As part of my ministerial role I am the minister with overall superintendence of libraries and I have been all around the country visiting and opening new libraries and witnessing first-hand their huge importance to communities and those who use them.
As a local Northampton Member of Parliament, I am appalled by the current situation in our county over the threat to our libraries.
The survival of 21 libraries within Northamptonshire, including for example Kingsthorpe and Abington, is under threat due to the previous leadership of Northamptonshire County Council.
The previous local authority leadership failed to grasp the importance of libraries and the current situation is simply not good enough.
Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) have a budget of many hundreds of millions of pounds and keeping the libraries afloat would cost a mere fraction of this budget. I do not accept that libraries need to be closed down for NCC to balance their books.
Recently I was interviewed on BBC Radio Northampton and BBC Look East to call on the current local authority leadership at NCC to have a fresh look at this issue and recognise the importance of libraries. It is right that those around the county who have worked so hard to keep our libraries open continue the fight.
I have called on NCC to halt the closures of the libraries in our county for the good of my constituents.