Sep 032018
 

INTRODUCTION

I remember, back in the 1960s, when I was a wild young thing, visiting Owain Williams (of Tryweryn fame) on his farm, Gwynus, and then heading down for a drink at the local hostelry, the Plas Pistyll Hotel. I remember it well because ‘G–‘ and I picked up a couple of girls from Birmingham and took them up the mountain to enjoy the view. (Who says we don’t welcome tourists?)

Ah! happy days.

Plas Pistyll, click to enlarge

The old pile, with its uninterrupted views of the sea, fell on hard times and was eventually abandoned to the elements. But even if it was no longer viable as a hotel, the location alone dictated that somebody would some day come along with a plan for the site.

And so it was. . . .

THE PLANNING APPLICATIONS

Let me start by explaining that I have drawn together all the planning references I can find relating to both Plas Pistyll and neighbouring Pistyll farm and caravan site, I’ve done this because as early as 2008 they had become one and the same project.

Here’s the link to the pdf version. Click on the planning reference number in the left-hand column to be taken to the Gwynedd planning site.

Below you’ll see a montage created for Natural Retreats by the Ark Company Landscape Architects of Middlesex, and although things have moved on the image gives the layout of the site.

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The obvious place to start is with the three earliest applications, which tell us that both the farm and the Plas are owned by Sustainable Leisure, a company I couldn’t find on the Companies House website.

Even so, I know that the properties were owned by a Bill Gleave of Greater Manchester. I know because by August 2009 he had hit the rocks owing local businesses money. You’ll note that in the Daily Post report I’ve just linked to the Pistyll site is called ‘Nature’s Point’ (A name I’m sure I recall from the Mabinogion.)

This catastrophe was confirmed when the Bolton News reported that Gleave company BGH had gone tits up, with Sustainable Leisure following.

It all went quiet for almost three years until, in August 2011, there was an application from new player Natural Retreats to demolish Plas Pistyll and replace it with 20 self-catering holiday units. These to be complemented with “16 self catering holiday units in lieu of the existing static caravan site” at the farm.

Plas Pistyll had been bought in April 2010 for £85,000 by Natural Land 3 Ltd, though a loan was taken out towards the end of 2014 with HSBC. (There will be more on the array of linked companies later.)

To begin with, I had the same problem with Natural Retreats as I had with Sustainable Leisure – I couldn’t find it on the Companies House website. But I found a Natural Retreats website and eventually unearthed Natural Retreats UK Ltd, which changed its name to The UK Great Travel Company Ltd 25 October 2017.

Permission was given in August 2012 to demolish Plas Pistyll with the condition that the same individual or family could not live in the new holiday units for more than three months in a year. Natural Retreats appealed against this decision and the appeal was allowed permitting unrestricted holiday use for the whole site.

I understand that the last time the planning committee met was to discuss C11/0661/43/LL, thereafter everything was delegated to planning officers. Some very important decisions were made that many feel should have been referred back to the committee, not least the decision to allow unrestricted holiday use.

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Having got the big prize Natural Retreats – usually operating now as Natural Land & Sea – chipped away over the next few years at more of the planning conditions imposed by Gwynedd’s planning committee, to the point where few remained.

For Gwynedd’s planning department seemed to bend over backwards to oblige: “. . . deletion of Conditions 8, 9, 10 (Code for Sustainable Homes) . . . vary the materials proposed for the external wall of the units on the farm site . . . Discharge conditions 20 (slate), 22 (stone) and 24 (external finishes) . . .  Discharge condition 2 (agree stone) on planning permission . . . “

Instead of stone and slate cottages in keeping with vernacular styles (including Pistyll farm), using local materials and labour, what are being thrown up now on the Plas Pistyll site are prefabricated units brought in from God knows where – Estonia being one suggestion – with no local benefits whatsoever.

And again, predictably, searching the Companies House website turned up nothing for Natural Land & Sea. Either there is no such company, or it’s registered outside the UK, or it’s the trading name of another entity (in which case we should know the name of that entity). But Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners don’t seem to know or care who they’re dealing with.

It should be standard practice for any elected or public body dealing with a commercial entity to insist on that entity identifying itself with a Companies House, Charity Commission, FSA, etc number or some other form of identification, or else explain why it cannot meet this requirement.

Relevant digression: I’ve been helping a neighbour who’s lived the village all his life renew his blue parking badge, but he still had to provide his birth certificate and other proof of identity. If he’d rocked up claiming to represent Intergalactic Con Men Inc, and wanting to build 5,000 holiday apartments in tower blocks around Llyn Tegid I suppose Cyngor Gwynedd would have rolled out the red carpet, like they’ve done for Paul Williams, Natural Retreats, and God knows how many others.

I’ve told you that Natural Retreats UK Ltd renamed itself The UK Great Travel Company Ltd on 25 October 2017. On that very same day a company was born named NRML Technology Ltd. The sole director was soon joined by another gentleman from Bobby Lee’s home state of Virginia and in June the company name was changed to Natural Retreats UK Ltd.

Why would Natural Retreats UK Ltd be resurrected under American ownership? We shall consider this in just a minute.

THE APPLICANT

Before that, let’s take a closer look at who’s behind this disaster at Pistyll, on the very site where a young Jac downed pints and chatted up young ladies. (Though I use the most generous application of that epithet.) As we’ve seen, there can easily be confusion about the name of the company involved. Hardly surprising when you read on.

For at the same address in Wilmslow, in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle, where footballers, soap stars and successful criminals from Manchester and Merseyside choose to live, we also find: NR Partners No. 2 Limited Partnership (Natural Retreats Limited Partnership until 20 June), NR Investors LPNatural Retreats Pension LLP, Project Natural Retreats Ltd, Natural Assets Investments Ltd, Natural Land 1 LLP, Natural Land 3 Ltd, Natural Land 3 Management Ltd, NL 3 Cottages Management Ltd,

That’s not all. There are yet other companies at the same address that do not carry the ‘Natural’ tag but are run by the same people. These are: Dol Park Ltd (Dissolved 31.07.2018), JOG 3 LLP, JOG Highlands LLP, John o’ Groats Highlands Ltd, K2 Equity Partners LLP, Mini Gems Ltd (Dissolved 31.07.2018), N A Lews Castle Ltd (Formerly Snowdonia Land Ltd, ), North York Moors Ltd, Pentire Fistral Beach Ltd (Dissolved 31.07.2018), Worldwide Private Residences LP.

There may be other companies for all I know but the people involved with almost all of those I’ve listed are: Matt Spence, Anthony Wild and Ewan Kearney.

click to enlarge

The founder and driving force is Matt Spence, who was born on a Yorkshire sheep farm where – he tells us – it was a struggle to survive, so he and his brothers looked for alternative ways to make money. Spence hit on the idea of high quality accommodation in national parks and other areas of great natural beauty.

A noble ambition that he’s partly met in finding the right locations. But in reality Spence’s business is raising money in the form of investments – the minimum seems to have been £50,000 to join NR Investors LP (check out the document for 16.01.2008) – and whether all the money raised goes on lodges and chalets is a moot point, for he and his associates have their fingers in so many pies.

But whatever the company or partnership the bottom line remains making as much money as possible. And this often seems to mean cutting corners, for I’ve heard from a number of quarters that the ‘Natural’ empire is not always a good neighbour, or employer. Here are reports from the Cairngorms, and Yorkshire.

There are even suggestions that the empire may not be in the best of financial health. But with so many interlinked commercial and financial entities constantly changing addresses and names it’s not easy for anyone to keep track.

I earlier alluded to an intervention from the Commonwealth of Virginia, so maybe it’s time to expand on what I’m sure you found to be a tantalising reference.

Spence is something of an evangelist and so we should not be surprised to learn that he spread the ‘Natural’ gospel to the USA, where they have a hell of a lot more open spaces than us. This bore fruit in Natural Retreats USA. And yet . . .

Those who have raised Natural Retreats UK Ltd from the dead appear to have no connection with Natural Retreats USA. And yet, under its original name of NRML Technology Ltd the company was formed by a Christopher Holden who gave his correspondence address as, ‘Natural Retreats, 675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, 22911’.

Holden works with venture capitalists and investors, Court Square Ventures of Charlottesville, which has no obvious connection with Natural Retreats USA, it’s certainly not listed among CSV’s clients. He was later joined as a director by Douglas Burns. On the CSV website Holden is described as a ‘General Partner’, whereas Burns is ‘Principal & CFO’.

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Unless they plucked the Natural Retreats UK Ltd name out of thin air, and found Manchester by sticking a pin in a map, there has to be a connection between Court Square Ventures and Matt Spence and his associates.

But it still doesn’t make sense.

Because if we read the CSV website, and the biographies of the partners, then we see that their backgrounds are in media, technology, communications and the like – not a sasquatch-terrorised log cabin to be seen!

And yet, Court Square Ventures is an investment company, so it’s reasonable to suggest that the boys from Charlottesville come bearing greenbacks, which inclines me towards three options:

  1. They have come to get a slice of the action, at Pistyll and elsewhere, perhaps by investing in one or more of Spence’s many financial vehicles.
  2. They have come to help Spence out of a financial hole.
  3. They have come to take over.

And if you think about, it could be a bit of all three; or maybe options 1 and 2 culminating in option 3.

In the hope of clarifying the situation I e-mailed Natural Retreats USA on Friday with, “There are companies of the same name operating in the UK, in Wales, Scotland and England. I see that Christopher Holden is a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd. What exactly is the connection or relationship between the US and UK companies?”

The reply said, “Thank you for your inquiry into Natural Retreats. I would be happy to offer some more information as to how the different companies are related. You may also view our website for further clarification: https://www.naturalretreats.com/about

Natural Retreats was originally founded in the UK by Matthew Spence, and started with a few luxury lodges in the Yorkshire Dales. Over time, Natural Retreats grew to include destinations in the Eastern and Western United States as well. At this time, the US and UK now operate separately; they only share the name of Natural Retreats. The US main office is located in Charlottesville, VA and the Western Support Office is located in Park City, UT. 

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you, again, for your inquiry; we hope you will stay with us at one of our luxury retreats in the near future!”

To which I responded with, “I am grateful for your speedy response.
 
As I mentioned in my original query, I was a little confused seeing Christopher Holden of Charlottesville, Virginia listed as a director of Natural Retreats UK Ltd (Co No 11031026). A company formed in October 2017.
 
This would appear to be a UK presence for the US operation, or is there some other interpretation?”

At this point the line went dead!

So we are no nearer to knowing why venture capitalists from Virginia with no obvious expertise in tourism have set up in Manchester using a company name previously used by those building at Plas Pistyll. But it’s surely no coincidence that Rural Retreats USA’s eastern office is in Charlottesville. Which throws up other questions.

I’ll ask again, does Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners really know who they’re dealing with? Not just because of the find-me-if-you-can company names but also because Spence specialises in getting others to invest in his plans, and even though I’m sure he scrupulously screens each and every investor, the fact remains that the money to develop Plas Pistyll could be coming from anywhere.

Court Square Ventures is another company that invests money for third parties.

And does Cyngor Gwynedd know that Project Natural Retreats Ltd owns Tŷ Mawr at Abergeirw, and not just the house, but also land around it. These title references apply: WA634099, WA894641, WA930505. One to watch I would suggest!

TIME TO DEFEND OURSELVES

The properties at Pistyll are now being advertised on Rightmove and other sites. So let’s consider what we’re dealing with, and its implications.

click to enlarge

For a start, I note that these properties are being sold leasehold. Yet England’s management team down in Cardiff docks – those clowns that hope to be mistaken for a ‘Welsh Government’ – has turned against leasehold, except, apparently, when it’s used by RSLs or, more secretively, by unregistered private subsidiaries of publicly-funded RSLs. And of course by the likes of the ‘Natural’ empire.

Then again, just imagine Matt Spence and his gang turning up and saying, ‘Oi, Taff, we want to build a new holiday village overlooking the sea. We ain’t gonna use local materials, suppliers or labour. Then we are gonna give it some idiotic English name and there’s fuck all you can do about it’.

There would have been an outcry, even Plaid Cymru might have been roused to mumble something.

But that is exactly what has been achieved incrementally!

This development at Pistyll is only a few miles from Plas Glynllifon where dwells our old friend Paul Williams of Weep for Wales fame. Yet Plas Pistyll and Plas Glynllifon represent for the ‘Welsh’ Government ‘high end’ tourism, which must be unquestioningly encouraged.

For it is all set out in TAN 13: Tourism (1997) . . . which observant readers will have noted was two years before the Assembly first sat. That’s really thinking ahead!

Yet from what I can see, ‘high end’ tourism only attracts the smarter shysters and the outright crooks. Though if we are to attract high end tourism then what is being done to phase out the barrel-scraping tourism represented by mile after mile of ugly coastal caravan parks that can only deter the high rollers?

Nothing.

Because we are expected to believe that in a tiny country like Wales we can have all kinds of tourism and unlimited numbers of tourists without causing catastrophic cultural and environmental damage.

This is because it’s what England wants, due to the fact that a) money spent in Wales will make its way back to England, and b) tourism and the population influx it encourages makes Wales less of a ‘worry’.

As for the aforementioned clowns down Geiger Bay, well they’ll always do what London tells them, and some of them are even stupid enough to believe that a healthy economy can be based on tourism. Not forgetting that many in the Labour Party would be happy to see the death of Welsh identity.

‘As long as we got a rugby team, innit!’

♦ end ♦

 

  29 Responses to “Wilmslow-sur-Mer”

  1.  

    High end tourism does not come from developments like either of these in your article. People with money never want to live in a new concrete mass and neither are they interested in austere and cheap environments that try to look expensive as presented by the Williams Partnership. Both look suited to wannabe unsuitable underworld characters.

    These houses will be sold in no time at all for residential and the Williams Partnership are just out to make a quick buck off Wales. The government don’t know their arse from their elbow when it comes down to tourism.

    If Wales wants to attract people with bucks to spend they have to protect traditional housing and the way people ‘live’ – people with money look for an authentic experience. They can buy what ever they want – what they cant buy is the warmth of real people when they need a break.

    The rows of caravans just make your country look like shit. They spell out very clearly what you feel your worth is and how you value what you have.

    Having talked to people in China, Japan, Russia the Emirates and the USA they hadn’t a clue what Wales has to offer and are bowled over by our farms, lovely hills, old buildings and historic houses. A whole industry is waiting to embrace this country but you wont get the real investors who will respect what we all love as residents until the ‘cheap shit heads’ are removed from the equation as you have in this article.

    Why is it that Scotland attracts such good tourism and the lake district – they value and protect what they have, period.

    New Zealand is another great case in point – their way of living has been protected, no big hotels, yet they have a fantastic tourist industry. The difference is you stay on farms and in peoples houses and they attracted funds to bring accommodation up to scratch and people have developed a new set of skills that help them make a nice income. Where did a lot of that money come from – the big investors who don’t need the complication of running large hotels and are happy making the money from the organised activities and flights. So can you have it both ways – of course.

    I have spent weeks riding up and down the welsh coast and into the small towns looking for good premises and in 80% of cases what do you find – a bloody cheap caravan site (not all of them) round the corner or some ‘alternatives occupying OPD or involved in unlawful development’ shitting up land.

    This labour government does you no favours, where ever you live in Wales.

    As to this investment company in America they are nothings – period, stop wasting your time on them and get some real ‘industry’ people here to help you. They will drive out the trash like they do everywhere they go – all you have to do is ask. Take back your country and keep supporting Jac he makes good sense.

    •  

      Good point Stanley…

      New Zealand specifically has legislation to discourage caravans, and static caravan plantations are almost non-existent. They do however, have legislation to encourage motorhomes, especially the rental market. This policy has a number of advantages..

      (a) Motorhome rental yards are in the big cities, derive an income on brownfield sites and are usually run in arrangement with local garages/bus operators for maintenance purposes.
      (b) In the rural areas the vehicles are only present in the landscape while the tourist is in occupancy. When the tourist moves on, so does the landscape blot.
      (c) Farmers are able to provide ‘hard standing’ pitches with water, sewage drains and electric to cater for them so are able to obtain ancillary income from them without having permanent plantations.
      (d) Those who hire motorhomes have to purchase supplies within the communities they visit and do not arrive ‘pre-stocked’, thus supporting indigenous retail.
      (e) To hire a motorhome you have to have the ‘experience class clean driving license’ so it prevents arseholes and chavs arriving in the countryside or at the seaside.
      (f) Heritage sites also have hard-standing pitches so derive a higher 24/7 parking income within season, so don’t need public subsidy.
      (g) Motorhome companies have discounted ‘long period rental deals’ which encourages elongation of the stay and this greater spend per person per trip.
      (h) It’s better for the environment as motorhome rental usually means ‘car sharing’ as there is multi-occupancy. Also, New Zealanders don’t run a big engine car all year just to be able to tow a caravan on bank holidays.
      (i) If any area becomes ‘swamped’ the traffic commissioner can close off specific areas with designation (seasonal height barriers) on lanes to sites under pressure.
      (j) Vehicle tax on motorhomes in New Zealand goes to their local authority or parks authority on South Island, and is used to maintain roads, public toilets and facilities in the rural areas concerned.

      Every year there is a ‘motorhome war’ in Aberystwyth, near the prom. It usually involves a fight between the Dutch (motorhomers) and Brummies (retirement home owners) who claim the presence of a motorhomes are ruining their view of the sea. The reality is the motorhome moves on after a few days and pays more to the council in parking fees than the English settler pays in council tax for the whole year.

    •  

      Let me state quite clearly that I have no fundamental ideological or other opposition to tourism.

      But it must be tasteful, it must bring the maximum benefits (in per-head spend), it must cause the minimum of cultural and environmental damage, and most important of all, Welsh people be the clear beneficiaries and as much of the tourist spend as possible must remain in Wales.

  2.  

    Jac

    With regard to leasehold reform, I wrote to the minister and she confirmed she is committed to stamping out the sale of leasehold properties, except in exceptional circumstances. She describes such circumstances, as say, Mill Bay Homes Ltd in Pembrokeshire selling shared ownership properties for their parent company Ateb (previously known as Pembrokeshire Housing). In the case of Ateb, in Pembrokeshire, they would own the lease until such a time, if ever, the buyer obtained a 100% share of the property.

    The commitment to stamp out leasehold ownership, for new developments in Wales, is voluntary, for some reason a statuory approach was not taken. The link below, to the relevant section of the WG website, summarises the voluntary approach and therefore, there is nothing, in the case of Natural Retreats or whatever they are called, to prevent them doing what the hell they like. In fact there is nothing to prevent them applying unscrupulous lease terms that the UK Goverment are trying to prevent.

    https://gov.wales/about/cabinet/cabinetstatements/2018/leaseholdreform/?lang=en

    •  

      I get the impression that the ‘Welsh’ Government started out making the right noises but now when they realise how complicated leasehold is, and who’s involved, that they’re backtracking.

  3.  

    Cyngor Gwynedd and its planners don’t seem to know [..] who they’re dealing with.
    From memory of four years’ hard on a planning committee, I think that is irrelevant. Anybody and his dog can apply for planning permission, whether or not they have an interest in the site. Of course, in practice only someone who would benefit from a development would put up the fee, but the committee must judge each application on its own merits. Where a big organisation is involved, that is all they can do, because the former usually operate through agents who do not disclose the name of their client.

  4.  

    As you are no doubt aware Jac it can be difficult to keep track of various amendments to planning permissions as conditions are discharged or partially discharged. On new planning applications, post 16 March 2016, the process should be easier following change in legislation in Wales that requires a “living” decision notice to be issued. The latest version of the decision notice should therefore incorporate details of all conditions discharged [or partially discharged] and all approved amendments. You only therefore need to examine one document. Copy below from my notes should help to explain.

    ‘Living’ Decision Notices (16th March 2016)
    At present, applicants / agents are notified that details submitted to discharge a condition are acceptable via a letter. The new requirements will mean that each time a condition is discharged or reserved matter approved the decision notice must be updated and re-issued stating the date any amendments/updates were made. This change is intended to make it easier to keep abreast with the progress of the discharge of conditions or changes made to a planning decision notice. The change will only apply to decision notices issued after 16 March 2016 (not retrospectively).

    •  

      That might make things easier. But in this case at Pistyll, by chipping away bit by bit the developers managed to get what they would never have been allowed in an initial application.

      I think I’ll try to get my idea adopted about clear identification of applicants, because as things stand and agent can be used – architect, builder or whatever – and nobody knows who’s really behind it. This cannot be right.

    •  

      Notes below found in Google search.

      Using the wrong name on application form

      R (On the application of Park Pharmacy Trust) v Plymouth City Council and Emeris Coolart Ltd (Interested Party)
      [2008] EWHC 445 (Admin)

      Summary

      A mistake in identifying the correct applicant for planning permission on the application form did not invalidate the application.

      Facts

      The claimant applied for judicial review of the Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a residential development. The ground of challenge was that the application form did not correctly identify the applicant. It was identified as being “Emeris Coolart Ltd” whereas in fact the interested party consisted of two individual companies, “Emeris Ltd” and “Coolart Ltd”, acting in a joint venture for the purpose of the housing development.

      C contended that there had been no properly constituted application for planning permission as the application form did not properly identify the applicant.

      Held

      The court held that it was important that an application for planning permission correctly identified the applicant so that the relevant local authority knew with whom it had to deal. This was primarily for purely practical matters such as being able to communicate with an applicant through correspondence.

      However, it was noted that as a matter of principle, the identification of an applicant for planning permission could be regarded as irrelevant except, for example, where a personal planning permission had been sought.

      The reason for this is because the task of a local authority is to consider the merits of the planning application before it. In the present case no issue in relation to the identity of the applicant for planning permission arose and in any event the application form clearly identified the interested party’s agent. Therefore he could have been contacted to clarify any uncertainties that arose.

      The court rejected this challenge as the Council had considered the merits of the application and on the facts of the case no-one had been prejudiced by the name that had been stated on the application form.

      •  

        I don’t see how it can be argued that the identity of the applicant is irrelevant when it could have all kinds of implications.

        What if the applicant was married to a member of the planning committee deciding on the application. If the committee member was sure that the spouse’s identity would not be revealed then he/she would need to declare an interest.

        Or, a planning committee member could make the application him/herself under a false name.

        No, the identity of the applicant must be known to those considering the application. Or at the very least, the identity must be established to the satisfaction of a senior officer, though there are obvious pitfalls with that option.

        •  

          There is obviously a need for a change in primary legislation in Wales to prevent this happening. In cases where the planning application for industrial units is in the false name of Dai Blogs when the real applicant is Pennsylvania Fracking Inc would be material in the consideration.

          It would also remove the need for tinkering stuff like ‘ban plastic straw’ legislation. In reality if you grant planning permission for a McDonalds you should expect when planning permission to be granted, to have your town trashed. The business ethics of the applicant is always material to the planning consideration.

  5.  

    Jac, the Welsh must first decide what they want and once they’ve done that get together and tell the Government to go to hell. You own the land. The money they give to idiots like the Williams couple must cease.

    The days of wanting crappy plastic ‘hotels’, false art and relaxing in uncomfortable antique furniture are long, long gone. People with money can always attract the false – thats one thing they aren’t short of. Do the Williams dick heads really think people are going to be inspired to spend their cash to come to a place like that – hell no. Locals might go for a good nose, but find £500 – £600 a night to be bloody uncomfortable – they wont. Look at the industry news they are living in an age that went decades ago. And the bloody Welsh Tourist Board are as stupid as they are.

    Investors dont want things spoilt because if you get mass of anything it lowers prices. They know that smart investment keeps people off the cheap AirBnB and forms a partnership to get what your assets are worth.

    Look at every area that first protects its ‘jewels’ and then goes out for tourism – it works. If the money is ‘true’ and ‘authentic’ for all it works – and you pick up the vibes. How many do you hear having crappy holidays in New Zealand or parts of Canada (where they have maximum protection of an area). You don’t and traditions are honoured.

    You limit the number of motorhomes that come in – they pay the local community a fee for the experience. Or you ban them and they have to hire.

    Ive seen investors from all over the World, taken tourism into to many countries to mention, along with changing laws to protect communities. Only idiots want their culture destroyed by tourists. So you control the numbers by controlling the development and you limit the facilities. Most of all any form of tourism has to first bring pleasure to your community and be something they would use or see the point of.

  6.  

    Strange that an OAP from Tywyn can unearth in a few hours of research what salaried professionals cannot fathom in months. Well done Jac.

    The ‘Afan Experience’, and ‘Glynllifon Project, as with the “Plas Pistyll site” are not tourist investments. They are land banking speculation ventures. Various companies with odd relationships to each other that are set up, and then morph their names, change roles and are designed to create a smokescreen of investment. They are a way of getting round planning restrictions so that certain players can develop residential properties, either for themselves or to parcel up land for speculation where they derive an income from leaseholds or ‘time share cabins’.

    A ‘quality resort investment’ at these locations will involve £100-150m capital. That’s the kind of capital that would be required for a quality resort. This will be found in major companies, often international and will be PLC where the capital is raised openly on the stock market. It is not done by skulking around with dodgy Dave from Droitwich who has a maxed out credit card and a fake Porche.

    In each case the local authority has failed to do it’s research. The problem is that ‘senior officers in local government’ have no experience in the private sector and cannot spot a scam. Perhaps they are motivated by councillors (and third rate government ministers) who want an ‘investment soundbite’ at election time. In Gwynedd we see to examples of crass naivety. In Pembrokeshire we see a Travelodge dressed up at the Ritz. In the south we see Butlins on Afan. The only ‘tourist area’ where the local authority a bit more nuance because we see the Chief Executive himself delve into the property spec market for his own gains having spotted how such scams work.

    It’s a product of devolution.
    Lack of oversight and legislative competence.

    Sit in the public gallery of the Scottish parliament and you can spot the entrepreneur, the fish factor, the oilrig engineer, the steel fabricator, the croft manager, and the gillie. Sit in the public gallery of our Senedd and all you’ll see is third sector advisors, students who’ve never done a proper job, an overweight GP, a few former journalists for the BBC, and a smattering of middle management failures. A Labour party of no workers, a Tory Party of no business background, and a nationalist party of third sector oddballs.

    That is what needs to change.

  7.  

    You’re right, Brychan, sadly. But even with the paltry powers available under the current devolution settlement, I see no reason why Senedd legislation can’t be introduced by a future Welsh Government to curtail the property-based wheeler-dealing of these cloak-and-dagger merchants from over the dyke who’ve been taking the piss out of Cymru for years.

    If Adam Price (assuming he wins the PC leadership election) takes this and related matters on board, then Plaid Cymru could sweep the board in much of the North in 2021 if they put their ishoos aside for one minute. The info provided by Jac in this and the ‘Weep for Wales’ posts would, in any normal country, be a gift for a political party groping around for a cause that actually matters. What are they afraid of?

    I hope you’re reading this, Adam, because if Plaid don’t pick this up and run with it, somebody else will. Cue, Ein Gwlad.

    •  

      I suspect Ein Gwlad have already picked up on this and umpteen other deviant behaviours that have been overlooked by our lazy elected politicians, but as yet without elected representatives of their own they rank as a pressure group/latent political party rather than an established party with a presence at representative forums, or fora for those of a pernickety tendency.

      You think that Adam Price or Rhun ab Iorwerth are more likely than Leanne Wood to sink their teeth into “tasty” matters such as these ? – well don’t hold your breath. I have yet to see any evidence that those 2 have any more motivation in that direction. Adam has bounced back and forth between high and low taxation “solutions”, Rhun has shown little appetite for addressing head-on the Wylfa nuclear issue, and the entire population of the political marshland called Y Cynulliad do not appear the least bit interested in following up any of the recent disclosures that have come from this site with one honourable exception.

      As a fairly neutral dispassionate sort I don’t expect our political representatives to buy into Jac’s analysis and conclusions unconditionally. But we are not seeing any evidence that anyone has got off his/her fat arse over the summer to a) slap some civil servants around the head for their multiple failures in scrutinizing pre-investment, and monitoring progress of said investments once under way. and b) initiating extensive reviews of assorted failures to extract some real remedial actions and performance improvement without resorting to the old “lessons learnt” cliches and arse-covering yarns.

      •  

        I apologise for my naiive optimism, Dafis, it was said more in hope than expectation. It might be on the local government front that Ein Gwlad can make better inroads, and certainly, if as a pressure group they started lobbying Gwynedd councillors it might get some of the latter to take the above issues seriously and introduce greater scrutiny of planning applications.

        It’s also down to the natives to start objecting. A London firm of property speculators, Liberty Properties, wanted to concrete over several large fields in my village near the border in order to build unwanted housing several years ago but were defeated by people power and an alert community council.

        If the honourable exception you mention is Neil McEvoy, he’s been stirring the hornet’s nest in Cardiff recently, with lots of popular support. They need a North Wales version of him to wake up the gogs.

        •  

          McEvoy clones in NorthWest, NorthEast, SouthWest, would be a good start.

          Can’t understand why so many politicians stay dumb when they have so much information presented on a plate. And stirring up an investigation into one case often leads to better insight on other matters – bit like picking at a hole in an old pullover ! Even all those grey suits must have holes in them somewhere.

    •  

      You mention Plaid Cymru. When Sean Rees was democratically selected for stand for Plaid as a candidate in Llanelli, he was banned from doing so by Stalin Ffred Jones, so that Mari Arthur could be parachuted in. He issued a press release to say that “Sean Rees was young and inexperienced without the right qualifications”. By qualification he meant a degree in Politics or History, because Plaid Cymru does not consider businessmen, farmers, shop floor workers, colliers, fitters or electricians as being ‘suitable’ to be candidates for Plaid Cymru.

  8.  

    Tweets today deserve response :

    That trans bloke>bird obviously still driven by nerve ends in his cock. So off with his frock and let him face the music. female victims deserve no less.
    More evidence that Housing Associations are malfunctioning badly. Not enough margin in rehousing genuinely needy folk from their own catchment so they broaden their territory and start shipping in all sorts of deviants to pick up any premiums attaching to serious cases ( higher rents ? ) and other rehabilitation funds ( possibly transfer fees ?) Time to round up the major offenders and sack the buggers, give someone else a crack at doing these jobs properly and if that fails revert to direct control by the local government departments whose job it was a few decades ago.
    While on a theme of unfitness for purpose drag the buffoons in leadership roles at NRW down to the mud in the Channel and shove them into it face down repeatedly over a 24 hour period. If they are still adamant that the shite from Somerset is harmless give them a free pass back to England but no future employment in Wales.
    Deviant do-good organisations purporting to be driven by their social conscience need to face up to the damage they are doing to communities. Enabling richer metropolitan England to dilute their poverty issues by shipping surplus claimants to outer regions including Wales is damaging on so many counts. If England wishes to gentrify large dollops of its inner cities it should evolve policies to lift people out of poverty not expel them to far flung corners of its regions ( and colonies ! )

  9.  

    Unfortunately, there are some ‘female evangelists’ who find guilt by accusation. While it’s evident this transexual has committed crimes prior to transition (she’s in jail) this does not make her guilty of subsiquent accusations. That will be for the court to decide. It may well be that the accusations are false. An attempt by other prisoners to get a bit of compo. Most assaults in womens prisons are women on women attacks, and a proportion of these are false accusations.

    •  

      But assaults are bound to be women on women in a women’s prison. Surely the question here is how was a man – no matter what he might wish to be – put into a women’s prison. It would appear that the prison service or even HMG now accepts self-identification.

      So if you start barking during sentencing will you be put in a dogs’ home?

      •  

        I never avoid the issue, have no loyalty to HMG, or bow to fake feminists.

        The real claim is that some male sex-offending criminals have attempted to exploit gender-change rules both in custody and at liberty, for harmful and illegitimate purposes and that others are likely to attempt to do so in future. For those at liberty conviction can only be made on the facts of the case. However, the following considerations have to be made for those sent to prison.

        Opportunity. Clearly absent in a male prison, clearly enhanced in a female prison.
        Ability. Clearly absent after assignment surgery. Clearly diminished by hormone therapy.
        Motive. This can only be measured by offending history

        All three have to be present for offending. It is for this reason I support the Scottish (and Scandic) approach, that all transgender inmates must have a ‘case conference’ review for risk assessment thus applying OAM. Unfortunately, Wales is subject to the English imposition, a prison estate colony, and is not allowed to choose this route.

        If either one of Opportunity, Ability, Motive is missing, the crime is absent. That test needs to apply. It isn’t, due to the English prison system is failing. Blaming transsexuals for what they are is avoiding the issue and risks creating victims elsewhere.

        .-.-.-

        If you start barking you should be sent to the asylum. As these don’t exist anymore, you get ‘care in the community’ which results in elongated suffering of the barker and more victims of the barked at. For those who bark, it may well be that compulsory work in a dogs home will help. That’s called community sentencing.

  10.  

    How ironic that the Welsh Government is given total control over planning when it comes to promoting or facilitating settler-acquisition of plots of rural Welsh land so that Surrey types can play at being smallholders, but has no authority to prevent the Planning Inspectorate from sanctioning mass housebuilding for English commuters in North-East Wales and Gwent.

    The decision a few months ago to back down from a large housebuilding project in Bangor in the face of local concerns about the impact on the Welsh language was made by the Planning Inspectorate, not the Welsh Government.

    •  

      Planning has an ideological thread running through it like the letters in a stick of rock. At every turn, the system is biased in favour of development, regardless of the local community’s views. It’s a one-way street.

      The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) applies national policy, which in Cymru comes in two forms. Either it’s a duplicate of the English policy, or it uses Cymru as a controlled laboratory for approaches whose effects might be too wide-ranging to risk untested in England.

      The ‘W’G needs to do two things. It needs to take PINS in-house, breaking all links with the Bristol HQ. This may be difficult, as PINS has a quasi-judicial role, hence why it still has its Englandandwales basis. Better still, abolish the role altogether and allow elected councils to make their own decisions free of nannying: any real abuse of process could still be challenged, in court on a point of law, just not through the bureaucracy on policy grounds. The other thing that’s needed is to decide what national policies, if any, are really necessary and then to make them work for Wales. Please don’t hold your breath over that.

      If Bae Caerdydd isn’t allowed to micro-manage local affairs then it might have to raise its sights to questions of really national importance – and that would be treading on UK Labour’s toes. I suspect the Bae types get a thrill out of acting colonially towards the peripheries because it distracts them from the fact of their own colonisation by the UK party machine. Big fleas have little fleas, and all that.

      •  

        unfortunate analogy that, David, about the fleas as the most reliable treatment of fleas is to kill them all, and those fleas down the Bay don’t like the thought of blokes like us going down there on an eradication programme !

  11.  

    jac tweets – “Last night, somewhere online, I saw a piece about Carwyn Jones predicting a botched Brexit will increase support for Welsh independence. Then the piece seemed to vanish. Anybody else see it?”

    No Jac, but I didn’t have that most welcome bottle of Malbec either ! so you may have an insight that the rest of us don’t have. I sincerely hope so.

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