ISLANDERS are the latest to oppose plans to close their nearest library.

West Mersea library is among 19 libraries Essex County Council could close within two years unless community groups step forward to run them.

The plans are part of a major shake up of all the county's 74 libraries which will save it £2million.

Surviving libraries could serve as “hubs” in main towns such as Colchester, Clacton and Basildon, and continue to be managed by the council but with opening hours cut.

Outspoken Mersea resident John Akker MBE has launched a petition to save its library in High Street.

It is backed by the Mersea Island Society, of which he is a committee member.

Mr Akker said: "Libraries are really essential to the community. They provide a meeting place and provide a good scope of books and materials. There are other functions and meetings which also take place at the library.

"West Mersea is a regional centre and is recognised by Colchester Council and Essex County Council as such. It acts as a focal point for people that live in this area including surrounding villages.

"Colchester library is many miles away and may be difficult to travel to by public transport."

The council has said the library could continue to be run by volunteers.

But Mr Akker said: "This would not be an efficient way of going forward. The libraries need professional staff who can be relied upon on a permanent basis to run a library.

"The amount of money which this would save is very, very small compared with the impact it would have on the community."

Mr Akker suggested Colchester Council should put forward some of its reserves to help save the library.

Essex County Council says "traditional" library use has collapsed in the last ten years and book loans have reduced significantly.

It wants to move to a more online focused service.

Mr Akker's petition is on the petitions section of Essex County Council's website and is also available in shops on the island.

A 12-week consultation into the plans launches on Thursday.

A drop-in session will be held at Colchester library on Saturday December 1 between 11am and 3pm for people to ask questions, complete the consultation and find out more.

To take part in the consultation go to or call 0345 603 7639.