The row over Ripon independent councillor Andrew Williams’ decision to align himself with the Conservatives on North Yorkshire Council continued at a meeting last night (Monday).
North Yorkshire’s Conservatives recently revealed that three independent councillors have formed a new Conservatives and Independents group to avoid the risk of the party losing overall control.
One of the councillors to join the alliance is Ripon Minster & Moorside councillor Mr Williams, who was elected as a Ripon Independent last May with 1,453 votes.
Cllr Williams said last week that he made the decision in the best interests of the city and to ensure stability on the council.
But the move has not been popular with everyone in the city as Liberal Democrat councillor for Ripon Ure Bank & Spa, Barbara Brodigan, then accused Coun Williams of being a “Tory puppet” and under the control of council leader Carl Les.
Both councillors also sit on Ripon City Council and at the town hall yesterday evening Cllr Brodigan argued that opposition parties already offer a stable alternative to the Conservatives before taking a veiled swipe at Cllr Williams’ decision.
Cllr Brodigan said: “All opposition groups — Lib Dems, Labour, Greens — on North Yorkshire work together regularly. That’s stability. On a personal level I was elected as a Liberal Democrat by my residents and I remain so. I sit in my group and I vote with my Liberal Democrat colleagues.”
In response, Cllr Williams referred to the recent resignations of Harrogate councillor Michael Schofield from the Liberal Democrats and Scarborough councillor Tony Randerson from Labour and said opposition parties “seem unable to put together an alternative, constructive administration”.
He added: “I was born here, educated here and have resided here all my life. The decision I took to join the Independents and Conservative group is to ensure a stable administation for North Yorkshire and to get a fair deal in Ripon.
“I remain independent and can vote on every issue that comes before North Yorkshire Council according to my conscience and will always do so.
“I have not and never will be a Tory puppet. Councillor Brodigan, I can assure you that nobody has their hand up my backside, least of all the leader of the council.”
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