PEOPLE in Evesham are up in arms at the "disgusting" state of the town's brand new Abbey Bridge.

Despite the much-delayed bridge over the River Avon finally opening in March, parts of it are still covered in scaffolding and cladding - causing furious residents to brand the situation an embarrassment to the town.

The £8 million project, undertaken by contractor Hochtief, began in March last year and was originally set to be completed by December, with a complete closure period of 10 weeks.

But despite being open to both traffic and pedestrians for the last four months, parts of the bridge are still to be completed.

Kim Dunn, who runs Bonk in Evesham and is chairman of traders group, Real Evesham, said: "I think it's disgusting. It's an eyesore and looks horrendous when you come into Evesham."

And Journal reader Eric Jones, from Evesham, said: "Why should there be a never-ending obstruction of plywood cladding, scaffolding poles, inaccessible pathways and closed stairways not far short of two years after the start of a job we were told might take 10 weeks?

"Why do I have to apologise and laugh-off comments from visitors to our home and town who ask if the bridge has been vandalised?

"For goodness sake can we have our bridge back?"

Hochtief says it has been waiting for "bespoke" handrails and that work on the bridge should be fitted in the next few weeks.

A spokesman said: "We have had the hand-rail specifically manufactured as it is bespoke for this project as required by the planning approvals and as such it has had to go through a rigorous design process.

"This has taken longer to process and get into fabrication than we had expected and it has been scheduled to commence this week. It is anticipated to be completed in two weeks after work has commenced.

"We are committed to giving the people of Evesham a quality product and that continues to be the case."

But Evesham's mayor, Cllr Charlie Homer, said: "The delays are unsatisfactory.

"As far as I know the people are trying to get this sorted and resolved as quickly as possible but it's down to Hochtief to deliver the project as expected and on time."

The ongoing delays in finishing the bridge have added to the amount that Hochtief faces being fined by Worcestershire County Council.

The total the contractor will be penalised currently stands at about £361,000 and is going up by a further £1,000 a day as long as the work remains unfinished.