POLICE have asked parish councils for £500 towards a new speed gun - just weeks after approving a 76 per cent increase in their share of the council tax.

North Yorkshire Police has written to parish councils along the A65 asking for a donation towards the £5,000 speed detection device, but their request has incensed local councillors and residents.

Horton-in-Ribblesdale Parish Council was one of those approached for a donation, but declined because of the recent heavy increase in council tax for the police.

Chairman Coun Sheila Millman said: "We felt there should be enough money to go round. We are going to write to the Chief Constable and ask that the necessary funds are made available for the local police officers to have what they need.

"It seems ironic that there's been this vast increase in the police authority's share of the council tax, yet the officers have to come round with a begging bowl.

"We felt sorry for the local officers having to ask for the money."

And Peter Scott-Smith, of the Long Preston A65 Action Group, which has campaigned for action against speeders, said: "The police have clearly demonstrated that they have a sense of humour in asking tax payers to supplement the 76 per cent increase they have already had, when such things as laser guns should be paid for out of the existing police budget."

Sgt Ian Spence, Commander of the Settle Local Police Area, said speeding on the A65 was the biggest cause of complaints from residents and parish councils in North Craven and police were trying to address the issue. He currently had no speed detection device in Settle and there was no money in the budget to purchase one.

Sgt Spence, who sent out the letter, said the Government's Crime and Disorder Act put the onus on police to work in partnership with other agencies, such as local councils, in trying to stem crime.

"People are saying to us that speeding is a big problem and wanting us to do something about it, but I am saying let's work in partnership so locally we can do something."

He added that a request for funding for the speed gun had also been submitted to North Yorkshire County Council and Craven District Council by the Settle Area Multi-Agency Problem Solving Group.

But the request for money comes after North Yorkshire Police approved a 76 per cent increase in its share of the council tax which resulted in an extra £21 million from taxpayers across the county. Locals questioned the huge increase, but Chief Inspector Nick Smedley defended the rise saying the money would mean more police recruits for Craven plus other benefits including improved communications.

Sgt Spence also approached Hellifield Parish Council, but again the request for money was rejected out of hand.

Chairman Jeremy Sample said: "We felt that the timing was unfortunate when we were discussing this two days after our council tax bills had arrived showing the 76 per cent increase.

"We felt that there should be enough money knocking about to buy one of these speed guns and are worried that the extra money will go on think tanks and sit down meetings that produce nothing."

Long Preston Parish Council also declined to contribute.

Chairman Dave Inglis said: "We find it strange they are asking for this money when they have already had such an increase (from the council tax). North Yorkshire Police seem to be the only authority that does this. All other authorities seem to have the money to pay for speed guns themselves."

Settle Parish Council has agreed to donate £250 towards the purchase of the speed gun, however.

Clerk Peter Leng said: "We felt that there was a problem with people evading the speed limit through the town and felt some justification in donating this money."

In February this year police in Ingleton were presented with their own speed gun thanks to local fundraising.

North Yorkshire County Council's Craven area committee awarded a grant of £4,500 for the radar gun and this was match funded by the Ingleton Rural Community Association. Villagers hoped it would encourage drivers to cut their speed reducing the deaths and injuries on North Craven roads.