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Archive for February, 2014

Latest Web Stats – Or Lack Of Value For Money Through SCES?

28 Feb

Regular readers will be very well aware, possibly bored, with how unfair I think it is that the fork2fork campaign, after pocketing £800k for a 2-year programme covering Welsh farm shops, Welsh box schemes and Welsh farmers’ markets, could apply and be awarded a 12 month extension and a further £100k, £43k of which was to be devoted basically to keep their website updated.

I’ve checked their website today looking for news items and see they’ve posted 2 items for February and 5 for January. When I look at postings for 2013 March – December there are 38 posts in total. So there’s a total to date of 45 posts over a 12month period, bearing in mind I think they officially run until March 2014 with this second wad of cash. It’s not hard to work out 45 posts for £43k on a basic level is it? Now whoever said money for old rope is not far from the truth, because all these posts are emailed into them making the task of cutting and posting in full not a difficult task, simple for most 10 year olds!!! But in government terms, this £43k to ‘UPDATE’ a website is fine. Well not for me. I take this as yet another total disregard for the value of the Welsh public’s money when wiser spending of this European money should have been a huge help to our Welsh food and drink industry.

So now let me share the folly of this £43k yearly website update spend with yesterday’s,  27/2, rankings:

welshfoodbites  fork2fork
UK Rankings         6,502    984,149
Worldwide     265,221 8,062,362
Monthly pages view     229,975     11,227
Monthly visits:      29,537         432

 

 

 

 
 

Food Festival Application Forms 2014 -2015 Forms for 2014

25 Feb

Huge thanks to the kind person who called in yesterday, Monday 24th asking if I knew the food festival funding forms had been sent out that day. There were huge giggles from both of us realising that was such a silly question, wag food send me some information that they’d know would be of interest to me and followers on welshfoodbites, oh please………………….

Co-operating, working together, helping each other, making life easier, stopping wasting my time, but reality check, this is wag food we are talking about. I’m aware wag food are not fans of this site and I can understand that as I’m often taking them to task. But they know the support we have and give to our Best Of Welsh & Border producers, most of the complaints and grumbles come directly from them. But wouldn’t a better attitude be for them to address the many issues that are raised year after year?

Anyway back to this post, my caller then sent me the forms through so many thanks. This was followed within an hour by another supporter asking if I had got the funding forms through. So thanks guys, pleased as always that you are talking to me. I don’t mind at all if I get twenty emailed copies of the same thing, better that than be left in the dark by wag food and the press office. Communication is after all the key, well in my world it is. I’ve not copied all the forms out as kill a tree comes to mind, just look again at last year’s and you’ll be virtually up-to-date. I’m not pleased that there are so few changes from last year, because in my view last year’s criteria didn’t work. Maybe in that case it would have been better not doing a food festival evaluation last year, save some much needed money, but wag can’t do that because those blessed boxes have to be ticked, regardless of cost.

When we are still in a situation like this being dished up with more of the same, I have to ask myself  do I really know anything about Welsh food and what is happening out in Wales? Ten out of ten for wag’s cheek to state that they are supposedly taking note of the Food Festivals Seminar, the very seminar that wag couldn’t even be bothered to organise for the last two years, even though the Minister, Alun Davies has said that the Welsh Government are responsible for food festivals. I admire the organisers of the seminar for running it, but you’ve made a rod for festival organisers’ backs because wag food will never organise another one – despite their responsibilities. I’ve little idea of what went on at that seminar, but hope wag find it useful. Follows are some sectors for your interest: The decision has been made to operate an interim Food Festivals application process for 2014 – 15.  This will allow us to review plans for the future funding of Food Festivals and wider programme of food events beyond 2014 – 15 in line with the outcome of the consultation on the Food and Drink Action Plan, the 2013-14 Food Festival Evaluation and feedback from the recent Food Festivals Seminar.  Food Culture Grant Funding – Food Festivals – Business Plan Guidance The following points should be borne in mind when preparing your business plan, and will be used in the scoring of all applications. Promotion of Welsh Food Culture

  • Clear focus on Welsh food and drink  / supported by strong programme of associated events
    • Supporting a good range / quality of producers
    • Well established / growth potential
    • Supplemented by chefs demos / opportunities to showcase produce
    • Awareness raising of the event by promotional material/ Press/signage
    • Press, PR and marketing – budget identified/appropriate to the scale of event
    • Greater awareness of local food – championing local producers
    • Innovation

Benefit to Local Community

  • Educational or social function – building on benefits of fresh, local, quality produce.
    • Stimulating both the demand for local produce and the supply in the area
    • Community engagement/participation
    • Involvement of local businesses particularly hospitality sector
    • Cultural entertainment
    • Sense of Place

 

  • Local Economic Benefit
    • Community links and partner organisational engagement
    • Evidence of spend towards local economy e.g. wages / goods / services (accrue to the host community)
    • Economic impact on Producers
    • Creation of jobs
    • Sustainability
    • Building on the tourism offer / true food destination
    • Stimulates new enterprise and business growth
    • Other public and private sector investment leveraged

 

  • Meeting objectives / aims of the Welsh Government
    • Grow the sales of Welsh food and drink in the Tourism sector
    • Increase consumer confidence in, and awareness of the quality of food purchased in Wales
    • Increase sales of Welsh food and drink

The applications will be scored on the following elements in as explained in the criteria:

Evaluation Criteria Weighting
Number / % of Welsh food producers 20%
Supporting Welsh Government’s food   and drink objectives 20%
Business Plan 50%
Value For Money 10%

Food festivals are there to promote Welsh food and drink and Welsh food producers. Last year Welsh festival organisers are told to get 75% Welsh stands, yet that’s only worth 20% weighting – why is that? Why isn’t that worth more? Wag’s threat is that if organisers don’t have 75% Welsh stands then funding will not be paid, but how will this work in practice? How many festivals didn’t get their full funding last year, that didn’t comply with 75% Welsh stands because I passed full details to wag food of one that didn’t, that only made 50%. Ian and I didn’t get thanked for doing this work for wag food, needless to say we didn’t get paid either, but our time-consuming email didn’t get an acknowledgement either! But following our efforts, all festivals were them told by wag food to send in a full list of their exhibitors and where they came from!!!  So I still feel this appears to be an idle threat which I’m unsure wag can see through – as last year……………………………….. Press, PR and marketing – budget identified/appropriate to the scale of event. Obviously I have to declare self-interest on the advertising front, but this is another criteria that didn’t work last year and will surely not work this year either. Ian is regularly told by organisers that ‘there is no budget to advertise their festival’. Even though we are the foodie magazine across Wales, I don’t even get press releases from all funded festivals, a fact I hope is noted in the festival food evaluation, but if we cannot get advertising, then we have to accept that decision, that’s fair enough. I just require organisers to state clearly on paper to wag how they are going to market their festival. I’d also wish that producers  ask what marketing plan is in place BEFORE they book their stand. I’ll not listening to any moaning if you haven’t done that because the fault is then as much yours as the organisers!! Ian has now picked up that wag food is again this year asking for CVs for those directly included in management of activity. Isn’t this bureaucracy at it best? I cannot see the point in this but do wonder if wag insists that all funded money requests CVs…………………you sure couldn’t make this up could you? Another issue Ian raised was that 80% of stands must be food and drink. Well that certainly caused confusion last year with some festivals ditching craft stands altogether. Now my take on it is that crafts, if they are good quality, they can add to a festival and keep visitors there longer, which should mean they’ll spend more money!! But I do worry that this money is from the food budget and I would like craft stands to pay a fair amount for their stands.

 
 

Uplands Market – No Flash In The Pan

24 Feb

It was early December when Ian and I paid our first visit to Swansea’s Uplands market. We’d been encouraged to attend and have a look around by a few of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, so with that recommendation, we did and were impressed. Regular readers will know that impressing Kath is not an easy task and rarely achieved, but it makes a pleasant change to be able to write a positive post. So on a fairly sunny Saturday, a welcome change to the floods that have caused much devastation to Wales, we decided we’d pay Uplands a further visit and issue a progress report.

Parking is still an issue and in fairness always will be, but there are spaces available down the many side streets, just don’t forget in your enthusiasm in finding a space to remember ‘where’ you did leave you car!

With the street holding the market being blocked off and traffic not allowed, it gives a safe space for traders and punters alike and the buzzy, friendly atmosphere which so impressed me last time was still there. Lots of people buzzing about and not just there for a wander around, there plenty of people buying and I was not surprised. The quality of the food stands was very good indeed. But then with quite a few of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, (BOW), there trading how could it not be? I so enjoyed catching up with our BOW guys who included:  Cwrtau Bach, Taste of the Valleys, Carn Edward, Cothi Valley, Pen Cae Mawr, Glam Lamb and Caws Cenarth,

There were even three good quality fruit and vegetable stalls there which many farmers’ markets struggle to get. PLus some quality craft stalls there giving a wonderful mix, and although I felt there were too many jewellery stands, I assume it must be worth their while to attend, otherwise they’d go elsewhere.

Live music was still there and that was good to see and helped create and good vibe. There was a large laminated poster giving stands numbers and layout and some flyers giving dates of forth coming markets. All in all a very well run and very organised market. If this could be replicated across Wales – that sector would at long last be more worthwhile for our food producers that rely on markets and festivals for much of there income. Add to this all the local shops around the market were busy. There were at least 5 coffee shops and all were busy. The boost to the local economy is obvious and difficulty in parking is proof I guess that the market is drawing visitors from further afield.

Talking to an Uplands councillor on my last visit, he was quite clear what hard work it had taken to get through the red-tape with Swansea council and finding ways to work together. But that hard work was worthwhile and the proof is a successful market which traders want to attend as do the local people. The result is a market that works because the councillors, and then the council have worked together and helped each other – in my book that’s called co-operation. Far be it for me to say this should have happened without all the hard work and obstacles put in the way, but Wales is not easy country to work in, there’s such a mass of red tape, coupled with ‘can’t-do’ rather than a ‘can-do’ attitude. However I’ve no wish to detract from a rare positive post, with stating the obvious!

But Uplands market, Uplands councillors and Swansea council have achieved a great deal and the food producers can continue to work and earn some money. There’s little more to say than well done for showcasing Welsh food and drink at its best.……………………..

 
 

Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival ‘Springs’ Forward With New Date For 2015

20 Feb

Many of you will be disappointed, Ian and I included, to find out that  the Cowbridge Food & Drink festival will not be running this year. Follows is the full press release:

Having celebrated its tenth anniversary last October, the award-winning Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival has grown to become one of the most popular events of its kind in Wales.

Thousands flock to the market town each year to sample the high quality artisan produce available, with only one factor ever putting a dampener on proceedings – and even larger attendance figures – the often inclement October weather.

For this reason – and in order to ensure the future growth of this annual showcase – the organising committee has taken the decision that future festivals will take place in May rather than October as previously.

The next festival is planned for May 2015 and will be hosted annually in the month of May from then on, taking advantage of a spring climate with the aim of attracting even more sponsors and visitors to the event.

Run by a volunteer committee, the Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival costs over £60,000 each year to set up and run, with 2013 incurring a substantial loss – attributed in a large way to the poor weather conditions. Festival expenses typically involve radio, newspaper advertising and PR; marquees, logistics and site management as well as the provision of the free park and ride, additional public toilet facilities, insurance and Festival entertainment all of which have to be paid for out of the proceeds received over the weekend of the Festival.

Speaking about the committee’s decision, John Davies, Festival Chairman said:

“We’ve enjoyed a hugely successful ten years of the Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival but we have come to realise that certain conditions are preventing us growing even further and attracting a wider audience to enjoy this fantastic weekend of food and family fun.

“In moving the date to May, we hope to attract new sponsorship and interest in the festival in 2015 and even more support from the local community and town’s traders who we rely on to work so closely with us.

“We see this change as a very positive thing and a real opportunity to revitalise the festival, drawing even more visitors to Cowbridge and generating higher income and economic growth for the region in the process.”

As many readers of welshfoodbites will know, I’m a huge fan of this festival; the only thing I could blame them for was not always ordering sufficient warm and sunny weather for the end of October! With the weather in mind, I’m sure the change of date is the right move for them; Welsh food and drink is vital to Wales but I just hope that the food festival calendar doesn’t get too busy in May. However it’s not just food producers that will be counting the cost the cost of the loss of this festival this year, there’s no doubt that beautiful market town of Cowbridge will also miss the influx of visitors that this super festival always brings in.

 
 

Government Update

18 Feb

Latest news from the Welsh Government Press Office:

Views sought on plans to deliver growth in the Welsh food and drinks industry at Carmarthenshire event

Last week’s event was cancelled due to the bad weather. As it was a last minute cancellation (and too late for most weekly regional papers) a tweet was sent from the Minister’s Twitter account to let people know.

Surprisingly this news from the Press Office doesn’t agree with the information Ian got this morning when he took the time and trouble to ring wag food in Aberystwyth. One of them, I guess, is telling there  truth, but as to which one, I think who cares? now applies.  So much for trying to help wag food promote Welsh food and drink.

I’ve also asked again as to when the CLES/Wavehill food festival evaluation will be available. I’ve been told it is ‘still underway’

 

 

So when and if I get the evaluation, rest assured, I let you know.

 
 

Update – Final Consultation Meeting 14th February

18 Feb

Many thanks to one of our very helpful Best Of Welsh & Border producers who visited welshfoodbites.co.uk last night, then sent me an email, saying that last Friday’s meeting in Carmarthen, about the Action Plan For Food & Drinks Industry, did not take place due to the weather. That meeting now takes place this Friday.

Whenever possible, we do try and verify any updates coming through to us. In this case, although we knew the source would be spot-on, we felt a point needed to be made. So Ian rang wag food department, I shall refrain from naming the person he spoke to, but he was told his information was correct and the Press Office had issued a press release last week. This was sent to local weekly newspapers, one mentioned was the Carmarthen Journal, there was no apology or explanation as to why we’d been ignored, par for the course methinks. But this is the new regime in action – or maybe not! However I must give my congratulations to the Press Office for issuing a rare food related press release!

My next job is to update welshfoodbites.co.uk and then to email the Welsh Press Office and ask why this press release wasn’t sent to me, despite the fact I’ve now asked them twice for numbers attending each of wag food’s four meetings, I thought that would have registered my interest, not just in these four meetings but in Welsh food and drink, but seemingly not.

Isn’t it a good job Ian and I have very little else to do than keep chasing the food department and the Press Office, just because neither team can be bothered to communicate to Welsh Country or welshfoodbites. They’ve no need to worry that we go to the printers tomorrow with the M/April issue of Welsh Country magazine…………………………………..

My next question for the Press Office now, is how many local weeklies actually received and published this food related press release? The Carmarthen meeting was the most western of the four consultations and so covered all the way to Fishguard and Milford Haven, plus we were aware of people travelling from the Brecon area to the Carmarthen meeting. I do hope that WAG covered all the newspapers covering all these areas, or perhaps, as many believe, wag food are only offering lip service to this consultation. I wonder if the Press Office managed to issue this press release to fork2fork who wag are paying £43k to keep their website updated for 12 months! More food for thought and more money wasted is my view to date.

 
 

Consultation Re Action Plan For Food & Drinks Industry 2014-2020

17 Feb

My original post on this topic was on 5th December 2013

Bearing in mind that I appear to be wag food’s unpaid, unappreciated PR & Marketing person, I just wanted to issue a reminder  that responses are required by 3rd March 20014 to this latest consultation.

In addition to four meetings, the last one taking place last Friday in Carmarthen, you can respond by email to foodpolicy@wales.gsi.gov.uk or you can respond to wag food’s own set of questions by visiting: wales.gov.uk/topics/environmentcountryside/foodandfisheries/action-plan-for-the-food-and-drinks-industry-2014-2020.

Many of you have taken me to task for posting wag food message on 5th December. You have told me that you ‘obeyed’ and wasted your time some 4-5 years ago, when, despite our disagreement, after that consultation, wag food insisted on issuing a 10 year plan, when we asked for a five year plan. You rightly felt, as Ian and I did, that wag food were once more paying lip service to producers to simply tick one of their blessed boxes. Some of you have told me in fairly blunt terms that it is pointless you wasting more of your time, in theory anyway, ‘talking’ to a department that seems incapable of listening. I really do understand where you are coming from. The point is wag food don’t comprehend that. From feedback I’ve had, the four meetings haven’t been that well attended, although I was told they were public meetings, but how the public knew about them is another puzzle. It appears many attendees were the usual shiny shoe and suit brigade that are well paid to attend meeting after meeting. It would appear those of us that have to earn our living by producing goods and selling them, seemingly had more productive ways of spending half a day. I’ve now asked twice for the numbers of people attending each meeting but still waiting to see if that happens, bearing in mind I can’t be given a list of attendees as this would be against Data Protection.

Again I understand and sympathise with you, BUT this is your industry. If you are seriously happy with the way wag food are running food in Wales then I’m sure you will not be bothered about any possible changes. However this is not what many of you are telling Ian, I and our team. Welsh food and drink is the responsibility of wag food, that’s how it is. But wag food keep saying to me that they now have a new regime and things are changing, but whether they take on board my response that I for one can’t see any changes at ground level, well I doubt it! Yet wherever you stand on wag food and Alun Davies, the Minister’s latest consultation, please do me just one favour send an email to foodpolicy@wales.gsi.gov.uk even if you only wish to register your lack of faith in this latest consultation or queries in that department. Give those civil servants something to think about. Of course I’m not stupid enough to say your views will hit home, if only I could promise that, but you could always copy your AM’s onto that same email.

In my last chat with some members of wag food I tried to explain that in your/my view, you’ve lost trust and faith in their department. Again I’m not sure that this comment registered either but unless we keep talking to or at them, how can they hope to understand what is going out here, when so often they are encased in their glass tower?

Please, please, please emails wag food and give them one more chance to listen and understand the industry they are paid to look after, support and promote.  

However, please also be aware of:

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.    

 
 

Owner Of Riverside Shopping Goes Into Administration

17 Feb

The Riverside Shopping complex, which is owned by Riverside Quay LLP is situated next to the Haverfordwest Bus Station and includes: Argos, Carphone Warehouse, Costa Coffee, Claire’s Accessories, Evans, Holland & Barrett, Thomson, Peacocks and Timpson and WH Smith went into administration on 6th February.

KPMG have been appointed and will asses its long-term options whilst business continues as normal with the day-to-day management of the shopping centre being handled by commercial property company Colliers International alongside the centre manager.

Riverside is where the Haverfordwest Farmers’ Market runs……………………

 
 

No Update On Food Festivals

03 Feb

Short of something to do – I think not – I asked the Press Office once on 13th January when CLES/Wavehill festival evaluation will be available to me and then when I can expect an official statement as to when the Minister will announce about food festival funding for 2014? I didn’t get a reply, so asked AGAIN on 28th January and today got the following official response:

A Welsh Government spokesperson said:

“There is no consultation on food festivals planned. Our consultation on the draft Action Plan for Food and Drink is ongoing and an independent evaluation of the support we give to food festivals is also underway. We will make an announcement on funding for food festivals once we have considered both these pieces of work.”

Well, as always, this response is pointless and unhelpful. I’m not given a clue as to ‘when’ they will have considered both these pieces of work, and made any decisions. Welsh food and drink are supposed to be important to Wales but that is not the impression this statement gives me. But it was ever thus with our food department.  In theory they know what they are doing, though many of you, like me, will dispute that, so our only option is for us to just wait and wait and wait………………….

The only positive food news so far today is that I’ve been told by a helpful festival organiser that applications for food festivals have now been sent out by wag. Well I guess that’s something, and it’s certainly better late than never, even though these hard-working organisers still haven’t a clue as to whether they’ll get funding or not this year. But that’s not a worry for wag food.