OUR STORY BEGINS IN PRESTEIGNE . . .
I am indebted to an anonymous source for the basis of the tale youâ€™re about to read. Iâ€™ve contributed some supplementary digging and a number of interpretations. The original information I received was also sent to a couple of police forces, a number of media outlets, and other agencies, but I doubt if any will act on the information, so itâ€™s up to Jac to extend his scrawny old neck, again.
Let the story begin in the pleasant little border town of Presteigne. To be even more specific, in the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, a half-timbered building dating back to the 16th century.
As told to me . . . this establishment was bought in 2006, or thereabouts, by a Paul Steven Williams for a price close to Â£400,000. It was then leased to a succession of tenants at an unreasonably high rent, with the predictable result that none of the tenants was able to make a go of it.
The last of these unfortunates seems to have been Gianni Roberto dâ€™Aniello of Cora Berry Hotels Ltd. A company registered in January 2014 at the Radnorshire Arms, and put into the hands of Cardiff liquidators in November of that same year.
But then! when all seemed lost, this by now neglected building was sold in August 2015 for the princely (and surprising) sum of Â£3,487,049 to Leisure and Development Ltd, a company with an address in nearby Knighton. A company Incorporated only a few months earlier on 19 January 2015.
And it wasnâ€™t just the Radnorshire Arms that was bought by the new company, for in June and July 2015 Leisure and Development Ltd went on a spending spree and acquired seven properties, with another two added in February 2016, one of them the Beaufort Sports and Social Club in Ebbw Vale. (To see them all click on the â€˜Chargesâ€™ tab of the Companies House entry Iâ€™ve just linked to.)
The founding directors of Leisure and Development Ltd were Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams. The charge referring to a loan from NatWest Bank suggests that the property had been transferred to Mrs Williams prior to the sale to Leisure and Development Ltd; but whichever of them owned the Radnorshire Arms they effectively sold it to themselves at a greatly inflated price.
Something that struck me about Leisure and Development Ltd was the number of changes of address in such a short time. Incorporated January 2015 with an address at the Knighton Hotel, Broad Street, Knighton; then in February 2016 to just over the border in Craven Arms; in February 2017 the company re-crossed the border from Craven Arms to Plas Glynllifon, Caernarfon; and finally, in April 2018, it moved back to Craven Arms.
Thereâ€™ll be more on Plas Glynllifon and other properties in north Gwynedd later. They canâ€™t be ignored because Plas Glynllifon Ltd now owns all the shares in Leisure and Development Ltd, and Iâ€™m sure you donâ€™t need me to tell you who the directors are of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Though they have ceased to be directors of Leisure and Development Ltd.
But the Williamses still own Leisure and Development Ltd through their ownership of Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Itâ€™s one way of operating â€“ set up a company, then set up another company, resign from the first company but retain ownership through the second, then set up a third company, resign from the second, and so ad infinitum.
The person now nominally in charge of the Leisure and Development Ltd portfolio, named on the Companies House website as â€œperson with significant controlâ€� from 30 April 2018, is Keith Harvey Partdridge. An interesting character, Partdridge, of whom more in a short while.
Though I suspect that spelling may be a recent affectation, if not a mis-spelling, because he has previously been known by the more usual spelling of Partridge. As in Museums (Norfolk) Ltd and Health Choice Hotels Ltd, both of which appear to be dormant.
Another example of Partridgeâ€™s business acumen, or perhaps his probity, may be found with Turnholly Ltd, owing over two hundred thousand pounds to various creditors.
SO WHOâ€™S WHO AND HOW ARE THEY CONNECTED?
Well, weâ€™ve met Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams, and Iâ€™ve also introduced their business partner Keith Harvey Partridge. And as I suggested earlier, Partridge has a colourful past.
From 1992 to 1997 he owned the Midlands Motor Museum in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. But towards the end of 1999 he was jailed for stealing a Bentley Azure worth over a quarter of a million pounds. In March 2008 his home was up for sale with an asking price of Â£2,000,000.
But the Williamses are no paragons of good business practice either. Despite being repeatedly warned they carried on advertising the Radnorshire Arms as having AA and Visit Wales ratings, until they were eventually fined Â£1,250 with Â£4,250 costs.
(Incidentally, let me make it clear that despite the name the Williamses are not Welsh. They describe themselves as English on documents submitted to Companies House.)
In terms of companies, so far weâ€™ve encountered Leisure and Development Ltd and Plas Glynllifon Ltd, plus some of Partridgeâ€™s solo ventures. Now itâ€™s time to list a few others, without I hope causing too much confusion.
Paul and Rowena Williams were directors of Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd, also listed among the directors was their company Leisure and Development Ltd (which bought the Radnorshire Arms Hotel). Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd is now run by their associate Michael Adrian Jones, with his address given as Polvellan House in Cornwall.
On April 1 Jones â€“ who owns all the shares since they were transferred to him from Leisure and Development Ltd â€“ made an application for Rural Retreats and Leisure UK Ltd to be voluntarily struck off, but someone objected and the strike-off has been suspended.
I understand that Rowena Williams was outraged on finding that some scallywag had pinned the notification to the front door of the Radnorshire Arms.
A similarly named company is Rural Retreats and Development Ltd, of which Paul and Rowena Williams are both still directors. Former directors were Debra Yvonne Oswald, Paul Williamsâ€™ sister, and Polvellan Manor Ltd. There are a number of Charges against this company for loans and mortgages, including one against the Fronoleu Country Hotel at Tabor, just outside Dolgellau.
The mortgages, or more likely second mortgages, are with Together Commercial Finance Ltd, which seems to offer the commercial equivalent of pay day loans to those who find it difficult to raise money anywhere else.
Turning to Partridge, since his release from prison he has formed a number of companies called Coast2Coast. Thereâ€™s Coast2Coast Land Ltd, Coast2Coast Shores Ltd, Coast2Coast Developments Ltd, Coast2Coast Resorts Ltd, and Coast2Coast Care Ltd. The last of them is now dissolved but was formerly known as Coast2Coast Leisure, with Gwynedd directors following the change of name.
I find this last entry intriguing because it suggests an attempt by Partridge to break into the granny farming racket in Gwynedd.
WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT TOURISM?
Plas Glynllifon has a chequered recent history. You may recall a few years ago someone trying to market it as â€˜Wynnbornâ€™. That previous owner was Gavin Lee Woodhouse, a spiv from Yorkshire. I wrote about Woodhouse in English Tourism in the Colony of Wales and Colonial Investments. (Paula and Rowena Williams also got a mention.)
After pissing people off in Caernarfon with his insulting â€˜Wynnbornâ€™ nonsense Woodhouse seems to have sold out to the Williamses and turned his gaze south. After linking up with Bore Grylls and then â€“ to give the project some credibility â€“ Peter Moore, former MD of Center Parcs, he unveiled the Afan Valley Adventure Resort.
Quite an ambitious undertaking for a man who was then six million quid in debt, but the â€˜Welshâ€™ Government gave the trio everything they wanted â€“ land, planning permission, infrastructure, money, you name it.
Itâ€™s impossible to know what the future holds for the four properties around Caernarfon, we can only be guided by the record of those who now own these fine old buildings. And that record is not encouraging.
A FEW WORRYING FACTS
Since April 16 the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne has been closed. On Monday 16 April staff were told by Paul Williams that Leisure and Development Ltd â€“ comprising seven pubs, hotels, restaurants â€“ had been sold to Coast2Coast and was being â€˜re-brandedâ€™.
In other words, convicted thief Keith Harvey Partridge had somehow managed to raiseâ€œmore than Â£10 million poundsâ€� Williams claimed the deal was worth. Partridge whose companies are either in debt or mere shells.
On Sunday April 22 Partridge appeared in person at the Radnorshire Arms to tell staff that all the companyâ€™s establishments would be closed for 6 â€“ 8 weeks for refurbishment. Staff were being laid off but could reapply for their jobs later. Over 70 staff were affected.
Nothing has since been done to the Radnorshire Arms, and no planning permission application submitted. The building has instead been gutted and left to decay. There are broken windows and slates have fallen into the street. This, remember, is a 16th century, Grade II listed building.
In saying that the Radnorshire Arms has been â€œguttedâ€�, what I mean is that it has been stripped of everything that can be sold off. The panel below is taken from the latest accounts for Leisure & Development Ltd submitted to Companies House at the end of April. Or rather, the unaudited financial statement.
Youâ€™ll see that between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2018 almost seven million pounds worth of plant and machinery plus fixtures and fittings somehow slipped off the balance sheet. Leaving the companies assets confined to freehold property, in other words, mere structures, decaying structures, all of them mortgaged and re-mortgaged, and perhaps overvalued.
Earlier I mentioned Polvellan Manor in West Looe, Cornwall, now owned by Polvellan Manor Ltd. On April 1 Paul and Rowena Williams transferred the 5000 shares they each owned to Keith Partdridge. They ceased to be directors on the same day, leaving Partdridge in sole control.
Polvellan Manor is another fine building that has been gutted and left to rot by Paul Williams, Rowena Williams, Keith Partridge and the rest of the gang. Cornwall Live featured Polvellan Manor in March this year, when it was listed among, â€œ23 derelict buildings in Cornwall at risk of disappearing foreverâ€�.
Paul Holden, chair of the Cornish Buildings Group, told the CL reporter, â€œWe have applied unsuccessfully to get the building listed, the rejection notice said that much of the historic interior had been lost.â€� I wonder where the interior could have gone? Did it just walk out the door?
Weâ€™ve seen that Polvellan Manor is closed, stripped and neglected. The Fronoleu Country Hotel, just outside Dolgellau, is also closed. So is the Beaufort Sports and Social Club in Ebbw Vale. I guarantee that most if not all of the properties owned by this gang are closed. What sort of business can this be?
And hereâ€™s a thought . . . has anyone from Cyngor Gwynedd or the â€˜Welshâ€™ Government been inside Plas Glynllifon lately?
Another thought; by stripping and neglecting these building the gang is almost certainly breaking the conditions of the loans and mortgages, the conditions that insist these buildings be properly maintained and looked after. Intact.
COUNT THE SPOONS!
Youâ€™ll have noticed that Paul and Rowena Williams and their sidekick Partridge buy property almost indiscriminately, and then they just strip them to the bare bones and let the buildings deteriorate.
This is because they have no interest in actually running hotels. The racket is to buy a property, with a loan or a mortgage; announce a big investment, lots of jobs; then strip the building of anything valuable; sell it on within the gang at an inflated price (or simply transfer it); dissolve indebted companies; pull down whatever grants are available, use these grants and new loans to service old loans; while paying yourself handsomely behind this fog of deceit.
With all the debts accrued, this is a house of cards. Collapse must surely be imminent.
Consequently, to have any dealings with these people would be foolish. To give them money would be insane. And yet, this is what Iâ€™m told has happened, and probably explains why theyâ€™ve moved their operations to Wales. For itâ€™s claimed the gang has already received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the â€˜Welshâ€™ Government, with more in the pipeline.
I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to Visit Wales, but I have already been told that the Radnorshire Arms received a grant of Â£370,000, plus a smaller grant; while the Knighton Hotel (formerly Norton Hotel) received an ever larger grant.
God knows how much theyâ€™re getting, or anticipate getting, from their foray into Gwynedd.
In case anyone is in doubt, let me make it absolutely clear: These people are liars, chisellers, scammers, asset-strippers, con men, crooks; so cut off all public funding immediately and demand repayment of what they have already received; insist on a thorough inspection of the buildings they â€˜ownâ€™; and then refer them to the police.
Weep for Wales that we keep attracting people like these, scavengers drawn to a fallen beast. A once noble beast brought down by a colonial system that will always favour strangers, and exploitation; a system that will never encourage native initiative lest it gives us ideas about our place in the great scheme of things.
This system, and those who promote and operate it, must be swept away. Do that and I wonâ€™t have to write about Paul and Rowena Williams, Keith Partridge, Bore Grylls, Gavin Woodhouse and the occupying army of which they are just a small detachment.
â™¦ end â™¦