CHANGES to library staffing across Hampshire have been set in motion as part of plans to save £140million from the county council’s budget.

Hampshire County Council (HCC) Councillor Zilliah Brooks told an Appleshaw Parish Council meeting on Thursday last week library staff were to be replaced with mainly electronic systems, and council tax would increase by 5.99 per cent, with three per cent to be ringfenced for funding adult social care.

According to a HCC budget report, library service funds is looking to drop by £734,000 since last year’s revised budget.

Cllr Brooks, who represents the Andover West division on HCC, said: “We have to have a saving of £140million so I go to every meeting to see where we can make cutbacks, which is quite sad to do.

“At the moment we are looking at libraries and we were to start looking at making cut backs on staff and then do everything electronically, getting in with cards, which is a shame because who do people go to for help?”

However, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for culture, recreation and countryside Councillor Andrew Gibson said library staff will be moved to new contracts rather than redundancies being made.

He said: “We have recently completed a successful consultation with library staff about moving them to new contracts, which will result in more flexible working across the branches. For example, a member of staff who usually works at one location may be asked to work at a nearby library to cover for any staff absence.

“These new terms and conditions are due to come into effect in April this year.

“There are no planned redundancies from these proposed changes, or from the introduction of further self-service kiosks, which are already in half of the county’s libraries.

“Our investment in this new self-service technology makes it quicker and easier for library customers to borrow and return books, while we are also investing in our buildings to ensure they are modern and fit for purpose for customers of all ages. This includes the refurbishment of Andover Library this year.”