At the Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee, on 12th January 2024, a statement was submitted by a number of local community groups - Harrogate Residents Association, Granville Road Residents Group, Independent Harrogate - which called for an election to form a Harrogate Town Council to be held in May 2024, as originally planned.
Last year Conservative controlled North Yorkshire Council decided to defer the inaugural Town Council elections to May 2025, wishing to further consult on the number of councillors per division - despite having already spent over £90,000 on two previous lengthy public consultations, which showed over 70% of those responding in favour of a Harrogate Town Council,
During the course of the meeting, Cllr Chris Aldred, High Harrogate & Kingsley, commented saying that it shouldn’t be for North Yorkshire Council to decide what powers Harrogate Town Council would have, and that a Town Council needs to be formed and elected first, with those elected deciding on what powers & resources they wish the new Town Council to pursue, having put their ideas forward in their election manifestos.
After the meeting Councillor Chris Aldred added:
“There are perfectly good proposals and plans for a town council right now, which could be elected alongside the North Yorkshire & York Mayor this May. Pushing the election back until 2025 will incur an unnecessary cost and leave all of us living in Harrogate with a democratic deficit - Harrogate & Scarborough are the only Towns in the County not having a Town Council to speak on their behalf - everywhere else does.
"The Conservatives say one thing, that they want decisions taken locally, but their actions simply do not show this. If they were really worried about the numbers of councillors per ward, they could have already consulted on this, as I actually asked them to do this time last year. "
There are no elections scheduled for 2025, meaning that the the election of Harrogate Town Council would require residents to trudge to the polls for potentially the third time in 12 months. The local Liberal Democrats have routinely said they would like to see a Harrogate Town Council set up as soon as possible.
Following the meeting Cllr Pat Marsh, Chair of the Lib Dem controlled Area Constituency Committee, added:
“When we are speaking with local businesses and residents they keep telling us they feel North Yorkshire Council is too remote and too distant.
"The Conservatives pushed through local government reorganisation that was not needed, or wanted, and are now trying to retain powers in Northallerton. It is shocking.
“Local residents shouldn’t have to wait another year for representation, all because the Conservatives are scared of losing yet more elections.”