HUNDREDS of children and their families marched with banners highlighting the importance of their local libraries.

Manningtree campaigners joined 700 protesters as they took to the streets of Chelmsford to march on County Hall on Saturday.

Holly Turner, who launched the Save Manningtree Library Group spoke on behalf of the Save Our Libraries Essex (Sole) group outside the Essex County Council building.

She said: “There was a great group attended from Manningtree, young and old. I made the closing speech of the day and Brenda Wells, from Bradfield, also took to the stage to read some of her own poetry.

“Despite the rain nearly 700 people lined the streets to march, chant and make some noise and send a clear message to Essex County Council that we will not be silenced, and we fight their plans every step of the way. “

The event was the latest in a long line of protests against Essex County Council’s proposals to cut library services across the county, which could see a number close and others face closure or being run by volunteers.

Speaking at the event, Holly said: “I am a nurse, and over the last few years I have witnessed first-hand the impact of cuts to statutory services.

“Services for new parents have been decimated. I found a sanctuary for me, and my infant son, in the library – at the rhyme time.

“I got involved in the campaign to save the libraries, not as an activist or a campaigner but as a mum for whom the library is an essential local service. Libraries get children reading and need to be protected.”

Manningtree’s county councillor Carlo Guglielmi said a three parishes meeting, including Lawford, Mistley and Manningtree, was due to be held last night to look at ways forward if efforts to get Manningtree Library moved from tier 3 (run by volunteers, with county council support) to tier 2 (run by the county council with volunteer support) are unsuccessful.