During the first lockdown the Harrogate and Knaresborough Conservative Association claimed £10,000 in a government grant meant to support small local businesses.
At a full council meeting on Wednesday 9th December the leader of the council, Cllr Richard Cooper, was asked the following question:
"Given that several national retailers have recently announced that they intend to refund over £2 billion, claimed in Covid Business Rates Relief, to the exchequer, will the leader and deputy leader of the council encourage the Harrogate and Knaresborough Conservative Association to refund the £10,000 it claimed under the Small Business Grant Fund."
Cllr Cooper refused to answer the question, instead his Deputy gave the council a lecture on the furlough grants made to businesses that wished to protect jobs, a completely different grant scheme.
Councillor Pat Marsh, who asked the question, said:
"The Harrogate & Knaresborough Conservative Association, of which the Deputy Leader is Chairman, clearly finds this issue embarrassing. He has attempted to wriggle out of taking responsibility for claiming a grant meant to support small businesses.
"How can the Tories honestly say, with a straight face, that they are a local business?
"This may comply with the letter of the law but it certainly doesn’t comply with the spirit of the law. I would encourage any political party who have claimed under this grant scheme to seriously consider refunding the grant to the exchequer."