A GROUP of councillors who quit the Respect party, only to later rejoin, have made a further U-turn.

The four councillors will remain known as the Bradford Independent Group after all, they have announced.

But they have not ruled out re-entering the fold in the future.

Group leader, Councillor Alyas Karmani (Little Horton) said: "We are an independent group. Within the group there are councillors who are Respect, and there are councillors who are affiliated to them but not part of the membership of them."

Asked whether the group would rejoin Respect in future, he said: "We are still having that discussion. It is still ongoing in terms of what is going to happen with the status of the group."

A spokesman for the Respect Party declined to comment on the councillors' decision.

But the news has raised questions about whether Respect is essentially a spent force in Bradford, after its leader George Galloway's crushing defeat in Bradford West at the General Election.

Mr Galloway's former constituency office in Grattan Road looks set to become a tanning salon and he is giving up his rented home in Whetley Hill, as he concentrates on his efforts to become the next Mayor of London.

Council leader and Labour group leader, Councillor David Green, said: "The bottom line is that Respect have always been a one-man band and when that individual goes, what you discover is Respect goes.

"You just have to look at Mr Galloway's previous seats and what happened to his party there."

Councillor Simon Cooke, leader of the Conservative group at Bradford Council, said he hoped they had seen the back of Respect, calling them an "extremely divisive force".

He said: "It's welcome they are dead, I think."

And Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Bradford Council, said Respect had been ineffective in Bradford.

She said: "People wanted to see a real difference. They wanted to teach Labour a lesson. That's failed. People were left with more of the same."

Cllr Sunderland said she didn't know about Respect's inner workings in Bradford, but said there "seems to be no evidence of an organisation".

The Bradford Independent Group, made up of Councillors Karmani, Faisal Khan (Bradford Moor), Ishtiaq Ahmed (Manningham) and Ruqayyah Collector (City), are the fourth-largest group on the Council.

They had left Respect in 2013 after a bitter row with Mr Galloway, the party leader and then MP for Bradford West.

But in March this year, they announced in a joint statement that they would be rejoining Respect "after much consideration and reflection over the last few months".