Read All About It! Essex County Council announce no libraries will close

THE LEADER of Essex County Council has announced that there will be no closures of libraries in Harlow or in Essex.

The announcement was made by council leader David Finch at a council meeting in Chelmsford this morning (Tuesday).

The decision has been welcomed by all four of Harlow’s County Councillors, Cllrs Johnson, Souter, Hardware and Garnett.

A Harlow Conservative spokesperson said: “After meeting repeatedly with the Cabinet Member and the Leader of the Council, where Harlow’s County Councillors regularly expressed the importance of the Harlow Libraries and the depth of feeling for them in the community, during the 12-week consultation in which residents were asked what they thought of the library service and it’s buildings, it is marvellous news that today it has been announced that all of Harlow’s libraries will remain open.

The survey of residents was held by Essex County Council after it was revealed that book lending was dramatically declining year on year across the county.

A massive number of people (just over 20,000) across Essex replied, which shows that people love their libraries but also that some communities have reignited their love, with many communities offering to run the service and the buildings in the future.Cllr Eddie Johnson said: “I am delighted that the Leader met with us and we discussed the future of Harlow’s libraries and the need to understand the challenges it faces with new and emerging technologies such as e-books and music.”

Cllr Clive Souter added: “This consultation has revealed just how much people love the library service in Harlow and many people have rallied behind their local libraries and have a renewed energy for them to remain open. We will be working with the Harlow library team and other groups to see how we can use this passion to continue to improve out libraries and make best use of these marvellous local community buildings.”

Cllr Mike Hardware said: “Plans to invest millions of pounds are now being drawn up to ensure that all libraries keep pace with fast moving technologies, and as more and more people turn to e-books, apps and websites so Essex will look to bolster the service and be the go to brand for internet books, music as well as bringing in other organisations under one roof to help and assist residents.”

Cllr Michael Garnett concluded: “For those who wish to borrow books in the traditional way then this will of course continue, and the libraries will become more of a social place with a café society atmosphere and a one stop shop for other council services.

More reaction to follow.

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8 Responses to "Read All About It! Essex County Council announce no libraries will close"

  1. durcant   July 9, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Whilst this is good news it just shows how out of touch county councillor are as they didn’t know this before they started on this mad idea.

  2. nodrub   July 9, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    It’s a pity that not one of these Conservative Essex councillors said any of this before. Indeed, on March 12th, they had an opportunity to vote for a motion to save and invest in these same libraries. None did.

    No petitions signed. No presence at protests.

    We can see what you’re doing; we’re not as stupid as you think we are.

  3. tenpin   July 9, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Well Durcant, this shows that meaningful consultation has taken place (20000 respondents) and an alternative way forward (to invest in a library service for the future) will take place. It is a shame your Labour Party at Harlow Council does did not take a leaf out of the Conservative party at County Hall and carry out such exercises with residents in Harlow about such important issues. The four hour exhibition last Thursday at the Civic Offices about Harlow North just about sums up this Council’s idea of consultation and when can we expect to be consulted on the transport infrastructure plan for Harlow, which is really only designed to help those living in new developments over Harlow’s borders ?

  4. durcant   July 9, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    No matter how you dress this up or use it as an excuse to talk about something else this was a terrible decision even to think of closing local public services.
    All Tory county councillors are not in the real world.
    ECC are out of touch.
    We should be thankful that we have still active communities willing to rise up and protest against such a brainless idea.
    Shame on our own Harlow county councillor who just sat back and never spoke up for Harlow.
    Shame we can’t Brexit from ECC.

  5. kthe5   July 9, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    “Shame we can’t Brexit from ECC.”

    Essexit ??

  6. tenpin   July 10, 2019 at 8:11 am

    So Durcant, lets go back to 2002 when Harlow Council closed it’s “local public service which it provided via it’s 7 neighbourhood offices. What public consultation took place then? The answer is none.The office at The Stow was being used by 400 to 500 residents per day, in order to access council services and to meet with both officers and Councillors. Since then, every attempt by the council to set up meaningful ways to engage with residents has failed or in the example of the Local Plan has been far short of what residents would expect and when compared with other authorities (try checking what Epping Forest DC did for their residents). Whilst it is clear that ECC misjudged the feelings of residents about the library service, they did hold public meetings at every library across the County and found just what many residents felt about possible closures. Whilst one could criticise the fact that these meetings were not advertised enough, the simple fact is the Council took notice of what was being said…… it is a shame that Harlow Council’s present administration does not want to hear from residents and when it does (for example the planning application at Bushey Croft), it simply ignores it.

  7. durcant   July 10, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    I can’t get into a discussion about something that happened over 15 years ago.
    We can learn from the past but not change it.
    Sorry but won’t reply on this forum as this is about the failure of our own Tory County councillors ,nothing more nothing less.

  8. tenpin   July 10, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Typical of Harlow politicians, whatever one party does, there is always some way the other
    party will put the boot in.Sticking to the prime issue here then Durcant, it is quite clear that Tory Councillors have not failed, the Conservative Group at ECC would have asked officers to hold a whole series of public meetings, listened to what was being said and then decided to keep all the libraries open. I suspect a great deal of information, not just about possible closure was gleaned from those responding, which could be very useful in providing more services from these buildings (take Staple Tye as a very good example). I am no fan of the Conservative Party but credit where credit is due. I agree that we cannot change the past, but I am afraid that the present Labour administration has learnt nothing from it when it comes to consultation, which is really why you are not prepared to ‘discuss’ it on these pages.

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