PETITIONS aimed at saving the county’s libraries have been banned from inside the buildings.

Mersea resident John Akker MBE launched a petition to save West Mersea library.

It 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.

But Mr Akker said after dropping a paper copy of his petition into the Mersea library, staff told him they were not allowed to display it.

He said: “When this first blew up, my first port of call was the library so I went up there and said I am launching the petition. I handed them a couple.”

Mr Akker was allowed to display copies in the town’s shops and MICA Centre and returned to the library a few days later.

“The staff member said ‘we are not allowed - we have been told we can’t display this’ and I said I was surprised by it.

“I thought it was just unacceptable.”

But Mr Akker said he understood another petition “about the generality of the cuts” had been allowed inside the library.

He added: “It is crazy. The people who are most affected are those who generally use West Mersea library.

“They should be allowed to express their views about the service. It is in the interests of Essex County Council that they have as much publicity and public involvement as possible.”

Mr Akker’s petition is backed by the Mersea Island Society, of which he is a committee member.

It now has around 200 signatures.

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 runs until February 20, 2109.

A spokesperson said: “We know people are passionate about their local library and so it is only to be expected that petitions have been set up by local people. We have no problem with this whatsoever.

“But the thing we really need people to do is take part in our consultation, which is the best way to ensure that their views, ideas and opinions are listened to and taken into account.

“That’s why we have taken a decision not to allow petitions in libraries themselves, because taking part in the consultation is the best way for people to have their say.”

“The consultation is easy to take part in. It can be carried out online, on your own device, or in the library where staff can help find and complete it on the library computers.”

“People can also phone 0345 603 7639 and a member of our customer team will assist with completing it for them. Large print, Easy Read or a paper version can also be requested at your local library, or by phone. This will then be posted out.”

The petition is at or call 0345 603 7639.