COUNCIL Tax payers in Gloucestershire are facing the prospect of a big rise in bills.

Gloucestershire County Council has published its draft budget proposals which would result in a ten per cent increase in its demand, the largest single element of the overall bill.

The council will not formally set its precept until February 16, but under the draft proposals the average band D demand would increase from £746 to £819.

Other key elements of the Council Tax bill are also falling into place.

Dymock Parish Council met on Monday evening and set its precept for 2003/2004 at £9,500, some £500 up on last year's requirement.

The rise, of just over 5.55 per cent, was thought prudent because of the cost of forthcoming May elections and compulsory training requirements for staff and parish councillors.

The average band D householder in Dymock will be asked to pay £19.49 for parish council services, compared with £18.46 this year.

The Forest of Dean District Council is looking at a similar rise of 5 per cent, though this could be brought down through the use of reserves from the surplus collection fund to just 2.66 per cent.

The district council will not set its precept until February 20, although plans will be discussed by its executive board next week.

If the rise is 5 per cent, the Band D demand will be £141.40, a climb of £6.69 on this year. If the rise is 2.66 per cent, the demand will be £138.40, compared with £134.72 in 2002/2003.

The total Council Tax is a combination of parish, district, county council and Gloucestershire Consta-bulary demands. The police are yet to set their precept, and will not do so until mid-February.