A watchdog committee will be told next week what the targets for the Councils wholly owned “Make it York” (MIY) organisation will be.
MIY has been the centre of controversy since it took over the management of City centre activities 12 months ago.
It has just reported a £29,000 “profit” for last year …..but only after receiving nearly £1 million from local taxpayers.
Now the Council is saying that the subsidy for 2016/17 must be used to meet a range of targets which include;
- Sustaining/creating “high value jobs” (Taxpayer contribution £179k) – This includes inward investment, account management with “500 jobs created above the national median wage”. In 2015/16 MIY claimed to have created 233 new jobs (against a target of 700) of which only 167 (target 500) where “high value”
- Cultural/visual identity (£120k) – improving the City’s image (!), a year round creative lighting setup for the city centre, digital signposting and what’s on, city centre public realm enhancement and “the” Eye of York development.
- Bring people and businesses together (£39k) – to “enable serendipity to happen” (!)
- Community based economic initiatives (£30k) – includes rolling out Bishopthorpe Road “model” to other suburban shopping areas.
In addition, the MIY will promote the Shambles market and stimulate tourism albeit no numeric targets for these activities are included in the proposed “service level agreement”
What would success look like?
Most of these objectives are notoriously difficult to monitor. In particular, most economic growth is organic and would probably happen anyway without third party stimulation.
MIY has already fallen into the trap of measuring inputs (e.g. number of meetings held) rather than outputs. It is reminiscent of the last Councils flirtation with the exotic attractions of Cannes
If the organisation can make a “profit” then they appear to care little that local traders are squeezed out by high rents or that children lose their traditional pastimes.
Performance numbers for 2015/16 will be considered at a “shareholders” meeting next week. They show that MIY missed all of their economic development targets during the last year
However, the number of potential tourists accessing Visit York information did achieve the 2 million target. The organisation also did better on business inquiries and conferences.
There are no customer satisfaction measures for city centre activities or the “markets” experience.
Total tourist numbers and entry numbers at attractions are not reported. Nor are hotel room occupancy figures.
In the wake of the City of York Trading scandal, the Council has promised a root and branch review of how its arm’s length companies and partner organisations are governed.