IT is extraordinary that the idea of closing Middlesbrough’s iconic Transporter Bridge to avoid spending an additional £3m on keeping it open over the next decade has even been floated.

Yes, times are tough and going to get tougher, but the bridge is symbolic of Middlesbrough. If it is considered uninvestable, what does that say about Middlesbrough? If it is closed down, what message does that send to local people who are looking for hope, and what impression does it send to people further afield?

Heritage doesn’t always have to be a drain on resources. Darlington council has belatedly begun to place Locomotion No 1 at the heart of its Railway Heritage Quarter to help revive the surrounding area. The Transporter Bridge deserves also to be a focal point of a riverside revival, but if it were “retired” from active service, and just becomes a curious pile of super-sized static Meccano, it will be severely diminished.

Fortunately, practically every politician has immediately jumped to its defence, so let’s hope this new found enthusiasm for it will be translated into imaginative support to help it secure an illustrious future.