We all belong to some kind of network. It can be as obvious as family or friends, or else it’s neighbours, workmates, political associates, other fans of the teams you support, fellow-worshippers at your chapel or church, even the people you play darts with down the pub. And nowadays we have to include social media.
Yet when we consciously use the word I’m sure many of us think of vaguely sinister organisations such as the Freemasons.
A curious outfit, the Freemasons, forever extolling their links with the Temple of Solomon, the Knights Templar, and the intellectuals and freethinkers of the Renaissance and the French Enlightenment. Yet this brotherhood lost its way and became what we see today – a mutual benefit society.
In fact, the Masons changed from being an organisation of questioning intellectuals to one representing an unquestioning and defensive bourgeoisie linked with the Conservative and Unionist Party, and in Ireland with Unionism and the Orange Order.
Freemasonry became a buttress for a UK establishment feeling threatened by the extending franchise in Britain and ‘Fenianism’ in Ireland. Which is not to say that supporters of other political parties don’t become Masons, but at root, Freemasonry is very much a Queen and Country organisation.
Yet today’s Freemasons maintain the pretence they belong to a rebellious intellectual continuum taking in Michaelangelo and Voltaire. Obvious nonsense.
One of the great bogeymen, and therefore recruiting sergeants, for the Freemasons a century ago was the Labour Party. Labour returned the compliment by trying to copy the reach of Freemasonry by building up its own network.
As with Freemasonry when it moved beyond the esoteric Labour’s expanding network of affiliated and associated bodies attracted individuals seeking personal advancement. This has predictably resulted in corruption.
Nowhere is this corruption more obvious now than in Wales.
THE OLIVE TRUST & THE KIDWELLY HUB
In the previous post we renewed our acquaintance with Denise Kingsley Acton, former Green Party candidate in Watford, proprietrix of the Olive Trust (‘Smells ‘n’ chants ‘r’ us’) who washed up in Wales (as so many like her do), struck up a curious friendship with an elderly Swansea Labour councillor, and then in 2010 applied for £1,000,000 from the Welsh European Funding Office.
Last week I wrote to WEFO asking if this application had been successful. The answer I received seems very carefully worded. The underlinings are mine.
“Thanks for your email. I’ve discussed with colleagues and as far as we’re aware, the Olive Trust does not appear to have directly received EU funding. For your information, the EU funds pages of the Welsh Government shows a list of all approved project through the current programmes“.
“As far as we’re aware” be buggered! Surely they keep records, they must know!
On the assumption that she did not get her million it could be that Denise Kingsley Acton believes the grass – and perhaps the funders – may be greener in Carmarthenshire, for she is now domiciled in Kidwelly. To be exact, in a detached house on an expensive new development near Mynydd-y-Garreg.
According to 192.com Denise S Kingsley lives with the man to whom I assume she is engaged – for her Facebook page informs us she is betrothed – and a Denise S Acton! Ménage à trois? Of course not – how dare you! – but confusion is bound to result when you use different names; and when she gets married the confusion can only increase.
Kingsley-Acton has recently opined that Kidwelly is badly in need of a community building (the kind of thing she wanted a million quid for in 2010) but hasn’t she heard of ‘The Hub’? It’s all happening in the Kidwelly Community Hub . . . well, maybe not much is happening, but it provides photo opportunities galore for Labour politicians. So it serves its real purpose.
Other directors or former directors are also recent arrivals in Wales. Which makes the claim on the Facebook page that “Kidwelly Community Hub is a venture by Kidwelly people for Kidwelly people” a load of old bollocks, as we students of the third sector are wont to say.
It’s all so reminiscent of another ‘community’ venture in Carmarthenshire, this one at Llandovery. There we find another Englishwoman, Jill Tatman, who has commandeered a building – the former YMCA – then demanded and received funding to pay herself a good salary for running the show, though the YMCA has told her she can no longer use their name.
That’s because there are suspicions that hubby’s interest in the children visiting the building is not entirely innocent. Though she is said to have defended him at a recent trustees meeting by arguing that he had suffered enough for “only rubbing up against the kids”. So that’s all right then.
How many of these fucking memsahibs are there infesting our rural areas? Though some of them are not even living here, they seem to do it by remote control!
It reminds me of someone else with a very healthy income who lives in social housing, someone who writes regular letters to Llais y Sais. But then, former RAF Group Captain Kel Palmer of Mountain Ash is another Labour Party supporter, formerly involved with the doomed Communities First programme.
Many assume that social housing is for local people who can’t afford to buy a home of their own, which is how it should be, but not how it works in Wales. Well-off people can get social housing – if they’re in the Labour Party.
But then, the social housing system fails Wales in so many ways.
To the point where what we have in Wales is very often anti-social housing – paid for from the Welsh public purse. How stupid must we be to tolerate this?
UPDATE 15.03.2018: I have now figured out how Mrs Nicola Herbertson of Surbiton got involved with the Kidwelly Hub. A previous director was Jonathan Michael Hobden, along with his wife, Fiona Mary. Here’s his Companies House entry and below is an extract from his Linkedin profile.
You’ll note, first, that he describes himself as a philanthropist! But more importantly, he is Director of Marketing at Hao2.eu aka 3DNovations. Now the CEO and founder of Hao2.eu Ltd is Nicola Herbertson. (There is also a Hao2.eu Foundation registered with the Charity Commission, No 1153397.)
So it would appear that Ynghyd Ltd / Kidwelly Hub is a creation of, and controlled by, a company based in London. Which reminds us yet again what a load of old bollocks is the claim on the Facebook page that, Kidwelly Community Hub is a venture by Kidwelly people for Kidwelly people”. I doubt if there’s one genuine Kidwelly local involved.
So does the Kidwelly Hub exist for the people of Kidwelly or for the benefit of Hao2.eu and ‘Welsh’ Labour?
According to the story, attributed to Iwan Lewis, “K Sharp has spread its footprint by opening a new office in Llanelli, South Wales, whilst keeping an office in Gloucester”. This is clearly a regurgitated press release, for readers of Llanelli Online should not need to be told that their town is in south Wales. (Many would prefer ‘west Wales’.)
Though if we go to the Companies House entry for K Sharp Ltd we see that on 11 January the company changed its address to Suite 2, West End Yard, West End, Llanelli, which suggests a complete move rather than opening a branch office.
So what do we know about K Sharp Ltd?
Well, the website suggests it’s a company concerned with human behaviour, including, ‘Cultural and Behavioural Analytics’, and that the head honcho is Barry Kirby, assisted by his wife and two other women. Much of their work seems to be police- or defence-related.
Given K Sharp’s line of work is there any link with the Local MP, Nia Griffith, being shadow defence secretary? Or is Barry hoping to cash in on the Coffin partnership’s Wellness extravaganza?
I think we should be told why a company based in Gloucestershire, working with Gloucester University, suddenly ups sticks and moves 110 miles down the M4. Nobody makes a move like this unless there’s some advantage in it for them, so what has K Sharp Ltd been promised, and by whom?
Another mystery is that the Micro-entity accounts available on the Companies House website for K Sharp Ltd deal in peanuts, so where’s the money to run a company like this and pay four people’s salaries?
Looking at the bigger picture, is Labour perhaps fearful of electoral trends elsewhere in the county infecting Sosban and now attempting to strengthen its hold on the constituency? A project greatly helped by Plaid Cymru destroying itself in the area.
But with all the memsahibs, snake oil salesmen/saleswomen, and outright crooks now sucking on the teat of public funding, and with so few of them having true local connections, this ploy could backfire. Because people aren’t that stupid, not even lifelong Labour voters.
But whatever the future holds we can rely on Llanelli Online to bring us all the Labour Party news. It’ll be up to people like me to give you something closer to the truth.
Bad enough, but by following links and making connections, it becomes clear how these hippy settlements link with other colonial operations in ripping off the Welsh public purse and arrogantly claiming to have the answers to ‘problems’ the inhabitants of the Welsh countryside didn’t realise existed.
Let’s stick with Lammas for a minute. Which we see here described as an “off-grid ecovillage”.
Something repeated on the Lammas website, where we read: “Electrical power is generated from a series of micro photovoltaic installations along with a 27kW hydro generator. Heating power is supplied from timber (either waste timber from our woodland management or from short-rotation-coppice biomass plantations). Domestic water comes from a private spring and other water needs are predominantly met from harvesting rainwater.”
So it’s off-grid in terms of its electrical supply, and self-sufficient in water, apparently. Though I’m a little confused by the wording, which reads, “Domestic water comes from a private spring and other water needs are predominantly met from harvesting rainwater.” ‘Predominantly’ is not exclusively, and suggests the spring and harvested rainwater are supplemented in some way.
Is water toted from a nearby stream or is there a mains water supply to Lammas?
Worth asking because reports on the recent fire mention a ‘junction box’. Again, this could be explained by the solar, hydro or biomass power, but it also raises the prospect of a mains electricity supply.
Note that the account I’ve linked to in the Telegraph quotes Jasmine Dale, who lived in the house, saying, ” . . . we know the feeling, our first home burnt down . . . “. We also read, ” . . . there have been three similar incidents in Pembrokeshire in the last year.” Bloody hell!
What do these fires have in common, could it be something to do with the way certain buildings are constructed? I ask because someone drew my attention to a Facebook exchange on the subject of the Lammas fire.
Hoppi Wimbush is the wife of Paul, and with her husband is one of the founders of Lammas/Tir y Gafel. What she has to say is very interesting. “The corridors acted like a chimney” suggests that there were no internal doors, certainly no fire doors. All accounts I’ve read suggest that the fire took hold very quickly and burned fiercely. So, again, what might have caused that?
The answer may come, unintentionally, from Rachel Shiamh, who says in the Facebook conversation, “As we all know, straw bale buildings are not a high fire risk . . . “. Now I know that we are dealing here with people who prefer an alternative lifestyle, but this woman also demands an alternative reality, because straw bales are inherently flammable, and to pretend otherwise is insane!
UPDATE 09.01.2018: Just days after the Lammas fire the English Planning Inspectorate overruled Pembrokeshire county council to give planning permission to another ‘low impact smallholding’ in the county. Significantly, the inspector used both pieces of legislation I mentioned above to justify her decision.
UPDATE 16.01.2018: If you’re tempted to visit Lammas – for God’s sake don’t eat there!
You’ll have read that Rachel Shiamh thanks David Thorpe, so who might he be? To begin with, we see that he’s another denizen of Alternative Reality who also believes that strawbale buildings are just fine.
In the immediate future, this recent tweet suggests that someone plans an ecovillage, another Lammas, in the Tywi valley.
Regular readers may be struck by the venue for this meeting last Sunday about a new ecovillage, for it’s at the former YMCA building in Llandovery run by Jill Tatman, which has been told by the YMCA organisation to stop using the YMCA label. I wrote about it a couple of months back, scroll down to the section Llandovery YMCA.
So where might this new ecovillage be located?
I suspect that it’s at Coed Tal-y-Lan aka Red Pig Farm. And if that sounds familiar then it’s because I also wrote about the place and those involved back in September 2016, in The Green Smokescreen, which I urge you to read, in order to understand the kind of people we’re dealing with. Not just the shyster-hippies but the politicians, in Labour and Plaid Cymru, who back them.
The Black Mountain Food Hub had a Twitter account that seemed to think Wales is in England. Quaint!
As you might expect, I went to the Land Registry website for the details on Red Pig Farm or Coed Tal-y-Lan, but what came up for that post code was ‘Pentre Bach’, so I took a chance and bought it.
The title document then confuses the issue a little further by giving the name of the property as Tan-Y-Lan Woodlands, which is obviously a part-Anglicisation of Coed Tan-y-Lan, and is owned by Christopher John Cooper of Ammanford. And although I was able to download the title document from the Land Registry website, there was no outline plan to accompany it, as is normally the case.
So who is Christopher John Cooper? And is Red Pig Farm on his property, perhaps formerly known as Pentre Bach? If Red Pig Farm is not on the land owned by Cooper then why isn’t it registered separately with the Land Registry?
The picture is further complicated by 192.com which suggests that also based at Red Pig Farm are S E & E O Williams, who appear to be genuine Welsh farmers.
In a final attempt to make some sense of what the place is called and who might own it, I went to the Companies House entry for Red Pig Farm Ltd . . . though the company changed its name in December to Coed Talylan Ltd. The company had been known as Red Pig Farm Ltd since June 2016, before which it was Agroecology Land Initiative Ltd.
There have also been a few changes of address since Incorporation in February 2015, with the first registered address being in Stroud, Gloucestershire. In June 2015 the address changed to Werndolau Farm, Golden Grove, Carmarthen SA32 8NE (which seems to be linked to Red Pig Farm via the Black Mountain Food Hub). In May 2016 the address was settled as Red Pig Farm.
So who owns what and how are they connected? And how many different names are there for this property? Answers on a postcard, please . . .
MORE ALTERNATIVE REALITY
Ecovillages and all the other elements of this strategy are being encouraged, so we are told by the ‘Welsh’ Government and those involved, to do something about global warming, and who can argue with that? So let’s give it some thought.
Let’s focus on 76 acres of unused land in north Pembrokeshire, land that has no carbon footprint. Then a bunch of people move in from England. They clear that land, cut down trees, burn wood to create smoke, produce human and animal waste including methane, and create a substantial carbon footprint where there was none before.
Clearly, Lammas and other communities, like the one planned for Red Pig Farm, because they develop unused land and are populated exclusively by incomers, increase Wales’ carbon footprint. Which means that the fundamental premiss of the whole strategy is – as we environmentalists are wont to say after a glass or five of Malbec – utter bollocks.
The counter-argument might be that this encouraged degradation is a price worth paying for the educational role played by places like Lammas in helping Wales become more environmentally friendly. But there is little if any interaction with the indigenous population to facilitate an educational role.
We know this because the only people who attend the courses run by Lammas, or volunteer to work on these ecovillages and similar schemes, are people just like those running them – members of the English middle class hoping to find their own bit of land in Wales and move in . . . to build more fire-traps like those at Lammas.
By moving to Wales those involved with Lammas, Red Pig Farm and similar ventures increase Wales’ carbon footprint but of course they reduce England’s; so is our ‘Welsh’ Government legislating to make England a greener and pleasanter land by attracting these people to Wales?
I apologise for this post being a bit long, over 3,000 words; but it’s in four separate and distinct parts, plus a Conclusion. So you can enjoy it one section at a time.
THE ‘BEDSIT BARON’ OF PEMBROKE DOCK
Pembroke Dock is one of those towns that most people drive past or don’t visit. I suppose if Pembroke, a mile or two inland, had grown as some had hoped, then the Dock might have played Piraeus to Pembroke’s Athens, but fate decreed otherwise.
Even so, Pembroke Dock does make the news, but usually for the wrong reasons. For it is a town in decline, having more in common with Valleys communities than with other Pembrokeshire settlements like Narberth or St David’s.
This decline should have been evident to anyone who read my recent piece Publicly-funded Poverty (under the section heading, ‘The Publicly-funded Private Sector’), where I discussed the fate of the old Coronation School.
You won’t be surprised to learn that this building made the news again last week, as the report below from the Pembrokeshire Herald tells us.
It would be bad enough if this report about properties owned by that ‘Baron of the Bedsits’, Cathal McCosker, was simply reporting dumped garbage attracting rats, but we have to remember that McCosker received hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to ‘renovate’ these properties. And he’s received hundreds of thousands more in housing benefit.
Money that many people want to see accounted for. All the while the ‘Welsh’ Government does nothing, in order to protect its European funding office (WEFO) from the scrutiny that would expose it as one of those around whom Mr McCosker danced rings, unless of course there was complicity.
Not only does McCosker make a fortune from renting properties that were, basically, given to him (with money on top), he further increases his income from those properties by acting as his own letting agent through his company e-Lettings.
That we know so much about McCosker and the manifest ‘failings’ at both county and national level is due in no small part to two blogging councillors; Jacob Williams and Mike Stoddart, the latter blogging as ‘Old Grumpy‘.
In a recent post, ‘Unknown quantities’, Stoddart dealt with data and statistics telling us that almost everyone housed by Pembrokeshire council was ‘local’. Though I’m not sure if the table below applies only to council lettings or also to those of housing associations.
Given the numbers I would guess the figures represent the ‘shared register’.
Either way, the table gives us an insight into the connection between the likes of Cathal McCosker and social housing providers (because of course the figures for ‘no local connection’ are nonsense). This link is found across Wales with private landlords great and small enjoying close working relationships with council housing departments and housing associations.
This is how it works, and how it benefits everyone . . . except of course, you and me.
If a tenant can stick it out in some grotty flat or bedsit, with drunks,paedophiles, thugs, people threatening to jump out of windows, and gets on nodding terms with the local rodent population, then after a year – and perhaps the wave of a wand – he or she is transmogrified into a ‘local’, and because they are locals in unsuitable accommodation they simultaneously soar to the top of the list for nice new social housing.
This system ensures a steady supply of tenants from outside of Wales for unscrupulous private landlords like Cathal McCosker. Some will find their own way but most are directed to places like Coronation School through many private landlords having a relationship with social services departments, probation companies and other agencies in England.
This system also guarantees a steady supply of tenants for housing associations and councils (though few councils have social housing responsibilities any longer). This is important, because with the ever-present threat of being gobbled up by a predator, or the risk of public funding being cut, housing associations like to be seen to be busy, and if this can be achieved by housing the former tenants of Cathal McCosker and hundreds like him, then so be it.
Just think about that for a minute. Or better still, think what the response might be if you tried to explain this system to someone who doesn’t know Wales.
‘So let me get this straight: you pay private landlords huge sums to bring in problem tenants from England, people that you know in advance will cost you more money by being a burden on your police forces, your health service and other facilities; then you spend yet more money buying or building social housing for these people – are you insane! Do you have money to burn?’
The only people who speak in defence of this system are those who prosper from it and those who view social housing as another tool to be used in colonising and Anglicising Wales.
A five-year residency qualification for social housing must be introduced.
We also need legislation to ensure that some scrubber from Wolverhampton who’s made herself and her kids homeless does not become a priority case for Welsh social housing, as happens now . . . all too often.
Both measures would go a long way to restoring peace to our communities and also save Wales a lot of money.
Another subject I’ve covered more than once is Llandovery YMCA, or whatever it intends calling itself now that the YMCA has told it to stop using the label.
Until quite recently there was an organisation known as YMCA Wales run, it would appear, by a woman from Northern Ireland called Mo Sykes. In 2012 or 2013 (perhaps earlier) YMCA Wales began dealing with an English charity for the homeless known as Green Pastures, run by ‘Pastor’ Pete Cunningham.
This may have been an attempt to boost the flagging finances of YMCA Wales, for Mo Sykes is said to have been ruthless in screwing money out of local YMCA operations that often left them without funds. Whatever the money was used for it didn’t save YMCA Wales from administration in 2014, after which it was taken over by YMCA England, with the major asset, the Newgale Outdoor Education Centre in Pembrokeshire, being sold in 2015 for £507,000.
Around the same time it was being reported that Mo Sykes had left in rather a hurry. Which probably explains why her publicly available Linkedin profile goes back no further than 2014.
During her time at the helm of YMCA Wales (or maybe down in the bilges scuppering the ship) Mo Sykes formed a relationship with another recent arrival with a nose for easy money, a certain Gill Tatman of Llandovery YMCA.
More information on Gill Tatman and those grouped around her can be found in videos someone with a sense of humour saw fit to upload onto YouTube. You’ll find them in the posts I’ve linked to above.
By some route Tatman had come into possession of Llandovery YMCA, which had chugged along for years but was now about to take off as a ‘hub’, open to all manner of groups, from the local marrow growers (third Wednesday of every month) to the Teifi Valley branch of the Taliban (every Friday after prayers and the ritual stoning of the smokers outside the Kings Head on the way from the mosque).
Whatever function it may have purported to serve Llandovery YMCA’s real purpose was to provide a salary and a pension for Jill Tatman, and a place where her cronies could delude themselves they were doing something useful; you know, ‘contributing’.
But things started to go wrong last year, and led the National (Englandandwales) Association of YMCAs to remove Llandovery from its list of registered affiliates. This may or may not have been linked to Tatman’s husband being accused of having an unhealthy interest in children.
So it may have been coincidence that around the same time Carmarthenshire County Council removed the building from its list of approved youth clubs. As one former trustee was told, the council is “not supporting any provision within the old YMCA premises”.
And yet . . . Jill Tatman is still allowed to have children on the premises. It seems there’s a loophole she exploits by running an after school club open only two hours a day.
There are always loopholes, as Mr McCosker can testify, but what really surprised me was that Llandovery YMCA’s after school club is approved and advertised by an organisation called Clybiau Plant Cymru (Kids’ Clubs).
Seeing as Tatman’s little empire has been disowned by the YMCA, blacklisted by Carmarthenshire Council, shunned by all except the most desperate local parents, why is the ‘Welsh’ Government giving it a seal of approval through Clybiau Plant Cymru?
UPDATE 02.12.2016: I’m grateful to a source for directing me to this. The photo used is old, the kids are now adults, and they go nowhere near the ‘YMCA’. For those wondering what it’s all about, this is a scheme for Co-op customers to donate money to a favourite local charity (the wife and I give to our village hall).
For a few years recently Swansea council had a bad dose of the Trots, in the form of Anglo-Austrian duo Bob and Uta Clay. Both now departed to pastures new, and unknown. Though given his friendship with Comrade Corbyn it was assumed by many that they were going to work for the great man.
For those seeking more information on this fascinating duo who washed up in Swansea on one tide and were gone with the next, I suggest you type ‘Bob Clay’ into the search box, whereupon you will be presented with a cornucopia of reports of Swansea Labour Party intrigue and dirty doings.
Now I hear from the city of my dreams that in the post-Clay era the Trotskyite banner has been taken up by Louise Gibbard, a Dunvant councillor. It has been unkindly suggested that not only does Gibbard share the politics of the departed Uta but also her hairdresser. (What a cad you are!)
It is further rumoured that the Trots – i.e. Momentum – are building a power base through community councils, school governors’ boards, union branches and anything else they can use ahead of an assault on reactionary and bourgeois elements within the party.
A number of MPs, AMs and councillors in the Swansea area are said to be targeted, with pride of place on Gibbard’s saddle reserved for the head of Swansea West MP Geraint Davies.
The Clays were, if only briefly, councillors for the Llansamlet ward on the east side of the river, across from Morriston, not that they knew anything about the area, its history, or its people. One of those who replaced them in Llansamlet in the May elections was Mo Sykes. Yes, the same Mo Sykes we encountered in Llandovery! Small world, innit!
But never mind her ignorance of the area, all that matters is keeping Labour in power.
Never forget that.
Back in March 2015 the ‘Welsh’ Government passed one of its regular ‘Aren’t we wonderful’ pieces of legislation designed to please Guardian readers and assorted lobbies on the left, while doing little or nothing for Wales.
In the period leading up to the vote in the Cynulliad there were persistent rumours of pressure being applied by Labour Party loyalists on women’s groups that wanted changes to the legislation. It’s covered fairly well in this WalesOnline report.
An ad hoc grouping central to the allegations was the Wales Violence Against Women Action Group, made up of various charities and third sector bodies. Scroll down to the foot of the page I’ve linked to and you’ll see the organisations belonging to WVAWAG.
Among them is, top left, Bawso (formerly, Black Association of Women Step Out). In the accounts for the year covering the run-up to the vote in the Assembly Bawso received close on £1.5m from the ‘Welsh’ Government, with further amounts from various Labour-controlled local authorities taking the figure close to two million pounds.
Total donations – including public funding – came to £2,765,954. Rental income was £429,710, with room hire and bank interest taking us up to a total income for the year of £3,211,182. As is always the case in the third sector, salaries and pensions accounted for over two-thirds of that with £2,113,106
I think not. In Rose Mutale Nyoni-Merrill OBE (yes, inevitably, she has received an ‘honour’) we have a third sector operator of the first order. She came to Wales and soon realised that there was a quick way to easy money – join the Labour Party, form some third sector organisations Wales doesn’t need, and then just keep applying for public funding.
Having sold her soul to the Labour Party she was their creature, to do the party’s bidding. This meant being elevated to posts for which she might not have been qualified or suited, but that didn’t matter, for she wasn’t given these posts to serve the public interest but to serve the Labour Party. A role we know she has fulfilled on many occasions.
The report I’ve linked to above about the Community Health Councils is dated November 26. The following day Mutale Nyoni-Merrill resigned from Welsh Women’s Aid. Or was she pushed? Is she finally becoming too much of an embarrassment?
I think that from Labour’s perspective she is now damaged goods. It will be interesting to see which pasture is found for her retirement.
The irony will not be lost on readers that here we have a woman who has – for public consumption – been a staunch campaigner against bullying; and yet, that’s exactly what she is, a bully! Which is why she fits so perfectly into the culture of ‘Welsh’ Labour.
I recall being told about her back in 2012 by an employee, of how public funds given to Bawso were being spent on private purchases; and how husband, Travers, with no connection to Bawso, would avail himself of that outfit’s publicly-funded equipment and facilities for his own business.
There were even more serious allegations, and names, that I had better not mention . . . yet.
Wales is corrupt, we know that, and the source of the corruption is almost always the local branch of the UK Labour Party.
And it’s not just us that see it. Knowledge of the system has spread well beyond our borders. Just look at those I’ve dealt with here, all of them – McCosker, Tatman, Sykes, Mutale Nyoni, Travers Merrill – came to Wales because they heard there was easy money to be made.
Another example is provided by Llamau (currently receiving a splurge of free publicity in Llais y Sais). From 1999, once it was realised that a pliable and profligate ‘Welsh’ Labour government was in place, third sector shysters flocked to Wales, and among the first were those who took over the obscure John Rowley Trust in Barry and turned it into Llamau.
Llamau now has an annual income of more than ten million pounds, and of course, most of that goes on salaries.
Where it has little political support Labour exercises influence through other agencies reliant on it for funding: higher education establishments, third sector bodies, housing associations (Wales & West being the most blatant), while in Plaid Cymru’s Gwynedd heartland Labour works through bodies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and funding agency Mantell Gwynedd.
And all done, not for the benefit of Wales, or local communities, but to extend and entrench the power of the Labour Party.
The Wales Council for Voluntary Action – which describes itself as the “portal” to the third sector – serves as a government department in all but name, but it belongs to a political party not the state, and is answerable – as we have seen with Mutale Nyoni-Merrill – to none but that party.
This is how a one-party state operates. And like all dictatorships the economy suffers.
Wales is now burdened with a class of parasites that can influence political decision-making. This means that the third sector dreams up an endless stream of ‘schemes’, ‘projects’ and ‘initiatives’, plus new organisations, that have only one purpose – to feather-bed useless fuckers we wouldn’t miss if they were all abducted tomorrow by aliens.
To keep this parasitical class in the style to which it has become accustomed so that it may serve the political interests of the Labour Party means draining the Welsh public purse.
Which results in them getting richer while Wales gets poorer. This presents another irony, for these bastards, with their countless competing and duplicating organisations are supposed to be alleviating poverty, but they are in fact making Wales poorer!
I leave you with this thought: A more prosperous Wales is possible, but not with an overblown third sector beholden to a political party that relies on poverty and deprivation for its political support.
The answer to that question is, from the mid-1980s until some time in August or September of 2014, when YMCA Wales went into administration. In the report I’ve linked to you’ll read, “While the head office for YMCA Wales is in the Llansamlet area of Swansea, the majority of the staff are based in West Wales where the charity ran an outdoor education centre at Newgale.”
The “outdoor education centre at Newgale” in Pembrokeshire was YMCA Wales’ prize asset, worth some half a million pounds. Like a restless spirit that refuses to pass over the Newgale website is still available, though of course it hasn’t been updated since 2014.
From the information I’ve been able to gather it would appear that the Centre was bought in June 2015 for £507,000 by Captiva Holdings of Haverfordwest, and is run by another company at the same address known as The Development Company.
While I’m glad to see that this property (made up of three bunkhouses) was bought by a local company (Land Registry document), I was disappointed when told that all the money raised went to pay off creditors, with the administrators of course taking their cut, rather than it being distributed among the surviving YMCAs scattered about the land.
With the parent body demised, the jewel in the crown flogged off, and the coffers empty, it seems that the various YMCAs left standing affiliated themselves to YMCA England. The clip below is taken from page 3 of YMCA England’s Annual Report 2015/6.
I put this clip out on Twitter a few days ago, one response likened it to an acclamation of Hitler’s Anschluss of Austria in 1938. For there is something chilling and totalitarian about making the “federation stronger” and adopting “the national brand”, which of course can only mean the English national brand.
YMCA Wales was put into administration at the start of September 2014. Its CEO until July had been Mo Sykes, though she had not been at work for a few months, it’s possible she had been suspended. She certainly left under something of a cloud, to the extent that the ‘Welsh’ Government called Plod in to sniff around.
The feedback I was getting in 2014 and earlier argued that the real problem lay in affiliated YMCA groups being taken over and asset-stripped in order to a) fund the parent body run by Mo Sykes, b) pay off its debts, c) benefit projects favoured by Ms Sykes or d) any combination of those three.
One of the more bizarre of those projects was YMCA Wales wanting to build housing on land it claimed to own in Penrhyndeudraeth, just south of Porthmadog in Gwynedd. I wrote about this in July 2013 with YMCA ‘Wales’, Another Trojan Horse At The Trough. It soon became clear that YMCA Wales was in fact fronting for an evangelical church, Green Pastures, which has, quite unashamedly, commercialised homelessness, to the extent of seeking investors and partners. I explained this linkage in YMCA ‘Wales’ And The Green, Green Pastures.
A curious feature of this arrangement was the link between Green Pastures and YMCA Flint. To begin with, it appeared that YMCA Flint was not affiliated to YMCA Wales yet YMCA Wales seemed to be paying its salaries; also, there was funding coming from Flintshire County Council.
It only made sense when I realised that Green Pastures, an outfit with a presence all across Lancashire and Yorkshire, was invisible on Merseyside, instead it seemed to be dealing with the homeless of that conurbation through a group of evangelical churches in Flintshire, assisted by the local YMCA.
Another disturbing tale concerned Bargoed YMCA, where Mo Sykes and YMCA Wales displaced the locals who had been running this local outpost. A dispute arose, which went legal, and with perfect Christian timing those who dared challenge Mo Sykes and YMCA Wales were served with a notice to pay £9,800 – on Christmas Eve!
Though perhaps the major casualty was the YMCA Wales Community College, a multi-million pound adult education business that had been going well, expanding year on year. There seem to have been issues in certain quarters over ‘duplication’ and the Community College has since merged with the Workers’ Educational Association Cymru to form Addysg Oedolion Cymru / Adult Learning Wales.
Even though YMCAs in Wales have affiliated to YMCA England that body still brought out a Welsh Manifesto . . . or, rather, a YMCAs in Wales Manifesto 2016, ahead of last year’s Assembly elections. Why? Because the YMCA is a social landlord and a Third Sector body, so it wants to continue screwing money out of the ‘Welsh’ Government.
Having dealt with the more general picture, I’m now going to focus on a specific example of how a YMCA operates. I’ve written a few times about this subject, trying to explain what a racket it is. Unfortunately, it’s a familiar story and not confined to Llandovery.
It goes something like this: a bunch of incomers/good-lifers get together and wonder how the area – Wales, even – managed without them. This acceptance of their missionary duty is coupled with the realisation that there’s a lot of easy moolah sloshing around. Next step is to get some semi-numerate ‘adviser’ to concoct a business plan, spew forth bollocks about ‘community space’, providing ‘facilities’, blah, blah, blah, then whack in grant applications to all and sundry.
The real purpose of these schemes is of course to further boost the egos of those involved while also providing salaries and pension pots.
You can find these schemes all over the country but certain areas are affected worse than others because a number of factors come into play. One being whether an area receives EU structural funding (pissed away by the Labour Party at a rate which makes the half-time deluge at rugby internationals look like a trickle). Another consideration is how attractive an area is to good-lifers, white flighters, hippies, enviro-shysters and others. Finally, there’s the local council’s attitude towards such parasites.
By way of example, the Heads of the Valleys may qualify for Objective One funding, but Ebbw Vale, Merthyr and other towns won’t attract many belonging to the groups I’ve listed; furthermore, the local Labour hetmen have always been reluctant to see money over which they have any control pass out of the ‘family’.
On the other hand, the more scenically attractive and rural areas suffer greatly from this influx. One such area is the Tywi valley, and one such town is Llanymddyfri. Which is where we encounter Jill Tatman and her friends.
One source of funding made available to Tatman and her gang was Carmarthenshire County Council’s Rural Development Plan: Supporting Rural Carmarthenshire. Here’s a RDP video put out in September 2013, you don’t need to be a nationalist to be struck by the fact that the only Welsh voice we hear is in the introduction.
What we see here explains why the funding allocated to Wales has achieved so little. In the world of funding, dishing out the money so as not to jeopardise next year’s dollop is all that really matters. When the system is run on such lines then funding becomes nothing more than a box-ticking exercise, and money is inevitably wasted.
Thankfully, the Llandovery racket seems to be coming to an end. For I hear that the gang is no longer allowed to use the YMCA name, the Lottery funding may have stopped, and now they hope to keep afloat solely on what they make from room hire. Which means that it might all come tumbling down fairly soon.
It should not surprise anyone to learn that Jill Tatman, educated at a privately run evangelical college in Derbyshire, was for a time a trustee of YMCA Wales; in fact she was personal assistant to the CEO, which probably explains why Mo Sykes became a trustee of Llandovery YMCA, and was almost certainly instrumental in securing the grants and other benefits for her friend Tatman Llandovery YMCA.
WHO’S WHO IN LLANDOVERY YMCA
Those still involved are an interesting crew, and serve to remind us yet again that our rural areas are being ripped apart by a combination of neglect, tourism and colonisation.
First of course we have Jill Tatman herself. I hear that the CPS will not be pressing charges against her husband but it’s suggested there are questions about the wisdom of allowing children near the (former) YMCA building in future.
Next up is Andrew Barker, owner of the Tŷ Gwyn tea rooms in Llanwrda. He tweets as Pastor Emeritus @barkerswoof. Barker was a teacher in Essex who married one of his pupils, moved to Wales, and now has eight children. A religious cove, our Andrew, who obviously went forth and multiplied.
Julie Richards is another ex-teacher, this time from northern England. She taught for a while at Ysgol Pantycelyn, but had to give up teaching due to bipolar disorder. She now helps run the Gwynfe Cat Welfare in Llandovery, which rescues cats . . . from whom or from what I know not.
Then there’s the man described to me as “a self-ordained and self-appointed ‘rural pastor'”, Simon Bowkett who runs a charity called Y Grwp or, to give it its full name, Grace Rural Wales Partnership. To judge by the photograph he wears the Horse and Hound clothing no authentic Welsh countryman would ever wear.
Another member of this circus may be encountered at the Cibola emporium in Llandovery. Owner Diane Fontenoy supplements her income by fostering children on her farm near Llandovery. I have it from more than one source that fostering is regarded as a nice little earner among the colon population.
Moving on . . . Anna Battek-Kosiorowska is – as the name might suggest – Polish, a vet and a friend of Julie Richards.
Let’s not forget one of the current trustees, Anne Swift, an elderly spinster, retired barrister and High Tory. Said to be from Gower, but might respond with the Duke of Wellington’s horse and stable analogy if accused of being Welsh. To judge by her Twitter account she has little time for people, being one of those elderly women who is obsessed with cats and dogs.
Finally, let’s remember two more seen in the video (at 1:47), Gill Wright and Jane Ryall. They took over the old North Western pub and had it converted into a bunkhouse called the Level Crossing. I don’t know how much public money went into this venture, but however much it was it was wasted. The venture collapsed last year after less than three years in ‘business’.
You will have noticed that a number of those involved are of a religious bent but do not belong to anything most of us would regard as mainstream religion, more the ‘happy clappy’ element, Evangelicals of the kind we met earlier in Penrhyndeudraeth. Nothing wrong with this, or course, but the Land Registry title document for the building makes interesting reading in this context.
You’ll see that the property was transferred to YMCA Wales by the Church in Wales, with certain covenants. I have no reason to suspect that Tatman and her clique hold Bacchanalian orgies in the building so it’s reasonable to assume that the conditions outlined in 2.1 have been adhered to, but what of 2.2?
Clearly the building has been used “other than for residential purposes”, indeed, except for Lee Mattocks – who can be found on the video at 2:53 – living there rent free for two years, I’m not sure the building has ever been used for residential purposes.
Perhaps of more worry should be that the building is said to be regularly used for happy clappy gatherings, which clearly contravenes 2.2 in that these belong to a “religious denomination or sect” other than Anglican.
The latest news is that the remaining Welsh trustees are being elbowed out and Tatman and her gang are seeking new sources of funding.
Though anyone minded to fund these people should insist on a rather more transparent accounting system than the one I’m told is currently in use. For La Tatman is said to pay for things with her personal debit card and then reimburse herself from YMCA funds!
And although there is only one known YMCA bank account some wonder where the £18,000 magically appeared from when that account was running low. Suspicions persist that there may be accounts existing that are unknown to those outside a gilded circle. Perhaps YMCA money is ‘resting’ in personal accounts, away from prying eyes.
RETURN TO LLANSAMLET
Mo Sykes walked away from the wreckage of YMCA Wales and set herself up as a consultant before landing the post of New Beginnings Manager with the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project in November 2016, yet another ride on the Third Sector merry-go-round. SYSHP income for y/e 31.03.2017 was £1,190,550 (down from £1,349,594 y/e 31.03.2012) and salaries took a very hefty £860,031 of that (£994,721 y/e 31.03.2012).
(I bet you’re surprised to learn that Mo Sykes is a member of the Labour Party! And this being Swansea, it should go without saying that she’s not Welsh. Sykes is from the Six Counties.)
Llansamlet is a ward I know quite well. I recall my old mate John Ball becoming the first Plaid Cymru councillor in Swansea when he won Llansamlet back in the early ’70s. I sank many a pint with Phil Henri in the Smiths and the Star. And I think the last time I ever spoke with Viv Davies the FWA veteran was in the Smiths. It all seems a lifetime ago now.
The vacancies in Llansamlet were caused by the departure of Bob and Uta Clay, the Anglo-Austrian Trotskyist duo, of whom I have writ more than once. I shall miss them. But I’m sure Mo Sykes will provide me with inspiration. I can say that because Labour never fails to give me something to write about. Add the Third Sector and it often becomes an embarrassment of riches.
And so we’ve come full circle to Llansamlet. I wonder if, when she’s out canvassing, any local will ask Mo Sykes, ‘What happened to YMCA Wales?’. I’d certainly like to know. Anyone out there with answers is more than welcome to get in touch.
When it comes to grant-grabbers I take the view that they’ll always be with us, as will those, with their Labour Party connections, who think that a ‘career’ in the Third Sector puts them on a par with people who contribute to the economy by creating wealth and jobs. But they should be slapped down not encouraged and patronised.
What really concerns me in the case of YMCA Wales is that a body serving our country was wrecked, almost certainly by people with Labour Party connections, and the debris was then hoovered up by YMCA England without anyone raising a murmur. And this was happening 16 years into devolution. Unfortunately YMCA Wales is no isolated example.
It’s a pattern that sees Wales being integrated with England at a faster rate than we’ve known since the Tudors. It shows itself in countless ways, from the England (andwales) Cricket Board to Dee Valley Water being taken over by Severn Trent. Yet the politicians in our Assembly, which is supposed to be serving Welsh interests, say little and do nothing.
When they do put on a show of ‘doing something’, it often turns out to be the kind of thing I wrote about in the previous post – handing Wales over to the likes of Bear Grylls and Gavin Lee Woodhouse.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, devolution is a chimera; the civil servants who run Wales change a few words in laws that have already been passed in England, add (Wales), and then get the BBC or Trinity Mirror to pretend it’s all the work of a real government. And while we’re being lied to in this way Wales is either being killed off or sold off all around us.
From now on Wales needs people who will not get bogged down debating whether registration of denture makers should be devolved; now that we can see devolution has failed we must reject it, and push for independence. There is no acceptable alternative.
I have it on good authority that the all-conquering Swansea Labour Party is raring to go in May’s council elections. Well oiled, with palms greased and muscles flexed from Clydach High Street to Caswell Bay. Even as you read this leafleting teams – each member carrying a 90kg rucksack – will be training by racing up and down Kilvey Hill. Platitudes are being practised and – should honeyed words fail – brass knuckles polished.
Well, perhaps I exaggerate.
It is at this point I must apologise to whoever sent me interesting information about the line-up for May . . . information I’m afraid I’ve lost, sorry. The problem is that I’m still trying to get straight after my recent computer disaster. But never mind, I shall press on with what I’ve got.
It seems that things are not well for the bruvvers on my home patch, and even worse as we look around the Bay.
First, the Clays, Bob and Uta, have upped sticks and gone. They drifted into town a few years ago, he’s English and a former MP for Sunderland North, she’s Austrian. They were immediately accepted as candidates by the Labour Party, yet they’ve spent their brief time in the city playing left wing politics and plotting against ‘colleagues’, now they’re moving on having done sod all for Swansea, their only contribution being to keep up Labour numbers on the council.
One of those hoping to replace the Clays in the Llansamlet ward is Maureen ‘Mo’ Sykes, who has appeared in this blog afore, due to her connection with the YMCA. See here, here and here.
Like the Clays and so many of the city’s recent Labour councillors Sykes is not native to Swansea or to Wales. But what the hell! Labour is an internationalist party . . . or was until it realised that most Labour voters went for Brexit due to concerns over immigration. So if Labour don’t fall into line, then those voters will switch to Ukip (even if they remain sceptical about Paul Nuttall’s claim to have scored the winning goal in the 1966 World Cup Final).
‘But, surely’ you cry, ‘Plaid Cymru must be strong in Swansea, and putting up a raft of of inspiring candidates?’ I fear not. The last time the Jack electorate was offered credible Plaid candidates with whom they could identify was when me and my mates stood back in the ’60s and ’70s. You want to know why Plaid Cymru is almost invisible in Swansea?
First, there’s the widespread perception that Plaid is a ‘Cardiff party’. In other words, part of the ‘bubble’ that sees Cardiff get a disproportionate share of investment and everything else. This may be felt in other areas, but is more keenly felt in Cardiff’s only rival.
Second, and another reason that the party has difficulty connecting with ordinary people, is because of its obsession with ‘progressive’ politics and other bollocks that makes it hostage to single-issue obsessives and outright charlatans. Here’s an example.
The long saga of Mynydd y Gwair is drawing to a close. A windfarm will soon rise on an unspoilt landscape on the edge of Swansea. Local graziers – all Welsh – will lose out to the German energy company erecting the turbines, and the Duke of Beaufort, who owns the land, much of it acquired in confiscations from Welsh landowners (among them, it is suggested, Owain Glyndŵr). Yet Plaid Cymru has done nothing to help the people of the area.
Plaid Cymru may indeed be ‘the Party of Wales’ but in its pathetic attempt to avoid the ‘narrow nationalist’ slander it refuses to acknowledge the existence of a distinct, Welsh people, promoting instead something called ‘civic nationalism’ which, when used by Plaid Cymru, is just a cop-out.
On Mynydd y Gwair, Plaid’s desperation to avoid the slander, coupled with its support for environmentalist shysters, has led the party to support a German energy company and an English aristocrat against Welsh people.
What sort of a national party is this? Perhaps one for which ‘Wales’ is just a geographical expression.
Plod, Plod, Plodding Along
Before leaving Swansea I must return to the case of Jenny Lee Clarke who, you may remember, was a colleague of Carolyn Harris, now the MP for Swansea East, and claims to have suffered a homophobic assault at the hands of Harris. (An incident that Plaid Cymru, opposed to bullying and homophobia, chose to ignore.)
In what was almost certainly a tit-for-tat move Clarke was accused of stealing money by somehow paying herself more than she was due. I’m not sure when she was initially charged (lost documents again) but I know that she was bailed, and that this initial bail period was extended until November 7th . . . when it was extended again to February 17th . . . now it’s been extended again to May 17th.
If the police have a case then they should take it to court, if they don’t have a case then they should give this poor woman a break and put an end to her worrying. I cannot believe that it takes so long to investigate a single allegation against one woman – it’s not as if we’re dealing with a complicated conspiracy involving offshore accounts used by Russian hackers.
The way the police have treated Jenny Lee Clarke makes them look incompetent. An alternative explanation, seeing as the allegation against Clarke comes from a Labour MP, one against whom she had made a serious allegation, and remembering that the South Wales PCC, Alun Michael, is a former Labour MP, might be that political influence explains this woman’s appalling treatment.
Comrades Lost on the Port Talbot Front
Around the Bay, in Neath Port Talbot, there has been internecine blood-letting on a scale unrecorded since the Peloponnesian War. The ground in Port Talbot is said to be red with the blood of fallen comrades, knives protruding from their backs, with as many as half of the sitting Labour councillors deselected, and perhaps eleven of them planning to stand as Independents in May. This could get really nasty. (Rubs hands gleefully!)
A similar situation is reported from Bridgend council, especially up around Maesteg, and from other areas such as Caerfilli, and Cardiff. It would appear that in some local authority areas ‘Welsh’ Labour is fighting a – largely unreported – civil war.
Hesitantly now, I cross the mighty Llwchwr into Carmarthenshire, but give Sosban a wide berth, for Cneifiwr is doing a grand job there in exposing the manifest shortcomings of the oddballs, dissemblers and grotesques collectively known as Llanelli Labour Party. I shall instead hie me away to Llandovery.
Intelligence reached me that the con trick going by the name of Llandovery YMCA had closed its doors. I call it a con trick because its greatest achievement has been to pull in hundreds of thousands of pounds of public funding to create non-jobs for good-lifers. I suggest you read Ancestral Turf and The Impoverishment of Wales (scroll down to ‘YMCA Wales’). There you will encounter in a previous incarnation ‘Mo’ Sykes, would-be successor to the Clays.
Of more immediate relevance could be that the driving force behind this scam, one Jill Tatman, is being prevented from returning to work by other trustees after a period looking after her ‘sick’ husband. I’m told that her husband is not sick at all, but perhaps keeping his own company while on bail for – it is alleged – offences involving children.
A great deal of public money has been poured into Llandovery YMCA for the benefit of a small group of recent arrivals. Given that the whole project seems to have folded there should now be an investigation of the accounts and the wider running of this good-lifers’ benefit fund.
In my Ancestral Turf post you will see a video featuring Gill Wright who branched out by taking over the old North Western Hotel, near the railway station, to run as the Level Crossing bunkhouse. Public funding was secured, but again, the venture collapsed, after just two years.
The old pile has now been bought again, this time to be run as a commercial venture, with no public funding involved. How know I this? Because the new owners sent a message to the contact box you’ll see in the sidebar.
I get some very interesting messages through my ‘Contact Me Directly’ box. Oh yes.
News from the north, now.
Over the years I’ve dealt with countless examples of the ‘Welsh’ Government blindly throwing money around in the vain hope that this will be mistaken for an economic strategy. As we know, much of this money goes to Labour Party members and hangers-on in the Third Sector; Naz Malik and the family business AWEMA being a classic example.
When it’s not going to Labourites other ways are found to squander public funding, such as showering money on the grant grabbers of Llandovery and their counterparts across the land. I’ve often thought that this group seems to make up for the lack of a Labour presence in rural areas.
For the electoral map tells us that there are fewer opportunities to reward party loyalty when we travel west of Wrecsam and Llanelli, or north of Merthyr. But little outposts of bruvverdom can still be found. One such example would be the patch of Councillor Siôn Wyn Jones in Bethel, a village to the north east of Caernarfon on the B4366.
Now I’m sure that one-time estate agent Siôn is a conscientious councillor working hard for his community, for he never tires of telling people how hard he works and how much money he’s raised for that community. But questions are being asked about his running of the village hall, Neuadd Goffa Bethel.
The revamped Neuadd is a fine asset for Bethel, but questions persist. Such as, why have no accounts or annual returns been filed with the Charity Commission for two years? And why is Siôn Wyn Jones the sole trustee of the Neuadd? Because the Charity Commission recommends at least three trustees. We know young Siôn is multi-talented, but is he serving as chairman, secretary and treasurer?
I’m sure there are simple answers to these questions and equally sure that Siôn Wyn Jones will ensure that everything is soon tickety-boo. For hark! I hear the returning officer call the candidates to the stage.
P.S. I should have mentioned that even though Gwynedd Council is controlled by Plaid Cymru the local funding agency, Mantell Gwynedd, is firmly under Labour Party control. Described to me as a “Labour closed shop”. Which means that even in an area where Labour is weak, ‘loyalty’ can still be bought and rewarded. An interesting insight into how ‘Welsh’ Labour manages to control the purse-strings even in those areas where it is rejected by the electorate.
Those of us who spend too much time on the internet, and especially on sites that deal with Wales, will be familiar with ‘J Jones’, an exceptionally prolific writer whose mission in life seems to be proving that we’d all be eating caviare in the backs of our chauffeur-driven Rollers . . . if only we killed off the Welsh language.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I believe that ‘J Jones’ is our old friend, that son of the Balkans, Jacques Protic. I say that for a number of reasons. To begin with, over the years Protic has used many aliases, he may even have been Bilingo, for what really brings down the red mist for Protic is kids being taught Welsh, or worse, being educated through the medium of Welsh.
A further link is that ‘J Jones’ claims to be living on Ynys Môn, which, by a strange coincidence, is where Jacques Protic lives.
Until quite recently, Protic and ‘J Jones’ seemed to work as a team, appearing on the same blog or website feeding off each other. But we seem to be reading less from Protic nowadays and more from ‘J Jones’, who may be trying to explain the Protic reticence in the comment below, made in December to a Cardiff University blog by Professor Roger Scully.
‘J Jones’ of course shares the Protic obsession with education, to the extent that towards the end of 2015 he even commissioned a survey with YouGov into attitudes to Welsh language education. How much does it cost to have your own survey? How much of an obsessive do you have to be to arrange one? Or is someone else paying?
I suggest that newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites, take rather more care than hitherto when dealing with comments and other contributions from ‘J Jones’, if only because he doesn’t exist.
To finish, a little contribution from another source who tells me that Whitehall mandarins are in a tizzy because they fear May and her Three Brexiteers may be planning to do a runner so as to avoid the €60bn ‘divorce settlement’ and other punitive measures that Johnny Foreigner will seek to impose.
The scenario runs thus: Once the German elections are out of the way at the end of September a spat will be contrived that will see the UK raise two fingers to her erstwhile partners in the EU and walk away without paying anything.
I’m still trying to get my head around this, and figure out how it might impact on Scotland. Surely it would be a gift for the SNP? And what about us?
I’m sure my erudite and imaginative readers will have opinions on this and the other matters raised in this post.
Once upon a time, in a city far, far away, a clergyman came up with the idea of a charity to help those addicted to drugs. This charity has – like so many others! – recently moved to Wales, it now gets lots and lots of funding, and is quickly taking over the Welsh ‘rehabilitation’ racket.
The Kaleidoscope Project is a company and a charity that began life in 1968 in Kingston-upon-Thames, London. In 2013 it relocated to Newport, Gwent, to share premises at Integra House with The South Wales Association For Prevention Of Addiction Ltd. This outfit, usually known as Drugaid, is also a company and a charity and wouldn’t you know it – I wrote about Drugaid in November 2015, read it here.
Even though Drugaid now has a partner to share the load its funding has increased. For if we look at the most recent accounts, for y/e 31.03.2016, we see that income for the year was £6,200,222, against just £2,698,651 for the previous year (page 11). And of that £6m+ total no less than £3,102,866 went on salaries (page 22), with a further £950,363 going on “partner charge salaries” (page 20). Does this refer to Kaleidoscope? Throw in all the other charges and expenses and you have to wonder just how much goes on treating the ‘clients’.
Turning to the 2016 accounts for Kaleidoscope, we find a similar picture. Total income for this Englandandwales operation was £6,855,603 against £4,973,281 for 2015 (page 9). Yet salaries totalled £5,018,767 against £3,561,817 for 2015 (page 17).
As with so many Third Sector bodies we see that seventy or eighty per cent of the income is spent on salaries, wages, pensions, expenses and other staff costs that appear to have little to do with treating drug addiction or alcohol dependency.
Something else you will have noticed is that by adding the figures for Drugaid and Kaleidoscope we see that their combined income almost doubled in a year, going from £7,671,932 in 2015 to £13,055,825 in 2016. Has there been a massive increase in drug addiction or alcohol dependency? I don’t think so. So how do we explain this increase?
One way of explaining it might be through expansion, into Gwent, Dyfed, Powys, the Central Valleys, and The North where Kaleidoscope is working with CAIS, an organisation exhibiting the same pattern of an expanding budget most of which goes on staff costs.
And even though the Kaleidoscope website doesn’t say so, I hear that Kaleidoscope now has an interest in 39 St Mary Street in Cardigan. The mortgage on this property had been held by Cyswllt Contact of Aberystwyth, which finally went belly-up last November (though the mortgage may have been inherited by Drugaid before the final collapse). The link for the Cyswllt website now takes us to this other English outfit.
So since moving to Newport in 2013 Kaleidoscope has been able to pull down many millions in grants and loans from the ‘Welsh’ Government’s civil servants and also from local authorities. It has spread like a rash across the country apart from Swansea and Cardiff. Significantly, Drugaid has no presence in these cities, either.
Somebody’s taking the piss here (and it’s not for urine testing!). An English-based, English staffed, cross-border agency is rapidly expanding in the addiction-dependency-homeless racket, raking in millions in Welsh public funding every year – most of which goes on salaries – yet there appear to be no safeguards in place to ensure that Welsh funding isn’t used in England or that English drug addicts aren’t being imported!
Kaleidoscope’s move into Wales is yet another example of Welsh-based bodies being replaced by English counterparts. Which of course further integrates Wales with England, and further exposes the sham of devolution, and ‘Welsh solutions for Welsh problems’.
Though let me make it clear that I do not believe that our politicians are directly culpable. The problem is at the level of senior civil servant/local government officer and Third Sector management. The former taking their orders from London and the latter believing they must operate in an Englandandwales framework.
Our politicians are guilty for not stepping in to put a stop to these squalid shenanigans.
SWANSEA LABOUR PARTY (always good for a laugh!)
Until May 2012 Swansea council was run by a coalition led by the Liberal Democrats whose leader was Chris Holley. In a campaign of dirty tricks waged by the local bruvvers one tactic was particularly naughty – even for Labour.
It was alleged that secret talks had taken place between the Lib Dem-led coalition and the Tories, with promises of increased spending in Conservative-held wards if an ‘understanding’ could be agreed. The matter was referred to the police, the CPS and the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales. The three councillors named were Holley, his Independent deputy John Hague and Conservative councillor Paxton Hood-Williams.
Nothing came of the inquiries. Read a report here from BBC Wales, and note the curious fact that the original story of October 2011 attributed the referral to the council’s chief executive and that it took four and a half years before the correction was made!
We shall never know how much public money and police time was wasted investigating this spurious allegation, but what the hell, this is how Labour does politics, the cost is irrelevant when pursuing a vendetta.
Now it appears that Labour is doing something very similar to what it falsely accused Holley et al of doing, in that it’s buying votes. I’m told that Labour councillors were instructed some time ago to improve their chances of re-election in May by giving money they’d been allocated for environmental improvements to high-profile local groups. Among the recipients are said to be the street markets in Uplands and Morriston. Should this be investigated?
The deeply divided Swansea Labour Party – which now insists that ward branches report back each and every thought and deed – is also demanding that all candidates in May adhere strictly to Comrade Corbyn’s Ten-Point agenda for Britain and that all new candidates be loyal to Momentum.
Absent from the glittering array to be presented to Swansea’s electors will be John Charles ‘John Boy’ Bayliss. Although he quit the ugly lovely town some time ago John Boy has managed to hang on as an Uplands councillor.
Now he plans to stand in Cardiff and I look forward to reporting on his defeat, after which he might slink back over the border and never trouble us again.
UPDATE 02.02.2017: More information reaches me insisting that a deal was done, a deal that included the coalition offering to support Paxton Hood-Williams’ nomination to chair the council’s Child and Family Overview and Scrutiny Board.
Also, I have received a copy of an e-mail from chief executive Jack Straw to René Kinzett, leader of the Conservative council group at the time, in which Straw clearly says that he is referring the matter to the Ombudsman. We must assume that’s what he did, so why did the BBC make the ‘correction’? Read the e-mail for yourself.
For those wondering about ‘Rocking’ René, this post from April 2013 might help. Thankfully, Kinzett is now long gone from Swansea. Here-today-gone-tomorrow councillors are clearly not the sole preserve of the Labour Party.
It’s a familiar tale. Middle class English people move to a small rural town and wonder how the locals managed without them. They then set about ‘improving’ things and providing ‘services’. Of course, this impulse to serve the inhabitants of one’s adopted home is not unconnected with the ready availability of moolah, and the salaries and pension pots it provides.
While the YMCA seems to be a focal point for these activities there have been other ventures. One worth mentioning would be the bunkhouse, launched in 2013 and bust by 2016. But what the hell, it’s only money, and with the system we have in Wales there’s plenty more where that came from.
But now I hear of something more worrying than just ripping off the public purse.
As you might guess, the YMCA caters for children and young people. Which explains the concerns many involved there have over the husband of one of the leading lights. A man who is said to spend a lot of time ‘hanging about’ the place. For I’m told that this man is currently on police bail accused of sexual offences against children, with his wife away from work on the pretext that he’s unwell and she’s looking after him.
She wants to return, but, for obvious reasons, this is being opposed. To complicate matters, there is a Big Lottery People and Places grant of £500,000 waiting in the wings.
My position is this: there can be no further investment in Llandovery YMCA of any kind and from any quarter while the wife of the alleged paedophile is still involved. There should also be a thorough investigation by those agencies that have hitherto given such unquestioning support: the ‘Welsh’ Government, Mark James Carmarthenshire County Council, and of course the Big Lottery Fund. One question might be, ‘given that he likes hanging about the building has the man in question ever had a DBS check?’
The unacceptable option would be to ignore what’s happening in Llandovery to save embarrassing certain people in positions of authority.
PUBLIC SERVICES OMBUDSMAN WALES
A curious tale has reached me about the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
To cut a long story short, a dispute between neighbours was taken to Cardiff council, and then one of those involved, unhappy with the way the case had been handled by the council, took the matter up with the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales. At which point things took a strange turn.
When he later asked to see the documentation that had passed between the council and the Ombudsman the complainant was informed that this correspondence was “exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act or DPA” (Data Protection Act). Explicitly mentioned in justification for not providing the information requested was Section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (reproduced below).
If we look at part (1), then if (a) or (b) applied it would be easy for the Ombudsman’s office to quote the relevant ‘enactment’ or ‘obligation’. They chose not to. As for (c), there was no court case so I fail to see how contempt of court can be applicable. Which leaves (2), on which you can make up your own minds.
The Ombudsman’s office eventually relented, to the extent that they were prepared to release a single document – but only if the recipient signed a gagging order! Which makes you wonder what secrets could possibly be contained in correspondence between Cardiff council and the Public Services Ombudsman discussing a relatively minor dispute.
My understanding is that information provided under the FoI Act is considered to be in the public domain. It’s reasonable to assume that this does not apply with the Data Protection Act, and that this explains why the correspondence was released under the DPA rather than the FoI Act.
This case raises more questions than answers. Not least, is Nick Bennett the PSO for Wales a law unto himself, above and beyond the control of those who appointed him? Or, given that he was appointed by a Labour government, and Cardiff is a Labour-run council, is this a bit of quid pro quo?
Has anyone reading this had a similar experience? Can anyone offer suggestions on how to challenge this decision?
MAKING USE OF THE FOI ACT 2000 (by ‘Big Gee’)
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides public access to information held by public authorities. More information HERE.
It does this in two ways:
• public authorities are obliged to publish certain information about their activities; and
• members of the public are entitled to request information from public authorities.
The Act covers any recorded information that is held by a public authority in Cymru (Wales), England and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. Information held by Scottish public authorities is covered by Scotland’s own Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Public authorities include government departments, local authorities, the NHS, state schools and police forces. However, the Act (unfortunately) does not necessarily cover every organisation that receives public money. For example, it does not cover some charities that receive grants and certain private sector organisations that perform public functions.
Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings.
Why is this of interest to us?
Obviously, by our very nature, as a blogging site that deals specifically with political and politically associated subject matter in Cymru, we often have a need to prise information from the sources referred to above, who do not necessarily publish or release information that is often of public interest or benefit. Information is power, public bodies retain power by holding on to information, the public gain power by accessing information. The process also holds authorities in check and makes them accountable.
How do we presently make FoI requests?
At present, any individual or body can make a direct request for information by letter or e-mail to the public body they require information from. Alternatively there is a web-site run by a voluntary group called ‘What Do They Know’. That site covers all of the UK, it is only one of it’s kind in the British Isles. This excellent web-site does all the donkey work for anyone who wishes to use it. It has a database that covers thousands of public bodies. Anyone wishing to use it can simply choose the organisation they want information from. The site then allows them to post their request on-line. The request is automatically forwarded to the selected authority. All replies are sent back to the site and are automatically displayed for public viewing. The requester is notified of the reply and is given the opportunity to proceed as they see fit with the request. The site also sets deadlines for replies and offers the opportunity for the requesters to ask for an internal inquiry within the authority they made their request to. The site also allows the requester to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, if the situation requires that action.
The only drawback with the ‘What Do They Know’ site is that it has to deal with requests on various levels, throughout the UK. By virtue of the sheer numbers involved, it does not bore down to all parish/ community levels, especially in Cymru. Although many of those small ‘parish’ authorities do not have e-mail contacts that can be used, so they are generally overlooked. We could help rectify that.
How can we improve on this service In Cymru?
The software that powers the ‘What Do They Know’ site is readily available from Alaveteli. Whilst it takes a considerable amount of technical know-how to set up a FoI site, the ones involved with the Jac o’ the North blog site have that technical expertise.
What we would like to explore is the viability of setting up a ‘sister’ site to the Jac o’ the North blog site. It will hopefully provide a FoI service to the citizens of Cymru. It’s database will contain contact information for FoI departments within authorities and the public bodies that serve Cymru, from Y Senedd (the Welsh Assembly) down to local parish/ community councils, where possible. This will fill the gap not provided by the current ‘What Do They Know’ web-site.
The initial work is the heaviest, which entails not only setting up and customising the proposed site, but the harvesting of information for it’s database. In order to achieve this we need a ‘team’ put together to achieve that very important primary step in the process. When the site is up and running it will require minimal supervision, maintenance and moderation.
All those interested in being involved in this project can either contact the Jac o’ the North’s web-master, or contact Jac directly. We will keep you posted of our progress.
A FoI web-site specifically customised for use within our own country would be a huge boost to the availability of information to the ordinary man and woman across our communities.
After posting my previous piece on colonialism, and using as an example the thwarted biomass plans of Welsh businessman Clive Hughes, I received some very interesting feedback naming Hughes’ nemesis as Robin Andrew Cammish. ‘Who him?’ you demand. Well, make yourself comfortable and settle back for a quite remarkable story.
First of all, read this Llanelli Star report from October 2012 in which Cammish explains how he got involved in the campaign against Clive Hughes’ proposed biomass power station at Coedbach, and how he became chairman of the group opposing the plan. Note that in the second paragraph it says, ” . . . the 58-year-old, who leads global purchasing and supply chain consultancy QP group”. So naturally, I checked up on the QP Group, and found that it had liabilities in excess of assets to the tune of £100,000 when it was struck off in June 2009. Which means that at the time the Llanelli Star piece was written, the QP Group had been defunct for over three years.
Or perhaps the Star meant QP Group (France) Ltd (based in Aldershot!). Or QP ES Group SA of Luxembourg. How about QP Group Sas, with an address in central Paris. Or maybe it’s QP Group Gmbh in Germany. There are even QP companies in the USA and Australia! So take your pick. In fact, Cammish has been involved with over thirty companies, some of which I shall explore below. (Note that the address given for him by Company Check is in Birmingham.)
Maybe I’m being a little unfair to Cammish, it’s so easy to get confused when one has so many companies using the QP name (an abbreviation for quality and performance). Perhaps what he told the Star was that he ran Quality and Performance in Development Ltd (Co. No. 03391150), which seems to be the main vehicle for his business activities and currently enjoys a net worth of £944,053.
Though Quality and Performance in Development Ltd threw up another mystery. Cammish’s address is Llandyri House, between Kidwelly and Trimsaran, but the address given for his main company is Coomb Mansion, Llangynog, a truly ugly nineteenth-century ‘mansion’ that has served as an approved school and a Cheshire home for ex-servicemen. In addition to Robin Cammish the other directors of Quality and Performance in Development Ltd are his partner, Pauline Bowers, and a Craig Thomas Henry Warrington of Wokingham, in Berkshire.
Naturally, I got to wondering who owns Coomb Mansion, so here is the title document. Coomb Mansion was bought by Robin Cammish for £200,000, 06.11.2012. I wonder what plans he has for this grotesque pile? And will he get planning permission? Read on for the likely answer to the second of those questions. (You’ll note that Coomb Mansion is in Cammish’s name alone, whereas Llandyri House is in both his and Bowers’ names.)
Cammish and Warrington have collaborated elsewhere, with Summit House Close Estate Management Ltd, also in Berkshire, Co. No. 08959266, Incorporated 26.03.2014 and apparently sold on 09.10.2014. Incorporated on the same date and from the same address was Summit House Close Flat Management Ltd, Co. No. 08959172. Cammish and Warrington resigned 24.09.2014 when five new directors took over.
Though I find it strange that Warrington is named as a director for both companies but Cammish appears as QPB Ltd, Co. No. 06687464. Seeing as Warrington is a long-serving director of QPB, why is he listed separately; or should the question be, why isn’t Cammish listed under his name, rather than the company’s? QPB was Incorporated 02.09.2008 with a debt of £1.3m, presumably mortgages, paid off with the sale of the two Summit House companies.
We shall return to Robin Cammish’s many companies anon, but for the time being I want to explore how successfully this man has put himself about in his adopted community, how he has found favour with local power-brokers, and how favour and patronage has resulted in some remarkable appointments.
To recap . . . As the Llanelli Star told us, Cammish began to make himself known in Carmarthenshire when he got involved with the protest against Clive Hughes’ plan for a biomass plant in the Gwendraeth valley. Those protesting against this project called themselves the Coedbach Action Team.
Though there was also a company set up, Incorporated 01.08.2008, called Coedbach Action Team Ltd, Co. No. 06662006. The sole director until the company was struck off in December 2014 was Robin Cammish. This company never had any assets and existed only on paper . . . but for what purpose? Was it for legal reasons?
I strongly suggest that you scroll down in this judicial review document from September 2010 to paragraph 18, and paragraph 19, in which we read, “Mr Cammish says that the Claimant (Coedbach Action Team Ltd) does not have the resources to fund its own costs in this judicial review and to pay the costs of an opposing party if it is unsuccessful. That is at odds with a letter sent to the solicitors for the Interested Party (Developer) dated 21 July 2010 in which the Claimant’s solicitor asserted that it did have the funds to pay the costs of successful parties if the claim for judicial review failed.”
Which suggests to me that in order to secure the judicial review Cammish said he / the group had the money needed to meet any costs, but when push came to shove he / the group claimed to be skint. Draw your own conclusions.
In fact, I strongly suggest that you read the document to the end. Essentially, Cammish was told to piss off because a biomass plant at Avonmouth had nothing to do with, and would have no impact upon, a bunch of people living in Carmarthenshire. They seem to have escaped payment of costs due to having formed a private limited company, with Cammish as its sole director. But why were they fighting this project in Bristol anyway?
The biomass plant that made a star out of Cammish was planned for a location not far from Pembrey airport, and only a few miles from Ffos Las racetrack. Now keen watchers of Carmarthenshire County Council will be aware that this area is dear to the heart of Meryl Gravell, Mam to the Independent group on the council, former leader of the council, and right-hand woman to and mouthpiece for the man who runs Carmarthenshire, Mark James, the chief executive.
Which makes this the appropriate time to give some background information about this area and those entertaining grand ideas – who said ‘grandiose’? – for this part of Carmarthenshire.
UPDATE 15.12.2015: I have been directed to a film made for HTV in 2008 featuring both Clive Hughes and Robin Cammish.
Meryl Gravell – who does not appear – is quoted as saying that the area’s economic future lies with “leisure and tourism projects”, which as we know, will provide very few worthwhile jobs for locals, whereas Clive Hughes wants to create jobs for locals.
Cammish, who, it could be argued, has retired to the area, represents a type we find all over rural Wales nowadays. His rural idyll is more important than jobs for those who belong here.
It is alleged that during the filming of this programme Cammish claimed that Hughes owed £18m to his accountants. This was not broadcast.
Her affection for this area means that Meryl Gravell will tolerate nothing jeopardising her grand vision, be the threat a biomass power station, an opencast coal operation or a vast solar energy complex – against all of which Robin Cammish has taken up the cudgels in recent years. Only developments approved of by Meryl Gravell are welcomed, or allowed.
One such enhancement in the pipeline is Robbie Savage’s luxury hotel at Ffos Las, though earlier this year he had to apply for a planning extension, which makes many locals sceptical that it will ever be built. Then there are the executive homes in open country to further improve the Gwendraeth’s cachet. Though quite how either project will benefit locals is matter for conjecture.
For Pembrey airport, there was – and may still be – a plan to turn it into some kind of international duty-free business hub. As it was worded on the airport website until quite recently, Pembrey was “one of the few Airports in the United Kingdom that has 5000 acres of adjoining land available for joint venture with very little planning and environmental constraint”. (Unkind souls might suggest that ‘very little planning and environmental constraint’ could apply to the whole county.)
What’s certain is that by 2011 Cammish had his feet under the table with Meryl Gravell, literally, as this film shows (at 23 minutes in), where we see Cammish discussing with Meryl how Pembrey airport could be improved, and made more profitable. A carefully rehearsed bit of play-acting it may be, but it nevertheless tells us that Cammish was by this stage ‘in’ with those who dispense patronage, funding and planning consent thereabouts.
As was proven a few years later when on 06.09.2013 he was appointed a director of the Scarlets, one of the three vanity projects accepted by the Welsh Rugby Union as ‘regions’. Most people will know that the Scarlets are effectively bankrupt and largely kept afloat by Carmarthenshire County Council writing off debts and doing the Scarlets countless other favours. The most recent figure I can find gives the Scarlets a net worth of £-4,164,241.
Cammish’s appointment to the Scarlets’ Board is quite remarkable. For when we look at who has served as directors we see some great players of the past, Phil Bennett, Derek Quinnell and the late Ray Gravell, these supplemented by local worthies brought up at Stradey Park. By comparison, Cammish, the Englishman who has lived in the area for a few years, and may know nothing about rugby (certainly little about Llanelli), sticks out like a sore thumb. The only explanation is that he was appointed by the council . . . or rather, Meryl Gravell.
Cammish’s appointment to the Scarlets’ board may have been surprising, but what came next was almost unbelievable. Just a year after being imposed on the Scarlets by Meryl, he was appointed chairman of Regional Rugby Wales (RRW), since renamed Pro Rugby Wales, the body representing the Ospreys and the three vanity projects. An incredible promotion for an unknown after just one year at the Scarlets. What possible experience or understanding of Welsh rugby could he possess to qualify him for the RRW job?
UPDATE 23.12.2015: I’m hearing that Robin Cammish has today resigned as chairman of Pro Rugby Wales. Here is his e-mail of resignation.
Note that it was sent just a day after a meeting of Pro Rugby Wales at which it became clear he was being given the old heave-ho. Note in particular the reference to PRW wanting an “independent chairman”. So why wasn’t Cammish considered independent?
Whatever the answer to that, this is good news and it could mark the start of Cammish being exposed for the bullshitter he surely is. But it still leaves the concern that this man is dangerously close to the centre of power in Carmarthenshire. He must be removed.
As a follow up (sic) to the PRW Ltd board meeting on 22nd December 2015, I offer you my resignation as Chairman of Pro Rugby Wales Ltd, and I would propose to make that effective from 7 January 2016, which will enable to me complete some previously arranged meetings associated with the Welsh Rugby cost down and revenue up opportunity analysis.
I fully understand your desire to have an independent chairman of PRW Ltd , and during my short tenure as Chairman I have worked diligently and with complete integrity to ensure that I have acted objectively and impartially in all aspects of the PRW role when discharging my responsibilities and conducting myself on behalf of PRW and the Welsh regions.
It is ironic that having worked hard in the background to identify the collaborative opportunities across the 4 Welsh regions and the WRU, which if implemented, has the potential to deliver £+1million in cost down and revenue up in 2016-7, it is clear from our discussions on 22nd December that I do not have your full support as Chairman of PRW Ltd.
As I’m sure you will understand this position leaves me with no alternative but to offer you my resignation.
I am, and will remain, a very strong advocate and supporter of having 4 strong financially sustainable high performing Welsh regions, and as we discussed on the 22nd, previous management in the WRU created a set of relationships and behaviours which we described more associated with being at war. This is now changing to a much more collaborative environment, which has significant implications for the way that you lead and manage the regions affairs going forward.
Wishing you all the best for Christmas and the New Year
Pro Rugby Wales
What else has Cammish been up to since he first graced us with his presence? Well, for one thing, he joined forces with Julian Ruck, the Welsh-hater who was recently badly injured when hit by a car. They teamed up to run an e-literature festival in 2011 that flopped badly, some suggesting its failure was due to it being held at Ffos Las racecourse, rather than somewhere easier for visitors to reach by train and bus. But then, by 2011, Cammish was best buddies with Meryl Gravell, and Ffos Las is her baby, to be nourished with all manner of bookings. Or it could have been the combination of Ruck and Cammish that ensured local attendance was zero. Among those booked to perform at this disaster were the Three Welsh Tenors.
Read Ruck’s response to the Tenors when they asked to be paid. He came out with one anti-Welsh barb after another, ‘. . . bastions of Welsh language birdsong . . . my insistence on the reduction of Welsh language songs . . . Welsh hymns and nationalist rugby songs . . . one of them is a North Walian (sic) . . . go and sing for your money . . . rugby ditties . . . a tenner for each of you. A tenner for a tenor!’ What an odious little rucker he is, easy to understand why he’s banned from his local Spar store.
I wonder if Robin Cammish found this anti-Welsh diatribe funny, did they perhaps share a chortle or two? Whether he laughed or not, for a man trying to ingratiate himself with his new Welsh neighbours Cammish made a serious misjudgement by getting mixed up with the odious Jools. Though if you hurry you can buy some of his books through Amazon for . . . a penny! (Postage £2.80.) What am I saying! There’s no need to hurry at all, they’ll still be there in 2025.
When he’s not consorting with yet another Labour Welsh-hater Cammish gets himself into scrapes, either through indiscretion or else an overweening desire to promote himself. Here are a couple of examples of the latter.
The first comes from 2000 and an article entitled ‘Man on a Mission’, to be found on a site called Supply Management. It’s such a shameless puff that it could only have been written by Cammish himself. As he modestly puts it when talking of how his company has grown, “The site is the second that the consultancy has occupied. The first quickly became too small, not long after Cammish set up the company as a one-man band five years ago. He quickly found that he needed to take on more consultants and since then the firm has doubled in size every nine months or so. It now has offices in four other countries – the US, France, Germany and Australia – and employs more than 100 consultants. It’s long list of clients includes Viagra-producer Pfitzer, Cable and Wireless, Cathay Pacific, Caterpillar, BT, Carlsberg and Glaxo Wellcome.” He employs more than “100 consultants”!
I hate to sound pedantic, but the name of the massive pharmaceutical company is Pfizer, not Pfitzer as Cammish spells it. You think he’d know the name of the company that is one of his “doubling in size every nine months or so” empire’s major clients.
Here’s another OTT self-encomium from the QP Group UK website. This website is current because if you click on the History tab you’ll find, “In 2014, we partnered with Procurement Academy to provide a world-class blended learning Procurement offering to the market.” Very impressive, until you remember that the QP Group Ltd, of Llanydri House, Llanydri, Kidwelly, was struck off in June 2009 with a net worth of £-100,000. So why is the website still being updated as if QP Group UK was a going concern? Is this another example of the ‘confusion’ arising from having so many companies sharing the QP element in their names?
Read the two puffs together and just look at the companies he claims to have worked for or ‘advised’, they are some of the biggest companies in the world, which is no more than we should expect from Cammish. On the QP Group UK website go to Training > Overview and scroll down to the ‘Testimonials’. Do you believe those are genuine testimonials?
As for his indiscretions, these seem to be spawned by the same devil, Ego, that takes control when he attempts to write anything about himself. He has to exaggerate his own importance, his contacts, what he knows. After the famous dialogue with Meryl at Pembrey International it is rumoured that he was describing himself as an ‘advisor’ to the council, and Mark James had to put the record straight.
Then, before a London audience, he accused Clive Hughes of using bribery to promote his biomass project. What’s more, he claimed to have been told this by “the council”. Unfortunately all this was recorded, and while Cammish himself refused to say any more, Mark James, Carmarthenshire’s chief executive, was forced to issue a statement, part of which said, “I am perturbed to hear what Mr Cammish says. I am not aware that the council has made any such comments to Mr Cammish. As you are aware, Mr Cammish does not work for the council and I am therefore not in a position to control or question what he might say.”
I find it intriguing that Mark James says, “As you are aware, Mr Cammish does not work for the council”. ‘As you are aware!’ Does this refer to the previous such statement I suggested above? Even though Robin Cammish may not have been on the county payroll, there’s no question that he was close to Meryl Gravell and, according to one well-connected source, “had the run of County Hall”.
Ironically, it was Cammish who took legal action against Hughes, alleging that the Welsh businessman had suggested Cammish’s business record was less than spotless. (Surely not!) Cammish won, but I’m told Clive Hughes is refusing to pay.
Another avenue explored, perhaps with the encouragement of La Gravell, was the Kidwelly Heritage Trust, Charity Number 1153260, formed by Robin Cammish 15.08.2011. When I read what this lot planned to do – take over the Town Hall (owned by the County Council) and turn it into ‘community space’ – it was like deja vu all over again. This piece from the Llanelli Star (August, 2013) shows the Trust members standing a respectful distance behind Cammish while in the blurb the man himself mentions what has been done in Llandovery as one of his inspirations.
What happened in Llandovery was that a bunch of English drifters saw the chance to pull in hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money (including salaries and pensions for themselves) to create ‘community space’ not for locals but for them and their friends to hang out drinking Fair Trade coffee, swapping tales of Kathmandu while listening to Joni Mitchell and planning the next organic Morris dancing festival. Scams like this are happening all over Wales. I wrote about the Llandovery racket in The Impoverishment of Wales 26.08.2014 (scroll down to ‘YMCA Wales’), and more fully in Ancestral Turf 02.09.2014.
I’m reasonably certain that this was the path Cammish intended to follow – he was certainly looking for funding – but then came the call from Parc y Scarlets, soon followed by promotion to Regional Rugby Wales. Cammish jacked in the Kidwelly Heritage Trust Ltd in April 2015. The company, No 07741052, struggles along with just two directors and £40 in the bank.
Let us return now to Robin Cammish the businessman. As I said earlier, he has been involved with over thirty companies. Most of these have been liquidated, struck off, dissolved, often with big debts. None more so than the company I mentioned earlier, the one referred to in the screen capture, Hacer Consulting Ltd.
In my years of blogging – and indeed in the years before I started blogging – I have made many enquiries into assorted individuals’ business dealings, some of these individuals have been absolute rogues, but never have I come across a company like Hacer, that started life in 2003 with a net worth of £-762,000, then rose to the giddy heights of a net worth of £6,521,00 in 2005, before plunging to a net worth of £-18,651.00 in 2006. Hacer was struck-off in June 2009 with a net worth of £-18,643,595. (See panel below, click to enlarge.)
As you might expect, I paid for and downloaded the accounts for Hacer, and for the period when the company’s fortunes deteriorated by £25m, leaving the company valued at £-18.6m. You’ll find the accounts here. It seems to have been a company with no assets, a company that just shuffled shares around. I would appreciate feedback. An incomplete list of the companies he has been involved with can be found here. Check them out for yourself.
The only companies listed with Company Check as active are: Earls Removals Ltd, Pro Rugby Wales Ltd, QPB Ltd and Quality and Performance in Development Ltd. Of these, the only company that is his, and worth anything, is Quality and Performance in Development Ltd. Here are the abbreviated and unaudited accounts up to September 2014. They tell us that the ‘assets’ of Cammish’s sole viable company are made up of debts. In other words, debts that were either bought or inherited and will probably never be paid. But in the crazy world of UK business these count as ‘assets’ and can be used to misrepresent the financial health of a company
UPDATE 04.12.2015: QPB Ltd is being wound up. “First notification of strike-off action in London Gazette (Section 652)” on 12.11.2015. Which leaves Cammish with just two companies. The removals firm in Brum and Quality and Performance in Development Ltd, a company whose ‘assets’ are made up of debts unlikely to ever be paid.
Other than that, what have we learnt about Robert Cammish? I could be generous and dismiss him as a bullshitter, because he certainly is a bullshitter, but there might be more to him than that.
I don’t entirely agree with Clive Hughes that Cammish having so many failed companies to his (and his partner, Pauline Bowers’) name is in itself damning, but this pattern might suggest a ‘business’ that most people would find unpalatable.
The value of Cammish’s companies seem to consist largely of share issues and debts; nothing is produced and there is little to show in the way of assets. He advertises himself as someone who ‘advises’ other companies, he even lists blue chip multinationals like Cathay Pacific, SmithKline Beecham, you can believe that or not, but what does he really do?
When I asked someone more au fait with such matters to look into Cammish’s affairs his description of Cammish’s activities involved the use of a large, scavenging bird. Alternatively, a woman paid to disrobe in public.
Whatever the truth of that suggestion, I am perhaps more concerned with Cammish’s relationship with Carmarthenshire County Council. I think we have established that he came to the attention of then council leader Meryl Gravell through his opposition to Clive Hughes’ biomass project for Coedbach. Cammish then further endeared himself to Meryl by opposing other unwanted developments. Was there a quid pro quo?
What did Cammish get in return for acting as Meryl’s rottweiler when she pointed him at anything threatening to sully her vision for the Gwendraeth? I think we can assume that the appointment to the board of the Scarlets was one ‘biscuit’. Maybe Meryl even believed Cammish’s bullshit and thought he might be able to staunch the flow of money out the gates of Parc y Scarlets.
Then there’s Coomb Mansion. No sane person would have bought that Hammer House of Horror, and taken on the expense of maintenance and upkeep, without clear promises of planning permission, clearance for change of use, and who knows what else. It will be interesting to see what Cammish does with Coomb Mansion.
Then there’s the film I linked to, that excruciatingly staged ‘discussion’ between Meryl and Cammish at Pembrey International Airport. Cammish was claiming at that time to be an ‘advisor’ to the council, he is said to have “had the run of County Hall”, he was recorded in London saying that he had been told by the council that Clive Hughes was bribing people in order to facilitate his biomass project.
All this tells me that Carmarthenshire County Council, or certainly, Meryl Gravell, fell for Cammish’s shameless self-promotion and the fanciful stories of his glittering business record. Given that she is the chief executive’s representative on earth how much confidential council business has she involved Cammish in? How many council decisions has Cammish influenced? What is his relationship today with the Council?
And yet, there is something so quintessentially Carmarthenshire about this story. A smooth-talking stranger turns up, no one knows anything about him – so they accept what he tells them about himself! – and before you know it he’s got the key to County Hall, and those running the council are hanging on his every word! Sod background checks! Ignore probity! Bugger democracy!
There must come a point when even the size of Mark James’ redundancy package is no longer a deterrent to the ‘Welsh’ Government taking Carmarthenshire County Council into special measures. God knows they’ve done it with less cause in other areas.
In the direct male line my great-grandfather was a David Jones of Meidrim, a small village encountered a few miles after heading north out of Sanclêr to start climbing the ridge after which you drop down into the valley of the Teifi. Young Dai went up to Swansea around 1880 and there met another recent arrival from the west, Madelaine Jones of Cei Newydd; they married and had nine children. It might have been more had Madelaine not been eleven years older than Dai. And of course, for me, growing up in Swansea, Carmarthenshire was just across the Llwchwr. Oft-times as a youth did I stand on the east bank of that mighty stream and gaze longingly over to the land of my ancestors. Well, no, I made that bit up.
I mention this to explain that I have these, and other, connections with Sir Gâr, so I feel entitled to comment on a picture emerging that tells of money being showered around to provide services that are either unneeded (known in Third Sector terminology as ‘Money for old rope’) or else for services that could be provided more efficiently by the public or the private sector (known as ‘Third-rate, Third Sector’).
Lest anyone is in any doubt about exactly what the Third Sector is, let me explain. It is called the ‘Third Sector’ because it is neither the private sector (business / private enterprise), nor is the public sector (government departments, local government, etc). It is, as the name suggests, a third way of doing things, a third option for delivering a service. There has always been a Third Sector of organisations, mainly charities, relying on donations, legacies or whatever to continue with their work. This is fine, and commendable; which of us would refuse to put our hand in our pocket for the NSPCC, RNLI, Barnardo’s, RSPCA, Oxfam, and a host of other bodies that do bloody good work.
Yet in recent decades the Third Sector has grown, and changed in other ways, due partly to government cut-backs on public spending and partly due to a policy of stripping responsibilities from local government. These imperatives have had a number of consequences. Mainly that money being thrown around by central or local government inevitably attracts shysters. While for the public, the result is that the services on which they had previously relied are now of inferior quality and often totally unreliable. There are two other factors involved in Third Sector funding that should worry anyone who sees the dangers in political patronage or wants a secular society. For many of the recipients of public – usually EU – funding have links to the Labour Party; and too many of those being funded to provide services to the vulnerable belong to fundamentalist religious outfits, such as the Towy Community Church; or else are real oddballs who shouldn’t be given a penny, and even without funding, should be warned off any involvement with those who need professional help. (I shall give an example of one these later.)
Apart from my ancestral connection, the reason I’m focusing on Sir Gâr is because it seems to be providing a perfect environment for everything that can go wrong with the Third Sector in Wales to go wrong. Helping to create that environment is a highly dysfunctional council ruled by a vindictive chief executive who, with the help of a few senior officers (plus highly-paid external lawyers) and a clutch of top councillors, has turned the county into a banana republic. As we know, a banana republic encourages all manner of skulduggery. I have written about the county in the recent past, but it’s always worth returning to Sir Gâr.
In my previous post I reported strange goings-on at Llandovery YMCA, after which I was directed to a couple of videos on YouTube. The first of those videos can be found below (or here on YouTube), it gives an idea of what the money is spent on in Sir Gâr. The funding in this video comes from the county’s Rural Development Plan.
The first interviewee is one Tom Duxbury, who teaches “traditional rural skills”. Duxbury is of course English. Next up are Gill Wright and Jane Ryall who run a ‘community company’ offering bunkhouse bed and breakfast. Both are, again, English. The next double act is Jill Tatman (of Llandovery YMCA, mentioned in my previous post) and Lee Mattocks, who have expanded the local YMCA into yet another ‘community enterprise’. I shouldn’t need to tell you that both are English.
In fact, Jill Tatman has done very well out of the public purse. She bought the Grade II listed building known as ‘Windermere House’ on Stone Street in Llandovery . . . and what do think happened then, children? – that’s right! it was refurbished for her using some of the £2.78m allocated to the Llandovery and Llangadog Townscape and Heritage Scheme. Nor must we forget that her little empire is housed in the old YMCA building. The YMCA had pootered along in Llandovery for many years, but then Tatman took over, and began using the good name of the YM to access lots of funding to provide her with a salary and a very, very generous pension pot (even though she’s already well past retirement age!). Her ‘partner in crime’ (figuratively speaking of course), was Mo Sykes, now missing as recent shenanigans at YMCA Wales are covered up investigated. This is one old bird who knows how to milk the system! I wonder what she did before she decided to bless us with her presence?
This next video (available here on YouTube), features Gill Wright, again, telling us about the wonders of the Llandovery Heritage Centre – Business Hub. Assisted this time by Emily Davies – who is Welsh! So Emily may be working for the funding programme. (Clock Wright’s face when Davies is speaking at 1:48: ‘Look, Hermione – I’m with a native!’) The building is a ‘community venture’, offering copying facilities and laminating machines, “meeting space” and other facilities the good folk of Llanymddyfri cannot do without. At 1:53 the video shows what perhaps we are expected to believe are two young entrepreneurs planning their next venture . . . though the one on the left looks suspiciously like Glyn Jones, a Rural Community Inclusion Development Officer, it may even be the back of Glyn’s head we see at 1:32. All in all the Heritage Centre – Business Hub is quite an impressive set-up, which has obviously cost a few quid . . . yet Wright suggests at 2:46 that the process “may have upset a few local people”; but that’s all behind her now as she looks for more funding, for yet bigger premises, in a town of less than three thousand people!
These first two videos share a few features worthy of comment. First – and believe me, for I know of what I speak – one of the keys to unlocking grant funding is to argue that you’re providing a service or facilities for the public at large, the correct button to push being ‘community’. Second, Wright and Tatman are both past retirement age. Without I hope sounding ageist – being a pensioner myself – shouldn’t this funding be better directed than by supplementing the pensions of a couple of memsahibs? Though I suppose this might explain the presence of younger ‘assistants’.
The third video – in which we see Glyn Jones playing himself – tells of the work being done by the Llandovery Job Club. (Available here on YouTube.) In addition to Glyn we shall meet a couple of other people we’ve met already. At 1:27 it’s Jill Tatman, and at 3:47 Lee Mattocks. Then at 4:40 we meet a new face in Dan Morin who, with his wife, “left London about a year ago”. At 5:24 we meet Mrs Alannah Morin who tells us they “wanted to leave London because we were tired of the rat race”. This is the sort of thing one hears from City brokers buying million pound properties on the Pembrokeshire coast . . . but one is unlikely to find such people in the local job club. So why did a black couple from London move to a small Welsh town with no job waiting for them? I can’t help thinking there’s a story here we aren’t being told.
It is obvious that what we have here is an over-generous and misdirected funding programme simply throwing money around willy-nilly. Money is being used to provide ‘facilities’ for communities that were blissfully unaware of their deprivation until the people you’ve seen in these videos sniffed out the oodles of funding on offer. Interestingly, the ‘facilities’ are run by English people, used by English people . . . with Welsh involvement limited to providing the funding.
Something I found significant was the use of the Welsh language to disguise what is really happening. Not a lot different to bilingual signage in Tesco Porthmadog to hide the fact that the staff employed in the store are overwhelmingly English. Or the Planning Inspectorate having a Welsh language version of its website. We see it everywhere: the cosmetic ‘victories’ of language campaigners bring us to the point where the Welsh language is used to deflect criticism from programmes that will destroy it. How weird is that?
What we’ve seen here is not unique to Sir Gâr, it’s happening all over Wales. Money is being squandered on unnecessary projects, given to amateurs whose only real talents are the ability to complete an application form and know what ‘buttons’ need to be pressed to access the funding. There are Welsh kids growing in some areas who think that only the English are allowed to run certain things. This is not by accident.
Staying in Sir Gâr, I’m now going to look at (takes deep breath) Ymddiriedolaeth Atgyfnerthu Treftadaeth Sir Gâr. In translation, and general usage, Carmarthenshire Heritage Regeneration Trust; but the official name, with both Companies House and the Charity Commission is the Welsh name. Which might make it difficult for anyone unfamiliar with the Welsh name to track down details. Perhaps another example of the Welsh language being used insincerely, to deflect criticism and deter investigation. (On the right you’ll find the front pages from both Companies House and the Charity Commission. Click to enlarge.)
For the sake of brevity I shall henceforth refer to CHRT, which is classified, by Companies House, as a private company limited by guarantee with no share capital and exempt from using ‘Ltd’. There are three curious features that (with the invaluable help of BD) I have explored and would now like to bring to your attention.
First, in addition to the company and the charity there is a third entity, CHRT Ventures Ltd, Company Number 06820763, Incorporated on February 16th 2009, which is also a private company limited by guarantee with no share capital. As for what it does, the Companies House website can only say, “Other information service activities not elsewhere classified”, which could mean just about anything, though it would appear to be a trading arm of the Trust, a regular enough arrangement, but it appears not to fulfil that role too well. For the most recent figures I can find, for the year ended March 31, 2013, show that CHRT Ventures Ltd had assets of £13,985 but liabilities of £37,311.
The next curiosity is the salary arrangements of the CEO, Claire Deacon, whose Linkedin front page can be found on the left (click to enlarge). I say that because Ms Deacon has been employed by CRHT as a consultant while also employed as CEO. On page 29 of the most recent accounts (click here) we are told that, “During the year, Ymddiriedolaeth Atgyfnerthu Treftadaeath Sir Gar (CHRT) employed the services of Ms Claire Deacon, CEO, a historic building consultant. The total expenses paid by CHRT for consultancy was £59,159 (2012: £41,873). At the year end, CHRT owed Ms Claire Deacon £9,436 (2012: £3,386). This balance is included in trade creditors”. This probably explains why employees’ remunerations in 2012 amounted to £175,355, but fell to £152,117 in 2013 for the same number of staff. Yet Ms Deacon was paid considerably more in consultancy fees than the £23,238 ‘saving’ in salaries between the figures for 2012 and 2013.
Is this standard practice, that a CEO can boost his or her income by also acting as a consultant to the organisation that employs her? How is it done? Did Ms Deacon say, ‘If you want me to do this work, then you’ll jolly well have to employ me as a consultant – and that will cost you a lot more than my CEO’s salary’. But if a consultant was needed – and seeing as we are dealing here with public funding – was the opportunity advertised, put out to tender, or was it all stitched up in-house? I really would like to know how these things are done.
The third and final curiosity will be found if you look at the Charity Commission website image, where you’ll see that under ‘Where it Operates’, it says, ‘Throughout Wales’, which sounds a bit ambitious for a relatively small local charity in Sir Gâr. Or perhaps not. For if we return to the latest accounts, and go to page 5, you will find this under the heading, ‘YMCA, Merthyr Tydfil’ “This project has continued to develop with funds being secured for project development and the purchase of the building, a price having been agreed with the owner. The Trust is working closely with the Local Authority and other key funding partners including HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) and Welsh Assembly Government. It is proposed that the purchase will proceed once key triggers have been secured, these including confirmation of offers of funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and the local Merthyr Tydfil Townscape Heritage Initiative for the first phase of works and a business plan”. Note how everything seems to be planned out without funding confirmed. Is this a tactic to pressure the funders? Anyway, why is the Carmarthenshire Heritage Regeneration Trust buying the YMCA building in Merthyr?
The suggestion made in the report I just linked to is that the building will be used as a “teaching facility with some office space available”. (Yet more ‘community’ flim-flam.) A project that Ms Deacon estimates will cost £5m. Clearly, CHRT is branching out, in more ways than one. More millions of public funding will be spent to . . . well, to do what, exactly? Given what I’ve set out here, and hundreds of other examples I could have used from across Wales, we be can be reasonably certain that few benefits will accrue to the local people. The beneficiaries of al this funding will be Claire Deacon – who might even act as her own consultant on the project! – plus more shysters like those we met in Llanymddyfri.
And once again, there is a YMCA building involved. I have heard many strange things lately about YMCA Wales and its relationship with local branches, how the latter have been taken over, exploited, even wrecked. There is a post here, which I hope will be written by someone who understands the picture far better than I.
Wales is the poorest country in western Europe (possibly all of Europe). Because of our poverty we qualify for large amounts of funding to relieve that poverty and the associated deprivation. But instead of using the money for the purposes for which it has been given, the civil servants who run Wales on behalf of London, and their soul-mates at a more local level, have dreamt up cunning plans to kill a number of feathered creatures with but one projectile.
By diverting funding to the likes of the grant-grabbers dealt with here those disbursing the money can claim that services and facilities previously provided by your local authority and other agencies are still there, but now provided by the likes of Gill Wright and Jill Tatman, so nothing’s really changed. If your local library’s been closed down and you can’t access a computer, don’t worry, go along to the local ‘business hub’ and put up with the whinnying of those you’ll find there. But you’ll be expected to forget that the library would also have had books, and employed locals. Need a nursery school? Don’t worry! Drop little Harry into the local Pentevangelic church. When you pick him up he’ll be folding Ukip leaflets and damning ‘sodomites’.
In my opening paragraph I promised to introduce you to a real oddball, so welcome to the Olive Trust (or ‘Creoso’, as the website puts it), based in Swansea but also, apparently, operating in Carmarthenshire, and with strong Labour connections. The woman running this scam is Denise Kingsley-Acton . . . did I hear someone ask if she’s English? (As a matter of fact she is.) I had a little spat with this woman towards the end of 2012, she claimed she’d reported me to the police (a bit like WalesEye), that she’d worked for MI5, all sorts of nonsense. The woman is clearly in need of help herself, but that didn’t stop the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) considering an application from her in 2010 for a cool one million pounds. (See right, click to enlarge.) Of its type, this is a gem, I urge you to read it. The money was to be used, predictably, “to regenerate a building for community use”.
So if you’re thinking of getting in on this racket yourself, then here’s the secret: find an old building, get a grant to buy it, then apply for other grants to turn it into a ‘community’ building. Nobody will worry if the scheme fails, for this is just an exercise in giving out money and ticking the right boxes on forms nobody will really check. Plus, failed schemes are black marks against those who gave out the funding – politicians and bureaucrats – so everyone has a vested interest in pretending that these projects all deliver. And of course, you and your little clique will rake it in.
If the assorted funding programmes continue in this way then, in a few years time, every village and small town in Wales will have three or four buildings ‘regenerated for community use’, or some other ‘facility’ that isn’t really needed. They’ll all be run by English people, for the benefit of other English people, and hundreds of millions of EU funding will have been used to subsidise the colonisation of Wales.
The more I learn about how Wales is administered the more I realise that it is not run in the interests of the Welsh. Whether it’s social housing, grant funding, top jobs, higher education, the more you dig the more it’s brought home to you that Wales is a colonial possession of England, organised along worryingly discriminatory lines. All of which makes devolution a charade, and exposes the ‘Welsh’ Government to be nothing but a sad bunch of clowns and puppets dancing to London’s tune. Those in other parties who dream of replacing Labour as ‘the Government’ would do no better.
Here are some examples to explain what I mean.
The contract for the daily air service from Valley on Anglesey to Cardiff is up for re-negotiation. The service is usually – though perhaps unfairly – known as ‘Ieuan Air’, after the former Plaid Cymru leader and Deputy First Minister in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition (2007 – 2011), who was AM for the island and a regular user of the service. The wider issue is covered here in his usual exemplary way by Owen Donovan on Oggy Bloggy Ogwr. You’ll see that Owen tells us, “The marketing and ticket booking services are provided by Manx company, Citywing, while the air service itself is provided by Links Air, based on Humberside”, and this aspect is what I shall focus on.
First, Citywing. In fairness, Citywing offers a full Welsh language version of its website, though seeing as it operates just one route within or from Wales this might worry some, who might wonder if this company has any other business. As Citywing is registered in the Isle of Man it’s not easy to get information on the company, which seems to have been founded as recently as November 22, 2012, when MD David Buck staged a management buy-out of the company, previously known as Manx2. A name change was possibly necessitated by Manx2 being involved in a crash at Cork airport on February 10, 2011 in which five people died. It seems that Citywing merely sells seats on “flights operated under charter from Van Air Europe and Links Air“.
My knowledge of this business is minimal, but it seems that we are very much down at the bottom end of the market, a kind of sub-Ryanair operation flying to and from Blackpool, Gloucester and other less-in-demand destinations in 19-seater planes because stricter legislation may come into force if more passengers are carried. The planes involved may be owned by the Czech company Van Air Europe and leased to Links Air with Citywing flogging tickets. Who knows? There’s so much leasing and sub-leasing going on in this game I’m surprised Nathan Gill and his gang aren’t involved, especially as Links Air is based just across the Humber from Hull.
Linksair Ltd is run by Jonathan Gordon Roy Ibbotson and his wife. It is one of three companies still trading out of a large number of companies with which 51-year-old Ibbotson has been involved. Some have failed owing money, and of the three still extant one, Linksair Properties Ltd, was only formed in July, and the other, Hangar 9 Ltd has (apparently) nothing to do with aviation, being involved in property letting, with a few outstanding mortgages to its name, and may even be Roissy Aircraft Management Ltd (another of Ibbotson’s companies) after a name change. To confuse the picture further, Ibbotson has run two companies called Hangar 9 Ltd!
Ibbotson obviously has an ‘interesting’ business career, so interesting that I would be loath to hand him a penny of Welsh public funding; and was there no company in Wales that could pretend to be an airline and sell a few tickets? Whether there was or not is academic, for this Anglesey – Cardiff air service has outlived whatever usefulness it might once have had, and seeing as most of the passengers have their fares paid for out of public funds it was never a viable commercial proposition. So scrap it. And if the ‘Welsh’ Government is serious about internal communications, that fare-paying passengers will use, that will create jobs within Wales, then start backing the re-opening of the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway link, as the first stage in a full west coast line.
In this first example we see millions of pounds of Welsh public funding being given to English companies for a service Wales doesn’t need. This money could obviously be better spent.
UPDATE 21.10.2015: LinksAir, the company operating the Anglesey – Cardiff service, has had its safety licence revoked by the Civil Aviation Authority. The ‘Welsh’ Government insists a new operator has already been found, said to be Danish company North Flying. The service receives a subsidy from the ‘Welsh’ Government of £1.2m a year, even though passenger numbers have dropped from 14,718 in 2008-09 to just 8,406 in 2012-13.
CARTREFI CYMUNEDOL GWYNEDD & LOVELL
When the humour is on me I turn to a longer-term project of mine, a post examining the colonisation of rural Wales; how it’s being achieved, and what steps need to be taken to curb it. One thing that quickly became clear is how little was done at governmental level to replace the jobs lost over recent decades in agriculture (including creameries, abattoirs, etc), quarrying, forestry, utilities, nationalised industries and local government. These losses were disguised by propaganda arguing that tourism would provide jobs for everyone. This decline in the numbers of ‘real’ jobs needed by adult Welsh males resulted in the predictable reduction in the Welsh population . . . which has then been disguised by the English immigration encouraged by tourism.
Here I want to look specifically at local government, or rather, a successor body. In 2010 Gwynedd’s council housing stock was transferred to Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, and now the housing maintenance that would previously have been done by the council’s own workforce and local sub-contractors is done by a major English company called Lovell. Gwynedd is covered from Lovell’s North West and North Wales regional offices in Altrincham, Cheshire and Birkenhead, Merseyside. The south is covered from the ‘Midlands, South Wales and Southern’ regional offices in Birmingham, Cardiff and Hampshire. Which means it’s reasonable to assume that other Welsh local authorities and housing associations have become partners with Lovell. How many I wonder? I should mention that Lovell is also in the business of building new properties.
Here we are, fifteen years into devolution, and yet this major company still carves up our homeland and attaches the dismembered parts to English regions in the traditional, contemptuous manner of English business and administration. Lovell then compounds the insult by handing out its contracts to other English companies; contracts that in many cases are too big for smaller Welsh companies to apply for. In fact, when you read more about it, it looks as if the ‘partnership’ system is designed to exclude smaller firms. And when you see a photo such as the one I’ve used here (taken from the Lovell website) you can’t help wondering if there might not be a cartel of large English companies at work deliberately excluding smaller, more local companies.
Anyone can see the advantage for Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd in giving out a single contract for maintaining all its properties and then letting Lovell get on with it, but this is a very short-sighted policy. I have seen Lovell and their sub-contractors at work in this village. Working four-hour days due to travelling times from their English bases – and therefore taking twice as long to do the job! Does this system make sense on any level other than the convenience of the suits at CCG: employment is lost, money leaves the area, and jobs take longer to complete than if local companies were employed!
A system so ludicrous, so indefensible, can only arouse suspicion that someone at Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd, or higher up the food chain, is in receipt of certain ‘inducements’.
This example shows money raised by a ‘Welsh’ organisation – from CCG’s Welsh tenants and the ‘Welsh’ Government – given to English companies to put Welsh companies out of business and Welsh workers out of jobs. Can you imagine such a system operating anywhere else on earth!
When I learnt of Ms Sykes’ departure I put out a couple of tweets, and I’m pleased to say that I had some responses. Here’s one anonymous response, as I received it:
Mo Sykes selling assets and cashing investments to pay off YMCAW overdrafts and debts.
Sykes spearheading campaign to build and sell at Penrhyndeudraeth without proper discussion at board level. (See last year’s posts.)
Took control of Port Talbot YMCA without board approval and proceeded to empty it’s bank account to “repay” a non existent loan to the national body.
Local branches of YMCA not linked to the national body in any way other than name. Receive no finance or any other support from Mo Sykes or her cronies.
Local branches struggling to survive whilst Sykes takes her newborn child and nanny on ‘fact finding’ mission to USA.
Some Trustees pleaded with charity commission to step in when militant Mo would not recognise concerns of trustees and was acting without authority. (This was two years ago, so why didn’t the ‘Welsh’ Government intervene at this stage, rather than allowing things to further deteriorate?)
Chairman after chairman turns blind eye to numerous attempts by group of determined trustees for transparency.
Many trustees resign after being shouted down by CEO and chairman Peter Landers for refusing to sign off on annual accounts moments prior to AGM commencing. (Landers is elsewhere described as ” . . . head of Newport YMCA . . . a loud, scruffy man . . . counting the days to his retirement . . . “)
Many whistle-blowers are crushed and humiliated by Sykes for seeking the truth. One hounded from post within YMCA and then pursued and punished through a new employer.
Hopefully, now, the truth will out and local branches will get the support so desperately needed from Welsh Government.
Another response was equally revealing, and disturbing:
“For 20 years the Llandovery YMCA was functioning as a small charity with less than £10,000 annual income, mainly from camping trips, bible study, after school fees and renting out the meeting room. Then in 2011 it’s annual turnover suddenly rocketed to over £100,000 with an innovative food box programme. This was an emergency relief project to stem the little known Llanymddyfri famine. Over 200 relief boxes per month (food and nappies) were distributed, and according to their annual report, which was generously supplied by the Kings Church in Newport under a scheme headlined as ‘Jesus Cares’.
The new venture was kicked off in 2011 with a grant of £44,000 from Carmarthenshire County Council and Llandovery YMCA saw a jump from zero to two staff being employed, incurring a cost of £23,000 in salaries. In 2012 there was a further consolidation with a cash injection of £103,000 from the Big Lottery. Only a part of this was spent on refurbishment of the premises as a tidy £25,000 cash payment was made to a trustee, Ms Jill Adeline Tatman, who, incidentally, is also on the payroll. The number of staff by the end of 2013, was four, with, by now, £50,000 going out of the payroll, and an annual pension due of exactly £3,500 annually.
Then in 2013 it landed an additional £16,000 Rural Community Inclusion Grant thanks to the work of a projects officer, also employed by Carmarthenshire County Council. The cash really started creaming in and in 2014, Llandovery YMCA landed a further £250,000 grant from the People and Places Lottery Fund, for a “ground-breaking therapeutic and emotional support project”, but as far as I can see the only emotional support provided is to Jill Adeline Tatman laughing her way to the bank from her home, also, as it happens, done up with public funds.
Trustee, Jill Adeline Tatman, originally from Redhill, Surrey, educated at a privately run evangelical college in Derbyshire and, like Mo Sykes, is a former trustee of YMCA Wales. She’d purchased the grade II listed “Windermere House” in Stone Street, Llandovery. This property was part of the Llandovery and Llangadog Townscape and Heritage Scheme which was refurbished in 2011 with a portion of the £2.782millon townscape fund, £737k of which was grant funded from Carmarthenshire Country Council. Not only does she get public funds to line her purse, but got some cash to do up her own house.”
Tatman was a director of YMCA Wales from November 2004 to November 2005 and personal assistant to the CEO, which might explain why the missing Mo Sykes (originally from the Six Counties) is a Trustee of Llandovery YMCA. Though the Charity Commission website tells us she is also a Trustee of the Bargoed and District YMCA and the Onllwyn and District YMCA. Accounts are overdue for the latter, so if the Charity Commission is expecting them from Mo Sykes they may have quite a wait. Something is clearly very wrong with YMCA Wales, and has been for a considerable time, so I ask again, Why did it take the ‘Welsh’ Government so long to pull its finger out?
I’m getting shyster fatigue from writing about those who migrate to Wales in order to take advantage of the ‘How much do you want?’ grant culture, but here goes, again . . . Tatman, based in a small Welsh town, has recently been given £250,000 for: ” . . . a ground-breaking therapeutic and emotional support project . . . and also go towards developing new opportunities for the unemployed through education and training”. In a relatively prosperous little town of less than 3,000 people how many unemployed are there, and what qualifications does Ms Tatman have to help them? Or what help can she give that no one else is currently giving? And how many kids are there in Llandovery needing ” . . . therapeutic and emotional support scheme for young people through art”. Truth is, all she’s really done is secure salaries for herself and her cronies. Plus of course, pensions, which I’m told are very ‘imaginative’ in their structure and very rewarding in the benefits they bestow..
In conclusion, I should point out that even though YMCA Wales is based in Swansea, it’s up in the wilds of Llansamlet somewhere, not in the grand old YMCA building on the Kingsway, that edifice we’ve seen so often in recent years on our television screens. For as I’m sure you’ll remember, this lovely old building was once home to AWEMA and our old friend Naz Malik. Naz, I regret to say, is currently in the dock at Swansea Crown Court. You know, I sometimes think that the Third Sector in Wales should really apply for funding from the Arts and Entertainment pot, because some of what they serve up is better than any soap opera.
YMCA Wales is yet another example of a Third Sector funding scandal: immigrants of dubious probity subverting a respected organisation to serve their own interests by exploiting the poverty and deprivation that results from the Union with England. And this one could be big, it could make old Naz look small coal.
It is with great relish and lashings of schadenfreude I report that civil war has broken out among the ruling Labour group on Swansea city council. Unfortunately, I cannot as yet tell you of any fatalities, but I live in hope. Here is a brief communique. It seems that the trenchcoat-wearing rodomontade (God I”ve longed to use that word!) who has until now directed this farce, one David Phillips, felt increasingly insecure and decided to sack a couple of cabinet members he felt did not worship him as he thought they ought. But now it appears they were not alone, and it may be Il Duce himself who is under threat! Some intriguing comments to the story on the Evening Post website by ‘pjrpost’ allege wrongdoing by the council’s HR department and a cover-up by the Labour administration. This, again is a story with ‘legs’, so I urge you to keep up with it. Another kick in the plums for the Labour Party is always good news.
The reason I’m including it here is because – as regular readers will know – I’ve written about this Labour shower before, many times. (Just type ‘Swansea council’ into the search box at the top of the sidebar.) It is the worst council the city has ever known, not least because many Labour councillors, including the council leader, are strangers to Swansea; they neither know the city nor care about it. Their loyalty is to the Labour Party, and the Labour Party alone. This is the dog-in-the-manger politics we suffer nowadays that sees political parties wanting power not to exercise it on behalf of the people but to keep some other crew out of power. For serving the Labour Party in this way Swansea’s councillors are rewarded by being allowed to pursue their pet issues (using council money of course), be that obsession promoting gay rights, saving the planet, or funding the Cwmrhydyceirw Unicorn Sanctuary.
On another level, as I write this the Swans are doing rather well, having won their first two games, but of course the club’s income is somewhat limited by having such a small stadium, which also means that many fans are unlikely to ever see a live game. The stadium should have been extended when the Swans were in the Championship, certainly after the first season in the Premier League. The Liberty Stadium is owned by Swansea council, and you’ll understand why the stadium is not being expanded when I tell you that the council leader, the aforementioned David Phillips, is a Liverpool supporter; one of the council’s representatives on the stadium management committee, Nick Bradley, proudly boasts of his undying love for West Bromwich Albion; while the chief executive of Swansea council, ciggie-puffing Jack Straw (no, not that one), is a Nottingham Forest supporter. This is the sort of thing you can expect when a council is run by a rag-bag collection of drifters, political chancers, students who couldn’t find their way home and single-issue obsessives.
Though on the plus side it is rather encouraging; for it suggests that Labour can no longer find local candidates, and has to rely on English immigrants. This is Bangor and Aberystwyth writ large.
In this final example we see Wales’ second city being run by strangers loyal to a political party whose only ambition is to keep Wales subservient to England. A gang who then waste public money funding all manner of nonsense but neglect the real interests of a city they don’t understand and people with whom they cannot possibly identify.
UPDATE August 28 2014: Disillusioned party members cornered Il Duce this evening and forced his resignation without recourse to the indignity of lamp-posts. It only remains now to see what happens to the clique with which he surrounded himself; these include his wife, assorted losers, and odious, self-promoting members of Labour Yoof who need Sat Nav to find their way around the city they help run.
Many would have it that Phillips jumped before he was pushed, as – it is alleged – was the case when he left his job with HMRC (or whatever it was then called) down in Pembrokeshire.
Here we have looked at some examples of colonialism and discrimination at work. The UK government gives the ‘Welsh’ Government billions of pounds, but then civil servants and others ensure that as much as possible of that money either makes its way back to England, is given to English people living in Wales, or else is spent on projects that do nothing to improve the wellbeing of Welsh people.
These examples show this evil and discriminatory system at work. A system that makes a mockery of devolution; for unless devolved powers are exercised in the interests of Welsh people then ‘devolution’ is more damaging to Welsh interests than the system we knew before.