Candidates bidding to become the next Tees Valley Mayor have both pledged to save a historic industrial landmark.

Labour's Chris McEwan launched his campaign to save The Tees Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, November 29) - and within hours Ben Houchen, the present Conservative Mayor, vowed to save the iconic bridge and end its uncertain future.

The 112-year-old Grade II listed Transporter Bridge has been closed since 2019 after a string of safety concerns and problems with its structure.

But now both candidates have made cases for securing the funding required to get it back in working order. 

The Northern Echo: The Tees Transporter Bridge The Tees Transporter Bridge (Image: BEN HOUCHEN)

Middlesbrough Council and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council have had joint responsibility for the bridge, but Middlesbrough Council oversees its operation.

Until it shut in 2019, the Transporter was the longest-working bridge of its kind in the world.

Mr McEwan and Mr Houchen have now both pledged to save the landmark, promising to fund it through the £1bn Network North funding for transport allocated to the Tees Valley following the scrapping of HS2.

Mr Houchen has said that work on restoring the bridge has already started and officials had begun working on the proposals, which are being brought to TVCA cabinet in January for approval, in early October.

He said: “The Transporter is as much a part of Teesside as the rolling Cleveland Hills or the beautiful Redcar coastline. It embodies our spirit and our history and to see it in a state of disrepair and left in limbo is unacceptable.

The Northern Echo: Both candidates have pledged to save the Tees Transporter BridgeBoth candidates have pledged to save the Tees Transporter Bridge (Image: BEN HOUCHEN)

“The public has made their view clear in reviving it and getting it working as it should once again. I have heard this plea and will now fight tooth and nail to breathe new life into what is the symbol and pride of Middlesbrough.

“I know this will be supported across the political divide which hopefully means we can take a swift decision and get on with delivering.

Mr McEwan - deputy leader of Darlington Borough Council - has called on the public to help save the Transporter Bridge and stop it "falling into the River Tees" in a state of disrepair. 

He said: “The identity of the Tees Valley is rightly a proud one, and the Transporter Bridge symbolises our identity. This means we simply cannot sit by and watch it collapse into the river Tees, but must act fast to save it.

"It is our duty to preserve the history of our region. With the Dorman Long Tower demolished by the Tories, it is even more important to save the Transporter."

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Referring to a row during Prime Minister's Questions last week, he added: “Last week, a Conservative MP, indeed the Home Secretary, was caught talking down Teesside in the House of Commons using shameful language.

 "The Conservatives’ clear lack of respect for Teesside means we must be unapologetically proud of our identity. Labour knows saving the Transporter Bridge is a key part of the pride people feel in our region, and this is why one of my key campaign pledges is to save The Tees Transporter Bridge.

“I invite all residents, community groups and politicians across our region who value our heritage and identity to join me in this important campaign to save the Transporter Bridge.”