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Conservative Councillor serving in two places: putting Valley Gardens ward residents first?

October 8, 2018 3:20 PM

Last week the Harrogate Advertiser reported that local Conservative Councillor Sam Gibbs is currently serving on two North Yorkshire District Councils, representing Croft ward on Richmondshire District Council and Valley Gardens ward in Harrogate. He plans to continue doing so until he stands down from the Richmondshire ward next year. He likened this to the situation where councillors sit on both Harrogate District Council and North Yorkshire County Council.

Clare McKenzie, who was the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Valley Gardens in May, has expressed her concerns about whether the interests of Valley Gardens residents can be best served in this situation. She said:

Clare McKenzie (Clare McKenzie)

"Whilst it is correct that that many County Councillors also serve as District Councillors, it is unusual for a District Councillor to represent wards on two different authorities of the same tier of local government, something I have never heard of previously. Covering the same local area on two authorities can make a lot of sense, however representing two areas over 30 miles from one other seems neigh on impossible.

The residents of Valley Gardens were not made aware of this fact; indeed, they were told he was a "local champion" despite him also professing to be one for Richmondshire and living at the opposite end of the town.

Having previously been Harrogate Borough councillor, I do know the high workload involved and I find it difficult to see how Councillor Gibbs could find the time to represent two entirely different areas, in very different boroughs, effectively. This, at the same time as working full time politician for the Harrogate Conservative Party, is simply described as "winning elections"."