'Completely untrue': Welcome to Yorkshire responds after Wakefield councillors accuse it of leading a 'lavish lifestyle'
Welcome to Yorkshire (WtY) has hit back at Wakefield Council following accusations it's led a "lavish lifestyle" and fails to offer value for money.
Senior councillors in Wakefield declined the advice of their own officers on Tuesday morning by refusing to sign off a £78,000 payout to the troubled tourism agency, which faces closure without an emergency bailout from local authorities.
While one councillor suggested the district had never benefited from WtY's work, another, Matthew Morley, told a Cabinet meeting that the agency's spending on the likes of helicopters was so extravagant it would "make the President of America jealous".
In response, WtY acknowledged the accusation it's led a "lavish lifestyle" may have carried merit in previous years, but added that it would be "completely untrue" to apply it to its conduct over the last 18 months.
Wakefield Council said it would continue to pay its £12,000 a year subscription to WtY but that it couldn't justify paying out any more money given the financial problems it faces post-coronavirus.
Instead, the money will be ringfenced and spent on its own efforts to draw visitors to Wakefield.
Responding to the comments heard at the Cabinet meeting, WtY chief executive James Mason said: "While we are obviously disappointed Wakefield have decided not to make this contribution, we’re pleased to hear they recognise the value of Welcome to Yorkshire and will continue paying their regular subscription.
"We completely refute the comments made in the cabinet meeting relating to the organisation’s lifestyle, which may have been the case in the past but has been completely untrue for more than 18 months now.
"I have been working incredibly hard to change the funding model of Welcome to Yorkshire but we’re now living through a pandemic and all the issues that brings.
"We understand this global crisis has also put local authorities under a major strain too but as we all face these huge challenges it’s more important than ever that Yorkshire has a joined-up approach to promoting the fantastic offer we have in all four corners of the county."
WtY is chaired by former Wakefield Council leader Peter Box, who stepped down from his role at the local authority last year after 21 years in charge.
Local Democracy Reporting Service