The number of mobile library stops across Essex could be reduced by 60 per cent as big changes are made to the system.

The controversial plan would see the number of mobile library visits reduced to 213 locations from 557 over a cycle of three weeks.

The council had originally intended to scrap any stops which were less than two miles away from a library building. Following a consultation, this has now been changed to a radius of 1.5 miles.

In addition, the council propose to retain stops if they have been used by one or more visitors on average in the past six months, and keep the most popular stop where two stops serve a single community.

They also want each to stop to be for at least half an hour.

The council has argued that seven of the County Council’s existing nine mobile library vehicles are at the end of the working lives, making them unreliable as well as expensive to replace.

Although they are reducing the mobile library servcie, ECC has proposed that six new volunteer-run community libraries could be coming to Essex.

Councillor Sue Barker, Cabinet member for Culture, Communities and Customers, said: “We’ve listened to what people told us and as a result, changed some of our original proposals.

"More than 1,400 people and organisations took part in the consultation, and of those, 82% supported the proposal to withdraw mobile library stops where there had been no visitors for over six months, 68% agreed with the proposal to extend stop times, and 63% of people agreed that stops which served the same community should be merged.

“We changed our proposals on how far mobile library stops should be away from library buildings, reducing the distance from two miles, to 1.5 miles.

“In the future, our mobile libraries will visit 213 locations over a three-week cycle. This is a reduction from the current 557 stops, but means the service will be viable, and ends the current situation where at some stops, there have been no visitors at all for six months or more.”

The motion will be debated at the Essex County Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, January 23.