Call to back levelling-up funding for new Shields Ferry landing to 'save service from closure by 2025'
Tory ministers have been urged to back a major funding bid that would save the Shields Ferry from being shut down in 2025.
Council bosses in North Tyneside have launched a bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund to support a major regeneration of North Shields town centre and the Fish Quay – including an essential new ferry landing needed to protect the historic river crossing.
Transport chiefs have warned that the ferry’s existing north jetty is deteriorating so badly that it will be too unsafe for passengers to use come 2025.
Unless a replacement can be built by then, the service would be forced to close – potentially marking a sad end to centuries of ferries carrying people across the Tyne.
Proposals for a new landing closer to the Fish Quay have been in the works for several years at operator Nexus, but were dealt a massive blow last summer when the majority of its funding collapsed.
It is now hoped that the project will be among the winners from the second round of the £4.8billion Levelling Up Fund.
Nexus’ customer services director, Huw Lewis, said: “We want the Shields Ferry to have a bright future with a new landing at the heart of the regenerated North Shields Fish Quay.
“Nexus is working jointly with North Tyneside Council to secure funding for a new landing through a bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
“The current ferry landing in North Shields is rapidly declining and in a few years it will become unsafe. If we don’t secure the funds for a new landing by 2025 then this vital link between communities could be lost.
“Local community leaders are all backing the bid to build the new ferry landing and positive discussions with the Government will continue to press the case for this vital project, which will protect eight centuries of maritime heritage on the River Tyne.”
The famous river crossing is used by around 400,000 people a year and ferries are thought to have carried people across the Tyne for at least 750 years.
The entire landing project is expected to cost £8.8m, with Nexus having previously agreed to spend £3.2m of its own money to supplement the government offer. The publicly-owned organisation had previously secured £5.6m from the government’s Getting Building Fund to build the new jetty, but were unable to accept it because of “strict” time pressures attached to the grant that would have required the scheme to be completed by spring this year.
Coun Carl Johnson, deputy mayor of North Tyneside, said: “We have worked with colleagues in Nexus to develop a bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund for the relocation of the North Shields ferry landing. If successful, this funding will see the ferry landing moved to a better-suited location on the North Shields Fish Quay, which will provide better transport links for those visiting, living and working in North Tyneside.”
There are a number of high-profile bids being made from the North East to the latest round of the Levelling Up Fund, including to support the new Gateshead Quayside arena, a regeneration of Ashington town centre, and new cycling and walking routes for Tynedale and Bedlington.