DORSET Council has been forced to apologise after the parents of a disabled child were forced to carry him over a footbridge because they were unable to use the controversial crossing at Wareham Station.

The Echo understands that Sam and Stefan Cole had to carry seven-year-old Stanley in his wheelchair over a footbridge to cross the tracks last week. The pedestrian level crossing closes at 6pm each day because of a shortage of attendants to operate the gates.

Mrs Cole said the family had returned from a medical appointment in London for Stanley, who has cerebral palsy.

"After a long day, Stan was quite upset by that point, so having to bump him and carry him up and down the steps is unnecessary when there is a perfectly good crossing that doesn't need these massive barriers and a guard on them," she said.

Following a number of near misses the crossing has been branded one of the UK's most dangerous and can only operate with staff present. However, because none were there, the family was forced to use the bridge.

Executive Director, Dorset Council, John Sellgren, said: “We’ve been made aware of this unfortunate incident, which led to an ordeal for the family involved. No apology can be enough for the situation this family found themselves in at Wareham, for which we are deeply sorry and apologise.

“We know that the reduced opening hours of the crossing has been inconvenient, and we’ve been working hard with STM Security Ltd to recruit more attendants to get the crossing back to its longer operating hours."

He said that from last Sunday, November 24, the level crossing will once again have three trained attendants, enabling it to return to openings hours that cover the first and last trains of the day – seven days a week.

“We’re continuing to work with partners on a long-term solution to improve accessibility over the railway line at Wareham Station,” he added.