Visitors and residents of Bishop Auckland and Stanley can now get online for free as public Wi-Fi has been introduced in the town centres.

Durham County Council has funded the new system in partnership with Bishop Auckland Town Council, Bishop Auckland Town Team and Stanley Area Action Partnership.

Users can now connect to the ‘Connected Bishop Auckland’ and ‘Connected Stanley’ system and logon via a simple form or through social media.

The Wi-Fi zone in Bishop Auckland runs along Fore Bondgate, to the Market Place and down Newgate Street to Morrison’s roundabout. In Stanley the zone runs along the main Front Street and down to The Louisa Centre.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Having free Wi-Fi will be hugely beneficial for the town centres in both Bishop Auckland and Stanley. It is an important part of a town’s infrastructure and something that forward looking and thriving towns need to invest in.”

Cllr Joy Allen, the council’s Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “This will make the town centres a more vibrant and attractive place for residents, visitors, businesses and shoppers. We hope that the offer of free Wi-Fi will increase the time people spend in the town centres, as well as encourage additional footfall, which will help local businesses grow.”

If successful in increasing footfall to businesses in the area, the pilot scheme will be rolled out to other towns across County Durham.