A NEW branch of the Labour party officially launched in north Ryedale last weekend in response to a “huge rise in local membership”.

According to the party, local membership in the area has “more than trebled” over the last two years.

The branch officially launched with a gathering at the Sun Inn in Pickering last Saturday, at which they heard a presentation by John MacKenzie, from the Ryedale Foodbank in Norton.

The new North Ryedale Branch is part of the Malton and Thirsk constituency, and covers an area from Ampleforth to Allerston, with attendees from Pickering, Kirkbymoorside, Helmsley and other surrounding villages.

Jill Well, party member and new chairman of the branch, said: “People are joining, looking for a way to work for better local living conditions.

“Many are new to party politics and are interested in working on local grass-root issues, and serving local communities.

“People are most welcome just to come and see – we won’t be twisting any arms. But we are a friendly bunch, and you might want to join in.”

The branch is already involved in campaigns against issues such as local poverty and the housing shortage.

In the most recent General Election in June 2017, the local Labour Party increased its vote and again came second in the poll.

But the Thirsk and Malton constituency remains strongly Conservative, with incumbent MP Kevin Hollinrake gaining 60 per cent of the vote.

Labour also currently has no representatives on the district council, or in any of the six county council seats in the Ryedale area.

Ryedale Foodbank provides three days emergency food supplies and support to local people unable to afford food.

Everyone who goes to the foodbank is referred by a frontline professional such as a Citizens Advice Bureau or North Yorkshire County Council.