THE campaign to save Thurrock libraries is gathering pace with the petition to save Corringham Library reaching more than 2,000 signatures.

Campaigners say they are struggling to keep up with the level of demand for forms.

After a day out on Corringham High Street with councillor Roy Jones on National Library Day on Saturday, campaign organiser Julie Sorrell-Wilde, said: “The campaign is rocketing and I can hardly keep up with it.

“People are just becoming aware that we could lose our local library service if we don’t do something about it. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing!”

Ms Sorrell-Wilde, who is the chairman of the Corringham and Fobbing Community Forum, has had shops, including Morrisons and the Post Office, asking for petition forms in their branches, as well as Corringham priest Father David Rollins, of St Mary’s Church.

In Stanford-le-Hope, Labour local election candidate Ella Vine has been leading the campaign to save the library. The group has encouraged more than 500 people to complete forms in Thurrock Council’s online consultation so far.

In Chadwell St Mary, campaigners gathered to encourage people to fill in the consultation forms.

Peter Saunders, of the Chadwell St Mary Community Forum, said: “It seems to us that the library service in Thurrock has been singled out for a particularly savage cut by the council, and if that is allowed to go through, it will have an irreversibly detrimental effect on leisure, education, training and jobseeking locally.”

The campaign groups plan to present the petitions at the next full council meeting in March.

Councillor Rob Gledhill, Conservative leader of the council opposition, has called for moves for libraries to “diversify” as a way to keep them open.

The party met last night to discuss the issue and is suggesting later opening hours – in order to keep them available to children – as well as looking at business partnerships like Waterstones have with Costa Coffee.

He said: “Firstly, we are not convinced that cuts have to be made.

But the libraries might need to take a jump forward in order to survive.”

On later opening hours, he said: “If the library were to open later, say from lunchtime to 8pm, well, it would give children the chance to go after parents get home from work.”