Fears have been raised about the future of the Maryport to Silloth road after serious erosion forced its partial closure.

Cumbria County Council highways bosses were forced to shut a 1.9km stretch of the B5300 on Wednesday after inspectors found the carriageway was less than three metres from the edge of the the land, next to a high drop to the sea.

Now people along the road fear the whole stretch could be at risk if action is not taken to protect it.

Whitehaven News: The erosion alongside the B5300. Picture: Cumbria County CouncilThe erosion alongside the B5300. Picture: Cumbria County Council

Allerdale councillor John Cook, who represents Silloth, said: "Everybody involved needs to get round the table as soon as possible.

"It's a vital artery to Silloth. It's going to affect the whole community. Very shortly the tourist season kicks in.

"I just hope that something's done sooner rather than later otherwise Silloth may as well not be part of Allerdale.

"It's not come out of the blue. It's been going on for years."

Mawbray Parish Council has raised concerns about the road for years. Vice-chairman Rodney Armstrong said: “We’re concerned. It’s such a lifeline for this corner of Cumbria. It’s not acceptable to just let it go.

“When the road’s shut it’s a long journey round the main diversion and that road isn’t good either.”

John Nattrass, owner of The Gincase farm park and tearoom at Mawbray, said: “The road is a vital link between Workington, Whitehaven, Maryport and us. It’s probably where the majority of our customers come from.

“During the summer it’s very busy. Nobody passes through Silloth. You’ve got to aim to get to it. The road closure is a reason not to go.

“Silloth and this part of the west coast needs as much help as it can get.”

Bill James, owner of Bank Mill Visitor Centre at Beckfoot, said: “There are weak places along the road. Every time the road’s closed it’s like an artery that stops the flow of blood. Traffic brings money and money brings jobs.”

Mr James fears he may have to let some of his staff go due to the latest closure.

Joe Kewin, of Allonby, said: “We are very worried. It’s such an important road. It would be nice if they’d look at the whole road.”

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The closure has prevented Ellenvale Coach Company’s 60 service running between Workington and Silloth. It is operating between Workington and Allonby only, but bosses have warned its future is in jeopardy.

Steve Newton, compliance operations manager for the firm, said: “At the moment the service is hanging by a thread. We don’t get any subsidy. If it makes a loss it’s no longer viable.

“We’re hoping to get a good summer this year but if this road’s closed in April and beyond we won’t recoup the losses we have made over the winter.

“I’m concerned about the future of the road. What’s to stop it happening again at any point on that road.

“They need to put measures in place to make sure it doesn’t happen, not just for us but for people living and working on that road. For the locals it’s a vital link.”

Workington MP Sue Hayman has already called for an urgent meeting with DEFRA minister Thérèse Coffey to prompt action.

She said: "We can't just leave communities to cope with coastal erosion without any financial support from the Government. This has been going on for years but nothing seems to have been happening to support coastal communities.

"There has to be come Government responsibility when the problem is out of the community's hands."

The county council is awaiting consent from the Marine Management Organisation to install rock armour and reinstate the bank at the dangerously-eroded stretch of coastline.

It hopes to have permission in two to three weeks.