3 years later the Council finally admits what went wrong
£185,000 loss on the Grand Departy
The investigation report, into failings in the running of events connected with the Tour d France’s visit to York in July 2014, has finally been published.
It reveals a catalogue of poor management decisions and bad communications together with a risky approach to the use of taxpayer’s money.
An investigatory team say that neither the former Council Leader nor Chief Executive had been prepared to give evidence to their Inquiry.
The report is heavily critical of the process used to try to establish a camping site on Monk Stray.
The scale of public opposition to use of the area had been under-estimated while previous licensing and planning applications results had been ignored. Basic errors such as quoting the wrong post code for the site had gone undetected. In the end, the plan was abandoned with camping facilities concentrated near the Millennium Bridge
The focus of concern was the “Grand DeParty” concert. The Inquiry confirmed that the event was conceived as a fund raiser but was only formally agree as late as April 2014. It was announced that 10,000 tickets would be sold at £25 each producing a profit of £150,000.
However, the external management consultants said in April 20154 that it was “far too late for an event date of 4th July”
Subsequently an external provider (Cuffe and Taylor) were engaged to organise the concert but using an approach which “was highly informal; there was no clear evidence of a tendering process and the arrangement breached CYC procurement rules”.
No waiver to the rules was obtained.
The report goes on to say,
“The Task Group found no evidence of any analysis of where the concert audience might come from following the loss of the Monk Stray campers. Without that analysis, but concerned about preserving ‘our reputation as a city’, the Strategic Lead decided to continue with the concert after discussing this with the Chief Executive and others.
At this point, the emphasis changed from one of balancing the books to getting people to come.
From 10 June 2014, tickets were being sold at half price, and in the last few days; free tickets were offered to staff, partners and local armed forces personnel”.
The Task Group found that negative reports about the concert appeared in local print and broadcast media, besides being promoted by an excouncillor on social media.
This and poor ticket sales meant that attendance was very poor – press reports estimated this at around 1500, far below what had been hoped for. Officers later conceded in hindsight that the concert line-up was wrong and a mix that was intended to appeal to everyone in the end appealed to very few.
There were concerns about safety at the event, which were exacerbated by publication of the minutes of the SAG’s post-concert review meeting”.
“It was not clear where the political responsibility for the concert lay until sometime after the event”. The Inquiry concluded that the Council Leader James Alexander was accountable for the concert arrangements.
Most of those responsible have now left the York Council.
The Council has said that a new Project Management Framework will ensure that similar mistakes are not made in the future