The former deputy leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Alan Skidmore, has denied he was ousted from the role by Conservative colleagues.
Speaking to the Gazette following last week’s front page story, ‘Deputy leader ousted’, which reported on changes to the local authority’s cabinet after the May district elections, Coun Skidmore said: “How could I have been ousted if I wasn’t a candidate?
“I was the deputy leader and I have actually stood down. I didn’t enter the election to be the new deputy leader.”
Coun Skidmore – who the Gazette had tried to contact for comment before going to press last week – said 33 of the Conservative’s 34 borough councillors were present at a meeting on Saturday, May 31, to decide who would be the new leader and deputy leader.
He said: “The group voted by a majority for Coun Richard Cooper as the leader. They then voted for Coun Michael Harrison to be the deputy leader.
“There were two candidates to be deputy leader – Coun Harrison and Coun Phil Ireland.
“Coun Cooper then chose who he wanted to give jobs to in the cabinet but he doesn’t choose who is the deputy leader.”
Stepping down from the political role, Coun Skidmore said he was looking forward to concentrating on Ripon matters.
“I’ve done the deputy leader role for two years. I’m 74-years-old and I want to actually do other things until the Grim Reaper knocks on my door,” he said, indicating the role of deputy leader occupied three-and-a-half days a week of his time.
“It’s a busy job. The time came that I decided I should not stand.
“I can probably do more by being Ripon-centric rather than being in the cabinet bound by collective responsibility. I can now do things in the city that I was not able to do.”
One issue Coun Skidmore would like to spend time on is the Neighbourhood Plan, also known as the Ripon City Plan.
“It’s the leading plan in the whole district,” he said.
“We have got to take some of the pressure off Harrogate and Knaresborough in terms of housing, and quite rightly, as Ripon has got to be viable and grow.”