POOLE council has agreed a settlement with the construction firm responsible for the troubled refurbishment of Poole Bridge, it is understood.

Interserve, which carried out the multi-million pounds renovation of the structure, has come in for criticism for its handling of the scheme with it overrunning by seven months.

It is now understood that it has agreed a financial settlement with Poole council as compensation for the delays.

Poole Bridge re-opened in January after 16 months of renovation work which had been pushed back seven separate times.

The refurbishment began in September 2016 and had originally been due to finish in June 2017 but a series of setbacks delayed this by seven months.

Unrecorded cables, obstructions from previous bridges and ‘tough’ working conditions were all given as reasons for work needing to be extended.

Following its completion, an investigation into the multi-million pounds project was ordered by Poole council’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr Ian Potter.

As a result of the unforeseen extra work, the bridge’s refurbishment is understood to have cost significantly more than its original £4.7 million budget.

It is understood that a report will go to the December meeting of Poole council’s cabinet addressing the issues faced in the Poole Bridge refurbishment as well as details of a settlement agreed with Interserve.

Poole council came in for heavy criticism for its handling of the project and pledged to look into the way it communicated updates to the public.

Just three months after the completion of the refurbishment, the bridge was again closed while a faulty safety gate was repaired - work which took more than a week to complete.

However, these concerns have reared their heads again this week following the unplanned closure of the second harbour crossing.

The Twin Sails Bridge closed on Friday, November 16 due to a problem with the lifting mechanism on its Hamworthy leaf.

The council’s head of growth and infrastructure, Julian McLaughlin, said they needed to carry out “a more detailed inspection” of the bridge’s lifting mechanism before the full extent of the work required to fix it is known. The work is described as “complex”.

Poole’s A350 West Quay Road, which crosses the bridge, was open for several days after the structure was declared out of action. It has now been shut to traffic.

Following criticism for residents about a lack of information, Cllr Andy Hadley, who represents the Poole Town ward, has said he will be pressing the council to respond more quickly to any problems with the bridge in future.

“I’m concerned the council doesn’t seem to be able to get on top of these things quickly,” he said.

“I certainly will be continuing to press for action and a better way of resolving these problems in future.”

Cllr Hadley said he had not received an update on the situation from council officers until six days after the problems emerged and only after a request for information.