MARIA Miller has said it is "right" that Hampshire County Council are looking into the future of three libraries in the wider Basingstoke area.

As reported in the Gazette, the number of libraries across the county could drop from 48 to 38 and the remaining ones could see a 15 per cent reduction in their opening hours as part of restructure of the library service in Hampshire.

County bosses added there is still a possibility for all Hampshire libraries to remain open but that would mean a 25 per cent reduction in their opening hours.

In the wider Basingstoke area, Chineham, South Ham and Odiham libraries are at risk of closure, whilst Basingstoke Discovery Centre, Tadley Library and Overton Library are safe.

Speaking to the Gazette on Friday, Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, said that it was "right" that Hampshire County Council were looking into the proposals.

"I want to keep the services that people really use so I think it's right that Hampshire County Council take a proper look at what we should keep in terms of resources," she said.

"There have been no final decisions made yet but I think we're really lucky for our Discovery Centre which I would say is one of the best in the country which a huge number of people use across the borough.

"We want to give people what they want."

Meanwhile, Laura Edwards, who is a ward councillor in Chineham, said she understands the need said she was "disappointed".

"I'm a big fan of Chineham library, I went there when I was little," Cllr Edwards said.

"I appreciate the need for it, but it is a very disappointing decision.

"I encourage all of the residents to put their opinions forwards because they [Hampshire County Council] need to know how important it is."

Cllr Edwards added that she would look into the possibility of setting up a community library, should Chineham library be shut.

"I was there today (Friday) and there are people in there and it is well used," she continued.

"We are a lovely community and I feel with the town expanding, we need our community focal points."

Meanwhile, Cllr Ken Crookes, Hart District Councillor for Odiham, also urged people to respond to the consultation to let the council know their views.

Odiham library is one of those that could be scrapped, which would leave people in the town facing a long drive to Basingstoke, Alton or Fleet to visit their nearest library.

Cllr Crookes said: "It's up to people to respond to the consultation to make their views known how much they value their libraries.

"I am very hopeful that there will be a very good response and the county council will listen.

"It is important to understand that libraries are not just a place where people go to borrow books, but a meeting place. It's important for particularly older residents that can walk there in Odiham."

Both Cllr Crookes and Cllr Edwards added that they believed that their respective libraries were well-used, with Cllr Edwards citing popular mums groups that take place there.

You can have your say here: