What Do the Local Elections May 2022 Mean for Cycling in Harrogate?
What do the local elections that took place on 5th May 2022 mean for cycling in Harrogate?
The first thing to say is that I have no idea, but that wouldn’t make for a good article. Instead, I’ll write what I do know about these elections.
County Council Elections on 5th May 2022
The elections that took place on Thursday 5th May 2022 were for the county council.
This Harrogate Borough Council page explains that 90 councillors were elected across North Yorkshire in 89 wards. They will serve for the final year of the old North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), and for 4 years of the new NYCC unitary council that begins on 1st April 2023.
Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) ceases to exist on 31st March 2023, and the new NYCC takes over all council functions. Until then, Harrogate Borough Councillors will remain in office.
There could also be a devolution deal, with millions in funding and an elected Mayor for the new NYCC and the City of York.
Election Results in North Yorkshire
The Yorkshire Post reports that the Conservatives won 47 of the 90 county council seats. This gives them a narrow majority, even though they lost 20% of their vote share compared to the last election in 2017.
Independents and other parties won the other seats:
- Independents 13 seats
- Labour 12 seats
- Liberal Democrats 12 seats
- Green Party 5 seats
- Liberal Party 1 seat
Election Results in Harrogate
Looking specifically at Harrogate, ten Liberal Democrats were elected to NYCC. There are nine Conservative Councillors, and one Green.
|Bilton & Nidd Gorge||Paul Haslam||Con|
|Bilton Grange & New Park||Monika Slater||LD|
|Boroughbridge & Claro||James Windass||Con|
|Coppice Valley & Duchy||Peter Lacey||LD|
|Fairfax & Starbeck||Philip Broadbank||LD|
|Harlow & St Georges||Michael Schofield||LD|
|High Harrogate & Kingsley||Christopher Aldred||LD|
|Killinghall, Hampsthwaite & Saltergate||Michael Harrison||Con|
|Knaresborough East||Hannah Gostlow||LD|
|Knaresborough West||Matthew Walker||LD|
|Masham & Fountains||Margaret Atkinson||Con|
|Oatlands & Pannal||John Mann||Con|
|Pateley Bridge & Nidderdale||Andrew Murday||LD|
|Ripon Minster & Moorside||Andrew Williams||Ind|
|Ripon Ure Bank & Spa||Barbara Brodigan||LD|
|Spofforth, Lower Wharfedale & Tockwith||Andrew Paraskos||Con|
|Stray, Woodlands & Hookstone||Patricia Marsh||LD|
|Valley Gardens & Central||Samuel Gibbs||Con|
|Washburn & Birstwith||Roger Hull||Con|
|Wathvale & Bishop Monkton||Nicholas Brown||Con|
Implications of the Election Results for Cycling
Councillor Responsible for Transport
The most important role as far as cycling is concerned is the Councillor in charge of transport. The position is called Executive Member for Access.
Until this month’s elections Don Mackenzie held this role, but he did not stand for re-election as a Councillor. It is therefore open to a new Councillor. As the Conservative Party has a majority, my assumption is that a Conservative Councillor will be appointed to the role.
Active Travel Champions
We have two Cycling & Walking Champions, one from HBC and one from NYCC.
- Councillor Phil Ireland is the HBC Active Travel Champion, and I assume he will stay in that role until HBC is dissolved in a year’s time
- the NYCC Active Travel Champion was Councillor Don Mackenzie, but he is no longer an NYCC Councillor
The NYCC Active Travel Champion role is the most important, because NYCC is responsible for highways. The thinking has been whichever Councillor is Executive Member for Access should also be Active Travel Champion – but I question that.
The NYCC Active Travel Champion needs to be a Councillor who gets around town by bike, whether they have the transport role or not.
Three candidates’ names were familiar to me from anti-cycling campaigns in Harrogate. The votes they attracted were in the low hundreds, and none of them came close to getting elected.
This is very encouraging.
The elections don’t change the council officers (employees) working on active travel schemes.
While there are some very good officers at our two councils, overall they are reluctant to make changes, and so far they have not delivered ambitious active travel schemes to a timetable, or at all.
The new Executive Member for Access needs to have a strategy and drive it through; if officers are left to their own devices, nothing will happen. Station Gateway may well be an exception.
What do you think – is there any aspect of this that I’ve missed out?