VANDALS are threatening a successful drive to improve the environment and keep down council tax bills.

Derwentside District Council yesterday issued a warning to the vandals that their destruction of "bring sites", where people take rubbish for recycling, is threatening the entire service.

In the past six months, coun-cil cleaners have been called out to dozens of cases of yobs tipping over skips, throwing rubbish around residential areas and in one case littering a play area with broken glass.

The trail of destruction, combined with an increase in the amount of fly-tipping, has led to six of the sites being closed across Derwentside with about another 30 under threat.

The scheme to encourage recycling, especially of bottles and paper, has been a major part of the council's plans to increase the amount of waste recycled in the district.

Last year, the Government increased the cost of using landfill sites for rubbish by 35 per cent and set the target of 30 per cent for all waste to be recycled in the next few years.

At the time just two per cent of rubbish was recycled in Derwentside but a house-to-house collection scheme combined with the bring site project has increased that to more than seven per cent with more than 50 per cent of the community having become involved with recycling.

The council hopes the participation of the public will mean council tax will not have to be increased to meet Government targets.

John Shepherd, head of general services at the council, said the number of attacks by vandals had increased in the past six months. He said: "It's a real shame especially after the great response we've had from the public.

"We've had to close them across the district, including successful ones at Lanchester and Langley Park for the sake of a few idiots.

"The vandals have already cost us money. So much time has been spent cleaning up after them that in some areas it is hardly worth providing the bring sites at all.

"We just hope people will report the vandals, and new street wardens, to be appointed next year, will be able to keep an eye on the remaining sites.