BOURNEMOUTH council has approved a freeze in council tax for the fourth year in a row tonight.

Council leader Cllr John Beesley said the borough had cut its own budget to avoid passing on an increase in the share of council tax levied for the police and fire services.

But the budget-setting meeting also saw a plea for councillors to consider their staff, who faced having their overtime pay cut.

Cllr Beesley confirmed a band D council tax would stay at £1,498.68 after the council cut its budget by 0.4 per cent.

“Once again, we don’t need to cut services next year and we don’t plan to cut services in future years,” he added.

But he told the full council: “It has been very disappointing that there have again been increases in the precepts levied by both the police and crime commissioner and the fire authority in Dorset, this time by 1.96 per cent and 1.93 per cent respectively.”

Labour group leader Ben Grower urged the council to recognise the contribution staff were making to the savings. They were being consulted over plans to reduce overtime pay to normal hourly rates, with no enhanced payments for most bank holidays.

“If the staff refuse to agree, they will be sacked and offered new contracts,” said Cllr Grower.

Independent group leader Cllr Anne Rey said the cuts in pay could mean some staff had to start claiming benefits.

But Cllr Beesley said he did not want to penalise the council’s “loyal workforce”.

“Unlike many other councils up and down the country, Bournemouth council is not being asked to agree a budget that involves cutting hundreds or indeed thousands of jobs, nor the quality of the services it provides,” he said.