UNITY Alliance leader Vikki Slade has called an emergency summit to address what she describes as the “completely unacceptable” Twin Sails Bridge situation.

Yesterday, BCP Council confirmed the troubled bridge – Poole’s second harbour crossing – would be out of action until the autumn following yet another technical fault.

Residents have reacted with anger following the news and are demanding some sort of contingency plan to be implemented.

Speaking as Unity Alliance leader, Cllr Slade said: “The situation with the bridge is completely unacceptable to the residents, to the business community and to me. 

“I have convened an emergency summit for Monday with all the senior officers to find out what has gone on, where we go from here and why there has been no contingency plan in place.”

Officers expected to attend include BCP Council chief executive Graham Farrant, corporate director Bill Cotton and head of infrastructure Julian McLaughlin.

Unity Alliance is the ruling BCP Council administration, made up of the Liberal Democrats, the Christchurch Independents Group, Poole People’s Party, Labour, Greens and other independents.

Cllr Slade said: “This problem has not been made by BCP Council. 

“We have inherited the issues with the bridge, which have been going on for several years, but we intend to sort them out. The residents and the businesses are entitled to expect a bridge that works and is reliable and they want answers and so do I.”

Engineers attended the bridge following a noise heard coming from the remaining lifting ram last week. They decided there was serious risk of longer term damage to the Twin Sails if it was kept in operation. 

Officials from BCP Council then confirmed the bridge would remain closed to traffic and pedestrians until the autumn.

Poole Quay Forum chairman Bill Constance told the Daily Echo: “As an engineer I have some sympathy with engineering issues, but I feel very, very sorry for people who have to use that bridge.

“The inconvenience is massive and perhaps there has to be some thought given to some temporary arrangements, possibly another river crossing for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Something ought to be considered to alleviate the difficulties people will have, particularly those living and working on the Hamworthy side.

“There doesn’t seem to be any concern expressed for people who are suffering as a result of this breakdown.”

Hamworthy resident and founder secretary of the Friends of Hamworthy Park, Ann Smeaton, said: “I’m so sad, I love that bridge but we just have no facilities in Hamworthy.

“They don’t understand in Poole, we are a two mile long peninsula. We are a complete community without facilities.

“This will have a great impact locally in Hamworthy because we all have to go somewhere else, whether it is Broadstone or Poole to shop.”

Meanwhile BCP Council Hamworthy ward councillor Julie Bagwell said dozens of residents had approached her with concerns.

She said: “I’m not getting any answers. We need to know where they are sourcing the parts from. Can the parts needed be sourced locally? We need a supply because there has just been one problem after another with this bridge.

“Residents have been constantly contacting me today, they are concerned the other bridge will not take the strain of all the extra traffic.

“We have so many holidaymakers coming in, and with the Sandbanks Ferry down as well, they must be thinking this is total chaos.

Faults with the Sandbanks Chain Ferry have put that vessel out of action for the summer.

Cllr Bagwell said: “The ferry is working, the bridge isn’t working. It doesn’t look good.

“Every time they mend something in Poole, it seems to break within a few months.

“I would be hoping the borough has the design plans and specifications of all parts of that bridge. Surely any issues can be overcome?

“The strain on the old bridge will be massive now and on the road system during the busiest season.

“I want my residents to get answers to questions, sooner rather than later. 

“We should never have this issue again. It looks great in the upright position, looks great but has absolutely no function whatsoever.”

The bridge will be left in the upright position to enable marine access through the channel. In the event of strong winds, it will be lowered but remain out of action and re-lifted when conditions improve.