From: Michael Meadowcroft, Hon Alderman, City of Leeds, Waterloo Lane, Leeds.
GARY Verity’s remarkable record in successfully promoting Yorkshire means that his words deserve to be heeded.
When he writes “It’s time to pull together to help push tourism as a major economic driver” (The Yorkshire Post, December 27), one expects to see results.
Unfortunately, in one important aspect, tourism is going backwards not forwards – the superbly placed and welcoming Leeds Visitors’ Centre at Leeds railway station is about to close.
It is a sad history.
Publicly-owned Network Rail has hiked the rent and the Leeds City Council, faced with the need to make budget cuts, says it cannot afford the £50,000 in annual subsidy.
After the council, had made this decision I wrote to Gary Verity and he referred me back to the city council which had made the negative decision!
Not to be defeated, I then wrote to Leeds Conservative MP Stuart Andrew who had spoken in Parliament on the kindred issue of the airport and was reported in The Yorkshire Post on October 17.
Seven weeks later, I received a letter on behalf of Mr Andrew saying that as I was not his constituent he could not raise the matter!
I replied immediately that this was a Leeds city matter and not a constituency issue, whereupon I was told that this was not a priority.
So, by going to a Leeds Conservative MP, Stuart Andrew, and trying to make it a cross-party issue, and also approaching Gary Verity, I lost some two crucial months, when representations could have been to the landlord, the nationalised Network Rail.
This centre is always busy, particularly when there are events on at the Arena and elsewhere in the city.
On the day of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France last July, some 4,500 visitors came through its doors.
The council proposes to transfer it to a site underneath the public library on The Headrow, which no-one coming into the station will ever bother to find.
Leeds will lose out on repeat visits from those who currently experience the warm welcome that the centre’s excellent staff provide.
Whilst it is still – just – open all is not lost. Cannot Gary Verity and our MPs combine to ensure its rescue?