World-famous Bradford artist David Hockney has reacted with dismay to a call for Bradford Council should sell off its valuable artworks.

Yesterday it was revealed the authority has been underestimating the value of its collection by millions of pounds.

The news prompted the Liberal Democrats, supported by the Conservatives, to call on the Labour-led authority to sell off artworks to fund frontline services.

Mr Hockney has reacted with concern, after reading the story in the Telegraph & Argus.

In a short but telling comment, he said: “I've almost given up on Bradford. This would do it.”

Bradford Council owns a number of Hockney artworks.

His paper pool picture Le Plongeur, made from coloured and pressed paper pulp, is one of the jewels of the authority’s collection and is on loan to Liverpool’s Walker Gallery.

Cartwright Hall art gallery also has Hockney’s four major series of prints: Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, The Blue Guitar, A Rake’s Progress and Illustrations of the Poetry of CP Cavafy.

Yesterday Lib Dem leader Coun Jeanette Sunderland stood by her idea, saying the move could actually be of benefit to art lovers.

She said: “We could set up a trust, we could do all sorts of things.”

Coun Sunderland said an independent body could do a better job of giving public access to the art, allowing the Council to concentrate on providing services.

But Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, who is the executive responsibilities on the Labour-run authority includes culture, said: “If the only thing the Tories and Lib Dems can think of in the face of their Government's savage cuts is a fire sale of Bradford's cultural heritage then the people of Bradford will rightly be relieved they are not in charge of the district. You can only sell the family silver once.”

Bradford Council owns about 4,000 fine art pieces, with some on public display and others kept in storage.

Previously, the authority had insured its whole art and museum collection for £20 million. But this year, an auction house valued a fraction of its fine art and found the value of these pieces alone eclipsed this figure.

But Coun Hinchcliffe said the valuation would have looked at the most expensive items first, and the remainder would have a far smaller value than that five per cent.