Yorkshire tourism chief set to quit after criticism of expenses scandal response | UK news

The chair of Yorkshire’s tourism body is expected to resign after an expenses scandal surrounding its former chief executive Sir Gary Verity.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s Ron McMillan will reportedly tender his resignation at a board meeting on Friday.

It comes after the agency appointed independent investigators to examine Verity’s lavish expenses. He resigned from WTY on health grounds in March.

McMillan, a former senior partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, who has been chair of WTY since 2015, came under increasing pressure to resign after criticism of his handling of Verity’s departure.

Shortly after Verity’s resignation McMillan released a statement saying he believed the body’s former boss had “made errors of judgment” and that the expenses “did not require police investigation”. Verity reportedly paid back about £40,000 to the organisation.

The Liberal Democrat peer Paul Scriven, a former leader of Sheffield city council, confirmed he had written to West Yorkshire’s police chief constable, Dee Collins, to ask for a criminal inquiry to be launched. The police have said it was “not clear if any criminal offences have been committed”.

Lord Scriven, who has called for McMillan to resign, said he was “astounded and angry” the board had not called in the police.

WTY is a private limited company but has received £14.9m of public funding since 2013, more than 50% of its annual turnover, according to figures released to the Guardian.

Last week a number of council leaders, who provided millions in funding to WTY through the Leeds city region business rates pool, wrote an open letter to McMillan. It expressed unhappiness with the “lack of pace” in setting up the reviews and demanded “rapid changes in governance” to continuing their long-term funding of the tourism agency.

Wakefield’s council leader, Peter Box, told the Yorkshire Post that his local authority would not agree to future funding for the Leeds-based tourism agency until McMillan “steps aside”. It was expected to become the third Yorkshire council in recent weeks to withhold funding from WTY.

Box told the Yorkshire Post: “I want to make it very clear that Ron McMillan does not have Wakefield’s support in taking forward the new leadership culture which is clearly needed at Welcome to Yorkshire. I firmly believe that any new leadership needs to start with change at the top.

“The lack of urgency surrounding the independent review and the fact that there is still no action plan in place to move the organisation towards strengthened transparency and accountability is not only frustrating but gives cause for significant concern.”

A spokesperson for Welcome to Yorkshire said it would not be making a comment until after the board meeting.

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