PLANS to bring back Accrington town centre's twice weekly 'flea market' were revealed as Hyndburn Council's cabinet confirmed its maximum 2.99 per cent increase in council tax.

Acting leader Peter Britcliffe said the authority was preparing to restart the attraction on Broadway later this year on Thursdays and Sundays using special 'pop up' gazebos.

His comments came as the meeting on Tuesday confirmed the council's budget for 2024/2025.

This includes a 2.99 per cent council tax rise from April - larger than the 1.99 per cent Cllr Britcliffe forecast at January's cabinet meeting - that is the maximum permitted without a referendum.

Labour's finance spokesman Cllr Noordad Aziz condemned the proposal as 'inconsistent' and adding an extra burden on borough residents 'grappling with a cost of living crisis'.

The approved budget includes £390,000 over two years for refurbishment work to prepare Oswaldtwistle Civic Theatre for reopening, £123,000 over two years to repurpose Great Harwood's Mercer Hall as a community asset, £100,000 for a partial refurbishment of Rhyddings Park, £15,000 for a new footbridge at Jackhouse Nature Reserve and £350,000 to reopen King George’s Playing Fields to the public.

Cllr Aziz said after the meeting: "The sudden 2.99 per cent increase in council tax contradicts previous assurances by Cllr Britcliffe, who initially stated it would only be a rise of 1.99 per cent.

"This inconsistency erodes trust and confidence that this Conservative administration has a handle on the situation.

" At a time when Hyndburn residents are grappling with a cost of living crisis exacerbated by Conservative government crashing the economy, a nearly three per cent tax hike adds to their financial burden.

"Despite a budget surplus of the council of over £1million primarily driven by increased interest rates, the budget fails to adequately alleviate this strain on Hyndburn hardworking residents.

"The headline projects, such as reopening the Oswaldtwistle Civic Theatre and repurposing Mercer Hall, merely address issues created by the Conservative administration's previous decisions.

"The sudden provision of funds to reopen King George's Playing Fields smacks of reactive decision-making rather than proactive governance.

"This budget lacks the ambition needed to address the multiple challenges facing the residents."

The 2.99 per cent rise will add £5.19 per year to the bill a Band A terraced house and £7.79 annually to the payments for Band D semi detached family home from April 1.

Hyndburn's portion of borough residents' total council tax bills is small compared to those of Lancashire County Council - which provides major services such as education, children's and adult social care, and highways - and the police and fire and rescue services.

Cllr Britcliffe said after the meeting that bringing back the flea market would bring a welcome boost to footfall and trade in Accrington town centre.