Local elections 2022: Conservatives field full slate of 'experienced' candidates for Harrogate district

Harrogate's Conservatives say they are fielding a full slate of "experienced" candidates in the 5 May elections to the new North Yorkshire Council.
Left to right: Current councillors Matt Scott, Mike Chambers and Graham Swift are amongst the 21 Conservatives standing for election.Left to right: Current councillors Matt Scott, Mike Chambers and Graham Swift are amongst the 21 Conservatives standing for election.
Left to right: Current councillors Matt Scott, Mike Chambers and Graham Swift are amongst the 21 Conservatives standing for election.

The Tories are the only party to contest all 21 seats which will represent the Harrogate district on the new unitary authority - and all but two of their candidates are currently serving as borough or county councillors.

Although the party has long held majority control over Harrogate, it has faced recent criticism over its record on areas including planning and cutting congestion.

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And with the elections coming amid the cost-of-living crisis and after the dent to Boris Johnson’s popularity from the partygate scandal, local opposition parties and independents are seeing next month's vote as a golden opportunity to gain ground.

Yet the Conservatives have expressed confidence in their local election campaign and have pledged to continue investing in services across North Yorkshire if elected.

A party spokesperson said: "The Conservatives are fielding an experienced slate of candidates. This is important as we argue the case for local services with settlements from Selby to Richmond and Whitby to Settle.

"That case includes continued investment in local services that has seen a new pool in Ripon and the start of a new pool and leisure centre in Knaresborough.

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"We are investing in the Hydro to provide more leisure facilities for local people.

"We need to continue the investment in our conference centre adapting it to the modern conference and exhibition industry. The centre underpins thousands of jobs across the district and brings in an estimated £29m to the local economy.

"This emphasis on tourism runs alongside investment in market town regeneration initiatives such as the Business Improvement District in Ripon and bringing long-term empty shops on Knaresborough High Street back into use."

Improving the energy efficiency of public and private homes is another priority for the Conservatives, as well as tree-planting and the installation of electric vehicle charging points.

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The Tories also highlighted their record on recycling and have promised further support for social care and community groups as part of their campaign.

The party spokesperson said: "Our recycling is among the least contaminated in the country, meaning almost everything we put out for recycling is actually recycled. In some places contamination is much higher and recycling is put into landfill or incinerated.

"We will trial using a wheeled bin recycling system this year combined with an education programme to ensure contamination rates stay low.

"We will continue to invest in public health and social care, supporting a strategy of wanting residents to start well, live well and age well and retain our commitment to support our homelessness services.

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"Supporting community hubs like Nidd Plus and the Masham Hub will be essential for local services and voluntary rural transport schemes.

"We will champion the voluntary sector by persuading the new authority to retain grants for groups such as the International Festivals and other cultural venues.

"We will also continue our support for the Harrogate District Local Fund which has raised tens of thousands for local good causes."

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The most notable name missing from the Conservative's list of candidates is Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council and county councillor, who last year announced he would not stand for re-election.

Included in those who are standing, there are only two Tory candidates who do not currently sit on the borough council or North Yorkshire County Council.

These are former borough councillor Nathan Hull who is aiming to win the Washburn and Birstwith division, and Thomas Averre who is contesting Ripon Minster and Moorside.

Borough council deputy leader Graham Swift is competing for the Coppice Valley and Duchy division, while Sam Gibbs is standing for the Valley Gardens and Central Harrogate seat.

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Paul Haslam and Matt Scott - who both currently represent the Bilton area - are competing for the Bilton and Nidd Gorge, and Bilton Grange and New Park divisions respectively.

Boroughbridge and Claro will be contested by Robert Windass, while Sue Lumby is standing in Fairfax and Starbeck.

Tim Myatt, cabinet member for planning on the borough council, has been nominated for High Harrogate and Kingsley, and Steven Jackson is competing for the Harlow and St Georges division.

Michael Harrison - who is a borough councillor and executive member for adult services and health on the county council - is standing in Killinghall, Hampsthwaite and Saltergate.

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In Knaresborough, Ed Darling is standing to represent an eastern division, while Phil Ireland, cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability on the borough council, wants to win a western division.

In Ripon, Mike Chambers, county councillor and cabinet member for housing and safer communities on the borough council, is competing for the Ure Bank division.

Stanley Lumley, who is also a county councillor and cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport on the borough council, is standing in Pateley Bridge and Nidderdale.

Margaret Atkinson, who is also a county councillor and borough councillor, is the Conservative candidate for Masham and Fountains.

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John Mann is another dual-hatted councillor and is standing in Oatlands and Pannal.

Richard Musgrave sits on Selby District Council and the county council. He is competing for the Ouseburn division which includes the parishes of Cattal.

Spofforth with Lower Wharfedale and Tockwith will be contested by Andrew Paraskos, who is cabinet member for environment, waste reduction and recycling on the borough council, while John Ennis is standing in the Stray, Woodlands and Hookstone division.

The final Conservative candidate is Nick Brown who is aiming to win Wathvale and Bishop Monkton.

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Those elected will serve one year on North Yorkshire County Council before transitioning to the new council in April 2023 when the existing county and district councils will be abolished.

The deadline to register to vote has passed and those on the electoral register should have received a polling card or letter during the last two weeks in March.

Polling stations will open from 7am to 10pm on election day.

Those who are unable to vote in person can apply to vote by post or proxy.

For more information go to www.harrogate.gov.uk/voting-elections/county-elections

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter