A CAFE owner in Sandbanks says trade is “at a bit of a dead end” now the chain ferry is out of action again.

Zoe Lamble, who runs the Haven Ferry Café in Banks Road, relies on the footfall from ferry passengers, especially pedestrians. But what should be a busy period for the café with the Christmas holidays has now turned into a quiet spell.

The ferry’s operators said on Christmas Eve that service would be suspended “until further notice due to technical issues”.

It follows a hydraulic leak on Friday afternoon, which resulted in the fire service being called out.

The ferry had only resumed service the previous afternoon after seven weeks of maintenance work. In a statement the Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road and Ferry Company, which owns and operates the service, said: “Due to the severity of the problem, and the amount of work involved in checking these critical systems the ferry will not be back in service before the New Year, at which time we hope to be able to update further.”

Zoe said businesses on both sides of the ferry crossing were affected by the lack of footfall.

“We’re at a bit of a dead end without the ferry. I’d like to say that we don’t have to overly rely on it, but the passing traffic, the foot passengers, the dog walkers – it is a massive chunk of our trade,” she told the Echo.

“I would have expected this week to have been perfect for us with walkers, now the children are off and we’ve finally been forecast dry weather - but we’re choosing to close Boxing Day now when we’d normally be open. We do a great breakfast and there’s free parking in the winter, but people won’t come down here because it’s just a dead end. We’re hidden from the beach so you just rely on that footfall that goes over to Studland beach.”

“Unfortunately we have to swallow it, but as a small business that’s quite hard. It’s ok budgeting for one month of reduced trade, but not three.”

Zoe added the café’s other owner, Rob, lived on the Studland side of the crossing and had to rely on the alternative route by road while the ferry was out of action.

“He lives seven minutes away on the other side so it took him an hour and ten minutes to get to work, and he can sort of see the café from his house.”