Darlington town centre is set for a spring clean as the borough council takes delivery of a new gum-busting and graffiti removing machine.

The new £15,000 Enviroclean machine, which was bought as a result of extensive trials around the town, roars into action today.

Pedestrianised areas in the town centre will be cleared of discarded chewing gum using high steam pressure.

It is estimated that the Market Place, Skinnergate, High Row, Bondgate and Northgate will be gum-free within three weeks.

Once the main town centre is cleared, the machine will then be used for removing graffiti and fly posters around Darlington.

Terry Collins, the council's assistant director of environmental services, said: "Members of our litter busting teams have been trained to use the machine which is easy to use, portable and can be used for more than just gum busting.

"This in turn will save us money in reducing the need to bring in outside contractors and will enable us to provide a service that is both effective and adaptable to fit in with the immediate needs of the community.

"Now we have the machine we can also look at the possibility of working with outside companies to provide them with a specialised cleaning service for such things as discarded chewing gum, graffiti and fly posters."

The machine is the latest weapon in the council's fight against litter.

Its high profile anti-litter campaign was launched last year. Residents are being asked to report any areas of the town that need clearing up and they will be patrolled by uniformed wardens to make sure no-one else messes them up.

As well as fly-tipping and other instances of littering, residents can report graffiti and fly posters using the litter hotline below.

Since the campaign was launched litter-bugs have been given £50 on-the-spot fines by both uniformed and under-cover wardens.