URGENT repairs worth £50,000 will be carried out on the famous PS Comet replica in Port Glasgow - but a 'significant' amount of money is needed to secure its long-term future.

Inverclyde Council officials have set aside the five-figure sum in this year's budget for the local landmark.

But they warned that much more investment is needed to make sure it is ship-shape in the long run.

Port councillor Drew McKenzie, who raised awareness of the plight of the Comet earlier this year, is delighted that the initial work will be carried out.

He said: "The recent council budget was a most difficult time for all concerned with a number of cuts to frontline public services.

"From a Port Glasgow perspective there were, however, a number of positives.

"I was pleased that £50,000 was set aside for work to be done on the Comet replica and to explore and implement a maintenance strategy that will secure the long term future of the boat. "If we did nothing now it will simply disintegrate in front of our eyes."

The last major restoration was in 2011, with further work carried out two-and-a-half years ago at a cost of £28,000.

The fresh £50k investment will be used for 'superficial' repainting and essential repairs of the Comet, which is a replica of the famous vessel built for Sir Henry Bell at John Wood's shipyard in 1812.

The funding will also pay for a feasibility study to investigate the next course of action to preserve the local landmark, although council chiefs say 'much more significant expenditure is required to secure the long-term future'.

Mr McKenzie, an independent councillor, said: "It's needing a lot of repairs done to it and will fall apart eventually unless something is done.

"Seven years ago it was lifted onto a carrier and taken to Ferguson's for repairs but it's probably at the stage now where it's in too bad a condition to do that. "There has to be a long-term maintenance strategy in place.

"You can't do a bit of work like seven years ago and leave it - the elements will just batter it.

"It has to be looked at on a regular basis to see what needs done." Work on the replica - which dates back to 1962 - will be carried out by people on an employability programme.

The most recent repairs in 2015 were undertaken by trainees from the council-funded Inverclyde Community Development Trust.