RESIDENTS are increasingly concerned following three accidents on diversion routes following the closure of a bridge.

Martin du Preez, 25, was one of the people involved in a collision on Monday on the back road which is used as a diversion route while Finchingfield bridge is closed.

The tree surgeon was travelling to Great Bardfield in his work van.

He said: “I live on these roads and use them regularly.

“A car got stuck in a pothole trying to turn around, and the side of the road has collapsed into only what I can describe as a sinkhole.

“This has been the second head-on crash there today.

“Imagine if it was horse riders or cyclists. They would have been killed without a doubt.

“People don’t understand how dangerous these roads are. I saw an 18-tonne lorry stuck trying to use it.”

Mr du Preez said the road is only single-track and is so muddy that it is difficult for vehicles to stop.

There are also fears 999 services will be unable to get through to emergencies because of the bridge closure.

Mr du Preez said: “If there was a fire on the Saffron Walden side of the road, the Wethersfield fire brigade can’t get through and would have to take a 25-minute diversion.”

He also said local businesses in the area are being affected by the closure of the bridge.

“When I went into the local pub there were only about three people in there, and the petrol station may as well have been closed,” Mr du Preez added.

“To any one who has opposed the temporary bridge for whatever naive and ignorant beliefs you have, you will be responsible for the countless accidents that are going to happen.

“You are going to be responsible for emergency services getting delayed stuck behind cars trying to fit through on the slip road.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “As with every other road closure, we designate and signpost an official diversion route, which must be suitable for similar vehicles to those that could use the closed road.

“If local or other drivers choose to find their own routes, that is their prerogative, but all the usual speed limits and common sense for driving on sometimes narrow rural roads should be observed.

“We are aware of one recent collision involving a van in the area, but have no information about the circumstances.

“Essex Highways engineers are working closely with Finchingfield Parish Council, Braintree Council and others to find the best way to manage the necessary long-term rebuilding of the bridge.”