CAMPAIGNERS are considering taking council leaders to judicial review in their fight to protect five libraries under the threat of closure.

Friends of the Cobbett Road Library are preparing to launch a landmark appeal against Southampton City Council's decision to stop running five libraries and a mobile library.

The shock bid - which is yet to be fully tabled - would follow in the footsteps of community organisations elsewhere in the country who have gone to the courts to try and overturn their respective council's decisions to axe libraries.

But campaigners face an uphill battle to raise thousands of pounds of legal costs and ensure they have enough time to successfully have their case heard ahead of the council;s looming deadline for closures.

As previously reported a long-term review into the futures of Cobbett Road, Millbrook, Thornhill, Weston, Burgess Road and the mobile libraries was launched more than a year ago.

Plans were approved by Labour civic chiefs to stop running all of the facilities by April when community groups are invited to take the five buildings on.

The plans could save the council £286,000 a year, but cost six jobs.

It has proven controversial with opponents fearing groups will not be able to realistically run libraries forcing their closure.

Council communities leader Councillor Satvir Kaur said seven groups have expressed interest in running them with at least one wanting to run more than one library.

But she is unable to disclose who they are as dealings are at a confidential stage.

Independent councillor Andrew Pope is spearheading the Save Our Libraries campaign.

Cobbett Road campaigners are inviting Burgess Road Library protesters to join them and are urging friends of the other libraries to support them.

He accuses the council of failing to follow "due process" and failing to listen to a consultation contributed to by more than 7,000 residents.

He said: "We have agreed as a group of campaigners from across the city to seek further legal advice on a judicial review. We have received assurances we have grounds for a judicial review. It is unacceptable to be cutting libraries, especially in poorer areas where people need libraries and for a Labour council to put libraries at risk."

A timetable of when and how the bid will be launched has yet to be decided but Cllr Pope anticipates a "lengthy process".

He plans to fund the appeal through crowdfunding or applying through legal aid which groups in Somerset and Lincolnshire have successfully used, adding: "We didn't want to go down this route. We tried to do everything we could behind the scenes and they should have listened to us."

Tomorrow some Cobbett Road members will meet with Cllr Kaur and council leader Cllr Simon Letts in a last ditch attempt to urge the council to keep the libraries.

Group member Ann MacGillivray fears if groups running the libraries default on their leases the building could be taken over by property developers and lost to the community.

She said: "We don't want them to be taken over. We want them to be managed by the council on behalf of the community because they are community assets."

But Cllr Letts accused Cllr Pope of being a "fantasist" saying judicial reviews cost around £10,000.

He added: "The only way a judge can overturn a decision is if they think we have broken the law. Our process was watertight and we took advice from lawyers. If people want to give him money to burn they won't be getting it back."