Well what a pleasant surprise, today I’ve had an answer, no sorry I mean reply, to my request for a ‘review’ which was not due until 19th September. Although wag’s email response is headed as a review, wag food have dealt with my ‘review’ as a complaint. Complaint, well that must mean something to wag, but nevertheless an early reply is something, answers would have been even better, but this is wag food I’m trying to get answers from. So as I’ve been asked repeatedly what’s happening with this question, here is their reply in full:
Complaint in respect of ATISN 10621
Thank you for your letter of 19 August seeking a review of our response to your recent request for information regarding funding for food festivals.
Your complaint was:
I cannot accept that the Welsh Government do not hold any information on the questions not answered in this FOI.
I have carried out a review of our response to you of 17 August. You asked 10 questions, and I see a response was given for points 1-4 and 7-9. On points 5, 6 and 10 our response to you was that we do not hold the information requested.
I understand your complaint to be with respect to our answers on points 5, 6 and 10, and I have restricted this review to consideration of those points.
Specifically, these points are:
- From which budgets or other sources of WG funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?
What criteria do these festivals have to meet before they can apply for funding from other than the food festival budget?
- As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160k, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?
I have spoken with officials who collated the original answer to understand what searches were undertaken to locate the information requested. I then conducted additional searches for the information requested. I have consulted with colleagues in other departments in Welsh Government who have also conducted their own searches for information.
In conducting these additional searches I have also considered the timescale you are interested in. Your first question was for:
- Details of all food festivals that applied for funding in 2016 and received £5k?
Officials responding to your request have therefore interpreted all subsequent questions to relate to the time period of 2016 (that is all applications for funding from 1 January 2016 to the date of your request). There is some ambiguity as to whether this includes an application for funding for a food festival taking place in 2016 where the application was received prior to 2016, so for the avoidance of doubt, I have ensured that the search specifically includes these.
These searches have not turned up any new information. In particular, under points 5 and 6, Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff have not applied for or received any funding for food festivals from other sources of funding within Welsh Government in this time period. We hold no information as to whether any other body has provided them funding external to Welsh Government.
Although they have not applied for funding in 2016, I have established that in some cases a food festival might qualify for funding from our Major Events Unit, and if their event were to qualify for funding, the criteria they would need to meet are described here:
On question 10, you asked where the remainder of this year’s food festival budget had been allocated and we replied that we do not hold recorded information in response to this query. I confirm that we do not hold recorded information on these budget allocations, as the budget has not yet been allocated.
Wag food civil servants must be in training to be politicians, as they’ve certainly learnt the art of not answering questions! I have been talking to them since March about food festival funding and yes, surprise, surprise, it’s this year I’m interested in. This year they’ve given festivals two dates to apply for funding but then been so slow publishing a full list of funded festivals , I’ve found it pathetic. It was August before the full list was available. How organisers managed to do their financial planning without knowing if they had wag support was total nonsense, yet as the maximum they can apply for is £5k, wag food are giving the message that basically guys fund it yourself, unless you happen to be one of the big three. Despite Welsh Country magazine supporting Welsh food and drink for over 11 years and the backing we have from so many Welsh food and drink producers, not to mention my talking to, or at wag food about Welsh food festivals, I still didn’t get sent the press release about food festival funding. How weird is that? Communication is the key, but that clearly doesn’t apply to wag food.
All I wanted to know was:
Which festivals have been funded.
Which festivals applied and didn’t get funded.
What’s happened to the remainder of the £160k food festival budget.
What government funding has been given to Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy.
Wag food are spending our money, so why is it so difficult, or near impossible, to find out where that money is being spent. Somebody must be accountable for this spend but it’s infuriating they’re not willing to disclose.
If wag food think their handling of this is acceptable, then it’s further proof we are operating on different planets. I’m in the real world and they clearly are not…………………..