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Posts Tagged ‘WAG Food’

Welsh Food & Drink – Rural Business Investment Scheme

22 Sep

Welsh food and drink has been waiting for official news of this food grant scheme for some time and now we have details we’ve sent this to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and of course posted here. The reason being we think it is crucial as it is a capital investment scheme for food and drink processing or manufacturing activities currently not eligible under the previous Food Business Investment Scheme. There’s money there and if you don’t bother applying well best thing for me to say is that’s your choice.

The grant scheme is now open for applications and all the details, application forms and guidance notes can be found at:

http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/farmingandcountryside/cap/ruraldevelopment/wales-rural-development-programme-2014-2020/rural-business-investment-scheme-food/?lang=en

Please check this out but I have copied just some of it below hopefully to motivate you to go for it!

The Rural Business Investment Scheme – FOOD (RBISF) is a capital investments scheme to support projects that offer clear and quantifiable benefits to the food and drink industry in Wales.  The scheme is open to existing and start up micro & small food and drink processor’s and manufacturers throughout Wales.  

This is a capital investment scheme for food and drink processing or manufacturing activities currently not eligible under the Food Business Investment Scheme.  

The maximum grant for an individual investment project is 40% of the total eligible cost with a maximum of £50,000 for any individual investment project. 

All projects supported through the scheme must make a contribution to the overarching Food Strategy Action Plan – Towards Sustainable Growth: An Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry 2010 -2020 with one or more of the following objectives:

promoting and developing a growing and vibrant food and drink sector in Wales continuing to develop a green image based on sustainable production methods further building resilience into the industry to withstand market changes driving improvements in food safety and security promoting technological innovation in both product and processes providing career opportunities at varying skill levels. 

Important: You must ensure you complete the appropriate application form for this window, please check the Window dates on the form. 

Further details on the application criteria can be obtained by reading the Guidance and supporting scheme documentation.

Scheme Indicative allocation Expected maximum number of full applications Window opens Window closes EOI Decision Date
Rural Business Investment Scheme – Food £300,000 15 20-Sept-17 1-Nov-17 22-Nov-17
Rural Business Investment Scheme – Food  

 

£500,000

 

25 29-Nov-17 24-Jan-18 14-Feb-18

I’m sure after doing all this work for RBIS for food, we’ll get the usual moans and groans because ‘it doesn’t apply to me’ or ‘I can’t tick those boxes’. Well if you think you have a solid case but you are finding the forms rather tricky, then either talk to Menter A Busnes or talk directly to wag food.

 

Please don’t miss out on this…………………………………..

 

 

 
 

Ceredigion Car Parking Charges Annoying Visitors

07 Jun

Ceredigion car parking continues to be a problem.  Follows is an email I received, which I’ve shown in full as I’ve permission to do so and also the Grumpy Old Geezer item the lady is referring to.

Good morning,

I am writing with reference to the ‘Grumpy Old Geezer’ article – page 52 of your January / February magazine.

We live in Shetland and had a month touring the Lake District, Wales and down to southern England during May.  I picked up a copy of your very interesting and attractive Welsh Country magazine at a cheese farm in south Wales.  As it was out of date, we did not have to pay for it – but I was attracted by the cover.

We were horrified to find when we went to Aberystwyth harbour that cars could park for 2 hours for £2.20, whereas motor caravans – according to the little pictures on the price display board – had to pay £5.80 for a whole day with no short concessions.

We did not wish to spend the whole day there, just a couple of hours for a coffee, find the local butcher, greengrocer and baker and then be on our way.  We have no problems with paying £2.00 to £2.50 for a couple of hours parking, but £5.80 for a couple of hours parking is far too expensive.  So we asked the Satnav to find us the nearest supermarket where we could park for nothing, have a coffee and do our shopping. To our great surprise, Cardigan had the same tariffs, so again we went to a supermarket. 

It would have been good to have bought Welsh food, but at such an exorbitant cost to park, we were not prepared to pay. Having found your magazine after those incidents, we totally agree with the writer.  Sadly after those experiences, we automatically headed for supermarkets.

We did have a very enjoyable time in Wales visiting friends, but would be extremely wary about returning with a motorhome.

I would appreciate knowing this email has arrived with you and would very much appreciate your comments on the points I have made.

Thanking you,

Grumpy Old Geezer Jan Feb Issue  

Why are car parks still being used as council cash cows?

In June 2015, vandals sabotaged the council car park machines in Cardigan which meant that for a couple of weeks, trade boomed with some businesses reporting turnover increases of up to 50%. Who could imagine that vandalism would literally breathe new life into Cardigan, even for the briefest time? Like many towns across Wales, Cardigan has a predominance of small shops, some lovely coffee shops and eating places, a restored castle, plus the Guildhall. But this cash-strapped council, within two weeks had ‘found’ some spare machines and Cardigan was back to normal, basically businesses struggling because of car-park charges. These car parks showed a profit of £278k and still the Council increased these charges – you really couldn’t make this up as this council continues to use car parks as cash cows. I understood car park charges were there to maintain the car parks, but the Plaid run, Ceredigion Council appear are against free parking.  

Once the ‘new’ machines were installed, My Beloved Editor, Councillors Elizabeth Evans and Mark Cole and MP Mark Williams, then attended a traders’ organised meeting, a meeting so popular there was standing room only. A couple of Council staff attended but they didn’t grasp the traders’ wish for free parking or simply didn’t care. The traders followed this meeting with direct discussions requesting free parking – but the ‘Council Said NO’. So the traders organised an evening candlelight march through Cardigan, again attended by my Beloved Editor who didn’t see a single councillor or Assembly Member there. Further meetings followed, but the ‘Council Still Said NO’. A compromise was put forward for just two hours free parking, but the Plaid Cymru run Ceredigion County Council ‘Still Said NO’.          

However in the Senedd, last October the Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government said that there should be free parking in Welsh towns in order to keep our town centres bustling. They requested the Welsh Government to set up a new fund to enable local authorities and community groups to offer free car parking in towns throughout Wales to support local shops and businesses. Plaid Cymru recognise the importance of a vibrant and diverse high street in supporting local business owners and the local economy, realising that the lack of free parking is often a big turn off for shoppers. They understand that out-of-town developments with free parking make it impossible for the high street to compete.

The not so funny joke is what Plaid say in Cardiff and what Plaid does in Ceredigion are poles apart. Think the polite phrase is – not on the same page.

I’ve gone back to the lady and explained what an uphill battle Welsh Country magazine has had trying to get Ceredigion County Council to re-think car park charges, but to no avail. A Freedom of Information questions gave e the details that Ceredigion Car Park charges in 2015/16 was £815,988 and I was also told a surplus of £172,669 was achieved. Well now isn’t that great news folks a surplus of nearly £180k but no explanation of where that money was spent. It was my understanding that car parks were not meant to be used as cash cows for the council but income was ploughed back into car parks. It was ironic then to learn that Plaid Cymru Assembly Members in Cardiff say that car parks should be free, but seemingly no-one is telling the Plaid Cymru controlled Ceredigion Council. I wonder why that is? So more hot air from Cardiff and a council in Ceredigion that seem to do as they wish to raise cash – who have thought they were both the same party?

However my main reason though for posting this item is the fact that this lady wanted to purchase local food and drink but annoyed by unrealistic car-parking charges decides to go to a supermarket where she can park for free for a couple of hours and shop there. The fact she’d have found very few Welsh food and drink products in any supermarket is, to say the least very annoying.

Please don’t ask me what I’m going to do next about this; it’s easier to admit defeat and just give up. I, along with our Welsh food and drink producers want visitors to be able to purchase, eat and enjoy local food, isn’t that one of the excitements of visiting new places? However it seems this is too difficult to achieve. If only wag food and Visit Wales could work together they might even get on our food and drink producers Christmas card list!

 

 
 

Food Festival Funding for 2017

27 Apr

Food festival funding in Wales, now let me start this post with some good news – wag food sent this to Ian today with words that we can circulate it to anyone with an interest in Welsh Food & Drink. Well that’s a good start and although for me 7 months too late to get this information – this is progress with wag food talking to us. We’ll be sending it out tonight to all our Best Of Welsh & Border producers and anyone else who has been asking/pestering us for this news! I haven’t posted the application form, but if anyone wants it, just email me and I’ll zap it over, but here’s, in full, the application guidelines:

Strategic Business Growth: Welsh Food and Drink events

Grant Scheme Application Guidelines

Before completing the application for funding form please read through guidelines below:

  1. Scheme Aims.

1.1 The evolution of food events has seen beneficial development in many directions including the creation of market development opportunities for producers beyond the festival circuit, consumer health and education initiatives, and a variety of added value to the local economy.

1.2 The aims of the Strategic Business Growth Grant scheme will be to:

  • Increase the opportunity for new and existing micro and small businesses to test trade, developing marketing/sales skills and local sales opportunities.
  • Increase local engagement in skills/healthy eating.
  • Develop sustainable local food opportunities in line with the Food Tourism Action Plan for Wales.
  • Provide a clear opportunity for locally/regionally sourced Welsh food and drink to be available.
  • Develop community links and partner organisational engagement.
  • Encourage Local Food Tourism development.

1.3 Applications will need to demonstrate that the funding will provide evident advantage to the Welsh food and drink industry, as well as incorporate defined objectives of the Towards Sustainable Growth: An Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry 2014-2020.

1.4 Only activities that will clearly add value to the food and drink industry in Wales will be supported. Further guidance on criteria and examples of eligible activity are issued below.

  1. Who can apply?

2.1 The scheme will be open to food festivals and markets, including one off and annual events which have a defined Welsh Food and Drink offer with the activity happening within Wales.

  1. a) Representative of producers and/or Tourism organisation who have a membership of Welsh Food and/or Drink businesses.
  2. b) Not for profit agencies or voluntary associations.

Strategic Business Growth: Welsh Food and Drink events

  1. c) Joint applications from Food/Tourism groups and business agencies.
  2. d) Individuals applying for activity/ies that will promote and benefit the wider food and tourism industry.

2.2 If an application is proposing a new event/activity, organisational structure and current/future plans must be provided, underlining capacity and ability to deliver.

2.3 The scheme is discretionary and every application is judged on its own merits and the quality of the information provided.

  1. Funding Available

The Strategic Business Growth grant scheme has a budget of £100,000, with a maximum budget of up to £5,000 available per application, funded at up to 100% of the costs.

All Festivals and events should demonstrate their commitment to longer term financial security, therefore funding support will be limited to a maximum of 3 years per festival/ event, subject to annual application and budget availability.

  1. Scheme Criteria

4.1 Applications will need to demonstrate how event proposals will address one or more of the following strategic aims:

  • Providing a trading platform for new Welsh food and drink businesses that have been trading for less than 2 years.
  • Educating consumers about Welsh food and drink.
  • Promoting healthy eating.

4.2 Proposed events must have a presence of at least 25 Welsh food and drink exhibitors and minimum footfall of 2,500 visitors.

4.3 The whole cost of the event must be shown in the application form, however the following elements will be eligible for funding:

  • Cookery demonstrations – promoting local/Welsh produce and healthy eating
  • Marketing/advertising materials.
  • Subsidised or discounted stand / marquee costs for new producers (trading for less than 2 years) – maximum 5 pitches.
  • Other reasonable revenue costs (non-statutory) that are required for the proposed activity to be delivered.

Strategic Business Growth: Welsh Food and Drink events

4.4 Collaborative or joint bids are encouraged, as well as innovative and new activities. Collaborative bids, of two or more events/applicants, will be capped at £10,000.

4.5 This tier will be operated via a streamlined application process. Statutory accounts will be required for established events as well as any relevant policies, Welsh Language provision and Waste Management plans. New events will be required to supply a 12-month financial projection for the year when you will spend the grant. Please include the amount you are requesting from this grant scheme in your projection.

4.6 Any written materials (including signage and information published online), must be provided in Welsh and English, unless it would be unreasonable or disproportionate to do so. Guidance about providing services and written materials in Welsh can be obtained from the Welsh Language Commissioner by visiting www.comisiynyddygymraeg.org

  1. Scoring Criteria

5.1 The following criteria will be used when assessing ALL applicants:

  • Fit with scheme aims

Applicants are expected to demonstrate that the event will fit the aims of the Strategic Business Grant Scheme, as listed in section 1.2 above.

  • Meet with strategic aims

Applicants are expected to demonstrate that the event will address one or more of the Strategic Business Grant Scheme strategic aims, as listed in section 4.1 above.

  • Value for money

Applications are expected to demonstrate that the proposal is good value for money. Further information is noted in section 7 below.

  • Innovation

An economically vibrant and forward thinking industry must be innovative to capture markets and move forwards. Applications need to demonstrate a level of innovation, as noted in section 4.4 above.

  • Defined clear outputs and objectives

Applicants need to demonstrate the funding will provide evident advantage to the food and drink industry in Wales. Event outputs and objectives are an efficient way of measuring its success.

Strategic Business Growth: Welsh Food and Drink events

  • Capacity and ability to deliver.

 Applicants must demonstrate the capacity and the ability to deliver. New applicants must provide evidence, as noted in section 2.2 above. Financial statements from existing events will also be taken into consideration.

  • Collaborative delivery

Collaborations or partnerships with one or more applicants could improve project efficiency, the use of funds and the better delivery of activities to beneficiaries. Collaborative delivery is encouraged and noted in section 4.4 above.

6. Timescales Date
27th April 2017 Strategic Business Growth grant scheme launch
27th April 2017 First grant scheme application window opens
18th May 2017 First grant scheme application window closes
9th June 2017 All successful applicants to receive written confirmation
1st June 2017 Second grant scheme application window opens
1st July 2017 Second grant scheme application window closes
1st August 2017 All successful applicants to receive written confirmation
1st March 2018 All claims to be received no later than this date

Well I hope you find this of interest and it does show you as producers the paperwork our organisers have to complete, the boxes they have to tick and all this for £5k maximum. What has horrified me is that this year’s budget is just £100k and I look back just to 2008 when the budget was £376,786.99 when 43 festivals were funded when the ‘big boys’, Cardiff, Abergavenny and Mold had roughly £30k each and Conwy at £16k. I am seriously struggling with only £100k for 2017 when the government have set their stake high to achieve 30%??? growth through their Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry 2014-2020. If food and drink is so important to Wales, to our food and drink producers and our visitors why is this budget constantly being cut? Not sure what I’m missing here, but I’m obviously missing something………………….

Those festivals running early I’m told, their applications will be fast tracked.Well that’s something but in my opinion, still not good enough.

I’m concerned too about 2,500 visitors, wag food require. How can those festivals running in towns, do a visitor count that is worth wag box ticking? That to me is ridiculous and I’ve forgotten how many festival press releases have been sent to me claiming they’ve had 10,000 people through a one day festival that is held in a town that not only hasn’t got car parking for 1,000 cars it doesn’t run a park & ride either! Another concern is that wag insist on 25 Welsh food and drink stands which on the face of it sounds fine but not if the festival has 200 stands there! I get very cross with wag food putting forward their criteria when I can’t see how much of it will work or be of benefit. Festival funding is usually evaluated, but I just hope it is evaluated by a Quango with a common sense attitude, but please don’t ask me to name one, as I think I’d struggle – but unless it is done in that manner it will be no help to our organisers or wag food. So my view is that these are often pointless, a waste of time and money. Our festivals have had so many evaluations done and I for one can’t see them being very beneficial.

 

 
 

Welsh Cheese In Aldi?

16 Nov

The reason I ask is that I was looking through their Christmas and New Year booklet – all 50 pages of it. As I’m a cheese lover of course I’d to look at the double-page feature – titled Glorious Cheese – and searched for Welsh cheeses. Well that didn’t take long because as you might know if you’re a Welsh cheese producer, or an Aldi shopper, there’s little Welsh cheese in stocked in Aldi in Wales. So no Welsh cheeses in this feature although there was Cornish Blue, Yorkshire Blue, Buxton Blue and plenty of French cheeses too.

We’ve a number of top Welsh cheese producers in our Best Of Welsh & Borders listing so I thought I’d take some time yesterday, Tuesday 15th to direct my displeasure through the Aldi press office. This I’ve done and had an acknowledgement, but nothing further. At least I’ve tried and I can only hope wag food are trying hard as well.

I seem to be on a cheese theme this week as I also posted today the good news that South Caernarfon Creameries, SCC, have got a selection of their cheddars into all Lidl stores in Wales. We were so chuffed to hear this news and as SCC are with us on Best Of Welsh & Borders, Ian took to Twitter saying shame that Aldi cannot have Welsh cheeses in the Christmas platter. That was quickly responded to by Aldi with them saying: thank you for taking the time to leave feedback; we’ll pass this onto the relevant team.

Goodness knows if anything else will happen and of course it’s too late now for Christmas, but maybe it just might Aldi think again about stocking some of the wonderful array of food and drink that we have in Wales. Welsh food and drink should be stocked at least in Welsh branches of Aldi and Lidl. Of course I’m aware that not too many of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers wish to go the supermarket route but for those that do wag food should be helping them on this journey.

As I keep saying I hope the wag food team are on this case ………………………..

 
 

Great Taste Awards, Freedom Question No. 10815

26 Oct

Great Taste Awards are now the leading food awards in Wales following the abandonment of the True Taste Awards, of which much has been posted on this blog.

When wag – in it’s ‘wisdom’ – decided it would drop the True Taste Awards there was huge consternation amongst food and drink producers. The main sticking point was that producers were not allowed any input to wag food before they made their decision. Well let’s be honest, there’s no change there, as wag food do not communicate with producers, a fact we’ve established and tried to change, but to no avail. Our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers are always sent any food press releases I receive but that is very few indeed. But we do send around by email any food and drink related items that we think might be useful to our BOW producers. Anyway back the Great Taste Awards, (GTA). I’ve been asked so many times what is wag’s involvement and what does amuse me is producers think wag food actually tell me. Oh, if only that actually happened, then I wouldn’t have to send through so many Welsh food and drink related questions through the Freedom Of Information, (FOI)  system. But the fact of the matter is we are where we are, wag food don’t talk to me so I have no other option but to use the FOI system. Here’s my latest one and I’ve published this in full apart from the obligatorypiece where wag food tell me if I’m not happy I can ask for a review, which wag food then call a complaint and only if I’m then still not satisfied I can go to the Information Commissioners Office. So here are the questions asked and wag food’s answers:

The information you requested is below.

  1. How much money has the Welsh Government given to the Guild of Fine Food for the years 2015 & 2016?
  2. What proportion of this is targeted specifically at the Great Taste Awards?

The Guild of Fine Food has received £49,080 from the Welsh Government for the years 2015 and 2016 with £4,800 targeted specifically at the Great Taste Awards, see below.

2015/16 £44,280 19/04/15 Hosting Great Taste judging of Welsh entries

2015/16 £ 2,400 29/06/15 Sponsorship for 2015 Awards

2016/17 £ 2,400 08/04/16 Sponsorship for 2016 Awards

In June 2015, the Welsh Government hosted the judging of Welsh entries over a three day period at the St David’s Hotel, Cardiff Bay. The judging, which was arranged and staged by the Guild of Fine Food, hosted up to 70 judges including food writers, bloggers, chefs, producers and buyers.

  1. What were the Welsh Government’s objectives in giving money to the Great Taste Awards?

The overall objective in sponsoring the awards and hosting the judging of the Welsh entries in 2015 was to further raise the profile and awareness of the range of highly innovative, quality and great tasting food and drink produced in Wales.

  1. How were the Welsh Government’s objectives achieved?

Our objectives were achieved by inviting the press and media to the judging; having journalists and food critics visit Wales; undertaking case studies of previous winners; issuing press notices; and through social media, national and regional print.

  1. How were the Welsh Government’s objectives measured?

In supporting the above elements of the Great Taste Awards, we have been able to raise the profile of Welsh successes in the awards. More than 4.5 million people were reached through online and print coverage, measured using print and online circulation figures and radio listening-ship figures.

The Great Taste Awards website, has on average 7,500 visitors per calendar month, and featured our Welsh winners. The Guild of Fine Food promoted the Judging in Wales through their social media channel, @guildoffinefoods with 18,500 followers, and also through press notices.

Yours sincerely

Deputy Director Food Division

Well let me start at the end of my reply from the Deputy Director Food Division, well not signed which I find rather rude, but who is the DDFD? Well waste more time Kath and search Google to find out that this posh title belongs to a Mr. David Morris. But shall I ignore the fact that my reply was only dated as October – with actually no date…………………..

Anyway back to the core of this post. The bonus of sending through an FOI is that I must get a response within 20 days, which to me a long time, but I do appreciate how busy our civil servants are and I do know the timescale. However I’m looking at wag food’s figures and still wondering what this £50k over two years has achieved. To be told wag hosted the judging of Welsh entries in 2015, in Cardiff of course, for up to 70 judges, including food writers, bloggers, chefs, producers and buyers seriously made me chuckle as this is the Welsh government who have told me on a very regular basis that – The Welsh Government doesn’t engage with the blogging community. I can only assume then in this case it was the Great Taste organisers that invited members of the blogging community!

So how were wag food’s objectives achieved? Well inviting the press and media to the judging; having journalists and food critics, undertaking case studies of previous winners; issuing press notices; and through social media, national and regional press. Oh dear, so where does that leaves Welsh Country magazine? www.welshcountry.co.uk. Still out in the cold I can hear you yelling and I would have to agree. In 2015 and 2016 I was not invited to the judging as a member of press, although in 2015 I was invited to judge. I declined that offer as I had always understood GTA judges were top chefs, food critics or expert food and drink producers, so I didn’t think I qualified to judge such an important competition, but that’s another learning curve for me. I’d also like to know in column inches how much national and regional print was achieved. To say more than 4.5 million people reached through online and print coverage is vague to say the least and I’d prefer a more detailed breakdown, but there we are – that’s only my take on it.

 
 

Guess What? Another Food Festival Organiser Conference …….

23 Sep

My thanks to the thoughtful person who sent me details of a Welsh Food Festival Conference being held next month and organised by wag food. Apparently wag food are holding another conference because the one held earlier this year was such a success. It’s no surprise to me hearing second-hand about this conference because that’s how I found out about the first one. That’s what happens when you’re not on wag food’s mailing list! Wag food must have their own agenda for not telling a journalist who is so supportive of Welsh food and drink that this conference was happening. Welsh Country magazine is trying its best to back Welsh food and drink, it’s just a shame wag food don’t understand that. So of course I’m back on my soapbox about the lack of communication and just wishing wag food could grasp that communication really is the key.

Would it be too difficult to send out to food journalist the agenda and minutes or outcomes of these conferences? Sorry that was a stupid question because it hasn’t happened, wag food obviously not thinking it worth their time. After all it does take time sending out a couple of emails………………..

Wag Food sent this email out under a save the date communication. Apparently an agenda and full itinerary will follow in due course.

I can only assume it will be a fairly brief ‘conference’ as wag food tell me:

Food Festivals need to manage their own commercial decisions with regards to management, operations of their events. Each event should also maintain feedback, as part of their Quality- Systems and to maintain or better their producer / visitor experience in the future. The feedback forms do not come to Welsh Government. As you will appreciate each Food Festival is responsible to organise their own exhibiting area and food producers. This commercial situation has nothing to do with WG commissioned research and who exhibits is a matter for the said organiser.

Sure there are some Welsh food and drink producers who‘d like to be flies on the wall for that one!

 
 

Further Update On Freedom Of Information 10621

06 Sep

Well what a pleasant surprise, today I’ve had an answer, no sorry I mean reply, to my request for a ‘review’ which was not due until 19th September. Although wag’s email response is headed as a review, wag food have dealt with my ‘review’ as a complaint. Complaint, well that must mean something to wag, but nevertheless an early reply is something, answers would have been even better, but this is wag food I’m trying to get answers from. So as I’ve been asked repeatedly what’s happening with this question, here is their reply in full:

Complaint in respect of ATISN 10621

Thank you for your letter of 19 August seeking a review of our response to your recent request for information regarding funding for food festivals.

Your complaint was:

I cannot accept that the Welsh Government do not hold any information on the questions not answered in this FOI.   

I have carried out a review of our response to you of 17 August. You asked 10 questions, and I see a response was given for points 1-4 and 7-9. On points 5, 6 and 10 our response to you was that we do not hold the information requested.

I understand your complaint to be with respect to our answers on points 5, 6 and 10, and I have restricted this review to consideration of those points.

Specifically, these points are:

  1. From which budgets or other sources of WG funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?

   What criteria do these festivals have to meet before they can apply for funding from other than the food festival budget?

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

I have spoken with officials who collated the original answer to understand what searches were undertaken to locate the information requested. I then conducted additional searches for the information requested. I have consulted with colleagues in other departments in Welsh Government who have also conducted their own searches for information.

In conducting these additional searches I have also considered the timescale you are interested in. Your first question was for:

  1. Details of all food festivals that applied for funding in 2016 and received £5k?

Officials responding to your request have therefore interpreted all subsequent questions to relate to the time period of 2016 (that is all applications for funding from 1 January 2016 to the date of your request). There is some ambiguity as to whether this includes an application for funding for a food festival taking place in 2016 where the application was received prior to 2016, so for the avoidance of doubt, I have ensured that the search specifically includes these.

These searches have not turned up any new information. In particular, under points 5 and 6, Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff have not applied for or received any funding for food festivals from other sources of funding within Welsh Government in this time period. We hold no information as to whether any other body has provided them funding external to Welsh Government.

Although they have not applied for funding in 2016, I have established that in some cases a food festival might qualify for funding from our Major Events Unit, and if their event were to qualify for funding, the criteria they would need to meet are described here:

hhttp://gov.wales/topics/tourism/marketingl1/majourevents/guidance/?lang=en.

On question 10, you asked where the remainder of this year’s food festival budget had been allocated and we replied that we do not hold recorded information in response to this query. I confirm that we do not hold recorded information on these budget allocations, as the budget has not yet been allocated.

Wag food civil servants must be in training to be politicians, as they’ve certainly learnt the art of not answering questions! I have been talking to them since March about food festival funding and yes, surprise, surprise, it’s  this year I’m interested in. This year they’ve given festivals two dates to apply for funding but then been so slow publishing a full list of funded festivals , I’ve found it pathetic. It was  August before the full list was available. How organisers managed to do their financial planning without knowing if they had wag support was total nonsense, yet as the maximum they can apply for is £5k, wag food are giving the message that basically guys fund it yourself, unless you happen to be one of the big three. Despite Welsh Country magazine supporting Welsh food and drink for over 11 years and the backing we have from so many Welsh food and drink producers, not to mention my talking to, or at wag food about Welsh food festivals, I still didn’t get sent the press release about food festival funding. How weird is that? Communication is the key, but that clearly doesn’t apply to wag food.

All I wanted to know was:

Which festivals have been funded.

Which festivals applied and didn’t get funded.

What’s happened to the remainder of the £160k food festival budget.

What government funding has been given to Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy.

Wag food are spending our money, so why is it so difficult, or near impossible, to find out where that money is being spent. Somebody must be accountable for this spend but it’s infuriating they’re not willing to disclose.

If wag food think their handling of this is acceptable, then it’s further proof we are operating on different planets. I’m in the real world and they clearly are not…………………..

 
 

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?

 
 

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………………….?