by Steven Smith, Katie Clark and Diana Henderson

THREE councils met to set their council tax on Tuesday evening - with one meeting dramatically overturning the leadership's budget.

Poole's Conservatives, who are the largest group on a hung council, saw their plans for a 1.95 per cent tax rise defeated by an alliance of Liberal Democrats and the Poole People group.

The opposition's proposal for a council tax freeze was then approved instead.

Council leader Cllr Elaine Atkinson - now left to implement a budget she did not agree with - said she would not resign and pledged to work with other parties.

In Bournemouth, the Conservative-dominated council approved the budget in a 20-minute meeting.

The council backed a 0.7 per cent cut in its share of council tax. The cut means that the total bill will remain frozen even when increased charges by the police and fire authorities are added in.

Leader Cllr John Beesley said the budget and council tax would help those struggling in tough times while protecting frontline services.

Christchurch risked the wrath of local government secretary Eric Pickles by increasing its council tax by 1.95 per cent. Mr Pickles has criticised councils who raise their bills by just under the two per cent cap he imposed on them.

The increase will amount to £3.40 a year for a Band D property.

Christchurch's share of the council tax is 11 per cent of the total bill.

Cllr Mike Duckworth, cabinet member for performance, said: “We recognise increases are difficult but the proposed increase is below inflation."

He added: "Council tax has not risen for two years. This is one of our key income streams, however, representing 61 per cent of our net budget.

"Recent feedback from the public consultation on the budget indicated that people preferred small manageable increases rather than large ad hoc ones."