THE leadership of a council which had one of the largest Conservative majorities in the country said it had been left stunned after losing three seats in last week’s elections.

Hambleton District Council leader Councillor Mark Robson said while he had not been surprised to see Liberal Democrat Bryn Griffiths returned as one of the Stokesley members been shocked and saddened by loss of long-serving councillor and chairman of the authority David Blades in the Northallerton North and Brompton ward and Bob Baker in the Bagby and Thorntons ward.

Cllr Robson said: “I know there was a lot of protest votes out there, but especially given the poor turnout it could have been very different, look at the rest of the country. It is disappointing to have lost former district councillors Blades and Baker, both of whom have served more than 20 years, due to Brexit. But winning 24 out of 28 seats on the council provides the electorate of Hambleton have recognised the work we do as an authority.”

Cllr Robson said with “a clear mandate of 24 members” there was “an awful lot of projects” that the next Conservative administration wanted to put forward to benefit residents.

He pledged the council would continue aiming to provide the lowest council tax in North Yorkshire - and among the lowest in the country – while “protecting services and providing value for money”.

He said other key objectives would include ensuring the Sowerby Gateway and North Northallerton developments produced local benefits as redevelopment work on the former Northallerton Prison site was due to start in the late summer.

Cllr Robson added decisions were also set to be made over the future uses of the former Lambert Memorial Hospital in Thirsk.

Councillor Griffiths, who will be among four opposition members on the council, said he was looking forward to the authority being held more to account than it had been with just one opposition member for the previous four years. He said: “You can’t knock democracy, but what you can do is offer alternative ideas. One of the things I have wanted to take up is the council’s recycling rates, which are not brilliant, and to look at single use plastic and promoting freecycling.”

New councillors include Independent Bagby and Thorntons member Andy Robinson and Conservatives Nigel Knapton, Malcolm Taylor and Paula Thompson in Easingwold, and Labour’s Gerald Ramsden in Northallerton South.