A TOTAL of 140 Hart Council staff have signed a petition complaining about the Tory budget, which will mean the loss of seven jobs.

Council worker Linda Runnacles handed over the petition to Hart chairman Jonathan Glen during Thursday’s meeting, to the applause of scores of staff.

The petition stated: “We the undersigned are extremely concerned at the impact of setting a 2.5% increase in council tax.

“We believe that the proposed budget will prevent staff providing essential public services and lead to a further deterioration in staff morale.”

Conservative Cllr Sean Holden announced the news all staff feared during the full council meeting.

He said some of the seven jobs cut would be by voluntary redundancy but some, regrettably, would be compulsory.

Cllr Holden added that some vacancies will not be filled, a position which is worrying staff who are already under pressure.

Linda Runnacles raised staff concerns at Thursday’s meeting.

“At cabinet on February 11, some councillors appeared dismissive of concerns raised by a member of staff,” she said.

“This, together with proposed staff redundancies, has led many of us to believe that councillors place little value on the experience, application, pride and loyalty shown by staff in delivering services to the public under the constraints of limited resources.”

Dogmersfield resident Alastair Clark warned: “The staff are the heart of the council and without their goodwill and hard-working dedication the council will either die or be less able to perform its obligations to provide quality service to the people of the district.

“The council is proud to display on its letterheads that it is an Investor In People. The proposed budget is demonstrating the exact opposite.”

One council worker, who did not want to be named, said: “The questions by staff reflect their great concern that the controlling Conservative group have a cynical attitude to staff and services. We are feeling the pain of party politics.

“Staff want the councillors to know that we are here to deliver services and are not merely sacrificial lambs to the altar of party politics, although we think they will soon be leading a council that will be failing on many government initiatives due to their short-sighted cuts — and therefore the electorate might not remember the slight 2.5% rise.

“Keeping this rise down has a cost and we think the public should be aware of this.”

Claiming Hart was already a council with above-average staff turnover, the worker added: “The staff who are left after long-serving and committed colleagues have been forced out will have no less work, in fact they will probably have more.

“Staff are even less likely to stay with morale so low.”