Wales, colonialism and corruption

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

I was hoping to take a break from shysters and con men, shell companies and money-laundering, lying politicians and stupid officials because my head is aching from banging it against a brick wall.

But there’s no escape. And those who manage Wales – applying a veneer of native control – are not only too stupid to recognise a crook in plain sight but they give or sell them public assets, or they throw money at them, and this is then dressed up as ‘investment’, which allows them to crow about jobs created . . . and this deception encourages them to anticipate being re-elected as a reward for these ‘successes’.

The disparate components of this post begin with a bit of a rant, an acceptance that corruption in the UK is institutionalised (and therefore unlikely to ever be done away with). Then I move on to consider the curious case of Llangefni’s Shire Hall, before ending with a quick roundup of other items.

SHIP OF KNAVES

After years of studying its underbelly I now believe the United Kingdom is corrupt to the point where no serious effort is made to tackle ‘financial crime’. The unstated view of officialdom is that money is money, and no matter where it comes from it still buys things in the same way as clean money. And once it’s in circulation, boosting the economy, who can tell the difference? Who cares?

Money being created out of nothing ties in with the general contempt at the highest levels of the UK Establishment for making things, and exporting them. Grubby, ‘pleb’ activities. Which in turn accounts for the North-South divide within England. And explains why the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the advanced world.

And yet, while manufacturing in general is held in contempt there’s still a nostalgic fondness for high-end, prestige goods. Defended with ‘Best of British’ jingoism. For example, volume car production can go to the wall but let’s keep making Bentley, Range Rover and Aston Martin.

A mindset mirrored even in the military, where the UK’s armed forces are probably on a par with Spain’s, but what the hell – ‘We’ve got nuclear weapons and the SAS’. Rule Britannia!

The obsession with money and some twisted view of ‘only the best’ is exemplified in the City of London, through which passes most of the world’s dirty money. The City of London with its web of offshore tax havens that begin in the Irish Sea and the Channel.

Or step outside the Square Mile to see where the oligarchs, the kleptocrats, and the mass murderers live . . . or maybe they just buy the big houses as investments. We recently read that Isabel dos Santos, described as ‘Africa’s richest woman’, said to have ‘ripped off’ her native Angola, owns a number of expensive properties in London.

What honest and self-respecting country would welcome and even celebrate kleptocrats like these? Click to enlarge

Under this system, this mindset, everything is monetised, even education. It’s now easier to gain a degree in the UK than perhaps any other western country. This is due the fact that universities are perceived as being businesses. If you can write your name and remember your address then you’re guaranteed a place at ‘uni’, with further money made from foreign students, who can be charged two or three times the rate for domestic students.

The United Kingdom is a ship crewed by knaves floating on a sea of dirty money. No one with an alternative staring them in the face should want to stay on board.

LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL

Having got that off my chest I’ll turn to a story I first covered back on 6 November. Here it is. In essence, the council on Ynys Môn last year sold the Shire Hall in Llangefni to an English ‘businessman’ named Tristan Scott Haynes.

My piece was prompted by an article I’d seen on NorthWalesLive. I’m returning to it now because the article reappeared in BusinessNewsWales again last Thursday. Repeated word for bloody word.

After reading the BNW article I telephoned Ynys Môn council and spoke with a charming young woman who confirmed that the Shire Hall had indeed been sold 22 August last year. Which made me wonder why there was no media coverage of the sale until November.

Having bought the title document for the Shire Hall when I wrote last November’s piece I was surprised to see that ownership for title CYM716217 was attributed to the council. So I went back to the Land Registry website last week and bought the title document again, assuming that it would now have been updated to show the change of ownership; but as you can see, the council is still listed as owner.

Perplexed by this, I decided to come at the problem from a different angle. You may remember that Tristan Haynes had a couple of companies, one of them was Chief Properties Ltd. There are two charges against Chief Properties and both list title number CYM635210, which is different to the title number I’d bought. (Which I now suspect refers to the new county council offices not far away.)

So it was back to the Land Registry website and the new number I’d unearthed. Here it is, title document and plan. Below you’ll see the Land Registry plan with a capture from Google Maps to give a fuller picture.

Almost a map of Israel (inc West Bank) with Afon Cefni serving as the River Jordan. And the Masonic Lodge on the border. Click to enlarge

The first thing that struck me was the size of this site, sold for £150,000 or less. (You’ll see from the links provided that the indent shaded green is the war memorial.) The title takes in the old town hall, the police station and magistrates court, together with a sizeable car park.

And yet, despite the sale having gone through last August, the title is still in the name of ‘Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn’. So why hasn’t it been transferred to Tristan Scott Haynes or Chief Properties Ltd?

You may have noticed that Haynes borrowed the money to buy the Shire Hall from Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheshire. And if that name sounds familiar it’s because our old friends at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, Paul and Rowena Williams, have outstanding debts with the same company. Together is one of those ‘specialist’ lenders to whom people turn when regular banks respond to loan requests with, ‘You must be joking!’

In the NorthWalesLive article in November (and of course the BusinessNewsWales piece last week) we were told that Haynes is the “managing director of Chief Properties” and “also runs a successful haulage firm”. All designed to impress, yet these are are both one-man bands.

Chief Properties was formed in August 2018 and the first director was Nadine Baldwin, who was joined in September by Haynes. Baldwin left the company in December 2018. I’m assuming there was some connection or relationship between Baldwin and Haynes.

The ‘successful haulage firm’ is Falcon Transportation Ltd. Incorporated 3 July 2015 and seems to have bumped along, doing very little since then. Haynes was the original director but stood down 1 February 2018 to be replaced by Julian Mayne. Haynes made a triumphal return in February 2019 the day after Mayne left.

When he wasn’t directing the haulage fleet in the temporary absence of Tristan Haynes Jools was the mastermind behind Low Cost Bills Ltd. Though when you look into the figures for this company you wonder what Mayne’s day job might have been.

Both of the Haynes companies are based at these imposing offices on Tavistock Street in Bedford. The building is owned by husband and wife David and Michelle Munday, whose company, Orchid National Nursing Supplies Ltd, would appear to use the building as a warehouse.

135 – 137 Tavistock Street, Bedford. Click to enlarge

There was another Haynes company I found, Bullet Strategies Ltd, which lasted about 18 months before being struck off in September 2014. The address given for this company was 8 Howbury Street in Bedford. A terraced house that seems to have been divided into two flats.

Since the November article Tristan Haynes has registered two more companies, both on 4 December. These are, Wasp HQ Ltd and Pine Eels Ltd. Strange names.

Although the company correspondence address for both is the Orchid warehouse on Tavistock Street the address given for Haynes himself is 33A St Peter’s Road, which suggests he might now be living above Bedford Dental Surgery.

On the Companies House website the ‘Nature of business’ (SIC) given for Wasp HQ is, ‘47781 – Retail sale in commercial art galleries; 47782 – Retail sale by opticians;
47789 – Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores (not commercial art galleries and opticians)’.

While for Pine Eels it’s, ‘47789 – Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores (not commercial art galleries and opticians)’.

Which might suggest that Llangefni Shire Hall will be used for art galleries and opticians . . . except when they’re not art galleries and opticians. (Glad we cleared that up.) And yet the article I’ve referred to mentioned a pod hotel and a conference centre. Are they covered by not being art galleries and opticians?

Come to that, why the hell are we talking about opticians?

To recap. The title was bought last August, Tristan Haynes already had his plans for the site, so presumably planning permission has been granted, or at the very least a  planning application or a request for a change of use has been submitted to the council.

Well, no.

The land was sold last August, there was a bit of publicity in November (regurgitated last week) and then, all of a sudden . . . nothing happened! Not even a change of ownership notified to the Land Registry.

After I wrote the original piece last November I was sent information on Tristan Scott Haynes. It obviously came from someone who knows him well. If only a fraction of that information is correct then Haynes is a dangerous and unprincipled manipulator.

I have chosen to withhold that information, for the time being. But I still have questions for Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn:

  • How was contact first made between the council and Tristan Scott Haynes?
  • Were background checks done by the council; checks that, for example, would have unearthed Haynes’ conviction and imprisonment on Malta?
  • Who recommended selling this land to Haynes?
  • Who authorised selling this land to Haynes?
  • Has the council been paid the agreed sale price?
  • Why hasn’t the Land Registry been informed of the sale and the change of ownership that took place over five months ago?
  • Has the sale definitely gone through?
  • What contact does the council now have with Haynes?
  • In the news articles Haynes talks of a ‘pod hotel‘. Does anyone really think that Llangefni needs such a venture?
  • Or is it to be an art galley – competing with the council’s own Oriel Môn just a short distance away.
  • And could the town sustain a ‘conference centre’? (Though I suppose the delegates could all stay in the pod hotel.)
  • Given his ambitious plans isn’t Cyngor Môn concerned by Tristan Haynes’ complete lack of experience in any of the options mentioned?

I know the county council is desperate to off-load this site but elementary checks on potential buyers are easy, cost next to nothing, and can save the vendor both money and embarrassment.

UPDATE 31.12.2020: I received an e-mail yesterday from the young woman I spoke with at Cyngor Môn. She wrote: “The sale was completed on the 22/8/2019. Registration of the Transfer at the Land Registry is a matter for the buyer following completion. We aren’t aware of any planning applications.”

What is going on?

WEEP FOR WALES 16B

Fans of the Plas Glynllifon/Seiont Manor saga (and I know there are many of you out there) will be wondering what happened when Paul and Rowena Williams took their erstwhile buddy and business partner, Myles Cunliffe, before the beak in Manchester a week last Friday.

Here’s the report that appeared in NorthWalesLive.

When I read the suggestion of illegality and fraud I was so shocked I had to reach for the smelling salts. Click to enlarge

Here’s some supplementary information I’ve been sent.

What wasn’t reported first off Paul Williams was actually wearing a suit! with a very bad floral tie 

Basically it was a total failure of a application on the Williams side and the judge was not impressed at all, it should never have got to court……. 

Because of this Williams had to pay Cunliffe his costs of £6,500 and if it has to go to court again Williams has to pay £10,000 up front to the court because of the cock up

Williams also has racked up a bill of £60,000 with his solicitors which the judge questioned how much and if the figure was even valid! 

The Judge agreed to the Companies House stuff to be submitted via Cunliffe because they have said they would do this all along (My guess is the Williams want the codes to do something dodgy) 

I even heard that Cunliffe’s solicitor give a quote to Owen Hughes and nothing is mentioned in Article (Though the person who was there didn’t hear the actual quote) 

I think Williams still has Owen in his pocket! 

Anyway  hope that helps”. 

It looks as if the Gruesome Twosome miscalculated badly, and so I think we can look forward to many more episodes of Weep for Wales.

THE WOODHOUSE MODEL

Another star who has graced this blog in recent years is Gavin Lee Woodhouse. He built up a portfolio of hotels and then went for glory, accompanied by Bore Grylls, with the highly ambitious Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

The ‘Welsh Government’ obviously thought Woodhouse was a great asset to the Welsh economy. Not only was he gifted hundreds of acres of public land for his Afan Valley fantasy but he was also awarded a £500,000 grant for one of his hotels, the Caer Rhun in the Conwy valley.

Click to enlarge

It all came crashing down last year when ITV News and the Guardian exposed his business methods. It was basically a ponzi scheme selling individual rooms in hotels.

The same business method is now being employed in Cardiff by the owner of the Coal Exchange. For obvious reasons investors are getting edgy, as this report from last November tells us. And concerns persist, as this report from last Friday confirms.

And yet, despite selling rooms individually being a discredited business model favoured by crooks, Cardiff council has agreed to give £2m to the Coal Exchange ‘developer’.

I can understand Cardiff council wanting to safeguard a landmark building, but is this the way to do it? If this goes the same way as Woodhouse’s empire can Cardiff council be sure of getting its £2m back?

VROOM VROOM

I’m not for one minute suggesting that those running Aston Martin and TVR are crooks, I’m simply using these companies as examples of the poor judgement and profligacy of the ‘Welsh Government’.

The Aston Martin car company has been enticed to St Athan near Cardiff with the promise of lots of public funding; while TVR is supposedly coming to Ebbw Vale as a consolation prize for the doomed Circuit of Wales.

I have a regular contact who is something of a petrolhead and he passes on items that he picks up in the specialist press. One recent tit-bit drew my attention to ‘Taffy66’. Checking his ‘garage’ i.e. the cars he owns, we find 4 Porsche and a Ferrari. Suggesting that Taffy66 is doing quite well for himself. (Perhaps he earns even more than a third sector CEO!)

Click to enlarge

You’ll see that he describes himself as “a proud Welshman who due to the nature of my business has no choice but to do regular dealings with the WAG”. So why don’t Drakewell and the gang hire him as an adviser. He must know more about business than them and their civil servants. (But come to that, so does my cat!)

The hard news on both Aston Martin and TVR suggests they are struggling financially and are very unlikely to provide the jobs anticipated.

Salvation for Aston Martin might come in the form of Chinese investment, but whether Geely would still go ahead at St Athan is a moot point. As for TVR, the specialist press is very sceptical about the company’s future, with the latest news being that the roof on the Ebbw Vale factory is leaking!

The ‘Welsh Government’ is spending on infrastructure for these companies, and pumping money into them, when it has no real control. A change of ownership and it could be a case of, ‘Wales! Where’s that?

No healthy economy was ever built by desperately bribing foreign firms to move to a country. This is nothing more than a colony funding colonialism. Which of course is how colonialism operates.

WATER

Water has long been an emotive subject in Wales, Cofiwch Dryweryn! and all that. But too many are lulled into silent acceptance, or even support, when the sirens sing of ‘renewable’ and ‘green energy’, seemingly blind to the fact that exploitation and colonialism come in many forms.

Last October in, Wales, with us but strangers, I wrote about the troubling case of the hydro scheme at Ystradffin, near Rhandirmwyn, below the Llyn Brianne reservoir. It’s a fascinating story, I strongly advise you to read it.

The latest news is that the locals are getting angry. For despite originally promising great financial benefits for the community the developer (whoever that might ultimately be) is now offering just £1,000 a year according to this BBC Wales report.

Though the version in Welsh paints an even darker picture. It talks of environmental damage, no local jobs, and of a BBC film crew being ‘challenged’ and then pursued, even though the crew was on public land!

Ystradffin, Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

At Ystradffin we have the involvement of a number of English companies, with a Czech company doing the work. Then there is the possibility of Russian funding, and UK government involvement. Quite a story, with the Welsh involvement being limited to the water.

This is real colonialism, almost medieval. Strangers march into our country and set up a ‘Taffy-keep-out’ zone. The ‘Welsh Government’ probably wasn’t even consulted. (And knows better than to ask.)

♦ end ♦

 

Staying in Llangefni

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

I never thought I’d be saying this, but following the previous post on the sale of the Shire Hall, we are staying in Llangefni!

The old town took a bit of a hit last month with the closure of the Marco Cable Management plant. Losing 40 jobs may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but in a small town like Llangefni it matters a lot. And just a few years earlier there had been more than 70 working there.

As recently as September 2015 the company was talking of expanding. And here’s general manager Brian Pigott talking to BBC Wales earlier that year in a similarly optimistic mood.

So what went wrong?

An old friend back in Swansea was moved to write to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ asking if Marco Cable Management had received any public funding. Or rather, how much funding, because it could almost be guaranteed that funding was provided as an inducement for the company to set up on Ynys Môn in 2003.

The reply he got from the Department for Economy and Transport (Prop. K. Skates) can be read here. You’ll see that the company received at least £1,191,771.68. In addition, there was funding from the county council and HSBC.

Though it was the parent company Marco Gearing Ltd that received the funding. Which I thought was a bit odd, so I went to the Companies House website to check on them both. I learnt that Marco Gearing Ltd was formed in April 2002, while Marco Cable Management Ltd was born July 2003.

Something else I thought was odd – though it probably explains the funding going to the parent company – was that throughout its existence Marco Cable Management Ltd, the name under which the factory operated, was a dormant company.

MARCO GEARING LTD

Let’s start at the beginning, with parent company Marco Gearing Ltd. What does the name mean? Who or what is Marco? And does ‘Gearing’ refer to a gear system on a car or machine or is it used here in the financial sense?

From the start on 9 April 2002, Lillian Turner MacGregor of Betws yn Rhos, Abergele was a director of the company, with chartered accountant Philip Matthew Deakin as secretary, but he left 24 May. (Deakin has been involved in many companies since Marco Gearing.)

Deakin was replaced by Andrew Ian MacGregor as secretary, and in November the family group was completed by Ian Charles MacGregor coming aboard as the second director. For I suspect that Ian Charles is Lillian Turner MacGregor’s husband and Andrew Ian is their son.

July 2003, coinciding with the launch of Marco Cable Management Ltd, saw both a major share issue and Terry Deakin of Colwyn Bay joining the board. After Deakin’s arrival the share distribution was 230,000 with Ian Charles MacGregor, 120,010 with Lillian Turner MacGregor and 50,000 each with Deakin and his wife Janet.

Deakin’s other active directorship was with the National Zoological Society of Wales, better known as the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay. Though he had been in business for himself with a number of companies. It could be that the Deakin we met earlier, who served briefly as secretary, is his son.

There were two further appointments to the board of Marco Gearing on 22 April 2010. These were Bernard James Pigott (the ‘Brian’ of the video?), and Paul Stewart Diggins of Buckinghamshire, who may have been the sales director.

MARCO CABLE MANAGEMENT LTD

Turning to Marco Cable Management Ltd, the sole director, from Incorporation 17 July 2003 was Lillian Turner MacGregor, with Andrew Ian MacGregor as secretary.

There were just 9 shares and these were held by Mrs MacGregor, with what appears to be a further issue of a single share a year later in 2004.

And that was it, the company filed accounts for a dormant company every year, there were returns filed showing the shareholder, and then, on 18 May 2017, we saw the MacGregors step down and two new directors arrive. These were Carl Edward Jones and Paul Graham Merrick.

So who are Messrs Jones and Merrick, who also joined Marco Cable Management Ltd on the same day?

THE YANKS ARE COMING!

On 7 July 2017 all the shares in Marco Gearing Ltd were transferred to Unistrut Ltd of West Bromwich. (Though it took until 11 April 2018 before the information was notified to Companies House.) Unistrut Ltd is a subsidiary of Atkore International, of Chicago.

The takeover of the Marco group shown in the Unistrut figures. Image courtesy of Endole. Click to enlarge.

Which means that some time between May and July 2017 the Llangefni factory of Marco Cable Management Ltd was taken over by an American company – but no one seemed to notice! Or rather, there are a number of references to the takeover in the specialist press – here, here and here – but I can find nothing reported in the ‘Welsh media’.

Didn’t our Welsh journalists know? Did the workforce in Llangefni know? Did the council and the ‘Welsh Government’ – both owed money by the Marco group – know that the decision on whether a Welsh factory closed now lay with faceless men in Chicago?

The MacGregor family sold out to an acquisitive and ruthless US corporation that they must have known would soon close down a competitor in a peripheral location. Did they feel no obligation to the workers who had given so much?

It seems that Carl Jones, who joined Atkore in 2011 has spent the years since then acquiring UK companies such as Marco Cable Management Ltd for his American bosses. The most recent would seem to be Modern Associates Ltd. Again, working with Paul Merrick.

And we have no defence whatsoever against predators like these. I’m surprised they didn’t ask the ‘Welsh Government’ for a grant to close down the factory. I’m sure they would have been given one.

THE ‘WELSH ECONOMY’.

So another factory closes, more Welsh workers lose their jobs, Cyngor Ynys Môn has lost money, so has the ‘Welsh Government, and there remain two outstanding debentures held by HSBC Bank against Marco Gearing Ltd (which might account for the ‘liabilities’ in the graphic above).

Just another paragraph in the ever-growing volume ‘How Not to Run an Economy’, by the ‘Welsh Government’.

I’m writing this on the day that Citizen Woodhouse made the news again. The man who bought Welsh hotels then sold the rooms off individually with the promise of huge returns. A child of four could have seen that he was a con artist, but the ‘Welsh Government’ promised him £500,000 for his Caer Rhun hotel near Llanrwst, and then, because they lack the critical reasoning of a four-year-old, those clowns down Corruption Bay gave him a few hundred acres of public land for his Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

Click to enlarge

In the previous post we looked at the sale of Llangefni’s Shire Hall to The Man From God Knows Where* who, according to North Wales Live, is a wheeling-dealing miracle-worker set to bestow the riches of the Orient on poor old Llangefni.

Just over the water we have the crooks of Bryn Llys; and just a few miles from them is Plas Glynllifon and the Williams gang, now being replaced by Myles Cunliffe and his cohorts. Further east we see Clwyd and the A55 corridor being turned into Commuterland.

Elsewhere we have zip wires, or hippies, or retirees, or social dumping, or . . .

There’s room, and funding, jobs and housing, for everybody . . . except us Welsh.

I’m told that the Brummie manager of Transport for Wales’ Machynlleth depot has just hired an apprentice – from Blackburn! Despite any number of local lads wanting the job.

Wales is being overrun and colonised but never mind, let’s suck up to Guardian readers by doing a deal with the party that will back a minority Tory government and revoke the Government of Wales Act.

Down south the news is no better. TVR will not be coming to Ebbw Vale, and Aston Martin is about to go belly-up. Cardiff airport is in the wrong place – but never mind, let’s pour in more public money.

Decisions made by arseholes. And hypocrites. The kind of people who condemn others for withholding the truth or subverting democracy while protecting themselves and their lobbyist and third sector friends by refusing us the truth on the circumstances surrounding Carl Sargeant’s death.

Wales doesn’t need any more elections or referendums, what we need is a revolution of the soul, to reject this whole stinking colonialist system, and those down Cardiff Bay who profit from maintaining it.

♦ end ♦

*The Man From God-Knows Where is a poem, one of Cayo’s favourites.