Political parties have clashed over “misleading” leaflets issued ahead of next month’s General Election.

The leaflets, released by the Liberal Democrats, include a comment that “under 18s will be barred” from libraries while refurbishment work takes place.

However, Barnet Conservatives branded this a “misleading statement” that could put off students during their exam period.

The Liberal Democrats criticised the Conservatives for changing opening hours during the annual school exams period.

Liberal Democrat candidate for Hendon Alasdair Hill said: “If the Conservatives have the success of our students at heart in this exam season, then why did they decide to close most of our libraries for refurbishment at the exact time they are needed for study?

“This time last year, under 18s had no impediment to use the libraries; now if they turn up without their parents or written permission they are turned away.”

Libraries across the borough have been closed for refurbishment over the coming months to install new systems designed to reduce the need for librarians.

Changes have also been made to staffed hours in libraries, with some only being manned for 15 hours a week.

Cllr Reuben Thompstone, chairman of the children, education, libraries and safeguarding committee, said the Liberal Democrats were risking local children’s education for their own electoral gain.

He said: “Some people disagree with the way we’ve reformed the library service to ensure that, unlike some of our Labour-run neighbours, not a single library has to close down – and they’re entitled to their opinions.

“But peddling fake news to parents alleging their children are ‘barred’ from local libraries not only abuses the democratic process, it’s actively discouraging young people from using their library service.”

Despite producing information about the changes, the new opening hours have caused a furore among residents, with many taking to social media to complain about young people not being allowed access to the library.

Peter Lyons, 57, a father who raised concerns about children’s access, said: “There is no rhyme or reason for it.

“The council has a duty to improve people’s lives, not to make life miserable.”

Mr Hill added: “The Tories’ frustration at being called out for their policy of placing barriers for our pupils to get access to the library is no match to the frustrations that students and parents have that is caused by their skeleton library service.”