Subsidy and a major capital asset in Wales…

Being preoccupied recently with lot of the discourse of community asset transfer, this story from south Wales struck me as an interesting snippet to throw into the mix.

It concerns the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire, which was one of many capital projects floated via public funding around the time of the millennium. I’m told it’s a fantastic resource, and yet it is struggling to keep open without substantial transfers of revenue funding from the Senedd (Welsh Assembly):

Last year, the Assembly Government announced a three-year package comprising GBP550,000 of annual revenue funding between 2012 and 2014, plus the conditional GBP150,000 grant. After meeting performance targets over the last 12 months, the Carmarthenshire attraction is now in line to receive the extra support from the Assembly Government and local authority.

There’s little doubt that the gardens generate important income for the local community by attracting tourists and providing jobs for local people. It’s a largely rural part of the country that needs all the economic stimulus it can get. But this resource is also costing in excess of half a million just to keep the doors open.

Sustainability is something reiterated over and over in the interviews I conducted people involved in the community sector in Belfast last week, that building assets are not enough. Sustainability must be part of the design. It requires flexibility, creativity and ingenuity as well has bringing in a series of competencies that allows value to grow over the longer term.


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