Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Chris Packham criticises cuts to his childhood library

Chris Packham Image copyright BBC/Scott Tibbles
Image caption Presenter Chris Packham says he used his local library in Southampton every Saturday when growing up

BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham has described plans to stop council funding for five Southampton libraries as a "disastrous move".

Mr Packham said he was "really, really angry" on learning his childhood library was among those facing cuts.

The presenter, who grew up near Cobbett Road library, says he spent every Saturday afternoon there from the age of five to 16.

The council says it is hopeful community groups will run them instead.

Mr Packham, whose father is still a frequent user of Cobbett Road library, said it was an invaluable resource for the community.

"I can remember every single one of those books I read sitting in these musty, dusty rooms," he said.

"It gave me the framework to help me understand the natural world."

'Adamantly opposed"

Councillors will vote on a report next week, which recommends saving six of the city's libraries, but stopping funding for five others.

Burgess Road, Cobbett Road, Millbrook, Thornhill and Weston libraries will be closed unless volunteers can be brought in to run them.

Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts said the council would offer a good support package for community groups who wanted to volunteer to run the library.

"We will carry on paying for the building and the IT, " he said.

Lindsi Bluemel of the Cobbett Road Library Group said the group was "adamantly opposed" to the library being run by volunteers as it could not give the same service as the council currently provides.

"We're a very urban community in the middle of a city, and where community groups have been successful they've been in small villages and rural areas.

"Most of the people who support Cobbett Library have full time jobs," she said.

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