Ward councillors serving Wharfedale were toppled from key positions of power on Bradford Council this week as Labour won the battle to take charge of the council.

After ten years of Conservative rule, leadership of Bradford Council reverted to Labour on Tuesday, as Liberal Democrat councillors refused to give their backing to either of the two big parties.

Labour increased its lead on the Conservatives at the recent council election, but did not gain enough seats for an overall majority on the council.

Councillor Ian Greenwood (Lab, Little Horton), has been named leader of Bradford Council, and Labour councillors given key executive roles.

The Ilkley area previous had strong representation on Bradford’s ruling executive, with Ilkley councillor Anne Hawkesworth, Craven ward councillors Michael Kelly and Adrian Naylor, and Wharfedale ward councillor Dale Smith all recently serving on the executive.

The move means that Wharfedale councillors no longer hold the portfolio for key issues of concern in the Ilkley area, such as the proposed Ilkley Grammar School rebuild, moorland management and local planning issues.

Long-serving chairman of the council’s Keighley area planning panel, Coun Chris Greaves (Con, Wharfedale), is thought unlikely to be returned to this role.

Coun Greaves was on the panel that rejected the Tesco supermarket plans, due to be revisited at an appeal hearing by an Government planning inspector in the coming weeks.

Coun Greenwood says Labour’s first priority in the district is education, and the council would need to address the ‘big hole’ in the centre of Bradford.

In a statement on Tuesday. Liberal Democrat group leader, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland said her group supported funding for schools serving the most deprived areas, and shifting the focus onto Bradford city centre.

Coun Hawkesworth, who was named leader of Bradford Council’s Conservative group last week, says she will keep a close eye on local issues.

Among the issues she plans to press council heads on are the creation of 20mph ‘respect’ zones, she says.

Coun Hawkesworth labelled it a sad day for the Bradford District, saying the Conservatives had worked closely with the Liberal Democrats over the last ten years to turn things around in the district, and more recently, had jointly agreed a budget for the next financial year.

“It is therefore hugely irresponsible for the Liberal Democrats to have taken what I regard as the cowardly decision to sit on their hands and allow Labour to return to the leadership of the Council,” said Coun Hawkesworth.

“It is also ironic that at a time when Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg is telling us all about the need for a new politics, his colleagues in Bradford have decided to send us back to the past.

”However, we are now going into opposition but we will be a responsible opposition, as always, in the best interests of local residents.”

In the Liberal Democrat Group statement, Coun Sunderland said the Conservatives’ plan for the District contained ‘no new ideas or vision from their new leader’, and the group did not have sufficient support in the council chamber to retain leadership.