LIBRARIES across Hampshire, including Fordingbridge and Ringwood, could have their opening hours reduced as Hampshire County Council looks at the future of the service.

Proposals are being put forward to Hampshire Library Service executive member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward, at his Decision Day on Tuesday (July 28).

These include closing eight libraries, Blackfield, Elson, Fair Oak, Horndean, Lee-on-the-Solent, Lyndhurst, Odiham and South Ham, which was previously ten, as well as reducing opening hours across the service by an average of 20 per cent, together with proposals to standardise hours.

The county council says £1.76 million must be saved from the library budget.

The authority is also set to withdraw its support to four community libraries.

The county council runs 48 libraries.

The proposals come after a public consultation, which saw more than 21,000 people share their views.

Two options were put forward - reducing opening hours of all Hampshire libraries by 25 per cent or closing up to ten libraries and reduce opening hours of all remaining libraries by an average of 15 per cent.

Fifty eight per cent preferred the option of a greater reduction in opening hours for all libraries over individual branch closures.

Councillor Woodward said: “I would like to thank all the people who took the time to respond to our consultation – more than 21,000 people shared their views. It is clear that library services are close to people’s hearts; and it was encouraging that so many people recognise the challenges faced by libraries and want to bring their ideas to the table. I will be looking very closely at this feedback alongside the evidence, as I consider the recommendations later this month.”

Consultation feedback, additional data and alternative suggestions indicated that two libraries (Chineham and Emsworth) should not be closed.

Councillor Woodward added: “These are difficult choices to have to make, and we continue to work hard to minimise the impact on residents.

“Our aim is to provide the best possible library service within our means – one that is fit for the future. And although this means we must reduce costs, it does not stop us from innovating and seizing new opportunities.”

“For example, while digital take-up was strong before lockdown, even more people of all ages have signed up to digital library services during the pandemic. People have responded very positively to the different ways of accessing library services through the innovative use of technology.”

For more information on the proposals go to