LIVES could have been put at risk after a chicane over a village bridge was widened without permission.

Herefordshire Council is investigating after the incident, on Colwall Bridge.

Inspectors found one of the barriers had been moved back six inches, while bolts holding it down had been sheered off.

The chicane is reported to have damaged dozens of cars since its installation in December. But it is the only safe route over the structurally-unsound bridge.

Martin Jackson, construction project manager, was informed the week before last, while West Mercia police have also been told.

"We believe this may have been done on purpose, as the bolts holding it down had been sheered," said Mr Jackson.

"Because of the state of the bridge, there is only one narrow safe route across it. That's why it's essential the barriers are not moved and that traffic over the bridge sticks to this safe route."

Baffled Colwall Parish Council member Adrian Mealing assumed Herefordshire Council carried out the work.

"You would need some very heavy gauge equipment to move these barriers across," he said.

"We thought Herefordshire Council did it, because we know no-one in this village that has either the equipment or the motivation to do this."

Colwall railway bridge was closed last August amid structural concerns, dividing the village before December's re-opening.