A woman who collected rubbish strewn by foxes across a car park outside her home was fined £400 for putting it in the nearest bin.
Olivia Post, from Battle, East Sussex, thought she was doing a good deed when used a bin bag from her home to clean up the mess.
After putting it in a public litter bin, animals pulled the rubbish out again, grabbing the attention of council officials, who found evidence of her address among the rubbish.
An enforcement officer knocked on her door and gave her a £400 fine, and when she explained what happened, she was told the small council bin could only be used for “litter” – not domestic waste.
The row erupted last month, when snow brought council services to a halt and bin collections were not taking place.
Post said a key issue is that their block backs onto a public car park, and the tenants of the block have no access to actual bins.
They are told to leave their waste in bags outside the front of the block, but seagulls and foxes regularly tear them open.
She said she has tried to arrange five different meetings with Rother District Council to discuss the waste disposal issue.
On Thursday morning, egg shells, nappies, food wrappers and tissues were scattered across the floor, but Post said she would not be picking it up, fearing another fine.
Two other women in the same block have also been accused of fly-tipping, including an 83-year-old pensioner whose fine was rescinded after she said she’d “rather go to prison”.
“We’re in this constant scenario of having litter and rubbish from all over the place being strewn across the car park,” said Post.
“During the snow it was particularly bad because nobody came to empty the bins, there was even more litter strewn around that unusual.”
She said it would “never have occurred” that it was a problem to pick the litter up using her rubbish bag – which already had some of her waste in.
Post said it was “very intimidating” when a council officer knocked on her door the following day and gave her a fine and caution
“He had his camera on and, just like the police, he read me my rights,” the children’s entertainer recalled, adding: “I was flabbergasted.”
She insisted that it wasn’t even her rubbish other than some items at the bottom, and trying to explain what she’d done. The officer responded: “Well, it’s not in the bin now.”
Post added: “It’s really upsetting, I hate litter, I find it really distressing. I’m really unhappy about fly-tipping and you can see that by virtue of the fact I am out there cleaning up.“
A Rother District Council spokesperson said enforcement officers began cracking down on fly-tipping and littering since the summer and that they "can only deal with the situation they come across".
"In this case, rubbish was found on the ground that contained Olivia Post’s name and address, suggesting that the resident had failed to dispose of her waste properly, and she was given an on-the-spot fine," they added.
"We appreciate that there are sometimes circumstances that we are not aware of and, having heard from Ms Post, we will reimburse her for the cost of the penalty notice as a gesture of goodwill.”