CRAVEN District Council is increasing its council tax by 2.9 per cent.

The average Craven householder (band D) can expect a council tax bill of £1,269.59 to land on their mats for the financial year 2006/07.

Of this £136.18 will go to the district council, £899.47 to North Yorkshire County Council (a rise of 4.9 per cent), £180 to North Yorkshire Police Authority (an increase of 2.27 per cent) and £53.94 to North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (a rise of 2.4 per cent).

Parish councils make up the fifth part of the council tax bill.

Bentham Town Council is demanding the biggest amount (£67.33 for a Band D home) with Skipton Town Council not far behind, asking for £60.12.

Once again Airton has the lowest precept with the parish council actually contributing £20.23 to the average bill.

Craven's 2.9 per cent increase equates to an annual rise of £3.84 or seven pence per week and was agreed at its full council meeting on Tuesday.

Council leader Carl Lis said Craven currently had the second lowest council tax among district authorities in North Yorkshire.

He said the overall theme of the 2006/07 budget was consolidation, locking in recent development while working to deliver better services.

He added the council's revenue spending plans for the coming year included retaining the posts of benefits visiting officers and introducing concessionary fares - a Government scheme allowing free local bus travel for over 60s and disabled people.

He said other significant capital projects for the forthcoming year included the ongoing programme of improving its car parks, a £733,000 investment in the second phase at Craven Swimming Pool and also spending money on new technology.

Coun Lis said the budget also included a number of proposals to reduce costs and make savings to the tune of £111,000.

The leader told the meeting: "In considering the level of council tax for 2006/07, we are very aware of public concerns nationally regarding the level of increase in recent years and we have sought to balance our commitment to improvements in service delivery with acceptable increases in council tax.

"Although as I said last year this is a challenge that seems to get harder with each year that passes."

The Conservative contingent of the council abstained from voting on the budget.

Deputy party leader Helen Firth, speaking in the absence of leader Chris Knowles-Fitton, said she thought they had failed the tax payer and also criticised the budget-setting process, saying not all councillors had been involved in it.

* Pendle Borough Council has kept its share of local taxes exactly the same for next 12 months.

Despite increases for other authorities, Pendle's share of council tax bills will not even increase to account for inflation.

However, households will still see an increase of 4.11 per cent imposed by other bodies who take their funding from local rates - namely Lancashire County Council and the county's fire and police services.

Without parish precepts, an average Band D householder will have to find £1,382.89.

The county council put its share of the bill up by 4.9 per cent, equating to an annual charge of £996.85 for a band D household, while the police authority increased its charges by 4.99 per cent. This means a Band D property will have to pay £113.09.

The fire authority has raised its precept by five per cent, which will mean a total contribution of £54.71 for a Band D household.

Pendle decided to freeze its share of the bill at a meeting on Wednesday.

Coun Alan Davies, leader of Pendle Council, said: "We're delighted to have put together a budget which returns to local people a significant amount of their money, from savings we have made over the last couple of years.

"Our careful accounting means that we can keep Pendle's share of the council tax the same for the next 12 months.

"Running through this year's budget, it is our intention to make all communities in Pendle cleaner, greener, safer, healthier and wealthier.

"We're absolutely determined to improve the quality of services for people who live in, work in and visit every area of Pendle, and to improve our area's attractiveness.

"We want to see real delivery in the areas of customer services, poor housing, town centres, tourism and our environment.

"Most importantly, we can pay for this using money that we have saved rather than putting up the council tax."

Just 16 per cent of council tax in Pendle goes to the borough council. Seventy two per cent goes to Lancashire County Council, eight per cent to Lancashire Police and four per cent to the county's fire authority.

* Bradford Council will decide its council tax bill on Thursday.