MORE than 130 new jobs could be axed, libraries could shut and council tax is set to go up again in the latest round of cutbacks at Southampton City Council.

And there are fears that five city libraries could close, after civic chiefs launched a review into how they will be run.

It comes on top of the announcement earlier this year that almost 200 other jobs are at risk, while the future of other services for the city's most vulnerable residents remains undecided.

Cash-strapped Labour council leaders today announced their budget proposals for 2015/16, and up to 222 jobs are at risk of the axe, while £17million of services could be axed.

Of those jobs at risk, 128 are currently filled by staff mainly employed in frontline care work, who could be made redundant from next April.

Council chiefs have stressed that they may not be made redundant, and some could find new jobs if their roles are transferred to the local NHS.

The 222 posts at risk also include the 83 jobs that would be lost from cutting back on the authority's business support department, as reported in the Daily Echo earlier this year.

In their cut proposals, civic chiefs would close public toilets in Woolston and Portswood, move remaining council staff out of One Guildhall Square and raise council tax by 1.99 per cent for the second year in a row.

And despite plugging much of the £31million black hole in the city's finances for 2015/16 through £9.9million in one-off funds such as Government grants, there is still a £4.3million gap in their budget for next year.

They have refused to be drawn on where that funding will be found but will have to identify how to plug the gap by February, when the council's £600million budget will be set.

And the council's financial pressures will not ease off, with Labour estimating the authority needs to find £35million in savings in 2016/17 and another £19million the following year.

Proposals to close Woodside Residential Home, Kentish Road respite centre and day services for people with learning disabilities, which were announced earlier this year and would save £3million a year and could see more than 90 jobs lost, are not included in the budget proposals.

The city council's cabinet will make a decision on them next month, and if a decision is made to close the services, it could be included in next year's budget.

In their library review, launched today, civic chiefs say they may no longer run Burgess Road and Cobbett Road libraries, while other libraries the council could pull out of include Millbrook, Thornhill and Weston.

Daily Echo:

Burgess Road Library is one of those under threat of closure

Council finance chief Stephen Barnes-Andrews denied that the council is looking to close libraries, instead intending for community groups to take over their running.

He said: “We're seeking peoples' views on the library proposals which for some libraries will involve other options than the council maintaining them.“We're going to listen to peoples' views on the proposal.”

Consultation on the review has now begun, but civic chiefs say they any library savings are not included as part of the budget for 2015/16 and are more likely to be factored into the 2016/17 budget.

City council leader Simon Letts said: “This is the worst of the five years in grant cuts from Government since 2010.

Daily Echo: Cllr Simon Letts.

City council leader Simon Letts

“And it's been the hardest year to resolve because obviously in the first years we took the easier options, but we are now down to the vital services which people quite rightly expect us to operate for them.

“We are doing all in our power to ensure those vital services are kept running at an effective level.”

Council opposition leader Royston Smith said: “The doors are closing in on them, and they are backing themselves into a corner and a position where there’s going to be absolute chaos in future years.

“They are kicking the can up the street and hoping they won’t have to make difficult decisions.

“They keep putting those decisions off and off and this budget will not do much to help next year, or the year after.

“If they had carried out major change before, like we suggested, they wouldn’t be in this position.”

Meanwhile campaigners have vowed to fight any plans to shut city libraries.