PETITIONERS say Hertsmere is the biggest loser in a wave of library cuts by Hertfordshire County Council.

Borehamwood Library, in Elstree Way, will suffer a 40 per cent reduction in its opening times as part of a savings package agreed by County Hall on Monday.

The service will be shut to users on Fridays, closed on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and only open as late as 7pm on any evening.

The changes are expected to be introduced in July, after the council has performed a staffing review, which could lead to redundancies.

Out of the ten boroughs in Hertfordshire, Hertsmere polled second as having the most hours slashed - a total of 88. However, this is spread over fewer libraries compared to North Hertfordshire, which received a cut of 90 hours.

School librarian Louise Aldridge, 51, of Cardinal Avenue, has been petitioning with Graham Taylor, chair of governors at Hertswood School, to save the Borehamwood service from such severe reductions.

She said: “What is most upsetting is that there is no guarantee this is not the first of many cuts to happen.

“I worry that usage will drop, which will provide the figures for the council to be able to say it is not being used - allowing them to close it completely.”

Executive member for community safety and culture, Councillor Keith Emsall (Conservative, Letchworth South) said that he did not believe it was a case of a death of a thousand cuts.

However, he did say that the Borehamwood service had ranked lowest in its category as a large library for issues and visits in 2010.

Cllr Emsall said: “To claim that it is an exceptionally used library and we are penalising people unfairly by reducing it is not correct.”

The county councillor said that every library in Hertfordshire had been categorised into different groups, which had determined how their hours would be cut.

He said that if a borough contained more Hub Libraries, prioritised to stay open as they provide support to surrounding services, and small libraries, which received less cuts as they are often only open for afternoons, that the reductions could seem skewed.

Asked whether applying a blanket rule was right, Cllr Emsall said: “It has been as fair as we could make it. The thing that people really need to bare in mind is that unlike many other authorities we are not closing any libraries.

“If and when times get better we can restore the opening hours, whereas the people who are busy closing libraries - I don't think those will ever re-open frankly.”

The county council claim that other local considerations were also taken into account, including market days, bus timetables, and the views of 7000 respondents to a public consultation.

Petitioner Mrs Aldridge said she was disappointed with the consultation, viewing it as simply a box ticking exercise.

She said: “I don't feel like it was a genuine activity. They were just laying out what they wanted to do.”

The mother of two also asked why Hertsmere councillors had not fought the county authority on behalf of their constituents.

She said: “I would be embarrassed if I was a councillor in Hertsmere because we have been the biggest losers in these cuts. They haven't fought the corner of the people they represent.”

Hertfordshire County Council hope the changes in opening hours will save £1.4 million a year, and a reduced mobile library service £275,000 per annum.