A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save a Westcliff library after Southend City Council earmarked its closure as part of “heart breaking” cost-savaging measures.
Southend Council’s plan to tackle a £14million deficit in its 2024/5 budget is to close two of the city’s libraries, with a projected savings of £200,000.
If agreed, the proposal will mean that three of the City’s four remaining libraries will also have to reduce opening hours by one day a week. The Forum will maintain a six day a week service.
Southend Labour councillor Lydia Hyde says Kent Elms Library is one of those libraries which has been put at risk by the council, a move she is “staunchly opposing” and has since launched a campaign to save the “critical” service.
There are also plans to close another library, with reduced operating hours for three of the four remaining services.
Coun Hyde, representing St Laurence Ward, said: “It’s devastating to think that this library is currently being assessed as potentially one of the two libraries to close under Tory cuts in Southend.
“As well as providing the traditional book loan services, this library also is the hub for the ‘home library service’, provides computing access, acts as a ‘warm hub’, and more.
“The staff and volunteers are amazing.
“It is critical to the Eastwood community, especially for the local children who attend the neighbouring schools, and the many older people who this library forms an important part of their leisure and social routines.”
The green party have also launched a petition opposing the library closures, stating that libraries are “one of the last remaining spaces whereby there is absolutely no expectation for people to spend money.”
Coun Tony Cox, Tory leader of the council, who has previously described the tough new proposals as “heart breaking” commented: “These challenges come as we face a forecasted overspend in this financial year and a rising budget gaps in the years ahead.
“We have been and continue to take action to mitigate these pressures within the year as best we can, and the forecast overspend is reducing thanks to this strong action.”
Pictures: Coun Hye & Kent Elms library is under threat.
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