HOME owners are living in fear that their properties could fall victim to a landslip as huge cracks widen in an Ilminster road.

A 70m stretch of New Road on the northern edge of the town, known as Cemetery Hill, has been closed for a week amid fears that it could fall down a slope.

Ilminster beat manager PC Andy Stuart said: “It will be closed for some time as there’s clear evidence that the road’s subsiding and is, therefore, dangerous.

“There are clearly visible cracks many metres long on both sides, some as deep as three inches and two inches wide where it’s falling away.”

Staff from Somerset County Council’s highways department have been keeping a close eye on the situation since the beginning of last week.

A spokesman said: “It’s being monitored closely and there has been more movement on the road surface. The road will remain closed until it’s safe to open it, and we can’t put a timeframe on that at the moment.

“Diversions are in place.”

Retired teacher Ann Leontovitsch, who lives next to the cracked section of road with her husband, said: “I phoned the highways department last Monday when there were small cracks and they’ve been out measuring it.

“They responded very quickly – I’ve been very impressed. “The cracks have widened, but the road’s still there so far.

“It’s very scary. All we can do is wait and watch the cracks get bigger.

“We’re obviously worried about our house, but our main concern is that we had a full tank of gas delivered at the beginning of last week.

“If the ground shifts the pipe will fracture and the gas is very flammable.

“I’ve been told if that happens a mile cordon could be put around us which would take in most of Ilminster and Dillington.”

There is deep concern over some motorists in vehicles as big as lorries moving or driving around the ‘road closed’ signs.

Mrs Leontovitsch said: “My husband had to drag me back in the other day because I was telling people off for driving through it.

“I really don’t want my house to fall down the hill and these people are being so inconsiderate.” Mary Mackay, who also lives next to the affected stretch of road, believes such drivers are making things worse.

She said: “Despite the police ‘road closed’ signs for the short stretch motorists just get out, move the signs and drive through.

“This may account for it getting worse more quickly, especially with lorries driving through – they’re heavy.

“I hope drivers realise they invalidate their insurance, never mind adding to the risk of landslip to homes directly opposite.

“Also, if the steep hill suddenly gave way they’d be at the bottom very quickly, probably not the right way up and certainly injured.”