Up to 23 posts at the district council are under threat of redundancy as the authority continues its cost-cutting drive.

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The news was brought to light by Liberal Democrat councillors, who accused the ruling Conservative group of making unnecessary cuts when the budget for this year and next was, they claim, running a “substantial” surplus.

Last week, the council’s own finance officers said that as much as £3.5million worth of savings may have to be found to balance the books by 2018.

Cllr Gareth Wilson, Lib Dem leader, said: “When our Tory administration heard the suggestion by Conservative ministers that central government might chop £500,000 from our local government grant, they panicked.

“They immediately brought in a consultant at a cost of £30,000 to find ways of slashing services.

“Fortunately, Lib Dem members of the coalition government managed to squash this idea and our funding from the New Homes Bonus was safe. Meanwhile, hard working officers came up with £227,000 of savings in this year, giving East Cambs a substantial surplus to put aside into reserves.

“However, the Conservative administration decided to go ahead with the cuts. They plan to make up to 23 of the staff redundant. They will then expect the remaining staff to carry on with all the jobs.

“In order to justify the unnecessary cuts they decided to arbitrarily take £567,229 out of the income and put it into a new reserve in 2016 and transfer another £682,399 in 2017 and another £672,142 in 2018, making a grand total of £1,921,770. And this, just in case a future Government cuts more of our grant.

“When in fact, our accounts for this year are in surplus and next year’s budget is fully balanced without any increase in council tax and without any ‘savings’ from these redundancies.

But Conservative leader Cllr James Palmer hit back at Lib Dem claims, accusing them of seeking “easy headlines”.

He said: “It is a sign of how disengaged our local opposition have become that they look to create short term, easy headlines than engage with the real issues which face our authority.

“Hard work has allowed the district council to balance its budget this year and even our plans to freeze our Council Tax next year, we have managed to project a balanced budget. However, we are not blind to the pressures of the future.

“This is why the council is developing a new structure in order to ensure the authority can deliver the services which its residents need in the future.

“To do this we are looking to radically changing the way the organisation works and transforming a number of services to focus more on what communities’ require, becoming more commercially minded and meeting the needs of businesses.

“Such transformation means the council will be transferring some areas of its responsibility to other organisations and it is with great regret that we know we will lose some staff.”

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