COUNTY chiefs are rethinking plans to cut opening hours at five libraries after being brought to book by readers.

Hampshire County Council is proposing to close two libraries and slash opening hours at 36 others as part of controversial plans to save £2.4m.

But just five weeks into a three-month consultation, library bosses have acknowledged proposed cuts might cause problems in Alresford, Eastleigh, Totton, Whitchurch and Leigh Park but say the total number of hours will still be reduced by eight per cent.

In Totton, the council has dropped a proposal to close the library on Wednesday mornings after protests it would reduce trade for the weekly market. Instead the council is now proposing to shut the library on Saturday afternoons.

Meanwhile in Eastleigh, the proposed new all-day closure on Monday has been changed after locals called for the library to remain open six days a week. Now the council is proposing it should close half an hour earlier on weekdays.

In Alresford, the council has spared late-night Friday openings from the axe and will instead open slightly later on Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings.

More than 2,000 have so far responded to the public consultation which ends on December 28.

Councillor Keith Chapman, executive member for culture and recreation, said: “I want to thank the public for 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.2 Other plans include closing libraries in Stanmore, Winchester and North Baddesley unless volunteers come forward to run them.

Winchester city councillors Lucille Thompson and Jamie Scott, who represent St Luke ward in Winchester, have spearheaded a campaign to save the library in Stanmore, one of the most deprived parts of the city.

Cllr Scott chaired a meeting in The Carrol youth centre involving interested parties from both the council and local residents.

Conservative Cllr Scott said: “We don’t want to see the library close in Stanmore. It would be a shame to lose such a vital facility in our community. Young and old enjoy reading.”

The discussion included the current low-use, possible alternative premises, a mobile library and university students volunteering to staff the library.