A consultation that will set the future opening hours of the county's libraries has been launched, and could see Basingstoke Discovery Centre have its hours cut by 28 per cent.

Hampshire County Council are asking for the public's views over the next two weeks on the future opening hours of libraries, after a review of the service saw eight libraries across the county close and the others to open for an average of 20 per cent less.

As previously reported, Chineham library was given a reprieve after previously being put on the shortlist for closure, whilst South Ham and Odiham were not so lucky.

In addition, Kingsclere Community library will have its funding cut.

Cllr Sean Woodward stressed that £775,000 of the £1.76 million that needed to be saved from the library service would come from the reduction in opening hours of the surviving 40 facilities, which could be as much as 39 per cent in some places, to ensure hours are standardised.

And in the proposals released by HCC, Basingstoke Discovery Centre, in Festival Place, would have its hours cut.

Before the coronavirus lockdown, the tier 1 library was open for 58 hours per week, but under the proposals that will be reduced to 41.5.

It will remain open all day on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but for shorter hours (from 9.30am to 5pm).

But the main difference is on Tuesday, where the library will close at 1.30pm.

Basingstoke Gazette:

And it's the same story in many other libraries across North Hampshire, including Chineham (down 12 hours), Fleet (down 8.5 hours), Tadley (down 8 hours), Whitchurch (down 2 hours) and Andover (down 10.5 hours).

But in Overton, HCC are recommending that the library opens for 4.5 hours more than usual, opening on Wednesday morning in addition to its usual hours.

Councillor Seán Woodward, executive member for recreation and heritage at HCC, said: “We’ve agreed a vision for the future of Hampshire’s Library Service, supported by over 70 per cent of those who responded to the first part of the consultation, which will allow us to adapt to the changing needs of our customers and provide the highest-quality library service possible within our financial means – one that is fit for the future.

“We’ve listened to what people told us, and I’m pleased we’ve found a way whereby most of the libraries are likely to remain open as independent community libraries with fresh book support from the County Council, alongside financial and professional advice to help them make the transition.

“The focus of this second consultation is on the 40 council-run libraries and the needs of those individual communities, and I’d encourage people to take part.

"It’s important we hear from local people who use their local libraries about the staffed opening hours which are the most important and the most useful to them.

"We’re also very open to ideas from local groups or organisations who might wish to offer volunteer support to expand on those staffed opening hours to keep their library open to the public longer on some days.”

To take part in the survey, go to hants.gov.uk/library-consultation, or go in to your local library to pick up a paper copy.

It's open from midday today (Monday, August 3) until 11.59pm on August 17, with the results implemented by January 2021.

HCC say that volunteer groups can get in touch to open their local libraries for longer. To do this, email county.library.hq@hants.gov.uk.