Library could be sold for £1m after merger with Hove Museum

More than 2,000 people have signed a Save Hove Library petition
More than 2,000 people have signed a Save Hove Library petition

Hove Library, a Grade 2 listed building, could be fetch as much as £1 million.

Hove Library, a Grade 2 listed building, could be fetch as much as £1 million under plans to integrate the library into a new "cultural centre" in an extended Hove Museum.

The plans are aimed at reducing running costs, which could total £2.5 million over the next five years.

They also include the possibility of other mergers, such as Westdene Primary School taking on the Westdene Library building or Hollingbury Library being merged with Hollingbury Children’s Centre.

It the Hove Library proposal, however, that has triggered immediate opposition. A petition created by Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, convenor of the Green Group on the Brighton and Hove City Council has attracted nearly 3,000 signatures.

The petition states: "Hove Library is well used and loved by our community. It is a lifeline to many. It is free to use and popular. It provides great value costing the council taxpayer only 32p per week per person.

"Our library helps our community: 34% of library users have no home internet access and 32% are job-seeking. Over 30,000 children use libraries in Brighton and Hove, ranging from homework clubs to baby boogie. Over 600 people attend reading and writing workshops. Hove Library is home to special collections, provides a safe space, and helps break down barriers."

Peter James, the best-selling crime novelist, signed the petition to oppose closure, but later - in response to Labour activists, who pointed out the library was being re-located - said on Twitter he would "seek clarification of what is happening to all of Hove  library and its services".

Later, the council issued an official statement. It said: "The financial shortfall means that the citywide library service alone needs to save £1.34 million in the next four years.  Across the whole council, savings of almost £70 million have to be made in the next four years.

"If agreed, the proposal would entail integrating the library service into a new cultural centre with Hove Museum a few hundred yards away in New Church Road.  Any change would be subject to extensive public consultation between mid-November and next February."

The statement added: "As a Grade 2 listed building, the premises are hard to upgrade cost-effectively, making modern IT cabling or revenue-generating measures such as a shop or café difficult. Various parts of the building cannot affordably be made accessible to disabled staff or users.

"Officers have advised councillors that the most successful and cost-effective libraries these days tend to be located alongside other council and community facilities in multi-purpose buildings."

Any implementation would not take place before 2017.

Councillor Warren Morgan, the Labour leader of the council, said:  “Relocating Hove Library offers the biggest single potential saving with the least amount of damage to the overall service.  We could vacate the building and still provide a good service for Hove in a new way.

“In times of such huge financial stringency from central government it makes sense to concentrate on the services we offer, rather than the buildings from which they are delivered. In fact, that building makes a modern service more difficult.”

Warren Morgan: We simply cannot afford to keep Hove Library in its current form