I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
Over the years I’ve read a lot of political nonsense and outright bullshit in the Western Mail, much of it emanating from the Labour Party. But all records were broken on Friday, February 26, 2021 when Llais y Sais gave us a sneak preview of a speech to be delivered by First Minister Mark Drakeford.
To help you fully appreciate the levels of dishonesty contained in the speech I shall produce the offending article and then walk you through it paragraph by numbered paragraph.
Let’s start with the headline and the opening paragraphs. Home rule within the UK is impossible, for without a written constitution it could, like devolution, be undone at any time. (Come to that, how does ‘home rule’ differ from devolution?)
And even with a written constitution, an unequal Union such as the UK allows the dominant partner to do what it damn well likes. As England has for centuries.
No, let’s be honest, home rule is an unworkable nonsense. The truth is that Labour in Wales is alarmed by the possibilities unveiled by the Internal Market Act, which allows London to ignore the devolution settlement almost entirely.
Home rule would have offered no defence against the Internal Market Act.
Though Labour’s hostility to this Act was not prompted by thoughts of what’s best for Wales but by the fear that Boris Johnson and his mates might start threatening Labour’s hegemony in Wales, and the crony networks the party has built up over the past 22 years.
Now let’s go through the rest of the article, focusing on the more interesting paragraphs.
PARAGRAPH 4: “Internationalist not nationalist. Outward facing, not inward looking”, says Drakeford. Now this could either be a call to arms and a commitment to global humanity or a pathetic justification for having done nothing for Wales for the 22 years of devolution.
Because we’re dealing with ‘Welsh’ Labour, it is of course the latter.
Wales is the poorest country in Europe. Not so long ago I would have said ‘Western Europe’, but now the countries of the former Soviet bloc have caught us up and in many cases overtaken us.
The truth is that ‘Welsh’ Labour and its so-called ‘Welsh Government’ should be doing a lot more looking inward; then they might appreciate this country’s problems, its real needs, and address them before riding off on Quixotic crusades to save the planet.
PARAGRAPHS 5 & 6: These continue in the same toe-curling vein, with the predictable use of, “progressive” (‘pass my revolver, wife!’), and even “destiny”!
Though, chwarae teg, I did agree with, “Yes to a Wales that takes ownership of its own destiny” . . . but home rule ain’t gonna deliver that.
PARAGRAPH 7: Drakeford believes the coming Senedd election is a contest unlike any other. Indeed it is, and it could be his last. Go for it, Neil!
PARAGRAPH 8: This is where we learn that Labour has a new strapline – ‘Moving Wales Forward’. God! I wish I’d thought of that!
Can’t you just hear kids shouting it as they whizz by on their bikes! Young women having it tattooed on their intimate parts! Football and rugby crowds – when they’re allowed back, of course – chanting it on the terraces!
What a response to all those who want to move us back. Though Nationalists like me also want to move forward, to independence; and even the anti-Welsh mob want to move forward, by consigning devolution to the dustbin of failed political initiatives. (Where it belongs.)
When you think about it, the only ones who want to stand still, maintain the status quo, are the devolutionists, and where are they to be found? Er, in the Labour Party.
PARAGRAPHS 9 – 12: Here it’s appeals to, ” . . . our tenacity . . . our institutions and sense of social solidarity . . . characteristics that will shape . . . generations to come”. Then it’s, “from the coal field (sic) to the rugby field . . . work together . . . shared experience . . .”.
The kind of vacuous rambling that would shame a be-medalled Latin American caudillo.
PARAGRAPHS 13 – 16: I was obviously unfair in suggesting that 22 years of devolution under ‘Welsh’ Labour has been a disaster – for we are a “world leader in recycling”!
That will be a great consolation to those queuing at food banks, and those being forced out of the communities in which they were born and raised, and where they’d hoped to die.
Twice we see the “National Forest” mentioned. Does this mean that the ‘Welsh Government’ has a plan to develop a forestry industry in Wales, generating wealth, creating jobs, and sustaining communities?
Don’t be silly, Jac, it’s, “for people to further enjoy Wales’ natural beauty”. In other words – more fucking tourism! But worse, this project could also be seen as meeting the demands of Monbiot and his disciples, those who want to dispossess our farmers and take over their land.
The war on farmers becomes clear again with, “tackling agricultural pollution”, presumably into our waterways. Yet most of the pollution in our rivers has nothing to do with agriculture.
Of course this truth does not serve the ‘Welsh Government’s anti-farming agenda. Consequently, it will never be admitted by Natural Resources Wales, or Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. And certainly not by Lesley’s civil servant lover Gary Haggaty.
But I suppose what pissed me off most in this section was the reference to “investment in new green jobs”. This is not new, we’ve been hearing it for over twenty years. But how many jobs has ‘green energy’ created?
Think of the massive Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, one of the largest in Europe. Does it employ any local people? Certainly, no jobs were provided at earlier stages because the towers, motors, and blades were made in Germany and Denmark.
The only real benefits the local community sees is the £1.8m doled out every year as a Community Fund by the owner of the wind farm, Swedish company Vattenfall. Which only makes me wonder how much of a killing Vattenfall is making.
This Community Fund is just crumbs from our own table.
Despite Labour claiming for two decades or more that renewables would create jobs, and be a great boost to the Welsh economy, the reality is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has simply allowed Wales to be exploited, with no benefits at all for us.
It’s no longer coal mines, slate quarries, or dams and reservoirs, it’s wind and solar farms, and wave energy. But Wales continues to be exploited by strangers.
Therefore only a fool would believe Labour’s promise to deliver in the future what it has already been promising to deliver for so long. ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’.
PARAGRAPHS 17 – 22: Here, gentle reader, we reach new heights of hifalutin vacuity before plumbing the depths of cringe-inducing attempts at eloquence.
Though it started encouragingly, because when I read “generations who come after us” I thought at first it was a reference to Burke’s Contract, but no.
This is followed by. “We are so lucky in our country, to have all the natural resources we need to put Wales at the forefront of the global energy revolution which the world will need: wind, water and wave”.
And here, Drakeford is absolutely right – we do have all these resources! But we don’t own any of them. They don’t generate wealth or jobs for us. For as I say, that’s because ‘Welsh’ Labour encourages strangers to exploit our homeland as if it was some 19th century African ‘possession’.
Then comes the empty promise of jobs, again. Before we are exhorted to, ” . . . make our contribution to securing the future of our beautiful but fragile planet”.
(Cue violins and rustling Kleenex.)
This sententious drivel exposes where Labour has gone wrong and how it has failed Wales.
Saving the planet – as if we could! – has done nothing for us. The promised jobs never materialised. Even if they had materialised we would have been working for foreign companies because Labour does not want successful Welsh companies, with Welsh businessmen regularly exposing the bruvvers’ idiocies.
No, Labour wants the quiet life of foreign companies uninterested in Welsh politics and a third sector of Labour cronies forever finding problems for Labour to fund while blaming someone else.
But nothing exposes the reality of Wales today, and Labour’s shortcomings, more than the fact that nowhere in Drakeford’s waffle does he say, ‘Vote for us on our record’.
All he can offer is pie in the sky, recycled promises on green jobs, and more saving the planet. Nowhere does he talk of what really matters to most Welsh people: health, education, jobs (that might actually materialise), and housing they can afford.
Labour has pandered to certain alien lobbies at the expense of the Welsh people for too long, and this cannot go on. Labour must be removed from power in May.
And remember! a vote for Plaid Cymru is a vote to keep Labour in power.
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 know I promised a piece on Wales & West Housing, but I’ve put that on the back burner because something has cropped up. And anyway, W&W is not going away. (Unfortunately.) So that will be my next post.
PLAID CYMRU KEEPS ON DIGGING
The previous post on this blog, Plaid Cymru’s new girl, was about Sonia Klein who, just a few months ago, was trying to be the Labour candidate for Ilford South in December’s general election. So she and her husband must have surprised many people with their decision to join Plaid Cymru.
Inevitably, Ms Klein was welcomed into Plaid Cymru by Leanne Wood.
I say, ‘inevitably’, because Ms Klein ticks so many boxes for Plaid Cymru. She is a ‘strong woman’, she is BAME, and she is also a socialist.
Just a few days later it leaked out that Plaid Cymru had re-admitted Sahar Al-Faifi, who had also been welcomed into the Party by Leanne Wood. Ms Al-Faifi ticks the same boxes as Ms Klein.
Now members of the Jewish community have urged Plaid Cymru to rethink its position on Sahar Al-Faifi, but Plaid has responded by adopting the, ‘It was all a long time ago’ defence. Which is not going to work.
Plaid Cymru is in this mess of its own making because despite Adam Price’s victory in the 2018 leadership contest, a contest in which Leanne Wood came a dismal third, it is still Wood’s supporters calling the shots in the party. So keep looking to the skies for more parachutists.
A number of long-time Plaid Cymru members who thought they were the agreed regional candidate for the 2021 election might be in for a nasty shock. Those who aren’t outed as fascist transphobes and closet Trump fans might be displaced by bearded ‘Olga’, formerly of the Bulgarian Workers and Peasants Alliance.
A very strong woman!
BRYN LLYS BACH
I’ve written a few times about the criminal gang who’ve taken over this site at Nebo, near Caernarfon.
Anyone wanting to catch up should go to this post from November, 2018, and the section ‘Rockin’ to the right’. Then, on to this post from January last year and scroll down to the section headed ‘Shane Baker “the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo” and Jonathan Duggan’.
That was followed by this post in July, scroll down to the section ‘Planners’. Next, this post from August, under ‘Gwynedd Planners’. The gang also gets a mention here, in December, in ‘Bryn Llys’. Finally here, last month, also under ‘Bryn Llys’.
Not satisfied with exceeding planning permission to build an ‘extension’ that soon dwarfed the old house (which was then demolished), or with destroying trees and hedgerows, while continually threatening neighbours and trying to steal land, the gang has now gone a step further with arson and wasting police and fire brigade time.
Last Tuesday someone set an old Land Rover afire at Bryn Llys. It is reported that one of the gang, posing as a ‘passer-by’, phoned the fire service. A large machine was sent which could not negotiate the narrow track to Bryn Llys.
Which was the whole point of this act of arson, done in the hope of establishing that the access to Bryn Llys should be widened. Which would allow the crooks there to use large vehicles to bring in machinery and materials so they can move on to their plans for the rest of the site.
(I’m told that the chief fire officer from Caernarfon inspected the site some two years ago and stated that a ‘narrow access vehicle’ would attend any emergency at Bryn Llys. Maybe the word hadn’t been passed down the chain of command.)
The fire re-started on Wednesday and two fire engines and a police car attended.
I have been sent some images which are available below.
Following these incidents a concerned local wrote to Plaid Cymru-controlled Gwynedd County Council, which has been reluctant to get involved throughout this sorry saga.
The council’s response said:
‘Thank you for your emails of the 25 and 26 February 2020 in respect of the above.
I acknowledge your concerns regarding vehicle fires at this site and note that these matters are being dealt with by the Fire Service as well as the Police.
Furthermore, I would advise that the issue of illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales.
From the Council’s perspective, we have taken formal planning enforcement action with the service of enforcement notices for the various breaches of planning control at this site. The Enforcement Notices relate to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, the temporary residential building and the unauthorised engineering works to create a track at the property.
The Council is currently undertaking prosecution proceedings for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, with the trial set for the 10 and 11 March 2020 in the Magistrates’ Courts, Llandudno. Furthermore, we are also considering further possible enforcement action for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the temporary residential building.
With regards to the Enforcement Notice for the unauthorised access track works, an appeal against this notice has recently been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (Welsh Government). There is a prescribed procedure for planning enforcement appeals, which includes public consultation and there will therefore be an opportunity for you and any other interested parties to provide representations as part of this process which will commence shortly.
From the Council’s perspective, I consider that we are taking the appropriate enforcement action in accordance with what the legislation allows us to do in respect of breaches of planning control.’
I’m not sure what to make of this. I suppose it’s reassuring to know that these crooks will be in court in a week or so, but there’s no mention of action for exceeding planning permission with the monstrosity that’s been built, nor for demolishing the old house.
Also reassuring, I suppose, to read that the police are involved regarding the fire, but then we read, ” . . . illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales”.
‘Illegal disposal’, be buggered! This was a calculated act of arson that could have had serious consequences. It certainly resulted in the police and the fire service having to attend – twice! – when I’m sure there were other things they could have been doing.
Baker is said to be related to Duggan, and it was him who got me interested in Bryn Llys by responding to a tweet of mine. When Baker’s not fooling himself about his musical abilities he’s mumbling ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’ in crowd scenes.
Politically, as the Twitter image suggests, Baker’s very much a BritNat, and a Tommy Robinson fan, who may regard Wales as a colony to be exploited by the insular branch of the herrenvolk.
What a trio. The fraudster son of a professional fraudster, a Little Englander, and a property developer with a persecution complex. Though there’s one other gang member worth mentioning.
Andrew Battye owns Bryn Llys, and the land adjoining. Or rather, that’s what it says on the Land Registry title documents I’ve just linked to. And it’s what I used to believe, but I’m no longer so sure.
Refer back to the 2006 conviction of Duggan senior and we see that he owed at least £547,000, gained by fraud. This is the Duggan family business model.
Because if we look at the Companies House records for Battye and Duggan in recent years we see the same pattern. (Available here in pdf format with working links to Companies House entries.)
From what I can see, Duggan and Battye, either acting together or working alone, formed double glazing companies, these companies set up credit accounts with suppliers; goods were received, not paid for, and sold; then the companies folded.
However we got here, this farce has been allowed to run for long enough. Let’s hope the curtain starts coming down in Llandudno magistrates court next week. And then it would be nice to see GogPlod take it beyond planning matters to feel a few collars for fraud, arson, wasting police and fire service time, threatening neighbours, damaging hedgerows, felling mature trees, etc.
Things have got this far due to the inaction over recent years of the local planning department. The planning department that said a teacher couldn’t build a home when she couldn’t afford to buy in Wilmslow-sur-Mer (Abersoch). The planning department that has allowed criminals from England to do whatever they liked at Bryn Llys. That this planning department has moved at all is due to pressure from bullied neighbours demanding action.
‘WOODMAN, SPARE THAT TREE!’
The recent floods have inevitably been attributed to global warming or climate change by most of the mainstream media and all the bien pensants of the left. Being the heretic I am on such matters I dared posit an alternative view.
Which runs thus . . . yes, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past few weeks but might wind turbines be contributing to the serious flooding in places that have previously been less badly affected?
Two areas in particular brought these thoughts to mind, our Valleys and the areas in England close to the River Severn.
Because – and you can call me old-fashioned, or even uninformed – I’m suggesting that we cannot fell millions of trees on our hills, wreck absorbent peat bogs, then, in their place, plonk dozens or hundreds of wind turbines, and not expect more rainwater to run into the rivers below those hills.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, the picture below shows the size of the concrete bowl required by a single wind turbine. These are the pictures you’re not supposed to see. You, Dai Public, are expected to feel a warm, planet-saving glow from seeing gently turning turbines on some distant crest.
And remember! each turbine is linked by an access road, giving a network of such roads on a wind farm. And each turbine has to be connected to the grid, which requires another network, this time of trenches.
So what was once a hillside covered in moss and peat absorbing rainwater, and trees sequestering CO2, has been destroyed to make an industrial site off which the water runs into the valleys below. And this has all been done in the name of the environment, of ‘saving the planet’!
A old mate of mine back home – a known trouble-maker – decided to find out how many trees had been cut to make way for wind turbines, and so he submitted an FoI to Natural Resources Wales. The response was startling. (It can be read in full here.)
Here’s an abstract.
First, bear in mind that NRW can only tell us what trees were felled on land for which it is responsible, the former Forestry Commission estate, which only accounts for 40% of Wales’ woodland. Yet it still comes to over 2.5 million trees felled. Three-quarters of a million of them for the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, owned by Swedish company Vattenfall, which towers over a number of Valleys communities
You’ll see that NRW has nothing to say for Powys, which has seen so much wind farm development in recent years. This is because the woodlands there are privately owned. And yet, the Severn rises on Pumlumon, not far from the Cefn Croes wind farm (owned by an Italian company), and then it runs through Newtown and Welshpool to join the Vyrnwy and cross the border just a bun throw from Elsie’s Vintage Tea Room & Pie Parlour.
And now we hear of yet another major development of 22 turbines planned for Powys, this one by French company EDF, at Garn Fach, between the A470 and the A483. I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘Welsh Government’ handle this one.
And what does the Woodland Trust have to say – will it allow EDF to chop down its trees at Garn Fach? Perhaps Woodland Trust is one of the landowners to benefit if this project goes ahead?
It seems to me that the eco-zealots need to pause, and do some hard thinking.
On the one hand they urge us to plant trees – even proposing to throw Welsh farmers off their land – because this would be good for the environment.
But it’s OK to fell millions of trees in Wales to make way for wind turbines . . . which almost certainly contribute to flooding. Flooding that will then be blamed on global warming/climate change, so the eco-zealots will insist on erecting more wind turbines . . . for which more trees will be felled and more peat bog lost . . . resulting in more flooding . . . .
I may not be 100% right on this, I rarely am, but I will say this with confidence: when it comes to the recent floods, then wind turbines are the elephant in the room.
I’m sure that many of you have been following this case on Ynys Môn. I certainly have. If you’re new to the case, then read this article from Saturday’s Wasting Mule.
There was never any doubt that Terence Whall was guilty and that he was going down for life. The real questions remain:
What was the motive for Terence Whall killing Gerald Corrigan?
What is Whall’s background in East London/Essex and what brought him to Ynys Môn?
What was the true role of Whall’s associates, the locals, in this case?
Is this murder just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as has been suggested to me?
Is this conviction the end of the case as far as North Wales Police is concerned?
If we had a functioning media we could rely on it to chase down the facts, the background to this murder, but we don’t have a media.
If we did, they might wonder why Gerald Corrigan’s children needed to give evidence from behind a screen protecting their identities. The man who killed their father is going down for at least 31 years, so who are they afraid of? Or from whom do the police think they need to be protected?
The last time I remember evidence being given from behind a screen in a Welsh courtroom was in the early 1990s, and then it was MI5 operatives in a trial of Welsh nationalists accused of sending letter bombs.
If anyone wants to send me information relating to this case then they are welcome to do so. I promise not to divulge any source.
END OF FARMING?
Another subject I’ve written about more than once is the plan to gradually remove farmers from the land so that George Monbiot and his friends can take over the Welsh countryside with their ‘rewilding’ projects. (Just type ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box at the top of the sidebar.)
But this respite might be short-lived if recent reports are to be believed.
We always knew that Monbiot and his gang had the backing of the ‘Welsh Government’ which, being Labour, hates country-dwellers in general, and farmers in particular, believing that rural Wales should accept its designated fate as a recreation and retirement area for England.
And in case anyone didn’t get the message, it was soon followed up with this . . .
Yes, I know, the left and the eco-zealots will say, ‘Ah! but it’s the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday’. To which I would respond – Grow up! If the facts hold up it doesn’t matter if the story originated in Völkischer Beobachter or the Plovdiv Marrow Growers Weekly.
The Mail titles are most definitely Conservative-supporting papers, which I suggest adds to their credibility in this instance.
Some of the arguments put forward in support of doing away with farming are quite hilarious. One ‘expert’ cites Singapore, arguing that it is prosperous without a farming sector. But Singapore is a bloody city-state of just 725.7 square kilometres and almost six million people. (Wales is 20,735 square kilometres and 3.2 million people.)
And then we read “Ben Goldsmith, for his part, caused fury among farmers this week by tweeting that ‘overgrazing’ by upland sheep farmers — rather than near-record rainfall — was responsible for the devastating floods suffered in South Wales.”
Read who else is involved and a picture might emerge.
If farming is phased out it will be small farmers, and the family farm, that disappear. Big landowners will thrive, snapping up the farms made unviable by the decisions made by their friends and relatives in the government.
And of course we’ll see more wind turbines and other idiocies cheered on by the eco-zealots – but making fortunes in government subsidies for the very same people who’ll benefit from the destruction of Welsh farming.
Think about it, we have here what at first sight might appear to be two distinct groups – the environmentalists and the Conservative grandees. Surely, they should be on opposite sides? No.
If there’s money to be made then these members of the English upper-middle class, who know each other from school and university, Wimbledon and Henley; who move and marry within the same circles, will stick together.
The external enemies remain the same, and there’s not much we can do but resist them. But we can certainly remove the toadies in Corruption Bay who are so ready to do their masters’ bidding.
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
A bit of a mixed bag this week; the unifying thread being the stupidity of those puffed-up buffoons down Cardiff docks who want to be seen as the ‘Welsh Government’.
SOCIAL HOUSING, OR IS IT?
To kick off, I am indebted to the meticulous and conscientious Wynne Jones, who is a great source for ‘Welsh Government’ wrongdoing and local cock-ups down Cardigan way. For it’s in the fair town of Aberteifi that we start.
With Cardigan Hospital, which was built and long sustained by the donations and goodwill of people in the town and surrounding area. But now it’s deemed surplus to the requirements of Hywel Dda University Health Board and the building is to be handed over to one of Labour’s favourite housing associations, Wales and West.
Though the lack of openness has not gone down well locally. The sale to Wales and West seems to be a done deal, yet the details are vague in the extreme. When Wynne asked for information on the quoted ‘open market valuation’ the response to his FoI said that it, er, hadn’t actually been done . . . but they were working on it, sort of.
Clearly, this is a deal done behind closed doors in the glorious traditions of the Labour Party. And not for the first time; for since taking over Tai Cantref, of Castell Newydd Emlyn, Wales and West has been flexing its muscles in the area.
And while it may be headquartered in Cardiff Wales and West, fittingly, also has an office in Labour’s last remaining Westminster constituency in the north, at Ewloe on Deeside.
The latest news is that a drop-in session has been organised for the end of this month in which, according to the Tivy-side Advertiser, “The people of Cardigan will be asked for their views on how best to use the site of the former Cardigan Hospital”.
According to the article W&W is still in talks with Hywel Dda Health Authority over buying the hospital. So if it still owns the hospital why isn’t Hywel Dda organising the public consultation?
All pretence goes out the window later in the article when Wales and West bigwigs explain what they plan to do . . . with the building they haven’t yet bought!
All joking aside, social housing is now in crisis.
Many will recall the campaigns persuading council house tenants to agree to stock transfers, so that housing associations could take over. Most Welsh councils lost their housing stock in this way to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).
Which gave us dozens of housing associations, spending hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, competing with each other, and swallowing each other up. Having the ear of the Labour Party in this dog-eat-dog environment was always an advantage.
This was bad news all round. For it would have meant that RSLs’ debts would have gone onto the UK Government’s books. Putting them in the public sector might also have resulted in more openness, perhaps making housing associations subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Which resulted in RSLs becoming private bodies, but still in receipt of public funding! If they hadn’t already done so then they set up subsidiaries – unregulated offshoots building homes for sale on the open market, often using public money siphoned from the parent company.
The justification for building houses and flats to be sold in this way was that the money made would be transferred to the parent body for it to build more social housing.
It was a lie.
Just think about. If Tai Cwmscwt has a spare £5m why ‘lend’ it to a subsidiary and get back a percentage when it could have spent the whole £5m on social housing. And if there’s no demand for social housing then obviously Tai Cwmscwt is over-funded.
The truth is that very little of the money made by the subsidiaries of privatised RSLs is used to build social housing. Most of it goes back into building more private housing. In rural and coastal areas this housing isn’t even intended to meet a Welsh demand. It’s simple profiteering, building properties to be used as holiday and retirement homes, or sold to ‘investors’.
All of which results in a shortfall in social housing in many areas. Which is why Swansea council has started building council houses again. In the article I’ve linked to you’ll see that “four registered social housing landlords are planning to build 4,000 affordable homes across the county over the next 10 years”.
This is another lie.
‘Affordable’ is a meaningless term used by politicians and others that can cover properties costing £300,000. And as I’ve explained, the now privatised RSLs will be building open market housing not social housing.
We are obviously at a crossroads in the provision of social housing, by which I mean properties available for local people at rents they can afford.
The biggest asset for many private housing associations, the income from which helps fund the private building spree, is the stock of housing that was transferred from a local authority. (Or in the case of Mid Wales Housing, the Development Board for Rural Wales.)
Should these stock transfers stay with what are now private companies?
Let’s end with a few questions:
What is the future role of the now privatised RSLs?
Will the ‘Welsh Government’ continue to fund private RSLs?
With RSLs concentrating on private developments how does the ‘Welsh Government’ plan to provide an adequate supply of good quality rented social housing at affordable rents?
If the rented social housing role is to revert to local authorities, will the ‘Welsh Government’ arrange to return the housing stock lost in stock transfers?
OLD DEFENSIBLE BARRACKS REVISITED
The week before last I published a couple of pieces looking at the purchase of the Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock, which I believe links to similar sites in England and Northern Ireland that have been bought by the same Singapore-based investors.
My view is that the three sites – all close to ferry ports – have been bought in anticipation of the need, with increased border checks, for large areas where lorries and other vehicles can be parked while waiting for those checks to be done.
Since writing the second of those pieces I’ve updated it, and further information has come to light, hence this third piece.
First, after Old Defensible Barracks 2 went out 5 February the Western Mail ran a full-page spread on the 11th. (Here in pdf format.)
Obviously this article was a press hand-out because when the journalist tried to add a personal touch she located the barracks in Milford Haven not Pembroke Dock.
Since writing those pieces I’ve spoken to one of the previous owners, who had an interesting tale to tell.
The barracks went up for auction last summer with Allsop. A few parties showed interest but no sale resulted. Instead, Allsop themselves produced a mystery buyer. Which perhaps explains the ‘Sold after’ caption you see below.
The vendor had no idea who the buyer was, but the sale went through 22 August and the money was in the bank. You’ll recall that despite the passage of six months since the sale the title document at the Land Registry still showed the previous owners.
Why this reluctance to tell us who now owns this property?
As I’ve said, the theory that I and a few others have, is that the barracks themselves are simply a ‘lever’ to something else, probably land nearby that could serve as a lorry park. But then, last week, another possibility was thrown into the mix – that the Milford Haven Waterway is destined to host one of the promised freeports.
Either option makes sense, and ties in with the Singapore investors at the three sites we looked at in the earlier pieces. For not only is Singapore home to many Asian ferry companies it is also the biggest freeport in the world.
In addition to the investors who are probably native to Singapore we found Trevor Iain Walker, said to be resident there. Whether he is or not is a moot point, Companies House just accepts what it’s told.
In addition to the UK listed companies there are two more, both registered in Florida. Muniment LLC shares its name with a number of Walkers’s UK companies. The other company, Audica Properties LLC, seems to have been started by Walker in 2014 and then, last year, he was joined by Robin Lim Siew Cheong, who could be another Singaporean investor.
The picture in Pembroke Dock isn’t clear yet, but these Singapore investors haven’t rocked up to enjoy the view of Neyland. Something is planned for the Dock and it links with Brexit. I suggest it’s either a lorry park or a freeport. Maybe both.
Watch this space!
THE GREEN ENERGY RIP-OFF
Because of my slant on certain issues some people think I’m opposed to renewable energy, or that I’m a climate change denier. The truth is that I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy – as long as it’s reliable and reasonably cheap; and I’m more of a sceptic than a denier when it comes to climate change.
But I am unequivocal in my hostility to charlatans and shysters, crooks and con men, who come to Wales to rip us off.
I suppose the basic problem is that Wales has many rivers and streams suitable for hydro projects, and countless hills that will attract those who erect wind turbines. Even so, these natural assets need not lead to us being exploited.
The exploitation happens because virtue-signalling politicians are desperate to show the world that little Wales is playing its part in saving the planet.
It is this desperation to get a pat on the head that opens the gates to the shysters.
Our next report takes up the coast from Pembroke Dock to another ferry port, at Holyhead, where a northern source suggests I take a look at a company in receipt of mucho dinero from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.
The company in question is Minesto, a Swedish company hoping to generate electricity from underwater ‘kites’. Here’s the company website.
There we read:
Certainly, the company has a presence in Sweden, because that’s where it’s based. Obviously, I can’t speak for Taiwan.
In Ireland the company’s existence was brief, perhaps no more than a separate listing for the company registered in England and Wales. And yet, according to the Minesto website and other sources the project at Strangford Lough is still running, so how is it being funded?
The sole director of Minesto UK Ltd is Martin Johan Edlund, with Goodwille Ltd serving as secretary. Goodwille takes its name from director George Alexander James Goodwille. The Swedish connection is maintained at Goodwille by director Svante Lennart Stensson Adde.
Before getting into the figures I’d just like to explore the linkages behind Minesto.
Let’s go back to the ‘About us’ panel above. It says that Minesto was founded in 2007 as a spin-off from Saab. That may have been what happened in Sweden, but Minesto UK Ltd was born in June 2008 when Keyrad Ltd, a company formed in 1996, changed its name.
The panel also says, “Main owners are BGA Invest and Midroc New Technology. The Minesto share is listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market in Stockholm.” Telling us that Minesto is wholly owned back in Sweden.
The Midroc link also suggests the underwater kite system belongs to that company.
If we go back to the Minesto website and the Projects tab, there we find Holyhead Deep, the name of Minesto’s Welsh venture. (There’s also a dormant company called Holyhead Deep Ltd, at the same Holyhead address, with the same Martin Edlund as the sole director.)
This website page explains why Minesto came to Wales: “Numerous locations around the UK were considered, but Wales was selected as the preferred option due to the highly suitable environmental conditions and government commitment to marine renewable energy, which offers significant opportunities to attract support and investment into the Holyhead project.”
To cut through the bullshit – the attraction was gullible politicians and easy money. With the panel below making clear that it’s already up to €27.9m.
The extract below from the latest accounts would appear to show that Minesto UK Ltd is entirely dependent on ‘Welsh Government’ funding. I’m surprised there’s no money coming from Sweden. Because I guarantee that – as with Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in the south – any profits will speed their way back to Sweden.
So here’s the question – does this investment provide tangible benefits for Ynys Môn and for Wales, or are our politicians paying, yet again, to have their egos massaged and their planet-saving credentials burnished?
With £23m+ handed over or promised, how many jobs have been created for local, Welsh people?
Given that the owners of Minesto UK Ltd are Swedish, and the patent for the technology is held by a Swedish company, what benefits will accrue to Wales if the technology proves successful?
And if it fails, the Swedes walk away without having lost anything while Wales is £23m+ out of pocket.
Is funding from Wales being diverted to the Minesto project in Northern Ireland?
Are there no better ways to have used £23m+ on Ynys Môn for the benefit of local communities?
UPDATE: My attention has been drawn to one of the logos at the foot of the Minesto website, the one for Horizon 2020, “. . . the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract.”
So where is the ‘private investment’ in Minesto UK Ltd? Is Welsh EU funding being used in place of the private money?
As I said earlier, I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy schemes, but they must be of benefit to Wales. But unfortunately they rarely are. Worse, much of what we experience could be viewed as colonialism for the 21st century.
Think of the massive wind farms such as Pen y Cymoedd (or the hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn) and the pittances offered to locals in compensation. It reminds me of Europeans in Africa or the Americas giving beads to ‘primitives’ in return for their assets or their land. Now we Welsh are the exploited primitives.
Yet we are supposed to welcome it because we’re saving the planet!
Those clowns in Corruption Bay, and their Westminster allies, who sold us short on water, and HS2, who talk Wales down and short-change us at every opportunity, must learn that people get angry when they see money squandered on virtue signalling.
I have a feeling they’ll be getting the message loud and clear in next year’s Assembly elections.
Not so long ago I wrote about the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm project, and developer Vattenfall’s use of bribery to win over or silence the local populace. (Click here and scroll down to the section Vattenfall of Money.) Well now I know the route by which the turbines for Pen y Cymoedd will be arriving . . . from China. Yes, China.
Because despite what it says on the Pen y Cymoedd website about, “Siemens, our turbine supplier”, they were not made in Germany, or anywhere else in Europe. We have here a Swedish nationalised industry with a German partner importing wind turbines from China! A journey of some 10,000 nautical miles by the quickest route and taking 22 days at 20 knots. Twenty-two days of a huge ship belching smoke, spilling oil, ‘accidentally’ emptying the bilges, and all manner of things falling overboard.
Though in fairness, it is suggested that these turbines, each in three sections (plus blades and spindle), will be shipped from China to Immingham (the major container port just south of Hull) in one consignment, before being broken down into smaller cargoes for trans-shipping to Swansea. The distance from Immingham to Swansea is 606 nautical miles so if, as suggested, coastal vessels are used, each carrying the component parts of a single turbine, this adds up to a further 92,000 nautical miles (counting return trips)!
With its turbines shipped in from China to Immingham and then shipped on to Swansea, with a total distance covered of some 102,000 nautical miles (plus 532 return lorry trips between Swansea docks and Rhigos), the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm project has the environmental credentials of a dozen coal-fired power stations, each run by a thousand spectacularly flatulent cows. Perhaps we might get a comment on this from La Bartolotti or those competing to succeed her as regional mouthpiece for the Green Party of Englandandwales.
Consider this, also . . . The European steel industry is suffering from Chinese steel being ‘dumped’ on the global market at prices with which European producers cannot compete. These Chinese-made turbines for Pen y Cymoedd will be landed in Lincolnshire, yet just a few months ago, and not far south of Immingham, it was announced that steel production will cease at Redcar with the loss of 1,700 jobs, and there are to be more redundancies at Scunthorpe. On top of which, the turbines are to be landed at Swansea docks, within sight of Port Talbot steelworks! Insult upon injury.
The turbines for Pen y Cymoedd are built in a country where environmental considerations are laughed at, then lugged across oceans, around coasts, and up steep gradients, before each of them is implanted in a concrete base the size of a football pitch in what had previously been virgin moorland. These turbines will provide no permanent jobs in Wales and the profits they generate will go to Sweden or Germany. All we shall see is the annual bribe, the pretty beads paid to the backward natives while their land is raped, again.
Let’s face it, ‘Green energy’ is a massive con. And few projects are proving to be a bigger, or a more insulting con, than Pen y Cymoedd. The turbines there will probably have to run for about 300 years just to pay off the ‘debt’ to the environment incurred by making and transporting the bloody things.
UPDATE 21:00: On Friday the 4th, a few days before posting this, I sent an e-mail to Vattenfall at Pen y Cymoedd asking where the turbines for the site were made. This afternoon I received a ‘phone call from Emily Faull of Vattenfall, a charming young lady who was able to give me a few more facts.
First, she confirmed that the turbine towers were made in China, but the blades and the spindles were made in Denmark and Germany. When I asked whether the turbines had come in through Immingham Ms Faull said no, and that on November 22nd she was at Swansea docks to see “64 sections” arrive on the good ship Amethyst from China. Though if this is the right ship, then it does not appear to have docked in Swansea on November 22nd, though at that time it was en route from Spain to the Netherlands.
Whatever, 64 sections represents 16 turbines (they come in 4 sections, not 3 as I thought), so there would still need to be another four similar voyages to bring the rest of them from China. Though Ms Faull was able to confirm that the transformers were landed at Immingham, and moved by road to Pen y Cymoedd. I’m not sure where the blades and spindles were landed, or how they reached Pen y Cymoedd if they weren’t landed at Swansea.
In a part of the conversation I had some difficulty following, Ms Faull said that it had been hoped to build the turbines at the Mabey Bridge works in Chepstow, but Mabey Bridge felt it was not worth taking on workers only to lay them off again after the Pen y Cymoedd contract was completed. There was also mention of the ‘Welsh’ Government, but what role those clowns played I have no idea.
I have sent Ms Faull another e-mail (07.12.2015) to clarify the remaining details.
UPDATE 18.12.2016: I received the reply today from Ms Faull. It reads:
“Many thanks for your email and apologies for the delay in responding.
Amesthyst landed on 22nd November and I visited the ship on 24th November. The attached photo was taken at Swansea Docks on 23rd November and 64 tower sections were on board. The remaining tower sections will also come via this route. As I said on the call Mabey Bridge were lined up for the tower manufacture, but subsequently withdrew from the bidding process.
The ship came from China and the only stops required would have been for refuelling and personnel changes.
The blades have not yet been shipped, but 192 of these will come from Denmark, with 26 coming from Canada and will again be off-loaded at Swansea Docks.
The size of the wind farm means that means that the operations and maintenance team of around 30 individuals will be based on-site and early next year the team will make a special effort to recruit skilled individuals locally.
With regards to the transformers, these were manufactured at ABB in Bad Honnef, Germany, each of which weigh in at around 125,000 kg and are around 6 metres wide and 8 metres long.”
So in addition to China, Denmark and Germany, we now have components for Pen y Cymoedd also coming from Canada. The environmental credentials of this project, never good, are now compromised beyond redemption. The jobs referred to “early next year”, for which it is hoped to recruit some locals, is not a “maintenance team” at all, this team is on site solely for the erection and installation of the turbines. Once that’s done there will probably be no jobs at Pen y Cymoedd.
The Pen y Cymoedd wind farm is all about money, it’s not about the environment, or even about the generation of electricity. The hundreds of thousands of miles taken up in transporting the components from around the world, by sea and by land, means that the project’s contribution to the environment is entirely negative even if it were to run at optimum output for centuries. Pen y Cymoedd is the most blatant ‘green energy’ rip-off I have ever encountered.
ABERYSTWYTH, THE NEXT RHYL?
Some of you may recall reading about five or so years ago that there was a terrible shortage of student accommodation in Aberystwyth, the poor dabs were dossing on the promenade, or else the lack of accommodation had driven them to outlandish places such as Corris where, it was rumoured, locals stared at strangers. Here’s one tale from the BBC in August 2011, and another from Aber Student Media a month later.
To answer this shortage of accommodation there seem to have been three separate responses. One was the university itself embarking on a building programme of ‘student villages’. The second response was that of investors buying up more large properties in the town for student lodgings. Third, local housing associations got in on the act – using public money, of course.
But now I hear that the bubble has burst, leaving the university with under-occupied ‘student villages’ that make 1960s East German architecture look attractive; private investors with Houses of Multiple Occupation suffering a dearth of multiple occupants; and overstretched housing associations . . . for example, the word on the street is that Tai Cantref is already docked up Shit Creek with its crew roistering in local taverns.
What had once been attractive and easy-going Aberystwyth University, three years by the seaside for an undemanding 2:2, started slipping down the league tables a few years ago. In July 2014 the decline was being reported in the Times Higher Education Supplement and by October even the students were getting worried. The continuing decline was reported in May 2015. Inevitably, this resulted in a drop in the numbers of students applying to Aber’ – at the same time as there was more accommodation for them than ever. What to do?
I suggest one doesn’t need to be a soothsayer to predict that with so many properties now available in a Welsh seaside town, properties almost all of which are designed to house single people, it’s only a matter of time before the problems start arriving from over the border. (Thank God there’s still a railway line from Birmingham to Aberystwyth.) I’m thinking now of the drug addicts and the petty criminals, and of course those recently released from prison, because some of the bigger properties in the town will be ideal as ‘halfway houses’ and bail hostels. (See ‘Tragedy in Pontypridd’ below.)
All this results from Wales having a higher education sector that is too big, a higher education sector that has been encouraged to grow irresponsibly, with no reference to the effects of this unwarranted growth on host communities. While the universities willingly played along, adopting a ‘stack ’em high’ philosophy dictated by business models and profit margins that inevitably resulted in falling standards. Leaving Aberystwyth caught in a vicious circle, a refuge for third-rate academics and students who can’t gain admission elsewhere, with this inevitably deterring those who can read walls.
And now there may be a heavy price to pay. Which would be sad, because like most people, I’m very fond of Aberystwyth, I’ve had some good times there, drunk and sober. But if Aber’ is on its way to becoming the Rhyl of Cardigan Bay, in order to protect the investments of local big shots and housing associations, who will dare challenge this development?
A LETTER FROM CEREDIGION
It’s been a while since this blog visited Cardigan Castle, but Lady Tucker and friends have been busy, and the results will take the project even further from the trust’s stated objectives of preserving the place “for the benefit of the people of Cardigan and the nation”.
The main contractors, Andrew Scott Ltd, have long since departed with their loot, leaving a very long snagging list of botched jobs behind them. A professional painter and decorator who visited recently commented that it was hard to believe from the state of some of the paint and plasterwork that the site had been handed over little more than six months ago.
But the departure of Andrew Scott has not meant that building work has ceased. Tucked away behind the main house and a small cottage is an outbuilding which was renovated by Andrew Scott Ltd to serve as a garage for guests staying in the 5 star self-catering East Wing. This is now being converted into accommodation for disabled visitors, and when it is finished early next year, it will join the three B&B rooms above the usually empty restaurant, the East Wing (sleeps six) and the Gardener’s Cottage (sleeps two).
And there are more exciting developments on the drawing board.
The old stable block which was restored from its ruined state at huge expense to serve educational purposes has been ear-marked by Lady Tucker for conversion into yet more tourist accommodation. This will not come cheap, and expect building work to continue well into 2017.
Also offering exciting potential for reconversion into tourist accommodation is a small house over on the eastern fringe of the castle complex.
Converting these buildings will mean ejecting the current occupants, including a popular cynghanedd class, and the removal of the only locally based groups still using the site to be re-housed well away from the castle by mid-2016.
No longer will well-heeled paying guests have to face the awful prospect of mingling with scruffy locals speaking gibberish, and the Cadwgan Trust can get down to the serious business of marketing the place as luxury tourist accommodation and a venue for weddings and corporate jollies. Or what we locals call a posh hotel.
Paving the way for this is a Wedding Fayre on 6 December, a time of the year when all but the most self-obsessed brides and their mothers will have other things on their mind.
The cultural bit will be confined to a few events (Gilbert and Sullivan, Shakespeare, etc.) in the summer, while as a sideline, non-resident visitors willing to part with a fiver will be allowed in to gawp at the large expanse of lawn and spend a few minutes in the couple of rooms containing exhibitions of old tat. “Look Jeremy, a smashed up old 1940s typewriter which once belonged to the old girl who used to live here!”
After an injection of £12 million plus, including all the funds raised locally and countless thousands of hours of unpaid voluntary work, the people of Cardigan will find that just a year after opening, the castle will to all intents and purposes have reverted to being a private fiefdom, this time run by Lady T and her friends from Aberporth.
Other recent developments include a parting of ways with Equinox, the Cardiff-based firm which tried to steer the castle through the PR catastrophes which dominated much of 2015.
PR is now being handled in-house by Sue Lewis whose portfolio of responsibilities also includes “facilities”.
When not working for Cadwgan, Sue moonlights for the dire Cambrian News, which also employs her hubby to report on local news.
Not long after it ran its notorious “Incomers are Nazis says Plaid candidate” headline, the Cambrian News was at it again with a piece which suggested that Hefin Wyn, the respected local author, journalist and prominent critic of the Cadwgan Trust, had run a campaign of harassment and “virtual persecution” against Glen Johnson, who has resigned from Cadwgan’s board and various committees more often than most of us have had hot dinners.
It subsequently turned out that the newspaper had published these very serious accusations, including a claim that Mr Johnson was having to resign to protect his family, without actually checking the facts or asking the castle’s history man for evidence to back up his claims.
The paper has refused to disclose who wrote the offending article or to hand over to IPSO, the press complaints body, what it says are e-mails citing persecution and harassment it received from Glen Johnson some weeks later.
Whoever wrote the offending article, Sue has clearly been reading a copy of “Teach Yourself PR”, including Lesson One: The Importance of Creating a Narrative because it is now being put about that she feels threatened in Cardigan, and is reluctant even to drive in from Aberporth on her own.
The narrative is that critics of Cadwgan Trust are a bunch of dangerous bigots and fanatics who, we are asked to believe, are lurking behind every lamp post and municipal litter bin between Pendre and Pwllhai in this small market town.
If it’s not the wicked Hefin Wyn and the snipers Cyfeillion Rhys ap Gruffydd have posted above Siop y Cardi, it’s the stiletto-wielding assassins of Cymdeithas y Chwiorydd and the suicide bombers of Merched y Wawr.
We’ll probably be able to read all about it soon in “Wales’ biggest selling weekly newspaper”.
TRAGEDY IN PONTYPRIDD
Some of you will have read accounts from the trial of two men recently convicted of murder in Pontypridd. One of the killers, and the victim, were residents at the Morning Star Inn, on Llantrisant Road. (The second killer was said to be of no fixed abode, but I suspect he too has a connection with the Morning Star.) As you might expect, I got to wondering about the Morning Star, and it’s quite a story.
The Morning Star was, until closed after the murder on February 28th, run as both a pub and a bail hostel or halfway house for released criminals. Owned and / or run by “former Egyptian police officer Saad Taha”. Here’s a report from July 2013 of a public meeting organised so that various authorities and local politicians could hear locals voice their concerns about the Morning Star. They relate things they have witnessed first-hand only to be met with a wall of denials and evasions.
According to DePlod despite reports of knife-carrying, discarded needles and bad behaviour in and around the Morning Star “there is little evidence this came directly from the Morning Star”. Of course not, it was pure coincidence. The incredulity increased when I read that Taha wants us to believe that even though these ex-cons are living above a pub, they are not allowed to drink in the pub! I battled through this storm of bullshit and made further enquiries.
In July 2007 there was a planning application (07/1389/10) for a “raised patio / bar extension – beer garden”, and in March 2008 (08/0393/10) for a “rear balcony”. The first application was submitted in the name of a Mr D Watkins and the second in the name of Saad Taha, so is it reasonable to assume that the Morning Star was still being run as a pub in 2007 but the premises changed hands some time in late 2008 or early 2009 and was then run as both a pub and a halfway house? Both applications were withdrawn.
Next, on September 20th 2011, Taha made an application (11/1140/10) for “Conversion of existing bar areas into bedrooms (Change of use).- amended plan received 25/11/11 – reduction in total number of bedrooms from 17 to 16 – amended location plan received on 26/01/12.” With the first floor already being used to house ex-convicts it appears Taha now sought to convert the ground floor (pub) area and even the basement (cellar). This plan was very wisely turned down by RCT council.
But then, on December 14th, 2012, another application (12/1293/09) was lodged, “Application for a Lawful Development Certificate for an Existing use as a public house and hostel.” Which I take to mean that Taha was now asking for retrospective planning consent for a building already being used – without permission – as a hostel. Planning permission was refused.
I find it significant, and rather confusing, that in his rejected planning applications of September 2011 and December 2012 Taha is asking for a “change of use”. Also confusing, is that the earlier of those applications states that there are already 16 bedrooms at the Morning Star, yet according to the WalesOnline report of the July 2013 public meeting the place only has only “seven beds”. Which is right?
So here’s the question. Seeing as retrospective planning permission for a change of use to a hostel was refused in 2011 and 2012, why was the Morning Star allowed to operate as a hostel? Everybody in the area knew what the building was being used for, including the police and the council, so was it somehow allowed to operate as a hostel without the required planning permissions? If not, then perhaps someone at RCT council can direct me to the approval for the Morning Star to be used as a halfway house for criminals.
Another teaser is, who owns the Morning Star? Having checked on the Land Registry website using the correct post code I can find nothing under Morning Star or 59 Llantrisant Road. So we can’t be sure if Taha actually owns the property (as he claims) or if he’s merely an agent for someone else. Presumably Rhondda Cynon Taf council knows who owns this place, and if it is Saad Taha, why doesn’t he register his ownership with the Land Registry? He’s had long enough.
There’s something odd about the Morning Star saga. Not least, how does a former Egyptian copper end up running a halfway house in Ponty? And what checks were done into his background? Where do his ‘clients’ come from? And who supplies them?
Anyway, undeterred by the minor inconvenience of a man being beaten to death on the premises, and before those charged with the murder had been tried, Saad Taha was again thinking of profiting from the Morning Star when, on August 26th this year, he submitted a planning application (15/1170/10) that reads, “Proposed change of use from existing public house and bedrooms to 6 no. self contained flats”. Wording that raises yet more questions.
For example, why does it describe a home for ex-cons as “bedrooms”? Or is this more evidence that no permission was ever granted for the property to be used as a hostel? Though a bigger worry for the local residents should be, who is going to live in these flats? Given the record of Saad Taha, Rhondda Cynon Taf council, and the pooh-pooh police, locals have every reason to be concerned.
A few months ago, in my post Vote Plaid Cymru – Get Labour I made a prediction for the outcome of the 2016 Assembly elections in which I suggested that the likeliest result would be a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition. For a number of reasons I think it may be wise to revise my prediction.
One major change since I wrote that piece in June has been the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the UK Labour Party. At first I thought this might help the Labour Party in Wales, seeing as it is forever banging on about being more to the left than the UK party, but now I’m not so sure. Because things are starting to get nasty up in Westminster with civil war breaking out among the Labour MPs.
If Corbyn is no longer leader come next May then Labour will be hors de combat, still licking the wounds received in a bloody civil war to remove him and his right-hand man, John McDonnell. If Corbyn is still there then of course the civil war will be ongoing. What will add to the damage is that the conflict will not be confined to the House of Commons, for a few hundred thousand people – overwhelmingly leftists – joined the Labour Party during the election campaign. Attempts to remove their reason for joining Labour will be resisted, by de-selecting MPs and in other ways defending their heroes. The party might even split. However it pans out, a party so hopelessly divided will not be an attractive proposition to the great majority of voters in Wales.
Of course, Carwyn Jones and his gang will try to stay aloof, arguing that it’s, ‘Nothing to do with us, this is all happening up in London / England’, but too many Welsh voters get news from London sources, and what they’ll see is a party tearing itself apart. This is bound to affect their perceptions of what is after all only a branch of the UK Labour Party. Worse, thousands of those new members joined in Wales, so that’s another reason ‘Welsh’ Labour can not escape collateral damage.
Let’s move on to Plaid Cymru.
To begin with, Leanne Wood is not proving to be the inspirational leader many had hoped, her appeal seems limited to elements within the party and then the rag-bag left. She is making little if any impression on those voters Plaid needs if it is to gain seats, and she’s not going down much better with those voters Plaid needs if it’s to hold on to what it’s got. When I listen to her all I hear is socialism in Wales, rather than anything specifically Welsh. I think she’d be happier in a Labour Party led by Corbyn than any patriot should be in a party led by her.
An example of putting socialist ideology before Welsh interests is the recent announcement by the party that if it achieved power it would abolish care charges for everyone over the age of 65. This, according to Elin Jones AM, would cost – over two terms of a Plaid Cymru government (don’t laugh!) – £226m. No it wouldn’t, it would cost a hell of a lot more! Let me explain it slowly, so that even a Plaid Cymru politician can understand.
We have a problem in our rural and coastal areas with large numbers of elderly people moving from England, or moving in middle age after taking early retirement. To the point where in south Meirionnydd, where I live, two-thirds of the over 65s were born in England. A similar situation is found in many other areas, with the result that our NHS and social services are already under strain. Consequently, any measures introduced that make Wales more attractive for the elderly than England will unleash an unprecedented spate of granny dumping, and this will cost one hell of a lot more than £226m.
But this hare-brained scheme is so typically Plaid Cymru. Always looking for a pat on the head from the English Left-Green lobby rather than prioritising – or even considering – Welsh interests.
Things are no better at a local level. You may be aware that there was a recent change in Carmarthen’s shire hall. The council has for a number of years been run by the chief executive, Mark James, who regards democracy as a dangerous and unnecessary threat to his rule. The Labour-Independent coalition fronting his dictatorship broke up in May and a new coalition was agreed between the Independent Party and Plaid Cymru.
Great hopes were raised that with Plaid Cymru as the larger party Mark James might be challenged, and there might be an outbreak of democracy in Carmarthenshire, but Plaid has kow-towed to Mark James in the most cowardly manner, and it can’t all be attributed to council leader Emlyn Dole’s barn problems. (Don’t you think Emlyn Dole could pass for the mayor of a small French town? There’s even a passing resemblance to President Hollande.)
For these and other reasons I can’t see Plaid Cymru getting more than 6 seats. And a blood-spattered Labour Party will be lucky to win 20 seats. Then, given that by May 2016 the debate over EU negotiations and the impending referendum will be getting so much news coverage, the beneficiaries of that are bound to be Ukip. So here’s my original prediction from May alongside my updated prediction. Get ready for a Tory-Ukip-Lib Dem coalition!
On Friday night last I had a Twitter exchange with someone who’s hoping to be among the new Assembly intake, an aspiring Conservative politician named Matthew Paul, the candidate for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr. If the name sounds familiar, that may be because Paul stood for the same seat in this year’s Westminster elections, when he came third with some 21% of the vote.
It all began with him responding to a tweet I put out drawing attention to yet more flat pack chalets being ponced up to the status of ‘luxury resort’, and even more strain put on the bullshit generator by claiming that 200 such chalets will bring 200 full-time jobs! As with similar projects I’ve mentioned, the only thing Welsh about the Corran Resort and Spa is its location in Laugharne. Pure coloniotourism. His response was, “And what economic activity do you want in #Laugharne? A steelworks?”
Not knowing who I was dealing with – other than someone ignorant of the parlous state of the European steel industry – I decided to humour him. We exchanged a few quips before I brought up the case of a farm called Faerdre Fach being re-named Happy Donkey Hill. He responded with, “As a matter of taste, I deplore it, but would defend their right to call it whatever they want”. Maybe he thought he was sounding noble by adapting the quote wrongly attributed to Voltaire . . . if so, it didn’t work; it just made him sound like yet another Tory willing to accept the anglicisation of Wales. Or rather, refusing to confront it, choosing to retreat behind sophistry and disingenuous arguments about ‘freedom’.
Matthew Paul is a privately educated, Oxford graduate, lawyer. Have you ever wondered why so many lawyers enter politics? It’s said that it’s because of the training they receive in marshalling their arguments and presenting a case, their ability to persuade a jury to believe what they’re saying. Which a cynic might argue is just another way of saying that lawyers are good liars, which then makes them ideal politicians.
It’s always seemed to me that in reputational terms a lawyer becoming a politician is not a lot different to ‘Honest John’ from the ‘pre-loved’ cars lot branching out into double glazing. No sensible individual completely trusts anyone selling second-hand cars or double glazing, so why are we so credulous when it comes to lawyer-politicians?
VATTENFALL OF MONEY
I am indebted to regular contributor Brychan for bringing to my attention a rare job opportunity in the Heads of the Valleys, one paying £300 a day. Read all about it here.
As you can see, this largesse is connected with the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, a project being undertaken by Vattenfall, a state-owned Swedish ‘company’ which is putting up lots and lots of wind turbines for no other reason than an altruistic desire to save the planet. And because they are such altruists, and philanthropists to boot, they’re giving the run-down communities in the shadow of Pen y Cymoedd wind farm £1.8m every year ’til a’ the seas gang dry. Now Vattenfall is looking for Board Members to oversee the distribution of the bribe . . . though the Board meetings will be held in Cardiff, so more money will be leaving the Valleys.
You will also note from the link provided that recruitment of these Board Members is not being done by Vattenfall itself, for the job has been contracted out to Empower. When I found the website for ‘Empower-Support for the Voluntary Sector Ltd‘, and saw that it’s address was in the Cynon Valley, and then read Empower’s Facebook page, I got that sinking feeling that comes over me when Bafetimbi Gomis is repeatedly caught offside, or I realise that I’m dealing with the Third Sector. In this instance there was no sign of an offside French striker.
Empower etc is run by a Beverly Elizabeth Garside, a highly qualified woman who turned her back on London to move to Wales. Why? The short answer is that despite the obvious deprivation, there’s a hell of a lot of money sloshing around in the Valleys . . . you just need to know how to get your hands on it. The secret is ‘social enterprises’ and other Third Sector rackets that create jobs for Labour cronies and give civil servants something to lie about on EU questionnaires. Then, feeding on the publicly-funded Third Sector, we have companies like Empower. A case of, ‘Big fleas have little fleas . . .’.
One mystery though is why, on her Linkedin profile, Bev tells us that she has been director of Empower since January 2001, yet Companies House tells us that Empower was not Incorporated as a company until February 18th 2004. So what form did it take in the intervening three years? Perhaps it too was a sucking-directly-on-the-public-funding-teat Third Sector outfit? Whatever the answer, it’s no coincidence that Bev Garside set up Empower in 2001, the same year the EU Objective One money started flowing into the Valleys. This funding was the honey-pot that encouraged her – and so many like her – to move to Wales.
Although the Empower office is in Mountain Ash, in the heart of the deprived Valleys that give Empower its income, Bev herself chooses to live in the agreeable and prosperous little village of Bwlch, near Talybont-on-Usk. More fitting for a woman who has Common Purpose running through her like ‘Barmouth’ through a stick of rock.
P.S. Vattenfall is Swedish for waterfall, and believed to be a reference to the rate at which money pours into the Swedish State’s coffers from exploiting third world communities like the Heads of the Valleys . . . with the help of economic migrants like Beverly Elizabeth Garside.
Late last Saturday night I received a Facebook message telling me that Sue ‘English!‘ Lewis had been made to step down from her post as Facilities Officer or Director at the Castle because it was proving difficult to recruit trustees while she was in place. (Fortunately I was up late on Saturday night doing my bit for the Argentine economy, again.)
This news has yet to be confirmed but I have learnt today that a £40,000 a year vacancy has been advertised at the Castle, and also that Sue ‘English!‘ Lewis is notable by her absence from the old pile. Further, I am told that Equinox, the Castle’s Cardiff PR outfit, has had enough, and refuses to represent Lady Tucker and her gang any longer.
I suspect that changes are now being implemented at the Castle, maybe these changes have been enforced, by funders, or the Charity Commission, and there may be attempts to save face by keeping the news from the baying mob. Which is why I would welcome any further information.
I betook myself to Aberystwyth yesterday, accompannied by the wife and a couple of grandchildren (in case the old car needed a push). ‘Callous bastard’, I hear you cry . . . so, anyway, I went for a coffee before wandering about the old town, seeing what had changed since my last visit.
Quite a bit, as it happened. Inhabitants of Aber’, or regular visitors, will know that the council has been working around the front of the railway station for twelve years or more (well, it seems that long), laying out bus bays and new pavements. Walking from the Mill Street car park (soon to be lost under Marks & Spencers and Tesco), I turned the corner by the station to be greeted by a veritable minefield of drunk traps. Just look! the picture (click to enlarge) shows a short stretch of pavement with at least a dozen obstacles over which, or even into which, an unwary imbiber might fall. All this in a university town!
I tell you, if I was an ambulance-chasing lawyer or some other variety of shyster I would be hanging about this area of a Friday or Saturday night just waiting for the inevitable tumble, followed by the yell of shock and then the drawn-out moan of agony, whereupon I would leap from the shadows and present my card, for there’s a fortune to be made here! And with an ‘assistant’, giving gentle ‘nudges’ . . .
On a lighter note, but staying with the topic of the immoderate consumption of alcohol, I am delighted to report that the shelter on the promenade, so badly damaged in the January storms, has been restored. Over the years, this noble and welcoming structure has provided a roof under which many a weary bon viveur has rested his head for the night, me included.
Last year I wrote a post called Neighbours From Hell, which was well received and is still getting lots of visits. (You’ll see it featured in the sidebar.) One of those I wrote about was Leanne Meredith, and her collection of aggressive dogs. So aggressive that a one-tonne bull these dogs attacked had to be put down. The latest news is that Ms Meredith, originally of Wimbledon, has done a runner, yet, since the attack, one of her dogs, an American bulldog, has been kept in “official kennels” – where the little darling has run up a bill of £24,000, which we shall pay! (Click on cutting to enlarge.)
Straying not far from the subject of English undesirables in Wales I am indebted to the ever-reliable BD for this tale of windfarm bribery and the privatised probation service.
As you may be aware, Pen y Cymoedd is the massive windfarm on the western side of the Heads of the Valleys. (Click on image to enlarge.) This grant-guzzling monstrosity and eyesore is being built by Swedish company Vattenfall which, as is the way in such ventures, is bribing the local communities with their own money. Among those applying for a slice of this faux largesse is the Wales Community Rehabilitation Company Ltd. As BD says, when he first saw the name he assumed it was a group to help seriously deprived communities in the area blighted by these monsters, villages such as Glyncorrwg and Blaenllechau; but no, it has little to do with such communities, and perhaps not a lot to do with Wales.
The one-page website tells us that the Wales Community Rehabilitation Company is a successor to the Wales Probation Trust and is a privatised Third Sector subsidiary of the Englandandwales Ministry of Justice. It is a private limited company, Incorporated on December 4, 2013 (Company Number: 08802571), and it clearly hopes to be funded by generosity from sources such as Vattenfall plus, we can be sure, the ‘Welsh’ Government. Welcome to the privatised probation service.
BD tells me that the directors are David Rees Evans, a retired banker, living in Colwyn Bay, who is on the North Wales Probation Circuit; retired group captain Neil Trevor Bale, who owns Cyfie Farm guesthouse on Efyrnwy, and is chairman of the Tourism Partnership of Mid Wales; Clare Elizabeth Roach, previously the HR manager at the Royal Voluntary Service, after a stint in HR with South Wales Police; Bernadette Elizabeth Ann Rijnenberg, who was also director of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Support Services Limited; and Andrew James Skene Emmett, who resigned from the The Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company Limited, because ‘he moved to London’.
So we appear to have yet another ‘Welsh’ organisation that is mainly English in its composition. Given its business, and the colonial relationship between Wales and England, I believe we can confidently predict that many of its clients will have no previous connection with Wales. In which case, and yet again, ‘Welsh’ money, or money promised to ‘Welsh’ causes, will be used in the service of England.
But isn’t it a strange name for a service looking after ex-cons and offenders? You can understand why BD initially thought it was in the business of reinvigorating run-down communities. One to watch, I think.
Finally, how could I do an update post without a mention of ‘Bishop’ Nathan Lee Gill MEP!
It seems that I misunderstood the info I received about Gill’s Humvee with the big screen in the back. (Misunderstandings are almost inevitable when trying to communicate by text messages.) I assumed it was a big television screen inside the vehicle when, in reality, it was a 6ft x 5ft LCD advertising screen affixed to the rear. As shown in the picture (click to enlarge). This link will take you to some other pictures, including some of the man himself. You’ll also see that Humview Ltd, Gill’s short-lived company, seems to have been based in Pensans, Kernow. Which is very interesting, for it might answer a question that’s been puzzling me about Gill’s brother-in-law, Brian Lynn Quilter of Lledr House, Dolwyddelan.
The thing is, I have this e-mail (click to enlarge), sent from firstname.lastname@example.org, which can only be from Quilter. It seems to have been sent to either the London Gazette (which announces company liquidations) or the Official Receiver, possibly both. Quilter is American, married to Gill’s part-time cop sister. My guess is that he came over some twelve years ago. But the point is that, being married into Gill’s family, he would of course know Anglesey, possibly other parts of the north, and obviously the old Gill stamping ground of Hull and the adjacent area of Yorkshire. But Plymouth is quite a way from both, so how did Quilter get himself into business down there? (The business being the migrant housing racket.)
Well, given that we know now Gill was operating in Cornwall, then Plymouth’s not far away, just over the Tamar; and in many ways the ‘capital’ of Cornwall in much the same way that Liverpool is / was ‘the capital of north Wales’. Which then raises the obvious question, why was Gill himself in Cornwall? Was he running migrant housing scams down there, in Cornwall and south west England, as he was in Hull?
Returning to the e-mail, it’s dated March 15, 2010, so in its chronological sequence it comes just before the second (and final) Notification of Strike-off Action against Quilter Properties Ltd appeared in the London Gazette on April 23, 2010. So it could be part of a tidying-up exercise, even a confession – for Quilter is almost certainly talking in the e-mail of undeclared, (cash-in-hand) income – but it also raises one final question.
Given what we know about how HMRC has operated in recent years, and also given that HMRC was interested in Gill and his business associates, was a deal struck, in which Gill and Quilter paid off a nominal amount in order to get HMRC off their backs?