COUNCIL taxpayers in Middlesbrough are facing a 4.7 per cent increase in their annual bill.

The rise in the town's portion of the tax means most households in the town will pay about 60 to 70 pence a week extra.

But council bosses believe the extra £6m generated will benefit pensioners, schools and businesses.

Free entry for all museums and galleries in the town will also be guaranteed through the additional revenue.

Councillor Nicky Walker said: "We have budgeted for substantial extra investment in areas that most local people regard as priorities.

"We have been able to do this and keep the council tax increase within the Government guidelines because we have kept a close eye on the budget and made £4m efficiency savings in the last year.

"This year, we will adopt the same prudent approach and keep looking where we can to save money by being more efficient so we can invest in local people's priorities."

Proposed plans include an extra £1.3m to meet the costs of free travel for pensioners and £1m for the street warden service to cover the gap left when Government grants run out.

The extra money will also be spent on improving services for vulnerable children, regeneration, care for older people and school improvements.

Conservative group leader Coun Hazel Pearson welcomed the news after campaigning to bring the proposed figure down from five per cent.

She said: "We have all been working together on the budget and it appears that all the councillors' concerns have been taken on board. We all want better services for the town and we are all working together to bring improvements to the town."

Cleveland Police and the fire service are expected to announce their part of the council tax shortly when the final figure for council tax bills will be known.

The council's budget is expected to be agreed on Tuesday.