Ex-Labour candidate joins Harrogate Lib Dems as party has 'failed to connect with voters'
A former Labour candidate who would have become North Yorkshire County Council's youngest councillor if elected has quit the party to join the Liberal Democrats.
Tyler Reeton 19, said he had made the decision with a "heavy heart" and because Labour has "failed to connect with voters up and down the country".
In a statement posted on Twitter, he said: "This hasn't been an easy decision for me to make because I have been a Labour Party member since 2015 and I joined the party when I was just 14-years-old.
"The people behind the local Labour Party are fantastic individuals who have passion for togetherness and fairness and my decision to leave the party is not a personal one."
Mr Reeton, a former Harrogate Grammar School student and aspiring solicitor, represented Labour in his first election in May when he stood to become councillor for the Bilton and Nidd Gorge division on North Yorkshire County Council.
He came in third place with 434 votes, behind Liberal Democract's Andrew Kempston-Parkes who placed second with 1,639 votes and Conservative Matt Scott who won with 1,991 votes.
Mr Reeton added: "I have had time to reconsider my values and principles in politics and I have decided that the Liberal Democrats and their passion for local people inspires me.
"It is these thoughts that were emphasised during the Bilton and Nidd Gorge by-election where I was the Labour Party candidate.
"The national Labour Party refused to listen to their members and their candidates and failed to connect with voters up and down the country.
"I would like to say thank you to the Labour team who helped to support and back my by-election campaign in Bilton and I hope one day Labour can work with the Liberal Democrats to establish a progressive alliance.
"I look forward to beginning a new political chapter as a Liberal Democrat and making an impact on my local community."
The Harrogate and Knaresborough Labour party said in a statement: "We are always sad to see members leave, but Tyler was only active within the local Labour Party for a short time.
"However, our current focus is on supporting Sharon Calvert in next week’s by-elections who will be an excellent Labour Councillor in Knaresborough Scriven Park."
The political map of Harrogate is dominated by Conservatives with only seven out of 39 councillors belonging to the opposition Liberal Democrat party on the borough council.
There are also two Ripon Independents and no Labour councillors on the authority.
It is a similar picture at North Yorkshire County Council which has eight North Yorkshire Independent councillors, four Labour members, three Liberal Democrats and three unaffiliated independents.
The other 44 councillors are all Conservatives.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter