SCHOOLS could be asked to house public libraries and children’s centres to save on running costs, a council boss has indicated.

Rob Tinlin, Southend Council’s chief executive spoke as the authority prepares to wipe more than £15million from its budget. The measures will include more than 100 job losses.

The council said it was looking to link up with neighbouring councils to share certain services.

But bosses also suggested libraries and children’s centres could be situated in schools.

Mr Tinlin said: “We are looking at doing things differently, like having a children’s centre and library in a school.

“We don’t want to go down the same route as other local authorities in closing things.

“Instead, we need to think about bringing together some of our services, like children’s services, youth centres, schools and libraries.

“If they were run from the same building, we save money on overhead costs, maintenance, staffing and cleaning.”

Mr Tinlin said the borough’s 14 children’s centres, seven libraries and 55 schools could share running costs.

He said: “There has to be some ability for them to share buildings.

“We already have children’s teams based in schools and adult service teams at GP surgeries.”

The idea has raised questions over the future of some library branches.

Lib Dem leader Graham Longley said: “A better way might be to use libraries as a base for additional activities, so the local library can offer more services and still be a focal point for the community.

“We as a group will fight any library closures.”

The council is looking at more imaginative ways to save cash in the long term, because the coming years will involve even tougher budget decisions as further reductions are demanded by the Government.

The council expects its budget to be reduced by a further 20 per cent from 2012 to 2015 – though services have already been to cut to the bone.

The council’s Tory leader Nigel Holdcroft said: “We are talking to Rochford and Castle Point about far greater joint working.

“There are some sensitivities from them about us being the bigger partner, but we would be anxious to continue to work closer with them.

“Reducing the size of the council or having four-yearly elections could make significant savings, but would need time.

“These are the sorts of things we need to look at to make savings.”

A number of councils across the country have teamed up to share waste disposal, planning control, IT and customer services to save costs.