Liberal Democrat plans to spend £100,000 of taxpayer money to find out how to make £14m cuts have been branded "outrageous" by Richmond Tories.
The Lib Dems, who are the ruling party on Richmond Council, want to shave 10% off the borough's annual budget in the next few years, and have held meetings with three top consultancy firms with a view to bringing one of them in to tell them how to do it.
But opposition councillors are furious and say residents will take a dim view of the plan too.
Tory deputy leader Geoffrey Samuel said: "Residents will be angered to learn that the Lib Dems are spending £100,000 of their money to receive advice on how to make cuts of £14m. Why don't they ask the people?
"Let us be clear what is going on – this council, which has squandered too much of its golden inheritance from the Conservatives now tells us that it needs to cut services by £14m. These are cuts, not efficiencies or whatever dishonest word is brought into play as a cover up.
"The Lib Dems are planning a 10 per cent cut in local services. A council which genuinely believed in consulting its electors would have spent half this amount on employing a company such as MORI to find out what our residents want.
"Caught between a spend thrift Labour government whose £175bn debts have ruined public finances and incompetent local Liberals, the prospects for our residents are bleak indeed."
Council leader Serge Lourie defended the move, saying it was normal practice for local authorities to hire such companies.
"The council is considered to be on of the most efficient in the country by the audit commission. We are looking to the future, when local government is going to have far less to spend and are examining ways in which we can maintain our reputation for outstanding value for money.
"The Conservatives' attack was from opposition but many Tory council in London are going through the same process."
Should Richmond Council be tightening its belt? Are cuts the only way and is spending £100,000 on consultants money well spent? Post your comments below.