Tyne & Wear

North Tyneside Council's £1m crane unused for five years

The crane has not been erected
Image caption The crane, which should stand about 200ft (60m) high, has still not been erected

A £1m council-owned crane has not been used five years because the quay it sits on needs to be strengthened.

North Tyneside Council bought the crane in 2013 as part of a compensation deal.

But the quay at the former Swan Hunter shipyard is not strong enough to sustain it, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said.

It still sits in pieces more than a year after Lib Dem opposition councillors told the council to "use it or lose it".

The crane was bought early in 2013 by Jupiter Offshore Services, a marine engineering firm granted a licence to operate on the former shipyard.

But North Tyneside Council revoked the licence after a legal challenge and bought the crane in compensation.

The council said it still intends it to play "an important role" in the redevelopment of the site, known as the Swans Enterprise Zone, which it aims to transform into a hub for the offshore, renewable energy and advanced engineering sectors.

However, it added more cash is needed to upgrade the quay to take the weight of the crane.

The council does not know how much the project will cost, and did not answer when asked how long it had known work was required on the quay in order for the crane to become operational.

A spokesperson for the council said: "We are working closely with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to secure the funds we need to strengthen the quay at Swan's yard, so that the crane can be safely assembled and used to best effect."

In 2014 North Tyneside's Labour group said the previous Conservative administration, headed by its then-elected mayor Linda Arkley, was to blame for the purchase and had rushed decisions.

Ms Arkley denied the claim and said the process of awarding the licence was "fair and above board".

The North East LEP would not comment on the issue.

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