Residents have been given a 'three strikes and you're out' ultimatum in an effort to enforce Oxford's wheelie bin revolution.

Homeowners had been told non-recyclable waste was to be left for collection in closed wheelie bins only.

But it has emerged they would be given three warnings for throwing away rubbish in bin bags before they were finally fined.

The Oxford Mail was told the only way the city council could stop people putting out extra rubbish would be to issue at least three separate warnings before a £75 penalty.

City councillor Jean Fooks, the woman heading up the new waste collection arrangements, insisted the city council would take a soft approach to enforcing the rules.

But she said that refuse collectors would keep records of those who flouted the council guidance and persistent offenders would be traced and punished.

Ms Fooks said: "There really should be no excuse for extra rubbish left out alongside wheelie bins and people will be subject to fines if necessary.

"People may get away with it (putting out black bags of rubbish), but they will be reminded fairly forcibly that it's not accepted and we don't want bags on the streets."

On the first two occasions an individual breaks the rules, a sticker is placed on their wheelie bin outlining collection guidance.

If the homeowner persists in using extra bin bags, a letter is posted before they are given a final warning and a £75 fine.

Future failure to comply could result in a court appearance.

Mother-of-five Carmel Ryan, of Balfour Road, Blackbird Leys, said: "I am struggling already - and I am only in my first week.

"There really isn't enough room, I would prefer if I could just tie up a black bin bag and throw it out.

"Larger families are going to struggle. We are all paranoid we are going to get fined. It would be much better if rubbish was collected weekly."

Since the so-called recycling revolution started last November, there have been no £75 fixed penalty fines issued for so-called "environmental crimes" - and just a handful of warnings for people ignoring the rules.

Town Hall solicitor Emma Griffiths said: "The authority cannot at the moment refuse to collect rubbish that is not presented in wheelie bins.

"It is under a duty to make arrangements to collect household waste under section 45 of the Environmental Protection Act."

Former Oxford Lord Mayor John Power said: "This is one of the most disastrously managed schemes in Oxford's history.

"The council has now got to start serving notices on people - or else they are going to have to collect rubbish left out in bags."