Tafwyl festival saved: Labour accused of cherry picking
Ministers have been accused of "cherry picking" worthy causes after they stepped in to secure the future of a Welsh language festival.
The Tafwyl event was under threat after Cardiff council proposed to cut its grant.
But less than a week after the cut was proposed, the Welsh government says it will provide the festival with £20,000 as it is "a unique case".
Opponents said the move by the Labour government set a "dangerous precedent".
The week-long event at Cardiff Castle, which drew 8,000 visitors last year, received a grant of £20,000 from Cardiff council, but the Labour-run authority planned to stop the funding as part of spending cuts across the capital.
In other cuts, a swimming pool could close, school music subsidies stopped, library hours cut and even an island sold under plans to save £22m in the next financial year and £110m over five years.
The cuts were outlined by the council last week.
However, on Wednesday Education Minister Leighton Andrews committed £20,000 for Tafwyl - the same amount that it was set to lose from the council.
Mr Andrews said: "Following concerns that Cardiff council's budget proposals included plans to cut funding to Tafwyl I have committed £20,000 of grant funding for the festival. This is a unique case.
"This important cultural festival has expanded year on year since it was launched in 2006 and is invaluable in promoting the Welsh language. It has the potential to become a national event in our capital city."
He added: "I recognise that Cardiff's budget negotiations are still ongoing. However, I have acted now to ensure there is no prolonged period of uncertainty for the festival organisers, or for those people from outside the capital who are planning to travel to Tafwyl."
He said he took the decision after discussions with Huw Thomas, Cardiff council's cabinet member for culture.
The council would provide support in kind through allowing the grounds of Cardiff castle to be used and through staff time, he added.
Sian Lewis, chief executive of festival organisers Menter Caerdydd, said: "As with any other art and cultural festival, the continuance of Tafwyl depends on attaining grants from many sources.
"Following last week's news of a 100% cut in funding for Tafwyl from Cardiff council, we are thankful for today's announcement that the minister, Leighton Andrews, has stepped in and offered the £20,000 which will now secure the future of the festival in its present format."
Conservative assembly group leader Andrew RT Davies : "I am concerned that this intervention sets a dangerous precedent, with the minister intervening on behalf of the Welsh government to cherry pick worthy causes to save."
Liberal Democrat AM Aled Roberts, his party's Welsh language spokesman, said: "The Welsh Labour government has set a dangerous precedent today.
"Of course, I am pleased that Tafwyl festival is to receive funding, it is an important event, but it doesn't look good when a Labour government swoops in and saves a Labour council when it makes unpopular decisions."
Cardiff councillor Huw Thomas said it was an important festival that the city wanted to see continuing, and thanked the Welsh government.
"By working closely with our partners I'm delighted that funding has now been found to safeguard this popular cultural festival which promotes and advances the Welsh language which we all love."