THE campaign to create a new Town Council for Shipley has taken its biggest step yet - and members hope it could lead to Councillors being voted in next May.

The movement to try and create a new level of local democracy in the Shipley ward was set up last year, and in recent months volunteers have been collecting signatures from residents to prove the idea has enough local backing.

On Thursday they handed in a petition signed by 960 people - well over the 771 they required before their proposals would be considered. Bradford Council will now consider the petition, and should let the campaigners know if they are able to move forward with plans in the coming weeks.

If everything goes according to plan, Shipley residents could be electing people to represent them on a new town council in the next local elections in May.

Although Town Councils do not have the power to make decisions on issues like planning applications, school spending, highways works or other services associated with Councils, it can take on local services, organise events and provide a stronger voice for communities. It would be paid for through a precept on the local Council Tax.

Last year Baildon Town Council helped re-open the town's toilets, and Bingley Town Council re-instated the town's regular market.

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The proposed Shipley Town Council will cover most of the area in Bradford Council's Shipley ward - including the Saltaire World Heritage Site.

Since the Campaign for a Shipley Town Council began its work, members have held open events, spoke to local organisations and handed out hundreds of leaflets to residents. Rob Martin said: "We're exceptionally pleased to get all the signatures we needed within a year. We're also very pleased that we did it without any funding - it was very much a local effort."

Helping the campaign were local groups like Hirst Wood Regeneration Group and Saltaire Village Society.

James Roberts said: "It has been really well supported. People from all the areas have been supportive - we got over the threshold in all areas."

When asked what the big issues residents raised with them he said: "Toilets were a big issue, a lot of people talked about the marketplace. People felt that Shipley had been hit harder than other areas when it came to cuts, and that they weren't well represented."

Bradford Council will have the final say on whether Shipley gets a town council, and now that the petitions have been handed in there will be a governance review, and the local community will be consulted again.

Even if successful, the group may have a wait a year before the Council is up and running. But they will not be relaxing now the petition has been handed in. Mr Roberts said: "We'll be asking people to consider putting their names forward to become Councillors. We want as many people as possible to be standing when there is an election. We're also going to be organising sessions with neighbourhood groups to talk about the idea, and to speak with other town councils to see how they have made it work."

Mr Martin added: "The target is to have a town council elected in 2020. We need to get people organised so they can stand when it does happen."

They said they were purely a campaign group to get a town council, and the actual formation of the council would be up to the people of Shipley.