A plan to increase the police precept for West Yorkshire council taxpayers to protect frontline policing in the county has been approved.

The decision, by the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, to give the go ahead to the increase, was welcomed by one Bradford panel member.

But another condemned the rise and said the precept should have been frozen.

The proposal, by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, to up the police tax by fractionally less than two per cent, was supported by the panel yesterday.

Mr Burns-Williamson told members the increase would help pay for the recruitment of 126 police officers and 70 essential police staff in the next year – though Government budget cuts will still mean an overall reduction of nearly 100 officers.

Panel member Imran Hussain, Bradford Council deputy leader, said the increase would mitigate the damage of the budget cuts.

He said: “Nobody wants to raise the precept, and it is with a heavy heart that you vote for it. But it is important to make sure we have a police force providing an excellent service and that frontline policing is protected and crime is tackled in the most effective way possible.

“Frontline policing is a key priority and we need to make sure it isn’t affected.”

But Conservative Bradford panel member Michael Walls voted against the rise.

He said: “There was an offer that if he froze the precept, then the Government would have given him one per cent, which is not far off what he would have got from the nearly two per cent increase.”

Coun Walls said Council taxpayers didn’t need another hike on their bills.

He said: “He put it up last year and no doubt it will be going up again next year.”

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “The proposal is essential to continue sustained recruitment of police officers and staff and to protect the level of PCSOs, so I really welcome the Panel’s support.

“I firmly believe my proposal to the Panel, and the public generally, provides a sound footing in helping to safeguard the future of West Yorkshire Police.”