AS the Council drives ahead with its vision of regenerating and brightening Blackburn with a traffic-free town-centre and pavement cafs, it is timely that extra action is being taken to deal with another crucial aspect of making the town attractive to shoppers and visitors -- its litter problem.

Time and again, this newspaper is bombarded with complaints, from both townsfolk and outsiders, about the filthy state of the streets -- especially in comparison to those of towns elsewhere at home and abroad.

True, the real responsibility is that of the litter louts whose shameful attitude and behaviour sullies the town's image. And no doubt, more pro-active measures are needed to curb them -- by much stricter enforcement of the anti-littering laws and perhaps also by the adoption of the on-the-spot fines that neighbouring Hyndburn has introduced in conjunction with its progressive litter warden scheme.

But, encouragingly, Blackburn with Darwen Council is addressing the other realities of the problem -- namely, its size and extent -- as it now declares war on rubbish right across the borough. Not just in the worst blackspots, but also in the back streets.

For wherever it is found, litter is not just an eyesore and a social nuisance, it is also a health hazard and an actual blight on the community's efforts to progress and attract new investment.

Now the council, which spends £1.2million each year on cleaning the streets, announces it is to launch a beefed-up drive against rubbish by introducing new state-of-the=art equipment and employing extra cleansing staff.

This is a welcome recognition that the problem needs all-out confrontation and of the importance that clean and tidy streets -- everywhere -- have in improving the quality of life of the people of Blackburn and Darwen and in helping to realise the dream that Blackburn has embarked upon, of bringing its town centre into the 21st Century and surviving in the economic competition with other towns.

And if this drive is backed up by tough action against the louts as well as against the litter, real improvements should follow.