A ten year-old and his friends have been drumming up support as his petition to halt library cuts in Falmouth nears its 5,000 signature target.
Leon Remphry was joined by a group of children and adults for a protest outside Falmouth Library on Monday, blowing whistles and banging a drum to bring attention to his Write to Read campaign which has nearly garnered the signatories necessary to spark a debate at Cornwall Council.
Leon was inspired to start the petition after a planned Saturday trip to the library with his mother was cut short because the opening hours had changed and he had not known.
He said: “We'd just got there and the lady said that it was closing and we had to get out, and they never normally did that.
“We were outraged and decided to start a petition and by the time we got home we had the whole thing planned out. We didn't think it would get as big as this.
He added: “I love books, and it's really hard to get books without a library.”
The campaign started out as a paper only petition, but Leon and his mother Sarb, decided to put it online at the website 38 Degrees and start a media push, and he said the number of signatures “exploded” from 177 to 1,100 in one evening.
Since starting the petition in early July he has gained more than 4,300 online signatories, and his father Martin estimates that they have collected several hundred more online, although for it to be valid all signatures must be from Cornwall residents.
Leon said: “When we get to 5,000 signatures the council will be forced to have a debate. I'm hoping to be at the debate.
“I don't think they've got the right to close the library down. It was given to the council by a Victorian philanthropist. He offered the people a light house, but they said they would rather have a library.”
India Thorogood, a campaigner from the organisation 38 Degrees, which is hosting Leon's petition online, said: “It's amazing that he's ten years old and campaigning.
“I think Leon's a really good example of how anybody can get involved in democracy.”
Adam Paynter, the Cornwall Council Cabinet member for partnerships, said: “I think it's great he's taking the time, and is very passionate about the library. He is learning about the history of the library and its building.
“He's very knowledgeable for a ten year-old lad, most ten year-olds wouldn't realise how the library is important, and he's decided to do something about it.
As part of a programme which aims to save Cornwall Council £1.3m, Falmouth library saw its opening times reduced from 39.5 hours a week to just 24.5, while nearby Penryn saw opening hours drop from 23.5 to 14.5.
Adam said the council had tried to make sure the closest “neighbour library” in Penryn was open when the building in Falmouth was closed, so that customers could still get books, but Leon said that Penryn was “miles away.”
To sign the online petition, go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/write-to-read-stop-library-closures-in-cornwall.
Caption: Leon holds his petition and a drum while his friends stand around him with placards.