A CONSERVATIVE led council has been accused of 'sitting on its hands' after it failed to pass comment on major plans to revamp the county’s library service.

Silver End district councillor James Abbott, who represents the Green Party, says it is disgraceful that Braintree Council did not provide any feedback to Essex County Council on proposals which could see 25 libraries close and dozens more run by volunteers.

A public consultation on the plans closed back in February and saw a variety of petitions and protests staged by objectors.

If approved, libraries in Silver End, Kelvedon and Hatfield Peverel would close under the plans, while Coggeshall's service would need the assistance of volunteers to keep on running.

With Braintree Council leader Graham Butland confirming the authority had not commented on the proposals, Mr Abbott, who is county councillor for Witham, has launched a stinging attack on his fellow peers for failing to represent the views of residents.

He said: “It is a disgrace, but frankly not surprising, that the Conservative leadership at Braintree Council sat on its hands during the consultation instead of backing the thousands of residents in this district who want to save their local libraries from closure.

"The reality of the decline in many of our local services is a long way from the cartoon presentation given by the leader of the council where communities apparently will have all the services they need.

"Silver End library is in a building owned by the district council and is one of the lowest cost libraries in Essex. Yet despite plenty of opportunities during the consultation period lasting months, and at the meeting last week, the Conservative leading councillors had 'no comment' to make until questions were asked.

"Only they can explain this behaviour when so many local residents are supporting campaigns to keep their local libraries open."

In response to Mr Abbott's claims, Mr Butler defended the work of Tory councillors in the district, and insisted they had represented the differing views of residents.

He said: “A number of county and district Conservative councillors have been working with their local residents to convey to Essex County Council the many differing views on the consultation on library services.

"Indeed, as a county councillor myself, I have responded to the two emails that I have received from constituents in my division of Three Fields with Great Notley."

He added: "At no time since Essex County Council launched the consultation in November last year has councillor Abbott requested Braintree Council to consider the matter.

"The county council will now be considering the responses it has received, including those from community groups who have expressed an interest in taking on the running of their local libraries, and no decisions have yet been taken.”