Labour councillors have questioned ongoing delays to the rehousing of a city museum and gallery.

Durham’s Tory-led coalition ordered a review of a decision by the previous Labour administrations to rehouse the Durham Light Infantry Museum and Gallery in a new History Centre, at Mt Oswald’s.

Cllr Kevin Shaw, Labour lead on economic development, said: “The cultural significance of the DLI collection to Durham’s proud history cannot be underestimated. It is something that many in the county hold dear to their hearts and finding an appropriate, fit for purpose new home for the collection and archive is vital.

“However, after extensive studies, expert opinion and a great deal of work, Labour accepted that the former building at Aykley Heads is no longer fit for purpose and creating the History Centre at Mt Oswald’s was the best possible solution to house the exhibits and gallery.

“Once again, this Coalition has dropped anchor on a project that had been signed, sealed and had funding secured.

“Their own review found the building is not suitable to meet the required technical standards to store the collection, not to mention the fact that returning and storing the DLI collection at the old base would impact on plans for the History Centre, risking already-approved grant funding.

“This Tory-led Coalition must stop looking backwards and start concentrating on the future. County Durham must look to the future, even when celebrating our past, and further delays on the History Centre project not only put at risk what would be a fantastic cultural asset, but risks wasting yet more time, money and effort trying to justify throwing good money after bad on the DLI’s old facility.”

Cllr Kevin Shaw to ask Cabinet:

The report states clearly that the existing building is not big enough, not fit for purpose and is in need of significant investment. The new History Centre will house the DLI collections in a new state of the art facility, co-located with other services providing a financially sustainable home. Can the cabinet member for finance please confirm how much tax-payers money has been wasted on consultancy fees and officer time to reach the same conclusion on the building that was reached at the time of the original decision?