REPAIR work is set to start on Poole’s Twin Sails Bridge next month meaning it could be back in operation before Christmas.

A legal notice has been issued by BCP Council warning that the Back Water Channel of Poole Harbour will be closed to all vessels which cannot pass under the bridge when it is in a closed position between Friday December 6 and Wednesday December 11.

It is understood that the bridge needs to be closed in order for the repair work to be carried out.

The notice says the closure is taking place under Section 17 of the Poole Harbour Opening Bridges Order 2006 “to execute works to the bridge structure.”

It adds: “The channel will still be available to low air draft vessels. The height clearance displays will show the available air draft.”

The bridge has been out of action since early August and is one of a number of factors causing travel woes to residents in the Poole area and beyond.

The Sandbanks Ferry was out of operation for 16 weeks during the busy summer months, only reopening on October 31.

Work on the Twin Sails Bridge was delayed by dredging work in the harbour but last month Graham Farrant, BCP Council’s chief executive, revealed that the parts needed to repair the structure had been manufactured.

They included the main bearing pivot pin, which weighs nearly half a tonne.

BCP Council closed the bridge in early August, after a protracted period where it had been operating on only one of its two lifting rams.

This came after engineers removed the bearing and large pin earlier in the year.

Even when the bridge reopens the council has warned it will not be fully operational because it will be running on a single cylinder.

Speaking last month, Mr Farrant added: “We fully appreciate the inconvenience and frustration of the Twin Sails Bridge being out of use. We would like to reassure residents that the council has been working hard to ensure the bridge is brought back into operation as soon as possible. We are dealing with a very complex structure that is reliant on precision engineering and located in the challenging working marine environment of the harbour.

“Our focus has been to ensure we get the necessary parts and parties involved all lined up ready to bring the bridge back into operation.”

He added: “The new parts required to replace the main bearing pivot-pin for cylinder one have been manufactured.

“These materials needed several months’ lead in time. The main bearing pivot-pin is made of high-grade steel and weighs nearly half a tonne, this combined with the ancillary parts and bearing assembly means the involvement of two tonnes of replacement materials. A spare bearing has also been fabricated.

“In order to repair the bridge as soon as possible and given the complexity of the engineering involved, all parties need to agree to the process prior to any works being implemented.”