has failed Wales.
Saving the planet – as if we could! – has done nothing for us. The promised jobs never materialised. Even if they had materialised we would have been working for foreign companies because Labour does not want successful Welsh companies, with Welsh businessmen regularly exposing the bruvvers’ idiocies.
No, Labour wants the quiet life of foreign companies uninterested in Welsh politics and a third sector of Labour cronies forever finding problems for Labour to fund while blaming someone else.
But nothing exposes the reality of Wales today, and Labour’s shortcomings, more than the fact that nowhere in Drakeford’s waffle does he say, ‘Vote for us on our record’.
All he can offer is pie in the sky, recycled promises on green jobs, and more saving the planet. Nowhere does he talk of what really matters to most Welsh people: health, education, jobs (that might actually materialise), and housing they can afford.
Labour has pandered to certain alien lobbies at the expense of the Welsh people for too long, and this cannot go on. Labour must be removed from power in May.
And remember! a vote for Plaid Cymru is a vote to keep Labour in power.
I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
For this, another of my infrequent, pre-retirement postings, I’ll explain why I would vote to abolish the Senedd in a referendum offering the straight choice of to keep or to abolish.
I wanted independence to improve the lives of the people I cared about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I wanted independence to protect my country from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what made us Welsh.
Devolution is obviously not independence but still, judged against those criteria devolution has been an abysmal failure. For the only beneficiaries have been cliques, claques, and the assorted parasites of a vast and burdensome stratum smothering the nation.
LET ME GIVE SOME EXAMPLES
While the greater part of Wales, and the nation, has seen no benefits, this constitutional tinkering must have brought some benefits, to someone, somewhere, otherwise it would be universally damned and consequently unsustainable.
So let’s try and identify some beneficiaries. I’ll use examples of us losing out and others benefitting at our expense. (You’ll soon get the hang of it.)
The ‘stratum’ I referred to earlier is the third sector. Bigger than ever in Wales, and bigger in Wales than in any other country.
Wales is a rich country made poor by English rule, and the Labour Party has capitalised on our deprivation both for electoral gain – by blaming ‘London’ / Tories – and also by using that deprivation to create a whole new ‘poverty sector’ for its cronies.
Wales is now smothering under the weight of duplicating and competing third sector gangs, most of which seem to be staffed by strident memsahibs from over the border. Cohort after cohort of Common Purpose’ finest, goose-stepping from conference to workshop to those regular meetings in which they dictate policy and funding priorities to politicians.
This third sector is fundamentally and irredeemably parasitical. Preying on Wales’ deprivation in order to suck money from the public purse. A vast network of self-polishing turds who would not be missed if they ceased doing tomorrow whatever they claim to be doing today.
Both Labour and the third sector exploit and capitalise on Wales’ poverty and deprivation. If the money wasted on the third sector was spent in combatting that poverty and deprivation then Wales would be a much better place.
Perhaps to make us feel guilty for wanting decent jobs, decent homes, an acceptable road and rail system, etc., our gaze is directed away from such crass materialism to the altruistic, the selfless, in the form of saving the planet.
This crusade – for it is nothing less! – is done without providing jobs or any other material benefits to us Welsh. This national insult takes many forms.
Here’s a recent re-working of the theme.
Is this supposed to be a consolation prize for the Circuit of Wales? Or for more false hopes raised over the TVR car plant? (Which is not coming, by the way.)
Blaenau Gwent is the poorest part of the country. What it needs is decent jobs, housing, NHS dentists, etc., not bullshit publicity stunts from Corruption Bay.
We are told that “50 residents will be selected to create the first Climate Assembly in Wales”. I hope Gwent Police have the riot gear ready for the trouble that will surely erupt in Ebbw Vale and Tredegar as people fight over those 50 places.
Here’s the latest in the ‘Save the planet’ offensive: “I think if political parties are not putting addressing the climate and nature emergencies right at the top of their manifesto agenda then they will be letting down both the current and future generations in Wales,” says Sophie Howe, Labour apparatchik being paid £100,000 a year in a non-job created specially for her.
The message from our leaders is: ‘Wales may be the poorest country in Europe and getting poorer, but fuck that, cos we – on £100,000 a year – are saving the planet’.
I want to see a healthier nation living in a greener land making its contribution to a cleaner planet. But Wales has more immediate priorities. And it’s positively insulting for overpaid Labour Party nobodies to lecture those worrying about feeding their kids and paying their rent.
Yet more arrogant – almost racist – envirocolonialism. It seems Kiwi Anderson has been won over to Welsh independence. A reminder that the reason Greens and others are jumping on the indy bandwagon is because they want our land.
Wales has the oldest population in Europe and it’s getting older. An unwanted accolade achieved by a number of factors combining. The lack of a decent economy being one. The other is the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ going out of its way to attract elderly people to Wales.
This is done because, due to the lack of a balanced economy in rural areas and the regular exodus of young people that results, population levels need to be maintained; for nothing says ‘area going to hell’ more clearly than a falling population. How better to maintain population levels than by attracting retirees? (Actually, I can think of many better alternatives, but bear with me.)
No only does the ‘Welsh Government’ see no problem with our ageing population, it even tries to present it as something to be celebrated, as I discovered a few years ago in a reply to a Freedom of Information request.
An influx encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’ legislating so that people entering care homes can keep £50,000 before they start paying for their care. The figure for England is £22,500.
Yet the ‘Welsh Government’ would like to go further, doing away with care home charges altogether by introducing a tax so that we actually pay for wealthy English biddies who’ve been dumped in Welsh care homes by relatives safeguarding their inheritances.
How difficult would it be to introduce a rule insisting that a person must have lived in Wales for 20 years prior to entering a care home before they can benefit from the £50,000 allowance?
Do that and Welsh people won’t lose out and we curb the plague of granny dumping.
I recall, back in the 1980s, during the Meibion Glyndŵr campaign, politicians getting up on their hind legs to proclaim that they would not be influenced by ‘terrorists’. God! they sounded so brave and principled. It brought a tear to my eye.
Thirty years on from the end of that campaign, and after 22 years of devolution, nothing has been done beyond the ‘Welsh Government’ allowing councils to impose a 100% surcharge on holiday home council tax. But it has refused to close the loophole that sees holiday homes classed as businesses to escape council tax entirely.
Oh, I almost forgot, there is also a tiny and insignificant increase in Land Transaction Tax of one per cent per valuation band, introduced 22 December. Which is no deterrent at all to those who can buy a second, third, or fourth home.
In fact, the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ refuses to do anything that might save Welsh communities and allow Welsh people to buy a home in areas cursed with tourism. When pressed on the matter just yesterday by the impressive Delyth Jewell the woeful Julie James could only respond with a promise to . . . kick the issue into the long grass.
With the holiday homes problem at crisis levels due to Coronavirus, with Welsh communities being destroyed before our eyes, the fact that those useless bastards down Corruption Bay refuse to act should tell you all you need to know about devolution.
But you have to wonder who made the initial decision not to fund.
THE WAR ON FARMERS
Part of the problem lies in the fact that devolution is controlled by civil servants who may be based in Wales but take their orders from London. Civil servants such as Gary Haggaty, beau to Lesley Griffiths, the Labour MS for Wrecsam, and Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.
“Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Gruffydd says the minister is on the record as saying that these Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations would not be introduced while the pandemic was in existence – no less than ten times.”
And many of these spillages have nothing to do with farmers. I am reliably informed that the testing done by Natural Resources Wales (yes, them!) cannot differentiate between farm slurry and raw sewerage from other sources.
This is just the latest assault in a war on Welsh farmers by the ‘Welsh Government’. Done because ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers, and also because there are others queuing up to take over Welsh land. Friends of Jane Davidson, ‘rewilders’, Tory MPs.
Significantly, in England, the NVZ legislation targets problem areas and culprits rather than penalising all farmers.
So, we see that under devolution Welsh farming is another area of our national life being targeted and damaged. And it could not have happened without devolution. Because if London had singled out Welsh farmers for such treatment there would have been rioting, and possibly worse.
I could give plenty more examples where devolution has failed us. Here are just a few snapshots:
There’s colonisation, resulting in the Welsh element in the population decreasing year on year. As a prominent citizen of a border town told me a few weeks back: “Some of the attitudes retired people come here have towards the locals are shocking, their sense of superiority is unbelievable.”
Then there’s a crass and exploitative form of tourism that is destroying Welsh communities, especially Welsh-speaking communities.
No other country on Earth has allowed One Planet Developments. Yet here in Wales hippies and enviroshysters are encouraged to take over land, flout planning and other regulations, bring up children in unsanitary and dangerous conditions, and then this colonisation is justified as part of OUR contribution to saving the planet.
Under devolution we have seen Cardiff grow and prosper, largely at the expense of the rest of Wales.
Wales produces twice as much electricity as we need and the rest goes to England free of charge, the same applies to our water resources, stolen by Severn Trent.
The ‘Welsh Government’ pays some of our brightest young people to go to English universities and then makes no attempt to bring them home after graduation. While filling our universities with mediocrities from over the border who stay on to fill third sector and public sector jobs.
Publicly-funded housing associations build ‘affordable’ homes that most locals can’t afford while neglecting the social rented sector for which there’s a local demand.
Let’s not forget the shysters – so many of whom have appeared on this blog – who get showered with funding after turning up with their ‘exciting’, ‘job-creating’ projects meticulously outlined on the back of a fag packet.
Then there’s the cess-pit that is Cardiff Bay, where those we elect to represent us rub shoulders daily with unregistered lobbyists and others trying to influence them – and almost always against the best interests of the nation.
FINALLY, A VERY TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY EXAMPLE
This pretence of devolved power is a very thin veil behind which England’s interests are served. A great example was supplied to me last week by someone involved in matters technological which went a bit over my head, but I’m sure you’ll get the gist of it.
This source wrote:
” . . . dotCYM had no hope when Plaid Cymru was useless, Labour and the civil servants were working against it, and then Nominet came in with their money and used it to destroy them. The money from .cymru and .wales domains are now going to Oxford instead of Wales.”
The source continued:
“The Welsh government is clever in creating schemes to develop Welsh language technology and software. They come out with a new scheme with millions to develop Welsh software but there’s a maximum of about 30k per project, which isn’t enough to get anywhere or develop anything of use. Also, the money they give for research into Welsh language technology comes with the proviso that the research is then open sourced. What happens then is that large companies from outside Wales can take it, add it to their software as token Welsh support that doesn’t work well, and then sell it back to the Welsh”.
My source then explained to me what’s happening in New Zealand, where those working on a similar project for the Maori language successfully fought against their work becoming open source. The Maoris defended their stance thus:
“By simply open sourcing our data and knowledge, we further allow ourselves to be colonised digitally in the modern world.”
THE TRUTH DAWNS
More and more people grasp that devolution is an unworkable nonsense, even if they don’t understand why. This explains the growing polarisation between those wanting to do away with the Senedd and those wanting independence.
When all devolution’s defenders can muster is, ‘But it’s recognition’, or ‘free bus passes’, then you know that even they have given up.
Successive ‘Welsh’ Assembly Governments and ‘Welsh Governments’ have not only failed to remedy the problems inherited in 1999 they have introduced new measures to work against the national interest.
This is not what I voted for in the September 1997 referendum. It’s no exaggeration to say that what we’ve experienced over the past 22 years is a form of anti-Welsh devolution.
Consequently, in a referendum offering the simple choice between keeping the Senedd or abolishing it I would vote to abolish, because abolition would be the best option for the greatest number of Welsh people.
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
Envirocolonialism may not be a term you’re familiar with, but I’ve coined it to describe two separate but linked phenomena.
The first of which is companies from outside of Wales building wind farms, wave power installations, and other facilities, that provide few if any jobs for Welsh people and contribute little or nothing to the Welsh economy.
The second is eco-warriors of various hues, including ‘rewilders’, also from outside of Wales, demanding land and funding to put into practice what are often insane schemes working against the interests of Welsh people and their communities. Or simply milking the funding system.
Yet both these forms of envirocolonialism are encouraged by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, which dresses up this exploitation as an economic strategy by which Wales will become prosperous while also saving the planet.
This lie, and the ugly colonialism it disguises, must be exposed and rejected.
‘BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND’
Last week the Guardian told us that the Crown Estate had given permission to a subsidiary of the French oil giant Total for floating wind turbines off the north coast. The English Crown giving a French company the go-ahead in Welsh waters.
One of the Irishmen is also found at Simply Blue Energy (Scotland) Ltd, but the other director is Scottish, with an Edinburgh address. The secretary, though, lives in County Louth, some distance from both The Rebel County and Auld Reekie.
This announcement was soon followed by news of what I take to be a separate development of some 100 turbines. The beneficiary here is RWE Renewables, the German conglomerate. With the the usual flotilla of small companies from over the border following in the giant’s wake.
There will soon be wind turbines off the coast from the border to the Menai Strait. And the benefits for Wales will be counted in a few dozen jobs. Though from what I hear, those already doing the jobs seem to have arrived from a few hundred miles east of Mostyn docks.
But never mind! There may be no Welsh companies involved, and no Welsh jobs, but we can still get a warm glow from sitting in our deck chairs, looking out to sea at hundreds of wind turbines making Wales’ contribution to saving the planet.
A contribution so insignificant that it can be wiped out by just one more coal-fired power station in China or a day’s logging in Amazonia.
RIDING THE WAVE . . . BUT NOT IF YOU’RE WELSH
With wind power being unreliable, the short life span of the turbines, the landscape damage, the killing of birds and bats, and now the increased risks of flooding, public opinion is turning against onshore wind power.
This goes some way to explaining the increase in offshore wind power, such as we looked at in the previous section, and also wave-generated energy.
Which is the cue to introduce another company, one that hasn’t gone through the charade of taking out a Pembrokeshire address.
In fact, it would be odd if Wave Hub had moved to Wales . . . seeing as it’s 100% owned by Cornwall County Council. And before the council took control in November 2017 Wave Hub had been owned by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
According to the linked article, the City Deal will provide £28 million with this “expected to help leverage a further £32 million of public and private funding”. No doubt a sizeable chunk of the remaining £32 million will come from the Welsh public purse.
And what will we get in return?
Research and development will almost certainly be conducted outside of Wales, and we can guarantee that Wales will not see the profits. Which leaves jobs. How many will there be and who’ll be monitoring the situation to ensure that locals get them? Answers: very few; nobody.
So let’s stop deluding ourselves and recognise a rip-off when it’s staring us in the face and twisting our gonads.
Here’s my interpretation of Wave Hub’s move to Wales.
Once it became clear there were to be City deals for Swansea and Cardiff clever minds in London sat down and thought, “OK, so we’re giving the Taffs this money . . . now how do we get back as much of it as possible?”
The Swansea Bay City Deal was signed off in March 2017 by Prime Minister Theresa May. The gestation period would have been at least a year. So let’s see how that fits with the Wave Hub timeline.
Despite having been in existence since December 2011 the accounts for y/e 31 March 2016 show net assets of just £3,638. A company just ticking over, maybe waiting for a project.
March 2017, Swansea Bay City Deal signed off.
November 27, 2017, Cornwall County Council takes control of Wave Hub Ltd. Is this to make it more acceptable to the Welsh public?
September 18, 2019, Piers Basil Guy sets up Guy Energy Ltd. Hoping to make a bit for himself on the side?
June 11, 2020, announcement of £60 million funding for Wave Hub at its ‘Welsh’ operations.
June 11, 2020, elsewhere we read, with no mention of Pembrokeshire: “The South West Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator is being led by Wave Hub in collaboration with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, A&P Group, Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council.
Why the hell are WE, through the Swansea Bay City Deal and the ‘Welsh Government’, funding a project with no Welsh presence beyond a shed in Pembrokeshire? Where are the benefits for Wales?
All the companies listed for Piers Basil Guy are owned by Vattenfall, the Swedish company that has so much influence with the ‘Welsh Government’. A number of the wind farms listed were built on land managed by Natural Resources Wales, an agency of the ‘Welsh Government’. This includes of course the massive Pen y Cymoedd.
Money is being showered on a company that might, or might not, be owned by Cornwall County Council. Either way, it has but the lightest of footprints in Wales and shouldn’t be given a penny until we are assured of tangible benefits.
Finally, is there a connection between Simply Blue (Wave Hub) Ltd and Wave Hub Ltd?
Up at the other end of the country from Pembrokeshire a genuinely Welsh outfit, Menter Môn, also has plans for wave energy, but it is being thwarted by a cat’s paw acting for Natural Resources Wales and the ‘Welsh Government’.
Perhaps what the RSPB and NRW found offensive was, “Morlais is a Menter Môn project which aims to benefit local communities . . .”. That’s not how envirocolonialism works.
Though there has been opposition from other quarters, mainly the Trearddur Bay Sailing Club and the owners of ‘seasonal properties’ at Rhoscolyn. This explains the intervention of the constituency’s Conservative candidate a few weeks before last December’s general election.
She gets out of him what he has perhaps been primed to say – the Morlais project could be bad for tourism. Mmm. Is that a negative any more?
Virginia Crosbie, friend, possibly tenant, of Jake Berry, the Tory MP for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire. How many properties does Berry now own on Ynys Môn?
Joking aside, let me spell this out quite clearly, for the avoidance of any doubt.
The RSPB would not have objected to this scheme if it had come from a developer viewed more favourably by Natural Resources Wales and the ‘Welsh Government’, neither of which wants to encourage genuinely Welsh initiatives.
TALES OF THE RIVERBANK
For a couple of years now a few people have been urging me to take a peek at the The Wye and Usk Foundation. At first sight, there seems to be nothing to worry about, the Foundation is a body trying to improve rivers and riparian environments. It of course works closely with Natural Resources Wales.
Admittedly, it’s a cross-border organisation, with most of the territory it covers being in Wales but, as is usually the case, with a majority of its trustees from outside.
But then, the more you look at the Wye and Usk Foundation the more the doubts creep in. It can be a little thing, such as this sentence found under ‘Climate Change’, on page 5 of the latest Trustees’ report.
“The summer drought also led to an increase in fodder crops being grown in the Welsh uplands which pose a serious risk to our rivers this winter.”
This is an organisation based in Wales, so why not just say, “uplands”? Using the term “Welsh uplands” makes it sound like an alien, and hostile, area. Something that could have been written by a 12th century Norman chronicler.
And of course, there’s the inference that Welsh farmers harm rivers. Which could have been written by that scourge of Welsh hill farmers, George Monbiot.
“In the west of Britain, the main issue is livestock farming. As dairy and poultry units have consolidated, the manure they produce is greater than the land’s capacity to absorb it. As an agricultural contractor explained to the Welsh government, some farmers are deliberately spreading muck before high rainfall, so that it washes off their fields and into the rivers. A farm adviser told the same inquiry that only 1% of farm slurry stores in Wales meet the regulations.”
Follow the link and you’ll see that the person who made that allegation about farmers deliberately spreading muck before rain was allowed to remain anonymous. (If he or she ever existed.)
In the same article Monbiot also wrote: “The Wye itself is dying at astonishing, heartbreaking speed.” Yet the The Wye Usk Foundation is far more upbeat. But then, Monbiot is a polemicist and a scaremonger, with a strategy to follow.
Basically, Monbiot’s message is: ‘Welsh farmers are bastards, get them off the land and then turn the land over to people like me’.
So, does George Monbiot have links to The Wye and Usk Foundation?
TALGARTH, SEAT OF LEARNING
The Wye and Usk Foundation is based in Talgarth, and among the trustees we find Elizabeth Passey, formerly of US investment bank Morgan Stanley, and now the Big Lottery Fund. Ms Passey is also a trustee of the Black Mountains College Project in Talgarth. Though for some reason Ms Passey’s role with the Big Lottery is not mentioned in her BMC bio, below.
On the BMC website Passey is said to hail “from a corn merchant family on the Welsh borders.” But from Talgarth it’s the English borders. It’s only the ‘Welsh borders’ for people who see Wales through English eyes, or from an anglocentric perspective . . . such as those involved in the Black Mountains College Project.
We see the £75,000 grant last year from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. A fresh grant of £49,036 from Arwain (money taken from farmers in the transfer from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 made by Alun Davies in 2013). Also, £16,750 from the National Lottery Community Fund. For which BMC can no doubt thank Ms Passey.
There are now three full-time employees; and while no one earns more than £60,000 we can be sure that with staff costs of £105,979 there are three people each earning a good screw.
Though I’d love to know why ‘Legal and professional fees’ jumped from £6,040 in 2019 to £122,415 in 2020.
Now we move south west, to the Rhondda, accompanied by Messrs Blake and Ham.
HONEST RIP-OFF OR PATERNALISM?
As any self-respecting crow will tell you, the distance between the hill station of Talgarth and the native settlement of Treherbert is just over 20 miles. Though they can appear to be much further apart.
“A former mining village has been awarded nearly £250,000 to develop Wales’ first community ownership project.
The Skyline project wants to take charge of about 1.5 sq miles (4 sq km) of forestry around Treherbert, Rhondda Cynon Taff.
It wants to create jobs in forestry and provide timber for affordable homes.
It also hopes to open up space to grow vegetables and encourage use of the woods for education and leisure.
The money will be used to develop the ideas with the hope of getting up to £2.5m from the National Lottery climate action fund to put their plans into action.”
There is clearly local enthusiasm, but who’s running the show, and what are their ultimate intentions?
We see mention of the Skyline project. I visited the Skyline website, where I found this video of an event held in Cardiff on May 1, 2019.
We hear Chris Blake, because Skyline is run by his Green Valleys company from Talgarth.
We also hear from Ian Thomas who, despite the name, does not sound as if he’s from round by ‘ere. He represents the ‘social enterprise’ Welcome to our Woods. In big type the home page of the Welcome to our Woods website tells us: “We are a community partnership in the Upper Rhondda Fawr, South Wales Valleys UK.”
‘South Wales Valleys UK’! Yet again, that ‘outsider’ phrasing.
WTOW Ltd is a company that has been going since 7 November 2014. Ceri Nicholas, a local who features prominently in the video below, was in at the start, but ceased to be a director in March this year. Why leave when things are about to take off?
Apart from Ian Thomas the directors are Simone Jayne Devinett of the Rhondda Housing Association; and Phillip John Vickery, who used to work for Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services and uses a Haverfordwest address.
In the video, locals are given bit parts, but at 2:04 we meet Sonya Bedford, introduced as ‘Head of Energy Stephen Scown Solicitors’. The name is in fact Stephens Scown, and it’s based in Devon. What the hell is she doing there?
The trip to Scotland is revealing, if only for the kind of people they met up there.
All the talk of growing vegetables, and living in cheap, timber housing suggests One Planet Developments. Which only adds to the feeling that this Rhondda project might simply be using locals to further the ends of a select group of outsiders.
People who are largely unemployable in the real world, whose companies are unviable, but who survive through political patronage, public funding, and of course Lottery funding. Which is where Elizabeth Passey of the National Lottery will come in handy.
To complete the picture of a scam being run by outsiders, for outsiders, the BBC was kind enough to tell us that the project manager is Melanie Newton.
If that name rings a bell it’s because Melanie was, until very recently, CEO of Summit to Sea, with which George Monbiot and others were deeply involved. This was an attempt to take over a vast area inland and north of Aberystwyth, evict the farmers, plant millions of trees, and introduce all sorts of exotic animals.
Those involved in this population replacement scheme were encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’s threat to use Brexit as a weapon against farmers. Explicit in Brexit and our land. In fact, the ‘rewilders’ probably influenced the writing of the document.
One obvious channel of influence would have been ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty, advisor to and lover of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. Gary hates farmers. So do too many of the civil servants advising that shower in Corruption Bay.
So maybe the people of the Rhondda should worry that the real plan may be to get rid of them, forest the valley floor, and bring in lynx, beaver, and God knows what else. Because Melanie has form, and so do some of the others involved.
The Valleys Regional Park seems to be one of the Labour Party’s periodic attempts to convince Valleys’ voters that they aren’t being taken for granted. The document is page after page of what Monbiot imagined he saw in the Wye, though not without black humour.
Extolling the natural beauty of the Valleys, on page 14 we see:
Fitting, because Davies’ partner is Anna McMorrin. She has been mentioned a few times on this blog, lobbying for London investors wanting to despoil Powys with wind turbines. She’s been the Labour MP for Cardiff North since the June 2017 general election.
And talking of the Labour Party, Melanie Newton is a staunch supporter, if not a card-carrying member.
Connections. Connections. Connections.
TOMORROW BELONGS TO THEM?
What I’ve described here is not sincere people saving the environment of Wales for the Welsh but a network of ruthless grant-grabbers and would-be colonists trying to take it from us. Which means that at every opportunity Welsh people, and especially farmers – because they hold so much land – must be demonised.
This explains the borderline racism about ‘upland Welsh’ from the Wye and Usk Foundation, and the anonymous ‘sources’ quoted by George Monbiot.
The environment of Wales is being saved by and for more enlightened and superior people. Reminiscent of the Nazi’s idea for removing lesser races from conquered territories in the east and reintroducing (even back breeding) lost species such as the Auroch.
“Lutz began calling for the transformation of newly conquered lands in the east in order to recreate the primordial forest described in the epic Germanic poem Nibelungenlied. Lutz and Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and president of the Reichstag, became friends and went hunting in traditional dress and armed with spears to try and recreate the heroism of ancient German mythology.”
I’m not suggesting that the rewilders plan ‘Beowulf weekends’, where blond and hearty computer programmers from Solihull roam newly-forested hills dressed as Anglo-Saxon warriors before retiring to the Hall for a saga, a skinfull of ale, and a bit of wenching.
But who knows?
This colonialist approach to rewilding goes hand in hand with Wales making such a disproportionate contribution to ‘saving the planet’ that Lesley Griffiths adopts the persona of a madam greeting punters: “Ev’nin’, ducky, which bit of Wales would you like to have your way with?”
Of course we must protect the Welsh environment, and sensibly increase the use of renewable and clean energies. But this must be done in the interests of Wales; not by using climate change to cloak exploitation, or to promote a form of conservation that is paternalistic colonialism flirting with ethnic cleansing.
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
Yes, I promised there wouldn’t be anything until next Monday, but something came up and I thought, ‘Why not?’ And seeing as I’m spoiling you, next week’s offering might now be later than I’d promised.
You can have too much of a good thing!
ESCAPEES ON THE DYFI
This story starts with a report on the North Wales Live website of beavers in Afon Dyfi. A similar report appeared in the Western Mail yesterday. These beavers shouldn’t be there, of course, but they are, and no one seems to know who put them there!
Which could happen, I suppose. Anyone can walk into a pet shop and buy a mating pair of beavers . . . then mislay them somewhere near Machynlleth. It must happen all the time.
Another area being targeted by beaver lovers is in Carmarthenshire, where we find the Bevis Trust. The website tells us that the Trust, ” . . . manage wildlife on our 300 acre farm in Carmarthenshire and on other farms in the south west of Wales.”
Are we dealing here with a Welsh farming family wishing to reintroduce species that have not been found in Wales for centuries?
No prizes for guessing the answer to that question, for we are now in the murky world of ‘rewilding’.
Companies House tells us that the Bevis Trust for Wildlife Management is based at Penllynin Farm, west of Carmarthen. Seemingly run by Dr Nicholas Christopher Fox and the woman I take to be his Swedish wife, Barbro Ingrid Margareta.
Financially, the most recent ‘Micro company’ accounts (y/e 31.12.2018) give fixed assets of £444,733 (the farm?), but a negative figure for ‘total net assets’. This being accounted for by ‘current liabilities’.
I wondered who owns the farm, but when I tried my luck on the Land Registry website I found that Penllynin farm is not registered. Which is odd. Has it recently changed hands, with perhaps new ownership details being processed, or is someone trying to hide something?
Though there are two charges against the company. One seems to be a bank loan for the purchase of Vowley farm, near Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire. The farm probably contributes most of the £2,320,764 in fixed assets. There is also a newly-minted Vowley Management Company Ltd.
With almost six million pounds of ‘assets’ accounted for by ‘debtors’. Who might they be? On page 7 of the latest accounts we read:
So – and not for the first time – we are dealing with linked or interlocking companies with money passing between them. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s what.
Wingbeat Ltd has “the same ultimate controlling party”. It never seems to have traded, with the one-time assets made up almost entirely of stocks, and the latest accounts showing a negative value of over one million pounds, accounted for by ‘creditors’. Presumably other Fox companies.
The other company mentioned in the capture above is Mickelbo Ltd, which is rather interesting. Not least because from its Incorporation in December 2003 until February 2007 it was known as International Wildlife Consultants Ltd.
I referred to money passing between the various companies owned by Nicholas and Barbro Fox. Go back to the 2004 accounts for Mickelbo Ltd (then International Wildlife Consultants Ltd) and you’ll read, in the final entry:
It was the same in the following year’s accounts. Charging their company for use of their land. All perfectly legal.
The change of company name in 2007 is due to the complete change in business, from a wildlife consultancy to a buy-to-rent landlord. This explains 40 outstanding mortgages. A number of these mortgages refer to properties in Carmarthen, Whitland, St Clears.
All 100 shares in Mickelbo are owned by International Wildlife Consultants (UK) Ltd. Which is why we can read this in the latest Mickelbo accounts:
Let’s recap. A couple of strangers decide Wales looks attractive. They start buying up land and property – then they rent it back to us! They have created not a single job. They now want permission to release beavers into Welsh rivers.
Because they’re curious to see what will happen. But unconcerned about the damage these animals might cause, and the livelihoods and leisure activities they could harm.
MONEY ON THE WING
In addition to beavers the Foxes are also interested in hawks. As we see with The Festival of Falconry and The Falconry Heritage Trust. We find other directors at these two charities, with an eclectic collection at the second representing China, Italy, USA, Japan, Netherlands, Belgium and Mongolia. (There is of course no Welsh involvement.)
The Festival of Falconry is filing as a dormant company with debts of £1,587. The Falconry Heritage Trust is in much better financing shape, thanks to . . .
This grant seems to have been sat on for a decade and explains the bulk of the one and half million pounds currently in the kitty.
The donor, “Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, colloquially known by his initials as MBZ, is the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces”.
His official biography paints him as a liberal; no mention of chopped-up journalists or adulterers being stoned to death. But then, in the Gulf, these considerations are relative.
Compared to Hitler and Stalin Mussolini looked almost cuddly.
Though going through The Falconry Heritage Trust accounts I was surprised to read, “Dr N Fox, a trustee of the charity, is a director and shareholder of International Wildlife Consultants Ltd”.
This was the previous name for Mickelbo, the new company has ‘(UK)’ in the name. Can’t they keep up with their own name changes?
So, we know there are beavers in the Dyfi, the Foxes want them in Carmarthenshire, while in Llandrindod we find yet another group with beavers straining at the leash. (Or however beavers express their deep yearning for liberty.)
From WTW we learn there is a single Trust for the whole of the north, another for ‘south and west Wales’, a third for Gwent; but instead of there being one for Powys, ‘Brecknock’, Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire have one each.
Now you might expect an organisation representing Welsh wildlife bodies to be located somewhere rural . . . but you’d be wrong. The registered office for Wildlife Trusts Wales is in Mount Stuart Square, in the black heart of Corruption Bay.
For Wildlife Trusts Wales is as much about lobbying politicians and influencing civil servants as it is about protecting wildlife. And of course, ensuring a steady flow of public moolah to create jobs . . . to employ people to lobby . . .
Just like George Monbiot and his Summit to Sea gang of ‘rewilders’, the WTW sees Brexit as a great opportunity. That’s because the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ will in future control the agricultural purse-strings. (Unless Westminster takes back that power.)
Just like the Monbiot gang the ‘Beavers Everywhere!’ crew believe they can persuade the ‘Welsh Government’ to re-label and divert farm payments to them.
It’s spelled out quite brazenly in the most recent annual report (top of page 2). We read that the ‘Welsh Government’ being in control of farm funding represents, “Significant opportunity to influence future payments”.
And the enviro-colonists of WTW have every right to be optimistic. For the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs is Lesley Griffiths, who is shacked up with ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty. He belongs to a clique of civil servants believing that all farmers – but especially Welsh farmers – are absolute bastards, and should be cleared off the land.
‘BEAVERS, WHAT BEAVERS?’
It seems clear that the runaway – swimaway? – beavers on the Dyfi have been there for a few years . . . without anyone doing anything about it. The agency that should have been taking an interest is Natural Resources Wales.
Now you know me, I don’t like twisting the knife, but NRW has not had a good press of late. Most memorably with the timber sales, something that was never properly explained. But that’s Wales – a colony run by a corrupt management team with neither an effective political opposition nor a media to hold it to account.
Deposed NRW chair, Diane McCrea, entered the revolving door from which popped her replacement Sir David Henshaw, who was, ” . . . born and bred in Liverpool”, but has “lived in North Wales for a number of years”. So he knows Wales like the back of his hand.
Then there’s CEO Clare Pillman who, in a different role, played her part in inflicting HMP Berwyn on us.
Though while the majority of the members are imports, there is also Geraint Davies described – because he’s the only one – as a “fluent Welsh speaker”. (Being a mere native, Geraint of course comes at the bottom of the list.)
At NAAONB we find office manager Amber Carter. Amber previously worked for Wildlife Trusts Wales and Environment Wales (the forerunner to Natural Resources Wales).
Did I say cosy? It’s positively incestuous!
Another who caught my eye was Chris Blake, for he is also involved with the Simon and Garfunkel tribute act at the putative Black Mountains College. An institution that provides “planet-centric education”. So there!
I wrote about them here and here. (You will need to scroll down.)
His brief bio on the BMC website tells us that Blake is a director of Green Valleys CIC .
Unfortunately, administrative expenses took £178,338, and the bottom line, with everything taken into account, was a deficit for the year of £235,023. Bank loans and overdrafts accounting for £120,000 of that.
Making me wonder if any green energy companies make money. Would any of them survive without grants and other hand-outs?
Another member of the NRW Board worthy of mention is Dr Elizabeth Haywood, aka Mrs Peter Hain. Because for a woman with not a democratically cast vote to her name she plays a worryingly influential role in Welsh political and public life.
“Purely advisory roles, surely, Jac?”
Mmm. But when you consider how lazy and useless the Labour politicos of Corruption Bay are, and the fact that she’s the wife of a party heavyweight who outranks them all, then Haywood’s ‘advice’ will go a long way to determining policy.
Such as her Task and Finish Group into City Regions concluding that the best future for our north east is to be taken over and integrated with the north west of England.
I could understand ‘advice’ like that coming from the English side of the border – “Let us take over Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire for overspill housing in order to protect property values in Cheshire”, but from the Welsh side it sounds like surrender.
Or, more likely, it’s just stating the English position in a way that’s supposed to make it more palatable. It happens all the time.
As I said at the top of this section, I introduced Natural Resources Wales because it is the agency that should have taken action when it became known that beavers had been illegally released into the Dyfi catchment area.
A couple of days ago I put out a tweet that was answered by NRW and then taken up by @Cynfab3 who seems to know about the Dyfi beavers. The responses from NRW tell me they aren’t interested in taking any action.
To cover their own negligence NRW even tries to pass the buck to Dyfed Powys Police!
JAC AND THE BEAVERS
So what is the considered opinion of this august blog towards our furry, flapper-tailed friends?
Let me make it quite clear that I have nothing against beavers. They’ve done me no harm. So, in principle, I would have no real objection to them being reintroduced into Welsh rivers.
But that’s not the point is it?
My objection is based on the fact that this scheming – and law-breaking – is being done by alien groups with an unhealthy influence over civil servants and politicians, the latter elected to serve the Welsh interest. And being done against the wishes of those whose opinions should be paramount and decisive – the local, Welsh population.
Which makes this latest furore contemporary Wales in a nutshell, where everyone’s interests are catered for, except us Welsh. Where you only have to scream “climate change” loudly enough to get what you want.
Resulting in Wales filling up with bullshitters and shysters who spend their time attending conferences, making self-promoting videos, lobbying politicians, milking the public purse – and contributing sod all to the health or wealth of the nation.
Simply creating conditions where you can – quite literally – throw up a shack in open country, just as long as you claim it’s a One Planet Development saving us from global warming. As this recent FoI response makes clear.
Nobody in officialdom cared about this unauthorised OPD, just as nobody cares about the unlawful release of beavers into the Dyfi because the authors are people with names like Guy and Cassandra rather than Gwilym and Cerys.
Am I exaggerating?
As I write, we have tourists dumping rubbish everywhere, blocking roads; Welsh communities are being destroyed by holiday homes and colonisation, yet the ‘Welsh Government’ prefers to sit on its hands, serving the interests of an alien and genocidal tourism industry.
We need a fresh intake of politicians to Corruption Bay prepared to prioritise Welsh interests. Make it happen next year!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Predictably, ‘Dr’ Davidson lives on a smallholding of her own.
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.
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.
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.
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’?
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.)
CORDELIA COMMUNITY ENERGY CIC. Formed 15 June 2015; 5 loans taken out 2017, three with Finance Wales, all still outstanding; 4 new directors appointed February 2017; either merges with or is taken over September 2017 by YnNi Teg Cyf. Flanagan no longer a director.
COIGACH COMMUNITY CIC (originally Willowcroft W. Community Energy CIC). Formed June 2015; address moved from Parkmill to Manchester July 2016, when Flanagan ceased to be a director; net assets £10. (‘Coigach’ is a Scottish Gaelic name.)
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 . . . ‘.
‘ . . . 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 . . .
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.
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.
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.
The land we’re looking at is covered by title number WA289901.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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’.
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.
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.
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.
But even in ‘apologising’ she can’t resist having a Parthian shot with ‘aliens’!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Yes, devolution’s been good for some in Cardiff. As long as you’ve got the connections.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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?
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.
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 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
25.10.2018 Lesley Griffiths gives approval in letter to developer’s agents. (Though in that letter it was amusing to read, under ‘Timings & Plans’, “The development shall begin not later than five years from the date of this decision”.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
Vikki Howells seems to envision the development at Tower linking with the Rhondda Tunnel . . . owned by Highways England!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?