A political activist has accused a council of “censorship” after his party was refused permission for a temporary shelter in Keighley town centre.

But Bradford Council insists gazebos are not allowed on public thoroughfares, and the ban would apply to all political parties.

Paul Latham, who plans to stand for election in Keighley for the UK Independence Party, said he and his colleagues were told by the council they could not erect a gazebo to help them with their campaigning.

Half-a-dozen other UKIP members still went ahead with their leafleting that day, and sited the gazebo outside Morrisons supermarket instead of their intended locations near Keighley bus station or the town hall.

Mr Latham explained he had applied for the gazebo on October 4, but only received a response late in the afternoon of October 30 – the day before the campaigning session.

He added: “I belatedly received in the post a formal refusal to use our gazebo under the 1980 Highways Act, sections 137 and 138.

“But we weren’t going to be using the gazebo on a public road or highway. Could this be an attempt at political censorship towards UKIP? We used a similar unit in the Bradford West constituency by-election a year or so ago with no problems whatsoever.”

Mr Latham, who stood as a candidate for the Keighley and Ilkley Constituency in the 2010 general election, added: “I think the council decision was anti-political. There are a number of parties in this country, and I wouldn’t stand in the way of any of them campaigning. This is supposed to be a democracy.”

But Bradford Council’s principal engineer, Keith Escritt, said Mr Latham was told as soon as his request was made “weeks ago” that a gazebo would not be allowed.

He added: “A footpath and pedestrian area is part of the public highway, and a gazebo could still cause an obstruction, distract motorists and, being a flimsy structure, it could blow away.

“This happened with an unlicensed gazebo erected illegally in Shipley. We have no objection to the leafleting activities, but we wouldn’t allow any political party to put a gazebo up in this area.”