SPARKS are still flying at Bradford City Hall over a ban of toasters and other electrical items.

A stand-off between council bureaucrats and the authority's Conservative group is intensifying, as the authority yesterday pressed ahead with a controversial round-up of contraband appliances.

Bradford Council has banned staff from making toast in the Grade I listed landmark building because it can set off the smoke alarms, but the Conservative group is still refusing to relinquish their beloved toaster, complaining of bureaucracy-gone-mad.

Desktop fans and portable heaters are also banned at City Hall because they fall foul of the council's strict energy-saving rules.

A council crackdown on these appliances, planned for last Monday, was originally called off after Conservative Group leader Councillor Simon Cooke was featured exclusively in the Telegraph & Argus, channelling Mel Gibson's Braveheart by declaring they would "never take our toaster".

The quirky row has since been featured in national newspapers and on the BBC's Daily Politics show - even garnering its own hashtag, #ToasterGate, on Twitter.

But council bosses have refused to cave in to pressure to drop the ban, and the crackdown began in earnest yesterday with banned appliances being gathered up by staff.

Cllr Cooke said if anyone asked for their toaster, he would demand to see proof of the relevant council policies.

He then quoted another Hollywood legend, Charlton Heston, saying they would only take it "from my cold, dead hands".

Cllr Cooke said he had spoken to Council chief executive Kersten England, saying the ban of everyday appliances had made the authority look silly.

He said the toaster ban still made little sense to him.

He said: "If I was a toaster manufacturer, I would be quite cross at a big local authority suggesting that their products were a fire risk.

"I'm sure they would turn round and say, 'If you use our products properly, they are no more a risk than thousands of other appliances.

"It does seem to me that somebody decided this was going to happen, so this is going to happen."

Cllr Cooke, who describes himself as the "scourge of the nannying fussbucket" on Twitter, has also been sending messages of defiance to the council's official Twitter account.

One read: "Hey @bradfordmdc I've just used a toaster. And, you know, no fire, no fire alarm - just toast. Lovely toast."

Councillor Val Slater, the executive member responsible for facilities management at the Labour-led council, said: "Toasters have been banned from all council buildings for several years as they have been to blame for setting off fire alarms leading to the evacuation of hundreds of staff which ultimately costs the council tax payer."