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Archive for August, 2016

Update Food Festival Funding – FOI 10621

24 Aug

I posted about this Freedom Of Information Number 10621 on 19th August and was, let me say perturbed that wag food were unable to answer all my questions about food festival funding for this year.

To save you scrolling back, the questions that wag food couldn’t/wouldn’t answer are as follows:

  1. From which budgets or other sources of wag funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?
  2. What criteria do these festivals have to meet before they can apply for funding from other than the food festival budget?

 5 & 6. We do not hold any information regarding this point.

  1. As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160k, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?

We do not hold any information regarding this point.

In their reply wag food told me that if I wasn’t satisfied with the response offered, I could go back to them and they would then do an official review. Well dear reader I have done just that and yesterday received acknowledgement from wag food under the subject banner of a complaint! Well as far as I’m concerned wag food can call it what they wish, but to make life easier they could simply answer my questions at the first time of my asking. I’ve no wish to have to go back to wag food for a review or as in their view my complaint, all I require is my questions answered under an FOI. But now, and hardly for the first time, I’ve to chase wag again for answers to an FOI. Wag are well aware that if I’m not satisfied with their review/complaint then I am allowed to go to the Information Commissioner’s Office and they will investigate on my behalf.

Welsh Country magazine has backed and supported Welsh food and drink for over a decade. We promise our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers that we’ll pass on any relevant press releases, not that we get many through and also any foodie news to them. If they have any issues we’ll do our best to help, bearing in mind we’ve often to go to wag food to get any help………….

But that’s the system in place that I’m obliged to follow. Yet wouldn’t it be easier, quicker and cheaper for both parties if wag food would simply answer questions asked of them? How can wag and wag food  constantly forget that this is tax payers’ money they are spending?

 
 

Not Directly A Food Issue But………..

22 Aug

I’m aware of food and drink business, as we have at Welsh Country magazine, used Jobs Growth Wales.

So I’m grateful, but very annoyed to be informed today that the Labour Government has secretly cut its own job creation scheme. Jobs Growth Wales used to offer a 100% subsidy for firms to employ people aged between 16 – 24, but ministers have quietly slashed that subsidy to 50%, but without informing Assembly Members or the public.

Obviously I’m not the only one puzzled that we somehow, despite our elected Welsh Assembly Members, it feels more like we are living in a dictatorship. Shadow Secretary for the Economy, Russell George, said:

“Frankly, it’s appalling that a decision of this size can be implemented without having the courtesy to inform the public, or elected members. This is a profound change to a flagship scheme, which will undoubtedly affect take-up, and which has only come to light because a business has tipped off the media. Clearly we need to see stronger checks and balances placed on the Welsh Government. It’s not uncommon for Welsh Labour to sneak big announcements out via written statements, but this takes intransigence to new levels. It also highlights the hypocrisy at the core of their spin machine.

One minute the economy is in grave danger because of Brexit, now we’re told a 50% cut to their flagship job creation scheme is necessary because firms are doing too well. It makes no sense and I will be writing to the minister to seek clarity over the future of the scheme, and the budgetary implications of this dramatic cut to support.”

I’m puzzled by the government’s comments as our experience in the Welsh food and drink industry is that companies are not all doing well – let alone too well. To read this makes me cross when a £10k pay INCREASE for Assembly Members also basically went under the radar in fact I’m not sure that many  of the public are aware that Members got such an increase on top of their already ‘reasonable’ salary.

The problems with many governments is their ability to send out mix messages, should they send out any messages at all. Our economy is supposedly in grave danger from Brexit so our government’s idea is not to discuss it in the Senedd, but to go ahead and cut their own job creation scheme by 50%. You really couldn’t make this up!

 
 

Freedom Of Information Request 10621

19 Aug

I’m going around in ever decreasing circles trying to obtain what I think is basic information about food festival funding. I cannot understand why getting questions answered from wag food is so difficult nowadays. I thought this FOI would end the festival funding fiasco, but as all my questions have not been answered, it obviously isn’t. I now have to go back to wag and ask for a review and only then if my questions aren’t answered can I then go to the Information  Commissioner’s Office. Well it wont be the first time I’ve had to trudge that pathway to the ICO, but wag food seem happy to waste more time or as I see it, playing games. I’m not sure who these games benefit, but it certainly isn’t me! I’m totally puzzled as to why can’t tell me they don’t know where Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy are getting their government funding from?

Follows are my questions and wag’s answers, well some answers. Their response is shown in full.

 Thank you for your request which I received on 29th July 2016.  You asked for:

  1. Details of all food festivals that applied for funding in 2016 and received £5k.
  1. If not, what did each festival receive?

 

1 & 2 Details of Welsh Government funded Food Festivals are published at: https@//businesswales.gov.wales/foodanddrink/food-tourism. 

  1. Did any festivals apply for funding and were refused?
  2. If so on what grounds were they refused?

        

  3 & 4 No.

  1. From which budgets or other sources of wag funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?
  2. What criteria do these festivals have to meet before they can apply for funding  from other than the food festival budget?

 

5 & 6 We do not hold any information regarding this point.

  1. Can you clarify why wag are listed on Abergavenny’s website as a partner?
  2. Can you clarify why Conwy’s website states supported by wag with 4 wag logos? Are four logos mandatory? Or does it relate to the various wag sources they have taken funding from?

 

7 & 8 Historically these events have received support via Welsh Government and/or EU funding programmes.

      9. Although the deadline for completed applications is the 14th July 2016 and requests were being    approved within 2 weeks, there are still only nine festivals listed on Wag’s website can you inform me of    the others that have been approved?

 

As question 1 above. 

 10. As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160k, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?

 

We do not hold any information regarding this point.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the Welsh Government’s handling of your request, you can ask for an internal review within 40 working days of the date of this response.  Requests for an internal review should be addressed to the Welsh Government’s Freedom of Information Officer at:

Information Rights Unit, Welsh Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ

or Email: FreedomOfInformationOfficer@wales.gsi.gov.uk

Please remember to quote the ATISN 9881 reference number.   (THIS IS AN INCORRECT NO. KR) Number

You also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner.  The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:  Information Commissioner’s Office,

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

However, please note that the Commissioner will not normally investigate a complaint until it has been through our own internal review.

 
 

Food Festival Funding – Was My Time Worth It?

18 Aug

I daren’t work out how much time and effort it has taken to get the second list of festival funding from the Welsh Government. Trying to get this information has been, to put it politely, frustrating. Add to this I’ve no idea why wag food think publishing the second list of food festivals mid August achieves much for anyone.

I was told by the press office that I would be sent a link to this second tranche of food festival funding but that would be next week, however a helpful person in wag food and yes I did say helpful, told me yesterday that the list would be available on Thursday and it was!!! Think this comes close to wag food and I having joined up writing, but even though I suspect only a temporary basis, it was a great help. This list will of course be sent around all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers as they have been the ones asking me questions.

This will surprise regular readers, but for once I was going to publish the list of food festivals in Welsh Country, but as our S/October issue went to press yesterday, that opportunity has been lost. But I am thinking now it’s perhaps better to let wag food get on with what they think works best for them. If I was a festival organiser, I’d not be happy, assuming the second list people have only just been informed, but as wag food have now put in a £5k limit then maybe they’d question why bother for the amount of paperwork they have to complete. But perhaps that’s just wag food being clever. If wag food continue to be slow to award any funding, perhaps festivals will either decide to stop their event or decide, somehow to do without any funding. As wag food want festivals to be self-supporting maybe this is their plan to achieve it. But will that help Welsh food and drink producers?

I’m aware that Abergavenny have not been pleased that their offering from wag food used to be £52k and now the maximum is £5k. So as this list doesn’t show funding to festivals such as Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff, where are they getting their funding from? These festivals have obviously decided against going to wag food for funding so have they gone to Visit Wales and the Major Events Unit for their cash offering? I’ve asked a Freedom Of Information request to get that information and when I have the answer to that one, I’ll let you know. My other query is as I was told this year’s food festival budget  was £160k but adding totalling this list it accounts for £85, 068. So what happens to the remainder? Meanwhile here is the full list of wag funded festivals:

Welsh Government Supported Food Festivals 2016
Food Festival Festival Date Grant
Cowbridge Food Festival 29th  / 30th  May £5,000
Newcastle Emlyn Food Festival 11th June £2,581
Hay Summer Food Festival 1st July £2,351
Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival 3rd  July £5,000
Cardigan River and Food Festival 6th August £5,000
Big Welsh Bite 6th / 7th August £3,075
Menai Seafood Festival 20th August £5,000
Newtown Food & Community Festival 3rd  / 4th  September £5,000
St Fagans Food Festival 10th /11th  September £4,960
Gwyl Fwyd Beaumaris 10th /11th  September £5,000
Narbeth Food Festival 23rd / 25th  September £5,000
Margam Country Park Food Festival 24th / 25th  September £5,000
Newport Food & Drink Festival 1st October £5,000
Brecon Beacons Food Festival 1st October £4,750
Llangollen Food Festival 15th / 16th October £5,000
Llandudno Christmas Fayre 17th / 20th November £5,000
Hay Winter Food Festival 26th November £2,351
Portmeirion Christmas Food and Drink 2nd / 4th December £5,000
Abergavenny Christmas Food & Drink 11th December £5,000
 
 

Still Waiting For The 2nd Lot Of Festival Funding

04 Aug

I’m finding life hard work trying to get information from the Welsh Food department. Please don’t ask me why, all I’m trying to do is my job, ask questions, get answers and not to be pushed around in circles which ultimately creates more work for everyone. It seems to me that wasting time is easier when you get paid at the end of each month, regardless of whether you’ve done a good job or a bad job.

At the moment I’m chasing to find out which festivals have been funding by wag food in the second batch. The closing date for this second tranche was 14th July and I was told these applications would be dealt within two weeks. Well dear Reader, that is a wag ‘two weeks’ because as on 3rd August there is nothing about the second lot on wag’s website. As far as I’m aware, wag food haven’t sent out a press releasebut I’m not sure. I was promised by wag that I was on their press mailing list, but for some reason, known only to them of course, I didn’t get the first food festival press release. So just in case that had happened again…….. I went on the wag’s website again, but there’s still nothing posted.

I’ve also asked the press office how Abergavenny food festival, Conwy food festival and Cardiff food festival are being funded this year. But I have been told again that ‘I’d agreed’ that I’d not ask them questions for welshfoodbites. Well that’s not  true.  I was told by the Welsh Government press office that they wouldn’t answer any questions for  a blog and that’s what welshfoodbites is. But that’s not my ‘agreeing’ to it when there wasn’t a choice offered to me. My other point is that any Welsh food & drink information that I think is relevant, I post on welshfoodbites, but also email it around our Best Of Welsh & Borders, (BOW) producers. I’m communicating with our producers, which can only be a good thing surely? However it seems that wag think our BOW producers are not important either.

I was told the Welsh Government is being transparent in it’s dealings, well what does that mean? Is it more wag words and no actions? Or is it just lip service to us, wag telling us what they think we want to hear? It just feels like it’s a further dig at Welsh Country and I can’t see why when we are trying to promote Welsh food and drink as we are promoting our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, as we promote any Welsh markets and Welsh food festivals that want to work with Welsh Country magazine. What is the problem with that? I simply don’t understand it.

But if I can’t talk to the press office I can use Freedom Of Information (FOI), so I can get questions answered, well that’s the theory anyway but I’ve met problems there too over the years. Then I can put those answers on welshfoodbites. So why can’t wag save time and money and simply answer my questions? That makse sense to me but sadly doesn’t  to wag.

Well as I can’t get that information on the three big ones from the press office of wag’s website, then my only other option is to send through a Freedom Of Information question which was done on 29th July. Today I still wait for an acknowledgment……………………………….