Chief executive defends Welcome to Yorkshire after accountability allegations
Last updated Jul 13, 2021
James Mason, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire.
James Mason, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire.

The chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire has defended the organisation amid allegations that the tourism body has become unaccountable.

James Mason, who joined the organisation in January 2020, called on people to judge the body on its record “going forward”.

Mr Mason joined the organisation after former boss, Sir Gary Verity, resigned in March 2019. on health grounds. He later faced allegations of bullying and inappropriately claiming expenses, which he denied.

Two inquiries carried out after Sir Gary’s resignation cost the tourism body £482,500. Following the announcement of the investigations, the then chairman of Welcome to Yorkshire, Ron McMillan, resigned after councils funding the organisation demanded a “significantly revamped board to take the business forward”.

In July 2019, Lord Paul Scriven, a former leader of Sheffield City Council and Liberal Democrat peer, called for the board to resign and said “fundamental change” was needed to regain its reputation.

The new allegations come after the Yorkshire Post reported that Sir Thomas Ingilby, owner of Ripley Castle and Gardens, said in an email to members of Welcome to Yorkshire that the body had become “completely unaccountable” and had failed to meet with members.

Mr Mason told the Stray Ferret that he “fully respected” Sir Thomas’ disappointment, but added that the organisation had taken steps to be accountable and transparent.

He said the accusation “could be labeled at the past” and the present “to a point”.

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But, Mr Mason said the body was undertaking a governance review, held meetings in public and published minutes of its board.

He added that Welcome to Yorkshire was also looking at its constitution and how it elected chairmen and board members.

Mr Mason said:

“We’re looking at how we as an organisation can represent the future as a county.”

Meanwhile, Mr Mason said the organisation needed to come together in order for the tourism industry to recover after the covid pandemic.

He said:

“Whether you are for or against Welcome to Yorkshire is not really important.

“What you need to be for is the Yorkshire tourism industry and the visitor economy that really needs support right now. It’s an unwelcome distraction.”

Mr Mason added:

“We all want the same thing at Welcome to Yorkshire, whether you are a member or not a member.

“We all have to come together and want the same thing. That’s the only way we are going to recover. 

“It’s not going to be via fighting, bitter feuds, looking back or looking at the present, it’s about looking forward.”

Mr Mason called on people to judge Welcome to Yorkshire on their record going forward.

“Just judge us please on the now and going forward. That is all I would ask.”