THE economy is being hit by Bournemouth and Poole's "failing infrastructure", according to a business champion.

Dorset Chamber has called for action amid the ongoing closure of Poole’s Twin Sails Bridge and the Sandbanks ferry. Both are currently out of action at one of the peak times of the year.

The failure of the chain ferry's drive shaft, described as "unprecedented" by the owners, has forced the suspension of the service until October.

This followed a lengthy spell out of action last year, just days after returning from scheduled maintenance.

Meanwhile, the troubled Twin Sails Bridge – Poole's second harbour crossing – is also out of action until the autumn.

Engineers pulled the plug on the bridge after a fault developed on its remaining lifting ram on the Hamworthy side.

Now the chamber wants to see a long term vision for infrastructure in the area to avoid repeated instances of "severe disruption" for businesses and residents and help drive local economic growth at a strategic level.

Dorset Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “To have both the bridge and ferry out of service is a serious concern for business.

“Their closures are causing major disruption for businesses, as well as residents and visitors, with a knock-on impact for the local economy.

“Both the bridge and the ferry have failed before and infrastructure, transport links and congestion are a concern repeatedly raised by our members.

“It is absolutely essential we have a clear vision and ambition for the whole county for a strong infrastructure that provides a platform for business growth.

"We all need to work closely on building a stronger long-term vision for our infrastructure otherwise we will continue to be affected by these type of problems.”

Dorset Chamber is the county’s leading business support organisation. It is the only chamber accredited to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) which gives it the platform to lobby for change at the highest level of Government.

Mr Girling has contacted Poole Harbour Commissioners and BCP Council regarding the concerns of businesses over the ferry and bridge issues.

The Chamber will also be working with BCP Council on a conference regarding sustainable transport solutions.

Dorset Chamber has also raised these concerns as a member of the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board. The LEP has recently launched a new sub-group focused on strategic infrastructure.