CAMPAIGNERS fearful over the potential closure of their town’s library are protesting against plans to have it staffed by volunteer groups.

The future of libraries in Frinton and Walton is under consideration by Essex County Council as the authority looks to “bring libraries into the 21st Century”.

Under a recently closed public consultation, the council announced its plans to close 25 libraries across the county.

Of the 49 which would remain, 19 could be staffed and run by community groups.

Both Frinton and Walton libraries fall into this category, but campaigners worry volunteers wouldn’t have the time to staff the buildings.

Delyth Miles, vice-chair of the recently founded Friends of Walton Library committee, said her town “desperately” needs the facility.

She said: “There is a high population of retired people in the town and people living on their own.

“Many don’t even have computers.

“The county council’s way of counting the number of people coming through the doors is so narrow and only focused on people borrowing books.

“But we know that’s not what a library does these days, that is only one aspect of it.

“We have to act now. We cannot rely on volunteers - that’s grossly unfair. It is another public service that’s being cut in a town that requires its library.

“If you look at our location we have two libraries under threat.”

A community coffee morning is put on at Walton Library every Thursday, while the less technologically able residents use the facility as a means of accessing a computer.

Mrs Miles says as a “deprived” area, Walton needs its library more than most.

“Im not fighting case for Frinton, as it’s not my ward and I don’t think there’s any comparison in terms of deprivation,” she added.

“Walton Primary School came out 28th most deprived school out of 830 odd schools in 2016/17 - what does that tell you?

“60 odd per cent of our year six pupils are pupil premium. On average across the school it’s 40 per cent.

“I despair that the county council can seek to save money on something that is so important.

“I see it as a holistic thing - a way of diminishing isolation for people."

 The pupil premium is a grant given by the government to schools in England to aid the most disadvantaged children.

A county council spokesman said: “We consulted on the draft libraries strategy for 12 weeks.

"Consultation has now closed and the results are being analysed and the draft libraries strategy reviewed.

"No decisions have been made on the future of Walton library nor will they be until the cabinet considers the final strategy.”

Delyth Miles is standing as an independent candidate for Tendring Council’s Walton seat.

The other candidates standing for Walton are: Chris Bee (Ind), Nic El-Safty (Lab), Ann Poonian (Con), Jack Robertson (Tendring First).