TWO ministers who attended a dinner with the Green Man Festival boss should remove themselves from any decision making over the Welsh Government’s £4.25m purchase of a farm for the Glanusk estate-based music event, says a senior Tory politician.
Andrew RT Davies, Conservative Senedd leader, has called on Climate change minister Julie James, whose department is responsible for planning, and education minister Jeremy Miles to ‘recuse’ themselves in the wake of revelations that they were at an informal dinner in May with lobbyist Cathy Owens and her client, Green Man Festival boss Fiona Stewart.
Because the event was ‘informal’, the ministerial duo were not obliged to declare their attendance, which has since been revealed in the media.
And in the wake of the Government’s admission that it had bought Gilestone Farm near Talybont for the festival to secure its long-term future, pending the approval of a business plan, Mr Davies has now told First Minister Mark Drakeford they should take no further part in the process.
In a letter to the First Minister, he said: “I have several concerns, including the compromising position the Minister responsible for Planning has put herself in, given the alternative uses that have been explored for Gilestone Farm which would be subject to planning permission.
“Additionally, the Education Minister’s role in approving funding requests for projects of an educational nature, the relationship between Green Man and Cardiff University, and the stated aim to develop educational usage on the farm.”
“In light of the dinner party that has taken place, and the position the Ministers have put themselves in”, he wanted “assurances” from Mr Drakeford that they will “now recuse themselves from any decisions in their portfolio areas that relate to Gilestone Farm”.
He has also asked him to set out the terms of reference of an inquiry permanent secretary Andrew Goodall has been asked to undertake into the attendance of the ministers at the dinner party at the home of Owens, a former special adviser to Welsh Labour ministers.
“It is vital that the Permanent Secretary’s inquiry is swift, thorough, and deals with these matters, as well as the perception of favourable access to Ministers via lobbying consultancy Deryn Consulting and Cathy Owens,” he added.
Green Man takes place on the Glanusk Estate near Crickhowell next week from Thursday to Sunday, August 18-21, headlined by Kraftwerk, Beach House and Metronomy.