'It would be sorted by now if it was in London': Councillors bid for Tyne Bridge restoration money

24/09/21 - State of the Tyne Bridge folk song

Newcastle and Gateshead councils have said they are now in desperate need of government cash to renovate the bridge in time for its centenary in 2028.

Now the future of the famous crossing is reliant on a separate bid of £40m which has been sat with the Department for Transport for more than two years, to restore both the bridge and the entire Central Motorway.

The absence of any major repairs for a full two decades has left the North East icon in a state of decay, while there have also been warnings that further delays to the works could soon mean it is no longer safe for 70,000 vehicles to cross it each day.

At a meeting of Newcastle and Gateshead councils' Joint Bridges Committee on Monday (13 December), councillors were told that an indication of whether the government will pay for the restoration was now expected "soon after" costing figures are submitted in the spring.

Newcastle Labour councillor John-Paul Stephenson, the committee's chair, said: "We all know the appalling state of it, the rust, the peeling paint. It is not what we want to see for such an iconic structure in our region.

"It is not just about the transport infrastructure, it is a major symbol that contributes to our cultural, tourism offer.

Alastair Swan, Newcastle City Council's principal engineer, said he had "no immediate concerns" about the structural integrity of the bridge and that officials were "constantly looking at what funding opportunities are out there".

Gateshead Lib Dem Cllr Ian Patterson asked whether the bridge could be used as an advertising location to help raise money.

Councillor Stephen Fairlie, who represents Callerton and Throckley, said: "Major cultural events are fine, but getting it sponsored by Greggs or something… it's a step too far."

The Tyne Bridge is adorned each year with a sign for the Great North Run and has also been used to promote major international events in Newcastle, like the Olympic Games and the Rugby World Cup.