OPENING hours at East Sussex libraries look set to be cut by a quarter as the county council tries to save up to £90 million over the next three years.

East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to agree revised opening hours which could save around £500,000 per year.

The plan is an average 25 per cent reduction in opening hours across the county’s 24 libraries, following a 12-week public consultation.

If agreed, opening times will continue to vary across the county but libraries will generally not open before 10am or after 5pm.

Those that currently open later than 5.30pm would retain one evening opening until 6pm on a Thursday, with the exception of Ringmer Library.

The council has found that over the past five years there has been an 11 percent drop in visitors to libraries but an 87 percent increase in the use of e-libraries, which offer digital and audio books.

The library service’s savings target is £2 million over the next three years.

Nick Skelton, assistant director for communities, said: "Our proposals have been built around evidence of how people are using their libraries.

"The consultation period gave residents the opportunity to tell us how the proposed changes would affect them so that we could ensure that the final proposals put forward meet their needs."

At a previous Cabinet meeting, Tory leader Keith Glazier said the plan was about "confining the opening times to something that's realistic and affordable".

Labour councillor Godfrey Daniel said he was pleased libraries would not have to close, adding that he hoped a future Labour government would invest "in these vital public services".

Changes have been made to the proposals for 11 libraries, including Seaford, having one late opening and Ringmer Library opening on a Saturday morning instead of a Tuesday evening. This means that all of the county’s libraries would now open on a Saturday.

No changes have been proposed for the mobile library services or e-library service, which allow members to access e-books and e-audiobooks and a range of free online reference materials 24 hours a day.

Library materials can also be renewed by phone 24 hours a day.