Labour members on the Forest councillors say they are “appalled” by “nasty, inaccurate” criticism over their support to pass the authority’s budget.

Cllr Di Martin (Cinderford East) said: “I can cope with criticism but outright lies about why Labour councillors voted with the Greens, Independents and Liberal Democrats on budgetary issues must be called out.  

“Our MP, Tory Councillors and Progressive Independents calling us traitors, saying we have no interest in our Forest of Dean is wrong and unacceptable.”

During the debate on the Budget at last week’s full council, Cllr Bernie O’Neill (Progressive Independents, Ruspidge) took a swipe at his former colleagues on the Labour benches over parking charges.

He said: “I was in a party that spoke against such charges and I trust the Labour Party will not be voting – apparently they are because they’ve seconded it – for these increases even though they were opposed to the charges at the start which is very disappointing.

Labour say they had told the Greens they would not support initial steep rises in charges and argued for a free hour’s parking which has now been approved.

Cllr Martin said working with the majority Green group on the council allows Labour to challenge, criticise, or suggest new ideas. She added: “All groups except the Progressive Independents and the Tories have joined in.

“It’s these politicians, including the local MP, who are saying the parking increase is an outrage when they took no part in any discussions to influence policy.

“All I can say is that we did what we thought was right, especially over the car parking charges” 

“Yes, the Labour Group did vote for some budgetary increases, examples being an apprenticeship scheme and bringing in new staff to help with changing environmental legislation.  

Cllr Matt Bishop, who also represents Cinderford East added: When I spoke to residents, businesses and people travelling to the Forest for work, the majority understood why there was a need for increases.

“The reasons all local councils are having to increase charges, including car parking charges, are because of years of austerity and local councils being starved of funding by the Conservatives.”