LONG-AWAITED repairs to an ‘eyesore’ bridge could be a step closer after a council got the green light to carry out the work.

The Riverside Bridge, in Halstead, has been controversially shut for more than five years after Essex County Council inspectors ruled it was unsafe.

The bridge links the Chapel Street car park to Riverside Court and its closure has been a source of frustration for many residents.

Halstead Town Council is currently involved in legal proceedings with the bridge’s owners, the Crown Estate, to buy the structure, which spans the River Colne.

Now it looks like the repairs are a step closer after the Crown gave the council permission to carry out work on the bridge, despite the handover not yet being completed. It was previously believed the council would need to acquire the bridge before it could conduct any of the major structural repairs.

Solicitors acting on behalf of the Crown contacted the town council with the news.

They said: “The Crown Estate cannot consent to repairs or remedial works being carried out to the property whilst legal proceedings are ongoing.

“However, we would also point out that it is highly unlikely that the Crown Estate would seek to interfere with any works carried out by an appropriate body that has the requisite power and ability to remedy the issues.

“Please note that any such works would be carried out entirely at the risk and expense of those executing them.”

It is hoped the Crown’s decision to allow work on the bridge before the handover is complete will speed up work on the crossing.

However, the council says planning for the repairs is being done by a working group.

The group is headed by former mayor Andy Munday and has been consulting a structural engineer and a local contractor.

It is still unknown when the major repairs will take place.