COUNCIL tax will rise by 3.5 per cent in 2009/10 across Swindon, but some services face the chop.

This was the result of a heated council meeting last night at which councillors thrashed out the details of an already much-debated budget.

Controversial cuts in the park and ride service, Swindon Dance and local libraries remained in the budget.

Both Labour and the Lib Dems offered up alternative proposals that they claimed would save the services, but all were voted down by the controlling Conservative group.

The result of the budget means that the average Band D property in Swindon will now be paying out £1,366.20 per year in council tax.

Conservatives claimed that the budget was a fair and balanced one and that any cuts in services had been aimed at the areas affecting the least residents.

But opposition councillors attacked the proposals and urged the Tories to re-think cuts in key areas.

Council leader Rod Bluh defended the work done by his cabinet.

He said: “The good thing about being in opposition is that you don’t have to make any decisions.

“This has been a difficult budget but I am happy to stand by what we have delivered.”

Coun Mark Edwards, lead member for resources, said: “There are decisions that we would like not to have made but an enormous amount of work has gone into this and no decision has been taken lightly.”

During a four-and-a-half hour meeting the key topics of conversation were the £331,000 saved through mothballing the park and ride service, the £92,000 cut in the libraries budget and a £75,000 cut in funding to Swindon Dance over three years.

But cabinet members insisted that savings had to be made somewhere and at times expressed exasperation that out of 190 budget lines only three or four were being debated.