A PETITION calling on Swindon Borough Council to include Park Library within their planned core library provision has now collected more than 800 signatures.

Current proposals would see the Cavendish Square facility closed by the middle of next year unless the community can come up with a way of securing the funds to run, stock and staff it.

The council’s strategy, which is currently undergoing a formal public consultation, could see 15 of the town’s 19 libraries close their doors.

Only Central Library, West Swindon, North Swindon and Highworth will escape the axe however the latter three will see significant reductions in opening times.

The council has made a one-off pot of £500,000 available to assist with community takeover efforts but campaigners argue that the ongoing running costs of some of the larger libraries make them an unrealistic proposition for volunteer groups.

Park Library was a surprise omission from the core service that the council plan to maintain – set as it is in an economically deprived area, it is an obvious candidate for continued support on the grounds of social and educational need alone.

The petition, launched by the Parks and East Walcot Community Forum, is calling on the council to amend their decision.

It has been well received by the local community who feel the social impact of a closure would be disastrous.

Local resident, Eileen George, said: “Park Library provides an educational, social focus and a community space in what is a very deprived area.

“The high levels of IT usage reflect the lack of internet access in many local homes and without this facility many people would be unable to fulfil their job search conditions.

“Children rely on the computers to do their homework. We have no Sure Start and few accessible community facilities on Parks. This area deserves and needs this library.”

The lack of internet access in residential properties across Parks is an issue that has been at the heart of the debate about the library’s future.

Conservative councillors have previously made reference to the availability of books on kindles or tablets – suggesting they may not be aware of the degree to which such items are a luxury for those on low incomes.

Blake Chandler, 13, has been collecting signatures with his mum.

“I need the library to do research and to do my homework online,” he said.

“Without the library I couldn’t do it. I love to read and my mum wouldn’t be able to afford to keep buying me books.

“If Park Library closed I would have to almost stop reading new books.”

Community Forum Secretary, Martin Wicks, said: “Kelly and Blake’s circumstances underline the need to keep our library open, as a professionally run service.

“We are continuing to collect signatures for the petition and we have printed a poster which we are asking people to put in their window to show their support for maintaining our library as part of a council-funded professional service.”

Copies of the petition and the poster are available from The Shop at Cavendish Square or you can email martin.wicks@btinternet for copies.

The consultation on Swindon Borough Council’s libraries strategy closes on September 30.