Library Cuts: BBC covers cross-party protest against Uttlesford library cuts by Essex County Council

On Saturday Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) organised a resident and cross-party protest in Saffron Walden Market Square against Essex County Council library cuts.

Barbara Light (R4U) Barbara Light (R4U)

Saffron Walden R4U councillor, Dr Barbara Light, who organised the protest, said “Thank you to everyone who came together for our community in freezing temperatures to stand up for our libraries! Local residents of all ages and from the different political parties sent a clear message to Essex County Council to keep their hands off our libraries.”

“This isn’t just about books – our libraries provide a range of community services and are the heart of our towns and villages. They provide vital services, where young children go to play and discover the wonders of knowledge. Where older, sometimes lonely, people go to read newspapers, have a chat, or do a jigsaw or use a computer.”

BBC News Look East covered the protest in the Saffron Walden Market Square.

Cllr Light added “Residents have had enough of endless and mean spirited cuts to our community services. We are the 4th fastest growing district in the UK and we need investment in our libraries – not divestment. Uttlesford is already not getting its fair share of library budget and they now want to close half our libraries and reduce services in the rest.”

“Closing Thaxted and Stansted libraries would only save a paltry £13,000 so it’s clearly not about the money. The current ‘consultation’ on libraries is nothing of the sort. It’s a sham and a lie. Decisions have already been taken to decimate our local libraries as Conservative Essex Councillors John Moran and Sue Barker publicly let slip recently.”

“I have now written twice to the Secretary of State urging a call-in of the ECC consultation and decision as it is based on deeply flawed research and is possibly unlawful. If the Conservatives do close Thaxted and Stansted libraries, Residents for Uttlesford has vowed to find a way to reopen them. We cannot allow our libraries to be destroyed!”

The ECC public consultation on the library closings runs until to 21 February 2019. More information can be found online at https://libraries.essex.gov.uk/libraries-consultation.

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties. R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In the May 2019 R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK. In 2021 the party won half the Essex County Council seats in Uttlesford district.

R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.