ILKLEY has recently undergone a number of democratic exercises relating to the imposition of a blanket 20 mph zone in the town: an on-line poll with responses from 1,300 people and a public poll where over 4,000 residents voted. Democracy in action showed that an overwhelming majority rejected the proposed scheme.

At a recent Ilkley Town Council (ITC) Meeting on November 6, three councillors accepted this democratic weight of opinion, altered their position, and abstained in a series of votes. This resulted in ITC asking Bradford Council (BMDC) formally to delay works and to put forward a new plan to be considered by the people of Ilkley. It was also agreed that legal advice be sought regarding the status of the £87,500 contribution from ITC to carry out the work.

However, if we are to believe Bradford’s Councillor Ross-Shaw, these clear democratic wishes of the people of Ilkley and now ITC will be ignored. We will have humps for Christmas.

So, is democracy dead in Ilkley? It certainly isn’t healthy and certainly isn’t working.

What is to be done? The people of the City of Oxford may have hit upon an approach which might be worth considering.

They have recently undergone similar battles regarding the imposition of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and councillors who blindly follow the diktats of their party. They have been so thwarted by their elected representatives that they have formed a new nonaligned political party, The Independent Oxford Alliance (IOA:

The IOA will now put forward independent candidates for election to their Council who will stand on local issues and not national party agendas or the wishes of lobby groups. IOA was formed amid a growing sense that local democracy was failing because councillors from traditional parties were not listening to constituents. Does any of this sound familiar?

Quoting an IOA spokesperson, ‘We’ve come to the conclusion that the only way we can change things, given that the councils are not listening to residents, is to actually change things from within’.

Has the Oxford model something for the people of Ilkley and Ben Rhydding? Do we need a coming together of ordinary people and focused groups to collectively and effectively stand up against the current generation of failed party-political politicians? Could such a forum from within produce better councillors and an inclusive positivity in the town?

Surely it is not right that we roll over and simply accept the will of arrogant, non-listening and condescending politicians.

So, if ITC and BMDC will not listen to the democratic voice of the people, what do the people of Ilkley and Ben Rhydding want to do next?

Doing nothing should not be an option!

J Morgan