THE state of our city streets early on a Saturday morning are a sight to behold.

Bins in Gloucester Green overflow with take-away cartons and wrappers, half eaten burgers and kebabs spill out on to the pavement to attract rats and vermin, and cigarettes ends carpet the pavement.

The scene of grease, vomit and rubbish often stretches far beyond the bins to the benches, doorways and store fronts that hours later will welcome you on your Saturday shopping trip, along with thousands of visitors, families and holiday makers.

But, while you were sleeping, teams of street cleaners were hard at work clearing up the muck of yet another Friday night in Oxford – and you are paying more than £1m a year for the privilege.

Or, perhaps you were one of the revellers who dropped a kebab carton last night.

You contributed to the million-pound clean up bill, cash which the council said could be spent on new play equipment or improvements to allow an elderly couple to remain in their homes.

Oxford City Council’s team of 30 street cleaners hit the streets at 6am.

But councillor John Tanner, the executive member for a cleaner Oxford, said residents and businesses also had to shoulder some responsibility He said: “When you’ve had a few drinks, throwing rubbish about might seem like a good idea but in the cold light of day you are costing the taxpayer and it is bad for business.

“People arrive on early buses from Heathrow or London and don’t want to be greeted with beer cans and piles of take away rubbish.

“I would rather spend money on play schemes, recycling and improving council houses than picking up unnecessary rubbish.”

He said the counci’s Cleaner, Greener Campaign, backed by the Oxford Mail, had reaped results.

But he added: “The council is under pressure to save money in future and we don’t want to let up on the Cleaner, Greener drive. It doesn’t help if some idiots litter the city.”

Council street cleaning operative Peter French is one of the team who pick up the city’s rubbish.

He said: “I’m never surprised at what I might find when litter picking, only by the amount that is left on the streets for us to clear.

“We work eight-hour shifts, either 6am to 2pm, 10am to 6pm or 12 to 8pm, and during a shift we work hard emptying the bins and constantly clearing the streets of all the litter that is thrown down.

“On the early shift, some of us actually start picking up the litter as we’re walking into work.”