CHILDREN will be charged for being late returning their library books.

It was agreed last night to raise income from children who are behind with their library books but the move could cause parents to discourage their youngsters from using libraries, a councillor has warned.

Conservative councillor Garry Peltzer-Dunn called on the council to rethink plans which would see children charged late fees for the first time in nine years.

But Cllr Peltzer-Dunn, who said there should be “no obstruction” to reading for young people in the city, was unsuccessful with an amendment to drop the plans as it was voted down by Labour councillors.

Labour councillor Kevin Allen backed the move saying youngsters needed to learn to take responsibility for their actions.

Reintroducing late charges for library users under the age of 19 for the first time since 2008 is expected to net the council £8,000 a year.

Council officers said that to meet inflationary costs, falling income streams and to balance the library budget for future years, an additional £47,000, around ten per cent of total income, had to be found in 2017/18.

As well as reintroducing children’s late charges, the council is also proposing increasing income from commercial room hire, from the Booklover store in Jubilee Library’s foyer, new exhibition charges and changes to how reservation fees were charged to raise additional income.

The authority is also set to get tougher with library users who have unpaid fees and charges by restricting their use if debts are not paid off.

Children would be charged at 40 per cent of regular library users while vulnerable children are exempt.

Library staff will also have discretion to waive charges for youngsters under 19 in “special circumstances” such as illness.

Cllr Peltzer-Dunn said: “I fully understand the necessity for increasing charges and no one would argue with it but I do have fears for children should we reintroduce charges.

“It doesn’t seem a lot, ten pence a day and a maximum of £2.50, but for some parents it might frighten them off.

“We all know parents have an awful lot on their plates and remembering to return library books might not be the highest priority.

“I would hate to think that it would possibly be detrimental to a child borrowing a book and reading it.”

Labour councillor Kevin Allen said: “We don’t want to put anyone off using the service but children do need to take responsibility and get their books back on time.”