The lack of working computers in libraries “affects the poorest members of society” a senior councillor has claimed after it emerged one library has lost 17 of its 18 machines in the past year.

Harrow Borough Council's Conservative group leader Susan Hall said there needs to be more urgency in replacing the computers so jobseekers who are too poor to afford a computer can access the internet.

Last year Gayton Library had 18 working computers but this year there are only three machines for public use and only one is working.

According to staff the computers were removed because they were very old and were still running Windows 2000.

Cllr Hall questioned why the computers had not been repaired or replaced.

She said: “Everything seems to take an inordinate amount of time to get done.

“Why has it taken so long to sort this out when it is the poorest members of our society who need these computers most?”

Cllr David Perry, community and cultural services portfolio holder, said new PCs for the libraries are on order and the council is working to ensure the project is completed as soon as possible.

He said: “Harrow is investing significant sums of money in our libraries so users have brand new computers at every one of our libraries.

“We know that our residents love their libraries, which is why we would like to reassure residents that our modern age 'people's network' which includes free Wi-Fi, will be up and running soon so the entire community can access 21st Century technology.”

All the authority’s ICT systems are in the process of being upgraded and the council says that because the project is an ambitious one it is experiencing some delays.

Cllr Perry added: “Although we would have liked to have upgraded our 11 libraries by now, the library project is part of the wider upgrade and has to integrate with other improvements.”