WHEELCHAIR users are still prevented from accessing Oxford's central library despite nearly £6million being spent on a revamp, campaigners have claimed.

Suzi Horsley from Headington attempted to visit the newly renovated library, part of the Westgate Centre, over Christmas but found her wheelchair couldn't fit in the lifts which weren't updated in the project.

The 34-year-old uses a standard-issue NHS wheelchair and said the 'tiny' lifts effectively prevent access to the library to anyone in a wheelchair, as well as parents with large buggies.

The mother-of-three said: "It's ridiculous that I'm unable to use the public library - the main public library in the middle of a new multi-million pound shopping centre - because of the lift.

"I could get inside but the doors wouldn't close as it's ridiculously small and my wheelchair stuck out.

"I don't know what the hell the council is playing at, something has to be done about this.

"Disabled people are some of society's most marginalised and access to public libraries is an invaluable and necessary resource and to be prevented from accessing the main library is unbelievable."

The library, one of the busiest in the country, reopened on December 19 after an 18 month refurbishment.

Oxfordshire County Council, which runs all of the county's libraries, spent £3.6m and the Westgate Centre’s developers contributed about £2m for the work that was supposed to make the library 'fit for the 21st century.'

The front of the building, including its entrance foyer and frontage, was transformed as part of the Westgate Centre redevelopment, a new curving wall and feature windows were installed and children's library extended.

The council was originally planning to replace the lifts as part of the project but has blamed 'demand in the construction sector' for this not being possible.

It is now hoped that the lifts will be replaced in six to nine months time.

Owen Morton, a spokesman for the council, said: "We’re well aware there’s an issue with the size of the lifts at the county library, which have been in place for a number of years.

"We wanted to get them replaced during the recent closure but this wasn’t possible at the time, due to major demand on lift products within the construction sector.

"That peak in demand has now passed and we’re aiming to get new and bigger lifts installed.

"The detail is yet to be assessed but we hope to get the work done within the next six to nine months.

"It is absolutely right that attention has been drawn to this ongoing issue and we are determined to improve facilities for wheelchair users.

"We have been in contact with Ms Horsley and always welcome discussion about ways in which accessibility could be improved at our libraries.”

But disability rights campaigner Pete Carter, from Littlemore, said the problems underlined how access for disabled people is 'always the last thing on anybody's mind.'

The 64-year-old added: "It's sad but it doesn't surprise me.

"Unfortunately this sort of thing is typical for developments. Nobody thinks about us until the last minute.

"Every day of my life I face these sorts of problems, of being unable to access buildings or rely on strangers in order to get around.

"I've seen no improvements despite the increased awareness of the issue."

Ms Horsley, who has an inherited condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and has only required a wheelchair in the last 18 months.

She is now calling on the council to create a paid panel of disabled people to assess library sites for accessibility.

The operations assistant from Headington added: "This is just another example of the many ways disabled people are denied access to public services and spaces.

"The council does run a 'to your home' service and has a reasonable e-book collection but libraries are about so much more than books.

"There are many social aspects to a library, not to mention access to internet and periodicals, that you can't offer at home.

"The council says it is aware of the issues and creating a panel would be a step towards change."