MORE than 13,000 books are overdue at Southend’s libraries...and bosses refuse to rule out using bailiffs to recover costs.

Figures show 13,788 books are currently overdue for their return to Southend’s libraries, and they rack up a maximum in £6 in fines each.

A spokesman said: “We have a robust and cost-effective process for chasing overdue items, which may include the use of bailiffs if circumstances suggest this would be proportionate. This process usually takes six to seven months after the items become overdue.”

She added that the overdue books were written off after three years, but anyone who still hasn’t given their book back is banned from borrowing any new ones.

But the council’s libraries manager said that they have never taken the drastic step of using bailiffs.

Simon May said: “Southend Council’s library service has never instructed bailiffs to physically recover library fines, even though it’s had the option to do so for the past 15 years.

“It prefers a softer method of recovering fines, primarily sending a letter reminding borrowers items are overdue. It would never use bailiffs to recover library fines on children’s books.”

Southend libraries lend around 750,000 items a year.