CONSERVATIVES on Colchester Council say they are opposed to their own party's plans to cut library services.

Essex County Council's Conservative administration wants to close or reduce opening hours at its 74 libraries, which will save it £2million.

However, it says libraries can be saved if communities are prepared to run them.

But Conservatives on Colchester Council say they are working "flat out to remedy the situation".

Group leader Darius Laws said party colleagues Pat Moore and Robert Davidson, who represent Mersea and Pyfleet ward, attended the county council meeting where it was agreed to consult the public on the proposals.

Mr Laws added: "They were there to challenge the points system that determines the grading of libraries.

"This grading forms the basis of the future consultation but does not take into account important individual local factors.

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"In the borough of Colchester, Mersea, Prettygate, Stanway and Tiptree libraries are all at risk under this system.

"Colchester Conservative Councillors are working flat out to remedy the situation.

"We need local volunteer groups to contact us so that we can work together to save these libraries. The pubic consultation will open soon and we encourage everyone to have their say."

West Mersea, Stanway and Tiptree libraries are among 19 the council could close within two years unless community groups step forward to run them.

Prettygate library is graded as a higher priority for closure.

John Jowers, also a Conservative representing Mersea and Pyfleet and a county councillor, said he was "totally against" Mersea's library being shut - but did understand libraries in some areas were not economically viable.


"I had the portfolio for 12 years and one of my proudest achievements was not closing a single library.

"I have used the library since I was five years-old, they are a passion of mine and I certainly don't like the idea of shutting libraries in local urban centres such as Mersea."

Mr Jowers said the county council had to save a total of £100million but added: "On Mersea, I think they have got it wrong."

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.

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

A drop-in session will be held at Colchester library on Saturday 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.