Voters in Aldbourne are to be asked whether they are willing to pay an extra £7 a year to keep the village library open at its present hours.

The parish council agreed on Wednesday last week to hold the referendum to decide if it should raise its annual precept by £5,400 to save the library from cuts, which equates to around £7 on individual council tax bills.

Wiltshire Council is proposing to halve the hours of the Aldbourne librarian Trish Rushen, from ten hours a week to five although it has suggested that volunteers could be found to keep the library open as it is now.

More than 100 villagers packed the Memorial Hall on February 17 and told Coun John Thomson, Wiltshire Council’s portfolio holder for libraries, and chief librarian Joan Davis that they did not want to see the hours cut.

At that meeting it was suggested that the reduction in the librarian’s hours could be made up by £5,000 raised through the Aldbourne parish precept.

Last week the parish council agreed in principle that it could raise this money as long as Wiltshire Council continued to employ the librarian.

Chairman Chris Humphries, who is also the area’s representative on Wiltshire Council, said: “It was felt that was only right that if we had to commit ourselves to finding this sort of money, about £7 on a Band D property, that we should go to the village and seek their support.”

The referendum will take place on Sunday March 27 from 10am to 6pm at Number 1 Smithfield House in the Square (next to the telephone box) and will have independent tellers from Ramsbury and Baydon parish councils.

Voters have to be on the electoral roll and postal votes can be sent to the clerk, Mrs K Clay, at 3 Skinners Close, Hannington, Swindon SN6 7RR or e mailed to to reach her before March 27.