Let’s vote on freeing Ilkley from Bradford, says MP

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A TORY MP will pit himself against the national party leadership after revealing he will campaign against an elected mayor in a referendum in Bradford next May.

The Government has ordered referenda to be held in 11 English cities – including Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Wakefield – next year in an effort to see more cities run by elected mayors in light of the success of the role in London.

But Keighley and Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins, a former Bradford Council leader, has said he will lead a campaign for a “no” vote in the city. He will also use the occasion to push for a referendum for Keighley and Ilkley to become independent from Bradford.

His stance will put him at odds with the Prime Minister, who has been a leading advocate for more elected mayors to give cities stronger leadership.

“This was an idea I argued strongly against when it was first suggested by the Conservative Party in opposition, most notably when David Cameron came to Bradford to make the case in favour,” said Mr Hopkins.

“As a manifesto commitment, I did not seek to block the proposal in Parliament. But I regard the referendum itself as a somewhat different matter. I will therefore have no hesitation in leading the campaign in Keighley and Ilkley for a ‘no’ vote on Thursday May 3.

“And this poll must be used to our greatest advantage because an overwhelming vote against a Bradford-based directly-elected mayor can only strengthen our case to Government that Keighley and Ilkley has no affinity with Bradford and no longer wishes to be part of Bradford district.”