Parties will be going head to head to debate future of Essex libraries

Politics / Mon 12th Apr 2021 at 08:46am

ALL the main political parties will be going head to head on the ‘future of Essex’s libraries’ in an online public debate on the 27th April from half seven. Organisers SOLE say all are welcome to join via Zoom or Facebook live, and it will be an opportunity to question the parties on their library policy and put them on the spot.

Deputy council leader and County Councillor for Stanway and Pyefleet Kevin Bentley – tipped by many to be the new leader of Essex Conservatives once David Finch steps down – will be speaking for the Tories. The Greens will be represented by James Abbott, Essex County Councillor for Witham North. The Labour Party will be represented by Julie Young, County Councillor for Wivenhoe St. Andrew, and the Liberal Democrats by Rose Moore, their ECC election candidate for Chelmer. County Councillor for Loughton Chris Pond will be speaking as the non-aligned group group leader. 

SOLE is also in the process of lobbying all candidates in divisions across the county in advance of the election, and will publish the answers on social media. It will be asking all candidates to commit to a ‘publicly run, publicly funded, professional library service’. 

‘SOLE is a strictly non-party political campaign’, said a SOLE spokesperson. ‘But we hope our campaigning over the next month – as we put all the parties head to head at our online debate, and ask every candidate where they stand  – will give voters an informed choice when they go the ballot box. Libraries have after all been one of the major issues in our county over the last few years.’

‘We are calling on parties and candidates to support our view. The current strategy for libraries –  which will see many library buildings sold off, the staff got rid off, and libraries housed and run entirely by volunteers – is unsustainable. Charity shop libraries are a closure plan by stealth.’

We call on all those standing to fully commit to a publicly run, publicly funded, professional library service, with dedicated library buildings. And we then urge voters to “vote library”. In a post-covid world, libraries will be needed more than ever.’

People can join the debate from half seven on the 27th April via https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87182675140… Meeting ID: 871 8267 5140 Passcode: 124732 (find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbp3g4cH6a) The debate will also go out via Facebook Live on the SOLE page. 

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