A VET is a step closer to expanding into Glusburn Institute after details of the suggested lease were debated at this week's parish council meeting.

Andrew MacGregor, owner of Ashlands Veterinary Centre in Ilkley, approached Glusburn Institute back in August with a view to creating a surgery within the building.

His existing practice, which employs four vets, is under pressure to expand and Glusburn was seen as an ideal location.

The institute management committee along with the parish council - the institute's trustees -felt having the practice in the building would be a sound business move as the facility is very much underused.

Recent hopes that the Post Office would open a facility there were dashed when the Government's Department of Trade and Industry decided it was too close to existing post offices.

Mr MacGregor told the parish council this week: "I did not want to step on anyone's toes and decided Glusburn was ideal because the nearest vets are at least six miles away.

"We are required by law to provide a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service to our customers and need to employ another two vets to help ease the pressure," he explained.

Planning permission has already been granted for the move and it is now down to finalising details of the lease and the move into the building.

Tom King, the solicitor working on behalf of the parish council, said he had spoken with Mr MacGregor's solicitor, who stressed the veterinary group was keen to make a move as quickly as possible.

"There is a considerable amount of work to do and potentially a lot of financial outlay by the practice," said Mr King.

"Mr MacGregor is keen to get things going as quickly as possible with a view to being ready in six or seven months' time," he added.

Mr King said Mr MacGregor was looking at a 15-year lease, after which time the parish council could either renew the contract or "get him out".

Coun Roger Hargreaves said he was concerned about the length of the lease and the potential consequences if anything happened to the building during that time.

He asked whether a seven-year lease would be more appropriate.

But Mr King said that under the Charities Act, a seven-year lease would mean that the leaseholder would have an automatic right for it to be renewed after that time. Having a 15-year lease would take away that right.

He added that it was doubtful the practice would agree to a shorter lease and said that the final decision would rest with the surveyor who would look at the building and the lease offer Mr MacGregor had made.

The report would be based on the current market value of the part of the building the practice was looking to lease before any work is carried out.

"I think we have to look at the future of the building and be prepared to take risks," said parish council chairman Gill Birks.

"The veterinary practice will provide another facility for the village and benefit the institute," she said.

Members agreed to instruct the surveyor to make his report and would make a final decision based on that report.