ANGRY residents living near the busy Scarborough to York rail line have protested about long delays to work on a bridge which, they believe, has cost taxpayers thousands of pounds.

Last October, scaffolding was erected on the 150-year-old Huttons Ambo bridge near Malton, and a large amount of engineering equipment taken to the site. But residents have now been told by Network Rail that the work will not resume for some months.

Murray Naylor, a former county councillor, said: “The amateur way the project has been organised and executed has resulted in considerable cost to the taxpayer.”

He added: “At a time when the nation is being asked by politicians to make serious financial sacrifices in the national interest, it affronts people to see public money being wasted by an organisation which seemingly is not accountable to Government or the taxpayer and is unable to control its costs.”

Mr Naylor, a retired engineer, has taken the delay issue up with Anne McIntosh, MP, Theresa Villiers, the Transport Minister, and with Network Rail.

Trains have had to slow down to just 20 mph over the bridge, said Mr Naylor. “This imposes further costs on Transpennine Express, the train operating company.”

The scaffolding was left in place from October to February and Mr Naylor said: “Thie was a period of 16 weeks. After the first five weeks the costs of its hiring rise steeply.”

Following the removal of the scaffolding, all equipment, which included portable buildings, telecommunications and stores were removed from the site but are expected to be brought back again when work re-starts, possibly in October, said Mr Naylor.

He believes the cost in the delay of the work being carried out has resulted in extra thousands of pounds above the original budget for the work.

An inspector from the scaffolding company had told him: “Network Rail should be ashamed and embarrassed by the way in which this project has been managed.”

Rachel Lowe, spokeswoman for Network Rail, said: “The work to the bridge at Huttons Ambo was a challenging civil engineering project on one of the most complex waybeam bridges.

“The support is timber and we are replacing that. The work was scheduled for last year to coincide with the Falsgrave, Scarborough to Seamer resignalling work.

“Operational issues on the first weekend, October 23 and 24, meant that the planned work had to be cut short. The work on the first part of the scheme has since been completed.

“The work to the track travelling towards York still needs to be carried out and will have to be scheduled at a later date. Some minor maintenance work has been carried out recently but the second phase of the strengthening work is still to be done.

“I would stress there is no safety risk to the public. The situation is being carefully monitored and managed.”