Troubled tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire is expected to miss out on a £200,000 contract to deliver promotional work for the North York Moors because of concerns about its finances, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.
The North York Moors National Park Authority has said it is “unlikely” to agree a deal with Welcome to Yorkshire for it to continue its involvement in a marketing campaign which has been running since 2017 as the fallout to the expenses scandal involving ex-chief executive Sir Gary Verity continues.
The 10-year promotional campaign is worth an overall £2m, with £200,000 being spent each year. It is funded by money from Sirius Minerals, which is constructing a giant potash mine near Whitby, under what is known as a Section 106 agreement in which developers make financial contributions towards communities affected by their projects.
Construction on the site started in 2017 and had been originally been scheduled to last until 2021, but has been beset by recent doubts over the funding of the project. The S106 agreement also involved five years of further post-construction payments as part of attempts “to mitigate the negative effects of the mine construction phase on tourism in the National Park”.
To date, the funding has been used to deliver an ‘Alive With Adventure’ marketing campaign for the area, involving cinema, radio, print and digital adverts.
Welcome to Yorkshire had been provided with £400,000 to deliver the campaign in 2017 and 2018 but the continuation of that funding is now in doubt.
A spokesman for the National Park Authority said: “We have been asking for up-to-date information on the WTY cash flow position for some time to reassure us that the S106 work was not at risk. However, not having received this we have not yet transferred the funds.
“It remains unlikely in the light of the new information released and the short time left to deliver the work that the NPA will be able to conclude a service level agreement to undertake the tourism element in 2019/20.”
The spokesman added that the authority is able to deliver the campaign itself under the terms of the S106 agreement and “is in a position to act quickly if necessary”.
It comes after Welcome to Yorkshire, which is a privately-run company but receives millions in public funds, published reports this week which revealed the extent of its financial problems have brought it close to collapse in recent months.
One of the reports listed the North York Moors marketing campaign as one of three “essential” income sources for Welcome to Yorkshire to remain a going concern.
The other two listed sources - a £500,000 loan from North Yorkshire County Council and an additional £1m from a business rates pool administered by council leaders from West and North Yorkshire - have been secured in recent weeks.
The latter funding was agreed in return for major leadership changes at Welcome to Yorkshire.
Interim chair Keith Stewart was ousted in favour of Wakefield Council leader Peter Box becoming chairman, while Kirklees Council chief executive Jacqui Gedman is now providing “strategic support” to the organisation as it continues to search for a new chief executive.
WTY’s previous chief executive Sir Gary resigned in March on health grounds, with a subsequent investigation finding he had claimed around £26,000 in “personal” expenses that were “not incurred wholly for the benefit of Welcome to Yorkshire”.
A spokesman for Welcome to Yorkshire said: “Discussions are currently ongoing with the North York Moors National Park Authority so we are unable to comment further at this time.”