A COMMUNITY stalwart has been been recognised for using his voice and expertise to improve his local area.

Derek Briggs, chairman of Chester-le-Street Central Residents’ Association, was awarded Durham County Council’s Chairman’s Medal from the authority’s Chairman, Councillor Katie Corrigan, for the many years he has dedicated to helping his community.

In the post Mr Briggs has held for the last 11 years, he has gained a reputation for speaking up for residents who do not have the confidence to raise concerns themselves, helping people to tackle a wide range of issues, including problem landlords and parking, and even attending court hearings in the process.

Mr Briggs works hard to encourage good relationships between residents and organisations such as the council and the police, and acts as a police liaison officer, even carrying out speeding checks to help keep the area’s roads safe.

Presenting him with his medal, Cllr Corrigan, said: “Derek is a very committed member of the residents’ association, always putting other people first and giving up much of his time to improve the area.

“His knowledge, energy and enthusiasm have been of huge benefit to the town and Derek thoroughly deserves this recognition for his contribution to the community.”

The popularity of the residents’ association’s regular social evenings, which help to form a bond between residents and their local councillors, has also been credited as a result of Mr Brigg’s energy and commitment.

Mr Briggs is passionate about improving the lives of young people and has been involved in several projects at local schools, getting pupils involved in art and teaching them to look after the environment through green planting schemes. His passion for keeping the town clean and green has seen him organise and take part in litter picks and wild flower seed planting, and he has also been heavily involved in the town’s RHS Britain in Bloom competition entries.

As well as being a member of his local Area Action Partnership board and chairman of the environment and community task group, he is volunteer at his local food banks.