A special meeting has been called for the first time in around 20 years in a bid to halt the closure of 25 libraries.

The Liberal Democrat, Labour and Loughton Residents Association groups of Essex County Council have called a special meeting on March 12 into proposals to shut a third of the county's libraries.

If all opposition groups demand such a meeting and a number of other criteria are met, it will be added to the agenda.

According to an email sent by the chairman of the council, Cllr John Jowers, the meeting will likely take place.

Their move comes after 55,000 people signed petitions protesting the planned closure of their local libraries - 11 times more than took part in Police and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst's particularly well received public consultation earlier this year.

Because the public was signing numerous petitions they did not reach the threshold to trigger a debate, leading the three opposition groups to call one in its place.

Chris Pond, county councillor for the LRA, said: "It is going to give the council a chance to rethink their proposals.

"There hasn't been a meeting like this in my time on the council, which is 16 years."

When asked whether he thought Conservative led council would rethink its plans to radically cut down the county's library service following what he described as a "quite overwhelming public response", Cllr Pond was not overly positive.

He said: "My guess is that they will be fairly adamant and not give any ground, but I hope the demonstration of public unity and public opposition will prompt them to say we will think again."

A spokesperson for the county council said: “We are aware that the opposition parties have called for the meeting and this is being dealt with as per the constitution.

"As yet, no meeting has been confirmed.”