VILLAGERS joined hundreds of campaigners in a protest march against radical plans to restructure the county’s library service.

Members of the newly formed Coggeshall Community Library group demonstrated their anger at Essex County Council’s plans to reduce the service during a protest in Chelmsford.

The group, made up of parish councillors and residents, was set up in response to proposals which could see Coggeshall Library run by volunteers.

Group member Tracey Vickers said: “People really care about this and it seems they have underestimated the whole thing.

“They are looking at book loans but they should really be looking at footfall. If you look at Coggeshall library, the footfall was higher last year than it was the previous year.

“Our biggest issue is the narrow data this consultation has been based on and the survey design.

We tried to fill it out but it was so difficult.

“We are worried this is all a forgone conclusion. But we are fighting these plans because we passionately believe in saving our library.”

Essex County Council is hosting a public consultation on its plan to change the library service.

The library in Kelvedon is one of 25 which could close entirely under the proposals, which county hall says is a response to a decline in the number of people using the service.

A petition has been set up to oppose the plans put forward to make Coggeshall Library volunteer-led.

More than 2,000 people have signed so far and Ms Vickers is calling on others put to their name down ahead of the consultation deadline on February 20.

There are printed copies of the petition in various shops and pubs throughout Coggeshall, as well as a copy on the Essex County Council website.

Ms Vickers added: “When you look at the population of Coggeshall and take way those unable to vote like children, its nearly 50 per cent of the people which is incredible.

“The Coggeshall Community Library group were taken to the protest by the community bus which shows you the strength of the community spirit in our village

“Libraries are so much more than just books. Our library is a central hub where you can do so many things there. If they end up closing the libraries in Kelvedon and Earls Colne then people will rely on Coggeshall’s even more because it will be there nearest one.”