CASH-strapped Basildon Council has spent £29,000 on hiring headhunters to recruit three senior managers, the Echo can reveal.

The spending comes as 1,000 employees at the council were put at risk of redundancy with some 200 jobs set to go.

The council has hired Solace Enterprises to recruit a new head of customer service, head of regeneration and an asset manager for the housing department.

One council worker in the refuse team, who refused to be named, said: “This is like a kick in the teeth.

Everyone is terrified they might lose their jobs and then we hear that they are paying thousands to headhunt people and can hire more consultants at the drop of a hat.”

Basildon Labour group leader Nigel Smith said: “We are paying over the odds for senior staff while cutting lower jobs providing valuable services for the public."

Phil Turner, deputy council leader, said the consultants had their “finger on the pulse” of the type of staff the council needs.

He said: “What we do is test the market for the best people. We use recruitment consultants to make sure we access the opportunities for the best candidates to come forward.”