A COUNCIL chief has pledged to continue cutting management costs, as his authority backed plans to axe one top job – and save £175,000 a year.

Facing cuts of nearly £190m by 2017, Labour-led Durham County Council yesterday agreed to cut its senior management team from seven to six – saving £140,000 a year in pay and £35,000 in other costs, including national insurance.

Opposition members accused the council of not cutting fast enough or far enough.

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Liberal Democrat leader Nigel Martin said the Labour leadership should have moved sooner and there were still massive opportunities to save “many millions” at County Hall.

Councillor Mark Wilkes, also a Lib Dem, said: “There are not a lot changes quick enough in this place. It’s about time we moved on and saved things, like tips and libraries.”

Independent John Shuttleworth called for further cuts, suggesting the assistant chief executive’s department could be merged with resources or economic development.

Simon Henig, the council leader, said it would continue to cut management costs but was having to do so because of unprecedented cuts imposed on Northern councils by the Government.

In a rare speech to council, George Garlick, the chief executive, said: “The world is changing. We will have to keep these things under review.

“We have to do that organically and not lose some of the experience.”

Aiming to slash management costs by 30 per cent by 2015, the council has so far cut proportionately twice as many senior managers as other posts, saving nearly £500,000 a year.

The latest proposal will see the adults, well-being and health department merged with children and young people’s services, to form children and adult services.

Mr Garlick said this was a “well-established model”

across other authorities.

The head of the new “super department” is to be appointed in May or June.

A 2009 reorganisation under which district councils were abolished is said to have saved £3.65m in management costs.

GMB figures published yesterday suggested 2,099 Durham County Council jobs have been axed since the last General Election – more than any other local authority in the North-East.