DUDLEY Council is to freeze council tax after residents said they would not support a significant rise.

The authority's cabinet is to meet on Tuesday February 12 to discuss spending and, although a major consultation is still under way, finance chiefs say the message from the public is already clear.

Thousands of Dudley residents who have responded to the council's highly publicised Big Consultation left politicians in no doubt the public would not support a tax increase of more than two per cent.

Central government regulations require a referendum on any rise of more than two per cent, a rise of less would not deliver any meaningful increase in income to council coffers after dedicated cash for police, fire and public transport services is deducted.

Cllr Pete Lowe, Dudley Cabinet member for finance, said: "We have listened to the people, the results from the consultation tell us 60 per cent are not in favour of a council tax rise above the referendum limit."

The authority will now take a government grant equivalent to a one per cent council tax rise and look for cuts of around £30m in services over the next three years to balance the books.

The consultation process will continue until the end of February but the emphasis will now shift to where the axe will fall.

Cllr Lowe said: "The response has been overwhelming, we have been able to get a list of what people see as essential services within the 800 the council provides and evaluate what they see as untouchable."