COUNCIL tax bills for Bolton residents will rise by 3.8 per cent from April after the authority set a budget last night.

The council made changes to their two-year budget agreed in February 2021 which imposed cuts of £37m.

Cllr Martyn Cox, leader of the Conservative-controlled authority, told the council an increased government funding settlement meant that £4m of planned cuts could be shelved.

Adult services will now be able to stave off £2.9m of planned cutbacks with reductions to children’s services mitigated by a further £1.1m.

The draft 2022/23 budget would see Bolton Council’s portion of the bill rise by 3.12 per cent.

Cllr Cox, said that was lower than the optional maximum increase which was available to the council.

The increase includes an extra 1.13 per cent on the adult social care precept which provides ring-fenced funding to support vulnerable adults.

Changes to Bolton Council’s element of the council tax are the equivalent of 63p a week for a typical Band A property.

The mayoral precept, decided by Metro Mayor Andy Burnham, would take the overall increase to 3.8.per cent.

The council also plugged into the budget an extra £1m of funding for highways, divided equally among the town’s 20 wards, together with £100,000 to improve parking near Moss Bank Park.

Cllr Cox, said: “This is year two of a two-year budget cycle. Of the £36.5m savings identified more than £70m per cent has been achieved. I take the responsibility of budget setting seriously.

“We have had an open and transparent process and consulted widely to produce a fair budget.

“We aim to strike the right balance for the hard working taxpayers of Bolton who pay the bills and to the people that depend on our services.”

Labour opposition leader Cllr Nick Peel, said: “This time last year the council passed by majority a budget which cut a staggering £37m on top of previous cuts over the past 10 years. Bolton Council has seen cuts since 2010 of over £220m.”

He suggested an amendment which would see the extra £1m earmarked for highways used to buy land for a new high school which would ‘save Haslam Park from destruction’.

Also contained within the amendment was a pledge to look again at the planned closure of Harvey Nursery in Great Lever and more support for combating litter and flytipping, including providing more skips for community clean ups.

The Labour motion was defeated by council, however, a last minute amendment introducing just the Harvey Nursery element gained the backing of the council and so the council will now have to re-examine the decision and look whether a ‘viable business case’ can be found for the nursery.

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Roger Hayes, said: “This the second year of the budget and last year gave us a lot of pain.

“This year is slightly less bad than we expected and I’m delighted we are able to reverse some planned cuts in children’s and adult services.

“Cuts over the past 10 years mean we are at serious risk of not even being able to meet some of out statutory responsibilities.

“These cuts have meant the deterioration or removal of real services which improve people’s lives, particularly the most vulnerable.”

In the final vote on the amended budget there were 25 votes in favour and 21 against with six abstentions.

All Conservative members voted in favour, all Labour against and all Liberal Democrats councillors abstained.

Leader of Horwich and Blackrod First Independents Marie Brady voted in favour of the budget but her two party colleagues, David Grant and Peter Wright, voted against.

All members of Farnworth and Kearsley First present at the meeting backed the Conservative proposed budget.