Harrogate's new Green councillor says election win was 'much more than a protest vote' against Tories

A new Green councillor in Harrogate has said his election victory was much more than a protest vote against the Conservatives.

By Jacob Webster
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 12:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 12:11 pm
Arnold Warneken was last week voted in as councillor for Ouseburn.
Arnold Warneken was last week voted in as councillor for Ouseburn.

Arnold Warneken last week became one of the first Green councillors to gain countywide representation as he comfortably beat Conservative Richard Musgrave by 742 votes to the Ouseburn seat on the new North Yorkshire Council.

Councillor Warneken said the electorate voted for his "integrity and honesty" rather than to punish the Tories for mistakes made in Westminster.

He said: "The smaller, minority parties have benefited from this election.

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"But I do not agree with what I was hearing from the Conservatives that these are protest votes.

"I got nearly 70% of the vote - that is not a protest vote. That is people looking for change.

"These people can now know their councillor will speak on their behalf and go back to them because one of the things I noticed whilst canvassing is that people really want to talk, and I really want to listen."

Councillor Warneken previously became the first ever Green councillor in the north of England when he was elected to Harrogate Borough Council in 1991 and so his victory last week marked a sensational return to local politics.

On Thursday, he was voted in as one of five Green councillors on North Yorkshire's new unitary authority which the Tories gained control of with a small majority.

Councillor Warneken added: "I'm hoping a Green voice on the new council will bring a different way of thinking and extend the responsibility of the existing county council towards issues such as climate projection, but also social injustices.

"I'm a strong councillor for wellbeing, health and education, and my different approach will bring good ideas to the council and save money at the same time."

In Harrogate, the Liberal Democrats have become the biggest party in the district after winning 10 seats on the new council, while the Conservatives took nine.

One Independent candidate was also voted in.

Looking across North Yorkshire, the Tories won 47 of the 90 available seats to secure a majority across the county, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats both took 12.

A total of 13 independent candidates were also elected, as well as one Liberal Party councillor.

The new councillors will serve one year on North Yorkshire County Council before the new unitary authority launches in April 2023.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter