Culture secretary to probe Northamptonshire library closures

Protestors against the closure of Middleton Cheney Library in the south of the county.
Protestors against the closure of Middleton Cheney Library in the south of the county.

The culture secretary is set to launch an investigation into the way Northamptonshire County Council chose to shut 28 libraries.

MP Matthew Hancock, the minister in charge fo the Department of Culture Media and Sport, will launch a probe into the controversial decision taken last month.

From August 28, small and medium-sized libraries are set to close in Northamptonshire, including Middleton Cheney and Woodford Halse, unless community groups can be found to run them by the end of May.

Mr Hancock has now sent a letter to the acting leader of the county council, Cllr Matt Golby, stating his intentions to launch an investigation.

The news has been welcomed by Northampton North MP Michael Ellis, the Government minister for libraries.

“I am pleased that the Secretary of State for @DCMS @MattHancock has taken the first step of an investigation into #Northamptonshire #Library closures,” he tweeted yesterday.

“#Northampton residents have a legal right to a “comprehensive and efficient library service”.

The probe was the result of concerns raised by the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

In the letter Mr Hancock, wrote: “Under the act I may intervene if I am of the opinion that a local authority is failing to carry out its duty under the act to deliver a comprehensive and efficient library service for library users.

“CILIP claim that the closure of a significant number of static libraries and the mobile library service, together with the establishment of independent libraries outside of the statutory service, means that NCC is failing to deliver its statutory duty.”

A council spokesman told the BBC the authority had held a 12-week consultation before making the closures.