Gary Verity’s controversial departure from Welcome to Yorkshire burned a hole of nearly half a million pounds in the tourism body’s accounts, contributing to significant financial losses.
Verity, who brought the Tour de France Grand Départ to the British region in 2014 and subsequently set up the Tour de Yorkshire stage race, resigned as chief executive in March 2019 on health grounds, amid allegations into his expenses and his behaviour toward staff.
According to a report in the Yorkshire Post, in the 18 months from March 2018 to September 2019, the organisation suffered a deficit of more than £70,000, largely stemming from Verity’s departure.
“The directors recognise that the period has been one of significant challenge for the business with the resignation of the former chief executive and a subsequent review of governance and culture within the business,” read Welcome to Yorkshire’s financial report.
“The costs associated with the leadership and governance changes in this period are £431,623 in termination payments, legal and professional costs.”
According to the Yorkshire Post, staff termination costs amounted to £150,000, while a further £280,000 went on ‘legal and professional’ fees largely relating to the independent inquiries ordered in the wake of Verity’s departure.
The figure of £150,000, which covered national insurance and pension payments was first published by Welcome to Yorkshire in October 2019, but Verity dismissed it, saying it was “false and misleading” to suggest the figure related solely to him.
In the most recent accounting period, covering the six months to the end of March 2020, Welcome to Yorkshire suffered further losses of £127,140. This was partly due to recruiting a replacement for Verity, which was packaged with other redundancy costs to total £113,873.
Since recording those losses, Welcome to Yorkshire has been plunged into further financial difficulty by the coronavirus pandemic, which has vastly affected the tourism industry. It had to rely on more than £1m of emergency funding from local authorities last summer.
Despite that concern, the organisation struck a confident tone in reporting its accounts, which were published five months late.
“The appointment of a new Chairman in October 2019, a new Chief Executive in January 2020 and a wider refresh of the board was completed by March 2020. The process to resize the business into a more cost effective and sustainable cost base started in this period, continued after the end of this period and completed in July 2020. The directors anticipate a return to the successful delivery of services and a return to surplus in the year to March 2021.”
The future of the Tour de Yorkshire, however, remains in the balance. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the pandemic and the Welcome toy Yorkshire decided to call off the 2021 edition, scheduled for April, in November.