VILLAGERS have accused North Yorkshire County Council of delaying action to repair an ancient bridge which serves 12 homes.

Hebden Parish Council claims not enough has been done to protect the listed construction, which crosses Hebden Beck and leads to Brook Street.

Councillors flagged up the problem in 2013, pinpointing signs of damage including a dislodged stone and deteriorating tarmac.

They also sought help from Dr Diane Green of English Heritage, who reported, in April, that she was glad to see that a small amount of pointing had been done.

But she also said there were "slipped joints in the spandrels and parapets of the bridge where the stones are displaced at the courses and there are many open joints with the pointing cracking off them. The tarmac road is also broken in places, allowing water ingress".

Councillor Colin Hargreaves, who lives nearby, said: "If nothing is done soon, it's going to become a much more serious problem.

"We've been at this about three years trying to get the county council to get the job done.

"If it does get to a state where it can't be used, it will cause great difficulty for the people who live in Brook Street."

Parish council chairman David Joy said: "Something needs to be done. We are worried about its condition and the fact it serves as vital access to 12 houses."

It was built in 1630 and refurbished in 1757 at a cost of £4,000. Before the new turnpike road was built, it served as the main route through the village and across the beck.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire County Council said it scheduled highway bridges works in order of priority and Hebden was on the list for next financial year 2015.

"While we give the maintenance of listed structures priority over others, we must carry out works which are safety related as the higher priority, particularly at a time of significant financial stringency.

“The bridge at Hebden is in good structural condition, but some re-pointing work will be carried out during the course of the next financial year and the road over the bridge will also be surface dressed next summer,” she said.