A TOWN’S participation in a countywide campaign to prevent the closure of libraries is set to be recognised next week at an awards ceremony.

Back in 2018, Essex County Council controversially announced plans to shut down 25 of the county’s 74 libraries, while also casting doubt over the future of 19 others.

The announcement prompted a staggering response from bookworms and celebrities alike and protestors consistently took to the streets to make their voices heard.

Famous authors such as David Walliams and Jaqueline Wilson were particularly vocal in their support of the activists, as well as comedian David Baddiel.

Eventually, the council made a dramatic U-turn and announced there would no closures in the next five years but some libraries would need to be run by community volunteers.

The Save Manningtree Library campaign was instrumental in organising several events throughout the year which highlighted locals’ love for their library.

In April, 500 people marched throughout the town in protest of the proposed closures, before hundreds enjoyed a Love Our Library street party in September.

Manningtree Town Council has now decided to recognise the campaign group’s remarkable efforts by honouring members with the Community Engagement Award.

Holly Turner, from Save Manningtree Library said: “I’m delighted that the Save Manningtree Library group have been recognised and rewarded for all of their hard work and tireless campaigning.

“We are all so grateful to Manningtree Town Council for its continued support and this further evidences this community is united and won’t give up their fight against Essex County Council’s abysmal plans.”

Despite Essex County Council retracting their proposal to close libraries, Save Our Libraries Essex believes they are still trying to stealthily implement their initial plan.

The authority has offered a grant of £18,000 to volunteers and community groups to use over three years to keep certain libraries running.

But SOLE believes the format isn’t sustainable in the long run and will ultimately lead to libraries being forced to shut down, a claim refuted by the county council.

A SOLE spokesman said: “People power has achieved so much this year in preventing the immediate closure of a third of Essex’s libraries. It is great to see one of our most active campaigns receive recognition for this.”

The award ceremony will take place at the Manningtree Red Lion in South Street on Thursday January 9 at 7pm.