DURHAM County Council will offer a period of grace to first-time offenders who park illegally when it takes over responsibility for enforcement in former district areas of the county.

The change in Teesdale, Wear Valley and Sedgefield, will bring these areas into line with the rest of County Durham.

From May 6 advice letters will be issued to any drivers found to be breaking the rules.

Then when the council officially takes over enforcement on May 31, for the following ten days letters of advice will be replaced by warning notices for first offences

The council will then begin issuing live penalty charge notices on June 10.

Adrian White, head of transport and contract services, said: “We hope that the advice and warnings will inform drivers who are unaware of parking restrictions in south Durham and help them avoid being issued with a penalty once we take responsibility for enforcement.”