Braintree Council is proposing a one per cent reduction in council tax for the upcoming year.

If approved by cabinet and full council, it will be the second consecutive years rates will have dropped.

Council leaders insist front line services will not be affected in its budget for 2014/15.

Key investment for next year includes £82,000 to upgrade five play areas across the district.

Graham Butland, Braintree Council leader, said: “In November we set out our plans to make over £1.5million in savings over the next year following the reduction in government funding.

"I am very pleased that through sound financial planning, we are not only meeting this challenge head on and protecting front line services, but are also in a position, unlike many other authorities, to now present a budget which will not only see council tax reduced, but continued investment into key areas.

"We are now turning our attention to the budget for 2015/16 in which I hope we can deliver an equally good result for taxpayers.

“With ever increasing household bills the Council has a responsibility to support our hard working residents by keeping council tax as low as possible."

Services such as car parking and allotments will see prices rise in the upcoming year.

Mr Butland said: "Whilst there are increases in some fees and charges the approach we have taken has been a considered one to ensure charges remain fair, reasonable and competitive.

"For example pest control fees and local land charges are not rising.

"In most cases where we are increasing charges, we are also investing money in the service, such as new buses for community transport, better facilities at allotments and improvements to car parks.

"We have also listened to people’s concerns about CCTV cameras in Braintree and Halstead and it is our intention to continue with the service in both towns.

“We remain an ambitious council, but also a prudent one and I believe the budget being put forward will, if approved, enable us to continue to provide important services at value for money for taxpayers, whilst also allowing us to invest in the specific areas that are important to our residents and businesses."

For full budget analysis, read next week's Braintree and Witham Times or Halstead Gazette.