BOURNEMOUTH residents will have to stump up an extra 4.5 per cent in council tax from April, pushing up the annual bill for a band D property to nearly £1,240.

Councillors voted unanimously for the increase at a special meeting in Bournemouth Town Hall last night. Council leader Dr John Millward told members the increase was the second lowest in percentage terms since Bourne-mouth gained unitary authority status in 1997.

But he added that the increase was set against another "disappointing" Government grant settlement for the borough. "Bournemouth has only received an increase of four per cent, which is 1.6 per cent below the average," he said in his budget statement.

Cllr Millward added that the true additional amount given by the government for the non-schools budget was only £600,000 - well below the £3.5 million inflation costs facing the council.

"Dorset County Council and Poole Borough Council also had lower than average grant statements. To this end our three authorities have jointly lobbied central government in an attempt to secure improved grant settlements in the future," he said.

Bournemouth's band D council tax increase, from £1,186.48 to £1,239.78, includes precepts of £142.11 for Dorset Police and £48.33 for the fire service.

Cllr Millward said the council would have to find further savings of more than £1 million in 2006-7 and £4.3 million the following year to keep council tax rises to five per cent a year.

After the meeting, Cllr Adrian Fudge, cabinet member for quality services and value for money, said the council had worked hard to identify savings.

"Despite the insufficient government grant increase, we have managed to invest further in areas that local people want us to."

First published: February 23