Councils suspend funding for Welcome to Yorkshire amid Verity scandal

A number of councils have suspended funding for Welcome to Yorkshire pending the outcome of investigations into the organisation. The tourism body is the co-organiser of the Tour de Yorkshire alongside Tour de France owner-operator Amaury Sport Organisation.

Sheffield and Hull council have suspended £50,000 (€58,000/65,000) and £7,200 of funding respectively for the body, which relies heavily on public money and sponsorship, to run the cycling event. Scarborough council has said it would investigate whether its relationship with the troubled body delivered ‘value for money’, while Leeds City Region’s business rates pool board, made up of the leaders of seven local councils in West and North Yorkshire, has also raised concerns about the ongoing investigations into the organisation.

Welcome to Yorkshire has commissioned an independent investigation into expenses claims made by former chief executive Sir Gary Verity. Verity paid back over £40,000 before resigning on health grounds in March. The former chief executive, who was at one time rumoured to be a candidate to replace Richard Scudamore at the Premier League, has also been the subject of an investigation into bullying.

Welcome to Yorkshire and the creation of the Tour de Yorkshire have played a significant role in boosting tourism in Yorkshire. The tour has grown to become one of the UK’s most-attended annual sporting events, attracting 2.6 million spectators in 2018, with an estimated economic value just short of £100m. New analysis suggests Yorkshire’s tourism economy is now worth £9bn, nearly 50 per cent more than when Welcome to Yorkshire was founded in 2009.

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