MONMOUTHSHIRE residents will see their council tax rise by 5.95 per cent while the local authority makes savings of £6.7 million.

Parking fees will increase by 10 per cent, while recycling will be taken in plastic bags instead of starch to save extra money.

But parking charges for blue badge holders and cutting staff within the special learning difficulties service were among cutbacks that were reconsidered by the council.

Free Press Series: Parking charges against blue badge holders will not be pursued, but a 10 per cent parking fee hike will still go aheadParking charges against blue badge holders will not be pursued, but a 10 per cent parking fee hike will still go ahead

Council leader Peter Fox said the budget had been set with a ‘heavy heart’, with tax bills for Band D properties going up by £74 to £1,315, not including community council or police precepts.

But Councillor Dimitri Batrouni, leader of the council’s Labour group, described the budget as ‘cynical’ amid continued austerity.

“We’ve reached the heights of madness of Conservative ideology, imposing eye-watering taxes on hard-working residents while taking away their services,” he said.

Cllr Batrouni also criticised council chiefs for attacking the Welsh Government when Monmouthshire received extra funding from the local government settlement in December.

Concerns were also raised about proposals to close Chepstow’s Mounton House special school.


But Cllr Fox dismissed comments about UK Government funding as ‘theatre’, adding: “The Welsh Government has had a cash increase year on year, at the same time it slices money out of local government.”

The Labour group was also criticised for not presenting an alternative budget, though Cllr Batrouni’s suggestion to raise council tax on second homes to cover carers’ tuition fees was explored, but ultimately dismissed, by the cabinet.

Lib Dem councillor Jez Becker feared the £1 charge for Sunday parking after a two-hour free stay could threaten work being done in Chepstow and across the county to revitalise high streets.

Free Press Series: A view from the top of Chepstow's High StreetA view from the top of Chepstow's High Street

“I can’t believe that £1 is going to pay for 21st Century Schools or something of that nature,” said Cllr Becker.

“I think we should be open minded about suspending such a charge if there’s an event.”

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Councillor Debby Blakebrough, leader of the Independent group, described the budget process as ‘difficult’ but praised the administration for ‘refraining from culling’ public services.

Conservative councillor Paul Pavia said it was hard for councils of any colour to raise council tax and called for a ‘fundamental re-examination’ of council tax and what Welsh citizens want from local government.