SOUTH Gloucestershire Council is to axe more than 300 jobs over the next three years.

The authority, which employs almost 10,000 people, said the 317 job cuts were necessary to help save £12 million.

Council leaders are blaming an expected reduction in public spending by the government for the need to make the savings.

David Perry, deputy chief executive for South Gloucestershire Council, said: "We are doing everything we can to minimise compulsory redundancies, for example recruitment freezes when there is a chance a job can be filled internally."

Mr Perry said the council would also be hoping to re-train and re-deploy staff wherever possible and some posts would be lost through natural wastage, where people who retire or leave are not replaced.

The job cuts are expected to affect most council departments but not frontline staff and those working in schools.

The council said it was making the job cuts because it did not want to have to find the savings by reducing or cutting frontline services.

However, council leaders have said the cuts will allow the authority to simplify services and improve efficiency.

"The council is undertaking a large transformation programme to improve customer services and run more efficiently," said Mr Perry.

The council has been consulting with staff and unions about the cuts, which have not been welcomed by workers.

A spokesman for UNISON said: "The council have been talking to us about this but we have genuine concerns about the speed and scale of this and its impact on frontline services.

"We have asked for a major injection in resources and services. We have also asked for a guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies, which we haven’t received.

"This announcement has come as a bit of a surprise to us. We didn’t know it was going to be on this scale."

The council's announcement to save a further £12 million comes as work finishes at the new Badminton Road Offices in Yate, which have cost the authority £31.5 million. The new offices were built to help the council save on average £1.3 million a year by moving staff out of other rented buildings.