THE boss of one of Yorkshire’s most popular tourist attractions and a former chairman of Bradford City Football Club has appeared in court charged with assault.
Flamingo Land chief executive Gordon Gibb, 36, was charged with assault by beating after an incident involving a man apparently selling “two-for-one” tickets outside the gates of the North Yorkshire theme park without its permission.
Gibb, who denies the charge, appeared at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court for a pre-trial review yesterday and is due to stand trial at the same court on February 21.
Speaking after the hearing, he said: “I’m happy to co-operate with the investigation and looking forward to the opportunity to defend myself against the allegations.”
Officers from North Yorkshire Police were called to a report of an “ongoing assault” at the site near Malton about 10.30am on Saturday, July 28, and arrived within 15 minutes. Gibb was arrested and later released on bail. He was charged on August 28.
Gibb, of The Lodge, Ebberston, near Pickering, made his first appearance at the court on October 17 and pleaded not guilty.
The alleged victim is a man aged 31 from Manchester and it is thought the incident was reported by an associate of his who may also have been trying to sell the tickets.
As well as running Flamingo Land, Gibb, an amateur boxer, has a number of sporting connections in the region.
He became the youngest chairman of an English football club when he succeeded Geoffrey Richmond at Bradford in August 2002 at the age of 26. He resigned in January 2004, although the club’s Valley Parade ground is owned by the Trustees of Flamingo Land Limited Self-Administered Pension Scheme.
In May, Flamingo Land Theme Park and Resort renewed its sponsorship of Leeds United’s Academy, which began in the 2011/12 season.
Gibb, who was born in Strathaven in Scotland, moved to England at the age of three when his father Robert, a former professional footballer, brought the family to Yorkshire after buying Flamingo Land.
A talented sportsman who represented Scotland Colts at Rugby Union, he had been reading politics, philosophy and economics at Glasgow University when he dropped his studies to rescue the family business following the death of his father in 1995.
Gibb’s father was chairman of Hamilton Academical Football Club in Scotland and died after a car crash on his way to an emergency board meeting.
His son was just 18 when he took over the business and later became chief executive of Flamingo Land Ltd.
Flamingo Land also used to run the Pleasure Island theme Park in Cleethorpes.
Flamingo Land, which opened in 1958, is now the 12th most visited theme park in Europe, attracting about 1.8 million people a year.
Famous for its “wild animals and wilder rides”, it has nearly 60 rides, including two water rides, as well as a gym, leisure centre, spa and golf course. The Mumbo Jumbo rollercoaster, which opened in summer 2009, for a time had the steepest drop of any ride of its kind in the world.