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Posts Tagged ‘Welsh Food Festivals’

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……………………………

 

 

 

 
 

Food Festival Conference / Funding Update

16 Mar

Please don’t chase me for an update on wag’s food festival conference / get together which was to be held yesterday. I’ve been told, by someone was attending that is was postponed and will be held at a future date. I do apologise for not posting earlier but swamped with work at the moment and couldn’t rate this as a priority – sorry.

For those of you that are also a little behind, follows is my post that was posted on 1st March:

I’m still getting calls and emails asking about this year’s and I so wish people would either read welshfoodbites or ring the Welsh Government Food Department themselves. So at the risk of sounding very much like a stuck record – I do NOT know anything about wag food’s plans on food festival funding for this year and as I keep saying, if I did I’d tell our Best Of Welsh & Borders food producers by email and then post on welshfoodbites.

I have however been sent, not by wag food, but by two Welsh Country magazine supporters, details of a wag food meeting or conference, titled Food Festivals – Building on success – to be held in two weeks time.

I note from the draft outline of the day an item headed, ‘New Funding Scheme For 2017, which will cover, Management, Criteria, Guidelines, Timescales, Next Steps and a Q & A’. So I’m assuming the food festival organisers will then know where they stand for 2017. All I can say is it’s better late than never! I’m looking forward to a festival organiser giving me an update after this meeting as I certainly cannot rely on wag food telling me what’s happening, or if a press release is sent out whether I’ll get sent one.

Please excuse my further confusion at another item titled ‘Food Festival Co-Operation Project’ I’ve no idea what on earth this might be about, or how might work and I can hardly wait to find out – no really I can’t!!!!

I’ve lost count of the number of years I’ve been worried, concerned, annoyed, frustrated, cross, angry, gosh I could go on for ever. But the point is markets and food festivals are the life blood of many Welsh food and drink producers. They need to know early which festivals are running which of course in many instances is related in part to government funding. But year after years we are left waiting to find out what is happening, all because wag food cannot communicate to producers or the media. It seems in wag’s mind it’s not important that producers AND organisers know what is happening and as that seems to be the case, I might as well give up. There is nothing more frustrating than talking to, or at, ‘someone’ who is unable or unwilling to listen……………..

 
 

Food Festival Conference / Funding

01 Mar

Food festival funding, I’m still getting calls and emails asking about this year’s and I so wish people would either read welshfoodbites or ring the Welsh Government Food Department themselves. So at the risk of sounding very much like a stuck record – I do NOT know anything about wag food’s plans on food festival funding for this year and as I keep saying, if I did I’d tell our Best Of Welsh food producers by email and then post on welshfoodbites.

I have however been sent, not by wag food, but by two Welsh Country magazine supporters, details of a wag food meeting or confernece, titled Food Festivals – Building on success – to be held in two weeks time.

I note from the draft outline of the day an item headed, ‘New Funding Scheme For 2017, which will cover, Management, Criteria, Guidelines, Timescales, Next Steps and a Q & A’. So I’m assuming the food festival organisers will then know where they stand for 2017. All I can say is it’s better late than never! I’m looking forward to a festival organiser giving me an update after this meeting as I certainly cannot rely on wag food telling me what’s happening, or if a press release is sent out whether I’ll get sent one.

Please excuse my further confusion at another item titled ‘Food Festival Co-Operation Project’ I’ve no idea what on earth this might be about, or how might work and I can hardly wait to find out – no really I can’t!!!!

I’ve lost count of the number of years I’ve been worried, concerned, annoyed, frustrated, cross, angry, gosh I could go on for ever. But the point is markets and food festivals are the life blood of many Welsh food and drink producers. They need to know early which festivals are running which of course in many instances is related in part to governement funding. But year after years we are left waiting to find out what is happening, all because wag food cannot communicate to producers or the media. It seems in wag’s mind it’s not important that producers AND organisers know what is happening and as that seems to be the case, I might as well give up. There is nothing more frustrating than talking to, or at, ‘someone’ who is unable or unwilling to listen……………..

 

 
 

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…………………..

 
 

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……………………………….

 
 

Bodnant Sells ‘Welsh’ Pork…from Belgium

07 Jan

Apologies for having to play catch up, but I really wanted to post this story, late though it is. A lady paid a ‘premium price’ believing she was buying a Welsh ham joint whislt shopping at the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. Despite a label clearly describing the meat as Welsh, her purchase wasn’t Welsh ham at all it was from ham from Belgium – the ham was stamped with the word ‘Belgie’!
The shopper paid a premium price for her ‘Welsh’ ham but is now wondering about the authenticity of the shops other products. Bodnant responded to the shopper’s written complaint but did admit that the pork could come from an EU country, despite it saying on the label. ‘Welsh cured gammon joint’, ‘pork produced in Wales’, and ‘origin – Welsh’.
Chris Morton, managing director at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre , said: “We are fully committed to promoting Welsh produce. “Our gammon is cured in Wales and is supplied to us by Farm Fresh, part of Castell Howell, a long-established, reputable and fully accredited company and Wales’ biggest producer of cured meats. We would like to apologise that, in this instance, the gammon joint had been incorrectly labelled, and we have taken immediate steps to ensure this does not happen again. We support Welsh farmers – all our fresh lamb, beef, pork and Christmas poultry comes from Wales, with the vast majority from nearby farms. All the fresh lamb, beef and pork at Bodnant is sourced directly from Wales. Our gammon is cured in Wales by a reputable, fully accredited supplier. They use pork sourced from the EU, including Wales and the UK. We will continue to work with Welsh suppliers.”
In 2012, Bodnant was opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and has since been named Welsh Farm Shop of the Year and the best in the UK by BBC Good Food magazine.

Sadly I’ve still not visited Bodnant, but I’ve had some excellent reports back from various sources, praising this outlet. To have a farm shop like Bodnant promoting Welsh food and drink is my idea of heaven, even more so if selfishly it was just down the road from me! But this story is so disappointing and very annoying. It’s likely to damage Bodnant, when they have worked hard to build a reputation of selling quality Welsh produce.  I hope they can sort out this issue quickly and get the message out again that they do sell quality Welsh food and drink.

Over the last few days I’ve noted this story taking Twitter by storm with various people venting their wrath. Well that’s fine, but I wonder how many of these angry people have found the time to do something even more constructive than just Twitter? Have any emailed the Deputy Food Minister and asked her why this well-funded, Welsh centre been selling Belgium pork? Asked her how can she make it easier for Bodnant to access Welsh pork and ham? How many people tackled the well-funded Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), to find out why this fine farm shop must get ham from Belgium to get what they then mis-label Welsh pork? The Welsh Government set up HCC to promote all Welsh meat, or so I understood, but seemingly Welsh pork for too long a time has had a raw deal and this situation seems to prove it.
Until last year I did have a splendid pork producer near me, but their ongoing complaint was that HCC didn’t do enough or in their words ‘anything’ to promote Welsh pork. I had to agree with this company because the focus of HCC seems to be Welsh beef and Welsh lamb, hardly ever, anything in the press to promote Welsh pork. I have no idea why this situation has occured but HCC need to do much more, in my opnion anyway, to promote our magnificent meats – and I mean all of them!

Welsh Country magazine has always set its stall out to promote Welsh food & drink, but even I have to admit it’s not been an easy journey, basically it’s government and people not being able to work totgether for the benefit of Welsh food & drink. We rarely get much coverage about Welsh food and drink in the media and Bodnant really didn’t need a story like this to hit the Welsh tabloids. Sadly good news stories are not often in the papers. But this is an important issue because it can easily knock the confidence of the many Welsh people who readily support their Welsh farmers’ markets, Welsh farm shops and Welsh food festivals.

I do hope Bodnant can get this issue sorted out quickly and that HCC at least tries to help them.

 

 
 

Evaluation of Food Festivals 2015 – 2016

23 Oct

I’d heard nothing about food festivals being evaluated this year and at the food festivals I had attended, I’d only seen some ‘people with clipboards’ on two occasions. As I’d not been approached by a clipboard carrier I thought it best to send a Freedom Of Information question, (Number 9805) through for an update. Questions are shown below:

1. When was the 2015/16 Monitoring & Evaluation of Food Festivals Support by the Welsh Government put out to tender?
2. Which companies submitted tender applications?
3. When was the tender awarded?
4. What is the completion date for this tender?
5. What is the tender value?
6. When will the review be published and available to the press and public?
7. Was the tender issued to companies on the Welsh Government Research and Evaluation Framework programme?
8. Apart from ticking boxes for Europe, what brief has been given to the successful company?

The Welsh Government response arrived this morning and is as follows:

1. The tender was issued on the 19/6/2015
2. 4 companies submitted tenders: Promar, Strategic Marketing, Miller Research and Wavehill.
3. The tender was awarded on the 15/7/15
4. The completion date for this tender is 25/3/2016
5. The tender value is £35k inclusive of VAT
6. It isn’t possible to give an accurate date when this evaluation will be published, however we would anticipate that the report would be translated and approved by the Minister by late Spring 2016 for publication.
7. The tender was issued to companies on the Welsh Government Food Division Framework Lot 5 – Research and Evaluation.
8. The successful contractor will be expected to:

• Complete a detailed review of applications and supporting documentation, identify trends and provide statistical analysis.
• Complete a survey (mixed media) of all Food Festivals supported and a sample of those Welsh Food and Drink producers attending
• Develop simple reporting forms to record site visits. Brief individual written reports will be expected of those 6 Festivals visited including a sample visitor survey at each.
• Activity will be expected to culminate in a report assessing performance against the criteria set for Food and Drink Festivals.

FD requires a clear measurement of the Grant support provided against the criteria set and the application form submitted. In addition to this measurement FD would like the following evaluated:

• Sustainable Strategies – would the Festival continue without FD support?
•Is the event considered to be an exemplar to the Promotion of Welsh Produce to visitors in and outside Wales?
• How does the event meet with the aims and objectives of the Food Tourism Action Plan 2015 – 2020?
• Involvement of Food Tourism Providers – are they Championing Local Producers?
• Number of Food & Drink Producers and who these producers are, numbers of Welsh Producers.
• Evidence of any Social, Health or Educational benefit associated with the Festival.

The final report will need to measure the impact of the Grant Support as a whole and the effects should the Grant Support cease. The evaluation will need to focus on the Support provided by Welsh Government and recommendations for the future in line with the Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry in Wales.

Well I found the answers rather surprising and also think this tender has been awarded even later than ever, mid July and that only 6 festivals are being evaluated. Initially most festivals were evaluated and then if I remember correctly, when Wavehill were first awarded this evaluation tender in 2013-14, wag food told them to attend ‘a sample of festivals’. So which festivals are selected and who does the selection, wag food or Wavehill? As I wasn’t aware only 6 festivals were being evaluated, but why should wag food tell me that? I couldn’t ask which ones they were, so I’d to ask another question. But you’ll not be surprised to learn that my asking which 6 festivals were being evaluated and why was the policy changed meaning that only 6 festivals were being evaluated, is now being treated as a further FOI. So only another 20 days to wait for a response!

Something else that I find worrying is that despite the number of festivals I’ve attended this year, not one single producer has ever mentioned to me anything about Wavehill being in attendance or that they’ve been spoken to by Wavehill either. I’m concerned that for me at least, wag food doesn’t seem to focus first and foremost on food and drink producers when evaluating food festivals. As always happens, this seems as messy as ever, but I think the thing we must hold onto is that this food festival evaluation means that wag food has ticked another box for Europe, should it need to do so. Now I’ve to wait until ‘late spring next year’ to see if I am sent  – well I doubt that will happen – or I have to start searching wag’s wonderful website for this evaluation report……….

Interestingly on Twitter, Wales Rural Network stated: Lots of Supply Chain Efficiency project evaluation reports available here, on looking, not many evaluations were available, so asked, are there documents for evaluation of all projects? If so where? To be told: All reports that have been submitted ar (sic) published in the document library section, More will be added when received.
One of the reports listed was a Food Festivals Evaluation Report from June 2011, so we are all being well informed, 5 years later it seems. As I’ve said before and doubtless will say again, you could not run a business like this!!

 
 

Welsh Food Festival Calendar

29 Sep

The question is why hasn’t Wales got a calendar for festivals they are ‘willing’ to fund?
I was told, not directly of course, that a Food Festival Committee/s was being formed, but as there is still no festival calendar, you might well wonder if this committee did get of the ground. Well I think it has and my reasoning on this is as follows: If I can take you back to last year when all food festivals were told the maximum amount they could apply for was £10k as wag keep saying that food festivals need to be self-funding. £10k maximum was a bitter pill for some of the big festivals to swallow and I was told, though this has not been officially confirmed either, that Abergavenny festival actually had a meeting with the then Food Minister. I’ve also been told, though yet again, not officially, that Abergavenny Chair one of the Regional Committees.

So roll onto this year and low and behold the maximum festivals can apply for:
Tier 1 – Funding of up to £5,000 at 50% of eligible costs.
Tier 2 – Funding of up to £10,000 at 50% of eligible costs.
Tier 3 – Funding of up to £25,000 at 50% of eligible costs.

Perhaps it’s only me that’s confused. Maybe festivals are only ‘told’ by wag food that they have to attempt to be self-funding. But then last year Abergavenny did refuse me press tickets on the grounds that: This year we have undertaken a review of all the complimentary tickets we give out to various people and organisations. We have done this as part of our continued efforts to become financially self-sustainable. For this reason we are not able to offer you complimentary press passes this year.

Other press got complimentary tickets so that doesn’t ring true does it?

So mixed messages here, or maybe it’s just me not understanding civil service thinking. Anyway back to a festival calendar and to a topic that I’ve raised before but sadly no-one in power, i.e. wag food, accepts this is a problem. Which is proof, if proof were still needed, that wag food have no conception of the problems producers face. But this issue could easily be solved and without costing wag food any extra cash, just create a workable food festival calendar of festivals that they are funding.

This Saturday there are festivals at Brecon, Neath and Newport and all three funded by wag. Brecon are getting a pathetic £4k, but Neath and Newport don’t fare much better with £5k. I’m guessing all three asked for more, but wag said no. So we’ve three popular festivals, reasonably close to each other, all running the same weekend. My question is the same as it’s always been, why, oh why is this still happening? Micro producers have no choice but to select one festival, although medium – larger producers can often get a second team out. Obviously wag has nothing to do with festivals that aren’t funded, but that’s not the issue here, I’m talking purely funded festivals and I despair why wag can’t exert some control over the festivals that they do fund.

In the past I have challenged wag food about a festival calendar and was told that dates were nothing to do with wag, a comment I find ridiculous. Festivals are for producers, locals and visitors, but first and foremost festivals are for our Welsh food and drink producers, otherwise without their support you cannot hold a food festival. If wag food say to these three festivals they can apply for funding, but will not be offered funding unless dates are changed, that would solve this problem. It’s an obvious that producers need to be able to attend as many festivals as possible, but wag food are prepared to stand back and ignore this issue.  Brecon has been running on the same weekend for decades, so in my view that weekend is theirs and I’m just disappointed that Neath and Newport also decided to set up on the same weekend as Brecon. If these other two festivals were held in the norht there wouldn’t be the same problem, but so close – it is a nuisance. Neath have developed a very successful festival that now runs over 3 days. The Neath team have been clever and do a great job, but that only serves to further annoy the producers who are loyal to Brecon. Newport started after Neath, but again went for the same weekend. Newport is not one I’ve  attended, but can’t anyone else understand how annoyed producers are that some of them are missing out on Neath and Newport due to this clash of dates.

Sorting out a food festival calendar is hardly a tough job, but sadly it’s prove too tought for wag or perhaps they are simpy not interested enough to help producers on this one. I’m very disappointed that the Food Festival Committees have not tackled this problem, but clever them, they’ve at least got wag to pushed the funding up to a maximum of £25k this year for the larger events.

I do though wonder how many years I’ll be ranting on about the lack of a food festival calendar………

 
 

9610 Food Festivals & Events

04 Aug

You’ve been asking me questions about food festivals and as I’ve not known the answers, because wag food haven’t told me, I’ve had to send another FOI through to get this information. Follows is wag’s answer in full:

1. I require a full list of all festivals that applied for Welsh Government funding for 2015 in the first and second tranches.
2. How much funding did each festival apply for?
3. A full list of festivals that applied for funding and were not successful. Also the amount they requested.
4. The reason why each festival either wasn’t funded or had their original funding request reduced.
5. For second tranche of funding I require answers to questions 1, 2, and 3 above.
1. Details of all Food Festivals supported within the first and second tranche of support have been published on the following page:

http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/foodanddrink/supportforfoodproducers/supportforfoodfestivals/food-culture-grant-funding-for-food-festivals-2015-16/?lang=en

2&4 The following have been offered support below that requested including reason for variance, all the others have been offered support at the level requested:
                                                Grant Request         Grant Approved       Reason for variance

Hay Summer Festival –        £2,492                           £1,701                  50% of Eligible costs
Menai Seafood Festival –    £5,000                           £4,634                         “ “
Brecon Food Festival  –       £4,850                           £4,000                        “ “
Hay Winter Festival –          £2,292                           £1,701                          “ “
Abergavenny Food Fest –  £21,850                         £14,350                       “ “
Conwy Feast  –                    £25,000                        £15,255                        “ “

3&4 The following festivals were rejected, including reason for rejection:
Broneirion Festival – £4,919 – did not meet the basic criteria
Greenman Courtyard Event, London – £10,000 – event outside of Wales.
5. Included above.

I’m at a loss with wag food as I simply do not understand why this year they’ve put festivals into two tranches. Last year the maximum grant was £10k, this year the maximum grant is £25k, but why the increase when wag food have been telling me for the last ten years festivals must aim to be self-funding. Guess why I’m puzzled is what wag food mean by ‘aim’! No doubt this all makes civil service sense to wag, but it certainly doesn’t to me. I’m also puzzled as to why festivals think that getting a grant of £1,700 is worth the hassle with the red-tape and paper-work, plus the criteria that wag create.

Wag and wag food say Welsh food and drink is important to Wales but do let me know your views if you have time………

 
 

Festival Funding – Or A Game Of Smoke & Mirrors?

21 May

I’ve been asked so often about food festival funding, so the easiest way to update you is to show you my Freedom Of Information question Number 9403 and the response.

ATISN 9403 Food Culture Grant Scheme – Food Festivals and Events 2015
Thank you for your request which I received on 22.04.15. You asked for:
1. I require a full list of all festivals that applied for Welsh Government funding for 2015 in both first and second tranches.
2. How much funding each festival has applied for and how much they received.
3. The festivals that applied for funding and were not successful. Also the amount they requested.
4. Date when second tranche will be awarded.
5. For second tranche of funding I require answers to questions 1, 2, and 3 above.

Please note that the Food Festival and Events grant process for 2015/16 is still currently ongoing. With that in mind, I set out the response to each of your questions below.
1 and 2
As the application process has not yet closed, the Welsh Government does not hold a full list of all festivals that applied for Welsh Government funding for 2015 (in both first and second tranches) or the amount they have applied for/received. At best we only hold partial information relating to the applications received to date and how much they applied for. I can confirm, however, that it is the Welsh Government’s intention to ultimately publish the outcome of the Food Culture Grant Scheme – Food Festivals and Events 2015 -2016 on the following page:
http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/foodanddrink/supportforfoodproducers/supportforfoodfestivals/food-culture-grant-funding-for-food-festivals-2015-16/?lang=en
Because of this, the partial information we hold is exempt under section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) – Information intended for future publication. Section 22 states:
(1)Information is exempt information if:
(a) the information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not).
(b) the information was already held with a view to such publication at the time when the request for information was made, and.
(c) it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure until the date referred to in paragraph (a).
As set out above, (a) and (b) have been satisfied and as far as (c) goes I believe it’s wholly reasonable to withhold the information until its formal publication so as to allow the established timeline of the process to run its course.
Section 22 is also subject to the public interest test; that is, in order to withhold the information it has to be shown that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs that in releasing it. The Welsh Government acknowledges the general public interest in openness and transparency that the release would engender. On the other hand, however, the information is incomplete and inappropriate for publication at this stage as it could be misleading. Your own interest in the information notwithstanding, I do not believe there is sufficient public interest in this information to warrant release of the information prior to the official publication.
3 – as the process is still ongoing, decisions regarding the success or otherwise of the applicants has not yet been made. Consequently, this information is not held by Welsh Government.
4 – All awards under the second tranche of funding will be made by 31 July 2015.
5 – In relation to this question please see the response to questions 1, 2 and 3 above.

So the outcome is please don’t ask me about festival funding because you now know as much, or as little, as me. But there really is no need for you to worry, because the link wag have kindly sent through is a great idea, well it would be if us outsiders have the slightest clue of WHEN to look for it! Guess that’s another wag secret.

Under the old regime – later than I or you would like, wag food would send to me the full list of festivals they were funding. I then had to go back to them to ask which festivals had been turned down and how much each festival had asked for, but that was just another email for me to do. Now wag foods’ latest system only makes life more complicated and really does feel like a government game of smoke and mirrors. Money matters should be in the public’s interest because it is our money wag is spending. Seemingly Welsh food and drink producers are classed as public and they of course have no interest in food festival funding at all………………………

Welsh food and drink are supposed to be important to Wales, which means that Welsh food and drink producers are important to. Which then means our Welsh  food festivals are also important too. But not being able to get even part of the information I;ve asked me for, is to say the least annoying. Did Welsh food and drink producers agree that it was a good idea to run two tranches of food festival funding this year? Well I think not, because wag food can’t be bothered engaging with their producers, by and large. I really don’t know how many times I have to tell wag food that this is one of their many problems is a puzzle. Were Welsh food festival organisers asked it they wanted two tranches? Perhaps they were now wag have agreed to have a food festival committee, but is that committee talking to all food festivals that are chasing funding? I’m not sure they are. Obviously the big three festivals have got a voice to wag food, hence they are all getting more cash this year, but not sure it applies across the board and that is my worry. I’m sure the big three festivals will survive anyway, but what of our smaller festivals? If they don’t where does our growth come from?

The first tranche of food festival funding has been sent out by wag and has been published here on welshfoodbites.co.uk so why I can’t have questions answered about that first tranche makes no sense to me an their explanation doesn’t help at all, but that’s so typical of wag.

Wag, why help if you can hinder?