COUNCILLORS have reacted after two libraries in and near Halstead were saved from closure following months of campaigning from residents, celebrities and protest groups.

Libraries in both Sible Hedingham and Earls Colne were facing the threat of being shut down after Essex County Council unveiled plans last year to close 25 of the community hubs as part of its Future Libraries Strategy.

But after a public consultation highlighted that an overwhelming majority of people were actually against the proposal, the council had a dramatic change of heart, announcing its revised decision during a meeting earlier this week.

As a result, both the Sible Hedingham and Earls Colne library, alongside 23 others, will now remain open and also receive a cut of the proposed £3 million Essex County Council has promised to invest into the county's book clubs.

Hedingham district councillor Hylton Johnson said: "I am absolutely delighted – I really am.

"We have worked very hard. The library is an essential part of the village structure, greatly benefitting many residents that use it, children's groups and so on.

"It is very, very important and it would have been an absolute tragedy if it had closed – it must be kept in place.

"We did campaign very hard on this during the recent elections. I have made several visits to the library to talk with the staff.

"This decision will please very many people."

Under county hall’s initial plans, the library in Earls Colne was one of several that would have needed to be run entirely by volunteers if it wished to stay open.

Had the closure gone ahead, the council would have still been involved in the running of the facility, but zero funding would have been available to pay any staff.

Councillor for The Colnes Gabrielle Spray said: “I am delighted with the decision by ECC not to close any libraries and, in particular, pleased it means Earls Colne Library is to remain open.

“The way that the library is used has changed over the years, but it is still an important part of village life.

“Everyone who campaigned so hard against the closures is to be congratulated on making their voices heard.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council added: “The response to our consultation was impressive to say the least and Essex County Council has listened to the what the people of Sible Hedingham and the rest of the County have told us.

"The detail of our plans will be published next week and what we must seek to do is translate the passion which people demonstrated for their local libraries into ideas and action

"I’m looking forward to seeing that work develop in Sible Hedingham and across Essex.”