CALLS have been made for Leigh residents to step in and raise the cash to save the town’s library.

Opposition councillors Ron Woodley and Stephen Aylen called on the town council to raise its own council tax precept to keep the iconic building open, so the borough council can fund Kent Elms library instead.

Either Leigh or Kent Elms libraries are likely to lose their professional staff as part of Southend Council plans to save £378,000.

Mr Woodley said: “Why should Leigh library stay open, with funds from the rest of the residents of Southend, and us close Kent Elms when the town council have the ability to raise funds?

“They get a big portion of funding and if they want to keep it open why don’t they put their money where their mouth is?

“What’s the point of having a council if they don’t do that sort of thing?”

Mr Aylen said: “A third of my residents pay an extra Leigh Town Council council tax. Why can’t the council, who are very good at saving things and putting things on, do something for my residents to save Leigh Library?”

Town council chairman Caroline Parker made a presentation to the borough council at last week’s full council meeting, after a protest march against their possible closure.

She dismissed the new idea, saying the borough councillors did not understand how her funds worked.

She said: “How many hundreds of thousands in precept would be needed to cover running a library - let alone anything else?

“They don’t really know about our funding: our transport and highways is £15,000 a year and £4,000 of that is for school crossing so we’re left with £11,000.

“This shows how our budgets are very tightly run so it’s a ridiculous suggestion.”

She added: “Leigh Town Council doesn’t want any library to close at the expense of Leigh we think they should all remain open.”

Town council vice-chairman Paul Lawrence added: “I don’t think we should increase our precept for it – only part of Leigh pays the precept, and people visit the library from all over Leigh, in areas where their council tax goes to Southend.”

Derek Jarvis, Southend's member for culture and tourism said he couldn’t comment on the plan as papers would soon be filed detailing what cabinet’s library plans will be, following their public consultation.