Money-saving measures to cut the hours people can access records in Norfolk's archives have been branded "disastrous" by critics.

Norfolk County Council wants to change the opening hours of Norfolk Record Office (NRO) - where the county's archives are held - and to introduce a booking system.

The proposals, to save £57,000, are part of the £42m of cuts and savings the Conservative-controlled council earmarked earlier this year.

People can currently turn up at the County Hall-based NRO between 9.30am to 5pm on Tuesdays to Thursdays to investigate the 10 million records held, ranging from 11th cenutry vellum documents to parish registers, beloved of family tree researchers.

Eastern Daily Press: Millions of documents are stored in Norfolk Record OfficeMillions of documents are stored in Norfolk Record Office (Image: Newsquest)

On Fridays, there is reduced opening, from 10am to 4pm and people have to request documents in advance.

Under the council's proposals, Thursdays would have the same reduced hours as Fridays, with people having to request documents before visiting.

The council, which says the changes will reduce the opening hours from 28.5 hours a week to 27, also wants to bring in a booking system.

Public consultation has taken place and the results were discussed by the Norfolk Records Committee on Friday.

There were 232 responses, of which 100 people said they never used the record office.

The majority  - 56.9pc - agreed or strongly agreed with the change in opening hours, while 48.3pc agreed or strongly agreed with the booking system introduction.

But there was strong criticism, with some fearing the knock-on effect will be the loss of expert staff.

One said: "This, no doubt, will lead to future records being lost as staff are unable to rescue, collect and advise other areas of local government with their historical archives and records that should be deposited with or transferred to the NRO."

Another said: "For a county so rich in history and heritage this is a disastrous, short-sighted and damaging strategy of 'death by a thousand cuts' and must stop now."

READ MORE: Norfolk records under threat from digital obsolence

Among those who supported the proposal was one respondent who said: "This seems like a reasonable place to cut costs given underfunding from the government."

Another said: "It seems sensible to have appointments and for the loss of very few hours it’s a substantial saving."

A final decision will be made by cabinet later this year.