Visit Harrogate's responsibility to be open and accountable

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Dear Harrogate Borough Council,
Tourism is one of Harrogate’s most important industries and yet prime responsibility for promoting the Harrogate district is no longer controlled by Harrogate Borough Council. Instead, it has been farmed out to an external body, Visit Harrogate, which appears to be unaccountable to the public.
This does not seem right as Visit Harrogate is partly funded by Harrogate’s Council Tax-payers; and therefore, it seems reasonable that the affairs of Visit Harrogate should comply with Harrogate Council’s own commitment to be open, transparent and fully accountable.
As such, I wish to ask the following questions:
1) Please state the sum of money Harrogate Council paid Visit Harrogate by way of an annual grant for the financial year 2017-2018; and the proposed sum for the financial year 2018-19?
2) Can you explain in what circumstances and by what method Visit Harrogate is accountable to Harrogate Council? Can you also confirm whether the public has any opportunity to directly question Visit Harrogate’s Chief Executive or its Board members?
3) Can you confirm by what method members of the Visit Harrogate Board are chosen; whether any of them are elected by the general public; and the duration of their term of office?
4) Can you confirm whether the Chairman of Visit Harrogate has a duty to impartially promote the Harrogate district as a whole and not be seen to favour particular companies and organisations by any means including writing articles which might appear to support individual commercial outlets?

Yours faithfully,

Peter Lilley

Helen Suckling, Harrogate Borough Council

Dear Mr Lilley

 

Thank you for your email which we received on 11 January 2018.   We are
treating this as a request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. This means that —

 

•           if we need more information about what you want, we will
contact you again as soon as we can; the twenty working days in which to
give you the information will start once we know exactly what you want

•           if we do not hold the information, we will, if we can,
transfer your request to an authority who does hold it, and tell you what
we have done (please contact us immediately if you do not want us to do
this); otherwise, we will let you know that we do not hold the information

•           if we hold the information and there is no reason to withhold
it, we will send it to you as soon as we can.  If there is likely to be a
delay for any reason, we will let you know

•           if we believe that there is a good reason why the information
should not be disclosed, we will let you know as much as we can about how
we reached our decision

 

We will respond to your request promptly, and in any event, within the 20
day working limit as set out in s10 of the Act.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Helen Suckling

Tourism & Visitor Economy Manager/Dept FOI Co-ordinator

Culture, Tourism & Sports, Harrogate Borough Council

* Harrogate Tourist Information Centre, Royal Baths, Crescent Road,
Harrogate HG1 2WJ

(01423 500600 ext 58638

8 [1][email address]

 

 

 

 

 

                                                 

 

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Helen Suckling, Harrogate Borough Council

Dear Mr

 

Thank you for your email received by the Council on 11 January 2018
requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘FOIA’)
relating to Visit Harrogate’s responsibility to be open and accountable

 

In response, please find below the information from Harrogate Borough
Council:

 

 

1)             Please state the sum of money Harrogate Council paid Visit
Harrogate by way of an annual grant for the financial year 2017-2018; and
the proposed sum for the financial year 2018-19?

 

Visit Harrogate has received grant payments totalling £105,000 in
financial year 2017/18, made up of:

 

£50,000 Annual Grant 2017/18

£55,000 Project Grant 2017/18

 

The same amount of grant funding is planned for financial year 2018/19

 

 

2)             Can you explain in what circumstances and by what method
Visit Harrogate is accountable to Harrogate Council?

 

Visit Harrogate’s grant funding is subject to funding agreements and
objectives which are monitored on a monthly basis.

 

Two elected members of HBC sit on the Visit Harrogate board, the cabinet
member for Culture, Tourism and Sport and one opposition member.

 

Wallace Sampson, HBC Chief Executive is an observer  to the business of
the Visit Harrogate Board

 

 

3)             Can you also confirm whether the public has any opportunity
to directly question Visit Harrogate’s Chief Executive or its Board
members?

 

Welcome to Harrogate Limited (trading as Visit Harrogate) is a private
company limited by guarantee and as such it is for Visit Harrogate to
determine its arrangements for dealing with questions from the public.

 

4)             Can you confirm by what method members of the Visit
Harrogate Board are chosen; whether any of them are elected by the general
public; and the duration of their term of office?

 

As a private limited company, Visit Harrogate is responsible for the
appointment of members to the board by whatever method they choose, as
detailed in its articles of association.

 

Two elected councillors sit on the Visit Harrogate board (see 2 above).

 

 

 

5)             Can you confirm whether the Chairman of Visit Harrogate has
a duty to impartially promote the Harrogate district as a whole and not be
seen to favour particular companies and organisations by any means
including writing articles which might appear to support individual
commercial outlets?

 

 

How the Chair of Visit Harrogate discharges their duties and
responsibilities is with the individual themselves to decide, and they are
solely accountable to the Visit Harrogate Board.

 

If you are not satisfied with the way your request has been handled,
please contact -  

 

Freedom of Information Officer, PO Box 787, Harrogate, HG1 9RW

 

or email [1][Harrogate Borough Council request email]

 

The Council has an internal appeal system.  If your complaint is about the
decision which has been made you will usually be entitled to have your
case reviewed by an officer from a department which has not been involved
in the decision previously.   

 

If, after their decision, you are still not happy, you may appeal to-  

 

The Information Commissioner

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF

Tel: 0303 123 1113

website: [2]https://ico.org.uk/

 

Yours sincerely

 

Helen Suckling

Tourism & Visitor Economy Manager/Dept FOI Co-ordinator

Culture, Tourism & Sports, Harrogate Borough Council

* Harrogate Tourist Information Centre, Royal Baths, Crescent Road,
Harrogate HG1 2WJ

(01423 500600 ext 58638

8 [3][email address]

 

                                              

 

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