For the younger generation, this year's money troubles are a new problem, but many will recall the year in which the council hiked up its tax by a quarter.

Twenty-four years ago Britain was also battling to stave off a recession, and Hillingdon Council found itself in dire financial straits.

When news of a 24 per cent rate increase broke, angry protestors had to be locked outside the Civic Centre while councillors formalised the budget. Residents waved placards in the freezing February cold outside the building after a barricade of policemen prevented them from entering.

The policy and resource committee meeting approved the proposal for a target of a 24 per cent rate increase.

Council Leader Norman Hawkins claimed, at the time, to be fearful that not imposing higher rates would lead to widespread redundancies in the private sector. He said many local firms would otherwise face bankruptcy and described the situation as Hillingdon's greatest crisis.

The rates for residents were set to increase from £119.56 to £148.42, with precepts for the Greater London Council, London Regional Transport and the Metropolitan Police bringing increases to £180.

Protestors gathered before the meeting as councillors made their way in, to make clear how unpopular any proposals would be. They waved signs demanding "No Cuts" and one mimicked the recently released Ghostbusters film with a "Cutbusters" placard.

The news of a rate increase was not a surprise to residents, and at one time a 44 per cent increase was even mooted by the Government as a target for councils to impose.

And, despite the rate increase, cuts in education were confirmed at the meeting. A week earlier, news of this had led to a sit-in protest in the Civic Centre with 500 residents taking part.

Constance Evans, chairwoman of the Oak Farm Residents' Association, recalls the protests well. She said: "I remember a lot of trouble about the rateable values, and people were also complaining there weren't the services for the amount of money we were paying. A lot of the services were being curtailed."

Calls by Councillor Peter Fagan, leader of the Labour group, asked to have the council's budget debated further in public because he believed the proposals would only lead to extra money troubles in the borough, but this request was rejected outright by the Conservative councillors.