RUSHMOOR'S Conservative Cabinet has hit out at the Government for forcing it to choose between increasing council tax bills and reducing services.

The cabinet met last week to consider the council's budget for next year against a background of what it termed "the Labour Government's inadequate grant settlement."

In keeping with most councils across the south-east, Rushmoor has seen its share of the national settlement reduced in order to pour additional funds in to councils in the north of the country.

Council Leader Coun. John Marsh said: "Quite frankly it is absolutely disgraceful the way in which the grant settlement has been manipulated for political gain by Labour. Shire Counties like Hampshire and even the police force have lost out to enable the Government to move vast amounts of money to their heartlands in the Midlands and the north of the country.

"Rushmoor has also lost out in the way that the settlement has failed to recognise the additional costs faced by councils near to London. If Rushmoor had been in Surrey instead of Hampshire we would have received £1m extra.

"We are not prepared to take this lying down and despite the fact that the local government minister has refused to meet us, we will continue - with the support of our local Conservative MP, Gerald Howarth, to campaign for a better and fairer deal."