A FRESH vision for Ilkley has been outlined by the new mayor after a political shake up at the town council.

Liberal Democrat Mark Stidworthy spoke of the chance for change after the local election brought greater diversity of political outlook - with ten new councillors out of a total of 14. The council now consists of five Conservatives, four Greens, three Liberal Democrats and two Independents.

This week Cllr Stidworthy was chosen as mayor at the first meeting since the election. He said he hoped the fresh start would empower local people to work with the council to address urgent challenges such as environmental sustainability. He also called on councillors to listen with humility, think collectively and develop imaginative ways to use public resources to catalyse positive change across Ilkley.

He later told the Ilkley Gazette: “We have an opportunity for change. The new Town Council has a wide spectrum of political opinion, gender balance, and a mixture of private and public sector experience across many walks of life.

“Around the town, residents worry about the effects of central government spending decisions, the funding challenge facing Bradford at District level with its effect on local services, and wider issues such as climate change, plastic waste and river water quality. They are concerned about the future of shared assets such as parks, the surrounding countryside and the town centre economy.

“In response, I have seen a genuine desire to get involved, shape the debate and have ownership of the solutions. For local businesses this is seen in the creation of the new Ilkley Business Improvement District."

"For local residents, it is in activist and Friends groups that have sprung up from the grassroots over the last 18 months to tackle the different challenges.

"I hope the Town Council will use its resources in a way that respects Ilkley’s proud civic heritage whilst enabling new cross-community conversations to harness the ideas, energy and imagination of all those, young and old, who love our town, and want to see a successful future for it."

The new deputy mayor, and newly elected Green councillor Ros Brown, described a sense of excitement about what was possible.

She said: “Although the environmental and social challenges facing us are vast we can only begin where we are. Our time, funds and powers as a Town Council are limited but this does not mean we cannot achieve great things if we view this new era in the life of the Council as a resource for the whole community.

“I look forward to building on the years of service given by former and existing councillors, working with our new council to achieve our best for our town and to supporting Mark Stidworthy as Mayor in the year ahead."

She told the public: "We are here to serve you. Please get in touch so we can work together in the exciting and challenging times ahead."