WOTTON-under-Edge Library could be left with reduced opening hours under new proposals.

Last week Gloucestershire County Council revealed its new plans to save £800,000 through changes to its library service.

The proposals, which will go out for public consultation next week, are a second attempt by the authority to restructure its libraries and save money after its previous strategy was thrown out by a High Court challenge.

However, the revised proposals are causing concern in Wotton where the town’s library is being reduced to 12 hours.

Under the original restructure Wotton Library was to be professionally staffed by two librarians for 12 hours a week and open for a further 10 hours a week, with a local volunteer working alongside a librarian.

Cllr John Cordwell, county councillor for Wotton, said county leaders had made no assurances that the agreement still stood.

Speaking to the Gazette, he said: "It could be that Wotton is left in a worse situation than before."

Cllr Cordwell raised the issue at the county council’s cabinet meeting last Friday, January 20.

In a written response Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: "It is proposed that the 12 opening hours per week, plus the possibility the additional hours with volunteer and community support, will provide at least equivalent to the former proposals."

For Berkeley the new proposals mean the town’s library will be closed and handed over to the community to run as recommended in the original restructure.

According to cabinet papers, released as part of the new proposals, last year Wotton Library had 24,604 visits but only 1,602 active borrowers – just 19 per cent of the population. In Berkeley the library had 8,363 visits and just 622 active borrowers, which is 11 per cent of the population.

Cllr Cordwell has also raised concerns that people living in the south of the county, in places such as Wotton and Berkeley, were being assumed to visit libraries across the border in South Gloucestershire.

Cabinet papers claim ‘observational evidence’ from staff indicates people are using libraries in Thornbury, Yate and Chipping Sodbury.

Cllr Hawthorne said the county council was not relying on neighbouring authorities.

The Gloucestershire County Council’s draft library strategy begins on Monday, January 30. For more information visit www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/libraries2012