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Children's minister asks Hunt to intervene on Brent
24.10.11 | Benedicte Page
The children and families minister Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat MP for Brent, has added her voice to those calling on the secretary of state Jeremy Hunt to order a local inquiry into the borough's library service.
According to a statement on her website, Teather wrote to her ministerial colleague following the High Court decision last week that the Brent library closures were not unlawful, asking him to intervene.
In his judgement, Mr Justice Ouseley indicated that the onus was on the secretary of state to handle any failure in the public library service in Brent unless something had "gone seriously or obviously wrong in law in the information-gathering or analysis process", in which case the court should address the issue. Large numbers of campaigners have also written to Hunt asking him to intervene under his duty within the 1964 Act to "superintend" the proper delivery of the service. So far no decision to intervene has been forthcoming.
A DCMS spokesman said: "We continue to monitor Brent Council’s proposals to reform its public library services. The Secretary of State may intervene if it is considered there is clear evidence of a local authority failing to meet its statutory duties. We continue to monitor the ongoing legal challenge against the public library proposals in Brent."
Teather has also written to Gareth Daniels, the chief executive of Brent council, urging the authority to consider residents' proposals for keeping the six libraries open. She said: "Everyone I talk to in Brent wants the libraries to stay open and I hope that the Labour Council can take this opportunity to reflect on their actions, see sense and start talking to local people.
"Many of the library groups are willing to take the lead in running the six libraries—they just need to be given the chance."