HEREFORDSHIRE Council is set to slash 250 jobs over the next two years as cuts in excess of £16 million take their grip.

This follows the approval of a new financial strategy by the council’s cabinet, which is designed to save £10.3 million in the coming financial year and £5.8 million in the following year.

Leader of the council, Roger Phillips, said: “Our strategy is to cut the cost of services, rather than the services themselves. We have an unprecedented level of government cuts that we have to absorb but we are doing everything we can to minimise the impact on those front line services that are valued across the county.

“Herefordshire Council has been planning its response to reduced government funding for some time and is already well advanced in redesigning its structure and services. The council will be a smaller but more efficient organisation in two years time, whilst retaining its focus on ensuring that essential services are delivered for the people of Herefordshire”.

However, there has been a freeze on council tax. Several corporate functions will be shared with the primary care trust and the county hospital to save money.

Services used by the most vulnerable residents will be protected where possible and the budget includes an extra £3.5 million for adult social care, including £2.4 million transferred from NHS Herefordshire.

The cabinet will use some of its financial reserves to keep free travel for bus pass holders, but free travel will no longer be available before 9.30am during the weekday morning commuter period. The changes are expected to be implemented in March.

There are plans to consult communities in rural and remote areas over the spring and summer, with a view to protecting their bus services.

Herefordshire will keep its existing libraries but the mobile library service is undergoing a review.