THE FALL OF JOHN ARTHUR JONES

September 16, 2016

rebecca_logo_04TODAY ONE of Anglesey’s most controversial figures was finally brought to book.

John Arthur Jones — disgraced council official and failed politician — was given an 18 months sentence for endangering RAF training jets.

Judge Geraint Walters told him he was a man driven by “arrogance”.

A jury had earlier found him guilty of 13 counts of shining bright lights into the cockpits of Hawk jets taking part in night manoeuvres at the Mona airfield.

The jets fly over Jones’ Parc Cefni business park next to his home in the village of Bodffordd near Llangefni.

The prison sentence is the climax of a saga that started more than thirty years ago.

For three decades John Arthur Jones ruthlessly exploited the council in his attempt to create a multi-million pound property empire.

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IN 2012 John Arthur Jones started a campaign against the RAF.

He objected to jets from RAF Valley using the Mona Airfield near his business park for night exercises.

Valley is home to the RAF’s 208 Squadron which uses Hawk jets to train fighter pilots.

Mona has been used by the RAF for more than a century.

Jones’ Parc Cefni business park, which also includes his home, is under the flight path of the Hawks.

Jones initially asked the RAF to change the route to avoid the complex which includes a children’s nursery.

JAJ_01
“JESUS” ARTHUR JONES
IN 1998 John Arthur Jones gave an interview to HTV’s current affairs programme Wales This Week. He’d just been sacked as Anglesey County Council’s Housing Director because the authority had lost confidence in him. Jones compared himself to Jesus: “A man stood in front of Pilate two thousand years ago and Pilate said I can see nothing wrong in this man. But at that time the Pharisees said crucify him. Now then, the descendants of those Pharisees are living today on Anglesey – they’re saying crucify him.”

He felt that the flights intensified after he made this request — and complained to the newspapers.

In September 2012 the Daily Mail published  an article in which Jones threatened to step up his campaign.

He asked:

“Are our children being subjected, as some say in the village, to punishment by a gang of Hooray Henrys for daring to ask if they will fly over open fields instead of a children’s nursery?”

In another letter, he warned:

“Since you have refused to send independent observers to Parc Cefni I will be arranging for a weather balloon to be raised daily at the corner of our property. It will be taken down each evening at midnight.”

This prompted the RAF to ask North Wales Police to visit Jones — a move he branded “heavy-handed and sinister”.

He dropped the weather balloon idea — but in 2013 began to shine a bright light into the cockpits of the jets as they approached Parc Cefni.

Several landings at Mona had to be abandoned because of the danger to pilots.

Undercover police mounted a surveillance operation and, on one occasion, saw Jones tracking the planes with a powerful torch.

In October 2014 he was charged in connection with 13 incidents of endangering aircraft between November 2013 and September 2014.

Jones denied all the charges and called members of his family to give evidence.

His daughter Catrin Lloyd Davies, a solicitor, and her husband, army captain Gareth Lloyd Davies gave Jones an alibi for one of the incidents.

They said the family had had a meal together and Jones didn’t leave the house.

Jones denied his campaign was actually driven by his failure to sell any of the planned holiday chalets on the site because potential buyers were put off by the jets.

Jones’ barrister Lisa Judge compared her client to the TV character Victor Meldrew.

In June this year a jury of 11 found him guilty of all 13 counts.

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THIS AFTERNOON Jones’ barrister Lisa Judge asked for an adjournment, telling the court Jones had attended a medical examination this morning.

Another was booked tomorrow — with a biopsy scheduled for later this month.

She said he was “a man potentially facing death” with a possibility “he could die in prison”.

Judge Walters said that he’d been told nothing about these tests until this week.

He noted that it was John Arthur Jones who had commissioned the examinations — and that he was paying for them privately.

He’d heard nothing from a consultant telling him exactly what the problem was.

In the absence of a proper diagnosis, he said, the claim that John Arthur Jones might be dying was simply “courtroom advocacy”.

He dismissed the application.

He told Jones he was a man  of “arrogance”.

He did not believe his claim that his campaign against the RAF was motivated solely by concern for the children attending the nursery at Parc Cefni:

“That was only one of the many lies you told during the trial.”

His actions were “highly reckless”.

He sentenced him to 18 months in gaol for each of the 13 counts, the sentences to run concurrently.

Tonight he is on his way to Altcourse Prison in Liverpool …

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JOHN ARTHUR JONES’ interest in the Bodffordd area began in the 1980s.

He bought a piece of agricultural land on a hill overlooking the village.

It enjoyed a magnificent view of the island, the nearby Cefni Reservoir and Snowdonia.

In 1987 Jones applied for planning permission to build a bungalow at the top of the hill.

He wrote to the director of planning to say that “for 10 years I have been looking for a suitable site on which to develop a fish farm”.

This particular site was perfect for the operation, he said, but there  was just one snag — security.

Jones wrote:

” … the best possible deterrent is to live on the site and be in a position to see the ponds by day and which can be lit up at night.”

Planners were opposed.

DSC_0995
COUNCIL HOUSE
THIS IS Nant Garedig, the house John Arthur Jones built in the 1990s. It’s one of scores of houses constructed by Anglesey councillors on land that the council’s own plans say shouldn’t be built on. The current owners have no connection to John Arthur Jones.
Photo: Rebecca

The application was in “conflict with the approved Anglesey Structure Plan Policies”.

But approval was given by other officers using delegated powers.

By 1990, by which time Jones had been appointed Housing Director, the permission to build the bungalow had sprouted dormer windows.

The fish farm never materialised.

At present day values, the planning permission was worth between £125,000 and £150,000.

He did not start building the house —  known as Nant Garedig — until the mid 1990s.

The construction was to be as controversial as the planning permission …

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WHEN JOHN Arthur Jones finally built Nant Garedig he did it on the cheap.

The foundations included hardcore which came from the former Shell oil terminal at Rhosgoch.

The council took control of the terminal in 1990, the year John Arthur Jones became Director of Housing.

The site was managed by the Housing Department.

At that time there were some 15,000 tonnes of hardcore left on the site.

In the years that followed much of it disappeared.

John Arthur Jones placed an ad in the local paper calling for tenders for what he called the remaining “random rubble”.

One of the successful tenders — for 200 tonnes at 50 pence a tonne — came from John Arthur Jones himself.

It went into the foundations of Nant Garedig.

The Housing Department did not send its Director a bill until two and a half years later.

Jones said he had asked for an invoice on three separate occasions.

When the District Auditor investigated this issue, he noted that this invoice was finally raised “during the period when the Director was being investigated by the police”.

The council also accepted a bid for the “random rubble” from a builder called O J D Griffiths.

In October 1996 John Arthur Jones drafted a letter warning the contractor that he had “carried a large quantity of stone” from the site “in direct contravention of the prohibition” not to enter the site without permission.

The implication was that he’d taken the stone without paying for it.

“Before I refer the matter to the Police for further investigation,” Jones continued, “I invite you to respond to these allegations.”

O J D Griffiths never got the chance to reply because the letter was never sent.

An official in the Housing Department, Paul Roberts, noted:

“John Arthur Jones … said letter not to go – speak to the contractor instead.”

The District Auditor investigated.

“I am particularly concerned,” he wrote in his report, “to discover that during this period Mr O J D Griffiths was undertaking work on the home of Paul Roberts … and later in the year sold and delivered hardcore from the [Rhosgoch] site to the Director of Housing and Property [John Arthur Jones] which was in the process of being constructed.”

“The apparent lenient approach taken by these officers towards this contractor represents, in my view, extremely poor judgement, particularly in the light of their personal contractual relationship with the contractor.”

At the same time the District Auditor was investigating, police began looking at some of the men working on the building of Jones’ new house.

Several were receiving housing benefit.

JAJ_02
“I DON’T BELIEVE IT!”
JOHN ARTHUR JONES — the man his barrister likened to Victor Meldrew — is no stranger to the police. In the late 1990s, after he’d been arrested by the North Wales Police investigating his use of builders on housing benefit, he went on holiday with a detective inspector from the same force. In the same period he also offered the former head of Anglesey police a contract — tracking down housing benefit fraudsters …

At the time his own housing department was mounting an operation to prevent housing benefit fraud.

John Arthur Jones was arrested in 1997 by detectives from the North Wales Police.

Eventually, he was charged with misuse of public office, intimidating witnesses and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The case later collapsed after prosecution witnesses admitted discussing the case during the trial.

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BUT MAKING a small fortune on his new home wasn’t enough for John Arthur Jones — he wanted to be a property tycoon.

In the early 2000s Welsh Water decided to sell its Bodffordd depot next to the Cefni Reservoir.

John Arthur Jones thought it was an ideal site for a private housing development.

He bought the five acre site for £241,000 in September 2003.

The previous month he’d sold Nant Garedig for £365,000 — and moved into the small bungalow that came with the Welsh Water depot.

He wanted permission to build 22 Canadian-style wooden chalets.

The council was happy to give him permission but insisted on conditions, the most important of which was that the park be managed as a single business.

This meant that Jones could not sell individual plots.

He has always maintained that this condition was unlawful and, many years later, a government planning inspector agreed and ordered the council to remove the condition.

Jones has always insisted that those people who criticised his plans  “… have a personal agenda based on malice and jealousy”.

Jones built two of the Canadian-style chalets but was never able to sell either of them on the open market.

The fact that the RAF conducted low-flying exercises was one of the reasons which put off potential buyers.

The remaining 20 chalets have never been built.

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IN 2004 John Arthur Jones was elected to the council.

A year later he had his own political party — the Radical Independents.

There were just four members — Jones was the leader and he was joined by Hefin Wyn Roberts, John Rowlands and David Lewis Roberts.

The group was small but held the balance of power on the island.

The glue that held the Radical Independents together was greed.

John Rowlands and David Lewis Roberts wanted the valuable planning permissions —  worth between £100,000 and £150,000 — which John Arthur Jones and Hefin Wyn Roberts already enjoyed.

John Rowlands got his almost immediately, despite objections from planners.

He’d given a field to his daughter and she was given permission to build a new house because she wanted to return to the island.

After she received the permission, she sold the site for £150,000.

David Lewis Roberts went one step further.

He secretly bought a plot of land near Benllech — and then tried to smash the council’s green belt policy preventing new building in the area.

When another councillor accused Roberts of corruption, Roberts complained to the Ombudsman who referred the matter to the council’s Standards Committee.

The committee decided that David Lewis Roberts was, indeed, corrupt.

It ruled that his conduct “had been within the generally understood meaning of ‘corrupt’ …”

and

“gave a clear impression that he had misused his position for personal advantage, and that it amounted to the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.”

The police were not interested in prosecuting Roberts.

But the electorate took a dim view of the chaos John Arthur Jones and his Radical Independents had unleashed.

In the election of 2008, John Arthur Jones lost his seat.

The turmoil he’d triggered continued for years afterwards, forcing the Welsh government to take over the running of the council in 2011.

The intervention lasted several years.

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Published: 16 September 2016
© Rebecca
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Note
This article is based on a series of pieces already published. They are:

MAY THE FARCE BE WITH YOU

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THE END OF THE GANG OF FOUR

May 12, 2013

rebecca_6a
THE ANGLESEY council election on May 2 saw the end of an era.

The last member of the political group responsible for the planning crisis of 2005-2007 lost his seat.

The introduction of large multi-member wards saw the defeat of other controversial politicians.

But the reform failed to replace the dominance of the Independent group system with a more disciplined traditional party set-up.

The Independents have taken control and there are signs that the seeds have been sown for another crisis in the years ahead…

GANG OF FOUR  The defeat of Hefin Wyn Thomas and John Arthur Jones' failure to gain a seat in the May  2 election means an end to the power of the old Radical Independent group. In the 2008 election John Rowlands retired and David Lewis Roberts was defeated.

THE GANG OF FOUR
The defeat of Hefin Wyn Thomas (bottom left) and the failure of John Arthur Jones (top right) to gain a seat in the election means the end of the four-strong Radical Independent group. In the 2008 election John Rowlands (bottom right) retired and David Lewis Roberts (top left) was defeated.

WHEN THE count got under way at the Leisure Centre in Llangefni on May 3, the key question was — would the grip of the Independents on the island be broken?

The elections had been delayed for a year after the Welsh Government took control of the council in March 2011 to allow a programme of “democratic renewal” to take place.

The government hoped that the introduction of large multi-member wards would allow mainstream parties to take over from the Independents who were seen as the cause of the island’s instability.

In the Canolbarth Môn ward, which covers Llangefni, Plaid Cymru mounted a sustained campaign to take all three seats.

The strategy succeeded, taking more than half the votes.

In the process, the party’s three candidates kept out the controversial Independent, John Arthur Jones.

Jones is the disgraced former Director of Housing (1990-1998) and the leader of the Radical Independents who were the junior partners in the ruling coalition of 2005-2008.

He’s featured in several Rebecca Television reports, including The Gospel According to “Jesus” Arthur Jones and A Plague On All Their Houses.

Despite his chequered career, he came fourth with 915 votes, 11 per cent of the vote. This means that he remains a force to be reckoned with — and likely to stand for the council again in four years time.

His former Radical Independent partner, Hefin Wyn Thomas, didn’t fare so well.

He was standing in the new three-member Lligwy ward and could only manage 426 votes, coming 9th out of 12 candidates. His chances of making a comeback in the new order look slim.

His departure means that the last sitting member of John Arthur Jones’ four-strong Radical Independent group has disappeared.

The group was the junior partner in the administration led by veteran politician Gareth Winston Roberts, OBE between 2005 and 2008.

Roberts was the subject of the highly critical Rebecca Television article Dirty Rotten Scoundrel, OBE. He did not stand in the elections.

Also defeated was the arch-enemy of the Gareth Winston Roberts – Radical Independents axis, Barrie Durkin, who came fifth in the Lligwy ward.

His decision to live off the island probably cost him many votes.

Plaid Cymru became the largest of the mainstream political parties with 12 seats.

Labour’s campaign was less visible and the party fared badly.

It won only three seats and lost one of its key figures — sitting councillor John Chorlton, who could only manage fifth place in the three-member Ynys Gybi ward.

Chorlton had been an independent member in the past and an ally of Gareth Winston Roberts and John Arthur Jones in the 2005-2008 administration.

Overall, however, the Independents proved more than a match for the new government-imposed electoral regime.

Even though they lost their leader Bryan Owen, the group still topped the poll with 14 members.

The Independents have now struck a deal with the three Labour members to form a new administration.

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THE FAILURE to break the power of the Independents is a major blow to the Cardiff government’s hopes of restoring good government on the island.

The Independents, of course, are not a naturally cohesive group and have shown a tendency in the past to fragment and form new alliances as ambitious  councillors jockey for supremacy.

In addition, the decision by the Executive in April to give councillors back their power to “call-in” controversial planning applications is another recipe for trouble.

The power had been removed in 2007 to bring an end to the planning crisis in which scores of applications were approved against officers’ recommendations.

What has tended to happen in the past is that slowly but surely the calling in of these planning applications — which can add between £100,000 and £150,000  to the value of a plot — become more common and more blatant.

This is what led to the crisis of 2005-2007 which itself followed an earlier scandal in the early 1990s.

In the process, ordinary people — like Bill Farrell, the victim in the 1990s crisis (see Dirty Rotten Scoundrel, OBE) — are ruined.

There is no reason to believe this won’t happen again.

The lesson of the past seems to be that, no matter how outrageous a councillor’s actions are, the chances of him being brought to book are virtually nil.

Take the case of former councillor David Lewis Roberts, the Radical Independent member who lost his seat in 2008.

Last year the council’s own Standards Committee decided he had been corrupt in his attempts to pervert the planning system in 2006-7 (see The Case of the Corrupt Councillor).

But the committee, inexplicably, decided not to call in the police to investigate.

Our attempt to persuade North Wales Police to mount a criminal investigation of David Lewis Roberts continues.

The force is sifting through documents supplied by the council and has yet to come to a decision.

With the government in Cardiff, the council, the Ombudsman — and,  so far, the police — seemingly unable or unwilling to tackle the root causes of the problem, the chances are that Anglesey will, after a period of peace, soon be back in the limelight…

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FORMER LEADER Clive McGregor has written to us about the article The Gospel According to “Jesus” Arthur Jones which was published on April 26.

That article featured the 1997 report by the District Auditor which criticised John Arthur Jones — then the council’s Housing Director — for awarding a contract to a firm of private investigators in which McGregor was a partner.

At the time McGregor had just retired as the North Wales Police superintendent in charge of Anglesey.

McGregor insists that no contract to investigate housing benefit fraud was ever signed and that he was disappointed that the District Auditor had not spoken to him or his partner.

“Had he spoken to us, he might well have had a stronger case against John Arthur Jones,” he says.

JOHN ARTHUR JONES  A profound sense of infallibility ...

JOHN ARTHUR JONES
The former housing director and councillor has always insisted he’s never done anything wrong. He says that the District Auditor’s reports which led to his sacking in the 1990s were “unfair” and “irrational”. He has branded other criticism of his actions as “false” or “misleading”.

McGregor says that in May 1997 John Arthur Jones had rung him at home and offered him a job as a Benefit Fraud investigator.

McGregor refused because he was about to set up his own firm, Môn Investigations.

He told Jones that the firm might be interested in bidding for the work if the council advertised for tenders.

“The next contact that I received from John Arthur Jones was about a month later in early July in which he said that he was keen to appoint our partnership and as Director he did not need to go to tender if the contract value was below £3000.”

“With those assurances I agreed that we would undertake some work for the Council within the delegated sum at the rate of £20.00 per hour. John Arthur Jones confirmed these arrangements in writing.”

“I was unaware that he was under investigation by the Fraud Squad otherwise I would not have touched him with a barge pole.”

McGregor says that he considers John Arthur Jones and Gareth Winston Roberts as the main architects of Anglesey’s troubles: “the ills of the Council are directly attributable to these two characters [as is] the total lack of governance within both the [pre-1996] Anglesey Borough Council and the Isle of Anglesey County Council for almost three decades.”

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© Rebecca Television 2013

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

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COMING UP

POACHER TURNED gamekeeper Rhodri Williams is the Welsh Director of the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. In the article — A Man Of Conviction  Rebecca Television will chart the story of his rise to power and his dramatic departure from the television company he helped to found. In the television programme — Hidden Agenda — his former partner Ron Jones tells the story of the dramatic days leading up to Williams’ dismissal. 


A PLAGUE ON ALL THEIR HOUSES

May 1, 2013

rebecca_6aTWO OF the candidates in tomorrow’s Anglesey elections are staunch supporters of affordable homes for local people.

John Arthur Jones and Hefin Wyn Thomas both include a commitment to affordable homes in their election manifestos.

But their idea of “affordable” isn’t always exactly the same as the voters.

For example, both men made sure their own homes were made more “affordable” by valuable planning permissions ordinary residents would have struggled to get.

And their role in some applications to build “affordable” homes has been controversial.

In one case, Hefin Wyn Thomas argued that planning permission should be given to a local woman so she could afford to build a home on the island.

It turned out she already owned a house in Cardiff and later sold the Anglesey site for a massive profit.

In another case John Arthur Jones was the island’s housing director when his department cheated a man out of a plot so that a housing official could have it instead.

ANGLESEY Some residents find it easier to get "affordable" homes than others. Picture: Barry Davies

ANGLESEY
Some residents find it easier to get “affordable” homes than others. Picture: Barry Davies

IN 2005 Hefin Wyn Thomas spoke up for a planning application for a new house on a field at Llanddona in the east of the island.

The field was called Cae Bryntirion and it enjoyed stunning views of the sea.

Planners were opposed to the proposal because the Local Structure Plan did not include the village as a place where development would normally be allowed.

Hefin Wyn Thomas, the Executive portfolio holder for planning, did not agree.

He said that the field was owned by a local woman whose family had lived in the area for 70 years.

He told the planning committee: “On completion of her studies and embarking on a career she wishes to relocate to the area with her husband.”

“The nature of their work means that they are able to work from home”.

He said that the committee should approve the application due to “local need”.

By the time of the May 2005 planning committee, Hefin Wyn Thomas had joined a new political group, the Radical Independents, led by John Arthur Jones.

The two men supported the application as did a third member, David Lewis Roberts.

The application was approved.

But the couple who owned the site, Elwen Rowlands and her husband, didn’t need a house — they already had one.

Two years earlier they had bought a property in Merches Gardens in the Grangetown area of Cardiff for £108,000.

Rowlands was in her early thirties and working as a script editor on the first season of the revived BBC Doctor Who series.

And she’s no ordinary Anglesey girl.

Her father was councillor John Rowlands who had just become the fourth member of John Arthur Jones’ Radical Independents.

Rowlands declared an interest in his daughter’s planning application and took no part in the proceedings.

For months the planning application attracted little attention.

But when David Lewis Roberts began his campaign to drive through similar applications in another part of the island — see The Case of the Corrupt Councillor — it began to be scrutinised.

It turned out that Elwen Rowlands’ application was just the tip of the iceberg.

In the two years up to June 2006, Hefin Wyn Thomas had been instrumental in gaining approval for another eight applications which planners had opposed.

The total value of these permissions was more than a million pounds.

In July 2008 Elwen Rowlands sold the plot — worth just a few thousand pounds without the planning permission — for £150,000.

A FIELD OF GOLD The field in the foreground was worth a couple of thousand pounds an acre. With planning permission it was worth £150,000.

A FIELD OF GOLD
The field in the foreground was worth a couple of thousand pounds an acre as agricultural land. With planning permission it was worth £150,000.

She has always insisted that her planning permission “was granted on the basis of a properly submitted and properly considered application. Any suggestion otherwise is incorrect.”

She claimed that she had been driven out of the area by sustained criticism by the whistleblower Barrie Durkin.

“It had always been my intention to move back to Anglesey to make a home with my husband.”

“However, as a result of the concerted campaign against me and my family I decided I could no longer live happily in the community and this was also the reason why I decided to sell the plot …”

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IT WASN’T the first time that Hefin Wyn Thomas had been involved in planning controversies.

He was suspended for two months in 2002 for failing to declare an interest in a planning application.

In 2006 he was investigated by the Ombudsman, Adam Peat.

Thomas had supported a proposal to build an estate of private houses on a field in the village of Pentraeth owned by a millionaire property developer called John Wood.

Thomas had commercial and social links with the developer.

Three years earlier, Thomas had declared an interest in another of Wood’s schemes.

But he did not declare an interest in the Pentraeth scheme.

The Ombudsman was not impressed:

“I conclude on the balance of probabilities that Councillor Thomas’ strong support for the inclusion of the developer’s land at Pentraeth … in the teeth of overwhelming local opposition was actuated by the prospect of pecuniary gain …”

He referred the matter to the Adjudication Panel for Wales.

But there was a dramatic development when the Panel met to hear the case in June 2007.

John Wood said that by the time he was promoting the Pentraeth scheme, he’d fallen out with Thomas.

Thomas had been renovating one of his properties and Wood felt that the work was sub-standard. He ordered him off the site.

“I couldn’t stand the sight of him,” he told the Panel.

HFIN WYN THOMAS In 2005 he was picking up £25,000 a year as a councillor and a member of the executive.

HFIN WYN THOMAS
In 2005 he was picking up £25,000 a year as a councillor and a member of the Executive.

The Panel decided that, while Thomas had technically broken the rules, there was no friendship between the two men.

The Panel found that he was in partial breach of the council’s code of conduct but decided not to impose any sanction.

Hefin Wyn Thomas lives in house on a farm just outside Pentraeth.

The property was built as an agricultural dwelling after he became a councillor in 1995.

He had bought the farm and wanted the new dwelling because he wanted to introduce a milking herd.

He was given permission but the milking herd never materialised.

Instead he became a builder.

In the early 2000s he had a close commercial relationship with John Arthur Jones and his company Best Value.

Best Value specialised in renovation grants and planning applications.

From 2001 until John Arthur Jones resigned from the company on his election to the council in 2004, Best Value won 85 renovation contracts from the council worth nearly £2m.

Hefin Wyn Thomas’ company did the work on 12 of those contracts, worth over £250,000.

But the firm did not prosper. In the autumn of 2005 Cefni (Pentraeth) Limited went bust owing the government over £100,00 in unpaid tax and VAT.

In April 2011 Thomas was convicted of benefit fraud.

He had been claiming incapacity benefit while he was receiving allowances as a councillor.

He was fined £750 and ordered to repay £7,700.

In June last year the council’s Standards Committee decided that this offence was also a serious breach of the council’s code of conduct.

Thomas claimed that he did not know that council allowances were income.

The excuse cut no ice with the committee because Thomas had been paying tax on his allowances.

He was suspended for six months.

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LONG BEFORE these events took place, John Arthur Jones had made sure he had an “affordable” home.

In the 1980s he bought a piece of agricultural land on a hill overlooking the village of Bodffordd.

It includes a low hill with a magnificent view of the island and Snowdonia.

In 1987 Jones applied for planning permission to build a bungalow on the site.

He wrote to the director of planning to say that “for 10 years I have been looking for a suitable site on which to develop a fish farm”.

This particular site was perfect for the operation. There was just one snag — security.

Jones wrote ” … the best possible deterrent is to live on the site and be in a position to see the ponds by day and which can be lit up at night.”

Planners were opposed. The application was in “conflict with the approved Anglesey Structure Plan Policies”.

But approval was given by other officers using delegated powers.

By 1990, by which time Jones had been appointed Housing Director, the permission to build the bungalow had sprouted dormer windows.

He did not start construction work on the house —  known as Nant Garedig — until the mid 1990s.

Rebecca Television has examined council records to see if this property ever came before a committee of the authority. There was no evidence it ever did so.

The fish farm never materialised.

At present day values, the planning permission was worth between £125,000 and £150,000.

John Arthur Jones was also the Housing Director when perhaps the most celebrated “affordable” home on Anglesey was built.

Even by Anglesey standards, the story of the hanky-panky that took place at a site in a street called Nant Y Pandy takes some believing…

NO 5 NANT Y PANDY A house with a chequered history.

NO 5, NANT Y PANDY
A house with a chequered history.

THE HOUSE in the picture is No 5, Nant y Pandy in Llangefni. 

Even before a brick was laid, the site in the centre of the island was the subject of skulduggery.

In 1993 the site was one of five offered by council to people who wanted to build their own home.

One local man, whose identity has never been revealed, applied for one of the sites.

There was a meeting between the prospective purchasers and the housing director John Arthur Jones and his director of contract services, Gareth Roberts.

According to District Auditor Ceri Stradling, who investigated what happened, a local man drew Plot 5 “following a random draw of names from a hat.”

Number 5 was the plum site: not only was it the largest it was also the furthest away from the nearby council estate.

But the man who’d drawn Plot 5 found that the process of completing the purchase was the subject of delay after delay.

By April 1994, he’d had enough and wrote to the council withdrawing his application.

The next day, a technical officer in the housing department called Paul Roberts, wrote to the director of contract services Gareth Roberts. The two men are not related.

Paul Roberts had been allocated Plot 1, next door to the council estate.

He asked Gareth Roberts to allow him to switch his plot from Number 1 to Number 5.

The next day Gareth Roberts replied “… I have transferred your allocation of plot no 1 to plot No 5 Nant y Pandy, Llangefni, and hope that you can now proceed with the purchase of plot 5 as soon as possible.”

Neither of the two Roberts could explain to District Auditor Ceri Stradling “why there had been delays with the purchase of the two relevant plots.”

“Both Mr Paul Roberts and Mr Gareth Roberts were unsympathetic to the concerns expressed by the person who brought the matter to our attention,” noted Stradling.

“I believe Mr Paul Roberts benefited personally from information obtained from his position within the Department, by obtaining a larger and more sought-after plot that ultimately may have a higher market value on re-sale.”

Not satisfied with having used his position in John Arthur Jones’ housing department to grab the site, Paul Roberts then went on to “persuade” several contractors to help him build his house.

Take the “contribution” made by a business called Ponsonby Joinery.

Between 1994 and 1998 the firm were awarded £38,000 work by the council, much of it ordered and approved by Paul Roberts.

The district auditor noted: “During our enquiries we were informed that all the hardwood windows and the staircase of Mr Paul Roberts’ home … had been supplied by Ponsonby Joinery in the autumn of 1994 to the value of several thousand pounds.”

“Our investigations revealed that Mr Roberts has paid a partial instalment of £1,700 for these goods, which he has subsequently confirmed. He did however say that he always intended to settle the remainder of the debt.”

“In my view it is unusual that any supplier in normal circumstances would wait nearly four years for an account to be settled.”

Then there was a builder who also did a considerable amount of work for the council.

Some of this was ordered by Paul Roberts and he was the man who checked the work for payment.

The contractor told the auditor that he knew Paul Roberts well.

“He said he had done some plastering work on Mr Roberts house … in the late autumn of 1994 at an approximate cost of some £2,000.

He said that Mr Roberts made no effort to pay him for the work.”

The District Auditor said that “At that time [the contractor] relied upon the Council for a substantial proportion of his income and was given the impression that if he pursued Mr Roberts to settle his debt he would receive fewer orders for the work.”

And finally there was Cefni Glass, a company owned by a man called Ken Jones, who was a close friend of Paul Roberts.

The auditor noted that “Mr Ken Jones and his employees carried out work on Mr Paul Roberts’ own house when it was being constructed. Mr Paul Roberts has admitted to us that this was done without monetary payment.”

JOHN ARTHUR JONES He was the council's housing director in the 1990s when its operations were criticised by the District Auditor.

JOHN ARTHUR JONES
He was the director of the council’s housing department in the 1990s when its operations were criticised by the District Auditor.

“Mr Roberts does not accept that in accepting this favour he has placed himself in a compromising position.”

In the four years up to 1998 Cefni Glass were given council work worth £171,000.

The company was a “favoured” contractor and the District Auditor found that the council’s Standing Orders were often ignored when work was awarded.

For most of this period Cefni Glass were supervised by Paul Roberts: he raised orders from the firm and checked their work.

During the period when the company’s work for the council was at its height, Paul Roberts was working an enormous amount of overtime.

It was at the time of local government reorganisation.

In one nine month period in 1996 he clocked up 770 hours in overtime worth £10,764.

When the district auditor started investigating, Paul Roberts decided it was time to settle some of his long-standing bills.

He went to see the man who had done the plastering work on his house.

The auditor reported that “Mr Roberts turned up unannounced in May 1997 and paid him £1,000 in cash.

He said the event had stuck in his mind since at the time the press was reporting the Police investigation of the Director of Housing and Property [John Arthur Jones].”

“He said that Mr Roberts had brought a further £600 in cash on the day following … He substantiated these comment by reference to his paying in records.”

Paul Roberts was not a senior official but he had responsibility for some important assets belonging to the council.

One of these was the former Shell terminal at Rhosgoch.

The District Auditor found Roberts did not take his duties as seriously as he should have done.

Two large transformers, worth £4,000 on the second-hand market, went missing.

It was Roberts who had commissioned the specialist valuation of these and other assets at the site.

“He was unable to account for the whereabouts of these transformers and expressed surprise that they were no longer there,” reported the District Auditor.

He added: “I have been able to ascertain that no insurance claim or report to the Police has been submitted in respect of these large transformers.”

Another valuable asset was the huge amount of hard-core on which the terminal was built.

John Arthur Jones placed an ad in the local paper and one of those who successfully tendered was the builder O J D Griffiths, who was carrying out work at Paul Roberts’ home.

In October 1996 John Arthur Jones drafted a letter warning the contractor that he had “carried a large quantity of stone” from the site “in direct contravention of the prohibition” not to enter the site without permission.

“Before I refer the matter to the Police for further investigation,” he continued, “I invite you to respond to these allegations.”

O J D Griffiths never got the chance to reply because the letter was never sent.

Paul Roberts noted: “John Arthur Jones … said letter not to go – speak to the contractor instead.”

“I am particularly concerned,” District Auditor Ceri Stradling wrote in his report, “to discover that during this period Mr O J D Griffiths was undertaking work on the home of Mr P Roberts … and later in the year sold and delivered hardcore from the [Rhosgoch] site to the Director of Housing and Property [John Arthur Jones] which was in the process of being constructed.”

“The apparent lenient approach taken by these officers towards this contractor represents, in my view, extremely poor judgement, particularly in the light of their personal contractual relationship with the contractor.”

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2013

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COMING UP

POACHER TURNED gamekeeper Rhodri Williams is the Welsh Director of the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. In the article — A Man Of Conviction — Rebecca Television charts the story of his rise to power and his dramatic departure from the television company he helped to found. In the television programme — Hidden Agenda — his former partner Ron Jones tells the story of the dramatic days leading up to Williams’ dismissal. 


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