Knaresborough Scriven Park by-election: Your candidates questioned

Knaresborough Scriven Park residents will head to the polls next Thursday to elect a new borough and town councillor.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 4:37 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd July 2021, 12:43 pm
Knaresborough. Photo: Gerard Binks.

There are four candidates contesting for the seat on Harrogate Borough Council which has been left vacant following the resignation of Conservative councillor Samantha Mearns who last month announced she had stepped down due to family reasons.

Those in the running for the 29 July election include Conservative candidate Jaqui Renton, a former landlady of The Union pub in Knaresborough, as well as Sharon-Theresa Calvert, who has been nominated as the Labour candidate after previously standing for a Knaresborough seat on North Yorkshire County Council in 2017.

Hannah Gostlow, a serving Knaresborough town councillor, will stand for the Liberal Democrats and is collaborating her campaign with the local Green Party which has not made a nomination.

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Jaqui Renton, Conservative.

The final name on the list is Harvey Alexander, a UKIP member who earlier this year stood as an independent to become a county councillor for the Bilton and Nidd Gorge division in Harrogate.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service quizzed each candidate on their priorities and asked why they think they should get your vote.

Here is what they said.

Jaqui Renton, Conservative

Hannah Gostlow, Liberal Democrat.

This election is about ensuring we have an active, local voice speaking up for local people on our councils. I am standing because I want to take my positive community action to that next level.

I was raised in Knaresborough. I went to Aspin Park Primary School and King James School. My children went to those schools too.

Living here, I use the same shops, roads and services that you do; you can be assured that I want to get the best for our community because it is my community too.

I have a record of positive action. I’ve worked with Andrew Jones MP and Knaresborough councillors to make a difference to our wonderful town, whether it’s tackling speeding on Boroughbridge Road, acting on anti-social behaviour on the Sovereign Fold estate, getting damaged street nameplates replaced and streetlights repaired or making sure residents have their say on housing.

Sharon-Theresa Calvert, Labour.

I am putting a positive message out there about what I can do for our community; I am not pulling my opponents down.

My top priority is to keep working for more investment in Knaresborough.

We’re getting huge investment in terms of the new leisure centre, the renovation of long empty high street shops, rail improvements, refurbishment at Conyngham Hall, in our thriving market and new tree-planting for our environment.

I think that’s great, but I also think it’s only the start.

Harvey Alexander, UKIP.

Ours is a fantastic town that we should be rightly proud of – but that’s not to say it can’t be even better.

Hannah Gostlow, Liberal Democrat

I am committed to Knaresborough and have been a dedicated Knaresborough town councillor for the last six years.

If elected, I would use my experience to get off to a flying start.

I feel one of the biggest assets to our town is our fantastic community, community groups and events. I will continue to work hard to support them, as they support us to live healthier and happier lives.

My priorities would be to make sure that the views of our town’s residents are being properly heard and ensure that Harrogate Borough Council engages in a serious and constructive way with all of us, about the important decisions that affect our community.

I will do everything in my power to fight the government’s proposal to loosen planning rules, and to keep consultation with the community a priority.

As a pedestrian, cyclist and mother of two young children I am aware of the many problems on our congested and polluted roads, and I will fight to make these a cleaner safer space for all users.

I will support Knaresborough Town Council's attempts to safeguard the future of our weekly market, and I will work alongside our community to take appropriate action on crime and antisocial behaviour.

As a Knaresborough town councillor I have always tried hard to champion environmental issues as this echoes my own personal values.

I am grateful that the local Green Party has decided to support us in this by-election.

Sharon-Theresa Calvert, Labour

I have lived in Scriven Park for nearly 40 years and my father is from Knaresborough.

Decisions made at Knaresborough Town Council and Harrogate Borough Council affect us all and are often made by out of town and unfortunately, out of touch councillors.

I will commit to providing the best representation I can for our local community.

I am a special needs teacher and was chair of Knaresborough Dementia Friendly Community.

As a national executive member for the NASUWT, I am used to dealing with casework and to negotiating with multiple agencies at a national level, I want to do this for our town! I also sit on the TUC Women’s Committee promoting the rights of women who have borne the brunt during the pandemic.

I will be a local voice for a local community, make sure what you say is heard, fight for fairness and equality for all, and ensure you get a clean and green environment which we all deserve. Think globally, act locally.

I will engage with local residents, listen and take up their concerns - I am dedicated to the people of Knaresborough.

I will not make empty promises and I will serve with honesty, transparency and integrity.

I know we will see the same old slogan ‘Labour cannot win here’ but we can and we have a tradition of Scriven Park being Labour.

A new Labour voice is needed on Knaresborough Town Council and on Harrogate Borough Council - please make that voice mine.

Harvey Alexander, UKIP

The reason I am standing in this Knaresborough Scriven Park by-election is because I am continuing my campaign against a lack of speed camera warning signs in North Yorkshire.

The idea of speed cameras are for people's safety and to get people to obey the law by using warning signs. North Yorkshire Police are not interested in this, all they want to do is catch people speeding.

When they were first introduced in North Yorkshire, speed cameras were used to stop motorcyclists roaring through the Dales. But the fact is they don't use them in the Dales, they use them on busy main roads without warnings.

I have been campaigning against this for over 15 years and I would use my position as councillor as a platform to promote safety and saving lives.

My other concerns are the high cost of house prices and the fact that young people are finding it unaffordable to buy a home.

Our authorities seem to have no regard for young people's needs. They are building thousands of new expensive homes but there is no thought about where young people are going to live and work.

I believe UKIP is still relevant and I should appeal to a wide, diverse section of the public, especially those interested in road safety.

Win or lose in this election, I would like members of the public to support me for safer roads and better ways of stopping motorists speeding.

Are any other elections being held?

Former councillor Samantha Mearns was also a member of Knaresborough Town Council and voting to fill this seat will take place on the same day as the borough council by-election.

There are three candidates for this vote, including Jaqui Renton (Conservatives), Sharon-Theresa Calvert (Labour) and Andy Bell (Liberal Democrats).

The last time elections were held for the Knaresborough Scriven Park seat on the borough council in 2018, Conservative Samantha Mearns won with 457 votes just ahead of Liberal Democrat Matthew Walker (441 votes) and Labour's Andrew Wright (291 votes).

The turnout was 36% of 3,266 eligible voters.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter