SWINGEING cuts to Worcestershire's mobile library service have been confirmed - with 153 stops being axed across the county.

Worcestershire County Council has revealed savage cuts to the service, with critics labelling the changes "an attack" on the over 55s.

Your Worcester News can reveal:

- From Sunday, February 1 the number of mobile library stops will reduce from 420 to 267, a 38 per cent reduction

- Instead of every three weeks, the mobile bus will visit each area once every four or five weeks

- 48 towns and villages will no longer get any mobile library service at all including the likes of Worcester, Norton, Upton, Whittington, Welland in Malvern, Westlands in Droitwich and both Charlton and Wick in Evesham

- The existing four vehicles are being reduced to one

The changes, which will save £100,000 a year, come despite a lengthy council consultation revealing 65 per cent of users are aged over 55, and 41 per cent said they would not use the library service at all if their stop was cut.

The vehicles currently stop for 15 minutes in each location for people to drop off and collect books, and a high proportion of customers are pensioners or without a car.

During the consultation the authority said it intended to delete any mobile stops within three miles of a stationary library, and it has largely followed through on that.

The service is used by more than 1,200 customers a year.

The council says 175 villages will still continue to get a mobile library service from next month, but has come under fire for what critics are calling a "disaster".

Councillor Chris Bloore, from the county council's Labour group, said: "The vulnerable and elderly in our county are being asked to bear the brunt of further massive cuts to this county's library service.

"This council has been caught red handed cutting a valued service to the bone - it will have a stark and negative effect.

"The worry for me and many of my colleagues is that we know that for many people this is an important link to the outside world and offers them a social experience as well as providing them access to books and educational services."

Pensioner Brian Tilley, 71, of Norton, near Worcester, said: "We are basically paying the same or higher council tax for a worse service, it's disgusting."

The council's leadership insists it is beefing up its 'at home' library service, including recruiting 40 volunteers, so people who are unable to reach the new bus can get books dropped off at their home, giving everyone some kind of access.

On top of that, around 40 stops which were deemed ‘at risk’ during the consultation have been saved, including Pinvin, Castlemorton, Upper Broadheath, Keepers Close in Hanley Swan and Hallow.

The new vehicle is also being fitted with Wi-Fi and meeting room space.

Investigations are also taking place with a view to increasing the number of ‘community collection points’ – where books are left in specific locations for people to pick-up outside of county libraries – from the current 200 to around 224.

Conservative Councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for localism and communities said: "We had a really good response from our customers to our consultation and everyone's responses have been carefully considered in the decision making process.

"It is unfortunate, but in order for us to continue to meet the financial challenges we are faced with we do have to make changes to both the mobile library service and the library service at home.

“We can however confirm that by combining a range of delivery options and location stops everyone who currently receives a service will continue to do so, it just might be delivered in a way which is different to the way it is currently provided.”

The Conservative leadership is looking to save around £25 million a year due to unprecedented reductions in central Government funding and demographic pressures.