A RESCUE team is to receive £500 to help its work - thanks to its local council persuading residents to pay their council tax bills by direct debit.

A successful campaign was run by officials of Teesdale District Council, based at Barnard Castle, to coax householders into paying automatically through banks.

It worked so well that banking service BACS, which deals with direct debit, has awarded it £500 for a charity of its choice.

Councillors have decided to hand the cash over to the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Rescue team.

Joanne Kellett, the council's head of finance services, said yesterday that during the year, the number of people paying the direct way rose from 4,891 to 5,413 - an increase of 5 per cent.