A TREE surgeon working on the redevelopment of a military museum has reportedly received “intimidation” and “abuse”. 

The local business was left in fear of reputational damage due to their work on the former Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Museum, a council meeting was told. 

Durham County Council’s plans to revive the site by creating a new exhibition centre, gallery and cafe have faced renewed scrutiny ever since construction work started on the site. Politicians have clashed over the future plans for the site and campaigners have warned more needs to be done to protect the land. 

Campaigners and the County Durham Labour party called for the current development proposal to be cancelled and replaced with a memorial garden and a space for reflection and remembrance. People with familial connections to the site also called for the ashes of soldiers in the grounds of the former DLI Museum to be protected.

However a motion to immediately stop construction work at the site was rejected by Durham County Council recently. 

The council meeting heard of the backlash one local business received while working at the site. Councillor Joe Quinn told a meeting how the worker faced criticism for the plans, despite not being involved in the planning process. 

He said: “I’m going to talk about the impact on a local business, which has received intimidation and abuse from people who have been whipped up by the negative press and social media.

“The local tree surgeon is simply carrying out work through planning permission obtained last February. He was made aware of the sensitivities around the site and cordoned off that area accordingly. He has also used minimal equipment to cause minimal disruption to the ground.”

The identity of the business has not been revealed. 

Cllr Quinn continued: “Despite all of the precautions taken this man was left in fear of reputational damage, had his vehicles photographed, and was repeatedly harassed to the point that he felt he couldn’t continue with his job. 

“This is a disgraceful use of power and those responsible should be ashamed. I hope this message gets to those that have been abusing this business and that they stop immediately.

"I hope members of this chamber condemn the actions taken by the individuals in question, and regardless of what side you sit on, come out in support of this local business too.”

Cllr Quinn’s speech was met with a round of applause from members of the Joint Administration and affiliated parties. 

Construction work on the Aykley Heads is ongoing.