CAMPAIGNERS are pleading with the Government to stop reducing funding to local authorities after 25 percent cuts to library opening hours were agreed.

East Sussex County Council has approved revised opening hours which will save around £500,000 per year.

There will be an average 25 per cent reduction in opening hours across the county’s 24 libraries. Opening times will continue to vary 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. All will open on Saturdays.

Margaret Martin, chair of the Friends of Pevensey Bay Library, has sent this message to central government:

"Please look again at what is happening to libraries and reverse the current policy to phase out the annual grant settlement to local authorities from central government.

"Access to public services should not be a postcode lottery dependant on what local authority area you live in, which is what is happening as a consequence of making all council services dependant on raising council tax.

"Libraries in this country should be delivered to a consistent set of high standards with appropriate funding to deliver these."

The Friends of Pevensey Bay Library has fought a 18-month battle with the council to get its library reopened after flooding and damp issues.

The library is expected to reopen on August 30, but Margaret said the problem is far reaching.

She said: "The council has committed to not closing libraries until their strategic review reports at this time next year. At that point another £750,000 of cuts will be sought.

"After finding £500,000 from staff savings, £250,000 from the book fund, and another £500,000 from reducing library opening hours by a quarter, it is hard to imagine how this will be found other than through closing libraries.

"It would be easy to criticise the council but they are between a rock and a hard place. The Government’s comprehensive spending review last year set the scene for phasing out central funding of local authority services requiring councils to find the funds through raising council tax but limiting how much they can raise."

The county council proposals are part of a wider transformation programme for the county’s libraries, which the cabinet approved in December 2015, and will help towards the library service’s savings target of £2million over the next three years.

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.