THE future of our county’s libraries are hanging in the balance.

Essex County Council is considering closing those in Vange and Fryerns in Basildon, as well as Great Wakering and Hullbridge.

Other libraries, including Hadleigh, South Benfleet and Hockley, would need to find a community group to run them in order for them to be kept open under the proposals.

Meanwhile in Southend, the mobile library service is being axed and replaced by Transit vans which will drop off and pick up books at care homes.

The internet, smart phones and Kindles are all said to be contributing to the decline in the number of people using their libraries.

However, residents across south Essex are insistent there is still a need in the community for them.

Rose Griffin-Twidell, said: “I did my first creative writing course at Vange Library.

“It’s what got me to where I am as a writer, now writing my fifth book.

“I needed somewhere to start and it got me there.

“It’s a place where people like the elderly can borrow books for nothing, which is important for them to keep their minds active.

“It’s very sad the library is closing.

“I’ve developed a personal connection with the library which I wouldn’t find anywhere else.”

There were also concerns raised about the elderly who regularly visit their local library.

John Day, who runs The George Hurd Activity Centre for the over 50s, said: “I think libraries are essential for people like the elderly.

“Everyone forgets not everybody can work a computer or iPad - even I fall into that category.

“Without libraries, the elderly will suffer terribly and become even more isolated than they already are.

“It will also impact those with a limited income or budget, who may not be able to afford their own computers.

“To take our libraries away is absolutely ludicrous.

“The libraries in Basildon are still popular and should remain open.

“It’s disgraceful and if they want to make cuts, they should look at the salaries of the local authority.”

Kirsty Saunders, 27, of Billericay said: “I regularly use Billericay Library so I was very pleased when I saw it wasn’t earmarked for closure.

“We are at risk of having a whole generation who just rely on computers and technology for information, rather than books and I think that would be such a shame.

“The libraries are also vital for those who don’t have computers at home, either children who need to use them for homework, those who are job hunting and for older people.

“Although more people are using technology to access books and other facilities, there is definitely still a need to have libraries in our communities.”

Numerous petitions have been arranged to campaign against Essex County Council’s proposals.

This includes resident Megan Hemmings, 33, Hockley, who is campaigning for Hockley Library to remain a fully funded service.

She said: “The library is so much more than just borrowing books.

“Without it, I worry it will isolate members of the community such as the elderly who use it’s services.”

Megan’s petition went live on Tuesday November 20.

She has already got more than 500 signatures on the petition.

You can sign it at

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Rochford and Southend East, Ashley Dalton, is also organising a petition, in order to stop Great Wakering library from closing.

She said: “Libraries such as Great Wakering are absolutely essential as a learning place for the community.

“Without it, the impact is huge.

“We’re looking at impacts of austerity, local exclusion and lack of places to meet for both the old and younger generations.

“I’m encouraging locals to let the council know how important the library is and to encourage them to look at other alternatives.”

There will be a 12 week public consultation to run from November 29 2018 until February 20 2019, which will decide the future of our local libraries.