Keighley's St John Ambulance headquarters is to close.

The organisation says the sale of the Russell Street building will not affect its training or coverage of public duties. But the move has angered Keighley Town Council, which has voiced its opposition, and the fight is now on to keep a HQ base.

Keighley mayor Cllr Brian Hudson, pictured outside the HQ, said he had attended a meeting with local St John members, who told him their vehicles had been taken by regional headquarters. He said they also told him their building would be replaced with a grant of £30 a week to hire a church hall for meetings.

"I think that's disgraceful," he said. "They have served this town for more than 100 years and suddenly the rug has been pulled out from under them.

"This unit is about 50 strong so it's not as if it's fading away. As a council we should stand by it." Philip Gee, the executive director for St John Ambulance, South and West Yorkshire, said: "We've got 21 buildings to look after and we're spending quite a lot of money to keep them up to health and safety standards. It's a huge problem. We are trying to dispose of some of the older buildings and the Keighley property is not in a great location or in a wonderfully good condition.

"We're upgrading the training available to our members. Bradford is only 10 miles from Keighley and has a newly refurbished building where we'll have high quality training sessions.

"The Keighley members are all welcome to come and meet in Bradford where they have much nicer facilities and they can also meet in Skipton. Selling our premises in Keighley won't affect our training or our public duties.

"We can continue to provide the community with the support it needs and we don't envisage the Keighley division disbanding."

Referring to the future of the local branch's vehicles, he said control of the fleet was being centralised at Ossett because the vehicles needed to be available for the whole county.

Bradford Council leader Kris Hopkins, who is the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Keighley, said he had written to St John Ambulance's chief executive seeking assurances on the local branch's future.

He said: "St John Ambulance plays a very important community role in Keighley, where residents take great pride in the work done by local volunteers.

"On behalf of a very large number of local residents, I am requesting that any threat to the future of the Russell Street base is removed and a guarantee provided that St John Ambulance will retain a permanent posting in the town."