A court ruling against a council that planned to slash its library service could be a turning point in the bid to save Barnet’s libraries, according to a campaigner.

Keith Martin, of campaign group Save Barnet Libraries, said the council could be forced to reverse the changes to its services after Northamptonshire County Council was found to be in breach of its statutory duties over planned library cuts.

The High Court ruled Northamptonshire had not properly considered whether it would be operating a “comprehensive and efficient library service” – a requirement of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.

Mr Martin said: “Things are moving forward. The law is the law, and the Northamptonshire verdict was totally positive for us, as far as I am concerned.

“I think the law will be implemented all over the country.”

But while Northamptonshire planned to close 21 of its 36 libraries, Barnet has kept all 14 of its libraries open.

The council has made some changes to its library services, including reducing the number of hours when staff are present and freeing up space for commercial use.

Mr Martin said: “What Barnet are doing is not so much closing libraries as rendering them unsuitable for the purpose for the purpose for which libraries were created.

“They have spent a huge amount of money on rendering them unfit for use and have not been very clever with taxpayers’ money.”

Library campaigners complained to then-culture secretary Karen Bradley in 2016 and called for a public inquiry into Barnet Council’s changes.

Campaigners said the changes were in breach of the 1964 Act that Northamptonshire was found to have contravened.

But in December last year, arts minister John Glen wrote to council leader Richard Cornelius saying the culture secretary was “minded not to order” an inquiry.

The council held two public consultations before making the changes to its library services.

Councillor Reuben Thompstone, chairman of Barnet Council’s community leadership and libraries committee, claims self-service provision will increase the hours during which people can use the borough’s libraries.

He said self-service had seen “a very positive take-up” from residents.

Councillor Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council, said: “We have not closed any libraries and we don’t intend to close any. The comparison being made is therefore misleading.

“We will continue to implement the redesign of our libraries service, a programme which has allowed us to keep open all of our 14 libraries.”