THE historic Hove Library building will be kept in public ownership for at least two years after a last-minute rescue plan was agreed.

A joint amendment from Conservative and Green opposition groups has prevented council plans to sell off the Carnegie building for £1 million to fund a move to an extension at Hove Museum.

An additional £100,000 has been found from this year's budget underspend to secure the library's immediate future until spring 2018 while council officers have been instructed to draw-up a new report on the long-term future of both Hove library and museum buildings.

A late Labour amendment calling for a further review of up to a year on the library relocation plan was voted down.

A plan to move Hollingbury Library into Hollingbury and Patcham Children's Centre and the Old Boat Community Centre and to sell its current home has also been agreed.

Council leader Warren Morgan and his Labour group came under fire in the meeting with several councillors calling on him to apologise for a controversial leaflet sent round city homes blaming Conservatives and Greens for community library closures.

Senior Labour figures said they hoped to put acrimony aside to work with opposition groups on a revised library plan but warned that doubts around the 108-year-old building's long-term future would resurface.

Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald was among a number of Conservative councillors calling on Cllr Morgan to apologise for the “misleading” leaflets which he described as “disgraceful”.

Cllr Theobald said: “The cinema proposal revealed at the 11th hour after one meeting with a potential operator is a red herring.

“We support 95 per cent of the library plan which is genuinely innovative but we can’t support something that hasn’t been thought through and would sell-off an iconic building that the people of Hove love and have genuine pride in.”

Green councillor Ollie Sykes described the last-minute Labour amendment as a “deeply cynical proposal” to try and shift blame and said the plans had been a “shambolic waste of time and money”.

Cllr Sykes said: “If you cannot get the numbers right and you cannot work with others, what are you doing running the city?”

Labour finance lead Les Hamilton said: “Hove Library costs more than £500,000 a year to run, £10,000 a week, and I don’t think that is sustainable and I think we will keep coming back to this.

“The building is more than 100 years old and needs extra staffing for its large number of rooms.”

His colleague Gill Mitchell said there was a lot of “heat” surrounding the issue and it was important to depoliticise the plans so that all parties could work together on a long-term solution.