Security guards have been brought in at the site of a Northumberland landslip following reports of trespassers causing damage, putting themselves at risk and abusing workers.
Northumberland County Council has appointed security guards at the B6344 site near Rothbury, which has been closed since the slip occurred in December.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that the £7.5m repair project could be delayed by six to nine months by the need to advertise for a contractor at European level, and that the job is set to rumble on well into 2014.
The surface of the road at Crag End began to move on Boxing Day, before a section of the carriageway collapsed, forcing county officials to close the road. In June, the government announced funding would be provided for the scheme to rebuild a 300-metre length of the road.
But it has now emerged that security has been brought in at the site as people keep on trying to walk through it. A county council update on the repair process explains: “There have been many incidences of members of public, both on foot and bicycle, trying to gain access to the site.
“Despite the presence of substantial fencing and warning notices, the general public have continued to try and access the site.
“They have caused damage to the site infrastructure and there have been instances of verbal abuse directed at the workers when the trespassers are asked to leave the site.
“To ensure that they do not trespass and put themselves at risk, and to protect the valuable machinery on site, uniformed security guards are now employed outside of working hours and additional signs are being erected stating that there is no access to any members of the public.”
A spokesman explained that damage had been caused to fences, barriers and gates and added: “The main problem though is people putting themselves at serious risk of injury.”
County councillor for Rothbury Steven Bridgett last night said he had been stopped by a member of the public reporting they had encountered security guards when visiting the site.
He said: “There is a lot of heavy machinery on site. There has got to be a lot of expensive machinery there so it makes sense.
“People keep visiting the site and they do not realise it is dangerous.”
The update explains that access tracks are being constructed and that work drilling boreholes began on July 22 and is scheduled to last four weeks.
A six month period of monitoring will then be necessary, “to understand the relationship between ground water and the effects of rainfall,” which is expected to last until March 2014.
The council update also reveals that the value of the contract is likely to be above a threshold whereby the tender must be advertised across the European Union.
The update states: “The process to appoint a contractor in this scenario can take six to nine months.”
However, the authority says it is investigating ways in which contractors already appointed by other authorities, in accordance with EU procedures, can be approached.