HISTORIC Hove library could close under controversial plans being considered by the city council.

The Argus understands plans are being drawn up to close the grade II listed building to the public in 2017 and move the resources to nearby Hove Museum as part of a major review of the city's library services.

Smaller branch libraries are also said to be at risk of closure and unions have warned of the prospect of cuts to opening hours at other branches around the city.

The move, which is set to provoke a strong opposition campaign similar to 2003’s Save Hove Library campaign, comes as the council attempts to make £25 million of savings in the upcoming 2015/16 budget.

The high cost of maintaining the 20th century building is considered a major factor behind the proposed sell-off of the property.

A library based in a museum is not unprecedented in the city – Brighton Museum and Art Gallery hosted the city’s library prior to the opening of the purpose-built Jubilee Library in 2005.

The Argus has been told that it is expected Hove Museum would need to be extended to offer the same services currently available.

Among libraries thought to be at risk of reduction or closure include Westdene Library with Westdene Primary School taking on the building.

Hollingbury Library is also being considered for a merger with Hollingbury Children’s Centre.

Councillor Garry Peltzer-Dunn, Conservative spokesman for economic development and culture, said he “vehemently opposed” any revival of proposals to house the library in Hove Town Hall but would keep an “open mind” of retaining it in the historic Hove Museum.

He said: “Could the museum house the Hove library facilities within the existing building? Probably not, it would probably have to be extended but it has already been extended to some extent.

“I wouldn’t want a diminishment of the current services offered to the people of Hove.”

The museum move plans could be complicated further by separate plans to move the management of the Royal Pavilion and Museums out of direct council control and into the hands of a trust.

Sources have told The Argus that plans are being considered to establish a similar arrangement to how the Brighton Dome operates.

This long-term arrangement has been criticised as representing poor value for the council which is tied in to giving a subsidy in a 50-year agreement worth around £1.6 million-a-year rising with inflation.

Unison branch secretary Alex Knutsen said: “It’s unclear yet how the trust will be better than how it is run at the moment, it will have similar problems as the council with not enough money to run the service.

“For a few hundred thousand pounds, we would be hiving off the prime tourist attraction in the city.”

GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said: “The council will still have responsibility for the building because that is entrusted to the city and they cannot get rid of that.

“They will have to keep maintaining the building so it will have to be staffing costs that go down.

“But security is already cut to the bone there.

"If they cut anymore, more stuff will go walking out of there.”

Turn to page ten to read library campaigner and former Green councillor Christopher Hawtree’s response to the proposals.