The National Botanic Garden of Wales is bidding for fresh Government funding – at a time of the worst public spending cuts since World War Two.
The garden, a £40million Millennium project, has received £550,000 per year over the last three years from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Heritage Department.
At the start of the deal, it paid off the garden’s £1.9million overdraft, saving it thousands in interest.
However, the Welsh Assembly is having its own budget cut by £1.8billion over the next four years, just as the Welsh botanic pitches to secure funds for the next three.
Garden director Dr Rosie Plummer, who joined in March, said: “We have made a robust case for ongoing support. We offer exceptional value for money, independently raising two thirds of our income.
“With just one third from public funding, we get £4 per visitor, compared to Kew’s £12. We’re optimistic, convinced that the garden is a vital, world-class asset.”
The garden almost shut in 2003 due to a funding crisis. Just 90,000 visitors came that year. Visitors peaked at 130,000 by 2007, but have since fallen back to 120,000 per year.
David Hardy, editor of the Welsh botanic’s magazine, said the amount of funding requested was confidential: “The garden is 10 years old. We have exciting plans, but areas do now require refurbishment and maintenance, too.”
The garden will learn if its funding bid has been successful in February.
Welsh deputy first minister, leuan Wyn Jones, said: “The Government sees the garden as a national institution of increasing international repute and a beacon in our aim to bring economic development and national prestige to the nation.”
The garden’s newest feature, a ‘secret wooded valley,’ opened in October.
Should the Welsh botanic receive more funding? Have you been to the garden – and it it worthy of taxpayers’ cash? Leave your comments below