David Parkin on Sir Gary Verity and getting shirty

David Parkin on Sir Gary Verity and getting shirty

THERE is no getting away from the big news of the last seven days. It all surrounded a larger than life figure with many fans, a good number of detractors and an ability to attract a huge amount of publicity and also some controversy. Most of us were shocked, some were upset, others verging on the celebratory at the news. And I know I can’t avoid writing about it. Yes, the launch of Marmite Peanut Butter. Who would have thought we were missing that from our lives? Anyway, the other news was the shock departure of Sir Gary Verity from tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire. It was announced last Friday evening that the man behind the audacious and outrageously successful bid to bring the Grand Départ of the Tour de France to Yorkshire in 2014 had resigned on health grounds from the role he had held for a decade. He left after concerns were raised over his behaviour towards staff and his expenses. An investigation by the board of Welcome to Yorkshire concluded that “Sir Gary made errors of judgement regarding his expenses at a very difficult time for him and his family”. He lost his younger sister Lindsay in January. Apparently he has agreed to voluntarily reimburse the organisation for “monies owed” which is said to be a five figure sum. A story followed in the Sunday Times which claimed to be an “investigation” into the tourism supremo. However it shed little new light on the claims of bullying against him and appeared more like an opportunity for some to settle old scores. I’ve known Gary for a...
David Parkin on a leisurely discussion, luxury hotels and a rose of hope

David Parkin on a leisurely discussion, luxury hotels and a rose of hope

NO the picture above isn’t a shot from the set of a new Yorkshire version of Mamma Mia. Although the bloke at front left does have a look of a young Pierce Brosnan. It is from an event we organised this week for financial recruitment firm Woodrow Mercer Finance at Trinity Kitchen, the street food experience at the Trinity shopping centre in Leeds. The Business of Leisure brought together a panel of four people working in completely different areas of this diverse and exciting sector. Peter Banks, is managing director of Rudding Park Hotel in Harrogate and has been a pivotal figure transforming the family-owned hotel into one of the finest luxury resorts in Yorkshire, boasting a £9.5m roof-top spa. When I asked Peter to take part in the panel event he told me he would be telling it like it is, deftly taking a verbal rapier to  the many challenges the hospitality industry faces, not least British young people’s distaste for working in the sector. Joining Peter on the panel was Phil Forster, external affairs manager at Leeds Bradford Airport Phil, who has worked as a press officer for Newcastle United and reporter for Sky Sports News, joined Leeds Bradford from Newcastle Airport a year ago following the appointment of David Laws as chief executive. The airport, which was sold by private equity firm Bridgepoint to Australian fund AMP Capital in 2017, is currently engaged in ambitious growth plans including adding new services, expanding the terminal and a longer term project to improve road and rail access. But Phil was quick to admit that it is still primarily...
David Parkin on Game of Thrones, balloons, bikes and cat flaps

David Parkin on Game of Thrones, balloons, bikes and cat flaps

FROM gold medal winning Olympians to David Bowie, the Kaiser Chiefs, chart toppers Rudimental and Game of Thrones. At a dinner for alumni of Leeds Beckett University last week I learned of the cultural, teaching, sporting and learning influence that the institution, dating back to 1824, has had. And given I received an honorary degree from the university in 2013, I’m in good company. The uni, which has its main campus in Headingley in Leeds and another base at the Rose Bowl building in the city centre, invited back honorary graduates for a dinner hosted by Chancellor Sir Bob Murray and Vice Chancellor Peter Slee. It was Bob, co-founder of bathroom manufacturer Spring RAM and the former chairman of Sunderland football club, who presented me with the honorary degree. I had met and interviewed Bob some years before and when I launched TheBusinessDesk.com he visited us soon after launch at our tiny offices to learn more and wish us well. But I’d always known he was a decent bloke as he was one of the very few people who Guy Martin-Laval used to speak highly of when they visited his restaurant, La Grillade. Even though diners used to spend large amounts in his Leeds establishment, Guy, as gallic as they come, used to view visitors as a bit of an imposition he had to try and grit his teeth and put up with. Back at Leeds Beckett, I learned that the dinner last week was the first they have held for alumni. Walking into the dining hall, the first two people I bumped into were veteran stockbroker Keith Loudon...
David Parkin joins Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran

David Parkin joins Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran

BEYONCE, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Coldplay. Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium has played host to some of the world’s biggest names in entertainment. This week it was my turn. Now admittedly, I didn’t appear in front of the size of crowd that Queen B and Jay Z are used to. And I didn’t whip my audience into the kind of frenzy that Take That can induce. But then again, they weren’t focusing on human resources and payroll services. I was at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester to host the Northern Business Forum for ADP. The US-based group is one of the global leaders in HR and payroll services and is listed on the NASDAQ market in New York and ranked at 248 in the Fortune 500. It’s UK operation is better known in the South of England and so this week’s event was part of ADP’s plans to raise its profile in the North. I met Matt Roberts of ADP years ago when we both worked in neighbouring offices in the Round Foundry Media Centre in Leeds. And so more than 10 years later, when he was looking to deliver a successful business forum he knew exactly who to call to host it. Fortunately they were engaged and I answered my phone. The event, in a smart second floor suite overlooking the lush Etihad pitch, featured two keynote speakers and a panel discussion which I chaired. The first speaker was Bob Brown, chief information officer at Manchester City Council. With his slick haircut, white teeth and sharp jacket and tie, Bob looks more like a Sky Sports presenter rather than  a...
David Parkin on a heavyweight meeting, Italian restaurants and a dog day afternoon

David Parkin on a heavyweight meeting, Italian restaurants and a dog day afternoon

WHEN it comes to stories of redemption, Tyson Fury’s is hard to beat. Seemingly on top of the world after improbably winning the world heavyweight title from long-serving champion Wladimir Klitschko, the self-titled Gipsy King’s fall from grace was rapid and shocking. Rightly vilified for making misogynistic and homophobic comments, he descended into a dark pit of drug taking and drinking and ballooned from his fighting weight of 18 stone to almost 28 stone, gave up his title and received a two-year anti-doping ban. Fury, who is as articulate as any sports person I’ve seen, has openly admitted that his long-term battle with mental illness is the reason for many of his problems. After two years of self-abuse he says that about a year ago he woke up one morning and decided he no longer wanted to be that man. He got treatment for his depression, trained hard, shed weight and had a forgettable comeback fight. It led to a match-up against heavy-hitting WBC champion Deontay Wilder in Los Angeles in December. Given the abyss in which he had been in, it was remarkable that Fury had got himself back to even stand in a ring and contest a world title. Most pundits predicted he would lose and just hoped he wouldn’t get badly hurt. Despite being knocked down, Fury outboxed the ferocious Wilder until the 12th round when he was flattened by a punch and lay motionless on the canvas. And then the 6ft 9in Fury rose to his feet and bounced lightly on his toes before the referee finished his count. He then boxed the rest of...