GREEN councillors have forced controversial plans to close the historic Hove Library building to be put on hold.

Councillors were due to vote on the business case for the sale of the 1908 Andrew Carnegie building in Church Road, Hove, tomorrow but the agenda item was pulled yesterday afternoon.

The proposals were set to be defeated after a Green amendment calling to put the plans on hold received backing from the Conservatives.

Green councillor Ollie Sykes said the business case for selling off the grade II listed building to fund the creation of a new cultural centre with a library 400 yards further west at Hove Museum was riddled with "flaws and inconsistencies".

The deferral keeps alive campaigners’ hopes that the historic building will remain in public use although they warned dropping the item from tomorrow's meeting meant there was no commitment on the Labour administration to explore alternatives.

Council officers have warned rejecting the existing plan could lead to the closure of up to seven community libraries and a potential judicial review against the authority for failing to maintain its statutory duty.

The case for its closure by the council states the ageing building is “expensive to run” at £525,000-a-year and requires repairs of £739,000 over the next five years.

Proposals to sell the Carnegie building for £1 million, for the potential redevelopment of up to seven flats and a ground floor conversion to a café or restaurant, along with the £350,000 sale of Hollingbury Library and an additional £300,000 would pay for a 250 square metre extension at Hove Museum to accommodate new library facilities.

The new cultural centre has been designed to include a café, garden and shop, a purpose built exhibition space, new outside activity space and a new resource room for the Wolseley special collection.

The Green group, who secured 4,500 petition signatures opposing the sale, had called for all work to be suspended while further investigations are carried out to explore alternatives .

Green convenor Phelim McCafferty described the move as a “stay of execution” but warned the battle was “far from over”.

His party colleague Ollie Sykes said: "Greens have been saying for some time now that Labour's figures on Hove library simply don't stack up.

"We are calling on the Labour council to get creative, and our amendment asks for officers to explore alternative options including management of a publicly owned library by the community and voluntary sector."

Council leader Warren Morgan said: "I am keen that further time is given for exploration of the financial options involved if that is what is needed to secure a consensus.

“It is vital that we move forward with this as soon as possible so that the future of the Carnegie building is secured and so that political differences do not undermine a plan that has secured majority public support.”


THE fight to save Hove Library has seen posters put up on trees and letters sent out in response.

Labour’s Tom Bewick said he had been fighting against a “serious misinformation campaign” over the plans to create a new cultural centre at Hove Museum in New Church Road. But the Westbourne member also faced criticism after writing a letter to a Save Hove Library campaigner accusing him of flyposting after posters began appearing on trees and railings in Hove. Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth accused his counterpart of “increasingly desperate tactics” in the face of mounting opposition to the plans to sell the Carnegie building.

Cllr Nemeth, of the neighbouring Wish ward, said: “Now that the business case to close Hove Library has been well and truly ripped apart publicly, Labour members are resorting to increasingly desperate tactics to push through their unpopular scheme.”

Cllr Bewick delivered 200 letters he had printed himself around his ward in response to the Save Hove Library posters. He said: “People don’t have a right to post things on trees and railings around the ward. I have had elderly residents writing to me saying they are worried about plans to knock down the museum and build a new Sackville Tower there, there has been an incredible amount of misinformation.

“If people are unhappy if I write to them telling them they are breaking the law, they shouldn’t break the law.”