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 hadn’t planned on writing this, but a few things have cropped up. First, I received a letter from a firm of solicitors demanding that I take down everything I’ve ever written in the Weep for Wales series. Second, there was a news report yesterday that needs to be considered. Third, there’s the continuing confusion as to who owns what at Glynllifon.
But don’t worry, this is a ‘shortie’ . . . though if you have the time, and the patience, you’re welcome to go back to the very first episode. Just type ‘Weep for Wales’ in the search box atop the sidebar.
I can’t say too much because the writer claims copyright over the letter and insists that I don’t reproduce it. It was a mildly threatening letter which I also found offensive, especially the reference to my wife!
But you know me, boys and girls, I’m a reasonable man. All I ask is that complainants deal with specifics – show me that I’ve got something wrong, or made a mistake, and I’ll take it down or correct it. But it’s unreasonable to expect me to remove perhaps 35,000 words simply because certain people are embarrassed by their misdeeds and associations being made public. It’s an abuse of the law, and it’s also censorship.
The clients for whom Glaisyers of Manchester are acting are said to be Paul and Rowena Williams. That may be true, it may not.
The news report in North Wales Live (NWL), told us that overdue accounts for Plas Glynllifon Ltd risk seeing that company struck off the Companies House register. The accounts in question cover the period up to 31 August 2018 and should have been filed with Companies House by 31 May 2019. Which means they are more than six months overdue.
Another possibility is that one of the bickering joint owners lodged the objection. For if we return to the NWL report we read that co-owner Paul Williams claims he wants to submit the accounts to Companies House while the other co-owner, Myles Cunliffe, says he wants his accountant to check the accounts before they’re submitted.
What’s odd is that the accounts cover a period before Cunliffe appeared on the scene, so why should he be so concerned over whether they’re true accounts or not?
What’s also odd is that NWL claims Paul Williams is the co-owner, but he’s not. The latest information with Companies says that Paul Williams ceased to be a director on 10 September.
And as we see in the panel below, Paul Williams ceased to be a shareholder 30 November last year, when his shares were transferred to Mylo Capital Ltd, Myles Cunliffe’s company.
It would appear that either Paul Williams is speaking here for his wife – and if that’s the case then it should have been made clear – or else she is director and shareholder in name only.
It would appear that there has been some kind of a rupture between Paul and Rowena Williams on the one hand and Myles Cunliffe on the other. A possibility further suggested by the recent filing history. This tells us that on the same day, September 10, Paul Williams ceased to be a director of Plas Glynllifon Ltd and the company’s address moved from Manchester to Seiont Manor hotel. A few days later the company’s address was changed again to Llwyn y Brain Lodge.
Seiont Manor hotel is owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, another company that appears to be jointly owned by Rowena Williams and Myles Cunliffe, and also uses the Llwyn y Brain Lodge address. Following the Plas Glynllifon Ltd pattern the accounts are also overdue and there are 7 outstanding charges with Together Commercial Finance Ltd.
UPDATE 11.12.2019: Comments made to this blog and information received by other means about staff not being paid at Seiont Manor have apparently been confirmed by this story in today’s Daily Post.
True to form, Myles Cunliffe threatened North Wales Live (the online edition of the Daily Post) with legal action if they published the story. “When asked about this the company did not comment on the wages delay and a statement on behalf of joint owner Myles Cunliffe said legal action would be taken if North Wales Live continued to publish any article.”
WHO OWNS THE PILE?
If you go back to Weep for Wales 14 you’ll see that there is some confusion about the ownership of Plas Glynllifon, the mansion that lies at the heart of the sprawling estate with countless other buildings including those used by Coleg Glynllifon.
In the hope of clarifying things I’ve been in contact with Grwp Llandrillo-Menai, which originally owned the mansion.
The confusion – certainly my confusion – is due to the fact that the title document that mentions the big house, CYM8531, says that the mansion is owned by Grwp Llandrillo Menai. Yet the Grwp insists the mansion was sold in 2003 to Glynllifon Ltd, which went bust, with the mansion being subsequently bought by Plas Glynllifon Ltd in 2016.
And the sale is indeed confirmed by an old title document for CYM127981, which shows that in April 2003 Coleg Meirion Dwyfor (now part of Grwp Llandrillo Menai) sold “Glynllifon Mansion House and surrounding land” to Glynllifon Ltd for £500,000. With CYM127981 being extracted from CYM8531.
But now, the same title number, CYM127981, held by Plas Glynllifon Ltd, only mentions “land adjoining Glynllifon College”. Where’s the mansion gone?
I’m now waiting for Grwp Llandrillo-Menai to get back to me and confirm that things have been sorted out with the Land Registry. Because I’m still confused.
A LITTLE ROUNDUP
Other than what I’ve just told you, not a lot has happened since Weep for Wales 14 was published 21 October. But as we know, there’s always something to report in this saga, so here’s a list, in chronological order:
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
Those who’ve followed this saga will know that we started off with Paul and Rowena Williams – and a colourful supporting cast – in Powys, at the Knighton Hotel and the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne.
After allegedly selling their property empire in Powys and beyond to their associate, convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge, for a reported £11m, Paul and Rowena decided to focus their entrepreneurial genius on Gwynedd. In particular, Plas Glynllifon, which they apparently bought in 2016.
Things did not go well, and it was no surprise when we witnessed the entry onto the stage of Myles Andrew Cunliffe of Lancashire towards the end of last year. Described by Paul Williams at the time as a ‘finance guy’ who was going to help them out of the hole they’d dug for themselves.
Some of those towards the end of the list will need explaining, so read on . . .
UPS AND DOWNS
Just before Christmas I had a letter from a firm of solicitors in Chester demanding that I remove everything I’d ever written about Paul and Rowena Williams. I considered this to be an absurd and unreasonable request.
Though I wondered about that letter. Why would the Gruesome Twosome suddenly suspect that their glowing reputation for ethical dealings, paying suppliers and others on time, and not in any way being involved in mortgage fraud, was being sullied? Which is why I suspected that the letter had been prompted by Cunliffe, perhaps when he, or others, realised how well known the Williams gang had become.
I heard no more from Manleys of Chester.
But on March 26 I received, after dark, a hand-delivered letter. This was clearly in response to what I’d written about Cunliffe’s business past and possible associates a week earlier in Weep for Wales 12. Where, among other things, I’d mentioned a number of companies formed and then dissolved without any accounts being filed with Companies House.
Even so, I have to admit that this letter made me pause for thought. A letter from a solicitor is one thing; but a, ‘We know where you live’ letter from a guy with shady associates, delivered after dark, is something else. I took down Weep for Wales 12.
Which prompted a second hand-delivered letter from Myles Andrew Cunliffe on August 27. (This one pushed through my letter-box in daylight.) Another rambling missive listing ‘threats’ against him and his family that were never made, but threatening to put things right by ‘eradicating’ me! A clear threat on my life which I reported to North Wales Police.
After a few back-covering alterations Weep or Wales 12 went back up on August 29. Weep for Wales 13 soon followed. And now, here we are with Weep for Wales 14.
I should add that North Wales Police are still trying to get hold of Cunliffe, to warn him that threatening to ‘eradicate’ people is not the thing to do, but he’s proving elusive. As this text message from the NWP officer involved makes clear.
My position remains as it was set out in my response to Manleys of Chester and elsewhere. If I’ve made a mistake, then convince me of my error and I’ll amend it or remove it. But any threats will be passed straight on to North Wales Police.
GOING FOR A SONG
In Weep for Wales 13 we learnt that after the liquidation of the holding company, Leisure & Development Ltd, the various pubs, hotels and caravan parks involved went up for auction.
I’m informed that all have been sold with the exception of the two Powys properties. Though it’s rarely that simple with the Williams gang.
For a start, I’m told that the Knighton Hotel was sold to someone who immediately put it back up for auction! Perhaps after realising that Paul and Rowena Williams still owned parts of this substantial property. They may still own the cellars!
When it comes to the Radnorshire Arms, a former regular at that hostelry tells me, “The Rad is awash with Chinese whispers, a local consortium, local millionaire, far away millionaire and possibly Donald Trump’s chiropodist are all interested!”
UPDATE 23.10.2019: The Knighton Hotel did not sell.
Yet when the Knighton Hotel was bought in 2015 by their company Leisure & Development Ltd the Williams pair claim to have paid £2,881,599. In reality, they paid nothing – because they already owned it. But they still got a loan from the National Westminster Bank.
And that’s why the NatWest is owed £6,202,405.45. But of course this has nothing to do with Paul and Rowena Williams – because they sold Leisure & Development Ltd and everything the company owned to Keith Part(d)ridge in February 2018 – don’t you remember!
That’s how they operated their mortgage fraud. They borrowed money from the National Westminster Bank to ‘buy’ properties they already owned. Where’s the money now? Who knows? Well, obviously, Paul and Rowena Williams know, but they aren’t telling. And, worse, nobody seems to be asking.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN GWYNEDD?
I’ve mentioned Plas Glynllifon, the vast pile at Llandwrog, south of Caernarfon, but there are, or were, other Gwynedd properties in the Williams portfolio. The Seiont Manor hotel and restaurant at Llanrug, and the Fronoleu country hotel and restaurant near Dolgellau.
The Seiont Manor seemed to be a going concern, but the empty Fronoleu was just left to deteriorate further. Though I’m informed by a good source that the Fronoleu has very recently been bought.
So let’s look at what’s left of the Williams-Cunliffe empire after the collapse of Leisure & Development Ltd.
Polvellan Manor Ltd was dissolved on September 17. The only director at the end was Keith Harvey Partdridge.
Rural Retreats & Development Ltd is still with us, the two directors being Paul Williams and Myles Cunliffe. Though the shares are equally divided between Mylo Capital Ltd (a Cunliffe company) and Rowena Williams. After changing its registered address in December from Plas Glynllifon to a Manchester office, it moved again last month to ‘Llwyn y Brain Lodge, Llanrug’.
Llwyn y Brain may be close to Seiont Manor. Certainly the eatery at Seiont Manor is known as Llwyn y Brain Restaurant. Though seeing ‘Lodge’ in the name makes me think of the house at the end of the drive, on Llanberis Road. This picture shows the Lodge looking south west to Buarthau; Seiont Manor itself is north east of the Lodge.
Companies House has been informed of the situation but has taken no action.
Plas Glynllifon Ltd is in no better health than the other companies. It too shuffled from Plas Glynllifon to Manchester and now Llwyn y Brain Lodge. The two directors are Cunliffe and Rowena Williams (Paul Williams resigned last month) and the shares are split equally between Rowena Williams and Mylo Capital Ltd. It should go without saying that the accounts are overdue.
Looking at the extant companies and the properties not in the hands of receivers I found 15 charges against companies and seven against properties, all with Together Commercial Finance Ltd.
But then, Commercial Finance Ltd itself has nine outstanding charges with the Royal Bank of Scotland. It’s the money merry-go-round.
‘Respectable’ banks raise money
They will lend to chancers, fraudsters and con artists – once
‘Respectable’ banks also make loans to lenders of last resort like Together Commercial Finance Ltd
Lenders of last resort then lend it to chancers, fraudsters and con artists who have exhausted their credit with ‘respectable’ banks.
Chancers, fraudsters and con artists from England use money from both sources to buy property in Wales
This may involve mortgage fraud, tax evasion and other ‘sidelines’
Few if any jobs will be created for locals, certainly no good jobs
These scams are hailed by ‘Welsh’ media and politicians as ‘investment’
Once they’ve got enough money stashed away, aforementioned chancers, fraudsters and con artists go belly-up or leg it
News media and politicians ignore such outcomes
Receivers, security firms, auctioneers, etc – all from England – make money from property of liquidated companies
The losers will be local staff, tradesmen and suppliers
Wales loses out in every sense, especially if con artists have received public funding, which happens far too often
Chancers, fraudsters and con artists start up again and cycle repeats itself
Alternatively, their assets are taken over by serious crooks who use them to ‘refresh’ money from other ventures
This is not the capitalist system I support, and I find it worrying that so many agencies that should be intervening seem to dismiss it as ‘victimless’, white collar crime. It may even be regarded benevolently because it generates wealth and puts money into the UK economy, like drug trafficking and other criminal activity.
THE BIG HOUSE
In the past few weeks I have received many notifications from Companies House regarding Myles Andrew Cunliffe and companies with which he’s associated, plus information from other quarters. So let’s look at just some of it.
I’ve mentioned Llwyn y Brain Lodge already, the new ‘home’ for Rural Retreats & Development Ltd and Plas Glynllifon Ltd, well it’s also the new address for the following Cunliffe companies:
Which suggests that Myles Andrew Cunliffe is settling in nicely. Though in the case of the second company in the list, it transferred to Llwyn y Brain on September 16 but Cunliffe ceased to be a director on the 18th. Which is odd, because the only director remaining has no known connection with Wales, and he joined on the very day Cunliffe left.
In addition to these companies, Cunliffe joined Save and Support PLC (Incorporated 25 April 2019) as a replacement for James Ellis.
UPDATE 22:20: Save and Support may provide a thread worth following. On 20 August, the day that Cunliffe’s associate, Sean Colin Hornby, joined Save and Support PLC, three directors left. These were: Peter John Parry, Adam Peter Parry and Joseph Peter Parry, almost certainly father and sons.
What makes this interesting is that Parry senior is also a director of Creating Enterprise CIC, a subsidiary of Cartrefi Conwy Cyf, which is based in Mochdre, just a hoot and a holler from Grwp Llandrillo-Menai’s Llandrillo campus.
Elsewhere, you will remember that in the previous episode we looked at the strange case of Cunliffe’s business partner Dennis Rogers, and the possible connection with Arron Banks and the mysterious millions that funded the 2016 Leave campaign. (If you haven’t read it then I suggest you read Weep for Wales 13 now.)
It seems that since Weep for Wales 13 appeared on August 31 Dennis Rogers has been reducing his profile, ceasing to be a director of a few companies. I hope it was nothing I said!
But this section is titled The Big House for a reason. In the previous post I linked to this story from North Wales Live on July 8 which told us that Paul and Rowena Williams had bought Plas Glynllifon in 2016, and that Myles Andrew Cunliffe was now a 50/50 partner.
But then I got to wondering . . .
As you can imagine, I’ve got hundreds of documents and images for Paul and Rowena Williams and their associates – but did I have the Williams’ Land Registry title document for Plas Glynllifon? So I started searching.
All I could find for the Williams duo relating to Plas Glynllifon was this title document which refers to ‘land adjoining Glynllifon College’ for which £630,000 was paid in 2017. But nothing for Plas Glynllifon. So I went back to the Land Registry and did a map search.
In which case, how could Paul and Rowena Williams have bought Plas Glynllifon in 2016? And how could Myles Cunliffe now own half? I suppose there are a number of possibilities.
Perhaps the purchase of Plas Glynllifon in 2016 was not registered with the Land Registry. If so, why not? Why register the purchase of ‘land adjoining’ but not the Plas itself?
Maybe the Plas wasn’t purchased at all, maybe Paul and Rowena Williams entered into some kind of lease or rental agreement with Grwp Llandrillo-Menai. If so, what are the terms of this agreement? (Though the only lease shown on the title document is for an electricity sub-station.)
I’m genuinely confused, so I’d like some answers to a few simple questions:
1/ Who owns Plas Glynllifon?
2/ If Plas Glynllifon is owned by Grwp Llandrillo-Menai, what arrangement does it have with Paul and Rowena Williams; and now, Myles Andrew Cunliffe, and whoever Cunliffe might be representing?
3/ If Plas Glynllifon is owned by Paul and Rowena Williams/Myles Andrew Cunliffe and partner(s) – as they claim – why isn’t the ownership registered with the Land Registry?
UPDATE 05.11.2019: In the hope of settling the question of who owns Plas Glynllifon, the mansion, I wrote to Grwp Llandrillo-Menai.
The e-mail I received from the company secretary of Grwp Llandrillo-Menai concluded: “With regards to document CYM8531, thank you, the Grŵp will be following the matter of accuracy up with our Estate Solicitor and the Land Registry in due course.”
The clear suggestion being that the title document for Plas Glynllifon available at the Land Registry, showing the place to be still owned by Grwp Llandrillo-Menai, is wrong. I can only think that the Land Registry has not been notified of a change of ownership.
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
LET’S RECAP . . .
I suppose the obvious place to start is with an update, or perhaps a brief résumé for those new to the saga. This approach will also help me ease back into the saddle.
Paul and Rowena Williams are an unsavoury couple who, by various means, built up a portfolio of hotels and pubs in Wales, England, and Cornwall. In 2015 they formed a company, Leisure & Development Ltd, that ‘bought’ properties they already owned at greatly inflated prices.
Obviously, no money changed hands but thanks to the grotesque over-valuations mortgages were secured against these fictitious purchases. This of course was classic mortgage fraud.
Though lenders would have required valuations, and I have always suspected that these were provided by Dudley Cross of Lambert Smith Hampton. Cross had worked with the Gruesome Twosome for years, he even served as a director of Leisure & Development Ltd until the whole shooting match was allegedly ‘taken over’ in February 2018 by convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge.
The valuations were done in 2015, Cross joined the company in 2016.
A while back I drew up a list of the companies with which Paul and Rowena Williams were involved. You can see it below, and here’s the pdf version, with working links to the Companies House entries.
Now for the latest news, working down the list from the top . . .
There are moves by Companies House to strike off Polvellan Manor Ltd, the two-month notice dated 2 July. The last document filed was micro company accounts in April last year, showing a loss of £1,033.
As reported, Rural Retreats & Development Ltd now has Myles Cunliffe and Paul Williams as directors with Cunliffe’s company Mylo Capital Ltd having ‘significant control’. The company address has moved from Plas Glynllifon to the second floor of 9 Portland Street in central Manchester. An address where we’ll find a number of Cunliffe companies.
Leisure & Development Ltd was the main company for the Williams’ property empire and as I’ve mentioned this was supposedly bought on 1 February 2018 for £11m by Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer. As previously reported in this series, this company is now in administration.
There were moves to voluntarily strike off Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltdin the middle of last year but it struggled on with Michael Jones at the helm. Jones was lost overboard on 31 July, which leaves this Mary Celeste of a company adrift.
A company with no nominated director is not a legally constituted company, so this irregularity has been referred to Companies House.
Next up is Plas Glynllifon Ltd, where we find the Williams duo and Cunliffe listed as directors. With shares split equally between Rowena Williams and Mylo Capital. Despite the name, the company’s address is now on the second floor of the Manchester building I mentioned earlier.
More importantly, perhaps, Companies House has given notice that Plas Glynllifon Ltd risks being struck off in mid-October. This of course may be the desired outcome, because . . .
Finally, we have the Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd, which might now be dissolved, seeing as Companies House issued the notice on 25 June.
All of which suggests that the Williams portfolio is now reduced to Rural Retreats & Development Ltd. Though with nothing filed with Companies House since February, and seven outstanding charges, the future of this survivor must also be in question.
Which takes the form of a quick roundup of changes I’ve been informed of in recent months. A few snippets from hither and yon.
Rikki Reynolds, right-hand man to Paul and Rowena Williams, said to know where the bodies are buried (metaphorically speaking), and who was running the Seiont Manor hotel, was sacked in March(?), presumably by Cunliffe.
He is believed to be writing his memoirs.
On April 3 new company Seiont Manor Ltd, sole director Myles Cunliffe, transferred its address from Manchester to the hotel of the company’s name.
On July 8North Wales Live reported Myles Cunliffe saying, ‘they were in the final stages of selling the site after coming to the conclusion they are not able to complete the redevelopment. He said: “At the mansion (Plas Glynllifon) it has not been feasible to take the site forward, we have not been able to realise Paul’s dream for the site and need a hotelier now to take the site to the next level.’
Pure bullshit. There’s more chance of sighting Lord Lucan riding Shergar through the grounds than there is of finding a ‘hotelier’ to take over a vast and cripplingly expensive to maintain building in the wrong location.
The Knighton Hotel went to auction May 9, but failed to reach its reserve price.
The Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne is also unsold but there is interest.
The Bird in Hand (Ironbridge, Salop) continued trading, contracts being drawn up. So by the time you read this it might have been sold.
The Castle Inn and caravan park (Wigmore, Herefordshire) has been sold.
The Salutation Inn and caravan park (Berwick-upon-Tweed) sold for £215,000.
The Waves Bar and Resort (Seaton, Cornwall) sold in April for £501,000.
It seems the administrator might be stuck with the Knighton Hotel. A large establishment – made up of two separate buildings – with the sale complicated perhaps by the Williams duo still owning parts of the whole, certainly the former retail unit at ground floor extreme right.
Going back to the administrator’s progress report, I found Appendix B interesting for it lists the creditors, something we’ll look at in a minute.
In the Notice of administrator’s proposals, dated 10 September 2018, we read that the six properties we’ve just looked at were valued at £11,887,828, according to documents lodged with the Land Registry.
So in 2015 Paul and Rowena Williams claimed to have paid £11,887,828 for those six properties, three of which have now been sold for perhaps just one million pounds. The largest, the Knighton Hotel, failed to reach its reserve price of £350,000 at auction.
As a matter of interest, according to the Land Registry document, Paul and Rowena Williams ‘paid’ £2,881,599 for the Knighton Hotel in 2015.
The most the administrator will make from the sale of all six properties is maybe £2m. Yet as you can see in the table below, taken from the same administrator’s report, NatWest is owed £6.2m on those properties. How is this possible?
It’s explained by Paul and Rowena Williams inflating the valuations to gain mortgages, in line with the example of the Knighton Hotel. And remember, they already owned all six of the properties, so they paid nothing!
With the £6.2m figure accounted for by perhaps 50% mortgages on inflated ‘purchase’ prices plus interest.
Clearly, NatWest will be lucky to see a third of what it’s owed by Leisure & Development Ltd. Or less, after the administrator and others take their cut.
And spare a thought for the ‘Unsecured creditors’, owed £306,961.36. These will be suppliers, local tradesmen, staff, and others who really can’t afford to lose money, but these poor buggers won’t see a penny.
Moving on . . .
MYLES CUNLIFFE AND FRIENDS
To believe the Daily Post, when Paul and Rowena Williams were at their lowest ebb a knight in shining armour came galloping in to rescue them. Under the gleaming armour was the manly physique of ‘finance guy’ Myles Andrew Cunliffe.
I always had doubts about Cunliffe, who was after all a small-time operator, offering finance on second-hand cars – why the sudden jump to stately homes? I touched on the answer in an update to Weep for Wales 12, in which I mentioned Jonathan Disley, ‘the King of Marbella’.
The link might be Neil George Cunliffe, who lives in Marbella. The two Cunliffes are from the same area and it’s reasonable to assume they’re related. And I find it difficult to believe that Neil Cunliffe, living in Marbella, does not know ‘the King’.
More recently, it seems Disley has been looking for investment opportunities back in Blighty, maybe Brexit has prompted this return. If so, this might be ironic, as I’ll explain in a minute.
Among the investment opportunities being considered was Blackpool football club. For it was being reported last year that Disley was in negotiations with Owen Oyston, the unpopular owner, to buy him and his family out. Also seen with Oyston in the directors’ box at Blackpool were Myles Cunliffe and Dennis Rogers.
So who is Dennis Rogers? Well, as you might have guessed, he’s another ‘businessman’, one who’s been involved in quite a few companies with Cunliffe. Companies such as Etaireia Investments PLC (both resigned as directors 27 March, 2019), Get Me Finance Ltd, Mylo Capital Ltd and Goldmann PLC (formerly Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis Capital PLC), which they both joined as directors 11 December 2018.
In fact, Rogers is quite an interesting character for a number of reasons. Earlier this month he was announced as the Brexit Party candidate for Warrington South . . . and then, two weeks later, he wasn’t. The story behind this abrupt change takes us to the heart of the possible Brexit connection.
Some trouble-making local checked Rogers out on the Companies House website and found that he had an Isle of Man address. Perhaps this one. Obviously there were some objections to this Manx resident standing for Warrington.
But now it gets really funny, so stick with it . . .
After working as a Strategic Business Advisor for the IoM government Rogers kept up the pretence of Manx residency. But then, the fuss over his candidacy, and questions as to where he lived, and whether he paid tax, alerted HMRC, who I’m told are now making enquiries.
“A nominee director is a director appointed to the board of a company to represent the interests of his appointor on that board. He may be appointed by a shareholder, a creditor or another stakeholder”. So who appointed Dennis Rogers?
The Banks connection is spelled out in this report from Manx Radio from just a week ago: “Earlier this year, the Manx businessman (Rogers) was named as a nominee director for Rock Holdings Limited, a company which forms part of Arron Banks’ insurance empire.”
I bet you’re glad you stuck with it!
Going back to Goldmann PLC, we see that the secretary is Sean Colin Hornby. Hornby was a Labour councillor in Bolton until some misunderstanding over unlicensed taxis led to him standing as an Independent before he joined Ukip. Despite the rise of the Brexit Party Hornby stuck with Ukip and his loyalty was rewarded with re-election in May.
ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER
The bottom line is that Cunliffe and Rogers work for Disley or, as it was put to me, they’re his front men. They are, effectively, employees.
It is further suggested that Goldmann PLC is Disley’s company. Rogers was removed as a director on August 16 due to the attention he was attracting from HMRC and possibly other agencies.
Something else that may be connected with the unwanted attention is that until 19 August Goldmann Ltd was known as Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis Capital PLC. I’m told that ‘Ellis’ is Tom Ellis, Disley’s son-in-law.
Obviously we are dealing here with ‘colourful’ and unorthodox businessmen, where what you see ain’t always what you get. The sort of people I write about all the time. Too often, in fact, because Wales attracts so many such chancers.
Which is why I find the Brexit angle, and the possibility it throws up, a welcome diversion. Let me explain.
Earlier I provided an IoM link for Dennis Rogers. The company was National and Commercial Extwistle Ltd, with Rogers giving his address as the Trafalgar pub on the South Quay in Douglas.
In the image below, the Trafalgar pub is the white building on the left, and the redbrick building behind the pub is what I suspect are the old offices of Manx Gas, with the company’s new office building on the right. The old building is now called Murdoch Chambers.
Why am I telling you this?
Because in this report – and I can recall watching it on Newsnight – John Sweeney locates Rock Holdings’ (the Banks’ company we looked at just now) address to Murdoch Chambers. The report says:
“At the time of the referendum, Rock Holdings’ address had been registered at Murdoch Chambers, South Quay, Douglas, Isle of Man.
Newsnight visited the island this week and its first stop was to Murdoch Chambers, which now appears to be an accommodation address, facing a gas showroom overspill car park. The door was locked and no-one answered.”
I know the Isle of Man isn’t that big, and Douglas is a fairly small town by mainland standards, but even so, Banks and Rogers being neighbours strikes me as one hell of a coincidence.
Another company I found giving the Trafalgar pub as its address was The Bullion People Ltd. Secretary and sole director Jodie Rogers. This company was Incorporated 4 September 2012, filed nothing, and was dissolved 13 May 2014.
Among the directors of Collateral Business Centre was Peter Currie. Check out the companies he’s been involved with, and see how many of them have been dissolved or liquidated after a similarly short existence.
We looked at companies in the Trafalgar with ‘cash’ and ‘bullion’ in their names. Now we can add, ‘gold and silver’, ‘lending’, ‘finance’, ‘currency’, ‘money’, ‘capital’, ‘cash’, and even ‘pawn’.
Companies that are clearly involved in moving money or trading in precious metals, but they don’t seem to do any business, they never submit accounts, and they go out of business very quickly before there’s too much tedious paperwork cluttering up their palatial offices.
There may be an honest explanation for businesses like this. Though if so, then I’m still waiting to hear it.
We started with a couple of shysters and their hangers-on, and it was fairly easy to spot mortgage fraud. I now hear that Paul and Rowena Williams have been offered a very decent sum to hand over Plas Glynllifon, the Seiont Manor, Fronoleu (near Dolgellau), and Polvellan House in Kernow.
We can but guess at the use to which these buildings will be put. But they are unlikely to be renovated. For now we seem to have moved into a different realm. Not only in terms of scale, and opacity, but also thanks to the possible political dimension.
Over the years I’ve copped a lot of criticism, I’ve had many critics, even threats. But it all seemed to ratchet up when I first mentioned Cunliffe, Rogers and Disley. Was it because they were afraid of their business dealings being exposed, or was it due to the Brexit connection?
The usual Remainer theory is that the Leave campaign was funded from the Kremlin, a tactic in Russia’s ongoing attempts to destabilise the West. But I think my old mucker Vladimir Vladimirovich gets a bad press – where’s the evidence he was slipping brown envelopes to Arron Banks or anyone else?
There is no evidence of the money coming from Russia. That £8.4m that Arron Banks can’t account for could just as easily have been found down the back of a Spanish sun lounger.
The links are there for all to see. Or maybe the key lies in the answer to a single question: Who insisted that Arron Banks make Dennis Rogers a nominee director of Rock Holdings, the alleged conduit for the money that might have swung the 2016 referendum?
♦ end ♦
P.S. A message to those who keep sending me letters and generally having unkind thoughts about me. I really don’t care what you get up to in Spain, or England, or the Isle of Man, or Timbuktu, but once you cross the border into my country I will take an interest. Because it’s my country, I love it, and I will protect it from people like you.
The message should be obvious: if you don’t want me to write about you – stay out of Wales.
Let’s start on a happy note before moving on to discuss the murky world of Paul and Rowena Williams and their interesting ways of doing business.
For on Sunday July 29 there was a garden party at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne. Everybody was invited and a wonderful time was had by all. Here are some photographs from the event.
The jolly get-together was called the Pants on Fire Party, an obvious reference to the countless lies told by Paul and Rowena Williams, plus those in their inner circle. In the poster a shifty-looking Keith Partridge says, ‘Psst!! wanna buy a hotel chain? No, how about a hot Bentley?’
To be honest, I wouldn’t buy a lavatory chain from that man.
As I say, a good time was had by all, though Paul and Rowena Williams didn’t turn up . . . which probably explains why everybody had a good time!
Having some time to myself last week I delved into the history of the oldest of Paul and Rowena Williams’ companies; the one that started life as Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd, then became Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd, before the name was changed again to Polvellan Manor Ltd in March 2016.
The first question that cropped up was, ‘When the company was formed in July 2002 we have a husband and wife running a country pub, so do they really need a private limited company? But even if they do, does that company need 10,000 £1 shares – why not just two shares?
Going through the accounts submitted for Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd we find a heart-rending tale of losses, year on year, suggesting that the Mortimers Cross Inn was spectacularly unsuccessful . . . or else someone was being ‘imaginative’ with the accounts ‘unaudited financial statement’. Heavily indebted every year the sole asset would appear to be the inn itself, valued in the accounts for y/e 31.07.2003 at £479,938 after depreciation.
Turning to the ‘Abbreviated accounts’ for y/e 31.07.2005 we see that the asset is now gone, which accords with perceived wisdom that says the inn was sold around this time to pubco Punch Taverns.
Though the figures for 2005 suggest other fixed assets somewhere, as ‘additions’, amounting to £118,611, giving a book value of £634,407, which reduced to just £8,250 after the sale.
The Abbreviated Accounts for y/e 31.07.2006 give the company tangible assets of just £6,187 and it’s heavily in debt. So where’s the money gone from the sale of the assets in y/e 31.07.2005?
I think that question is answered by the fact that Paul and Rowena Williams were now acquiring the properties we are more familiar with, such as the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel. Even so, they had just over half a million pounds to start with and there are no charges (mortgages or loans) listed against their only company. So where did the rest of the money come from?
Debra Yvonne Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister, became a director of Retreats & Leisure Ltd on 14.03.2007, so did she inject some money? For just a short time after this, in November 2007, Oswald, with her husband and her and Paul Williams’ parents, formed a company in Goa. Where the family still have a hotel, and where Williams père lives.
Whatever the answer, acquisitions there certainly were, for the company address was changed to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel on July 24, 2009, and the ‘Financial Statements’ for 2010 were lodged from the Knighton Hotel. Yet we don’t see these properties appearing in documentation until the ‘Abbreviated (Unaudited) Accounts’ for y/e 31.07.2010 when tangible assets are £863,016, up from £203,00 the following year.
Though the company remains a loser. On a turnover of £322,788 up to July 31, 2010 Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd lost £152,421. One factor being a large loan from Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Ltd, with £155,667 falling due in 2010, though this was down from £209,625 the previous year.
This loan, plus the money received from the sale of the Mortimers Cross Inn, would still not be enough to pay for the ten properties bought in this period, even if most were bought from receivers or at auction, so I ask again, where did the rest of the money come from?
The last ‘Abbreviated (Unaudited) Accounts’ for Retreats & Leisure Ltd before the new companies were set up was for y/e 31.07.2014. They tell us that the ‘total tangible assets’ – the combined worth of the Williams property empire – amounted to just £1,802,623.
Yet in August 2015 the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was bought by the new Williams company Leisure & Development Ltd for £3,487,049. The same company bought the Bird in Hand for £1,279,204. Salutation Inn for £1,049,076. Castle Inn for £1,269,720. The Knighton Hotel for £2,881,599. The Courtyard for £1,920,780.
Those figures come to a total of £11,887,428. And there are other properties they bought from themselves for which I don’t have the prices. Of course, the problem with buying from yourself is that it’s not real money, you aren’t making anything. That comes from the mortgages and loans you can raise against properties given absurd valuations.
(Though given who’re dealing with we should remember that paying over the odds is a good way of getting rid of money you might have difficulty accounting for.)
Something else I did to while away the time was draw up a list of the companies Paul and Rowena Williams have been involved with. Here’s the table I compiled, and it’s here in pdf format with the company number linking with its Companies House website page.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END?
Last week was a busy week. It started on Monday when I popped over to Presteigne and Knighton for a mooch around. (I enjoy a good mooch.) The Knighton Hotel and the Radnorshire Arms look what they are – abandoned, neglected and deteriorating.
Next, I received a flurry of e-mails from Companies House telling me of activity with Williams companies. All dated 10 July but recorded at Companies House July 30.
Third and fourth were two charges against Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Both are against “all the property or undertaking of the company”.
All of which suggests that Together Commercial Finance Ltd may have come to the end of its tether with Paul and Rowena Williams; concluded it’s not going to see its money repaid, and so is tying down property in lieu of the money it’s owed.
The National Westminster Bank seems to have come to the same conclusion, for it pulled the plug on Leisure & Development Ltd last Thursday, obviously concerned about the money it had loaned in 2015. Locks were changed and CCTV cameras installed on a number of properties, including the Radnorshire Arms where locals had so recently enjoyed the the garden party.
And yet, there are still questions.
Just a few months ago, when Paul and Rowena Williams were spinning the line about Keith Partridge taking over their hotels and other businesses, they told staff it was being done through his buy-out – for £10m – of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. Read the letters here.
We now know that the ‘buy-out’ was a fairy tale, and we also know that RRL UK Ltd owns nothing. Which I suppose explains why NatWest is unlikely to pursue the charge it has against this company.
So it appears that both lenders have all options covered and we’re approaching endgame. But I’m convinced that a crook and a liar as ruthless and cunning as Paul Williams still has something up his sleeve.
For as locals in Presteigne and Knighton know, just a day before the case was heard in that Birmingham court Paul Williams visited his properties with some men in a white van, and loaded up all sorts of stuff, even fire extinguishers! They appeared to be genuine – the guys in the van, I mean! – and even gave out a business card, which said they were working for Worcester Pubkit.
Even more bizarrely, at around 3am, just hours before Aztec Asset Assured turned up to change the locks, the alarm at the Radnorshire Arms went off, sounding very briefly before someone pressed the right buttons. Who could that have been, boys and girls, creeping around in the middle of the night?
The Williams Gang is now reduced to its holdings in Gwynedd and Cornwall, which I find rather disturbing for a couple of reasons. One, being pushed back into the western extremities of Britain carries uncomfortable historical resonance, and two, I live in Gwynedd, and so I’m wondering if these crooks are getting any of my money.
Gwynedd is represented by the Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd, while Cernyw comes in the form of Polvellan Manor Ltd. The sole director of the former is Rikki John Reynolds, while his counterpart in Cornwall is Keith Harvey Partridge.
The only reason these companies are still standing is that there are no charges against them. Or should I say, no charges directly against them. But Seiont Manor is owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd and as we’ve seen, Together seems to have that base covered.
Which leaves just Polvellan Manor Ltd, which as you read earlier started life as Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd in 2002. According to the company’s latest ‘Unaudited Financial Statement’ – produced by our old friend John Duggan – the turnover for y/e 31.07.2017 was zero.
That’s zero, as in zilch, nothing, sod all.
But we must introduce the caveat that Mr Duggan does have trouble with figures, to such an extent that he was sent away for a few years to brush up on his accountancy skills. So for all we know, the Polvellan Manor could be raking it . . . high rollers jetting in to the private airfield, top-class cabaret, 50 quid for a shot of Old MacDonald’s single malt . . .
Yes, last week was a good news week, and I’m looking forward to more good news in the not-too-distant future. The fat lady’s not ready to sing just yet, but I feel she’s in her dressing room applying make-up. For the curtain has gone up on the opening scene of the final act.
For you insomniacs out there, here’s some reading matter in the form of the latest version of the information sheet on the gang. Anyone able to suggest amendments or additions is welcome to contact me.
UPDATE 07.08.2018: After making further enquiries I now know that the process which resulted in Leisure & Development Ltd being placed In Administration was initiated by the directors. Which is where it gets interesting, for the two directors are Sukhbinder Singh Heer and Keith Harvey Partdridge (sic). Paul Steven Williams was a director until 21 July 2018.
Also on 21 July, one day after the meeting at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel between Paul and Rowena Williams and Powys County Council and the ‘Welsh’ Government, all 10,000 shares in the company were transferred from Plas Glynllifon Ltd to Keith Harvey Partridge. Though you have to ask why the shares were held by Plas Glynllifon Ltd when Part(d)ridge is supposed to have taken over the company on 1 February.
Whoever the directors are, the charges against this company remain. And I’m assured that once the move was made to, essentially, wind up the company, the creditors – National Westminster Bank Ltd and Together Commercial Finance Ltd – were informed.
As I say, the fat lady is still in her dressing room.
♦ end ♦
P.S. For all of you who’ve sent me information and anecdotes about the gang, particularly Paul Williams, please understand that I can’t use everything. Though I am considering a piece devoted solely to these horror stories.
I hadn’t planned on writing another instalment so soon after my previous effort but more information has come to light that needs to be put into the public domain.
If this is all new to you then I suggest you get up to speed with Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2 and Weep for Wales 3. It’s worth it, and I say that because this is developing into a saga of corruption the like of which Wales has rarely seen.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
We shall soon be in Cornwall, and Polvellan House or Manor, standing not far from the confluence of the East and West Looe Rivers, but first I want to take a little detour, my ‘andsome (as he slips effortlessly into dialect!).
On 9 July 2002 Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd (Co. No. 04480966) was Incorporated with Companies House. Perfectly natural seeing as Paul and Rowena Williams, the directors of the company – each holding 5,000 £1 shares – had bought the Mortimers Cross Inn near Leominster in October 2001.
After the sale of the eponymous pub to Punch Taverns in 2004/5 (at what is alleged to be a greatly inflated valuation), the company underwent changes in both directors and addresses, also names, becoming Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd on 14 March 2007, and Polvellan Manor Ltd on 17 March 2015.
Then something even stranger happened.
On 20 March 2015, three days after Rural Retreats and Leisure Ltd changed its name to Polvellan Manor Ltd, a company called Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd (Co. No. 09502597) was formed. The directors were Rowena Claire Williams and Leisure and Development Ltd, a company whose sole director was Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd.
Why form a new company with a name so close as to be easily confused with the former name of Polvellan Manor Ltd? Surely it’s not a deliberate attempt to confuse?
Now I have no idea who Michael Jones is. The documents filed with Companies House tell us that his correspondence address is Polvellan House but that Wales is his country of residence. Does he really exist? And if so, is he aware that he is responsible for Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd and the debt the company has with the NatWest Bank? Perhaps Michael Jones could get it touch to clarify things.
On 1 April ‘Michael Jones’ made an attempt to voluntarily liquidate the company, but this was thwarted by a person unknown objecting. Much to the chagrin of Rowena Williams. But why would she be so upset, because the company has nothing to do with her any more? Officially.
Before it was Plas Glynllifon the address for this new company switched from the Knighton Hotel to Unit 3, 37 Watling Street, Leintwardine, Herefordshire. I shall have more to say on the second of these in a minute.
WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?
One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been investigating Paul and Rowena Williams is that a few of those involved in this saga seem to have switched sides, or it may be difficult to tell who they’re working for. One of those I’m thinking about is Keith Rolfe.
Then there’s the “expert” mentioned in this report about the ‘unsafe’ gardens at Plas Glynllifon, “Matt Jackson, from consultancy Land and Heritage”.
As I mentioned in the previous posting, Land & Heritage Ltd is a new company, Incorporated 8 August 2017. Among the directors we find Simon Travers Humphreys. In addition to being a director of Land and Heritage Humphreys also works for Pell Frischmann. This company has worked for Polvellan Manor.
Land & Heritage are even looking after the bats at Glynllifon according to their website, which tells us that “Heating a section of the cellar has proved a highly popular nursery for young lesser horseshoes”. If bats use a cellar it’s because it’s a substitute cave, and therefore cool. Heating it could be disastrous.
If I was Land & Heritage I’d stick to trees and shrubs.
It seems obvious to me that Land & Heritage Ltd has been set up as a sideline to make money by providing whatever bullshit the likes of Paul and Rowena Williams need produced to promote their projects. That being so, nothing produced by Land & Heritage need be treated seriously.
The extract below from the minutes of Looe Town Council 14 June 2016 confirms that Keith Rolfe and Simon Humphreys were already on Paul Williams’ payroll two years ago.
In previous posts on Paul and Rowena Williams I mentioned Dudley James Cross, who we’re told works for commercial property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton. But does he? I ask because he’s been associated with Paul and Rowena Williams for a decade and a half.
During the Open Days last month Cross was even showing people around Plas Glynllifon.
Here’s a planning application in Herefordshire from 2008. Paul Williams wanted to erect holiday chalets behind the Mortimers Cross Inn. What name do we see against ‘Agent address’ but Lambert Smith Hampton of Northampton. In other words, Dudley James Cross.
Given this long association, and added to the fact that LSH was the agent for Plas Glynllifon during the ‘Wynnborn’ fiasco, it’s possible that Cross is the one responsible for introducing Paul and Rowena Williams to Gwynedd. So are they in partnership?
I ask because the chronology of the crazy property dealing conducted around the time of the purchase of Plas Glynllifon fits. Much of this involved ‘buying’ property they already owned at inflated prices in order to raise cash through loans and mortgages.
Whatever the relationship between them, Cross has been involved in some very dubious transactions and dealings, false reporting, and God knows what else. How does Lambert Smith Hampton feel about that?
An address that crops up regularly in the constant changing of the correspondence address for the various Williams’ companies, is Unit 3, 37 Watling Street, Leintwardine, a village in north Herefordshire.
Now 37 Watling Street is a residential property on an unprepossessing street in a sleepy border village, and Unit 3 is a shed accessed down an alleyway at the side of 37 known as Wardens Lane. It also seems to be home to a recycling company. This shed must get a bit crowded!
So who might we find at Unit 3? The answer is John Duggan, or to give him his full name, John William Thomas Duggan. Not only does he work out of Unit 3 but it seems the area down Wardens Lane qualifies as a business park. Which may be stretching things.
Of more importance for this report is the fact that John Duggan served a lengthy prison term after being convicted in May 1998 of fleecing an elderly widow out of nearly £700,000. At the time he was a director of Hereford United Football Club, and it’s from a club website that I got this report.
There are crimes of passion, there are stupid things done in the heat of the moment, often under the influence of alcohol or drugs; revenge, lust, hate and a host of other motivations can trigger criminal behaviour, then there are acts – à la Jean Valjean – committed out of necessity . . . but Duggan’s crime was none of these.
His was a cruel and calculating crime carried out over a lengthy period of time against a helpless old woman with no one in the world to help her; for she had lost her husband and, more tragically, her son. So this bastard ripped her off.
Yet Paul and Rowena Williams have no qualms about associating with Duggan, no problem with using Duggan’s address for their companies, over and over again.
Which would be bad enough, but it doesn’t end there.
John Duggan, through his company J D Accountancy (a company for which I can find no details anywhere), is responsible for the accounts of Team Williams companies. Or maybe I should rephrase that, because they don’t seem to be accounts so much as ‘Unaudited Financial Statements’.
Duggan drew up the latest Unaudited Financial Statement for Leisure and Development Ltd, up to 31.01.2018. It’s worth reading. This is the company we are asked to believe was taken over 1 February 2018 by ex-con Keith Harvey Partridge and his mate, failed financial whizz kid Sukhbinder Singh Heer. (Though Paul Williams remained a director.)
In the Unaudited Financial Statement produced by Duggan I was particularly struck by the heading, ‘4. Staff costs’, which seems to suggest that the various hotels and other businesses had no employees. There were dozens. Then again, this might be explained by what I’ve been told about staff being paid in cash. In fact as much business as possible is done in cash. Paul Williams is a great one for the brown envelopes.
There were ten Charges (debts, loans, mortgages, debentures) against Leisure and Development Ltd before the company was ‘sold’ to Partridge and Heer, with an eleventh taken out 4 May, after the supposed buyout. This one seems to bundle up all the previous Charges and suggests that they are now transferred to Plas Glynllifon Ltd, which makes no sense.
Because if we are to believe Paul and Rowena Williams they no longer have anything to do with Partridge, Heer and Leisure and Development Ltd. So why is their new company Plas Glynllifon Ltd listed as the ‘Borrower’ on the Charge taken out by a company they no longer own?
But if true, then they should worry anyone having any kinds of dealings with Paul and Rowena Williams.
At the end of the day, we have to ask why Paul and Rowena Williams associate so closely with two men, in Duggan and Partridge, who have been to prison for serious crimes of theft. (And might even have met in prison.) They must know these men’s records.
To pretend they don’t know what these men have done is unacceptable. To argue that they’ve ‘served their time, etc.,’ facile. Paul and Rowena Williams do business with Duggan and Partridge because they’re crooks.
Experience of life and knowledge of Paul and Rowena Williams suggests they use the undoubted accountancy skills of John Duggan because for the right price he’ll give you what you want, no questions asked. Which means that no figures presented by Paul and Rowena Williams can be trusted.
As for Partridge, his background is also useful in the scam he’s working now with Paul and Rowena Williams, that has raised millions and millions of pounds in complicated mortgage deals and phoney sales, money that might soon disappear in a puff of smoke along with those holding it.
Then what of Rolfe, Humphreys, Cross, Jones, Reynolds and the others – do they realise what crooks they’re working with?
I am no longer sure we are dealing with chancers trying to make a few quid by duping politicians, planners and civil servants; we may instead be dealing with a major criminal enterprise covering a wide geographical area, from Cornwall to the Marches, to Gwynedd, and up to the Scottish border. Perhaps involving serious criminals and organised crime.
Paul and Rowena Williams may not even be the main players.
I suspect the police are now taking an interest. And not just the police, for the UK government has lost a considerable amount of money due to the activities of this gang. And I have been promised yet more information about Paul and Rowena Williams. It’s unending!
And what of our (or somebody’s) ‘Welsh’ Government, which I’m sure has given large amounts of cash to these crooks? I have submitted a FoI request, but I don’t expect an answer any time soon. It would obviously help if we had an opposition around that foetid pool that is Cardiff Bay, but they’re all too busy jostling for position and advancement.
With any luck they’ll fall in and drown. But then, rats can swim.
Fuck ’em; the spineless, collaborating bastards bereft of dignity, vision, and ambition for Wales; making our homeland easy prey for the scumbags we read about here. May they rot in hell, an individual hell each must share for eternity with whomsoever and whatsoever most offends their delicate sensibilities.
This is the third instalment of my gripping narrative dealing with shysters, con men, crooks, liars, asset-strippers, and assorted low-lifes. To bring yourself up to speed I – and my agent – recommend that you read Weep for Wales and Weep for Wales 2 before proceeding.
As I mentioned in my previous posting, there were Open Days at Glynllifon on Sunday and Monday (the 24th and the 25th). And despite my absence it all went swimmingly . . . if we are to believe Rowena Williams and the hitherto unknown Land & Heritage Ltd, who seem to have had a big hand in arranging the event.
So now you’re asking, ‘Who are Land and Heritage Ltd?’ The answer is that it’s a new company, formed less than a year ago, and based in Cornwall, where Paul and Rowena Williams have enjoyed a number of triumphs. They may still have business interests down there, who knows with those two?
You will note that according to the panel above, from the Land & Heritage Facebook page, Team Williams showed people around the house with its impressive fixtures and fittings, while “Matt, Sarah and Dudley presented plans for future projects and developments”. The BBC was also in attendance.
‘Matt’ I assume to be Matt Jackson, director of Land & Heritage. I’m not sure yet who ‘Sarah’ is (but I know somebody’ll tell me). Of more interest though, is ‘Dudley, who I’m almost certain is Dudley James Cross, Regional Head of Building Consultancy at Lambert Smith Hampton. A company, you may remember from the previous instalment, mentioned in this report from the Daily Post of two years ago as the ‘agent’.
I suspect that LSH was involved in the liquidation of the company that previously owned Plas Glynllifon, or perhaps not involved in the liquidation itself, but with finding a new buyer while the liquidation was proceeding. As we’ve seen on his Linkedin profile, Cross has worked for LSH for 22 years, but that hasn’t stopped him branching out, because from 7 June 2016 until 1 February 2018 he was a director of Leisure and Development Ltd, the main vehicle for Paul and Rowena Williams’ property empire.
According to the documents filed with Companies House, Cross’ address is given as Plas Glynllifon, and his Country of residence as Wales; yet his Linkedin profile tells us that he lives in Northampton. Can’t both be right, can they?
Anyway, Cross ceased to be a director of Leisure and Development Ltd on 1 February, when the company and its assets – including the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne – were allegedly taken over by convicted thief and fraudster Keith Harvey Partridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer (of whom more later).
If Plas Glynllifon has really been bought by Paul and Rowena Williams, and everything’s tickety-boo, and with him no longer a director of Leisure and Development Ltd, why isn’t Cross back at his day job with Lambert Smith Hampton? Or does LSH still have some interest in Plas Glynllifon?
This may be a good point to give some information on the recent history of Plas Glynllifon.
On 7 November 2000 a company called Glynllifon Ltd was Incorporated with Companies House. Next, on 2 April 2003, this company bought Plas Glynllifon from Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, with a mortgage from the NatWest Bank.
This company stayed afloat – with help from Cyngor Gwynedd and the Welsh Development Agency – until the AIB group called in a receiver 3 July 2013. Glynllifon Ltd finally slipped beneath the waves when it was dissolved 24 June 2017. By which time Plas Glynllifon had been bought by Paul and Rowena Williams.
Their company Plas Glynllifon Ltd bought the mansion on 19 April 2016 for £630,000. Though you might not know that from the title document, which simply refers to “land adjoining Glynllifon College”. To complicate matters there is no map available from the Land Registry.
But Cyngor Gwynedd assures me that Title No CYM127981 covers Plas Glynllifon.
Since the purchase of the mansion just over two years ago, Plas Glynllifon Ltd has taken out no less than six mortgages or loans with our old friends, the pay day lenders of the commercial property market, Together Commercial Finance Ltd. So maybe it’s time to take a closer look at this company.
Together Commercial Finance Ltd was until very recently known as the Lancashire Mortgage Corporation, part of Jerrold Holdings Ltd controlled by Henry Moser. Censured by the City watchdog in 2012 and with a host of complaints against it from customers – even a petition! – this group is the lender of last resort for those who cannot borrow from banks and more reputable lenders. Designed for people like Paul and Rowena Williams.
When I’ve got a few days to spare I might try to work out how much Paul and Rowena Williams owe to Together Commercial Finance Ltd. (I hope my calculator’s up to it!)
MEANWHILE, BACK IN POWYS
Despite the sunny weather enjoyed by all at Glynllifon clouds appeared on Rowena Williams’ Facebook page with voices from the recent past, reminders of the businesses they used to – perhaps still – own on both sides of the central border.
Oh! what a tangled web we weave . . .
Be that as it may, in the official, Williams, version, the properties owned by Leisure and Development Ltd have all passed to Keith Harvey Partridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer. Now Partridge we know is a convicted thief who had to downsize following his spell in prison. But what of Heer?
At one time he seems to have been a high flier, a managing partner at accountancy firm RSM Robson Rhodes, but he left under a cloud in May 2006 and the once ambitious company he’d led was taken over by Grant Thornton in 2007. The Financial Times referred to Heer’s “sudden resignation”. (This may be the link, but there’s a paywall.)
So how has Heer kept lupus lupus from his portal since bankrupting RSM Robson Rhodes?
In 2011 he joined a firm based in Assembly Square, Cardiff. And although this report from WalesOnline mentions Heer’s association with RSM Robson Rhodes it neglects to tell us the circumstances of his departure. Which is no less than I would expect from a ‘news source’ that does little more than repeat press releases.
Later, with Sukhpal Kaur Heer, perhaps his wife, he formed SSH Associates Ltd. This company entered the ring 5 July 2013 and went down without landing a blow on 26 April 2016. Sukhpal Kaur Heer was involved with another firm that seemed to take a dive, H & H Ventures Ltd.
Another company of Sukhbinder Singh Heer’s that formed and dissolved without apparently doing any business was Premium Hotels Ltd; Incorporated 28 June 2013 and ‘dissolved via voluntary strike-off’ 31 May 2016. The other director of this spectacularly inert enterprise was Keith Harvey Partridge.
If nothing else, this tells us that Partridge and Heer have known each other since at least 2013. But when did Partridge drift into the joint consciousness of Paul and Rowena Williams?
If we are to believe Rowena Williams she met Partridge just once . . . perhaps when he skidded to a halt outside the Radnorshire Arms in answer to their ‘Property Empire for Sale!’ advert in Exchange and Mart.
But as I mentioned in the previous post, Partridge stayed a number of times at the Radnorshire Arms, and female staff there found him “unpleasant”. I have since learnt that he also stayed at Mortimers Cross Inn, Leominster, after Paul and Rowena Williams bought the place in October 2001. So Rowena Williams either suffers from amnesia or she’s a liar.
(I bet it took you a long time to work out which!)
On other fronts, local politicians have been involved. The Tory MP for Brecon and Radnor, Chris Davies, responded thus: “I have received a number of emails from constituents who are concerned about this and have asked me to find out more. To begin with I have written to the owners requesting an urgent meeting at both of the sites to be able to discuss what their plans are and to gain further information. Furthermore, I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance in the Welsh Government to request further information and I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to gain this information as well.”
The obvious question is – ‘Who does Chris Davies think owns the Radnorshire Arms?’ If he thinks it’s Team Williams then they’ll say, ‘We’ve sold it – nothing to do with us, guv.’ And if he’s written to Partridge then I suspect he’s got a long wait.
Local Lib Dem AM Kirsty Williams, answered with, “Obviously these allegations are hugely concerning. I just wanted to let you know that I have raised them with the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates AM, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM and the BCU Commander for Powys, Superintendent Jon Cummins.”
So there you are – Ken ‘Flint Ring’ Skates and Lord ‘Principality’ Thomas are on the case! What could possibly go wrong?
Stop laughing! It’s not nice to laugh.
We’ve assembled quite a cast here.
First, we have Paul and Rowena Williams, who buy properties, then sell them to themselves at greatly inflated prices. Which apparently is just fine, nothing wrong in this at all.
The funding for these purchases comes from a finance company with an appalling reputation and track record.
The Williams properties outside of north Gwynedd appear to have been sold to a company run by a convicted thief and con man and a man who single-handedly destroyed a thriving and ambitious accountancy firm before setting up what suspicious souls might view as shell companies.
These businessmen then leave the properties they ‘own’ – often listed buildings – empty and decaying. But not to worry, because word is that all the valuables have been removed.
Meanwhile, and having, allegedly, divested themselves of everything outside of the Caernarfon area Paul and Rowena Williams focus their attentions on the Glynllifon estate, now estimated to be a £20 million project. I shall repeat that for the hard of reading – the estimate for the Glynllifon project is twenty million pounds.
This estimate, remember, comes from people who are up to their eyes in debt, and they’re not in debt to your friendly High Street bank!
Talking of debt, why do all roads lead to Manchester, and the city’s property/financial sector? What are the connections?
Is Lambert Smith Hampton still involved with Plas Glynllifon or is Dudley Cross freelancing? Cross ceased to be a director of Leisure and Development Ltd on 1 February following the ‘takeover’ by Partridge and Heer, so if he is involved with Glynllifon shouldn’t he now be a director of Plas Glynllifon Ltd?
The pictures I’ve seen from the Open Days, pictures of four-poster beds, tasteless statues and Louis XIV pool tables, may have drawn ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the carefully primed crowd, but it could all be packed onto the backs of a few lorries one dark night. How much has been spent on Plas Glynllifon that cannot be removed?
A point may soon be reached when Paul and Rowena Williams go to Cyngor Gwynedd, the ‘Welsh’ Government, maybe a few other bodies, saying, ‘We’ve run out of money, you can’t leave this wonderful old building half finished now can you – so slip us a few mill’. If there’s resistance, then public opinion will be mobilised and pressure applied.
Given the disappointments of the past two decades, first with Glynllifon Ltd from 2001 to 2013, then the Wynnborn nonsense in 2015, they may be hoping there’s a desire in official quarters to just get the bloody place finished, and so money will be handed over.
I repeat my advice to Cyngor Gwynedd and the ‘Welsh’ Government: You are dealing with unscrupulous people – just check their records – so make it clear to them NOW that there will be no public funding to complete Plas Glynllifon.
Unless of course, such promises have already been made. In which case, we should indeed weep for Wales.
I am indebted to an anonymous source for the basis of the tale you’re about to read. I’ve contributed some supplementary digging and a number of interpretations. The original information I received was also sent to a couple of police forces, a number of media outlets, and other agencies, but I doubt if any will act on the information, so it’s up to Jac to extend his scrawny old neck, again.
Let the story begin in the pleasant little border town of Presteigne. To be even more specific, in the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, a half-timbered building dating back to the late 16th century.
As told to me . . . this establishment was bought in 2006, or thereabouts, by a Paul Steven Williams for a price close to £400,000. It was then leased to a succession of tenants at an unreasonably high rent, with the predictable result that none of the tenants was able to make a go of it.
The last of these unfortunates seems to have been Gianni Roberto d’Aniello of Cora Berry Hotels Ltd. A company registered in January 2014 at the Radnorshire Arms, and put into the hands of Cardiff liquidators in November of that same year.
But then! when all seemed lost, this by now neglected building was sold in August 2015 for the princely (and surprising) sum of £3,487,049 to Leisure and Development Ltd, a company with an address in nearby Knighton. A company Incorporated only a few months earlier on 19 January 2015.
The founding directors of Leisure and Development Ltd were Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams. The charge referring to a loan from NatWest Bank suggests that the Radnorshire Arms had been transferred to Mrs Williams prior to the sale to Leisure and Development Ltd (see panel below).
UPDATE 21:52: It may be worth spelling out that the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was sold by Rowena Claire Williams to Leisure and Development Ltd (Directors: Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams) for at least twice what the property was worth. This is very odd; I mean, how can you ‘sell’ something to yourself?
Something else that struck me about Leisure and Development Ltd was the number of changes of address it saw in such a short time. Incorporated January 2015 with an address at the Knighton Hotel, Broad Street, Knighton; then in February 2016 to just over the border in Craven Arms; in February 2017 the company re-crossed the border from Craven Arms to Plas Glynllifon, Caernarfon; and finally, in April 2018, it moved back to Craven Arms.
There’ll be more on Plas Glynllifon and other properties in north Gwynedd later. They can’t be ignored because Plas Glynllifon Ltd now owns all the shares in Leisure and Development Ltd, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you who the directors are of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Though they have ceased to be directors of Leisure and Development Ltd.
But the Williamses still own Leisure and Development Ltd through their ownership of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. It’s one way of operating – set up a company, then set up another company, resign from the first company but retain ownership through the second, then set up a third company, resign from the second, and so ad infinitum.
The person now nominally in charge of the Leisure and Development Ltd portfolio, named on the Companies House website as “person with significant control” from 30 April 2018, is Keith Harvey Partdridge. An interesting character, Partdridge, of whom more in a short while.
Though I suspect that spelling may be a recent affectation, if not a mis-spelling, because he has previously been known by the more usual spelling of Partridge. As in Museums (Norfolk) Ltd and Health Choice Hotels Ltd, both of which appear to be dormant.
Another example of Partridge’s business acumen, or perhaps his probity, may be found with Turnholly Ltd, owing some two hundred thousand pounds to various creditors.
SO WHO’S WHO AND HOW ARE THEY CONNECTED?
Well, we’ve met Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams, and I’ve also introduced their business partner Keith Harvey Partridge. And as I suggested, Partridge has a colourful past.
From 1992 to 1997 he owned the Midlands Motor Museum in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. But towards the end of 1999 he was jailed for stealing a Bentley Azure worth over a quarter of a million pounds. In March 2008 his home was up for sale with an asking price of £2,000,000.
But the Williamses are no paragons of good business practice either. Despite being repeatedly warned they carried on advertising the Radnorshire Arms as having AA and Visit Wales ratings, until they were eventually fined £1,250 with £4,250 costs.
(Incidentally, let me make it clear that despite the name the Williamses are not Welsh. They describe themselves as ‘English’ (not British) on documents submitted to Companies House, and I’m told that Paul Williams is a particularly unsavoury Kipper.)
In terms of companies, so far we’ve encountered Leisure and Development Ltd and Plas Glynllifon Ltd, plus some of Partridge’s solo ventures. Now it’s time to list a few others, without I hope causing too much confusion.
Paul and Rowena Williams were directors of Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd, also listed among the directors was their company Leisure and Development Ltd (which bought the Radnorshire Arms Hotel). Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd is now run by their associate Michael Adrian Jones, with his address given as Polvellan House in Cornwall.
On April 1 Jones – who owns all the shares since they were transferred to him from Leisure and Development Ltd – made an application for Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd to be voluntarily struck off, but someone objected and the strike-off has been suspended.
I understand that Rowena Williams was outraged on finding that some scallywag had pinned the notification to the front door of the Radnorshire Arms.
A similarly named company is Rural Retreats and Development Ltd, of which Paul and Rowena Williams are both still directors. Former directors were Debra Yvonne Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister, and Polvellan Manor Ltd. There are a number of Charges against this company for loans and mortgages, including one against the Fronoleu Country Hotel at Tabor, just outside Dolgellau.
The mortgages, or more likely second mortgages, are with Together Commercial Finance Ltd, which seems to offer the commercial equivalent of pay day loans to those who find it difficult to raise money anywhere else.
After pissing people off in Caernarfon and beyond with his insulting ‘Wynnborn’ nonsense Woodhouse seems to have sold out to the Williamses and turned his gaze south. After linking up with Bore Grylls and then – to give the project some credibility – Peter Moore, former MD of Center Parcs, he unveiled the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
Quite an ambitious undertaking for a man who was then six million quid in debt, but the ‘Welsh’ Government gave the trio everything they wanted – land, planning permission, infrastructure, money, you name it.
It’s impossible to know what the future holds for the four properties around Caernarfon, we can only be guided by the record of those who now own these fine old buildings. And that record is not encouraging.
A FEW WORRYING FACTS
Since April 16 the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne has been closed. On Monday 16 April staff were told by Paul Williams that Leisure and Development Ltd – comprising seven pubs, hotels, restaurants – had been sold to Coast 2 Coast and was being ‘re-branded’.
In other words, convicted thief Keith Harvey Partridge had somehow managed to raise“more than £10 million pounds” Williams claimed the deal was worth. Partridge whose companies are either in debt or mere shells.
On Sunday April 22 Partridge appeared in person at the Radnorshire Arms to tell staff that all the company’s establishments would be closed for 6 – 8 weeks for refurbishment. Staff were being laid off but could reapply for their jobs later. Over 70 staff were affected at the various locations.
Nothing has since been done to the Radnorshire Arms, and no planning application has been submitted. The building has instead been gutted and left to decay. There are broken windows and slates have fallen into the street. This, remember, is a 16th century, Grade II listed building.
In saying that the Radnorshire Arms has been “gutted”, what I mean is that it has been stripped of everything that can be sold off. The panel below is taken from the latest accounts for Leisure & Development Ltd submitted to Companies House at the end of April. Or rather, the unaudited financial statement.
You’ll see that between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2018 almost seven million pounds worth of plant and machinery plus fixtures and fittings somehow slipped off the balance sheet. Leaving the companies assets confined to freehold property, in other words, mere structures, decaying structures, all of them mortgaged and re-mortgaged, and perhaps overvalued.
Earlier I mentioned Polvellan Manor in West Looe, Cornwall, now owned by Polvellan Manor Ltd. On April 1 Paul and Rowena Williams transferred the 5000 shares they each owned to Keith Partdridge. They ceased to be directors on the same day, leaving Partdridge in sole control.
Paul Holden, chair of the Cornish Buildings Group, told the CL reporter, “We have applied unsuccessfully to get the building listed, the rejection notice said that much of the historic interior had been lost.” I wonder where the interior could have gone? Did it just walk out the door?
The Fronoleu Country Hotel, just outside Dolgellau, is now closed, just like Polvellan Manor and the Radnorshire Arms. So is the Beaufort Sports and Social Club in Ebbw Vale. I guarantee that most if not all of the properties owned by this gang are closed. What sort of business can this be?
And here’s a thought . . . has anyone from Cyngor Gwynedd or the ‘Welsh’ Government been inside Plas Glynllifon lately?
Another thought; by stripping and neglecting these buildings the gang is almost certainly breaking the conditions of the loans and mortgages, the conditions that insist these buildings be properly maintained and looked after. Intact.
And what do the insurers think of this behaviour?
UPDATE 14.06.2018: Here are the letters received by the staff at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the other establishments owned by Rural Retreats and Leisure Ltd. The first from Rowena Williams of RRL and the second from Keith Partridge of Coast 2 Coast. (Here in pdf format.)
According to these letters the deal was done 1 February, so why did it take eight weeks to inform the staff?
Note how optimistic Rowena Williams sounds, “At the moment we do not have any more information that (sic) what we have shared with you except that they (Coast 2 Coast) want to move quickly in order to be open for the summer period”.
But the Williamses have been dealing with Partridge for years, and they knew exactly what the plan was.
And as for the “summer period”, well, it’s mid June, Whitsun has come and gone, and in the northern hemisphere it is now definitely summer . . . but the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the other establishments remain firmly closed, with no sign of them opening any time soon.
How could anyone ever trust these people?
COUNT THE SPOONS!
You’ll have noticed that Paul and Rowena Williams and their sidekick Partridge buy property almost indiscriminately, and then they just strip them to the bare bones and let the buildings deteriorate.
This is because they have no interest in actually running hotels. The racket is to buy a property, with a loan or a mortgage; announce a big investment, lots of jobs; then strip the building of anything valuable; sell it on within the gang at an inflated price (or simply transfer it); dissolve indebted companies; pull down whatever grants are available, use these grants and new loans to service old loans; while paying yourself handsomely behind this fog of deceit.
With all the debts accrued, this is a house of cards. Collapse must surely be imminent.
Consequently, to have any dealings with these people would be foolish. To give them money would be insane. And yet, this is what I’m told has happened, and probably explains why they’ve moved their operations to Wales. For it’s claimed the gang has already received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government, with more in the pipeline.
I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to Visit Wales, but I have already been told that the Radnorshire Arms received a grant of £370,000, plus a smaller grant; while the Knighton Hotel (formerly Norton Hotel) received an even larger grant.
God knows how much they’re getting, or anticipate getting, from their foray into Gwynedd.
In case anyone is in doubt, let me make it absolutely clear: These people are liars, chisellers, scammers, asset-strippers, con men, crooks; so cut off all public funding immediately and demand repayment of what they have already received; insist on a thorough inspection of the buildings they ‘own’; and then refer them to the police.
Weep for Wales that we keep attracting people like these, scavengers drawn to a fallen beast. A once noble beast brought down by a colonial system that will always favour strangers, and exploitation; a system that will never encourage native initiative lest it gives us ideas about our place in the great scheme of things.
This system, and those who promote and operate it, must be swept away. Do that and I won’t have to write about Paul and Rowena Williams, Keith Partridge, Bore Grylls, Gavin Woodhouse and the occupying army of which they are just a small detachment.
THIS PIECE BEGAN LIFE AS JUST ANOTHER ITEM IN ONE OF MY REGULAR NEWS ROUND-UPS, BUT AS IT GOT MORE INTERESTING I THOUGHT IT MERITED A POST TO ITSELF. SO HERE IT IS
About a week or so ago WalesOnline, one of Trinity Mirror’s Labour Party mouthpieces, told us of an exciting new development in Cwm Afan, behind Port Talbot. The article generated some interesting comments, here are a couple, but I urge you to read them all.
As the comments tell us, this development is fronted by television ‘personality’ Edward Michael Bear Grylls, though it seems to be the brainchild of a Gavin Lee Woodhouse of Yorkshire, through his Northern Powerhouse Developments. There are a number of companies – all new – sharing that name.
In addition to being new companies these five also share a single director – Woodhouse – have just a few quid in share capital and are yet to submit any accounts or returns.
Alternatively, another company that might fit the bill for Cwm Afan is Active Resorts UK Ltd, which, again, was set up last year. Or perhaps Afan Valley Ltd (formerly Caerau Parc Ltd). In fact, Gavin Lee Woodhouse has been involved in a surprising number of companies for a man of 39 years. As many as 78, many of which seem to change their name soon after starting up, often the address as well.
And yet, I cannot find him shown as a director of any company before the latter part of 2014, so what was he doing up until then, and why so many companies since? If we go back to his Linkedin profile it doesn’t really help. For it tells us that he founded the MBi Group of Companies in November 2011 with nothing before that except, under ‘Education’, “Norwich City, Law 1995 – 1997”. Which means what – did he do night classes while playing for Norwich City Football Club?
The Company Check website (below) confirms a sudden irruption into the world of business some three-and-a-half years ago but does nothing to explain what he was up to between 1997 and 2013. Also note that according to this source Woodhouse is a director of 58 extant companies, and has been involved with 45 dissolved companies. All in the space of less than four years!
Just one more company might be worth mentioning. Again, this is a company set up very recently, on 10 November 2016, and once again Gavin Lee Woodhouse is the sole director. Though what the purpose of Woodhouse Family Overseas Ltd is I do not know, but the name does make one think.
At this point you’re probably shouting, ‘No more bloody companies!’, so let’s continue in my coruscating – yet informative! – narrative style.
Looking at those companies in the north you might think – as I did – that Newborough Hall is somewhere near the village of that name on Ynys Môn, but no, Newborough Hall was a name used to market Plas Glynllifon, near Caernarfon. A short time later, in what became something of a minor cause célèbre, the former mansion of Lord Newborough was marketed as Wynnborn.
The Daily Post article I’ve linked to tells us that late in 2015 Plas Glynllifon was bought from receivers by “MBI Hotels, part of the MBI Consulting group”. MBI Hotels was a relatively new company Incorporated with Companies House on 13 May 2015. The two founding directors were Robin Scott Forster and Gavin Lee Woodhouse.
Following the furore over ‘Wynnborn’, Forster and Woodhouse resigned as directors on 11 November 2015 and were replaced by what a cynic might regard as stooges. To further cover their tracks the company name was changed on 1 February 2016 to Giant Hospitality Ltd, under which name you can find the information I’ve just given. Woodhouse re-instated himself as a director of Giant Hospitality Ltd on March 30 2017.
Despite all the ducking and weaving, it appears that MBI’s purchase of Plas Glynllifon fell through, for the Daily Post reported in April 2016 that the pile had now been bought by a “mystery buyer”. The mystery buyer turned out to be a couple named Paul and Rowena Williams who, despite the name, are not Welsh.
The couple have promised to keep the name Plas Glynllifon and that seems to have satisfied Plaid Cymru. For superficial displays of outrage while ignoring the underlying colonialism is Plaid Cymru’s trademark.
Putting it all together there seems to be no Welsh involvement at all . . . oh, wait, I’m forgetting, the Daily Post report told us that Paul and Rowena Williams are “in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support”. So Welsh involvement might be limited to paying for another piece of Wales to pass into English hands!
I suppose the Charges Companies House lists against Plas Glynllifon Ltd could be bridging loans until the ‘Welsh’ Government grants come through.
Let’s get back to Cwm Afan. I don’t know how well Grylls and Woodhouse know each other, where or when they met, but their relationship makes sense for the following reason.
Woodhouse is a property developer in the tourist accommodation sector, who also has stakes in student accommodation and care homes. Which fits, because, fundamentally, this new development is about 900 lodges in the £149,000 to £249,000 price range. Let’s split the difference: 900 x £200,000 = £180,000,000. There’s also a 5 star hotel, spa, and other facilities. We’re talking big bucks here.
To disguise the fact that this is just an upmarket caravan site (which is all that ‘lodges’ are) Bear Grylls is brought on board to give it that, je ne sais quoi, that, ‘outdoory’ appeal. Bingo! now we have the Afan Valley Adventure Resort, pulling in overweight suburbanites then getting them wet and dirty so they can fantasise about doing special forces training. Much as Grylls has done since inflicting himself on Llŷn. (Which I wrote about quite recently, scroll down in this post.)
Wales’ past prosperity may have been built on agriculture, coal, steel and other heavy industry, but the ‘Welsh’ Government now believes that any prosperity we might enjoy in the years ahead depends almost solely on zip wires and the like; the more the merrier, zip wires everywhere. ‘Wales – the country with the zip wire economy!’
As one of the comments to WalesOnline (above) suggest, there is already quite a lot in the Cwm Afan area for the public to enjoy, almost all of it paid for by the public purse. I’ll let Brychan, a regular visitor to this blog, take over:
“There are leisure facilities already present in the valley, most notable a mountain bike centre which has had substantial council investment from the taxpayers of Neath Port Talbot, and of course a building up at Glyncorrwg which has a café, which was funded by Communities First.
The ‘ponds’ at Glyncorrwg are a series of reclaimed colliery reservoirs stocked with fish. The cycle paths, which taxpayers paid millions into, are the ones which run along the trackbed of the old Rhondda to Swansea railway line from Blaengwynfi (Rhondda tunnel) down to Port Talbot, and its spur up to Glyncorrwg.
The forest plantation came into the possession of Natural Resources Wales (Forestry Commission). The old coal tips were reclaimed at public expense, the land having been gifted to the council from the National Coal Board.”
So we see that a large amount of public money was spent healing the scars of previous exploitation . . . only for these public assets to be handed over to twenty-first century exploiters in the forms of Gavin Lee Woodhouse and Edward Michael Bear Grylls. Two men with nothing but contempt for what makes Wales Welsh.
Who are these bloody people that own so much of our country!
We are dealing here with people who see easy money to be made turning Wales into a recreation and retirement destination for England. They don’t even need money, for they can borrow it on the value of the asset being acquired, or get it from suckers investors, while also relying on the ‘Welsh’ Government chipping in with grants and gifts of public assets. It’s a no-lose situation, for them.
There’s nothing surprising about this, it’s how British business operates. The UK state itself is floating on an ocean of debt, disguised by accountancy practises that have got some people banged up. What should disappoint anyone reading this is that the ‘Welsh’ Government is so ready to be part of this. But then, when you’ve got no ideas of your own on how to generate wealth or create employment you’re going to welcome with open arms any shyster who comes along with a ‘project’.
And as I asked earlier, what do we know about Woodhouse’s background? Well, for a start, he seems to have been convicted for driving while disqualified in June 2009. (Ban extended.) I also learnt that, “Prior to founding MBi in 2011 he (Woodhouse) was a director of several other companies”.
The same source tells us that Woodhouse has – according to his lawyer – also suffered the misfortune of holding “short-lived directorships of two businesses that left debts when they were wound up. He was appointed without his knowledge and/or not removed when he should have been”.
The same Bureau of Investigative Journalism report found that MBi’s chief commercial officer was a struck-off solicitor named Alan Cockburn, who “had acted for the buyer, seller and lender in the same transaction and caused the Yorkshire Bank to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds.”
The report also informs us that “Companies House lists Woodhouse as director from late October 2012 until May 2013 of Harjen Limited, which held a sexual entertainment licence for the Leeds strip club, Wildcats, throughout that time. Woodhouse’s lawyer said his client had not been involved with the management of the strip club and that the dates of his directorship listed at Companies House were incorrect. The lawyer said Woodhouse had “immediately resigned” when he found out about the business.”
This is terrible! Some unscrupulous bastards keep making Gavin Lee Woodhouse a director of dodgy companies without his knowledge. Should the ‘Welsh’ Government be doing business with such an unlucky man? Come to that, how did the ‘Welsh’ Government get involved with him in the first place, didn’t they do background checks?
Still, this explains the gaps on his Linkedin profile. Now if I was Bear Grylls I’d use my SAS training to melt into the shadows and then put as much distance as possible between me and Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the Wolf of Wharf Street.
All joking aside, the examples of Plas Glynllifon and Cwm Afan are all too representative of ‘Welsh’ tourism – no Welsh involvement, no Welsh benefits yet, somehow, we end up paying for it! I often think that if Venice was in Wales then the gondoliers and everybody else making the money would be English. That’s because Wales is ruled by England, in the interests of England.
It’s called colonialism; it’s been around since the dawn of time, and although it’s fallen from favour elsewhere in recent decades, here in Wales our elected representatives still prefer supporting colonialism to standing up for Welsh interests.
Unless we start calling time on this variety of tourism we shall increasingly find ourselves strangers in our own country, for the trend is already established along the north coast and elsewhere – where tourism takes hold Welsh people lose out and Welsh identity becomes weakened, trivialised, and eventually destroyed.