Campaigners against library closures were out in force over the weekend as they gear up for a march on County Hall next month. A book raid were held at Prettygate Library in Colchester where hundreds of users took out their maximum entitlement of books. The library users were joined by a number of local councillors: Prettygate library raid gets children talking about their love of books. Meanwhile in Chelmsford campaigners returned to the High Street with a petition and collected over 400 signatures, while a stall was held outside Hockley Library where a book raid is to be staged next Saturday from 10am. These activities occurred after the County Council announced an extension to its consultation sessions, a move proclaimed as a ‘victory for people power’ by the campaign.

‘It is clear Essex County Council has been overwhelmed at its drop-ins, we’ve heard reports of two-hundred or more people turning up to sessions at village libraries’, said Chelmsford SOLE spokesperson Andrew Coburn. ‘It again underlines how valued libraries are, and that any drop in library use is down to Essex County Council’s own cuts. If a shop cut its opening hours it would lose customers. The extension of the drop-in sessions is the result of the strong feelings already expressed at libraries and elsewhere by campaigners and library supporters. It’s a victory for people power.’

‘The response we had to our petition further confirmed just how popular our libraries are’ continued Mr Coburn, a retired Essex County Librarian. ‘It shows that any drop in library use has been caused by Essex County Council cutting opening hours. Any shop that cut its opening hours knows it would lose customers.’

SOLE’s march on County Hall on Saturday 9th February will assemble at midday in the High Street by the Saracen’s Head and take a near circular route through the city centre. Meanwhile this weekend campaigners will be petitioning in Chelmsford High Street (near Lloyds) between 11.00 – 13.00 on Saturday (12/1) and a SOLE organising meeting will be held later that day from 14.00 at the Fox & Hounds in Wood Street, Chelmsford. All those supporting the campaign are welcome to attend.

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