FIFTY cars were ticketed by 'over zealous' parking wardens as residents struggled to park outside their homes because their streets had not been gritted.

Motorists reacted with fury to the early-morning swoops on cars that had been left on main roads in Blackburn.

In Livesey Branch Road around 30 cars were ticketed at 9am yesterday. Many were parked in an area where restrictions apply during school hours at nearby St Bede’s High which is closed for the Christmas break.

And there was a further swoop in Whalley Range where a similar number were targeted.

In both areas yellow lines on the streets were obscured by snow.

Coun Solly Khonat said the behaviour of the council wardens was an'absolute disgrace'” and 'a kick in the teeth' to people who were already struggling to cope on neighbourhood streets that were not gritted.

He said: “In 35 years I have never seen the council handle something as badly as the problems with the weather have been.

“People have told me that they will stop paying their council tax because of how angry they are.

“In any other situation those people should not have parked where they did but it was not safe to go on any of the smaller side streets."”

Jane Thomas, who lives in Livesey Branch Road, said: “It is appalling the way that the wardens have behaved. I saw it all happen this morning. First a council van went past and then about half an hour later two parking wardens were dropped off and spent 30 minutes putting tickets on all of the cars in sight.

“What happened to community spirit and all pulling together in tough times?

“It is dangerous down in the streets off Green Lane and Shorrock Lane and it was right of everyone to leave their cars on the main road, even if they shouldn’t have under normal circumstances."

Livesey with Pleasington councillor John Williams said: “The wardens should have been more sympathetic to the situation.

“They saw this as an easy hit and behaved awfully.”

Roy Lomas, who lives off Livesey Branch Road, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw the wardens. There was a lot of very angry people.”

Peter Hunt, the council's director of regeneration and environment, said 'challenges will be considered sympathetically'.

He said: "In weather conditions like these, the council's civil enforcement officers do use discretion when it is obvious that vehicles have been abandoned for safety reasons.

“In snowy, icy conditions, it is more important to keep traffic moving as freely as possibly, so drivers should park considerately."