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Thousands joined library campaigners SOLE’s countywide day of action on Saturday with protests against what campaigners call a ‘closure plan by stealth’ taking place from Hadleigh to Harlow, and from Stanway to Shenfield.
In Manningree hundreds joined a street party outside the town’s library, while in Galleywood an exhibition of children’s artwork in appreciation of their library was displayed and hundreds signed a petition against the plans.
In Broomfield dozens marched from Church Green to the village library, where speakers called on their local parish council to withdraw its library takeover bid.
“So called community libraries are a closure plan by stealth”, said SOLE’s Andy Abbott.
‘Libraries will lose their librarians, their buildings, and volunteers will have to do everything. They will have to house the library, staff the library, and raise the funds to pay the bills and buy the books.
“This is entirely unsustainable and a closure plan by stealth.
“SOLE is calling on groups like Broomfield Parish Council that have made bids – perhaps as a last resort when their local library faced imminent closure – to withdraw their takeover attempts,” continued Mr Abbott, “or they will sadly be complicit in the running down and eventual closure of their local library.
“With Essex County Council U-turning and now saying no library will close for five years, we need to ensure they stick to their word. It is not the job of volunteers to house and run a library. It is Essex County Council’s statutory duty.”
Support for Saturday’s protest in Broomfield came from the headteacher of nearby secondary school Saint John Payne, Tom Coen.
In a statement read out at the rally outside the library he said: “Saint John Payne Catholic School is proud to continue its support of SOLE. Any reductions in the quality of the County’s library services would represent significant concerns for all involved in education.
“Our libraries make a hugely significant contribution to the progress and success of the young people in our care, and we remain committed to protecting these most valuable resources against any proposed closure or reduction in service.”