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Leading landlord latest to join the political fray after surprise election win

cunliffe lister

Landlords in Yorkshire might have an ally in new Lib Dem councillor Felicity Cunliffe-Lister who stormed to victory in the recent Masham and Fountains by-election, a previously super-safe Conservative seat.

The incoming North Yorkshire county councillor owns Swinton Estate, one of the largest privately owned estates in England, comprising 20,000 acres and 90 farms, farmhouses, residential and commercial properties which are rented out in Masham and the surrounding countryside.

It also hosts the Swinton Park castle hotel, Swinton Cookery School, Swinton Bivouac glamping campsite and café and Swinton Country Club & Spa.


A former lawyer, the Countess of Swinton does not have aristocratic roots; her parents were teachers and her previous renovation project before moving into Swinton Park was a one-bedroom flat in London.

She lists her current role as covering development, planning and strategy both within the leisure portfolio and the rural business on the estate.

Dinner table discussions should be more lively now; her adopted family has strong ties with the Conservative party as Cunliffe-Lister's husband Mark is the grandson of Margaret Thatcher's de facto deputy PM William 'Willie' Whitelaw and the estate was also used by former Conservative leader Ted Heath to host shadow cabinet away days in the 1960s.

Her Masham and Fountains seat had previously been held by long-serving Conservative Margaret Atkinson. It will be included in the new North Yorkshire Council unitary authority which brings together the county council and seven district and borough councils from April.

Nationally, the Lib Dems have promised to scrap business rates altogether and replace them with a levy on landlords. The party would also allow local authorities to increase council tax up to 500% where properties are being bought as second homes.


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