A group of parishioners who have attacked Keighley Town Council’s spending decisions were themselves subject to a verbal onslaught at a town-centre public meeting.

Councillors and members of the public at the annual town meeting claimed Cavetown Council members were guilty of “bullying and disrespectful behaviour”.

Coun Peter Corkindale said the group had described the town council as “corrupt”. He said this amounted to branding him corrupt and warned anyone who accused him of this could expect to hear from his lawyer.

But Keighley resident Leo Robinson, who supported Cavetown at the meeting in Keighley Civic Centre last Wednesday, defended the group’s tactics.

“Cavetown are not bullies,” he said. “They’ve brought to people’s attention the fact the civic centre is running a deficit. We don’t want to be called all sorts of names by some councillors – some of the comments levelled against us have been horrible.”

However, councillors said Cave-town was responsible for the abusive language.

Responding to Mr Robinson, Coun Corkindale said: “You have to earn respect. Some of the comments made on Facebook have been far removed from respect.

“If you want to have a debate that’s fine but to use that kind of rhetoric is appalling.”

Joyce Newton, a former councillor, told Cavetown: “I’ve been bullied and insulted by many members of your group.”

Another Keighley resident, Andy Westerman, asked Cavetown members why they never targeted Bradford Council’s spending. He pointed out the district council-owned Keighley Town Hall costs as much per year to run as the town council’s civic centre.

Cavetown spokesman and Ingrow resident Elizabeth Mitchell responded to the criticism after the meeting.

She said the accusations against the group were “without foundation” and “ill-informed”.

“I represent myself when I raise concerns with Keighley Town Council, which go unanswered,” she said. “I have on occasions raised concerns with Bradford Council, which have always been dealt with courteously and promptly.

“The only people being disrespected are those who have dared to question the town council.”