A clerk has resigned from Keighley Town Council - months after it was set up - in a clash over her salary level.

Lesley Airey has branded the £13,122 nine-month fixed term package offered by the fledgling town council as derisory.

She will stand down on Friday, November 15 from the council which was set up in May. It is the second biggest town council in the country.

In her resignation letter Mrs Airey says; "The salary offered of £13,122 is derisory to someone who has both the qualifications and expertise to provide the town council with a first-class, effective and carefully managed professional administration."

She has been working as "temporary" town clerk on a six-month contract since May 16 when the council was established.

Her hours are 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday in the office at Keighley Town Hall and she attends council meetings.

Mrs Airey is also clerk to Haworth parish council, where she works between ten and 14 hours a week from her home in Cowling near Skipton.

She declined to reveal the salary she expected but said it was less than half the £42,000 National Association of Local Councils' guideline for the job overseeing a council with more than a 30,000 population. Keighley Town Council serves 39,000 and is the second biggest in the country. Haworth serves just 6,000. Mrs Airey said she had given up positions as clerk at Lothersdale, Oxenhope and Cowling parish councils to take on the Keighley job.

"I am not unhappy with the job. I have enjoyed the challenge but I am unhappy with the salary and the terms and conditions," she said.

Mrs Airey said the salary did not recognise the level of unsocial hours the job demanded.

Town mayor Martin Leathley said yesterday that he had not received Mrs Airey's letter. "Until I see it I can give no comment," he said. He planned to discuss the issue with Deputy Mayor Nick Lajszczuk and chairman of the finance and general purposes committee, Councillor John Philip.

A spokesman for the National Association of Local Councils said salaries were subject to local agreement.

Guidelines were published by the association which indicated that a clerk of a council with a population over 30,000 could earn a full-time salary of between £37,029 and £41,895. But it had to be adjusted according to the hours worked, whether the clerk had responsibility for other staff, and if the council had additional powers.

l Keighley Town Council does not employ extra staff, it does not levy a precept on householders for extra cash - it receives a grant from Bradford Council - and it has the same powers as a parish council.