PEOPLE in Monmouthshire can have their say on council plans to raise council tax and turn off street lights as part of cost-cutting measures in next year’s budget.

Cabinet members met at County Hall in Rhadyr, near Usk, where budget proposals were approved at a special meeting for 2014/15. The proposals will now go into a consultation period which will allow the public to comment at the end of January.

The council has to make savings of £12.8 million over four years. The budget proposes an increase in council tax of three per cent and aims to create £134,000 of savings in leisure services alone.

Proposals include switching off street lights from midnight to 5am and a rise in school meals from £1.65 to £2.

Cllr Phil Murphy, cabinet member for finance, said the school budget would be protected and the future schools programme factored in.

He said: “The focus is on developing services to be as sustainable as possible and to avoid further cuts to front line services. The overspend of 2013/14 has been retained in the budget figures.”

The council was the first in Wales to directly engage with people on next year’s budget, which took place during a series of question and answer workshops during October.

Peter Fox, council leader, said: “Everyone has got involved in this from officers to the public. This has been a new way to do the budget this year. Many ideas have been morphed into proposals.

“The public consolation is an opportunity to talk to people and for the public to help close the gap.”