CHILDREN joined councillors and dignitaries to open a long-awaited bypass in their town.

Youngsters from St Cuthbert's RC Primary, Hartside Primary, Crook Nursery, Peases West Primary and Crook Primary helped Government chief whip Hilary Armstrong and councillors Bob Pendlebury and Trevor Carroll formally unveil the new Crook bypass yesterday.

The 1km road will be named Peases Way to reflect Crook's history and its links with the Pease family.

Work on the road started in December last year and was completed in 39 weeks.

The aim of the project is to reduce the amount of traffic in Crook's market place.

It was mostly funded by Durham County Council's five year local transport plan and takes the A689 south from a new roundabout at West Road, near Crook Town FC, along the line of the former railway to Prospect Road, which has been widened.

A T-junction at New Road at the south end of the scheme has been improved.

Other work included the creation of a wetland, which takes most of the highway drainage, upgraded access for factories and improved facilities next to the Macdonalds Industrial Estate, and a new access on the main bypass, which opens up land to the west of the road for housing.

A spokeswoman for the county council said: "In keeping with the county council's policy, the works used natural local construction materials and waste was kept to a minimum."