IT was a miserable, rain-drenched day in Milnsbridge yesterday.

But it didn’t stop traders and residents celebrating the reopening of the road which spans a key bridge.

The months of misery left the village feeling like “a ghost town” and led to 1,000 people signing a petition demanding the work was carried out more quickly.

The works have increased the load capacity of the bridge – bringing it up to the 40 tonne national requirement so that all vehicles are able to gain easy access to the area.

It is more than 120 years old and carries Market Street over the River Colne.

The improvements were deemed essential in maximising the bridge’s future use.

Mohammed Riaz of Milnsbridge News and Off-Licence said: “We have experienced a 40 % drop in sales, it’s been a nightmare. It’s hard to tell whether we will ever get all of our regular customers back.”

And mother-of-three, Hazel Shearing, of Crow Lane, added: “It’s absolutely fantastic. When I drove through on Sunday it was bliss.

“It has been really inconvenient, getting to and from work. There’s been a lot of bad tempers that’s for sure.”

Tina Evans, 56-year-old manageress of Hadfields bakers, said: “It has affected business a bit. The closure of the bridge shows just how much people need it.

“I have lived here all my life and that is the longest the road has been shut.

“Trade has been affected but it’s done now and hopefully we can start picking up business again.

“I feel sorry for the lads doing the work, people used to pick on them sometimes.”

Richard Hirst of Fine Country Foods said: “We have just been open a month so we started from scratch. People have been glad to see a butcher back in the village.

“Things are getting better every week. The general feeling from a lot of the customers was that business has been poor since the bridge closed. Hopefully things can get better from here.”

His colleague Robert Fox added: “I grew up here and didn’t leave until I was 24.

“I struggle to find a justification for what has happened.”

Workmen are still working on the bridge.

Kirklees Council says that it recognised traders and residents had suffered disruption due to the bridge’s closure but said it had tried its best to manage the problems caused once the 14-week programme of work began.

A spokesman said: “During that time there was a long spell of torrential rain which led to flood waters in the river and damage to the scaffolding under the bridge.

“That was a major setback to the programme, but we took steps to ensure the contractor employed longer working hours and extra resources to minimise the delay.

“We would like to thank people for their patience.

“The community now has a strengthened, refurbished bridge which has no threat of any loading or access restrictions in the future”.

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