Selby District Council’s veteran leader said the cost of living crisis and tax rises were to blame for the Conservative Party losing out to Labour and independent councillors in the North Yorkshire Council elections.
The Tories will send six councillors to the new unitary authority next year, with Labour securing five councillors. Independent councillors won three of the Selby divisions.
The results were announced at Selby Leisure Centre on Friday. The turnout across the district was 32.2 per cent.
Some major figures in the Selby Conservatives failed to win their divisions, including district councillor David Buckle, who lost in Selby East, and Richard Sweeting in Tadcaster.
Winning his Brayton and Barlow division, Cllr Mark Crane, Selby’s council leader since 2003, said: “My reaction is one of disappointment that we didn’t win as many seats a I thought we would win.
“Clearly there is a feeling against the current government for a long time and I think that’s played out in two ways. Number one is a lot of Conservative voters have stayed at home and number two, some Conservative voters – a smaller number – have shifted to one of the other parties and in some cases independents.”
Cllr Crane said he did not think the Downing Street party scandals were a major factor.
He added: “I think some of the other things that are going on in the country – the cost of living, heating bills going up so much, the increase in taxes which is something I was hoping our government wouldn’t do – these things have played into it, in my opinion, more than partygate when I was on the door.”
There were some stunning wins for independent councillors.
Cllr John Cattanach defied his party and stood against the preferred Conservative candidate, Georgina Ashton, beating her by more than 400 votes in Cawood and Escrick. Cllr Cattanach, who has been thrown out of the Conservative Party and stood as an independent, said he felt “vindicated”.
In Tadcaster, independent local campaigner Kirsty Poskitt beat veteran North Yorkshire independent, Don Mackay. Cllr John McCartney, independent, romped home in Osgoldcross, winning by more than 700 votes.
Labour strong in urban areas
Labour performed well in urban areas, winning in Sherburn in Elmet, Selby East and the quieter and more marginal Barlby and Riccall. Labour also succeeded in Selby West, where they won two councillors due to the size of the area.
Selby’s Labour group leader, Bob Packham, said the party had won all their target seats and performed well in more rural areas like Thorpe Willoughby and Hambleton.
He said that, though people may like to think local issues dominate local elections, in reality national politics play a big part. People were “fed up” of the Conservative Party, he added.
Cllr Packham said he and fellow Labour councillors would make their presence felt on North Yorkshire Council.
The successful councillors will serve the final year of North Yorkshire County Council and will then be the voice of the public for the first four years of the new over-arching single authority when it launches on April 1, 2023.
Current Selby district councillors will carry on representing their wards until the council is abolished in March next year.