COUNCILLORS have this evening voted to increase council tax for residents in the borough - as the administration's proposed budget gets the green light.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is adding £5 to taxpayers across the borough, taking payments to the borough alone from £126.42 to £131.42 annually.

The proposal was put to public consultation at the end of last year.

The hike formed part of the council’s proposed 2021/22 budget, which was approved at a meeting of full council on Thursday (February 25).

During debate, council leader Cllr Ken Rhatigan describes the budget as "an opportunity for a civic reset" which “does not look back", but charges people "proportionately" and "in an explainable way".

However, concerns were raised by other members on various areas subject to cuts and fee increases, including waste collection, job cuts and the axing of the town’s shuttle bus service, as well as the tax hike.

Cllr Andy McCormick, leader of the Labour group, described the budget as "a woeful budget prepared by a minority administration" which is "bereft of compassion".

With regard to the council tax hike, he said: "In normal circumstances we might be a bit nervous about raising council tax, but I have to say we also have redundancies on this paper tonight and I don’t think any of us want to see that either."

He therefore said it was a “compromise budget”, but that his group had concerns and were therefore putting forward an amendment to scrap proposed increase in waste collection charges and the axing of the shuttle bus service.

This was rejected by members, leading Cllr McCormick to add that Labour "extended an olive branch and had it rebuffed".

"The deputy leader said 'things need to be different moving forward'. Too right. We need a new administration. This one has run its course."

Cllr McCormick’s concerns were echoed by Cllr Kim Taylor (Labour, Brighton Hill) who said "she sees very little hope or aspiration for this budget for the future", with "very little of what residents want".

However, Cllr Tristan Robinson, member for homes and families, said the budget is one of "optimism" and added that the council's property portfolio creates jobs, allows flexibility, and raises almost twice as much of the budget than council tax (17% in council tax and 33% from portfolio property).

Cllr Hannah Golding, member for finance and service improvement, added: "I am pleased with the balance that we have achieved in this budget", in "maintaining key services", and offering additional funding to the climate emergency, as well as taking "bold" and "difficult" decisions.

"We still have one of the highest spends per resident, so people of Basingstoke and Deane absolutely do get value for money", she said.

The confirmed rise in council tax locally comes after Hampshire County Council announced a four per cent hike in council tax, which will see band D households paying £51 more a year on their contributions to HCC.

This means that, all together, residents will be faced with a £56 increase.

The administration's 2021/22 budget was approved by councillors, with 30 votes for, 16 against and 10 abstentions.