ON Tuesday evening Liberal Democrat-run Taunton Deane Borough Council set a zero-percent increase in the Council Tax for next year.

Freezing the Council Tax is actually a cut in real terms, once inflation has been taken into account.

That is a remarkable achievement, and it will be appreciated by residents who are anxious about the economic situation.

What makes it even more significant is that the Council Tax freeze has been delivered without damaging key local services.

The roll-out of doorstep plastic and cardboard recycling is continuing and there will now be free swimming in Taunton Deane for the Over 60s and Under 16s.

It shows what can be achieved by careful management of the council’s finances and getting value for money.

The enormous national Government overdraft will make the Council budget even tighter next year, but the priority will rightly be to keep Council Tax bills down and strive for greater efficiency.

These are lessons that Alistair Darling will need to heed when he delivers the national Budget on 22 April.

Britain has a serious structural Budget deficit and we are living beyond our means.

The necessary adjustments will have to be made without harming the people who rely on essential services.

In that sense, on a much smaller scale, Taunton Deane Council has shown the way.