A PETITION has been launched in a bid to save a closure-threatened library in Southampton.

Community campaigners are calling on city council leaders to halt a review of the future of Cobbett Road Library.

It is one of five facilities under threat of closing as part of the review, launched by Labour council bosses earlier this year.

They have put forward plans for community groups to take over at the Cobbett Road, Millbrook, Burgess Road, Weston and Thornhill libraries, and axe the mobile library service.

City finance boss Cllr Stephen Barnes-Andrews says that the council is not looking to close libraries but instead for community groups to take over.

Labour council leaders say they are faced with tough choices every year as the authority faces cuts in Government funding.

Daily Echo: Cobbett Road Library

Plans to close a care home, respite centre and day services for adults with learning disabilities were recently approved, along with the loss of 130 jobs.

And 222 more jobs could go if further cut proposals, including a council tax hike of almost two per cent, are rubber-stamped in February.

But there are fears that groups will not be able to run the libraries, and in the review report officers admit that they may shut if community groups do not come forward.

Earlier this year campaigners told the Daily Echo they would fight any plans to close the popular Cobbett Road facility, with nine-year-old Rose Hickman leading an impassioned deputation to a council meeting and urging Labour to think again.

And TV naturalist Chris Packham, who used the library as a youngster, called on the council to halt any plans to close it, saying he was “disappointed” with the proposals.

The group behind the online petition, which has so far attracted almost 200 signatures and will be presented to council leaders next year, say Cobbett Road has been “the heart of Bitterne Park and the surrounding area's community for 75 years”.

They add that it is a “thriving” facility hosting more than 20 community groups and other events, adding that “we need to safeguard such treasures for future generations, as generations before us have”.

Kevin Lancashire, chairman of the Friends of Cobbett Road Library, said: “The groundswell of public opinion is very strong and I think they will have to take notice of the petition.

“They are the custodians of public assets like the libraries, and they are basically getting rid of them, which is not good.

“We have had support from across the board, not just Bitterne Park but Peartree, Bitterne, Swaythling, St Denys and Portswood.

“We want to keep it within the public domain and if it is closed there will be a lot of anger.”

Daily Echo: Kevin Lancashire

Consultation on the library service review ends on March 6.

You can have your say online at southampton.gov.uk or by picking up paper copies at the Civic Centre, the council's Gateway building in Guildhall Square, housing offices and libraries.

To sign the petition, visit the Save Cobbett Road Library page on 38Degrees.