THE plan to cut the Town of Books’ library's opening hours by 20 per cent, has come under fire from Hay-on-Wye’s county councillor.

Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe has defended the value of his local library ahead of a vote by Powys County Council on Tuesday that will likely slash the opening hours of all libraries in the region.

The other option that had been considered would have seen smaller branches closing their doors for good, as the council look to take £350,000 out of the library budget ahead of April.

Cllr Ratcliffe said: “Our library is very popular, heavily used and has excellent staff.

“I don’t think it would have come under threat of closure – but I am concerned this is just a ‘sticking plaster’ and when the closures do come I hope Hay does not get dragged in to it.

“I understand the position the county council is in trying to make cuts, but I worry that these will be false savings.”

The cabinet is expected to accept the proposal, following a 2,000-person survey that revealed 71 per cent of people were in favour of cutting hours over closing libraries.

This will give libraries around the county until April 1 to work out when their busiest times are, and to adjust opening hours accordingly.

Under the same proposal, the mobile library service will also face cutbacks – making rounds once every four weeks, not every two, as is currently the case.

Cllr Ratcliffe added that an asset transfer which would see the running of Hay Library by another organisation, such as the town council, may also be considered.

The library is currently used as a base for several community groups, and also the location for Cllr Ratcliffe’s monthly surgery.

It is also one of the few places where broadband internet is accessible for free in the town.

Anne Brichto, from Addyman Books, said: “The Welsh government is constantly running initiatives to promote internet use and training, especially for the vulnerable, so to cut the opening hours in the one place in Hay where pensioners and those on benefits get free access with sensitive help seems very short-sighted.”