Welcome to Yorkshire funding decisions must not be made ‘behind closed doors’

A LEADING tourism campaigner has called for a “more open conversation” about Welcome to Yorkshire’s future role and remit before more public funds are committed to the organisation.

Susan Briggs is director of The Tourism Network.

Susan Briggs, director of The Tourism Network, is also calling on local councils to invite WTY to tender for work – and provide details on how taxpayers’ money will be spent – so there is less emphasis on cycling events in future.

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Though two independent inquiries into the tenureship of WTY’s former chief executive Sir Gary Verity have been completed, albeit without his formal assistance, they have still to be published. Officials had originally intended to complete the whole process by June 30.

Former Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity with top top cyclist Mark Cavendish, a multiple Stage winner of the Tour de France.

Welcome to Yorkshire continues to maintain that the contents will not be released in full. However Ms Briggs, who lives in Masham, says the reports must be a watershed moment for grassroots tourism if past mistakes are to be avoided in the future.

“Once the investigations are complete, WTY will be able to move forward,” she told The Yorkshire Post. “Our next job should be to decide on future priorities and how any public money should be spent. I say ‘our’ because this isn’t something for just WTY to determine. Tourism affects us all, whether as business-owners, workers or residents where tourists visit.

(https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/politics/welcome-to-yorkshire-will-not-publish-promises-made-to-unlock-320-000-of-taxpayers-money-1-9848021|Welcome to Yorkshire will NOT publish promises made to unlock £320,000 of taxpayers’ money|Read here}

“WTY is now starting to ask councils what aspects of their area they should promote. Before more payments are committed to WTY, we all need to be sure how they will spend budgets, how they will be more accountable and to see proper campaign evaluations.

“When spending more than £10,000 most public bodies go to tender. Councils don’t do this when funding WTY. Making decisions behind closed doors is not a good way forward.”

She added: “It’s time for a bigger, more open conversation about what we actually want WTY to do – and how – before committing more taxpayers’ money.”