A former leader of Craven District Council is defending his seat – but on a different political ticket.

Carl Lis, who was first elected to the council in 1989, has dropped his Independent status and will fight the Ingleton and Clapham ward seat for the Conservatives.

He faces a challenge from Liberal Democrat Mark Christie and Labour hopeful Christine Rose.

It is not the first time Mr Lis, who is also chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, has changed party allegiance. In 1998 he was one of four councillors to quit the Liberal Democrats and join the Independent ranks. They blamed the move on political bickering.

Speaking this week, Mr Lis said the country faced challenging times and he thought it was time the council united and worked together.

“I think the best way for me to do that is to join the Conservative group,” he said.

“We cannot ignore the fact that, whatever Government is returned, local authorities are going to face enormous cuts. Now is not the time for private politics.”

The district council elections, which take place alongside the General Election on May 6, will see two councillors stand down.

Tory Stephen Butcher will relinquish his Gargrave and Malhamdale seat after 16 years while Independent Manuel Camacho will not defend the Bentham seat he has held since 2003.

Mr Butcher said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the council, although I have not enjoyed it as much over the past two years after we were left in a shocking financial situation by the previous administration.”

He said the worst thing that happened during his council term had been the approval of the new HML building on Gargrave Road, Skipton.

“It would be a super building in Leeds or Burnley, but not in Skipton,” he said.

Mr Butcher said he had decided to retire because the increasing paperwork was getting too much.

Mr Camacho said his decision to stand down had been based on age. “At 66, I thought it was about time I retired. I don’t want to be representing people when I am 70. My time on the council has been interesting and challenging,” he said.

Nine of Craven District Council’s 30 seats are up for election and all are being contested.

The Conservatives are fielding candidates in each ward in a bid to take overall control of the council. Currently they hold 15 seats, one short of an overall majority.

The Liberal Democrats are contesting seven seats, while Labour has four candidates and the Independents three.

The Youth Party makes its first foray into district elections with Joe Lord standing in the Settle and Ribblebanks ward.

* See this week's Craven Herald for the full line-up of candidates.