TORFAEN council will look to save £52,000 from its annual budget by scrapping the position of the borough mayor, in a bid to address a shortfall of almost £9million.

The authority’s cabinet agreed a raft of savings proposals at a meeting on Tuesday, which will now be subject to full council approval before it is brought in.

In addition to removing the mayor, cabinet meetings agreed an increase in council tax of 4.95 per cent which will raise an extra £1.8million for the authority.

Cllr Anthony Hunt, the leader of Torfaen council, described the decisions to remove the mayoral function and raise council tax as “tough”.

“One of the tough choices that has really struck home to me has been the mayoral position and the removal of the council car,” said the Panteg ward member.

“That’s something which has been done very reluctantly and is very difficult to do. I respect the position and the many people who have held it over the years.

“It will be inconvenient for us as members as we’ll have to do more events.

“If people on our schools, if staff in our social care, if staff in neighbourhood services are having to do more with less, we have to do more with less as members too.”

Two of Cllr Hunt’s cabinet, Cllr Veronica Crick – last year’s mayor – and Cllr Mandy Owen have held the position within the last four year.

“I think we went through this so very carefully in terms of the position of the mayor and what we could look to do for the future so that local people didn’t feel they were losing that lynchpin which is so important for so many groups,” said Cllr Crick.

The council tax increase would result in band D properties going up from £1,183.05 per year to £1241.61 – or £58.56 per year or £1.13 per week, pending precept amounts.

Cllr Hunt said: “Another difficult decision is council tax – nobody wants to raise council tax. I think we all realise the difficult that causes people who are hard-pressed in terms of their own budgets.

“But if we weren’t to do that, we’d have to find another £2million from service cuts.

“I really do think that would result in service closures. That would result in staff being lost and that would result in real suffering for people out in the community.”

Cllr Hunt added that after seven years of austerity, the ability to cut council services was becoming less straight-forward.

“I keep repeating this analogy, but it is like giving the same person a haircut seven days in a row,” he said.

“At the start you start with someone with long locks of hair that you can chop off quite readily.

“After the sixth or seventh haircut, they've not got a lot of hair to trim off.

“That’s the situation that’s face by councils across the UK now.

“We can be quite clear as a council that we reject the policy of austerity, but it still has consequences.

“The consequences for us this year is £9million more to save from local services.

“We are heading towards £60million in total since the start of austerity.”

He continued: "We often talk of funding for local government and I think in a way that is a bit of a misnomer – it’s not funding for local government, it’s funding for local services.

"The other consequence of course is that council tax payers end up paying more for less, as councils, like us, have to try to close the gap created by the local government taking money away and not covering pressures.

"The basic maths of the situation is that we receive around 15 per cent of our money from council tax, the rest of the money directly or indirectly comes from central government.

"So if that large portion of our money gets cut, the impact on the pressure on the remaining funding is great."

The medium term financial plan, also approved by cabinet, looks at the expected budget position for the next few years and indicates a further financial challenge of £25million over the next four years.

After cabinet consider the proposals, the full council will consider the final budget report including the council tax level on February 27.