RENEWED calls are being made for Keighley and Shipley to break away from Bradford Council control and form their own local authority.

The towns' Tory MPs claim their constituents don't get a fair return from their contributions to the running of the council and that too much investment is focused on the city of Bradford.

But the idea of a break away has drawn fierce criticism from Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of the Labour-run council, who said it would be divisive and expensive and would weaken the district’s national influence.

Shipley MP Philip Davies, whose constituency includes Cullingworth and Denholme, said creating a separate local authority had been a long-term goal of his and he intends to start a petition later this year detailing the proposals.

He said: “Bradford Council raises a lot of money in council tax from the more affluent areas around Shipley, Keighley and Ilkley but most of it is spent in Bradford and we don’t benefit because we receive nothing back.

“Should we become our own local authority we would be around the size of Calderdale and can begin to look after our own economy, spend our council tax in our own areas and invest in our areas.

“I think this is something most people in the two constituencies would support.”

Mr Davies added that more affluent areas moving away from Bradford’s authority would present the city as having a higher percentage of deprivation but instead of driving Bradford down, would provide it with more opportunities for growth.

“A greater level of deprivation would help Bradford gain external support and funding to address this and so Bradford would benefit,” he said.

Keighley MP Kris Hopkins, a former leader of Bradford Council, added: “I’ve been on record for many years that I believe independence from Bradford City Hall is in the best interests of Keighley, Ilkley and Shipley council tax payers.

“My views have only hardened in recent times as Labour councillors have sought to direct resources away from these parts of the district towards Labour wards in Bradford.

“It is barefaced, unfair and unacceptable.

“There are many hurdles to clear before our goal can be achieved but the work goes on.”

But speaking out against the plan, Councillor Hinchcliffe said: “There are so many things I would like our MPs to focus on to help the Bradford district as a whole.

“Dividing the people in the district in this parochial way is not one of those things.

“I was born and brought up in Shipley, I live in Windhill and represent that ward which is in the Shipley constituency.

“All my life I have felt part of the Bradford district. It is self-evident that we will always have a stronger, louder voice with Government by working together.

“Splitting up local authorities is directly opposite to what Government wants to see.

“It would mean doubling the costs of running local government in Bradford district – there would be two of everything where before there has just been one for the whole district.

“Two chief executives, two strategic directors of social care and so the list goes on.

“In this climate of austerity why on earth would Government do something to double costs?

“Personally, I’m getting on with the really hard work that we need to do to raise our profile and make sure we get the investment our residents so richly deserve, wherever they live in the district.”

Councillor Simon Cooke, who leads the council’s Conservative group and represents the Bingley Rural ward, said it was time to look into the issue.

“Our view as a group is that Bradford Metropolitan District has never worked well as a place despite more than 40 years of effort bringing together diverse communities with very different challenges,” he said.

“Splitting up the district might represent a solution but we know too little about such a division, the costs involved and what its impact might be on services.

“With greater regional working and the prospect of devolution, however, it is perhaps time to look at these issues and at how dividing the district into two new authorities might work.”