A CONTROVERSIAL move to install a sculpture centre at Bury Library has come under fire again.

The sculpture centre is set to open in May and Tony Trehy, Bury Council’s arts and museums manager, believes it would make Bury “the envy of the artistic world”.

The installation is being built on the ground floor of the building in Manchester Road, reducing some of the library space.

Angry library users signed a petition, gathering almost 3,000 signatures in February, calling on the council to reverse the decision.

At Bury Council’s full meeting last Wednesday council leaders were quizzed further by members of the public.

Robert Abrahamsen asked how the council could “legitimately justify” a loss of about 60 per cent of floor space after a survey regarding changes to the library did not mention this specifically.

Council leader Cllr Mike Connolly responded: “The review of the library service always made it clear that it would consider the potential for co-location of services.

“During the public consultation there was a very strong public preference for co-located services rather than the reduction of both hours and services.

“Even with the reduction of floor space at Bury, all library services have been retained which in a position of having to cut more than £800,000 from the service is a major achievement.”

The sculpture centre requires a one-off capital investment of £75,000 from the council to cover the cost of adaptations to the building, and has received a £27,000 grant from Arts Council England.

John Connolly asked: “Why does the council think the new Sculpture Centre should have 60 per cent of the library floor space bearing in mind there are 25,837 members of the centre library?”

Cllr Connolly said the library service review was based on the intention to retain all 17 libraries and not to reduce opening hours — and that this had been achieved.