”Welcome to Yorkshire” parts company with colourful Chief Executive

Sir Gary Verity has been sacked by the Yorkshire Tourism development company “Welcome to Yorkshire”.  Sir Gary left the company on Friday citing “health” reasons.

An article in today’s Sunday Time puts more flesh on the bones of the announcement.

It includes worrying allegations of bullying and expenses irregularities.

Welcome to Yorkshire (WTY) replaced the Yorkshire Tourist Board which used to have its headquarters in York on Tadcaster Road. WTY moved out and currently lets the Tadcaster Road building to another organisation. Its registered office address is now in Leeds.

 Tourism in York is run via “Visit York” which in turn is partly funded by the “Make it York” Quango. Over £1 million a year is paid by York taxpayers to that organisation. It is not however directly linked with WTY.

York does get some benefits from WTY publicity. A local race meeting has been sponsored and some advertising has taken place at the railway station.

Welcome to Yorkshire receives grants from both central and local government. Its Board includes four Councillors (3 Tory and 1 Labour). They are Carl Les (North Yorkshire), Richard Cooper (Harrogate), Stephen Parnaby (East Yorkshire) and Steve Brady (Hull)

Other Board members mainly have business backgrounds. The Chair is Ron McMillan who was formerly with Price Waterhouse.

Two other Directors left the company in March

WTY is a private company limited by guarantee. Its detailed expenditure – and income – is largely opaque. However, it is most widely known for sponsorship of sporting events. These include cycle races. cricket and horse racing.  The level of hospitality associated with these events is likely to be the subject of conjecture over the next few days.

WTY had a turnover of just over £4 million in the year to March 2018 (the last figures available).

About half this went on the cost of employing 46 staff. One Director – understood to be Sir Gary – received £243,453 .

WTY reported a profit of £251,173 in the year.

As a private company Welcome to Yorkshire is not subject to Freedom of Information legislation.

However with a significant part of its income coming from taxpayers, many will feel that more transparency is required in its dealings.

No freebies for York Labour Councillor

 At least one member of the Labour Cabinet is apparently now showing restraint in accepting hospitality.

According to the Councils web site serial party goer Cllr Crisp hasn’t received any hospitality since October 2013.

In the same period Council Leader has declared 23 instances of hospitality

The Deputy Leader Cllr Simpson Laing has accepted a similar number of freebies including two meals from John Lewis. She makes no declaration for foreign travel although it had previously been reported that the British Council was picked up the tab for her trips to Strasbourg.

With dozens of Tour de France VIP tickets having been available recently, residents will be keeping a close eye on declarations made by both Councillors and officers over the next few days.

At the other end of the scale Cllr “two jobs” Williams has not received any hospitality at all during the 3 years that he has been a Councillor. Probably doesn’t have time, given that as well as being a Cabinet member, he tries to hold down a full time job and is also a magistrate.

Senior Officers also now publish a list of expenses that they receive from the Council. The May list can be found on their web site and is unexceptionable part from one air flight costing over £300.

The Council hasn’t published details of Councillors travel expense claims since March.

Kings Square launch

Day out in London

The Press have taken up the case of local Councillor Sonja Crisp who – as was reported on this web site last month – is prone to making trips to London at taxpayer’s expense.

The trips were not in themselves particularly expensive or exceptional, but her attempts to justify the £800 plus bill lacked conviction.

Portraying York on the national stage could mean anything.

Trip Advisor launches new guide

Trip Advisor launches new guide

At a time when the Council says that it can’t afford to spend £50 topping up salt bins, every expense should be challenged.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is little more than a talking shop and such business as it transacts (basically lobbying central government) is in the hands of a few leading councillors (none of whom are from York).

The minutes of the “Culture, Leisure and sports Board” meetings are publicly available and can be found here.

Neither suggests that the Council’s representative even uttered a word.

It would probably have gone unnoticed if the Councillor had not got “form”


She also has the most fluid Register of Interests ever seen on the York Council web site. It includes a visit to Blackpool in August to participate in the “Baltic States Knowledge Exchange Visit 2013” (!!!)

Still it’s not as bad as the Labour MP, who claimed back – from taxpayers – 40p for the cost of buying a bottle of milk!

Cllr Crisp has to justify her activities to the next York Council meeting which takes place on 12th December.

She might anticipate some probing questions on her well travelled approach to Council work.

More on taxpayers subsidising political parties – MP claims back 40p for bottle of milk

A full list of the properties that MPs rent for their local offices has been published


It reveals that the other local MP (Julian Sturdy, Conservative) also rents his office from his local political party

Taxpayers should be told how much rent is paid by MPs to rent offices (its around £10 million nationally). A report on the issue is expected in the spring.

There should be an independent audit to check that the amount being paid reflects a fair commercial rent for the space used and that there is no cross subsidy of political activities.

Meanwhile the latest expenses claims by local MPs have been published click here to download.

They reveal that during June and July this year High Bayley claimed £6,286 including 40p for a bottle of milk and £20 on Yorkshire Teabags.

Julian Sturdy claimed £7956 with £60 spent on London’s congestion charge.

During 2012/13 Hugh Bayley spent £21,153 on office costs. In total he claimed £163,529 in expenses


In the same period Julian Sturdy spent £11,374 on office costs and claimed a total of £131,321 in expenses

Click here for all details