Council tax and rents could increase from spring as the district council revealed its spending plans.

St Albans District Council released its draft corporate plan, which sets out its spending priorities for the next five years, and its proposed budget for 2020/21, which estimates its income and day-to-day expenditure for the financial year.

Under the proposals, the district council's tax precept could increase by 2.8 per cent - after a 2.39 per cent increase last year.

Council tenants may also see a 2.7 per cent increase in rent from April.

The rent increase, set by the government, comes as the national policy of reducing rents by 1 per cent every year ends. From spring, rents will go up by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate - which is 1.7 per cent for September 2019 - plus 1 per cent every year for a period of five years.

Both plans have been recommended by the council's cabinet on December 19 and is due to be decided by the full council at a 7pm meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, January 15).

The increased tax and rents will be used to pay for priorities highlighted in the corporate plan, the council said.

This includes improving the shortage of social housing, tackling the climate emergency, improving community facilities and making the council business-friendly.

Council leader Chris White said: "We have set ourselves some difficult challenges for the years ahead, especially in relation to climate change.

“We will be looking to accelerate the district’s number of electric charging points to encourage greater use of electric rather than petrol cars.

"Solutions like this cost money. We will need to look for new funding sources as well as take tough decisions about our spending plans and how we operate.

“Our new corporate plan has been developed to greatly improve the district and I am confident our residents will support our over-arching objectives and help where they can by, for example, further improving our recycling rate.”

Among some of the initiatives to reduce emissions and improve air quality, the district council hopes to work with Hertfordshire County Council to reduce traffic congestion, pedestrianise Market Place in St Albans, introduce more 20mph zones and establish anti-idling zones.

It said it will also work to return the River Ver, which flows through Verulamium Park, to its natural state.

On social housing, the council hopes to build more social homes in its city centre sites, bring down the number of empty council homes to less than 1 per cent, and improve the system of repairing its properties.

On community facilities, the council plans to create a community hub at the Marlborough Pavilion in the Cottonmill area of St Albans.

It will also help St Albans City Football Club find a site for its new stadium and progress the new Harpenden Leisure and Cultural Centres.

On becoming more business friendly, the council said it will lobby the government about the need to reform business rates, aim to reduce losses at the St Albans Museum and Gallery and develop a new Christmas programme for the district.