CAMPAIGNERS who are fighting to keep a library service in South Chingford collected more than 500 signatures on a petition this morning.

Conservative opposition councillors in the area are trying to drum up support for their idea of opening a community-run library staffed by volunteers.

As well as the petition supporting the plan, around 40 residents also agreed to offer their services at the proposed new library, and organisers hope they can gain many more in the coming weeks.

It comes after the council proposed closing its South Chingford Library branch to save money.

The Tory group has proposed that the council hand over its Waltham Forest Direct (WFD) advice centre shop in south Chingford, which is shortly due to close, as a replacement for the library.

Cllr Jemma Hemsted, one of the organisers who collected signatures on the petition today, said: "It's been a very successful morning. It shows the strength of feeling and not one person we met said they supported the council's plan to close the library.

"We got a lot of signatures but it was also important to go out into the streets because there are still lots of people who don't know that the library is going to close.

"The main objective of our campaign is to get a volunteer base for a new library service.

"We don't believe that the council will change its mind on closing the current library but we want to be able to show it does have other options and there are alternatives that can work.

"We can still have a library service in South Chingford."

The council argues that a shake-up of libraries, including opening some larger branches for longer, will improve the service overall and improve its appeal to a broader spectrum of residents.

A 12-week public consultation on the plans began last month. A final decision is expected in October.

Waltham Forest’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Arts and Culture, Cllr Geraldine Reardon, insisted in a previous statement that a final decision had still not been made.

She said: “The consultation process isn’t just about asking residents for their views on our proposals - we also want to hear any alternative plans or ideas they might have.

"These will be taken onboard and evaluated as part of the formal consultation exercise.

“If residents or councillors would like more information as to the running costs of the building to help inform their proposals then we will be more than happy to provide them with all the necessary information.”

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