TWO Accrington residents have been slapped with fines under Hyndburn Council's hard-line crackdown against litterbugs.
The pair, who were among the first to be caught dumping their rubbish bags outside of collection hours, were taken to court as part of the council's pledge to clean up the borough.
Under the zero-tolerance campaign, those found leaving rubbish out after a collection period face £50 on-the-spot fines - and risk being taken to court if they don't pay up within 14 days.
But the system drew angry complaints from disabled resident Mark Kay, 27, of Beech Street, Accrington, who was ordered to pay £150 after pleading guilty to permitting refuse to be dumped on a back street behind his house.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Kay, who suffers from spina bifida, said: "It is going to cause a huge uproar. They're taking us to the cleaners."
The court heard that residents of Beech Street had been sent letters in June, warning them of the council's tough new stance.
Mr Gordon McMillan, prosecuting, said that when Mr Haworth carried out an inspection of the back alley shortly after the collection on Thursday 3 July, he found all the refuse had been removed.
But when he returned the following Monday, he found a black bin-bag at the rear of Mr Kay's property and identified the contents as belonging to him.
Mr McMillan said that although Mr Kay, who is dyslexic, had contacted the council twice after receiving two written requests for the fine, they had been forced to take it to court because the money had still not been paid.
He added: "While we are sympathetic to Mr Kay's situation, after careful consideration we felt that making exceptions could be the very thin end of the wedge."
Mr Bernard Horne, defending, said: "On some days Mr Kay is confined to a wheelchair.
"It is extremely difficult for him to put his rubbish down the back alley. The vast majority of the time he has a friend who will do it for him.
"As far as Mr Kay was concerned, his friend had put the bag out in the correct way at the correct time."
Magistrate Mr Peter Jump said: "We understand the circumstances.
"Nevertheless, we do feel it is your responsibility to ensure your bag is put out on the right day."
Mr Kay's neighbour, Mrs Mavis Pearson, also appeared before the court for failing to pay her fine for a similar offence on Friday 18 July.
Mr Macmillan said although Mrs Pearson had asked the council if she could pay the fine by instalments, she was told this was not council policy.
Mr Horne said: "Having lived at the same address for 17 years, she inadvertently put a bag out against the instructions she had received. Now she is in court for putting out a bin bag.
"When she couldn't raise the £50 in one lump sum, she contacted the council to see if it could be paid in instalments but was told she couldn't. She took it very seriously.
"She asked her landlord whether he could lend her the money but when she went to the council with it, she was told it was a day too late."
Ordering her to pay a £50 fine and £30 in costs, Mr Jump said he had noted the trouble Mrs Pearson had taken to pay the fine and said the council had a duty in future to consider other ways of accepting payments.
Councillor Ann Scaife, Cabinet portfolio holder for cleansing and the environment, said: "The prosecutions demonstrate that the council is prepared to get tough.
"The council is taking positive steps to clean up the borough and needs all residents to play their part. Although the majority of residents do co-operate, there is still a significant minority who continue to abuse the environment."
Anyone with difficulties putting out rubbish should contact the council for help on 399988.