MOTORISTS face weeks of misery in the run up to Christmas, after it emerged that lengthy work on one Selby's busiest streets had been hampered by delays.

Councillor Steve Shaw Wright today said: "It's not at all ideal. What I think, you cannot print."

Drivers in the town should today have been celebrating an end to four months of inconvenience and disruption. Instead, gas maintenance work in Portholme Road which was due to finish today, will not be completed for a further three weeks.

That means further disruption for motorists trying to get to and from the Tesco and Morrisons supermarkets, Selby police station, or the Selby District Council offices.

Business leaders and councillors today lamented the further delays, saying they would cause chaos for Christmas shoppers.

Gareth Gordon, part of the senior management team at Selby Chamber, said: "Transco are going to be blocking the main arterial road to two of the main supermarkets in the town, coming up to the busiest period they are going to have. People are going to be doing their Christmas shopping and that road leads to two of the main supermarkets.

"Transco have caused Selby a lot of trouble with all the roadworks they have done over the past 18 months.

"It's a disappointment they could not get them out of the way. It's a bit of a let down.

Town and district councillor, Steve Shaw Wright, said: "It's not at all ideal. What I think, you cannot print. I am bitterly disappointed and I hope that there is some form of compensation available to traders within the town, if not the town itself.

"The contractors have had the support of everybody on Portholme Road. The district council reorganised its car park, Tesco and Morrisons put up with a lot and I cannot see why they are delayed."

The work, which was scheduled to last four months, began on July 25 and has seen various stretches of the roads closed over the past four months. Most of the road has been completed, but workmen are still working at the east end of Portholme Road at its junction with Park Street.

Polly Rourke, communications specialist for United utilities which is doing the work, said: "Unfortunately, we are not going to finish off until nearly Christmas.

"There are so many utilities under the road that getting the pipe in has taken longer than anticipated. We can only apologise for that."

She said: "We have had diversions in process, but there has still been a bit of congestion. We have been manually operating the lights at peak periods, but because we have had no option but to dig into the road, it has caused some inconvenience.

"We have got three teams working there now. It will certainly be done by Christmas. It was the full length of Portholme Road we were doing, and we have just got to finish off the connections, but it will take another three weeks."

Updated: 10:16 Friday, November 25, 2005