COUNCIL tax is set to rise again.

Swindon councillors are to discuss proposals for a 3.5 per cent rise at tomorrow's cabinet meeting.

That equates to £33.25 extra a year for the average household.

Under the proposals, D householders would pay approximately £1,170 a year, including police, fire brigade and parish precepts.

Coun Nick Martin, cabinet member for resources, said the rise was "fair and affordable".

He said: "This budget sets out our plans for regeneration and transformation, having spent the last three years recovering Swindon from a failing council to one which is now delivering improved services, many of which are good and some excellent.

"The 2008 budget is a budget for transformation - Swindon's first budget for new schools, a new town centre, new care homes and joint working with the Primary Care Trust."

Coun Martin, pictured, has hit out at the Government's allocation of funding, saying that the level of general grant received by Swindon is £49m below the average.

He said: "If Swindon was Milton Keynes we would receive an extra £90 per annum more Government grant for every one of our adult population."

The 2008-09 budget sets out an extra £10m investment in services above inflation.

These include £2m on household waste recycling, £370,000 on the new central library and £2.2m on social care.

Coun Martin said that savings of £7m had been achieved through partnership savings, cheaper insurance contracts and the loss of 135 staff.

Labour group leader, Kevin Small said that the council tax rise was another example of the Conservative-led council failing to live up to its promises.

He said: "They made a real show about the level of council tax rises and promised to keep it in line with inflation.

"Once again they have not been able to live up to their promise.

"I would also remind Nick Martin of the comments made last week by the chair of the audit commission, who described Swindon as a stagnant authority.

"The council has failed to progress from a two-star to a three-star rating, whereas most other authorities in that position have improved.

"I think this seriously dents the claims of the Conservatives that the council is improving."

Additional loan charges of £1m for capital programmes are also included in the budget.

Wiltshire and Swindon Fire Authority has agreed to an increase of 4.25 per cent in its share of council tax.

At a meeting on February 7, members adopted a budget of £23,518,100.

This means that the average Band D household in Swindon will be paying £57.74 for the Fire & Rescue Service in 2008/2009.

Authority chairman, Jerry Willmott said: "This is a budget that balances what's best for the Service and what's best for the tax payer, and it gives us a good grounding for future years.

"We have found a way to meet the continuing need to improve and modernise what we do, and to ensure that our firefighters are supported by the latest communications and safety equipment."