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Uttlesford Lib Dem library petition handed over to Essex County Council

February 13, 2019 11:38 PM

More than 1,000 people in Uttlesford have signed the Lib Dem petition calling for the County Council to abandon its plans to close Libraries in Essex. It was handed to Essex County Cllr. Stephen Robinson outside Saffron Walden Library by Councillors and local campaigners from Saffron Walden, Stansted and Thaxted.

Uttlesford Lib Dem campaigners hand over their local petition signatures to County Councillor Stephen Robinson. of the official opposition group on Essex County Council.

"Essex County Council has made a political decision to cut this vital service," said Cllr. Robinson. "The Conservatives don't prioritise public services - remember what they did to Youth Services a few years ago? This is more of the same, and it's the people who are already disadvantaged that suffer."

"Such cuts to local services, like our libraries, are Conservative policies, no doubt about it", said Mike Hibbs. "We need to stand together, across all of Essex, against them. People living in Saffron Walden are appalled that the libraries at Thaxted and Stansted are threatened with closure and that hours and staff will be cut in Walden. This whole "Libraries Strategy" is wrong-headed. Changes may be needed, but not these cuts and closures. When a library's gone, it's gone - and leaves a big hole at the heart of the community."

Local Lib Dem Library campaigners Dr Michael Tayler and Cllr Martin Foley took the battle to Save our Essex Libraries to County Hall in Chelmsford on Saturday, where they joined a thousand-strong group of protesters. The petition, which is Essex-wide, was presented to the County Council at their meeting on Tuesday 12th February by Cllr. Robinson of the Lib Dem official opposition group on the Essex County Council.

At the meeting proposals submitted to the county council to enhance and improve Essex libraries were rejected by Conservative-run council. At the Full Council Budget meeting on Tuesday, Liberal Democrats proposed a full review of library premises, to consider commercial or residential additions, which would safeguard their future, rather than threaten the closure of 44 libraries.

Under the proposal, every single library building in Essex would have been assessed to see if they could be adapted or extended for greater community use and maximising the buildings' potential.

The Liberal Democrats also proposed money to employ additional staff to promote library use, especially among children and young people.

Following the library consultation survey going offline over last weekend, the Lib Dems asked the Cabinet Member for Libraries to consider extending the consultation to Sunday 24 February, but she refused.

The Cabinet member also failed to answer a question about who wrote the library consultation which felt biased by many respondees.

Commented Lib Dem Leader Mike Mackrory, "This will come as a great disappointment to the thousands of people who have signed the Lib Dem petition against library cuts. The Conservatives have missed a great opportunity to improve our library service."