IT resulted in some of Swindon's streets being turned into rubbish dumps and caused a political row in the council chamber.

But exactly six months on from the introduction of wheelie bins across the town, Swindon is slowly but surely turning green.

The town's recycling rate is up about 15 per cent and the majority of residents are happy with the council's rubbish collection service. In fact Steve Harcourt, director of environment and streetscene at Swindon Council, says Swindon is a tidier town thanks to the fortnightly rubbish collections.

Yet in the weeks following the borough-wide wheelie bin roll out on November 5 the situation could not have been different.

Residents became confused about the new collection dates, resulting in mounds of rubbish piling up across town, while residents and councillors in Broadgreen called for the council to suspend the scheme as they said the bins were inappropriate for their terraced streets.

But the early teething problems have now been overcome according to Mr Harcourt.

In March, 43.5 per cent of waste was recycled - it was 27.3 per cent prior to November.

He said: "By the end of March we had diverted 7,178 tonnes of waste from landfill.

"Complaint levels are about 20 or 30 a day - and when you consider we are doing 860,000 collections a month that is a low percentage."

The success of the scheme has been based on a policy of educating residents, although the threat of fines has helped focus people's minds on what they should and should not throw away.

"In the past six months we have issued about 200 notices setting out how refuse should be put out for collection," said Mr Harcourt.

"Failure to comply with that results in a fine - and that warning has been sufficient with most people. We have recently issued two fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping - these are people who have ignored the warnings and been putting black bags out outside about 100 yards down the road from their homes. I think Swindon is now a tidier town.

"Of course this is one of the few services a council runs that everyone engages with. To change that service for 80,000 plus households is a significant change.

"We know there are people in Swindon who, for whatever reason, are not taking part.

"We will always have some problems and we recognise that. But I think that we're confident that the work and engagement we have seen from Swindon people has been fantastic."