MORE than 800 people have signed a petition calling for one of Hampshire's closure-threatened libraries to be saved from the axe.

The county council is proposing to shut ten of the 48 lending facilities it runs, including Blackfield and Lyndhurst, in a bid to cut the library service budget by £1.76m.

Also under threat is Milford on Sea's community library, which could lose county council support.

Now campaigners battling to save Blackfield library have handed an 802-signature petition to Alexis McEvoy, the Conservative county councillor for the area.

Daily Echo:

Cllr McEvoy said: "We're living in difficult financial times but maybe some money is being spent on facilities in the more well-funded libraries that could be better used to keep open libraries in more deprived areas.

"I would urge the county council to find the £22,000 needed to keep Blackfield library open."

In a statement the Save Blackfield Library Campaign group said the number of signatures illustrated the strength of feeling against the potential loss of the library.

It added: "Blackfield used to have a proper, fully-functioning community centre built on land donated by the Drummond family. This housed the library, several function rooms and a cafe.

"This facility was well-used and provided a central 'focus' where people came together.

"The building was allowed to fall into disrepair and was then closed and demolished. The library was re-housed but the 'community centre' resource was lost.

"Now the county council wants to take our last remaining community resource from the village."

Referring to the deprivation that existed in Blackfield the statement added: "Cutting this resource will further deprive these areas and mean that yet again the most vulnerable in our community will be hardest hit.

"It would cost a parent, with children, around £20 to visit Hythe library by bus. This is completely beyond the means of our poorer residents.

Daily Echo:

"We must keep this resource available for our children and older residents and put more effort into encouraging them to use it."

More than 20,000 people took part in the county council's ten-week public consultation, which has now ended.

Cllr Sean Woodward, the council's executive member for recreation and heritage, said: "We remain absolutely committed to providing a high-quality library service, fit for the future, that responds to a new generation of library customers.

"The right thing to do is focus the resources we have on where they will be of most benefit.”