West Oxford residents have criticised Network Rail after it emerged the company will wait until next year to replace a popular footbridge into Oxford.

The rail firm closed a well-used 60-metre bridge in Osney Lane in August, telling residents that refurbishment work would be completed within a couple of months.

However, Network Rail has now posted a new sign at the closed-off site, saying the bridge, over the tracks south of Oxford station, will ahve to be replaced and will not be reopened until late February next year.

The news has upset dozens of residents, as well as workers at the Oxford Centre For Innovation in Mill Street.

Becky Bryan, 28, bar manager of the Kite pub, in Mill Street, said: "Everyone's really annoyed about this. There's lots of rumours flying around and fears it won't open again.

"We just want the footbridge back."

Joan Dellow, 74, who has lived in Mill Street her whole life and has trouble walking due to osteoarthritis, said: "It's a nuisance. It was a good cut through to town.

"I don't get about as well as I used to and it can be treacherous for me walking along Botley Road."

Richard Thurston, chairman of Osney Island Resident's Association, said: "For people living in Mill Street it was the perfect little cut through to Oxpens Road.

"I'm amazed they're allowed to shut up a public right of way for such a long time."

Kristian Alexander, community relations manager at Network Rail, said: "We acknowledge that for many this will be disappointing news. We're sorry for the inconvenience caused by this and hope our apologies will be accepted.

"High demand in the current steel market and the availability for manufacturing from steel fabricators means this will take longer than we would have liked."

Andrew Watson, 31, of Barrett Street, added: "It just seems a ludicrous decision."

Daniel Snape, 27, a finance manager at the SQW Group, in Mill Street, said: "I'm sure there must be some metal lying around for them to finish this work quicker."