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Councillors reported to Ombudsman in Green Man Festival farm purchase row

02 May 2024 4 minute read
Green Man Festival. Photo by reds on tour is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Martin Shipton

Three community councillors involved in a bitter village dispute over a farm bought by the Welsh Government for the Green Man Festival have been reported to the Ombudsman, we have been told.

Nina Krauzewicz, Craig Burdon and John Jones are members of Talybont on Usk Community Council. They opposed then Economy Minister Vaughan Gething’s decision to spend £4.25m on buying Gilestone Farm on the village outskirts for activities linked to Green Man, a music festival held annually about seven miles away at the Glan Usk estate near Crickhowell.

The festival has been held there since 2003, attracting 25,000 visitors annually and generating more than £10m a year for the region’s economy.

While there were no plans to move the festival from its current location, Green Man owner Fiona Stewart devised a £23m plan to develop ancillary businesses including regenerative farming, glamping, small events and a bakery, brewery and baking school. The Welsh Government bought Gilestone Farm with the intention of leasing it to Green Man where the new activities would be based.

But local opponents as well as opposition politicians at the Senedd questioned Mr Gething’s judgement in buying the farm with public money before a detailed business plan had been submitted. The issue created bitter divisions in the local community, with allegations of bullying and intimidation.

Farming

The Welsh Government defended its decision to buy the farm, stating that it would enable sustainable development work to take place as well as farming activities and a “range of other things that would allow them to keep the operation in Wales.”

Subsequently, however, the Welsh Government was left with egg on its face when the project was scrapped after it was established that rare nesting birds had returned to the immediate area of Gilestone Farm for the first time in hundreds of years.

It meant that some of the activities planned by Green Man would no longer be able to go ahead because they would entail large numbers of people disturbing the protected ospreys. It is understood that Green Man now takes the view that its project cannot go ahead at the farm.

Nevertheless, ill-feeling remains in Talybont and complaints have, we understand, been made about the three community councillors. The complaints concern allegations that they had conflicts of interest and, in the case of Cllr Burdon, that he brought the council into disrepute.

In the case of Cllr Krauzewicz, the allegation is that she was not only a vocal critic of the Gilestone project, but that she financially contributed to a campaign against it.

She donated £50 to the campaign, commenting on the fundraising site justgiving.com: “The Welsh Government have rightly declared a nature and biodiversity emergency. The Gilestone Farm project will drive off rare and protected species. We need to know how they will address this conflict now.”

It is therefore argued that she had prejudicial interests and shouldn’t have taken part in discussions on the matter at community council meetings.

Cllr Burdon is said to have wrongly asserted that he was acting in an official capacity when verifying a survey that claimed a large majority of local residents was against the Gilestone project.

The council issued a statement that said: “The community council wants it made clear that the community council has no involvement with the [anti-Gilestone project] Usk Valley Conservation Group, and that no community councillor is a member of UVCG.

“Councillor Craig Burdon’s role in verifying the poll was carried out in a personal capacity as a member of the public. He did not carry out the verification as a community councillor. At no time did the community council provide him with the authority to undertake this role on its behalf.”

Cllr Jones, who now chairs the community council, was another critic of the project before becoming a councillor. He and his business partner claimed it would affect their local holiday cottage business, as no one would want to go there when events were being held due to the noise.

He was also very critical of the scheme on Facebook prior to becoming a councillor, incorrectly claiming that the Green Man festival would be moving to Gilestone Farm.

Complainants and those complained about are warned by the Ombudsman not to comment while a case is under consideration.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
20 days ago

I think, (after consulting ‘Jac’), this whole business needs putting under the microscope !

Rachel
Rachel
18 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Think you’ll be needing a foil hat next….

Bryn
Bryn
20 days ago

Yawn, yawn, yawn.

Dafydd
Dafydd
20 days ago

Another example of G thing acting inappropriately?

hdavies15
hdavies15
19 days ago
Reply to  Dafydd

In that case I seem to recall that other ministers were the main supporters of the plan but obviously they had to get it past him to secure funds. Maybe we should be looking beyond V.G for others who have a cavalier attitude towards public funds.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
19 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Exactly, thank you hd, this has been spun onto Gething’s shoulders alone, they think we have short memories…

What a bucketfull of deceitful Desolation Bay Crabs…

Cerys
Cerys
20 days ago

I want my kids to live in the area that they were born in, they dont want to work in a hotel or look after old people they want jobs that are worth staying for. Greenman would have given them. Entitled retired people from over the border destroying our childrens future

Gaynor
Gaynor
19 days ago
Reply to  Cerys

Hardly a full time employer is it? Out of interest how many full time employees does GM currently have ? And the festival beloved by Cardiff Bay hipsters will still get a huge grant off us taxpayers scraping by on min wage and continue in Glanusk

Cerys
Cerys
19 days ago
Reply to  Gaynor

I think the farm would’ve brought many jobs to the area both directly and indirectly – i’ve heard there were plans for a bakery and a brewery on site – lots of jobs to be made there. not sure how many full time employees but it gives a huge boost locally when the festival is happening – would’ve loved to see the impact all year round. As for huge grants do you have the data for this i’d be interested

Gaynor
Gaynor
19 days ago
Reply to  Cerys

A bakery and brewery will not emply more than half a dozen unless highly mechanided and on an industrial scale. 4.5 million of taxpayers money was used to purchase it, with no business plan

Jenni Evans
Jenni Evans
20 days ago

About time we have been living under their bullying manipulative nastiness for years. At last they are being made accountable

Michael Agnes
Michael Agnes
20 days ago

Myself and many other locals supported the projects by Green Man, but didn’t want to say anything because of the Usk Valley bullies. They took away our democratic rights and we want them back.

Gaynor
Gaynor
19 days ago

So 3 community councillors refereed to Ombudsman. But Welsh Gvt and VG as finance minister at the time are not held accountable for their dodgy dealings and dodgy maths

Rob
Rob
19 days ago

Pob lwc i’r gweilch. Good luck to the ospreys. I can’t believe the incompetence, vanity and lack of judgement displayed by VG and Welsh labour in general. He’ll no doubt end up with a knighthood or peerage one day regardless. We are screwed unless we get rid of this shower of incompetent cronies and soon!

Dwynwen
Dwynwen
18 days ago

The whole community council needs a thorough investigation. First Anita Cartwright leaves due to bullying, now completely bias NIMYism has taken over.

Im sorry to say, the area cannot remain as it is. The young have no jobs, can’t afford housing so that a few wealthy retirees sit in their ivory towers!!

Sara
Sara
18 days ago

Landowners are being taken care of by the Tories but there are no new ideas for regneration in this part of wales, no new ideas means no new jobs which means all the young people will leave – I dread to think what rural Wales will look like in five years with an ageing population – very sorry that this project isn’t happening

Cudleydudley
Cudleydudley
18 days ago

Ha ha ha ha….their all jealous ! Knowing the amount of revenue these festies bring in !!!

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