Welcome to Yorkshire to hold first board meeting of new era behind closed doors

Troubled tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire will hold its first board meeting under new leadership behind closed doors, it has been revealed.

Welcome to Yorkshire chairman Peter Box

The meeting due to take place on January 22 in Leeds will be the first since former Wakefield Council leader Peter Box became chairman and ex-Bradford City chief operating officer James Mason was appointed as chief executive.

New board members are also due to participate after a major shake-up of the organisation following a year of crisis triggered by the resignation of Sir Gary Verity as chief executive on health grounds in March amidst bullying and expenses allegations.

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Since being appointed in October Mr Box has repeatedly said he intends to make the company, which receives millions of pounds in public funding each year, more open and transparent through measures such as having its board meetings open to the press and public and being broadcast live on the internet in a similar way to local council meetings.

But Welcome to Yorkshire said today it will not be possible to do so at the next meeting as board members are yet to agree to Mr Box’s proposals.

A spokeswoman said: “The next Welcome to Yorkshire board meeting will take place on January 22 and will include newly recruited board members.

“This will be the first board meeting attended by the new chief executive, James Mason. The Chair, Peter Box, will lead a discussion about how the organisation, including the board will become more open and transparent.

“Peter Box wants a formal discussion with board members in January about how future board meetings are run, including his view that they should be open to public scrutiny. So as to not pre-empt any decisions, the meeting will be a closed session.”

Among the items on the agenda for the meeting is a financial report, discussion of membership numbers and an update on the progress of an ‘improvement plan’ ordered in the wake of Sir Gary’s departure.

In November, Welcome to Yorkshire said the next board meeting would include discussion of potential changes to the repayment date of a £500,000 loan the organisation took from North Yorkshire County Council earlier this year and currently has until September 2020 to repay in full.

Without taking out the loan in September this year, Welcome to Yorkshire would have run out of money and been unable to pay staff after struggling to recover from the fallout from Sir Gary’s departure earlier this year.

The loan is secured against a WTY-owned building in York.

While new appointments to the WTY board are in the process of being made after the roles were publicly advertised, North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les has remained as one of its public sector members.

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones is among the other new appointments.