ON Friday 6 January, Thurrock Council was alerted to an incident at East Tilbury Library.
Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue were both in attendance after a car had been driven into the door of the community library which led to a fire.
Cllr Sue Macpherson was there on the day and said: “Upon initial outside inspection, there was clearly lots of damage to the library – we couldn’t access the building because of the structural damage.
“My obvious concern was the irreplaceable Bata collection which was located very near to the damaged car. Our friends at the Bata Heritage Centre, were there on the day with me. It was sad we came together under such challenging circumstances.”
Mike Tarbard, chair of the Bata group said: “This remains a very difficult time for the Bata Heritage Centre volunteers as well as the local community. We, at the Centre, are extremely grateful to the Council, 1 Big Storage and the local community for their initial and continued support.
“There is much work to do to bring our collection back to how it was before the fire and it is very likely that some irreplaceable items will have been lost. Discussions will continue with the Council to try and move matters forward.
“The volunteers, though, do look forward to discussing the Council’s plans for the future of East Tilbury library and the Heritage Centre and hopefully, between us, East Tilbury library and the Centre will be an even better place to visit in the future than it was before this mindless act.”
Since that day, Thurrock Council has been able to remove some Bata items and stored them at 1 Big Storage, located across the road – who kindly donated some space after hearing what had happened.
Cllr Macpherson explained: “Not everything can be moved yet; access to the building remains difficult until remedial works can take place to ensure visitors to the building are safe. The structural engineer visited the library last week and after their report is shared, we can expect the works to start.
“There was also a further incident over this weekend (Saturday 14 January) and I encourage everybody to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.”
Interim arrangements have been made with the Post Office in East Tilbury. On Tuesdays (10am – 1pm) and Thursdays (2pm – 5pm) library users can return books and take books from a very small collection but library card users can use any library in Thurrock, Southend and Essex.
Remember, you can renew your books online, visit: Thurrock.gov.uk/libraries for more information.