PLANS to introduce parking wardens in five south Durham towns are one step nearer after councillors agreed the financial details.

On-street parking in Bishop Auckland, Shildon, Barnard Castle, Spennymoor and Newton Aycliffe is currently monitored and enforced by the police.

But Durham County Council is looking to have the task carried out by wardens.

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At the council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday councillors agreed the financial report, which will now be used as part of an application to the Secretary of State.

The 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.

Councillor Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said the changes were not about money making but about allowing people to have the best use of space available.

“It has never been top of the police agenda but it could be part of our agenda. I think it is needed in the south of the county.”

Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said parking had improved since enforcement measures had been brought in throughout the north of the county.