I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY SOON AFTER THIS YEAR’S SENEDD ELECTIONS. POSTINGS WILL NOW BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
THE UNACCEPTABLE FACE OF TOURISM
I became aware of this mystery when I saw a tweet last week from Nigel Ó Ceallacháin. (Otherwise known as Nigel Callaghan.) Here it is.
The link to this payment can be found here, along with the other payments made in the month of November. After reading that tweet I got to wondering, and nosing around a bit. I soon turned up earlier payments in July; two payments, in fact, one for £960.00 on the 8th, and another for £600.00 on the 16th. Here’s the link to the page for the July payments.
So that’s a total of £3,450.00 spent by the Home Office on Ynys Môn in 2020. There may have been further spending in 2021, but I don’t think the figures have been published yet. They’re possibly published quarterly.
You’ll see that the payee is identified as ‘Trearddur Bay Holiday’, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. What I mean is, there’s no such company listed with Companies House. So what does it mean?
The search is complicated by the fact that the information provided by the Home Office shows a number of incomplete names in the payee column. Suggesting a spaces limit (22?), which then suggests that ‘Trearddur Bay Holiday’ is itself incomplete.
With this in mind, there are a number of possibilities for the identity of the payee.
Though when I tried to find Blackthorn Farm on the Land Registry website I was unlucky – because it’s still registered as Y Ddraenen Ddu. And it was bought last October by Marcus Brook Ltd of Warrington for £1,380,000.00.
Sandown Properties has another website called Anglesey Holiday Homes where Tuke has written: “The other factor that has influenced prices here and demand has been the Lake District’s decision to ban high speed craft from Windermere. All the skiers and powerboat racers have been looking for an alternative base and many have ended up in north Wales.”
Yes, folks, this is the ‘Welsh tourism industry’ we are all asked to support – foreign ownership, changing Welsh names to English, and selfish twats on jet skis.
So was Richard Tuke the recipient of the Home Office money? Or was it linked in some way to the purchase of Y Ddraenen Ddu by Marcus Brook Ltd? (Run by William Marcus Brook Spencer.)
Even though there’s no company ‘Trearddur Bay Holiday’, if there’s a bank account in the name of Trearddur Bay Holiday Homes then that might account for the Home Office payments.
UPDATE: Long-time councillor, former Lord Mayor of Swansea, and now honorary alderman, Ioan M. Richard, has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office.
Another possibility must be the website Trearddur Bay Holiday Cottages, on which Sykes Holiday Cottages of Chester acts as an agent for those with holiday properties to rent. (It’s how I rent out my portfolio of holiday homes.)
Skimming through the properties on offer at Trearddur Bay Holiday Cottages my attention was drawn to a name that sounded familiar. That property being Cerrig, at Rhoscolyn. So why did it ring a bell?
Because, boys and girls, it belongs to our old friend Jake Berry MP, the Member for Rossendale and Darwen in east Lancashire. Or rather, it’s a joint ownership involving Berry and what I believe to be his siblings.
Incidentally, Cerrig is right next door to Plas-coch, which is also owned by Jake Berry, this time with a sister and, possibly, his mother.
If the name Jake Berry is unfamiliar to you then you must be new to this blog, for I wrote about Jake the Lad a few times last year. If you want to catch up then the saga begins with, Jake Berry MP: ‘They seek him here, they seek him there . . . ‘. Followed by, Jake Berry MP, Part 2, Jake Berry MP, Part 3, and, unsurprisingly, Jake Berry MP, Part 4.
Jake was big buddies with PM Boris Johnson, though some say they fell out last year. Either way, Jake Berry is still a well-connected Tory MP with a number of properties on the island. He could therefore been the recipient of that Home Office funding.
There’s no question that Jake Berry rents out his Ynys Môn properties, as this report from Landl0rd Today tells us.
The problem with the Jake Berry possibility is the same as with Richard Tuke in that there is no company called Trearddur Bay Holiday. This is important because it seems that the payees listed on the Home Office website are company names.
Either well known companies like Amazon, Rentokil, Sports Direct, Milwaukee Power Tools, Argos, or smaller outfits that you’ve never heard of. But they’re all traceable companies or services.
Which only makes the ‘Trearddur Bay Holiday’ payment more of a mystery. Unless it’s possible to pay the Trearddur Bay Holiday Cottages website for the properties it advertises.
The local MP is Virginia Crosbie, elected in the December 2019 general election. Crosbie rushed to Jake Berry’s defence last year when it was suggested he had broken Covid lockdown to stay with his family at Rhyd-y-Bont, another Ynys Môn property he owns.
Berry and his wife bought Rhyd-y-Bont in November 2018 for £780,000. No mortgage was needed. No mortgage was needed either for the London property they bought in February 2017 for £2.15m.
The reason I’m introducing Crosbie is that there was some mystery over where she was living in her constituency, or if she was living there at all. Some locals – and there can’t be many left! – said she was renting a property from Jake Berry. Which would make sense; after all, he’s got a few to spare and we know he rents them out.
This stands out because Crosbie’s other donations, totalling £19,000, have all come from ‘unincorporated members’ associations’ – such as the United and Cecil Club – which have been so generous to Jake Berry over the years.
These secret funders even got Jake Berry into a bit of bother when he tried to disguise where the money was coming from.
So, why would a company of property consultants, operating in the most exclusive areas of London, give two grand to the MP for faraway Ynys Môn?
I know what you’re thinking, Charles McDowell expects something in return, but it’s difficult to see what Crosbie could offer because she’s not exactly a high flier. Yes, she’s a Personal Private Secretary (PPS) to the Department of Health and Social Care, but I can’t see that being of any interest to a posh West London estate agents.
The only other post of note is her membership of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee. But would Charles McDowell Properties be interested in this?
Whatever the answer, is this donation to Virginia Crosbie from Charles McDowell Properties linked with the Home Office payments to ‘Trearddur Bay Holiday’?
For example, how do these Home Office payments square with lockdown? The payments for July 2020 would seem to be OK, Wales was open for business. Turning to the November payment, this too would have been OK because it’s dated 24th, and pubs, restaurants and cafes re-opened and travel restrictions were lifted on the 9th.
But would the Home Office really be paying for someone’s holidays? Or could it be someone’s rent?
Another possibility offered in comments to my earlier post on this blog is that these payments represent Home Office involvement with asylum seekers:
“Probably the Alouette (MI5 nickname for a dark horse). This is the posh lady with long face and big teeth who works as a fixer and reporting directly to the Home Secretary. When there’s a cock-up she arrives with credit cards. Previous examples include underpants from Primark in Folkestone for asylum seekers shipped to immigration hearings without underwear and PPE from a cosmetics firm in Oxford when MPs turned up for an AstraZeneca briefing without facemasks. The cost and proximity to Holyhead Port suggest that Alouette flashed her Amex card to fix something.”
The “proximity to Holyhead” must make this a possibility, but asylum seekers are unlikely to be using this route, surely? This was explained in a further comment:
“Feral juveniles of Tunisian nationality, unmasked as not being Syrian, those of illegal immigration status, often play the system. Claiming family in Ireland is common. Those rejected at the border then cease to be the responsibility of Serco, the delivery contractors, who have their own arrangements. These children usually fall under the wing of the social services department of the local authority, who also have their own arrangements.”
One final question: Are these Home Office payments still being made?
I’m sorry to leave you with so many questions, I normally give answers. But in this case I’m sure someone out there, perhaps on Ynys Môn, knows the answers I’m seeking. If so, please get in touch.
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