Youngsters stepped up their campaign to save the borough’s libraries on a visit to Westminster this week.

Children from Barnet delivered an invite to culture secretary Jeremy Wright to tour the borough’s libraries in September.

It was handed to the department for culture, media and sport representatives Simon Richardson and Sheila Bennett on Monday (July 23).

Mr Richardson, who is head of libraries, has been handling the Save Barnet Libraries’ (SBL) complaint, while Ms Bennett is head of libraries strategy and delivery and head of the libraries task force team.

SBL has been protesting at the council’s library policies, including reduced access for youngsters.

The changes mean children under the age of 15 cannot visit the libraries outside of staffed hours without being accompanied by an adult.

Erini Rodis of SBL, who attended the protest with her two children, said: “The protest went very well, and we hope the new culture secretary will accept the children’s invitation to be shown around Barnet libraries.

“I think it would really help him to understand what it’s like when pin codes replace staff and children and many other vulnerable users have very little access to the library. We need the staff back”.

Eleven-year-old Jake Moss, from East Finchley, said: “I hope the culture secretary comes down to visit us, so we can show him around. I am about to go to secondary school, but I still can’t get in to my library most of the time.”

Six-year-old Gabriel Rodis, who attends Martin Primary School, added: “Are we going to come and shout at the government every year? It’s not fair to be locked out of the library just because my mum forgot her card.

“My friend has a library card, but his mum doesn’t go because she works so they can’t go into the library.”

Barnet Council claims the changes to its library policies have allowed it to keep all of the borough’s libraries open while other local authorities have had to make closures.

It says the restrictions on youngsters’ access to libraries were imposed for safety reasons.

Councillor Reuben Thompstone, chairman of Barnet Council’s community leadership and libraries committee, said: “Once fully implemented, self-service opening will see the hours libraries are available to our residents increase to around 900 a week, compared to 630 hours under the previous model.

“There has been a very positive up-take from people, with more than 25,000 residents already signed up.”

He added that children can make use of extended opening hours when accompanied by an adult and said a survey of youngsters showed satisfaction with libraries had gone up.

Cllr Thompstone said: “Our libraries continue to offer specific services aimed at children and teenagers, and we are always striving to make sure libraries give children the best start in life, developing language, literacy and learning skills, and a love of reading from an early age.”