FAMILIES, pensioners, students and the unemployed – people from all walks of life - backed a campaign to save the libraries they rely on.

In total, 275 people signed a petition to save Southend’s branch libraries at a lively information event outside Westcliff Library.

A steady stream of people stopped to hear about Southend Council’s proposals which could see some branch libraries closed unless community groups step in to run them.

Four volunteers from Westborough Community Association and the ward’s three councillors explained the need to save the libraries from the cost-cutting measure.

Their reasons for needing the branch were different – students did homework there, unemployed people who searched for jobs on its computers and pensioners who would be unable to travel to the new Forum library being built in the town centre or a proposed “hub” library in Leigh or Eastwood.

They immediately signed the petition and took away flyers with information about the council’s consultation and contact details for councillors.

Julie Farrow, 59, of Tintern Avenue, Westcliff, who is the association’s membership secretary, said: “It has been very, very positive.

“Some people are a bit shocked and a lot of people are very worried. There is slight disbelief the council could close it.”

In total more than 500 people have signed the petition, which is organised by Unison.

The union is distributing the forms, which called for all the borough’s libraries to be kept open and fully staffed, to groups campaigning for individual libraries to be saved, so branches are working together rather than being pitched against each other.

More than 360 people have joined the Facebook group Stand up for Southend Libraries, which Mr Passingham set up to co-ordinate the campaigns.

To get a petition form or for more information email standup4libs@yahoo.com or call 01702 215980.