In my last story posted yesterday 14/10, I said I hear very little indeed from wag food. Well how true that is, because yesterday I was told by a foodie that Welsh food festival organisers have been requested by wag food to submit to them their list of food producers at their festival, so wag food can presumably check that they have hit the required 75% Welsh food producer criteria.
Well guys you really couldn’t make this up could you? I have been commenting publicly on welshfoodbites for the last three years and have always been very vocal with my views on Welsh food festivals. I’ve spoken to wag food directly, both face-to-face and in writing. I’ve made clear my disgust that last year wag food paid Miller Research to do a 2012 food festival evaluation at a cost of £43k, yet it was only last month that I was able to finally obtain a copy of their ‘words of wisdom’. I’m not sure that Miller gave wag food a copy of their report last year, so I cannot see how wag food decided on this year’s criteria, unless of course they continued to use my opinions from welshfoodbites…………………………
But my worry continues to be that these food festival evaluations are an utter waste of public money and help wag food only by allowing them to tick another box on their list. This year we have two companies doing an evaluation and, as far as I understand it, it will be achieved by them looking at the organisers’ paperwork submitted to wag food, plus them ringing organisers and no doubt ringing some producers too. I doubt very much if these two companies will have attended any of this year’s food festivals, if they have I’ve certainly missed them. So they will have to form their opinion simply working on completed paperwork and talking on the phone to a few folk, but at least wag food can then tick another box!!! I know I’m cynical, but all organisers might not tell it as it is, but rather as they know wag food wishes to hear. So what’s the point of that then? Again with producers, if they wish to attend a festival next year, are they going to complain about anything at all? Of course not, they are not stupid and I don’t give a hoot that these call ‘might’ be in confidence, producers will not believe that any more than they believe wag food are on their side!
CLES were the appointed company, for the food festival evaluation. Wavehill are approved contractors carrying out some of the work in partnership with CLES. The tender value was £27,800+vat.
Now all this puts a couple of questions in my mind. Firstly that wag food asking organisers for this information now seems to give CLES one less job to do. Secondly, playing the cynical journalist, how can wag food be sure what the organisers send them is correct? Thirdly what in theory is asking for how many Welsh stands were in attendance going to mean? Bearing in mind many, many festivals have already been paid their agreed grant funding. If at this late stage in the funding plan it is shown some festivals haven’t made the required 75% can wag food ask for a refund? Then as press releases and signage were other wag food criteria, so how can these be proved? Because from my side not many funded food festivals managed to do that one either.
Of course I’m delighted that wag food and the likes of Miller Research are viewing welshfoodbites on a daily basis, despite this site not being publicly funded like fork2fork at a cost of £43k for one year; it’s flattering that they can take on board what they read. What is disappointing is that cannot then make my suggestions work for the benefit of our producers. Plus there’s no need to thank me, I’m sure my accountant has to be wrong when he reminds me I have a VAT number not a charity number, can that really be true?
This week I had an interesting call from one of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers, telling me that they had again been turned down by Abergavenny. No reason was given to them, despite them being professional Welsh primary producers – if Welsh food festivals are not for the likes of them wag food, what are you funding them for? This company were simply thrown out whilst Abergavenny took numerous stands from Cornwall and the Isle of Wight. Sadly this is not only happening at Abergavenny, as many festivals are guilty of this poor practice. But whilst this practice continues, wag food have just stood pathetically by and watched it happen, whilst our Welsh producers are not only losing vital trade and revenue, they have no form of re-address against being thrown out. So wag food, how can that be fair?
I’ve also heard once again, another rumour saying that wag food will not be funding festivals again next year. Of course I’ve asked wag food and been told no decision has been made and I’m sure I’ll hear about Scottish food festivals before I hear about our Welsh ones. But if wag food don’t fund food festivals next year this department and its Minister will have, let’s say a lot of egg on their faces. However if wag food cannot come up with festival criteria that are workable, then maybe it’s easier that we all admit defeat, wag food have won and we might just as well give up.
I’m not sure whether to sum up this post by saying to wag food, too little, too late, or reminding you all once again that sadly, commonsense is certainly not commonly available.