Fears that an accident will be ‘inevitable’ have been raised by concerned residents who say their village has become a ‘rat-run’.

Residents, councillors and businesses in Broughton have spoken out about safety concerns after the village is being used by motorists to escape a nearby road diversion.

Road surfacing works have closed the A594 between Papcastle roundabout and Netherhall Corner, with a diversion in place through Workington and via the coast road to Maryport, but people are instead using Great Broughton as a shortcut and there are fears that an accident is just waiting to happen.

Broughton parish councillor Claire Winter said: “We’re really worried about it it’s carnage. I have received several reports of people having to go into dykes to try and get away from the cars. There’s going to be a serious accident.

“People are frightened. The speed limit through the village is 20mph. We are urging people to stick to the 20mph limit. People just aren’t giving way to slow down. It’s a small village, it’s the summer holidays and a lot of children are not used to this level of traffic.”

Resident and parish councillor Sue Hannah added: “It’s being used as a rat run as the official detour goes through Workington. There is a weight restriction for the village. Yesterday one huge vehicle got stuck between a car and a house. It was more than 13 tonnes."

She added that traffic lights may be one temporary measure to slow the traffic down.

“Villagers should just continue driving at 20mph, which is the village speed limit, even if others are frustrated and tooting their horns,” Sue added.

“By the time they get through Main Street they are really frustrated so they speed up at Moor Row.”

Businesses said they were also being affected. Karen Hughes from Broughton Bakehouse said customers were unable to pull over anywhere to call in to the bakery.

And Rebecca Clarke, from Infinity Hair, said: “It’s terrible, horrendous, I nearly got run over on the way to the bakers. Our customers are not wanting to park because they are frightened that their cars will get damaged. I worry for the kids, I wouldn’t want mine anywhere near that road.”

Residents Bill Reay and Pete Oates said trying to drive out onto Main Street is ridiculous and it gets worse depending on the time of day.

Bill questioned why such large lorries are attempting to drive through the village when there are restrictions and said at 9am and 5pm it’s gridlocked.

Pete Oates, who lives on Main Street, described it as being like ‘wacky races’ at around 4.45pm and said there is a constant traffic stream.

He added that he is also having to stand in the road to stop traffic to enable neighbours to get off their drives.

Bill had concerns about safety for cyclists weaving their way through the traffic.

A spokesperson for Cumbria County Council said: “These resurfacing works are essential maintenance works and we have worked hard to put in place diversions that are safe and best placed for managing the traffic while this work is carried out.

"It is very disappointing that there are a number of drivers locally not using the official diversions and as such are using local villages like Great Broughton as rat runs.

"We would ask all drivers to follow the clearly signed and approved diversions and help us keep our residents, communities and other drivers safe while this work is carried out.”

Roadsurfacing works are expected to take three weeks to complete.