I HAVE written to the new culture minister, Nicky Morgan, pointing out that 2025 is the bi-centenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the world’s first passenger railway.

Darlington would very much like to host the celebration of this event, along with neighbouring Stockton.

But Darlington is one of the smallest unitary authorities in the country.

Unfortunately, by all accounts, Darlington’s reserves will be sadly depleted by 2023, just 18 months before the celebration.

I have asked if the Government would help by:

(a) taking over our small, loss-making, locally-owned railway museum and by

(b) paying for all the celebrations?

I fear staging what should in reality be a national celebration is proving too much for the remarkable talents of our local government officers. There are just far too few of them trying to wear far too many different metaphorical hats.

As well as serving on the council in Darlington, I also have the rare privilege of working in York.

York people are mystified by developments at York National Railway Museum. No one can understand why the perfectly good museum is to be demolished and rebuilt with £53m in Government money. No one in York wants Leeman Road to be closed to traffic, which is an essential part of the scheme.

I have asked the minister to give urgent consideration to the idea that the National Railway Museum at York should be left as it is, and this £53m be spent in Darlington instead?

Councillor Nigel Boddy (LibDem), Darlington Borough Council.