Bradford Council’s chief executive has defended a decision to spend public money on installing security cameras at the home of a senior councillor after a suspected attack by animals rights extremists.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth was advised to install a CCTV system after vandals poured corrosive chemicals over two cars on the driveway of her home in Manley Road, Ben Rhydding, early on Friday.

The Bradford Council environment boss, who supports the return of grouse shooting on the council-owned Ilkley Moor, is convinced animal rights activists are to blame.

The council’s decision to pay for CCTV security cameras at Coun Hawkesworth’s home this week attracted criticism.

But the council’s chief executive, Tony Reeves, said: “The council has agreed to install CCTV at Coun Hawkesworth’s home. CCTV is used to protect councillors’ property if it is believed the damage may have been a result of their council activities. It is likely that we can use existing mobile equipment from our CCTV unit to improve the safety. Any costs associated with that will be staff costs and minimal installation costs.”

Leaders of Bradford Council’s other political groups have defended the move.

Labour’s Coun Ian Greenwood said: “If councillors start to be threatened in this way by people who are, frankly, lunatics, they should be protected by the council.”

Liberal leader Coun Jeanette Sunderland added: “Councillors of all political parties put up with erosion of time, quality of life and their personal safety and it is right and proper that the public should be prepared to support them.”

The council met strong criticism from hunt saboteurs and other animal groups last year when it signed a ten-year deal with the Bingley Moor Partnership to bring grouse shooting back to the moor.

No animal rights groups have claimed the attack, which ruined the paintwork on Coun Hawkesworth#’s Vauxhall Tigra and her husband’s Vauxhall Astra. Police say their investigations have not found any link to extremists.

Coun Hawkesworth, who is also an Ilkley ward councillor and member of Ilkley Parish Council, said she thought there was a strong possibility the vandalism had been caused by animal rights extremists because of her support for grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor.

She says she has previously taken advice on personal security, but her home address is kept in the public domain.

“I actually display my address, which, as a representative, I should be able to do and not feel intimidated,” said Coun Hawkesworth. “Despite what people are saying, I can’t pay for the CCTV cameras myself because they will be monitored by the council’s system and will work through a broadband line. What I will be doing, however, is paying for floodlights in my garden to be put on a sensor. It is costing a considerable amount of money to replace the cars.”

Inspector Sue Sanderson, of Ilkley Neighbourhood Policing Team, said house-to-house enquiries around Ben Rhydding had been completed, and no one had reported seeing the vandals. Police have also been monitoring the internet, where animal groups have previously made claims that they smashed grouse pens on Ilkley Moor.

She said it was not known if the vandalism was directed at Coun Hawkesworth, or her husband, a local solicitor.