THE average council tax payer looks set to fork out £47 more in the coming year, far less than last year's rise as local authority bills finally begin to fall.

With a general election looming, police, fire and councils have taken on board extra Government cash and threats of capping and kept increases low.

Residents with a band D property paid an extra £84 (7.66 per cent) last year while a massive £117.34 (11.9 per cent) increase hit householders in 2003/04.

Bills have this year, however, risen by just four per cent to £1,233.91 for an average property, an increase of £47.18.

All authorities which take cash have kept their increases below five per cent as the Government threatened to cap rises above the figure.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service had £1 million stripped from its budget after a 29.4 per cent increase last year and this year came in with a 4.6 per cent rise.

Wyre Forest District Council was due to meet last night to finalise its take of the council tax with a provisional figure of 3.9 per cent put forward by the Conservative administration.

This gives the district council an average extra £6.62 a year, to £174.66. Of the proposed figures for the coming year, this ranks the authority as the 11th highest charging out of England's 92 district councils, according to a survey in a national newspaper.

The council's budget was also due to be approved last night. It is expected that initial Tory plans to put concessionary bus fares up by 10p will not go ahead while a last-minute deal has been made to secure a "lifeline" alarm for former council house owners.

Council leader, Stephen Clee, said about 200 of the most vulnerable people who do not pay for the alarm, which alerts emergency services, would continue to get the free service under the plan.

Meanwhile, the Conservative-led Worcestershire County Council increased its share by 3.9 per cent. West Mercia Police Authority set an increase of four per cent.

The final bill will vary according to where people live in Wyre Forest as parish and town councils - in all but one of the district's parishes - take extra cash.