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Morley could ‘opt out’ of Leeds City Council in referendum vote

Morley Town Hall. Picture by John Clifton.

Morley Town Hall. Picture by John Clifton.

Morley residents could be given the chance to “opt out” of Leeds City Council.

Morley Borough Independent (MBI) councillors claim a referendum vote could take place during next May’s general election to give residents the option to have the town’s affairs dealt with by Morley Town Council alone.

Suggestions of a vote come after MBI was “kicked out” of its Morley Town Hall offices last week and moved to Leeds Civic Hall, which Leeds City Council has stated was part of centralising support for political groups.

Morley is represented by five MBI councillors and one Labour, who feels a referendum would be “a waste of time and resources”.

Coun Robert Finnigan (MBI, Morley North), who revealed discussions are ongoing about the “quite radical” vote, said: “The people of Morley feel frustrated, they have felt for many years we have had a raw deal.

“In the past we got some new builds and we were on the housing arms-length management organisation and executive boards – Morley residents had an opportunity to represent their views and that has changed.”

He said such a small local authority is not unheard of, with councils running for around 30,000 residents in Rutland in the Midlands whereas Morley has around 50,000 locals.

Coun Neil Dawson (Labour, Morley South) said: “I think it’s a complete red herring and it doesn’t tackle the problems we have in terms of the squeeze on public services in any way.”

Morley has been lauded as one of Britain’s most patriotic towns, with its annual St George’s Festival attracting around 20,000 visitors.

Morley Town Council was set up in 2000 and has 26 elected members. Coun Paul Cook, of MBI, was elected leader in May but resigned this month. When contacted by the YEP the town council and Coun Cook were unavailable for comment.

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