A LARGE hole caused by excavations to tackle a water pipe burst caused major disruption in Blackburn centre.

United Utilities fenced off the hole on Darwen Street which was around 10ft by 6ft wide and up to 5ft deep in places.

At 8.15am yesterday there were chaotic scenes on the one-way street as drivers were forced to use the pavement close to Albemarle Bond Pawnbrokers and BBC Radio Lancashire to steer around it.

Blackburn with Darwen Council said that the road was closed earlier in the morning but it is believed one or more motorists removed barriers and cones blocking the route. Later in the morning the affected area was covered by metal sheeting to allow the road to re-open.

Water could be seen flowing from the hole and running down the side of Darwen Street in the direction of the Postal Order pub.

The disruption comes after complaints this week over a water leak in the town centre described as ‘Niagara Falls’.

Water was reported to have been leaking out onto Darwen Street outside Blackburn Cathedral and running past The Postal Order for ‘several weeks’.

Diversions away from Darwen Street are planned over the weekend via Montague Street and Barbara Castle Way.

A spokesman for United Utilities said: “Unfortunately due to the complexity of the repair and to avoid customers losing water supplies this morning, we could not complete the work and will be returning on Friday night to finish what we started.

“We can’t work on this during the day, due to the number of homes and businesses fed by the pipe and the potential disruption this would cause if the water went off.”

Canon Andrew Hindley, who is responsible for maintaining the cathedral. He said: “We reported the issue to United Utilities before Christmas. We’re concerned about the public safety of people coming to and leaving the cathedral.”

“This is particularly the case for elderly residents. It can be very dangerous for them.”