Rescue of the closure-threatened National Botanic Garden of Wales should not be left entirely to the private sector, according to a prominent Welsh politician.
Conservative leader Nicholas Bourne at the National Assembly for Wales has highlighted fears that the much-praised £43 million Millennium project at Middleton, near Carmarthen, risks being dumbed down. He said: “I would not like Middleton to become just a tourist attraction. As with the gardens in Kew and Edinburgh, it is an important scientific institution.”
Preliminary talks for funding have opened with several potential investors — two names have been published: the Oakwood theme park in Pembrokeshire, and Martin Morgan, owner of a new five-star hotel in Swansea.
During the assembly’s debate on the draft budget for next year, Bourne’s attempt to win a “fairly miserly” £600,000 annual assembly grant was ignored by finance minister Sue Essex. Essex said: “I made no reply because the issue is still in the hands of the trustees.”
Bourne fears a major change to the nature of the garden, which lies in a wide unspoiled valley, if funding is all left to private enterprise. He said the assembly should have a couple of seats on the trust to safeguard educational, cultural and scientific aspects; he was seeking a grant worth only a 10th of that given to the Edinburgh garden.
General manager Rhodri Griffiths said: “The Millennium Commission was very specific its money was for a botanic garden.”
Have you registered with us yet?
Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins
Sign up now