CIVIC chiefs last night clashed over Labour's plan to hike council tax in Southampton by almost six percent this year.

But the proposals, included as part of Labour's self-proclaimed "people's budget", were given the green-light – despite strong opposition from Tory councillors.

It means residents in band D properties face a rise of £84 on their tax bill in April.

Spearheading the Conservative attack, councillor John Hannides, spokesperson for finance, said Labour had overspent by £5 million last year.

He labelled their newest budget as "shambolic".

The Bassett councillor also accused Labour of raising council tax for band D properties by more than £300 during its six years in power.

He said: "You've had six years to implement major transformational change that could have saved millions.

"And yet, six years on, you've failed miserably.

"Six years of a Labour council has seen decline, deterioration and degeneration, none more so than in the city's streets.

"They are dirtier than ever before, road and pavements left in disrepair, appalling numbers of potholes being ignored and a backlog of repairs growing by the day."

Councillor Hannides claimed the Conservatives, who did not submit a budget of their own, would only have hiked tax by three per cent – to cover rising costs in adult social care.

Labour chiefs defended the budget, which promises £8 million of investment in the city's roads, street cleaning and improving green spaces.

The majority of the investment will be spent on repairing the city's smaller residential roads.

Money has also been allocated for increasing the council's enforcement team, in a bid to crack down on anti-social behaviour, as well as the authority's customer services department.

Woolston councillor, Sue Blatchford, described it as one of the "most positive" budgets in her 20 years as a councillor.

Labour finance chief, councillor Mark Chalner, said the budget was the "best we could do" in the face of "harsh cuts from central government".

He described the decision to raise council tax as "deeply regrettable".

Kentish Road Respite Centre also took centre stage in the chamber once more last night, with supporters heckling Labour councillors throughout.

Lead campaigners Amanda Guest and Lisa Stead both spoke at the meeting and urged the council to reinstate the centre, which the Labour cabinet voted to axe in November.

Both the Conservative and Putting People First groups put forward an amendment to the budget to provide funding to reopen the centre.

The Conservative's amendment included £250,000 to refurbish the building, before bringing in an external organisation to run respite care.

But both amendments were voted down by Labour councillors.

Council leader Simon Letts said the party's intention was to reopen the centre as a charity-run facility.

The Labour chief added he was already in talks with two organisations interested in taking over the site and would discuss with them the possibility of temporarily restarting respite care at weekends.

He also hit back at the Conservatives for not producing a budget, describing their amendment as "lazy".

He added: "People in this city back people who work.

"We've contacted 25,000 people this year and from that we have put forward these proposals.

"This is genuinely the people's budget."

As previously reported in the Echo, Labour proposed raising council tax by 5.99 per cent this year – 2.99 per cent under general powers and three per cent for social care.

It is expected to bring in an extra £2.5 million, which Labour say will cover the rising cost of social care.

But it would mean residents in band D properties having to fork-out an extra £84 per year.

It follows on from a 1.99 per cent rise last year.