The £10.5m restoration of the Union Chain Bridge spanning the River Tweed has won a Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Award for partnership working.
The awards see entries from council teams across the UK judged by other councils’ senior officers, with the aim being to promote innovation that can inspire other councils to improve their own services.Judges praised the ‘innovative partnership built on a community campaign that has overcome significant complexities to achieve its objective of restoring the oldest suspension bridge in the world still open to traffic’.
Cllr John Riddle, cabinet member for local services at Northumberland County Council, said: “We’re delighted to have won this award as this scheme is the very definition of partnership working.
“Throughout, this project has been about working across borders and engaging with partners and communities on both sides of the river, and this approach has clearly been recognised by the judges. This award is for everyone who’s helped make this innovative project such a success.”
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Rowan Brown, chief executive officer for Museums Northumberland, added: “'I'm delighted we were able to fulfil our bridge's motto - Vis Unita Fortior - (united strength is stronger) and we’re full of gratitude to our communities, partners and funders who made this award-winning project possible.”
Built in 1820, the Union Chain Bridge, linking Horncliffe on the English side with Fishwick on the Scottish side, received £3.14m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2019.
The ambitious funding bid was put together by Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council, Museums Northumberland and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, following serious concerns about the condition of the world-famous structure.
Both councils committed match funding totalling £5.7m towards the scheme, with other fundraising activities continuing to be progressed by the Friends of Union Chain Bridge.
In addition, the project team is also delivering an innovative programme of education activities to encourage young people on both sides of the border to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
LGC editor Nick Golding said: “To win an LGC Award is the ultimate symbol of the brilliance of council teams – we should be grateful for their work, particularly in difficult times.”