RESIDENTS are being asked their views on drastic cuts to library opening hours in a brief consultation that overlaps Christmas.

Council bosses had proposed cutting back hours at centres across West Dunbartonshire.

But the corporate services committee delayed the plan saying there needed to be a public consultation first and that a new Skypoint should be considered for Faifley instead of its current library.

The SNP motion said “further work” was needed to ensure hours “meet the needs of our communities”.

The consultation, which launched last Tuesday, runs for 15 days in total, only 10 working days at the busiest time of year, ending on December 28.

A letter from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has already blasted the reduction in library hours and residents and opposition politicians have called the consultation on the changes to extend until January 9.

Labour education spokesman Councillor John Mooney said: “This has been refused on the grounds of operational convenience. My position is that the interests of my constituents are of paramount importance.

“I find it deeply ironic that this allegedly open and caring SNP administration launched this proposal during National Book Week and the week before our HMIE inspection on raising attainment. Now some people are complaining that they are trying to bury this consultation during the festive period.

“Libraries are an important part of education for people of all ages and a vital community resource, not a commodity to be chopped and changed arbitrarily. The librarians’ letter states that ‘the reduction in opening hours would severely damage the ability to meet community needs’.

“I could not agree more. Finally, I encourage you all to have your say before this council takes it away.”

The council said the time was more than enough.

A spokeswoman said: “It has been launched in December in order to allow us to gather the views of library users, consider any changes and prepare a new report that is ready for issue on January 25 for the corporate services committee.

“We are confident that we have enough time to consult key user groups and general library visitors using our established email lists, social media, local media and through face to face engagement with our branch coordinators and assistants.”

Councillor Ian Dickson, convener of corporate services, added: “There’s no doubt that we need a new timetable. The existing one is more than five years old, expensive to operate and leaves branches open at times when they are barely used.”