SEVEN people have been hit in the pocket by a total of £5,000 and now have criminal convictions after failing to pay fines for leaving rubbish outside their homes.

Durham County Council prosecuted four men and three women who did not pay fixed penalties issued after they ignored requests to clear waste from outside their homes.

All seven had been asked informally to tidy up before receiving community protection notices. After failing to comply they were given fixed penalty notices of £60, rising to £100 after ten days, but when they were not paid the council prosecuted for failing to comply with the CPN.

Newton Aycliffe magistrates fined each £250 with legal costs of £130 and victim surcharges of £30. Further costs were ordered, leaving three defendants having to pay a total of £610, two £757.50 and two £870– a combined £5,085.

Ian Hoult, the council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “As well as looking unsightly, accumulations of waste attract pests and can pose a fire risk.“There are so many ways for people to get rid of unwanted goods, be it taking them to a household waste recycling centre free of charge or arranging one of our bulky collections.

“If you do arrange for someone to take away your waste, our advice would always be to make sure you know they are licensed to do so and that you know what they are planning to do with it.

“Last year our wardens dealt with 3,600 incidents of waste on people’s property and the vast majority were resolved without the need for enforcement.

“However these seven cases show we will take action against those who do not heed our requests and warnings and I hope the financial penalties and criminal convictions will serve as a deterrent.”