AN innovative experiment is taking place in Darlington next weekend to highlight the cost of keeping the borough tidy.

From November 15 to 17 a fence will be erected through Market Square and another in Stanhope Green and the council will only pick up litter on one side.

The other side will be left by the Street Scene team to fend for itself.

The aim is to show people what happens when councils stop clearing up after people and is part of a national campaign run by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.

Darlington Council currently spends more than £1.2m dealing with litter in the borough, but as revealed in Wednesday’s The Northern Echo, cabinet members are considering cutting back street cleaning spending by £600,000.

The council wants residents to take greater responsibility for their surroundings and Coun Nick Wallis, cabinet member for local environment said: “We are delighted to be involved in this national Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the council to demonstrate just how much litter we have to pick up after people, especially following a weekend.

“It will be interesting to see if the fences prompt people to put their rubbish in a bin.”

Nationally councils spend £1bn a year cleaning up rubbish and the chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, Phil Barton, said it was time for everyone to realise the scale of the task facing local authorities.

He said: “The question we all need to ask ourselves is ‘When it comes to litter, which side of the fence are you on?’

“The answer to solving the litter problem that blights our country is in our own hands.

“We need to take responsibility for our own behaviour and do one simple thing – put our rubbish in a bin.

“We are delighted that Darlington Borough Council is joining with us in this activity.

“Local authorities are working tirelessly to deal with the problem of litter but they cannot solve the problem alone.

“They need support from individuals, communities and businesses.”