Second senior resignation in a week at tourism agency

Nicky Chance-Thompson DL, chief executive of the Piece Hall has resigned from the beleaguered tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, just days after its chief executive James Mason announced he was leaving the organisation next month, first to expand the dementia cafe he helped launch in Bradford in 2018 before starting a new role in the new year.

Chance-Thompson sat on the board of Welcome to Yorkshire, joining in May 2020, and also chaired its Tourism Recovery Taskforce as well as being a director and ambassador. Her resignation email is reported to have said that she felt “uncomfortable ” with the way  allegations against James Mason  – who is reported to be under investigation for an unspecified complaint but denies any and all wrongdoing – but also with the way the complaint was “raised and the process and series of actions that followed”.

Her resignation added alongside concerns about how “the Governance Committee findings on the matter appear to have been dismissed, without the board having the opportunity to properly consider them”, she was also “deeply concerned about the continuous leaks to the media, and the impact that has had on the organisation and our collective reputation”.

Welcome to Yorkshire has faced a difficult two years, with the tourism industry being hit hard by the pandemic in 2020 just as Mason came into post tasked with guiding the organisation towards steadier waters while drastically reducing costs. His appointment came as he described it when the tourism body was “battered and bruised” following a very public inquisition into how the organisation operated and Mason’s predecessor.

Since then body which was founded to support the tourism industry in Yorkshire has also faced a number of challenges regarding its future funding and events, warning at one point that it could be forced to close its doors if local authorities can’t guarantee an additional £1.4m of funding.

It’s lauded cycle event, the Tour de Yorkshire, was also cancelled for the third year in a row earlier this month, with the organisation’s chair, Peter Box noting: “The last 18 months have seen turbulent times for many businesses and for tourism, with financial restrictions which must be addressed and considered in all decision-making processes.”

Chance-Thompson’s resignation said that her decision to leave Welcome to Yorkshire came following emergency discussions with the chair of The Piece Hall Trust and other advisers, and that she had joined because of her “genuine passion to promote this great county” and to “support the [tourism] sector as we emerge from the pandemic”.

Concluding: “I wish the organisation well in whatever shape or form it takes in the future.”

A Welcome to Yorkshire spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Nicky Chance-Thompson has today resigned from the Welcome to Yorkshire board.

“Welcome to Yorkshire wish to thank Ms Chance-Thompson for her contribution since joining the board in May 2020.

“Welcome To Yorkshire are disappointed that Ms Chance-Thompson was not able to stay and support the organisation and staff through this difficult period and wish her well for the future.”

The spokesperson added that Welcome to Yorkshire’s board will meet on Thursday 30th September for an “informal discussion” around the next steps following Mason’s resignation, highlighting that “it is not a formal board meeting”, with an interim board meeting set to be confirmed for October.