Call for public vote on Morley’s independence

Morley councillors have upped calls for a referendum.
Morley councillors have upped calls for a referendum.

Morley councillors have upped calls for a referendum on whether the town should be granted independence from Leeds City Council.

The appetite for a public vote on the future of the town’s links with Leeds has been building in the wake of last week’s Scottish independence referendum.

Morley Borough Independent councillor Robert Finnigan said he has been impressed with the passion shown by voters in Scotland and has called for the town to be withdrawn from Leeds City Council and run independently, citing the need to “devolve more decision making down to local level” as one of his main reasons.

He said: “We need to encourage that level of enthusiasm about the political process locally and get more people engaged in the debate.”

Councils across the UK are able to hold referendums on local issues, although most previous cases have involved the question of elected mayors - an idea voters in Leeds rejected in 2012.

However, it is not believed that a public poll has ever taken place to decide whether or not an area should leave a local council’s jurisdiction before, although such an idea is being proposed in Whitby as they look to break away from Scarborough authority.

Coun Finnigan said: “I have been impressed with the passion shown by voters in Scotland who debated the transfer of power away from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. Their referendum was about bringing decision making down to a local level and not being ruled by politicians who they didn’t vote for. Morley is in the same position with Leeds City Council dictating what happens to the town regardless of the fact that Morley voters didn’t vote for them.

However, Coun Neil Dawson warned that any independence would “lead to a massive increase in costs which will only be met by council taxpayers in Morley”.

He said: “A referendum will bring no benefits to Morley. It is more important to ensure that vital services are retained.”