This week's MP's column comes from Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley

AT the 2017 general election, I promised to launch a campaign to separate the Shipley and Keighley constituencies from Bradford Council. 

Since then thousands of people have signed the petition I set up as a result. I am delighted to be supported in this campaign by my neighbouring Keighley MP, Robbie Moore.

The local lockdown that was imposed at the end of last week has made it more urgent than ever we separate from Bradford

The problem in the Bradford district with worrying levels of coronavirus infections is largely concentrated in Bradford itself, and yet places like Wharfedale and Baildon in my constituency have been included in the blanket lockdown thrown over the entire district, unnecessarily. 

If the Shipley and Keighley constituencies had their own local authority, rather than being part of Bradford, it is very likely that, like Leeds, we would not have had a lockdown imposed on us. The case for leaving Bradford Council is certainly not confined to the coronavirus lockdown.  

For far too long Bradford Council have prioritised spending in their city centre heartlands. The residents of the Shipley and Keighley constituencies have watched the council continue to inject money into the centre of Bradford, often at their expense.

By breaking away from Bradford Council and forming a separate local authority, the residents of the Shipley and Keighley constituencies would finally see the money they pay in council tax being invested in their local area.

The Shipley and Keighley constituencies generate the highest revenue to Bradford Council through their council tax payments.

Despite being the largest contributors, they undoubtedly benefit the least. It is my belief that all residents should have their hard-earned money invested into their communities, rather than consistently used to develop other areas. Surely the whole point of local government is that it is local.

Nothing better demonstrated the contempt Bradford Council hold for my constituents than their decision to close Bingley Swimming Pool at the same time as announcing that four brand new swimming pools would be opening in other areas of Bradford. But this is just one example of the way in which outlying areas are cast aside in favour of the city centre.

The people living within the Shipley and Keighley parliamentary constituencies are also much more likely to pay the council tax that they owe. Data from Bradford Council shows that the wards of Ilkley, Wharfedale and Craven pay the highest proportion of what is billed in those areas, whereas wards in other parts of the Bradford district - Bradford Moor, Little Horton and City - pay the least of what they owe.  

In the last financial year Bradford Council was reported to have failed to collect around £8.5m in council tax owing to it.

Shipley and Bingley markets have been another area of concern. They have seen little to no investment in their infrastructure, yet the newly proposed Darley Street Market in central Bradford has been allocated £21m of funding.  

Bradford Council should be paying for Bingley market. Instead, Bingley Town Council bears the burden of paying for the market, at an additional cost to the council tax payer.

The Bradford districts have brownfield sites and plenty of empty properties that are ripe for development. Rather than focus their efforts here, Bradford Council is preoccupied with supporting the development of large and expensive housing on green belt areas, particularly in the more rural parts of the Shipley and Keighley constituencies.

The valid and heartfelt objections from residents have been largely ignored. 

Out of the 36 councils across the country, Bradford Council is the fourth largest. Currently, the council operates over 370 sq km. 

Even though Birmingham Council is the largest in the country in terms of population, it only covers 267 sq km. 

Bradford Council operates over a huge area and as a result consistently struggles to handle the range of demands and challenges that it needs to. It seems clear that dividing the area would be of benefit to everyone across the Bradford district. Bradford Council would be free to focus their efforts on a smaller area, and the residents of the Shipley and Keighley constituencies could finally have their priorities addressed by a truly local council. 

Having the Keighley and Shipley constituencies under the governance of Bradford Council has been largely a one-way deal for a long time. The new body would be a smaller council - a similar size to Calderdale Council – and able to make quicker and better decisions that benefit those it represents. It would give back control to the Shipley and Keighley constituencies and would mean local people making local decisions.

Over the 15 years I have been privileged to represent the Shipley constituency in Parliament, I have become more and more convinced that it is in the best interests of my constituents to pursue this breakaway from Bradford Council.

I will do all I can - along with my excellent colleague Robbie Moore - to bring it about.

If you are interested in signing the petition you can do so via the following link: