Cllr Chris Saint (Cons, Tredington), the leader of Stratford District Council, said: “We are delighted to be in a position to freeze council tax, despite receiving 11.6 per cent (£627,000) less core government grant on top of the 31.6 per cent (£2,003,518) reduction over the previous three years.

“We continually strive to provide services at a reasonable cost and work hard for residents to reduce our costs, in line with the national programme to reduce public sector expenditure. We don’t underestimate the challenges in future years, but residents can be assured we will continue to manage services in a financially prudent way.”

Cllr Saint added: “The district council has a strong track record of delivering savings, year on year whilst maintaining key services.  We are making good progress on joint working with Cherwell and South Northants Councils and have budgeted for further savings of £200,000.

“Additionally we plan to recruit an additional neighbourhood planning officer, funded by CLG [government] grants; recruit temporary development management staff, funded by application fees and following recent consultation results will take at look at how the CCTV service is funded. 

“Above all, this budget protects important expenditure and valued services and looks critically at how we manage the future, preparing ourselves for some difficult choices ahead, but maintaining a sustainable position.  It is robust and contains modest but sustainable changes.”

But the opposition Liberal Democrats on the district council were critical of the ruling Conservatives at Monday’s budget meet-ing of the authority voting down an idea that it should build affordable houses on its own account.

The proposal, from the Lib Dem group, was that the council should investigate whether to invest funds in housing for rent, in order to boost the amount of affordable housing in the district and provide a better return on council taxpayers' money than was currently being achieved.

Commenting after the meeting Cllr Richard Cheney (Shipston), leader of the Lib Dem group, said: “We find it quite extraordinary that the Tories are not even prepared to look at ways of using the council's resources more effectively.

“This could have been a win, win situation but the Tories are so blinkered in their approach to managing the council that they could not see the advantages of our proposal.”