Half of the district's library are likely to close under a radical shake-up of the county's services.

Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill, Debden and North Weald will probably shut, plans published ahead of an Essex County Council meeting on November 22 have revealed.

Waltham Abbey, Epping and Chipping Ongar could also have their hours significantly cut and kept open with volunteer support.

Even Loughton library - considered the district's hub - could have its hours reduced.

Essex County Councillor Chris Pond said: "I shall oppose this.

"I believe this will lead the county council foul of their statutory duty in the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.

"Even Loughton, as a hub library, might have its hours and quality of service reduced.

"Buckhurst Hill, Debden, and Chigwell with no library is simply unimaginable."

The plans come as the rate of library loans continues to fall in Essex, with a 43 per cent drop from 7.1m in 2012/13 to 4.1m in 2017/2018.

Over the same period, online loans of eBooks, eAudio and eMagazines rose by 205 per cent, with the demand expected to continue to rise.

Currently the people of Essex are relatively well provided for in terms of libraries, with Essex County Council funding 74 public libraries and two mobile libraries.

This amounts to one library for every 17,325 residents compared to the national average of one for every 22,425.

It also spends just shy of £3 more on libraries per person than the national average.

Under the most radical of three proposed changes, in which dozens of libraries across the county are either run by volunteers or shut, £3.7m would be saved a year.

If only tier four libraries - such as Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill, Debden and North Weald - are closed and the other services remain staffed, £974,000 less would be spent a year.

A 12-week public will run from November 29 to February 20.