A programme which gets County Durham town and village centres clean and green has celebrated its second birthday.

Durham County Council’s Operation Spruce Up involves teams from across the authority joining forces in one community at a time, to give it a thorough clean.

Spruce Up won a prestigious national award earlier this year, having been named campaign of the year at the Keep Britain Tidy Awards.

The programme launched in November 2016 and marked its two year anniversary by calling at Middlestone Moor and Spennymoor – the scene of its first Spruce Up.

The 24th scheme saw council teams working in Clarence Street, Stratton Street, Robert Street, Bellburn Way and surrounding areas, Sprucing Up footpaths, channels, benches, fencing, gullies, shrubs, trees, bollards, bins, lampposts, drains and signposts.

Particular attention was given to shrub beds and green spaces around car parks and to parks. Shrubs were removed and seed planted which will grow into grass over the coming months.

Council staff also tackled weeds and litter and spoke to businesses about how they get rid of their waste and keep their surroundings free of rubbish.

Meanwhile, a mini-Spruce Up has also been held along a popular walkway at Seaham.

The work at the former railway line which runs from the A19 past Parkside and through Dawdon to the town’s harbour began with a litter pick.

Authority teams including representatives from the Heritage Coast Partnership and local Cllrs Kevin Shaw and Leanne Kennedy were joined by local residents and representatives from McDonald’s at Dalton Park, Seaham Town Council and County Durham Housing Group.C

Together, they collected 42 bags of litter.

Council staff will be returning to clear bigger items of waste in the new year.

The work followed a similar clean-up of the walkway in 2015.

Cllr Brian Stephens, the council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “We are immensely proud to have reached two years of Operation Spruce Up.

“Our towns and village centres are vital to our county and it is important that they look as good as they possibly can.”

Oliver Sherratt, the council’s head of direct services, said: “We have had really positive feedback following the work we have done through this programme and hopefully people at Middlestone Moor and Spennymoor, and at Seaham, will be just as pleased with the results.

“We look forward to Sprucing Up more town and village centres in 2019.”

Spruce Up moves to a different location each month, with these chosen in partnership with the council’s 14 Area Action Partnerships.

Since it started, more than 4,000 children and young people have got involved, helping with planting, collecting litter and designing posters to encourage people to dispose of their rubbish responsibly.