At least 26 municipal services staff, hired on contracts, may lose their jobs when the two municipal councils are scrapped, officials revealed yesterday. This is despite assurances that no one would be laid off after the restructuring. Lily Yam Kwan Pui-ying, head of the Taskforce on Reorganisation of Municipal Services, told legislators the assurance applied only to staff on permanent terms and excluded contract and temporary staff. About 650 contract staff are employed by the two councils. Officials will meet them next week to discuss future work arrangements. Speaking at a Finance Committee meeting, Director of Urban Services Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said 26 would be affected immediately. 'We are sympathetic towards them. We hope a detailed arrangement [on their jobs] can be provided.' They include secretaries, designers, market officers and clerks. They have been told they will lose their jobs and will be given new posts with different contracts and conditions. Deputy Secretary for Treasury Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the Government would continue to reduce staff to cut spending. She said voluntary redundancy would be considered in addition to natural wastage and redeployment. Non-affiliated legislator Ambrose Cheung Wing-sum, who represents the Provisional Urban Council, challenged the Government's credibility, saying it had promised 'no one will be laid off'. He said contract and temporary staff were civil servants and that some temporary staff had worked for the councils for years. Legislators approved funding of $27.9 billion yesterday to set up an Environment and Food Bureau and other departments to handle the municipal services from January 1. Television and radio adverts will be taken out to assure people all services will continue. 'People can buy tickets or make their bookings at the same place as before,' said Mrs Yam.