LOCAL people have criticised Highways England after it was announced work on the M27 will be delayed.

Work on the £19m Romsey Road bridge project was due to take place from January 10 until January 13, forcing drivers to face a 55-mile detour.

Highways England has confirmed the the project will not begin until January 31, due to issues with their “supply chain”.

Romsey town centre manager Mark Edgerley said: “I think it is appalling as we have spent a lot of effort already publicising the dates and they have not done the courtesy of telling us about the changes.”

Mr Edgerley added: “I am angry about this and we should not have had to ask for this information, which I saw posted on Facebook.

“It is nonsense and we have not got much time to tell people about this.

“We will do our best and we will have to take it on the chin, but they should give us a chance.”

He added: “At one stage of the works Highways England were planning to do it on the Beggars Fair weekend (middle of July) and that would have been a disaster.”

Councillors have also had their say.

Cllr Nick Adams-King, who represents Blackwater on the borough council, said: “It is really disappointing because Highways England has been very good at keeping people informed, but it is making a change like this at such short notice.

“We have all communicated with residents to tell people what is happening and here we are having to do it again, which is silly.

“I completely agree with Mark that Highways England could have done a better job and it makes communicating with people more difficult.

“It is not surprising they are behind with the work because of all the rain we have had.”

He added: “It also makes it much harder for people to plan things.”

Cllr Janet Burnage, who represents Romsey Cupernham on the borough council, said: “It is very poor, there was no apology from Highways England as they have just made a change without letting us know.

“Romsey in particular was most affected by the previous closure and they could certainly have emailed the town council and the borough council to let them know about the changes which are taking place.”

A spokesperson from Highways England said: “The date has changed to January 31, due to issues with our supply chain.

“Letters are being sent shortly to inform residents and stakeholders accordingly.”

The work on the M27 is set to finish at 5am on Monday, February 3.

As previously reported, the 55-mile detour will see eastbound traffic leaving the M27 at Ower and go through Romsey before joining the M3 near Winchester.

Motorists heading west on the M27 will also have to join the M3 and travel via Winchester, Andover and Salisbury before finally rejoining the motorway at Ower.

The M27 - used by 140,000 vehicles a day - will once again be shut in both directions between junctions 3 and 4.

During a second M27 closure earlier this year westbound traffic only had to travel as far north as Winchester before doubling back via Romsey.

Engineers have been spending months replacing the Romsey Road bridge, which carries the A3057 over the M27 near Chilworth.