"No statistical evidence" suggesting Tory election poor showing influenced by library closure plan

PUBLISHED: 11:35 17 May 2019

Protests were held in February against the proposed closure of Stansted Library. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Protests were held in February against the proposed closure of Stansted Library. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Roger King

The leader of Essex County Council (ECC) has denied suggestions the poor showing of the Conservative Party in Essex during the local elections was due to the library closure plan.

Essex County Council's proposal to close up to 44 libraries in the county has received significant opposition - not least from authors who have spoken out against the plans.

However, Essex County Council leader David Finch said there was no evidence to suggest the library plan influenced the voting intentions of the electorate.

He said: "I don't think there is any statistical evidence to support the assertion that there was a significant impact in terms of the local election by the libraries consultation."

The Tories suffered heavy losses across the county in the local elections.

Basildon Council, Tendring District Council and Southend Borough Council went to no overall control as the Tories lost seats.

Maldon District Council saw a 25-seat majority slashed to just three by gains from independents.

In Tory target council Colchester, their local group leader lost his seat to the Greens.

They also lost control of Uttlesford District Council to Residents for Uttlesford.

The Tories retained control of Castle Point, Rochford, Braintree, Epping, Maldon and Brentwood councils.

ECC has received 51 expressions of interest across proposed tier three and tier four libraries, which put forward proposals to establish community library services.

As of May 7, only three locations within tier three and seven in tier four are yet to receive an expression of interest.

In a related development David Finch added he is not surprised that Tom Watson, the Labour Party deputy leader, has called for an inquiry into Essex County Council's planned library closures, that he believes is legal and properly run.

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