Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the picture darkens

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

Yes, I know I’ve promised Weep for Wales 13, and I’m working on it (there’s just so much to process), but fresh information on Gavin Lee Woodhouse justifies another post on the wonder boy of the Afan Valley Adventure Resort. (The AVAR website is ‘currently under maintenance’.)

WHERE WE LEFT OFF . . .

At the end of last month I published Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’ – you were warned!, with this piece following earlier postings of mine going back to April 2017, and more recent interest from the Guardian and ITV News.

There have been a number of follow-ups by both media outlets, with these being the most recent I can find: Serious Fraud Office assesses Gavin Woodhouse businesses in Thursday’s Guardian; with the same headline used by ITV News.

It is understood by all that Woodhouse operates by selling. or more usually leasing, rooms at hotels he owns. Had he been able to proceed with the Afan Valley Adventure Resort then he would have been selling/leasing more hotel rooms there, plus lodges or cabins. In fact, they were already being advertised, even though nothing’s been built. So have any been sold?

FISHGUARD

In my earlier piece I also said that I was unable to find the title document for the Fishguard Bay Hotel on the Land Registry website. I kept getting a ‘too many titles’ message which I attributed to rooms having been sold.

A recent comment to this blog assured me that the title document could be found, and eventually – by a counter-intuitive method I won’t bore you with by explaining – I did find it.

Fishguard Bay Hotel. Image courtesy of County Echo. Click to enlarge.

It tells us that the Fishguard Bay Hotel (actually in Goodwick) was bought 13 July 2017 for £966,720 by Wyncliffe House Hotel Ltd (formerly Fishguard Bay Hotel Ltd) a company formed 1 May 2016. We see that the company was formed over a year before Woodhouse actually bought the hotel, so presumably he was in negotiations. Or even on site prior to purchase?

If you scroll down on the title document you’ll see that leases for 45 rooms were sold in 2017. All of them 125-year leases, and irrespective of the date of sale all leases started on New Year’s Day.

Now obviously I couldn’t buy the title documents for all the rooms, so I limited myself to five. Which was enough to pique my curiosity. For the titles I bought, the prices range from £45,000 to £70,000.

All bar one were sold between 13 July 2017 and 28 September 2017; with the outrider sold 13 March 2018. Which could suggest impressive sales techniques, or even buyers already lined up.

Of the five, just one hints that it belongs to a genuine, small-time, private investor. This was the title document for an SSAS, which stands for Small Self-administered (pension) Scheme. The other four – certainly, three – looked iffy.

Judge for yourselves with the panel below made up of the relevant details from four of the five room title documents supplied by the Land Registry.

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The top two, one in Slovakia and the other in Poland, are impossible to check. They could be genuine buyers or they could be names plucked out of thin air, or from some database.

The two on the bottom supply UK addresses, but even so, something’s not right. The one on the left gives a Dubai address and ’24 Cheapside, Wakefield’. The one on the right gives a Welsh address, but also uses the Wakefield address. So what do we find at 24 Cheapside?

It’s a commercial building, with a number of tenants, among them the ‘Williams & Co’ mentioned in the document for the Dubai buyer. This is a firm of solicitors and everything seems to be kosher. My one concern being that the website does not give a Companies House number.

And then I stumbled on Williams & Co (Cleckheaton) Ltd, a company formed in January 2018. It’s registered at the address given on the Williams & Co website, with two directors and a further two shareholders.

Also found at 24 Cheapside, Wakefield is Immigration Advice Service (IAS), whose website, some might think, tries to give the impression that IAS is a UK government department, but it is in fact a private company.

Though, curiously, under ‘Nature of business (SIC)’, for IAS Companies House has: “69109 – Activities of patent and copyright agents; other legal activities not elsewhere classified”. What the the hell do patents and copyright have to do with immigration advice?

Immigration Advice Service was also registered as a charity, number 1033192. In fact, the company may be a ‘phoenix’ that grew out the defunct charity.

The cynic in me thinks that a company like IAS would be a great source of names and addresses for potential overseas buyers for hotel room leases . . . or even just names and addresses.

Others may argue that I’m clutching at straws here, but Woodhouse once had a company called MBI Immigration Services Ltd. So at the very least, he would appear to have shown interest in this line of business.

Let us head north now, to the Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy valley.

CAER RHUN

Let’s go straight to the title document, where we see that this hotel was bought for £1,500,000 with a loan from North West Asset Finance Ltd, which has a registered address in Todmorden, Lancashire, hard up to the frontier. I have stood there myself more than once and gazed into Yorkshire.

North West Asset Finance is hardly a rival to the big boys, for it’s a one-man band and the solitary director is Robert Ashley Hall. All the shares are owned by Shays Assets Ltd, another Hall company that takes its name from what I assume to be his home address, Shays Farm, near Skipton.

Caer Rhun. Image courtesy of Hitched. Click to enlarge.

Both companies were formed 11 February 2014, around the time Woodhouse embarked on his hotel-buying spree. While the accounts suggest that the only real asset may be the money loaned to Gavin Woodhouse to buy Caer Rhun.

Which made me wonder whether Hall and Woodhouse are known to each other. Sure enough, they are in business together. In a company called Gramra Ltd, formed by Hall 2 January 2018, which Woodhouse joined 13 June 2018.

When we look at who owns the shares in Gramra we find that at least half are owned by Woodhouse through the company Woodhouse Family Ltd, which has the controlling interest.

Woodhouse Family Ltd, where we find Gavin Woodhouse as sole director since his wife resigned last month when the shit hit the fan. For this company is alleged to have been the ultimate depository of some investors’ money, rather than the companies to which the money was ostensibly paid.

Shareholders in Gramra Ltd. Click to enlarge.

Returning to Caer Rhun, we find that 125-year leases have been sold on 57 rooms. Again, I downloaded the title documents for just five, and in price these range from £75,000 to £170,000. All were sold between July 2016 and August 2017.

The buyers we find in Bristol, Birmingham, and rather more exotic locations. Here are the three beyond these shores. Even if we accept that the one on the left refers to a UK couple living in Spain, that still leaves buyers in Italy and Taiwan.

Click to enlarge

To have so many overseas buyers is not in itself cause for alarm, but I can’t believe that someone in Taiwan or Dubai or Slovakia woke up one bright morning and said to himself or herself, ‘I know! – I’ll buy a hotel room in Wales!’ 

We all know about Arab sheikhs and Russian oligarchs paying millions for London mansions, so is a room from which you can watch the Rosslare ferry the fag-end of the market?

Joking aside, maybe the real questions are:

  1. Do these overseas buyers really exist?
  2. If they do, did they really pay any money or are their names being used?
  3. And if they did pay money, where did that money come from?
  4. And where did it go?

BELMONT HOTEL

As far as I can make out, Gavin Lee Woodhouse, through his various companies, owns six hotels in Wales. It’s reasonable to assume that the same business model of selling the leases on individual rooms is found in all of them. That is certainly the case at the Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby (aka Carmarthen Bay Hotel) and the Belmont Hotel in Llandudno.

I want to focus on the Belmont.

From the title document, we see that it was bought in 2015 by MBI Heritage Hotel Ltd (now Belmont Hotel Ltd) for £381,250. Though in the latest accounts it’s valued at £2.62m and shows a profit of £1.55m. Though as the Guardian told us, the increased valuations on other hotels are even more dramatic.

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At the Belmont, leases for 26 rooms were sold, all of them in an impressively short time in 2015, so another gold star for the sales team. I haven’t bought any title documents for these sales because I’ve already splashed out £36 on Woodhouse, and I’m sure the picture will be little different to what we found at Fishguard and Caer Rhun.

But what appears to be different at the Belmont is, first, that Woodhouse does not own the Belmont (I think it’s owned by Mostyn Estates), he only leases it. Which means he’s selling leases in a property he himself leases.

Click to enlarge.

Which raises the question of whether Mostyn Estates Ltd is aware of this interesting development. Or whether it’s even legal.

What also struck me about the Belmont was that there are three charges outstanding. The first, from 2015, is for Mysing Properties Ltd, which changed its name to Mysing Capital Ltd before two further loans in December 2018.

But why would Woodhouse need to take out loans on the Belmont, a property he’s leasing, and for which he’s more than covered his outlay with the sale of the rooms?

Whatever the answer, Mysing is based in Wakefield, on Woodhouse’s patch; where we earlier saw hotel room buyers linked to the Wakefield solicitors, Williams & Co. The latest unaudited abridged accounts for Mysing paint a very healthy picture, with net current assets of £16,501,830 and total net assets of £1,475,344. The difference accounted for by creditors owing £14,977,000. Creditors, presumably, like Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

But from where does Mysing Capital – a company only formed in July 2014 – get that kind of money? ‘Unaudited abridged accounts’ tell us very little. And it’s perfectly legal.

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There’s no question in my mind that the directors of Mysing Capital are known to Woodhouse, and that these ‘loans’ may not be the kind of loans you or I are familiar with.

UPDATE 15.07.2019: Mysing Capital links with a string of Mysing companies, many of which are in the care home business (as of course was Woodhouse). But these other companies seem to have been formed after Mysing Capital.

Which still leaves the question of where the original Mysing Capital money came from.

In addition to the loans and mortgages taken out with Mysing towards the end of last year Woodhouse took out other loans around the same time, these with the equally mysterious Fiduciam Nominees Ltd. Why do I call this lot ‘mysterious’?

Well, after reading this at the foot of their website, how would you describe them?

“The content of this website has not been approved by an authorised person within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Fiduciam does not enter into regulated credit agreements within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001.”

Fiduciam is a lender of last resort. If your bank turns you down you go to a company like Fiduciam. Which, as the Companies House entry tells us is in the business of ‘financial intermediation’.

This means that it finds borrowers for people who have money to lend. We can see who the borrowers are, but who are the lenders? Well, if we go to the latest available accounts, we read at the bottom of page 10:

Click to enlarge

“The directors (of Fiduciam) deem BWCI Pension Trustees to be the ultimate controlling party”. ‘Deem’? Aren’t they sure? Anyway, here’s the website for BWCI Pension Trustees Ltd.

Now don’t get me wrong, what Fiduciam and BWCI do may be perfectly legal (in an offshore kind of way), but – as with Mysing – where does the money originally come from that they loan to people like Woodhouse?

In the case of Fiduciam we’re asked to believe it’s pension funds, but in practice there’ll be few questions asked if a drugs baron, oligarch or member of a third world kleptocracy washes up in the Channel Islands looking for a good investment for his ‘pension pot’.

What we can say for certain is that in December last year, the nearest vehicles Woodhouse has to parent companies, Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd and Giant Hospitality Ltd got themselves heavily indebted to a company that finds desperate borrowers for offshore lenders whose money could come from anywhere.

Why did he need the money? Was it for the Afan Valley venture? If so, then Woodhouse is now well and truly up that narrow waterway known colloquially as Shit, with his business model exposed in the mass media, creditors beating on his door, and the Afan Valley Adventure Resort a fast receding dream.

Though the local council leader in Neath Port Talbot is wailing about the loss as though it’s somebody else’s fault! But then, that’s ‘Welsh’ Labour for you – always somebody else’s fault.

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My response was summed up in a tweet I put out on Saturday to accompany the article: “Listen, Rob, if you and your mates down Corruption Bay had done the basic checks into Gavin Woodhouse and you would have laughed him away and wouldn’t be ‘disappointed’ now. You’ve got no one to blame but your council and .”

EPILOGUE

When I first encountered Gavin Lee Woodhouse I thought he was a bit of a lad who’d over-reached himself. (As opposed to an out-and-out bastard like Paul Williams who ‘succeeded’ him at Plas Glynllifon.) Now I worry that there may be darker elements to his business ventures.

The foreign buyers for so many of his hotel rooms certainly start the alarm bells a-trembling. As does the lack of information about his financial backers.

But then, as I’ve said before, this is business, this is finance – English style. Where the City of London sits at the centre of a web of offshore tax havens and money-laundering centres that welcome anybody’s money. Once it’s in the system, with the origin disguised, that money can be used anywhere.

The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are the oldest, and nearest of these centres.

But this does not excuse the ‘Welsh Government’, which obviously did no due diligence into Woodhouse before giving him £500,000 for Caer Rhun and then welcoming him with open arms when he ventured to the Afan valley.

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Unless of course they were over-ruled from London. (It happens regularly.) Which would make them complaisant rather than gullible. Is that an improvement?

So it’s good-bye Gavin Lee Woodhouse, and hello, . . ?

For you can guarantee that the next Gavin Lee Woodhouse is already here spinning his lies and courting the politicians. And he’s not alone.

In Return Journey Dylan Thomas goes home to a blitzed Swansea searching for the places and people he knew. Eventually he reaches Cwmdonkin Park, where the park keeper responds to his questions about a boy from long ago with, ‘I’ve known him by the thousands’.

I’m beginning to feel like that parkie, due to all the crooks infesting our country. They keep coming because we have thick-as-shit politicians more concerned with shagging and back-stabbing than with making Wales honest, healthy and prosperous.

And a media unworthy of the name.

♦ end ♦

Gavin Lee Woodhouse, the ‘Wolf of Wharf Street’ – you were warned!

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

This was supposed to be a ‘quickie’ while I await a promised guest post on developments among the wind farms of deepest Powys. But as the information mounted up . . .

Most of you will be aware by now that Gavin Lee Woodhouse, who has a number of business interests in Wales, came under critical scrutiny last week from ITV News and the Guardian. He did not emerge smelling of roses.

Eventually the ‘Welsh’ media caught up with the story, here’s the BBC’s version and here’s WalesOnline’s contribution. (Note the positive spin in the headline.)

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Now I don’t wish to be too critical, but Woodhouse has been a busy boy in Wales for a number of years, so it’s not unreasonable to have expected an investigation into his ‘innovative’ business practices to have been done on this side of the border.

Pity the country with a ‘media’ that is nothing but a relayer of press hand-outs, a conveyor of soporific ‘human interest’ stories, and a disseminator of its masters’ propaganda; leaving an ancient nation to scratch around for the truth.

Come scratch with Jac.

Perhaps the first time Gavin Lee Woodhouse swam into our collective consciousness was when, while negotiating to buy Plas Glynllifon, in Llandwrog, south of Caernarfon, he announced his intention to rename the old pile ‘Wynnborn’. This declaration met with the kind of response that might greet ‘Four Green Fields’ being sung at Ibrox.

Plas Glynllifon, image courtesy of North Wales Live. Click to enlarge

To familiarise you with what Woodhouse has been up to in Wales here are a few of my offerings: English Tourism in the Colony of Wales (18.04.2017); a brief mention in YMCA England(andwales) (23.04.2017); Bits & Pieces (27.04.2017); Colonial Investments (23.07.2017); Updates 12.12.2017; Weep for Wales (13.06.2018); Friends old & new (28.01.2019).

Now let’s get up to date with the boy’s adventures.

HOW IT WORKS

Woodhouse’s business model is, essentially, selling shares in property he owns, or plans to build. If it’s a hotel then you buy a room and then rent it to Woodhouse. If it’s a care home or a residential home, then it’s a similar system but with the guest obviously staying for longer.

The attraction of this system for Woodhouse is that he can buy a run-down hotel cheaply, maybe at auction, and then by selling off rooms individually he can quickly recoup what he paid, and more, from ‘investors’.

For investors, high returns are promised. There is often a guarantee that Woodhouse will buy back your room after a certain period at the price you paid for it, or more.

This is the model employed at his Neuadd Caer Rhun hotel in the Conwy Valley, for which he received a ‘Welsh Government’ grant of £500,000 less than two years ago.

Neuadd Caer Rhun. Image courtesy of North Wales Live. Click to enlarge.

It makes a certain sense, but as with buying a timeshare, a great deal depends on the honesty of the vendor. And this leads us on to the allegations made last week.

WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG, ALLEGEDLY

In a nutshell, Woodhouse has taken money from investors for projects that do not exist. Or to put it another way, projects that are promised but never materialise. With much of the money paid into these projects disappearing after being shuffled around in the network of companies Woodhouse controls.

Explained here in this excellent graphic from the Guardian.

click to enlarge

As we see, £5.6m of the £14.8m investors have paid into the three non-existent care homes and £8.2m from connected companies made its way to MBI Consulting (UK) Ltd. This gives a total of £13.8m going into a company now in administration.

According to Companies House Woodhouse ceased to be a director of MBI 31 January 2016, but another document lodged with Companies House and dated 21 July 2016 makes clear that Woodhouse remains the majority shareholder. A further document of 08.08.2018 confirms that Woodhouse is the person exercising ‘significant control’. (All CH documents can be tracked from here.)

From MBI Consulting (UK) Ltd £1.2m went as a loan to Woodhouse himself while the rest, £12.7m, appears to have slipped through the gaps in the floorboards.

(Though the figures used are probably the latest available at Companies House. By now, all of the investors’ money might have headed south.)

AFAN VALLEY ADVENTURE RESORT

Perhaps the first time most people in the south heard of Gavin Lee Woodhouse was when, in April 2017, news broke of a tourism venture in the Afan valley behind Port Talbot.

The WalesOnline article had lots of ‘artist’s impressions’ and a video of the ‘Affan’ valley in the company of Paul Gardiner, managing director of the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. For that piss-drinking exhibitionist has been involved from the start.

A third principal was soon roped in in the form of Peter Moore, ‘the man who brought Center Parcs to Britain’. Whether that is to be regarded as an achievement I leave to others to decide.

One thing of which there can be no doubt is the ‘Welsh Government’s enthusiastic support for the Afan valley venture. The photo below comes from the website of Woodhouse’s Northern Powerhouse Developments and it shows ‘Welsh Government’ representatives meeting Woodhouse and Moore on the site of the planned ‘resort’ in April 2017.

Hustlers meet their ‘marks’. Click to enlarge.

As I hinted earlier, one of the problems in trying to make sense of Woodhouse’s business dealings is the sheer number of companies involved. A maze set up to deter the casually curious and make things difficult even for serious investigators.

Undaunted, I did a wee bit more digging, but stopped short of getting obsessively forensic.

One curiosity I uncovered was two parcels of land that seem not to connect with the 327 acres handed over for his ‘resort’ by Natural Resources Wales (i.e. ‘Welsh Government’).

These can be found under the ‘Charges’ against Afan Valley Ltd. One is an elongated triangle of land alongside the A4107 heading east out of Cymmer, valued at £25,000. Of more interest will be the other land, Caerau Park, valued at 250,000.

Companies House tells us that Afan Valley Ltd was born in April 2016 as Caerau Parc Ltd – with Woodhouse as sole director – and it changed its name in February 2017. Which means it was set up over a year before the Afan valley project became known about.

It’s reasonable to assume therefore that Caerau Park Ltd was set up for a purpose other than the Afan Valley resort.

The sliver of roadside land at Cymmer is owned by Afan Valley Ltd, and the lender is 360 Mi Ltd. The larger plot, Caerau Park, is on the slopes of Mynydd Caerau, to the east of the village of the same name in the Llynfi valley.

Image courtesy of OS via Land Registry. Unfortunately there’s no title plan available at the LR. Click to enlarge.

The owner of Caerau Park, according to the Land Registry, is Ontaris Resources Inc of the British Virgin Islands; but Companies House tells us – with regard to the charge – that the ‘Persons entitled’ is Clive Mishon. Clive Mishon is also the sole director and shareholder of 360 Mi Ltd, Incorporated 5 September 2017.

So who is Clive Mishon, who appears to hold both charges against Afan Valley Ltd? There’s not a lot of information available for him, here’s one of the few pieces I found. All we can say with certainty is that he’s an investor. (But not the kind of ‘investor’ who’d buy a room from Woodhouse.)

Given that the Caerau Park land has been owned by Ontaris since 2008, and Woodhouse set up Caerau Park Ltd in April 2016 – with the charge covering the transfer of ownership not taken out until December 2017 – was Woodhouse initially working for or with Ontaris?

And was Caerau Park the original site for the ‘resort’? For Mynydd Caerau is now part of the Llynfi Renewable Energy Park (wind turbines) run by John Laing.

Click to enlarge

Whatever the answer, by the early part of 2017 attention had obviously switched to the Afan valley. Borne out by Caerau Park Ltd becoming Afan Valley Ltd in February, with this followed by the public announcements involving the ‘Welsh Government’ just months later.

What explains this shift from the Llynfi valley to the Afan valley?

Perhaps the ‘Welsh Government’ can explain how the Afan Valley Adventure Resort first saw the light of day. For example, whose idea was it? Who made the first approach? Did the ‘Welsh Government’ entice Woodhouse from the Llynfi to the Afan?

And while they’re trawling through the files and the memory banks maybe someone can also explain why Caerau Park, ex-NCB land that passed to the ‘Welsh Government’ after devolution, was sold to a tax haven company in 2008.

Finally, maybe someone familiar with the upper reaches of the Afan and Llynfi valleys might have information I’ve missed, or information that is not in the public domain.

SCAMS AND FRAUDS?

Let’s return to Gavin Woodhouse’s business methods, which some might view as something similar to timeshare. And as we all know, timeshare was a largely unregulated sphere in foreign jurisdictions where perhaps the only way to avoid being fleeced was to rely on word of mouth recommendations from people you trusted.

Tangent alert! (As in, going off on one): A reason for timeshare being so risky was that a good slice of the business was in the hands of serious criminals, and used for money laundering. A few months ago, someone with experience in timeshare in the bad old days gave me this explanation.

“You see you could buy a week without anyone questioning anything and it was perfectly legal not to have to prove who you are – you just handed over what was then an average £25,000 for a week and signed a single sheet of paper. Now both these guys would have typically 120 units in a single development so they could handle £132 million through these units – that money was then cleaned in the system. Then every year you paid maintenance – another £600 or £3.2 million per site.

“Then the second spin would start in the auction and second hand market which was often when moms and pops took a hit. Even then none of it matters because under all these agreements if a site falls into a bad state then it goes back to the owners – who refurbish and start again. So it’s a perpetual sausage machine to clean money and they can call it what they want now i.e. points etc but its still the same thing.”

Worrying, isn’t it?

Now I’m not for one minute suggesting that Gavin Woodhouse is involved in that kind of thing, but selling individual rooms of hotels, and cabins at resorts, could be seen as a variation on a theme.

Because what’s to stop an unscrupulous operator selling the same room or cabin to any number of different people and then legging it with the money? Also, and unlike timeshare, there’s the advantage in this method that the investor doesn’t get to stay in his or her investment.

And when the property isn’t even off the drawing board – as with Woodhouse’s three care homes in north west England – then there’s no outlay whatsoever. All you do is sit there and let the money roll in!

Courtesy of the Guardian. Click to enlarge.

Even if we give Woodhouse the benefit of the doubt, and accept that he meant to deliver on his promises, the whole thing has still gone tits up for one reason or another.

But there’s a further worry with Woodhouse’s operations linked to the sudden and impressive increases in the valuations of his properties. As the Guardian put it . . .

Click to enlarge

Now that is impressive.

Unfortunately, I could find nothing for the Fishguard Bay hotel on the Land Registry website, and even when I focused in on the LR map I got a ‘too many’ message. Which could mean that there are a number of titles on the site following the sale of the rooms.

But would this account for the massive increase in the claimed valuation of the hotel? I don’t think so, after all, it’s still the same building.

Suspicious increases in property values like this can often be explained by mortgage fraud, where a property’s valuation is increased in order to pull down more in mortgages and loans, which of course are then not repaid.

(Those who followed Woodhouse at Plas Glynllifon, Paul and Rowena Williams, were heavily involved in mortgage fraud, even ‘selling’ properties to themselves! Just type ‘Weep for Wales’ into the Search box on top of the sidebar to catch up with this gripping saga.)

But it doesn’t seem to matter, it’s almost as if this is not real money.

It’s the black economy and it still buys big houses and Range Rovers, it pays for private schooling, and contributes to consumer spending. The UK government and the police know about it but nobody’s going to interfere unless the media takes an interest.

Which is why things are now looking so bleak for the Wolf of Wharf Street.

HOW DID HE GET AWAY WITH IT FOR SO LONG?

I don’t want to say, ‘I told you so’ . . . but I told you so. And I know that plenty of people in Cardiff Bay read my blog . . . if only to mutter ‘bastard’ under their breath while reaching for the voodoo doll.

But even before he appeared on my radar there were doubts about Gavin Woodhouse and his business methods. Read this 2015 article from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Did no one in Cardiff Bay carry out the simplest checks before rolling out the red carpet for Woodhouse? And the red carpet was most certainly rolled out, not only in the Afan but also up north where, as we’ve seen, the boy wonder was given a £500,000 grant by the ‘Welsh Government’ for Neuadd Caer Rhun hotel.

Reproduced courtesy of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Click to enlarge.

Where, not only was Woodhouse selling rooms in the hotel, he also wanted to build cabins or lodges in the grounds which, again, were to be sold off to investors.

Has he received any other little ‘favours’ while he’s been in Wales? Because he certainly likes Wales: he has at least six hotels, then there’s the Afan Valley Adventure Resort (for now), land at Caerau . . .

Or is it just that Wales is an easy touch, and that’s why we see the Woodhouses, and the Williams, and all the other crooks and shysters moving into our country?

But of course, it’s not us, not you and me, who are fooled by these people – it’s those running Wales, those who claim to know better than us, they are the ones who keep making these mistakes. Over and over again.

Or are they ‘mistakes’. It’s worth asking because is anybody really this stupid, or this incompetent?

A PRICE TO PAY?

If I was an investor who had lost money in the Afan Valley Adventure Resort or any other Gavin Woodhouse enterprise (in Wales or in England) I would claim compensation from the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

I suggest this course of action because Woodhouse might have used the Caer Rhun grant, and the welcome he received in the southern hillsides, to establish his bona fides in order to gull investors.

But simply by being so accommodating towards Gavin Woodhouse, and giving him our money, the ‘Welsh Government’ was telling the world that here was a man to do business with.

Creditors seeking pecuniary redress should in the first instance contact: Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Infrastructure and Skills, Welsh Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NQ.

Or if you’re in the vicinity, then pop in. Tell him Jac sent you.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 04.07.2019: It’s all fall down.

At a court hearing today three of Woodhouse’s companies, including Afan Valley Ltd, were placed instantly into interim administration. Judge Sally Barber said: “This appears to be a thoroughly dishonest business model and a shameful abuse of the privileges of limited liability trading. I am entirely satisfied by the evidence before me that this court must take immediate action.”

That’s telling him, Sal!

Shorts & Updates 05.02.2019; St Tatans, Weep for Wales 11a, the false economy of the third sector

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.

ST TATAN’S

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.

click to enlarge

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

This section was taken down after I received a hand-delivered letter after dark on the evening of March 26. This was obviously a ‘We know where you live’ kind of letter. After giving the matter further thought Weep for Wales 11a was reinstated on August 19. 

Here’s the letter I received.

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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.

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.

click to enlarge

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.

click to enlarge

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.

♦ end ♦

 

 

Friends old & new: Gavin ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse; James ‘Fforest’ Lynch; Shane Baker, ‘the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo’ and Jonathan Duggan

It’s always nice to meet up with old friends, and here are updates on three characters I’ve written about before, though I suppose it’s stretching it a bit to call them friends. And it also gives me the opportunity to introduce a couple of new faces.

This trip down Memory Lane will take us from Cardigan to Caernarfon and from the Afan Valley up to the Conwy Valley. (But if you want to stop somewhere for a cup of tea and a Welsh cake, that’s OK with me.)

What they have in common is that they have come to live among us and milk the public purse invest in our lovely homeland. We shall meet grant-grabbers and outright crooks all adding to the woof and weave of contemporary Welsh life.

This is another big piece but you don’t have to be greedy because it’s broken up into three distinct parts topped and tailed with this introduction and the conclusion.

GAVIN ‘WYNNBORN’ WOODHOUSE

Gavin Lee Woodhouse first intruded into the collective Welsh consciousness when, through his company MBI Hotels Ltd, he bought Plas Glynllifon near Caernarfon and tried to re-brand it ‘Wynnborn’. (Plas Glynllifon has been spectacularly unlucky in its recent owners, with the latest being Paul and Rowena Williams. Though they might by now have sold out to Myles Cunliffe. Explained in Weep for Wales 11.)

I didn’t write about Woodhouse at the time, but my interest was aroused when I learnt that together with Bore Grylls he was planning a big development behind Port Talbot. I first wrote about it in English tourism in the colony of Wales in April 2017, and followed it up in July with Colonial investments.

As time went on I began to suspect that Woodhouse was being edged out of the project, or being asked to take a back seat, because the front man soon became Peter Moore, “the man who brought Center Parcs to the UK”.

Neuadd Caer Rhun, click to enlarge

Maybe it was realised that Woodhouse, with the ‘Wynnborn’ albatross around his neck, his ‘chequered’ business record, and his tendency to come across as a bit of a wide boy, might not be viewed as a suitable recipient of Welsh public funding.

But you can’t keep him down. Soon after walking away from ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse bought Caer Rhun Hall early in 2016. And he was rewarded last year with a £500,000 wodge from the ‘Welsh Government’. Though a number of people are asking how this was justified, seeing as Woodhouse doesn’t own the hotel in the conventional sense. Let me explain.

Instead of the hotel letting the rooms to short-stay guests the rooms are sold to investors. Here’s a promo from Select Portfolio, and here’s a notice from Thomas Investments of Chester telling us that the rooms are sold out.

This business model was looked at by West Wales News Review in October 2017, for Woodhouse – through a worryingly large portfolio of companies – owns a number of hotels in Wales from Tenby to Llandudno.

Talking of his portfolio, according to Companies House Woodhouse has been involved with 47 different companies, of which 45 are current; while Company Check tells us he’s held 77 directorships altogether.

Either way, I believe that no one starts and closes so many companies in just seven years unless it’s done to confuse people, and to hamper investigation.

Company Check summary. Click to enlarge

In order to maximise his profits Woodhouse also wants to put overpriced sheds in the Caer Rhun gardens and call them ‘villas’. Though locals can’t understand why these nine ‘villas’ are being advertised for sale – they may even have been sold ‘off plan’ – when planning permission was refused on the 11th of January.

And yet, due to the plethora of companies it’s difficult to know which company is involved in which project. To avoid too much confusion let’s just stick with Caer Rhun.

The Daily Post article tells us the hotel was bought by Northern Powerhouse Developments Ltd in 2016. Here’s the Companies House entry. And here’s the entry for Northern Powerhouse Developments Adventure Resorts Ltd, and Northern Powerhouse Developments Adventure Resorts Management Ltd, and Northern Powerhouse Developments (Holdings) Ltd, and Northern Powerhouse Developments Hotels Ltd, and Northern Powerhouse Developments Marketing Ltd.

But if we go to this page for Caer Rhun Hall we see it linked with ‘Whisper Hotels’. There is a website for Whisper, but nothing registered with Companies House, so presumably it’s a marketing name, in which case I would expect the website to give the name of the controlling company. Of course it doesn’t.

Maybe Caer Rhun is owned by Woodhouse’s Giant Hospitality Ltd (formerly MBI Hotels Ltd). A company with net liabilities of £265,135 and Woodhouse as sole director. I make this suggestion because until last month Giant Hospitality was based at Caer Rhun before moving to West Yorkshire.

Another point of interest is Woodhouse’s funding. For the many charges against his companies are not with banks that you would recognise . . . or come to that, with any bank.

Woodhouse’s money comes from interesting sources like Fiduciam Nominees Ltd, Assetz Capital Trust Company Ltd and Mysing Capital Ltd.

Fiduciam Nominees of London seems to have little in the way of money, but has 516,000 issued shares, while on its Companies House entry its business is described as “financial intermediation“. Its directors are French, Dutch, Belgian and New Zealand. So your guess is as good as mine as to where the money really comes from.

Turning to Manchester-based Assetz Capital Trust Company Ltd, the latest (unaudited) financial statement declares no assets whatsoever. But as I say, it’s a trust, one of the shadiest of all financial vehicles.

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Unusually, perhaps, Mysing Capital Ltd appears to be a thing of substance. It’s one of a stable of companies using the Mysing name based in Woodhouse’s home patch of West Yorkshire. The latest accounts give total net assets of almost £1.5m . . . that is if you believe ‘unaudited abridged accounts’, the kind of ‘You can trust us, Guv’ submissions favoured by so many of those we meet on this blog.

Gavin Lee Woodhouse is a spiv, a man prepared to cut corners; he’s borrowing money from companies that are nothing more than middle men for ‘investors’ – yet the ‘Welsh Government’ is more than happy to fund this man!

JAMES ‘FFOREST’ LYNCH

Now let’s go back a little further, to July 2015, and Cardigan Castle – Ready to Fall? This was the first in a series of articles on the £12m renovation of the castle, a project that failed to enthuse many locals, who felt that its significance in Welsh history was being downplayed in order to promote the castle as a conference centre, wedding venue, and glorified B & B.

It was further suspected that the wrong direction had been taken due to the project being controlled by four women who seemed impervious to criticism and deaf to advice. These were dealt with in Gang of Four + One. The leader of the group was unquestionably local matriarch Jann Tucker of Aberporth.

Tangentially I mentioned James Lynch, who is married to Tucker’s daughter, Siân. Satisfied that he had no part in what was happening at the castle I took him off the hook and let him swim away. But now people tell me that he has become something of a predator himself in the pond that is Aberteifi.

James Lynch with Lord Elis Thomas. Click to enlarge

For Lynch seems to be branching out hither and yon, being photographed in the company of peers of the realm, which means we can guarantee that grants will follow. These will be in addition to the considerable amounts of lucre he’s already received from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.

And in this recent spurt of expansionism Oor Jimmie has pissed off a great number of people. (Did I not mention that Lynch is one of our northern cousins?)

Before dealing with his current and proposed ventures – and almost as many companies as ‘Wynnborn’ Woodhouse – let us consider James Lynch’s business background. I warn you, this gets complicated; but as ever, Jac has tried to make things clearer. For I have drawn up a document listing all of Lynch’s companies . . . or at least, all those I can find.

Now I’d better explain the document so that you can make sense of it. It’s here in pdf format. Maybe it would be best for you to open it in another window for easy reference.

You’ll see that there are seven column headings. Most are self-explanatory, ‘Inc’d’ means Incorporated; that is, the date the company was formed. Each company name forms a link, click to open an entry with Companies House or Company Check.

The final column, ‘Financial Health’, also contains a number of links, usually where there are outstanding charges. Where you read ‘N/A’, this refers to companies that Lynch left before they went tits up, or they may still be trading. So neither blame nor credit can be apportioned.

You will also see that some entries are shaded in yellow and others in violet, so let me explain this shading.

I assume that Lynch met Ms Tucker when both were in London, where they married and begat four sons. While there Lynch joined a number of companies where the common denominator seems to have been Ellis Elias, who I originally assumed to be Welsh. But on noticing a mention of Golders Green and a loan from an Israeli bank, I now believe that Elias is Jewish. The companies run by Elias, and an assortment of others, are shaded in yellow. Lynch’s involvement with them seems to have ended in 2003.

The companies that are unshaded – or in white – are usually Lynch companies. As are those in violet, but with this important distinction. The companies in violet have all received loans / debentures from Finance Wales. (Finance Wales has been renamed Development Bank of Wales.) In fact, in some cases it could be this funding that is keeping the companies afloat. These loans / debentures were all signed off by Val Thomas and all delivered on 2 April 2015.

Take the ‘Welsh Government’s Finance Wales out of the equation and Jimmy’s business record is anything but inspiring. Most of his non-FW companies – those unshaded – are dissolved, some with outstanding debts.

Or else, as you see under the ‘Financial Health’ column, the situation is ‘Unknown’, because I can find nothing on the Companies House website and I’m not prepared to pay Company Check for documents that may reveal little.

Then look at the four ‘Loft’ companies Incorporated 26.05.1999 – how do we explain that? Is he trying to confuse people, just like Woodhouse?

Another company that caught my eye was Beachbay Ltd. What I find odd is that Jimbo already had a number of charges against this venture before Finance Wales got involved. What’s more, we’re dealing with a property in London, which Lynch was presumably buying through those mortgages and loans.

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My view is that Finance Wales should have rejected any application from Beachbay Ltd, a London-based company operating property in London. And even though the office address has now – belatedly – moved to Cardigan the business is still in London.

I’m sure someone will make an enquiry about this. It might even be me! (Done!)

But how do we explain Finance Wales’s generosity? Well, it occurs to me that in controlling the regeneration of the castle Jann Tucker would have made many useful contacts in Cardiff. And so I suspect she helped facilitate the largesse bestowed on James Lynch, especially as her daughter is a director of most of the companies involved.

But what’s Jimmie been up to of late? Well we saw the photograph above of him with a veteran revolutionary who’s been valiantly fighting the system from within for nigh on fifty years. And to his credit, El Dafydd has taken the fight into the enemy citadel, where many close their eyes to avoid witnessing the carnage.

(Though nowadays he seems to be little more than Kenny Skates’ gofer.)

That photograph suggests tourism. But rather than re-purposing the places of worship mentioned in that article I linked to, and this one, the issue causing concern for a number of people in the Cardigan area is glamping. For Jimmie wants to erect glamping pods . . . in fact, he has already put up some without planning permission.

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Though the situation now appears to have been ‘regularised’, with permission granted, but with a number of conditions. Planning enforcement officers are still investigating the ones put up without permission!

In the piece I linked to from December you’ll read “Mr Lynch said he now employed around 50 people, most of them local young people”. While in the headline you saw the name ‘Pizzatipi’, so let’s pull these threads together and see what we get.

Pizzatipi is a pretentious fast food joint and bar by the Teifi in the middle of the town run by Lynch’s sons . . . though it’s closed until Easter (suggesting locals don’t use it). Maybe somebody should have asked Lynch how many “local young people” are employed now, in December and January.

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For of course Lynch is a tourism operator, and he may indeed provide dozens of jobs for young people . . . in the summer. Some of these youngsters will be local, others will be on a working holiday. Few will be paid above the minimum wage.

The word on the street is that Lynch has now bought the local mart grounds. He has no interest in livestock so speculation is rife as to his plans for the site. There is also speculation about where he’s getting the money from.

Whatever the exact source I suspect it will have ‘Welsh Government’ stamped on it.

A suspicion heightened by this truly ludicrous Visit Wales publication that has Lynch listed among “Heroic trailblazers: real-life legends of Wales”. In truth, he is a man with a mountain of debts, a trail of failed companies . . . but an influential mother-in-law.

We are entitled to ask the ‘Welsh Government’ why it is putting so much of our money into Lynch’s companies, and the companies of others like him, to build up property portfolios for themselves, but to create only low wage, no skill, seasonal jobs.

Does anyone seriously believe that ventures like Pizzatipi (closed ’til Easter), glamping, and all the other nonsense we’ve looked at will give us a healthy, balanced economy that can provide well-paid jobs for our people, allowing them to remain in their communities and compete in their local property markets?

As ever, answers on a post card, please.

UPDATE 30.01.2019: I am indebted to a source for drawing to my attention yet another of James Lynch’s projects, this one is on the Cardigan quayside. It involves, “Refurbishment, extension and change of use of warehouse, to include mixed-use development comprising of events space (sui generis), enterprise zones providing mixed use at ground floor and hostel and spa treatment room at first floor (sui generis).”

All details may be obtained by visiting the council planning portal, and then scrolling down. In addition to just about everyone within earshot of the proposed ‘events space’ the town council is also objecting, and even Natural Resources Wales has “significant concerns”.

It seems Jimbo is trying to branch out in all directions at once. Maybe the word I’m looking for is ‘overreach’.

UPDATE 31.01.2019: Here’s a reminder from 2017 of how Lynch and too many others operate:

  1. Decide on a plan.
  2. Go through the motions of the planning process.
  3. Irrespective of how that works out push on with your plan.
  4. If planning permission refused, insist on retrospective permission.
  5. Count on council caving in on the grounds of being unable to justify spending public money in pursuing a legal case against you.
  6. You get what you want.

The only way to ensure that Lynch and others can’t get away with it is to make a few, well-publicised examples of pulling down anything put up without authorisation – and making the guilty party pay.

The message would soon sink in.

SHANE BAKER, ‘THE BARGAIN BASEMENT BALDRICK OF NEBO’ AND HIS FRIEND JONATHAN JAMES DUGGAN

We first encountered James Lynch in 2015 and Gavin Woodhouse in 2017, now we’re going to catch up with someone we met much more recently. I’m referring to Shane Baker, who topped the bill in Miscellany 25.11.2018. The first time he’s topped the bill since his gig at Twerton Liberal Club. (You missed it!)

Shane describes himself as a film extra and his social media output makes it clear that he sits on the political far right, where the sun always shines and the favourite mobile ring tone is God Save the Queen.

Shane Baker’s Facebook page, click to enlarge

It would be easy to laugh at Shane Baker, Tommy Robinson’s rocking acolyte, but he mixes with people who treat others with contempt, break the law without a second thought, and flout planning regulations with impunity.

How they met up remains a mystery but Baker seems to act as general fixer for Jonathan James Duggan, formerly of West Yorkshire. In fact, so close are they, that I hear Duggan sometimes uses Baker’s name. Why would he do that, boys and girls?

Perhaps because he’s a crook, and the son of a crook. For Jonathan James Duggan (aka Ripley) is the son of John/Jonathan Joseph Duggan. Duggan père was sent down in 2005 for six years, and described in this report as a “professional fraudster”.

Duggan senior made the news last year when he was arrested in Benllech, taken back to Yorkshire and banged up again.

After his father was imprisoned in 2005 young Duggan took over the family business of ordering goods, selling them off, not paying the original supplier, then liquidating the company involved.

By now, the Huddersfield area in which the Duggans had operated must have become unwelcoming because by 2012 or 2013 we find Duggan junior in Nebo. At Bryn Llys, an unprepossessing property . . . for which there were soon big plans.

These can be seen below. As might be expected, Duggan had no intention of keeping to the planning application that had been approved.

The new property that has been built is now advertised as Snowdon Summit View. When there are guests Duggan moves his wife Emma and seven children into a nearby shed . . . and I mean, shed, with no windows. I’m told the local fire service came to inspect it – and did no more than install fire alarms for free!

I’m also told that Duggan’s wife uses a number of names other than Duggan.

Fire alarms were not all Duggan got for free. For I’m also told that Nest Cymru installed 35 radiators and a biomass system in the new house. Though someone else tells me there’s an issue with water pressure that means the advertised baths and laundry facilities are very much luck of the draw.

Though it’s worth pointing out that Duggan doesn’t actually own Bryn Llys. It’s owned by an Andrew Battye of Huddersfield, a business partner of the Duggans. Not only that, but Battye also owns the land bought to increase the curtilage of Bryn Llys. In fact, according to Company Check, Battye himself is based at ‘Unit 1, Bryn Llys, Caernarfon, LL54 6EH’. Does the council know about this?

Whoever owns Bryn Llys we can be reasonably sure that it was bought, the curtilage doubled, and the house trebled in size, with money from criminal activities. Which might explain the police raid last April. This occurred not long after Duggan declared himself bankrupt 

To take you further in this story it’s best that you have an idea of the lie of the land. So I’ve put together a few maps that will help you locate Bryn Llys.

The map at the top shows the location of the village of Nebo, which is just off the A487 running from Porthmadog to Caernarfon. The map in the centre shows the village and the narrow roads running to and from it, with Bryn Llys the scorched earth in the centre. At the bottom you see a close-up of Bryn Llys.

It didn’t always look like this. But Duggan has cleared away hedges, walls and other features to leave a wasteland with – I’m told – topsoil buried under hardcore! Why would he do this?

Possibly because Duggan plans a large tourist attraction for Bryn Llys, with holiday accommodation. But as you can see on the map, there is only a narrow track from his property to Ffordd Cors y Llyn, the single-track road running into Nebo (and a dead-end in the other direction). This need for a wider access road explains why he has tried to steal land from neighbours, or to intimidate them into selling land.

This campaign involves threats, forged documents, claiming land that is not his, felling trees and knocking down walls. All because a great deal of money has been spent on a property that is very unlikely to receive planning permission for the kind of project Duggan has in mind, even from Gwynedd’s supine planning department.

There’s a lot more I could have written, but this is enough for now. As yet, I don’t think Jonathan James Duggan has received funding from the ‘Welsh Government’. But it’s only a matter of time.

Oh! before I forget, a mate of Duggan’s who is also interested in land outside of Nebo is Aaron Hill, who owns/owned the old courthouse in Caernarfon and who was – according to WalesOnline – victimised by “anti-English racists”. In reality, Cofis objected to him throwing his weight around.

The first reference I can find for Hill is this from October 2011, related to Plas Gwynfryn at Llanystumdwy, the home of Tory MP Ellis-Nanney. Hill is described as an “expert” on bringing derelict buildings back to life.

AARON HILL. Image Robert Parry-Jones, click to enlarge

In the same year he bought St David’s church in Picton Terrace, Carmarthen for £1 making lots of promises. This report from 2017 suggests his ‘expertise’ had deserted him for nothing was ever done to the building and Hill was off-loading it.

In July 2015 he formed a company called Capel Troedyrhiw Ltd, which had an address in Radyr, Cardiff before transferring to Caernarfon and folding. It never traded and was just a shell company.

I can’t find any other company that Hill has been associated with and so I wonder where his money comes from. All information gratefully received.

CONCLUSION

We have a ‘Welsh Government’ with no policy for rural areas beyond letting things happen; which means they have no alternative but to welcome and fund the kinds of spivs and crooks you’ve read about here – and then pretend it’s a ‘strategy’.

Because there is such a good welcome I suspect that much of what the ‘Welsh Government’ would have us believe is ‘investment’ is in fact money laundering. With tourism and the buying of hotels and isolated properties seen as an ideal conduit for dirty money.

This takes place to a backdrop of most locals unable to afford a home, and increasingly denied social housing by the practices of housing associations; and so they either leave or struggle on in communities becoming less familiar year on year. Ethnic cleansing the clever way.

Decent jobs are scarce and there is no investment in anything that will benefit Welsh people . . . yet there is unlimited funding for this invading horde of crooks and shysters who are clearly above the law and beyond any restraint.

I’m no longer sure that politics, or political change, will be enough to save Wales from the engineered extinction that is approaching. Maybe something else is needed.

♦ END ♦

Weep for Wales 11

As promised, here’s the latest instalment in the Paul and Rowena Williams Against the World saga (for that’s how it begins to look). I had considered postponing this update, but so much information is coming in that I have to publish before I’m overwhelmed.

Now I’ll say what I always say at this point: if you want the story (so far!) then you’ll need to go back and work through Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8, Weep for Wales 9 and Weep for Wales 10.

WHERE WE ARE

For those who don’t have time to read the previous ten episodes here’s a quick summary.

Paul Williams and his wife Rowena are two crooks who built up a property portfolio by dubious means and then sold those properties to themselves at insanely inflated valuations in order to obtain loans and mortgages well in excess of the properties’ true worth. This money of course they pocketed.

Soon after the phoney sales ‘ransom strips’ were detached from the properties and allocated to other titles. These properties were held by Leisure & Development Ltd, a company now in administration.

Paul and Rowena Williams, click to enlarge

This portfolio included properties in Cornwall and Northumbria but the gang’s ‘heartland’ was Powys and over the border in Shropshire and Herefordshire.

They next branched out into Gwynedd, buying the woebegone Fronoleu hotel and restaurant near Dolgellau, the Seiont Manor Hotel at Llanrug, and the impressive Plas Glynllifon near Llandwrog. Posing as major property investors they also strung people along by showing interest in Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, but after the truth emerged about them they were unable to raise the money to complete the purchase.

Realising the game was up, and having pissed off just about everyone they ever dealt with in the March they severed their ties and physically removed themselves to the Realm of Eagles.

In a further attempt to wash their hands of things Paul and Rowena Williams went through the charade of selling their Leisure & Development Ltd property portfolio for £11m to old friend, and convicted fraudster, Keith Partridge.

Having introduced Keith Partridge there are other characters we’ve met along the way who are worthy of mention. There’s Paul Williams’ sister, Debra Oswald, who seems to slip in and out of this saga, having served as director, partner, accountant, even creditor.

Paul and Debra’s father Michael has a hotel business in Goa. (Though it may have been struck off.) It would be interesting to know how he gets on with the locals, because on issues of race and colour he is said to have been expelled from the KKK for being too racist.

We’ve already met one fraudster in the form of Keith Partridge, another in the ensemble is the Williams’ accountant John Duggan. And if that wasn’t enough, the Waves Bar in Cornwall is run for them by Stuart Paul Cooper, of whom more later.

Then there’s faithful Rikki Reynolds, who runs the Seiont Manor. He drinks too much, he is dependent on drugs, but they keep him on. I refuse to believe the rumour that this may have something to do with Rikki being close to Rowena.

Not to be overlooked is Dudley Cross. His Linkedin profile would have us believe that he works for property specialists Lambert Smith Hampton, but he’s been involved with Paul and Rowena Williams for many years. He served as a director (until 01.02.2018) of Leisure & Development Ltd, and even donned his peaked cap to act as guide for Plas Glynllifon’s open day in June.

It is widely believed that it was his – and perhaps more especially, LSH’s – imprimatur that persuaded lenders to accept the absurd valuations we shall soon examine in more detail.

click to enlarge

In addition to being crooks, the Williams couple and Rikki Reynolds are repulsive individuals. They take pleasure in humiliating people. It sometimes seems that their greatest pleasure is derived from hurting those least able to defend themselves.

One such case was the treatment meted out to a kitchen porter at the Seiont Manor, a man with learning difficulties who had worked there for over twenty years, but Rowena Williams wanted him out.

It ended at an Employment Tribunal in September where the man was awarded £27,907.42 . . . money he is unlikely ever to see.

As might be expected, these odious creatures have been funded by the ‘Welsh Government’ and have received one uncritical report after another from the ‘Welsh’ media, with Owen Hughes of the Daily Post deserving of special mention.

Now read on.

PSST! WANNA BUY A HOTEL, GOIN’ CHEAP?’

So what have I got for you this time? Quite a lot as it happens.

First, let’s remind ourselves that the empire is crumbling and apart from the Gwynedd properties and a few outliers everything else seems to be in the hands of receivers and up for sale.

Those receivers being RSM, who are now selling the properties through the company Colliers. Click on the links for details for each of the properties: The Salutation Inn (and caravan site), near Berwick; The Waves Bar, in Cornwall; The Bird in Hand, Ironbridge; The Castle Inn (and caravan park), Wigmore; The Knighton Hotel, Knighton; The Radnorshire Arms Hotel, Presteigne.

Let us focus on the two Powys properties, as we have for most of this saga. You will recall that these properties were sold by Paul and Rowena Williams to Leisure & Development Ltd, and the prices they claimed to have paid in 2015 were £2,881,599 for the Knighton and £3,487,049 for the Radnorshire.

Radnorshire Arms Hotel, Presteigne, click to enlarge

RSM is now recommending sale prices of £550,000 (-£2,331,599) for the Knighton and £700,000 (-£2,787,049) for the Radnorshire. That’s a fall of £5,118,648 . . . and of course RSM might not even get the prices they’re suggesting, because there are plenty of pubs and hotels for sale at the moment, then there’s Brexit looming, maybe a general election . . .

How do we account for such a massive drop in valuations?

As I explained, the earlier valuations were dreamed up in order to get loans and mortgages for properties that Paul and Rowena Williams already owned, but pretended to buy through Leisure & Development Ltd.

Equally fictitious was the sale of those properties earlier this year for £11m to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge.

Which is how we end up in the bizarre position of Paul and Rowena Williams appearing as creditors to the tune of £11m of the company they claim to have sold to Part(d)ridge.

But then, there’s a certain symmetry to all this. Because if you can sell something to yourself why can’t you owe yourself money?

The only good news for Paul and Rowena Williams might be that Dyfed Powys Police are not pressing charges. Though quite what Plod was investigating in relation to “the sudden closure of hotels” previously owned by Paul and Rowena Williams is a mystery.

The only clue in the Daily Post report is “Tourism Investment Support Scheme grants”, which was never a runner.

FRESH NEWS, SAME OLD STORY

As I said earlier, I’ve received a steady trickle of information about Paul and Rowena Williams and their gang. Here are just some of the things I’ve been told since the previous instalment.

From an anonymous source:

“She (Rowena Williams) may well be autistic . . . She is morally empty, and I think that her son —— (who is a lovely lad) really deserves a more honest set of parents . . . I realise that this doesn’t really count as a story, but I was so annoyed at the Radnorshire Arms ending up like it is that I wrote to you . . . I was actually hurt by the experience . . . Please keep up the good work!”

A recent comment to Weep for Wales 9:

click to enlarge

Message to my ‘Contact Me’ box:

“Message: before i start I wish to remain anonymous about what I say. from November 2016, to November 17, I worked as ————————– for rural retreats and leisure, I can comfirn that HMRC had in fact been in touch with the Williams’s prior, as in july 2017, myself, and all the other live in staff of the knighton hotel, where subject to an investigation, regarding how our rent was paid. after HMRC had come back with the decision that there had been wrong doings in regard to how our rent was being taken. they told the Williams’s that we were owed back pay, as they were taking rent out of our wages as a deduction of wage, not as actual rent, of which became clear that I was being paid below the national minimum wage. shortly after this, the Williams’s slowly starting to dispose of us. myself being fired for gross misconduct on made up allegations with no evidence whatsoever. they practically forced a family of 4 to find a new house in the area, and pushed the head chef in an attempt to get him to quit, effectively taking us all out of the equation. I have been following all of your weep for wales, and everything you have said makes complete sense. on the outside, Rowena pushes a persona of care for staff, but on the inside, both of them are only looking out for them selves. I hope this interests you in your continuing saga.”

(A source with inside information was able to tell me that the total amount owed to staff was £58,594.)

Something you soon learn about Paul Williams and the “morally empty” Rowena is that they don’t like paying staff, suppliers, tradesmen, anybody. What’s theirs is theirs . . . and what’s yours is also theirs.

It seems that creditors were encouraged to have meals and drinks at Paul and Rowena Williams’ establishments, with the cost then deducted from the amount they were owed. One source tells me of walking into the bar of the Knighton Hotel one time and seeing nine creditors quaffing away!

Just picture it! Barmaid: ‘Another large whisky, Mr Jones? That’ll be £76, and it brings the amount Mr Williams owes you down to £5,732.68 – you’ll soon be owing him!’

There is something surreal about such a scene, though trying to turn your creditors into alcoholics has a certain logic – they might forget about the debt!

And of course, another twist is that Paul Williams wasn’t paying for the booze anyway! I’ve heard one sad story of a rep from Molson Coors being threatened with physical violence for daring to ask for the money he was owed.

A documented example I can give of Williams not paying his debts arrived last week from Grafters Group Ltd, a company that supplies staff to hotels. This company eventually had to resort to court proceedings in the hope of getting the money owed by Paul and Rowena Williams. Needless to say, they’re still waiting.

Take Jac’s advice: If you’re selling to these buggers, supplying goods or doing work for them – make sure you’re paid in cash, up front, and then check the notes to make sure they’re genuine.

A number of times in this series I’ve mentioned the distressed Fronoleu hotel and restaurant at Tabor, outside Dolgellau, bought by Paul Williams at auction in 2015 for over £300,000 and paid for in cash.  I also mentioned a seven-bedroom house alongside Fronoleu. Through another new source, I now know who lives there.

Fronoleu, click to enlarge

This person works for Paul Williams at the Seiont Manor, and as with so many other employees false declarations are made with regard to wages in order to save Paul and Rowena Williams money and cheat HMRC.

And yet, it seems Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs are aware of the Williams Gang’s tricks but are reluctant to move against them.

THE UGLIER SIDE

Paul and Rowena Williams are so transparently dishonest, so blatantly corrupt, that it’s difficult not to laugh at them, but there is a nastier side to the operation.

We’ve seen that the Waves Bar in Cornwall is for sale, with RSM asking for “offers in excess of £500,000”. Which seems reasonable, as it comes with “five apartments and a shop”. Though few things are straightforward with Williams, and the Waves Bar is no exception, for I’m told there are questions over the ownership of some of those apartments.

For some time now the Waves Bar has been run by Stuart Paul Cooper. Another associate with a colourful past. He came unstuck in 2012 when working as a debt collector. This Insolvency Service document suggests he then went on the lam.

Cooper eventually appeared in court and was sent down for three years in 2014. Later that year Companies House disqualified him from being a director until November 2022.

But of course none of this was an obstacle to him being employed by Paul and Rowena Williams. Being a fraudster with a penchant for violence made Stuart Paul Cooper the kind of recruit they look for.

Picture courtesy of RSM, click to enlarge

The latest news from Cornwall says that Cooper is behaving true to form. He recruits young staff, overworks them, underpays them, sacks them, and when they come asking for what they’re owed he threatens to kill them and anyone who dares to speak up for them.

Where the takings go from the Waves Bar is a good question. For there is a suspicion that since the collapse of Leisure & Development Ltd Cooper may be flying solo. Another question is whether suppliers are being paid.

But what really puzzles me is why liquidators RSM allow Cooper to remain at The Waves Bar, because the reputational damage this man is doing will not be put right by an ‘Under New Management’ sign.

A CAST OF CROOKS, THUGS AND SHYSTERS

You’ve met the leading players in this story, I’ve given you examples of what they’ve done and how they behave. I’m sure that like me you’re wondering why they aren’t behind bars where they belong.

For some reason the police, HMRC and others seem to look benignly on ‘white collar’ crime, they may even persuade themselves that such offences are ‘victimless’. But that’s wrong.

This gang has lied and cheated for years, and it’s not just banks and other lenders that have lost out. Decent, hard-working people – often vulnerable people – have been exploited, cheated of money they were owed, thrown onto the street, and put in fear of their lives when they sought redress.

From a social media account of a Williams gang employee, click to enlarge

But these gangsters laugh at us all as they drive around in their new Range Rovers and their Beemers with personalised number plates. They take us all for mugs.

There is something very wrong with the legal system of Englandandwales that it allows such people to go unpunished, and to prosper. It’s a system providing courts and tribunals that say, ‘Yes, we agree that these bastards owe you money, we’ll even fix the amount . . . but there’s nothing we can do to make them pay’.

While police and governmental agencies look the other way when criminal offences are brought to light.

We obviously need a different system; a better system; a Welsh system.

♦ end ♦

APOLOGY: I’m sitting on a number of good stories that I’m just unable to do justice to because I don’t have the time. Please understand that I’m not deliberately ignoring anyone, but as a one-man band with family and other commitments there’s only so much I can do.

UPDATE 03.12.2018: Soon after publishing I had a rush of e-mails from Companies House. Paul Williams ceased to be the ‘Person with significant control’ for both Plas Glynllifon Ltd and Rural Retreats & Development Ltd on November 30. Myles Andrew Cunliffe is a new director of both companies.

Cunliffe is also a director of Lifestyle 4U Finance Ltd, net current assets -£3,949; Get Me Finance Ltd, net current assets £11,648, with the website telling us that this company offers finance to those with a poor credit rating, and Paul Williams definitely falls into that category; and finally there’s Mylo Capital Ltd, Incorporated 20 September 2017.

Myles has been a busy boy in 2018. Between April and August he became a director of, and is is now sole director of: Pacha Sunderland Ltd; Etaireia Holdings Ltd (a company with a Scottish number); Girvan Dev Ltd; and Pacha Cleator Ltd. Then in October it was Network Transport and Logistics.co.uk Ltd.

Among Cunliffe’s previous successes we find Goldmann & Sons (Portugal) Ltd, with Companies House awaiting documents; J D Finance Ltd, wound up in 2007; Welcome 2 Car Finance Ltd, struck off in 2016; and H.O.H. Assets Ltd, also struck off in 2016.

I’m sure young Myles will be a colourful addition to the cast.

FURTHER UPDATE 03.12.2018: A message to my ‘Contact Me’ box reads: “Im told paul is telling workmen that work available as he got a mortgage on the 30th nov”.

I think we can safely rule out any possibility of Paul Williams getting a mortgage or a loan from a reputable lender, so it’s reasonable to assume that any fresh money is linked with the arrival on the scene of Myles Andrew Cunliffe.

Weep for Wales 10

When I wrote ‘Weep for Wales’ back on June 13 I never thought it would turn into the blogging equivalent of War and Peace, but here we are at number 10.

And if you want to know how we got here, if you want the full and unexpurgated story, then you’ll have to wade through what has gone before: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8, Weep for Wales 9.

In this latest episode I shall focus on two important matters. First, details of the liquidation of the Williams’ company Leisure & Development Ltd; followed by an Employment Tribunal held last month that saw a former employee of Paul and Rowena Williams given a substantial compensation package.

But first, let’s remind ourselves where we’re at in Gwynedd.

HOLDING OUT ON THE NORTHERN FRONT

In the previous episode I let my imagination run riot and presented you with the image of Paul Williams as Jean Gabin in Le Jour se Lève, holed up in his grubby little room waiting for the cops. But I may have jumped a scene or two because a northern source tells me that the crook may not be finished.

While the purchase of Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch has certainly fallen through the odious couple still has crumbling Plas Glynllifon, not forgetting the Seiont Manor Hotel, where we find faithful family retainer Rikki Reynolds snorting away.

The other Gwynedd property, Fronoleu, near Dolgellau, owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, seems to have been totally abandoned. Certainly the hotel/restaurant is left to rot, but the site includes a seven-bedroom house that is occupied.

The great obstacle to development here is that Fronoleu can only be reached by the single-track lane running between Dolgellau and the Cross Foxes junction of the A487 with the A470. It’s highly unlikely that any traffic-increasing development will be allowed.

Fronoleu, click to enlarge

What my source directs me to on the sprawling Glynllifon estate is land and buildings owned by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, operating Coleg Glynllifon. Specifically, the old stables, now used as the canteen. I’m assured that Williams is showing interest.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai has said nothing throughout this saga, but unless there’s a rabbit to pulled from the hat it’s difficult to explain why Paul and Rowena Williams are hanging on at Glynllifon.

Unless it’s because they have nowhere else to go.

‘RANSOM STRIPS’ AND RE-ENTRY PROBLEMS

A feature of Paul and Rowena Williams’ behaviour is the practice of detaching a small section from a larger holding in order to make a separate title. This then compromises the value and desirability of the larger holding without the smaller section. And of course it correspondingly increases the value of that smaller section.

In such situations, the smaller section is usually referred to as a ‘ransom strip’. This situation can often occur quite unintentionally, but in the case of the Williamses it is deliberate.

This charge, 0938 9316 0007, taken out by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd as recently as July, helps explain what I’m talking about. You’ll see that it’s made up mainly of ‘ransom strips’, small pieces of land compromising larger plots.

Let me further explain what I’m talking about with a specific example.

One of Paul and Rowena Williams’ properties is/was the Castle Inn at Wigmore, just over the border in Herefordshire. If you look at this title plan it shows clearly the original boundary, but it’s equally obvious that a chunk has been taken out.

This was done in 2015, that year when new companies were being formed, properties being bought and sold.

The main part of the Castle Inn, title number HE53573, is owned by Leisure & Development Ltd, the company in liquidation. The ‘ransom strip’, title number HE31873, is owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, of Plas Glynllifon, directors Paul and Rowena Williams.

Moving back to Powys and the Knighton Hotel, it might seem difficult if not impossible to own a ‘ransom strip’ affecting a substantial building slap in the middle of town. But they’ve done it.

The hotel comprises both the stone building you see on the left and the half-timbered building on the right.

click to enlarge

Within the Knighton Hotel Paul and Rowena Williams own the ‘Norton Showroom’ on the ground floor at the far right, a flat above, and it’s also believed they have the run of the cellars. The flat is owned in their names and shown in blue in this title plan for the hotel. Here’s the title document for the showroom or shop.

In Presteigne, at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, the Gruesome Twosome still owns the old garage building and car park directly opposite the hotel. I’m told that there was once a plan for four town houses on this plot.

This town houses plan seems to have been drawn up but never submitted for planning approval. And I’ve heard of other schemes that never took flight. All of which adds to the image of Paul Williams as a bit of a fantasist, or as I described him in the previous post, “a sinister kind of Walter Mitty”.

Radnorshire Arms garage and car park. Courtesy of Google Earth, click to enlarge

If they were to turn the Knighton Hotel shop into a dildo emporium, or allowed Travellers to set up camp in the Radnorshire Arms car park, Paul and Rowena Williams could make their former properties very unattractive to potential buyers.

But just owning these ‘ransom strips’ – coupled with their reputation for deviousness – may be enough to deter many buyers. And as I say, the situation we see today was planned years ago by slicing parts off the original titles, almost anticipating the scenarios I’m describing.

So I suppose that if nobody wanted to buy the properties, then Paul and Rowena Williams, or someone acting for them, might be able to buy them back very cheaply.

I’ve just mentioned Leisure & Development Ltd, the owner of these assorted properties being in receivership, so let’s consider the latest developments.

An administrator was appointed on August 18 and the administrator’s proposals became available on the Companies House website on September 20. These proposals are worth reading because they give quite a full run-down of the situation. Since then the proposals have been approved, though that document was not available on the CH website at the time of writing.

Under Section 2 ‘Events leading up to the administration’, we read that, “The various properties were purchased between July 2015 and February 2016 for a total sum of £11,887,828 (as per documents registered at the Land Registry).” But then we read, for year ending 31 January 2018, the company had fixed assets of £16,894,195 (against £23,119,820 the previous year). While in Appendix C we read that the book value of the freehold properties is £13,908,979.

Let’s look at the 2015 purchases. As we’ve seen, the properties ‘bought’ in 2015 were simply transferred from one Williams vehicle (usually their personal ownership) to another at greatly inflated prices in order to pull down mortgages and loans. For example, the stated purchase price of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was £3,487,049. It’s worth a third of that on a good day.

Inflated purchase prices were part of the scam, a way of laundering money. But if the properties were bought in 2015 at ludicrously high prices how can their book value today be even higher? Are the administrators afraid to have independent valuations done?

And if the properties were grossly overvalued in 2015 at £11,887,828 where the hell does the fixed assets valuation for 2018 of £16,894,195 come from? (And £23,119,820 the year before!) The answer is, Paul and Rowena Williams’ trusty accountant, John Duggan, a convicted fraudster, who robbed an elderly widow of some £700,000.

In fact, the accounts for Leisure & Development Ltd are worth us dallying awhile. The first submitted accounts are for year ending 31 January 2016 and are the accounts for a dormant company, despite all the ‘purchases’ made in 2015. These accounts were submitted by Debra Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister.

The next accounts, up to 31 January 2017, come from the dancing quill of John Duggan. Now we see a figure of £23,119,820 in fixed assets, and £23,906,551 owed to creditors.

Er, no, they were not ‘purchased’ because Paul and Rowena Williams already owned these properties. click to enlarge

Those creditors reappear in the administrator’s report. First comes NatWest Bank plc, owed £6,202,405. Next in line is Together Commercial Finance (no sum stated). But Paul and Rowena Williams are also hoping for a strip of the carcass with a claim for no less than £11,751,698.

The money owed to Paul and Rowena Williams can only be the money from the ‘sales’ in 2015, when they sold properties to themselves at inflated valuations. Does this really count as an acceptable debt?

Think about it for a minute; what they’re saying, in effect, is: ‘We transferred properties from ourselves to a company we’d formed and of course we didn’t pay anything – it was just a scam to get mortgages and loans – but we’re still hoping someone will view us as legitimate claimants on the assets of our former company’.

This report we’ve looked at from the liquidators, RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP, is misleading as it relies on insane valuations and a fraudster’s figures. This is either a mistake on RSM’s part or else it suits someone’s agenda to accept the Williams narrative and the Duggan figures.

Spaceship Williams should return to Earth when potential buyers are asked to make offers for the various properties. I guarantee no one will offer anything like £3.5m for the Radnorshire Arms, irrespective of whether the McGillycuddy clan is enjoying a hoolie in the car park.

STRAIGHT OUTTA DICKENS

I have commented many times on the contemptuous way in which Paul and Rowena Williams treat those who work for them, and being an absolute bastard is something that also comes easy to their trusted lieutenant, Rikki Reynolds.

And it’s not just those who work for them that suffer; it’s neighbours, suppliers, and just about anybody else they can take advantage of. The Williams pair and Reynolds believe they can do whatever they like, to whoever they like, whenever they like, with no consequences.

They often take a sadistic pleasure in humiliating people.

I think I may have mentioned a kitchen porter at the Seiont Manor Hotel, a man with learning difficulties, who was forced out last year after working there for over 22 years. Now I can give you more details and also tell you how that story developed.

The background is that Rowena Williams intimidated this poor man into accepting a reduction in his weekly hours from 30 to 9 and then dismissed him on August 9 2017. He went to the Citizens Advice Bureau and it all ended up with an Employment Tribunal at Mold on September 5 this year.

Below you’ll see a financial summary of the verdict, and you can read the full document here, with the claimant’s name and the case number redacted.

click to enlarge

As I say, the tribunal took place on September 5, and as you read the Judgment you’ll see that Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd has 14 days from the ‘calculation day’ of September 7 to pay the stipulated sum. If no payment is made within this period then interest of 8% starts accruing.

You’ll note that no one from the Williams side turned up at Mold County Court, which is how they operate – they ignore letters and demands, they refuse to attend arranged meetings, they find excuses for not having complied with instructions: ‘Oh, we didn’t realise’ . . . ‘Nobody told us’ . . . ‘Obviously a misunderstanding’.

It’s the old tactic of ignoring something long enough in the hope it’ll go away; which it often does when you’re dealing with local authorities and the ‘Welsh’ Government.

You’ll also note that the judgment was made against Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd, yet this company changed its name on March 17 2015 to Polvellan Manor Ltd. And before becoming Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd in 2007 it was Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd, formed in 2002, this being the Williams’ original company, and indeed their only company until 2015.

Seeing as this was the company name on the dismissed kitchen porter’s pay slips it means that Paul and Rowena Williams were still using a company name that had been changed over two years earlier. Is this legal?

Paul and Rowena Williams were directors until April 1 2018, when they stepped down, maybe in the hope of escaping the impending employment tribunal. The sole director now is the ever-obliging, convicted fraudster, Keith Partridge, who took over on the same day as Paul and Rowena Williams ceased to be directors.

Whatever the motives for recently putting Partridge in charge, the fact remains that when the offences dealt with by the employment tribunal were committed in 2017 the only directors of Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd/Polvellan Manor Ltd were Paul and Rowena Williams.

But you still have to wonder why Partridge agreed to let his name be used as skipper of the Titanic when the iceberg was already in sight.

It should go without saying that the former Seiont Manor kitchen porter is not optimistic about getting his money. Which is a sad reflection on the Englandandwales legal system, because I believe the law should provide some guarantee of payment.

UPDATE 08.10.2018: Someone has just pointed out an inconsistency in the Employment Tribunal document. At the head of the document, under ‘Judgment’, it refers to ‘Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd’, (now Polvellan Manor Ltd) but scroll down, to ‘Notice’, and the company mentioned is ‘Rural Retreats & Leisure Uk (sic) Ltd‘.

click to enlarge

I shouldn’t think that this invalidates the decision. After all they’re both Williams companies, but it does remind us of the danger of dealing with companies with very similar names. And of course, it’s why shysters like Williams have companies with confusingly similar names.

The Daily Post has now caught up with the story.

WHERE WE ARE TODAY

The current situation can be summed up as follows:

  • Paul and Rowena Williams are holed up at Plas Glynllifon, a massive pile they have estimated will cost £20m to refurbish.
  • Apart from Plas Glynllifon they have no (known) assets other than assorted ‘ransom strips’, abandoned Fronoleu, and the Seiont Manor Hotel, with the latter being run into the ground by drug-dependent Rikki Reynolds (who is indulged because he knows where the bodies are buried).
  • Debts are piling up, and money is running short, which is why they were unable to complete the purchase of Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch.
  • On top of all their other problems they now have the mounting debt of the Industrial Tribunal.
  • The Police are investigating.
  • And now I hear that HMRC is also taking an interest.

In last week’s post, Plaid Cymru’s enemy within, in speaking of Anne Greagsby, I wrote, “I can’t say I know Anne Greagsby, I’ve met her just once . . . she was in good company, which I’m old-fashioned enough to believe is a useful indicator of a person’s character.”

That holds true for everyone, and when we look at Paul and Rowena Williams, who do we find them associating with? Well, there’s Rikki Reynolds, and I have been told stories about this bastard that I would love to tell, but in doing so I might compromise a source. I just wish I was free to tell you about the gardener.

Paul and Rowena Williams’ accountant is convicted fraudster John Duggan. Long-time associate and business partner, the man who supposedly bought now liquidated Leisure & Development Ltd, and who has also agreed to be sole director of Polvellan Manor Ltd is Keith Partridge, another convicted fraudster.

Down in Cornwall, running the Waves Bar for them, we found Stuart Paul Cooper – yet another fraudster! And who is the mysterious Michael Jones, sole director of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd? I’m prepared to bet that he has an interesting biography. Then we have Paul Williams’ sister, Debra Oswald, and his parents with their iffy hotel business in India.

Finally, there is Dudley James Cross, whose Linkedin profile says he works for property company Lambert Smith Hampton, but he’s been an associate of Paul Williams since at least 2008, he was even showing people around Plas Glynllifon on the Open Days in June, and he has served as a director of the company now in liquidation, Leisure & Development Ltd. It is widely believed that he had a hand in the absurd valuations of the properties Paul and Rowena Williams ‘sold’ to themselves in 2015.

These are not business people who’ve taken ‘short cuts’ or made the odd mistake; these are not honest folk who fell in with rogues – these are crooks, pure and simple. They should be behind bars.

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 9

It’s been a while since I wrote the previous instalment in this saga, August 6th to be precise, and even though I have no earth-shattering revelations for you, it’s clear that we are moving towards a conclusion.

But for newcomers – or even even regulars who may have forgotten how we got to where we are – here are links to the previous instalments: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8.

In addition to this latest post being an update on the saga, I shall also use it to give some thought to what this incredible story tells us about the state of modern Wales. Basically, how the hell did Paul and Rowena Williams and their associates get away with so much for so long?

Because irrespective of what now happens to those you’ve been reading about over the past few months there are others who have questions to answer, and I might as well do the asking, because nobody else will.

WHY DID THEY GET A FREE RIDE?

The Daily Post‘s involvement in this saga is quite extraordinary in its willingness to publish any old nonsense. I have drawn up a list of the DP’s articles on Plas Glynllifon and the other Gwynedd properties since Paul and Rowena Williams first became involved.

Starting with this article on 10 June 2016 telling us that the mystery owner of Plas Glynllifon – speaking through property company Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) – said that the renovation would take three years, and would cost an estimated £5m.

The next article was just a few days later on 14 June 2016, and this time we were told that the old pile was to be transformed into a luxury hotel and spa with the project managed by LSH.

Just a day later, 15 June 2016, there was another report, but it was little different to the one the previous day.

The new year brought this piece on 22 February 2017 in which the Daily Post was graciously granted access, to be told by Rowena Williams, “We hope that the project will hold dear to the Prince of Wales, who enjoyed his investiture ball here and also takes a very keen interest in our heritage and historic properties such as Glynllifon. We hope that he will be an asset to the project.”

We were not informed if Carlo had been asked to cough up a few quid towards the “£5.5 to £6.5” needed for the restoration. Maybe it wasn’t needed, for a finance package had been agreed with “Together in Manchester”. And Team Williams was also “in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support”.

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On 23 May 2017 we learnt that the owners of Plas Glynllifon had enlisted the help of Lord Newborough (whose family pile Plas Glynllifon had once been), and also helping Paul Williams were “Bangor University, the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates (at Bangor Uni), Gwynedd Archives, and other bodies”. The more the merrier!

On 28 May 2017 the Daily Post invited us to take a look inside Plas Glynllifon. The accompanying film has Rowena Williams telling us that ” . . . outside, in the exterior, we’ve got lots of, um, plans going ahead with, um, with flower and fauna . . . “, to a backdrop of nineteenth century kitsch meets suburban Wolverhampton.

There was now a gap until 26 November 2017, and an article headlined, Take a look at stunning £16m transformation of historic mansion into five star hotel”, which was a bit naughty, because Paul and Rowena Williams have not spent anything approaching £16m at Glynllifon. There was no explanation for how the cost of renovating Plas Glynllifon had increased from £5.5m-£6.5m in May to £16m in November. Brexit, I suppose.

There was yet another video, this one without the Gruesome Twosome but with weird musical accompaniment. Then there were photos, of, er, scaffolding; while inside the building, we saw a bath, an organ, statues and a four-poster bed. This article, like previous ones, drew a number of positive comments, including one from ‘MarkoMarko’, who I suspect may not be local, and may even have been an employee of the Williams gang.

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The final plug report of the year was on 4 December 2017. Now the focus switched to the Seiont Manor Hotel , lined up for a £5m expansion. This would involve, ” . . . extending the restaurant with the provision of a new lake view terrace, expansion of the existing leisure facilities to improve the changing and spa facilities and add treatment rooms, a purpose built lake side function suite with bedrooms above and luxury lodges in the grounds”.

The first article in the new year appeared on 7 February 2018 and the focus switched again, this time to a snowy Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, which we were told Paul and Rowena Williams were buying. The obligatory video introduced ageing juvenile lead Rikki Reynolds, general manager of the Seiont Manor Hotel.

This new project included, “a 100 bedroom hotel with a pool, spa, restaurants and bars”. There was to be a seafood restaurant, and holiday cottages, with the Daily Post adding, “They (Paul and Rowena Williams) said the residential parts of the project will help with funding for other parts of this 240 job scheme and the ongoing restoration at Glynllifon and expansion of Seiont Manor in Llanrug, which they also own.”

Two hundred and forty jobs! This is bullshit piled so high that it must have blocked out the sun. But by this stage if Paul Williams had said he was Jesus Christ come to give us all another chance the Daily Post would have reported it without question . . . and of course with a video.

Just three days later, on 10 February 2018, the Daily Post returned to Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, for which, we were told, “project proposals have come and gone”; but things were to be different this time with Paul and Rowena Williams and the boy wonder. Maybe, but the video was the same one we’d seen three days earlier. We also heard of a new player in “Developer Plas Glynllifon Group”, of which no one has seen hide nor hair since.

On 27 April 2018 a fire was reported at Plas Tŷ Coch. ‘Disgraceful’ behaviour according to Paul Williams (a man who knows a thing or two about disgraceful behaviour). The Daily Post took the opportunity to remind us that Plas Tŷ Coch would be restored (sic) into luxury period apartments with low density housing in the grounds of the mansion and the restoration of walled and formal gardens.

I’m losing track now of how many apartments, houses, lodges, are involved with the Williams’ properties. Add them to the hotels, restaurants, pools, spas, bars and God knows what else and it’s getting bloody crowded!

Did it never occur to anyone that this bloke might be a sinister kind of Walter Mitty?

On to 11 May 2018 when we were told that Paul and Rowena Williams intended to part-fund their ambitions in the north through the sale of those properties they owned in Powys and over the border. This was the £10m ‘sale’ to convicted fraudster Keith Partridge, which was about as convincing as a ‘Welsh Labour’ Party manifesto.

The cost of renovating Plas Glynllifon was now £20m, up from £5.5m to £6.5m a year earlier. Inflation on this scale is no problem if you’re fluent in bollocks, pluck figures out of thin air, and are trying to wangle grants . . .

We only had to wait one day, to 12 May 2018, for the next intriguing episode headed, “Take a look inside stunning Plas Glynllifon as restoration continues”. And we were treated to yet another video and more photos of scaffolding and further examples of Victorian interiors at their worst.

Giving us an effect that is quite overwrought and claustrophobic. I can only assume that this bedroom would be the Edgar Allan Poe Suite. Who’s that in the mirror!

Courtesy of Daily Post, click to enlarge (if you dare!)

The Daily Post went for its hat-trick with three consecutive days’ coverage on 13 May 2018, with the emphasis now shifting to the parkland and pleasure gardens around Plas Glynllifon. For the headline told us “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”.

If this carried on it was only a matter of time before Paul Williams approached Cyngor Gwynedd with an offer they couldn’t refuse to buy the whole bloody county.

The long-awaited news of open days at Plas Glynllifon was brought to us on 6 June 2018. There was yet another video, this one confirming that a number of deliveries had been received from the local garden centre, with photos of the happy couple, scaffolding, and the Edgar Allan Poe Suite.

Weep for Wales appeared 8 June 2018.

The cobwebs were blown away when, on 9 June 2018, we were back to the bracing air of Plas Brereton on the Menai Strait, and among fresh proposals for the site was a fishing village! So if we add that to the apartments, houses, lodges and hotels, how much accommodation does that give us? How much extra accommodation does the Caernarfon area need?

We made another slight detour on 16 June 2018 as Paul Williams’ house-trained “expert in land and heritage conservation”, dragged up specially from Cornwall, tut-tutted about the state of Parc Glynllifon and suggested that it was in such a mess it should be handed over to Paul Williams at a knock-down price.

Of the accompanying photos two were of scaffolding. (They can grow on you!)

Weep for Wales 2 appeared 19 June 2018.

Weep for Wales 3 appeared 29 June 2018.

Weep for Wales 4 appeared 3 July 2018.

Weep for Wales 5 appeared 8 July 2018.

Maybe my blog was being read at the Daily Post, for the uncritical plugs stopped and the first cloud appeared in the Williams firmament with the report of 11 July 2018 headlined, “Welsh Government considering whether grant funding to mansion developers can be recouped after hotels close”, a reference to the closure of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel In Presteigne and the Knighton Hotel in the town of that name.

For all I know there might have been other articles that I’ve missed, but the 18 I’ve listed here tell an alarming tale of a gang of shysters given free access to an important source of local news. For they were allowed to say anything they wanted with nary an awkward question, let alone any journalistic digging to find out who they really were.

And it wasn’t just the Daily Post that was guilty of unquestioning plugs. There was Business News Wales on 8 March 2017. BBC Wales 27 June 2018. The Caterer 29 June 2018. The Daily Mail 1 July 2018, etc., etc.

But as the local ‘paper the Daily Post is more guilty than others of not doing its homework on these crooks. Indeed, the other news outlets may have been attracted to Glynllifon by the endless plugs they saw in the Daily Post. Seeing as they got it so wrong with Paul and Rowena Williams we have to ask if the Daily Post will identify the next shysters arriving on its patch, or will it be more free and uncritical publicity.

Because I can predict with certainty that the easy ride Paul and Rowena Williams received from the local media, the council and others, will encourage other crooks to chance their arm in Gwynedd.

Of course, I tried to post comments to the endless ‘Aren’t they wonderful!’ stories about Paul and Rowena Williams; trying to warn people, but I’m blocked from the Daily Post and WalesOnline websites.

The question for newspapers and other media outlets before repeating press releases, or running encomiums, must always be – ‘What do we really know about these people?’ And if the answer is ‘Nothing’, or ‘Very little’, then start digging!

THE FAT LADY IS WAITING IN THE WINGS

In the previous episode I told you that Leisure & Development Ltd was in the hands of receivers and the establishments involved locked, with CCTV installed. Since then I’ve heard that Paul Williams was still getting access to some of the buildings, for example, to the Knighton Hotel, either from the flat or ground floor showroom he still owns.

The latest information I have says that an offer has been made for the Radnorshire Arms by some local nobs who hope to start refurbishment work early next year. There is also interest in the Knighton Hotel and the properties in England and Cornwall, all of which might be offered for sale very soon.

In Gwynedd, things are also moving to a conclusion. For example, in the extracts you’ve just read from the Daily Post you’ll see that Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch crop up quite regularly, with ludicrous plans for fishing villages and God knows what else – but Paul and Rowena Williams never owned these properties!

They seem to have put down a deposit but never got around to paying off the balance. The deadline to complete the sale passed on Tuesday 18 September, and so, on the reasonable assumption that the balance was not paid, Paul and Rowena Williams are now left with Plas Glynllifon and the Seiont Manor Hotel, the latter run for them by drug-dependent Rikki Reynolds.

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The Daily Post couldn’t forget old habits and tried to put a positive spin on the story, as if the deal would be finalised . . . as if non-completion was a mere oversight . . . nothing to do with the money having dried up . . . the other properties being in the hands of liquidators . . . everything falling apart . . .

STOP PRESS: But, finally, on Wednesday 19 September the Daily Post was forced to submit to reality and admit that the deal had fallen through.

I now visualise Paul Williams holed up in Plas Glynllifon, something like Jean Gabin in Le Jour se Lève, chain-smoking Gauloises and ready to shoot it out with the flics receivers. (God! I must lay off the Malbec!)

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But enough of 1930s French movies and the Daily Post, what about other individuals and agencies we’ve encountered in this saga, how do their roles stand up to scrutiny?

UPDATE 21.09.2018: Today the Daily Post reported that Dyfed Powys Police had met with Powys County Council trading standards officers last week to discuss the now closed Powys hotels owned by Paul and Rowena Williams.

Paul Williams was quoted as saying, “We are unaware of any meeting allegedly held between the local authority and the police in Powys. However, we are pleased to hear that they are looking into matters as this will without doubt vindicate Rowena and I.”

The Daily Post‘s reporting was again abysmal. Just two days ago, Owen Hughes, the DP’s Business Correspondent – who has written all the puffs for Paul and Rowena Williams – told us that the deal to buy Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch had fallen through, but today he wants us to believe that they’ve “agreed the purchase” of these properties.

Can’t he remember what he’s written . . . or did somebody else write it?

Not only that, but he sticks to the Williams story about these Powys properties having been sold to convicted fraudster Keith Partridge, when everyone else knows this was just a ploy allowing them to slip away and lay the blame on somebody else.

UPDATE 22.09.2018: Daily Post reports statement from Paul Williams.

SUPPORTING CAST

Plas Glynllifon is a Grade 1 listed building. The Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne and the Knighton Hotel are both Grade II listed buildings. (Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch are also listed.) Which means that they come under the watchful eye of Cadw, or English Heritage (West) as it is more honestly known.

Cadw/EH(W) awards grants to those owning listed properties, and so, given Paul and Rowena Williams’ talent for sniffing out easy money, it would be reasonable to assume that they applied to Cadw/EH(W) for funding. And this is what I’m told happened. I’m further told that grant funding was given.

More specifically, large amounts were given to the Powys properties, enough for Williams to claim that grants had paid for the Knighton Hotel. While in Gwynedd, it’s reported that there was a dispute between Paul and Rowena Williams and Cadw/EH(W) over a grant given to Plas Glynllifon which appeared to have been diverted to the Seiont Manor Hotel.

In the hope of getting the facts I submitted a FoI request to Cadw/EH(W), but if the reply I received is to be believed then the Williams gang haven’t received a penny. Read it for yourself.

Which means that either my informants are mistaken, or else – and I hate to even consider this possibility! – Cadw/EH(W) is telling old Jac porkies!

With Paul and Rowena Williams’ empire now reduced to Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor it’s worth asking what roles have been played by the local council and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai which runs the adjoining Glynllifon Agricultural College.

Cyngor Gwynedd has remained tight-lipped, saying only that Plas Glynllifon is privately owned and has nothing to do with the council. Which I suppose is fair enough up to a point, but the council must have concerns when such a prominent local building is constantly changing hands between dreamers and crooks.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai has said even less, which for me is more worrying, Because if we go back to 13 May the Daily Post was headlining a story “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”. And the report went on, ” . . . discussions are underway with Gwynedd council and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai over taking control of parts of the vast estate grounds surrounding the mansion”.

Courtesy of Daily Post, click to enlarge

So how far did these talks progress? Were they concluded with an agreement to hand over land to Paul and Rowena Williams? In light of recent developments, how difficult would it be for Cyngor Gwynedd and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai to issue a statement assuring us that no deal was done? I suggest they owe it to us.

A name that has cropped up throughout this case is that of property company Lambert Smith Hampton, and in particular Dudley James Cross, who often seemed to act as a personal advisor to Paul and Rowena Williams, or perhaps even a partner, for at one time he was a director of Leisure & Development Ltd, the company that was ‘sold’ on 1 February to Keith Partridge, but then went tits up.

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You’ll notice that on his Linkedin profile Cross is Regional Head of LSH based in Northampton, but when he was director of Leisure & Development Ltd he was apparently resident in Wales, with his address given as Plas Glynllifon.

So what sort of a company is Lambert Smith Hampton that it gets involved with crooks like Williams and Partridge? Where is Cross now? Is his role in all this being investigated?

A LAND READY FOR THE TAKING

The deeper I dig and the more I learn about how modern Wales is run the more I realise how easy it is for crooks like Paul Williams to come waltzing in demanding this that and t’other. And demand that we pay for it!

Just recently I wrote about the new village of very expensive properties being built not far from Plas Glynllifon, apparently with the blessing and full co-operation of Cyngor Gwynedd.

Just a few miles away, at Nebo, a gang set up in a farm, and a benefit claimant threw up a seven-bedroom mansion! The police eventually raided the place. I understand this is another case from which Gwynedd’s planning department does not emerge with any credit.

All this is happening in Gwynedd, which many outside the area think of as some impregnable fortress of Welshness. The truth is its walls have been breached, and from the inside.

And yet, perversely, when I see how easy it is for people who are obviously greedy and corrupt, but none too bright, to get away with all this, then in a curious way it gives me hope.

For I see that the political machinery is old and broken, with few taking any interest in its running; the social structures that once seemed so permanent are in a state of flux; people are discontented and looking for something new; while the traditional media is discredited and dying before our eyes.

We are at a stage in the history of Wales where enough determined people, with the right message, can generate enough enthusiasm and public support to direct the political and social agenda.

Carpe Diem!

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 7

The anguished cry goes up from Cemaes to Chepstow, from Talacre to Tenby – ‘Will this ever end!’ 

The short answer is, I hope it will; but for me to get back to reporting on local flower shows, and telling you what Sharon’s mother wore at the wedding before she got legless and started stripping, there will need to be action from the police and various levels of government.

And while there are encouraging signs, and a growing mountain of evidence, the Williams-Partridge gang remains at liberty.

Even so, you’re assuming that there must have been some developments otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this latest instalment, and indeed there have. Not least a tearful – if unwilling – return to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel for Paul and Rowena Williams.

For anyone joining us for the first time I strongly suggest that you get up to speed with: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6.

Now read on . . .

WHAT A NUTTER!

And lo, it came to pass that on Friday July 20th Paul and Rowena Williams did return to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne whereto they had been summoned by Powys County Council, and the ‘Welsh’ Government; the former checking on what insults had been inflicted on this listed building and the latter ensuring that the money showered on the Gruesome Twosome for the ‘Rad’ and the Knighton Hotel had been properly spent.

Radnorshire Arms Hotel, click to enlarge

As yet, we don’t know what was said at the meeting (my Russian office is working on it), but things certainly got a bit heated when Paul Williams emerged. There were a few locals waiting for him. He approached one, and demanded, “Who are you, I’ve never seen you in here, have you ever drunk or eaten here, its people like you that forced me to close it down”.

He was clearly not in a good mood. He got particularly belligerent with this one particular local, and ended up belly-bumping him before head-butting him!

The gallery below shows a few scenes from last Friday’s tête-à-tête. Left to right: Paul and Rowena Williams, Paul Williams with the guy he nutted, two suits who arrived at the same time. Assure me they’re not working for the Williams-Partridge gang and I’ll remove them.

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From Paul Williams’ demeanour it would be reasonable to assume that the meeting with Powys County Council and the ‘Welsh’ Government did not go well, for him. Good.

Elsewhere, the Mid Wales Journal ran another piece, but the story has now been relegated to page 2. It also carried a reader’s letter pointing out the absurdity of Partridge in last week’s edition attributing the closure of the hotels to the hostility that had built up after their closure. The same arse-backwards logic employed by Paul Williams on Friday.

THE SCAM ADMITTED AND PROBLEMS PILING

Ignoring the distraction of the confrontation Paul Williams’ little outburst is interesting, and revealing, on a number of counts.

First, the man being addressed (and then nutted) was a regular drinker and diner at the Radnorshire Arms, but Paul Williams wouldn’t have known that because he was hardly ever there. I suppose when you’ve got a property empire to oversee, hotels to buy (often from yourself at ludicrous prices), and money to launder, you haven’t got much time to shoot the breeze with locals.

Second, Williams admits that he closed these establishments, so the ‘sale’ to Keith Partridge was a sham, as I always suspected. But maybe it’s worse than that because the more I think about it the more convinced I am that there was no intention to ever reopen the Radnorshire Arms or the Knighton Hotel.

The ‘sale’ to Partridge was a ploy to distract attention from Paul and Rowena Williams. And even without Paul Williams’ outburst last Friday, the evidence has always been there, staring us in the face.

Remember the letter staff received from Keith Partridge? It said: “Your employer is still the company, RRL UK Ltd” (Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd). Confirmed by Rowena Williams’ letter of 28 March. (Read both here.)

Yet on 1 April the gang (acting through or in the name of Michael Jones) tried to strike off Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. So those letters to the staff should have read: ‘We’re telling you you’re  employed by RRL UK Ltd – but we’re liquidating the company. Ha, ha!’

As I’ve mentioned before, the strike-off was halted by an objection from a public-spirited individual. Yet the Companies House website makes clear that the gang still wants to strike off this company.

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Some might argue that liquidating RRL UK Ltd could be the best option. The Radnorshire, the Knighton and the other properties would then be auctioned off and might be bought by people who want them to be successful.

The flaw in this reasoning is that they might be bought at auction by another Paul Williams. For he himself has bought properties this way; one was the Fronoleu, near Dolgellau, which we looked at in the previous instalment, work started we were told in 2015, and yet it remains an empty shell.

Further evidence that Partridge is simply fronting for Paul and Rowena Williams, is that the letter from heartbroken-to-be-leaving Rowena and ‘new owner’ Partridge were almost certainly written by the same person. The clue is in the bizarre date format “01st February” appearing in both letters.

And of course, with the portfolio including the Radnorshire and the Knighton not being sold to Partridge it means that Team Williams did not receive the £10m Partridge was said to have paid them for those properties.

Yet Paul and Rowena Williams are talking of spending £20m on Plas Glynllifon and £5m or more on Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, so where’s the money coming from?

The truth is they have no intention of completing the restoration of Plas Glynllifon. They’ll spend a little money on cosmetic effects, bring in some antiques and other fixtures, but as with so many of their ventures, from the Scottish border to Cornwall, the prize may be the land adjoining Plas Glynllifon.

Which is why I was so concerned to read, “Mansion owners in ‘advanced talks’ to take ownership of Parc Glynllifon country park”.

So I call on Cyngor Gwynedd and Grwp Llandrillo-Menai to tell us exactly what is being discussed, or has been agreed, with regard to handing over land to Paul and Rowena Williams. I can understand the silence, it’s often difficult to talk with egg on your face, but the people of Gwynedd, Powys, and the rest of Wales are entitled to know the truth.

Aerial view of the estate with Plas Glynllifon in the centre, click to enlarge.

The other element of the scam will be raising money against the asset of Plas Glynllifon. With a building that size, and the land around it, they could hope to raise many millions of pounds in mortgages and loans. And when they took it over in 2016 – fresh from their triumphs in Powys – they were also expecting a few million pounds from the ‘Welsh’ Government and/or Cyngor Gwynedd.

PAUL WILLIAMS, SOME MORE FACTS

Here are some random and often unrelated facts from a number of sources that nevertheless help to fill out the profile of Paul Williams.

  • In the previous instalment I quoted Paul Williams’ Linkedin profile (here in pdf) and his claim to have worked for eleven years for the Royal Mail, handling their property portfolio. Now I’m told this is yet more bullshit. Which raises the question, ‘What was Paul Williams doing before he emerged circa 2001 at Mortimers Cross Inn?’
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  • I mentioned the Goa connection in Weep for Wales 5, now I hear that Paul Williams’ father has a hotel there, but comes home three or four times a year. I’m also told that if you meet the father you’ll understand why the son is what he is.
  • The Badminton Club in Ebbw Vale was bought with cash. The attraction being the one-arm bandits and other gambling allowed at a private club. My source says that Paul and Rowena would travel down to Ebbw Vale regularly to empty the machines. (The income from which could be exaggerated?)
  • The Williams’ faithful lapdog Rikki Reynolds, now ‘running’ the Seiont Manor Hotel near Caernarfon, first worked for Paul and Rowena Williams at Mortimers Cross Inn. Later, either at the Knighton Hotel or the Radnorshire Arms, he was sacked for stealing some of the money that was lying around everywhere. Reinstated he is now part of the gang. Rikki is none too bright, a heavy drinker, a drug user, but loyal.
  • The Mortimers Cross Inn is also where they made the acquaintance of John Duggan the thieving accountant they have used to hide their crimes for a number of years. Can’t you just imagine the conversations Paul and John might have had of a winter evening around a roaring log fire, with Rikki swaying gently behind the bar!
  • The ‘Welsh’ Government has stated in a reply to Kirsty Williams AM that the Knighton Hotel received grants totalling £254,200 and Radnorshire Arms £225,000, but a source insists these figures are wildly inaccurate. The source is convinced that the Knighton alone received over one million pounds, and that Paul Williams used to boast that grants had paid for the place. Did the ‘Welsh’ Government focus on a single funding stream in order to mislead us?
  • For let’s not forget that even though Kirsty Williams is the local Lib Dem AM she also props up the minority Labour regime down Cardiff Bay. So she might not want to embarrass her coalition partners. Also worth remembering is that the reply she received came from Dafydd Elis Thomas, former Plaid Cymru AM, who is also helping keep Carwyn Jones and his gang afloat.
  • Fronoleu near Dolgellau was bought at auction in 2015 and paid for in cash. Over three hundred thousand pounds. A loan was then taken out against the property in 2018 with Together Commercial Finance Ltd. In the previous instalment I showed you plans that had been drawn up by an architect suggesting that work had started on Fronoleu in 2015. It was a lie, of course. Everything is a lie with Paul Williams. But worse, I’m told that this architect signs off projects funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government, saying that they have been satisfactorily completed. The architect concerned had worked for Paul Williams before Fronoleu, and possibly since.
  • But they had no intention of re-opening Fronoleu. It was just a way of laundering £300,000+. (And because it’s money laundering they’ll willingly pay over the odds.) This is how to get rid of dirty money and make more money on what you’ve bought. Money laundering also explains buying property from themselves at greatly inflated prices.
Fronoleu, click to enlarge
  • There was a delivery of new televisions to the Knighton Hotel one day, and even though hawk-eyed Paul Williams was on the premises – they were all stolen!
  • Paul Williams dismissed one member of his staff at 11pm on Christmas Eve in a telephone call from an airport where he was about to jet off for three weeks in Egypt!
  • One of his staff found a payroll file on a computer used by Paul Williams. Instead of names and numbers staff were identified by insulting descriptions of their physical appearance. I find this really weird, and disturbing.

PAUL WILLIAMS, THE MAN

Anecdotes and hard evidence continues to flow in from those who’ve had the misfortune to be involved with or work for Paul and Rowena Williams. (I used just a fraction of it in the previous section.) All of it helping to build up a character profile for Paul Williams.

To begin with, I’m convinced he’s a pathological liar for whom lies come easier than the truth. You just cannot believe a word he says. Often, he might not even realise that he’s telling lies.

When dealing with authority his strategy is to wear down the enemy by not replying to letters, e-mails and phone messages. Worryingly, this often results in the problem going away. Here’s a good example from Cornwall of how Paul Williams operates.

But if he is pinned down then he will agree to a meeting – but not turn up. Or agree to make a payment and not do so until he’s threatened with bailiffs or prosecution. With tradesmen and suppliers to whom he owes money he either ignores them or he threatens them with violence.

A number of people who’ve worked for Paul Williams tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, and attributed his lack of empathy to autism, before realising he’s just a complete cunt.

He likes to go to the limit, he likes to see how much he can get away with. It’s brinkmanship. He’s a gambler, a risk-taker. He might even get a rush from it.

He certainly enjoys cutting corners, cheating, putting one over on people, whether it’s his employees, the UK government, the ‘Welsh’ Government, local authorities, banks, tradesmen, suppliers, even taxi drivers delivering him home drunk.

I introduce the taxi driver because of a story I’ve been told about Paul, Rowena and Rikki Reynolds. A while ago a taxi delivered them to Seiont Manor and the taxi driver had to struggle to get his money because Paul Williams haggled over a £15 taxi fare!

Some might view Paul Williams as a likeable rogue for taking on public officials, banks and others, but when you learn of the little people he has hurt, humiliated and robbed, you realise he’s just a piece of shit.

APPEAL

A number of people over the years have had unhappy experiences with Paul and Rowena Williams. I’m already receiving information from many sources, but I suspect there are others who are no longer in Wales who could also provide information.

So I’d like to hear from Dan Pricop, Phil Higgerson, Mark McNicol and Paul Field. Get in touch with me at editor@jacothenorth.net. But the offer is open to anybody and everybody who will help to get this man and his associates their just desserts.

ROGUES GALLERY

The montage below shows, in the big picture, Paul Williams’ sister Debra Yvonne Oswald with her husband Stuart. Top right is Keith Partridge. Bottom right Sukhbinder Singh Heer, who is the other director of Leisure & Development Ltd along with Partridge and Williams. Quite what he brings to the party is yet to be established.

click to enlarge

You’ll note that Part(d)ridge and Heer became directors of Leisure & Development Ltd on 1 February 2018, which is the date Partridge is supposed to have taken over the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, the Knighton Hotel and other properties. But in both letters we’ve seen, staff are told they still work for Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, of which Partridge and Heer are not directors.

Has somebody slipped up, got confused with similarly named companies?

UPDATE 24.07.2018: There seems to have been a belated and rather clumsy attempt to resolve the anomaly of Paul Williams remaining a director of Leisure & Development Ltd following the alleged takeover by Partridge. Documents dated last Saturday (21.07.2018) but received at Companies House today (24.07.2018) tell us that Paul Williams has resigned as director. Also, that 10,000 shares in the company have been transferred from Plas Glynllifon Ltd to Partridge.

Which is just paperwork, designed to deceive. For I guarantee that no properties have been transferred from Paul and Rowena Williams to Partridge.

BOTTOM LINE

As I say, this is primarily a money laundering operation. The only question is whether Paul Williams is laundering money for others or for himself and his extended family. Maybe it’s a bit of both. We can add mortgage fraud and other crimes to the mix.

Properties are bought at auction, paid for with cash, or people in difficulty with their mortgage are ‘helped’ . . . before being elbowed out. Those properties, and nearby land, are then used to raise loans, sold to Williams companies at absurdly inflated prices, which then means they can take out more loans.

So dirty money is successfully laundered and more money is raised through loans against properties they have no real interest in, but it also means a growing mountain of debt, unless of course Together Commercial Finance Ltd is part of this scam.

Whatever the answer, if I was a business partner of Williams I’d be pissed off with him for attracting a lot of unnecessary attention. All he had to do was keep the Radnorshire Arms and the Knighton Hotel open and I would never have heard of Paul Steven Williams.

But then, I’ve described the sort of ‘fuck-’em-all‘ man he is, and because he thinks he’s smarter than everybody else, he’s become over-confident, and when you’re over-confident you make mistakes.

In Swansea, we call this hubris.

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 6

Well I promised I’d be back, and when you’ve got a gift that keeps on giving . . .

As the title suggests, this is the sixth episode in a saga that I’m more convinced than ever will end in tears for the central characters. And they will be the authors of their own downfall.

If you’ve stumbled on this site looking for Viagra, or you wanted to lay a bet on Cardiff City winning the Premier League (well, laff!!), why not stay tuned, but first catch up with previous instalments, Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5.

LET’S GET UP TO DATE . . .

In what I assume was an attempt at ‘balance’ the Mid Wales Journal followed up its report of 6 July on hotels being abandoned by Paul and Rowena Williams and/or Keith Partridge with the report below a week later.

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In this we read Keith Partridge blame the neglect of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel on “foul and abusive notices” being found around these properties. He was also outraged by social media posts and web sites. (Some people, eh!)

These assaults on Partridge’s honesty, and his motives, have caused him and his cohorts, to “rethink our strategy”, with the outcome of the rethink to be given by the end of August.

What a load of bollocks! He shut the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel telling staff these hotels would be closed for a few months for refurbishment and re-branding. When it was seen that nothing was being done people started asking questions about Partridge, and a can of worms was opened.

The truth has now emerged about him, the accountant Duggan, and Paul and Rowena Williams. But Partridge is using the suspicion and hostility he and the rest of the gang have generated as justification for doing nothing.

My gut feeling is that it was never in the plan to re-open these hotels. But with so much evidence about the gang now in the public domain, and with politicians, media and many others asking questions, their plan has been rumbled, and they’re not sure which way to jump.

THE MAN HIMSELF

Companies House tells us that Paul Steven Williams was born 23.02.1969.

His Linkedin profile tells us that before becoming a hotelier and property tycoon he worked for Royal Mail for eleven years as ‘National Facilities Manager’. We are told that his, ” . . . responsibility covered the management, acquisition and refurbishment of the Royal Mails (sic) £5 billion portfolio of UK properties”.

The manner in which the job is described suggests that this is where he learnt about property, how to acquire, exploit and dispose of property, plus all manner of short-cuts and dodges. Doing this job he must have made many useful contacts in the property world.

If you go up towards the top of the Linkedin page you’ll see ‘Paul Williams’ Posts’, ten in all. I was particularly taken by one dated October 2, 2015 and introduced as “Our Next Hotel Project …………..is….” and it turns out to be the Fronoleu Country Hotel near Dolgellau. In case it disappears from the internet, you can read it here.

FRONOLEU

Upon reading that I thought to myself,‘Well, if this project was already under way in early October 2015 then it must surely be finished by now. So I shall hire me a charabanc and take a party of merry-makers up there!’

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But alas, when we got there, this is what we found! It was terrible! The shrieks of the women, the crying of the children, the men cursing – ‘There was football on the telly, you bastard!’ 

What went wrong? We were told this project was under way in 2015, Paul Williams even showed us the plans on his Linkedin post. Surely he wasn’t lying?

And yet, I can’t find any record of a planning application ever being submitted for this property, and I searched both the Gwynedd council and the National Park websites. To judge by what I saw when I visited, the place was cleaned out some time ago, and that’s all that’s been done. It was bought, gutted, and left to rot.

The only sign of recent human intervention was the cut grass to the left of the hotel, probably cut by whoever lives in the house just out of picture in the same direction. Particularly poignant, I thought, was the state of the three flags, resembling standards on some long forgotten field of combat.

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But how did Paul and Rowena Williams come into possession of Fronoleu?

Given the dates we already have in 2015 I suspect it was bought at this auction. The information given is interesting, and amusing. It tells potential buyers, “The more extensive amenities of Caernarfon and Bangor are accessible to the north respectively without saying that Caernarfon is over 40 miles away, Bangor further, and that Aberystwyth and Newtown are both nearer.

Obviously penned by someone who knows sod all about the area. Another give-away was calling Tabor a village, which is like describing Dolgellau as a metropolis. And while the former county town of Merioneth is indeed 1½ miles away – if you’ve got black, shiny feathers – it can only be reached from Fronoleu by risking the single-track unlisted road that runs to and from this isolated property.

(Our charabanc scared the shit out of a cyclist who reacted in the manner I suspect greets alien landings. I hope he wasn’t injured diving through that hedge.)

The ‘Joint Auctioneer’ is the Manchester office of Christie & Co. (Just can’t get away from Manchester, can we?) The sale was handled by Martin Davis, who has since moved on to Bilfinger GVA.

I’m sure Fronoleu serves some purpose lying empty and losing money but don’t be surprised if it catches afire or goes to auction again soon.

UPDATE: I hear from a council source that towards the end of last year council tax debts on Fronoleu had reached such a level that Cyngor Gwynedd threatened to go into Seiont Manor and seize ‘goods to the value’. This was averted only when £10,000 was paid over the phone by card.

GOOD WITH FIGURES

I’ve just mentioned John Duggan, who serves as the gang’s accountant, and works out of a shed in the village of Leintwardine in north Herefordshire.

Leisure and Development Ltd, the company we are asked to believe was sold for £10m to another crook, Keith Partridge, in February, was using Duggan’s shed as the company’s registered office address, but earlier this month the address was changed to the Knighton Hotel.

Can’t you just imagine Keith Partridge sitting down one morning to his kedgeree, switching on his tablet to read Jac o’ the North and exclaiming in a voice resonant of both shock and horror – ‘Well, bless my soul, John Duggan is a crook! Who’d have thought it . . . lovely man . . . such impressive offices at Unit 3 . . . We’ll have to take our business elsewhere . . . ‘

How they’ve been allowed to get away with it I do not know. Let’s stick with Leisure & Development Ltd for a minute. This company was formed 19 January 2015; then, in July 2015, no less than 7 charges were registered, these being loans from the National Westminster Bank. Yet the accounts submitted for that period, up to 31 January 2016 – by Debra Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister – are for a dormant company!

Clearly Leisure & Development Ltd was not a dormant company. And I guarantee that no responsible accountant or lawyer would have signed off that statement, so Paul Williams’ sister had to do it.

Though in fairness, the accounts for 31 January 2017 (or the ‘Unaudited Financial Statement’) were produced by an accountant – John Duggan, of J D Accountancy, Leintwardine.

EBBW VALE

An unlikely locale in which to find Paul and Rowena Williams, who specialise in country hotels, which then makes the former Badminton Club an even more unlikely purchase. But buy it they did and may have renamed it the Beaufort Sports and Social Club.

I’m not sure when they bought it, or whether it was through an auction – maybe someone in the area can help?

What I can say is that it was sold in December 2017 for a stated price of just £60,000.

Which then leaves the big questions:

  1. Did Paul and Rowena Williams initially buy the Badminton Club in their own name(s)?
  2. If not, when and from whom did Rural Retreats & Leisure acquire the property?
  3. Did Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd pay a strangely high price for the property?
  4. Was the property then sold at a loss?

GLYNLLIFON

Now we turn to the jewel in the crown, the reason given for allegedly selling the other properties to Keith Partridge.

The latest figure given for the Glynllifon project is £20m. Even if we accept that Paul and Rowena Williams received £10m for their other properties from Partridge (which raises the question of where he got the money), that still leaves a shortfall of £10m.

Fortunately, this money-pit is, according to The Caterer, being funded by the other Gwynedd properties.

We’ve already seen that Fronoleu isn’t making any contribution, and the only establishment that is open for business is the Seiont Manor Hotel. Run by Rikki Reynolds who, from the information I’ve received, seems either disinterested or out of his depth.

On top of which, Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch are themselves going to cost millions to renovate. As if that wasn’t enough of a financial burden, Paul Williams has told people he wants to ‘buy’ four more hotels in the area!

Picture courtesy of Daily Post, click to enlarge.

The figures don’t add up because Plas Glynllifon was taken on in order to raise more money. When everything eventually goes mammaries heavenwards the gang will drive off in brand-new Range Rovers, every glove compartment and other storage area stuffed with readies.

In the meantime, in the hope of persuading people that renovation is under way, Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor serve as repositories for fixtures and fittings looted from elsewhere.

And who’s to say the partnership will even hold? Because I hear of rows between Paul and Rowena Williams, with her often sleeping on an inflatable bed.

Face it, these people are crooks. Before long, as the NatWest Bank, HMRC and the police close in Gwynedd will be back to square one with a massive derelict mansion and a few smaller properties for which no uses can be found and no honest buyers.

UPDATE: Crooks they may be, but I’m sure they don’t have people whacked, which is a possibility that went through my mind when I was told about a ‘director’ who was there at Seiont Manor one day and was gone the next, never to be seen again.

The man I’m talking about is Mark McNicol, who describes himself on his Linkedin profile as ‘Operations Director – Rural Retreats & Leisure’, a job he’s held since April 2016. Which is a bit confusing, for Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd changed its name to Polvellan Manor Ltd in March 2015. (Surely they’d have told him?)

Otherwise, he must mean Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. This, you’ll remember, is the company the gang tried to strike off, so not much future there.

For some reason I can no longer reach his Linkedin profile, but fortunately I grabbed it earlier.

HMRC

Having mentioned HMRC I suppose I’d better explain why. It’s because Team Williams has a long-standing policy of paying in cash. Staff are paid in cash, suppliers are paid in cash, just about any deal that can be done in cash will be done in cash.

Inevitably, this means imaginative accounting – which is where Duggan of Cell Block B comes in – but documents still need to be produced. As I mentioned in the previous post, staff at Seiont Manor are given pay slips saying one thing (with no deductions for PAYE or NI), while the correct amount is paid by cheque.

I have now been sent some documents by former employees. This first one shows no tax paid while working at Seiont Manor. This individual is now paying extra tax to make up for the non-payment that is the responsibility of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. (A company whose accounts are done by John Duggan.)

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In another case, the salary was understated on the P60. In this example we are asked to believe that this person – earning £30,000 a year – was paid just £2,500 between November and April.

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I have other documents all pointing in the same direction. Documents I will be happy to make available to HMRC. Those who’ve supplied me with the documents are ready to fully explain how this illegality is perpetrated. And I’m sure they have much more to tell.

This gang is always cutting corners, always lying, always cheating somebody. That’s because they are liars and crooks. There’s a story emerging of the deal Paul Williams struck with a certain drinks company. Of course he’s reneged on that deal, and the thug who runs the Waves Bar for him/Partridge in Cornwall has threatened a representative of the company with violence if he dares ask again for what’s owed.

For as we learnt in Weep for Wales 5, the Waves Bar in Seaton, Cornwall, is run by Stuart Paul Cooper, another crook done for fraud. But Cooper also has a taste for violence, and regularly threatens to burn down people’s homes – with them inside.

That’s three convicted fraudsters – that we know of – working for or with Paul and Rowena Williams: Keith Partridge, who’s supposed to have bought the properties outside Gwynedd, and has known Paul Williams for years. John Duggan, their accountant, who fleeced an old lady out of £700,000. And ‘Burn-’em-alive’ Cooper down in Cornwall.

We are judged by the company we keep, and when you keep company like that . . .

NATWEST AND TOGETHER

Finally, one thing that’s been puzzling me is why any bank or finance company would lend money to these crooks. I suppose the easy answer would be that they’ve got collateral in the form of hotels and the fixtures and fittings they contain. But what if the value of those hotels and other property is greatly inflated?

Seeing as NatWest stopped lending to the companies run by Paul and Rowena Williams early in 2016, I guess warning lights flashed and somebody said – ‘Enough!’. A theory strengthened by news that NatWest in February 2017 was trying to ‘restructure’ the loans. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

The document you’ve just read relates to Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. It’s dated 2 February 2017. On the Companies House website, a day later, the registered office address was changed from Unit 3 in Leintwardine (John Duggan) to Plas Glynllifon. Had NatWest rumbled John Duggan?

Whatever the answer – and as I just mentioned in relation to Mark McNicol – in May this year there was an attempt by the owners to strike off the company, and with it of course the debt to the National Westminster Bank. The procedure was halted by an objection from a public-spirited citizen.

All of which tells me that NatWest is innocent of any shenanigans. It is a victim in this affair. But what of Together Commercial Finance Ltd, the equivalent of a pay day loan company that replaced NatWest? The more I think about the relationship between the gang and Together Commercial Finance Ltd the more I see a partnership. If so, who’s taking the hit?

While you ponder this and more you might care to peruse a sheet I’ve put together that lists the dealings of the Williams-Partridge gang in a timeline determined by the dates of the many charges against their companies interspersed with noteworthy events.

Stay alert out there and don’t swap your cow for any magic beans. You listening!

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 5

Well, here we are again. And why are we here again? Because there have been further developments, that’s why. Some of them encouraging developments.

In addition, I’ve been doing a bit more thinking. Standing back, as it were, trying to take in the big picture, because what confronts us is designed to mislead and confuse. With companies forming and constantly changing names, addresses and directors. People taking out mortgages to buy property from themselves. Buy-outs that are probably nothing of the kind. And a web of lies designed to hide what’s really happening.

All made easier by the gullibility of politicians and media over a wide area and for a considerable period of time.

Fortunately, the fog is clearing.

If you’re new to this saga then to help you better understand what follows, I suggest you read Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3 and Weep for Wales 4.

NEWS FROM THE NORTH

There’s little official news but snippets continue to reach my penthouse office at Jac o’ the North Towers about how the Williams Gang operates.

The former head chef at the Seiont Manor Hotel was able to provide me with more information on the curious payment arrangements. In his case, pay slips reading £500 every month but much larger amounts – the agreed salary – actually going into his bank account.

He was also able to give me bank details for the source of the money. I won’t use that information here but any official agency interested in seeing the information is welcome to contact me. The head chef and his team were constructively dismissed in order to provide work for chefs moving up from the now closed Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne and the Castle Inn in Wigmore. Other staff were also elbowed out.

UPDATE 09.07.2018: After discussing it with the man concerned I have decided to release copies of the relevant documents. They’re not perfect pictures but they show payslips for March and May this year, with no PAYE or NI paid, and showing net pay of £500, with the corresponding bank entries for those months showing £1,973.00. Click here.

It seems that the Williams Gang likes to have ‘loyalists’ on the books . . . or should that be ‘off the books’? Whatever, another loyalist is the handyman, a local who’s made comments to my Facebook page, some of which he’s deleted. To believe Noel Jordan of Penygroes Wales couldn’t manage without people like Paul, Rowena, Rikki and the gang because we Welsh are too stupid to do things for ourselves. Speak for yourself, Noel.

Though Noel has stopped defending Team Williams, perhaps because it’s finally penetrated even his thick skull that they’re crooks. Now he attacks me for my FWA connections and my political stance, previously unknown facts he’s gleaned from – Phil Parry at The Eye. Well, laff!!

Something else the former head chef told me was that Rikki Reynolds, running Seiont Manor for Paul and Rowena Williams, doesn’t seem much concerned if the business makes money or not. Which I suggest confirms my theory – what’s important is the buildings and the money that can be raised on them or channelled through them, the businesses in those buildings are dispensable, as are the people working in them.

This explains why businesses in buildings owned by Paul and Rowena Williams just limp along or close.

So unconcerned is Rikki Reynolds about the state of the Seiont Manor Hotel that I’m told old furniture, televisions, fryers, and other junk litters the grounds, and the interior’s not a lot better.

Seiont Manor Hotel, click to enlarge

And if anything goes wrong you’d better try to fix it yourself because no local tradesman will answer the call until he gets pad for his previous visits. (Thank God for trusty, forelock-tugging Noel!) Bailiffs and others looking for money are regular visitors to Seiont Manor. Though come to that, they’re regular visitors to every Williams’ property.

UPDATE 09.07.2018: Here’s an example of an unpaid bill at Seiont Manor. One of thousands.

Before leaving the north let’s make a quick visit to Plas Glynllifon.

Someone sent me the picture below, which I’m afraid is not perfect, but still . . . it shows the small lake in the grounds of Plas Glynllifon with a sign reading ‘Beware of Sharks’ above a picture of Paul and Rowena Williams. I’m told that the hand behind the sign, reaching up, represents a creditor.

click to enlarge

ANOTHER TRIP TO CORNWALL

On our previous visits to Cernyw we have concentrated on Polvellan House or Manor in West Looe, now we’re going to the community of Seaton, a couple of miles along the coast towards Plymouth.

Like a bundle of other properties this is owned by Leisure & Development Ltd, the company we’re told was sold on 1 February this year to Keith Harvey Partridge, though Paul Williams remains a director.

The property owned in Seaton is listed on this Land Registry title document as The Pavilion, though it’s now known as the Waves Bar. Confusingly, it is also known as The Courtyard according to this Charge from 2016 referring to the purchase by Leisure & Development. It’s definitely the same place because it has the same LR title number. So why three names?

Whatever it’s called Leisure & Development paid almost two million pounds for it on 1 February 2016, which sounds rather high. But if it follows the pattern we found elsewhere then Paul and/or Rowena Williams already owned the place and sold it to themselves at an inflated price in order to get the mortgage money.

Another mortgage or loan was taken out 10 May this year with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle, after the alleged sale to Partridge. Which might be taken as evidence of the sale.

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Despite having sold the Courtyard/Pavilion/Waves Bar Rowena Williams still has a soft spot for the place, to judge by her Facebook page. Though little else is being posted nowadays.

But the reason we’re in Seaton is because someone assures me that the manager of the Waves Bar, Stuart Cooper, is this Stuart Paul Cooper.

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If Cooper the Waves Bar manager is indeed the same man referred to in the article, then that gives us three convicted fraudsters doing business with Paul and Rowena Williams. There’s Keith Partridge, then there’s John Duggan, their accountant, who featured in the previous post, and now Stuart Cooper.

This is no coincidence.

Finally, for those taken in by the Open Days at Glynllifon last month, someone in Cornwall tells me that the same stunt was pulled down there with Polvellan Manor. Now described as one of Cornwall’s most at risk houses.

UPDATE: Soon after putting this piece up I was directed to information relating to the Waves Bar. This information tells us that Cooper threatens to burn down people’s houses with them inside. Paul Williams thinks Cooper is a splendid fellow and defended him to the hilt when Devon and Cornwall Police tried to close down the Waves Bar.

If you want insights into the character of Paul Williams, the kind of people he employs, the way he runs his businesses, and his contempt for all authority, then it’s all here. Just scroll down to the section on Waves Bar. It’ll take a while to read it all, but believe me, it’s worth it.

UPDATE 09.07.2018: Here’s another worrying insight from Cornwall into Paul Williams’ modus operandi.

THE POWYS FRONT

Where it’s hats off to Mid Wales Journal reporter Karen Compton. We seem to have finally found a journalist who isn’t content with being spoon-fed the Williams’ lies. By comparison, the Daily Post has churned out one puff after another that could have been – and probably were – dictated by Paul and Rowena Williams.

click to enlarge

Congratulations to Ms Compton also for recognising that the ‘sale’ of the properties to Keith Partridge may be no more than a transfer of shares, just smoke and mirrors.

The Mid Wales Journal report states that the hotels owned by Paul and Rowena Williams – via Leisure & Development Ltd – were sold to “Keith Partridge of Coast 2 Coast Limited”.

There appear to be four companies answering to that name with which Partridge is involved: Coast 2 Coast Resorts Ltd; Coast2Coast Land Ltd; Coast2Coast Shores Ltd; Coast 2 Coast Developments Ltd. (Why no Coast 2 Coast Coasts Ltd?) Though Sukhbinder Singh Heer, who also joined Leisure & Development Ltd on the same day as Partridge, has no involvement with any of them. So how does he fit in?

Then there’s the Charge taken on against Leisure & Development Ltd, with shady lender Together Commercial Finance Ltd after the Partridge takeover, this is the Charge we looked at in connection with the Waves Bar in Seaton.

If this Charge explains how the purchase was funded then we are asked to believe that Partridge raised ten million pounds to buy these properties, at what must be crippling rates given his criminal record and the reputation of the lender . . . then he leaves a number of them empty!

As I’ve consistently suggested, the alleged sale of these properties to Keith Partridge was a subterfuge; done partly to take the heat off Paul and Rowena Williams, and partly to raise more money. Which explains why the Mid Wales Journal found it so difficult to contact any of them.

GRANTS

The Mid Wales Journal headline reads, ‘Assembly Acts Over Shut Hotels’, which I’m not sure is correct. What the report actually says is that the Assembly is looking into whether any public funding paid to the Knighton Hotel and the Radnorshire Arms Hotel can be recouped. Which to me looks a long way short of action.

We have since learnt from Kirsty Williams AM that under the Tourism Investment Support Scheme the Knighton Hotel received £254,200 and the Radnorshire Arms £170,000. This, remember, is just one funding stream, for it’s suggested that these two establishments received more than the figures just quoted.

What I find most disturbing in this aspect of the affair is the admission by the Minister responsible (a certain Dafydd Elis Thomas), ” . . . the applicant (Mr & Mrs Paul and Rowena Williams) failed to provide final post completion information despite numerous requests to do so”.

So Paul and Rowena Williams trousered £424,200, then refused to confirm that it had been spent properly, or at all; yet the ‘Welsh’ Government couldn’t be bothered to send a pith-helmeted expedition into darkest Powys to check. The conscientious civil servants handling our money just shrugged their shoulders and said, ‘Nah, sod it!’.

As I’ve mentioned, I have a FoI request with the ‘Welsh’ Government asking about grants to the Williams Gang and their properties. I got a reply asking me to stipulate which grants I was enquiring about, presumably in the hope I’d screw up and ask about grants for growing rape seed. But should I need to be so specific?

Are we to believe that there is no central reference for grant funding? That it’s impossible to type ‘Knighton Hotel’ or ‘Paul Steven Williams’ into a shared database and not be told how much grant funding they’ve received?  There used to a website called Transparent Wales(?) that provided this information at the click of a mouse, what happened to it?

A PLACE IN THE SUN

We’ve already encountered Paul Williams’ sister Debra Yvonne Oswald, who seems to have jetted about the world a bit, and may occasionally be found in Goa. ‘Goa!’, you cry, ‘Goa!’. Yes indeedy, the former Portuguese colony, now a state of India, destination for hippies and all manner of interesting characters.

But Debs is no hippy, she’s a businesswoman, and she has a company in Goa, Pleasant Time Guest Houses Private Ltd. though it looks like another of those companies that’s never done anything. Formed in November 2007 it held its last AGM 30 September 2014 and is currently lined up for strike off.

The other directors are Debra’s husband, her (and Paul’s) parents, and a Peter d’Souza, probably a local lawyer.

Goa. Wait! are those the chalets from behind the Radnorshire Arms?

Why would the Williams family want to start a company in a place notorious for being a gangsters’ paradise, where Nigerian, Russian and Israeli gangsters launder their money and do their deals? And with India being a country from which it’s notoriously difficult to extradite anyone to the UK.

TIME TO CLOSE THE TRAP

At the risk of repeating myself . . .

We have here a gang involved in some kind of financial crime. It could be mortgage fraud, it could be money laundering, it could be both. To which can be added a host of lesser offences, among them the non-payment of income tax and national insurance, or damaging a listed building . . .

A combination of sunshine, Argie red and digging into the antics of these crooks is making my brain boil. I’ve written over ten thousand words on these shysters – I need a break. So unless startlingly fresh information comes in I shall hold back on the Williams Gang until I write a more general update.

That said, there is now enough information in the public domain to justify action from the police, HMRC, the ‘Welsh’ Government, and a number of local authorities and other bodies.

I would suggest that this action be taken sooner rather than later. I say that because Paul and Rowena Williams must know the game is up, and so it would be reasonable to assume that they’re looking for a way out. They can’t go back, and there’s no way forward, so they’ve got to slip out through a side door.

They have enough money to go anywhere. So unless they’re pulled in pronto Paul Williams might soon be sunning himself on Calangute Beach in Goa, next to Sergei ‘Skullcrusher’ Ivanov, feared enforcer for the St Petersburg mob.

We’ve done enough weeping for Wales, let’s start doing something positive!

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 4

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.

Paul and Rowena Williams

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?

Rowena Williams soon got out of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, and following a flurry of activity in December 2017 (not notified to Companies House until April) the address switched from Plas Glynllifon to Polvellan House, and when the music stopped a certain Michael Jones found himself sole director holding all the shares.

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.

Formerly a local government planning officer in Cornwall handling applications from Paul and/or Rowena Williams for Polvellan Manor he is now working from home as a consultant and advises Team Williams and their crew, including Michael Jones, presumably.

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.

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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.

And I’ve turned up his name in other planning applications associated with Paul and Rowena Williams and their companies. We know Cross has even been a director of the Williams company Leisure and Development Ltd.

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?

LEINTWARDINE

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!

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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.

Here’s another report from the Free Library.

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.

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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?

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I’d appreciate professional advice on these arrangements. Also for the figures contained in the Unaudited Financial Statement for Leisure and Development Ltd, up to 31.01.2018, because some of the figures appear to be incredible. And here I mean incredible in the sense of being unbelievable. Unacceptable.

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?

CONCLUSION

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.

Weep for Wales.

♦ end ♦

 

Weep for Wales 3

PLAS GLYNLLIFON

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?

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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).

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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.

Aerial view of site (April 2009), courtesy of Google Earth. Plas Glynllifon is in the centre of the picture. Click to enlarge

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.

To confirm what I’m saying just do a quick search for Lancashire Mortgage Corporation, Blemain Finance, Monarch Recoveries, Henry Moser. Interestingly, Together/Lancashire seems to allow buildings to lie empty, which is what we see happening in Powys and just over the border; and, may be the fate awaiting Plas Glynllifon.

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 . . . 

From Rowena Williams’ Facebook page. (Click to enlarge.)

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.

The Companies House record for Premium Hotels Ltd. Why bother? (Click to enlarge.)

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.

THINKING ALOUD

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?

Louis XIV pool table (cliquer sur l’image pour l’agrandir)

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.

♦ end ♦