COMMUNITY representatives fighting to see Manningtree Library spared the axe have decided not to offer to run it themselves.

Members of Lawford, Manningtree and Mistley councils held an informal meeting to discuss the future of Manningtree’s library last Thursday.

Essex County Council wants to shut a third of its libraries, while it hopes volunteers will run others, in a bid to save £2 million.

But attendees of last Thursday’s meeting decided not to submit an Expression of Interest to the county council in the hope it would help to save the library service as it is.

Essex County Council has ranked each library under one of four tiers.

Tier one and two libraries will remain open and managed by the council. Libraries falling into the tier three category face an uncertain future but will continue if a community organisation or partner steps forward to run them.

If no suitable offer is made and accepted within six months of the council’s cabinet approval of its library strategy, a further consultation will be launched on the library’s future.

Tier four libraries face closure.

Holly Turner, part of the Save Our Libraries Essex campaign, said it was decided at the meeting no Expression of Interest would be put forward for the library to be run by volunteers.

She said: “There was some anxiety among councillors who were not aware of the further consultation period which is extending to next summer if no expression of interest was submitted.

“I argued we should use the extra year to extend and strengthen our campaign; explore alternative options and foster wider community participation in library based groups and events.”

Holly added there needs to be more transparency with the consultation process.

Carlo Guglielmi, Manningtree councillor, said he wanted to put forward an Expression of Interest.

He said: “Campaigners still think the district council might take over the library.

“But it is really unlikely the district council will take it over so I wanted to put forward a sustainable proposal for a community run library.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said no decisions about any libraries have been made yet. He said: “After the full analysis of the survey results is completed, the final version of the Future Library Service Strategy will be presented to cabinet later this year.

“Once a strategy has been approved by Essex County Council, there will be a six month period where we would seek community interest in running library services.

“The draft strategy suggested that if after six months suitable partners cannot be found in some locations, we intend to consult on the future of all those tier three libraries where there are no firm plans for them to be run by community or partner organisations.

“If cabinet agrees then, this six month period may be extended to up to 12 months if proposals have been received but not agreed - or if we believe that proposals are likely to be forthcoming.”