Children who return their library books late in Brighton and Hove will have to pay a fine from the spring.
The decision by Brighton and Hove City Council’s Economic Development and Culture Committee yesterday (Thursday January 12) was made as part of a plan to make up a budget shortfall of almost £50,000.
But the fine will be 10p a day up to a maximum of £2.50, with vulnerable children exempt and staff given the discretion to waive fines in special circumstances such as illness.
Children have not had to pay fines since 2008 and under the new regime they will be sent reminder emails or text messages before their books are due back.
Charges will also rise for printing and photocopying and for reserving books. And reservations will have to be paid for in advance from April.
Councillors heard that an inter-library loans can cost the council £18.15 and if cheaper staff attempt to purchase the requested book, with this sometimes leading to searching on second-hand book websites.
Councillor Alan Robins, who chairs the committee, said: “Each time a residents requests a reservation it costs the council and therefore the taxpayer money.
“When items are then cancelled it means a financial loss to the council. It makes sense that if someone wants to reserve something they pay in advance and that way the council doesn’t lose out if the item is no longer needed.”
The five Conservative and Green opposition councillors on the committee tried to block the overdue fines for children and young people up to 19.
But the five Labour councillors voted in favour and Councillor Robins used his casting vote to approve the change.