RESIDENTS living next to an ancient monument are celebrating after a council agreed to work with them to bring it back to life.

Those living in The Dell and The Willows, in Bishop Auckland, have been campaigning for more than two years to restore and protect the horse trough, which was erected in 1873 to provide refreshments to horses on their way to the town's market.

However, when Durham Road was built to provide modern access into the town in the 1920s, the route became less travelled and the trough neglected.

The residents then petitioned with the Bishop Auckland and Coundon in Bloom group, and Durham County Council's highways committee has now passed proposals to stop vehicles parking by the trough which had damaged it.

Now residents are hoping everyone can enjoy the wooded area and have even planted thousands of crocus bulbs to encourage people to use the walkway to and from the town.

The group were granted £1,370 from the North of England Horticultural Society to plant the bulbs, which have just started to bloom.

The new parking restrictions should be introduced within the next six to eight weeks.

Resident and bloom group member, Mario Rea, said he was really pleased at the news after conducting an initial survey with his neighbours and hoped to bring the monument back to life.

He said: "People are actually using it now and hopefully we can get a little sign."

Durham County Councillor for Bishop Auckland Town, Joy Allan, added: "This is great news for the residents of The Dell and The Willows who have been campaigning tirelessly to protect the temperance water fountain by stopping cars blocking the entrance and in doing so damaging the fountain.

"The decision by the highways committee to approve parking restrictions is a welcome one as it will open up beautiful gateway to and from the market place which we hope many local people and residents will enjoy."

"It's nice to see the bulbs bringing colour through and this is part of a long-term project where we hope to transform this area," Nigel Bryson, of the bloom group, said. "We are trying to encourage the community to take more ownership and responsibility f the areas they live in."