Tories oust council leader

Harrogate Council's offices at Crescent Gardens. (S)
Harrogate Council's offices at Crescent Gardens. (S)

HARROGATE Council’s leader has been ousted in a dramatic post-election vote.

Members of the district’s Conservative Party decided to replace Coun Don Mackenzie at a fraught meeting on Saturday night.

The new leader of the party is Coun Anthony Alton, formerly the cabinet member for finance, who won the leadership contest by 17 votes to 16.

The decision, which took place less than 48 hours after the council’s latest district elections, lays bare the divisions within the local party.

Coun Mackenzie was previously sacked from the cabinet in October 2010 by then leader Mike Gardner, who accused him of disloyalty, a charge he denied.

He was subsequently voted in as leader of the council the following May.