Welcome to Yorkshire chairman to quit as fallout from Gary Verity scandal continues

Ron McMillan is expected to resign as chairman of Welcome to Yorkshire.
Ron McMillan is expected to resign as chairman of Welcome to Yorkshire.
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Welcome to Yorkshire’s chairman is due to resign from the tourism agency tomorrow as the fall out from ex-chief executive Sir Gary Verity’s scandal-hit departure continues, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

It is understood Ron McMillan, a former senior partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, is expected to tender his resignation at a board meeting tomorrow afternoon, when more information is also expected to be revealed about the details of two independent investigations into Sir Gary’s expense claims and conduct towards staff.

Mr McMillan, who has been at WTY since 2015 after previously running PWC’s Leeds office, has come under increasing pressure for his handling of the circumstances of Sir Gary’s departure after the ex-chief executive resigned on health grounds on March 22. Sir Gary is reported to have paid back about £40,000 after making “errors of judgement” with expense claims.

Calls for the chairman’s resignation had been made by Sheffield peer Lord Scriven and last week a group of council leaders who have provided millions in funding to WTY through the Leeds City Region business rates pool wrote an open letter to Mr McMillan.

It expressed unhappiness with the “lack of pace” in setting up the reviews and demanded “rapid changes in governance” to continuing their long-term funding of the tourism agency.

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box said last night that his local authority would not agree to future funding for the Leeds-based tourism agency being provided by the business rates pool until Mr McMillan “steps aside”.

It was set to become the third Yorkshire council in recent weeks to withhold funding from WTY after Sheffield and Hull. But The Yorkshire Post understands that Mr McMillan’s decision to resign had been made prior to Coun Box’s comments.

Coun Box said: “I want to make it very clear that Ron McMillan does not have Wakefield’s support in taking forward the new leadership culture which is clearly needed at Welcome to Yorkshire. I firmly believe that any new leadership needs to start with change at the top.

“The lack of urgency surrounding the independent review and the fact that there is still no action plan in place to move the organisation towards strengthened transparency and accountability is not only frustrating but gives cause for significant concern.”

Mr McMillan and Welcome to Yorkshire declined to comment.

New leadership culture pledged

Ron McMillan said last week that “a new leadership culture with greater transparency, accountability and governance” was urgently needed at Welcome to Yorkshire.

The organisation is a private company but receives about half of its annual £4m income from the public sector. The Leeds City Region business rates pool alone has provided £2.7m in the past three years.

His comments followed calls being made for the organisation to make its board meetings public and publish details of spending of over £250 in the same way that is required of councils in the wake of Sir Gary Verity’s departure.