A number of posts could be axed if councillors approve the Conservative-proposed budget next Thursday.

Fears about job cuts were raised at the latest Hart cabinet meeting, which was attended by a number of worried staff.

Speaking on behalf of his colleagues Quentin Wallace-Jones, Hart’s waste and environment manager, said under the budget proposals savings of more than £1million would have to be made, which would have a huge impact on services.

He said the proposals had generated “anxiety, anger and frustration” among council staff, who are already under a lot of pressure to provide existing services and have been for some time.

Cllr Lorraine Fullbrook, cabinet member for finance, presented the Conservative-backed budget.

She said it included a 2.5% council tax increase — down from the expected 28% increase following the successful Hart Broke campaign.

“A total of £100,000 has been earmarked to fight planning appeals and inquiries, which should send a strong message to developers that our fields are not for building on,” she said.

Cllr Fullbrook said minimum amounts would be spent on meeting government targets which deliver nothing for local people, such as full colour glossy Best Value reports which cost £28 a copy.

There will also be an increase in development control enforcement staff and staff salaries will be pegged to the 4.4% increase agreed with Unison by the government.

The Tories are proposing to increase communication with residents by sending four copies of Hart News a year to each home.

“These will incorporate many of the reports the government insists we publish with your money,” said Cllr Fullbrook.

“Doing this will save more than £100,000 while letting you know what we are doing with your money.

“There will also be a reorganisation of con-cessionary travel to reduce waste and allow for the introduction of a flexible bus service, targeted to those who need it.”

Cllr Fullbrook said Shadow Deputy Prime Minister David Davis congratulated the council for proposing a council tax rise of just 2.5% when he visited the area last week.

“The achievement, which is one of the best in the country, is all the more remarkable given that when the Conservatives took control of the council last May expectations were for an increase of at least 28% this year,” said Cllr Fullbrook.

Cllr Fullbrook said public consultation will be widened as every Hart News will include a survey on an aspect of the service the council provides.

“This will give everyone in Hart the chance to have their say,” she added.

But Liberal Democrat leader Cllr David Simpson hit out at the budget.

“This means the Conservatives are hoping to put out their own party political propaganda at the expense of the council tax payer,” he stormed.

“Hart does not control the buses and only this week he heard of another service being withdrawn.

“In reality they will be hitting the old and sick in their own consistent uncaring and unfeeling way.

“How can we trust their figures when the detail has been hidden and they are incapable of working out that 18 Conservative councillors on a council of 35 with 12 Liberal Democrats mean they had an absolute majority? Clearly we cannot.

“Even now the Tories have been so secretive about the budget that no-one, least of all their own members, seems to know exactly what they are going to do.

“Contrast this with the previous year when, as leader, I gave as much information to councillors as I could at as early a moment as I could — months before the budget meeting, not seconds.”

Unison members at Hart were being asked to support industrial action being taken by Southampton City Council staff as the News went to press.

Service cuts would mean the threat of redundancy for at least 50 people and up to 140 posts being deleted.

Car allowances would be slashed and staff parking charges massively increased.