A TOTAL of 23 fixed penalty notices at £50 each have been issued to residents in Hartlepool.

And residents in an area of the town have been warned by council enforcement officers to clean up their act.

Wardens say there would be no need for them to remain in the Burn Valley and Rift House area if people disposed of their rubbish sensibly.

A private company, Manchester-based Animal Wardens, has been drafted in by Hartlepool Borough Council to spearhead a concerted clean-up.

The operation is part of the area's Neighbourhood Action Plan, a blueprint for proving residents' quality of life.

Staff have been monitoring litter hot-spots across the area, including shopping parades frequented by schoolchildren, and have issued 23 fixed penalty notices costing £50.

Animal Wardens' Director Paul Dunne said: "We were already working with Hartlepool Council to provide additional support to members of its Environmental Action Team prior to the launch of this concerted clampdown in Rift House/Burn Valley area.

"We don't want to have to stay there any longer than necessary and our message to the litter louts is simple - stop messing up the streets and we'll get out of your hair."

Leaflets have been sent to about 3,000 households warning of the clampdown and urging people to support efforts to clean up the area.

Craig Thelwell, the Council's Environmental Action Manager, said: "Whilst this intensive clampdown is targeting the Rift House/Burn Valley area, we wouldn't want people in other areas of the town to become complacent.

"We will continue to target litter louts in all areas, and where particular problems emerge we may organise similar concerted clean-ups."