"RELUCTANTLY we have to face facts, this is probably the best we can come up with," was the tone set at a full council meeting on the budget of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council for the years ahead.

Councillors met at a full council meeting on Thursday (23) night to set out the revenue and capital budget proposals for the next two years, including the level of council tax and reserves.

Introduced by leader of the council and briefholder for finance and assets Cllr Jeff Cant, 21 councillors voted in favour of the approved budget which includes a 1.99 per cent rise in council tax for band D homes. Eight Labour councillors voted against, with some citing the government's declining Revenue Support Grant (RSG) as the reason.

Cllr Cant said he was viewing the budget positively despite constraints.

He said: "The constraints on us on what we can and can't do are quite tight. We've been doing our damnedest to do our best for the borough as a whole.

"It's a very complex year we've got coming."

There is an estimated budget gap of £1.808 million for 2017/18.

Cllr Cant said one of the key issues was gaining more certainty on central government cash. He said there had been a 'severe decline' in support as a whole. 

He added: "It's not something we welcome but is something we have adapted to."

In 2016/17 the RSG given to the borough council was reduced to £743,000 and for 2017/18 has been further reduced down to £203,000.

There will be no RSG in 2018 and future years.

The reductions in the government's RSG has been described as 'significantly quicker and larger than anyone was expecting' by the council.

Cllr Paul Kimber reminisced about times when the council had more funds from central government, saying the work it allowed the local council to do was 'phenomenal'.

He said: "To see our RSG come down to £200,000 is a really sad thing. If there's any time I've ever felt like voting against the budget it's tonight."

Cllr Colin Huckle shared a similar view on the RSG.

He said: "We're trying to keep the ship afloat while the goal posts keep changing. It's been painful but we haven't had to cut too much in the way of services."

He added the budget wasn't 'a good picture' particularly with reference to the Band D council tax rise, but said: "Reluctantly we have to face facts this is probably the best we can come up with."

Cllr Gill Taylor agreed.

She said: "Although the budget settings are quite painful, all group leaders and cross party work has been brilliant and our offices have done a sterling job on this."

Cllr Ray Nowak was one of the Labour councillors who voted against the budget.

He said: "I appreciate the council is between a rock and a hard place but I shall be voting against the proposals because of the RSG hit by central government. It's a death note to local government."