TORY council leaders in Southampton have agreed massive cuts to services and staff pay to put before a crunch budget meeting next week.

Under the confirmed budget proposals burial costs will rise, rent will be hiked, public toilets and day centres will be shut and more city bus services face the axe.

Older people and the disabled will be among those most affected as meals on wheels go up and they are made to pay tolls to cross the Itchen Bridge.

Unions have already threatened to take strike action if ruling Conservatives push through pay cuts of up to 5.5 per cent without agreement in a bid to balance a £25m budget hole. Up to 250 jobs, including 40 senior managers, will also be axed.

Nearly 1,000 union members marched through the streets in protest last month and are now considering rejecting the pay cuts in a secret postal ballot.

Council leaders had warned without the cuts 400 more jobs would have to go over two years.

Council finance boss councillor Jeremy Moulton said the budget proposals kept costs down while protecting frontline services and jobs and "looked after the most vulnerable".

He said extra money had been earmarked for improvements to roads and pavements and to recruit more social workers.

A £100,000 fund to help retrain and reskill redundant council workers will also be set up.

Under the £191m spending plans council tax for the first time will be frozen, and pensioners will continue to receive a 10 per cent discount.

Southampton’s leisure centres, libraries and Sure Start centres will not be axed.

Liberal Democrat group leader councillor Adrian Vinson said the budget proposal was a "fantasy" based on a "highly unlikely" agreement with the unions.

He claimed there were alternatives to the depth of cuts proposed. Labour said it would not comment on the budget until next week.