MONMOUTHSHIRE’S council tax increase is set to remain at 3.95 per cent for 2017/18 after councillors recommended draft budget plans at a meeting yesterday.

The meeting about the final proposals on the revenue and capital budget saw the cabinet recommend to keep the 3.95 per cent increase in the Band D equivalent council tax for the county.

Peter Fox, leader of Monmouthshire County Council, said: “Our perspective on council tax has remained at cabinet at 3.95 per cent. I noted in the round of potential council tax increases across Wales that it is about average with some nearer to five per cent and some nearer to two per cent.

“Recognising the pressures and level of funding we have per capita which is considerably less than elsewhere in Wales we recommend to council that our figure of 3.95 remains.”

Although the entire revenue and capital budget proposals will be discussed at full council on March 9, the cabinet said there has been an £80,000 overspend on Tourist Information Centres across Monmouthshire and an £86,000 overspend on children’s social services.

It was also said by the Labour group leader Cllr Dimitri Batrouni that the public consultation and engagement process the council implemented between December 16, 2016 and January 31, 2017, was “unsuccessful”.

The council’s aim was to directly engage with the public and to inform them of ideas that would directly affect them.

Two public sessions were held in County Hall in Usk and social media sessions on Facebook and Twitter were also held to try and get people to share their ideas on the draft budget.

However, Cllr Batrouni said this seemed to have failed due to low participation.

He said: “I know the council has made big strides to increase engagement and the vocabulary used over recent years is to increase the participation and use the public views but again we’ve failed. Are we banging our head against a brick wall here?”

Cllr Phil Murphy replied and said that Monmouthshire County Council will still try and engage with the public, and look at the way other council’s interact with residents.

Cllr Bob Greenland also added that council’s usually hear when “something goes wrong” but when they are satisfied the council “don’t usually hear from them”.

He said: “So perhaps we can take it that the residents of Monmouthshire are pretty pleased with the way that this administration has delivered its services.”

The full council discussions of budget plans will be held at Usk’s County Hall on March 9.