THERE are no plans to cut the county's archaeological service – but no guarantees on threatened jobs can be given either – a leading Tory Councillor says.

Michael Farley, a retired county archaeologist, fears for the future of his former department, after learning of 'at risk' letters sent to staff.

His concerns have been echoed by Peter Borrows, Chairman of Marlow Archaeological Society.

Buckinghamshire County Council staff are being consulted over a restructure to cut nearly £500,000 across various departments – including archaeology.

Mr Farley said the service at County Hall is the only barrier protecting hundreds of unlisted ancient sites in Bucks from being lost forever to development.

In a letter, Mr Farley wrote it is “hard to imagine a more basic, economical and effective arrangement” than the current set up comprising three full-time staff based in Aylesbury who advise all of the county's authorities.

“If you care about the future of your local historic environment, now is the time to express your feelings to your local councillor,” he wrote.

In a letter to BCC Chief Executive Chris Williams Mr Borrows said MAS has worked closely with these staff for many years and "have a very high regard for their expertise and support”.

Budget cuts have given the organisation “great concerns” for the future of the service which he said was “fundamental to maintaining a sustainable community heritage”.

He wrote: “Whilst accepting the need for economies, it would be negligent to destroy what has been achieved.

“Without question it would cost more to restore than can be saved by cuts, and in the meantime the County’s archaeological heritage would be in jeopardy. Once lost, it could not be recovered.”

Steven Adams, Cabinet Member for Environment at Buckinghamshire County Council said there were no proposals to reduce the archaeological service.

But he was unable to guarantee the security of any jobs affected in the restructure when asked by the Free Press.

He said the cash-strapped council has to make cutbacks.

“A great deal of work has been done to best understand how we can meet the challenge of continuing to deliver a quality service whilst also delivering efficiency savings,” he said.

“I know this is a difficult time for our staff, however we are working closely with them to ensure they are provided with all the support and advice they require.”

The 90 day consultation ends on December 3.