Miscellany 17.02.2020

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

A bit of a mixed bag this week; the unifying thread being the stupidity of those puffed-up buffoons down Cardiff docks who want to be seen as the ‘Welsh Government’.

SOCIAL HOUSING, OR IS IT?

To kick off, I am indebted to the meticulous and conscientious Wynne Jones, who is a great source for ‘Welsh Government’ wrongdoing and local cock-ups down Cardigan way. For it’s in the fair town of Aberteifi that we start.

With Cardigan Hospital, which was built and long sustained by the donations and goodwill of people in the town and surrounding area. But now it’s deemed surplus to the requirements of Hywel Dda University Health Board and the building is to be handed over to one of Labour’s favourite housing associations, Wales and West.

Though the lack of openness has not gone down well locally. The sale to Wales and West seems to be a done deal, yet the details are vague in the extreme. When Wynne asked for information on the quoted ‘open market valuation’ the response to his FoI said that it, er, hadn’t actually been done . . . but they were working on it, sort of.

Clearly, this is a deal done behind closed doors in the glorious traditions of the Labour Party. And not for the first time; for since taking over Tai Cantref, of Castell Newydd Emlyn, Wales and West has been flexing its muscles in the area.

And while it may be headquartered in Cardiff Wales and West, fittingly, also has an office in Labour’s last remaining Westminster constituency in the north, at Ewloe on Deeside.

The latest news is that a drop-in session has been organised for the end of this month in which, according to the Tivy-side Advertiser, “The people of Cardigan will be asked for their views on how best to use the site of the former Cardigan Hospital”.

Click to enlarge

According to the article W&W is still in talks with Hywel Dda Health Authority over buying the hospital. So if it still owns the hospital why isn’t Hywel Dda organising the public consultation?

All pretence goes out the window later in the article when Wales and West bigwigs explain what they plan to do . . . with the building they haven’t yet bought!

Group CEO Anne Hinchey, the wife of Cardiff Labour councillor Graham Hinchey, makes a contribution. Also quoted is her deputy, Shane Hembrow, who for reasons best known to himself cultivates the look of a villain out of a Victorian melodrama. (Who will rescue poor Nell?)

All joking aside, social housing is now in crisis.

Many will recall the campaigns persuading council house tenants to agree to stock transfers, so that housing associations could take over. Most Welsh councils lost their housing stock in this way to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).

Which gave us dozens of housing associations, spending hundreds of millions of pounds of public money, competing with each other, and swallowing each other up. Having the ear of the Labour Party in this dog-eat-dog environment was always an advantage.

All this was threatened when, towards the end of 2016, the Office for National Statistics dropped a bombshell by announcing that RSLs would in future be classed as public bodies.

Click to enlarge

This was bad news all round. For it would have meant that RSLs’ debts would have gone onto the UK Government’s books. Putting them in the public sector might also have resulted in more openness, perhaps making housing associations subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This unwelcome outcome was avoided by fresh legislation in England and the devolved administrations. For Wales, it came in the form of the Regulation of Registered Social Landlords (Wales) Act 2018.

Which resulted in RSLs becoming private bodies, but still in receipt of public funding! If they hadn’t already done so then they set up subsidiaries – unregulated offshoots building homes for sale on the open market, often using public money siphoned from the parent company.

The justification for building houses and flats to be sold in this way was that the money made would be transferred to the parent body for it to build more social housing.

It was a lie.

Just think about. If Tai Cwmscwt has a spare £5m why ‘lend’ it to a subsidiary and get back a percentage when it could have spent the whole £5m on social housing. And if there’s no demand for social housing then obviously Tai Cwmscwt is over-funded.

The truth is that very little of the money made by the subsidiaries of privatised RSLs is used to build social housing. Most of it goes back into building more private housing. In rural and coastal areas this housing isn’t even intended to meet a Welsh demand. It’s simple profiteering, building properties to be used as holiday and retirement homes, or sold to ‘investors’.

All of which results in a shortfall in social housing in many areas. Which is why Swansea council has started building council houses again. In the article I’ve linked to you’ll see that “four registered social housing landlords are planning to build 4,000 affordable homes across the county over the next 10 years”.

This is another lie.

‘Affordable’ is a meaningless term used by politicians and others that can cover properties costing £300,000. And as I’ve explained, the now privatised RSLs will be building open market housing not social housing.

Cardiff council also plans to build council houses. Other local authorities are doing the same.

We are obviously at a crossroads in the provision of social housing, by which I mean properties available for local people at rents they can afford.

The biggest asset for many private housing associations, the income from which helps fund the private building spree, is the stock of housing that was transferred from a local authority. (Or in the case of Mid Wales Housing, the Development Board for Rural Wales.)

Should these stock transfers stay with what are now private companies?

Let’s end with a few questions:

  • What is the future role of the now privatised RSLs?
  • Will the ‘Welsh Government’ continue to fund private RSLs?
  • With RSLs concentrating on private developments how does the ‘Welsh Government’ plan to provide an adequate supply of good quality rented social housing at affordable rents?
  • If the rented social housing role is to revert to local authorities, will the ‘Welsh Government’ arrange to return the housing stock lost in stock transfers?

OLD DEFENSIBLE BARRACKS REVISITED

The week before last I published a couple of pieces looking at the purchase of the Old Defensible Barracks in Pembroke Dock, which I believe links to similar sites in England and Northern Ireland that have been bought by the same Singapore-based investors.

Read them here: Old Defensible Barracks and Old Defensible Barracks 2.

My view is that the three sites – all close to ferry ports – have been bought in anticipation of the need, with increased border checks, for large areas where lorries and other vehicles can be parked while waiting for those checks to be done.

Since writing the second of those pieces I’ve updated it, and further information has come to light, hence this third piece.

First, after Old Defensible Barracks 2 went out 5 February the Western Mail ran a full-page spread on the 11th. (Here in pdf format.)

Click to enlarge

Obviously this article was a press hand-out because when the journalist tried to add a personal touch she located the barracks in Milford Haven not Pembroke Dock.

Since writing those pieces I’ve spoken to one of the previous owners, who had an interesting tale to tell.

The barracks went up for auction last summer with Allsop. A few parties showed interest but no sale resulted. Instead, Allsop themselves produced a mystery buyer. Which perhaps explains the ‘Sold after’ caption you see below.

Click to enlarge

The vendor had no idea who the buyer was, but the sale went through 22 August and the money was in the bank. You’ll recall that despite the passage of six months since the sale the title document at the Land Registry still showed the previous owners.

So I went back to the Land Registry website on Saturday thinking that the recent attention the barracks had been getting might have jolted the new owners into registering their purchase. But no, for the title document is still in the name of the local owners.

Why this reluctance to tell us who now owns this property?

As I’ve said, the theory that I and a few others have, is that the barracks themselves are simply a ‘lever’ to something else, probably land nearby that could serve as a lorry park. But then, last week, another possibility was thrown into the mix – that the Milford Haven Waterway is destined to host one of the promised freeports.

Either option makes sense, and ties in with the Singapore investors at the three sites we looked at in the earlier pieces. For not only is Singapore home to many Asian ferry companies it is also the biggest freeport in the world.

In addition to the investors who are probably native to Singapore we found Trevor Iain Walker, said to be resident there. Whether he is or not is a moot point, Companies House just accepts what it’s told.

Then, comments to the earlier pieces directed me to a US site where we encounter Walker again. And it’s definitely him.

In addition to the UK listed companies there are two more, both registered in Florida. Muniment LLC shares its name with a number of Walkers’s UK companies. The other company, Audica Properties LLC, seems to have been started by Walker in 2014 and then, last year, he was joined by Robin Lim Siew Cheong, who could be another Singaporean investor.

Cheong also has his own US company in Robindra Properties LLC, formed last year.

The picture in Pembroke Dock isn’t clear yet, but these Singapore investors haven’t rocked up to enjoy the view of Neyland. Something is planned for the Dock and it links with Brexit. I suggest it’s either a lorry park or a freeport. Maybe both.

Watch this space!

∼♦∼

THE GREEN ENERGY RIP-OFF

Because of my slant on certain issues some people think I’m opposed to renewable energy, or that I’m a climate change denier. The truth is that I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy – as long as it’s reliable and reasonably cheap; and I’m more of a sceptic than a denier when it comes to climate change.

But I am unequivocal in my hostility to charlatans and shysters, crooks and con men, who come to Wales to rip us off.

Recent examples of the Green energy rip-off you would have found on this blog were the wind turbines at Bryn Blaen that haven’t turned in two years (but still make money for the hedge fund that owns them), and the English-owned, Czech-built hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn that has offered locals a derisory £1,000 a year in ‘community benefit’.

Rhandirmwyn hydro scheme. Click to enlarge

I suppose the basic problem is that Wales has many rivers and streams suitable for hydro projects, and countless hills that will attract those who erect wind turbines. Even so, these natural assets need not lead to us being exploited.

The exploitation happens because virtue-signalling politicians are desperate to show the world that little Wales is playing its part in saving the planet.

It is this desperation to get a pat on the head that opens the gates to the shysters.

HOLYHEAD DEEP

Our next report takes up the coast from Pembroke Dock to another ferry port, at Holyhead, where a northern source suggests I take a look at a company in receipt of mucho dinero from our wonderful ‘Welsh Government’.

The company in question is Minesto, a Swedish company hoping to generate electricity from underwater ‘kites’. Here’s the company website.

There we read:

Click to enlarge

Certainly, the company has a presence in Sweden, because that’s where it’s based. Obviously, I can’t speak for Taiwan.

In Ireland the company’s existence was brief, perhaps no more than a separate listing for the company registered in England and Wales. And yet, according to the Minesto website and other sources the project at Strangford Lough is still running, so how is it being funded?

The sole director of Minesto UK Ltd is Martin Johan Edlund, with Goodwille Ltd serving as secretary. Goodwille takes its name from director George Alexander James Goodwille. The Swedish connection is maintained at Goodwille by director Svante Lennart Stensson Adde.

Before getting into the figures I’d just like to explore the linkages behind Minesto.

Let’s go back to the ‘About us’ panel above. It says that Minesto was founded in 2007 as a spin-off from Saab. That may have been what happened in Sweden, but Minesto UK Ltd was born in June 2008 when Keyrad Ltd, a company formed in 1996, changed its name.

The panel also says, “Main owners are BGA Invest and Midroc New Technology. The Minesto share is listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market in Stockholm.” Telling us that Minesto is wholly owned back in Sweden.

The Midroc link also suggests the underwater kite system belongs to that company.

If we go back to the Minesto website and the Projects tab, there we find Holyhead Deep, the name of Minesto’s Welsh venture. (There’s also a dormant company called Holyhead Deep Ltd, at the same Holyhead address, with the same Martin Edlund as the sole director.)

This website page explains why Minesto came to Wales: “Numerous locations around the UK were considered, but Wales was selected as the preferred option due to the highly suitable environmental conditions and government commitment to marine renewable energy, which offers significant opportunities to attract support and investment into the Holyhead project.”

To cut through the bullshit – the attraction was gullible politicians and easy money. With the panel below making clear that it’s already up to €27.9m.

A total of 27.9m Euros. Click to enlarge.

The extract below from the latest accounts would appear to show that Minesto UK Ltd is entirely dependent on ‘Welsh Government’ funding. I’m surprised there’s no money coming from Sweden. Because I guarantee that – as with Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in the south – any profits will speed their way back to Sweden.

Click to enlarge

So here’s the question – does this investment provide tangible benefits for Ynys Môn and for Wales, or are our politicians paying, yet again, to have their egos massaged and their planet-saving credentials burnished?

  • With £23m+ handed over or promised, how many jobs have been created for local, Welsh people?
  • Given that the owners of Minesto UK Ltd are Swedish, and the patent for the technology is held by a Swedish company, what benefits will accrue to Wales if the technology proves successful?
  • And if it fails, the Swedes walk away without having lost anything while Wales is £23m+ out of pocket.
  • Is funding from Wales being diverted to the Minesto project in Northern Ireland?
  • Are there no better ways to have used £23m+ on Ynys Môn for the benefit of local communities?

UPDATE: My attention has been drawn to one of the logos at the foot of the Minesto website, the one for Horizon 2020  “. . . the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract.”

So where is the ‘private investment’ in Minesto UK Ltd? Is Welsh EU funding being used in place of the private money?

LAST WORD

As I said earlier, I’m not opposed in principle to renewable energy schemes, but they must be of benefit to Wales. But unfortunately they rarely are. Worse, much of what we experience could be viewed as colonialism for the 21st century.

Think of the massive wind farms such as Pen y Cymoedd (or the hydro scheme at Rhandirmwyn) and the pittances offered to locals in compensation. It reminds me of Europeans in Africa or the Americas giving beads to ‘primitives’ in return for their assets or their land. Now we Welsh are the exploited primitives.

Yet we are supposed to welcome it because we’re saving the planet!

Those clowns in Corruption Bay, and their Westminster allies, who sold us short on water, and HS2, who talk Wales down and short-change us at every opportunity, must learn that people get angry when they see money squandered on virtue signalling.

I have a feeling they’ll be getting the message loud and clear in next year’s Assembly elections.

 ♦ end ♦

 

Wales, colonialism and corruption

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 was hoping to take a break from shysters and con men, shell companies and money-laundering, lying politicians and stupid officials because my head is aching from banging it against a brick wall.

But there’s no escape. And those who manage Wales – applying a veneer of native control – are not only too stupid to recognise a crook in plain sight but they give or sell them public assets, or they throw money at them, and this is then dressed up as ‘investment’, which allows them to crow about jobs created . . . and this deception encourages them to anticipate being re-elected as a reward for these ‘successes’.

The disparate components of this post begin with a bit of a rant, an acceptance that corruption in the UK is institutionalised (and therefore unlikely to ever be done away with). Then I move on to consider the curious case of Llangefni’s Shire Hall, before ending with a quick roundup of other items.

SHIP OF KNAVES

After years of studying its underbelly I now believe the United Kingdom is corrupt to the point where no serious effort is made to tackle ‘financial crime’. The unstated view of officialdom is that money is money, and no matter where it comes from it still buys things in the same way as clean money. And once it’s in circulation, boosting the economy, who can tell the difference? Who cares?

Money being created out of nothing ties in with the general contempt at the highest levels of the UK Establishment for making things, and exporting them. Grubby, ‘pleb’ activities. Which in turn accounts for the North-South divide within England. And explains why the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the advanced world.

And yet, while manufacturing in general is held in contempt there’s still a nostalgic fondness for high-end, prestige goods. Defended with ‘Best of British’ jingoism. For example, volume car production can go to the wall but let’s keep making Bentley, Range Rover and Aston Martin.

A mindset mirrored even in the military, where the UK’s armed forces are probably on a par with Spain’s, but what the hell – ‘We’ve got nuclear weapons and the SAS’. Rule Britannia!

The obsession with money and some twisted view of ‘only the best’ is exemplified in the City of London, through which passes most of the world’s dirty money. The City of London with its web of offshore tax havens that begin in the Irish Sea and the Channel.

Or step outside the Square Mile to see where the oligarchs, the kleptocrats, and the mass murderers live . . . or maybe they just buy the big houses as investments. We recently read that Isabel dos Santos, described as ‘Africa’s richest woman’, said to have ‘ripped off’ her native Angola, owns a number of expensive properties in London.

What honest and self-respecting country would welcome and even celebrity kleptocrats like these? Click to enlarge

Under this system, this mindset, everything is monetised, even education. It’s now easier to gain a degree in the UK than perhaps any other western country. This is due the fact that universities are perceived as being businesses. If you can write your name and remember your address then you’re guaranteed a place at ‘uni’, with further money made from foreign students, who can be charged two or three times the rate for domestic students.

The United Kingdom is a ship crewed by knaves floating on a sea of dirty money. No one with an alternative staring them in the face should want to stay on board.

LLANGEFNI SHIRE HALL

Having got that off my chest I’ll turn to a story I first covered back on 6 November. Here it is. In essence, the council on Ynys Môn last year sold the Shire Hall in Llangefni to an English ‘businessman’ named Tristan Scott Haynes.

My piece was prompted by an article I’d seen on NorthWalesLive. I’m returning to it now because the article reappeared in BusinessNewsWales again last Thursday. Repeated word for bloody word.

After reading the BNW article I telephoned Ynys Môn council and spoke with a charming young woman who confirmed that the Shire Hall had indeed been sold 22 August last year. Which made me wonder why there was no media coverage of the sale until November.

Having bought the title document for the Shire Hall when I wrote last November’s piece I was surprised to see that ownership for title CYM716217 was attributed to the council. So I went back to the Land Registry website last week and bought the title document again, assuming that it would now have been updated to show the change of ownership; but as you can see, the council is still listed as owner.

Perplexed by this, I decided to come at the problem from a different angle. You may remember that Tristan Haynes had a couple of companies, one of them was Chief Properties Ltd. There are two charges against Chief Properties and both list title number CYM635210, which is different to the title number I’d bought. (Which I now suspect refers to the new county council offices not far away.)

So it was back to the Land Registry website and the new number I’d unearthed. Here it is, title document and plan. Below you’ll see the Land Registry plan with a capture from Google Maps to give a fuller picture.

Almost a map of Israel (inc West Bank) with Afon Cefni serving as the River Jordan. And the Masonic Lodge on the border. Click to enlarge

The first thing that struck me was the size of this site, sold for £150,000 or less. (You’ll see from the links provided that the indent shaded green is the war memorial.) The title takes in the old town hall, the police station and magistrates court, together with a sizeable car park.

And yet, despite the sale having gone through last August, the title is still in the name of ‘Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn’. So why hasn’t it been transferred to Tristan Scott Haynes or Chief Properties Ltd?

You may have noticed that Haynes borrowed the money to buy the Shire Hall from Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheshire. And if that name sounds familiar it’s because our old friends at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, Paul and Rowena Williams, have outstanding debts with the same company. Together is one of those ‘specialist’ lenders to whom people turn when regular banks respond to loan requests with, ‘You must be joking!’

In the NorthWalesLive article in November (and of course the BusinessNewsWales piece last week) we were told that Haynes is the “managing director of Chief Properties” and “also runs a successful haulage firm”. All designed to impress, yet these are are both one-man bands.

Chief Properties was formed in August 2018 and the first director was Nadine Baldwin, who was joined in September by Haynes. Baldwin left the company in December 2018. I’m assuming there was some connection or relationship between Baldwin and Haynes.

The ‘successful haulage firm’ is Falcon Transportation Ltd. Incorporated 3 July 2015 and seems to have bumped along, doing very little since then. Haynes was the original director but stood down 1 February 2018 to be replaced by Julian Mayne. Haynes made a triumphal return in February 2019 the day after Mayne left.

When he wasn’t directing the haulage fleet in the temporary absence of Tristan Haynes Jools was the mastermind behind Low Cost Bills Ltd. Though when you look into the figures for this company you wonder what Mayne’s day job might have been.

Both of the Haynes companies are based at these imposing offices on Tavistock Street in Bedford. The building is owned by husband and wife David and Michelle Munday, whose company, Orchid National Nursing Supplies Ltd, would appear to use the building as a warehouse.

135 – 137 Tavistock Street, Bedford. Click to enlarge

There was another Haynes company I found, Bullet Strategies Ltd, which lasted about 18 months before being struck off in September 2014. The address given for this company was 8 Howbury Street in Bedford. A terraced house that seems to have been divided into two flats.

Since the November article Tristan Haynes has registered two more companies, both on 4 December. These are, Wasp HQ Ltd and Pine Eels Ltd. Strange names.

Although the company correspondence address for both is the Orchid warehouse on Tavistock Street the address given for Haynes himself is 33A St Peter’s Road, which suggests he might now be living above Bedford Dental Surgery.

On the Companies House website the ‘Nature of business’ (SIC) given for Wasp HQ is, ‘47781 – Retail sale in commercial art galleries; 47782 – Retail sale by opticians;
47789 – Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores (not commercial art galleries and opticians)’.

While for Pine Eels it’s, ‘47789 – Other retail sale of new goods in specialised stores (not commercial art galleries and opticians)’.

Which might suggest that Llangefni Shire Hall will be used for art galleries and opticians . . . except when they’re not art galleries and opticians. (Glad we cleared that up.) And yet the article I’ve referred to mentioned a pod hotel and a conference centre. Are they covered by not being art galleries and opticians?

Come to that, why the hell are we talking about opticians?

To recap. The title was bought last August, Tristan Haynes already had his plans for the site, so presumably planning permission has been granted, or at the very least a  planning application or a request for a change of use has been submitted to the council.

Well, no.

The land was sold last August, there was a bit of publicity in November (regurgitated last week) and then, all of a sudden . . . nothing happened! Not even a change of ownership notified to the Land Registry.

After I wrote the original piece last November I was sent information on Tristan Scott Haynes. It obviously came from someone who knows him well. If only a fraction of that information is correct then Haynes is a dangerous and unprincipled manipulator.

I have chosen to withhold that information, for the time being. But I still have questions for Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn:

  • How was contact first made between the council and Tristan Scott Haynes?
  • Were background checks done by the council; checks that, for example, would have unearthed Haynes’ conviction and imprisonment on Malta?
  • Who recommended selling this land to Haynes?
  • Who authorised selling this land to Haynes?
  • Has the council been paid the agreed sale price?
  • Why hasn’t the Land Registry been informed of the sale and the change of ownership that took place over five months ago?
  • Has the sale definitely gone through?
  • What contact does the council now have with Haynes?
  • In the news articles Haynes talks of a ‘pod hotel‘. Does anyone really think that Llangefni needs such a venture?
  • Or is it to be an art galley – competing with the council’s own Oriel Môn just a short distance away.
  • And could the town sustain a ‘conference centre’? (Though I suppose the delegates could all stay in the pod hotel.)
  • Given his ambitious plans isn’t Cyngor Môn concerned by Tristan Haynes’ complete lack of experience in any of the options mentioned?

I know the county council is desperate to off-load this site but elementary checks on potential buyers are easy, cost next to nothing, and can save the vendor both money and embarrassment.

UPDATE 31.12.2020: I received an e-mail yesterday from the young woman I spoke with at Cyngor Môn. She wrote: “The sale was completed on the 22/8/2019. Registration of the Transfer at the Land Registry is a matter for the buyer following completion. We aren’t aware of any planning applications.”

What is going on?

WEEP FOR WALES 16B

Fans of the Plas Glynllifon/Seiont Manor saga (and I know there are many of you out there) will be wondering what happened when Paul and Rowena Williams took their erstwhile buddy and business partner, Myles Cunliffe, before the beak in Manchester a week last Friday.

Here’s the report that appeared in NorthWalesLive.

When I read the suggestion of illegality and fraud I was so shocked I had to reach for the smelling salts. Click to enlarge

Here’s some supplementary information I’ve been sent.

What wasn’t reported first off Paul Williams was actually wearing a suit! with a very bad floral tie 

Basically it was a total failure of a application on the Williams side and the judge was not impressed at all, it should never have got to court……. 

Because of this Williams had to pay Cunliffe his costs of £6,500 and if it has to go to court again Williams has to pay £10,000 up front to the court because of the cock up

Williams also has racked up a bill of £60,000 with his solicitors which the judge questioned how much and if the figure was even valid! 

The Judge agreed to the Companies House stuff to be submitted via Cunliffe because they have said they would do this all along (My guess is the Williams want the codes to do something dodgy) 

I even heard that Cunliffe’s solicitor give a quote to Owen Hughes and nothing is mentioned in Article (Though the person who was there didn’t hear the actual quote) 

I think Williams still has Owen in his pocket! 

Anyway  hope that helps”. 

It looks as if the Gruesome Twosome miscalculated badly, and so I think we can look forward to many more episodes of Weep for Wales.

THE WOODHOUSE MODEL

Another star who has graced this blog in recent years is Gavin Lee Woodhouse. He built up a portfolio of hotels and then went for glory, accompanied by Bore Grylls, with the highly ambitious Afan Valley Adventure Resort.

The ‘Welsh Government’ obviously thought Woodhouse was a great asset to the Welsh economy. Not only was he gifted hundreds of acres of public land for his Afan Valley fantasy but he was also awarded a £500,000 grant for one of his hotels, the Caer Rhun in the Conwy valley.

Click to enlarge

It all came crashing down last year when ITV News and the Guardian exposed his business methods. It was basically a ponzi scheme selling individual rooms in hotels.

The same business method is now being employed in Cardiff by the owner of the Coal Exchange. For obvious reasons investors are getting edgy, as this report from last November tells us. And concerns persist, as this report from last Friday confirms.

And yet, despite selling rooms individually being a discredited business model favoured by crooks, Cardiff council has agreed to give £2m to the Coal Exchange ‘developer’.

I can understand Cardiff council wanting to safeguard a landmark building, but is this the way to do it? If this goes the same way as Woodhouse’s empire can Cardiff council be sure of getting its £2m back?

VROOM VROOM

I’m not for one minute suggesting that those running Aston Martin and TVR are crooks, I’m simply using these companies as examples of the poor judgement and profligacy of the ‘Welsh Government’.

The Aston Martin car company has been enticed to St Athan near Cardiff with the promise of lots of public funding; while TVR is supposedly coming to Ebbw Vale as a consolation prize for the doomed Circuit of Wales.

I have a regular contact who is something of a petrolhead and he passes on items that he picks up in the specialist press. One recent tit-bit drew my attention to ‘Taffy66’. Checking his ‘garage’ i.e. the cars he owns, we find 4 Porsche and a Ferrari. Suggesting that Taffy66 is doing quite well for himself. (Perhaps he earns even more than a third sector CEO!)

Click to enlarge

You’ll see that he describes himself as “a proud Welshman who due to the nature of my business has no choice but to do regular dealings with the WAG”. So why don’t Drakewell and the gang hire him as an adviser. He must know more about business than them and their civil servants. (But come to that, so does my cat!)

The hard news on both Aston Martin and TVR suggests they are struggling financially and are very unlikely to provide the jobs anticipated.

Salvation for Aston Martin might come in the form of Chinese investment, but whether Geely would still go ahead at St Athan is a moot point. As for TVR, the specialist press is very sceptical about the company’s future, with the latest news being that the roof on the Ebbw Vale factory is leaking!

The ‘Welsh Government’ is spending on infrastructure for these companies, and pumping money into them, when it has no real control. A change of ownership and it could be a case of, ‘Wales! Where’s that?

No healthy economy was ever built by desperately bribing foreign firms to move to a country. This is nothing more than a colony funding colonialism. Which of course is how colonialism operates.

WATER

Water has long been an emotive subject in Wales, Cofiwch Dryweryn! and all that. But too many are lulled into silent acceptance, or even support, when the sirens sing of ‘renewable’ and ‘green energy’, seemingly blind to the fact that exploitation and colonialism come in many forms.

Last October in, Wales, with us but strangers, I wrote about the troubling case of the hydro scheme at Ystradffin, near Rhandirmwyn, below the Llyn Brianne reservoir. It’s a fascinating story, I strongly advise you to read it.

The latest news is that the locals are getting angry. For despite originally promising great financial benefits for the community the developer (whoever that might ultimately be) is now offering just £1,000 a year according to this BBC Wales report.

Though the version in Welsh paints an even darker picture. It talks of environmental damage, no local jobs, and of a BBC film crew being ‘challenged’ and then pursued, even though the crew was on public land!

Ystradffin, Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge

At Ystradffin we have the involvement of a number of English companies, with a Czech company doing the work. Then there is the possibility of Russian funding, and UK government involvement. Quite a story, with the Welsh involvement being limited to the water.

This is real colonialism, almost medieval. Strangers march into our country and set up a ‘Taffy-keep-out’ zone. The ‘Welsh Government’ probably wasn’t even consulted. (And knows better than to ask.)

♦ end ♦

 

Wales, with us but strangers

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

Hello, boys and girls, it’s Uncle Jac here again, with another tale from colonial Wales; another story of how we Welsh are ripped off. It’s been happening for centuries; but nowadays everybody’s at it, while we have no one to defend us, and so many collaborators.

That’s a hint that there’ll be a bit of history thrown in. And some geography!

Incidentally, you may have heard that some naughty boys and girls have been calling Uncle Jac nasty names. Fortunately Uncle Jac only worries about the opinions of those he respects, and as time passes and people die, that illustrious band grows ever smaller.

This week’s tale takes us into the wild and beautiful country around Rhandirmwyn, north of Llanymddyfri, once the haunt of Twm Siôn Cati (1530 – 1607). In fact what is claimed to be Twm’s cave – where he hid from the Sheriff of Carmarthen’s men – is  nearby. So is Ystrad-ffin, once home to Thomas Rhys Williams, whose widow, Joan, Twm married.

Not only did Joan have the farm and the land around but she also had her own money, being the daughter of Sir John Price of Brecon, the son of Rhys ap Gwilym ap Llywelyn ap Rhys Llwyd ab Adam, descended from Dafydd Gam, who betrayed Glyndŵr and died on the English side at Agincourt.

In fact, Ystrad-ffin, or Ystradffin, is central to our story. So let’s crack on.

BANDIT COUNTRY

This tale came to me from a good source who had been walking in the area and saw things that caused him concern. After he had tipped me off I did some more digging and what I’ve uncovered is quite perplexing, even disturbing.

What my source saw was a Czech firm installing a hydro scheme for an English company on the Tywi, just downstream from the Llyn Brianne reservoir. The Tywi of course runs on to Carmarthen and the sea.

First, let’s get the lie of the land, courtesy of Google Earth.

Click to enlarge

We can see that the river runs down from the dam, skirts Rhuddallt, and it’s somewhere here that the hydro scheme is located, above the weir and the fish trap, north west of Ystradffin farm.

This story seems to start in August 2013, explained here by Natural Resources Wales. You’ll see that the original application was rejected. The project seems to have finally been given the all-clear in late June 2017.

The firm behind the project is H2O Power Towy (sic) Ltd, which until last November was known as Hydro Electric Development Ltd. This company is based in Hertfordshire. It’s directors are Ewan William Campbell-Lendrum, who sounds like a Highland laird, and a Czech citizen named Petr Noscak, which explains why the project is being built by a company from his homeland.

(Though does it make economic sense to bring workers and machinery half way across Europe?)

Given the name change, The Llyn Brianne contract might be the only one the company has. The latest accounts (or in this case, balance sheet), up to 31 December 2018, tell us that H2O Power Towy Ltd has a Capital and Reserves figure of -£106,258.

The latest statement of share capital, dated 20 May 2016, shows that there are two shareholders. Wendy Campbell-Lendrum owns 20 shares and the other 80 are held by Renfin Ltd, a company with an office in Prague.

THE RUSSIAN CONNECTION?

Renfin appears in the Offshore Leaks Database, after featuring in the famous Paradise Papers. Renfin is also quoted on the Bermuda stock exchange, from where I was able to access the 2017 Financial Statements (y/e 31 Dec 2017).

And who prepared this statement? Why, it was Ernst & Young LLC . . . of Moscow.

Click to enlarge

Renfin may be a Russian company, with a Czech window on the West, from where money is passed through various offshore banking locations, and from there on to ‘investments’ around the world. For if we look at page one of the E & W statement we see addresses in the British Virgin Islands, Caymans, Malta, Cyprus, Bermuda, and of course, Russia.

There is also a Renfin Hydro Ltd, formed last November, which provides another Czech link in the form of sole director, Jan Tosnar. Tosnar seems to have started a number of hydro companies last November. Remember, it was also last November that Hydro Electric Development Ltd morphed into H2O Power Towy Ltd. It’s reasonable to assume these events are connected.

The Czech mates (geddit?) team up in another company I unearthed, this one called Afon Las Hydro Ltd. This company began life at The Studio, Trevissome Park, Truro TR4 8UN, when it was called Mi-Grid Developments Ltd.

In February 2015 Mi-Grid moved to, c/o North Wales Hydro Power, Limited Rural Enterprise Centre, Stafford Drive, Battlefield Enterprise Park, Shrewsbury SY1 3FE. The name was changed in April. With the Shrewsbury address only used for a few months before Afon Las began using the H2O Power Towy address in Hertfordshire.

In the panel below, taken from the latest accounts, note the reference to Renfin, which may be a Russian company, which appears to have loaned money to Afon Las, or may be using Afon Las for some other purpose. Also note ‘Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd’!

For we now have Afon Las Hydro Ltd and Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd (formerly Renfin Ltd). And let’s not forget Renfin Hydro Ltd. With Jan Tosnar as director of all three. Rather confusing, isn’t it? Maybe that’s the whole point.

But where is Afon Las?

Well, there’s an Afon Las that runs into the Mawddach not far from Llanfachreth. But the hydro scheme there is the work of a local farming family, and there is no connection with Afon Las Hydro Ltd or Renfin Afon Las Hydro Ltd.

The Afon Las we need is near Llanberis. Where we find both Afon Las Hydro Ltd and Czech company Hydropol Project and Management. Hydropol is the company working at Ystradffin, and it has another Welsh project on Afon Claerwen, near Rhayader.

Enough. Afon Las was a bit of a digression, but still interesting. Now let’s head south, back to Twm Siôn Cati country.

FEEDING FRENZY

There are still other companies involved but it’s difficult to understand where they fit.

For example, in this report from the South Wales Guardian of August 2015 we read ” . . . the project has now been taken over by Hydro Electric Power Ltd(?) with support from Ellergreen Hydro Ltd”. So who are Ellergreen Hydro? And what ‘support’ were they giving?

Ellergreen Hydro is based in the English Lake District and seems to be part of a group of companies bearing the name. These are run – in various guises and through assorted holding companies – by the Cropper family, headed by Sir James Anthony Cropper.

Then there’s Environment Systems Ltd (ES), based in Aberystwyth, with a website in English and Spanish. ES seems to be a company of environmental consultants, though its website hasn’t been updated for a while with regard to the Tywi hydro project.

Image courtesy of Environment Systems Ltd.. Click to enlarge.

The directors of Environment Systems Ltd are Graeme Summers and Steven John Keyworth. As is the way in such matters, both are directors of other companies. In this case, the companies are: Everywhichway Ltd, Ecology Matters LtdEcology Matters (Wales) Ltd and, finally, Ursula Agriculture Ltd,

What I suggest we see here is ‘environmentalist consultants’ who’ve flooded in since it became clear that Wales was to be England’s greenwash colony, covered in subsidy-generating wheezes. We can expect a tsunami in future thanks to England’s management team in Corruption Bay setting out its priorities in the recent National Development Framework.

UPDATE: Having been contacted by Steven Keyworth of Environment Systems Ltd I feel confident in stating that he and his business partner, Graeme Summers, have not received loot from exotic locales. Their role was peripheral.

But now events up in rugged north Carmarthenshire take another twist.

THE BIG HOUSE?

I’ve mentioned Ystradffin, the substantial farmhouse and outbuildings close to the hydro scheme below Llyn Brianne, so naturally, I wanted to find out who owns the place.

According to the title documents lodged with the Land Registry, Ystradffin was bought in November 2016 by Edward Augustus Bishop, of Newbury, Berkshire, for £2,210,000 with a loan from Barclays Security Trustee Ltd. That’s a lot of moolah for poor land in a remote area. I assume there’s a considerable acreage involved, but I was unable to check because there was no plan available with the Land Registry.

UPDATE: Someone, perhaps the estate agents, decided to call the property ‘Towy Valley Farm’. More information, including a map is available here. This information makes it clear that the hydro project belongs to Ystradffin.

Yet it all seems kosher enough . . . except that Barclays Security Trustee Ltd, while apparently part of Barclays Bank, is a relatively new company, Incorporated with Companies House 19 June 2017. So how could could it have provided the money for the purchase of Ystradffin in 2016? Obviously the loan must have come after the purchase. Maybe buying the property from Bishop, or at least, reimbursing him.

For now it gets really interesting.

Go back to the title document and scroll down ’til you reach the panel shown below, on the last page.

Click to enlarge

First, you can see (9) that the property is now leased to The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Now this is an England-only department, for its role here is devolved to the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’.

The next paragraph (10) is even more interesting. For now we read that the Beneficiaries of this lease agreement are the SoS just mentioned, plus the Ministry of Justice Estates Directorate. As the name suggests, the MoJ estate is made up of prisons and the like. (‘Zone 4A’ means zone A on the fourth floor of 102 Petty France.)

Prisons are of course not devolved.

So why the hell would the Ministry of Justice Estates Department have an interest in a Welsh farm way off the beaten track, miles from a main road? They surely can’t be thinking of putting a prison there; so is some other kind of institution planned. Maybe a gulag, for malcontents and dissidents!

If so, I demand a well-appointed, south-facing cell with WiFi, 72″ screen TV (subscriptions for all sports channels). And I don’t wish to be woken before 10:30. The coffee had better be good, and don’t skimp on the Malbec!

CONCLUSION

I can hardly believe what I’ve just written. But something strange is going on in Twm’s old stomping ground. First we have a hydro scheme being built by a Czech company that may be using Russian money; and then, not far away, we have the government department responsible for prisons taking an interest in a very remote farmhouse.

And how many companies need to be involved in small hydro schemes – is everybody entitled to a slice of Wales?

The truth is, boys and girls, that we Welsh own less of our land today than at any time in our history. We have less control over our lives than at any time in the past. All we have is a bunch of arseholes and their hangers-on down Corruption Bay putting a gloss on a colonial system.

(Did I say, ‘arseholes’. Where would I have picked up such a naughty word? I am sorry, boys and girls. Forget you heard it.)

While I’ve been writing this I’ve been wondering if the Ministry of Justice Estates Directorate had the courtesy to inform Comrade Drakeford and the bruvvers that they had taken an interest in a remote Welsh farm.

If they did, what was the response from the ‘Welsh Government’? And if they weren’t informed, do Drakeford and his gang have the balls to now ask what the fuck is going on at Ystradffin?

♦ end ♦

UPDATE: If we look again at the final paragraph of the Ystradffin title document, and the mention of The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, there, in brackets, we see, ‘ESMCP Programme Director’. So what is ESMCP?

The short answer is that it stands for Emergency Services Mobile Communication Programme, a new system being rolled out across the UK, for police and other emergency services to have faster and more secure communications. Ystradffin might seem an odd location for such an installation, but not if there is to be a prison or detention centre there.

Someone also sent me a link to planning consent granted in January last year for a two-storey, three-bed house for an agricultural worker at Ystradffin. The application apparently came from the owner, Mr Bishop, with the agent named as the legal firm Carter Jonas. The architects who drew up the plan are also based in Shropshire.

Thanks to the ‘Welsh Government’s decision to save the planet and encourage just about anything ‘Green’ envirospivs from all over Europe are flocking to Wales.

Yet there’s little benefit to Wales and the Welsh.