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Via @jacothenorth

BIKE PARK WALES AKA PARC BEICIO CYMRU LTD

In the natural world parents must come before children, how could it be otherwise?

But in the world of what passes for business in Wales, by which I mean ‘private’ companies heavily reliant on public money, things can be different. Take the Merthyr Mountain Biking Centre, for example. Well, that’s the name by which everybody knows it, or else BikePark Wales, yet it’s registered with Companies House as Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd, even though there’s not a word of Welsh on the website.

I never cease to be amazed at how many third sector bodies almost entirely staffed by natives of a neighbouring country give themselves Welsh names those running the show can’t pronounce. Or, more sinisterly, bodies getting oodles of public money and known to the world by an English name register themselves with Companies House or the Charity Commission with the Welsh translation of that name. This sleight-of-name can only be done to make it difficult for public-minded citizens like what I am to help the ‘Welsh’ Government keep track on how public money is spent.

As far as I could make out when I previously looked at BikePark Wales (scroll right down) it was a company owned by two husband and wife/partner teams and a New Zealander, the venture situated on land leased from the ‘Welsh’ Government (through Natural Resources Wales). These people also seemed to have their own companies that dovetailed neatly with the publicly-funded Bike Park Wales. (A relationship from which they no doubt profited.)

Who gave Bike Park Wales the authority to fine Welsh people for ‘trespassing’ on publicly-owned Welsh land? And who vets the “marshalls” (sic) recruited to their private police force?

I say ‘was’ run by these people because the whole shebang underwent a massive upheaval over the Christmas period, all starting on December 21st.

On that date three directors parted company with Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd leaving only Martin Astley and Rowan John Sorrell in place, but more significantly, on the same day the company was taken over by BikePark Holdings Ltd, which is now the parent company, even though it was only Incorporated with Companies House on 5 October 2017.

Astley and Sorrell are also directors of this new parent company along with Keith Pacey, Tom Spencer and Simon Paul Stephenson.

The Yuletide upheavals may be linked to entries on the Companies House website under the ‘Filing History’ tab. These suggest that incorrect information had originally been supplied to Companies House and perhaps when this became known (to the ‘Welsh’ Government? Companies House?) a new holding company was hastily formed.

So how does the information found on the new forms I mention differ from the information originally submitted to Companies House?

Let’s consider the older form first; this being the Annual Return made up to 29 May 2011 with full list of shareholders”. The difference between the 2011 original and the 2017 “second filing” is shown in the panel below I cobbled together from the two forms.

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I find it difficult to believe that anyone could make a mistake over how many of just 100 shares were held by each of only four directors.

Keeping to chronological order, on 11 January 2013 there was a sizeable share issue and this explains the allocation we’ll look at next. Again, with a panel compiled from the original submission and its correction.

The original return of May 2013 was signed by Anna Walters, the correction of 23 January 2018 by Astley.

click to enlarge

The amended form sees a new shareholder, this being Back-on-Track Mountain Bike Solutions Ltd, holding 2,795 shares. So who or what is Back-on-Track? Companies House tell us it’s a company based in Pontypool, Incorporated March 2008, and its sole shareholder is Rowan Sorrell.

The two directors of this company are Sorrell and Elizabeth Alexandra Sorrell (formerly Scaife). And for a husband and wife outfit the company is in rude financial health, with total assets less current liabilities for 2017 of £494,952.

If we tot up the shares of Sorrell, Scaife-Sorrell and their company it comes mighty close to the majority shareholding in Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd shown in the document we looked at earlier. But that still leaves the question – why was Back-on-Track Mountain Bike Solutions Ltd left off the document submitted in 2011? I ask because in a small company like Parc Beicio Cymru those involved must know who the shareholders are and how many shares they hold.

Though the figures still don’t add up. The share issue of January 2013 talks of 46,536 ordinary shares being “in issue”. The first document, of May 2013 accounts for just 43,795, but with Back-on-Track added the total comes to 46,590, which of course exceeds the stated issue by 54 shares.

This extra 54 shares seems to be explained in this document, issued long after the shares it refers to had been allocated.

BIKEPARK HOLDINGS LTD

Now we return to the newly-hatched parent company, BikePark Holdings Ltd. Who exactly have Sorrell and Astley shacked up with? We certainly know their names: Thomas Anthony John Spencer, Simon Paul Stephenson and Keith Pacey.

If we turn to the Filing history tab of BikePark Holdings, and the ‘Written Resolution’, we see that the new parent company of Beic Parcio Cymru is linked with BCF Ventures Ltd, a company belonging to Tom Spencer and Simon Stephenson.

Companies House tells us that BCF Ventures Ltd is based in Peterborough, in eastern England, and it was Incorporated 5 October 2015. In June 2017 it filed accounts for a dormant company showing just the two shares issued, both held by Spencer.

So BCF Ventures Ltd seems to have done little or nothing before linking up with Parc Beicio Cymru Ltd to form BikePark Holdings Ltd.

Going back to and moving down the Written Resolution we see that Rowan Sorrell and Martin Astley are listed as ‘Managers’.

Which leaves just Keith Pacey, who is well known to the business world, seemingly specialising in mergers and buy-outs. Here’s his Bloomberg profile. He is non-executive chairman of Places for People Leisure, which would seem a good fit for Merthyr Bike Park.

Information courtesy of Bloomberg, click to enlarge

Pacey is clearly the director with the money in BikePark Holdings Ltd. Confirmed by going back to the Companies House website and checking through the charges (debts or obligations).

But first, let’s consider the charges against the original company, Parc Beicio Cymru Ltd. There are no fewer than seven outstanding. These charges belong to Allied Irish Bank, Welsh Ministers, Finance Wales, plus Kevin Pacey and a debenture held by former director Ian Campbell Officer who left 21 December 2017. And two months later set up Wye Mountain Biking Ltd.

The charge held by Pacey is in the form of a Guarantee and Debenture in relation to £3,787,308. The same amount appears in relation to a charge listed against BikePark Holdings Ltd.

Moving on to BikePark Holdings Ltd we see, in addition to the charge held by Pacey, one against Welsh Ministers and one against Allied Irish Bank. So clearly, the ‘Welsh’ Government knows about Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd being taken over by BikePark Holdings Ltd . . . and presumably approves.

WHO? WHAT? WHY? WHEN?

Here are a few questions relating to events around Christmas time last year:

  1. Why did Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd submit two corrected documents to Companies House?
  2. Who discovered the errors in the originals?
  3. Were those ‘errors’ genuine mistakes or attempts to deceive?
  4. Why did Ian Campbell Officer part company with Beic Parcio Cymru?
  5. Why did Beic Parcio Cymru need Spencer and Stephenson, and their hitherto dormant company BCF Ventures Ltd, seeing as the financial backing needed appears to come from Pacey?
  6. What exactly is the fresh money for?
  7. Is BikePark Holdings Ltd (or anyone else) buying the site from the ‘Welsh’ Government?
  8. Is BikePark Holdings raising money to renovate or expand its Merthyr operation?
  9. How deeply in debt are Beic Parcio Cymru Ltd and BikePark Holdings Ltd, and is the Welsh public purse in danger of having to cover debts incurred by either company?
  10. Is the ‘Welsh’ Government happy with recent developments, and how does it feel about those running this valuable asset being based further and further away from Wales?

‘WELSH’ TOURISM

It would be nice to think that the developments at Merthyr are an aberration, that English companies and individuals getting rich by exploiting Welsh assets is a rarity, but it’s not. Just a few miles from Merthyr as the crow flies the ‘Welsh’ Government is handing over another large tract of Welsh land to yet another bunch of spivs English company.

And this will all be done in the name of  “building the Welsh economy”.

Of course there’ll be jobs for locals . . . the kind of jobs that are always provided in colonial situations. But the money will flow east and the top jobs will go to people who’ve moved west. For us it’ll be: “Can you drive a lawnmower, Taff? . . . Can your girlfriend serve coffee? . . . Nice ass on her, bit of a go-er, is she? . . . Oi, careful, Dai – do you want the job or not?”

And things have got worse under devolution. Yes we’ve always been exploited by England, but I can remember when a boy could leave school with little in the way of skills or education and still get a well-paid job underground or in a factory, steel or tinplate works. A job that made him feel like a man among men.

Now, increasingly, all we’re offered is wiping wrinkly Saxon backsides and making our betters feel welcome in our country.

But this is how it must be under devolution run by a socialist-Unionist party. On the one hand Plaid Tlodi Cymru is incapable of creating jobs because your average Labour politician knows less about economics than he/she knows about Lithuanian poetry; and on the other hand – being control freaks – they’re terrified of a healthy economy, run by businessmen and entrepreneurs who’ll see through them, so we end with up a bloated and suffocating third sector run by Labour-supporting parasites.

And because the Wales Poverty Party is Unionist it must run Wales in the interests of England and the English. Which brings me back to the Merthyr Mountain Biking Centre, and the Afan Valley Resort, and Surf Snowdonia, and Bluestone, and all the rest.

‘Croeso!’

Has any word in any language in the whole history of the human race been so traduced and corrupted that it has lost all meaning? What should exude warmth, sincerity and hospitality is now just a robotic slogan stripped of all human emotion and often mouthed from behind a rictus smile.

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“Croeso, we hope you’ll like us . . . and we don’t mind if you take over our country . . . cos we’ve been conditioned to cringe like this . . . would you like me to say something in Welsh so you can laugh?”

Yeah, ‘Croeso’.

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