Redbridge Council makes £336,000 in library fines in four years: Is your library the worst offender?

Redbridge Library

Redbridge Library - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council has made £336,351 in library fines since 2015, the Recorder can reveal.

In the same period, according to figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request, the council's spending on its libraries fell by £152,556 from £2.73million to £2.58m.

The Recorder can also reveal that, perhaps unsurprisingly, Redbridge Central Library in Clements Road, Ilford, is the worst offender for overdue items out of all 14 of the borough's libraries.

That library has received £95,205 in late fines in the last four financial years - 28pc of the entire borough's library takings.

Clayhall Library accounted for the smallest amount in that period - recording a grand total of £3,861 in fine income.

Redbridge's mobile library service also took £1,430 in fines, while online library services made £6,590.

The council currently charges adults 34p per day per item overdue from its libraries, up to a maximum of £6 per item - although for over 65s the cap is set at £1.

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For children aged 16 and under, that falls to 6p per day up to a maximum of £1.

Staff accounted for the vast majority of expenditure on the borough's libraries - although that figure has dropped from £2.42million in 2015/16 to £2.31million in 2018/19.

The council also revealed that, up to the end of July, it had spent £819,000 on library staff in 2019/20.

Expenditure on new books has also fallen since 2015/16 - although it must be stressed that the figures provided by the council in this regard only relate to hard copies of physical books, and that no data was released on council spending on online or digital resources.

Four years ago it spent £313,856 on books, but this dropped to £262,922 by the end of 2018/2019.

Back in February this year Redbridge Council announced it was carrying out major upgrades to its library system's digital infrastructure.

The new system aims to make it easier and quicker for residents to download eBooks and a new app will be launched, allowing customers to access their library on the move.

Speaking at the time, council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: "We're so fortunate to have such a widely used library network in Redbridge and I remain committed to investing in services like these, making our libraries future-proof and accessible for generations to come."