PLANS to close the historic Hove Library were last night approved by councillors despite fierce opposition from campaigners.

Brighton and Hove City Council voted in favour of the Libraries Plan 2016-2020 which means the closure and sale of the grade II listed Carnegie building in Church Road.

The plan was heavily criticised and was opposed with a petition signed by more than 4,000 people from the Save Hove Library campaign appealing for the site to be spared the axe.

Library services will be transferred to the nearby Hove Museum.

A one storey extension at the rear of the museum will be built for the proposed move which would be funded by the sale of the old building.

The Labour administration warned that not carrying through with the plan could lead to the closure of up to seven smaller branches.

The authority said closing the historic building would save them £350,000 a year and said repairs needed to the more than 100-year-old building were estimated at £750,000.

Councillor Alan Robbins said the building was “inflexible and outdated” and Council leader Warren Morgan boasted the plan promised a "bold future" libraries.

However the authority was criticised by both opposition groups who tore into their figures and lambasted the public consultation for having leading questions.

The Tories were critical of the lack of a business plan for the sale of the purpose built library, which was funded by famed Victorian philanthropist industrialist Andrew Carnegie.

Councillor Tony Janio said: “Although I understand 99.9 per cent the very one question which has not been answered is the future of the Hove Library building.

“It is like building a jigsaw and then leaving one small part out, that is not a complete jigsaw.”

Councillor Ollie Sykes said: “This is a political decision to cut this amount of money from the libraries budget.

“The language used has been talk or merger, which reminds me very much of talk about the merger of the Melville Road Post Office, now when you walk past it is closed, and in two years’ time when you walk past Hove Library, that will be closed as well.”

The libraries plan also includes details about extended opening hours of other services across the city.

A business plan for the sale of the historic building to fund the merger will now be presented to the policy and resources committee.