TAXPAYERS in Swindon could see their council tax climb by 3.5 per cent – but councillors admit that savings will have to be found elsewhere.

Swindon Council will face job cuts, the mothballing of Park and Ride and higher charges for residents’ parking permits, as well as cuts in funding for libraries, Swindon Dance and town centre management.

All the details are included in papers prepared by number crunchers at Swindon Council ahead of Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

The 3.5 per cent rise will mean an extra £40.95 for Band D householders who will now have to pay £1,210 in council tax per year.

Council leader, Rod Bluh, said to have managed an affordable council tax increase in such difficult circumstances is a massive achievement for the council.

But the leader of the opposition said the budget reports were “full of deception” and would damage Swindon.

Coun Bluh said: “This has been the most difficult challenge we have had to face as a council but I believe that what we have delivered is a fair budget and honours our commitment to low council tax.”

But Labour leader Kevin Small said: “There seems to be a £1.8m gap between the 3.5 per cent increase and what is needed to balance the budget. Some of that will be paid for with one-off monies.

“This budget is going to give us a debt of at least £2m because of the use of one-off monies. That will have to be carried over into next year’s budget.

“The report is full of deception in the words they are using – for example talking about re-engineering rather than cutting jobs.

“They are also reducing funding to inSwindon at a time when we should be investing in the town centre.

“They are looking at cuts of £100,000 out of libraries. We already know that Old Town and Walcot libraries are under threat but they wouldn’t come to £100,000, so what else is there?”

Coun Bluh defended the proposals put forward by his administration.

He said: “We are always concerned about the decisions that affect the most people.

“So, the Park and Ride issue has been difficult. We appreciate that it affects a lot of people but it is also a service that is costing the council money and is an area where we can make savings.

“The reductions we are having to make on libraries are also regrettable, but Swindon is very well served with libraries compared to some other towns.

“Swindon Dance has also attracted quite a lot of attention even though that was something that the organisation knew would happen.

“They were told that when it came to a choice between statutory services and non-statutory services we would have to make that decision.

“One of the things I am very pleased about with this budget is the relatively small effect it has had on frontline services.

“Difficult choices have had to be made and we have never shied away from that but there is a balance that has to be struck between delivering services and a council tax rise that is acceptable in this very difficult economic climate.”

If the proposals are passed by cabinet they will go to a full council meeting on Monday February 23.