Shropshire Council’s chief executive has declined to say how long the latest recruitment freeze will last.

Clive Wright wrote to directors within the unitary authority yesterday to inform them of the freeze, which has been implemented with immediate effect.

He said budget limits were the reason for the move and follows consultation with council leader Peter Nutting and cabinet members.

Mr Wright explained: “As part of our initiatives to operate within budget limits, and following consultation with the leader and cabinet, we are going to implement a recruitment freeze with immediate effect.

“This means all posts to be recruited or replaced will now have to be approved by the relevant director and signed off by me. There will be some exceptions to this, for operational reasons, but again I will need to sign these off.

“We have operated  recruitment freezes previously and I am pleased to say managers were extremely diligent, and few inappropriate recruitment proposals came forward.

“I am confident this will also be the case during this current freeze.”

But the move has been criticised by opposition councillors who say it will put “overworked staff” under more pressure.

Councillor Roger Evans, the Liberal Democrats leader, said: “Yet again – and even earlier in the financial year – Shropshire Council is putting into effect a recruitment freeze.

“Overloaded officers will now be asked once again to cover and carry out work that should be done by another employee because of the continued failure of the Conservative administration to manage the council’s budget and to put into practise the policies they proposed and agreed in previous financial strategies.”

Cllr Evans repeated his calls for the unitary authority to use its reserves of £92 million to ease the budget cuts.

He said: “We Liberal Democrats have pointed out the failures time and time and time again. There have been continued failures to deliver the savings which they, the cabinet, have said would be made.

“We have asked many times for a policy to be adopted which would invest some of our large cash mountain – nearly £100m – which is just sitting in the bank earning us just over 0.6 per cent into projects which generate extra income and will help residents in their everyday lives.

“Inflation touched 3.1 per cent recently so this cash is losing value every day, every week. It will buy less every month.

“This request and all suggestions are being continually ignored.”