A CRACKDOWN on ghastly rubbish blighting Worcester city centre is being launched - with shops which abuse the rules facing £100 fines or even court action.

After years of concern about waste sacks in the High Street, Worcester City Council is taking advantage of Government legislation to tackle it.

Under the plan retailers and other city centre businesses must leave their rubbish out for collection between the hours of 6am-9.30am only.

Council chiefs say shops that "persistently" refuse to play ball will be slapped with £100 fines and even face prosecution, with bosses using CCTV if needed to catch people out.

The tough stance will end the current free-for-all which has resulted in 700 city centre firms leaving sacks out at all times of the day, leading to seagulls and late night revellers ripping them open.

Last year the Mayor of Worcester Councillor Roger Knight admitted to being "embarrassed" by the appearance of the High Street at times, saying it was time to act.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 the council can punish shops breaking the rules.

A £100 fine would discount to £60 if paid within 10 days.

Council enforcement officers will also get the option of giving businesses a "simple caution" or pursuing legal proceedings if serious enough.

Councillor Andy Roberts, the cabinet member for cleaner and greener, said today: "This has come out as a result of frustration, I've been pretty disappointed by a small number of retailers who are failing to do the decent thing.

"A few persistently don't play the game so we are laying down hard and fast rules - I hope the biggest factor will be embarrassment."

He added: "Trade waste bins and bags look unattractive, and as well as posing an obstruction they have the potential to be split open by gulls and other vermin.

"The council is committed to enhancing the city centre."

The Tory cabinet is meeting next Tuesday to vote on launching a six-week consultation over it.

Adrian Field, from Worcester's Business Improvement District (BID), which represents city centre firms, admitted the bags can look an "eyesore".

"We all want trade waste left out for as little as possible, that's good for tourism and the night time economy," he said.

"So I fully understand the rationale behind the consultation, it will be very interesting to see what businesses say.

"It is difficult, in an historic city to find room to store the bags but at the end of the day we all want a clean, visually aesthetic city centre."

At the moment traders choose from a wide range of operators who come and collect the bags, including private organisations and a council service.

* What do you think? Does Worcester city centre have a problem that needs clearing up or do fines go too far? Email te@worcesternews.co.uk or call 01905 742248.

* See the council's policy document for yourself HERE.