A TEST Valley councillor has hit out at proposals to axe up a Hampshire library as county bosses try to balance the books.

Cllr Alan Dowden, who represents Valley Park on the borough council, branded the plans to chop the number of libraries across the county from 48 to 38 a "kick in the teeth", as Hampshire County Council (HCC) aims to save £1.76m by 2021.

Now the councillor has revealed he plans to put a motion forward to the county council in a bid to save North Baddesley Community Library, Willis Avenue, from being run entirely by volunteers, with no support from HCC.

Cllr Dowden said: "This is the last straw, clearly the volunteers want the library to keep running but you cannot expect them to raise the money for North Baddesley library as well.

"It is a real kick in the teeth because the volunteers work hard to keep the library open and they have been running it for almost eight years now, so this is looking pretty bleak.

"It will impact the schools in North Baddesley as well because their nearest library will be three miles away in Romsey or Chandler's Ford.

"Not all mums with children have got cars either, so how are they going to get there?"

He added:

"I am angry, but people have got to understand why are all of these cuts coming as the council have to save another £80 million and most of the MPs in Hampshire are Tories.

"It is all about cutting services now and we knew it was coming, but we didn't realise it would be so severe on the libraries.

"Boris Johnson was throwing money away before the election and he seems to have ignored Hampshire, yet people put all the MPs back into parliament."

Other libraries that could face the same fate as North Baddesley Community Library include Kingsclere Community Library, Lowford Community Library and Milford-on-Sea Community Library, which could all be turned into independent community-managed libraries.

The move would save £49,000.

Hampshire County Council’s Executive member for recreation and heritage, cllr Seán Woodward, said: “The way people use library services is changing, and we need to make sure our services evolve to meet these needs.

“At the same time, we are facing an anticipated budget shortfall of £80 million by April 2021 and are having to look across all of the County Council’s services to find savings which can help to bridge this gap as demands for services rise, particularly in social care.

"The Library Service is required to identify £1.76 million towards the County Council’s overall savings target.

“We remain absolutely committed to providing a high-quality library service, fit for the future, that responds to a new generation of library customers. Therefore, we feel the right thing to do is focus the resources we have on where they will be of most benefit - to make the library service relevant in a way that will improve the literacy, life chances and wellbeing of Hampshire residents."

County bosses have also proposed all 48 council-run libraries could remain open, but that would mean that they will all have their opening hours reduced by 25 percent.

The county council said the impact on staff would also depend on the number of closures, but between 40 to 50 jobs could be at risk.

Residents have the possibility to suggest new options as part of the public consultation which will close on March 18.

A final decision on the proposal is expected to be made in summer 2020, followed by a further consultation on opening hours.

Changes would be implemented in autumn 2020.