A STACK of architects jobs at Worcestershire County Council are being handed to a massive private sector company, it has emerged.

The cash-strapped authority has struck a deal with US-based Jacobs to take over the in-house professional design services team.

The service employs around 30 top-notch architects who help with construction-related matters for schools across Worcestershire, any other public sector bodies that need help and the council's own raft of buildings.

Under the agreement the firm will take on all the staff and employ them directly on the same terms and conditions, adding to its 8,000-strong UK workforce.

The deal, which has been in the making for weeks, comes after the council revealed it wanted to hive off 85 per cent of all services by 2018.

Your Worcester News understands Jacobs fought off competition from several other private sector firms to take the workers on.

It has a turnover of around £10 billion and already has lucrative contracts with central Government and dozens of other councils.

The contract between the two parties will be for an initial period of five years, with an option to extend it by two years subject to it going well.

Jacobs will offer the council expertise for any building programmes, such as new schools, as well as property survey work and professional design input.

A new report on the move says the deal avoids any "potential redundancy costs" that were in the offing had no interest been shown.

It also says it will "improve the long term employment prospects" for the staff transferred over, who will be able to access more clients.

The council says the potential savings made are impossible to quantify because the design unit charges fees for the work it completes, which varies year to year.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: "I'm delighted we now have a preferred bidder on board - on we go with the process."

Councillor John Campion, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: "We have a very good property services team which has supported this council for a very long time."

The contract is set to start from September.