YOUNGSTERS have made an impassioned plea to traders to back their campaign to build a cinema.

Kate Vickers and Jaime Flinn, both 12, have put together a petition to gain support for their scheme to get a cinema in Bishop Auckland.

The two students from St John's Roman Catholic School, in Bishop Auckland, have been collecting signatures from parents, teachers and students.

Kate, who lives in South Church, said: "We came up with the idea after we had been to the cinema at the MetroCentre. We thought we would start with a petition to see what sort of response we would get and it has all gone from there."

Kate's grandmother, Audrey Vickers, passed the petition on to hairdresser Jean Wombwell, who runs Trimmers, in Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, to see if traders would support the campaign.

Mrs Wombwell said: "Now is the right time to move forward with ideas for Bishop Auckland. There are so many big things happening within the town and a cinema would be great for young people."

Mrs Vickers said: "When I was younger there were four or five cinemas in Bishop Auckland and we had a dance hall and everything.

"There is nothing left in the town for people of Kate's age. I know people will say that there is a cinema at the MetroCentre and Teesside Park, but not everybody has a car and which parent would send a 12-year-old all that way on a bus by themselves?''

Kate and Jaime have already put their case to Wear Valley District Council after appearing on local radio.

Kate said: "The council has told us they would love to build a cinema in the town, but they would need big cinema companies to want to come here before they can look at the idea. We are now going to write to the big cinemas to ask them if they would be interested."

Bishop Auckland Town Centre manager Derek Toon said he would back the plea.

"I have already been given the petition. The problem is that we cannot get cinemas to come to the town, but I will definitely have a look and see what we can do," he said.