Welsh Tory leader claims Gilestone Farm purchase is ‘clouded in darkness’

Wednesday 29th June 2022 10:34 am
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Andrew RT Davies inset over an aerial view of the farm
Andrew RT Davies inset over an aerial view of the farm (The Senedd and Google Maps )

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Welsh Conservative leader Andrew R T Davies has called for more clarity over the purchase of Gilestone Farm in Talybont on Usk by the Welsh Government for use by the Green Man Festival.

Mr Davies, described the process as ‘shrouded in darkness’ and questioned why the Welsh Government was able to use its status as a ‘crown body; to avoid paying almost a quarter of a million pounds in Land Transaction Tax.

According to Mr Davies, the Welsh Government’s ‘crown body’ status means they are not liable to pay Land Transaction Tax which, according to their LTT calculator, would have saved them £232,750.

He also questioned why Labour ministers paid £4,250,000 for the site in March 2022, when a prospectus for the sale of the farm prepared by McCartneys less than two years earlier valued the farm at just £3,250,000.

In a statement about the controversial purchase Mr Davies’ office also claimed that Green Man’s MD Fiona Stewart is set to live on the farm, a great deal of which is designated as a flood plane by NRW

Speaking yesterday (Tuesday) Mr Davies said: “It is an issue of fairness, that Labour ministers are able to use their significant competitive advantage to purchase land for Green Man, without having to pay LTT.

“That’s an extra quarter of a million pounds that private businesses have to source, and Labour ministers don’t.

“This story has been shrouded in darkness, and the Economy Minister has stonewalled many of my written questions on the issue.

“Labour ministers didn’t expect a business plan from Green Man prior to purchase, they won’t say whether it was Welsh Government who approached Green Man, and no Welsh Minister has ever even visited the site in an official capacity.

“Another question that needs to be asked is why Welsh Government paid £4.25million for a farm that was valued at £3.25million less than two years earlier.

“More clarity is required from Labour ministers as to where this magic million pounds has come from.”

So far the Green Man Festival has declined to comment on the news with an update is expected further down the line from the organisers.

The festival, owned and run by Fiona Stewart, confirmed that it will not be leaving its current site of nearly 20 years in Crickhowell.

Based at the Glanusk Estate - where it will be staying - it employs 200 people on a full-time basis, with another 5,000 casual workers or volunteers at the festival.

It is understood that under the new arrangement Gilestone Farm, in Talybont-on-Usk, will employ 174 people and focus on sustainable farming, local food and climate change.

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