The government could still intervene in the controversy over Brent Council’s decision to close half of the borough’s libraries.
The Culture Minister stated in a written parliamentary answer to a question from Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders:
Since issuing the ‘minded to’ letter of 14 February 2012 [PDF, 694kb] to Brent council, the Department has received a formal shared response on behalf of several local Brent groups, and around 60 other items of correspondence from Brent residents. The matter remains under consideration.
Leading library campaigner and Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Lorber said:
This is a sign that the government is starting to realise the huge damage that the library closures have caused, and also the appalling way in which the council has handled the process.
There is no excuse for Labour’s efforts to frustrate the voluntary work of library campaigners, including deliberately triggering the reverter clause which transferred Kensal Rise and Cricklewood Libraries out of the council’s ownership.
The full question and answer read:
Adrian Sanders (Torbay, Liberal Democrat)
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport
(1) with reference to his Department’s minded to letter of 14 February 2012, when he expects to make the decision on whether to intervene by way of a local inquiry into Brent council’s library plans; and how many substantive representations he has received on his Department’s minded to decision;
(2) whether he plans to intervene in respect of the library plans of (a) Gloucestershire county council, (b) Somerset county council, (c) Isle of Wight council, (d) Lewisham council, (e) Doncaster council, (f) Bolton council and (h) other library authorities.
Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)
Since issuing the ‘minded to’ letter of 14 February 2012 to Brent council, the Department has received a formal shared response on behalf of several local Brent groups, and around 60 other items of correspondence from Brent residents. The matter remains under consideration.
On 3 September 2012 I issued letters to the Isle of Wight council, Lewisham council and Bolton council, setting out that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is not minded to intervene by way of a local inquiry into their library services.
Copies of the letters to the local authorities are available on the website of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport at www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/libraries/3416.aspx and will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.