PEOPLE are invited to a good night out in Bishop Auckland but troublemakers are warned to stay away tomorrow.

Police and publicans in the town are preparing for potentially their busiest night of the year - New Year's Eve.

Durham Police will be sending extra officers to patrol in the town centre to combat any problems arising from drunken antics.

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However, the force said it was as a precaution and should not affect genuine partygoers having a good time.

Landlords are also urging people to come and enjoy a night out in the town centre, saying that its reputation as being rough is unfounded.

Sergeant Dave Hancock, from the Bishop Auckland neighbourhood policing team, said: "The message is come and enjoy a good night out in Bishop Auckland, but be sure to behave yourselves."

PC Alistair Henry said officers were offering a choice of transport home for people out in the town.

He said: "Either they can go home in a taxi having had a great and memorable night out with their friends, or they will come back to the station in our van because they acted stupidly and irresponsibly - the choice is theirs."

Publicans have welcomed the extra police presence after a busy night on Boxing Day which saw several arrests made after minor incidents.

Siobhan Hodge, manager of the Stanley Jefferson Wetherspoons in the market place, said: "Boxing Day was a busy night. I've been here six months and have not seen anything quite like it.

"But once again, of the many, many people who were out, it was only a tiny minority set on spoiling things."

Several of the town's pubs, including theMerryMonk, No 1 Champagne Bar, Castles and Monaco's nightclub, have achieved Best Bar None status which is given based on their ability to provide a fun and safe night out.

Chris Ball, chairman of the town centre's licensing association and landlord of the Merry Monk, which was named best bar, said test purchases by police and enforcement of the Challenge 21 scheme, where anyone looking younger than 21 is asked to provide ID, have yielded good results.