Hampshire County Council (HCC) is undergoing “colossal back office savings” to help with their financial position, as criticism ramps up over their consultation which could see ten libraries closed.

In an interview with the Advertiser, Councillor Sean Woodward, HCC’s executive member for recreation and heritage, said that the council was working behind the scenes to save money, as well as potential cuts to public services that have been reported.

HCC has launched a consultation into the future of the library service. It could see ten libraries shut across the county, and opening hours for the remaining libraries cut by 15 per cent.

Alternatively, all could remain open, with a 25 per cent cut in hours across the board.

Whilst Andover is not one of the ten libraries that could close, it would be effected by any potential alteration in opening hours.

Cllr Woodward said: “There are procurement savings that have been tremendous, there are things on agency staff, savings on our property portfolio.

“Even then [if ten libraries were closed], there would still be £12 million a year being spent on libraries and we’ll still have at least 38 libraries in the county. The requirement is to have at least one per district, and we’re more than triple that.

“We spend £1 million per day looking after our older residents in adult social care. If you say to somebody where would you put your priority - would it be say knocking an hour off the library or getting your grandmother out of bed in the morning so she can live a normal life, where would you choose?

“These are very difficult choices and we’ve had to save half a billion pounds per year out of our budget over the last ten years. The political decision is that adult social care is an absolute priority.”

However, the prescribed scenarios may not be the only outcomes. Cllr Woodward said that a compromise solution could be found.

“You might end up with five closed and a 20 per cent reduction in opening hours, for the sake of argument,” he continued. “Or we may have other solutions.”

Have your say on the proposals here: http://bit.ly/37j16O5.