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Posts Tagged ‘Abergavenny Food Festival’

Welsh Food Festivals

07 Aug

Welsh food festivals, give you the best of Welsh food and drink.

This is the list of Welsh food festivals being funded by the Welsh Government for 2017/18.  I have been asked to clarify my wording ‘being funded’ as the festivals listed are not being FULLY funded by the Welsh Government. The situation is that festivals are allowed to apply for some funding – the maximum this year is £5k  – and if the festival fits the Welsh Government’s criteria and wag agree that will be awarded the amount when all their paperwork has been sent into wag and verified. I’m more than happy to clarify that and sorry again for not knowing how much each festival was awarded this year.

Apologies for delay in posting this list but I’ve only just received them! Anyway better late than never!

Food Festivals 2017:

Caernarfon Food Festival

13th May

Wrexham Food Festival

13th & 14th May

Cowbridge Food Festival

28th & 29th May

Newcastle Emlyn Food Festival

10th June

Brecon Food Festival

1st July

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival

9th July

Clwydian Range Food Trail

Aug 2017 to Mar 2018

Big Welsh Bite

5th & 6th August

Cardigan River and Food Festival

12th Aug

The Denbigh and Flint County Show

17th Aug

Newtown Food Festival

2 & 3 Sept

St Fagan’s Food Festival

9th & 10th Sept

Abergavenny Food Festival

16th & 17th

Valleys Festival

23rd Sept

Narberth Food Festival

23rd & 24th Sept

Neath Food Festival

29th Sept to 1st Oct

Denbigh Plum Festival

7th Oct

Llangollen Food Festival

14th & 15th Oct

Gwledd Conwy

27th to 29th Oct

Llandudno Christmas Fayre

16th to 19th Nov

Hay on Wye Winter Food Festival

24th & 25th Nov 24

Abergavenny Christmas Food Festival

December

Knowing that Abergavenny, Conwy and Mold didn’t get Welsh Government funding last year, regular readers might be surprised that Abergavenny has both their food festivals funded this year as does Conwy. Please don’t ask me what is happening there this year as I have not got a clue! But I am told that if a food event/festival wished to apply for funding they can do so. My advice for what it’s worth is put your case forward in a sensible and professional manner  and hopefully you’ll get some cash!

I spent so much time last year asking about funding for the big three festivals, doing a freedom of Information questions, going back for more information but then still not getting what I thought was a satisfactory answer. Then I had to go to the Information Commissioners Office but then had to wait so long whilst they questioned the Welsh Government, that in all honesty you really would lose the will to live. Or in my case as a journalist, lose the will to keep asking questions, to then be blocked………………………….

 

 
 

Freedom Of Information Number 10621

02 Jun

Freedom of Information questions are my only way of getting answers. On the 29th July 2016 I an FOI, a Freedom of Information question. I didn’t receive a full reply to all questions but was told by wag that I could apply for a ‘review’, which I did. The Welsh Government then replied to my request for a review which they turned into a ‘complaint’. Follow that if you can. The speed of which wag turns a review into a complaint is far quicker than my getting answers to my questions raised on 29/7!

Check out my post of 24th August for an update on this troublesome FOI. But here it is:

  1. Have all Welsh food festivals that applied for funding in 2016 and received £5k?
  2. If not, what did each festival receive?
  3. Did any festivals apply for funding and were refused?
  4. If so on what grounds were they refused?
  5. From which budgets or other sources of wag funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?
  6. What criteria do these festivals have to meet before they can apply for funding from other than the food festival budget?
  7. Can you clarify why wag are listed on Abergavenny’s website as a partner?
  8. 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?
  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?
  10. As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160k, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?

This has been not only been annoying and time-consuming for me, but a total waste of tax payers’ money and I lay the blame for that firmly at wag’s door. I ask them to consider what they have achieved in this 10 month stand off? Unlike me, Wag like ICO are not spending their own money and for a purported ‘fair and open’ government, why can’t they just answer questions when asked? As a journalist I shouldn’t have to use FOI, but as I’m banned from asking the press office questions, I’ve not many options left! Despite my ‘complaint’ wag still hasn’t given me answers that I find acceptable to questions 5, 6 and 10. So my last option was to go to the Information Commissioner’s Office, ICO, always I must say, a pleasure to deal with. However it was only on 22/5/17 that I got my reply – 10 months later – as ICO had to keep going back to wag. Here’s their response:

As confirmed in my email of 21 March 2017, the focus of my investigation concerned whether the Welsh Government had complied with its obligations under section 1(1) of the FOIA.

Section 1 – General right of access to information held

Section 1(1) of the FOIA is concerned with the general right of access to information and requires a public authority to confirm in writing whether it holds information of the description specified in the request. A public authority is only required to provide recorded information it holds and is not therefore required to create new information in order to respond to a request.

In cases where a dispute arises over whether any recorded information is held by a public authority, any investigation by the ICO must be mindful of the former Information Tribunal’s ruling in EA/2006/0072 (Bromley) that there can seldom be absolute certainty that information relevant to the request does not remain undiscovered somewhere within the public authority’s records.
Therefore, when considering whether a public authority does hold relevant information, the normal standard of proof to apply is the civil standard of the balance of probabilities. For clarity, the ICO is not expected to provide categorically whether or not the information is held, but to make a judgement based on the civil standard of the balance of probabilities as to the likelihood of whether the information is held.

Item 5

Item 5 of your request asked:

“From which budgets and other sources of WAG funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?

As you are aware, the Welsh Government informed you that it did not hold relevant information in respect of this item of your request stating that Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy had not requested or received funding for the period from January 2016 to the date of your request.

As part of my investigation of your complaint, I asked the Welsh Government to provide me with details and evidence of the search undertaken which led it to conclude that information is not held.

In response, the Welsh Government sent me screen prints of its ‘I Share’ database showing the search terms and results. The screen shots show that the Welsh Government’s searched individually for Cardiff, Conwy and Abergavenny and support the Welsh Government’s response that no applications for funding had been received/made to Cardiff, Abergavenny or Conwy.

I have therefore concluded that the Welsh Government complied with its obligations under section 1(1) of the FOIA in terms of item 5 of your request.

Item 10

Item 10 of your request asked:

“As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160K, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?”

The Welsh Government informed you that the budget had not yet been allocated and therefore concluded that it held no information.

However, part of my investigation pointed out that you were aware from previous responses and the Welsh Government’s website that £85,000 of the £160,000 had been allocated, that the deadline for applications for funding was 14 July 2016, and that applications for funding were being approved within two weeks of receipt.

I therefore asked the Welsh Government to confirm where the remaining £75,000 was being allocated, and it confirmed (as it has in its latest correspondence to you) that £75,000 was subsumed back into the Food, Tourism and Culture Budget.

Whilst the Welsh Government’s response in its internal review that the budget had not yet been allocated was not incorrect, in my view, if it had confirmed the situation regarding the remaining £75,000 to you at the time of your request, it would have complied with its obligations under section 1(1) of the FOIA.

However, its failure to do so represents a breach of its obligations under section 1(1) of the FOIA. Additionally, the fact that this information was not communicated to you within the required 20 working day timescale, also represents a breach of section 10(1) of the FOIA.

As this information has now been provided, I have concluded that the Welsh Government has now (belatedly) complied with its obligations under section 1(1) of the FOIA.

Apart from the time and money which has really been wasted, I am just furious hy wag cannot answer financial questions. By the time I’m asking them the money has been given out by wag and spent. I cannot change that, all I want to know is where our money went. The further irony is I’m now expected to believe that Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy were not supported in any way by wag. Well I still find that exceptionally difficult to believe, made harder by the fact that both Abergavenny and Conwy had wag’s logo on their websites. It was so generous of both these festivals to credit wag with a logo presence when they’ve not had any funding at all from wag money pot!!! But if that makes sense to wag and to you, it certainly doesn’t to me. Best I dream on with that one……………………………

 

 

 

 
 

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?

 
 

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.

 
 

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……………………………….

 
 

Food Festival Funding

20 Jul

I’ve totally lost count of the number of emails I’ve sent to the press office asking for a list of food festivals that wag have funded for 2016. It has got more and more time consuming over the years to get this information from wag food. But why you might ask, as I obviously do? Well I haven’t a clue, it’s something I struggle to understand. Wag food have an obligation to provide this information as they are spending public money, but they have no obligation at all to be helpful and professional about doing so. Obviously I can only relate my experience, but I can say that it is annoying and disappointing.

Apparently this year the most festivals can ask for – and sometimes get – a maximum of £5k from this budget. But now I understand that festivals can ‘officially’ apply for funding from other wag budgets. Something which in the past wag food has said never happened, as festivals could only go for one source of government funding. Regular readers will recall my trying to find out which festivals got funding from the Major Events Unit, more information which was touch to getand ended up with my having to do a Freedom Of Information question. Festivals can now apply for funding in full of for ‘selected’ areas such as waste management.

The first batch of festivals being funded as of 20th June wag are:

Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival, Cowbridge (29/30 May)

Newcastle Emlyn Food Festival, Newcastle Emlyn (11 June)

Hay Summer Food Festival, Hay-on-Wye (1 July)

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Aberaeron (3 July)

Cardigan River & Food Festival, Cardigan (6 August)

Narberth Food Festival, Narberth (23-25 September)

Llangollen Food Festival, Llangollen (15/16 October)

Hay Winter Food Festival, Hay-on-Wye (26 November)

Christmas Food & Drink Fair, Abergavenny (11 December)

This is the first funding tranche as the official closing date for festival funding is 14th July. Festivals should then know two weeks later, around the 28th if they have been successful or not. As to when I’ll get details of this second tranche, I wouldn’t even hazard a guess.

Each year I say things can’t get worse getting information from wag food, but I’m constantly proved wrong, so thanks wag for a lack of communication, yes even to the press. All I want to know is which festivals wag food are funding, how much they are getting, which festivals have applied and not been successful. I like to know this information and I say early because we often put information on welshcountry.co.uk and welshfoodbites.co.uk. As a company we always also send this food festival information to all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, firstly because wag food don’t do so and secondly because our producers are interested to know who gets what, which is fair enough as it’s our money. So I get this list last week of nine festivals that have been funded and four of them have already been and gone!

Food festival funding was a question I got asked about on Monday at the RWAS, but I could only relay the info. I’d got however did suggest producers could ask wag food staff. Of course I was being silly as it seems like me our producers have little idea who wag food staff are.

Wag food must have their reasons for changing the food festival funding again, but they are reasons they are not sharing, purely because they don’t have too, rather than no-one would be interested. But to only get the first list of festivals mid July is not a great deal of use. Yes of course it makes me cross when Welsh Country magazine set out its stall – sorry poor pun – to promote Welsh food and drink. I don’t know which festivals applied and got rejected. I still don’t know how much the likes of Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy festivals have been funded this year either. Perhaps wag food think I haven’t a right to know this information, but if they don’t tell me then I’ll have to send through another Freedom Of Information question. But why should this be necessary?

I was further insulted by wag food last week when they didn’t even send me the press release relating to food festival funding, although it was sent to other Welsh media! This is despite their promise that Welsh Country magazine would receive all food and drink press releases. Welsh Country magazine, the pan Wales magazine that has supported/promoted Welsh food and drink for over a decade is left off wag food’s press mailing list, who would believe that?

Do you think I should take this latest insult personally………………….?

 
 

Who Are Welsh Food Festivals For?

10 Jun

Please don’t think this is a silly question, it’s not it’s a serious one. Festivals are firstly for food and drink producers and that must be the priority because without their support we literally don’t have a food festival do we? Then Visit Wales will say our festivals are to attract our visitors. That I agree with, just wish Visit Wales would help festivals more on that front. Smaller festivals will also say it’s to bring their community together whilst still encouraging visitors too.

Hopefully we are agreed on those points, but another one is encouraging locals to buy their produce locally, using our wealth of artisan producers. Of course we have farmers’ markets that locals use, but in fairness they are very much a mixed bunch. Some are brilliant with local producers selling a wide range of locally sourced and hand-made products. Other markets, well lets just say they need improving, but to do that they also need the backing of councils as well as the support of local people. Now as I keep mentioning local, I have in my head food miles. I love using markets and festivals because I know that ‘most,’ but not all producers, are from that local area. I refuse to buy fishcakes from the south coast when I know how tough a time our local fishermen are having, likewise I will not buy garlic from the Isle of Wight when garlic is a product that can be grown here in Wales.

But my reason for this post is being told each year of food festival organisers who are refusing professional local producers stands at their events. Often its producers that have supported those festivals not just for years, but for decades, then to find their loyalty is rewarded by being thrown out. I don’t understand it. There are a number of festivals still playing this sad game, but best I not name them in case other events, like Abergavenny food festival, refuse me press tickets. I’m only raising these issues again because it is time these things changed AND, if producers tackled organisers directly, even if they’re polite, chances are they’ll never get back into that festival again.

Organisers are often vague when they reject a stand, so could it be true that they are full, but then we don’t regulars, especially locals get back in or is it simply down to a clash of personalities? Perhaps organisers forget that our professional food producers are doing this to earn a living, earning at festivals let’s them feed their kids and pay their rent or mortgage. Organisers tossing them out of an event they’ve planned and budgeted for at the start of the year, means they’ll have to try and find an alternative event for that weekend. An event could be 20, 30, 40, or 50 miles away, which just isn’t green?

My other whinge is that some organisers are giving stands to producers that I’ve dubbed, ‘Pin Money Producers’. These are people who already work a full time job, but apply and get stands at weekends to earn some extra cash, which I guess is building the Welsh black market. Ian and I often acquire flyers and business cards for traders we’ve not seen before, but usually these are the ones that never have them! If they’re not busy we’ll ask them about their business, which is usually when we label them ‘Pin Money Producers’. These are not businesses, they are not professional traders and no way should they be allowed to trade at a Welsh Government funded event. Some of these producers are actually buying from the cash and carry and re-packaging the contents of their purchases. How can tricks and deceptions like this showcase the best of Welsh food and drink which is what our visitors are expecting to see, taste and purchase?

Please don’t think I’m just attacking organisers, I’m not. I appreciate their skills in bringing a food festival together. I’ve been visiting festivals for over ten years and count many organisers that I see and speak to regularly as friends, they’re so easy to talk too and they do listen. It’s a tough job running a festival and I appreciate wag food offer very little help to these hard working people. Either they are too busy to do so, or they’ve other more important priorities. I understand that if someone new applies for a stand, it takes a lot of effort to work out if they are a genuine business or not, plus I fully accept it’s no good asking wag food if they have heard of them to help you make a decision. I wish there was an easier way to sort this professional versus ‘Pin Money Producers’ but is raising these instances with the HMRC the only way left to stop them?

I think I can sum up in saying we’ve still not got joined up writing on food festivals and my concern is will we ever achieve that?

 
 

Is There Really A £5k Grant Limit for Food Festivals?

11 May

I’m still trying to find out which food festivals are getting funding. As I asked the Welsh Government Press Office again yesterday, they told me that this year there is just one Tier of support  withing the Food Festivals Grant Scheme instead of three Tiers as was used last year.  The Press Office also said that there is a maximum grant of £5k per festival and apparently the total budget for this year is £160k. I’m told that details of the scheme for this year were sent directly to producers, including those who have previously had funding.

For regular readers I’m sure it goes without saying that yet again I’m perplexed with how wag food are allocating food festivals funding this year. If there’s £160k in this budget, when last year, according to my figures the budget was £137,571. So not only has this budget not been cut again this year, it’s actually been increased. In these tight times, how does a food budget get an increase? My other worry is being told that all festivals can apply for a maximum of £5k. That again to me makes no sense when last year that’s the amount Abergavenny Xmas Fair got, whilst the main Abergavenny festival was awarded £14,350 and Conwy food festival were awarded £15,255. Both Abergavenny and Conwy were running under Tier 3.  But with only Tier 1 running this year I can’t imagine these two festivals being very happy. Are there other sources open to these two larger festivals for funding, apart from the Major Events Unit   Budget?  So with an increased budget of £160k and a maximum of £5k, just want to know how many ifestivals are being run across Wales this year. Will some of this budget be spent elsewhere? If that’s the case where’s that likely to be?

Questions, questions, questions……if only a civil servant would give me the answers. I was at a food event last weekend and was asked numerous times what was wag food doing about food festivals. The message hasn’t got through to all our producers that I do not have a hot line to wag food, I actually wish my line to the Press Office was hotter than it is, but there we are! So my response is now a cheeky – how would I know? I’m simply a journalist and editor for Welsh Country magazine, a magazine that’s so supportive of Welsh food and drink, why would wag food think that telling me what’s happening would be a good idea? It’s obvious to me that it would be a good iddea but obviously in their world it isn’t. Much better that I keep pestering the Press Office so they can ask wag food and then come back to me, so I can go back to them. In my view it’s a waste of time but then I’m not a civil servant guaranteed getting paid each month.

This is a sorry situation we are in and yes, I still maintain communication is the key, it just looks like wag food has lost that key, if they ever had it………………………..

I shall of course post any further updates, but suggest no breath holding!

 
 

You Couldn’t Make this Up

18 Apr

Food Festival applications apparently were only sent out on 15th April.

After chatting to a few festival organisers I reluctantly posted about Food Festival funding on 5th April. After my chats I emailed the Welsh Press Office for a press release about food festival funding. I was told that press releases were not allowed to be issued during the election period. I then asked when this information would be released to be told they’d make sure Welsh Country magazine were told, which was really not helpful. I also suggested that if a press release can’t be issued, bearing in mind it should have been issued months ago, why can’t wag food tell each food festival what funding they have received and stop organsiers from stressing about funding and get on with organising their event. Still waiting for that to be answered. But I was shocked to be sent the following with plenty of attachments.

Sent: 15 April 2016 13:50

2016 – 2017 – Food Festival Application Form 

The application process is now open for this year’s 2016/17 Food Culture Grant Funding for Food Festivals.

Please Note:

Completed applications with supporting documents can be submitted at any time up to the deadline of the 14th July 2016.

Applications will be appraised on a rolling programme as they come in, we will aim to provide each application with an outcome within 14 working days of submission, dependent on the application being complete.

The maximum grant available will be £5,000 or 50% of eligible costs.

Please find attached the following documents

.           Streamlined Application Form

.           Scheme Guidance and Criteria – Annexes I & II

The following criteria will be used when assessing ALL applications:

1)         Does the project demonstrate collaboration and co-operation between Food and Drink and Tourism sector.

2)         Is the project part of a wider programme/strategy within the area/region?

3)         Does it meet one or more of the objectives to:

.           Improve Visitor Access to and awareness of Welsh Food and Drink

.           Encourage Welsh hospitality businesses to source more local food and         

.           drink.

Increase the prevalence of Welsh Food and Drink on menus and retail offering.

4)         Will the project be sustainable in future years? Is there evidence of longer term self sustainability?

5)         Does the project identify clear outputs/objectives?

Each application will be considered on its individual merit, and in light of available funding.

I never thought it possible that Welsh food festival funding could get worse, but I am horrified to say it has, who’d have believed that? I’m puzzled that the press office couldn’t explain to me what is actually going on with food festival funding. Then to learn last Friday 13th that the applications forms had only that day been sent out, well it just astounds me. Wales has food festivals running in May and June but wag food seem to think that this is ok to send aplications forms out in April. I don’t care how ‘quickly’ in wag speak these forms are turned around, it doesn’t take away the worry that has been with many organisers as they are simply left to wait. It appears wag food couldn’t care less about the additional pressure they put these people under.

As always I’ve no idea how wag food will work it this year as applications come in and how they divide the budget up. Is there another tranche of applications going to to the bigger festivals? Or is everyone liimted to £5k? I’m sure Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy food festivals will request more, but why should wag food tell anyone what is happening? For me it’s like working on the outside of the secret service.

If wag food can explain how they think this is acceptable, it might be worth listening too, should it ever happen…………………….but we all know it wont! Wag food are not able to share anything with us!

I still don’t understand why food festival funding can’t be sorted out earlier without putting additional pressure on our organsiers who are doing their best to support our Welsh food and drink industry.

 
 

 Another Wag Game Of Smoke & Mirrors

23 Nov

But the reply is my supposed answer to yet another Freedom Of Information question, ATISN 9881, the Evaluation of Food Festivals 2015 – 2016, yet it is another one that raises further questions. Follows is the Welsh Government’s response in full:
Thank you for your request which I received on 23.10.15. You asked for:
1. Which 6 Festivals are being evaluated and why were these 6 selected?
We do not hold any information regarding this point. To clarify, we are not carrying out evaluation of individual festivals. Those festivals visited are for the purpose of visitor surveys. The events selected this year were:
St Fagans – established event;
Narberth – well established event;
Newport – Recently established event;
Abergavenny – Large festival;
Conwy Feast – Large festival;
Beaumaris – New event.
The range of events was chosen for geographical spread.
2. Why has the policy changed in that not all funded festivals are evaluated
There has not been a WG policy in place to evaluate all funded festivals, and thus we do not hold any recorded information in response to your request.
To clarify, the previous EU funded food festivals grant scheme required the monitoring of all grant aided festivals. The EU funding for the scheme came to an end in 2012. In subsequent years a range of supported festivals have been visited for the purpose of conducting visitor surveys as part of the overall Evaluation of Welsh Government support for Food Festivals.

Now isn’t this interesting information from wag? Sorry, stop the sarcasm Kath. I meant confusing. St Fagans according to wag is an ‘established’ event. OK, but according to my records this festival first ran in 2010, without funding and then in 2011, again without funding. They did however obtain funding in 2013 of £7k. So let’s remember that in ‘wag’s world,’ St Fagans is an ‘established’ event. So let’s think about Newport which was selected for evaluation because in ‘wag’s world’ that’s a ‘recently established’ event, but according to Newport’s website their festival was 5 years old in 2015, so they too kicked off in 2010. According to my records Newport were funded £15k+ in 2011 and £8k+ in 2012.

It’s not for the first time that I’m puzzled about wag’s understanding of what’s ‘established’ and what’s ‘recently established’, but as I’m not a civil servant, perhaps I deserved to be puzzled. Wag say they chose the events for geographical spread, but with Beaumaris and Conwy both situated in the north, Narbeth in Pembrokeshire, Newport and St Fagans, both close to Cardiff, Abergavenny in Monmouthshire – is this really a geographical spread? Or has mid Wales just disappeared?

Just for further interest following more digging, in 2013 I understand Wavehill visited St Fagans, Abergavenny, Narbeth,  – can anyone see a pattern here? Then also Mold, Conwy and Hay

My next question, IF wag are correct, why did I see Wavehill at Cardigan food festival in August? Could I have been dreaming? Surely not!
For me it is so frustrating that Wag food constantly try to duck reasonable questions. My sole reason for continuing to ask them, when other more sensible people would have given up long ago, is that to Welsh Country magazine, Welsh food and drink is important. If wag food agrees that Welsh food and drink is important, then just answer the questions I ask, unless you have something you think is worth hiding, which is certainly how this appears.

Wag this is our money you are spending, so justify this spend please………………………………….

P.S.

Just heard from a producer who had a telephone call from Wavehill on Monday asking for views on food festivals this year. Proof if proof were needed for Wavehill, this food company did not trade this year and did not attend any Welsh food festivals. Now the question is, why is wag wasting OUR money paying Wavehill who are obviously not using tradestand lists supplied by festival organises this year? Second question has to be why on earth are Wavehill NOT using this year’s lists?

Now who said give up?