One week left for National Botanic Garden of Wales

Last attempt to save garden rests on assembly's decision

The fate of the National Botanic Garden of Wales is likely to be settled within a week — and the attitude of the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff will be crucial. Next Wednesday will provide the final opportunity before the Christmas break for ministers to present a formal statement announcing the cash infusion that is seen as essential if the £43 million Millennium project is to survive. A representative for the garden near Carmarthen said: “It looks likely that we will be able to put a partnership together with the private sector. But the organisations we are talking to are saying ‘we will give our private money, but we want to be assured that the assembly is underwriting the garden, and that it will not close’.” Culture minister Alun Pugh said the assembly “is speaking to the garden. Nobody wants it to close, but there is no question of an open-ended subsidy.” Senior officials refuse to give any hint of whether or not a favourable statement will be forthcoming next week. But it is understood that one of the conditions of financial help is that the trustees voluntarily reconstitute themselves and attract some fresh blood. The garden says it could be sustained with an assembly annual grant of £500,000 on attendance figures of 120,000 — visitor numbers should be 135,000 this year.

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