My intention was to start winding down this blog, spend more time with my wife, grand-children, books, Malbec . . . but things keep cropping up. That said, it’s very unlikely I shall undertake major new investigations. Diolch yn fawr.
In recent months I have written about wind farms threatening the Welsh countryside. In particular, the 16 ‘energy parks’ planned by Bute Energy and its subsidiaries. You can get the details from reading the following piece from October, England’s wind turbines – in Wales!
I’m returning to the subject now because the links between Bute Energy and the local branch of the UK Labour Party have become so close as to warrant calls for resignation and investigation.
We shall look at four individuals. Two of them Labour insiders. One the partner of a Labour MS. The fourth, the MS herself.
UPDATE 07.12.2021: There have been yet more companies formed under the Bute umbrella. (It’s getting difficult to keep up!) They are:
Telling us there are four more wind farms planned. Bryngwyn has yet to be located. Blaencothi is east of Lampeter. Maesnant is close to Nant y Moch reservoir, inland of Aberystwyth. Then there’s Bryn Glas – do these buggers really intend to desecrate the site of Glyndŵr’s victory over Mortimer in 1402?
DAVID JAMES TAYLOR has served as spad to a number of high-profile Welsh Labour politicians. He was also the unsuccessful Labour Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for North Wales in 2016.
Taylor now does the groundwork in Wales for Bute Energy Ltd. For example, getting people who’ll be affected by Bute’s developments to sign agreements to the benefit of Bute Energy.
For his efforts he’s been made a Member of Grayling Capital LLP, along with Oliver James Millican, Stuart Allan George, and Lawson Douglas Steele, the troika running Bute Energy.
He has also been given shares in Windward Enterprises Ltd, another Millican, George, Steele production.
And in a further show of gratitude the Bute boys shovel money into David Taylor’s Moblake Ltd; from whence he has ‘loaned’ himself £605,872 over the past three years.
For the accounts tell us this is an ‘interest free loan and does not have a set repayment date’. Well of course not – he’d just be repaying himself!
David James Taylor, with no knowledge of renewables, wind power, or the generation of electricity, has been hired by Bute Energy for his contacts within the so-called ‘Welsh Government’.
DEREK VAUGHAN CBE was a Labour MEP who of course became redundant in 2019 – and available for hire. His encyclopaedic knowledge of the renewables industry has secured for him the post of chairman of Bute Energy’s Welsh Advisory Board.
As with Taylor, there could be some other reason for him being given this sinecure. A reason not unrelated to his familiarity with the levers of power in the Labour Party, and his connections within the ‘Welsh Government’.
But what kind of cynical bastard would entertain such a thought?
JOHN UDEN is the partner of Jenny Rathbone MS.
Let’s start with Nant yr Odyn Ltd, formed in October 2009 and dissolved in May 2011. (The significance of May 2011 will soon become clear.) The company name refers to the stream that meets the Alwen at Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr.
Alongside the stream we find the property known as Maes yr Odyn. Both Rathbone and Uden were on the Electoral Register there in 2002. Which makes sense because that was the year Rathbone lost her seat on Islington council.
Though the Senedd website tells us, ‘From 2002 to 2007, Jenny was programme manager of an award-winning Sure Start programme in north London’.
So the property in Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr was presumably being used as a holiday home, or a weekend retreat?
There are two titles at the Land Registry relating to Maes yr Odyn. One for the property itself, where Jenny Rathbone is joint owner with Andrew Lyle Rathbone; the other for ‘land and outbuildings’, where she is the sole owner. The address Rathbone gives on the second of those title documents is ‘Hen Maes yr Odyn’. The house next door.
It looks as if the dwelling Maes yr Odyn has been in the ownership of the Rathbone family for some time. The title document suggests the property was bought in 1962 by Elizabeth Eleanor Rathbone, then gifted to the current owners in 1992.
Then, and perhaps to ‘re-unite’ the property, the outbuildings and land were bought by Jenny Rathbone in July 2008 for £120,000.
Incidentally, Maes yr Odyn seems to be a mile or two from Mwdwl Eithin, one of Bute Energy’s planned wind farms. Here’s the company that’s been set up.
In May, 2011 Rathbone was elected to the National Assembly for Wales as Labour AM for Cardiff Central. A city and a constituency of which she knew nothing.
Her career has not been without its ups and downs. Playing the environmentalist got her sacked from Carwyn Jones’ cabinet over the M4 ‘improvements’. Then, a couple of years back, there were allegations of anti-Semitism. More recently, she urged us to ‘get real’ because poor people don’t go to rugby matches, football matches, or the cinema.
But we’re neglecting her partner!
John Uden got his position on Bute’s Welsh Advisory Board due to Rathbone’s influence. And, possibly, the proximity of Maes yr Odyn to the planned Mwdwl Eithin ‘energy park’.
Bute Energy, John Uden, and Jenny Rathbone’s own shares, could all benefit from decisions taken and recommendations made by the Senedd’s Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee on which she sits.
Jenny Rathbone’s Register of Interests (Category 8, ‘Land and property’) lists ’Barn used as community centre and two acres of land, Llanfihangel GM, Conwy’ . . . but makes no mention of her shared ownership of the house itself, Maes yr Odyn, which must be worth considerably more. (Here in pdf format.)
As stated, the co-owner of the house is Andrew Lyle Rathbone, who we can assume is related. For both sit as Trustees on the Miss E F Rathbone Charitable Trust. Along with a couple of other Rathbones.
The Rathbones are a very wealthy family. With a number of companies and trusts bearing the name, such as Rathbone Investment Management Ltd (total assets £3.1bn), based at the Port of Liverpool Building. Though that company is in turn owned by Rathbones Group Plc.
I suppose many or most of the shares we see on Jenny Rathbone’s Register of Interests are her allocation of investments made by the various entities handling the Rathbone family fortune.
In which case, is there income / dividends from those shares?
Among the shares held by Jenny Rathbone are those in AstraZeneca Plc, which makes the Covid-19 vaccine – what foresight!
Returning to ‘renewables’, Rathbone Investment Management has gone gung-ho for wind turbines. As we see from the cover of the Summer 2021 issue of Rathbones Review.
I wonder if Rathbones are investing in wind farms in Wales?
This squalid relationship between Bute Energy and leading figures within or close to the Labour Party in Wales is corruption.
Businessmen have recruited people to ease their projects through the political system and the planning process. To pretend there’s any other explanation for Bute Energy recruiting Taylor, Vaughan, and Uden, would be to insult our intelligence.
Just ask yourself – Why did Bute Energy feel the need to create a ‘Welsh Advisory Board’? To provide a fig leaf, in the form of ‘jobs’ for Vaughan and Uden.
Taylor, Vaughan and Uden must sever their connections with Bute Energy Ltd and its associated companies. Failure to do so by any one of them must invalidate any planning application received from Bute Energy or its associated companies.
This may already have gone too far, I would therefore suggest that any planning application received from a Bute company should be reviewed by a body independent of both the ‘Welsh Government’ and its in-house Planning Inspectorate.
In the case of Jennifer Ann Rathbone MS; for failing to register ownership of Maes yr Odyn, for the fear that she might bring political influence to bear on behalf of her partner and a company with many projects planned in Wales, I feel that her fitness to serve as a Senedd Member is severely compromised.
Her position is almost untenable. She should consider resigning.
Finally, I also feel that the Welsh public is entitled to a statement from Y Prif Weinidog. With assurances that the guilty parties will not prosper, and that there will be no repeat of this squalid affair.
A register of lobbyists might help in this respect.
Looking at the bigger picture, I fear we are at a dangerous juncture in Welsh political development. There seems to be a growing belief that it’s acceptable to do the wrong things for the ‘right’ reasons.
This outlook is no longer confined to the far left, it has spread to the mainstream, to the virtuouser-than-thou ‘progressives’. If you persuade yourself that those who oppose you are fascists, or transphobes, or climate deniers – then anything goes!
Perhaps to the point where, ‘Yeah, I may be lining my own pockets, but I’m also saving the planet – so that makes it OK’.
♦ end ♦