Tourism chief loses job as funding cut back

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THE chief executive of a Yorkshire tourism board is to lose her job following Government funding cuts.

Janet Reuben will leave Visit Hull and East Yorkshire at the end of the month after her post was made redundant.

The organisation she has headed for the past six years will continue, but be run in-house by two councils which have funded it alongside soon-to-be abolished regional development agency Yorkshire Forward. Last year Yorkshire Forward gave VHEY £270,000.

It is understood Ms Reuben and a small number of staff, who have been directly employed by VHEY, will go, but most of the 40-strong workforce, who were seconded from their council jobs, will be unaffected.

Coun Terry Geraghty, Hull’s portfolio holder for leisure and culture, insisted the changes “won’t make any difference whatsoever” and VHEY’s main event, the Freedom Festival in Hull would continue. This year 40 events, some pre-existing, some new, are being staged in the city with the aim of reaping as much local benefit as possible from the London Olympic Games.

Councillors are hoping that it will act as a launchpad for Hull’s second bid to become city of culture in 2017.

Coun Geraghty said: “No way is the Freedom Festival in doubt – we have funding from the Arts Council for three years. People can rest assured that we are improving on what we offer. What we are doing with our programme will ensure more and more people are coming into the city. A figurehead isn’t necessary – we have figureheads in both councils and we work together on that basis.”

Ms Reuben said: “It has been a fantastic job and I have enjoyed every minute and I think we have achieved a lot and created something that everybody is proud of.”

A joint statement from East Riding Council, Hull Council and VHEY said: “Since 2006 Yorkshire Forward has been a generous funder of VHEY.

“Due to their support and the close partnership working within VHEY, Hull Council, East Riding Council and the private sector there have been many considerable achievements.

“These include the launch of the Yorkshire Wolds brand, and the associated development of the walking routes, cycle paths and the WANDER Arts Trail, the introduction and development of a visitor focused web site, the creation and delivery of Yorkshire Passion which is running this week and the launch of Hull’s Festival Freedom.

“Although Yorkshire Forward’s funding ceases on the March 31, VHEY will continue.

“There is a strong commitment to the visitor economy and both local authorities will continue to work together, in conjunction with the tourism businesses to build upon the good work that has already been undertaken. The two local authorities are working together to develop a plan that accommodates a reduction in funding also ensuring the visitor economy in East Yorkshire continues to thrive.”