A PUB manager has criticised council bosses for ordering him to remove a "vital directional sign" as he prepares to reopen doors after eight months of lockdown closure.

Durham County Council’s enforcement team have ordered staff at The Kingslodge Inn in Flass Vale, Durham, to remove signage on the Durham CIU headquarters building on Flass Street.

A sign for the inn has been on the side of the building for six years, with the permission of the building’s owners.

But the council says it has received a complaint about the sign, which directs people to the inn with an arrow, and it must be taken down, as it is "unauthorised".

The Kingslodge Inn general manager Darren Winder said: “It seems particularly cruel that instead of helping support a local business to reopen after the crippling effects of months of lockdown and trading restrictions, Durham County Council is twisting the knife even further by forcing us to remove essential signage to our inn that we have consent to display.

“I can’t understand why after six years the council is suddenly telling us to remove the sign just as we’re about to reopen and do our best to recover from the most challenging and difficult years any of us can imagine. After being closed for so many months, we are reliant on customer footfall now more than ever before.”

Stephen Reed, Durham County Council’s planning development manager, said: “Following the receipt of a complaint, planning enforcement officers identified unauthorised signage at the CIU Building on Flass Street and wrote to the parties involved to request the removal of advertisement for The Kingslodge Inn.

“We fully understand the desire to advertise business more broadly in the locality, particularly during the present pandemic, however this does need to be balanced with protecting the historic environment of the city and as a council we must seek to ensure that all businesses comply with legislation laid down by government in this area.

“We have since had subsequent communication with The Kingslodge Inn, who have confirmed they will be submitting an application for the sign’s retention, and we will work with them during this process.”