I WRITE on behalf of Durham County Council in response to the letter from a Newton Aycliffe resident headed "Workers protection" (HAS, Mar 27) asking why we are still allowing our "litter pickers" to work.

Firstly, I would like to emphasise that we take the health and safety of both our staff and residents extremely seriously and would do nothing to jeopardise this.

Our Clean and Green teams are prioritising work during the pandemic, with the main focus on that linked to environmental health – including the emptying of litter bins.

We are ensuring the teams – like all our other services which work in public places – are complying with all relevant guidance issued by the government to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Our Clean and Green staff are all abiding by the guidance to maintain social distance while working and have stopped travelling in groups for this reason.

All workers are equipped with protective equipment including gloves and in the current climate are taking breaks in their vehicles.

We are doing everything we can to ensure that the services we deliver, like the vital work of the Clean and Green teams in keeping our county unspoilt by litter, can be maintained as much as possible during the pandemic.

However, I would reassure your correspondent that this will only be done in full compliance with all relevant government guidance.

Jimmy Bennett, Clean and Green manager, Durham County Council.