Essex County Council rejects chance to listen to the public

Essex county councillors voted down calls yesterday to abandon their swingeing cuts to library services.

An extraordinary council meeting was called after nearly 60,000 people signed petitions condemning a consultation on the future of libraries that will close at least 25.

A further 18 libraries will close if no volunteer groups can be found to run them, while more volunteers and reduced services are likely at the other 41 libraries in Essex.

Dozens of people braved the cold to hold a protest urging councillors to listen to their constituents before the meeting.

But the Tory majority on the Council rejected calls to abandon the consultation.

UNISON area organiser John Lawrence said: “It is deeply disappointing that councillors have rejected this opportunity to abandon their harmful and unpopular attack on our county’s libraries.

“This wanton act of cultural vandalism has unleashed an almost unprecedented wave of public anger but the Tories on the Council have just shrugged their shoulders.

“Council leaders must listen to the people they’re supposed to represent – we want fully funded, fully staffed public libraries in Essex, not more cuts to our vital public services.”