SCHOOLCHILDREN are campaigning to save libraries after a half a million pounds saviour package was rejected.

Pupils from Plumberow Primary Academy, Hockley Primary School and Ashingdon Primary Academy have written to Essex County Council to say why they want to keep Hockley Library open and as a fully funded service.

As homework, the children were set the challenge of writing letters addressed to councillor Susan Barker, who helped put the proposals forward.

Pupils, along with headteachers Ian Barton and Melissa Heatherson, handed in the letters at County Hall on Monday.

The Essex Future Library Services Strategy has marked Hockley Library, along with 18 other libraries run by Essex County Council, as a tier three library.

If proposals go ahead, those marked as tier three libraries could be run by community volunteers with the council’s support. However, the future of those libraries will be reconsidered if there is no suitable offer within six months of county council cabinet bosses approving the strategy.

Those libraries marked as tier four, including Vange Library, will close if the plans go ahead, along with 24 others.

Outrage from residents has sparked countywide campaigns and protests against the proposals.

Residents, Megan Hemmings and Carla Vaughan started a petition to save Hockley library which has been backed by thousands of people.

Megan Hemmings said: “It is important we retain the libraries for future generations rather than closing them.”

Eight-year-old Harrison Vaughan said: “I think it is important to have somewhere people can go to that doesn’t cost anything and where everyone is welcome.

“I don’t like to think how lonely some people would be without our library.”

Essex County Council’s ruling Tories rejected the Labour budget amendment, which would have included an additional £500,000, as a one off investment in the library service this week.

It proposed money could be used to invest in the use of digital media with the libraries and book stocks, to support the promotion of libraries as community hubs and provide digital training to the community.

Councillor Ivan Henderson, leader of the Essex Labour County Group, said: “I am really disappointed with their decision, taking into account the amount of people who have contacted them explaining their views on the consultation. I thought they would have respected the views of the people and supported the amendment to invest and improve the libraries, rather than carry on with unnecessary closures.

“I don’t think there’s much to be proud about in a budget that hurts the most vulnerable people in Essex.”