A BIG response from bookworms in Whitchurch has saved an hour of library time from the cuts guillotine.

However, the town still faces losing a quarter of its library opening hours as part of the cost-cutting programme being consulted on by Hampshire County Council.

The original plans meant the library in the Gill Nethercott Centre was due to have its opening hours cut by 28.3 per cent – a much higher figure than the average 7.5 per cent proposed for libraries across the county.

But five weeks into a three-month consultation, in which there has been a lot of opposition, county chiefs have decided to permit another hour of opening.

It still means the opening hours will go down from 26.5 a week to 20 – a percentage cut of 24.5 per cent.

The council is aiming to reduce opening hours at the 53 libraries in the county in order to save £2.4million.

Councillor Keith Chapman, executive member for culture and recreation, said: “I want to thank the public for all their constructive comments on our proposals.

“An early analysis of the feedback showed a clear need to alter the opening hours at five libraries to suit customer requirements better.

“The consultation is open until December 28 so I would urge people to keep submitting their comments on all 53 libraries and Discovery Centres.”

The county council says there are ‘key’ libraries in each district council area, which will be central hubs, supporting the smaller libraries.

The goal is to keep these 11 key libraries open for at least 50 hours per week, six days a week.

Whitchurch county councillor Tom Thacker, told a meeting of Whitchurch Town Council: “We are under awful pressure to save money. I think that Andover has fared quite well out of this, and that’s the nearest large library to Whitchurch.”

He said there had been a “big response” from Whitchurch residents to the consultation.

Whitchurch town councillor John Wall said the 7.5 per cent should be shared out across the county.