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‘Doomed to failure’: Residents criticise alternative library plans ahead of planned closure

PUBLISHED: 07:29 16 January 2019

Prettygate Library in Colchester Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Prettygate Library in Colchester Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

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A public meeting is to be held as residents and councillors continue to fight a proposed library closure.

Sue Lissimore resigned from her role at the Essex County Council cabinet to put her time into saving Prettygate Library Picture: CONTRIBUTEDSue Lissimore resigned from her role at the Essex County Council cabinet to put her time into saving Prettygate Library Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Residents in the Prettygate area of Colchester will meet on Thursday, January 17 in order to discuss the future of the site.

It follows Essex County Council’s announcement that 25 libraries, including in Prettygate, would be shut and a further 19 would their funding cut, meaning they would have to rely on community volunteers to stay open.

Colchester councillor Sue Lissimore, who represents the Prettygate ward, organised the meeting alongside fellow borough council representatives Roger Buston and Beverly Davies.

She said she and her fellow councillors would set out an alternative proposal against the library closures at the meeting.

Ms Lissimore said: “We hope to bring this before local residents here and get feedback before we bring it before the council.

“From what we have so far discussed with residents, we believe this could be the answer but we need their support if it is going to work.”

The Prettygate representative resigned from her post as cabinet member for culture and communities at Essex County Council on Thursday, January 10.

In a letter to the county council leader David Finch, she cited the threat of closure to the Prettygate Library as one of the reasons why she had made the decision.

Essex County Council have spent over £8.5m on redundancies in 2017/18. Picture: LUCY TAYLOREssex County Council have spent over £8.5m on redundancies in 2017/18. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

She said: “I had done all I could to make changes to the strategy before it was released.

“I then decided that the best thing I could do was resign and spend time with residents of Prettygate talking to them about what they want.”

She continued: “The Prettygate Library is the only community building in the vicinity. It’s somewhere where people can congregate, it’s central, it has disabled access. If we could build on all of that I think it could become a fantastic community asset.”

Katy Vargas, who is part of the Colchester branch of the Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) campaign, said: “We hope that the meeting will continue building opposition against the closures.

“We completely oppose the closures but also oppose the idea of having community-supported libraries, as they are doomed to failure.”

Ms Vargas has urged concerned residents to download the consultation on the Essex County Council website in order to make their discrepancies with the council clear.

The meeting will begin at 7pm at the Prettygate Pub in Colchester.

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