MORE than 400 local authority jobs could be lost as Cheshire West and Chester Council restructures to meet Government demands for additional budget savings.

“Unavoidable” staff reductions – which would save £14.7m – are among the budget options currently out to public consultation which are aimed at bridging a £49m financial gap over three years.

Council leader Cllr Mike Jones said: “In an ideal world we would not be considering further job losses and we will do everything we can to manage this situation with empathy and understanding.

“However, the stark reality of this situation is that you cannot save this amount of money – and protect services – without being forced into making some extremely difficult decisions.”

If agreed, council staff reductions over the next three years will focus on senior and middle management posts but also affect staff across the board in six council services.

The authority said that with an annual staff turnover of around 350 employees, it is hoped the reductions will be come from retirement and voluntary redundancy with little or no compulsory severances.

If agreed, there will be full consultation with members of staff and union representatives at director and departmental level and all proposals will be considered by scrutiny committees covering the relevant services.

Since its inception in 2009, Cheshire West and Chester Council has shed around 1,200 staff with "only a handful" of compulsory losses.