North East Labour MPs pen letter to Rishi Sunak as Tyne Bridge funding row continues

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Labour MPs in the North East have written to the Prime Minister over delays in funding for the Tyne Bridge repairs.

The North East's Labour MPs have expressed their concerns over delays in funding for the Tyne Bridge repairs in a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The letter, which has been led and written by Ian Mearns, the MP for Gateshead, highlights the complex matter that Kittiwake seabirds will soon return to the bridge for their nesting season.

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It has been signed in support by Ian Lavery, Grahame Morris, Kate Osborne, Sharon Hodgson, Emma Lewell-Buck, May Glindon, Mary Kelly Foy, Liz Twist, Nick Brown and Chi Onwurah.

In the letter, the Gateshead MP highlights that should the funding continue to be delayed and the birds begin their nesting season, then the planned restoration work will have to be delayed until they leave.

The Tyne Bridge. Photo: Getty Images.The Tyne Bridge. Photo: Getty Images.
The Tyne Bridge. Photo: Getty Images. | AFP via Getty Images

The letter states: "There is a unique complexity which adds to the urgency of this matter, in that the Tyne Bridge structure is a popular breeding ground for Kittiwake seabirds who nest under the structure when they return from wintering out at sea, and who are designated red under the Birds of Conservation Concern list.

"The Kittiwakes will return to the Tyne Bridge between Newcastle and Gateshead in the spring and once they have established their nesting places on the bridge, they are rightly, unable to be disturbed or relocated, causing significant disruption and delay to the restoration until they depart.

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"I have been assured that the relevant plans have been sitting with the Department for Transport since July 2023, and while some of the works have already begun through funding supplied by the local authorities, it is of the utmost importance that they agreed funding is released at the earliest opportunity, so they work can commence properly.

"As Members of Parliament representing constituencies in the North East, and who all share a keen interest in ensuring the Tyne Bridge is restored in time for the centenary in 2028, we urge you to ensure that the funding is released urgently and at the earliest opportunity."

The Prime Minister assured him that he will chase the project up with the Department of Transport for an update.

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