ILKLEY town mayor Karl Milner has declared he will refuse to chair a meeting which could see a referendum on the town’s controversial 20mph zones forced through.

Cllr Milner says the plans by opponents of the traffic calming measures to trigger what he calls a “zombie poll” will cost the town’s council taxpayers at least £30,000 – and will prove pointless.

In a letter to James Stretton, chair of the Ilkley Road Safety Group, who called for the town meeting, Cllr Milner says he will not participate in what he calls “this charade”.

Two weeks ago Bradford Council said the 20mph zones and traffic calming measures in the form of street cushions will go now go ahead.

But the IRSG has asked for a town poll – a referendum – to be held to gauge widespread feeling about the plans. Under the regulations, if ten residents attend the meeting and support the town poll, then it must happen.

Cllr Milner says in his letter: “You have done so entirely legally and properly and I therefore, as mayor, have granted the request.”

The meeting will now take place at the King’s Hall, Ilkley, on Tuesday, October 3, at 7pm.

In saying he will not chair the meeting, Cllr Milner explains: “I regret to inform you that I cannot participate in this charade. The moment to influence the decision regarding the implementation of a 20mph has passed. This meeting will only be an echo chamber, repeating what we have heard before – with no potential for change of any kind.”

Cllr Milner said the most reliable cost estimate for holding this poll would be £30,000, excluding VAT, but added the final cost could be considerably more than that. 
He cited a similar poll in Keighley, which cost Keighley residents more than £76,000. At the lower estimate, it would add £5 to every council tax bill, said Cllr Milner.
He told the Ilkley Gazette: “I have decided after a lot of thought not to chair the town meeting (for the reasons included in this letter to James Stretton from the IRSG). 
“I believe the meeting will serve no purpose and the subsequent ‘zombie poll’ will cost every household the equivalent of five quid each. 
“That’s too much, and with the only outcome to indulge the same old faces banging on about the same old things – yet again. The matter is dead. I cannot stop them calling a meeting nor a poll, but equally I don’t have to help them in their quest to bankrupt the council and cost our residents money.”
Earlier this month Bradford Council said the speed limit reduction will begin to take effect from October.
There will also be traffic calming measures in the form of “road cushions” to slow down traffic, but following a public consultation the authority has decided to vastly reduce the number of these.
Instead of the proposed 120 locations that were earmarked for road cushions, the council said there will now be 58, mostly on roads near to schools.
In his letter to Mr Stretton, Cllr Milner says: “The numbers prepared to back the call to continue the fight are seriously diminished. I believe this is because they now understand that the consultation did mitigate considerably and now only 12 streets will be subject to physical speed reducing measures. 
“Every single one of these streets has been identified as a speed or collision risk using Department for Transport recommended guidance and is in proximity to a school, nursery, or care home. Yet this process that resulted in such a significant reduction seems not to be enough for the IRSG and those who wish to use your campaign for their own political ends.”
He added: “This will be real money being spent and Ilkley Town Council must ultimately decide whether to cut grants, services and/or raise local taxes to pay Bradford back for their work. And all this when the 20mph zone will already be in place. 
“I can’t support the poll or add legitimacy to any event that will lead to a poll which will, sooner or later, cost every one of the 6,000 households in Ilkley the equivalent an extra £5 on their local tax bill. And for nothing.”