Wolverhampton library-users' dismay at plans to cut opening hours to just 15
Campaigners today said they were 'gutted' over plans to cut opening hours at some libraries in Wolverhampton to just 15 hours a week.
The city council has outlined proposals to reduce opening hours at the city's libraries from 656 hours per week to 421 hours.
Critics said they were 'shocked and saddened' to hear proposals for Whitmore Reans library, which is one of the worst affected by the plans and would see its weekly opening hours cut from 51 hours a week to just 15.
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Pru Coleman, from the Citywide Libraries Action Group, said: "We are absolutely gutted.
"Whitmore Reans is an area where there are high levels of multiple deprivation. We can't believe this can seriously be an option for this library."
She said the proposals for the city's libraries would affect children at a time when chiefs are trying to raise education standards at primary level.
Miss Coleman, of Studley Road, in Finchfield, added: "There is an issue around accessibility too. If the hours are severely reduced there may be some people who because of work or commitments don't even get chance to visit the library.
"It seems to be some of the most deprived areas that are the worst hit."
Pupils of East Park Primary School have already campaigned to prevent their library being moved elsewhere, which would have stopped them visiting regularly.
Meanwhile, MEP Nikki Sinclaire spoke of her sadness on hearing the proposals. She said libraries were not only about books.
"They can be places for quiet reflection. In these modern times, they can be a place to access the internet or local services," she said.
"The thought of any child without access to a library makes me very sad indeed."
The reduced hours come as the council battles to save £123m over the next five years.
The library service has been given a target to make savings of £1.7 million, which is over half its current operating budget.
Under proposals, Bilston, Warstones and Wednesfield libraries would be staffed for 39 hours a week, Finchfield and Tettenhall for 30 hours and Ashmore Park, Pendeford and Penn libraries for 24 hours.
Leisure chief Councillor Elias Mattu said no libraries would close.