Bradford Central Library will be opened properly by next March – more than 18 months after it was identified as a serious fire risk.

The Telegraph & Argus exclusively reported last October that emergency work had to be carried out to make the central staircase safe because, in its former state, it would act as a makeshift flue in the event of a blaze.

Most of the eight-floor building has been closed since then, with just the ground and first floor open to the public.

But that will change next March when the ground, first and second floors are opened up following a three-month closure starting from January to allow the work to be carried out.

More archive, local studies and non-fiction material will then be available.

It is not yet known what will happen with the rest of the floors as it is believed they will still pose a fire risk.

The news comes three months after executive members of the Council gave the go-ahead for £900,000 of cash to be used to make the building safe in June.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, portfolio holder for employment, skills and culture, defended the delay on work starting.

“These things take time,” she said. “It is a lot of money for us to spend and our first public consultation meeting is with the Friends of Bradford Local Studies group on October 3 at the library from 10.30am.

“There will be more local history and non-fiction in the space available with the changes. There is currently no access to toilets, so with these changes there will be access to toilets.

“What we need to do is consult how we spend the money and what we spend it on. We need to make sure we spend it wisely and well.”

Council contractors will undertake all the safety work.

Bob Duckett, editor of the Bradford Antiquary, had called for a Friends of Bradford Local Studies group to be set up to tackle issues including the loss of space for readers and stock, reduced availability of material and the pressure on staff.

He said: “With the decline in the number of staff to provide an informed front-line enquiry service and also to do the indexing, conservation, digitisation and storage necessary to provide that service now and in the future, there is a threat to the continuance of this service.

“Anyone interested in Bradford past, present and future will be welcome at this meeting.”

The Council will put out a questionnaire following the meeting, which will be available in district libraries and online.