Councillors agreed to hike council tax in Bexley as they balanced their books for the next year – chucking out a last-minute call for emergency housing measures.

The authority agreed its budget last night, setting out areas where the council could save £6m to plug its budget gap, as well as planning £123m in ‘capital investments’ over the next year.

The government’s squeeze on finances has strained local councils, and Bexley has been working to become self-sufficient – without any cash given to it by the government – by 2022.

A tax increase of 2.99 per cent, on top of a further two per cent specifically for adult care services, was passed last night, putting the band D council tax bill at £1,678.88.

Council leader Teresa O’Neill said: “We want to enhance and transform services rather than cut them. This budget includes more transformation around adult and children’s services – focussing on spending money on who needs it.

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“Of course we could always do with more money and we will continue to lobby. If we got the same grant as Greenwich, we wouldn’t have to find any savings for the next few years.

“It’s hard to apply the maximum council tax rise this year as we’re always conscious that not everyone can afford it, and delivering money for value is paramount.

“We hope it will be a one-off, and we are nowhere near where the Mayor of London is.”

The council’s plans set out a £3.9m boost for the adult social care budget and a £2.2m influx for homelessness, services which saw huge pressures last year.

There is also investment planned for Hall Place, which will also start charging entry to its gardens, as well as a new footpath for Danson Park, cash for Northumberland Heath’s sports pavilion and money to regenerate Erith and Sidcup.

The council also agreed money-making measures, cutting budgets for community libraries by £50k changing how recycling is collected in the borough and a 20 per cent increase in car parking charges.

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Opposition Labour councillors took aim at the housing budget proposed, calling for unallocated section 106 money- cash given by developers for large applications – to be used on new homes.

Labour councillor Joe Ferreira said: “Budgets are at breaking point. We all know the picture locally. We have seen significant reductions in our funding. This budget proposes the council uses a not insignificant amount of money from reserves to plug the gap, with looming pressures.

“There are increasing pressures through a significant increase on temporary accommodation and homelessness. We have nearly 1,400 in temporary accommodation, the cost of which has ballooned.

“On these benches we have identified nearly £1.5m of unallocated s106 money that can help with these pressures. This money can respond to the housing crisis.”

Tory councillors lined up to criticise the amendment, dubbing it “smoke and mirrors” and a gimmick put forward at the last minute to avoid proper debate – claiming it wouldn’t be feasible.

Bexley’s Conservatives, along with newly independent councillor Danny Hackett, voted to throw out the amended budget.

Cllr Hackett abstained from voting on the Tory budget.