MPs in County Durham have called for funding that is linked to the City of Culture 2025 bid to be used to reopen a vital Durham venue that has been closed since 2016.

Earlier this month, it was announced by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Nadine Dorries, that County Durham would receive £125,000 after finishing as a runner-up to Bradford for the title of City of Culture 2025.

Through the funding, County Durham MPs Richard Holden, Dehenna Davison, and Paul Howell have welcomed the news and highlighted that the money will go towards reopening the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Museum.

In 2016, Durham County Council closed the museum, and since then, there has been a significant and sustained campaign for the re-opening.

Read more: Plans to revive DLI Museum given go-ahead by council leaders

Richard Holden has met campaigners for the museum to be re-opened several times and all the three Conservative MPs in County Durham back the re-opening.

On Monday (June 13) the three MPs have written to the council asking them to use the £125,000 funding for the museum project.

According to the MPs, “re-opening the DLI museum would not just restore an important local cultural centre that those from our county and beyond can enjoy but also surely assist in County Durham’s bid for 2029”.

North West Durham MP, Richard Holden, said: “I would firstly like to congratulate the whole team on County Durham's bid for City of Culture 2025.

“It was clear that the efforts made were very significant. Whilst the official City of Culture title would have been the icing on the cake, making it through to the final four at the first attempt was no mean feat. Please pass on my congratulations to all involved. 

“The bid also allowed many projects to be brought forward and plans developed – work that will not be wasted – as well as raising the profile of County Durham as a tourism and cultural destination.

The Northern Echo: The £125,000 funding will come, for the first time, for runner's-up of the City of Culture award. Picture: NORTHERN ECHOThe £125,000 funding will come, for the first time, for runner's-up of the City of Culture award. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

“Of course, I will continue to lead and champion bids for our County in the future: from improving local hospitals, to transport, to levelling up our towns and villages.”

Following the letter from the three MPs, Durham County Council has reassured the politicians that the local authority is working on a plan to reopen the DL1 Museum – as well as other cultural programmes.

The Northern Echo: Dehenna Davison, MP for Bishop AucklandDehenna Davison, MP for Bishop Auckland

Cllr Amanda Hopgood, leader of Durham County Council, said: “We remain committed to delivering on our ambitious plans within the City of Culture bid so that we can create a county of culture which attracts tourists from across the UK and beyond, delivers thousands of new jobs, improves wellbeing, and creates cultural opportunities for residents.

The Northern Echo: Sedgefield MP, Paul HowellSedgefield MP, Paul Howell

“We will be meeting with partners and funders to discuss these plans and deliver a pioneering cultural programme for the county.

“Together with the county’s existing festival and events calendar, the programme will focus on developing new events and key cultural attractions across the county and includes plans to bring the former Durham Light Infantry Museum and Art Gallery back into use as an exhibition centre, gallery and café.

The Northern Echo: North West Durham MP, Richard Holden. Picture: NORTHERN ECHONorth West Durham MP, Richard Holden. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

She added: “Work is already ongoing to develop the venue, which will be twice the size of the former building, enabling a dedicated space for the display of items from the DLI Collection and Archive and allowing the venue to host touring national and international exhibitions.

“We would like to assure the MPs that the runner-up prize money for the City of Culture bid will be dedicated to delivering on the exciting plans within the cultural programme to ensure the whole county is connected and celebrated.”

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