ONE of the most common complaints about Darlington from letter writers and commenters on The Northern Echo website is about the cleanliness of the town centre.

Those who write in believe the borough council should do more to maintain standards.

In recent months, amid fears for the future of high street shopping following a number of store closures, the likes of North-East retail expert Graham Soult have also called for “basic housekeeping” to be made a priority for Darlington town centre.

Citing research by the Institute of Place Management which found that a retail centre’s visual appearance is the second most important factor influencing its vitality, Mr Soult said attractive town centres not only encourage shoppers to visit, but also make the prospect of businesses investing more likely.

Fair play to the council – it has listened to these comments and taken action, investing £60,000 in ten solar-powered bins which compact waste and can hold eight times more litter than traditional receptacles.

The outlay does seem like a lot of money for an authority which has made such huge cutbacks in recent years, and the lack of a vote by councillors on the cost gives opposition members even more opportunity to go on the attack.

Tackling the idiots who throw the litter in the first place would be a better idea, but if the new bins do help clean up the town centre in the long term, then it could be £60,000 well spent.