Welcome to Yorkshire asks for 45% more funding from councils
Jan 5, 2022
Welcome to Yorkshire requested financial support back in July.
Welcome to Yorkshire requested financial support back in July.

Councils are to consider whether to help keep Welcome to Yorkshire afloat after the troubled tourism body upped its subscription fee for local authorities by some 45 per cent.

Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council are among the councils paying annual subscription fees to WtY. Harrogate Borough Council paid £12,100 in July last year.

Leading councillors have responded to the increase by calling for the stream of public money that has been handed to WtY to be permanently plugged or for a decision to be postponed until options for the future direction of tourism marketing in the region are presented to the Yorkshire Leaders Board next month.

Welcome to Yorkshire at 2021 Great Yorks Show

Welcome to Yorkshire at the 2021 Great Yorkshire Show.

The tourism body has admitted making “big mistakes” in the way it spent taxpayers’ money, including spending more than £430,000 removing and investigating its former chief executive, Sir Gary Verity, following concerns over his expenses claims.

In recent years numerous local authorities have threatened to withhold funding from WtY, at a time that its finances have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Self-funded model

Lord Scriven, the former leader of Sheffield City Council, has said WtY needs to adopt a self-funded model.

Nevertheless, in October, WtY said it had sufficient funds to operate until March 31, assuming all committed subscriptions for 2021/22 are paid.

An officers’ report to a meeting of Richmondshire District Council’s corporate board on Tuesday next week states the subscription fee for local authorities was initially “modest” at £1,300 a year until 2012, when the rate was raised to £10,000.

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The cost of the subscription for next year has risen to £14,515, which WtY has justified on the basis that there had been no increase in the six previous years.

‘Nothing but scandal’

Stuart Parsons, leader of the Independents group on North Yorkshire County Council, said WtY’s page views for Richmondshire were far inferior to the privately-run Richmond Online tourism website, which was receiving one million hits a month.

He said:

“What have we been getting out of Welcome to Yorkshire? Nothing but scandal. Originally it was supposed to be immediately self-funding, but it has always relied on massive public contributions.

“Councils should not be giving any more money to an organisation that has not demonstrated it is making an effective difference to our lives and our economy.”

The county council’s finance boss, Councillor Gareth Dadd, said the authority would examine any request for funding from WtY “in the light of its performance and our ability to pay”.

He added:

“There is most definitely an advantage of having a tourism marketing body.”