Two libraries in West Barnes and Colliers Wood will have their opening times cut to four days a week next year under money-saving proposals announced this week.

On Monday, Merton Council’s cabinet decided to close West Barnes library on Mondays and Donald Hope library on Fridays, but extending opening times by an hour on other days when they usually close during lunchtime.

The decision will mean each library will be open for four-and-a-half less hours a week less than at present.

Councillor Martin Whelton, the cabinet member in charge of libraries, said cutting back the library’s opening hours was a “hard decision” but was necessary because of budget cuts handed down from Westminster.

But Aaron Wood, who lives in Colliers Wood, told Coun Whelton in a letter: “I despair that on the one hand you say you were not closing the library, but of course you are reducing its use massively.

“I despair that you clearly had this planned despite the petitions, and yet still took the weak and lazy option.

"You clearly knew that cuts were to come, and yet your administration did not choose to restructure."

Responding to Mr Wood, Councillor Martin Whelton said: “As part of the changes, we're actually undertaking a restructure of the library service.

"Like any council we're having to make savings and change the way we work.

“I don't think I can really be accused of betraying Merton when, at the end of the day, it will result in a library service with longer hours overall in the borough.”

Councillor Samantha George, the Conservative’s leisure spokesperson, said the estimated savings of closing the two libraries for one more day would save a total of between 15,000 and 20,000 a year.

Coun George said: “This is just the thin end of the wedge and I do think there is a long-term threat to these libraries.

“When we were in power, we invested in self-service technology at libraries, which would mean keeping libraries open for longer, but without the need to have a librarian working the entire time.”

Public meetings relating to the extra day closures at West Barnes and Donald Hope libraries will take place early in the New Year.

A Facebook campaign has been set up to Save West Barnes Library and can be accessed at

The changes are due to come into effect in April 2011.

What do you think about the library cuts? Leave a comment below or send us a letter by emailing