‘I feel liberated’: Harrogate Lib Dem councillor goes independent
Jun 13, 2023
Cllr Michael Schofield.
Cllr Michael Schofield.

Harrogate councillor Michael Schofield has left the Liberal Democrats and will sit as an independent on North Yorkshire Council.

Cllr Schofield was elected in May 2022 in the Harlow and St Georges division after winning 45% of the vote.

However, after just over a year he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service this morning that with the Lib Dems preparing for a potential general election next year he has stepped away from the party to focus on local issues.

He said:

“It’s a case of with the political turmoil going on nationally, and all parties gearing up for a general election, the worry is my local area will get left behind. I was elected to serve Harlow Hill and St Georges and my only aim is to do that.

“It’s time for a clean break and for me to serve in the town. People get bogged down with the electioneering. I’ll let people go and do and that. That takes me away from things I want to do and serving the community.”

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Cllr Schofield, who is the landlord of the Shepherds Dog pub on Harlow Hill, said he apologised to any of the voters who voted for him because of his former political affiliation but added that he’s not a “national political animal”.

He said some of his former Lib Dem colleagues are “probably not happy” with his decision but he said he now feels liberated free of the party machine.

He added:

“I have a lot of friends within that group but my aim is do cross-party politics. The only way we can move forward is by having cross-party politics. If you have two parties arguing all the time you’re never going to move forward. I’m all for collaboration.”

Cllr Schofield’s decision to stand as an independent follows similar moves by councillors on different parties in recent months.

In April, Scarborough councillor Tony Randerson resigned from the Labour party and stood as an independent in a by-election that he won.

This week Conservative councillor for Camblesforth, Mike Jordan, quit the party citing dismay with the national party.

North Yorkshire Council has 45 Tory members and the same number of Liberal Democrat, Liberals, Labour, Green and Independent councillors.