PLANS to move Rubery Library into a church have been branded 'barmy' and 'offensive' by a local Labour leader.

Discussions are underway between St Chad's CofE Church and Worcestershire County Council, which claims the current two-storey Library Way building requires 'significant investment', although an official proposal is yet to be made.

But district councillor for Rubery, and leader of Worcestershire Labour Group, Peter McDonald is hoping to 'put an end to the proposal before it begins'.

He said: "I'm shocked and appalled that these discussions have gone on in secret before a consultation with local residents.

"The county council clearly doesn't recognise the beliefs or thoughts of other faiths, who will no longer be able to access Rubery Library if this move goes ahead.

"Education is meant to be secular and independent of all religions. You should be able to access your local library whether you're a Christian, Muslim, humanist, atheist or whatever.

"Equally inappropriate is having books like 50 Shades of Grey on display in a church.

"The council is more interested in selling off the old building and its land, but the money they'd save would never go back into Rubery - we'd never see it again. They need to leave Rubery Library alone where it has existed and served the community for 50 years."

The county council, however, insists that sharing library space with other services would save the taxpayer money.

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for communities, said: "The existing Rubery Library building requires significant investment if it is to continue to provide the best library experience for customers.

"We are considering all options at the moment and we would like to assure all residents that a full consultation would take place before any formal proposal to change the location of Rubery Library is put forward."

A spokesman for St Chad's Church added: "St Chad’s is a modern, multifunctional building in the heart of Rubery which, like any Church of England church, belongs to its community.

"Due to its flexible and accessible interior, the church building is already used by various local community groups, schools, youth services and businesses.

"The church welcomes these community groups, irrespective of religion, and is happy for most secular activities to take place within its walls.

"Participation in Christian worship should always be the choice of the individual.

“St Chad's seeks to be a church at the heart of its community and to that end is always open to conversations with community groups and statutory service providers who may wish to work with us."