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Library decision is 'closure by stealth'

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Stansted Mountfitchet. General Views. New Library building, Crafton Green. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (13874668)
Stansted Mountfitchet. General Views. New Library building, Crafton Green. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (13874668)

An announcement by Essex County Council that Stansted’s library has been saved from closure was met with scepticism and concern by councillors this week.

The publication of its revised library strategy was nothing but “smoke and mirrors” and pointed towards a community-run facility that would lack proper staffing and resources to make it sustainable.

“I would say this revised strategy is worse than the proposed one. It represents a stealth closure of the library service across swathes of the county - a service that ECC is statutorily obliged to provide,” said parish councillor Daniel Brett.

“Until and unless they agree to funding staff and maintaining stock, computers and staff at Stansted library, the fight for the library is not over.”

Essex leader Cllr David Finch made the announcement and said: “We have concluded a consultation to find out what people thought about their local library service.

“This consultation has absolutely reinvigorated their desire and love of our libraries. So, as a result, none of our libraries will close!”

But further information revealed from the strategy document added: “We will retain a network of council run libraries, particularly in larger towns, but it is evident that there is community interest in running libraries in locations where this council currently runs them.”

Stansted Parish Council chairman Maureen Caton said they had firmly rejected the idea of volunteer-run libraries and accused Essex of “grossly misleading” them.

“They have sold us down the river. The revised strategy is just a rehash of the closure and running down of services over a three-year grant period and we feel extremely let down. They have dressed it up as a present and then taken it back.”

An Essex cabinet meeting is due to decide the outcome on Tuesday.

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