Welcome to Yorkshire selling £1m building in York to pay back council loan

The sale of a £1m property owned by Welcome to Yorkshire in York is under way to help pay back a £500,000 emergency loan it took from North Yorkshire County Council and boost its reserves, it has been revealed.

North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les, who also sits on the board of Welcome to Yorkshire.

The agency is selling the building on Tadcaster Road formerly used by its predecessor organisation, the Yorkshire Tourist Board, which has been valued at £1m. It is hoped the sale could be completed in the next couple of months.

The loan it took from North Yorkshire County Council in September 2019 to enable the organisation to stay afloat and pay staff is secured against the building, and its sale would require immediate repayment of the outstanding sum.

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The loan was taken out at a seven per cent interest rate and the outstanding amount owed is now understood to be around £545,000.

The initial terms of the loan meant it was due to be repaid by November 2020, but in April last year the council, whose leader Carl Les sits on the Welcome to Yorkshire board, extended the repayment deadline to November 2021.

The tourism agency’s accounts state negotiations about a further extension of the repayment deadline to April 2022 are “in the final stage of negotiations and the directors are confident this extension will be completed shortly after the signing of these financial statements”.

It added: “The directors are in the midst of disposing of its investment property and are currently in the final stages of negotiation, expecting to complete the sale by April 2021.

“The realisation of the investment property will provide reserves beyond the anticipated cash flow forecast as a contingency after repayment of the loan.

“Consequently, the directors are confident that the company will have sufficient funds to continue to meet its liabilities as they fall due for at least 12 months from the date of approval of the financial statements and therefore have prepared the financial statements on a going concern basis.”

The agency’s current headquarters are in Leeds and the accounts up to the end of March 2020 state that as of that date, the company was committed to making a payment of over £360,000 over the next two to five years under a non-cancellable operating lease.

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