THE county council hopes to have a central Cockermouth bridge open to pedestrians tomorrow, in time for a late-night shopping event, but cannot confirm until work has been carried out.

The historic Cocker Bridge, which links Main Street and Market Place, was closed at the weekend when cracks were spotted on the surface.

A spokesman said this morning: "Our intention is to get it open, certainly for pedestrians, before 5pm on Thursday but it's impossible to confirm that until they start getting on with some of the work.

"They are working on it as we speak. Given there's a lot of pointing work to do and they need to patch the surface of the road it might be optimistic to think it will be open to vehicles."

Inspections, including an underwater inspection, took place on Monday.

The council said yesterday it would undertake the following activities to allow opening of the bridge as soon as possible.

• Removal of large tree wedged against the upstream elevation of the bridge - this will require a dive team and a crane, located off the bridge.

• Our operations team will cut out a number of areas of carriageway surfacing on the bridge following completion of the tree removal operations.

• Patching works to be completed on carriageway surface.

• Repointing works to parts of the arch barrel will also be undertaken.

"Works will be dependent on ensuring the safety of workers in and around the river and are therefore weather dependant," said the spokesman.

"A road closure for vehicles and pedestrians remains in place with signed diversion, we will continue to update regularly."

Cockermouth businesses are working hard to prepare for the Spirit of Christmas, which will be held from 5pm to 7pm tomorrow. Shops and businesses will be open late and offering all sorts, from a glass of wine to mince pies and promotions.

The youth section of Cockermouth Mechanics Band will be playing carols on Main Street.