PLANS to contract out more of Southampton City Council’s services are “common sense Conservatism”, according to the Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Tory-run city council plans to outsource swathes of public services, including to the private sector, as it becomes chiefly a “commissioning council”.

Unions say the move, which is expected to save £50m over the next three years, is a blueprint for wholesale privatisation.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions at Westminster yesterday, Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead asked: “Does the Prime Minister favour the establishment of local authorities that meet only to give out contracts to others, and provide no direct services to the local population?”

Mr Cameron replied: “What I support is local authorities that provide good services and keep their council taxes down.

“I think in his part of the world, he has had the advantage of a bit of change and some common sense Conservatism.”

The council’s “change programme” says that waste collections, street cleaning and park keeping could be privatised and that the council should “not be afraid to stop doing things” to cut costs. More services could also be shared with other councils.

Council leader Cllr Royston Smith reacted furiously to Mr Whitehead’s suggestion that councillors would meet only to hand out contracts to other organisations.

He said: “It’s absolute, complete nonsense. That would be illegal, and I hope he would know that.”

He added: “I am pleased that the Prime Minister has given it his endorsement.”

Responding to Mr Cameron’s comments, Mr Whitehead said: “Flogging off the city’s assets and throwing all services non-returnable into the hands of private companies may be Conservatism – but it can hardly be described as common sense.

We need good services, and they need to be guaranteed.”