Summary of the Complaint Process
The Culture Secretary, (currently Matt Hancock MP), of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCMS) has a legal duty to make sure that local authorities provide a "comprehensive and efficient" library service that "meets the needs of all users" under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.
The Culture Secretary can order an inquiry to decide if the local authority is meeting its obligations. He/she has the power to order a local authority to change its plans and reverse cuts. In Lancashire, the local authority is now in the process of reopening libraries as a result of the Secretary of State's intervention.
Save Barnet Libraries submitted a complaint in December 2016 calling on Karen Bradley to hold an inquiry. In July 2017, we received an acknowledgement from DDCMS that our complaint was serious enough to merit further investigation. In October 2017, we updated the complaint, showing evidence about the impact of the cuts.
In December 2017 we received a preliminary decision that the Culture Secretary is "minded" not to intervene, with a deadline for further evidence of 2 February 2018 at 5pm. We believe the preliminary decision is not properly made because it does not consider any of the evidence of poor implementation and unforeseen consequences that we presented in October 2017.
Now, evidence from schools and organisations working with older people and those with disabilities will be crucial to help to show the disastrous impact of the cuts on Barnet library users now and in the future. See our model letter for schools and those working in schools (link on home page).