Brightlingsea Town Council has condemned the threatened closure of Brightlingsea Library – a move backed unanimously by residents who attended a packed public meeting on Monday, February 4.
Essex County Council is conducting a review of library services across the county, with a public consultation that closes on February 20. Should it close, various options may be available to retain some form of library in the town, including a volunteer-run operation or a mobile service.
At the last full council meeting, Councillor Mick Barry, seconded by Councillor Graham Steady, proposed the following motion expressing “strong opposition” to any closures: “This Council notes with sadness the public consultation launched by Essex County Council to close libraries across the county, including the library in Brightlingsea. Whether complete closure or transition to volunteer run services, this Council cannot accept the irreversible impact such plans have upon the social mobility and educational opportunities of our residents.”
The motion, which has been forwarded in writing to Essex County council, continued: “This Council believes that education and information are fundamental for individuals to be socially mobile. For centuries, Libraries have provided people with available and accessible books, information and educational resources. This historic principle is now under threat in our town. Brightlingsea residents access many services provided at our libraries, not just books, but free Internet, DVDs, audio texts, a range of Council Services, and access to other support groups. Libraries are an important, free to enter, community asset.”
At the standing room-only public meeting in the Parish Hall, organised by Brightlingsea town and district councillors Jayne Chapman and Karen Yallop, along with Brightlingsea county councillor Alan Goggin, residents heard that usage of Brightlingsea library has declined in recent years. However, several residents suggested that the figures released by Essex County Council may not reflect the true picture, with others emphasising the value of the library for a wide range of community activities.
How to take part in the public consultation
The deadline for submissions is February 20th. Submissions are welcomed from all ages.
Write to: Susan Barker, Essex County Council, PO Box 11, County Hall, Chelmsford, CM1 1LX or phone 0345 603 7639.
An online consultation is available at https://libraries.essex.gov.uk/news/essex-libraries-draft-strategy-consultation
Information is available from Brightlingsea Library and anyone without access to a computer can use the facilities there to complete the online consultation.