AN APPLICATION for a grant of around £10 million to restore and repair Newport's historic Transporter Bridge could be signed off next week.

Newport City Council has been preparing a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which will be used to repair the structure of the Grade I-listed bridge, which was built in 1906, to restore the gondola, repaint it and set up a new visitor centre.

And the council's Labour-run cabinet will decide whether to formally submit the application at a meeting next week.

A council report said, if the bid is successful, the authority will be required to commit £1.25 million towards the scheme. But, it added, the fund is already oversubscribed with applications, and only about 30 per cent are successful.

"The Transporter Bridge will be an unusual bid and the nature of the heritage will make the bid stand out from other applications typically submitted by big national and metropolitan museum and galleries," it said.

"Additionally, Newport is in a HLF development area, which will help.

"In Wales, the major HLF projects have been driven by the National Museum of Wales and there have been comparatively few major grant applications submitted by the local authority sector. This point will also help our application."

On the proposed new visitor centre the report said records held in the currently-existing centre "deserve to be displayed in an appropriate space".

"Basic facilities, particularly the toilets, are inadequate," it said.

"The bridge has welcomed increasing numbers of coach parties in recent years and the one accessible toilet does not meet the demand of a large group arriving at one time.

"Additionally, there is not the space to gather 50 visitors to provide a short orientation talk and this is currently carried out on the coach prior to disembarkation.

"Visitors come to see the bridge year round and there needs to be a more substantial interpretation experience for these visitors when bridge is not operating."

In the mid 1980s the condition of the bridge had deteriorated to the point it had to be closed on safety grounds. Following an extensive series of repairs it was re-opened in 1995, with other repairs carried out ahead of the 2010 Ryder Cup.

A decision on the bid is likely to be made in June 2018. If it is successful the council will be required to submit a more detailed application, with the funds awarded in summer 2019 at the earliest.

There are only six operational transporter bridges in the world, including one other in the UK, in Middlesbrough. There are also two others in Germany, as well as one each in Spain and France.

Disused transporter bridges also remain in Warrington in the north west of England, as well as two in Buenos Aires in Argentina and another in Minnesota.

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