PROTESTORS have launched their own “community consultation” as they continue a campaign to save libraries in Essex.

Essex County Council could close 24 libraries, including Sible Hedingham, under plans to save £2million.

More than 60,000 people signed petitions against the closures, and campaign group Sole – Save our Libraries Essex – staged a massive demonstration outside the council’s HQ in Chelmsford.

The group has now launched an “alternative” survey for residents.

Sole spokesman Katy Vargas claimed the original consultation was “flawed”.

She said: “Our community consultation gives residents the chance to say if they want our 24 threatened libraries to remain open, run by professional staff, and publicly financed without these proposed cuts – a chance the council’s survey never gave them.

“It also asks for ideas on how library usage can be encouraged – something the council didn’t seem interested in. It removes the council’s gag and allows people to make positive suggestions for the future of our libraries.”

A county council spokesman said its own consultation, which received more than 21,000 responses, was the “official route” for people to have their say.

He added: “The consul-tation is now closed and the results are being analysed.

“All responses, including the petitions from Sole, will be considered before any decisions are made.”

“No decisions about any library has or will be made until the County Council Cabinet considers the final strategy in the summer.”

The consultation closes on June 11, where the group will display their findings to Essex County Council on June 18.