Library services in the borough are to go back out to tender after the council's preferred bidder changed its offer at the last minute.

The council is to reconsider selecting John Laing Integrated Services to run the libraries after the private firm altered proposed pension terms, triggering a reselection process.

Both John Laing and rival bidder Greenwich Leisure Limited are to resubmit new bids and are allowed to amend any part of their offers.

Labour councillors accused the council of incompetence after councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, families and learning, announced the reselection in a fiery end of last night's council meeting. 

Mr Pollard said: "During the process of clarifying these final terms with our preferred bidder, they unexpectedly introduced a late amendment relating to capping possible future pensions contributions.

He added: "As a result, to ensure fairness to all of the bidders, we have to take a step back in the process to allow all the final bidders time to consider this change and propose any amendments they wish to their original proposals."

Councillor Timothy Godfrey was sent out of the meeting for arguing with mayor Eddy Aram, who refused to let councillors question Mr Pollard.

Mr Godfrey said: "This is a cover-up of the worst proportion. It is incompetence from the top to the bottom, including the mayor. It is absolutely disgraceful."

The council selected John Laing as its preferred bidder to run Croydon's libraries in November last year.