More than 20,000 people had their say on controversial plans to shut libraries across Essex.

Essex County Council wants to close a third of its libraries, while it hopes volunteers will run others, in a bid to save £2million.

The plans show 19 libraries out if the 74 in Essex are earmarked to be run by community groups.

County Hall has now confirmed more than 21,000 people responded to its consultation held earlier this year.

There have also been 50 'expressions of interest' by groups wanting to take over the running of libraries.

The council said this included two proposals for brand new locations that have never had a library to call their own.

Interest has been received from pre-schools, parish councils, churches, businesses, charities, care companies, community groups, those interested in forming a community group as well as the University of the Third Age.

Susan Barker, councillor responsible for libraries, said work was underway to progress discussions with the groups.

She said: “We have been delighted with the number and broad range of groups that have come forward with expressions of interest and I am hopeful this number will continue to grow.

“We have now started to engage with these groups and local communities in these areas, however no decisions have been made.

"Detailed proposals and agreement with community groups and organisations is expected to take place following approval of the Final Libraries Strategy."

READ MORE: Campaigners challenge petition figures

Campaigners are fighting to save libraries across the county, including at Prettygate, Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea.

The council has argued book loans are down by 52 per cent  in the past 10 years and the demand for computers is down 34 per cent in 10 years.

A final decision is expected later this year.

Anyone wanting to make an expression of interest can do so at