Health watchdogs have launched a campaign to prevent health services being axed in two communities as part of a cost-cutting plan by Airedale NHS Trust.

Trust bosses are looking at the possibility of closing Bingley hospital and Coronation hospital in Ilkley as part of a plan to save £1.6m.

And they are investigating the chances of transferring the services to Airedale General Hospital at Steeton, near Keighley.

But Airedale Community Health Council wants the services to continue to be provided in both towns.

Chief Officer John Godward said the plan was not acceptable because it was Government priority that such services should be offered near to where people lived.

"The CHC is preparing its case which it will take to the Secretary of State for Health if Airedale NHS Trust continues to propose the closure and removal of services from Ilkley and Bingley," he said.

The CHC was not fighting to retain the buildings which were old and needed large amounts of money for repair and maintenance.

But it wanted services transferred to, and run by, Airedale Primary Care Trust - which commissions, plans and helps to provide health care for its area's residents.

CHC Chairman Peter Putwain said: "The whole emphasis should be to bring services closer to the people so they don't have to travel distances.

"And moving them to Airedale would increase the time that people have to wait for treatment because of the greater demand."

Lyn Wilkinson, of Airedale Primary Care Trust, said there was the possibility of enhancing the services by building on to Ilkley health centre and constructing a new primary care centre in Bingley.

"We are totally committed to providing services as close to people's homes as possible.

"A lot of discussion has to be held and people have to listen and be realistic. We want to retain and enhance the services in the community, especially for older and disabled people."

Airedale NHS Trust chief executive Bob Allen said the trust had to make savings across the board.

"We have not decided what to do at Ilkley and Bingley but have said there are likely to be changes or a reduction in services and possible closure.

"We have major financial problems and must produce a plan to balance our books."

He said the consultation was wide-based and it was aimed to have a decision by the end of September.