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Adults with learning disabilities and schoolchildren are helping to Spruce Up a County Durham village.

Men and women who use the services of county charity Daybreak and pupils from St Joseph’s RCVA Primary School are joining in Durham County Council’s Operation Spruce Up, which is this month at Coundon.

Spruce Up sees teams from across the council’s different service areas coming together for an intensive clean up in a new location each month.

The work at Coundon is taking in Tees Walk, Collingwood Street and surrounding areas and will see council staff joined by local members, representatives of Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership (AAP) and the Bishop Auckland and Coundon In Bloom group, and staff and pupils from St Joseph’s RCVA Primary School.

Together they are sweeping and clearing footpaths, clearing channels and gullys, removing and replacing old bins, installing new dog bins and repairing benches and fencing. Weeds are also being removed from paths and green spaces, shrub beds and bedding removed, pruned and replanted, trees maintained and pruned, and shrub beds pruned and removed at the entrance to the village.

In addition staff from, and people supported by, Daybreak are helping council teams pick up litter while the schoolchildren are helping the authority’s countryside rangers to make bird and bat boxes, to be fitted at the nearby Auckland Walk.

The charity helps adults with learning disabilities and additional needs, providing an extensive independent living skills programme tailored to meet individual needs such as healthy living, cooking, travel training, relationships and employment.

The council’s civic pride team is also going into St Joseph’s and Victoria Lane Academy to deliver assemblies on the importance of looking after the local environment, as well as organising poster competitions. Winning entries will be displayed around local businesses and community buildings.

The work at Coundon was originally meant to be taking place last month but was postponed due to bad weather.

Cllr Brian Stephens, the council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “It’s great to be in Coundon, albeit a month late!

“It’s also fantastic to have so many partners on board for the work, especially those from Daybreak, the schoolchildren and the In Bloom group, and we’re going to be working really hard to ensure the local environment is in tip-top condition while we’re here.”

Headteacher at St Joseph’s Madeleine Brown said: “Our pupils are really passionate about keeping their community both spotless and safe.

“We are delighted to be part of such an important project and to be working with Durham County Council and others towards making Coundon as clean and tidy as possible.”

Spruce Up launched in November 2016 and is visiting one town or village from each of the council’s AAP catchments.

In November, council teams were at Newton Aycliffe focusing on Bluebell Woods and the town’s underpasses. Children from Byerley Park Primary School and community group Horndale Residents Association helped plant mini daffodil bulbs while the civic pride team went into St Francis C of E Primary School to give an assembly and organise a poster competition.

The programme is currently in the running for a national prize, having been shortlisted in the environmental services category of the Local Government Chronicle Awards 2018.

To find out more about Operation Spruce Up, www.durham.gov.uk/spruceup

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