Householders in Helston must realise that their rubbish is their responsibility until it is collected, or face the consequences.

This was the warning from Cornwall councillor Judith Haycock, who stressed that “steps will be taken” for those who continued to leave it uncovered on the street to be pecked open by seagulls, with litter then strewn across the pavements.

Describing it as the “absolute scourge of the town”, councillor Jonathan Radford-Gaby said the main problem seemed to be the opes and alleyways between shops in the town centre.

“Bags are pulled asunder by the seagulls – usually by six o’clock the previous night before collection,” he said. “It seems to be the same people week in and week out.”

And he predicted: “It will take one or two prosecutions, that is all. Word will get around and it will stop immediately.”

Mrs Haycock said rubbish bags were looked through by council staff in order to establish who they belonged to, so a prosecution could be made.

She added: “What really depresses me is that when you see these bags split open a large amount of it should have been recycled.

“If people did recycle there’d be a very small amount of rubbish and less for the seagulls.”

Councillor Ronnie Williams said: “The sort of people causing this problem just don’t respect society.”

Mayor Mike Thomas said how he impressed he was with the “tolerance” of Cory workers who pick up the waste left behind.