THE GOVERNMENT has finally signed the historic agreement which will see the Ilkley Parish split in three.

Bradford Council received confirmation this week that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has signed the order allowing the Ilkley Parish Review to go ahead.

From the end of this month, Burley and Menston will have their own parish councils, while Ilkley Parish Council will be resized, representing just the people of Ilkley and Ben Rhydding.

The 32-year-old Ilkley Parish Council will meet for the last time in its current form on Monday, and from April, Ilkley councillors will be in the council chamber at Ilkley Town Hall without their Burley and Menston colleagues.

Elections for all three parishes will take place in early May, as an election was due for the Ilkley Parish this year with or without the split going ahead.

The drive for the split began with residents of Burley, who gained strong support in a survey of villagers for the creation of a separate parish council. Some Ilkley parish councillors initially spoke out against splitting the parish, claiming the three communities had more collective bargaining power with authorities on a number of issues.

Burley Community Council chairman, Bruce Speed, said: "It's obviously great news, because it's been a long process. It should have happened last year, but for whatever reasons it didn't."

Nomination papers for those wishing to stand for the parish council elections are expected to be made available later this month.

Chairman of Menston Community Association, Peter Ward, was also pleased to hear the go-ahead had at last been given.

"I'm pleased that it's going to happen and all the uncertainly of the last year or two has gone," he said. "We're all looking forward to the May elections."

He said the community association is about to embark on campaign to encourage villagers to consider standing for the new council.

Ilkley Parish Council chairman, Councillor Mike Gibbons, said: "I'm pleased that notification has finally come through, so that all parties know where they stand and can move forward with their plans for the future. It's good to know that it's all sorted."

The parish council recently came to an agreement with representatives of Burley Community Council and Menston Community Association, to split an estimated £90,000 left in parish funds between the three communities. This will be divided according to the number of voters in each community.

Ilkley Parish Council recently agreed its budget for Ilkley and Ben Rhydding households in the financial year ahead, featuring an increase in the parish precept of around 55 per cent for the average household. The council said the rise is in part to continue many council activities and awards schemes which have previously been funded by the combined council tax payers of Ilkley, Burley and Menston.

New precepts in Burley and Menston, however, will mean residents on the two villages will pay less for their own parish councils.

l Current Burley representatives on Ilkley Parish Council will be offering advice and information on standing for election to Burley Parish Council. The councillors will be at the Burley Roundhouse on March 18, between 9.30am and 2.30pm.