CAMPAIGNERS against the proposed closure of 60 per cent of Essex libraries have objected to the idea they could be run voluntarily.

Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) wrote to opposition leaders to express ‘grave concerns’ about a motion being proposed at an Essex County Council meeting tomorrow.

Independent councillor Chris Pond put forward a motion suggesting the council “undertake after reorganisation to provide in every library service point, no matter how staffed or with what partners, access to the whole stock of Essex Libraries through established reservation and stock circulation systems”.

SOLE objected to the suggestion libraries can be run voluntarily without paid staff. The county council previously suggested libraries could be saved if volunteers come forward to run them.

In an email to councillor Pond and other opposition party leaders, SOLE’s Andy Abbott urged councillors not to “acquiesce in an act of cultural vandalism”.

He said: “When SOLE was established it was agreed the only way to run a sustainable library service in our county is through paid staff employed by Essex County Council.

“Volunteer led and community run libraries will not work. To be talking about ‘partnership working’ and libraries ‘no matter how staffed’ would be a failure of opposition.

“But worse than that it will be the eventual closure notice for every threatened library.”

SOLE’s motion with alternative wording suggests staff should be paid, trained and employed by the county council.

A final decision on the future of libraries in Essex is expected to be taken at the cabinet meeting on July 23.

Campaigners will be assembling at the Saracen’s Head in Chelmsford High Street at 9am that day and then marching on County Hall for the crunch meeting.

Chris Pond told the Gazette he would support an amendment.

He said: “If an amendment is put down by another party I would be happy to accept it.

“I am quite prepared to go along with an amendment if they want to take up SOLE’s points. I strongly support the professional control of Essex libraries.”