Shorts & Updates 05.02.2019; St Tatans, Weep for Wales 11a, the false economy of the third sector

I’ve burdened you with a few heavyweight issues of late and now I’m going to make up for it with this relatively short piece in which I look at tourist tat, give a brief update on the Williams gang and new boy Myles Cunliffe in Weep for Wales 11a, before rounding off with an appeal for a better system than funding organisations that have no intention of ever dealing with the problem they’re paid to deal with.

ST TATAN’S

As you know, every December I haul the old Jones carcass down to Cilmeri where the craic is good in the company of old comrades from the 1960s (though fewer every year), and this in no way detracts from the solemnity of the occasion, or the fiery speeches at the monument.

Among the regulars are some of our Breton cousins, one of them, Gwion, first came to Wales many, many years ago as a student teacher; a nice lad who unfortunately fell in with a bad crowd . . . that included myself. Ah! happy days.

After Cilmeri this year our Breton guests went to a number of castles and historic sites to soak up some history and culture before heading to St Fagan’s. Where they intended spending money on Welsh goods.

Among their purchases was a scarf, a red, Welsh scarf. This was left in the bag until they returned home . . . when the full horror of what had happened was revealed.

click to enlarge

You’ll see that not only does this scarf carry the ‘Ich Dien’ logo of Charles Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, but it was made in China! Yet the receipt insists it is a ‘Welsh’ scarf.

After receiving the information and the photographs I got to wondering who could be responsible, who was guilty of perpetrating this deception in our name, so I did some checking.

The receipt mentions ‘NMGW Enterprises Ltd’, but nothing comes up for that name on the Companies House website. Next stop was the website for National Museum Wales where, on the ‘Corporate Partnerships’ page (scroll down), I found this reference to NMGW Enterprises.

A bit more ferreting gave me the name I was looking for – Mentrau Amgueddfeydd ac Orieliau Cenedlaethol Cymru / National Museums & Galleries of Wales Enterprises Ltd. Here’s the Companies House entry.

A number of things concern me, and should concern anyone who cares about Wales.

First off, looking at the directors of NMGW Enterprises, there is a worrying lack of Welsh involvement. (Even the auditors are in Walsall!) Which might explain why tourist tat made in China is being passed off as Welsh and damaging our country’s reputation.

Seeing as NMGW Enterprises is owned by National Museum Wales I suggest that that body either reins in these cowboys or else removes from its website actionable lies about ‘Welsh-made products’. Preferably the former.

And because the ‘Welsh Government’ has ultimate responsibility for our museums and galleries – and may even have appointed the directors of NMGW Enterprises – I also expect to see some action from that quarter.

Wales is supposedly going for up-market tourism and yet, at one of our flagship visitor attractions, people are offered rubbish you’d expect to see sold by a spiv down from London to capitalise on a rugby or football international.

WEEP FOR WALES 11a

I don’t have enough material, yet, for Weep for Wales 12 but there is fresh information that needs to be made public. Let’s recap . . .

Weep for Wales 11 appeared on 3 December and I updated it a few times, including just before Christmas after receiving a threatening letter from a solicitor, demanding that I remove everything I’d ever written about Paul and Rowena Williams. (Here’s my response.) I’ve heard nothing more from the solicitor. I’ll return to this intervention later.

The real news is that there’s a new kid on the block and his name is Myles Andrew Cunliffe. He now appears to run both Plas Glynllifon Ltd and Rural Retreats & Development Ltd through Mylo Capital Ltd, a company with a single one pound share and nothing yet submitted to Companies House.

Though the 10,000 shares issued for each of Plas Glynllifon and RR&D are split equally between Mylo Capital and Rowena Williams.

Myles Cunliffe inhabits that demi-monde of the personal finance sector that seeks out those with poor credit ratings, those who are susceptible to pitches that translated say – ‘Want to get into crippling debt buying a car you can’t really afford?’

For this sector encourages people to do exactly that, which often results in repossession. In the case of cars, these can then be ‘sold’ to somebody else who will fall behind with repayments, and the sequence repeats itself.

Another company with which Cunliffe is involved is Etaireia Investments PLC, a company that was until March 2011 known as Aquarius Media PLC, with a Seychelles connection.

More recently Etaireia Investments has been in talks with the Oyston family estate. The name Owen Oyston will be familiar to football fans and to readers of Private Eye. This recent article from the Guardian will give you a flavour of the man we’re dealing with.

On the same day he joined Etaireia Investments Cunliffe also became a director of Etaireia Holdings Ltd, a Scotland-registered company now lined up to be struck off due to both Accounts and Confirmation Statement being overdue with Companies House.

click to enlarge

Someone who joined Etaireia Investments soon after Cunliffe was Dennis Rogers, who got this write-up in the Financial Express. Rogers is based on the Isle of Man. That puff was written by Cunliffe or someone close to him, and the version in the Times also said of Cunliffe that he has “the individual FCA permissions of CF1, CF1(AR), CF10 and CF11”. People who know of such things are dubious of some of these Financial Conduct Authority accreditations.

But what of Paul and Rowena Williams, what are they up to? Very little, is the answer. For with Cunliffe taking over their mansion what do they have left? Perhaps only the Seiont Manor Hotel, run by faithful family retainer Rikki Reynolds, and rotting Fronoleu.

Seeing as Myles Cunliffe has taken over it was no surprise to learn that the registered address for Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd moved on 3 February from Plas Glynllifon. What was less easy to understand was why it moved back to Leintwardine and the palatial offices of convicted fraudster and accountant John Duggan.

Why couldn’t Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd have used the Seiont Manor Hotel as its address? One answer is that they don’t want bailiffs turning and carting away their goods. Though a further answer suggested itself when I realised that since 4 January there has been a new company called Seiont Manor Ltd, with an address in Manchester and Myles Cunliffe as sole director.

So who now owns the Seiont Manor Hotel? I’m not sure yet, but whoever it is, this switch probably accounts for the staff not getting paid. The excuse given by the Williams gang was that “a key funder / new investor had backed out”.

Given that the solicitor who sent me that letter before Christmas was also based in Manchester it could be that Myles Cunliffe was behind it. For while he knew that he was getting into bed with crooks, he may not have appreciated how bad the Williams gang’s reputation is.

Cunliffe must now realise that partly thanks to Weep for Wales 1 – 11 his chances of getting funding for Plas Glynllifon are slim (especially with Rowena Williams still on board) and from any governmental source zero. So what can he be planning to do with the old pile?

As yet, I don’t know. But I’m sure I’ll be able to tell you in Weep for Wales 12. Watch this space!

THE FALSE ECONOMY OF THE THIRD SECTOR

One defence of the third sector is that it ‘takes up the slack’ when central, devolved, or local government no longer provides a certain service, and to some extent that’s true.

But there may come a point when it would make more sense to take that responsibility back ‘in-house’, where a service might not only be provided for less in terms of financial outlay but also in a way that made it more transparent in its dealings, and open to public scrutiny.

This thought has occurred to me a number of times recently. And it came back to me yesterday when I read this pitch in the Western Mail for more funding from the CEO of a homelessness business.

click to enlarge

Let’s start with the introduction, where it says, “Lindsay Cordery-Bruce, chief executive of Wales’ leading homelessness charity The Wallich, makes an impassioned call to recognise that our current systems of support to tackle the issue of rough sleeping in Wales clearly aren’t working”. And there are good reasons for why they aren’t working, as I shall explain.

After being introduced as CEO of “Wales’ leading homelessness charity” Ms Cordery-Bruce then, and rather confusingly, began her article with: “Across the UK, including in Wales . . . “. Why would the CEO of Wales’ biggest such charity, operating solely in Wales, and writing about homelessness in Wales, have to put her thoughts into a UK framework for a Welsh readership?

It makes no sense unless you appreciate that the Wallich, like most third sector bodies in Wales, operates in an Englandandwales framework, throwing Welsh money at what are often transferred English problems. (Housing associations are particularly guilty in this regard.)

But of course the Wallich is not alone, for as the ‘Welsh Government was only too pleased to tell me, there are no fewer than 48 homelessness charities / businesses operating in Wales.

click to enlarge

I’m not for one minute suggesting that they’re all as big as the Wallich, but the Wallich is not without serious rivals. With all of them soaking up vast amounts of public funding. To illustrate my point let me walk you through the latest available accounts for the Wallich. (Keep this pdf file open in a separate window.)

Let’s start on page 8, where we see that the Wallich has £2,778,887 squirrelled away in investments. In addition, page 21 tells us that there is another £3,574,617 in readies. Whence cometh these shekels?

Well, page 29 informs us that in 2018 £7,981,735 came from the ‘Welsh Government’ and local authorities. Another £3,993,798 came from rents. This is clearly no hand-to-mouth charity, this is a serious commercial undertaking, and the commodity bringing in this money is homeless people.

That the Wallich is a big company and a major employer is made clear on page 31, where we learn that £8,019,182 went on staff costs (for 381 employees), of which Ms Cordery-Bruce herself pulled down £100,000+. (Though in the previous year the CEO who preceded Ms C-B seems to have been paid less than £80,000.)

To sum up, we have in Wales a homelessness industry made up of dozens of organisations, all reliant to a greater or lesser degree on public funding, and all with a vested interest in not solving the problem of homelessness because to do so would put them out of a job.

Which also means that if Wales cannot provide enough homeless then they will be brought in from England . . . as will the drug addicts, and the ex-cons, and the paedophiles and the problem families for housing associations and others.

Why does the ‘Welsh Government’ not put a stop to this obvious rip-off? Because there is electoral advantage to be gained from keeping Wales poor, which runs:  ‘Look at all the homeless . . . see how poor Wales is? . . . it’s all the fault of them Tories . . . vote Labour!’

We have reached the stage where it would be far cheaper for the ‘Welsh Government’ to take direct responsibility in certain sectors currently exploited by an out-of-control third sector and bring down costs by actually solving the problem rather than by keeping it going for personal gain.

Because if Finland, a country not much bigger than Wales in terms of population, can solve it’s homelessness problems why can’t Wales?

Part of the answer must lie in the related facts that Finland has a government working in the country’s best interests and Finland doesn’t take in Russia’s problems.

P.S. There was a double-page spread on homelessness in today’s Western Mail, in which Ms Cordery-Bruce was extensively quoted. Here’s the WalesOnline version.

♦ end ♦

 

 

Weep for Wales 11

As promised, here’s the latest instalment in the Paul and Rowena Williams Against the World saga (for that’s how it begins to look). I had considered postponing this update, but so much information is coming in that I have to publish before I’m overwhelmed.

Now I’ll say what I always say at this point: if you want the story (so far!) then you’ll need to go back and work through Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8, Weep for Wales 9 and Weep for Wales 10.

WHERE WE ARE

For those who don’t have time to read the previous ten episodes here’s a quick summary.

Paul Williams and his wife Rowena are two crooks who built up a property portfolio by dubious means and then sold those properties to themselves at insanely inflated valuations in order to obtain loans and mortgages well in excess of the properties’ true worth. This money of course they pocketed.

Soon after the phoney sales ‘ransom strips’ were detached from the properties and allocated to other titles. These properties were held by Leisure & Development Ltd, a company now in administration.

Paul and Rowena Williams, click to enlarge

This portfolio included properties in Cornwall and Northumbria but the gang’s ‘heartland’ was Powys and over the border in Shropshire and Herefordshire.

They next branched out into Gwynedd, buying the woebegone Fronoleu hotel and restaurant near Dolgellau, the Seiont Manor Hotel at Llanrug, and the impressive Plas Glynllifon near Llandwrog. Posing as major property investors they also strung people along by showing interest in Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, but after the truth emerged about them they were unable to raise the money to complete the purchase.

Realising the game was up, and having pissed off just about everyone they ever dealt with in the March they severed their ties and physically removed themselves to the Realm of Eagles.

In a further attempt to wash their hands of things Paul and Rowena Williams went through the charade of selling their Leisure & Development Ltd property portfolio for £11m to old friend, and convicted fraudster, Keith Partridge.

Having introduced Keith Partridge there are other characters we’ve met along the way who are worthy of mention. There’s Paul Williams’ sister, Debra Oswald, who seems to slip in and out of this saga, having served as director, partner, accountant, even creditor.

Paul and Debra’s father Michael has a hotel business in Goa. (Though it may have been struck off.) It would be interesting to know how he gets on with the locals, because on issues of race and colour he is said to have been expelled from the KKK for being too racist.

We’ve already met one fraudster in the form of Keith Partridge, another in the ensemble is the Williams’ accountant John Duggan. And if that wasn’t enough, the Waves Bar in Cornwall is run for them by Stuart Paul Cooper, of whom more later.

Then there’s faithful Rikki Reynolds, who runs the Seiont Manor. He drinks too much, he is dependent on drugs, but they keep him on. I refuse to believe the rumour that this may have something to do with Rikki being close to Rowena.

Not to be overlooked is Dudley Cross. His Linkedin profile would have us believe that he works for property specialists Lambert Smith Hampton, but he’s been involved with Paul and Rowena Williams for many years. He served as a director (until 01.02.2018) of Leisure & Development Ltd, and even donned his peaked cap to act as guide for Plas Glynllifon’s open day in June.

It is widely believed that it was his – and perhaps more especially, LSH’s – imprimatur that persuaded lenders to accept the absurd valuations we shall soon examine in more detail.

click to enlarge

In addition to being crooks, the Williams couple and Rikki Reynolds are repulsive individuals. They take pleasure in humiliating people. It sometimes seems that their greatest pleasure is derived from hurting those least able to defend themselves.

One such case was the treatment meted out to a kitchen porter at the Seiont Manor, a man with learning difficulties who had worked there for over twenty years, but Rowena Williams wanted him out.

It ended at an Employment Tribunal in September where the man was awarded £27,907.42 . . . money he is unlikely ever to see.

As might be expected, these odious creatures have been funded by the ‘Welsh Government’ and have received one uncritical report after another from the ‘Welsh’ media, with Owen Hughes of the Daily Post deserving of special mention.

Now read on.

PSST! WANNA BUY A HOTEL, GOIN’ CHEAP?’

So what have I got for you this time? Quite a lot as it happens.

First, let’s remind ourselves that the empire is crumbling and apart from the Gwynedd properties and a few outliers everything else seems to be in the hands of receivers and up for sale.

Those receivers being RSM, who are now selling the properties through the company Colliers. Click on the links for details for each of the properties: The Salutation Inn (and caravan site), near Berwick; The Waves Bar, in Cornwall; The Bird in Hand, Ironbridge; The Castle Inn (and caravan park), Wigmore; The Knighton Hotel, Knighton; The Radnorshire Arms Hotel, Presteigne.

Let us focus on the two Powys properties, as we have for most of this saga. You will recall that these properties were sold by Paul and Rowena Williams to Leisure & Development Ltd, and the prices they claimed to have paid in 2015 were £2,881,599 for the Knighton and £3,487,049 for the Radnorshire.

Radnorshire Arms Hotel, Presteigne, click to enlarge

RSM is now recommending sale prices of £550,000 (-£2,331,599) for the Knighton and £700,000 (-£2,787,049) for the Radnorshire. That’s a fall of £5,118,648 . . . and of course RSM might not even get the prices they’re suggesting, because there are plenty of pubs and hotels for sale at the moment, then there’s Brexit looming, maybe a general election . . .

How do we account for such a massive drop in valuations?

As I explained, the earlier valuations were dreamed up in order to get loans and mortgages for properties that Paul and Rowena Williams already owned, but pretended to buy through Leisure & Development Ltd.

Equally fictitious was the sale of those properties earlier this year for £11m to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge.

Which is how we end up in the bizarre position of Paul and Rowena Williams appearing as creditors to the tune of £11m of the company they claim to have sold to Part(d)ridge.

But then, there’s a certain symmetry to all this. Because if you can sell something to yourself why can’t you owe yourself money?

The only good news for Paul and Rowena Williams might be that Dyfed Powys Police are not pressing charges. Though quite what Plod was investigating in relation to “the sudden closure of hotels” previously owned by Paul and Rowena Williams is a mystery.

The only clue in the Daily Post report is “Tourism Investment Support Scheme grants”, which was never a runner.

FRESH NEWS, SAME OLD STORY

As I said earlier, I’ve received a steady trickle of information about Paul and Rowena Williams and their gang. Here are just some of the things I’ve been told since the previous instalment.

From an anonymous source:

“She (Rowena Williams) may well be autistic . . . She is morally empty, and I think that her son —— (who is a lovely lad) really deserves a more honest set of parents . . . I realise that this doesn’t really count as a story, but I was so annoyed at the Radnorshire Arms ending up like it is that I wrote to you . . . I was actually hurt by the experience . . . Please keep up the good work!”

A recent comment to Weep for Wales 9:

click to enlarge

Message to my ‘Contact Me’ box:

“Message: before i start I wish to remain anonymous about what I say. from November 2016, to November 17, I worked as ————————– for rural retreats and leisure, I can comfirn that HMRC had in fact been in touch with the Williams’s prior, as in july 2017, myself, and all the other live in staff of the knighton hotel, where subject to an investigation, regarding how our rent was paid. after HMRC had come back with the decision that there had been wrong doings in regard to how our rent was being taken. they told the Williams’s that we were owed back pay, as they were taking rent out of our wages as a deduction of wage, not as actual rent, of which became clear that I was being paid below the national minimum wage. shortly after this, the Williams’s slowly starting to dispose of us. myself being fired for gross misconduct on made up allegations with no evidence whatsoever. they practically forced a family of 4 to find a new house in the area, and pushed the head chef in an attempt to get him to quit, effectively taking us all out of the equation. I have been following all of your weep for wales, and everything you have said makes complete sense. on the outside, Rowena pushes a persona of care for staff, but on the inside, both of them are only looking out for them selves. I hope this interests you in your continuing saga.”

(A source with inside information was able to tell me that the total amount owed to staff was £58,594.)

Something you soon learn about Paul Williams and the “morally empty” Rowena is that they don’t like paying staff, suppliers, tradesmen, anybody. What’s theirs is theirs . . . and what’s yours is also theirs.

It seems that creditors were encouraged to have meals and drinks at Paul and Rowena Williams’ establishments, with the cost then deducted from the amount they were owed. One source tells me of walking into the bar of the Knighton Hotel one time and seeing nine creditors quaffing away!

Just picture it! Barmaid: ‘Another large whisky, Mr Jones? That’ll be £76, and it brings the amount Mr Williams owes you down to £5,732.68 – you’ll soon be owing him!’

There is something surreal about such a scene, though trying to turn your creditors into alcoholics has a certain logic – they might forget about the debt!

And of course, another twist is that Paul Williams wasn’t paying for the booze anyway! I’ve heard one sad story of a rep from Molson Coors being threatened with physical violence for daring to ask for the money he was owed.

A documented example I can give of Williams not paying his debts arrived last week from Grafters Group Ltd, a company that supplies staff to hotels. This company eventually had to resort to court proceedings in the hope of getting the money owed by Paul and Rowena Williams. Needless to say, they’re still waiting.

Take Jac’s advice: If you’re selling to these buggers, supplying goods or doing work for them – make sure you’re paid in cash, up front, and then check the notes to make sure they’re genuine.

A number of times in this series I’ve mentioned the distressed Fronoleu hotel and restaurant at Tabor, outside Dolgellau, bought by Paul Williams at auction in 2015 for over £300,000 and paid for in cash.  I also mentioned a seven-bedroom house alongside Fronoleu. Through another new source, I now know who lives there.

Fronoleu, click to enlarge

This person works for Paul Williams at the Seiont Manor, and as with so many other employees false declarations are made with regard to wages in order to save Paul and Rowena Williams money and cheat HMRC.

And yet, it seems Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs are aware of the Williams Gang’s tricks but are reluctant to move against them.

THE UGLIER SIDE

Paul and Rowena Williams are so transparently dishonest, so blatantly corrupt, that it’s difficult not to laugh at them, but there is a nastier side to the operation.

We’ve seen that the Waves Bar in Cornwall is for sale, with RSM asking for “offers in excess of £500,000”. Which seems reasonable, as it comes with “five apartments and a shop”. Though few things are straightforward with Williams, and the Waves Bar is no exception, for I’m told there are questions over the ownership of some of those apartments.

For some time now the Waves Bar has been run by Stuart Paul Cooper. Another associate with a colourful past. He came unstuck in 2012 when working as a debt collector. This Insolvency Service document suggests he then went on the lam.

Cooper eventually appeared in court and was sent down for three years in 2014. Later that year Companies House disqualified him from being a director until November 2022.

But of course none of this was an obstacle to him being employed by Paul and Rowena Williams. Being a fraudster with a penchant for violence made Stuart Paul Cooper the kind of recruit they look for.

Picture courtesy of RSM, click to enlarge

The latest news from Cornwall says that Cooper is behaving true to form. He recruits young staff, overworks them, underpays them, sacks them, and when they come asking for what they’re owed he threatens to kill them and anyone who dares to speak up for them.

Where the takings go from the Waves Bar is a good question. For there is a suspicion that since the collapse of Leisure & Development Ltd Cooper may be flying solo. Another question is whether suppliers are being paid.

But what really puzzles me is why liquidators RSM allow Cooper to remain at The Waves Bar, because the reputational damage this man is doing will not be put right by an ‘Under New Management’ sign.

A CAST OF CROOKS, THUGS AND SHYSTERS

You’ve met the leading players in this story, I’ve given you examples of what they’ve done and how they behave. I’m sure that like me you’re wondering why they aren’t behind bars where they belong.

For some reason the police, HMRC and others seem to look benignly on ‘white collar’ crime, they may even persuade themselves that such offences are ‘victimless’. But that’s wrong.

This gang has lied and cheated for years, and it’s not just banks and other lenders that have lost out. Decent, hard-working people – often vulnerable people – have been exploited, cheated of money they were owed, thrown onto the street, and put in fear of their lives when they sought redress.

From a social media account of a Williams gang employee, click to enlarge

But these gangsters laugh at us all as they drive around in their new Range Rovers and their Beemers with personalised number plates. They take us all for mugs.

There is something very wrong with the legal system of Englandandwales that it allows such people to go unpunished, and to prosper. It’s a system providing courts and tribunals that say, ‘Yes, we agree that these bastards owe you money, we’ll even fix the amount . . . but there’s nothing we can do to make them pay’.

While police and governmental agencies look the other way when criminal offences are brought to light.

We obviously need a different system; a better system; a Welsh system.

UPDATE 03.12.2018: Soon after publishing I had a rush of e-mails from Companies House. Paul Williams ceased to be the ‘Person with significant control’ for both Plas Glynllifon Ltd and Rural Retreats & Development Ltd on November 30. Myles Andrew Cunliffe is a new director of both companies.

Cunliffe is also a director of Lifestyle 4U Finance Ltd, net current assets -£3,949; Get Me Finance Ltd, net current assets £11,648, with the website telling us that this company offers finance to those with a poor credit rating, and Paul Williams definitely falls into that category; and finally there’s Mylo Capital Ltd, Incorporated 20 September 2017.

Myles has been a busy boy in 2018. Between April and August he became a director of, and is is now sole director of: Pacha Sunderland Ltd; Etaireia Holdings Ltd (a company with a Scottish number); Girvan Dev Ltd; and Pacha Cleator Ltd. Then in October it was Network Transport and Logistics.co.uk Ltd.

Among Cunliffe’s previous successes we find Goldmann & Sons (Portugal) Ltd, with Companies House awaiting documents; J D Finance Ltd, wound up in 2007; Welcome 2 Car Finance Ltd, struck off in 2016; and H.O.H. Assets Ltd, also struck off in 2016.

I’m sure young Myles will be a colourful addition to the cast.

FURTHER UPDATE 03.12.2018: A message to my ‘Contact Me’ box reads: “Im told paul is telling workmen that work available as he got a mortgage on the 30th nov”.

I think we can safely rule out any possibility of Paul Williams getting a mortgage or a loan from a reputable lender, so it’s reasonable to assume that any fresh money is linked with the arrival on the scene of Myles Andrew Cunliffe.

♦ end ♦

APOLOGY: I’m sitting on a number of good stories that I’m just unable to do justice to because I don’t have the time. Please understand that I’m not deliberately ignoring anyone, but as a one-man band with family and other commitments there’s only so much I can do.