LANCASHIRE county yesterday dramatically cut its share of the council tax by two per cent from April.

The reduction, announced at the authority’s budget meeting, affects residents of Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Ribble Valley and Chorley.

County Tory leader Geoff Driver also revealed £15m of new investment, including four extra police and community support officers for each of the six boroughs.

His surprise announcement was denounced as an ‘election gimmick’ by opposition leaders at county hall, with Lancashire residents going to the polls in May.

Labour’s Jenny Mein and Liberal Democrat Bill Winlow warned voters would pay in higher bills in future.

Residents in the lowest-value Band A properties will see the county element of council tax of £738.87 for 2012/13 fall by £14.78 in the year from April 1.

For an average family home in band D that element of £1,108.30 will be cut by £22.17. More expensive properties will see bigger reductions.

All six East Lancashire boroughs receiving services from the county have frozen their ‘rates’ as has the fire and rescue service.

Lancashire Police Authority is raising its part of the council tax by two per cent. The all-purpose Blackburn with Darwen borough, unaffected by the county cut, has frozen its element.

Coun Driver’s plans include a new £5m centre of excellence to care for people with dementia in Garstang near Preston and a £3.3m programme to retrain people who have lost their jobs.

He said: “It has been a tough period for local government and there are even more difficult times ahead, but families in East Lancashire are struggling to make ends meet and we want to help.”Coun Mein said: “This is an election gimmick. People across East Lancashire will suffer in higher county bills for this financial black hole in the future.”

Rossendale Tory MP Jake Berry said: “I am delighted. It shows what a well-managed Tory council can achieve.”