Croydon Council has promised to stop fining people for leaving rubbish at overflowing recycling centres following an outcry over the policy.

It comes after the Croydon Guardian revealed that more than 150 people had been slapped with “unbelievable” £80 fines for leaving waste next to “constantly full” bins.

The story last week included claims the authority was running a “money game” that has raked in more than £10,000 by penalising families for trying to recycle.

LAST WEEK: More than 150 people fined by Croydon Council for 'fly-tipping' - after leaving rubbish at recycling centres

Labour councillor Stuart Collins, the cabinet member leading the council’s ‘Don’t Mess with Croydon’ fly-tipping crackdown – initially came out fighting over the policy, writing in a letter to this newspaper that those fined had been “refusing to comply” with depot rules.

But yesterday he backtracked after “listening to public concern” and said people would no longer be fined for leaving recycling rubbish by overflowing bins, while claiming the previous Conservative administration had introduced the policy.

Cllr Collins said: “If people leave recyclables when the bins are full, it will no longer be classed as fly-tipping. I have listened to public opinion and reversed the policy that the previous Conservative administration introduced because I don’t think it’s in the spirit of Don’t Mess With Croydon.

“It wasn’t my policy, and the Croydon Guardian has highlighted public opinion. I’m listening.”

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The recycling centre at Monks Orchard Green last Monday

But Cllr Phil Thomas, Conservative shadow cabinet member for Clean Green Croydon, said: “We never went after easy targets and our containers were always emptied on time.

“You won’t find a Conservative councillor who thinks anyone fly-tipping shouldn’t be prosecuted. But because the containers are full, they’re leaving their recycling there.”

The issue first came to light when Rachel Thom, a pregnant primary school teacher, was fined for leaving three cardboard boxes next to overflowing containers at Monks Orchard Green recycling depot last month.

Feb 9: 'It's £80 for trying to do the right thing': Primary school teacher fined for fly-tipping after taking cardboard boxes to recycling centre

The council insisted it did not punish people for attempting to recycle.

But the Croydon Guardian subsequently learned of several cases in which people were stung with fines after taking a small amount of waste to overflowing depots.

Among those penalised wasgrandmother Linda Harding, 61, of Shirley. She said last week: "We haven’t done one thing wrong in my eyes. I took three boxes to my waste site that I pay tax for.”

Mrs Thom's husband Stephen this week welcomed the council U-turn, adding: “They shouldn’t have been fining people in the first place, but it’s good that it’s sorted and they’re doing something.”

However, none of those already fined will be refunded.

Cllr Collins said: “As a cabinet member I can’t give fines back, but I have listened to public concern.”

He added he would “still encourage people seek an alternative if the bin is full”, and warned: “It’s not to say we’re not going to fine traders or people who leave [non-recyclable] household waste.”

The council is also to review contractor Veolia’s recycling collection schedules in an attempt to alleviate the problem of overflowing bins.

Coun Collins said: "It's not a question of us being able to increase collection rates because it costs too much. [But] our officers are talking with Veolia to see if they can work smarter."

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