VITAL services that looked set to be axed could now be saved after civic chiefs backed the county’s finance plans – including a near 6% rise in council tax.

Hampshire County Council’s (HCC) cabinet this week backed plans to increase the bill for taxpayers by 5.99%, or £67.86 a year for band D homes, 3% of which will be ringfenced for the county’s adult social care budget.

The increase follows a 4.99% rise in council tax last year.

As previously reported, vital services including household waste recycling centres (HWRC), school crossing patrols and community transport schemes were facing the axe as part of plans to save HCC £140million by April 2019.

Leader councillor Roy Perry had put forward proposals to stop the cuts, including a charge for older people’s bus passes and a £1 charge for visiting HWRC, but he told cabinet members the money would instead be found through the council tax rise as the government was “not particularly minded to accept” the new charges.

Cllr Perry said: “We have succeeded in retaining those local services that we know residents value. That is a remarkable achievement in the current climate and is down to the careful and long-term approach this council takes to its financial planning

“Since agreeing specific savings proposals at the end of last year to meet the further £140 million shortfall we face in our budget by April 2019, we have been working hard to explore alternative ways to deliver the savings in some areas. Consequently, I am very pleased that our proposals set out a way forward for us to continue to provide school crossing patrols, community transport, and HWRCs.

“We are continuing to press government to accept the longer term solutions we have in mind for these areas, which could involve introducing some nominal charges for use of services like HWRCs. I put that point to the new parliamentary under secretary for local government, Mr Rishi Sunak.”

Cllr Perry added that despite the council tax rise, the county’s precept was still likely to be one of the lowest in the country. The plans will now go before full council on February 22.