SNP councillors have voted to slash library hours across West Dunbartonshire so they can “modernise” them.

The reduction in hours at all branches will be used to save money on the service, to be reinvested in movable shelves and even £5,000 for a mobile bar at Clydebank Town Hall.

But Labour councillors blasted the cuts and said the £421,000 investments could easily come from regeneration budgets instead of capital funding, erasing the need for reducing services.

Council officers pitched the cuts in November but councillors voted to send the plans to consultation, which got a massive 1,001 responses.

But they still concluded the cost per visits were too high compared to other councils.

Alexandria and Dumbarton libraries will drop to 39.5 hours a week and Balloch will to drop to 30.5, cutting 10-17 hours a week.

The new timetable will see Alexandria Library drop from 51 hours a week to 43, Dumbarton will drop from 57 to 42.5, and Balloch will drop from 40.5 to 31 hours.

The SNP has said they hope to create a new library for the area in the future.

At the corporate services committee last week, Malcolm Bennie, the council’s strategic lead for communications, culture and communities, said their ability to boost use of libraries while cutting budgets in recent years proved they could do “more with less”.

He said: “We believe this report will allow us to transform into an efficient and modern service. Since 2010-11, across 32 councils, the funding to libraries has reduced by 22 per cent. But the number of visitors has gone up 47 per cent – clear evidence you can do more with less and that’s essentially the proposal I’m putting forward.

“My personal belief is the service should be self-funding. For me, it’s the right way of doing it and it’s going to have a massive benefit.

“A lot of councils are investing in new [library] buildings but not investment cross-network.”

Another controversial part of the plans will see annual rental charges introduced for musical instruments.

Mr Bennie admitted they did not consult on the musical instrument charges and they were a way to “protect front-line services elsewhere”.

He said: “We did not undertake a consultation with residents about the introduction of those charges. I believe those are the right charges to bring in looking across what other local authorities are doing.

“This is a way in which we can apply charges to protect frontline services elsewhere.

“I completely acknowledge it’s not in the consultation but we have written extensively to parents and the numbers raising issues are extremely small so I take the view this is something that’s acceptable it seems.”

Councillor John Mooney moved an amendment to reject the hours cut and means testing for instruments. He said the investment should be funded by regeneration, not by cutting services.

“We are selling off the family silver for £421,000,” he added. “There will be unintended consequences here.”

Councillor Martin Rooney said: “I don’t think the issue is the cost per visit – I think the real value is there in the heart of our communities.”

But council leader, Cllr Jonathan McColl, said: “We have seen libraries underfunded by Labour. Our libraries are not meeting the needs of our communities.”

The cuts were approved by six votes to three.