YOUNGSTERS are celebrating after councillors gave the go-ahead to plans for the first skate parks in North-West Durham.

Derwentside Leisure, working on behalf of Derwentside Youth Forum, won planning permission to build the parks, costing £30,000 each, in Consett and Stanley.

Mike Clark, the council's general manager, said: "This is the first step in responding to current fashions and providing a safe area that older kids actually want to use.

"Twelve-year-olds don't want a hackneyed play area with slides and swings. They want somewhere to hang out with their pals and be safe, which this will achieve."

The news follows more than a year of work by the youth forum to find suitable sites and money for the schemes.

The group was set up as the result of Derwentside District Council's Spice Project, which aimed to give youngsters a greater voice in local government.

The council gave the forum £10,000 to get started last year and its elected members decided to put the cash towards applying for extra funding, to provide skateboarding facilities.

But the youngsters struggled to get a National Lottery bid together in time for this year's deadline and were facing a long wait for further funding.

The council came to their rescue, with an extra £50,000 for the scheme.

"We launched the project some 18 months ago and were beginning to get concerned that some of these kids would be in work by the time we got the skate parks up and running," said Mr Clark.

"We asked the councillors to put their money where their mouth is and we are delighted they did so."

The park in Stanley will be on the site of the former swimming baths in the High Street, while the Consett venue will be attached to Belle Vue leisure centre.

Each park will cater for skateboarders, BMX bikers and in-line skaters, and will include a skate-friendly surface, equipment and security fencing.

Leisure chiefs said the skate park could be open in time for the school summer holidays.

If they prove a success, Mr Clark said they could be expanded - and more parks could follow across Derwentside.