Outrage as Conservatives push Harrogate Town Council plans back

21 Jul 2023

Conservatives on North Yorkshire Council voted yesterday to support last minute changes to plans for Harrogate Town Council.

Parts of Harrogate and Scarborough are the only places in North Yorkshire not already served by a Town or Parish Council. 

Last year North Yorkshire Council asked local residents in the unparished areas if they wanted a Town Council and the majority said yes. During a second round of consultation local residents supported the plan for each of the proposed 10 wards in Harrogate to be represented by two councillors each, with the exception of a single-councillor Saltergate ward.

The Town Council was to be formed for administrative purposes from April 2024, with the first elections on 2 May. These dates have now been scrapped.

Causing outrage amongst opposition Councillors, the Conservatives have now kicked these plans into the long grass and voted for a third round of consultation. 

Commenting Cllr Monika Slater said ““ Local residents have already been asked twice about their opinions on the formation of a Town Council for Harrogate.  The vast majority who responded to the consultation have been happy with the latest proposal. Now they are facing a lengthy delay for yet another round of consultation. This means more unnecessary costs being incurred by council tax payers.”

“To disregard the public's opinion without any clear justification is outrageous. It is a waste of time and money and shows that the ruling Conservative group have a total disregard for Harrogate and it’s residents.”

“At the same time as delaying the creation of a Town Council for Harrogate, the Conservative led Executive on North Yorkshire COuncil is pushing ahead with plans that give more power to Town Councils to manage local services. They seem determined for Harrogate to be at a disadvantage.”

Under the last minute plans put forward by the Conservatives there would be twice as many wards, each having one Councillor, not two as in the current plans. Excluding Saltergate, which remains as a one Councillor ward in each proposal. The Conservatives have raised concerns about two Councillors in one ward, despite this being the norm in Knaresborough and Northallerton Town Council and in Ripon City COuncil. 

Commenting Cllr Slater said It certainly seems that this latest plan, which only tinkers at the edges is just a means by which the Conservative Group can kick plans down the road, hoping not to have to face the electorate in Harrogate again before a General Election. Surely we must look to the success of Town Council’s around North Yorkshire, rather than seek to find a proposal that fits for the Conservative Group.”

Cllr Slater has written to North Yorkshrie Council Leader, Carl Les, to ask for clarification on timescales and the associated costs of another round of consultation.