‘Ripon did not want a Tory and now they have one’, claims councillor
Last updated Jul 3, 2023
Andrew Williams, pictured when he was elected last year.

Ripon councillor Andrew Williams has resigned from the North Yorkshire Independents group after forming a political alliance with the Conservatives.

Cllr Williams, who is also the leader of Ripon City Council, is one of three independents to have joined a new Conservatives and Independents Group.

The Conservatives announced the group on Friday, saying it had been formed “to secure the stable and sustainable governance of North Yorkshire Council” in the wake of the party losing its majority.

The Tories have 45 of 90 seats — precisely half — on North Yorkshire Council following Cllr Mike Jordan’s defection last month.

The new alliance will help them maintain control until the next local elections in 2027.

Cllr Williams was elected to represent Ripon Minster and Moorside on North Yorkshire Council in last year’s local elections with 1,453 votes. The Conservative candidate was third with 312 votes.

Stuart Parsons

Cllr Stuart Parsons

He has yet to respond to questions about his decision from the Stray Ferret but Cllr Stuart Parsons, who leads the North Yorkshire Independents group, said Cllr Williams had resigned “very late on Thursday evening”.

He added:

“The new ‘Tory Group’ just shows what the Conservative Party will do to cling on to power.

“With just over 40% of the vote they still believe that they have a god-given right to rule. Their new name also sullies the use of the word ‘Independent’.

“When a city like Ripon, which had previously returned two Tories, sent their message to North Yorkshire Council it was with one Liberal Democrat and one Independent.

“Ripon quite clearly showed that they did not want a Tory and yet now they have one.”

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The other independents to join the new group are Cllr Caroline Goodrick, who represents Sheriff Hutton and Derwent and Cllr Robert Heseltine.

However, they are among seven unaffiliated independents whereas Cllr Williams was one of nine members of an Independents group.

Cllr Parsons echoed Lib Dem concerns about whether discussions between the Tories and independents involved using council resources for party political purposes.

He said:

“We will be monitoring very closely.”