In the past few months I have been fobbed off twice with the – not in the public domain – response from WAG. But have not been informed as to why the information I have asked for isn’t in the public domain. Who makes the decision to keep it secret?
On the 8/10 I asked WAG for an individual listing of the amounts given to food festivals over 08/09 -10/11 under the Rural Development Plan Supply Chain Efficiency Programme. There was no response so I chased again and on 18/10/10 was told: ‘the totals are in the public domain, but not individual amounts’. My question was then forwarded to the Press Office and I waited until 8/11/10 to be told: ‘We are not in a position to release individual amounts awarded to each festival’.
With no explanation I was obviously not happy. But some time ago I’d had a helpful meeting with Assembly Member Nick Bourne at The Cliffs, Gwbert, Cardigan, and so decided on 15/11/10 to ask for his help. Well Nick didn’t hang around and put through a Written Assembly Question on 24/11/10 to Rural Minister Elin Jones. Thankfully we didn’t hold our breath, but eventually did get the full individual listing through from Elin Jones, on 1st February 2011, some four months later. Patience is a virtue but I must also say that it makes interesting reading but didn’t follow what WAG had told me that food festivals must aim for self-funding, when the festivals generally got their funding increased over this three year period. In fact a couple of them got increases of £14k – £16k!!!
Regular visitors will be aware of the Food Festival Organisers meeting held on 8th February. The organisers were to be told about the new criteria being developed for food festival support and the future allocation of funding for them. I wanted to include an update in our M/April issue and asked for this information giving them a deadline, as they’d asked for, of 11/2 at 4.00pm.
WAG Press Office responses:
‘Sorry to have missed your deadline, it has been a busy day here and I have been working to get line to you. I will do what I can to get something soon’.
(Well whatever she was ‘working’ on for me hasn’t arrived, but are there any busy producers or editors out there? Another question for them is what does a deadline mean in their world? In my magazine world if you can’t hit a deadline the onus is on you to say so. Their failure to supply what I needed meant that I did not have their updated information to give to my readers in our M/April issue. WAG seem unconcerned that my readers and our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers have been asking us what is going on with festivals this year. We certainly don’t need any more uncertainty than we already have in the food industry. We haven’t got the security of a regular salary in the bank at the end of each month like some ………
Friday 11/2 16.03
From a Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson:
“At a recent meeting, festival organisers were consulted on this year’s grant application process and the results of research into food festivals. More information for festival organisers will be made available directly to them on Monday. ”
Tuesday 15/2 14.17pm
In response to your latest enquiry for the notes of the Food Festival organisers’ meeting last week, we would not release this information as it is not in the public domain. May I suggest if you still want the notes that you contact the Assembly’s Freedom of Information Office at the following email address email@example.com
Well there we are again – ‘not in the public domain’ – but no explanation why not? These people are spending our money but apparently you and I are not allowed to know how it is spent. I’d be interested to know what you think about this latest run around from WAG……………………….