I’M IN SEMI-RETIREMENT AND THIS BLOG IS WINDING DOWN. I INTEND CALLING IT A DAY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. POSTINGS WILL PROBABLY BE LESS FREQUENT AND I WILL NOT UNDERTAKE ANY MAJOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS. DIOLCH YN FAWR.
Over the years I’ve written a number of times about wind farms, and the deception on which they’re based. Because, as an answer to global warming or as a form of electricity generation they are useless.
Their benefit, or rather, what makes them attractive, to politicians, especially, is their visibility. Everyone can see them, and they allow politicians to crow – ‘Look! Look! We’re doing our bit to save the planet’.
To further ‘prove’ how sincere they are in saving the planet governments offer big subsidies to those erecting and owning wind turbines. This attracts investors, hedge funds, and others who don’t give a toss about the environment.
Due to the fact that the wind is intermittent and unpredictable, there must be 100% back-up for wind turbines. One consequence of this is higher electricity charges for domestic consumers.
‘You can’t pay your electricity bill, Mrs Jones? Never mind, love, sit in the dark and console yourself by knowing you’re saving the planet’.
There are other problems associated with wind turbines, especially in Wales, that no one wants to talk about. One such issue is flooding.
Of which there has been an increase in recent years for English towns on the River Severn, downstream of the ever-increasing number of wind farms on the hills of Powys.
The Rhondda has also seen increased flooding since the massive Pen y Cymoedd wind farm went up. But of course it’s being blamed on ‘blocked culverts’. Doesn’t anyone wonder why the culverts are being asked to cope with extra run-off from the hills? Or are politicians just refusing to even address the question?
No, wait! It must be global warming – put up more wind turbines . . . more flooding . . . more turbines . . . self-justifying lunacy.
The reason wind turbines on our hills cause flooding is because trees are felled to make way for them, and huge areas of peat are lost because each turbine is sunk in a concrete base the size of a rugby pitch. And then there are the hard-core access roads, and the cable trenches . . .
Yet trees and peat are vital in both preventing flooding and in carbon capture.
Without admitting that it’s been causing environmental damage with wind turbines the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ recently announced a scheme to create peatland in the very area where this habitat has been lost to wind turbines.
The article in the Western Mail does mention “wind farms”, but without making the obvious connection, though the image used is revealing.
When you think about it, if the environment was the real priority, then, rather than political virtue-signalling and providing guaranteed returns for foreign companies and well-connected people, the best thing to have done would have been to leave the trees and the peat well alone.
Not only has the ‘Welsh Government’ failed the environment, it has also failed us, the people of Wales. For these bird-killing monstrosities create no jobs, no turbines are built in Wales, and they’re all foreign-owned so the money leaves Wales.
Wind turbines in Wales are 19th century colonialist exploitation (but without the jobs) given a quick coat of greenwash for the 21st century.
Wales deserves better. But we’ll never get it by voting in the same clowns who encourage managed decline and then pretend to be ‘doing something’ by offering wind turbines.
Support this campaign because we all want to help the environment but wind farms are just a money-making scam that’s gone on for far too long.
Now read what a spokesperson for the campaign has to say . . .
In just 4 short weeks, the ‘STOP Y Bryn Onshore Wind Farm’ Facebook Campaign group has gone from a standing start to ‘full pelt’ in the blink of an eye, leaving its originators with very little time to catch their breath, and yet in that brief but exciting period, support for the group has grown to just short of 1000 members; it has established a committee, set up a bank account, a Crowdfunding page, AND it has held its first public protest outside the Welsh Government home, Y Senedd.
If that is not enough for starters, It has also attended all five of the initial public consultation meetings set up by the proposers of the wind farm project, Coriolis Energy (wind energy developers) and ESB (Ireland’s premier energy company), where the group and its supporters have emphatically shown they are serious about fighting this proposal to the very end.
The campaign group is acting in response to a proposal that is so lacking in detail that even some Senedd members are terming it as just an ‘idea’ at this time, but with it comes the need for so many questions to be answered, and the residents of the affected villages are not happy to let this proposal go uncontested.
But where do you start with the issues brought about by a proposed development of this magnitude? It is one of the best kept secrets in amongst these small semi-rural areas of South Wales, which is an achievement in itself given that usually a mouse can fart and everyone is gossiping, and whilst residents were clapping for NHS Heroes or giving an elderly war veteran money to walk around his garden, the supposedly transparent Welsh Government by way of Natural Resources Wales were inviting tenders that would allow swathes of lush green countryside to be carved up in anticipation of 26 wind turbines to be built in situ, the size of which onshore Britain has never seen before. But secrets of this kind don’t tend to remain secrets for very long, and this one was not going to be the exception.
Soon after the secret was out, residents found themselves talking at 2 metre distances about the environmental destruction that was being proposed, their conversations focused on the suggestion these turbines would reach heights up to 250 meters, and that their blades would be of 80 meter lengths….but what is that in ‘old money’ and what could these structures be compared to?
The Eiffel Tower, the Shard, local electricity pylons…..it was all a guessing game because of that lacking detail everyone so desperately needed. The reality is people can’t begin to envisage how these will look on top of their beautiful, lush green hills without appropriately designed graphic images, but what they can envisage is how detrimental and destructive these colossal chunks of steel will be to the area, perched on top of land that provides habitats for some of the country’s most cherished species of animals and birds, and who’s ecology contributes so much to an environment already facing a crisis that seems to know no bounds.
These surrounding areas have undergone a transformation in recent years, where the scars from coal mining and other heavy industrial activity have been eradicated and acceptably replaced by flora and fauna many now see as an extension to their own back gardens….except now people are envisaging morning coffee views that bring with them the hum of rotor blade activity drifting on the winds of change, and bringing with them the threats to communities and environments that mean so much more to the residents and villagers.
Many of the campaign group’s questions focus on the environmental impact of this proposal, but like so many other controversial proposals, the details are extremely vague to the extent that the credibility and the incentives of both development companies involved have to be seriously questioned.
For example, why is NRW, which is a public body, being permitted to freely auction off environmental spaces that mean so much to walkers and cyclists, not to mention the eco systems that dwell therein? Surely such activity should be overseen by Welsh Government, and surely they should be seeking authorisation from Y Senedd before putting public land up for tender?
Additionally, with the land proposed being of such historic interest, who at NRW first thought it to be an acceptable area for wind farm development? Heaven knows the importance the people of Port Talbot and Bridgend put on their green space where they are seen as byways that promote better mental and physical health and wellbeing. But, when questions regarding issues around Environmental Impacts, land suitability, sustainable long term employment opportunities, and community benefits are asked, answers are at best contradictory, if there are any answers at all.
The reality is, the Valleys and feeder regions have long been ignored by politicians and business leaders for the inward investment opportunities so desperately needed as a resolution to industry losses in sectors like coal and steel to name just two, and its the residents of those regions who have been expected to accept ‘poor relations’ subsidy programmes historically bestowed upon us by quangos like the Welsh Development Agency, which have then been passed off as ‘Tory Blue’ success stories.
Nevertheless, the people of Port Talbot and Bridgend are no longer prepared to be overlooked, and they expect their voices to be heard on this proposal. As the campaign grows and gathers momentum, its members intend to battle on through a program of constructive research and fact-finding exercises whilst it develops a strengthening network of support that delivers positive responses on a daily basis, all driven by the members who BELIEVE wholeheartedly in this fight.
Its steering committee consists of intelligent individuals who are not only aware of the ‘due process’ proposals such as this one are expected to follow, but they are also creative and resourceful to boot. These are not a trigger-happy bunch of community gun-slingers, but instead they are community-spirited residents who are steadfast in their belief that whilst the world needs answers to the Climate Emergency that has been declared globally, there’s is a real suggestion colossal wind turbines are NOT a suitable on-shore solution due to the environmental devastation they can bring, and that a more strategic approach with joined-up thinking and measured risk analysis is needed in order to find a sustainable solution.
As the first round of public consultations is assessed, initial feelings are very positive, especially when the main developer Coriolis is reporting an unexpected number of written objections as well as attendance to its public meetings.
The voice that is ‘STOP Y Bryn Onshore Wind Farm‘ is being heard, and the message it is portraying is reaching far and wide into the communities that stand to be affected by the development. The live Facebook broadcasts from Y Senedd protest have impacted not only on existing campaign group members, but they have touched corners of the community that have so far remained oblivious.
‘What next?’ they hear you ask…..quite simply, they continue to do what they have done so successfully thus far, which is working strategically but stealthily, using their resources and contacts collectively, and pooling their knowledge to lead a campaign that shows grit and determination that is so inherent in the people of Wales! Are you on board?
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 had planned another piece on May’s Senedd elections, but my plans changed when I learned of a big investment promised for the capital of the Cheshire Riviera . . . which the indigenes insist on calling Abersoch.
To accompany this new story I have a big update on Llanbedr International Airport complemented by reports from Gwynfryn, and Bryn Llys (aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’).
Verily, our cup runneth over!
I’ve written about Llanbedr Airfield a few times before. Try ‘Come fly with me‘, from January.
The Llanbedr site was bought by the Welsh Development Agency 31 March, 2006 from the Ministry of Defence, for £700,000. Here’s the title document. It was then leased, 31 May, 2012, for 125 years, for £887,000 plus VAT, to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP (since renamed Snowdonia Aerospace LLP). Here’s the title document.
Now that might seem like a good bit of business, but it’s not. In fact, it’s one of those deals that makes a mockery of devolution.
Those clowns in Corruption Bay were forced to buy a site they didn’t want, and for which they had no use. They then had to pay for repairs and maintenance, keeping the place spruce until their masters in London produced favoured tenants.
As for the lease, it was paid for by the Ministry of Defence and The Welsh Ministers. Though for some reason only the MoD is shown on the title document. We need to go to the Companies House entry for Snowdonia Aerospace to learn of our generosity.
So we’ve paid twice for a white elephant. But it gets worse!
Snowdonia National Park has approved a by-pass for the village of Llanbedr, which will of course run close to the airfield. We read in this Cambrian News report: “Llanbedr, which lies between Barmouth and Harlech, suffers severe tailbacks during the height of summer with people visiting Shell Island.”
Which means that a great deal of public money is to be spent causing environmental damage in order to encourage more traffic to a foreign-owned campsite! What happened to environmentally conscious Wales?
I’ve got a better idea – let’s get rid of ‘Shell Island’. It caters for campers and caravans, providing everything they need, including a shop and a bar. It contributes little to the wider area other than petrol and diesel fumes.
Alternatively, seeing as the Workman family, owners of ‘Shell Island’, will be the main beneficiaries of this by-pass, shall we ask them to make a financial contribution?
But it’not just ‘Shell Island’. (Correct name, Mochras.) There are also locally-owned caravan sites marring the littoral. Many granted consent in the days of Merioneth County Council, when men of a ‘fraternal’ bent would shake hands and grant each other planning permission.
In this BBC piece we read, “Supporters of the 1.5km (one mile) bypass have claimed it will slash journey times by an hour, and boost investment by improving access to the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, a drone-testing facility at the former RAF Llanbedr airfield.”
The implication has to be that motorists experience one-hour traffic hold-ups in tiny Llanbedr, which is utter bollocks. I suggest the ‘supporters’ saying that may have inhaled too much traffic fumes, or something.
The second part hints at another reason for the by-pass. Though maybe I’m wrong to call it a by-pass, for a recent comment to an earlier piece of mine about Llanbedr airfield says: “And yes the Welsh Government is funding the Llanbedr bypass, which legally can’t be called a bypass as it has to be an access road to the airfield to qualify for grants. And no it doesn’t go to the airfield!”.
Which suggests that a lot of people are being misled, even screwed, over Llanbedr airfield.
This source also wrote (of the blog): “Just come across this article – excellent stuff. No mention though of RAF Brawdy in Pembrokeshire which the same people as at Llanbedr ran for a while before dissolving the company with outstanding charges against the Welsh Government.”
The company was Brawdy Business Park Ltd (Co No 3431529). And again, it took over a redundant military installation, promised lots of jobs, received grants and loans, created few jobs, folded the company and buggered off.
Will the same thing happen at Llanbedr?
Though ‘buggered off’ is not strictly true. For while the company, Brawdy Business Park Ltd, was certainly struck off in April 2013, the presence of those involved lingered on. Indeed, it lingers still.
And who do we find as directors of the new company? Who else? – Lee John Paul, Ocean Park Investments, and Putney Investments.
Compass Point Estates has made two loans to Snowdonia Aerospace Estates. But why should that be necessary with the same people controlling both? (Because on October 1 Lee John Paul and Putney Investments took control of the two LLPs.)
My concerns are due to the fact that LLPs can be tricky beasts. “Partners in an LLP are not personally liable when the business cannot pay its debts; instead, their liability is limited to the capital they have invested into the LLP.”
So, if there’s no capital left in the LLP to which the loan was made then, when it folds, and everything is claimed by the new LLP, the clowns of Corruption Bay might struggle to get our money back.
Shall we see a repeat of Brawdy Business Park at Llanbedr, where the same people end up owning everything but under different labels?
Watch this space.
THE PHOENIX HOTEL, ABERSOCH
I’ve written about Abersoch more than once. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish it was still the sleepy Llŷn fishing village it once was, but it has been ‘discovered’.
By the ‘Cheshire Set’. Which includes those who’ve made a few bob in Liverpool or Manchester and want to flaunt it with a big house and a Range Rover in the drive in an upmarket Cheshire village. One of those communities where new developments are discouraged to the point of being almost forbidden.
Which in turn results in houses being built in north east Wales and along the A55 to accommodate those who can’t afford the entrance fee to the Cheshire Set.
But we are going to focus on the site of the former White House Hotel.
This establishment closed in 2004 or 2005, inevitably fell into disrepair, and was eventually demolished in the early part of 2016. In the report I’ve linked to we read, “A 40-bedroom hotel and spa will now be built in its place and is set to open in 2018”.
The owner was named as Broomco, of Surrey. At 31 December, 2019 the unaudited Broomco accounts show that money owed by debtors was exceeded by money owed to creditors to the tune of some £250,000.
Broomco’s major asset would appear to be ‘freehold property’ valued at £1,236,224. Which is presumably the site of the former White House Hotel.
The promised hotel and spa did not materialise, but now other exciting plans have emerged for the site. Well, obviously, I’m not excited, but some people seem to be getting worked up over the proposal. Here’s a report from the Daily Post website.
There’s a lot of information in the report; yet despite that, or maybe because of it, it still raises many questions. Or maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, some dude called Charlie Openshaw has rocked up, and we read: “Mr Openshaw says his firms are both contractors and developers. He says the developer is Providence Gate and the contractor is CL Projects.”
What can we learn of these companies?
Let’s start with Providence Gate. There are five companies of that name, all formed between August and November this year. All with the same three directors; Charles Marshall Openshaw, Anthony John Hayton, and William James Abram. Being so new there’s obviously little information available, though Providence Gate Developments Ltd has already taken out loans with Crowd Property Ltd.
Turning to the other company mentioned by Charlie Openshaw, C L Projects Facilities Management Ltd, we see that this company has a long and glorious history, stretching back to its formation in July 2017, when it was known as C L Chorley Ltd.
The name changed in April this year when the three musketeers climbed aboard. Until then it was filing as a dormant company. Openshaw, Hayton and Abram are joined around the mahogany boardroom table by Robert Wood, also recruited in April.
So, to all intents and purposes, C L Projects Facilities Management Ltd is another company formed in 2020.
Which seems straightforward enough – a group of property investors spot an opening and come up with an imaginative plan. But it’s not that simple. Is it ever?
To begin with, and according to the Land Registry, the site is still owned by Broomco. So either Charlie Openshaw and his mates are working with Broomco, or else they are yet to buy the site from that company. Here’s the title document and plan.
The shareholders in Providence Gate Group Holdings Ltd are shown in the panel below, information that comes from the Confirmation Statement made to Companies House on 30 November. Just days before the big publicity splash.
Clearly, Openshaw and Hayton have other companies, in their own names. While Marbauk Ltd is William Abram’s new company. So it’s the three amigos again.
The winding up process for Rooftop Solutions began in Bolton County Court in July 2012. There were three outstanding charges at the death. The decision to wind up Rooftop Solutions and Consultancy Services Ltd was taken in August 2009, when the company owed £485,922.00.
Other companies Openshaw was involved with around that time, which also went belly-up owing lots of money, were RBC (Manchester) Ltd and Rooftop Group Ltd.
None of these companies seemed to last more than two or three years. And there seems to be a gap of five or six years between these earlier companies and the recent rash of new companies.
To sum up, the ‘saviours’ of the White House Hotel – or at least the site – seem to come from a background of replacement doors and windows, or roofing. More recently, they appear to have aligned with people from a finance background. But do they have what it takes to complete a prestige project in Wilmslow-sur-Mer?
Charles Marshal Openshaw makes it sound so simple – his companies are going to build an ‘international landmark’ hotel on the site of the White House Hotel.
But, for a start, he doesn’t even own the site. And once we start looking into his companies we find other companies behind them . . . and other companies behind the companies behind them . . . and companies behind the companies behind the companies behind . . .
If I was Cyngor Gwynedd, I’d sit Charles Marshall Openshaw down in a comfy chair, give him tea and biccies, pat his knee and say, ‘Now, Charlie, tell us who’s really behind this project’.
And I wouldn’t give planning permission until I had satisfactory answers.
Regular readers will be familiar with that name. It refers to an old gentry mansion near Llanystumdwy, which served a number of purposes after its glory days until, as a hotel, it catched afire in 1982.
This update is in three parts. First, Philip Andrew Bush seems to have been a naughty boy, travelling up to Gwynfryn from Kent during lockdown. Second, the planning application for 25 residential units in what’s left of the mansion has now been submitted. Third, the young developers we met earlier have started a raft of new companies.
Maybe I should explain that until fairly recently Bush owned both the house and the land around, but he sold the ruin to his pal Aaron Hill, who’s also an associate of the Bryn Llys gang, a crew we’ll meet in the next section.
Bush is now pestering neighbours over a non-existent right of way, and making a nuisance of himself. It’s rumoured he wants to make some money by building something in the Bryn Llys grounds.
Access will be a big issue for any project of Hill’s, and for the residential units. Which explains his desire to knock down walls and find another route onto his land. He’s getting desperate, for the clock is ticking . . .
Let’s turn to the planning application. Which is dated 03/12/2020. A passer-by kindly sent me a photo of the public notice affixed to some railings.
Though what I find strange is that the planning application itself is dated 14/02/2020. with a ‘validation’ date of 20/11/2020. Read it for yourself.
There’s something very amateurish about this planning application. To begin with, it keeps referring to “the castle”. Has whoever compiled this document been reading too much Kafka, or has he never seen the building? Because it’s a 19th century house with a bit of crenellation for effect.
I’m sure the natives could get a bit stroppy back then but I’m equally sure the squire didn’t need a castle.
Something else that caught my eye was in the planning application document itself (21), where it seems to suggest that there are currently 5 full-time and 3 part-time employees at the Gwynfryn ruin.
Are they including the Bryn Llys gang, who have helped out? Or are they counting the bunny-wunnies?
Gwynfryn is another of those projects where there are many fingers in the pie. And among these digits are those belonging to James Armstrong and Anthony Wilmott.
As I wrote back in October, ” . . . the developers’ in this instance are Anthony John Wilmott and James Edward Armstrong. The latter has a company called Acquérir Ltd; Wilmott has a few companies of his own; but they get together in Armstrong Wilmott Ltd.”
Now doubt it’s only a matter of time before we’re in another maze of companies at Gwynfryn in which council planners will get lost . . . if they even venture in.
BRYN LLYS AKA ‘SNOWDON SUMMIT VIEW’
We left off with the Bryn Llys saga when capo di tutti capi Jon Duggan appeared before the bench in Caernarfon. His dogs had got out – again – and attacked a neighbour’s chickens.
Despite being victimised – the poor man always is – he had to cough up £1,002.00.
As it was given to me: “He complained that he was before the same magistrates who heard the Shane Baker excavator driving, criminal damage case (Baker is one of Duggan’s ‘soldiers’) but was told that this was an entirely separate case. Mr. Duggan likes to imply that he will not get a fair hearing and is picked upon by police, council officials and others. He also accused the neighbours of filming his children, another one of his tactics is making unfounded, malicious allegations about anyone who does not give in to him.”
But he could be facing another court appearance in the near future.
Here we see Duggan, on the day of the court appearance, with his wife at his side, his half-brother Scott Smith facing him, while the fourth man is Andrew Battye, who we are asked to believe owns Bryn Llys aka ‘Snowdon Summit View’.
Nobody does believe it, and certainly not Battye.
In one of the more bizarre deals I have covered on this blog, Duggan bought land from Aaron Hill (who got a mention just now at Gwynfryn). But because Duggan is supposedly without assets, Hill loaned him the money to buy the land!
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
After the Jake Berry saga it’s time to move on, though we stay on Ynys Môn for the first couple of pieces, before pushing on, even visiting the city of my dreams.
This is another ‘biggie’ but as usual with this format it’s broken down into digestible portions. So there’s no need to rush, you can take your time. Enjoy!
As we used to hear in the old black and white movies, ‘Dead men tell no tales’. Maybe not, but on Ynys Môn dead men do put in planning applications.
In the previous post, Jake Berry MP, Part 4, I mentioned a property that had swum into view in the course of my investigations into Berry’s little empire. This property may have nothing to do with him, but it became interesting in its own right when I realised that a planning application was submitted in August 2019 – by a man who died early in 2017.
Let me explain, for those who may be unfamiliar with the planning system, that you don’t need to own a property to submit a planning application. A builder, an architect, a relative, even a prospective buyer, can submit a planning application, but this must be done with the consent of the owner. Which presupposes that the owner has not departed for the celestial realm.
Now in this case on Ynys Môn the owner was long dead, and those submitting the planning application knew he was dead. We know they knew because they’d put his name on the planning application with ‘(Deceased)’ alongside it!
Which is difficult to explain; the Will was a straightforward transfer, so why didn’t the person who’d inherited the property put her name on the planning application?
Another curious feature – though it obviously links – is that the Land Registry title document still shows the late Mr Cuddy as the owner. Which might explain why, after putting out a tweet asking why the council had accepted this application from a dead man, I got a Twitter response from the Land Registry.
The LR reminded those in the thread that there is no legal obligation for anyone to update a title document. Which is unfortunately correct. But I believe we are all entitled to know the ownership of property. And money being laundered through property transactions is another reason for making immediate re-registration mandatory.
Does the so-called ‘Welsh Government’ have the power to legislate in this area? And if so, does it have the balls to do what needs to be done?
On the planning matter, I cannot believe that a dead man can be named as the applicant on a planning application. Which calls into question why Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn accepted that planning application.
Again, if this is legal, it should not be. And if the ‘Welsh Government’ can legislate to outlaw the absurdity of dead men making planning applications, then it should do so. Pronto.
Land Registry documents not updated after three years and planning applications in the name of a dead man suggest something is not quite right.
YNYS MÔN 2
I don’t want to paint Ynys Môn as Wales’ Sicily, but strange things do seem to happen there. One I dealt with fairly recently was the sale of the Shire Hall in Llangefni to Tristan Scott Haynes.
To put it mildly, Haynes has a ‘colourful’ past, but the county council saw no problem in selling him their old Shire Hall. And the sale was completed 22 August 2019 with money Haynes had borrowed from Together Commercial Finance Ltd.
The caption tells that Haynes is managing director of Chief Properties Ltd and he also runs a “successful haulage firm”.
Chief Properties was set up in August 2018 for the purpose of buying a property like the Shire Hall. The accounts tell us that the company has fixed assets of £201,942 (the Shire Hall) but is in debt to the tune of £12,460.
As for the “successful haulage firm”, well the next meeting of shareholders will be delighted to learn that Falcon Transportation Ltd‘s total net assets come to £21,282. Roughly what they were the year previously. A truck?
Go back to the caption under the photograph and you’ll read, “(Haynes) had never been to Anglesey before identifying Shire Hall as a possible location”. Which suggests that he found it online. And that any building, anywhere, might have done.
But for what purpose?
As far as I’m aware no work has been done on the Shire Hall, certainly no planning permission has been applied for, so why did Haynes borrow money to buy a building that he seems to have lost interest in?
And if the county council has washed its hands of the Shire Hall don’t the burghers of Llangefni worry about the fate of one of their town’s prime assets?
RHODRI MORGAN AND THE WDA
It’s generally agreed that despite certain failings the Welsh Development Agency was doing a good job in attracting inward investment, and to this day many people still don’t understand why it was done away with.
A comment to the previous post seemed to provide an answer:
“If any target should be in your sites (sic) in terms of Wales’s failing economy, it should be the former First Minister ‘Saint’ Rhodri Morgan. It was he, in a temper tantrum, midway through a phone call with the CEO of the Welsh Development Agency, threw his toys out of the pram when his instruction that the WDA should spend a chunk of it’s budget in a constituency of Cardiff where a certain Mrs Morgan was sitting MP. The CEO politely advised that this request could prove difficult because Cardiff was not in an EU Assisted Area . . . A person present . . . related that the First Minister threw his phone across the room. When he had calmed down (10 minutes later) he rang the CEO back and said that he was scrapping the WDA and bringing it’s functions under Assembly control. The CEO replied ‘Congratulations First Minster, you have just ruined the economy of Wales’ . . . In the 1980’s, 1990’s and into the 2000’s Wales, largely but not exclusively, due to WDA activities, secured 22% of all inward investment into the UK, an incredible achievement . . . Sadly, the Assembly, with it’s suspicion and dislike of any ‘specialisms’ and groaning under the dead hand of so many ‘Sir Humphreys’ presided over the rapid decline of inward investment so that today, it stands at 2% of the UK figure. When the WDA was scrapped, Development Agencies in other countries were delighted . . . I was present at the party held by the Scottish Development Agency to celebrate the demise of it’s principal competitor for inward investment. English Estates, the Development Agency for England, was equally delighted for the same reason. That’s the real story of Wales’s decline as an economic force . . . It will be a huge challenge to reverse this decline, but with the right approach, and a massive change of attitude in Cardiff Bay it conceivably could be achieved.”
This contribution was reinforced in an e-mail from another source which, after a few tweaks, I’m allowed to publish as you see below. This source was also close to the action at the time in question.
“I don’t know (the writer of the comment), but the account with regard to Graham Hawker (CEO) telling Rhodri Morgan he’s screwed the Welsh economy is correct.
While there is much talked about the WDA and it’s dealings in its early to mid years, in its later life it was an organisation of people (predominantly Welsh people) who actually gave a fuck about trying to lift the prosperity of the country. To this day, I am convinced that the termination of the WDA was done out of both jealousy by Welsh Gov and also a disregard by WDA to service the needs and wants of Ministers as they became more and more demanding for information from the organisation. It was not designed to service Welsh Government. It was designed to deliver economic development to external customers and it did it well.
To be fair to Hawker, he had instigated a re-organisation programme that would have addressed some of the issues, but Morgan had made his decision for the bonfire of the quangos. Hawker had resigned in front of Senedd committee. He made Morgan look stupid, who then asked him publicly to reconsider his resignation. He didn’t and he left.
Following Hawker, Gareth Hall was installed as Welsh Gov’s puppet CEO. Rhodri Morgan stated publicly that WDA staff would not see any change in the transition to Welsh Gov. That was total bollocks. There was a culture of cleansing any entrepreneurial spirit and drive in the organisation and a clear move from answering to the WDA board to Ministers. Hall was very close to Marc Clement of Swansea Uni fame. The WDA was being steered by Andrew Davies as Econ Dev Minister at the time, again with close links to Swansea. Make of that what you will.
It is clear that the politicisation of economic development has killed off any hope of raising Wales’s GDP above 75% of the UK average. We are still below it and I blame total and utter mismanagement of EU funds coupled with what you write about regularly – pushing funding to the third sector ‘economy’, crap pet projects (Cardiff Airport) and shysters.
Welsh Gov is a broken organisation. It cannot deliver economic development, full stop.
The wind up of the WDA is a case study of how to destroy exemplar economic development practice and then replacing it with fantasy policies of inclusion, sustainable development, socialist ideologies and then paying those organisations who advocate such tripe to turn up in the Senedd committees to back you up.”
Most students of Welsh politics know that Rhodri Morgan was the kind of man Doctor Johnson would have described as ‘clubbable’; a man who could be relied on for the witty quip or the diverting anecdote, but hard work was not really his bag.
The manner of the WDA’s demise tells us a lot about Rhodri Morgan and the Labour Party. Both quite happy to destroy what they cannot control however damaging such a course of action might be for Wales.
The incident also exposes the damning contradiction of ‘Welsh’ Labour – forever banging on about employment, blaming ‘London’ or the Tories for Wales not having enough decent jobs, but the beast itself is ideologically and temperamentally opposed to the business and commerce that would provide good jobs because it cannot control them.
‘Keep Wales poor, keep Wales dependent, keep Wales voting Labour’?
The first source reminds us that with the WDA gone Wales’ share of the UK’s inward investment fell from 22% to 2%. While the second source tells that the loss of the WDA saw the rise of the third sector, which is under the control of the Labour Party because the ‘Welsh Government’ controls the purse funding.
To the point where, in the parallel dimension that is Wales, third sector bosses receive awards for achievements in business.
From 2007 until 2011 Labour was in coalition with Plaid Cymru, but Plaid made no attempt to bring back the WDA, for Plaid Cymru is another party made up of social workers, academics and others who think making profits and creating jobs is dirty.
‘Filthy capitalism, innit!’
Much better to live on hand-outs from England. Then enjoy the power of patronage that goes with distributing someone else’s money without the bother of creating it. That is, without the hard work involved organising a national economy.
Which is exactly how the Labour Party views devolution.
And explains why the cycle of decline will continue after next May’s election when Labour will fall short of a majority and need another coalition with Plaid Cymru to stay in power. Plaid Cymru will jump at the opportunity.
And Wales will continue to decline . . . with regular ‘dead cat on the table’ episodes of virtue signalling.
BRIGHTON GREENS DISCOVER GOWER
In my younger days I spent a lot of time on Gower. Oh yes. An aunt and uncle had a house above Port Eynon when such properties could be bought cheaply because most tourists came from within a radius of 40 or 50 miles. They came for a day trip or a holiday, but few of them thought of moving there permanently.
It was on their doorstep, they could visit whenever they liked.
School holidays spent crabbing at Port Eynon were succeeded by teenage years fishing just about everywhere for bass, with Worm’s Head a favourite spot.
In the twenty-first century it was inevitable I suppose that Gower would attract the eco-colonists, those who want to ‘live off the land’ . . . usually someone else’s land, often thanks to big dollops of public funding, and invariably by ignoring planning regulations.
And lo! it has come to pass.
To read the WalesOnline report from which the above image is taken just click here.
The Furzehill project is the brainchild of the Ecological Land Cooperative of Brighton. That is Brighton on the south coast of England. What attracts them to Wales is the One Planet lunacy, which proclaims that in order to reduce Wales’ carbon footprint people must be attracted to Wales to farm virgin land, burn wood, drive vehicles, and generally impose themselves on what were often pristine landscapes.
This is virtue signalling, big time, introduced when Jane Davidson was Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing from 2007 to 2011. This may also have been the period when the ‘Welsh Government’s ‘All Farmers are Bastards’ strategy was formulated. (Was ‘Game Show Gary’ [ahem] ‘advising’ Davidson?)
Nominally, Davidson was AM for Pontypridd, but she didn’t give a toss about Ponty. She was in Corruption Bay to promote her environmentalist friends’ agenda. The rest of the Labour Party could see the advantage in this because it gave scope for virtue signalling on a global stage while putting the boot into rural electorates that refuse to vote Labour.
Davidson went on to become an academic (of sorts) and an even more outspoken advocate for eco-invaders like herself.
Here’s Davidson’s book on her work in government that culminated in One Planet Developments (OPD) and Future Generations legislation. Which have done nothing for us Welsh (it wasn’t intended to) but has achieved brownie points for a party and a system that, while running Wales into the ground, gets plaudits from people like Nikhil Seth who know sod all about Wales.
Furzehill is important, and should be watched, for the following reason.
Up until now OPDs have argued that they improve marginal land or even bring life back to abandoned farms. But Gower is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AOUB). The first area given AOUB status in the whole of this island.
I expect Swansea council to refuse planning permission for these ‘hobbit houses’. If that happens, then there will almost certainly be an appeal to the ‘Welsh Government’. And if those clowns allow the Furzehill project to proceed then National Parks will be the next target for the eco-colonists.
For those unfamiliar with the area, the Llansamlet ward is on the east side of Swansea, above Bonymaen and east of Morriston, straddling the M4. At its edge, Birchgrove runs into Skewen merging Swansea with Neath.
It was an area where the Welsh language was still strong when I was a boy, and Swansea’s first Plaid Cymru councillor was elected by Llansamlet’s voters in the youthful form of my old mate Dr John Ball.
Since then, it’s been pretty much downhill. The ward has been represented by a succession of Old Labour time-servers, enlivened recently by a few exotic imports.
I’m thinking now of Robert (‘call me Bob’) Clay, privately-educated former MP for Sunderland North and his Austrian-born wife Uta. Both moved on in 2017 and I’m told that these devout Marxists now live in a very agreeable detached property in rural Carmarthenshire.
Llansamlet returned another four Labour councillors at the 2017 elections, among them Maureen ‘Mo’ Sykes, of whom I have written before. To remind you . . . Mo Sykes was CEO of YMCA Wales yet under her ‘leadership’ things went to hell. To the extent that YMCA Wales ceased to exist.
The organisation leaked money, she herself left under a big cloud in July 2014, YMCA Wales went into administration in September, the jewel in the crown – Newgale Outdoor Education Centre in Pembrokeshire – was flogged off for £507,000 in June 2015, and the abandoned branches of YMCA Wales were told to affiliate to YMCA England.
They were welcomed with open arms by YMCA England for adopting the ‘national brand’.
So in the age of devolution we took another step backward. The ‘Welsh Government’, which had funded Mo Sykes and should have been asking what the fuck had gone wrong, showed no interest. After buying a nice detached house on a quiet street in Clydach (for a surprisingly low price) Sykes was handed a safe seat for the 2017 city council elections.
And now, if my sources are correct, she’s going home to the Six Counties after living off the public purse for years and doing her bit to integrate Wales into England.
If so, good riddance.
LEENA SARAH FARHAT
Soon after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis Nation.Cymru insulted us with an article by Leena Sarah Farhat telling us that Wales was full of racist cops. I made a comment, suggesting she apologise to our police, but my comment was removed. Bizarrely, left up were comments from an unhinged wokie (not from Muskogee) attacking me in very personal terms!
This moron seemed to think I’d deleted my comment, and even when told he’d taken a wrong turn he kept marching purposefully into the bog. I’ve had dealings with him before, and he’s typical of his kind. Because I’d called him ‘little boy’ or something he tried to brand me a paedophile by suggesting I thought I was dealing with a child!
No, ‘Alan’, I’m know exactly what I’m dealing with, son. A twat.
It got so fractious on the state-subsidised mouthpiece for Plaid Cymru run by the saintly Ifan Morgan Jones that he had to pull all the comments. Something he had to do again on Friday when reporting that Martin Shipton, Chief Correspondent of the Western Mail, had lost his judging job at the Book of the Year Awards, run by Literature Wales, after being targeted by the wokies. (Tell me about it!)
(And if you want a definition of colonial establishment, look no further than Literature Wales.)
But I digress. Who is Leena Sarah Farhat?
From what I could gather, she works at Aberystwyth University. She is also Diversity Officer for the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and their candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. I’m sure she knows Castell Newydd Emlyn and Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn like the back of her delicate hand.
Anyway, later that evening I had one of the strange e-mails I get quite regularly. What I’m describing is the internet age’s equivalent of some bloke emerging out the shadows, collar pulled up and hat pulled down, looking furtively around before handing me the slip of paper that will unravel the mystery.
Or maybe I watch too much film noir.
The terse message contained a link, which I was loath to open in case it contained a virus. But I took a chance and the link took me here. To begin with, I wasn’t sure where I’d landed (I feared it might be one of those pornographical sites I’ve read about), but as I took it in I realised it was some kind of social media platform with people asking Leena Sarah Farhat questions.
Some of her answers were quite strange, others disturbing. Here’s a selection.
Make of it what you will, but here’s my interpretation. Here we have another ‘progressive’ party desperate to be seen to be ‘inclusive’ recruiting someone on whom they haven’t done enough checks, and who turns out to be, if not anti-Semitic, then certainly tacking towards that port of call.
With Plaid Cymru it was Sahar Al-Faifi, with Labour . . . well, take your pick, and now, not to be left out, the Lib Dems will incur the wrath of the Board of Deputies. Good.
What’s more, Agxio is a one-man band, and that one man is Dr Stephen Christie. To read Dr Christie’s Linkedin bio he’s been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. It’s only a matter of time before that photo on his mantelpiece of great-uncle Hamish in his pith helmet makes way for a Nobel Prize.
From Linkedin we learn that since 2011 Christie has been CEO of Neural Insights Ltd, another company based in Dorking. His wife is the only other director. The latest accounts show a company where liabilities exceed assets, though the figures are small. The accounts are ‘filleted’.
Then there’s his chairmanship of MemberMatch Ltd, which helps golfists find playing partners. But he doesn’t seem to have ever been a director, let alone chairman. The latest unaudited financial statement reveals another company in the red.
Dr Christie’s only other extant company, formed in August 2018, is Inbotiqa Ltd. This has Net Liabilities of £107,131 for 2019; which was, admittedly, a big improvement on 2018. The accounts are unaudited.
And it looks similar with Agxio, which is getting funding from the Development Bank of Wales. Dr Currie seems to have spent a great deal of his time figuring out the share issues, just check the filing history.
Don’t get me wrong, Dr Stephen Christie might be a very clever bloke, but his greatest talent may be issuing and selling shares rather than producing anything, or creating jobs.
Furthermore, his ‘presence’ in Aberystwyth may be no more than a letter-box, and so I question whether Agxio should be receiving a penny of Welsh public funding.
To begin with, Coronavirus seems to have impacted on the Conservative vote as if the party’s voters had been confined to care homes; down 11 percentage points from the April poll to 35% for Westminster elections. Labour is up 4 to 39% and Plaid Cymru also up 4 to 15%.
For Welsh Parliament elections, the figures are (constituency first, list second):
Those figures were fairly predictable. Of more interest were the responses when people were asked questions such as: “If there was a referendum tomorrow on Wales becoming an independent country and this was the question, how would you vote? Should Wales be an independent country?”
In answer, 25% said Yes, but 54% said No. When asked whether the Assembly should be abolished, 25% said Yes, 48% said No.
To the multi-option constitutional question the responses were:
As you’re probably aware, a great deal has been made of a figure of 33% in favour of independence. This figure is only arrived at when respondents are given the stark choice between doing away with devolution or going for independence. When the returns were:
Certainly, these findings are generally encouraging. But there’s a long way to go. What I extrapolate from these polls is the following:
Devolution is increasingly discredited. After more than two decades of failure it is under pressure from both those who want independence and those who want integration with England. (Which is what abolishing the Senedd would amount to.)
Plaid Cymru is making little progress despite the increase in numbers prepared to consider independence. There is clearly scope for other parties, especially if those parties are more focused on Wales and Welsh issues.
No account is taken in these polls of how events in Scotland could impact on Wales. I believe that Scotland becoming independent would greatly increase the numbers in Wales choosing independence.
There’s a lot to play for in next year’s elections. And beyond.
As you may know, following a complaint by Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen, currently building a property empire on Ynys Môn, Facebook took down the links I’d posted to the articles about him on this blog.
Well now I’m locked out of my Facebook account altogether, yet it appears to still be open to others. There seems to be no appeal process so is there any way I can just close my Facebook page?
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 concluded last week’s offering with a section on Llanbedr Airfield and a promise to return to the subject. Well, here we are, and sooner than expected.
That’s because information has come to light that makes the picture clearer. Clearer but not more reassuring, certainly not for us poor buggers who – through our tribunes and the civil servants who ‘advise’ them – seem to end up funding every con man and shyster who crosses the dyke looking for easy money.
UP UP AND AWAY!
To briefly recap. There has been an airfield at Llanbedr, between Harlech and Barmouth, since WWII, but it was closed or decommissioned in 2004.
The site was bought in August 2006 by the Welsh Development Agency for £700,000. (Title document.) And then, despite having just bought the site, the Welsh Assembly Government sought a taker for a 125-year lease.
Though as the sheet below tells us, in an answer to Tory AM Darren Millar in June 2008, then minister for economy and transport, Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, is adamant that no funding has been offered to ‘sweeten’ the deal.
As anticipated, in December 2008, the ‘Welsh Government’ gave the go-head for Kemble to take over the airfield, subject to Kemble obtaining the “relevant permissions and consents.” Initially, the Snowdonia National Park Authority refused to play ball, but in August 2011 a certificate was granted to Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP for use of the airport to test and develop unmanned aerial vehicles.
(Developments and rumours from March 2006 are covered in jargon-laden but still interesting exchanges on this message board.)
In July 2012, Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP finally took on a 125-year lease with the Welsh Ministers for the sum of £887,500 plus VAT. (Title document.) Funded with a loan from The Secretary of State for Defence. This company was set up in March 2008 and changed its name to Snowdonia Aerospace LLP in August 2015.
Not only was there a loan from the Secretary of State for Defence but – and despite what Ieuan Wyn Jones had said – the ‘Welsh Government’ also chipped in. Both charges are here. Did Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP pay anything out of its own pocket for the 125-year lease?
PER ARDUA AD ASTRA
You’ve just read mention of RAF Kemble, and as I made enquiries into the leaseholders at Llanbedr it became clear that they and their associates specialise in taking over former RAF bases. Which suggests they’re well-connected.
Two directors of Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP who left Kemble Airfield Estates Ltd in the middle of 2012 were Lee John Paul and Charles John Mondahl. Paul had also served as company secretary.
This regular taking over of former RAF bases and the like might point to the UK government and military putting work ‘off-book’ through private companies. Why would this be done? Well, I can think of a number of reasons.
First, it saves the UK government money if some mug can be persuaded to stump up the cash on the pretext of ‘creating jobs’. Mugs like the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd.
Then there’s the advantage of it being more difficult to question the UK government when defence work is done by private companies. With the bonus that private companies don’t have to worry about Freedom of Information requests.
So use a front company, have someone else help fund it, and let it do military work without fear of being bothered by too many tiresome questions.
Llanbedr specialises in RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems), drones to you and me. It links with the installation at Aberporth. Though Aberporth is ‘managed’ by military contractor Qinetiq. But whatever the set-up, there is no way that drones are being developed and tested without military involvement.
Of course that doesn’t explain what possessed the WDA or ‘Welsh Government’ to a) buy something we didn’t need and b) then pay someone to lease it. Two outlays of cash Wales could not afford.
Though as I suggest in the introduction, my guess is they were cajoled or bullied into this absurd deal by their masters in London.
Now it’s all going to get a bit tricky as we try to figure out who owns what and how assorted entities are related. So pay attention at the back there!
Snowdonia Aerospace LLP has a number of partners (for this is a Limited Liability Partnership not a company), while the new outfit has just two, these being Lee John Paul of Dorset and Putney Investments Ltd of the Isle of Man.
Both Paul and Putney are also partners in the original outfit, Snowdonia Aerospace, but there Putney Investments Ltd gives an address in Queensland, Australia. As I mentioned in the previous post, there seem to be quite a few companies under the ‘Putney’ umbrella (and we’ll be looking at another one in just a minute).
Though it’s not that simple – is it ever? – because there are three Companies House entries for Cromring Ltd. Here they are, together with who and what’s filed where we would normally expect to find directors listed.
Plus – as a special treat! – who and what’s listed for the entities linked to each of the Cromring entries. Use the links to make better sense of it.
Cromring 1/ Michael Eric Cole (Sec), David William Ward, Michael Cole, Lapcrest Ltd. Lapcrest Ltd: Cromring Ltd. So this one is a closed circle.
There are other companies in this network, but I’ve used Cromring to explain the problems faced by anyone trying to disentangle this web of interlocked individuals and companies.
Maybe a better comparison would be a cave system with dozens of entrances, tunnels and caverns; where money goes into one company or LLP and emerges from some other part of the network many miles away. Or just gets lost.
An entity not yet mentioned, but with six outstanding charges against it, is Compass Point Estates LLP. The partners here are: Lee Paul, Gillian Paul, Ocean Park Investments Ltd, and Putney Investments Ltd . . . the one in Queensland.
Providing further proof that the links between the MoD and the people who’ve taken over Llanbedr airfield are long and extensive.
FLYING DOWN TO RIO
Seeing as Putney in its various guises can be found from Queensland to the Isle of Man maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to find Putney Capital Management in Latin America.
This article suggests the company deals in areas that some might regard as asset-stripping. Unpalatable as most of us might find this, it pales into insignificance when we consider other possibilities.
Here’s the link to Putney in Caracas, capital of the socialist paradise of Venezuela, where there must be much to attract asset strippers. (But I’m not here to score cheap political points, you know me.)
Click here to see the Putney Investment ‘node’ that links the Caracas address with a more secretive address in Panama, and which lists as the ‘intermediary’ a Martin Lustgarten.
I’m going to end with a few questions for the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, Cyngor Gwynedd, and anybody else who might feel inclined to proffer an answer.
Why would any Welsh governmental body need to get involved with Llanbedr Airfield when it must have been obvious that the MoD had tenants lined up?
In other words, why couldn’t the MoD have leased the place directly to Lee Paul et al?
Then, having bought a site it had no use for, why did the ‘Welsh Government’ compound its incompetence by giving money to those mentioned above to lease the site, especially after Ieuan Wyn Jones had stated there would be no such payment?
Seeing as a great deal of Welsh money has been donated to those now running Llanbedr Airfield what has been the return in jobs for local people? (And I mean local, not those who many now be living in the area.)
Talking of money, how much has been given by the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd to Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, or spent on infrastructure and in other ways to benefit that group?
Given the reports listed in my previous piece on Llanbedr are the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd satisfied with the way the lessees are managing the site?
Was the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd informed of the formation of the new LLP in October 2019?
What is the purpose of this new LLP?
Given that the name Putney crops up regularly in the Llanbedr narrative, and also in the Panama Papers, does the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd know exactly how Putney is structured and who, ultimately, controls it?
Given that so much Welsh public money has been invested in Llanbedr Airfield and those leasing it, what input does the ‘Welsh Government’ or Cyngor Gwynedd have in the running of the site and in the planning of its future operations?
On page 9, under ‘Future Priorities and Direction for the Zone’ of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021, produced by the ‘Welsh Government’, I read, “To continue to develop a working partnership with the site owners and key stakeholders . . . “. But surely, the ‘Welsh Government’ owns the site? And who are the “key stakeholders”?
Seeing as the lessees are a Limited Liability Partnership, and LLPs only need to submit the most skeletal, unaudited accounts to Companies House, do the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd see the full accounts?
Given that Llanbedr is no Welsh Cape Canaveral providing jobs and spectacular launches to entertain global television audiences, was it worth the ‘Welsh Government’ and Cyngor Gwynedd investing our money in what remains a UK defence installation?