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Archive for July, 2012

Really Wild Food & Countryside Festival

30 Jul

There’s no getting away from it guys, I do enjoy this event and you all know that I don’t say that about many food festivals. Ian and I made an early start on Saturday and got there before opening up time. There were signs on my way down into Pembrokeshire which was good and then a polite, helpful man on car park duty. This was a great start to a day I was looking forward to. We had a quick catch up with Julia Powdrill, the hard working organiser, how she gets such a good team together always amazes me and I’ve had so much information on a regular basis from a recent newcomer to the team Alison Belton, for once with a food festival, I was very happy.

We had quite a number of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, BOW, in attendance and that included Derek from Preseli Coffee, so no need for guessing my first stop for my caffeine fix. Derek does the best coffees and chocolates and his mocha coffees  are marvellous. I’d want him to supply more of the coffee shops I visit, because quite a few of them could easily raise their standards with guidance and brilliant beans from Derek.

The food marquee was much, much bigger this year which was a good move. There were some tables and chairs laid out which worked well, allowing people to buy food and drink and eat it there and then. I’d have loved a few more tables,  but at least they’d provided some! Perhaps a few straw bales would have been fun for the kids to sit down and eat their ice-creams whilst their parents chatted and had a break.

It was a shame this fab festival clashed with Lampeter and the Big Cheese, I do wish it was possible to spread the events more evenly.  It doesn’t matter if they are clashing in the north and in the south, because very few producers would travel that far as a rule, but three does give some producers logistical problems, especially when they were following on the back of the Royal Welsh. There were some very tired producers there and which was totally understandable, although by many accounts the Royal had worked well for quite a few of them. The quality of food stands was very good, bearing in mind my bias, with so many of our BOW there, but the quality of the craft stands was also good, many of following the festival theme of the countryside.

I only had one producer complain that a £6.00 charge per adult was far too expensive and I’m sure that is something the organisers will look at after the have done their book-keeping and working out attendance levels. Usually I’m totally against an entrance charge, but this event has so much going on outside in the main ring and plenty to keep the children amused really for the whole day. To give you just a sample of what was on offer, there were birds of prey, ferret, racing, well wanging, skittles, alpacas; face painting, how to take shots with your camera and foraging walks and that’s just for starters. Plus there were lots of tables and chairs outside, it was only the wind that at times made it a little chilly. The setting of this festival with its stunning views over St David’s is fabulous. For me this festival is friendly and fun a great combination. This Festival is all about rural life and how we can all make the most of it. It offers the chance to get back in touch with the countryside; eat it, cook it, learn about it, even play with it. In my view they do a great job in promoting and showcasing locally grown or produced food, or wild ingredients foraged from the hedgerows, coast, beach and river. It’s a unique festival that’s found a niche in this fickle, food festival market.

I spent just a little time with yet another mocha coffee watching a cookery demo, an area that was popular throughout the day. I actually had a very polite young lady who was gong around the tent reminding people the next cookery demo was starting shortly. Great promotion team!!! My only point was that it would be a good idea to have in that cookery area a timetable of chefs cooking, or maybe even a whiteboard or a blackboard. I know there was a huge flyer with all those details on, but this would act as a reminder as people wandered past.

After being decidedly unimpressed with Pembrokeshire Produce Direct, PPD, when I saw their stand a few weeks ago at Milford Haven, I am pleased to report that PPD not only must have read my comments but they had actually acted on them. On Saturday their stand looked much better, they had a hamper with local produce in it, a computer screen showing their website and an abundance of banners about too. I was told they’d also put flyers on the seats in the kitchen area too. So some progress made on stand improvements, so I have to say well done on making some effort to raise your game. What I really think would work much better, is that when there are two people ‘working’ the stand, one of you move off it and approach people as they are passing your tradestand area. You have very few seconds to ‘grab’ people’s attention and I certainly don’t think that PPD has the luxury of waiting for people to come onto their stand for a chat. One thing I’d love to know is how many stands PPD have done since it was set up and how many leads have taken from each event. I wonder if I’m right in guessing that you gathered more leads at Really Wild than you did at Milford…………………………

I’m pleased that you did read welshfoodbites about Milford and more importantly did something about it, but in reality guys, why I do I have to tell you for free, how to do your job when you are the ones that were given £500k? Before you have to think too long about that, allow me to tell you that the only reason I’m bothered is that some of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers belong to PPD and they need ‘roads to markets’ or a distribution network that actually works.

Later in the day, one of our Best of Welsh producers left his stand to tell Ian that a lady working for Wag was in attendance and he actually said he felt they were on our side! Not one to miss a trick, when she was pointed out to him, Ian approached her and asked which department of Wag she worked for as she wasn’t badged up. About the same time, another producer told me that she had  spoken to this lady and been told that she did work for Wag. Ian though was told she didn’t work for Wag, which was when he decided that she worked for Miller Research, which was indeed the case. The conversation between Ian and the Miller team member was good and productive but I still have to question why when anyone is working a festival is not badged up. At best this is unprofessional at worst sinister, I much prefer finding out information is fairer by being open and saying who you are.

Still puzzled why this producer thought she was on his side, but it is easiest if I give him a call and also find out what questions were asked. I’m not really sure what job Wag has asked Miller to do on this occasion, but I’ll surely find out!

In my view, I would have thought it professional for any people working at festivals to wearing badges and I’m certainly pleased to see so many producers wearing their own company clothing, which looks smart, professional and people then know who you are. I’m not sure if this job qualifies as research, I guess it does, so I’ve been checking out The Market Research Society. They have around 6,000 members and runs a code of conduct. Although we don’t know precisely what this latest work is all about, I’ve extracted a little from The Market Research website, which might be of interest:
Preparing for fieldwork
Communicating with Respondents
B.15 If there is to be any recording, monitoring or observation during an Interview, Respondents must be informed about this both at recruitment and at the beginning of the Interview.
Comment: This does not include monitoring (listening to but not recording) telephone Interviews for the purpose of quality control where Interviewers have been informed that such monitoring takes place.
B.16 Members must not knowingly make use of personal data collected illegally.
Fieldwork
B.17 Respondents must not be misled when being asked for cooperation to participate.
B.18 A Respondent’s right to withdraw from a project at any stage must be respected.
B.19 Members must ensure that Respondents are able to check without difficulty the identity and bona fides of any individual and/or their employer conducting a project (including any Sub-contractors).
B.20 Calls for face-to-face in-home Interviews and calls to household landline telephone numbers or mobile telephone numbers (including text messages) must not be made before 9 am Monday to Saturday, 10 am Sunday or after 9 pm any day, unless by appointment.
Comment: The only exception to this is where local rules and customs differ from UK practice.
B.21 Members must ensure that all of the following are clearly communicated to the Respondent:
l the name of the Interviewer (an Interviewer’s identity card must be shown if face-to-face);
l an assurance that the Interview will be carried out according to the MRS Code of Conduct;
l the general subject of the Interview;
l the purpose of the Interview;
l if asked, the likely length of the Interview;
l any costs likely to be incurred by the Respondent.
B.22 Respondents (including employees in employee Research) must not be unduly pressurised to participate.
B.23 Members must delete any responses given by Respondents, if requested, and if this is reasonable and practicable.
B.24 Recruiters/Interviewers must not reveal to any other Respondents the detailed answers provided by any Respondent or the Identity of any other Respondent interviewed.

I’m sure I’ll get further updates of the questions the producers were asked, but my concern is that Miller are upfront, give their company name and then tell the producers that they are being paid by Wag to find out a little more about each festival Wag is funding.

If you have any comments to make please do share your views with others, you don’t even need to leave your name!

 
 

Carmarthen Food Festival

27 Jul

As I have already posted, it’s the day for producer complaints. This is the third today and now directed at Carmarthen. I attended this festival last year and was most unhappy to have producers complaining about the differing amounts that were being charged for tradestands. It seems though that lessons have not been learned.

I’m told this year that the local paper is again helping to organise and is trying to get tradestands to attend, saying that their trade stand booking includes an advert in the paper, but which makes the total price for one stand, for one day, £120.00.  But I’ve also  been told that if producers contact Carmarthen Council directly, the charge for a stand for the day is £40.00. What a difference!!! But that that makes the local paper is charging £80.00 for one advert.

I hope that all our producers with us on our Best Of Welsh & Borders have not got caught into paying £120.00 for one days’ trading. I am at a total loss as to how you get organisers, as well as the Welsh Government, to understand that our producers are selling food and they have to sell an enormous amount of food before they have even covered the cost of a £120.oo stand.

 

What’s your view on this and the many other topics posted on welshfoodbites?

You have nothing to fear by leaving your comments. I and many others too, enjoy reading them, even if you disagree with me – that’s still allowed! You can be certain your details will only be known to me and that’s where they’ll stay – you have my word. You don’t even have to put your name, a pen name or nickname will suffice, although we do have a large number of ‘traders’ signed in, that’s fine. It’s the content that matters, what you’re happy with, what you are cross about, what in your view needs changing, etc.

 

 
 

Great British Cheese Festival

27 Jul

I had a long chat with a very upset tradestander today who had applied for a stand at this event. Not being a cheesemaker, they’d applied for a stand in the non-cheese area. The company application was duly completed and sent off in January for a closing date of the last week in May. The trader rang for an update in June and was told “the Cardiff team were very busy. Surely they could understand the Cardiff team were busy looking after The Jubilee and that was taking up a lot of time”. The company was told to ring again at the end of July. They did so and were then told, “we are very busy with The Olympics and haven’t time to do anything with the Cheese Festival, ring again mid August”……………

When anyone tells me that they’ve not been able to do a job I’d  expected them to do, with the reason it hasn’t been done is because they were ‘too busy’ is in my view, very insulting and very rude. What they are saying to you is that you’re not as important as all the other things I have to do, so tough luck…………..

However to be told ring again, is a double whammy. Firstly you’re not important, but secondly the onus is on you to keep ringing us because you want a stand and we can stop you having one – we have the power!

The Cardiff team once again take Customer Service to another level, though sadly it’s a very low one. For this company to have to ring Cardiff once again in mid August for an event the following month is pathetic, even for Cardiff. How does this company know whether to give up on Cardiff as a lost cause and look for somewhere else to go?

Who would have thought that the people this company were talking to, were, in theory, actually Civil Servants? Do these Cardiff guys give a toss that this company are some of the people that actually contribute to their wages? It would have been a different story if this company had missed the application deadline wouldn’t it? But seemingly Cardiff can treat traders however they like. I’m sure this trader, like me would love the security of their secure monthly pay check – do you think they’d like to do a job swap?

Well at least this year Wag Food turned down their application for £20k to fund this event.

Do hope our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers are not having this hassle – it really is not good enough.

 
 

Lampeter Food Festival

27 Jul

Today must be the day for unhappy trader phone calls into our office. Now it’s Lampeter’s turn, who are going OTT on their charges for electric. I’ve been told that if traders paid their electric charge with their trade stand application, the charge is £36.00, if they ask for electric on the day the charge is then £40.00.

Not sure how many hours there are for trading so went onto their website and could only find an official opening time of 11.00. I’m guessing that the festival kicks off at 10.00 and is open for around 6 hours. So that gives a rough price of £6.00 per hour for electric, which in my view is more than rather steep to say the least, where do they get this price from? Even though wag have dipped into their coffers and given the festival £6,150 for the day’s event, it seems as ever the traders are not helped.

I note that many of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers are in booked in and I really do hope that you have a good day and take lots of money. Sorry not to be there but even though Lampeter is much closer, I’m off to the Really Wild Festival instead. Really Wild have been long time supporters of Welsh Country magazine so it’s off to Pembroekshire for me tomorrow.

 
 

Royal Welsh Show – Where Their Money Comes From

26 Jul

I was interested to study some figures from RWAS and thought some might be of interest to you, showing the growth of this venue.

In 1981 for the four day show attendance was 155,606 with £55,497 subscriptions/memberships. Gate receipts and entry fees were £403,072 with surplus £89,715 and capital expenditure of £87,170. The Surplus (Deficit) does not included Life Membership and Restricted Fund Income and expenditure.

In 1991 attendances were, 219,053 and subscriptions £157,449. Gate receipts and entry fees were £1,034,522, surplus £122,260 and capital expenditure £343,970.

In 2011 attendances were 227,513 and subscriptions were £475,198. Gate receipts and entry fees were £2,038,734, surplus/deficit (£9,887) and capital expenditure £1,398,676.

Membership of the RWAS is currently 18,375 and the new Members’ Centre was built next to the main ring for the 2011 show. Each year a Welsh county is featured and that county raises funds during the year in which they are featured at the show. The money raised is devoted to special projects for the showground development, nominated by the individual feature county. About one-third of the £12million invested in the showground has been raised by the counties.

Generous contributions have been made by the Local Authorities to the Feature Counties during the period 1963 to 2008. From 2009 onwards, a consolidated package of Local Government funding was secured for the RWAS. The Welsh Local Government Association has set up the mechanism which provides assurance of funding by administering a top slice arrangement with a sum set aside each year from the Local Government settlement.

 

 
 

Aberaeron Farmers’ Market

25 Jul

Well I must offer my congratulations to Ceredigion County Council who have at last today, sent me a press release telling me that Aberaeron market was launched recently and that is coincided with the visit of the HRH Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Well folks, just to remind you HRH visit there was on 11thJuly!!!

I’m sure there must have been a reason that I couldn’t have been told before the 11th but perhaps Ceredigion County Council felt it worthy of keeping it a secret…………….. maybe because it is only running until mid September that CCC didn’t think it worth telling media until now.

I’m sure many of our  Best Of Welsh & Borders producers would have liked CCC to get behind this market and perhaps have kicked it off with some marketing & promotion.

It is sad that the people of Aberaeron are not worthy of a regular farmers’ market all year round and disappointing that the recent expensive Fork2Fork programme couldn’t  have helped markets like this get set-up properly, but sadly that wasn’t to be was it?

 
 

Local Welsh Food At Royal Welsh Show

25 Jul

There was huge relief all round that the sun shone on the showground in Builth Wells. I visited on Monday and after signing in at the press Office and able to get a cup of PG Tips …….despite the fact that Welsh Brew Tea had two stands at the show; I made my way to the Food Hall. Before I entered the Welsh Food Hall, I had to pass a mobile van selling ice-cream, nothing wrong in that you might think, but you’d be wrong, this van was Kelly’s Of Cornwall, yes guys Cornwall!!! In our Welsh Food Hall there must have been at least three Welsh producers selling ice-cream and the quality of their product I know is second to none but why should they have to compete with a van from Cornwall just outside the Food Hall? Is there a Cornwall foodie insider working on their behalf in the RWAS? Or is there another reason for Cornwall ice-cream to have such a prominent position alongside our Food Hall. Now please don’t think that Kelly’s of Cornwall is a mini family business, because I didn’t walk the entire Welsh Showground I counted a total of three Kelly stands there. Now of course I’m aware just buy looking at the ‘quality’ of some of the stands at the outer reaches of the show ground that the RWAS must take any stand that wishes to attend, but is it really beyond the comprehension of RWAS and Wag Food to put in at least some effort to push Welsh food first.

I saw a few red banners bearing Welsh Assembly Government logo, saying there were supporting rural business, but perhaps micro and small food producers don’t come under Wag’s count of rural businesses. You hardly need to be the ‘Brain of Wales’ to work out that this mobile ice-cream van could easily have been sited elsewhere, it is after all a very large show ground and all it needed was a little thought and for Wag Food to recall who they are actually working for. Perhaps this might just get me into another game of ping pong when Wag might say it is not their jurisdiction and pass it over to RWAS, but if that’s the case RWAS might care to recall that Wag is possibly their biggest single benefactor. For as I understand it Wag allegedly put into the RWAS coffers via various means £1m for the summer show. Wag ‘occasionally’ forgets that those doing the paying, do the saying too.  Wag does use this ploy elsewhere, but that is another story to be aired here later.

So that was my day off to a poor start, but could it get worse? Sadly yes it could and it did. As I walked around the Food Hall, and I did that many times during the day, what struck me, as it did when Wag first opened this building is a total lack of anywhere to sit. There where no seating areas inside at all and it got to the stage where some people had no option but to sit on the floor. Good heavens what is life coming to that this obvious one to me anyway, is not important to the powers-that-be? There was space for seating areas to be done, as they were last year, but if you go onto Preseli Coffee or visit Welsh Brew Tea for a well earned cuppa, it appears you just wander around trying to drink it. As for food if you wish to buy some of the fabulous food on offer, then you eat on the hoof or go outside and find an area of grass to camp down. People resorted to sitting on the concrete steps outside and because the weather was lovely and warm, I guess that was better than nothing for them. But this area was not cleaned on a regular basis, not sure that I actually saw that many cleaners on my travels. But surely the infamous Food Hall should be a priority for cleanliness. I did find around one corner of the Hall just a few tables and chairs, but there was no bin sited there, just a few plastic bags tied to railings and the floor was nothing short of a disgrace. The demo kitchen, which ran last year in the Food Hall wasn’t there this year, but even that extra space didn’t spur Wag to provide a seating area. I would have thought that the longer we can keep people interested in the Food Hall the more opportunities for our producers to sell to them – but what do I know? Answers by email only please!!!!!!

So Wag; if that’s your showcase of Welsh Food, your standards need to rise. There were some outstanding producers in the Food Hall and many of them were our Best Of Welsh & Borders and I was delighted to be associated with them. What a choice of food on offer but what a dreadful shame I felt that they were let down by Wag once again.

I was told that Horeb Food Centre was having some sort of event in the room above the Food Hall, but think my invite got lost in the post, unless Horeb Food Centre had nothing to tell the press.

I was told by one producer that it cost £750 for a single fronted stand and £900 for a corner stand; this includes a table and two chairs and two tickets per day. Well although this is for four days, it’s still a huge amount of money bearing in mind if you want an extra table, that’s another twenty pounds, there was no chiller area this year, but of course if you wished to hire a fridge from them they could do that – for another fee. Last year the traders had a coffee and tea machine and water provided, this year they only had water, but no explanation for the change this year, maybe they are expected to just be grateful they got water included for their £750 fee. I’ve just checked my old records for RWAS 2008. According to the letter I have it says that it costs Wag £50k plus vat to hire the old Food Hall for the summer show alone and an additional £180k plus vat for stand build, graphics and dressing. In 2010 my info states a single fronted stand £355 plus vat and £405 plus vat for a corner stand. In 2011 prices I have show £600 plus vat which is £750 for a single fronted stand and £700 plus vat for a corner stand which is £875.

Every time I go into this new Food Hall, I cannot forget that this building was designed by a food expert, no doubt at huge cost, bearing in mind the bill was £1.6m, but on the plus side at least after the first shambolic opening in 2010, the stands are no longer in long straight runs, so it does work better and allows much easier traffic flow. But that is really my only plus point. Wag Food pay the RWAS £100k per year so that they have this building for the Royal and the Winter Fair, which is a lot of money to then fail to showcase the Best Of Welsh food – and of course that figure is only the start of the costs. For the old Food Hall, Wag paid £50k per year to RWAS, so a 50% increase is not a bad earner for the RWAS is it?

Farmers’ Market
The warm weather certainly played into the hands of the Farmers’ Market which had about 10 quality stands and wooden tables and benches so people could buy and eat and drink. It proved a popular area and I hope that it is a good four days trading for our producers.

HCC -Hybu Cig Cymru

Sorry guys, I’d forgotten I’d been invited to an HCC breakfast and press conference and listened to the HCC Chairman and the Deputy Food Minister each give an address, both delighted with the export sales they have achieved this year and that they had invited a party of Italians over in an effort to win our trade for that market. I just wished I’d had both those men with me at a Slow Food Movement lunch I was invited to last week. A lady who had recently moved to Wales complained to me that she struggled to find Welsh meat in her local supermarket and why was that considering all around her cottage she’s surrounded by sheep. I suggested she rang HCC, but there was no hope that would happen, she was just so annoyed that buying Welsh meat should be a challenge. So I gave her a copy of Welsh Country magazine – highlighted her nearest butchers and she was happy.

Over the years we’ve talked to HCC endlessly by phoning, hoping we could find a way to work together and obviously help our local butchers especially those already with us on Best Of Welsh & Borders listing, but also to help local butchers in their battle against the supermarkets. We’ve even had a meeting with them, which was not fruitful and we’ve talked regularly with their PR Agency, who did tell one of my team she ‘was too passionate about Welsh food’ – can you believe that? So there’s no point me mentioning this issue again with HCC because they don’t believe what I’m saying. So no progress there for, whilst they are busy bragging about their exports.

Stubbins Marketing and Puffin Produce both had stands there, generously giving away samples and encouraging people to buy in their local supermarket – great. So this raises my next question, what’s the point of the Royal Welsh Food Hall?

It appears to me that Wag focus the food hall to help promote Welsh food to the supermarkets. Indeed the Royal Welsh has to be the show where all the UK food buyers for the bigger supermarkets and wholesalers are all present. So it follows that the larger food producers should be in attendance and presenting their produce in the most professional manner. For these companies the restrictions of the food hall maybe isn’t quite right for their companies. Perhaps a corner stand isn’t big enough for them. They might want more space, they might want more raz ma taz and to be able to offer a little hospitality on their stand. On the other hand in the promotion from the Royal Welsh, it highlights the Food Hall as a fantastic place for the farmer’s wife and the family to go and find excellent Welsh food; it doesn’t say you’ll then struggle to eat it. This is a wonderful concept and should be applauded, but the two do not really go together. Indeed by putting the two together in my view spoil both sides of this coin. This hinders supplies to the supermarkets because the buyers are not treated with true VIP hospitality as they are at some speciality wholesale shows, but for the smaller producers selling to the general public, they are hindered with supposed restrictions on sales and not good facilities for the public to enjoy the food that they purchase. I do accept that some smaller producers do wish to go the supermarket route too but this is not difficult to sort out – simply ask them!!!! There must be a better way to make more out of what should be an amazing showcase for our artisan producers and they have never needed Wag’s support more to fight the recession and for many the supermarkets too, but if only they could get that support.

I do understand that it will not be easy answer, but please WAG bring your head out of the sand and face facts, actually engage with producers and just to be clear, I mean talk to them and then listen carefully to what they say – do realise that this will not be a simple task for you because many producers simply don’t trust you as civil servants, they don’t believe you have their best interests at heart in fact many don’t think you are interested ion tghem at all. But as some members of the food team can’t even say hello to producers at these types of events, you have a long hard road to climb, but it is of your own making.

Things can be improved to the benefit of all, to the reputation of Wales as a whole and more importantly for Welsh food to all sectors of society.

The speech made by the Deputy Food Minister at the HCC breakfast was very full, and from industry people I spoke to later in the day, their view was it was very full of hot air and Bet Fred could have taken good money on the number of times that the Deputy Minister said talk. Talking is good, but only good if it is linked with listening, that is why we have one mouth and two ears. It has been said by the Deputy Minister and others from the Welsh Food Department and its many institutional offshoots, that there is very little wrong and they hear very few complaints from food producers.

All businesses know that it is looking at the weaker areas of their business and it is by improving these areas that good businesses succeed and grow, i.e. by being self critical. May be we can all learn from one of the best and brightest business men to walk the planet – Bill Gates who once said “I am self-critical … I’m always searching for things I’m NOT perfect in.”

 
 

Co-op Bank Aquires 632 Lloyds High Street Branches

20 Jul

This is not one of my normal foodie tales, but if this acquisition does go through, I wonder if it might be a help to many producers who are no longer having the happy relationship they used to have with their banks.  So often I hear tales of banks saying ‘of course we’ll lend you an umbrella, but only when it is not raining and then of course there are fees………’

Many of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers would love to return to the good old banking days, days when you had a manager that not only knew your business, but actually knew you by face. Instead what the big four offer is endless box-ticking, foreign call centres, and as for a manager – they are few and far between.

Ethical banking, is a label that would make most of us laugh until out sides ache, but say ethical banking about the Co-op and you’ll find people agreeing and praising the Co-ops standards and credentials. Could this be the much needed breath of fresh air
that our banking industry needs and our SMEs are so desperate for.

As the Co-op is so strong on Fair Trade, I hope that this new retail arm of the Co-op markets and promotes themselves sensibly to micro and small businesses and gives them the support that few other banks have been bothered to do in the past. If they can achieve that then the Big 4 Banks will suffer and not before time in my view…….

Please do let me know your experiences with the Big 4 Banks and your view on the Co-op banks too

 
 

Welsh Food Festival Funding – Who Knows How It Actually Works?

18 Jul

I sent questions through about food festival budget for 2012/13, about those festivals who were unsuccessful in securing funding
1. Can you clarify if any of the unsuccessful applicants listed below were then able to receive WG funding from another budget?

 

Food & Drink Festivals who were unsuccessful in securing funding
Portmeirion Food Festival

£8,102.00

Carmarthen Xmas Food Fest

£10,000.00

Chapter Festive Fair

£3,000.00

Get Welsh in Swansea

£9,994.00

Llanelli Food Festival

£14,994.00

Bedwellty Christmas Food Fair

£12,950.00

Swansea First

Not Specified

Broneirion Easter Food Festival

£2,000.00

Real Food Fete

£3,500.00

The Big Welsh Bite

£39,711.20

The Welsh Menu

£70,000.00

Haverfordwest, Beer, Cider & LP

£4,764.16

Brecon Beacons Summer Fayre

£4,000.00

Crymych Food Festival

£5,000.00

Gwyl Fwyd Blas Tywi

£7,500.00

The Great British Cheese Festival

£20,000.00

Gower Festival of Food

£4,500.00

Fishguard Autumn Fair

£5,000.00

International Sheepdog Trials

£20,000.00

Response to question 1.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “No other funding mechanism within the Food, Marketing and Development Division would be applicable. It would fall to the organiser to seek other funding mechanisms.

2. Can you explain why there is no figure against Swansea First festival? Surely this event was not allowed to submit an application for funding without stating an amount?

Response to question 2.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The information submitted for Swansea First Festival was incomplete and no figure was provided by the application form closing date.”

3. Could you explain as to how the decision was arrived at to award Pembrokeshire Fish Week £31,671.00 for a food festival which took place over one day at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire as against Really Wild Food Festival, Pembrokeshire being awarded £11,963.77as two day festival and Abergavenny being awarded £46,800.00 for a 2/3 day festival. What criteria were used to make these judgements?

Response to question 3.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “There is no recorded information to state specifically how application forms are appraised. Each application form is unique, and is judged on its own merits. One size does not fit all.”

Follow on questions:

1. Who is responsible for attending all the Welsh Government’s funded food festivals to ensure their criteria are being adhered too?

2. Is this duty being undertaken by WG food department, or has this been farmed out by WG to an agency?
3. It the work has gone to an agency, which one and at what cost per festival?
4. If this work has gone to an agency, when was this work tendered for? Which companies applied?

A Welsh Government spokesperson said:
“Miller Research Evaluation Consulting ensure food festival funding criteria is adhered to on behalf of the Welsh Government.

“The invite to tender for the evaluation was issued to all relevant qualifying organisations within the Government framework, in accordance with fair and open competition. Only one response was received.

“The tender submission does not break down costs per festival attendance.”

Well I hope that you feel that sending these questions through was worth the effort – I wish I thought it was, but of course I don’t.  One size has never, ever, fitted all – touch of the patronising there methinks – one size has never fitted all even in the weird world of government, but are we not entitled to know how this festival funding procedure works? It is public money that is being spent after all, but seemingly not, according to wag. Is it any wonder that so many of us feel that it’s a favouritism, rather than a framework system that is working in government? Transparency in government and in the civil service does not appear to be with us yet!!!

What I do find totally amazing is that in the time of a tough ongoing recession, that there are companies on wags’ framework or ‘favoured list’, but only one of them wanted the work apart …… and yes, now you know the winning company was again Miller Research…………………………………….

I’ve now asked which companies are on the ‘favoured/ framework’ because I’m intrigued to know which companies are so busy, that they don’t need or require extra work. If you have ideas why any other companies wouldn’t have gone for this, do tell me. Would they really think it was a waste of time them bothering?

 

 

 
 

Update On The Welsh Food Summit

18 Jul

Published in full is the written statement on the Welsh Food Summit and Workshop – 12th July 2012, held at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes states:

On Thursday July 12 I convened a Welsh Food Conference at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne. I am very grateful to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for agreeing to attend the conference and for giving the opening address. His Royal Highness has been a consistent and strong supporter of food producers in Wales and his vision for a sustainable and successful food sector is one that is both compelling and persuasive.
The Welsh Government is committed to doing all we can to deliver a thriving and sustainable food sector that is able to support and sustain employment and prosperity across the whole of Wales. I am confident that there is a long term viable future for our food and drink industry but aware that there are challenges as well as opportunities.

The purpose of last week’s conference was to bring together people from across the different parts of the food supply chain to discuss how the Welsh Government can strengthen its work to support food production in Wales. I am anxious to listen to key people in the industry and ensure that their views shape the future development of the Welsh Government’s approach.
There are opportunities for change now – arising from the latest round of CAP reform and the need for a new Rural Development Plan beyond 2013. The Food and Farming Sector Panel is providing the Government with advice on taking forward economic development policy and I will focus during the summer on how I expect the Government to deliver its food strategy. I will be making a further written statement in the autumn which captures the views of the conference and delivers this vision for Wales.
As you are aware I was not invited to this food summit, apparently if I was a part of the Royal Welsh Press Corps I would have been! Not quite sure why I couldn’t have been invited as a member of the audience, but I’ll leave that with you to ponder on………..
I’ve asked who was invited, but wag could not reveal this information, as according to them this is against Data Protection issue. . I’ve now taken further advice and submitted an FOI to see if this is a secret that can be uncovered.

My concern is that Mr Davies is talking to only ‘key’ people in the food industry, as I guess he was talking to ‘key’ people at his Dairy Summit held a few weeks ago.To me this seems to read that this statement does not cover micro and very small producers, they can never be called ‘key’. Of course they don’t have a recognised voice either, so how does government know their views and concerns? The fact that you don’t have a voice is of course down to you as producers to sort, but email me if you need more information. My interest as always is our Best Of Welsh producers and they deserve to be consulted and heard too.

I’d be interested in your views on this. If you wish to leave a comment be assured that you can, and will, remain anonymous.