Pool-in-Wharfedale Parish Council has officially responded to a petition slamming its decision to raise the precept by 8.4 per cent.

The petition, organised by former parish councillor Tim Robson, was handed to a parish council representative in January.

The council decided last December to increase its precept for 2011 to 2012 by £2,619. The rise amounts to a 5p per week increase for most households, and means residents in Band D homes will be paying 67p a week.

But Mr Robson and others have questioned why the ‘parish tax’ is being raised at a time of recession, when neighbouring councils like Bramhope & Carlton and Otley are freezing theirs.

Now the council has issued a full response, which will be posted on the village’s notice boards.

It says: “We appreciate residents may have concerns about the increase in the precept and did not take the decision to increase it lightly.

“In the last year the council has taken steps to ensure our procedures are more transparent and that more information is publicly available.

“Where possible information is available on our website and hard copies of most documents can be obtained from the clerk. In addition, we have a session at the start of every meeting where people can come and tell us of their concerns.

“The precept setting process this year was supported with a detailed budget, every line of which was reviewed individually by the finance committee.

“Savings have been made in administrative costs where possible, for example, we have reduced our telephone usage by 50 per cent. Members of the public were able to comment on the budget, which was publicly available at the finance committee meeting in November and council meetings in December and January.”

The council has also rejected claims it will be sitting on a “huge pot of money”. It said: “We sought specific advice as to the level of general reserves which should be held. As most of our expenditure goes out in the first six months of the year, the reserves level has been set to cover all non-discretionary items, which equates to £15,000.

“This ensures that in the event of the precept payment not arriving in a timely manner from Leeds City Council we are able to meet our commitments.”

The statement also invites residents to attend council meetings.