Welcome to Yorkshire admits making 'big mistakes' with public money

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image copyrightDoug Pensinger/Getty Images
image captionThe tourism body, which brought the Tour de France to Yorkshire in 2014, is part-funded by councils across the county

A tourism body has admitted making "big mistakes" in the way it spent taxpayers' money.

New documents show Welcome to Yorkshire (WtY) spent over £430,000 removing and investigating its former chief executive, Sir Gary Verity.

Sir Gary was appointed in 2008 and was responsible for bringing the Tour de France to Yorkshire in 2014.

His departure in March 2019 followed concerns over his expenses claims and the way in which staff were treated.

The organisation - funded by tourism businesses and councils across Yorkshire - later commissioned two independent investigations.

James Mason, who took over the role early in 2020, told BBC Look North that it was important "any money given by the taxpayer should be properly scrutinised".

image captionSir Gary Verity was chief executive of the tourism company for a decade

He admitted "big mistakes" regarding finances had been made in the past, but said "some great things" had also been achieved.

Mr Mason said he could only control the present and the future, adding: "There is a line in the sand now."

In recent years a number of councils have threatened to withhold funding from the organisation, which announced in June that it was facing a £1,4m shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lord Scriven, the former leader of Sheffield City Council, said local authorities faced a choice of funding "vital services", or to "keep putting money into [WtY's] begging bowl".

He said public finances needed to be protected and it was time to adopt a self-funded model in order to promote "our great county".

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