COUNTY councillors have backed revised plans for changes to library opening hours.

The response of readers to proposed cost-cutting measures, which could have seen many libraries across Hampshire closed a day a week, led to a rethink by Hampshire County Council.

Councillors at the Culture Communities and Rural Affairs Select Committee heard how the original plan to save £450,000 for next year led to a public consultation that saw 5,500 responses.

The draft proposal was to reduce opening by 145.5 hours a week – or 7.5 per cent.

Eleven key libraries were excluded, one from each district, but most others would close one day a week with changes set to affect 37 of the 53 libraries.

After just one month, the council changed proposals for five libraries including Alresford, Eastleigh and Totton – Eastleigh will remain open six days a week but on shorter opening hours.

The responses led to further changes to proposals in 26 libraries moving away from closing one day a week in some cases or reinstating night closures.

Under the new scheme, total savings are £446,000.

The proposals were approved by the committee yesterday and now go before the lead member for Culture and Recreation Cllr Keith Chapman on January 20.

The county council needs to save £4.7m in libraries for 2012-13 as part of a total £45m savings.

Nicola Horsey, assistant director of culture communities and business services, said the county council will also provide funding for the installation of self service machines at Hedge End, West End and Hythe libraries after they were approached by town councils asking what they could do to prevent changes in opening hours.

She said they were in consultation with Hedge End Town Council about the possibility of recruiting volunteers and a meeting was set for next month for those interested to hear more, but admitted this was hugely controversial with staff and unions.