WYRE Forest District Council has approved its budget for 2012/13 as well as a freeze in council tax.

The budget features money for the new Wyre Forest leisure centre, £1 million for economic redevelopment and a community leadership fund – giving councillors £1,000 to spend on community projects in their wards.

The council tax freeze means the district council’s share of the council tax for 2012/13 will stay at £197.62 for the average band D household.

The 2012/13 precept for parish councils has also been frozen, resulting in an average figure of £13.09.

The budget was passed by a majority of councillors at a meeting last night, with the Labour party voting against and Independent Community and Health Concern abstaining.

The council voted down an amendment moved by Labour, which included raising council tax by 3.5 per cent from 2013/14 instead of the proposed 2.5 per cent and appointing an empty homes officer for the district.

The party criticised the Conservative administration’s proposals not to accept recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) to cut councillor allowances and put the money towards the community leadership fund.

Labour councillor Howard Martin said he was worried about the long term financing of the budget.

He said: “We are now borrowing money for a new cemetery, new leisure centre, new HQ and the payback is about 30 years.”

All parties backed the £1 million economic regeneration grant.

Council leader, Conservative John Campion said he hoped the state of the area debate would help inform how the money is spent.

“It could be anything,” he said. “ Whether it is town centre environmental improvements, businesses start-up incubator units or car parks.”

Liberal leader councillor Fran Oborski said: “We will support this budget because we put forward amendments and the administration took them on board.”

This included £1 million for the local authority mortgage scheme which will see the council fund up to 20 per cent of a first-time buyer’s mortgage.

ICHC councillor Graham Ballinger said the party would abstain from voting because they could not agree to some of the proposals.

“We support economic regeneration but we cannot support the money for the new leisure centre,” he said. “We do not believe our leisure centres are broken.”

Mr Campion said: “On the big strategic issues all the parties have come closer together.

“The package we have delivered is a good, strong package. It shows the strength of the council and invests in the local economy.”

The net budget requirement is £12.7 million, down from £13.5 million last year.