Conservative North East Mayor candidate slams 'Labour hypocrisy' surrounding Tyne Bridge repair

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The Conservative candidate for North East Mayor has hit back at Labour MP claims.

The Conservative candidate for North East Mayor has called out 'Labour hypocrisy' surrounding the Tyne Bridge refurbishment delay.

Tempers continue to rise over the Department for Transport’s (DfT) failure so far to hand over more than £40m it has pledged towards the long-awaited refurbishment of the rusted bridge.

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The Tyne Bridge is a Newcastle city icon, but is in desperate need of restoration.The Tyne Bridge is a Newcastle city icon, but is in desperate need of restoration.
The Tyne Bridge is a Newcastle city icon, but is in desperate need of restoration. | Newcastle Chronicle

Council bosses are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the money, which the DfT first committed to in June 2022, so that the critical maintenance project can begin in earnest – something it was hoped would start this month.

Tensions have now been further stoked by the Government claiming that local authority officials did not submit all of the required documentation needed for the scheme to be greenlit until last month – saying it is still “ in the process of being assessed” in Whitehall.

Guy Renner-Thompson is the Conservative candidate for North East Mayor.Guy Renner-Thompson is the Conservative candidate for North East Mayor.
Guy Renner-Thompson is the Conservative candidate for North East Mayor. | Guy Renner-Thompson

That statement, provided to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), was met with anger by Tyneside leaders on Friday, with Newcastle City Council insisting that the DfT has had their final business case for the Tyne Bridge revamp since July 2023 and only that the last minor pieces of requested clarification were submitted in November.

And now Northumberland Councillor and the Conservative candidate for North East Mayor has slammed the 'Labour hypocrisy,' claiming his colleagues say the money for the refurbishment is there.

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Tyne Bridge restoration work to get underway next weekTyne Bridge restoration work to get underway next week
Tyne Bridge restoration work to get underway next week | AFP via Getty Images

Guy Renner-Thompson, the Conservative candidate for the new Mayor of the North East job, said "It's sad to see local Labour politicians try to jump of the bandwagon of Government money for the Tyne Bridge, over a year since the announcement was made. I've spoken to senior Government colleagues who tell me the the money for the bridge is there, ready and waiting.

"The delay has been caused by Labour councils not submitting the required information on time. If Labour MP's want to question anyone, it should be their friends at the council who failed to make this project a priority."

Gateshead MP Ian Mearns has raised the issue of the Tyne Bridge in Parliament three times this month, including during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday – when he said it was “instantly recognisable around the world as an emblem of Tyneside” and warned of “significant additional cost implications if funding does not come forward”.

There are worries that further delays to the repairs, the first major maintenance on the bridge for more than two decades, will result in the crossing’s dilapidated condition worsening even further and the cost of the project spiralling.

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And, with the engineering works expected to take around four years to complete, a setback now could mean the Tyne Bridge will not be looking back to its best in time for its centenary celebrations in October 2028.

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