ABOUT a quarter of people who will be affected most by library closures are under nine years old, a councillor has revealed.

Essex County Council has launched its 12-week consultation on the proposals to close a number of libraries across the county, including Prettygate in Colchester.

However, Colchester councillor Julie Young says the consultation ignores the voices of young children. She found a report in cabinet papers which gave a breakdown of the usage of libraries. It said about 22 per cent of library users are under nine.

Mrs Young has called for the county council to launch a separate consultation for children so their voices can be heard.

She said: “I was interested in the fact it is predominantly women, children and the elderly using these services. If a quarter of these service users are under nine how are their voices going to be heard?”

“I think there should be another consultation, whether it is done via simple questions given to schools, or through a more simplified consultation parents can fill out with their children online.

“Children learn more in those years than they do at any other time in their lives.”

Primary school pupils have also joined the growing list of groups campaigning fighting to keep libraries open.

Year 5 and 6 students at St Peter’s School in Coggeshall, have written letters to County Hall urging them not to close their village library.

Team leader Sarah Armitage said: “As a school we fully support the pupils in their objections to the closure of the library. It is s valuable resource to us as a school, as well as the wider community.

“The idea for writing the letters came at the end of an English unit on persuasive writing. When the library closures became an issue, we discussed it with the children and they felt they would like to write letters.”

Essex County Council says its plans to change its library service could help save £2 million and is in response to a reduction in the number of users.

A council spokesman added: “The survey can be completed by children or by parents on behalf of families and there is also an Easy Read version for anyone who would find that easier.

“We are really happy to look into this as we want everyone who uses our libraries to have their say.”