WORK on the troubled Sandbanks Ferry should be finished sometime this week, ferry bosses have said.

The Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road and Ferry Company, which operates the service, says the work is “progressing well” but upon completion “we will need to obtain the relevant approvals before we can restart the service.”

A spokesman for the firm also added: “We will update as soon as we have any further information.”

Currently, it is hoped the service will restart at some point this week.

The Daily Echo reported last week how small businesses in Purbeck were being ‘put at risk’ because of the ongoing issues with the crossing service.

An eagle-eyed reader spotted the ferry operating on Saturday, December 29 and said the service was “dropping off staff cars”.

Aside for two days last month, ferry services have now been suspended at the Poole Harbour crossing for the past 10 weeks.

Swanage Chamber of Trade chairman Caroline Finch said: “The closure has dramatically affected trade in retail and hospitality in the town.

“Swanage has been very quiet for this time of year. Shop owners are definitely seeing sales that have been significantly reduced while the ferry has been out of action.”

Residents have also been hard hit, with many having to drive the long way around through Sandford and into Poole through Holes Bay Road, which has also been affected by the major Hunger Hill junction restructuring works that were set to re-start today.

Firefighters were called to the ferry on December 21, just two days after the vessel had recommenced regular crossings following seven weeks of maintenance work.

They attended the Sandbanks side of the harbour entrance after the ferry’s fire alarms sounded, prompting an emergency evacuation.

The problem was later identified as a hydraulic leak, which generated steam and triggered the alarms.

These latest developments came just weeks after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling ruled against a proposed fare hike, which ferry owners had wanted to implement to cover the costs of a new £10.7m vessel.

A two-day public inquiry, which took place in Studland, heard from interested parties, including the ferry company, about the planned increase.

Campaigners claimed regular commuters faced an extra £800 a year hit if the proposals had been approved.