RESIDENTS have reacted angrily to proposals that could see two of Basingstoke's three libraries close.

As reported in the Gazette yesterday, Hampshire County Council have announced a public consultation that could see ten libraries in Hampshire close, including those in South Ham and Chineham, as well as Odiham.

It would also see the remaining libraries' opening hours cut by 15 per cent.

But county bosses said there is still a possibility for all Hampshire libraries to remain open but that would mean that there would be a 25% reduction in their opening hours.

A number of Basingstoke residents got involved in the debate on social media, including Stefan Powell, who said: "This sucks!"

Another, Sarah Newman, said: "This is sad and such a shame when it is so important to get children into reading and it is not always easy for people to go and buy books hence why libraries are so important.

"It is also not always easy for everyone to travel into town (bus fares, parking charges) so the local area ones are vital."

Helen Dawes added: "The library staff do so much more in the community than people realise!"

However, Natalie Irons said that data was needed on how much the libraries are being used: "I wonder how many of the people commenting on here have been or are regular users of the library?"

Jane Kettridge added: "Chineham library is a vital and valuable resource in the community."

Residents are now asked to have their say on the two proposed options or suggests new ways that would help Hampshire County Council save £1.76m from the library service by 2021.

Other libraries across the county such as Blackfield and Lyndhurst in the New Forest, Fair Oak, Elson in Gosport, Emsworth in Havant, Horndean in East Hampshire and Lee-on-the-Solent in Gosport are also at risk in a move that could see between 40 to 50 jobs put at risk.

Additionally, Kingsclere Community Library, Lowford Community Library, Milford-on-Sea Community Library and North Baddesley Community Library may be turned into independent community-managed libraries which means they will no longer be supported by the county council and will have to be run entirely by volunteers.

Cllr Sean Woodward, executive member for recreation and heritage at the county council said the authority is "absolutely committed to providing a high-quality library service".

The consultation will close on March 18 and the authority stressed that no decision will be made until all consultation responses have been fully analysed.

Documents have revealed that 300 people work full time across libraries in Hampshire.

There are also libraries in Tadley and Overton, as well as Basingstoke Discovery Centre, that are unaffected by the proposals.

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