Gary Verity expense issues would have been revealed under One Yorkshire devolution - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Michael Meadowcroft, Former Liberal MP for Leeds West.

The actions of Gary Verity as Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive are under scrutiny.

I HAVE been following the saga of Sir Gary Verity and Welcome to Yorkshire, and I appreciated your leading article (The Yorkshire Post, June 27) and follow-up pieces (June 29).

You are clearly correct that the affairs of Welcome to Yorkshire require greater transparency. But there is another related but more significant issue – the lack of public accountability.

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Here is a body absorbing some millions of cash, half of it from Yorkshire local authorities, but which is technically “non-governmental”. The obvious reason why there is no public accountability is the lack of an elected county-wide authority.

If the “One Yorkshire” project was a reality, with a majority party and a council leader, plus a powerful opposition, it would no doubt be responsible for Welcome to Yorkshire.

There would be a committee responsible for tourism and related matters with a chair who would have to answer questions in public and in full council meetings. It is hard to believe that, in such circumstances, it would have been possible for the Sir Gary Verity expenses problems to have avoided scrutiny for so long.

My experience many moons ago at a much lower level, as a member of the Leeds City Council internal audit committee, was that a number of potential financial scandals were nipped in the bud as a result of public scrutiny.

The same considerations apply to other public bodies privatised and now bereft of public scrutiny, such as Yorkshire Water and Leeds Bradford Airport, both of which could well come within a democratic One Yorkshire.