RESIDENTS say businesses will be put at risk if a main road into Steventon is shut for 10 months.

Steventon Parish Council says Network Rail has told it will have to close the bridge on high street for either five or 10 months to rebuild it.

But either way, councillors say it will cause “huge disruption” to the village and trade will suffer.

Councillor Robert Green said: “There will be a huge amount of disruption to Steventon.

“Five months at the shortest could put a lot of businesses at risk.”

Network Rail needs to rebuild the bridge as part of its £1bn electrification of the Great Western Mainline - installing overhead wires between London and Cardiff that it says will allow faster, quieter and more reliable trains.

Steventon is one of many areas that will face disruption while the work goes ahead. But traders are worried about what the road closure will mean for business – even if there are other routes into the village.

Steve Reeve, manager of The Fox in Steventon High Street, said: “It is obviously going to affect our trade, especially at lunchtime.

"About 90 per cent of people come in from Milton Park on that road and lunchtime is one of the biggest parts of trade. It is quite worrying in that respect.’’ To fit wires in, the company either needs to rebuild the Steventon road bridge or partially rebuild it and partially lower the track beneath.

Village resident Nick Thompson, 76, said: “The parish council has got to start demanding a temporary bridge from Network Rail.”

The parish council has said it will demand that Network Rail present it with detail of the plans by the end of March.

Network Rail spokesman Anne-Marie Batson said: “Steventon High Street bridge is a complex problem, as it is a listed structure and close to Stocks Lane level crossing.’’ She refused to say whether the firm was actually considering closing the road for 10 months, but said: “All options are still under discussion.”