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.
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 PROBABLY NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
I had planned a piece on May’s Senedd elections (or whenever they’re held). But then I realised there are a couple of factors still playing out that will impact mightily on that election. I mean Coronavirus and the effects of Brexit.
So, I’ve put that planned piece on the back burner. There’ll be plenty of time to return to it when the picture has become a little clearer.
Instead, I shall deal with another issue that will certainly impact on the election and more widely on Welsh public and political life in the years ahead. Though to refer to it as a mere ‘issue’ fails to do it justice.
IN MY BEGINNING
I got involved in the nationalist movement in the mid-1960s. Driven by patriotism, a lifelong love of history, and a growing interest in politics that soon made me realise my country was not being treated fairly.
I’m not sure there was a single ‘trigger’, but Tryweryn certainly influenced my conversion. If I had any doubts, then Aberfan ended them.
I wanted independence to improve the lives of the people I cared about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I wanted independence to protect my country from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what made us Welsh.
My Wales had no bogeymen, no minorities against which retribution was sought, and there was no irredentist dimension. My nationalism was, and remains, purely defensive; the only people who need fear it are the enemies of my country and my people.
If what I’ve written strikes anyone as ‘blood and soil’ nationalism then that really is your problem, not mine.
I cannot think of any reason for wanting independence other than to serve the best interests of the greatest possible number of Welsh people.
THE LEFT AND THE INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT
On December 19 Yes Cymru put out what seemed at the time to be a harmless enough tweet welcoming Conservatives into the ranks. The tweet ended with a recognition of the “compatibility” of conservatism and independence.
This tweet outraged the hard left and the woke (increasingly difficult to tell apart) and within an hour it was taken down.
A generous interpretation might be that those who demanded its removal don’t know the difference between Conservative and conservative. For I’m a lifelong believer in Welsh independence who is a conservative, but not a Conservative.
A less charitable, and more worrying, interpretation would be that for some in the new independence movement neither Conservatives nor conservatives are welcome. This they seem to justify by arguing that Wales is a ‘socialist country’, with a ‘radical tradition’.
But how true is that?
The claim that Wales is a socialist country is premised on the fact that the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru together usually get a majority of the votes cast in elections.
Though in the December 2019 Westminster elections Labour gained 40.9% while Plaid Cymru got only 9.9%. Giving a combined total of just 50.8%.
In the most recent elections to the National Assembly (as was) in 2016, the combined percentage of the constituency vote was 55.2%. For the regional lists, the ‘socialist’ total was 52.3%.
But these figures are misleading because how many of those who vote for Plaid Cymru and Labour are really socialists?
I live in Plaid Cymru’s safest seat, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, but few of the Plaid supporters I know could be described as socialists. Most are cultural nationalists and / or social conservatives. It’s a similar picture throughout Plaid Cymru’s western heartland.
Turning to Labour; yes, the vote looks impressive, but to assume that all Labour voters are socialists is nonsense.
The average Labour voter supports the party because he or she believes Labour will raise wages and benefits. The closest this constituency comes to socialism is on specific issues such as the NHS. But again, self-interest dominates.
So, what of Wales’ claimed ‘radical tradition’?
Since the Second World War radicalism – in the sense of challenging the role of the English monarchy and the legitimacy of the British state in Wales – has come exclusively from nationalists.
In the same period Wales has seen strikes, perhaps most memorably the two miners’ strikes, but again, these were about protecting jobs and communities, they were not a fight for socialist ideology.
Socialists are understandably reluctant to concede any of this because it undermines their claim to a monopoly on radicalism. Also because the rise of nationalism in the 1960s had the effect of turning many in the Labour Party into simpering royalists or tub-thumping Unionists. Something that embarrasses many on the left.
The fact is that socialism in the UK was, at a very early stage, broken and domesticated as the Labour Party, and brought into the constitutional fold. Thereby allowing the UK to avoid the political upheavals seen elsewhere in Europe.
Yet many on the left of the independence movement can make common cause with ‘socialists’ who are diehard Unionists, while rejecting those who sincerely believe in independence because they’re not socialists.
The only interpretation is that socialism is more important for these people than Welsh independence, with the independence movement being just another vehicle for their socialism.
As for the alleged radical tradition, yes it’s there, though sporadic and localised. In the 19th century, the Merthyr Rising, Chartists, Rebecca, Ceffyl Pren, Scotch Cattle, Tithe Wars, were all rooted in an outraged sense of social justice; defending family and community but owing absolutely nothing to Marxist dogma.
What’s happened since is that socialists have tried to re-write history by adopting movements and causes that were never at all socialist.
But even if Wales was a socialist country that would still not be reason enough to exclude others from what should be an ideology-free independence movement.
“DOCTRINES FASHIONED TO THE VARYING HOUR” *
What Labour cleverly did in the twentieth century was to capitalise on the legitimate demands of working class people and promote those demands with more vigour than the Liberal Party.
Which explains why the Labour Party displaced the Liberal Party a century ago as the main opposition to the Conservatives.
But once Labour started going beyond demands for higher wages, better working conditions, etc., into the abstract and the esoteric, promoting socialism for socialism’s sake, then it always lost support.
As we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century the rupture between ideological socialists and the working class is almost complete. To the point where today’s left liberal elite positively despises the white working class.
It’s been summed up brilliantly by trade unionist and lifelong Labour member, Paul Embery, in his new book Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class. As he points out, there are elements of the contemporary left that detest working class values of family, community, tradition and patriotism.
This contemptuous attitude has now reached Wales; it has infected Labour and Plaid Cymru; it has spread to Yes Cymru, and it’s threatening the independence movement.
(Though in fairness, Labour has been far cleverer than Plaid Cymru in keeping the single-issue fanatics, the anti-Semites and other undesirables at bay.)
This new, woke left exercises influence wholly disproportionate to its numbers. As we saw with the removal of that Yes Cymru tweet.
This is done by taking a Manichean position in which they are right and those who disagree with them are not just mistaken, or wrong, but positively evil.
Perfectly exemplified by Leanne Wood and others in Plaid Cymru.
Ask how Antifa rioting and burning shops in Portland, Oregon on a nightly basis promotes anything other than violence and you’ll be met with, ‘Antifa stands for anti-fascist, so only fascists question Antifa’.
Of course! But that still leaves unanswered the question of how burning shops and attacking innocent bystanders and police is fighting fascism.
Here’s another tweet concerning Yes Cymru exposing this attitude. Thomas Wynne Lewis argued that Yes Cymru must appeal to “people on all sides of the political compass”, Luke Williams pretended to agree – then accused Yes Cymru of having “platformed fascists”!
I’m sure this never happened, but as I’ve just said, in the black and white world of the woke left those who contradict them, point out their errors, are, ipso facto ‘fascists’, ‘racists’, ‘transphobes’, etc., etc. End of debate.
This intolerance in defence of ‘toleration’, this refusal to accept alternative views in defence of ‘diversity’, this ‘no platforming’ in defence of ‘freedom of expression’, is now causing problems in the independence movement.
I’ll conclude this section with another tweet, or rather a retweet, this one from a doyen of the wokies, Aled Gwyn Williams. Williams is a member of both Plaid Cymru and Yes Cymru. (As is Teifi.)
“You’re never innocent if you’re a Tory”, the image tells us. Who could argue, for those two in their wingback armchairs are surely the Fred and Rose West of Acacia Avenue.
Remember, folks – these lunatics walk among us!
Let’s push the boat out and imagine Andrew R T Davies, former leader of the Assembly Tories undergoing a genuine conversion to Welsh independence. Despite this being a coup for the movement, and likely to encourage others to support independence, he would be rejected by those we’ve met here.
He would be damned by people who are simply using the independence movement to promote whichever fleetingly popular lunacies torment them.
* ‘The Deserted Village’, Oliver Goldsmith
‘WHY DO WE WANT IT!’
There are a number of factors explaining the increase in support for independence, unfortunately, many of them are tangential, exploitative, or simply wrong.
To begin with, there’s Brexit, and the belief that an independent Wales would join, or re-join, the EU. A belief strengthened by Plaid Cymru recently saying – without apparently consulting anyone, or checking the referendum result – that an independent Wales would become a member of the European Union.
No mention was made of a fresh referendum.
Yet another example of leftist elitist arrogance, echo chamber decision making, and out of step with the wishes of the people.
Recently exposed with an interesting poll on Twitter, not least for the fact that 2,214 people voted. And because there was a majority for ‘Full Independence’ over ‘Independence within the EU’.
If that vote can be achieved on Twitter, where ‘certain views’ tend to dominate, then in the real world the majority would be even greater.
Others are now considering independence because of the present Conservative government in London. Disliking BoJo and the gang is perfectly understandable, but hardly a good enough reason to want Welsh independence.
What happens if Labour wins the next election? Would that mean that an unequal and exploitative Union becomes acceptable again?
A third element increasing support for independence emerges from the foliage in the form of the planet-savers. I don’t wish to be dismissive; I’m quite fond of planet Earth myself, but too many of those I’m thinking of – just like the wokies – see an independent Wales as a blank canvas, with them monopolising the crayons.
To explain this dichotomy we need to remember the canvas and crayons I just mentioned. Even under devolution the Greens, in various forms, have found it far too easy to dictate what passes for ‘Welsh Government’ policy.
The Greens have decided to support independence because they believe they can easily persuade the government of an independent Wales to implement their polices, without the need for any democratic mandate, and thereby use Wales as a platform from which the rest of the world can better see their virtue signalling.
The benefits of these policies to the Welsh people would be zero because as Angela Womak, deputy leader of the Green Party of Englandandwales, put it:
Wales “tackling the ecological and climate emergencies”, is unadulterated bollocks. To suggest that a tiny country can make any significant difference is laughable.
Whether it’s Brexit, Boris Johnson, or environmental concerns, these alone – even collectively – are the wrong reasons for wanting independence.
DEVOLUTION IS DEAD
The battle-lines are being drawn between those who want to abolish the Senedd and assimilate Wales into England, and those of us wanting Wales to be independent.
There will be few speaking up for devolution because it has failed. Wales is a worse place in 2021 than she was in 1999 partly because successive administrations have pandered to vociferous minorities rather than address the needs of the great majority of the nation.
The upcoming contest over Wales’ future could be a close call, and that’s why anyone supporting independence, from any background, and of any political orientation, should be welcomed. None should be excluded.
But those joining simply to promote their pet issue, and then seeking to exclude those who don’t agree with them that it’s the most important thing in the world, need to be taken aside and spoken to.
For these will alienate more people than they will ever attract.
Those taking an interest in independence need to be assured that the direction of ideological travel for an independent Wales, the spending and other priorities, will be decided by the Welsh people, in democratic elections, after independence is achieved.
It will be a blank canvass, and we’ll all have a chance with the crayons.
For my part, I still want independence to improve the lives of the people I care about: my family, my neighbours, my community, and my nation. I want independence to protect Wales from neglect or exploitation, and to defend what makes us Welsh.
I see no reason to change. I never have, and I never will.
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
This is the roundup I promised last week before the Knighton piece just grow’d like Topsy and took over.
Here you’ll find updates on old favourites plus some new faces. Combined they’ll provide a sobering read and a reminder of what a mess Wales is in, due partly to useless, lying politicians down Corruption Bay.
This fine old mansion that I’ve written about so many times in recent years in the Weep for Wales series has been sold. Also, the Seiont Manor.
At one time both were owned by Paul and Rowena Williams, but they ran into problems and soon had ‘partners’ in their hour of need. In the form of Myles Cunliffe and his oppo, the ‘King of Marbella’, Jon Disley, always looking for companies in trouble.
And now they’re all gone.
I look forward to learning the identity of the new owners, but I’m fairly sure that he / she / they will fall into one of the following categories. We can but hope that it’s the third.
More crooks looking to use the Plas for nefarious purposes.
Dreamers, with wonderful ideas but neither the ability nor the money to carry them out.
Somebody, or some company, with both the right ideas and the money to realise them.
TRANSPORT FOR WALES GOES OFF THE RAILS
You’ll remember that the Wales and Borders rail franchise was run for some years by Arriva Trains. There were many critics. So when the franchise came up for renewal a couple of years ago it was awarded to French-Spanish partnership KeolisAmey.
Despite my right of centre views on economic and other matters, I believe that essential services should be run by the state as national assets. With one condition, and that is that these services should be run by people who know what they’re doing.
That will not happen in Wales. The statist majority in Corruption Bay has taken over the railways not to provide a better service but because they’re control freaks. Don’t be surprised if the signalling system is handed over to a third sector body approved by lobbyists Deryn.
Unbeknownst to most of those who drive under Machynlleth’s railway bridge, there is a depot nearby where the trains from the Cambrian Coast and the Aberystwyth-Shrewsbury lines are brought overnight for cleaning, maintenance, and repair.
It’s a major employer in the town. (But perhaps not for much longer, thanks to Transport for Wales. An issue I might return to in a later post.)
Two men have been hanging around Mach’ railway station for a few weeks. For a while, no one knew who they were, or what they were doing. I think I now have the story.
As part of the Covid-19 arrangements extra portakabins were brought in for the staff. Hired from a company called W H Welfare, part of the Kelling Group of Normanton, in West Yorkshire, a few miles south east of Leeds.
The two mystery men are security guards who came with the portakabins. The problem being that the portakabins are inside the compound, behind the security gate, and the portakabin guards do have not have clearance to enter the compound. So they’re stuck outside, and to look useful, or just to while away the time, they seem to turn up to meet the trains.
But Machynlleth ain’t Grand Central Station. So that doesn’t give them much to do.
Now these two security men must be staying locally, which means that their wages and accommodation will be included in the portakabin hire charge.
The incompetence doesn’t end there. The portakabins run on a generator – a petrol generator. There is no petrol on site except in the workers’ cars. Everything else is diesel.
Am I making this up? No. Am I drunk? How dare you!
So, we have two men at a small Welsh railway station, doing sod all, but costing a lot of money. Because of course it’s all being paid for by Transport for Wales. Which means the ‘Welsh Government’. Which means you and me.
It’s reasonable to assume that Machynlleth isn’t the only station or depot for which these portakabins were hired. Plus of course the security men. So how much money is being squandered in this way?
And come to that, is there nowhere in Wales where portakabins could have been sourced? And sourced cheaper? I’m sure there is. Which means that in addition to the incompetence we have the issue of a ‘Welsh Government’ agency sending money out of Wales.
It looks as if someone in Transport for Wales has made a massive cock-up. Or is someone getting a backhander from a firm in West Yorkshire?
Last month I brought you the tale of yet another foreign-owned windfarm being dumped on Wales with the enthusiastic support of the planet-savers in the ‘Welsh Government’ and Plaid Cymru.
You’ll find it here, just scroll down to the section, “Another ‘Community-owned, local benefits’ wind farm. Not”.
As I wrote in that earlier piece, “this particular project is a joint English-Irish venture. From Ireland we have state-owned ESB, while from England (possibly Scotland) we have Coriolis Energy Ltd.”
It’s difficult to figure out why ESB needs Coriolis. Maybe it’s to fulfil a similar role to that of Invis Energy of County Cork, which has been working on Meenbog wind farm, on the Donegal-Tyrone border.
Where there was recently a massive slippage of peat into the Mourne Beg river, part of the Foyle system. Just watch the trees go sailing by in the video!
The lesson here is that erecting bloody big wind turbines, each one sunk into thousands of tons of concrete, will have consequences when such idiocy is encouraged in sensitive environments.
Such as Irish peat bogs, and Welsh hillsides from which thousands upon thousands of rain-absorbing trees have been cut, and from which acres of equally absorbent peat has been removed.
Another worry for those living close to the proposed development on Mynydd Margam is that the planned turbines will be 750 tall. As any child playing with blocks will tell you, the higher you try to build it, the more difficult it gets to keep it standing.
Which is why I was not surprised to learn from a regular correspondent in northern Sweden – who took time off from herding his reindeer – that a 755 foot turbine in his neck of the woods had recently come crashing down. Here’s a report from ABC News.
I believe a re-think is needed. Not just on this development on Margam Mountain but on all onshore wind developments in Wales. Because . . .
No permanent jobs have resulted from the dozens of wind farms desecrating our countryside.
No manufacturing has been encouraged by the ‘Welsh Government’ so that we can build the turbines here – they’ve all been imported.
First by smoky ships, and then by huge, diesel-powered trucks and trailers, before trees are felled and peat removed to accommodate them in concrete bases the size of football pitches. Making a nonsense of wind turbines’ claimed green credentials.
In fact, before a blade turns, each wind turbine will have caused more damage to the environment than it can make up for in its short and fitful life.
No Welsh companies have emerged to run or own wind turbines other than tiny, ‘hippy’ enterprises reliant on public largesse.
No skills base has been developed that Wales could benefit from and export.
And it’s increasingly likely that wind turbines contribute to flooding.
The ‘progressive’ parties have allowed – even encouraged – Wales to be exploited and cheated in this way just so that they could look virtuous to a certain lobby.
When it comes to serving England’s interests, things in Wales are not a lot different in the 21st century to earlier times. Just disguised by the gloss of devolution, and bullshit about ‘Wales saving the planet’.
But it’s the same old exploitation.
Where would a roundup like this be without a trip to Bryn Llys or, more specifically, Caernarfon magistrates court.
The latest of the Duggan gang to appear has been Jon Duggan himself, on November 16. His large dogs got out – again! – and attacked neighbours’ poultry. But of course, in the parallel universe inhabited by these clowns, it was probably the chickens’ fault.
I’m afraid I can’t link to any press report because I can’t find one. But Duggan was fined £300. Then there was compensation of £30, victim surcharge of £32, and CPS costs of £640. Making a grand total of £1,002.00.
I know those are the facts because my source is reliable, and I have even been supplied with a case number.
In related news, Bryn Llys Ltd is threatened with strike-off by Companies House. Though I suppose this company might have already served its purpose.
By which I mean the Duggan gang’s MO is to start a company, open bank accounts, sign up for credit accounts with assorted suppliers and then order goods and equipment, sell it all on, then let the company be struck off, or liquidate it, without paying for anything.
Finally, the deadline for Duggan to comply with the Enforcement Order and remove the unauthorised roadway he has laid on his recently acquired land was Friday, November 20. He has of course made no effort to comply. Cyngor Gwynedd has been informed.
A dicky-bird tells me that when Duggan appeared before the bench to answer for the Great Chicken Massacre he was accompanied by a female solicitor from Liverpool.
Over the years I’ve complained about Companies House being toothless, nothing more than a filing system, or a box-ticking exercise. Here’s a recent example that came to my attention in a roundabout sort of way.
Someone got in touch because they were angry at certain new properties in Llanarthne, a village just off the A40, roughly midway between Llandeilo and Carmarthen. These were four- and five-bed ‘executive homes’ in the Mulberry Grove development.
The development’s name, and the prices being asked, suggested that the developer was not anticipating many local buyers.
Companies House made the gesture of compulsory strike-off towards the end of 2018, but it was discontinued after an objection. But in 2019 – nothing! And nothing in 2020 until I contacted them. The company is now scheduled for strike-off to begin December 1st.
The response I got a few days ago reads:
“I can advise that the company has already been reminded accordingly to deliver the outstanding accounts in accordance with the Companies Act 2006.
Our records show that accounts for the period ending 30/10/2017, 30/10/2018 and 30/10/2019 and also the confirmation statement for the period ending 14/06/2020 remain overdue and we are currently taking action to remove the company from the register.
In order to proceed with this course of action it is necessary to issue statutory letters to the company leading to a publication in the London Gazette.
Any objections against the proposed dissolution will be considered once the notice of our intention has been published in the London Gazette. All creditors and interested parties should be aware that objection must be in writing and need to be provided with supporting evidence.
Also, if you believe that the company or any of its employees have acted fraudulently then this matter should be reported to Investigation and Enforcement Services. The Company Investigations team within the Insolvency Service has the power to investigate limited companies where information received suggests corporate abuse; this may include serious misconduct, fraud, scams or sharp practice in the way a company operates. They have investigatory powers to look into the affairs of a company where this is evidence of fraud or misfeasance and can be contacted at Intelligence.email@example.com”
I’m not sure if Emma Ruth Developments has acted fraudulently but I’d like to know how a company that shouldn’t even be in existence is allowed to lend money to another company.
I might also ask why Companies House has done sod all for so long . . . but I’d be wasting my time.
Last week we were in Knighton, reading about a bunch of selfless people on a civilising mission. En passant I mentioned the Knighton Hotel, where once Paul Williams was cock o’ the walk . . . or something.
A source informs me that the old pile has been sold. And the new owner is Na’Ím Anís Paymán. A 26-year-old German citizen of German and Iranian Baha’i origins who grew up in Albania and studied at Cambridge. More in this brief autobiography.
In fact, he seems to be quite the self-publicist, with a number of videos online. But he still comes across as a likeable young man.
Paymán has formed a number of companies since 2015 and I have no reason to suspect that he’s anything other than a genuine young entrepreneur looking to make himself rich. An ambition that causes me no sleepless nights.
In the hope that it riles lefties, I’ll say it again: a genuine young entrepreneur looking to make himself rich.
If he does that by providing work for local people, if he uses local companies, tradesmen and suppliers, then all well and good.
If he takes a wrong path, then I’m sure I’ll be writing about him again.
In the ten years 2010-2011 to 2019-2020 the headline figure for SHG was £966,608,902. Obviously, some RSLs got more than others, and none got more than Labour’s favourite RSL, where the CEO is the wife of a Cardiff Labour councillor.
I have since received the figures for RSL funding in addition to SHG, for the period 01.01.2010 to 31.10.2020. The funding covered is: Housing Finance Grant, Affordable Housing Grant, Rent to Own, Physical Adaptation Grant, Innovative Housing Programme (grant and loan), Land for Housing Scheme (loan) and Registered Social Landlord Loans.
Eleven local authorities received a total of £19,969,000. While our RSLs were given £370,738,000. Once again, the big winner was Wales & West, with £39,341,000.
Combining the funding from various pots gives us £1,337,346,982. That is £1.34bn.
Of which Wales & West has received £138,824,507. Just over 10% of all the funding given to some 30 or more active RSLs.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR MILFORD HAVEN?
The Milford Haven Waterway is one of the finest deep-water anchorages on Earth, and has been recognised as such for centuries. In recent times it has attracted oil and gas companies because their huge tankers can be easily accommodated.
The area also attracts its share of con men. Who can forget Admiral Wing Commander of the SAS Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen VC, Croix de Guerre, Iron Cross (1st Class), Purple Heart and the Order of Lenin, who planned to turn Fort Hubberstone in Milford Haven into a home for ex-service personnel.
Hot on the heels of the Camp Valour project at Fort Hubberstone came a group of ‘investors’ looking to buy a different fort, The Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock. I wrote about that in Old Defensible Barracks, and the imaginatively titled sequel, Old Defensible Barracks 2.
Those involved had not yet bought the Barracks when I first wrote about them, or certainly, the Land Registry had not been informed of a change of ownership. This has now been registered and we can see from the title document that the owners are Walker Property Developments Limited.
This company was launched 14.08.2018 as Muniment Yorkshire Ltd. It became Walker Property Developments 06.07.2019, before changing its name again 02.10.2019 to VR 1844 Limited.
I assume that VR stands for Victoria Regina and 1844 tells us that the Old Defensible Barracks was built in that year.
Despite the developers saying they planned to turn the old place into apartments (see the article below, and here in pdf format), I suspected that the real attraction was the closeness to the estuary, connecting with Brexit and the need for space to park lorries. Because there is an extensive piece of land between the Barracks and the water, clearly visible in the image above.
And of course, the Pembroke-Rosslare ferry is almost next door.
This suspicion was strengthened by the Singapore connection found with the directors of Walker Property Developments – including the eponymous Walker, who lives there – and Singaporean connections with another coastal site, in the Six Counties, and again, very close to ferry ports.
Lorry parks may still be the objective, but as I mentioned towards the end of the second article, there is also the possibilty of Milford Haven, or the whole Waterway, becoming a freeport. Which, again, could account for the interest from Singapore, which is perhaps the biggest freeport in the world.
Others have also been buying sections of the Waterway shoreline. With interest coming from equally exotic locations: Cyprus, Jordan . . . Carmarthenshire.
Let’s start in September 2015, with WalesOnline gilding a press release – no questions, no critical analysis. To believe the report, a company nobody’d heard of was going to bring 560 jobs to Milford Haven over the next five years through, “£685 million in a Centre of Renewable Energy Excellence”.
The company named in the fable was, “Cypriot-owned energy company” Egnedol Ltd. We were told it had bought the former Gulf refinery at Waterston and the neighbouring RNAD mine depot at Blackbridge.
I hedge my bets because there are caveats attaching to the ownership of both sites.
The Blackbridge site has received loans from Suleiman Al Daoud, of Amman, Jordan. Who in September became a director of Egnedol Wales Limited. So he could be said to now own the site. By the same token, he could also be said to own the oil refinery site.
UPDATE: I got to wondering about Suleiman Al Daoud. The Al Daoud Group is an established company that seems to concentrate on residential properties and retail complexes in Jordan.
I can’t find any evidence of the Group operating outside of Jordan. So what attracted Suleiman Al Daoud to Milford Haven?
Then there is yet another company, Egnedol UK Limited, which uses a Milford Haven address but with directors Dr Robert Prigmore and Steven Whitehouse living in the Ammanford area.
Prigmore and Whitehouse appear in the other Egnedol companies, together with Antonis Andrea Antoniadis, who maintains the Cyprus connection.
And if Cyprus and Jordan weren’t enough overseas involvement, Prigmore and Whitehouse have yet another company, Azolis UK Ltd, formed as recently as September this year, where we find two French directors.
Explained by the fact that this latest company is an offshoot or subsidiary of French renewables company Azolis, which has offices in Fontainebleau and Casablanca.
So, all this overseas interest in Milford Haven Waterway, what does it mean? What does the future hold? The possibilities appear to be:
Brexit-related, possibly lorry parks.
Hoping to cash in on the Swansea Bay City Deal.
Anticipating a freeport and getting in ahead of the rush.
A home for nuclear subs when Scotland goes independent.
One thing I guarantee. Whatever happens, it’ll be strangers reaping the benefits, as always. That’s the way Wales is run, and devolution has brought no improvement.
In fairness, the ‘Welsh Government’ may have no influence over what’s happening on the Milford Haven Waterway. It could all be planned at a higher level and those clowns might be told at a later date.
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 few weeks back I wrote Elections, May 2021, which some may have thought was a bit premature. Well, things have hotted up and there’s no doubting it now – the election campaign has definitely started!
THE ‘NATIONAL MOVEMENT’
In this piece I’m going to focus on elements of what is often referred to as ‘the national movement’. Partly because I’ve been part of this movement for over 50 years and partly because that’s where much of the action seems to be at the moment.
Let’s start with Yes Cymru, which has seen phenomenal growth this year, with the trend accelerating in recent weeks. But this growing interest in independence has not resulted in any increase in support for Plaid Cymru
In fact, according to the latest Welsh Political Barometer Poll Plaid Cymru remains in third place for the constituency vote next May (but up by 2%), and in the same position for the regional list vote (down by 1%).
The poll predicts Plaid will win 15 seats, and if Labour only wins the 25 predicted then we’re in for a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition. Five years of virtue signalling, pumping more money into the third sector, being told what to do by lobbyists and civil servants, while blaming every Tom Dick and Boris for Wales’ continuing economic and social woes.
In August, there had been a YouGov poll which suggested that, with Don’t knows removed, 51% of Labour voters would support independence if the option was put to them in a referendum. The same poll suggested that only 45% of those who voted for Plaid Cymru in December 2019 would definitely vote for independence.
Which highlights two problems for Plaid Cymru.
On the one hand, most of those who could be won over to independence do not vote for Plaid Cymru, and never will. While on the other hand, the party has in recent years attracted oddball cliques that see Plaid Cymru as just another mouthpiece for what really matters to them, and these have little or no interest in Wales or in Welsh independence.
This is bad news all round for Plaid Cymru, and yet it’s a problem that often afflicts socialist or ‘progressive’ parties, as this tweet, quoting Irish revolutionary, James Connolly, reminds us.
The message there, and certainly the lesson for Plaid Cymru, is that in Ireland, in the early twentieth century, the socialist movement stayed focused on Ireland, and independence. It did not allow itself to be sidetracked by cranks and dilettantes.
Plaid Cymru not benefiting from the growth in support for Yes Cymru, or from the increasing interest in the option of independence, explains them desperately pushing the idea that anyone leaning in that direction must vote for the party – because there is no alternative.
But when you think about the panel above, if Plaid Cymru was the party it pretends to be then it wouldn’t need people to ‘lend’ it their vote. Anyone wanting or even considering independence would already be a Plaid Cymru voter.
That Plaid’s support remains static, uninfluenced by the rise in support for independence, speaks volumes.
And of course, Plaid Cymru is no longer the only party promoting independence. We now have Gwlad and the WNP.
The argument used against these newcomers is that they will ‘split the nationalist vote’, which is laughable. By being unable to win over independence-minded supporters of other parties, and with so few in its own ranks wanting independence, Plaid Cymru is already splitting the nationalist vote.
Or, maybe, it has failed dismally to maximise the nationalist vote.
The truth is that the new parties can only increase the nationalist vote by attracting those who wouldn’t ‘lend’ their vote to Plaid Cymru if the offer came gift-wrapped and with a weekend in Tenby thrown in.
Plaid Cymru will, I’m sure, lose votes to Gwlad. I’m thinking of socially conservative nationalists who’ve stuck with the party despite the lurch to the left and who, more recently, have been alienated by the intolerant advocates of identity politics.
If these traditionalists desert in any substantial number then Plaid Cymru will be even more under the control of the aforementioned cranks and dilettantes. Irrespective of who is paraded as the party ‘leader’.
As for those Labour voters prepared to go for independence if a referendum was held, we know where they live. The great majority of them in the urban south between Burry Port and Blaenavon. And many of them voted for Brexit.
Yet Plaid Cymru has recently said that an independent Wales will be a member of the European Union, no ifs or buts. And with no mention of a referendum!
A political party talking down to those it claims to want as voters deserves to be rejected. But this contempt for the white working class seems to be the norm among socialist parties nowadays.
Though maybe some half-hearted effort will be made to reach out to the anglophone working class.
For Plaid Cymru recently applied to register a new descriptor with the Electoral Commission. That new descriptor is New Wales Party, NWP.
What a coincidence! For earlier last month the WNP applied to register as the Welsh Nation Party, WNP.
After I’d been alerted to it I put out the above tweet last Friday. On Monday, there was an article in Llais y Sais. Now why the hell would something apparently so minor justify such an article?
Though according to the article, the decision to apply to the Electoral Commission for the change was not made by the National Executive Committee of Plaid Cymru. So who was responsible? The cleaner at Tŷ Gwynfor?
Who’s running this show!
Something else that struck me about the article was that the writer, Martin Shipton, seemed to have forgotten that Plaid Cymru already had the English name Party of Wales. Is that to be dropped?
But it didn’t end with the article. There was even an editorial!
So much coverage for Plaid Cymru, insisting the change had been under discussion for yonks! A cynic might suggest it sounds like Plaid Cymru desperately trying to explain itself after being caught out in a spoiling tactic intended to confuse voters.
It also suggests that Martin Shipton might be going soft on Plaid Cymru.
Plaid Cymru’s shortcomings may be exposed to the world but it still has options for promoting itself and attacking rivals. Within Yes Cymru, Plaid Cymru supporters urge members to join the party, and last weekend we saw Plaid use an old subsidiary in the form of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (CyIG), the Welsh Language Society.
At the CyI AGM a motion was passed saying, “the pressure group would refuse to engage with anyone whom in their words: ‘promote and tolerate prejudice against any groups, be they LGBT +, black people, migrants or women’.”
And that included Gwlad!
An interesting choice of words, though. “Tolerate prejudice” rather than being prejudiced is straight from the BLM playbook, where not being racist isn’t enough. And I was struck by the use of “migrants” rather than ‘refugees’. Basically, anyone should be allowed to move anywhere without any checks.
Infantile, open borders, anti-Western drivel.
Though consistent. Because Cymdeithas yr Iaith wants Wales to be open to everybody. Which means that a group trying to keep Welsh alive as a community language seems unaware that the biggest threat to the language is inward migration to the language heartlands.
That motion suggests CyIG’s priority now is playing politics rather than saving the language.
Just like Plaid Cymru Cymdeithas suffers from the problem of grabbing off-the-shelf global positions and being unwilling or unable to modify them for Wales.
Look around Europe at small nations or minority groups, Basques, Corsicans and others. Yes, they have socialist parties or groups, but their socialism is used to benefit their people and promote their cause. Not so in Wales.
Saving the planet means covering Wales in foreign-owned wind turbines that create no jobs and put only crumbs into Welsh communities. While supporting migration makes it ‘racist’ to challenge the colonisation of Wales.
Which makes Wales unique in having ‘socialists’ unwilling to challenge colonialism in their own country!
Yet there’s humour in everything. And while Cymdeithas yr Iaith has clearly been infiltrated by the ‘wokies’ there remains the long and embarrassing shadow of Saunders Lewis.
Saunders Lewis was a founder member of Plaid Cymru, an academic, WWI veteran, a playwright, author, convert to Catholicism, and well to the right of the political centre. His 1962 radio lecture, Tynged yr Iaith (the Future of the Language) was the inspiration for the formation of Cymdeithas yr Iaith.
But the wokies cannot acknowledge Saunders Lewis. He cannot even be named! As we see in the panel below taken from the Society’s website.
It’s surely only a matter of time until the reference to “a leading academic” is also excised. I can see the next version – ‘Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg was formed at a congress of workers, peasants and intellectuals that had gathered to discuss sending volunteers to Cuba to fight US imperialist aggression’. Right on!
Joking aside, there’s little in the short term that Plaid Cymru, Yes Cymru, Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Gwlad or the WNP can do to bring Welsh independence nearer. I say that because factors beyond our control are likely to be much more influential.
I’m thinking now of Scottish independence, and the reaction to that of the Labour Party in Wales. Or perhaps it won’t be the party itself that puts Wales on the path to the final rupture but the party’s voters.
I’m suggesting that those who reject Plaid Cymru could help deliver independence. What irony that would be. So much for Plaid Cymru being ‘the only way’!
In the meantime, the UK state will do what it can to support Plaid Cymru. Because as I never tire of telling you, from London’s perspective Plaid Cymru is the ideal ‘national party’.
In a flattering light Plaid Cymru can pass for a national party, but its true benefit lies in its dog-in-a-manger role, blocking the emergence of genuine nationalist parties. Its leaders are biddable, easily seduced with peerages and other ‘honours’, but the party – and this extends to its subsidiary groups – is no threat whatsoever to the constitutional status quo or the colonisation of Wales.
For what more could Mother England ask?
IN OTHER NEWS . . .
Limbering up for May’s elections has not been confined to the disparate elements of the national movement, and confirmation of this has come from wildly differing directions.
Let’s start with an old favourite on this blog.
You’ll recall that a couple of years back, and by a substantial majority, members of the self-styled Wales Green Party voted against becoming . . . . the Wales Green Party. Thereby and irrevocably confirming that they were naught but the local branch of the Green Party of Englandandwales.
But lo! even these colonialist carpet-baggers have sensed the changing mood and are now in favour of Welsh independence! As reported here in Left Foot Forward. (Of which I am an avid reader.)
“Wales can stand alone”, says Siân Berry . . . but not, apparently, her party’s members in Wales. Driving this inconsistency ad absurdum we could have an independent Wales in which elections are contested by the Green Party of Englandandwales.
At the very least, and if only, for once, to be consistent, the Greens in Wales should now break from England to form a genuine Wales Green Party. To not do so makes them look like opportunists jumping on a bandwagon.
Let me explain what drives this new-found enthusiasm for our national liberation. For it dovetails perfectly with what attracts the oddballs, cranks and dilettantes I mentioned earlier to Plaid Cymru.
Under devolution, and especially with the virtue-signallers managing the show, pressure groups and assorted cranks have realised they can wield influence in Wales to an extent that would not be tolerated in better regulated countries.
This unwelcome phenomenon explains, for example, why we have One Planet Developments. Put simply, Wales is becoming internationally known as a ‘soft touch’.
The thinking therefore runs . . . ‘If we can get all this in a devolved Wales, then we could control an independent Wales’. Elections would be a minor inconvenience, for cohorts of Estuary English-speaking charlatans in Corruption Bay would control the political process and the spending priorities.
The only way out of this nightmare is to stop voting for politicians and political parties manipulated by people who simply want to use our country, and our money, to fulfil their fantasies.
In my earlier piece I told you about a new grouping called the Independent Alliance for Reform.
This has been formed by David Rowlands, who was elected in 2016 as the Ukip AM for South Wales East; Caroline Jones, elected at the same time for Ukip in South Wales West; and Mandy Jones, who took over the North Wales Ukip seat vacated when Nathan Gill resigned in 2018.
This could be a half-way house, and the word to emphasise may be Reform. I say that because the Electoral Commission’s website tells us that an application has recently been received, and is under consideration, to relaunch the Brexit Party as Reform UK.
If I’m right, then this would leave Neil Hamilton as the last man standing of the 7 that made up Ukip’s 2016 intake.
The other player for the Brexit / London-knows-best vote is of course the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. No doubt, some time between now and next May they’ll realise that what they seek to abolish has changed its name.
For the first time in a long time Welsh politics is looking interesting. Partly because of what’s happening in Wales, but mainly because of what’s happening in London, and Scotland, and elsewhere.
For the arrogance, ineptitude and corruption we see from the Conservative government in Westminster has done more to make Welsh independence an attractive proposition than anything happening in Wales.
With the SNP more likely to deliver Welsh independence than Plaid Cymru.
And while Wales voted for Brexit, we did not vote for the looming disaster that will make us even poorer, perhaps turning Holyhead and Fishguard into ghost towns.
All that being so, it really is time for Plaid Cymru to adopt a little humility and accept the realities of modern Wales. Which are:
1/ Plaid Cymru is not the only party or group advocating independence.
2/ Most of those coming around to the idea of independence do not vote for Plaid Cymru and are unlikely to ever vote for Plaid Cymru.
3/ The independence movement contains individuals, groups and political parties with which Plaid Cymru will not see eye to eye. Grow up and accept it!
4/ However, if ideological purity is more important than independence, and if Plaid Cymru continues to align itself with Unionist parties, cranks and others exploiting Wales, then it must expect to be regarded with suspicion.
5/ Ultimately, Plaid Cymru is faced with a simple choice. Either be part of the movement for Welsh independence, or else remain a self-deluding obstacle to achieving independence.
6/ Things are moving in ways that leave Welsh politicians impotent. So look beyond the Corruption Bay bubble, take in the bigger picture, and be ready to seize the opportunities that will surely come our way.
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
The next elections for the Welsh Parliament are just over six months away; so this week I’m taking a break from crooks, money-launderers, con men, enviroshysters, third sector leeches to focus on politicians.
Reading that, the cynics among you will say, “So no great change there, then, Jac!”.
How dare you be so disrespectful of our tribunes! Go stand in the corner!
THE 2016 RESULT
Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the overall result from the previous election in 2016.
The first thing you might notice is that despite these elections being organised under a system of proportional representation the result, certainly for Labour, the biggest party, gives an outcome not a lot different to first past the post.
You’ll also see that the main challengers get seats roughly in line with their share of the vote, with the smaller parties generally losing out. It’s a system designed to protect the Labour-dominated status quo in Wales, while also stifling ‘insurgent’ parties.
This system has worked to perfection in Wales because the Conservatives are unlikely to ever gain a majority of seats. And when Labour fails to get a majority then Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats will always be there to help.
After the 2016 election Labour went into coalition with the sole Liberal Democrat AM. Which meant that parties with a total of 38% of the vote were able to form an administration.
Is this really how PR is supposed to work?
THE LABOUR PARTY
At the risk of sounding uncharitable, the great thing the Labour Party has had going for it is . . . not being the Conservative Party. The advertising campaigns, the policy drafting, the tub-thumping and the sloganising could all have been ignored in favour of the simple message – ‘Vote for us, cos we’re not the Tories’.
And it’s worked, for almost a century.
In England, the decline of traditional industries, and their associated trade unions, have weakened the Labour Party. Labour in Scotland suffered the same problem, exacerbated by the rise of the Scottish National Party to the point where Labour is hanging on for dear life, with just one Westminster MP left.
In Wales, Labour has fared better because we’ve been spared the corrupting influence of prosperity, and also because there is no equivalent of the SNP. Of course, Plaid Cymru likes to view itself as the Welsh SNP but the SNP set out to destroy the Labour Party in Scotland whereas Plaid Cymru seeks to keep its Welsh branch alive and in power.
How Labour will do next May depends to a considerable extent on perceptions of the Conservative government in London. For while Scotland has a vigorous national media allowing elections to be influenced by Scottish issues, the absence of a Welsh media worthy of the name means that here we tend see Englandandwales elections.
The exception being perhaps areas with high numbers of Welsh speakers who are less reliant on news from London.
On issues of the day, there is a general and widespread belief that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than Johnson, Hancock, Jenrick and the rest of the gang up in London.
But then, being seen as less incompetent than that crew is no great achievement.
When we address purely Welsh issues, it’s difficult to think of anything Labour has to crow about. For Wales continues to fall behind other countries in areas like wealth, health, housing and education.
Cardiff seems to be prospering but away from the Lesser Wen the country can be divided into post-industrial areas experiencing managed decline and rural areas undergoing engineered population change from Welsh to English.
Labour leader, Mark Drakeford, is less oleaginous than his predecessor, Carwyn Jones, but still a difficult man to like. Despite the Brownie points gained for Covid-19 there remain plenty of bear traps for him to negotiate between here and next May.
By any criteria one cares to apply, Labour has been a failure since 2016. Labour has failed Wales since the dawn of devolution in 1999. But for the reasons I’ve given, Labour will still emerge as the largest single party, with around 30% of the vote.
But well short of a majority of seats.
If nothing else, such a result should increase calls for more Senedd Members and a system of true proportional representation.
THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY (CUP)
The last few years have been a series of peaks and troughs for the CUP, with Brexit almost tearing the party apart under Theresa May. Things took a turn for the better when Boris Johnson became party leader and won a famous victory in December . . . since when it’s been downhill again.
In last December’s election the Tories won a number of seats in the north, most notably, Wrexham, held by Labour since 1931. But the overall vote in Wales only increased by 2.5%. The real story was that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party saw its Welsh vote go down by 8%.
Things have not gone well for the CUP since that December election for all sorts of reasons. Such as a number of the new intake being pretty odious specimens.
The new MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosby, has appeared on this blog a number of times, usually defending her colleague and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry. Berry owns properties around Rhoscolyn and earlier this year people were asking if he was breaking lockdown restrictions to travel between his Welsh properties, his London home, and his constituency.
The situation does not look like improving for the Tories, for two main reasons.
Let’s look first at Covid-19. As I said in the previous section, the Conservative government in London has had a disastrous pandemic: incompetence, lies, contracts to cronies, it’s all there, and this will be remembered next May.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Tories seem determined to alienate even more people by insisting that the ‘Welsh Government’ is being anti-English when – for perhaps the first time ever – it prioritises the interests of Wales.
I believe it’s the latter, because in spouting this nonsense, the Tories are playing to a particular gallery. I’m thinking now of the anti-Welsh, gammony element that might otherwise be seduced by the growing number of splinter group parties on the BritNat fringe. (I’ll come to them later.)
The other problem of their own making is, again, Brexit. Of course Wales voted for Brexit, but I’m sure very few of us voted for privatising the NHS, chlorinated chicken, and undermining the Welsh farming industry. I certainly didn’t.
But it’s now become clear that a No Deal Brexit was always the favoured option for the CUP leadership in London. Which will mean the City of London remains at the centre of the biggest money-laundering network in the world; the NHS is opened up to US Big Pharma; and we have to get used to food products from the USA, where standards in both hygiene and animal welfare are more ‘relaxed’.
All the Welsh CUP MPs voted for this deal. Which is not clever for people representing constituencies with large numbers of farmers . . . and their extended families . . . and contractors to the industry, and so many others who rely to a greater or lesser degree on agriculture for their livelihoods.
There will be a price to pay next May for the coronavirus cock-ups and the shafting of our farmers. And while the Tories in Corruption Bay weren’t responsible, it’ll be some of them who’ll pay the price.
Other factors working against the Conservatives will be the Englandandwales media/election paradigm and the Vera Lynn Fan Clubs competing for regional votes.
For all these reasons I expect the CUP representation in the Welsh Parliament to fall.
PLAID CYMRU THE PARTY OF WALES
Although Plaid Cymru won 12 seats in 2016 the party is now down to 10. Lord Elis Thomas, the constituency member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, left to become a Labour-supporting Independent; and Neil McEvoy, the regional AM for South Wales Central, left to sit as an Independent before forming the Welsh National Party (WNP).
A further change since 2016 is that Plaid Cymru also has a new leader in Adam Price. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about him is that he’s not former leader, Leanne Wood.
For most Welsh voters Plaid Cymru is the party of Welsh independence, but as I’ve argued, Plaid Cymru is a party that sought more autonomy for Wales, more funding for Wales, and the creation of a new class of politicians and administrators made up of . . . well, the kind of people who populate the upper echelons of Plaid Cymru.
This was to be a system that created a new class that Djilas would have recognised enjoying prestige and influence without the responsibility of having to fund it. Devolution, with a bit more power, many more sinecures, and lots more money, is the end of the line.
Plaid Cymru was always Cymru Fydd resurrected, not a Welsh Sinn Féin. Until, that is, it moved to the left in the 1980s and really screwed itself up. Enjoying only a brief period of coherence under the leadership of Dafydd Wigley and the first Assembly elections in 1999.
Today we again see a schizophrenic party where Welsh-speaking social conservatives from the rural heartlands mix uncomfortably with some real oddballs and a few with views that should have denied them membership.
Plaid Cymru is today one of those confused leftist parties that is vehemently opposed to intolerance . . . except when it’s those it approves of being intolerant.
As a leftist party Plaid Cymru believes that, thanks to the capitalist system, we’re either going to fry due to global warming, or else we’re going to drown from rising sea levels, so Wales must play its part in trying to avert these outcomes.
In practice, that means supporting wind turbines that create no jobs and simply exploit Wales. Where profits flow to a City hedge fund, or a multinational, or a state-owned energy company from Scandinavia.
Except on issues that are largely irrelevant to Wales – where Plaid Cymru can play gesture politics – the party comes across as weak and indecisive. Take holiday homes. Plaid talks the talk but it won’t walk the walk.
At present Welsh local authorities can impose a council tax surcharge on holiday homes up to 100%. The only council that levies the 100% is Labour-controlled Swansea. (And despite what you might think, there are many holiday homes on the waterfront, in Mumbles, and of course around Gower.)
But Gwynedd, where Plaid Cymru is in control, imposes only a 50% surcharge. It’s a similar picture in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.
On independence, Plaid Cymru has been outflanked and overtaken by Yes Cymru. While on the party political front there are two new challengers in the form of Gwlad and the Welsh National Party (WNP). Both are unequivocal about prioritising Welsh interests, and are fully committed to achieving independence.
So you really have to wonder what Plaid Cymru stands for nowadays, and where it’s going. That’s certainly what Welsh voters will be doing in May. Many will conclude that Plaid Cymru has hit the buffers.
Which certainly seems to be the case.
For while opinion polls tell us that more and more people are prepared to consider independence, those same polls show little or no increase in support for Plaid Cymru. Recent polls show 51% of Labour voters prepared to consider independence, but only 71% of Plaid Cymru voters!
What’s going wrong for Plaid Cymru?
In a nutshell, Plaid Cymru believes that the only acceptable vision of independence must be well to the left of centre, pro EU, in favour of open borders, anti Trump, and dragging a whole baggage train of ishoo-of-the-month idiocies that turn off most voters.
Dogmatic to the point of being unelectable.
Plaid Cymru always failed to engage with the urban, anglophone population. After the disappointment of Brexit, the success of the Brexit Party (winning the May 2019 EU elections in Wales and the UK), and BoJo’s victory last December, many in Plaid Cymru – like the US Democrats – have given up trying to win over stupid, racist, poor whites.
They find it preferable to retreat into their cocoons of progressive self-righteousness in the echo chamber of social media.
Which is why I believe Plaid Cymru will lose Ceredigion and also end up with fewer Members from the regional lists.
There’s a temptation to be very unkind in this section . . . but it’s not in my nature to put the boot in when somebody’s down. And boy! are the Liberal Democrats down.
It’s an amazing decline for the party of David Lloyd George, but entirely predictable when we consider the quality of leaders and representatives in recent years at both Welsh and UK level. I’m not sure if Ms Williams holds group meetings with herself but I’m sure she will have thought the same thing many a time.
And yet, despite currently being down to a solitary representative, the Liberal Democrats could be the big winners in May next year.
As I’ve suggested, the CUP has pissed off a lot of people, and most certainly a lot of farmers. Few will know that better than Kirsty Williams, a farmer’s wife.
Obviously, I’m not privy to what goes on at Welsh Liberal Democrat Party meetings (I can never find the telephone kiosk!) but I’m sure Kirsty Williams has hopes for the seats of Montgomeryshire to the north and Ceredigion to the west. (If the students in Aber’ and Lampeter have forgiven the Lib Dems for reneging on tuition fees.)
So I’m predicting that the Liberal Democrats could double, or even treble, their representation in May 2021. These are the three constituencies mentioned, and there might even be a regional list seat.
VERA LYNN FAN CLUBS
This is where it gets tricky, because the landscape on the BritNat right is forever shifting. Hardly surprising when we look at the personalities involved, and realise how many of them are often described as ‘interesting’, or ‘eccentric’ (code for ‘absolute nutter’).
Back in 2016, the big winner among this section of the electorate was UKIP, with 13% of the vote and seven seats. The Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party did not stand constituency candidates and got just 4.4% of the regional vote (which was still more than the share won by the Green Party of Englandandwales).
Since 2016 UKIP has had eight or nine UK leaders, numerous resignations, and in Corruption Bay is now reduced to the solitary – but dapper – form of Neil Hamilton. In fact, I’m not sure if Neil Hamilton isn’t the current party leader. Or was that last month?
Not so long ago the Abolish lot was the fringe of a fringe, but now it boasts two Members of the Senedd, Gareth Bennett and Mark Reckless. Though you’ve gotta be pretty desperate to boast about those two.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at those UKIP meetings because by comparison ferrets in a sack are models of harmony and co-existence.
The most recent development is that Rowlands and the Jones women have formed a new group, the Independent Alliance for Reform. And if that name doesn’t stir something deep inside you – other than wind – then you are beyond hope.
It is obviously designed to be interchangeable with or to complement Aux barricades!
And all the while, in the wings, observing, is Nigel Farage. Will his Reform Party put in a late appearance, or will it be the promised relaunch of the Brexit Party? Though with Brexit almost done what would be the platform?
For let us remember that the Assembly elections of May 2016 were held just ahead of the EU referendum and were almost overshadowed by it. This propinquity benefited Ukip.
One thing’s for sure, if all the parties we’ve looked at in this section fight all the seats then we’ll be royally entertained by the stars they’ll recruit from Wetherspoons and other squelchy underfoot salons. A goodly number of whom will have to withdraw before the election after saying or doing something really stupid.
The BritNat right has no hope of a constituency seat, so hopes rest on the regional lists. Which means that a lot will depend on whether they fight each other or come to some arrangement.
I suspect there are still enough “Brexit means Brexit” types out there to win 3 seats.
THE SERIOUS ABOUT WALES PARTIES
Looking around Wales and seeing the mess this country is in is painful enough, but when you realise that none of the existing parties offers any hope of meaningful change, then new parties will be formed.
And that’s exactly what’s happened; and why we have Gwlad and the WNP.
I am a member of Gwlad and played a small part in its creation, but it was easy for me to withdraw to the blogosphere because the party is in such capable hands.
I like to think that Gwlad combines patriotism with pragmatism. For example, in believing that relying on handouts from London, as Labour and Plaid Cymru prefer, only perpetuates the misconception that Wales could never stand on her own two feet economically.
There are radical yet practical proposals across the board. We’ve already touched on Plaid Cymru’s fear of upsetting second home owners – a number in their own ranks – with meaningful levels of council tax; well, Gwlad does not hesitate to demand a 500% council tax surcharge.
Predictably, the criticism levelled against Gwlad by Plaid Cymru is that we shall “split the nationalist vote”. This is nonsense, because Plaid Cymru has already split – or certainly, limited – the nationalist vote by its inflexible and off-putting socialism.
This is borne out in recent elections and in even more so in recent opinion polls.
What Gwlad will do is reach out to those who want, or would be prepared to consider, independence, but could never vote for a hard-line socialist party also lumbered with the tag of still being a party only for Welsh speakers.
Gwlad could come through a crowded field to win a constituency seat and should certainly collect 3 or 4 regional list seats.
Of course, I’ve met Neil McEvoy a few times and we exchange the occasional e-mail, Wales is a small country after all. But I really don’t know much about his new party beyond what I read in the media.
Though I do know a few others involved with the WNP.
Over the years I’ve sunk a few pints with Councillor Keith Parry . . . and I’m still haunted by a car journey one very rainy night as I tried to concentrate on the road ahead while my mate and Keith’s Jewish wife argued over the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum.
I feared it was all going to end in a fight and a fireball car crash. Phew!
Many observers try to say that Neil McEvoy only took the course he did in forming the WNP because he was effectively thrown out of Plaid Cymru. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Neil has been in politics a long time, and he knows what’s wrong with Wales. On one level it’s London’s political, economic and cultural stranglehold, but on the local level it’s the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru.
Labour holds power on local councils and in the Senedd . . . simply to be in power; to stop someone else getting the salaries and the expenses, attending the bun-fights and the jollies. Labour has little intention – and no real incentive – to improve the lives of our people because for a century it has capitalised on Wales’ deprivation.
Plaid Cymru, as I’ve said, is a party of gestures and abstractions. It is the twenty-first century political equivalent of those medieval divines who would argue over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
But actually doing anything? Forget it!
But if one of his constituents persuades him they’re getting a raw deal, then Neil McEvoy will take up the case and demand something be done about it. And he sometimes ruffles feathers doing it. But if kids are sharing a bedroom with rats, or there’s water rippling down the kitchen wall . . .
Neil McEvoy is a do-er, a man who believes in the direct approach; and that makes the anguished attitudinisers of Plaid Cymru very nervous. And never more so than when he confronts the Labour Party.
Sticking it to the man may outrage the sensitive flowers of Plaid Cymru but it goes down well with real people, on the streets of Cardiff, and elsewhere in Wales. People want their problems solved, they do not want to be patronised, or taken for granted, by an aloof and self-serving political class.
The big test will come in the constituency seat of Cardiff West, where McEvoy will be standing against First Minister Drakeford. Plaid Cymru will of course be splitting the nationalist vote in the hope of securing victory for Mark Drakeford.
Neil McEvoy’s street cred and his sheer hard work might win Cardiff West next May, plus a couple of regional list seats.
My very personal belief is that Gwlad and the WNP should not get in each other’s way next May. Neither has the strength yet to fight a full national election so it’s in their interests, and more importantly, it’s in Wales’s interests, for there to be some kind of deal.
I obviously can’t account for all those who might be standing next May, there’s bound to be a wild card or two. But what you’ve just read is how I see it panning out.
Other factors will I’m sure influence voters. Perhaps the UK government’s Internal Markets Bill; supposedly about ‘repatriating’ powers from the EU but which, in reality, gives BoJo’s gang the power to trample all over devolution.
Perhaps it will even be used to challenge the 1707 Act of Union.
More specific to Wales is a growing awareness of and dislike for the chumminess of Cardiff Bay. The air of cronyism and unaccountability exemplified by Labour and Plaid Cymru refusing to bring in a register of lobbyists.
The problem in this area is obvious, but there are always excuses for doing nothing. This is because Labour and Plaid Cymru are too close to those who might be held to account by such legislation.
Another issue that might influence some voters to take a punt on a new party is the widespread perception that Cardiff gets everything. Which doesn’t change when an MS goes to Cardiff promising to speak up for his area . . . only to be sucked into the swamp that is Corruption Bay.
But perhaps we should remember Harold Macmillan’s response when asked what was most likely to influence or derail political plans. Supermac is said to have replied: “Events, dear boy, events.”
In other words, that which cannot be foreseen. Six months is a very long time in politics.
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
We are confronted by a paradox. The stock of housing in Wales is growing, yet less and less of it is accessible to Welsh people.
What I’m describing is a bizarre housing system that works against the native population while promoting the interests of strangers. A system too complex and too consistent in its outcomes to be attributed to incompetence or happenstance.
Once the bigger problem is deconstructed and its component parts exposed, then remedies present themselves. All that’s needed then is the political will to implement those remedies.
In this article I shall explain a problem and then make one or more suggestions for tackling it. I’m sure many of you reading this will have your own ideas – so let’s hear them.
PRICES, TOO HIGH AND TOO LOW
When dealing with house prices we find problems at both ends of the scale. On the one hand, houses are being built in many areas that most locals can’t afford – but that’s OK because they’re not intended for us.
Take Newport, Pembrokeshire, a ‘holiday hotspot’. Locals are being squeezed out of the local housing market and this shortfall is then used to justify building new housing . . . that is also beyond the reach of locals!
Those who profit from trading in undesirables – with the full support and financial backing of the ‘Welsh Government’ – were initially attracted to Ty Isha by low house prices, and they have succeeded in driving property values down even more!
Some of those interviewed in the report are now trapped in houses they have lived in all their married lives but can only sell at a price below what a house such as theirs would fetch in a normal neighbourhood.
Yet in a system that prioritised Welsh needs the small terraced houses of Ty Isha would make ideal starter homes for young people.
SUGGESTIONS: In the case of Newport, Pembs and countless other such developments, the answer is that we simply do not allow the building of new properties that locals either do not wish to buy or cannot afford to buy.
I’ll explain later how we could both achieve this and forecast local need.
To argue that allowing such properties takes the pressure of the existing stock, thereby making many such properties available for local buyers, is absolute bollocks. The numbers wanting to relocate to Wales is limitless, and the demand for holiday homes insatiable.
As for Ty Isha, funding should be withdrawn from any third sector body importing problems from outside of Wales to any part of Wales. The same should apply to housing associations.
I shall also offer suggestions for achieving these objectives.
Those whose properties have been devalued, and their lives affected by the riff-raff dumped around them, should be compensated by the ‘Welsh Government’.
THE NUMBERS GAME
Let’s now focus on the problem of houses being built in numbers greatly in excess of what Wales needs. And, again, at prices most of us can’t afford. This is particularly noticeable in the eastern parts of the country as English commuters look west for cheaper housing and nicer scenery.
Black-spots are along the A55 in the north and the M4 in the south and, since the removal of tolls on the Severn Bridge, increasingly evident in southern Gwent, including the city of Newport. An example would be the 900 dwellings of the ‘urban village’ planned for Mamhilad, north of Pontypool, towards Abergavenny, but close enough to the M4 for Bristol commuters.
Building in Wales to meet a demand from England has also become noticeable around Wrexham in recent years. It begins with the ‘Welsh Government’ producing absurd population projections to justify building an excessive number of new houses.
Then, when the projections are shown to be exaggerated, the Planning Inspectorate insists on sticking with the original number of new houses. This article explains it well.
I looked into this problem back as March 2014 in a piece I wrote about Denbighshire. The council said, “Look, the latest projections suggest a smaller population increase, so we don’t need to build so many new houses”.
The Planning Inspectorate’s response was, “Yes, you’re right about the population projections . . . but we insist on sticking with the original number of new dwellings”.
A response like that sort of gives the game away, doesn’t it?
Back in 2011 the ‘Welsh Government’ was insisting that the population of Wrexham would increase by 20% in the near future, then the projected increase reduced to 10%, and the latest calculation is that the borough’s population will actually fall by 1.5% by 2028! Yet the number of houses ‘needed’ must remain the same as when an increase of 20% was forecast.
As the map above makes clear, the planned developments are all to the north or the east of the town, in other words, convenient for Cheshire. Or rather, convenient for those who aren’t wanted in Cheshire, in order to preserve property values in Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and the other communities of the ‘Golden Triangle’.
What has clearly been happening is that the ‘Welsh Government’ (or others acting in its name) has been producing what it knew to be inflated, contrived, population projections. Done to justify building excessive numbers of new dwellings.
When the population projections were exposed as bogus, and revised downwards, the Planning Inspectorate stuck with the discredited figures in order to push on with building what were now clearly excessive numbers of new houses.
And by so doing the Planning Inspectorate exposed a dishonest system.
SUGGESTIONS: To begin with, calculations to determine how many new homes an area needs must be based on what the people of the area need, not on how many properties developers think they can sell. In fact, I can’t think of any good reason why developers need to be involved in assessing demand.
The Wrecsam area being used to take pressure off Cheshire is part of the wider integration strategy of the Mersey Dee Alliance. A giveaway is estate agents referring to the area as ‘West Cheshire’.
The Planning Inspectorate does not serve Welsh interests, it never has. It must be replaced with a new Welsh body free from political interference and divorced from commercial interests.
Why can’t we have a register of those who think they’ll be looking to buy a new home within an area; something similar to the waiting list for social housing. Once people grasp that contributing to such a database will make it more likely they’ll find the home they need then the more likely they’ll be to participate.
A perennial issue in Wales and the Covid lockdown has highlighted the problem. First, it was people sneaking to their holiday homes for lockdown rather than staying at their usual residence, while more recently it’s been the increased demand for holiday homes.
The latest figures for Gwynedd suggest that 40% of the properties being sold in the county are now bought for use as holiday homes. Take the towns out of the calculation and it’s reasonable to assume that a majority of the properties in villages and in the countryside are being sold as holiday homes.
Gwynedd council is run by Plaid Cymru but it has only imposed a 50% surcharge on holiday homes. Yet another example of Plaid Cymru wringing its hands, “Oooh, isn’t it awful, something should be done”, yet when a roar of defiance was needed Plaid Cymru could only whimper.
This is Plaid Cymru terrified of being called ‘anti-English’. That mauling Glenys Kinnock handed out to Ieuan Wyn Jones on Question Time in February 2001 has left a deep and painful scar.
Compare Gwynedd to Swansea, where the Labour-controlled council has imposed a 100% surcharge, (which also applies to properties left empty for a long period). And in case you think this is only a gesture because the city has few holiday homes, there are many hundreds in the waterfront area, and of course, on Gower.
All the arguments used in defence of holiday homes are self-serving bullshit. “Nobody else wanted the place” . . . “But we put so much money into the local economy!” . . . “An essential part of the tourism industry”, etc, etc.
SUGGESTIONS: One simple change in the law would go a long way to easing the misery of holiday homes.
Legislation stating that only 10% of properties in any electoral ward can be registered as holiday homes, with the figure reducing to 5% in 2030 would have a number of immediate effects.
First, in wards where more than 10% of properties are currently registered as holiday homes such legislation would immediately curtail future demand. Knowledge of the change in 2030 would remove the threat of further properties being bought as holiday homes.
Resulting in more properties, at reduced prices, becoming available for locals.
Severe penalties must be imposed for using a property as a holiday home when it is not registered for that use. And the loophole allowing holiday homes to escape council tax by registering as a business must be closed.
To further reduce the demand for holiday homes and increase their contribution to the local community council tax should be charged at a rate of 200%.
Some may think that a 5% figure is too low, others that it’s unduly generous. My belief is that no area of Wales should suffer more than 5% of its housing stock being used by strangers flaunting their greater wealth.
RETIRING TO WALES
An often overlooked factor in inflating house prices is retired and elderly people moving to Wales. The negatives increase when we remember that the older a person is the more likely they are to need medical care of some kind. This is a universal truth.
Which means that this influx will obviously impact on our NHS and other services.
In fact, it’s difficult to think of any benefit Wales derives from people in the older age brackets moving in. But that doesn’t stop some from trying.
Some three years ago I wrote to the ‘Welsh Government’ with a few questions on this subject. What I received by way of an answer contained a paragraph that has caused either mirth, or head shaking, whenever people read it. (For the full letter, click here.)
On a planet where all other countries view an ageing population as a ‘ticking time-bomb’ Wales alone sees the takeover by alien wrinklies as something positive. Or rather, the ‘Welsh Government’ wants us to believe it does.
This is the sort of nonsense that officialdom spouts when it’s cornered. I say that because while the letter I received makes highfalutin’ references to “liberty of movement” the truth is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has enacted legislation that encourages retired and elderly people to move to Wales.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine that Welsh people going into care can hold on to £50,000, I might benefit from such a provision myself one day. But it also encourages into Wales people who have spent their working lives elsewhere. And the cost of looking after these elderly goes into the debit column of our national accounts and is used to prove that Wales is a financial basket-case.
I see a boy at the back with his hand up, “How big is the problem, Sir?”
Here’s a table I compiled using data from the 2011 Census. You’ll see that in some local authority areas only a minority of the population in the 65+ age bracket was born in Wales.
With the problem not confined to the north, just look at Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. There’s a definite correlation between tourism and the numbers of retired and elderly people moving to an area.
Though Flintshire would appear to buck the trend in that it is not a tourism hotspot, but even so, half of the over 65s were born in England. While this can be partly explained by maternity services being located in Chester I can also suggest another explanation.
Let’s say you’re a likely lad living on the Wirral. Aunt Mabel is going to leave you her money, a nice round figure of £100,000. If she goes into a local care home you might only see £23,350, but take her to Mold or Connah’s Quay and you’re guaranteed at least £50,000. More if you can get the local authority to cough up.
And, anyway, is the old girl going to know where she is!
Finally, let’s not forget the political dimension to this phenomenon. It has been proven time after time that the older an English voter is the more likely that person is to be royalist, patriotically British, pro-Brexit, conservative and Conservative.
From a Welsh perspective, encouraging retired and elderly English people into Wales is both an economic and a political disaster. But it benefits England for the same reasons.
SUGGESTIONS: There’s no need to deny Welsh people the £50,000 limit, but insist on 20 years residency in Wales before anyone qualifies.
And let’s stop building retirement bungalows and flats to be advertised over the border. Many of those who move to such properties may be fit and active when they arrive, but Father Time will soon do his work.
Only a country run by idiots drives out its own young people and replaces them with another country’s elderly.
At one time it was so simple – local authorities built and rented council houses. You put your name down on the list and you waited your turn. Obviously there was favouritism shown in certain allocations, but by and large the system worked to the benefit of Welsh communities.
Then came the housing associations and the transfer of council housing stock.
There’s a general and touching misconception that Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), more commonly known as housing associations, have simply replaced councils, and that social housing is universally available for those who cannot afford to buy a home but would rather not rent from a private landlord.
That was the intention, and that may have been how it started under the new system, but things got much more complicated as years went by. Much more complicated.
There are a number of fundamental problems with the way RSLs now operate.
1/ To begin with, social housing in Wales is locked into an Englandandwales system. This was explained to me in December 2010 in a response I received from Nick Bennett, who was then CEO of Community Housing Cymru, the umbrella organisation for housing associations.
He wrote, “There are over 2 million people on waiting lists for social housing”. This figure cannot be for Wales alone, and yet it was provided by the head of the body supposedly responsible for social housing in Wales. And only in Wales.
Bennett emerged a couple of decades ago from under a lily pad in Cardiff Bay as a fully-formed Spad, before becoming a business partner of Labour’s Alun Davies. He then served as CEO at Community Housing Cymru from 2006 to 2014, and since leaving CHC he has guarded the posterior regions of our politicians and civil servants as the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
Corruption Bay in mortal form.
Who gets a vacant house may be decided by a third sector body, in contact with a sister body in England, which has ‘recommended’ Chardonnay and her six semi-feral children; the little darlings having been chased out of their last home by neighbours fed up with the thieving and the vandalism.
They get priority treatment, “Cos they is homeless, innit. Little kiddies, look”.
It was never explained why this was done. And no politicians asked . . . because they didn’t want to know. ‘Priority cases’ are still being dumped in Wales, every day.
2/ A more recent problem with housing associations – and there are dozens of them, competing with each other – is that they are now privatised, but still in receipt of public funding.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, nearly all of them have subsidiaries, or private companies that are not subsidiaries but still members of the group. And then there are the partners.
This diversification has led to the mis-use of public funding, an almost complete lack of monitoring and accountability, and RSL group members building private housing for open market sale. Sold to retirees (officially ‘downsizers’), buy-to-rent landlords (officially ‘investors’), and even as holiday homes. While also selling shares in leasehold properties, with the agreements poorly explained and many duped into thinking they’re buying a freehold property.
This, remember, is the hated leasehold system that the ‘Welsh Government’ elsewhere opposes. Yet it is funding RSLs who then slip money under the table to subsidiaries, or partners, to con people into buying a share in a leasehold property.
What a system! What a ‘government’! What a country!
SUGGESTIONS: The bottom line is that what Wales needs is social landlords renting decent housing to Welsh tenants. Nothing more.
We don’t need subsidiaries of RSLs using diverted public funding to build and sell buy-to-rents in Pembrokeshire. Nor do we want convoluted arrangements using Chinese money to build more retirement bungalows and flats on the north coast.
Housing associations are past their sell-by date. A root-and-branch reform of the social housing system is needed. Wales must leave behind the mess created by ‘diversification’ and adopt a system closer to the original council housing model.
One big question will be what happens to the housing stock currently held by RSLs. Seeing as almost all of it was either built by local authorities, or built since stock transfer with money from the ‘Welsh Government’, a strong case could be made to bring it back into public ownership.
This twilight zone of private bodies living off the public purse while also taking out commercial loans with banks and behaving like private developers must end.
In the meantime, to avoid the dumping of undesirables, no one should be allocated a social tenancy by a RSL unless that person has been resident in Wales for at least 10 years.
We have a housing sector in Wales that has for years been steadily divorcing itself from the needs of our people. The situation has worsened under devolution.
There is clearly a strategy to settle in Wales as many people as possible who are loyal to the UK or England, in order to ‘secure’ Wales. We can expect this assault on Welsh identity to intensify with Scotland looking more and more likely to choose independence in the next few years.
There is one final weapon in the armoury that can be employed to stem the tide of colonisation. That is the Land Transaction Tax (LTT). It replaced Stamp Duty and it’s already in operation.
Below is a table I’ve compiled showing the current LTT rates with higher rates I’m suggesting as a way to curb the invasion. ‘Existing main residence’ is self-explanatory. Holiday homes are covered by ‘Existing higher residential’.
My suggestions are at the bottom, in yellow. What I’m proposing is higher rates all round for those not already living in Wales. Exceptions could be made for key workers, investors and others deemed necessary for the national good.
I am also suggesting that LTT kicks in lower down the price scale, and there’s a good reason for this. In the Valleys, post-industrial towns, even parts of Swansea, properties sell at prices buyers from prosperous areas of England find irresistible. Many are being bought for the wrong reasons.
Just think back to Ty Isha, Llanelli.
What’s more, most properties bought by retirees will be below the £250,000 threshold, so why should they be free of LTT?
I suppose one response to everything I’ve written will be, “It all depends on the political will”, and clearly that political will is absent. For the following reasons.
Civil servants of the ‘Wales would be better without the Welsh’ mindset ‘advising’ – some shagging! – ‘Welsh Government’ ministers.
A zealously Unionist Labour Party containing too many politicians who can dismiss concern for Welsh identity as ‘ugly and narrow-minded nationalism’. And then of course they have their third sector and housing association cronies to think about.
A Conservative Party (plus a rag-bag of BritNats) who will never object to English people moving to Wales, or the votes they bring. “All British . . . free to move anywhere . . . God Save the Queen.”
A so-called ‘national party’, Plaid Cymru, scared witless of being called anti-English by the anti-Welsh. And anyway, national survival is nowhere near as important as trans rights, BLM, refugees, getting Trump out of the White House . . .
You’ve read that 40% of the properties now sold in Gwynedd are to be used as holiday homes. I’ll bet that another 40% are bought by people moving from England into Gwynedd permanently. And it’s the same in other rural areas.
Thanks to the refusal of successive ‘governments’ in Corruption Bay to build a rural economy, the forced reliance on ‘shit anywhere’ tourism, the neglect of everywhere other than Cardiff . . . Wales, thanks to the ‘progressive’ parties’ refusal to confront the assimilation agenda, is approaching the point of no return.
To refuse to challenge the assimilation agenda is to accept it.
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’m taking a break from the con men, fraudsters and assorted crooks who figure regularly here. But I’m not moving far, because this week I’m focusing on tourism operators, politicians and others who themselves have but a nodding acquaintance with the truth.
THE STORM BREAKS
One of the benefits of coronavirus and lockdown was the absence of tourists, and the joyous consequences of that absence. Such as much less traffic on our rural roads, fewer call-outs for our emergency services, and in all manner of ways making rural and coastal areas of Wales more pleasant for those who live there all year round.
Making recent months seem even more of a lost golden age has been the irruption of noisy, stupid and irresponsible tourists since lockdown was eased by our self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, bowing to pressure from the Conservative and Unionist Party and tourism operators.
There has inevitably been a reaction from local people to the return of the tourists in what have been, literally, overwhelming numbers. What you see below was the scene two weeks ago near Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).
Much of the anger this has generated is directed at motorists, with many photos in print and online of inconsiderately parked cars. Which allowed some to argue that all would be well if we had bigger car parks to accommodate all the vehicles. Or even park and ride schemes.
Both of which ignore the real problem – many areas get more cars than the local road system can handle, and more people than the environment can cope with. I shall return to the environmental angle later.
Let’s also remember that the problems caused by tourism go way beyond traffic issues.
Here’s a two-page spread from last Wednesday’s Llais y Sais, in which we read Councillor Gareth Thomas, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Head of Economical Development, opine that, despite the recent problems, tourism, “provides high quality jobs for local people as well as supporting the county’s environment, language, culture and destinations”.
I don’t know Gareth Thomas, he might be a great bloke, but anyone saying that tourism provides high quality jobs, and that it also supports the area’s environment, language and culture is talking absolute nonsense.
Yesterday’s Daily Post carried what might have been an attempt to retrieve the situation. (With first minister Drakeford not ruling out a tourism tax . . . sort of.) But did council leader Dyfrig Siencyn really say, as he is quoted: ” . . . our rural economy is totally dependent on the tourism industry”?
A fuller version of this article may have appeared in Llais y Sais, Read it here.
Perhaps hoping to establish its own credentials vis-à-vis tourism opposition group Llais Gwynedd also weighed in. For those unfamiliar with Llais Gwynedd (which has 6 councillors), it sees itself as perhaps more radical than Plaid Cymru, more rooted in the local communities of Gwynedd.
What’s more, it would not serve as a deterrent. And we need some kind of deterrent to reduce the numbers coming to areas like our national parks and other ‘honey pots’. To cover the costs mentioned, and put a decent amount into the communities affected, the charge would need to be a minimum of £10 a head.
In a Daily Post poll, more than 70% of respondents agreed there should be a charge.
Opposing Councillor Daniels’ suggestion to charge hikers was Brân Devey, of Ramblers Cymru, with a remark I found rather puzzling: “Local people will not go up Snowdon really in the summer, it is too busy”.
Is he saying we shouldn’t charge the people overcrowding Yr Wyddfa in summer because they’re not locals?
‘Ramblers Cymru’ is worth a little detour.
You will remember that ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson, Minister for Hippies in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition 2007 – 2011, and midwife of One Planet Developments, was also Welsh vice-president of The Ramblers before stepping down in 2007, and then, as grough tells us, she rejoined as president when she departed Corruption Bay in 2011.
But of course she shunned The Ramblers, and the ramblers, while she was a minister.
For some reason this second stint with The Ramblers is not mentioned in Davidson’s Wikipedia entry. (By the time you read it the page might have been re-written, again.)
Though it’s difficult to make out if there really is a group called Ramblers Cymru or, as the grough article I just linked to puts it, Davidson became “president of the Ramblers in Wales”.
The website, https://www.ramblers.org.uk/wales, suggests another Englandandwales organisation, for when you click ‘Home’ on the Wales page you go back to the UK site.
Which is appropriate, for most of those working for Ramblers Cymru have moved here to do jobs that are clearly beyond the abilities of Welsh people. Mainly women of the type who have flooded into Wales since devolution to run the hundreds of third sector bodies that the ‘progressive’ parties feel we can’t do without.
One, Maria Hamlett, says: “My background includes working in numerous third sector organisations in key governance roles”. While Amanda Hill has: “15 years experience working for Worcestershire County Council”. Rebecca Brough: “I have a background in policy influencing work in the governmental, charity and statutory sectors”.
Important points there. For the staff at Ramblers Cymru don’t restrict themselves to scolding a wicked farmer for leaving Berwyn the bull on the footpath, they also seek to influence policy-makers. Just as Jane Davidson did, before, during, and after her stint as a minister.
The people I’m describing do not represent – nor do they seek to represent – our interests. If Welsh interests are served then it’s entirely accidental or tangential. ‘Ramblers Cymru’ and similar organisations seek to curate (love that word!) our homeland for the benefit of others like themselves.
We have far too many colonialist organisations like ‘Ramblers Cymru’.
Dontcha just love the term, ‘our land’. Another example of, ‘What’s yours is ours’.
The Ramblers merit this digression because they see Wales as an area for recreation. For them Wales is not a different country; where people witness their language and identity, the country itself, being destroyed by saturation tourism.
What should also make you angry is that these memsahibs, based on Cathedral Road (ideal for rambling), and others just like them, have more influence in Corruption Bay than we poor natives will ever have.
WHAT THE POLITICIANS SAY
That ‘our’ politicians go along with ‘Playground Wales’ is easily explained.
The Labour Party, which has managed Wales since 1999, is an urban party with little concern for rural areas. Labour has no coherent economic plan for the countryside so pretending there is a ‘strategy for tourism’ is a useful way of disguising this inadequacy.
The truth is that tourism is unregulated; it just ‘happens’, and things would carry on in much the same way if the ‘Welsh Government’ fell into a wormhole and reappeared in some distant galaxy. (Stop dreaming!) Making bodies like Visit Wales little more than bystanders, pretending they do something more than organise beanos where they hand out awards and grants.
One of the few things to be said in its favour is that tourism reveals the inconsistency, if not the hypocrisy, of the Labour Party.
Wales must be covered in wind turbines to save the planet, says Labour. For the same reason, OPDs must be allowed to impose their carbon footprint on previously unused land. Yet when our environment is trashed by tourist hordes on a regular basis Labour politicians are blind to the environmental damage!
Another example of Labour’s hypocrisy might be promoting renewable energy, saving the planet, and worrying about the underprivileged . . . while giving millions of pounds to Aston Martin to build £200,000 cars doing 12 miles to the gallon.
The ‘Welsh Government’s declaration of a climate emergency is just bullshit to explain away Wales being lumbered with the wind turbines English communities refuse to accept, and having to accommodate Jane Davidson’s friends.
The Conservative and Unionist Party (plus the fringe BritNats) will support tourism because they will never object to anything that both anglicises Wales and keeps money flowing back to England from staycations in Wales.
Blind, unthinking loyalty to tourism probably explains the comment, quoted in the North Wales Pioneer, from Darren Millar, the MS for Clwyd West, addressing Glyn Daniels’ pound a head suggestion. In Millar’s view, “This is a bad idea. Every pound charged will be a pound less for people to spend in the local economy”.
If Darren Millar had thought before speaking he’d have realised that every pound charged would be guaranteed to stay in the locality, unlike money taken in other ways.
What’s more, those who drive to Yr Wyddfa – to park here, there and everywhere – are often day-trippers, from Greater Manchester, Merseyside and towns nearby. Some will arrive having filled the fuel tank before leaving England, bring a packed lunch, and go home without spending a penny!
For the environmental damage alone, these buggers should be charged £20 a head.
While Plaid Cymru . . . well, what can I say? Plaid Cymru nowadays doesn’t give much thought to Wales. They’re too busy facing up to the fascist hordes they see advancing, outing terfs on social media, and planning more dirty tricks against Neil McEvoy.
Though maybe it’s best they stay schtum, because when they do address the subject – as we’ve seen with Gareth Thomas – they only confirm that they’ve lost the plot.
Whenever a political party, or a politician, says, ‘Wales needs tourism’ they are either lying or exposing their ignorance. The truth is only arrived at by reversing the phrase to read, ‘Tourism needs Wales’.
To conclude this section on a more optimistic note, Wales has two new political parties – Gwlad and the WNP – who I’m sure will take a more analytical, and patriotic, approach to tourism.
I expect both to demand a form of tourism that works for Wales, and the Welsh. Rather than what we suffer at present – an alien enterprise with Welsh people nothing but helpless bystanders as their country is trashed.
MAKING TOURISM WORK FOR US
Let me set out my stall . . .
I want to see an industry offering visitors from all over the world quality tourism.
An industry that provides business opportunities and well-paid, permanent jobs for Welsh people.
An industry that benefits Wales and her people without the cultural, social and environmental damage currently being inflicted by tourism.
Here are just a few suggestions for achieving these objectives:
1/ Tourism tax: A minimum charge of £2 per head per overnight stay, including those in self-catering accommodation. This to be collected by the owner of the property or site and paid to the local authority.
This money will used in the areas from which it is collected or on capital projects of more widespread benefit. Why not consult local people on how they’d like to see it spent?
Tourism tax is raised everywhere and it benefits local communities. I recall Silvio Berlusconi having to pay a local tourism tax in Sardinia when he docked his luxury yacht, the Bunga Bunga.
2/ Caravan sites: These is no place for these blots on the landscape in a country promoting quality tourism in a respected environment. They offer holidays on the cheap and the money they put into the local economy is overstated. Very few jobs are created and the major beneficiary is the site owner, often a foreign company.
Caravan sites should be phased out over a period of ten years with no replacement ‘vans, cabins or lodges permitted. Thousands of acres could be returned to agriculture or Nature by getting rid of them.
Farmers and others should be allowed small sites of perhaps no more than 50 units.
To maximise tourism income, business opportunities and jobs we should strive to have as many people as possible staying in serviced accommodation.
3/ Raising standards: In New Zealand – a country with which we often like to compare Wales – they have a School of Tourism, operating on eight campuses throughout the country, internationally respected and offering a wide range of courses.
In Wales, all we do is teach Siôn and Sioned elementary catering skills at the local sixth form college so they can work for Kevin from Stockport who owns the local hotel . . . since he bought it off Keith and Sharon from Coventry. Kevin, of course, will have had no training.
Or it might be Paul and Rowena Williams at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor. Or their business partner, Myles Cunliffe. (‘Weep for Wales’ passim.) Or perhaps Siôn and Sioned can get a job at one of the hotels owned by Gavin Lee Woodhouse.
Or perhaps not, seeing as all the businesses owned by these crooks are closed and/or in the hands of receivers.
Which is why other countries insist on a proven level of proficiency, and background checks, before anyone is allowed to run a hotel. But here, money is all that matters. As long as you’ve got the dosh you can buy a five star hotel, and run it badly, thereby damaging the reputation of the locality, and Wales.
4/ Permits: New Zealand provides another example worth following. (And NZ isn’t alone in this.) I’m referring now to limiting numbers visiting environmentally sensitive areas and issuing those visiting with permits.
If you live outside Wales and you want to go hiking in one of our national parks then you should pay £20 a year. For the three national parks you pay £50 a year. If the National Trust can charge us to visit sites in our own country, why can’t we do something similar and use the money for our benefit?
Again, the money raised would be used within the local area.
5/ Airports: You don’t need to go as far as New Zealand to realise the value of a good airport. Scotland is a much nearer example. Overseas tourists, high-spending overseas tourists, fly directly to Glasgow and Edinburgh. They do so all year round.
All we have is Cardiff airport, kept afloat by public money and still losing out to Bristol. We obviously need a new, more accessible airport in the south. We also need one in the north. Why not revamp Llanbedr airfield? It would be better to have overseas tourists flying in than to have the place used – as at present – for testing inaccurate drones that will wipe out wedding parties in Afghanistan.
Well-heeled foreign tourists flying in also offer opportunities for taxi and car hire firms.
6/ Public Transport: Overseas and other tourists not wanting to drive will need public transport. An integrated public transport system is therefore essential. This would have to include a north-south rail link.
The ‘Welsh Government’ has prevaricated for years over re-opening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line. That’s because doing so would offer no obvious benefits to Cardiff or to England.
Yet you’d think that an administration dedicated to saving the planet would prioritise public transport. But no, and this lack of commitment to public transport – apart from the Cardiff Metro (to benefit the Cardiff economy not the environment) – is yet another example of Labour’s hypocrisy.
7/ Funding: A major obstacle to Welsh people getting involved in tourism – other than as cooks and cleaners – is a lack of finance.
The ‘Welsh Government’ could divert a portion of the funding it squanders on third sector memsahibs into a pot accessible to young Welsh people who’ve been through school, got a few years practical experience under their belts, and now need funding to branch out on their own.
I appreciate that this is not how tourism is supposed to operate in a colonial context, but what the hell – let’s give it a try!
8/ Touring caravans and Camper-vans: I’m throwing this one in more as a traffic safety measure and a means of lowering blood pressure, but it’s definitely related to tourism.
No towed caravans or camper-vans should be allowed on any public highway between the hours of 6am and 10pm.
Tourism in Wales can be summed up as hundreds of thousands of people driving east to west along overcrowded roads, congregating in unsustainable numbers at certain points, staying in the cheapest possible accommodation (if they stay at all), and spending as little money as possible before driving home. Each wave succeeded by the next, and each wave contributing to erosion.
So, what do you think – should we continue to accept ‘Tourism at any cost’?
I say no. I say we reject the idea that Wales exists to provide cheap holidays for our neighbours. Wales should not provide anything to anyone on the cheap.
But the political will must be there to make the necessary changes.
If the political will is absent then we as a nation have every right to defend ourselves from this exploitation of our homeland, this assault on our very identity.
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
As promised, here’s another bumper issue, four pieces from hither and yon; so even the most discerning of readers should find something to entertain or inform. If you’re lucky, you’ll be entertained and informed!
ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS
As I suggested in the previous post, information is coming in about OPDs from many different places, so maybe a bullet point update is the best way to go about it.
For those new to the subject, OPDs were introduced by the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition management team (2007-2011) as a gesture to show that Wales was playing its part in the fight against global warming.
The truth was that the nonsense was engineered by Minister for Hippies, Jane Davidson, whose friends didn’t want to pay market prices for smallholdings. This explains the ‘Welsh Government’ bringing out Technical Advice Note 6, which made it clear to planners that any dreadlocked planet-saver who showed up on their patch should be allowed to build whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted.
Jane Davidson is an odd old trout. I’m not sure if she has any genuine academic qualifications, but she likes to call herself ‘Doctor’ on the strength of an honorary doctorate from Ponty Poly. Confusion is also caused by her relationship with Harvard University, in the USA, to which she once made a flying visit. Last week her Wikipedia entry was claiming that she was a faculty member, until someone queried it, after which it was changed to, “In 2017, Jane was guest faculty in the Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership programme at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.” Which explains everything . . . I suppose.
For those still unsure about exactly what One Planet Developments are, here’s some ‘Lessons in Best Practice’ from the experts at the Lammas eco-village.
“But how do they support themselves?”, you ask. For a start, they grow their own broccoli, which can be eaten for any meal. And they bring in the readies by conning the gullible to join them in an orgy of shamanic drumming. Who can say no at £250 a pop?
Another way money is being made – and we’ll see a lot more of this in the future – is selling off OPDs. A one-bedroom ‘Hobbit House’ is currently on the market with an asking price of £475,000. Though this WalesOnline article stresses that there are still questions as to whether the property has valid planning permission.
The pre-application request for advice regarding the OPD at Ilston, on Gower, is no longer available on the Swansea council website, as the applicants have been told to go away and do their homework again. To get the story, go to this post and scroll down to the section ‘Brighton Greens discover Gower’.
A source tells me that the Ecological Land Co-operative of Brighton already has a presence in Wales, at Llangolman in Pembrokeshire. Living apparently in a log cabin brought in from Bristol. Cabin in situ after ripping up ancient hedges. Nice access road, though, which must have cost a bomb.
Another OPD settlement I’ve written about recently is the one at Llyn Adain Gwydd, near to Llangarthginning farm at Meidrim. Though this is a bit complicated. On the one hand, Neil Moyse, once of Lammas, seems to be going through the planning system with his application W/39846. But there are things happening that deserve a separate mention.
In ‘One Planet Developments, getting devious‘, I mentioned the behaviour of woodlands.co.uk, which gets planning permission for ‘access roads’ for timber-related purposes that open up woodlands for leisure and other use. A source says of such a road at Meidrim: “This track now has small bays . . . each with names that are being sold off for holiday motor homes to park up in. We have notified the council who gave notice for the vehicles to be removed. As yet not all have gone. The owners attend now and then . . . “
One Planet Developments were a pointless bit of virtue signalling to begin with. But whatever one thinks of them there is no question that they were intended for families or small groups to live a self-sufficient, off-grid life.
Before OPDs the only way to get planning permission for a new dwelling in open country was to claim that it was for a forestry or agricultural worker. This system was widely abused. One route was ‘retirement bungalows’ . . . to which farmers never retired.
With planners clamping down on the ‘rural employment’ route OPDs are now just about the only way of getting planning permission for a new dwelling outside of settlement boundaries. Consequently, the OPD option was bound to attract the unscrupulous.
Labour and its partner Plaid Cymru will do nothing to curb either the spread of OPDs or the abuse of the system. Partly because OPDs are their ‘baby’, and partly because highlighting the abuse would only draw attention to an absurd piece of legislation.
Conversely, any other political party promising to clamp down on OPDs, and the underhand tactics OPDs encourage, would pick up a few votes in next year’s elections.
MORE CARAVANS FOR GOWER!
I’ve written quite a bit about Gower recently, and it’s made me nostalgic for school holidays spent in Port Eynon, and teenage years angling, everywhere from Mumbles islands right around the coast to Blue Pool and Broughton.
We return to Port Eynon because someone wants Gower to host another caravan site . . . yet another caravan site. For that’s what is mooted in a pre-application enquiry to Swansea council. You can read about it here.
You’ll see that the council’s initial response, delivered earlier this month, was negative; but there’s a good chance that the project will return, in some ‘repackaged’ form, so let’s try to see who and what are behind it.
These fields are owned by a local family named Jones. (No relation.)
I’ve described the project as a caravan park, but that doesn’t do it justice, for the council website tells us that what’s planned is “a holiday park consisting of holiday lodges, static caravans, touring pitches and tent pitches with ancillary facilities blocks. Along with this the proposal includes an events field and car park”.
If this is approved, then the road into Port Eynon will start to look like the descent into Hell that is the A486 as it drops down into New Quay.
OK, so the Jones family owns the land, but are they behind the planning application, or is it someone else, perhaps someone willing to buy the land if planning permission can be obtained?
Because while I’ve argued in favour of farmers being allowed to supplement their incomes with small caravan sites, this goes way beyond what I could support.
Perhaps the potential purchaser is the applicant, Sutton Hospitality Consultants of Boldon, Tyne and Wear. The website looks quite professional, and the company boasts an impressive-looking team of 16.
Another curiosity is that the company number given on the website, 11250475, turns up Hospitality Consultants Global Ltd. A company that was only launched in March 2018 – as Ephihany (sic) Hotels Ltd!
The only director until 20 February, 2020 was Andy Sutton, but then he was joined by the gloriously monikered Paul John Hotson Brinton Thatcher. (I kid you not!) Thatcher has a string of companies to his name, but Sutton’s background is less clear.
There is another company we need to look at, Sutton Hospitality Park Management Ltd. There have been some strange happenings there. The company was launched as recently as 12 November, 2019, with Sutton as the only director. He was joined 20 February by Thatcher . . . who resigned the same day.
Yet the registered office moved from Sunderland to West Sussex 17 December, 2019, which suggests that Thatcher was involved before his day as director. The fact that the registered address is still in West Sussex would argue that Thatcher is now in charge.
As we’ve seen, Thatcher has a string of companies, but what is Sutton’s history?
Well, let’s start with four rather iffy-looking companies. In the order they were Incorporated.
First, Passion Safe and Secure Ltd. Incorporated 25 February 2010, compulsorily struck off 8 March, 2016. This company has one of the most bizarre series of entries I’ve ever seen on the Companies House website.
For not filing a confirmation statement saying the company is still in existence Companies House will automatically strike off, but objections are accepted. And this is what happened no less than six times with Passion Safe and Secure.
In fairness Sutton resigned 21 May, 2012, but his mate, Michael Downey, kept objecting to the company being struck off even though it was filing nothing and – ostensibly – not trading. Why would someone want to keep a company like that alive?
Seeing as he left that sinking ship early we’ll excuse Sutton. But it’s a similar story with the Beehive Bakery Ltd. Started 30 November 2010, Sutton joined 7 February, 2011 and left 1 May, 2012. Then it’s a struggle with Companies House to keep alive a company that in 6 years of existence filed no accounts and, again, did not trade. Apparently.
The only director after 1 May, 2012 was Stacey Tanya Stewart, who became a director the same day as Sutton.
Moving on . . .
The next company we’ll look at is The Salon (Northeast) Ltd. Incorporated 21 March 2014, dissolved by compulsory strike-off 10 May, 2016. Sutton was the only director and, again, nothing filed, but one objection to strike-off was made to keep alive yet another company apparently doing nothing.
Finally, there’s Spoilt Rotten Hairdressing Ltd 10 July, 2017 – 11 December, 2018. Sutton the sole director and a straightforward strike-off with no objections.
There may be other companies with which Sutton has been linked, but he often calls himself ‘Andy’ Sutton, and that’s more difficult to follow due in part to a retired ice hockey player of the same name.
And then, all of a sudden, Andy Sutton is in the leisure and holiday parks business with the launch in March 2018 of Hospitality Consultants Global Ltd.
Yet according to this piece from The World of Park and Leisure Homes Show (which Sutton probably wrote and paid for), “Andy Sutton, founder of Sutton Hospitality Consultants lives and breathes hospitality and leisure – it has been his passion for 25 years.” But the article is vague, and gives no examples of this claimed experience.
Given the team he has at his disposal, the link with big shot Thatcher, and a London office, I was surprised to see Sutton use an agent from a little town in south west Wales – Gerald Blain Associates Ltd of Whitland.
Perhaps you remember this outfit from a recent post on this blog? Because Gerald Blain Associates also submitted the pre-application enquiry for the ‘eco-village’ at Dunvant. Remember? If not, read about it here, scroll down to the section ‘Farmlets’.
So many companies with sod all money working on big contracts. What’s going on – have we entered a parallel dimension of cashless business?
I say there’s more to this than meets the eye. If it is the Jones family’s project, how did they find the same agent as the one being used by the luxury OPD estate at Dunvant? And how did they find Sutton, with his chequered business record and little apparent experience in this field?
One thing I’m pretty sure of, Sutton is a front man. Who for? Well, a stab in the dark might get a scream out of Paul John Hotson Brinton Thatcher.
Something I’m absolutely sure of is that Port Eynon does not need any more bloody caravans, or ‘lodges’. The same applies to the rest of Gower, and the whole of Wales.
Holyhead is a town that doesn’t get a good press. Although it’s a busy ferry port that doesn’t seem to benefit the town. It just means people driving through to get the boat, and others getting off the boat and driving straight out of town.
This results in a declining community with a very run-down look and dilapidated buildings. But this decline attracts those who pretend they’re some kind of social workers when in reality all they want is to buy a cheap property, pack in as many problem cases as possible, and then charge as much as possible for housing them.
Thus completing the cycle of decline.
This is how it began in Rhyl, when ‘bucket and spade’ holidays ceased and the men who wore knotted handkerchiefs on their heads died off. Small hotels and B & Bs came available cheap, attracting unscrupulous bastards who saw an opening to make serious money. Which gives us the Rhyl we see today.
A new planning application for a building in the centre of Holyhead reminds us of this phenomenon. It’s for the old main post office on Boston Street. Which, as you can see in the capture from Google, is quite a substantial building. The Newry Nursery mentioned as objecting is right next door.
Also mentioned, as being the applicant, is Benjamin Popat, so who’s he? Let’s take a look at the planning application, see what we can learn. Here’s a direct link, but if it doesn’t work then it’s number FPL/2020/39 on the Ynys Môn planning portal.
However you got there, you’ll see that the applicant’s name is confirmed as Benjamin Popat, and the agent is a John Wyer. If you click on the application number in the ‘Documents’ row you’ll access the other documents submitted in support of the application.
Though who Shilling was, I have no idea. The two directors were Mangal Singh Shoker and Michael Williams. Who are also the directors of Shilling and Shoker Enterprises 11 Ltd, where Shoker is now known as ‘Manny’!
But what of the applicant, Benjamin Popat? I found a Linkedin page for a Ben Popat, who drives for Arvonia Coaches of Caernarfon. I assume this is him; right name, right area. But it’s quite a departure for someone who takes Cofi oldies on coach trips to be planning a major building conversion in Holyhead.
Let’s come at this from another angle by seeing who owns the building.
To start with, this company was only set up 7 February, 2019. And the sole director is Sunil Popat. But it’s been busy, already having taken out a loan, with CPF Two Ltd, which itself set up as recently as 30 August, 2018.
This loan to Village Views was to buy land and buildings in Sittingbourne.
At the risk of confusing you further . . . CPF Two, which lent the money to Sunil Popat’s Village Views to buy the land and property in Sittingbourne, has now been taken over by We Are Catalyst Ltd, which was set up ages ago, as far back as August 2017 in fact.
The only director of We Are Catalyst is Christopher Gareth Fairfax . . . who is also the only director of CPF One Ltd, which should not be confused with CPF Two, which lent money to Village Views. And the only director of CPF Two is – go on, have a guess!
Which means that CPF Two Ltd has been taken over by We Are Catalyst Ltd, which is owned by CPF One – with the same, single director running all three!
So many lenders, and all household names, shuffling money around, perhaps hoping nobody can follow the trail. This is the underbelly of the ‘financial sector’ that makes the UK so attractive to those with a ‘buccaneering’ approach to business.
Back to Holyhead.
If planning permission is granted then the old post office will not be tenanted by clean-limbed local lads leaving Mam and Dad for the first time to enjoy the freedom of a bachelor existence.
No, the old post office will become a bail hostel or similar establishment catering for those with ‘issues’. Few if any of those living there will be local to Caergybi or even to Ynys Môn. Holyhead has been chosen because the town is run-down and property is cheap. This hostel will then feed into the spiral of decline I explained earlier.
This is why the council must refuse this planning application. It would be better for the council itself to buy the old post office and rent it out cheaply to a local group.
But if Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn does consider allowing the application then the first step should be to establish who’s behind it. Is the ‘Benjamin Popat’, named on the planning application as the applicant, the same person as the ‘Sunil Popat’ of Village Views Ltd? If so, why two different names? If they’re different people, then what’s the connection?
Though my advice to the council would be to reject the application without any further ado because you know what the old post office will be used for. Your responsibility is to the town of Holyhead, not to some property speculator in Kent.
This woman, a lawyer named Hilary Brown, was wrong, of course, and it was pointed out to her that Penrhyn is Welsh for promontory or headland, and referred to Barry ‘Island’. Despite realising she’d landed herself in a hole Brown kept digging and responded with, “That’s unacceptable and I want it changed”.
So ancient Welsh (and Cornish) place names are unacceptable to Hilary Brown.
An absurd position, though as the Penrhyn family name was Pennant does Brown also want us to scour the map looking for cottages, farms, hamlets, etc bearing that hateful name – and then change them all to something more acceptable to her?
This insulting nonsense is little different to English colonists and holiday home owners changing the name of their property from Welsh to English.
I suppose the problem for Hilary Brown, Stand up to Racism, the Socialist Workers and Rapists Party, and Black Lives Matter, is that they desperately want to exploit George Floyd’s death but in Wales the opportunities are limited by the absence of the prime commodity – racism. So they end up looking rather silly glaring at a piece of metal.
Thankfully, Hilary Brown is just a rabble-rouser without a rabble.
But she is an enthusiastic digger, as was proven when she threw up a few more spadefuls with, “Wales’ shameful legacy in slavery”.
WTF! National guilt! The only names I’ve heard mentioned are Penrhyn and Thomas Picton. (And I guarantee that Brown and her allies hadn’t heard of either man until a few months ago.) And because of Penrhyn and Picton all Welsh people somehow had a hand in slavery.
Do you accept that?
Though it soon becomes clear that BLM is only interested in white on black slavery committed between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries in the Americas, more especially, the USA.
The fact that during the same period Barbary corsairs were carrying out slave raids on the coasts of Europe, and the Turkish empire enslaved Slavs and Central Europeans, doesn’t count. Black Africans being sold today in the slave markets of Libya is ignored. The fact that slavery has been practised throughout history is irrelevant.
And don’t mention Leicester!
So it’s not really about slavery at all. It’s about hostile feelings towards white people.
And slavery and racism are certainly unimportant for those cheering on Black Lives Matter. Not the infantile exhibitionists of Antifa but those who sense an opportunity to re-shape Western society; an ambition they believe can be be served by encouraging riots and looting in 2020 and blaming it on the Confederacy, or Columbus, or some poor bugger left a few shares in a sugar plantation by an uncle he never met.
Writing about retrospective accusations makes me think of the treatment meted out to Oliver Cromwell in 1661, after the Restoration of Charles II. His rotting corpse was disinterred and left hanging for three days before being beheaded. The head was then placed on a spike above Westminster Hall.
Though, in fairness, no one was unreasonable enough to suggest that Cromwell’s guilt should be passed down to his great-great-great-great-grandchildren.
What’s more, not even the most ardent royalist has tried to topple regicide Cromwell’s statue outside the House of Commons.
Which means I suppose that Cromwell’s ‘trial’ and subsequent treatment by his political opponents is not really a valid analogy for what we witness today, so let me introduce a more recent example.
I believe the death of George Floyd is being used by liberals, leftists and their foot-soldiers in a very similar way to the Nazis’ exploitation of the Reichstag fire in 1933, with police officer Derek Chauvin reprising the role of Marinus van der Lubbe.
Van der Lubbe was a Dutch Communist, acting alone, but it served the Nazis’ agenda to present him as the instrument of a vast Communist-Zionist conspiracy bent on enslaving the German race, and then use that ludicrous fabrication to take control of the media, suspend democracy and, ultimately, carry out the Holocaust.
Similarly, for those we’re discussing, Derek Chauvin can’t be viewed as an individual who did something wrong; he must be portrayed as the embodiment of a racist system built on the suffering of African-Americans.
Today’s enemies of democracy wear trainers not jackboots, but they’re using the same tactic of misrepresenting the action of an individual to blackmail or frighten us all into surrendering our freedoms.
Objecting to being vilified and intimidated, speaking up when your national identity is trivialised and dismissed, does not make anyone a ‘racist’. Hilary Brown and her allies should learn that the respect they demand of others, they must also give. They have harmed their cause with their arrogance and their intransigence.
A central and worrying feature of this débâcle is the refusal of Brown and her supporters to accept the truth. Here are a couple of comments posted on Sunday to the Bro Radio website in response to a local Plaid Cymru councillor coming to Brown’s rescue.
Neither Jemima Williams nor Elizabeth Millman seem able to accept that the naming of the road has nothing to do with any Baron Penrhyn or slavery. Millman even expects the council to apologise! For what?
If they still believe that the Vale of Glamorgan Council deliberately named a road after a slave-owner then it’s impossible to hold a rational debate with people like this.
Scroll down in the comments and you’ll come to Trevor Macey telling us that street names shouldn’t be in Welsh. I avoid using the term ‘gammon’ but it could have been coined for Trevor Macey.
He’s drawn to this debate because it provides him an opportunity to join in what he clearly sees as an attack on the Welsh language. Predictably, Trevor Macey doesn’t support BLM either.
Whoever allowed his comment obviously hadn’t dipped into Trevor Macey’s Facebook page, where they would have found an image of George Floyd. Make sure you click on this.
If nothing else, this Ffordd Penrhyn episode reminds us that the enemies of Wales come in all shapes and sizes, all creeds and colours, and from all points on the political spectrum. The same applies to those who want the best for Wales.
Some among us need to remove their blinkers in order to tell the difference.
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
Well, you must agree that the title makes a change from Miscellany. And unless I have a major item to focus on this might be the format from now on. Another big one, so take your time.
When I was much younger I spent a summer working in the Victoria Hotel in Llanbedr, between Bermo and Harlech. Living out back in what was imaginatively called a ‘chalet’.
The Vic was busy in summer, and one reason for that was its close proximity to a very large campsite, to which many of our English neighbours would repair to besport themselves. This was known to them as Shell Island, but to many of the locals it was Mochras.
In common with other such establishments, Shell Island has been closed for the past few months, but unlike similar establishments it does not plan to open at all this year. In fact, the statement put out by the Workman family, which owns the site, says that it “will not be opening until at least 2021″.
Which could be interpreted as meaning that Shell Island will never open again.
Making me wonder if there’s any connection between this possibility and the planned expansion of nearby Llanbedr airfield. For an announcement in May stated that military training was coming to the airfield, heralding more MoD involvement.
If this increased militarisation means drones, as seems likely, then it would make sense to control the land between the airfield and the sea. Then, if a drone goes haywire, it’ll kill a few rabbits, or fish, rather than wipe out three generations of the Smith family from West Bromwich.
Locals would be wise to be concerned, because further down the coast, at Aberporth, a number of military drone flights have gone awry. One last year landed not far from a school.
Maybe this is expecting too much of Plaid Cymru, but I would like to think that Cyngor Gwynedd is keeping up with developments, asking questions of the MoD and the airfield’s owners.
And if the council is doing that, then I expect it to keep the public informed, rather than bending to the ‘security’ restrictions that will be imposed to stop us knowing what’s happening in our country.
WEEP FOR WALES 18A
Regular readers will know that this series started over two years ago after I’d been told about Paul and Rowena Williams closing their hotels in Powys, laying off staff, and leaving tradesmen and suppliers unpaid.
Though according to them they’d sold the empire they built up through mortgage fraud to a convicted fraudster named Keith Harvey Partdridge. (Yes, that is how it’s spelled.)
Even before it all collapsed at Knighton and Presteigne the Williams pair had moved up to Gwynedd, and Plas Glynllifon. They had ambitious plans for the old pile that would cost over £20m. Not only that, but they also bought the Seiont Manor Hotel, and a little place outside Dolgellau called Fronoleu.
They were even eyeing up Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch. Or maybe they were just stringing people along, because they are a couple of bullshitters.
Towards the end of 2018 it became obvious the Williams’ finances didn’t match up to their stated ambitions. Along came Myles Andrew Cunliffe, said by Paul Williams to be a “finance guy”, which I suppose is one way of describing what Cunliffe does.
As you can read in the link I’ve just given, in December 2018 Cunliffe was promising that Plas Glynllifon would open as a hotel within months. It never did open. And eventually, Seiont Manor also closed, with more staff losing their jobs, and their unpaid wages. More tradesmen and suppliers chasing what they were owed.
Since I started writing about this crew a number of people have got in touch to tell me how they’ve been ripped off. People able to give me details only genuine victims (or the perpetrators) would know, but for a variety of reasons some have been reluctant to let me use this material. Which I can understand.
Recently, another victim has been in touch and, again, there are far too many details for this to have been fabricated. This new source suggests that Disley may now be operating in Portugal.
So, we see that Rock Holdings is/was based on the Isle of Man. Rogers was listed as the director of a number of companies giving an address on Douglas’ South Quay, behind which we find the old gas board office – Murdoch Chambers – used as an address by Rock Holdings.
And, finally, someone sent me a truly gruesome image, and yet so fitting. It’s Myles Cunliffe with Dawn Ward, who I’m told stars in a programme called The Real Housewives of Cheshire. (As opposed to ‘The Phoney Housewives of Cheshire’?) He’s introduced as “an old friend”, but no doubt Cunliffe paid for this celebrity endorsement.
Put the two images together and they could be labelled, ‘Cheshire Set meets Costa del Crime’. But don’t laugh too much. These are the people buying up northern Wales, from Abba Sock to Ross Niger, and those who can’t stretch to that will be found in new commuter villages along the A55 and around Wrecsam (aka ‘West Cheshire’). Here’s the latest of these developments.
Incidentally Cunliffe’s new venture being plugged here is Buy to Lease. All you need to know is in this review. Though the very fact that Myles Cunliffe is involved should tell you enough.
But if you feel compelled to throw money away then contact firstname.lastname@example.org giving your contact details, and I will personally arrange for one of my highly-trained magic bean salesmen to call on you.
But if the compulsion must be satisfied immediately, then scroll down to the bottom of this piece and send money through PayPal. You know you’ll feel better for it!
UPDATE 07.08.2020: Writing that previous update reminded me that I also had a letter from Jon Disley’s solicitor. Here it is with my response.
LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL
I’m sure you’ll remember another high-flying business tycoon who turned up in Wales to impress media and local politicos alike. I’m referring now to Tristan Scott Haynes. Last year he bought the old Shire Hall in Llangefni, on Ynys Môn.
According to the Daily Post‘s online offspring, NorthWalesLive, the old building was going to be,“a business centre and conference venue . . . a pod hotel, an art gallery . . . and attract companies of all sizes to the 45-room landmark.”
Wow! What could possibly go wrong?
Well, for a start, the reality of Haynes’ business empire didn’t quite live up to the billing: ” . . . the managing director of Chief Properties – who also runs a successful haulage firm”, we were told. Mmm.
Chief Properties Limited was set up in August 2018 to buy a building. Any building, anywhere. It could have been the clubhouse of Inverurie Curling Club, but when he went online Haynes just happened to see the Shire Hall.
The latest accounts (or rather a 2-page statement from Haynes) – up to 31 August 2019 – value the Shire Hall at £201,942 and . . . that’s it, that is Chief Properties’ total portfolio. When everything is taken into account the Chief Properties accounts show a net worth of –£12,460.
The money to make the purchase came from Together Commercial Finance, of Cheshire, a lender to which the former proprietors of Plas Glynllifon turned when real banks put up flashing neon signs saying ‘Sod off Paul and Rowena Williams’. My calculator blew a fuse when I tried to work out how much the Gruesome Twosome owe Together.
The “successful haulage firm” is Falcon Transportation Ltd, which is actually in the black. But Eddie Stobart needn’t lose any sleep.
But, anyway, why am I going over old ground? Because, my friends, Chief Properties has put the Shire Hall up for sale. Which is a pity, because I was looking forward to staying in the pod hotel, visiting the art gallery, and looking around the conference venue and the business centre.
I’m sure someone else will buy it. And even if it’s Old Nick himself, he’ll still get a great write-up in the local media. I can see it now: ‘Infernal Regions entrepreneur to open soul-bartering emporium in downtown Llangefni’.
I wonder if Beelzebub would get a ‘Welsh Government’ grant? Should be a doddle – he must have plenty of satisfied customers down Corruption Bay.
A nice little town, Abergwaun (otherwise known as Fishguard); and of course home to the legendary newshound, Hugh Pugh.
Despite Hugh’s best efforts, not a lot happens in Abergwaun, or that was the case until recently. For the town has seen two arson attacks on boats, and a mugging.
All this is annoying enough for locals, but now there’s another concern. Wales & West Housing is a major social landlord in the area, and on its website, locals read:
“Wales & West Housing will restart our lettings from 6th July where the property is vacant . . . We will start with . . . vacancies which are needed urgently by our Local Authority partners to assist with their need to focus on alleviating homelessness and facilitate move on for people living in temporary accommodation.”
Clearly, those now housed at Cartref and Silverdale are the responsibility of the council, and they are now in temporary accommodation. So they will be given priority for Wales & West tenancies in Abergwaun – ahead of locals who might have been waiting for years.
People with all manner of behavioural issues, none of whom are from Pembrokeshire, few of whom are from Wales, will get priority over locals. And Wales & West will be paid more to house these drug addicts and petty criminals than they could claim in rent from law-abiding, hard-working Welsh people.
The recent crime wave could become a permanent feature of life in Abergwaun.
The social housing system is no longer fit for purpose.
Anyone who follows Welsh news and current affairs will know the name Mark James. But for those less au fait with these subjects . . . Mark James was the Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire county council from 2002 until last summer.
James had been hired by, and was – theoretically, at least – answerable to the elected representatives of the people. But by cajoling, and when that failed, by threats and intimidation, he somehow came to control each successive administration, of all political colours, Labour, Independent and Plaid Cymru.
To cement his authority, he personally recruited subordinates who were answerable to him, and to him alone.
All of which meant that for a decade and a half Carmarthenshire was run as Mark James’s private fiefdom. He behaved like a despot, wielding untrammelled power, and just like a despot he was prone to outbursts of petty vindictiveness. One example was the persecution of a blogger who had annoyed him, threatening her and her family with homelessness.
This cause célèbre was funded with council money even though it was a private action. And hardly anyone – certainly not the councillors! – dared to question him. Though it did not go unnoticed elsewhere; Private Eye awarded James its Shit of the Year award for 2016.
Because all in all, Mark James is a very nasty piece of work. Not just in his behaviour towards others but also in his attitude to things Welsh, where he is – and this is being generous – unenthusiastic. Some would go further.
Unless of course it’s a superficial form of ‘Welshness’, like rugby. Which explains his generosity – again, with council money – to the local Scarlets rugby set up; and also towards David Pickering, failed businessman, but former captain of the national rugby team and also former chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union.
The £200m+ Wellness and Life Science Village was to be James’s lasting monument, a pet project he had driven through against the better judgement of many. Yet another indication of his despotic behaviour, this time tinged with Ozymandias Syndrome.
But running Carmarthenshire council and building pyramids was never enough to keep Mark James occupied (and anyway, that could be left to underlings) so it was no surprise when I learnt that he was involved in the Corruption Bay property market. I wrote about this in mid-2017 with Baywatch, and Baywatch 2.
In a nutshell, James and a few associates had taken over the management of blocks of flats and were seeking to maximise profits by running as many as possible as holiday apartments, attracting Airbnb stag parties, groups of rugby fans, and others guaranteed to make life hell for the blocks’ permanent residents.
Someone sent me a wee clip from a Century Wharf Facebook page showing an invoice from a company called European Telecom Solutions (ETS). This company is run by Robert Nigel Lovering, who is a partner with David Pickering in the former MoD site at Llangennech, Llanelli.
An odd business, that place in Llangennech. The MoD was going to put the site up for auction then, at the last minute, it was sold to the council, who immediately sold it to an unregistered company called R & A Properties, which was run by Pickering and Lovering, two men enjoying a close association with the council’s CEO.
It’s a complicated business but Cneifiwr explains it in Warthogs and a Man with a Van. I’ve also tried to keep up. Type ‘Llangennech’ or ‘Dawnus’ in the search box at the top of the sidebar.
But back to Century Wharf. Here’s the invoice from ETS.
Nothing really untoward, maybe the toner is a bit expensive. But what I found really odd is that the company ETS doesn’t seem to be trading. Certainly not according to the latest accounts, for the year ending November 2019. (The invoice is from June last year.) And the company’s website doesn’t seem to have been updated for two years.
Yet Mark James can call this ghost company out from Llanelli for a minor job in Cardiff? More than that, the FB page suggests that ETS also provides telephone services to Century Wharf. How can a non-trading company be doing this?
Is work being done, and business transacted, that is not appearing in the accounts submitted to Companies House? Yet with a VAT number quoted on the invoice one must assume that VAT is being paid.
Though when I checked the VAT number given on the invoice I saw that it differs from the number given for ETS on the VAT Search website. And yet the company number on the invoice, 11064246, is the same as that given by Companies House.
I’m sure there’s a simple explanation.
Another source in Century Wharf writes: “Once elected as a RTM director he (James) held 2 AGMs then decided that there would be no more . . . and is a de facto dictator with . . . . . . . . acting as his paid for spy.”
“De facto dictator”. In a rapidly changing world it’s almost reassuring to know that some things remain constant. For Mark James was never interested in the views of others. Even those he was supposedly serving.
No, make that – especially the views of those he was supposedly serving.
ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS
Yes, I know, I promised more on OPDs, but so much information is coming in that it’s difficult to make sense of it all. I’ll try to put it all together and get out a OPD special in the near future.
To whet your appetite, I’m told that the Ecological Land Co-operative of Brighton, which wants to set up on Gower, already has a presence in Pembrokeshire. Mention is made of an ancient hedge being ripped up, and a log cabin brought in from Bristol.
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
This is a subject I’ve tackled before; I’m returning to it because the problem seems to be spreading, yea! even unto the city of my dreams.
This is another ‘biggie’ but, as usual, broken down into easily-digestible chunks. Enjoy!
For those new to the subject, One Planet Developments were introduced and encouraged by the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition management team (2007 – 2011), at the instigation of – among others – Jane Davidson, who served in that team as the Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing.
The issue being addressed was, we were told, how Wales could play its part in saving the planet. Yet this excuse was – as we political commentators are wont to put it – bollocks. The lie is exposed by the claim that OPDs will reduce Wales’ carbon footprint – by attracting more people into the country.
For Wales is the only country on Earth to allow OPDs. No one else has been so stupid.
The true motivation was that Davidson’s ‘alternative’ friends wanted smallholdings in Wales but didn’t want to pay commercial property prices. Enacting legislation –TAN 6 strengthened with the Well-being of Future Generations Act – allowed hippies to settle just about anywhere by claiming OPD status, then demanding – and getting! – planning permission for structures that no one else would be allowed to build.
This meant they could set up a smallholding on a shoestring.
Perhaps in the hope of disguising the relationship between the Labour Party and higher education, and to give her some academic credibility, Davidson is billed as ‘Dr Jane Davidson’, but her doctorate is purely honorary, and from another Labour-linked institution in Pontypridd.
Predictably, ‘Dr’ Davidson lives on a smallholding of her own.
The majority of OPDs are to be found in Pembrokeshire and west Carmarthenshire, but as I’ve suggested, they’re creeping east.
Earlier this month a planning application was submitted to Carmarthenshire County Council for a OPD at Llansteffan. To be exact, in ‘Pentowyn farm yard’. Here’s the full planning application.
Pentowyn farm is located across the Tâf estuary from Dylan Thomas’s boathouse at Laugharne. Nice.
Note that the work on this OPD started on 1 May last year, so it’s taken over a year for what is now the retrospective planning application to be submitted. Which is how OPDs operate, knowing that no matter what the local planning authority might say, the ‘Welsh Government’ or the Planning Inspectorate will always grant planning consent.
To help you follow the tale, here’s the plan submitted with the planning application. It shows a long, thin section of land to the east and north east of the farm buildings, with a more compact area to the south and south west, on the other side of the road. The planned buildings are located on this second area.
A number of things struck me about this application. First, the agent is Tao Wimbush; and if that name rings a bell, then it’s because he is a hetman in the Lammas commune not far away, up towards Crymych.
I’d always assumed that these enviro-colons were vegans, or at least, vegetarians – so why is there a ‘butchers unit’ and a ‘mobile refrigeration unit’ at this OPD? But then, Wimbush is only the agent, the adviser.
The applicants are Mark and Ann Oriel, and even though their company name as given on the planning application is ‘Lammas Earth Centre’, and their address that for the Lammas commune, I suspect the Oriels live in Bancyfelin, and Mark runs a slap, rub and squeeze outlet in nearby Sanclêr. (No, not that kind of establishment.)
Which might suggest he too lacks the necessary background in the butchering of livestock and the preparing of meat for sale. So why the ‘butchers unit’? (I wish to God people would use apostrophes.)
Certainly, the Oriels own the land to the east of the farmhouse, the land edged in red on the Land Registry title document plan (scroll down). But the land to the south of the farmhouse, where the shack and the butcher’s building will be located, is not on that title document. So who owns that land?
When I tried to get the document from the Land Registry I drew a blank. The land is either not registered or not yet re-registered.
If you go back to the planning application (20) you’ll read, ‘A butchers unit for processing meat grown on the farm’. I’m not sure that the Oriels have enough land to graze many animals so this must refer to other land.
When asked if neighbours or the local community have been consulted about the proposed development (23) the applicant answers, ‘I have discussed the proposal with my direct neighbours’. So who are the ‘direct neighbours’?
The farm buildings and the land down as far as the road are owned by a woman living in Sketty, Swansea. Shown here edged in red on the Land Registry title plan. I suspect they (or some of them) have been converted into holiday cottages.
The land across the road to the south east, adjoining the land for which planning permission is sought, is owned a local farming family. Are they the ‘direct neighbours’?
The more I think about this, the weirder it seems. We have a hippy asking for planning permission for a sports therapist to have a OPD complete with what reads like a mini abattoir. And we don’t know who owns the land on which the new buildings are to go.
Is someone using the near-certainly of planning permission being granted for an OPD to get consent for something that might otherwise be difficult to get past the planners and other authorities?
If so, then this is a dangerous development, and might signal that OPDs are now being used in a way that I’m sure was not intended by the buffoons who agreed to this idiocy back in the days of the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition.
As we know, planning is never a problem for OPDs, so we can take that for granted.
Of course, if someone wanted to repair and renovate the old house then they wouldn’t need planning permission for an OPD. But that house needs a lot of work, and it would cost a lot of money.
So I assume that the house and the outbuildings are not the big selling point.
Certainly, Cwm-Garenig is a bit off the beaten track, and there’s no mains electricity, so that might attract potential OPD dwellers. But it’s still only 19 acres, and the area round about has been mined for centuries.
I’d hate to switch on the Evening News to hear that, ‘Police and rescue teams are still searching for survivors after a yurt-full of tofu tasters disappeared today down the old Number 9 shaft . . . ‘.
Wouldn’t that just be too, too awful!
It seems to me that Rees Richards is selling 19 acres of land, some of it possibly unstable. Not only that, but we have a Swansea-based estate agency cottoning on to the possibility of bumping up the price of low value land by adding the magic letters ‘OPD’.
Clearly, this is no longer a rural thing, as you’ll learn from reading on.
If estate agents and others have latched on to the fact that OPDs are a sure-fire way of getting planning permission for dwellings in open country (and maybe not just open country), then who knows where it might lead?
The Brighton gang goes by the name of the Ecological Land Cooperative (ELC) and want two smallholdings on an 18 acre site it bought in December 2017. These smallholdings will be of 5.5 acres each because the rest of the land is already being used by the ELC’s local partner, Cae Tân CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Though there are very few locals involved with Cae Tân and so it’s questionable how well it’s supported by the wider community.
The leading light in Cae Tân would appear to be Anthony ‘Ant’ Flanagan, who has set up a string of companies, none of which seem able to survive without public largesse, and at least one of which has entered into a disastrous partnership.
It may be worth listing these companies, seeing where their money comes from, and checking on their fates. (CIC means Community Interest Company.)
CORDELIA COMMUNITY ENERGY CIC. Formed 15 June 2015; 5 loans taken out 2017, three with Finance Wales, all still outstanding; 4 new directors appointed February 2017; either merges with or is taken over September 2017 by YnNi Teg Cyf. Flanagan no longer a director.
COIGACH COMMUNITY CIC (originally Willowcroft W. Community Energy CIC). Formed June 2015; address moved from Parkmill to Manchester July 2016, when Flanagan ceased to be a director; net assets £10. (‘Coigach’ is a Scottish Gaelic name.)
These council-owned energy companies end up costing council taxpayers a hell of a lot of money. We know that Swansea council has been very generous to Ant Flanagan, so how indebted are my fellow-Jacks as a result of this generosity?
Ant Flanagan and his playmates are responsible for the arrival in Wales of the Ecological Land Cooperative of Brighton, who want the smallholdings at Ilston.
A point I made about the planning application in the earlier piece was that letters of support for Furzehill were coming in from all over England but there were few letters from locals. Well that’s changed. And the locals haven’t held back in their criticisms.
If we click on the ‘Comments’ tab, then from local residents we read:
‘This is nothing more than a vanity project from a group of opportunists who are hell bent on claiming community grant subsidies and then feeding that funding through its various other side projects . . . ‘.
‘ . . . In the meantime small farmers trying to scratch a living from the earth are being displaced by larger cooperatives, being unable to compete with grant led, subsidised or community funded groups.’
A third says, referring to OPD legislation:
‘The Ecological Land Coop, an organisation based in South England, would not be likely to be investing money in land in Wales if this planning law applied equally to England.’
This writer continues:
‘As a former organic market gardener, serving people in and around Swansea by growing and selling through a veg box scheme between 1994 and 2018, I no longer even try to compete with these market rigging opportunists.’
While a another objector has this to say:
‘I object about this proposal on two grounds That this a means of laundering and misappropriating WG and any LA grant funds, rather than a being of benefit for local produce growers/vendors, many of which are being put out of business because of the practices unscrupulous organisation.
There were other objections along similar lines. Arguing that these people are exploiting OPD legislation, they’re only here because of easy access to public funding, which then helps them under-cut genuinely local growers and companies. Some objectors make specific claims of dishonesty.
How the hell did we get to a situation where we are funding interlopers to put local people out of business?
Because . . .
Wales is a land of make-believe, especially when socialists are in charge, and image is more important than reality. Being seen to do the right thing has become more important than actually doing the right thing . . . and far, far easier.
Which is how we end up with One Planet Developments, and the mantra that Wales can show everyone how to save the planet. Idiocies that are welcomed in the Guardian, cheered by superannuated hippies in California, and will have Eco-capitalists from Sweden to Australia rubbing their hands with glee as they think about how many bird-slicing, flood-causing wind turbines they can erect on our hills . . .
There are no material benefits for us Welsh from OPDs, and wind turbines, and saving the planet, yet we are lectured that it’s done for some greater good, and for generations to come. Intangible and unquantifiable benefits that may never materialise. But then, virtue signalling is so much easier than coming up with a serious economic strategy for Wales that might create business opportunities, careers and jobs.
When you think about it, the message being put out today by the ‘progressive’ parties in the Senedd is not a lot different to that preached in earlier times by clerics in the pay of landowners and industrialists. It runs, ‘There’s nothing for you in this life, but if you’re virtuous and obedient then your reward is in heaven’.
Those clergymen were serving someone else’s interests, not the interests of those to whom they preached. And it’s the same with the ‘Welsh Government’ today.
Anthony Flanagan appears to be still in charge, but with other directors on board, prominent among them, Roy Kenneth Church. The Church family has for many years run the Gower Heritage Centre at Parkmill, which seems to be the base for most of the Flanagan Companies.
Roy Kenneth Church is also a director of Swansea Bay Community Energy Ltd, which has now been deregistered and for which documents are no longer available on the FCA website. Yet another ‘Energy’ company, and given the name, this one suggests ambition on the scale of the municipal failures we looked at earlier.
Though on the FCA document Church is also listed as a director of Swansea Bay Community Energy Two Ltd, for which I can find nothing. Did a ‘phoenix’ company rise from the ashes of Swansea Bay Community Energy Ltd?
Church is also one of the two directors of Tourism Swansea Bay Ltd which, despite the grand title, is a shoestring outfit based, again, in Parkmill. But at a different address to the Gower Heritage Centre.
Then there’s Gower Power Solar Ltd, where we find Church, Flanagan and John Christopher Whiten. The only documents filed, in October 2017, tell of a dormant company. Possibly linked with Gower Power Co-op CIC, where we find Flanagan and Whiten among the directors.
The name ‘Killan’ refers to a couple of farms which give their name to a road in Dunvant, on the western outskirts of Swansea. We need to focus on the land to the right of the land outlined in red on this plan of Killan-fach farm, Land Registry title number WA289902.
The land we’re looking at is covered by title number WA289901.
Dunvant SBG was formed in 2001 and the five outstanding charges go back almost as far. Roy Kenneth Church was a director from 24 December 2001 until 1 October 2009, and then rejoined in September 2019, probably following the death of his father.
The plan being hatched, it seems, is to build an ‘Eco village’ of 12 ‘farmlets’. Yes, ‘farmlets’. What a twee word, I wonder what idiot thought that up? I ask because even though the land seems to be owned by Roy Kenneth Church the pre-application submission came from Gerald Blain associates of Whitland.
Equally perplexing is why Church couldn’t find an architect in Swansea, which might have spared him a trip to Whitland. But wait! Whitland . . . now who do we know in that area? Why, Tao Wimbush’s postal address is Whitland. And having a background in architecture himself I’m sure he knows Gerald Blain and his mate Mark Sanders.
Gerald Blain Associates seems to be another shoestring outfit. The latest accounts at Companies House show total assets of £49. Confirmed by Company Check. Why would Church rush down west to hire this lot?
I say Church, but the applicant for these ‘farmlets’ is named as a Captain Steve Croaker. But I cannot find a Captain Steve Croaker. Who is he? Does he even exist?
UPDATE 01.07.2020: ‘Captain Croaker’ has been identified. He is Steven William Crocker of Cefn Gwlad Solutions Ltd, though I’m assured he has other strings to his bow. A Swansea man with strong links to Roy Kenneth Church and Parkmill.
What we have is an area on the edge of Swansea where development is not permitted because it would result in Dunvant, a part of the city, merging with the village of Three Crosses, viewed as Gower. But OPD promises a way around this problem.
Because anyone who could get planning permission for substantial properties sitting in an acre or more of land, with Gower on the doorstep, could rake it in.
Gerald Blain mentions OPD more than once in his submission. He makes a big play on how difficult it is for young people to get into farming. Which may be true, but this is not farming. You won’t see any of the old Gower families on these ‘farmlets’.
For they are intended for the friends of Tao Wimbush, and the land-grabbers from Brighton. Using OPD almost as blackmail – “If you don’t give us planning permission we’ll scream ‘OPD’ and our friends in Corruption Bay will give us what we want”.
The council clearly sees what’s behind this plan – expensive dwellings in the green belt with planning permission obtained by subterfuge. This extract from the council’s response to Gerald Blain makes that clear.
It seems very unlikely that the council will look favourably on this project when it’s discussed at 2pm today (Monday). It may be possible to follow proceedings by installing this Microsoft app.
But what happens if the mysterious Cap’n Croaker appeals to the so-called ‘Welsh Government’? Will those clowns allow it?
The problems with OPD go beyond what I’ve listed here.
For example, a lady in Powys writes to me regularly with tales of a family that thinks OPD status gives them carte blanche to erect other buildings, to dump vehicles, etc. The parents and adult children who live on this OPD cause havoc on a narrow access track.
It seems they’re now looking for someone to sell what little they produce in the way of vegetables because they’re too busy themselves at the jobs that take them away every day from the ‘OPD’!
One Planet Developments should be self-sufficient agricultural smallholdings, not a little place in the country from which you commute to your job.
The supine behaviour of Powys County Council towards this OPD encourages others to behave in a similar fashion.
As might be expected, Powys County Council’s refusal to act, and local AS’s and MP’s unwillingness to get involved, not only encourages mess like you see in the picture, it drives out decent residents and it deters investors.
I shall return to problems in Powys in more detail at a later date.
Information comes in from various sources about OPD problems in other areas.
For example, a reliable source who has provided information before writes:
‘What I can tell you briefly is that the most, if not all, of the plots at Tir y Gafel are no longer Lammas as such but are freehold properties that can be brought and sold without restrictions.
This is a game changer.’
This source also advises that the hub, central to the Lammas community, and built with funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change in London, has been abandoned because it is structurally unsound.
Furthermore, it is now surrounded by freeholders unwilling to take responsibility for what was intended to be a shared, community building. Presumably it will now be allowed to fall down.
What’s being promoted here is a new village, a new English village in Wales. And note how this new village will be tagged onto ‘an existing settlement’, just like the ‘farmlets’ in Dunvant. OPDs were not supposed to be new suburbs.
Andrew Slade? Does that name ring a bell? It should. Slade is one of the English civil servants who run the ‘Welsh Government’. He it was who took EU money off our farmers (Pillar 1) and transferred it to ‘Rural Development Projects’ (Pillar 2).
Together they’re all working to get Welsh farming families off their land – so they can be replaced by OPDs, and ‘rewilders’, and Mongolian yak herders . . . any bugger will do, just as long as they’re not Welsh.
This is naked racism. This is ethnic cleansing. Yet this is what One Planet Developments have become.
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
After the Jake Berry saga it’s time to move on, though we stay on Ynys Môn for the first couple of pieces, before pushing on, even visiting the city of my dreams.
This is another ‘biggie’ but as usual with this format it’s broken down into digestible portions. So there’s no need to rush, you can take your time. Enjoy!
As we used to hear in the old black and white movies, ‘Dead men tell no tales’. Maybe not, but on Ynys Môn dead men do put in planning applications.
In the previous post, Jake Berry MP, Part 4, I mentioned a property that had swum into view in the course of my investigations into Berry’s little empire. This property may have nothing to do with him, but it became interesting in its own right when I realised that a planning application was submitted in August 2019 – by a man who died early in 2017.
Let me explain, for those who may be unfamiliar with the planning system, that you don’t need to own a property to submit a planning application. A builder, an architect, a relative, even a prospective buyer, can submit a planning application, but this must be done with the consent of the owner. Which presupposes that the owner has not departed for the celestial realm.
Now in this case on Ynys Môn the owner was long dead, and those submitting the planning application knew he was dead. We know they knew because they’d put his name on the planning application with ‘(Deceased)’ alongside it!
Which is difficult to explain; the Will was a straightforward transfer, so why didn’t the person who’d inherited the property put her name on the planning application?
Another curious feature – though it obviously links – is that the Land Registry title document still shows the late Mr Cuddy as the owner. Which might explain why, after putting out a tweet asking why the council had accepted this application from a dead man, I got a Twitter response from the Land Registry.
The LR reminded those in the thread that there is no legal obligation for anyone to update a title document. Which is unfortunately correct. But I believe we are all entitled to know the ownership of property. And money being laundered through property transactions is another reason for making immediate re-registration mandatory.
Does the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ have the power to legislate in this area? And if so, does it have the balls to do what needs to be done?
On the planning matter, I cannot believe that a dead man can be named as the applicant on a planning application. Which calls into question why Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn accepted that planning application.
Again, if this is legal, it should not be. And if the ‘Welsh Government’ can legislate to outlaw the absurdity of dead men making planning applications, then it should do so. Pronto.
Land Registry documents not updated after three years and planning applications in the name of a dead man suggest something is not quite right.
YNYS MÔN 2
I don’t want to paint Ynys Môn as Wales’ Sicily, but strange things do seem to happen there. One I dealt with fairly recently was the sale of the Shire Hall in Llangefni to Tristan Scott Haynes.
To put it mildly, Haynes has a ‘colourful’ past, but the county council saw no problem in selling him their old Shire Hall. And the sale was completed 22 August 2019 with money Haynes had borrowed from Together Commercial Finance Ltd.
The caption tells that Haynes is managing director of Chief Properties Ltd and he also runs a “successful haulage firm”.
Chief Properties was set up in August 2018 for the purpose of buying a property like the Shire Hall. The accounts tell us that the company has fixed assets of £201,942 (the Shire Hall) but is in debt to the tune of £12,460.
As for the “successful haulage firm”, well the next meeting of shareholders will be delighted to learn that Falcon Transportation Ltd‘s total net assets come to £21,282. Roughly what they were the year previously. A truck?
Go back to the caption under the photograph and you’ll read, “(Haynes) had never been to Anglesey before identifying Shire Hall as a possible location”. Which suggests that he found it online. And that any building, anywhere, might have done.
But for what purpose?
As far as I’m aware no work has been done on the Shire Hall, certainly no planning permission has been applied for, so why did Haynes borrow money to buy a building that he seems to have lost interest in?
And if the county council has washed its hands of the Shire Hall don’t the burghers of Llangefni worry about the fate of one of their town’s prime assets?
RHODRI MORGAN AND THE WDA
It’s generally agreed that despite certain failings the Welsh Development Agency was doing a good job in attracting inward investment, and to this day many people still don’t understand why it was done away with.
A comment to the previous post seemed to provide an answer:
“If any target should be in your sites (sic) in terms of Wales’s failing economy, it should be the former First Minister ‘Saint’ Rhodri Morgan. It was he, in a temper tantrum, midway through a phone call with the CEO of the Welsh Development Agency, threw his toys out of the pram when his instruction that the WDA should spend a chunk of it’s budget in a constituency of Cardiff where a certain Mrs Morgan was sitting MP. The CEO politely advised that this request could prove difficult because Cardiff was not in an EU Assisted Area . . . A person present . . . related that the First Minister threw his phone across the room. When he had calmed down (10 minutes later) he rang the CEO back and said that he was scrapping the WDA and bringing it’s functions under Assembly control. The CEO replied ‘Congratulations First Minster, you have just ruined the economy of Wales’ . . . In the 1980’s, 1990’s and into the 2000’s Wales, largely but not exclusively, due to WDA activities, secured 22% of all inward investment into the UK, an incredible achievement . . . Sadly, the Assembly, with it’s suspicion and dislike of any ‘specialisms’ and groaning under the dead hand of so many ‘Sir Humphreys’ presided over the rapid decline of inward investment so that today, it stands at 2% of the UK figure. When the WDA was scrapped, Development Agencies in other countries were delighted . . . I was present at the party held by the Scottish Development Agency to celebrate the demise of it’s principal competitor for inward investment. English Estates, the Development Agency for England, was equally delighted for the same reason. That’s the real story of Wales’s decline as an economic force . . . It will be a huge challenge to reverse this decline, but with the right approach, and a massive change of attitude in Cardiff Bay it conceivably could be achieved.”
This contribution was reinforced in an e-mail from another source which, after a few tweaks, I’m allowed to publish as you see below. This source was also close to the action at the time in question.
“I don’t know (the writer of the comment), but the account with regard to Graham Hawker (CEO) telling Rhodri Morgan he’s screwed the Welsh economy is correct.
While there is much talked about the WDA and it’s dealings in its early to mid years, in its later life it was an organisation of people (predominantly Welsh people) who actually gave a fuck about trying to lift the prosperity of the country. To this day, I am convinced that the termination of the WDA was done out of both jealousy by Welsh Gov and also a disregard by WDA to service the needs and wants of Ministers as they became more and more demanding for information from the organisation. It was not designed to service Welsh Government. It was designed to deliver economic development to external customers and it did it well.
To be fair to Hawker, he had instigated a re-organisation programme that would have addressed some of the issues, but Morgan had made his decision for the bonfire of the quangos. Hawker had resigned in front of Senedd committee. He made Morgan look stupid, who then asked him publicly to reconsider his resignation. He didn’t and he left.
Following Hawker, Gareth Hall was installed as Welsh Gov’s puppet CEO. Rhodri Morgan stated publicly that WDA staff would not see any change in the transition to Welsh Gov. That was total bollocks. There was a culture of cleansing any entrepreneurial spirit and drive in the organisation and a clear move from answering to the WDA board to Ministers. Hall was very close to Marc Clement of Swansea Uni fame. The WDA was being steered by Andrew Davies as Econ Dev Minister at the time, again with close links to Swansea. Make of that what you will.
It is clear that the politicisation of economic development has killed off any hope of raising Wales’s GDP above 75% of the UK average. We are still below it and I blame total and utter mismanagement of EU funds coupled with what you write about regularly – pushing funding to the third sector ‘economy’, crap pet projects (Cardiff Airport) and shysters.
Welsh Gov is a broken organisation. It cannot deliver economic development, full stop.
The wind up of the WDA is a case study of how to destroy exemplar economic development practice and then replacing it with fantasy policies of inclusion, sustainable development, socialist ideologies and then paying those organisations who advocate such tripe to turn up in the Senedd committees to back you up.”
Most students of Welsh politics know that Rhodri Morgan was the kind of man Doctor Johnson would have described as ‘clubbable’; a man who could be relied on for the witty quip or the diverting anecdote, but hard work was not really his bag.
The manner of the WDA’s demise tells us a lot about Rhodri Morgan and the Labour Party. Both quite happy to destroy what they cannot control however damaging such a course of action might be for Wales.
The incident also exposes the damning contradiction of ‘Welsh’ Labour – forever banging on about employment, blaming ‘London’ or the Tories for Wales not having enough decent jobs, but the beast itself is ideologically and temperamentally opposed to the business and commerce that would provide good jobs because it cannot control them.
‘Keep Wales poor, keep Wales dependent, keep Wales voting Labour’?
The first source reminds us that with the WDA gone Wales’ share of the UK’s inward investment fell from 22% to 2%. While the second source tells that the loss of the WDA saw the rise of the third sector, which is under the control of the Labour Party because the ‘Welsh Government’ controls the purse funding.
To the point where, in the parallel dimension that is Wales, third sector bosses receive awards for achievements in business.
From 2007 until 2011 Labour was in coalition with Plaid Cymru, but Plaid made no attempt to bring back the WDA, for Plaid Cymru is another party made up of social workers, academics and others who think making profits and creating jobs is dirty.
‘Filthy capitalism, innit!’
Much better to live on hand-outs from England. Then enjoy the power of patronage that goes with distributing someone else’s money without the bother of creating it. That is, without the hard work involved organising a national economy.
Which is exactly how the Labour Party views devolution.
And explains why the cycle of decline will continue after next May’s election when Labour will fall short of a majority and need another coalition with Plaid Cymru to stay in power. Plaid Cymru will jump at the opportunity.
And Wales will continue to decline . . . with regular ‘dead cat on the table’ episodes of virtue signalling.
BRIGHTON GREENS DISCOVER GOWER
In my younger days I spent a lot of time on Gower. Oh yes. An aunt and uncle had a house above Port Eynon when such properties could be bought cheaply because most tourists came from within a radius of 40 or 50 miles. They came for a day trip or a holiday, but few of them thought of moving there permanently.
It was on their doorstep, they could visit whenever they liked.
School holidays spent crabbing at Port Eynon were succeeded by teenage years fishing just about everywhere for bass, with Worm’s Head a favourite spot.
In the twenty-first century it was inevitable I suppose that Gower would attract the eco-colonists, those who want to ‘live off the land’ . . . usually someone else’s land, often thanks to big dollops of public funding, and invariably by ignoring planning regulations.
And lo! it has come to pass.
To read the WalesOnline report from which the above image is taken just click here.
The Furzehill project is the brainchild of the Ecological Land Cooperative of Brighton. That is Brighton on the south coast of England. What attracts them to Wales is the One Planet lunacy, which proclaims that in order to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint people must be attracted to Wales to farm virgin land, burn wood, drive vehicles, and generally impose themselves on what were often pristine landscapes.
This is virtue signalling, big time, introduced when Jane Davidson was Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing from 2007 to 2011. This may also have been the period when the ‘Welsh Government’s ‘All Farmers are Bastards’ strategy was formulated. (Was ‘Game Show Gary’ [ahem] ‘advising’ Davidson?)
Nominally, Davidson was AM for Pontypridd, but she didn’t give a toss about Ponty. She was in Corruption Bay to promote her environmentalist friends’ agenda. The rest of the Labour Party could see the advantage in this because it gave scope for virtue signalling on a global stage while putting the boot into rural electorates that refuse to vote Labour.
Davidson went on to become an academic (of sorts) and an even more outspoken advocate for eco-invaders like herself.
Here’s Davidson’s book on her work in government that culminated in One Planet Developments (OPD) and Future Generations legislation. Which have done nothing for us Welsh (it wasn’t intended to) but has achieved brownie points for a party and a system that, while running Wales into the ground, gets plaudits from people like Nikhil Seth who know sod all about Wales.
Furzehill is important, and should be watched, for the following reason.
Up until now OPDs have argued that they improve marginal land or even bring life back to abandoned farms. But Gower is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AOUB). The first area given AOUB status in the whole of this island.
I expect Swansea council to refuse planning permission for these ‘hobbit houses’. If that happens, then there will almost certainly be an appeal to the ‘Welsh Government’. And if those clowns allow the Furzehill project to proceed then National Parks will be the next target for the eco-colonists.
For those unfamiliar with the area, the Llansamlet ward is on the east side of Swansea, above Bonymaen and east of Morriston, straddling the M4. At its edge, Birchgrove runs into Skewen merging Swansea with Neath.
It was an area where the Welsh language was still strong when I was a boy, and Swansea’s first Plaid Cymru councillor was elected by Llansamlet’s voters in the youthful form of my old mate Dr John Ball.
Since then, it’s been pretty much downhill. The ward has been represented by a succession of Old Labour time-servers, enlivened recently by a few exotic imports.
I’m thinking now of Robert (‘call me Bob’) Clay, privately-educated former MP for Sunderland North and his Austrian-born wife Uta. Both moved on in 2017 and I’m told that these devout Marxists now live in a very agreeable detached property in rural Carmarthenshire.
Llansamlet returned another four Labour councillors at the 2017 elections, among them Maureen ‘Mo’ Sykes, of whom I have written before. To remind you . . . Mo Sykes was CEO of YMCA Wales yet under her ‘leadership’ things went to hell. To the extent that YMCA Wales ceased to exist.
The organisation leaked money, she herself left under a big cloud in July 2014, YMCA Wales went into administration in September, the jewel in the crown – Newgale Outdoor Education Centre in Pembrokeshire – was flogged off for £507,000 in June 2015, and the abandoned branches of YMCA Wales were told to affiliate to YMCA England.
They were welcomed with open arms by YMCA England for adopting the ‘national brand’.
So in the age of devolution we took another step backward. The ‘Welsh Government’, which had funded Mo Sykes and should have been asking what the fuck had gone wrong, showed no interest. After buying a nice detached house on a quiet street in Clydach (for a surprisingly low price) Sykes was handed a safe seat for the 2017 city council elections.
And now, if my sources are correct, she’s going home to the Six Counties after living off the public purse for years and doing her bit to integrate Wales into England.
If so, good riddance.
LEENA SARAH FARHAT
Soon after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis Nation.Cymru insulted us with an article by Leena Sarah Farhat telling us that Wales was full of racist cops. I made a comment, suggesting she apologise to our police, but my comment was removed. Bizarrely, left up were comments from an unhinged wokie (not from Muskogee) attacking me in very personal terms!
This moron seemed to think I’d deleted my comment, and even when told he’d taken a wrong turn he kept marching purposefully into the bog. I’ve had dealings with him before, and he’s typical of his kind. Because I’d called him ‘little boy’ or something he tried to brand me a paedophile by suggesting I thought I was dealing with a child!
No, ‘Alan’, I’m know exactly what I’m dealing with, son. A twat.
It got so fractious on the state-subsidised mouthpiece for Plaid Cymru run by the saintly Ifan Morgan Jones that he had to pull all the comments. Something he had to do again on Friday when reporting that Martin Shipton, Chief Correspondent of the Western Mail, had lost his judging job at the Book of the Year Awards, run by Literature Wales, after being targeted by the wokies. (Tell me about it!)
(And if you want a definition of colonial establishment, look no further than Literature Wales.)
But I digress. Who is Leena Sarah Farhat?
From what I could gather, she works at Aberystwyth University. She is also Diversity Officer for the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and their candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. I’m sure she knows Castell Newydd Emlyn and Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn like the back of her delicate hand.
Anyway, later that evening I had one of the strange e-mails I get quite regularly. What I’m describing is the internet age’s equivalent of some bloke emerging out the shadows, collar pulled up and hat pulled down, looking furtively around before handing me the slip of paper that will unravel the mystery.
Or maybe I watch too much film noir.
The terse message contained a link, which I was loath to open in case it contained a virus. But I took a chance and the link took me here. To begin with, I wasn’t sure where I’d landed (I feared it might be one of those pornographical sites I’ve read about), but as I took it in I realised it was some kind of social media platform with people asking Leena Sarah Farhat questions.
Some of her answers were quite strange, others disturbing. Here’s a selection.
Make of it what you will, but here’s my interpretation. Here we have another ‘progressive’ party desperate to be seen to be ‘inclusive’ recruiting someone on whom they haven’t done enough checks, and who turns out to be, if not anti-Semitic, then certainly tacking towards that port of call.
With Plaid Cymru it was Sahar Al-Faifi, with Labour . . . well, take your pick, and now, not to be left out, the Lib Dems will incur the wrath of the Board of Deputies. Good.
What’s more, Agxio is a one-man band, and that one man is Dr Stephen Christie. To read Dr Christie’s Linkedin bio he’s been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. It’s only a matter of time before that photo on his mantelpiece of great-uncle Hamish in his pith helmet makes way for a Nobel Prize.
From Linkedin we learn that since 2011 Christie has been CEO of Neural Insights Ltd, another company based in Dorking. His wife is the only other director. The latest accounts show a company where liabilities exceed assets, though the figures are small. The accounts are ‘filleted’.
Then there’s his chairmanship of MemberMatch Ltd, which helps golfists find playing partners. But he doesn’t seem to have ever been a director, let alone chairman. The latest unaudited financial statement reveals another company in the red.
Dr Christie’s only other extant company, formed in August 2018, is Inbotiqa Ltd. This has Net Liabilities of £107,131 for 2019; which was, admittedly, a big improvement on 2018. The accounts are unaudited.
And it looks similar with Agxio, which is getting funding from the Development Bank of Wales. Dr Currie seems to have spent a great deal of his time figuring out the share issues, just check the filing history.
Don’t get me wrong, Dr Stephen Christie might be a very clever bloke, but his greatest talent may be issuing and selling shares rather than producing anything, or creating jobs.
Furthermore, his ‘presence’ in Aberystwyth may be no more than a letter-box, and so I question whether Agxio should be receiving a penny of Welsh public funding.
To begin with, Coronavirus seems to have impacted on the Conservative vote as if the party’s voters had been confined to care homes; down 11 percentage points from the April poll to 35% for Westminster elections. Labour is up 4 to 39% and Plaid Cymru also up 4 to 15%.
For Welsh Parliament elections, the figures are (constituency first, list second):
Those figures were fairly predictable. Of more interest were the responses when people were asked questions such as: “If there was a referendum tomorrow on Wales becoming an independent country and this was the question, how would you vote? Should Wales be an independent country?”
In answer, 25% said Yes, but 54% said No. When asked whether the Assembly should be abolished, 25% said Yes, 48% said No.
To the multi-option constitutional question the responses were:
As you’re probably aware, a great deal has been made of a figure of 33% in favour of independence. This figure is only arrived at when respondents are given the stark choice between doing away with devolution or going for independence. When the returns were:
Certainly, these findings are generally encouraging. But there’s a long way to go. What I extrapolate from these polls is the following:
Devolution is increasingly discredited. After more than two decades of failure it is under pressure from both those who want independence and those who want integration with England. (Which is what abolishing the Senedd would amount to.)
Plaid Cymru is making little progress despite the increase in numbers prepared to consider independence. There is clearly scope for other parties, especially if those parties are more focused on Wales and Welsh issues.
No account is taken in these polls of how events in Scotland could impact on Wales. I believe that Scotland becoming independent would greatly increase the numbers in Wales choosing independence.
There’s a lot to play for in next year’s elections. And beyond.
As you may know, following a complaint by Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen, currently building a property empire on Ynys Môn, Facebook took down the links I’d posted to the articles about him on this blog.
Well now I’m locked out of my Facebook account altogether, yet it appears to still be open to others. There seems to be no appeal process so is there any way I can just close my Facebook page?
There was nothing to see here, she insisted, because Jake Berry lived in Rhoscolyn. “A few people have been in touch with me regarding the MP Jake Berry living here in the island. Mr and Mrs Berry have been living here in the island since February – it is their home”.
So that’s OK then.
It means that the MP for a Lancashire constituency lives 130 miles away near Holyhead. I wonder how the electors of Rossendale and Darwen would have voted if they’d known that fact before they re-elected him last December.
Perhaps what Ms Crosbie meant to say was explained when a spokesperson on behalf of Mr Berry said: “During a visit to Wales, a family member of Mr Berry started showing signs of Coronavirus. This visit was prior to the Government decision to lockdown.”
So putting together the contributions from Ms Crosbie and the spokesperson, perhaps we should conclude that the Berry family was on Ynys Môn in February when Mrs Berry was taken ill, perhaps one of the children was also unwell, so they all stayed put.
So why did no one notice them until a couple of days ago?
Two points are worth making. First, we are expected to believe that the Lancashire Telegraph sat on this story for two weeks and then published it as ‘News’. Second, Berry is reported to have had his dog with him. So if Virginia Crosbie is correct, and Berry was living at Rhoscolyn, he took the poor mutt on a 260 mile round trip.
But a few days later, on 3 April, Berry himself put out what you see below. So either he was in his constituency, as the message ‘Lovely to see this up in #Darwen’ suggests, or else it was posted from Rhoscolyn, making it a deliberate attempt to deceive his constituents into believing that he was there among them.
But if, as his defenders insist, he has been living at Rhoscolyn since February, then he could only have reached Darwen by breaking the lockdown rules.
The consistent line in all the reports I’ve read says that he was visiting relatives when a member of his family fell ill. This makes a certain sense because Berry’s wife gave birth on or just before 11 February. It would have been natural to have taken the new arrival to be seen by Berry’s parents, who do live at Rhoscolyn.
And then they went home.
In fact, Jake himself is quite the property tycoon; for he either owns outright or has a share in four properties around Rhoscolyn. As his Declaration of Interests makes clear.
One of the shared properties is the one his parents live in.
Another property he owns is Plas Coch. If I’m reading the title document and the women in his life correctly, then he owns this property jointly with his mother and his ex-wife. Which must be a bundle of laughs. But again, this property was also paid for in readies, £249,000 in May 2017.
As I’ve said, Jake Berry is a non-practising solicitor, and as far as I can see there are no directorships or other sources of income. So either there’s family money or else he makes his MP’s salary go a long, long way.
Having mentioned Plas Coch, my man in the bushes tells me that no lights have been seen there in the evening. Though there is a car parked, a silver Volvo XC70. Funny thing is that the MOT on this vehicle expired in January 2019. And the tax ran out in March last year.
Though Jake’s brother is reported to have lived at Plas Coch for a while. Is the car his?
And can anyone identify the fourth property Jake Berry owns on Ynys Môn?
The evidence suggests that the Berry family visited in February with the baby, went back to Lancashire, and turned up again a few days ago after Boris Johnson’s garbled message about staying alert.
I cannot believe that the Berry family is living permanently at Rhyd-y-Bont. It would be too risky. Some local shit-stirrer back in Lancashire would almost certainly find out and our boy would be in trouble.
Though if they are living at Rhyd-y-Bont then, when things get back to normal Jake Berry will be catching the Holyhead to London train on a Monday and making the return trip on Thursday evening or Friday. So when will he find time for his constituency? Or if he spends weekends in his constituency, when will he see his missus and the sprogs?
Alternatively, if it is a holiday home, £780,000 is a hell of a lot to pay. Insulting to the local Welsh people being priced out of the market by people like the Berry clan.
Finally. I’ve just remembered that there is no London property shown in his Declaration of Interests, so where does he live when Parliament is sitting?
The bigger issue here of course is holiday homes. Holiday homes in Wales owned by people who have no connection with our country other than the exploitative and parasitic relationship provided by the property they own.
In this pandemic, the issue has come to the fore in ways I would not have believed possible. There is palpable anger directed at holiday homes and those who own them.
Only yesterday we read that police had to ask a Liverpool family to leave their holiday home in Llandegfan, on the other side of Ynys Môn, for their own safety. This report in NorthWalesLive gives the impression of a crowd of yokels brandishing pitchforks.
Feelings are running high everywhere. But what else can be expected?
Nothing really, because tourism encourages contempt for us and our identity. Wales doesn’t really belong to us, it’s theirs to take and do with as they wish. So come to Wales . . . swamp our communities, ridicule our language, change our ancient place names, and pay £780,000 for a holiday home.
Tourism and the colonisation that always follows has given us areas of our country where we Welsh are in a minority. A constantly diminishing minority. Every year more and more communities cease to be Welsh because of tourism.
There has never been a better time for politicians to get to grips with the problem of holiday homes, but they are too cowardly to grasp the opportunity. Those weaklings in Corruption Bay refuse to give police the authority to make people leave holiday homes and won’t even increase the fine for disobeying lockdown.
In Wales it stays at £60 but in England – where restrictions have been eased! – fines start at £100.
Holiday homes are inseparable from tourism. A tourism industry that is overwhelmingly foreign owned and of little or no benefit to us Welsh. The few benefits more than outweighed by the damage caused.
We have learnt a great lesson during this pandemic – the power of community resistance. When it’s over we must continue refusing to accept holiday homes and saturation tourism.