AN initiative is aiming to protect firms on industrial estates from crime and boost their business.

Billingham-based Cowpen Industrial Association has joined up with Stockton Borough Council to introduce business improvement districts, which allow businesses in an area to apply for extra resources.

Extra income collected by local authorities but controlled and spent by business associations can be invested in security and in raising the profile of the business area.

It is hoped such a district can be set up for the Cowpen Lane Industrial Estate, if supported by the majority of businesses.

A series of meetings will be held by the industrial association to gain the support of local business people.

Councillor Bob Cook, Stockton Borough Council's cabinet member for development and regeneration, said: "It is an imaginative and positive solution which has a great deal of potential, and I am sure that together we will make it a success."