THE threat of a five per cent hike in council tax hanging over Conwy residents comes a step nearer this week.

Conwy Borough Council's finance and resources overview and scrutiny committee will consider a cabinet recommendation to increase the tax to help make up for a £12 million reduction in Welsh Assembly funding.

The committee's decision will have to be approved by the full council, which meets on Thursday March 1 before it can come into effect.

In addition to the proposed tax rise the authority also faces having to draw money down from its reserves, reduce some services and increase some fees it charges.

Committee chairman, Cllr Goronwy Edwards, said: "The council has to find almost £12 million savings because of a reduced settlement from the Welsh Assembly. We are one of the four authorities in Wales with the lowest settlements.

"We have looked at taking money out of our reserves and increasing our income from raising car parking, crematorium, planning enforcement and planning control charges.

"Every one of our services has had to look at making economies. But the last thing we want to do is is to cut services. However this lack of funding from the Welsh Government makes it inevitable some services will suffer. Hence the Cabinet's recommendation to raise council tax by five per cent.

"Other local authorities in Wales are making higher increases, for example Pembrokeshire is increasing its council tax by 10 per cent.

"When we ask the Welsh Assembly to increase our settlement, and we tell them we have an ageing population which means greater demand on some of our services, they say if you are not prepared to ask your council tax payers to pay more, them don't ask us to make up the shortfall.

"But we have tried to stick within the guideline of a maximum five per cent increase in council tax."

Cllr Edwards said one of the initiatives the authority is making is the introduction of the four week bin collection. He stated: "The idea is to encourage recycling and reduce the amount that goes to landfill, which costs a lot of money because of the landfill tax.

"If we can encourage more recycling by going for a four week collection, hopefully we can reduce the cost to the council tax payer.

"Half my ward has had a trial four week collection for 15 months and initially I had quite a few residents finding it difficult to make the change and complaining. Now I have few complaints about people not being able to make the change.

"But my ward is a rural ward, and different areas have different problems with this. Urban wards have problems with smells and so on."