VIDEO: ELECTION 2013 Jean Butterfield and Richard Cooper

Harrogate Conservatives have taken the town’s central ward from the Liberal Democrats winning by just 11 votes in the county council elections.

That party gained two seats in Harrogate Central with Richard Cooper and Jean Butterfield, meaning the Liberal Democrats lost their two seats.

They beat incumbent Liberal Democrat John Fox as well as the Lib Dem’s second candidate James Monaghan standing after John Marshall retired.

It was an extremely close race with two recounts needed to verify the results.

In the end, Coun Cooper and Butterfield won with 1585 and 1550 votes respectively. John Fox got 1539 losing out by just 11, and the second Liberal Democrat candidate James Monaghan gained 1330 votes.

A visibly upset Mr Fox blamed his loss on the struggles of the Liberal Democrats nationally. He said:

“I want to thank all the Lib Dem team for their hard work and support.

“It was a really hard campaign by everyone who stood.

“My ward has a lot of people in it who are on benefits and at the end of the day people wanted to protest.

“Because the Lib Dems are in government and because of national trends, no matter how hard we worked locally it was always going to be decided by what is happening nationally.”

UKIP candidates Gregory Peter and Adrian Buckley scored around 650 votes each.

See nexct week’s paper for interview and reaction.