Sir Gary's shock resignation: Harrogate reacts
Harrogate has reacted to news that the man responsible for bringing two world cycling events to Harrogate later this year has quit with its own pledge that the show must go on.
Sir Gary Verity quit as chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire after an investigation ruled he made "errors of judgement regarding his expenses", it has been revealed.
The former boss of the agency has resigned "on health grounds with immediate" effect, Welcome to Yorkshire said in a statement issued last Friday.The agency was responsible for organising the Tour de France's 2014 Grand Depart in Yorkshire and its subsequent legacy race, the Tour de Yorkshire.
Sir Gary also played an instrumental role in securing the 'Olympics' of cycling, the UCI Road World Championships, which will start and finish in Harrogate for nine whole days this September.
Richard Spencer, chief executive of Visit Harorgate, said the cycling events were still a huge opportunity for Harrogate in terms of its traders and tourism.He said: "Our reaction to the news is that it will be destination business as usual. "We work closely with the whole team at Welcome to Yorkshire on Yorkshire wide and Harrogate specific marketing and PR campaigns. "Our communication activity will continue unabated and this includes the maximisation of opportunity having a world class event with a worldwide following on our doorstep. "Broadcasting to 129 countries and 225 million people will give our town and the surrounding area a promotional opportunity of a lifetime."
Sandra Doherty, chief executive and past president of Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce said she had been saddened by the news but was confident the good work of Welcome to Yorkshire's good work to boost visitors and tourists.
She said: "It is with some sadness that I report to Harrogate District Chamber Members the resignation of Sir Gary Verity from Welcome to Yorkshire."Over the past 10 years we have supported Welcome to Yorkshire and listened with interest to Sir Gary speaking at several of our monthly meetings. "His passion for Yorkshire and of course cycling never failed to shine through. "Other members of the team have kept us informed and provided fascinating insights into the development of a world class event."We realise that although his resignation does leave a temporary hole it is something which an organisation such as Welcome to Yorkshire will rise above and continue to support and encourage tourism in our beautiful and diverse county.
She continued: "After reading the disappointing news on Friday night after Sir Gary’s departure my personal thoughts are that the pressure he put himself under and sadly members of his team must have been immense. "We will possible never know all the facts but let us celebrate the positives and not involve ourselves in the inevitable mudslinging which happens on occasions like these."Here in Harrogate we are the epicentre of the forthcoming UCI Cycling Event and we offer our support to Welcome to Yorkshire to ensure this event fulfils the many hours of planning by the whole Welcome to Yorkshire Team. "
Sir Gary has agreed to voluntarily reimburse Welcome to Yorkshire for "monies owed", the statement said. In his own statement, Sir Gary apologised and asked for "time and space to heal".
He said: “Over the last ten and a half years I have always tried to set the highest standards of personal performance and leadership. "Where this has been achieved, I am grateful and when, on occasions, I have fallen short, I apologise. "My health is now my main priority. I ask for time and space to heal. It has been an honour and a privilege to lead such an inspirational organisation and work with such a creative and talented team. “I know that Welcome to Yorkshire will continue to go from strength to strength and achieve many fantastic things over the coming years.”
Welcome to Yorkshire thanked Sir Gary for his "commitment and energy" during his time at the tourism agency.
The organisation said: "Sir Gary has led the transformation of Yorkshire’s profile, most notably through the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 2014 and the subsequent legacy of the Tour de Yorkshire, which have significantly boosted the county’s economy. We wish him well for the future.”