A COUNCILLOR found himself at the centre of a pub fracas after a woman abused him and assaulted his friend while he was out socialising.

Spennymoor Town Councillor Ian Geldard was at The Penny Gill pub, in Spennymoor, last Friday when a woman began arguing with him. His friend is then said to have intervened to stop the row but was grabbed around the neck by the woman.

A spokeswoman for Durham police said: "A 49-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of assault. The woman agreed to go through the checkpoint scheme for the offence and was released from custody."

Cllr Geldard said: "I have lived in this town all of my life, and just like everyone else, I am entitled to a social life and should be able to visit pubs in Spennymoor without risk of attack or, in this case, the risk that my friends will be attacked.

"Regardless of what you think of decisions your councillors have made in the past, it is never acceptable to communicate them to them with violence and threat.

"Unfortunately in this case, the resident in question would not accept my offer of an appointment at the Town Hall, they were instead intent on ruining my evening and the evening of those who were accompanying me.

"Politics, even at local level, has become awfully divided. It is fine to have a difference of opinion, but it is never fine to behave in this way.

"I would like to thank Durham Constabulary for their hugely swift response, which is appreciated given the backdrop of attacks on politicians in previous years.

"Please remember, that no matter what your politics, no matter what you think of my actions or decisions while I'm trying to do the best for our town; it should never resort to personal violence.

"Nothing is that important.

"Incidents like this make you wonder whether it is worth sacrificing your own safety for public work. In 2016, the MP Jo Cox lost her life to someone who took politics and manifested it into divisive hatred.

"Comments on social media, laughing at the situation, and making flippant comments are utterly evil and those who have made them should be completely ashamed.

"I will continue to work hard for Spennymoor and for all those who live, work and visit our town. And following the support I have received, I will not be deterred from enjoying our town's facilities like every other resident is able.

For, as Jo Cox famously said, we have far more in common with each other than things that divide us."