Harrogate council gives £31,000 to Welcome to Yorkshire
Nov 11, 2020
Welcome to Yorkshire requested financial support back in July.
Welcome to Yorkshire requested financial support in July.

Harrogate Borough Council has today agreed to pay £31,472 to troubled Welcome to Yorkshire to help keep the tourism body afloat.

Cllr Richard Cooper, leader of the council, approved the sum at a meeting with council officers.

It comes as Welcome to Yorkshire faces a funding gap of £1.4 million amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The tourism body revealed the shortfall in July and wrote to council leaders in the county asking for support – of which around £450,000 was needed from authorities in North Yorkshire.

The organisation was deprived of £1 million in business rates after councils in North and West Yorkshire saw the pandemic reduce their income.

A further £400,000 shortfall was created when Welcome to Yorkshire suspended its membership fees.

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Now Harrogate Borough Council has followed North Yorkshire County Council, which has paid £290,000 in additional funding, to help bailout the organisation.

In a report before Cllr Cooper today, the council said it would fund the contribution from both its revenue budget and business rates retention reserve.

‘Positive projection’

Welcome to Yorkshire said failure to support it would reduce the “positive projection” of the county provided by the tourism body.

A spokesperson for Harrogate Borough Council said:

“This financial support will enable Welcome to Yorkshire to continue to support tourism in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district at a time when it is needed the most.”

Welcome to Yorkshire was hit by controversy when 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.

Paul Scriven, a former leader of Sheffield City Council and a Liberal Democrat peer, told the House of Lords Welcome to Yorkshire had a “culture of toxicity” and misused public funds.