A CRACKDOWN on rubbish in Worcester city centre is kicking off today - with retailers facing £100 fines if they fail to toe the line.

From today all shopkeepers must keep their waste sacks hidden away apart from between 6am-9.30am on their designated collection days.

The city centre blitz follows years of concern about sacks being left outside around the clock, with seagulls and revellers ripping them open in locations like the High Street during evenings.

Council chiefs yesterday said their initial approach would be “softly softly”, but vowed to crack down hard on those disobeying the rules after a short period allowing them to get used to the ruling.

Those caught out are now liable for £100 fines or even court prosecution if they refuse to pay up.

Since mid-September retailers have been contacted to inform them of the changes in order to get them prepared.

Cllr Jabba Riaz, cabinet member for clean, green and leisure services, said: “With Worcester having recently been praised for its cleanliness and the high quality of the city centre, it’s been gratifying to see businesses pulling together to comply with these rules and support our city.

“We all want to make sure our city centre is just as appealing in the evening, when people are heading to our bars and restaurants, as it is in the daytime.

“And that means not having bags of rubbish sitting outside shop doorways all night.”

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

Worcester’s Business Improvement District (BID), which represents city centre businesses, has said shops will not be against leaving sacks out “as little as possible” as long as it helps the seagulls problem and boosts the night-time economy.

But it has urged the council to allow some time for the ruling to bed in, especially for small independent retailers.

Yesterday, it said the move should also help tourism.

Adrian Field, from Worcester BID, said: “We’ve had a few queries about it from traders and passed them onto the council, and it’s been followed up - the communication has been good.

“We hope that with this policy now starting business go with it, nobody I’ve spoken to has a problem with it.

“I think the council’s approach is right, in having that period before starting enforcement - there might be some retailers who maybe haven’t yet fully appreciated the implications, or made themselves properly aware yet.

“But smartening up the city centre will help with gulls, revellers, it will also help with tourism.”

Until now many shops would leave the sacks out overnight ready for collection the next morning.

At the moment trade waste collections are provided by various firms in Worcester, although the council does offer its own service.