Campaigners are demanding an extension to a public consultation about plans to overhaul library services because they say people have not had enough time.

Essex County Council plans to set up the largest network of community libraries in the country, with a survey launched in November 2021, due to come to a close on January 21.

But Andy Abbott of campaign group Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) said the changes mean "selling off library buildings, getting rid of staff and expecting volunteers and the community to house and run libraries, in effect, turning them into charity shop libraries."

Fellow campaigner and librarian Andrew Coburn told the Epping Forest Guardian "the devil is in the detail" and there is "little time for people to digest information they may not agree with before they respond to the survey."

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He said councils like Dorset are undergoing library changes and have provided the public with "months to respond".

The survey is available online and paper copies are in libraries but cannot be taken out on loan, he added.

Mr Abbott said poor publicity means many people do not even know the consultation is taking place thus contradicting the council's pledge to "improve our communications to engage with our existing users and new audiences".

He added copies cannot be ordered "unless requested by a phone number, which is also not well publicised".

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He added: "The library service takes up a tiny percentage of the council's budget and it would be a shame to see this wonderful service go. We would like Cllr Louise McKinlay to extend the consultation process and rule out this idea of the charity shop library."

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “We have no plans to extend the eight-week period available for completing the survey. This already exceeds the standard six weeks for a consultation, to allow for the Christmas-New Year period.

“The survey has been promoted extensively through a number of channels, both online, in libraries and directly to residents and hard to reach groups. This promotion will continue until the survey closes.

“Residents still have time to have their say on the draft plan and can do so until 21 January at”