THIRTY-five candidates are set to challenge Conservatives for seats on one of  the country’s most Tory-dominated local authorities.

While the Conservatives have candidates for each of the 28 Hambleton District Council seats on May 2, they are facing fewer challengers overall than the 41 non-Tory candidates at the 2015 election.

The Labour Party is fielding 15 candidates, the Green Party seven candidates, Liberal Democrats six, three are running as independents and three as Labour and Cooperative Party candidates. One candidate’s affiliation, if any, has not been announced.

The sole opposition member of the council, UK Independence Party councillor Claire Palmer, who secured her seat by just four votes at the 2015 election, is not standing for re-election for the Northallerton South ward.

Another closely fought ward in 2015 was Stokesley, which saw Liberal Democrat Byrn Griffiths, a North Yorkshire County councillor, lose to Conservative Stephen Dickins by 132 votes.

The two Stokesley wards seats will be contested by five rather than the seven candidates who challenged for votes in 2015..

However, several of the seats, including Romanby, Morton on Swale and Great Ayton, saw Tory candidates elected with more than a 1,000-vote margin.

The number of uncontested seats has dropped from three to just one, at Huby, where Di Watkins is the Conservative Party candidate.

At the previous election, the highest voter turnout, 73 per cent, was in the Osmotherley and Swainby ward, while the lowest proportion of voters, 53 per cent, turned out in Northallerton South.

The 2015 election was the first for the local authority since it agreed a drastic boundary reorganisation to cut the number of members and thereby reduce costs.

The council shed 16 of its elected representatives and the seats that were up for grabs were overwhelmingly won by the Tories.

The Conservative Party has held most seats on the council since 1987, however the Tories were only able to gain overall control of the authority in 1999, a position which the party has since maintained.

Prior to 1987, the council, which now serves a population of more than 90,000 across a 1,311sq km area, had remained run by independent members.

Residents who are not registered to vote can apply by visiting by contacting 01609-779977 before midnight on Friday, April 12. The deadline to apply to the council for a postal vote for electors who are registered to vote is Monday, April 15 at 5pm.