Harrogate Conservatives and Lib Dems in spat over giant snow globe, social media influencers and leaflet printing

Harrogate’s Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have clashed in a row over their support for local businesses as election campaigns for the new North Yorkshire Council begin to heat up.

The spat started when Conservative councillor Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, criticised the Lib Dems for using a Scottish business to print leaflets which urged people to “buy local”.

The Tories also claimed the Lib Dems have used other printing companies in York and Chesterfield.

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Councillor Cooper said: “It is critical that we use local businesses where we can and there are a lot of good local printers who would have wanted this business.”

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In response, councillor Pat Marsh, leader of the Lib Dems, said the party “try and get the best value for money” when printing campaign material – “something Conservative-run Harrogate Council could learn from”.

She said: “They spent £5,000 on a giant snow globe that was displayed in London for two days over Christmas and £700 on social media influencers.

“This is on top of the £13 million they wasted on a council office for a council their own government is abolishing.”

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Councillor Marsh also said the Conservatives “should really have bigger things to be worrying about,” including the cost of living crisis and Russia-Ukraine war.

She added: “This is a particularly strange attack from the Conservatives who, during the pandemic, took £10,000 of grants to pay for their office.

“We think these grants should have been used to support local businesses, not on political party campaigns.

“Since they print a lot of their material at their office many people will be questioning whether their taxpayers money is helping to fund Conservative election leaflets.”

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The Conservative’s comments were posted on a website run by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones. They claimed all Conservative leaflets for the local election are printed in Knaresborough.

Councillor Cooper, who is employed by Mr Jones and not seeking re-election next month, added: “When you tell people you want to ‘buy local’ and ‘be greener’ you have to match your actions with words.”

Elections for the new North Yorkshire Council will take place on 5 May.