A plan to block payday loan websites on all council-owned computers has been approved, but concens have been raised about limiting residents' choice.

But the authority has been accused of censorship over the measure, which applies to staff computers and those in libraries. 

So-called payday lenders have been criticised for high interest rates and exploiting the vulnerable, but the industry says it provides a valuable service responsibly.

The measure was approved by the council's Police and Resource Committee last night.

Member Cllr John Howard said: “People trying to access sites like Wonga will be redirected to the Liberty credit union that provides financial advice and supports responsible borrowing.”

But Conservative Paul Canal felt the measure was taking restrictions too far.

He said: “This is a big step for the council to take.

"This is a thin end of a very long wedge, we can’t tell people what to look at on the internet.”

Labour's Anne Sachs countered by pointing to the existing block on pornography and said the council should not be a "conduit for irresponsible behaviour".

The measure is set to be implemented within two weeks.