Libraries across Essex have been saved from closure. 

Last year Essex County Council unveiled plans to close 25 libraries across the county.

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

Essex County Council had labelled each library under one of four tiers.

Tier 1 and 2 were libraries which would remain open and managed by the council.

Libraries falling into the tier 3 category faced an uncertain future but would continue if a community organisation or partner steps forward to run them.

Tier 4 libraries faced closure.

But at a meeting of full council this morning leader David Finch announced no libraries would be closing. 

He said the consultation had 'galvanized love of libraries'.

Mr Finch said the council would now invest in libraries across the next five years. 

Some libraries will however be run by groups which came forward to say they would be interested in having a role in the centres. 

Mr Finch said: "We are making our libraries fit for the 21st century. 

"We are looking to the future to the use of technology and the use of our website."

Mr Finch said the council would be investing £3 million in libraries. 

He said: "We are investing libraries, we are going to transform them and work with communities." 

Next Monday County Hall will publish its final libraries strategy for approval at Cabinet on July 23.

There was a significant response to the consultation with more than 21,000 responses, more than 1,000 letters and more than 50 petitions received.

The council says the new strategy focuses on two key elements:

• Developing an investment plan to improve libraries
• Work with and support community groups or other partners to set up community run libraries, with the aim of ensuring a library service is retained in every current location.

Since launching the consultation a number of organisations have come forward with an expression of interest to run a community library.

The new strategy commits to supporting those community libraries with a universal offer of support.

Susan Barker, Cabinet Member for Customer, Communities, Culture and Corporate said: “Our future libraries strategy has changed drastically due to what the people of Essex told us. I am delighted that the consultation ignited such passion for keeping the service alive.

“We assured everyone that their feedback would be taken into account, and it has- all our libraries now have a future.”

“This is a new, exciting chapter for libraries in Essex.

"It will be a service fit for the 21 century that is genuinely in the hands of communities and local users, who can help mould it to what they want and need.

"I look forward to sharing the full detail of the strategy with the people of Essex next week”

The future libraries strategy will be published on Monday July 15 as part of the agenda pack for Scrutiny and Cabinet.

The strategy will be discussed at Place Services and Economic Growth Policy Scrutiny Committee on July 18, before a decision on the strategy is made at Cabinet on July 23.

Listen to the Gazette's podcast with Essex libraries' boss Sue Barker from February this year.