RESIDENTS on Darlington's mobile library route are being encouraged to pick up litter as well as books next time they visit.

The mobile library run by Darlington Borough Council will loan out litter picking equipment in a bid to encourage communities to take more responsibility for the upkeep of their neighbourhoods.

It comes as a senior councillor warned this week that standards in the borough will ‘deteriorate considerably’ unless residents step in to fill shortfalls caused by cuts to council services.

The council currently spends more than £1.2m dealing with litter annually, but the need to shave millions of its budget means cabinet members are considering halving the amount it spends on street cleaning services.

The litter pick lending idea was suggested by a resident at a council litter reduction meeting and Councillor Nick Wallis, cabinet member for local environment, said: “Anything that can encourage people to look after their local environment is a great idea.

“I hope people get involved and help to keep our borough beautiful.”

Darlington Mayor Gerald Lee, who is also the chair of Litter Free Durham, said he was passionate about litter free communities.

He added: “It doesn’t take much to put your litter in the bin or take it home with you if there isn’t a bin nearby, but unfortunately litter gets dropped.

“I do hope people will pick up a litter pick and hoop from the mobile lending library and pick up litter when they are out and about.

“We all need to work together to make Darlington a litter free town.”

More than 370 Street Champions and many residents already play an active part in litter pick activities and other initiatives to help keep Darlington tidy. Friends Groups also play an integral role in the upkeep of parks, nature reserves and open spaces.

By providing litter picking equipment on loan from the mobile library, the council hopes that more people can get involved in keeping their area tidy as and when they wish, rather than taking part in more formal litter pick events.

Proof of ID or a Library card is required to borrow the equipment.

Library cards are free and would-be members can join at the mobile library or at Crown Street or Cockerton libraries.

Residents can find out when the mobile library visits their area as well as information about other services the mobile library provides by visiting