COMMUNITY leaders are putting together a bid for up to £1.5m on behalf of three deprived communities.

Derwentside District Council has identified South Stanley, South Moor, and Craghead, all near Stanley, as one of the district's biggest areas of unemployment and so qualifying for the cash.

The Neighbourhood Management Path Finder money is being made available by the Government as part of a new scheme.

Community groups, individual members of the public, as well as the council, must be involved in making the bid and a new area partnership group, called the Stanley Green Corridor Neighbourhood Partnership, has been founded.

The bid must be submitted to the Department of the Environment by Friday, April 20.

If successful the group will be in charge of the money for a period of five years, from 2001 to 2006.

The money could be used to augment council and police services to help improve facilities in the area.

Members of the partnership have already identified facilities for young people, parks and play areas, transport and traffic control measures as areas that could be improved.

Derwentside council identified the area as having a high enough level of unemployment and a big enough population to quality for the Government money available for grants.

The area chosen has a population of 11,219.

Ward councillor Les Vaux stressed that the figure of £1.5m had not yet been decided as the final figure.

He said: "It will certainly be an amount of money which would be of great use to the area.

"Basically, it puts power in the hands of the people and councillors would only be allowed on, if elected to the partnership.

"If the people of the area decided that say, rubbish collection needs improving, they could add resources to the council specifically for that. It would be for the people to decide.

"Joe Public who attends any meeting will have as much say as anyone else, if he is from the area."

Speaking at a council meeting, the leader of Derwentside council, Alex Watson, welcomed the bid, and said it was a groundbreaking project, which is making a massive amount of funding available.

The Government will make a decision whether to grant the cash in the coming months if the bid is submitted by April 20