Missing wooden cross on Waskerley Moor was cut down by council

A WOODEN cross which disappeared from a remote moor shortly before a traditional Easter service was cut down by the council.

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Organisers of the dawn service on Waskerley Moor, near Consett, initially thought thieves had taken the 10ft wooden cross, which was erected during Lent and discovered to be missing on the eve of the Easter Sunday service.

The service, attended by more than 30 worshippers, went ahead after Methodist minister the Reverend Les Nevin carved a replacement cross from freshly-fallen snow.

However, it has now emerged that Durham County Council chopped down and removed the cross because it had been built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest and breached strict guidelines set up to protect the local habitat.

Andy Niven, countryside service manager at Durham County Council, said the authority had no choice but to cut it down.

He said: “It was dug into the ground and concreted in without any warning and without consent or advice on the potential impact it might have on this very rare habitat.

“There was nothing on it to say who had put it there and neither the council, as landowner, or Natural England, which is responsible for SSSI areas, were asked for permission or advice.

“As a result we had no choice but to remove it.”

Thieves steal cross ahead of traditional dawn service

THIEVES stole a 10-foot cross built on a remote moor for a traditional service to celebrate Easter.

Methodist minister the Reverend Les Nevin, who has led the short communion service on the outskirts of Consett for the last seven years, had placed the wooden cross on Waskerley Moor during Lent in preparation for the service.

But only a few days later he discovered that the cross had disappeared, sawn from its concealed concrete base below soil level and taken away.

Reverend Nevin said: “I could hardly believe my eyes when I returned and there was no trace of the cross. It was almost like an empty tomb experience”.

Not to be deterred, Reverend Nevin spent several hours on the Saturday evening before the service carving a larger, replacement cross out of snow.

The service could go ahead as normal at dawn on Easter Day, although the snow cross has since melted away. Reverend Nevin also had a message for whoever had removed the cross, saying: “If you still have the cross I’d like to collect it and use it elsewhere.

“However if you are so short of wood that you need to take a cross I’d be pleased to give you the £26 it cost me to buy the wood so you can buy some more.”