David Parkin on a sad depart

FAREWELL then Welcome to Yorkshire.

The regional tourism organisation was placed into administration this week.

How sad but how pathetically predictable.

You didn’t need to have the spiritual powers of Doris Stokes or Clinton Baptiste to work out how this story would end.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s recent history involves so many labyrinthine plots and counter plots, massive egos, backstabbing and grandstanding that it makes the HBO TV drama Succession look like the Teletubbies.

The writing has been on the wall for the tourism body ever since the former long serving leader of Wakefield Council, Peter Box, was made chair by the local authorities who stepped in to fund it.

Box, whose leadership style has been likened to that of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was never going to find consensus among “stakeholders” and was certainly not going to be able to persuade private sector sponsors who deserted the organisation en masse after the departure of chief executive Sir Gary Verity, to return to the fold.

James Mason, who became CEO in January 2020, did his best to steady the ship but any ambitious plans he had were derailed by the Covid pandemic.

He left last October and I was critical of James at the time, but when I met him at an event last week we had a beer and a chat and I said there were no hard feelings from me, probably more like sympathy for the position he found himself in.

I wished him well in his new role as chief executive of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and said he was better off out of Welcome to Yorkshire, which has shown no inclination to replace him.

Instead the powers that be from the public sector reverted to what they do best – expensive navel gazing.

The Yorkshire Leaders Board – made up of council leaders and the region’s two metro mayors – ordered a £25,000 review conducted by Merran McRae, a former chief executive of Wakefield and Calderdale councils, to look at its future.

We don’t know the results of this review because they haven’t been published but we can assume what her conclusions were as Welcome to Yorkshire was placed into an insolvency process days after the review landed on the desks of the Yorkshire Leaders’ Board.

It is a tragedy for those who will lose their jobs as a result.

I’d imagine the biggest losers from its collapse will be the councils who have been bailing out Welcome to Yorkshire in recent years.

And now what are their plans?

Well, with an irony which only those in the public sector are blind to, the Yorkshire Leaders’ Board announced that it is intended that a new destination marketing organisation to promote the region will be established in its place.

An initial meeting is planned in May to agree the timeline for establishing the new organisation.

That is in almost three months time when the tourism season in Yorkshire will already be upon us.

And you can bet that it will take longer than that for our glorious public sector leaders to decide the next steps.

So after effectively turning Welcome to Yorkshire into a zombie body in recent months, it has now been put into administration leaving a vacuum for the promotion of regional tourism.

It looks like the biggest cock-up since Mons, as my grandfather used to say.

Those images of a sun-dappled Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire peloton snaking through the region’s highways and byways and Yorkshire showcasing its treasures and talents on the world stage now seem but a distant memory.

Sir Gary Verity dreamed big and delivered big during his transformational decade at the helm of Welcome to Yorkshire.

But like all high profile individuals, not everyone liked him.

And when concerns were raised about expense spending and the treatment of staff, there were those, mainly from the public sector and the media, who piled in with glee.

He departed his role on health grounds in 2019 and Welcome to Yorkshire, which was funded by businesses and councils across Yorkshire, commissioned two independent investigations.

One was concerned with expense claims, while the other looked into how the organisation was managed.

The reports found expenses claims were made without receipts and staff felt unable to speak out about bad behaviour.

It has been reported that the cost of the investigations was more than £480,000.

There are those that are now calling for Sir Gary to be stripped of his knighthood.


He hasn’t faced any criminal charges and he hasn’t been censured by a professional body – which are two of the reasons for removing it.

There are politicians and others who have actually committed crimes and received fairer treatment.

When I look at what we had promoting this region and what we are left with, I know which one I’d prefer.


AS unedifying sights go, one publicly funded body rounding on another one in an attempt to justify its existence, is right up there.

Such was the situation in the Houses of Parliament recently when Caroline Cooper Charles, the new chief executive of Screen Yorkshire, was asked about the impact of the Tour de France event as she gave evidence to MPs on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Committee about efforts to promote Britain as an international holiday destination.

The boss of the organisation which supports the region’s film and TV sectors, told MPs: “For a short amount of time, obviously the hotels were booked up and the restaurants were full.

“But in terms of long-term impact – no, I wouldn’t say so.

“Once the bikes are gone, what’s left?”

A rather simplistic analysis, I’d suggest, but she’s allowed her opinion.

Particularly when it helps justify her own position.


I’VE always been a useless tosser.

I can’t successfully flip a pancake to save my life.

But if I’d known you could be rewarded for doing a really bad job I’d have emphasised my failings a lot more.

I, like most people, was staggered to read the news that former education secretary and defence secretary (he was sacked from both roles) Gavin Williamson is to be knighted.

Often likened to Frank Spencer, if Williamson isn’t getting the honour for his achievements in Government, what is he getting it for?

The cynic in me suggests it is in exchange for his silence and the timing of it, when the media is dominated by war in Ukraine, means it misses the scrutiny by the Press that it deserves.

I just hope that when he approaches Queen Elizabeth to receive the honour at Buckingham Palace he doesn’t paraphrase his look-a-like and exclaim: “Ooh, Betty, the corgi’s done a whoopsie on the carpet.”

Have a great weekend.

2 thoughts on “David Parkin on a sad depart”

  1. Caroline Harrison

    Sir Gary Verity did wonders for Yorkshire. It’s a crying shame that there is no more WtY or indeed Tour de Yorkshire. He brought in the tourists and the big money to our local economy.
    Do we suffer from Paradise Syndrome here ?
    Or envy?

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