POOLE Bridge has finally re-opened after engineers completed temporary repairs to damaged safety gates.

It is over a week since the council closed the bridge to traffic after an unspecified technical fault caused damage to two gates.

Last week, engineering manager John Rice said the bridge was due to be back in operation by Monday.

But shortly before 6pm the council announced it would be unable to open the crossing as staff had discovered “additional parts” that needed to be ordered to complete the temporary repairs.

A day later than anticipated, the bridge was back in service.

Meanwhile, two new gates have been ordered and will be fitted in a couple of months’ time.

Bill Constance, chair of Poole Quays Forum, said he was “speechless” the bridge had re-opening had been delayed.

“There must be a lot of red faces right now. It’s very clear someone has not done their job properly and ought to be held to account.

“That bridge caused very little trouble before the council decided to refurbish it. Should they have spent nearly £5m on a bridge that doesn’t work?”

On Monday, Julian McLaughlin, head of growth and infrastructure, Borough of Poole, said: “Our staff have worked throughout the weekend to carry out temporary repairs. During that time we identified additional parts that need to be ordered so the bridge can be re-opened safely.

“We are therefore unable to complete all the temporary repairs to the two safety gates as expected and, for safety reasons, are unable to re-open Poole Bridge to all road users.”

He added: “The pedestrian and cycle paths remain fully open for use by the public and the normal lifting schedule is in operation. In the meantime we would encourage road traffic to use the Twin Sails Bridge which is operating as normal.

“We would like to reassure the public that we are doing our upmost to re-open the bridge as soon as it is safe to do so. We are aware of the impact this is having on our local community and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”

On Monday, councillor Ian Potter, portfolio holder for transportation and planning, spoke to the Echo for the first time since the bridge’s closure.

He said he had not seen previous stories about the closure as he found the Echo’s reports “too negative”.

“We know this is causing hassle for lots of people in Hamworthy and I understand people’s frustration. I asked if we could get the bridge open as soon as possible but we can’t while we’re waiting for these parts.”

When asked about the investigation into the technical fault, he said: “We know roughly what the fault is, but we need to put it into context with everything else. Until we get the parts in and get the whole picture, there’s nothing else we can say at this stage.”

He added that an investigation he requested earlier this year into the delays of the bridge’s major refurbishment was ongoing.

Although the crossing has now re-opened, a planned overnight closure is scheduled tomorrow to carry out an inspection of the counterweights.