Highways England has apologised after posting a tweet encouraging drivers to rat-run through villages to avoid congestion on the A303 near Stonehnege.

The comment was posted on Twitter, causing villagers living near Stonehenge to complain that the increased traffic from 'rat-running' put pedestrians lives in danger.

The tweet included a map, showing "real time" traffic on the A303.

It also showed Google's suggested alternative route, which showed it was quicker to travel through Larkhill, instead of continuing on the main road.

A Wiltshire councillor said he was "amazed" that Highways England was encouraging the A303 traffic to rat-run through "our villages" and was concerned about pedestrian safety in Shrewton, one of the villages in question.

Cllr Ian West said: "Highways have said the route has no strategic help to the A303, but the map appears to now acknowledge that using the route is a benefit to the over-burdened road.

"The problem is getting more serious by the day, and I am very concerned about pedestrian safety, especially on the London Road, High Street and other parts of Shrewton"

A Highways England spokesman said that the map was "never intended to suggest an alternative route to the A303", and had been used to highlight traffic in the area.

He said: "To avoid confusion, the tweet has now been removed.

"We would like to apologise for any confusion caused."