Troubled Welcome to Yorkshire to reveal findings of governance review, says chair Peter Box

Details of how crisis-hit Welcome to Yorkshire’s governance system is to be overhauled will be set out at the tourism agency’s AGM next month, the organisation has said.

In a message to members, chairman Peter Box, who is standing down after the AGM on November 1, said the governance review is close to completion having initially been delayed by the pandemic.

Mr Box said: "The review will be completed and will be an agenda item at the AGM."

The governance review follows an independent inquiry ordered in the wake of Sir Gary Verity’s departure as chief executive in March 2019 finding that behavioural concerns were not always addressed, and that the organisation’s culture was not always open or focused on employee wellbeing, development or engagement.

Welcome to Yorkshire chairman Peter Box. Picture: James Hardisty

The inquiry by legal firm Clarion also said: “We received consistent feedback that WTY must ensure that there is transparency around Board governance and decision-making, including the sharing of information and requirement for debate.”

But the review comes in the midst of an internal crisis surrounding governance matters. It was announced last month that chief executive James Mason is to leave the organisation on October 22 in the midst of unspecified allegations about his conduct, details of which Welcome to Yorkshire has refused to reveal.

But within days of the announcement, four of the organisation’s eight board members had resigned. One of them, Piece Hall boss Nicky Chance-Thompson, said in a leaked resignation letter that she felt “very uncomfortable” about the handling of allegations against Mr Mason, with her central area of concern being that “governance committee findings on the matter appear to have been dismissed, without the board having the opportunity to properly consider them”.

This has been followed by Mr Box announcing he will be standing down as chair at the AGM, while another board member is also leaving due to a prior arrangement at the same meeting.

It will leave Welcome to Yorkshire with just two board members – North Yorkshire County Council chairman Carl Les and Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones.

A board meeting on the organisation’s future is taking place next Thursday.

'Business as usual' claim from chairman

Peter Box has claimed it is “business as usual” at Welcome to Yorkshire despite the recent series of departures.

He told members: “It’s ‘business as usual’ and the Welcome to Yorkshire team are enthusiastically committed to working on current projects, with many exciting initiatives in the pipeline.”

Mr Box said: “I will remain as Chair until the AGM, to complete the governance review.”

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