LIBRARY hours in Faifley, Duntocher and Parkhall are going to be slashed nearly in half – despite one of the biggest-ever responses to a council consultation.

There were more than 1,000 replies to West Dunbartonshire’s survey on new opening hours after council bosses tried to push through radical changes in November.

But officials are continuing the plan for cuts, as well as introducing fees and means testing for pupils renting music instruments.

In a new report to councillors, council officers condemned their employee costs as second highest in Scotland ,while West Dunbartonshire is just middle of the road for physical visits.

The council said it was investing £421,000 in libraries, but has been slammed for including £5,000 for a “portable events bar” for Clydebank Town Hall. The catering contract only brings in £10,000 a year, but the bar is more than 10 years old and officials say a new one “will enhance the venue”.

The bulk of the investment, £181,000, will be for movable shelving, including at Duntocher, Parkhall and Faifley.

But those libraries go from being open 25.5, 30 and 37 hours a week respectively, to just 17.5, 18.5 and 15.5. They are just minor changes to the timetables proposed in November.

Clydebank Library, currently undergoing a major overhaul, will see hours drop from 57 a week to 42.5, and Dalmuir will lose half an hour a week, down to 40 hours.

Pupils will also be means-tested if they hire musical instruments during the year for the first time. The council says it will continue to offer free tuition but plans to charge £85 per pupil per year for instrument hire, servicing and repair.

They insist the council will have the second lowest charges in Scotland and say fees will be introduced from August.

The survey found nearly a third out of 1,001 responses said the proposed timetable was not suitable, so library bosses added 13 hours total across West Dunbartonshire.

Councillor Jim Finn, who sits on the committee and suggested a new Skypoint with a library, said he couldn’t comment ahead of the meeting next week.

Fellow Faifley councillor Lawrence O’Neill blasted the library plans as “horrific”.

He told the Post: “I’m extremely disappointed. I fear for what’s ahead. We are faced with a whole series of requirements to save money, but at what point are we going to say enough is enough?

“You’re taking away 2,000 hours a year in free library time but spending £5,000 on a new mobile bar in Clydebank Town Hall? You’re making a huge cut in provision.

“These seem to be easy targets. Why would you target our poorest?”

He said that libraries are also destinations for the elderly and may be their only contact with fellow residents to combat loneliness and isolation.

Cllr O’Neill added: “Why not spend above the national average? That means we’re doing something right, not something wrong.”

But Malcolm Bennie, strategic lead for communications, culture and communities, said: “These proposals would protect all eight branch libraries in West Dunbartonshire and match opening hours to when our residents use the service the most.

“It would also bring our running costs in line with the rest of Scotland and create the opportunity for much-needed investment in our libraries to make them even more attractive places to visit.

“The consultation on the timetable was one of the largest ever undertaken by the council, and that demonstrates how highly our communities value this service.

“The main finding was that the revised timetable fits with when the majority of residents want to visit their library. We’ve also responded to the feedback by making adaptations to further accommodate as many other residents and groups as possible.

“Introducing modest annual fees for the hire and maintenance of music instruments, some of which can cost as much as £900, would also allow us to protect frontline services in libraries and culture in West Dunbartonshire as much as possible.”