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Archive for August, 2015

FOI 9675 Update

28 Aug

Apart from the time delay – i.e. 20 days to get a response, FOIs or Freedom Of Information questions are one way I am able, in theory anyway, to get some questions answered. Quite often these are questions asked of me by our advertisers who have no wish to ask wag food/visitwales themselves.

Instead of getting my question fully answered, I was directed to a wag website. Fair enough, I’d hate for wag to have to duplicate work just because I asked them questions. So on their site I found 4 document downloads, but then could only open one, whilst all the other came up as 404s – basically pages not found.

So back to wag person and explained the problem and asked for the three unobtainable downloads to be emailed to me. I also copied him all the pdfs details and highlighted the ones I couldn’t open and suggesting he talk to his techy people, assuming wag have a full technical team. I was then told:

Having checked the link provided in my reply, I am satisfied that it is working and connects to previous financial years when you select the relevant PDF. However, I have assumed that the 3 restaurants you haven’t found are Catch 22 – £70k funding; Enoteca – £30k; and Venu – £38,250 – for which you have my apologies – I did not realise that they had yet to be posted on our website, as they are in the current financial year (and will be published in due course).

So not sure where logic comes in here, that I can open one out of four documents, but basically I’m told that I’m wrong and the remaining 3 are not sent to me.
Back once again to be told this time:
The following link should work on the Welsh Government website either follow – Home > Topics > Tourism > Tourism investment support scheme (TISS) or –
http://gov.wales/topics/tourism/tourism-investment-support-scheme/?lang=en

But just to remind you, the link below is the site I was first directed to. If any of you can see a difference – email me!
http://gov.wales/topics/tourism/tourism-investment-support-scheme/?lang=en.

Back I go to repeat myself again and suggest once more that he emails them to me.
The response on the fourth occasion is:
I’m sorry you are not able to access the PDFs, my only suggestion is that I print them off and send a hard copy to yourself. What is the best address to send them to?

Someone please give me strength. Each email I have sent included quite clearly in the footer all my details, including my address! Obviously my address was not clear enough, so to be helpful I highlighted each email when I sent a further email suggesting he emails me these pesky documents downloads.

The final response was: Please find attached the relevant PDF’s. (Bryn Williams place is listed as Shel Restaurant). I have asked our web publishers to investigate why you haven’t been able to access the information direct from the website.

Well it has been interesting perusing the last four grant years and my unofficial summary shows that in 2011/12 £2.981m was granted to 74 outlets averaging £40k. In 2012/13 the figure was £2.235m to 48 outlets averaging £46.5k. In 2013/14 the figure was £1.496m given to 30 outlets averaging £50k but two outlets were awarded £450k and £250k. In 2014/15 the figure given out was £2.109m to 31 outlets averaging £68k.

These grants make me wonder. Why have they not been slashed as much as our Welsh food and drink budgets have? Also how great it is for these businesses to be given so much money to improve, in many cases, their properties and their businesses. Can this be considered to be propping up their businesses? Or is this a clever way to say these grant are money well spent because tourists will now flock to Wales?

 
 

Freedom Of Information Question Number 9675

27 Aug

After talking to some chefs and hoteliers I sent the following FOI through to wag on 30th July:

Tourism Investment Support Scheme.

1. How does the Tourism Support Scheme work to support restaurants?

2. How do restaurants in Wales know about this scheme?

3. What criteria do restaurants have to meet to qualify for Welsh Government investment and does this investment have to be paid back to the Welsh Government?

4. How much have Dylan’s Restaurant, Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias and Sea Shanty Restaurant been awarded via the Tourist Investment Support Scheme?

5. Is this grant limited to north Wales only?

6. Which other restaurants have received investment under the Tourist Investment Support Scheme? Dates and amounts required please.

Today 27th August I’ve now had the following reply from wag:

I wrote to you on 7 August regarding your request for information. In my letter I indicated that I would only be replying to questions 3, 4 and 6 of your original request and asked you to specify which dates you were interested in. In your reply of 7 August you asked:

1. What criteria do restaurants have to meet to qualify for Welsh Government investment and does this investment have to be paid back to the Welsh Government?

2. How much have Dylan’s Restaurant, Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias and Sea Shanty Restaurant been awarded via the Tourist Investment Support Scheme?

3. For 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15, which other restaurants have received investment under the Tourist Investment Support Scheme, including dates awarded and amounts received?

4. What is the budget for the Tourist Investment Support Scheme?

I can confirm that we hold information in relation to your request. However, I have concluded that some of the information you have requested is exempt under section 21 (information otherwise available) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA). The criteria for scheme qualification and repayment can be seen on our website – http://gov.wales/topics/tourism/tourism-investment-support-scheme/?lang=en.

Funding details for the restaurant’s named above can be seen on our website using the following link – http://gov.wales/topics/tourism/tourism-investment-support-scheme/?lang=en; Dylans Restaurant (October 2014), Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias (December 2014) and Sea Shanty Restaurant (January 2015). Funding details for other restaraunts can also be found on the same link – Arosfa (July 2012), Coast Seafood Café & Bistro, Saundersfoot (February 2014), Griffin Inn, Dale (May 2014), Y Polyn, Capel Dewi (August 2014), Catch 22 Restaurant (April 2014), Enoteca, Port Dinorwic,(April 2015), Y Felinheli (April 2015), Venu, Pwllheli (June 2015).

We do not have a budget specifically for restaurant developments. These are funded, when bids are successful, from the Tourism Investment Support Scheme. The total budget for this scheme for 2012-13 to 2014-15 has been from £2m to £2.5m per annum.

How frustrating is the FOI system? So much information is on wag’s ‘uninspiring’ website but who would really go there by choice? As I’d not been given the answers I required I went onto the link I’d been directed to, to uncover that of the four Document Downloads only ONE was available!!

Well done wag – under the how to help a journalist category  – you’ve failed again.

Welsh food and drink is supposed to matter in Wales, but after waiting virtually a month, I’ve now had to go back to wag once again to get the information I have asked for. If anyone can make life difficult it is wag…………………….

 
 

9626 – Micro & Small Food And Drink Businesses

05 Aug

Questions are often asked of me that I don’t know the answers to, hence a further FOI to wag. Follows are their answers in full:
1. What number of micro food and drink producers are there in Wales?
2. What number of small food and drink producers are there in Wales?
In response to question 1 & 2

In 2014 there were 335 food and drink local units in the micro size band in Wales and 105 small size band local units. Food and drink is defined by the following standard industrial classification codes 10.1 to 10.9 inclusive and 11.0.
The published report “The value of Welsh food and drink” details 520 units in the Welsh food and drink manufacturing and processing sector. The work delivered through this report was to identify robust sources of data which could be referred back to and updated over time with proven and consistent methodologies in terms of data collection.
‘Local units’ was decided as the measure for this report and refers in this definition to food business within the food manufacturing and processing sector. A local unit is an individual site (for example a factory or shop) associated with an enterprise. It can also be referred to as a workplace. So for this exercise it refers to an individual site or enterprise within the manufacturing or processing of food and drinks. The business has to derive its main income from this activity.

You also asked a question on how we communicate to food and drink producers in Wales.
The Welsh Government communicate bilingually in numerous ways, such as website (www.llyw.cymru / www.gov.wales) social media (facebook, twitter, linkedin, you tube, flickr) press notices.
The Welsh Government’s Food Division also communicates bilingually via website (www.llyw.cymru/bwydadiodcymru / www.gov.wales/foodanddrinkwales) social media (twitter – @bwydadiodcymru / @fooddrinkwales) press notices and through case studies.

Well, I’ll be interested in your take on these figures, thankfully our Food & Drink producer database is in a much healthier position than wags! That large difference between our two databases would be amusing if it wasn’t so serious.

As for how wag food communicate to food and drink producers, this seems to sum up what I’ve been saying for years – communication is the key. I’m not convinced wag’s uninteresting websites, which hardly encourage regular, if any visits and social media are the best ways to communicate. As most producers have websites and many have online shops, producers are rather good at answering emails, so why do wag food not send food and drink producers emails and eshots? Food and drink producers rightly complain how busy they are and they, unlike civil servants are not working 9.00 -5.00, five days a week. So despite the fact that some of them do now use social media – it is an extra job for them to do. So I still think wag food are not doing a good jobcommunicating with food and drink producers. The onus is on them to chase and search for news from wag food? I still cannot see that’s the correct way around. As for press notices, that has to be a joke that fails to raise even a smirk for me. I’ve never known a government department that’s as poor at communication as wag food. But after offering constructive criticism on their lack of communication, I might as well admit that after ten years I’ve got nowhere. Actually I think their communication is getting worse, and who would have thought that could happen? As I’ve said before you could never, ever, run a business like this.

Why do I have to waste my time using the Freedom Of Information Act to get information about food festivals? Information that used to be sent out to me automatically? I think that’s disgraceful. Just what is so secret about asking how much festivals have asked for in funding? What they been given and why many have been reduced? This is European money and details of spending should be easy to obtain and is most certainly in the public interest………….

 
 

9610 Food Festivals & Events

04 Aug

You’ve been asking me questions about food festivals and as I’ve not known the answers, because wag food haven’t told me, I’ve had to send another FOI through to get this information. Follows is wag’s answer in full:

1. I require a full list of all festivals that applied for Welsh Government funding for 2015 in the first and second tranches.
2. How much funding did each festival apply for?
3. A full list of festivals that applied for funding and were not successful. Also the amount they requested.
4. The reason why each festival either wasn’t funded or had their original funding request reduced.
5. For second tranche of funding I require answers to questions 1, 2, and 3 above.
1. Details of all Food Festivals supported within the first and second tranche of support have been published on the following page:

http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/foodanddrink/supportforfoodproducers/supportforfoodfestivals/food-culture-grant-funding-for-food-festivals-2015-16/?lang=en

2&4 The following have been offered support below that requested including reason for variance, all the others have been offered support at the level requested:
                                                Grant Request         Grant Approved       Reason for variance

Hay Summer Festival –        £2,492                           £1,701                  50% of Eligible costs
Menai Seafood Festival –    £5,000                           £4,634                         “ “
Brecon Food Festival  –       £4,850                           £4,000                        “ “
Hay Winter Festival –          £2,292                           £1,701                          “ “
Abergavenny Food Fest –  £21,850                         £14,350                       “ “
Conwy Feast  –                    £25,000                        £15,255                        “ “

3&4 The following festivals were rejected, including reason for rejection:
Broneirion Festival – £4,919 – did not meet the basic criteria
Greenman Courtyard Event, London – £10,000 – event outside of Wales.
5. Included above.

I’m at a loss with wag food as I simply do not understand why this year they’ve put festivals into two tranches. Last year the maximum grant was £10k, this year the maximum grant is £25k, but why the increase when wag food have been telling me for the last ten years festivals must aim to be self-funding. Guess why I’m puzzled is what wag food mean by ‘aim’! No doubt this all makes civil service sense to wag, but it certainly doesn’t to me. I’m also puzzled as to why festivals think that getting a grant of £1,700 is worth the hassle with the red-tape and paper-work, plus the criteria that wag create.

Wag and wag food say Welsh food and drink is important to Wales but do let me know your views if you have time………