A BECKSIDE barrier intended to protect Silsden town centre from flooding is again at the centre of controversy.

Bradford Council says the barrier alongside Silsden Beck does not have planning consent and has threatened legal action to have it removed.

Council officials also point out the half-finished barrier, which was branded unsightly by residents when building work began last year, is in a conservation area.

Local councillors have called for the matter to be sorted out, but it is unclear who currently has responsibility for the steel barrier.

The project was initially led by Silsden Environmental Action Group and town councillors, with volunteers carrying out construction work. Building materials were funded by Bradford Council, Keighley Area Committee and Silsden Town Council.

Protests against the barrier construction were led by Val Carroll, of North Street, Silsden, who last summer described the girders as an “abominable structure”.

The action group had initially consulted the Environment Agency, which assessed the plans and decided it would have no detrimental impact on local flood risk or environmental habitat.

An Environmental Agency spokesman said its consenting powers were strictly limited to consideration of flood risk and the water environment, and other bodies were responsible for issues such as design, land ownership and planning permission.

A Bradford Council spokesman confirmed the barrier had been built without planning consent.

She said: “We said invited all interested parties to submit a retrospective planning application, then we can try to resolve some of the council’s concerns.

“In the meantime legal action has been authorised but officers continue to negotiate a possible solution.”

Adrian Naylor, who is both a district and town councillor, said the flood barrier was not the responsibility of the town council and he understood Silsden Environmental Action Group was no longer active.

He said: “At the time funding was provided by Bradford Council through the area committee, I investigated what was required before I agreed the money. I was assured that planning permission was not required.

“Silsden Environmental Action Group acted totally in good faith. Bradford Council funded the scheme and Bradford Council departments have been involved in discussions.”

Cllr Andrew Mallinson, who represents Craven ward on Bradford Council, said the barrier should not been built in the first place.

He said: “We have a structure that is incomplete and shows no sign of ever being completed. It’s not in keeping with the beck area or the beautiful cottages nearby.”

Silsden Town Council was this month asked to fund the completion of the barrier, but has postponed a decision until the current wrangle is sorted out.