Harrogate Lib Dems says we can do it here after shock Tory defeat in Chesham by-election

Harrogate's Lib Dem leader says the party's shock victory over the Tories in last week's by-election should serve as a warning over planning policy on housing in this district.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 11:00 am
Coun Pat Mash claimed the size of the swing to the Lib Dems in the Chesham and Amersham by-election suggested hopes of repeating the feat in Harrogate were now a distinct possibility.

And Coun Pat Mash claimed the size of the swing to the Lib Dems in the Chesham and Amersham by-election suggested hopes of repeating the feat at the next General Election in Harrogate were now a distinct possibility.

Harrogate Borough Council's Tory leader has hit back already, saying recent results in Harrogate itself made this a hollow claim and that Harrogate Lib Dems had previously voted for the town's policies on new housing developments as outlined in the Local Plan.

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But leader of the Lib Dem Group on Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Marsh claimed the shock by-election result would be a game-changer.

Coun Marsh said: "Our huge triumph in Chesham and Amersham has shown that the Liberal Democrats are a serious and credible opposition to this Conservative party.

“Many Conservative MPs are now looking over their shoulders and there is no reason why Harrogate & Knaresborough should be any different.

“A significant factor in the by-election was the government’s proposed changes to the planning system which are deeply unpopular.

"If these changes are introduced communities in Harrogate & Knaresborough will find it even harder to control development.

"The voters of Chesham and Amersham gave their verdict. I am sure the voters of Harrogate and Knaresborough will do the same.”

The Liberal Democrats say their huge triumph the Chesham and Amersham by-election would see some 154 seats across the country flip to the party after they sent shockwaves through the Tory blue wall.

Requiring just an 8.5% swing, Harrogate & Knaresborough is one of those 154 constituencies that would turn Liberal Democrat at an election.

This compares to the 25% swing in Chesham and Amersham which saw the Liberal Democrats elect their 12th MP Sarah Green.

Coun Pat Marsh says the 25% from Chesham and Amersham has put blue wall seats like Harrogate & Knaresborough “on notice” with the Liberal Democrats being the leading opposition to the Conservatives.

But Harrogate Borough Council's Tory leader Coun Richard Cooper said: “Just weeks ago the Conservatives gained a county council seat in Bilton from the Liberal Democrats in a by election.

"Some might regard this as a good barometer of local opinion and not, therefore, providing the springboard for any kind of electoral resurgence locally for the Liberal Democrats.

“On housing development, Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors voted together in favour the council’s Local Plan – the blueprint for development in our area.

"Given that record, and given the fact that nationally the Liberal Democrats support more housing development, it is slightly odd now to see them condemning policies for which they voted.

"But I suppose that’s politics.”

The Harrogate Liberal Democrats say they are now winning against the Conservatives nationally.

2021 has seen the party gain a host of local council seats and councils from the Tories.

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