OPINIONS were divided as to whether Wrexham residents should pay an increase in council tax of nearly seven per cent.

The Leader previously reported that householders in the county were set to face an increase of 6.95 per cent as the local authority seeks to inject more money into its services.

The recommendations, made by the Executive Board meeting, were put to full council on February 26.

Council Leader Mark Pritchard said the increase in council tax equates to £1.50 per week for a typical band D property.

He told members that the process was ‘difficult’ but ‘positive’ as it includes the much-needed investment of services such as education, child services and the environment.

He added that this investment was ‘despite the council receiving one of the lowest grant settlements’.

Cllr Pritchard said they had to ‘prioritise the most vulnerable in Wrexham’.

Investments included a 4.1 per cent increase in education which is ‘paramount’, £1.5millon in children’s services and £1million in environment.

Cllr Pritchard said: “We have cut and cut and cut the environment department.

“We all have to make tough decisions.”

Cllr Pritchard went on to say that these investments and the council tax increase is ‘protecting services and jobs’.

Councillors raised concerns over needing more and ‘fairer’ funding from both Welsh Government and UK Government but Cllr Pritchard said they must welcome any and all funding they get.

However he pledged to continue to campaign for better funding across the board.

On the lack of fair funding from government, Cllr Pritchard said: “It’s scandalous. North Wales is being punished again and we have been under funded in North Wales. It’s unacceptable.”

He told members that the settlement received from Welsh Government of £3.5million although welcomed, would have been better if it was more which would have been the ‘difference between opening and closing libraries’.

It is hoped the county will receive extra funding from UK Government when it makes its settlement next month.

Cllr Pritchard said the proposals put before council is ‘about protecting services in Wrexham’.

He added: “If this doesn’t go through, are you going to take money from children’s services or environment?

“If you don’t support it, please tell me what you want to take out, what not to invest in.

“The people of Wrexham understand what is going on in Wales and nationally, we have to set our own destiny in this budget.

“If you don’t, there will be job losses and detrimental effects on services.”

Cllr Alun Jenkins said they were in a better position due to extra funding from Welsh Government but described the council as still being in a hole which was ‘getting deeper’ despite increasing the council tax.

He added that the proposed budget was ‘far more positive’ than in previous years.

Cllr David Bithell said: “I do recognise council tax increase will affect many of our constituents.

“Although it’s difficult, this budget delivers the best outcomes for the people of Wrexham.”

Fourteen councillors voted against the proposal but 29 voted in favour, meaning Wrexham residents will face an increase of 6.95 per cent in council tax.