RESIDENTS of School Aycliffe, a village sat between Newton Aycliffe and Darlington, have been left frustrated as lockdown restrictions tighten in one half of the area.  

The north side of School Aycliffe, which is the original village, is part of County Durham while the south side, a new housing estate named The Chestnuts, is part of the Borough of Darlington. 

This means residents in the same village are facing different coronavirus measures after Durham County Council, one of several North-East councils, wrote to Government asking for tighter restrictions to curb a second outbreak - but Darlington Council did not.  

From midnight tonight, residents in Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and County Durham cannot socialise with other people outside their own households or support bubble.  

Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only and leisure and entertainment venues must close between 10pm and 5am. 

People who live, work and represent others in School Aycliffe have been left wondering how this will work for them. 

Laura Trevelyan, who has two young children, lives in the County Durham side of the village. 

She said: “Honestly this has been a thing for years - see the yearly fireworks argument where Darlington people can't come to Aycliffe fireworks even though it's walking distance. 

“The main issue we’re going to have is that the closer you are to the line the more people are going to think ‘well, but it doesn't mean me’ and try to get around it. I've already seen someone suggest that they can't visit someone in their (Durham-side) house but the Durham person could come to them. 

“But I guess a line has to be drawn somewhere. Just amusingly it's always through our village.” 

The mum is mostly worried about parks and outdoor spaces after not visiting them in the peak of lockdown. 

“I've got a four and a seven-year-old here and we really missed parks,” she added. 

“It is very difficult to arrange park visits sometimes in such a way that you don't look like a clustering of more than six people. Not intentionally, but if it's a sunny day and you're heading to the park after school then so are a lot of other people and all of those kids know each other. 

“Telling a four-year-old who has been in school all day with kids they can play with that they can now only go near a couple of other kids is beyond hard. But the more they tighten restrictions on us the more likely it is that people are going to be staring out of windows reporting, and those people will call the school and call the council. 

“I'm very worried that if they get enough ‘is this socialising’ calls about the parks the councils would just respond by closing them because that would be the easiest way.  

“But when you have two small kids, parks are like a lifeline.” 

The Northern Echo:

Heighington and Coniscliffe ward councillor Gerald Lee, which falls on the Darlington site of the village, said: "It is often the case that those on the periphery of any action or policy tend to be affected more than others. 

"Residents living on the borders of County Durham and Darlington are having to follow the new Covid restrictions when they probably spend more time in the Darlington area than they do in Co Durham 

"These new restrictions are severe but necessary and, whilst I have some sympathy for School Aycliffe families, we all must abide by the advice given. 

"There are no excuses not to. Covid is a killer - full stop. It is essential that everyone keeps their distance, washes often and acts sensibly.  

"We all like to meet with our relations and friends but self-discipline must prevail- better not to meet, than meet, and potentially kill. 

"So, my sympathies go with the residents but they, like everyone irrespective of age, must adhere by the medical advice given." 

When asked specifically about School Aycliffe, Durham County Council confirmed all households in the county must follow the new rules but that finer details are still being ironed out.

Amanda Healy, County Durham’s Director of Public Health, said: “The new restrictions that have been announced by the Government today are aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus to save lives and avoid a full lockdown.

"The rules apply to all households within the Durham County Council local authority area. We are still awaiting clarification from Government on the finer details and will keep residents updated through our website and social media channels.”

Darlington Council has also been contacted for comment.