PLANS to move the Central Library from the Thameside complex to the new civic office could be paused.

The leader of Thurrock Council’s Labour Group, John Kent, has called for a rethink on proposals to move the Central Library from the Thameside Complex in Grays.

The future of the complex is currently under review as the council strives balance its budget but Mr Kent said moving the library might not be legal.

He said: “The provision of library services is a statutory duty on councils under the 1964 Library Act. The Act is very clear that any decision to withdraw or change services cannot be primarily financially motivated.

“Any decision must, by law, be based on the evidenced need of the local population and the council needs to take into account not only current but future demographic change in the local population.”

Mr Kent added: “When the future of the Thameside was discussed at the corporate overview and scrutiny committee meeting, on November 16, the case presented to members was entirely financially driven.

“Before they can make any decisions about closing or moving the library they need to demonstrate they have fully considered the fact that there is a significantly higher proportion of younger children in the Grays population who will already have been disadvantaged by the interruption to learning caused by Covid.

“These proposals run the risk of disadvantaging them still further.”

Mark Coxshall, councillor responsible for regeneration, strategic planning and external relations, dismissed Mr Kent’s call to halt the move.

He said: “He is wrong. We are moving it because it’s the best thing to do. Southend has a library near its council offices.

“It’s not about saving money. We are still working with the Thameside group and no decision has been made.”

The Thameside campaign group are said to be considering taking over the complex themselves.

Mr Coxshall added: “They are very exited about it and moving the library will give the theatre group more space.

“ If they come up with a good financial plan then there could be a preliminary decision by January.”