A council tax rise of 4.17 per cent has been approved for Richmond.

In an interview with the Richmond and Twickenham Times last week, the council’s strategic cabinet member for finance and performance, Councillor Stephen Speak, said “circumstances eventually catch up” and that the rise is necessary to “protect services”.

Richmond Council has experienced a 66 per cent reduction in central Government fund since 2010.

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The council has calculated that a total of £151.526 million needs to be raised to meet demand.

The pot will be divided into education and children’s services (34.8 million), environment (18.5 million), chief executive’s office (3.9 million), housing (5.6 million) and adult community services (52.6 million).

The Richmond element has increased by 1.99 per cent, social precept accounts for a 2 per cent rise, and the Greater London Authority precept is increasing by 5.07 per cent- this results in a rise from last year’s £1,638.54 to £1,706.94 for a Band D property (rise of £68.4).

At the budget meeting last night Cllr Speak said: “We are raising tax burden on our residents reluctantly and out of necessity.”

He said the council “must continue getting slimmer and smarter in delivering services”, as much of the efficiency savings made by the council gets “swallowed up by the higher cost of services”, such as with adult social care.

He said: “It’s therefore imperative that the pursuit of efficiency is at the heart of council activities.”

Since 2011, the council has shaved £56 million off the budget, but a further £20 million needs to be found by 2021.

Lib Dem opposition leader Gareth Roberts, called the rise “modest” and proposed an amendment of charging Band D properties an extra £27 per year, or 52p per week, “which would have resulted in £2.4 million spent on improved and new services”.

He said it was “not an enormous amount” but with it “we can do an enormous deal of good”.

With the extra money he suggested setting up a “wrap-around” child care service, upgrading lamp columns with energy saving street lighting, which would be “a one-off payment which will enable to save the council at least £400,000 a year on its energy bills”.

He also suggested putting half a million into a mental health equivalent of the civic pride grant fund.

The amendment was seconded by Councillor Liz Jaeger.

Cllr Stephen Knight, who recently defected from the Lib Dems and joined the Labour Party, said it was “ridiculous” the council was not raising the tax as much as it could.

But the general feeling among conservatives was to keep the council tax down.

Deputy leader Cllr Pamela Flemming said the amendment was “really not realistic” and the council is “already doing” those things suggested by Cllr Roberts.

It was not passed by the council.

Cllr Roberts said: “The Tories had the chance last night to support our modest amendment which recommended an increase of just 52p a week on top of what they were proposing but which would have resulted in additional investment amounting to £2.4 million for affordable childcare, dementia services, mental health services, upgrading lamp columns, supporting our day centres and reversing their policies which hit the borough's poorest the hardest.

“As we approach the May election there is now clear water between the Liberal Democrats who will stand up for all people in the borough and the Tories who refuse to do so.”