A CAMPAIGN has been launched to mount a legal challenge to a council’s decision to close a museum housing artefacts and exhibits of a famous North-East regiment.

Durham county councillors’ endorsement of proposals to close the Durham Light Infantry Museum, at Aykley Heads, Durham City, after 50 years on the site, has provoked a furious response from residents.

Councillors endorsed a report that said the building was too expensive to maintain, with plans to move the collection to the Sevenhills building in Spennymoor.

The authority says it wants to make the collection more accessible, by arranging temporary loans and exhibitions.

Councillors endorse plans to close DLI Museum

DLI Museum set to close

But campaigners have argued the decision was made without any proper consultation and the want the collection to remain intact where it is.

A Facebook page "savethedli", set up by former policeman John Stephenson, has attracted nearly 3,000 followers, from as far afield as Canada and New Zealand and Australia.

Mr Stephenson of Horden, near Peterlee, said: “It is absolutely disgusting. I think it’s dishonouring the memory of the men who have served and fallen, to close the museum.

“There has been no consultation. The council has acted unilaterally. They should have put it to the public before they decided on any closure.”

The group has said crowd funding website to raise £5,000 to engage a firm of solicitors with the view to a mounting legal challenge.

They are also calling for an independent auditors to examine the continued operation on the existing site.

Mr Stephenson said: "I believe that financially the museum could be made to pay for itself year on year and if that is the case they have no grounds for closure at all."

Dennis Gates, 68, of Newton Hall, Durham, said: “The DLI is our county regiment and must be kept alive with the museum remaining open where it is. Once the collection is split that will be that.”

Steve Howell, Durham County Council’s head of culture and sport, said: “We have worked with the DLI Trustees, who own the collection, prior to the report being presented to cabinet.

“The agreed approach seeks to make the collection more accessible to a wider audience and we have been working with the trustees and Durham University to make sure it is still available to view in the city.

“There is no suggestion that the collection is being withdrawn from public view and the Cabinet decision included the need for wider communication with stakeholders as the project goes forward.”