SWINDON borough has agreed to raise its slice of council tax by 3.4 per cent this coming financial year.

The council last night gave final approval to the budget revealed in the Adver a week ago, meaning its take from the average Band D household will go up £34 for the year.

On top of that, rises are expected in most parish council bills and the police precept.

Council leader Roderick Bluh said it was the Conservatives' third "good budget" that trimmed waste at the same time as keeping important services.

"It was a good budget last year and it was a good budget the year before," Coun Bluh said.

"We keep hearing the wheels are going to fall off but they aren't. Keeping council tax low isn't an option, it's a priority."

Cabinet member for resources Nick Martin said the Government auditor had congratulated the council on the budget.

The increase in council tax and the 1,000 households that have joined the town in the financial year means the borough's takings will grow by £3.25m.

Added to a Government funding rise of £973,000 and an average increase in fees and charges of three per cent, the council will have £117m to spend.

The biggest item in the budget is £1.25m to go on a new recycling scheme to be rolled out across the town from July.

Labour opposition leader Kevin Small said his party was concerned by hidden cuts in the budget.

"This year's budget on the face of things looks to be okay, but when you dig down you find it is riddled with all the usual Tory tricks," he said.

"It would seem the Administration has spent more time on presentation than on balancing the books. Take a quick look at this year's budget and you would think that there are a few cuts.

"Take a closer look and you find that existing services are being cut back by a staggering £5.7m.

"Another hidden part of this budget is the extra £1.7m the administration seeks to raise from extra charges, or should I say hidden taxation."

Coun Small said charges for the crematorium, fishing permits and hall hire would all rise many times above inflation.

He said late tweaking to the Wroughton park and ride, cutting £70,000 by removing security guards, would not save it.

"The Wroughton Park and Ride may be saved for the time being but I am sure it will close later this year when all the fuss has died down and the Tories can slip its closure through," said Coun Small.

Lib Dem leader Stan Pajak congratulated the Conservatives on their budget but was concerned that their prediction that there would be money left over from pensioner bus travel was wrong.