North Yorkshire County Council give Welcome to Yorkshire six more months to repay £500,000 loan

Yorkshire DalesYorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales
Tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire has been given an extra six months to repay a £500,000 taxpayer-funded loan.

North Yorkshire County Council first agreed to lend the cash in September 2019 after financial difficulties meant the troubled tourism agency would have run out of money and been unable to pay staff.

The loan, which was secured against a Welcome to Yorkshire-owned property in York valued at £1m, was originally due to be repaid by November last year before a one-year extension was agreed - and this has now been extended for a further six months until April 2022.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Speaking at an executive meeting today, councillor Gareth Dadd, deputy leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said the loan was being extended for a “technical reason” so the repayment period would span the whole of the financial year.

He said: “It’s not offering any more funding to Welcome to Yorkshire in any shape or form. It’s merely a technical extension to the loan repayment period in order for them to cover their accounting year.

“We do okay out of this loan to Welcome to Yorkshire and that wants emphasising. And I would suggest, given the value of the property, it’s absolutely secure.”

The tourism body, which is funded by businesses and councils, was responsible for attracting the Tour de France to Yorkshire in 2014 and the creation of the annual Tour de Yorkshire cycle race.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It has, however, been troubled with culture, governance and management problems, and last year warned it faced a £1.4million funding shortfall due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time, the body’s chief executive James Mason said that “now more than ever” it needed to work together with councils which agreed to bail-out the cash shortfall.

More recently, new documents published last month revealed Welcome to Yorkshire spent over £430,000 removing and investigating its former chief executive, Sir Gary Verity, who departed in March 2019 following concerns over his expenses claims and the way in which staff were treated.

Two sets of accounts were published, covering a combined period of two years. The first set shows that in the 18 months between March 2018 and September 2019, the company reported a deficit of £71,857.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In the six months to the end of March 2020, a further £127,140 deficit was reported – a result attributed in part to costs connected with making redundancies and recruiting the new chief executive Mr Mason.

Welcome to Yorkshire has been contacted for a comment on the loan extension but did not respond at the time of publication.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.