I WELCOME the decisions taken in the Colchester Council meeting last Thursday to approve both motions, with amendments, which challenge the county council's plan to close 25 libraries in Essex.

I spoke before the debate in support of libraries and also outlined to councillors the extent to which they are under attack.

Since 2010, 478 libraries have closed in England.

The number of books held by remaining libraries has dropped by 14 million and librarian jobs have been cut by approximately 8,000.

Furthermore a Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy study has shown that in 2017 alone, UK library expenditure fell by £66 million and 105 libraries were shut.

Libraries provide free access to reading material in a way that other mediums do not.

Department for Education statistics from 2014 showed that one in five children cannot read well by the age of 11.

Yet according to a study by Tim Coates, former managing director of Waterstones, book loans to children have fallen by 32 per cent in Birmingham, 35 per cent in Newcastle and by a whopping 56 per cent in Sheffield.

Yes, they may be on their smartphones instead of reading books, however I suspect that much of what they are doing on their phones in no educational substitute for reading.

Increasingly access to benefits and public services requires using a computer.

Modern libraries provide computer access to those on very low incomes, yet these same people risk having this access removed should their local library close.

Meanwhile there are many people of all ages who rely on libraries for social events or children's services.

Libraries, when run well, can also act as community centres.

Social isolation is the scourge of our age. Close the library and you isolate people further.

I would urge people to take part in Essex County Council's survey on libraries which is open until February 20 and can be accessed on their website.

Unless we all make our voices heard they will continue be a low hanging fruit that is picked by an authority desperate to make savings due to central government funding reductions.

Mark Goacher

Colchester Green Party

Morant Road, Colchester