Independents hold sway at Ripon

EVER since 1974 the people of Ripon have complained that they were poorly treated by Harrogate Borough Council. Now they have a non-political voice which gives them bargaining power in how the authority is run.

The elections have left Independent councillors led by Andrew Williams holding all 15 seats on Ripon City Council and six seats on the borough council - a hung authority with no single party in control.

Now Coun Williams, who is likely to be the Mayor elect of Ripon, is expecting to hold talks with the Conservatives, who hold 25 seats, and possibly even his former colleagues in the Liberal Democrats, who gained one seat to have 23.

Making no secret of the fact that he regarded the six Independents as being at the crux of power, Coun Williams said: "We will be having discussions over the weekend in view of the fact that the council is quite clearly going to be hung.

"We have a shopping list which is huge, which we obviously want to see resolved in Ripon's favour. Hence the reason why the people supported the Independents with such a huge majority."

One of the seats that fell to the Independents was Ripon Spa, which had been held by Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Freeman for 16 years. It was taken by Peter Horton with a majority of 171.

Coun Williams said: "It is quite clear that the people of Ripon want to be represented by people who have the interests of the city at heart and not the interests of a political party."

Although the British National Party had 15 candidates they received a total of 1,624 votes and were pushed into at least third place in every seat contested. The UK Independence Party's two candidates did even worse - polling 77 votes and 55 votes.

The Liberal Democrats gained one seat from the Conservatives in Harrogate and another in Knaresborough. Andrew Parkes defeated Robin Adderley by a 102 majority in Bilton and Jean Burdett claimed the King James's seat previously held for the Tories by Diane Smith who did not stand.

Results in full