MORE than 200 Lancashire County Council staff protested outside County Hall yesterday as councillors approved a tax increase of just under two per cent for thousands of households.

Members of public sector union Unison demanded their elected bosses have a rethink on £300 million of cuts.

The union’s North West regional organiser Pat Grant said: “We had more than 200 demonstrators there, including members from Nelson, Accrington and Chorley.

“They were protesting not just about job losses but service cuts to vulnerable people.

“Without staff, services cannot be delivered to vulnerable people and families. Our members want to keep these vital services and met many councillors to ask them to think again. Responsibility for these service and job cuts lies fairly with central government.”

She promised Unison’s ‘Keep Lancashire Working’ campaign would come to the East of the county ion the coming weeks.

County deputy leader and finance boss David Borrow said: “We face a colossal financial challenge and have no option but to radically reshape what the council looks like and how it delivers services.

“This isn't what I came into politics for, but we have to act now and take tough decisions to avoid being in a worse position later.

“We are working very hard with our staff to ensure that we can continue to provide vital services for the people of Lancashire, particularly the most vulnerable.”

The council tax rise of 1.9 per cent was approved, despite a Tory bid to stop it.

It will increase its portion of household rates in Burnley, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Pendle, Chorley and Rossendale and add 41.5p a week to bills.

Geoff Driver, county Tory leader, said the budget was ‘irresponsible’.

The Lancashire police levy was yesterday confirmed as just under two per cent. The fire service precept has been frozen.

While Burnley is proposing to increase its council tax by 1.99 per cent, the other boroughs are set to freeze household rates, although Pendle’s final decision last night was under negotiation.

Blackburn with Darwen Council, independent of the county council, is also expected to freeze its bills next week.