HUNDREDS of Woking Borough Council employees will be served notice that they are at risk of redundancy.

Although not all of those workers will lose their jobs, the scale of the cutbacks suggest the number could well reach three figures.

The council, which is in discussion with the union Unison, has invoked a 45-day consultation period, which is a requirement should redundancies reach 100.

That the council have opted for that protocol suggests a serious risk that redundancies will be in that region.

“The council has already made known it is looking for 60 FTEs [full-time equivalents] in terms of job losses,” said Jenny Mason, regional organiser for Unison. 

“The number may well be higher than that, of course, when you take in the likes of part-time working and job shares.

“The consultations will begin with the senior leadership team, then as that moves towards its conclusion the rest of the staff will begin their consultations.”

The council is holding its own consultation with residents, and until that is completed and assessed it is unlikely the authority will know exactly the shape of the workforce it requires in its much-reduced form.

Residents have until August 10 to make known their views on which non-statutory services should be prioritised.

The decisions needed by the effectively bankrupt council will then be presented to councillors at its September 28 meeting as the authority tries to plot a way out of its £11million annual budget shortfall, £1.2billion deficit and £2.6bn forecast debt.

“We would urge all residents to complete the survey,” Ms Mason added. Some 5,000 residents have already given their views.

The leader of the Liberal Democrat-majority council, Ann-Marie Barker, told last week’s council meeting that a recovery and improvement plan would be agreed upon and sent to the government next month, while the big date to keep an eye on was in September.

Cllr Barker said: “That’s where we will need to take decisions on specific service changes. 

“The September meeting will be informed by the public study we are doing on discretionary services and further consultation with staff and a budget.”

The process, she said, was to turn the ship around and become a “council that lives within its means”.

Short-term cuts to its annual budget will now begin in September, with a wider suite of savings to follow in February.

Financial portfolio holder Cllr Dale Roberts said discussions with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities were  “expected to begin in the weeks ahead”.

The government has told the council that any bailout would require the authority to demonstrate it had done everything in its power to raise income and cut spending.

“This is a difficult time for staff,” Ms Mason said.

“It’s stressful, there’s low morale, it’s hard to carry on when you may not have a job in a few months.

“There has been a lot of criticism of the council on social media – and naturally staff are picking up on all that vitriol. 

“They are residents too.”