DISTRICT councillors are being urged to “put aside their political differences” following a controversial annual meeting last Thursday.

Cllr Keane Duncan was re-elected as leader of Ryedale District Council (RDC) for the second time at the meeting held at the Milton Rooms in Malton.

Ryedale First Independent Cllr Stephen Arnold was re-elected as deputy leader, while Cllr Michael Cleary was re-elected as chairman, with Cllr Nathan Garbutt-Moore voted vice-chairman.

However, Cllr Lindsay Burr, who stands as an independent, said the meeting had been “spectacular power grab”.

She said: “I have maintained that RDC should a be non-political organisation and councillors should all work together for the sole benefit of the electorate and not for self promotion.

“We are elected to serve and there is no better time for councillors to step up and help in their wards when ever they can, in whatever capacity and work together.

“Unfortunately, my idyllic idea collapsed when 12 Tory councillors, with the help of three Ryedale First Independent councillors, voted all night together, and took control and power of leader and deputy leader, plus all the positions of chairs and vice-chairs at RDC. Tory power and dominance is now fully embedded at RDC. It was bizarre, undemocratic and a spectacular power grab.”

But Cllr Duncan condemned an “unholy alliance” of opposition councillors who led a failed coup against him. “Sadly Cllr Burr’s chaotic coalition would rather see the council fail than see it succeed, at a time when we need stability more than ever,” he said.

“While others have been working as a council to support our residents through the hardship and misery of coronavirus, she was busy plotting to rip up the team’s good work.

“Independents, Liberals and Liberal Democrats carved up the positions and voted together on every vote, compromising their principles and stabbing friends in the back in the process. How is this so-called ‘working together’?

“Thankfully, for the good of our residents, their plan failed. Integrity and honesty won the night. I hope councillors can now put aside their political self-interest to work constructively in the interests of Ryedale and its residents.”