Number of Harrogate Borough councillors to be cut by a quarter

Harrogate Borough Council
Harrogate Borough Council

The number of Harrogate Borough councillors is set to be cut by more than a quarter after new ward boundary lines were finalised.

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England has recommended that the district should be represented by 40 councillors following an eight-week public consultation.

The electoral review was carried out to improve “electoral equality”; equalising the number of electors each councillor represents and making sure this is the same across the borough.

Boundary lines of all existing wards will now change ensuring Harrogate has 14 fewer councillors with each of those councillors representing 40 single member wards.

Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Richard Cooper, welcomed the changes, insisting the price of democracy should be “lower not higher”.

He said: “I do not understand why some people are represented by the many parish councillors, district councillors, county councillors and MEPs.

“At the moment some people have got around ten or 11 representative members. We need to find the right balance between the number of councillors and the cost of the council and I think it’s the correct change.”

In response to the consultation, the Commission has renamed Knaresborough Scriven and Knaresborough Tentergate to Knaresborough Scriven Park and Knaresborough Castle respectively.

However, the Commission has ignored the council’s initial warding proposals for these two wards, arguing it would result in an “exceptionally high electoral variance”.

Coun Cooper said: “The council expressed concerns with their proposals for wards in Knaresborough, we suggested alternative boundaries and they have not been accepted.

“We felt the different boundaries would be better served by keeping communities together but they’ve done what they think is acceptable and I’m quite happy with that.

“They have done their job and they have done their field work in Knaresborough rather than just looking at a map.

“The most important thing is that people get good local representation from the council, who will stand up for them. That will happen no matter what the boundary lines are.

“The boundaries will change for some people and they will not be connected by their old ward and areas they were previously. However, people do not live by these boundaries.”

A draft order will be laid in Parliament in the coming months which will provide for the new electoral arrangements to come into force at the council elections in 2018.