A 'BREAKAWAY bill' which could pave the way for a referendum over whether Keighley and Shipley should leave the control of Labour-run Bradford Council has cleared its first hurdle.

The Local Authority Boundaries Bill was presented to Parliament by Keighley MP Robbie Moore and passed its initial reading unopposed. A second reading is due to take place in March.

He and fellow Conservative MP Philip Davies, of neighbouring Shipley, have long campaigned for the two constituencies to form a new unitary local authority.

They accuse Bradford Council of "riding roughshod" over residents' wishes on many issues.

Mr Moore says: "Local representation matters and individuals need to have trust in their local authority to act in their best interests. For far too long, Bradford Council has eroded this trust across my constituency and many residents have quite rightly felt completely ignored.

"Bradford Council is far too large, with the city getting complete precedence over any local expenditure – despite the outlying areas being the biggest net contributor of taxpayers' hard-earned money. The authority lacks in capacity and competence to deliver statutory services and has failed us time and time again. It is time for a new, smaller, more efficient local authority that puts our interests first."

But Bradford Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, accuses Mr Moore of "poor political leadership".

She adds: "It makes me so sad that when an MP has the opportunity to speak out in Parliament, instead of promoting Keighley and the district positively he resorts to a tired playbook of divide and rule.

"The MP for Keighley & Ilkley should be fighting for a better deal on the serious issues that we are all facing here in the district and the country, but he’s not.

"He has been an MP for three years and by now we should be seeing positive progress, but he has still not secured the new hospital we need at Airedale which is literally crumbling away – not to mention doing something about the energy crisis, food poverty and the local public services which are struggling financially to deliver the provision we all rely on.

"This is poor political leadership from him. What we need instead is thoughtful, selfless people leading our country. The sooner we can have a general election the better. In the meantime we will do everything we can to encourage investment into Keighley. I think Keighley deserves the best."