WINCHESTER Labour Party has condemned the Conservatives’ “destructive and wholly unnecessary” plans to close 10 libraries and slash the opening hours of many more.

In a statement, the branch said: “It is an outrageous fiction worthy of a bookshelf to suggest that a country as wealthy as Britain cannot provide its local authorities with the money to run fundamental public services. These libraries are a particularly vital resource for students, pensioners and young families, not to mention those with no other access to computers or printers, essential for completing, for instance, Universal Credit applications. Their closure will leaving gaping holes in the community.

“This Conservative council has made cuts of nearly £500 million since 2008, and despite promises that ‘austerity is over’, they still want to cut more, passing on to our communities the savage cuts to local authority grants made by the Tory central Government over the last decade.

“These cuts do not just affect budgets or finance books, but swing an axe clean through the social fabric of our communities – and our children’s futures. Winchester and Chandler’s Ford Labour Party will do everything it can to support local people and our trade unions as they fight to protect our cherished libraries.”

Last week the Chronicle reported a campaign by Hampshire Authors for Libraries with a letter to the Chronicle signed by 81.

Among the signatories were Neil Gaiman, Chris Packham, Philip Hoare, Claire Fuller, Ali Sparkes, Lucy Jones and James McConnachie.

County councillor Séan Woodward said the council was committed to “providing a high-quality library service”.