Welcome to Yorkshire postpones key meeting on its future for three weeks

The future of Welcome to Yorkshire is to remain shrouded in doubt for a further three weeks after a crunch board meeting due to take place on Thursday was postponed.

The tourism agency was due to hold a board meeting on the afternoon of November 18 to discuss its next steps after a review of its future was ordered by chairman Peter Box.

The board had been due to meet just hours after a meeting of the Yorkshire Leaders’ Board which is expected to see the region’s council leaders and metro mayors discuss behind closed doors whether to bring Welcome to Yorkshire under public sector control.

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Welcome to Yorkshire has now announced it is cancelling its November 18 board meeting and rescheduling it for December 9 “to facilitate proper consideration” of the recommendations that come forward from the Leaders Board on Thursday.

Welcome to Yorkshire chairman Peter Box.

A spokesperson for Welcome to Yorkshire said: “We warmly welcome the inclusion of the future direction of Welcome to Yorkshire as an agenda item at the next meeting of the Yorkshire Leaders Board on November 18. We look forward to the outcome of this discussion and any recommendations that are made.

“To facilitate proper consideration of such recommendations and allow time for additional feedback from the Yorkshire Leaders, we have rescheduled the next meeting of the Welcome to Yorkshire Board to December 9.”

Last month, North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les - who is both a member of the Welcome to Yorkshire board and co-chair of the Yorkshire Leaders Board - said he hoped council leaders and mayors on the latter group would have a discussion about the potential of taking WtY into public sector control.

He said he intended to set out in the meeting some of the benefits and challenges that faced the former Yorkshire Tourist Board, the publicly run organisation that was replaced by Welcome to Yorkshire in 2009.

While Welcome to Yorkshire is a private limited company, it receives millions in public funding from local councils.

It follows a period of crisis for WtY, with the announcement of chief executive James Mason’s departure resulting in half the eight-person board resigning.

Chairman Peter Box, a former leader of Wakefield Council, had announced he would step down at the organisation’s AGM on November 1 but dramatically announced at an emergency board meeting in October that the AGM was being postponed until a “review” of the organisation’s future had taken place with council leaders and other stakeholders, like tourism firms.

Coun Les said last month that the meeting with council leaders would be central to determining the organisation’s future.

He added: “It is important to talk to stakeholders to find out what they want from a Destination Marketing Organisation but the important part is to have the conversation with the local authorities who have put in the majority of the funding for many years.”

Board at skeleton level

Welcome to Yorkshire currently only has four board members following the four resignations that resulted from chief executive James Mason’s departure.

The departures followed unhappiness at the handling of an internal investigation into unspecified allegations about the conduct of Mr Mason, who left the organisation on October 22.

Two of them - chairman Peter Box and Dan Bates - had also been due to stand down at the now postponed AGM.

The other two members are North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les and Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones.

The company’s rules state at least four non-executive directors and one executive director is required to hold board meetings.

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