WORRIED residents have launched a series of petitions in a bid to save a library which is “cherished in the community”.

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.

Residents and councillors fear that Southchurch Library, in Lifstan Way, could be on the chopping block under the plans.

A series of online petitions have been created, as well as a physical petition which has been placed in the library for residents to sign.

Kerry Phillips, 40, said: “Our community cherishes the Southchurch library. It is not just a place to borrow books, it is a hub of knowledge and learning that serves all ages. We rely upon its services for children’s story times, adult literacy programs, and as a quiet haven for local people.

“In recent years, libraries across the country have faced significant budget cuts. According to The Guardian, more than 800 libraries have closed since 2010 due to funding reductions. This trend threatens our beloved local institution and we cannot stand by while this happens.

“The closure of our library would not only deprive us of access to books but also cut off vital community services such as free internet access which many residents depend on for job applications or homework assignments.

“We believe in the power of public libraries as essential resources for education and community building.”

Richard Longstaff, Green Party councillor representing Leigh, has also backed the petition.

He said: “They are more than just libraries. They are hubs and places of social engagement in a safe space away from home where people can sit in peace and read and seek peace and solitude.

“People have been inspired by libraries and people remember that they can be transformational, they should be qualitative and not quantitative, they aren’t commercial.”

Tory council leader, Tony Cox, said: “There isn’t an update on library closures, All I can say is we are at a consultation once we have taken all into account we can decide, this consultation will be done in time for the budget.”

Visit change.org/p/preserve-our-beloved-southchurch-library.