Another betrayal of our dead children

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.

This is a guest post by Brychan Davies, who regularly comments on this blog with commendable erudition. 

It appears the UK government wishes to divest itself of certain responsibilities for the residue of old coal workings. In other words, tips, slag heaps. This responsibility is to be passed to the ‘Welsh Government’, with the carrot being the power to take over land under the guise of ‘environmentalism’ while putting financial burdens on already poor communities.

The only beneficiaries of this transfer of responsibility would seem to be the third sector parasites and the enviroshysters who already plague our benighted land.

Now read what Brychan has to say . . . 

In a crass act of betrayal the BBC are now telling us that the government in Westminster is seeking to replace the Mine and Quarries Act 1969 by dumping those responsibilities on Ministers of the Welsh Government, along with the financial burden onto the shoulders of the Welsh budget.

The Mines and Quarries Act arose from the Aberfan disaster, where as a result of incorrect monitoring and management of a coal tip of Merthyr Vale colliery above the village of Aberfan, most specifically the previously known underground springs and fluidisation of slurry resulted in a tip slide onto the village and Pantglas primary school on 21st October 1966.

The slide resulted in the deaths of 116 children and 28 adults.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the chairman of the National Coal Board, the Baron of Woldingham and former Labour MP, Alfred Robens, stated.

“I wouldn’t have thought myself that anybody would know that there was a spring deep in the heart of a mountain, any more than I can tell you there is one under our feet where we are now. If you are asking me did any of my people on the spot know that there was this spring water, then the answer is, No – they couldn’t possibly . . . It was impossible to know that there was a spring in the heart of this tip which was turning the centre of the mountain into sludge”.

This was despite engineers within the NCB raising the issue, and community groups raising their concerns with Merthyr Council. The result of an enquiry of the disaster was the passing of the Mines and Quarries (Tips) Act 1969. This placed a statutory responsibility for monitoring and remedial action on an “appropriate government minister” to ensure the safety of any remaining tips.

This role was to be carried out by the NCB and then its legacy body the Coal Authority, a public body of the Westminster House currently sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, in London. Most importantly this has responsibility for monitoring and remedial action on water discharges and stability of former coalmines and tips. It is headquartered in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

The Westminster Government has now instructed the Law Commission of England and Wales to open a consultation on a proposal to devolve this responsibility, which has the full backing of the Welsh Government. The consultation can be seen here.

Ownership of actual coal reserves, legacy land assets and licensing is to remain at UK government level. Only the statutory responsibility for safety and the cost of maintaining legacy tips and watercourses is to be devolved.

The consultations asks the following questions.

1. We provisionally propose that the existing regulatory regime for tips associated with operational mines should not be altered. Do you agree?

This would just make Wales responsible for the legacy costs and no control of any future mineral ownership or exploitation.

2. We seek views on whether a satisfactory definition of a disused coal tip could refer to waste from coal mining and whether it should include express reference to overburden dumps, backfill, spoil heaps, stock piles and lagoons.

There are many valuable assets such as ponds (see Glyncorrwg) and land regenerated as nature reserves which are backfill, spoil heaps, stock piles and lagoons. The consultation asks us whether these should be allowed to be under Welsh control.

4: To the extent that liability under the new regulatory framework rests with the owner of land containing a tip, we provisionally propose that the owner should be defined as the freeholder or a leaseholder under a lease of 21 or more years, except where their interest is in reversion upon a term of 21 or more years. Do you agree?

There is an attempt to make any new landowner or leaseholder, grazing rights, farmers, community groups or councils now responsible for the tip underneath.

5: We provisionally propose that a supervisory authority with responsibility for the safety of all disused coal tips should be established. Do you agree? If not, please set out the alternative that you would favour.

Currently, the Coal Authority carries out that role. Monitoring and sampling. There is a proposal of a new ‘supervisory authority’, this may move such responsibilities either to a new Welsh quango, or hand responsibility to local authorities.

9: We provisionally propose that a central tip register should be compiled and maintained. Do you agree?

A tip register doesn’t currently exist, as there are many very old ad-hoc legacy mines of antiquity that only become known when problems become evident. This was recently seen at Skewen. Currently the Coal Authority inherits responsibility. The new legislation seeks to end this, by ‘it’s not on the register so it’s not our problem, butt’.

31: Do you think that the Welsh Ministers should be able to give directions to the supervisory authority and other relevant parties regarding actions to be taken in response to a coal tip emergency?

This relates to ‘upstreaming’ and ‘downstreaming’ of pollution from mines and tips. It seeks to give authority of the Welsh Minister for the Environment to force surrounding landowners to take their own remedial action when a problem becomes evident, such as covering the cost of extra or replacement or augmentation of drainage. This would most likely involve extra liability insurance of households and businesses in the coalfield.

34: Do you consider that new tip safety legislation should be combined with provision for the consideration of tip reclamation? If so, do you favour any particular model?

This would give the power to Welsh Ministers to ‘nationalise’ land holdings that include legacy mine workings in the name of reclamation. Many former, now landscaped, landholdings are used for low-grade agriculture and forestry. It will give statutory powers to Welsh Ministers to ‘grab’ these assets in the name of reclamation, as there is no definition of that constitutes an already reclaimed site.

On the left Gary Haggaty, civil servant, paramour of and adviser to Lesley Griffiths, the ‘Welsh Government’ Minister for the Environment. (Sitting alongside him.) Both believe that Welsh people own far too much Welsh land, and are determined to remedy this unacceptable situation.

The reality is that the Westminster Government wants to wash their hands of the responsibility for historical expropriation of the Welsh coalfields, and are seeking to hand over these responsibilities to the Welsh Government. They have wrapped the proposal in a sugar coating of ‘environmental opportunities’.  It is designed so Welsh Ministers, can pass the costs to the citizens of former mining communities and carry the cost.

A kind of repeat Aberfan Disaster Fund, the original being used to pay the NCB to remove other coal tips, this 21st century equivalent making Welsh communities pay the ongoing costs and it being given a light coloured greenwash.

♦ end ♦

 




Guest post: ‘A sustainable Wales . . . or not’

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.

As it says in the title, this a guest post, and from someone who knows of what they speak. Read it carefully, for it contains valuable insights that you’re unlikely to get elsewhere.

Specifically, this post is about Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) legislation and the vote on March 3 that saw the ‘Welsh Government’ push through its draconian measures which are simply another attack on our farmers.

The fact that most of the pollution doesn’t even come from farms is not simply irrelevant to Labour politicians, it’s ignored completely.

To understand the bigger picture you must realise that the local branch of the British Labour Party is a statist outfit that wants to control everything and everybody, either directly, or else through its agencies in the third sector and elsewhere.

As the writer explains, Labour politicians don’t like farmers because farmers own land (kulaks, see), and they tend to be independently-minded, with a habit of standing up for themselves. What’s more, they’re adept at recognising bullshit.

So farmers have to go. This will be justified on environmental grounds. Freeing land for hippies, rewilders and foreign investors.

This control-freakery also explains why Wales is a basket-case economy. Labour does not want free-thinking indigenous entrepreneurs, even if they provide jobs and make Wales prosperous. Far better to keep Wales poor, blame somebody else, and keep getting elected.

The resultant poverty can also be justified with envirobollocks – ‘What ew mean ew got no job – look at all them wind turbines saving the planet. You selfish bugger!’

Well, of course, that’s not strictly true. Labour politicians and their third sector cronies will always have jobs. Enviroshysters – almost all of them from outside of Wales – will also have jobs. It’s ordinary Welsh people who lose out.

The message is simple. Don’t vote Labour in May’s Senedd elections. Don’t vote for Plaid Cymru either, because Labour will need a coalition with Plaid to stay in power.

Now read what our guest writer has to say . . .

So, in the last month or so, Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment has pushed on with legislation she said she would not push on with 11 times. This was on the basis that agricultural incidents had not decreased from the 3 a week figure that is regularly quoted. As of 3rd March, the regulations will now progress following the Senedd vote.

There are various figures banded around as to why this has been a trigger point and why such an aggressive move has been taken, in the middle (and it is the middle) of the COVID crisis and indeed the aftermath of the Brexit deal.

This is really a statement piece by the Minister to appeal to the environment lobby and her back benchers in the run up to an election. Facts, figures and advice on the regulation from her own regulator, NRW, have been ignored and politics has been front and centre of the decision. Where to go from here? We’ll come back to that a little later.

Jac adds: Not only has Lesley Griffiths been saying it, but her civil servants have also been saying it in responses to members of the public. Click to enlarge

When it comes to Welsh Government, it’s worth taking a look back to see how things have developed.

Firstly, getting rid of scrutiny and the various committees that have provided review and direction has been a key strategy. The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs (CCERA) Committee has to cover such a broad portfolio that it cannot possibly scrutinise in depth. The simple fact is that scrutiny is now a manufactured process, by invitation if you like, with the environment lobby in the pocket of the Minister, who are anti-agri, anti-fisheries and any other private use of natural resources for economic gain, unless you’re a global investor making a land grab under the guise of rewilding, but we won’t mention that.

Secondly, Welsh Government has struggled for years to work out how they could get their policy objectives imprinted on rural Wales. We’re now in the drive to reverse climate change, de-carbonise and promote Wales to the world as a sustainable nation. Farmers own 70% of our private land. The difficulty with trying to get farmers to comply with change is that they own their land and are a broadly militant and belligerent old bunch who would rather sell a kidney than be told what to do. So, in combination with the agriculture white paper out at the moment consulting on the future farm payments system, Minister Griffiths has slapped an NVZ on the whole of Wales to boot.

When you look at some of the drivers of food industry growth, Minister Griffiths own Food and Drink Strategy 2014 – 2020 has targeted increasing sales by 30% to £7bn turnover. Much rejoicing took place last year when it was proclaimed that Welsh Government had ‘smashed its target’. Now a new strategy needs to be developed and it will be based on ‘sustainability’. It should be remembered that Welsh Government has encouraged and invested in the agri-food sectors rapid growth and the question must be asked as to whether it is now a victim of its own success?

I digress.

You see, if you want a snapshot example of what is in store for agriculture, you only need to look at what Welsh Government has done with another comparator sector over which they have devolved responsibility – fisheries.

A small sector in Wales, but nonetheless regularly rolled out by the Minister with unsubstantiated claims of sustainability for which she now strives. The vast majority of engagement mechanisms with the sector have been withdrawn, because, like farmers, fishermen are too difficult for Welsh Government to deal with.

Unlike agriculture, with land ownership in the hands of farmers, Welsh Government actually does have devolved responsibility for marine and fisheries and in layman’s terms, it owns the sea out to the median line. If there is an example of how not to sustainability management resources, this is it. Regulation, not management, is king, delivering boom and bust fisheries such as our main shellfish species by volume, Whelk, that is exploited largely by businesses outside of Wales. Now where have we heard this before…………oh yes, renewables.

Marine renewables is the Minister’s golden ticket to meeting green energy targets and no one will get in the way. While our many centuries old fishing industry and heritage fisheries such as Teifi Seine nets, coracles and the lave net fisheries on the Severn are regulated (for regulated read bullied) out, the push for action in the climate emergency continues. Fisheries is a shining example of how Welsh Government ‘manages’ its resources and should serve as a warning to what is to come for terrestrial Wales.

So the stage is set for the roll out of the NVZ agricultural pollution regulations that will sit alongside the consultation on the agriculture white paper and an announcement made with regard to the future strategy for the food and drink sector where sustainable food production will be at the core. All very nicely choreographed.

What is amazing in all of this is the almost pathological inability of the Minister to acknowledge the issues caused by sewage outfall and releases by water authorities. This has been documented by the BBC and most recent data provided by the Rivers Trust makes for dire reading. Her responses when questioned on this in Plenary have been evasive to say the least. She doesn’t want to talk about it. She has to get her way with the agri sector to line up the other policy objectives. A savage attack on the proposed regulations took place in the Senedd via a recent Conservative debate and again, while referring to a very recent incident and the ‘one too many’ quote, the reality is that statistically there could have well been another 82 sewage incidents going on the very same day!

I have no doubt that a number of MS’s who have voted on this will not have the foggiest what they are voting for, but will have been lobbied by the ‘bastard farmers’ environment crowd from their Cardiff and London bases. The perverse part of this is that in a drive for Wales to be perceived as one of the world’s most sustainable food producers, Minister Griffiths will designate the whole of the country an NVZ against the advice of her regulator and ignoring the main contributor to water quality issues. How does she think this looks from the outside looking in? We’re a laughing stock.

In sectors that have been under devolved regulation for many years such as fisheries, the Minister now talks about co-management out of regulation with a group they can’t engage with and then at the same time has rejected any suggestion of voluntary co-managed farmer-led approaches to agri pollution that were on the table to move to, yep, you’ve guessed it……..regulation. I would suggest her officials need a Zoom meeting to square the circle here.

L to R: Gary Haggaty, civil servant; Lesley Griffiths MS, Labour, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs; Caroline Hitt, writer for the ‘Western Mail’; Elin Jones MS, Plaid Cymru, Senedd Llywydd (Speaker). The cosiness of Corruption Bay made corporeal in a Dublin bar. Click to enlarge

This will be her modulation moment, akin to the decision made by Alun Davies to move 15% of the budget away from direct payments to Pillar 2 and just look at the success that has been, as highlighted by Wales Audit Office last year and further exposed by Craig Williams MP recently. I could also go into the uplands payments debacle but I won’t.

How the farming unions react to this will be key and a judicial review can be expected. However, there is a wider assault in the offing for rural Wales in the hot off the press Future Wales 2040 in the name of sustainability and climate change. It is a large document, but I would urge anyone who has an interest in the future of this country to read it and then decide how you will vote in May. Future Wales 2040 is the planning template for this country and where this blog has pointed out the follies of various ‘developers’ and ‘investors’, I’m certain we will see more of this to come, at scale.

Without wanting to overstate the position, we may be seeing the managed decline of industries in the same way the coal industry was portrayed – inefficient, dirty and unwanted by those who have never done a hard day’s work in their life. The Valleys have never recovered and now having failed to deliver on economic development, Welsh Government MUST deal with climate change, even if it means forcing through bad regulation to achieve it.

♦ end ♦

 




Elections, May 2021

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

The next elections for the Welsh Parliament are just over six months away; so this week I’m taking a break from crooks, money-launderers, con men, enviroshysters, third sector leeches to focus on politicians.

Reading that, the cynics among you will say, “So no great change there, then, Jac!”.

How dare you be so disrespectful of our tribunes! Go stand in the corner!

THE 2016 RESULT

Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the overall result from the previous election in 2016.

‘Abolish the Welsh’ refers to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party, a harmless bunch of anti-Welsh cranks not a gang of loonies bent on genocide. Well not yet, anyway. Click to enlarge

The first thing you might notice is that despite these elections being organised under a system of proportional representation the result, certainly for Labour, the biggest party, gives an outcome not a lot different to first past the post.

You’ll also see that the main challengers get seats roughly in line with their share of the vote, with the smaller parties generally losing out. It’s a system designed to protect the Labour-dominated status quo in Wales, while also stifling ‘insurgent’ parties.

This system has worked to perfection in Wales because the Conservatives are unlikely to ever gain a majority of seats. And when Labour fails to get a majority then Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats will always be there to help.

After the 2016 election Labour went into coalition with the sole Liberal Democrat AM. Which meant that parties with a total of 38% of the vote were able to form an administration.

Is this really how PR is supposed to work?

THE LABOUR PARTY

At the risk of sounding uncharitable, the great thing the Labour Party has had going for it is . . . not being the Conservative Party. The advertising campaigns, the policy drafting, the tub-thumping and the sloganising could all have been ignored in favour of the simple message – ‘Vote for us, cos we’re not the Tories’.

And it’s worked, for almost a century.

In England, the decline of traditional industries, and their associated trade unions, have weakened the Labour Party. Labour in Scotland suffered the same problem, exacerbated by the rise of the Scottish National Party to the point where Labour is hanging on for dear life, with just one Westminster MP left.

In Wales, Labour has fared better because we’ve been spared the corrupting influence of prosperity, and also because there is no equivalent of the SNP. Of course, Plaid Cymru likes to view itself as the Welsh SNP but the SNP set out to destroy the Labour Party in Scotland whereas Plaid Cymru seeks to keep its Welsh branch alive and in power.

How Labour will do next May depends to a considerable extent on perceptions of the Conservative government in London. For while Scotland has a vigorous national media allowing elections to be influenced by Scottish issues, the absence of a Welsh media worthy of the name means that here we tend see Englandandwales elections.

The exception being perhaps areas with high numbers of Welsh speakers who are less reliant on news from London.

On issues of the day, there is a general and widespread belief that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than Johnson, Hancock, Jenrick and the rest of the gang up in London.

But then, being seen as less incompetent than that crew is no great achievement.

When we address purely Welsh issues, it’s difficult to think of anything Labour has to crow about. For Wales continues to fall behind other countries in areas like wealth, health, housing and education.

Cardiff seems to be prospering but away from the Lesser Wen the country can be divided into post-industrial areas experiencing managed decline and rural areas undergoing engineered population change from Welsh to English.

Labour leader, Mark Drakeford, is less oleaginous than his predecessor, Carwyn Jones, but still a difficult man to like. Despite the Brownie points gained for Covid-19 there remain plenty of bear traps for him to negotiate between here and next May.

By any criteria one cares to apply, Labour has been a failure since 2016. Labour has failed Wales since the dawn of devolution in 1999. But for the reasons I’ve given, Labour will still emerge as the largest single party, with around 30% of the vote.

But well short of a majority of seats.

If nothing else, such a result should increase calls for more Senedd Members and a system of true proportional representation.

THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY (CUP)

The last few years have been a series of peaks and troughs for the CUP, with Brexit almost tearing the party apart under Theresa May. Things took a turn for the better when Boris Johnson became party leader and won a famous victory in December . . . since when it’s been downhill again.

In last December’s election the Tories won a number of seats in the north, most notably, Wrexham, held by Labour since 1931. But the overall vote in Wales only increased by 2.5%. The real story was that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party saw its Welsh vote go down by 8%.

Things have not gone well for the CUP since that December election for all sorts of reasons. Such as a number of the new intake being pretty odious specimens.

The new MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosby, has appeared on this blog a number of times, usually defending her colleague and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry. Berry owns properties around Rhoscolyn and earlier this year people were asking if he was breaking lockdown restrictions to travel between his Welsh properties, his London home, and his constituency.

Then Delyn MP Rob Roberts got into trouble for asking young staffers to “fool around with him”. While Wrexham new girl, Sarah Atherton, wondered why the military weren’t dealing with the refugee/migrant boats crossing from France.

While old favourites like Alun Cairns, the MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, continue to amaze with their talent for finding little sidelines to supplement their meagre incomes.

The situation does not look like improving for the Tories, for two main reasons.

Let’s look first at Covid-19. As I said in the previous section, the Conservative government in London has had a disastrous pandemic: incompetence, lies, contracts to cronies, it’s all there, and this will be remembered next May.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Tories seem determined to alienate even more people by insisting that the ‘Welsh Government’ is being anti-English when – for perhaps the first time ever – it prioritises the interests of Wales.

That’s certainly what was said by Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, and Alun Cairns. Which makes them either complete bell-ends or calculating politicians.

I believe it’s the latter, because in spouting this nonsense, the Tories are playing to a particular gallery. I’m thinking now of the anti-Welsh, gammony element that might otherwise be seduced by the growing number of splinter group parties on the BritNat fringe. (I’ll come to them later.)

The other problem of their own making is, again, Brexit. Of course Wales voted for Brexit, but I’m sure very few of us voted for privatising the NHS, chlorinated chicken, and undermining the Welsh farming industry. I certainly didn’t.

But it’s now become clear that a No Deal Brexit was always the favoured option for the CUP leadership in London. Which will mean the City of London remains at the centre of the biggest money-laundering network in the world; the NHS is opened up to US Big Pharma; and we have to get used to food products from the USA, where standards in both hygiene and animal welfare are more ‘relaxed’.

All the Welsh CUP MPs voted for this deal. Which is not clever for people representing constituencies with large numbers of farmers . . . and their extended families . . . and contractors to the industry, and so many others who rely to a greater or lesser degree on agriculture for their livelihoods.

There will be a price to pay next May for the coronavirus cock-ups and the shafting of our farmers. And while the Tories in Corruption Bay weren’t responsible, it’ll be some of them who’ll pay the price.

Other factors working against the Conservatives will be the Englandandwales media/election paradigm and the Vera Lynn Fan Clubs competing for regional votes.

For all these reasons I expect the CUP representation in the Welsh Parliament to fall.

PLAID CYMRU THE PARTY OF WALES

Although Plaid Cymru won 12 seats in 2016 the party is now down to 10. Lord Elis Thomas, the constituency member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, left to become a Labour-supporting Independent; and Neil McEvoy, the regional AM for South Wales Central, left to sit as an Independent before forming the Welsh National Party (WNP).

A further change since 2016 is that Plaid Cymru also has a new leader in Adam Price. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about him is that he’s not former leader, Leanne Wood.

For most Welsh voters Plaid Cymru is the party of Welsh independence, but as I’ve argued, Plaid Cymru is a party that sought more autonomy for Wales, more funding for Wales, and the creation of a new class of politicians and administrators made up of . . . well, the kind of people who populate the upper echelons of Plaid Cymru.

This was to be a system that created a new class that Djilas would have recognised enjoying prestige and influence without the responsibility of having to fund it. Devolution, with a bit more power, many more sinecures, and lots more money, is the end of the line.

Plaid Cymru was always Cymru Fydd resurrected, not a Welsh Sinn Féin. Until, that is, it moved to the left in the 1980s and really screwed itself up. Enjoying only a brief period of coherence under the leadership of Dafydd Wigley and the first Assembly elections in 1999.

Today we again see a schizophrenic party where Welsh-speaking social conservatives from the rural heartlands mix uncomfortably with some real oddballs and a few with views that should have denied them membership.

Plaid Cymru is today one of those confused leftist parties that is vehemently opposed to intolerance . . . except when it’s those it approves of being intolerant.

As a leftist party Plaid Cymru believes that, thanks to the capitalist system, we’re either going to fry due to global warming, or else we’re going to drown from rising sea levels, so Wales must play its part in trying to avert these outcomes.

In practice, that means supporting wind turbines that create no jobs and simply exploit Wales. Where profits flow to a City hedge fund, or a multinational, or a state-owned energy company from Scandinavia.

Except on issues that are largely irrelevant to Wales – where Plaid Cymru can play gesture politics – the party comes across as weak and indecisive. Take holiday homes. Plaid talks the talk but it won’t walk the walk.

At present Welsh local authorities can impose a council tax surcharge on holiday homes up to 100%. The only council that levies the 100% is Labour-controlled Swansea. (And despite what you might think, there are many holiday homes on the waterfront, in Mumbles, and of course around Gower.)

Independent-run Powys recently voted to impose a surcharge of 75%.

But Gwynedd, where Plaid Cymru is in control, imposes only a 50% surcharge. It’s a similar picture in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

On independence, Plaid Cymru has been outflanked and overtaken by Yes Cymru. While on the party political front there are two new challengers in the form of Gwlad and the Welsh National Party (WNP). Both are unequivocal about prioritising Welsh interests, and are fully committed to achieving independence.

So you really have to wonder what Plaid Cymru stands for nowadays, and where it’s going. That’s certainly what Welsh voters will be doing in May. Many will conclude that Plaid Cymru has hit the buffers.

Which certainly seems to be the case.

For while opinion polls tell us that more and more people are prepared to consider independence, those same polls show little or no increase in support for Plaid Cymru. Recent polls show 51% of Labour voters prepared to consider independence, but only 71% of Plaid Cymru voters!

What’s going wrong for Plaid Cymru?

In a nutshell, Plaid Cymru believes that the only acceptable vision of independence must be well to the left of centre, pro EU, in favour of open borders, anti Trump, and dragging a whole baggage train of ishoo-of-the-month idiocies that turn off most voters.

Dogmatic to the point of being unelectable.

Plaid Cymru always failed to engage with the urban, anglophone population. After the disappointment of Brexit, the success of the Brexit Party (winning the May 2019 EU elections in Wales and the UK), and BoJo’s victory last December, many in Plaid Cymru – like the US Democrats – have given up trying to win over stupid, racist, poor whites.

They find it preferable to retreat into their cocoons of progressive self-righteousness in the echo chamber of social media.

Which is why I believe Plaid Cymru will lose Ceredigion and also end up with fewer Members from the regional lists.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

There’s a temptation to be very unkind in this section . . . but it’s not in my nature to put the boot in when somebody’s down. And boy! are the Liberal Democrats down.

Down to a single Member, Kirsty Williams, the constituency MS for Brecon and Radnorshire. After the debacle of 2016 Ms Williams threw in her lot with Labour and became Minister for Education. You probably haven’t noticed.

It’s an amazing decline for the party of David Lloyd George, but entirely predictable when we consider the quality of leaders and representatives in recent years at both Welsh and UK level. I’m not sure if Ms Williams holds group meetings with herself but I’m sure she will have thought the same thing many a time.

And yet, despite currently being down to a solitary representative, the Liberal Democrats could be the big winners in May next year.

As I’ve suggested, the CUP has pissed off a lot of people, and most certainly a lot of farmers. Few will know that better than Kirsty Williams, a farmer’s wife.

Obviously, I’m not privy to what goes on at Welsh Liberal Democrat Party meetings (I can never find the telephone kiosk!) but I’m sure Kirsty Williams has hopes for the seats of Montgomeryshire to the north and Ceredigion to the west. (If the students in Aber’ and Lampeter have forgiven the Lib Dems for reneging on tuition fees.)

So I’m predicting that the Liberal Democrats could double, or even treble, their representation in May 2021. These are the three constituencies mentioned, and there might even be a regional list seat.

VERA LYNN FAN CLUBS

This is where it gets tricky, because the landscape on the BritNat right is forever shifting. Hardly surprising when we look at the personalities involved, and realise how many of them are often described as ‘interesting’, or ‘eccentric’ (code for ‘absolute nutter’).

Back in 2016, the big winner among this section of the electorate was UKIP, with 13% of the vote and seven seats. The Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party did not stand constituency candidates and got just 4.4% of the regional vote (which was still more than the share won by the Green Party of Englandandwales).

Since 2016 UKIP has had eight or nine UK leaders, numerous resignations, and in Corruption Bay is now reduced to the solitary – but dapper – form of Neil Hamilton. In fact, I’m not sure if Neil Hamilton isn’t the current party leader. Or was that last month?

Not so long ago the Abolish lot was the fringe of a fringe, but now it boasts two Members of the Senedd, Gareth Bennett and Mark Reckless. Though you’ve gotta be pretty desperate to boast about those two.

Others who were returned under the banner of British exceptionalism were Nathan Gill, Michelle Brown, David Rowlands and Caroline Jones. Following his resignation in 2018 Gill was replaced by Mandy Jones. Michelle Brown now sits as an Independent.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at those UKIP meetings because by comparison ferrets in a sack are models of harmony and co-existence.

The most recent development is that Rowlands and the Jones women have formed a new group, the Independent Alliance for Reform. And if that name doesn’t stir something deep inside you – other than wind – then you are beyond hope.

It is obviously designed to be interchangeable with or to complement Aux barricades!

And all the while, in the wings, observing, is Nigel Farage. Will his Reform Party put in a late appearance, or will it be the promised relaunch of the Brexit Party? Though with Brexit almost done what would be the platform?

For let us remember that the Assembly elections of May 2016 were held just ahead of the EU referendum and were almost overshadowed by it. This propinquity benefited Ukip.

One thing’s for sure, if all the parties we’ve looked at in this section fight all the seats then we’ll be royally entertained by the stars they’ll recruit from Wetherspoons and other squelchy underfoot salons. A goodly number of whom will have to withdraw before the election after saying or doing something really stupid.

The BritNat right has no hope of a constituency seat, so hopes rest on the regional lists. Which means that a lot will depend on whether they fight each other or come to some arrangement.

I suspect there are still enough “Brexit means Brexit” types out there to win 3 seats.

THE SERIOUS ABOUT WALES PARTIES

Looking around Wales and seeing the mess this country is in is painful enough, but when you realise that none of the existing parties offers any hope of meaningful change, then new parties will be formed.

And that’s exactly what’s happened; and why we have Gwlad and the WNP.

I am a member of Gwlad and played a small part in its creation, but it was easy for me to withdraw to the blogosphere because the party is in such capable hands.

I like to think that Gwlad combines patriotism with pragmatism. For example, in believing that relying on handouts from London, as Labour and Plaid Cymru prefer, only perpetuates the misconception that Wales could never stand on her own two feet economically.

There are radical yet practical proposals across the board. We’ve already touched on Plaid Cymru’s fear of upsetting second home owners – a number in their own ranks – with meaningful levels of council tax; well, Gwlad does not hesitate to demand a 500% council tax surcharge.

It’s all here in the Manifesto for 2021.

Predictably, the criticism levelled against Gwlad by Plaid Cymru is that we shall “split the nationalist vote”. This is nonsense, because Plaid Cymru has already split – or certainly, limited – the nationalist vote by its inflexible and off-putting socialism.

This is borne out in recent elections and in even more so in recent opinion polls.

What Gwlad will do is reach out to those who want, or would be prepared to consider, independence, but could never vote for a hard-line socialist party also lumbered with the tag of still being a party only for Welsh speakers.

Gwlad could come through a crowded field to win a constituency seat and should certainly collect 3 or 4 regional list seats.

Of course, I’ve met Neil McEvoy a few times and we exchange the occasional e-mail, Wales is a small country after all. But I really don’t know much about his new party beyond what I read in the media.

Though I do know a few others involved with the WNP.

Over the years I’ve sunk a few pints with Councillor Keith Parry . . . and I’m still haunted by a car journey one very rainy night as I tried to concentrate on the road ahead while my mate and Keith’s Jewish wife argued over the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum.

I feared it was all going to end in a fight and a fireball car crash. Phew!

Many observers try to say that Neil McEvoy only took the course he did in forming the WNP because he was effectively thrown out of Plaid Cymru. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Neil has been in politics a long time, and he knows what’s wrong with Wales. On one level it’s London’s political, economic and cultural stranglehold, but on the local level it’s the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru.

Labour holds power on local councils and in the Senedd . . . simply to be in power; to stop someone else getting the salaries and the expenses, attending the bun-fights and the jollies. Labour has little intention – and no real incentive – to improve the lives of our people because for a century it has capitalised on Wales’ deprivation.

Plaid Cymru, as I’ve said, is a party of gestures and abstractions. It is the twenty-first century political equivalent of those medieval divines who would argue over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

But actually doing anything? Forget it!

But if one of his constituents persuades him they’re getting a raw deal, then Neil McEvoy will take up the case and demand something be done about it. And he sometimes ruffles feathers doing it. But if kids are sharing a bedroom with rats, or there’s water rippling down the kitchen wall . . .

Neil McEvoy is a do-er, a man who believes in the direct approach; and that makes the anguished attitudinisers of Plaid Cymru very nervous. And never more so than when he confronts the Labour Party.

On two major issues, the ‘nuclear mud’ being dumped off Cardiff, and the forged signatures on cladding certificates, Plaid Cymru has behaved abominably. None worse than Llywydd Elin Jones. But she couldn’t have behaved as she did without the backing of Labour and Plaid Cymru.

Sticking it to the man may outrage the sensitive flowers of Plaid Cymru but it goes down well with real people, on the streets of Cardiff, and elsewhere in Wales. People want their problems solved, they do not want to be patronised, or taken for granted, by an aloof and self-serving political class.

The big test will come in the constituency seat of Cardiff West, where McEvoy will be standing against First Minister Drakeford. Plaid Cymru will of course be splitting the nationalist vote in the hope of securing victory for Mark Drakeford.

Neil McEvoy’s street cred and his sheer hard work might win Cardiff West next May, plus a couple of regional list seats.

My very personal belief is that Gwlad and the WNP should not get in each other’s way next May. Neither has the strength yet to fight a full national election so it’s in their interests, and more importantly, it’s in Wales’s interests, for there to be some kind of deal.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I obviously can’t account for all those who might be standing next May, there’s bound to be a wild card or two. But what you’ve just read is how I see it panning out.

Other factors will I’m sure influence voters. Perhaps the UK government’s Internal Markets Bill; supposedly about ‘repatriating’ powers from the EU but which, in reality, gives BoJo’s gang the power to trample all over devolution.

Perhaps it will even be used to challenge the 1707 Act of Union.

More specific to Wales is a growing awareness of and dislike for the chumminess of Cardiff Bay. The air of cronyism and unaccountability exemplified by Labour and Plaid Cymru refusing to bring in a register of lobbyists.

The problem in this area is obvious, but there are always excuses for doing nothing. This is because Labour and Plaid Cymru are too close to those who might be held to account by such legislation.

Another issue that might influence some voters to take a punt on a new party is the widespread perception that Cardiff gets everything. Which doesn’t change when an MS goes to Cardiff promising to speak up for his area . . . only to be sucked into the swamp that is Corruption Bay.

But perhaps we should remember Harold Macmillan’s response when asked what was most likely to influence or derail political plans. Supermac is said to have replied: “Events, dear boy, events.”

In other words, that which cannot be foreseen. Six months is a very long time in politics.

♦ end ♦

 




Tourism in Wales: problems, thoughts, suggestions

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’m taking a break from the con men, fraudsters and assorted crooks who figure regularly here. But I’m not moving far, because this week I’m focusing on tourism operators, politicians and others who themselves have but a nodding acquaintance with the truth.

THE STORM BREAKS

One of the benefits of coronavirus and lockdown was the absence of tourists, and the joyous consequences of that absence. Such as much less traffic on our rural roads, fewer call-outs for our emergency services, and in all manner of ways making rural and coastal areas of Wales more pleasant for those who live there all year round.

Making recent months seem even more of a lost golden age has been the irruption of noisy, stupid and irresponsible tourists since lockdown was eased by our self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, bowing to pressure from the Conservative and Unionist Party and tourism operators.

There has inevitably been a reaction from local people to the return of the tourists in what have been, literally, overwhelming numbers. What you see below was the scene two weeks ago near Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).

Click to enlarge

Much of the anger this has generated is directed at motorists, with many photos in print and online of inconsiderately parked cars. Which allowed some to argue that all would be well if we had bigger car parks to accommodate all the vehicles. Or even park and ride schemes.

Both of which ignore the real problem – many areas get more cars than the local road system can handle, and more people than the environment can cope with. I shall return to the environmental angle later.

Let’s also remember that the problems caused by tourism go way beyond traffic issues.

RESPONSES

Here’s a two-page spread from last Wednesday’s Llais y Sais, in which we read Councillor Gareth Thomas, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Head of Economical Development, opine that, despite the recent problems, tourism, “provides high quality jobs for local people as well as supporting the county’s environment, language, culture and destinations”.

“Destinations”?

Click to enlarge

I don’t know Gareth Thomas, he might be a great bloke, but anyone saying that tourism provides high quality jobs, and that it also supports the area’s environment, language and culture is talking absolute nonsense.

Yesterday’s Daily Post carried what might have been an attempt to retrieve the situation. (With first minister Drakeford not ruling out a tourism tax . . . sort of.) But did council leader Dyfrig Siencyn really say, as he is quoted: ” . . . our rural economy is totally dependent on the tourism industry”?

A fuller version of this article may have appeared in Llais y Sais, Read it here.

Perhaps hoping to establish its own credentials vis-à-vis tourism opposition group Llais Gwynedd also weighed in. For those unfamiliar with Llais Gwynedd (which has 6 councillors), it sees itself as perhaps more radical than Plaid Cymru, more rooted in the local communities of Gwynedd.

Its spokesman, Glyn Daniels, wants to charge hikers on Yr Wyddfa £1 per head. I don’t know Glyn Daniels either, but he’s also talking rubbish. At £1 per head the money raised wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs of collecting and processing it.

What’s more, it would not serve as a deterrent. And we need some kind of deterrent to reduce the numbers coming to areas like our national parks and other ‘honey pots’. To cover the costs mentioned, and put a decent amount into the communities affected, the charge would need to be a minimum of £10 a head.

In a Daily Post poll, more than 70% of respondents agreed there should be a charge.

Opposing Councillor Daniels’ suggestion to charge hikers was Brân Devey, of Ramblers Cymru, with a remark I found rather puzzling: “Local people will not go up Snowdon really in the summer, it is too busy”.

Is he saying we shouldn’t charge the people overcrowding Yr Wyddfa in summer because they’re not locals?

‘Ramblers Cymru’ is worth a little detour.

‘RAMBLERS CYMRU’?

You will remember that ‘Dr’ Jane Davidson, Minister for Hippies in the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition 2007 – 2011, and midwife of One Planet Developments, was also Welsh vice-president of The Ramblers before stepping down in 2007, and then, as grough tells us, she rejoined as president when she departed Corruption Bay in 2011.

But of course she shunned The Ramblers, and the ramblers, while she was a minister.

Click to enlarge

For some reason this second stint with The Ramblers is not mentioned in Davidson’s Wikipedia entry. (By the time you read it the page might have been re-written, again.)

Though it’s difficult to make out if there really is a group called Ramblers Cymru or, as the grough article I just linked to puts it, Davidson became “president of the Ramblers in Wales”.

The website, https://www.ramblers.org.uk/wales, suggests another Englandandwales organisation, for when you click ‘Home’ on the Wales page you go back to the UK site.

Which is appropriate, for most of those working for Ramblers Cymru have moved here to do jobs that are clearly beyond the abilities of Welsh people. Mainly women of the type who have flooded into Wales since devolution to run the hundreds of third sector bodies that the ‘progressive’ parties feel we can’t do without.

One, Maria Hamlett, says: “My background includes working in numerous third sector organisations in key governance roles”. While Amanda Hill has: “15 years experience working for Worcestershire County Council”. Rebecca Brough: “I have a background in policy influencing work in the governmental, charity and statutory sectors”.

Important points there. For the staff at Ramblers Cymru don’t restrict themselves to scolding a wicked farmer for leaving Berwyn the bull on the footpath, they also seek to influence policy-makers. Just as Jane Davidson did, before, during, and after her stint as a minister.

The people I’m describing do not represent – nor do they seek to represent – our interests. If Welsh interests are served then it’s entirely accidental or tangential. ‘Ramblers Cymru’ and similar organisations seek to curate (love that word!) our homeland for the benefit of others like themselves.

We have far too many colonialist organisations like ‘Ramblers Cymru’.

Because it is what it is no one should be surprised to learn that – just like ‘rewilders’ – The Ramblers demand that the ‘Welsh Government’ forces farmers to do their bidding or have their funding withheld.

Dontcha just love the term, ‘our land’. Another example of, ‘What’s yours is ours’.

Click to enlarge

The Ramblers merit this digression because they see Wales as an area for recreation. For them Wales is not a different country; where people witness their language and identity, the country itself, being destroyed by saturation tourism.

What should also make you angry is that these memsahibs, based on Cathedral Road (ideal for rambling), and others just like them, have more influence in Corruption Bay than we poor natives will ever have.

WHAT THE POLITICIANS SAY

That ‘our’ politicians go along with ‘Playground Wales’ is easily explained.

The Labour Party, which has managed Wales since 1999, is an urban party with little concern for rural areas. Labour has no coherent economic plan for the countryside so pretending there is a ‘strategy for tourism’ is a useful way of disguising this inadequacy.

The truth is that tourism is unregulated; it just ‘happens’, and things would carry on in much the same way if the ‘Welsh Government’ fell into a wormhole and reappeared in some distant galaxy. (Stop dreaming!) Making bodies like Visit Wales little more than bystanders, pretending they do something more than organise beanos where they hand out awards and grants.

Click to read article and play video

One of the few things to be said in its favour is that tourism reveals the inconsistency, if not the hypocrisy, of the Labour Party.

Wales must be covered in wind turbines to save the planet, says Labour. For the same reason, OPDs must be allowed to impose their carbon footprint on previously unused land. Yet when our environment is trashed by tourist hordes on a regular basis Labour politicians are blind to the environmental damage!

Another example of Labour’s hypocrisy might be promoting renewable energy, saving the planet, and worrying about the underprivileged . . . while giving millions of pounds to Aston Martin to build £200,000 cars doing 12 miles to the gallon.

The ‘Welsh Government’s declaration of a climate emergency is just bullshit to explain away Wales being lumbered with the wind turbines English communities refuse to accept, and having to accommodate Jane Davidson’s friends.

The Conservative and Unionist Party (plus the fringe BritNats) will support tourism because they will never object to anything that both anglicises Wales and keeps money flowing back to England from staycations in Wales.

Blind, unthinking loyalty to tourism probably explains the comment, quoted in the North Wales Pioneer, from Darren Millar, the MS for Clwyd West, addressing Glyn Daniels’ pound a head suggestion. In Millar’s view, “This is a bad idea. Every pound charged will be a pound less for people to spend in the local economy”.

If Darren Millar had thought before speaking he’d have realised that every pound charged would be guaranteed to stay in the locality, unlike money taken in other ways.

What’s more, those who drive to Yr Wyddfa – to park here, there and everywhere – are often day-trippers, from Greater Manchester, Merseyside and towns nearby. Some will arrive having filled the fuel tank before leaving England, bring a packed lunch, and go home without spending a penny!

For the environmental damage alone, these buggers should be charged £20 a head.

While Plaid Cymru . . . well, what can I say? Plaid Cymru nowadays doesn’t give much thought to Wales. They’re too busy facing up to the fascist hordes they see advancing, outing terfs on social media, and planning more dirty tricks against Neil McEvoy.

Though maybe it’s best they stay schtum, because when they do address the subject – as we’ve seen with Gareth Thomas – they only confirm that they’ve lost the plot.

Whenever a political party, or a politician, says, ‘Wales needs tourism’ they are either lying or exposing their ignorance. The truth is only arrived at by reversing the phrase to read, ‘Tourism needs Wales’.

To conclude this section on a more optimistic note, Wales has two new political parties – Gwlad and the WNP – who I’m sure will take a more analytical, and patriotic, approach to tourism.

I expect both to demand a form of tourism that works for Wales, and the Welsh. Rather than what we suffer at present – an alien enterprise with Welsh people nothing but helpless bystanders as their country is trashed.

MAKING TOURISM WORK FOR US

Let me set out my stall . . .

  • I want to see an industry offering visitors from all over the world quality tourism.
  • An industry that provides business opportunities and well-paid, permanent  jobs for Welsh people.
  • An industry that benefits Wales and her people without the cultural, social and environmental damage currently being inflicted by tourism.

Here are just a few suggestions for achieving these objectives:

1/ Tourism tax: A minimum charge of £2 per head per overnight stay, including those in self-catering accommodation. This to be collected by the owner of the property or site and paid to the local authority.

This money will used in the areas from which it is collected or on capital projects of more widespread benefit. Why not consult local people on how they’d like to see it spent?

Tourism tax is raised everywhere and it benefits local communities. I recall Silvio Berlusconi having to pay a local tourism tax in Sardinia when he docked his luxury yacht, the Bunga Bunga.

2/ Caravan sites: These is no place for these blots on the landscape in a country promoting quality tourism in a respected environment. They offer holidays on the cheap and the money they put into the local economy is overstated. Very few jobs are created and the major beneficiary is the site owner, often a foreign company.

Caravan sites should be phased out over a period of ten years with no replacement ‘vans, cabins or lodges permitted. Thousands of acres could be returned to agriculture or Nature by getting rid of them.

Farmers and others should be allowed small sites of perhaps no more than 50 units.

To maximise tourism income, business opportunities and jobs we should strive to have as many people as possible staying in serviced accommodation.

3/ Raising standards: In New Zealand – a country with which we often like to compare Wales – they have a School of Tourism, operating on eight campuses throughout the country, internationally respected and offering a wide range of courses.

In Wales, all we do is teach Siôn and Sioned elementary catering skills at the local sixth form college so they can work for Kevin from Stockport who owns the local hotel . . . since he bought it off Keith and Sharon from Coventry. Kevin, of course, will have had no training.

Or it might be Paul and Rowena Williams at Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor. Or their business partner, Myles Cunliffe. (‘Weep for Wales’ passim.) Or perhaps Siôn and Sioned can get a job at one of the hotels owned by Gavin Lee Woodhouse.

Or perhaps not, seeing as all the businesses owned by these crooks are closed and/or in the hands of receivers.

Which is why other countries insist on a proven level of proficiency, and background checks, before anyone is allowed to run a hotel. But here, money is all that matters. As long as you’ve got the dosh you can buy a five star hotel, and run it badly, thereby damaging the reputation of the locality, and Wales.

You can even buy a zoo without knowing anything about the care of animals!

4/ Permits: New Zealand provides another example worth following. (And NZ isn’t alone in this.) I’m referring now to limiting numbers visiting environmentally sensitive areas and issuing those visiting with permits.

If you live outside Wales and you want to go hiking in one of our national parks then you should pay £20 a year. For the three national parks you pay £50 a year. If the National Trust can charge us to visit sites in our own country, why can’t we do something similar and use the money for our benefit?

Again, the money raised would be used within the local area.

Click to read article

5/ Airports: You don’t need to go as far as New Zealand to realise the value of a good airport. Scotland is a much nearer example. Overseas tourists, high-spending overseas tourists, fly directly to Glasgow and Edinburgh. They do so all year round.

All we have is Cardiff airport, kept afloat by public money and still losing out to Bristol. We obviously need a new, more accessible airport in the south. We also need one in the north. Why not revamp Llanbedr airfield? It would be better to have overseas tourists flying in than to have the place used – as at present – for testing inaccurate drones that will wipe out wedding parties in Afghanistan.

Well-heeled foreign tourists flying in also offer opportunities for taxi and car hire firms.

6/ Public Transport: Overseas and other tourists not wanting to drive will need public transport. An integrated public transport system is therefore essential. This would have to include a north-south rail link.

The ‘Welsh Government’ has prevaricated for years over re-opening the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line. That’s because doing so would offer no obvious benefits to Cardiff or to England.

Yet you’d think that an administration dedicated to saving the planet would prioritise public transport. But no, and this lack of commitment to public transport – apart from the Cardiff Metro (to benefit the Cardiff economy not the environment) – is yet another example of Labour’s hypocrisy.

7/ Funding: A major obstacle to Welsh people getting involved in tourism – other than as cooks and cleaners – is a lack of finance.

The ‘Welsh Government’ could divert a portion of the funding it squanders on third sector memsahibs into a pot accessible to young Welsh people who’ve been through school, got a few years practical experience under their belts, and now need funding to branch out on their own.

I appreciate that this is not how tourism is supposed to operate in a colonial context, but what the hell – let’s give it a try!

8/ Touring caravans and Camper-vans: I’m throwing this one in more as a traffic safety measure and a means of lowering blood pressure, but it’s definitely related to tourism.

No towed caravans or camper-vans should be allowed on any public highway between the hours of 6am and 10pm.

CONCLUSION

Tourism in Wales can be summed up as hundreds of thousands of people driving east to west along overcrowded roads, congregating in unsustainable numbers at certain points, staying in the cheapest possible accommodation (if they stay at all), and spending as little money as possible before driving home. Each wave succeeded by the next, and each wave contributing to erosion.

So, what do you think – should we continue to accept ‘Tourism at any cost’?

I say no. I say we reject the idea that Wales exists to provide cheap holidays for our neighbours. Wales should not provide anything to anyone on the cheap.

But the political will must be there to make the necessary changes.

If the political will is absent then we as a nation have every right to defend ourselves from this exploitation of our homeland, this assault on our very identity.

♦ end ♦

 




One Planet Developments

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

This is a subject I’ve tackled before; I’m returning to it because the problem seems to be spreading, yea! even unto the city of my dreams.

This is another ‘biggie’ but, as usual, broken down into easily-digestible chunks. Enjoy!

INTRODUCTION

For those new to the subject, One Planet Developments were introduced and encouraged by the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition management team (2007 – 2011), at the instigation of – among others – Jane Davidson, who served in that team as the Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing.

The issue being addressed was, we were told, how Wales could play its part in saving the planet. Yet this excuse was – as we political commentators are wont to put it – bollocks. The lie is exposed by the claim that OPDs will reduce Wales’ carbon footprint – by attracting more people into the country.

For Wales is the only country on Earth to allow OPDs. No one else has been so stupid.

Click to enlarge

The true motivation was that Davidson’s ‘alternative’ friends wanted smallholdings in Wales but didn’t want to pay commercial property prices. Enacting legislation –TAN 6 strengthened with the Well-being of Future Generations Act – allowed hippies to settle just about anywhere by claiming OPD status, then demanding – and getting! – planning permission for structures that no one else would be allowed to build.

This meant they could set up a smallholding on a shoestring.

Her work done in Corruption Bay, Davidson moved on after the 2011 election to take advantage of the group-think she had helped engender. A post was created for her at UWTSD Lampeter with the Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness (INSPIRE), a department that began life with her arrival in January 2012.

Perhaps in the hope of disguising the relationship between the Labour Party and higher education, and to give her some academic credibility, Davidson is billed as ‘Dr Jane Davidson’, but her doctorate is purely honorary, and from another Labour-linked institution in Pontypridd.

Click to enlarge

Predictably, ‘Dr’ Davidson lives on a smallholding of her own.

MOVING EAST

The majority of OPDs are to be found in Pembrokeshire and west Carmarthenshire, but as I’ve suggested, they’re creeping east.

Earlier this month a planning application was submitted to Carmarthenshire County Council for a OPD at Llansteffan. To be exact, in ‘Pentowyn farm yard’. Here’s the full planning application.

Pentowyn farm is located across the Tâf estuary from Dylan Thomas’s boathouse at Laugharne. Nice.

Note that the work on this OPD started on 1 May last year, so it’s taken over a year for what is now the retrospective planning application to be submitted. Which is how OPDs operate, knowing that no matter what the local planning authority might say, the ‘Welsh Government’ or the Planning Inspectorate will always grant planning consent.

To help you follow the tale, here’s the plan submitted with the planning application. It shows a long, thin section of land to the east and north east of the farm buildings, with a more compact area to the south and south west, on the other side of the road. The planned buildings are located on this second area.

Click to enlarge

A number of things struck me about this application. First, the agent is Tao Wimbush; and if that name rings a bell, then it’s because he is a hetman in the Lammas commune not far away, up towards Crymych.

I’d always assumed that these enviro-colons were vegans, or at least, vegetarians – so why is there a ‘butchers unit’ and a ‘mobile refrigeration unit’ at this OPD? But then, Wimbush is only the agent, the adviser.

The applicants are Mark and Ann Oriel, and even though their company name as given on the planning application is ‘Lammas Earth Centre’, and their address that for the Lammas commune, I suspect the Oriels live in Bancyfelin, and Mark runs a slap, rub and squeeze outlet in nearby Sanclêr. (No, not that kind of establishment.)

Which might suggest he too lacks the necessary background in the butchering of livestock and the preparing of meat for sale. So why the ‘butchers unit’? (I wish to God people would use apostrophes.)

Certainly, the Oriels own the land to the east of the farmhouse, the land edged in red on the Land Registry title document plan (scroll down). But the land to the south of the farmhouse, where the shack and the butcher’s building will be located, is not on that title document. So who owns that land?

When I tried to get the document from the Land Registry I drew a blank. The land is either not registered or not yet re-registered.

Copyright Ordnance Survey. Click to enlarge

If you go back to the planning application (20) you’ll read, ‘A butchers unit for processing meat grown on the farm’. I’m not sure that the Oriels have enough land to graze many animals so this must refer to other land.

When asked if neighbours or the local community have been consulted about the proposed development (23) the applicant answers, ‘I have discussed the proposal with my direct neighbours’. So who are the ‘direct neighbours’?

The farm buildings and the land down as far as the road are owned by a woman living in Sketty, Swansea. Shown here edged in red on the Land Registry title plan. I suspect they (or some of them) have been converted into holiday cottages.

Copyright Ordnance Survey. Click to enlarge

The land across the road to the south east, adjoining the land for which planning permission is sought, is owned a local farming family. Are they the ‘direct neighbours’?

Copyright Ordnance Survey. Click to enlarge

The more I think about this, the weirder it seems. We have a hippy asking for planning permission for a sports therapist to have a OPD complete with what reads like a mini abattoir. And we don’t know who owns the land on which the new buildings are to go.

Is someone using the near-certainly of planning permission being granted for an OPD to get consent for something that might otherwise be difficult to get past the planners and other authorities?

If so, then this is a dangerous development, and might signal that OPDs are now being used in a way that I’m sure was not intended by the buffoons who agreed to this idiocy back in the days of the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition.

ANOTHER STRANGE ONE

Someone has also directed me to a property being advertised by Rees Richards, a long-established firm of estate agents in Swansea and the surrounding area. The company was advertising a property with ‘Potential for ‘One Planet’ development (subject to planning)’.

Click to enlarge

As we know, planning is never a problem for OPDs, so we can take that for granted.

Of course, if someone wanted to repair and renovate the old house then they wouldn’t need planning permission for an OPD. But that house needs a lot of work, and it would cost a lot of money.

So I assume that the house and the outbuildings are not the big selling point.

Certainly, Cwm-Garenig is a bit off the beaten track, and there’s no mains electricity, so that might attract potential OPD dwellers. But it’s still only 19 acres, and the area round about has been mined for centuries.

I’d hate to switch on the Evening News to hear that, ‘Police and rescue teams are still searching for survivors after a yurt-full of tofu tasters disappeared today down the old Number 9 shaft . . . ‘.

Wouldn’t that just be too, too awful!

Cwm-Garenig marked on both maps

It seems to me that Rees Richards is selling 19 acres of land, some of it possibly unstable. Not only that, but we have a Swansea-based estate agency cottoning on to the possibility of bumping up the price of low value land by adding the magic letters ‘OPD’.

Clearly, this is no longer a rural thing, as you’ll learn from reading on.

If estate agents and others have latched on to the fact that OPDs are a sure-fire way of getting planning permission for dwellings in open country (and maybe not just open country), then who knows where it might lead?

It certainly leads us to Swansea.

BRIGHTON COMES TO GOWER

I introduced this scam scheme to you in Miscellany 06.06.2020, just scroll down to the section ‘Brighton Greens discover Gower’. It’s called the Furzehill Project. Here’s the link to the article from which the image below is taken.

The Brighton gang goes by the name of the Ecological Land Cooperative (ELC) and want two smallholdings on an 18 acre site it bought in December 2017. These smallholdings will be of 5.5 acres each because the rest of the land is already being used by the ELC’s local partner, Cae Tân CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

Though there are very few locals involved with Cae Tân and so it’s questionable how well it’s supported by the wider community.

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The leading light in Cae Tân would appear to be Anthony ‘Ant’ Flanagan, who has set up a string of companies, none of which seem able to survive without public largesse, and at least one of which has entered into a disastrous partnership.

It may be worth listing these companies, seeing where their money comes from, and checking on their fates. (CIC means Community Interest Company.)

I suspect that the inspiration for all these start-ups in June 2015 were the municipal energy companies in England, such as Bristol Energy. But Bristol Energy is docked in Shit Creek. The council is hoping to find a buyer.

Others are Robin Hood Energy in – where else? – Nottingham, which lost £23m last year; and Victory Energy in Portsmouth, which in May had its licence revoked by Ofgen.

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So why did Gower Power enter into a deal with Bristol Energy in January?

These council-owned energy companies end up costing council taxpayers a hell of a lot of money. We know that Swansea council has been very generous to Ant Flanagan, so how indebted are my fellow-Jacks as a result of this generosity?

Ant Flanagan and his playmates are responsible for the arrival in Wales of the Ecological Land Cooperative of Brighton, who want the smallholdings at Ilston.

A point I made about the planning application in the earlier piece was that letters of support for Furzehill were coming in from all over England but there were few letters from locals. Well that’s changed. And the locals haven’t held back in their criticisms.

If we click on the ‘Comments’ tab, then from local residents we read:

‘This is nothing more than a vanity project from a group of opportunists who are hell bent on claiming community grant subsidies and then feeding that funding through its various other side projects . . . ‘.

Another writes:

‘ . . . In the meantime small farmers trying to scratch a living from the earth are being displaced by larger cooperatives, being unable to compete with grant led, subsidised or community funded groups.’

A third says, referring to OPD legislation:

‘The Ecological Land Coop, an organisation based in South England, would not be likely to be investing money in land in Wales if this planning law applied equally to England.’

This writer continues:

‘As a former organic market gardener, serving people in and around Swansea by growing and selling through a veg box scheme between 1994 and 2018, I no longer even try to compete with these market rigging opportunists.’

While a another objector has this to say:

‘I object about this proposal on two grounds
That this a means of laundering and misappropriating WG and any LA grant funds, rather than a being of benefit for local produce growers/vendors, many of which are being put out of business because of the practices unscrupulous organisation.

There were other objections along similar lines. Arguing that these people are exploiting OPD legislation, they’re only here because of easy access to public funding, which then helps them under-cut genuinely local growers and companies. Some objectors make specific claims of dishonesty.

How the hell did we get to a situation where we are funding interlopers to put local people out of business?

Because . . .

Wales is a land of make-believe, especially when socialists are in charge, and image is more important than reality. Being seen to do the right thing has become more important than actually doing the right thing . . . and far, far easier.

Which is how we end up with One Planet Developments, and the mantra that Wales can show everyone how to save the planet. Idiocies that are welcomed in the Guardian, cheered by superannuated hippies in California, and will have Eco-capitalists from Sweden to Australia rubbing their hands with glee as they think about how many bird-slicing, flood-causing wind turbines they can erect on our hills . . .

The kind of headline the ‘Welsh Government’ loves to see. But does it provide any benefits for us Welsh? Not in this life! Click to enlarge

There are no material benefits for us Welsh from OPDs, and wind turbines, and saving the planet, yet we are lectured that it’s done for some greater good, and for generations to come. Intangible and unquantifiable benefits that may never materialise. But then, virtue signalling is so much easier than coming up with a serious economic strategy for Wales that might create business opportunities, careers and jobs.

When you think about it, the message being put out today by the ‘progressive’ parties in the Senedd is not a lot different to that preached in earlier times by clerics in the pay of landowners and industrialists. It runs, ‘There’s nothing for you in this life, but if you’re virtuous and obedient then your reward is in heaven’.

Those clergymen were serving someone else’s interests, not the interests of those to whom they preached. And it’s the same with the ‘Welsh Government’ today.

‘FARMLETS’

In the companies listed for ‘Ant’ Flanagan you may have noticed Killan Solar CIC, which converted in 2017 into Community Benefit Society Gower Regeneration Ltd.

Anthony Flanagan appears to be still in charge, but with other directors on board, prominent among them, Roy Kenneth Church. The Church family has for many years run the Gower Heritage Centre at Parkmill, which seems to be the base for most of the Flanagan Companies.

Roy Kenneth Church is also a director of Swansea Bay Community Energy Ltd, which has now been deregistered and for which documents are no longer available on the FCA website. Yet another ‘Energy’ company, and given the name, this one suggests ambition on the scale of the municipal failures we looked at earlier.

Though on the FCA document Church is also listed as a director of Swansea Bay Community Energy Two Ltd, for which I can find nothing. Did a ‘phoenix’ company rise from the ashes of Swansea Bay Community Energy Ltd?

Church is also one of the two directors of Tourism Swansea Bay Ltd which, despite the grand title, is a shoestring outfit based, again, in Parkmill. But at a different address to the Gower Heritage Centre.

Then there’s Gower Power Solar Ltd, where we find Church, Flanagan and John Christopher Whiten. The only documents filed, in October 2017, tell of a dormant company. Possibly linked with Gower Power Co-op CIC, where we find Flanagan and Whiten among the directors.

But back to Killan Solar CIC which metamorphosed into Gower Regeneration Ltd.

The name ‘Killan’ refers to a couple of farms which give their name to a road in Dunvant, on the western outskirts of Swansea. We need to focus on the land to the right of the land outlined in red on this plan of Killan-fach farm, Land Registry title number WA289902.

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The land we’re looking at is covered by title number WA289901.

There we find a solar complex owned by Gower Regeneration Ltd, with Roy Kenneth Church and Ant Flanagan as directors. The money to build the complex came in the form of three loans from Finance Wales Investments. All three loans remain outstanding.

So, in a sense, you and I own those solar panels because like most things we look at in this piece – they were paid for with public money that has yet to be repaid.

A request for pre-planning application guidance has been made to Swansea council for this land. Land that seems to be owned by Dunvant SBG Ltd. The only director of which is Roy Kenneth Church.

Dunvant SBG was formed in 2001 and the five outstanding charges go back almost as far. Roy Kenneth Church was a director from 24 December 2001 until 1 October 2009, and then rejoined in September 2019, probably following the death of his father.

Covered by Land Registry title number WA289901. Click to enlarge

The plan being hatched, it seems, is to build an ‘Eco village’ of 12 ‘farmlets’. Yes, ‘farmlets’. What a twee word, I wonder what idiot thought that up? I ask because even though the land seems to be owned by Roy Kenneth Church the pre-application submission came from Gerald Blain associates of Whitland.

‘Farmlets’ of 2 acres or less. Not much bigger than decent-sized allotments. What the hell is going on? (Here’s a link to the council website.)

Equally perplexing is why Church couldn’t find an architect in Swansea, which might have spared him a trip to Whitland. But wait! Whitland . . . now who do we know in that area? Why, Tao Wimbush’s postal address is Whitland. And having a background in architecture himself I’m sure he knows Gerald Blain and his mate Mark Sanders.

Gerald Blain Associates seems to be another shoestring outfit. The latest accounts at Companies House show total assets of £49. Confirmed by Company Check. Why would Church rush down west to hire this lot?

I say Church, but the applicant for these ‘farmlets’ is named as a Captain Steve Croaker. But I cannot find a Captain Steve Croaker. Who is he? Does he even exist?

UPDATE 01.07.2020: ‘Captain Croaker’ has been identified. He is Steven William Crocker of Cefn Gwlad Solutions Ltd, though I’m assured he has other strings to his bow. A Swansea man with strong links to Roy Kenneth Church and Parkmill.

What we have is an area on the edge of Swansea where development is not permitted because it would result in Dunvant, a part of the city, merging with the village of Three Crosses, viewed as Gower. But OPD promises a way around this problem.

Because anyone who could get planning permission for substantial properties sitting in an acre or more of land, with Gower on the doorstep, could rake it in.

Gerald Blain mentions OPD more than once in his submission. He makes a big play on how difficult it is for young people to get into farming. Which may be true, but this is not farming. You won’t see any of the old Gower families on these ‘farmlets’.

For they are intended for the friends of Tao Wimbush, and the land-grabbers from Brighton. Using OPD almost as blackmail – “If you don’t give us planning permission we’ll scream ‘OPD’ and our friends in Corruption Bay will give us what we want”.

The council clearly sees what’s behind this plan – expensive dwellings in the green belt with planning permission obtained by subterfuge. This extract from the council’s response to Gerald Blain makes that clear.

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It seems very unlikely that the council will look favourably on this project when it’s discussed at 2pm today (Monday). It may be possible to follow proceedings by installing this Microsoft app.

But what happens if the mysterious Cap’n Croaker appeals to the so-called ‘Welsh Government’? Will those clowns allow it?

CONCLUSION

The problems with OPD go beyond what I’ve listed here.

For example, a lady in Powys writes to me regularly with tales of a family that thinks OPD status gives them carte blanche to erect other buildings, to dump vehicles, etc. The parents and adult children who live on this OPD cause havoc on a narrow access track.

It seems they’re now looking for someone to sell what little they produce in the way of vegetables because they’re too busy themselves at the jobs that take them away every day from the ‘OPD’!

One Planet Developments should be self-sufficient agricultural smallholdings, not a little place in the country from which you commute to your job.

The supine behaviour of Powys County Council towards this OPD encourages others to behave in a similar fashion.

Taking the lead from OPDs in Powys. Ain’t it cute? Click to enlarge

As might be expected, Powys County Council’s refusal to act, and local AS’s and MP’s unwillingness to get involved, not only encourages mess like you see in the picture, it drives out decent residents and it deters investors.

I shall return to problems in Powys in more detail at a later date.

Information comes in from various sources about OPD problems in other areas.

For example, a reliable source who has provided information before writes:

‘What I can tell you briefly is that the most, if not all, of the plots at Tir y Gafel are no longer Lammas as such but are freehold properties that can be brought and sold without restrictions.

This is a game changer.’

This source also advises that the hub, central to the Lammas community, and built with funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change in London, has been abandoned because it is structurally unsound.

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Furthermore, it is now surrounded by freeholders unwilling to take responsibility for what was intended to be a shared, community building. Presumably it will now be allowed to fall down.

Another source directed to me to certain Facebook postings. Here’s one from David Thorpe of Cynefin Community Land Trust.

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What’s being promoted here is a new village, a new English village in Wales. And note how this new village will be tagged onto ‘an existing settlement’, just like the ‘farmlets’ in Dunvant. OPDs were not supposed to be new suburbs.

Thorpe is a patron of the One Planet Council . . . along with Jane Davidson.

Here’s another contribution from Thorpe.

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Andrew Slade? Does that name ring a bell? It should. Slade is one of the English civil servants who run the ‘Welsh Government’. He it was who took EU money off our farmers (Pillar 1) and transferred it to ‘Rural Development Projects’ (Pillar 2).

He’s worked with ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty, who’s rogering Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.

Together they’re all working to get Welsh farming families off their land – so they can be replaced by OPDs, and ‘rewilders’, and Mongolian yak herders . . . any bugger will do, just as long as they’re not Welsh.

This is naked racism. This is ethnic cleansing. Yet this is what One Planet Developments have become.

♦ end ♦




Miscellany 27.04.2020

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

Here’s something to keep you occupied in these long days of lockdown after you’ve finished mowing the lawn, walking the dog, and counting your bottles of Malbec.

This is another bumper issue, some 4,500 words, but it’s made up of a number of unrelated reports, so there’s no need to gorge; take your time and enjoy!

A PEOPLE THAT ISN’T TAUGHT ITS HISTORY . . .

I watched a documentary the other week about Arthur, Duke of Brittany, who may have had a stronger claim to the English throne than his Uncle, John, and his claim was even supported by John’s brother, Richard I, ‘Coeur de lion’. Having raised an army to challenge his uncle, young Arthur blew his opportunity, was captured and – if contemporary rumours are to be believed – came to a particularly gruesome end.

The killing was even covered in the Margam Abbey chronicles.

The programme established that John was a very nasty piece of work, possibly a psychopath. He also drank heavily and often flew into uncontrollable rages. It was best not to be around him when he’d ‘taken a drink’ (as great-aunt Fastidia might have phrased it).

My ears pricked up when one of the contributors to the programme, seeking to establish John’s credentials as an all-round murderous bastard, mentioned his killing of young Welsh hostages at Nottingham castle. This was something I’d never heard about, so obviously I checked. It was true.

At a low point in his glorious career Llywelyn Fawr was held in check by his father-in-law John by the surrender of some 28 young hostages, sons of Gwynedd’s leading families. When Llywelyn next flexed his muscles the boys were hung from the castle walls. Reported here in ‘Nottinghamshire History’.

“In order to keep the Welsh Prince Llewellyn in subjection, John, had taken as hostages 28 boys, ranging from 12 to 14 years of age, and kept them in his Castle at Nottingham. It is said the news came to the King while staying at his hunting palace at Clipstone that the Welsh Prince had again broken out in revolt. Hastily summoning his followers, he held a Council beneath the spreading branches of an oak tree (now known as Parliament Oak), when the execution of the hostages was decided upon. Then he swore ‘by the teeth of God’ that he would not eat again until he had wreaked his vengeance, and mounting his steed, he rode in all haste to Nottingham Castle, where he gave instructions for the execution of the hostages, as a preliminary to quelling the rising; and the shameful order was immediately carried out before his eyes, the boys being taken from their play—some screaming, others pleading in vain for mercy—and hanged on the Castle walls.”

Main gate of Nottingham Castle. Click to enlarge

Both the murder of Arthur of Brittany and the killing of the hostages are in some accounts attributed to William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber, who often served as John’s very willing torturer and executioner.

The title Bramber comes from the family’s castle in Sussex, but De Braose was more active in the March, as Sheriff of Hereford and Lord Abergavenny. And while John was reviled in the north west William made his enemies at the opposite corner of the country, due to the Massacre at Abergavenny Castle in 1175.

The facts are that Seisyll ap Dyfnwal, ‘Lord of Upper Gwent’, was invited to a Christmas feast at the castle, along with his eldest son, his followers and their attendants. Being invited guests, they followed custom and left their weapons outside. Once inside, the doors were locked and de Braose’s men attacked and killed their Welsh guests.

It is then rumoured that after the massacre de Braose rode to Seisyll’s home and killed his younger son Cadwaladr after snatching him from his mother’s arms.

De Braose’s behaviour is ‘excused’ by arguing that Seisyll ap Dyfnwal had killed de Braose’s uncle, Henry FitzMiles, so it was tit for tat. But attempting to wipe out the male lines of the leading Welsh families in the locality suggests de Braose was trying to expand his own land holdings.

In 1182 Hywel ap Iorwerth of Caerleon had Dingestow castle, near Chepstow, destroyed and Abergavenny castle burnt by Seisyll’s relatives. De Braose was not there but his men were taken captive.

After it was burnt again, this time by Glyndŵr’s forces in 1404, Abergavenny castle ceased to be used as a fortification and gradually fell into disrepair.

‘These were brutal times, they all behaved like that’, is what you’ll hear from defenders of the Union. But I don’t recall any incident in which our ancestors behaved with such barbarity, depravity and duplicity.

If they had, we’d have been taught it in school. You can be sure of that.

ONE PLANET DEVELOPMENTS REVISITED, AGAIN

Back in December – in an update – I mentioned that a Neil Moyse, who lives on a OPD at Tir y Gafel in Pembrokeshire, is applying to build another OPD at Llyn Adain Gwydd, near the village of Meidrim in west Carmarthenshire. The village to which I trace my direct paternal line.

To get the planning application details type W/39846 here.

In a nutshell, Moyse wants planners to believe that a family of four will be able to support themselves as gardeners on 1.63ha of land, even though a great part of the holding will remain uncultivated. Much of it, in fact, is water, accounting for the ‘Llyn’ element in the name.

But any property built in such an attractive location will be valuable, especially if it is imaginatively ‘extended’, perhaps in the manner of Bryn Llys, at Nebo. Which, I’m sure you’ll recall, transmogrified from a traditional Welsh farmhouse into a mansion betraying the aesthetic sensibilities we associate with Lottery winners, or in this case, a gang of fraudsters.

Bryn Llys before and after the ‘extension’. Click to enlarge

I’m not for one minute suggesting that Moyse is a crook like those at Bryn Llys, but neither am I persuaded that this is a simple One Planet Development. And if the Moyse family moves to Llyn Adain Gwydd what happens to their property in Pembrokeshire?

My understanding was that OPDs offer a chance for people to exchange the crass materialism of the modern world for lives attuned to the rhythms of nature, not for building property empires.

All of which would be reason to reject this application, but a little bird in the tree tells me that Moyse and his kin are pretty irresponsible to boot.

For I hear that during this period of lockdown the Moyse family travels almost every day from their Pembrokeshire property to their new lakeside estate near Meidrim. Is this ‘essential travel’? And now they’ve even pitched a tent!

My little bird also says . . .

“Black sheeting . . . ‘shines’ across valley and due to cutting down of many trees is much more open to view.  . . . people turned up today in massive camper van looking . . . to camp out . . . The wood behind Mr Moyse’s plot belongs to Woodlands.co.uk. This wood has camper vans sited in it that are there illegally.  People are coming and going and fire smoke can often be seen.  They have blocked the public footpath and even after representations from local council have not reopened.  These are friends of Mr Moyse . . .”

As I’ve explained many times before, OPD is just another tactic in the wider strategy of dispossessing us Welsh and replacing us with a new population. Because in 20+ years of devolution those cringing bastards down Corruption Bay have done nothing to benefit those who belong in this country.

And if you want an example of the ecological credentials claimed by these OPD land-grabbers, then I’ll let my little dicky bird finish its song with, “otters and geese that have been nesting and breeding for decades have not been near this year.” 

Visualise an unspoilt area of Welsh land, a sylvan gem. Would you rather see otters gambolling there or gangs of arrogant English hippies in camper vans and silly houses, incessantly burning wood while pontificating about saving the planet?

The greatest contribution these people can make to the Welsh countryside is to leave it.

GARY HAGGATY

Gary is a senior civil servant, but more importantly, the lover of Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment Energy and Rural affairs in the ‘Welsh Government’.

In the piece in which he debuted a few weeks back I mis-spelt his name as Haggarty. Sorry about that, Gary, but we all make mistakes.

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Anyway, I asked if anyone had information on Gary, so I could ‘pad out’ his biography, as it were. And I had a few responses, so here’s some more information that I put out recently. Here in pdf format.

I’m told he’s originally from Portsmouth, or thereabouts. He is said to have been a leading light in the Young Socialists, or its replacement, Young Labour.

How Gary came to Wales is unclear – did he attend university here? – but until some 10 or 12 years ago he was employed in in the ‘Welsh Government’s regional office in Llandrindod Wells, and he is believed to have lived in Abbey Cwm Hir.

‘Game Show Gary’ left his wife and child/children for another woman, a younger woman who was also a work colleague. Gary is said to be a great one for ‘helping’ young female colleagues. Very much a hands-on approach.

Once in Cardiff, as Head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Strategy, and administering the Glastir and Farming Connect programmes, he stated, more than once, that “Farmers in Wales are over supported and under taxed”. His hostility towards farmers was made clear in other ways.

And yet, despite his openly expressed hostility towards Welsh farmers he progressed within the ‘Welsh Government’s departments dealing with farming! In May 2016, Lesley Griffiths was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs. This would have brought her into direct connect with Gary Haggaty . . . and their contact soon became very direct.

When the affair between Griffiths and Haggaty became public knowledge last year he was assigned the post of Deputy Director, Community Safety Division within Welsh Government. And if you’re wondering what the Community Safety Division is, it’s an excuse for Wales not having power over policing. In the early days of devolution it was known as the Crime Reduction Unit.

Up until his transfer Haggaty was advising Lesley Griffiths on ways to make life difficult for Welsh farmers, done in order to make land available for hippies and rewilders, eco-zealots and zip wires. In other words, anybody but the Welsh.
Seeing as they’re still an ‘item’ he’s probably still advising her.

But forget the affair. The real cause for concern should be that a man like Gary Haggaty, with his blatant and regularly expressed hostility to Welsh farming, should ever have been in a position of influence within the ‘Welsh Government’.

But he was. And there are many other civil servants like him in Wales, who answer to London, dictate to the ‘Welsh Government’, and do serious damage to our country and our nation.

I’m sure there are people out there with more information on ‘Game Show Gary’ Haggaty, so just leave it in the usual tree-trunk.

AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE

We have 48 bodies in Wales ‘combating homelessness’. (Or did have in 2017, now it’s probably more.) You might think that with so many battalions in the field Wales is on its way to victory over homelessness, but that would be to misunderstand the strategy at work and the objective.

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There are CEOs pulling down £80,000+ a year and many other Labour Party cronies doing very nicely out of maintaining high levels of homelessness . . . so this is a ‘war’ that must not be won.

Among the major players in the homelessness racket is Llamau, which has appeared on this blog many times. Like so many third sector bodies in Wales Llamau seems to be run by female English disciples of Common Purpose, the liberal freemasonry, who specialise in screwing public money from thick-as-shit Labour politicians with no better ideas on how to use money.

Here’s a little tale about Llamau’s CEO which gives an idea of how things link up in Cardiff Bay, and the incestuous political culture that prevails in that cess-pit.

In the ongoing – unending? – leftist-third sector witch-hunt against Neil McEvoy, Frances Beecher was one of the complainants. (And was almost certainly encouraged to make her fatuous contribution by Deryn Consulting.)

So did Neil McEvoy turn up at the Llamau offices with a can of petrol in one hand, a lighter in the other, a wild look on his face as he sang the Arthur Brown classic, Fire? Er, no, but he had raised his voice at a public meeting! Oh, the bwute! The bwute!

But enough history. For I bring tidings of Llamau expanding.

There was an organisation called the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project (SYSHP) which did good work in the ugly lovely town for almost thirty years, but on 1 October 2019 it merged with Llamau. Or rather, Llamau took it over 3 October 2018, when the SYSHP trustees/company directors were given the heave-ho and replaced with Llamau appointees.

Among the replacements was lawyer Thomas Graham Breed who – on 23 January this year – became a director of Capital Law in Cardiff. (Belated congratulations, Graham.) This is one of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’s favoured legal firms. A great deal of Welsh public money goes to Capital Law.

It was obviously a hostile takeover and you have to wonder why SYSHP succumbed to it so meekly. Were they told it was a fait accompli, and given the choice between takeover and collapse?

It being a done deal might explain why the Supporting People Grants (the mainstay of SYSHP funding), administered by the ‘Welsh Government’, fell from £832,938 in y/e 31.03.2018 to £644,215 in y/e 31.03.2019.

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While other funders, including the Lottery, thought SYSHP was a good enough bet to increase their funding.

It’s very odd, because with such well-connected and influential new hands on deck you would expect ‘Welsh Government’ funding to have increased . . . unless, as I suggest, it was an engineered failure to facilitate complete takeover.

According to the latest available accounts for SYSHP as a condition of the takeover “. . . the charity (SYSHP) will meet all of its liabilities and then transfer over the remaining assets to Llamau at their fair value . . .”. but Llamau now owns the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project, and its assets.

I can only assume that all outstanding debts and charges are to be paid out of the remaining SYSHP funds and whatever is left transfers to Llamau. Including the prime assets of 51 & 52 Walter Road in central Swansea.

What we see here is another example of an organisation using its influence in Cardiff Bay to promote itself in other parts of Wales at the expense of rivals who do not have the ear of our wise and incorruptible tribunes, and do not socialise with the civil servants who manipulate said tribunes.

This phenomenon – the norm in third world countries – explains so many things. For example, it tells us how Wales & West Housing has become our only truly all-Wales housing association.

Another manifestation of this phenomenon, one I note as I travel around, is that Cardiff estate agents get business all over Wales. It’s so sad that there are no estate agents in other parts of the country.

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Yes, devolution’s been good for some in Cardiff. As long as you’ve got the connections.

DAWNUS 3B

Around this time last year I did a few pieces on the collapse of Dawnus, a Swansea-based construction and civil engineering company. These were Dawnus, Dawnus 2, Dawnus 3 and (scroll down to) Dawnus 3A.

Dawnus did a great deal of work in West Africa, and it was suggested that Ebola in that region went some way to deciding Dawnus’s fate. For the company’s decline was said to have begun with the Ebola outbreak in January 2014.

Not long after Ebola hit we saw the arrival on the scene of Nicholas Charles Down, whose Linkedin profile suggested he’d worked mainly outside the UK. Though it’s difficult to figure out if he’d been brought in to try to save Dawnus or to administer the last rites.

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Whichever it was, once he took over the Dawnus group it was downhill from there on. Here’s a list of the Dawnus companies with which Down was involved. You’ll see that they’re all in administration or liquidation except Medrus Plant Hire (Swansea) LLP. Though Companies House makes clear that Medrus went the way of the others.

And now it appears that Down is neither the director of any company nor is he involved with a Limited Liability Partnership. So where did he go?

The reason I got interested in the Dawnus story was that I received a number of reports saying that the most valuable machinery was shipped to West Africa towards the end of 2018, when the shit was visibly heading – if in slow motion – towards the fan.

The photographs below that were sent to me purport to show the heavy stuff en route to the docks for shipment to West Africa.

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But even before then, much of the good stuff was already in Liberia and Sierra Leone. As this charge of 27 March 2018 against Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd makes clear. Just scroll down and see how much plant and machinery was in Africa.

Two companies emerged from the catastrophe. The first was Dawnus International Group Ltd, formed 22 March 2019, which shook off the ‘Dawnus’ tag by becoming DIG International Group Ltd less than a week later. The second was DIG Civil Engineering Ltd, formed 9 April 2019, but still a non-trading company according to Companies House.

The two companies shared an address in Clydach before moving last month to Stradey Business Centre in Llangennech, Llanelli. Which is interesting, because this gives me the opportunity to introduce another player in the form of Hydro Industries, also based at Stradey Business Centre.

You’ll have to go back to last year’s articles to get the full import, but to cut a long story short, there has always been military and defence industry involvement in the margins of this saga. French defence giant Thales being one of the players. For a time Thales had a presence on the same Llanelli estate where we find the DIG companies, and Hydro Industries.

The thing about Hydro that I found remarkable was who got involved with this rather obscure little company in Sosban last year. Though it might be relevant that among the original Hydro directors is arch BritNat and former chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, David Pickering.

In June 2018 Guto Harri joined the board of Hydro. That’s Guto Harri who regularly appears on Newsnight, the former BBC journalist and communications director for Boris Johnson when BoJo was mayor of London.

Harri was soon joined by Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de’Lisle, who is course French, and the wife of Admiral Insurance founder Henry Englehardt. Then came Henrietta Baldock of Bank of America and Legal and General Assurance. With Robert Brooks as secretary. ‘Who him?’ I’m not sure, but I guarantee he don’t live round by ‘ere.

There’s no doubt in my mind of UK government involvement in the demise of Dawnus. Our masters in London might not have caused the Dawnus collapse but they took advantage because Dawnus was involved in a strategically important region.

Hydro Industries’ reward for whatever part it played in the Dawnus saga was a major contract in Saudi Arabia, that murderous theocracy that helps to keep the British arms industry afloat. A few days later a £150m contract in Egypt was unveiled.

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I suggest that the involvement of the UK government explains why the ‘Welsh Government’ offered Dawnus no real help – the pretend politicos down Cardiff docks were warned off.

Around the same time Hydro ‘won’ the Saudi and Egyptian contracts its business address moved from Llangennech to Berkeley Square in West London. (That’s Berkeley Square of nightingale fame.) Quite a move for a company started by a bunch of Turks.

So who now owns Hydro Industries?

Come to that, who now owns the machinery in West Africa? Was it shipped home to pay off creditors? I doubt it very much. Those shipments of machinery from Wales to West Africa in late 2018 were made to keep assets away from liquidators and creditors. That machinery and equipment is there now winning hearts and minds, and combating the spread of Chinese influence.

The irony is that Hydro Industries, and to a lesser extent Dawnus, provide clean drinking water to those who realise the importance and value of this essential commodity. While here in Wales, the whining invertebrates calling themselves the ‘Welsh Government’ are quite happy to give away our water!

UPDATE: I’ve been sent something that links with both Dawnus and the point I made in the earlier section about Cardiff estate agents getting the work all over Wales. This is the old Dawnus depot in Clydach, up for sale on Prime Location, with details available from Alder King of Cardiff, which has its HQ in Bristol.

OH GOODY! ANOTHER WIND FARM

A few years back there was an attempt to plant yet more wind turbines near the A44 as it snakes its way up from Aberystwyth to meet the A470 at Llangurig. The project was imaginatively named Mynydd y Gwynt.

Those behind it seem to be a family of local landowners who’d already diversified in a number of ways. To promote its scheme the clan had linked with Isle of Man-based company Renewable Energy Holdings Plc.

The scheme was knocked back and finally rejected by the Court of Appeal in London in March 2018. And while the IoM outfit went bust in March 2016 the local element of the doomed consortium, Mynydd y Gwynt Ltd, is still in business. Though in April 2016 it moved its correspondence address from Ffynnon Wen, Capel Bangor to c/o Haines Watts, 7 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff.

Now there’s another wind farm scheme, this one called Lluest y Gwynt. The company Lluest y Gwynt Wind Farm Ltd was formed in June 2018 . . . just months after the Court of Appeal hammered the final nail in the Mynydd y Gwynt coffin.

So is Lluest y Gwynt just Mynydd y Gwynt under a slightly changed name, and at a site very close by?

The image at the top comes from the Cambrian Mountains Society and the image below from the Planning Inspectorate, prepared by Dulas. Click to enlarge

Behind Lluest y Gwynt we find Statkraft, “Europe’s largest developer of renewable energy”, a company wholly owned by the Norwegian government. In partnership with Statkraft is Eco2 of Cardiff. Eco2 chairman is Peter Darwell, said to be worth a bob or two.

There have been a few dozen Eco2 companies over the past twenty years but the most recent additions to the stable have been, Eco2 LYG Limited, Incorporated 24 May 2018. And Eco2 Dulais Limited (27 November 2019). Darwell is the major shareholder in both, with a line-up of shared directors.

The documents received by the Planning Inspectorate for Lluest y Gwynt can be viewed from this link.

Statkraft, like all investors hoping to exploit poorer countries, seeks out those with access to the local ‘chiefs’. So it has linked with Cardiff-based Eco2 to gain access to local politicians and decision makers.

I’m sure that Statkraft is hoping Eco2 CEO Dr David Williams will be able to help. For having served as chairman of the ‘Welsh Government’s Energy and Environmental Sector Panel from January 2011 to August 2018 he must know a few movers and shakers down Corruption Bay.

There’s nothing new in this. When I wrote Corruption in the wind? in November 2018 I recounted the amusing tale of a mystery woman frantically lobbying in April 2017 on behalf of those behind some Powys wind farms. (Scroll down to section headed ‘Mystery woman’)

That woman was Anna McMorrin, live-in lover of Alun Davies AM, who became the MP for Cardiff North in the June 2018 election. McMorrin wasn’t employed by the investors behind Hendy and Bryn Blaen wind farms because she knew owt about wind turbines, she was employed solely because she knew people down Cardiff docks who could make the decisions the investors wanted.

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And it’s the same with Statkraft and Eco2.

Lobbying down Corruption Bay isn’t restricted to Deryn Consulting and other lobbying firms, for Labour insiders also feather their nests from knowing who to schmooze. And Labour Party insiders doing so well from this system explains why there is no register of lobbyists down the Bay.

Will Lluest y Gwynt succeed where Mynydd y Gwynt failed? Perhaps. But why should we cover more of Wales with ugly and inefficient wind turbines to kill red kites and other birds while increasing the risk of flooding, and all done to enrich a company owned by the government of one of the richest countries on Earth?

Finally, it’s worth remembering that Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, will have a big say in whether or not to allow Lluest y Gwynt wind farm, So who do you think Statkraft and Eco2 should have a quiet word with; you know, someone who might be able to influence her?

Watch this space.

‘SEASONAL PROPERTIES’, AN UPDATE

In the previous post I reported on a minor act of vandalism in Pwllheli and the bizarre response of North Wales Police.

Someone painted ‘Go home’ on a number of holiday flats near the marina and GogPlod responded by waxing lyrical about key workers staying in these properties, even pleading, ‘How would you like it . . . ?’ – even though no one was staying in them! I described this contribution from the local gendarmerie as ‘bollocks’, even questioning whether it had originated with the police.

Though I was certainly enchanted by the new term, ‘seasonal properties’.

But the police were right, key workers have been staying in these flats . . . key workers from Birmingham, on holiday. What’s more, they’ve threatened to beat up the local councillor who reported them!

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I couldn’t make this up!

I’m beginning to suspect that when it comes to holiday homes or ‘seasonal properties’ the police would rather not be bothered. Yes, they’ll do some patrolling on main roads for the benefit of the cameras but confronting some selfish bastards sitting it out in their or someone else’s holiday home is just too much trouble.

AND, FINALLY . . . 

There are those who say, “Oh there’s nothing wrong with devolution, it’s the fault of the Labour Party. Get rid of them and everything will be fine”. Having given this view the consideration it deserves (about 0.3 seconds) my response is – bollocks!

Wales is now so hopelessly corrupted, its political class, public officials and burdensome third sector motivated either by serving themselves or else serving England – often both – that nothing short of very radical change can improve things for the great majority of our people.

Consequently, any intellectual under-achiever who suggests that things would be better with a Plaid Cymru management team in Cardiff Bay, or a Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition, should receive either a pitying pat on the head or a kick up the arse. (Perhaps depending on whether you’ve ‘taken a drink’.)

If next year’s Assembly elections go ahead we must ensure there are not enough AMs from Labour and Plaid Cymru to form a coalition. That must be the starting point for the change Wales needs.

♦ end ♦




Wales and Coronavirus 2

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 know I often start with an apology (I have a lot to apologise for), and this time is no exception. I’d toyed with the idea of writing about other subjects, but there really isn’t much point.

So I’m offering a second helping of Wales and Coronavirus, with perhaps an entertaining digression or twa.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING TESTING KITS

Politicians have been under the spotlight in this crisis, which will return to haunt some of them. For many politicos are being exposed as liars, others as incompetents, while the worst of them are both, and more.

Let’s take the case of the testing kits that the ‘Welsh Government’ insists it ordered from Roche, an order that it’s alleged was cancelled by the Swiss pharma giant when the UK government got involved and put in a bigger order.

A few things strike me as odd about this incident. First, the ‘Welsh Government’ has produced no evidence of an order being placed, let alone accepted. Second, after an initial flurry of outrage London’s local management team seems to have fallen into line, leaving Drakewell looking increasingly like a compliant ‘regional leader’ in a totalitarian state.

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But let’s be generous, and assume that even if the order wasn’t actually placed, that negotiations were at least underway. That being so, was Whitehall tipped off about the ‘Welsh Government’ – for once! – looking up to the job, even upstaging BoJo’s gang?

This might explain why the deal between the ‘Welsh Government’ and Roche fell through. But if so, who tipped off Whitehall?

My money would be on civil servants, more specifically, senior civil servants of the type appointed by London and answering to their masters in the Great Wen. And when they’re not carrying clecks they’re implementing orders from London, often dressed up as ‘Welsh legislation’.

But even before the Roche incident, we now know that an offer was made in early March to carry out testing, but the offer has been ignored, according to Professor Andrew Godkin of the School of Medicine in Cardiff.

The BBC reported:

‘Prof Godkin, who leads the School of Medicine, said Wales has significant laboratory capacity to help ramp up the numbers of Covid-19 tests.

“It’s been deeply frustrating. We flagged up what was available about three weeks ago,” he said.

“We certainly have the capacity here and in Cardiff University to really offer… a considerable number of tests.”‘

Why hasn’t this offer, from an institution within miles of Corruption Bay, been taken up?

Whatever the truth about the testing kits from Roche, the ‘Welsh Government’ has clearly surrendered control to Downing Street. With the result that when it comes to testing kits, personal protection equipment (PPE), Wales will get whatever London decides.

And so, here we are, a month or more into this crisis, and front line staff in our health service are still waiting for tests and PPE. The conclusion I draw is that the ‘Welsh Government’ has chosen not to act contrary to London diktats, even when to do so would be best for Wales.

Which makes devolution rather pointless.

Though of course, it could all be a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick. For ‘Welsh’ Labour likes nothing more than to blame somebody else for anything that goes wrong. By surrendering control over the fight against coronavirus to London Cardiff Bay might be seen as getting itself off the hook.

ANOTHER WEEKEND INFLUX

While it wasn’t as bad as the previous weekend there was still a sizeable influx of selfish idiots who just don’t care about risking other people’s lives. Liz Saville Roberts MP even reported that second home owners were sharing information on how to avoid police checks, like it was some game.

As that tweet from LSR suggests, the police seem to have been more proactive this weekend, stopping people and asking them where they were going, and why.

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The evidence popped up regularly on Twitter, with reports of vehicles also being stopped on Dyfi Bridge at Machynlleth (a boundary between GogPlod and Dyfed Powys), and also around Bala.

But this tweet put out on Friday evening by a councillor on Ynys Môn would suggest that nothing was being done on the bridges linking the island with the mainland.

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Perhaps his cri de coeur was answered, for the following day police were out, but getting in their way was the new MP for the island, Virginia Crosbie. For as we know, Tory politicians can’t resist a photo opp with police. (Though of course there are 20,000 fewer cops since 2010.)

Though you have admire her brass neck. To begin with, Conservatives love holiday homes, most Tory MPs have at least one. And I guarantee that Crosbie garnered quite a few votes from holiday home-owning families that live in safe Tory seats, and could afford to vote from their holiday homes in a marginal constituency like Ynys Môn.

Though the ultimate hypocrisy was her claim that it’s all being done to help the NHS. The health service would be coping a hell of a lot better with this pandemic if her party had put more money in over recent years.

If those clowns in London she regards as the government could just arrange for front-line health staff to be tested, and to have PPE, she’d look less like a politician exploiting global misery to promote herself.

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Though maybe I’m being a bit harsh, for we mustn’t use coronavirus to score political points, must we? Though if that’s the case, then someone should have told ‘Barry’ Lee Waters, Sosban’s AM.

Plaid Cymru put out a statement over the weekend urging people to stay at home, and when it was retweeted by ITV Wales’ Welsh political editor, Adrian Masters, Waters jumped in with both feet to infer that Plaid was being anti-English.

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Obviously the boy hadn’t read the full statement that Adrian Masters had so helpfully retweeted. (Quelle twat! as we used to say in Swansea.) Though Barry’s contribution reminds us of another political party that has problems with holiday homes. His own.

Which is strange, for we should expect any socialist or social democratic party to be opposed to holiday homes on a number of grounds, but not ‘Welsh’ Labour, which has tied itself up in all sorts of knots.

Lee Waters often gets confused over health matters. Here’s a pic from a couple of years ago, showing him with the Llanelli MP, Nia Griffith, protesting against hospital closures introduced by their own ‘Welsh Labour Government’ in Cardiff. No wonder they both look so sheepish. Click to enlarge

Mainly because from a ‘Welsh’ Labour perspective holiday homes is a ‘nashie’ issue, the kind of thing that people like me are supposed to get vexed about. Which is true, up to a point, I suppose, but it’s hardly an obsession with me, as you’ll realise from searching this blog.

But because that’s how Labour in Wales frames it, doing anything to discourage the growth in the number of holiday homes is seen as a concession to political opponents.

The collateral damage of hard-working local people priced out of the property market, and the destruction of Welsh communities and even Welsh identity, is acceptable because by and large the areas worst affected don’t vote Labour.

Which in practical terms, results in ‘Welsh’ Labour being as indulgent towards holiday homes as the Conservative and Unionist Party.

While Plaid Cymru’s request was for no one to travel unnecessarily, Visit Wales still has trouble telling tourists and holiday home owners to stay out, as this tweet put out on Saturday makes clear. They can’t quite bring themselves to say, ‘Don’t travel INTO Wales’.

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We’ve had two weekends of ignored lockdown and now we face Easter weekend, for which I’m sure the police are preparing. Though I would suggest that rather than random checks all over the country, or responding to tweets such as that from Councillor Carwyn Jones, checks on the border would be more effective.

Wales is a small country with a limited number of decent, cross-border roads, maybe a dozen in all. You’ll see that I’ve made three additions to the motorway and trunk road map reproduced below. All three cross the border into Powys, with the A44 being the only road into Aberystwyth from the east, the A489 links with the A470 heading north towards Snowdonia, and the A438 runs down to the Beacons.

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Just having a police presence from Friday morning on these roads where they cross the border would have an effect. Pulling over motor homes and towed caravans would obviously make sense, as would stopping anyone who looks a bit ‘touristy’.

And if such a tactic proves successful then we could make it permanent!

PROFITEERING

We’ve all heard reports of coronavirus being used to bump up prices by shysters like Mike Ashley of Sports Direct, but it’s not just the usual suspects, as I found out last week.

I was looking for a new scanner/printer and after deciding on the model I wanted I went online to compare prices. To my surprise – as I’ve never bought from them before – John Lewis Partnership offered the best deal. So I ordered my machine, an Epson ET-7750 at £549.

I then had an e-mail telling me that the order was being processed. Before, bizarrely, receiving another e-mail saying that my contact details had been changed. Not by me they hadn’t! This was followed by, ‘We are unable to process your order’, and then a cancellation.

Read by numbers. Click to enlarge

Curious, I went to the John Lewis website. The machine I’d ordered was still there of course – but the asking price had gone up by £50 since I’d placed my order!

Obviously I had to find another supplier. I went to one I’d never heard of before, Box.

I paid just over £10 more than I’d originally paid John Lewis, but at least there was no nonsense about ‘changed details’, and it even arrived on Saturday, not on Monday as I’d expected.

But being the curious bugger I am, after placing my order I went back to the Box website – and saw that the price had increased by £30 in less than 24 hours!

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It seems obvious to me that with so many stores closed online retailers feel they can charge whatever they like. So if you’re shopping online – be careful!

‘ALL PULLING TOGETHER’

In a number of ways it seems that the UK government is using the coronavirus crisis to override devolved administrations and possibly undermine devolution. How far this will go remains to be seen.

For coronavirus is now up there with World War II, the monarchy, World Cup 1966, the Falklands, the death of Diana, Only Fools and Horses, and the 2012 Olympics, as a ‘shared experience’. Something that we are expected to believe transcends national and regional differences, and makes distinctions of class, religion and of course, politics irrelevant.

Coronavirus will be milked for all it’s worth, and of course it explains why Her Maj made an address to the Commonwealth on Sunday. (You missed it!)

The problem is of course, that we aren’t ‘all in it together’.

Let us visualise a member of the Cheshire Set, with private health care, and let’s call him Dominic. Let’s further assume that he drives down in his Merc to spend a weekend in his holiday home, and while in Wales he infects old Mrs Roberts with Covid-19 then fucks off back to his big house in Wilmslow before Mrs Roberts dies.

Yeah, I suppose that could be a shared experience; cos Dom must have had coronavirus for him to infect Mrs Roberts. Stands to reason.

And just as Hitler had Versailles, those arseholes in London feel they too must have someone to blame, or a distraction. But with so much Chinese money sloshing about in London they can’t imitate their orange friend in Washington and call it the ‘Chinese Virus’ . . . so they pick on footballers!

Matt Hancock, the uninspiring Health Secretary in the UK government, has demanded that footballers give up a chunk of their earnings in the fight against coronavirus. Specifically, for hospices.

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Perhaps a case could be made for paying these players less because football, like all other sports, has been suspended until the crisis has passed. But if the issue is money, then a few hundred footballers taking a pay cut isn’t going to make much difference. And how would the money be collected? Or even assessed? If their clubs pay them less is Hancock planning to ask Liverpool and Manchester City and Arsenal for whatever they’re not paying Salah, de Bruyne, Lacazette and the rest?

But if money is the issue, then a hell of a lot more could be raised from the Tories’ tax-avoiding friends, with their tax haven companies, as Gary Lineker has suggested. (There’s no, ‘if they possibly can’ about it, Gary. They definitely can!)

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Staying with the beautiful game, why am I and millions of others still having to pay Sky, BT, Premier Sports and Amazon Prime for football that’s not being played? Will Hancock talk to Rupert Murdoch and others to get our subscriptions suspended until football resumes? Will he hell!

But it’s not a question of money. No amount of money collected now can make much difference in the fight against coronavirus. The problems in the NHS are structural and of long standing. The money should have been invested years ago, over the last few decades in fact.

Which makes having a pop at footballers a cheap publicity stunt from a cheap politician.

Another ‘national treasure’ recruited in the fight against coronavirus and for British unity is Florence Nightingale. The new emergency hospitals in England have been named after her, and of course the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, home to the Welsh Rugby Union, has followed NHS England’s lead.

But in Glasgow the emergency hospital was named after Louisa Jordan, a WW1 nurse from Maryhill, who died working in Serbia. She is still fondly remembered by the Serbs. (Serbia suffered more casualties per capita than any other country.)

This decision has outraged those who wear Union Jack underpants beneath their kilts and support a certain football club. One such was former Labour MP Douglas Alexander, who detected ‘small-minded nationalism’ at work.

To believe Douglas Alexander, naming a hospital in Glasgow after a woman from that city who lost her life helping others is wrong, but to name it after a woman who did a great job of self-promotion in one of Britain’s countless 19th century colonialist adventures, but who has no connections with Scotland, is the right thing to do.

Here, as with Barry Lee Waters, we see the BritNat mind at work. Scottish or Welsh nationalism (bad) is detected in the most harmless gesture, but it would be blind to British nationalism (good) if London sent in the tanks and started arresting people.

WHAT NEXT?

Coronavirus is having strange effects. In this posting I’ve found myself defending Plaid Cymru and agreeing with Gary Lineker.

Regular readers will know that I am no friend to Plaid Cymru; but what is not so well known is that I was no fan of Lineker the footballer, I think he ruins Match of the Day with the faux mateyness, and I detest even more his liberal pontificating on social media.

But there you go, these are not normal times. And the worst is yet to come, in terms of deaths, and in disruption to what were our everyday lives.

Political leadership in both London and Cardiff has failed us. The economy is already severely damaged, house prices will collapse, savings and investments will suffer, and by this time next year our lives could be framed by very different political and economic paradigms.

There is no going back to things as they were pre Covid-19. That system has been found wanting. Once the worst of coronavirus is behind us Wales must have a fresh start. And that can only mean independence.

♦ end ♦

 

 

 

Miscellany 02.03.2020

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

I know I promised a piece on Wales & West Housing, but I’ve put that on the back burner because something has cropped up. And anyway, W&W is not going away. (Unfortunately.) So that will be my next post.

PLAID CYMRU KEEPS ON DIGGING

The previous post on this blog, Plaid Cymru’s new girl, was about Sonia Klein who, just a few months ago, was trying to be the Labour candidate for Ilford South in December’s general election. So she and her husband must have surprised many people with their decision to join Plaid Cymru.

Inevitably, Ms Klein was welcomed into Plaid Cymru by Leanne Wood.

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I say, ‘inevitably’, because Ms Klein ticks so many boxes for Plaid Cymru. She is a ‘strong woman’, she is BAME, and she is also a socialist.

Just a few days later it leaked out that Plaid Cymru had re-admitted Sahar Al-Faifi, who had also been welcomed into the Party by Leanne Wood. Ms Al-Faifi ticks the same boxes as Ms Klein.

There had been an outcry to Al-Faifi’s remarks about a number of incidents, including the London Bridge attacks, which led to Plaid Cymru – reluctantly – suspending her last November. But her suspension was brief, and she has been re-admitted and is hoping to stand for the Assembly.

Now members of the Jewish community have urged Plaid Cymru to rethink its position on Sahar Al-Faifi, but Plaid has responded by adopting the, ‘It was all a long time ago’ defence. Which is not going to work.

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Plaid Cymru is in this mess of its own making because despite Adam Price’s victory in the 2018 leadership contest, a contest in which Leanne Wood came a dismal third, it is still Wood’s supporters calling the shots in the party. So keep looking to the skies for more parachutists.

A number of long-time Plaid Cymru members who thought they were the agreed regional candidate for the 2021 election might be in for a nasty shock. Those who aren’t outed as fascist transphobes and closet Trump fans might be displaced by bearded ‘Olga’, formerly of the Bulgarian Workers and Peasants Alliance.

A very strong woman!

BRYN LLYS BACH

I’ve written a few times about the criminal gang who’ve taken over this site at Nebo, near Caernarfon.

Anyone wanting to catch up should go to this post from November, 2018, and the section ‘Rockin’ to the right’. Then, on to this post from January last year and scroll down to the section headed ‘Shane Baker “the bargain basement Baldrick of Nebo” and Jonathan Duggan’.

That was followed by this post in July, scroll down to the section ‘Planners’. Next, this post from August, under ‘Gwynedd Planners’. The gang also gets a mention here, in December, in ‘Bryn Llys’. Finally here, last month, also under ‘Bryn Llys’.

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Not satisfied with exceeding planning permission to build an ‘extension’ that soon dwarfed the old house (which was then demolished), or with destroying trees and hedgerows, while continually threatening neighbours and trying to steal land, the gang has now gone a step further with arson and wasting police and fire brigade time.

Last Tuesday someone set an old Land Rover afire at Bryn Llys. It is reported that one of the gang, posing as a ‘passer-by’, phoned the fire service. A large machine was sent which could not negotiate the narrow track to Bryn Llys.

Which was the whole point of this act of arson, done in the hope of establishing that the access to Bryn Llys should be widened. Which would allow the crooks there to use large vehicles to bring in machinery and materials so they can move on to their plans for the rest of the site.

(I’m told that the chief fire officer from Caernarfon inspected the site some two years ago and stated that a ‘narrow access vehicle’ would attend any emergency at Bryn Llys. Maybe the word hadn’t been passed down the chain of command.)

The fire re-started on Wednesday and two fire engines and a police car attended.

I have been sent some images which are available below.

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Following these incidents a concerned local wrote to Plaid Cymru-controlled Gwynedd County Council, which has been reluctant to get involved throughout this sorry saga.

The council’s response said:

‘Thank you for your emails of the 25 and 26 February 2020 in respect of the above.

I acknowledge your concerns regarding vehicle fires at this site and note that these matters are being dealt with by the Fire Service as well as the Police.

Furthermore,  I would advise that the issue of illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales.

From the Council’s perspective, we have taken formal planning enforcement action with the service of enforcement notices for the various breaches of planning control at this site.  The Enforcement Notices relate to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, the temporary residential building and the unauthorised engineering works to create a track at the property.

The Council is currently undertaking prosecution proceedings for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the subdivision of Bryn Llys, with the trial set for the 10 and 11 March 2020 in the Magistrates’ Courts, Llandudno. Furthermore, we are also considering further possible enforcement action for a breach of the Enforcement Notice relating to the temporary residential building.

With regards to the Enforcement Notice for the unauthorised access track works, an appeal against this notice has recently been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (Welsh Government). There is a prescribed procedure for planning enforcement appeals, which includes public consultation and there will therefore be an opportunity for you and any other interested parties to provide representations as part of this process which will commence shortly.

From the Council’s perspective, I consider that we are taking the appropriate enforcement action in accordance with what the legislation allows us to do in respect of breaches of planning control.’

I’m not sure what to make of this. I suppose it’s reassuring to know that these crooks will be in court in a week or so, but there’s no mention of action for exceeding planning permission with the monstrosity that’s been built, nor for demolishing the old house.

Also reassuring, I suppose, to read that the police are involved regarding the fire, but then we read, ” . . . illegal disposal is essentially a matter for Natural Resources Wales”. 

‘Illegal disposal’, be buggered! This was a calculated act of arson that could have had serious consequences. It certainly resulted in the police and the fire service having to attend – twice! – when I’m sure there were other things they could have been doing.

And now we learn that the Planning Inspectorate is involved. A body that almost always works against Welsh interests (hand-in-glove with a complaisant ‘Welsh Government’). Whether it’s demanding new houses in Wrecsam for Cheshire commuters, or overruling Swansea council to allow more HMOs.

Given the record of the Planning Inspectorate in Wales, we can assume that it will side with the English criminals at Bryn Llys.

So who exactly are they?

Ensconced at or near Bryn Llys we find Jonathan James Duggan, Shane Baker and Aaron Hill. Duggan’s father is a ‘professional fraudster’ who was jailed for six years in July, 2006. He’s back in prison after being tracked down on Ynys Môn a while back. Bryn Llys was raided around the same time.

Baker is said to be related to Duggan, and it was him who got me interested in Bryn Llys by responding to a tweet of mine. When Baker’s not fooling himself about his musical abilities he’s mumbling ‘rhubarb, rhubarb’ in crowd scenes.

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Politically, as the Twitter image suggests, Baker’s very much a BritNat, and a Tommy Robinson fan, who may regard Wales as a colony to be exploited by the insular branch of the herrenvolk.

It’s difficult to know where and how Aaron Hill fits, but he certainly made no effort to fit in with the locals when he lived in Caernarfon. Hill’s a property developer, a species far too prevalent in Wales.

What a trio. The fraudster son of a professional fraudster, a Little Englander, and a property developer with a persecution complex. Though there’s one other gang member worth mentioning.

Andrew Battye owns Bryn Llys, and the land adjoining. Or rather, that’s what it says on the Land Registry title documents I’ve just linked to. And it’s what I used to believe, but I’m no longer so sure.

Refer back to the 2006 conviction of Duggan senior and we see that he owed at least £547,000, gained by fraud. This is the Duggan family business model.

Because if we look at the Companies House records for Battye and Duggan in recent years we see the same pattern. (Available here in pdf format with working links to Companies House entries.)

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From what I can see, Duggan and Battye, either acting together or working alone, formed double glazing companies, these companies set up credit accounts with suppliers; goods were received, not paid for, and sold; then the companies folded.

However we got here, this farce has been allowed to run for long enough. Let’s hope the curtain starts coming down in Llandudno magistrates court next week. And then it would be nice to see GogPlod take it beyond planning matters to feel a few collars for fraud, arson, wasting police and fire service time, threatening neighbours, damaging hedgerows, felling mature trees, etc.

Things have got this far due to the inaction over recent years of the local planning department. The planning department that said a teacher couldn’t build a home when she couldn’t afford to buy in Wilmslow-sur-Mer (Abersoch). The planning department that has allowed criminals from England to do whatever they liked at Bryn Llys. That this planning department has moved at all is due to pressure from bullied neighbours demanding action.

‘WOODMAN, SPARE THAT TREE!’

The recent floods have inevitably been attributed to global warming or climate change by most of the mainstream media and all the bien pensants of the left. Being the heretic I am on such matters I dared posit an alternative view.

Which runs thus . . . yes, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past few weeks but might wind turbines be contributing to the serious flooding in places that have previously been less badly affected?

Two areas in particular brought these thoughts to mind, our Valleys and the areas in England close to the River Severn.

Because – and you can call me old-fashioned, or even uninformed – I’m suggesting that we cannot fell millions of trees on our hills, wreck absorbent peat bogs, then, in their place, plonk dozens or hundreds of wind turbines, and not expect more rainwater to run into the rivers below those hills.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, the picture below shows the size of the concrete bowl required by a single wind turbine. These are the pictures you’re not supposed to see. You, Dai Public, are expected to feel a warm, planet-saving glow from seeing gently turning turbines on some distant crest.

Click to enlarge

And remember! each turbine is linked by an access road, giving a network of such roads on a wind farm. And each turbine has to be connected to the grid, which requires another network, this time of trenches.

So what was once a hillside covered in moss and peat absorbing rainwater, and trees sequestering CO2, has been destroyed to make an industrial site off which the water runs into the valleys below. And this has all been done in the name of the environment, of ‘saving the planet’!

A old mate of mine back home – a known trouble-maker – decided to find out how many trees had been cut to make way for wind turbines, and so he submitted an FoI to Natural Resources Wales. The response was startling. (It can be read in full here.)

Here’s an abstract.

Click to enlarge

First, bear in mind that NRW can only tell us what trees were felled on land for which it is responsible, the former Forestry Commission estate, which only accounts for 40% of Wales’ woodland. Yet it still comes to over 2.5 million trees felled. Three-quarters of a million of them for the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, owned by Swedish company Vattenfall, which towers over a number of Valleys communities

You’ll see that NRW has nothing to say for Powys, which has seen so much wind farm development in recent years. This is because the woodlands there are privately owned. And yet, the Severn rises on Pumlumon, not far from the Cefn Croes wind farm (owned by an Italian company), and then it runs through Newtown and Welshpool to join the Vyrnwy and cross the border just a bun throw from Elsie’s Vintage Tea Room & Pie Parlour.

So the Powys wind farms must put a great deal of extra water into the Severn. And this almost certainly contributed something to the recent severe flooding downstream in towns such as Ironbridge.

And now we hear of yet another major development of 22 turbines planned for Powys, this one by French company EDF, at Garn Fach, between the A470 and the A483. I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘Welsh Government’ handle this one.

The project has, predictably, been welcomed by Rhys Wyn Jones of  RenewableUK Cymru. (Cos that’s his job!) But this article, quoting local politicians, hints at mounting opposition to the ongoing exploitation of the local landscape.

And what does the Woodland Trust have to say – will it allow EDF to chop down its trees at Garn Fach? Perhaps Woodland Trust is one of the landowners to benefit if this project goes ahead?

It seems to me that the eco-zealots need to pause, and do some hard thinking.

On the one hand they urge us to plant trees – even proposing to throw Welsh farmers off their land – because this would be good for the environment.

But it’s OK to fell millions of trees in Wales to make way for wind turbines . . . which almost certainly contribute to flooding. Flooding that will then be blamed on global warming/climate change, so the eco-zealots will insist on erecting more wind turbines . . . for which more trees will be felled and more peat bog lost . . . resulting in more flooding . . . .

I may not be 100% right on this, I rarely am, but I will say this with confidence: when it comes to the recent floods, then wind turbines are the elephant in the room.

CROSSBOW MURDER

I’m sure that many of you have been following this case on Ynys Môn. I certainly have. If you’re new to the case, then read this article from Saturday’s Wasting Mule.

Click to enlarge

There was never any doubt that Terence Whall was guilty and that he was going down for life. The real questions remain:

  • What was the motive for Terence Whall killing Gerald Corrigan?
  • What is Whall’s background in East London/Essex and what brought him to Ynys Môn?
  • What was the true role of Whall’s associates, the locals, in this case?
  • Is this murder just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as has been suggested to me?
  • Is this conviction the end of the case as far as North Wales Police is concerned?

If we had a functioning media we could rely on it to chase down the facts, the background to this murder, but we don’t have a media.

If we did, they might wonder why Gerald Corrigan’s children needed to give evidence from behind a screen protecting their identities. The man who killed their father is going down for at least 31 years, so who are they afraid of? Or from whom do the police think they need to be protected?

The last time I remember evidence being given from behind a screen in a Welsh courtroom was in the early 1990s, and then it was MI5 operatives in a trial of Welsh nationalists accused of sending letter bombs.

If anyone wants to send me information relating to this case then they are welcome to do so. I promise not to divulge any source.

END OF FARMING?

Another subject I’ve written about more than once is the plan to gradually remove farmers from the land so that George Monbiot and his friends can take over the Welsh countryside with their ‘rewilding’ projects. (Just type ‘Summit to Sea’ in the search box at the top of the sidebar.)

The colonialist arrogance displayed by those involved with the Summit to Sea project generated a very hostile response from farmers and others, which in turn led to funders pulling out.

But this respite might be short-lived if recent reports are to be believed.

We always knew that Monbiot and his gang had the backing of the ‘Welsh Government’ which, being Labour, hates country-dwellers in general, and farmers in particular, believing that rural Wales should accept its designated fate as a recreation and retirement area for England.

Now it appears that they have support much higher up the political food chain. This article’s heading says it all: ‘War of the wild: How trendy metropolitan eco-zealots with close ties to Boris Johnson are set on driving out traditional farming and ‘rewilding’ the land’.

And in case anyone didn’t get the message, it was soon followed up with this . . .

Click to enlarge

Yes, I know, the left and the eco-zealots will say, ‘Ah! but it’s the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday’. To which I would respond – Grow up! If the facts hold up it doesn’t matter if the story originated in Völkischer Beobachter or the Plovdiv Marrow Growers Weekly.

The Mail titles are most definitely Conservative-supporting papers, which I suggest adds to their credibility in this instance.

Some of the arguments put forward in support of doing away with farming are quite hilarious. One ‘expert’ cites Singapore, arguing that it is prosperous without a farming sector. But Singapore is a bloody city-state of just 725.7 square kilometres and almost six million people. (Wales is 20,735 square kilometres and 3.2 million people.)

And then we read “Ben Goldsmith, for his part, caused fury among farmers this week by tweeting that ‘overgrazing’ by upland sheep farmers — rather than near-record rainfall — was responsible for the devastating floods suffered in South Wales.”

Ben Goldsmith is the brother of Zac Goldsmith, a big mate of Boris Johnson. Zac Goldsmith is also an environment minister.

Read who else is involved and a picture might emerge.

If farming is phased out it will be small farmers, and the family farm, that disappear. Big landowners will thrive, snapping up the farms made unviable by the decisions made by their friends and relatives in the government.

And of course we’ll see more wind turbines and other idiocies cheered on by the eco-zealots – but making fortunes in government subsidies for the very same people who’ll benefit from the destruction of Welsh farming.

Think about it, we have here what at first sight might appear to be two distinct groups – the environmentalists and the Conservative grandees. Surely, they should be on opposite sides? No.

If there’s money to be made then these members of the English upper-middle class, who know each other from school and university, Wimbledon and Henley; who move and marry within the same circles, will stick together.

The external enemies remain the same, and there’s not much we can do but resist them. But we can certainly remove the toadies in Corruption Bay who are so ready to do their masters’ bidding.

♦ end ♦

 

Old Defensible Barracks

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

Last week’s offering was a bit of a beast at over 3,000 words so I’m slimming down for this week’s post.

After doing a bit of digging the old Jac whiskers are all a-quiver because I suspect something odd may be going on in Pembroke Dock.

FIELD MARSHAL MITTY

You may remember that last year I wrote about Admiral Wing Commander of the SAS Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen VC, Croix de Guerre, Iron Cross (1st Class), Purple Heart and the Order of Lenin, who laid out his plans for Fort Hubberstone in Milford Haven. His new company Camp Valour CIC promised to turn the old base into a wonderland for ex-service personnel.

As my description of him might suggest, it was all bullshit from a fantasist named Sean Pullen. To catch up with the relevant pieces I wrote on the subject, scroll down to the section, ‘And finally, who am I?’.  Then to, ‘Camp Valour CIC’. Finally, to, ‘Camp Valour’.

But Hubberstone is not the only fort in the area. The Milford Haven Waterway has a number of old fortifications because they defend one of the finest deep-water anchorages on earth. All redundant because Johnny Frog is not going to be sailing with hostile intent up the Haven, and neither is anybody else.

Unlike medieval castles these fortifications from a later era don’t draw tourists, so they just sit there, attracting dreamers and schemers.

UPDATE 10.02.2020: Here’s fresh news received today from the Pembrokeshire Herald.

Click to enlarge

REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVE!

The problem often is that those responsible for these structures are so desperate to get shot of them that they succumb to the wiles of wide boys and worse. Which is what happened at Milford Haven.

According to the Milford Mercury, the site in Pembroke Dock has been bought by a company called VR 1844 Ltd. (‘Victoria Regina‘?) But has it really been bought?

Old Defensible Barracks, Pembroke Dock. Click to enlarge

The title document and plan I downloaded last week from the Land Registry website tells us the site is owned by a local couple. So if VR 1844 Ltd has bought the Old Defensible Barracks it hasn’t been registered.

Returning to the Milford Mercury, we are told that, “New owner, VR 1844 LTD, is a mix of history lovers, town planners and property developers who specialize in restoring historic buildings.” On reading that my first thought was, ‘That’s a strange mix’.

The report continued, “VR 1844 Ltd office manager Tanya McDermott said: ‘VR 1844 believe people never truly own a building but are the buildings guardians for a period of time'”. Which also struck me as odd, because in my experience property developers are pretty hot on things like ownership, and profit. They’re certainly not renowned for getting sentimental over buildings.

But there you go, maybe I’m getting old and cynical.

The Mercury describes Tanya McDermott as ‘office manager’, and she’s presumably the wife of one of VR 1844’s directors, Jonathan McDermott. Another director is Emma Jane Morby. McDermott and Morby are also directors of Raglan Gatehouse Developments Ltd, and Raglan 1857 Ltd. Raglan Gatehouse being a similar project to the Old Defensible Barracks in Plymouth.

With Raglan 1857 we find Tanya McDermott listed as secretary.

Jonathan McDermott seems to be respected in his field and I can’t find any other companies where he’s served as a director.

Turning to Emma Morby though we find seven companies in addition to the two Raglan companies and VR 1844 Ltd. These are:

Which means that of those seven companies the only one still breathing with which Emma Morby is involved is Goa Group Ltd, but as I suggest, it’s near the door. I don’t wish to be harsh on Ms Morby, but that’s not a record that fills me with confidence.

THE RICHES OF THE ORIENT

If we go back to the Companies House entry for VR 1844 Ltd and check under the ‘People’ tab, we find, in addition to McDermott and Morby, Lai Heng Seto and Trevor Iain Walker listed as directors. Both are residents of Singapore.

VR 1844 Ltd started life on 14 August 2018 as Muniment Yorkshire Ltd, before becoming Walker Property Developments Ltd in July 2019, and adopting the current name on 2 October. The final change coinciding with the arrival of McDermott and Morby on 23 October last year.

And if you think that Emma Morby has been involved in a few companies in recent years, then Trev’s record will make you see how a real property hot-shot operates.

For after doing some digging I have found no fewer than 28 companies with which Trevor Iain Walker has been involved, and from what I can see, they’re all property companies. Here’s a list of them in PDF format, so click on the links to get the details.

Singapore. Click to enlarge

What I find surprising about Trevor Walker’s business record is that the earliest entry I can find for him with Companies House is April 2014, when he was approaching his 52nd birthday.

What had he been doing before April 2014?

You’ll see that his early companies all carried the ‘Muniment’ name. (Muniment being a document or title deed proving claim to land or privilege.) Then there’s a two-year gap from December 2014 to December 2016, before Trev comes roaring back with two companies launched on the same day.

Also note that he was not in at the start with the first company, Muniment Ltd. This was Incorporated 12 September 2013, but as we’ve seen, Walker didn’t join until 8 April 2014. His seat was kept warm for him by Lai Heng Seto, who left on the day he arrived.

Ms Seto, you will remember, is also a director of the Pembroke Dock company.

The companies listed on the PDF document I’ve linked to are all companies of which Walker is or has been a director, with one exception, and that exception is Brigstock Campsite Ltd, a company registered in Northern Ireland. It is included because even though Walker was never a director he did control the company through Muniment Ltd owning most of the shares.

In the absence of Trevor Walker and Lai Heng Seto, Singapore was represented by Jody Cheoy Tho Eu and Lee Hung Lim. But it’s the other director I’d like to introduce, Alfred William Buller.

Buller is the son of William Alfred Buller who died in 2007. In the piece I’ve linked to you read of the ‘Sham Fight’ at Scarva – between King Billy and King James, an annual event that attracts as many as 100,000 people. Alfred Buller is, like his father, a prominent member of the Royal Black Institution who hob-nobs with the Unionist elite. (The ‘Blacks’ are an upmarket version of the Orange Order.)

When he’s not fighting popery and a united Ireland, Alfie (as he is known) is a horse  breeder and a businessman. In fact, he’s been a director of almost 200 companies. But he may also be bankrupt, which might put a question mark over his involvement in any company.

From Northamptonshire Telegraph 28.10.2016. Click to enlarge.

Going back to Trevor Walker and looking through his companies’ accounts a few things struck me. Let’s go to the oldest company in the portfolio, Muniment Ltd (current directors: Trevor Iain Walker and Lai Heng Seto), and open the latest accounts.

There you’ll see ‘Fixed assets’ and ‘Current assets’ totalling £9,652,355, which looks impressive, until you work out that 87% of that figure is accounted for by ‘Debtors’ (that is, money owed to the company).

Then, under ‘Creditors’ (money owed by the company), we see the figure £9,409,539.

Take one from the other and we arrive at the ‘Net assets’ figure of £242,816.

Click to enlarge

Page 7 tells us that Walker has been ‘advanced’ £5,197,757! This of course will be re-classified and appear under Debtors, and therefore Assets.

Go to the accounts for the previous year, 2017, where we learn that more than six million pounds has been taken out by Walker and Seto. Ms Seto is not mentioned by name in the 2018 accounts, so is the £3,578,457 she owes included in the Debtors column?

Will Ms Seto the director be asking Ms Seto the loanee to return the money she so generously granted herself? The same question could be posed to Trevor Walker. But then, when it’s your company, with no other shareholders, you can do what you like. Though to see amounts like that being taken out is unusual.

It makes me wonder where the money originates. Does it come from Singapore, go through the system, and then back to Singapore via Walker and Seto?

Click to enlarge

It’s worth mentioning that although I’m referring to ‘accounts’, none of these documents are audited, they’re just unverified ‘financial statements’ submitted to Companies House by the directors. In other words, those who are giving themselves millions of pounds.

One of the many failings of the regulatory system in the UK is that a company handling millions of pounds can submit back-of-an-envelope accounts. Or it can be done online. This may, as claimed, ‘remove red tape’, but it also makes it easier for those so inclined to be naughty.

(N.B. I’m not suggesting criminal behaviour by any of those discussed here.)

A WORD TO THE WISE

As with the case I dealt with last week, Anglesey County Council and the Shire Hall in Llangefni, I’m sure Pembrokeshire County Council would like to see the Old Defensible Barracks taken over and developed into an asset for the town.

But Wales sees rather too many ‘developers’ with over-ambitious or downright dishonest schemes. So before Pembrokeshire County Council, the ‘Welsh Government’, or Cadw goes overboard with red carpets and grant funding, I suggest they make a few enquiries.

  1. Establish who actually owns the Old Defensible Barracks.
  2. Investigate the business credentials of whoever you deal with and be sure where their money comes from. (Also, where it goes.)
  3. Only if these enquiries return satisfactory results should you proceed with any project for the Old Defensible Barracks.

♦ end ♦

 

‘Serious breach of trust’

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

“Serious breach of trust” is how Y Llywydd (Speaker) Elin Jones described Neil McEvoy’s behaviour in recording conversations, on his mobile phone, between Standards Commissioner Sir Roderick Evans and his staff. Recordings made while Neil McEvoy himself was out of the room.

Breach of trust is a serious allegation, but something having a moral dimension rather than being criminal offence. But either way, it presupposes there being trust to be breached. In this case there wasn’t.

For what Neil McEvoy’s recordings proved is that he was never going to get a fair hearing from the Commissioner. Suspecting this is what persuaded him to make the recordings.

And yet, despite the recordings proving that McEvoy was fully justified in making them, the colonial Establishment has closed ranks to condemn him.

Clue: the recording device is in Neil McEvoy’s hand, no need to ‘sweep’ anywhere. Image courtesy of BBC Wales. Click to enlarge.

Elin Jones also demanded that the whole place be swept for covert listening devices, “and asking South Wales Police to investigate how such recordings were obtained”. (Just as long as they don’t find my bugs in the Deryn offices!)

This was all going on in a rather feisty session at the Senedd.

Which prompted our erstwhile First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to chip in from the moral high ground he is known to inhabit. Carwyn was appalled . . . appalled, he was. And he tweeted it so that the world might know how appalled he was.

And, predictably, he was supported by another resident of the sunlit uplands, the former leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood. She too found it “appalling”. (They’re beginning to sound like outraged old biddies being interviewed by Fishguard’s finest newshound, Hugh Pugh.)

Click to enlarge

So what exactly are they so appalled about? Is it Neil McEvoy? Is it covert recordings? Misogyny (again!)? Cardiff City sacking Neil Warnock? Has the AMs canteen run out of laverbread paté?

Let me tell you what they’re appalled about – the threat to the cosy Labour-Plaid Cymru consensus that has dominated the Assembly for 20 years and allowed Wales to slide towards third world status.

It appears that what appalled Carwyn Jones – or maybe it was just one of many things – was Brexit Party AM Mark Reckless. He was asked by Jones to consider whether he had acted ‘morally’ in refusing to be force-fed bullshit. (That moral dimension again!)

What he means is that he would have told Elin Jones to throw Mark Reckless out. Click to enlarge

There was a swift response, and from an unexpected quarter, one that reminded us of Carwyn Jones’s role in the suicide of his Labour colleague Carl Sargeant, just days after Jones and his aides claimed to have received ‘complaints’ about Sargeant’s behaviour that were then used to justify Sargeant’s sacking.

Almost immediately after hearing the news of Sargeant’s death Jones made two long phone calls to lobbying firm Deryn, where we find individuals who were implicated in both building the ‘case’ against Carl Sargeant and also in releasing news of his sacking to the media – before Sargeant himself had been told!

The response I just referred to came from Carl Sargeant’s sister.

Click to enlarge

There was eventually an inquiry into the leaking of information about Carl Sargeant’s sacking, but the findings have not been made public. Neil McEvoy tried to have the findings released in September, but Labour blocked it, helped by Plaid Cymru.

Why did Plaid Cymru support the Labour Party? Because certain Plaid Cymru people are also very close to Deryn, which often appears to act as a ‘bridge’ between the two parties. And then there’s the third sector, to which both parties are wedded. The third sector can always be relied on to provide volunteers to make ‘complaints’ against politicians and others in the Labour-Plaid cross-hairs.

Given that the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru – plus the crony networks they have built up – comprise the colonial management team, filling their boots and dreaming of ‘honours’ while ensuring that Wales doesn’t drift towards a Scotland scenario, it’s understandable that they enjoy the full support of the colonial media.

You’ll recall that Elin Jones demanded that the police investigate Neil McEvoy for daring to prove that he was being stitched up. Well, later on the Tuesday evening, McEvoy put out a tweet after contacting South Wales Police.

Click to enlarge

That should have been the end of it, surely? No.

Having my morning coffee in Aberystwyth on Wednesday I was confronted by this front page in Llais y Sais. Now you might argue that this went to press before Neil McEvoy put out that tweet on Tuesday evening, but you’d be wrong.

Click to enlarge

And it’s also worth pointing out that the online version was still telling us on Wednesday that SWP was investigating Neil McEvoy.

It was the same over on the Talfan Davies news channel. As late as 9:30 on Wednesday evening people could read what you see below. It might still be there when you’re reading this.

It’s that covert and invisible listening device again! Click to enlarge

Why would the Western Mail and BBC Wales want the public to believe what they themselves knew to be untrue? Because, as I say, they represent the colonial media; Neil McEvoy is seen as a threat to the colonial management team, therefore he must be undermined and discredited.

This is the fake news you keep hearing about, and it’s got sod all to do with my old mucker Vladimir Vladimirovitch.

I began this piece by using Elin Jones’s accusation that Neil McEvoy was guilty of a serious breach of trust. Let me tell her and her Plaid Cymru colleagues about breaching trust.

In the early hours of September 19th, 1997, I was sitting in my living room with my son, and both of us cheered the Carmarthen referendum result that gave us devolution as if it was an injury time goal for the Swans, or a last-gasp conversion to win the Grand Slam.

There’s been nothing to cheer since. Devolution has failed Wales, and Plaid Cymru hasn’t even tried to make it work.

Instead, they’ve chased rainbows, tilted at windmills, postured and pontificated, while Wales decays due to neglect and deprivation, betrayal and colonisation.

Plaid Cymru has failed a nation by spending twenty years with its head up Labour’s arse. Now that is a serious breach of trust. For which it will soon be punished.

♦ end ♦

 

Three sides of the same coin

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 quirky title, you may think, but it will serve for these three tales that, in their differing ways, offer insights into the damage being inflicted on Wales by the Labour Party.

But I stress that they’re three distinct stories, so you can take them one at a time.

HOUSES OF MULTIPLE OCCUPATION – HOW MANY DOES WALES NEED?

We begin in Port Talbot, where the playful zephyrs carry that heady mix of motorway traffic fumes and steelworks belch. (For as anyone who reads the popular press will know, steelworks always ‘belch’ smoke and fumes.)

Let’s home in on 20 Olive Street in Aberavon, where there is a change of use application to convert a house in this residential street into a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO). Locals are very much opposed to the proposal.

(As a matter of interest, Olive Street is not far from Dic Penderyn’s grave.)

On the application document I’ve linked to you’ll see that the applicant is ‘Joe Furneaux’, and the address given is in Upper Killay, where Swansea peters out into Gower. So I got to wondering about ‘Joe Furneaux’.

I couldn’t get very far in my investigations until I realised that his name is actually Jonathan Furneaux. And it soon became obvious why he might wish to generate confusion about his identity, for he has a chequered business record.

To be specific, two companies that are no longer with us. The first, Picton Street Management Company Ltd, was dissolved in March 2014, though Furneaux ceased to be a director 22 March 2010. The second, Phoenix Property Acquisitions Limited, was dissolved April 2014, after Furneaux had baled out 10 March 2010.

Both companies gave their address as 44 St Helens Road, Swansea. You’ll see that the second of them went bust with no less than 11 outstanding charges.

If we look more closely at those charges we see properties in Ferndale, Tylorstown, Penrhiwceiber, Pentre, Ebbw Vale, Abertillery, Nantyglo, Llanhilleth, Aberdare.

(Maybe some readers can give me feedback on these properties, for the addresses are all given in the charges. For example, are they now residential properties?)

Towns that have been abandoned by self-styled ‘Welsh’ Labour. Where the economy is depressed, where people (those who haven’t left) have either given up or got angry, and where we find the lowest house prices on this island. Ideal locales for ‘investors’ to buy properties in which to house ‘problematic’ (for neighbours) – but highly profitable (for them) – tenants.

A scam encouraged because it shows how ‘caring’ we are – ‘Socialism, innit!’ While also exposing Wales’ poverty – which is always blamed on the Tories.

What a way to run a country! But back to ‘Joe’/Jonathan Furneaux.

This is definitely our boy, but of course there’s no mention of the failed companies, and ‘Joe Furneaux’ was never a company name. Click to enlarge.

To confuse the picture, Phoenix Property Acquisitions Limited may have been dissolved in April 2014 but in February 2015, Phoenix Property Acquisitions Ltd was born. This company did nothing – apparently – and was was compulsorily struck off in July 2016. The address used for this brief reincarnation was 39 Park Place in Swansea city centre.

So we see that in addition to the Upper Killay address Furneaux has also used addresses in the city centre. Though both of the earlier companies began life in Hartfield, a village near Tunbridge Wells, which is where I think Furneaux is based.

For I believe he lives in England and uses accommodation addresses in Swansea. I say that because if this (below) is the same man, then his day job may be with Palatine Homes Ltd of Berkshire.

Click to enlarge

This company specialises in bespoke, upmarket dwellings in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, a world away from the Labour fiefdoms of Swansea, Port Talbot and the Heads of the Valleys.

Furneaux joined Palatine Homes in March 2016. Now that he’s got a few bob together perhaps he’s making a come-back.

(If the Jon Furneaux of Palatine Homes Ltd is not the ‘Joe’/Jonathan Furneaux active around Swansea Bay, then I shall be happy to delete this reference.)

And he’s doing it with a company set up as recently as March this year, Horizon EXP Ltd, with a ‘postbox’ address in Dorset. For this is the company that bought 20 Olive Street, Aberavon for £43,000 in July. Now Furneaux wants to convert this small, mid-terrace house in a residential neighbourhood into a four-bed HMO.

For no better reason than idle curiosity I scrolled down the planning application and was surprised to read (in section 27) that the owner, on 27 June, was a Samuel Hawking. ‘Who he?’ I asked myself, and eventually turned up this website.

Click to enlarge

As I say, the date on the planning application, giving Hawking’s ownership, is 27 June 2019; while the date on the Land Registry document tells us that Horizon EXP Ltd, i.e. Jon Furneaux, bought the property 19 July 2019.

So did Hawking get the ball rolling for a HMO and then sell the property, or was the sale of 20 Olive Street provisional on him initiating the process for Furneaux? Given that Hawking might be a relatively large fish in the Swansea Bay property market, I incline towards the second possibility.

And I use the term ‘Swansea Bay’ because I also turned up a planning application in the city itself, in Plasmarl. Where a 4-bed mid-terrace property owned by Jonathan Richard Furneaux (with a loan from West Bridging Ltd) is to be converted into a 5-bed HMO.

Click to enlarge

Plasmarl, where my father was born and raised, is not one of the more salubrious quarters of the city, having much in common with the post-industrial Valleys’ towns we looked at just now. In earlier times Plasmarl was home to many of those who worked in the valley below.

The Lower Swansea Valley (before my time, just). Click to enlarge

Plasmarl, where the ‘Golden Boy’ was born and raised. And where I sank many a pint in the Smelters, and the Coopers, and the Imperial, and ‘Y Cwrcyn’. (No one knew why it was called Y Cwrcyn, but as the real name was The Ivorites Arms, and there were other Ivorites not far away, it served a purpose.)

No mean neighbourhood, Plasmarl. But before I get too nostalgic I’m going to end with a few questions:

  • Why has a man with so many unpaid debts returned to Wales to go into the Houses of Multiple Occupation racket?
  • Does the company to which he owes so much money know he’s resurfaced?
  • What’s his relationship with Sam Hawking?
  • Do the local authorities involved know exactly who they’re dealing with in these applications, and all the possible ramifications?
  • What rights do locals have when threatened with a HMO near to them?
  • Do the planning committees so ready to give permission enquire where the residents of these HMOs in Aberavon and Plasmarl (and elsewhere) will come from?
  • Does the ‘Welsh Government’ have concerns about cheap property in deprived areas being converted into HMOs and hostels to house persons from outside of Wales?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Upper Killay house, 13 Edgemooor Close, is owned by a Roy Anthony Griffiths of Worcester.

BURRY PORT CARNIVAL COMMITTEE

This next story takes us west, west of Llanelli in fact, to Porth Tywyn (in English, Burry Port). A town I know quite well; in fact, I stayed there for a few nights very recently.

This report is different to the topics I usually cover in a number of ways, but it still fits because it’s about the abuse of influence and the misuse of money, with the Labour Party central to the tale. For all those involved are councillors, candidates, members, supporters. Indeed, it’s suggested that the reach of the Labour Party explains how this scandal has festered for so long.

I have been given the full names, and relationships, of those involved, but I’ve decided to use initials. Those involved will recognise themselves, of course, and locals will be able to identify them. While those who don’t know the area can understand the issues raised without having to know the principals’ names.

Porth Tywyn. Click to enlarge

In a nutshell, a small group, made up it seems of two families, monopolises fund-raising activities in this small town. Money is ostensibly raised for the community, and yet most of it seems to be unaccounted for. And I am talking now of what is said to be hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The points below represent a summary of the information supplied to me in the words of a source. I have made a few additions or clarifications

1) Burry Port Carnival has been around for some 20 years and is driven by S. M. In the early years all money was paid into her personal bank account and no accounts were produced.

2) Members of the community were involved and some became members of the committee but they didn’t last long.

3) More recently, in the past 5 years or so, the committee is made up almost entirely from two families. The M. and F. families. This consists of S.M., her husband, her daughter and her grandchildren. Also A. F. and L. F. It is believed that there is one non-family committee member, D. D., the nephew of Cllr J. J.

4) S. M., A. F. and J. J. are serving Labour Party councillors. L. F. is an active member of the Labour Party and was a failed Labour candidate for a recent Pembrey Ward by-election for the town council.

5) Members of the community are now saying that unless you are a family member and a member of the Labour Party you will not be allowed on the committee. This seems to have some weight as a recent member of the committee, L. M., was ousted as soon as she got elected as an independent town councillor 5 years ago.

6) The committee will state that anyone can apply to join but nobody does because they know that they would not be accepted or, if they are, they won’t last very long. The general view is that this is more like a family business than an inclusive and transparent community organisation.

7) The Carnival Committee not only organise and run the annual carnival but in season, April to October, they run the weekly car boot sale in Burry Port. It has grown to be the largest in mid and west Wales.

8) Some conservative estimates are that the income from the car boot sale alone ranges from £40,000 to £50,00 a year. (Ed: This is explained by over 100 stalls paying £7 for a car, £10 – 12 for a van, £15 for anything bigger. But no receipts are given, just ‘raffle tickets’, which I assume to mean cloakroom tickets.)

9) The annual Carnival has also grown and income from that is not recorded.

10) (Those involved) also run the annual Christmas Carnival, an annual dog show and vintage car show as well as a number of minor events.

11) They do not give receipts to any who enter the events. They do not give receipts to any stall holder, car owner or sponsor. More recently they started issuing a raffle ticket from various different books to car boot pitch holders. (Ed: The ‘raffle tickets’ referred to earlier.) They have been frequently observed collecting money and putting it in their pockets.

12) No one knows how much they collect but they are quick to publicise a handful of very small grants that they give to local groups, (Grants of a few hundred pounds only) They have also funded around a dozen defibrillators in the community at around 1,200 each. No one knows where the rest of the money goes.

13) They do not publish any audited accounts and they do not publish any annual report or minutes of meetings.

14) Any accounts or financial statements they may produce may not be worth very much if they do not issue any receipts to back up their income.

15) In the meantime, the F. family have gone from L. F. being unemployed and A. F. having a small stall in Carmarthen market, to having three shops and three businesses in Burry Port. S. M. and her family have just bought a villa with a swimming pool in Spain.

It would be easy to dismiss this report as an example of small town squabbling. But given the quality of the sources, and the amounts of money involved, I know there’s substance to it.

So I call on those involved to produce what they should have been producing all along – minutes of meetings, correspondence, bank statements, audited accounts, and an explanation for the status of their operations. For nothing seems to be registered with either the Charity Commission or Companies House.

Which inevitably gives rise to suspicions that this is a cash-only operation held together by family loyalties and protected by the power of the Labour Party.

UPDATE 08.11.2019: The local media is taking an interest. Here’s a report from Wales News Online, and earlier today I was contacted by a reporter who seems to work for both the Carmarthen Journal and WalesOnline.

Reading through the WNO report I have to say that those involved don’t do themselves any favours. They admit to giving out cloakroom tickets as receipts, but will give real receipts to “those who request them”!

When the awkward questions about accounts and record-keeping were asked the carnival committee kept referring to paying-in books at the bank! A strange response because these would only tell what was paid in, not what was collected.

When asked about the legal status of this money-making operation WNO was told that the carnival committee is a “constituted forum”. It may be, or that may be an excuse used to justify not being registered with the Charity Commission or Companies House.

In related news, two of those involved have resigned from the town council citing ‘bullying and harassment’ for their decision. Who knows the truth with this lot?

TRANSPORT FOR WALES

Last week a news story appeared concerning the ‘mangling’ of Welsh place names in railway announcements. I picked the story up on Twitter and my comment explains my thinking on the subject.

Click to enlarge

I wanted to make that point because in the NorthWalesLive article a spokesman for Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) waffled about, ” . . . deep concerns . . . basic failures . . . unprecedented for a public service” . . . and, in effect, said nothing.

Which chimes with my experience of language activists over half a century in that they’re hot on abstractions and visibility, but unconcerned with employment issues unless it’s them losing out. Jobs for working class Welsh speakers don’t concern them, which tends to betray the ‘look-out-for-number-one’ attitude of too many. This attitude explains the rise of Rhodri Williams.

When I put out that tweet last Monday I had no way of knowing that my argument would be backed up so quickly.

The announcements on trains are given out by the guard. Now, quite obviously, if the guard has no understanding whatever of the Welsh language, then passengers will hear, ‘Clanvervekan’ (Llanfairfechan) and ‘Makynceth’ (Machynlleth). The way to avoid this is obviously to employ local people.

But this is not what happens at the moment. And there are no moves to recruit locals, in fact, things could get a whole lot worse.

For I have it on impeccable authority that Transport for Wales is recruiting thirty new guards for the Central Wales line and the Cambrian Coast line. The recruitment is being carried out in Shrewsbury.

This news has been met with anger by railway employees in the area affected, because it means that there will be no Welsh staff recruited for guards jobs on Welsh railway lines, and that can only result in an inferior service.

(And a more expensive service. For English staff have taxis paid for them to join their Welsh trains. This is happening now!)

So not only will we have to endure more of ‘Clanvervekan’ and ‘Makynceth’ but, being ignorant of the area they won’t know the request stops, or the bus connections, or anything.

Take a look at the map below, the railway lines are in red and the green lines represent TrawsCymru bus services. Just look at the number of request stops between Barmouth and Porthmadog! Imagine the nails-on-blackboard mangling of Morfa Mawddach and Dyffryn Ardudwy; and then, just before Abbaerk, we’ll hear the announcement for Penny Chain.

Click to enlarge

And yet, it could all be avoided by recruiting Welsh people to work on Welsh railways. Why is that so difficult?

Seeing as Transport for Wales is a not for profit company, wholly owned by the Welsh Government” I would like the ‘Welsh’ Labour ‘Government’ to tell us why it allows this company to practise recruitment policies that insult our native language, lose us jobs, and provide us with an inferior service.

Or are we supposed to just shrug it off and accept this discrimination as yet another example of ‘Welsh’ Labour betraying the Welsh people?

CONCLUSION

Picking up on something he may have read by Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de Lamartine nineteenth-century English scribbler Lord Acton is usually credited with, ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

While I’m sure he was thinking of despots and emperors strutting their stuff in his own time that line can equally apply to the Labour Party in Wales. For too many in Labour regard privilege, patronage, and outright corruption as theirs by right. The prize for coming first.

This belief gives us cronyism, rigged elections, the third sector, self-advancement, local ‘mafias’, unregulated lobbyists, parachuted candidates, the arrogance to argue that black is white . . . in the poorest country in Europe.

The Labour Party benefits itself, but fails the nation. It’s therefore time to bring to an end Labour’s century in the sun. Anyone outside of Labour siding with these gangsters on spurious ideological grounds is no better than Labour.

♦ end ♦

 

M4 relief road

By now everyone’s aware of the decision announced last week by the ‘Welsh Government’ not to proceed with the planned M4 ‘relief road’ through the Gwent Levels and Newport docks.

This decision that took most of us by surprise needs to be examined and certain ramifications and possibilities considered. For last week’s decision might have significance beyond a single road project.

ALL CHANGE?

When Carwyn Jones was First Minister it was understood that the relief road would go ahead. So for a start, the decision announced last week means that things have changed under his successor, Mark Drakeford.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of last week’s decision is that Mark Drakeford, and the ‘Welsh Government’, have gone against the wishes of their superiors in London. It’s impossible to over-stress that what happened last week was a form of insubordination.

For make no  mistake, London wanted this road. The Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales backed the plan, with inspector Bill Wardrup waxing lyrical about the relief road while being almost insultingly dismissive of alternatives.

click to enlarge

Our Secretary of State, Alun Cairns, that most London-loyal of individuals – and, we now learn, a Boris Johnson supporter – was “hugely disappointed” by the decision. It may have come as a bit of a shock to him, for Cairns knew long ago what the inspector’s recommendation was, and he probably expected the new management team in Cardiff docks to follow Compliant Carwyn’s lead and do as the inspector (and London) recommended.

click to enlarge

So maybe any consideration of this shock to the system political boils down to two questions:

  1. Why has Drakeford refused to do London’s bidding in this instance?
  2. Is this a one-off act of rebellion or does it herald a fundamental change of course for ‘Welsh’ Labour?

CUI BONO?

One possible explanation might lie in the fact that despite all the criticism of London-centricity, and the disproportionate amount of infrastructure spending in London and the south east of England, for two decades Wales has followed exactly the same course.

Because a curious feature of devolution is that those areas that voted against devolution in 1997 have been the areas to benefit most since 1999. Maybe this is related to the phenomenon that has seen successive Labour administrations in Cardiff Bay neglect those areas that vote Labour.

So, to be generous, this decision not to proceed with the M4 relief road might mark the beginning of attempts to ‘rebalance’ the Welsh economy.

Even if I’m being too generous there, on a purely financial level, it would have been difficult to justify expenditure of £1.5 bn (at the very least) in a country of just over 3 million people unless the benefits are widely enjoyed. That would obviously not have been the case with the M4 relief road, and further, expenditure on that project would mean fewer infrastructure projects elsewhere in the country.

It’s even being suggested that areas of England – notably Bristol – would have benefited more from an M4 relief road than areas of Wales just twenty or thirty miles away, such as the Heads of the Valleys.

This is how Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, put it in a couple of tweets.

click to enlarge

Weighing up cost and benefit, the M4 relief road would have meant the ‘Welsh Government’ borrowing a great deal of money for a project that at best would only benefit one corner of the country, and at worst, might have been of more benefit to adjacent areas of England.

On those grounds alone, no body claiming to be the ‘Welsh Government’, serving the whole of Wales, could have given the go-ahead for the M4 relief road.

But that consideration has never before stopped an administration in Cardiff Bay from pouring investment into the city at the expense of the rest of the country. So there may be other explanations.

THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE FOR ENGLANDANDWALES

Having mentioned the Planning Inspectorate this is a good time to remind you of the malign influence this agency has exerted over Wales.

In this example from March 2014 I wrote about the plan to expand Bodelwyddan and how it linked with the Local Development Plan (LDP) for Denbighshire. In this post we see how the Planning Inspectorate was forcing a Welsh local authority to allow housing greatly in excess of any local need.

And even after census findings made it clear that the county would need less new housing than had previously been anticipated, the Planning Inspector insisted on keeping to the now discredited figures:

The planning inspector’s response to Denbighshire arguing it needed less new housing than previously projected. Click to enlarge.

“Objects and aspirations” can only mean catering for an influx of new residents from outside of the county, and almost certainly from outside of Wales. Which means that in many cases the LDPs that have been forced on our local authorities by the Planning Inspectorate are ‘local’ only in the sense that they affect areas of Wales.

In Denbighshire, the northern part of the county lies within the A55 corridor, which is being developed as a linear commuter belt for north west England. The ‘Welsh Government’ will never admit this – in fact, it might not even be consulted – but others know, and are planning for it.

This map was produced by Lichfields (planning and development consultancy), it makes clear that there are three strategic planning areas in Wales, Two we know about, the third is never mentioned.

This is part of a wider and ongoing plan to integrate northern Wales into north west England. This 2019 report from Transport for the North makes the medium- to long-term planning clear, and it goes beyond a narrow corridor.

What’s being done here could be done without devolution – so what’s the point of having a ‘Welsh Government’ if it doesn’t live up to the name? Is devolution just a chimera, a smokescreen?

click to enlarge

Cross-border co-operation is one thing, and desirable, it happens all over the world; but it must be done on a basis of mutual respect with both sides benefiting. The map you see above is Englandandwales in operation. Anyone arguing otherwise would probably describe Tryweryn as a mutually-beneficial project.

Without labouring the point I hope you get the gist – the Planning Inspectorate has done a lot of damage to Wales over the years. Which explains why the agency’s relationship with the ‘Welsh Government’ has always been a source of confusion for Welsh politicians and others.

Taken from a ‘Welsh Government’ publication. Click to enlarge.

The truth is that the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales has a desk in Cardiff but takes its orders from London, with the ‘Welsh Government’ allowed to pretend it has some control.

The truth is driven home when we see an inspector adjudicating on a Welsh case one week and being in Yorkshire or Devon the following week. (Though of course, never in Scotland.)

It was no surprise then that the Planning Inspectorate wanted the M4 black route. Because that’s what London wanted.

Though if Mark Drakeford can see the problem with the Planning Inspectorate for Englandandwales then he must also be aware that this is only the tip of an iceberg. That ‘iceberg’ being the problem of ‘Welsh’ civil servants relaying orders from London. 

PLANNING FOR A WELSH FUTURE?

The fact that the ‘Welsh Government’ went against the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, its London masters, and a number of powerful lobby groups (perhaps even . . . whisper it – Deryn!), means that Mark Drakeford has really stuck his scruffy neck out.

Which leads me to suspect, or hope, that this decision might be about more than the explanations we’ve been given on cost and environment damage. There might be things bubbling below the surface that could prove to be more important in the medium term than the M4 decision itself.

First off, I am convinced that the M4 decision links with this announcement from a month ago that Wales will soon have its own planning inspectorate. Let’s look at what the article in The Planner says.

“Currently, the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales is responsible for making decisions and recommendations on planning-related land issues and appeals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Welsh Government fund it.

Based in Cardiff, the inspectorate’s Wales Division manages casework on planning and related applications and appeals, including developments of national significance. It examines local development plans, which set out land use planning policies and form the basis of local planning decisions, using a team of dedicated Welsh inspectors and administrators.

The new planning inspectorate for Wales is expected to be fully operational by the end of the current assembly term, which is May 2021.”

This move was explained by the ‘Welsh Government’ thus: “planning law and policy has diverged and continues to diverge at an accelerating rate from England”. Which makes a certain sense, but if that’s the real reason then policing, broadcasting and many other powers would also be fully devolved.

Though a cynic might suggest that Drakeford is launching the new agency because he’s burned his bridges with the Planning Inspectorate after giving them two fingers over such a high-profile project as the M4 relief road.

Whatever the reason, I’m hoping Drakeford and his cabinet want a separate Welsh planning inspectorate to do things differently in future and for the right reasons. Otherwise, why set up a new and separate agency?

IN CONCLUSION . . .

Does the dropping of the M4 relief road coupled with the announcement of the new planning inspectorate herald a change of direction for the ‘Welsh Government’?

The cynic in me thinks, ‘Nah, this leopard ain’t gonna change its spots, Jac. After twenty years of screwing up on devolution Labour’s only pretending to do things differently now because it’s slipping in the polls. Any change will be purely cosmetic.’

But then, the optimistic side to my nature (long dormant) asserts itself and says, ‘Wait! Maybe from now on they will put the interests of Wales and Welsh people first. Perhaps they’ll realise that there are communities within twenty miles of Corruption Bay approaching third world standards of deprivation. And that our rural areas need more than zip wires and granny farms. 

‘Perhaps it’ll mean no more insane legislation to encourage hippies, ‘rewilders’ and other enviroshysters; no more grants showered on multinationals’ branch factories and con men with ludicrous ‘projects’; no more red carpet treatment for exploitive ‘celebs’ such as Bore Grylls; no more funding and other encouragement for the third sector to import England’s problems so as to maintain thousands of unnecessary jobs with our money.

‘Maybe, at long last, Wales will be treated as a country, in which the interests of those who belong here are considered more important than kudos gained from playing to galleries that only seek to exploit and marginalise us. Perhaps our kids will be given a decent education to prepare them for better jobs than scurrying around an Amazon warehouse or desperately waiting for Easter in the hope of some low-wage tourism job.’

Over to you, Mark Drakeford.

♦ end ♦