UNISON members plan to lobby councillors when they meet at cabinet next week to discuss Darlington Borough Council’s proposed package of savings.

Duncan Rothwell, a regional organiser with the union, said there were 160 jobs at risk at the council, while the union also faced losing its full-time activist and branch secretary.

He said: “We were initially briefed earlier this week by the council and have been meeting with our members as managers have been informing those affected.

“We naturally are very disappointed and horrified on behalf of the members, but the blame lies solely at the door of central Government who have reduced the grant payable to the council.

“Unison and its members care passionately about public services – they are not paid a fortune, but take pride in doing a good job for the public.

“They are angry not just at the loss of their own jobs, but also the destruction of public services and will be lobbying councillors to make their feelings known.”

Mr Rothwell said the union was pleased that the council was using some of its cash reserves to protect what services it could.

He said: “Cash reserves aren’t just meant to sit there, they are meant to be there for a rainy day.

“At the moment it is raining – there are holes in the roof – and we are pleased Darlington are using some of their reserves to protect services for local people.”

Mr Rothwell added: “Central Government is using the excuse of austerity to attack and reduce the services available through local councils.

“Councils in the North have been unfairly disproportionately affected, which by utter coincidence are by and large Labour-led councils.

“The ‘Northern Powerhouse’ the Government is promoting is in reality a ‘Northern Poorhouse’ and yet again it is ordinary working people paying the price.”