MORE than 260 people have signed a petition launched by campaigners hoping to save Blackfield library from closure.
As previously reported, Hampshire County Council is considering axing 10 libraries in the county as it looks at ways to save £1.76m by 2021. This is part of an overall £80m savings target.
The number of lending branches could drop from 48 to 38, with Blackfield and Lyndhurst libraries among those at risk, and the remaining ones seeing a 15% reduction in their opening hours as part of a restructure of the service.
The Save Blackfield Library Campaign, which was formed by residents, gathered 235 signatures in just one week.
Campaigner Helen Fields told the A&T: “It went well. We would have got more signatures if the weather had been better.
“But we have more events planned to raise awareness and to gather signatures before the consultation closes on 18th March.”
The petition states: “Blackfield’s library is the last remaining community building in the area and is a vital resource in a community where so many children and older people live.
“It supports reading and study, provides a quiet place to work, as well as offering computer access to those who may not otherwise have it.
“If this library were to close, it would be lost forever, and anyone wanting to use the library would have to pay to travel to Hythe instead. It is worth far more to residents open than closing it would ever save.”
The group also set up a stall outside the library on Saturday and despite the wet weather, gathered a further 30 signatures.
Milford library is also under threat as, under HCC’s plans, council assistance for community-run branches would end completely.
A final decision on the proposal is expected to be made in the summer followed by a further consultation on opening hours. Changes would be implemented this autumn.
An alternative proposed by the county council is for all its libraries to remain open, but with a 25% reduction in their opening hours.
To comment, go to www.hants.gov.uk/library-consultation.
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