I’ve burdened you with a few heavyweight issues of late and now I’m going to make up for it with this relatively short piece in which I look at tourist tat, give a brief update on the Williams gang and new boy Myles Cunliffe in Weep for Wales 11a, before rounding off with an appeal for a better system than funding organisations that have no intention of ever dealing with the problem they’re paid to deal with.
As you know, every December I haul the old Jones carcass down to Cilmeri where the craic is good in the company of old comrades from the 1960s (though fewer every year), and this in no way detracts from the solemnity of the occasion, or the fiery speeches at the monument.
Among the regulars are some of our Breton cousins, one of them, Gwion, first came to Wales many, many years ago as a student teacher; a nice lad who unfortunately fell in with a bad crowd . . . that included myself. Ah! happy days.
After Cilmeri this year our Breton guests went to a number of castles and historic sites to soak up some history and culture before heading to St Fagan’s. Where they intended spending money on Welsh goods.
Among their purchases was a scarf, a red, Welsh scarf. This was left in the bag until they returned home . . . when the full horror of what had happened was revealed.
You’ll see that not only does this scarf carry the ‘Ich Dien’ logo of Charles Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, but it was made in China! Yet the receipt insists it is a ‘Welsh’ scarf.
After receiving the information and the photographs I got to wondering who could be responsible, who was guilty of perpetrating this deception in our name, so I did some checking.
The receipt mentions ‘NMGW Enterprises Ltd’, but nothing comes up for that name on the Companies House website. Next stop was the website for National Museum Wales where, on the ‘Corporate Partnerships’ page (scroll down), I found this reference to NMGW Enterprises.
A bit more ferreting gave me the name I was looking for – Mentrau Amgueddfeydd ac Orieliau Cenedlaethol Cymru / National Museums & Galleries of Wales Enterprises Ltd. Here’s the Companies House entry.
A number of things concern me, and should concern anyone who cares about Wales.
First off, looking at the directors of NMGW Enterprises, there is a worrying lack of Welsh involvement. (Even the auditors are in Walsall!) Which might explain why tourist tat made in China is being passed off as Welsh and damaging our country’s reputation.
Seeing as NMGW Enterprises is owned by National Museum Wales I suggest that that body either reins in these cowboys or else removes from its website actionable lies about ‘Welsh-made products’. Preferably the former.
And because the ‘Welsh Government’ has ultimate responsibility for our museums and galleries – and may even have appointed the directors of NMGW Enterprises – I also expect to see some action from that quarter.
Wales is supposedly going for up-market tourism and yet, at one of our flagship visitor attractions, people are offered rubbish you’d expect to see sold by a spiv down from London to capitalise on a rugby or football international.
WEEP FOR WALES 11a
I don’t have enough material, yet, for Weep for Wales 12 but there is fresh information that needs to be made public. Let’s recap . . .
Weep for Wales 11 appeared on 3 December and I updated it a few times, including just before Christmas after receiving a threatening letter from a solicitor, demanding that I remove everything I’d ever written about Paul and Rowena Williams. (Here’s my response.) I’ve heard nothing more from the solicitor. I’ll return to this intervention later.
The real news is that there’s a new kid on the block and his name is Myles Andrew Cunliffe. He now appears to run both Plas Glynllifon Ltd and Rural Retreats & Development Ltd through Mylo Capital Ltd, a company with a single one pound share and nothing yet submitted to Companies House.
Though the 10,000 shares issued for each of Plas Glynllifon and RR&D are split equally between Mylo Capital and Rowena Williams.
Myles Cunliffe inhabits that demi-monde of the personal finance sector that seeks out those with poor credit ratings, those who are susceptible to pitches that translated say – ‘Want to get into crippling debt buying a car you can’t really afford?’
For this sector encourages people to do exactly that, which often results in repossession. In the case of cars, these can then be ‘sold’ to somebody else who will fall behind with repayments, and the sequence repeats itself.
Another company with which Cunliffe is involved is Etaireia Investments PLC, a company that was until March 2011 known as Aquarius Media PLC, with a Seychelles connection.
More recently Etaireia Investments has been in talks with the Oyston family estate. The name Owen Oyston will be familiar to football fans and to readers of Private Eye. This recent article from the Guardian will give you a flavour of the man we’re dealing with.
On the same day he joined Etaireia Investments Cunliffe also became a director of Etaireia Holdings Ltd, a Scotland-registered company now lined up to be struck off due to both Accounts and Confirmation Statement being overdue with Companies House.
Someone who joined Etaireia Investments soon after Cunliffe was Dennis Rogers, who got this write-up in the Financial Express. Rogers is based on the Isle of Man. That puff was written by Cunliffe or someone close to him, and the version in the Times also said of Cunliffe that he has “the individual FCA permissions of CF1, CF1(AR), CF10 and CF11”. People who know of such things are dubious of some of these Financial Conduct Authority accreditations.
But what of Paul and Rowena Williams, what are they up to? Very little, is the answer. For with Cunliffe taking over their mansion what do they have left? Perhaps only the Seiont Manor Hotel, run by faithful family retainer Rikki Reynolds, and rotting Fronoleu.
Seeing as Myles Cunliffe has taken over it was no surprise to learn that the registered address for Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd moved on 3 February from Plas Glynllifon. What was less easy to understand was why it moved back to Leintwardine and the palatial offices of convicted fraudster and accountant John Duggan.
Why couldn’t Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd have used the Seiont Manor Hotel as its address? One answer is that they don’t want bailiffs turning and carting away their goods. Though a further answer suggested itself when I realised that since 4 January there has been a new company called Seiont Manor Ltd, with an address in Manchester and Myles Cunliffe as sole director.
So who now owns the Seiont Manor Hotel? I’m not sure yet, but whoever it is, this switch probably accounts for the staff not getting paid. The excuse given by the Williams gang was that “a key funder / new investor had backed out”.
Given that the solicitor who sent me that letter before Christmas was also based in Manchester it could be that Myles Cunliffe was behind it. For while he knew that he was getting into bed with crooks, he may not have appreciated how bad the Williams gang’s reputation is.
Cunliffe must now realise that partly thanks to Weep for Wales 1 – 11 his chances of getting funding for Plas Glynllifon are slim (especially with Rowena Williams still on board) and from any governmental source zero. So what can he be planning to do with the old pile?
As yet, I don’t know. But I’m sure I’ll be able to tell you in Weep for Wales 12. Watch this space!
THE FALSE ECONOMY OF THE THIRD SECTOR
One defence of the third sector is that it ‘takes up the slack’ when central, devolved, or local government no longer provides a certain service, and to some extent that’s true.
But there may come a point when it would make more sense to take that responsibility back ‘in-house’, where a service might not only be provided for less in terms of financial outlay but also in a way that made it more transparent in its dealings, and open to public scrutiny.
This thought has occurred to me a number of times recently. And it came back to me yesterday when I read this pitch in the Western Mail for more funding from the CEO of a homelessness business.
Let’s start with the introduction, where it says, “Lindsay Cordery-Bruce, chief executive of Wales’ leading homelessness charity The Wallich, makes an impassioned call to recognise that our current systems of support to tackle the issue of rough sleeping in Wales clearly aren’t working”. And there are good reasons for why they aren’t working, as I shall explain.
After being introduced as CEO of “Wales’ leading homelessness charity” Ms Cordery-Bruce then, and rather confusingly, began her article with: “Across the UK, including in Wales . . . “. Why would the CEO of Wales’ biggest such charity, operating solely in Wales, and writing about homelessness in Wales, have to put her thoughts into a UK framework for a Welsh readership?
It makes no sense unless you appreciate that the Wallich, like most third sector bodies in Wales, operates in an Englandandwales framework, throwing Welsh money at what are often transferred English problems. (Housing associations are particularly guilty in this regard.)
But of course the Wallich is not alone, for as the ‘Welsh Government was only too pleased to tell me, there are no fewer than 48 homelessness charities / businesses operating in Wales.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that they’re all as big as the Wallich, but the Wallich is not without serious rivals. With all of them soaking up vast amounts of public funding. To illustrate my point let me walk you through the latest available accounts for the Wallich. (Keep this pdf file open in a separate window.)
Let’s start on page 8, where we see that the Wallich has £2,778,887 squirrelled away in investments. In addition, page 21 tells us that there is another £3,574,617 in readies. Whence cometh these shekels?
Well, page 29 informs us that in 2018 £7,981,735 came from the ‘Welsh Government’ and local authorities. Another £3,993,798 came from rents. This is clearly no hand-to-mouth charity, this is a serious commercial undertaking, and the commodity bringing in this money is homeless people.
That the Wallich is a big company and a major employer is made clear on page 31, where we learn that £8,019,182 went on staff costs (for 381 employees), of which Ms Cordery-Bruce herself pulled down £100,000+. (Though in the previous year the CEO who preceded Ms C-B seems to have been paid less than £80,000.)
To sum up, we have in Wales a homelessness industry made up of dozens of organisations, all reliant to a greater or lesser degree on public funding, and all with a vested interest in not solving the problem of homelessness because to do so would put them out of a job.
Which also means that if Wales cannot provide enough homeless then they will be brought in from England . . . as will the drug addicts, and the ex-cons, and the paedophiles and the problem families for housing associations and others.
Why does the ‘Welsh Government’ not put a stop to this obvious rip-off? Because there is electoral advantage to be gained from keeping Wales poor, which runs: ‘Look at all the homeless . . . see how poor Wales is? . . . it’s all the fault of them Tories . . . vote Labour!’
We have reached the stage where it would be far cheaper for the ‘Welsh Government’ to take direct responsibility in certain sectors currently exploited by an out-of-control third sector and bring down costs by actually solving the problem rather than by keeping it going for personal gain.
Because if Finland, a country not much bigger than Wales in terms of population, can solve it’s homelessness problems why can’t Wales?
Part of the answer must lie in the related facts that Finland has a government working in the country’s best interests and Finland doesn’t take in Russia’s problems.
P.S. There was a double-page spread on homelessness in today’s Western Mail, in which Ms Cordery-Bruce was extensively quoted. Here’s the WalesOnline version.
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