The future of a successful cleaner-streets campaign in Birmingham is under threat.
A Government funding stream which pays for the city's 55 environmental wardens, who have powers to issue on-the-spot fines if they see offences being committed, comes to an end in March 2008.
Birmingham City Council is under pressure to find about £1.5 million to keep the service going.
A public consultation exercise showed huge support for the warden scheme, which started in January 2003.
More than 90 per cent of respondents thought the wardens had proved highly effective in tackling litter, graffiti, fly-tipping and dog fouling, while more than 80 per cent said they wanted to see more wardens on the streets.
Three-quarters of those questioned said wardens had helped to improve community spirit in their area, while 93 per cent believed the council should find the money to maintain the service. During 2006-07, the wardens investigated 24,404 environmental problems in constituencies across the city and dealt with almost 8,000 requests from members of the public for assistance.
The uniformed wardens issued 574 fines for litter-related offences and three fines for dog fouling during the year.
More than 1,300 warning notices were given to residents who caused hygiene problems by placing refuse sacks on the street too far in advance of the scheduled collection, and 25 fines were handed out as a result.
The service is largely paid for by the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, which has poured more than £100 million of Government money into urban renewal in Birmingham since 2001. But the NRF is to cease next year and alternative funding for the wardens is yet to be identified by the council.
Neil Eustace, chairman of the council public protection committee, said he was "semi-confident" money could be found to continue the warden service.
However, Coun Eustace (Lib Dem Stechford & Yardley North), admitted: "The wardens have done such a good job and we obviously want them to continue, but we have to assume that the Government is not going to replace NRF money.
"When you have something that works it would be a shame to lose it. I would hate the service to just fall apart but at the moment there is no money in the budget for it."