A bid to derail plans to install a sculpture centre in Bury Library has failed.

Bury’s Conservative councillors put forward a motion at last Wednesday’s full council meeting, calling on the current footprint and services of the library to be maintained.

However Labour councillors voted the motion down, and labelled it as “opportunist, disingenuous and hypocritical”.

The motion, which was also backed by Bury’s two Liberal Democrat councillors, claimed there was “no cultural, educational and economic argument to support” the installation of the sculpture centre.

Earlier in the meeting, Sue Smith, of protest group the Friends of Bury Library, said that their petition against the plans, which has now closed, had received 2,955 signatures.

The sculpture centre, which is set to open in May, 2014, requires a one-off capital investment from Bury Council of £75,000, and has received a grant of £27,000 from Arts Council England.

Speaking at the meeting, council leader Cllr Mike Connolly paid tribute to the campaign led by Ms Smith, and said he would meet with the group.

Petitions which contain 2,500 signatures or more are debated by full council, which allows the organiser of the petition to present their argument, followed by discussions from councillors.

Cllr Connolly said: “I think Ms Smith has worked very hard in the community and credit to her for that.

“Let’s be clear: opening hours are not changing. There has been an awful lot of rumour and myth around these proposals.

“I am more than happy to meet with the Friends of Bury Library. These proposals have never changed; they have always been part of the library review and Plan for Change.”

“We have been open and transparent, and once we have had the petition checked and verified I will be more than happy to talk.”

After a lively exchange between councillors, Tory deputy leader Cllr James Daly, who moved the motion, claimed that in voting against the motion, they had treated the views of those who signed the petition as “contemptible”.

Cllr Daly said: “Have a go at me and my colleagues, but don’t treat the views of the people of Bury as contemptible, as you have done tonight.”

A planning application has been formally received by Bury Council to allow the sculpture centre to open, and a decision is expected by January 23.