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Information Is Not In The Public Domain – But Why Not?

17 Feb

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:

11/2/11 17.20

‘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 freedomofinformation@wales.gsi.gov.uk

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……………………….

 
 

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  1. Tradestander - who would now rather work for WAG

    February 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I too have met Nick and do rate him so not surprised he made an effort to get this information that WAG would not supply.
    I don’t get it ————— not in public domain ——— it’s public money, so why isn’t it available information? What else are they hiding?
    Kath’s a journalist with a huge interest in local food, the job welsh country and this site have done pushing local food is quite unbelievable. I’m disgusted that she’s had to go to so much effort and talk to Nick to get help from him.
    Think she should join me and try wag for a job ….

     
  2. food lover

    February 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I cannot believe this is happening
    what a waste of so many people’s time
    don’t tell the public anything – good day to bury news
    Yep it applies in Wales too by the sound of this story

     
  3. festival goer

    February 21, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I can’t see any reason why this information is not available – it’s not good enough
    Welsh Civil Servants rule and us foodies are not important it appears.

     
  4. fed-up

    February 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I’m fed-up after reading this message
    Not in the pubic domain surely means someone – has said the public aren’t to be told
    so isn’t it about time someone told us who has decided not to tell us
    We are not children – this is our industry and I, like many other producers want this information.
    I’m also fed-up that Kath and her team are having to put in so much work to try and get information that we want and we need. Wag don’t appear to be on our side but the Welsh Country team are.

     
  5. Beer Man

    February 22, 2011 at 11:44 am

    who do Wag think they are
    not in the public domain – who’s decision is that?
    I feel like we are the servants not Wag

     
  6. Welsh woman

    February 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    There’s no reason I can see that this information is is not in the public domain
    who makes these decisions?
    to get a response like this would be more helpful with a decision maker’s name put with it.
    It’s our industry but we have little control ….

     
  7. cider drinker

    February 24, 2011 at 9:39 am

    how dare Wag say it’s not in the public domain
    this is our livelihoods at stake here
    communication is so lacking in this industry
    let’s get rid of our stress and go and work for Wag

     
  8. fobbed off

    February 24, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Yes fobbed off that’s what happens to us all the time
    maybe we should talk more to Nick and get more of his help
    I too found him a good guy

     
  9. jenny

    February 25, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I have never heard such rubbish
    not in the public domain
    it’s about time someone reminded these people that they are Civil Servants and they work for us, I have always thought civil servants was the wrong name for them and I can certainly think of others

     
  10. chutney chap

    February 28, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Wag are in charge
    Wag make the rules
    Wag can’t communicate
    Wag wont listen
    They’d have to listen to a union much as I don’t like them – we don’t have many other options do we?
    Thank goodness we have you lot on our side.

     
  11. Welsh Food addict

    February 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Not in public domain – isn’t this rather like parent’s know best
    I’m sure Wag feel they have a ‘right’ to keep lots of information secret but don’t they need reminding who pays for their salaries and that they are supposed to be our ‘servants’
    I’d feel like giving up if it wasn’t for you and your team.
    I hope I see Kath at a festival or a market soon as I’d love to pick her brains a lot more and of course thank her personally for all the work they do for us.
    She’s my food hero without any shadow of doubt
    I just wish Wag would support them more. Istill stupid enough to think that if Wag would work with them we’d do far better as an industry.

     
  12. arrogant

    March 2, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve met Nick Bourne and found him a sensible guy to listen and to talk to
    How we can be fobbed off with – it’s not in the public domain – that is so arrogant
    who do they think they are?
    This is OUR industry and this information is relevant to us
    who decides to keep it a secret?
    I cannot believe the runaround these guys give to keep their secrets. It’s a pathetic and childish attitude.

     
  13. Tracey

    March 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    isn’t it time WAG learnt who they work for?
    In case help is needed, they work for us, well at least that’s the theory…………………………….