THE shortening of the opening times of Bury's four remaining libraries has been described as a 'massacre'.

The council made the decision to close 10 of the borough's libraries earlier in the year after a consultation period.

After it was reported the opening hours of the four remaining libraries would be cut, Cllr Tim Pickstone says that with these new times there will only be two opportunities each week for a working family to visit all together.

Cllr Pickstone said: "We opposed the closure of the ten libraries, but councillors were clearly ‘sold’ the idea that that closing 10 would secure the viability of the four that remain.

"We’ve also been ‘sold' that new automated technology would help save costs

"Now we’re seeing opening times massacred at the four remaining libraries — opening later, closing earlier not opening at all on Mondays.

"Saturday openings in Prestwich are to end in the Spring.

"There is only going to be two times a week when a working family could visit a library together, Thursday night and one weekend morning.

"Libraries are practically our only open access community facility. Such a massive reduction in hours is a retrograde step."

In the new year all four libraries will be shut on Mondays; open 10am to 4.30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and open 12.30pm to 7pm on Thursdays.

On Saturdays they will open 9.30am to 1pm and with the exception of Prestwich be shut on Sundays.

Prestwich will open 9.30am to 1pm on Sundays and in the spring will no longer be open on Saturdays.

A spokesman for Bury Council said: "Year after year of ‘austerity’ has forced the council to make budget cuts of around £70 million. These cuts have been made across the board, and the library service could not be immune from the need to make substantial savings.

“A full review of library services was carried out and, following a year-long public consultation, the decision was made by the council to reduce the library budget by more than £1 million. This means that staff, buildings, services and opening hours have to reduce.

“The review process identified that the council's statutory duties under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 could be met by providing three libraries; following the public consultation, however, it was decided that four libraries would be retained. The remainder will close their doors as council libraries on 20 December, although some may be taken over by community groups early next year.

“The reductions in staff mean that we cannot continue to keep the remaining libraries open on their current timetable. We have based the new hours on staff availability and when libraries are most used, and tried to keep a mixture of daytime, evening and weekend opening hours to meet as many needs as we can, given the constraints imposed on the service.”