THE blighted floating bridge can only operate during the end of regatta fireworks display tonight (Friday) with an escort of 'safety boats' on either side of the vessel, the County Press has learned.

Bosses at the Isle of Wight Council held an emergency meeting yesterday after mechanical issues forced another withdrawal from service of the troubled bridge.

The prow of the bridge is stuck and, following discussions with both the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Cowes Harbourmaster, a plan was drawn-up so thousands of visitors will be able to use the bridge tonight.

The plan involves two workboats escorting the bridge on either side during the evening but they will only be available from 6pm when the bridge is scheduled to resume running between Cowes and East Cowes.

On Wednesday, the bridge was halted for hours after it ran aground, stranding motorists and foot passengers on both sides of the River Medina.

Yesterday, Isle of Wight Council bosses called the emergency meeting to draw up the contingency plans after the bridge failed again because of the faulty ramp.

East Cowes councillor, Karl Love, said the fiasco and embarrassment could have been avoided if the authority had taken action to spend money when it first became obvious that there were 'significant operational and design faults' with the bridge.

He said: "The bridge required positive action and resolutions but we have seen nothing except dithering and empty unrealistic promises which clearly have not worked."