A TOTAL of 262 candidates have registered to battle it out in the North Yorkshire County Council elections next month.

There are 72 seats on the authority in 68 separate areas in what is the largest geographical county in the country.

For the first time in living memory two councillors have been returned unopposed after no one stood against them.

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Conservative councillors Caroline Patmore in Stillington and Gareth Dadd in Thirsk, both in Hambleton district, will now not have to go to the polls on Thursday, May 4.

However, 70 fellow conservative colleagues will have to fight for seats, although it is the only party putting up candidates in all areas.

The Labour Party is fielding 65 candidates, the Liberal Democrats 40, the Green Party is putting up 38 candidates and the United Kingdom Independence Party 24.

There are also 17 Independents and two people standing for the Yorkshire Party.

At the last election the conservatives won 45 seats, with the Liberal Democrats taking eight seats, Labour seven, eight Independents, Liberals two and United Kingdom Independence Party two.

Dr Justin Ives, deputy county returning officer is urging people to use their votes, he says anyone who cannot get to the election can apply for a proxy vote until Tuesday April 25.

Postal votes and proxy votes can be used on the day as long as they are at the relevant polling stations by 10pm on May 4.

Dr Ives added: “Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm and we would encourage constituents to use their vote, it is an important part of our democracy.”

Since the last election in 2013 the county council has been making major budget cuts, due to government funding reductions.

Between 2011 and 2020 the authority will have axed £174m from services, a cut of around a third in the authority’s spending power.

Up to March this year £130m has been cut back mainly through transforming the library services with 21 now run by volunteers, replacing elderly people’s home with extra care housing; reducing youth and children’s centres and transport subsidies and cutting back on grass cutting services.

Information on all the candidates is on the county council’s website at http://elections.northyorks.gov.uk/electionresults/election/3

Results will also be registered on the council’s website as they become available on Friday May 5.