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Will motorists be brought to book?

PUBLISHED: 18:34 29 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:36 25 August 2010

BAD IDEA’: Phyllis Streets outside Sidcup Library.

BAD IDEA': Phyllis Streets outside Sidcup Library.

LIBRARIANS will be handed the job of processing parking fines if controversial proposals are given the go-ahead.

LIBRARIANS will be handed the job of processing parking fines if controversial proposals are given the go-ahead.

The Times has learnt that Bexley council could close its Parking Control Office in Broadway, Bexleyheath, and have library staff accept parking fine payments.

Library workers are already being trained to widen their services, but a source, who wished to remain anonymous, said staff were furious about the latest idea

He said: "They don't want to know about it. As far as they are concerned the library is a peaceful, quiet environment, so they don't want a load of shouting.

"How are you supposed to get into Wuthering Heights when you can't think for noise?"

The source added: "Staff at the parking office in Bexleyheath have very, very thick Perspex between them and the public, because they know things could get aggressive, even violent.

"We're not talking about people charged with a 20p library fine here - we're talking about people angry with the zealot parking inspectors working for Bexley council."

Figures show a third of the 64,000 tickets issued in 2007 were overturned by Bexley council on appeal.

Phyllis Streets, a regular library user from Sidcup, said: "It's good that the libraries become a point where you can get council information. But I think it's a bad idea to start exchanging money there, especially when people don't want to part with it."

Peter Catterall, Bexley councillor for leisure, arts and tourism, was unaware that library staff had found out about the proposal.

When told they were not happy, he said: "Well I don't blame them either. But libraries are under strain. There is certainly a view that libraries should be more like contact centres that deal with council functions.

"Clearly, the parking fines are slightly different because you are potentially dealing with angry members of the public."

The possibility of stationing police in libraries had been mooted in the past, added Mr Catterall, who rejected the idea of using gimmicks such as piped music in libraries.

He said: "Parking fines in libraries could potentially go ahead, but we have not made a firm decision on anything.

"I would want to see that it had the appropriate safeguards and that the costs justify it."

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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