Residents in the Ribble Valley are the latest in East Lancashire to be hit by the maximum increase in council tax.

Ribble Valley Borough Council has voted through a three per cent increase in its council tax for the forthcoming year.

The rise is above the usual top threshold for similar authorities of 2.99 per cent, but this is due to council tax in the borough being in the lowest quartile in the country, meaning it can increase the levy by £5 for a Band D property – which equates to three per cent in the Ribble Valley.

Band D properties will now pay £170.69 a year to Ribble Valley Council.

It follows similar decisions being taken in other districts in the region, and comes on top of Lancashire County Council hiking its portion of council tax by the maximum 4.99 per cent.

High energy prices, inflation and reduced central funding from Government has seen the vast majority of councils across the country increase council tax to ensure public services can continue.

Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden has also boosted his police precept charge by 4.75 per cent.

Despite the rise, the Ribble Valley still has the lowest council tax rate in the county, and is among the lowest in the country.

At a council meeting where the hike was nodded through, a £13 million, five year programme of investment was also laid out by council leader, Councillor Stephen Atkinson.

He said: “The fact is, we are punching way above our weight and delivering first-rate services with the lowest council tax in Lancashire.

 “We are proud to have no debt, significant reserves and record capital investments.

 “We have launched an ambitious capital programme featuring a raft of schemes and are still the only authority in Lancashire to collect refuse weekly and not charge for green waste.

 “We strongly believe that councils have a responsibility to safeguard public money and use it responsibly, which we pride ourselves on doing.

 “In 2011, we restructured the authority to make significant savings and put us on a strong footing to face the future.

 “We have never invested in large-scale commercial ventures, nor exposed the authority to significant debt arising from spiralling interest rates, and last year decided to settle a small amount of outstanding debt, meaning we are now debt-free.”

The new five-year plan will see £13m spent on improving council owned play areas, public toilets and car parks, along with an extra £1m for projects marking 50 years of the council, and £500,000 to renovate Clitheroe Castle and its grounds.

Cllr Atkinson added: “These are significant achievements built on many years of careful financial management, as well as the skill and dedication of staff across the authority, who know their jobs inside out and deliver top-rate services, while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.

 “I am grateful to councillors and staff for their dedication and commitment in continuing to deliver efficient, effective services to national standards, while achieving good public satisfaction ratings.

 “I am delighted we have been able to set a budget for next year without any reductions in the services we provide, while being one of the few debt-free councils in the country, with no external borrowing.”