General election 2010: Surprise loss for Lib Dems in Harrogate

By Sasjkia Otto

Phil Willis’ replacement in Harrogate and Knaresborough has failed to hold one of the Liberal Democrats’ safest seats, with a nine per cent swing to the Conservatives.

The Lib Dems saw their 10,429-vote lead of 2005 reduced to a 1,039 loss with the Conservatives claiming 47% of the vote.

Historically, Harrogate was a safe Conservative seat since 1950, but lost in 1997 to Mr Willis. He had held the seat with typical Lib Dem incumbency since then and enjoyed continued support locally.

Harrogate has some of the highest property prices in England valuing at £1 million or more.

The first mineral spring in Harrogate was discovered in 1571 by William Slingsby, and the town subsequently gained fame as a spa town. Post-World War II, Harrogate’s large hotels became government offices from London which explicates the town’s current function as a commercial, conference, and exhibition centre.