Watch: This was the moment Conservatives won Bilton and Nidd Gorge by-election

This is the moment Conservative Matt Scott was today elected as the new Bilton and Nidd Gorge county councillor.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 4:37 pm
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 4:52 pm

Councillor Scott, who already represents the area on Harrogate Borough Council, won the North Yorkshire County Council seat this morning by a margin of 352 votes ahead of second-placed Liberal Democrat candidate Andrew Kempston-Parkes

His victory marks a shift in power away from the Lib Dems who had previously won six out of eight county council elections in Bilton in the last 16 years.

Speaking after being announced as winner at the Pavilions of Harrogate today, councillor Scott said: “I’m very grateful to the people of Bilton and Nidd Gorge – it’s been a pleasure to serve as the Harrogate borough councillor in Bilton Woodfield since 2018.

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This was the scene as Conservative Matt Scott won the Bilton and Nidd Gorge by-election.

“It’s a real privilege to be the county councillor for Bilton and Nidd Gorge as well.”

The by-election was held following the death of Liberal Democrat councillor Geoff Webber who died in March after holding the seat since 2017.

There are two Bilton and Nidd Gorge seats on the county council, the other being held by Conservative Paul Haslam whose position was not up for election.

Councillor Scott won today with 1,991 votes, followed by Liberal Democrat Andrew Kempston-Parkes (1,639), Labour’s Tyler Reeton (434), Green Party’s Anrold Warneken (430), Yorkshire Party’s John Hall and , independent Harvey Alexander (46).

Voter turnout was 37.4% of eligible voters and there were 19 spoiled ballots.

Speaking today, Liberal Democrat Andrew Kempston-Parkes said he was “very sorry” the election result was “not what we hoped for”.

He added: “I look to my comrades in the Labour Party and my sisters and brothers in the Green Party and say as long as the parties of the centre and left continue to fight each other, Conservatives will continue to have power even though they get less than 50% of the vote.”

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Labour candidate Tyler Reeton gave a message to other young aspiring politicians and promised the party will “come back stronger”.

He said: “If you are young don’t be scared to run in politics. Politics is yours and you are the future generation. As a 19-year-old, I am honoured to have stood here today with rather strong competitors.

“The Labour Party is not going anywhere in Harrogate – we are going to come back stronger next year and we will win Bilton.”

The by-election was the only local council election held in the Harrogate district today.

A full election for all seats on North Yorkshire County Council was scheduled to take place but was cancelled because of the ongoing local government reorganisation.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter