Lib Dems accused of ignoring Boroughbridge residents over controversial boundary proposals

Harrogate Borough Council
Harrogate Borough Council

Harrogate Borough Council’s Liberal Democrats have been accused of ignoring Boroughbridge residents after supporting proposals to take the ward out of the Harrogate district.

The Boundary Commission have proposed taking the Claro and Boroughbridge wards out of the Harrogate district and into the Selby and Ainsty Constituency.

The changes to ward boundaries was proposed as the commission looks to reduce the number of MPs across the country from 650 to 600 and regulate each constituency’s electorate.

At a Full Council meeting on Wednesday, December 7, Coun Philip Broadbank (Lib Dem, Starbeck) proposed supporting the commission’s recommendations for the Boroughbridge ward.

He said: “Some of the arguments put forward by objectors to the proposals are based on fears that the wards would be taken out of the local government area and local services would be transferred to the Selby district.

“This of course is not going to happen, no matter who represents the various parts of the district in Parliament. It wouldn’t change the way our local services are provided to local people.

“If you lived in Scotton, Boroughbridge or Brearton up to 2010 you’d have lived in the Vale of York constituency. You didn’t have to travel to York to access local council services.”

Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, has previously spoken out against the proposals in favour of maintaining the current constituency boundaries.

Mr Jones argued that the proposal was only designed to solve a West Yorkshire problem and that Boroughbridge has closer links with Harrogate and Knaresborough than it does with Selby and Ainsty.

The amendment was rejected by Harrogate Borough Council and leader Coun Richard Cooper (Cons, High Harrogate) criticised the party for ignoring Boroughbridge residents.

He said: “At the last council meeting, Coun Webber asked why don’t we listen to our residents on parking charges and stick up for them?

“It seems to me that the Liberal Democrats listen to the public when it suits them but don’t when it doesn’t because Boroughbridge town council have come out against the changes.

“The villages in the Claro ward have come out against the changes. Some consultation with the people of Claro and Boroughbridge would have been useful to get a taste of what the public want.

“So how can you say in one breath you should listen to the public on one issue but then, that one doesn’t count because it doesn’t suit what we think.”

Coun Cooper also slammed Coun Broadbank’s “unnecessary” proposal as the consultation closed two days previously so would not be considered by the commission regardless.

The amendment was also criticised by Coun Robert Windass (Cons, Boroughbridge), as the ward had already gone back and forth between constituencies like a “ping pong ball”.

He said: “Go to Marton cum Grafton, go to Scotton, Arkendale, Brearton and then if you dare Boroughbridge and you will know the anger and disgust of what people think about these proposals.”