THEY are best known for taking swings at high-ranking British politicians on their prime time satirical television programme.

Now political animals Bremner, Bird and Fortune have set their sights on a target a little closer to home - Southampton's own administration.

The Daily Echo can reveal that the three political heavyweights are the latest voices to join the campaign to save Cobbett Road Library in Bitterne Park, earmarked for closure in the council's draft budget report.

The council says that closing the library could save £50,000 a year.

Now in a letter to Steve Sollitt, the city council's culture chief, Mr Bird, on behalf of Rory Bremner and John Fortune, said that libraries "should be the last things to be cut, not the first."

He explained that his two-year-old grandson lives in Bitterne Park and is a regular user of the 1930s art deco-style library. He said: "Although none of us are resident in Southampton, all three of us feel strongly about the value of the public library system.

Easily accessible "Provision of good, easily accessible libraries is one of the most valuable things a local authority does and when times are tight they should be the last thing to be cut not the first."

In a final swing at Southampton's civic leaders, Bremner, Bird and Fortune also took a pop at the proposed Southampton Laser Gateway, saying that keeping the library "would do more for the image of Southampton than any number of laser displays."

Bitterne Park ward councillor Phil Williams added: "John's family is one of thousands which benefits from the library. I hope the council will take this opportunity to reconsider their position rather than proceeding with the closure process."

A Southampton City Council spokesman said: "The library has been identified as it would still enable the council to meet government standards that require local authorities to provide a library within one mile of a significant proportion of residents."

Councillors are due to meet on Wednesday to set the budget. A final decision will be made on March 19, following public consultation.