TWO libraries could have their book loan services reduced to just two-and-a-half days per week.

As part of a £250,000 savings exercise for the 2017/2018 financial year, agreed by Torfaen council last March, the library services in Blaenavon and Pontypool will be reduced.

Cwmbran library will also have a reduced service of four days, with all three libraries using self service facilities as part of the proposals.

Members of the scrutiny committee narrowly supported the proposal yesterday, with four members voting in favour of the plans.

Three members supported another option of reducing book loaning services via self-service facilities in all three libraries to three days a week.

The decision will go before the council’s cabinet on Tuesday January 17, which could still see a library close down if members decide not to follow the committee’s recommendations.

During the meeting, members stated they hoped none of the libraries would have to close.

Councillor Brian Mawby said that members had an unenviable task at deciding which part of the library service should be cut.He said: “I don’t think anybody on the council relishes the thought of having to reduce services.

“Particularly services which are valuable for the purposes of learning.

“What we are doing now is trying to find the way of achieving the council’s savings which by default we agreed with – whether you like it or not – we agreed the £250,000 saving. Council has made that decision.

“But what we want to do is to make sure that reduction in budget has the minimal effect on the objectives that we feel that the libraries fulfil within our communities.

“It’s not whether we make the savings, it’s how we make the saving.”

Blaenavon councillors Stuart Evans and Alan Jones raised concernsthat by cutting the services in their ward, and Pontypool, it would continue to perpetuate the ‘myth of the north south divide in Torfaen’.

“When we relocated to the Heritage Centre, it was sold to the general public, i.e. Blaenavon and the areas I just mentioned, that the service would improve them,” said cllr Evans.

“Now we are here a year later and the service is going to be downgraded. I take the point about the north south divide. It’s a myth, we know that, but people out there don’t see it as a myth.

“They see it as a north south divide so I am very concerned about that.”

His view was seconded by cllr Jones.