INCREASED neighbourhood warden patrols and a weekly drop-in market stall are some of the short-term measures unveiled for a town hit by two devastating fires.

Durham County Council has also briefed a dedicated officer to work with the owners of fire-damaged properties in Stanley.

Several business were forced to close following an arson attack in Front Street, on Friday, December 13. The blaze came a month after another fire leading to the destruction and demolition of the Elite buildings.

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The latest moves build on a series of steps already in place, with the county council, firefighters, Durham Constabulary, Stanley Town Council and local councillors working together.

These include more than £1m set aside for street and shop front improvements and a new Customer Access Point. The Shop Watch scheme in the town recently switched from analogue to digital to give retailers even quicker contact with CCTV operators.

All key partners met yesterday (Thursday, January 9) and went on a walkabout in the town for a first-hand look at immediate problems. The meeting was called by local members and chaired by Stanley ward councillor Carl Marshall.

Coun Marshall said: “It was a hugely constructive meeting and reinforces the fact that we are all working together to help the continued recovery following the recent fires.

“Ensuring the town is a safe place to live, work and visit, both now and in the long-term, remains a top priority.”

He added: “The short term measures, along with the work already being done or planned, demonstrate our commitment to Stanley and we will also be looking at medium and long-term plans.”

The landscaping of Front Street is already underway and there are plans to improve the links between the town’s car parks, bus station and Front Street area. New street lighting is set to installed later this month.