The Welsh Government, a provincial executive in the United Kingdom, has used European Union Law to shutdown a community arts website that received funding from it through the Arts Council for Wales, which is an agency in Wales used to distribute funding to community organisations.
The residents of the United Kingdom recently voted for the country to give up its membership of the European Union, and members of the United Kingdom’s national parliament in Westminster voted in the last week for the UK Government to start negotiations on departure from the trading block of 28 nations. This has not stopped the Welsh Government from using its laws to force overseas web hosts to shutdown websites for community groups based in Wales.
On behalf of the Welsh Government, Geldards LLP of Cardiff, issued a notice on Gridfury LLC, who host the website, emotivate.org.uk, which is the website for a community project called The Emotivate Project in Wales. The Emotivate Project runs community arts projects connected with the communities that form part of the historical locality of Taf Ely, including the communities of Llantrisant, Pontypridd, Llantwit Fardre, Taffs Well and Nantgarw.
Gareth Morgan is the Brand Manager for the Office of the First Minister and the Cabinet at the Welsh Government. “We have been unable to locate any record of Welsh Government funding,” he said. “I also note that it states on the website that the Welsh Government is both a current and past sponsor.“
In 2009 the Emotivate Project received a grant for the creation and hosting of its website from the Arts Council for Wales, which passed on the funding on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, which was the name for the legislative committee that existed at the time. In 2016, the Emotivate Project received support from Tonyrefail Communities First and The Crocels Press Limited, which both supply services funded by Welsh Government monies.
The Emotivate Project was highly commended in the Love Where You Live Awards in 2014 in the Most Innovative Environmental Project category for its 2009 Glamorgan Summer School and is likely to be nominated for the Best Environmental Partnership Initiative in the 2017 Awards for its 2016 Glamorgan Summer School.
Councillor Jonathan Bishop, who holds a LLM law degree in European Union Law project manages the initiative. “It is quite odd that the Welsh Government sees it as an effective use of taxpayers money to take down our community website when there are so many competing priorities,” he said. “It is even more remarkable that they should choose to use European Union law to do it when the vast majority of people in Wales have said that they no longer want to be a member of the EU.”
Huw Morris is the director of Skills, Higher Education and Lifelong Learning at the Welsh Government. “Officials have every right to query Welsh Government to ascertain if we support a particular venture should our logo appear on its website,” he said.