FAMILIES are facing a £60 a year council tax hike but a packed programme of investment is also planned including £3.5m to replace ageing pier trains.

Southend Council yesterday announced £18m of spending for the pier and an extra £1million for Cliffs Pavilion as the Tory budget plan was announced.

Residents will be asked to find an average of £60 extra next year as a result of a 4.5 per cent council tax rise designed to protect services and make up for Government funding cuts.

About 1.5 per cent of this will be earmarked to support adult social care.

In total the new budget will mean an extra £6.6million is available for frontline services with the vast majority going on child and adult care.

Council leader John Lamb said: “We need to increase staff numbers in children and adult services.”

Deputy leader James Courtenay added: “The last thing we wanted to do was put council tax up again as we have but we are looking at putting investments into the most vulnerable people in society, including looked after children and our ageing population.

“What we are also looking at is early interventions to prevent children going into care.”

The council also announced £177m spending on major projects.

Among the money for the pier is £10.5million for a new Pavilion deck and £3.25million for replacement trains during the next two years.

The money for Cliffs is planned for 2020. The council is also planning to invest £26.3m for road improvements, £3m for community safety and £1.2m on parks and open spaces.

Labour Councillor Ian Gilbert said: “This is, on balance, a disappointing budget and a missed opportunity. We are seeing the Government shifting costs onto council taxpayers’ as residents to deal with the cost of the Government’s failure in particular on adult and children social care.”