CONTROVERSIAL changes to Kidderminster Library’s top-floor gallery will cost about £300,000, if approved.

The announcement from Worcestershire County Council came as the Friends of Kidderminster Library Gallery launched a petition against the changes.

Proposals would see the arts space make way for 90 desks and 139 staff from Worcestershire County Council’s adult and social care and children’s services.

The Steinway grand piano would be moved to the first floor and art space would be provided on the ground floor.

A county council spokesman added: “Due to the current competitive tendering market, however, we hope the building works may come in at a lower figure [than the £300,000].

“We will achieve annual revenue savings of at least £206,000 through coming out of the Elgar House lease [where social care staff are currently based].

“So, in fewer than two years, we will recoup this initial cost. Also, transferring staff to the library will help town centre businesses.”

John Campion, Conservative county councillor with responsibility for the libraries and learning service, said the move was necessary as part of £1.8 million savings to the library budget.

A petition has been sent out by the Friends who oppose the changes. The group includes representatives from the art community, including KAF Creatives and the Classical Music Society.

Graham Kiteley, Classical Music Society chairman, said the plans would “severely reduce the arts facilities in the district”.

“Our enquiries so far have failed to reveal the existence of any other venue in the district that might offer access to a top quality piano,” he added.

“Unless someone comes forward to tell us otherwise, the inevitable conclusion is quality chamber music making by us could well cease after more than 40 years.”