Hunt to make decision on Brent inquiry "next month"

Hunt to make decision on Brent inquiry "next month"

Secretary of state Jeremy Hunt will reportedly make a decision in September if he is to launch an inquiry into library closures in Brent.

Public Libraries News quotes from an email reportedly sent by legal advisors to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Brent library campaign's solicitor this week. The email said: "In relation to investigating complaints made about the Borough of Brent’s decision to close libraries within its area, officials here are in the process of assessing all relevant information on this matter and a decision by the Secretary of State is anticipated in September."

Brent campaigners have already taken their case to the High Court, with a judicial review hearing held last month into the legality of the planned closures. The judge's decision in that case is due in October, with Brent council pledging not to close any of the six threatened libraries until the judgement is issued.

Hunt has received 66 complaints from the public about Brent's library closures, it was claimed during the judicial review hearing. The secretary of state has a duty under the 1964 Public Libraries Act to superintend the service and can launch an inquiry into any local authority's provision if concerned that they are failing to fulfil their obligations to provide a "comprehensive and efficient" service.

A DCMS spokesperson said 66 missives had been received over Brent's library service but added they should be classified as "communications" as not all may have been complaining about the council's plans.