CUTS to school budgets, voluntary groups and highways funding could all be reversed in Caerphilly, with a council tax rise of nearly seven per cent also lowered significantly.

Council leader Philippa Marsden indicated that a rethink is on the cards, due to the county borough council having received a better settlement from the Welsh Government than was expected - with a 4.1 per cent increase in funding - and also following feedback from a public consultation on the budget plans.

Changes which could be made include lowering a proposed 6.95 per cent council tax rise to 4.7 per cent.

Slashing the budgets of voluntary groups - Citizens Advice Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent, Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations (GAVO), and the Groundwork Trust - by 40 per cent could be deferred.

Other changes include protecting school budgets - which were to be cut by two per cent - and reversing reductions in CCTV cameras and the highways maintenance budget.

School crossing patrol sites were going to be reduced from 55 to 22, but it is now indicated that no cuts will be made.

A proposed increase in school meal prices also looks set to be abandoned.

Cllr Marsden said she is “keen to demonstrate that we will respond positively to feedback received from our residents.”

“These proposed changes to the original list of savings are still being finalised, but I wanted to give everyone an early indication of the sort of positive steps we are considering,” she said.

“The improved financial settlement from Welsh Government has allowed us to reconsider our position, but there are challenges ahead, so we will still be looking to make savings in advance wherever possible - particularly in areas that have no impact on the public or on frontline service delivery.”

Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the council’s Plaid Cymru group, said he was pleased some of the plans were being reconsidered, but added he was ‘amazed’ some of the proposals were ever put forward.

“It’s a case of retracting some of the proposals that we think should never have been made in the first place,” he said.

“Things like taking money off the voluntary sector, none of it made sense.”

Councillor Kevin Etheridge, leader of the Independent group, welcomed “any positivity”, but said he believes a 4.7 per cent council tax rise is “still too high” given the improved settlement.

More details will be announced in the coming weeks, before the council’s cabinet finalises budget plans in February.