You will remember when Old Town Library moved from Victoria Road to The Arts Centre what a positive development it was heralded to be.

To be in an arts “hub”, with the ability to check out books when no library staff are present, was considered the big plus. But this easy access to books, public computers and expert assistance from library staff – things people have taken for granted since the library moved from Victoria Road – is in jeopardy again.

My understanding from the March 5 public meeting with council officers, held in The Arts Centre, is that Old Town Library’s actual opening hours will be reduced to only 18 per week. Why? Because the building, under its new operator, will be closed much of the time.

When the library moved to The Arts Centre, an increase in the library’s opening times over and above the staffed-hours was given a lot of column inches, and the whole initiative used to get councillors re-elected. We could not have imagined then that just a short time later all those benefits would be brushed aside. To complete its two-pronged attack, the council has reiterated its proposals to replace paid library staff for the 18 hours with volunteers.

Bizarrely, we are told to plead with the new commercial operator for better terms that is not something those who prefer to exercise their rights within the democratic process would be willing to do. How dare the officers say “take these matters up with the Wyvern people”? If SBC has not drawn up a watertight contract with the new operator that safeguards the operation of a viable public library and our Arts Centre, they must be held to account.

What will be the reaction from the public as they approach The Arts Centre and the doors do not automatically open as they do now? Many of them will give up, with inevitable consequences.

April 1 is almost upon us – the deal to hand over The Arts Centre has been done. Users still have no idea that their access to The Arts Centre, the freedom to wander in and out as they please, has most likely gone for ever. As a result there will be no accessible public space for residents and the wider public in Old Town.

Most Friends of the library were unaware of that until this week. The rest of Swindon probably hasn’t a clue about what’s happening to a venue they love and value. Perhaps they will all now speak up.

Shirley Burnham, Arundel Close, Swindon