A TORY MP has hit out at political colleagues at County Hall over plans to close libraries in her constituency.

Witham’s Priti Patel pledged her support for a number of facilities which face an uncertain future during a meeting with the school council at St Mary’s Primary in Kelvedon.

The library in the village could be closed if Essex County Council presses ahead with its plans to change the way services are run in the county.

The council is looking at closing a third of the libraries under its remit as part of an overhaul of the service.

During the meeting with the pupils, Ms Patel was told about the importance of the library service in Kelvedon and was shown a petition the students had presented to Essex County Council opposing the plans.

Speaking after the meeting, Ms Patel revealed her anger at the proposals and insisted she would do all she could to keep libraries open.

She said: “I am furious so many libraries in my constituency face the prospect of closure and since the proposals were published in November.

“I have been in extensive correspondence with Essex County Council to make clear my serious concerns and throughout this period I have been consulting parish councils across the constituency to look at ways to save our libraries.

“21,000 people responded to the consultation, demonstrating the strength of feeling there is against these closures.

“I will continue to speak up for them and for all the communities that could be affected by these closures, which would cut them off from a highly valued social resource for community interest groups, elderly people and young families.”

Essex County Council has previously insisted it will consider all representations made during the consultation period before a final decision is made on the proposals later this year.

Leaders say they will also look at many of the petitions set up to protect certain libraries from closing.

A spokesman said: "No decisions about any libraries have been made yet. The purpose of the consultation was to find out what people think of our proposals.

"We are grateful to everyone who responded and to Priti Patel MP for her interest in supporting communities in her constituency. Over 21,000 responses to the official consultation were received, expressing a mix of views, both for and against elements of the strategy.

"We need to take time to consider these fully before making any decisions. After the full analysis of the survey results is completed, the final version of the Future Library Service Strategy will be presented to Cabinet later this year.

“Usage figures for all libraries were published as part of the draft needs assessment and are available to groups expressing interest in setting up community libraries.

"We are not looking for detailed bids at this stage, just in principle expressions of interest that are non-binding. More information about the offer of support to community libraries will be published in the report back to Cabinet.

"If Cabinet approves the final strategy, which may be amended, it is likely that there will be time after that for communities to develop their bids.”