TRADERS in Eaglescliffe are being told to clean up their act after complaints about the amount of rubbish outside a row of shops.

The litter behind the shops in Durham Lane is so bad that local people fear it could pose a health risk for children.

Now Stockton Borough Council is sending round an enforcement officer to order the traders responsible to clear their back yards - or face heavy fines.

Councillor John Fletcher said the rubbish had turned a once tidy area into an eyesore.

"It's just not very nice," he said. "There does come a point when you can't let your property get into such a bad condition.

"In the middle of what is a very decent estate it's an eyesore. The rubbish is in various yards with broken gates and broken walls, which lead out into a service road, which is opposite a children's play area.

"I wouldn't like to be responsible if it were my back yard and children got in."

A Stockton Borough Council spokesman said the authority had written to the owner of the block of shops to demand a clean-up.

"They said it was written into the lease that each trader was responsible for clearing their own areas," he said.

"Now the onus would appear to be on us to speak to the individual shop owners. It's not all of them, it's just one or two, but we are going to send an enforcement officer out to investigate within the next few days."