Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Jobs losses confirmed at major Welsh tourist attraction

by Staff

Several jobs are being cut at a major tourist attraction in Wales, it has been confirmed. The National Botanic Garden of Wales, in Carmarthenshire, has told staff it needs to make savings of more than £360,000 if it wants to stay open.

The garden currently employs more than 80 staff but at least 11 full-time roles are to be made redundant as bosses work through a voluntary and compulsory redundancy process which it hopes will be completed in February and approved by the board of trustees by the end of the month or the beginning of March. You can keep up to date with the latest Carmarthenshire news by signing up to the local newsletter here.

In correspondence sent to staff the garden has said its priority actions are “cutting expenditure”, “restructuring the organisation to create budget and salary savings”, “driving increased visits and other brand aligned commercial activities”, and “fundraising”. Further details reveal that a decrease in Welsh Government grant funding for 2024-25 means that in total the garden has set itself a “savings target” of £362,000.

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Bosses have told staff in writing: “While this is a challenging time, NBGW (the National Botanic Garden of Wales) is a vital and important institution, which is here for the people of Wales for the generations to come. The critical decisions that we are making will make a difference in the long term for this institution and our community. This relies on all of us working together and supporting each other, and remembering to seek assistance whenever it’s needed.”

Staff have also been told: “We need to prepare NBGW for a challenging budget year in 2024. The national minimum wage rises in recent years and the cost of living crisis are having a significant impact on NBGW. Changes are required to the way we operate due to the resources we currently have available to run our operations. We will make the necessary changes to assist us to turn the business around and increase the organisation’s resilience to take it forward.” Want fewer ads? Download WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android.

The garden was first opened by King Charles, then Prince of Wales, in 2000 and in almost a quarter of a century has become a hugely popular attraction, winning awards and welcoming millions of visitors. About half of the £43m cost of building the garden came from the Millennium Commission with the rest coming from the European Regional Development Fund, the Welsh Development Agency, the Wales Tourist Board, and other bodies and charities.

Set in more than 550 acres of beautiful Carmarthenshire countryside just off the A48 between the villages of Porthyrhyd and Llanarthne the attraction boasts landscaped grounds, walled gardens, woodlands, lakes, the world’s largest single-span glasshouse, and much more. It has also hosted outdoor cinema events and been a filming location for popular television programmes such as Antiques Roadshow, Bargain Hunt, and Doctor Who as well as welcoming some of the UK’s top cyclists as a finishing point for a stage of the Tour of Britain event.

In recent years a £7m project at the garden won a major international prize and over the past decade visitor numbers increased and the attraction seemed to be going from strength to strength after it was almost forced to close in 2004 before being saved thanks for financial help from the Welsh Government, the Millennium Commission, and Carmarthenshire council. The garden was one of three millennium projects in Wales when it first opened in 2000 and has been described by Visit Wales as “a place of international significance dedicated to conservation, horticulture, science, education, leisure and the arts; as a landmark millennium project, the Garden of Wales links the history of the last millennium with the present”.

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