St Albans residents are facing a council tax increase of almost six per cent as the final budget plans for 2018/19 were outlined.

The jump of 5.8 per cent is intended to cover an increase in funding for certain services, as well as counter decreasing government support.

Roma Mills, Labour Party group leader in St Albans, said that this latter point was damaging taxpayers who, in her eyes, are being forced to pay for mistakes in Westminster.

She said: “Council tax payers are just picking up some of the bill for the Conservative Government’s underfunding of public services.

“Meanwhile residents are also being asked to support crowd-funding and sponsorship to maintain local services like playgrounds. This is what austerity means in practice.”

Her position was supported by Liberal Democrat Group leader Chris White who said the increase served to highlight the ever-growing gap between local authorities and central government; something he believes will be untenable in the future.

However he gave his support for the decision on the basis that it was necessary to help tackle the social care crisis.

“An increase in council tax is no longer considered a negative on the doorstep,” he said.

“In fact, people are often in agreement that it should go up in order to pay for vital services.”

St Albans City and District Council upped its contribution to the precept by around one per cent though it noted that this still represents a small percentage overall.

Conservative leader at the council, Alec Campbell, explained that this increase was not only minimal but that it was the first for nine years.

“It is a great achievement that we have been able to keep it so low for so long,” he said.

“This increase of one per cent is to help with our key priorities as well as deal with the reduction in funding from central government.”

He added that the increase from the police sector – another point attacked by Cllr Mills – was to deal with an increase in crime across Hertfordshire.