LONG-AWAITED repairs to a bridge are moving nearer as council representatives consult experts to plan the work.

The Riverside Bridge connecting Chapel Street car park and Riverside Court in Halstead has been closed for more than five years.

Residents have been left wondering when the bridge will finally re-open.

It now appears the long-awaited work is moving closer.

Town councillor Andy Munday, who is in charge of a bridge repair working group, was set to hold a number of meetings this week.

He was scheduled to hold an exploratory meeting on Monday with a sealant repair contractor to show the scale of the work, get costs and agree repair dates.

On Wednesday, a second meeting was arranged with a metal fabricator to determine when materials will be ordered and arrive and then be fabricated.

Another exploratory meeting was arranged for yesterday with an on-site welder.

The council also plans future meetings about the concrete work and work beneath the bridge.

The news comes as talkscontinue to negotiate the transfer of the bridge from the Crown Estates to the town council. The move to complete the repairs was sped up after the Crown gave the town council permission to work on the bridge before the transfer was complete.

Councillor Andy Munday said: “At this point we can’t give an end date.

“We’ve been working really hard with local contractors and working with structural engineers to come up with a solution without too much cost.

“At this point we’re looking at the bridge parapet railings.

“There is also work to be done underneath the bridge with the piling but that is secondary.

“Hopefully by the next town council meeting we can give a better idea of when work begins. That is preliminary work.

“People will hopefully start seeing works in the coming weeks.

“I feel we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“We have a problem with the weather for example with painting the bridge.

“Structural work is possible, but the weather may not permit some things to be done.

“You can’t predict the weather.

“I’ve been working with local contractors to put together the plan for the work.

“The start of that preliminary work is imminent.

“After five years, we’re hoping the bridge can open soon but at this time there is no set date."