CAMPAIGNERS are calling for Colchester candidates in the upcoming Essex County Council elections to nail their colours to the mast and commit to supporting the county’s library services.

The Colchester branch of Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) is asking all candidates for May’s election to set out their position on libraries.

The future of facilities across Essex has been in doubt since 2018 when a County Hall strategy document set out plans to close 25 of 74 libraries and remove ongoing support for 18 more.

Campaigners efforts and wide-spread public backlash forced a rethink in the summer of 2019 when plans for the closures were ditched and a new strategy created.

However, the strategy still includes plans for some libraries to be run by volunteers.

SOLE has labelled the move a “closure plan by stealth” and wants Essex County Council to recommit support for these facilities.

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Since the 2019 U-turn, the council has repeatedly reiterated its support of the county’s libraries and pledged not to close any libraries for five years.

It also says it is pumping £3 million of investment into the service including the introduction of more e-books and comics.

Katy Vargas, spokeswoman for Colchester SOLE, said: “The level of public support for the campaign showed just how much people value our libraries.”

“More recently, we’ve seen the collapse of an attempt by Essex County Council to give up its responsibility for running Debden Library following public pressure.

“So it’s extremely concerning the council still hasn’t withdrawn its unrealistic and unsustainable plans to leave it to volunteers to run our public libraries.”

In the run up to May’s elections SOLE is writing to all candidates for Colchester seats asking them if they oppose the move to volunteer-run library services.

The group is seeking a firm commitment from each candidate to vote to maintain staffed and publicly-funded services if they are elected.

A deadline for responses has been set for April 20 with replies being published by the group so voters can see what candidates said.

The Essex County Council elections take place on May 8.

The full candidates list is set to be announced in the coming days once the nominations period closes.

Find out more about SOLE at