EVESHAM residents have been left facing more disruption as the ill-fated Abbey Bridge project encounters more problems.

They were told at the start of December that the rebuilding project, initially planned for completion by November, wouldn’t be finished until at least the new year. But over a few days over Christmas, a temporary on-site pedestrian footbridge had to be closed to the public for five days due to vandalism.

Contractors Hochtief carried out repairs allowing the footbridge to reopen on Boxing Day.

“The temporary pedestrian footbridge was closed between December 21 and 25 while it was being repaired following an incident of vandalism,”

said a spokesman for Worcestershire County Council.

“Hochtief arranged for their contractors to undertake repairs and the footbridge was opened as soon as it was safe to do so.”

Last week, the Evesham Journal reported that work on the bridge had stopped, and was unlikely to resume before the new year.

Concerned residents contacted the paper after noticing Hochtief workers were not at the site.

A spokesman for the company put it down to the industry shutdown over the holiday period and it was unlikely any work would take place on the bridge before 2014.

Then, the project was hit by rumours in the town that the company was having problems, a claim strongly denied by Hochtief.

The latest delay to the scheme caused outrage on the Evesham Journal website.

A commenter named Saucerer said: “What an utter shambles from our pathetic highways department.

Hochtief may be the contractor, but it seems clear that they were not project managed correctly or closely by the council’s highway engineers.”

The bridge was due to reopen in November after a 10-week closure, but after several delays, a date for the main route into the town centre to reopen has not yet been announced.

Meanwhile, a scheme offering half-price bus fares on all services in and out of Evesham town centre, which has been operating since September, has been extended and will remain in place until the Abbey Bridge and viaduct re-opens.