Drivers looking to bypass a set of long-running roadworks are ignoring diversion signs and using unsuitable roads causing damage to a historic bridge in Kelvedon.

Last month Essex Highways announced it had taken steps to fully closed Hinds Bridge, in Inworth Road, as some drivers were flouting the weight restrictions in place during a set of essential highways works at the spot.

However, residents have now become concerned the closure is forcing heavy goods vehicles to use nearby Maldon Road as an alternative route, which is not suitable for large vehicles.

Damage has begun to appear on a bridge in Maldon Road since Hinds Bridge was shut, and residents say drivers are simply ignoring the rules and looking for the shortest route between Kelvedon and Tiptree.

Gill Belbin said: "I saw a low loader negotiate the bridge last week and then the day after saw a lot of damage to the bridge, which may or may not have been caused by this vehicle.

"HGVs are ignoring the signs, just as they did on Inworth Road, which led to cars not being able to access the road for weeks."

An Essex Highways spokesman said drivers should use the official diversion, which is suitable for all vehicles.

This takes traffic north of Kelvedon on the A12 to the A120 at Marks Tey before heading towards Copford and Stanway, then to Maldon Road, the B1023.

The spokesman continued said: “HGVs should not use Maldon Road, it is unsuitable, with a length limit as there is an angle on the narrow bridge where it has been struck and the parapet damaged.

"However, the bridge has been inspected in the last two days, and is not affected structurally.

"There are signs indicating the proper diversion, which is suitable for HGVs.

"It is hoped to reopen the road at the Hinds Bridge on 14th September, with traffic light controls and a speed restriction to ensure the safety of road users and engineers who will continue to work underneath the bridge.”