Housing for Wales or housing for the Welsh?

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.

INTRODUCTION

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!

Such as this modest – and rather ugly – three-bedroom home for £425,000.

While at the other end of the scale, in declining seaside resorts and post-industrial areas, property prices are so low that they attract those who buy in bulk and ship in problems.

Which takes us to Llanelli, and the Ty Isha neighbourhood, by the railway station. Third sector bodies, private landlords and others have moved in, bought up terraced houses and flats, and dumped petty criminals and drug addicts from England.

I’m not sure how to read this without more information, but it’s pretty, and some people enjoy this kind of thing. Blame WalesOnline for ‘Tyshia’. Click to enlarge

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”.

Planning Inspectorate insisting that discredited population projections still be used to determine housing provision. Click to enlarge

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.

Major housing developments planned around Wrecsam. None to the south or the west. Quelle surprise! Click to enlarge

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’.

Add to all the new housing the proposed road improvements and the fate allotted to Wrecsam becomes clear. The A483 is of course the road to Chester.

Here’s a late addition about 200 more houses at Rhosrobin, right next to the A483.

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.

HOLIDAY HOMES

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.

Swansea waterfront. Click to enlarge

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.)

Click to enlarge

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.

Click to enlarge

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.

Click to enlarge

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.

SOCIAL HOUSING

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.

Er, no.

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”.

This rehousing of ‘priority cases’ can have catastrophic consequences. As we learnt when Grwp Gwalia of Swansea housed a network of Satan-worshipping paedophiles from London in Kidwelly.

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.

To explain how confusing it can become, I suggest you read this piece I wrote recently on Cartrefi Conwy and its offshoots. (Scroll down to the section ‘Cartrefi Conwy, Associates, Chinese investors’.)

Brenig Construction, with Chinese investment, is in partnership with Creating Enterprise, which is a subsidiary of RSL Cartrefi Conwy. Wales and West is Labour’s favourite RSL and the only one that operates all over the country. It has a bad record for housing drug addicts and petty criminals from outside of Wales in towns like Lampeter and Fishguard. Click to enlarge

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

Click to enlarge

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.

♦ end ♦

 




Bryn Llys, unravelling

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 piece was to be one of three in a post entitled ‘Rogues Gallery’, but things started accumulating and I realised I should focus on the Bryn Llys gang. Because I believe the end may be in sight.

For those new to the story, the gang referred to – with a couple of additions – hails from the Halifax area of West Yorkshire. They’ve bought property outside Nebo, a village south of Caernarfon, built a new house – ‘Snowdon Summit View’ – by exceeding planning permission, demolished the old house, removed hedgerows and cut down trees, and tried to steal land by bullying neighbours.

Bryn Llys, old and new. Click to enlarge

More recently the disruption to others’ lives has meant a new road and a bridge. All done to facilitate proceeding with the longer-term plans for the site, which will involve some kind of ‘Playground Wales’ horror show.

INTRODUCING JOHN JOSEPH DUGGAN

A good place to start this saga is June 30, 2005, at Bradford Crown Court, where 46-year-old John Joseph Duggan was jailed for more than six years. The court heard that Duggan had “masqueraded as 12 different characters to run a series of ‘ghost’ building firms which targeted unsuspecting trade merchants and private customers.”

The amount conned in this way was said to be £547,000, and the judge described him as a “professional fraudster”. There’s an account here in the Hebden Bridge Times, which is worth reading because it will prepare you for what follows.

At the time he committed these offences Duggan was already disqualified from being a company director, making it reasonable to assume that there had been earlier offences. The disqualification almost certainly explains why he used up to a dozen aliases. Duggan was then banned from being a director for a further fifteen years, up until 6 July 2021.

An extract from Hebden Bridge Times report of John Duggan’s 2005 trial. Click to enlarge.

The following year, Duggan’s son, Jonathan James Duggan appeared in the same court, and before the same judge, the Recorder of Bradford, Stephen Gullick. Who described the younger Duggan as a “willing apprentice”.

In court the prosecutor outlined the modus operandi of what was headlined the ‘family business’: ” . . . building companies had been set up since 2002 and ordered materials and equipment from suppliers who were never paid. Each company was wound up after only a few months and a fresh company set up.”

With the materials and equipment obtained by deception sold for cash.

Like father like son, the younger Duggan was using the alias Ripley.

THE SON ALSO RISES

Then there seems to be a gap – certainly, I can’t find anything – between 2006 and August 2013 when Bryn Llys is bought and Jonathan Duggan turns up in Gwynedd. Were they living off their ill-gotten gains?

For it seems unlikely they could have done much business in the West Yorkshire area after such bad publicity.

But a company was formed in March 2012 with Jonathan Duggan and Andrew Battye as the directors . . . and the secretaries, for they kept changing roles. Bridge Glazing Systems Ltd lasted until July 2015 when it was wound up by creditors.

I’m having difficulty identifying Andrew Battye, because it seems to be a fairly common name in Yorkshire. I’ve located a few of that name, but they appear to be legitimate. This is important because the Land Registry lists Andrew Battye as the owner of Bryn Llys. He’s also listed as the owner of the land adjoining Bryn Llys. (To be explained later.)

Among others I’ve mentioned is Shane Baker, BritNat fan of Tommy Robinson, who appeared once or twice as a ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’ film or TV extra, and lives in a large mobile home on the site.

His Facebook page confirms that he’s inordinately fond of a certain flag. And if you’re looking for a hot tub, then Shane’s your man. I’m told he’s sold lots of stuff online over the years. We can but hope that the suppliers of these goods were paid.

When he’s not online retailing it seems Shane looks after Duggan’s dogs. “Lovely pups”, says Julie Appleton of Benllech. A family friend, I suppose.

Click to enlarge

Another Duggan associate is ‘property developer’ Aaron Hill, also a near neighbour. More on Hill in a moment.

But one I’ve rather overlooked recently is Jonathan Duggan’s half-brother, Scott Smith, who may still live in West Yorkshire.

It’s worth re-acquainting you with Smith because when we line up his business record with that of Duggan Junior we see a very similar ‘business model’ to the one that got their father banged up.

(Here’s a pdf version with working links.)

Click to enlarge

You have to wonder why people with the business records and family backgrounds of Jonathan Duggan and Scott Smith are ever allowed to start a company.

JOHN JOSEPH DUGGAN SCENE II

Following his time in prison after the 2005 conviction John Duggan relocated to Harrogate, in North Yorkshire. But he had no intention of going straight, and in April 2018 he was sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment at Leeds Crown Court.

But he wasn’t in court to hear the sentence handed down, cos he’d done a runner.

Click to enlarge

Unable to emulate Lord Lucan he was arrested within weeks at Benllech on Ynys Môn, where he was living under a false name. Fancy that, a false name. He may have struggled to come up with one he hadn’t used before!

While searching for Duggan père police called in on Duggan fils and the gang at Bryn Llys. The image below from WalesOnline shows how the ‘extension’ dwarfs the (now demolished) original house.

Click to enlarge

John Joseph Duggan was sent down in April 2018 for five and a half years, so he might have been released by now. If not, then assuming he’s behaved himself, it can’t be long before he’s let out to rebuild his business empire.

HEARTS AND MINDS

We last read of the gang in Miscellany 02.03.2020 (section headed ‘Bryn Llys Bach’). There I mentioned the remarkable case of an old Land Rover spontaneously combusting, and an upcoming appearance at Llandudno magistrates court, so let’s catch up.

The court case was adjourned until Thursday and Friday of this week. Yet another adjournment. (Is this the third?)

The mystery of things just ‘catching afire’, as witnessed at Bryn Llys. Click to enlarge

When he’s not brushing up on his legal Latin and practising his rhetoric in the bathroom mirror, Jonathan Duggan has been complaining to anyone prepared to listen that he’s being victimised!

Even those who don’t want to listen have had to endure his self-pitying rants. In one incident, three weeks ago, outside the local school in Nebo, he was shouting and swearing, claiming nobody liked him, and that he just wanted to live quietly and farm. (He’s bought a few pigs and geese!)

Perhaps he doesn’t have the sense to realise that shouting and swearing at the school gates is guaranteed to get you disliked. Maybe he’ll get the message now that North Wales Police has served him with a Community Protection Notice (CPN).

This hasn’t been Duggan’s only recent brush with the law. For the Rural Crimes Officer is taking action over one of the dogs we met earlier attacking poultry in a neighbouring property. It’s not the first time his dogs have strayed and attacked poultry. I’m told Duggan’s gracing Caernarfon magistrates court early next month.

The postponed case I referred to is an appeal by the gang against an enforcement notice issued by Cyngor Gwynedd relating to the unlawful splitting or subdividing of the Bryn Llys title. This was something I wasn’t entirely clear about myself, but I think these are the details.

A previous owner of Bryn Llys, when it was a modest property with a small curtilage, bought some twenty acres of land. This explains title document WA936224 covering just the house and a small area, with title CYM579760 relating to the land surrounding the house. (Scroll down on both for title plan.)

Bryn Llys title shaded green. ‘Land adjoining’ edged in red. Click to enlarge

The suspicion is that Duggan wanted to further split the Bryn Llys house title into two, one title for the original house, a new one for ‘Snowdon Summit View’.

The old title might then have been used for another ‘extension’ developing into a second monstrous blot on the landscape.

LIE OF THE LAND

Problems are not coming singly for Jonathan Duggan at the moment. On the one hand, he’s been presented with a CPN for his monologue outside Nebo school, he’s up before the Cofi beaks thanks to his chicken-munching dogs, and he’s due at the seaside this week to defend himself against the enforcement notice.

But it doesn’t end there – I’m told there are further enforcement notices in the offing. Here’s one I can tell you about.

This concerns the ‘land lying to the south east of Glanrafon Terrace’, which the title document tells us was bought from Aaron Hill . . . with a loan from Aaron Hill.

Duggan has had work done on this land improving access so that large vehicles and machinery can be brought in to press on with the next stage of ‘Project Snowdon Summit View’.

For as I mentioned earlier, Jonathan Duggan and his pals have made no secret of their plans for the site, and the formation last year of Bryn Llys Ltd, which is in the business of ‘holiday centres and villages’, should leave no one in any doubt.

The secretary and sole director of Bryn Llys Ltd is Andrew Battye, who is, according to the Land Registry, also the owner of Bryn Llys and the land around it.

Bryn Llys land and access edged in blue, land bought from Aaron Hill in red. Bryn Llys house title not shown. Though outline suggests both old house still standing and extension built to original planning permission. Compare with NorthWalesLive photograph above. Click to enlarge

The details for both the enforcement notice and the appeal can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website. Here’s a direct link to the enforcement notice. Further links here to the enforcement notice appeal form and the enforcement notice appeal supporting statement.

There are a couple of things worth a comment. Turning first to the supporting statement, read the panel below, which sets out Duggan’s justification for trying to become Nebo’s answer to Thomas Telford.

Click to enlarge

Can you imagine a crook like Duggan, who has terrorised his neighbours, and who has henchmen to back him up, plus large dogs, allowing anyone to hinder his access with “old gates and general rubbish”?

The material he refers to is well inside the boundary of the neighbouring property, leaving the Bryn Llys access clear. This is a pathetic attempt to justify his unauthorised work. As is the ‘fencing’ mentioned on the plan.

Proven by the fact that Duggan was able to use this access lane to bring in all the machinery and material needed to build ‘Snowdon Summit View’. Plus Shane Baker’s large mobile home.

Attempting to discredit the established access to Bryn Llys also explains the Land Rover fire at the end of last month. This was done to summon the fire service in the hope that any difficulty experienced by a large fire tender could support his claim, and undermine the enforcement notice.

But as I told you in the previous post, the local fire chief had visited the site earlier and said that Bryn Llys could be adequately covered by a ‘narrow access vehicle’.

Now let’s turn to the enforcement notice appeal form. Where you’ll see that the appellant is ‘Mr John Duggan’.

Click to enlarge

When I queried this with a source I was told that it refers to Jonathan Duggan. But the abbreviated form of Jonathan is Jon, not John. So maybe it’s a typo? I wouldn’t be asking if Jonathan’s Duggan’s father’s name was Wolfgang or Mustafa, but it’s John.

FOLLOWING THE MONEY

It is universally understood that Jonathan James Duggan and/or his father John Joseph Duggan own Bryn Llys and the land around. But they can’t admit that because they have so many unpaid creditors, from Jewsons to HMRC.

Which explains why Andrew Battye owns everything. (Don’t laugh, it’s rude!)

Being unable to admit to having assets may also explain the bizarre deal over the new land. Running out of legitimate lenders, and with Duggan unable to say that he’s bought this land with family money, he and Hill pretend that the vendor has ‘loaned’ the buyer the money to make the purchase!

And Duggan is definitely running out of lender options.

Going back to the title documents, you’ll recall that in October 2013 a loan or mortgage was taken out with the Bank of Scotland. Then, in June 2016, there is a further loan/mortgage with the Shawbrook Bank. (These loans covering both titles.)

But then, and only against Bryn Llys, title WA936224, we find a further restriction dated 18 September 2018, this one in favour of Andrew Peter Smith.

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So who is Andrew Peter Smith? Well, here’s his Linkedin profile. You’ll see that Mr Smith is an insolvency practitioner, and he works for PayPlan, a company that helps people with debts.

What does it all mean?

One possibility is that the involvement of an insolvency practitioner means the bag marked ‘Swag’ is getting empty. Duggan would have hoped to replenish it by selling ‘Snowdon Summit View’.

But the Duggans seem to be stuck with a hideous new house they’re finding impossible to sell, despite having dropped the asking price from £850,000 last summer to £650,000 last month, when it failed to sell.

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If they are running low on loot, then the ‘purchase’ of the new land from Aaron Hill might be the last throw of the dice. For without the roadway and bridge the Duggans can’t hope to sell the new house, nor move on to ‘Snowdon Summit View Holiday Park’.

Duggan himself has contributed to the difficulty of selling by arguing that there is no viable access to Bryn Llys/’Snowdon Summit View’!

Desperation is taking hold. I’m sure Jonathan Duggan now hears the sirens of Shit Creek sing their beguiling song.

And this new land throws up another tantalising question. For as I’ve said, the Duggans can’t admit to owning anything for fear of creditors, yet with this new land Jonathan James Duggan is boldly listed as the owner. (But thinks he’s covered himself by claiming Hill loaned him the money.)

Duggan’s justification for laying the roadway and building the bridge across the land bought from Hill is to provide access to Bryn Llys. But why splash out £50,000 for the land, and many thousands more on the bridge and the roadway – to give access to a property he doesn’t own?

Looking back to the map provided by the agent in the appeal against the enforcement notice we read, “Blue line represents Bryn Llys site boundary prior to purchasing the additional land”. But Bryn Llys hasn’t bought ‘the additional land’. For Bryn Llys is owned by Andrew Battye and the new land by Jonathan Duggan.

If the new land forms part of Bryn Llys then either the new land belongs to Andrew Battye or Bryn Llys is owned by Jonathan Duggan.

The crooks are starting to contradict themselves.

For the benefit of any police forces considering using the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, or creditors looking for what they’re owed, John Joseph Duggan and/or Jonathan James Duggan own a large house they believe is worth £650,000, plus 30 acres or so of land. And they may still have cash stashed away.

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If Cyngor Gwynedd and others stick to their guns and enforce the law then Jonathan Duggan and his mates will have to remove the unauthorised roadway and bridge and reinstate the area.

And then, when that last throw of the dice has failed, the end will be in sight.

Whereas surrendering to Duggan’s bluster will start another sequence of unauthorised works, leading to one enforcement notice after another, more court appearances, and yet more misery for the neighbours.

The time has come for firm and decisive action to finally deal with these crooks.

♦ end ♦

 

Miscellany 02.03.2020

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

I know I promised a piece on Wales & West Housing, but I’ve put that on the back burner because something has cropped up. And anyway, W&W is not going away. (Unfortunately.) So that will be my next post.

PLAID CYMRU KEEPS ON DIGGING

The previous post on this blog, Plaid Cymru’s new girl, was about Sonia Klein who, just a few months ago, was trying to be the Labour candidate for Ilford South in December’s general election. So she and her husband must have surprised many people with their decision to join Plaid Cymru.

Inevitably, Ms Klein was welcomed into Plaid Cymru by Leanne Wood.

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I say, ‘inevitably’, because Ms Klein ticks so many boxes for Plaid Cymru. She is a ‘strong woman’, she is BAME, and she is also a socialist.

Just a few days later it leaked out that Plaid Cymru had re-admitted Sahar Al-Faifi, who had also been welcomed into the Party by Leanne Wood. Ms Al-Faifi ticks the same boxes as Ms Klein.

There had been an outcry to Al-Faifi’s remarks about a number of incidents, including the London Bridge attacks, which led to Plaid Cymru – reluctantly – suspending her last November. But her suspension was brief, and she has been re-admitted and is hoping to stand for the Assembly.

Now members of the Jewish community have urged Plaid Cymru to rethink its position on Sahar Al-Faifi, but Plaid has responded by adopting the, ‘It was all a long time ago’ defence. Which is not going to work.

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Plaid Cymru is in this mess of its own making because despite Adam Price’s victory in the 2018 leadership contest, a contest in which Leanne Wood came a dismal third, it is still Wood’s supporters calling the shots in the party. So keep looking to the skies for more parachutists.

A number of long-time Plaid Cymru members who thought they were the agreed regional candidate for the 2021 election might be in for a nasty shock. Those who aren’t outed as fascist transphobes and closet Trump fans might be displaced by bearded ‘Olga’, formerly of the Bulgarian Workers and Peasants Alliance.

A very strong woman!

BRYN LLYS BACH

I’ve written a few times about the criminal gang who’ve taken over this site at Nebo, near Caernarfon.

Anyone wanting to catch up should go to this post from November, 2018, and the section ‘Rockin’ to the right’. Then, on to this post from January last year and scroll down to the section headed ‘Shane Baker “the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo” and Jonathan Duggan’.

That was followed by this post in July, scroll down to the section ‘Planners’. Next, this post from August, under ‘Gwynedd Planners’. The gang also gets a mention here, in December, in ‘Bryn Llys’. Finally here, last month, also under ‘Bryn Llys’.

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Not satisfied with exceeding planning permission to build an ‘extension’ that soon dwarfed the old house (which was then demolished), or with destroying trees and hedgerows, while continually threatening neighbours and trying to steal land, the gang has now gone a step further with arson and wasting police and fire brigade time.

Last Tuesday someone set an old Land Rover afire at Bryn Llys. It is reported that one of the gang, posing as a ‘passer-by’, phoned the fire service. A large machine was sent which could not negotiate the narrow track to Bryn Llys.

Which was the whole point of this act of arson, done in the hope of establishing that the access to Bryn Llys should be widened. Which would allow the crooks there to use large vehicles to bring in machinery and materials so they can move on to their plans for the rest of the site.

(I’m told that the chief fire officer from Caernarfon inspected the site some two years ago and stated that a ‘narrow access vehicle’ would attend any emergency at Bryn Llys. Maybe the word hadn’t been passed down the chain of command.)

The fire re-started on Wednesday and two fire engines and a police car attended.

I have been sent some images which are available below.

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Following these incidents a concerned local wrote to Plaid Cymru-controlled Gwynedd County Council, which has been reluctant to get involved throughout this sorry saga.

The council’s response said:

‘Thank you for your emails of the 25 and 26 February 2020 in respect of the above.

I acknowledge your concerns regarding vehicle fires at this site and note that these matters are being dealt with by the Fire Service as well as the Police.

Furthermore,  I would advise that the issue of illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales.

From the Council’s perspective, we have taken formal planning enforcement action with the service of enforcement notices for the various breaches of planning control at this site.  The Enforcement Notices relate to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, the temporary residential building and the unauthorised engineering works to create a track at the property.

The Council is currently undertaking prosecution proceedings for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, with the trial set for the 10 and 11 March 2020 in the Magistrates’ Courts, Llandudno. Furthermore, we are also considering further possible enforcement action for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the temporary residential building.

With regards to the Enforcement Notice for the unauthorised access track works, an appeal against this notice has recently been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (Welsh Government). There is a prescribed procedure for planning enforcement appeals, which includes public consultation and there will therefore be an opportunity for you and any other interested parties to provide representations as part of this process which will commence shortly.

From the Council’s perspective, I consider that we are taking the appropriate enforcement action in accordance with what the legislation allows us to do in respect of breaches of planning control.’

I’m not sure what to make of this. I suppose it’s reassuring to know that these crooks will be in court in a week or so, but there’s no mention of action for exceeding planning permission with the monstrosity that’s been built, nor for demolishing the old house.

Also reassuring, I suppose, to read that the police are involved regarding the fire, but then we read, ” . . . illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales”. 

‘Illegal disposal’, be buggered! This was a calculated act of arson that could have had serious consequences. It certainly resulted in the police and the fire service having to attend – twice! – when I’m sure there were other things they could have been doing.

And now we learn that the Planning Inspectorate is involved. A body that almost always works against Welsh interests (hand-in-glove with a complaisant ‘Welsh Government’). Whether it’s demanding new houses in Wrecsam for Cheshire commuters, or overruling Swansea council to allow more HMOs.

Given the record of the Planning Inspectorate in Wales, we can assume that it will side with the English criminals at Bryn Llys.

So who exactly are they?

Ensconced at or near Bryn Llys we find Jonathan James Duggan, Shane Baker and Aaron Hill. Duggan’s father is a ‘professional fraudster’ who was jailed for six years in July, 2006. He’s back in prison after being tracked down on Ynys Môn a while back. Bryn Llys was raided around the same time.

Baker is said to be related to Duggan, and it was him who got me interested in Bryn Llys by responding to a tweet of mine. When Baker’s not fooling himself about his musical abilities he’s mumbling ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’ in crowd scenes.

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Politically, as the Twitter image suggests, Baker’s very much a BritNat, and a Tommy Robinson fan, who may regard Wales as a colony to be exploited by the insular branch of the herrenvolk.

It’s difficult to know where and how Aaron Hill fits, but he certainly made no effort to fit in with the locals when he lived in Caernarfon. Hill’s a property developer, a species far too prevalent in Wales.

What a trio. The fraudster son of a professional fraudster, a Little Englander, and a property developer with a persecution complex. Though there’s one other gang member worth mentioning.

Andrew Battye owns Bryn Llys, and the land adjoining. Or rather, that’s what it says on the Land Registry title documents I’ve just linked to. And it’s what I used to believe, but I’m no longer so sure.

Refer back to the 2006 conviction of Duggan senior and we see that he owed at least £547,000, gained by fraud. This is the Duggan family business model.

Because if we look at the Companies House records for Battye and Duggan in recent years we see the same pattern. (Available here in pdf format with working links to Companies House entries.)

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From what I can see, Duggan and Battye, either acting together or working alone, formed double glazing companies, these companies set up credit accounts with suppliers; goods were received, not paid for, and sold; then the companies folded.

However we got here, this farce has been allowed to run for long enough. Let’s hope the curtain starts coming down in Llandudno magistrates court next week. And then it would be nice to see GogPlod take it beyond planning matters to feel a few collars for fraud, arson, wasting police and fire service time, threatening neighbours, damaging hedgerows, felling mature trees, etc.

Things have got this far due to the inaction over recent years of the local planning department. The planning department that said a teacher couldn’t build a home when she couldn’t afford to buy in Wilmslow-sur-Mer (Abersoch). The planning department that has allowed criminals from England to do whatever they liked at Bryn Llys. That this planning department has moved at all is due to pressure from bullied neighbours demanding action.

‘WOODMAN, SPARE THAT TREE!’

The recent floods have inevitably been attributed to global warming or climate change by most of the mainstream media and all the bien pensants of the left. Being the heretic I am on such matters I dared posit an alternative view.

Which runs thus . . . yes, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past few weeks but might wind turbines be contributing to the serious flooding in places that have previously been less badly affected?

Two areas in particular brought these thoughts to mind, our Valleys and the areas in England close to the River Severn.

Because – and you can call me old-fashioned, or even uninformed – I’m suggesting that we cannot fell millions of trees on our hills, wreck absorbent peat bogs, then, in their place, plonk dozens or hundreds of wind turbines, and not expect more rainwater to run into the rivers below those hills.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, the picture below shows the size of the concrete bowl required by a single wind turbine. These are the pictures you’re not supposed to see. You, Dai Public, are expected to feel a warm, planet-saving glow from seeing gently turning turbines on some distant crest.

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And remember! each turbine is linked by an access road, giving a network of such roads on a wind farm. And each turbine has to be connected to the grid, which requires another network, this time of trenches.

So what was once a hillside covered in moss and peat absorbing rainwater, and trees sequestering CO2, has been destroyed to make an industrial site off which the water runs into the valleys below. And this has all been done in the name of the environment, of ‘saving the planet’!

A old mate of mine back home – a known trouble-maker – decided to find out how many trees had been cut to make way for wind turbines, and so he submitted an FoI to Natural Resources Wales. The response was startling. (It can be read in full here.)

Here’s an abstract.

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First, bear in mind that NRW can only tell us what trees were felled on land for which it is responsible, the former Forestry Commission estate, which only accounts for 40% of Wales’ woodland. Yet it still comes to over 2.5 million trees felled. Three-quarters of a million of them for the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, owned by Swedish company Vattenfall, which towers over a number of Valleys communities

You’ll see that NRW has nothing to say for Powys, which has seen so much wind farm development in recent years. This is because the woodlands there are privately owned. And yet, the Severn rises on Pumlumon, not far from the Cefn Croes wind farm (owned by an Italian company), and then it runs through Newtown and Welshpool to join the Vyrnwy and cross the border just a bun throw from Elsie’s Vintage Tea Room & Pie Parlour.

So the Powys wind farms must put a great deal of extra water into the Severn. And this almost certainly contributed something to the recent severe flooding downstream in towns such as Ironbridge.

And now we hear of yet another major development of 22 turbines planned for Powys, this one by French company EDF, at Garn Fach, between the A470 and the A483. I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘Welsh Government’ handle this one.

The project has, predictably, been welcomed by Rhys Wyn Jones of  RenewableUK Cymru. (Cos that’s his job!) But this article, quoting local politicians, hints at mounting opposition to the ongoing exploitation of the local landscape.

And what does the Woodland Trust have to say – will it allow EDF to chop down its trees at Garn Fach? Perhaps Woodland Trust is one of the landowners to benefit if this project goes ahead?

It seems to me that the eco-zealots need to pause, and do some hard thinking.

On the one hand they urge us to plant trees – even proposing to throw Welsh farmers off their land – because this would be good for the environment.

But it’s OK to fell millions of trees in Wales to make way for wind turbines . . . which almost certainly contribute to flooding. Flooding that will then be blamed on global warming/climate change, so the eco-zealots will insist on erecting more wind turbines . . . for which more trees will be felled and more peat bog lost . . . resulting in more flooding . . . .

I may not be 100% right on this, I rarely am, but I will say this with confidence: when it comes to the recent floods, then wind turbines are the elephant in the room.

CROSSBOW MURDER

I’m sure that many of you have been following this case on Ynys Môn. I certainly have. If you’re new to the case, then read this article from Saturday’s Wasting Mule.

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There was never any doubt that Terence Whall was guilty and that he was going down for life. The real questions remain:

  • What was the motive for Terence Whall killing Gerald Corrigan?
  • What is Whall’s background in East London/Essex and what brought him to Ynys Môn?
  • What was the true role of Whall’s associates, the locals, in this case?
  • Is this murder just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as has been suggested to me?
  • Is this conviction the end of the case as far as North Wales Police is concerned?

If we had a functioning media we could rely on it to chase down the facts, the background to this murder, but we don’t have a media.

If we did, they might wonder why Gerald Corrigan’s children needed to give evidence from behind a screen protecting their identities. The man who killed their father is going down for at least 31 years, so who are they afraid of? Or from whom do the police think they need to be protected?

The last time I remember evidence being given from behind a screen in a Welsh courtroom was in the early 1990s, and then it was MI5 operatives in a trial of Welsh nationalists accused of sending letter bombs.

If anyone wants to send me information relating to this case then they are welcome to do so. I promise not to divulge any source.

END OF FARMING?

Another subject I’ve written about more than once is the plan to gradually remove farmers from the land so that George Monbiot and his friends can take over the Welsh countryside with their ‘rewilding’ projects. (Just type ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box at the top of the sidebar.)

The colonialist arrogance displayed by those involved with the Summit to Sea project generated a very hostile response from farmers and others, which in turn led to funders pulling out.

But this respite might be short-lived if recent reports are to be believed.

We always knew that Monbiot and his gang had the backing of the ‘Welsh Government’ which, being Labour, hates country-dwellers in general, and farmers in particular, believing that rural Wales should accept its designated fate as a recreation and retirement area for England.

Now it appears that they have support much higher up the political food chain. This article’s heading says it all: ‘War of the wild: How trendy metropolitan eco-zealots with close ties to Boris Johnson are set on driving out traditional farming and ‘rewilding’ the land’.

And in case anyone didn’t get the message, it was soon followed up with this . . .

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Yes, I know, the left and the eco-zealots will say, ‘Ah! but it’s the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday’. To which I would respond – Grow up! If the facts hold up it doesn’t matter if the story originated in Völkischer Beobachter or the Plovdiv Marrow Growers Weekly.

The Mail titles are most definitely Conservative-supporting papers, which I suggest adds to their credibility in this instance.

Some of the arguments put forward in support of doing away with farming are quite hilarious. One ‘expert’ cites Singapore, arguing that it is prosperous without a farming sector. But Singapore is a bloody city-state of just 725.7 square kilometres and almost six million people. (Wales is 20,735 square kilometres and 3.2 million people.)

And then we read “Ben Goldsmith, for his part, caused fury among farmers this week by tweeting that ‘overgrazing’ by upland sheep farmers — rather than near-record rainfall — was responsible for the devastating floods suffered in South Wales.”

Ben Goldsmith is the brother of Zac Goldsmith, a big mate of Boris Johnson. Zac Goldsmith is also an environment minister.

Read who else is involved and a picture might emerge.

If farming is phased out it will be small farmers, and the family farm, that disappear. Big landowners will thrive, snapping up the farms made unviable by the decisions made by their friends and relatives in the government.

And of course we’ll see more wind turbines and other idiocies cheered on by the eco-zealots – but making fortunes in government subsidies for the very same people who’ll benefit from the destruction of Welsh farming.

Think about it, we have here what at first sight might appear to be two distinct groups – the environmentalists and the Conservative grandees. Surely, they should be on opposite sides? No.

If there’s money to be made then these members of the English upper-middle class, who know each other from school and university, Wimbledon and Henley; who move and marry within the same circles, will stick together.

The external enemies remain the same, and there’s not much we can do but resist them. But we can certainly remove the toadies in Corruption Bay who are so ready to do their masters’ bidding.

♦ end ♦

 

Bryn Blaen, the wind turbines that never turn

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

While you’re recovering from Christmas, getting your breath back for further excesses at New Year, just take time to read this little piece.

BRYN BLAEN WIND FARM

Just over a year ago, I wrote Corruption in the wind?, which was primarily about the Hendy wind farm, but I also mentioned the linked Bryn Blaen installation. And it’s Bryn Blaen I’m concentrating on here.

The six turbines of the Bryn Blaen wind farm lie to the north of Llangurig, the village you pass by if travelling north-south on the A470, and through which you pass if leaving the A470 to take the A44 down to Aberystwyth.

The ridge above Llangurig upon which Bryn Blaen wind farm now sits. Click to enlarge

Bryn Blaen wind farm is owned – in the first instance – by Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd, which was Incorporated May 18, 2011, though the company was originally known as Development Securities (No 74) Ltd. The project was funded with five loans from Close Leasing Ltd, a Manchester finance company that seems to have a keen interest in renewables.

Hendy wind farm not far away is owned – ditto – by Hendy Wind Farm Ltd, which was also Incorporated May 18, 2011, this time as Development Securities (No 71) Ltd. Thus far there is just one charge with Close Leasing Ltd.

(Development Securities (No 72) Ltd is now Rhoscrowther Wind Farm Ltd. More on Rhoscrowther in a minute.)

The immediate parent company in each case is DS Renewables LLP, which is in turn owned by U and I Group PLC. The U and I Group is a property company focused on London, Manchester and Dublin, but its portfolio extends beyond these cities and is not restricted to commercial and residential property.

Like most of its ilk the U and I Group pretends to be something better than just a property speculator. This clip from the 2019 accounts says it all.

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In fact, at 229 pages, the 2019 annual report and accounts is quite a tome, though much of it is self-promoting bullshit.

Bryn Blaen appears on page 26, where we also find mention of Hendy and Rhoscrowther wind farms. The figures on the left are the ‘Previous target’ column while those on the right are ‘Realised gains/losses’.

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We see that Hendy and Rhoscrowther have realised nothing; this is due to Hendy still being under construction, while Rhoscrowther was denied planning permission for a third time in April 2018 and appears to be dead in the water.

Bryn Blaen on the other hand has made a return of £4.7m, quite remarkable seeing as its turbines have never turned. This was being reported in January 2019 and little has changed, though I should report that some turbines have shaken the dust off recently . . . almost certainly powered by diesel generators, and done for the benefit of an increasingly sceptical local audience.

The reason Bryn Blaen is not generating electricity is hinted at in the image above, where it mentions ” . . . increased costs in connecting to the grid”. This alludes to a major problem. To wit, there isn’t the capacity on the existing local infrastructure to carry anything generated by Bryn Blaen.

All explained in this remarkable letter from concerned locals to Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs in the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, on December 18. You must read this letter.

You’ll see that it mentions a figure of £33,245,067. This can be found on page 7 of the 2019 accounts for Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd, as ‘Assets under construction’.

Though a closer look at page 7 of the accounts (shown below) tells us that Bryn Blaen Wind Farm’s true assets are in fact just £2,076. The thirty-three million figure is made up of debts, and page 15 explains that these are £21,410,000 in bank loans and £12,934,555 owed to U and I Group PLC.

(Wow! If debts can be counted as assets then Jac is rolling in it!)

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All of which means that Bryn Blaen wind farm is just a pachyderm of a very pale hue, desecrating the Welsh countryside for no discernible benefit to anyone. And yet . . .

On page 9, paragraph 2.2, of the Bryn Blaen Wind Farm Ltd accounts we read the passage below. The implication is that the debts (certainly the bank loans) will be repaid when Bryn Blaen is disposed of at the end of February 2020.

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Which suggests that someone is going to buy a wind farm that cannot export any electricity it might generate . . . which is why it has generated nothing in the two years of its existence!

This episode raises a number of questions:

  • Why did the Planning Inspectorate overrule Powys County Council to give planning permission in August 2016 to a project that the most cursory investigation would have revealed was utterly useless?
  • Are there other examples like Bryn Blaen?
  • Turbines that have generated nothing for six months can be demolished, so will Lesley Griffiths now do as protesters request and have the Bryn Blaen turbines demolished at developers’ expense?
  • The U and I Group plans to re-submit a planning application for Rhoscrowther wind farm on Milford Haven Waterway; can we therefore assume that Lesley Griffiths will be instructed to approve this application?

The scandal of Bryn Blaen should be a matter of national concern, so don’t just leave it to the locals – you write to Lesley Griffiths, and to your local AM, asking what the hell has happened. Insist on Bryn Blaen being demolished. And demand more stringent checks on local grid capacity and other issues before planning permission is granted for any future wind farms.

WORSE TO COME?

At the risk of being accused of beating a familiar drum I am going to conclude this short piece by looking at the National Development Framework 2020-2040.

For those who may not be familiar with this document, it is the supreme planning guidance for Wales to which plans such as councils’ Local Development Plans (LDPs) and all sub-national strategies must conform. I wrote about it in August.

The NDF is big on renewable energy, as the map below shows. What isn’t given over to wind and solar ‘farms’ is largely accounted for by urban areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the proposed ‘National Forest’, and the vast area north of Aberystwyth promised to the Summit to Sea ‘rewilders’.

But I can’t help wondering what’s planned for that area between the A5 and the A458, east of Dolgellau.

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Though I suppose the really big question is – who is going to benefit from this National Development Framework?

The individual beneficiaries will be landowners (often absentee), property developers like the U and I Group, and other English ‘investors’. Proving yet again that wind power is more about cashing in on the subsidies than with replacing fossil fuels.

But over and above the individual beneficiaries the National Development Framework is for the benefit of England.

Wind and solar farms won’t provide jobs for Welsh people. And we already produce far more electricity than we consume; yet as with water, we are not allowed to make a profit from what we export. (Though ‘our’ water and electricity can be sold back to us at over-the-odds prices.)

The National Development Framework allows Wales to be exploited as never before, but rather than standing up for Wales our current crop of politicians will rhapsodise over it.

Labour, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dems will bleat about Wales ‘making its contribution’ to ‘saving the planet’, etc., when, in reality, they’ll be turning our beautiful homeland into an al fresco power station. What isn’t covered by wind and solar farms will be retirement and recreation areas for England. Zimmer frames and zip wires.

Tory and Brexit parties will of course support anything that makes money for their pals in the financial sector . . . no matter how shady the deal, no matter how heavy the price Wales has to pay.

The Union with England has never worked to Wales’ advantage, but then, that was never the intention. Yet devolution, we were told, would provide ‘Welsh answers for Welsh problems’; but as Bryn Blaen, the National Development Framework, and countless other examples make clear, devolution is just a pitifully transparent veneer of ‘Welshness’ for continuing exploitation.

If we are to survive and progress as a nation it can only be done by prioritising our interests and focusing on independence without any distractions or self-imposed divisions. So let’s continue building momentum in 2020 on the broadest possible front.

♦ end ♦

 

M4 relief road

By now everyone’s aware of the decision announced last week by the ‘Welsh Government’ not to proceed with the planned M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks.

This decision that took most of us by surprise needs to be examined and certain ramifications and possibilities considered. For last week’s decision might have significance beyond a single road project.

ALL CHANGE?

When Carwyn Jones was First Minister it was understood that the relief road would go ahead. So for a start, the decision announced last week means that things have changed under his successor, Mark Drakeford.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of last week’s decision is that Mark Drakeford, and the ‘Welsh Government’, have gone against the wishes of their superiors in London. It’s impossible to over-stress that what happened last week was a form of insubordination.

For make no  mistake, London wanted this road. The Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales backed the plan, with inspector Bill Wardrup waxing lyrical about the relief road while being almost insultingly dismissive of alternatives.

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Our Secretary of State, Alun Cairns, that most London-loyal of individuals – and, we now learn, a Boris Johnson supporter – was “hugely disappointed” by the decision. It may have come as a bit of a shock to him, for Cairns knew long ago what the inspector’s recommendation was, and he probably expected the new management team in Cardiff docks to follow Compliant Carwyn’s lead and do as the inspector (and London) recommended.

click to enlarge

So maybe any consideration of this shock to the system political boils down to two questions:

  1. Why has Drakeford refused to do London’s bidding in this instance?
  2. Is this a one-off act of rebellion or does it herald a fundamental change of course for ‘Welsh’ Labour?

CUI BONO?

One possible explanation might lie in the fact that despite all the criticism of London-centricity, and the disproportionate amount of infrastructure spending in London and the south east of England, for two decades Wales has followed exactly the same course.

Because a curious feature of devolution is that those areas that voted against devolution in 1997 have been the areas to benefit most since 1999. Maybe this is related to the phenomenon that has seen successive Labour administrations in Cardiff Bay neglect those areas that vote Labour.

So, to be generous, this decision not to proceed with the M4 relief road might mark the beginning of attempts to ‘rebalance’ the Welsh economy.

Even if I’m being too generous there, on a purely financial level, it would have been difficult to justify expenditure of £1.5 bn (at the very least) in a country of just over 3 million people unless the benefits are widely enjoyed. That would obviously not have been the case with the M4 relief road, and further, expenditure on that project would mean fewer infrastructure projects elsewhere in the country.

It’s even being suggested that areas of England – notably Bristol – would have benefited more from an M4 relief road than areas of Wales just twenty or thirty miles away, such as the Heads of the Valleys.

This is how Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, put it in a couple of tweets.

click to enlarge

Weighing up cost and benefit, the M4 relief road would have meant the ‘Welsh Government’ borrowing a great deal of money for a project that at best would only benefit one corner of the country, and at worst, might have been of more benefit to adjacent areas of England.

On those grounds alone, no body claiming to be the ‘Welsh Government’, serving the whole of Wales, could have given the go-ahead for the M4 relief road.

But that consideration has never before stopped an administration in Cardiff Bay from pouring investment into the city at the expense of the rest of the country. So there may be other explanations.

THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE FOR ENGLANDANDWALES

Having mentioned the Planning Inspectorate this is a good time to remind you of the malign influence this agency has exerted over Wales.

In this example from March 2014 I wrote about the plan to expand Bodelwyddan and how it linked with the Local Development Plan (LDP) for Denbighshire. In this post we see how the Planning Inspectorate was forcing a Welsh local authority to allow housing greatly in excess of any local need.

And even after census findings made it clear that the county would need less new housing than had previously been anticipated, the Planning Inspector insisted on keeping to the now discredited figures:

The planning inspector’s response to Denbighshire arguing it needed less new housing than previously projected. Click to enlarge.

“Objects and aspirations” can only mean catering for an influx of new residents from outside of the county, and almost certainly from outside of Wales. Which means that in many cases the LDPs that have been forced on our local authorities by the Planning Inspectorate are ‘local’ only in the sense that they affect areas of Wales.

In Denbighshire, the northern part of the county lies within the A55 corridor, which is being developed as a linear commuter belt for north west England. The ‘Welsh Government’ will never admit this – in fact, it might not even be consulted – but others know, and are planning for it.

This map was produced by Lichfields (planning and development consultancy), it makes clear that there are three strategic planning areas in Wales, Two we know about, the third is never mentioned.

This is part of a wider and ongoing plan to integrate northern Wales into north west England. This 2019 report from Transport for the North makes the medium- to long-term planning clear, and it goes beyond a narrow corridor.

What’s being done here could be done without devolution – so what’s the point of having a ‘Welsh Government’ if it doesn’t live up to the name? Is devolution just a chimera, a smokescreen?

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Cross-border co-operation is one thing, and desirable, it happens all over the world; but it must be done on a basis of mutual respect with both sides benefiting. The map you see above is Englandandwales in operation. Anyone arguing otherwise would probably describe Tryweryn as a mutually-beneficial project.

Without labouring the point I hope you get the gist – the Planning Inspectorate has done a lot of damage to Wales over the years. Which explains why the agency’s relationship with the ‘Welsh Government’ has always been a source of confusion for Welsh politicians and others.

Taken from a ‘Welsh Government’ publication. Click to enlarge.

The truth is that the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales has a desk in Cardiff but takes its orders from London, with the ‘Welsh Government’ allowed to pretend it has some control.

The truth is driven home when we see an inspector adjudicating on a Welsh case one week and being in Yorkshire or Devon the following week. (Though of course, never in Scotland.)

It was no surprise then that the Planning Inspectorate wanted the M4 black route. Because that’s what London wanted.

Though if Mark Drakeford can see the problem with the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales then he must also be aware that this is only the tip of an iceberg. That ‘iceberg’ being the problem of ‘Welsh’ civil servants relaying orders from London. 

PLANNING FOR A WELSH FUTURE?

The fact that the ‘Welsh Government’ went against the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, its London masters, and a number of powerful lobby groups (perhaps even . . . whisper it – Deryn!), means that Mark Drakeford has really stuck his scruffy neck out.

Which leads me to suspect, or hope, that this decision might be about more than the explanations we’ve been given on cost and environment damage. There might be things bubbling below the surface that could prove to be more important in the medium term than the M4 decision itself.

First off, I am convinced that the M4 decision links with this announcement from a month ago that Wales will soon have its own planning inspectorate. Let’s look at what the article in The Planner says.

“Currently, the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales is responsible for making decisions and recommendations on planning-related land issues and appeals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Welsh Government fund it.

Based in Cardiff, the inspectorate’s Wales Division manages casework on planning and related applications and appeals, including developments of national significance. It examines local development plans, which set out land use planning policies and form the basis of local planning decisions, using a team of dedicated Welsh inspectors and administrators.

The new planning inspectorate for Wales is expected to be fully operational by the end of the current assembly term, which is May 2021.”

This move was explained by the ‘Welsh Government’ thus: “planning law and policy has diverged and continues to diverge at an accelerating rate from England”. Which makes a certain sense, but if that’s the real reason then policing, broadcasting and many other powers would also be fully devolved.

Though a cynic might suggest that Drakeford is launching the new agency because he’s burned his bridges with the Planning Inspectorate after giving them two fingers over such a high-profile project as the M4 relief road.

Whatever the reason, I’m hoping Drakeford and his cabinet want a separate Welsh planning inspectorate to do things differently in future and for the right reasons. Otherwise, why set up a new and separate agency?

IN CONCLUSION . . .

Does the dropping of the M4 relief road coupled with the announcement of the new planning inspectorate herald a change of direction for the ‘Welsh Government’?

The cynic in me thinks, ‘Nah, this leopard ain’t gonna change its spots, Jac. After twenty years of screwing up on devolution Labour’s only pretending to do things differently now because it’s slipping in the polls. Any change will be purely cosmetic.’

But then, the optimistic side to my nature (long dormant) asserts itself and says, ‘Wait! Maybe from now on they will put the interests of Wales and Welsh people first. Perhaps they’ll realise that there are communities within twenty miles of Corruption Bay approaching third world standards of deprivation. And that our rural areas need more than zip wires and granny farms. 

‘Perhaps it’ll mean no more insane legislation to encourage hippies, ‘rewilders’ and other enviroshysters; no more grants showered on multinationals’ branch factories and con men with ludicrous ‘projects’; no more red carpet treatment for exploitive ‘celebs’ such as Bore Grylls; no more funding and other encouragement for the third sector to import England’s problems so as to maintain thousands of unnecessary jobs with our money.

‘Maybe, at long last, Wales will be treated as a country, in which the interests of those who belong here are considered more important than kudos gained from playing to galleries that only seek to exploit and marginalise us. Perhaps our kids will be given a decent education to prepare them for better jobs than scurrying around an Amazon warehouse or desperately waiting for Easter in the hope of some low-wage tourism job.’

Over to you, Mark Drakeford.

♦ end ♦

 

Devolution as Prozac

But first . . .

A LESSON FROM HISTORY

Following victories over the Persians at Salamis (480 BC) and Plataea (479 BC), and with mainland Greece liberated, the Spartans withdrew from their leadership of the wartime alliance. Athens seized the opportunity and in 478 BC created the Delian League.

Athenian greed and heavy-handedness soon made the other city-states realise that what they’d thought was an alliance of equals was nothing of the kind. Everything now flowed to Athens and the other city-states were little more than colonies. The League’s treasury was used to enhance and glorify Athens, funding prestige projects such as the Parthenon.

Courtesy of Ancient History Encyclopedia

Eventually, the other city-states could take no more and rebelled. They appealed to Sparta for help and so began the Peloponnesian War, which ran, in three phases, from 431 BC to 404 BC. At the end of the war Athens was defeated and ruined, Thebes and Corinth even wanted to destroy the city and enslave its citizens, but Sparta said no.

The Peloponnesian War was bloody and destructive. Due to Athenian selfishness the other Greek states were even prepared to seek Persian help in bringing her down and ending the golden age of Greece.

Two news items this week have reminded me of Athens and the Delian League.

BACK TO THE 1960s

The first was that the ‘Welsh’ Government will not back the Circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale. This is something most of us knew weeks ago, it’s why announcing the decision was postponed until after the general election.

But don’t worry! Economy and Infrastructure Secretary, Ken Skates, softened the blow with: “The Welsh Government is therefore today committing to building a new automotive technology business park in Ebbw Vale, with funding of £100million over 10 years, with the potential to support 1,500 new FTE jobs. We will begin this work with the delivery of 40,000 sq ft of manufacturing space on land currently in public ownership.”

So the ‘Welsh’ Government kills off the Circuit of Wales yet still plans to build an ‘automotive technology park’ in Ebbw Vale. Apart from Ferrari’s Cafe what links does Ebbw Vale now have with the automotive industry? Or to put it another way, after 18 years of devolution and ‘Welsh’ Labour rule we’ve gone back to the 1960s with depressed areas offered nothing better than industrial parks. God Almighty!

But this saga may not be finished, for what if the scheme’s backers are able to find full private funding for the venture, will the ‘Welsh’ Government then support the Circuit of Wales or continue to be obstructive? I know where my money would go.

Let’s be absolutely clear: The Circuit of Wales was not supported by the ‘Welsh’ Government because Ebbw Vale is too far from Cardiff and the project didn’t offer enough benefits to Cardiff.

MAJOR TRAUMA

The nearest major trauma centres to Wales are in Liverpool, Stoke, Birmingham and Bristol. Some time ago the decision was taken that south Wales should have its own trauma centre. The two candidate sites were Morriston Hospital in Swansea and the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

On Wednesday we learnt that some anonymous panel had recommended that the MTC  should be located in Cardiff . . . despite Cardiff being so near to the existing centre in Bristol.

The centres in England are located where they are for the very good reason that patients suffering serious injury or sudden and serious debilitation benefit greatly from being treated within the first hour; in fact, it’s a matter of life or death. This period is referred to as the ‘golden hour’.

The maps (kindly supplied by BBC Wales) below show the ‘golden hour’ distances from those Major Trauma Centres closest to Wales together with the predicted ‘golden hour’ ranges for MTCs located in Cardiff and Swansea.

The first map, for existing MTCs, tells us that Cardiff and Newport are already within the ‘golden hour’ for the Bristol MTC, while anywhere west of Bridgend is not covered.

Turning to the second map, the Cardiff option, we see a slight improvement, in that Swansea Bay is now covered by the ‘golden hour’, but not western Gower, nor, I suspect, Llanelli. What’s more, rather than complementing the Bristol MTC to form a network of coverage – as we see in England – a Cardiff MTC would almost be in competition with Bristol. The overlap is huge.

The Swansea option, however, provides a real improvement, with the ‘golden hour’ now extending deep into Pembrokeshire and reaching the Cardigan Bay coastline. The ranges of the Swansea and Bristol MTCs overlap around Cardiff and Newport, but they don’t duplicate each other to anything like the same extent as the Cardiff option. Swansea and Bristol would complement each other perfectly.

Of course it’s being argued that, ‘Cardiff has this, and Cardiff has that’, to justify a MTC, but anything can be built or transferred. What cannot be changed is geography, and the critical and determining criterion for locating the Major Trauma Centre should be saving lives in the ‘golden hour’. You cannot emphasise the golden hour all the way through the process and then ignore it in order to locate the MTC in Cardiff.

To put a large area of the south west outside the ‘golden hour’ through handing Cardiff yet another prestige project – for that’s how it’s viewed in Cardiff – will be a difficult decision for politicians to defend.

The role of the ‘Welsh’ media in this debate has been somewhat bizarre, though predictable. On Wednesday WalesOnline ran this story. Putting the case for Swansea was Rob Stewart, leader of Swansea council. (Though the story was quickly updated and for some reason Stewart was replaced with Clive Lloyd, his deputy!)

Putting the case for Cardiff – which is what I assume he was doing – was a ‘speed flyer’ named Niall McCann. (Though by the time the story appeared this morning in Llais y Sais McCann’s contribution had disappeared.)

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McCann had shattered his spine speed flying off Pen y Fan and it had been put together by the University Hospital of Wales. McCann opined, “I’m 100% on board with anything that will improve the NHS services on offer. We are a capital city and we should be leading the way in Wales.”

So in the expert opinion of Niall McCann of Cardiff the new MTC should be in Cardiff, ‘Cos Cardiff’s the capital, innit?’ For reasons best known to itself WalesOnline even included in the article a video of McCann speed flying to remind us of the unnecessary risks he takes.

Perhaps the message we were expected to glean from this article was that having injured himself on the Beacons McCann would have been dead or crippled ere the donkey carrying him could have reached an MTC based at Morriston Hospital. If not, then I have no idea what purpose Trinity Mirror thought it was serving by including McCann’s cameo.

Then on Thursday, the BBC rubbed it in with a story headlined “Swansea ’10 to 15 years behind Cardiff’, think tank says”. Obviously unsuited to have a Major Trauma Centre.

TIME TO RETRACE OUR STEPS

But the problems of Wales today go beyond putting all the nation’s eggs in the Cardiff basket, they reach into every corner of our national life. Just look around you and ask what 18 years of devolution have achieved. Go on, and be honest!

Wales is poorer relative to other parts of the state, and other parts of Europe, than she was before we voted for devolution. Outside of Cardiff our urban and post-industrial areas are suffering managed decline, while our rural and coastal areas serve as recreation and retirement areas for England, with the Welsh population, and their identity, marginalised in both situations.

We have a self-styled Labour ‘Government’ in Cardiff docks that refuses to use even the limited powers it has for fear of upsetting anyone in London – including its own MPs and peers! Competing with Labour we have a Conservative Party currently in league with the Orange Order and the UDA, and a ‘national party’ that is, as Martin Shipton described it this morning, “a pressure group”. (And it’s not often I agree with Shippo!) Though it’s questionable whether Plaid Cymru really is challenging Labour.

‘Ah, but we’ve got devolution now, it’s something to build on’, I hear, from those who are in reality satisfied with this simulacrum of self-government, where free suppositories or some such nonsense qualify as radical initiatives. So who’s going to do the ‘building’? We know it won’t be Labour. It will never be the Conservative and Unionist Party. And there’s not a hope in hell of it being the pressure group.

Devolution has delivered a comfortable and undemanding level for ambitious councillors. To serve these politicians we now have a burgeoning and expensive bureaucracy. Because the party in control is Labour devolution has resulted in a vast and corrupt Third Sector sucking up billions of pounds to keep otherwise unemployable Labour supporters in jobs.

Yet we have no media to hold this juggernaut to account. (Though it’s debatable which is worse – the absence of a Welsh media or the constant bigotry exposed in the English media.) There is no real oversight or control of expenditure, and no justice for anyone wronged by this system. Yet if you investigate ‘devolution’ in any depth you soon realise what a sham it is.

For example, the ‘Welsh’ Government pretends it has its own Planning Inspectorate. The truth is that the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales answers to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London, it merely has a branch office in Cardiff. Which means that the Local Development Plans for Welsh local authorities are determined in London . . . and the ‘Welsh’ Government goes along with the charade!

P.S. Soon after publishing this post my attention was drawn to a perfect example of the ‘Welsh’ Government’s relationship with the Planning Inspectorate. This development at Llay is part of a wider strategy to turn our north east into commuter territory for north west England. And Carwyn Jones knows it.

The ‘Welsh’ Government and the whole apparatus of devolution soaks up money that could be better spent in Wales, and might be better spent if the useless edifice was swept away. Which is why I plan to start a petition to the UK Parliament asking for a referendum to be held to determine whether we should keep the Welsh Assembly and all that goes with it. (This will be done once a new Petitions Committee is formed.)

Yes, I know such a petition will attract Kippers and other BritNats, but I don’t care, there are bigger issues at stake. On almost every issue that matters we are still ruled from London anyway – so what do we stand to lose? Devolution is used to hide this fact, and to make us believe that we control our own affairs. It acts like some national dose of Prozac.

When you’ve taken a wrong turning you have two choices: either plod on until you fall off a cliff or sink in a bog, or else admit you made a mistake, retrace your steps, and next time make sure you know where you want to go.

Devolution was a wrong turning.

♦ end ♦

Regional Parties for the National Good

This post re-visits a subject I dealt with in September 2012. (Unfortunately, the original comments and other features were lost when Google pulled the plug on my earAssembly elections maplier blog in December 2012. See sidebar) The reason I am returning to the subject is that, on the one hand, there has been no change for the better, yet on the other hand, there has been a change for the worse. Put it together and it gives a stronger case in 2015 for regional parties than when I originally mooted the idea almost three years ago.

There are a number of reasons for promoting the case for regional parties standing in the ‘Welsh’ Assembly elections of 2016. I try to deal with them in the various sections below. The map on the right will help you understand the boundaries, click on it to enlarge it.

1. SHAM DEVOLUTION

The first of those reasons is one that I dealt with back in 2012, namely that devolution is a sham. Wales is more firmly under England’s control than ever, but now it’s done through civil servants taking orders from London yet doubling as ‘advisors’ to the self-deluding ‘ministers’ of the ‘Welsh’ Government. In reality, of course, these civil servants / advisors are relaying orders. It is a charade of the kind we would have found in the old East Germany, or any country run by a regime reliant on US support.

Among the many agencies of this sham devolution I have dealt with, one that has received more attention than most, is the Planning Inspectorate. (To find the many articles I have written on the subject type ‘Planning Inspectorate’ in the Search box at the top of the sidebar.) It is this agency that facilitates the colonisation of Wales with its bullying of our local councillors (or working with alien and eager senior officers), justifying building new homes we don’t need with ludicrously inflated population ‘projections’, or reduced household (size) estimates.Thickett Planing Resource

To keep up the pretence of ‘devolution’ the Planning Inspectorate maintains an office in Cardiff, it even has a few Welsh planning inspectors, but this is all window-dressing. As we saw with the review of the Local Development Plan for Denbighshire. Two inspectors were involved in assessing the protests of the local council, which argued that the 2011 census showed the county did not need the number of new homes the Planning Inspectorate had demanded. Read about it here.

The two inspectors involved in the ‘assessment’ of March 2014 were Anthony Thickett (see panel) and Gwynedd Thomas. Within a few months Thickett was appointed chief inspector for the Wales region of the Planning Inspectorate. Poor old Gwynedd Thomas was there just to add a little local colour, in the hope of disguising that this was part of the colonisation process, and all determined in London.

It doesn’t matter how we look at, What we have in Wales is a system designed to frustrate Welsh ambitions rather than satisfy them. It is a system of devolution for the benefit of England. And this explains why the ‘Welsh’ Government can do nothing to serve Welsh interests if that might work against English interests, yet agencies like the Planning Inspectorate are daily working in England’s interests against Wales.

The ‘Welsh’ Government is, like poor Gwynedd Thomas, nothing more than a fig leaf for this colonialist reality; it’s only real power lies in being able to distribute funding handed down to it. Yet far too much of this money currently goes to Cardiff or to Labour’s cronies and hangers-on in our irredeemably corrupt Third Sector.

2. THE ‘WELSH’ LABOUR PARTY

Sham devolution of course needs willing participants in the country being flim-flammed, and this is where the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party comes into the picture. Over many, many years I have made my feelings known on this, the most corrupt political party in the Western world, but if anyone is still in any doubt as to the nature of the beast, then let them read Why I Detest the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party, The ‘Welsh’ Labour Party and its Evil Empire, Merthyr: All Aboard the ‘Welsh’ Labour Gravy Train, or more recently, ‘Welsh’ Labour and Social Enterprises – All Fall Down!.

It is the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party that, for sixteen years, has fronted the colonialist system of sham devolution I just mentioned. This explains why the only time we see the self-styled First Minister on UK-wide television is when he’s proving how loyal we Welsh are despite devolution (which for some reason, still worries many English!). Such as welcoming Bet Windsor to Wales, or spouting BritNat bollocks during last year’s Scottish independence referendum campaign. The man is an embarrassment to all right-thinking Welsh.

One feature of this sham devolution is the growth of Cardiff, due to it serving as the ‘capital’, and because so much of the colonial bureaucracy is centred there. Though this can have a damaging effect on other areas.

I travel around Wales much more than most people, and one thing that strikes me whether I’m in Llandudno, Newtown or Haverfordwest is that on any contract connected with or funded by an agency based in Cardiff, the hoardings tell me that the estate agent dealing with the sale or, in the case of a new project, the company that drew up the plans and others, will also be found in Cardiff. Suggesting to me that companies based in Cardiff have an unfair advantage when it comes to these civil servants drawing up lists of ‘approved’ estate agents, contractors, architects, and others, or else we dealing with a form of favouritism that comes close to corruption. But this Cardiff bias can take other forms.

A Puppet Regime

I am indebted to a correspondent in regular contact with the aforementioned civil servants for a recent example of the way Cardiff is favoured above other areas. Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Among the provisions of the Act is a new register of private landlords. This work – and the jobs it will generate – has been allocated to Cardiff City Council, without any tendering process. Why should the richest area of Wales be gifted yet more jobs when this work could have been done by any local authority? And who made the decision?

Though an irony in this situation is that even the Conservative and Unionist Party, the party of the City and big business, has finally conceded that England has an economic imbalance, with too much of the country’s wealth and power accumulated in London and the south east. Hence the talk of investing hundreds of billions of pounds in HS2 and Northern ‘Powerhouses’. Yet here in Wales, we are replicating the system England is now seeking to remedy!

3. PLAID CYMRU

My feelings on Plaid are equally well documented. I suppose Plaid Cymru: Ninety Wasted Years, from October last year, sums it up as well as anything I’ve written, but use the Search box atop the sidebar to find other posts. Nothing has improved since I wrote that piece. In this year’s General Election Plaid Cymru again performed miserably, dealt with in Election 2015: Plaid Cymru Fails, Again.

And from all quarters comes news that that Plaid Cymru continues to be the most impotent ‘national’ party in Europe, afraid of upsetting anyone. Here’s one recent example that says it pretty well.

Followers of Welsh public life will be aware of a growing problem in local government that sees senior officers take over the running of certain councils. Nowhere has this trend been more apparent than in Carmarthenshire, where the council has for some years been run by the chief executive, Mark James, with the approval of the leaders of the parties in coalition there, Labour and ‘Independents’. But recently, after a change of leadership in the local Labour Party, there was a falling-out between the former love-birds and Independent leader Meryl Gravel began smooching Plaid Cymru, which resulted in a new coalition between the two.

With Plaid Cymru the larger of the parties, and Plaid’s Emlyn Dole named council leader in May, most people expected things to change in Carmarthenshire but that, alas, has not happened. It appears to be business as before, as this little cameo, received from a reliable source, illustrates.

The trade union Unison, ” . . . had to wait 2 months to get a meeting with Dole. There were a number of items on the agenda (employment issues and the council’s plans for publicly owned assets such as Parc Howard in Llanelli). To Unison’s surprise, waiting to greet them in Dole’s office was Mark James, although the union had asked for a private meeting with the leader. The meeting did not go well.”

Emlyn Dole’s submission to The Ultimate Authority may be connected with his little ‘difficulty’, for Plaid’s leader in the seat where Gwynfor Evans won that famous 1966 victory has been caught flouting planning regulations. But never mind, for Plaid Cymru has not forgotten its primary role – sticking up for Labour. As I reminded people in my June 28th post Vote Plaid Cymru – Get Labour’, and as Plaid itself continues to remind us.

Just last Saturday, at the commemoration of the 1911 Llanelli Riots, local Labour MP Nia Griffith was getting a bit of stick from some in the crowd for making a big noise about the Tories’ austerity measures but neglecting to inform her listeners that she had abstained when presented with the chance to show her ‘opposition’ in the House of Commons vote a few weeks ago. Who rode to her rescue? Helen Mary Jones, the Plaid candidate for Llanelli in next year’s Assembly election, and Vaughan Williams, who failed so miserably to win the seat in May this year.

Plaid Cymru is now more of an asset to England than to Wales. From England’s perspective Plaid Cymru is the perfect ‘in-our-pocket’ regional party. That’s because it can still attract the votes of many who want independence / greater devolution, or who care about Welsh cultural identity, but for all sorts of reasons Plaid Cymru will never get more than 25% of the vote, even in the most favourable circumstances, yet – in the absence of an alternative – it can still be presented as ‘the Welsh nationalist party’.

If there was any danger of Plaid Cymru collapsing, perhaps due to the emergence of that alternative national party, then it would be in our masters’ interests to keep Plaid Cymru alive. It may already be happening.

4. UKIP

Finally we come to perhaps the major difference today from the situation prevailing when I wrote the earlier piece on regional parties back in December 2012. Then there was a perception that Ukip, being primarily an anti-EU party, would do well in European elections, but only European elections.

The General Election earlier this year taught us the fallacy of that belief as we saw the Ukip vote in Wales reach 13.6%, and in so doing exceed the Plaid Cymru share of the vote. But this increase in Ukip vote has been aided by the collapse of the Liberal Democrats and a weakening of the Labour Party, which was of course almost wiped out in Scotland. To help you understand how things have changed I’ve compiled a table showing the vote shares for the major parties in Wales over the five most recent elections. (The two figures shown for 2011 represent the constituency vote and the regional vote.)

Share of vote

The Labour Party is in turmoil and, as I write this, looking likely to elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader; the Lib Dems are unlikely to recover any time soon, if ever; and Plaid Cymru seems doomed to a slow, lingering death. Few of those turning away from Labour and Lib Dems find Plaid Cymru attractive (hardly surprising seeing as long-time Plaid Cymru voters are deserting the party), and while some of those abandoning Labour, Lib Dems and Plaid will simply not vote, many will turn to the Tories or Ukip.

One thing’s for sure, Labour will definitely not have a majority after next year’s election, and may have difficulty forming a coalition with Plaid Cymru and / or Liberal Democrats. Taking us into uncharted territory, but also presenting great opportunities.

REGIONAL PARTIES

Regional parties contesting regional list seats are the only possible way to address the various problems listed above, the only way to ensure a more equitable Wales in which Labour is not completely dominant, with the added advantage of checking the advance of Ukip.

We can be sure that Ukip will view the list for the north as one its best hopes of winning Assembly seats, especially with the party’s local hetman, Nathan Gill MEP, being domiciled on Ynys Môn. So the first regional party I want to propose is for the north. Yes, I can already hear people asking, ‘What does Arfon have in common with Deeside?’ Short answer would be that across the north you will hear, ‘Everything is down south’. This will be Ukip’s message next year to northern voters. It can also be Strategic Development Plans 2the message of an alliance made up of people with roots in northern Wales, committed to serving the area, and hopefully objecting to the A55 corridor becoming a planned commuter belt. Because we can be sure Ukip won’t object! Neither will the other parties. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Another area where Ukip did well in 2014 and again this year is the Valleys. While the elected leaders in the region seem happy to surrender to Cardiff’s city state ambitions I’m sure there are many others in the Valleys who believe their towns and villages deserve better than a future as dormitory communities. This could be one message for a Valleys grouping. Another message for Labour could be, ‘Instead of using EU and other funding to help your cronies capitalise on our deprivation, use it to help us and our communities – the reason the EU gave it to us’.

The third region is obviously the Swansea Bay conurbation.

What I am suggesting is not formal political parties in the accepted sense. I am arguing for ad hoc regional groups with no ambitions beyond using their voice to demand fair shares for all, something that could perhaps be monitored by publishing regular figures for public spending and jobs created in each region. Because as I say, the only real power in this system of sham devolution is the power to divvy up the hand-outs. Which means that going down to Cardiff docks to play politics, to pretend that it’s a real parliament, is a waste of time. Focus on the money.

The suggestion of regional parties has both greater urgency and greater potential now than when I first mooted the subject because of the decline of three parties and the unattractiveness of those likely to gain from that decline. (And here I include the Greens.) I further predict that regional parties would get support from some of those who would not otherwise vote next year. And there’s guaranteed publicity in the interest that can be predicted from the local media.

To gather enough like-minded individuals in order to compile a raft of regional list candidates should be relatively easy, there’s no great expense involved, and for just nine months of work the rewards could be great. And with Welsh politics in a state of flux not seen in living memory, who knows where it might lead? And if that doesn’t persuade you, then do you really want to vote for any of the failed parties, or the unattractive alternatives I’ve dealt with here?

Sham Devolution + Puppet Regime = Assimilation

In recent years I have published many posts arguing that devolution is a sham. That’s because Wales is run by departments of the UK government in London. Decisions made by these departments are then implemented by civil servants based in Wales. These civil servants are, invariably, ‘advisers’ to  ‘Welsh Ministers’, but the true relationship is more like puppeteer and puppet.

A perfect example, and one that I have dealt with more than once, is the Planning Inspectorate. We are asked to believe that Wales has its own Planning Inspectorate, based in Cardiff, answering to the ‘Welsh’ Government. The truth is that the Planning Inspectorate, responsible for forcing Planning Inspectoratetens of thousands of unneeded new dwellings on Welsh local authorities (in order to encourage English colonisation) is part of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London, with a branch office in Cardiff. The Planning Inspectorate takes orders from London; and gives orders to Cardiff.

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This situation of Wales being run by civil servants on behalf of the London government has been in place as long as we’ve had devolution. Usually it just rumbles along in the background, unnoticed, but recently Wales has seen two very important pieces of legislation that have exposed this system as never before.

One new law is the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Now while this legislation plays to the gallery with tough talk on private landlords, protecting vulnerable tenants, etc., these are distractions from the real purpose of the Bill, which is to confirm beyond any lingering doubt that social housing in Wales is now part of an Englandandwales system. Which means that someone who qualifies for social housing anywhere in England can be allocated a property in Wales. A policy so insidious and damaging that housing associations, especially in rural areas, are now building and buying properties – with Welsh public funding – for which there is no local demand!

The Housing (Wales) Act contains thirty-nine references to ‘England’ By comparison, the Housing (Scotland) Bill has not one. Though absent from the Welsh Bill is any reference to the Welsh language, providing further proof that this is ‘Welsh’ legislation designed to serve England’s interests, as is so much else done by the ‘Welsh’ Government.

Such as the funding that has gone into the Deeside Industrial Park, that runs almost up to the border, providing jobs for north west England and keeping the resultant mess, noise and traffic out of leafy Cheshire. Then there’s our failing NHS, especially in the north, which the UK prime minister and local Tory politicians have capitalised on, yet only a ‘racist’ would make the obvious connection between a failing health service and many tens of thousands of elderly English people moving into the affected region.

And the impression given that Wales is doing things differently, being tougher on private landlords, is just so much flim-flam, as I discovered a couple of days ago when making enquiries about the regulation of private landlords. Here’s the link, but the screen capture below makes it clear enough that – despite the Housing (Wales) Act – England and Wales are covered by the same legislation, but not Scotland.

Private Landlords

The second piece of legislation worth highlighting is the Planning (Wales) Bill. This again was designed to bring Wales into line with England. As was made clear by the (now defunct) Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) in its December 2013 Newsletter. Unfortunately the link provided in the newsletter is no longer working, so I can’t offer it to you, but among the things it said was ” . . . many of the proposed reforms resonate with those introduced in England.” And later, “Again reflecting change in England . . . “.

As might be expected, in its original form, this legislation also neglected to take any account of the Welsh language. That’s because, as with the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, it is English legislation, drawn up by English civil servants, for England, who neither understand nor care about Wales, who then stick ‘(Wales)’ in the title and tell some ‘Welsh Minister’ to run with  it.

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Those clowns down Cardiff docks masquerading as the ‘Welsh’ Government must know what’s going on, this explains why so many of them are reluctant to give interviews to explain or defend the legislation they’ve announced – they don’t understand it, and they don’t understand it because they had no input to it. But in return they are allowed – perhaps even encouraged – to introduce pet schemes for the sole purpose of giving the impression they’re in charge.Puppet regime

For who can forget the rejoicing – and the global media attention – that attended the abolition of ferret licences back in 2006. While the Zeppelin service between Penclawdd and Amlwch that took off in 2010 was universally welcomed . . . especially in Penclawdd and Amlwch. Now I hear that next year, just before the election, our ‘Welsh’ Government plans to bring in a vote-winning policy of free toothbrushes for the over 90s. Verily! our cup runneth over.

OK, so I’m taking the piss, but it’s publicity-grabbing and largely valueless legislation such as free prescriptions that the ‘Welsh’ Government is allowed to introduce as a reward for acting as puppets. These ‘giveaways’ are then used to distract us from the more weighty English legislation with ‘(Wales)’ in the name that is constantly being pushed through by civil servants of whom we know nothing.

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To conclude . . . The post-devolution era sees a regular stream of England-only legislation in areas that have been ‘devolved’. What happens is, that after a decent interval, and in the interests of an undeclared policy of ‘harmonisation’, this England-only legislation is re-packaged with ‘(Wales)’ in the name and passes through the Assembly. To disguise what’s being done the re-packaged law may differ in a few minor details, but never in anything of substance. End result? The same laws in both countries for the convenience of the Planning Inspectorate and countless other Englandandwales organisations.

After sixteen years of devolution it is clear that Wales is not allowed to have separate legislation that is meaningfully different to England’s unless the ‘Welsh’ law actually benefits England. This is the sham of devolution, the polar opposite to what it was promised devolution would deliver, and it explains how ‘devolution’ is helping assimilate Wales into England more effectively than the Fraser Welshpre-devolution system, for now it’s easier to introduce Wales-specific laws to achieve that assimilation. With the added attraction that because these laws have ‘(Wales)’ in the name too many people are misled into believing they’re designed to serve Welsh interests.

And yet if you think about it, there should be nothing here to surprise anyone. Since the introduction of this non-devolution, implementing the ethnocidal planning policies of a non-existent ‘Welsh’ Planning Inspectorate, the Notional Assembly has been under the control of the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party. So we have a sham devolution run by a fake party, for a country that will soon exist nowhere outside of our imaginations.

Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon

My attention was drawn yesterday to a piece in the Sunday Telegraph, by Emily Gosden the Energy Editor, about the proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. (Read it here.) The ST piece itself did little more than quote from a report, ‘Response to call for evidence on Swansea Bay tidal lagoon proposals’ produced by Citizens Advice and submitted to an unnamed agency, presumably a UK government department tSwansea Bay 1hat had requested submissions, possibly the Planning Inspectorate. (Read it here.) A similar piece, attributed to ‘Rupert Denholm-Hall Business Reporter’, was in this morning’s issue of Llais y Sais, and WalesOnline. (To be found here.)

According to Citizens Advice, the price guaranteed – by the UK government – for electricity generated by the Swansea Bay installation will be higher than other forms of generation and is therefore a bad deal for the consumer. In addition, alleges Citizens Advice, the process for arriving at the agreed price is unduly secretive. All damning stuff from experts in the field. For the alternative interpretation, check out the developers’ – Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) plc – website here, pay particular attention to the ‘Project benefits’ section. Now I’m going to make a few contributions of my own in response to Citizens Advice.

Swansea Bay 2The Citizens Advice report is very narrow in its vision, and simplistic and superficial in its conclusions. It says, basically, ‘This is big business ripping off Joe Public when there are cheaper ways of generating electricity’. It focuses exclusively on price. So my first response would be that this price is not set in stone, so don’t get your knickers in a twist over something that hasn’t yet happened and can be changed. If this is a ploy to pressurise the UK government into hard bargaining with the developers, then fine, though my worry is that Citizens Advice may be acting in the interest of discredited forms of electricity generation such as wind and solar: expensive, unreliable, and offering none of the benefits of a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay. Benefits that the Sunday Telegraph overlooked, but I would have expected to be highlighted by the ‘National Newspaper of Wales’.

So what are these benefits’ of which I speak? Well, to begin with, let’s us look at the alternatives. Oil supplies are finite, as is gas (unless we rely on Mr Putin, and successors who may be even more unfriendly towards the West), Swansea Bay 3many people are unhappy with nuclear energy, there is opposition to fracking, coal is being phased out, wind and solar energy are expensive and unreliable . . . which leaves us with, what? Well, there is a reliable source of energy that can – unlike wind and sunshine – be predicted years in advance and harnessed at countless points around our coasts. Swansea Bay is ideally located because it has the second highest tidal range on earth – so why not harness this power?

Then, the lagoon is going to be a big contract, providing over a thousand jobs during construction, using local suppliers, and putting a lot of money into the local economy. There will even be permanent jobs, on site, when the contract is completed. This is a direct benefit of the kind that is never provided by wind and solar ‘farms’. As this is a relatively new technology Swansea Bay could build up a wealth of expertise, both human and corporate, that could bring considerable economic benefits to an area where they would be most welcome. Benefits that need not be confined to Swansea Bay.

Swansea Bay SA1
SA1 DEVELOPMENT, EAST OF RIVER TAWE

Staying local, the lagoon fits in well with other developments on Swansea’s hitherto neglected East Side and the docklands east of the river Tawe, while further infilling the gap between Swansea and Neath Port Talbot (the most obvious of all council mergers). Not only does it complement the SA1 development (see image) but the lagoon will also reach to the new Swansea University Bay Campus, which actually lies outside the city boundary in Neath Port Talbot.

As the images also show, the lagoon will be rather more than a generating plant. It will be an amenity for local people, where they can go walking, cycling, angling, etc; the lagoon itself would provide a perfect location for water sports. (Obviously the lagoon will have to compete with all the fun-filled leisure opportunities available at power stations, open-cast sites and wind farms, but I think it will manage such competition.) And those amenities will not just be for local people, for I can see the lagoon becoming something of a ‘celebrity’, attracting visitors from a wider area, and from around the world. In fact, the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon could be viewed as a leisure and recreation facility that just happens to generate a lot of electricity as well!

Swansea Bay Campus
SWANSEA UNIVERSITY BAY CAMPUS (FOREGROUND) WITH SA1 DEVELOPMENT IN BACKGROUND

And who’s to say that the lagoon won’t become known to a wider audience who may never even visit the area. For Swansea Bay has a growing reputation as a location for movies and television series. The old Ford plant on Jersey Marine, which would overlook the lagoon, is now being used as a studio, and the steelworks in Port Talbot are an old favourite for ‘inferno’ backdrops and dramatic night skies. Then there’s Gower . . . Yes, Swansea Bay is more than Twin Town, great though that movie was.

Finally, despite what Citizens Advice would have us believe, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is not entirely a conspiracy of big business against the downtrodden masses of energy consumers. The project invited local investors, and I have family and friends back home who have put in thousands of pounds. Obviously most of the funding will come from institutional investors, but don’t overlook the Jack pound. A lot of local people, of modest means, are also backing this project.

For these reasons I tell Citizens Advice to report the whole picture, not focus on one aspect and, by so doing give a very selective and prejudicial view, that risks creating the impression that the project is being slammed in order to promote discredited hippy technology or the Severn Barrage. I’m sick and tired of Wales being ordered by Englandandwales organisations, however worthy and well-intentioned.

And to those running parent company Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd I say, having your corporate headquarters in Gloucester, with subsidiaries such as Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) plc being no more than parentheses is a big mistake. The project upon which the future of your company hangs is Swansea Bay, so stop acting in a colonialist manner and get your corporate presence down there and recruit local staff!

No Business Like Show Business

I am indebted to Gruff Meredith of Sovereign Wales for forwarding me a letter he received from the ‘Welsh’ Government. (Below right, click to enlarge.) A letter signed by Carl Sargeant, ‘Minister for Housing and Regeneration’, and addressed to William Powell, the Lib Dem chairman of the Assembly Petitions Committee. It relates to a petition submitted by Gruff asking the ‘Welsh’ Government to introduce a deposit loan scheme for local first-time buyers, which would of course necessitate local occupancy regulations.Sargeant letter

There is nothing revolutionary about local occupancy schemes, such schemes already operate in, among other areas, the Peak District and North York Moors National Parks in England. (Click on images below to enlarge.) The wider problem here is of course one I’ve dealt with many times before – the difficulty Welsh people experience in buying a home in rural and coastal areas suffering from coloniotourism and the resultant colonisation.

You’ll notice that I’ve highlighted two sections. The first refers to ” . . . an under-supply of properties across the UK”. But should this be the concern of a ‘Welsh’ Minister, whose role is restricted to Wales? It can only be of relevance if Wales is tied in to an Englandandwales planning and housing system with Wales being used to help meet England’s demand for housing. Which of course it is, as I have pointed out many times. For not only is the Planning Inspectorate an agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London but other civil servants based in Wales answer to this and other UK government departments. We can be ‘bet-your-house-on-it’ certain that the civil servant who wrote this letter for Sargeant to sign answers to London. Which of course, makes Sargeant an expensive irrelevance . . . as are the others down Cardiff docks, all of them mouthpieces for scriptwriters up in London and their stage managers in Wales.

Peak Districy local occupancyLocal occupancy North York Moors

 

 

 

But you mustn’t think that this ‘make-it-as-difficult-as-possible-for-the-Welsh’ system applies only to the open or private housing market, for it also extends to social housing. This was made clear to me just before Christmas 2010 in an e-mail from Nick Bennett, then chief executive of Community Housing Cymru, who wrote: “There are over two million people on waiting lists for social housing . . . “. Not in Wales, matey! Bennett is a former business associate of recently-resigned minister, Alun Davies, and is now Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. (Click here and scroll down for more information.) This explains why housing associations – sucking up Welsh public funding in order to provide work for English companies – either build more housing than is locally needed, or else allocate properties to English undesirables while locals are left on waiting lists. (Click here and scroll down to the section, ‘Cartrtefi Cymunedol Gwynedd’.)

The second passage I’ve highlighted in the letter signed by Sargeant reads: ” . . . however I would be very keen to hear his (Gruff Meredith’s) views on housing supply and barriers to development in Wales”. What ‘barriers to development’! There are none. Is this an attempt at humour, even sarcasm?

To sum up, local occupancy clauses could easily be introduced, as they have been in many parts of England, but the ‘Welsh’ Government refuses to do so, which means that the ‘Welsh’ Government is refusing to serve the best interests of the people it is elected to represent. Though when we remember that Wales is actually run, via civil servants, from London, then this refusal to help Welsh people have homes in their own country is easily explained by ‘London’ wishing to facilitate further English colonisation.

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The overarching issue here, and on which I have regularly written, is that no matter what those mummers down Cardiff docks may like to think of themselves, and despite the image projected to a gullible public, they are powerless, because devolution is a sham, real power still rests with London, just as it did pre-1999. There are examples a-plenty.

Having mentioned Alun Davies, let’s take a look at this video (F/F to 2:04) of a presentation he made before losing his job as ‘Minister for Agriculture’. The background is that someone in London decided to transfer 15% of EU agricultural funding allocated to Wales from Pillar 1, which goes to Welsh farmers, to Pillar 2, which will be spent on the vague and all-encompassing description of “rural development projects”. Which in practice means it will be allocated to Greens, hippies and other pushy colonists to fund ludicrous ‘projects’ that will be little more than non-jobs for those involved. Basically, the Third Sector goes rural. As I say, the sap who had to deliver London’s decision was Alun Davies. Note in the video how he is flanked by two English civil servants, there to make sure he doesn’t fluff his lines or deviate from the script, reminiscent of a Stalin show trial. This is one of the saddest cameos from the era of phoney devolution.

Or how about the M4 relief road? It seems that a carefully-orchestrated clamour arose demanding a new £1bn motorway around Newport, but how was it to be funded? Answer: the London Government would allow its provincial repertory company to borrow the money. To translate . . . the Old Etonians in London told Carwyn Jones he could borrow a billion pounds from their chums in the City of London on condition he gives out construction contracts to major donors to the Conservative Party for a project that, when completed, will faciliate the easier flow of English goods into the richest corner of Wales. In fact, on a visit to London, and in a bout of uncharacteristic extemporaneity Jones had told his scriptwriters that if he wasn’t allowed to get Wales into debt . . . well, he wouldn’t go up to Scotland to line up with the Nazi-Loyalists and others. And lo, it came to pass . . .

M4-relief-road2

The one given credit for overseeing the process and approving the £1bn ‘black’ route is Edwina Hart who, in the current line-up, plays the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, a role for a mature and rounded character actor. Though odd, in a way, that a country with little in the way of economy, science or transport should need such a part at all. But there you are, this is showbiz not real politics. Hart is said to be reluctant to give live interviews, or to defend her decisions, but chwarae teg, that’s asking her to explain what she had no part in deciding. Making it perfectly understandable why she should choose to emulate the great Garbo. (In fact, the rest of the cast could do a lot worse than follow her example when off-stage.)

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Having begun this piece with Carl Sargeant it’s only fair to bring down the curtain with something else he put his name to in January this year. (For those with the stomach for it, the full, three-page letter can be found here.) In this letter Sargeant, who plays the ‘heavy’ in London’s Welsh provincial repertory company, tries to explain the relationship between the ‘Welsh’ Government and the Planning Inspectorate. It is the biggest load of bollocks I’ve read, and believe me, I’ve read some bollocks in my time. Despite that, it also very revealing.

Sargeant Planning Inspectorate

Many times I have read it argued that there are two Planning Inspectorates, one serving England, one serving Wales, with the latter having its own office in Cardiff and answering to ‘Welsh Ministers’. This letter makes it clear there is but one Planning Inspectorate, though we are asked to believe that it has been “. . . empowered by Welsh Ministers to take a range of decisions on their behalf”. But how can those with no power themselves empower others? What this really says is that for the purposes of the Planning Inspectorate Wales is part of England. To disguise this, and allow the troupe of players known as the ‘Welsh Ministers’ to retain some credibility, it allows them the fig leaf of pretending it has been empowered to operate in Wales by them. I also love the second sentence in the extracted paragraph, an encomium for the Planning Inspectorate . . . “openness and impartiality” be buggered!

To disguise the ugly reality that Wales is a colony of England we have a bunch of mouthpieces masquerading as the ‘Welsh Government’. Though they have no control over planning or housing in case they interfere with the colonisation programme. Nor are they allowed to control our natural resources or our economy lest this power be used to serve Welsh interests. Though, and perhaps significantly, they are allowed freedom in those areas London is reasonably confident they will screw up – education, health – so that they can then be held up to ridicule and used to warn English voters of the dangers of the Labour Party in government.

This system cannot be improved, it can only be swept away. And the sooner the better.

Planning Inspectorate: New Gauleiter for Wales

After just over two years as head of the Planning Inspectorate in Wales Richard Poppleton is to leave. I have written about Mr Poppleton a couple of times in the recent past; first, on December 30 last year in Richard Poppleton, ‘Organ Grinder’, and again on April 1 this year with Richard Poppleton, On Tour. Seeing as he took up his position as recently as April 2012 this is a rather early – and indeed, sudden – departure. Is he retiring, being re-assigned, or recalled to Berlin London?

I took an interest in Poppleton and his agency for two reasons. First, I wanted to know why the Planning Inspectorate forces through Local Development Plans that demand new housing in excess of local need. Second, I hoped to establish the relationship between the ‘Welsh’ Government and the Inspectorate. The first question is answered below. As for how the buffoons down Cardiff docks interact with the Planning Inspectorate, well, the reality is that the Planning Inspectorate is an Englandandwales outfit and an executive agency of the Department for Commuities and Local Government in London.

The Inspectorate operates in Wales on orders from the DCLG; the only contribution from ‘Welsh’ ministers is to nod in agreement when required, and to read from scripts prepared for them by the Inspectorate’s apparatchiks and other English civil servants. Summed up in this clip from the Gov.UK website entry for Mr Poppleton. The website clearly says ‘Director of Wales, Planning Inspectorate’; not ‘Director, Welsh Planning Inspectorate’; not even ‘Director, Planning Inspectorate Wales’. Clearly, he runs the Wales office for the Planning Inspectorate in London. Anyway, Poppleton is history, he will soon be replaced by another English civil servant.

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Thickett Planing Resource
TONY THICKETT, THE NEW GAULEITER

When I heard the name of his successor, Tony Thickett, it rang bells, so I started searching through my blog, and sure enough, I found him. On March 13, in my post, Bodelwyddan and the Bigger Picture, Thickett’s name emerges as the planning inspector responsible for forcing through the Denbighshire LDP. I urge you to read the blog post and the planning inspector’s report, especially pages 16 – 27, ‘Housing; Need and Supply’, pages 28 – 31 ‘Affordable Housing’ and page 35 where, under ‘Other Matters’, the Welsh language, social and cultural fabric is dealt with.

For those who don’t have the time . . . The council argued, quite correctly, that the 2011 Census and other recent figures had superseded the original LDP and clearly indicate that Denbighshire now needs to plan for fewer new dwellings. Thickett’s response was, in effect, ‘Yes, quite right . . . but we are pushing ahead with the original figure anyway, so shut up!’ In the original LDP there had been provision for 2,250 – 3,000 ‘affordable homes’, but Thickett believed that “around 1,874 affordable homes could be delivered”. On the Welsh language, he made it clear that in his opinion it didn’t really count for anything.

Thickett was accompannied on his excursion to Denbighshire by a Gwynedd Thomas, another planner, obviously Welsh, but clearly outranked by Thickett. How does Gwynedd Thomas feel about being used to give a little local colour to this squalid exercise in colonialism?

More information on Thickett can be found in the panel on the right (click to enlarge) it comes from planningresource.co.uk. Note the announcement was made by the Planning Inspectorate, not the ‘Welsh’ Government. Though I find it strange that this press release, taken from the GOV.UK website, should imply that the appointment means Thickett is “returning to Wales” – where the hell is Denbighshire?

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Thickett’s work in Denbighshire, his report that says, ‘We can do whatever we damn well like, no matter what the evidence and statistics say’, is a warning of what is to come, especially when two new pieces of legislation are enacted: the Planning (Wales) Bill and the Housing (Wales) Bill.

For those who have not been following my countless posts on this new legislation, let me quickly bring you up to speed. The housing bill is, basically, a load of flim-flam for the Left about looking after gypsies and regulating private landlords, yet the main purpose is to integrate social housing allocation in Wales with that in England. Which will mean that a deliberately homeless family of scruffs with no connections with Wales whatsover could be moving to a property close to you in the very near future. (Yeah, I know it already happens but, believe me, when the new legislation comes into force, the floodgates will be opened.)

The changes to the planningStrategic Development Plans laws have been welcomed by builders, developers, estate agents and even lower forms of life not discussed in polite society. Development plans will cover larger areas than the existing local authorities and councillors will be squeezed out to give more power to council officers (too many of whom are not Welsh) and ‘appointees’. Taking power away from Welsh councillors is something I would normally applaud, but a return to the quangoes – which is what the Bill advocates – cannot be supported. The basic reasoning of the new legislation is that planning should be left to the professionals with as little input as possible from those who will be affected by the decisions made by these professionals.

To whet your appetites further, I have included an illustration (click to enlarge) taken from a paper by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners published in December 2013, to help their clients understand Strategic Development Areas in Wales. You will see that our two main cities are shown, presumably as the hubs of their planned city regions (yawn!), but what is that red gash snaking across the north from the border to end in a blob somewhere near Bryngwran? It is described as “the A55 Corridor”, and can only be a commuter corridor . . . not for northern Welsh people to work over the border, but to facilitate the movement into Wales of English people already working over the border, for which thousands and thousands of new homes will be built. (I added Bodelwyddan to the map to help you get the fuller picture.) All this, remember, before the legislation is even passed. The vultures are circling!

You must not think that this is confined to Swansea, Cardiff and the north, for the whole country is under threat, as Cneifiwr recently reminded us with another illuminating post from Carmarthenshire. There, despite the most recent statistics making it clear that population increase will be far lower than previously anticipated by the LDP, and household size (across Wales) larger than predicted, the number of new dwellings planned for has actually been increased! Then, further mirroring Denbighshire, the number of affordable homes to be built in Carmarthenshire has been reduced. Even attitudes towards the language follow the Denbighshire lead; protection for the language will now apply only to those communities where more than 60% of the population speaks Welsh, of which there are just five left. How can the Planning Inspectorate and council planning officers (invariably operating in concert) say, ‘Yes, we agree, the demand for new housing has reduced . . . so we’re going to build even more new houses!’.

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The only answer to that question is that housing in Wales – private and social – has little to do with what we Welsh need. Housing is now quite blatantly being used to increase the English population of Wales and thereby weaken Welsh identity, done in order to reduce the demand for further constitutional change. Then Wales can, to all intents and purposes, be assimilated into England . . . even if the pretence of ‘Wales’ is maintained in sport and other ‘bread and circuses’ spheres. The English Planning Inspectorate is a major player in this ethnocidal strategy. As are the other civil servants, with their hands up the backs of the dummies in the ‘Welsh’ Government, making these wretches say whatever London wants them to say.

We Welsh are on the point of becoming a minority in our own country. This trend has been observable for almost half a century, unsurprising because it began in response to the national awakening of the 1960s. It takes in not just housing, but higher education, the Third Sector, tourism, discrimination in employment, lack of training opportunities, reducing funding to Welsh farmers, highly selective grant funding, the ‘managed decline’ of the Valleys and other areas . . . in short, anything that can be used to disadvantage, sideline and minoritise us Welsh. Others see it, and comment on it without inhibition or sense of guilt; but we Welsh must not discuss it – for to do so makes us ‘racist’. The great taboo subject of contemporary Wales! Compared to this threat to our very existence as a nation nothing else matters: not fracking, not M4 ‘improvements’, not saving the planet, and we certainly shouldn’t concern ourselves with which set of puppets is on stage down Cardiff docks.

Organising an effective resistance to the colonisation strategy cannot be done overnight. Remember that our enemies have taken forty years and more to get to the position they are in today. But the resistance must start with people talking to each other, for there are too many groups and individuals scattered about the country achieving very little because they are precisely that – disparate and dispered groups and individuals. So start putting out feelers, talk to each other, look for common ground, start co-operating, with the aim of finding candidates to give the electorate a clear nationalist alternative on the regional lists in the Assembly elections of 2016.

I advocate this because more important than all the groups and individuals I refer to are the many thousands who have lost faith in the established parties. Many of these were so desperate to show their contempt for the Lab-Con-LD-PC cabal that they voted in large numbers – even in the Valleys! – for the clowns, cretins and crooks of Ukip on May 22. Provide a rallying-point for these who have lost faith and it will be rewarded. Make the elections of 2016 the springboard for a new movement that will start reclaiming our country!

The Cardiff Local Development Plan

‘Jac writing about Cardiff!’ I hear you exclaim, before dropping your coffee in your lap. Yes, and I’m not even going to gloat over certain sporting matters. I’m writing this post because the Cardiff LDP could have implications well beyond the city itself. Before getting down to it let me acknowledge that the post was inspired by Councillor Neil McEvoy’s article on Daily Wales. I only know Neil through social networking but he seems the type of energetic and awkward (in the best sense of the word) politician Wales needs. The kind of man who enjoys making life difficult for those who think their decisions should be accepted without question.

First, a brief explanation. Every local authority has to produce a Local Development Plan telling us how it proposes meeting the future needs of its area in terms of population growth and housebuilding. This is done with the ‘guidance’ of the Planning Inspectorate, an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. Statistics and projections are supplied by StatsWales via the Knowledge and Analytical Services of the same London department. Both the PI and KAS have civil servants based in Cardiff, which allows the ‘Welsh’ Government to claim that it alone is responsible for planning matters in Wales. In this, as in so much else, I fear, the ‘Welsh’ Government deludes itself and misleads the rest of us.Cardiff LDP Map

Local Development Plans across Wales cover the period 2006 – 2026 and are at different stages of acceptance and adoption, so the Cardiff Plan is already way behind schedule. Something else worth saying about LDPs is that they were first compiled before the figures from the 2011 Census became available (from July 2012). Which is odd, seeing as the Census results contradicted many of the assumptions and projections on which the LDPs were predicated.

One of the great mysteries of LDPs in Wales is why they were pushed through even though it was known that the presumptions and calculations on which they were based could be undone by the findings of the 2011 Census. It’s not as if the 2011 Census sneaked up on us, everybody knew it was coming, so why not wait for the hard facts it provided. It’s almost as if certain interests wanted to rush the LDPs through before the figures used could be proved wrong by the Census.

The Deposit LDP for Cardiff can be found here and if you scroll down the page you’ll find a link to the Background Technical Paper on Population, Households and Dwellings. On page 17 of the latter document you’ll find the table below. According to this table the population will increase by 71,612 between 2006 and 2026; resulting in 42,363 new households requiring  41,132 new dwellings. These figures are interesting, but even more interesting is the source for the 2026 figures, the ones used to determine how many new dwellings Cardiff will ‘need’. The Population figures for 2006 and 2011 come from the Office for National Statistics’ Mid Year Estimates (MYE). The Household figure for 2006 comes from StatsWales because household projections are contracted out by the ONS to Knowledge and Analytical Services (i.e. StatsWales). But the all-important 2026 figures are attributed to the “Edge Report”, so what is this? Well, it refers to Edge Analytics, “the specialists in demographic modelling”.

Cardiff LDP summary table
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Which then raises the question: ‘Why would Cardiff council recruit expensive consultants? The council already employs thousands of people, it has access through electoral rolls, council tax ledgers, planning and other data to a wealth of information about the city and its people; and all this can be supplemented by the population projections and other figures provided free by the ONS and StatsWales. So why employ outside specialists?

I’ll leave that question for a while to focus on the most recent national projection released by StatsWales / KAS, which says that the population of Wales in 2026 will be 3,238,000, an increase of 164,000 on 2012. At the 2011 Census Cardiff’s population of 346,090 accounted for 11.3% of Wales’ total. So 11.3% of 164,000 would mean Cardiff’s population increasing by 18,532 to 2026. This, I concede, is unrealistic, so let us assume an increase in Cardiff of double the Welsh average, giving a figure of 37,064 and a population in 2026 of  383,154. This, I think, is reasonable, because if we see anything more, such as the 30% of Wales’ total population increase predicted by Edge Analytics (or Cardiff city council), then the rest of the country needs to start asking serious questions of the ‘Welsh’ Government about investment levels and employment opportunities in other areas of Wales.

Cardiff LDP 4
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Which may give us one reason Cardiff city council decided not to use official figures – they didn’t allow for a big enough increase in the city’s population. (Though, in fairness to them, it seems that Edge did suggest reducing certain of the counci’s predictions – see panel – but the council rejected these recommendations!) Although we have the national projection to 2026, StatsWales / KAS needs to pull its finger out and produce the breakdown by local authority, no matter how unwelcome that will be to certain people connected with Cardiff city council.

Having dealt with population projections the other big issue is the number of new homes the council extrapolates from that figure. To be exact, 41,132 to cope with a projected 71,612 more people. Many factors go into determining how many new dwellings will be needed but the two principal considerations are household size, that is, the average number living in any dwelling; and new households forming, that is, people leaving the parental home to live alone or with a partner, marital break-up, etc.

The current average household size for Wales is 2.31 though higher for Cardiff due to its much younger age profile; and there has been a reducing rate of new household formation for a number of years, even before the recent economic crisis. (See the panel above.) One factor is that more people in their twenties and thirties are living with their parents, as this article explains. Another factor will be the changes in benefits payable to, for example, young single mothers. Finally, we need to consider the 3% of the population living in communal establishments, not households. Add it all up and it makes the claimed 42,363 new households from a population increase of just 71,612 difficult to accept, perhaps suggesting that it contains an element of wishful thinking or speculative housing. I would have thought that Cardiff had seen enough of the latter in recent years. Worse, to stick with the housing figure knowing that the population increase itself is exaggerated could mean that the whole exercise is driven by speculative housing interests.

Other factors also need to be considered in explaining why both the population and household projections are unrealistic. First, the city’s student population of some 37,000 accounts for many houses of multiple occupation (HMO), the large number of buy-to-let mortgages, and also helps push up Cardiff’s household size. But there is surely a limit to how many students Cardiff can attract without standards falling and / or too many students alienating the resident population. Second, the population increase figure between 2001 and 2011 was heavily influenced by immigration from the ‘new’ EU states, mainly Poland. The Poles are going home, and they will not be replaced because there is no large country poised to join the EU.

Cardiff LDP Household gibberish
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I conclude that the true purpose of the Cardiff LDP is to increase the size, and importance, of the city at all costs, with one eye on speculative building. This to be done with no heed paid to damage inflicted on the city’s own green spaces nor the economic health of the wider region and Wales. To achieve this grandiose aim the LDP then has to pick and choose which statistics suit the purpose and, indeed, which recommendations of is own consultants can be used. This is one reason Edge Analytics was retained – to serve as a whipping-boy or scapegoat if the opposition got organised – ‘Our consultants advised us . . . ‘. But as we’ve seen, the council was very selective in what it accepted from its consultants.

This all results in hundreds of pages designed to confuse the curious and discourage those minded to oppose the LDP. Partly achieved by passages of near-gibberish, such as the one reproduced in the panel above. There were not “346,100 households in Cardiff” in July 2012, that was the city’s population (though I don’t recognise the figure). While the 2008-based household size projection for Cardiff is actually 2.36, so I have no idea where the 2.35 and 2.33 figures quoted come from. Edge Analytics? Though it may be worth remembering that the smaller the household size then the more new dwellings that will be ‘needed’.

In many respects the Cardiff Local Development Plan is no worse than other LDPs I have looked at, such as those for Carmarthenshire, and Denbighshire. The main difference being that with Cardiff it’s difficult to detect the behind-the-scenes insistence of the Planning Inspectorate on building more houses than an area needs, presumably because Cardiff city council, unlike many other authorities, needed no encouragement. Consequently the Cardiff Local Development Plan is a compendium of carefully selected statistics plus ‘statistics’ that seem to have been plucked from thin air. As a work of the imagination it might be worth entering it for some literary award. But it should never be implemented; for to do so would be damaging both for Cardiff and for Wales.

STOP PRESS: Last night there was a referendum in the Fairwater-Pentrebane area of Cardiff on the LDP. The question posed was: ‘Do You Think That The Deposit Local Development Plan Should Be Adopted For Cardiff?’ The result: Yes 31 votes (2%), No 1,311 votes (98%) Turnout 13.55%. Read about it here in Daily Wales.