In the halcyon days of 1974 Keighley was its own boss.

It had its own mayor and the now defunct post of alderman and met every month in the splendid timber-panelled council chamber in its own town hall.

But in the blink of an eye, the powers of the burghers of the town were taken away and handed to the greater geographical monolith of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

Where once Keighley councillors controlled their own leisure services and decided what to do about their own cultural destiny, and, for that matter, their own architectural destiny, it soon became the remit of councillors sitting in Centenary Square.

Despite that radical - and immense - local government shake-up, Keighley councillors still had some say in the direction of their local education and health and welfare, as they became part of the Bradford Council operation.

But the town's singular control over allotments, roads and sewage projects had gone. Almost three decades on, Bradford Council too has lost some of its powers to other authorities, quangos and, soon, to private partners, but it still maintains huge tracts of influence over the lives of Keighley folk.

For some that rankles.

Despite the fact that City Hall is just ten miles away, there is still simmering resentment among the people of the second largest conurbation in the district that their lives are directed by Bradford-based councillors.

There was no smoothing balm in 1974 to help ease the smarting pain and now, in another century, another millennium, some residents in Keighley are bidding to wrest back some influence and create their own power base.

On Wednesday, residents of the communities of Oakworth, Laycock, Oldfield, Utley, Long Lee and Thwaites Brow, Riddlesden, and East Morton will be given the chance to vote on whether they want the establishment of a town council. But like all local issues, it is never that simple.

No sooner has Keighley Voice gained approval for the postal vote than, ironically, a smaller community cried out that it will be subsumed by the bigger brother. In Oakworth, residents have thrown a spanner in the works. It could be seen as poetic irony.

At a recent neighbourhood forum, 34 villagers - a high attendance by anyone's standards - claimed they didn't want to be part of Keighley because the village could be overlooked by the bigger authority. And so the argument turned full circle.

Oakworth resident Jackie McGinnis said there was fear that the voice of Oakworth people would be lost.

And Worth Valley Tory Councillor Glen Miller claimed the referendum had been railroaded through. "Oakworth has nothing in common with other parts of Keighley," he declared.

The issue will have to be resolved and it is likely that Stephen Byers, the Minister in charge of the regions, will make the ultimate decision.

Once the postal ballot is completed and it and any other issues, like the Oakworth question, have been scrutinised, it will land on his desk. If he decides that the interests of Keighley would be best served with another tier of bureaucracy then the new town council's powers will be fairly wide.

It could elect its own mayor and levy a precept - ie, more tax - to pay for some services and take over others from Bradford.

Keighley Voice activist, Tony Wright, has been at the forefront of the campaign for a new council. He said he welcomed the Oakworth input, but would be concerned if it resulted in the proposed area being split up.

Oakworth was indeed different from other areas of Keighley as was Highfield with its large Asian community, from which he hoped people would come forward, he said.

"The more debate the better," he declared. "We want a mix of views."

Bradford Labour Councillor Martin Leathley (Keighley North) has also been a leading campaigner. He is keen to see the Keighley Borough regalia - the chain and mace - back in use.

"It's a mark of the town's identity and I'd like to see it back pretty pronto," he said.

But before all that, the challenge is on the people of Keighley to respond to the referendum and then make the new town council work, he stressed.