AN action plan to improve a town park has been drawn up but residents are being warned it could be a long haul before it returns to its former glory.

Concerns have been raised following a spate of anti-social behaviour at Bishop Auckland Recreation Ground in recent months.

A meeting was held last week to discuss the problems and make plans to tackle the complaints, which have included underage drinking, smashed glass in the grass and litter

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It was chaired by Andrew Walker, of Bishop Auckland and Shildon AAP (AAP), and among those in attendance were Councillor Sam Zair, officers from Durham Police, firefighters from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, and representatives from a number of organisations, including Durham County Council.

Cllr Zair said: “It is going to be a long haul. There isn’t a quick solution to the problem. What has happened is we have brought it to the forefront of people’s minds.

“It isn’t just Bishop Auckland. The majority of parks have these sorts of problems. It has probably been left that little bit too long.

“There is a lot going on in this park for the children and we want them to be able to enjoy it without worrying about things like broken glass and anti-social behaviour.”

Improvement measures being put in place include funding for alcohol outreach workers, posters encouraging people to report problems, foot patrols and a lack of bins to be highlighted.

Cllr Zair added: “It has been acknowledged there is a problem which is not going away unless we do something. We cannot stop it altogether but we have started the ball rolling.”

He is keen to see an alcohol-free zone put in place in the future, a move he thinks will reduce the amount of anti-social behaviour and help the police.

Last year, the park underwent a £60,000 refurbishment, which saw improvements carried out to the tennis courts, bowling green, football pitch and play equipment.

Security shutters on the pavilion doors and windows were also installed.

The improvements were funded by Cllr Zair and the then Durham county councillor Neil Harrison through their neighbourhood budgets. It was also supported by the Bishop Auckland and Shildon AAP.

The agencies and representatives will meet in September to see what progress has been made with reducing anti-social behaviour in the park.