JOB-cutting plans to privatise the Worcestershire Hub, which runs the council contact centres at Malvern and Upton libraries, will go before councillors next week.

The hub is currently run jointly by Malvern Hills District Council, Worcestershire County Council and Worcester City Council.

But at a special meeting on Thursday, members of the Malvern council are being asked to approve the outsourcing of the service to private company Civica.

The deal, already agreed by the county and city councils, looks set to mean that 52 jobs across the three councils will be transferred to Civica.

But some of those jobs are likely to be lost, although the exact number is not yet known. The three councils have been told that those losing out would get the chance to be redeployed by Civica into other jobs.

The Worcestershire Hub was established in 2009, but in recent years, the number of face-to-face and phone inquiries it deals with has been declining as more people get their information from the councils on line.

If the deal is approved, the telephone contact centre will be transferred from County Hall to Pershore, and Civica will also take over operation of face-to-face customer services at the Malvern and Upton. The deal is predicted to save up to £232,000 over the 8.5 year contract.

Cllr Julian Roskams, who leads the Democratic group on the council, said: "I don't think it's in the interests of the council or the Hub's customers. As ever with this council, other options are not being considered.

"The customers are being driven towards dealing with the council on line, but that may not be appropriate given Malvern's demographic, which includes a lot of elderly people who may not have easy access to the internet, or who may not be comfortable with it.

"In the long run, withdrawing face-to-face contact between the council and its customers will be detrimental all round.

It's not the best solution for the customers or for the Hub staff whose knowledge and expertise will be lost in favour of an automatic system."

The meeting is at 7pm at the Council Chamber, Avenue Road, Malvern.