The Welsh Assembly is to step in to save the closure-threatened Middleton.
But in exchange, culture minister Alun Pugh will win some of the “management changes” — probably among the trustees — he has been wanting all along.
It became clear the cloud over the £43 million project near Carmarthen was about to lift when the bankers, plus accountants PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC), gave permission for the project to trade beyond the initial St David’s Day closure date, and the extra fortnight has enabled talks with the assembly in Cardiff to reopen.
Pugh had told Horticulture Week he was considering an updated business plan from PwC. He said the previous version demanded an ongoing revenue subsidy from the assembly, which he was not prepared to concede.
The minister was also under pressure from Millennium Commission director Mike O’Connor — who travelled to Cardiff for talks — to prevent the garden going under.
An individual close to the Cardiff cabinet said the rescue was near because of the number of organisations that had come together to bridge the funding gap. The assembly will refuse to state how much financial help it is willing to give until the business plan is complete and the cash gap is at its smallest.
Pugh said in a statement: “There has been a distinctly more realistic approach taken by all involved in talks about the garden in recent weeks. Our firm stance about no open-ended revenue subsidy has helped to concentrate minds around the table by focusing on the real problems ahead.
“I am hopeful now that a deal can be reached.”
L The Landscape Institute Wales has recognised Middleton as the most influential Welsh landscape scheme of the past 75 years.
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