A COUNCILLOR who raised concerns over the demolition of an historic 19th Century building has been accused of hypocrisy.

Darlington’s 2 Raby Terrace is due to be razed as part of a new housing regeneration plan in Skinnergate.

Dozens of residents, councillors and public bodies expressed concerns about the demolition of the building first built in 1819.

Labour councillor Nick Wallis said the demolition of the former Quaker British and Foreign School represents “another blow to Darlington’s shrinking heritage” and voted against the scheme.

But despite the concerns, the proposal was approved by councillors last Wednesday. Now, Conservative council leader Heather Scott has criticised Cllr Wallis’ comments.

“The hypocrisy of Councillor Wallis beggars belief in his new found interest in heritage he needs a history lesson,” said Cllr Scott.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Council leader Heather ScottCouncil leader Heather Scott

“Labour have been in control of the council most of the time since 1979. They neglected the Historic Market, The Railway Museum, Edward Pease House, 2 Raby Street and the Library.

“Why if Cllr Wallis was so concerned in preserving our heritage was he so hell bent on closing the Library, closed the Tubwell Row Museum and presumably not even aware of 2 Raby Street although it was represented by Labour Councillors.”

Darlington’s Crown Street library was saved in 2018 despite an initial plan to move it to the Dolphin Centre.

Earlier this year, the move of the historic Locomotion No 1 sparked disappointment and anger in the town where it has been for over 160 years.

The historic engine was moved from Darlington’s Head of Steam Museum in March and transferred to the nearby Locomotion Museum in Shildon, County Durham.

It will not return to Darlington until 2025, when it will be part of celebrations of the bicentenary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway.

Cllr Scott also accused the Labour group of being partly responsible for the engine’s move.

Cllr Scott said: “As far as Locomotion No1 was concerned it was a Labour member of the Science Museum group who threatened if we did not agree to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) all exhibits on loan to us would be removed. The leader of Darlington Labour group was aware of that situation and agreed to the signing of the MOU.

“I would have more respect for the Labour group if they showed more support for the imaginative and inclusive plans for the redevelopment area up to the Rail Heritage Quarter which has been ignored by the previous administration.

“Stop whinging and grasp the exciting and realistic opportunities for the town. You had your chance and you failed miserably.”

Darlington and Stockton Times: Cllr Nick WallisCllr Nick Wallis

In response, Cllr Wallis said the current administration have weakened the town’s historic railway and Quaker heritage.

“In two short years, the Conservative-led council has lost our jewel in the crown, Locomotion Number One, to Shildon, and has rubber-stamped a series of disastrous planning decisions,” he said.

“Frankly, the people of the town simply want the council to protect our historic assets and organise a fitting celebration. It would be good if Cllr Scott could turn her mind to doing just that.”