PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I hadn’t planned on writing this, but a few things have cropped up. First, I received a letter from a firm of solicitors demanding that I take down everything I’ve ever written in the Weep for Wales series. Second, there was a news report yesterday that needs to be considered. Third, there’s the continuing confusion as to who owns what at Glynllifon.
But don’t worry, this is a ‘shortie’ . . . though if you have the time, and the patience, you’re welcome to go back to the very first episode. Just type ‘Weep for Wales’ in the search box atop the sidebar.
I can’t say too much because the writer claims copyright over the letter and insists that I don’t reproduce it. It was a mildly threatening letter which I also found offensive, especially the reference to my wife!
But you know me, boys and girls, I’m a reasonable man. All I ask is that complainants deal with specifics – show me that I’ve got something wrong, or made a mistake, and I’ll take it down or correct it. But it’s unreasonable to expect me to remove perhaps 35,000 words simply because certain people are embarrassed by their misdeeds and associations being made public. It’s an abuse of the law, and it’s also censorship.
The clients for whom Glaisyers of Manchester are acting are said to be Paul and Rowena Williams. That may be true, it may not.
The news report in North Wales Live (NWL), told us that overdue accounts for Plas Glynllifon Ltd risk seeing that company struck off the Companies House register. The accounts in question cover the period up to 31 August 2018 and should have been filed with Companies House by 31 May 2019. Which means they are more than six months overdue.
Another possibility is that one of the bickering joint owners lodged the objection. For if we return to the NWL report we read that co-owner Paul Williams claims he wants to submit the accounts to Companies House while the other co-owner, Myles Cunliffe, says he wants his accountant to check the accounts before they’re submitted.
What’s odd is that the accounts cover a period before Cunliffe appeared on the scene, so why should he be so concerned over whether they’re true accounts or not?
What’s also odd is that NWL claims Paul Williams is the co-owner, but he’s not. The latest information with Companies says that Paul Williams ceased to be a director on 10 September.
And as we see in the panel below, Paul Williams ceased to be a shareholder 30 November last year, when his shares were transferred to Mylo Capital Ltd, Myles Cunliffe’s company.
It would appear that either Paul Williams is speaking here for his wife – and if that’s the case then it should have been made clear – or else she is director and shareholder in name only.
It would appear that there has been some kind of a rupture between Paul and Rowena Williams on the one hand and Myles Cunliffe on the other. A possibility further suggested by the recent filing history. This tells us that on the same day, September 10, Paul Williams ceased to be a director of Plas Glynllifon Ltd and the company’s address moved from Manchester to Seiont Manor hotel. A few days later the company’s address was changed again to Llwyn y Brain Lodge.
Seiont Manor hotel is owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, another company that appears to be jointly owned by Rowena Williams and Myles Cunliffe, and also uses the Llwyn y Brain Lodge address. Following the Plas Glynllifon Ltd pattern the accounts are also overdue and there are 7 outstanding charges with Together Commercial Finance Ltd.
UPDATE 11.12.2019: Comments made to this blog and information received by other means about staff not being paid at Seiont Manor have apparently been confirmed by this story in today’s Daily Post.
True to form, Myles Cunliffe threatened North Wales Live (the online edition of the Daily Post) with legal action if they published the story. “When asked about this the company did not comment on the wages delay and a statement on behalf of joint owner Myles Cunliffe said legal action would be taken if North Wales Live continued to publish any article.”
WHO OWNS THE PILE?
If you go back to Weep for Wales 14 you’ll see that there is some confusion about the ownership of Plas Glynllifon, the mansion that lies at the heart of the sprawling estate with countless other buildings including those used by Coleg Glynllifon.
In the hope of clarifying things I’ve been in contact with Grwp Llandrillo-Menai, which originally owned the mansion.
The confusion – certainly my confusion – is due to the fact that the title document that mentions the big house, CYM8531, says that the mansion is owned by Grwp Llandrillo Menai. Yet the Grwp insists the mansion was sold in 2003 to Glynllifon Ltd, which went bust, with the mansion being subsequently bought by Plas Glynllifon Ltd in 2016.
And the sale is indeed confirmed by an old title document for CYM127981, which shows that in April 2003 Coleg Meirion Dwyfor (now part of Grwp Llandrillo Menai) sold “Glynllifon Mansion House and surrounding land” to Glynllifon Ltd for £500,000. With CYM127981 being extracted from CYM8531.
But now, the same title number, CYM127981, held by Plas Glynllifon Ltd, only mentions “land adjoining Glynllifon College”. Where’s the mansion gone?
I’m now waiting for Grwp Llandrillo-Menai to get back to me and confirm that things have been sorted out with the Land Registry. Because I’m still confused.
A LITTLE ROUNDUP
Other than what I’ve just told you, not a lot has happened since Weep for Wales 14 was published 21 October. But as we know, there’s always something to report in this saga, so here’s a list, in chronological order:
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
I never thought I’d be saying this, but following the previous post on the sale of the Shire Hall, we are staying in Llangefni!
The old town took a bit of a hit last month with the closure of the Marco Cable Management plant. Losing 40 jobs may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but in a small town like Llangefni it matters a lot. And just a few years earlier there had been more than 70 working there.
An old friend back in Swansea was moved to write to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ asking if Marco Cable Management had received any public funding. Or rather, how much funding, because it could almost be guaranteed that funding was provided as an inducement for the company to set up on Ynys Môn in 2003.
The reply he got from the Department for Economy and Transport (Prop. K. Skates) can be read here. You’ll see that the company received at least £1,191,771.68. In addition, there was funding from the county council and HSBC.
Though it was the parent company Marco Gearing Ltd that received the funding. Which I thought was a bit odd, so I went to the Companies House website to check on them both. I learnt that Marco Gearing Ltd was formed in April 2002, while Marco Cable Management Ltd was born July 2003.
Something else I thought was odd – though it probably explains the funding going to the parent company – was that throughout its existence Marco Cable Management Ltd, the name under which the factory operated, was a dormant company.
MARCO GEARING LTD
Let’s start at the beginning, with parent company Marco Gearing Ltd. What does the name mean? Who or what is Marco? And does ‘Gearing’ refer to a gear system on a car or machine or is it used here in the financial sense?
From the start on 9 April 2002, Lillian Turner MacGregor of Betws yn Rhos, Abergele was a director of the company, with chartered accountant Philip Matthew Deakin as secretary, but he left 24 May. (Deakin has been involved in many companies since Marco Gearing.)
Deakin was replaced by Andrew Ian MacGregor as secretary, and in November the family group was completed by Ian Charles MacGregor coming aboard as the second director. For I suspect that Ian Charles is Lillian Turner MacGregor’s husband and Andrew Ian is their son.
July 2003, coinciding with the launch of Marco Cable Management Ltd, saw both a major share issue and Terry Deakin of Colwyn Bay joining the board. After Deakin’s arrival the share distribution was 230,000 with Ian Charles MacGregor, 120,010 with Lillian Turner MacGregor and 50,000 each with Deakin and his wife Janet.
Deakin’s other active directorship was with the National Zoological Society of Wales, better known as the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay. Though he had been in business for himself with a number of companies. It could be that the Deakin we met earlier, who served briefly as secretary, is his son.
There were two further appointments to the board of Marco Gearing on 22 April 2010. These were Bernard James Pigott (the ‘Brian’ of the video?), and Paul Stewart Diggins of Buckinghamshire, who may have been the sales director.
MARCO CABLE MANAGEMENT LTD
Turning to Marco Cable Management Ltd, the sole director, from Incorporation 17 July 2003 was Lillian Turner MacGregor, with Andrew Ian MacGregor as secretary.
There were just 9 shares and these were held by Mrs MacGregor, with what appears to be a further issue of a single share a year later in 2004.
And that was it, the company filed accounts for a dormant company every year, there were returns filed showing the shareholder, and then, on 18 May 2017, we saw the MacGregors step down and two new directors arrive. These were Carl Edward Jones and Paul Graham Merrick.
So who are Messrs Jones and Merrick, who also joined Marco Cable Management Ltd on the same day?
THE YANKS ARE COMING!
On 7 July 2017 all the shares in Marco Gearing Ltd were transferred to Unistrut Ltd of West Bromwich. (Though it took until 11 April 2018 before the information was notified to Companies House.) Unistrut Ltd is a subsidiary of Atkore International, of Chicago.
Which means that some time between May and July 2017 the Llangefni factory of Marco Cable Management Ltd was taken over by an American company – but no one seemed to notice! Or rather, there are a number of references to the takeover in the specialist press – here, here and here – but I can find nothing reported in the ‘Welsh media’.
Didn’t our Welsh journalists know? Did the workforce in Llangefni know? Did the council and the ‘Welsh Government’ – both owed money by the Marco group – know that the decision on whether a Welsh factory closed now lay with faceless men in Chicago?
The MacGregor family sold out to an acquisitive and ruthless US corporation that they must have known would soon close down a competitor in a peripheral location. Did they feel no obligation to the workers who had given so much?
It seems that Carl Jones, who joined Atkore in 2011 has spent the years since then acquiring UK companies such as Marco Cable Management Ltd for his American bosses. The most recent would seem to be Modern Associates Ltd. Again, working with Paul Merrick.
And we have no defence whatsoever against predators like these. I’m surprised they didn’t ask the ‘Welsh Government’ for a grant to close down the factory. I’m sure they would have been given one.
THE ‘WELSH ECONOMY’.
So another factory closes, more Welsh workers lose their jobs, Cyngor Ynys Môn has lost money, so has the ‘Welsh Government, and there remain two outstanding debentures held by HSBC Bank against Marco Gearing Ltd (which might account for the ‘liabilities’ in the graphic above).
Just another paragraph in the ever-growing volume ‘How Not to Run an Economy’, by the ‘Welsh Government’.
I’m writing this on the day that Citizen Woodhouse made the news again. The man who bought Welsh hotels then sold the rooms off individually with the promise of huge returns. A child of four could have seen that he was a con artist, but the ‘Welsh Government’ promised him £500,000 for his Caer Rhun hotel near Llanrwst, and then, because they lack the critical reasoning of a four-year-old, those clowns down Corruption Bay gave him a few hundred acres of public land for his Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
In the previous post we looked at the sale of Llangefni’s Shire Hall to The Man From God Knows Where* who, according to North Wales Live, is a wheeling-dealing miracle-worker set to bestow the riches of the Orient on poor old Llangefni.
Elsewhere we have zip wires, or hippies, or retirees, or social dumping, or . . .
There’s room, and funding, jobs and housing, for everybody . . . except us Welsh.
I’m told that the Brummie manager of Transport for Wales’ Machynlleth depot has just hired an apprentice – from Blackburn! Despite any number of local lads wanting the job.
Wales is being overrun and colonised but never mind, let’s suck up to Guardian readers by doing a deal with the party that will back a minority Tory government and revoke the Government of Wales Act.
Down south the news is no better. TVR will not be coming to Ebbw Vale, and Aston Martin is about to go belly-up. Cardiff airport is in the wrong place – but never mind, let’s pour in more public money.
Decisions made by arseholes. And hypocrites. The kind of people who condemn others for withholding the truth or subverting democracy while protecting themselves and their lobbyist and third sector friends by refusing us the truth on the circumstances surrounding Carl Sargeant’s death.
Wales doesn’t need any more elections or referendums, what we need is a revolution of the soul, to reject this whole stinking colonialist system, and those down Cardiff Bay who profit from maintaining it.
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
This is just a quickie that I want to get out before too much damage is done. This report from North Wales Live tells us that a property hot-shot has bought the Shire Hall in Llangefni. Nice little town, Llangefni, the wife enjoys a trip there. We always pop up to the Kyffin Williams gallery for a few hours. But enough of me and the missus.
You’ll note that the report I’ve linked to is written by Owen Hughes, the NWL business correspondent, who I’ve mentioned before. He it was who gave Paul and Rowena Williams of Plas Glynllifon write-up after uncritical write-up, so I thought I’d fire a warning shot across his bows before he steams ahead with this latest Titanic.
The man in question, the ‘property developer’, is Tristan Haynes or, to give him his full name, Tristan Scott Haynes. Who, in the report, is said to be: “Based in Bedfordshire, the managing director of Chief Properties – who also runs a successful haulage firm – had never been to Anglesey before identifying Shire Hall as a possible location.”
So let’s look at Chief Properties Ltd. A company formed in August 2018, which means there are no accounts filed, nothing. This company was almost certainly formed specifically to buy Llangefni’s Shire Hall, which went for sale a couple of months earlier. The company seems to own no other property, and it has no record of contracts completed, work done, or anything else.
But the Companies House entry can tell us that Haynes has taken out two loans with Together Commercial Finance Ltd to buy the Shire Hall, and if that lender sounds familiar then it’s probably because it’s where Paul and Rowena Williams went for loans when the big banks started turning them down.
Then there’s the “successful haulage firm” that Haynes is said to run. Would this be Falcon Transportation Ltd, from which he resigned in February 2018 and to which he made a comeback in February 2019?
There are of course many different ways of gauging success, but I don’t think Eddie Stobart need lose any sleep over a company with net assets of £21,802.
Elsewhere in his encomium Owen Hughes tells us, “Tristan (they’re on first name terms!), who grew up in South Africa, the US and the Middle East before travelling the world as an Olympic-level windsurfer, spotted the Glanhwfa Road site when searching for a refurbishment project.”
Though it might be understandable why we didn’t read about Bullet Strategies Ltd, another Haynes company, seeing as he never got around to telling Companies House what kind of business it was. Formed January 2013, dissolved September 2014 with nothing filed.
I don’t know about you, boys and girls, but I’m beginning to have that old familiar feeling about Tristan. I mean, what do we know about him? The short answer is – nothing.
Except that he has a vague and perhaps unverifiable background. He’s a kung-fu expert who was convicted of beating up a couple of old men on Malta. His property company is new and reliant on borrowed money. He seems to have no experience relevant to the project he talks about for the Shire Hall. His haulage firm – despite what Owen Hughes tells us – is hardly a glittering success. And then there’s Bullet Strategies Ltd, what the hell was that about?
Here’s Jac’s advice. To the good people of Llangefni – keep an eye on your Shire Hall.
To the county council – according to the Land Registry the sale may not have gone through yet – it certainly hasn’t been registered – so there may still be time to call it off. I know you’re desperate to offload this building, but this deal is almost guaranteed to turn out badly – for you!
To the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ – don’t give this guy a penny of our money!
To Owen Hughes and the rest of the ‘Welsh media’ – for God’s sake do a few simple checks before going into raptures about people you know nothing about. You could save us all a lot of heartache and money, and yourselves embarrassment.
The bigger question must be why Wales keeps attracting these people. The short answer is that a poor country with plenty of surplus property going for a song will always attract chancers and worse.
The only remedy is independence and the economic uplift it will provide, plus the restrictions that can be placed on foreign ownership. But in the meantime, as a colony, we must expect more like Paul Williams, and Myles Cunliffe, and Gavin Woodhouse, and Tristan Haynes, and . . .
PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
Those who’ve followed this saga will know that we started off with Paul and Rowena Williams – and a colourful supporting cast – in Powys, at the Knighton Hotel and the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne.
After allegedly selling their property empire in Powys and beyond to their associate, convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge, for a reported £11m, Paul and Rowena decided to focus their entrepreneurial genius on Gwynedd. In particular, Plas Glynllifon, which they apparently bought in 2016.
Things did not go well, and it was no surprise when we witnessed the entry onto the stage of Myles Andrew Cunliffe of Lancashire towards the end of last year. Described by Paul Williams at the time as a ‘finance guy’ who was going to help them out of the hole they’d dug for themselves.
Some of those towards the end of the list will need explaining, so read on . . .
UPS AND DOWNS
Just before Christmas I had a letter from a firm of solicitors in Chester demanding that I remove everything I’d ever written about Paul and Rowena Williams. I considered this to be an absurd and unreasonable request.
Though I wondered about that letter. Why would the Gruesome Twosome suddenly suspect that their glowing reputation for ethical dealings, paying suppliers and others on time, and not in any way being involved in mortgage fraud, was being sullied? Which is why I suspected that the letter had been prompted by Cunliffe, perhaps when he, or others, realised how well known the Williams gang had become.
I heard no more from Manleys of Chester.
But on March 26 I received, after dark, a hand-delivered letter. This was clearly in response to what I’d written about Cunliffe’s business past and possible associates a week earlier in Weep for Wales 12. Where, among other things, I’d mentioned a number of companies formed and then dissolved without any accounts being filed with Companies House.
Even so, I have to admit that this letter made me pause for thought. A letter from a solicitor is one thing; but a, ‘We know where you live’ letter from a guy with shady associates, delivered after dark, is something else. I took down Weep for Wales 12.
Which prompted a second hand-delivered letter from Myles Andrew Cunliffe on August 27. (This one pushed through my letter-box in daylight.) Another rambling missive listing ‘threats’ against him and his family that were never made, but threatening to put things right by ‘eradicating’ me! A clear threat on my life which I reported to North Wales Police.
After a few back-covering alterations Weep or Wales 12 went back up on August 29. Weep for Wales 13 soon followed. And now, here we are with Weep for Wales 14.
I should add that North Wales Police are still trying to get hold of Cunliffe, to warn him that threatening to ‘eradicate’ people is not the thing to do, but he’s proving elusive. As this text message from the NWP officer involved makes clear.
My position remains as it was set out in my response to Manleys of Chester and elsewhere. If I’ve made a mistake, then convince me of my error and I’ll amend it or remove it. But any threats will be passed straight on to North Wales Police.
GOING FOR A SONG
In Weep for Wales 13 we learnt that after the liquidation of the holding company, Leisure & Development Ltd, the various pubs, hotels and caravan parks involved went up for auction.
I’m informed that all have been sold with the exception of the two Powys properties. Though it’s rarely that simple with the Williams gang.
For a start, I’m told that the Knighton Hotel was sold to someone who immediately put it back up for auction! Perhaps after realising that Paul and Rowena Williams still owned parts of this substantial property. They may still own the cellars!
When it comes to the Radnorshire Arms, a former regular at that hostelry tells me, “The Rad is awash with Chinese whispers, a local consortium, local millionaire, far away millionaire and possibly Donald Trump’s chiropodist are all interested!”
UPDATE 23.10.2019: The Knighton Hotel did not sell.
Yet when the Knighton Hotel was bought in 2015 by their company Leisure & Development Ltd the Williams pair claim to have paid £2,881,599. In reality, they paid nothing – because they already owned it. But they still got a loan from the National Westminster Bank.
And that’s why the NatWest is owed £6,202,405.45. But of course this has nothing to do with Paul and Rowena Williams – because they sold Leisure & Development Ltd and everything the company owned to Keith Part(d)ridge in February 2018 – don’t you remember!
That’s how they operated their mortgage fraud. They borrowed money from the National Westminster Bank to ‘buy’ properties they already owned. Where’s the money now? Who knows? Well, obviously, Paul and Rowena Williams know, but they aren’t telling. And, worse, nobody seems to be asking.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN GWYNEDD?
I’ve mentioned Plas Glynllifon, the vast pile at Llandwrog, south of Caernarfon, but there are, or were, other Gwynedd properties in the Williams portfolio. The Seiont Manor hotel and restaurant at Llanrug, and the Fronoleu country hotel and restaurant near Dolgellau.
The Seiont Manor seemed to be a going concern, but the empty Fronoleu was just left to deteriorate further. Though I’m informed by a good source that the Fronoleu has very recently been bought.
So let’s look at what’s left of the Williams-Cunliffe empire after the collapse of Leisure & Development Ltd.
Polvellan Manor Ltd was dissolved on September 17. The only director at the end was Keith Harvey Partdridge.
Rural Retreats & Development Ltd is still with us, the two directors being Paul Williams and Myles Cunliffe. Though the shares are equally divided between Mylo Capital Ltd (a Cunliffe company) and Rowena Williams. After changing its registered address in December from Plas Glynllifon to a Manchester office, it moved again last month to ‘Llwyn y Brain Lodge, Llanrug’.
Llwyn y Brain may be close to Seiont Manor. Certainly the eatery at Seiont Manor is known as Llwyn y Brain Restaurant. Though seeing ‘Lodge’ in the name makes me think of the house at the end of the drive, on Llanberis Road. This picture shows the Lodge looking south west to Buarthau; Seiont Manor itself is north east of the Lodge.
Companies House has been informed of the situation but has taken no action.
Plas Glynllifon Ltd is in no better health than the other companies. It too shuffled from Plas Glynllifon to Manchester and now Llwyn y Brain Lodge. The two directors are Cunliffe and Rowena Williams (Paul Williams resigned last month) and the shares are split equally between Rowena Williams and Mylo Capital Ltd. It should go without saying that the accounts are overdue.
Looking at the extant companies and the properties not in the hands of receivers I found 15 charges against companies and seven against properties, all with Together Commercial Finance Ltd.
But then, Commercial Finance Ltd itself has nine outstanding charges with the Royal Bank of Scotland. It’s the money merry-go-round.
‘Respectable’ banks raise money
They will lend to chancers, fraudsters and con artists – once
‘Respectable’ banks also make loans to lenders of last resort like Together Commercial Finance Ltd
Lenders of last resort then lend it to chancers, fraudsters and con artists who have exhausted their credit with ‘respectable’ banks.
Chancers, fraudsters and con artists from England use money from both sources to buy property in Wales
This may involve mortgage fraud, tax evasion and other ‘sidelines’
Few if any jobs will be created for locals, certainly no good jobs
These scams are hailed by ‘Welsh’ media and politicians as ‘investment’
Once they’ve got enough money stashed away, aforementioned chancers, fraudsters and con artists go belly-up or leg it
News media and politicians ignore such outcomes
Receivers, security firms, auctioneers, etc – all from England – make money from property of liquidated companies
The losers will be local staff, tradesmen and suppliers
Wales loses out in every sense, especially if con artists have received public funding, which happens far too often
Chancers, fraudsters and con artists start up again and cycle repeats itself
Alternatively, their assets are taken over by serious crooks who use them to ‘refresh’ money from other ventures
This is not the capitalist system I support, and I find it worrying that so many agencies that should be intervening seem to dismiss it as ‘victimless’, white collar crime. It may even be regarded benevolently because it generates wealth and puts money into the UK economy, like drug trafficking and other criminal activity.
THE BIG HOUSE
In the past few weeks I have received many notifications from Companies House regarding Myles Andrew Cunliffe and companies with which he’s associated, plus information from other quarters. So let’s look at just some of it.
I’ve mentioned Llwyn y Brain Lodge already, the new ‘home’ for Rural Retreats & Development Ltd and Plas Glynllifon Ltd, well it’s also the new address for the following Cunliffe companies:
Which suggests that Myles Andrew Cunliffe is settling in nicely. Though in the case of the second company in the list, it transferred to Llwyn y Brain on September 16 but Cunliffe ceased to be a director on the 18th. Which is odd, because the only director remaining has no known connection with Wales, and he joined on the very day Cunliffe left.
In addition to these companies, Cunliffe joined Save and Support PLC (Incorporated 25 April 2019) as a replacement for James Ellis.
UPDATE 22:20: Save and Support may provide a thread worth following. On 20 August, the day that Cunliffe’s associate, Sean Colin Hornby, joined Save and Support PLC, three directors left. These were: Peter John Parry, Adam Peter Parry and Joseph Peter Parry, almost certainly father and sons.
What makes this interesting is that Parry senior is also a director of Creating Enterprise CIC, a subsidiary of Cartrefi Conwy Cyf, which is based in Mochdre, just a hoot and a holler from Grwp Llandrillo-Menai’s Llandrillo campus.
Elsewhere, you will remember that in the previous episode we looked at the strange case of Cunliffe’s business partner Dennis Rogers, and the possible connection with Arron Banks and the mysterious millions that funded the 2016 Leave campaign. (If you haven’t read it then I suggest you read Weep for Wales 13 now.)
It seems that since Weep for Wales 13 appeared on August 31 Dennis Rogers has been reducing his profile, ceasing to be a director of a few companies. I hope it was nothing I said!
But this section is titled The Big House for a reason. In the previous post I linked to this story from North Wales Live on July 8 which told us that Paul and Rowena Williams had bought Plas Glynllifon in 2016, and that Myles Andrew Cunliffe was now a 50/50 partner.
But then I got to wondering . . .
As you can imagine, I’ve got hundreds of documents and images for Paul and Rowena Williams and their associates – but did I have the Williams’ Land Registry title document for Plas Glynllifon? So I started searching.
All I could find for the Williams duo relating to Plas Glynllifon was this title document which refers to ‘land adjoining Glynllifon College’ for which £630,000 was paid in 2017. But nothing for Plas Glynllifon. So I went back to the Land Registry and did a map search.
In which case, how could Paul and Rowena Williams have bought Plas Glynllifon in 2016? And how could Myles Cunliffe now own half? I suppose there are a number of possibilities.
Perhaps the purchase of Plas Glynllifon in 2016 was not registered with the Land Registry. If so, why not? Why register the purchase of ‘land adjoining’ but not the Plas itself?
Maybe the Plas wasn’t purchased at all, maybe Paul and Rowena Williams entered into some kind of lease or rental agreement with Grwp Llandrillo-Menai. If so, what are the terms of this agreement? (Though the only lease shown on the title document is for an electricity sub-station.)
I’m genuinely confused, so I’d like some answers to a few simple questions:
1/ Who owns Plas Glynllifon?
2/ If Plas Glynllifon is owned by Grwp Llandrillo-Menai, what arrangement does it have with Paul and Rowena Williams; and now, Myles Andrew Cunliffe, and whoever Cunliffe might be representing?
3/ If Plas Glynllifon is owned by Paul and Rowena Williams/Myles Andrew Cunliffe and partner(s) – as they claim – why isn’t the ownership registered with the Land Registry?
UPDATE 05.11.2019: In the hope of settling the question of who owns Plas Glynllifon, the mansion, I wrote to Grwp Llandrillo-Menai.
The e-mail I received from the company secretary of Grwp Llandrillo-Menai concluded: “With regards to document CYM8531, thank you, the Grŵp will be following the matter of accuracy up with our Estate Solicitor and the Land Registry in due course.”
The clear suggestion being that the title document for Plas Glynllifon available at the Land Registry, showing the place to be still owned by Grwp Llandrillo-Menai, is wrong. I can only think that the Land Registry has not been notified of a change of ownership.
Regular readers will be familiar with the Weep for Wales series of posts which has proved to be so popular in many circles.
It all started in June last year, soon after I received reports on the behaviour of Paul and Rowena Williams, who had run the Knighton Hotel (Knighton) and the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne. They owned other pubs and hotels over the border.
Both Powys establishments had closed following their alleged sale to convicted fraudster and acquaintance of the Williams couple, Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge, in February 2018. For by now the couple had moved up to Gwynedd, where they’d bought the imposing Plas Glynllifon.
The series continued with further reports and reached Weep for Wales 11 on December 3. In a couple of updates to that post I introduced Myles Andrew Cunliffe, who seemed to be taking over the Williams’ businesses in north Gwynedd.
I was preparing for Christmas when, on the 22nd or 23rd, I received a letter from a Chester solicitor demanding that I take down everything I had ever written about Paul and Rowena Williams. Here’s the letter and my response.
The arrogance of this letter was breathtaking – did they really think that after all the information people had given me, and after all the research I’d done, I would just throw my hands up and say, ‘Fair enough, I’ll scrub it all’.
My next mention of Plas Glynllifon and those associated with the old pile was in Weep for Wales 11a, of February 5. With Weep for Wales 12 coming out on March 18.
Then, on March 26, I received a letter from Myles Andrew Cunliffe, hand delivered after dark. Here’s the letter and the envelope.
That it was delivered by hand suggested this was a, ‘We know where you live’ kind of letter. I mean, seeing as Cunliffe had my address he could have put a stamp on the envelope and posted it.
The letter itself was a rambling attack on me and my “slanderous and dangerous blog”. Apparently I had attacked Cunliffe, threatened him, and put his family in danger. Absolute bollocks. I’d never even mentioned his family . . . unless he’s related to the Williams gang.
Uncertain of who or what I was dealing with, and how far Cunliffe and his associates might be prepared to go, I pulled Weep for Wales 12 together with Weep for Wales 11a and the updates to Weep for Wales 11.
Throughout the Weep for Wales saga I’d received strange and menacing comments to the blog. Towards the end of June these took a more sinister turn when I was told, “I know where you live expect a visit soon keep looking over your shoulder”. (Punctuation!)
This was reported to North Wales Police, who were given the background and context. I made it clear that I didn’t wish to make a case of it yet, but I wanted my concerns logged. Everything is now on record.
I have put back the updates for Weep for Wales 11, plus Weep for Wales 11a and Weep for Wales 12. I did this because I’m just too old and too pissed off to be threatened by shyster lawyers in border towns enjoying a parasitic relationship with my homeland and the ‘businessmen’ they represent.
That said, if anyone can prove that something I’ve written is incorrect then, fair enough, I’ll make the necessary changes. But anyone demanding that I take down everything I’ve ever written might as well enclose an application form to join the Labour Party.
Solicitor’s letter and application form will be treated equally.
As you’ll know, this blog has two main themes: the first is exposing the corrupt and incompetent politicians and others to be found in Cardiff Bay, county halls and other locations across the land; with the second being investigating the shysters who come to Wales to enrich themselves at our expense, be they the parasites of the poverty industry (third sector), or out-and-out crooks like the Williams gang.
These two strands should be separate, but no, for they have a symbiotic relationship.
‘Welsh’ Labour encourages the poverty industry in order to provide jobs for party cronies, the favour returned by the third sector painting a picture of poverty that can be blamed on ‘London’/Tories in order to keep people voting Labour.
The utter incompetence at all levels of officialdom in Wales and the inability to build up an economy results in magic bean salesmen flooding over the border to grab the grants and anything else that might be on offer – this to be dressed up by the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ as ‘investment’, and jobs.
In the BBC report I’ve linked to about the Afan Valley Adventure Resort you’ll see that Woodhouse and his imaginative business methods were investigated earlier this year by ITV News and the Guardian. It had to be this way because the mainstream media in Wales either gave Woodhouse a free ride or else acted as cheerleader.
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but apart from this blog and Econews West Wales I don’t think any media platform or outlet in Wales questioned Woodhouse’s bona fides. That’s because, with a few exceptions, the ‘Welsh media’ operates in a colonialist fashion by relaying the London line while not stirring up the natives with too much bad news, relying on press releases from the likes of Woodhouse, Cunliffe and Paul Williams to pad out the business pages.
So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that just before Paul and Rowena Williams washed up at Plas Glynllifon Woodhouse had been sniffing around, but pissed on his own chips when his company MBI Hotels announced that the place was to be renamed ‘Wynnborn’.
Very soon after this debacle Woodhouse resigned as a director of MBI Hotels, returning in March 2017 after the company had been renamed Giant Hospitality Ltd.
For like so many others I write about, Woodhouse is or has been involved with over a hundred companies, which keep changing their names.
And it’s made so much easier for them because Wales is so corrupt, because officialdom is so inept, because Wales has no functioning media, and no effective political opposition.
I believe Wales is in such a mess, with things about to get even worse, that somebody has to tell it like it is. That’s why I do what I do. And that’s why I shall now start work on Weep for Wales 13, which will be published next week.
It’s going to take a considerable amount of work because so much information has piled up in recent months. Anyone with information on any of the players can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any lawyer considering getting in touch on behalf of any of the stars in this series really should think again. Anyone minded to issue threats can rest assured that they will be reported to North Wales Police.
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’.)
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Do these overseas buyers really exist?
If they do, did they really pay any money or are their names being used?
And if they did pay money, where did that money come from?
And where did it go?
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.
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.
Which raises the question of whether Mostyn Estates Ltd is aware of this interesting development. Or whether it’s even legal.
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.
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:
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.
My response was summed up in a tweet I put out on Saturday to accompany the article: “Listen, Rob, if you and your @WelshLabour mates down Corruption Bay had done the basic checks into Gavin Woodhouse and @Afan_ValleyAR you would have laughed him away and wouldn’t be ‘disappointed’ now. You’ve got no one to blame but your council and @WelshGovernment.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’).
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.
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.
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!
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 . . .
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.
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.”
EXPLANATION: This post was originally put up on March 18 and taken down after I received a hand-delivered letter after dark on March 26. Having now given the matter considerable thought I have reinstated this posting and will continue with the Weep for Wales series.
A short explanation was posted in place of Weep for Wales 12, which garnered the comments you’ll see prior to the reposting on August 25.
Those who follow soap operas will be familiar with new characters appearing and old favourites being written out. And so it is with this saga that began with Paul and Rowena Williams. For as they (appear to) slip into the wings new figures take to the stage.
We left the story, at Weep for Wales 11A, having just met the latest addition to the cast in the form of Myles Andrew Cunliffe. So how is Myles settling in, and what have we learnt about him?
On 19 February Companies House was notified that Rowena Williams ceased to be a director of Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, the company that, apparently, owns Plas Glynllifon. This leaves Paul Williams and Myles Cunliffe as directors. Though the 10,000 shares are divided equally between Rowena Williams and Mylo Capital Ltd, which is of course Cunliffe’s company.
Gwesty Seiont Manor Ltd is in the process of being struck off. And as I also reported in Weep for Wales 11A, the registered office address for Seiont Manor Hotel Limited – sole director Rikki Reynolds – has moved from Plas Glynllifon to the office of accountant and convicted fraudster John Duggan in Leintwardine, Craven Arms. And now there is a third company using the Seiont Manor name in the form of Seiont Manor Ltd, which has a Manchester address and Cunliffe as sole director.
We also learnt that staff were not being paid at Seiont Manor. And the news spread within the industry to the point where warnings were being posted on social media.
What I may have neglected to mention is that Plas Glynllifon Limited, which owns the mansion and some land around, for which Paul and Rowena Williams ‘paid’ £630,000 in 2016, now has three directors; the gruesome twosome and Cunliffe. The registered office address for this outfit has also moved to the Manchester address used by Cunliffe, but nothing has yet been filed with Companies House to tell us how the shares are allocated.
Also worth noting is that there are no less than eight outstanding charges against Plas Glynllifon Limited, all held by Together Commercial Finance Ltd.
NEW PLOT LINES
You’ll recall that in Weep for Wales 10 I reported on the former member of staff, a disabled man, who’d taken Paul and Rowena Williams to an Industrial Tribunal and been awarded £27,907.42. The details are here.
Well, there’s been another case and this time the award was just under £12,000.
You’ll notice in the report Paul Williams claiming he didn’t turn up in court because he didn’t realise the case was on. The implication being that had he known he would have scampered to the court-house, camped outside overnight, and then exposed this scalawag trying to besmirch his impeccable reputation.
This is pure Paul Williams. Whenever he’s called to an ‘awkward’ interview or meeting he avoids attending with some silly excuse – he’s gone down with Yellow Jack, been trampled by a runaway rhino, abducted by aliens . . .
The bloke is such a liar he should try his hand at writing. He could be the next Jeffrey Archer.
It should also go without saying that neither of those former employees awarded money will ever see a penny – for on his way to the bank Paul Williams will be ambushed by Jesse James and his gang!
Another piece of important news is that the Administrator’s progress report for Leisure & Development Limited came out last week. Here it is full. Section 1.1.2 says a lot about Paul and Rowena Williams. As does 1.1.7.
While I’m not holding my breath, 1.2 does offer hope that these bastards will get the comeuppance they deserve.
Interesting for its omission was any mention of the eleven million pounds earlier claimed by Paul and Rowena Williams, a sum that made them the biggest creditors. Because, you’ll recall, they said they’d sold Leisure & Development Limited to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge for £11m just before the company went belly-up but never saw the money.
All that’s left of the Williams empire in Gwynedd appears to be poor neglected Fronoleu, near Dolgellau. A Seiont Manor employee still lives in the seven-bedroom house near to the former restaurant, but his dreams of taking over a refurbished Fronoleu – which is what he was promised – have gone up in smoke.
Though maybe I shouldn’t say that, because I’ve had reports of a couple of suspicious fires associated with Paul Williams. One recent report tells of a fire at Plas Glynllifon:
” . . . there was a fire at the Plas on the Saturday before Halloween . . . all the students had left for half term . . . the fire which was in the courtyard at the back of the mansion and . . . that fire would have burnt the whole house down without any doubt . . . it had started in a bin that held aerosols and paint cans . . . I saw a land rover . . . driving . . . right by the fire, he could not have missed it. I presumed he (the driver) would have called the brigade . . . they had not received a call, and when . . . fire brigade arrive the same land rover drove quickly away from the mansion . . . “.
This could be dismissed as an accidental fire witnessed by someone with an over-active imagination, were it not for the timing. For by late October Paul and Rowena Williams knew their canoe was heading not for Goa but Shit Creek.
They were desperate. And that explains why, just a short time after the fire, Myles Andrew Cunliffe appeared on the scene.
Before leaving Gwynedd I should mention an e-mail I received from someone living near Fronoleu. The message said that the writer was distressed at the state of the (even more distressed) building and was prepared to buy it. So could I provide an address for the owners.
All I could tell them was that I had sent my Christmas card (£20 note enclosed) to, ‘Paul and Rowena Williams, c/o Seiont Manor Hotel, etc‘.
Now we’re off to Cornwall, from where I’ve also received a number of interesting reports.
The first suggests that Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge is buying the Garrack Hotel in St Ives and plans to turn it into ‘accommodation’ of some kind. Staff at the Garrack knew nothing of Part(d)ridge until someone did an internet search and came across the Weep for Wales series, now the staff are very worried.
Though the question remains, for whom is Part(d)ridge buying the Garrack? And how unsavoury does the real buyer have to be to use Part(d)ridge as a front man?
Another convicted fraudster who’s done time is Stuart Paul Cooper who leases the Waves Bar from dissolved Leisure & Development Limited. A bit of a lad, Cooper, who likes to threaten people with violence or arson. (Often both.) Even though he runs the bar the drinks licence is obviously not in his name.
The licence was originally held by Rowena Williams, who of course lived a few hundred miles away, so Cornwall County Council put a stop to that and it was transferred to Cooper’s live-in girlfriend Donna Armstrong, or Westmorland, or whatever name she might be using at any given time.
Companies House seem to know her as Armstrong and she was a director of the Waves Bar and Restaurant Limited, a company set up in April 2017 and dissolved in August 2018 without filing anything of note with Companies House. But then, in September 2018, she and co-director Richard Edward Mayfield set up the Waves Restaurant and Bar Limited.
Doesn’t anyone at Companies House think that’s a bit suspicious?
There is a third company, with Anderson as sole director, and this is Waves Resort and Leisure Ltd, Incorporated in September 2018. The other two can be dismissed as shell companies, but this third company has a single £25,000 share, which is intriguing.
Stuart Paul Cooper, has been imaginatively described to me as a ‘nose hoover’. Rikki Reynolds, who’s been running Seiont Manor, has a similar liking for the white stuff. And that’s not the only similarity, for here’s a story about Reynolds I was sent a while back but agreed to sit on. I’ve now had clearance to use it.
Talking of cocaine and similar substances, it is even suggested that the Waves Bar might be an entrepôt for exotic goods from faraway places landing at Looe.
Before leaving Cornwall, and Looe, I should remind you that there is still Polvellan Manor Ltd which presumably owns the property of the same name. Partdridge is the sole director, but the shares are split equally between him and Paul and Rowena Williams.
Also based at Polvellan Manor is Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, which the gruesome twosome tried to dissolve last year. The sole director here is the mysterious Michael Jones.
AND THE LATEST ADDITION TO THE CAST
Now let’s turn to the new star of the show, Myles Andrew Cunliffe, who seems to have taken over both Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, though official paperwork is still scarce.
As I’ve mentioned previously, Cunliffe’s early background is in personal finance and second-hand cars.
As is my wont when looking into the background of someone like Cunliffe I like to draw up a list of the companies with which they’ve been involved. And that’s what I’ve done. Here’s the document in pdf format with the company name acting as a hyper link.
I’m also making the document available in png format. The links don’t work of course but some of you may find it easier to follow. I suggest you keep it open in a different window.
If we look at the document – ordered by date of company formation – we see that the early companies were in the personal finance and second-hand car sector I mentioned. But then, from late in 2011, there’s a switch into property and freight. The two are separated by a black line.
Now let me explain the colouring. The ones shaded in blue are Williams companies that Cunliffe has taken over. The ones at the bottom, in pink, are perhaps replacement companies recently formed by Cunliffe. The ones shaded yellow are companies where Cunliffe’s arrival coincided – almost to the day – with the leaving of Baron Alex Bloom. (Of whom more in a minute.)
The unshaded companies are either dissolved, in the process of being dissolved, or else too new to know much about.
Right, so who is Baron Alex Bloom? An internet search throws up any number of stories about this colourful character, starting here in 2003. But after time in jail this millionaire’s son ‘bounced back’ in 2006. And to bring you up to date here he is in 2018 being accused of dishonesty by a judge during divorce proceedings. ‘Shome mishtake, shurely!’ as Lord Gnome would put it.
I’m not quite sure how this works, but if you check the chronology, you’ll see that Cunliffe very often becomes a director just before a company goes under. He’s almost like a priest called in to administer the last rites.
And that, I strongly suspect, is what’s happening in north Gwynedd. Cunliffe hasn’t been brought in to rescue Paul and Rowena Williams, there’ll be no money invested in Plas Glynllifon or Seiont Manor; he’s there for other reasons.
When you look through the property and freight companies Cunliffe has been involved with you’re immediately struck by the lack of what Woody Guthrie called the ‘Do Re Mi’, the moolah, the greenbacks.
It’s interesting that the Daily Mail account of the divorce proceedings makes clear that Mrs Bloom comes from a wealthy Russian family. Which means that for a while at least Baron Alex Bloom had links to serious Russian money. Maybe he still has.
His Linkedin profile takes us back to 1997 when he was a sales director for a timeshare company on Gran Canaria. He still lives in Spain, in Marbella, and is now a Spanish citizen, though his Linkedin profile does not list all the companies with which he’s been involved. I’ll try to fill in the lacunae.
Goldmann and Sons PLC Incorporated 24.07.2015. (‘Financial intermediation not elsewhere classified. Other business support service activities not elsewhere classified’.) Neil Cunliffe was a director from 03.04.2018 to 06.05.2018. Myles Cunliffe was a director from 16.03.2017 to 19.10.2018.
The Vanguard Group Limited (‘Development of building projects’.) Incorporated 12.01.2017. Neil Cunliffe was a director between 04.04.2018 and 28.07.2018. No accounts ever filed with Companies House. This company was dissolved 05.03.2019.
Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis Capital (Spain) Limited (‘Central banking. Banks. Financial intermediation not elsewhere classified’.) Incorporated 14.03.2018, name changed from Goldmann and Sons (Spain) Limited in January 2019. Neil George Cunliffe was first and sole director until 01.08.2018 when he was replaced by Thomas James Ellis. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.
Vanguard Land Limited (‘Development of building projects’.) Incorporated 17.05.2018. Neil Cunliffe has been one of the two directors since Incorporation. This company was floated with share capital of 1,000,000 £1 shares. Cunliffe holds 499,000 of the shares. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.
Arden Wealth Limited (‘Management consultancy activities other than financial management’.) Incorporated 12.06.2018. Neil Cunliffe was one of the two founding directors and remains a director. This company was formed with share capital of £5,000,000 divided equally between the two directors. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.
Kenlife Consulting Limited (Management consultancy activities other than financial management.) Incorporated 29.10.2018. Cunliffe was the founding and sole director and holder of the single £1 share until 04.03.2019 when he was joined by a Dutch resident with an Arab-sounding name and an Omani. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.
Do you see the pattern here? – short-lived companies . . . forming and folding with no paperwork filed . . . people holding directorships for very short periods . . . foreign investors . . .
In my investigations I unearthed a whole stable of companies carrying the Goldmann label, and all follow the same pattern. They have either been set up very recently, which means it’s too early for accounts, etc, or, if they’re a few years old, then they’ve been dissolved. Either way, we know little or nothing about them.
Anyone hoping to see Plas Glynllifon become a top class resort hotel, with high-rollers flying in and out of Caernarfon airport; or the Seiont Manor Hotel get mentioned in the Michelin Guide, should wise up and realise that’s not why people buy these properties.
And this doesn’t just apply to the current owners. Or to these properties.
For we have a problem in Wales that I have mentioned before. While we may not have many mansions as grand as Plas Glynllifon we still have thousands of buildings for which there is no viable commercial future, so they get bought by the kinds of people we’ve looked at in the Weep for Wales series.
And it’s so easy.
On the one hand we have a self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, and local authorities – both bereft of ideas – desperately promoting tourism; to the extent that any shyster moving in and buying Neuadd Cwmscwt is hailed as the economic salvation of the area. Not only that – but he/she will very likely receive grants!
Then we have the local media. In the whole saga of Plas Glynllifon under Paul and Rowena Williams the Daily Post published one puff after another. To all intents and purposes the ‘paper was acting as a PR outlet for these crooks. I can imagine the DP editor phoning up Plas Glynllifon on a slow news day and begging, ‘Do you have anything you’d like us to publish for you, Mr Williams – anything!’
There are very few journalists left in Wales. Nobody seems to do background checks and ask the pertinent questions.
Finally, our police forces are overstretched and under-resourced, and no matter what they might suspect, they can do nothing. And anyway, sophisticated crimes like those we’re looking at may be out of their league and their jurisdictions.
We are at the stage now where we, as a country, need to make decisions about grand buildings that serve no purpose, have no future, and fall prey to a succession of undesirables who arrive announcing grand plans that never come to anything.
Rather than allowing Wales to become a haven for asset-strippers, mortgage fraudsters, money-launderers, etc., it might be best to compulsorily purchase and then demolish places like Plas Glynllifon.
I’ve burdened you with a few heavyweight issues of late and now I’m going to make up for it with this relatively short piece in which I look at tourist tat, give a brief update on the Williams gang and new boy Myles Cunliffe in Weep for Wales 11a, before rounding off with an appeal for a better system than funding organisations that have no intention of ever dealing with the problem they’re paid to deal with.
As you know, every December I haul the old Jones carcass down to Cilmeri where the craic is good in the company of old comrades from the 1960s (though fewer every year), and this in no way detracts from the solemnity of the occasion, or the fiery speeches at the monument.
Among the regulars are some of our Breton cousins, one of them, Gwion, first came to Wales many, many years ago as a student teacher; a nice lad who unfortunately fell in with a bad crowd . . . that included myself. Ah! happy days.
After Cilmeri this year our Breton guests went to a number of castles and historic sites to soak up some history and culture before heading to St Fagan’s. Where they intended spending money on Welsh goods.
Among their purchases was a scarf, a red, Welsh scarf. This was left in the bag until they returned home . . . when the full horror of what had happened was revealed.
You’ll see that not only does this scarf carry the ‘Ich Dien’ logo of Charles Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, but it was made in China! Yet the receipt insists it is a ‘Welsh’ scarf.
After receiving the information and the photographs I got to wondering who could be responsible, who was guilty of perpetrating this deception in our name, so I did some checking.
The receipt mentions ‘NMGW Enterprises Ltd’, but nothing comes up for that name on the Companies House website. Next stop was the website for National Museum Wales where, on the ‘Corporate Partnerships’ page (scroll down), I found this reference to NMGW Enterprises.
A bit more ferreting gave me the name I was looking for – Mentrau Amgueddfeydd ac Orieliau Cenedlaethol Cymru / National Museums & Galleries of Wales Enterprises Ltd. Here’s the Companies House entry.
A number of things concern me, and should concern anyone who cares about Wales.
First off, looking at the directors of NMGW Enterprises, there is a worrying lack of Welsh involvement. (Even the auditors are in Walsall!) Which might explain why tourist tat made in China is being passed off as Welsh and damaging our country’s reputation.
Seeing as NMGW Enterprises is owned by National Museum Wales I suggest that that body either reins in these cowboys or else removes from its website actionable lies about ‘Welsh-made products’. Preferably the former.
And because the ‘Welsh Government’ has ultimate responsibility for our museums and galleries – and may even have appointed the directors of NMGW Enterprises – I also expect to see some action from that quarter.
Wales is supposedly going for up-market tourism and yet, at one of our flagship visitor attractions, people are offered rubbish you’d expect to see sold by a spiv down from London to capitalise on a rugby or football international.
WEEP FOR WALES 11a
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.
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.
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.
Let’s start with the introduction, where it says, “Lindsay Cordery-Bruce, chief executive of Wales’ leading homelessness charity The Wallich, makes an impassioned call to recognise that our current systems of support to tackle the issue of rough sleeping in Wales clearly aren’t working”. And there are good reasons for why they aren’t working, as I shall explain.
After being introduced as CEO of “Wales’ leading homelessness charity” Ms Cordery-Bruce then, and rather confusingly, began her article with: “Across the UK, including in Wales . . . “. Why would the CEO of Wales’ biggest such charity, operating solely in Wales, and writing about homelessness in Wales, have to put her thoughts into a UK framework for a Welsh readership?
It makes no sense unless you appreciate that the Wallich, like most third sector bodies in Wales, operates in an Englandandwales framework, throwing Welsh money at what are often transferred English problems. (Housing associations are particularly guilty in this regard.)
But of course the Wallich is not alone, for as the ‘Welsh Government was only too pleased to tell me, there are no fewer than 48 homelessness charities / businesses operating in Wales.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that they’re all as big as the Wallich, but the Wallich is not without serious rivals. With all of them soaking up vast amounts of public funding. To illustrate my point let me walk you through the latest available accounts for the Wallich. (Keep this pdf file open in a separate window.)
Let’s start on page 8, where we see that the Wallich has £2,778,887 squirrelled away in investments. In addition, page 21 tells us that there is another £3,574,617 in readies. Whence cometh these shekels?
Well, page 29 informs us that in 2018 £7,981,735 came from the ‘Welsh Government’ and local authorities. Another £3,993,798 came from rents. This is clearly no hand-to-mouth charity, this is a serious commercial undertaking, and the commodity bringing in this money is homeless people.
That the Wallich is a big company and a major employer is made clear on page 31, where we learn that £8,019,182 went on staff costs (for 381 employees), of which Ms Cordery-Bruce herself pulled down £100,000+. (Though in the previous year the CEO who preceded Ms C-B seems to have been paid less than £80,000.)
To sum up, we have in Wales a homelessness industry made up of dozens of organisations, all reliant to a greater or lesser degree on public funding, and all with a vested interest in not solving the problem of homelessness because to do so would put them out of a job.
Which also means that if Wales cannot provide enough homeless then they will be brought in from England . . . as will the drug addicts, and the ex-cons, and the paedophiles and the problem families for housing associations and others.
Why does the ‘Welsh Government’ not put a stop to this obvious rip-off? Because there is electoral advantage to be gained from keeping Wales poor, which runs: ‘Look at all the homeless . . . see how poor Wales is? . . . it’s all the fault of them Tories . . . vote Labour!’
We have reached the stage where it would be far cheaper for the ‘Welsh Government’ to take direct responsibility in certain sectors currently exploited by an out-of-control third sector and bring down costs by actually solving the problem rather than by keeping it going for personal gain.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Unusually, perhaps, Mysing Capital Ltdappears 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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
Irrespective of how that works out push on with your plan.
If planning permission refused, insist on retrospective permission.
Count on council caving in on the grounds of being unable to justify spending public money in pursuing a legal case against you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This portfolio included properties in Cornwall and Northumbria but the gang’s ‘heartland’ was Powys and over the border in Shropshire and Herefordshire.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.