Derbyshire County Council Tory leader lays into Labour firebrand Dennis Skinner

Councillor Barry Lewis, Conservative leader of Derbyshire County Council
Councillor Barry Lewis, Conservative leader of Derbyshire County Council

The Conservative leader of Derbyshire County Council (DCC) has accused Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner of making 'misleading' comments in Parliament.

During a debate in the House of Commons last Thursday, 86-year-old Labour politician Mr Skinner - who has represented Bolsover since 1970 - said: "The minister has apparently been doing a tour of various areas, but has he been to Derbyshire? Has he had words with the Tory-controlled county council? Almost its first decision was to close 20 libraries in the county. Get something done about it."

Dennis Skinner, Labour MP for Bolsover.

Dennis Skinner, Labour MP for Bolsover.

DCC plans to ask volunteers to take over and manage 20 libraries in Derbyshire to save £1.6million over three years. The authority's leader Councillor Barry Lewis has publicly stated no libraries will close under his watch.

Speaking to the Derbyshire Times on Tuesday morning, Mr Skinner insisted: "I'm right - I know he's closing 20 libraries."

Coun Lewis said: "At worst Mr Skinner's comments were misleading and ill judged and at best showed poor basic research and understanding of what's going on on his doorstep.

"He's a rarely seen figure at County Hall and so I've written to Mr Skinner to come and meet with me to talk through this and other issues locally.

"I hope he takes it up and takes this opportunity to be better informed on what's happening in Derbyshire and what we're doing to improve life for his constituents."

Firebrand MP Mr Skinner said: "I've no intention of meeting with him.

"Twenty libraries will be closing in Derbyshire.

"They're hoping they can get volunteers to manage libraries - but my discussions indicate they haven't been able to get volunteers anywhere.

"They're closing them."