Wales

Conwy council bosses to press ahead with 9.6% tax rise plan

Council tax bill Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Councillors were told £1m earmarked for school investment could help plug the budget shortfall

Conwy council leaders have vowed to press ahead with a plan to use £1m of school buildings cash to soften the blow of this year's council tax rise.

The independent/Conservative cabinet says it means an increase of 9.6% rather than 11.6%.

Sam Rowlands, responsible for finance, said the school buildings fund would be replenished before the cash was needed.

Opposition councillors rejected the idea last week, saying the money would be better spent protecting services.

Cash-strapped Conwy - the first local authority in Wales to bring in monthly bin collections - is facing a budget shortfall of £15.2m.

Council leader Gareth Jones was exasperated at the fact that the scrutiny committee had not supported the 9.6% increase, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But independent councillor Goronwy Edwards said members were concerned about the use of money from the school buildings budget.

"We know the pressures on our primary schools where there is a massive demand for classroom spaces," he said.

"That was one of the reasons members have difficulty in taking that money."

However, Councillor Rowlands argued that the money - to be used under the Welsh Government 21st Century Schools scheme - would not be needed for several years.

"I understand where members' concerns are coming from on that," he said.

"We have committed to replenish that money when that spend is required.

"It seems silly to me to sit on £1m waiting for something to happen."

The final decision on Conwy's budget and council tax will be made by the full council later in February.

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