CAMPAIGNERS keen to see Swindon’s libraries remain under the control of the council have ramped up their efforts to make their voices heard.

On Thursday, chairman of the Save Swindon Libraries campaign Sarah Church presented a petition containing more than 2,000 signatures from people opposed to cuts that could see the libraries fall into volunteer hands to councillor Jim Grant at the Civic Offices.

The petition was presented prior to a meeting to discuss their concerns and comes ahead of the campaign group’s first public meeting on Sunday, which will welcome three popular authors – including two Dr Who writers.

The campaign has arisen after it was revealed in February that the library budget is set to be slashed by almost 60 per cent, with £1.5 million needing to be saved. As a result, a consultation has begun on proposals which could eventually see all of the town’s 15 facilities run by volunteers with the exception of the central library.

If people cannot be found by 2020 to take over the running then a number could close down.

Eager to prevent this from happening the Save Swindon Libraries group has presented a united front to speak for all of the threatened libraries around the town.

Sarah revealed that they had managed to secure a debate at the upcoming council meeting on Thursday on the matter.

She added that having more than 2,000 people on the petition showed there was a strong sense of support for the libraries from across the town.

“Certainly everyone we have spoken to is absolutely united that libraries are needed, they reduce deprivation and loneliness – everyone we have spoken to has really good reasons for keeping them open," said Sarah.

“Often when we stop people in the streets to tell them about the campaign they stop and say, wait – we need the libraries. They cannot believe it.”

On Sunday the group will host a public meeting to discuss the issue, which will be held at Christ Church Community Centre from 2pm.

Among the guests at the event will be author Jake Arnott, who said he was a passionate advocate for libraries.

"Throughout our history the library has proved to be the most effective and resilient memory system for our culture and civilisation," he said.

"The public library creates a collective consciousness. Any attack on it simply adds to a social dementia.”

Also speaking at the event will be Dr Who writer Paul Cornell and Alan Gibbons. Besides the literary speakers, the organisers have planned poetry, music, books, toys, and refreshments. There will also be the opportunity to win some raffle prizes including a family ticket to The Story Museum in Oxford, and signed copies of the authors’ works.

Speaking on Thursday at the presentation of the petition Shirley Burnham said: “The first time I stood outside the Civic Offices for the same purpose was eight years ago. It’s astonishing to me that even after eight years the council is still advocating the destruction of its superb library service.

"This petition asks them to value what we have and think again – for the sake of the town and all its residents.”