AN award-winning author has told how he has been left “horrified” by proposals to cut library services in East Renfrewshire.

Peter May spoke out after the Barrhead News revealed council chiefs are considering a series of cutbacks to plug a £30million budget black hole over the next three years.

A consultation document has warned that funding could be withdrawn from school libraries, with public libraries also under threat.

Mr May, whose novels have sold millions of copies around the world, was educated in East Renfrewshire and says his love of books was nurtured in a school library as a child.

He told the Barrhead News: “I benefited enormously from having a vibrant and well-managed school library.

“I abhor this threat to the future education of our kids.

“I would urge people in East Renfrewshire to make their feelings known through the public consultation.

“People don’t go out on the streets for libraries but they should.”

East Renfrewshire Council has warned that the savings needed over the next three years will have a major impact on frontline services, with as many as 550 jobs at risk.

Among the other money-saving proposals being considered are plans to cut bin collections and increase burial charges.

Mr May, whose best-selling novels include the Lewis trilogy, believes libraries are a soft target for cuts because politicians know there won’t be the same level of objection.

“Libraries – particularly school libraries – are the foundation of learning,” said the former Eastwood High pupil. “If you take away the school library, then the chances are children will not get into books.

“Unless they are exposed to the joys of reading at school, it is a failure of the education system.”

Mr May, 70, also fears a lack of access to libraries would lead to a dumbing down of educational standards.

“You can see that in recent figures,” said the author, who now lives in the south-west of France. “A third of children are not attaining basic levels of literacy.

“I find that shocking for a country that used to be a world leader in education.”

Council chiefs have said “a range of difficult decisions will need to be made, including considering cutting services and jobs,” in a bid to plug the gap in their budget.

A spokesperson added: “Like all councils, we are facing unprecedented financial challenges in the years ahead.

“All savings proposals put forward at this stage are options and councillors will not set the final budget until March 2023.”