MORE than 5,000 people have signed petitions in a bid to save libraries from closure.

Campaigners are trying to persuade Essex County Council to ditch plans to close a number of libraries including those in Prettygate, West Mersea, Manningtree, Brightlingsea, Stanway, Tiptree, Walton, West Clacton and Wivenhoe.

A library raid was held at Wivenhoe Library, where residents took out as many books as possible to show how valued the library is.

The next raid has been organised at Prettygate Library for Saturday.

Colchester councillor Lorcan Whitehead (Lab), who is part of the Save Our Libraries in Essex - SOLE - campaign group said: “The reaction has been fantastic so far.

“It shows it’s an issue that cuts across the community and everyone seems to realise how important it is to keep those services.

“It’s not just about the books, it’s about the community hub as well. The book raid is a simple way of showing the value of the services the library offers.”

However, Prettygate councillor Sue Lissimore (Con), opposed the raid.

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She said on Facebook: “Totally agree with saving Prettygate library, but please think of the staff.

“‘Raiding’ the premises increases their work and causes them many issues such as no books left for those that genuinely need them.”

Prettygate councillors have organised a meeting to discuss the potential closure on January 17 at 7pm, at The Prettygate pub while SOLE campaigners will be planning their strategy at a meeting next Wednesday, January 9, at 7pm at Colchester New Church in Maldon Road.

SOLE spokesman Katy Vargas said: “It’s important everyone recognises this consultation is not a done deal and we can save all our libraries from closure or loss of premises and staff.

“But that won’t happen unless we send a clear message to our county councillors we value our libraries.

“This is a non-party political campaign and we aim to bring together everyone who believes our libraries shouldn’t be sacrificed for a measly saving which amounts to just £3.50 per household in Essex.”

The Prettygate petition has already secured 2,197 signatures with 1,354 signing the petition to keep Manningtree library and 1,120 supporting Wivenhoe. Brightlingsea has 400 signatures and West Mersea has 300 signatures.


Essex County Council’s consultation can be found at or call 0345 603 7639.

Any proposed changes will be considered in June.

Colchester SOLE has set up a Facebook group. Search for Colchester SOLE – Save Our Libraries Essex or call 07595538489 or email