FURIOUS residents and business owners are calling for the operators of the Sandbanks ferry to be stripped of their licence.

Technical problems mean the service will be out of action until October.

At a meeting organised by Studland Parish Council, those affected voiced their anger and said the Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road and Ferry Company is not fit to operate the service.

Council vice chairman Mike Boulter told the Daily Echo: “All present at the meeting said they have lost confidence in the ability of the ferry company to meet its obligation to provide a ferry.

“The ferry will be out of action for at least five months this year, damaging businesses and forcing residents and visitors to undertake lengthy journeys around Poole harbour.”

He said many of those who attended the meeting were “visibly emotional” about the effect it is having on them.

“We are going to write to the Department of Transport to ask them to strip the company of its licence and to put it out to tender.

“We will also calling on our local MP, Richard Drax, to support this and also lobbying Dorset Council to do the same” he added.

Ferry services were withdrawn on July 12 and users were first told it would not operate again until August 12.

But on Tuesday the company said it will be out of action until October because it is waiting for a specialist part that has been ordered from Sweden.

The ferry is currently in a repair facility in Southampton.

The company apologised to customers and said it is in “constant communication” with the manufacturers in a bid to speed up the process.

In a statement, the company added: “We are working very closely with the MCA (Marine & Coastguard Agency) and Lloyds Register of Shipping (our Class Surveyors for Insurers) to ensure all repairs are conducted to Class standards and specification.

“We do not anticipate being able to resume service until sometime in October. We hope to have a much clearer picture of the return to service date next week.”

The announcement is the latest in a series of setbacks. The ferry was not working for three months in the winter and there were further problems in June.When the Daily Echo asked for a comment from the ferry company we were told: “Unfortunately no one is available, all our staff are working extremely hard to get the ferry back as soon as possible. We have issued a press release giving as much detail as we can on the situation.”