A STORM of protest is mounting over “vile” plans to reduce the number of public libraries across the region.

Cuts forced on the local authorities by the coalition Government’s austerity drive have thrown the future of library services into doubt.

Yesterday, North Yorkshire County Council announced it was looking at reducing its 42 libraries to 18 to save £2m over four years.

Ten mobile libraries, and one “super-mobile” equipped with internet technology, would be reduced to twosuper- mobiles.

The announcement follows the news earlier this month that similar services across Darlington could be cut by up to 25 per cent.

The Northern Echo understands that Durham County Council is also looking to make savings from its library budget.

Last night, North Yorkshire’s proposal was greeted with anger by authors and community leaders.

Best-selling writer GP Taylor, who comes from the county and is best known for his Shadowmancer series, described the plans as “vile”, adding: “This will come back to bite them – they should be ashamed of themselves.

“Yes, they may save a few pounds in the short-term, but in the long-term it will diminish people’s quality of life.”

Annie Mauger, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said she understood that local authorities were facing tough times, but said: “In such times, communities need their libraries more than ever. People need shared spaces, places to find information and support, to borrow books, to relax and escape.”

Independent councillor John Blackie described the planned cuts as “draconian”

and said young families and elderly people would suffer.

Remote areas such as Leyburn and Masham face losing out, while more populated areas would retain their services.

Council bosses say no decisions have been made yet and they hope to transfer some branches into the hands of volunteers.

Community-run libraries already exist in Hawes, in Upper Wensleydale, and Hudswell, near Richmond.

A consultation scheme has been launched.

Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for adult and community services, said: “We are convinced that an essential element of maintaining a high-quality service is to provide staffed libraries in those key towns with the best transport links.”

The proposals are part of a plan to save £20m from the authority’s adult and community services budget between now and 2015.

Other potential savings are likely be found by closing homes for elderly people, with centres in Bedale and Thirsk among those that will come under scrutiny.

Corporate director Derek Law said: “The first priority has to be the protection of the most vulnerable. Is it possible to protect the same number of vulnerable adults and children for less money?

“The honest answer is probably not, but we can minimise the impact.”