COUNCILLORS are being recommended to approve the next stage in the introduction of parking wardens in five south Durham towns.

On-street parking in Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland, Newton Aycliffe, Shildon and Spennymoor is currently monitored and enforced by the police, but Durham County Council wants the duty to be carried out by wardens.

The council's cabinet is being asked to approve the financial report next week, which shows the introduction of wardens would make the council an extra £10,000 a year.

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Durham County Council makes £587,000 a year from pay and display off-street car parks in Bishop Auckland, and Barnard Castle, but pays a contractor £128,000 to monitor and enforce paid-for car parks.

In the business case, council officers estimate the new wardens would raise a further £134,000 a year although would cost £124,000.

Ian Thompson, corporate director of regeneration and economic development, said the council has been planning to introduce civil parking enforcement since 2007 and has already done so in the north of the county.

He said the introduction of wardens would lead to a predicted £20,000 boost to the offstreet car parks' funds as a result of people who previously parked illegally paying for parking.

Mr Thompson estimates that a further £114,000 would be made each year from fines issued to drivers who continue to park illegally.

If the business case is approved at the cabinet's next meeting, which is being held at the Bowes Museum, in Barnard Castle, at 12.30pm next Wednesday, it will then be referred to the Secretary of State for Transport for approval with a view to introducing the wardens later in the year.

Neil Foster, Durham County Council's cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said: "The business case demonstrates how we can afford to take on this additional responsibility without incurring any financial burden.

"It also shows how introducing civil parking enforcement should not only improve compliance with parking regulations and vastly reduce inconsiderate parking but also bring in money, which the authority will be able to use on other transport-related projects."