RESIDENTS of an east Durham community are to get an important say in how thousands of pounds will be spent to improve their area.

From today (Thursday October 23) community groups and organisations will be able to apply to a £26,000 fund which has been secured to benefit Seaham.

A £10,000 grant has come from Durham Constabulary, a further £10,000 from an Our Place grant and a neighbourhood budget of £6,000, jointly provided by Seaham councillors Eddie Bell, Jennifer Bell, Sonia Forster, Kevin Shaw, Sue Morrison and Geraldine Bleasdale.

The overall aim is to develop and fund community projects in Seaham through a process known as Participatory Budgeting (PB).

The police and other agencies involved in the scheme took part in a formal launch at Seaham police station today (Thursday, October 23).

The launch follows on from community engagement work in the Deneside area of Seaham, carried out by the local neighbourhood policing team and the East Durham Area Action Partnership.

Cllr Eddie Bell said: “We are really pleased that this fund, the result of partnership work between the local community, Durham Constabulary and Durham County Council, is being launched in Seaham.

“It will provide a great opportunity for a large number of people to get involved in decision-making and for groups to raise their profile in the community and attract new members.”

Inspector Darren Walton, head of neighbourhood policing for Seaham said: “The process will give local people a direct say in how resources are allocated.

“The end result will be a number of new projects which should be a real benefit to the community.”

A PB event will be held at Seaham Youth Centre at a time to be announced on January 17 next year.

Residents will will vote on projects which will help provide activities for young people, provide support for vulnerable people or support “target hardening” of properties to make them more crime-resistant.

Principal Area Action Partnership co-ordinator Shealagh (CORR) Pearce said: “This is the community setting their own priorities and what is important to them instead of funding being allocated by statutory bodies.

“It is opened up to the community to vote on what is important to them and they allocate the resources.”

For further information contact the East Durham Area Action Partnership on 03000 262056 or email