Make It York will continue to run the city’s tourism strategy, city centre events, and Shambles Market.
But the organisation will no longer lead on inward investment. City of York Council will return to spearheading this, and some MIY staff will be transferred back to the local authority.
The changes come after Make It York faced criticism over the past year, with some businesses backing a petition to close it down.
The now departed managing director Sean Bullick was a divisive figure, and hospitality leaders criticised the organisation’s response to the pandemic as too slow.
Now the council has drawn up a new service level agreement for the organisation, which would see it stripped of its lead role in inward investment role.
Make It York has not attracted any major new employers to the city in recent years.
In a survey 87% of stakeholders backed the idea of the council leading on this work.
“This is seen as particularly important given the need for a co-ordinated economic recovery post the pandemic,” a report to the council’s executive states.
Clash of priorities
Other responses to Make It York revealed in the survey included:
- it is is cliquey and only supports a small set of businesses
- a desire that it focuses on York residents as a key audience
- the lack of benefits to year-round traders of the Christmas Market
- concerns that the ‘stag and hen’ drinking culture was damaging York for residents and tourists at weekends.
The survey revealed the challenges caused by the original MIY business model, which dates from 2015. That made one of Make It York’s key priorities to generate funds for itself, most prominently by hiring out parts of the city centre to private traders.
“The focus on income generation inevitably creates a tension with collaborative working with other partners as well as with the pursuit of more strategic objectives,” the report states.
“Members will need to determine where an appropriate balance lies between the commercial aims of the company and broader strategic aims.
“Clearly, where this balance sits has financial implications for both Make it York and the council.”
Greg Dyke, chair of Make It York said: “The proposed new SLA with City of York Council focuses on the development of Make It York’s work supporting the city’s tourism industry, delivering the culture strategy, creating a world-class events programme and operating Shambles Market.
“With a clear strategic focus on these areas, we are in a strong position to help support York’s tourism, retail, hospitality and cultural sectors as we move into the next key stage of economic recovery.”
Details of staff changes and the financial implications have not yet been confirmed.