A COUNCIL tax rise of just under three per cent has been agreed for bill payers in Bury.

Council leader Cllr Eamonn O'Brien said the budget was "one of the hardest in this council's history".

But the financial plan - which includes using £14.35m of Bury Council reserves - came under fire.

Town hall chiefs had previously been criticised for spending less than five per cent of their 2021-22 allocation for fixing potholes.

The Labour administration announced £10m worth of funding for their highways operation, for resurfacing and pothole repairs, as a 'long-term strategic investment'.

Ambitious plans to revamp Bury, Radcliffe, Prestwich and Ramsbottom town centres have formed the backbone of recent council priorities, including two successful 'levelling up' bids for Bury Market and Radcliffe.

Cllr O'Brien told the budget meeting the need for cuts and increased council tax had been caused by a failure of adequate central government funding and "a decade of failed austerity measures".

Opposition Conservative leader Cllr Nick Jones said: "Council tax is going up in this year of all years - Labour does not run an efficient council."

He also added: "Savings could be made to reduce bills for residents, why should they believe that any of this will get done?"

Lib Dem group leader Cllr Michael Powell said: "This budget is heavily reliant on borrowing and use of reserves."

He told the meeting that while regeneration plans were welcome "resources must match ambition".

Conservatives had introduced a budget amendment - proposing a 10 per cent decrease in Bury Market rents, a lower council tax rise and making the filling of potholes a top priority but this was defeated.

The proposed Labour budget was passed - it will mean council taxpayers will see a 2.94 per cent rise in the core element of council tax bills.

Metro Mayor Andy Burnham had left council tax payers facing a 7.1 per cent hike for the combined authority element of their bills - an extra £10 had also previously been proposed to cover police reforms.