South Craven 'could split from Bradford'

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A CONTROVERSIAL suggestion from the leader of Bradford Council to split up the district has been supported by councillors in South Craven.

Coun Kris Hopkins suggested Keighley and its surrounding district could be hived off from Bradford to become an independent authority.

He suggested that the town could turn back the clock three decades to the time when it was a borough in its own right.

Although the proposal was not favoured by opposition councillors, including Labour leader Coun Ian Greenwood, some councillors in South Craven say it makes sense.

At last Thursday's meeting of Silsden Town Council, Coun Chris Atkinson said it was an "excellent idea".

"I think if you asked anyone in Silsden, everyone would say the same," he added.

There is a logistical, easily identifiable community at the end of the Aire Valley which has never recovered from the 1974 Local Government Act. It does not feel it is part of Bradford. That would be an ideal community.

Bradford Council leader Coun Kris Hopkins

Coun Atkinson proposed that a letter of support be sent to Coun Hopkins, but instead members agreed to invite him to a future meeting to discuss his suggestion further.

Glusburn and Farnhill parish councillor, Ian Fulton, also felt it was an interesting proposition and said he could see advantages and disadvantages to the move.

He envisaged the new body would become a district mirroring Craven District Council, catering for around 50,000 residents along the Aire Valley.

He said: "I would support anything which would help the future wealth and prosperity of South Craven. I think it is worth investigation."

But he reflected that the new authority would still need to come under the umbrella of Bradford or North Yorkshire councils.

If the new authority came under Bradford Council, Coun Fulton said it could bring benefits, including the possibility of more funding for sports facilities and libraries.

But his concerns included giving Bradford free rein to over-develop the Aire Valley.

He added: "Any suggestion of Bradford getting control of South Craven is a non-starter."

Coun Hopkins told the Herald he had made the suggestion as a possible solution to the future of Bradford's ever-growing population, which currently stood at around half a million people.

He said: "There will become a point in time, probably long after I have stepped down as leader of Bradford Council, when we need to realistically look at how effectively a council can manage something so big.

"There is a logistical, easily identifiable community at the end of the Aire Valley which has never recovered from the 1974 Local Government Act.

"It does not feel it is part of Bradford. That would be an ideal community."

Coun Hopkins envisaged the new district incorporating Keighley and its surrounding area, but stressed the geographical area would need to be determined by the Boundary Commission and the Government.

Coun Hopkins pointed out that while he was a proud Keighley man, his comment was highly hypothetical and said his main concern as leader of Bradford Council was to help provide the best services for residents.

He thanked the South Craven councillors for their comments and added he was checking his diary for a date to meet with the Silsden representatives.

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