FINES for minor rubbish bin infringements were seen by many as an authoritarian step too far.

Some councils were far too enthusiastic in doling out penalties for the tiniest infractions of their bin code.

Thankfully Oxford City Council was more reasoned in its approach – it has only given out 10 fines in the past year.

But it has been forced to get tougher in East Oxford because problems had got so serious it felt only stern warnings followed by fines would properly tackle the blight.

Unfortunately that work has been undermined by rumblings from the Government about scrapping the scheme.

The Government is not wrong per se, but it does leave councils like Oxford, who have acted with some restraint and not seen it as a revenue gatherer, in a difficult position.

What big stick can the city council effectively wield if the 970 legal notices it has issued to force householders to clean up their act are ignored?

Perhaps the only other viable alternative would be non-collection but that would cause more problems for neighbours than the miscreants.