MORE than 65 people have so far signed a petition against Swindon Council’s plans to cut the opening hours of libraries to help save £15m to balance the budget in 2013/14.

The administration’s final budget proposals set out plans to cut staffed opening hours across all libraries by a total of 26 per cent to save about £99,000 in staff costs, providing 10 staffed hours a week in smaller libraries, 30 in medium libraries, 45 in larger libraries and 55 at the Central Library.

This will lead to a reduction in opening hours in most cases, although Old Town, in the Arts Centre, Devizes Road, will see no change in actual opening hours as the council says it can operate for periods without staff.

Smaller libraries being affected are Covingham, Penhill, Pinetrees, Liden, Old Town, Even Swindon, and Walcot; the medium libraries are Moredon and Rodbourne Cheney, Upper Stratton, Park and Wroughton; while the larger libraries are Highworth, West Swindon and North Swindon.

Save Old Town Library, an action group led by Shirley Burnham, has launched a petition, that says the cuts to smaller libraries are disproportionate as Old Town and Penhill would lose nearly half its staffed hours, while Central Library would only lose three.

Copies of the petition are available to sign at Earles newsagents, in Newport Street, Old Town, and the John Moulton Hall, in Penhill Drive. Shirley is also collecting signatures in Wood Street, Old Town, every day from 10-11am.