Two councils have clashed over proposals which could pass the power for deciding minor planning applications to them.

Silsden Town Council thinks the power should reside with town and parish councils at the lowest tier of local government, but neighbouring Steeton-with-Eastburn Parish Council sees the responsibility riddled with potential problems.

Currently decisions on small-scale applications and amendments, such as conservatories and balconies, are made by Bradford Council’s planning department.

The idea of shifting the responsibility is in the discussion phases and must be passed by the Yorkshire Local Councils Association before it goes to the National Association of Local Councils, which can take it to the Government. Silsden councillor Michael Elsmore believes the move would give local councils more credibility and relieve the responsibility from already heavily-burdened planning officers.

He said: “In some places people say ‘what is the point of the parish or town council, what do they do?’ And I think this will give the authority more status.

“I do think if councillors receive training it could work well.”

But the chairman of Steeton-with-Eastburn council, Cllr David Mullen, said: “I understand where Mike is coming from but I really do think it is a can of worms.

“I think it needs to be decided by people who have the training and we do not have the training.

“I also think it needs to be decided by someone detached from the environment who lives away from the village.

“I can envisage somebody whose application has been turned down knocking on the door and saying ‘why have you done this?’ “I would be interested to know more about it and welcome the information, such as who would be responsible for enforcing the decision, but at the moment we do not know.”

Town and parish councils in the Taunton Deane borough in Somerset have had the responsibility since the mid 1990s. They notify neighbours of planning applications and put the requisite notices up to save planning officers’ time and resources.

A spokeswoman for the Taunton Dean Borough Council said that it had the power to overrule the parish’s decision but that situation was rare.