The continuing delay in identifying a site for a new Birmingham library sparked a furious political row last night, with Labour accusing the Conservative-Liberal Democrat-led city council of "blind political prejudice".
Labour's onslaught came after the council confirmed the search had narrowed to two options.
Officials are compiling detailed costings for placing the library either inside a refurbished and extended Baskerville House (pictured), in Centenary Square, or building an entirely new structure on adjoining land presently occupied by a car park.
But Labour, which lost control of the council in June 2004, believes neither option is workable.
Ian Ward, deputy Labour group leader, accused the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition of allowing Birmingham to miss a golden opportunity by dropping Labour's plan to build a #180 million library at Eastside.
"They never wanted the Eastside site so they set about producing reports that would recommend placing the library elsewhere.
"It is blind political prejudice that will cost this city dear," Coun Ward (Shard End) added.
He said Baskerville House, a 1930s building, would be unsuitable for a modern library while the cost of a new structure on the car park would be as great as building at Eastside.
The difference was that Government regeneration grant was available for Eastside, he claimed.
The issue was given fresh impetus by council leader Mike Whitby, who is concerned that, almost a year after taking office, the matter of a replacement for the Central Library in Paradise Forum remains undecided.
Only two firm decisions have been taken. Labour's preferred option - plans by the acclaimed architect Lord Rogers for an "iconic" structure at Eastside - has been scrapped on cost grounds. An option to improve and modernise the Central Library has also been rejected.
Almost three months after rejecting Eastside, the council is still no further forward in confirming the cost of the Baskerville House options.
Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) admitted he could not run the risk of failing to identify a site and to get the funding in place by next May's council elections.
Such an outcome would be seized upon by his Labour opponents as an example of indecision to the detriment of Birmingham.
A library team led by David Pywell, the council's strategic director of development, has several weeks to come up with a recommendation. The timescale has been shortened by the ongoing #30 million refurbishment of Baskerville House by developers Targetfollow, who have planning permission to turn the Grade ll-listed building into luxury offices.
Targetfollow yesterday gave a presentation to Mr Pywell's team showing how the building might become a library.
Coun Whitby said: "There comes a time when any developer has to know exactly what it is they are developing."
He said the cost of the new library would be a key factor.
Coun Whitby added: "Our criteria is that the library has to be fit for purpose, acceptable to the people of Birmingham and something that we are all going to be proud of.
"But the issue is definitely one of how do we fund it? What is the most cost-effective method and how soon can we deliver?"
The council has applied to the Government for permission to develop a Private Finance Initiative and is waiting for a decision.