Group eager to clean-up and restore Bishop Auckland

A FACEBOOK group has been created to raise awareness to the council of how ‘unhappy’ residents have become with the condition of their town and the local surrounding areas.

The non-political community group ‘let’s clean up Bishop Auckland’, started by town resident Brian Sutton, has attracted nearly 700 members on Facebook, including MP Dehenna Davison, Durham County Councillors, and Bishop Auckland Town Councillors.

The main aim of the group is to highlight town issues, including fly tipping, a lack of litter bins on main roads in the area, rat and pigeon infestations around Morrison’s and the Cockton Hill area, and an increase in dog mess in many of the main thoroughfares.

The Northern Echo: Fly-tipping is a blight on the townFly-tipping is a blight on the town

Mr Sutton said the group receives photos and notifications daily regarding concerns of the state of Bishop Auckland, and members are determined to have their voices heard.

The retired 65-year-old said: “When I was out walking the dog and wandering around in the town, I noticed a lot of litter and rubbish and places falling apart.

“I took a photograph along Cockton Hill of litter and building materials that had been there for months, and I put it on Facebook- I was amazed at the response and the number of hits the post got.

The Northern Echo: A problem captured by a town residentA problem captured by a town resident

“A lot of people were agreeing that things needed improving, so I created the Facebook group let’s clean-up Bishop Auckland, which grows every day.

“The group is totally non-political, and I made it purely with the intention of bringing awareness to the problems in Bishop, and to make the council have a proactive response to issues rather than a reactive response.

“The group can’t get together at the moment because of Covid restrictions, but we’ve done a lot of cleaning up with litter picks, and we’ve been very motivated to get problems sorted.

The Northern Echo: The group hopes that spreading word of the problems will make the council more proactiveThe group hopes that spreading word of the problems will make the council more proactive

“The more members the group gets, the louder we can shout, and the more we can be heard.”

Oliver Sherratt, Durham County Council’s head of environment, said: “We would be happy to work with any group to improve areas within their community. Our Civic Pride team works with residents, community groups, schools, and businesses to make their neighbourhoods a cleaner and greener place to live.

“Any concerns, such as dog litter and fly-tipping, can be reported through our ‘do it online’ system or customer services.

The Northern Echo: Mr Sutton said rats have become a huge problem in old, derelict buildings in the town centreMr Sutton said rats have become a huge problem in old, derelict buildings in the town centre

“Our teams, such as street cleaning and wardens, operate within Bishop Auckland on a regular basis to target priority areas and our Community Action Team has been working with residents in Cockton Hill to address their concerns.

“In the next month we have 18 upcoming prosecutions for fly-tipping incidences within the county.

“Our Towns and Villages Strategy identifies ways to improve and enhance communities across the county, including Bishop Auckland.

The Northern Echo: Overflowing bins have become a reoccurring problem in the townOverflowing bins have become a reoccurring problem in the town

“We have a detailed investment plan for the town, including our Future High Street fund programme, and our recent bid of £46.8 million for the Stronger Towns Fund which will both be used towards further investments in property across the town along with improving public areas.

“Our established Heritage Action Zone programme also includes a £460,000 conservation area grants scheme to focus on revitalising areas of the town.

“We work with a range of stakeholder groups across the town and would be happy to discuss concerns over individual properties or how they might be brought back into productive use.”

To help the group with their town mission, join Let’s clean-up Bishop Auckland on facebook.

The Northern Echo | Durham