THE chief executive of Worcestershire County Council has made a plea to workers at risk of losing their jobs - saying she is determined to keep morale up.

Clare Marchant says the sweeping "commercialisation" at County Hall is the only way to ensure the council is fit for the future.

During a Q&A session today, she also said the public would not forgive her unless she made "robust use of taxpayers' money" a top priority.

As your Worcester News revealed in May, around 1,500 in-house jobs are expected to be cut by 2018 as part of plan to save around £90 million.

The council is hoping to hand over 85 per cent of services to outside providers, and is looking for as many staff as possible to transfer their employment over.

It means the in-house workforce of around 3,500 staff will come down to around 2,000.

Mrs Marchant, who took over as chief executive in June, said: "We employ around 3,500 full-time equivalents, and at the end of this we will still have a couple of thousand staff.

"We want them to be motivated and enjoy working here.

"As we go through this process there will be real opportunities for people, to transfer over and also to come back and work for us.

"You've only got to look at Jacobs (a major international building design firm) which has just taken over our Design Unit - for those services we do commission out there are real opportunities out there, that's what we're trying to get across."

Speaking during a meeting of the resources, overview and scrutiny panel, she also said she believed the council's strategy is popular with the public.

She told the panel during consultation events with the public, the tactic was backed.

During the debate she highlighted the outdoor education centres, which are now managed externally and libraries, which rely on large numbers of volunteers, as good examples of the way forward.

"A top priority for me is making robust use of taxpayers' money," she said.

"People made it clear they want more commercialisation of services and expect their money to be spent in the most robust way.

"We already externalise 65 per cent of our services, so we haven't got that far to go.

"What we've got to do now is drive that forward, keep checking back with residents to make sure they are happy with the direction we are going in, and keep morale up."

She also said there has been a "lot of debate" around the new operating model at County Hall, based around only keeping 15 per cent of services in-house.

"We've got to be ambitious in terms of our future plans, and we will have to work increasngly hand-in-hand with our partners," she said.

"There has been a lot of debate around the new operating model and our role as a strategic commissioner.

"2015/16 will be the year we really start to deliver and impliment some of these plans."