MONMOUTHSHIRE council's leader has said it is "with a heavy heart" that the authority is proposing to increase council tax by nearly six per cent.

The county council's cabinet has approved opening a consultation on budget proposals for next year which include raising council tax by 5.95 per cent.

It comes as the authority faces a cash reduction of £330,000 in funding from the Welsh Government.

Cllr Phil Murphy added: "It's the highest increase in council tax that we have been proposing for a long time."

The authority needs to find savings of £5.7million in the next financial year.

Other budget savings proposed include charging blue badge holders, increasing parking charges by 10 per cent, introducing charges on Sundays and at one new site at Severn Tunnel Junction.

Day closures at tips and setting up a new way of delivering tourism, leisure and culture services are also planned to bring savings.

Initially the council faced a £936,000 cash reduction but after Wednesday's cabinet meeting Welsh Government has announced this has changed to £330,000.

Leader of the council, Cllr Peter Fox, said: "We can't get away from the fact there is almost £1million less coming to Monmouthshire this year in cash terms.

"We are faced with £5.7million of pressures.

"It's obvious we are going to have to look really hard at all service areas and council tax.

"It is with a really heavy heart that we have to consider council tax increases at the level we are looking at."

Following the proposed rise next year, council tax increases of 3.95 per cent for the remaining years of the administration are planned.

School budgets have been protected and additional resources have been allocated to meet increasing demand for children's and adults social services in the plans.

Despite the savings proposed though, further savings of £594,000 still needs to be addressed.

Further savings would need to be found if funding was not made available in the final Welsh Government settlement, according to a council report.

Cllr Richard John raised concerns that Welsh Government's formula for allocating funding was hitting large rural authorities such as Monmouthshire.

He said: "There are other authorities out there sat on a war chest of £150million.

"That gap is only going to get wider and it's putting pressure on services and making it very difficult to fulfill our commitments to protect school budgets and provide for the vulnerable in our communities."

The budget plans will go be out for consultation until January 31.