Given Peter Box’s 21 years at the helm of Wakefield Council, his appointment as the new chairman of troubled tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire (WTY) appears to be one motivated by caution.
It is clearly an appointment born out of necessity – council bosses demanded on Monday that the interim chairman be replaced in return for agreeing further funding – given the reliance of the organisation on public money, and consequently the requirement to improve public access to decisions taken as to where tax payers’ money is and isn’t spent.
The startling revelations about the behaviour of disgraced former Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity has threatened the very existence of Welcome to Yorkshire, and with it the livelihoods of the good people still working there.
Spare a thought for those people: they have done so much good for the county so must not live and die by others’ misdemeanours.
We must judge them, now, on the work done and the value it brings. Coun Box, who has led Wakefield Council since 1998, and is chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee, has said he wants to restore public trust and make the organisation as open and transparent as possible. He is well placed. There are few public figures in Yorkshire with the contacts, credentials and experience he has, but he knows he will be scrutinised incessantly by a Yorkshire public now baying for full and proper accountability.
His first job is to show where the £1m of investment bequeathed upon the organisation on Monday is going to be spent. It is simply not good enough for seven figures of public money to disappear under the radar, without the public and paying members of Welcome to Yorkshire being kept in the loop.
Perhaps before that, Coun Box must move to give this role his undivided attention. Nothing less will do.