SALISBURY city council has agreed a near-70 per cent increase in its council tax bill in a move that will cost average households an extra £85 a year.

Band D properties will pay the city council £208 a year from April 1, up from £123 in 2017.

Other expected increases from Wiltshire Council, the fire service and the police could mean Salisbury residents have to pay an extra £180-a-year overall.

Households in surrounding parishes would face a smaller rise because they do not have to pay for the running costs of Salisbury’s facilities.

In Salisbury, Band C properties make up a third of the housing stock and will face a rise of £75.58.

The city council’s budget, which will include significant investment in play areas and parks, plus £350,000 towards a new cemetery, was decided at a meeting at the Guildhall on Monday.

Tory councillors argued that the increase was necessary to carry out essential works in the city centre and to pay for services previously covered by Wiltshire Council, such as CCTV, that were handed over during the asset transfer last April.

Council leader Matthew Dean said residents “wanted to see a protection and enhancement of services” including cleaner streets and better maintained open spaces to create a “vibrant city”, rather than to reduce council tax.

But opposition councillors said the increase would hit families on low incomes and those struggling financially with“significant” extra costs.

Labour councillor Michael Osment said the 69 per cent precept increase was “hard to swallow” against a backdrop where fewer people are receiving pay rises.

“It might be a couple of quid here and there but it all adds up,” he said.

And Labour’s Ian Tomes said there had not been enough public scrutiny of the council’s expenditure in the proposed budget from the Conservative councillors.

“We spend over £1million on staff, £56,500 on IT support, £25,000 on internet connection, £50,000 on agency staff, £36,000 on cleaning and £36,000 on advertising,” Cllr Tomes said. “We are a parish council.”

Conservative Jeremy Nettle said Salisbury had been “neglected” by Wiltshire Council and the city now had to “pick up the tab”.

“Our residents are saying how atrocious the city of Salisbury looks, we have to do something,” he said.

Conservative Amanda Foster said the city council “cannot be the smiling face to everybody” and needed the courage to make difficult decisions.

Labour was criticised for not having put forward an alternative budget, despite having had since October to do so. But Caroline Corbin defended her party, and said: “When there are only five of us it is a futile task.”

The increase was approved by 15 votes to five, with all the Conservatives voting in favour of the rise.

Wiltshire Council is expected to announce an increase of six per cent - or £80 for a Band D household - next week, after central government relaxed caps on council tax increases to allow cash-strapped local authorities to raise more money for social care.

Previously local authorities were required to hold a referendum to raise the tax by more than five per cent, but from April this will rise to six per cent, with half ringfenced for adult social care.