Campaigners and councillors have reacted angrily to news that a report on the council’s library provision has been postponed.

A review of changes to the library service – including reductions to staffed hours and study space – was set to be discussed at Barnet Council’s community leadership and libraries committee on Thursday (March 7).

But committee chair Cllr Reuben Thompstone told the meeting the review had been postponed because the council was still waiting for the Government to rule on a complaint by library campaigners.

In December 2016, pressure group Save Barnet Libraries lodged a complaint with The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) alleging that changes to the library service were in breach of the law.

The council reduced staffing levels and the amount of space available in libraries as part of an overhaul of the service in 2017.

Save Barnet Libraries claims the changes were in breach of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and the Equalities Acts 2010.

The campaign group is particularly concerned that staff cuts mean children under the age of 15 can no longer access libraries at certain times unless they are accompanied by an adult.

Cllr Sara Conway, Labour member for Burnt Oak, said: “We have been raising since last Autumn the need for an interim report.

“You say you are hoping to hear from DCMS – you could wait forever.”

Cllr Danny Rich, Labour member for West Finchley, asked the committee chair if he had any idea when DCMS would respond.

Cllr Thompstone answered: “Soon.”

Conservative member for High Barnet Cllr David Longstaff said: “We write to the DCMS every single month and we are waiting for them to respond.

“They have indicated ‘very soon’ but did not give a timeline.”

Barbara Jacobson, a member of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services, said the council was failing to live up to its promise to maximise access to libraries.

She said: “You have discriminated against children by forbidding independent access. You have minimised rather than maximised the service by not having staff present.

“Children who revise for exams need space in libraries. Students study all year round – they need trained staff.

“Who decided the review should be delayed? It is not right. The review should be on the agenda plan.”

Cllr Conway said the Labour Group was “very disappointed” the review had not come before the committee and called for an urgent meeting to look at providing access for children in the run up to the summer months.

Cllr Reema Patel, Labour member for Coppetts, said it was “ridiculous” that councillors were not allowed to discuss libraries at the meeting.

Cllr Thompstone pledged to continue pushing DCMS for a response to the complaint.