A Freedom of Information request published this week has revealed where and how many bids have been made by groups to take over Essex libraries.

The FOI was made by Essex County Council where in total, 80 expressions of interests were made by the end of June 2019 in having community-run libraries.

Within the Epping Forest district the number bids made for the following libraries are: Chigwell: 1, Debden: 2, Buckhurst Hill: 2 and North Weald: 1.

Galleywood and Tiptree libraries top the libraries receiving the most takeover offers with four bid, however, it is believed that Chigwell libraries bid is to be withdrawn.

A spokesmen from the Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE), said: "Essex County Council has at least revealed more than previously, for instance a Harlow campaigner was refused a request to give any information whatsoever about takeover bids for libraries there.”

"However most importantly Essex County Council must reveal who wants to take over libraries.

“If Essex County Council insists on continuing with its unsustainable proposal for so-called 'community libraries' - a closure plan by stealth - as an absolute minimum people should have a right to know who wants to take over their local library. Transparency is essential for democracy."

"For instance it's not that long ago Essex County Council's ruling group's constituency party in Brentwood was embroiled in a scandal about the influence of a highly controversial church.

“Many will remember that the former BBC journalist and Tatton independent MP Martin Bell came in to fight the seat, such was the seriousness of the scandal.

“What if an extreme religious sect wants to take over a library? How are members of the LGBT+ community expected to feel safe?

"SOLE will continue to urge any groups that have submitted bids to run libraries to withdraw those bids.”

Last month Essex County Council announced that no within the county will for another five years, following backlash plans to shut 25 facilities.

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

Each library has since been labelled into four categories, tiers one and two means they will remain open and managed by the council, tier three will be community run and tier means closure.

“Groups should also remember that they won't just have to fund the library, find all the volunteers, buy every book and pay every bill, they will also be expected to house the library,” added the SOLE spokesman.

“It is not their job to run a library. It is Essex County Council's statutory duty."