AS our letters page recently showed, there are mixed views about The Auckland Project and its bid to reorientate Bishop Auckland so that it becomes a thriving town with cultural tourism at its heart.

But, say what you like, the project has certainly put the town on the map. Not only can it attract the heir to the British throne but also the Queen of Spain, and there was genuine excitement – even amazement – among the Spanish visitors at what they discovered. That was not because the new gallery was dedicated to their countrymen, but because Auckland Castle itself looked so grand and appealing.

While religious Spanish paintings are not everyone’s cup of tea, there is the Durham mining art gallery over the road, there is the exciting Kynren nightshow down the bank, and there will be a railway – perhaps steam – up the dale and a huge Roman fort across at Binchester. Plus there will be parks and gardens, cafes and hotels…

The double royal visit must also be a feather in the cap for the Durham bid to be City of Culture in 2025, but despite that, lurking unspoken in the background yesterday, was the row between The Auckland Project and Durham County Council over funding. Negotiations, we believe, have been resumed – they must reach a peaceful resolution because yesterday showed how important Bishop Auckland is at focussing the international spotlight on the county.