THE Liberal Democrats' financial plans for 2020/2021 have been adopted following long debate at a full Winchester City Council meeting.

Council tax will be put up three per cent, Sunday charges will be added to most city centre car parks, and an enhanced garden waste service will be introduced.

These are the three main aspects that Conservative councillors raised questions about on Wednesday evening.

Cllr Caroline Horrill described the tax increase as a "Robin Hood story".

"With a total of £4.5m extra in this budget that you were not expecting, why are you taking more from the decent residents of Winchester when you don't need to?", she asked.

Cllr Stephen Godfrey continued: "These proposals lack direction. It seems to me the administration wants to squirrel away this money.

"We heard of the extra £4.5m, so where are the radical schemes? There's nothing. The best councils are not those who milk taxpayers, they're the ones who use the money to work with the community."

But Cllr Martin Tod of the Lib Dems said the Conservatives, who were in power from 2011 to 2019, had been "financially irresponsible for years" and "avoided making hard decisions" such as raising taxes.

He said: "We need to be realistic and we need to be prudent on how we think about finances. Our tax increase is the third lowest in Hampshire.

"Conservative councils all over are increasing their taxes and although it is a regret that we are not the lowest in the county, we should take pride that the Lib Dem councils are amongst the lowest."

Cllr Therese Evans added: "The last budget by the previous administration was presented with bells and whistles but it actually showed a £19m deficit.

"I would rather pay more and see better services than have seen no worthwhile investment at all."

At car parks in the Air Quality Management Area – which excludes Chesil Street multi-storey and Cattle Market – a flat rate charge of £2 will be introduced on Sundays and the weekday charging period will be extended to 7pm.

"This council is not supporting its rural residents by implementing this," said Central Meon Valley ward councillor, Victoria Weston. "We will not be choosing Winchester as a place for entertainment, because we will not pay to park here."

Cllr Hugh Lumby added: "I cannot support these charges, they are distinctly anti-rural. People outside of the city need to drive here. This is taking a step back and attacking the countryside."

"The parking charge increases will be going towards helpful things," responded Cllr Brian Laming. "The parking wardens will pay for themselves and some money will go towards an increase in bus services.

"There are only three busses a day in my area, and some have even less."

The enhanced garden waste service will give residents the option to buy a plastic bin that will be collected on a rota, rather than using the current bag system which is paid for by council tax.

Following accusations of the pay-to-get scheme being unfair, Cllr Martin Tod said: "Lets not pretend like the current service is free. It's not free to the council tax payer.

"We are saying that people who don't use the garden waste system won't be paying for it. It sounds pretty fair to me."

As the meeting reached around 9pm, Cllr Stephen Godfrey dished out papers with the Conservative's proposed budget which did not include council tax raises. This was voted down by 26 councillors to 16.

The Lib Dem's plans, which also include closing the public toilets in Worthy Lane and Middle Brook Street, were voted through with 26 for and 16 against.