Cash-strapped Gateshead Council withdraws river clean-up money

Image caption,
Last year almost 400 tonnes of debris was removed from the River and 100% was recycled, the Port of Tyne said

Debris and litter could be left clogging the River Tyne after a third council pulled the plug on funding a 30-year-old clean up project.

Gateshead Council said it was removing its £17,000 per year towards Clean Tyne Partnership from 2019.

Newcastle and South Tyneside Councils have also recently halted funding.

The Port of Tyne, which oversees the project, said it would now struggle to remove almost 400 tonnes of debris every year from the river.

A spokesman said: "We are sympathetic to the financial positions of the local authorities and the difficult decisions that have to be made.

"However, as the Port of Tyne has a remit to provide only the safety of navigation, any changes to the Clean Tyne Project funding will unfortunately have a direct impact on the ability to remove litter and other debris that does not impede navigation."

Image caption,
The Clearwater vessel removed almost 400 tonnes of debris from the river in 2017

North Tyneside Council could not confirm whether it intends to pull out of the scheme too, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The Port of Tyne's website claimed its specialist river-clearing Clearwater vessel removed 398 tonnes of debris from the river last year, 100% of which was recycled.

Earlier this year, scores of discarded bicycles, from the Mobike community sharing scheme, had been dumped in the Tyne and were fished out by the Clearwater.

A Gateshead Council spokesman said: "The council has an estimated funding gap of £29m over the next year.

"When we're facing funding pressures of this scale, we most look at all the options available to us. Our focus has to be on supporting the most vulnerable in our communities."

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