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44 Essex Libraries Remain Under Threat

March 12, 2019 4:06 PM
Originally published by Chelmsford Liberal Democrats

A motion to protect all 74 Essex libraries was voted down at today's Extraordinary Full County Council Meeting, the first in 25 years. That means Conservative proposals to close 25 libraries and possibly 19 more remain on the table.

The debate was preceded by well-researched and thought-provoking questions, which were asked by residents from a packed public gallery.

Cllr Mike Mackrory, Leader of the Opposition, proposed the motion which would rule out any closures, encourage better use of libraries as community hubs, and maximise the use of library buildings and sites to generate income.

Despite 57,000 petition signatures and 21,000 consultation responses, some Conservative councillors stated that the meeting was a waste of time, money and resources. Lib Dem Cllr. Stephen Robinson queried, "Does this mean the Conservative councillors think that listening to residents' concerns is a waste of time?"

Lib Dem councillors made the case that libraries are not just a book borrowing service, they are a vital community resource, especially in isolated communities who have seen their pubs, shops, community hubs and other community facilities close in recent times.

At the end of the debate, the Conservative administration voted down proposals to keep libraries open.

Cllr Mike Mackrory said, 'I am sure residents will be very disappointed at the response from the Conservative administration, but the fight goes on to Save Our Essex Libraries.'

The questions from the public are in a PDF on the Essex County Council website: http://bit.ly/ECClib120319