SOME last-minute number crunching has resulted in local councillors pegging back a proposed inflation-busting council tax increase.

Barnard Castle residents had been faced with an eight per cent rise in the town council precept.

However, councillors made a series of adjustments to their budget for the coming year and agreed a 2.02 per cent precept increase – equivalent to just 4p per week for those living in a Band D property.

Barnard Castle Town Council's total budget for 2014-15 will be £188,019, of which residents will pay £150,773 through their council tax.

Councillor Tom Deacon said money which would otherwise have gone into the council's reserves should be used to cover £7,500 earmarked for the creation of a neighbourhood plan and £300 costs associated with the mayor's chains of office.

“This would significantly reduce the increase in our precept and mean £7,800 is not taken out of the local economy where it would do very little for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Coun Deacon said the adjustment in the budget could be made because the council's reserves account was in a healthy state.

Deputy mayor Coun John Blissett added: “This is a sensible move.”

Councillors agreed to maintain a budget of £14,000 for a programme of community events, but will cut spending on this year's Christmas lights by £1,500 to £6,500.

More than half of next year's budget will be spent on staffing and office costs, including £850 for the first part of a three-year programme to update IT equipment.

Councillors agreed the amendments and voted unanimously in favour of the revised budget.