THOUSANDS of pounds are being spent in Darlington to rid the streets of a sticky problem.

Darlington Borough Council are conducting trials to find the best way to remove chewing gum from the town's main shopping areas.

Various contractors and systems are being tested to see which are most suitable to treat the problem.

Once a company has been appointed the town centre will be cleaned before other problem areas are tackled. The chewing gum clean-up is part of the council's litter campaign.

Since the campaign was launched last year four people have been fined £50 for dropping litter and more than 70 people have been given official warnings about their behaviour.

Talking about the chewing gum clean-up Coun Stephen Harker, council member for community protection, said: "The problem of discarded gum in town centre areas is both unsightly and a nuisance to pedestrians.

"We have cleaned up these areas in the past and are now set to make a concerted effort once again to clear the pavements of Darlington of this problem.

"However, we must urge local people to use the bins provided and think twice before disposing of their gum in such a thoughtless and anti-social manner."

The decision was made to clear the gum away after members of the public approached the council's uniformed wardens and complained about the mess.

Terry Collins, the council's assistant director of environmental services said: "During our enforcement days the problem of discarded gum was brought up by local people talking to our uniformed warden and other council officers involved.

"Whilst they were delighted with the impact of the campaign in making the streets cleaner and more attractive, the main comment was undoubtedly the unsightly mess of discarded chewing gum in main town centre areas.

"We are more committed than ever to tackle the issue and to ensure the streets remain clear for all to enjoy."