A CLAIM by a union official that school libraries across East Lothian are being targeted as part of council budget cuts has been denied by the local authority.

East Lothian Council is adamant that school libraries are not being affected by the cuts, which they said would only impact on public libraries.

Unison’s regional officer Jon Hackett said that all six secondary schools in the county have seen changes to staff jobs and hours implemented as part of an ongoing council effort to save money.

The claim comes just days after it was revealed public libraries across the county have had their hours cut in a decision taken while the council was in recess.

Though East Lothian Council has denied that there have been any changes to libraries within the schools, Unison insists that cuts are being made with no consultation of staff.

Spokesman Jon Hackett said many people working in the education side of the school libraries were being downgraded to the customer service teams, describing it as a “loss of skills”.

He said: “We are definitely seeing a proposal for our library staff to lose hours and downgrade posts.

“It also includes school libraries, with aspects of the education jobs recently being moved to customer service teams without consultation with their staff.

“It is a loss of a skill which is being cut as the big focus is on self service.

“If that money was being diverted to other skill activities with children it would be hard to say no, but it is not, it is just being taken away from the departments.” Seventeen hours have been cut from opening times at seven public libraries, in a decision made without consultation, across the county.

Councillor Stuart Currie (pictured), leader of the council’s opposition SNP Group, said that the lack of discussion about the cuts was unacceptable.

He said: “All these changes are not being driven by what is in the best interest of the library services or the people of East Lothian, they are being driven by a need to make cuts.

“I do not buy this attitude that it does not matter who runs the libraries – it does make a difference to have skilled librarians.

“If it is affecting schools it should be put before the [council’s] education committee for discussion.

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “Staff are being fully consulted on all aspects of the service review and where there are changes to existing posts, staff are given a choice of posts.

“This review does not impact on the school library service.”