13,000 have their say on future of Essex libraries
12 January 2019, 06:19 | Updated: 12 January 2019, 06:32
More than 13,000 people have had their say on the future of Essex's library service.
The consultation has reached its half-way point.
The County Council plans to close 25 libraries, turn some others over to volunteers and build up its online offer instead.
It says traditional library use in Essex has collapsed in the last 10 years - with 31% fewer people using the county's libraries now than there were in 2008, and loans of books and other items down by 52%.
At the same time, use of the e-library service, including e-book loans and online reservations, has more than doubled since 2013.
UNISON Eastern regional manager Tim Roberts said in November that the County Council's plans are "threatening to rip the heart out of our communities", but the authority argues the library service is no longer viable in its current form.
It says there have been responses from people and organisations who are interested in running community libraries, where that could be a potential future option.
Essex County Councillor Sue Barker, Cabinet Member for Customer and Corporate said: "We are half way through the library consultation and I'm really pleased with the high number of responses, and the amount of engagement, we've had from Essex residents and community groups.
"Thank you everyone for taking the time to share your views. The consultation is open till 20 February so I would encourage anyone who hasn't yet completed the survey to please do so."