BUILDING work at a Melksham school has been slowed down after some slippery customers were found to have wormed their way in.

An ecological assessment of a field next to King's Park Primary, in Lowbourne, discovered the area was home to protected slow-worms, meaning building work can't begin until the wriggly tenants are evicted.

The school wants to extend its playground and provide extra car parking space in the field, but because of the abundance of wildlife in the development area, the ecological assessment had to be undertaken. Headteacher Netta Hemmins said: "We were not surprised the slow-worms were found because the school is in a rich environmental area with lots of different creatures.

"When the children come to school they often see hedgehogs, badgers and kingfishers, and although we are close to the centre of town it does feel like being in the countryside and it's a lovely location.

"Obviously we care about the environment and the animals that live in this habitat, but we hope another home can be found for the slow-worms then the work can go ahead."

An ecological surveyor employed by Wiltshire County Council carried out the assessment in May, but because the optimum time for moving slow-worms is in the spring, it was too late to do deal with them this year.

A spokesman for the county council said: "We are looking to expand the hard play area and car parking at the school on additional land, but there are ecological issues with the slow-worms.

"We are not anticipating it will cause any delay because there was no firm time scale set for the development anyway."

It is expected the slow-worms will be forced to relocate next spring when the move will cause minimum disruption to their way of life.

"As with so many things, it is hard to pin down an exact date for when the building work will start, but we expect to get underway once we manage to get the worms moved," said the spokesman.