Ukip falls away as Conservatives extend county council majority

THE CONSERVATIVES tightened their grip on North Yorkshire County Council as the UK Independence Party disappeared from the authority.

Andrew Paraskos celebrates winning the Ainsty seat on NYCC for the Conservatives .

The ruling Conservatives emerged from the county elections with 55 seats, an increase of 10.

The Tories’ share of the vote also increase from 40 per cent in 2013 to more than 50 per cent this year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Greens went into the county elections hoping to secure their first seat on the back of anger over the decision by County Hall last year to allow an energy firm to use the controversial fracking mining method to be used at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale.

Falsgrave and Stepney was considered the Greens’ best hope but candidate David Malone but he fell 70 votes short of Liz Melling who held onto it for Labour.

Labour overall fell from seven seats to four.

Conservative group leader Carl Les, who is expected to continue as council leader, said: “I think it is a very satisfying result. It validates the fact that North Yorkshire has been served by a county council that has been Conservative for 20 years.”

The increase in Conservative councillors comes despite four years of implementing budget savings as, in common with other authorities, financial support from central government is reduced.

Coun Les continued: “Austerity isn’t over yet, we still have to make savings but I am pleased we have managed to make savings without impacting on frontline services that many residents depend on.”

Looking ahead, Coun Les said: “We need to do something about health and adult services in terms of better integration as 40 per cent of our budget is now spent on adult social care.

“Around 25 per cent of our population is 65 years and over which is great for them and their familes but as people get older their needs get more complex.”

Coun Les said the authority would continue with its broadband connection programme and would pursue better east-west transport connections, notably upgrades to the A59 at Kex Gill and the duelling of the A64.

He indicated that the authority shares “some of the concerns” expressed during the campaign about fracking but stressed the matter was governed by planning rules.

Coun Les said the best way to strengthen the council’s approach to fracking was through the mineral and waste plan currently under consultation.

The UK Independence Party enjoyed a breakthrough in North Yorkshire four years as it secured two seats in the Harrogate Bilton and Nidd Gorge and Filey divisions.

Harrogate Bilton and Nidd Gorge Ukip councillor David Simister stood down at the election and the party’s candidate Bob Frendt polled just 378 votes.

In Filey, Ukip councillor Sam Cross was much closer to retaining his seat, losing out to Conservative candidate Helen Swiers by just 27 votes.

He said: “I feel sorry for the people of Filey. People aren’t rejecting UKIP, they are not supporting the Tories, they are voting for Theresa May. That’s it.”

Across the county, the turnout in the elections was just over 35 per cent. The number of independents on the authority fell from 11 to 10, the Lib Dems went from five to three seats and the Liberals lost both their seats.