FURTHER cuts to library services throughout the borough were carried out by the council in a desperate bid to balance the books.

Reading Borough Council's (RBC) policy committee agreed to reduce opening hours at six of the seven libraries, a move which could save the cash-strapped authority £211,000.

The library cuts form part of the council's latest batch of savings, with a predicted funding gap of £43.2m needing to be overturned.

Central and Caversham Library will now be closed on Wednesday's and the overall number of operational hours will be cut from 150 to 123 across the borough.

Residents voiced their concerns when RBC launched a consultation on the proposed changes, fearing the cuts would impact schoolchildren and people who work full time.

Councillor Sarah Hacker, lead member for leisure, culture and sport, said: "Nobody on this committee takes any pleasure in making these cuts to our library services.

"We are not actually closing any libraries. These services are not going anywhere. They are a vital service to residents.

"The money is simply not there. People have talked about us having choices. What would you like to have cut instead? We have to have a legally balanced budget.

Reading Chronicle:

"You must remember where the cuts are coming from. Alok Sharma needs to hear how angry you are to reinstate our library services.

"I urge you all to tell him how you feel and to tell Theresa May that what she is doing is destroying communities."

Late nights are retained at six of the seven library sites, including two late nights at Central Library.

A book drop facility will be installed outside Caversham, Tilehurst, Battle and Palmer Park libraries to allow residents to return books.

Councillor Meri O'Connell (Lib Dem) added: "There is such a sense of community and friendship at Tilehurst Library. It is not just the people with small children.

"It cuts down on social isolation and is a remedy for loneliness. I am really worried that the reduction in hours is just going to get smaller and smaller to the point where we have no library services left.

"We are justifying the shutting and the cutting. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"You have choices and once they are gone and the land is sold off they can't be replaced. I am afraid I simply cannot support this. It will cost us more in the long run."