THE war on filth is officially kicking off - with shops in Worcester city centre facing £100 fines for leaving rubbish sacks out overnight.

Worcester City Council's Labour leadership has agreed to launch a long-awaited crackdown on High Street mess by using powerful Government legislation.

Under the ruling traders can only leave their rubbish outside between 6am-9.30am on their collection day, with those who flout it facing the penalty.

The move was voted through during a cabinet meeting last night, where some councillors urged the leadership to "hit it hard" and apply the policy strictly instead of a softly-softly approach.

Councillor Adrian Gregson, the city council's leader, insisted he would "not hesitate" to levy the fines on those prepared to ignore it.

For years, there has been concern across the city about rubbish sacks left out overnight, which can be ripped open by seagulls or revellers to leave rubbish strewn down the High Street.

As an olive branch to traders the council says it will launch the policy on November 1 - using the next six weeks to "engage with any businesses not complying with the policy" and offer advice on how to stick to the times.

Councillor Gregson said: "Everybody recognises the concern over bags of litter outside shops, and we all need to up our game to improve it.

"It helps with that situation and it also helps in terms of education and taking greater pride in the High Street."

Fellow Labour Councillor Jabba Riaz, the cabinet member for clean, green and leisure services, called it a "significant step towards enhancing the city's reputation".

Tory Councillor Mike Johnson told the cabinet he wanted them to take a tough stance early on.

"It's a bit like housekeeping, you need to hit it hard on week one to really notice the difference," he said.

"We need to be quite hard on them, all over them in effect, so we can see that difference to the High Street immediately."

The policy has been months in the making, and originally came from the old Conservative administration back in February before it lost power in May.

The £100 fine will reduce to £60 if paid within 14 days, with the policy reviewed every six months.

After the meeting Adrian Field, from Worcester's Business Improvement District (BID) which represents city businesses, said: "There will be a need for consultation around what is happening and what the expectations are.

"Businesses did have an opportunity to comment but very few did, for small traders in particular there may be a need to change staffing rotas or their collection times, so it will need some time to bed in - this is quite a change.

"I don't think anyone has a problem with leaving waste out for as little a time as possible, especially if it helps with the gulls problem and the expectations around an increasingly vibrant night-time economy."