CAMPAIGNS to save Southend’s libraries are gaining momentum with residents coming forward to fight for services at four branches.

Facebook group “Stand up for Southend Libraries”, set up after Southend Council announced proposals to shut all but two of the branch libraries unless the public stepped in to run them, has more than 300 members.

And groups have started campaigns to save Leigh, Kent Elms, Westcliff and Southchurch libraries.

Peter Passingham, assistant secretary for the Southend Unison’s local government branch, who set up the Facebook group, said: “We are trying to pool everyone who is passionate about libraries together so that if we are going to lobby councillors or organise petitions to oppose the proposals it will be a unified response.

“We want to make sure all the residents and library users are pulling in the same direction.

“One person by themself might feel they can’t do much but if we unite together we have a stronger voice that the council cannot ignore.”

The council announced proposals to withdraw staff from Westcliff, Southchurch, Thorpedene, Friars and either Leigh or Kent Elms libraries in a bid to save £338,000 last month, leaving just two fully-staffed “hubs” in the east and west of the borough.

Either Leigh or Kent Elms would be the western hub, with the other closing unless the community stepped forward to run it and an eastern hub would operate in Delaware Road.

Leigh Town Council and a group called Save Leigh Library have started campaigns, with the second’s Facebook group gaining more than 230 members.

But now the Friends of Kent Elms Library has set up the Facebook group Support Kent Elms Library.

To contact Unison, call 01702 215980 or e-mail unison@southend.