CASH-strapped residents in Wrexham will be forced to pay ‘less for more’ after politicians approved adding an extra £60 a year to their council tax bills.

An opposition group leader warned the 5.5 increase will impact the most vulnerable families as a rise which will see the average annual bill go up to £1,150 was voted through.

The budget for the upcoming financial year also includes cuts worth almost £6m.

However, council leader Mark Pritchard (Ind) said it was necessary in light of a reduction of 0.1 per cent to the authority’s grant by the Welsh Government.

The head of the ruling independent and Conservative coalition said Wrexham had lost £62m in government funding since 2008.

Speaking at the town’s Guildhall, he said: “The budget that is being recommended to you today is extremely tough.

“Wrexham Council will have a cut of 0.1 per cent while health in Wales has had an increase of over seven per cent.

“It is as a result of this that we’ve had to include £5.8m of cuts to local services in the budget.

“It’s been tough, it’s been difficult and it’s been hard I can tell you, but I’m pleased that we’ve got there.

“We have listened to the public on council tax and kept the increase as low as possible.”

Libraries could close or be relocated to other buildings under the proposals outlined, but plans to cut free transport for pupils attending faith schools and to charge for green bin collections have been dropped.

Cllr Pritchard compared Wrexham’s council tax increase to other areas in Wales, such as neighbouring Flintshire where rates went up by 8.75 per cent this week.

However, the leader of the Plaid Cymru group said there was unrest among residents.

Cllr Marc Jones suggested reducing the number of councillors on the executive board from 10 to eight in order to reduce costs.

He said: “These are very dark days for local councils.

“People are angry and they’re rightly angry because they’re paying more and getting less.

“Council tax has risen to meet the increasing shortfall and that’s unfair.

“The services that survive are also being hollowed out to the extent some departments are barely functioning.

“Last year Plaid Cymru put forward that we should cut senior management posts and I’m pleased to see that in this budget that is happening.

“In light of the reduction to senior officers I also think we need to look at reducing the numbers on the executive board.”

Cllr Jones was one of only two councillors who voted against the plans, along with his fellow party member Cllr Carrie Harper.

The Labour group, the second largest on the authority, chose to support the rise, although its leader backed calls for a review of the number of senior councillors.

Cllr Dana Davies said Labour members would be giving a recently approved pay increase to charity and urged the administration to continue supporting Wrexham’s Citizens Advice Bureau.

In response, Cllr Pritchard said he would be willing to review the number of councillors on the board, as well as examining the amount of committee chairs.

However, he accused Cllr Jones of ignoring that Plaid Cymru politicians in Cardiff chose to back the Welsh Government’s budget, which had impacted on local authorities.

He said: “When I have Cllr Marc Jones sitting there and saying it’s going to be a disaster, Plaid supported Labour to bring this settlement in so you supported it.

“Let’s stop the camouflage and let the people of Wrexham understand what’s going on here.

“When is the penny going to drop with you that we have to work together and stop throwing rocks at each other?

“Things won’t change unless we have a better settlement and I can’t influence that because I’m not a member of a party that’s in the Senedd.”

Cllr Pritchard said the council’s budget for 2019/20 included a three per cent increase in the amount given to schools, but one opposition leader felt the council tax rise did not go far enough.

Cllr Alun Jenkins, who represents the Liberal Democrats, called for levels to be put up by a further four per cent in order to protect services.

He said: “I regret now that for another year coming we’re facing savings of £5.8m again.

“Wrexham’s got the seventh lowest council tax levels in the whole of the UK.

“At executive board I suggested what we needed to do in Wrexham to dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in is to increase council tax by a further four per cent.

“If we value local councils then we’ve got to be prepared to put money into those services in order to keep them going.”

The majority of councillors backed the increase by a margin of 42 votes to two, with two abstentions from Cllr Jenkins and Cllr Mike Davies.