THE town council share of council tax in Dorchester in the year ahead will be limited to an increase of 0.8per cent.

Attempts to persuade the Lib Dem council to keep the increase to zero, or to cut the tax, were politely listened to – but ignored.

Conservative Peter Stein had asked the town council to agree a 2per cent cut, taking money from its reserves.

But policy committee chair Cllr Susie Hosford said that even if the council did that it would only save residents £1.57 for the whole year.

She argued that the council should stick to its ‘little and often’ policy claiming the small increase would only meet the cost of inflation and expected prices rises, allowing a little for some new projects.

Cllr Stella Jones said that a consultation on the policy, through the council’s newsletter, saw 80 per cent of those who responded back the move and some of those who did not suggested it should go up by more.

“Years and years ago we had a low tax rate – because the council didn’t provide any services…but now we put it up by a little each year and provide services, which people appreciate, and makes it a wonderful town,” she said.

Cllr Molly Rennie said when she first joined the council it was showing signs of neglect with holes in the Corn Exchange roof, work needed in the Borough Gardens and play equipment which desperately needed replacing – because a previous administration focused on not investing in the town, but keeping tax rises down.

The online town council meeting heard that the year ahead will see the replacement of the Municipal Buildings roof and refurbishments inside with a new office for town council staff and Dorchester Arts being built on the rear of the building, subject to planning permission.

Money is also being set aside to take over some services from Dorset Council, including the tourist information service, public toilets and the administration of the joint markets committee. The council would also like to develop new walking and cycling routes with money set aside for further improvement around the Town Pump. The council may also take on a new staff member to help with tourism work.