A TRANSPORT project that helps jobseekers, reduces congestion and protects the environment is expanding thanks to £840,000 in funding.

Durham County Council’s Local Motion project has been awarded the money from the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund for 2015/16.

Local Motion aims to make it easier to walk, cycle and take public transport in the south of the county.

The funding means that the project, which the awarding body commended for helping improve the employment opportunities of those without a car, will be expanded next year to include the Spennymoor, Crook and Willington areas.

Improvements to walking routes and their promotion will be carried out and a range of measures put in place to improve bus services.

As well as ensuring communities have easier links to major employment sites in Newton Aycliffe, Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor there will also be improved services to Darlington.

Jobseekers who have found employment or training will also be offered a pre-paid smartcard to cover their travelling costs until they receive their first month’s wages.

As well as improving the cycle network, bicycles will also be made more easily available by providing refurbished bikes at a discount. Cycle safety and security will be promoted and training will be given at Jobcentres and workplaces.

The funding will also allow Mega Motion, which promotes healthier and greener ways of travelling to children, to be introduced to new areas

Councillor Neil Foster, cabinet member for economic regeneration at Durham County Council, said: “By supporting alternative ways of travelling, we make sure that people without cars can access more opportunities as well as reducing traffic and protecting our environment.”