CAMPAIGNERS have launched an “alternative consultation” in their bid to save dozens of libraries across the county from closure.

Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) launched their online questionnaire yesterday promising to address “the questions Essex County Council didn’t bother to ask”.

Once the responses have been coordinated the results will be published online and presented to County Hall before the decisive meeting of the council’s cabinet in June.

Colchester councillor Lorcan Whitehead (Lab), who is part of Sole, said: “The main reason we set it up is because there were so many problems with the original consultation.

“For example the leading questions and lack of options to say positive things about changes to libraries.

“We want people to have the opportunity to say the things the consultation does not let them say. We felt the original was designed to get the answers the council wanted.”

READ MORE: 5,000 sign petition to save Essex's libraries

SOLE’s consultation can also be filled in by residents of all ages and campaigners hope it will give overlooked youngsters a say in the decision.

READ MORE: Children to lead libraries protest in Colchester

Mr Whitehead said: “With the official consultation you can fill it in on behalf of a child but children cannot fill it in themselves.

“Under 19s are one of the biggest users groups of libraries but we think their voices have not been heard.

“This is part of the reason why we have got the young people’s march at the weekend, to give them a chance to have their voices heard.

“So often they are not part of decisions like this but the impact closing libraries can have on things like educational outcomes and parents taking kids to book groups is huge.

“We hope it will make councillors think again about the plans.”

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A spokesman for Essex County Council said 21,000 responses were received to the official consultation.

He said: "This was the official route for people to have their say. The consultation is now closed and the results are being analysed. All responses, including the petitions from SOLE will be considered before any decisions are made."