Angry residents confronted council cabinet members at meetings in Hanwell and Perivale this week about the proposed changes to Ealing’s library services.

Council leader Julian Bell, cabinet members for finance and libraries, Yvonne Johnson and Kamaljit Dhindsa, took questions at meetings near Perivale and Hanwell libraries, which may be closed.

More than 120 people attended the meeting in Hanwell on Tuesday, where the councillors were subjected to strong criticism.

Audience members said they needed the library, that they paid council tax so that the council could run a library, and that the library could be saved by getting better stock, or by bringing other services into the building.

Councillor Johnson’s suggestion that the audience come up with practical solutions for volunteers or community organisations to run the library was met angrily.

Audience members said: “We are not here to solve your problems; you are here to answer our questions.”

Save Ealing’s Libraries campaigner Sean Ashcroft said he was disappointed with the way the meeting went.

“It was a deeply unsatisfactory event,” he said.

“I think what annoyed everyone was being told what we should be asking. They’re [the councillors] not listening and they don’t want to listen.”

Hanwell Community Forum Chair Carolyn Brown said the councillors appeared to have made their minds up before the meeting and they failed to understand the issues.

“They appear to have made the decision already,” she said.

“They showed complete ignorance about how children become passionate about reading. It does not happen over the internet.”

Ms Brown also said that Hanwell Community Forum’s library action team, which includes a number of business people, had looked into the possibility of taking over the library and found it would be unfeasible.

“It would have to be a proper business and it would have to have employees,” she said.

“Furthermore, we could do it but we pay for our library like everyone else and we don’t see why we should be differentiated and disenfranchised.”

Ms Brown said that the Community Forum was organising a petition to force a debate on Hanwell Library at council.

Hanwell Community Forum will also be encouraging its members to show their support for the library at Hanwell Carnival by dressing up as their favourite book.

Nigel Bakhai, a councillor for Hanwell, said he was pleased that so many people had turned out at the meeting to support their library.

“There was a great attendance and the people of Hanwell made it clear they’re opposed to any closure of Hanwell Library,” he said.

“I hope the Labour Councillors will listen to them.”

The Perivale meeting last week was less well attended, which Justin Anderson, a Perivale councillor, blamed on poor publicity and choice of location by the council.

Councillor Anderson said people for whom English is a second language, who use the library a lot, would have had particular difficulty finding out about the meeting.

Peter Fry, a former librarian at Perivale library who attended the meeting in Perivale, said he understood the council’s position, but that he was unimpressed by the arguments put forward.

“One sympathises with the situation Julian Bell is in,” he said.

“It is an easy target to close a library, but once they close it that is it, they’ll never build a library again.”

Mr Fry also said the council’s view that libraries could be run by volunteers were misguided.

“It is very easy to say that someone else’s job is a doddle,” he said.

“They seem to take the view that anyone can walk off the street and run a library.”

Council leader Julian Bell said although he was uncomfortable at having to make cuts to the libraries, the financial reality was unavoidable, but was happy that the meetings had gone ahead.

“We are trying to find a fair way of reducing our library budget,” he said.

“Clearly there is opposition to it. On the other hand, people feel they had an opportunity to say how they felt.

“I am still hopeful we’ll be able to find a community organisation to keep the library open.”

Councillor Bell also said opposition to the car park in Southall, which was repeatedly brought up at the meetings, was a red herring in the discussion.

Councillor Bell said the library budget came from revenue, where savings have to be made, whereas funding for the car park comes from the council’s capital funds.

He said: “I know it sounds like accountant speak but there is a real difference.”