CUTTING library services would be like robbing children of books, a councillor has claimed.

Harwich Town Council joined the debate about proposals to close 24 out of 74 libraries across Essex.

Essex County Council says libraries are a declining market and the move would save £2 million a year.

However, the proposals have led to a storm of protest.

Harwich Library has not been earmarked for closure but town councillors said reducing services would still have an impact on the town and its residents.

Jo Henderson told a town council meeting: “It’s just robbing children from families who cannot afford to buy books.

“A lot of children need to go to the library for their school books.

“I have got older children who go to the library all the time and it’s for their social life too.

“Reducing services will make people isolate themselves behind closed doors.”

Town councillor Garry Calver said the consequences of reducing services for Harwich Library are not being fully considered.

He told the meeting he does not believe the consultation covers all the issues.

Mr Calver said: “Trained librarians can’t be replaced by volunteers and this should be brought to Essex County Council’s attention as it is not going to be part of the consultation.”

He said cutting the availability of Harwich Library, in Upper Kingsway, where there are high levels of social deprivation, low car usage and bad public transport would be unacceptable.

He said: “There are many disadvantaged people in our town who can use the library to apply for jobs, use the internet and read.”

Mr Calver said Harwich Library has a significant footfall and lots of people in the town cannot afford to buy books.

He said: “Many people use the library and there is no greater pleasure than when a child goes into a library to read a new book.

“Essex County Council is stating it does not know the footfall of the library at this stage but it is already doing a public consultation.

“It’s nonsense and I think we should do everything we can to make Essex County Council aware any reduction in services is inappropriate.

“I propose we write to the council as to the reasons why a reduction in services is unacceptable.”

The public consultation on the future of Essex libraries runs until February 20.

All councillors were in favour of writing to the county council with their views.