THE cost of installing lifts which can be used by the disabled at Oxford’s new library is £270,000, it has emerged.

Last month Oxfordshire County Council said it was planning to replace foyer lifts at the Westgate library, which was revamped at a cost of almost £6m.

The county council provided £3.6m with Westgate Centre developers paying £2m.

But lifts accommodating standard issue NHS wheelchairs were not fitted at the Oxfordshire County Library and people who can not use the stairs are unable to get to the bookshelves.

The council has pledged to start work next month to replace the defunct lifts but said the schedule would take a year to complete.

Responding to a question from Labour county councillor Emma Turnbull at the council meeting on Tuesday, Eddie Reeves, cabinet member for transformation, said: "We have been in discussions with the contractors to find solutions that ensure that one lift from the foyer through to the second floor remains operational during the length of the ongoing works. We have now received tenders and will shortly be placing the order to replace the existing lifts with a more modern and wider unit. The new lifts are designed to meet the needs of users of wheelchairs, those with prams and for use in the event of an emergency.”

Ms Turnbull said after the meeting: "It's a disgrace that the needs of disabled people weren’t considered when the new library building was being designed and built."

The first lift is expected to be in operation by August 2019 and on completion of the installation and commissioning of the first lift, works will continue to the second lift.

Completion of both lifts will take approximately a year to complete. A council spokesman said the £270,000 covered three lifts - two for customers in the foyer, and a third at the back of the building, a goods lift.

One of the people who complained about the lifts was Suzi Horsley, a mum-of-three from Headington, after she discovered her wheelchair would not fit. She said at the time: “I could get inside but the doors wouldn’t close as it’s ridiculously small and my wheelchair stuck out.”

Pensioner Robert Light, from Kidlington, who uses a wheelchair, said: “If the council had planned this better then money could have been saved.”