Did You Know That FBA’s Well Paid Contract Has Been Extended?

09 Jan

Am I the only Welsh media person interested in food that had no idea that FBA’s well paid contract had been extended? Hopefully you Best Of Welsh & Borders producers will make me feel better by telling me you didn’t know either. Does anybody have any ideas why wag wouldn’t want me to know this bit of news? Can they really beleive that I’m no longer interested in Welsh food? Surely not…….

Follws is the FOI I sent through on 29th November. I had to chase wag after they missed their 20 working day time limit. I’m puzzled as to why it was so difficult to track down this information, but then I’m thankfully not a civil servant, playing it seems to me, another game of smoke and mirrors. The FOI is shown in full as follows:

Request for Information – Reference ATISN 6721

 In your request you asked:

 1. The Fork2Fork website is still being updated and Fork2Fork are also actively following welshcountrymagazine on Twitter. Can you explain how this is being funded and who is paying for this website work, considering this project concluded in September 2011.

2. Under this project, FBA purchased a promotional trailer to take to events. So what has happened to this trailer now?

a) Who has use of it?

b) Was this trailer sold to them?

c) If so what was the cost?

d) Where did the purchase fee go?

3. A copy of the report that was undertaken at the end of this project by Miller Research. Our response to your request is as follows.


1. Francis Balsom Associates are delivering the Fork2Fork project which is funded under the Supply Chain Efficiencies Scheme, Axis 1 of the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-13 which was originally approved to 30 June 2011 and has been extended to 31 March 2014.

2. As the project has been extended the promotional trailer remains in the ownership of FBA for the delivery of the project.

3. The information you have requested is already in the public domain and can be accessed using the following link

Because we consider this information to be available to you by other means we are not required to provide you with a copy of the information under Section 21 of the FOIA ‘Information accessible to the applicant by other means’. This is an absolute exemption and is not subject to the public interest or substantial harm tests.

Well dear reader, it seems I have managed to open another can of worms and don’t worry, follow-up questions have already been sent through. I would have expected to have been told officially by wag that this contract had been extended, via a press release. But wag obviously think I have nothing better to do than carry on sending FOIs through, just because their press department can’t be bothered to keep the media informed. The other way of looking at this is perhaps this was simply wag simply sweeping it under their carpet – again!!! But it wasn’t sent to me, so why not? Was this a deal done with FBA in secret? Well that is the way it looks to me, which makes this issue even worse as this scheme has been troubled with distrust from when the contract was awarded.

I have asked for a copy of the evaluation report undertaken in case you weren’t aware, or couldn’t guess, by Miller Research and was told that it was the property of FBA and I had to ask them for a copy. But no-one thought to let me know it was then in the public domain – IO wonder why? Communication is the key wag and it’s a pity your press team have not got this message through to your food team. So now dear reader you can enjoy some bedtime reading by getting this report yourself. I can’t of course guarantee it will send you to sleep, you might feel angry as I do now, after only skimming a few pages. What annoyed me most  were quotes about how wonderful FBA were and how wonderful this project was, but no-one was identified, no doubt to protect the under the Data Protection Act. Well I’m always happier with names along with quotes, but wag prefers to keep people hidden. Apart from stakeholder, stakeholder was busy spouting, and being cynical it always then seems to me to be a fairy story. One part that did rile me enormously was a quote, identified again as from a stakeholder saying: FBA have a tough remit to cover the whole of Wales, acknowledging the level of animosity to anything funded by the Welsh Government.

Well sorry to disagree, but that in my view is total rubbish. Like me, many people in the food industry don’t always object to anything funded by wag, we often object to  how these expensive tenders are awarded. We object to some of the silly schemes that wag come up with. We object to how much European and taxpayers money is wasted. We object strongly how many of these expensive projects rarely give taxpayer value-for-money. Is that enough to keep you going for now?

I’ll update you dear reader when I am able to……………


    January 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    How on earth did this happen? This was obviously arranged before wag top dog changed.
    You’ve called many of these problems can of worms well my view is this is another instance of wag food stinking to high heaven.
    How has this happened and what are FBA getting paid now? What are they doing for their money?
    I cannot believe how you dig all this detail out, but I tell you my BOW is the best value for money ever. We knew nothing of this waste of our money until you started your mission against wag
    I cannot put into words how disgusted I am with this lot.

  2. admin

    January 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I’ve gone back with more FOI questions to see who authorised this and why but it was done under the old regime – which I’m sure you’ll undestand.
    I’m pleased BOW is worth it for you and pleased too that you think I’m uncovering a lot about wag food.
    I have not got a mission against wag food, but I had massive, massive problems with the old food guard. My mission is to ensure we as taxpayers get value for money from wag and I want to see more accountability for that dept. I want them to understand how tough life can be for micro/small producers and how frustrating it is seeing the same companies getting help and winning awards and others ignored often because their face doesn’t fit. That’s not acceptable.

    I’m still hopeful things might improve but it will depend on the new person that comes in – until that happens and ‘we’ are happy with the new appointment, life is still a worry in Welsh food.
    If I wish to be really fair I must say again that producers are often their worst enemies. Plus you know how much grief I’ve given to some festival organisers over the years.
    But let’s wait and see what happens and whilst we wait, I’ll keep you in the loop of any progress in other areas.

  3. RU Joking

    January 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    RU joking Kath?
    Producers know anything when wag are dishing more money out to FBA again? Think you’re being silly. You are usually our only source of information and goodness knows how you unearthed this one. £800k was not enough to throw at them the first time, they’ve come back for seconds the greedy lot. Then wag believe they did such a good job it warrants going on and on as long as we pay for it. We all tought this scheme was dead and gone, but why hasn’t it?
    I remember you said Miller were evaluating this project at the end of two years, which is how Europe works. Throw money at them and make them tick boxes and then do a review, which of course we’ll pay for. Is this what is meant by money for old rope?
    Anyone got any old rope spare? I’m now waiting for the update

  4. cupcake

    January 17, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    my main outlets are markets and food festivals. But despite the whacking big amounts of money thrown at these 2 areas, neither are working. £80k in a project that was supposed to help markets was a total waste of money. Reviews can be done again and again but the truth is it has been money thrown away well done wag and Europe
    having said that we traders are often at fault because we are too scared to tell people the truth in case we are penalised later
    kath is the one we open up to and it hasn’t done her and the magazine any good being honest. Say wag food are wonderful and doing a great job and you’re in with a chance.
    All that has occured is companies like FBA and the review company get more and more government money thrown at them and they don’t do a decent job for us.
    This site which has run for ages shows easily that we can be honest here, The news on here is just what we need but no-one takes any notice, very little improves, the only growth is in the favoured comnpanies bank accounts.

  5. Producer

    January 21, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    No-one in the wag food dept is going to tell us anything that we NEED to know let alone anything we just might find of interest
    You and the team with you are our only source of information and it certainly isn’t your job to do this amount of work for us.
    it is quite unbelievable that money in food is constantly cut, but stupid grants like these are given out time and time again, plus Miller will no doubt do a further review
    I can’t believe the waste of this department, is it only food producers that understand the value of money?