A COUNCILLOR is urging locals to come together as a community to maintain its vital services.

Joanne Beavis, county councillor for the Halstead division and the deputy cabinet member for children and families, has said its the people and community that matter the most and this year sees a great opportunity to grow the community and voluntary sector further, with the potential to work with local government on many levels.

Touching on the potential closure and limiting of hours for a number of local libraries, one of the highly controversial issue for Halstead and the surrounding area, she says its important that issues members of the community have are raised.

She said, it is not the building that is of value, it is the service and should the proposed closures take place this may not mean the end of the service.

"I came into local government 16 years ago because Barclays bank were closing branches.

"I did not take issue with the actual building being closed what mattered to local people was that the service continued and it is the service that we should concentrate on."

"It is important that people participate in this consultation and at the same time think about the different opportunities to deliver the service."

Mrs Beavis says that volunteering is a service that is vital to Halstead and the communities surrounding it and communities can take it into their own hands to maintain a service they need.

The Gosfield community shop is ran by dedicated volunteers who strive to protect the service.

In December the council rejected the shops extension for its temporary planning permission, saying it needed to find a new venue.

Volunteers are running the shop alongside a fundraising campaign and a petition to keep the shop in its current location.

Mrs Beavis said the most important thing is to keep the shop open to prove to the council how vital it is within the village.

She said: "The logistics of that can sometimes be a bit more complex because finding accommodation, particularly in the smaller villages, is difficult but what I do know is that people, community and volunteers are resilient and usually find a way."

"In the past year I have worked with the people and communities of the Halstead division and they have told me what matters to them most: good highways, good health, good education, good homes, good high streets and good access to local services.

"As county councillor and a resident of the Halstead division these issues matter to me too.

"I am immensely proud of the Halstead division and the goodwill of its people.

"I shall look forward to the coming year with enthusiasm for what we can achieve together."