Keighley witnessed the rebirth of local democracy in a 'historic moment' last week - with the return of a town council.

Last Thursday evening Keighley Town Hall was buzzing as a new 26-strong town council convened in the council chamber for the first time since local government reorganisation in 1974.

It was the result of a lengthy campaign which culminated with the people of Keighley voting overwhelmingly last summer for the return of the town council, which was lost in 1974.

At the meeting Cllr Martin Leathley received a unanimous vote for the post of chairman, and one of the first jobs following election was for him to acknowledge all the people who had made it possible, including a special thanks to the Keighley News, which spearheaded the campaign.

Cllr Leathley has served for eight years on Bradford council and, due to his greater experience of the political process, was chosen to lead the new body.

He said: "I would like to thank the many people who have played a part in this historic moment for the town.

"Thankyou to the people Keighley. This is the re-beginning of local government in Keighley.

"Many thanks also to the editor of the Keighley News, because if it was not for the enthusiasm and support of Malcolm Hoddy we would not have got this off the ground at all."

And of his appointment as the first chairman of the new council he added: "It is a great honour. I will do my best to get this council off to a great start."

The vote for vice-chairman was not as clear-cut, with three of the new councillors vying for the post.

And after a close contest Cllr Nick Lajszczuk emerged triumphant, beating Cllr Tony Wright and Cllr Zafar Ali by just one vote.

There remain a number of vacancies on the council as the wards of Knowle Park and Long Lee and Parkwood failed to put forward any candidates.

Members therefore voted to co-opt the three defeated candidates from contested wards - Joyce Newton, Robert Payne and George Edge.

The council, as one of its first items of business, made it clear that planning was one of the main areas of activity with which it wished to be involved.

And a resolution was passed stating that the Town Council would like to be consulted on all planning applications affecting its area.

The appointment of planning and other sub-committees was deferred, however, in order to allow councillors further time to discuss exactly what form they are to take.

Initially it has been decided to appoint a Constitution and Policy Committee of nine councillors to establish the mechanisms and principals of the new local government.

Funding for the running costs will come in the form of a grant from Bradford Council, the size of which has yet to be negotiated.

But, should the new council wish to provide additional services not covered by Bradford, it will have to raise a precept, which could mean a hike in council tax.

At the end of the meeting on Thursday, Keith Pickles of Bradford Council's Financial Services department presented Keighley Town Council with two cheques.

The first was for a million good wishes and the second for £10,000 to give the new council a kick start.