TOWN councillors have rejected a "ridiculous" plea by County Hall for them to take over the running of Frinton and Walton's libraries "for a pittance".

Earlier this year Essex County Council said it would not be shutting any libraries after thousands of people campaigned against its plans.

It had proposed closing as many as 25 libraries and of the remaining 49, up to 19 could have been staffed by community groups.

But following the backlash, the county council said will not close any libraries in the next five years.

Volunteers and community groups have instead been offered a grant of £18,000 across three years, an initial donation of books and training for staff to run libraries.

Campaign group Save Our Libraries Essex (Sole) called on community groups to withdraw their offers warning of the “impossible job” community groups would face.

It previously accused libraries boss Susan Barker of “putting a gun to people’s heads” over the future of libraries.

Frinton and Walton Town Council has now received a request from County Hall for it to take on a community-run library.

Sole wrote to all councils pointing out that Essex County Council has said it will continue to run libraries with or without volunteers and that there is no need for any groups to come forward to run a library to prevent its closure.

Frinton and Walton Town Council unanimously rejected the request to take on the libraries at a meeting on Thursday.

Frinton councillor Terry Allen said: "It is the county council's responsibility to provide a comprehensive library service, providing social inclusion, general information and education for both adults and the younger generation.

"This can only be done on a countywide scale, because of the resources they have got.

"It is a cop out for them to offer it to local community groups to run for a pittance.

"The money runs out after three years - and then what happens to the libraries?

"It's ridiculous."

Walton councillor Ann Oxley added: "The leader of Essex County Council has categorically said they will keep libraries open for the next five years, so why would we - when we never said we would do it in the first place - consider taking it on?"

Jerry Wedge, clerk of the town council, said the council had simply responded to the council's consultation and had never expressed an interest in running the libraries.

He added "The council never really debated running the library itself.

"We had sent a very steely reply that we want the county council to keep the library open and run by professional librarians."