Nearly 150 jobs could be lost at Swindon Borough Council next year.

Early proposals for next year’s council budget suggest cutting 148.5 full-time equivalent posts over the next year to save money.

Fifty-nine of those posts are vacant, but that leaves 89 filled posts to be cut.

The redundancies are part of 420 anticipated job losses over three years announced by the council last year.

Deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for finance Coun Russell Holland said: “We value all of our staff and the excellent work they all do. Redundancies are absolutely the last resort but we have a responsibility to set a balanced budget.”

Even if the proposed job cuts go ahead, as the council’s budgeting stands at the moment, it will still have a shortfall of £5m next year.

Only 0.6 of a post will be lost from children’s services - and Coun Holland said: “We will continue to fulfill our statutory services, such as children’s services and adult social care.”

The breakdown of proposed losses includes 30.5 filled and 17.5 unfilled posts from the corporate and resources department, 12.8 filled and 26.5 vacant posts from adults’ services and 44.5 filled and 13 vacant posts in communities and housing.

Coun Holland said: “The important thing is to keep providing the services - but we can do it in a different way. This council doesn’t run any leisure centres any more, but they are still operating - there was scaremongering about our library consultation and all the town’s libraries are still open.

“In some cases staff will be able to transfer to a different provider of the service. But in other areas, we’re providing services more efficiently or in a different way.

“We are providing services online as a default, which saves money - just like road tax which people pay online nowadays. We’re just doing what most of the private sector and much of the public sector is already doing.”

The borough council’s chief finance officer Mick Bowden said that planning for cuts had meant that several vacant posts hadn’t been filled over the last year, in order to allow them to be dropped without putting someone out of work. He said: “It’s not a coincidence that 40 per cent of these losses are of unfilled posts.”

Leader of the Labour group at Euclid Street, Coun Jim Grant condemned the possible job losses: “These cuts are cuts to the jobs and livelihoods of real people in Swindon.

"We've been told it’s the end of austerity, so either Swindon’s Tories are incompetent financially and have to make these cuts, or they are ideologically driven to cut the council back to its bare bones regardless, and leave the people of Swindon with fewer and fewer services.”

Council bosses said that a full legal consultation over redundancies would be gone through, involving staff and trades unions.

John Drake, the regional organiser for Unison, which represents most local authority workers, said: “This is very concerning. We will be meeting with the borough council because while these are the headline figures, we want top find out about the detail.

“But this is another example where the central government has said that austerity is ending, but that’s not being seen on the ground in Swindon, or in other local authority areas.

“We urge central government to properly fund local government because the services the council provides are crucial to the people of Swindon.”