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Welcome to Yorkshire Financial Reports Released

Welcome to Yorkshire Financial Reports Released

Published by Matthew Pells at 5:30pm 15th October 2019. (Updated at 5:45pm 15th October 2019)

"It’s clear to me, from reading both reports that governance and strategic oversight of the operations of WTY have been largely absent."

Those are the words of the new chair of Welcome to Yorkshire as he releases reports showing just how dire the organisation's finances had become.

Cllr Peter Box took over as chair of the organisation earlier this month following a turbulant six months for the organisation with the departure of it's former Chief Executive, Sir Gary Verity and former chair Ron McMillan.

Mr Box has released two redacted reports which show how the organisation nearly ran out of cash in September and has needed additional financial support to stay afloat including a £500k loan facility with North Yorkshire County Council.

Last week council leaders from across Yorkshire agreed to release £1m of public money to the organisation with a number of conditions attached.

In a statement released alongside the reports Mr Box said:

"I promised when I became Chair, that the Board and I would operate in an open and transparent manner. I am fulfilling that commitment by today releasing, in full, two reports about Welcome to Yorkshire (WTY).

One report is authored by the former WTY chair, to the political leaders in West and North Yorkshire, and outlined funding options for the organisation. The second independent report by a Local Government advisor and an independent finance specialist was commissioned by the chief executive of Kirklees Council, on behalf of local authorities in the North and West Yorkshire Business Rate Pool, to review the financial position of WTY in order to help inform future funding decisions. 

It’s clear to me, from reading both reports that governance and strategic oversight of the operations of WTY have been largely absent. Financial planning was not robust enough which led to a culture of spend now, worry about it later. 

These reports provided leaders across the region with the evidence that led to the decision to invest £1 million of public money dependent upon certain condition being met. Political leaders across the region are clear that continued investment of public funds is dependent on significant change in accountability, transparency and governance of public resources.

The options before us were stark, including the managed closure of WTY. That would have been bad for the region and, obviously bad for the hard-working frontline staff who I have the greatest admiration for. This region needs a dynamic, creative and accountable strategic destination marketing organisation, but it must be one that upholds the same values and governance enshrined in the principles of spending public funds. 

You cannot run any organisation – public or private – based on the ‘cult of personality’. Stronger governance, financial planning and a long term, strategic plan are my priorities, along with the recruitment of new Board members and a chief executive. Since taking up my role, I’ve been heartened by the messages of support, including from people who are interested in joining the Board.

I believe we can succeed in rejuvenating Welcome to Yorkshire and capitalise on our greatest assets: the people of Yorkshire, our stunning countryside and coastlines, our towns, cities, dales and valleys.

A vibrant county as diversely rich and creative as ours deserves an organisation that holds the confidence and trust of its Board, staff, customers and stakeholders close to its heart.”

The reports detail how the organisation spent £250k on it's activities at the Chelsea Flower Show despite only having budgeted for £80k of expenditure and how the cost of independant investigations into Welcome to Yorkshire have cost it £475k.

The redacted reports are here...

191015 WtY BRP Report Redacted Appendix 2 (pdf)

191015 WtY BRP Report Redacted Appendix 1 (pdf)

Comments

There are 4 comments on this page.

Fileyman, on 15th October 2019 6:17pm
So not only do we give them a £500k loan we then give them £1m.

Marvelous when NYCC are cutting services everywhere.
zara, on 16th October 2019 7:49am
what a ridiculous waste of taxpayers money. We have far more calls on what little cash there is left after councillors both borough and county have finished wasting it on their pet projects without throwing it away on organisations like this and DBID. Then to find out that basically what was originally funded was either squandered or used in not legitimate ways and then they threw more money it really begs the question of the stupidity of our councillors. Never mind the top two from the organisation going we should be getting the resignations from the councillors who authorized the extra money
Fileyman, on 16th October 2019 7:00pm
And we NYCC on these pages saying they are facing armagedon.

The council are a total waste of space.
JohnfromScarborough, on 17th October 2019 7:19pm
Spending quarter of a million at the Chelsea Flower Show. I think we should be told how much was actually on the display and how much on hotels and refreshments and other jollies.

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