THE iconic Newport Transporter Bridge should be kept open throughout the year.

That’s according to the friends of the bridge group, which has launched a petition objecting to the seasonal closure of the structure and formally objected to council plans to close it.

Newport council wants to develop the bridge as a tourist attraction, with officers arguing it was no longer needed as part of the city’s transport infrastructure.

Under changes decided in April the bridge will close at the end of September and will reopen in Easter.

But Friends of the Newport Transporter Bridge’s chairman and former Lib Dem councillor David Hando says the structure is of immense importance to the heritage of Newport.

“We should make the most of it, not just tuck it away,” he said.

Mr Hando has written to cabinet member for leisure and culture Debbie Wilcox to formally object to the scheme.

He said: “It’s such an integral part of the history of the city.

“It is almost unique. There are only 18 ever built and only eight still exist, but only six of them are working.

“I think we have an obligation to open it, at weekends and bank holidays at the very least.”

He said the group would keep the bridge’s visitor centre open throughout the year from 10am to 4pm, whether the bridge is open or not.

Mr Hando had been part of the former council administration’s cabinet when the decision to go to seasonal closure was taken last April.

However the decision had been taken by his cabinet colleague and former Lib Dem councillor Mike Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton decided visitors would pay £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for concessions, allowing for unlimited crossings, access to the high level walkway and a guided tour of the motorhouse.

It will open Wednesdays to Sundays.

Newport council could not provide a comment last night.