Wakefield Council set to help bail out Welcome to Yorkshire with £78,000 payout after former leader Peter Box's plea

Wakefield Council is set to heed a plea from its former leader Peter Box to help keep Welcome to Yorkshire afloat.

Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 4:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 4:56 pm
Welcome to Yorkshire chair Peter Box asked councils for a £1.4m bailout to help keep running in June.

The local authority is likely to rubber stamp a £78,000 payout to the troubled regional tourism agency next week.

It follows a request from Mr Box, who became WtY chair after stepping down as council leader at the end of last year, for a combined £1.4m bail out from Yorkshire's 20 local authorities.

In a letter to councils in June he warned that WtY, which is still reeling from last year's resignation of former chief executive Sir Gary Verity amid bullying and expenses allegations, may have to close without the emergency help.

Mr Box became WtY chair after stepping down as Wakefield Council leader in November last year.

In July, Wakefield Council said it was still undecided about whether or not to contribute to the bailout, having set up its own board devoted to bringing more visitors to the district.

But now, a Cabinet report going before senior councillors next Tuesday will recommend the authority hands over £78,547 to WtY, on top of the £12,000 a year subscription fee it already pays.

The report acknowledged that the council considered not forking out, but that officers decided to recommend supporting WtY in recognition of the "Significant impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector, and the need to support businesses and protect jobs".

The report indicated that other local authorities are likely to follow suit, although Hambleton and Ryedale District Councils in North Yorkshire have already said they will not be paying the agency any more money.

In a statement issued shortly after the report was published on Tuesday morning, the council's Cabinet member for resources, Michael Graham, said: "Tourism is extremely important to our district and to our wider region.

"At the meeting we’ll be considering the proposed funding for Welcome to Yorkshire to support the tourism and hospitality industries as they continue to face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Local Democracy Reporting Service