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Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Not so rosy in the garden

So the National Botanic Gardens in Llanarthne, near Carmarthen are in trouble. It seems that they need £300,000 from the Welsh Assembly in revenue support or they will close. The First Minister has said no to this and the Assembly has already put one and a quarter of a million pounds into this attraction to keep it afloat. Is it to be a bottomless pit or can we get it into a solvent situation by pledging a small annual grant? I recall when this first opened using Millennium Commission funding. The pledge then was that this will be one dome that does not cost the public purse huge sums of cash. Alas, like the bigger, but less attractive dome in Greenwich, the financial projections and forecasts have turned out to have been based on sand. We cannot let it go bust, nor can we afford to lose the jobs and the prestige it brings to Carmarthenshire. Personally, I wouldn't pay to go there. After all it is just plants and I am not a gardening person. But we do need to market it better and we do need to learn from the successes of the Eden Project in Cornwall. Instead of pronouncing a Gaullist "non", perhaps Rhodri Morgan and his Government should be looking at finding a way forward along those lines and ensure that this dome at least will survive for the foreseeable future.

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