Burley-in-Wharfedale is preparing to take the first steps it needs to break away from Ilkley and form its own parish council.

Burley Community Council (BCC) has been considering the move since holding a public meeting about the future of the town last year.

Now the idea has gained fresh impetus due to the local unpopularity of a new Council Tax precept being introduced by Ilkley Parish Council.

Setting up its own grass-roots tier of government won't be easy, however, as BCC Chairman Bruce Speed acknowledges.

He said: "It is something we are looking seriously at and we have had a sub-committee considering the options available to us, and talking to senior Bradford Council officers and councillors.

"We have also been getting advice from Wilsden, who have gone through the whole process and know exactly what's involved.

"Establishing our own parish council would have a number of serious implications, one of which is that we're already in Ilkley, so breaking away is complicated.

"We would also need to find out what the Menston people feel, to sit around the table with them to formally discuss it - there is a lot to still look into."

Mr Speed said a major canvassing exercise would have to be carried out, involving all of Burley's 2,600 or so households, to ensure public opinion was behind the move.

The thorny issue of boundaries, currently being reviewed throughout the District by Bradford, would also need to be thrashed out.

The procedure for creating a new

body is complicated, and would need

the BCC to first gather enough

signatories backing the move, which would have to be approved by Bradford Council.

The people of Burley would then get to vote on the issue, and if supported strongly enough, the final decision would pass to the Secretary of State.

Despite the potential bureaucratic mountain ahead, BCC member David Howe is convinced Burley will have its own parish council within the next couple of years.

"Now we are in a political situation where central government believes in total devolution, I think it is an inevitability," he said, "although the chairman of Ilkley will tell you differently!

"There is a lengthy and involved process to go through but I think the precept that Ilkley Parish Council has just asked for should push things along.

"They're talking about using the money to clean up Ilkley's toilets and streets, which should have Bradford Council or central government funding - not a lot of Burley people are too concerned about those things.

"We are in the process of talking to our MP, Chris Leslie, and if the support is there we'll be looking at putting together signatures calling for action, and at the first stages of developing a public ballot, this summer."