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Posts Tagged ‘Welsh food and drink’

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  As it was out of date, we did not have to pay for it – but I was attracted by the cover.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!

 

 
 

No Press Passes for Haverfoodfest

08 May

Over the last two years we have attended the Haverfoodfest. We’ve simply rocked up, presented our business cards, explained who we were and we’d no hassle getting in. We always saw a few of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers and last year had a chat with visiting politicians including MP Steve Crabb.

For some reason this year though, after checking out their website, I used their email link which was directed to ‘admin’ and asked for 2 press tickets and a car pass. On 4th May I got notice of my email being re-directed to Lise – saying ‘think this is for you’. I’ve no idea who Lise is, or her role, but from my side it does help if there is a press contact on festival websites. Now with hindsight it seems press is not welcomed at Haverfoodfest, or maybe that’s perhaps Lise doesn’t want Welsh Country magazine to attend. I didn’t get a response, despite chasing again on 5th.

I’d actually only emailed to do my job properly, but as no hassle last year, I didn’t expect it this year, but how wrong I was. After a 90 minutes drive we got to Haverfordwest on the Saturday morning about 11.00. The event opened at 10.00 and when we drove in there were visitors going in in the bright, sunny weather. There were oodles of people milling around, all wearing the obligatory yellow vests. Ian talked to the guys on the gate and they decided they couldn’t let us in, so we were told to wait and shortly a lady called Carol came across. She said she’d replied to my email and was surprised I’d not get it, deciding it must ‘have got lost’. Well of course it must have. I explained that I was hardly going to undertake a 3 hour round trip to visit if I’d been told by email I couldn’t have press tickets. Her comment was puzzling  to me as she’d sent my initial email onto Lise and surely that meant Lise should have replied to me, doesn’t it? I thought that was strange and in my view very unprofessional, unhelpful and unwelcoming. Carol then said she’d been told ‘they’ weren’t doing anything with magazines. Again another puzzle. Not at all clear as to what that meant as Ian had been told ‘they’ weren’t going to advertise with Welsh Country magazine, but were going with a Pembrokeshire ‘magazine’ title. That’s fair enough, ‘they’ didn’t advertise with us in the previous year, so we were not going to miss something we never had!

Carol told us it we wished to attend of course we could and as it was only £3.00 each to enter, which she thought was reasonable. I didn’t think press having to pay was reasonable, so we turned around and left. We attend a huge number of events every year to work and the cost would be well in excess of £1000.00 just in entrance fees each year.  Discounting Abergavenny, this is the first time in thirteen years that Welsh Country magazine has not been allowed press tickets for an event. I’m still unsure why press, or more specifically Welsh Country magazine, was not welcomed, but there we are.

I can only hope that the food & drink producers that attended did well and the purchases I’d have made weren’t missed. Never mind, I can go to St Dogmaels’ produce market tomorrow and play local food catch-up, knowing that the selection of producers there will be a good as ever and we’ll be welcomed too!

I always look for a positive in each post, it’s not always easy, when I’m discussing Welsh food and drink, but this time it is for me as I shall not have to attend this event again.

 
 

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.

 

 
 

Invite To The World Angus Forum

10 Mar

I’ve been invited as media to the The Angus World Forum 2017 which is being held in Scotland this June to celebrate the Aberdeen-Angus breed in its homeland for the first time in 40 years. So hoping this post and invite might well amuse you as it did me. Yes it is a food related invitation from Scotland no less!

I’m told that a press briefing is being held at the land Pavilion at the Royal Highland Showground, Edinburgh, at 11am on Friday 17th March and I must say that if I’d time I’d love to attend, Edinburgh is such a beautiful city. Now I’m not happy to say this, but I’m being forced to behave as a grown-up, well on this occasion anyway and will now have to go back to these lovely people and say thanks for their kind invitation, but I cannot escape Wales to attend their press briefing.

The Angus World Forum are just shy of three and a half months to go until enthusiasts of the Aberdeen-Angus breed descend on the UK, they will be visiting from Ireland and of course from around the world, but the organising committee want the media’s help to generate a buzz and publicise this event. All I can say on that is I am pleased that Scotland has a different take on the media, wanting to work with them, which is what I’m constantly saying Wales should be doing. The media do have their uses and it is in my view, silly to ignore them. So with nearly 4 months to get the word around, I’m hopeful that this event will work well for them.

The Aberdeen-Angus defines Scotland as the Welsh Black defines Wales. I’ve no idea if the Welsh Black Society run a similar event, but perhaps that’s something I’ve just not been told about.

My amusement comes from getting an invite from the Scottish food and drink people! Now where do I live and work? Wales. What does Welsh Country magazine focus many of its pages on? Welsh food and drink ………………………

 

 

 

 
 

Taste Wales – Is It Only Me Confused?

13 Dec

Ian showed me a mini piece from Wales Business Insider, WBI, which is a B2B regional title, saying as follows: Taste Wales – Food-focused trade show and conference gathering producers with UK and international buyers. It’s expected to include partnering sessions for producers and buyers to make contacts; a showcase of Welsh products; insight into innovation, skills development and business support; and an evening reception.

Well dear readers, isn’t this interesting? WBI is a regional title, one of five regional titles published. Forgive me for stating the obvious here, but Welsh Country magazine is a Welsh title, published for 13 years and focusing heavily on Welsh food and drink, but have we been sent details of this event? No we haven’t. Why not? Well maybe that question is best directed to the Welsh Government, or perhaps the Welsh press office………………..but as I’m not supposed to talk to wag and the Welsh Government press office have refused to answer any further questions from Welsh Country magazine, I’m stuck!

Using Google, I typed in ‘Taste Wales’ TW, and ignoring the food delivery business running under that same name, I got directed to Business Wales. Once on that site I searched for Taste Wales and was told to refine my search, but Food and Drink and Growing Together then showed. Scrolling down under Information, 8 headers were shown but no Taste Wales. Scroll down again and found 2 headers for News & for Events. Click on Events and guess what showed up first? Taste Wales! Other events showed up along the same line, not in date order, but why would I expect that to happen? I guess it’s my job to search and it seems it is wag’s job to not make that too easy.

All I’m asking is for wag and wag food to keep me, as a journalist, updated, particularly on the Weksh food and drink front. Then if I think it relevant I shall tell my Welsh Country readers but will most certainly keep readers updated on welshfoodbites and send any food and drink press releases to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers. In a nutshell I’m trying to help Welsh food and drink. I just didn’t think it would be so difficult getting that message across to wag.

 

 
 

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 ………………………..

 
 

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!

 
 

Scottish Food Manufacturing Growing Twice As Fast As UK Average

08 Sep

Whilst I’m being bashed from pillar to post by wag food seemingly because I’m a journalist asking them questions they’ve no wish to answer, I’m chuffed that the Scottish Government are talking  to me. Mind you, if I were the Scottish Government I’d be broadcasting this news to all and sundry. Scotland says their annual turnover for the food and drink industry reached record levels of £14.4 billion in 2014. It makes sense that they wish to crow that these latest figures also reveal that their food manufacturing sector grew at twice the rate of the UK average, increasing by 43 per cent in Scotland compared to 21 per cent in the UK from 2008-2014. I’d like to give you the reciprocal figures from Wales, but ‘as yet’ I’ve not been sent any and haven’;t bothered asking them for those figures either!

On 4th September, at the start of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing said: “The food and drink sector continues to be one of our most successful and that success shows no sign of slowing down. The industry is vital to Scotland – it creates jobs and wealth, impacts on health and sustainability, and helps attract people to the country by promoting our food and drink around the globe. This record turnover means that the sector is making good progress towards meeting the 2017 target of £16.5 billion, which has been set by Scotland Food & Drink. We are committed to doing all we can in government to support the growth of food and drink production and the contribution it makes to Scotland’s economy. Behind all of these figures are the drive and determination of the people who make up the industry – their hard work is key to ensuring, that Scotland’s food and drink is a success.”

Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive James Withers also welcomed the announcement. Withers said: “These are great figures and testament to a transformation in food and drink activity in Scotland over the last few years. The sector is not without challenges and uncertainty, but for a sector whose growth was stagnant a few years ago, this has been a major turnaround. The Scottish industry is now being recognised internationally for how it has embraced collaboration to grow, forging a stronger global reputation for our products. Opportunities still abound at home and overseas. We’re investing in developing new customers across the UK and in key international markets. That work, alongside deeper partnership working between different industry bodies and government, will be the key to success in the coming years and central to a new 2030 strategy to be launch early next year.”

Now let me start off by saying Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, well what a great idea, when is Welsh  Food & Drink Fortnight? Well that’s a good question, but do we have a Welsh Food & Drink Fortnight? Or is this something Welsh Country magazine and welshfoodbites.co.uk has missed? We are here with a huge passion to support Welsh food and drink so it would be a poor deal if we’ve not been told about it. Scotland’s Food & Drink target for 2017 is £16.5 billion, and they remain committed as a government to support the growth of food and drink production and the contribution it makes to Scotland’s economy. To me this is great news for Scotland and makes me think in the Scottish government is not just words from them but action to ensure their food and drink industry does grow. My fear for Wales, as it has been for far too long, is Wales is good on words, but fails on actual action. In my view we lack joined up writing. Yes of course Wales has action plans, I’ve lost count of how many action plans we’ve had over the last decade, my concern is that Wales seems to lack the capacity to turn any action plan into growth.

 

 
 

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…………………..