THE Keighley and Ilkley Conservatives Association has decided not to contest the forthcoming Ilkley Town Council by-election saying it is "highly irresponsible" to hold it so close to the general election.

Voters across Ilkley will be called to the ballot box on December 12 in the upcoming general election. However, this isn't the only election in Ilkley as Bradford Council have also scheduled an Ilkley Town Council by-election for the Ilkley North Ward to take place on November 28. This comes following the resignation of Conservative Councillor Penny Paisley, who stood down earlier this year.

The Keighley and Ilkley Conservatives Association, and its Ilkley Councillors Mike Gibbons and Kyle Green have been highly critical of holding these elections on separate days, citing the costs and accountability to their electorate.

District Councillor, Mike Gibbons (Con, Ilkley) said: “Elections are an essential part of the democratic process, but I can’t (in good faith) support the high cost of a Town Council election so close to the day of the General Election.

"If these were to be held on the same day, the 12th December, this would cut down on costs which could realistically run into the thousands.

"Surely, Bradford Council could have rescheduled this election, bringing it in line with the General – and this would have provided a considerable cost saving to those paying their precept in Ilkley.”

As a result of this, the Keighley and Ilkley Conservatives have decided not to contest the seat and have not progressed with the nomination of their candidate.

A Keighley and Ilkley Conservatives representative said winter election were hard fought, often taking place amid rain, wind, sleet and snow and this election would be no different and added: "As Conservatives we’re tasked by our electors with being fiscally responsible – it would be highly irresponsible to hold two elections, which could so easily be held together.

"This happened in May 2019, with no problem at all. Bradford Council, on their own website - - make clear that the last day that they’re able to hold an election is the 13th December – which would have resolved this whole issue.”

Conservative District Councillor for Ilkley, Kyle Green said: “Once again Bradford Council has shown a disregard for the voters and people of Ilkley, by opting to arrange this election when they have.

"Whilst time frames are put into traction in advance, I’m sure that there was more than enough time to sync up the polling days and save a considerable amount of money in the process.

"I was willing to stand as a candidate, but given the timing of the election, and the evident inconvenience that this will cause to the electorate of Ilkley North, I couldn’t possibly support the current time frame.”

The Ilkley Gazette approached Bradford Council for a comment but this was declined as the Council is now in Purdah and so can’t engage in any dialogue with a political slant due to the risk of breaking election rules.