A COUNCIL yesterday signed up to a charter set up to bring more film and TV production to the region.

Wear Valley District Council subscribed to Northern Film and Media's Filming Friendly and Partnership Charter at a ceremony in Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland, in County Durham.

The agree-ment, described as historic by the screen agency's chief executive, Tom Harvey, allows filming to take place at locations across the district.

It is hoped it will encourage more big screen and television productions to be shot in the area, bringing increased tourism, more jobs and greater pride.

Wear Valley District Council is the third local authority to sign up, behind Newcastle City Council and Chester-le-Street District Council. Chairman of regeneration Councillor Geoff Mowbray signed the charter.

"I'm very pleased and proud to be here today to sign this charter, marking what we hope could and should be a very productive and very beneficial partnership," he said.

Several productions have recently been shot in the Wear Valley, including a Virgin Train advert featuring Apache Indians in Eastgate. Episodes of Antiques Roadshow and Most Haunted have also been filmed at Auckland Castle and Killhope Lead Mine respectively.

In March, a group of film-makers were given a guided tour of potential locations by the council's tourism manager, Mike Richardson, and Steve Reed, of Steve Reed Tourism.

It is estimated that £7m is brought to the region every year by production companies, but Northern Film and Media hopes the charter will help to increase that figure.

The Filming Friendly Partnership was launched on the set of Atonement, part of which was filmed in Redcar, east Cleveland, last year.

Mr Harvey said: "It's an important document for us and I think it is historic.

"The North-East already has the world-class locations, but we need to make it quicker, easier and cheaper - more attractive - for production companies to shoot here.

"The Filming Friendly Partnership aims to do just this. The signature of Coun Mowbray could be a great step towards more film and TV production here.

"It is vital that each of the 25 local authorities sign up to this charter, so we can sell ourselves as a truly filming friendly region."