Keighley Town Council last night approved a 72.6 per cent increase in its precept at a heated meeting in the town hall.

Council members agreed by 19 votes to seven to increase their annual charge on Band B properties – the rating for most local homes – from £18.90 to £32.62 for 2013/14. Four councillors were absent.

During the meeting, Keighley mayor Councillor George Metcalf repeatedly asked members of the public to be quiet, following interruptions from the gallery.

Councillors in favour of the budget pointed out that the rise was only equivalent to an extra 26 pence per week per Band B household.

They said they were proposing the budget as a reluctant response to Government policies and the need to fund Keighley Civic Centre, which is reportedly £74,000 in the red.

Speaking in support of the budget, Coun Graham Mitchell said headlines in the local press focusing on the percentage of the rise were probably meant to be scary.

He said the reality of a pensioner in Oakworth having to pay an extra 30 pence a week was much less alarming.

Opposing the planned precept, Coun Ron Beale said: "The spending of this town council has got absolutely out of hand.

"If you're going to put the precept up by 72.6 per cent give the people of this town a referendum to see if they want this council."

For the full story, see next week's Keighley News.