TEN years after its need was recognised, residents are celebrating the opening of a pedestrian bridge across the railway at Hamworthy.

The £780,000 crossing provides safe and easy access for residents walking or cycling from the Harbour Reach development over the tracks to Hamworthy Park.

Mayor of Poole, Cllr Ann Stribley, cut a ribbon before leading local residents across the bridge.

"It's a nice bridge and it's nice to have it finished after all these years and all the promises," said Pat Bullock, chairman of the Friends of Hamworthy Park. " lot of people have already used it and are well chuffed with it."

Cllr Stribley said: "This is a momentous day. We have all waited a long time for this crossing to be built. It is an important link between Poole Town and Hamworthy and I’m sure it will prove very popular with residents.”

The need for the crossing, giving residents the chance to avoid busy Blandford Road, was agreed in 2005 as part of the planning permission for the development of Harbour Reach, which was completed in 2007.

Borough of Poole entered into an agreement with freight train operator DB Schenker, which was granted a 125-year lease of the Hamworthy branch line which feeds the port.

"Over the last few months local people have been able to watch this new crossing over the freight railway line begin to take shape and it was great to see so many people come to the opening ceremony," said Julian McLaughlin, head of transportation services.

“We have worked closely with the main contractor, Avon Construction, to ensure the first residents could cross this bridge before Christmas and we are delighted that this has been achieved.”

Councillor Ian Potter, cabinet portfolio holder for transportation said: “This is a really important project for local residents so I am particularly pleased to see this crossing open and already being used by the community.”

Cllr Mike White, ward member for Hamworthy East said: "Both Cllr Vishal Gupta and I are delighted that this crossing is now available. It will make it so much easier for people to access our beautiful park."