Just under two thirds of Cornwall Council employees voting over proposed changes to the terms and conditions of their employment were in favour of the suggestions.

In a trade union ballot, 62 per cent of those voting approved the changes, which include a pay freeze effective from February 1 as well as new rules over annual leave and mileage allowance. These will come into effect at the beginning of April 2011.

The percentage is an average of three votes: members of Unison, which were 69.1 per cent in favour, Unite, which were 64.5 per cent in favour and GMB, which were 54 per cent in favour.

Cornwall Council said it welcomed the findings of the ballot, which was said to have a “very strong turnout.”

This decision – which the councils says will help it save £6 million from its pay bill in 2011 / 2012 and protect at least 200 jobs – means that Cornwall has become the first local authority in the country to reach a collective agreement of this scale with its staff.

Kevin Lavery, chief executive of Cornwall Council, said: “I am pleased that our employees recognised the very difficult financial situation facing the council and have voted by an overwhelming majority to accept the changes which were proposed following intensive negotiation with the trade unions.

“This vote means we can now achieve the savings we need to protect against further cuts in jobs and front line services.”

He described it as “a challenging time for everyone” and thanked the union and employees for working with the council.

A scheme to limit the financial impact of the proposals on the employees most seriously affected by the changes over the next 12 months will also be put in place.