Councillors approved a 1.85 increase in council tax last night. 

The hike was voted through 36 to 33 in a heated full council meeting preceded by union protests and ended abruptedly by Labour councillors walking out en masse.

All Conservative councillors voted in favour of the rise - part of the authority's revenue budget - and all Labour opposed it.

It means household tax bills will increase by 1.2 per cent after the Greater London Authority approved a cut in its share of council tax on Monday.

Councillor Mike Fisher, council leader, told the meeting the increase in Croydon's share was essential to protect frontline services.

He said: "We have made to make tough decisions in order for us to continue to provide services.

"This is about doing the right thing for Croydon, not about doing the easy thing."

But councillor Tony Newman, Labour group leader, said: "Croydon needs a new deal and a council that is on the side of local people.

"Borrowing is up, taxes are up. It is clear that Croydon cannot afford this budget."

Last night's meeting - the first under the Conservative administration to be broadcast live on Croydon Radio - ended with Labour councillors storming out.

They left the chamber in protest after mayor Eddy Arram banished councillor Timothy Godfrey, shadow cabinet member for culture and sport, from the meeting. 

Mr Godfrey had demanded to be allowed to question councillor Tim Pollard about his announcement that the council's libraries contract with John Laing had fallen through.

Public sector unions GMB, Unite and Unison protested about redundancies, outsourcing and budget cuts ahead of last night's meeting.