August 7th, 2023
Written by John Grogan
‘When the people of Ilkley voted in May for a split council of seven Conservatives and seven progressives (four Labour, one Green, one Liberal Democrat and one Ilkley Community Alliance) the obvious thing over the four year cycle was to have a Conservative Mayor one year and a Progressive mayor the next.
This is exactly what Karl Milner offered the Conservative Group after the election with my full support but this suggestion was not taken up by the Tories and Karl was elected Mayor. I attended the Town Council meeting last week and passions certainly ran high but I thought the Mayor chaired the meeting fairly. Like all his fellow Town councillors Karl is a volunteer aiming to do his best for the town. He used his casting vote on just two occasions in both cases to uphold the status quo as is the convention. He voted to maintain the council’s long standing policy supporting in principle a move to 20mph across the town and to honour the contract the Town Council has signed with Bradford Council. The progressives then proposed a motion to write to Bradford Council asking for a reduction in the amount of traffic calming associated with the scheme and for further consultation with the town council on that basis. The Conservative Group voted against this motion and as it was a new policy it fell on a tied vote. I have myself written to Bradford Council asking them to review the proposed traffic calming (which is made up of speed tables like that already outside Ben Rhydding School and speed cushions which are short raised and rounded and normally placed in the centre of the road lane) and to concentrate particularly on areas around schools.
I am hopeful that we will hear Bradford Council’s response to the recent consultation later this month. When I was Ilkley’s MP there was a fierce controversy over a resident parking scheme and parking charges. Through sensible dialogue over many months a sensible way ahead was charted. This will continue to be my approach in the future and I will show respect to elected councillors of all parties.
One of the Conservative councillors mentioned at the meeting the possibility of calling a parish poll or referendum on the issue and I understand this is now being actively considered. I would urge caution. Any six electors can call a parish meeting on a local issue and any ten people at that meeting can by law call a parish poll. Under the terms of the legislation this would be organised by Bradford Council and paid for by Ilkley Town Council taking up a significant proportion of their annual budget. Polling stations would be open for 5 hours and there would be no postal votes. The result would not be binding on either Ilkley Town or Bradford District Council. A recent poll in Keighley supported by the current MP cost I understand thousands of pounds. 16% of people voted and the result made no difference to policy. The Government went on to fund the health hub in question on the site in question.
The Government is in fact committed to tighten the rules on parish polls raising the threshold of electors needed to call a poll and limiting the scope to matters under the control of the town or parish.