Trio resign from tourism group

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Leading lights of a group designed to promote Wetherby to visitors and residents have resigned this week after citing increasing bureaucracy from the town council.

Cindy Bentley, who was a founding member and chairman of Welcome to Wetherby, said she could no longer work with the increasing stipulations from the council and quit the group, along with colleagues Kazia Knight and Denise Podlewska.

Mrs Bentley told the Wetherby News of the moment that prompted her decision: “It was the amount of bureaucracy and the seeing red moment was when we were told that we had to sign a form before we could use our personal emails to one another.

“Before that we were told at a recent meeting that we could not make a decision unless there were at least two councillors present.

“It has always been a very relaxed group, loosely associated with the town council and then it was decided to regulate everything and became a sub-committee of the town council.

“It has changed the atmosphere of the group.”

Councillors Norma Harrington and Alan Lamb were assigned to the group, which was started in 2012 by Mrs Bentley to build on the highly successful Jubilee celebrations, and they were leading a review of the council’s input on the group after complaints were lodged by Mrs Bentley.

Mrs Bentley added: “One of the big things was that the social media was taken off Kazia.

“She set it all up and has been hugely successful with the number of followers but it has been taken over by the town clerk (Iona Taylor).

“At the last council meeting they did actually vote that Kazia could take it back but jointly with the town clerk.”

Since starting in 2012, the group of volunteers from across the community, has worked to put up tourism direction boards, organised the activity day at the High School and last year’s Town Open Day, along with Grand Depart celebrations.

Work was ongoing at the time of the resignation for events surrounding the UCI World Championships, which are heading for the town in September.

The Town Council confirmed in a statement to the News, that it had received the resignations of the three members but it would be driving forward its plans to welcome the world to Wetherby through the UCI event.

“The Town Council seeks to work to best practice standards for Local Councils at all times and is looking forward to taking the Welcome to Wetherby brand forward in accordance with that aspiration.

“It is an exciting time for the group as Wetherby prepares to Welcome the World in its role as a start venue for the Yorkshire 2019 Para-Cycling International Races.

“Welcome to Wetherby will continue to play a key role in those preparations which will help to place the town on the international sporting map.”

The statement added: “The Mayor, Coun Galan Moss, has written to thank them for their contributions to the team.

“Their efforts in developing the group provide an excellent foundation for the Town Council to build on in the future.”

But the spokesman explained that the Terms of Reference for all Wetherby Town Council’s committees were reviewed in late 2018/early 2019.

The spokesman added: “The Chairs of each committee were closely consulted on the terms of reference for their committee.

“The Chair of Welcome to Wetherby, Cindy Bentley, described the proposal for Welcome to Wetherby as “a fine piece of work”.

“After the election in May, WTC invited the three former (Independent) councillors to retain their roles on Welcome to Wetherby and invited former Coun Bentley to remain as Chair of the Committee.”

Mrs Bentley added: “The Town Council decided they wanted to hold onto the group.

“But a group like that works with flare and imagination and creativity and bureaucracy seems to stifle it.”

She added that she and Kazia and Denise still intended to promote the town and had started social media site under the banner of Window on Wetherby.

“We have already started up a new facebook and Twitter page called Window on Wetherby and will just wait until September and just what we are going to do.”