HALTON’S libraries could lose up to £400,000 a year as the council strives to make £46 million of savings following Government cutbacks over the next three years.

Councillors have vowed to keep all four libraries open.

Proposals have been drawn up following an in depth review of the service.

It costs £2 million a year to run libraries in Halton Lea, Runcorn, Widnes and Ditton. More than £750,000 has been invested in them since 2010.

A new replacement Runcorn library cost £600,000.

A new management system, self-service desks, wi-fi provision and other improvements came to £65,000.

The libraries employ two managers, 17 full-time staff and 44 part-timers.

Two suggestions being proposed by the executive board on July 7, recommend reducing opening hours.

Option one is to open libraries for 154 hours a week, maintaining 85 per cent of current hours, saving £400,000.

Runcorn and Ditton would close on Wednesdays.

Option two is to reduce opening hours by almost half to 96 hours, saving £500,000. Runcorn and Ditton libraries would shut on Mondays and Fridays. Widnes and Halton Lea would open longer on Saturdays, from 10am to 4pm.

Halton Clr Phil Harris, board member for libraries, said: “As with all council services, the library service has been subject to an efficiency review to identify savings.

“The resulting proposals aim to ensure that the libraries can meet the needs of the community after any reductions that may be made.

“Consultation is important to ensure that any decisions are informed by the views of users and others and any alternatives that may be proposed.

“All responses to the consultation will be analysed. No decisions will be taken until after all the results have been considered and a report produced for the council to make its decision.”

A questionnaire will be available in all libraries, Direct Links and community centres from July 14 and closes on August 14.