A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save a vital library after a “devastating” decision to earmark it for closure.
In Southend Council’s plan to tackle a £14million budget deficit - which could rise to almost £30,000 in coming years - two of the city’s libraries could close to save £200,000.
If agreed, the proposal will mean that three of the four remaining libraries will also have reduce opening hours by one day a week.
Southend Labour councillor Lydia Hyde says Kent Elms Library is one of those which has been put at risk by the council.
She has 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 libraries.
Ms Hyde 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 wide-ranging Southend Council cuts for 2024/25 will save the council around £1.4 million, a spending review expected to save a further £10 million.
Ms Hyde said she will be “will be staunchly opposing this closure,” and “will be forming a campaign to stop its closure.”
Southend Council is faced with a £14 million budget deficit with the library closures expected to save £200,000, the new operating hours for Southend libraries being reduced by one day for the three of four surviving libraries.
The Forum, Southend’s central library, will maintain a six-day a week service.
Resistance to library cuts has been strong in Southend, with the Southeast Essex Green Party launching a petition opposing the library closures, raising concerns that libraries are “one of the last remaining spaces whereby there is absolutely no expectation for people to spend money.”
Criticism has also come from Age Concern Southend, who have offered up space to accommodate the lost libraries for residents.
Tony Cox, leader of the council said, : “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.”