As the news of the council tax hike by Powys County Council broke, reaction has been coming in from politicians in the area.

On Thursday, February 22, councillors debated the budget for 2024/2025 for three hours and agreed to an increase to the budget of £341.2 million. As part of that, an agreement was maid that council tax payments would rise by 7.5 per cent.

Now, opposition party members have accused the council of going against their pre-election pledges to maintain a 0 per cent increase, as well as letting down the people of Powys.

Speaking to the Brecon and Radnor Express, Conservative County Councillor Iain McIntosh said: “This budget not only represents a significant financial imposition on the residents of Powys but also, yet again, a betrayal of the trust placed in these parties. Their actions are a clear departure from their campaign promises and a demonstration of their disregard for the well-being of our community. Compounding this betrayal, Liberal Democrat Councillors together with Powys Parliamentary candidates David Chadwick and Glyn Preston, were seen celebrating their ‘success’ in a local pub immediately after the meeting. Their social media post, captioned "Good day in the office for the Powys Lib Dems", is a slap in the face to every resident affected by their decisions. It displays an utter lack of empathy for those they serve and a disturbing confidence that their positions are secure regardless of their actions. This is indeed a sad day for Powys. The residents of our communities deserve better. They deserve leaders who stand by their promises, who prioritise the needs of their constituents over political victories, and who understand the real-world impact of their decisions. Our communities are resilient and strong, and it is in times like these that we must come together to hold our elected officials accountable. We must demand transparency, integrity, and actions that support the well-being of all residents in Powys.”

Cllr McIntosh also noted an imposition of parking fees for Blue Badge holders, which he says contradicts previous statements made by both parties regarding their support for disabled individuals. He said: “In the past, Cllr Pete Roberts and his colleagues have described the introduction of charges for Blue Badge holders as ‘disgusting, hurting people with disabilities and on low incomes, affecting war pensioners and the blind’ but now they are in power, those concerns don’t appear to matter anymore. Jane Dodds MS even created a petition asking the public to sign it to show their opposition to the proposal. I have asked Jane Dodds where her petition is now, but haven’t received a response yet. Both parties in power claim the introduction of these charges will bring an extra £100,000 to the Council, but I don’t believe they have taken into account the number of current Blue Badge holders who already pay to park. I also don’t think they have considered the cost of changing all car park ticket machines to make them low enough for people in wheelchairs, which could mean the cost of introducing these charges may be more than the extra revenue gained.”

It follows the call from MP for Brecon and Radnorshire Fay Jones, who said that the Liberal Democrats have ‘betrayed trust’ over blue badge parking charges.

Aled Davies, Leader of the Welsh Conservative Group on Powys County Council, and County Councillor for Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant & Llansilin, echoed Cllr McIntosh by saying: “We as a group were very disappointed with both the lack of and depth of answers from cabinet members today in relation to the questions that we asked. It is our job to scrutinise – and we did not gain the reassurances or answers we wanted, the lack of clarity and detail in this budget is worrying. The budget is a litany of poorly developed plans, which the Liberal Democrat-led Cabinet couldn’t explain. The fate of our Council services for the next 12 has been set, there will be a crisis in school funding, charges for the disabled to park and our roads turned back to stone, sadly, Powys residents will have to prepare themselves for a bumpy ride.

“They have ignored our residents who responded to their budget survey saying they did not want to see council tax increase by more than 5 per cent and they have ignored the opposition councillors who pointed out the grave consequences of some of their decisions and the fear of potentially unintended consequences arising from lack of detail in this budget.

“The residents of Powys deserve better than this.”

Other concerns raised includes the possible reversion of 50 per cent of Powys unclassified roads back to stone, an introduction of parking charges in previously free car parks, impacting local businesses and visitors, and an increase in cemetery fees.

Leader and Cabinet Member for an Open and Transparent Powys for the Liberal Democrats James Gibson-Watt said: “It is very hypocritical of the Tories to criticise the Lib Dem/Labour Cabinet for increasing Council Tax by more than 5% when they themselves increased Council Tax rates by as much as 9.6% during their term running the county council a few years' ago. This after they had promised to freeze Council tax levels if they took power.

“At no point did the Tories or any other group propose a lower Council Tax increase, nor did they propose any changes to the proposed budget. If they were so concerned about the impact of the budget they could have put forward alternative proposals.

“All local authorities in Wales are facing huge pressures on their services that the increase in funding from Welsh Government does not cover. The true cause of the severe financial difficulties facing the whole of the public sector in Wales is the decisions by the UK Conservative government to not pay the £2bn it owes to the Welsh Government as a consequence of increasing funding to HS2 in England; to not fund the public sector pay deals agreed with the unions; and the appalling mismanagement of the UK economy that has led to rampant inflation and high-interest rates.

“We have managed to produce a budget that protects Powys's public services, maintains support to the most vulnerable in society and will protect school funding to a much greater degree than many local authorities will achieve.

“As councillors, we are having to take decisions that we previously would not have considered. But that is the world we now live in, and we are doing it to ensure that the services our residents depend on are there for the future. When local authorities get into financial trouble it is the most vulnerable in society who suffer most and it is our duty to do all we can to prevent that happening. This budget will help us do that.”

To balance next year’s budget a funding gap of £18.458 million needs to be plugged. Of that figure £10.652 million of this will be addressed by the council in a mixture of cuts, savings, and income generation. The council tax increase is supposed to cover the remaining £7.805 million.

It was announced that 34 councillors had voted in favour of the budget and 32 against.

The council tax increase will see £114.33 added to the bill for a Band D dwelling.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Town and Community Council precepts need to be added to the final bill.