Tour de Yorkshire accounts must be published in wake of latest bailout – The Yorkshire Post says

PUBLIC and political opinion will be divided by the decision of six councils to each increase their support of next year’s Tour de Yorkshire by £100,000 apiece if the cycle race does not generate sufficient sponsorship.

This was the Tour de Yorkshire in 2018 as debate continues about the cost of staging such races.

Many will contend that this financial back-up plan is a small price to ensure that the event can return to the region’s roads after a two-year absence due to Covid – and how Welcome to Yorkshire’s headline endorsement of last week’s Ebor Festival at York led to stunning aerial imagery of the county being screened on ITV’s main network.

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Sir Gary Verity is the now disgraced former chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire.

Others, however, will strongly argue that councils are already paying for the privilege to host the race, at a time when the public purse is facing unprecedented pressures, and that this latest expense follows multiple taxpayer-funded bailouts to ensure the tourism body’s survival.

Nevertheless, WTY chief executive James Mason appears confident that the race is viable – even though Leeds, Calderdale and Kirklees Councils have still to decide whether to set aside £100,000 – and his ability to attract sponsors, and minimise the burden on taxpayers, will be critical.

What is also clear, however, is there has been inadequate transparency about the costs of staging the Tour de Torkshire since its inception in 2015 under former WTY supremo Sir Gary Verity before his largesse and mismanagement nearly ruined the organisation.

And given the recent claim of Sir Thomas Ingilby, the owner of Ripley Castle and a former board member of WTY, that the current regime at the tourism agency has “never been less transparent”, it is now imperative that there are regular public updates on the Tour de Yorkshire’s financial position and that its final accounts are published in full down to ever last pound of public money. Nothing less should suffice if the event is to be deserving of the continued confidence of taxpayers.

James Mason succeeded Sir Gary Verity as chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire.

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