BEEPING horns could be heard as the first cars crossed the brand new Abbey Bridge in Evesham on Monday as it re-opened to traffic after a closure of almost six months.

Crowds of people gathered to watch the bridge re-open, which it did shortly before the announced time of 3pm.

While there were smiles from drivers there was mixed reaction from onlookers with some still angry at the delays which have plagued the project, being carried out by contractors Hochtief, with others pleased with the new look structure.

But all round was a feeling of relief and hope Evesham can now begin to get back on its feet after a tough few months for traders.

Victoria Barnett, of Cheltenham Road, said: "I am glad it's opened at last. Hopefully it is the start of good things for the town. It would be nice for Evesham re-establish itself as a successful market town."

Paul Lawson, of Honeybourne, was one of the most positive people on the pedestrian bridge.

The 31-year-old, who was also celebrating his birthday on Monday, said: "I think the features of the bridge look nice and interesting and I like the design as well. We have been coming and watching the progress in the wind and the rain."

Others were less positive after the initial closure planned to take just ten weeks was delayed seeing the bridge shut for just under six months.

Brian Marshall, of Hampton, said: "It's about people doing what they said there were going to do and they haven't.

"There is no reason for those traffic lights to still be in place. They have insulted people's intelligence by putting the lights in place.

"It's been hell to come down through here from Hampton even."

Others said they felt there had been a chance missed to contribute to the history of the town.

"It is just a functional bridge," said one onlooker who just gave his name as Jim, of St Matthews Close. "Where are the art deco arches? There is a lot of heritage in the town and it doesn't mirror that."

And there was more good news as Worcestershire County Council announced they would keep the 20p for three hours parking in short stay car parks until the end of April and both the alternative route and the subsidised bus fares would last until March 31.

Cllr John Smith said: "I am extremely pleased. The delays to the project over the last few months have been bitterly disappointing but, thankfully, vehicles are now travelling over the new Abbey Bridge and Viaduct, which will be in place for generations to come."