The Tories scraped to a majority of councillors on the new North Yorkshire Council by winning 52 per cent of the authority’s 90 seats – substantially down on the 76 per cent of seats the party previously held on the region’s county council.
The results are not directly comparable as the new unitary authority is also replacing existing district and borough councils when it comes into full operation next year.
But in Harrogate, the Liberal Democrats became the biggest party in the town – winning 10 of the 21 seats which will represent it on the new unitary authority, while the Tories took nine after having majority control of the former district council for more than a decade.
The election for the unitary authority saw Independent candidates secure 13 seats, Labour and the Liberal Democrats 12 each and the Green Party will be represented at the top tier of local government in the county for the first time with some five seats.
Deputy leader of the Conservative group Gareth Dadd said he felt the result reflected “a usual mid-term reaction” to a government. “I’m delighted that we have secured an overall majority, but above anything else we can move forward with certainty and deliver the savings and, hopefully, devolution, that the sub-region deserves.”
The leader of the Independent group, Stuart Parsons, said: “At least we are no longer in a one-party state.”
Elsewhere in the region, Oliver Coppard was elected as South Yorkshire mayor, replacing fellow Labour politician Dan Jarvis, who has stepped down to concentrate on his Parliamentary duties as Barnsley Central MP.
Mr Coppard said the Prime Minister had failed to deliver on his levelling up promises to the region and called for tangible investment in South Yorkshire.
“My message to Boris Johnson and the government in London is this: things have to change. Enough is enough. Sleight of hand is no replacement for substance, spin no replacement for support. Our communities deserve better.”
It was a mixed picture for Labour in other parts of the region. While the party lost control of Hull Council to the Liberal Democrats, it did win back a majority on Kirklees Council.
However, its national message that the results represented a “turning point” was undermined by an announcement that Sir Keir Starmer is to be re-investigated by Durham Police over a potential breach of Covid regulations after the force said “significant new information” had been received over what is being termed ‘Beergate’.
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