A MAJOR route to the north of Ilminster may not re-open for another TWO years, it has emerged.

New Road, the B3168 which adjoins Station Road towards Ilton, was closed in mid-February amid fears it could fall down a slope when large cracks appeared in a 70-metre section.

Investigations have been taking place at the site and further along the route towards the bottom of the road, also known as Cemetery Hill.

But at a council meeting, Mayor Emma Jane Taylor said she has been told it could remain shut for “a two-year period”.

She told the News its’ closure is impacting the town like never before in the ten years she has lived in Ilminster.

She added: “There are definite indications that traders are losing business. People who relied on regular customers from Hambridge and Ilton, those people are now going to Langport because they can’t get into Ilminster and want to avoid the main road because of holidaymakers at this time of year.

“The analysis could come back by Christmas but they are not going to start work on the road over winter. I don’t think anybody realised when it closed how important the road into the town was.

“I think people would like to see what is going on and a clear timetable of what is scheduled. The fear in Ilminster is that we are just being forgotten as other issues are just being pushed in front. People fear that two years could become five years.”

Clinton Bonner, of Bonners Butchers, described the situation as ‘diabolical’.

He added: “You can build a hotel in the sand in two years – there have been rumours around that it will take that long but I didn’t want to believe them.

“Our footfall is down and with other road closures and one-way systems, the whole of Ilminster is being taken off the map.

“It has definitely affected the dynamics of the town – there is less of a buzz – and with Christmas coming up it is a worrying situation.”

New Road resident Ann Leontowitsch said she loves Ilminster but does not feel she lives in the town anymore as she has been ‘cut-off’.

She said: “The lack of information we get from the council is depressing – we just want to know what is going on. They could leaflet us – I’m not asking for a major confrontation.”

Traders in Ilminster are compiling figures in a bid to get funding from South Somerset District Council over losses to business.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said geotechnical investigations had been completed and laboratory testing of samples was taking place to help understand how to repair the road.

The spokesman added: “We have always stressed that this is a complex matter and we are very grateful for the patience shown by everyone affected.

“We are not in a position to give a finish date but please be assured we will re-open the road as soon as we can.”