A CAMPAIGN has been launched to stop the opening hours at a Colchester library being cut by nearly a third.

Essex County Council says the way to keep every library in the county open amid budget cuts is to reduce opening hours and shed 21 jobs.

Lib Dem activists have started a campaign to limit the impact on one of the libraries which would be worst hit.

Prettygate Library, in Prettygate Road, is open six days a week, for 47 hours, often opening until 7pm.

With County Hall standardising opening hours depending on the number of residents who live nearby, Prettygate’s opening hours are set to drop to 34 a week.

Campaigner and Prettygate resident John Loxley said: “We’ve seen the county council close Grey Friars Adult Education Centre and the Essex Records Office in Colchester. Now they’re reducing hours in libraries more than anywhere else in Essex.

“It’s hitting the young and the old if you reduce the hours of libraries.”

Retired teacher Tony Mortimer, 64, of Maldon Road, uses both Prettygate and Colchester’s central library, which will see its opening hours reduced from 67 to 59 a week.

He said: “I think it’s awful, absolutely dreadful. It’s a lovely sociable place.

“There are plenty of children who don’t have books at home and they can’t afford it and need to be able to borrow them.”

An ex-librarian, who did not wish to be named, added: “It’s always a shame – once the hours have gone, they’ve gone.

“But it’s true that people don’t use libraries as much as they used to.

“When I first worked in libraries, books were really expensive – a Christmas present of a book was a really precious thing.

“Now you can buy books so cheaply on Amazon.”

A consultation starting on Monday will give residents the chance to comment on the plans and ask them which opening hours, such as Saturdays and evening openings, libraries should stay open.

Greenstead Library’s opening hours will be reduced from 38 to 34 a week.

Libraries in Stanway, Tiptree, West Mersea, and Wivenhoe will not be affected.