Late book fines abolished at libraries in Altrincham, Hale and Timperley

By David Prior at

Library fines are to be abolished at libraries in Altrincham, Hale and Timperley.

The move is part of a borough-wide initiative by Trafford Council designed to encourage more people to use libraries.

Trafford Council said it was the first public library authority in the UK to scrap fines for late returns.

Currently, adults are charged a penalty of 15p a day per late book.

A visual of the new South Trafford Health & Wellbeing Centre, where the new Altrincham Library will be located

In a statement, the council said: “Trafford will become the first public library authority in the country to adopt this policy which sends a welcome message to our residents in Trafford that they will have access to a completely free library service.

“This decision will overcome evidence that suggests that this charge is off-putting for customers and help to see a further increase in usage of libraries across the borough”.

Trafford, which operates 13 libraries in the borough, only made around £30,000 a year from library fines, according to leader Sean Anstee.

He said that last year saw Trafford’s first increase in library usage in 17 years.

A visual showing the proposed Timperley library, healthcare and community centre

“It’s another way to encourage usage,” he told the Guardian. “It will be a permanent change, but we have said to councillors that scrutiny is welcome, to look at the impact of the decision.”

Anstee added that the council had only made around £30,000 a year from library fines, which had a maximum of £10.

Asked how the scheme would work, he called it a “trust thing”, and added: “We don’t have an issue with people retaining books at the moment and if we didn’t have a book returned, that person’s ability to borrow more books would be removed.”

How Hale’s new community centre – on the site of the current bowling pavilion – could look. It would house a relocated Hale Library

All three libraries within the Altrincham area are set for change. Altrincham Library will be moving from its current site on Stamford New Road to a smaller 8,008 sq ft facility within the South Trafford Health and Wellbeing Centre, currently being constructed on the site of the former Altrincham General Hospital.

Plans have also been submitted for the new Hale community centre and library, which would see Hale Library moving from its current Leigh Road location to a first-floor facility on the site of the current Hale bowling green pavilion, with a requirement of enough space for 17,000 books.

And Timperley Library is currently closed for an extensive redevelopment, with the building replaced by a community hub to include a new smaller library, a community hub, GP surgery, pharmacy and 24 two-bed apartments.