CAMPAIGNERS against plans to close up to sixty per cent of libraries in Essex will be marching on the Essex County Council cabinet meeting that is believed will make the final decision on the future of the county’s libraries later this month. They will assemble outside the Saracen’s Head in Chelmsford High Street at 9.30am on Tuesday 23rd July before marching on County Hall. The council’s proposals have been condemned as ‘cultural vandalism’ by Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE).
SOLE is also calling for a change of venue for the crunch meeting, after dozens of local residents were turned from a special meeting of Essex County Council on libraries earlier this year. The meeting is currently scheduled for a committee room in County Hall. In an email to council leader Councillor Finch and council chair Councillor Jowers, the organiser of the forthcoming demonstration Andy Abbott said:-
“We are sure you will appreciate this meeting will generate a great deal of interest, and many people will wish to attend. So do you believe the committee room scheduled for this meeting is really appropriate? We will clearly end up with a situation where large numbers of people will be prevented from attending for the simple reason of capacity. This of course happened at the special full meeting of the council on libraries, when far more people were turned away than gained admittance. And then the speaker system set up in the atrium for those outside simply was not fit for purpose.”
“We must then ask you to ensure there is a venue which will allow for more than a dozen or so people – for an area of nearly 1.5 million – to attend. Meeting this request is essential for democratic accountability and democratic transparency. Without accountability and transparency the very principles of democracy are threatened.”
Mr Abbott goes on to suggest a suitable alternative could be Chelmsford City Council chamber, which has a much larger public gallery. However if the Civic Centre council chamber is unavailable Mr Abbott suggests the County Hall chamber “could be more appropriate if the seating that is normally reserved for councillors is made available to the public.”
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