CONCERNED councillors fear an increase in social isolation among Tendring's elderly if libraries are axed by County Hall bosses.

Residents have been left outraged at plans to close libraries across the county, including the “much-loved” library in Holland-on-Sea.

As many as 25 of Essex’s 74 libraries are set for closure under plans set out by Essex County Council.

The authority claims traditional library use has “collapsed” in the last ten years.

Holland Library, in Frinton Road, has been earmarked for closure, while bosses hope Brightlingsea, Frinton, Walton and West Clacton libraries will be run by community groups.

A consultation on the plans closes on February 20 and the final proposals will be published in June.

Tendring Council’s Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee has discussed the issue and has made recommendations to the authority’s cabinet on what its response to the consultation should be.

It said it strongly disagreed with the ‘evaluation criteria’ set out by County Hall to judge the need for each library.

The need is mainly based on a library’s location, usage and population with less emphasis placed on deprivation and social isolation.

The committee said: “We do not consider that it is an accurate reflection of the use of libraries just to rely on where a library card has been used.

“Many people use the library for other reasons, including research, social engagement and access to IT.

“In many communities the library is a place where people can go to engage with others.

“With loneliness as an ever-growing issue, particularly amongst the elderly population, Tendring Council feels it is counter intuitive to be considering closing libraries when these are often the places that are at the heart of communities.”

The committee added that it disagreed with proposal to invite community groups or other organisations to run some libraries.

It said: “It is felt that using volunteers is not always reliable and could result in libraries not being manned or not being open.

“There is also a loss of knowledge which experienced librarians have.

“The thrust of the approach should be about how to keep libraries open rather than potential for closure.”

To have your say on the consultation, got to