Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) budget was approved on Tuesday evening, despite opposition from Conservative and Green councillors.

The council’s 2019/20 budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy to 2022 include a 2.99 per cent increase in council tax this year and £30.1m in savings over the next three years.

RBC will enact millions of pounds of cuts as part of the three-year strategy, with around £22m of the savings to be delivered through service reductions and ‘efficiency savings’.

The local authority will have had its central government funding cut from £58m to nothing by 2020.

Councillor Jo Lovelock, leader of the council, said: “This budget shows a much-improved picture from previous years.

“That we are in a better position than we have been for a while should not make us complacent.

“The savings which still need to be delivered are challenging, but I believe there is a determination to do our best to ensure that happens.”

She said the council had made ‘tough’ and ‘painful’ decisions but the budget was the best possible in the current circumstances.

The council leader added that she was pleased that the council had been able to avoid cutting concessionary passes for disabled people.

The budget was approved at RBC’s Full Council meeting on Tuesday, February 26, backed by the controlling Labour group and sole Lib Dem Meri O’Connell.

Conservative councillors objected to the budget because of the proposals for reduced grass cutting, removing public toilets and the introduction of a workplace parking levy.

Reading’s public toilets will be reviewed but Cllr Lovelock said well used toilets would be kept.

The workplace parking levy – a charge on employers who provide parking at work- will be consulted on but is just one of several options being looked at to tackle air quality and congestion in Reading.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Strategic Environment and Transport, said his preferred solution would be a ‘clean air zone’, which would stop cars using Reading as a shortcut.

Councillor David Stevens, chairman of the audit and governance committee, said the Conservatives would make savings through a more cautious programme.

Green councillors also refused to back the budget, with councillor Rob White raising concern over outsourcing of services such as council tax collection.

He added that residents are ‘paying more tax for less services’, while the council ‘wastes money’ on the failed East Reading MRT scheme, filing its accounts and recruiting temporary and agency staff.

The 2.99 per cent rise in council tax is the lowest for three years and less than Wokingham Borough Council’s 3.49 per cent increase but Cllr Rob White said it is ‘more tax for less services’.