I refer to the letter from Mayor Karl Milner which was published online in the Ilkley Gazette in reference to the August 1 council meeting in relation to the 20mph plans.

I am worried that Karl, an inexperienced town councillor, has made Ilkley Town Council (ITC) look as though we are treating our constituents with contempt.

In May we were a group of 14 new councillors, most of whom had never been elected before. We did not know each other or how we would work together. I took the view that the new council should act as a cohesive and sensible team. I spoke to Karl about this and he seemed to agree. He even wrote a letter in which he said: “I believe that sensible people should set an example in divisive times ... Make no mistake this is down to us not a party whip.”

He then offered, on behalf of the so-called progressive members of ITC, a “deal” such that the position of Town Mayor would be held in alternate years by a Conservative councillor and by a councillor from one of the minority parties.

The Conservatives considered this approach to be thoroughly improper and underhand. It is not within the remit of the council at any one time to bind itself for the future in this way. It is for the sitting councillors to elect a fresh leader in May each year. We chose to ignore this extraordinary suggestion and I would not have wished to serve under the terms of such a shabby deal.

The first shock arose in June when Karl used his casting vote against asking BMDC to publish the results of the public consultation. I could not understand that.

We now know that BMDC are ignoring the results of the consultation and have seriously breached the October 2022 funding agreement (about Ilkley paying £87,500) by failing to consult the Town Council about changes to the scheme. The problem is the way Karl used his casting vote last week to tell the people of Ilkley that he couldn’t care less what they think. He knows best and the people of Ilkley can like it or lump it. This makes the Town Council look bad and makes it difficult for us councillors to work together.

Karl doubts that any councillor (at the recent meeting) would have voted against their “whip”. There should be no whips in ITC. Party politics has no place in the chamber. It is for each member to use their conscience to vote for what is best for the town. Voting solely along party lines instead of according to conscience makes one unfit to be a councillor.

This situation is lamentable. The ITC has at least 11 committees. They are all up and running. There has been no friction on any of them. We are all working together, getting to understand each other, and learning about the various skills and abilities which we bring to the town. Only on speeding and humps is there a problem. Seven of us want to get full public consultation at every stage as residents demand. We sought seven motion amendments requesting this and all fell. There was a motion “to write to Bradford Council asking for a reduction in the amount of traffic calming associated with the scheme” and we voted against it only because it omitted the words “and that the amended plans be subject to public consultation.”

The Town Mayor must learn to listen to the majority of our voters and not treat them with contempt.


Cllr Steve Butler

Conservative Ilkley