VILLAGERS cut off from a major commuter route when a landside caused a bridge to collapse say it has had a drastic impact on their lives.

The collapse of the bridge in Ovington, Teesdale, County Durham, last month split the village in two and made it difficult for residents on the stranded side to access the main road out of the village.

Many villagers now face an extra several miles and half-an-hour's driving time for each round-trip to nearby towns such as Darlington.

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Hazel Watt, a chartered accountant who has lived in the village for 32-years, said: "I have been affected most drastically - I cannot get to the pub.

"I am the wrong side of the bridge and I refuse to drive an extra five miles to get to the pub. Why should I have to do that?”

Her frustration is shared by staff at the Four Alls Inn in Ovington, who confirmed the business had been affected by the collapse.

There are also fears for the village hall, where a Post Office operates twice a week.

Dave Dixon, 53, a member of Ovington Parish Council, said the closure had made the village hall’s car park inaccessible.

"It is an important source of income for us so we are worried,” he added.

On December 23, The Northern Echo reported how the stone bridge, which has a 7.5t weight limit, had closed for the second time in as many months.

A landslide on November 28 had resulted in a temporary closure, but the bridge was reopened as a single lane controlled by traffic lights.

However, heavy rain at the end of December caused the bridge to sink down an embankment and it has been shut ever since.

The village is accessible from the south via Hutton Magna, but traffic from Winston is being diverted via Caldwell.

Residents say heavy farm traffic, as well as lorries, which pass through the village to avoid accidents and closures on the A66, had put the bridge under strain.

A spokesperson for Durham County Council said an investigation was underway to establish the nature and extent of the failure that caused the slippage.

"Only when these works are complete will it be possible to draw up an action plan to determine when repair works can be undertaken,” he said.

The spokesperson said a “quick fix” was unlikely, but reassured residents the work would be carried out as soon as possible.