NOW could be the right time to seek the public’s views on whether Keighley and Shipley should ‘break away’ from Bradford Council control and form their own local authority.

Town mayor Councillor Peter Corkindale was speaking this week as the long-aired debate resurfaced.

Thousands of people have signed a petition – launched by Shipley MP Philip Davies – supporting suggestions that the two parliamentary constituencies should combine and ‘go it alone’.

Campaigners argue that Bradford Council prioritises spending in the city centre heartlands at the expense of outlying areas – and that the new authority would give local people more say in the running of their own affairs and how money is spent.

Cllr Corkindale says his own view is that there are pros and cons to both sides of the argument.

“There was a perfectly good form of local government well before the 1972 act which brought about the creation of district councils within West Yorkshire two years later,” he said. “That was sold to the population on the premise that bigger is better and things will become cheaper, including the rates – we all know how untrue that statement was.

“This bad idea was made worse in 1986 when the county council was dissolved, leading to the formation of five ‘super councils’ with responsibility for nearly everything within their boundaries.

“It is my belief that if you have a local government that is accountable to the residents of the area, then you get a far better service than one whose loyalties lie at the far side of a huge district. It’s simply human nature. Why would you want to champion Keighley if your voters are inside the old city boundary?

“Before 1974, the West Riding County Council was responsible for social services including adult and juvenile services, education, fire, police and classified roads, which remains the case in counties that still have a county council – such as North Yorkshire.

“So when we get a West Yorkshire mayor will that individual be responsible for those functions, as is the case in Manchester and Liverpool, making the argument ‘bigger is better’ even less of a truth – furthermore making smaller and more accountable councils increasingly attractive?

“Is it not a great time to ask the people what they want?”

Tory MP Mr Davies says he promised at the 2017 general election to campaign for his constituency and Keighley to break free of Bradford Council.

He has been joined in the campaign by Keighley MP, and fellow Conservative, Robbie Moore.

“If there is one topic about which I receive more contact than anything else it is the desire from residents to leave the Bradford Metropolitan District Council area,” said Mr Moore.

“Myself and Philip would like to see both our constituencies form a new council in which decisions are made for the benefit of our area. For too long, the Labour-run council has treated Keighley, Ilkley, Craven and the Worth Valley as the cash cow for central and southern Bradford.

“I want to see more local leadership in which the people of Keighley and Ilkley can have their say and be heard.

“Time and time again, we have seen poor decision-making by the leadership team at Bradford Council. The tourist information centre was closed in Haworth – yet the equivalent has remained open in Bradford city centre despite Haworth receiving 18,000 more visitors per annum.

“Ilkley residents and businesses are now exposed to a badly thought through parking scheme, Silsden is bearing the brunt of new additional housing – with no expenditure on local infrastructure – and Keighley feels forgotten as Bradford Council prioritises spending within the city centre and ignores the wishes of the town’s residents, especially over the green space in North Street which Bradford Council wants to concrete over.”

Mr Davies says Shipley and Keighley generate the most revenue for Bradford Council through council tax payments, yet “benefit the least”.

“All residents should have their hard-earned money invested into their communities rather than consistently used to develop other areas,” he said. “The new body would be a smaller council and able to make quicker and better decisions that benefit those it represents.

“Anyone interested in signing the petition can do so at”

But Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Labour-controlled Bradford Council, accuses Mr Davies of using the issue as a “campaigning tool” to win votes.

“What he doesn’t tell his constituents is that time and time again his own Government has told me – and presumably him – that this will never happen,” she said.

“His Government is not interested in breaking-up existing local authorities – on the contrary, it is wanting the authorities to co-operate more with each other over a wider geography.

“What he and his right-hand man in Keighley, Robbie Moore, are wanting to do is distract residents from their own Government’s austerity programme over the last ten years which has left the whole district with half the spending power it had. That’s hit everyone across the district.

“It’s a sad legacy for MPs to spend their careers creating division and discord when all people nowadays want is for politicians to work together to create a better place.

“It’s true that some wards contribute more council tax than others but it’s also true that some wards, like City and Tong, contribute far more in business rates. The district works together as a whole and will continue to do so.

“In the meantime, we are getting on with delivering things people want, in spite of the financial constraints this Tory Government has left us with.”

She said initiatives included the creation of business development zones in Keighley and Shipley, extra funding for the Shipley and Keighley Towns Fund to maximise chances of securing the full £25m for each town, and delivery of the £10m Hard Ings Road improvements.