Library users across Pendle have hit out at Lancashire County Council's plan to change opening hours in the borough's two main libraries.
Staff and users at Nelson and Colne Libraries have been left shocked at the county council's decision to attach gradings to libraries, which will see cuts to Nelson Library's opening hours from July 1st.
Colne Library has been designated a 'Band A' library which means it will be open 50 hours a week, while Nelson Library has been classified as a 'Band B' library, which will be open 42 hours per week.
However, the decision, which was made by Lancashire County Council's Cabinet, has angered users of both libraries who say the bandings make no sense, while staff are also thought to be unhappy as they face being transferred between the two sites and having their rotas changed.
One member of the public, who did not wish to be named, said: "When you look at the statistics of footfall and usage of the libraries, Nelson is outperforming Colne on many fronts, and is a much busier and a much more used library.
"These statistics were passed on to the Cabinet but they still decided to make these changes. In short, the busier and more used library is losing hours, the quieter library is gaining.
"When asked why this decision has been made, the Cabinet replied that its decision is based on geographics, and that it has taken the statistics into account. This decision was made without the public's consent."
Leader Times Newspapers understands the proposed changes have proved very unpopular with staff, many of whom have lost hours, while also having to 'swap' their place of work.
Due to the backlash made by the staff, a new proposition has been put forward, where the staff of Nelson and Colne have three options to choose from, having to have their votes sent in by May 8th.
The concerned resident added: "This is abhorrent behaviour by a Cabinet that is alleged to have the public's best interest at heart. The public has a right to know what information the Cabinet is withholding from them to make a decision without their proper consent. Exactly what is the Cabinet’s hidden agenda here?"
Steve Lloyd, libraries, museums, culture and registration services manager for Lancashire County Council, said: "The county council's cabinet has agreed a proposal to change library opening hours across the county which overall will mean that libraries are open for more hours in total than at present, while also allowing the service to make a saving due to staff working more consistent hours.
"Each library has been allocated to one of four different bands, with each district having a Band-A library which will be open for 50 hours a week, which in Pendle will be Colne Library. Nelson Library will be a Band-B library which will be open for 42 hours a week.
"The original proposals were changed following feedback received during the public consultation, which means that both Colne and Nelson libraries will now be open all day on Saturdays.
"The changes to opening hours will mean making some changes to staffing, and we are currently considering feedback received from library staff during a separate consultation with them about how to implement these changes.
"We know how much people value the activities and events which libraries offer and the new opening hours should not result in any significant changes to these programmes."