RSS
 

Archive for December, 2013

Rural Hero Of Wales – Countryside Alliance Award

24 Dec

Well what a surprise – I’ve been nominated for a Countryside Alliance Award, A Rural Hero Of Wales. Although I’ve been nominated once before, it is thrilling to be nominated once again this year, but I’ve certainly never thought of myself as a rural hero, rural pest or rural nuisance, but never a hero!
Last week I was informed that ‘several impassioned nominations’ had been received by the Countryside Alliance, ‘about the hard work I’ve put into promoting Welsh produce, and the tough questions that I’m not afraid to ask of Welsh politicians.’ The Countryside Alliance are ‘keen to show their support for the incredible work I am doing and would like to honour me as a Rural Hero of Wales’. I’m relieved I was not judged on the quality, or not, of the responses I’ve received!
The Rural Hero Award is not part of the main Countryside Alliance Awards – it is something that they, as judges award only occasionally, and sparingly, to those who they feel are truly exceptional. They do not grant a Rural Hero Award every year. It’s therefore a special Award that the judges feel encompasses the spirit of the Rural Oscars.
So I’m invited to a reception next March in Cardiff and I will be honoured along with Monmouthshire Postmistress Myra Bowen who seems to hold her community together single handed. Well I can’t wait to meet her and find out how she’s managed to motivate her community. Having not named a Rural Hero at Cardiff Bay before, the Countryside Alliance are thrilled to be naming two for 2014 and cannot overstate what a special Award this is, so Myra and I have been very lucky.
There’s further amazement for me as I’ve been told that it’s not just one person who has nominated me, but several. It’s hard to believe that food producers, who I’m guessing they are, can find the time and energy to nominate me when they are working under so much pressure and have such heavy workloads. So far I’ve not been told who these producers are, but have asked and hope it’s not a secret, as I’d certainly like to thank them for taking so much trouble on my behalf.  Welsh food and drink is important to Welsh Country magazine and certainly important to Wales and our food producers need all the support they can get in such tough trading climates.
I’d also like to say that I’m not running solo here at welshfoodbites and at Welsh Country magazine. Ian and I have a very small, but brilliant team who are all as passionate about Welsh food and drink, and our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, as we are – so this is very much a team effort.

 
 

A Further Update On Winter Fair

19 Dec

It goes without saying that Ian and I spent a lot of time in the food hall at the Winter Fair and it was a good opportunity to chat to our Best Of Welsh & Border producers that were there and at the Farmers’ Market.

I was though asked a number of questions that I couldn’t answer and I’ll show a selection:

  • I was asked if the new Head of Food had already left his post.
  • Then another asked who is, and where is the new Head Of Food? Another asked why the new Head of Food wasn’t touring the stands and finding out about them?
  • A further producer asked why the old Head Of Food was spending so much time in the food hall.
  • Some producers were cross to learn that some producers were attending for free. Something that happened at the RWAS too.
  • A question was asked of me why where Puffin Produce again allowed in the food hall to basically do PR. This producer wondered if it was because wag food had funded them rather well.
  • I’d also been told, again by a producer, that 8-9 Wavehill people attended the Hay festival and why was that as he understood Wavehill were doing a telephone survey on food festival funding. Yet another question I couldn’t answer because I’d been told officially that CLES/Wavehill were doing this evaluation through completed paperwork and by telephone. I wondered if this has now changed and asked if the fee for CLES/Wavehill had been increased for this extra work. If not weren’t both these companies being initially overpaid?

I sent this through on 5th December to a wag food official who actually came up to me for a chat at the Winter Fair. I thought I’d made it clear saying that I wasn’t posting these questions on welshfoodbites, thinking it would be helpful to their department to know what the food producers were saying, and annoying for me that I couldn’t answer the, but there we are. The workings of wag food still remain a mystery to me. I really thought that I’d made it crystal clear that my intention was to be helpful, to try and get the Welsh food team to understand what the actual feeling was amongst producers at the Winter Fair. I also stated: that I have to accept that I’m probably wasting yet more of my time being an unpaid wag food spy…………………    

Well wasting my time was the complete understatement of this year – and that is saying something with this department. My questions weren’t answered; instead I received an email saying my questions were being referred to the press office. Well if I thought for a nanno second that the press office would be interested, able or prepared to answer these questions, then I would do what I’m constantly told to do – go through the press office. But as initially these questions were not being published, there didn’t seem to me to be any point – but I’m wrong again!!!!

My email, stating these were sent to the food department to help them, was ignored, no doubt because the food department might still feel they are doing a great job. Which I guess is an easy mistake to make when this department seems incapable of either talking or listening to the food producers they are supposed to be working for. I’m not interested in hearing time and time again that: there is now a new regime in the food department. We want to work with you and get your views. Well that’s rubbish. Firstly this site isn’t all my views it’s from food producers who are with us on Best Of Welsh & Borders and other producers who are happy to talk to us because they know we can be trusted. If wag want to ‘work’ with us why am I still being sent around in circles and no-one wishes to answers my questions? If wag food were doing the job we are paying them for, then I wouldn’t have endless questions directed at me would I? The basic fact is wag food are not trusted by the producers. Wag don’t talk to producers. Wag don’t listen to producers  either or for that matter do they listen to me. If they did I wouldn’t be asking the same questions each and every year.

Anyway by 16th December I’d had no reply, so chased it up to be asked can you clarify what you need this information for?  Having nothing else to do, apart from a looming press date, I replied and explained once again.

To be then asked: can you please tell me whether you need this information for the magazine or the website, or whether this is only an information gathering exercise?

I’ve also asked by a further email why the Head of Food wasn’t as the Winter Fair. But I was told in a nutshell, it was not the job of the press office to check out civil servants’ diaries. Well I’m asking a specific. This is about one man, one diary – one guy who is in one of the most powerful roles in Welsh food and drink. Why is such a simple question so difficult for civil servants to grasp and answer?  I’m not interested in general civil servants diaries, why would I be? It’s me asking about the new man in post, the top man in the food department.

Isn’t the most important point here that I’m relaying questions that were from food producers? If any of the wag food people were badge up and had spent their time touring the food hall – maybe, just maybe, some brave food producers would have been able to ask their questions directly. But many of the food team weren’t badged up, they often didn’t have business cards, but perhaps they didn’t feel it was a working day for them so these, what in my mind are basics, weren’t needed. I think I could safely lay money that the wag food team didn’t go around and speak to our food producers, if they had why would their questions have been directed at me?

I was appalled our Head of Food wasn’t there. But the crux of the matter is I’ve I’ve spent too much time, writing lots of emails, to lots of civil servants who were not able to actually read and understand what I was trying to achieve. So why am I bothering? I’m bothering because I want to support our food producers which is the job wag food can’t seem to be able to do.

I’d no intention of posting this – although, with hindsight, it would have been the easiest and quickest way for me to air these problems from the food hall. Annoyingly it’s been a total waste of my time and effort and it’s infuriated me beyond belief, hence my sharing it with you. It will also go as an apology to those producers whose questions I could not get answered. It feels like my failure but the bottom line is, in my view, a wag food department failure.

I was told in the food hall, and not by a producer – that I was wag food’s most severe critic – well I wonder why that is wag? If you have difficulty answering that question just read welshfoodbites, in full, and remember its food producers speaking to you too!!! I’m probably one of the few people stupid enough and prepared to keep wasting their time and energy trying to get the food department to understand what is happening out there. I should have more sense after nine years of being bullied by this department. I must admit that. But in my defence I thought the new regime would change that attitude, now I’m not convinced. You might wonder why I bother and that’s a question I ask myself – daily. But we have over 125 food producers with us on our Best Of Welsh & Borders as advertisers, not to mention eateries and accommodation providers. Welsh Country magazine has always said that we’ll support our advertisers, what Ian and I didn’t appreciate was how frustrating it would be with the Welsh food department. I don’t expect wag food to put on record that they appreciate the work that we are doing, but doesn’t this clearly show that that they have no intention of working with us? That they don’t need our help? I’m not just talking advertising here, but understand food producers and the difficulties they continue to face.

So continue to read welshfoodbites wag food, because as my emails are treated with contempt, that’s  the best way now you’ll find out what is really happening with food producers. Unless you think fork2fork might be able to keep you more up-to-date and you’ll feel that your latest £43k donation to them for 12 months work to copy and paste any press releases onto their website worthwhile? I don’t think so, but that’s another of your dubious money wasting decisions that many people do not agree with. £43k you live in another world than we do and have a total disregard for the value of tax payers money, even though the SCES scheme is European money, there should still be no difference.

 

 

 
 

Minister Disappoints Welsh Farmers

19 Dec

Today I’ve received the following press release that was sent out by NFU Cymru.

Welsh Farmers placed at competitive disadvantage, says NFU Cymru

Welsh Government’s decision to siphon 15% out of direct payments from 2014 and place into rural development activity will see Welsh farmers put at a significant competitive disadvantage compared to farmers in the rest of Europe, NFU Cymru said today.

Reacting to the announcement, NFU Cymru President, Ed Bailey said, “Farmers across Wales will be deeply disappointed and angered by today’s announcement, this support intended to help farmers cope with the volatility of the marketplace, to deliver food security and to ensure the highest production standards will be slashed in Wales by more than many of our major competitors on UK and EU food markets.

“France will see 3% of funds moved into Pillar 2, Germany 4.5% and Scotland proposes to move 9.5%. With Welsh Government deciding to move the 15% maximum amount of resource allowed by EU rules at the earliest opportunity it will make it far tougher for Welsh farmers to compete in the marketplace against food producers from these countries.

 “Whilst the Minister has said that the announcement he has made today will result in an extra £286 million to support rural activity in Wales what he fails to mention is that this money is not new money, it is a redeployment of existing resource that has effectively been taken directly off the bottom line of Welsh agriculture.

“With this money being moved into the Rural Development Programme from 2014 and as of yet no firm plan in place for how Welsh Government intends to spend this resource over the next seven years, there is, to my mind, a real danger that this money could be lost from Welsh agriculture.”

Mr Bailey continues, “We had strongly argued for the Minister to consider a phased approach to pillar transfer, taking only what was needed to fund existing commitments in the early years of the next RDP, increasing the rate when the new Rural Development Programme was fully up and running and when take up of new schemes could be better gauged.

“Now that the Minister has taken this decision, which will be deeply unpopular with the farming industry throughout Wales, he must ensure a damage limitation exercise and ensure that measures are put in place at the earliest opportunity to give all farmers a realistic opportunity to recover it to their farming businesses.”

This is another blow for our farmers and really makes we wonder why there is so little understanding, from the Minister and his food department, for the work and the pressures our farmers are working under in their effort to supply Welsh people with local food . It’s no wonder many of our Welsh farmers envy their French counterparts. The French are ‘only’ losing 3% as our Welsh Government – in it’s wisdom – is going to the maximum they are allowed to of 15%.

Although the Minister continues his political spin saying this will be £286 million saved, this is not new money coming in, it’s the Minister ‘cleverly’ redistributing money that is already there to the detriment of our farmers. I’ve heard more often that I care to count, of the Minister saying how important Welsh food and drink is to Wales. The Minister actually said that this year when he slashed the food festivals’ budget from about £339,281.21 in 2012 to £211.164,54. Yet his department’s press release was headlined, ‘New Funding To Help Food And Drink Festivals To Flourish’. Actually  I think we were the only media to point that financial cut out, but it’s not easy to flourish Mr Minister when that particular budget has been slashed by over £128K. Then we had it from him again at the Winter Fair — food is important to Wales, well the Minister’s spin doesn’t work on me and certainly will not pacify our Welsh farmers with this latest blow.

In an effort to be balanced, it must be difficult for many of our Welsh politicians to tell the public how it really is, spin seems to be the easiest way for them……………

 

 

 
 

Food Action – Consultation

16 Dec

For some unknown reason this framework tender slipped under our radar, so my thanks to one of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers who gave us the update about it. Figures for this framework are between £11m – £19m. I’ll leave you to give me your feedback………

Food Sector Development Framework

Published by: Welsh Government

Publication Date: 04/11/2013

Deadline Date: 16/12/2013

Deadline Time:14:00

Notice Type: Contract Notice

Abstract:

The Welsh Government Food Division are seeking to put in place a framework to provide a range of advice, guidance and project delivery across the following lots.
Lot 1 Trade Development Opportunities or Food & Drink Sector
Lot 2 Specialist Food & Drink Consultancy –Events
Lot 3 Specialist Food & Drink Consultancy – Services
Lot 4 Specialist Food & Drink Export Consultancy
Lot 5 Food & Drink related Research and Evaluation
Lot 6 Category Management – Retail, Wholesale & Public Procurement
Lot 7 Meet the Buyer Programme
Lot 8 Mentoring – Specialist Marketing & Business Skills Support
Lot 9 Programmes to support the Food & Drink Sector
The framework will be let for a period of 36 months with the option to extend for a further 12 months.
Please note that a bidder briefing day will be held in the Welsh Government Offices at Aberystwyth on 14 November.
To register for the event please send a message through the messaging section of the eTenderWales website through which this ITT is being run.
CPV: 73110000, 73210000, 73000000.

I cannot say that this is for the action plan that you are being consulted about, because it was known that this framework was coming up for renewal, but the timing is wonderfully coincidental!

I am far from understanding the total ways of government procurement, but this framework has been brought up over the past when I asked questions about why this work job was not available for tender etc.

It is supposedly a money saving exercise in that wag issued a tender such as this for various types of work, but at this stage nothing specific. So when for instance in the past wag required a consultation company, say to look at food festivals, it did not go out to open tender, but went to one of those already ‘approved’ by them – Miller Research who were on this framework list.

I understand the fact that wag wants to save money, but my past experiences are that this rarely seems to happen, and I can only see that this way the awarding of contracts makes them far less transparent. Certainly in the past it looked that wag’s favourite companies always got the work. For those regular readers of welshfoodbites I have already commented about this many times in the past……….

It does though appear that when wag decided what they are going to do after their ‘food and agriculture consultation’ launched at the Winter Fair, that all their favoured Welsh Quangos will be in place to do their bidding, ‘twas ever thus!

I hope that the consultation does bring change and I shall certainly be submitting comments and supporting those food producers based in Wales, especially those working with us on Best Of Welsh & Borders, many of which are the smaller artisan companies that make our range of Welsh food and drink the best there is. However I digress again. It worries me that change is not happening as quickly as it should be doing. There was a wonderful opportunity at the Winter Fair for wag to break down some of the longstanding barriers and mistrust that has been long-standing between them and the food producers. Despite there being a couple of meetings in the food hall where many suits and polished shoes were plentiful, but many without badges, I hasten to add. But there seemed a distinct lack of communication with the producers exhibiting. To me this should have been a priority, but not seemingly to wag. Proving again in my mind how out-of-touch they still are. This, added to the absence of some wag officials, in particular our new Head Of Welsh Food. There are too many to count that cannot actually believe that he chose to miss the Winter Fair. In my view that was a political and a promotional disaster and one that wag couldn’t afford. It was an error so basic as to be unbelievable, even in wag’s book.

The financial figures shown above figures cannot be more accurate as the framework will last for 3 years and not all projects are yet finalised. Supposedly many will not be formulated until the consultation has finished and your views taken into account, again a hope and by no means a certainty. Then obviously projects can be altered over the next 3 years.  This time of year is when we try and look forward with some renewed enthusiasm. As we come slowly out of recession, we should be looking at growth not survival, but this cannot and will not happen without all  parties co-operating. That must include food producers, of all sizes, plus manufacturers and retailers. It should also involve the likes of me on the sidelines, but as I continue to bang my head against the wag wall, it might not. I need to see and believe in a massive change in wag’s attitude and my optimism for this, which was there in the summer, is there no longer…………………………………….

 
 

Proper Welsh Milk

12 Dec

I’ve just received the following press release from Carmarthenshire Country Council which is shown in full:

The leader of Carmarthenshire County Council has promised the local authority will do all it can to help over the proposed closure of the Proper Welsh Milk dairy in Whitland.

Dairy Crest started consultation this week with employees and their representatives regarding the proposed closure of the dairy which employs 31 people.

Proper Welsh Milk were days from closure when Dairy Crest bought the business from the administrators in March this year, intending to maintain production and employment and develop new products at the site.

However, Dairy Crest said it had not been possible to make a success of Proper Welsh Milk and lower sales and higher costs mean it is not possible to operate the site economically.

Carmarthenshire County Council business development officer Barry Davies said: “I have offered Job Centre and Un Sir Gar to address the staff and have also offered support if any interest is shown in the site.”

Council Leader Cllr Kevin Madge said: “I’m very disappointed to hear about the situation at Proper Welsh Milk and understand that this will be a very worrying time for those who work there. The council will do all it can to help.”

Regeneration executive board member Cllr Meryl Gravell said: “We will offer support to the people affected by this through Un Sir Gar, which can offer help to find other jobs or to retrain. We will also work with other relevant agencies to do what we can to reduce the impact on employees and the local economy.”

Christmas or not this is devastating news for all those involved.  It’s fine directing them Job Centre but where are all these people realistically going to find decent jobs? I hope that some sort of miracle happens for them to stop them worrying.

I also think it is important that someone finds out what went wrong. It is so important for our Welsh food and drink industry that we do have Welsh milk.

 
 

Traders Charged Extra For Christmas Market

11 Dec

Whilst I was out and about last weekend I bumped into a food producer at a Christmas Fair was told that Aberystwyth Christmas market was going ahead but that the stand price was increased by £8.00, which I think is to pay for a banner. I also learnt that  market traders, who support the market throughout the year should book early, because this market is open to anyone that wishes to attend – so what price loyalty?

I have strong feelings on markets and festivals, partly because these are a regular complaint that I get ‘thrown’ at me. Plus we are  all still reeling about the flawed project from fork2fork that covered markets along with farm shops and box schemes. Three years and £900k later I cannot see any improvement in these three sectors, in fact quite the reverse. I was going to say what is £900k between ‘friends’ but that is not really appropriate! What is important is those in power backing Welsh food and drink.

So many markets are struggling and too many councils cannot be bothered to get behind markets and support them rather than taking down their signs. There are exceptions of course, as I blogged recently about Uplands market in Swansea, a market that appears to be going from strength to strength. In my book loyalty is key; if you have traders supporting you market after market, then you should look after them first and foremost. I would have thought that a no-brainer. I don’t really care if Aberystwyth wishes to take all and sundry in for a one off market, providing the newcomers pay the higher price, not the your regulars and they don’t get the best spots. I’m not totally sure on banner prices but £8.00 per trader seems expensive. Is it really worth it for one banner rather than running off flyers and posters?

I really don’t quite understand why the traders are charged extra for this Christmas market when I’m sure the regulars aren’t given a discount when it rains all morning on market day and their takings are well down. Please don’t say £8.00 extra is fine. It takes a busy market and some selling to get that £8.00 back with such low margins on food. Plus many traders look at Christmas trade to give them a bonus for what they know will be quieter markets in January and February. It’s sad that’s not how Aberystwyth look on this, but then they are not trying to sell food for a living are they?

 
 

2013 Food & Drink Producers Survey (WFPS13)

11 Dec

I have no idea at all what the 2013 Food & Drink Producers Survey is all about. But it’s one of wag’s bright ideas  and I can harldy expect them to tell a journalist, called ‘consultation’ has caused many queries into our office. So please allow me to clarify one point which is that this document, although initially we thought it reasonable, is really not as clear as it should be. The full document does not include the questions the government would like you to answer, even though on the website it says it does. Another point is that this document is not just for Welsh food producers, but for Welsh farmers too. So questions that you think totally pointless might well apply to farmers and vice versa.

I’ve been talking to some Assembly Members about this consultation and that is certainly proving more fruitful than talking to the press office as I’m instructed to do!!

Trawling through some of these pages I noted that a survey was mentioned – The 2013 Food & Drink Producers Survey (WFPS13) which talked to 300 businesses. Now I hadn’t heard of this survey, which comes as no surprise if it was organised by wag, but why would they tell a journalist who is interested in food anything about a food survey? That wouldn’t make sense to wag food and would come under the heading of communication wouldn’t it? So I asked the obvious question of the press office as to which 300 companies were consulted and was told: The 300 interviews were done in confidence and so we, (the press office) don’t have their names.

Well that is a big help isn’t it as wag surrounds itself by more secrecy? Open and transparent, think that relates more to a wondow than wag. My take on it then has to be that these are 300 are of wag’s favoured, funded companies, which are no doubt large companies. Sadly micro companies appear to have fallen off wag’s radar, if they were ever there in the first place. Anyway if you have kept up-to-date on welshfoodbites you’ll be aware that your details will not necessarily be kept confidential, even if you ask for it to be kept under wraps. The official line is:  This was a confidential survey. Participating in a confidential survey is different to responding to a public consultation.

Wag rules, me thinks or it’s just wag rules that we are forced to obey …………………………………

 

 
 

31 Jobs To Go At Proper Welsh Milk Dairy In Whitland

10 Dec

Thanks to one of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers who made me aware of more bad news in the Welsh food industry. Wag food in case you are interested, this is what is known as communication. The following is taken from the Carmarthenshire Journal and has been forwarded to one of our Assembly Members in case he is not aware:

Dairy Crest has announced that it is starting consultation over the proposed closure of its Proper Welsh Milk dairy in Whitland, which currently employs 31 people.

Proper Welsh Milk was days from closure when Dairy Crest bought the business from the administrators in March this year, with the aim to maintain production and employment and develop new products at the site.

However, the firm says production volumes have fallen short of expectations and significant investment is needed to bring the site up to Dairy Crest standards.

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart said he was desperately sad by the proposals.

Mark Allen, chief excutive of Dairy Crest, said: “We are disappointed it has not been possible to make a success of Proper Welsh, but lower sales and higher costs mean it is not possible to operate the site economically. We will do all we can to help employees at the dairy who may be affected by these proposals. We will also work with customers to offer them alternative packing arrangements and ensure there is no disruption to their service. We remain committed to the Welsh dairy sector and are continuing to recruit farmers and invest in milk collection facilities around Carmarthen.”

Mr Hart added: “I am desperately sad that Dairy Crest were unable to make this venture work. The employees have worked incredibly hard and deserve a better outcome than this. I will do anything I can to help them find alternative work in the area and urge them to get in touch.”

It is a major blow for Whitland. The £1.5 million dairy was only officially opened by First Minister Carwyn Jones in November 2011. At the time it was hoped the dairy would process and bottle up to 10 million litres of locally-sourced milk each year.

Speaking at the launch, the First Minister said: “It’s a great pleasure to be here today at the first creamery to open in Wales in 75 years. There’s been a tendency for milk processing to leave Wales so this dairy is very welcome. It’s great to see this facility in Whitland; I well remember the lively conversations that took place with Dairy Crest’s closure. It’s a great vote of confidence in local farming.”

He added: “This new plant is a great step forward for both Carmarthenshire and the Welsh dairy industry. The dairy will safeguard milk outlets for dairy farmers in the surrounding area. This is Welsh milk being produced and bottled here in Wales for Welsh consumers and that has to be good news for all.”

Whitland, once well known for its role in the dairy industry, lost many jobs in the mid-1990s with the closure of the Dairy Crest creamery.

 
 

Update On Welsh Food And Drink Action Plan

05 Dec

Gosh posting details of the launch of Minister Alun Davies’ food and drink action plan on welshfoodbites on has created a lot of work for us, which I guessed it might but I couldn’t ignore it. Many of you are worried. Worried for various reasons, basically not believing that the Minister and wag food will not only listen to you, but actually make the changes you want making.

Sadly that is only the start of your worries, as comments have been passed through saying that you have no interest in climate change. Just because this government has decided to take measures to try and combat climate change, you don’t understand why this is now thrust onto food producers and that it’s now a high priority in the Welsh Food and Drink Action Plan. It appears although the government and food team have discussed their food plan with 300 businesses; I’ve no idea on what type of companies these 300 were. I’ve asked the question but not sure when I’ll get an answer. Training is another issue. Obviously if you are employing, training must come into it, employers have no choice at all because people have to know what they are supposed to know what they are doing. But training programmes are not always relevant if there are only a few people working in a company. But the part that is worrying a lot of you is the following:

Data protection

How the views and information you give us will be used

Any response you send us will be seen in full by Welsh Government staff dealing with the issues which this consultation is about. It may also be seen by other Welsh Government staff to help them plan future consultations.

The Welsh Government intends to publish a summary of the responses to this document. We may also publish responses in full. Normally, the name and address (or part of the address) of the person or organisation who sent the response are published with the response. This helps to show that the consultation was carried out properly. If you do not want your name or address published, please tell us this in writing when you send your response. We will then blank them out.

© Crown Copyright 2013

Names or addresses we blank out might still get published later, though we do not think this would happen very often. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 allow the public to ask to see information held by many public bodies, including the Welsh Government. This includes information which has not been published. However, the law also allows us to withhold information in some circumstances. If anyone asks to see information we have withheld, we will have to decide whether to release it or not. If someone has asked for their name and address not to be published, that is an important fact we would take into account. However, there might sometimes be important reasons why we would have to reveal someone’s name and address, even though they have asked for them not to be published. We would get in touch with the person and ask their views before we finally decided to reveal the information.    

Your concerns are about your responses being identified. You being told by wag if you don’t want your name and address published please tell us in writing and then they’ll blank it out but your details might still get published later, although they don’t think that will happen very often. Which is a comforting thought, I don’t think!! It’s wag’s decision if they are asked under FOI or under EIR, whether or not those details will be revealed even if you’d asked for them not to be revealed. It doesn’t make you feel any better to read that wag would get in touch with you before they finally decide, but the important bit is the decision is then theirs decision, not yours!

I don’t like the wordage, excuse or explanation that names and addresses are needed for all responses as it helps to show that the consultation was carried out properly. I actually wonder if all people involved in the food and drinks industry will be aware of this consultation, let alone any members of the Welsh public. So is this the government’s polite way of saying it’s for them to tick another flipping box?

In many ways I’m pleased that some of you have picked up on this point, bearing in mind that it follows the ‘Overview’ which many of us would normally skip over!

I’m also concerned as to how wag food think they’ll be consulting with everyone in the food and drinks industry, I cannot see how that can happen. Will they email this consultation document to everyone they know is working in the food sector? I think not but loved to be proved wrong.

This is your industry and only you that can weigh up whether it is worth you putting in any time and effort to complete this consultation, whether you wish to run with or not, it’s your choice guys.

At the end of the day it is our Best of Welsh & Borders producers I’m here for and their feedback to date has been interesting.

 
 

Welshfoodbites

04 Dec

Just a brief post for those of you that are new visitors to welshfoodbites, I just want to remind you that you are more than welcome to add your comments to any posts even if you do not agree with my take on things, that’s fine. But the point is this site just gives my take on things, how I view what’s happening, but it is important that I and the industry get different peoples’ take on what is happening as Welsh food and drink is so important to our economy.

Wag food are regular visitors to this site, they have to be, because if that was not the case then our rankings would not be so good. There is no need for you to leave your name, you can call yourself whatever you like! I do get a bit fed up with producer or trader, but the most important part is that you can leave your views and no-one knows who you are unless you want them too. Obviously you have to give your email, but if you wish to keep your true email from me there are easy ways of getting other emails. I believe this site is performing an important role in giving you a voice and getting your views and opinions out there.

For some reason, the Welsh Government haven’t thought it a good idea to give me £43k, as they have to fork2fork, to keep my site updated for 12 months. That site is an on going puzzle to me. I went on their site at 11.00am and there was still no post up about  Minister Alun Davies’ food action plan speech from Monday! Maybe £43k to do basic job doesn’t mean that they have to be efficient – but then who knows? Money for old rope does spring to mind once again. As we begin December, fork2fork have managed to post 43 news items and when I say post, I mean they copy and paste them, not think and craft anything new. Surely nobody can say cutting and pasting is a difficult or time-consuming job can they? But being kind and concerned about their poor rankings I went back onto their site just after 12.00pm to find they have now managed to post their first news item for December, which is the Alun Davies action plan. So if you want to try your maths out, 43 news items as we enter December for their £43k payment……………………………..who said money for old rope?

 

welshfoodbites is not funded by the government or any company come to that. Plus this site is not sold as part of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers package – it’s completely independent.