IN A bid to prioritise communities, business and the environment, the Island's Liberal Democrat (Lib Dem) councillors have proposed changes to the upcoming budget.

Being decided on Wednesday (February 24), the Isle of Wight Council's Conservative-set budget for the next year could potentially see a 4.99 per cent council tax increase along with other savings and cuts.

Opposing aspects of the budget, Lib Dem group leader in the council, Cllr Andrew Garratt has said there is a 'better approach' that could be taken than the Conservative administration when delivering its day-to-day services.

To cover the £900,000 cost of the changes, Cllr Garratt said £600,000 would be redirected from the transformation reserve, 'which already has a healthy balance' and reallocate the £300,000 set aside for two sets of average speed cameras - allowing the money to be spent more broadly on supporting the local economy and councils.

He said: "Just over two months from now, Islanders will go to the polls to elect a new Isle of Wight Council. Our amendment highlights the priorities of a future Lib Dem led council – enhancing Island communities, boosting the Island economy, and playing our part in tackling the climate emergency."

Amendments to the budget include setting up a £275,000 climate emergency initiative fund, which the group also proposed last year, a £100,000 public realm fund for joint working with town, parish and community councils and a £100,000 enterprise fund to support businesses get under way.

The Lib Dems are also hoping to reverse the cuts to the library book fund and mobile library service as they say libraries have 'suffered many' cuts under the Conservative administration.

Free parking for 30 minutes in Newport is thought would 'bring back retail vibrancy' and the group would scrap the doubling of overnight parking charges.

The Lib Dems would also reverse proposed cuts to opening hours at Newport Roman Villa, Dinosaur Isle and Newport's Lord Louis Library.

The proposed seven per cent increase in crematorium services would be limited to two per cent, in line with inflation projections.

Cllr Garratt said: "Above all, our budget amendment is underpinned by the liberal principles set out in our party’s constitution: ‘to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.’"