Havering Council has decided to lift the suspension of fines for the late return of library books.

Signed by Havering’s strategic director of resources, Kathy Freeman, the decision states that the authority will start charging a late fee of 42p per adult book and spoken word item per day, with a maximum fine of £10 per book from June 10.

Library users, the council said, will be sent an email reminder and given an automatic renewal for three weeks and only after that will a fine be imposed if not returned.

Late fee charges were historically in place in Havering before the onset of the Covid pandemic in 2020 when the fine stood at 39p per book per day, peaking at £10 per book.

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They have remained suspended since, which the council said was done to align with the London Libraries Consortium’s practice and to support residents with the cost-of-living crisis.

After a review of the library income and given its current financial challenges, the council has decided to bring the fines back.

Concessions will however be made for people with disabilities and senior citizens, and library managers will be given the power to exercise their discretion in making exceptions.

To implement the plan, the council said it will notify library users through various means including by sending letters and putting up notices on the library website.

Library staff will be trained by the council to enforce the revised fine structure and resolve conflicts.

Justifying the decision, the council said that the step is essential "to ensure effective circulation of library materials and encourage borrowers to return them promptly".

“The adjustment in fine rates is necessary to keep pace with inflationary changes and to sustain the viability of library services.

“The decision to reintroduce fines for late return of library items reflects our commitment to maintaining the integrity and sustainability of library services”, it added.