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Harrogate's newest councillor says town ready for a Lib Dem MP

Monday, 22 April 2024 12:53

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

Andrew Timothy (left) at the by-election count.

Andrew Timothy says his victory in the Stray, Hookstone and Woodlands council by-election is a sign that Harrogate and Knaresborough are ready for a Liberal Democrat MP.

Andrew Timothy says his victory in the Stray, Hookstone and Woodlands council by-election is a sign that Harrogate and Knaresborough are ready for a Liberal Democrat MP.

Earlier this month Cllr Timothy beat his Conservative rival John Ennis by 326 votes — and with a general election around the corner, he believes the result is a shape of things to come.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Timothy said:

“The result does show that in terms of a general election if people don’t want to have a Tory MP the best way is to vote Lib Dem. The Greens and Labour were far behind.”

He described the first few days as a councillor as a lot like starting any new job.

He’s been given a laptop for casework, has Zoom meetings scheduled with the different executive members and will undertake training on things like planning.

He’s only been in position for less than two weeks but he said he’s been busy dealing with nuts and bolts local issues like potholes and grass verges.

Cllr Timothy said: 

“I’ve already sent out emails to the council. One was talking about drainage off the Stray and its impact on nearby roads like St James’ Drive and St Winifred’s Road.”

At 25, Cllr Timothy is now the youngest councillor on North Yorkshire Council. He moved to Harrogate from the West Midlands a few years ago and the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands he works at Labcorp, formerly Covance, which is a science lab off Otley Road that is controversial due to its use of animal testing for medicines.

Cllr Timothy would not confirm that he works at Labcorp but did offer a comment on animal testing. He emphasised that the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) asks that all medicines be tested on animals before they are used on humans.

At the by-election count at Woodlands Methodist Church, it was evident that the Lib Dem’s prospective parliamentary candidate Tom Gordon was now in charge of the local party, buzzing around with a notebook and liaising with different party members.

Cllr Timothy believes Mr Gordon’s background in the charitable sector means he understands the struggles that people go through day-to-day.

However, Cllr Timothy’s campaign was criticised for a leaflet that incorrectly said the Green Party weren’t standing in the by-election. The matter has been referred to North Yorkshire Police.

Cllr Timothy did not want to go into detail about the leaflet due to the investigation but said it was due to a “clerical error”.

Andrew Jones MP, who will face Mr Gordon for his fifth general election, wrote to Lib Dem leader Ed Davey about the leaflet and he repeated a previously made claim that the local party was now a “rogue political operation.”

Cllr Timothy said Mr Jones’ reaction “shows he’s worried about how the general election is going to go.”

He added:

“He’s focusing on tarnishing us when really he should be making Harrogate and Knaresborough better”.

Cllr Timothy has big boots to fill, replacing veteran Lib Dem councillor Pat Marsh who resigned following controversial comments she made on social media platform X. He said he’s not in contact with her but hopes she’s doing OK.

He said: 

“I’m honoured and slightly surprised so many people have put their trust in me. I’m thrilled to get the opportunity.

"Thanks again to the people of Stray, Hookstone and Woodlands, I won’t let them down.”

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