A woman who has spent 30 years trawling Brighton's streets for cans to tun into cash has been given a month to get rid of them.

Olive Taylor has been given the deadline to tidy up her ways after council officials decided her front garden was overrun with rubbish.

The 87-year-old, of Evelyn Terrace, Brighton, has raised more than £40,000 for charity by recycling cans since 1978.

But after a series of complaints from neighbours about the state of the garden, Brighton and Hove City Council has taken her to court claiming the mountains of recycling pose a health risk.

The local authority, which owns the home she has lived in for nearly 80 years, said she had broken the rules of her lease and that she had rejected offers from community groups to tidy the garden for her.

Speaking at her home today, single Miss Taylor, who is registered blind, said she believes the council has "overstepped the mark" by taking legal action and plans to contest them.

She said: "I haven't had any complaints, it's just the council. Nobody has complained to me. I had to go down to the council offices. They never let me speak and were talking at me all the time.

"I was in hospital for the whole month in November and that was when the housing woman wanted me to clear the garden. The previous woman was not bothered about it.

"The council has rather overstepped the mark in the way they have gone about it - like a bull at a gate. They have harassed me, they have intimidated me. At one point when I had an interview I was reduced to tears.

"I am going to contest it and get a solicitor. My doctor spoke to me and said I really should have some sort of representation."

Miss Taylor, an ex-member of the Women's Royal Naval Service, said she has been recycling for money since 1948, and has bought five Guide Dogs for charity with cash she has collected.

She said: "People give stuff to me. I have got a friend who comes once a week with a bag. I go to the soup run on the seafront in Kemp Town and the chaps save their drinks cans for me."

Miss Taylor, who came out of hospital on Sunday following an illness, said a rat catcher visits her home every six months to lay down poison but no rodents have ever been caught.

This week, waste was piled up to four feet high at Miss Taylor's home, including tins, food containers, newspapers, milk cartons and rotting fruit, most of which was in carrier bags.

Flies were also visible as the rubbish heap stretched all the way down her garden path.

Speaking to The Argus in 2003, Miss Taylor said: “I get letters from the council twice a year – once around Christmas and once in the summer.

“They seem to think I am an obsessive compulsive who collects rubbish for the sake of it and has it piled up in the house.

“But I never keep cans in the house because I don’t drink and the stuff in the garden doesn’t just sit there.

“It is there until I have sorted through it and taken it down to be recycled.”

She began recycling when she worked at Portsmouth docks and collected enough tin foil to pay for the training of four guide dogs for the blind.

She said: “I know what it’s like to have nothing. During the war we had an ounce of butter a week.”

The local authority removed eight lorry loads of rubbish from the property back in 1993.

But eight years later Olive presented animal charity PDSA with a cheque for £30,000, which she raised by collecting cans, scrap metal and anything else she could exchange for cash.

In 2003 she was threatened with eviction when the litter stored in her garden was deemed a health and safety hazard.

The local authority eventually backed down when Miss Taylor said she would keep the area clear.

Yet nine years later Brighton and Hove City Council has finally had enough.

Officials have gone to Brighton County Court and have secured an order forcing her to remove all items stored in her garden by April 10.