MORE than 200 jobs are being axed by Swindon Council.

The move will see the authority shed about five per cent of its 4,500 workforce.

But the axe will not fall on schools or the council's commercial services, such as road sweeping and bin collection staff.

Council managers were briefed on the cuts on Tuesday and all staff will be informed by the end of the week.

Gavin Jones, the chief executive of Swindon Council, said: "Like any well-run organisation, we have a duty to constantly challenge our costs and assess if we can do more with less.

"We are obviously keen to minimise the effects on our staff, and we believe that we can achieve these savings on a voluntary basis.

"We have provided a scheme to make this as attractive as possible to those who wish to consider it.

"We have also developed a talent management programme so that we can develop our workforce to their maximum potential.

"We are also looking at areas where we may be able to remove posts which are currently vacant, and reduce the numbers of short-term contract staff."

Anne Snelgrove, the MP for South Swindon, said: "I am deeply disturbed that so many hard-working members of staff are threatened with redundancy and I question how the council can be more efficient by cutting jobs.

"In particular, many of my constituents are complaining to me that they are unable to get the right level of service from the council with the level of staff they have now.

"I am extremely surprised at this and there has been no discussion with the town's MPs.

"This is a bad day for Swindon."

Roderick Bluh, the leader of Swindon Council, said: "Clearly it is regrettable when jobs are at risk but we do have a duty to the tax payer that we have a lean and mean organisation.

"This shouldn't be seen as a job-cutting agenda.

"It isn't that. It is part of the transformation story of this council.

"We are under a lot of pressure overall so it's important to focus on efficiency and deliver the best services at the lowest possible cost.

"We believe this is an exciting place to be and we need the right staff to carry us forward - that's why we believe this move is sensible."

Kevin Small, the leader of the Labour group on Swindon Council, said: "I would be very surprised if they managed to shed these jobs with voluntary redundancies.

"I would like to know why the council's finances are in such a state that there is need to make these redundancies.

"It smacks of a panic move to me and doesn't take into account the likely impact on existing services or the financial burden which taxpayers across Swindon will now have to shoulder, thanks to these redundancies."

North Swindon Labour MP Michael Wills said: "I am obviously deeply concerned that jobs are going to be lost.

"Of course the council has a duty to make sure it is efficient and cost effective but it still has so much to get right.

"Eighty five per cent of my case work is from constituents complaining about the council.

"I very much hope that they are completely confident that this will not damage the service they provide and critically that it will not hinder the improvement they need to make in the service they provide."