Power share bid fails at Harrogate and Knaresborough council committee
Last updated Jun 12, 2023
Paul Haslam and Pat Marsh
Paul Haslam and Pat Marsh

A bid to share the leadership of a North Yorkshire Council committee in Harrogate and Knaresborough has failed.

Conservatives sitting on the Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee had proposed a shared chairmanship between their councillor, Paul Haslam, and Liberal Democrat Pat Marsh.

Cllr Sam Gibbs, Conservative representative of Valley Gardens and Central Harrogate, said:

“We’ve clearly got two very good, qualified candidates for this role. I know my LD colleagues are really fond of job shares. I was wondering if they’d be interested in job sharing this role over the next 12 months?

“We’ve heard them in previous meetings suggest such things and think it’s a really good idea, so let’s see if they’re keen  to follow through on this occasion.”

The proposal caused some confusion, with the council’s democratic services manager Daniel Harry saying no other committee had had two chairmen before on an NYC committee or at North Yorkshire County Council before it.

However, he said there was no legal reason it could not happen, as long as the terms were clear, such as chairing alternate meetings.

Cllr Arnold Warneken, who is not a committee member but attends the meetings as Green party councillor for Ouseburn, said:

“I know I’m not allowed to propose anything or vote, but I’m going to ask a question: do the candidates both agree that they would do that?”

Cllr Pat Marsh, who represents the Stray, Woodlands and Hookstone division and was leader of the Liberal Democrats in opposition at Harrogate Borough Council, responded:

“No, I’m not happy to share that. Sorry.”

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Committee members were then asked to vote on whether the post should be shared. The five Conservatives all voted in favour, but were defeated by the seven Liberal Democrats who opposed the plan.

Instead, Pat Marsh was elected as chairman with seven votes in favour and five abstentions.

A bid for Cllr Haslam to be elected as vice chairman was also defeated by six votes to five with one abstention. Cllr Monika Slater, the Lib Dem representative of Bilton Grange and New Park, was chosen instead by seven votes in favour to none against and five abstentions.

Cllr Marsh is also chair of the planning committee for the area, where Cllr Haslam is vice chairman. Three other Liberal Democrats and two further Conservatives also sit on that committee.

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