A DAD on benefits has complained that a borough's litter 'secret police' issued him a £75 fine when a cigarette butt dropped of the bottom of his wet trainer on a shopping centre car park.

Paul McAuley was heading for Dunelm on the Peel Centre in Blackburn to buy new bedding when enforcement officers from Kingdom Environmental Services pounced.

The 34-year-old from Heys Lane in Darwen, who receives £60 a week Carers' Allowance for looking after his disabled wife Kathryn, say he cannot afford the fine and has condemned the litter enforcement officer for being 'too strict' and lacking common sense.

Blackburn with Darwen Council employs commercial firm Kingdom to tackle littering on the streets and on private land except where the owner asks them not to.

So far only Asda and the Blackburn Foodbank have requested the officers to keep off.

In the latter case two users who dropped cigarette butts were given £75 fixed penalty notices, later quashed on appeal, before the organisation promised to keep their land clean and tidy.

Mr McAuley said: "I pulled up on the Dunelm car park and I knocked over the ashtray in the car.

"I put my foot out into the rain and then my dad rang so I got back in but must have failed to clear up properly.

"A cigarette butt stuck to the wet sole of my trainer and dropped off as I got out.

"An enforcement officer came up and issued me with a £75 penalty notice which I cannot pay.

"They are like secret police. They appear from nowhere and just slap you with a fine.

"They are far too strict and show no leniency or common sense.

"I don't have a problem with them patrolling the Peel Centre car park but this was an accident not deliberately dropping litter.

"I am on Carers Allowance and my wife is on benefits. I just cannot afford to pay this fine..

"I shall appeal and hope they treat me with the same leniency as the Foodbank users."

Tony Watson, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s head of Environment and Public Protection, said: “A formal request for a review into a ticket issued can be done via email at: litterenforcement@blackburn.gov.uk”

Cllr Jim Smith, borough environment boss, said: "Mr McAuley's appeal will be closely looked at."

Cllr John Slater, leader of the council Conservative Group, said: "These Kingdom enforcement officers should not be on private land. They should stick to public spaces and and council property."

Dunelm and Peel Holdings had no comment to make.