Welcome to Yorkshire appoints Wakefield council leader as new chairman

Councillor Peter Box CBE.
Councillor Peter Box CBE.

Welcome to Yorkshire (WtY) have appointed a new chairman.

The Leader of Wakefield Council, councillor Peter Box CBE has been chosen to head up the tourism organisation after the previous interim chair Keith Stewart resigned after a meeting on Monday.

READ MORE: Council leader says Welcome to Yorkshire has made far to little change since expenses scandal

At the meeting of the North and West Yorkshire business rates join committee, council leaders demanded the replacement of Mr Stewart if they were to offer £1 million of new public sector funding.

Members of the committee had agreed a series of firm conditions which WtY's organisation's board had to accept before the public funds would be part release.

As well as replacing Mr Stewart. these conditions were the appointment of a public sector chair and a new board in place before the end of the financial year, recruitment of a new chief executive to start immediately with the process being publicly visible, and the launch of a public sector led consultation over a period of four months about the future of regional tourism.

Commenting on the appointment, Cllr Box CBE said: “I am extremely passionate about our county and all it has to offer and am happy to take this opportunity to build on the remarkable success that Welcome to Yorkshire has achieved, and more importantly regain public confidence in its future.”

WtY is still recovering from the departure of former boss Sir Gary Verity who left in March on health grounds in the wake of a bullying and expenses scandal.

Cllr Box added: “There is no doubt that recent events have undermined Welcome to Yorkshire’s achievements and I am absolutely clear that we will be doing things very differently as the organisation becomes as open and transparent as possible.

“There is agreement amongst the county’s leaders that we need to continue to market Yorkshire as a great destination. It is my intention that Welcome to Yorkshire now starts a new chapter doing what it does best with a new focus on honesty, transparency and integrity and I look forward to leading this.”

However, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Scriven has criticised the Cllr Box's appointment.

The former Sheffield Council leader, who has been an outspoken critic of the agency’s leadership, said on Twitter that Coun Box was in a “conflicted” position as “he makes decisions to give money to a body he now chairs”.

Lord Scriven added: “He is a former board member so comes with [the] baggage of previous failings.”

He has called for a professional in the tourism industry to be appointed as a temporary chairman instead.